W is for Wall
You who are rich and whose troubles are few
May come around to see my point of view
What price the Crown of a King on his throne
When you’re chained in the dark all alone
All in all it was all just bricks in the wall
Robert Frost said famously, “Good fences make good neighbors.” If that’s true, then good walls must make them the best of friends. Heh.
“Howdy, neighbor. What’s that you’re building there?”
“Wow. You must really like me. Hang on and I’ll give you a hand.”
For me, the bigger the wall, the better. And it should have guard stations at every corner. And machine guns. I want to be the best friend of all – and to as many people as possible.
Bloody hell. Just yesterday I was referencing The Monkey’s Paw by W. W. Jacobs and today I’m wheeling out a little The Cask of Amontillido by Edgar Allen Poe himself. I’m so literate and well-read. Don’t be fooled – it’s an act.
There was a fair about of debate in the Taker household before this post. What would be done with “W” in the A-Z Blogger Challenge? I was leaning strongly in favor of writing about one of my perennial favorites, namely “work.” In my blog’s tag cloud it is the #2 tag of all-time, preceded only by “poop” and followed closely by “job.” That can’t be a coincidence. It’s almost as if there is an intelligence at work here.
My wife (hey – another “W” word) was not enthralled with the idea of yet another post about work. I think she may have mentioned a horse beaten to death and something about a whiny bitch. After some lobbying on my part, she eventually signed off on “wall.”
Other subjects considered and discarded for this post included Dubya (too gouache and passe) and Winnie the Poop (which I thought was hilarious but the wife not so much).
Unless you live under a brick, you’ve no doubt heard of The Wall, an album and movie by Pink Floyd. In my opinion, The Wall is one of the best albums of all time. I adore it. And, on my behalf, so does the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). I’ve given those greedy bastards my money many times over to own the same music again and again.
The Wall was released back in 1979. I originally owned it as a double album LP. You played it on a thing known as a “turntable” with a needle that vibrated in little grooves on the surface of the record. It was all quite analog and primitive. I wore that sucker out and bought it again. That’s paying twice for the same music.
Then I owned it on cassette tape. And that got eaten by the player. So I bought it again. Then compact discs came out and, since then, I’ve purchased it at least three separate times on CD.
By my calculations, that’s at least seven times I’ve paid for the same music. Funny, but I don’t recall the RIAA ever getting angry about that. Not once have they ever threatened to sue me to give me a refund for overpaying them. That’s quite odd, isn’t it?
So one of the greatest albums of all time when on to become one of the greatest movies of all time. The Wall easily makes my personal top 10 movie list and also happens to be the best drinking movie – ever. When you are feeling grim, foul and down in the depths of your own depravity, nothing beats grabbing a bottle of gin and plumbing the depths with The Wall. It’s great fun.
The Wall tells the story of a rock star who builds a wall in self-defense. The wall is meant to protect but ends up destroying him. The rock star is fucked up. His dad dies in a war and his mother is overprotective. He’s influenced by sadistic teachers.
Each of these traumas become metaphoric “bricks in the wall.” The protagonist eventually becomes a rock star, his relationships marred by infidelity, drug use, and outbursts of violence. As his marriage crumbles, he finishes building his wall, completing his isolation from human contact. (Source: Wikipedia.)
It’s a feel good story that you’ll love over and over again.
You know, there’s another story that prominently features a wall that I’d also like to share with you. It’s The Cask of Amontillido by Edgar Allen Poe. The plot here is fairly basic. Our hero has suffered a “thousand injuries” at the hands of Fortuno and vows revenge. He knows that Fortuno fancies himself a wine connoisseur and invites him to sample some Amontillido. Of course, it’s stored down below and way in the back of a damp wine cellar in the catacombs below our hero’s palazzo.
Lured all the way in, and already drunk, Fortunato is chained and locked in a niche, as described by Poe in this key moment:
“He is an ignoramus,” interrupted my friend, as he stepped unsteadily forward, while I followed immediately at his heels. In an instant he had reached the extremity of the niche, and finding his progress arrested by the rock, stood stupidly bewildered. A moment more and I had fettered him to the granite. In its surface were two iron staples, distant from each other about two feet horizontally. From one of these depended a short chain, from the other a padlock. Throwing the links about his waist, it was but the work of a few seconds to secure it. He was too much astounded to resist. Withdrawing the key, I stepped back from the recess.
After that, our hero begins to build a wall while Fortunato is helpless and still very much alive. Ah, the wonders of the English language never cease to amaze me. There’s actually a word for this! 🙂
Immurement – a form of execution where a person is walled up within a building and left to die from starvation or dehydration. This is distinct from being buried alive, in which the victim typically dies of asphyxiation.
Oh, Edgar. You’re still teaching, even after all these years.
The Alan Parsons Project marvelously brought this story to life in a song:
And, in closing, you can’t explore a “W” post without an appearance by Willie West of Wonderful WINO radio. Enjoy.
This is my “W” post for the A-Z Blogger Challenge.
A ghost of a chance
I think Pink Floyd said it best, although they vastly underestimated the scope of the problem:
“I got thirteen channels of shit on the T.V. to choose from.”
Lately something from the strange world of the paranormal has begun to pierce my consciousness. I’m talking about, of course, the Travel Channel’s steaming pile of dung known as “Ghost Adventures.”
This is how it works: Three actors hear about a “haunted” place and like a team of Ghostbusters rush to check it out. They talk to alleged eyewitnesses and even historians to learn about the location, then they wait until it’s dark, turn on their spooky greenish nightvision cameras, then say things like “this feels so creepy” as they loiter around in the dark.
Sometimes they get belligerent and rude towards the ghosts and say things like, “I double dog dare you to show yourself. I command you hither, and I’m gonna kick your ass.”
At the end of the show they regroup to study tapes of their “experiences” and come to some conclusions. “Sure, about 95 percent of those energy balls were probably dust and insects, which means about five percent remain unexplained.” Oooooh. It almost sounds like they know what they’re talking about.
In one snippet of the show I happened to see one of the guys was holding a device that looked like it came from the local Radio Shack. It had numbers in a display, like “22.2.” Whatever that means. (Allegedly “EMF” readings.) Suddenly something came close. The guys were doing some mighty fine acting but whatever it was apparently couldn’t be seen by cameras and people like us. Then the little electronic device was shown again, only this time, it was no longer functional! OMG! That proves the paranormal dude must have fried it. I believe in Ghostbuster parlance this is known as, “He slimed me.”
Curious, I went to the Travel Channel to learn about the qualifications of these actors.
Zak Bagans, the “action hero” and “lead investigator” graduated from film school in Michigan then moved to Las Vegas to pursue a career in documentary film making.
Nick Groff, listed as “investigator,” apparently has even less qualifications than Zak. His bio simply talks about things he likes to do.
Aaron Goodwin, the “Cameraman and Equipment Technician,” has the qualifications of “falling in love with film” and “teaching himself how to edit video and operate a camera.”
Noticing a trend yet? Yeah, these are actors and film makers. Apparently that’s as close as these guys get to qualifications.
So how do they do it? One thing they do is interpret noise. “What was that bump?” “Did you hear that?” On some indecipherable noises they put captions, as if to imply that some paranormal intelligence was actually communicating. “I want cake” they caption on the screen as you hear a totally indecipherable hiss. I mean, come on! There isn’t even a hint for us to even imagine of the things they claim to see and hear.
Another technique in their bag of tricks is to jerk the camera around and/or point it at the floor or ceiling to indicate when they have been startled or scared. This is usually accompanied by an off-camera sound and the actor saying something like, “I felt something approach and touch my hand and arm.” On the other hand, that sound could simply be the ATM cashing the latest checks from their advertisers.
I do kinda like these guys, though, so I want to do them a solid. I’ve come up with a new Pink Floydsian advertising campaign for them. It’s a TV sitting in a pile of poop. On the TV is running green night vision footage of these boys camping out in the haunted castle, probably eating Scooby Snacks. And the voice over goes, “You got 800 channels of shit to choose from. Once in a while why not make it this shit?”
Orson Welles and Alan Parsons music video
And now for something completely whacked out.
Here is a song by The Alan Parsons Project married up with an old short movie by Orson Welles. Wow, what a find! The song is “Psychobabble” and is one of my all-time favorites. I had thoughts about sharing the song here on the blog and during my search I found this piece of classic weirdness on YouTube. The movie is called “Hearts of Age” and is actually the first movie ever made by Welles, dating way back to when he was only 19 in 1934.
Prior to striking out on his own Parsons’ first musical project was a little album called “Abbey Road” by a group called The Beatles. (Perhaps you’ve heard of it.) Parson’s received production credit on that album and others that followed including “Dark Side of the Moon” by Pink Floyd. Eventually Parsons struck out to do his own thing. His first album was released as The Alan Parsons Project and called “Tales of Mystery and Imagination” and featured musical interpretations of the writings of Edgar Allen Poe.