Friday, November 26, 2010

Day 260/365 Are you a Good Witch... or A Bad Witch?

While everyone else is Black-Fridaying....I'm enjoying my traditional Thanksgiving viewing of the Wizard of Oz. People that know me from waaaaaaayback know what a peculiar little Wizard of Oz freak I am.

Starting with the early 1960s with Danny Kaye introducing the Easter showing on CBS, I was an Oz fanatic.

Fanatic - as in - I know almost every single line of dialogue for every character. I've read every interview and every behind-the-scenes book there is (the flying witch who scrawls SURRENDER DOROTHY is actually a tiny wooden silhouette, glued to the end of a pen, and then handheld in a glass pan of soapy water, and photographed from below, as the holder wrote out those infamous words).

I've read every one of the original books (there are 14 by L. Frank Baum, 26 additional by other authors, and hundreds of twists on the Oz idea). Once I almost got my hands on a first edition complete set, but had trouble scraping up the $100 (I was a broke college student at the time.) Now that set is worth thousands.

As that same college student I was a card-carrying member of the International Wizard of Oz club and spent more than a few hours writing letters (yes,letters) arguing Oz political philosophy (and yes, there is a political philosophy behind Oz - mostly socialist).

I remember the day I reached into my post office box and pulled out an hand-written letter from Margaret Hamilton, along with an autographed 8x10 of the Wicked Witch. Still have it.

And there was also the legendary 1972 theater release of the film, and the marathon 24 hour showing at my favorite Baton Rouge movie palace....the Wizard of Oz runs 103 minutes....this means with a short intermission between each showing, an addict can easily watch 12 complete showings, or 36 on a long three day weekend. Especially with a blanket, a couple pillows and huge bags of popcorn brought from home.

Outside of this odd obsession of mine, I can easily trace the influences on my life directly to Dorothy's feet....

How to get through life? Follow the yellow brick road...

Just like other little girls, I had a short-lived dream of becoming a ballerina. Not so I could dance onstage, but so I could go to Oz and join the Lullabye League....

When I was very young, I was convinced my hometown of New Orleans was the Emerald City.

Probably because I mixed this scene up with Mardi Gras and the Krewe of Rex - it does resemble a parade float...

About the same time I was taking riding lessons. I drove the teacher crazy asking her if I could ride the horse of a different color. For some reason, she kept giving me the brown one.

Should I admit how many hours I spent clicking my heels together and muttering under my breath? I know for a fact this didn't work only because my parents were good Southern Baptists and refused to buy their 9 year old daughter red sequined shoes. Otherwise, I know it would have worked.

Even later in college, Dorothy led me down more than a few paths with mystical leanings.Complete with snow.

When I graduated and received my degree, I remembered the scarecrow and his Doctorate of Thinkology. About that same time, I had occasion to remember the Tin Woodman and his heart that could not be broken. I was never that lucky.

Oz never deserted me, even as a parent. What mom hasn't uttered that immortal line: DO NOT MAKE ME COME IN THERE AND BRING THE FLYING MONKEYS!

Of course the movie had to conform with the 1939 Hayes Motion Picture Code. And that code demanded that the Oz fantasy be re-written so that children would clearly understand it was only a dream.

But see, I read the original books. And it never was a dream.

Just pure undiluted magic.

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