Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Made of Cast Iron

In my continuing quest to read all of the books in L. Frank Baum's "Oz" series (nicely contained here), I recently finished The Marvelous Land of Oz: Being an account of the further adventures of the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman and also the strange experiences of the highly magnified Woggle-Bug, Jack Pumpkinhead, the Animated Saw-Horse and the Gump; the story being A Sequel to The Wizard of Oz (1904), the second in the series.

In this story, Tip, who is an orphan that has been raised by the evil witch Mombi, escapes from her house with his newly enlivened friend, Jack Pumpkinhead. Tip carved Jack out of wood and added a jack-o-lantern head, and then his creation got sprinkled with some magical powder that added the life. Luckily Tip stole the powder from Mombi too when he ran away, allowing him to later bring both a sawhorse and a very odd flying Gump to life.

Tip has various adventures, eventually meeting up with the Scarecrow and the Tin Man (whose real name is Nick Chopper! Nick Chopper!) from the original story. [No one in this story ever mentions the poor Cowardly Lion, which makes me think that these two guys didn't like him very much. The first thing the Scarecrow wants to do is go find his old friend the Tin Man, and they spend some time reminiscing about Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz, but no one ever talks about that lion one time. Poor dude.]

So: after the Wizard of Oz flew away in his balloon, the Scarecrow was made the King of the Emerald City. He liked it okay, but the crown kept pushing down on his head and would kind of squish up his cloth face. One day an army of women led by General Jin-Jur stage a revolution and take over the Emerald City by using knitting needles they keep in their hair as weapons. The women want to rule the city so that they can take all the jewels in the streets and on the buildings and wear them, and so that they don't have to cook and clean anymore. This is the somewhat vain and frivolous woman-army.

After getting some reinforcements, the Tip and the gang come back to the Emerald City to find this:

As they passed the rows of houses they saw through the open doors that men were sweeping and dusting and washing dishes, while the women sat around in groups, gossiping and laughing.

"What has happened?" the Scarecrow asked a sad-looking man with a bushy beard, who wore an apron and was wheeling a baby-carriage along the sidewalk.

"Why, we've had a revolution, your Majesty as you ought to know very well," replied the man; "and since you went away the women have been running things to suit themselves. I'm glad you have decided to come back and restore order, for doing housework and minding the children is wearing out the strength of every man in the Emerald City."

"Hm!" said the Scarecrow, thoughtfully. "If it is such hard work as you say, how did the women manage it so easily?"

"I really do not know" replied the man, with a deep sigh. "Perhaps the women are made of cast iron."

Luckily the gang eventually gets the help of Glinda the good witch (she always saves the day), and her army of strong and nice women are able to recapture the city. After some discussion with Glinda, it is discovered that the Wizard of Oz stole his power from the former King and hid the Princess (and rightful heir) away. The Scarecrow really doesn't want to rule, and he is all for finding the Princess, so Glinda discovers where the Princess Ozma has been hidden and in a gender-twisting ending, returns her to the throne.

Maybe you should just read the whole thing. I think you'll love it.

[Oh, and how could I forget to mention Mr. H. M. Woggle-bug, T. E. -- he is Highly Magnified and Thoroughly Educated, and kind of a pain in the ass, but in a fun way. The poster above is from a musical that Baum wrote featuring the Woggle-bug, which he hoped would be as successful as the musical version of the Wizard of Oz. It flopped, but at least it left behind this awesome drawing.]


Lei-Leen said...

what'd you think of wicked?

kristykay said...

I read it a couple of years ago, and I liked it, but I also think I want to read it again after I get through all the original Oz books. In addition, I want to re-watch 'The Wizard of Oz,' 'Return to Oz,' and 'The Wiz.'

Lei-Leen said...

return to oz scared the bejeesus out of me when it came out. we had to leave the theater. i am anti-flying monkey-with-wheel-hands.