Beautiful Darkness 

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I've always been fond of caves. Such darkness only exists when you're dead. And the quiet is touching: just you, the limestone and your ruminations.

One of my favorite places to explore the beauty of the underground is just east of a little city called Nicoya, in the Guanacaste province of Costa Rica. There, you can visit when the weather's dry. It's a study in slowness. Drip by drip, the rock forms, one cubic inch every 120 years. And before you know it, there's a stalactite, strong and solid. I like to sit under them, and let the water drip onto my tongue.

There are few chances to be surrounded by such darkness in this modern world, much less see the stars. City lights wipe all of it out. Does anyone even see films anymore? So many home theaters and HDTVs. Maybe you need to find a place in the dark, to wrap your mind around a good story or two. To slow down, like the limestone.

Item N§ 52

Special Holiday Assortment!

Package 1: In Theaters Now! Movies to fit all tastes, from the jejune "Fred Claus" (hey, if Vince Vaughn can get you out of post-holiday dinner talk with the in-laws, take it) to "No Country for Old Men," the new crime thriller from the Coen brothers, to "Southland Tales" from Richmond's own Richard Kelly.

Package 2: Strange and Fantastical! It's "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium," with Dustin Hoffman and Natalie Portman and, of "Silver Spoons" fame, Jason Bateman. Plus, the computer-animated version of Angelina Jolie that video-game-playing nerds have dreamed of for years. And "Enchanted," where

fairytale characters interact with (gasp!) the real world. You just know that's gonna be kooky.

Package 3: Grab Bag! See Queen Latifah in "The Perfect Holiday," opening Dec. 12. And then it's sequel time, baby -- more clues, more hunting for "National Treasure: The Book of Secrets," opening Dec. 21. And just in time for the holy holiday, it's "Alien vs. Predator: Requiem," opening Dec. 25. And hey, if you buy today, we'll throw in "Alvin and the Chipmunks," opening Dec. 14.

Price: Varies.

To order: Check theaters for show times or go to www.richmondmovies.com.

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