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Friday: Best Bets 1/2

all day / Autos

January 01, 1998

Take a look at the automobile of your dreams at the L.A. Auto Show, along with such cars of the future as the Honda J-VX hybrid or the Mercedes-Benz F300 Life Jet. While you're in a mobile frame of mind, think "accessories," and shop the vendor area, where you can get the latest products for a car--or driver. Venture down Hot Rod Alley and marvel at the colorful classics, celebrating Hot Rod magazine's 50th anniversary. Fast-forward to the future in the Dodge Viper virtual-reality simulator or the Mercedes-Benz 360-degree attraction, a 14-minute ride in a theater-in-the-round.

* L.A. Auto Show, L.A. Convention Center, 1201 S. Figueroa St., Los Angeles. (213) 741-1151. Friday and weekdays, 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m.; Saturdays, 10 a.m.-10:30 p.m.; Sundays, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. $6; 12 and younger, free; weekday admission for seniors, $4. Parking, $6. Through Jan. 11.

7pm / Children

Kids can learn about Egyptian times and then create a pyramid out of the latest Egyptian-themed Legos at Zany Brainy's Team Lego Weekend. Try out Lego's newest pieces for free Friday night and Saturday or Sunday afternoons at Zany Brainy's Torrance and Thousand Oaks stores. A contest to win Lego sets will be held each day.

* Team Lego Weekend, Zany Brainy stores, Northgate Center, 111 S. Westlake Blvd., Thousand Oaks, (805) 449-4277; 3842 Sepulveda Blvd., Torrance, (310) 791-6200. Friday, 7-8 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 2-3 p.m. Free.

7:30 & 9:45pm

Jazz

New Orleans-reared trumpeter Nicholas Payton, seen to advantage in Robert Altman's jazz-noir film "Kansas City," combines impressive technique with a deep knowledge of the jazz tradition. Payton will lead his hot and hungry quintet in two nights of shows in Orange County.

* Nicholas Payton, Orange County Performing Arts Center, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa. $30. Also Saturday. (714) 556-2787.

8:30pm

Pop Music

Mint night at the oasis? You'd be hard-pressed to find a better match of singer and venue than roots-music chanteuse Maria Muldaur and atmospheric midtown juke joint the Mint. Expect to hear her 1974 hit, "Midnight at the Oasis," as well as a preview of her new album, "Southland of the Heart," which comes out Jan 27.

* Maria Muldaur at the Mint, 6010 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles. $12. (213) 954-9630.

8pm

Cabaret

Vocalist-actress Karen Mason wowed audiences when she stood in for Glenn Close as Norma Desmond in "Sunset Boulevard" some 150 times. This year, she's garnered accolades for her performances in New York at the renowned cabaret room Rainbow & Stars atop Rockefeller Plaza and for her latest CD, "Better Days," which features music and lyrics from the late Brian Lasser. She's in town for a 10-day run (which began New Year's Eve) at L.A.'s most prominent vocal showcase.

* Karen Mason, the Cinegrill, Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, 7000 Hollywood Blvd. Also Saturday-Sunday and Jan. 6-11. $15. (213) 466-7000.

8:30pm

Theater

Mark W. Smith reprises his lead performance, acclaimed for its exuberance, in "The Ballad of Little Mikey," Mark Savage's musical comedy following the out-of-the-closet journey of a young man from college to gay activism and romance, at Highways Performance Space.

* "The Ballad of Little Mikey," Highways, 1651 18th St., Santa Monica, Thursdays through Sundays, 8:30 p.m. Ends Jan. 25. $20. (213) 660-8587.

FREEBIE: Pianist Alan Broadbent and bassist Putter Smith, L.A. County Museum of Art, 5:30 p.m. (213) 857-6000.

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