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Queer eye for the single guy (or gal) 

Hurry up. They keep telling me speed dating is the answer. And though the six-minute courtship vignettes cut out a lot of the aggravation (by creeps) and rejection (if you're a creep), there's still nothing like the thrill of the hunt: that sense of slow seduction. But more and more folks have less and less time to gamble with love, to venture out on drawn-out love safaris. Hence, speed dating.

            Until recently, speed-dating events were broken up by age and religion. It was only a matter of time before it went gay.

            "We started doing some research on it and found so far the only cities that were doing gay speed dating were New York City and San Francisco," says Nicole Mahoney, who runs The Single's Dating Event through Rochester Info-Courses.

            Eric Kreller does public relations for the event. He considers the coming out of gay speed dating in Rochester "a huge step" toward a better reception.

            "I think so much more acceptance has come about with so many television shows focusing on the gay community," he says.

            I've observed several speed-dating events in the past, and this first-time gay event was comparably swank. It was in downtown's Clarion Riverside Hotel, there was an abundance of fruit and cheese, and the bartenders were sharply dressed. This was not some goofy bar. The event was both laidback and classy, punctuated by the nervous chatter and laughter of 50 first-time participants.

            The success of the pilot event may ensure more gay speed-dating in the future. Info-Courses plans to host one every other month starting in March.

            "The upside for me is, I get to meet 10 guys I probably wouldn't meet in a bar," says Info-Courses instructor and speed-dating hopeful Don Woodruff.

            Info: www.gaysinglesdatingevent.com or 866-602-DATE

--- Frank De Blase

No foolin'

The day some thought would never arrive has come and gone. Ground has been broken and construction is set to begin on PaeTec Park --- future home of the Rochester Raging Rhinos.

            The last in a long series of delays was the relocation of Empire Precision Plastics, 460 Oak Street. Officials feared the stadium would hurt the company's business. Empire will be moving to 500 Lee Road in the city. Total cost of the relocation is around $800,000, with the county chipping in $100,000.

            The Rhinos will lease the Oak Street building for the team's administrative office, locker rooms, and team store.

            Phase I of the stadium construction --- which is supposed to begin immediately --- will consist of 12,500 permanent lower bowl seats and 4,500 upper bowl bleacher-style seats. The funding picture for the initial phase consists of a $15 million state grant and a private investment from the Rhinos in the form of commercial financing, food concessionaire financial commitment, and a cash contribution --- about $1.5 million --- from the team.

            The Rhinos hope to begin playing at PaeTec this fall. The Rochester Rattlers --- a Major League Lacrosse team --- will also call PaeTec home. Team officials have said, too, that the stadium will be used to host events such as Buffalo Bills scrimmages, high school and collegiate soccer, lacrosse and field hockey, women's professional soccer, and high school and collegiate football.

Shake your Rump

Members of the Rump Group are "unbelievably pleased" by County Executive Maggie Brooks' performance so far.

            Tom Richards and John "Dutch" Summers praised Brooks at a lej committee meeting recently. They singled out her efforts to study economic development efforts in the county.

            Richards and Summers discussed the group's goals for 2004 and some of the challenges facing the county.

            The first priority, Richards says, is to get the economy moving. Rochester's economy, he says, is undergoing a fundamental shift away from manufacturing. If the county can't get its financial house in order, he says, he "despairs" at its ability to solve other problems.

            The county also needs to beat the bushes to create jobs and to attract and maintain businesses, Richards says.

            Summers called for an end to the malaise that he says has gripped the community. Rochester, he says, needs exciting projects and market-rate homes.

            The Rump Group, Richards says, has no desire to lead these efforts, only to "move them along." In the end, he says, the group will probably disappear either because it's no longer relevant or because its mission has been accomplished.

            "The irony is, if we do a good job, you get all the credit," said Summers to legislators.

He's your daddy

Even if filmmaker Matthew Ehlers wasn't from Rochester, he'd still warrant a section in my permanent video library (he's on the shelf between Atom Egoyan and the Farrelly brothers). My own personal tastes aside, you know Ehlers is up to something good because his latest --- Who's Your Daddy? --- represents the third time in as many years that one of his shorts has landed in Park City, Utah, for the super-prestigious Sundance Film Festival.

            The film's payoff is even more drop-dead hysterical than Ehlers' wickedly funny Autobank, and that's not a statement I make lightly. (I watched Autobank eight times in a row and still couldn't stop laughing.) You can catch it online, along with numerous other Sundance shorts, at www.sundanceonlinefilmfestival.org.

--- Jon Popick

Correcting ourselves

When previewing the Democratic prez primaries (January 14), Jack Bradigan Spula wrongly said Madonna is backing Howard Dean. In fact, the entertainer endorsed Wesley Clark. Spula regrets the material error.

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