The Royal Magician of Oz Trilogy is a 3 volume tale of magic and wonder that recalls the cherished values of friendship, loyalty and courage. This timeless tale of Oz reminds us of the value of overcoming our deepest fears and conquering the challenges that might otherwise defeat us.

Volume One; Magician of Oz, Volume Two; Shadow Demon of Oz and Volume Three; Family of Oz are now available for your reading enjoyment.

Recently completed, The Ozian Adventure of Pickleless & Blu and The Emerald Slippers of Oz, featuring an Introduction by
Roger S. Baum; great grandson of L. Frank Baum,
are also
available for your reading enjoyment.

All are available in both paperback and Kindle.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Farewell to a Friend~

Today is one of those sad days we must all endure as time takes its deadly toll on us all.

My closest friend, James R. Bickel passed away after a fairly short but intense battle against cancer.



He was the finest, most caring person I ever knew, aside from my father. He was a hippie (as am I), a huge fan of The Beatles (as am I), even more passionate fan of Genesis, YES and the Moody Blues, as well as a damn fine chef. We once made pot cookies for a Moody Blues concert and they were awesome!

We met in 1982 while working together at Showbiz Pizza Place. We hit it off immediately as kindred souls. It was those early days that I enjoyed the most, when times were much simpler and age hadn't made cynics of most of us.  

I recall one Saturday during the school year when Jim and I went to Greencastle to do a school event on behalf of Showbiz Pizza. We got soooo stoned on the way there and I discovered that it was not good to get high, then don the Billy Bob suit and try to navigate a set of stairs while stoned to the bone! Jim couldn't stop laughing for hours after that and my ribs hurt for weeks.

In 1983, I had to file for divorce and sue for custody of my two children, Melody and Charlie. I was successful on both counts, and in order to celebrate, I threw a party at Carl Goodwin's house. I called it my GROW party; and GROW (for those of you who may be interested) stood for Got Rid Of Wife. 



It was party of legendary status that is still remembered fondly, 30+ years later by those in attendance. There's Jim Bickel in the green camo vest and curly hair. 

As you can tell, Jim was fond of that little pipe of his and I remember well enjoying its service on many occasions. 



He did so enjoy Life and I don't recall him ever being angry other than when the great flood hit a few years back and the madness of FEMA paperwork frustrated him so. I prefer to remember him like this.




Later on, Jim and I attended a number of concerts together, including Genesis, YES, Styx, The Moody Blues and others. On a number of those occasions, we enjoyed LSD and never had a bad trip. Jim loved it as he said it expanded his musical understanding. Music was always a passion of his and I recall that when Genesis retired, Jim actually went online and bought one of their flash drive memory things that they used in the studio, which contained various sound effects and samples from Genesis's 1981 album, Abacab. I remember him playing some of the sounds on the flash drive and was amazed that I recognized some of them from the various songs on the album. A few years back, Jim asked me to help him transport a large Meletron organ he bought off Ebay for a dollar in some small town in northern Illinois. We drove in the pouring rain, packed it onto a small pickup I borrowed, covered it with a tarp and drove it back to his home. He was so happy as this was some sort of rare piece of musical device. 

During the fall of 1983, a young lady named Amanda Kenmuir began working at Showbiz and Jim thought he might like to date her. However, once she laid eyes on me, there was no other for her (or me) and Jim took it all with great humor. He was immensely happy for us and even served as photographer for us in February 1984 when we got married in Shelburn, Indiana. He also gladly accepted our request that he serve as Godfather to our first-born daughter, Jamie Meghan Dannielle Wallace.




For the next few decades, we went about our time, enjoying various good times, including raft races sponsored by 107.5, a local rock music station that is no more, as well as the time the Formula One circuit came to the Indianapolis 500 Motor Speedway. 

Jim loved the Formula One racing industry and was a huge fan of the Jaguar team. I went with him to the inaugural Formula One race at Indy. He loved it, I slept through half of it. Go figure? I do know that he finally bought a green Jaguar which he absolutely loved until it came time to repair it, which happened a number of times. Then, he got rid of it and swore never again would he own a Jaguar. 

I wish I had more pictures of him, but we were never big on photographing each other. I tended towards nighttime photography in cemeteries and he preferred music and such. 

I do recall the big flood a few years back that found Jim evacuating his elderly parents at 4am in 4 feet of water. We spent several weeks cleaning out the house, ripping out walls (I still recall every inner wall in the house had the first 4 feet removed and I could look all the way through his house from end to end when I got down on my knees), then laying a concrete floor on the western end of the house. Every afternoon, when I was there, the Red Cross would come by with a sack lunch for us. It was a wonderful time in spite of the hard work. 

When he was battling this evil cancer, he had to go to Indianapolis to get some tubes removed and I was happy to take him. We talked about this and that... and even some of the other. There were many memories we relived during those few hours on the road and in the various waiting rooms. This was the last picture I took of him during that trip.


Jim was absolutely convinced he had this thing beat, and I was in total agreement. So when Jim told me that the cancer had returned with a vengeance and he was headed for the Choir Invisible (He also loved Monty Python) in a few months, I thought we had a few months. Instead, it was only days, which then became hours. 

Now, he's gone and I gotta live with that. Not good!!! Every time I hear an old Genesis song (the ones when Peter Gabriel was still in the band), I'll think of him and remember him fondly.


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Bad Way To Start The Year!

I had hoped that 2015 would start out a lot better than 2014, but it appears that Karma is being her usually bitchy self.

Why, you may ask?

I learned tonight that my closest friend of 33 years, who has been battling cancer and recently underwent chemo/radiation treatments in hopes of beating it may now not do so.The effort seems to have failed as he is now on the bad end of a diagnosis that gives little to no hope of a cure. He just turned 59 and I had hoped he would make it to 60.

Now, who can tell?

As I reflect on the past and our good times together, I think fondly of the numerous times we rafted down the Wabash River at a turd's pace on homemade rafts for the 107.5 River Races of the 1980's. 107.5 was a rock-and-roll radio station we used to listen to.

This particular raft featured a shark fin following from behind us (we were dressed as pirates of course) and our navigator was our totally blind friend, Randy. We won the best-themed raft award that year.







Here was our first raft, the Aknos (which is Sonka spelled backwards and is the name of our favorite local pub), in which we took second place that year.

As I grow older, this trend of losing friends is REALLY starting to get on my nerves.


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Pow Wow at the Sacred Grounds of the Vigo County Conservation Club

It's been a while since I last posted as I have been quite caught up in a career change. Nonetheless, the wife and I were able to attend the yearly Pow Wow at the Vigo County Conservation Club, where we are members.


We attend every year and this year's event was the best we've ever seen.


As you can see, we're just a bit skewed. We must be the villains in an old Batman episode.

Here is the Drum Circle, which is the focus of all the energy of the Pow Wow.


We brought along 3 of the grandkids, along with our daughter, Meghan. As you can see, they're having a fine time!


 The dancing was very moving and powerful and we enjoyed it immensely.

video  

I find it amusing when people I talk to complain about illegal immigrants and how we should protect our borders from foreigners. I like to remind them that it is we who invaded the borders of this country hundreds of years ago and then systematically slaughtered, imprisoned and otherwise subjugated the original natives of this land. They always shut up after that fact is pointed out to them. Even my family, who immigrated here in 1746 are not native to this land. Only these people seen at the Pow Wows around the nation can be considered true occupants of this country, and only of very select few of them are true, full-blooded Native Americans. Still though, I have great respect for them, their culture and their devotion to the old ways.



I wasn't able to get a picture of it, but during the Ladies Dance, a large hawk flew directly over the Drum Circle. It was an inspiring site. Amanda and I, as well as the daughter and grandchitlins had a great time.

Hopefully, by this time next week, I'll have completed my schooling for my new career and have already begun the planning for the next step, heading back to North Dakota where all the money is!!!

James C. Wallace II
Royal Liaison of Oz

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Great Times at the Wizard of Oz Festival Illinois!

On Saturday past, I had the pleasure of attending the Wizard of Oz Festival Illinois in Mapleton, Illinois, which is located a few miles south of Peoria along the Illinois River.


This was the third year for this festival and I can say that it was a huge success, both for myself and everyone who came to explore the Yellow Brick Road of Oz.



























It all started the night before with a grand Wizard of Oz 75th Birthday Party in celebration of the film's release 75 years before.











Of course, the Fab Four, Glinda and The Wicked Witch of the West were in attendance and provided a wonderful evening's worth of entertainment for the large number of kids who were in attendance.

























I had a great time doing balloon animals, a few small bits of magic and telling the kids a wonderful story about Billina the Hen and how she once laid Deviled Eggs. Look for this short story, and many more, later this year when Tails of Oz is published.

The next morning was a bit wet, but only for a half an hour or so, then the rest of the day saw cool temperatures and no rain.


Here I am early on before I had a chance to get completely set up.


Once things got going, the crowds were steady and seemed to be really enjoying themselves.

One of the highlights of the festival was Bob Walls Marionette Show, featuring Steven's Puppets.



















As you can tell, the kids were absolutely captivated by the performance of the Wizard of Oz. I've seen this show before in Chesterton during that wonderful Wizard of Oz festival that is no more. The performer, Bob Wall is a most amazing talent with a wickedly twisted sense of humor. The best thing the festival organizers did was to book this show for their festival. In this day of video games, television and Kindle, seeing a live performance is such a rarity and kids need more of this in their lives.

The puppets themselves are quite detailed and very unique.

 
















Later in the day, the Grand Parade down the Yellow Brick Road was a huge hit for all the kids, especially those in costume... and there were a LOT of kids in costume.





After a fantastic day that saw book sales do very well, the whole Gang of Oz got together for a group photo under the rainbow.


Then, it was time for the closing ceremonies. Lots of thank-you's for the many volunteers who helped make the event as good as it was.


And the closing event was a wonderful colored balloon launch in celebration of 75 years of the Wizard of Oz movie.


Of course, I had to get in one last photo with the great costumed characters that I've known for a number of years now from all the Wizard of Oz festivals I've attended.



Yes, it was a great day to be in the Land of Oz over in the Land of Lincoln. I look forward to next year and I expect great things as this festival continues to grow and prosper.

James C. Wallace II
Royal Liaison of Oz