The thermometer icon on Web browsers and smartphones are all deep red; wafts of steam float from the very devices. Every 24-hour news outlet is breaking out special graphics featuring melting ice cubes and flame-throwing, menacing sun. Air conditioners are defiantly fighting against a weakened power grid and temperatures top 100 degrees. Every moment spent outdoors reveals a new batch of previously undiscovered sweaty pores, and it seems like any second, now, the collective faces of American people may melt clean off, revealing a grimacing network of bone and muscle.
The heat wave continues, and it’s hot out, darn hot.
To cope with the heat wave, advisories are being issued to visit cooling centers, indoor malls, public pools, or my favorite, movie theaters.
However, while those may all be good ideas, there’s also the psychological benefit of simply thinking about cold weather, to help one cope with the rising temps. To beat the heat and achieve a chilled out state of mind, observe this diet of cool pop culture (along with a second-place scoop) that not only features wintry weather, but makes you actually feel like the iceman cometh.
Some Positively Chilling Flicks
When it comes to film, there’s no shortage of great cold-weather candidates to make you feel positively icy. Dr. Zhivago, Fargo, The Ice Storm, A Simple Plan, Groundhog Day and the first act of The Empire Strikes Back all feature Old Man Winter prominently. The cold is never more palpable, though, as when it’s dead scary, which is why John Carpenter’s The Thing makes for the best wintry cinematic mix to combat the heat. When a team of researchers in Antarctica discover an alien spacecraft – and are then infiltrated by the mimicking parasitic alien – paranoia sets in amongst the humans isolated in the bitter wasteland. The 1982 film still injects ice into the spine with some of the best monster effects in movie history (R.I.P., Stan Winston). After watching this one, and listening to Ennio Morricone’s theme music, you’ll be running outside into the glaring sunshine, seeking warmth.
Second scoop: The eerie 2008 Swedish vampire flick Let the Right One In.
T…T…Text That Will Make You Shiver
Although the 1980 film adaptation directed by Stanley Kubrick definitely feels cold with cool blue visuals and imagery of an iced-over hedge maze and a frozen solid Jack Nicholson, it’s Stephen King’s 1977 novel that truly chills to the bone. For more than 400 pages, readers are treated to the descent into icy madness as loving father and struggling writer Jack Torrance is tormented by the ghosts of the Overlook Hotel (which was based on Colorado’s famous Stanley Hotel after King’s stay there). With Jack and family, including his psychic-medium son Danny, voluntarily snowed-in at the hotel as winter caretakers, the weather serves as an imposing, forbidding character that prevents escape from the haunted locale. The movie is a classic, but the book is more satisfying; it’s a long, frightening read that will distract you from the heat and turn that sweat trickling down your back icy cold.
Second scoop: The White Witch’s snowy domain in C.S. Lewis’ 1950 book, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – before the meddling Pevensie kids thaw it out.
Draw the Curtains, Crank Up the Fan (So Long as the Power Holds) and Bask in the Cool Blue of the Boob Tube
The Simpsons: “Mr. Plow” episode
The ninth entry of its fourth season, “Mr. Plow” ranks as perhaps the best Simpsons episode. Ever. Chronicling the epic battle between competing snow plowing personas Mr. Plow (Homer) and Plow King (Barney), it also features a creepy/fantastic Adam West cameo (long before Family Guy thought it was cool, natch), and a great Linda Ronstadt appearance. Plus, the 1992 episode is bursting with well-known and obscure pop references. Set against a snow white background (until God gets involved), the show especially cools off the hot mind with a finalé set on the frozen Widow’s Peak. As the temperatures rise, it’s best to chill out with repeated singing of this famous jingle: “Call Mr. Plow, that’s my name. That name again is Mr. Plow.”
Second scoop: The holiday classic, The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974) starring the supernatural snowflake-man, Snow Miser.
Close Your Eyes, Open Your Ears, and Chill
The Beatles Revolver
To channel music to make you feel cold, it’s helpful to create a playlist of depressive, somber or lovesick tunes (preferably with piano-driven ballads) that cool the soul. Coldplay’s album XY and Modest Mouse’s The Moon and Antarctica can have that effect, as well as Radiohead’s In Rainbows. Despite the heat wave appropriate “I Melt With You”, Modern English’s album After The Snow belongs with most of the music by The Cure, Joy Division, The Smiths and solo Morrissey. Sufjan Steven’s “Sister Winter” song fits, and to battle Katy Perry’s “California Gurls”, include The Magnetic Fields anti-Cali winter anthem “California Girls”. Despite certain tracks with an over-the-top sunny disposition (“Yellow Submarine”, “Good Day Sunshine”), The Beatles’ 1966 masterpiece Revolver provides the best soundtrack to combat the heat. It features some reflective, quiet or sad songs- - “Eleanor Rigby”m “Here, There and Everywhere”, “For No One” – that make it a solid chilling-out album that doesn’t depress.
Second scoops: Vanilla Ice’s “Ice, Ice Baby” and Foreigner’s “Cold as Ice”.
Ice ‘em in Shooter Games
The third installment of this popular first-person shooter video game series takes place 200 years from now in “retro-futuristic” Washington, D.C. The city lay decimated after a brief nuclear war between the United States, China and other countries. Released in 2008, the game focuses on an inhabitant of an underground fallout shelter who searches the surface world for his missing father. The character must battle mutants and evil humans in a world of decay, not unlike those of I Am Legend. While not technically taking place during winter, the gameplay gives you a good, icy scare. Plus, there’s enough action happening to take your mind right off the heat. If it’s a post-apocalyptic winter setting you crave in video games, just download the “Operation Anchorage” add-on for Fallout 3 where the player must re-enact a famous battle with the enemy in Alaska.
Second scoop: The satellite control station levels in Severnaya, Russia, off the coast of Siberia, in one of the coolest games ever, the 1997 first-person shooter James Bond adventure GoldenEye 007.