Six Picks: Recommendations from the Monitor staff

Retracing a legendary journey on the History Channel, Coldplay's latest album for free, a new book on cooking schools to entice your inner gourmet, and more.

History Channel
Joan Marcus/ Boneau/Bryan-Brown/ AP

Move Over David Livingstone

Mangrove swamps, man-eating crocodiles, venom-spitting cobras! Mark Burnett, the man behind TV's "Survivor," takes on the heart of Africa's survival challenges with Expedition Africa: Stanley & Livingstone, an eight-hour documentary/reality TV production re-creating the legendary journey of the 19th-century adventurers. A team of four – a survivalist, a navigator, a wildlife expert, and a journalist – attempt to follow Stanley's nearly 1,000 mile journey from Zanzibar to Ujiji, deep inside Tanzania. A little cheesier than National Geographic, but the scenery is amazing and nobody's booted off this voyage. Airs on History channel, May 31 at 10 p.m.

Stevie live

PBS celebrates the 50th anniversary of Motown with Stevie Wonder: Live at Last, the first-ever television concert by this soul legend. Recorded in London this past October, this recorded-live event is a walk down the best of Motown's memory lane, with the singer performing all his top hits right up to the present. Get your TiVo ready to save and burn for keeps. Airs June 1 at 8 p.m. as part of the ongoing "Great Performances" series.

Your inner gourmet

If your culinary skills feel basic, Joe David's Gourmet Getaways: 50 Top Spots to Cook and Learn (GPP Travel, $16.95) might expand your repertoire. The food writer has sought out the best cooking schools across America and profiled chefs, the cost, the accommodation, plus a few delicious recipes – in case you never make it out of your armchair.

Virtual bargain basement

No more flipping through the Sunday papers. Coupon-cutting has gone high-tech with, a one-stop website for discounts and promotional codes. For Web-savvy shoppers it offers a unique coupon-sharing model, where you can post coupons as well as search for 90,000 others to apply to merchandise, travel, and services.

Coldplay free play

As a thank-you to fans, Coldplay is offering free downloads of their latest album, Left Right Left Right Left, at the band's website www.cold and giving out free CDs if you attend one of their live shows in 2009 (except for festival shows).

Pulitzer drama

Lynn Nottage's 2009 Pulitzer Prize winner, Ruined, about the suffering of Congolese women during the country's civil war, was partially inspired by Brecht's iconic "Mother Courage and Her Children." Yet Nottage discarded Brecht's intellectual distancing in favor of a deeper emotional level. The play centers on a brothel madam who acts as both protector and exploiter to a closely bonded group of women who were brutalized, raped, and ostracized from their communities during the war. Despite the violence that percolates off stage, the play is suffused with compassion and hope. "Ruined" plays at the Manhattan Theatre Club through June 28 (

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