Special performance of the Nutcracker Based on a fairy tale by German author E.T.A. Hoffman, The Nutcracker tells the story of a little girl named Clara whose magical nutcracker comes to life and takes her on a magical journey with rats into the Sugar Plum Fairy's kingdom of sweets (which could be a metaphor for eating disorders) and everyone knows the story and the decorations it's spawned -- especially the hard-working members of the Houston Ballet who've performed this extravaganza 39 times in the last month. To regain their sanity, the dancers will be allowed to improvise and ad lib in a special "Nutty Nutcracker." The Ballet suggests that this might make a good family outing ... for families who've been cooped up together all week long. Cut loose with the Houston Ballet's very special, very silly, superbly danced Nutcracker. 7:30 p.m., Wortham Center, Brown Theater, 227-ARTS $10-50.B
Black Comedy Explosion Jamie Foxx of In Living Color headlines at the Arena Theater with comedienne Ms. Yvette Wilson from ITheaI (Ms. Videl will not be working her hometown for the holidays.) As "Wanda," Mr. Foxx will rock your world. Foxx will also do his own-brand of stand-up and, given that he has a musical recording due out soon, just might croon. 8 p.m. Arena Theater, 7326 SW Frwy, 988-1020. $30 advance, $35 showdate.
Festivities at "Fitz" Dash Riprock, would that they had called themselves Bolt Upright, eschews their traditional New Orleans venue to bring in the New Year here, with Retarted Elf. As Jed Clampett says, "Whoo doogies!" Start the new year off stupid with this prideful, partying hometown show for traditional goofy good times. If you have any intention of being maudlin or making noble New Year's resolutions, stay away. $15 advance seating, $12 under 21, $10 Fitzgerald's, 2706 White Oak, 862-3838.
Holiday in the Park Six Flags Astroworld is a set for a family-style New Year's Eve celebration. Five different shows, the regular rides and attractions plus 1.3 million pounds of snow for sledding and over a million holiday lights. The park's Americana Square will be decorated to look like Times Square. At 11:30 p.m., the Holiday Dixieland band will play as hats, noise-makers, horns and streamers are distributed and 40 performers entertain. Characters such as Pepe Le Pew and the Tasmanian Devil will circulate and shake hands. At the stroke of midnight there will be a 10-minute fireworks display. 3 p.m. until way-past-bedtime. Six Flags Astroworld', 9001 Kirby, 799-1234. $12.95, free for children under three.
Lantern Inn Those who like celebrating in leisure, leisure as in sitting down and being served, might enjoy the Lantern Inn's special five-course New Year's Eve menu featuring Texas Caviar -- black-eyed peas that is, good luck legumes. More conventional fare too, of course, and festive party favors and a champagne toast at midnight. The restaurant is accepting reservations from 6 p.m.- 11 p.m. The Lantern InnB, 12448 Memorial, 465-5684.
New Year's Eve with Linda Eder The singer who dazzled Alley audiences with her performances in Jekyl & Hyde and Svengali Iwill sing selections from those shows and Broadway shows as well as from her soon-to-be-released recording. The concert on the large stage will be followed by a champagne breakfast and dancing. 9 p.m., Alley Theater, 615 Texas, 228-8421. $60-75.
Garage Stomp Eight-band blow-out Proudly presented by the Young Lions Conspiracy, this shin-dig at the newly opened Shimmy Shack (bring your sister Kate) kicks-off the new year with fierce dregs from (mostly) the Houston scrumpie scene. Super freaks Sugar Shack open -- in fact they're advertised as opening at the unlikely hour of 7 p.m. The bill includes Jesus Christ Superfly, the Swanktones and The Makers from Bellingham, WA. Also, "Surprises and who the hell knows what else." Doors open at 6 p.m. Shimmy Shack, 4216 Washington, 863-7383. $5.
Buffalo Bayou Christmas Bird Count Sponsored by the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center, this avian census covers an area 15 miles in diameter, encompassing HANC, Barker Reservoir and Bear Creek Park. Bird-watching experience is not required, those who wish to see how wild birds are faring in our urban environment may work with Bob Honig or Doug Williams at the Nature Center or sign on as "feeder watchers." For details call Honig, 665-6963, or Williams, 660-7625. BHouston Arboretum and Nature CenterB, 4501 Woodway, 681-8433. Free.
Bait Camp Fish or cut bait for would-be musicians -- open-mike night at Bait Camp offers aspirants in the folk blue-grass vein or otherwise the opportunity to actually make music before a room full of strangers. If no one gave you a Mr. Microphone over the holidays, this may be your best chance to display the lascivious lounge act, or earthy, gritty, down-to-earth blues singer trapped in your corporate tool or humble homemaker body. Best to be in by 8 p.m., show start time listed as 10 p.m. Bait Camp, 6333 Richmond, 789-4328.
Da Camera Discovery The 93-94 series debuts French cellist Christophe Coin -- his soundtrack recording for Tous Les Matins du MondeI brought Baroque to a broad market. Prior to this film work, Coin studied, won prizes and international acclaim, made 30 recordings and was ensconced as director of classes in the baroque violoncello and the viola da gamba at the Conservatoire National Superieur de ParisI and named director of the Baroque Ensemble of Limoges. For his Houston concert, Coin will perform Joseph Wolf, J.S.Bach, and Beethoven. 8 p.m., Da CameraB, The Menil Collection, 1515 Sul Ross, 524-5050. $16.