There are bright sides to these dark days. With the Mercury's Winter Survival Guide, learn to weather the weather with the ferocity of a thousand mountain men-- or, if all else fails, get super-knackered and pass out til spring!
Edited by Phil Busse. Compiled by Winter Survivalists Erik Henriksen, Julianne Shepherd, Justin Sanders, Katie Shimer, Marjorie Skinner, Manu Berelli, Phil Busse, and Wm. Steven Humphrey
Photos by Burk Jackson (www.jacksonimagery.com),
Just because I've totaled two pick-up trucks does not disqualify me as an expert snow driver. I'm still alive, right? And even from accidents, we can learn lessons, right?
Driving home one Christmas, I wrapped my pick-up truck around a big oak tree in Ohio. The impact pushed the engine through the dashboard and caused the windshield to explode. It was quite a sight. But I walked away with only a concussion and 17 stitches in my throat.
First thing that I learned from this "mishap" was, in the future, to go with the flow. With little or no friction under your wheels, you can't wrestle your car around like you would with dry pavement. It's more like surfing than dancing. Always, small, gradual movements. Steer with the turn. You'll regain control faster.
Also, the nice part about wiping out in the snow is that, assuming objects are far away, your braking distance about triples, which means you have almost three times as long to make decisions. Don't freak! Don't slam the brakes (unless, of course, you have anti-lock brakes, then SLAM away.)
The most important pointer that I can give you is practice. Find an empty parking lot (Meadow's lower lot after hours is good). Get a good head of speed (25-mph plus) and then yank the emergency brake. This will send you into a tailspin. From here, practice straightening out your vehicle by steering with the spin. Or, if you would rather go for the carnival ride effect, try steering against. (Warning: Results May Vary) PB
HOT TUBBIN' LOVIN'
When it gets cold and wet, it's also time to get hot and wet. Winter is the best time to get into a hot tub. Outdoor hot tubs are the best because you can be naked in the cold, and then slip right into a nice, hot, watery paradise.
Don't have a hot tub? Neither do I. But you probably have tons of friends who do. Don't wait for an invitation, just call them up and tell them you're bringing over a couple of bottles of champagne. Or show up unexpectedly with champagne and pretty friends--there's no way they can turn you away.
If you'd rather, you can go to one of the public spa/hot tub places around Portland. You won't be able to drink champagne (usually), but hot tubs are great places to meet swingers.
Inner City Hot Tubs, outdoor garden setting, 2927 NE Everett, 238-1065, $9 an hour during the day, $10 at night.
Open Air Hot Tubbing, 11126 NE Halsey, 257-8191, noon-6:30 pm, $22 for two, per hour; 7 pm--until close, $34 for two, per hour. (Cable TV with every hot tub)
Montavilla Motel, private hot tubs in rooms, 320 SE 99th, 255-4664, $85 per room.
Portland Tub and Tan, indoor tubs, with outdoor tubs available soon, 8028 SE Stark, 261-1180, weekdays 9 am-11 pm, weekends 9 am-1 am, $20 per hour before 6pm, $30 after. MB
MOVIES ON THE CHEAP
Winter is a great time for going to the movies--which is a great way to put you in the poor house. If you love flicks, but hate the way they treat your wallet, there's a cornucopia of restaurants, bars and bowling alleys ready to assist you in your cheap cinematic needs!
Pix Patisserie (3402 SE Division): Do you love Pix Patisserie's adorable desserts? Then you'll get a sugar high for their Tuesday night movie series. Specializing in flicks with a candy/culinary/kiddie appeal, Pix is a great place to put the weight on while watching such movies as Princess Mononoke, Tampopo, and The Muppets Take Manhattan-- for FREE. This Tuesday? The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin at 5:30 pm.
Grand Central's "Theater Underneath the Alleys" (808 SE Morrison): Visit the land down under--the parking garage underneath the Grand Central Bowling Alley, which also happens to be Portland's newest cinema space. Showing independent films by local artists, the "Theater Underneath the Alleys" covers three city blocksÉ so there will always be plenty of seating. Check out Mercury film times for the next FREE showing, and stick around for the after-film dance party.
Sinister Cinema at DV8 (5021 SE Powell): On the third Sunday of every month DV8 opens its doors to local filmmakers, offering them a place to show their wares. Called "Sinister Cinema," this mini-film fest features the best of Portland's independent filmmakers. This Sunday the 14th features work Rebecca Rodriguez, Todd Robinson, and the nationally known shorties of Nick Lyon. It starts at 8 pm, and is, once again, FREE.
Tuesday Night Flicks at XV and Old Town Pizza (15 SW 2nd, and 226 NW Davis): If you're not in the mood for artsy, then how about getting fartsy with the Tuesday night films at XV and Old Town Pizza. After enjoying a delicious meal at XV, have an equally delicious cocktail and witness the mental carnage of South Park: The Movie (this Tuesday at 9 pm for FREE). Or if you're in a pizza mood, truck over to Old Town Pizza and catch Chevy Chase in his prime in Fletch at 8 pm (only two bucks!).
Mercury Winter Prozac Film Festival (Clinton Street Theater, 2522 SE Clinton): If you love the heckling, drunken fun of the Mercury's Summer Movie Megathon, then you'll poop your britches for the Winter Prozac Film Fest. More weird movies, more sing-alongs, and (most importantly) more beer and heckling. It's coming in early February. Stay tuned for the exciting line-up! WSH
DANCE IT OFF!
One of the unfortunate side effects of winter in general, and depressing winters specifically, is the pudge. You know, when everything seems like a chore, so instead of going out all the time, you sit on your ass watching fucking Sex And The City tapes (don't lie about it), and eating high-carb comfort foods like macaroni and cheese.
Sure, blubber keeps you warm, but mostly it just exacerbates your glum funk. Instead, why not keep your spirits buoyant and your Barbie-like bikini figure firm by dancing. . .as much as possible? Whenever possible!
What is especially inviting about dance clubs around town is that they are warm. Heated by the warmth of gyrating bodies (as well as a heating bill paid by someone besides yourself), you can actually prance around in the same halter tops you were wearing mid-July!
Here's a short list of regular nights to get you started. Together, you and me, dancing and grinding, we will get through the long, shitty winter together:
*Easy Moods w/DJ O.G. One (neo soul, classic r&b); Brickstones, 909 N Hayden Island (inside Doubletree hotel), Thursdays, 8 pm, $5
*Dance & Tell w/DJ YesNo ('80s), Lola's, 1332 W Burnside, Fridays, 10 pm, $2
*The Backroom w/DJs Fauxpaus, Carrion, Lovemurder (goth much?), I.C.M., 332 NE San Rafael, Fridays, 9 pm, $5 (free before 10:30)
*DeathByDisco w/DJ Teenage (disco & hiphop), Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison, 2nd Fridays or Saturdays (this Friday!), 10 pm, $3
*Ghetto Blaster w/DJs Scene, Juggernaut, Wicked, DMP (hiphop), Icon, 125 NW 6th, Fridays, 10 pm, $5 (two for one w/student ID)
*DJ Magneto (hiphop & breaks), Goodfoot, 2845 SE Stark, 1st Fridays
*Atlas w/DJs Anjali, E3, The Incredible Kid (bhangra, Asian garage, hiphop) Holocene, 1st & 3rd Saturdays, 9 pm, $5
*Swing Dance, Nocturnal, 1800 E Burnside, Sundays, 7 pm lesson & 8 pm dance, $6, All Ages
*Queer Night w/DJ Tronic (techno), Level, 13 NW 6th, Sundays
*DJ Mello Cee (hiphop), Ringlers Pub, 1332 W Burnside, Mondays
*Breakdown w/DJs Stormy, Puppet, Jen, Yeah Yeah, Sit 'N Spin (rock, hiphop & electronica), Cobalt, Tuesdays, 9 pm, donation
*Throwback Tuesdays w/DJ Evil One (old school hiphop), East, 322 NW Everett, Tuesdays, 9 pm, free
*Culture Shock w/DJ Wicked (classic hiphop), Fez, 316 SW 11th, Wednesdays, 10 pm, $3
*Crush w/DJ Roomate vs Riddim (drum 'n' bass), Ohm, 31 NW 1st, Wednesdays
MAKE YOURSELF A MERRY LITTLE MEXICO
In the dead of winter, as you're huddled next to the toxic fume-spewing warmth of your propane-fueled space heater, it's common to fantasize you're somewhere else. Someplace warm. No--someplace hot! Someplace like Mexico. (Or, Bermuda, Hawaii, Africa . . . even Florida.)
Why not step past the fantasy? Create a cozy space in your own home that mimics the warmth and leisure you associate with a Mexican holiday--your very own "poco Mexico!"
Here's how: Choose a space in your house that is relatively small. This will minimize the effort and materials you'll need for this redecorating project. (If you redo the whole interior of your house and you're bound to feel like you're living in the Tiki House at Disneyland.) A half bathroom, a closet, or part of your basement all are appropriate spaces. Or, put up a screen or a curtain in the corner of your room--just as long as there's a place for you to retreat when you can't shake the grip of gray skies and rain.
Once you've plotted out the location of "Little Mexico," it's time to decorate. If you own your house or have a neglectful property management company, paint the walls of Little Mexico with a sunny beach mural, a tamale cart, a Gallo beer can, etc. --tap deep into your inner Don Johnson. (Renters with nitpicky landlords: simply use pictures and posters instead of paint.)
Adding knick-knacks like hula girls, Mariachis, mini stuffed Chihuahuas, or anything else will further aid easing your mentality into the exotic locale you've selected. If you choose someplace like Hawaii, keep a candy dish with macadamia nuts in there! And hey, if your space is big enough, tack up a hammock or lay down a beach towel--yeah, you get the idea.
Most important, once you've created your Little Mexico, stash a boom box in there with a CD of salsa music or Miami booty bass ready to go. Yeah, now you're living la vida loca. MS
STAYIN' DRY ON TWO WHEELS
Considering that Portland is one of the world's wettest cities, it is kind of amazing that it also has become one of the most bike-fanatic cities in the world. Day after gloomy day, through the dismal, rainy winter months, thousands of Portlanders commute on bike. No, these crazy riders don't know some secret about how to stay warm and dry that you don't. Most likely, they are as cold and wet as they look (as you pull up alongside them in your warm, dry vehicle). If you wanna ride, you gotta prepare for some discomfort. But there are certain steps you can take to minimize the pain.
All the raingear in the world can't save your face and your ass from the spraying water your wheels kick up. Fenders are the most basic tool any rider must have to protect themselves from brutal weather. The wind and rain will still land on you from above, but you and your bike will be safe from the attacks from below. Truly, any old fenders will do, but we recommend paying a little extra ($30-$50) for some sturdy, yet removable ones. [Planet Bike are a tried and true brand.] Removable fenders work just as well as the permanents, and will last even longer because they won't be stuck to your bike year round.
With 60 percent of your body heat exiting through your head and hands, caps and gloves are the best ways to stay warm. Keep 'em covered! A decent windproof, waterproof biker's cap can usually be found for $20-30. Wearing a normal wool cap will make your helmet fit funny. (And PLEASE don't be an idiot; if you're going to ride in slick conditions, just suck it up and put on a goddamn helmet. Head injuries are so unbecoming.) Gloves are super cheap at any army surplus store or Goodwill.
Honestly, with fenders, gloves and a hat, you can skip the latest Arc'Teryx Sigma LT $250 windbreaker and stay relatively warm and dry. Instead of the expensive gear, simply put on a layer of polyprope and cover with $10 windpants and a jacket. JWS
MUD FOOTBALL & BB GUN BIATHLON
Even if you don't want to drive 90 minutes to the mountain, there are plenty of winter sports right here in town. In fact, the steady rain and non-freezing temperatures make an ideal recipe for mud football.
Mud football is played according to bastardized NFL rules. The city is full of ideal mud football fields--there's one at Grant High School along NE 33rd; unused soccer fields also work. Whatever field you find, divide it roughly into half, breadth-wise. That's your 50 yard line. Unlike "real" football, you don't make a first-down by going ten yards. Instead you have four downs to reach the midway point; and, after that, another four downs to score a touchdown. (There are no field goals allowed in mud football; field goals are only for sissy teams like the Detroit Lions.)
If you are too brittle for full-on tackling, mud football rules mandate at least two-handed pushing. Simple, gentle brush touches don't count! Don't worry. The ground is as soft and forgiving as a baby's butt!
If "true" winter sports are more your style, how about biathlon or bobsledding? Despite common perceptions, snow is NOT necessary for either of these classic winter Olympic sports.
With a pair of rollerblades and a BB gun, you too can become a Nordic biathlon skier. Mark out a loop at a large, empty parking lot. Also, set up a few empty beer or pop cans in a line. Using a belt or duct tape, strap the gun to your back. Then, go! With a friend timing you, skate as fast as you can around the loop. When you reach about 50 feet away from the empty cans, stop, drop to your belly and FIRE! For every can that you miss, you must skate a penalty lap. Fastest time wins.
Or, if the pavement is too slick, set up an indoor course around your home. (Since it is unwise to shoot BB guns indoors, we recommend finding a target OUTSIDE the house--it must, however, be a target that is viewable and shootable from your front door or from an open window. You don't necessarily even need to go outside and set up cans as your target. A neighbor's porch light or window works just as well.) Like the outdoor course, skate around the indoor perimeter of your home. When you reach the front door (or open window), stop and fire!
For bobsledding, a Fred Meyer shopping cart works as an apt replacement for the traditional sled. Find a good hill. (We recommend one without traffic.) For experts, make sure the course has at least one banked turn. At the crest of the hill, position your four-person team at each corner of the shopping cart-sled and begin scurrying.
You should work out a command--one word, like "go" or "in"--that, when spoken, will cue everyone to simultaneously jump aboard. (One simplification from "real" bobsledding is that shopping carts normally don't come equipped with brakes, so you won't need a brakeman!) PB
When I went to school in rural Vermont, there was this student who lived in a cabin off campus. The cabin was miles away in the middle of nowhere. During the ever-present winter, he would snowmobile onto campus to attend classes and do errands. He never spoke to anyone; he just whirred around campus on his snowmobile, dodging pedestrians and professors.
One night, he left the snowmobile running as he went into the library. A friend of mine--who shall remain nameless--commandeered the vehicle and rode it off. The rightful owner of the snowmobile followed the obnoxiously large tracks until he found it parked in the Dean's parking spot, still running.
You're only going like 16 mph, but it feels like 60 mph when you're hopping over moguls and jumping it off of snow piles. And if you fall off, you can ditch into a nice, soft snow bank. I never had so much fun!
If you want to try it yourself, here are a few places that have rentals available. MB
SK Ski Doo Rentals, 1447 NE Sandy Blvd (right across the street from The Sandy Hut, dude), 284-6447 for reservations, $195 all day for Summit 550, $235 Grand touring 600 sleds two seating 600cc Summit 600 High Output (for deep powder riding). Damage deposit and driver's license. Trailers are $25 per sled. (Maps, helmets, and instructions are provided.)
Cascade Snowmobiles Rentals, 56532 E Fernwood, Sandy, Oregon, 503-622-6404 for reservations. Only allowed at Frog Lake Snow Park, Skyline Snow Park, White River East Snow Park. (Skyline Park has a warming hut with a wood stock, and picnic tables.) Weekdays $75 for 2 hours, $134 for 4 hours, $180 for 6 hours; weekends and holidays $90 for 2 hours, $160 for 4 hours, and $200 for 6 hours. (Includes one tank of gas.) Provides helmets, maps, AT cell phone and First Aid gear.
HOW TO START A FIRE
Supposedly "modern" heating techniques like "heaters," "insulation," and "clothes" are damn-near useless compared to the most time-honored way of staying warm: fire! Whether you're stuck outside or if your asshole landlord finally made good on his threat to shut off the heat, starting a fire is as easy as 1-2-3!
1. Gather tinder--dry stuff that can easily catch fire, like grass and leaves, or torn-up newspaper. You'll need a bow, too--a branch or twig that you can tie a string (say, a shoelace) tightly across. Also, you'll need a larger, flatter piece of wood, with a small notch hacked out of it.
2. Place a stick (about the size and strength of a pencil) in that notch, then wrap the string from the bow around it once. Hold the stick with one hand, and with the other move the bow forward and back--get the stick to spin fast enough to cause enough friction to get some embers going.
3. Once you see smoke eking up from the hole, quickly remove the stick and attempt to dump the embers into the tinder. Blow softly on the tinder until more smoke appears, then add larger twigs, sticks, logs, student loan bills, etc., working your way up to a full-size inferno. EH
SIX WAYS TO STAY WARM THIS WINTER
1. It is a misconception that drinking makes you warmer. Alcohol dilates the peripheral blood vessels in your body which gives stupid people the illusion of being red-faced and toasty. In actuality, you end up losing more body heat due to evaporation, sucka!
2. Heat a cookie sheet in the oven 30 minutes before going to bed, wrap it in a towel and slide it under your comforter at the foot of your bed. You'll stay warm throughout the night, and when you wake up you'll have toe-funk cookies.
3. Take an old hoodie (or steal one from your girlfriend, boyfriend, pre/post op transsexual lover, or the homeless guy who sticks his finger in you from time to time). Put the hood part on your head and wrap the sleeves around your neck like a scarf. It will make you look like an avant geek--a cross between Audrey Hepburn and Moby--and people will love and respect you.
4. If you pay for heat and electricity in your apartment but not water, take lots of scalding hot baths. After you get out, put on burn salve and as many layers as possible to keep the heat in (see # 5 or watch the movie Spider for details).
5. The key to dressing warmly is layering. I myself am a big fan of the short-sleeved shirt over the long-sleeved shirt under the thin sweater followed by the thick sweater, topped by the lightweight coat and finished off with the Nanook of the North Parka. You'll look fat, but you'll be laughing at all the people with frostbitten nipples (and by "laughing" I mean you'll have a hard-on).
6. Stay warm like Luke Skywalker in Return of the Jedi by making a "Tonton Out of a Stray Dog." This may seem self-explanatory, but you'd be surprised: the most important thing is to find an appropriately sized dog. A cocker spaniel ain't such a good choice. Once you've found a Great Dane--or, say, a Bull Mastiff--coax him over to you with some Baco-bits and eviscerate him with a pocket knife. After that, it's pretty simple; just pull out the big pieces and crawl in. Close the fur around you and leave only an opening for your head. In a few minutes, you should feel toasty warm. (Note: no real dogs were harmed in the making of this article.) JBR
AND NOW, A SERIOUS (ADVERTISER-FRIENDLY) NOTE FROM JOHN DOOLEY: Put a Monkey In Your Pants!
Wait! If you're really cold, stuffing a chattering monkey in your drawers will only add to your discomfort. Instead, put down that snowboard and tuck in a few of the fine products from Monkey-Logic, a Milwaukie, Oregon based company that deals in instant reusable heat source technologies. Perfect for warming those private and precious parts of yours.
Monkey-Logic products come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and are priced from $5-60. Soft, rubbery heat packs range from compact hand warmers that can fit under your cap or down your pants, to full spread one by two foot green saline-filled body wraps that heat to 130 degrees in seconds with the touch of a button!
The products are a 100% improvement on those old hunters' flaming giant Zippos that have scalded human flesh for as long as anyone can remember.
Other products in the line include a face pack with eyeball and mouth holes, and a ten-inch round pack that fits into stadium pillows to keep your tush warm even at the coldest sporting event. The saline filled packs then stay hot for up to two hours. That's more than I can say for my ex-wife!
Monkey-Logic, logicalheat.com, Mall 205: I-205 & SE Washington Street, 702-8623.