This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

Thursday, February 20: Western acrobats are usually a shadow of their Eastern counterparts. After all, troupes such as the Peking Acrobats base their performances on several millennia of tradition. About the time Jesus was preaching love thy neighbor and indirectly touching off the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, and Pat Robertson, Chinese gymnasts were first developing the acrobatic art. The Peking Acrobats, though they first got together in 1952, tap into those centuries of tradition through the perfection of their performance and the elegance of their costumes. The group demonstrates its grace and agility at the Dolly Hand Cultural Arts Center (Palm Beach Community College, 1977 College Dr., Belle Glade). Tickets cost $5 for children, $17 for seniors, and $20 for adults. Call 561-993-1160.

Friday, February 21: Polka is music's redheade stepchild. Mommy never loved it, and Daddy never wanted it to begin with. But all those years of neglect and abuse have taken their toll. Polka's mad as hell, and it's not going to take it anymore! It's gonna go rob a liquor store, knock up the chick at Circle K, and refuse to pay child support. But first, it's gonna tussle with some of them rowdy punks down at Spanky's (510 Clematis St., West Palm Beach). Boys Go to War, Upperclass Trash, Lust Waffle, and Next to Never suit up to join forces with the dark side in "A Tribute to Polka Punk." Join in the insanity, and place your bets. You got polka in my punk! You got punk in my polka! Hey, boys, save it for the stage. The all-ages show starts at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $5. Call 561-832-7964.

Saturday, February 22: If it weren't for Lisa Loeb, the indie-rock kids might never have discovered those nerdy black-rimmed glasses. But don't write her off as a mere eyewear innovator. Aside from contributions to fashion, Loeb has a sure place in the rock record books: She's the only independent artist ever to reach number one on the charts. The Reality Bites soundtrack introduced most of the listening world to Loeb with her unlikely hit "Stay," and Loeb has been playing catch-up ever since. She wisely followed up "Stay" by inking a deal with Geffen and releasing Tails, which was swiftly followed by 1997's Firecracker. And then... silence. It took another five years for the world to see a new Loeb album, Cake and Pie. The record is worth the wait, though, as Loeb combines her songwriting talents with those of country-western hitmaker Randy Scruggs and, somewhat more understandably, Dweezil Zappa. For her performance at Respectable Street Cafe (518 Clematis St., West Palm Beach) at 8 p.m., local faves Remember the Ocean open, with Will Hoge also on the bill. Heck, even a Hoge/Remember the Ocean lineup would be worth the ticket prices -- $8 in advance, $10 day of the show. Call 561-832-9999.

Sunday, February 23: OK, so there's this kid. And he's blind, deaf, and dumb. Yet somehow, he's the Kasparov of the pinball set. Legions of fans begin following him. But eventually, they become disenchanted. As any classic-rock fan worth his faded Led Zeppelin T-shirt knows, this is a very trimmed-down summary of the Who's Tommy. The rock opera by Pete Townshend, a man renowned for his ability to inflate his own ego, was a staggering piece of hubris that turned to gold. When Tommy, the album, came out, it had an immediate impact. Bill Graham, Patron Saint of Promoting, recalled in his autobiography, Bill Graham Presents, how for months after the album's release, the staff at the Fillmore insisted on hearing "Pinball Wizard" while they set up for shows. True, re-creations of the rock opera have been mostly less than successful. One need only look to the garish film adaptation to see the truth of this. But perhaps a live setting will give the work a little more presence, so to speak. See for yourself with Tommy's final performance at the Carefree Theatre (2000 S. Dixie Hwy., West Palm Beach) at 3 p.m. Call 561-833-7305.

Monday, February 24: If you consider rock operas such as Tommy to be the ruination of a great art form, then maybe you should head to the Broward Center for the Performing Arts (201 SW Fifth St., Fort Lauderdale) at 8 tonight rather than to Carefree Theatre on Sunday. The Florida Philharmonic Orchestra performs at the center tonight, but only as a backing band. The real show is famed cellist Mstislav Rostropovich. Yes, the name is mostly unpronounceable to a typical American, which is probably why many affectionately refer to him as Slava. Perhaps in a belated salute to Valentine's Day, the program includes selections from Prokofiev's romantic Romeo and Juliet. Tickets for Rostropovich's first and, likely, last South Florida appearance -- this is his first show in South Florida in 75 years, after all -- cost $35, $45, $50, $60, or $85. Call 877-433-3200, ext. 301.

Tuesday, February 25: A Miami Herald reviewer once wrote, "There ought to be a law: If it's summer, we get a new Tim Dorsey novel." Until this month, that had been close to the truth. Then his publisher, William Morrow & Co., released The Stingray Shuffle in the dead of Florida's 70-degree winter. The book follows the continuing adventures of the endearing psychopath Serge Storms in his seemingly interminable quest to find a briefcase full of cash that has now eluded him through four novels. Get your copy of this latest book autographed by Dorsey when he makes an appearance at Borders Books and Music (2240 E. Sunrise Blvd., Fort Lauderdale) at 7:30 p.m. as part of a blitz of South Florida gigs. Check out the Readings and Lectures listings in Calendar for a full list of appearances. Call 954-566-6335.

Wednesday, February 26: Self-titled "equal opportunity offender" Jackie Mason has worn a lot of hats, not all of them his size. Sure, Jack Hartounian, the character Mason played in Caddyshack II, was a Dangerfield rip off. But as Harry Hartounian in The Jerk, Mason really shined. (Now what the hell is it with all these Mason characters named Hartounian?) In any case, the comedian is offering fans his brand of observational comedy and machine-gun delivery on a stage instead of the silver screen at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts (701 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach) at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $20 to $65. Call 800-KRAVIS-1.

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