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Soapbox: A message for our graduating seniors

Barry Albertson is a member of the Tigard-Tualatin School Board.I took some time off the other night, after a very long and trying day, and listened to an old record, pulled from my dated archives (You know, a record. They’re round, black, have grooves and there’s a hole in the middle.) and listened to what I considered back in 1971, when Harry Nilsson first wrote and recorded his fable, and even now, a real classic. And, of course, through it, I thought about all of you.

“The Point” is the story about a little boy, named Oblio, who was the only “round-headed person” in the “Pointed Village,” in the “Land of Point,” where, by law, everyone and everything had to have a point. His mother, from the time he was born, knitted for Oblio a pointed hat to wear to conceal his “pointless condition” from his “pointy-headed” peers. Oblio was accepted in the town despite his nonconformity, until one day, when the son of the evil Count wouldn’t let Oblio join in a game of “triangle toss,” where participants catch a triangle on their pointed heads. So, Oblio challenged the Count’s son to a one-on-one triangle toss contest. And with the help of his dog, Arrow, Oblio won the game. The Count’s son then tells his father. And in a fit of rage, the Count, who wants his son to rule the land one day, confronts the good-hearted but ambivalent and timid King to reaffirm the law of the land, which states those who are pointless must be banished from the kingdom and into the Pointless Forest. A tribunal convicts both Oblio and Arrow, leaving the King no choice but to send the pair away.

Oblio and Arrow, upon arriving at the Pointless Forest, soon discover that even the Pointless Forest has a point. In their journey, they meet very curious creatures, like the Pointed Man, who is constantly pointing in all directions and proclaims, “A point in every direction is the same as no point at all,” a swarm of giant bees who knock Oblio and Arrow into the Rock Man, who advises Oblio to be “steady as a rock” and to “open your mind as well as your eyes.” They also meet the Three Dancing Fat Sisters, who embody laughter and merriment. The pair are then scooped up by a giant mother Pterodactyl, who gives them a high altitude look at the entire Pointless Forest before plopping them down on her “just about to hatch” and very round egg. And they encounter The Leaf Man — all who help Oblio see that everyone has a point, although it might not be readily displayed.

Oblio and Arrow spend the night in the Pointless Forest, then awaken to a large stone hand with a finger pointing to their “destination.” They take the road indicated by the hand and make their way back to the Pointed Village, where they receive a heroes’ welcome from Oblio’s parents and all the land’s citizens as well as the King. Oblio begins to tell everyone his story, but is interrupted by the furious Count, who is then silenced by the King.

Oblio tells the King and all the people about everything he and Arrow have seen and experienced in the Pointless Forest. Oblio then tells the entire village that “if everything has a point, then I must have one, too!” Angered, the Count pulls off Oblio’s pointed hat, but is taken aback when he sees a point on top of Oblio’s bare head. At that point, all the pointed buildings in the village melt and become rounded, and all of the citizens of the Village of Point lose the points on the tops of their heads.

So seniors, I have one simple request and one irrefutable message to you all: First, find a copy of this timeless recording and great story, listen to it, and all of the remarkable songs Nilsson wrote. Think about Oblio and Arrow and their journey through the Pointless Forest. Then, remember, here on the eve of your high school graduation, and then every day for the rest of your lives, that like Oblio, each and every one of you most certainly has a point.

I’ll see you all at graduation.

Get on your soapbox

The Times offers a soapbox to stand on every week in our Opinion section. The soapbox is a guest column written by any reader on any local issue of public interest. They should be no longer than 800 words (about three double-spaced typewritten pages) and should include the signature, address and phone number of the writer. Soapboxes are due Mondays at noon and can be emailed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .



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