Archive for pop culture

Dorothy Must Die Stories Volume 1 (2014) by Danielle Paige

Posted in books, Classic literature with tags , , , , on February 16, 2017 by Paxton

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A week or two ago I reviewed Danielle Paige’s Dorothy Must Die. It’s the first in a series of books that take place several years after the original Wizard of Oz book by Frank Baum.  It reimagines Oz as a place in serious peril where Dorothy has returned but she’s changed.  She’s become obsessed with magic and has essentially usurped Ozma as the ruler and with the help of Glinda starts literally strip mining Oz for magic.  It’s an interesting enough premise and the author really digs in and reuses characters from the books in very interesting ways that made me want to continue the journey into this Oz.

Aside from the main books in the series, Paige has written a series of novellas that act as prequels to the books.  I went to my local library and I found the very first collection of novellas called Dorothy Must Die Stories Volume 1.

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This book contains the first three prequel novellas; No Place Like Oz, The Witch Must Burn and The Wizard Returns.  I didn’t really know anything other than the titles going into these but I was intrigued. Mostly by The Wizard Returns since that character is very cagey in Dorothy Must Die so I was very interested to hear how The Wizard got back to this particular Oz and what his agenda may be.

No Place Like Oz
The first novella, No Place Like Oz, is very Dorothy-centric.  It’s also the longest one by about 100 pages.  It picks up with Dorothy a few years after her original return to Kansas from Oz.  It’s her sixteenth birthday party.  We see that Dorothy is sort of unhappy as many people think she’s crazy with her ramblings about a fairy magic land with talking lions and people made of tin.  Even some of her friends don’t believe her.  Plus, Dorothy is finding out that life on the farm in rural Kansas is not as exciting as it was in Oz.  Once you’ve encountered magic, nothing else can really live up to it.  So we see this Dorothy, who’s become a little bitter because no one believes her about Oz, even her friends.  Plus she sort of enjoyed the fame that her disappearance caused in Kansas and once that started to fade she began resenting her life there.  After her birthday party ends embarrassingly bad, Dorothy shuts herself up into her room and opens a mysterious gift to find a pair of red, high heeled ruby shoes.  She puts them on, clicks them together just as Aunt Em and Uncle Henry walk into her room and transports all three of them to Oz.

This is the gist of the story.  Dorothy is back in Oz, this time with Em and Henry. She meets Ozma and reunites with her old friends.  And being back in Oz, instead of making her happier, starts to enhance some of her feelings.  You see her obsession with magic really take hold.  It’s a really good story.  I feel like Paige made the reason that Dorothy sort of turns bad believable.  It’s not a 180 with no explanation.  It makes a bit of sense.  And you get to see the setup for Dorothy as we find her in Dorothy Must Die.

The Witch Must Burn
The next story, The Witch Must Burn, is told from the point of view of Jellia Jamb, the head house maid in the Emerald City.  She plays a fairly big (and ultimately important) part in Dorothy Must Die.  And Jellia’s story here is really a vessel to tell the story of Glinda and her possible future plans for Oz.  You also get to see a bit of just how horrible Dorothy has become, but it all leads to Glinda “borrowing” Jellia from Dorothy and what happens to Jellia because of this.  I was not expecting this story but it was a good read.

The Wizard Returns
Like I said, the third and final story is really the one I was most interested in.  The Wizard Returns starts off with the Wizard leaving Dorothy at the end of the original Wizard of Oz.  The hot air balloon he’s in crashes and we see him land in the very same poppy field that Dorothy was trapped in.  Fast forward twenty five years and The Wizard is awoken and he has no memory of himself or his past actions.  This particular story started off a bit slow, but the back half really saved it.  You still don’t really 100% know The Wizard’s agenda by the end, but you know what happened to him before the events in Dorothy Must Die.

All three of these stories are honestly good and do a great job of setting up the world we see in Dorothy Must Die.  However, I thought my favorite story was going to be The Wizard Returns, but honestly, I think it turns out being No Place Like Oz.  I’m glad I read this collection.  There is another set of prequel novellas that take place after this.  They are about Dorothy’s friends; Heart of Tin, The Straw King and Ruler of Beasts.  However, I’ll probably get the full sequel novel The Wicked Will Rise and read it before delving back into these prequel novellas.

I guess the ultimate question with these prequel novellas is, should you read them before or after you’ve read Dorothy Must Die.  It could go either way but I’d recommend reading them after DMD.  They fill in the world of the books and I feel like you may want the basis of the full novel first before the novellas.  But I think if you did the prequels first and then DMD, it would honestly still work.

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A review of Dot and Tot of Merryland (1901) by L Frank Baum

Posted in books, Frank Baum, reviews with tags , , , , , on December 8, 2016 by Paxton

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It’s been a while since I’ve done a Baum review, so let’s do this.

The illustrator of the first Oz book was WW Denslow.  If you recall, he illustrated only the very first Oz book before John Neill took over in book two and illustrated over 30 Oz books in his career.  Denslow and Baum had a falling out in 1902 over royalties from the first Wizard of Oz musical.  However, before that happened, Denslow had also illustrated Baum’s books By the Candelabra Glare, Father Goose: His Book and another children’s fantasy story called Dot and Tot of Merryland.

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Dot and Tot of Merryland was published in 1901, the very next year after The Wonderful Wizard of Oz although it was actually written around the same time.  As I mentioned, the book is a children’s fantasy book written in the same style as Wizard.  Child protagonists visit a magical fairy land and must find their way back home when they become trapped there.

Yes, that sounds awfully familiar but it’s Baum style, it’s straight up in his wheelhouse.  He managed to make this concept work for like four or five of his Oz books, so I’m not too worried he’ll make it work here.

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The story begins with Dot who is a bit of a sickly child. She’s sent to live in her father’s palatial mansion in the outskirts of town. While there she has the run of the estate. She starts playing with the gardener’s little boy, Tot. They are having a picnic out by the stream that runs through the back yard and they are swept away in a rowboat which takes them through a tunnel in the mountains where they emerge in a fairy land called Merryland.  They meet a crazy cast of characters including a guy with long whiskers called the “Watchdog” that oversees the entrance to Merryland and they meet the ruler of the land who is a walking, talking wax doll.  Dot and Tot are adopted by the queen and go with her to tour the seven valleys of Merryland.

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AWESOME-tober-fest 2016: Fangoria #182 (1999) – Mummy Mania issue

Posted in Genres, Halloween, holiday, horror, movies, pop culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 21, 2016 by Paxton

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Time to dip down into my stack of old Fangoria magazines to see if there are any cool mummy issues.

Oh look!  Found one.

Check out Fangoria #182 from May 1999. It’s the Mummy Mania issue with a cover story about the new Stephen Sommers directed The Mummy remake.

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The issue features lots of other mummy based articles.  The one I want to look at today, though, is an in-depth blow by blow of the history of the mummy in cinema. It’s called “Show Me the Mummy”.

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It’s a more straight forward historical account of the birth and proliferation of mummy movies than that Starlog invisible man article from last year that tried to write the history of the invisible man in popular culture into a weird, narrative story that presumes invisibility actually exists.  Essentially turning movies and TV shows with invisible people into “historical documents”.  This article, is a nicely researched account that doesn’t just list out mummy movies but gives some background info into some of the bigger releases.

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Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

AWESOME-tober-fest 2016: I Love Mummy (2002)

Posted in Halloween, holiday, monsters, mummy, nostalgia, pop culture, TV shows with tags , , , , , , , , on October 20, 2016 by Paxton

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Okay, I went back and forth on several mummy TV shows to feature today, but I think I found a good one. And by “good one”, I mean it’s terrible. Let’s check out I Love Mummy, a UK-Canadian production from 2002.

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A family inherits an old house which inexplicable contains the sarcophagus of a 3000 year old Egyptian prince in the attic.

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The young son unwittingly opens the sarcophagus and out pops the wrapped up prince.  And a chase around the kitchen table ensues.

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After lots of screaming and the aforementioned chase around the kitchen table, we find out the prince is sort of a spoiled royal brat. We even flashback to ancient Egypt to see proof of his bratty behavior.

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After he died while surfing down the exterior of the Sphinx, he became stuck in purgatory. He’ll have to stay stuck in purgatory until he completes a list (on a scroll, of course) of things he has to learn on his own.  I wonder if this is where the idea for My Name is Earl came from.

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Obviously the family is reluctant to take this responsibility on, but the young son has become “attached”. So he doofuses his way into making the family “keep” the undead pharaoh. Because, let’s not forget, he is undead.

The show is, in a word, awful. I didn’t expect any better, to be honest. But there are two things that make this show interesting.  First, the daughter, Stephy, played by Kelly Turner, is crazy hot.

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Second, the mummy, Nuff, is played by Elyes Gabel. You may not recognize that name, but he’s currently the star of that CBS show, Scorpion.

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And after seeing both shows, I don’t think there’s that much a difference in quality between the two.


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Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

AWESOME-tober-fest 2016: Asher Cobb from The Sixth Gun

Posted in comic books, Genres, Halloween, holiday, horror, monsters, mummy, pop culture, Western with tags , , , , , , , , on October 19, 2016 by Paxton

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Today I’m going to talk about a specific mummy character from one of my favorite comic series, The Sixth Gun, by Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt.
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The comic is a horror western about six cursed pistols and the battle between good and evil to possess the guns and prevent them from destroying and remaking the world. There’s so much stuff running through this comic like gunfighters, undead Civil War generals, dark swamp gods, skinwalkers, black magic, ghosts and a 9 foot tall mummy. It really is worth a read and I can’t recommend it enough. The series as a whole ended this year with issue #50 and I recently did a re-read of the entire series from Book 1 up to the final issue and I loved every bit of it.  The comic really gets deep into its own mythology and I really liked how it ended.

Anyway, the part of this comic I want to discuss today is the aforementioned 9 foot tall mummy. His name is Asher Cobb.

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Asher first shows up in the series in the collected edition Book 3: Bound.  Specifically in the final page of issue #12.

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He shows up out of nowhere and steals the coffin containing the undead corpse of the evil General Hume.  He fights spectacularly for the next issue and a half.  Then, in issue #14, we finally get his origin as told to us by an old carnie.

Asher Cobb was born deformed. He was oversized, which made him an outcast.  To add to that, he also received visions.  Visions of the future.  He was befriended only by a nice girl named Ruth who he fell in love with.  One day he received a terrible vision of Ruth’s death.  So to prevent the death of the girl he loved, he sought out some old witches and made a devil’s bargain to cheat death.  But to do that, he had to endure death.

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Unfortunately Asher was not able to prevent Ruth’s death so he is constantly wandering, driven crazy by his unnaturally long life and the knowledge that he couldn’t prevent Ruth’s death.  He is at first used by the forces of evil as a tool, but Asher would show up much later helping out the good guys and hoping that whomever acquired the guns and remade the world, would also bring back his beloved Ruth.

Asher is a pretty great character, both in the story but also visually.  He is super strong, gets visions of the future and just looks awesome.  He’s just one of the reasons I love this comic.


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Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

AWESOME-tober-fest 2016: Out of the Aeons (1935) – HP Lovecraft and Hazel Heald

Posted in Halloween, holiday, monsters, mummy, pop culture with tags , , , , , , , , on October 13, 2016 by Paxton

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There were five stories written by a Massachusetts writer named Hazel Heald which were revised by HP Lovecraft and published. I’ll talk about one of those stories today.

The story is called Out of the Aeons and it was published in the April 1935 issue of Weird Tales magazine.

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Like the Doyle story The Ring of Thoth, this story isn’t a typical “mummy story”. It begins with the discovery of a mysterious mummy on a mysterious island that mysteriously appeared in the middle of the ocean and then mysteriously disappeared soon after its discovery.

The story is written as a letter of final confession for the curator of the Cabot Museum in Boston.  The letter explains that some unbelievable and terrifying events have sprung up around the mummy and this letter he’s writing is to set down on record what actually happened as museum officials have essentially “white washed” the majority of the story with the press.

Much of the story is the curator delving into the history of the mummy.  It’s a fairly interesting and creepy sort of legend that has been culled from several banned tomes like “The Black Book” and the “Necronomicon”.  About half the story is catching the reader up to what the mummy could possibly be.  The back half of the story is essentially what happens to the mummy in the museum when the story gets out and the exhibit becomes popular.  All the nutzos come out and the situation escalates to a creepy and horrific end.

I enjoyed this short story.  I think I liked it even better than the previous Lovecraft stories I read, Herbert West, Re-animator and From Beyond.  I really need to delve into some of the Cthulhu stories.  Lovecraft’s writings have sort of the “creeping dread” atmosphere that keeps you on the edge of your seat feeling like something just isn’t “right”.  Very effective.

A few tidbits of Lovecraftian mythos make appearances in this story.  One of the characters who briefly visits the mummy is awesomely named Swami Chandraputra, which is a known alias for Randolph Carter, one of Lovecraft’s recurring characters.  There are several Dark Gods listed in this story, two of them being previously mentioned as a part of Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos.  Lastly, the previous curator of the museum who actually discovers the mummy is named Pickman and shares this name with the painter in Lovecraft’s story Pickman’s Model.


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Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

AWESOME-tober-fest 2016: Scooby-Doo and a Mummy Too! (1969)

Posted in Genres, Halloween, holiday, horror, movies, pop culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 11, 2016 by Paxton

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During the very first season of Scooby Doo Where Are You!, the gang met up with a mummy.  It was in episode 12 which aired in late 1969 and it was called Scooby-Doo and a Mummy, Too!
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As most Scooby-Doo episodes are, this is a pretty fun little episode with all the regular Scooby tropes you’d expect.

The show starts off with the gang at the local college’s Department of Archaeology. They are unveiling a new mummy exhibit and the gang has offered to help set up.
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The gang is talking to “The Professor”, who is the white bread dude in the middle.  I have to assume “The Professor” is his name as he’s never called anything else.  Next to “The Professor” is…

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Dr Najib who, I presume, is the Egyptian expert.  I have to presume because the show never directly says just who he is.  The show also implies that he actually found the mummy, who is identified as “the mummy of Ankha” at first then as just “Ankha” later.  With Najib’s ascot and red fez I believe they’re trying to invoke Boris Karloff in Universal’s The Mummy.

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This is Scooby Doo so we get Shaggy and Scooby eating food that’s inedible for normal humans. For example, this is a liver a la mode sandwich. With an olive garnish. Classy.

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The mummy eventually disappears from his sarcophagus and the gang begin pursuit. They almost catch the mummy but he escapes through the museum’s glass door leaving only a mummy shapped outline in the glass. I love that this is how glass works in Scooby-Doo Land.

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Here’s the mummy stalking the gang all mummy-like. Scooby actually picks a fight with him and changes into his Hong Kong Phooey outfit to do battle. Scoob’s a black belt?!

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While being chased by the mummy, Velma has time to go to the lab and carbon date a piece of the mummy’s rags in order to reveal a clue to the mystery.

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Scooby and Shaggy, on the run from the mummy, duck into an old tool shed. Shaggy doesn’t hear the mummy in pursuit so he opens the door to see if he’s still there and sees that the mummy has started to BRICK UP THE ENTRANCE TO THE SHED. Did he mix his own cement? Surely already mixed cement wasn’t just lying around?  I love that he’s holding a spade too. Amazing.

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The mummy chases the gang around the museum and eventually gets thrown up into the basketball hoop where Fred climbs up on a ladder and unmasks him. Scoob celebrates by finding the actual mummy hiding in some bushes.  And the actual mummy looks a lot like the Boris Karloff wrapped mummy (see my AWESOME-tober-fest banner).

That’s the episode.  Like I said, it’s a pretty fun episode.


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Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.