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Five Ways to Dig Winter in Columbus for $5 or Less

614now Staff

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Five Ways to Dig Winter in Columbus for $5 or Less 

by Nelle Smith


I’ve had enough of people complaining about winter. Yeah, it’s frequently freezing (or topsy-turvy warm and wet) and you just lost your left glove again, but there’s still plenty to do. In fact, I think Columbus is a pretty stellar place to survive winter, and I’m prepared to prove it.

Here are five of my favorite Columbus winter activities…all of which you can do for about five bucks each. (See what I did there?)

1. Go to Los Gauchos — but not on taco night

I acknowledge the obvious: Los Gauchos makes a mean taco al pastor. This little taco — made with succulent slow-roasted pork and flick of pineapple — got big press a few years ago when it landed on the Food Channel as one of the top tacos in the country—and you can get it for half off on Monday nights at both Los Gauchos locations.

So why skip taco night this winter? Because Wednesday is $2 gringas night, and I think it’s way better.

Gringas feature the same pork as their more famous cousins, but they’re bigger. You get way more meat for nearly the same price. And, best of all, if you go on Wednesdays you skip the taco night crowd. (You’re still stuck inside, but, hey…at least you’ve got a table to yourself.)

Price: $4 for two gringas

Winter benefit: You’re warm from the salsa…not from being wedged in a taco line.

2. Catch a free day at the Columbus Museum of Art

Sundays are free days at the Columbus Museum of Art — and even if you don’t aspire to be Michelangelo yourself, viewing the pieces in the museum is a worthy way to spend a winter afternoon. CMA boasts a fine collection, including works by such greats as Mary Cassatt, Paul Cezanne, Pablo Picasso, and Agnes Martin, and hosts traveling exhibitions on a regular basis.

If you’re not convinced by any of the “official reasons,” consider this: there’s something genuinely calming about a walk in a museum in winter. Don’t ask me why. It’s a universal fact. So go! Get your exercise. Reflect. Enjoy the winter quiet. (Just don’t irritate the docents.)

Price: $5 for parking (maybe free if you’re lucky and can find a meter closeby, meters are free on Sundays)

Winter benefit: Something to look at that isn’t the television.

3. See a movie at the Gateway on Super Tuesday

Sure, the Gateway Film Center plays your normal Hollywood crackerjacks. And, yes, from the outside it looks like a normal theater. But, actually, it’s also the kind of theater that hosts a twelve showing marathon of Groundhog Day, and plays 2001: A Space Odyssey in 30 mm film, and screens documentaries that no one has heard of except your neighbor with a handlebar mustache.

In other words, it’s great.

So go see an odd movie, dammit. Tickets are five bucks all day on Tuesdays and include free popcorn and, we presume, an unlimited pass to the drinking fountain.

Price: $5 tickets on Tuesday

Winter benefit: You’re watching a movie and you’re not freezing to death. What more do you want?

4. Take a walk in Highbanks on a snowy afternoon

In my humble opinion, Highbanks is the shining jewel among Columbus Metro Parks. It’s full of ravines and winding paths and hills just steep enough that pretending you’re in optimal physical shape might be a little more trouble than usual. It’s also completely overrun on beautiful weekend days.

But you’re in luck, because it’s winter, it’s snowy, it’s freaking cold, and no one wants to go to Highbanks in such dreadful weather. Except you.

Because on a lonely weekday when the snow is falling, being completely alone in the woods of Highbanks is an experience not to be missed. Trust me.

Price: Free

Winter benefit: An actual experience of actual winter. Bundle up, Buttercup.

5. Read a big old book at a big old library

They’ve prettied up the Columbus Metropolitan Library headquarters, and, boy, is it shiny.

It’s also a pretty good escape in the wintertime. Thanks to the attached garage, parking is super cheap and a breeze, and, unless you take a wrong turn of epic proportions, you will encounter absolutely no freezing, wintry substances on your walk inside.

Once inside, the big reading room feels airy and vast, with room to stretch and breathe — it’s a good antidote to winter claustrophobia. And you don’t actually have to read there, of course. Take any quiet project, a puzzle, or a computer with headphones. Electric outlets are plentiful. Plus, there’s an attached coffee shop and a hall that rotates art exhibitions.

Plus, it’s a place that’s not your house.

Price: A buck or two for parking

Winter benefit: Didn’t you always say you’d read War and Peace someday?

What do you think? Do you have any secret wintery spots that you want to share with the rest of Columbus? Comment below!

For more of Nelle Smith’s work, you can visit her website/portfolio.
Photo by Nick W.

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Arts & Culture

Ohio animator creates tribute, parody video of DeWine & Acton

Wayne T. Lewis, Publisher

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Video at bottom of story

About three weeks ago, when the world was starting to fall apart, Dave Stofka was looking for something to take his mind off the stream of daily bad news. A freelance web developer and animator since 2007, Stofka had just the idea.

"I watched Governor DeWine and Dr. Acton's press conferences, and all the Facebook comments I was reading conveyed a sense of great appreciation of their leadership. At some point I jokingly thought to myself that all they need is a theme song. Growing up in the days when every show had a theme song, the "Laverne & Shirley" theme popped into my head for some reason, said Stofka.

With some encouragement from his wife, he dug into the project putting to work his previous experience making animated parodies. Stofka says he put about 100 hours over 2.5 weeks into the video project.

"I knew technically how to pull it off. The jokes started flowing the more I worked on it and bounced ideas off my family and a couple friends. It snowballed from there," said Stofka.

The 1:20 video offers a light-hearted take on the state government's efforts - led by DeWine and Acton - in combating the coronavirus pandemic. The video is based on a hilarious take on the "Laverne & Shirley" theme song, performed by Stofka's friend, Elisa Grecar.

"My goal in this was to bring smiles to people's faces. It's so easy to focus on the negative and difficult to focus on the positive -- not just in times like this but in life in general. I love that Ohio's motto is "With God, all things are possible" -- it made a perfect tagline at the end -- and personally it has given me a lot of hope to get through this," added Stofka.

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Arts & Culture

CCAD Spring Art Fair goes virtual

Mitch Hooper

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The COVID-19 outbreak has all but canceled every event slated for April, but that isn't stopping the Columbus College of Art and Design from finding ways to safely move forward. Though there won't be an in-person Spring Art Fair this year, folks can still support these students and their artwork through the first ever virtual installment of the showcase.

Spanning April 10 to April 12, the CCAD Spring Art Fair will have its students projects, designs, and creations available for purchase online. The day kicks off on Friday at 5 p.m. and ends Sunday at midnight. All proceeds from the event will go directly to the artists, makers, and designers.

CCAD is also running a giveaway for anyone who makes a purchase during the Art Fair. If a visitor spends $50 or more and posts their receipt (without their personal information visible) to Instagram with the hashtag #CCADArtFair, they will be entered in to win a $50 gift certificate to CCAD’s Continuing & Professional Studies classes. Three winners will be selected randomly on April 13.

To find out more about the Art Fair, visit ccad.edu/experience-art/art-fair.

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Arts & Culture

Now Streaming: Columbus entertainers find virtual ways to perform

Mitch Hooper

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As Columbus entertainers prepared for warm weather and folks returning to the bars, COVID-19 came in and put it to a halt. The bars being closed indefinitely not only impacts owners, servers, and bartenders, it impacts the performers who rely on these places as a platform to showcase their talents. When folks can't come support local entertainers, what can they do?

What if they bring their talents to them? That's what many Columbus entertainers are doing during social distancing. While "work from home" wasn't much an option before this, comedians such as Amber Falter and Ian Miller are taking to Instagram Live and other streaming platforms to perform.

The first virtual show the two did was with Alexis Nelson of BarkBox, and admittedly, they were a little nervous about not having an audience for feedback.

"I was actually scared to start," Miller said. "Jokes don’t have what I call 'standalone timing.' You need a give and take with the audience, you build it into your jokes. The thought of telling jokes without immediate feedback was terrifying."

The two said the show went great and it didn't take long for both of them to enjoy streaming their comedy. Falter quickly did another virtual show, A Hamantha and Brisket Comedy Hours, with Samantha Sizemore and Bridjet Mendy themed around dating stories via Zoom. Miller, on the other hand, started a weekly story telling show on his Twitch channel Glass Cannon Comedy.

Falter, co-host of ACLU Stand-Up For Choice, says there's even been some silver linings to streaming her comedy.

"I was joking with one of my friends that is always like, 'Hey, I'm going to make it to the show! Can't wait to see you at the show!' and then they never make it out," Falter laughed. "Now you have no excuse, honey!"

As for the future ACLU Stand-Up For Choice comedy events, Falter said she and others involved, such as co-host Pat Deering, are figuring out how to do so through streaming.

Miller said he has seen many of his shows canceled due to the Coronavirus outbreak. He had six shows slated across 13 days, all of which have been canceled. Additionally, his monthly story telling show as well as Glass Cannon's quarterly-themed shows are suspended.

"It’s been rough. There may not have been of ton of Columbus comics “paying the bills” with comedy, but that doesn’t mean that we haven’t felt the impact," Miller said "Times are tough, and it’s really hard to have a side hustle of any kind when you know leaving your house could put yourself and other in danger."

And that's why he believes it's so important to support entertainers in anyway you can. Whether that be through a share or follow on social media, every little bit helps grow their platform.

Falter echoed this sentiment, too.

"I want this to become a source of income and I've been extremely, extremely grateful for the people that have even sent like $2," she said. "Or not even that, if they just followed me on Instagram or told me I had a good set. [By just] saying, "Hey that was really fun, thanks so much," that alone is making me super emotional."

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