The Dating and Relationship Blog

Cheap date ideas for couples

Planning a date doesn't have to break your budget. Little or no money often leads to no more date nights. It doesn't have to.

Whether you're a new couple, married with children or a seasoned couple, spending quality time together is vital to your relationship as a couple and as a family unit.

Four Cheap Dates that Won't Leave You Labeled a Cheapskate

Tap into your creativity, add a little preparation, and plan a memorable get-together with your sweetheart. Here are four fun cheap date ideas to get you started.

  • Cheap Date Ideas for Couples - Thrift Store Fun

Visit the local thrift store. Decide on a budget and split up to shop. Buy something for each other. Take your time and put some thought into the purchase. It can be a sentimental or humorous gift. You might be surprised at the gifts you'll find in a thrift store!

  • Cheap Date Ideas for Couples- Play Dress Up

A fun twist on the thrift store idea is to use the money to buy an outfit for your date. Take the items home and wash them ahead of time. Plan an inexpensive outing with your date on which you both must come wearing the chosen outfits. Be sure to bring your sense of humor with you on the date.

  • Cheap Date Ideas for Couples- Go Picking

Spend a sunny day with your date at a local berry patch, fruit stand, or open-air market. Pick a few baskets and take them back home to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Relaxing with a cup of coffee and a fresh-fruit desert is a nice, inexpensive way to spend special time together.

  • Cheap Date Ideas for Couples -  Flip a Coin

Begin this spontaneous date where there are plenty of historical sites or other places to see. Start walking and flip a coin to see where it leads you at each intersection. Designate directions for both sides of the coin, such as 'heads' means left and 'tails' means right.

Limited finances don't mean less romantic dates. In fact, cheap date ideas such as these require more creativity. Imagination leads to great fun and romance.

For additional ideas for New York readers, check out Fun Date Ideas.

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Joe Hottie’s Dating Blog

It's quite a challenge to plan a first date in a town you know nothing about with a girl you've only met once. But a guy will gladly go out of his comfort zone when he wants to impress. Remember The Mario Syndrome? With help from one of my buddies, I m...

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Friday Night Fun: Cheap Date Night Ideas

I have an unhealthy fascination with glossy magazines. I started buying Seventeen magazine with my allowance when I was maybe..hmm..12 years old? I enjoyed the makeup tips, the fashions, and didn’t care much about the love stories, for stories I read my National Geographics. I graduated to Cosmopolitan and The Advocate some time in high school and still felt like I needed more, so I started diversifying, Vogue, Time, Newsweek, Lucky, etc.

Last week I picked up Cosmopolitan seeking a blast to the past to browse through as I got my manicure/pedicure. There are so many articles and tips and hints out in the world now about how to be more aware about our individual spending habits. In this month’s issue I found a bunch of cool thrify ideas for things to do with your partner that are affordable and fun. When we’re broke we do things with our partner that are simple, fun, and cheap. Someplace along the line we can get caught up in our courtships and find ourselves penniless and confused which can create tension in a relationship. BUT! There’s a solution. want to keep up the romance and your savings account? I bring forth the idea of…da da da DATE NIGHT!

The Brown Skin Lady’s Top 3 Cheap & Chic Date Night Ideas

1. Oh? You think you can beat me?

A little competition can spark a fire (wink wink). Friendly competition is a great way to connect with your partner. One of my favorite dates with my girlfriend was when we went to a local pub, it was empty, and we played pool and we played darts. It was awesome! Don’t drive or don’t like bars? You can replicate this date by staying in and playing Scrabble, Battleship, or Life. Something fun and something free.

2. Color Me Lovely

Art is a beautiful opportunity to express yourself, you don’t have to be good you just have to be willing. A trip to Pottery Place in Stuyvesant Plaza is a lot of fun. Take an hour with your partner and design a mug for each other, not only do you get to get a little messy but you both get a keepsake of the day’s event and a daily reminder of each other. If you’re looking for an affordable alternative, pick up some paint from your local art store, some brushes, and some canvas and sit in and challenge each other to find your inner Picasso.

3. Go for a Walk

Have you ever heard the saying “Walk it off?” I am a major proponent of walking. Getting outside and in some sort of motion with the one you love is a great chance to clear your head, clear the air and stay healthy. When I feel like I need to take a moment to process I’ll go for a walk. This past summer I went for a lovely jog/walk in the Washington Park with my partner and it was liberating. Staying healthy together is a great way to build your relationship.

So…stop reading this blog and go save some money with the one you love!


*image courtesy of

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Whether You’re Going To Pay

A first date is hard. It's scary. It's new. Now grow some balls and get in the game. This video will help you with the basic...

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Top 10: First Date Ideas

Andrew Moore

When planning a first date, most guys settle for some variation of the dinner-and-a-movie night. There’s nothing particularly wrong with this strategy. It’s been tested. It’s easy. The only thing is, when taking a woman out on a date, you don’t want to be like most guys; you want to be the guy. So, we’ve assembled this list of top-notch first date ideas to help you get out of the dinner-and-a-movie rut.   

A good first date allows for
conversation but at the same time takes some of the focus off you so that you’re not under pressure to talk incessantly. The first date ideas on this list provide the right balance of conversation and pleasant distraction. Just recognize that not every first date idea will work for every type of girl. Before you plan some kind of outdoorsy activity, you’ll want to make sure she’s the outdoorsy type. And you don’t want to take a girl to a museum if she’s going to be bored to tears. Think about her interests and her personality before you decide which of these10 first date ideas to try.

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The Blogger Beat: 14th & You

The 14th & You bloggers at Lalibela.
Photograph by Chris Leaman

Christina Barry and Ben Harris, the neighborhood know-it-alls behind the Logan Circle blog 14th & You, started blogging in August 2007. At that time, there were few blogs about their neighborhood, and none that got into the depth they'd hoped for, so they said, “What the heck?”—literally, according to Ben­—and decided to start one themselves. A year later, they’re one of the best go-to sites for commentary on everything Logan Circle.

Ben moved to DC in 2004 from Columbus, Ohio, but Christina has lived in the Washington area most of her life. After attending college out of state, Christina moved back to DC—against her instinct that it “was a city overrun by older men in gray suits”—and found an apartment she loved in Logan Circle. Ben moved in with her in 2006, when the couple got married.

Together, they’ve explored the neighborhood and uncovered many of the shopping, eating, and drinking gems it has to offer. We picked their brains about just that and got an insider’s scoop on the best coffee shops, dessert spots, date ideas, and much more.

Favorite sit-down restaurant:
Christina: “Lalibela at 14th and P. I stumbled in there the day I moved to Logan, just minutes after unpacking the moving truck, and I’ve been dining there frequently ever since. I grew up eating family dinners at Red Sea in Adams Morgan, so I was thrilled to come back to DC and discover so many Ethiopian restaurants within blocks of my home. On the east side of Logan, I also like Veranda. Most of the time, we just sit at the bar and relax. After visiting a few times, I think what I like the most is the friendly neighborhood environment.”
Ben: “For quick service and cheaper food, I love Lalibela. We go there at least once a week. I also love Coppi’s on U Street.”

Favorite coffee spot:
Christina: “I’m a tea gal, so I go to Teaism in Dupont. I highly recommend the Zhenzhou pearls, a bubble tea.”
Ben: “Not technically in Logan, but I’m a particular fan of the Java House near 17th and Q.”

Favorite intersection:
“Logan Circle. I geek out on the residential architecture there. I’m not much of an art historian, but the surviving homes dating from the late 19th century through the early 20th century resonate with my aesthetic preferences.”
Ben: “13th and R streets. The houses on each corner there are just stunningly beautiful. When you look at the architecture of many of the homes in the neighborhood, it’s hard to imagine there was a time when people thought Victorian rowhouses were ugly and should be demolished.”
Best place for takeout:
“I’m in love with ethnic food, particularly Thai, Mediterranean, and Ethiopian. In Logan, I like Thai Tanic on 14th for takeout.”
Ben: “Pasha Bistro on 17th Street makes a mean gyro sandwich, and Lalibela also offers good takeout. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Ben’s Chili Bowl. Christina doesn’t do chili dogs, but I’m game every once in a while.”
Favorite spot for people-watching:
“Sitting on the patios or near the front windows of the restaurants on the 1400 block of P Street is a great place to catch a slice of Logan life. I gawk at the high drama, high fashion, and highly flirty traffic in and out of Halo.”
Ben: “In our immediate neighborhood, I’d sit in front of the Mocha Hut or Maggie Moo’s on U Street on a weekend evening. There’s a certain energy in the neighborhood, and those spots are great places to take it in. For sheer weirdness, I’d have to say Dupont Circle. Once we saw a man in his thirties performing a majorette routine in the middle of the circle, complete with marching-band music blaring out of his portable stereo. He was really into it.”
Favorite new real-estate development:
“I like the newish but not spanking-new Bogden Builders condos that came from gut rehabs of rowhouses at 13th and R streets. Yet I find the Logan Station condos around the corner to be a whole lot of hideous.”
Ben: “It’s funny, but I’m not really a fan of most of the new condo towers that have been springing up in the neighborhood. I just don’t find them to be very architecturally interesting, and some of them are downright unattractive and try too hard to be ‘trendy.’ A perfect example is the Metropole, which for some strange reason markets its condos as ‘Drop. Dead. Sexy.’ Or the Floridian, which comes right out and says that their condos are ‘hip.’ I like the Urban Row Development up at 14th and V; the building itself isn’t all that interesting, but the overall design is pleasant and the grounds are nicely maintained.”
Favorite place to shop:
“Sweet Magnolia. It appeals to my frilly, girly side, and I like examining all of the little knick-knacks woven into the floor displays. Unfortunately, the storefront is for lease and Sweet Magnolia will soon relocate.”
Ben: “Shopping is really Christina’s thing. But if I had to pick a place, I’d have to say Pulp on 14th Street, simply because they have such a fantastic collection of bizarre greeting cards.”

Best reason to live in Logan Circle:
“All the other kids are doing it.”
Ben: “It’s a great combination of residential beauty and urban enjoyment. You can sit in the park in Logan Circle, stroll past some gorgeous Victorian mansions, then go have a beer at Stoney’s or Bar Pilar. Also, you’re convenient to pretty much everything in DC.”
Favorite neighbor:
Christina: “Does the Spa at Mint count? I had not been in until this week, and now I’m in love. Shirin worked her facial magic, and Angela is the only masseuse who’s been able to work the semipermanent cord of knots out of my back. If I didn’t have a limited budget for such self-indulgence, I would be at Mint once a week.”
Ben: “A lot of people may be surprised by this, but the Central Union Mission has been a great neighbor. Not only are they providing a much-needed service to the community; they’re doing an excellent job of keeping their area clean and safe. Unfortunately, the real estate is simply getting too valuable for the shelter to be maintained where it is, and we’ll be sorry to see them leave the neighborhood. We’ve got nothing but positive things to say about them.”
Best running route through the neighborhood:
Christina: “Logan is a small area, so you’d have to do a lot of laps to run through just this neighborhood. When we take our walk/jogs (don’t judge our cardio weakness), I like to go south toward the White House. I can’t imagine getting bored of the gorgeous buildings downtown. I also like jogging west on R Street toward Sheridan Circle. The route is relatively flat, and I almost always see something new and beautiful among the residential architecture, shops, and embassies along the way.”
Ben: “I like to jog down 13th Street through Logan Circle, on into downtown, then loop back up 14th Street through Thomas Circle. It’s a very aesthetically pleasing route.”
Favorite spot for a drink after work:
Christina: “I like Bar Pilar because it’s an interesting place that’s not overrun on weeknights. We always go with the intent of having one well-mixed cocktail. But inevitably, the low lights, casual atmosphere, and great music draw us in, and we end up staying for a cheese-and-charcuterie plate with a second cocktail.”
Ben: “I love Bar Pilar. The food’s a bit pricey for what it is, but the beer selection is good, it’s rarely overcrowded, and the scene is pretty laid-back. I’m past the days of elbowing my way up to a crowded bar or screaming at my friends just to be heard over the noise. This is a big city with a lot of good places to go.”
Best place for dessert:
Christina: “ACKC has become a favorite place. If I had less than a year to live, I would spend as much of it as possible eating their chocolates.”
Ben: “In the winter, nothing tops a cup of Charro hot chocolate from ACKC. Also, the Nutella calzone at Coppi’s is surprisingly tasty.”

Best spot for a date:
Christina: “A picnic or evening stroll through almost any of DC’s parks makes for a great date. Ben and I spent the better part of our third date sitting on a bench on the Mall chatting into the wee hours.”
Ben: “I love Bohemian Caverns. The cave decor, candlelight, and quality jazz acts they attract on weekends make a great date spot. Close runners-up are HR-57 and Utopia.”

Favorite place to see rt:
Christina: “It all depends on one’s preferences. On 14th Street, I find that shows at Plan B interest me the most, but I haven’t yet come close to buying anything there. Fortunately, we live in a great neighborhood for lovers of architecture, public art, retail galleries, and performing arts.”
Ben: “I’m the wrong person to ask! I’m the type of person who sees that a new play or show is coming to a venue in the neighborhood, comments that it looks fun or interesting, and then never gets around to going.”

Best furniture shop on 14th Street:
Christina: “Reincarnations! I love the mix of colors, textures, and styles. It’s just a fun place­—bright, cheerful, eclectic. I also really enjoy their Christmas displays—the most elaborate and whimsical store holiday decorations I’ve ever seen in DC. A close second is Timothy Paul Bedding and Home. The store feels so tranquil that some days I just want to live in the window display.”
Ben: “Though most of the pieces are out of our price range, the furniture at Good Wood on U Street is frequently gorgeous.”

Business you most wish would come to your neighborhood:
Christina: “Inexpensive but good eats. I would love a New York-style deli with really good bagels. I would award bonus points to such an establishment if they kept prices out of the stratosphere and stayed open late. We might get something like this from a couple of currently-in-the-works restaurants. Stay tuned to our blog for more.”
Ben: "Two things, actually: a good deli/sandwich shop and a true bookstore. I’ve been known to peruse the shelves at Busboys and Poets, but they have a rather singular focus. I would love to have a Kramerbooks or Politics and Prose in the neighborhood. I read a lot, so I’d probably be there every night.”

Favorite DC neighborhood other than Logan Circle:
Christina: “Capitol Hill. It’s walkable, has attractive and diverse residential architecture, and offers an array of dining and shopping options without being a hipster scene. I really like that you can still find cozy neighborhood shops and restaurants. I recommend Tunicliff’s for an afternoon drink, Woven History & Silk Road for Asian crafts (and history lessons from owner and staff), and Capitol Hill Books for an unbelievable assortment of used books.”
Ben: “This one is tough, but I really do love Capitol Hill. It’s a great combination of a true residential neighborhood and a viable commercial center. It’s also so quintessential DC—Victorian rowhouses, parks with statues, and occasional glimpses of the Capitol building and other DC landmarks.”
Favorite neighborhood blog other than your own:
Christina: “It’s not quite about a specific neighborhood, but the Home Improvement Ninja captures the humor of life in residential areas of DC. I was hooked in by his widely linked Mac Attack post, and I almost always laugh out loud reading his musings.”
Ben: “Bloomingdale (for now), Off Seventh, and Renewshaw all do a great job keeping track of things a little bit east of Logan. I’m also particularly fond of Inked’s Frozen Tropics blog over in Trinidad.”

Next week in the Blogger Beat, we talk all-things pop culture with Whitney Matheson from Pop Candy. We get the lowdown on her favorite podcast, the best local spot for a pop-culture fix, and where she goes to get away from it all. Check back next Wednesday for the interview!

Earlier interviews:
The Beer Activist
Culinary Couture
All Blogger Beat interviews

Have a favorite local blogger you’d like to hear from? Send an e-mail to

More>> Capital Comment Blog | News & Politics | Society Photos

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A Doctor Answers a Reader’s Question About Excessive Gas

DrSugar is in the house and answering your questions.

Dear Doc Sugar,
I'm having a lot of trouble lately with gas. Yeah, it's really embarrassing, but no matter what I eat (high fiber, low fiber, healthy food, junk food) I start farting constantly. A month ago, I lost a lot of weight because I couldn't handle how bad my gas pains were.

I'm going to give you a few details that might help you, help me. The farts aren't like normal ones. They're high pressured, loud, and sound like I opened a valve to let air out. Sometimes they don't even smell; it's just air. Then I can feel my abdomen deflate. I don't want to go to the doctor yet (because I know they're going to ask for a stool sample, and I think that's so ick), so I was hoping you could help with an explanation and advice.
— One Gassy Gal

To see what DrSugar has to say on this matter, read more.

Flatulence is a normal phenomenon that occurs in everyone, but it can become a big problem for some people, as you have described. Gas comes from two main sources: air that you swallow and gas produced during the digestion of food. Sometimes excessive flatulence can represent intolerance to certain foods such as dairy products or gluten. Eliminating dairy from your diet is a good first step to evaluate whether the problem could be related to lactose intolerance, which is a very common problem. There are also a wide range of foods that have been implicated as “gassy foods,” and an extensive list can be found at GICare. This site also gives information on how to prevent excessive gas, and it might help you.

The fact that your gas is sometimes odorless could provide an interesting clue as to the source of your excessive gas. It has been observed that gas from swallowed air is generally odorless, and gas from the digestion of food usually has an odor. It is possible that your gas problem is from swallowing too much air. Swallowing air can happen when food is eaten very quickly. It can also occur by drinking through straws and drinking carbonated beverages. Try eating slower, taking smaller bites, and avoiding carbonated beverages for a few weeks to see if this helps. If your problem persists, or is associated with pain or diarrhea, it would be best to see a doctor. Many problems can be solved without the dreaded stool sample.

If you have a question for DrSugar, send me a private message here and I will forward it to the good doctor.

DrSugar's posts are for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment recommendations. Click here for more details.

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Victimless leather

“I FELT cruel when I turned it off,” says Paola Antonelli, senior curator at New York's Museum of Modern Art. The “it” in question is a tiny coat that has been grown in a test tube using cells around a biodegradable polymer structure. The coat had flourished to such an extent that its “life support” system had to be switched off to stop it getting too big.

The coat, now preserved, is on display in the Museum of Modern Art's (MoMA) wonderful new exhibition about the future of innovation, “Design and the Elastic Mind.” Titled “Victimless Leather”, the coat points to a time, not far off, when science may put an end to ethical quibbles about wearing leather—or furs, or eating meat—by removing the need for an animal to die to produce them. Another exhibit looks forward to the perfect steak, which will also be grown in vitro without inconveniencing any poor cow.

The exhibition is a tribute to the role that designers play in the innovation process, by turning the insights of science into things that are easy, and, ideally, attractive, to use. “Designers stand between revolutions and everyday life,” explains the exhibition's introduction. “Without design, instead of a virtual city of home pages with windows, buttons and links, the internet would still be a series of obscure strings of code, and the things that populate our lives—cars, chairs, music players, computers, cash machines—would work, but none would be truly efficient or give us a sense of pride, liveliness and pleasure. Some would not exist at all.”

Indeed, with the growing complexity of technology, the designer is evolving from someone who gives form to an object into a figure more central to the process of innovation, an “essential interpreter of an extraordinarily dynamic and crucial moment in the history of humankind.”

Key to the success of design in the future, says Ms Antonelli, is what John Seely Brown, former head of Xerox's legendary Palo Alto Research Centre, calls “thinkering”—productive tinkering through experimentation that involves engaging with the world and open constructive collaboration with colleagues and other experts.

The interaction of science and design has been especially fruitful recently in the field of consumer electronics, giving birth to cool, iconic products like the Apple iPhone and Nintendo Wii, both of which employ innovative technology based on touch and movement to make them easier to use.

The MoMA exhibition shows that this is the tip of the iceberg, and not just for humans. For example, the near future promises such delights as the LED dog-tail communicator, whereby Rover will be able to tell his owner his needs (food, walkies) via a device that interprets his wags.

The exhibition begins with a fascinating glimpse into the highly fashionable world of nanotechnology – the manipulation of materials at the molecular or atomic level. Designers and scientists are now combining to build structures one atom at a time. They seek to use the natural world's principles of self-assembly and self-organisation—inherent in cells, molecules and galaxies—to design buildings, remote controls and cars, among other things. If traditional design shapes and adapts existing materials, this sort of nanodesign creates objects and lets them adapt themselves to different conditions.

This might result, for example, in cell-sized machines that can be injected into the body to heal it, or self-assembling electronic components that behave like organic structures. Among other things, this nano approach has generated a paradigm shift in, of all things, the ancient craft of origami, with sophisticated computer programmes designing folded structures of unprecedented complexity. One exhibit even folds DNA.

Most entertainingly, however, the exhibition illustrates this theme with a screen-based system that projects silhouettes of visitors and then mutates them into sci-fi monsters. This is hugely popular with children (and journalists) and if nothing else would make a perfect executive toy.

Many of the other exhibits would also make great wall art, especially the genuinely beautiful flat-screen displays showing, among other things, all the planes in the air over America at any given moment and different aspects of internet-dating sites (best first-date ideas, say, or top turn-ons for single women in their 20s).

If the MoMA exhibition is even half right, the coming waves of innovation will far surpass even the remarkable breakthroughs and changes of recent times. Printing in 3-D, for example, is already underway: the exhibition shows how products like chairs can be customised and produced seemingly out of thin air.

Genetic manipulation also got the designer-juices going. Coming soon to a pet shop near you is the “utility pet”, which takes being man's best friend to a new level by growing spare body parts for its owner as well as providing the usual companionship.

Of course, such innovation may not be without its darker side. One exhibit explores the idea that what people miss most after a relationship ends are the annoyances, and so envisages a system that steals the duvet at night, blows smoke in your face, and so on. A particularly disturbing video posits a potential divide between wealthy buyers of replacement body parts and an underclass of people who turn their bodies into farms that grow those parts.

But enough of such downbeat thoughts. This show is a celebration of what can happen when designers and scientists get together, and for the most part it is inspiring. Your correspondent's favourite product idea? A robot called an “Element” that follows you around, ensuring that your personal environment is always just how you like it. Each Element works autonomously and is always alert, monitoring conditions—air quality, light, body temperature, background noise, and movement—and instantaneously acting to keep them in ideal balance. Sitting in an overheated office, breathing stale, probably germ-infested, air, it is hard to imagine anything better.

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Date Night Conversation Starters

You've finally lined up a babysitter, made dinner reservations, and dressed up for a night out. Trouble is, you can't think of a conversation topic that doesn't involve the kids. Reconnect with one of these conversation starters. Tell me about a high ...

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Great date ideas

If you're sick of the ol' dinner and a movie routine this week's Boy v. Girl will inspire you with creative date ideas.

Grabbing a coffee's so passé and cocktails are just plain stale, so if you aspire to making your next date a great one, try Bobby and Amanda's suggestions for a date that's guaranteed to be a little unusual, possibly romantic and sometimes even free.

Think we missed something? Share your best date ideas with other readers in our Soundoff!

What the boy said: 5 Great Date Ideas
What the girl said: 5 Great Date Ideas
Soundoff: Your greatest date ever?

Bobby Berkenblit is single and still looking for his dream girl.

Amanda Tring is a taken girl living life in the big city. Although attached now, she's had her share of dating disasters.

Next week's topic: How to handle that big fight

We love hearing from you! To send us your thoughts on Boy v. Girl, or suggest an idea for a future column drop us a line at

© (c) CanWest MediaWorks Publications Inc.

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The Big City; Ideas for Dates Inch Closer To Reality

EVEN hardened veterans of the Manhattan singles scene were depressed by Michael Russo's performance in ''Unmade Beds,'' the quasi-documentary film by Nicholas Barker that came out last year. Mr. Russo was one of the four people who...

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The Big City; Ideas for Dates Inch Closer To Reality

EVEN hardened veterans of the Manhattan singles scene were depressed by Michael Russo's performance in ''Unmade Beds,'' the quasi-documentary film by Nicholas Barker that came out last year. Mr. Russo was one of the four people who played themselves in...

Read More »

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