“Oz” is a morpheme for Australia. Many know it to be an oblique nod to the other “Oz”, the fairyland setting of Frank L. Baum’s children’s classic. That connection could have had its genesis in Ozma of O” book No.3, published in 1907.
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Laura Ingalls Wilder had a hard life. Her family was always moving, and they lived in fear of attacks. Bobcats were a threat. Mom and Dad had to build at least one house, from the ground up. Mom badly injured her foot when she dropped a log on it. In those days, people thought you had to put an injured foot in a certain kind of water—which was exactly the wrong kind of water for an injured foot. So Mama Ingalls’s foot swelled and began to resemble a turnip.
That’s not all. For example, Laura’s sister, Mary, lost her sight at an early age. And a major treat for Laura was a trip to a housing wares store—can you imagine? How boring! But, to Laura, who rarely had the opportunity to see anyone other than her nuclear family, a trip to a nails-and-plywood store was like a trip to Disney World.
“The dangerous time when mechanical voices, radios, telephones, take the place of human intimacies, and the concept of being in touch with millions brings a greater and greater poverty in intimacy and human vision.” So wrote Anaïs Nin in her diary in the years directly after the great war.
Decades before the internet and its myriad entertainment traps, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and all the other social media platforms which have come to crowd out and clog our email in-boxes, creating their own two dimensional universes on the basis of binary code; so too go our thoughts. Paired down to 140 characters, a soundbite, or a catchphrase it becomes increasingly difficult for the old long form, the indepth and subjective rationalization of subject matter, to compete with the fizz and pop of trending tastes. Social media has become a world within our world, and Nin’s prophetic sentiment remains valid, perhaps moreso than when she penned it.
While reading How to Talk Dirty and Influence People, I grew to enjoy Lenny’s stream of conscience style, which becomes clear and concise by the end of the book (where he rants on about sex, religion and politics). Just when you think he has completely gone off subject, and maybe when you yourself have forgotten what he was originally writing about, he finds his way back. Chapter 27 on morality clauses come to mind; I might have to read it again:
“Recently I was offered a writing gig on a TV series (…). But after two days, negotiations went right into the can. The company’s legal department killed it. Because of the morality clause.
At first, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark doesn’t sound like a very scary book. The title is awfully benign, conjuring images of campfire ghost stories that end with an overexcited “Boo!”
Frankly, it sounds pretty lame.
// Notes from the Road
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