Thursday, November 30, 2006

We Need a Little Ziggy

My latest Holiday article was published today (in the local paper's Gift Guide). This one's about "Ziggy's Gift" and, of course, my usual ramblings. Like Gambling.

“Give, Love, Rent”

Excluding Saturday mornings in the late 70s to early 80s, my favorite moments in front of the TV are those spent watching Christmas specials. Animation preferred, but not exclusive. I exude nostalgia like a musk during this season. Peppermint musk, if you were curious.

I taped (meaning videotaped) many of these specials around 1985, I guess. Network stuff. It’s probably all available on DVD now. Maybe I’ll bother to check and reveal their availability at the end of this article. It all depends on whether I even finish this article. I might get wrapped up in reminiscing and reviewing these shows and never get around to writing about them. I do that. I load up on pinwheel cookies and cold milk. Or one of those egg nog lattes. Then I nod off. Or nog off, depending on how much rum’s in the mug. (This mug doesn’t need much rum.) And the next thing I know, the a-wassailing’s all done, the garland’s packed away, and I’m nursing a mouse-like hangover at SoTac on St. Stephen’s Day. I swear it’s almost like these shows WANT to dwell in obscurity! Stupid Ziggy!

Aw, Ziggy. Sorry, Ziggy. You know – Ziggy! Hapless, hairless, humble Ziggy. I was never sure – was he some sort of savant or something? Anyway, he had a Christmas special on ABC back in 1982. “Ziggy’s Gift,” with a theme song by Harry Nilsson! ”Give, Love, Joy” wafts through my memory every Advent. Are the kids into Nilsson still? Were they ever? What year is it?

This half-hour animated special follows Ziggy on Christmas Eve or something as he gets a job as a department store Santa. Then he kinda gets hassled a bit by the world. You know, the way Ziggy does. It’s rough in the cold dark city. (Zig’s got an apartment there with a small menagerie of pets.) Yet he perseveres without complaining and in the end he is rewarded for his quiet strength and kindness. This follows a troubling incident involving terrified turkeys.

Hey, I was at the Salvation Army the other day. You know, ‘tis the season (actually I needed a book of Rod McKuen poems…). So I’m sifting through the rubble and you know what I find? (Is it a point, you ask?). I find a Ziggy Christmas ornament from 1979. There he is, dressed in a Santa suit, with his dog (what’s that dog’s name? Marmaduke or Dondi or something?) So I buy it, solitarily smug at my perception of the synchronicity of it and all. You see, cuz he wears that same Santa suit in the TV special. It’s the craziest thing. AND I think there’s a Salvation Army Santa in the cartoon as well! Another Christmas miracle. Go know, right?

Tinsel Trivia: Know who provided Ziggy’s voice? Nobody. He didn’t talk! That’s nice. I wish there were more Ziggys in the world.

It occurs to me that “Ziggy’s Gift” may have been the last great holiday special of my time. I’d ask my friend, nostalgia victim Harry Carbohydrate, what his opinion is if I could ever get him to stop watching “The Star Wars Holiday Special.” (As all Star Warriors know, said holiday special, from which Lucas has distanced himself 30 parsecs, premiered November 17, 1978 on CBS. I’ll spare you the synopsis, but suffice to say Bruce Vilanch, who, two years earlier, penned “The Paul Lynde Halloween Special” lent his rapier wit to the proceedings.) Seated a zeptometer from his TV, Harry’s been studying his poorly re-dubbed videotape with a tenacity typically observed in rebuffed UFOlogists. Sure it’s compelling – Bea Arthur serenading a giant rat – but so’s digging up a cesspool…for a little while. Two hours, this thing is! Find yourself a bootlegged copy of this “fabled disaster” (Carbo’s phrase) and suffer like the rest of us. I give it 4.5 out of 5 Ziggy’s. Mostly because you’ve never seen anything like it in your life!

Fuzz! That’s the name of Ziggy’s dog! Does Ziggy wear pants? I can’t remember. What does he care, right? Who’s gonna complain – his parrot?

I hope you won’t confuse my flippancy with cynicism. I love Christmas. Everything about it! Especially, as I’ve mentioned, the holiday specials, of which “Ziggy’s Gift” almost tops the list (narrowed out only by “Mister Magoo’s Christmas Carol”).

“Ziggy’s Gift” was recently released on DVD. So it’s easily available, despite my feigned ignorance earlier. It’s touching without being manipulative. Funny, but never snide. Mirroring the best of humanity (which can still be quite benevolent), it illustrates how a little kindness goes a long way.

I give “Ziggy’s Gift” 5 out of 5 Bea Arthurs.

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Great Wet North

Ho ho! The first snowfall of the season here in Portland! I drove through a white whipping cloud of it in Milwaukie at lunch. Fantastic! Then 10 minutes later, the sun returned. A few hours passed returning snow to the area. Then 10 minutes later...not so much. But it did stay friggin' cold. And wet. Walked over to Hollywood Video with Urn to rent "The Family Stone." Yeah, I know, it's not "Little Dieter Learns to Fly", but I was pleasantly, and sentimentally, entertained. Not a bad flick, as those films go. It's a Christmas movie. Not quite the "Home for the Holidays" rip-off I expected. A bit heavier, actually. Unlike today's snow. Which is gone for now. Oh oh!
(Image courtesty

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Long Goodnight

Robert Altman died yesterday. Director of some of my favorite films including M*A*S*H, Short Cuts and my latest fave of his, 1972's Images.

Images stars Susannah York and is one creepy fucking film. I wish I was watching it right now.

Altman is often, or maybe always, regarded as a renegade director of sorts, which means he avoid the typical studio system pap. Who are we stuck with now? Tony Scott? God save us.

The first Altman film I ever saw was "Popeye." Of course, I wasn't aware of directors and such things back then. I also didn't know it was my first exposure to Nilsson. Except for maybe the coconut song.

Goodnight, filmyman!

A Malt Assault!

Not really. Just Marie Osmond illustrating the thickness of a DQ Blizzard during Dairy Queen’s first-ever North American Miracle Treat Day, a benefit that raised over $3.5 million for Children’s Miracle Network. Which is nice.

I got a press release emailed to me here at work and was mostly disturbed by the image.

What's more frozen? the Blizzard or her smile?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Just in Time for the (Star Wars) Holidays!

Ackmena Wallpaper!

Tile it on your desktop!

Be the envy of giant rats everywhere!

Happy Forthcoming Holidays from the Fishworker

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Goodnight, Jackanapes!

Last night, Americans won the House back for the Democrats. And they'd better not fuck it up!

Nancy Pelosi becomes the first Lady of the House. Hopefully, she won't slip a disk rolling out that "cream puff in a necktie", Dennis Hastert. He was very effective. A moral man. Honorable. Nah, I'm just shittin' you. He was a douche bag.

Is the tide turning in favor of a positive future for the United States? I don't know. I just keep thinking how delicious those Fruity Pebbles I had for breakfast were... good. Yeah, so let's begin to repair the seemingly irreparable damage done to this country since those fascist pigs (Read: Bush Administration) hijacked the White House.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

I've Seen the Best Poem of Their Generation Turn Fifty

Howl and Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg turns 50! Published in 1955 by Lawrence Ferlinghetti (for City Lights), the poem, while still retaining a considerable amount of power, would not stir up the same controversy today.

Then again, America seems to be being steered back into a more sexually and intellectually repressed direction, so perhaps the poem is more shocking and unacceptable today than it was, say, 8 years ago. I don't know.

Just read it.

Or listen to it (he starts reading it about 41 minutes in).

AND purchase a copy. To have and share.

More on Howl:

Krassner reflects on Ginsberg

Howl celebrations