Thursday, 1 August 2013

The Royal Podcast of Oz: Across the Pond

Today Jared Davis has posted a podcast interview he recorded with me a few weeks ago.

Jared operates and is the lead writer at the Royal Blog of Oz

Jared also operates the Royal Website of Oz

Finally Jared is the interviewer and editor for the Royal Podcast of Oz

Jared's interview in the main is specific to Oz collecting in the UK, there is several other Oz references throughout.
Jared has been an online Oz friend for some years, who I had the pleasure of meeting at the last two Winkie Conventions.

You can use the link to the Royal Podcast site or use the player below to listen.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Ding Dong the Witch is Dead

It would be somewhat lazy of me not to report from the British Blog of Oz, of a controversial Oz connection that is happening right now in the UK.
It would seem rather odd that I find myself writing about Margaret Thatcher and Oz in the same sentence Blog! 

However I now find the two subjects linked in a very British way, Margaret Thatcher divides opinion in the UK and the world,  to the point where some mourn the death of a great powerful Woman and are thus preparing a lavish 10 million Pound funeral and out pouring of respect for a strong formidable political woman.

Others have taken a different view and in protest at the out pouring of respect given to the Iron lady that there is a large group of people dedicated to ensuring that The MGM Musical  "Ding, Dong the Witch is dead" is currently going strong at number one in the UK charts. In defiance of the such a lavish funeral when the British country again is being made to tighten it's belt! Also to signify as a loud shout against what Margaret Thatcher and her politics stood for.

It's to an extent distasteful, however I can understand why there is a venom against old Maggie Thatcher, I can't say I was a fan, although I find her persona fascinating, perhaps this is due to the fact I am an 80’s child I lived in the shadow of Thatcher Premiership as I was born in 1979 the year she was elected Prime Minister.
Here was the first woman in British Politic's to take on a man's role, showing a country of women that they could do this to! Only this woman was completing lack in any compassion, she did a lot to change England and help businesses and the well off the working class and poor had to scrape along the bottom for 11 eleven years. 

distinctly remember growing up in the 80's and we did not have much money neither did most of the rest of the working class I also distinctly remember my Mum having to hold down three jobs to keep 3 children, one full time job and two part time jobs I really don't know how she did it. Once Thatcher and the conservative were out in the 90's Money looked up for most of us.

Thatcher did nothing positive for Gay Rights in-fact she set Gay rights back years by bringing in Section 28 which prevented any intentional promotion of homosexuality in Education Thatcher said "That said this Children who need to be taught to respect traditional moral values are being taught that they have an inalienable right to be gay". 

"And children who need encouragement—and children do so much need encouragement—so many children—they are being taught that our society offers them no future. All of those children are being cheated of a sound start in life—yes cheated.Of course—in the country as a whole—there are plenty of excellent teachers and successful schools.And in every good school, and every good teacher, is a reminder of what too many young people are denied."

Her comparison with a Wicked Witch are not for many of us without merit, Thatcher had a very totalitarian approach and was with out compassion for the common and the last remaining product of high class boys club style  establishment. 
For a woman who self promoted herself by saying she loved a debate and democracy, many saw her as I do as a dictatorship particularly toward the end of her reign.

I shall not miss Margaret Thatcher's Polictics, on the women I didn't know her so I cannot possiblly miss her. One thing is for sure and has been quoted frequently in the Margaret Thatcher will never be forgot. Was she like Elphaba in Wicked miss understood? Or Like the Real Wicked Witch of the West, an unsympathetic dictator? History will tell.

When Great Britain next Elect's a female Prime Minster, lets hope that it is some one with kindness and warmth for the common person! Someone who is steely in face adversity but never forgets who put them there and that they are there to serve everyone in their country and don't forget to listen to those who matter most.

That enough politics for this blog in a while altough Oz has been linked to poltics several times before.

I am still part through writing my Oz: The Great and POwerful Review and the Oz book favourite number 7, although this comes at a time when I am very busy and preparing a presentation for Winkies which will affect the blog posts,

Sunday, 17 February 2013

From Paris to ....Oz!

In November last year the Husband I took a 6 day holiday in France we stayed at Disneyland Paris as I found a very good hotel deal to stay on site. Furthermore Paris was only a 35 minute train journey from Disneyland.
Unfortunately we never made it to Paris as we were both frustratingly unwell two days into our holiday.

I love Disney and Oz equally! All my other loves are secondary...apart from the other half of course!! This was my first time at Disneyland Paris, and second time to any of the Disney Parks. I always wanted to go to one of the American Disney Parks first and finally got the chance to go to Disneyland California and Disney California Adventure last year, we both fell in love with the place and were now ready to go to a Disneyland a little closer to home.

So hey where does the Oz reference come into this! Well, I was set a secret Oz mission by another Oz friend Freddy Fogarty.... Ok maybe not so secret but I enjoyed being sent on an Oz mission no less.

The mission was to go to Fantasyland and take a ride on "Les Pays Des Contes De Fees" or the Storybook Land ride as there is the Emerald City and some characters from Disney’s Return to Oz on the stairs, Freddy wanted me to take some  close up pictures of the Emerald City and of the Oz character on the Stairs.
If it wasn't for Freddy I would have missed the Return to Oz themes altogether as we would have considered this ride a little to twee for us.

So here we go there is indeed an Emerald City, which uses some of the Return to Oz characters but only those that would have been in the Wizard of Oz i.e. Scarecrow, Tin Woodman and the Cowardly Lion are all straight out of the character designs from 1985 movie, Dorothy however is definitely more of a hint of Garland than Fairuza Balk.

Don't forget you can click the photo to enlarge!

Take a look at this Emerald City something we don't really get to see in the Return to Oz, I did wonder if this is how we were meant to see the Emerald City in the movie? Notice that they get the Oz insignia back to front on top of the palace!

I think not as I have a Return to Oz  book with an unused shot of the Emerald City, check out this image from one of Return to Oz book you can clearly see shots of the Emerald City that were never used and are more of Neill design than this current design, it also does  not resemble the new Oz: The Great and Powerful Emerald City either. 

So now we have three takes by Disney of the Emerald City, it’s still a frustration that we never really get to see the outside of the restored Emerald City in Return to Oz.

That's not all the Oz we got to see on this trip, there is a show over in second paris Disney park The Walt Disney Studios  called Cinemagic, which is a mixture of live action FX and film effects toward the end of the show you see two main characters walk along the MGM Wizard of Oz yellow brick road toward the Emerald City unfortunately I don’t have a shot of this!

I love that Disney and Oz share several relationships lets hope the new Disney movie Oz: The Great and Powerful bring forth Baum’s Oz canon to receiving the film attention it deserves!

As for Disneyland Paris, the Park itself is very beautiful and stylised even more so than the Disneyland California park, The Walt Disney Studio's was tiny and not a patch on the Disney California Adventure park, both however were missing much of the charm and energy of the California parks. This In part I believe to be because it was not in  
America!  The French cast just did not have the drive and enthusiasm of the American counter parts which is what makes Disneyland so magical! The Park it self was a little tired in a few place whereas the California Parks were spotless! We will go back as it is only a couple hours journey to get there but what I really can’t wait for now is to venture to Walt Disney World in Florida hope fully in 2014.

I’ll be back with my Oz book favourite number 7, this time it’s the first of several Baum Oz books.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Very Occasional Blogging: In at 8……

The Forbidden Fountain of Oz by Eloise Mcgraw & Lauren Lynn McGraw.

This is the first of the McGraw books in my top 10 and number 8 out of my favourite Oz books.
There is just something about Eloise writing style that I really enjoy, I think she is actually the most accomplished and skilled writer out of all of famous forty Oz writers. 
Baum has to the most imaginative and descriptive. Although sometimes the way he writes could was little unusual it his bristling of imagination that carries you off not his use of word play.I don’t think any of the other famous Forty authors had quite same level of fantastical imagination as Baum, although Eloise comes close, and add that with her wonderful writing skills you have some great Oz books as a result. You also get an Oz that is good mix of Baum and Ruth Plumly Thompson's Oz, as I believe Eloise was a fan of the Thompson Oz books.
Eloise is a master at description and writes in a way that you can see the Oz she is describing something that only Baum was capable of for me. Thompson never manages to conjure images in my mind as she lacks the detail and description that make you believe in the characters or Oz. Thompson was strong for writing brisk jolly plots and creating lots of new characters, but the often lacked the depth of description that made her characters as enjoyable as Baum or Eloise's characterisation. I refer to Eloise often as I believe that she wrote the story in the main with assistance from her daughter.

This description has always stayed with me are little nuggets like " The small rough emeralds in the gravel of the street of the Emerald City and the streets are surfaced with crushed beryl", I love these tiny little details in the Mcgraw Oz work.

The Plot  –

Ozma whilst attending an Oz festival is innocently given a glass of lemonade using the water of Oblivion from the Forbidden Fountain of Oz that was introduced in Baum's The Emerald City of Oz. 
As a result Ozma goes missing and is assumed kidnapped! (Well why wouldn't her Oz courtiers think she was kidnapped it happened so many times before!)
Actually Ozma wearing her magic belt loses her memory completely and believes herself to be a girl called Poppy who has run away from the Emerald City, as she must have done something dreadful to be cast out helped to come to this conclusion by a rather peppery and  judgemental butterfly king. Ozma has a few adventures with new Friends Lambert the white lamb a cast out from his flock as he is not purple! As well a highway man called Toby, who isn't really a highway man but is trying to hold up a family tradition instead who decide to befriend Ozma and Lambert. Eventually they bump into haughty and frustrated Kabumpo who is searching for missing Ozma alone after becoming somewhat exasperated that  the Emerald City Courtiers will not listen where he believes Ozma is. 
Kabumpo in a vain hope of hero worship and self importance, steals off with Ozma and Co back to the Emerald City so that everyone can see how wonderful and heroic he is, unfortunately for Kabumpo this doesn’t go quite accordingly to plan as he also believes Ozma was kidnapped by the Toby. Kabumpo is well realised and affectionately written by the Mcgraw's as written in Tribute to Thompson's character, there is as magic box as well which now gives more than a few nods to Thompson's Kabumpo in Oz.

Interestingly Ozma is disguised as a boy which the Mcgraws use as a plot device throughout the book and this leads to great meeting with Jack Pumpkinhead where he mistakes Ozma for Tip his father of course. This scene and illustration of the Scarecrow Drawn like J R Neill’s Scarecrow from the Marvelous land of Oz are nicely little references to the book of the same name.

Of course Ozma memory is restored and all is right again in the end but it was fun getting there.

At first it easy for an Oz reader to think that the Mcgraw's are treading an all to familiar Oz story there are elements that would appear to be familiar with Baum’s Lost Princess of Oz.  For a refreshing change Ozma is not kidnapped or imprisoned she has simply forgotten everyone after drinking from the Water of Oblivion which wipes her memory and then she goes on her own adventures. 
There is even a funny scene at the end where Ozma’s court friends cannot quite believe that she wasn’t kidnapped or enchanted by by Toby. The only other story that Ozma is a central lead isthe Marvelous Land of Oz although she is Tip throughout, and Glinda of Oz is probably one of the last Oz book to have Ozma as a central role although this is still from the point of view of Dorothy! Ozma is barely used in the Thompson books and certainly never as a central role although this is probably for the best as her Ozma is not very well characterised and lacks the compassion of Baum's Ozma.. As a result we get  a short but refreshing Oz story! Ozma does not get such a central role again in the books in my collection until Edward Einhorn’s brilliant Paradox in Oz.

The illustration’s & Book format.
I have declare I am not a great fan of Dick Martin illustration’s that not to say I hate them, as they can be whimsical and pretty when he put his mind to it his illustration's as in the Mcgraw's Merry go round in Oz are much better. I feel his style is a little lacking in detail and to cartoony for me especially the meat “human” characters. This is probably as I love Jon R Neill’s fine illustration’s the most and  his human looked very human. 
Martin's illustration's are certainly far superior to Frank Kramer or Dirk Gringhaus, but not at the level I feel that John R Neill, Eric Shanower or Denslow.
It is clear that he has not taken much time on the illustration in this book when you compare the illustration to his work on Merry Go Round in Oz and I believe from conversation with other Oz fans he is responsible for the books odd formatting. Which oversized so that he didn’t have to draw many illustrations. 
This is my biggest gripe with the book The McGraw's story is wonderful, the book format is truly awful. It is just a little large than A4 sized paper back with no printing on the spine. It looks bland and does not match any of the rest of the book in my Oz collection! Well apart form other three international  Wizard of Oz books I own in the same format. I know there is a hardback out there but I am curious is this an improvement does this match other Oz books more? I'm an obsessive Oz collector and like some nice stylised uniformity in my collection.

So to finish of this Eloise Wrote three Oz books in her life time two with her Daughter Lynn Mcgraw. Although I believe that Eloise herself was the main writer, She could of wrote another 20 for me it is clearly evident why she was nominated for Newberry Honour Award. Out of all the famous forty I feel she is the most skillful writer.
I haven’t yet read any of her non Oz, but do intend to so if any of you have any recommendation on some of her other work particularly fantasy can any of you let me know in the comments pages.
I’ll be back with another Eloise’s Oz books in due course, as she has two in my top ten and the third was not far off in reaching the top 10 either!

On my next post I have a report from Disneyland Paris which has both an MGM Wizard of Oz connection and a Disney Return to Oz connection. Which I promise will come much sooner!