Don’t hate the holiday

A&E proudly supports love, red, pink, Cupid and candy hearts. Won't you be ours?

Darling, if Feb. 14 has you feeling more lovelorn than loved, don’t get too down in the dumps. There are plenty of ways to keep yourself from diving into the depths of despair just because you’re single at the moment. One of these involves cocktails and marathons of “Sex and the City,” but that’s not all you’re limited to. Bitter is definitely NOT better.

Just because you don’t have a date, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give and receive presents. Buy yourself a new lipstick if you’re female or take yourself out to a fancy dinner somewhere far, far away from Stadium Village. Trust us, the retail therapy pick-me-up is the way to go. Indulge in commercialism and capitalism. The economy needs your help.

Stuck in a cycle of bad men? Boyfriend bonfires. It’s like New Year’s Eve for your love life. Grab a couple of girlfriends, get a few bottles of wine, and put in your treasured Fiona Apple CD, then burn all that sappy memorabilia from relationships gone sour. Sure, it’s kind of “Fatal Attraction,” but if it makes you feel better. . .

Now, candy hearts, mushy gushy pet names and baby talk aside, you can look at Valentine’s Day in one of two ways: as a commercial construction of pink-and-red capitalism, or an excuse to appreciate yourself and those you love. You would be right either way.

Movies

Whether you’re cuddling with your super-hot psych-major girlfriend or late-nighting with your two closest guy friends, Ben and Jerry, there are a few V-Day flicks richer than that entire box of assorted Godiva chocolates. These achingly romantic films are just the thing to begin or conclude any evening, with or without a sweetie to nibble on.

Moulin Rouge

“Moulin Rouge” is probably the most stereotypically romantic film on our list; trust us, the movie practically spews romance out of the screen. With sweet-faced innocent Ewan Macgregor spouting love songs, more glitter than the Mardi Gras parade, and the oft-repeated central message being “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is to love and be loved in return,” it’s gooey Valentine goodness at its singing, dancing best. This might be one to enjoy with your girlfriends, ladies, ’cause it’s pretty much guaranteed to make your boyfriend squirm. Or serenade you. Also see “Amelie” for another deeply color-saturated, prettily orchestrated sapfest.

Atonement

Since some of you might have forgotten to schedule a V-Day date with your special someone, “Atonement” just happens to be a) perfect for sappy romantics and b) still in theaters. It’s one of those movies that carries you away on a cloud of sighing sentimentality, a large-scale epic in the vein of “Gone With the Wind” or “Titanic.” Plus there’s war. Romance flicks with war carnage, keeping dudes happy for 60 years.

10 Things I Hate About You

We didn’t choose this late ’90s teenybop in honor of its late star Heath Ledger; we chose it because it’s the best of its genre. “10 Things” is a reworking of the William Shakespeare classic “The Taming of the Shrew,” only with Julia Stiles and that kid from “3rd Rock from the Sun.” It’s, like, totally cute.

The Princess Bride

This 1980s fantasy classic is absolutely absurd and absolutely wonderful. What better way to celebrate pure, undying adoration than with the most fabled love story of all: Wesley and Buttercup. It’s just like a Grimm’s fairytale; swashbuckling sidekicks, a beautiful damsel in distress, big-hearted giants and Billy Crystal as a troll. Like we said, throw some fight scenes in there and it keeps the guys happy.

Life is Beautiful

Okay, this Italian import veers into some very unromantic territory toward its end, but “Life is Beautiful’s” first half is a dreamy delight. Roberto Benigni is charming, the little boy is adorable, and the film both fills and breaks your heart. Watch it with the subtitles and a big box of Kleenex; don’t be surprised if your partner lets loose with “the ugly cry.” That being said, perhaps this one isn’t best for a first date. But rest assured it’s amazing.

Chocolat

Chocolate, romance and France meet cinematography. “Chocolat,” a semi-scandalous film about tolerance and candy, hums a sweet message: the sanctity of freedom, pleasure, and love. This film can soften the most brutal, romance-hating heart. With obvious political themes and a few steamy scenes, this film is a blissful midpoint for a couple who can’t decide between a gory shoot-em-up or any Meg Ryan movie ever.

My Best Friend’s Wedding

Yes, ladies and gents, the quirky, gay best friend says it best: “It’s amazing the clarity that comes with psychotic jealousy.” We could never justify leaving Julia Roberts, the queen of the rom-com herself, off this list. Unlike the frilly belly-shirts and circular sunglasses, this flick never will never go out of style.

Gifts

Please don’t be a walking cliché while shopping for your sweetheart. There’s nothing worse than being presented with the traditional teddy bear and chocolates, or the tacky mall jewelry and dozen red roses. Creativity is key. Break out of that velvet heart-shaped chocolate box. Your mom always told you, “It’s the thought that counts,” and in this instance, she was definitely right.

For Her

Calvin Klein lingerie- If you absolutely must get your ladylove some sweet nothings to don and delight, stay far, far away from Victoria’s Secret (or even worse, Frederick’s of Hollywood). Nobody likes a cheap lace thong and uncomfortable red satin bustier. The classy chick likes Calvin for his variety of sexy, stylish, elegant but hip designs.

Pick a theme to truly show your lover how you feel. Perhaps an all-pink package including a spool of too-sweet-to-be-true cotton candy, a bouquet of pink carnations, and maybe one of those darling little iPod Nanos in a rosy hue would be the ticket to her heart. Or surprise your one and only with an impromptu picnic on the floor of your apartment; get some baguettes from our favorite grocery store, Lunds, some strawberries, a bottle of pink Champagne and absolutely do not forget the candles anchored in empty wine bottles for that “bohemian Italian garret” feel.

For a different, retro V-Day twist, grab a pair of those classic white figure skates for the girl in your life and take her for a spin around Mariucci Arena on Friday night.

We’ll say it again, originality and personalization is the key to every knock-out gift. If you are dead set on going the route of chocolates, at least get them from Godiva and not Cub Foods. Take it a sweet step further by picking the truffles yourself to avoid having to “test bite” each one.

For Him

It is universal knowledge that men, the harder-to-shop-for demographic, just don’t really care about what they receive on Valentine’s Day. If you’re set on giving your man something unique, we’ve compiled a quick list to give you a little inspiration.

If your man is the kind whose headphones never leave his ears, support his music-loving ways with tickets to see his favorite bands at First Avenue. And to make sure he fits in with the hip kids who frequent the Minneapolis hotspot, you can even design him a custom pair of Converse. (This is especially great if his ancient Chuck Taylors gross you out.)

For a gift you can enjoy together, start him off with a collection of his favorite DVDs; perhaps the Collected Works of Vince Vaughn or all four seasons of “Entourage.” Lazy Sundays no more when you have hours upon hours of “Nip/Tuck” to watch.

Another present to keep him thinking of you is a subscription to his favorite magazine; whether it’s “SPIN” or “Maxim,” reading material is important.

Martin Patrick is a mini-men’s boutique located in the center of the Walsh Design Group and Inside Design (211 First Ave. N. Minneapolis). One of its kind, the swanky store prides itself on its variety of “essentials for mankind.” With a wide range of coffee table books, wallets, cufflinks, man jewelry and bags, you’re sure to find an original present for a guy with any reading on the metrosexuality scale.

When you’re going to go the cliché route of cologne, make sure that the scent is something light and playful. Guys are more apt to wear cologne when it doesn’t feel thick and layered on. Please, ladies and gents, under no circumstances is “Fierce” acceptable. A&E crawled on over to Sephora just for you and found our two favorite scents: “Vintage” by John Varvatos, and Calvin Klein’s new deliciousness that is “Man.”

Music

A very wise man once said, “Some people wanna fill the world with silly love songs, so what’s wrong with that?” Yes, that philosopher was Paul McCartney, author of some of the world’s most famous little ditties about love and romance, so he obviously knew what he was talking about. The silly love song is a touchstone of Valentine’s Day and if you’re making a mixtape for your nearest and dearest, we here at A&E have a few suggestions.

“I’ll Be Your Mirror” The Velvet Underground & Nico

For the indie kid in your heart, this sweet little ditty from punk pioneers The Velvet Underground is far from the jarring noise-rock they’re famous for. German chanteuse Nico coos the heartfelt lyrics: “I’ll be your mirror in case you don’t know the beauty you are.”

“Maps” Yeah Yeah Yeahs

You wouldn’t expect a love song from this New York trio, but with “Maps,” ultra-cool frontwoman Karen O. restrains her penchant for howling like a sexy alley cat and instead uses her gargantuan voice to gently convince her lover to stay: “Wait, they don’t love you like I love you.”

“La Vie en Rose” Edith Piaf/Louis Armstrong

For those of you feelin’ a little jaded as Feb. 14 rolls around, just a spin of this absolute classic will lift those cynical spirits. Piaf’s torch song is sung in French, the widely accepted language of love, while Louis does his in English. Either way, “La Vie en Rose” is sentimentality at its best. It also happens to be the best way to pretend you’re a member of the Old Hollywood set.

“Such a Way” Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers

Stephen Kellogg is a sore-hearted country singer whose aching ballad reminisces about those women he has loved (“I told her she was beautiful, and she thanked me for the words”), and their contribution to his love life. His tender voice is a soothing message for any hurting heart. “She moves in such a way that I still fall in love with her every single day.”

“Belle” Jack Johnson

This minute-and-a-half serenade is the reason that Jack Johnson continues to melt us with his rolling voice. The simplicity of the song’s message is perfect for anyone who believes in love at first sight (and I think you do). “Belle, Je ne comprends pas français. So you’ll have to speak to me some other way.”

“Turn Me On” Norah Jones

One of the sexiest singers of all time, Jones’ soothing voice rolls over that delicious human need. The luscious metaphors (“[like] a glass is waiting for some fresh ice cubes”) perfectly depict the need for that one person who can turn you on just as easily as they can piss you off.

“Lack of Height” Caroline Smith

Local artist Caroline Smith’s (myspace.com/carolinesmithmusic) humming melody “I’m losing myself dreaming of you” sweetly murmurs of a long night of wandering minds and intertwined fingers. The track’s trailing finale begs you to hit replay.

“L-O-V-E” Nat King Cole

To finalize our celebration of the loveliest holiday of all, take your cue from Mr. Suave himself and dance around your apartment to this classic. Cheer up, sourpuss, romance is not dead.