The Magic of Oz, by L. Frank Baum – I reread this in preparation for this year’s OzCon International. I believe it was the last of Baum’s Oz books I read, and I remember it not being one of my favorites. I think I was a little disappointed that Ruggedo and Kiki Aru‘s plot was thwarted because the Wizard of Oz happened to show up in the forest, and to hide in the same tree into which Kiki was speaking; and nothing really came of the plan recruit the animals of the Forest of Gugu to conquer Oz.

A lot of Oz books are resolved with coincidences, but here it kind of seems like this whole idea is introduced and thrown out. I think J.L. Bell considers this his favorite, and he’s mentioned how the plots intersect well and the characters are well-defined. In fairness, Kiki is a sullen teenage boy with power but no real experience, so it makes sense he’d make mistakes. The Glass Cat behaves in a rather feline fashion, being out for herself and willing to do things only if they bring her attention. She sees no problem with tormenting the monkeys and is indignant when they get their revenge, and does not get along with Dorothy’s pet kitten Eureka. The Wizard is shrewd and still a little tricky, bargaining with Rango in order to get what he wants.

Cap’n Bill plays the Batman-style role of having no special powers but being able to figure things out quickly and improvise solutions to just about any problem. And the Lonesome Duck is a quite memorable character despite having a rather small part.

As for Ruggedo, no longer a ruling tyrant, he is instead a con-artist and war propagandist. It’s interesting to me that everyone seems to realize he’s not really trustworthy, but find his ideas convincing and agreeable enough that they’ll go along with him for the time being. He’s a quick thinker and has a way of convincing others even when he ends up being contradictory. He tells Kiki he wants to be King of Oz, “which is better than being King of the Nomes,” then not long after that says he’s willing to let Kiki rule. He initially tells Kiki that the beasts will join him because they’re “savage and cruel,” but when they turn out to be fairly civilized in their own fashion, he cooks up the story about the humans wanting to enslave them. He manages to steer the conversation away from why the animals would want to be turned into humans and toward whether he’s capable of such transformations. When Kiki panics and turns against him, the Nome quickly talks him down and comes up with another plan, a desperate one to be sure, but pretty clever considering how quickly he thinks of it. Baum wrote the book while the United States was involved in World War I, and readers have drawn comparisons to the Russian Revolution; but it’s somewhat different in that the animals seem to be pretty content and only want to fight the humans when Ruggedo makes up a lie, and not all of them are convinced even then. The thing is, there could be some actual support for the animals being treated as second-class citizens in Oz, or of haves and have-nots even without money being in use, but the narrative steers clear of that.

The idea of Ozma’s friends trying to find birthday presents for her gives them a reason to explore the wild lands of Oz. I noticed that it’s difficult for some of them to come up with ideas, yet it’s still pretty early in Ozma’s reign, so it must just get harder every year. I’m terrible at coming up with gift ideas myself. Amazon wishlists help, but some people either don’t have them or don’t have much on them. I’m sure it’s even more difficult when the birthday girl can obtain pretty much anything she wants through magic. The magic word is an interesting plot device, but the fact that the Wizard and maybe Ozma still know it after the book seems like it would just make things too easy for them. Then again, you could say that about the Magic Belt, which isn’t even mentioned here despite its being the Nome King’s main goal in Emerald City.

The Wizard does say that the transformations Kiki works are “very easy to break–when you know how and have the tools to do it.” If they’re fairly weak enchantments, they might not work at breaking more powerful transformation spells. The short story “Much Ado About Kiki Aru,” by Sean Duffley, deals with this and gives some closure to Kiki’s tale. It explains that the magic word no longer works after the events of that story, and it’s never used again in the Famous Forty, but there are other fan-written tales in which it works again. Since the story has it that the transformations were done by a fairy enslaved by the Wicked Witch of the East, maybe it only works after that when the fairy chooses for it to do so. Ruggedo loses his memory and is allowed to stay in Oz, the plan being that he won’t relearn his old wicked ways there. Ruth Plumly Thompson states in Kabumpo that the effects of the Water of Oblivion wear off over time, even though there’s no indication of this in Baum. I don’t blame her for wanting to bring back the character, though, as he’s fun and adaptable. She tends to treat him in a sillier fashion, but he’s still a serious threat at times. And Thompson often follows the Magic model of having him convince someone who’s not inherently villainous to work with him at least temporarily, as opposed to the Emerald City model where his concern is that his allies are potentially more treacherous than he is. Ruggedo’s appearance in Magic leaves some gaps in his story, as Tik-Tok ends with Kaliko allowing him to stay in the Nome Kingdom, but here he starts out as a wanderer on the surface, blaming the people of Oz instead of Tititi-Hoochoo for kicking him out. I wrote my own story, “Alliance of the Elementals,” in an attempt to explain this.

Posted in Animals, Book Reviews, Characters, L. Frank Baum, Magic, Oz, Oz Authors, Ruth Plumly Thompson | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

No Guests Like Gnomes for the Holidays

I’m sure I don’t need to tell anyone else who’s played the Sims games that they’re incredibly addictive and time-consuming. I’ll generally set goals for when I’ll take a break or at least switch households, but then I often find myself finding something else to do that I expect will be quick, then it turns out not to be. There’s always something else to do, but no defined end point. <a href=I wrote about The Sims 4 specifically some years ago, but I had some additional thoughts, particularly on elements added by the expansion packs. Every Sims game has had expansions, adding new gameplay options, locations, and items. Extra downloadable content is all the rage now, since it means the sellers can get a lot more money than if they just sell a finished game once, but this the only game series for which I’ve purchased them. And considering how much I play, I probably get my money’s worth. I notice they haven’t done a university expansion for Sims 4 yet, and I’m still hoping there will be a way to revert Sims to earlier stages of life. Maybe there already is, but the Potion of Life you can get as a reward for achieving goals will only return a Sim to the beginning of their current stage. I won’t use cheat codes, but I will take full advantage of options in normal gameplay that break the general rules. I’m sure I’m not the only one to realize that a good way to get some extra money is to create a new Sim and move them into an existing household. I also tend to like the supernatural stuff that they tend to add in with expansions, and I know some people really don’t like that at all. It varies, though; I enjoyed making fairy and witch characters in Sims 3, but I was never all that interested in the vampires. So, of course, Sims 4 has a vampire expansion, but any of those other fantasy types as of yet. There are also now separate game, expansion, and stuff packs, which fortunately are often sold in sets, because I want some of the new stuff but find it hard to justify getting a pack without nothing BUT that. I miss when you got all those things in a single expansion, but once a game company comes up with a way to make more money, I don’t think they’re likely to reverse that decision.

It’s been standard for the Sims series that your characters aren’t playable while at work, and while most of the jobs in Sims 4 are like that as well, but the Get to Work expansion introduces a few where you do get to play out a Sim’s work day: scientist, detective, and doctor. You don’t have to follow a Sim in these career paths to work, but it’s a way to work toward promotions. You’re given a list of tasks to do, as well as a major goal you need to meet to get promoted. You can interact with other Sims on the same career path, and all of the workplaces have some other stuff you can explore. The downside that I’ve found is that the tasks you’re assigned can be rather repetitive. This makes sense for the medical track, as your job is mostly diagnosing and treating patients. For the scientist career, though, part of it is inventing things, yet there seem to only be a few possible items to invent, and the game will tell you to invent the same ones over and over again. The second time you make something, it doesn’t really count as inventing anymore, does it? But hey, ray guns that you can use to freeze other Sims and transform objects are pretty cool.

The detective career involves collecting evidence and crime sites and then analyzing it at the police station.

There isn’t much actual detective work for the player, as the clues seem to generate randomly, but you do have to find a culprit who fits all of them. There are also a few jobs that let you work from home.

The Seasons expansion works much like it does in Sims 3, with the seasons operating on a calendar where each one only lasts a week. I get why this would be considering how much you can do in a single day, but it still feels off. Holidays that fall at certain times of the season are Love Day, Harvestfest, Winterfest, and New Year’s Eve. There are a few others that pop up from time to time, and you can create you own, although I haven’t. Each holiday has certain traditions for Sims to follow, and doing or not doing them will affect their moods accordingly. While Love Day and New Year’s Eve are pretty straightforward, the designers were rather more creative with the other two big ones. Harvestfest is mostly like Thanksgiving, but with elements of Halloween. During the day, gnomes will appear on the active lot, and you can give them things to appease them, after which they’ll leave packets of seeds.

If you don’t, they’ll break things.

Since garden gnomes have been part of the series since the first installment, it’s cool that they get their own holiday, but it’s also kind of creepy. While Santa Claus has appeared in Sims games before, Sims 4 uses the somewhat more generic Father Winter. He wears blue instead of red, which makes him similar to the Russian Ded Moroz.

He’ll show up on Winterfest nights near a fireplace, although I think he can come in even if you don’t have one on the active lot. You can ask him for presents or fight him to get them; I have never tried the latter, as it just seems wrong (unlike drowning Sims in the pool, which is no big deal; I have some weird standards for games). You can also interact with him like any non-playable Sim while he’s there, and it apparently is possible to get him to move in, but then there will be a new Father Winter.

Posted in Christmas, Halloween, Holidays, Magic, New Year's Day, Sims, Thanksgiving, Video Games | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I Like Birds

When I linked to my last Oz post on Facebook, people gave a few more examples of birds I hadn’t mentioned, including some people turned into birds and other birds from authors outside the Famous Forty. I believe the first case of the former is in “Ozma and the Little Wizard,” one of the Little Wizard Stories, the Wizard turns the mischievous Imps into various forms, including doves. He reasons that they’re harmless, but it doesn’t make the Imps any more peaceful.

The dove form is popular in the series. In Tik-Tok of Oz, Ruggedo transforms the Shaggy Man into a dove because he has the Love Magnet. Dorothy uses the Magic Belt to do the same to Ugu in Lost Princess, but since she doesn’t specify a dove of peace, he uses his own magic to turn into a giant, vengeful dove of war.

She does manage to shrink him down again after that, though. I understand that doves can actually be pretty aggressive, so maybe a dove of war makes more sense than it would seem, despite their being symbols of peace.

Mrs. Yoop in Tin Woodman turns Polychrome into a canary and the Tin Woodman into a tin owl, and when Ozma disenchants the former, one of the intermediate forms is another dove, followed by a speckled hen. The disenchantment of Prince Bobo in Rinkitink is also done in stages, and for some reason one of the forms is an ostrich, even though all the others are mammals. But then, it’s also impossible to remove Woot the Wanderer‘s green monkey form, and you’d think that would be a relatively minor change. During the party in Road, the Good Witch of the North turns ten stones into ten birds, then into lambs and girls.

There are a lot of transformations in Magic, Kiki Aru first uses the magic word to turn into a hawk, then later into a white dove (everybody loves that one, apparently), a magpie, and an eagle.

He turns Ruggedo into a smaller eagle, and later into a goose.

The Nome in that form worries that he’ll lay an egg, but since “goose” technically refers to females but is colloquially used for both sexes, we don’t know whether his fear is warranted. We learn in Ruth Plumly Thompson’s Lost King that Mombi turned Pajuka, the former Prime Minister of Oz, into a goose, but he’s still referred to as male while in that form.

Queen Coo-ee-oh of the Skeezers is turned into a diamond swan by the poison created by Rora Flathead.

In Royal Book, Sir Hokus of Pokes accidentally wishes himself into bird form on Wish Way, but it doesn’t last long. I mentioned the Wizard of Mo and Grampa and company turning into crows in an earlier post.

When Mogodore steals the Magic Belt in Jack Pumpkinhead, he tests it out by turning Scraps into a bird.

In Ojo, Mooj turns her into a cuckoo clock, but the cuckoo can operate independently to some extent. Something similar happens with Poco in Eloise Jarvis McGraw’s Rundelstone when Slyddwyn turns him into a wooden cuckoo clock. Ojo also has Ozma turning Mooj into a sparrow, although she doesn’t leave him in that form for long. She also transforms pirates into seagulls in Pirates, Faleero into a raven in Purple Prince, and a red eagle into a sparrow in Wishing Horse.

And the Mimics in Magical Mimics turn themselves into birds at various times, including the many-colored ones they become to invade the Emerald City.

Several birds appear in Forbidden Fountain, some natural and some magical. A hedgebird named Oliver leads an amnesiac Ozma out of a maze. The Bordermoor, on the border between the Gillikin and Winkie Countries, has two-colored borderbirds, one of whom named Oscar serves as a spy for the Purple Wolf. And when Ozma and Lambert fall into Camouflage Creek, they take the form of canaries, among other animals.

David Hulan’s Glass Cat has Barry and Becky Klein learn the magic transformation word from Magic, and take multiple forms including a few avian ones: peregrine falcons, sparrows, crows, wood ducks, hawks, and goldfinches.

While Barry is in crow form, other crows somehow recognize that it’s not his natural form. The Great Grey Gillikin Swamp is home to bush-birds in Eric Shanower’s Blue Witch. Melody Grandy and Chris Dulabone’s Thorns and Private Files introduces Benny, a Canadian gander who settles in Cyrune, a kingdom in the Winkie Country.

Jared Davis wrote “Tommy Kwikstep and the Magpie,” in which the titular magpie is named Corina and crows in accordance with an old counting rhyme.

There’s a curmudgeonly vulture named Yeksh living in the Great Gillikin Forest in Hugh Pendexter’s The Crocheted Cat in Oz, and he temporarily takes giant form due to a shape-switching spell cast by the Golden Witch.

When Tempus in Edward Einhorn’s Paradox says that a Parrot-Ox is the offspring of a parrot and an ox, Ozma states that there are no parrots in Oz. Another book released around the same time, Gina Wickwar’s Hidden Prince, has a blue Ozian parrot named Beak, however. Mombi is familiar with parrots, as in Lost King, she tells Snip, “You talk too much. If I could remember my magic I’d turn you to a parrot!” That raises the question as to why parrots would be particularly associated with talking in a land where pretty much all birds can talk. In Sky Island, there’a a blue parrot who both speaks English, often in rhyme, and barks like a dog, a former pet of Princess Sapphire who becomes loyal to Trot. He later joins the girl and her companions on their journey, and ends up living in the Pink Country with Rosalie. He refers to himself as Polly, the generic name for parrots, but David Tai gives him the name Cyan, or Cy for short (and not just at the door), in “Diplomatic Immunity.” Roger the Read Bird also has parrot-like features. And Phyllis Ann Karr’s Gardener’s Boy introduces Parrot Island in the Nonestic Ocean, ruled by Queen Klurookuk, who has magic silver feathers that can turn humans into parrots and vice versa. She takes many consorts, and transforms them into humans and sends them away when she’s tired of them.

In the course of the tale, she turns Captain Edward Dauntless into a parrot, hoping to marry him, and making him more susceptible to her will in the process. Ugu in dove form helps Candy Longtaw to rescue him. Marcus Mebes’ Royal Explorers sub-series also has a parrot, actually a Phanfasm named Polimodellano in disguise.

Posted in Animals, Characters, Chris Dulabone, David Tai, Edward Einhorn, Eloise Jarvis McGraw, Eric Shanower, Gina Wickwar, Hugh Pendexter, Jack Snow, Jared Davis, L. Frank Baum, Magic, Magic Items, Marcus Mebes, Melody Grandy, Oz, Oz Authors, Phyllis Ann Karr, Ruth Plumly Thompson | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Lightning with My Hands

Shazam!SPOILERS! Hey, it’s that movie where Sinbad is a genie! No, seriously, while I can’t say I’m familiar with the comics in which he’s featured, I’ve looked into the history of the character, who was the original Captain Marvel, but then lost the name in a trademark dispute. He’s still sometimes called Captain Marvel, but comics featuring him have the title “Shazam!”, the magic word that he uses to transform, and the name of the wizard who gave him that power. And sometimes he’s just called Shazam. The movie plays on this by having him never decide on an official superhero name, instead running through a bunch of mostly really silly ones. The property was made into a film serial in the early forties. And in the seventies, Shazam! was a live-action TV show about a teenage boy riding around in a van with an old man. The seventies were a strange time, from what I hear; I personally was only three when they ended.

If you’ve seen the previews, you know that this is the goofy, humorous entry in the DC Expanded Universe, so of course it starts with a kid being abused by his dad and brother, then that dad being maimed in a car accident. Then another kid loses his mom at a midway, which seems familiar. The wizard Shazam, the only survivor of a group of seven, chooses to give his power to Billy Batson, because he’s so pure of heart. He demonstrates this by lying, stealing, and running away from foster homes. I guess it’s not about being a goody-goody so much as it is being able to resist corruption by evil forces. I noticed a clear similarity to Big in the commercials, which was intentional, even having a brief appearance by one of those floor pianos. In addition to thwarting some crimes and testing out his newfound powers, Billy also takes advantage of his adult superhero form to buy beer, visit a strip club, and skip class. It’s not all that far-fetched, is it? Unlike in Big, though, he doesn’t date any adult women, hence avoiding implications of statutory rape. Good call on that one.

The villain of the piece is Dr. Thaddeus Sivana, a mad scientist who’s been a major antagonist of Billy’s over the years. The back story in the movie makes one of the kids Shazam tested before. He failed, but researched the phenomenon until he was able to return to the wizard’s castle and join forces with demons representing the Seven Deadly Sins.

In order to fight the super-powered Dr. Sivana, Billy transfers some of his own power to his foster siblings.

Freddy Freeman and Mary Bromfield were parts of the Captain Marvel family from early on, as Captain Marvel Jr. and Mary Marvel. The others, Darla Dudley, Eugene Choi, and Pedro Peña, were introduced into the comics considerably more recently. Also worthy of note is that the movie takes place in Philadelphia, and I grew up not too far from there. From what I’ve read, Billy originally lived in New York, but when DC bought the rights they made him a resident of Fawcett City, after the original publisher. The film has the kids attend Fawcett High School, even though I’m fairly sure some of them are too young to be in high school. Other villains from the comics, Mr. Mind and the Crocodile Men, also make brief appearances; and there’s a mention of Black Adam, who was originally planned to appear in the movie.

Posted in Comics, Families, Humor, Magic, Monsters, Names, Television, VoVat Goes to the Movies | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Birds of a Feather (and a Few Without)

I don’t think I’ve ever really written specifically about the birds in the Oz series, and there are quite a few of them. When Dorothy first arrives in Oz, she sees “birds with rare and brilliant plumage” in the Munchkin Country. And L. Frank Baum’s novel Policeman Bluejay (sometimes called Babes in Birdland) features many different kinds of birds, including Birds of Paradise that actually live in the Garden of Eden, or a place much like it.

I’ve written about some of the sorts of birds in Oz before, including chickens, storks, crows, The Foolish Owl and the Lonesome Duck are pretty memorable birds as well. Baum seems to avoid saying that Orks are birds, although they have bird-like features. When Trot and Cap’n Bill first encounter one in The Scarecrow of Oz, the text specifically says that “to call it a bird was out of the question.” There seem to be some giant rocs in the area as well; Captain Salt wants to find a roc egg, and the enormous birds seen underground in Dorothy and the Wizard are said to remind Zeb of rocs. The hummingbirds in Rachel Cosgrove Payes’ Wicked Witch have nectar that makes visitors grow wings. There are a lot of blue gulls at Lake Orizon, and a giant one known as the Grand Mo-Gull claims to be the ruler of all land and sea birds.

There’s a significant bird character in Ruth Plumly Thompson’s Cowardly Lion, Nickadoodle, often called by the nickname Snorer. He’s described as about the size of a small child, and has pink legs and a blue beak and eyes. As per his nickname, he snores incredibly loudly. His beak curves around into his ear like a telephone in order to wake him up from this, and he explains that the attachment was invented by his Uncle Billy. Notta Bit More, Bob Up, and the Cowardly Lion find Nick on the Skyle of Un, where he’s staying because he’s unusual, and he helps them escape the place. He’s a very friendly animal, expressing his love for everyone. After the adventure, he moves into Notta’s tent outside the Emerald City. Gnome King mentions a zazagooch, the loudest-snoring animal in Oz, which could potentially be Nick’s species. I’ve pointed out the connection to Kabumpo‘s insult “gooch” before, and that might well be a kind of bird, not just because of the similarity to “goose” but because Thompson’s advertising poem “The Little Gingerbread Man” has the King of Jalapomp saying, “May a Gooch fly off with you!”

As far as other strange (to us Outside Worlders, anyway) birds go, Kabumpo has a Hurrah Bird, a play on the expression “hurrah’s nest,” which means something really messy. Thompson took the more positive meaning of “hurrah,” however, and made the birds and their nest very cheerful.

The castle in the Kingdom of Patch is home to the Scissor Bird, named Nipper, a violent creature who eats fabric scraps. I wonder if Thompson was thinking of the stork-shaped scissors that were apparently originally used to cut umbilical cords, but are now primarily employed in embroidery.

In the same book, a balloon bird from Balloon Island flies off with Peter Brown while disguised as a regular balloon.

There’s also an illustration of barrel birds, a type of creature that’s mentioned in the text of The Curious Cruise of Captain Santa and John R. Neill’s own Lucky Bucky.

Thompson describes them as having long necks, flat heads, and hollow bodies.

The one Bucky encounters is filled with stardust.

Roger the Read Bird is a major character in Pirates and Captain Salt. He’s described as a cross between a duck and a parrot, but in Marcus Mebes’ Royal Explorers books, he admits he doesn’t really know what kind of bird he is.

I wasn’t sure if there was any joke in “Read Bird,” but it looks like bobolinks are sometimes called reedbirds, so maybe that’s it.

Ozamaland has creeping birds with scales and fangs. The peli-cans in Neill’s Scalawagons carry and dispense motor fluid.

The published excerpt from Eloise Jarvis McGraw’s unfinished Oz manuscript has the Flittermouse captured by a Russet Meagle, which is even larger than an eagle.

Also, Percy Vere has a poem about a banana bird with peel wings in Lost King, and Snif the Iffin uses the expression “glad as a gluckbird” in Jack Pumpkinhead, but I don’t know whether either of those are actual animals in the Ozian world.

Posted in Animals, Arabian, Characters, Eloise Jarvis McGraw, Humor, John R. Neill, L. Frank Baum, Language, Marcus Mebes, Monsters, Mythology, Oz, Oz Authors, Poetry, Rachel Cosgrove Payes, Ruth Plumly Thompson | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Doppelgang War

UsWARNING! SPOILERS AND SPECULATION! Jordan Peele’s second film didn’t seem quite as original as Get Out, or as much about race, although it still has shallow, annoying white people. The social commentary is still front and center, but rather more fantastic. There were some good jokes, too, especially the one involving the Alexa-like device and NWA. After a flashback to 1986, we’re introduced to the central characters, a married couple with a daughter and son. They’re staying at their beach house, only to find a family that looks almost identical to them standing in their driveway. Soon, these doubles break into the house and it plays out as a home invasion film for a while, as they torment the family. They eventually manage to escape and it’s more of a survival horror thing, with doppelgangers of everyone around slowly killing their counterparts. The wife, Adelaide, then returns to where the trouble started in the flashback, a fun house on the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk where she wandered off from her parents and encountered her double in the hall of mirrors. That then brings in a science fiction explanation for the doppelgangers, that they were the result of secret experiments that created human doubles with their own bodies and minds, but who were still connected to the originals and forced to copy their movements. There’s a twist ending on top of this that helps to explain how the doubles managed to overcome their limitations and how Adelaide fits into it.

There’s still quite a bit that isn’t explained, though. Are there doubles for every person, or just the ones in that area? Based on comments earlier in the movie, the doppelgangers presumably have to reproduce when the people they’re copying do, but how far back do the generations of doubles go? I suppose it’s not really important, but where did all those people in the line live before? Yeah, underground, I know; but would there have been enough room for all of them? And why was there that one scene where the son’s double had to walk backwards just because the kid was doing that, even though it led to his death? None of the other doppelgangers seem to have to imitate movements once they’ve come to the surface, even though they did underground. I did notice that one of the videos you can see beside the television at the beginning of the film is C.H.U.D., which also involves people living in tunnels and ungodly scientific experimentation. There’s a clear element of Frankenstein as well, with the creators abandoning their creations. I’m not sure we even find out what happened to the scientists behind the duplication project. The focus is more on how one particular person is aware of their plight and does nothing. There’s also a lot of repeated imagery, like the references to Hands Across America, the rabbits, and the number 11:11. A sign in the flashback refers to Jeremiah 11:11, which reads, “Therefore thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will bring evil upon them, which they shall not be able to escape; and though they shall cry unto me, I will not hearken unto them.” Thematically appropriate, certainly, but I was hoping it would be a little more directly relevant. I’m also trying to see if there’s any pattern to the doppelgangers’ names. Some are clearly related to darkness, but others don’t appear to fit that theme.

Posted in Families, Humor, Names, Prejudice, Religion, VoVat Goes to the Movies | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Shopping O-Z

I wrote about traveling salesmen in Oz last week, but I forgot about one. That was none other than Ruggedo, the former Nome King, who was a peddler of sunglasses at the beginning of Pirates in Oz. Now, I might as well cover the stationary ones, who have their own shops. We know from Wizard that the Emerald City has many shops, and that people use shopping carts to carry their purchases.

We aren’t given many details, though, aside from that one of them was selling green lemonade that people paid for with green pennies. The first that I can recall really being described is the tailor shop Pastoria opens at the end of Lost King. It’s said to have been “set up next to the palace,” although Lin Carter’s Tired Tailor reports that, from the shop, Pastoria and Snip “set off down Banana Boulevard and up Strawberry Street to the palace gates,” and they later get there by way of Applesauce Avenue. Pastoria, Snip, and Humpy all work there, and Pajuka presumably does as well.

John R. Neill’s books, which provide a lot more detail about the city (and, indeed, introduce both Strawberry Street and Banana Boulevard), describe some of the shops as well. One of the main ones is Jenny Jump‘s Style Shop, located at the corner of Strawberry Street and Banana Boulevard.

When she finds a magical Turn-Style in a ruined building in the Munchkin Country, she decides to use it to set up her own business, and does so in a friendly vacant house in the city. There’s no indication that she charges for her services, except for the time during the ozlection when she asks for customers’ shoes as payment, only to receive the wrong ones due to confusing wording. Jenny employs Number Nine as an office boy, but since he works for the Wizard of Oz starting prior to Scalawagons, his Sister Six seems to have taken over as her assistant. When we see the shop again in Marcus Mebes’ Bashful Baker, she has several other employees.

While Neill never mentions Pastoria’s tailor shop, many readers have noticed that the two shops might well be rivals. If so, it has to be somewhat hurtful to the former king when his own daughter patronizes Jenny’s shop. There might be even more competition in Madam Chic Chic’s Fashion Plate Mesa, which I believe Margaret Berg introduced because Jenny was (and is) still under copyright. Located in the green territory outside the Emerald City, the hill is home to a Clothes Tree lined with mirrors, which can magically change clothing. The service was apparently started by Merlin, and temporarily shut down by the Wicked Witches.

Neill also mentions a bakery across the street from the Style Shop, and Number Nine visits an Oz Cream shop on Pumpkin Place in Lucky Bucky. Run by a young girl, this shop has two bottomless Oz cream containers. It’s also the favorite shop of Evangeline, the two-headed Dragonette, for whom the Wizard magically provides two more containers. The author tells us, “In Oz everything is so abundant that no one ever runs short, and never any charge for a single thing.” Wonder City also mentions that the busiest shopping day of the week is Choose Day. Dick Martin, in his Cut and Assemble the Emerald City of Oz, includes among the buildings in the city a grocery store, a blacksmith and hardware shop, a sweet shop serving Oz cream and Emerald Ice, a toy store, a barber shop, a bakery, and the Emerald City Emporium that includes a bootery and toggery.

And speaking of barber shops, the MGM movie has the Wash and Brush-Up Company.

A few books also mention shops outside the Emerald City territory. In Royal Book, there’s a road shop in Fix City, where a man cuts roads like fabric. They go wherever they want, unrolling all the way.

Jack Pumpkinhead has the Goody Shop in the Quadling Country, where you can purchase anything starting with “good,” but it rarely works out in your favor. Peter Brown asks for a good breakfast and gets birdseed, and Jack asks for good advice and is told to keep his mouth shut (which he can’t do). The brief episode is very similar to the shop in Dictionopolis in The Phantom Tollbooth that sells the word “good.” I’ve heard that Norton Juster liked the Oz books, but whether he ever read Jack Pumpkinhead, I couldn’t say. Handy Mandy steals some turnip turnovers from a bakery in Turn Town. Down Town has a lot of different shops, although that’s not in Oz. For the most part, shops just don’t feature much in the stories, but they do seem to be there in the background.

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