Saturday, November 28, 2009

Calendar Contest WINNER!!!

I'm pleased to announce that Miss Amber Ruth is the winner of the calendar giveaway contest! Congratulations, Amber, and I hope you enjoy the calendar throughout 2010!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Hey, guys...

Yeah, the move went well, but sadly, I've found little time to devote to my Oz projects. (That latest podcast I need to finish editing keeps looming at me... My guests on it have been very gracious...) I couldn't switch jobs, so my time to get to work and back greatly increased. (Two and a half times?) That might change soon, though.

Anyways, I do look around on the IMDb message board for the MGM movie, and one poster asked what the message of the movie was. Here was my reply:

The book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was written simply to entertain children ("Modern education provides morality," noted Baum in the introduction, "therefore the modern child seeks only entertainment in its wonder tales..."). There are many, many messages people have read into it, many of which work. Some people want to see LGBT messages, some anti-religious, some Theosophist, and some take the story at face value. My thought is Baum was more interested in telling a story than making a takeaway message. No one ever reads so deeply into his other books, though...

The movie definitely did stress the "There's no place like home" message (a concept only touched on in the book rather early on), but I think it shares the book's "multiple messages" trait.

Contest winner to be announced tomorrow... But there's still time to enter!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

What I've decided...

SO... here's the Christmas lineup. While I'll do another blog about The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus, I'm also going to do one about A Kidnapped Santa Claus. We'll also look into adaptations of the story as well as other Santa Claus stories by the other authors of the Famous Forty Oz books.

Sam has said he might throw some blogs in, as he's read the book, and I invited him to offer his opinions on the adaptations he's seen.

If anyone out there has a copy of the anime Shounen Santa no daibôken (The Adventures of Young Santa Claus), PLEASE let me know!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Too early?

SO... yesterday, I started re-reading The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus. I finished it today, and also read A Kidnapped Santa Claus. Now I'm re-reading Mike Ploog's graphic novel adaptation.

Is it too early to start blogging about it?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Wizard of Oz Calendar Contest!

With the closing of the 70th Anniversary of MGM's "The Wizard of Oz," merchandise is still selling very well, and one may wonder about the next wall calendar to celebrate the classic film.

How do you make a calendar based on an iconic film that has probably had the best shots used on calendars years past?

The challenge has fallen to the capable hands of Andrews McMeel Publishing. Instead of using frames from the movie, they've instead used publicity images and photography from the film to create an eye-pleasing image for each month of the year. Each piece of art resembles a vintage poster but with a modern feel to it, which really feels Ozzy!

You can buy the poster from this link, or you can try your luck (and knowledge of Oz movies) to win one for free! Yep! I'm glad to actually sponsor a giveaway contest.

Contest will end when winner is selected or on November 28, 2009, whichever happens first. (There will be a notification of the winner on the blog.)
Answers posted in the comments will be deleted and not counted as an entry, even if they are correct.
Send your answers to the following questions to with the subject line "CONTEST ANSWERS."
Do NOT send your mailing address unless I request it. Only the winner's mailing address will be requested.
For safety reasons, if the winner is under 18 years of age, the mailing address must be supplied by a parent or legal guardian.
Mailing address must be a location where a large envelope can be delivered. If it is returned, there will be no re-ship.
The winner will be the third person who answers all six questions correctly.
Because the calendar shows only American and Canadian holidays, I'd prefer to limit the entrants to North America. However, if you'd still like the calendar for the artwork, go ahead and give it a shot!

  • True or False: MGM bought only the rights to the book "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" when they were making their movie.
  • Which three MGM cast members later played Oz characters in other productions? (Hint: One was a parody.)
  • What was the first Oz Blu-Ray release?
  • Aside from the MGM movie, what Oz movie was released on a DVD with an audio commentary track?
  • In Disney's "Return to Oz," which Oz book was referenced for more on one of the characters?
  • The 1964 animated "Return to Oz" follows which Oz book?

The Oz Anime Series ONLINE!!!

While the film industry at first feared the rise of video hosting sites, they've eventually warmed up to the idea and seen that they can be useful. Hulu, for example, streams licensed content, so you can catch up on your favorite television shows if you've missed them recently. YouTube now streams licensed movies and television shows. And across the pond in the UK, viewers can see their favorites on the BBC iPlayer.

Jaroo, a website that streams animated content, has apparently licensed the PanMedia anime series based on L. Frank Baum's Oz series. I blogged about the series sometime back when I'd been able to see the entire English series. After that, some people asked me to upload it to a file sharing site or send them copies, but now I'm glad I didn't give in, because now they can see the series legally and free of charge.

The series is uploaded at one episode a week, so it should take a year before the entire series is on the site. The site currently has the first several episodes of "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" serial, as well as the *cough*terrible*cough* 90-minute abridgement of it.

Oz fans are already asking, "Can an official DVD release be far behind?" The answer still hangs at "maybe." If the series on Jaroo gets enough views, they may consider it. The reason why Cookie Jar (the owners of the English series) didn't release it before is that they didn't feel there was enough of a demand for it. But at least now they have finally released a way for you to see it. Go look!

Some Advice for Self-Publishing Writers: A Reader's View

Self-publishing has always been a way for Oz fans to share their Oz stories. With the rise of the internet and print-on-demand sites such as Lulu, the possibilities for Oz fans to share their stories grew exponentially.

Sadly, this has proved to be a mixed blessing. While you may have Oz fans publishing their stories to share them with the world (or reprint some books), you have other Oz fans who want to set themselves up as "published authors" by using such services.

Let me set something straight: it is not an accomplishment to put a book on Lulu. In fact, major publishers will ignore your work unless you have sold very well. (And don't even think that Hollywood would like to make a movie based on your book.)

Also, I really think that the producer of the work should not be so quick to label themselves as an author. An author produces quality work, and really, a writer should not be trusted to decide if their own work is quality.

Anyone who is writing any book would benefit from bringing in an editor who can critique the work and offer corrections. And the editor's advice should definitely be heeded. A good editor is worth their weight in gold. (Sadly, they often get a lot less.) Just about every professional author still has an editor aboard, and many writers have re-written stories from scratch at the editor's suggestion, realizing that their editor was definitely right and a better story was told because of it.

When it comes to Oz stories, I have one word: research. Stay well-read in Baum and any other books you might be deriving elements from. (Make sure to respect copyright laws!) And even if your book is not intended to work with the entire Famous Forty, there is usually no need to contradict any post-Baum books. (Get a copy of "Who's Who In Oz" for some quick reference.) You might even find it helpful to read up on the lives of the authors of those books, seeing what shaped their stories.

Be very careful when you make claims about continuity. One book I recently read claimed to be in line with Baum but contradicted several points. If the writer had said he was writing a new continuity, then there would have been no problem. If you're keeping in line with Baum, there should be no need to specify that you are.

About these differing continuities: handle them well. Think "will this be a take on Oz that could interest and not offend Oz fans?" "Is this too different from Baum's Oz?" I actually have a bit of advice. If you're going to make an Oz that feels nothing like Baum's Oz, why not make your own world instead of Oz and give yourself even more freedom? (Many fantasy and science fiction writers were clearly inspired by previous authors, including Baum, and some admit it..)

Also with differing continuities: be original with your plot. No one wants a retelling of a good book that already exists in a viable form. A certain book published a couple years ago claimed to be an original sequel to "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz," ignoring all other sequels, and even said the reader would need to empty their mind of any other follow-ups to enjoy this book, while the book itself was a glorified re-write of "The Marvelous Land of Oz."

Another thing that irks me is the surprising number of people who want their book made into a movie. When it comes to Oz, not even all of Baum's books have been made into successful movies. (I even noted some time back that there has not been a theatrically-released Oz movie that was a financial success upon the initial release.) And why does the writer want a movie before they've made the effort to make braille and audio editions for the blind? And how about translating it into another language? If the work is so good that it could be a film, why not make the effort to put the work out there as much as possible?

In the end, being an author, even a self-published one, is going to take a lot more work than churning out a story and putting it on a print-on-demand service. You have a responsibility to your readers that should not be taken lightly.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Hey, all

Some of you may have noticed something shocking: I haven't been online much recently! Yep, no posts on Twitter (save a few yesterday), no posts on the International Wizard of Oz Club Forums, and no e-mails.

The reason? No, I haven't sworn off the internet or Oz, the fact is, I just moved in with my sister and her husband (who shall henceforth be called Audrey and Shaun). They do have internet access, but only one modem. We're going to get a router next weekend, so we can split the connection between their computer, my computer, and the Wii (Ah-ha! You knew there was definitely some temptation there...), so until then, I'm limiting my time online to an extreme minimum to be respectful to my new housemates.

No worries, my computer is hooked up and on, so I can still work on Oz projects on it. There's also a few blogs I need to post that I can type up, so there'll be a few ready to post then.

Also, when I signed in to write this, I saw Sam has posted his first blog here. Hopefully he can help keep this blog from going completely dead until then...

See you all next week!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

My (Sam's) First Oz Blog on Jared's Royal Blog of Oz

Even though I have been granted co-authorship of posting blogs here by Jared, I still firmly believe this is his property . . . I am merely a guest. Who rarely blogs, if at all.

Plus this way I actually get to see something new on Jared's Royal Oz Blog, while i wait for him . . .

I had been asked "Why not talk about 'Sam's Take on "Wicked"?' and that is reasonable, having read the book . . . but I should make my first Oz Blog on a book from a subject I don't like? Not yet!

So something better . . . Today I went into the city to see Terry Gilliam's "the Imaginorium of Dr Parnassus" (the final film with Heath Ledger). The session was at 12:30 so I had plenty of time before the screening. Bought Brunch (you know: breakfast AND lunch in one), looked around the Queen Victoria Building (what a Christmas tree they put up!! One couple kindly asked me to take a photo of them near the top of the tree - which I did) and did a bit of $pending.
Went into JB-Hifi to see if I could get myself one or two clear double-disk DVD cases - none there! INSTEAD, I found, surprisingly . . . all three 70th Anniversary Editions of MGM's the Wizard of Oz: the 2-dsk DVD (only HERE in Aus it is labelled "sing along version" and the cover is extra decorated with the music symbols), the 4-disk DVD and the Blu-Ray. Looking on both back covers of the larger sets, they did/do have the 52-page commemorative book, but the Blu-Ray also has a CD of the movie/soundtrack . . . . I already have the songs on the 2-dsk Deluxe soundtrack (which my best friend Angelo Scandura got me)

Still deciding and waiting to get the DVD and Blu-Ray of WB's possession of MGM's adaptation of Wizard/Oz.

Hope you all liked my first Oz Blog . . . it was longer than I thought.

Oh and terry Gilliam's movie? It was good, some people around me laughed at some parts of the movie, quite stylish at times (I often wish Oz would be given detailed fashion and style in a faithful presentation, but not too overwhelming to the story) sometimes it brought to mind Alice/Looking Glass . . . IN FACT, the Disney Trailer for Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland" finally showed itself on Australian Cinema screens; only this time instead of Johnny Depp/Mad Hatter laughing, came this:
ALICE (audio): That's impossible . . . !
MAD HATTER (shows face): Only if you believe it so.

White Rabbit goes on to point/tap his watch as normal.