Get the point?

"I was on acid and I looked at the trees and I realized that they all came to points, and the little branches came to points, and the houses came to points. I thought, 'Oh! Everything has a point, and if it doesn't, then there's a point to it.'"
— Harry Nilsson

Like many kids, including my own, some of my fondest memories involve being around people other than my parents. Nothing against my folks, but throwing off the preadolescent shackles of chores and bidding adieu the same shag carpet you see every day is the kind of thrill you live for before you discover the opposite sex. My favorite nonparent was my dad's sister, who had just enough urban edge (she lived in an apartment) and sophistication (she drank wine and went to college in France) that it was like going to another country when I visited her ... across town.

It was on a weekend sojourn to my aunt's house that, after being hurriedly dropped off by my folks -- "Here, you take him!" -- I discovered the joy of "The Point!." Conceived by smart-ass pop-folkster Harry Nilsson as a fable praising nonconformity, "The Point!" emerged in 1971, the year of my birth, both as an album and as a television special. Less psychedelic than "Yellow Submarine" and far more bitchin' than "The Wizard of Oz," somehow "The Point!" resonated with audiences enough to warrant repeat airings during the '70s. What got me on this particular weekend wasn't the television show, but the soundtrack. My aunt had a weird revelation (as many aunts do) that this was something made for kids that was cool, and she wasted no time immersing me in songs like "Me and My Arrow" and telling the story of Oblio and Arrow.

I was hooked, man. Every time I went over, I wanted to hear the album. I even got my own copy of it and harassed my parents with it. My aunt, unbelievably, put up with my consistency and, on one visit, "The Point!" happened to be on television and she actually told me in time for us to watch it. At the risk of old-codgerism, I must remind some younger readers that there was once a time when entertainment was not available on demand and television shows were special because you never knew when, or if, you'd get to see them again.

Needless to say, I was stoked beyond belief, and once Dustin Hoffman (I think) started narrating the story about poor nonpointy-headed Oblio, "The Point!" was burned into my personality. The songs, the story, Harry Nilsson's excellently cynical/sweet voice, all of it. Now, after being unavailable for years on video, "The Point!" is being released on DVD with narration by Ringo Starr at the super-wonderful low price of 15 bucks. Aunts everywhere -- especially those burned out by the 436th repeat showing of Finding Nemo -- should rejoice.


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