Christmas on the Road

On Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, that is:

The orange light of the fire. The boy’s hollowed out face—by hunger and fear. The man handed him something, wrapped in an old shred of newspaper he’d found in what had once been a basement and was now a tomb. He closed his eyes against the rat eaten bodies and worse of his imagination. What is it, the boy asked, looking at the words, trying to decipher an existence he had never known. Take off the paper, the man said. The boy removed the paper carefully, his look more concerned than excited. What is it, Papa? An iPhone, the man said. Oh no shit, the boy said.

Hee. Read the whole thing. It’s too bad Bob Hope and Bing Crosby aren’t around to make The Road into a movie.

I too am having Christmas/Hannukah on the road: we set out this weekend for points South. (I know, Hannukah’s been over for a week, but my daughter doesn’t know that.) Posting here will either be less frequent or more, depending on internet connectivity and post-egg nog energy levels.

The first week of the new year will find me at the American Historical Association’s annual conference in Washington. Drop me an email or a comment if you’re going to be there. I’m posing as a Canadianist on a roundtable about “Writing the Transnational Political History of North America,” though somehow that buzzword “transnational” got left out of the official program. I will try to post a teaser for the session over the next week or so; my contribution will certainly draw on the fine conversations about transnational history we’ve had at Cliopatria and Mode for Caleb over the years.

Edit: Excitement, she wrote! A panel at the AHA sponsored by the Historians of Film Committee features a paper by Cynthia Miller called “Defending the Heartland: Technology and the Future in The Phantom Empire.” What is The Phantom Empire, you ask? Oh, it’s just the insane science fiction singing cowboy serial from 1935 in which (this phrase has delighted me for years, you understand) “robots prepare to torch Gene Autry.”

Robots prepare to torch Gene Autry.

Robots! Gene Autry! Preparation for torching!

Happy holidays.


  1. The link to the singing cowboy versus science fiction robots (and mention in that link of singing zombie cowboys) reminds me of my favorite Superman story:

    In a story written and drawn by Jack Kirby, Jimmy Olsen discovers an abandoned scientific lab that has a planet about twenty feet in diameter in it. This planet conforms to visual images it receives, and had been left with old monster movies being shown to it on a nearby projector. So the entire planet is filled with tiny vampires, mummies and werewolves, who apparently can travel to our earth and grow to human size in coffin shaped spacecraft. The now regular sized monsters are scaring people off and causing problems, so Superman decides to swap the monster movies for the only other movie in the lab. Which happens to be the most wholesome, family friendly, goodnatured film Superman can think of: Oklahoma!

    Then Superman just leaves the planet there. So there is a tiny planet full of singing cowboy vampires and squaredancing werewolves sitting in some abandoned building in Metropolis.

  2. That is… just… I… but… er…

    Silver age Superman was soooo trippy and out there and stupidly excellent. And yet every time they make a Superman movie, it’s just Lex Luthor with a wig and a real estate development scheme.

  3. wow. Wow. I was so happy with the “The Road” parody- I read it on Xmas vacation because, in spite of how heavy I figured it would be, there were no other books worth reading in the Target @ St. George UT. It was one of the giantest bummers EVER. So thanks for the levity. And. Plus I loooorve sangin cowboys (Sons of the Pioneers anyone?) But the Superman story in the comments has changed my life.

  4. But the Superman story in the comments has changed my life.

    You and me both, Russell.

  5. Wob,
    Don’t forget to amend yer copyright statement at the footnote of your pages, it’s now 2008 😀

  6. Good catch, my friend. Of course, I’ll have to post something in 2008 to warrant making the change.

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