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Live music
Old friends -- expensive old friends
Sure, it's terribly exciting to see SIMON & GARFUNKEL touring together again. But is there a payment plan available for tickets to the legendary folk duo's DEC. 20 Atlanta show? It's a hard choice -- seeing Simon & Garfunkel in concert, buying Christmas presents for loved ones, or feeding the homeless. $52-$227. 6:30 p.m. (doors). Philips Arena, One Philips Drive. 404-241-6400. Heather Kuldell

Live music
On Dasher, on Dancer ... on Simpson?
Ascendant pop-culture icon JESSICA SIMPSON takes a break from her "Newlyweds" reality responsibilities DEC. 20 to host STAR 94'S JINGLE JAM. Along with the ubiquitous Mrs. Simpson-Lachey, look for appearances from Star 94 personalities and performances by the frenetic BARENAKED LADIES, adult-popsters MAROON 5 and siren-cum-new-mom SARAH McLACHLAN. Quite a lineup -- but Jessica should own the show. She's got killer pipes, she's beautiful and she asks questions that get to the heart of what we want as a society. Questions like, "Is this chicken that I have ... Or is this fish?" Seriously, how can you not love her? $27-$37. 7 p.m. The Arena at Gwinnett Center, 6400 Sugarloaf Parkway. 404-241-6400. Steve Yockey

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!
On DEC. 19, a restored, re-mastered edition of THE WIZARD OF OZ drops into Madstone Theaters Parkside, and neither tornadoes nor witches nor poppy fields should keep you from the one-week run of this 60th anniversary re-release. Experience the magic of Technicolor(TM)! Glory in the special-effects magic -- bubble travel, prismatic horses, talking scarecrows, flying monkeys! Hear Judy Garland sing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" long before today's pop divas crucified it with their vocal gymnastics. You need this in your life. $5. Mon.-Sun. 1 and 7 p.m. Through Dec. 25. 5920 Roswell Road. 404-252-2000. -- SY

Heaven sent
7 Stages' DEC. 20 fundraising benefit for the play HEAVEN IS LATE lends a hand to Iraq's cultural reconstruction. Written by Iraqi playwright Falah Shakier and translated by Eric McAfee, Heaven is Late will be staged next year at Baghdad's Iraqi National Theater; Saturday's benefit features a discussion and video screening of the work in progress. 7 p.m., 7 Stages, 1105 Euclid Ave. Free. 404-522-0911. Curt Holman

The Short List

Dec 18 - Thursday
Baroque pop's happy-sad dynamic is well-served in the sweaty hands of Joe Pernice, who brings his PERNICE BROTHERS to town for an encore performance in support of the band's latest CD, Yours, Mine & Ours. With Blake Hazzard and Rose Hill. $8. 9 p.m. (doors). The Earl, 488 Flat Shoals Ave. 404-522-3950. (Hobart Rowland)

Dec 19 - Friday
For now, DROPSONIC is the sole property of the emo/indie rockers who frequent local clubs like the Earl. But that may change now that the band is recording its fourth album for Dallas Austin's Rowdy Records. See them now, before it's too late. With Maroon and Ryan McDougall. $7-$8. 10 p.m. (doors). 488 Flat Shoals Ave. 404-522-3950. (Michael Wall)

Dec 20 - Saturday
Comedian KEVIN POLLAK has had dramatic roles in A Few Good Men and The Usual Suspects. But it's a safe bet that on stage, Bravo's "Celebrity Poker Showdown" host will fall back on a few impressions. His Christopher Walken is decent -- even if nobody does Walken like, well, Walken. $25-$27.50. Thurs. 8:30 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. 8 and 10 p.m. Funny Farm Comedy Club, 608 Holcomb Bridge Road, Roswell. 770-892-5533. (HK)

Dec 21 - Sunday
Tragically, our recent infatuation with ruffled shirts, bedazzled jeans and leg warmers has confused many into thinking that the '80s are hip again. To gain some perspective on fashion's cannibalistic "retro" phases, consult GONE WITH GIRDLE: FREEDOM, RESTRAINT AND POWER IN WOMEN'S DRESS, a fashion timeline with an Atlanta slant. $7-$12. Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; Sun. noon-5:30 p.m. Through April 18. Atlanta History Center, 130 W. Paces Ferry Road. 404-814-4000. (HK)

Dec 22 - Monday
CHRISTMAS WITH G-SWING (that's swing, not string) combines the swinging sounds of the '20s and '30s with the thump-thump of house. Features Chicagos' James Curd with Jeff Myers and Caleb. $7-$10. 11 p.m. The Mark, 79 Poplar St. 678-904-0050. (HK)

Dec 23 - Tuesday
Be smart and finish your shopping today. Because tomorrow, comfort and joy officially go AWOL as the malls turn into some kind of apocalyptic killing fields straight out of the Book of Revelations. Listen, it's this simple: Playstation2 -- $199.99; subscription to Sports Illustrated -- $29.95; Sharper Image personal "back" massager -- $99.95; heeding this brilliant advice -- priceless. (SY)

Dec 24 - Wednesday
If you took our advice, your Christmas Eve can now be spent absorbing a little culture instead of throwing elbows at a mall. This is the final day to see Don Alexander's 200 Stripe Paintings, an impressive installation of more than, uh, 200 paintings. Tues.- Sat. noon-5 p.m. Saltworks Gallery, 635 Angier Ave. 404-876-8000. (HK)

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