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?

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Great Oz videos #2

Okay, maybe it's a little too soon after my last blog entry, but I found some more videos you may enjoy...

Livermore School presents a ballet version of "The Wizard of Oz" in which Dorothy & Co. decide to ease on down the road.

What's that song Elphie sings in Wicked about her future? "The Wizard & I?" No, I believe it was the song "Making Good." (Unfortunately the person who posted the video is not allowing anyone to embed it, although I could probably hack some code... but I'll respect their wishes. Anyhoo... all these underlined words serve as a link.) It was an early version of "The Wizard & I" that was cut and changed during the workshops.
And here's "The Wizard & I."

And, for an Oz parody/tribute, here's a take on Oz from That 70's Show.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The Wonders of Oz Episode 2

Yeah, I uploaded it today! I just went and got on the ball with it!

I'd actually picked out the song at the end a long time ago, when I thought about a possible new movie about L. Frank Baum. Although I'd like to one, this is probably the closest I'll get for awhile.

Aaron Pacentine returns as narrator.

You'll also notice that, except for the credits, I used no text effects.

What do you think?

Returning to Oz #27

Hey! Turns out there's another episode of Aaron Pacentine's Returning to Oz up. In this almost half-hour episode, Aaron interviews Joshua Patrick Dudley, who wrote the book Lost in Oz.

In this episode, Aaron gives Joshua a very solid interview, asking him about how he writes his stories, what's coming up, and Joshua as a person.

Joshua reveals some very interesting items about Lost in Oz.

This episode doesn't have much on the many incarnations of Oz as heard in previous episodes, BUT this is not a problem at all. It sticks to a main focus and continues from there, so it's a very strong episode in itself.

Another thing I noted right away is that the sound quality has improved over past episodes. Yes, you may want to turn up your volume a bit, but it's very good nonetheless.

Once again, it's an episode worth the listening, unless you've sworn off all things Lost in Oz.

(And no, I'm not saying nice things just because Aaron is also the current host of The Wonders of Oz. I really enjoyed the episode.)

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Did You Know...

(Here's something I may do every now and then...)

  • Did you know that L. Frank Baum and Walt Disney are buried in the same cemetary? Along with them are Louis L'Amour (one of my father's favorite authors), Jimmy Stewart,
  • Errol Flynn, Mary Pickford, Red Skelton, and Nat King Cole.
    Did you know that The Oz Film Manufacturing Company was one of the first (if not
    the first) attempts at Family Films?

Wonders of a Shiz shirt

While at work, some teenage boy that was with his mum came through our checkstand. I couldn't help but notice his shirt.

"Property of SHIZ UNIVERSITY (WKD) Athletic Dept."

Yeah... Wicked t-shirts!

If you want to see the shirt (and/or buy it), here you go! (They also have green glasses. Might want to get a pair. Never know when you might wind up in the Emerald City... and I don't mean Seattle.)

Did I say "mum" earlier? See, Sam! Something in your e-mails rubbed off!

I also worked QUITE a bit on The Wonders of Oz episode 2 today. In it, you will hear a GREAT voice for Dorothy! And get this, it is done by an adult! (And my computer...)

In this episode, I cut a lot of material from my original script. As I'm not telling EVERYTHING about Baum's life (encouraging research, here!), there were a few bits I left out, including exactly why Dot & Tot of Merryland was the last Baum/Denslow book. It may be addressed in a future episode, such the one about plays, and I have been considering a special episode about the first two illustrators of the Oz books.

I have also almost decided to make my International Wizard of Oz Club 50th Anniversary video as a special episode completely dedicated to the Club. (It is currently covered in episode 4, which is going to be a long one if something isn't cut.)

Anyways, the second episode should be finished and online by the end of the week.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Wonders of Oz Episode 2 Update

So... am I going to have you waiting over a month for a new episode of The Wonders of Oz? No! In fact, serious editing can begin tomorrow. I have the narration, an ending song (it's going to be different in every episode), and many of the pictures I'll need downloaded. I'd say it might be released by August 11, at best. And episode 3 has already been recorded, so it wouldn't be too long before I could get that one up.

Tonight, I heard a rendition of "Over The Rainbow" at work. It starts out with Judy Garland singing the first verse (NOT from the movie soundtrack), then moves into a saxaphone solo. If anyone is familiar with this recording, please let me know.