Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Road to Leftovers

In which I discuss old food, and the quest for old food in "The Road."

I eat leftovers. Old ones.

There, I have said it. I'm not ashamed. I hate wasting food and have been known to eat things that have been in the refrigerator long enough to receive four weeks' vacation each year. Freezer burn can be fun! Dinner goes from a tedious affair, to a special surprise, since you don't know what you'll be eating until it's defrosted. Sometimes not even then.

N. does not share my enthusiasm for green cheese and grey meat. While I prefer to rely on the "stink test" to determine the safety of most items found in the fridge, she prefers more conventional methods. Personally, I think that "best if used by" dates are a guideline, rather than a rule. I mean, if it said "absolutely do not use after this date," that would be one thing. But it's really just a suggestion. And then there's the "sell by" dates. Well, I bought it by that time, didn't I? Once it's in my fridge, obviously, time stops and I can eat it until it decides to leave on it's own volition.

Anyway, in the interest of protecting herself from my toxicity experiments, N. has started marking items with a date after they've been liberated from their original packaging. In some cases, such as the taco shells picture above, that information was not available. As you can see, her dating convention accounts for this situation as well.

I had leftover tacos for lunch yesterday... mmmm....

Moving on down the road...

On the subject of old food, we happened to watch this movie "The Road" the other day. The majority of this film involves a man and his young son clawing their way around a burned-out post-apocalyptic world looking for old food, since nothing will grow any more.

This movie is based on the pulitzer prize-winning novel of the same name by Cormac McCarthy. Because I am functionally illiterate (I just finished reading my first book in 14 months last week) I had never heard of the book. No matter, though, because had I known this fact before watching the movie, it is certain that my disappointment would have been that much greater.

I am going to level with you. And this may expose me as a boorish, MTV-generation loser with the attention span of a gnat.

I did not like this movie. At all. It was an exercise in bleakness. It's not that I can't handle slow-paced movies. I can. But when the high point of a movie was watching Viggo Mortenson finally wake out of his depression long enough to defend himself against a bow-and-arrow attack using a flare gun, it's time to consider the appropriateness of the medium.

What I'm saying is, perhaps this was a great book. Apparently there are droves of people out there who are entertained and inspired by a story of survival in a grim, hopeless world. Maybe, as a novel, one finds much insight into the character of humanity, finding life and clinging to morality in a lifeless world. I don't know, since I did not read the book. All I got from the movie, though, was scene after mind-numbing scene depicting the end of civilization and the pathetic fool's quest of two of the handful of survivors. It was basically like watching a cancer patient's last two hours of life.

Apart from the pure unpleasantness of the watch, there was no effort made to explain what this was all about. Perhaps this is not important for the movie's target audience (obviously, not me) but if you are going to create a vehicle for an end-of-days character study, at least make it plausible.

Something seems to have wiped out all life on earth, including every plant and animal. Yet somehow, a number of humans survived. What an odd catastrophe! Was it nuclear? Disease? Are some humans just miraculously immune to the effects of whatever it is that made the entire earth look like an abandoned Detroit suburb in January? And all along I thought it was the cockroaches that would survive.

I realize that for the literati, the backdrop of a story is merely a stage. The grey landscape and the brutal conditions are a canvas upon which a story is told. But if these deplorable conditions defy any conceivable reality, then what we have is an excercise in academics. It is no different than an economist demanding that the world must behave rationally, because in a village of three people, it always does. There is no such village. The oversimiplified setting detaches the story from any kind of reality. It makes it impossible for me, the viewer, to evaluate and absorb the emotions and actions of the actors in any substantive way, because I do not believe it. Each of the handful of confrontations on this Odyssey between our anti-heroes and the few other survivors is specifically contrived, altogether implausible, and consequently without weight.

Anyway, I can't recommend this film, unless you need something to put you over the edge on your plans for an oxycontin overdose.


Alex said...

You should check out Zombieland, which is basically the same plot, with zombies. Which of course makes it way better.

Chris said...

I disagree with you about it being a bore. While I haven't read the book, and I'm on a similar lack of literature phase as you are, I found the movie to be great. Though when I saw it in theaters I had just finished Fallout 3, so post apocalyptic worlds were already fresh in my mind...
I do admit that the background being hazy and the ending being almost as uncertain might have taken away from it for some people. I feel that it was done purposefully so that we could focus on the story/struggle of the Father and Son as they aimlessly wonder the bleak shell of a world hoping that what ever is over the next hill will be some unknown sanctuary.
But hey, to each his own.