Oil has fouled the Gulf of Mexico, the weather's hot and getting hotter, and there's talk the Tampa Bay Rays could leave town. Could this be the end of civilization?
After all, former Beverly Hills, 90210 "star" Tori Spelling passed through the area in late July for a book signing and people actually lined up to meet her.
Need more proof? Turn on the Discovery Channel. If an asteroid doesn't vaporize us then a super volcano will.
To quote Geena Davis from that classic 1980s horror flick, The Fly: "Be afraid. Be very afraid."
Or, then again, gear up, get down and get ready for the Apocalypse.
Friends often tell me that if they were stranded on a desert island, I would be their ideal companion, but not because I'm a particularly accomplished conversationalist. It's just that I don't mind eating bugs and drinking from puddles covered in pond scum.
In fact, I actually look forward to a good survival session every now and again. You know … slip on a pair of army boots, strip down to my loincloth and start searching for road kill …
No, wait … that is my new favorite author, Forrest Griffin.
Devotees of the New York Times' Sunday Book Review probably never heard of Griffin. That is a good thing.
Griffin, author of Got Fight? The 50 Zen Principles of Hand-to-Face Combat, included a warning on the front of his latest effort: "This book was written for idiots by idiots," which is exactly why I stayed up all night in my underwear and read it cover to cover.
The Georgia native is one of the top-ranked light-heavyweight mixed martial artists in the world. The 6-foot, 3-inch, 205-pound former political science major won the first season of Spike TV's The Ultimate Fighter and has been a fan favorite ever since.
So what does this have to do with the Great Outdoors?
Well, for starters, the guy is named Forrest. And his new book, Be Ready When the Sh*t Goes Down: A Survival Guide to the Apocalypse, does make some vague references to important outdoors skills, i.e., how to bust a wild bronco, fold a map and milk a giraffe (hint: you'll need a ladder).
But don't listen to me. Here is what Griffin's mom had to say: "This book is an unholy abomination. It will make you dumber for having read it. Judging by the content, you would think he grew up eating paint chips."
While Griffin readily admits that he hates the outdoors, and there are better books out there on the subject (see U.S. Army Survival Manual FM 21-76), he does have what it takes to make it through any difficult situation: Attitude, with a capital A.
Survival experts will tell you that you need to pack waterproof matches, compass, Swiss army knife, signal mirror and whistle if you want to make it home after your plane crashes in the Amazon.
Then again, you could be like Griffin: buy a digitally remastered copy of Escape from New York and memorize every Snake Plissken line so when you do find yourself stranded in the jungle you won't think twice about crowning yourself king of the howler monkeys and building a real empire.
Survival, in the octagon or in the bush, is all about state of mind. If you find yourself on an overturned flats skiff adrift in the Gulf of Mexico or stuck in three-hour ballet recital by 6-year-olds, proper mental toughness is the only thing that will pull you through.
Griffin's book may not be for everybody. In fact, if you find a guy with a breechcloth, Bowie knife and mutton chop sideburns utterly offensive, stop now, do not pass go or collect $200.
But if you want to kick back on the beach and have a good laugh while you wait for that 500-foot tsunami to obliterate this subtropical peninsula, buy this book.
Author's note: This book is recommended for men and boys, ages 14 to 94, and women and girls who want to learn to speak their language.
Terry Tomalin, who wishes he had a loincloth made of gator hide, was in or on the water 22 days in July in keeping with his New Year's resolution. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org as long as the electricity is on.