Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Good-bye, Yellow Brick Road

For more than four years now Emerald City Radio has been bringing you Oz music twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

But no more.



How the story of Emerald City Radio came to an end:

Live365, the internet radio website that hosts Emerald City Radio and hundreds of other internet radio stations of all varieties, is being forced to shut down at the end of January 2016.

The broadcasters that Live365 hosts are largely not radio professionals. They tend to be people who simply want to share their taste in music with the world. For awhile the internet made that possible at a reasonable cost. Each broadcaster pays a small yearly fee to Live365 for the ability to broadcast their chosen programming. Live365 in turn tracks and pays royalties for all proprietary music broadcast by the hundreds of stations they host.

At the end of 2015 provisions for small webcasting were not renewed by the US Copyright Royalty Board. These provisions had allowed small to mid-sized internet broadcasters to pay lower royalty rates. As of 2016 these rates have increased to such an extent that most of these broadcasters will find them prohibitively expensive.

As a result, Live365 will cease broadcasting at the end of January 2016. Unless an alternative presents itself, the majority of the stations that Live365 brought to the world will cease to exist.

Including Emerald City Radio.

So if you want to get your fill of the widest variety of Oz music on the internet, you have a few days remaining to tune in. It's free and easy to listen to Emerald City Radio on Live365. Just go to the Live365 website and register your account for free. Here's the link. Click the magnifiying glass on the upper right of the Live365 home page, search for Emerald City Radio (or any other genre of music you're interested in), and start listening. But hurry, you have less than a week left.

It's been an enjoyable four years collecting and broadcasting Oz music from the sublime to the ridiculous, conducting radio interviews, and figuring out how long a playlist we could fit into the space Live365 allotted to Emerald City Radio (more than fourteen hours!). If you've been a listener, thank you. We hope you've enjoyed it.

Farewell.

Monday, January 18, 2016

The Boy in the Robot Suit

 

Well, here's a treat! I had known for many years that the performer inside Tik-Tok in Disney's Return to Oz was an adorably cute guy named Michael Sundin. I also knew that Michael died of AIDS in 1989. He was only twenty-eight.


It was quite a job being strapped into the Tik-Tok costume. Sundin had to fold himself in half, curled up inside Tik-Tok's spherical body. He then had to walk backwards to make Tik-Tok move forward. Sundin's only view of where he was going was a small video monitor.


I had later discovered that Michael Sundin was also connected with a BBC children's television show called Blue Peter. This info has been rattling around in my brain for years and I had never thought to look up the show online . . . until now! And what a nice few treats I found!

First up is an episode of Blue Peter from 1985. And what do you know, it's an Oz episode! Sundin, delightfully cute in a Christmas sweater and yellow slacks, introduces a group of seven kids who have put together a Wizard of Oz dance - performed to the Meco disco album! After the dance Sundin talks to them about their costumes and tells a bit about his time on Return to Oz. Followed by a segment on the cut "Jitterbug" number from the MGM film, complete with Harold Arlen's 1939 home movies. Have a look!



And I can't resist sharing one more sample. Michael Sundin's Blue Peter interview with Elton John. Michael begins the interview climbing out of Elton John's swimming pool wearing a Speedo! What more need be said!





Friday, January 8, 2016

The Wicked Witch does Sondheim

I always find it interesting when my various passions intersect. Such things always pack a little extra fun or satisfaction, despite the difficulties in deciding which collection the thing goes into. The latest cross-pollination is between my Oz collection and my Stephen Sondheim collection.

I have been a Sondheim fan since my early teens. My first exposure to Sondheim was the 1977 film version of A Little Night Music. It is a flawed film, but no where near as awful as legend states. Anyway back to today's blog - I just got a copy of the lovely souvenir program from the National tour of the original Broadway production of the show.

A Little Night Music Souvenir program featuring Boris Aronson's set design.

The handsome program is large and packed with photographs. The Oz connection is that Margaret Hamilton played Madame Armfeldt. It was her final stage role. The tour began February 26, 1974 in Philadelphia and closed February 15, 1975 in Boston.

Incidentally, Hamilton was performing in the tour of Night Music in Los Angeles when she was interviewed by Aljean Harmetz for The Making of The Wizard of Oz (1977).

Madame Armfeldt is an aged demimondaine, a high-end courtesan, (now retired). If you've seen the film Gigi, it was the "occupation" Gigi was being groomed for: a cultured, educated, and lovely woman who would be "kept" in style by an upper-class gentleman - for,.  uhm . . . "favors."

I'm not going to go into the whole plot of A Little Night Music, but you sort of need to know at least that much to understand the song Hamilton sings in the sound clip below.

This is Margaret Hamilton's solo in the show, a song called "Liaisons," in which she recounts her triumphs and losses in love and luxury - and the seeming decline of style, culture, and civilization.



On the one hand, Margaret Hamilton may seem an odd choice for a musical. She does not have a beautiful voice. And in this song she shifts between speaking and singing. But it's a great performance nonetheless. Hamilton did play in at at least two other musicals over the years: as Aunt Eller in Oklahoma! and as Parthy Ann Hawks in Showboat - neither big singing parts.

Below are a few more photos of Hamilton in A Little Night Music.






Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Christmas Cards - Have a Cool Yule!

I've previously blogged about several examples of holiday cards drawn by the creators of the Oz series. Eloise Jarvis McGraw was known to engrave wood-blocks to print her own Holiday cards (click here). And Eric Shanower drew his own Christmas cards for many years. Here's one of my favorites featuring Percy the Personality Kid. Bill Campbell of the Oz Collector blog recently shared a great collection of John R. Neill's personal Christmas greetings.

Here is a Christmas card drawn by Oz illustrator Dick Martin. It is a commercially produced card designed by Martin in the mid-1950s. Dick created dozens of different greeting cards back then. Many delighted in '50s kitsch, such as this trumpet playing cat lounging in a bowl chair. The front of the card gives little indication this is, in fact, a Christmas card. But as you'll see from the inner spread, it is!

As this cat says, "Have a cool Yule . . . and a real crazy new Year!"


Sunday, December 20, 2015

Cheese!

In 1980 I won the Munchkin Convention's Oz quiz. The quiz had been prepared by John Bell. Both of us were in our mid-teens. This was the first time I won a convention quiz and I was eagerly looking forward to the glory that came attached to such a win. And I had much anticipation for the Ozzy prize that was sure to come with it.

At my first Oz convention a few years earlier, the quiz prize had been a first edition of The Giant Horse of Oz, and I had gotten it into my head that quiz prizes should be substantive. Well, my prize for winning the Munchkin Quiz was a small cheese board, hand-made by John Bell himself. In all likelihood it had been made in John's high school "wood shop" class. It came with this "Certificate of Authenticity."


At the time, I was a bit disappointed in the little cheese board. Perhaps, John, too, thought it was a trifle too little as he augmented the cheese board with an inexpensive Whitman edition of The Wizard of Oz, which he had autographed by Margaret Hamilton, who was the special guest of the Munchkin Convention.

Margaret Hamilton's "Congratulations!" on winning the quiz.

Now, in hindsight a copy of The Wizard of Oz signed by the Wicked Witch of the West sounds very nice, but at the time she was in the same room with me and I'd just had lunch with her and had her sign several other books I'd brought with me.

But over the years this once disappointingly cheesy prize has come to mean much more to me than some book or Ozian collectible would have. John and I are still friends and blogging colleagues. (John writes the Oz and Ends blog as well as the American Revolution blog Boston 1775.) And now, thirty-five years later, I really enjoy knowing that John made that stupid little cheese board for me back when we were both teenagers. And you know, for decades now it's actually been really useful for serving cheese!


[Update] You can read John's version of the story by clicking here!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Blog 500! Happy Holidays!

Well, this is my 500th blog post here. For those that are curious about such things Hungry Tiger Talk has had 239,939 page views and received 1211 comments. To celebrate here is a charming Christmas advertisement from the Indianapolis Journal, December 15, 1902.

Click to enlarge.

This fine advertisement of good books for the holidays back in 1902 promotes two of L. Frank Baum's titles, describing The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus as "a book for which all the little ones have been waiting for generations and generations." The page also advertises Baum's The Master Key saying, "Never was a better story written for boys . . . This prince of story tellers has related a story of adventure so filled with wonders that rare will be the boy who does not find it fascinating."And while Life and Adventures is shown on the Christmas tree above three times, The Master Key isn't shown at all. If you click on the image above you can explore the image in detail.

We have another holiday treat for you over on our sister blog Hungry Tiger Tales, where we present Christmas with the Prince, a Pumperdink story by Ruth Plumly Thompson first published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, December 21, 1919. Another fun read on the blog is Jack Snow's holiday story, The Animal's Christmas Tree which you can read by clicking here.

And finally, go check out our internet radio station, Emerald City Radio which has been nicely spiced up with some Ozzy Christmas listening including a selection of Christmas carols sung by Stephanie Mills, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" sung by Judy Garland, and "Toyland" which was first sung by Bessie Wynn in Victor Herbert's Babes in Toyland. Bessie, of course, created the part of Sir Dashemoff Daily in the 1903 Wizard of Oz just before she created the part of TomTom in Babes in Toyland. Click here to listen  or simply click the "play" arrow in the Emerald City Radio window at the top of the right hand column in this blog.


This blog has been a lot of fun to wrote over the past five years, and I am glad to be posting regularly again. Several blog sequences have proved to be very popular, such as Map of Oz Monday, White Edition Wednesday, and the amusingly critical reviews of the preposterous Bradford Exchange reprints of the Baum Oz books. And there's lots of other cool stuff in these 500 various posts - go explore for a bit!

Happy Holidays from Hungry Tiger Press!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Christmas Snow!



I think maybe it's time for a holiday-oriented blog post!

Back in the late 1920s Jack Snow wrote a weekly radio column called "Cruising the Air Channels" for the Piqua Daily Call in Piqua, Ohio. Incidentally, for years I mispronounced the name of this small Ohio town. It's actually pronounced "Pick-way."

Below you will find excerpts from two different columns, both from December 1928. I'm not quite sure why Snow found this issue of multiple Santa's on the air waves so troublesome. To me, it seems no more problematic than the usual logic issues of how Santa gets to all the various houses to deliver all those toys from one sleigh in one night.

But it's still fun to read about the relatively young medium of radio, and Snow mentions "nomes" and uses Baum's spelling. So get ready to lock down your radio tuner and enjoy some Christmas Snow!
December 17th 1928
SANTA AGAIN

This is the season of the year when every radio studio has its Santa Claus. Actually if you want to preserve the illusion of the bewhiskered Saint for your small son or daughter, the only thing to do is to pick a strong station and lock the controls of the set. For if the youngster starts hunting Santa of his own accord, he will discover the air to be thickly beset by the benevolent old gentleman. The child will make the alarming discovery that Santa can hop from Pittsburgh to Cincinnati and to St. Louis and and back again as fast as he can turn the dial. Apparently Santa is possessed of a tenor voice in St. Louis, a bass tone in Cincinnati, and a mellow baritone in Pittsburgh. This state of affairs is confusing to say the least, and has been known to elicit some embarrassing questions that parents are not always capable of answering.

All the Santas are jolly and beneficent so there is not really much choice. The thing to do, therefore, is to pick the strongest station and then stand guard over the controls of the set while the young hope is absorbing the Christmas spirit. Otherwise the radio as a means of child education is going to prove just a trifle too successful.

December 24, 1928
Illusions Lost

Our worst fears are realized. Either the whole Santa Claus story is a gigantic hoax, or Santa himself is a deceiver of the worst sort. How, are we anxious to learn, aided by even the swiftest airplane can Santa be in Detroit, Philadelphia, New York, and Cincinnati as fast as we turn the single dial of our set?

And oh, the companions and merry little helpers of Santa, their member is legion. There are nomes, elves, princesses, fairies and all manner of what nots that roam through the pages of the charming child books. The main difficulty, however, in all this pleasant phantasia to entertain the younger members of the radio audience is the lack of consistency. Even in fairy tales, and imaginative stories, the author must be believed - he must be consistent. but not so your bland studio director, he asininely bites off several more hunks than he can choose, and proceeds to lose seven-eights of the illusion that the microphone, more happily handled, might create. Here again, we have a crying need for competent radio dramatists.

Now, why not head over to our sister blog Hungry Tiger Tales and read Jack Snow's The Animals' Christmas Tree.