Raina Kelley

The Checklist

TIVO 'Commander in Chief.' Oh, no--Madame President! Your new time slot puts you up against "ER" and "Without a Trace" (ABC, Thurs., 10 p.m., ET). BUY the Time Mug.

Snap Judgment: Books

Abide With Me by Elizabeth Strout Loss pervades every page of this follow-up to Strout's best-selling novel "Amy and Isabelle." Don't be deterred. Strout has an uncanny ability to express each character's obsession with a past that can't come back but won't go away.

When the Name Game Isn't Just a Game

The protagonist of Colson Whitehead's new novel, "Apex Hides the Hurt," is a "nomenclature consultant"--a veritable Adam of Madison Avenue. He's also a mystery, moving through the book without a name or an immediate explanation for why he limps or what the "misfortune" was that's caused him to leave his high-flying career.

Technology: Wireless For Less

The price of wireless printers is dropping. So is the weight, as brands offer smaller options. Want to get unplugged? Here are some new offerings that stack up well: the Dell All-in- One Printer 964 scans, faxes and prints an impressive 26 pages per minute from any room in your house ($199 plus $99 for the Wireless Adapter 3300; dell.com ).

VIDEO STOREFOOTBALL

Celebrate the glory of the Super Bowl with a pigskin film fest. Here are our gridiron picks. 'All the Right Moves' Tom Cruise plays his way out of a dying Pa.

New Year In Vegas

If you're looking for a New Year's Eve that never stops rocking, check out Las Vegas. The city's celebration includes fireworks shot from the roofs of 10 casinos along the Strip, or raise your glass at the World's Largest Toast; admission is $40 and includes performances by Cheap Trick and the Spin Doctors ( vegasexperience.com ).

Holiday Countdown

The reason we loved holidays is kids isn't just because we got all those presents. It's because we didn't have to do anything! Children don't have to stay up writing cards while baking 12 dozen cookies for 13 different social events and wrapping gifts between batches.

History: What Rosa Really Means

The death of civil-rights hero Rosa Parks may raise questions for your children. Here is a list of resources that will help them make sense of an America when liberty and justice weren't available to all."Rosa Parks: My Story" ($6.29; amazon.com ) is an autobiography for grades four through six.

Theater: Off-Broadway

They say the neon lights are bright on Broadway, but this season, great theater will shine all over New York City. Off-Broadway shows are typically cheaper than their White Way cousins, but that doesn't mean that the tickets are easy to get.

Into The Wild

Fall is here, and that means fewer bugs and no crowds--the perfect time for camping. Grab your tent (try the Eureka Titan, www.eurekacamping.com) and this cool gear and get backpacking.1.

GERMS SPREAD FASTER THAN GOSSIP

When you're away from home, being sick can be scary. We could tell you to eat right, exercise and get some sleep, but you won't, so here are some other tips for taking care of yourself:Before you leave for school, get a complete physical, a copy of your immunization record from your doc and a list of any allergies, past medical problems or special needs.

CHEAT SHEET: SODA SIP-OFF

A cold soda sure is refreshing on a hot day. But which one? Last week Coca-Cola unveiled Coke Zero, a no-calorie drink meant to taste like regular Coke. That brought the grand total of Cokes and Pepsis to 28--yes, 28.

BASKET CASES

The best part of a picnic isn't the food or the great outdoors: it's the gear. A classic wicker oval picnic basket ($60; crateandbarrel.com) is perfect for a romantic date by the lake.

HOME: SPLENDOR IN YOUR GRASS

Unless Tiger Woods is coming over to shag balls, you don't need grass that looks like Augusta National's. Suburban lawn warriors use 10 times the pesticides per acre that farmers do, and don't get us started on all the gas and oil in those lawnmowers.

SPRING FOR BROADWAY

Missed Christo's "The Gates"? Not to worry. Come to New York this spring and you can still see killer rabbits, Denzel in Valentino and a flying car. Broadway is about to open its best season in years, with lots of promising new musicals (including "Twelfth Night" set to Elvis), enough revivals for a Theater 101 class and stars like Jessica Lange, John Lithgow, Kathleen Turner, James Earl Jones and Alan Alda packed into 10 city blocks.

THE PIGSKIN POP QUIZ

Problem: you're going to watch the Super Bowl with people who love the game, not the commercials--only you don't know a fullback from a tight end. Crib from Tip Sheet, and you'll sound like a pro even if you can't figure out the score.

THEATER | HOT SEATS

Off-Broadway is the traditional home of New York's more experimental theater. A winter preview.The Baltimore Waltz:A gorgeous revival about a dying woman who finds the meaning of life.

GARDENING | BULBS

Winter is coming, but if you want more time in the garden, plant bulbs. A few holes now will result in gorgeous blooms in the spring.Bloms Bulbs is a bit more expensive than its competition (three for $7 or 10 for $22), but the selection of daffodils (try the Acropolis double) is amazing.

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