Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Prisoner

The origin of this post has many roots. In the course of providing much metallic and musical moving pictures, maddeningly missing, (okay, I'll stop) a gross oversight, has been the legendary Iron Maiden. But which song?

This one!

Why? First, the monstrous, Zeppelinesque riff crushes. Second, the inspiration for the song, the cult teevee program, The Prisoner, is as wonderful as its theme is disturbing, and closer to reality than it was when the show originally aired way back in the Decade of the Filthy Hippie. Third, because I care about you dudes and chicks, I stumbled across the excellent version that you watched -- you fucking better have, I watch your non-metal stuff -- that interspersed the classic Hammersmith footage from 1982 with shots from the program. Why is this one better? Fewer shots of Bruce Dickinson's sartorial impersonation of the Festrunk Brothers. Shudder. Lastly, because I think it follows a stellar post (with the same title) by the inscrutable Scarlet W. Blue that was the predominant reason for the long-winded one you're reading right now.

I rarely do any family and/or parenting posts because it just isn't my gig. This one, concerning the joy of our youngest daughter at experiencing one of her loves, ballet, might be the only one I've done. Don't want to ruin the mystery behind the cartoon baseball cap with any touchy-feely shit. Anger, grimace, grumble, sulk, brood.

As is patently evident, I'm a big fan of the creative process and the resulting works that illuminate the human condition. Our youngest inherited my passion for music, our oldest for art. Unlike their old man, they're actually good at what they do. I imagine if we had a third, he or she would be into literature and poetry, but there is no way on The Flying Spaghetti Monster's not-as-green-as-she-used-to-be earth that we're going to have another whiny ass mouth to clothe and feed. Hades no.

Anyway, the point of this post, essentially a corollary to Scarlet's, is the experience by mom and/or pop with the typical modus operandi of the powers-that-be to frown upon those would dare to *gasp* have an imagination, to not toe the youthful party line. Those pesky things sure can get in the way of rote memorization and regurgitation of poorly-taught and understood truthiness, can't they. I count my lucky stars -- hey, I think one is headed this way. Oh, shit. -- that we haven't had to deal with anything that ridiculous. Yet. Our artist has, on more than one occasion, gotten into arguments with her art teacher about technique. She knows what the hell she is doing, so I imagine it's more of a 'yeah, I know we're practicing this, but this looks better' thing. When in doubt, defer to the creator. She understands what she wants. But given her penchant for exceedingly strange, obtuse, highly comical, disjointed, violent and bizarre creations and stories illustrated with her considerable talent -- that she no doubt does while in other classes; the smart ones are always fucking bored, aren't they -- I have long expected one of those letters that I imagine would go something like this:

Mr. and Mrs. Graves,

Your daughter frightens us with her dark moods and we think she may be into dark things and be formulating dark plans as we print out this form letter. We don't want to die. Please make her more vanilla and white bread and less Neapolitan topped by crumbled up cookie things with a whiskey chaser.


Principal Bureaucrat
Well, Mr. PB (Mr. Pibb?) my wife and I both agree that there is far too little emphasis and support for the creative process in this American golden bronze papier-mâché age. I completely sympathize with your position that requires you to shape, to the best of your NCLB and military/industrial/entertainment complex-fueled ability, the future cubicle jockeys of the corporate world whose only task as an expendable automaton is to funnel their by-the-book education into the machine in order to increase the bottom line of those who already possess very large posteriors, but once, just once, show the tiniest fraction of a spinal column, stick out that chest, apply that stiff upper lip, and mellow out, man. Those that are different, that shuffle through life to the beat of a bohemian, scruffy drummer are the ones that drive the soul of humanity to greater heights.

Someday, after your ugly buildings of concrete and glass have long crumbled into dust, after your lack of not just funding, but place in the daily discourse, after your transgressions and material goods have been written off and thrown on the scrap heap, forgotten by your descendants, the monuments that remain, that move us to try new things, not push, but rip the envelope open -- a film, a book, a poem, a song, a novel approach to a scientific problem -- these will be the things that release the human experience from its quotidian cell. It's our duty as parents to make sure our kids never become prisoners of the increasingly omnipresent, stupefying bars closing before them day after day. There may indeed be a lock, but you can give them the key. We may all be classified as a number, but we don't have to live that way.


Tom Harper said...

Your principal is right to be concerned. Ballet is extremely dangerous. It's a tool for Satan to enter the minds of vulnerable young people. You need to rescue your daughter ASAP.

The Bible says "by the sweat of thy brow." True Christians should be spending all of their time toiling and praying; not dancing and channeling the Devil.

Utah Savage said...

Oh you parents. You did not know Bush's plan to destroy the earth? Propagating without a plan to start the revolution is dangerous these days. Scarlet will have to accept my invitation to run away to Canada with me, where her boys won't be drafted to fight the new wars, McCain and Bush are hatching up a plan for. (Unless of course fairlane get his filthy hands on her and takes her to Belize. It'll be mighty hot there Scarlet as the earth starts to boil.) Anyway, good luck wrestling with the bureaucracy that is the modern public school educational experience. It sucked when I was a kid, too. It's just a lot suckier now.

And thanks for giving me the new way to keep from offending everyone who visits. I will no longer refer to anyone with a "large posterior" as a fatass, as I seem to be making people mad all over again.

Anita said...

When I was reading Scarlett's post, I was reminded of the artist Mark Ryden. I think he's relatively young, but my point is that his work, and that of similar artists, is really a major, MAJOR influence on so many young, very serious, and not to mention talented, artists today --- from the U.S., Europe, Asia, South America and beyond. Look in any number of up-and-coming galleries in NYC, Seattle, LA and elsewhere, and you'll recognize that his amazing, highly surrealistic (and, often, very gruesome) imagery is driving the scene (for many, obviously not for all). It really is quite huge.

But what if HE, when he was a kid, had a teacher like Obi-Wan does, and parents who (unlike Scarlett) towed the bureaucratic line???

Guess what, kids who are denied the opportunity to be creative, or who are mocked for their creativity and the "difference" that they have the courage to project, often commit suicide. Yup. They do. Or they lose all motivation for school and that, taken to the extreme, can be the same. OR, they are considered 'depressed' or having 'ADD' and are sent to shrinks and put on meds that keep them lobotomized and therefore quiet and docile.

As I noted to Scarlett, that letter she got was (in my opinion) repugnant and, as well, I think it crosses the border into some form of professional malpractice on the part of the teacher. Or at least it feels like it should.

Here's a link to Mark Ryden's work.

(as you can tell, this subject fires me up big time ...)

Anita said...

oh, and randal ... i failed to hand in my meme project this weekend !! i'm sorry. i'm such a loser.

okjimm said...

I never had these kind of issues. I think my kids had a pretty liberal HS. It isn't all that big a school, maybe 1,400. My daughter was the photo editor/op-editor of the weekly school newspaper. There was a single episode of when the advisor didn't like her choice of photos-comments on the Iraqi War. She pretty much told them on wednesday that it was going to run on friday or she would not be on the paper on monday. I got the 'call' on wednesday night. The stuff was in the paper Friday.

Bug never knew that the School Board Prez likes Guiness on tap and the gentleman and I have shared a few. Prick teachers aren't the only ones who know how to make phone calls. This isn't that big a place.

Anita said...

okjimm, good for your daughter for standing up to "the man" !!

Anonymous said...

RG-That's it man! I'm quitting my job, selling the house and buying a Volkswagon and taking my family on the road with me in the hopes of hooking up with a ska band and joining the Warped Tour. :D

Seriously, I hear you on how some administrators and teachers try to encourage kids to regurgitate names, places and dates. I say some because there are others out there who loathe teaching to standardized tests; who expect their students to think critically on the concepts they've been taught; who want nothing more than to keep one more out of "ugly buildings of concrete and glass."

Distributorcap said...

somehow i would bet your kids learned a lot from their old man

okjimm said...

OK. I hadda come back here.....'cause there was something else..... What Randal and Scarlet both ARE saying.... is that there is a parental responsibility to teach children to THINK AND ACCOMPLISH STUFF all on their own....whatever that turns out to be.....and it is OUR responsibility as parents to encourage that as MUCH as possible. And not just let them know that we stand behind them....but to let them feel it in their every breath.

Bubba would have been a GREAT-FUCKING left tackle....but he chose to play soccer. Broke my heart. He was just so-so as a defender. But I went to FOUR FUCKING years of HS soccer games (and came to appreciate the sport)

Bug had taken violin lessons since she was three. She would not do the school orchestra because, as she said, they were pretty 'lame'. So the ex and I were at a meet&greet at school for her senior year when the orchestra conductor asks the ex why Bug is not doing Orchestra, kinda doing a strong arm, and the ex just looked her over and say, "She makes her own decisions. Have you talked with her."

Children NEED to know that their parents will stand behind them when they deserve it.

My children's mother and I got a divorce.....but we BOTH agreed that no one was divorcing the kids. The kids are all right.

susan said...

Excellent post followed by lucid and creative comments. With such good parenting and kids who know there own minds there really is a lot left to hope for in the Wacky States of Merka. I esp. liked the line about 'when it all falls down what it is that will rise up'.

Frederick said...

Despite the fact that when I was a rebellious youth part of what we were rebelling against was 80's hairmetel, I'm right there with you.

pissed off patricia said...

You know what I think Randal? I think you are probably one hell of a dad and your kids are lucky to have you in their life. A dad who would stick up for the kid in that fictional situation, in that kind of way, is the kind of dad every kid dreams of, at least it's the kind I used to dream of.

b said...

Thank god you are raising free thinkers! Creative types are often left feeling "wrong," and "troubled," and GREATLY "misunderstood." At age 31, I still feel the residue from a childhood of struggling with what I should do because what I wanted to do creatively did not fit the mold. No need to pass the kleenex, I'm okay! :) But truly, if we are stifled as children, it is really difficult to shake that as adults.

I've long felt that one of the greatest illnesses of American society is education. It is an effort at forming us into generic beings for the most part. It breeds conformity and bullshit.

Your girls are lucky to have you and I'm sure they already feel it!

Unconventional Conventionist said...

Kudos to you - like I said about Scarlet's post, it must drive a sane parent MAD to have to deal with these stifling goons.

Oh and BTW, Tag - you're it!

Dean Wormer said...


It sounds like your kids are fabulous little artists in their own right and we look forward to seeing some of your oldest daughter's art and hearing one of your youngest daughter's compositions. I absolutely love your attitude about the creative process.

Your fictional letter is a sheer work of genius and almost got a spit take out of me here at work. I can't ruin another laptop.

Plus- I don't get Scarlet's post. It's starts out with the supposition that lightsabers are imaginary. That they exist solely within the realm of our minds. This is a non-starter for me. Lightsabers are real. That's why I keep one under the front seat of my car. For protection.

(Yes that's an Office reference.)

Anonymous said...

I took ballet when I was a girl... for like 11 years!

okjimm said...

gees, FOT....I think that may qualify you to be an NFL kicker.

You could get a big whopping contract, say, with the Cleveland Browns, stub your toe in the first game, go on injured-disabled list........... and then take the money and go to France.

Hey, every girl needs a plan and I am just trying to help out.

11 years of ballet should not be wasted!!

Randal Graves said...

First off, great comments, all. It's obvious that Washington needs to be sent to another dimension, preferably one of hellish character with fire and brimstone and pitchforks and endless loops of Hannity, while we run the show.

tom, and don't forget: the most famous ballet composer and dancer of all time? Both were commies!

utah, don't worry about people getting mad. There are more important things to direct the righteous indignation at. Not that shouldn't preclude us from being mad at non-earth shattering events. You should have seen me after the fucking Cavs game.

And we certainly didn't plan to propagate. The Bushies are right: abstinence, kiddies. Even birth control doesn't always work.

Watch out for fatasses.

anita, very gruesome? I'll have to check his stuff out! And see, this is the thing. I'm not saying all artists should be expected to be a household name, and my not having heard of this guy before doesn't prove my view that art is in some shadowy cultural limbo, but what YOU said does.

The subject certainly gets my goat as well, hence this post. No, not everyone is artistically inclined. And I love me some sports, having actually played some myself, but the emphasis on such narrow slices of life is depressing.

Don't worry about the meme. I'll just make sure you get tagged with the next one as well.

okjimm, I love hearing stories like that of kids sticking up for what's right. Which makes our role so important, so they'll know we have their back when going up against the machine.

Are you saying beer solves all problems?

spartacus, I used to rag on the weirdo Deadheads for doing that, but some days, it doesn't sound like a bad gig. Not that I would follow the Dead around. ;-)

Of course there are many teachers and administrators who don't think this way. I think the problem stems from these people -- who knows what the percentage is -- having less of a voice than they should.

dcap, they learned to swear at the teevee when another Cleveland sports team loses. ;-)

okjimm, that's exactly what I was trying to say here. Help them develop the necessary skills, let them make their own path, and have their back when assholes try to turn them into robots.

susan, oh shit, I didn't mean to provide a source of optimism! Don't worry, the world is still going to hell in a very fancy Pier One handbasket. But at least the ride will hopefully be a more entertaining one.

frederick, hey man, don't be lumping in the mighty Maiden in with jokers like Poison! I hope one of their songs doesn't pop in my head.

POP, merci, but I'm not sure they'd agree when I get on their case to do their homework.

b, that's certainly the impression that our system seems to give off. I feel bad for the teachers and bean counter types that are against that, but the machine is large. And nothing is more American than ever before than 'shut your wordhole and be afraid.'

All the success stories like Mark Ryden above are fewer and further between than they should be. We're not fools, economic interests, day-to-day interests, are always going to take pride of place. Hey, we gotta eat and pay the gas bill or we'll starve and freeze, but the progression towards this monoculture is nonetheless depressing. We should celebrate the creative and the odd and the weird and bizarre and the different.

UC, you say that like you mean we ARE sane. I never said we're that!
Another tag? You people are the ones who are insane! ;-)

dean, thanks for the kind words, and as for the laptop, with technology at the level it is, there has to be a way (assuming you can't go to your local Office Max and pick this up) to place a sheet of very thin plastic over a keyboard. We could be millionaires!

You lost me on the Office reference. I might be the only person between the ages of 18-49 who has never seen it. But you're correct about lightsabers. Everyone knows they're real.

fot, which means you're a communist! Do you prance around your place in France while installing light fixtures?

Randal Graves said...

okjimm, shit, I might try that plan out. Sure, kicker money is peanuts compared to a running back, but that's mad loot for us peons!

Anonymous said...

Oh it isn't waisted.... It makes doing yoga a very pleasant experience.

Look over there.... cows!

okjimm said...

//Are you saying beer solves all problems?//

No. but it sure helps 89% of the time.

Cows? Is that a dig? I will have you know that the cows in Wisconsington are very smart and kindly. Some speak a form of French.....but most are very shitty ballet dancers (though it is highly amusing to watch them try) and are good company when you wanna just sit around and smoke some dope and chew the cud a little bit.

Anonymous said...

Dig? oh bloody hell no, I could have said llamas. Would you prefer llamas? And stop dressing your cows up in ballet slippers and tu-tu's, they don't like that.

okjimm said...

pppfffft....llamas spit at you.

...and listen, cows in tu-tu's look udderly beautiful.....but bovine ballet slippers sure are hard to find at the local Wally-Mart. The cows just have to hoof-it without them.

Anonymous said...

With how loud those bloody point shoes are, i wouldn't doubt that there are cows on stage. surely i jest.

okjimm said...

Shirley I. Geste ???

I thought it was Coleen at Function of Time.

Anonymous said...

Who is this?

okjimm said...

Shirley I. Geste ?

sister to I.M. Kidding puns are getting terrrrrible

Anonymous said...


"You're so pretty!"

(OK, I have to tell you where that phrase came from and why I think it is funny. See one day my friend out of the blue said the dumbest thing I had ever heard. Our group stopped talking and stared at her. She then instantly put her hand to her face and said "i'm sooooo pretty." So, you see, whenever someone says something out of the ordinary, I say... "you're so pretty." See FUNNY!)

okjimm said... hairstylst used to say that.....

I was never sure what HE meant.

I always thought he was hitting on me, or sumptin.

Randal Graves said...

Whatever you two are on, please share with the rest of the class!

okjimm said...

Gees, Teach...she started it!!

It is, in fact, a excercise inspired by you post.

//Those that are different, that shuffle through life to the beat of a bohemian, scruffy drummer are the ones that drive the soul of humanity to greater heights//

and I heard that there is beer in Bohemia.

Anonymous said...

...and a green fairy.

okjimm said...

absinthe? well if it is good enough for Baudelaire, Poe and might be good enough for me.

..... Has this post been hijacked?

Randal Graves said...

La fée verte est bonne, croyez-moi. But that shit is expensive, yikes.

Hijackers? Islamocommunistofascistojihadists! I fucking knew it! Now where did I put that number to DHS....

Anonymous said...

You can't foil us teach so don't be a hero.


Randal Graves said...

Hey, with my degree from The Chuck Norris Academy of Christian Combat, you're all going down!

This has turned into an open thread, I guess. Anyone got anything else? ;-)

okjimm said...

Gees, I'm glad you guys are around.....most of my contacts are at a fucking trade show in florida.... The rest are too busy getting ready(already!) for the long weekend..I'm blowing off friday maybe even thursday..... I was thinking of spending the rest of the day working on my new novel....about an obsessed sea-captain who chases this whale through the pacific.....though, of course the underlying thought is about The Phallic Symbolism of the Harpoon and how it relates to feelings on Celibacy and Penile envy.

Randal Graves said...

They were at a trade show. It's after three. They're probably at a strip joint.

As for your novel, you can't steal plotlines from a movie! It's too obvious. Steal from books, no one reads anymore.

Anonymous said...

You inspire greatness Randal dahling.

Tengrain said...

RG -

I was part of that group where lefties were forced to use our right hands. Conformity in everything.

Yes, I'm mostly right handed now.

There was an episode in kindergarten where I was sent to the psych. They were worried because I was always using the black and brown crayons for art. I had to explain two things to the man and he laughed and I was sent back: 1) because I was really small for my age, I could not force my way to the crayon box and all the "good" colors were taken, and 2) what colors do you need when you are drawing bears all week?

OK, the point here is this: kids will be creative even when the odds are stacked against them. Sure, they made me right handed, but they never made me left-brained. And when faced with the lack of choices, draw the things you can with the crayons you have.

But as always, Randall, I agree with you. You sound like a great dad.



okjimm said...

Oh, shit....someone ALREADY did that!!! Damn!!

Ok. Howza an epic battle between an old, experienced fisherman and a giant White Perch, in Lake Erie, and it's said to be the largest catch of his life. And the zebra mussels eat it before he can bring it in to the marina?

oh, oh, oh.... how about a naked couple hanging out in a garden, see, and this snake tells the chick NOT to eat the apples, cause all-in-all, the peaches are better, but she takes a bite outta an apple anyways and then all sorts of bad shit happens for a couple of thousand centuries or so?

Now don't be ruining my good ideas, ok?

Randal Graves said...

fot, you might want to rethink your idea of greatness.

tengrain, ??? now that's just fucked up and there's no other way to say it.

You're absolutely right, kids are far more creative than a lot of adults give them credit for, but who the hell has a class draw bears all week? (and who doesn't have the kids share the crayons?) And these days, without raw umber and burnt siena, they just aren't the same.

okjimm, I'm not saying a word. Those are some fine, fine ideas, yessir.

okjimm said...

// that group where lefties were forced to use our right hands. //

oh, wow...that sounds like Bush Amerika!!

//draw the things you can with the crayons you have.//

Tengrain....that is really cool!!!


Tengrain said...

Naw, Randall, no one was making me draw bears, I was in my bear-drawing phase. It was one of those kiddie obsessions. So when I had the black and brown crayolas, well, I knew damn well what I was going to draw.



Dr. Zaius said...

"...dark moods and we think she may be into dark things and be formulating dark plans..."

Ack! Your daughter should join the LGPPP!

Anonymous said...

I love it ! Very creative ! That's actually really cool Thanks.