Jeremy's Ramblings, Babblings, and Other Pretentious Bullshit.
Thursday, September 08, 2005

Have you heard of this? It's a game for Nintendo DS (a hand-held video game console with two screens, touch screen capability and a microphone) where you basically buy a puppy and raise it. You use the touch screen to pet it, and you can train it to respond to your voice commands ("Sit! Roll over! Recite Kierkegaard!").

I played a version of this game, and I was surprised to find how realistic the digital puppies were. This is a far cry from the early days of the Gigapet (the annoying, chirping electronic pets that ended up being a great argument for animal cruelty). The puppies walk, bark and react like a real dog. When you pet them, they roll on their backs, tilt their heads to your scratching, and eventually get bored and walk away. They seem to have real weight and dimension, and of course, they're cute as hell (which is pretty damn cute, so I'm told).

And as I played the game, scratching the belly of a miniature dachshund (who seemed very appreciative), I suddenly came to a horrific realization: We're replacing dogs. We have digital dogs now. They look every bit the same, but they're cheaper and more obedient! Dogs 2.0!

This reminded me of a year ago, when I was testing out one of the Segway machines (the combination of a razor scooter, a pogo stick and a stepping stool), and the guy in the line behind me told his family, "We don't have to walk no more." We've already made convenient those things that were a hassle (doing laundry, washing dishes, cooking food, transportation, paying bills) and so now we're devoting technology to getting rid of the things that are a privilege in everyday life, such as the ability to walk or the companionship of a pet. Maybe someday we'll have digital blinking!

And with a hop, skip and a jump, I leap to another subject...

Yesterday, I was in Oceanside (Brey + a train ride + the Pacific Ocean + ironic t-shirts + chocolate coke + the Guess Who board game = paradise) and I suddenly realized that I knew nothing whatsoever about the theater scene in that neck of the woods. Literally ten seconds after that thought materialized, I spotted a theater: The Sunshine Brooks! Upon closer inspection, I found that it was the home of the New Vision Theatre Company. I'd already had a thought that any place with the name New Vision(s) does not actually have an original idea or "new vision". This place turned my thought into a theory. Their 2005-2006 season is as follows:

* "The Odd Couple" - The oft-performed, rarely-funny comedy by Neil Simon.
* "The Foreigner" - The oft-performed, rarely-funny comedy by Larry Shue.
* "She Loves Me" - The musical with songs that Music Theatre International describes as "Easy to learn, easy to sing".
* "Noises Off" - The oft-performed backstage comedy by Michael Frayn, who I think would much rather be remembered for his far superior plays "Copenhagen" and "Democracy".
* "On Golden Pond" - The Ernest Thompson comedy that invites every shaky Hepburn-esque septuagenarian to talk about the loooooons.

In my neverending quest to find the most mainstream season of American theatre, I believe that this beats Long Beach Playhouse's 2004/2005 lineup. All five shows are relatively similar in tone, and three of the five require a single set (which would only require a few modifications to change from show to show). There's nothing heavy, nothing exciting, nothing to challenge or provoke. For Christ's sake, there's not even a thriller to scare the blue-haired subscribers. The "new vision" that this company has is simply to use familiarity as an ally in its quest to delight, which is a vision shared by far too many community theaters around the country. Maybe someday we'll have digital playwrights!

And finally, I would like to applaud our governor, the one and only Arnold Schwarzenegger, for choosing the always-endearing roads of hate and oppression in his latest political move.

The star of "Raw Deal" and "Batman & Robin" announced that he plans to veto a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in California. With this one thoughtless gesture, he has fully displayed his homophobia, his disrespect for our Declaration of Independence and his complete abandonment of the bipartisanship promises that he made early in his campaign.

And the best part is that the governor's press secretary said that he still believes "gay couples are entitled to full protection under the law and should not be discriminated against based upon their relationship." Basically, he's saying "do as I say, not as I do, and don't go poking fun at those inferior beings."

It's good to know things like this. It's good to know that our declaration that "all men are created equal" does not apply if those men like other men. It's good to know that our leaders, the people chosen to represent us, reach D.W. Griffith levels of intolerance. It's good to know that we're still living in a society where it's considered okay to be feel threatened by someone simply because they are different.

It amazes me how little we grow past the days of elementary school recess, when compassion and tolerance are dwarfed by fear and humiliation. Maybe someday we'll have digital conservatives!

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