Not too long ago, the wonderful Ronlyn Domingue, TNB contributor and novelist, suggested I create just this sort of list after she’d enjoyed seeing Cosmo the Jack Russell terrier in Beginners, and what better time to assemble ten cinematic canine greats than the week of The Artist’s DVD release, the film that featured that other recent Oscar-season darling, Uggie. Like Cosmo and Uggie, all of the dogs on this list aren’t the main characters in their respective films but bona fide scene-stealers (just in case you’re wondering why Lassie didn’t make the cut). Now brace yourselves for a huge dose of cute:

Meg Pokrass is a fiction writer (her story collection DAMN SURE RIGHT from Press 53 comes out in Feb.’11), and is an editor at BLIP (formerly The Mississippi Review), but I first noticed her through her animation that was showing up on TNB and elsewhere. She has a point-of-view that is hilarious, unique, and odd in the best way. Meg Pokrass’ fiction reveals her more intense side. Her stories can’t help but move you—they are often sad, always touching, usually funny, and somehow huge in how much of a world she evokes in two or three pages. Of course I was also drawn to Meg’s writing because much of her work is set in California. It turns out we’re from the same small Southern California town. Not only that, but our mothers are from the same small Pennsylvania town. We’ve never met in person but clearly we have much to talk about.

Gentlemen, everyone knows the importance of your welcoming committee in Munchkinland. You’ve become nothing less than the Great OZ’s emissaries to the world, and your current advertising scheme reflects that. Maybe too well, in fact. DDB’s campaign has rehashed the Lollipop Guild welcoming routine time and time again. Always the little uniforms, the leg kicks, the state-sanctioned whimsy that put you on the map. Yet your sales have taken a turn and are now consistently beaten by Oh Henry and Clark Bar. Your friends at DDB have taken a household name and made it a punchline in the candy industry.

Clearly what works in welcoming little girls who’ve just dropped out of the sky doesn’t work in magazine copy. At some point you’ve got to ask yourself what the people of OZ are asking themselves every time they see those old fashioned ads. Is there really any shortage of whimsy in OZ? Are these little men really saying anything we don’t all hear ten times before breakfast?

Now it doesn’t make a bit of difference to me if you want to rest on your laurels and let the traditional image of the singing, dancing Lollipop Guild continue. It’s your legacy, and they’re your stockholders. If you want to just get by in your little world, then by all means keep doing that. But if you’re ready to stop singing and dancing and start beating Oh Henry, then you need a modern campaign for the modern Ozlandian, a message of comfort and nostalgia. This is an opportunity to show your customers a simpler OZ, a relaxed OZ, an OZ that doesn’t scurry around the ankles of the big people but brings them down to your level.

In the artwork here, you see a man, an Emerald City doorkeeper. He’s sitting in the grass, enjoying his Lollipop Guild novelty-size lollipop, staring at the sky. Why is the man so at ease? Not because anyone ordered him to, not because anyone sang a song. No, he’s sitting, enjoying his lollipop because he needs a break from all that. He wants to get away from the hustle and bustle, the Witches, the Flying Monkeys. He wants to feel like time is standing still. Lollipop Guild Lollipops can give him that. The copy reads, “When was the last time you stopped to smell the poppies?”

Let’s face it. People don’t enjoy lollipops because they taste good. People don’t deal with this unwieldy slab of candy because they want to have fun. You want taste, you’re gonna buy a Clark Bar. You want fun, you’re gonna buy Pop Rocks. No, the draw of the lollipop is that it gives you an excuse to slow down… Lollipops are sticky. You have to be careful with them. They’re food as a TASK in a world where adventure itself has become commonplace. People take their time finishing a lollipop, and when they do finish, they’ve regained something. They’ve regained themselves. People sit, they eat their lollipops, and they remember a time when they weren’t plodding down the yellow brick road at the beck and call of some old man behind a curtain.

You can keep running the same splashy, fun-oriented ads you’ve always run and keep getting beaten by Oh Henry and Clark Bar like you have for the past three quarters. Or you could remind your customers and your stockholders about a time when lollipops mattered in the Land of OZ. It’s up to you.

Anyway, I have another engagement. Pete can fill you in on the details. Good afternoon, Gentlemen.