Six Picks: Recommendations from the Monitor's staff
A ukulele master, Tweets by phone, a tracker of viral videos, and more.
Hamish MacBeth meets Peter Mayle in the highly enjoyable Bruno, Chief of Police. Bruno's duties in the sleepy Dordogne town of Perigord usually involve helping local cheesemakers foil European Union inspectors and teaching children tennis. Then an elderly Algerian is killed in an apparent racial crime, and Bruno finds himself fending off riots, neofascists, and politicians. Nonfiction writer Martin Walker plots with the same finesse with which Bruno can whip up a truffle omelette, and both have a clear appreciation for a life tied to the land.
Baby, you're cold
Tune in to Waking the Baby Mammoth to see the most complete remains of a pleistocene-era woolly mammoth ever to turn up in modern times. At 9 p.m. on April 26, National Geographic Channel takes you to the frozen steppes of the Russian tundra to see this remarkably intact baby giant and follows an international team of scientists as they track her journey from 40,000 years ago to the 21st century. Actor Victor Garber narrates the chronicle.
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That's what soulbiographies.com offers as filmmaker Nic Askew and producer Edwin Escobar serve up a series of short films of people (some famous, some not) talking openly and honestly about a range of topics. In "A Glimpse of Reality," Richard McCann learns from a tragedy in his childhood; in "The Girl who looked into the Mirror," Lisa Evans muses on the true nature of love. Our favorite so far is "In the Life of Another," about a chance encounter Alison Wood had with a gent in a pinstriped suit.
Need to be nudged out of your cubicle doldrums? Try viralvideochart.com, which aggregates the top 20 viral videos on any given day. Most are two minutes of delight and creativity, with the occasional racy or edgy one.
If any stringed instrument has rarely transcended its identity as a kitschy toy, or Hawaiian tourism icon, it's the ukulele. So along comes Hawaiian ukulele master Jake Shimabukuro. His new album "Live" (Hitchhike Records) shiningly reconfigures the ukelele's history. Through the development of a percussive and lyrical technique, Shimabukuro covers Michael Jackson's "Thriller," J.S. Bach's "Two Part Invention in D Minor," and a flamenco-charged version of George Harrison's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." This well-recorded potpourri of live concert solo performances possesses humor, rocking and danceable rhythms, and bouncy energy.