It may seem a bit early to listen to Christmas music and commune with Santa Claus, but that's exactly what you'll hear and be able to do when you hang out under the stars at the final Barnacle Under Moonlight concert of the year, taking place at 6:00 p.m. The back yard of the Barnacle State Historic Site (3485 Main Hwy., Coconut Grove), built by Grove pioneer Commodore Ralph Middleton Munroe, will host the Top Brass quintet performing holiday favorites. For those who can't sit still and want to gaze skyward at the full moon, the Southern Cross Astronomical Society will provide telescopes. Bring a blanket or a lawn chair. Admission is five dollars; children under ten years old get in free. Call 305-448-9445.
Celebrated cabaret singer Barbara Cook can usually be found entrancing audiences at New York City's Cafe Carlyle, located in the Carlyle Hotel on East 76th Street. Recently inducted into the Broadway Hall of Fame, Cook began her career on the Great White Way, starring in shows such as Oklahoma, Candide, and The Music Man. For the first time Cook, along with accompanist Wally Harper, leaves the Upper East Side and brings her golden pipes South -- way South -- to Miami. The Tony and Grammy award-winning vocalist is the second act to perform in the cosmopolitan performing arts series Manhattan Nights in Miami at 8:30 tonight and tomorrow at the Colony Theater, 1040 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $35. Call 305-573-1121.
If you happen to be on Miami Beach's Lincoln Road today, look for a whole lot of painting going on. The local chapter of Amnesty International, the organization devoted to safeguarding the fundamental human rights of people all over the world, will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by staging Get Up, Stand Up, Paint for Human Rights. The organization hopes to recruit 1000 kids, who will be given some crayons and their own squares of canvas on which they can express their feelings about and understanding of human rights. Sixty artists from the community, parents, teachers, and local business people will help out. Young musicians will provide entertainment. Each kid who participates gets a T-shirt, a certificate, and the chance to have his or her artwork used to adorn the local Amnesty International chapter's new T-shirts. The finished works will be hung on clotheslines strung along Lincoln Road, from Lenox to Drexel Avenues. Admission is free. The event goes on from noon to 4:00 p.m. Call 305-673-2183.
Sorry, all you aspiring Cinderellas. You may not be able to feast on a gourmet meal and twirl around the dance floor in your fancy gown at tonight's Miami Art Museum ball owing to the hefty $500 ticket price, but you still have a chance to find your prince. He may stay for the post-ball bash known as the Late Night Party, which lasts from 10:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. at the Wyndham Hotel Miami-Biscayne Bay (1601 Biscayne Blvd.). Not to worry: You'll still be able to boogie and consume cocktails from an open bar and, if you don't meet your man, you can console yourself by stuffing your face at a lavish dessert buffet, with goodies from local restaurants such as Cafe Tu Tu Tango and Perricone's Marketplace, to name just two. Tickets cost $50 in advance and $75 at the door. Call 305-375-3000.
Brazilian-born classical pianist Flavio Variani gives the third concert in the Sunday Afternoons of Music series today at 4:00 p.m. at Temple Beth Am (5950 N Kendall Dr.). A child prodigy, Variani toured with the Brazilian National Symphony Orchestra when he was just nine years old. At age thirteen he received a scholarship from the French government to study music in Paris with acclaimed teacher Magda Tagliaferro. He soon became known for his subtle interpretations and sense of color and verve as a soloist and chamber musician and has been a guest artist with orchestras in this country, Latin America, Europe, and Japan, performing at venues such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and Moscow Conservatory Hall. He has appeared with renowned conductors including Lukas Foss, Sir Neville Marriner, and Gunther Herbig. Variani will play works by Schubert, Prokofiev, Chopin, and fellow Brazilian Heitor Villa-Lobos. Tickets range from $10 to $20. Call 305-667-6667.
The inimitable voice, the impeccable phrasing, the sophisticated style, the slick swagger, the hundreds of superb recordings he left behind. What more can be said about the extraordinary Frank Sinatra that hasn't been said already? Well, journalist and best-selling author Pete Hamill (A Drinking Life) can think of a few other things to expound on regarding the scrawny Italian kid from Hoboken who grew up to become America's foremost singer. Hear Hamill read from and discuss his latest book, the aptly titled Why Sinatra Matters, at 8:00 p.m. at Coral Gables Congregational Church, 3010 De Soto Blvd., Coral Gables. Admission is free. Call 305-442-4408.
No doubt the band Hooverphonic has been the butt of countless jokes for having a name that sounds like a cross between a vacuum cleaner and a record player. The sound they make, however, is nothing like the thundering whir of a heavy-duty dirt sucker. Influenced by the Beatles, bossa nova, Neil Diamond, Miles Davis, and Serge Gainsbourg, the Belgian quartet with the spooky spectral vibe (in the tradition of bands like Portishead, Massive Attack, and Mono) emits atmospheric melodies woven together with samples of classic soul, hip-hop drum breaks, patches of live instruments, and ethereal vocals. The world discovered them when their single "2Wicky" appeared on the soundtrack to Bernardo Bertolucci's 1996 flick Stealing Beauty. Shortly thereafter they released their first album, New Stereophonic Sound Spectacular. A few years and personnel changes later (lead singer Liesje Sadonius left and Geike Amaert joined) came the album Blue Wonder Power Milk. Now the band is on tour with opening act Snowpony. Hear them at 8:00 p.m. when they perform at Salvation, 1771 West Ave., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $12. Call 305-673-6508.
Every year you go out and pay too much money for the same thing: A real smelly green Christmas tree. You decorate it with the same tired old ornaments, shiny tinsel, and twinkling lights. The whole setup looks spectacular for about a day until the cat attempts to rip the angel off the top and the dog starts snacking on the candy canes. Christmas is just a few weeks away, and already you're nauseated from the pungent smell of pine pervading the house, and sick of looking at the pointy pine needles littering your living room floor. Before you give the family pets away to the local shelter and take out a blowtorch to set the tree ablaze, maybe you should calm down and pay a visit to the Festival of the Trees. Sponsored by FIU's interior design program, the festival is actually an exhibition featuring an array of imaginative Christmas trees dreamed up by several of South Florida's most innovative designers. What may lift your spirits: festive creations made of neon, metal, and more, that celebrate the holiday with a wink. The fest runs from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. daily through December 30 at One Brickell Square, 801 Brickell Ave. Admission is free. Call 305-348-7771.