So I'm back from my busy-busy two weeks. I've returned with a souvenir I didn't necessarily want and can't stick on any shelf: a head cold. So rather than writing a new post today, I'm publishing one I recently wrote then stuck in Drafts when I realized I penned a "Wizard of Oz" post a few months ago.
That said, this is a different angle, so I'll go with it. One can never say enough about Dorothy and friends, right?
This would have been the perfect time for a fourth posterior-swiping of the sleigh bells, but for once I was standing far enough inside the lobby to not knock anything, except my head for a retort, which was about to be lame. Aaand wait for it. Okay. Go:
“Yeah, I think I’d be more Judy if I had sort of a gingham, um, frock, and a little dog. Sparkly shoes.”
“True.” Gomery waved his pen around the general area I was standing in. “Also, no flying monkeys.”
“Probably left her monkey double-parked outside. We tow," winked Monty.
Older films are the only pop culture references in the Wilfair books. Beyond a few titles and actors, there are no brands or modern-day properties or established allusions mentioned. I chose this route for a few reasons, but that's another post. ("That's another post" will likely be engraved upon my gravestone one day, I admit it.)
One film I was keen *not* to cite, but gave in, because I had to? "The Wizard of Oz." I've written before about this movie, a little bit, on the blog, but I wanted to expand upon using it in the snippet above. Just a little bit! (Also, I'm in a "Wizard" mood as I just found out that the film will celebrate its 75th anniversary here at the Chinese Theatre, where it premiered in 1939. Full circle! And I love when things come full circle. Satisfying.)
So: Why was I hesitant about mentioning "The Wizard of Oz"? This isn't because I don't like this film. Au contraire. This movie is like one of my vital organs (okay, that was a little graphic, but I think I'll leave it for now and see how I feel about it at the end of the post). I just love it, fully and completely and ruby-slipper-ly and in all ways.
But it is a movie that permeates pop culture, and I do tend to look for more, uh, offbeat choices while writing. In short? It's a (yellow brick) road that's been often visited by many other writers. And is there a sitcom that exists that hasn't done a "Wizard of Oz" dream sequence? Doubt it. But I do love it.
So here's why it showed up early on in "Wilfair," in the conversational snippet above:
1) It's LA's Movie, capital M. It's the world's movie, too, belonging to everyone who adores Dorothy Gale, for sure. But "The Wizard of Oz" is just all over the place here in Los Angeles, every day of the year. It's at the Culver Hotel, where the actors who played the Munchkins stayed during the filming, it's on photos on restaurant walls, it's up and down Hollywood Boulevard, where every type of souvenir imaginable has the Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion emblazoned upon it. It's even across the street from The Wilfair and the Motel Fairwil, where a giant pair of ruby slippers faces out from the future Oscar museum toward the intersection of Wilshire & Fairfax.
2) I wanted to make a little tribute to L. Frank Baum and the Hotel del Coronado. The writer of the "Oz" books has many California ties, but here's my favorite: He designed the crown-shaped chandeliers of a famous San Diego hotel's ballroom. It's a hotel I'm mad for, and it is an inspiration for the Wilfair books. This is probably a fine moment to mention that the books brim with private tributes to people I know and people who have inspired me and places I love. :)
3) I knew my heart would instantly pop into a thousand Glinda-like soap bubbles if I had Gomery say the words "flying monkeys" to Fair Finley. And it did, pop pop pop. While I knew who Gomery and Monty Overbove were -- or were going to be, rather, since this conversation happens juuuust after we meet them in the first book -- I didn't fully know know them yet, you know? I hadn't spend a ton of time with them. We were acquaintances at this point, me and the Overbove cousins, and not much more. Still on formal terms.
And I thought to myself, "well, Gomery is slyly flirtatious and Monty is outrageously flirtatious and a conversation about flying moneys and double-parking and towing is too tempting for me to pass up, because we can easily see both sides of their Fair coin in a couple of sentences."
So this exchange, to me, is the Establishing Shot for the cousins in relation to their neighbor, and how they'll converse with her over the three books (and, spoiler alert: the next book, too).
I also just learned today that Harold Arlen, who wrote "Over the Rainbow," thought it up while driving down Sunset Boulevard. This cheers me no end.
I wish there were plaques and markers all over the city to designate where creative ideas started. "On this corner Darth Vader was dreamt up" or "this chapter in 'The Long Goodbye' was born at this intersection." Anywho.
Thanks for once again walked the Yellow Brick Road with me! You can usually find me there, picking poppies or petting Toto or drifting inside my giant soap bubble or riding a broom.