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Strange tango on the tundra

"It was awesome," Lila said after screening Bears, the new film at RMSC's Stasenburgh Planetarium. "It was really funny. Like how the bear cubs sounded more like cows than bears." Two black bear cubs provide much entertainment value, climbing and falling out of trees, and fighting each other like a couple of drunks.

Bears is also mildly educational. We learned, for example, that grizzlies actually are a bit like cows, spending a great deal of time basically grazing. The film presents bears mostly as wise, gentle giants, their collective health symbolic of the general health of nature itself (neither doing very well). Sure, male polar bears eat anything (including other polar bears), and there is that scary moment when a wolf intrudes on a grizzly's dinner, but aren't they cute?

The scary moments are few and not very scary, so this one is great for any age kids. The cinematography is gorgeous, and you do feel like you get a window into the bears' private world. And there is no denying the appeal of bears, so much like us and yet, somehow, furrier. Lila said she'd see it again, but didn't seem to want to rush out to do so. We'll send the rest of the family, though, and they'll love it.

RMSC is devoting this Monday, October 11, to a "Beary fun time" in celebration of the new flick. Activities will include bear-cave-building, bear-mask-making, and story hour with Winnie-the-Pooh (11 a.m., 1 and 2 p.m.). Info: 271-1880, www.rmsc.org.

--- Lila and Adam Wilcox

This week for families:

Harvest Festival Entertainment Sat, Oct 9. Dansville Art and Recreation Theatre, steps of Community Bank, Main St, Dansville, 2-2:40 p.m. Free.

Helmer Nature Center Wed, Oct 6 and 13. Become a Helmer forest detective, 154 Pinegrove Ave, 3:30-5 p.m. $5. 336-3035

Henrietta Public Library Thurs, Oct 7, fire safety program, ages 4 and up, 10:30-11:30 a.m. | Mon, Oct 11, science program, ages 8 and up, 2-3:30 p.m. | Wed, Oct 13, toddler storytime, 10:15-10:45 a.m. | Tues and Wed, Oct 12 and 13, preschool storytime, Tues 11-11:30 a.m., Wed 10:15-10:45 a.m. | 455 Calkins Rd. 359-7092, www.hpl.org

Hispanic Month Events Wednesdays, cooking classes, ages 6-15, South Avenue Community Center, 900 South Ave, 4-5:30 p.m. 428-6015 | Tuesdays, cooking classes, all ages, Avenue D Recreation Center, 200 Ave D, 5:30-7 p.m. 428-7934 | Family Hispanic Heritage Night, Wed, Oct 6, Edgerton Community Center, 41 Backus St, 5-7:30 p.m. 428-6769 | Family Hispanic Heritage Dinner, Wed, Oct 6, Danforth Community Center, 200 West Ave, 6-8 p.m. 428-7860 | Journey Into History, Wed, Oct 13, City Hall Atrium, 30 Church St, 12-2 p.m. 428-7186

Interfaith Forum Essay Contest Deadline: Oct 29. Theme: Building community, bridging our differences, grades 9-12. Info: www.ggw.org/buildingcommunity

Rapunzel Sat-Sun, Oct 9-17. TYKEs, ages 4 and up, UpStage3, 875 E Main St, Sat 10:30 a.m., Sat-Sun 1 p.m. $10. 723-6080

RMSC Strasenburgh Planetarium 657 East Ave. Giant-screen films: Pulse: A Stomp Odyssey: Sat 3 and 8 p.m.; Bears: Wed-Fri 4 p.m., Sat 2 and 4 p.m., Sun 1, 2, 3, 4 p.m., Mon, Oct 11, 2, 3, 4 p.m. | Laser shows: '60s Laser: Sat 9 p.m.; I See the Sky: Sat 9:30 a.m.; Night of the Eclipse: Sat, Oct 9, 1 p.m. and Mon, Oct 11, 1 p.m.; The Sky Tonight: Sat 10:30 a.m. | Tix: $4-$7. 271-1880

Rochester Museum and Science Center 657 East Ave. Timber Sports Competition, Sat-Sun, Oct 9-10, Cumming Nature Center, 6472 Gulick Rd, Naples, Sat 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Sun 10 a.m.-5 p.m. $3. | Mon, Oct 11, bear-related activities, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. With Bears giant-screen film, $10 adults, $6 students. | 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, www.rmsc.org.

Seneca Park Zoo 2222 St Paul St. Hours: daily 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tix: $5, $4 seniors, $2 kids. 467-9453, www.senecazoo.org.

Strong Museum 1 Manhattan Square. Wed, Oct 13, Making American Music, Golden Eagle String Band, 7:30 p.m. $15. | 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

Too Big to Dance Fri, Oct 8. Story and song with author Doug Anderson, Lift Bridge Book Shop, 45 Main St, Brockport, 4 p.m. 637-2260

Bang a gong

Does your kid march to the beat of a different drum? If so, maybe she'd like the chance to be a different kind of drummer.

The Eastman Youth Gamelan is looking for new members between the ages of 10 and 18. Popular in the Indonesian islands and throughout the world, gamelans are orchestras of xylophones, gongs, and drums. You know, all the fun stuff and none of the instruments that make your teeth ache when played by novices.

Under the direction of Clay Greenberg, kids learn to play music in the traditional Balinese style (without notation). The youth gamelan's performances are held in the Rochester area. Thank God. Can you imagine how many candy bars you'd have to sell to fund your kid's trip to Bali?

There's an open house for prospective youth gamelan members and their parents at the Eastman School of Music on Saturday, October 9, at 2 p.m. Your family can watch instrument demonstrations, try the instruments, and enjoy a performance by the gamelan. But please, no Gong Show jokes. They've heard them all, I'm sure.

In addition to music, youth gamelan members learn about Balinese culture and develop interpersonal skills. They'll also have an opportunity to perform with visiting musicians and dancers from Bali. That's Bali dancers, not belly dancers. Sorry, Dad.

All levels of musical ability are welcome, from total beginners to budding professionals. "My daughter the Eastman student." Yeah, I could get used to that.

Info: www.rochester.edu/eastman/gamelan, 461-4399.

---Linda Kostin (www.junkstorecowgirl.com)