Spitzit’s House

Where serious topics come to relax

A Chainsaw Maid Halloween Costume!

My 9 year old daughter in her infinite wisdom and attraction to unique and gory halloween costumes this year elected to go as the Chainsaw Maid. I am very proud and happy that neither of my kids have ever had a desire to go for the conventional costumes you see at Halloween such as super heroes, princesses, cheerleaders, etc. I meam the sidewalks runneth over with Spidermans, Batmans, Cheerleaders, Princesses, Darth Vaders, etc!

At a very young age, I instilled in them the importance of original Halloween costumes, and that you can’t just dress the part, you have to act it as well. I personally have never lost any costume contest I have been in, and have felt it an important lesson to pass on to my children. These are important lessons in life, and if the other kids aren’t scared of you at Halloween then you aren’t doing it right. We had a one year lapse in judgment where they insisted on the lame princess and warrior costume, but since then it has been nothing but head turning gore. It is a thing of Halloween beauty.

The Homicidal Spider Clown – Made from scratch of her own imagination. This costume was both original, creepy, and downright terrifying for those that have a fear of small murderous clowns with a giant spider on their back.

The Mummy – Truly a classic that is rarely done, and is even more rare to see it done well. I have won contests with my mummy costume and it takes quite a long time to get it on and then get the rags looking old and ratty. Remember, you want the costume to look like a mummy that escaped an ancient tomb…not an accident patient that escaped an ICU ward at the hospital.

The Chainsaw Maid – This one is from the popular viral video on YouTube. A very gory claymation that that is absolutely spectacular and very doubtful that you will find another 9 year old girl in America wearing. She wore it tonight to the downtown Halloween party in our little city, and man did she turn heads. She was self conscious at first until she realized that the teenagers really recognized the costume and were giving her the thumbs up. She went out on a limb this year, but I think it was a home-run. Here is a picture and here is the video…judge for yourself….And before you freak out, she has never seen the video, except for the very end.

Viewer discretion is advised!

Advertisements

October 30, 2008 Posted by | Everything Else | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Election 2008: I voted…Have you? If you don’t care…then “Don’t Vote!”

Went this week and cast my early vote…Took me every bit of about 5 minutes. No line, no wait, no nothing. It was great. There were more volunteers working there than there were people voting.

If you give a damn…then I highly suggest getting your vote in now. If you don’t give a damn, well…Don’t Vote…Loser! If you procrastinate…then wait until election day and wait in a line that wraps around the the building…twice.

This is a tough election, with some tough choices. No doubt about it, this is as important an election as any we have had before. So when it comes to voting…you need to put up, or shut up.

Vote for freedom, because you have the freedom to vote.

October 28, 2008 Posted by | Everything Else, politics | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tour of Fried Foods at the 2008 State Fair of Texas

So…now that the Texas State Fair is officially over for the year, I thought now would be a good time to write my opinions on this year’s menu of fried food offerings. My logic being that I have in essence graciously thrown myself on the “fried food grenade”. Therefore, you can simply read about the experience without having to succumb to the misery, the calories, and the general health issues associated with taking in about 97,000 calories, 37,000 fat grams, and a whole other medley of heart stopping dietary statistics.

The date of the “Fried Food Tour of Death” (FFTD) began Saturday morning, October 18, 2008. These are the items I consumed, what I thought of each of them, and whether they got a thumbs up or I flipped them the bad finger. So here we go…

Chicken Fried Bacon – This was the first one I ate within 10 minutes of being at the fair, which was fitting since it was still breakfast time…and I love bacon. Really, though, bacon is good any time of day. My wife’s first comment was “whats the big deal about fried bacon? All bacon is fried, right?” To which I replied “actually, we microwave our bacon, and… this here is not just any fried bacon, it is chicken fried bacon!” This stuff was better than good…it was fantastic! It was early, I was hungry, and here was this heavenly little pile of deep fried bacon nestled in my little paper carton just waiting to be lathered up in ranch dressing and shoved hungrily into my big salivating pie hole. Definitely a double thumbs up. It rocked!

Fried Truffle – I learned an important lesson with this one. Just because I love chocolate truffles, does not mean that passion translates to it being fried. By far the messiest of the foods I sampled, this innocent looking little fried ball was actually more like a little chocolate meteor just waiting to be cracked open so it could spew its scalding chocolate lava all over my hand. Rich molten chocolate and hot frying grease just didn’t go well here. I shot this one the bird with one red and burned middle finger.

Fried Latte – This one was good…yet disappointing at the same time. You ask yourself like you do so many of the items ‘how do they fry a latte’?  Half of the experience is eating the food, but a big part of it is marveling at how they figure out ways to fry stuff that was never meant to be fried.  The answer in this case is that the latte is not really fried. As you can see, you have some “fried” little pieces of “dough stuff” on the bottom which is topped with a scoop of coffee flavored ice cream and then some whipped cream, and voila…”fried Latte”…NOT! It tasted great, but I still felt gypped. Reluctantly, I ate every bit of it…then I flipped it the bird.

Fried S’mores – I love me some s’mores, but one was actually enough this time. I was expecting this to be kind of gross, but was pleasantly surprised. The chocolate and marshmallow were blended nicely in a smooth creamy texture with a full rich flavor and just a hint of day old grease. I was only slightly miffed by the fact that there was no graham cracker present in this dish, so by definition it was not a true s’more. It would have been even better with the graham cracker, but was still delicious. I recommend a dry chardonnay with this one and give it a thumbs up and half of a high-five.

Fried Apple Pie – I was really psyched for this, and could not wait to see how they fried a slice of apple pie. I mean it is America’s favorite dessert, and now I was going to eat it fried…YAY! Wow, am I ever an idiot…I mean how many times in my life have I heard someone ask me through a drive-thru speaker “would you like fries or an apple pie with that?” That is exactly what this was…a McDonalds looking fried pie covered in whipped cream…and I paid the equivalent of $5 in coupons for it…D’OH!! This one got the double-bird…one for the pie and one for myslef.

Fried Chocolate Covered Strawberries – See the trend starting here? The fried stuff is mostly desserts, and so far they aren’t batting too well, so I was skeptical at this point. Fortunately, this turned out to be one of the better items of the day. Two chocolate dipped strawberries deep fried and skewered, and actually quite mouth-watering. I could have eaten more of these, but I really needed to leave room for lunch. These got a definite thumbs up!

Fried Grilled Cheese – The sad fact is that this one could be really good if done right…but in this case it was really bland and tasteless. I waited in too long of a line with great expectations for what turned out to be the biggest let down of the day. The sandwiches were batter-fried in what appeared to be panko bread crumbs to make them crispy, and were served with chips, a pickle, and a little cup of what I believe was tomato soup. I doused the sandwiches in salt and pepper and dipped it in the soup to give it some kind of flavor, but outside of that it was the most flavorless cheese and bread I have ever had. The chips and pickle were good though…but not good enough to keep me from flipping it the bad finger!

Fried Moon Pie – While I was waiting in line for the Fried Grill Cheese, my wife brought me the moon pie, which was a nice surprise considering that it was not on my original scheduled tour of foods. This actually was not as bad as it sounds. My only problem was that it was a banana moon pie, which I was never a fan of in the first place. I would have preferred chocolate, but evidently you were not given a choice. I thought it was OK, but my wife really liked it, so…thumbs up for the fried banana moon pie.

Fried Pineapple and Strawberries – I believe the official name of this item was “Fire and Ice”. I don’t know why it got that name other than the fact that it was evidently deep fried pineapple chunks, with drizzled frozen strawberry goo on top. It wasn’t great, but not terrible either. I ate it as a dessert to wash the dusty flavor of the grilled cheese out of my mouth, and it succeeded. It is important to note though, that while many things were not meant to be fried…pineapples rank toward the top of that list in my opinion. I would normally flip this one the bird, but it saved my taste buds from the lunch so it is a wash.

Fried Snickers – It is late in the day at this point, and just when I think I can’t eat another fried food for the rest of the year, I find a second wind and the will power to keep plugging along. I really thought the Snicker bar would do me in for good. Nothing sounded good at this point and my eyes were crossing and stomach churning, but I managed to eat it all for the sake of getting some good writing material. Like all Snicker bars this one resembled a fried turd that made my stomach lurch at first, but it was good if I remember correctly. I gave it a thumbs up and I promised myself no more…

Fried Oreos – And I broke that promise less than five minutes later. Man, were these things great and one of the highlights of the day. I never thought I could eat an Oreo without a glass of milk, but there is a first time for everything. Who knew that Oreos all warm and soft from soaking with greasy batter could be so good. Fortunately, my system needed just this fix of sugar and hot vegetable oil to keep me going for the home stretch. These definitely got a double thumbs up!

Fried BBQ – It is very late in the day now and I am just trying to unload a pocket full of coupons while I stagger my way for the exit. I am seriously close to over-dosing and convinced that some fried protein would be good for me. The fried BBQ is actually some pretty decent brisket rolled in an eggroll and deep fried…imagine that. Unfortunately, I was not feeling too well and my eyes were no longer able to focus which is why the remaining pictures suck. I did like the BBQ and gave it a thumbs up…but I could be wrong since all of my senses were kind of dull and discombobulated at this point.

Fried Green Tomatoes – A Southern staple and favorite, my wife insisted on getting these. Nothing in the world sounded good to me except a bucket of Tums and a bed. I did eat one of them, but my taste buds had checked out for the evening. What remained was a blurry vision of what strongly resembled fried grasshopper guts, and I resisted a very strong urge to hurl right there on the steps of the Pavilion. I closed my eyes and courageously choked it down like a Fear Factor champion and slowly raise my middle finger in victory…Must go home.

This was it, except for the giant smoked turkey leg my wife got with the remaining coupons on the way out of the door. So the 10 mile walk to the car was a torturous march of watching my wife and kids slowly gnaw the meat off a giant leg bone. UGH!

Also, I actually skipped the Fletcher’s Corn Dog and never got to the fried banana split, jelly beans, and a plethora of other fried foods that are available. I love the corn dogs, but they just take me out of the game so quick that I had to make the sacrifice this year for the sake of trying some other stuff. I just don’t think it is humanly possible to eat all the fried offerings in a single day unless you just have the stomachs and constitution of a cow. I guess I am just an amateur, but I did succeed in my tour and am glad I did it, but I do not recommend it for everyone. A food tour of this magnitude will result in a Texas size trip to the bathroom. You may need to take a couple of magazines and a crossword puzzle.

I do recommend putting some of these items on your list to try next year and I hope I saved you the time and money of trying some others. We will be having Chicken Fried Bacon for Thanksgiving this year and thanking God for blessing us with such a great fried food.

October 21, 2008 Posted by | Everything Else, Restaurants & Dining | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Story Review – The Mouse and the Snake ; a fable by Zane

This is a short story I read recently…so short in fact, that I have placed the entire story in this post. It reminded me very much of the “scorpion and the frog” fable, except that this one was written by an 8 year old boy that has never heard of the “scorpion and the frog”. This is his very own original story…

The Mouse and the Snake ©

Once there was a little mouse who liked to play, and one day he met a snake.
“Hello,” said the snake.
“Hello,” replied the mouse.
“Do you want to play?” asked the snake.
“I’m not sure” answered the mouse. “My family said that snakes eat mice.”
“Nope. Us snakes are really friendly.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes.”
“OK then” said the mouse.
And the mouse never came home.

So, what we have here is a new and original fable written unknowingly by an 8 year old genius. The snake, of course, has a long history represented in many different ways in many cultures. There is the snake of Genesis and Revelations; the snake you should not tread on in American history, and many others. In this fable, the snake could represent the same kind of cunning, and deceitful creature seen in the Bible. However, this fable isn’t really that complicated.

This really just represents the simple nature of things. Snakes can’t have friends, even if they want to. It is the natural order of things for them to eat just about any animal they can fit in their mouth. Also, mice may be frugal, industrious, and good at reproducing..but they are still scampering around the bottom of the old food chain of life. Moral of the story, “if you knowingly play with snakes, you are going to end up dead.”

Of course, my son,…I did mention the author was my son, didn’t I? I think he was just going for the shock factor of a tricky snake gobbling down a cute little rodent, and did so without actually saying it. The ending of his story is simply implied, which is Geniuuuus!

This is just my honest unbiased opinion, and I am sticking with it…until snakes and mice start getting married and having tea-parties together.

October 11, 2008 Posted by | Book Reviews, Everything Else | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Book Review – Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

Published in 2005, Anansi Boys spins a web (pun definitely intended) about a shy Londoner, Fat Charlie, whose father dies and he later finds out his old man was actually a god, and that he has a long lost brother that evidently inherited all the cool genetic god powers from their old man.

I had never read a Neil Gaiman book prior to this one, and he has definitely gained a new fan in me. Actually, I take that back…when I was reading the synopsis of this book, it obviously struck my interest, so as is my normal procedure, I wanted to know what else he had written. That is when I noticed The Sandman graphic novel series and Stardust. I was a pretty big fan of the Sandman back in the late 80s early 90s. I never was much of one for comic books or graphic novels, except for this one; and to this day it is the only one I have ever read and enjoyed. I did not read the Stardust novel, but I did see the movie with my kids which starred Claire Danes, Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer,  and absolutely loved it…I will read the book as well, I promise.

Anyway, with Anansi Boys I figured I was on to something good, so….

Fat Charlie, he is the main character of this story. He’s quiet, painfully shy, everything embarrasses him, and he is not fat…anymore. I like this guy because he reminds me of me when I was a kid.  Fat Charlie was born in the States, Florida to be exact, then he moved to London as a child with his mother when she left his father. All of the memories of dad are pretty much the things that life-long scars are made of. Not that his father was abusive or anything, but evidently he was quite the jokester and took great pleasure in the embarrassment and humiliation of others…including Fat Charlie. For starters, his dad is the one that nicknamed him “Fat Charlie”, and when his dad nicknamed something, it stuck…forever.

Fat Charlie is engaged to Rosie, who doesn’t put out until after marriage…or so she says. Additionally, Rosie wants to invite Fat Charlie’s father to the wedding much to his chagrin. Perfectly content in his miserable little existence, Fat Charlie receives word from the States that his father has died. After attending the funeral in Florida, Fat Charlie learns from one of the old neighbors that his father was in fact a god, Anansi the trickster spider god to be exact…oh, and that he has a brother as well. Of course, being the realist that he is, Fat Charlie is little overwhelmed by all of this crazy talk of gods and brothers and him being the stupid child.

But it doesn’t take long for him to summon up his brother, Spider, and sure enough he is the charismatic, good looking, and charming King of Cool! After just one night of fun and mourning for their father, Spider is messing up Fat Charlie’s job, horn-dogging on his once abstinent fiancee, and basically tipping over the boat that was once Fat Charlie’s miserable but predictably comfortable little life. So Fat Charlie turns to the group of “island lady” neighbors back in Florida to help him get rid of Spider. What he gets is a ticket to the end of the world..or the beginning of the word depending on who you ask. There he encounters many of the other gods, but gets little help from them, because apparently his old man has played a few too many tricks over the years and managed to piss off the whole god neighborhood.

One thing leads to another, and Fat Charlie unintentionally brings the wrath of his father’s old enemy down on his brother and himself, finds out his his boss is a villainous crook, and that he is not such a puss after all. Funny how stressful times will drive a person to do things they never thought possible of themselves and change their life forever.

Neil Gaiman is truly a wonderful story-teller with a great but twisted sense of humor which is what I loved most about the book. Gaiman also seems to have a real talent for taking brutal violence and making it funny. No matter how gruesome the death, the character never really dies to the reader if their ghost hangs around to haunt the story and continue the humor.

After reading the book, I did a little research and sure enough Anansi is or was a real spider-god of West African and Caribbean mythology or folklore, and he did own the right to all stories according to legend and was a cunning little trickster of a spider. Once you start to read about Anansi, then you may begin to see what he represents and what this book in turn represents in some fashion or another. I also learned that there is a movie adaption of this book in the works, so I will be eager to see how that goes.

Gaiman, you are a genius and I am completely envious of your writing talent. You encompass a style and grace that is rare and appealing to readers of all genres. It is not often that a book can make me laugh out loud. I definitely recommend this book to anyone and I look forward to reading Gaiman’s other “stories”.

This is my conceited opinion, and I am sticking with it…until a massive flock of crazed birds tries to peck my eyeballs out.

October 10, 2008 Posted by | Book Reviews | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Restaurant Review – The Cheesecake Factory – Frisco, TX

Recently had lunch at the Cheesecake Factory for the first time ever. They have been around for many many years and I was probably the last person on earth that had never eaten there…that is until last weekend. Suffice it say that it was my first and probably the last time I will eat there.

It is lunchtime at Stonebriar Mall in Frisco, and generally I would take the family in to Dave & Busters where we could have a decent meal and then spend some quality time with my children capping crazed zombies with sub-machine guns in the vast arcade. I love that place. However, on this particular day we decided to try something a little different, so we walked into the Cheesecake Factory right next door. The place is always packed, so I figured there has to be something good about it, right?

Well as it turns out, it was not such a great experience after all. First, one would assume that a restaurant called “The Cheesecake Factory” would be a family friendly restaurant where you could take your kids and have a merry old time. Not the case at all…they have no children’s menu. That’s right, no menu for the little kiddos. We asked for one and were politely advised that they do not have a separate menu for children but the appetizers are perfect size for dividing among two children. Therefore, if you are going to eat here with kids, be aware that they are going to have to order what is most likely a $10 to $15 entree or appetizer. If you have multiple children like me, there is in fact plenty of food for them to split a single entree or appetizer…if you can get them to agree on which one it will be. Most any parent knows you have better odds of being hit by lightning.

The other thing that I didn’t think was very tasteful was that the first 7 pages of the menu are all specialty drinks and beers from the bar. So we sit at the table and the waiter places 4 menus in front of all of us, and within 30 seconds my 8 year old son proclaims that he will be having the “Flying Gorilla” for lunch. He’s an 8 year old boy…of course he wants the “Flying Gorilla”…it sounds fun, its cool…except for the fact that it is packed with alcohol. That, I explained to him, is an “adult drink” and you can’t have it, to which he tried to argue that it had ice cream, bananas, etc. etc.. I started flipping pages to get him to the regular menu, which is when I realized that actual food does not start until page 8…WTH! And from there is what seemed to be another 190 pages of food menu items.

I like an extensive selection on a menu, but this was ridiculous. I would guesstimate that they probably have more than 100 different selections on their food menu from appetizers to salads to entrees (all of this but no child’s menu I might add again).  I could have spent an hour just reading through it all trying to figure out what I wanted. Finally I just decided to split the appetizer sampler platter with my wife. The kids competed in “rock, paper, scissors” best 2 out of 3 to determine who would be selecting their dish, because that is the only fair way I can handle these kind of issues. Oddly enough it works.

Let me also speak to the fact that I hate sitting at tables that have chairs on one side and then a long bench on the other and tables lined down the bench about 12 inches apart. We had a couple sitting to one side of us and a group of teenage girls to the other side of us, but in reality we are all pretty much at the same table together. We can hear everything they are talking about and vice versa, and everyone is checking out each others plates to see what you are eating. The girls were going to a party that evening and had been shopping for what to wear and talking about Tiffany’s new boyfriend, Mark, and how Lisa’s ex is such an ass…but he’s cute. The couple on the other side of us were Eric and his new girlfriend of about a month and they were all lovie-dovie with each other, and he is evidently not happy in his software developer job but she loves being a teacher, blah blah blah! These kind of seating arrangements in restaurants should be outlawed. I hate them…everybody hates them…and that is because they suck. Just a little tad of privacy would be nice.

Our appetizer platter was huge and the food was really good. Our neighbors at the table seemed to be interested in it as well and I almost expected them to reach out and help themselves. The kids ate the “sliders” with chicken and they weren’t bad either. The food here is good but that is not the issue.

The issue is that this is a place I would not recommend to anyone with children, and yet I looked around and there were children everywhere. I wondered if the adults were thinking what I was thinking. I asked some friends this week and they all advised that they had eaten there once, and would not be returning for the same reason with their kids. If you are young, single, have no kids, or have grown kids, you will probably love it…if you don’t mind sitting with strangers. If you have kids and you don’t mind them trying to order a rum and coke from the menu, then you may like it as well. Not for me though, I would rather be killing zombies with my kids in Dave & Busters.

That is my final opinion…until I get a free coupon in the mail offering me a lifetime of meals at no charge.

October 8, 2008 Posted by | Restaurants & Dining | , , , , | 2 Comments

Restaurant Review – Love and War in Texas in Plano – dinner

Yes, that is the name of the restaurant…Love and War in Texas (LAWIT). It is a mouthful and so is the food. Located in Plano, TX, at the corner of 75 and E. Plano Parkway, LAWIT had somehow managed to escape our attention for quite sometime. After reading a small write up on the restaurant in a local magazine, it sounded like something unique and we decided to give it a shot last Friday evening. Fact is, I really gave it more than a shot…I over-shot. Let me explain.

The restaurant menu is based strictly on cuisine that the great state of Texas is famous for, and is then divided into the five regions of the state.

The West Texas Plains – Famous for its sprawling ranches and cattle country, this section of the menu is where you will order steaks such as T-bones, Filets, Ribeye, Strips, etc.

The Hill Country – Famous for its hunting and wild game, this section of the menu offers up wild game entrees such as Texas Nilguy Antelope, Venison, Quail, and wild boar.

The Border – the region where true Tex-Mex was born, you can order up classic dishes such as fajitas, enchiladas, tamales, and stuffed peppers.

The Gulf Coast – This section caters to seafood lovers with Blue Crab stuffed Portabellas, Fish Tacos, shrimp, oysters, and so on…

East Texas Piney Woods – No Texas menu is complete without chicken fried steak, fried chicken, catfish, and barbequed baby back ribs.

Obviously, I can’t eat everything on the menu…but I was sure as hell going to give it my best shot. Therefore to start we ordered the “Waltz Across Texas” appetizer which would give us a little taste from each of the regions. Problem is, it wasn’t little at all. At about $14, this appetizer plate could have been a full meal for two people. They do not skimp on the portions at all and I should have known that going in…this is a restaurant themed on Texas after all and everything is big here. This gynormous appetizer plate included Wild Boar Quesadillas, chicken flautas, fried green beans, and Beaumont Bugs (fried crawfish tails). All of it was unbelievably delicious and I could not stop stuffing my face with food. I have never had wild boar, and the meat in these quesadillas was incredibly tender and tasty. The chicken flautas, fried green beans, and crawfish were all excellent and we, mostly me, ate every single bit of it. Our waiter, Todd, tried to take the plate on a couple of occasions and I refused to let it go as I continued to graze on it while I ate my entree.

Being in an adventurous mood for food I decided to go for the Hill Country section of the menu where I ordered the “The Hunt” which was a mixed grill including an Antelope Filet, smoked venison sausage, and grilled quail. I substituted the garlic mashed taters for what turned out to be a humongous fully loaded baked potato and the Texas Caviar for the smoked corn on the cob. The antelope was extremely tender and juicy, the venison sausage was a little bit tough around the edges like smoked sausage often is, but still excellent, and the quail was…messy to eat just like it always is. Nothing like biting tiny morsels of meat off the tiny little bones of a tiny grilled bird. The smoked corn on the cob was fantastic as well. I don’t know what else to say except that I ate it all whilst washing it down with a Shiner Bock and felt damn good about it. My wife had the Blue Crab stuffed Portabella which I also had a taste of and like everything else, it was just another paradise on a plate.

For a dessert, I went with my staple fave, Peach Cobbler with a scoop of vanilla. After everything else, the cobbler was just the proverbial final straw that may make the camel explode in the restaurant. As we walked back to car, I decided that I would not be able to drive home…not because I drank too much, but rather because I felt like I had eaten a basketball. I had eaten so much that I could feel my stomach stretching and complaining ‘dude, you are going to have run a lot of miles and fast for a week to make up for this meal’.

Part of me was ashamed for slamming down so many groceries it would make Dom Delouise blush…but I couldn’t help it. When the food is good, you eat and forget about being full until you are walking to the car. Then it hits you, and you feel like blacking out from a euphoric food overdose. It was worth it though and we will definitely be back. The service was good, the food was outstanding, and I can’t wait to go back.

Also, for those of you that like live music, they have an awesome outdoor patio area where live bands perform on the weekend. The music was good from what we heard when we were leaving, and it looked like a real party happening out there. We will try it out on the next visit.

This is all just my radical opinion and I am sticking with it…because I could barely move after eating here.

October 2, 2008 Posted by | Restaurants & Dining | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Review – The Road by Cormac McCarthy

The Road by Cormac McCarthy was published in 2006, and won the much coveted Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2007. This is a difficult review to write because this is one serious and profound book, and yet I am compelled to find something shallow and humorous to say in what is a completely humorless book.

I was recently browsing the list of Pulitzer prize books to find something that would stimulate my inner literary genius, when I cam across The Road. ‘Man and son traveling cross country in a Post-apocalyptic world’. Sounded fascinating and exciting and so we set out to 1/2 Price Books to immediately get started on what was sure to be an adventurous story. Afterall, Cormac also authored No Country For Old Men, All The Pretty Horses, and Blood Meridian which all became or are becoming motion pictures, as well as a slew of other popular books that I have never read.

Before I even cracked the book open, images of Kevin Costner in Waterworld and The Postman were already swirling in my head. These were awful movies, of course,but entertaining just the same and I was certain that The Road would be the God Father of all Apocalyptic stories. I was salivating to start reading and as soon as I read the very first page …’Oh My God’ I thought to myself. I quickly thumbed through the rest of the book…’NO, OH NO NO NO NO!’ There were no chapters, there were no quote marks…just page after page of what appeared to be small lyrical paragraphs that were going to be just like the first page. I panicked, and asked my wife to listen as I read the first page aloud to her. “Did any of that make sense to you?” I asked her. Of course it didn’t, and my worst fear was becoming evident. I was about to embark on a journey of some 270 plus pages of nonsensical poetry. UGH!

I resisted the strong urge to put the book down, and pressed on determined to finish the book whether it made sense to me or not. I’m truly glad that I did, because I really enjoyed the book and managed to finish it in just a couple of days. For me, the book was very profound, yet very simple, and deeply moving. How is that, you ask? Well, it just was and it is hard to describe.

The two main characters are known simply as the Man and the Boy. There are no names, and the region itself is relatively anonymous other than it is in the US. Some kind of undescribed catastrophic event has taken place in the past ten years, and the world is now a desolate gray place, unable to sustain life of any kind. There are very few survivors left, and in the midst of all the nothingness, it is quite evident that Good and Evil have both managed to survive and Evil seems to be running up the score.

There is no sun, no moon, and no stars due to the ever present ash obscuring the sky. The days are gray, and the nights are black…pitch black. There are no animals, no birds, no bees, no bugs, not even any roaches. The trees are all dead, the rivers are black, and the rain, snow and ocean are all gray. The world itself seems to be completely cold, silent, and dead. The man and his son are traveling the road south to find warmer climates, while trying to avoid the occasional marauding gangs of cannibal survivors. The boy was born into this world and has no preconceived notion of any other kind of world that existed. The mother…well, she is no longer around simply because she did not have the will to go on.

I’m cold

I know

I’m hungry

I know, I am too

I’m scared

It’ll be alright

OK

The verbal exchanges are brief and to the point. This novel is graphic and disturbing in some of its literary images, and silent and completely depressing in others. It paints a grand picture of complete hopelessness and how some manage to eke out survival despite it all. So here is where I break down what it meant to me, and is not to be interpreted as the true meaning of this book at all.

For me, this book is about life and even more about death. It is about good and even more about Evil. It is about hope, but more about hopelessness. It is basic primordial human nature and how we struggle against the fear of death and evil within ourselves. The Road for me signifies Time, and how it continues on with or without us; How we are trapped by it, with no real choice but to follow it with only the slim hope that around the next curve or over the next hill something better is going to be waiting for us. Sometimes there is and mostly there is not, and either way, it is always fleeting and temporary. The only thing that the Road guarantees is that you will die here and it will continue on. The man seemed to represent that basic humanity as he struggles to remain human in the face of hopelessness and the imminent end. The boy, well, for me he seemed to represent the future; A future with no knowledge of the past, and the tiny glimmer of hope that good could prevail while Evil would eventually devour itself. The world that McCarthy paints in this book is our world and there is nothing in it that does not already exist today. However, he has done a magnificent job of simply stripping out everything, and I mean everything, so that the reader has to focus on the cold hard reality. Imagine humanity as we know it stripped of all distractions…no color, no noise, no movement…no love. Pure nothingness. The only emotion is basically fear and the will to survive. Where each day is basically the same as the one before, and everything hinges on evading the inevitable embrace of death one day at a time.

If that all sounds real deep and depressing, that is because it freakin’ is. When I finished this book, I checked on my kids in their beds, kissed them, went to my kitchen and opened the pantry door and stared at all of the food and canned goods and thanked God for all of it. I don’t even like black-eyed peas, and yet I am still so glad I have a can in my cupboard. I resisted the urge to start opening cans and begin eating like it might be my last supper.

Granted, The Road is not at all what I expected it to be when I read that first page. In fact, it turned out to be something entirely different, but better. It is one of those rare books that you read, and when you are done, you truly take something away from it; something that affects you, makes you think…and it is something different for everybody I would imagine. It is no doubt a lit teacher’s wet-dream, chock full of all kinds of symbolism, irony, and other literary stuff, but I am not for one second going to try and tell anyone what old man McCarthy was trying to convey when he wrote this book.

I am very happy to see that Viggo Mortensen will play the man in the movie to release in November. Charlize Theron as the wife?? Don’t get that since there is barely half a page dedicated to the wife in the whole book, but I won’t argue about seeing Charlize in anything. Add Robert Duvall and Guy Pearce and you have a pretty star studded feature film based on a book that really has very little interaction or characters other than the man and the boy.

On a side note, one thing unique or irritating about the book is Mccarthy’s writing style. He has no use of quotation marks or other important grammatical points, and therefore it is sometimes difficult to tell who is speaking or if they are speaking at all. The book is indeed written in a lyrical prose kind of style and I have the distinct impression that he makes up words from time to time, or just uses really obscure words to make the prose sound more intelligent, poetic, or whatever. At any rate, many will undoubtedly consider his style genius, but to me, it sucks when obscure words are used that I don’t know or have never heard of. It makes me want to reach for a dictionary which then just distracts from the flow of the story. I personally find it pretentious and unnecessary, but what do I know? I am just your every day dummy who likes to read, and old Cormac is quite possibly the Hemingway of his generation.

Loved the book, and would recommend it to just about anyone, But you really have to be an open-minded reader with a taste for a bit of necessary gore and a hard dose of death and hopelessness.

This is really just my incredibly intelligent opinion, and I am sticking with it…until the end of the world and someone tries to eat me.

October 1, 2008 Posted by | Book Reviews | , , , , , , | 1 Comment