Thursday, May 31, 2012

Havenly Dreams Beneath Oz

Okay, when I got The Green Goblins of Oz and The Land Before Oz, they came in a 3-pack with Havenly Dreams Beneath Oz. (Still available, by the way!) And that's not my copy scanned. My copy's cover got a little damaged when I was carrying it while walking and sweat made some of the cover get raw as my hand rubbed against it.

The connecting theme of the three books is the Goblin characters from Goblin Grotto, which was explored extensively in Green Goblins. Land Before Oz followed the two leads from that story on a new adventure.

Havenly Dreams (by Chris Dulabone and Marin Xiques) takes us back to Goblin Grotto to look at another side of life in that land of Goblins: specifically, the lives of Goblin children.

We meet two Goblin girls: Raspberry and Soulae. Raspberry lives with her rude mother and is teased and picked on by the other kids in school. She has read many of the Oz books and dreams of Oz all the time. She also misses her father who left when she was very young.

I was wondering if it would turn out that Raspberry's father was Yawner or Dumper, but no, it seems that Goblin women are so nasty, fathers eventually have to leave and never look back.

On the other hand, Soulae is the adopted daughter of a Goblin baroness, except her arrival at her home was delayed by several years and by the time she did arrive, the baroness had adopted from elsewhere and didn't want anymore children, so Soulae becomes a Cinderella-esque character, made to work while her lazy sisters enjoy life.

Soulae's life gets a surprise from Oz when Eddie Bear grants her wish to visit the Land of Oz (which she heard of from Billy Hill), and she has an exciting and perilous adventure with Dorothy, the Hungry Tiger, the Cowardly Lion, and the Tin Woodman before she finally returns home.

And one day, two little Goblin girls eventually meet...

Havenly Dreams Under Oz was a very enjoyable book, though I couldn't help but think the stories of Raspberry and Soulae were unevenly balanced. We follow Raspberry for several chapters, then Soulae, then Soulae's trip to Oz, which is almost a completely different story altogether. Finally, we get back to Goblin Grotto, where the story returns to its former form and concludes. Still, this is more of how the authors chose to write the story than an actual flaw. Being a writer myself, I would likely have approached the different storylines differently, but in the end, I enjoyed the story as it flowed.

Dennis Anfuso illustrated the book with his whimsical style.

So, I'd recommend Havenly Dreams, whether or not you also want Green Goblins and Land Before. It stands on its own as a very sweet story about how friendship and love can make a difference, even in a land of goblins.

You can get Havenly Dreams Beneath Oz here.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Shoot 'Em Up

I know there was an article in an old Baum Bugle called "Guns of Oz," but I haven't read it. In writing about guns in the Oz series, I'm probably going to mention many of the same things, however. The most famous gun in the series is probably the one the Soldier with Green Whiskers carries, which is never loaded. Well, hardly ever. He admits in The Land of Oz that he's forgotten where he hid the powder and shot to load it, and some later books have illustrations of his gun with flowers in the barrel. I believe the first time we see Omby Amby actually fire the weapon is in Ozoplaning, in which it's loaded with marbles. Scalawagons has it loaded with an even more bizarre substance, namely popcorn. In Ozma, he's armed with a spear rather than a gun, and appears to be much more proficient with it.

While the Soldier refers to his gun as the "only musket in the kingdom" in Lucky Bucky, this is obviously not true. In fact, muskets grow on a tree in Oogaboo, as do bullets.

At least, the text identifies the guns as muskets, but I thought those were single-shot weapons. When Jo Files encounters the Rak in Tik-Tok, he fires several bullets at once.

Admittedly, I don't know much about guns, and I don't know how much L. Frank Baum knew. The musket tree plays a significant role in David Hulan's apocryphal Glass Cat, in which the Bad Lads temporarily take control of the country by taking over the tree. And in Karyl Carlson and Eric Gjovaag's Queen Ann, Jo Padlocks' son shows a particular aptitude for firearms, therefore taking the name Jo Musket.

Other guns appear throughout the series, and since I'm working mostly from memory here, this list is likely not to be exhaustive. In Dorothy and the Wizard, the Wizard is armed with two revolvers, presumably from the United States. He also uses a pistol to fire a magical ball in Magic. In Emerald City, the Spoon Brigade of Utensia carries muskets that the spoons claim could kill Toto with one shot, but we never learn whether this is bluster or fact.

Corporal Waddle of Bear Center has a toy popgun in Lost Princess.

The Skeezer guards in Glinda are "armed with queer weapons that seemed about halfway between pistols and guns, but were like neither"; I'd like to know more about these weapons, but no more information is given. Notta Bit More's huntsman disguise in Cowardly Lion includes a fake gun. Grampa carries a gun throughout his journey, but I don't believe he actually uses it. In Purple Prince, Ozwoz's mechanical wooden soldiers are all armed with loaded guns.

The bandits in Ojo have guns, and Realbad uses one to shoot some birds.

Handy Mandy takes a gun, along with a bunch of other weapons, from one the Keretarian guards. She leaves them all behind when crossing the Munchkin River, but I can't help but think of the seven-armed girl in terms of role-playing video games. Holding weapons in both hands will often give a character multiple hits, so just imagine what weapons in seven hands would do. Wonder City has chocolate soldiers with chocolate guns, and Forbidden Fountain introduces us to Toby Bridlecull, a man whose two pistols are loaded with stinging Borderwasps.

I left out a few instances of firearms that I found of particular note. As you might expect, there are a lot of guns in Pirates. John Bell wrote a bit about this when Pirates was the Book of Current Focus on Nonestica. Not only is young Peter Brown depicted with various guns in the illustrations, but he also fires a cannon right into a castle boat.

One of the Crescent Moon's cannons is also employed in Captain Salt, albeit not by a child this time. When a lava baby ends up on the ship, Captain Salt shoots him back to his mother on Lavaland using the cannon. Speedy is also rather loaded with guns, particularly in the part dealing with the warring Roaraway Island. While they mostly use bows and arrows, they also have a cannon that fires a volley of arrows, and King Radj keeps a giant water gun that can sink an island. Speedy manages to destroy this secret weapon by using a ray gun that can melt metal.

As you may have noticed, there are quite a few guns in the books, but very few gun-related injuries. Pirates and Ojo both have birds being shot down, and the Rak in Tik-Tok is injured with three bullets, but most of the time the narrative gets around such things. Either the guns aren't used, or the characters are protected from them somehow. This strikes me as the authors being unwilling to show the ugly side of Oz and its surrounding nations. Where there are guns, there is almost certainly gun violence. Besides, guards would be unlikely to carry guns unless someone at least thought they would do some damage.

With Ozites being practically immortal, what would a shot that would normally be deadly do to them? We're told that, if someone is ripped to pieces, the pieces would remain alive. If an Ozite is shot, would they eventually heal from it, as the Rak claims he will? What if he or she is shot in the head? The question remains open. There's also the issue of hunting, which apparently takes place in Oz despite the fact that animals can talk. That aside, is an animal that's shot down not really dead? Will it start showing signs of life again if you wait long enough? I suppose skinning and cooking an animal would count as total destruction, but what if a hunter just leaves the wounded animal on the ground?

Al in Oz?

My friend Al Cook asked if I could give him a little plug.

He's a professional artist with a very unique style. Recently, he completed this album artwork:
I have no idea how many Biro pens have died at that man's hands.

However, Al is a fan of the Oz books as well and has mentioned to me he'd enjoy an Oz illustration job. I tried to get him to illustrate Outsiders, but we couldn't work out a schedule, and being a professional artist, my terms of payment weren't quite what he needed.

Still, if you got an Oz project you think might meet his style, drop him a line at

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Land Before Oz

What was Oz like before it was a fairyland? Well, The Land Before Oz doesn't exactly tell you. It tells you what Oz was like back in the time of the dinosaurs. So, yeah, we're looking at Oz before it was a fairyland, just much further back than you may have thought.

The main part in prehOZstoric times deals with a group of friendly herbivore dinosaurs who are planning a charity for two orphaned iguanadons. Since this is Chris Dulabone and Marin Xiques writing, you can expect that instead of a fantasy based on fact, these dinosaurs live a life loosely based on modern life, even with property ownership and a currency. So, rather than complain about it being unrealistic, you take the story on its own and enjoy it.

Meanwhile, in present-day Oz, King Nibble of Giant's Peak (Baum's "The Littlest Giant") sets out to use his Golden Dart to make more trouble for the people of Oz. However, the way he leaves Giant's Peak causes him to be reduced to human sized, and he soon meets the Tin Woodman and the Woozy, who have befriended Yawner and Dumper, the titular characters from The Green Goblins of Oz. However, when Nibble tries to use the Golden Dart on the Tin Woodman, he catches it, and to make itself return to Nibble, the Dart sends the Tin Woodman and his friends back in time to our friendly herbivores.

And not only do we have Nibble roaming present-day Oz with the Golden Dart, back in prehOZstoric (okay, that word is not in the book, I made it up, though I can swear I saw it before) times, all attempts at making the charity succeed are being sabotaged by a saber-tooth tiger named Suzy and a dull-witted raptor named Boggus who want the baby iguanadons dead!

So, can Suzy, Nibble, and Boggus be foiled before their wicked schemes come to fruition? And can the Tin Woodman and his friends get back to present-day Oz?

Overall, The Land Before Oz is quite a fun little story! Just remember to have fun with it! It's also illustrated by Aaron Almanza, who can be goofy, but definitely enjoys drawing dinos!

You can get the book here!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Royal Podcast of Oz: Shirley Temple's Land of Oz

Jared and Sam discuss the first color episode of The Shirley Temple Show, which featured an adaptation of The Marvelous Land of Oz!

As always, you can listen and download at the podcast site, or use the player below:


Podcast Powered By Podbean

Friday, May 25, 2012

John - the alternate ending

The Spring 2012 issue of The Baum Bugle featured a little surprise to all Baum fanatics: a previously unknown short story named "John." However... Does anyone else think that Baum was being a bit too nice to that girl who was going to rob her parents and run away with a slick scoundrel?

I think Marcus Mébès was in a very odd mood when he wrote this alternate ending.

WARNING: Little bit of language and rampant silliness. Plus, a spoiler if you haven't read the original story yet...

“Oh, John,” she whispered, sobbing upon his broad breast, “can you ever forgive me?”

At that moment John was more frustrated than by any event of that adventurous morning, but he nevertheless had the courage to speak what was on his mind.

Grasping both her trembling shoulders in his large hands, he pushed her away from him and looked deep into her teary eyes.

“Skank ho, you pushed my affections aside for that scoundrel, and were ready—and willing!—to run off with him.” Registering the shock on her face, and with a modicum of satisfaction, John continued. “Do you expect me to believe that you knew nothing about the money? Oh, sure; you fought him off to protect me... but that’s only because we were making enough racket to wake them up.” He gestured to her parents, both of whom were standing now on the doorstep, aghast. “Think they bought your act?”

Lavinia’s face was contorted in agony and despair. “Oh, oh John... you’re absolutely horrid! How could you even think that?”

“Six years, bitch. Six years I’ve been falling in love with you. It took one week to fall out of love with you.” John narrowed his eyes to slits and looked her over appraisingly. “And you, so mercurial, would run to me when your knight in armor is no where to be found. Did you even pay enough attention to realize that I’d unfriended you on Facebook three days ago? No? Too busy with that prat?” He spat on the ground at her feet. “You disgust me.”

Lavinia burst into tears and tried to run into her father’s arms, but the farmer had turned to face his wife. “Mother! Daddy! It’s not true!”

Mr. Harkins’s jaw moved, but his voice seemed to have left him. He stared wide-eyed at his daughter, then back to his wife. “Our own flesh and blood...” he murmured, wiping away a tear from Mrs. Harkin’s cheek.

Lavinia, seeing no harbor in this tempest, grabbed her bag and stumblingly ran down the road in the direction Sanderson had fled. “It was fake anyway!” she called over her shoulder, choking on her sobs. “It wasn’t real money! And I wouldn’t have let him cash that check! Oh, you’re all three horrid! I wish we’d gone sooner! We will cash that check! You’re screwed, you old fogies!”

“I’ll stop payment, dumbass!” called farmer Harkins in retort to her threat. “Just try’n do it! Hah!”

John and the Harkinses watched Lavinia stumble and stagger down the lane with stone facades. It took much time and much theatrics and hysterical commentary before she disappeared from view in the early morning. The sunrise shone its rays, blotting out the dark events that had occurred.

“Well,” sighed Mrs. Harkins, “I s’pose I ought to get the griddle cakes started. There’s work to be done.” She turned, her shoulders slumped, and headed back into the house. “There’s a good episode of Oprah on later today. Mind you don’t disturb me when I’m watching it.”

“Y’think she’ll be back?” asked John, still staring down the road.

“She’s too naive to make it far. I’d give her ’til nightfall. If she ain’t back by then, she’s sure to be back by to-morrow.” He looked sidelong at the hired man. “You still wantin’ her for a wife?”

John chewed his bottom lip and spat. He stared at the sunrise for a moment, then looked at Mr. Harkins. “Nah. I think I had enough of her. If you folks don’t mind, I’d like to stay on a bit longer, though. Just ’til I can get settled on that property I got.”

“Cow needs milkin’. Can work on the fields later on after breakfast.” Harkins sat down on the stoop and shook his head morosely. “I guess if she don’t come back, you could just stay here; take her room.” He gave John an earnest look. “Don’t think I could convince you to stay on, could I?”

John shook his head. “We’ll be neighbors, though. You folks are like family to me. I’ll always think of you that way.”

“Our boy, John,” mused Mr. Harkins sadly. “Sounds about right.”

“She farted too much anyway,” commented Mrs. Harkins from inside, where she was preparing griddle cakes. “Always blamed it on the dog... but we hain’t got one. Curdled the milk somethin’ fierce. Good riddance to bad rubbish, I say.”

“Should’ve never taken her in from that traveling circus,” added Mr. Harkins. “They said she was trouble, but we really felt it in our hearts to take her in after she got hurt with that donkey. Doin’ such stuff! ’Tweren’t natural. At least, not at her age.”

“You mean t’tell me she weren’t your natural daughter?” demanded John, aghast. He recalled Mr. Harkins saying something along the lines of “our own flesh and blood,” and said as much to the old farm couple.

“Heck no. Was a figure of speech. I just can’t get over how easily she fell for that vermin, and how easily she turned on us.” Then Mrs. Harkins added, “Thank goodness! We can finally air out the house. Even the skunks didn’t smell that bad. What was she eatin’? The way she pooted, was like some critter crawled up her bum, curled up an’ died!”

“Think it must’a been all them vegemite sandwiches,” mused John. “The way she made ’em with pickles and onions, I’m amazed we didn’t all die from carbon monoxide poisonin’.” He shook his head, clearing it from the groggy haze he had been living under for six years. “Dang! I wanted to marry that?”

“Where the heck do you get vegemite in America these days?" demanded Mrs. Harkins, annoyed. She had been requesting it from CostPlus World Market, but the store never had any fortune in special ordering it.

“What’ll happen with that prat Sanderson?” wondered John, ignoring her question. He knew that Lavinia had been ordering her stores of vegemite off a seller on eBay, but felt that the older generation might not understand the complex machinations of such transactions.

Mr. Harkins found a Yankees baseball cap hanging on the door-frame and donned it backwards. “I'mma call my posse, get ’em to bust a cap in dat ass!” He held up two fingers, then pointed downward. “Word to yo’ motha, Dawg.”

John pulled his cell from his pocket, checking it for messages. Seeing none, he replaced it and looked up at the sky. “Well, let’s get to work!”

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Cheerful Citizens

The Cheerful Citizens of Oz, by Ruth Plumly Thompson - Since this is just a book of poems about Oz characters, there isn't too much to say about it. They're in Thompson's typical light style of verse, pleasant enough but nothing poetically amazing. Most of her character choices are obvious, aside from the Umbrellaphant, a suggestion from Fred Meyer. The oddest selection in the bunch is Breakfast the Bananny Goat, an original Thompson character but not a significant one, as she only shows up in a few chapters of one book. A few other interesting points:
  • Sir Hokus' true identity, as revealed in The Yellow Knight of Oz, is ignored in his poem.
  • The Umbrellaphant's poem indicates that he's Tandy's companion, while in Captain Salt his master is the magician Boglodore. Are we supposed to assume that Boglodore gave him to the young king, or is there more than one Umbrellaphant?
  • Rob Roy MacVeigh's illustration for "The Wonderful Land of Oz" shows mostly existing Oz books, but also something called Ding Dong of Oz, showing a bell with eyes on the spine and crediting Reilly & Lee as publishers. There's also a Disney edition of Pinocchio, for some reason. I have to wonder what kind of character Ding Dong would be, and what sort of adventures he would have. Since he's a bell, he might be somehow related to John R. Neill's Nota-Bells, although they wear the bells for hats rather than having their faces on them.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Glad to Be Gayelette

In Chapter 14 of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the King of the Winged Monkeys tells a story that comes off as a major tangent. It tells more about the history of the Winged Monkeys, but it also introduces seemingly important personages named Gayelette and Quelala who never again appear in the canon.

The King says, "There lived here then, away at the North, a beautiful princess, who was also a powerful sorceress. All her magic was used to help the people, and she was never known to hurt anyone who was good. Her name was Gayelette, and she lived in a handsome palace built from great blocks of ruby. Everyone loved her, but her greatest sorrow was that she could find no one to love in return, since all the men were much too stupid and ugly to mate with one so beautiful and wise."

There are a few interesting things to say about this, but let me first get out of the way that "mate" in this context doesn't refer to sex, although I suppose the sentence would still make sense if it did.

Anyway, Oz is divided into four countries, one for each of the main compass directions, but the North isn't visited or even named in Wizard. There are two hints that it exists, one being the presence of the Good Witch of the North and the other this story. The odd thing is that Gaylette's palace is made of ruby, yet the Gillikin Country's national color is revealed in the next book to be purple. While L. Frank Baum probably hadn't decided this at the time he wrote about Gayelette, why would the North and South BOTH use red?

Also, Gayelette comes across as a bit shallow. She does manage to find a husband eventually, however, by bringing up a handsome boy for the purpose, and using her magic to help him become handsome and wise. Shades of Pygmalion there, I suppose. You might think this would make Gayelette a lot older than her husband, but sorceresses in Baum's stories tend to have magic to keep themselves young. It isn't specifically stated that Gayelette does, but it would make sense.

On their wedding day, the Winged Monkeys throw Quelala in a lake, ruining his clothes. He takes it with good humor, but his bride does not, and initially wants to drown the Monkeys. Quelala intercedes for them, however, so instead she makes them slaves to the Golden Cap, a wedding present to Quelala that cost her half her kingdom. People in fairy tales are always spending half their kingdom on things, which I guess is how there get to be so many little kingdoms.

David Hulan's short story "The Gauds of Oz" attributes the making of the Cap to a jeweler named Joyero, who tires of ruling and trades back. He then trades the Cap to the Wicked Witch of the West in exchange for a rare jewel. The story is not canonical, of course, but it fits these things together nicely.

While the Monkey King reports that Gayelette was "beautiful and wise," he also portrays her as rather petty, perhaps appropriate considering who's talking. I mean, Gayelette DID enslave his tribe. It's certainly possible that the sorceress was good overall but had her flaws, presumably including being (in today's terminology) a bridezilla.

The more significant question here might be what happened to Gayelette. She was active in the time of Monkey King's grandfather, but we don't know how long Winged Monkeys typically live, and magicians tend to have long lifespans. So maybe she's still around, and some authors have utilized that possibility. She shows up in works by Roger Baum, Donald Abbott, and Marin Elizabeth Xiques.

Dennis Anfuso made her Glinda's mother, and Gili Bar-Hillel's "The Woozy's Tale" contains a brief reference to her being Glinda's cousin. I personally find the latter more likely, but who knows? I've also heard it suggested that Gayelette grew up to be the Good Witch of the North, which doesn't fit with what we're told about the Good Witch's past in Ruth Plumly Thompson's The Giant Horse of Oz.

March Laumer actually goes into quite a bit of detail about Gayelette's fate, with his Frogman revealing (SPOILERS) that Mombi turned her into a giant frog, and she eventually got together with the Frogman. Her marriage to Quelala wasn't quite the fairy tale romance it was made out to be, and I believe he ended up marrying a girl in Unnikegwick. As with most of Laumer's Oz writing, I find it to be a very clever solution, but I don't give it much credence in my own theories.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Another Bucketheadfull of Books!

Buckethead Enterprises launched in 1986, and one of the first titles was Toto in Oz by publisher Chris Dulabone. Of course now, Buckethead is Tails of the Cowardly Lion and Friends, and right now I'll look at three books published while they were still "Buckethead Enterprises." Except my copy of Toto in Oz is the 20th anniversary edition, released under the TOTCLAF imprint.

Toto in Oz—one of Dulabone's first Oz books—finds Toto unhappy with how people treat dogs and talk about them, so he sets off to give dogs a better name as he becomes magistrate of the little country of Arfrica. Soon, the Wizard, Dorothy, the Cowardly Lion, the Tin Woodman and the Sawhorse go looking for Toto, when they are suddenly placed under an enchantment.

This was definitely a strong start for Dulabone and I'm surprised at how well it flows. Also, Dulabone did quite admirably with the illustrations.

Mr. Flint in Oz by Ray Powell was a follow-up to The Raggedys in Oz, but as both books were published posthumously, this was published first. Hardas Flint (a man made of quartz) goes looking for his father Steely with the Tin Woodman and Scarecrow in tow. After some annoyances, they soon discover this adventure is bigger than any of them imagined.

While it was a fun, fine story, again Powell is a bit too heavy handed with his imagined mythology, making other Oz stories a little difficult to fit in. Long exposition scenes drag on for a little too long.

The book was illustrated by students in a Japanese school. Some of the pictures are excellent, some are passable, and a few are downright silly. Overall, it's rather pleasing, and some of the best artwork is the most prominent.

The Green Goblins of Oz by Chris Dulabone and Marin Xiques seems to pick up from Ryan Gannaway's A Clock Strikes in Oz (which I haven't read). Overall, the book tells about two goblins (friends of the narrator, a goblin himself), who leave the land of the goblins and head to Oz. Although they've heard of some of the people of Oz, no classic Oz characters appear, except a brief appearance by Polychrome.

The book, on its own, is a little unsatisfying as it cuts off right after the two goblins (Yawner and Dumper) get to Oz. This makes sense from the narrator's perspective, but for the reader, it's a little disappointing as we don't get a payoff.

However, I know now their story is picked up The Land Before Oz, so if you get that one, get this one, too. I'm reading The Land Before Oz right now, so I'll be writing about it soon.

The artwork isn't the greatest artwork ever, but it fits the funny nature of this oddball Oz book very well!

Friday, May 18, 2012

All the Colors of the Rainbow

A blog reader recently said they wanted to hear my thoughts on "the appeal of Oz to gay men," since I recently figured out I was one. I didn't think I had a real viewpoint, but now I think I have an idea.

Frankly, I don't think Oz specifically appeals to gay people. The Oz phenomenon has become so varied that there are things many people can love. There are some people not into Oz period, while some Oz fans are into film adaptations, musical versions, the original books, or other works. Some fans even like a smattering of each.

Trying to narrow down one thing about Oz and one thing about why it appeals to a certain type of people isn't doing many favors to Oz or the people you're looking at. Just as varied as the Oz phenomenon is, so are people, gay, straight or whatever else they are.

Oz fans like different things about Oz for different reasons, and people, regardless of their sexual orientation, have different tastes and mannerisms, not necessarily dictated by anything else about who they are.

Any of that make sense?

Okay, let's say the entire Oz phenomenon is like a big buffet restaurant like Golden Corral or Ryan's. Wide variety of things to choose from, and anyone can come in and get what they like.

Because people grasp the concept of food so well...

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Fall of the House of Random

Back in the mid-eighties, perhaps to tie in with the release of Return to Oz, Random House published a series of Baum-consistent Oz books intended for younger readers. When I say they're Baum-consistent, they do contain several mistakes, but this is clearly a book-based Oz rather than a movie-based one. There were five books total, all set back when Dorothy was still living in Kansas. The reason for this might well have been a copyright issue, since I'm not The Emerald City of Oz was in the public domain yet. Anyway, here are my reviews of the three I've read: Ozma and the Wayward Wand, by Polly Berends - The son of Ozma's royal gardener sneaks into the palace to steal the fairy ruler's wand, and accidentally uses it to cause all sorts of disasters. I can't say much for the plot, which is resolved very easily, but the author generally does well by the existing characters. One oddity is that Dorothy knows how to swim and says she'll teach Ozma, while in Patchwork Girl Dorothy still can't swim. Also, the Nome King's tunnel is present, when it shouldn't be prior to Emerald City. Mister Tinker in Oz, by James Howe - While I haven't read any of this author's other work, I've at least heard of him; he was the guy who wrote the Bunnicula series. In this book, easily the best of the three, we pick up on the story of one of Tik-Tok's creators. Mr. Tinker, who had departed Ev for the Moon, travels to Oz in Dorothy's company. Again, not that much plot, but I like the character of Mr. Tinker, and his inventions are clever. Incidentally, Howe's full name for the inventor is Ezra P. Tinker. In Jim Vander Noot's "Button-Bright and the Knit-Wits of Oz," his partner is named Rejano Edison Smith. Maybe Tinker's middle name could also be that of a real-world inventor. Ezra Pascal Tinker, perhaps? Dorothy and the Magic Belt, by Susan Saunders - This one plays quite loosely with existing continuity, which is admittedly spotty already, but I think the author could have been a bit more careful. First, we have Dorothy being transported from Kansas to Oz right in front of Aunt Em and Uncle Henry, even though they don't believe in Oz at the beginning of Emerald City. Also, Mombi is transformed into a child, yet is still an old lady in Ruth Plumly Thompson's Lost King. There are some ideas I like here, though. Dr. Nikidik's son, Nikidik the Younger, uses a powder to turn everyone in the Emerald City into children so that he can steal the Magic Belt. The youthened Ozma turns back into Tip, and Mombi regains her magic because she hadn't forgotten it at her younger age. Chris Dulabone tried to resolve the continuity issues in this book with his own Dagmar by telling how Mombi regained her old form, but the explanation is rather convoluted out of necessity.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Ozian King List

I've written before about Ozma's father and grandfather, but what about earlier rulers of the land? Pretty much all we know about them is that they were all named either Oz or Ozma. There is a short story by Fred Meyer and Robert Pattrick, "Mr. Thinman in Oz," that mentions Ozma's great-grandfather. He is called Emperor Ozandahan, and he had a magic carpet that somehow ended up in Baghdad. I think there's a story there, but putting that aside for a moment, I'm going to take a look at some other sources, as well as my own imagination, for information on earlier rulers.

First, we have Scott Dickerson's The Magic Book of Oz. While Dickerson followed only the Baum books, and hence his fate for Pastoria doesn't line up with what Ruth Plumly Thompson told us, I see no reason to disregard his earlier history. The first ruler of Oz was a member of Lurline's fairy band named Ozymandius, the Great and Good Knower of What Is to Be. He married a Winkie girl named Yammy, and abdicated in favor of their daughter Ozma Ebrateb once she came of age. Since Yammy was not a fairy, I assume the immortal blood became diluted over time, and the later rulers were not immortal. Ozymandius himself had his spirit accidentally transferred into a wooden canary, but he continued to live.

According to Marcus Mebes' Lurline and the White Ravens and Magic Tapestry, a woman named Oziana eventually took the throne of Oz, and her daughter Ozia married Ozroar, King of Morrow. As I said last week, I suspect his original name was something like Roarer, and he took the "Oz" upon marrying into the Ozian royal family. Despite some attempts to link the two, this Ozroar is not the same as Ozma's grandfather. He is, however, presumably the father of King Evrard of Ev by another woman.

Randy Hoffman's story "Mixed Magic Makes Misery" has the royal family hit with a pickling plague at some time around the thirteenth century, and replaced by a wooden Board of Directors. The Board eventually splinters, and the old dynasty is restored.

Ray Powell's Mister Flint gives a list of old kings: Neillian, Snoward, Plumthon, Cosgrolla, McGrawignera, Gruellan, and Boz. According to Powell's character Zon, the Land of Oz was named after Boz, but this is highly suspect. If Boz is Ozma's grandfather, as Zon indicates, then the account in Dorothy and the Wizard means there were many other rulers named Oz and Ozma before him. This doesn't necessarily contradict Powell's list, although it would have been remarkably prescient for the kings to have names so similar to those of the authors who would later write about them. Gruellan (named after Johnny Gruelle, author of the Raggedy Ann and Andy tales) would have to be the same as Ozandahan, and his son's full name might have been Ozroar Bozkinz (he's called "Ozroar" in Blue Emperor, "Boz" in Mister Flint, and "Oz Bozkinz" in Magic Book, so this name combines the three).

I've estimated this Ozroar's birth as being around 1750. Why? Just a bit of math that probably has a lot of holes in it, but I don't know of any other attempts to calculate this. There are spoilers in this for Paradox, by the way. In that book, we find that the Man Who Lives Backwards, an alternate-universe version of Ozma's grandfather, is about two at the time of Ozma's coronation. And while we don't know when he was captured, I have seen the date of 1826 given for Pastoria's ascension to the throne. Not sure if this date is based on anything in particular, but it's as good as any other, I suppose. Hence, the Man Who Lives Backwards would have been about seventy-six at this point. If Ozroar had to be the same age as his double, that brings us back to 1750 for his birth. Ozroar's wife is Ozara, who was almost enchanted by Ozma but rescued by a time-traveling Button-Bright and the Wizard of Oz in Atticus Gannaway's Wonderful Journey. Both Mister Flint and Dennis Anfuso's Astonishing Tail of the Gump feature searches for Pastoria's wife, who is named Ozette in the former and Cordia in the latter. And according to Donald Abbott's rather suspect How the Wizard Saved Oz, Brigadier-General Riskitt is Pastoria's half-brother, but we aren't told whether they share a father or a mother.

So those are my thoughts. It's all highly speculative, but how could it not be, given how scant the canonical evidence is and how much the apocryphal works contradict each other? I should also point out that some of these rulers might not have ruled much beyond the central green land where the Wizard would build the Emerald City. Any thoughts?

Happy L. Frank Baum's Birthday!

L. Frank Baum's birthday is May 15th, and to celebrate, the Royal Podcast of Oz and EyeScope Films present dramatic versions of two of his short stories.

The podcast presents one of Baum's last short stories: The Littlest Giant: An Oz Story. Narrated by Mike Conway with the vocal talents of Nathan DeHoff, Angelo Thomas, Sam Milazzo, and Kim McFarland. Listen below or download at the podcast site.



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And from EyeScope Films, comes an adaptation of The Box of Robbers from American Fairy Tales.

A version with audio commentary by the director and myself (because we're brothers) is also available.

And finally, deleted scenes, bloopers, and behind-the-scenes shenanigans

Monday, May 14, 2012

Tales of the Wizard of Oz - The Comic Book

Well, I now have a very old comic book in my Oz collection. However, I knew what it was like a long time ago due to finding a digital version online. So, I won't actually be showing you scans of my copy since it's a 50 year-old comic book and I already have a full set of scans.

This 32-page comic book was based on the TV series by Videocraft (later known as Rankin-Bass), and adapted many of the early episodes into a long story very loosely based on Baum's book.

Of course, the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, and Cowardly Lion are named Socrates, Rusty, and Dandy respectively. They're going to see the Wizard to ask for a brain, heart, and courage, and he orders them to plant some Ruby Rutabaga seeds that will get Rusty a heart somehow. When they try to, the Wicked Witch of the West whips up a whirlwind to ruin their plans, but Dandy is determined to try again, but the whirlwind deposits him in a tree with Dorothy and Toto.

Dorothy and Toto aren't introduced properly, I note. They join Dandy on his way back to the Emerald City. The dialogue isn't quite as funny as it was on the show:
DANDY: This, my dear is the Land of Oz. It's part of no other country but itself. I'm sure, Miss, that there is no one here who has ever heard of Kansas.

DOROTHY: Do you mean, Lion, that there is no road from Oz to Kansas that Toto and I can take?

DANDY: The only road that you poor ones can take is the road to the Wizard, himself. There is nothing that the wonderful Wizard can't do. If Kansas is really where you want to be... I'm certain he can arrange it. I'm on way to see him, too... So won't you come along?
 However, the Wicked Witch comes along to cause more trouble, and once Dorothy manages to get her back on her broom and away, they are plagued by Munchkins before arriving back at the Emerald Ci... Palace.

Here, the Wizard tries to send Dorothy home through a magic box, but it turns out to be a waste of time and lands Dorothy right back in the palace where the Wizard and Dandy have stepped out to take a walk and she meets Socrates. The Wizard and Dandy shortly return and the Wizard dives into his hat to get Socrates a brain.

However, the Wizard returns instantly and says his brain collection is missing, and Munchkins swarm out of the hat. It SAYS they leave, but the panel before that shows them walking into Dandy's mouth for some reason. It looks more like Dandy ate them!

After this, they all jump into the Wizard's hat for ... no reason whatsoever. This just wastes a couple pages as they fall back to the palace.

Dorothy begins to wonder how she'll get home, and Rusty arrives demanding his heart, and the Wizard makes him inflate a balloon.

Notice on this page how the characters change size. On panel 2, Dorothy looks HUGE and you'd think it'd be because of distance until you note the floor tiles. On panels 4 and 5, Rusty looks like a midget, then on panel 6, he gets taller.

The balloon carries off the throne with Dorothy and Rusty on it, but the Witch flies on her broom and breaks the balloon, making it land back in the palace.

And now for the creepy thing, it's actually hinted that the Wizard doesn't want her to go home... read the below page.

Overall, this story worked better when it was a series of less-connected cartoons. Some of the flourishes take it from surreal and silly to just plain making no sense, and with less humor than the cartoon, it doesn't really work. Also, Toto talks while he never did in the cartoon.

A big inconsistency lies in the coloring: in the cartoon, Socrates, Rusty, and Dandy were each one color. Socrates was a dingy yellow, Rusty was white (which is maintained here), and Dandy was orange. Dandy has a different color for his mane and Socrates has a flesh colored face, which makes him look weird. The Wicked Witch is blue in this comic, while she was green in the cartoon. Toto was white in the cartoon, here he's brown. Dorothy's hair was orange in the cartoon, instead of blonde as in the comic. The Wizard also wore all blue in the cartoon.

The inside and back covers talk about myth and "history" about witches and wizards and magic.

Overall, if you can find this for a good deal (I bought it finding it on eBay for under $20) and you collect Oz comics, go for it! If you're not so big into comics, be choosy. And if you're really not into picking up old comics, give it a pass.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Weekly Update: A couple of things...

The indie film "L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" has revealed their Toto via Facebook! And, he's pretty adorable... pictures of Toto in action will be up pretty soon, so check back on their Facebook page for that.

On another note, I mentioned awhile back that "Dorothy and the Witches of Oz" would be showing at three festivals this summer. Here are the deets on those! The Oz-stravaganza screenings will be on May 30th at 6pm in the All Things Oz Museum and on Sunday, June 3rd at 10am in the Oz-stravaganza park. The movie will also be showing at the Fright Film Festival in Louisville, Kentucky on Saturday, June 30th. Stars Sean Astin, Eliza Swenson, Noel Thurman, Al Snow, Barry Ratcliffe, and director Leigh Scott are all set to attend!

That's pretty much it for right now! See ya next week, kids!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Ozma the Fairy Princess

When handling Ozma in Outsiders from Oz, I realized she was a difficult character to handle. I tried to handle my characters as human characters (even if they weren't human), and realized Ozma is also a fairy princess. As such, she can do magic and may have some powers we haven't seen. (Chapter 10.)

Ozma's history is confusing. The Marvelous Land of Oz has it that she was simply the daughter of the last king of Oz (Pastoria), but in The Tin Woodman of Oz, it is said that she was appointed be the ruler of Oz by Lurline. Jack Snow complicated this continuity by setting Oz becoming a fairyland in Pastoria's reign and she left Ozma as a baby fairy to Pastoria as his adopted daughter.

This would work, except it seems Oz has been magical much longer than shortly before the Wizard's reign, especially since Wicked Witches had time to seize power.

My own personal theory and backstory for Ozma is that Lurline made Oz a fairyland a long time before Ozma's reign. Ozma is Pastoria's daughter, and was only as magical as a person of Oz could be. However, there is an unrecorded chapter in Ozma's life after she was restored to the throne during which she met Lurline, who made her an honorary member of her band and was given some magic power.

This unrecorded chapter of Ozma's story would have to happen before The Tin Woodman of Oz. I'd doubt it happened before Ozma of Oz.

I'm suddenly beginning to wonder how this effects what Mari Ness calls "Ozma fail."

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Extra Exploration of the Enchantment

There have been several post-canonical Oz books and stories that deal with Lurline's enchantment, most of them not really agreeing on significant points. As someone who likes to tie together as many sources as I can, I think it might be prudent to take a look at some of them.

Marcus Mebes' Lurline and the White Ravens of Oz is one of the most detailed descriptions of the enchantment, but also leaves a lot of questions. As Marcus identifies it as a myth, it might not be true in all its details. Lurline is due to join the Olympian pantheon, but she steals items of power from the gods in order to enchant Oz, and is banished from Olympus. Exactly when this takes place is unclear, as there are references to both the fall of Troy and the three wise men following the star to Bethlehem, which happened over a millennium apart. It's definitely ancient, though, and it identifies the ruler at the time as Ozroar of Morrow. He's married to a woman named Ozia, daughter of Oziana. The first edition of this book made Ozroar and Ozia Pastoria's parents and Ozma's grandparents, but the later edition keeps things vague on this point.

I believe the king is also identified as Ozroar in Jeremy Steadman's Emerald Ring, which states that he threw the titular ring out to sea when he was dying.

Scott Dickerson's Magic Book tells how a fairy from Lurline's band named Ozymandias becomes the first ruler of Oz, and how he is turned into a wooden canary. Charles Phipps's Umbrella Man trilogy has Oz enchanted during the reign of a king named Saul, whose father left Oz in a magical boat, and who had an older brother named David who actually married Lurline. He is a terrible king until the Water of Oblivion changes his mind. My way of fitting much of this together is to say that Oziana was the ruler of the central part of Oz, and that his daughter Ozia married Roarer of Morrow. When Oziana died, Roarer became king of the central land as well, and hence took the name Ozroar. David and Saul could then have been his children.

We're also told in Magic Tapestry that Ozroar had an illegitimate son, Evrard, who went on to be King of Ev. Ozymandias complicates matters a bit, but perhaps he was Oziana's ancestor.

Adding in Phil Lewin's Witch Queen and Master Crafters is even more confusing, as it says that Lurline's older sister Enilrul was the original Queen of Oz, and Nikidik her consort. There's no reason all of these people couldn't have ruled at some time or other, but it's unlikely that the enchantment occurred in all of their reigns. Perhaps the records are unclear as to who the ruler was at the time of the enchantment, so historians just assigned it to the time of some old monarch or other.

The Water of Oblivion is another issue in and of itself. Emerald City has Ozma credit its creation to Glinda, but in Edward Einhorn's Paradox it's Lurline's work. Glinda is present at the time, however. Lewin makes the water's forgetful properties result from the fact that Enilrul committed suicide in a pool of water where the Forbidden Fountain is now located.

Paul Dana's Time Travelers restores the credit for the fountain to Glinda, but has Lurline spread its water throughout Oz to make everyone forget what happened before the enchantment. This tale makes the point that everyone alive at the time of the enchantment should still be there today, and vice versa. Certainly, if the description in Tin Woodman is accurate, this would largely be the case. Therefore, if several kings and queens have reigned since the enchantment, it couldn't have ended all death and aging.

As usual, it comes back to the likelihood being that there were at least two enchantments. One would have been at the time of an earlier monarch, or perhaps before there was a ruler of Oz, and would have set everything into motion. I don't like the idea that it created all magic in Oz, but I think it made the land more magical than the rest of the world.

The second enchantment would have been when Lurline left Ozma with Pastoria, and it's at this point that death and aging would have ended. Well, maybe. According to Paradox, aging didn't stop until near the beginning of Ozma's reign, due to the influence of the Man Who Lives Backwards. Either way, it was a relatively recent phenomenon nationwide, although it might already have existed in places like Samandra.

Lurline When?

As a follow-up to last week's post on Oz timeline issues, here's another one, dealing with Lurline's enchantment.

We know from The Tin Woodman of Oz that the Fairy Queen enchanted the country to make it a fairyland, and left one of her fairies there to rule. In Glinda, the Supreme Dictator of the Flatheads says that this fairy was named Ozma, and hints that it might be the same as the Ozma standing before him without specifically saying so. Since we know that earlier rulers of Oz were also named Ozma, however, she might not actually be the same. Whether or not it was the same Ozma is likely significant in determining the time period in which the enchantment took place, because Ozma was a baby when the Wizard of Oz took her to Mombi. While it's not impossible that she was a baby for several centuries, it strikes me as unlikely.

In Jack Snow's Magical Mimics, the enchantment happens concurrently with Lurline leaving the baby Ozma with the King of Oz. I've seen it stated that Snow indicated this happened 200 years before the time of the story, but I don't know that he specifically does. Ozana, who was left as a guardian on Mount Illuso after Lurline left Ozma in Oz, doe say she has been on the mountain for over 200 years, however. So that's one possible date for the enchantment, although even that means a period of at least a century in between Ozma being left with the king (presumably Pastoria) and her falling into Mombi's hands.

In his Unexplored Territory in Oz, Robert Pattrick assumes that the enchantment was responsible for all magic in Oz, an idea I don't know that I can buy. Edward Einhorn does use it to pretty good effect in his Paradox, however. Obviously, this would mean the enchantment would have to have taken place really far in the past, as there are references to magic having worked in ancient Oz.

Jeremy Steadman's Emerald Ring has the enchantment occurring over 2000 years before the story's present, revealed elsewhere to be the year 1919. Marcus Mebes' Lurline and the White Ravens suggests an even earlier date, although it's not specified. One particular time period that is popular for when Oz was enchanted is around 1200, due to references in Yellow Knight to some Ozites being seven centuries old. This is a Ruth Plumly Thompson book, and Thompson never actually mentions the enchantment, but it the figure of 700 years might well be important. Thompson says that some Samandrans are about 700 years old, and that Sir Hokus of Pokes is as well. But why 700, and not older than that? Since the enchantment was supposed to have ended death and aging in Oz, that's certainly a strong possibility. Then again, we also see references to Ozites dying much more recently than the thirteenth century. It's been suggested that the enchantment either took a while to take effect throughout the country, in which case it must have affected Samandra early on, or the Sultan or someone else augmented it with their own magic.

Another theory I've seen come up from time to time is that the enchantment was temporarily weakened or suspended for some reason. As someone who likes to use various sources from inside and outside the canon, I'm pretty much stuck with the idea that Lurline made several different visits to Oz, and worked a few different enchantments. This means that the bit in Tin Woodman about the Fairy Queen forgetting all about the land must not be accurate. Or perhaps she forgot and then remembered again later. Regardless, the fact that we can't even pin down a millennium for the enchantment, let alone a more specific time period, is a major impediment to the creation of a working Oz timeline.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Dorothy of Oz Prequel Comic #2

After the fairly unenthusiastic blog where I covered the first issue of the Dorothy of Oz prequel comic series, I felt it needed a follow-up.

Frankly, I'm impressed with the second issue. My opinion on the character designs haven't changed. But I suspect IDW is catering to Oz fans and that's why there are Shanower covers and a few nods to the actual Oz book series in the comic. In fact, the artist himself said that he added lunchpail trees on one page just to explain how the Cowardly Lion is hungry then not hungry.

In fact, another nod to the books is in the art: five citizens of Oz are telling the Scarecrow of the troubles the Jester has been causing already, and they wear the colors of the countries of Oz: red, blue, yellow, purple and green. If this same sort of nods to the books may be seen in the movie, I might be quite surprised indeed!

This issue focuses on the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, and Cowardly Lion trying to find a way to bring Dorothy back to Oz by using a "Rainbow Mover," but first they need a rainbow. Meanwhile, havoc is going on in Dainty China Country.

There's an adventure from the book Dorothy of Oz that appears here, altered to be told without Dorothy in it, so I'm beginning to wonder just how loose of an adaptation of Roger Baum's book the movie is going to be. I must admit that it was one of my favorite parts of the book, so it's a little disappointing to know it won't be in the movie.

Huh, if the comic keeps up like this, it might actually be better than the movie.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

I got reviews!

A couple months ago, I blogged about my Eamon Deluxe game Realm of Fantasy. Well, the official Eamon blog now has a review, screenshots, and a download link for the new version.

Also, the Eamon Deluxe guy bought a copy of Outsiders from Oz and since I did write an Eamon adventure, he also wrote a review of the book on the blog. It's completely spoiler-free, in that the plot is not mentioned at all. Still, he brings up some good points.

All right, there's a couple of links. Have a fun Sunday, everyone!

Friday, May 04, 2012

(Almost) Weekly Update: E! to take on 'Oz'-inspired drama

First up, it was announced on Monday that E! is developing a TV series inspired by Oz. But, before you get excited, remember that this is the same channel that has several shows about the Kardashian sisters... Anyway, the new drama is in the scripting stage and is called "Dorothy". Here's a logline thanks to Entertainment Weekly... "Inspired by the book Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz, a girl from Kansas falls for a man and moves with him to the Emerald City. From writer Natalie Krinsky (Gossip Girls, Grey's Anatomy) and Warner Horizon Television." Read the full report from EW Online here.

A new Dorothy of Oz sneak peek was aired recently on ET Canada, and has been uploaded to YouTube. There are a couple of new clips in there, as well as a sneak peek at two new songs. You can watch that here. 

Speaking of Dorothy of Oz, the second prequel comic is out now in stores and digitally. You can read a preview of it here on artist Blair Shedd's site. 

Dorothy and the Witches of Oz has added three more screenings for this summer at different film festivals and Oz conventions... details on the film's Facebook page.  

All the Oz movie news for this week that is.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

The Raggedys in Oz

And here we have an example of a surprisingly well-done crossover fiction.  Johnny Gruelle's Raggedy Ann and Andy go to Oz courtesy of longtime Oz fan and International Wizard of Oz Club member Ray Powell. However, since the Raggedys are protected by trademark, the book has only seen small, private printings, the first in 1991, and a later edition (which is the one I read) in 2006. Marcus Mebes illustrated the book.

Raggedy Ann and Andy (I'm familiar with who they are, but not with their stories) are blown away to Oz as Percy the Rat decides to make something happen by freeing Ruggedo, the old Nome King, from his enchantment as a cactus. (I assume not dealing with the rights to Percy is another reason why the book was only privately printed.) Ruggedo sets free another cactus-imprisoned baddie: the Black Magician, who quickly uses his magic to rid Oz of all the celebrities Ruggedo can name.

The Raggedys meet the Scarecrow—who barely managed to escape the Black Magician's curse—and meet Hardas Flint, a man made of flint. Very soon it becomes clear that it is up to them to save Oz as things look their bleakest. Their biggest challenge is to get out of Oz to find the one who imprisoned the Black Magician: Ak, the Master Woodsman of the World.

Overall, the story is fun and exciting, and the people from Oz stay in proper character. Powell creates a few rules for his take on Oz, not ones I particularly agree with, but you always have to keep in mind that Baum didn't spell out all the rules of how Oz worked in his books, and the later writers rarely, if ever, touched them. Often, later writers had to decide the rules of Oz for their own. I'm not a fan of when they deliberately spell them out, though occasionally, some of them have to be explained for the story to work.

One thing I know about this book is that in the original version, Percy was punished by being sent back to the Outside World, while when the book was re-released in 2006, it seems The Wicked Witch of Oz had managed to endear Percy to Oz fans enough so that he was forgiven, a much Ozzier way of treating the character. At any rate, I'm glad of that, for it seems just mean to take a character someone else invented for Oz and send them out. Still, the way Percy is written isn't at all flattering to Rachel Cosgrove's excellent character. He could easily have been replaced with almost anyone else, like Woot the Wanderer.

As for the Raggedys, it is really more of an Oz story than anything, though when the reason why they're there is revealed, I actually liked it. Raggedy Ann and Andy felt right at home in Oz. Perhaps someday I'll look up the original Johnny Gruelle stories.

The Black Magician certainly is one of the meanest villains in an Oz book. We aren't told exactly what happens when he gets rid of someone, leaving behind nothing but a black smudge, but it's a relief that in the end, everyone is restored and the villain is dealt with in a very Ozzy manner indeed.

Overall, The Raggedys in Oz is actually an exciting little Oz book, and not what you'd expect from the cover at all!

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

The Royal Podcast of Oz: Kirk Kushin and Ozopolis

Jared chats with Kirk Kushin about his comic book Ozopolis and being an Oz fan

As always, you can listen and download at the podcast site or use the player below.



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