Contest: Newsweek Oz Anniversary Issue

Enter and Win!
Thanks to Newsweek, four of our US/Canadian 2019 Club members can win the 80th anniversary Wizard of Oz issue.  To enter the contest, send a photo of yourself celebrating the 80th anniversary to  You’ll be entered in a drawing to win a copy of this special edition. Submission deadline is midnight (central daylight time) Oct. 14; winners will be announced Oct. 15 on Facebook and here (I’ll update the blog with winner names). Winners also will be notified by email.  

UPDATE 10/15/19:
Congratulations to our winners:

Andrea Ely
Louis Berrillo
Kelly Pepin 
Suzi Wooldridge

Only one photo per member, please, and do include your mailing address in case you win. We’re creating an online gallery of photos from the year’s events; use your name in the file name if you’d like it to appear in the caption there. Issues will be on newsstands in US and Canada Oct. 18.

A Newsweek editor recently asked me to provide an introduction to this Wizard of Oz 80th anniversary tribute.  I was as delighted by the opportunity as I was intimidated by the short turn around. But I met the deadline (and the word count) with a piece I hope represents more than just my Oz experience. As our Oz Club president, I approached it as a chance to represent all of us.

Sincerest of thanks to my two friends, Sarah Crotzer and Laura DeNooyer, who gave me the constructive criticism I asked for pretty much on demand. (As in, “Can you read this and get back to me, um, now?”)  The intro is considerably better for their improvements and I am confident both women will spot their specific contributions.

For the intro I tried to capture much of what defines Oz today. Fans are sure to spot my nods to The Wiz and Wicked, All Things Oz and the Banner Elk’s Land of Oz Yellow Brick Road. I started with Frank Baum’s Oz books and the Oz Club, and ran from there. I’m kicking myself that I didn’t work in attending Todrick Hall’s Straight Outta Oz, mention Denslow Island, or spell out “The Oz Museum” in Wamego, Kansas. So much Oz, so little space on the page! But I think I met my goal to express how diverse and far-reaching Oz has become for those of us who hold it close to heart.

Collectors who pick it up, enjoy!  Fingers crossed that it will lead more fans to discover that there is a thriving community of Oz fans eager to welcome them to the fold.


The Ruby Slippers, at Last, at Last!

The Oz Club has published three Baum Bugles every year since 1957. That’s more than 180 issues.  Until now, the most popular icon of Oz, the Ruby Slippers, has never appeared on our cover.  The image used for our current issue was provided by the Smithsonian to illustrate a feature story about the famous shoes. At the eleventh hour, that article’s writer, Jonathan Shirshekan, was contacted about an additional interview. Bugle editor-in-chief, Sarah Crotzer, opted to publish his work in two shorter pieces so Jonathan could incorporate the new material without further delay of this issue.

Personally, I’m thrilled the Ruby Slippers are finally the “cover story” of the Oz Club’s journal and astonished that it didn’t happen many years ago.

One of Sarah’s intents as editor is to always have the front cover illustrate a feature story, and to use the back and inside covers to extend other content.  For this issue’s covers, there’s also a stage set designed by our “Adventures in Oz” contributor, a page advertising books Bill Thompson has covered in an extensive bibliography, and one of the fun pieces of original art recently exhibited at the Animazing Gallery in Las Vegas.

Additional stories include a report from a 1939 MGM publicity tour. Did you know the two ponies that pulled Dorothy’s carriage through Munchkinland toured the country? Jay Scarfone and Bill Stillman did, and they’ve provided Bugle readers with previously unpublished photos from the tour. Past Bugle editor Scott Cummings continues his Oz Under Scrutiny series with an intriguing look at a “tea party” Reilly and Lee hosted for Ruth Plumly Thompson. You’ll also find the conclusion to some research I did a while back about Oz puppetry (Part One was in the Spring 2018 Bugle*), as well as timely news and reviews sectionsalthough one review by Michael Patrick Hearn, of Behind the Iron Curtain, is as long as a feature story!

Included in the mailing are two other pieces.  The Oz Gazette is our children’s newsletter edited by Nick Campbell, and Dave Kelleher  provides another delightful children’s project in an ongoing series of hands-on fun.

You’ll find an apology from Sarah in her letter from the editor tied to this excruciating delay. As president, I believed for the best while she climbed hurdle after medical hurdle these past months. We’ve never tried to institute a “Plan B” to keep the Bugle on schedule when its editor is down for the count. Shared files, more rigid deadlines, and “stocking up” on finished content that to use as needed are steps we’re taking behind the scenes in that direction.

For now, we are working to get the Autumn and Winter 2018 Bugles on the fast track. You’ll be relieved to know a good 20 pages of Autumn is already in layout, and Sarah has lots of content for Winter in hand. Wish a little Oz magic our way and we should have delivery lining up with appropriate seasons before your 2019 memberships are up.

If you have an idea for an article to contributebe it one page or 10drop Sarah a note at and make the suggestion.  We want the Bugle to appeal to our wide and diverse Oz-loving membership; your contribution might be exactly what will help that happen.

*Puppet fan?  There could be an entire book about Oz puppetry!  I had no idea how much there’d be to share. Too much, it turns out for the Bugle. We uploaded a few topical pieces as Baum Bugle Extras to our website if you’d like to read more.

Ryan Jay Day

I’ve been hearing about Ryan Jay’s condo in Milwaukee for a bit more than a year.  He’d describe the Oz colors going on the walls, or the arrangement of Oz art. It all sounded like a magical must-stop. This was my chance. 

Ryan has a wall of Oz fame in his home office — photos shot of him at red carpet events with stars and celebrities involved in Oz productions.

When we first met, Ryan was a 10-year Oz enthusiast attending his first Oz Club convention. Today he’s is a film critic, syndicated radio host, and all-round on-camera personality in Milwaukee. Through the years his profession has allowed him to interview some amazing performers and personalities associated with Oz; he’s often written about those interviews in the Baum Bugle or shared footage with Oz festival and convention audiences. He’s currently working on a documentary about “Over the Rainbow.” I’m grateful to have him on the Oz Club board of directors. 

We met for lunch and quickly fell into our usual pattern of non-stop Oz talk about Oz collecting, Club business, mutual friends, and our most recent individual Oz experiences.  My Oz adventures aren’t quite so celebrity-studded as his, but I live vicariously through his visits with Lorna Luft, Kristin Chenoweth, and Todrick Hall. Before the day was out we’d also Skyped with Emma Ridley and Aaron Harburg. Eventually we headed home. 

There is no place like it. Stepping over the rainbow rug inside the door, I was stopped in my tracks. There was the Sawhorse!  Centered happily in the living room was a wooden sawhorse Ryan bought at that first Zion, Illinois, Oz convention in 1985.  

I tore myself away to let Ryan lead my tour through his collection, which is tastefully displayed throughout his home. Much of it was in his office which would double as my guest room, but from Oz mugs in the kitchen to paintings in the bathrooms I spotted Oz everywhere.  

He is also a Harry Potter enthusiast, and has posters and ephemera from his career and favorite films all cheerfully displayed. It was just a mini-immersion into his passions and profession to visit his home—a Winkie spear from a local stage production, leaning against a poster quoting him as a film critic.

Ryan fired up the massively large wall-mounted television to let MGM’s classic Wizard of Oz roll as background to our conversation.  We watched a few unusual Oz films he’d recently uncovered online.

Back home we consolidated three partial Return to Oz games I had with me into one complete playable game for his collection, because it always comes back to Oz. A late night ensued. 

Morning views: (top) at my feet;
(bottom) over my shuulder.

I needed to get started on the long drive to Kansas City, but Ryan first wanted to show me that portion of his collection that was still at his childhood home.  We headed that way after brunch at a nearby restaurant.  

Passing walls lined with framed photos of Ryan performing in stage musicals, we worked our way to the basement and were laughing in no time. Ryan hadn’t looked at some of these boxes in years, and once we got started it was just too amusing.  We had to open more. “My Life” one would be labeled. “$MILLIONS WORTH OF OZ” in screaming all caps on another—that turned out to be old Baum Bugles, well-worn Mego dolls, an Oz lap robe, and some of his own early Oz art.  “$5000 in Oz Merchandise” read another, clearly aimed to keep his parents from tossing the contents as worthless.  Most were prominently marked to “Never Throw Away!!!” with a series of exclamation marks.

Rummaging through the games, books, toys, and memorabilia, Ryan found a few things to take home. When I admired a piece of artwork he promptly gave it to me. We consolidated things a bit more efficiently, and I found myself eyeing the clock.  I was facing a 10-hour drive home with just one more stop. To paraphrase Dorothy, it’s always hard to say “goodbye.”