Monitor Picks

Five things we think you'll really like.

Almost famous

Jancee Dunn's tenure as a writer for Rolling Stone included surviving a ride in Ashley Olsen's careening Range Rover, being mistaken for Ben Affleck's girlfriend by the paparazzi, and talking her way into Dolly Parton's fridge to see whether the singer really does, in fact, eat Velveeta. Not bad for a reporter who didn't finish college. Dunn's hilarious memoir, But Enough About Me, is at its best, though, when she opens up about learning to embrace her inner geek in a world of cool posturing.

Decoding the critics

Reviewers have been harder on The Da Vinci Code than a self-flagellating albino monk. We think Ron Howard's film mixes in just enough action with the (admittedly preposterous) discussion of Christianity's supposed dark secret. It may not be a Mona Lisa masterpiece, but it's no finger painting, either.

Salute their shorts

In April the Monitor reported on a short-film competition, created by Film Your Issue, that gives 18- to 26-year-old filmmakers a chance to sound off. Many did, and after a preliminary sorting of the 30- to 60-second digital submissions, the (sometimes quite gritty) works of 35 finalists await more judging - this time by you, at msnbc.msn.com/id/12721177. Winners to be announced June 8 at filmyourissue.com.

Instant digital photo album

Martha Stewart dropouts, rejoice! Help has arrived from an unlikely source, the business product supplier Unibind and its stylish new PhotoBook Creator ($99). Print those digital pix cluttering up your computer, slip in the folder, drop onto the binder, and 90 seconds later you have a book - not a staple or glue gun in sight. (One caveat: the website, unibind.com, could be more consumer friendly when it comes to reordering supplies.)

Plane talk

Like listening to police scanners? Watching jets take off and land? For a combined experience (sort of), surf to liveATC.net and monitor air-traffic controllers in real time as they banter with pilots at a couple dozen locations worldwide. You might not see that Aer Lingus 747 departing Boston, but you'll hear the pilot's brogue as he accepts a heading to Dublin, asks for a less-bumpy altitude, and bids the control tower good day.

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