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december 31
Too much Christmas shopping may have tapped you out, but it hasn't dampened your enthusiasm for celebrating New Year's Eve.
Maybe you should take the family, head downtown, and close out 1998 at the Big Orange New Year's Eve Celebration, the nation's largest New Year's bash south of Times Square. The fun starts at 4:00 p.m. at Bayfront Park (301 Biscayne Blvd.). John Kay and Steppenwolf, with opening acts Scott Rees and the Goods, entertain on the Amphitheater stage. A Latin stage features Richy Cepeda, Eddie Santiago, and headliner Oro Solido. Kids can enjoy a variety of activities, including amusement rides and a winter wonderland with ice-skating. Food will be peddled at an array of booths. And at midnight the 35-foot, neon Big Orange will drop from the top of the Hotel Inter-Continental and a magnificent fireworks display will light up the sky. Admission is free. Call 305-375-8480.

Okay so he doesn't exactly have his father's powerful pipes, or his amazing charisma, or his confident swagger, but Frank Sinatra, Jr., is still a Sinatra. And any Sinatra is still a thrill. For a special New Year's Eve performance, Frank Jr. brings his 20-piece orchestra to the place where his daddy-o used to hang in the late-Fifties and early-Sixties, the Fontainebleau Hilton Resort and Spa (4441 Collins Ave., Miami Beach). Trust us. It will be okay. Just close your eyes and think of Frank Sr. The crooning starts at 8:00 p.m. Tickets cost $145, $175, and $195. Call 305-672-7649.

january 1
Imagine the classic Greek tragedy Antigone set not in Greece, but in Haiti. In 1953 the late Haitian poet Felix-Morisseau Leroy took a big risk by adapting the drama, a veiled reference to the turmoil in his own country, for Creole-speakers. He recast the setting of civil-war-torn Thebes to a rural village in Haiti. There King Creon reigns as a vodou nobleman, making life very difficult for everyone, especially his defiant niece Antigone, the daughter of Oedipus. She wants to bury her brother Polynices, but Creon won't allow it. Guess what she ends up doing? We won't tell, but you can find out when Sosyete Koukouy presents a stylized performance of the play (with an English translation) tonight at 7:00 p.m. at the auditorium of the Joseph Caleb Center, 5400 NW 22nd Ave. Tickets cost five dollars. Call 305-636-2350.

january 2
Since it takes about a year to learn to tune the sitar, it may be one of the toughest musical instruments (aside from the bagpipes and maybe the accordion) to master. Just ask former Beatle George Harrison, who in the Sixties took lessons from sitar king Ravi Shankar. Although Harrison was stirred to produce all those Indian-inspired melodies on the Revolver album, he admits they weren't quite right. Still going strong at age 78, Shankar, whom Harrison dubbed the godfather of world music, makes a rare concert appearance tonight at 8:00 at the Jackie Gleason Theater of the Performing Arts (1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach). He introduces one of his more successful students, his seventeen-year-old daughter Anoushka. This past September they played a little gig together ... at Carnegie Hall! Tickets cost $20, $35, and $75. Call 305-673-7300.

After spending a good deal of the Eighties hearing Boy George, the lead singer of Culture Club, extol his innocence when it came to drug use, you have to admit your pristine image of the drag-queen-looking guy with dread locks was thoroughly sullied when you found out what a mess he really was. All the fun went out of singing along to "I'll Tumble 4 Ya" and you started searching for hidden drug references in "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?"

Well, George, who's been working as a DJ for the past few years on the London club scene, has cleaned up his act at last. He's gathered his old band and embarked on a wildly successful tour, which arrives at 8:00 tonight at Sunrise Musical Theatre, 5555 95th Ave., Sunrise. DJ Martone Laurence, Jr. opens the show. Tickets range from $25 to $30. Call 954-741-7300.

january 3
Ever since John Glenn admitted to spending two hours upchucking on the space shuttle after it landed, the romance associated with hurtling through the mysterious universe just about evaporated for you. What could ever make you nostalgic again for the thought of soaring to a faraway place where your vomit will be suspended in the zero-gravity atmosphere? Perhaps Peter Nero and Pops at the Philharmonic will do the trick. Tonight at 8:00 at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts (201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale), Nero and his cohorts present a musical program called "A Voyage into Space." What you'll get for your entertainment dollar: a selection of songs from sci-fi movies, a composition written by Nero, and narration by a real live (hopefully not heaving) NASA astronaut. We can't say which one. Tickets cost $20, $27, $40, and $52. Call 305-930-1812.

january 4
Every year you take friends from out-of-town to Vizcaya Museum and Gardens (3251 S. Miami Ave.). You're so familiar with the many rooms overflowing with art, antiques, and tapestries you could conduct tours yourself. Maybe, as a change of pace, you should consider taking your friends on the Vizcaya Moonlight Garden Tour. Tonight at 7:30, by the light of the moon, get to know flowers, fountains, hedges, and that confounding maze. The Italian Renaissance-style villa, built in 1916 by International Harvester scion James Deering, boasts ten acres of formal gardens, so plan on being there a while. Admission is five dollars. Call 305-250-9133.

january 5
So you wanna be a rock and roll star? If anyone can help you out it's the hipsters at Songwriters in the Round. The monthly musical event, which consists of an open-mike hour and then a handful of established singers doing their thing in the round, is a bit different this evening. Before the open-mike component, they're presenting a panel discussion titled "Music Publishing 101," featuring Ellen Moraksie of Warner/Chappell Music's Latin division and entertainment lawyer John Bradley. Afterward, you can listen to artists crooning the blues, or sign up to sing yourself. Slated to appear: Michael Locke with Stan "One Night Stan's" Waldman; Jamie "King" Colton; and Sheba Israel and Ken "The Snowman" Minahan of Sheba and the Rhythm Kings. (First rule before you become a blues artist: Adopt a cool nickname!) Showtime is 6:00 p.m. at Power Studios, 3701 NE Second Ave. Admission costs ten dollars. Call 305-899-7346.

january 6
Conspiracies, murder, witches, war, all-consuming lust for power, and bloodshed! An average day in our nation's capitol? No, just a few of the elements found in Florida Grand Opera's production of Giuseppe Verdi's Macbeth, based on Shakespeare's play of the same name. The story of the Scottish nobleman who thinks he'd make a great king but learns otherwise is one of the Italian composer's most challenging works. Baritone Justino Diaz and soprano Deborah Voight sing the roles of Macbeth and his social climbing wife, who has a thing for clean laundry. The show goes on tonight at 8:00 at Miami-Dade County Auditorium (2701 W. Flagler St.). Other performances take place next Saturday, Tuesday, and Friday at 8:00 p.m., with a 2:00 p.m. matinee Sunday. Tickets range from $19-$133. Call 305-854-7890.


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