I live in Florida (or, as one friend calls it, Flori-duh), so the best we can hope for in winter is some slight relief to the endless heat and humidity. Right now we’re running a good ten degrees above normal for this time of year, our poor excuse for “winter.” Not shocking, certainly, though my Internet penpals across the country are reporting similar temperature oddities.
Al Gore’s powerful documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, arrived in our movie theaters a few weeks after it had opened everywhere else. I guess I should be grateful we got it at all, since many other independent films never see the light of day around here. It’s one of the few films I’ve seen where the audience applauded it heartily. It generated nearly as many parking lot discussions afterward as Fahrenheit 911 did.
This Saturday, I’m having an Inconvenient Truth viewing party. I’m providing the popcorn and the television (no big-screen monitor, alas!), and friends who want to stop by at 7 will see a film that at once depresses and inspires to action.
And just to give you something to think about in the interim, here’s a great column from Mark Morford:
Nine Uncommon Ways to Keep Warm
Frigid weather got you down? Warm the heart of your cockles with these smokin’ tidbits
By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
(1) First and foremost, warm yourself in front of a nice Duraflame fire as you hone jokes about global warming. Say things like “Oh my God, so this is what they mean when they say the planet’s weather systems are becoming more volatile and unpredictable,” ha ha wink wink, as we all whistle past the graveyard and remember that 2006 was the warmest year we’ve ever known and New York recently hit a record 72 degrees in January even as Napa Valley drops to 21 degrees and icicles give the next orange crop the kiss of death.
Note how the energy industry is racing to build 150 brutally pollutive new coal plants by 2011, before Congress wakes the hell up and starts enacting stricter environmental laws, and that one of the nastiest coal companies, TXU of Texas, is rushing to complete 11 new pollution-spewing coal plants that will collectively pump out the toxic equivalent of 11 million SUVs. Feel your heart sizzle in pain as you guess which side the Bush administration is on.
Side note: If you are from a red state and don’t really understand the concept of global warming and still think it’s all a big left-wing conspiracy to sell more Prius’ and science books and gay-causing tofu, be sure to make jokes about how it sure doesn’t feel warm, what with it being all, you know, cold and stuff. Remain too mistrustful of “goddamn liberal media” to notice how this joke is only funny to 5-year-olds. From Texas.
(2) Amuse self into cozy warmth with anecdotes about wimpy Californians who think 30 degrees is somehow “cold,” when in fact you grew up in Chicago or Minneapolis or Michigan and/or dated a struggling anorexic cosmo-swilling model named Genevieve from New York and therefore you really know cold.
Laugh derisively at alarmist Bay Area headlines about how Californians need to bring in their wimpy pets and delicate girly plants when the temps drop below 40 lest they all freeze and whimper and die. Feel somehow superior even as your teeth chatter and your toes go numb and your girlfriend refuses to walk around your drafty S.F. apartment wearing only tiny boy shorts and a smile because it’s so freakin’ cold and you refuse to turn up the heat because PG&E charges you 25 dollars a minute.
(3) Read the swell item about how George Bush’s White House often refuses to allow press photographers to take still shots of the prez after important speeches, a relatively unprecedented and obnoxious move designed to control the president’s image that forces media to either use generic White House handout shots of Dubya (over 500 handouts in five years) just standing there, looking wooden and lifeless and bland as milk, or low-quality video screen-grabs.
Note how the last speech was also a historic, soul-bludgeoning announcement that Dubya has decided to defy just about the entire planet and send another 21,500 American kids to Iraq to risk their lives in a desperate Hail Mary move born of an imbecilic warmonger of a commander in chief who harbors delusions of some sort of valiant, epic legacy but whose reign of brutal misprision will actually go down as one of the bleakest, most irresponsible and morally humiliating times in American history. See? Your face is already getting hot with rage. Or rather, it should be.
(4) Consider: dead birds recently shut down part of Austin. Barn owls are dying by the thousands in Idaho. Well over 5,000 birds of varying species have dropped dead in Esperance, western Australia, and scientists still have no idea why. Record numbers of birds are dying from an unusually large viral outbreak in England. Meanwhile, mysterious metal objects fell from the sky in New Jersey, and numerous United Airlines employees who swear they all saw something very, very strange hovering in the night sky over O’Hare airport last fall are told by the government that they’re just being silly. Coincidence? Very likely. Is there such a thing as coincidence? No way. Warm self over open flames of this happy and mysterious contradiction.
(5) Mix three parts rum to two parts vodka to one part cinnamon schnapps. Add a chug of Worcestershire sauce, a splash of Tabasco and a generous sprinkle of red pepper flakes. Carry large tray of this white-trash rocket fuel over to the nearest frat house and hand out shots of skanky death juice to anyone wearing a backward baseball hat and a sports jersey and eyes that scream “future associate VP of a Texas coal company.” Come home, strip naked, pour yourself a large glass of Pinot, climb into a hot bath and warm your soul in the knowledge that you will never become a Republican.
(6) Did you know that the experts who work at the Grand Canyon are not permitted to discuss the geological age of the famed giant hole with visitors because of the Bush administration’s love of small-brained creationism? That they are commanded, in other words, to ignore science, fact and truth so as not to offend twitchy biblical literalists? It’s true. In fact, you can still buy the book The Grand Canyon: A Different View — in which you learn fun facts like how the canyon was created by Noah’s flood, not by geological forces — in the visitor’s bookstore, right now.
(7) Tie this item in with the bit about the new $27 million animatronic museum in Kentucky, where humans and dinosaurs are depicted as co-existing in a religious nutball-approved scenario that actually took place (they claim) a mere 6,000 year ago. Your intellect will be cringing so vigorously you’ll be warm through June.
(8) Smile slyly as you note how gay evangelical preachers abound, anal sex is up, dildo design has improved radically in the past decade, Violet Blue is published on this very site, Dan Savage helped kill Rick Santorum, the orgasmic iPhone will easily play your porn clips and more honest and invaluable sex education is available via blogs and books than ever before, if you know where to look.
In other words, enjoy the heat generated in your groinal region over the fact that, despite furious outcry from the uptight and the perturbed and the sexually shriveled on the religious right, enlightened sexuality still manages to progress and evolve and offend and confound and inspire and titillate and sigh.
(9) Sigh even deeper as you read how David Beckham will be paid $250 million to play soccer for the L.A. Galaxy for five years, which translates into about $2.5 million per game that no one will actually watch and which is the equivalent of what Mel Gibson made in about a week of sales of little pewter nail necklaces from the “Passion of the Christ” swag store and which is also equivalent to what Tom Cruise has paid out (I’m just guessing) to the Church of Scientology lo these past many years so he may become OT-8 (Operating Thetan Level 8), which means he knows the “secret” of the “great battle” in which alien overlord Xenu enslaved the human race 75 million of years ago by using H-bombs and volcanoes and blah blah whatever.
Note the rumor that Becks and wife Posh might indeed be turning to the cult of Scientology per their friend Tom’s “suggestion.” Warm yourself with the knowledge that you don’t really give a flying Hubbard’s E-meter about any of this, except to note how the United States is actually spending about $250 million per day in Iraq and that David Beckham sure has great hair and that when you combine all these notions your id whipsaws and your perspective heats up like a polar ice cap and you can only realize that this life is one very convoluted, gorgeous, disturbing circus sideshow indeed.
And hey, if that chronic fact doesn’t keep you warm at night, nothing will.