Miscellaneous questions

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I'm a teacher. Are there any Wizard of Oz-related lesson plans or ideas?

Yes, there are. Check out (TMOHH) the Oz Lesson Ideas page of WWOOW at http://thewizardofoz.info/ozteach.html. In addition to some general lesson plan ideas, there are some links to more comprehensive sites and resources. (If anyone has information on other Oz lesson plans or teacher resources, on or off the WWW, I would appreciate hearing about them.)

I want to throw a Wizard of Oz-themed party for my son/daughter/self. What can I do?

After nothing being available for many years, there are now not one, but two different lines of Oz party supplies available. You can take a look at what's available and buy them through (TMOHH) my website's Oz party page. It also has some examples and suggestions, and links to other sites. Take a look at it at http://thewizardofoz.info/ozparty.html. And here are a few more tips:

  • Use Ozzy greeting cards or postcards, or ones with rainbows, for invitations.
  • Decorate with poppies, sunflowers (the Kansas state flower), bunches of straw, small metal funnels, paw prints, diplomas, hearts, medals, green balloons with baskets hanging from the bottom, big pink bubbles...
  • Paper cups and name tags can have Oz stickers put on them (available from Hallmark stores and Dover Publications), or decorated with rainbows or Oz rubber stamps.
  • Got a walkway up to the front door? Use yellow street chalk to turn it into a yellow brick road. Put the appropriate shoes (silver or ruby) on a pair of socks stuffed with newspaper and have them stick out from under the house.
  • Does the guest of honor want to dress as Dorothy? All it takes are braids, a blue checked dress, and a stuffed dog in a basket. And don't forget the shoes — either wrapped in foil or sprayed in glue and rolled in red glitter (use old shoes, of course), or some of the costume shoes now available.
  • Find partyware and streamers in Ozzy colors — yellow, blue, purple, red, and especially green.
  • For party favors, besides anything you can think of that's Ozzy (bubbles, rainbows, hearts, etc.), Dover has a set of miniature Oz activity books (coloring, stickers, temporary tattoos, etc.) at extremely reasonable prices. Check at your local bookstore, or you can find them (TMOHH) in aisle eight of the online Oz bookshop at http://thewizardofoz.info/aisle8.html, and look for items marked with a party hat.
  • For an activity, get strips of colored card stock, green yarn, crayons, and Oz stickers, and make Oz bookmarks. Or, use paper lunch bags, create Oz puppets, and put on a show.
  • Try a yellow brick road treasure hunt, with clues on each brick leading up to a group prize.
  • Oz themed games could include Pin the Tail on the Lion/the Heart on the Tin Man/the Diploma on the Scarecrow, etc., ring toss around a witch's hat, or whatever other party game you can Ozzify. With large pieces of yellow paper you can play Musical Yellow Bricks.
  • For another Ozzy variant on musical chairs, use pictures of different Oz characters as "chairs." Then, when the music stops (use the soundtrack from The Movie, of course), choose a character at random (spinner, names from a hat, or some such way), and whoever is standing on that character wins.
  • For drinks, try frothy pink Good Witch shakes, green Melted Witch punch (green punch with scoops of lime sherbet floating on top), or bright green Emerald City punch. You can also make rainbow ice cubes by freezing different colors of drinks in layers (freeze a thin layer of cherry, then pour some orange on top of that and freeze it, then some lemon... oh, you get the idea).
  • Use a star-shaped cookie cutter and carrot sticks to make Glinda's Wand Sandwiches. Makes pigs in a blanket and call them Totos in a basket. Or just give all of your food Ozzy names.
  • For a cake, any good bakery should be able to decorate a sheet cake with an illustration from one of the books or a picture from The Movie. Or decorate a yellow cake with a brick design, or rainbows.

The following ideas are adapted from the January/February 1999 issue of American Girl magazine, and are copyright 1998 by Pleasant Company.

  • Make paper poppies. Cut red tissue paper into circles of three different diameters: 4 1/2 inches, 3 1/2 inches, and 2 1/2 inches. Make a stack of six circles, two of each size, with the largest on the bottom and smallest on the top. Cut two small lines across the fold to make slits. Push a black pipe cleaner up through one slit and down through the other. Twist the pipe cleaner ends together, and pull the paper through your closed hand to make a flower shape.
  • Make ruby slipper invitations. Create a shoe pattern about five inches long. Fold a piece of red construction paper in half and trace your pattern, with the heel on the fold so that when it's open, you have two shoes connected at the heels. Glue yellow ovals on the shoes for the foot opening. Decorate your invitations with red glitter and ribbons. (Yes, this idea can also be adapted for silver shoes.)
  • For a simple Melted Witch punch, sprinkle one envelope unsweetened lemon-lime Kool Aid into a large clear bowl. Gently pour in two liters chilled lemon-lime soda and stir. To make a witch hat to float on top, tape a black conical party hat to a seven-inch black plastic plate.
  • For Munchkin Mix, combine eight cups popcorn, three cups pretzel sticks, one cup M&Ms (for "Auntie M"), 1/2 cup animal cookies (especially lions, tigers, and bears — oh my!), and 1/4 cup green gumdrops (for emeralds). Serve in metal funnels (like the Tin Woodman's hat).
  • Make a cake that goes from black and white to color! Make a batter from one box of white cake mix. Divide the batter into four equal parts. Stir one tablespoon Jell-O mix into each part (use four different colors, and don't use grape). Bake each part in a round eight-inch cake pan. Once each of these is cool, use yellow frosting between each layer. Then frost the whole thing with white frosting. Draw tornadoes on the cake with black decorating gel.
  • Make a rainbow arch with different colors of helium balloons and different lengths of string.
  • Use rainbow candies, a bottle of bubble solution, or bubble gum as party favors, so guests can take part in the stunts (see next item).
  • While watching The Movie, guests can eat rainbow candies while Dorothy sings "Over the Rainbow," blow bubbles whenever Glinda pops up, link arms and dance around the room during every chorus of "We're Off to See the Wizard," cackle whenever the Wicked Witch appears, and pretend to fall asleep when Dorothy is in the poppy field.
  • For a game, split the guests into teams. Each team gets a stack of newspaper, rubber bands, clothespins, gloves, socks, a small flannel shirt, a small pair of pants, a hat, and a paper bag with a face drawn on it. The teams race to make their Scarecrow first. (Use the rubber bands to attach the gloves and socks, and clothespins to attach the shirt to the pants.)
  • Play "Brains, Heart, Courage." On three paper bags, draw a diploma, a heart, and a medal. These are the brains, heart, and courage bags. Each guest gets three slips of paper. On the first one, everyone writes down something he or she knows how to do, and that goes in the brains bag. On the second slip of paper, everyone writes down something they love, and that goes in the heart bag. On the third slip, everyone writes something they are afraid of, and that goes in the courage bag. Then, one person picks a slip from one bag and reads it aloud. Everyone tries to guess who wrote it. If someone guesses correctly, that person picks the next slip of paper. If nobody guesses correctly, whoever wrote it gets to pick next.

Here are some ideas sent to me by a mother in Ontario, Canada:

  • We are going to build a Munchkin village outside out of boxes and such (nothing too fancy but creative). Then hide a bunch of small dolls (Munchkins). Then the kids can do a find the Munchkin dolls and win prizes (all will get prizes of course). Could also add some giant flowers like in the movie.
  • For a craft we may do Emerald beaded necklaces. Just get a bunch of green glass beads and let their imagination go from there.

Other sites with information you may find useful are http://www.birthdaypartyideas.com/html/wizard_of_oz_party.html and http://www.dltk-kids.com/crafts/cartoons/oz.html.

What's this Project Ozma I've heard tell about among astronomers?

Oz seems to be popular in the astronomical community. So it seemed only natural that one of the first SETI (search for extraterrestrial intelligence) programs, in 1960, should be called Project Ozma, named for the ruler of Oz. Frank Drake called it that because he knew that distant planets, like Oz, were "very far away, difficult to reach, and populated by exotic beings." Using one of the earliest radio telescopes, in West Virginia, Drake examined a whole whopping two stars, Tau Ceti and Epsilon Eridani, for radio signals that could indicate intelligent, technologically advanced beings living on a planet orbiting those stars. Of course, he didn't find any, although there were a few false alarms. In 1973, Ben Zuckerman of the University of Maryland and Patrick Palmer of the University of Chicago initiated a follow-up search, Ozma II, which scanned 600 stars, but with no greater success. For more information about Project Ozma, check out http://www.bigear.org/vol1no1/ozma.htm for a reminiscence by Drake, and http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,874057,00.html for a contemporary article from Time magazine.

In November of 2010, to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of Project Ozma, the SETI community launched a new effort to find extraterrestrial intelligence. It's name? Project Dorothy.

Has there ever been any sort of Wizard of Oz-themed amusement park or tourist attraction?

The earliest plans for an Oz amusement park were put forth by L. Frank Baum himself. In an interview, he mentioned buying Pedloe Island off the coast of California to turn it into an Oz park. Trouble is, not only did he not buy Pedloe Island, nobody has ever been able to find any island whose name even resembles Pedloe in that area. There was a Land of Oz Park in Banner Elk, North Carolina some years ago, but it's long since been converted to a resort (which still hosts an annual Oz event — see http://www.emeraldmtn.com for more information). An Oz-themed resort complex, including an amusement park, was in the works for the Kansas City, Kansas area, but they never could get the local government to approve it, and the company closed up shop in 2001. There has been talk of other Oz amusement parks in other parts of the country (notably upstate New York), but nothing concrete has happened yet.

There have also been Oz attractions at other parks and fairs. The earliest was at The Chutes in Chicago, which is considered to be the world's first amusement park. In 1905, there were attractions called "The Fairies of Oz" and "The Poppy Fields of Oz," and Oz scenes were also included in "The Mystic Rill," a darkened boat ride through various locales. At the 1933 World's Fair in Chicago, a giant Scarecrow and Tin Woodman stood guard outside the entrance to Enchanted Island, the children's play area. Inside, the Junior League and the Jean Gros Marionettes performed, and both included Oz dramatizations at times. "The Land of Oz" was part of the children's amusement area of Cincinnati's Coney Island from 1934 until the park's closure in 1971. Ray Bolger mentioned a "Wizardland of Oz" park in interviews in the 1960s. And an Oz ride was planned and designed for Disneyland in the 1960s, but never built.

Ozzy tourist attractions include:

And there is now a website dedicated to Oz attractions. Please see https://dolsofka.wixsite.com/theyellowbrickroad for more places in the United States.

Was the band Toto named for Dorothy's dog?

Toto was a very popular band of the late 1970s and early '80s, with Top 40 hits like "Hold the Line", "Rosanna", "Africa", and "99". They are still performing today, and released a new album in 2015. So naturally, with a name like that, Oz fans have wondered if there was a connection between Dorothy's dog and the band. Research has been fuzzy on that topic, however, so I finally resorted to outside help, asking Brian Cronin of the Entertainment Urban Legends Revealed website for an assist. And in March of 2016, I finally got the answer. It turns out that, yes indeed, the initial tapes that the band put together were labeled "Toto" as a placeholder name after Jeff Porcaro had seen a recent airing of The Movie. When it came time to actually name the band (and the eponymous first album), the band researched the roots of the word "toto" and found that it was Latin for everything or all-encompassing. They liked the sound of the name and the meaning of the word, and decided to keep it.

Have there been any Oz-themed music videos?

Here are the ones that I am familiar with:

  • Reunited by the Greg Kihn Band features Kihn's car being whisked off by a cyclone and landing in Munchkinland. Soon thereafter, a house lands on a wicked witch, who had just turned Kihn's band members into the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, Cowardly Lion, and a Winged Monkey. The video ends with Kihn and the Good Witch of the North driving off together!

  • Heretics and Killers by Protest the Hero is a heavy metal video in which the Witch's now unemployed Flying Monkeys try their hands at odd jobs.

  • Runaround by Blues Traveler features a nineteen-year-old Dorothy, complete with Kansas ID, trying to get into a club with her three friends (ordinary young men in very Ozzy costumes). They sneak in, and discover that the band onstage is not Blues Traveler when Toto pulls back the curtain to reveal the real performers. It was in heavy rotation at one point on both MTV and VH1, and is available on the DVD MTV 20 Rock.

  • Oooh! by De La Soul Art Official Intelligence. This hip-hop video may be unusual in that Dorothy actually wears silver shoes, not the MGM-inspired Ruby Slippers. This video seems to owe more to the film version of The Wiz than to any other version of the story, as "Dorothy" finds herself in a very urban Oz. It was shown on MTV.

  • Born to Fly by Sara Evans. This country video was very clearly inspired by the Kansas scenes of The Movie, as it features an elderly couple (reportedly portrayed by Evans' real parents), three farmhands, a cross old lady who wants to take away Evans' cute little dog, and a tornado whisking her house away at the end. Unfortunately, the video ends with the house still in the air, so we never get to Oz in this one. It has been played on CMT.

  • Answering Bell by Ryan Adams has Oz content, too. Adams and his band stumble across a yellow brick road going through a poppy field, with a green city in the background. Adams finds Dorothy and, with the help of some snow, wakes her up. Elton John has a cameo as Glinda!

  • When The Muppets' Wizard of Oz came out in 2005, the Disney website hosted two music videos from the show, "Gotta Get Out of Kansas" and "I'm With You". The opening of the movie is even presented as a music video, with credits in the lower left corner. The official videos no longer appear to be available, however.
  • In 2011, Tech N9ne's song "He's a Mental Giant" was done to an Oz-inspired music video, where he played analogues to both Dorothy and the Wicked Witch of the West.

  • Carrie Underwood's 2012 song "Blown Away" has an Oz-themed video, complete with a yellow brick road.

  • Todrick Hall's 2015 song "Low" has many Oz references in it, so of course the video is a visit to Oz.

  • VJ Pogo created a tribute mix to The Movie using samples from the soundtrack, which has inspired a video.

  • "Money" by Rico Nasty (feat. Flo Nilli) has a lot of Oz-inspired imagery (CAUTION: Contains language and imagery that are inappropriate for younger and sensitive viewers):
  • In 2023, metal bad Nopoint released a lyric video for their song "Heartless".
  • Also in 2023, Taylor Swift takes a brief visit to Oz in her video for "Karma".
  • Another 2023 video sees TikTok influencer Havanna Winter go to Oz in the appropriately named single "Tornado".
  • In other countries, a Hebrew rap video from Israel has made the rounds, while a Brazilian video in Portuguese shows the Tin Woodman suffering the effects of a broken heart.

I want to decorate my child's room (or my own) with a Wizard of Oz theme. What resources are available for this?

At this time, there seems to be no specific Wizard of Oz decorating items, wallpaper, or room furnishings, although there have been in the past. In the 1998 Neiman Marcus Christmas catalog, a fully furnished Oz room was described this way:

It's the ultimate child's bedroom. This one-of-a-kind design is an amazing re-creation based on one of the most beloved films in history, The Wizard of Oz. In celebration of its Special Edition re-release in theaters this holiday season, Neiman Marcus, in association with Warner Bros. Consumer Products, will create a child's room based on this legendary film, complete with custom-designed furniture and bed linens, hand-painted murals on the walls, a hand-blown glass tornado lamp, and wall-to-wall hand-carved carpeting depicting the Yellow Brick Road. Furniture includes a hand-painted alderwood bed, a maple dresser with hand-painted detailing, an upholstered chair inspired by the main characters in the film, and a tree-design "play" station with two stools.

The price? Only $150,000. That season, Neiman Marcus also offered other, less costly Oz items, which appear to be the same products available from Warner Bros. at the same time.

You may want to check out the Warner Bros. shop (https://wbshop.com/collections/the-wizard-of-oz), as they may carry some items that might help give Movie-themed Ozzy accents to a room. Books of Wonder also carries many Ozzy items, so check out their online catalog at http://www.booksofwonder.com. And Lipper Industries sell some nice, Denslow-based Wizard of Oz children's furniture. You can find these and other Oz decorating items in (TMOOH) aisle 11 of my website's shop, at http://thewizardofoz.info/aisle11.html. Movie-themed fabric is available at Quilting Treasures; just type "Wizard of Oz" in the search box.

Where can I find Oz costumes?

If you want to make Oz costumes, Simplicity has a number of Oz character patterns available. For more information, check out http://www.simplicity.com/Search.aspx?SearchTerm=Wizard+of+Oz. You can also find some Movie-themed licensed costumes for sale at many costume shops. This website has an arrangement with Costume Supercenter, and you can get a good deal with them just by clicking on the banner below:

Costume SuperCenter

Other costume stores with Oz costumes are available on the WWOOW links page, and the WWOOW bookshop's Halloween page (http://thewizardofoz.info/wiki/Halloween) in the fall. If you're just looking to rent a costume, check out The Costume Loft (they also sell costumes) and Broadway Costumes.

Where can I find Wizard of Oz checks, or a Wizard of Oz credit card?

Checks Unlimited (http://www.checksunlimited.com/) has Wizard of Oz checks, based on The Movie, as well as a checkbook cover and address labels. The same checks also appear to be available from Designer Checks. There's even a dedicated site for these checks at https://www.wizardofozchecks.net/. Carousel Checks has Yellow Brick Road-themed checks. There was once a Wizard of Oz credit card, with proceeds going to the Oz Museum in Wamego, Kansas, but that bank was bought out and the card discontinued.

What's the connection between Oz and Frank Oz, or any other celebrity with an Ozzy name?

None. Movie director and Muppet performer Frank Oz did not get his name from the Oz books (he was born Frank Oznowicz). So far as I know, neither did wine expert Oz Clarke, Israeli writer Amos Oz ("Oz" is a common Hebrew word, meaning strength), Dr. Mehmet Öz ("Öz" means "self" or "essence" in Turkish), athletes Ozzie Newsome or Ozzie Smith (although Smith is nicknamed "The Wizard of Oz"), actor Ozzie Nelson, singer Ozzy Osbourne, director Oz Scott, nor television hosts Daphne Oz or Dr. Oz Garcia.

Why is the country of Australia sometimes called Oz, and the people who live there Ozzies?

So far as I know, "Oz" came about as a nickname for Australia because, in an Australian accent, it sounds sort of like the first syllable of the country's name, or is one way to pronounce the abbreviation "Aus." (Then there's the connotation of a wonderful, far away place.) And "Ozzies" is used as a nickname for the people who live there because it sounds a bit like "Aussies." I don't think there's a direct relationship between the nickname for Australia and the land of Oz, although I have heard stories of Australian soldiers singing "We're Off to See the Wizard" on their way to fight in World War II.

Can I use The Wizard of Oz as a theme for a corporate or charity event, or for publicity purposes? Do I have to pay anyone to do so?

The original novel of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is in public domain (see the question Are the Oz books still under copyright?), so you can use Dorothy, Toto, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, the Cowardly Lion, and anything else from the book with no problems. However, if you want to base your characters on the portrayals by Judy Garland and the rest of the cast of The Movie, or the costumes, set designs, and songs from The Movie, you're going to have some more difficulties, as those are still under copyright. The Movie and all of its parts — and yes, that includes the Ruby Slippers — are currently controlled by Time Warner (see the question Who owns The Movie now?). So to use those particular versions, you will need their permission, and they will probably charge you a fee to do so. You can get started at Warner Bros. by calling their customer service number, 866-373-4389. If you want to use "Over the Rainbow" or any of the other songs, you might be able to find a version by another artist and make arrangements through the artist or the music company that issued the recording, but again there will probably be royalty payments involved.

Wait! This can't be the last question! You didn't answer the question I have!

Well, this is a list of frequently asked questions about Oz, not every possible question. If this FAQ doesn't answer any question you have, nor point out where you can possibly find the answer yourself, feel free to ask me, Eric Gjovaag, by e-mail through this link. I'll do my very best to answer, and if I can't answer it, I may know of someone who can. And who knows! If enough people ask the same question — or it's just really good — your question may be added to the FAQ.