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WAR-ISOME WEEKEND

These days it's hard to escape from the war. And that's probably how it should be, while we've got soldiers over there.

But let's just say I'm trying to get away from all that for a weekend. So I'd start with a sojourn to The Loft to hear singer-songwriter Jen Woodhouse play with a full band behind her. Oh wait. This Nashville nightingale is marrying a soldier — one she met at one of her Loft gigs, in fact. (An opening act starts about 9:30 p.m. Cover is $5. Details: 706-596-8141.)

So maybe the movies are the way to go for some escapism. It's a good chance to see an acclaimed film that might be an Oscar contender. Like "Charlie Wilson's War," which is well, about the waning days of the Cold War, isn't it. Oh well.

Maybe on Sunday the TV will provide a fitting escape. The Golden Globes, with its runway show and crazy speeches will help, right? Uh, except the Globes are being presented in news-conference style this year thank to the ongoing (ahem) war between Hollywood writers and movie producers. Eh, it'll still be worth watching. Matt Lauer presents interviews with nominees on NBC starting at 7 p.m. EST, and the awards are announced at 9.

—Brad Barnes

BLACK, WHITE AND READ ALL OVER

Here's the thing with black dresses — their extreme functionality makes it easy to justify financial splurging gone wild.

"It's OK. I can wear it anywhere," I recently reasoned while spending two weeks' worth of dinner money on a black dress from Columbus boutique The Buzz.

And while wearing the same dress on consecutive nights is completely improbable, this weekend gives you three different opportunities to flaunt your favorite LBDs.

Friday, it's the Black and White Bash at Big City Club (1113 Broadway), when guests are asked to wear — you guessed it — black and white. Something tells me this party will be second only to the night when Girls Gone Wild hit the popular downtown nightclub.

Saturday, switch from black tube dress to black cocktail dress for Little Black Dress Night at Belloo's, 900 Front Ave. Wear an LBD and get free admission, plus a $10 coupon for the bar. Jazz act Claiborne and friends will perform.

Finally, pull out your favorite black wrap dress for Sunday night dinner and cocktails at Buckhead Grill, 5010 Armour Road. I just visited this Columbus hot spot for the first time since its reopening, and the bar and lounge are rumored to get pretty popular on Sunday evenings.

The best part? If you're wearing black, stains from your spilled cosmo won't be as apparent. Trust me, I learned the hard way.

— Sonya Sorich

Holiday help me out So it’s come down to this – you’re back at your dead-end job, slurping coffee with all the other reprobates while watching the clock slowly spin your life away. The holidays are over and you won’t see another three-day weekend until Memorial Day. Cheer up, slacker. I’ve got the tools to kick your wretched existence up a few notches. Tool No. 1: Brad. Naw, I’m just kidding. It’s actually a visit to Buckhead Grill on Armour Road. A cozy little getaway from the scuzzy scene found downtown most weekends, this hidden gem is worth a visit for the good drinks and nice wine list. Tell the bartender I sent you. He’ll give you a funny look, because he has no idea who I am. Tool No. 2: The massive department store of your choice. Those unwanted gifts still look unsightly on sitting on your washer, and this is the time to grab the receipts and return them. Those without receipts should skip the stores and head straight to The Salvation Army. Those with unwanted electronics should visit the pawn shop of their choice. Tool No. 3: While I’ve joked before about your godawful weight, I’m really serious this time. Best find a Wal-Mart outfit you can still get into and visit the Columbus Civic Center 1-2:30 p.m. or 6-7:30 p.m. Sunday for ice skating and a little slimming down action. Just pretend you’re in a winter wonderland that never ends. It’ll help the time go by faster.

— Alan Riquelmy

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