Monitor Picks

Five things we think you'll like this week, including a board game where Earth is your playground, a website that turns your family photo album into a mosaic, and the perfect gift for the Jedi in your life.


So, you're running out of gift ideas? Fret not: for the artistically inclined, takes your photographs and spins them into grand mosaics of striking color. And the price is right: the most expensive version – 20 inches in width – costs $49.99.

Humanity helpers

Need fuel for fireside chats? TED: The Future We Will Create, is a documentary that dives into the heady, big-ideas world of the Technology, Entertainment, and Design (TED) conference. The 2006 event brought such solution-seekers as Al Gore and Peter Gabriel to Monterey, Calif., along with expansive thinkers you haven't met. You'll be transfixed, maybe transformed.

A gift for 'Star' gazers

Star Wars Vault: Thirty Years of Treasures from the Lucasfilm Archives is vaster than Darth Vader's Death Star: There are blueprints for vehicles from the films, concept sketches, hundreds of photographs, and Christmas cards. It even comes with a pair of CDs – if you're brave, you can listen to Carrie Fisher sing in the 'Star Wars Holiday Special.'

Get down to 'The Wire'

Despite being hailed as TV's best series, HBO's The Wire has a lower profile than Dennis Kucinich in the presidential race. Created by a former reporter and an ex-cop, this brazenly edgy and gritty drama centers on a surveillance unit taking on Baltimore drug lords. But, more than that, it's a profoundly thoughtful meditation on the modern American city, its institutions, and the underclass. In advance of January's fifth series, catch up with Seasons 1 through 4 on DVD.

Play with the planet

You've probably worked your way – repeatedly – through the lush "Planet Earth"series that aired on Discovery. Now you can interact with it. Imagination Entertainment's engaging Planet Earth DVD Game ($25 at Wal-Mart) uses video and show-based facts to advance the cooperative completion of a two-sided puzzle. (Knowing snottites from stalactites can win you a handful of pieces.) For players age 8 and up.

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