Archive for April, 2012

Review of The Woggle-Bug Book by L Frank Baum (1905)

Posted in books, movies, pop culture, reviews, Wizard of Oz with tags , , , , , , , on April 30, 2012 by Paxton

Following the Yellow Brick Road

Baum wrote a short book published in 1905 right before the third Oz book; Ozma of Oz.  It featured a character that was introduced in the Marvelous Land of Oz, the Woggle-Bug.  It’s not an “official” Oz book, however, since L Frank Baum wrote it and it features a character from the Oz series, I’m going to include it as part of my ancillary Oz materials reviews.  It was called The Woggle-Bug Book.

Woggle-Bug book

“Sire, I am a Woggle-Bug, highly magnified and thoroughly educated. It is no exaggeration to say I am the greatest Woggle-Bug on Earth” – HM Woggle-Bug, TE

The book takes the Woggle-Bug character out of Oz and transplants him into a nameless city in America. We aren’t told how he got there and not too many people seem distressed that a giant talking bug in a top hat is walking around the city streets in broad daylight.  The bug falls in love with this crazy colored plaid dress, follows it around as it’s passed from person to person and falls in love with whomever has the dress at the time he sees them.  After falling in love with a Chinaman wearing the dress as a Chinese robe, the Woggle-Bug mistakenly gets onto a balloon that carries him to Africa where he barely escapes vicious Arabs that want to kill him.  He then wanders into a hidden forest with talking animals that feel more like an Oz book than the events in the rest of the book.  This hidden animal kingdom is guarded by a group of bears with guns that are awesomely called a “bearicade”.  The story really is weird.  It’s funny and strange in some ways, but overall, it’s weird.  Plus, there’s a lot of ethnic humor which, I guess, was popular at the time.  However, it’s rather jarring today.

This book evolved from a series of Oz comic strips called The Queer Visitors from Oz that were used to promote the second Oz book (I’m trying to get a hold of a copy of these strips for review).  The strips took popular Oz characters and transplanted them into America for various adventures.  Those strips were popular enough that Baum thought that formula would work again.  It wasn’t completely out of left field, the Woggle-Bug had become sort of a national fad at the time.  There were Woggle-Bug postcards and board games (today, he even has his own Facebook page).  Also at this time, Baum was trying to mount a stage musical about the Woggle-Bug to recreate the smash hit 1902 stage version of Wizard of Oz.  This book was adapted from that stage play.  Unfortunately, the fad died and the Woggle-Bug play and book flopped.

Now, this book is sort of a one-off curiosity.  It is not considered Oz canon.

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Countdown to Avengers: A look at The Avengers collectible soda cans

Posted in comic books, Dr Pepper, Mountain Dew, movies, soda with tags , , , , , , , on April 25, 2012 by Paxton

Sodapalooza

Countdown to Avengers is a blog crossover between Nerd Lunch, To The Escape Hatch and the Cavalcade of Awesome. Together we are reviewing all of the solo Avengers movies as well as some of the comics and cartoons. It’s all leading up to the release of The Avengers on May 4 where we will all review the new movie.

The Avengers

So, by this point we have talked about our thoughts on most, if not all, of the movies that lead up to The Avengers.  Now,  I want to look at some of the ancillary promotions for The Avengers.  I’m “the soda guy” of the group so I’m a complete sucker for any big pop culture movie/soda promotion (see my write ups on Star Wars soda promotions herehere and here).  So today, I’m going to discuss the big Marvel soda promotions that have happened from all of the Marvel movies including Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America and the upcoming The Avengers.  Unfortunately, there were no soda promotions for the original Iron Man or The Incredible Hulk in 2008.  So, let’s start with the current Avengers promotion going on with Dr Pepper.

Dr Pepper Avengers 24 pack Dr Pepper Assemble the Team promotion

Currently, Dr Pepper has a promotion called “Assemble the Team”.  The promotional packaging is starting to show up en mass at retail locations everywhere.  The promotion consists of 8 collector cans featuring the principles of The Avengers (Nick Fury, Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hawkeye, Black Widow and Hulk) as well as one can featuring the film’s villain (Loki).  Here’s an official picture of the set.

Avengers can set

The promotion is spread among the four main Dr Pepper brands.  The character/brand breakdown (as shown in the right image above, click to make bigger) looks like this:

Dr Pepper – Captain America, Hulk, Iron Man, Thor
Diet Dr Pepper – Hawkeye, Black Widow
Dr Pepper Cherry – Nick Fury
Diet Dr Pepper Cherry – Loki

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The Pax & Jeeg Show Episode 34: Wrestlemania

Posted in podcast, pop culture, wrestling, WWF with tags , , , , on April 24, 2012 by Paxton

Nerd Lunch Podcast

Jeeg and I continue our show this week and we are joined by Michael Downs of the Atomic Geeks and Jay from Sexy Armpit. The topic for this week’s throwdown is Wrestlemania.

Wrestlemania

Listen to Jeeg transform into Michael Puffer and introduce the hell out of the rest of us. Also listen to all of us transform into our favorite wrestlers and cut some awesome promos. We also take the time to discuss our favorite Wrestlemania moments and matches as well as our overall favorite Wrestlemania. It’s a grappling good time. Come have your ear Power Bombed by our awesome discussion.

Download this episode from iTunes or listen to it on Feedburner. And yes, we are still on the Zune Marketplace.

Review of Return to Oz (1984)

Posted in movies, pop culture, Wizard of Oz with tags , , , , , on April 20, 2012 by Paxton

inspired_by_oz

In my article about adaptations of The Marvelous Land of Oz, I mentioned that the 1984 movie Return to Oz was an adaptation of two of the Baum Oz books.  Specifically, it’s a combination of Oz books 2 (Marvelous Land of Oz) and 3 (Ozma of Oz).

After finishing Book 3, I decided to re-watch Return to Oz the other night for the first time in maybe 10 years.  Since it’s sort of a cult, underground hit, I thought I would give it a quick review for you guys.

Return to Oz

So, WOW, the first twenty minutes of this movie are DEPRESSING.  This movie starts a few months after Dorothy has returned to Kansas.  The farm is destroyed from the twister.  I mean, everything is in shambles.  Uncle Henry and Auntie Em are trying to rebuild everything.  Uncle Henry broke his leg and now just sits around drinking all day doing nothing.  Em is stuck doing all the work.  Everytime Dorothy brings up her trip to Oz, Em just shuts her down.  No one believes Dorothy’s trips were real.  She’s starting to believe they weren’t real.  Em takes Dorothy to a “mental hospital” to have a psychiatrist take a look at her.  The psychiatrist actually intends to hook Dorothy up to a machine for shock treatments.  SHOCK TREATMENTS.  This movie was actually showing Dorothy in this creepy old asylum about to have her head lobotomized.  I didn’t remember any of this and started to question whether I actually wanted to finish the movie.

Return to Oz

So I continued on, Dorothy is saved by a mysterious girl and runs out of the asylum into a thunderstorm.  Dorothy is knocked out and wakes up back in Oz.  The movie essentially takes the framework for the third book, Ozma of Oz, and adds the characters from the second book, Marvelous Land of Oz.  The main changes to the story in Ozma for the movie were to remove everything having to do with the fairy Land of Ev.  All of the events in the movie happen in Oz.  And not just Oz, but a dilapidated, ghost town of Oz.  Also, while they appear on the poster, the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion are relegated to cameos at the end.  The other 15 characters in the poster above were given all the screen time.  Another change is that Mombi is the main villain (and the current ruler of Oz which is why it’s so run down).  We do get to see the awesome Nome King from Book 3, however he looks like Ice Man from the pilot of Misfits of Science.  And although he’s the King of the Nomes, you really don’t see any other Nomes.  He’s a king of one, I guess.  He’s the one telling Mombi what to do.

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Review of Oz Book 3: Ozma of Oz by L Frank Baum (1907)

Posted in books, movies, Wizard of Oz with tags , , , , , on April 18, 2012 by Paxton

Following the Yellow Brick Road

It’s time to take a look at the next book in the original Baum Oz series; Ozma of Oz.  Click the image above to see the previous entries in my Oz book read through.

ozma of oz - books of wonder

Ozma of Oz was released in 1907. It is the third book in the series.  It had been three years since the last Oz sequel, Marvelous Land of Oz.  It also featured the triumphant return of Dorothy Gale.

This book was sort of a departure. Instead of taking place in Oz, it takes place in a neighboring fairy land called Ev. Dorothy is traveling with her uncle on a boat when a storm hits and carries Dorothy to the fairly land of Ev. There Dorothy meets more crazy weird characters that she winds up traveling with. Once Dorothy realizes she’s in a similar fairly land that happens to neighbor with Oz, she doesn’t yearn to travel home to Kansas, like in the first book, she longs to return to Oz.

Also returning in this book are the original three companions; Scarecrow, Tin Man (Nick Chopper) and Cowardly Lion, who makes his first appearance since Book 1.  And, obviously since the book is named for her, Princess Ozma also returns. The new characters we meet are Billina, a talking hen, Tik-Tok the mechanical man and the Hungry Tiger, a companion of the Cowardly Lion that is always hungry (obviously).  We also meet the royal family of Ev (who need rescuin’) and the Nome King. Tik-Tok and the Nome King would prove popular enough that they would feature in several books later in the series.  One of them written by Baum himself.

Gnome_king_oz_cover tik_tok_of_oz

So Dorothy becomes stranded in Ev.  Dorothy is joined by the hen, Billina, and eventually Tik-Tok, the mechanical man.  We also meet these characters called The Wheelers (who show up in the movie Return to Oz) and Dorothy is taken hostage and locked away by the current Princess of Ev.  The current Princess is very vain and can change her head whenever she wants.  She keeps like 30 heads in her closet.  So, the Princess wants Dorothy’s head, is refused and locks up Dorothy and her friends.   Hearing about this, the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion come with Ozma and her army from Oz across the Deadly Desert to rescue her. Next we get this whole back story about the land of Ev. The original King was a douchebag (my words, not Baum’s).  He sells his entire family to the Nome King, who is a very magical being, in exchange for long life.  Then the idiot king goes and drowns himself in despair for what he’s done.  Like beheadings in the first book, this book is filled with people who drown themselves or nearly get drowned.  Dorothy is almost drowned in the beginning of the book.  This king does it to himself and there are several other mentions of drowning throughout the book.  This Baum guy has serious issues.  He should get them looked at, STAT.

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The Pax & Jeeg Show Episode 33: Kung Fu Fightiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing….Movies

Posted in movies, nostalgia, podcast, pop culture with tags , , , , , on April 17, 2012 by Paxton

Nerd Lunch Podcast

Episode 33 has gone LIVE! This week, CT is nowhere to be found and we inaugurate The Pax & Jeeg Show. Expect complete and total CHAOS.  And AWESOME-ness.  And Jackie Chan-ness.

Dragon Pax

On this, the first episode of The Pax & Jeeg Show, we are again joined by Jeremy from GeekChunks.com to discuss modern martial arts movies.  We discuss stuff like Enter the Dragon, Drunken Master, Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Wire Fu, subtitles and Ong Bak.  It’s an info packed episode so Crane Kick this awesome episode into your iPhone or web browser.

Download this episode from iTunes or listen to it on Feedburner. And yes, we are still on the Zune Marketplace.

Of Holy Grails and white whales….Call me Ishmael

Posted in comic books, movies, pop culture, soda, Star Wars, The Flash with tags , , , , , , , on April 13, 2012 by Paxton

LEB

Brian has released this week’s assignment for The League. This week he wants us to talk about, as collectors, our Holy Grail items. He also mentions our white whales.   I see these two concepts as different.  Our Holy Grails are something we’d love to own, but we realize that, for whatever reason, we will never own it.  “If I had all the money in the world I’d……”

White whales are something we are always on the lookout for.  Something that, if we found it, we would be able to bring it home.  There is hope with a white whale, but with Holy Grails, there usually is very little.

I’ve been a collector for many years.  I don’t really do it as much as I used to, but I still manage to “collect stuff” without meaning to.  Action figures, books, DVDs, soda cans, etc.

So, let’s start with my Holy Grail.  What do I think would be awesome to own, but I’m 99% confident that I’ll never own?  I’d have to say the Holiest of my Holy Grails would be:

Showcase #4
Showcase #4 – Published by DC in 1955. Features the first appearance of the Barry Allen Flash.  Also considered the beginning of the Silver Age of comics.  I’ve been a huge fan of The Flash since I started collecting comics.  I have several reprints of this issue, I just think it would be cool to own the actual issue.  However, unless I win the lottery, I just can’t fathom ever owning an actual copy of this.  And since we are dreaming that I won the lottery, I would also like the other three Showcase issues that feature The Flash as well as the entire run of the Barry Allen Flash series (#105 – 350).  However, I have a lot of the Barry Allen series, so I’d just need to complete it.

Now, let’s take a look at my white whales.

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