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, as well as The Ozian Adventure of Pickleless & Blu.

The Emerald Slippers of Oz
, featuring an Introduction by Roger S. Baum; great grandson of L. Frank Baum, as well as Tails of Oz are also
available for your reading enjoyment.

The newest adventure in Oz, entitled: Nomes of Oz is now available and fast becoming a best-seller in the Land of Oz.

All are available in both paperback and Kindle.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

SpaceQuest Planetarium : End Of An Era!

Today, I confirmed some really bad rumors and the truth of it has hit me hard.

SpaceQuest Planetarium at The Children's Museum of Indianapolis is being torn down to make way for something that is not a planetarium. This is an ongoing trend nationwide that disturbs me deeply.

Let's start out with a bit of background about my involvement with SpaceQuest Planetarium.

In early 1997, I was a grad student at Indiana State University where, as part of my duties, I served as the Student Director of the Hook Memorial Observatory. It was a position I excelled at and I loved being an astronomer.

By chance and circumstance, I applied for an internship at SpaceQuest Planetarium and soon found myself offered a job as the Planetarium Educator instead, owing to the fact that the previous educator had died a few weeks earlier.

Walking into The Children's Museum of Indianapolis on March 3, 1997, I was overwhelmed and thrilled to have found what would almost immediately become my dream job. To this day, I have never had a better job, nor will I ever... It was that good.

For the next nearly 4 years, I did the coolest, funnest stuff anyone could ever do... and get paid for it as well. Every morning, I would get up and I couldn't wait to get to work. At the end of the day, I regretted having to leave.

During that time, I wrote and produced 8 planetarium shows, including working with Jim Davis of Paws Inc., Lorenzo Music and John Huge (voices of Garfield the Cat and his owner Jon respectfully), Alan Bean (Apollo 12 moonwalker), and Harrison Schmidt (Apollo 17 moonwalker).  I also worked with Bob Ballard and the JASON Project, NASA (I got to fly on the Vomit Comet twice), and countless others doing some very unique things.

For example, I worked with Jeff Ward of Eli Lily and tracked his dogsled team as they explored the North Magnetic Pole. They would phone back to the dome every Saturday/Sunday during showtimes so kids could talk to them about their adventures. We also tracked their progress on a webpage devoted to their mission. No museum had ever done anything like before.

I designed an award-winning International Space Station web-based game for the museum's website which was, up until a few weeks ago, the most visited website for the museum's homepage.

I built a 1/3rd scale replica of a Stonehenge Trilathon, complete with a Heelstone, which I used to teach simple Physics, history, religion and even how to better complete tasks through teamwork.

Also, I produced in-house video programs called "Dr. What?" for Riley Children's Hospital as part of the museum's outreach program. As part of that work, I got to ride on the Goodyear Blimp "Spirit of Akron." What a hoot!

I webcasted the 1999 Mercury Transit live and was the first museum to ever do anything like that.

The highlight of my career was the acquisition of the Liberty Bell 7 Spacecraft exhibit in 2000. We were the first museum to display this unique artifact of the early days of NASA. I created numerous exhibits and activities related to the science of rockets, as well as a stunning show (pardon my bragging) entitled: SpaceQuest; The Early History of NASA.

I even got to handle and display Moonrocks, as well as introducing kids to the geology of the Moon. In fact, my fondest memories were working with the Museum Apprentice Program (MAPs) kids as a Mentor. Their enthusiasm inspired me and I still keep in contact with many of them.

For nearly 4 years, I enjoyed the support of President Peter Sterling and Director of Education David Cassady until both decided to retire in 2000. It was then that the Board of Directors committed a most grievous act of sheer and complete stupidity when they hired Jeff Patchen to replace Peter Sterling.

Jeff Patchen had absolutely no background in education and he proved his ignorance right away when he promoted a minion of Satan named Karol Bartlett to succeed David Cassady.

Now, fools were in charge and over the next 2 years, the entire education department was forced to abandon the greatest museum on Earth in order to escape the stupidity of Patches the Clown and Karol the Ignoramus! I left soon after she was promoted in order to avoid her evilness.

Here's a fine example of their ignorance at work.

Somehow, they thought that installing a giant glass dildo in the middle of the museum was a good idea.

My only regret was that I was forced to leave, but Time has proven my decision was the correct one, even though not a week passes by that I don't think about that museum and the greatest job I will ever have.

15 years later and now the planetarium is being torn down to make room for something that will not include a planetarium. It is a sad day indeed when science education suffers at the hands of morons who see no value in inspiring kids to view science, space exploration and such as a thing to aspire to, not one to avoid at all cost.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

A Day in Oz with the Tails of Oz

Last Saturday, the Royal Liaison of Oz (that's me) and his lovely and charming wife, The Royal Liaison to Princess Ozma, had the pleasure of attending A Day in Oz over in Clarksville, Missouri. It turned out to be a lovely day and a wonderful festival.

Located on the banks of the Mississippi River, Clarksville is a lovely little hamlet south of Mark Twain's birthplace and a wonderful place to celebrate the Land of Oz.

The day started out great with clear skies and great temperatures, especially for the end of August. Naturally, the Gang from Oz showed up and wowed the kids with song, dance and plenty of smiles.

We set up our table and soon, Tails of Oz, The Emerald Slippers of Oz and the Royal Magician of Oz Trilogy. including Magician of Oz, Shadow Demon of Oz and Family of Oz, were flying off the table and into the loving arms of eager readers. We were very pleased with the love and support shown to us throughout the day.

I was pleased to see that the festival organizers had also invited Bob Walls and his wonderful marionette show, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. As you can see, the kids were captivated by his offbeat and quirky performance. Every show was packed and I have always felt that this kind of show is needed more and more as kids drift away from live performances in favor of whatever shows up on their smartphones.

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!!!

The town itself is a fairly small and rural community, but it acquitted itself quite nicely in putting together its first ever Wizard of Oz festival. In all, I would say that about a thousand people attended through the course of the day.

Of course, kids dressed up in Oz costumes were in great abundance as the festival held numerous costume contests, witch cackling contests and the like.

The highlight of the day for me personally was a guest appearance at the Clarksville Library for a reading from Tails of Oz. In addition, as a habit begun at my first Wizard of Oz festival, I donated a set of our books, Tails of Oz, The Emerald Slippers of Oz and my own book, The Ozian Adventure of Pickleless & Blu to the library in support of promoting Youth Literacy.

I couldn't help but notice that Glinda's Palace had been transformed into a nice bounce house. I'm certain she would approve.

In fact, the whole town really got into the Spirit of Oz.

Oddly enough, this festival reminded me of the old Chesterton Wizard of Oz festival in one very unique way. 

If you ever attended the old Chesterton Wizard of Oz festival, you'll get this joke.

One really pleasant surprise was finding a winged sock monkey in one of the Oz booths. It reminded me of one of the short stories in Tails of Oz entitled, The Terrible Two's, which includes a wonderful Winged Sock Monkey.

Overall, both Amanda and I were very pleased with the day overall and very pleased with how well the festival went, especially considering that this was Clarksville's first ever Wizard of Oz festival. We hope to attend next year and introduce our next book, Nomes of Oz, as well as possibly having Even More Tails of Oz ready for the fun of Oz. Until then, we're off to Oz... to Oz!!!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Mapleton Wizard of Oz Festival and Tails of Oz

Last weekend, Amanda and I had the pleasure of attending the Mapleton Wizard of Oz Festival in Illinois, about 3 hours drive from our house.

Now last year, I attended what was their 2nd year doing this and about 500 people showed up. This year, about 5000 showed up and it was quite an adventure, both for us and the folks who run the event.

Like last year, it started with a song, a gathering of old familiar freinds and a balloon release.

It should be noted that the temperatures for this day were into the upper 90's with high humidity, so it was quite a challenge dealing with the heat and meeting with people, talking about our books. I give my wife much credit as she endured the heat far better than I expected her to. Fortunately, the festival volunteers furnished us with water when we asked for it.

There were, of course, many people in costume, sharing their love for the Wizard of Oz, though all were related to characters from the MGM 1939 movie, The Wizard of Oz.

Loads of Dorothy's running about, nearly as many Glinda's, but very few witches. I'll wager the guy in the Winged Monkey outfit was regretting wearing a wool outfit in the heat. The replica of Dorothy's House was unique and I have never seen someone do that one before. Once again, all movie characters. I wish more people would dress up as Scraps, the Patchwork Girl, or Polychrome, Daughter of the Great Rainbow, or even Princess Ozma.

The big draw of the festival was the Oz characters (Glinda, Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tinman and Cowardly Lion) hanging out along the Yellow Brick Road and entertaining the kids. The one issue there was that not enough people could get through quickly enough, causing long lines that irritated numerous people.

I know how hard the festival people work at making this festival flow smoothly and they are already looking at ways to insure a better experience next year. After all, no one, and I mean NO ONE, expected 5000 people to attend this gathering of Oz. Such is the power of Facebook and social media in general.

It was nice to see that Steven's Puppets were part of the festivities. He was there last year and it was a huge success. I hope they bring him back again and again as the children absolutely LOVE the live performance of the puppets Wizard of Oz.

Overall, I considered the festival to be a huge success for the two of us and we certainly hope to return next year with our newest books, Even More Tails of Oz and Nomes of Oz, which we are currently working on.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Ionia Wizard of Oz Festival and the Tails of Oz

So, it's been 2 weeks since we attended the Wizard of Oz festival in Ionia, Michigan and time has finally permitted me the chance to blog about this wonderful festival.

As usual, we start at the beginning, though this time, the beginning is about 60 miles north of our starting point as we pass by the Pinwheel Fields, made famous in Family of Oz, the third volume of the Royal Magician of Oz trilogy, written by yours truly... me!

Once we arrived in the little Michigan town of Ionia, we settled in for the night and the following morning found us in downtown Ionia with visions of Oz dancing through our heads.

Of course, Ionia is dominated by the Red Brick Road, which can mean only one thing... this town is in the dominion of Quadling Country of Oz, and thus ruled by Glinda: Good Witch of the South.

Hmm... seems that Oz is filled with Glinda's, Dorothy's and Toto's, oh my!

And of course, what Land of Oz would be complete without a few Wicked Witches thrown in for good measure?

Once we arrived in downtown, we found our author location and was very pleased to be located in front of the local cinema, which I'm told has been around since before the 1939 MGM Wizard of Oz movie was released.

During our set-up, I ran across an old projector in the back of the theater which seems to have inspired my mind to imagine the possibilities. I'm told this old projector was in use during 1939 and actually projected The Wizard of Oz onto the silver screen. Much like when I saw an old cobbler's leather cutting tool and it inspired me to create Cobbler the Dog as the "Unwilling Villain" in Family of Oz, or the trains that passed through Chesterton, Indiana every hour on the hour and inspired me to write about them in The Ozian Adventure of Pickleless & Blue, the old projector has inspired me to create a new character for our newest Oz adventure, Nomes of Oz. How it will impact the story, who can say?

Once we were set-up, it was a full day of meeting fans of Oz, selling and signing quite a few books and having ourselves an overall great time!

We had attended this festival for the first time last year and were very pleased with the reception we had received and the kindness of everyone involved with the festival. This year was even more successful, both in attendance, sales and the overall impact this festival had on us personally.

We were especially pleased to see that Mary St. Ellen Aubin  was the featured guest. She is a Munchkin-by-Marriage and one of the most gregarious ambassadors of Oz any festival could hope for.

Owing to the fact that only one Muchkin from the Wizard of Oz movie is still among us, that being Jerry Marin (the Lollipop Munchkin from the Lollipop Guild), and he no longer attends Oz festivals, Mary St. Ellen Aubin does her part on behalf of Oz admirably.

The highlight of the festival, besides the costumed characters who made their rounds throughout the festival throughout the day,

was a screening of the Wizard of Oz movie at the local cinema. Best of all, the ticket price was the same as it was in 1939... 25 cents!

Needless to say, the house was sold out!

One very unique thing the theater did in cahoots (now there's a word you don't hear much anymore) with the Oz folks was to have the costumed characters appear and wander about through the theater during their appearance in the movie. I've never seen that done before and I thought it was a brilliant idea... and most magical in its effect on the audience. The kids, and the adults, were enraptured by the whole experience and The Wizard of Oz on the big screen is something everyone should see at least once in their lifetime.

One odd feature of the festival, which I liked, was the inclusion of a showing of travel trailers, campers and the like.

I was also pleased to see that my co-author, Ron Baxley, Jr., was attending this great festival for the first time. We co-authored a trilogy of books which blend Oz and Wonderland together in a most wonderful way and was recently picked up by Maple Creek Press and offered as a combined, single volume trilogy known as Of Cabbages, Kings, Queens, Flying Pigs, and Dismal Thing. By his own account, our book was very well received by all in attendance.

Overall, Amanda and I had a wonderful time and we look forward to attending next year's festival. We are especially grateful to Linda Curtis and all the fine volunteers who made this year's Wizard of Oz festival so much fun. Without them, no Oz festival could really get off the ground, even if a twister should come by!