Six Picks: Recommendations from the Monitor staff
A well-sourced website for the undecided voter, Snow Patrol's latest anthemic album, Kit Kittredge's sweet charm out on DVD, and more.
Not your average kit... er, kid
The first major film based on the long-popular American Girl series doesn't disappoint. Kit Kittredge: An American Girl (now on DVD) tells the story of a girl growing up during the Great Depression. The family decides to take in paying boarders after her father loses his job. When the lockbox with everyone's valuables is stolen, Kit must prove that her hobo friend isn't guilty, and find out who is. With good performances by all, this movie is sweet but not sappy.
Ireland's favorite 'Suns'
On its third album, Snow Patrol do more than deliver the sort of anthemic ballads that turn stadiums into galaxies of twinkling cellphones. There are still several such moments on A Hundred Million Suns (the pleasing "Lifeboats" and "The Golden Floor"), but the Irishmen have become more musically ambitious and even pull off a magisterial 16-minute epic titled "The Lightning Strike."
The chosen one
Still missing Xena and Hercules? Good news! The same team behind that slightly cheesy yet strangely satisfying television entertainment is back with a new series aimed at a younger set. Legend of the Seeker, based on the popular novels by Terry Goodkind, features all the important elements of sci-fi fantasy: a chosen one whose destiny is to defeat the evil overlord and save the universe. Woohoo! Series debuts Nov. 1. Check local times and channels at www.legendoftheseeker.com.
Music's universal appeal has long crossed cultural lines. Now American impresario Miles Copeland has tested that appeal to push past stereotypes by inviting a group of celebrated Arab musicians to the US to collaborate with Western artists. Dissonance and Harmony: Arab Music Goes West, a PBS documentary airing Nov. 2 at 10 p.m., follows Copeland's journey through the Middle East to find these musicians and bring them to L.A. for workshops and concerts. The exercise becomes a heartening example of music's unifying language.
Still undecided? Some Harvard University students have created VoteGopher.com, a nonpartisan site that offers comparisons of the presidential candidates on 25 issues, along with videos, blogs, and a searchable database of election news. The best part: a candidate matching quiz. Decide which candidate you agree with on each issue and which issues mean the most to you. The results are tallied, and you should be ready for the voting booth. If only online dating were this easy!
When roommates share expenses, it's confusing to figure out who paid for what and who owes whom. Expensure.com offers a free-of-charge and easy way to work it out. Using an account, housemates post expenses and how to split the cost. As members update what they've repayed, the site computes the simplest way to settle the debts.