How Does One Beat the Heat? Try Descending Into Icy Madness

Jack Nicholson on ice in The Shining

To cope with the heat wave, advisories suggest visiting 'cooling centers' or public pools. To achieve a truly chilled-out state of mind, however, why not open the door to your mind and let the iceman cometh inside?

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

The Thing

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

The Shining

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

Fallout 3

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.

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.

Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less

Very few of their peers surpass Eurythmics in terms of artistic vision, musicianship, songwriting, and creative audacity. This is the history of the seminal new wave group

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee's yearly announcement of the latest batch of potential inductees always generates the same reaction: a combination of sputtering outrage by fans of those deserving artists who've been shunned, and jubilation by fans of those who made the cut. The annual debate over the list of nominees is as inevitable as the announcement itself.

Keep reading... Show less

Barry Lyndon suggests that all violence—wars, duels, boxing, and the like—is nothing more than subterfuge for masculine insecurities and romantic adolescent notions, which in many ways come down to one and the same thing.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) crystalizes a rather nocturnal view of heterosexual, white masculinity that pervades much of Stanley Kubrick's films: after slithering from the primordial slime, we jockey for position in ceaseless turf wars over land, money, and women. Those wielding the largest bone/weapon claim the spoils. Despite our self-delusions about transcending our simian stirrings through our advanced technology and knowledge, we remain mired in our ancestral origins of brute force and domination—brilliantly condensed by Kubrick in one of the most famous cuts in cinematic history: a twirling bone ascends into the air only to cut to a graphic match of a space station. Ancient and modern technology collapse into a common denominator of possession, violence, and war.

Keep reading... Show less

Award-winning folk artist Karine Polwart showcases humankind's innate link to the natural world in her spellbinding new music video.

One of the breakthrough folk artists of our time, Karine Polwart's work is often related to the innate connection that humanity has to the natural world. Her latest album, A Pocket of Wind Resistance, is largely reliant on these themes, having come about after Polwart observed the nature of a pink-footed geese migration and how it could be related to humankind's intrinsic dependency on one another.

Keep reading... Show less

Victory Is Never Assured in ‘Darkest Hour’

Gary Oldman in Darkest Hour (2017) (Photo by Jack English - © 2017 FOCUS FEATURES LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. / IMDB)

Joe Wright's sharp and only occasionally sentimental snapshot of Churchill in extremis as the Nazi juggernaut looms serves as a handy political strategy companion piece to the more abstracted combat narrative of Dunkirk.

By the time a true legend has been shellacked into history, almost the only way for art to restore some sense of its drama is to return to the moment and treat it as though the outcome were not a foregone conclusion. That's in large part how Christopher Nolan's steely modernist summer combat epic Dunkirk managed to sustain tension; that, and the unfortunate yet dependable historical illiteracy of much of the moviegoing public.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.