Archive for February, 2013

Review of Oz Book 14: Glinda of Oz (1920)

Posted in books, Classic literature, movies, nostalgia, pop culture, Wizard of Oz with tags , , , , , on February 18, 2013 by Paxton

Following the Yellow Brick Road

L Frank Baum’s fourteenth and final Oz book was published the year after his death in 1920. It was called Glinda of Oz.

Glinda of Oz

It has been said that Baum only barely finished the manuscript for this book before his death. I’ve also read where he didn’t finish it and either an editor at Reilly & Lee or one of his daughters finished the book. It is unclear which is the truth. But the majority of the book was indeed written by Baum before he died. The very next book, The Royal Book of Oz, was actually originally credited solely to Baum with the publishers saying it was written from Baum’s final notes. However, this isn’t true, The Royal Book of Oz is entirely a story written by Ruth Plumly-Thompson and this book was Baum’s last.

In this story, illustrated again by John Neill, Ozma and Dorothy travel to some of the outlying lands of Oz to settle a dispute between two peoples, the Skeezers and the Flatheads.  Both people are set to go to war and Ozma wishes to stop it before it gets to that point.  However, Ozma and Dorothy are trapped by the Skeezer queen in her glass covered city which is magically submerged under the lake on which it previously sat.  A group of Oz’s greatest citizens band together to figure out how to raise the city and save Ozma, Dorothy and the other trapped Skeezer people.

There are parts of this story that are pretty good, and there are parts that aren’t very good.  One of the things that seemed completely ridiculous were the amount of people that traveled to help Ozma and Dorothy in the end.  There were like 20 people traveling over land to try to raise the submerged city.  The only people that absolutely needed to go were Glinda and The Wizard.  That’s it.  They are the only two people in Oz who can legally work magic and since the city is, you know, magically submerged, they are the most logical ones to go.  Woggle Bug didn’t need to go.  What the hell was he going to do?  And Shaggy Man?  Was he going to use the Love Magnet to make the city love him so much that it raises above the lake’s surface?  Absurd.  The whole of the Oz council went.  Jack Pumkinhead was there for some reason.  Why did all of these people need to go?  They didn’t.  Glinda and The Wizard wound up needing help from three other ancient wizards to fix the entire mess anyway.  Just seemed a little excessive to me.  Like using a sledgehammer to swat a fly.

Glinda of Oz art
(Via My Delineated Life)

While I only kind of liked the book, it’s a bittersweet ending knowing that this is the final Baum Oz book.  After this Ruth Plumly-Thompson writes like 19 or 20 books in a row.  All illustrated by John Neill.  So while this isn’t the best of the books, it’s still an okay read.  I’ve just thoroughly enjoyed reading this entire series.  I hate to see it end.  But, it doesn’t have to end there.  There are still some other Oz goodies I can read/watch/review.  I may even start delving into Plumly-Thompson’s archive.  I honestly would love to read John Neill’s three Oz books that he wrote and illustrated, but they are long out of print.

Below is my checklist of Oz books.  I’ve crossed off all of the books.  I was able to finish all 14 of the original L Frank Baum Oz books in 2012, which concludes the challenge I set for myself and started back in February 2012 with the very first Oz book.

Oz books checklist

Bionic Review: The Solid Gold Kidnapping (1973)

Posted in movies, pop culture, Six Million Dollar Man, TV shows with tags , , , , , on February 15, 2013 by Paxton

Bionic Review
SMDM Movies

The third and final TV movie starring Lee Majors as the Six Million Dollar Man was called The Solid Gold Kidnapping and aired on Nov 17, 1973.

smdm_sgk_title1

Like Bond movies and the previous TV movie, this movie begins with Austin on an assignment.  He’s in Mexico rescuing a US Ambassador from some revolutionaries in the mountains.  After Austin successfully resuces the Ambassador, we meet the sinister group known as “The Company”.  It’s an organization similar to Bond’s SPECTRE.  They, unfortunately, would make no more appearances outside of this movie.  The Company kidnaps international negotiator William Henry Cameron and demands $1 billion for his return.  OSI and Oscar team up Steve Austin with Dr Erica Bergner to rescue him.  Dr Bergner’s specialty is the brain and she’s developed a procedure to transplant brain cells from one patient to another with the result being that the transplantee gains the transplanter’s memories.  So Bergner takes the brain cells from a captured henchman of The Company and transplants them into her brain.  She uses this henchman’s memories to help Steve find their headquarters.

Silly?  Yes, it is.  But they treat it fairly good in that she can’t just pluck whatever information she wants from the new memories.  Her brain needs time to adjust and process the new information.  She is constantly having random memories that aren’t her own and has to make sense of them before they mean anything.  I sort of liked that even if I thought the procedure was a bit hokey.

Overall, however, this final TV movie wasn’t the greatest.  I’m surprised that with the upcoming release of the first episode of the series, that these last two movies still hadn’t really nailed the “look and feel” of the series yet.  They really aren’t my favorites.  I’m also surprised that neither of these two TV movies adapted the second book in Caidin’s Cyborg series.  Well, I am and am not surprised because that second book is not very good.  It would have had to have been re-written.  But the third book, High Crystal, was excellent, however it wasn’t released until the following year in 1974.  But Caidin should have had most of the story, they could have used that.  Interestingly, the early Mexico scenes of The Solid Gold Kidnapping do actually echo the setting of that third Cyborg book.

But I honestly can’t recommend these movies to anyone but hardcore bionic fans.  We still don’t get any of the signature bionic sounds, so watching Steve do these feats with no audio cue is still a little weird.

Cult Film Club Episode 4: The Beastmaster (1982)

Posted in 80s, movies, podcast, pop culture with tags , , , , on February 14, 2013 by Paxton

Cult Film Club

The Clubhouse is now open.  For this installment of Cult Film Club we are discussing the awesomely phantasmagorical 1982 fantasy movie, The Beastmaster.

The Beastmaster

We all discuss our personal recollections of watching the movie, we talk about the things we love. We talk about the things that makes us cringe. We discuss the awesome glory that is Marc Singer all muscle-y and oiled up.  We even attempt to simulate the “hawk cry” with varying degrees of success.

If you also loved this movie, download this episode from iTunes or listen to it online here.

Review of Oz Book 13: The Magic of Oz (1919)

Posted in books, Classic literature, pop culture, Wizard of Oz with tags , , , , , on February 13, 2013 by Paxton

Following the Yellow Brick Road

The thirteenth book in Baum’s Oz series was called The Magic of Oz.  It was published in 1919, one month after L Frank Baum had died due to complications after having a stroke.

Tin Woodman of Oz

This story begins with a magician who discovers a simple magical word for transforming anything and anyone into anything and anyone he wishes. The word is complex and must be pronounced exactly, but once learned is very easy to execute. After Ozma declares that only Glinda and the Wizard are able to perform magic in Oz, the magician retires but writes down his discovery in a secret compartment in his magical laboratory. Years later the magician’s son happens upon the secret word, figures out how to use it and escapes his village to do wicked things across the land of Oz. The son, Kiki Aru, joins up with the original Nome King, Ruggedo, who was exiled in Book 3 – Tik-Tok of Oz, to exact revenge on the denizens of The Emerald City, most notably Ozma and Dorothy.  The plan involves tricking the animals of Oz to revolt against the Emerald  City by convincing them that the people of Oz are going to attack and enslave the animals first.

Meanwhile, everyone in Oz is preparing for Ozma’s birthday and Dorothy and like 8 other people travel out into the Oz country side to find Ozma the perfect birthday present.  Yeah, I’m not too thrilled with that part of the story.  Trot and Capt Bill spend most of their time trying to obtain this magical flower that is floating in this island in the middle of a river in the northernmost part of Oz.  Just not very compelling.

However, the scenes with Ruggedo and Kiki Aru convincing the animals to attack the Emerald City are pretty good.  However, while out looking for presents, the Wizard and Dorothy stumble upon the plan and do their best to stop it.  All while Capt Bill and Trot are magically stuck on the island with the magical flower.

Oh, and, spoiler alert, Dorothy and the Wizard train a monkey to jump out of Ozma’s cake and dance.  That is their gift to her.  On  her birthday.

This is an oddly disjointed book.  I liked about half of it.  The rest is sort of silly, but in a bad way.  Normally Baum is able to make the silly parts endearing, but this time, not so much.  I’m not really going to recommend this book, even though we see the return of the original Nome King, one of my favorite Oz characters.  It just seems a little pointless and dull.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of imagination and cool stuff to see, but by the end of the book I was a little disappointed.

Only one more L Frank Baum Oz book would be published after this.

Below is my checklist of Oz books.  I’ve crossed off the ones I’ve currently read.  Next up is the fourteenth and final L Frank Baum Oz book, Glinda of Oz. Oz books checklist

Nerd Lunch Episode 72: Live Action Children’s TV Shows

Posted in podcast, pop culture, TV shows with tags , , , , on February 12, 2013 by Paxton

Nerd Lunch Podcast

Welcome to another fun-ducational episode of the Nerd Lunch podcast. This week we are again Jeeg-less, but we are joined in the 4th chair by Tim Lybarger. Tim is the proprietor of The Neighborhood Archive, your one-stop shop for all things Mr Rogers. Check it out, the site is pretty awesome.

Electric Company
(Via Museum of Funcut Funk)

Tim joins us this week for our topic about live action children’s programming. We talk about PBS and Nickelodeon. We discuss shows like Sesame Street, Electric Company, Double Dare, Kids Incorporated and, of course, Mr Rogers.  Come check it out, I guarantee you we talk about one of your favorites.

Download this episode from iTunes or listen to it on Feedburner.

Or listen to it online right here.