This Week's Day by Day Picks

Thursday August 21

We've said it 99 times before, and now we'll say it for the 100th time. We've never seen a fat fireman! The time we got stuck in an elevator with our friend's dog (who, if you must know, was very calm about the whole matter), the men who extricated us were (and sorry if this sounds sexist) two jaw-dropping specimens of manhood. The time our car caught fire at the bank drive-through, the men who extinguished the blaze were as hot as the inferno under our hood. And the time.... Oh, well, you get the point. Never had the privilege of seeing a firefighter in action? Head to Level (1235 Washington Ave., Miami Beach) tonight at 9:00 for the unveiling of the 2004 edition of the South Florida Firefighters Calendar. There seventeen of the burly bucks will do a little dance. And for a mere $15 purchase, you can guarantee yourself a man (or more) a month. Proceeds from sales go to community-aid organization Neighbors 4 Neighbors and drug treatment/rehab program Here's Help. Cover charge is $20. If you're not a night owl, or you're just broke as hell, you can hang with the hunks Saturday, August 23, at Aventura Mall (19501 Biscayne Blvd.), where they will sign and sell calendars (no dancing) at 3:00 p.m. Admission is free. Call 305-935-1110. (NK)

Friday August 22

In case you haven't heard, Miami is hosting the Latin Grammy Awards. The distinction will forever wipe away our fair city's image as a banana republic. It's only glamorous gowns and shapely Shakira bodies from now on. Sure, the local media has only mentioned it every other moment, but just in case, those sharp planners of the event are staging several Latin Grammy events in public parks and outdoor areas from Hialeah to Florida City. Tonight the Grammies are partying in style with a black-tie Latin Grammy Fest Event at the newly christened Parrot Jungle Island (1111 Parrot Jungle Trail, Watson Island). The event honors the music and cultures of Haiti and Panama. City of Miami Mayor Manny Diaz is scheduled to make an appearance. The party starts at 6:30 p.m. Tickets cost $500. Call 305-860-3823. (JCR)

Saturday August 23

One hundred fifty years ago Commodore Matthew Perry brought the United States Navy to Japan, ending 250 years of the country's isolation and bullying his way through agreements on trade, promises of supplies to docked American ships, and humane treatment of shipwrecked sailors. We wonder if Perry ever gave thought to the extent that the West would influence Japan. Little did he realize, one day Japan would be swamped with Levis, rock and roll, fast food, and opera. Opera? Don't believe us? Then take a listen to Japanese opera singer Kohdo Tanaka. At 5:00 p.m. the internationally known tenor will come to FIU's Wertheim Performing Arts Center (11200 SW Eighth St.) for a recital of traditional Japanese tunes and popular Italian songs. Admission is free. Call 305-348-1914. (NK)

Sunday August 24

According to the going rate at most gyms and yoga studios, the average price you pay per downward-facing dog or mountain pose is about $20. Not really, but considering that stretching and strengthening is as natural to the human body as breathing and drinking, the prices of these classes are pretty steep. Especially since Madonna made it a cool thing for professional mothers to twist themselves into knots. As a result, yoga is now fashionable. Today one of the coolest studios, Synergy Center for Yoga and the Healing Arts (435 Española Way, Miami Beach) is opening its doors looking for new acolytes. The modern stretchmeisters will be conducting a full day of classes and meditations for all who are interested. All they ask for is a wave of good karmic vibes in return. The studio has classes beginning at 9:00 a.m. Admission is free. Call 305-538-7073. (JCR)

Monday August 25

Most people are well aware that the ultimate elixir of love is liberal doses of alcohol. Classical composer Gaetano Donizetti (1797-1848) probably agreed because booze (namely several bottles of Bordeaux) is mentioned often in his opera L'Elisir d'Amore (The Elixir of Love). The gist: A lowly farmer tries to win the love of a wealthy country girl. Of course he plies her with a fair amount of vino. It seems to work and soon the whole town is boozing it up! Ain't love grand! Tonight and tomorrow at 7:00 p.m. a four-year-old group that calls itself Amici dell'Arte (Friends of the Arts) will present a concert version of the opera and, it's hoped, remain sober throughout. Hear them at the Coral Gables Congregational Church (3010 De Soto Blvd.). Tickets cost $10 and $15. Call 305-373-4340. (NK)

Tuesday August 26

Forget the cowrie shells, crystal balls, and coffee grounds and find out what your future holds at -- of all places -- the spa. From 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. the theme is metaphysics at the Elemis Spa Monthly Cultural Event. There while you suck down wine and chow on hors d'oeuvres, an astrologer will read your stars, a palm reader and epidermologist will pick up clues from your hands and skin, a reflexologist will uncover the secrets on the soles of your feet, and an iridologist will stare deep into your eyes. As you hear the good or bad news, you can also partake of neck massages, hair consultations, and paraffin-wax hand dips. Relaxed and possibly optimistic by the event's end, you just might luck out and win a drawing for an Absolute Spa Ritual. It all happens at Elemis Spa, Village of Merrick Park, 330 San Lorenzo Ave., Coral Gables. Admission is $15, which can be applied to a future spa treatment. Call 305-774-7171 to RSVP. (NK)

Wednesday August 27

The first lesson you learn when getting your SCUBA diving certification is never go diving alone. After all, who will be around to tell of the great white shark that just made a meal out of you? Your diving buddy is as essential to you as your oxygen, so it would be worth your while to get to know more diving enthusiasts. The South Beach Divers Dive Club, a network of deep-sea ocean lovers, meets every month to plan excursions and compare underwater experiences. Be sure to polish up your giant barracuda and your I-punched-a-mako-in-the-nose stories. Once you get this group going, you're bound to get into great and deep-fried fish tales. The group meets at 7:00 p.m. at South Beach Divers, 850 Washington Ave., Miami Beach. Admission is free. Call 305-531-6110. (JCR)