Thursday, May 12, 2005

Puff the Magic Dragon

Let's clear one thing up from the start. Puff the Magic Dragon is not a song about drugs. Not at all. It really is about a magic dragon. You can read about that here. I know it may seem funny to think that it is, but to take beautiful children’s song and tie it to drugs seems downright evil to me.

Now, let me climb off my high horse and tell you about one of my favorite childhood films.

Actually it wasn't even a film; it was a 1/2 hour TV special. Wow, this is off to a bad start, first an angry rant and then a lie. Ugh.

If you haven't seen the animated version of Puff you really are missing out. It is the perfect children's program. It has beautiful animation, wonderful music and characters that go through real growth in just half an hour.

The film features Puff, a green dragon with ragged hair and a goatee. His head is unkempt but he makes up for that by wearing a vest and a bow tie.

Puff shows up to help a little boy named Jackie Draper. Jackie is full of fear, so much so that he does not communicate with anyone, even his parents. The doctors say his case is hopeless, but then Puff arrives.

Puff is voiced by veteran actor Burgess Meredith. You will instantly recognize his voice from his part as Mickey in the Rocky films. Or maybe you will recognize it from the Penguin from the Batman TV series. Or maybe you won't recognize his voice at all and you will scream at the TV: "Who the hell is that? And why did Guy lie to me?"

Puff makes a paper version of Jackie named Jackie Paper. Then they sail away on a magic ship. Along the way they meet an angry giant and a land full of "sneezes". They are weird looking creatures shaped like "noses".

The adventure helps Jackie conquer his fears and communicate with his parents. However, like then end of the song, Jackie grows up and no longer needs Puff. It's bittersweet, but in the best possible way.

A few years ago I found ANOTHER TWO Puff the Magic Dragon films. Both were made not long after the original and both are very good.

Puff and the Land of the Living Lies tells of a little girl who lies constantly. Puff takes her on a journey that ends... where else... THE LAND OF THE LIVING LIES.

In this land, all the famous liars are there.
Pinocchio is there with his long nose. So is the boy who cried wolf and Bill Clinton arguing about what the meaning of the word "is" is. It is really cute.

Sadly, one of her lies puts Puff in prison but she learns to tell the truth to get him out. In the end, Puff gets her to come to grip with the fact that she lies because she is sad due to her parents divorce.

The other sequel is called Puff and the Incredible Mr. Nobody. This is about a smart child and his imaginary friend Mr. Nobody.

Mr. Nobody is a duck in overalls with a saucepan on his head. Do I even need to say more? I bet you are dying to see a duck in overalls with a saucepan on his head. Of course a half hour later the child learns to live without his imaginary friend.

Now, I have adopted him as MY imaginary friend. We go drinking on Thursdays (oddly enough we go to Fridays.) When people say I'm talking to nobody I say "He's Mr. Nobody to you!"

Around the 6th beer Mr. Nobody starts to look like a hot chick and we make out.

Aw jeez. Now I did it! I took a nice children's story and mixed it up with liquor and loose women. I guess nobody is perfect.

Just don't tell him or his head will swell too big for the saucepan.

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