Archive for March, 2012

Review of Oz Book 2: The Marvelous Land of Oz by L Frank Baum (1904)

Posted in books, movies, pop culture, Wizard of Oz with tags , , , , , , on March 5, 2012 by Paxton

Following the Yellow Brick Road

And so I continue my journey down the yellow brick road. A few weeks ago I finished the original Wizard of Oz book by L Frank Baum and posted my review here. Now it’s time to continue the series with Book 2: The Marvelous Land of Oz.

Marvelous Land of Oz

I mentioned previously that I’ve read the original Oz book several times.  I have never read any of the other books in the series.  EVER.  So this was the first time I’d delved in to the original Baum Oz sequels in my life.  Needless to say, I was a little nervous but also excited.

First, a little background on this book. It was published in 1904, four years after the original Oz book. Baum had not intended to write a sequel. There was a stage play adaptation of the first book in 1902 that became very popular. Baum actually dedicates the book to comedians David Montgomery and Fred Stone who portrayed the Tin Man and Scarecrow in that stage production. It should also be noted that this book’s story and structure was written with an eye towards adapting it as a stage play. You will notice these elements as you read the story.  Baum also stated in the foreward that he decided to write the sequel due to the large volumes of mail he received from young fans asking for more adventures in Oz. Baum included the Tin Man and Scarecrow in the book because they were the most popular characters with fans.

Now, to the book itself.  It’s actually not bad. Baum’s boundless imagination really shines through. The structure of this book is very similar to the first Oz book, but Baum populates the story with so many fun and interesting characters you can’t help but be charmed by it.  Dorothy doesn’t appear, though she’s mentioned a few times.  Neither does the Cowardly Lion appear.  The story seems to take place a few years after Dorothy’s departure.  It centers on an eclectic group led by new character Tip who is being raised by the witch Mombi.  He flees the witch after she threatens to turn him into a garden statue and takes a walking talking pumpkin-headed man named Jack with him.  Along the way they acquire a Saw Horse, the original Scarecrow, King of Emerald City and the original Tin Man, Emporer of the Winkies.  They also acquire HM Wogglebug, TE and a magically re-animated creature called the Gump.

Woggle-bug and group
The group meets HM Wogglebug, TE.

This group travels across Oz after an army of girls takes over the Emerald City.  The group try to get to Glinda the Good Witch to get her help in expelling the army.  There’s a lot of talk about the Wizard and Baum certainly does his fair share of ret-conning the character of the Wizard.  Amongst the denizons of Oz the Wizard is no longer considered a non-magical “humbug” but a bumbling good natured fellow who happened to be a bad wizard (although an actual “wizard” nonetheless).  It is also shown that the Wizard wasn’t as reclusive as he was during the first book.  No one had really ever seen him before when Dorothy arrived at the Emerald City, but in this book Mombi mentions at one point that she was visited by the actual Wizard and that he taught her several magical tricks as payment for a big favor she performed (revealed later in the book).  There is even a discussion of who ruled Oz before the wizard showed up, which I think is interesting Oz history.  This means the Wizard showed up, battled the previous ruler of Oz, won and then usurped the throne.  That’s most definitely a change in character for the previously bumbling character.  And I like it.  But this is just the beginning as we see an army of girls sack the Emerald City, the Scarecrow lose all of his stuffing (again!) and have it replaced with actual money and a magical chase through Oz featuring Glinda the Good and Mombi.  We even see the Deadly Desert that has been mentioned in both books that surrounds the land of Oz.  This “deadly” desert in later books will turn anyone who touches it into sand.  Just not this time.  Anyway, the group of heroes save the Emerald City and there is much rejoicing.

Oh, I forgot, this book mentions several times the Tin Woodsman’s proper name, Nick Cutter. I don’t remember that being mentioned in the first book, but it’s mentioned in this book several times. I thought that was weird. When it came up at first I was like, “Who the f**k is Nick Cutter?!”. It’s the Tin Woodsman. Interesting trivia for you.

So, in the first book, the beheadings count was up to 42, all but one being doled out by Mr Cutter.  However, there are no beheadings in this book which causes the series average to plummet to 21.   I’ll be keeping track of the beheadings as I read.  We’ll see if anyone gets their heads chopped off in Book 3 (fingers crossed).

So if you are interested in more Oz goodness, definitely give this book a chance.  It’s a fun read.

Here is my checklist of the Oz books and I’ve checked off the ones I’ve read so far. Up next is Ozma of Oz.
Oz books checklist

10 custom Atari 2600 cartridges based on movie video games

Posted in Atari, movies, Tron, video games, War Games with tags , , , , , , on March 2, 2012 by Paxton

Cavalcade Arcade

In May of last year I wrote an article talking about video games in movies that I thought were fake but were actually real. Then, CT over at Nerd Lunch used an image of a Nerd Lunch Atari 2600 cart for Episode 26 of the Nerd Lunch podcast. This immediately got me thinking about all those movie games I want to exist. So, I went out to the custom Atari 2600 label generator and just went buck wild.

Here are some of my creations (click the images to make them BIGGER).

Global Thermonuclear War
Global Thermonuclear War (War Games) – I did a bunch for WarGames. This was the first one that popped into my mind. How cool would this game be?

Falken's Maze
Falken’s Maze (War Games) – Another WarGames creation. The name of this game appears in the scene where David Lightman lists the games available from Joshua (aka WOPR). I think Eddie Deezen even tells Matthew Broderick to research Falken’s Maze to learn about the enigmatic programmer. Atari released a similar maze game called Maze Craze (from which I got the picture on the cartridge).

Joshua's Tic Tac Toe
Joshua’s Tic Tac Toe (War Games) – Essentially just a themed Tic-Tac-Toe game. This may seem a bit thin, but Atari actually released a 3D Tic-Tac-Toe game which could probably be re-branded and maybe skinned to match the movie game.

WarGames: NORAD
WarGames: NORAD (War Games) – This is not necessarily based on anything specific in the movie.  It could be a conglomeration of all the Joshua Games or maybe even a video game recreation of the final NORAD sequence in the film.  I just thought it sounded cool.

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