Six picks: Recommendations from the Monitor staff

A peek into cutting-edge science, some songs for a long hot summer, a choice of chairs for sitting stylishly, and more.

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NOVA scienceNOW

Summer is a perfect time to catch up on your ... science, right? PBS thinks so and is giving NOVA scienceNOW a chance to shine in its very own time slot, Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT. The show has been a surprise hit in its occasional appearances on the mother show, NOVA. Tune in to keep up with such cutting-edge science as dark matter, personal DNA testing, and the memories of mice.

Beached Boy

Recommended: Could you pass a US citizenship test?

For years, Dennis Wilson's Pacific Ocean Blue – the first solo record by a Beach Boy – was only available for prices that would make your credit card shudder. The 1977 album has finally been lavishly reissued with curator-like sleeve notes, photos, and a second disc of Wilson's unreleased follow-up, "Bambu." Though "What's Wrong" sounds like a great lost Beach Boys track, this lyrically introspective album is a musical departure for Wilson. On "River Blue" the harmonies belong to a gospel choir.

Border cry

In Under the Same Moon (La Misma Luna), now on DVD, a 9-year-old Mexican boy undertakes a risky pilgrimage across the US border. His goal: to reunite with his mother who is an illegal itinerant worker. Whole packages of Kleenex will be depleted by the end credits.

A towering read

Using the sort of prose that would be the envy of any New Yorker essayist, philosopher Alain de Botton explains in his new paperback, The Architecture of Happiness, why we find some buildings beautiful, how different shapes and contours affect our perceptions, and how architecture reflects changing cultural values. It'll change the way you view your world.

Be seated! (stylishly)

Chairs are so easy to overlook since we spend so much of our life in them – but furniture designer Jeff Nutt doesn't take chair design "sitting down." A case in point: his 500 Chairs from Lark Books, a photographic anthology of creativity by international furniture artists. Zany chairs aping zebras and monkeys abound. There's a comfy chair composed of bagged wood chips. And Nutt includes his own "green" design, the celery chair with peppers, carrots, and snow peas. Elegantly neotraditional chairs get their due also. This is classy eye candy to keep you riveted to your seat.

Family flicks

Two major cinema chains are offering inexpensive or free admission this summer. Selected Regal theaters are showing free PG- and G-rated fare for kids at 10 a.m. each Tuesday and Wednesday (regal.com). Not to be outdone, some AMC cinemas are hosting $1 Summer MovieCamp screenings at 10 a.m. every Wednesday with ticket revenues going to charity (amctheatres.com).

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