- O Christmas trees! O Christmas trees! You dazzle us with your mega-wattage splendor! (Tuesday)
Thursday, December 16
Twenty-three-year-old Mieka Pauley comes Starbucks-approved. The Boston-bred singer-songwriter -- who's also a Harvard grad, with a degree in biological anthropology -- is featured on the coffee chain's latest compilation CD of hand-picked unsigned artists. Her deep voice and probing songs (as well as her doe eyes) recall Fiona Apple's, without all of Apple's temperamental weirdness. She's spent much time on the road over the past couple years, honing the focus and structure of her songs. Pauley makes her Cleveland debut at Wilbert's (812 Huron Road) at 8:30 p.m. tonight. Tickets are $5; call 216-902-4663.
Friday, December 17
Much of the artwork that makes up Private Collections (opening today at the Sculpture Center) has never been publicly exhibited before. As the exhibit title states, the two- and three-dimensional pieces come from private collectors, who for years have hoarded works by internationally renowned or locally schooled sculptors. Among them: Isamu Noguchi, Claes Oldenburg, and Victor Schreckengost. "Private collections in Northern Ohio reflect a combination of parochial and cosmopolitan interests," says curator Ed Olszewski. "[They give] but a hint of the treasure of private sculptural holdings in Cleveland collections." The exhibit is on view at the Sculpture Center (1834 East 123rd Street) through January 21. It's open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and noon to 4 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free. Call 216-229-6527 for more information.
Hale Farm fires up its Holiday Lantern Tours tonight, giving folks an idea of what it was like to celebrate Christmas back in 1848. (Personally, we can't fathom the notion of living in a world without CDs, DVDs, and online gaming.) The 90-minute strolls through a makeshift village -- which come complete with history lessons on Santa Claus and Christmas trees, an ornament-making workshop, and chatty people dressed up in 19th-century garb -- double as cultural tutorials on the seasonal customs of different immigrant groups. Quaint and stuffy! Still, it's a welcome respite from the crass commercialism of the malls. The tours depart every 20 minutes from 6 to 8:40 p.m. nightly through December 23 at Hale Farm & Village, 2686 Oak Hill Road in Bath. Admission is $15. Call 330-666-3711 for more info.
Saturday, December 18
Like his celebrated photos of dogs, Bruce Weber's movie A Letter to True is headlined by the director-cum-photographer's furry friends. True is a golden retriever, and Weber really does sit down to pen correspondence to his pet, touching on subjects ranging from his friendship with Elizabeth Taylor to jazz music. The frayed documentary muses on peace, war, empathy, devotion, and post-9-11 N.Y.C., but Weber never really connects the dots. Just soak in the gorgeously shot footage of dogs frolicking on the beach, roaming through living rooms, and generally being man's best friend. It's a valentine to canines everywhere. A Letter to True is at the Cinematheque (11141 East Boulevard) at 4:10 today and 2:15 p.m. tomorrow. Admission is $8. Call 216-421-7450 for more information.
Sunday, December 19
While the zoo's ZooLights offers a more impressive display (hundreds of thousands of lights adorn hundreds of buildings and trees), we don't have to get out of our cars to see Geauga County Fairgrounds' Holiday Dee-Lights Drive. Lots and lots of lights are here too (a "million brilliant" ones, according to organizers), strung up throughout the grounds. Then again, the zoo has the Sleighbell Express train running, special holiday animal displays (real live reindeer!), and visits from Santa. The choice is maddening! ZooLights runs from 5:30 to 9 p.m. through December 23 at the Metroparks Zoo, 3900 Wildlife Way. Admission is $5; call 216-661-6500. Holiday Dee-Lights is at the Great Geauga County Fairgrounds (at the Burton Village Square in Burton) from 6 to 10 p.m. through December 26. Admission is $10 per car. For more information, call 440-834-0573.
Monday, December 20
If there's someone on your gift list who'd kill for a card, a mosaic box, or beaded jewelry handmade by your child, today's your lucky day! Art House is hosting a Gift Making workshop for little ones. Most kids' holiday breaks start today, and they're gonna need something to keep them busy -- and if you can get a bracelet for Grandma out of it, all the better. It happens from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Art House, 3119 Denison Avenue. Fee is $30. For more information and to register, call 216-398-8556.
Tuesday, December 21
One of the reasons we like the Play House's Festival of Trees so much is because ours looks like crap every year. Even Charlie Brown's pathetic little twig-with-ornaments has more presence than the thing propped up in a corner at our house. So, yes, there is a little envy as we saunter through the theater's lobbies, eyeballing the 70-plus lavishly decorated trees. But we're also way impressed. The trees are on view 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. through December 30 at the Play House, 8500 Euclid Avenue. Admission is free; call 216-795-7000.
Wednesday, December 22
Nothing heralds the holidays like the whammo combination of organ and brass. Not sugar and cookies. Not egg and nog. Not even comfort and joy. Tonight's Holiday Celebration With Organ and Brass is indeed cause for making merry. Keyboard wiz Todd Wilson fires up his big-ass organ and leads the Burning River Brass through a program of seasonal tunes at 8 p.m. tonight and tomorrow at Severance Hall, 11001 Euclid Avenue. Tickets are $24 to $52, available by calling 216-231-1111.