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What Atlanta will do this week

New Year's Eve events
Swapping year-end spit
No matter how you do it, where you do it and what you do it with, everyone's looking for a place to wile away those final minutes of 2002, preferably with someone to kiss. Here's our picks for a perfect night of NEW YEAR'S EVE revelry (for a complete listing of events, see Happenings.

The 14th annual PEACH DROP at Underground Atlanta is a family-friendly 16-hour marathon featuring live music and activities. The countdown leading up to the moment when gravity gets the best of the 800-pound piece of fruit includes music by Little Richard and finishes up with fireworks over the downtown skyline. Free. Dec. 31, noon-4 a.m. Underground Atlanta, downtown. 404-523-2311.

Underground is also the site of a five-day celebration at BLUES IN THE ALLEY. A preliminary showdown of unsigned Atlanta blues bands takes place at the Kenny's Alley outdoor stage DEC. 27-31; 10 winners compete in the finals on New Year's Eve. That same night, a non-stop party hosted by BET's Def Poet, Goldie, happens nearby at the former Warner Brothers Suite, with R&B music, food and drinks. Blues showdown: free; Fri.-Tues. 1-10 p.m. Blues in the Alley New Year's Eve: $50 per person, $80 per couple; Tues. 8 p.m.-4 a.m. R&B Party: Free; Tues. noon-2 a.m. Blues in the Alley, Underground Atlanta, downtown. 770-322-9481.

The promoters of 003 NYE are expecting a haute crowd of more than 3,000 New Year's Eve revelers to pack four entertainment environments at SciTrek. The dance zone includes multimedia projection with live video mixing, DJs and a performance by dance/electronica act Aerial. The ASCAP Soul Lounge features live performances by Atlanta neo-soul and R&B acts, and the Relax Space is geared toward acid jazz and blues. $100. 9 p.m.-3 a.m. SciTrek, 395 Piedmont Ave.

The concentrated chaos begins early at 11:50 NEW YEAR'S EVE, with 10 minutes of dancing midgets, drag-queen pillow fights, fire breathers, belly dancers, percussion, snake dancers, balancing acts and balloon drops. Also look for comp champagne toasts, and DJs inside and out. $40-$150. 8 p.m. eleven50, 1150 Peachtree St. 404-874-0428.

Shuck the dressed-to-impress throngs for a little political skewering SOUTHERN DISCOMFORT style. The local satire ensemble returns for its seventh year of New Year's Eve entertaining. Expect skits aimed at everyone from Jennifer Lopez to Saddam Hussein, the Billy McKinney spelling bee, and more. $25. 6 and 8:30 p.m. Neighborhood Playhouse, 430 W. Trinity Place, Decatur. 770-352-0097.

And for those who want to twirl and toke away the waning minutes of 2002, Athens jam institution WIDESPREAD PANIC plays two marathon shows DEC. 30-31. Fans should find these performances especially poignant, in light of the recent loss of guitarist Michael Houser to cancer. $48.50. 8 p.m. (doors). Philips Arena, One Philips Drive. 404-249-6400.
-- Jerry Portwood

Tight squeeze
This year's version of the Atlanta Ballet's campy parody, THE NUTTY NUTCRACKER, shows what can happen when your tights are a little too tight. With an array of dance styles and "guest stars," the ballet presents the benefit performance one night only DEC. 27. The performance features an "American Idol" sing-off between the Rat King and Austin Powers, cell-phone-wielding flowers, Batman and a well-endowed Robin, and more. $23-$53. 8 p.m. Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St. 404-817-8700.
-- JP

Bad tidings
You might find it hard to sleep this holiday season after a visit to your local cineplex. Already there's a war raging in Middle Earth and dark adventures brewing at Hogwarts for Harry and friends. Now filmgoers are hit with a heavy dose of reality -- organized crime, suicide, racism, gang violence. Probably the lightest holiday release of the bunch is the on-screen adaptation of the classic musical CHICAGO, starring Catherine Zeta-Jones, Renee Zellweger and Richard Gere. RABBIT-PROOF FENCE takes on the unseemly racist underbelly of Australia and its adverse affect on young Aboriginal women. Denzel Washington's directorial debut, ANTWONE FISHER, portrays the "angry black man" in an unflinching portrait based on a true story. And there's always Marty Scorcese's bloody, star-studded GANGS OF NEW YORK, with Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel Day-Lewis and Cameron Diaz mucking it up in 1846 New York. Sound joyful to you? Maybe if you're a sociopath. For details, see Flicks.
-- JP



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