Six Picks: Recommendations from the Monitor staff

The final season of 'Lost,' Garrison Keillor's radio show in movie theaters, Laura Veirs's lovely homespun 'July Flame' CD, and more.

Weather world

Bored of watching the snow fall or the sun shine endlessly? Then take a look at wunderground.com/worldview/ – a new weekly feature of spectacular photos from around the world. The images are all of current weather and are selected from uploads by the site's 1 million users. You, too, can contribute.

'Lost' for the last time

This is it for ABC's hit castaway drama, "Lost." The final 18 episodes will kick off Feb. 2, with promises to the faithful and casual fan alike that everything from the time travel mysteries of the remote ocean island to whatever happened to the murderous Michael and intriguing Libby will all be answered. The only question mark for producers: How to roll back the clock on the young actor who played Walt, the preteen son from Season 1 – translation: Walt may or may not be seen again.

Tales of summer

Portland, Ore., singer/songwriter Laura Veirs has been a critic's favorite for many years but has flown under the radar... until now. Her delightful new homespun CD "July Flame" is garnering global raves and airplay galore. It's the perfect album to warm you up on these chilly winter days, as she spins out richly textured tales of summer crushes and backyard scenes, bumblebees and shooting stars. "July Flame" will likely rocket Veirs to stardom in 2010.

Recommended: Culture and Science

'Prairie Home' live

First there was the radio show, "A Prairie Home Companion," then the movie about it, and now there's the radio show live in movie theaters on Feb. 4, with an encore replay Feb. 9. "A Prairie Home Companion With Garrison Keillor – Live in HD!" will come to more than 500 theaters in the US and Canada, straight from the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, Minn. Why now? Says the host, "Let people see what Dusty and Lefty and Guy Noir look like, and how the guy does the sound effects, and make sure the news from Lake Wobegon is not read from a script." For theater information, go to http://prairiehome.publicradio.org.

Opera's 'Aida'

On Jan. 31, PBS's "Great Performances at the Met," an ongoing series from WNET 13 in New York, features Verdi's ever-popular "Aida." Sung in Italian with English supertitles, this is the third of 10 operas for the season. The telecast is scheduled for 12 noon ET, but check local listings.

Musical Merritt

As the recording vehicle for songwriter Stephin Merritt, the Magnetic Fields is a band of musical collaborators who present his delicately crafted pop songs with wit and deft musicality. "Realism," the band's ninth album, capitalizes on Merritt's trademark wry observations and musical sleight of hands. Unlike the last album, which was drenched in industrial noise, this one has songs that are based more in folk and the pop certainty that all that matters is three minutes and a chorus you can't get out of your head.

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