O = Oz (A-Z Challenge)

Time for honesty (if anyone cares, which I doubt): I was going to do octopus and outline how they are very intelligent, use tools, are the escape artists of the sea, how they change colors, how all of them are venomous (most only mildly), and cap it off with how one should never say “octopi” because that’s just wrong. But…well, this would be the end of the entry. Bye!

However, it’s Saturday, few people read my sheeit on weekends (*ahem* my Stephen King’s It entry for last week *coughcough*), and a friend and I are in the middle of an Alien marathon (in honor of H.R. Giger’s recent passing and because my friend has somehow managed to call himself a geek without ever seeing Aliens. Lunacy, right?). We are behind schedule and plan to have White Russians during the next movie (think about it and tell me that isn’t gross and awesome at the same time), so trying to be witty and talk about research I have already done would have only devolved into flinging random ideas at my laptop concerning octopus-inspired fantasy creatures.

Instead, I will talk about my love for the land of Oz, and if one person points out an imaginary correlation between homosexuality and loving the Oz books, I swear to the gods, I will have them tased into incontinence. Where was I? Oh, yeah. On my way to Oz.

Oz is surprisingly open as to how you get there — no need for a fancy wardrobe or a train station for Oz. You could get there by cyclone (so, Oz is Heaven? I’m not sure how that would wor…oh! Magic. Got it, love it, moving on.) Uh, you can get to Oz by cyclone, earthquake, flood, a pair of used shoes, taking the wrong path, or a mirror, just to name a few. That was, of course, until Oz shut its borders in The Emerald City of Oz after Dorothy came to live for good and the borders to Oz were closed. A few random people stumbled in after that, but not as many.

Oz was fun, whimsical, and in some ways way ahead of its time. Did you know that it featured a transsexual? No, I’m not kidding. The second book was Land of Oz and was about Tip, a young boy who was the servant of Mombi the witch. She went out to bilk some magician out of his Powder of Life when the mischevious little Tip built a pumpkinhead, naming him Jack. (Yes, he was the inspiration for the evil pumpkinheads in my recently released version of The Snow Queen.) Mombi came back, got pissed at Jack Pumpkinhead who was put in the way to scare her, and decided to use her Powder of Life to see if it worked. She sprinkled it on Jack, said something line “Weaugh, Teaugh, Peaugh!” and Jack came to life.

Tip stole the Powder of Life, grabbed Jack Pumpkinhead, and took off. He ran into other inanimate objects he brought to life eventually coming to the Emerald City where he and his friends stopped an all-female army’s invasion (their weapons were knitting needles. It was like a step forward for women’s equality in literature and then a punch to the jaw…with a penis.)

Where does the tranny come in? *spoiler for a 100 year old book!* You see, Tip was really Ozma, the empress of Oz. Ozma was kidnapped by the Wizard, that kindly old humbug, and handed over to Mombi, who changed Ozma into a boy named Tip. After the female army was thwarted, Glinda came down like the god from the machine and told this sordid tale of kidnapping, secrecy, attempted regicide, and transformation. Makes you look at the Wizard a little differently, doesn’t it? Glinda told Tip that he/she was the rightful child heir of Oz and offered to change him into his/her original sex. Tip agrees, as long as it doesn’t hurt (!), and Glinda changes Tip to Ozma. She is immediately basically a fairy princess, full of feminine grace, charm, and beauty. Gone is the mischievous boy who stole magic powder, journeyed across Oz, stopped an army, and saved the day. Now he/she was a pretty thing to be feminine and have magic.

So, considering that The Wizard of Oz was written or published in the year 1900, the series was progressive and antiquated all at the same time. The books are not all so…special. They are good, honest, magical fun. There are the ones by L. Frank Baum and about a billion by others. There are amazing characters: Jack Pumpkinhead, the China Dolls, the Sawhorse, the Glass Cat, and (one of the best) the Patchwork Girl.

I remember getting a bowl of hot water, stealing my mother’s scented powers, adding glitter (for flair, duh), mixing them all together, letting the concoction settle, pouring out the water, and scraping the concoction into another powder form in attempt to make my own Powder of Life. Aside from thinking she was losing her mind and powdering everything in sight, my mother probably heard me around the house trying to bring my toys to life…or the couch…or my bed…or anything that could get my little ass to Oz. I can imagine her thinking, “What the fuck is he chanting? What is wrong with my child? I don’t think I can afford a therapist.”

If you decide to get them and relive your childhood or to entertain yourself, spend like a dollar each on the Kindle versions published by Eltanin. The artwork for this series is crucial and gorgeous, but doesn’t translate well to Kindle unless the publisher tries. The books in the public domain don’t feature the pictures. Eltanin, in my opinion, did the transfer better than any other publisher. Also, the Wizard of Oz had a different illustrator. All the other Baum books had another illustrator who, in my opinion, was much better. Try them. They are, despite the above themes I mentioned, very much fun books for children and adults.

And, if you haven’t seen it, try watching Return to Oz featuring Fairuza Balk. This is the movie they made from the second and third books, Land of Oz and Ozma of Oz (without the tranny theme to it). It’s darker than you would expect. Mombi in the movie was not the one from the book, but she was another character from the books with all the terror of her many heads. The Wheelers? FUCK the Wheelers. They scared the hell out of me when I was a kid.

It’s awesome. Would I go to Oz right now if I could? Hell yes. I would push that stocky farm girl Dorothy out of her floating house and take my little ass to Oz. I just hope that Elphaba from the Wicked books would be there. That fairy land would never be the same…

Alternate letter considerations: Octopus, Orca.

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~ by Darren Endymion on May 17, 2014.

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