Top Picks: Behind the scenes with the Windsors, Vienna Philharmonic's New Year's Day concert, and more
Figure out what that long string of numbers on your credit card is for, a fan's credit sequence for the 'Tintin' movie gets him a job with Steven Spielberg, Sevara Nazarkhan's new CD evokes an ancient sound with spellbinding results, and more.
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GeekDad writer Jonathan Liu has written a tongue-in-cheek column about the five best toys of all time (wired.com/geekdad/2011/01/the-5-best-toys-of-all-time/). Tickle Me Elmo? The newest Transformers action figure? Try a box, a stick, and dirt, among others. "Disclosure," he writes. "I have received several samples of Sticks from one manufacturer for review."
Motion graphics designer James Curran, a huge fan of the comic series behind the new movie The Adventures of Tintin, posted a video to Vimeo (vimeo.com/30402976) of an opening credits sequence he'd created for the movie, using colorful, blocky graphics and integrating parts of each of the 24 Tintin comic books. How good are the unofficial credits? Steven Spielberg, the film's director, saw them and hired Curran for his next movie.
The Windsors: From George to Kate (Athena), out on Jan. 3, provides a window into the lives and history of the current British royal family. The DVD details the pageantry as well as intimate moments and includes a 16-page viewer's guide, clips from William and Kate's wedding, and archival footage of King George VI – the subject of the critically lauded film "The King's Speech."
Sevara Nazarkhan is best known in the West for her two records on Peter Gabriel's label Real World Records. However, her latest CD, Tortadur, represents a giant leap backward, in the good sense that she has abandoned electronics and pop instrumentation in favor of working with masters of traditional Uzbek music, descendants of old musical families who still remember how their music used to sound. Her soft, supple voice finds a lovely, emotionally charged embrace in the sound of ancient acoustic instruments such as the nai flute, gijak fiddle, and qonun, a plucked relative of the autoharp. Mesmerizing.
A Viennese New Year
Tune in to PBS New Year's Day for an annual tradition – the New Year's Concert with the Vienna Philharmonic from the lustrous Austrian city. (A CD and DVD of the performance will come out later in January.) The concert, a historic event dating back to 1939, will air on TV and radio in more than 70 countries. Check local listings.
Crack the code
Ever wonder what the long string of numbers on the front of your credit card is for? The financial website MintLife explains it all in an article (mint.com/blog/trends/credit-card-code-01202011/) where it identifies what each number means. Not only is it informative, but the inside knowledge could also help you spot a fake card. One cool fact: If the first number on the card is a 3, the card comes from a company that specializes in travel or entertainment.