Sure, this millennium thing is going to be thrilling. As highlights in American media hype go, it should stand alone. Imagine life as an endless Super Bowl pre-game show. Imagine a 12-month-long New Year's Eve party where the disc jockey keeps breaking in to inquire: "HEYYYYYY, IS EVERYBODY EXCITED?!!!"
So, not to suggest that there could be anything more fascinating than a year of 20th Century in Review ("... for a closer look at the third Wednesday of February 1922, here's this special report from Jeff Greenfield ..."), but one has to point out that aside from the dramatic buildup to Year 2000, there may be other things to look forward to in 1999.
We thought we'd put together a list of "99 Things to Look Forward to in 1999." Some of these things can be forecast with certainty, and are stated in bold type. Others merely seem possible, but perhaps should be included anyway in such a list ...
Former Gov. William Donald Schaefer returns to Annapolis as Maryland comptroller. In a gesture of good will, Schaefer agrees to move his car out of Gov. Parris N. Glendening's parking space.
The Microsoft antitrust trial resumes Jan. 4 after holiday recess. U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson leans over and whispers to stenographer: "... refresh me on something: are these jokers 'bundling' the 'kernel files' in their 'cross platform' or is it the other way around?"
"Over & Over," a new musical by the creators of "Cabaret" and "Chicago" based on Thornton Wilder's "The Skin of Our Teeth," begins a six-week run Jan. 6 at the Signature Theatre in Arlington, Va.
President Clinton delivers his State of the Union address Jan. 19 in the aftermath of impeachment -- facing a U.S. Senate trial and devastation not just of his moral authority but of his historical stature. The following morning, Clinton's public approval rating exceeds that of Tom Hanks.
Extraordinary young pianist Helene Grimaud performs Chopin and Beethoven at Shriver Hall, Jan. 24, her first recital in Baltimore.
August Wilson's only play not yet staged in New York, "Jitney," a tale of Pittsburgh cab drivers, opens at Center Stage on Jan. 13.
Ex-heavyweight champ Mike Tyson fights Francois Botha Jan. 16 in his return to boxing after biting Evander Holyfield's ear. Tyson risks another suspension for fighting a man named "Francois."
Maryland General Assembly convenes, and adopts a joint resolution to install padding in the conference room where Glendening and Schaefer will face each other in meetings of the state Board of Public Works.
Jan. 20: First anniversary of the last day in American history when someone could say: "Monica who?"
Baltimore Orioles sponsor "Fanfest" at the Convention Center Jan. 22-24, featuring autograph sessions, exhibits, games. In one interactive game, fans "bat" against a life-size video image of Orioles ace Mike Mussina. In another, fans step into a booth to be "blown off" by a life-size video image of Orioles outfielder Albert Belle.
A radio advertisement says "a baby boomer turns 50 every 18 seconds." Among others, Mr. Baby Boomer himself, "Big Chill" director Lawrence Kasdan, turns 50 on Jan. 14.
Cubicle comedy moves from the funny papers to television with the premiere Jan. 25 of the series "Dilbert" on UPN.
Peter Angelos, patron saint of plaintiffs, announces $500 million settlement with the manufacturers of Wet Naps. Submits bid to buy the Eiffel Tower.
David Drake returns to Baltimore Jan. 27-Feb. 7 to perform his Obie Award-winning semi-autobiographical one-man show, "The Night Larry Kramer Kissed Me," at the Theatre Project.
Norman Mailer turns 76 amid national hoopla over Tom Wolfe's best seller, "A Man in Full." Mailer publishes a critical and thoughtful essay on Wolfe entitled, "Yeah, But Mine's Bigger."
Pianist Radu Lupu performs Beethoven Third Piano Concerto with David Zinman and the Baltimore Symphony on Jan. 21 and 22.
Rolling Stones begin American tour in late January with shows sold out, despite top ticket price of $300.
By late January, roughly 28 percent of Baltimore residents have held news conferences to announce they are not running for mayor. Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, who started it all by announcing he would not seek a fourth term, declares he is "concerned."
Uncertainty ripples through the U.S. Capitol in early February as Supreme Court Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, presiding over President Clinton's Senate trial, is spotted walking down the hall with a book called "Impeachment for Dummies."
Academy Awards nominations announced Feb. 9. Tom Hanks nominated for best actor for his roles in "Saving Private Ryan," "You've Got Mail," "Beloved" and "Elizabeth." Hanks didn't appear in the latter two movies, but Academy president Robert Rehme says: "Tom's so darn likable, the Academy just couldn't help it ..."
Arthur Miller's "Death of a Salesman" turns 50 on Feb. 10. A revival starring Brian Dennehy opens on Broadway that day.
Chesapeake Bay Boat Show runs Jan. 30-Feb. 9 at the Baltimore Convention Center.
TV schlockmeister Jerry Springer celebrates his 55th birthday on Feb. 13 with a week of programs exploring the global environmental implications of Third World development and the nascent economies of Eastern Europe.
N Feb. 22: Studios USA syndicate cancels Jerry Springer show.
Washington Opera presents Mussorgsky's "Boris Godunov," the greatest and grandest of all Russian operas, Feb. 13-March 3.
Baltimore Museum of Art's Cone Wing reopens Feb. 14 with famous Matisse paintings back on display -- out of modern metal strips and in traditional frames installed by the Cone sisters.
As the Orioles open spring training at Fort Lauderdale, Albert Belle holds a news conference to announce he's turning over a new leaf. From now on, says Belle, when throwing baseballs at reporters and photographers, "I will aim only for the tush."
John Grisham's latest novel, "The Testament" -- which earned the writer an estimated $90 million, including paperback advance, movie rights, foreign rights -- comes out in early February. The Old Testament and the New Testament, which also enjoy wide distribution and inspired several movies, were written for much less.
Columnist, pundit and baseball connoisseur George F. Will, in Fort Lauderdale researching a book on the history and deeper meaning of the cut fastball, is hospitalized with a severe tush contusion.
Turning 50: Ivana Trump, Feb. 20.
In an effort to "expedite" meetings of the Maryland Board of Public Works, Glendening gets tips on hammerlocks from Minnesota Gov. Jesse "The Body" Ventura.
National Portrait Gallery in Washington opens exhibition of George and Martha Washington portraits to run Feb. 19-Aug. 8.
Wagner's "Tristan und Isolde" is featured in a new production by the Washington Opera Feb. 27-March 23.
Barbie doll turns 40 on March 9. Clever Mattel marketeers make vain attempt at promotion, offering Barbies to the U.S. Senate as visual aids for Monica Lewinsky's impeachment testimony.
In a remarkable upset, John Waters receives best director Oscar for his movie "Pecker," but only under the condition that he never make another movie.
Walters Art Gallery opens "Land of the Winged Horsemen: Poland, 1572-1764" on March 3, containing about 150 works, including armor, national dress, funerary portraits.
Baltimore Convention Center holds the Whole Life Expo March 18-21, a smorgasbord of holistic spirituality from health food to tarot-card readings to spiritual healers.
As the state budget debate continues in the Maryland General Assembly, Gov. Glendening complains of being kept on hold endlessly by Comptroller Schaefer. In a moving gesture of good will, Schaefer changes music on hold to "Wind Beneath My Wings."
Terrapins bring March Madness to Maryland in NCAA Basketball Tournament.
Television would never have made its indelible mark on the culture without March 1949. Born then, turning 50 this month: Erik "CHiPs" Estrada, Patrick "Dallas" Duffy, Vicki "Carol Burnett" Lawrence.
Having won New York Film Critics' best actress award for her portrayal of an orthopedic surgeon in "There's Something About Mary," Cameron Diaz lands the lead in a docudrama, "The Life of Albert Schweitzer."
Tom Wolfe turns 68 and John Updike turns 65 in March in aftermath of public feud between Updike and Mailer over literary significance of Wolfe's new book. Americans apparently weren't following this gripping controversy, as in an ABC News poll, 87 percent identify "Updike" as the manufacturer of Kaopectate.
Dorothy Allison, best-selling author of "Bastard Out of Carolina" and "Cave Dweller," holds reading at Goucher College on March 22.
In a mix-up apparently linked to computer tests amid the looming Y2K calamity, Monica Lewinsky gives tearful testimony in the Microsoft antitrust trial.
Children's books from Baltimore authors due out in March: Elizabeth Spires' "The Mouse of Amherst" and Colby Rodowsky's "Not My Dog."
Conspiracy buffs mark March 29 as the 20th anniversary of the House Select Committee on Assassinations' final report. Baltimore radio "personality" Zoh Hieronimus offers convincing evidence that all 1960s political assassinations were linked to the 1947 cover-up of UFO crash at Roswell, N.M., under the direction of a government operative code-named "Herbie."
Larry King's new baby due in late March, reportedly King's fourth child in seven marriages. Or is it the other way around?
Yuri Temirkanov conducts Beethoven's Seventh Symphony with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, March 25, 26 and 30.
Peter Angelos announces $75 billion settlement with manufacturer of Beanie Babies. Submits bid to buy rights to Prince's "1999."
Orioles open their 1999 season against a storied franchise, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, at Camden Yards on April 5. President Clinton attempts to throw out the first ball, but becomes mired in a legalistic dispute over the real meaning of the words "low" and "outside."
Has it been 18 seconds? Jessica Lange, 50 on April 20.
In an effort to ease the burden on government computer records in face of the looming Y2K crisis, Larry King agrees to postpone his next marriage until after the glitch is solved.
The Maryland General Assembly adjourns April 12, leaving unresolved the question of pay-per-view coverage of Board of Public Works meetings.
"Psycho" director Gus Van Sant befuddles Hollywood by announcing plans to create a shot-by-shot remake of "Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol."
Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.'s Inner Harbor restaurant opens in spring.
The otherwise riveting Microsoft antitrust trial hits a snag as an expert witness spends five days on the stand explaining why Bill Gates, the richest man in the universe, cannot get a better haircut.
Inspired by the intensity of new first baseman Will Clark, several members of the otherwise laid-back Orioles are sidelined with pulled muscles after attempting to put on a "game face."
Timonium, not exactly famous as a mountaineering center, welcomes a branch of Seattle-based REI, a sports equipment store about the size of an airplane hangar and featuring a wall customers can use to test climbing gear.
May begins on a note of confusion due to the release of "Star Wars Episode I -- The Phantom Menace." Spokespersons for 20th Century Fox say that while the movie is the third sequel since "Star Wars" in 1977, the title makes sense considering that the first three constitute a trilogy, precluding the inclusion of a fourth in view of developments involving, among others, the Dark Lords of Sith, Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi's deep concern about the ominous son of Shmi Skywalker. Fox assures moviegoers that "Episode I," not to be considered "Episode IV," will be at least as easy to follow as the Whitewater scandal.
Check the stopwatch: Billy Joel turning 50 May 9.
In spring, Baltimore City Council to consider $350 million downtown renovation plan, the biggest since Harborplace.
In June, Bolton Hill resident Dudley Clendinen and co-author Adam Nagourney are due to publish "Out for Good: The Struggle to Build a Gay Rights Movement in America."
With "Homicide: Life on the Street" slipping in quality, Mayor Schmoke talks with high-powered television producers about creating shows based on Baltimore's other urban problems. Tentative agreement is reached with Fox for a pilot called "Mad About Panhandlers."
Baltimore native Thomas D. Jones, part of the space station assembly crew, is scheduled to fly on the fourth station construction flight, in May.
Doomsday cult activity picks up as millennium approaches. Members of a bizarre cult in Brattleboro, Vt., hold a pancake breakfast at a local firehouse, raising money for their journey to the planet "Clinton."
Meryl Streep turns 50 June 22.
Another space shuttle is launched, this time conducting sophisticated experiments testing the effects of zero gravity on Major League Baseball salaries.
Women's World Cup in soccer takes place in seven cities June 19-July 10. Three doubleheaders scheduled at Jack Kent Cooke Stadium in, uh, Raljon.
NBA Championships canceled, but lockout-crazed fans jam ESPN Zone to sit in front of a zillion TVs watching old Nike ads.
June 20 -- Sept. 5, Walters Art Gallery exhibits "An Eye for Detail: Small Dutch and Flemish Paintings of the 17th Century," about 60 paintings from the New York collection of Henry H. Weldon.
Michael O'Mara Books of London publishes "Monica's Story," the first of an anticipated series by Monicagate figures. Look for: Linda Tripp's "Treachery for Dummies" and, by Clinton lawyers, "Pay the Woman: A Duffer's Guide to Sexual Harassment Lawsuits."
In a snafu apparently related to computer tests amid the looming Y2K calamity, Paula Jones' old nose shows up on a Milwaukee hair stylist.
By now, it is assumed someone will actually have decided to run for mayor of Baltimore. Filing deadline for candidates in party primaries is July 6.
Marilyn Quayle turns 50 July 29.
Memorial Stadium demolition scheduled to begin in July.
The 1854 warship Constellation, its $9 million restoration completed at Fort McHenry Shipyard, is scheduled to be returned to the Inner Harbor.
30th anniversary of Woodstock festival Aug. 15 triggers wild celebrations by former "Love Generation" libertines. Festivities feature rock music and heavy drug use, chiefly Viagra and Maalox.
Richard Gere is 50 on Aug. 31.
Annapolis Run, Aug. 29: Ten-mile foot race from Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium through Annapolis and Naval Academy.
Sept. 14, Baltimore Primary Election. In a mix-up apparently related to computer tests amid the looming Y2K calamity, Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke is re-elected in Democratic primary. In a hastily arranged victory rally, Schmoke declares he is "concerned."
Thirteen-story Courtyard by Marriott hotel scheduled to open in Inner Harbor East in fall 1999.
Efforts to solve Y2K problem are complicated by attempts to precisely calculate the number of times Prince's "1999" has been played this year on American radio stations.
Say it ain't so: Bruce Springsteen turns 50 Sept. 23.
October begins on a melancholy note as Baltimore sports fans mark the 30th anniversaries of championship defeats of the Colts, Bullets and Orioles, all by New York teams. Trying to boost city spirits, Mayor Schmoke declares "Civic Pride Month," saying, "New York, Shmew York, Baltimore rules in gonorrhea!"
Scheduled opening of 320-space South Baltimore garage.
Acknowledging that her much-touted image makeover has fallen short of expectations, Linda Tripp becomes a greeter at Columbia Mall's Halloween "Monster Mart."
Baltimore Museum of Fine Arts opens exhibition of Impressionist portraiture from American collections. Runs Oct. 10 -- January 2000.
Benjamin Netanyahu, who may or may not be Israeli prime minister by then, turns 50 on Oct. 21.
High-definition television comes to Baltimore in November, triggering lively debate over whether it's sensible to spend $4,000 on a TV to watch really, really sharp images of, say, Marty Bass.
Whoopi Goldberg turns 50 Nov. 13.
New Year 2000 hype enters overdrive in early December. TBS introduces 24-hour Millennium TV devoted entirely to such things as "looking back" and "looking ahead." Mademoiselle hits newsstands with a special issue: "A Century of Eye Makeup." Dick Clark, who turned 70 in November but nonetheless will be the host of TV coverage of New Year's Eve in Times Square, begins doing his hair.
Tom Waits turns 50 on Dec. 7.
Amid wild December holiday revelry, Dennis Rodman marries Tom Hanks in a tasteful Las Vegas ceremony because, as Rodman says, "He's just so darn likable."
WHOLE NEW CENTURY ARRIVES! UNIVERSE SHIFTS ONTO NEW AXIS! Independent Counsel Kenneth W. Starr launches new investigation of President Clinton's fund-raising activities.
Sun staff writers J.D. Considine, John Dorsey, Ken Fuson, Rob Hiaasen, Ann Hornaday, Laura Lippman, Robert Guy Matthews, Michael Ollove, Lisa Pollak, J. Wynn Rousuck, Linell Smith, Lowell Sunderland and Stephen Wigler contributed to this article.