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The learning never stops 

School is great, but why stop there? There are plenty of museums offering kid-friendly exhibits and events to keep the structured (but fun!) learning going all season.

Strong Museum is opening a new exhibit called Think Tank (opens October 8), where kids can solve riddles, try brain games and mind teasers, and build a bridge. And the National Toy Hall of Fame Induction Weekend celebration is November 12 and 13. See which toys won the latest round of votes, see strolling life-size toys, and watch a crayon artist at work. Remember: Play is the work of the young. Fun and educational don't have to mutually exclusive. Plus, with all the toys from the years (hula hoops, slinky) it's a chance to start stories with, "When I was your age... " Kids love that.

Rochester Museum and Science Center has a new star show called Legends of the Autumn Sky (a still from which is pictured) added to the lineup of star shows and big-screen movies in the Planetarium. Legends is an introduction to mythology and astronomy --- Perseus and Andromeda, Hercules, and Draco are among the characters. The fall exhibit is Under the Wings of the White Eagle: Rochester's Polish American Heritage, a collection of images and objects from 100 years of Polish-American life in Rochester. Two events tie in: a Polka Party and Polish Dinner on October 29 and a Traditional Polish Christmas Eve Dinner on December 3.

If there's time to get everyone in the car for a drive, the Corning Museum of Glass has several programs that seem counterintuitive for a museum of well, breakable stuff, because kids are the guests of honor. A Kids' Night on September 23 has magic shows, gallery hunts, and craft activities. And then the Family Explore and Family Workshop series both let families learn something about glass art and then make something together to take home. Now that's a souvenir.

In This Guide...

    Fall Guide 2005

    A big autumn embrace Jewel-bright leaves trapped between sheets of wax paper.

    What's so great about Mozart?

    Why, over two centuries after Mozart lived, is he still such a fixture in our cultural consciousness? Why, as we near the 250th anniversary of his birth, is a worldwide celebration mounting, with orchestras clamoring to produce concerts of his music, tourists tracing his footsteps in Austria, and Steinway and Sons giving away an all-expenses-paid trip to Salzburg, the city of his birth?

    Of particular note

    The opening of the concert season is a cause for celebration any time, but this year is particularly noteworthy. Resident musicians --- in the Rochester Philharmonic and smaller classical groups, from the Eastman School's outstanding faculty, and in churches and other venues --- will continue to provide exceptional performances.

    The best of all grapes

    Late this summer there were at least two terrific "Winemaker" dinners at Ravines Wine Cellars overlooking Keuka Lake --- Chasing Pinot: In Search of the Perfect Pinot Noir and Meritage: The Art of Blending. "Meritage"?

    How'd you get so lucky?

    When people stumble upon my not-so-secret identity as a movie critic, they often start chucking questions at me. Most believe that getting paid to give your unsolicited and subjective opinion sounds like a dream, and I do spend a great deal of time pinching myself. But when the clock strikes midnight and I'm trying to get enthusiastic about a film I had zero interest in seeing, it can seem a little nightmarish.

    Let them entertain you

    It's time for the local theatrics to gear up and people to start dancing. You will have your pick of performances to attend, from community theater shows in school gymnatoriums to visiting blockbusters --- along with a matching range in ticket price --- but here's what we're excited about.

    Turn on the reading light

    Well, the Rochester Arts and Lectures series is already sold out. If you don't have tickets, you may be able to get standing-room-only tickets to hear Khaled Hosseini (The Kite Runner)and Alexander McCall Smith (The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, The Sunday Philosophy Club) --- both worth it.

    Satisfy your inner nerd

    The autumnal re-opening of school doors calls us back inside to the world of books. Summer paperbacks with sand trapped between the pages get shelved.

    Keep it on ice

    Not too many things have lasted for 50 years in Monroe County, but the Rochester Americans have. Since the Amerks were founded a half-century ago, the demographics of its hometown have completely changed, Kodak has withered away, and countless other American Hockey League teams have come and gone.

    They'll fight their hearts out

    There's a certain smell to freshly mowed grass on a high school football field, a mixture of chlorophyll and dew and mud that wafts into a player's nose and triggers a release of adrenaline and testosterone that carries him through the picturesque violence that will consume his mind and body and soul for a quartet of 12-minute quarters. Books and movies like Friday Night Lights can only go so far in relaying the passion and release that is a high school football game.

    It's the season for eating well

    "It is a time when every cook wishes time could stand still and the bounty of the fall last forever." So says Max chef-owner Tony Gullace, and you'll get no argument from the dozens of food-loving friends who jumped to say what they like best about food in the fall.

    Sounds good to me

    Here are music writer Frank De Blase's concert picks for the fall.
    Leon Redbone September 21

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