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Family valued 11.17.04 

'The Polar Express'

"Did you like it?" I asked. "Yeah," Lila answered, somewhat ambivalently. She, her two younger siblings, and I all enjoyed it, but I understand her tepid answer.

"The art is really amazing," Lila went on. "The Santa Clause didn't seem animated at all, it was just so real." The animation is conspicuously awesome, using "motion capture" technology to turn Tom Hanks into almost all the major characters. If you saw Final Fantasy, it looks kind of like that. You can see individual hairs on heads, the three-dimensional rendering is fantastic, and many sequences call our attention to how amazing it all is (scenes play out in reflections, for example).

"I liked the story, not so much the character, just what it's about: believing in Christmas," Lila told me. It's a simple story that most kids will like, and most adults will find schmaltzy and tiresome. "Do you believe in Christmas?" I asked. "I can't answer the question." Hmm.

"I didn't like the scene with the puppets," Lila said. "It was just a little spooky. My little sister was terrified." Little sister was scared a couple of times, but all in all, it's a solid G movie, perfectly safe for all ages.

The look of the Chris Van Allburg book on which the movie is based has enormous wonder in its intense detail, but somehow, putting that look in motion robs the film of any wonder for me. As my brother-in-law, Dennis, said of the preview, "Well, they've done the imagining for you." Exactly.

--- Lila and Adam Wilcox

This week for families:

Barnes and Noble 330 Greece Ridge Center Dr. Fri-Sat, Nov 19-20, storytime with Winnie the Pooh, Fri 7 p.m., Sat 10:30 a.m. | Wed, Nov 24, Stranger in the Woods storytime, 10:30 a.m. | Hours: Mon-Sat, 9 a.m.-11 p.m., Sun, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. 227-4020

Brighton Memorial Library 2300 Elmwood Ave. Sun, Nov 21, Native Americans of New York, songs, 2 p.m. Registration required | Drop-In Storytimes, through Nov 29: Mondays, Tot Time, ages 18 mos.-2 years with caregiver, 10:30 a.m.; Mondays, Pre-K, ages 3-5 with caregiver, 11:30 a.m.; Tuesdays, PJ Storytime, 7 p.m.; Thursdays, Family Storytime, 7 p.m.; Fridays, Toddler, ages 3-4 with caregiver, 10 a.m. | 784-5300,

Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County Fri, Nov 19. Fantastic, funny, favorite stories, ages 3-5, 115 South Ave, 10-10:30 a.m. Registration required. 428-8150

Henrietta Public Library 455 Calkins Rd. Thurs, Nov 18. Afterschool storytime. 4-4:45 p.m., grades K-3. 359-7092, TDD 321-1499,

Memorial Art Gallery Thursdays in November. Preschool creative workshop, art project, story reading, Gallery tour. Ages 2.5-5 with adult. 500 University Ave, Creative Workshop, 10:30 a.m.-12 p.m. $15/child. Reservations required. 473-7720 x 3056

Peter Rabbit and The Three Billy Goats Gruff Sat-Sun, Nov 20-21. Toddler tales, for ages 2 and up, TYKEs, UpStage3, Auditorium Theater, 875 E Main St, Sat-Sun 1 p.m., Sat 10:30 a.m. $10. 723-6080

The Polar Express Sun, Nov 21. Rochester Boys Choir, musical, Kate Gleason Auditorium, Central Library 115 South Ave, 3 p.m. 428-8301

Rochester Museum and Science Center 657 East Ave. Surprise! It's Science, through May 2005 | Rochester's Frederick Douglass, through January 2006 | Live Science! demos and theater, Wed-Fri 3:30 p.m.; Sat 2, 3, 4 p.m.; Sun 1:30, 2:30, 3:30 p.m. Sat 3 p.m. show sign-interpreted | Ongoing exhibits include: AdventureZone, Carlson Inquiry Room, At the Western Door | Hours: Mon-Sat 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun 12-5 p.m. Tix: $5-$7. 271-1880,

Seneca Park Zoo 2222 St Paul St. Family nights, ZooDiscovery classes. Hours: daily 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tix: $5, $4 seniors, $2 kids. 467-9453,

Strasenburgh Planetarium RMSC, 657 East Ave. Giant-screen films: Pulse: A Stomp Odyssey: Sat 3 and 8 p.m.; Bears: Wed and Fri 4 p.m., Thurs 2, 3, 4 p.m., Sat 2 and 4 p.m., Sun 1, 2, 3, 4 p.m. | Star shows: Holiday Songs and Skies with Mr. Jack Frost: Sat, Nov 13, 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.; Hubble's Universe: Sat 11 a.m., 3 p.m., Sun 3 p.m. | Thurs and Sat, 1 p.m.; I See the Sky: Sat 9:30 a.m.; The Sky Tonight: Sat 10:30 a.m.| Laser shows: '70s Laser: Sat 9 p.m. | Tix: $4-$7. 271-1880

Strong Museum 1 Manhattan Square. Arthur's World, through Jan 23 | Long-term exhibits include National Toy Hall of Fame, Can You Tell Me How To Get To Sesame Street? and Super Kids Market. | Hours: Mon-Thurs 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Fri 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sat 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun 12-5 p.m. Tix: $7; $6 seniors, students; $5 children. 263-2700

USPS Tour Thurs, Nov 18. See how mail gets sorted. Rochester Main Post Office, 1335 Jefferson Rd, 3:30-6 p.m. Free. Reservations required, 272-5800,

Wild West Show Thurs, Nov 18. The Forum, GCC, 1 College Rd, Batavia, 7-8 p.m. Free. 637-3984,

I'll take the usual

"I thank my God every time I remember you." --- Philippians 1:3

Life is 10 percent stimulus and 90 percent response. Most days I collect grievances and stack mishaps, building walls of resentment that shut out potentially extraordinary insight. I forget: stimulus sets the agenda, but response shapes the day.

Take this morning. I nearly got my son to school early --- was I thankful for morning? The battery was dead in my old truck --- my backup because the car was in the shop --- was I thankful for resources? My friends weren't home --- was I thankful for friends? I called the garage and the car wasn't repaired but it was drive-able --- was I thankful for second-rate solutions? On a bitter cold morning, with the garage a mile's walk, my boy and I made the best of it --- was I thankful for our love? I got my son to school quite late and filled out the necessary pink, yellow, and white forms --- was I thankful for attention to my child's safety?

Like the truck that won't crank one cold November morning, aren't most of the aggravations of a given day really just the sudden, temporary absence of some ordinary blessing between points A and B? Why wouldn't we notice this?

In this usual season for expressing gratitude, may we especially express it for all that is usual. Let us pause in the sacred space between from and to, where much that is good appears 364/365ths of the time.

--- Rev. Corey Keyes

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