Monitor picks

Five things we think you'll really like

A King is born

Fifty years ago, Nat King Cole became the first African-American to have his own TV show. PBS's American Masters marks the anniversary with The World of Nat King Cole May 17 (check local listings). Follow Cole from the post-World War I South to Chicago, where he discovers the jazz masters. Stevie Wonder, Harry Connick Jr., Tony Bennett, and others explain the power of his reign.

Neighborhood guides by neighbors

The age of the camcorder-wielding auteur was bound to produce some useful tools along with all those zany digital shorts. Here's one:, a new website whose tagline - "Short films. Cool Places." - says it all. Want a glimpse of Tarpon Springs, Fla., or Jamaica Plain, Mass.? No Chamber of Commerce pamphlet will give you this kind of view.

Talk to the flanimals

Did you know that the Spleg, also known as the Konk Bwarker, is related to the Gronglet, but with greater snorggling capabilities? Or that there are 30 types of Humpdumblers? These are just a few of the things you'll learn in More Flanimals, Ricky Gervais's ("The Office") humorous book of invented creatures. (At least we hope they are.)

Hail to the pretender-in-chief

Steve Bridges's father told him that if he worked hard enough he could grow up to be president. The comedian took those words to heart - sort of. Now he mimics President Bush to "nuke-u-lur" perfection. Go to to watch him in full makeup with Mr. Bush at last month's press dinner.

Hail to the other pretender in chief

During his two terms in The West Wing, President Josiah "Jed" Bartlett survived an assassination attempt, weathered the threat of impeachment, mourned the death of his chief of staff, and grappled with the constitutional question of whether the president can pardon more than one turkey on Thanksgiving. On Sunday (NBC, 8 p.m. ET), tune in to say farewell to C.J., Toby, Donna, Josh, and Sam. (Is that "Taps" we hear playing in our heads?)

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