Saturday, January 31, 2009

Returning to Oz with the Tin Woodman

So, recently, Hash Inc. has put their animated version of The Tin Woodman of Oz online for viewing at YouTube. Now, I would review it here, but I've already discussed my feeling elsewhere. I'll link you to the thread I announced it on at the International Wizard of Oz Club's Message Board, F. Douglas Wall's review, and Nathan DeHoff's two LiveJournal entries about it. (Link 1) (Link 2)

They've since made it known they will release a DVD of the movie. It sounds like they will put the finishing touches on it, and there's even word they'll adapt "The Scarecrow of Oz" as a sequel.

Now, if you follow my other blog, you'll see, reading-wise, that I've done a lot of non-Oz reading, climaxing with A Lion Among Men, which I try to think of as not an Oz book at all, no offense to Maguire, but I have my own view of Oz in mind, and Maguire's is nowhere near it.

I mentioned sometime back that after I was done, I'd treat myself to a real Oz book. I had thought I'd try to buy a new Oz book I'd never read before, but my reaction to Hash's take on The Tin Woodman of Oz made me want to re-read the book.

Now, keep in mind that I've read a lot of non-Oz books recently for adults, and managed to decide what I liked and disliked about each author. Coming so soon out of these, I found myself evaluating Baum the same way.

Now, this book could arguably be the last Oz story Baum actually wrote, as he had prepared The Magic of Oz and Glinda of Oz some time before, for two more Oz books, should anything happen to him. (Which did, as both of those books were published posthumously.) I'm unsure how early he'd written them.

Anyways, the point here is that Baum now finally had his Land of Oz better planned out than at any other time in his life. And upon reading Tin Woodman, it shows! Baum really weaves a tale, that is well-written (though this book does have inconsistencies with some of his earlier books), and while it's too fantastic to be believed, you wish it was true. He really was a historian.

I've pointed out that Baum had a penchant to satirize the types of stories he was writing within the story, and as this is a romantic fairy tale of sorts, he doesn't do any exception here. A former lover in shining armor (or in this case, a shiny body), braves many hardships and dangers for his love. And they all live happily ever after... Right? Well, yes!

The Tin Woodman is visited in his castle by Woot the Wanderer, who asks why he is made of tin. The Tin Woodman obliges and tells the story we heard back in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, now expanded, and altered slight. In Wonderful Wizard, the Tin Woodman's former self (later named Nick Chopper) falls in love with a pretty munchkin girl, but the old woman she lives with disapproves of the couple, and has the Wicked Witch of the East cast a spell on the woodman's axe to make him have accidents. The woodman has his old body parts replaced with tin, until he is made of tin, but alas! he now has no heart, and cannot love the munchkin girl. Later, he gets caught in a rainstorm and rusts until he is rescued by Dorothy and the Scarecrow.

In Tin Woodman, the munchkin girl has a name, Nimmie Amee, and the woodman is now called Nick Chopper in the story. She lives with the Wicked Witch of the East, which is a better storytelling device, and the story of the enchanted axe and the accidents that accompanied it are expanded upon. After becoming the Tin Woodman, he set out to find a heart, but rusts in a strange forest, where he remains until rescued by Dorothy and the Scarecrow. Both stories are in all essentials the same, but the version in Tin Woodman is the better one.

Woot and the Scarecrow encourage the Tin Woodman to seek out Nimmee Amee and offer her a marriage proposal. The three set out, and face an odd series of adventures, first invading a country where the people are made of rubber and inflated like balloons.

Next they encounter the giantess, Mrs. Yoop, who transforms them into animals. In this adventure, they are joined by Polychrome, the daughter of the Rainbow, who has been turned into a canary. They escape Mrs. Yoop's castle and have run-ins with a jaguar who tries to eat Woot, a family of dragons that Woot must escape from, and Tommy Kwikstep, a boy with twenty legs. They reach the home of ex-General Jinjur, where they are met by Dorothy, Toto, and Ozma, who manages to break Mrs. Yoop's enchantments.

I noted that however much Baum makes his girls the leaders, they are still girls. Take this excerpt:
Dorothy wanted to go, too, but as the Tin Woodman did not invite her to join his party, she felt she might be intruding if she asked to be taken. She hinted, but she found he didn't take the hint. It is quite a delicate matter for one to ask a girl to marry him, however much she loves him, and perhaps the Tin Woodman did not desire to have too many looking on when he found his old sweetheart, Nimmie Amee. So Dorothy contented herself with the thought that she would help Ozma prepare a splendid wedding feast, to be followed by a round of parties and festivities when the Emperor of the Winkies reached the Emerald City with his bride.

Yes, Dorothy and Ozma are already making wedding plans.

The four continue, being joined by Captain Fyter, who turns out to be Nimmee Amee's second lover after the Tin Woodman disappeared, and met with a similar fate as Nick did. The two decide that Nimmee Amee will choose her husband from between them, and they meet Ku-Klip, the tinsmith who gave them their tin bodies. He tells them of Chopfyt, a man he made of their old body parts who worked for him, until Ku-Klip let him go.

The scene in Ku-Klip's shop is one of Baum's most amusing scenes, for in a cupboard, the Tin Woodman finds his old human head, still alive and self-aware, but has become cross and disagreeable, and manages to be very rude to himself. Because of the two, Baum now touches on the matter of identity. There are two living entities, but can they be called the same person? Chopfyt confuses the matter even more, being made of the remaining parts of Nick Chopper and Captain Fyter. Is he one of them, or both, or a new person entirely?

Another item in Ku-Klip's shop reveals that maybe the Wicked Witch of the East wasn't as bad as the Wicked Witch of the West. The country seems to be well-maintained (though, as revealed in Wonderful Wizard, the Yellow Brick Road to the Emerald City was left to disrepair, making passage to there, and possibly out of the Munchkin Country, very difficult and maybe impossible), and Ku-Klip tells how she glued his finger back on when he accidentally cut it off, asking for seemingly no payment at all. Maybe she kept her people where she liked, but she wasn't too cruel.

The travelers come across a place that makes them invisible to themselves and each other, and the tin men end up denting each other badly. During and after their adventure in this place, they meet a Hip-po-gy-raf who will help them along if the Scarecrow will sacrifice his straw. The Scarecrow eventually does. Shortly after, they meet the Swynes, a married couple of pigs, who let them stay the night outside their home, giving the travelers free use of a sack of straw.

The Swynes are another inconsistency. They claim to be the parents of the Wizard's nine tiny piglets, who the Wizard has with him in Dorothy & The Wizard in Oz, but in that book, he says they came from the Island of Teenty-Weent, where everything is small. It would take quite a bit of imagination to explain how, if the Wizard was lying (or had concocted the story to keep Oz a secret and told it out of habit, or if he had begun to believe it himself), the piglets remained so tiny while they were outside of Oz. Early stunted growth, somehow?

Finally, they find Nimee Amee, who they find has happily married Chopfyt, in one way, marrying both Nick and Fyter, and in another way, married neither.

Polychrome then returns home, and the remaining three get to the Emerald City. Woot disappears from the story here, and we discover that the Tin Woodman and Captain Fyter are both content with their lot. Both just felt they were doing their duty by Nimee Amee and didn't truly love her anymore, but would be kind husbands to her anyways.

Really, this story needed to happen a lot sooner after The Wonderful Wizard of Oz than it did. If it wasn't for the presence of Dorothy and mentions of events and characters (including Polychrome) after The Marvelous Land of Oz, it could have taken place at any time after that book. It's really the sequel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz needed, as it finally ties up one of the loose threads that was left hanging from that story.

So, did I enjoy my first real Oz book after all of those more "adult" books? Yes! And I'm sure I appreciated it even more because of it.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Wonders - Judy Garland Special

This is a "special" episode about Judy Garland. It was going to be part of the upcoming Wonders 12, but I decided I had more than enough material to cover in that one. Still, as there had been requests, I asked Aaron Pacentine (who is a Judy Garland fan) to come up with a biography. Well, he read from Wikipedia, but he got one recorded...

This took awhile, because I have no great admiration for Judy Garland (nor hatred, but that's beside the point), and as I hadn't written or overseen the dialogue, I had to find matching pictures on my own. (Thank God for Google Image Search.) I did want to close with Judy singing "Over The Rainbow," but as Warner Music Group owns most if not all of the Garland discography, and they've recently decided they don't want their content on YouTube, I was unable to. (I discovered this before adding any of Judy's music.) Sera Alexia, who volunteered an introduction for the episode, suggested I use a fan-made instrumental version of "Over The Rainbow," and linked me to one. I would love to credit the artist, who gave me permission to use their version, but they also asked to remain anonymous.

*Sigh*... Now, onto Wonders 12, "The Wonders of the Land of Oz," and then the finale...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A bit about adapting Oz...

I haven't blogged about my ongoing writing of the ultimate "Wonderful Wizard of Oz" screenplay in awhile... Well, longtime blog readers will know that I have been working on it with Sam Milazzo, a fellow Oz fan in Australia. I want to clarify that while Sam and I share all of our ideas with each other, we are not collaborating on a script, we're writing separate scripts that we hope to combine one day.

One of the biggest problems you can have when adapting a book like this is when you're a fan of it and appreciate how it was written so much. Adapting a story to another medium (with a few exceptions) always requires some changes, and when you love the original, it's hard to make yourself do them when they need to be done.

I've noticed that Sam is better at writing adventurous and exciting action scenes, while I seem to handle the "humanizing" of the story better. That already was the first requirement for me to alter, add, or reluctantly omit certain items. I've asked questions like: "Why is Uncle Henry so dismal at the beginning of the book?" "Why do Aunt Em and Uncle Henry seem so detached from Dorothy?" "Would Dorothy's friends she meets in Oz really get along together so well right off the bat?"

One chance that presented itself was to make the Winkies stronger characters. This called for completely re-arranging the main events in the chapter "The Rescue" (or "How The Four Were Reunited," though whoever did that title forgot Toto) and placing them earlier in the story. It also gave a chance to create a "lead Winkie" character.

One change that I made was obvious: I used the Tin Woodman's origin from The Tin Woodman of Oz instead of the version in the original book. By doing that, you remove the character of the old woman that Nimee Aimee lived with and simply have the Wicked Witch of the East, who, save for this, doesn't get any screen time, except for her feet. Also, the later version is more dramatic and is easier to put a brief romance into, making Nick's loss of his heart all the more tragic. And believe me, I made it TRAGIC.

I've been weighing options to actually make the movie, the easiest option that presents itself is animating it, but believe me, I'm not up to doing an animated movie myself, so I'd have to ally myself with some good animators and voice actors, and we'd also need all the sound effects and music. However, Sam is not keen on doing it animated, and honestly, neither am I.

There's also the possibility of doing it as an independent live action film, which would be more costly, but with the funding and right talent, it could be done. Sure, our dream cast lists would have to fly out the window (though I actually want to cling to my Scarecrow choice as much as possible!), but if the end result is a quality film, it's worth it.

But first... We need to finish the script!

Monday, January 26, 2009

A Lion Among Men

I'm going to warn you now, if you love Maguire's work, you probably won't like this blog...

So, I finished reading A Lion Among Men today. This is the third of what is currently going to be four books in "The Wicked Years." I've read the first two, Wicked: The Life & Times of the Wicked Witch of the West and Son of a Witch. Because of this, I had mixed feelings about Lion. I didn't really like Wicked, the biggest reason being it was one of the first heavily adult novels I'd read, and another being I love Baum's Oz, and felt that Maguire ruined it. When I read Son in 2005 (about three or four years after my reading of Wicked), I surprisingly enjoyed it. Probably because Maguire rarely dealt with Baum's characters and used his own.

Now, when I started Lion, I'd finished reading a number of books for adults (and all of them non-Oz), so I'd given myself a better-rounded idea of the intended audience of Maguire.

Lion begins with the maunts in the Cloister of Saint Glinda trying to put Yackle to her rest. Her body won't die, but she wants to. Brrr, the Cowardly Lion, arrives on the scene, asking for information about Elphaba and the Grimmerie. In return, Yackle asks Brrr to reveal his story about his life. Brrr does, revealing a life of crushed hopes and utter failures.

Also, we learn more about the Time Dragon Clock, which featured in key scenes of Wicked, but was absent from Son. Introduced is a young woman who is with the band who takes care of the Clock, and I immediately guessed at her identity: she was Nor, the girl the titular Liir initially looks for in Son, who is his half-sister; Candle, the female lover of Liir who disappears after giving birth to a baby at the end of Son; or a resurrected Elphaba. One of my guesses, and the one I thought was most likely, was correct.

Overall, I didn't really enjoy the book. I knew what to expect from Maguire, but I found his writing style to be dry. It was an interesting story, it comes to a nice conclusion, but it almost felt as if it was told without the author having a real interest in the story. Really, I can't recommend this book for anyone who hasn't already read the first two, which aren't too high on my recommendations list anyways.

Opinions expressed here are solely those of Jared Davis and were shared with no one prior to this posting.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Packing Up, Moving Out

Well, next month, Tripod will be closing, so the Dorothy and Ozma Productions website, which has been up about four years or so there, will be history, though you'll probably still be able to access what content there is there on the Wayback Machine of

So, I've just made sure all of my files from that site are backed up, and now I'm looking for a new way to do the site.

If you want to let me know about other hosts I could use, go ahead, though I'm already looking into one. My plan is to do a new website, not specifically Oz, though there will be a large portion devoted to it. Salvage-worthy content from my other lesser-known websites will be on the site, along with some surprises.

One will be that I am seriously considering hosting the videos I have that are currently on YouTube, and in fact, not posting Oz videos on YouTube anymore. That will take some work, but it should be doable. (I've already backed up my current YouTube videos to a CD-ROM, yep, the file size of them all was about 680MB. So, I already have them in the nominal FLV format.) This would include all of the Wonders series.

I'm even considering, once I get this set up, removing my videos from YouTube and either closing the RoyalKidofOz account, or start fresh with new, original material. (Though I do have another channel for this...)

So, I'm looking out of the range of free hosting... I should probably get an Amazon affiliate set up to help out there...

I'm also going to go ahead and say I've been toying with the idea of doing a podcast, which would be a feature of the entire site, and would have some interviews that, while the central focus may not be Oz, should prove interesting to Oz fans. A good site would be a good step into doing this.

Here is the link to my old site: Right now, I'd welcome comments and suggestions about how I should do a new site. (Where's Matt Bloom when you need him? Right, somewhere in Kansas...)

Oh, but rest assured, I'll still blog here, unless Google decides they don't want to host blogs anymore...

EDIT: Okay, it seems my news about Tripod closing actually applies to Canadian servers only, but I'll still proceed with my website migration, as it's something I've needed to do for a LONG time...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

More Reviews Coming Soon!

Okay, so I've ordered (actually, I did it last Saturday) the first two issues of Eric Shanower and Skottie Young's adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and The Land of Oz: The Manga - Return to the Emerald City #1. They should be in the mail now,

Also, I have A Lion Among Men from the library, but haven't started, as I'm still reading Lucky Man, Michael J. Fox's memoir. (Why don't I put one aside for the other? BOTH are library books!)

When I get to reading, expect some reviews... After all of them, I'm promising myself to read a nice, REAL Oz book.

And I'm still waiting on the latest Baum Bugle!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

My first actual Oz animated character

Here's an animated version of the Ork from The Scarecrow of Oz. I drew it with a grease pen, scanned it in, traced it over, and colored it. Now to get it to work in Flash so it can move across the clouds of Oz in an animation I'm working on:

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Winkies 09, will I be there?

Okay, the International Wizard of Oz Club (more specifically, David Maxine, who is heading it up this year) is already heavily promoting the Winkie Convention for this July.

I've wanted to go to a Club Convention, pretty much to meet people IN PERSON who love Oz as much as I do (I have no Oz friends here, and no one in my family is interested like me), and I'd like to go to Winkies, because there are people who usually attend who I'd love to meet. (Eric Shanower and Eric Gjovaag come instantly to mind.)

Only problem the last few years has been money. If I had the money to go, I couldn't afford the time off of work. But this year, with some luck, it might finally be my year! (Noting that I said that last year. I'd keep my fingers crossed, but it'sw hard to type that way...)

Money might not be the big issue, though. My sister is getting married six days after the convention, but if transport works out, that should be no big issue, as I'm not in the wedding. (Not yet, anyways.)

With any luck, I'd have a definite answer by the end of February. I hope so! (Some other big plans for me also ride on this hopefully lucky break...)

By the way, here's a photo of my sister and her fiancee. Her name's Audrey, and his name is Shaun O'Donnell:

(Yes, they are awesome.)

Monday, January 05, 2009

A Revelation

Sera Alexia: Do Ozma and Ozga have a Baum reference to their names?
Ma ud
Ga ge
Jared Davis: ...
Sera Alexia: Right?
Jared Davis: I never thought of that! WOW!

Floored in an IM session... A facinating theory that Baum may have derived the names of Ozma and Ozga from the first and last names of his wife.

This was brought up to me by Sera Alexia, who has an Oz fansite here: (LINK), and also writes fan fiction at my site: (LINK) as "Sera."

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Religion in Oz

A religion is a set of stories, symbols, beliefs and practices, often with a supernatural quality, that give meaning to the practitioner's experiences of life through reference to an ultimate power or reality.

All right, people said last month that they thought Oz had a religion. I must ask now where it is.

In L. Frank Baum's Oz books (I'm not evaluating the whole Famous 40, just Baum's work), we never see a church or a place of worship or temple, with the exception of a china church that the Cowardly Lion breaks in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in the brief misadventure in the Dainty China Country.

After reading over Baum's life, I believe he was unsatisfied with organized religions. He and his wife registered as Theosophists, though how firmly Baum held to these beliefs is up in the air. Certainly we see some of it in his writings, mainly that everything has a fairy guardian or some magical being connected to it. In "Laura Bancroft"'s Twinkle's Enchantment, we even find a live rock.

My personal opinion about Baum's beliefs in his works is that he was entertaining his audience, not preaching to them. He even let his own sons choose to believe what they wanted, instead of forcing his beliefs on them. Really, I begin to think that Baum may very well have been closer to being Agnostic.

In Oz, it seems we do have a goddess of sorts, as Lurline the Fairy Queen is credited with making Oz a fairyland and making people live forever. But while Lurline is known in Oz, and likely respected, we are never given any indication that anyone worships or prays to her. Here we do have one aspect of religion: there are stories about Lurline in Oz.

As for symbols, Baum never mentions such an item in his text. Neill's Oz insignia (the famous Z enclosed in an O) comes to mind, but Baum never designed it. (In fact, it's earliest appearance in Ozma of Oz contradicts how Baum describes it.)

Now, as for beliefs, we're not told that anyone in Oz doesn't believe in Lurline or fairy magic. For them, magic is commonplace, and they have Ozma (who says she was part of Lurline's band) to remind them of Lurline's existence. While they do believe in Lurline, very much it is believing she exists. It's similar to believing someone you've only e-mailed once or twice exists.

As for practices, we are never told that there are any practices people in Oz do to please Lurline or become closer to her. We are told of practice in magic, which could be interpreted as religious acts, including rites (motions and magic words) during the act. I rather feel that this is to accomplish something rather than a religious act, but I also feel this is up for personal interpretation.

Just as there are no churches or places of worship in the Oz series, we are never told that Ozma or Glinda (or anyone else) do obeisance to Lurline or any other higher power or deity. The closest Baum had to mentioning God in any of his Oz or Oz-related books is a "Great Master" in The Life And Adventures of Santa Claus, and this character, whether it is God or someone else, is only briefly mentioned.

Really, I don't think Oz has a religion, but rather a belief system where they believe that there are powerful forces in the world.

Honestly, I don't think they need religion in Oz. Everyone is allowed to live as they please (as long as they don't hurt anyone else), and they're all well-provided for and they live forever. What would be the point of hoping for something else?

By the way, this whole blog entry is solely my opinion, I have not spoken with anyone else on this matter, and as such, is my own interpretation on Baum's fantasy world. My views here are open and very debatable.