Six Picks: Recommendations from the Monitor staff

Behind Obama's election on HBO, Charles Kuralt's travels on DVD, 'March of the Penguins' in new limited edition DVD, and more.

Scout Tufankjian/HBO
Courtesy of Acorn Media

Penguin news

The Oscar-winning documentary "March of the Penguins" is the remarkable story of emperor penguins in the Antarctic. Each year they traipse 70 miles to their breeding grounds, where mothers leave dads for months to balance the eggs on their webbed feet while they go off to feed. Along with the superb photography and Morgan Freeman narrative, this latest "March" DVD ($39.98) includes the feature-length documentary "On the Wings of Penguins."

Piano moves

Even if you never learned the piano, "Chopsticks" – in some basic form – probably entered your musical lexicon. Now the well-known waltz has been given a charming twist in Margo Guryan's "The Chopsticks Variations" ($9.99, Oglio Records) as she renders the piano classic in 14 wonderful, often witty styles, including jazz, ragtime, and boogie-woogie as well as the more classical adagio, allegro, andante, etc. A favorite in print, this is the first time the variations have been released on CD.

Obama behind the scenes

Nearly a year before Barack Obama announced his presidential bid, a team of filmmakers began recording everything from private phone calls between now-first daughters and their dad to the behind-the-scenes personal thoughts of the candidate and his idealistic team. "By the People: The Election of Barack Obama," a two-hour documentary on HBO, which airs Nov. 3 at 9 p.m., is a revealingly candid portrait of the man and his moment in history, filled with scenes that are at once small, poignant, and – in hindsight – politically momentous.

An unexpected mission

In "Unmistaken Child" (newly out on DVD), 28-year-old Nepalese monk Tenzin Zopa is tasked with finding the reincarnation of a Buddhist master. The process of discovery takes the monk to Nepal's breathtaking Tsum Valley. Eventually a little boy is found and deemed authentic, but Tenzin Zopa must convince the boy's parents to part with him for life. Filmmaker Nati Baratz captures it all with an intimacy that ascends to a state of grace.

Music to vote by

A group of Zambian musicians, inspired by President Obama's message of "Change we can believe in," recorded a song that has hit the airwaves in Zambia and is encouraging young people to participate in the local elections. To hear it, go to and search for "Zambian musicians."

'Television's Norman Rockwell'

CBS newsman Charles Kuralt was more than just a journalist. He was a raconteur and above all a consummate listener with an uncanny eye for the heart of a narrative. For 20 years, beginning in 1967, the award-winning storyteller scoured the back roads of America for the nation's most compelling untold tales. Now, in 18 TV episodes, 77 of those stories are collected in a new DVD set, "On the Road with Charles Kuralt: Set 1" ($39.99, Acorn Media).

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