Thursday, December 27, 2007

Another Video

Well, December had releasing 3 new videos to YouTube. Sam planned another video, a trailer for the 1994 live action version of "Volshebnik Izumrudnovo Goroda," based on Alexsandr Volkov's adaptation of "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" for Russia. I hope you enjoy it.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Tin Man

Two little princesses, dancing in a row,
Spinning fast and free on their little toes.
Where the light will take them, no one ever knows,
Two little princesses dancing in a row...

Okay, so I've seen Tin Man. Twice. And first off, it is better on the second time around.

The story opens with a young woman named DG who lives in Kansas with her folks. She has strange dreams where she sees strange scenes and a beautiful woman with lavendar eyes speaks and sings to her. She is a free spirit, ready to tease Officer Elmer Gulch (yes, you heard right) on her motorcycle.
But a storm is coming...
DG and her parents are surprised one night by men in strange trenchcoats. DG is led to the roof by her parents and is made to jump into a tornado!
DG awakes in a strange country, where she finds ruin from her house in Kansas, no sign of her parents, and midgets who capture her, believing her to be a spy of the Sorceress Azkadelia. While imprisoned, she meets Glitch, a man with a zipper in his skull. Half of his brain has been removed, so "sometimes my synapses don't fly right." He reveals that DG has entered "The O.Z.," the Outer Zone.
DG and Glitch escape, and wind up rescuing Wyatt Cain, a Tin Man, one of the Mystic Man's police force. Cain helps them save Raw (a "viewer," a half beast/half man race. Raw himself bears a resemblance to the portrayals of the Cowardly Lion by Bert Lahr and Ted Ross.) from becoming dinner in the Fields of the Papay.
As they take the Old Road (or "The Brick Route") to Central City, DG discovers that the O.Z. is in fact her home. She finds her "parents" (or, as they call themselves, "nurture units") are more android than human. In fact, they are not her parents. Her mother seems to be the mysterious woman from her dreams.
DG and her comrades make it to Central City, where they see the Mystic Man, who reveals that DG needs to unlock her memories, so DG must go north.
As DG journeys the O.Z., she (and we, as the audience) discovers many fascinating items of her past. Azkadelia is wicked, or is she? Who are her parents? Who was the other girl she lived with in the O.Z.? What secrets lie in the past of Glitch and Cain? And what is the Emerald of the Eclipse, and where is it?
The acting in Tin Man is superb. Zooey Deschanel as DG is endearing, although some feel her natural charm was wasted on the role. Alan Cumming is hilarious and serious as Glitch, pulling off the role with a professional air. Neal McDonough is dead-serious as Cain, but can be emotional when he needs to. Raoul Trujillo is excellent at re-inventing the mighty, sniveling beast. And Kathleen Robertson... WOW! She pulls off evil in a way that rivals Tilda Swinton!
The special effects and CG are almost believable. Not quite lifelike, but these work excellently.
The story is captivating and intriguing. The writing is simply delicious. However, something lacks: there is a lot of backstory not explained in the 4 & 1/2 hours that Tin Man approximately runs for. I would like to see the story continue, myself. Maybe a sequel, or TV series, or series of sequels, or even a comic book series?
Tin Man is not The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, nor does it pretend to be. It is a tribute to how adaptable Baum's story can be.
Great job, SciFi!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Wonders of Oz: Oz Club Special

Well, I've finished this special episode.

This was going to be part of "Wonders 4," back before THAT became a 2-part episode. Before that decision, I cut it, thinking that episode 4 was long enough. (Looking back, I should have left it in... If I ever do a re-cut...)

Aaron had the idea of adding some biographical information about John Fricke. He indeed wrote it himself, I just edited...

Marcus Mebes and Jane Albright are to thank for the "Top 10" list...

And that animation at the end? Made it MONTHS ago... Before there was a "Wonders" series, I had intended to make a music video for the Club's 50th anniversary. Well, I decided to do THIS instead...

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Tradition Is Shared!

Last year, I mentioned that I re-read The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus and A Kidnapped Santa Claus every year. This year, I was able to watch the Rankin/Bass adaptation on the DVD I made in March this year. (I couldn't watch the Universal version: VCR/DVD Recorder conked out, and I have not yet been able to make a DVD.) I should pop in the Oz Kids "Who Stole Santa?" sometime soon. (Unfortunately, I don't know where you can get the Anime televsion series...) There's also a new version in the works, seemingly live action this time, but it appears to be an indie.

This Christmas, I've been able to share the tale with my youngest siblings, Genevieve, Arthur, and Daniel. (Thank you, Rankin/Bass!)

You can also get free audio books of these stories from Librivox. (The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus) (A Kidnapped Santa Claus, scroll down)

I've also updated and added some information on this Baum tale on Wikipedia.

Now for another matter. Currently, none of the adaptations of this are on DVD. (Seemingly, we have my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to thank for labelling the Rankin/Bass version as "satanic.") So, I've begun a petition for the Rankin/Bass version to be released, as it is the most likely to be released.

You can find a scholarly discussion on the book on Books of Current Focus.

J. Matt Bloom and I have also discussed this and some of Baum's other books and it's grounds in multiple mythologies. (And they thought Narnia was the first one to do that!) Maybe he'll give me permission to post some excerpts from our discussions sometime.

And now, let's close this with a video clip from the R/B version, shall we?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Oz in Inkheart

This video has been going around recently. It actually looks like it'll be a good movie! (And it has Andy Serkis!)

Notice how Toto and Dorothy's house make cameos? Nice! I have to admit, that is the nicest looking Toto I've ever seen!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Coldest Spring Ever

It was a wet, cold day today. It was raining lightly, and icy cold wind continued to blow almost all day. About 11:50 AM, CST, I went to check the mailbox. There's the phone bill (which I need to call the phone company about to save over $45 on it...), something for my sister (who's moving to Kansas in two weeks), and the Spring 2007 Baum Bugle. Suddenly, I didn't mind the cold THAT much...

Here's what's up... The front cover reproduces the front cover of Aunt Jane's Nieces Abroad. Then we head over to Oz and Ends... No mention of "Wonders," here... I should submit that... Okay, the Munchkins from the MGM Wizard of Oz finally have a star on the Walk of Fame, a word about the MacFarlane movie (I predict development HELL for it... fingers crossed...), Front Porch Classic's "Wonderful Wizard of Oz" board game, the Library of Congress's short flash-based Oz trivia game, the new Club pin (I need to get that!), a few Oz comics, Edward Einhorn's Unauthorized Magic in Oz on YouTube (it doesn't indicate that he uploaded it), translating the Magic Land books with BabelFish, W.W. Denslow's Humpty Dumpty now available from Applewood Books, and Baum's Tamawaca Folks now available from

Oz Club president Angelica Shirley Carpenter looks behind the scenes of one of her favorite book series as a child, the Aunt Jane's Nieces series by Edith Van Dyne, to find traces of the real author, Oz creator L. Frank Baum.

H. Allen Pickrell examines the Boy Fortune Hunters series. (This one was weird. I've read 4 out of the 6 books, so much of it was familiar. Thanks, David Maxine! I'm looking forward to reading the other two!)

Bugle editor Sean P. Duffley examines Baum's (or Suzanne Metcalf's) Annabel and how Baum paid a tribute to Horatio Alger.

Next is L. Frank Baum's "The Orchestra," which he wrote for The Uplifters.

Then we go to the reviews! MultimediOz reviews Rankin/Bass' Return to Oz on DVD, and Injoy Game's Bejeweled-style game based on The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The Oz Bookshelf reviews the English translation of Enrique Fernandez's French comic book adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, The Collected Short Stories of L. Frank Baum, Wildside Press' reprint of Aunt Jane's Nieces in the Red Cross, Marcus Mebes' The Bashful Baker of Oz, Joshua Patrick Dudley's Lost in Oz, Scratch & Sketch "Wizard of Oz", and Roger S. Baum's Toto in Oz and the Surprise Party.

The Magic Picture reveals the Hollins Oz-Fest at Hollins University in Virginia.

Rounding out the issue are contemporary reviews of some of Baum's pseudonymous work, bibliographic entries on the Sam Steele books (later the Boy Fortune Hunters series, and the Oz Calendar.

The back cover is a surprise. It's a color plate by Eric Shanower for Hungry Tiger Press's deluxe edition of The Boy Fortune Hunters in Yucatan. It shows the charactes Ama, Paul, and Chaka from the story, all dressed in the clothig of the Tcha. At first, it was unrecognizable, but the description inside helped out.

Another excellent issue. (Where's Oz In The News, though?) If you're not in the Club yet, join!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Here's a video I put together! Merry Christmas, one and all!

In addition, here is the complete list of Wonders episodes so far.

1. L. Frank Baum & The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
2. L. Frank Baum: 1900-1919
3. Oz Continues
4. The Wonderful Fans of Oz (Part 1) (Part 2)
5. Before the Rainbow
6. Leo in Oz

WONDERS SPECIAL: The International Wizard of Oz Club
7. International Oz

8. Public Domain Oz
9. Ease On Down The Road
10. Disney & Oz
11. Wicked
12. 21st Century Oz

13: Finale

Sunday, December 02, 2007

The Making of "Tin Man."

It is 10:15 PM, CST.

According to a friend, "Tin Man" premeired tonight at 8PM. As each part is two hours, pretty soon, we should be hearing everyone's thoughts on it. I, however, must wait for a few days, as a co-worker is taping the miniseries for me. (Sorry, but with a tight pocketbook, it wasn't worth getting special channels just to see this.) I'll still buy the DVD when it's released in March.

But, till then, here's the "Making of Tin Man" special...

Friday, November 30, 2007

The Wonders of Oz Episode 6

It's online! Now for December! This episode covers the making and release of the MGM movie version of "The Wizard of Oz."

In December, I have two videos that HAVE to be made and released then, or else they will lose all relevance. I'd better get busy...

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Comments Are Back!

Okay, I have opened public commenting again. Only if the hateful comments return and persist will I close it again.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Returning to Oz #28 + MGM DVD review

And now, it is time to review the 28th episode of Aaron Pacentine's "Returning to Oz."

This episode opens with Aaron Pacentine and Aaron Schultz introducing Gabe Rodreiguez, who has made a feature-length documentary on Disney's Return to Oz, The Joy That Got Away. Gabe tells us about the production and how it came. (As creator of my own documentary series, The Wonders of Oz, I could relate to Gabe on many points.)

Up next, Aaron Schultz answers the question "Was Ozma real in Return to Oz?" Aaron's answer is well-researched and satisfying, and may help you make up your own mind. (I came up with a complete theory on the movie, and will soon post it as a blog.)

Then, we get a very special treat. Aaron interviews Dorothy Gale.

Yes, Dorothy Gale.

Dorothy Gale?

Okay, well, it's actually impersonator Penny Wiggins, but she does an excellent job, not only imitating Judy Garland's voice, but answering Aaron's questions (remember, this is the Dorothy from the MGM movie, not the books, so several of Penny's answers will not match up with what we've read). It's sure to raise a chuckle!

(I will note here that I actually discovered Penny. I found this video on YouTube, featuring her as Dorothy, and told Aaron about it, but he gets full credit for contacting her.)

Following this is a quick interview with Derek Shapiro, brother and manager of previous guy Rolla, who appeared and sang "Over The Rainbow" on episode 24.

Aaron and Aaron wrap it up.

After a hiatus of a few months, this is a great return to the series. It gets funny and informative when it needs to, and, once again, IS WORTH THE DOWNLOAD!

Yesterday, I also reviewed the MGM Wizard of Oz 3-disc DVD at Here it is...

(5 stars) Why MGM Is The Best To Date

This is not one of my favorite movies. To be sure, to some degrees, it is a faithful adaptation of the book with certain liberties taken considering the time it was made and the technology for film at the time. I am a huge fan of L. Frank Baum, however, and long to see a much more faithful version brought to the big screen.

The film's plot is a great condensation from the book. Although they made Oz simply a dream, audiences would not be expected to believe otherwise. (Even before "Happy Days," you could "jump the shark.") The Wicked Witch appear near the beginning, making her the main antagonist, so the film has to end shortly after her demise.

The acting is superb, as are the songs and directing. (And no, no one hangs themself in the movie!)

One element that made this film the biggest version of Oz for a long time is often overlooked. Before this classic musical, the most beloved version was the musical extravangza, which debuted on stage in 1902. In order to make their film succeed and surpass this version, MGM went closer to the book, although taking the play's ideas of humor and contemporary-sounding songs with it. Like the play, Judy Garland's Dorothy is older than she was in the book, but not quite as old as Anna Laughlin's portrayal.

There have been many other versions of Oz since this one, but they spend too much time trying not to resemble this version (or try to seem like it without completely copying it), that they are either largely forgotten or have become blacklisted. (Disney's ambitious "Return to Oz," which almost followed the same pattern, for example.)

If a new version is to succeed, it needs to see what made this film great, and try to incorporate that into it. (Sorry, Todd MacFarlane, you're not going to cut it.)

Now for the DVD. The 3-disc edition is the one I own and reccomend. The picture is sharp and clear, now completely restored to how it should have looked since 1939. The audio is crisp and lossless. The whole movie now looks as good as a new film.

And now the DVD is loaded with bonus features. An audio commentary hosted by John Fricke gives you a look into the making of this classic. Other audio features let you hear the film's original mono soundtrack, and the soundtrack without dialogue. Disc 1 also features cast profiles for the supporting cast (strangely, no biographical information about the star, Judy Garland, is given on the set, except very basic information), a documentary on the restoration of the film for this set, and an animated abridgement of "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz," read by Angela Lansbury.

Disc 2 gets into the making and legacy of the film. Two previously made TV specials on the movie are included. The highly informative "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: The Making of a Movie Classic" and "Memories of Oz," which is informative, just not as much. The new featurette "The Art of Imagination: A Tribute to Oz" features contemporary film-makers giving their opinions on the movie. "Because of the Wonderful Things It Does: The Legacy of Oz" features Oz fandom and the continuation of Oz after the 1939 movie, even featuring a few people I've contacted myself. Also, archival audio and video features round out disc 2, making just these two discs satisfying for any fan of the film.

If you're a Baum fan, however, Disc 3 holds more wonders. An excellent documentary on Oz creator L. Frank Baum leads it. (However, in a few spots, the information does get confusing...) Also included is the earliest surviving Oz film: "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" from the Selig Polyscope Company in 1910. Then we have two of Baum's own Oz films, "The Magic Cloak of Oz" and "His Majesty, The Scarecrow of Oz." (There was also "The Patchwork Girl of Oz," but it is not on this set, though the Baum documentary does mention it.) Following these is a restored version of the 1925 silent "Wizard of Oz" with Larry Semon, one of the worst Oz films ever. Wrapping up disc 3 is the first Oz cartoon, "The Wizard of Oz" from 1933.

Also in the 3-disc set are print materials: reproductions of the film's premeire program, ticket, invitation, the MGM studio newsletter, a Photoplay Studies Guide for teachers, and restored publicity photographs. Also is a postcard sized... card showing several of the movie's poster.

If you are a Baum or Oz collector, GET THIS EDITION! You will not be sorry!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Catching up

Hey, haven't really blogged in awhile, have I? Well, it's been a little busy around here. I got the rare opportunity to clean a nasty mark off of my job history, so I took it. This means that I'm switching jobs again.

Recently, I have acquired 3 new DVDs and my first commercial VCD for my Oz collection: Hello Kitty Goes To The Movies, Jim Henson's Mother Goose Stories: Humpty Dumpty & Jack & Jill, and a VCD of a 1970's Wizard of Oz anime.

The Hello Kitty DVD featured "The Wizard of Paws." Kitty and her friends do a play based on "The Wizard of Oz." Based loosely on the story, Dorothy (Kitty) falls asleep and finds herself caught in a cyclone. She arrives in Oz, greeted by the Munchkins, Tin Penguin, Scarecrow, and the Cowardly Bunny. The Wicked Witch threatens Dorothy and her new friends, so they go to the Emerald City, where the Wizard tells them to get the broom from the Witch. There are some spins, here and there, on the story, but this is Hello Kitty, and it's under 10 minutes long. A little laughable, and very silly.

The two Mother Goose DVDs were for some of the episodes, based on the stories in L. Frank Baum's first children's book, Mother Goose in Prose. Real children play certain roles, usually the main characters, but the rest of the cast are puppets... okay, since it's Jim Henson, "Muppets." But don't expect Kermit the Frog to cameo. The stories from Baum on the DVDs are: "Humpty Dumpty," "Little Boy Blue," "Tommy Tucker" (DVD only), "A Song of Sixpence" (DVD only), "Old King Cole," "The Man in the Moon," and "Little Miss Muffet."

The stories are quite faithfully adapted for such short running times. Each episode is introduced by a mother goose and her three goslings. The only one that is not faithfully adapted is "The Man in the Moon." In the Baum story, the Man in the Moon lives in the Moon, but here, the Moon comes to earth. It has a face and talks, but that's as man-like as it gets. It does feel warm when exposed to cold and cold when exposed to heat, just like the Baum character. And his mouth, of course, is burned by eating cold pease porridge. While the Baum story has a balloon carry the Man back to the Moon, the porridge sustains the Moon enough for it to rise. The Moon is not exposed to many people, as in Baum, but is only seen by the little boy and a couple of puppets. Still, the people the Moon meets help restore it to it's place.

Also, the episode "Pussycat, Pussycat" is not based on Baum's "Pussycat Mew." This episode has the Queen held hostage by a mouse she is terrified of, to be saved by a cat who is delievered instead of the mouse's demand of cheese. It does, however, call to mind how the Scarecrow, assisted by the Field Mice, rids the Emerald Palace of General Jinjur and her army in The Marvelous Land of Oz, except quite a switch is pulled here.

Nice for Baum fans, but some Oz fans may want to pass it by. (There is also a DVD with "Hickory, Dickory, Dock," but it's only sold in Region 2. I don't quite feel like paying for international shipping yet.)

Now, for the anime. It's a faithful adaptation of Baum's book in less than 50 minutes. Trip to the south is excised in favor of the Golden Cap calling Glinda to the Emerald City, and yes, there is a Kalidah! I didn't quite like the character design, but this is one where we get to see the Wicked Witch of the East in action. (P.S. The Wicked Witch of the West is a cyclops!)

Aaron Pacentine has sent me the narration for "Wonders 6," and I've already edited the audio. Hope to have it done by the end of the month, but we'll see. Sam Milazzo is planning another video, we'll see where that goes, and I plan to have the "Oz Club Special" Wonders episode done by the end of the year. In fact, I'm switching over to Notepad... NOW!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

An Oz Like Cinar

Hey! I've made a new Oz music video! I had a dry spell, there. But this video was easy (except the original sound file was corrupted, but thank God for Audacity) because Sam Milazzo thought it up and planned it out. Thanks Sam for letting me have some fun!

Monday, November 12, 2007

(Entry 155)... Contacts dropping off the face of the earth

Recently, it seems that my usual Oz contacts tend to dissapear. You may guess who some of these are, but for their privacy, I'm not going to reveal any names.

One contact I tried to call, and his cell phone was "temporarily out of service." He also tends to rarely answer e-mails. Fortunately, I got a new e-mail from him today. (At least he isn't dead, despite what the obituaries say.)

Another I'd e-mail once every two days to, sometimes, twice a day. He hasn't answered any e-mail for awhile now.

The third and final is usually signed onto Yahoo! Instant Messenger, but tonight, he wasn't!

Maybe they're running off to Oz without me...

Friday, November 09, 2007

Wonders 5

Okay, on all the other items, I've said the same thing:

Returning for the fifth episode, "The Wonders of Oz" presents "Before The Rainbow" (I know... the title's been used... twice...), covering the early Oz plays and films before 1939.

Matt Bloom subsitutes for Aaron Pacentine, who was very busy with his Oz event at the time of recording.

I was going to wait until after Aaron's event to make the video, but when Mr. Bloom heard of it, he offered to record the narration. Aaron agreed when I informed him, so Matt was in.

Second, I know some of the editing looks a little rough. Well, my computer is being a grouchy old man. I was lucky that it didn't crash Movie Maker for the 7th time, or suddenly shut off again. (Anyone got a good deal on a laptop with Windows XP?)

Anyways, I did my best under the circumstances, even if I had to NOT check my e-mail in the morning...

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

For Mature Audiences Only...

Yeah... Here's a load of Oz videos, and these have adult language and themes. If you're prepared for this junk, you can watch it. (I didn't call this "Great Oz videos" for a reason...) You have been warned...

"Homies To Smoke With," lyrics based on the MGM movie and drug use. Note the music is a remix of "Soon As I Get Home"/"Home" as they were rearranged in the film version of "The Wiz."

"Oz" Deleted Scene on MadTV. MUCH tamer than the above video, but...

"Oz" Alternate Ending on MadTV. Pretty tame, but still not for kids.

There was once, on YouTube, another Oz video from MadTV that involved Dorothy moving to Florida, where she returns to Oz three more times, thanks to the hurricanes, to kill the Lollipop Guild, then Glinda, then the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, Cowardly Lion, and the Wizard. MadTV also did a parody of the M&M commercial.

"Oz" from "Alternate Endings." (Sigh...)

So, yeah... I'm working on Wonders 5 so you have something to wash out the bad taste...

Thursday, November 01, 2007

My Playable Oz...

On a whim, I searched "Dorothy & Ozma Productions" on Dogpile tonight. Two pages of results, yay!

I did find one thing that bugged me, though... Sometime back, I released my text adventure computer games (which can also be downloaded from my website, completely for free) to the Internet Fiction Archive. One game was based on U.S. Gold's Commodore 64 game adaptation of Disney's Return to Oz. I also based it on the movie as well.

But guess what? Instead of being seen as an original game, it's considered a port. A port is a vertabim re-make of a game for another system. This is not a port, it's more of an adaptation of a game into another game. (Heck, you can't even use the same walkthrough!)

Oh well, let them think it. If anyone comes for my blood, I'll just point them to this blog entry.

And speaking of my computer games, I did make an adventure for the Eamon Deluxe System. It's called "Realm of Fantasy," and takes off of Oz, Wonderland, Looking-Glass World, The Princess Bride, and Super Mario Brothers. (So, yes, the Tin Woodman and Fezzik can take Mario's hammer from him and use it against the Queen of Hearts!) It's also available for free here, along with the main Eamon Deluxe Program. (I'd reccomend getting used to the Eamon system first, though.)

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Ghostly Mr. Baum

Did Baum have a knack for ghost stories? Maybe not, but here are two tales of the supernatural affecting everyday life from the Original Royal Historian of Oz...

Who Called "Perry?"

It was nearly midnight when I boarded the train, and, entering the chair car, prepared to doze during the hours of my journey. "Call me at Perry," I said to the conductor as I surrendered my ticket, for I may be asleep."

He promised, and I settled myself comfortably for my nap.

I don't know how long I had slept, when some one shook me by the shoulder and shouted, "Perry!"

Opening my eyes I found the train was slowing up, and presently it came to a full stop. "Perry!" again shouted the voice in my ear. This time I sprang to my feet, seized my valise and stepped from the car to the platform just as the train glided away up the track.

I turned to look for the town and found myself confronted by a station agent holding a lantern.

"In which direction is the town?" I asked.

"Town!" he answered in surprise; "there's no town here."

"Isn't this Perry?"

"No, this is Head's Crossing. Perry is twenty miles further on."

"But the conductor," I said, angry at my misadventure, "called Perry, and so I left the car. I shall report him to the superintendent."

"The conductor was in the front car ," replied the man, "and you stepped from the rear car. He could not possibly have called you."

"But some one shouted, 'Perry!'"

The agent looked at me incredulously, and said nothing.

"Is there another train?" I asked.

"Not until morning,"

"Where can I sleep?"

"I'll give you the cot in my office, if you like. The station is the only building within miles."

Rather ungraciously, I fear, I accepted his hospitality; but the cot was hard and I was too much annoyed to sleep, so I tossed about until suddenly the agent, who was at the telegraph key, startled me by exclaiming

"Good God!"

"What's wrong?" I asked.

"No. 16 has gone through the bridge at Coon Rapids, and the whole train is lying twenty feet under water!"

No. 16 was the train I had left to spend the night at Head's Crossing.

My Ruby Wedding Ring

The Inn at Loudre was very disagreeable. The odor of garlic and cabbage and the dampness and dirt were unsupportable, and so I decided to push on to Danvers. The only vehicle I could procure was a rattling two seated gig drawn by a bony white horse of doubtful ability, but as my destination was only three hours away and I was not liable to meet any one on the lonely road I started off cheerfully enough, resolved to enjoy my solitary drive to the utmost.

The moonlight as it glinted on the soft green of the hedges and streaked the gray of the dusty road was very beautiful, and before half a league had been passed over I heartily congratulated myself upon good fortune in escaping the horrible inn at Loudre.

After an hour's dreamy and delightful ride I came to a crossroads where with difficulty I deciphered the battered signpost and learned I must turn to the left to reach Danvers. So, clucking up my deliberate steed, who proceeded in a half dignified, half protesting fashion, I turned into a grassy lane between two tall hedges and drove through a lonely district until the dreamy influence of the night overcame me and I drifted into a somnolent state midway between sleep and waking.

I was aroused by the sudden halting of my horse, who gave a frightened snort and planted both feet firmly before him.

A subdued sobbing, as of a woman in distress, fell upon my ears, and leaning forward, I peered into the moonlight to discover whence it came.

A high brick wall ran close to the roadway, covered with ivy and lichens, and leaning against an angle of this, a few steps before me, was a slight, girlish form draped in a black mantle.

I sprang to the ground and softly approached her. Her face was buried in her hands, and she sobbed bitterly.

"Mademoiselle," I said, speaking in French, "You are in trouble. Can I assist you in any way?"

She lifted her head, and the moonlight fell upon the most beautiful face I had ever seen. Absolutely faultless in feature, it was surmounted by a crown of yellow hair that shone like gold in the glare of the moonbeams, while a pair of deep violet eyes that even tears could not dim looked earnestly into mine.

"Who are you?" I asked gently, "and why are you here?"

"I am Amelie de Boursons, monsieur, and I reside at the chateau just within these gates."

The soft, musical notes of her voice added to the powerful impression her exquisite beauty had already produced upon my heart.

"But it is late," I continued. "Surely some great misfortune must have befallen you to bring you here at this hour."

"It is true, monsieur," she replied, struggling with a new paroxysm of grief. "Tomorrow is my wedding day."

"But is that so terrible an event?" I asked.

"If you but knew, monsieur," she said, "how vile and brutal is the man they are forcing me to marry, you would willingly save me from my horrible fate."

She accompanied these words with an appealing look into my face, then she dropped her head and sobbed anew.

I did not stop to reason upon the strangeness of all this. I was a young, generous hearted man in those days and could not resist this appeal from beauty in distress.

"But tell me," I said, "how can I save you from this distasteful marriage? Do you wish to fly? I have a conveyance close by and will gladly escort you to a place of safety."

"To fly would avail me nothing," she answered, with a sweet sadness. "They would follow us and force me to return."

"But how else can I save you?" I asked helplessly.

"I do not know," she replied, with a sudden calmness that suggested despair, "but unless you can find some way to succor me I shall take my own life."

There was no doubt from the expression of her low, earnest voice that she meant this, and, filled with consternation at the thought, I racked my brains for some way to preserve both her life and happiness.

At last an idea came to me, but I trembled at my own presumption as I suggested it.

"Mademoiselle," I said haltingly, "I see but one alternative. You must marry me."

The violet eyes opened wide in surprise. "Marry you, monsieur?"

"Then pursuit would be useless. Being my wife, you would escape this villain who insists upon wedding you. I am free and able to give you all that would add to your happiness, and I shall learn to love you very dearly. It is true that I am a stranger to you, but I assure you that I am in all ways worthy to seek both your heart and your hand."

She gazed with earnest intentness into my face for a moment and then replied slowly:

"I think I shall trust you, monsieur. Indeed, I cannot help myself. I will be your wife."

There was no coyness in her answer; no blush tinted the pale, beautiful face, but she drew herself up, with an air of simple dignity that commanded my respect and admiration."

"Then come," I said eagerly. "We must lose no time. It will be midnight before we can hope to reach Danvers."

"Not Danvers," she replied, shrinking back as I sought to take her hand. "Let us go to Tregonne. There is a notary who will marry us, and we are far safer from pursuit."

"Very well," I answered. "Let us be off."

Refusing my proffered assistance, Mlle. de Boursons walked to the carriage and sprang lightly to the back seat. Rather awkwardly I took my place in front, gathered up the reigns and drove off as swiftly as I could induce the ancient steed to move.

Mademoiselle drew her mantle closely over her head and shoulders, and only once during the long drive did she speak. Then it was to direct me to the Tregonne road.

With ample time for reflection my adventure now began to seem rather queer and uncanny, and by the time we discovered the lights of Tregonne twinkling before us I had come to doubt the perfect wisdom of my present course.

But it was too late to draw back now, and the girl was very beautiful.

"This is the notary's," said my companion in her low, sweet voice, indicating by a gesture a rambling structure from whose windows gleamed a single light.

I leaped out, found the door at the end of a long pathway and knocked upon it loudly.

A tall, thin man beyond the middle age, holding a tallow candle high above his head, answered my call.

"You are the notary?" I asked briefly.

He nodded in assent.

"I wish to be married."

"Married!" he echoed in surprise. "But when, monsieur?"

"Now; at once."

"But the bride, monsieur?"

"I will fetch the bride. She is waiting without."

I thought he intended to protest, so I left him abruptly and returned for the lady. She was already coming toward the house, and as I met her she motioned me to go before, while she followed silently up the pathway.

The notary admitted us without ceremony, and we entered a small, dimly lighted room that appeared to be a study.

My companion at once seated herself in an armchair, but without removing the mufflings from her face.

The notary snuffed the candle, arranged his books and, turning to me with a penetrating look, said:

"I must know your name, monsieur."

"Richard Harrington."

"Your residence?"

"I am an American."

He wrote the answers in his book. Then, glancing toward the armchair, he continued:

"The lady's name?"

I waited for her to reply, but as she remained silent I answered:

"Amelie de Boursons."

"Who?" cried the notary in a loud voice, springing to his feet, while a look of fear and consternation spread over his wrinkled face.

"Amelie de Boursons," I repeated slowly, infected by the man's agitation in spite of myself.

The notary stared wildly at the muffled form of the lady. Then, he drew out his handkerchief
and wiped the beads of perspiration from his forehead.

"What does this mean, monsieur?" I demanded angrily.

The man heeded me not the slightest; but, clutching the edge of the table to steady himself and extending his long, bony finger toward the girl, he exclaimed:

"Are you Amelie de Boursons?"

Slowly, with admirable grace and dignity, the lady threw back her mantle, and her marvelous beauty was again revealed.

The notary with distended eyes fixed upon the visage sank back in his chair with a low moan.

"This must be explained, monsieur," I cried, striding up to his side and grasping his shoulder.

"Is there any reason I should not marry Mlle. de Boursons?"

"Mlle. de Boursons," returned the notary, still regarding her with horror, has been dead these forty years!"

"Dead!" I echoed, staring first at the notary and then at the girl, while a sense of bewilderment overcame me.

Mlle. de Boursons arose with a gleaming smile and came to my side.

"See, monsieur," she exclaimed mockingly and giving me her hand. "Do you also think me dead?"

The hand was as cold as ice, but its touch sent a strange thrill through my body.

"Come, monsieur," I said to the notary, who watched the scene in amazement. "Read the ceremony at once. We are in haste."

Slowly and with trembling voice the notary obeyed, the girl at my side returning the answers in a sweet, collected voice that disarmed my fears and calmed to some extent the notary himself.
I drew a seal ring from my finger and placed it upon her icy hand, and in its place she slipped a large ruby from her own hand upon mine.

The ceremony concluded, I paid the notary, thanking him briefly for his services, and, followed by my bride, walked down the path to my carriage. The notary stood in the doorway lighting us with the candle.

At the carriage I turned to hand my wife to her seat, but she had disappeared.

I ran back to the doorway.

"Where is my wife?" I asked.

"She followed you down the path," said the man.

"But she is not there."

Without a word the notary accompanied me back to the carriage. No trace of the girl was to be seen.

Right and left among the shrubbery I searched. I called aloud her name, entreating her to come to me, but no sight of the beautiful face rewarded my efforts.

I returned to the notary's study filled with grave misgivings.

"Where can she be?" I asked dismally.

"In her grave," was the hoarse answer.


"I told you before that she was dead. It is true. You have wedded a ghost."

The next morning, in company with the notary, I drove down the road till we came to the brick wall where I had first seen Amelie de Boursons.

We entered the gates and walked to the chateau that stood in the neglected grounds. An old woman admitted us, the caretaker, and at the notary's request allowed us to visit the gallery.

The notary threw back the shutters, and the sun came in and flooded the portrait of a beautiful girl whose violet eyes regarded me with the same sweet expression I had noted of my bride of the previous evening.

"It is Amelie de Boursons," said the notary in a gentle voice. "I have seen this picture often and heard the girl's pitiful story, and that is why I knew her last night to be a mere phantom. Her father was a stern, hard man, who insisted upon her marrying a person utterly distasteful to the young girl. She tried to escape, but was captured and brought home to confront her fate. On the wedding morning they found her dead in her bed. She had taken her own life. That was forty years ago, monsieur."

As we left the room I glanced curiously at the ruby that sparkled on my finger.

I wear it to this day.

It is the only evidence I have ever possessed of my phantom bride.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Baum In-Between and Before Oz

Some time ago, I read two Baum books.

The first was The Flying Girl & Her Chum, now available from Hungry Tiger Press.

The story has returning heroine Orissa Kane from The Flying Girl taking her friend (and her financier's daughter), Sybil Cumberford, with her as she test-flys her brother Steve's new hydro-plane. When they meet with an accident, Orissa and Sybil are stranded on a desert island with little provisions. While Orissa is resourceful, how long can they survive? And will Steve, Mr. Cumberford and the rest of the rescue party find them? Even when their yacht runs aground? And can they escape the self-proclaimed robber King of the Islands?

The second, The Book of the Hamburgs took awhile for me to get into. I mean, it's by Baum, and it was his first book, but it's about raising and breeding Hamburgs, a breed of chicken. In this, Baum takes on an authoritative angle as he speaks about this topic, one that he was very interested in, and likely inspired Billina, the yellow hen of Ozma of Oz.

If you're interested in getting a well-rounded view of Baum, I heartily reccomend reading beyond the Oz books...

Sorry, Commentators...

I must apologize, but I have changed the settings for leaving comments on my blog. Now you must have a Blogger/Google account to leave comments.

The reason for this is that in the past week, I have recieved some very derogratory comments, and am tired of having to sign into Blogger just to reject them.

If you want to respond to something I wrote in a blog, go ahead and e-mail me. I still have my e-mail in my Blogger profile. But if you're writing just to hate on someone, please don't bother. I will not reply.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Wonders 5 news!

Has it been this long and I haven't posted a news release on the fifth episode of The Wonders of Oz? How... slow of me!

First off, Aaron Pacentine has been very busy with his event that will happening this Saturday. However, he agreed for a subsitute for this episode. The original plan was to wait until after the event, and do it then, but Matt Bloom offered to narrate.

If you've forgotten who Matt is, he has already been in two episodes of Wonders, and has been a fan since the beginning. In episode two (the only version available, hence, what I consider the official version), he read L. Frank Baum's final words. In episode four, he showed his face as I let him talk about the Oz books and adding to the series, as he is doing with his upcoming book, Nonestica: Rise of the Witches. (He recently informed me the book will be available next September.)

This episode will cover the pre-1939 dramatic versions of Oz on stage and screen. This was originally going to be two episodes, one about plays, the other about movies. But then, I reconsidered, I'd have two short episodes... And we're already taking awhile getting to that movie, so why not speed up the process?

I'm going to attempt to have it done by Halloween.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Great Oz Videos Redux

Haven't done it in awhile, so here's another set!

Music Video For "Home" by Breaking Benjamin. Even the lyrics are Ozzy!

Trailer for the MGM Oz remake that... isn't going to happen...


McGee And Me took a spin on Oz...

(We used to have this video. It's on DVD now. It's called "Twister & Shout.")

Take a quick time travel trip to the Land of Oz in North Carolina:

The MGM Oz gets mixed with modern music and dance:

And, lastly, what happens when "Dorothy Goes To Hollywood?"

(There will be something more about the girl who plays Dorothy in this video on the blog in the near future! Keep an eye out!)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Wonderful Wizard of Ha's

VeggieTales never fails to entertain! And now, their latest offering offers many entertainments for Oz fans as well. The Wonderful Wizard of Ha's is a re-telling of the parable of the Prodigal Son, set to a parody/tribute of MGM's The Wizard of Oz. (In the "Making the Land of Ha's" bonus feature, Phil Vischer does mention the L. Frank Baum book.)

The story tells the tale of a boy named Darby (Jr. Asparagus) who want to visit the Land of Ha's amusement park. His father, Farmer O'Gill (Mr. Asparagus), tells Darby that they can't afford go this season. Stubbornly, Darby takes the piggy bank full of the money that his father was saving for his college, when Darby is caught out in a tornado! He hides in a trailer, despite Tutu's (Darby's pig, who he calls a dog) opinion that they should lie flat in a ditch. (Which, they stress in the bonus features, is what you should do.)

Darby is blown to Munchieland, where the trailer crushes a machine called the Munchie Muncher. For freeing the Munchies (Oui! It iz ze French Peas!), Splenda, the low-fat fairy (Madame Blueberry) advises Darby to follow Old Yellow McToad to the Land of Ha's.

Along the way, Darby and Tutu are joined by Scarecrow (Mr. Lunt), Tin Man (Larry), and Lion (Pa Grape). But little do they realize that they are being watched...

All in all, this is an entertaining episode, and you should get some laughs out of it. In the VeggieTales tradition, hosts Bob and Larry (who are both technically fruits, not vegetables) make refrences to God and the Bible, and their computer QWERTY displays 1 John 3:1, which is also read by Bob. VeggieTales has always been a Christian series, expecting it to be something else just isn't going to work. I'm fine, because it's not overbearing.

Also, watch the end credits to see Mr. Lunt sing "Over The Rainbow," or you can watch it as a special feature.

AND ON THE SUBJECT OF SPECIAL FEATURES, VeggieTales has also never been one to skip on those, either! You can find Easter Eggs on the main menu, and on the Bonus Features menu. (I won't say what they are or how to find them.) There are two audio commentaries, one with the people who made this episode, and a five minute clip show with Mr. Lunt and a previously unseen character doing commentary. There is a behind-the-scenes feature, "Making The Land of Ha's." The "Studio" Commentary features writer and VeggieTales creator Phil Vischer (who also voices Bob/Mr. Lunt/Pa Grape/Dad Asparagus/Archibald Asparagus) and director Brian Roberts exposing all the secrets of the writing and casting and how budget affected what you see onscreen. (They also expose how they paid a tribute to Baum's original book in their story and why.)

There is also a section of trivia games (winning the hard game earns you a deleted scene), a "Munchieland Peas" Game, which will earn you a bonus clip, a story book feature that isn't "Ha's," a singalong, and instructional videos on how to draw Darby and Tin Man.

There is also a special feature section for parents.

All in all, the DVD is worth the price. The episode shows affection for both of the original stories, and should be worthy addition to your Oz video and DVD collection.

"How could I go over the rainbow? It's water droplets refracting sunlight." - Darby

Links & Coming Attractions

Okay, first off, I now own VeggieTales: The Wonderful Wizard of Ha's. I will probably start watching it after I finish this blog. So, later today, I should have another blog up with my review.

Another thing I want to say is that the SciFi Channel has released a WONDROUS website for Tin Man, it's called "Infinite OZ." You can access video clips from the show already! (Ha, ha! MGM reference in Kansas!) Note that this is a flash-based site and can take awhile to load. You may want to do something I DIDN'T do before accessing: close any other open Internet programs or programs that take up some memory, and maybe clear your browser cache.

ALSO: It's been awhile, but I read both The Flying Girl & Her Chum from Hungry Tiger Press (it looks great, just like we've come to expect from David Maxine!), and The Book of the Hamburgs, L. Frank Baum's FIRST book, and one of his VERY few non-ficition books. Great. Now I'll be well informed if I ever decide to beat the grocery stores on egg prices.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

A Wizard of 3 Days

I think Oz is stalking me.

Tuesday night, it was storming mildly and they said there was a chance of a tornado. I mentioned that to one of my co-workers, and she says, "Please don't remind me. I have to drive 45 minutes home when I get off a midnight." So I started humming the tornado theme from the MGM Wizard of Oz.

Wednesday night, I was helping out with our church's Youth Group, and I headed out to the stairwell that leads to the Youth Room, which is on the third floor of our South Building. (We have three buildings.) I looked over, and I saw... well, I'd brought the digital camera with me, so you can see it...

Yes, that is a hot-air balloon.

Later that night, we went over to Wal-Mart, and I noticed some shoes for little girls. Why? Take a look:

(Are you allowed to take a photo in Wal-Mart?)

And THEN, on Thursday, I saw a car with "YBR" on the license plate: "Yellow Brick Road."

So... yeah...

And while I'm on this topic, here is a business that I live a few blocks north of:

Yeah... I think someone saw the film version of The Wiz. (They were there before The Muppets Wizard of Oz.)

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Oz In Outer Space

Sam Milazzo pointed this video out to me. It's the original opening titles for "Supēsu Ozu no Bōken" or "The Space Adventures of Oz," which was condensed to a movie called "The Wonderful Galaxy of Oz." (It may be in with the $1 DVDs at Wal-Mart.)

According to the show's Wikipedia page, the song is called "To Dream an Adventure." Also on Wikipedia is a complete episode list.

This is actually better than the opening titles they used in the movie version, though the English song there IS quite catchy... "We're off... to Oz! That magical galaxy..."

I'm working on it!

I'm working on "Wonders of Oz" 4 right now! Seriously! I am! I just edited in the bit about Disney's Return to Oz. Matt Bloom is also working on his video speaking AS I TYPE THIS, so he will serve as my very first "talking head" in the whole series.

Wanna be a talking head in an upcoming episode? Let me know!

Back to work!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

My Ideal Oz Cast & Crew

It's been awhile since I've blogged about my Oz screenplay project. I'm now working on a second draft. Well, here's my ideal cast and crew list... Can it happen? I guess so...

Director - Tim Burton (No duh...) OR Sam Antony Milazzo & Jared Davis
Producer - Steven Spielberg (Yeah!)/Tom Hanks
Executive Producer - Willard Carroll (Yes!)
Art Department - Weta Workshop (of course!)
Writers - Jared Davis & Sam Antony Milazzo

Dorothy - (New child actress in her debut role.)
Aunt Em - Tilda Swinton
Uncle Henry - (Um... I think I came up with something, but I forgot...)
Good Witch of the North - Rosemary Harris OR Angela Lansbury
Boq - Seth Green
Scarecrow - Daniel Browning Smith
Tin Woodman/Nick Chopper - Haven't completely decided. I was thinking Thomas Robbins, and later considered Wentworth Miller.
Lion - ... Still haven't decided.
Guardian of the Gates - Jeff Goldblum
Soldier With Green Whiskers - Adam Godley
Jellia Jamb - AnnaSophia Robb
The Wizard of Oz - (Haven't decided!)
The Wicked Witch of the West - Christine Ebersole (In memory of Mark Haas)
Glinda - Claire Danes (Sam JUST sold me on her!)

Here are some new characters I came up with for my version film...
Matilda Gale - Erin Cottrell
Charles Gale - Johnny Depp
Army Courier - (Okay, it's a small role... but to tell the truth, I don't care about this one!)
Farmer Benton - Tom Hanks

Emerald City Citizens - Cameos by Oz fans... I'm selling lemonade.

Friday, September 21, 2007

More Tin Man Videos!

I'm looking forward to seeing Tin Man! Here are some videos that have been officially uploaded to YouTube:

Original Wonders are gone now

Hey, if you haven't noticed, I removed the original versions of The Wonders of Oz episodes 1 & 2 from YouTube.

I'm sorry for anyone who was charmed by the original editing.

The thing is, I would rather not have people think that the "Remixes" (which are no longer called so) are pointless re-hashes. The thing is, they are not. I felt that I could have done better on those episodes, so I decided I would do new versions that WERE better. And, from what I heard, they are.

As "Wonders 4" is in development, I'd like to thank once again everyone who has contributed in some small way to this project. (You know who you are!) I believe I plan to tribute everyone in some way in episode 4, even if it is just a mention in the credits.

I'd also like to publicly announce that it looks likely that episode 4 may be split into two parts. I have up to three people who have already agreed to try to make short videos of themselves talking about Oz and how they feel about it. Suggestions and additions are still welcome, though. If you're interested, check my Blogger profile for my e-mail.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

How I Got Into Oz...

This has been on the L. Frank Baum & Co. Group on MySpace, and the IWOC Forums, but here it is... now for the non-MySpacers and those who prefer not to dig through message boards...

My parents used to try cable services for a month every now and then, and one time, my mom let us watch the MGM movie The Wizard of Oz. I loved it.

Later, my grandfather (who has since died) let my dad bring some things over to our house. Among them was a copy of the book The Wizard of Oz with the pictures by Evelyn Copelman. A few months later, I found it in the garage and brought it in the house and tried to read it. Note that I had just finished kindergarten, so I wasn't too sure of how to read then. Fortunately, during the next school year, I did. (Come to think of it, they also let the whole school see the movie in two parts in the library, and they let us watch Dorothy in the Land of Oz around Thanksgiving.) I also found, in the school library, a copy of the "white" edition of The Wizard of Oz. I thought Denslow's pictures were very strange and goofy at the time, but have since come to appreciate them.

One time we went to the library, and I asked if we could check out the video of the MGM movie. We did, but the wrong tape was inside! (It was something like, Building Kitchen Cupboards And Cabinets!) We tried later, and we got it! I remember I watched it through once, but when I tried to watch it again, the VCR broke! BUT, I decided to do the next best thing. If I could read The House At Pooh Corner all by myself (the first ACTUAL chapter book I read, I went for the real thing!), couldn't I read The Wizard of Oz?

So, I did. I remember finishing reading it on Thanksgiving Day. But, I wondered, was that really the only Oz book? So, later, my mom took me to the library, and I asked her to see if there were any more "books about the Wizard of Oz." She found two books: Ozma of Oz and the (seemingly rare) 1980s edition of Who's Who In Oz by Jack Snow.

That ended my wondering about further Oz books!

Luckily for me, my parents found some more of the Oz books at Wal-Mart. They were published by a company called "Aerie" and sold 2 for $1. These copies had no illustrations, so I often added my own. They gave me Ozma of Oz and The Lost Princess of Oz. Later, that Christmas, they gave me a big box with MANY of the Aerie paperbacks in it. (Let's see if I can recall the ones... Land, Dorothy & The Wizard, Road, Emerald City, Tik-Tok, and Rinkitink.

And for a long time, those were the only Oz books (plus Patchwork Girl, Scarecrow, and Tin Woodman from the library, Del Rey editions) that I had read.

I found other Oz books at yard sales and library book sales, but really nothing new. Adaptations of Return to Oz and copies of the Oz books I already owned were mostly what I found. My dad DID entrust me with his copies of the Return to Oz graphic novel and the Classics Illustrated Junior edition of The Wizard of Oz. I also made my own Oz toys from wooden clothespins.

But tragedy was about to strike my meager but cute Oz collection... a tragedy called "Mom becoming overtly religious." She threw away ALL of my Oz collection, claiming that I "should not read about witches." Today, I respect her concern, but the Oz books are not all about witches, and they do not encourage learning witchcraft, but quite the opposite.

I, myself, thought she meant that Oz, in itself, was evil. Remember I was still very young and impressionable.

Little did she notice that I also eventually stopped reading anything... period. (Afterward, I got through The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings over a course of four years.)

Many years later, I was at a used bookstore, when I came across an old Scholastic edition of The Magic of Oz. I looked over it, and began to think, "What is really so 'evil' about this? It basically says that magic equals trouble, which, in my opinion, is true."

A month later, I was at a local youth center, when they put in The Wizard of Oz movie. At first, I didn't show much interest, but then, I looked again, and it had me spellbound.

About a week later, I was looking through audio books at the library (remember that my interest in reading had dropped), when I found Recorded Books' recording of The Land of Oz, performed by Flo Gibson. After some thought, I went ahead and checked it out. I really enjoyed it. I can't say too much for Flo's voice, but I really did like it.

When I returned it, I went to the children's section of the library (I believe I was 15 at the time), though it was another branch, and found several of the Oz books there. I checked them out and read them again. Really read them. I couldn't remember when I'd read a book so fiercely since I'd stopped reading the Oz books before. I later went ahead and put the other Baum books on hold.

Some of the books were nicely-sized hardcovers from a publisher called Books of Wonder. In the back of one of their books, it gave a phone number you could call for a free catalog called The Oz Collector. I went ahead and did it, and when it arrived, I was thrilled to find that their editions were faithful imitations of the original editions! I knew that THAT was the set of Oz books I would want to collect.

In addition to re-reading the Oz books (my mom did find out, but I basically let her know that I was old enough to make my own decisions on what I read, and I wasn't going to join a cult, or get interested in Wicca), I also realized that someone had written them, so I found and read a biography of L. Frank Baum and discovered that Oz was not his only work. The library had some of his non-Oz books (though they were Oz-related), and I also read many through interlibrary loan. Today, I think I may be more likely to re-read one of his pseudonymous works instead of one of his Oz books.

Pretty quickly, my Oz collection began to grow. The first Books of Wonder edition I got was The Little Wizard Stories of Oz, then a used copy of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. (By the way, I did buy that copy of The Magic of Oz, but because of it's rather cheap printing and paper quality, I no longer have it.) Later, when I got a job, I began buying my own Oz and Baum books and merchandise from the Internet.

Surprisingly, I did not get a VHS copy of the MGM movie of my own until the summer of 2003, when VHS tapes were beginning to go the way of vinyl records. I later switched to DVD, and intended to buy a copy of the MGM movie on that media, and one day in Spring, 2005, I went into Wal-Mart, deciding that I would buy it.

It wasn't there! It was sold out! But later that week, my dad mentioned that he read about a forthcoming 3-disc edition with many special features, including older films. I later bought that edition when it was released later that year.

My Oz collection, which now resides in my bedroom with me in my apartment (at the time of this writing, I have been 21 for three months), is expansive, maybe not very large or notable, and there are not a lot of rare items, but it is MY collection.

There is also a digital extension to my Oz and Baum collection as well, and it is now online in many places. (Look up "Jared Davis" and "Oz" on Google or Dogpile, and it's mostly me!) On April 1 this year, I was interviewed for Aaron Pacentine's "Returning to Oz" (that's a fitting title for my discovery and rediscovery of Oz story as well) episode 21 and the episode was released at the end of the month.

I am also working on several Oz projects. There's "The Wonders of Oz" documentary video series about Baum and Oz for YouTube. I am currently working with Sam Antony Milazzo, an Oz fan in Australia, on a screen adaptation of the first six Oz books. (Want to see it brought to life? Sign the petition!) I also run an Oz blog and an Oz website and have several Oz videos on my YouTube profile. I also post very actively at the International Wizard of Oz Club's message boards, of which I'm now an official member.

Oz seems to be very glad to have me back

Saturday, September 15, 2007

My Feelings On The Olson/McFarlane Oz Movie

Some time ago, we heard that Warner Brothers and Village Roadshow (the studios of The Dukes of Hazzard and Charlie & The Chocolate Factory) had greenlit an Oz film that would be produced by Todd McFarlane and would be written by Josh Olson.

Todd McFarlane has not earned any Oz fan's trust at all. Yes, his company, McFarlane Toys, did make an Oz line, but it was called "Twisted Land of Oz." The Tin Woodman was pictured as a disgusting cyborg, the Scarecrow as a rotting, straw-stuffed corpse being attacked by crows, and Dorothy as a torture queen, being tormented by two demonic-looking Munchkins.

So, when some of us heard of the movie, we were afraid that it would be based on the same vision that made those toys.

Josh Olson somehow heard of the fuss and confusion that went on, and quickly released a statement saying, in his words, "I think even Todd would be happy to tell you, this movie has no connection whatsoever to those action figures." He further sparked our interested in his story by dropping enough hints: "The story I pitched... (is) faithful to the spirit and tone of those amazing books. You’ll be seeing many of your favorite characters return from the classic film, as well as meeting loads of Baum’s other great characters. While I’ve created my own distinct plot, it’s all built around Baum’s characters, Baum’s world, and Baum’s vision. I think Oz fans will recognize my love for the source material, and will be very happy with the finished result."

That won me over, until I heard word from Todd McFarlane:
"The bondage Dorothy, in my pitch, is literally an eight second scene. Just one scene of her in that."
Uh, how about none of that at all? In fact, in said interview, he mentions nothing of Olson. In fact, his story actually conflicts what Olson said:
The toys came first, and they sold really well for us. Someone in Hollywood saw them. They phoned and said, "Hey Todd, you have a pitch that you could come out here with?" And of course I went, "… Yyyesss… Yes I do…" So they said, "Oh good! Could you come in next week?" So you know sometimes you come up with your best stuff with a gun to your head. I had a week and pitched some ideas back and forth with some of the people in the office, and came up with this huge, massive Lord of the Rings epic. It actually got fairly tight and succinct.

We actually went in there and for a while had Michael Bay going around with me pitching it. We had props, visuals, toys, storyboards, posters… I made little models of the city. I think it overwhelmed them. They said that they needed 20 minutes for a pitch and I was like, "I need at least an hour and fifteen. I'm going to act out this whole movie and show you the whole thing because this movie is going to cost at least $140 million to make. I don't want you to not know what you're buying." Anyway, it took a little longer than I would have liked, but eventually someone at Warner Bros finally went, "It's crazy. It's crazy enough that it might be worth starting the process." So you're just beginning to push the boulder up the hill, but you have to get by that one where someone says they're buying it. Maybe it'll come out in a year and a half, maybe it'll go into development hell. I've seen both versions.

It sounds to me like we have two opposing creative visions. We have Olson, who wants to make an original sequel to the MGM movie using Baum's later characters, and we have McFarlane, who wants to do a new, startling "Wizard of Oz," where he says:

"So mom and grandma love Wizard of Oz? Just wait until they see this stuff. And if we ever make a movie close to that, it's going to give them a heart attack."

In my opinion, TAKE MCFARLANE OFF THE MOVIE! I don't get why Warner Brothers would hire Olson to write the script if he had something different in mind altogether? Apparently they liked what he said. If they really did like McFarlane's pitch that much, why isn't he the writer or director?

But anyways, I think we have nothing to worry about. Warner Brothers isn't going to let their Oz connection, owning one of the most classic films ever produced, be tainted by letting McFarlane give us Dorothy the Torture Queen. Just because they signed him on, movie making is very fickle. You can be in one day and out the next.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Wonders 4 News!

Let me tell you folks, "Wonders 4" is going to be BIG. I think this will be the best episode to date. Aaron really outdid himself on the audio this time. Sam Antony Milazzo, my Australian correspondent (who plans to become an official International Wizard of Oz Club member in November) is letting me include some of his artwork. Sean Pollock has promised a clip from an Oz play he created. New Oz author Matt Bloom and his illustrator have both said they will attempt to do some short segments where they will talk about continuing the Oz series. (There may be another author as well.)

The tentative title is "The Wonderful Fans of Oz." It will cover Oz books after the Famous Forty, as well as Oz websites and fan productions and other fan-created items.

(NOTE: The International Wizard of Oz Club will not be covered here because we will be devoting a special episode to it.)

This episode may be so big, it may need to be split. We'll see...

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Wonders of Oz #3

Hey, I finished the third episode!

I need your help on #4! It's going to be huge! E-mail me!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Wonders 2 Remixed AGAIN!

Hey, I finished remixing "Wonders 2" today, at LAST!

Hope you enjoy!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Scarily Faithful Oz?

In two days, I was exposed to some ideas about a darker Oz that would be not only faithful to Baum's Oz, it would be in Baum's Oz.

Thursday, I recieved my copy of Spectral Snow from Hungry Tiger Press. I've had an appetite for stories of ghosts, abnormal occurences, and the supernatural. (Part of the Christian faith is believing in the supernatural.) This book's stories were a delight. They kind of reminded me of "My Ruby Wedding Ring," L. Frank Baum's own ghost story, not in Oz, however. (The story was a romantic variant on the famous "Vanishing Hitch-hiker" tale.)

To top it off, the book ends with "A Murder In Oz," in which Ozma is found dead, murdered. (Don't worry, Jack Snow didn't create a story that reset the way Oz stories work, but if you want to know what happens, read the story yourself.)

I was surprised at the story's dark tone, but faithfulness to Baum's Oz. Is this Oz when the children are asleep? Obviously. The adult Oz characters have a few mild vices that they do not practice around children.

Then, earlier, I found a blog entry on J.L. Bell's blog. Mr. Bell brings up the question, "do dark Oz stories have to take place outside of Baum's Oz?" (He even mentioned Oz Squad, which I recently read online.)

Having noticed this myself, my answer would be no. If you can't make a good story without completely altering your basis, does that show a lack of creativity or imagination? In my opinion, yes. Snow was able to murder Ozma without writing the story out of continuity. When you consider the tale's conclusion, one would wonder why no one has thought to continue from this continuity.

So, is it time for some faithful Oz stories that are scary? Yes, why not?

Friday, August 31, 2007

Dear Little Dorothy

So, who was the inspiration for Dorothy? While several women have claimed to be the inspiration for her, and some say that Baum simply liked the name, I find it far more likely that he created the character in honor of the niece he had had.

Dorothy Louise Gage was born June 11, 1898 and died November 11, 1898 at exactly five months old. L. Frank Baum loved children very much, but Dorothy was also greatly loved by her Aunt Maud as well.

The main reason for why I think the little Gage girl was the inspiration of Dorothy Gale, is because Baum dedicated The Wonderful Wizard of Oz to Maud, who said that Dorothy Gage "was a perfectly baby. I could have taken her for my very own and loved her devotedly." (Perhaps this was a basis for Dorothy living with her Aunt Em and Uncle Henry?) So could the Gale girl have replaced the Gage girl? With a one-letter swap in the last name, it seems obvious.

In memoriam, I found three photos of her two headstones...

This is the original headstone. For those who prefer reading text, here's what it reads:

MR. & MRS.
JUNE 11, 1898
NOV. 11, 1898

This headstone was purchased by some "Munchkins," the photo description read. I am assuming it meant the Members of The International Wizard of Oz Club in the Eastern area of the United States. (Although, it would be interesting, but unlikely, if the little people from the MGM movie were responsible.)

EDIT: Jane Albright informs me that MGM "Munchkin Mickey Carroll was responsible for the foot stone marking the infant Dorothy's grave. His family has been in the monument business for generations, and when he heard this grave had been found he was quite determined -- and generous -- in insisting that he would be honored to provide a stone explaining her association with Oz."

More information can be found here. (Thanks, Jane!)

The new headstone reads

JUNE 11, 1898
NOVEMBER 11, 1898

Personally, I find that the little girl died at such a young age to be very sad. But, unfortunately, deaths for very young children were common before we entered the age of advanced medicine. (Perhaps this is one reason why Baum eliminated death in Oz?) Thus, it was common for parents to have large families. L. Frank Baum himself was part of a large family, and was almost a casualty of poor health himself. (So was I, come to think of it.) Perhaps Baum felt connected to Dorothy, in that he almost shared her fate...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Tin Man Videos!

Hey, I've just seen some preview videos of the SciFi Channel's upcoming Tin Man series. They look great!

Here are the links. Feel free to share them. (The links, that is.)

"D.G." Teaser


"A New Road"

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Wonders 2 Recut

Today, I uploaded the re-edited version of the second episode of "The Wonders of Oz..."

The audio is not perfect. Sorry. But it is audible without being grating! I'm going to be getting the next episode done as soon as I can.

EDIT: I discovered that the video was messed up in the end. The end credits were omitted, and the audio ended too soon, and two of the last pictures were gone. I will be making a new cut in a week, with these problems fixed, AND an actual human reading L. Frank Baum's last words! (And it won't be me!) Consider this a preview.

"We're Off To See The @%#$ing Wizard!"

My Australian correspondent Sam Antony Milazzo and I made a little temporary swap: I would lend him (through snail-mail) the Russian Volshebnik Izumrudnovo Goroda (1974, stop frame animated, 2-disc) and he would lend me Oz: Rock 'n' Road Movie on DVD. (I have an all regions "unlocked" DVD Player.)

It's 1976. Dorothy is a groupie. The Scarecrow is a surfie. The Tin Man is a mechanic. The Cowardly Lion is a bikie. The Wicked Witch drives a semi. The Good Fairy is gay. The Wizard is a rock superstar. Any questions?

Here's my rundown on the story: Dorothy and her friend become groupies for a rock and roll band. On their first trip, they run off the road and Dorothy is knocked unconcious.

Dorothy finds herself walking into a town where everyone quietly stares at her. She finds a shop called "The Good Fairy," run by a gay man who tells her she can call him Glen. He presents her with a pair of red sequin-studded high heel shoes in return for killing a nuisance around town. However, the dead man's brother threatens that he will get Dorothy. She notices a picture of a strange-looking man on the wall, who Glen identifies as "The Wizard," a rock superstar who is having his last performance. Glen advises Dorothy to hitchike to the City.

Along her way, Dorothy is helped along by the silly "Surfie," who worries about sharks, the greasy "Greaseball," a mechanic, and the non-violent, motorcycling "Bikie," who wears a "Lions" vest.

Dorothy manages to get into the Wizard's concert, but is afterwards kidnapped by "Trucker." She is rescued by her three friends, and then they go to find the Wizard, who Dorothy finds behind a curtain... a shower curtain. (Yes, she joins him.)

Let's close by saying that those shoes help Dorothy return to reality, after she realizes that "fame and fortune really f*** you up!"

If you've heard of the sexual content, yes there is some, after the first hour. Really, the sensual stuff is not as bad as the recent film The Last Kiss with Zach Braff. Still, it's an example that it's not for the kids. The Wizard is only seen in a VERY skimpy costume or with his genitalia covered by a blanket, shower curtain, or towel. Truckie forces Dorothy to strip. (One of her nipples is visible in a shot, and we get a fleeting shot of her bottom.) Dorothy offers to have sex with the doorman at the concert to get in. (She doesn't.) The Wizard and a girl resembling Dorothy's friend are seen having sexual intercourse.

There is profanity all through the film. Characters do drugs, smoke, and drink. But, surprisingly, up until the Wizard's concert, the film is actually enjoyable. But you'll need strong nerves to finish!

Like I said, not for the kids.

The music is so-so. It was probably top-quality back in 1976, but unlike the classic 1939 musical, the songs have aged. In fact, the headlining song, "Living In The Land Of Oz," is pretty racist... I'm not going to mention exactly why, but people of African origin will not go for it at all.

As an adaptation of the Baum story... you have to use your imagination a little to try to figure out where certain elements were pulled from, in this case the Baum book or the MGM movie.

Worth a watch? If you're interested after reading this, yes. If not, no.


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Great Oz videos #3

Here's more videos that Oz fans have found digging through YouTube.

Here's another Oz/Muppets crossover, this one from The Muppet Babies.

(Thanks to Eboy1 for finding this and posting a link at the IWOC Forums.)

Here's a marionette version of The Wizard of Oz that Sean Pollock found:

Very entertaining! Too bad it's so short...

Here's one I found: an Oz tribute from the show Bobby's World. I used to watch that show when it was on, and I remember seeing this clip:

Hmmm... that's some slightly adult humor with the Tin Man right there...

Well, there we are!

Happy Birthday, Ozma

Oh, as I reflect on the days of yore,
I cannot help but pause,
And think of the young and beautiful
Fairy Queen of Oz.

For over a century her reign
Has remained undeterred
And, to all the people throughout the Land,
No other ruler would be preferred.

Happy Birthday, Ozma. I'm glad you're still the Queen of Oz after 103 years.

(P.S. Thanks to Jerry Robbins, who adapted the first five Oz books for audio dramaztizations by Colonial Radio Theatre, for the first two lines of the poem... Too bad the Woggle-Bug (or is it Woogle-Bug?) never finished his version!)

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Another Oz Shirt

I saw another Oz shirt at work today.

It made me smile.

(Click on the picture below to see where you can buy it.)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Wonders 1 Recut

Well, I re-mixed the first episode of The Wonders of Oz for all those folks out there who were complaining about the sound.

Like it? I hope so! I also re-did the opening titles, so they'll match with the later episodes, removed some of the text effects, and added some video effects to help sweeten the deal.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A Stroll Through Memory Lane

Today, for some reason, I went to the Archives on the IWOC message boards. I remember seeing so many of those threads. It was great to hear some of the opinions of people who no longer frequent the boards, such as the late Mark Haas. It was nice to see people like Eric Shanower and Peter Hanff come in with a post. We HARDLY get that today.

What was a little weird was seeing my old posts. Seriously, some of them are just plain STUPID. I begin to wonder if I still post like that. I mean, I hope I've improved over the past few years...

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Re-working "Wonders"

So far, I have released the first two episodes of The Wonders of Oz, relating the life of L. Frank Baum.

People seem to like it, except they have been complaining about the audio. Someone even suggested that I contact them and have them re-dub the first episode.

First off, I have NO intention to take Aaron Pacentine off the project. While I did contact Aaron about these comments, and he says he will try to do better, I feel I could have done better on the editing.

SO... I will be reworking the audio for episode 1 & 2 and putting up NEW versions before episode 3.

One major change is that my dramatic readings of Baum's dying words will be replaced with Mike from AT&T Labs Text-to-Speech demo. (You heard him at the beginning of episode 1, performing the "I was telling the kids a story" quote.)

Episode 1 will have equalized audio, and probably some clean-up done on it. The opening credits will be replaced with the more streamlined credits from episode 2, with the appropiate title restored.

Episode 2, aside from the afore mentioned changes, will also have the audio cleaned. I also forgot to credit Hungry Tiger Press as the source for the pictures from The Woggle-Bug and The Tik-Tok Man of Oz, so the end credits will be slightly altered, as well.

PLEASE let me know if you have further suggestions on improvement.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Jimmy Olsen of Oz?

Okay, comics have, over the past few years, favored the Oz series. It's not a new trend, but, while looking the letters column of an old issue of Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen, a reader compared the story of issue 151 to The Wizard of Oz. The story in that issue featured Jimmy and his new co-workers (and Superman, of course) investigating and fighting giant locust creatures from outer space. (Uh... yeah...) The editor could not resist and responded:

Let's see if we can follow your reasoning: Meg is Dorothy; Superman was in the cornfield as a Scarecrow; Percy, of course, is the Cowardly Lion; and that leaves Jimmy as the Tin Woodman. (You didn't think he was Toto, did you?) The Locust Creatures would have been the Winged Monkeys--though they look more like Prof. H. M. Wogglebug, T.E., the Highly Magnified and Thoroughly Educated insect who was introduced in "The Land of Oz."

Let's see, what's the date on this thing? November, 1972. Comics have the month listed a bit ahead, so... probably really August or September.

Three years later, DC would team up with Marvel to create the first comics adaptation of the MGM film version of The Wizard of Oz. Sadly, though, this meant that a Marvel-only version, based on the book, was dropped. (I found an example of John Buscema's artwork for it on his Wikipedia page.) DC wouldn't get to Oz on their own until the 80's, when Captain Carrot & His Amazing Zoo Crew would wind up in Oz, trying to rescue it from the Nome King, using Wonderland as a refuge. (I've read this mini-series, too. But when is DC doing the reprint?) Marvel had many Oz references in their comics, but bringing them up now would go too off-topic.

Of course, one may wonder, with the comic's campy stories and the traditional Oz in public domain, why didn't DC send Jimmy Olsen to Oz?