Monitor picks

The Globetrotter

Before passenger airplanes opened the world to tourism, Burton Holmes, an eloquent Chicagoan with a Van Dyke beard and insatiable wanderlust, crisscrossed the world by ship, train, camel and elephant with his large-format camera in tow. From 1892 to 1952 his "travelogues" enthralled US audiences, who filled concert halls to see his hand-colored lantern slides from every corner of the earth. Now we can share his viewfinder in the stunning book, Travelogues.

Internet killed the video star

MTV's stranglehold on music may have loosened in the past decade, but that doesn't mean the network has forgotten its roots. URGE, MTV's online music service produced in collaboration with Microsoft, is proof. With a simple installation process, pages of unique content – like blogs and expert reviews – and a handful of subscription options, URGE is fit for the geekiest of the music geeks.

Tube talk

This week, TV critic Frazier Moore recorded a post mortem of the Oscars. The catch? He'd finished the whole thing days before the ceremony. Moore, whose Watching Televisionpodcast is an excellent addition to the National Public Radio line-up, is that kind of host – crazy enough to analyze a program that hadn't yet been aired and canny enough to be right on target. Check out www.kcrw.com/etc/programs/wt for more irrerevent takes on today's tube culture.

Recommended: Bestselling books the week of 1/5/12, according to IndieBound*
'Lives' behind the Berlin wall

At Sunday's Oscars, The Lives of Others (R) caused an upset in the Best Foreign Language Picture category by trumping presumed favorite 'Pan's Labyrinth.' The win wasn't a surprise to those who've seen this chilling drama, set in East Germany.

Love, life, and loss

Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking is scheduled for a Broadway adaptation this spring. But before you dash off to buy tickets, sit down with the original, finally out in paperback. "Magical Thinking," which reflects on the life and abrupt death of Didion's husband, John Gregory Dunne, isn't light reading, but it is among the boldest, most open-hearted works in the Didion canon. And that's saying a lot.

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