Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Podcast updates!

I'm pleased to announce work is ensuing for up to four podcasts! There's an interview, then co-blogger Sam Milazzo and I will be discussing a current topic, then, for Baum's birthday, another podcast in which a story is read by a narrator a cast.

In June, we'll be attempting a special commemorative podcast.

Sorry for the lack of Oz blogs, I haven't had my mind in Oz recently, but plan to get back in soon!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Oz In Other Lands

I was just thinking a few days ago how different countries have accepted Oz. In Japan, they've been extremely receptive, and there's been many different adaptations in artwork, literature, anime, and even film. It also seems that Return to Oz was well-received there, as was The Oz Kids series. Over in the UK, you'll find Oz aficionados.

Just about any country with an animation studio has made some sort of Oz adaptation, and both Brazil and Turkey have made Oz films. It seems the Turkish Wizard of Oz is a fondly remembered by the Turkish people, and is often aired on television.

And now to Russia. Most Oz fans know that Alexander Volkov rewrote The Wonderful Wizard of Oz as a Russian fairy tale, then wrote a series of original sequels, ironically ending at six, where Baum had meant to end his series. Just like the Oz books, the series has been expanded by other writers, and adapted for stage, television and film. And proper translations of the Oz books have appeared in Russia, and they've even produced an animated hybrid adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and Volkov's version, which was followed by an adaptation of The Marvelous Land of Oz. Recently, it seems that a Russian studio is working on a movie called The Wizard of Oz.

My question is, what makes this American fairyland so popular overseas? Are the adventure and the story and the personal quests so universal that it doesn't matter what country is enjoying them?

Feel free to discuss.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Royal Podcast of Oz: An Interview With Edward Einhorn

A new podcast is up, it's an interview with Edward Einhorn, a bit of a follow-up to our Einhorn-a-thon sometime back. You can listen with the player below, or download it at the podcast website.

Sadly, due to some technical difficulties with my updated recording software, some parts of the talk were missing in the recorded file, so I had to remove even more pieces of audio so it would make perfect sense. However, the finished product should be pleasing to Oz fans.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Winkies or Bust

So, since I moved in with family, my bills were greatly decreased, down to paying my cell phone bill and other necessary items, as well as pitching in with the household.

People who've been reading my blog for a long time know I want to go to the Winkie Convention, but the past few years, my finances or family issues were prohibitive. When I realized the situation I'd be in now, I thought that maybe I'd finally get to take the short vacation I've wanted for awhile. (My dream vacation is actually visiting my friends who live in other countries.)

With some extra pay coming next month, I just finished talking about it with my room mates, and they're cool with me going.

SO... Looks like, unless something weird happens, I'm going to the Winkie Convention at last. Now to plan how to get there... (Anyone else going who I might be able to meet up and travel with, contact me!)

I won't try to pull off anything really big, I just want to enjoy it. But anyone else who's going might be surprised at just how quiet I can be in person.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Dorothy in Wonderland; Alice and the Wizard

When The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was released, it was one of a very few examples of fantasy literature of the time. While yes, there had been stories about fantasy worlds before (the earliest examples being in mythology, and one must remember E.T.A. Hoffman's Land of Sweets in The Nutcracker and the King of Mice), the story of Oz was inevitably compared to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Even today, the comparisons continue.

Martin Gardner's The Annotated Alice (we've both read the Definitive Edition) points out that Lewis Carroll put much social and cultural satire into the Alice books. He managed to weave this into a fantasy story for children, and the work has largely been regarded nonsense literature, as the subjects that Carroll was satirizing have been largely forgotten.

On the other hand, we may maintain that L. Frank Baum wrote his first Oz story (and likely the many sequels) with the thought of only pleasing children. Yes, he often threw in some commentary about his day, but he did not go on the same level as Carroll.

Despite the major differences, there are some similarities between the two works. Alice's fall down the rabbit hole was echoed by Dorothy, Zeb, Jim, and Eureka falling through the earth in Dorothy & the Wizard in Oz and later the Hollow Tube that goes straight through the earth in Tik-Tok of Oz.

Alice's eating or drinking-induced growing or shrinking was echoed by Baum in his Queer Visitors from the Marvelous Land of Oz story "Eliza and the Magic Lozenges," as well as the berries that Trot and Cap'n Bill eat so that the Ork can carry them easily in The Scarecrow of Oz.

A friend pointed out to me that Baum practically responds to Carroll in The Marvelous Land of Oz. In the first Alice story, this little bit is read:
'Really, now you ask me,' said Alice, very much confused, 'I don't think--'
'Then you shouldn't talk,' said the Hatter.
Then in The Marvelous Land of Oz...
"This should be a warning to you never to think," returned the Scarecrow, severely. "For unless one can think wisely it is better to remain a dummy -- which you most certainly are."

One notable change and difference between the two lies in how the girls explore the lands. When Dorothy visits a strange country, she is actually told which land it is, be it Oz, Ev, the Mangaboos . . . whereas with Alice, no one actually says "Wonderland" or "the World of the Looking Glass / Looking-Glass Land", so everyone (the readers and audience of adaptations) therefore take on the title of the worlds from the books, even go far as to believe they are one and the same. And when the girls are in these worlds, their interaction has them meeting royalty and a Lion character and strange creatures that are a combination of more than one.

However, whereas Dorothy comes to know and love the people of Oz, sadly bidding them good-bye and eagerly awaiting a return, Alice does not entirely get along well with the inhabitants of Wonderland or Looking-Glass Land, nor does she have fond memories of them (except for the White Knight). Nor does Alice actually put an end to any tyranny or rude habits of the people.

Most significantly, both girls do have similar beginnings with their adventures: nodding off. Dorothy falls asleep during her ride in the Cyclone as well as riding the coop in the stormy sea and even fainted when falling through an earthquake; Alice gets bored and tired from the summer sun with her sister's pictureless book, and later inside on a comfy armchair while it snows outside.

However, it is actually mentioned that Dorothy falls asleep, while Alice's talking and thinking out loud becomes the dream without even told that she is asleep.

There are also some minor comparisons in the illustrations: both girls commonly wear blue gowns with aprons - though it is Dorothy who is specifically described as wearing blue, Alice's clothing was originally drawn in black-and-white then coloured much later by Peter Newell (When Tenniel's illustrations were first colored, Alice's dress was yellow). And there have been adaptations and other illustrations where they DON'T have blue.

Recently, it came to attention that some accuse Baum of plagiarizing Carroll. It must be remembered that when Baum was growing up, the Alice books were published, so the possibilities that he read them is very high. However, there is a clear cut between plagiarism and inspiration, and basic reading of the Oz books should prove that while Baum may have borrowed a few ideas from Carroll (fairylands that are accessible through various means, talking animals, young female protagonist, quirky characters, mainly matriarchal government, etc.), he made his own complete world.

Comparisons (and this blog) by Jared Davis and Sam Milazzo