A Year of Oz: The Wizard of Oz Is All Around Us

I'm testing a theory that Victor Fleming's masterpiece "The Wizard of Oz" is so woven into popular culture that someone or something makes reference to it at least once every day. It comes up in conversations, songs, TV shows, ads, other films, colloquial saying, etc. For one year I'll be updating this blog each time Oz comes up. Check back daily to see if the theory holds water, or melts in it. (And try it yourself. You'll start to notice Oz everywhere, I promise.)

Friday, December 25, 2009

a blog

This is a blog:


I think you will enjoy it.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A year

Has it been a year? Almost.

That was quick.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Engulfed in Obligations

Now I know why I've been so bad at updating my blog. Because there's no goddamn time for anything any more. Besides my "normal, everyday" life (wife, work, friends, etc.), I have to keep up with email, phone calls, facebook, stupid fantasy football league, and a million other things that waste my time. I shouldn't complain -- they are all self-imposed. There's no rule that says I have to update my stupid facebook status almost every day. I just feel compelled.

David Sedaris had another Oz reference in When You Are Engulfed in Flames. He was quoting the Cowardly Lion -- "I do believe in spooks. I do, I do, I do."

Btw, did you know Australians refer to their home country as "Oz", at least in print. And least one Australian. I don't know about the rest of them. Know how I know that? Facebook. See, this is why I have to keep up. How depressing.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


There have been a number of Oz references over the last few days, but I haven't done a good job of including them here. One was in the movie Zeitgiest, which you can stream on Google. It's a bunch of conspiracy theory stuff, but pretty interesting.

Maybe I'm so bad about updating the blog because I'm wasting my life away playing Scrabulous. Right now I have the "O" and "Z" tiles. Very unfortunately, they don't count that as a word.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Engulfed in Oz

I'm reading When You Are Engulfed in Flames, and came across this quote yesterday:

"It was easy to imagine that the house, set as it was on the lip of a university parking lot, had dropped from the sky, like Dorothy's in The Wizard of Oz, but with a second story."

On the train, I get some sideways glances as I try to stiffle laughter while Sedaris describes the "Stadium Buddy" or the horror of being forced to scratch a baby-sitter's disgusting back.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

double whammy

Two Oz references today. First, at a meeting today my boss plunked a stack of books in front of me, including this one:

Then, I was looking at a friend's facebook page and came across this hilariously amazing pic of her daughter, who is coincidentally (or not) named Dorothy:

Monday, August 4, 2008


I'm trying to do something writing (unsuccessfully). My wife is watching Spaceballs (part of the problem). When was the last time you saw that movie? There's a whole big Oz scene when we first meet Yogurt ("just plain Yogurt").

p.s. I still owe this blog a post.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

book it!

My wife and I were leaving a sandwich shop in Chicago (One that has been steadily declining in quality for years now, so much so that I vowed I was done with it. We used to love this place. I don't know what happened. I don't want to name names but it starts with a "C" and ends with an "ostellos". See if you can guess it.) when Christine (wife) noticed a book in the window of a Lincoln Square record store. It was The Wizard of Oz.

I've been meaning to pick up a copy for a while so I snatched it up. $3.30 with tax. I had exact change, which is always nice. It has this cover, which is not my favorite (but as the saying goes: cheapskates buying copies for $3.30 can't be choosers):

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sad reference, part 1

Today's reference was a little sad. Tomorrow's will be sad as well (it's the last of the four I had last weekend).

I was thumbing through Newsweek and came across an article on a teenager named Larry King who was murdered in a classroom because he was gay. His sexuality made another student uncomfortable, so that student saw fit to end Larry's life. It's a horrific story. You can read it here.

The article specifically mentioned the students making fun of him because he would sing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow". Hopefully Larry found the other side of the rainbow and is resting peacefully there.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

awesome Oz reference from a fellow blogger

Jay Amabile of "The Sexy Armpit" has an awesome post about a random Wizard of Oz reference. Watch this video:

Then go read HERE to read the entry. I love coincidences like that. Great stuff, Jay.

I have one more reference to add from the 24-hour Oz reference marathon, but it's going to take a little more time to add than I have right now.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

give me back my bike!!

I feel the compulsive need to tell the entire world that my bike was stolen today. It was locked to a rack by my train stop, and while I was hard at work some broke the lock and took it.

So I'm too mad to explain the third Oz reference. That's lucky, because I can't remember exactly what it was. I just know it was in People magazine somewhere. I know I'm not supposed to read People (and usually don't), but cut me some slack today. I just lost my bike.

p.s. That is not a picture of my bike. Just a bike that looks kinda like my bike. That bike pictured is probably safe at home with its rightful owner. Unlike mine.

Monday, July 21, 2008

en Toto

Oz reference #2 from the 24-hour reference fest: The song "Africa" came on in the car. You know, the one about blessing the rains or something. This song is by the band Toto.

Now the band claims that they are not named after the dog, or the Japanese toilet maker, or a part of the female anatomy if you speak certain African dialects.

But I'm going to choose not to believe them and count it as an Oz reference. They may wan to dispute that when they wrap up their third set at the Branson Missoui Casino and All-You-Can-Eat Shrimp Shack at around 2am. Zing!

That Merlin lookin' guy may put a spell on me for saying that.

(I shouldn't make fun, I sing the hell out of that song when it comes on.)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

four in 24

If you thought Kiefer Sutherland could get a lot done in 24 hours, I got FOUR Oz references in that amount of time. Yeah, I know, MIND BLOWING, maaaan. Well, I was excited. Because I've been so bad about updating the blog, I'll add one a day for the next four days (in no particular order).

So first I'll bust out my wife. Love the girl to death, but she's got a really bad habit. She's hopeless addicted to Days of Our Lives. She's not proud of it, but at the same time, doesn't do anything to stop. It's hopeless. How do we stay together? you ask. My answer: just barely.

Because of this nasty habit of hers, I'm pretty much up to date on who's cheating on who, who's plotting who's death, who wears an eye patch (I'm pretty sure there are several characters), who's acting skills can only rival, say, Mariah Carey's, who's died and returned multiple times, and so on. I've stopped asking myself years ago why a town of, it seems, about 40 people, has like eight detectives, seven doctors, and then a hand full of people who don't do much but walk around their houses in towels and make out noisily quite often.

So blah blah blah -- there was an Oz reference on DoOL (Dool??). One asshole came in and another asshole was reading The Wizard of Oz to her daughter. 'Nuff said.

Oh, I can do a pretty good impression of the CONSTANT look of smugness on this asshole's face:

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


These days I'm all about facebook. It's job related. No, seriously.

Today while stuck in one of those vicious facebook loops (you know -- where every page you're on leads to another thing you just can't not click on), when I came across a Wicked button on a friend's pieces of flair board.

Here it is, in all its pixelated glory.

Monday, July 14, 2008

sad reference

I got an Oz reference today in a catalog I was mindlessly flipping through. But I spent the whole day at a wake and I'm too exhausted to explain the reference. My word will have to be taken at face value today.

Monday, June 30, 2008

has it really been two weeks?

Has it really been that long since I've updated my blog? It's not for lack of Oz references, it's for lack of energy. Today my boss said of the internet revolution and blogging and facebooking and everything else: How do people find the time?? I guess in this case, they don't.

I promise to try harder.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Farmer's Market

At a Farmer's Market this weekend, a girl had a booth set up with all kinds of little signs with different phrases painted on them. One said:

I have flying monkeys, and I'm not afraid to use them

and the other said:

No one gets in to see the wizard. No way. No how.

Monday, June 9, 2008

the end of a reference

When flipping past Wheel of Fortune I spied a girl dressed as the Wicked Witch doing ... something. I couldn't tell what it had to do with Wheel of Fortune (more likely something to do with Wicked), but we'll count it.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Wait, wait, ... an Oz reference

If you caught "Wait, Wait ... Don't Tell Me" on NPR this morning, you surely caught an Oz reference at the end. P.J. O'Rouke was talking about Hilary Clinton and mentioned Dorothy, Toto, flying monkeys, and the ex-first lady dropping a house on Barack Obama.

I didn't quite get his meaning, but I know it was an Oz reference. (DVR has spoiled my life experience in that now whenever I miss something in the "real world" I think I can push a button and back it up 30 seconds.)

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Not so smart now, are you, Trebek?

Do you ever wonder how "smart" Alex Trebek would be without all the answers sitting right in front of him? Ever witness him get a little arrogant with contestants when he corrects a wrong answer. I would LOVE to see Trebek play Jeopardy as a contestant.

Why haven't they done that yet? I think Trebek's afraid.

On today's Jeopardy there was actually a category called "Oz" and every question was about WoO. At the end, Trebek said something about the man behind the curtain. Thanks for the shout-out, Trebek!

p.s. Who's got two thumbs and ran the category. ... This guy.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


Ugh. I haven't been keeping up. New job has got me exhausted. No more excuses. Starting tomorrow I'm back on the Oz watch.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Gilliam's handywork

Have you seen the movie Brazil? If not, I highly recommend it. It's one of Terry Gilliam's finest movies. It features several unexpected cameos by Robert DiNero as a rouge heater mechanic (that's the best way I can describe it).

If you've seen the film you know it features many "pipes". Pipes seem to be one of Gilliam's themes. Shortly after DiNero appears on screen, he is examining a pipe and comments:

Now that's a pipe of a different color.

He says it so quietly it's almost hard to hear (I have to rewind the DVR several times to confirm). But sure enough, it's an Oz reference.

p.s. The cover of this film used to freak me out when I was younger.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Colbert's guest

Stephen Colbert's guest was Dr. Mehmet Oz. The show's intro made a reference to WoO. The interview was downright hysterical. At one point Dr. Oz asked Stephen what color his urine was and Colbert responded "Colbalt Blue."

Thursday, May 8, 2008

I don't watch as much TV as you're thinking

Now I know it seems like I watch hours and hours and hours of television. I'm telling you, it's not true. I have a handful of shows to which, for varying reasons, I'm very loyal. The good shows I enjoy are The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, South Park, The Office, 30 Rock, and a few others. The bad shows I enjoy are American Idol, America's Next Top Model, Hell's Kitchen, and a few others. That's about it.

I record those shows in our DVR, watch them quickly without commercials, and get on with my evening.

So don't judge me because a number of my recent references have been television-related. I'm not as bad as you think.

America's Next Top Model contestant Anya did a semi-Wicked Witch impression as she described herself on a photo shoot: "I'm melting! Melting!"

Let's hope my next Oz reference is from a source that's a bit more ... elevated.

p.s. I don't see the Anya appeal...

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Hell's Reference

Tonight on "Hell's Kitchen" the chefs were cooking for a girl's Sweet 16 party. I wrongly assumed that the birthday girl would be an uber-spoiled, snotty L.A. teenager (see MTV's "The Hills"), but it turned out the girl actually seemed pretty sweet and normal. Shocker. On the other hand, Mom was the one who came off as uber-spoiled and snotty. There were obviously times when daughter was repressing the urge to tell her mom to shut up or suck it up. She bit her tongue.

At one point, however, one of the chefs referred to Mom as "the Wicked Witch of the West". So that was a nice Oz reference.

Also one of my co-workers mentioned The Wizard of Oz at lunch today, but I can't remember the context.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Ozword puzzle

I was doing a crossword and the clue was "Oz author".

If you don't know the answer, shame shame.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

What the hell is wrong with people??

There was just a story on the news that someone stole the bronze plaques off the statues at Oz Park here in Chicago. Seriously??

Utterly ridiculous.

Wiggs' shirt

The gentleman we affectionately call "the Wigs" at work was wearing a shirt that said "Follow the Yellow Brick Road" on it today. I asked my friend Chris to take a picture of it for posting here, and he agreed, but alas, the day ended with no picture. Since I have no photo, my hand was forced.

Here's a picture of the Wigs:

I was going to post a picture of Chris, but it appears he deleted his myspace profile. Typical, jumping on the Facebook bandwagon. Weak.

Monday, April 28, 2008


I'm watching the fantastically wonderful Oz three-disc Collector's Edition (if you want to purchase it, scroll down for a link to it on Amazon). One of the bonus features is a documentary called The Legacy of Oz. Oz historian John Fricke says the following:

...It’s almost impossible to watch television for a week and not hear an Oz reference, a paraphrase of Oz dialog...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Surrounded by Oz

As I type this I'm literally surrounded by Wizard of Oz materials. I can't seem to escape it! (That's a good thing.) But I can't count these as references, as it's work related. So the outside world needs to start coughing up some Oz references too.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

me = neglectful

I'm sorry. Oz has been everywhere but I've been neglectful of updating. There was an Oz reference on Jeopardy yesterday, and last Thursday's The Office had one as well. I should be providing more details, but it's getting late and I'm tired. You trust me, right?

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Judd Apatow needs to chill

Apatow is just putting out too many movies. The first few were funny, but they are becoming formulaic and repetitive, with fewer and fewer truly funny moments. I just watched Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. It was ok at best. At least it had an Oz reference. In a song about fighting for midget rights, Dewey sings:

I'm banging your drum,
your big day will come
When they remake
The Wizard of Oz.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


Today my yellow brick road took a pretty fantastic twist. Without being able to say too much, I was very fortunate to be on the receiving end of a Wizard of Oz assignment at work. (Well, I lobbied for it a bit. But seriously, who else should get the Wizard of Oz project?)

So it truly will be a Year of Oz. I'll be doing something Oz-related practically every day for the next few months. I won't count these as official references, but I'm pretty stoked none-the-less.

If I were a monkey, this is about how I looked today:

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

there's something to this...

Every time I post complaining that there haven't been any Oz references, one pops up a few hours later.

I've already admitted that I watch American Idol, while tonight the hippie dude (Jason Castro) sang "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." He did the Israel [something-or-another]'ole version, which you may remember from an eToys commercial several years back.

Israel's version is stunning, and I must say, the hippie dude didn't butcher it. I was pleasantly surprised on all counts.

cold, slow

Sorry no updates lately. There simply haven't been any Oz references to speak of. It's about as depressing as this winter has been. Maybe spring will bring a more fruitful batch of references.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

"I Lost on Jeopardy"

My wife and I have gotten into the habit of recording Jeopardy on our DVR and watching it when we're eating meals or bumming around. Today we were watching Thursday's show and one of the "answers" made reference to The Wizard of Oz. I accidentally deleted the show before I could transcribe the answer here. My bad.

p.s. Remember Ken Jennings. That guy won $2.5 million on Jeopardy. Amazing.

Friday, March 21, 2008

there will be oz

There was an Oz reference today at work, but it's one of those randomly difficult to explain ones. Suffice it to say, I asked a coworker:

"So what do you think we're going for with this?"

And she responded.

"I don't know ... like a Wizard of Oz thing?"

It wasn't what we were going for, but it was a reference none the less.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

my boss on the Oz tip

My group has been very busy at work lately. I have a really good boss, and this morning she brought in bagels to thank us for our hard work. In her email letting us know about the bagels, she listed off a bunch a projects that were keeping us so busy, and she did so like this: "Project 1, Project 2, Project 3 ... Oh my!"

It was nice little Oz reference.

(She actually named what the three projects were, but I didn't think it'd be a good idea to post their official titles here.)

Saturday, March 15, 2008


Two days in a row. Saw a brand new commercial for "Wicked" in Chicago. Boy, it looks iffy, to say the least.

The commercial opens with the Good Witch (presumably) singing about being popular. It gave me chills. Not the good kind.

Has anyone seen it? Is it as bad as I think?

Friday, March 14, 2008

i told ya so! i told ya so!

So yesterday I predicted a fresh crop of Oz references. It was in the air.

Check out this Netflix ad that just popped up on MSN's homepage today. (Or at least I noticed it for the first time today.)

That's a good start!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

a prediction

Okay. So 2008 started off with a tornado-like whirlwind of Oz references. I really thought they were just gonna keep coming and coming. I thought by March I'd have taken this blog public, have a team of writers working around the clock to update it while I relaxed on a beach in the Cayman Islands.

Alas, the Oz references have recoiled like a frightened turtle. My Board of Trustee now tell me they don't see an IPO on the horizon.

But something is in the air. Maybe it's spring (on the heels of a downright miserable Chicago winter). Maybe it's just life in general. But I feel a change coming. I feel like the sky is going to open up and a deluge of Oz references will come crashing down.

I feel it. So let's see what happens.

Saturday, March 8, 2008


It's been way too long since I've had a good Oz reference. It's too bad. Unfortunately I have to use too weak ones today: a Wicked commercial on the radio and a Wizard of Oz magnet I saw at Target.

I know: weak.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Leap day reference

Man, the Chicago Bulls suck this year. I thought they were supposed to be competitive.

Tonight they lost to the Washington Wizards. The Channel 5 sports commentator said:

"But they couldn't catch the Wiz, who eased on down the road."

The Bulls are about as threatening as Joakim Noah. (Hasn't Ricky Williams taught us that stoners make bad draft picks??) At least, if nothing else, they are good for a tangential Oz reference.

Thursday, February 28, 2008


Where have all the Oz references gone!? I'm so angry I could beat up Kimbo!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Oscars hook it up

Did you catch James McAvoy's award presentation? His first words were, "There's no place like home."

Depp delivers

I was looking up some info about Johnny Depp today and came across this. It was in his "Ed Wood" wikipedia entry:
Depp decided to draw inspiration for his performance from Andy Hardy, Ronald Reagan, Casey Kasem, and the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz.

So I can thank Captain Jack Sparrow for today's reference. Is there anything Johnny Depp can't do?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I'll take what I can get

Since Oz references have been avoiding me like plague, I'll have to use one of my wife's. Today she was on the phone at work with a contractor, who had recently been prescribed Vicodin. He told her he had never taken Vicodin before but it was great because it "took him to the merry old land of Oz."

Monday, February 18, 2008

A Year of Flashdance?

While Oz seems nowhere to be found lately, for some reason it was the weekend of Flashdance. It seemed to be playing back-to-back-to-back on some channel. I couldn't escape it. Then this morning while I was in the shower the radio station played Irene Cara's hit.

As I jogged in place and shook my head back and forth wildly in the shower, I wondered if I'd followed the wrong movie for a year.

Friday, February 15, 2008

[All tasteless titles have been removed]

I resisted the urge to write an inappropriate title with a bad pun in it.

I was talking to a friend today about random movie oddities and he said, "Didn't a munchkin hang himself in the Wizard of Oz or something?" The rumor is patently untrue. No one is really sure how it got started. According to snopes.com, it's a bird, which is what it clearly looks like if you watch closely. It'll look better on your TV.

Here's the video in dispute. It is clearly a bird in the background. When people get stoned enough, they'll see anything. This rumor can be hung out to dry. (Ooof. Sorry.)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Oprah checks the slippers

Apparently Brent Glass, who I refer to in my January 12 entry about Stephen Colbert going to the Smithsonian, was on Oprah showing her the ruby slippers. No, I don't watch Oprah. Colbert showed the clip tonight. He was incensed that Oprah got to touch the ruby slippers, while he was denied the privilege of making a sandwich with George Washington's sword.