Sunday, July 30, 2006

Fujishimas' Best Friend

EAST BRUNSWICK, N.J. - When I walked into my house after coming back from seeing Seussical at Plays in the Park, boy, was I surprised at seeing a dog greet my entrance by sniffing my legs!

Folks, apparently we have a new member of the family: a new dog, a shitsu. Yeah, my mom has apparently been thinking about getting a new dog for a while, but it looks like we finally decided to pull the trigger and do it. My younger brother Masao tells me that he used to be known as Dusty by a previous owner. Well, that might change...

More details on this in a future post, because I wasn't really there when they decided to buy the dog. But I'd like to say this (emo alert): I dunno, but the fact that I vaguely heard about my mother's plans to get a new pet, and then the fact that the whole family minus me went to get the pet, kinda emphasizes a rather disquieting feeling I've had over the past few weeks---namely, the feeling that I'm on the outside looking in with my own family. Certainly my parents don't really seem to bother to tell me much stuff about what's going on in the family anymore; mostly I have to either ask or have to get info from my younger brothers.

You know what? I wonder if I'm not getting what I deserve either. Perhaps I've always been rather remote from my family in recent years, not really giving much of a damn about what's going on with my parents and bros. Have I become too self-interested over the years, caring only about something if it matters to me in some way? Maybe my mother has finally caught on and is---possibly subconsciously---keeping me at a distance.

It's not like anyone ever asked me if I wanted to have a new pet in the house. I'm fairly certain I could get used to having a dog around the house, but I know that I've always felt a little awkward being around a pet whenever I've entered someone else's home and I'm treated to some big dog sniffing me around. Guess I'm not used to it; guess I could get used to it. It's not that I would have raised an objection to having a dog; it's just that it bothers me a little that no one seemed to ask me whether I did have a problem with it or not. But then, that sometimes seems to be Mom's way: when she has an idea, she presumes that everybody else is on board with it, whether or not that's the case. She seemed to assume I'd be willing to accept wasting away studying accounting in college without making serious attempts to ask me whether I agreed with it or not; somehow, I see a similar mechanism in this situation.

Maybe I shouldn't complain so much, though. If we're able to train this dog, it'd be nice if, on some lonely evening, when I'm sitting here in my room alone---as I am now---I could have a nice, quiet, obedient dog to keep me company. Heck, maybe I could complain about a lot of things to the dog. Dusty---or whatever name we decide upon---would never judge me like I feel a lot of other people judge me---especially my mother.


Seussical is a serviceable animated trifle with some inspired music (and some surprisingly dissonant harmonies and progressions in some of them), but, while it plays with the usual kiddie-show standby themes of using one's powers of imagination and working up the courage to stand up for your beliefs and all that, it's basically a pleasant, forgettable diversion. But it might appeal to adults with fond memories of reading Dr. Seuss as young kids. And who hasn't, right?


I mean, there are maybe one or two Dr. Seuss books I fondly remember as an adult: The Cat in the Hat, for instance, and Green Eggs and Ham. It's not only the rhymes and the inventive worlds Dr. Seuss creates, but also the pathos that I remember from those books. The two main characters of those two books---the Cat in the former, Sam-I-Am in the latter---simply want to share a little joy with others in the world, but they're rebuffed when they seem to go a little too far. But eventually the two characters redeem themselves in the eyes of others and they receive warmer welcomes. I dunno, I've always found it touching, the way those two books combine both a yearning for childlike innocence with a realization of certain real-world fears: the fear of getting in trouble with one's parents, for instance. Of course, innocence wins out in the end---hey, these are children's books after all.

Otherwise, though, the nostalgia trip offered by Seussical simply reminded me of how relatively sheltered my childhood actually was. When I hear friends of mine waxing poetically about their favorite Dr. Seuss books or their favorite Nickelodeon TV show or something like that, I just stand back and lament how little Dr. Seuss I actually read as a kid, or how I never even got Nickelodeon. I don't remember the first thing about Horton Hears a Who! or Yertle the Turtle (two Dr. Seuss books referenced in Seussical), for instance. It seems like, even as a younger lad, I was already thinking about adulthood, and thus perhaps not doing enough to live it up as a kid.

Another thing that reminds me of what I feel is kind of a lost childhood is the recent release of that old cartoon show Animaniacs on DVD. Even as a sixth-grader or so, I was already forming ideas---probably influenced by my parents---about how "dumb" cartoons were, how they were something to grow out of. Only in hindsight, of course, do I realize how intelligent some of these kiddie cartoons actually were: how rife with organic pop-culture references some of them were, even how much they might actually teach receptive young viewers (unlike myself). Remember that Animaniacs cartoon where Yakko rhymes all the countries of the world in song? To think that there was a time when I thought that that was just kid stuff... (Maybe I should get those Animaniacs DVDs from Netflix, just for nostalgia's sake.)

A couple years ago, that Johnny Depp movie Finding Neverland came out, and while I have said to others that I found the movie "bland" and "typical Oscar-bait" (both of which I more or less stand by today), I really should have been more honest about how much I identified with the film's idea of someone trying to hold on to his childhood, as Johnny Depp's James Barrie does, and as Barrie tries to instill in the children of the movie, particularly young Peter Davies (Freddie Highmore). Perhaps it's not a very challenging, "adult" notion, but it nevertheless appeals to the inner child in all of us---even a barely-existing inner child like myself.

Eh, I think I'm whining incoherently again. Not sure if I'm making much sense (even to myself); make of it what you will.

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