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Man, It's A Hot One. Here Are Some Ideas For Staying Distracted From The Heat


It is historically hot for millions of Americans this weekend. In such scorching times as these, it's good to drink lots of water, seek out air-conditioned places. And when all around you seems on fire, think cool thoughts. We want to help.


VANILLA ICE: (Singing) Ice, ice baby.

SIMON: Like you didn't know that was coming.


VANILLA ICE: (Singing) Vanilla ice, ice baby.

SIMON: Here are three of our NPR colleagues with ideas about what you might watch, read or hear to help get into a cold state of mind when it's hot outside.

GLEN WELDON, BYLINE: I'm Glen Weldon. I'm a panelist on Pop Culture Happy Hour. So when it gets like this, I want to watch movies with characters stranded someplace cold, remote, fighting to stay alive - bonus points if they got beards because then you get to see their breath freeze in the hair around their lips and turn into little mouth-sicles (ph).

So there's "The Revenant." Leo DiCaprio gets mauled by a bear and makes this arduous journey back to civilization, crawling through deep snow, frozen rivers. It is miserable and perfect to watch right now. There's "The Grey." Liam Neeson is a wolf hunter, and his plane goes down in wolf territory. So you see where this is going. It's him against the alpha wolf, mano a mano, or mano a wolfo (ph), I suppose. And, of course, John Carpenter's "The Thing." Kurt Russell is stranded at a research station in Antarctica, and he's not fighting a bear. He's not fighting a wolf. He is fighting a shape-shifting alien.

Now, all these movies end the same way - with their heroes cut off, alone, slowly freezing as snow falls softly around them. And how awesome does that sound right now?

BARRIE HARDYMON, BYLINE: I can't talk about snow without acknowledging that Russian literature is veritably laden with it. I'm Barrie Hardymon, the WEEKEND EDITION books editor. The book I am recommending to you does have Russian roots. It's based on a Russian folk tale about a couple desperate to have a child. They create one out of snow, and it comes to life.

Eowyn Ivey's book called "The Snow Child" reimagines this story and sets it in her native Alaska. It's about an elderly couple named Jack and Mabel. They make their own child one day out of newly fallen snow. The next morning, they wake up, and the figure they made is gone. But there are little footprints running away from the pile of leftover snow.

The book is this sort of meditation on what it means to be a parent, also what it means to live in a - in the harshness of this wintry landscape, which is what I know you're really in it for - the, like, descriptions of hexagonal fern patterns on snow, bears running across ice. I mean, it is a very, very cold place. But you will be left with a warm feeling in your heart, which I know is the only place that you want a warm feeling. So for my money, this is the weekend you should be reading Eowyn Ivey's book "The Snow Child."


TEGAN AND SARA: (Singing) Dark, you can't come soon enough for me. Saved...

DAOUD TYLER-AMEEN, BYLINE: Now, if it's cool music you're looking for to get you through hot weather, you could do worse than the 2007 album "The Con" by Tegan and Sara. I'm Daoud Tyler-Ameen. I'm an editor at NPR Music. The whole album has a really autumnal feeling. It's the moment and Tegan and Sara's career when they've really figured out how to get acoustic guitars and synthesizers to play nice together.


TYLER-AMEEN: And there's just something about those textures overlapping. I don't know. It's kind of like seeing the warm colors in the trees and feeling the chill in the air at the same time. It's also a very ambivalent-feeling record. It's great for when it feels like everyone around you is partying and having fun, and you're not quite up for it.


TEGAN AND SARA: (Singing) So what? I lied. I lie to me, too.

TYLER-AMEEN: So if summer's not your season, if you love your friends but you need a minute, Tegan and Sara's "The Con" is the album for that.


TEGAN AND SARA: (Singing) Hold out for the ones you know will love you...

SIMON: Heat wave distractions from our coolest colleagues. This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Glen Weldon is a host of NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast. He reviews books, movies, comics and more for the NPR Arts Desk.
Barrie Hardymon
Barrie Hardymon is the Senior Editor at NPR's Weekend Edition, and the lead editor for books. You can hear her on the radio talking everything from Middlemarch to middle grade novels, and she's also a frequent panelist on NPR's podcasts It's Been A Minute and Pop Culture Happy Hour. She went to Juilliard to study viola, ended up a cashier at the Strand, and finally got a degree from Johns Hopkins' Writing Seminars which qualified her solely for work in public radio. She lives and reads in Washington, DC.
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