Sunday, July 02, 2017

OzCon International - Day 2

Once again, my newsletter report on Winkie Con 53/OzCon International 2017


Saturday at OzCon featured a cloudy morning by the Portland airport. Fans stumbled down from their rooms to get breakfast at the hotel restaurant or find another nearby place to break their fasts. Bleary-eyed fans greeted each other, including a few people who enjoyed too much of Ozma's Enchantment last night.

About 9 a.m. the dealers room opened, as did the silent auction in the main room, the Emerald City room. The quizzes started in the Winkie room, overseen by Quizzard Eric Gjovaag. As is the tradition, last year's winners created and presented the quiz this year along with providing the prizes. There were four levels of quizzes: a quiz on just the movie, the novice quiz, the standard quiz and the master's quiz.

After the quizzes were done, Oz Show and Tell was held in the Winkie Room. Another tradition, the show and tell allows people to bring their favorite Oz treasures to show off to other fans. As that started, Eric Shanower started a presentation on Nomes and the Nome King in the Emerald City room. Show and Tell finished quickly, and the majority of the fans joined Shanower's presentation.

Meanwhile, in the lobby, the children's programming started with a couple of young men making slime and using it to create strange and fantastic shapes. They were joined by a few adults who cannot resist such things. There were also coloring books, beads and other activities available - but the slime was the number one most popular thing.

The dealers room was also hosting a couple of signings, with Robin Hess kicking off the fun with a Friday signing of his books and Gina Wickwar signing at 10 a.m. As is usual at this convention, groups of people congregated in other areas to chat about Oz and other topics.

At 11 a.m. two panels competed for people's attention. Eric Gjovaag hosted a fantasy casting of the Wicked movie in the Winkie room, and the Emerald City room had Jay Davis interviewing Doug Aberle about filming and discovering Oz. Ye ol' newsletter editor got a moment to tell Aberle about the nightmares she had after seeing the Mysterious Stranger segment of The Adventures of Mark Twain - at which he laughed and said he was known for supplying nightmare fuel.

Lunch was a scattered affair, with people coming and going as programming ended at noon but the break was only a half hour before the auction started with the ever amazing Bill Thompson and Susan Hall at 12:30. The auction finished shortly after 3 p.m. One participant noted that even when she didn't bid on an item, she usually learned something thanks to Thompson's descriptions. Bidding was vigorous, with some items going for unexpected prices.

A half hour later Eric Gjovaag started a presentation on upcoming Oz television and movie projects, followed in the same room by a presentation on The Rundelstone of Oz by David Maxine.

At 2:30 a line formed in the dealers room to get autographs from Inanna McGraw, while people were encouraged to prepare and register for the costume contest.

Inpromptu discussion groups continued to pop up in the St. Helens lobby, and two young locals, Alysia and Linden, began to play Oz songs on violin to the joy of those in the area. A discussion group with Doug Aberle that ye ol' newsletter editor was involved in ranged from Betty MacDonald's autobiographical books to medical school to the Raveled trailer to the Aroma of Tacoma and beyond, proving that Oz and Oz Fandom is far more than the sum of its parts.

At some point, ye ol' newsletter editor was plied with chocolate, making her very happy.

Many strange Ozian creatures started to filter through the crowds into the lobby, including Polychrome, a Big Lavender Bear, Cayke the Cookie Cook, General Jinjur, a couple of Frogmen, Button Bright and a member of the Lollipop Guild.

In order of appearance, the entrants were:

  • Rylan Andrews as a Lollipop Guild Member
  • Karyl Carlson as Dorothy with critters
  • Dee Masters as the Frogman
  • Lea Thorin as Polychrome
  • Caitlin Masters as General Jinjur
  • Katrina Marier as Mrs. Sew-and-Sew
A special group costume was performed by the Oogaboos and whoever else they could convince to wear a costume, called the Searchers of the Lost Princess and featuring:
  • Lynn Beltz's hand as Ugu the dove
  • Karyl Carlson as Dorothy with the Magic Belt
  • Susan Hall as the Big Lavender Bear
  • David Hall as the Frogman
  • Gina Wickwar as the Peach Pit
  • Marilyn Carlson as Cayke the Cookie Cook
  • Eric Gjovaag as the Wizard
  • Brian Russell as Button Bright
  • Susan Johnson as Corporal Waddle
  • Lacey Carlson as Glinda
  • Alysia Gaylord as Scraps
  • Linden Hosack as Ozma
The group put on a skit that told the entire story of the book in only a few minutes with a few good laughs thrown in. After the contest, attendees gathered in the lobby for photo ops and discussion as the votes were placed in the ballot boxes. The events was finished by about 4 p.m., allowing the attendees to take a break before the banquet. The banquet was a buffet style meal with three types of main dishes, a variety of salads, rolls and a large dessert plate with plenty of choices. Unsurprisingly, the dessert plates were quickly devoured and the hotel staff actually brought out an extra one. Much discussion was had at the dinner and many people got better acquainted. After a short break, the evening program began in the Emerald City room with the majority of the convention-goers in attendance. Convention Chairman Lee Speth started out with award announcements, asking Eric Gjovaag to announce the quiz winners:
  • Movie Quiz: Kevin Thomas - Prize: Judy Garland photos
  • Novice Quiz: Dee Masters - Prize: Wicked Witch Mug
  • Standard Quiz: Gina Wickwar - Prize: Oz Coloring Book
  • Master's Quiz: Susan Hall
Next up were the costume contest winners: There are three categories for the costume contest: group costume, child costume and adult costume. The audience votes on the winners of the three categories, and the winners are announced in the evening. With only one entry in the child and group categories, those two were easy: Rylan won for child costume and Searchers of the Lost Princess won for group costume.

The adult costume was a tie, with both Lea Thorin and Caitlin Masters sharing the top prize.

A special Theme Prize for a costume that most embodied the convention theme of searching for the Lost Princess was awarded to David Hall.

The Winkie Award was given to John Fricke, who has made a big impact on Oz fandom and even turned Oz into a career. The Winkie Award is presented annually to a person who has contributed to Oz fandom and to the Winkie Convention (OzCon International). It is voted on each year by the attendees of the previous convention. Fricke gave a brief thank you speech, noting he's been involved in Oz since he was the age of Rylan (who is five).

Chairman Lee Speth finished the announcements by thanking the convention's special guests, Doug Aberle, Inanna McGraw, Peter McGraw, and John Fricke. He also thanked the many fans and volunteers who assisted in putting on the convention. Speth then turned the podium over to John Fricke again for a more somber moment.

Fricke gave a memorium speech for Robin Merle Olderman, a longtime convention attendee. He said that last year, Robin was at the convention but only was able to come down for the Saturday night program because she felt so ill, but was still determined to attend to give out awards. Fricke told the crowd how Robin was a big fan of the books - so much so that when she was taken to see the MGM Movie she protested that Dorothy was too old and had the wrong color hair, then when Dorothy got to Oz she had to be removed from the theater because she complained too loudly that the wrong witch showed up. Fricke told the crowd how she got into Oz fandom and first started attending conventions. He ended the speech by saying that while Robin is no longer at this con, she is in Oz, where we all want to go.

Next up was the Wizard of Oz radio show from 1934, re-created live on the stage by a number of talented actors. The show is indescribable to folks who didn't attend... I'll just say the actors dressed as if they were in 1934 and the crew had an "On The Air" light and vintage inspired microphones. The crew also read all the commercials for Jell-O that were scattered throughout the program. I wish I could tell you just how great they were, but I don't believe I have the words. It truly felt like we were sitting in a studio listening to the people actually working on the program on air. It was truly excellent.

Intermission music was supplied by Alysia and Linden on violins, who delighted the milling crowds with various songs, including a healthy selection of Oz works. Fricke referred to them as the Merry Munchkin Musical Maids.

The radio production was highly appreciated by the audience. The first act took place in the Vegetable Kingdom of the Mangaboos. The second act featured the Pyramid Mountain, the Land of the Gargoyles, the Den of the Dragonettes and the Land Where Wishes Come True. Jim the horse had a lovely habit of mixing up his words, which had to have been difficult to keep up. Amusingly, the characters kept allowing Jim to use the magic belt, and he kept messing up the words - and thus the magic spells. I also adored the adverts for The Little Wizard Stories, that children could get by sending the package front from one box of Jell-O. And I almost want to try "Jell-O flakes" thanks to the ads.

The cast featured John Fricke as the Announcer, Allie Mgrublian as Dorothy/Mushroom, Ben Caldwell as Scarecrow/Gargoyle, Evan Wollam as Cowardly Lion/Gwig, Jean Paul Archambeault as Jim the Horse, Braided Man/Dragon, Travis Ashmore as Tin Woodman/Capt. String Bean, Doug Mitchell as The Wizard of Oz and Laura McCulloch as Pig/Lead Ensemble. The play was directed by Travis Ashmore, music director was K.J. McElrath, David Ian was the sound effect director, Sean Carlson was the sound tech. Costumes were provided by Karyl Carlson and Pamela Miller. The script was adapted by Chris Sterling and John Fricke. The program was designed by Eric Gjovaag with Rob Roy MacVeigh illustrations.

Travis Ashmore, who directed the program and also was responsible for Thursday night's screening of the MGM Movie, was given a gift by the cast. They somehow found a copy of the Jell-O Little Wizard Stories send away book and presented it to him at the end of the play.

The after party was announced as the last item before the crowd broke into separate islands of chatting people. Ye ol' newsletter editor again made an appearance at the party, which had a bit of chocolate to keep her happy. The crowd of more than 30 people was, alas, a bit too much, so the editor retired without spending too much time chatting and eating. However, the party was only starting when I left, and the cups of Ozma's Enchantment were flowing freely, indicating plenty of people would be lost princesses overnight.

Reminder: OzCon 2018 will be held Aug 10-12, 2018, at Kellogg West Conference Center and Hotel in Pomona, California. Start planning now for a fun-filled weekend with fellow Oz fans!

Quotes of the day:

"I'm gonna show mama my slime!" - one of the younger fans walking away from the children's activity area with his father.

"Don't give it to your parents, keep it! It must be very valuable if she wants it so badly!" - David Maxine channeling the good witch after giving Rylan his $50 prize for the costume contest.