Got Plans? Pre-Halloween edition

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The Going Out Gurus
Thursday, October 28, 2010; 1:00 PM

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Lavanya Ramanathan: If you still haven't made plans for this Halloween/Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear/Marine Corps Marathon weekend, we've got some amazing giveaways for you. First, five pairs of tickets to Artomatic's Surreal DC Halloween party on Saturday (there's an open bar, people). If you're slightly freaked out by the prospects of crowds, one lucky winner can stay home and watch your very own copy of "Human Centipede." And yet another winner will get a $25 gift card to the soon-to-open West End Cinema movie theater. All you have to do is tell us about your favorite Halloween costume of all time. The person whose costume is the grossest wins "Human Centipede." All the rest of the prizes, we'll decide. Okay, let's begin.

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Biking for Beginners?: My boyfriend wants us to go bike riding this weekend. I rode my bike a TON...when I was like 12. I haven't been on a bike in a few years, and I'm hopelessly out of shape, so what's a good, flat, easy ride, on the Virginia side, for a scared bike rider? Bonus points for starting or ending somewhere we can grab a bite.

Alex Baldinger: The Mount Vernon trail comes to mind. It's not overly hilly, it's extremely scenic, you can stop to watch the planes take-0ff or land at Gravelly Point and it winds through Old Town Alexandria where you can eat/drink.

Amy Orndorff: Actually, if you are a beginner I wouldn't suggest such a crowded trail... How about taking the W&OD? I suggest going from Leesburg to Purcellville and back. It paved, mostly flat, lovely in the fall and (bonus!) there are great places to eat in Leesburg and Purcellville.

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Dad help: My dad's coming to town in 2 weeks and I have no idea what to do with him. He's been here many times before so we've been to all the major sights. Got the meals covered, it's just the rest of the time that stumps me. Help!

Amy Orndorff: Can you give us a little more? Age? Interests? General area?

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Cool weather = Soup cravings: Not Halloween related, but with the cooler fall weather finally here I'm craving soup. Any favorite places with a decent selection or that have a bright shining star? I'm vegetarian, but don't mind the usual beef/chicken stock if the soup is excellent.

Justin Rude: I really like the soups at Earls in Arlington, and there is always Pho 75 just down the street. Freshii in Dupont is quick and simple and has a good vegetarian soup. Acadiana has all the gulf-coast angles covered. For upscale options you cannot go wrong with the soups that come out of the Corduroy kitchen.

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Salsa Class: I've recently fallen in love with zumba classes at my gym. Is there a "date night" sort of place around DC for salsa dancing? I have tried Glen Echo's classes before, but they are a pain to get to.

Stephanie Merry: Funny -- our boss is totally into Zumba, too, and was just convincing me I need to try it. In your case, I'd head to the new Artisphere, which is totally Metro-accessible, for salsa Tuesdays. There's a one-hour lesson at 7:30 followed by a few hours to try out your new skills. And next Tuesday, Bio Ritmo will be the live accompaniment.

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Biking for Beginners: The W&OD trail is another excellent spot for biking in Virginia. There are a few busy crossings and it can be busy on the weekend, but it's a great ride. There are good spots to eat in both Herndon and Vienna close to the trail, as well.

Amy Orndorff: Thanks for agreeing with me! I think the farther out you get the better it becomes.

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Bike Rider: For the bike rider - I agree that the Mt. Vernon trail is good, but just be aware that it gets really crowded when the weekend is nice. Just remember your biking ettiquite (e.g., telling people that you are passing them, or letting others pass you) and you should be fine!

Amy Orndorff: Agreed.

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Dining in Old Town Alexandria: Gurus, I am decently new to the area and next week my parents will be coming to visit. They will be staying in Old Town, and I was wondering if you could recommend any restaurants. Nothing too exotic (Thai would be about as far out of their comfort range as I could go) or too loud and preferable something in the mid-price range. They are not too picky (although not big on sea food) but I would like to take them to a nice casual dinner in Old Town. On that note are there any good breakfast places in or around the old town area? Thanks for your help!

Justin Rude: The Majestic in Old Town sounds like it would fit the bill perfectly. Breakfast is a little trickier. There is a Le Pain Quotidien on King Street, but if you are talking about weekend brunch I would head over to Del Ray and hit the Evening Star Cafe for good food and a good atmosphere.

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Jelly Belly: Best costume ever? I was a Jelly Belly bag when I was 9! I came up with the idea and made the costume myself. Think white tights, and a clear plastic garbage bag filled with those oval shaped balloons. Two wholes for my legs, a string tied around my neck to hold it together, and lastly, a creative home made sign on my belly... JELLY BELLY!

Stephanie Merry: I like the idea in theory, but....white tights? You weren't buttered popcorn flavor, were you? It's okay, we won't hold it against you. Too much.

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U Street - Halloween: Hi Gurus,Any suggestions for going out on U St on Saturday night to celebrate halloween a night early? Any bars you recommend for a large group - probably in costume?

Alex Baldinger: I'm going to try pinch-hitting for Fritz, who is off galavanting across Europe at the moment:I'll throw out the Black Cat as an option. Plenty of room to move around and dance, especially with Bhangraween upstairs.U Street proper is going to be a bit tougher for a big group on Saturday. I would skip Local 16 and Marvin just because with Halloween + Stewart/Colbert + Howard Homecoming + UMD Homecoming crowds, they're going to even more difficult/packed than normal.I would also recommend Stetson's. That place is usually ripe for a costumed night out.

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Happy Anniversary -- a week late: Gurus -- My husband and I will be celebrating our wedding anniversary on Sunday -- a week later than the actual anniversary. Anyway, we are not looking to go whole hog or anything (it's 7 years so not a major milestone) but do want to mark the occasion. My thought was to do brunch at Bombay Club (do they still do brunch?) and then hit a few romantic/fancy hotel bars. I am just worried that 1) it being Sunday and 2) it being Halloween that places either will not be open in the mid-afternoon or packed. What to you recommend for a walking bar tour after Bombay Club on Sunday? Or, what would recommend if I just aksed if you had any ideas on what to do Sunday for a 7 year anniversary?

Lavanya Ramanathan: open on a Sunday afternoon: If I were you, I'd zip right up to Tabard Inn (which also has a lovely brunch) for cocktails and stay there all day. But Bourbon Steak's much-lauded bar opens at 2:30. And the Hay Adams' Off the Record bar nearby is open as well, though its drinks are a little more on the basic side. I'm also going to throw out the Cotton Club Revival bash at Marvin on Sunday night; live jazz, a three course dinner, cocktail pairings -- it sounds pretty great to me. But it's a little "whole hog"...

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Hold the mayo...: I think I might have asked this question a couple years ago but here we go again. I would really like to be a turkey sub this year for Halloween but am having a hard time putting a costume together. I need the help of the GOG's.

Justin Rude: This all depends... what do you order your turkey subs with?

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Adult Halloween: I'm looking for something to do as a couple on Saturday night for Halloween. We don't want to dress up so costume parties are out. I like the idea of going somewhere that has a scare factor to it but I want something that is geared towards adults and not kids. I can go anywhere in DC or northern VA. Thanks!

Amy Orndorff: How about taking in a show? Actor David Keltz will perform Edgar Allan Poe's stories at the Lyceum Sunday at 8 p.m. Just remember to leave a bowl full of candy out for the kiddies.

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Rally to Restore Sanity: Seems like everybody I know is going to this rally. It starts at 12, what time do you think one should plan on getting there?

Alex Baldinger: Word is that the big jumbotrons that will be scattered around the Mall start showing video to entertain the crowd, whatever that means, at 10 a.m. So I'd shoot for that.

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Trick or Treating: Not exactly a going out question, but I'm guessing that if anyone can answer this it's the all-knowing GOGs. I know most of the Halloween festivities for adults are on Saturday, but when will the neighborhood kids (in D.C. proper) be trick or treating? Saturday or Sunday? Thanks!

Stephanie Merry: I have to think kids will be going door-to-door on Sunday, right? I mean, when Halloween is Tuesday, the kids trick-or-treat on Tuesday. Chatters, thoughts on this?

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Mcrib: is back at the ballston commons Mcds. Justas good as I remember. Now if they could only bring back MCwings

Justin Rude: Here is a friendly Ballston tip from a chatter. Here is another one: the Ballston Rustico opened this week, and it looks great.

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Favorite costume: Years ago on M street I saw four guys dressed up as the ghostbusters, complete with replica car and theme song blaring out of the speakers. That one always stands out.

Justin Rude: I think I saw the same group. It was inspiring.

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Favorite Halloween Costume: Crayola crayon, made entirely out of felt. Complete with hat. I was red, my brothers were blue and green. My poor mother spent weeks making those costumes.

Amy Orndorff: This one gets my vote, it's simple and sweet!

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Best costume!: So the costume itself may not be that unique, but it was all in the execution. Partly cloudy chance of rain... involved a homemade rainbow headband, silver lightning shoes, white pillow stuffing all over my blue outfit for clouds, and the best part... two water guns filled with vodka "rain" to squirt into people's mouths!

Stephanie Merry: Okay, you may have just convinced me to change my costume. This is stellar.

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90s Halloween: My favorite Halloween costume: Courtney Love circa when Hole was popular. Ratty baby doll dress, plastic tiara, lots of smudgy eye makeup. It was my final year of Trick or Treating and I think some neighborhood parents were genuinely frightened both by my costume and by me, the little girl who so admired Courtney Love.

Amy Orndorff: That is pretty scary.

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Fritz: Is Fritz really a galavanteur? I think him more as a traipseur or a gadabout.

Alex Baldinger: Gadabout. Like it.

Stephanie Merry: Let's not romanticize. Fritz is a barfly.

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Halloween for the non-collegiate?: Heya Gurus! This Saturday is posing a Halloween dilemma. My friends and I feel like we've outgrown the drunken Halloween shenanigans in Adams Morgan, but we're not ready to give up going out in costume and boozing it up. (We just want to do it in a fashion we can remember the next day.) Any advice on bars for some late-20's folks looking for a costumed Halloween night out? (Places with dancing are a plus, but not a requirement.)

Lavanya Ramanathan: Spook-o-rama party at the Warehouse; fire spinners, burlesque, comedy. Then you can dip over to Passenger nearby and keep right on drinking. (For more ideas, I've got this list.)You should also check out Napoleon; it's doing a French, almost Moulin Rouge-themed, circusy party. Totally sophisticated, but there will definitely be dancing, probably the on-the-tables sort.

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Kid costume: As a kid, I dressed up as a television. Think big box with my head stuck through the top, painted black, with (I kid you not) the "saved by the bell" logo painted in the screen. Another friend went as the remote control and another as a couch potato. Perhaps we knew the demise of the printed word was coming. (ah, no...we just loved tv. Glad I grew out of that)

Amy Orndorff: I think you get a bonus point just for the "Saved By the Bell" reference.

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Pittsburgh: Hope it isn't too early to ask, but we'll be driving to Manassas next month for a conference. Most meals will be provided, but for a couple we'll be on our own. Plus, spouse will be at loose ends while I'm in meetings. My questions are:What are some good places to eat right in Manassas?What else is there for spouse to see in Manassas on a Saturday besides the Civil War battlefield?Although we'll have our car, we don't want to have to drive far once we reach Manassas.

Justin Rude: The Ashton Avenue Family Restaurant has an eclectic and surprisingly good menu. If you want to splurge a little bit I would make reservations for an evening at Trummer's on Main. It is in nearby Clifton, and it just got a good writupe in our critic's Fall Dining Guide. And I totally should have thought of it when the previous questioner asked about soup - Clay Miller makes a mean mulligatawny.Things-to-do wise, I haven't been there yet, but the newly-opened Hylton center is a performing arts hub.

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Tea Partay: Hi GOG's! If you were going to be Sarah Palin and your friend was going to be Christine O'Donnell and you were 30, where would you go on Saturday night?

Lavanya Ramanathan: The post-Fear/Sanity party at ESL. Hands-down. Just think: You could stay in character all night long and pick arguments with all the out-of-town moderates who'll be there.

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Re: old Town: I like all of your suggestions. I'll add that La Madeleine is an easy, inexpensive breakfast choice. And Pizzeria Paradiso just opened in Old Town.

Justin Rude: These are both excellent suggestions. Totally forgot about La Madeleine. And I can't wait to get to the Alexandria Pizzeria Paradiso. If your parents love great beer and good pizza that is gonna be the place to take them.

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Fall foliage: Can you recommend any short drives to see the fall foliage changing color. This is one of my favorite times of the year.

Justin Rude: How short are you looking for? For a very short drive (15 minutes each way), drive from Old town to Mount Vernon on the GW Parkway and back.

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Beest costume: My brother and I were Care Bears one year when we were kids. My mom made the entirety of the costumes - oneseies complete with chubby Care Bear tummies and head pieces with ears that fastened with Velcro under our chins. I was Rainbow Bear; I don't remember which one my brother was.

Justin Rude: I have a good friend whose nickname, to this day, is Bedtime Bear.

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Costume: One Halloween years ago for some reason my parents decided to dress me up as a (brown) bag of groceries, complete with baguette, produce, and household goods. Not one of my finer moments.

Stephanie Merry: That is kind of adorable.

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The rally: I'd like to watch the rally in a bar with a beer in hand. I don't have cable. I live in Dupont Circle. Is there a list of bars that will be doing something for the rally?

Alex Baldinger: Any bar that has Comedy Central. Though at that hour on a Saturday, you might have to compete with college football. Maybe Front Page? They have a tenuous connection to the news, which maybe gives them a leg up.

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Favorite Costume?: Sexy Abraham Lincoln

Stephanie Merry: Maybe even crazier than the sexy Chewbacca costume Lavanya stumbled upon the other day...

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McRib = McScary: Yo, anything that is supposed to be a bbq rib, but doesn't have the bone and is bathed in some weird gel sauce is a bad idea. There's scary for Halloween and then there's scary b/c you're gonna puke.

Justin Rude: And yet its always a hit when it comes back around... For the record, I'm with you.

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Biking for Beginners: Burke Lake or Lake Fairfax. W&OD you run into spandex clad Tour D France Wanabees. Same with Mount Vernon trail.Do not get me started on these folks and their dangerous behavior on trials and with their clubs out in Fauqiuer County

Amy Orndorff: Hm, I haven't biked around either lake, but I had a really good experience on the W&OD. There were other bikers, but I didn't see too many who took themselves too seriously.

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Worst Halloween costume: In college, I had long hair, so I made a cross, put on a bed sheet, and went as Jesus. Worked OK until some drunken frat boys started stoning me.

Stephanie Merry: Wow...

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Family costume: So, I'm sort of embarrassed to admit this, but one year, my ENTIRE family dressed as playing cards. My parents - they were the king and queen, of course. My sister was the Jack and I was the Ace. My mom made them all - big pieces of fabric w/foam backing so it held its shape, and then felt cut outs to make the face of each card. Man, we were nerds. But, to be fair, we did have a family poker game I was allowed to play in when I was 6. It was serious - penny bets and twos, fours, and sixes were wild.

Amy Orndorff: I am really happy to know that I was not the only kid whose entire family dressed up with a theme. Well, my Mom got out of it by staying home to hand out candy, but Dad was such a good sport.

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Costume: Had a friend in high school who dressed for a Halloween party as - wait for it - an outhouse. Crescent moon cut out of the door and everything. It was pretty good! And another friend in college who dressed as the Bay Bridge, although frankly that made getting around the party a bit challenging.

Alex Baldinger: I think the former may have just vaulted you into first place in the race for "The Human Centipede."I think the latter is an ingenious feat of costume engineering. Both spans, or just one?

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Favorite Holloween Costume: A black cat made by my grandmother when I was a kid - fuzzy material, included mittens, head cap with ears and spats for my shoes.I would love the West End Cinema gift certificate if you all deem me worthy. Thanks for the chats every week.

Lavanya Ramanathan: Aww. That's sweet. I love grandmas.I'll throw one into the pot, too: Me as Nancy Spungen last year (my boo was Sid Vicious). I had a faux hypodermic needle and everything.

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Costume: Hot pink gym shorts, DD bra stuffed to the cup, paisley blouse, 4-inch rhinestoned flip flops, long-blonde-curly-and-balding wig, face full of stubble and lipstick, and a nametag that reads "Hello, My Name is Your Mom."

Lavanya Ramanathan: Sir, I think you're going to win a copy of "Human Centipede" if you keep talking like that....

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Halloween costume: Several years ago, several girlfriends and I dressed up as superheros. Wonderwoman, Batgirl, Supergirl, and of course, the damsel in distress. It was fabulous. We drunkenly "fought crime" up and down Adams Morgan bars and rescued our damsel from forgotten bar tabs and long bathroom lines. Silly, yes, but oh so fun. I still have parts of my WonderWoman costume - I can't bear to part with the cape, gold bangle bracelets, and gold belt.

Lavanya Ramanathan: That's awesome! Can you come back and keep order again this year?Side note: I met Lynda Carter this year and almost cried like a little girl, I was so excited.

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Halloween: In college, a friend and I were a clothes line. We strung a piece of rope between us and clipped clothes to the line. We carried around detergent bottles (rinsed out, of course) with "adult beverages" and also clipped dryer sheets to ourselves. In hindsight, the dryer sheets were unnecessary, but it was a funny, if not totally awkward costume.

Lavanya Ramanathan: Another great one.

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Election Night : Can you suggest some places to watch election returns come in on Tuesday night?

Alex Baldinger: The Hawk & Dove is always good for that sort of thing. Actually, anywhere on Capitol Hill is.

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human centipede: I saw the trailer for that on Tosh.0. It looks beyond creepy even with Tosh's humorous interjections. There are simply no words to describe the mind that came up with this screenplay.

Alex Baldinger: But it's 100 percent medically accurate!**According to the DVD cover, which I'm looking forward to not having on my desk after this chat ends.

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Haunted Houses: I know there are a ton of parties, but are there any good haunted houses in DC proper? I heard about one at a museum I think, but don't know any more details... I just want something super scary in the city!

Lavanya Ramanathan: serial killers and executions, muahahaha!

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Bay Bridge costume: As I recall, it was both spans, altough it was a single piece of cardboard. But the lane markers were all painted, and the tower stay cables were his shoulder straps. And yeah, he was an engineering student.

Alex Baldinger: Gotta love those engineering kids, putting all of us liberal arts types to shame with our Sexy Abraham Lincoln costumes.

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Best Costume Ever!: A few years ago I bought some blue tights and a fitted tunic. I dyed a pair of Keds blue and glued large, strategically placed patches of cotton balls to my outfit... and went as "Partly Cloudy."

Lavanya Ramanathan: Nice!

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Costumes: I had the best Halloween costume ever, 2 years ago. I was bad mommy Britney, complete with a bald wig, waaaaay too short dress, ugly boots, and a beer swilling baby doll. I was awesome.

Lavanya Ramanathan: No umbrella?

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Surreal DC: FYI, my friends inquired about the "open bar" and were told that it's beer only. Since it's at a warehouse, they don't have a liquor license. They got refunds.

Lavanya Ramanathan: I'll make it more explicit. Thanks for your note.

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Parents' costumes: My sixty-something parents are notorious for their Halloween costumes. Last year they went as an outhouse and the Sears catalog. The year before they were a taco and a margarita. Then there was the year Mom was a cow and Dad was a cowpoke. I love my parents.

Amy Orndorff: I totally don't get how you can pull off a Sears catalog, but I will take your word for it.

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favorite halloween costume: oh, hands down, my fav halloween costume was when i was in the 3rd grade. i was a skeleton. my mom and i got the idea from the world book children's encyclopedia (yes, i'm that old). and i had black skully, black leotard and black tights. then we used white medical tape to make a skeleton. and it helped that i was SO DANG BONY TO BEGIN WITH. and i marched in the halloween parade at school. i can't even remember if i won i prize or not...but i sure was proud of my lil skinny self :-)

Justin Rude: Thank you. This is so inspired and simple I am going to steal it and make it my 2-year-olds third costume this year. The first two: sock monkey and Rubik's Cube.(I'm trying to get as many in before he is old enough to choose his own.)

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FOTOWEEK DC NIGHTGALLERY: Hey Gurus!Hope it's not too late to submit, but does anybody know how to find out the schedule for the NightGallery exhibit for FOTOWEEK DC? I know it's not until Nov. 6, but the website doesn't say squat! Is there anybody I can email about this?Thanks!

Lavanya Ramanathan: Patience, grasshopper. Fotoweek DC doesn't have it all settled yet. But we'll have plenty of details in next week's Weekend, dedicated to all things Fotoweek. (Sorry, shameless plug, I know...)

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Rally Costumes: Is it true that most folks are going to the rally in Halloween attire? I don't want to be the only one in plain clothes.

Alex Baldinger: Costume or no costume, you'll fit right in at this type of thing.

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Lavanya Ramanathan: All right, guys,Cloudy with a Chance of Rain, Wonder Woman and Co., Family of Cards, The Bay Bridge, And the bony SkeletonYou guys all win a pair of tickets to the awesome warehouse party Surreal DC.Thanks for playing! See you next week!


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