November 28th, 2008

tmbg

Our Wives Want Mink Cars

After a few years of the Johns saying that the next They Might Be Giants album would come out soon, we finally got Mink Car in 2001. Its official release date was on September 11th (although I'd heard it considerably before that), and the record label went bankrupt or something around the time. Not that either of these affects the quality of the album, but they help to indicate that this was a rather ill-fated record. It shows signs of being rather hastily thrown together, which is kind of odd for an album that they had so many years to assemble. I think this was around when they started doing a lot of music for TV, though, and it almost seems like they released an album just to tell people, "Hey, we still put out records!"

As I indicated here (and you could probably have gathered from that opening paragraph), this is my least favorite TMBG studio album. Still, even a relatively bad TMBG album outranks a lot of albums by other bands, and there's a good amount of cool songs on here.

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Kabumpo

Black Choose Day

For Black Friday, let's leave the hectic world of consumerism, and turn to a magical fairyland where they don't use money. Or do they? While money does show up in the first few Oz books, by the time of The Road to Oz, Baum seems to have considered the lack of money to be an important part of his fairyland (perhaps due at least in part to his own financial failures and extravagant vacations). In The Emerald City of Oz, we learn that Oz is basically a communist country that actually works, with all surplus goods being put into Ozma's storehouses, and redistributed to whomever needs them. Money is still used in Jinxland in The Scarecrow of Oz, but that's an out-of-the-way country where Ozma's influence hadn't yet permeated. Ruth Plumly Thompson, on the other hand, did have some parts of Oz still using money, although it was more common for inhabitants of Oz to do a sort of informal bartering. Gold and jewels seem to be valuable for trading, despite the fact that they're usually presented as quite common there. Then again, it's not like our money has any real intrinsic value; it's a way of keeping score. And hey, gold and jewels are pretty, right?

Turning to another author's Oz works, a pre-publication draft of Eloise Jarvis McGraw's The Forbidden Fountain of Oz included a footnote detailing the currency of Oz. This footnote was edited out of the finished book, but I think it's as good a guide as any to Ozian money. And even in this footnote, it's stated that merchants will generally give away anything that someone really wants or needs but can't afford, so the socialist system isn't totally abolished.

If you want to find out more about Ozian money, check out the books at the Public Library of Oz. Or if you don't have the good fortune to live within easy access of the Emerald City, Eric Gjovaag wrote a Baum Bugle article that covers the subject in great detail. I forget which issue it's in, and I believe my Bugle back issues are in storage right now, but I'm sure it wouldn't be too hard to find.
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