Sunday, December 28, 2008

New Year's Follow Up...

Last year, I made some resolutions (link here), let's see how I've done...

1. I have been actively searching for a better job, but all have since failed to open up. Given the economy and number of businesses around my area that have closed, my only real hope is moving somewhere else, which I can't afford to do.

2. Wonders will be finished next year. This year has been a real low for me. Maybe it was my change in work schedule, or a lack of creative drive since I started living alone. I have also had issues with video editing software. Believe me, no one is more disappointed that the series didn't have many installments this year than I am.

3. Because I wasn't able to find a better job, the option of taking a trip to an Oz convention never opened.

4. Also, since that announcement to re-do the Dorothy and Ozma Productions website, nothing has happened...

5. All right, now this one is better! I have submitted a few news stories to the Bugle this year, and was asked to do some reviews, which I did. I understand one is in the current issue of the Bugle, which I am still waiting for in the mail.

6. That was too optimistic. In fact, over the year, once again, I and Sam Milazzo have re-evaluated our scripts for The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and have decided that we could make them even better. We've also been looking at ways to get the scripts actually filmed. Who knows? An independent international film company may just emerge from this...

7. With a few small exceptions, I have been consistently replying to e-mail from Oz fans.

I also did a few small accomplishments this year that I hadn't resolved to do:

  • I've made more international friends, and have been able to increase the number of contacts I have in the United States.
  • I launched The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Writer's World site for fan fiction, thanks to Jericho Mathew Bloom, who still has the server.
  • A bit of bright side on the lack of Wonders episodes: the time I was evaluating alternatives to Windows Movie Maker opened up new options for video effects and editing. I plan to use some of these in the final episodes of Wonders.
  • The purchase of a webcam enabled me to do a live show one night. (I'd like to do another one, but will wait until I have a better camera.)
  • Increased usage of Instant Messaging and using Skype opened up new methods of communication with otherOz fans.

Next year ("resolve" is such a strong word), I hope to:

  • Meet some of these people I've only e-mailed, instant-messaged, or "Skyped."
  • Improve my writing skills. (I know I'm not the best!)
  • Do more videos, with more original content.
  • Get better at Flash animation! (Anyone who read it, please consider my Enchanted Island of Yew animation to be indefinitely shelved, an idea to be dusted off when I feel I'm good enough at Flash to do it.)
  • Do another live show.

Have a great New Year, all!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A new video at last...

Merry Christmas. Windows Movie Maker is working for me again. More videos sooner than later!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Oz in the UK blog coming... sometime...

A United Kingdom resident who I've mentioned on the blog a few times has asked that I do a blog about Oz's UN-popularity in the UK.

Only problem is, I've no idea where to start... Help!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Other Good Witch Of The South...

I was looking up some Oz videos on YouTube, and ran across these clips from a stage adaptation of MGM's Wizard of Oz, with a twist! Glinda now has some company, Cinda, the Good Witch of the South!

Of course, those of us familiar with the books know that Baum never officially named the Good Witch of the North, while Glinda was the Good Witch of the South, but these are still funny!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Santa Caps

Well, I mentioned I did a capture of the 2000 The Life And Adventures of Santa Claus. Here is a video clip I edited out before I did a more final pass on it (I'm going to try to get the audio to sound better):

Here's a screen cap of the current version:

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Another idea...

JD: This painting of W.W. Denslow they used in this documentary looks a lot like Robert Carlyle...
AC: Really?
JD: That's it, I'm saving this shot... It's a nice example of enlarging 352 X 240 video to 640 X 480 video.
AC: Ah.
JD: But when I noticed that, I had to mention it to you. Here it is, if you care to see.
AC: He does look like Bobby a little.
JD: Yeah...
AC: Baum a little teeny bit, too.
JD: I noted both Baum and Denslow had similar features. They were also the same age.
AC: Hmmm.... (Genius at work.)
JD: But Den died first. Sad story, died broke, drunk, and alone.
AC: Hope I ain't his reincarnation.
JD: You could really do a whole movie contrasting the lives of these two.
AC: That would work.
JD: Baum died with enough money coming in to keep his widow supported, a cigar at his bedside, with his wife.

It might make an interesting dramatic narrative to compare the lives of two men who were born at the same time, grew up, became business partners, then fell out and they died in contrasting ways.

Now, who to sell the idea to?

Thursday, December 04, 2008

More On Santa and the Immortals

I want to remind everyone that the last two blog entries, and the pages I link to here, involve a lot of personal opinions from the people expressing them. Opinions in the matter of works of fiction are usually not wrong or right, they can just be fun to discuss.

Yesterday, Nathan DeHoff posted an entry in his LiveJournal about the Immortals in Baum's works and the Oz books. It was very well-written and covered several details. (LINK)

Also, the Books of Current focus log about the book is worth a read: LINK.

I have also recently FINALLY managed to do a VHS to DV transfer of the year 2000 version of The Life And Adventures of Santa Claus, so I might be posting some screencaps or a video clip soon.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Ranking of fairies?

In my last blog, both Bloom and I agreed that Queen Zurline of Burzee and Lurline were different characters. A comment suggested that maybe Lurline and Queen Lulea were the same character.

Possibly, as both were given the name "Fairy Queen." But, I don't see a reason to think they were the same.

In Baum's books, we're given several types of fairies...

Nomes, of course, count here as they are immortal earth spirits, unless they have a fatal encounter with an egg.
The Knooks count here as well, they care for animals.
Ryls, who look after plants.
The Rainbow and his Daughters should count, since they're sky fairies.
The Mist Maidens and Cloud Fairies also count as sky fairies.
We also must include Mermaids.
The Wood-Nymphs of Burzee are also fairies to their own extent. They are ruled by Zurline. They also figure in Eric Shanower's The Forgotten Forest of Oz.
The Sleep Fays
The Water Sprites
The Sound Imps (In The Enchanted Island of Yew, Prince Marvel summons messengers from the Sound Elves. It's very possible that this is the same race.)
We also have Demons, but not the evil kind the Bible teaches of. There are The Wind Demons, and The Master Key has the Demon of Electricity.
There are also Daemons, but this spelling refers only to the five found in A Kidnapped Santa Claus, the Daemons of Selfishness, Envy, Hatred, Malice, and Repentance.
We also have Light Elves who may be related to the Ladies of Light in Tik-Tok of Oz.
We also have the simply named Fairies in Queen Zixi of Ix who also live in Burzee, which leads me to suspect the unnamed Fairy Queen in The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus is Queen Lulea. These fairies seem to have human wards they care for, which would make them comparable to the fairies in Peter Pan, except much larger and they actually use speech.

However, in the Oz books, we also have Lurline, who, in The Tin Woodman of Oz is has a fairy band and is called Queen. In Glinda of Oz, Ozma says that she was part of the band of the Fairy Queen Lurline. All we really know for certain about Queen Lurline is that she made Oz a fairyland, when she passed over it.

I begin to wonder if Lurline is supposed to be the closest Baum got to a goddess in his books. In The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus, there's a mention of an otherwise-unnamed "Supreme Master," who could be Baum's take on God, or stemming from his interest in Theosophy.

I began to wonder recently about Lurline passing over Oz... Does this make her a sky fairy? Is she an elemental? Is her home on a cloud? Maybe the sun, or a star, or... the moon?

... Maybe that's why Tinker never came down...

It seems that there is the Supreme Master, Lurline, then the rankings of Ak, Bo, and Kern, and the smaller Kings and Queens and Lords. Unless Tititi Hoochoo is the Supreme Master, he should fit in somewhere above Ak, Bo, and Kern. He also has a host of Kings and Queens of just about everything.

... Bloom was right when he said it would be easy to make a religion based on Baum...

Monday, December 01, 2008

Santa Talks

Last year, I mentioned I had been discussing The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus with Matt Bloom. I also mentioned that maybe he'd let me share some of these chats. Well, he did, but I've waited until this Christmas to share them.

NOTE: These are edited versions of chat logs. Most of the editing has been done for clearer reading, and also to conceal parts of what was a private conversation, as well as keep a focus on the subject. My name is abbreviated as JD, Bloom's is JMB.

JD: Baum was more about telling stories than developing characters, wasn't he?
JMB: That's true, he was big on action, not detail. Well, in Oz, at least. There were other books he wrote where that was not true. Santa Claus comes to mind. It struck me as unusual for Baum.

Looking back, I wish I hadn't gone off a tangent about Baum's other "unusual work," but anyways, our chat was interrupted by a phone call to Bloom.

JD: I recently read a poorly researched article on "Life & Adventures of Santa Claus." Claimed it was Baum's least know book.
JMB: It isn't!
JD: I'd say that it's second to Oz.
JMB: Baum created the secular Santa, it's still known, if people realize it's Baum or not.

Unfortunately, I said something stupid again and went off in another direction.

JMB: I'm actually reading it (The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus) as we speak. Needed to borrow details in the course of my research, the story is referenced a few times. Haven't finished reading it through though.
JD: Definitely a point of Oz mythology...
JMB: I think so. I like to have my kids talk about Santa Claus as someone infallible.
JD: Any reference to the Great Ak in your book(s)?
JMB: Not yet, but I've got bits and pieces of Baumian lore all over the place.
JD: That'll be Oz-some. Some folks have called this one "pagan." Don't get why.
JMB: Really? You're kidding?
JD: Nope. Some people don't know Baum.
JMB: As a Jewish kid, this was the only implementation of Santa that made any sense.
JD: I think it makes better sense than say... "The Santa ClausE"
JMB: Good point. My mother hated this one too, same reason as Oz though. All the talk of nymphs and what not.

This topic went way off... We began discussing other Baum books, which led into other things. (Somehow, we even discussed religion...)

We did get back on how Baum affected the standard view of Santa...

JMB: There is no other single American author who has had the impact that Baum has, culturally. It's one of the things I think is very interesting about him, even the modern image of Santa Claus can be attributed to Baum.
JD: It's strange, though. Baum's Claus makes more sense, but the more common North Pole Santa is told of.
JMB: True, but the secular Santa would not exist, if not for Baum. North Pole or otherwise, he invented it. I mean sure, it's got other origins, too.
JD: But Baum was able to stabilize it.
JMB: Right. It's funny, I read an article from the 50's that called Baum and Lewis Carrol perverts of mythology, but only after praising Baum for ten paragraphs, that was just sort of the end.
JD: Weird.
JMB: It was weird, like the editor just sort of added it in
JD: And this was published?
JMB: Yeah!
JD: Sounds like poor journalism.
JMB: It's America, we invented it.
JD: America: The Great & Terrible... And We Mean TERRIBLE...
JMB: It's true. Home of everything bad and everything good.

Yes! We went into politics!

There was another rather fascinating bit about Oz and Afterlife, but I won't put it up yet as Bloom wants to use it in his books.

JD: Ever read of Baum's Daemons?
JMB: No, I haven't
JD: "A Kidnapped Santa Claus?"
JMB: Haven't read that in years, need to re-read
JD: I reread it earlier.
JMB: I wonder if Librivox has it
JD: I believe they do, and "Life & Adventures" as well.
JMB: That one I've read more recently, interesting note on that: it's one of the few baum books I've read that has nice long descriptions in it.
JD: I noticed. If you wanted Baum to do a grand myth, here it is.
JMB: I actually mention Baum's Santa a few times in my book, once with a brief biography.
JD: I noticed. Good mojo.

After that, I never used the term "mojo" again...

This next segment starts a little abruptly, but I couldn't include some of the ideas Bloom has going.

JMB: You can't really kill an immortal
JD: Beat the heck outta 'em, but they can't die.
JMB: Like fairies, they just keep coming back.
JD: You can't keep a good immortal down.
JMB: So true, especially an interesting one
JD: Wait... Oh, never mind.
JMB: ???
JD: Baum did make bad immortals.
JMB: Like all his other creatures, good and bad.
JD: The Awgwas, not immortal. Daemons of the Caves, definitely.
JMB: Well, they are demons, but I think Baumian demons can be killed.
JD: Not the ones in "A Kidnapped Santa Claus," Claus says so himself.
JMB: I haven't read that one yet
JMB: Man, what time is it?
JMB: Feels late! My clock is probably wrong.
JD: I thought it was earlier than that!

Yeah, we once decided we'd both head off to bed at 4:30 AM... You get two Baum nuts jawing away and time loses all importance... As long as we have coffee.

'Twas the day AFTER Christmas 2007, and we were Instant Messaging again...

JD: Hey, did you see this?
JMB: Ah, a solution to the age old quandary: how does a fat man climb down a chimney without getting stuck? He's quite thin.
JD: In this, he doesn't. He's neither fat, nor does he use the chimney.
JMB: He sort of did
JD: Must be something Ak taught him to do.
JMB: Yeah, that's probably the most developed Santa myth, and not just because I like Baum.
JD: Baum pwns all.
JMB: The North Pole Santa isn't very well thought out.
JD: Admittedly, you are correct.
JMB: Baum's vision actually makes sense, and it's far more mystical.
JD: There's dozens of variations on the mainstream Santa myth. Baum's is more straightforward.

We rather repeated what had been said before, but I did wind up leading the conversation this time. (And check that video link.)

JD: For some reason almost no one gets it [that Lurline and Zurline are seperate characters].
JMB: I know, and they try to combine them.
JD: I say, don't do it.
JMB: They're clearly different characters.
JD: In fact, Baum left two more types of fairies he never explored.
JMB: which ones?
JD: Well... Ak rules the nymphs, Baum explored that in "Life ... of Santa Claus."
"But in the center of the circle sat three others who possessed powers so great that all the Kings and Queens showed them reverence. These were Ak, the Master Woodsman of the World, who rules the forests and the orchards and the groves; and Kern, the Master Husbandman of the World, who rules the grain fields and the meadows and the gardens; and Bo, the Master Mariner of the World, who rules the seas and all the craft that float thereon. And all other immortals are more or less subject to these three."

So, what of Baum's other fairies, ruled by Kern and Bo? Although... Perhaps Bo rules the mermaids and the sea serpents as well.
JMB: Perhaps Kern is synonymous with "Father Sky," or Bo would be more likely, mythical roots of the name. Sky gods often had named starting with Bo or Ba.
JD: Huh... Interesting...
JMB: You know, I hate to say this...
JD: ???
JMB: ...but it would be easy to come up with an Ozite religion based on this stuff, if religion wasn't such a bad idea in Oz or for Oz.
JD: Nuts... Baum didn't want to mix Oz and religion.
JMB: It's hard to do it without religion.
JD: The most that ever happened was a church in Dainty China Country, and Cap'n Bill talking about God's forgotten blessings in "Magic."

And well, there we go... We touched on several subjects that might make excellent public discussions. Food for thought!