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Posted at 2:08 PM ET, 05/22/2007

Free on Wednesday?

By Fritz Hahn

Need to get over the midweek blahs but trying to stretch your cash until payday? Trust me, I know the feeling. Here are three suggestions for fun things to do today and tonight while not spending too much money.

The Beautiful Game

First, it's the biggest European soccer game of the year: The final of the Champions League, a continent-wide competition that pits the top teams from every country against each other through multiple qualifying rounds, a mini-league tournament and two-legged playoff matches. Now it's all down to two teams: Liverpool (England) and AC Milan (Italy), in a reprise of the incredibly dramatic 2005 final, which Liverpool won on penalty kicks.

A number of Irish pubs and soccer-friendly bars are showing the game live with no cover -- kickoff is at 2:45 p.m. -- but few are offering specials. I'll admit I hadn't thought of Duffy's Irish Pub as a place to watch football, but the happy hour might change my mind. Nine beers are marked down to $2 (Stella, Red Stripe, Corona, Bud, Heineken, Amstel Light, etc.), and shepherd's pie and fish and chips platters are $7.95. It doesn't have the big televisions you'd find at, say, Summers, but the prices are far better.

In Arlington, Liverpool hotspot Kitty O'Shea's will have an extended lunch special (black angus roast beef) and discounted Miller Lites until 4 or 5. Adams Morgan's 90 Min Cafe is small, but with beers priced at $2-$3, it's a good value. Newcomer Babylon Futbol Cafe is still deciding what specials to offer, but when you can watch the game on a 16-by-9-foot screen -- yes, it's really that big -- it's got to be high on anyone's list.

If you can't sneak out of work to watch the game, just stay off the internet: Flanagan's Harp and Fiddle is showing the match again at 7 p.m., Summers has a playback at 8, and Kitty O'Shea's offers a rerun at 9.

Some Beautiful Sounds

Fans of old-school funk, greasy R&B and chunky rare grooves love Soul Sides, an MP3 blog run by crate digger and soul aficionado Oliver Wang. He uncovers vintage vinyl singles, forgotten hip-hop tracks and deep funk rarities for his loyal readers, encouraging them to do some exploring of their own. Two years ago, Wang put out a compilation called (what else?) "Soul Sides," with hard-to-find tracks by Donny Hathaway and Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, among others. For pure shots of Latin soul and uptempo party fuel, it was one of the year's best releases.

Now Wang is back with "Soul Sides Volume Two: The Covers," which is just what the title promises. Al Green performs the Beatles' "I Want to Hold Your Hand," while his own "Here I Am (Come and Take Me)" gets a reworking by Marcia Griffiths. For local interest, the CD includes veteran reggae singer Donavan Carless's 1972 take on "Be Thankful For What You Got," the biggest hit for D.C. native William DeVaughn.

The official release party for "Soul Sides Volume Two" is tonight at Cafe Saint-Ex's Gate 54 Lounge, where Neville Chamberlain, Todd Mack and Big Nick will be spinning album cuts as well as their own brand of incredibly funky (and rare) records, full of bongos and screaming brass and irresistible boogaloo grooves. There's no cover and the music starts at 10. The dancing should go all night.

Beautiful Noir

Finally, take advantage of some of this lovely (but not too-hot) weather by checking out a free screening of "L.A. Confidential" at the American City Diner in Chevy Chase. Watching a dimly lit noir crime film about murders in a Los Angeles diner while enjoying a burger and a milkshake at a Washington diner sounds like a plan, but the warming temperatures mean that you can catch the film on the Diner's intimate "Movie Deck" without packing a sweater. It's not fancy, but there's a decent-sized screen, and the slightly dingy atmosphere should go well with Kevin Spacey and Russell Crowe's tough-talking cops.

The film starts at 8, but get there early to get a seat.

-- Fritz

By Fritz Hahn  | May 22, 2007; 2:08 PM ET
Categories:  Misc.  
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