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'FREE BIRD!' ... I MEAN, 'SUNDOWN!'

I've been down with the flu for a couple of days, so my wife and I had to postpone our Valentine's dinner. We'll make up for that this weekend with a meal at Caffe Amici, which is the best Italian food in town, bar none, for my money.

Maybe we'll do that for an early dinner on Saturday, then head to CSU's University Hall for a performance by Atlanta R&B/jazz band 5 Men on a Stool. The 7:30 p.m. event celebrates the Theta Phi Chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority, celebrating its 60th year. It's $45. Details: 706-563-2390.

Gordon Lightfoot plays at RiverCenter on Sunday, and while most folks will be waiting for "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald," or "Sundown," I'll be pulling for more obscure songs. I'll be the guy shouting, "Play 'Ghosts of Cape Horn,' Gordo!" It's at 7:30 p.m., and leave early so you don't have to use a leadfoot to make it to Lightfoot. Tickets are $42-$52. Details: 706-256-3612.

— Brad Barnes

WHERE TO BE — AND NOT TO BE

Almost every high school has the clique of brown nosers who flaunt their intellectual superiority by laughing at scenes in "Hamlet."

The ones from my English classes are probably still hiding their Spark Notes in a high-security safe.

Fortunately, you don't have to pretend to laugh at the gravedigger scene in "Hamlet" to hang out with the Chattahoochee Shakespeare Company on Friday. The group will host a cocktail party 5:30-7:30 p.m. in the Studio of Garry Pound, 100 Seventh Ave.

You'll get wine, cheese and live entertainment. Tickets are $10 and $20. Call 702-423-6366.

With luck, the party will end just in time for you to make up for your abysmal Valentine's Day efforts. Take your special someone to seafood restaurant The Market, 4403 17th Ave., where food specials continue throughout the "holiday weekend."

It's BYOB, so secure a good bottle of wine — or some quality cans of Milwaukee's Best — and make sure to pick up some flowers. Better late than never. Call 706-320-9733.

Finally, if you're looking to hit up the nightlife scene, make sure you head to Scruffy Murphy's, 1037 Broadway, where the Connor Christian and the MorningStar Revival will play Friday and Saturday. The weather's supposed to be warmer, so you might even be able to party on the patio.

— Sonya Sorich

IT'S ARBOR DAY, CHARLIE BROWN!

Well, not really. Arbor Day is whenever some particular city or state feels like celebrating it. While the original Arbor Day happened in Nebraska in April 1872, Columbus will band together in its gory ceremony to honor our wooden lords Saturday from 11 a.m. -1 p.m. at Lakebottom Park. Look for the treehuggers in the south part of the park by the band shelter.

Expect an Arbor Day Poster Contest and forest animals. Bambi, this ain't.

Move on from the bottom of the lake to Meritage (pronounced “Mere - i - tah - gee”) at 1350 13th St. between 1-3 p.m. for a wine tasting. There's a quaint little porch overlooking the back parking lot — a perfect place to perch while sipping on your lesser Merlots.

Bring money. You're probably not going to taste the experience for free, deadbeat.

Finally, join me in solemn prayer Sunday in a cry to the heavens for that sweet nectar to fall from the sky and straight into Sonny Perdue's swimming pool. During bouts at the prayer mat, face Atlanta as you sip on a choice selection you bought from The Wine Shop at Meritage the day before.

Be sure to pick a fine arbor wine.

— Alan Riquelmy

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