September 1st, 2009



  • 06:26 @JaredofMo How do you know they don't come to everyone else's as well? #
  • 06:36 @poisonyoulove I wonder if extroverts are actually lonely MORE often, because they can't function WITHOUT constant interaction. #
  • 11:09 @TheRealTavie They're pretty cool. #
  • 15:12 Where's the shadow government when you need it? #
  • 16:19 @kingsthings Has he been taking advice from Alberto Gonzales? #
  • 16:24</e> @renlong I once had a dream in which Jesus was Batman's sidekick. So I guess that makes Batman bigger than Jesus. #
  • 16:26 @colleenanne Wasn't that a band in the sixties? #
  • 16:29 We at the hotel, motel, Holiday Inn. #
  • 16:52 I'm trying to think of a joke about Disney buying Marvel, but all I can think of is singing Spider-Man's name to the Mickey Mouse Club theme #
  • 17:39 @CGCassimus What about a marshmallow? #
  • 19:04 Now we have to bathe the dogs. #
  • 19:44 Mabel is a regular sponge. #
  • 20:41 @oz_diggs Not nude Oz characters, right? #
  • 20:43 @JaredofMo I vote for beef pot pie. #
  • 21:04 The guy who threw his shoe at Dubya is being released next month. #
  • 22:52
    10 things I love about Rob Zombie's Halloween #
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I don't wonder ANYTHING! Put my show back on!

Okay, it took us a while, but bethje and I have finished checking out the Simpsons Season 11 box set, and watching all of the episodes with commentary. I'm sure I'm not alone in my opinion that this was a weak season overall, despite some high points. But while the season was kind of lousy, the set was put together as well as ever, and they had deleted scenes from pretty much every episode. In his commentary on these scenes, Mike Scully admitted that there were some they should have left in, like the happier ending for "Beyond Blunderdome" and the scene of the alligator's funeral in "Kill the Alligator and Run." As it was, the gator coming out of the courthouse at the end doesn't make much sense without seeing that it had been lying in state earlier on. Of course, that episode doesn't make a whole lot of sense in general, but that scene would have made the ending seem a little less random.

The commentaries were pretty thorough, but I did miss some of the commentators from earlier seasons who didn't contribute much to this one. It was kind of a special treat when Matt Groening or Al Jean would actually show up for a commentary. And are Beth and I the only ones who find Ian Maxtone-Graham's laugh annoying? The staff did mention when episodes were unpopular or controversial among fans. The excuse they used for the jockey elves in "Saddlesore Galactica" was basically that other shows also had wacky ideas like that, which I'm not sure really holds up. I was kind of surprised that Groening didn't mind the trolls, even though he'd complained about unrealistic moments in other episodes. Oh, well. It was a bad episode, but it was an isolated bad episode that didn't disregard character continuity like "The Principal and the Pauper" or "Viva Ned Flanders." It's not like the jockeys became recurring characters on the show.

It is weird that these episodes are almost ten years old now and the show is still on the air, when back then I was kind of surprised that they were even going to make an eleventh season. I have to wonder what would have happened if they had ended the show back around the tenth season or so. Would it be even more famous for having gone out in a blaze of glory, or would the public have largely forgotten it by now?

Oh, and this is unrelated, but I think this is a good example of the first item I addressed yesterday. People who claim to take the Bible entirely literally (which they really don't, of course, but that's another issue) assume everyone else is just as dogmatic as they are, so evolution MUST be a competing religion. Good thing Dorothy got out of Kansas before this nonsense started. {g}

Shoemaker, Magic-Maker, Troublemaker

Today we focus on a foe in the Oz series, namely Ugu the Shoemaker, a former resident of the city of Herku. He worked there as...well, you can probably figure that out from his name. But he was unhappy and restless in this position, and he knew that his ancestors were magicians, dating back to a figure whom Vig identifies as "the greatest wizard and sorcerer who has ever lived--in this or any other country." We're never told the identity of this wizard, but it might make for an interesting story. Anyway, when Ugu discovered the books of his ancestors, which had been hidden in his house by his father when he left Herku in Ugu's youth, he immersed himself in the study of magic. His goal was to become the greatest magician in Oz, and its ruler besides. In his attempt to achieve this, he stole all of the most powerful magic in the country, aside from the Magic Belt, which wasn't mentioned in his books. (L. Frank Baum's explanation for this is that the Belt came from outside Oz, which is true, but it's been in Oz pretty much as long as some of the things Ugu DID steal.) The shoemaker-turned-magician also kidnapped and enchanted Ozma herself, and the plot of The Lost Princess of Oz involves Glinda sending out search parties to look for the missing ruler and magic items. It's Dorothy and the Wizard's party that locates Ugu in his wickerwork castle, and Dorothy uses the Belt to turn him into a dove. At the end of the book, Ugu apologizes to Dorothy for his misdeeds, and admits that he prefers being a bird.

That's the last we see of Ugu in the Famous Forty, but he's been pretty cleverly used in some later stories. Phyllis Ann Karr's Gardener's Boy has the former shoemaker, still in the form of a dove, helping the former Queen of Jinxland in her well-intentioned but illegal magical attempts to find her lost husband King Kynd. Ugu also has a major role in Time Travelers, which sees him accompanying Ojo and Button-Bright back in time [1] in a misguided attempt to stop himself from turning to villainy in the first place. He regains his human form for a while within the course of the tale, but he ends up as a gray dog. Jay Delkin's Oziana story called "The Mystery of the Missing Ozma" puts forth the unlikely and amusing premise that Ugu had a twin brother, also named Ugu, whose mode of operations was almost identical to his brother's, except his castle was made of grass instead of wicker. I'd actually like to do something expanding on some of these ideas, but even though Ugu himself is in the public domain, these stories are not.

[1] Button-Bright is a popular choice of character for Oz time travel tales, featuring in this story, Atticus Gannaway's Wonderful Journey, and Jeremy Steadman's Emerald Ring. I guess his habit of getting lost makes him an obvious candidate for being misplaced in time as well as space.