The year 2005 is only mere hours away, so you'd better get cracking on some resolutions quick, lest your better half will think you're slacking in self-improvement skills. They already guilted you into snuffing out the cigarettes, so consider whipping your fat ass into shape. Plus, you've somehow managed a few big scores at local casinos lately, so maybe an increase in your gambling habits is in order. Why not combine the two at the New Year's Day Poker Ride benefiting cystic fibrosis research on Saturday, January 1? Starting at Landis Cyclery, 10417 North Scottsdale Road in Scottsdale, participants will proceed along a nearly 50-mile route through the northeast Valley, with seven stops along the way where they'll draw a random playing card. At the end of the event, the riders with the best and worst hands will each receive a prize, like dinner and wine for two at Sassi. If you're worried about stashing the cards in your sweaty spandex, organizer Deeann Bonell says they've already taken care of that. "At every stop, the card they're dealt is written down," Bonell says. "Plus it fixes any potential cheaters." The cards are against you starting at 9 a.m. Registration is $20. Call 602-369-2575 or see www.active.com. -- Benjamin Leatherman
Playmates of the New Year
Greet 2005 with fluffy tail
Bunny babes and Hefner clones will be out in full regalia for the "Bunny Mansion New Year's Eve Bash" on Friday, December 31, at Sugar Daddy's, 3102 North Scottsdale Road in Scottsdale. DJ M2 and Chalmer's Green provide tail-shakin' tunes, and a formal dinner fit for the king of a vast soft-core-porn empire is available. Dinner starts at 5 p.m., and the cover charge (not including dinner) is $2. Call 480-970-6556. -- Niki D'Andrea
Lars, Lars, Wherefore Art Thou?
R&J offers justice for all, and Tori, too
12/31 - 1/15
It boggles our minds: that is, fans of Metallica and Tori Amos together in one room watching Juliet wonder just where the hell Romeo got his sorry ass to! Here's to hoping rival fans don't get any ideas as the Montague and Capulet clans swing swords during the Shakespeare Company's production of Romeo & Juliet, which features the music of Metallica and Amos, among others, beginning Friday, December 31, through January 15, at the Phoenix Little Theatre, 100 East McDowell. Romeo and Juliet are cast as 20-ish -- a wise move since watching horizontal teenagers could take us to a bad place. The show starts at 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays. Call 602-796-2038 for ticket prices. -- Pat Beck
Scottsdale hosts "Ultimate" party
Call it blasphemy, but Times Square's got nothin' on Scottsdale. The French Quarter? Uh-uh. Memphis' Beale Street? Fuhgetaboutit! The throw-down of get-downs on Friday, December 31, is Scottsdale's Ultimate Block Party. In fact, last year's event was so big, the promoters doubled the footage and capacity for this year. Tickets ($35 each) will get you into Acme Bar & Grill, Dos Gringos, Next, and Upper Deck Sports Grill. There will be 12 bands total, including national acts Lit, The Fixx, and Denver Harbor. There will also be a slew of DJs, dancing, street vendors, fireworks, and a "Club New Year," set up in a tent in the middle of Craftsman Court. The festivities begin on Fifth Avenue at 10 a.m., with a free concert by local high school ensembles. The block party gates open at 4 p.m. Visit www.openairevents.com.-- Niki D'Andrea
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