Reducing A World Of Wonder To A Microwavable Moment

November 15, 2009

Wizard Of OzIt’s a world of convenience and if I had any doubts, the fact that I am watching The Wizard Of Oz makes it quite clear.

Actually, I’m not watching – at least not with same the rapt attention I once did. Why should I? It’s on tomorrow night, too.

And the night after that as well.

Yes, TBS, as they have done for a number of years now is broadcasting the movie three nights in a row.

I perk up and stop, certain scenes finding favor with me for minutes at a time, but I’m also doing several other things. I’ve literally told myself to stop and enjoy this classic, but there’s no sense of urgency since I am well aware that I have, as the announcer coming in and out of commercial breaks reminds me, “two more chances to watch.”

Even if The Wizard Of Oz wasn’t available at will, if not on television, then on DVD or some other format, it is unrealistic to expect the experience to have the impact it did for me as a child.

You only discover fire once.

(and how did the career of the human who discovered fire fare? Was there a follow-up? Did this being possibly invent popcorn and, then, have to endure the carping of critics who whined, “yeah, you’ll be amazed by popcorn but it lacks the urgency of fire” as though it was some mediocre second album?)

Mutterings aside, I recall seeing The Wizard Of Oz for the first time at the age of four-, maybe five-years old, sometime in the early ’70s. I remember watching it with the lights off in our living room, sprawled on the floor with a pillow and blanket.

It was certainly not in high-def on a screen the size of a wall, but it didn’t need to be. The visuals and scope of the film couldn’t be contained or diminished. It seemed to fill the room.

I quickly learned that, like Charlie Brown specials, The Wizard Of Oz would magically reappear annually, but would not be shown at any other time like some common movie that might pop up here and there on a Saturday afternoon or on The Late Show.

You got one shot.

(for some reason, I also recall it used to be shown in the spring, though it now airs near Thanksgiving and multiple times)

Even into my college years, there was something special about the annual airing of The Wizard Of Oz and I often made a point to watch.

It is an iconic flick, one of the most iconic in the history of cinema, and I still try to catch it. And, if I don’t, I’ve still got at least two more chances this holiday season.

They keep reminding me.

Belly – Now They’ll Sleep
from King

Led by ex-Throwing Muse/Breeder Tanya Donnelly, Belly became indie rock darlings in ’93 with the gloriously catchy Feed The Tree from their debut album Star.

Now They’ll Sleep, a title inspired by a comment from the Wicked Witch, was from the band’s second (and final album) King.

Big Country – We’re Not In Kansas
from No Place Like Home

Big Country was nearly a decade past their brief fling with success in the US with their 1983 hit In A Big Country when they issued the album No Place Like Home in 1991. If I recall, its release in the States was delayed for some time and, when it did arrive, few cared.

It’s too bad as We’re Not In Kansas, while hardly as memorable as their lone US hit, is a driving rock track that deserved a better fate.

Elton John – Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
from Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

As I write this, I realize how often I’ve been so mesmerized by the melodies of many of classic Elton John songs, I pay little attention to the lyrics aside from the choruses. The lyrical content of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road isn’t quite as muddled as some of John’s songs, but, whatever questions I might ponder evaporate when he reaches the soaring chorus.

America – Tin Man
from Holiday

America very much reminds me of childhood as songs like A Horse With No Name, I Need You, and Sister Golden Hair seemed to be constantly on the radio (or, at least on the rare occasions – usually in the car – when our family had the radio playing).

And, like those other songs, America’s ode to the character desiring a heart is breezy, endearing, and as comfortable as an old sweater.

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Release The Flying Monkeys

June 1, 2008

Sometimes I astound myself that, for having accomplished so little aside from using my powers for apathy rather than evil, I have some interesting resources to call upon. Not only do I have connections to celebrities such as Sheryl Crow, I’ve recently consulted a source on an issue that hasn’t gotten much attention – the US military’s attempts to create a flying monkey army.

Forget microwaves, unmanned drones, stealth bombers, smart bombs, and terminators. It’s obvious to anyone who has seen The Wizard Of Oz (which would be pretty much everyone even including that uncontacted tribe in the Brazilian rain forest) that the future of warfare will be decided by whomever develops an army of flying monkeys.

If it hadn’t been for the flying monkeys, Dorothy would still be a house-dropping, witch-killing, slipper-stealing fugitive; she would still be running free in Oz with her gang of sycophants, flouting the efforts of the Wicked Witch of the West who was impotent in capturing them until she unleashed the flying monkeys. So, clearly, flying monkeys is the way to go.

As I will undoubtedly be someday known as the Woodward and/or Bernstein of Flying Monkeygate, I have a source much like their Deep Throat who I shall refer to as Whispering Bunny. When I asked Whispering Bunny about attempts to develop a flying monkey army, they confirmed that I was “not far from the truth.” Hmmm, perhaps they are actually gliding monkeys.

If someday soon, you tune in to CNN and see a talking head – with the caption beneath them reading flying monkey warfare expert (or maybe enthusiast) – being consulted about this matter, it will likely be me.

In the meantime, enjoy these monkeyshines.

The Pixies- Monkey Gone To Heaven

The Tubes – The Monkey Time

Warren Zevon – Leave My Monkey Alone

Patti Smith – Space Monkey