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Weekly highlights for arts and entertainment in the Triangle

New Year's Eve is the perfect time to rock with local favorites (and Indy Band of the Month) Patty Hurst Shifter and The Bleeding Hearts at the Pour House Music Hall, 224 S. Blount St., Raleigh, 821-1120, www.the-pour-house.com . $7.

Dive into 2004 with the New Year's Day Polar Bear Dive, an annual tradition sponsored by the Gypsy Divers Aquatic Center. Come cook out, drink hot cocoa and cheer on the divers who brave the chilly waters of Fantasy Lake in Louisberg. Scuba diver's certification needed to dive. 225-1931, www.gypsydivers.com.

Another good way to start off this 525,600 minutes might be with the touring version of RENT, the Broadway musical update of Puccini's La Boheme. It opens tonight at Raleigh Memorial Auditorium, BTI Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E South St, Raleigh. Friday-Sunday, Jan. 2-4, call 834-4000 for times. $20-66.

Bring in the Year of the Monkey during Chinese New Year celebrations starting at 2:30 pm at Exploris, where you can see shadow puppets, Chinese yo-yo demonstrations and, of course, the magnificent traditional Lion Dance. 201 E Hargett St, Raleigh. 834-4040, www.exploris.org. $7.95, $6.95 seniors 60 and older, $5.50 children ages 5-11.

Local novelist Clyde Edgerton will present two of his flight-inspired works, The Floatplane Notebooks and a forthcoming memoir tentatively titled Annabelle, Come Back, at 2 pm today as part of the Literature and Arts Series at the North Carolina Museum of Art, where the exhibit Defying Gravity: Contemporary Art and Flight is running through March 7. 2110 Blue Ridge Rd, Raleigh. 839-6262, www.ncartmuseum.org. Free.

Want to get backstage? The Raleigh Little Theatre could use your help at Backstage Night, a volunteer open house at 7:30 pm. 301 Pogue St, Raleigh. 821-4579, www.raleighlittletheatre.org. Free.

Did you know the FBI just issued a warning to law enforcement officials to be on the lookout for people carrying almanacs? According to the intrepid feds, such sources could be used by terrorists to plan an attack. Discuss this and other fascinating aspects Ashcroft's America at the View From Tuesday High School Discussion Group's Seminar on the Patriot Act tonight at 7 pm. Quail Ridge Books & Music, 3522 Wade Ave, Raleigh. 828-7912.

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