Top Picks: A breakout British star, bears in the wild, and more

The best of the 'Thin Man' series get re-released, a board game that everyone wins is available for family time, 2012 myths are debunked, and more top picks.

Essential Nick and Nora

The first four movies included in The Thin Man, Vol. 1 box set from the TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection are really all you need of the six-part series starring William Powell and Myrna Loy as married detectives. The best are "The Thin Man," where Powell gets dragged back into the detective business, and "After The Thin Man," which features a young James Stewart.

Treasure hunting together

Fun as it is to build a hotel on Boardwalk, late-game Monopoly is often entertaining for only one player: the winner. Forbidden Island, on the other hand, stands as the rare example of an excellent cooperative board game. Players must work together to collect four treasures before the entire island sinks into the ocean. The game rewards teamwork, quick thinking, and imagination. Available from Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and the iPad app store.

Bear kingdom

On PBS's "Nature," Fortress of the Bears explores the largest concentration of bears in the world, on Alaska's Admiralty Island. Half the size of Yellowstone – the island is only 100 miles long and 20 miles wide – the area contains four times the number of grizzlies. The native Tlingít people call the island "Kootznoowoo," which means "fortress of the bears." An up-close look at this impressive animal airs Jan. 25 at 8 p.m.

Power and the glory

PBS's "American Masters" features Phil Ochs: There But for Fortune, which profiles the troubled, deeply honest singer who stood up for what he believed in and challenged others to do the same. A compelling story of both a singer/songwriter and an era, the program airs Jan. 23 at 10 p.m.

From 'A Team' to A-list
 

Are you ready for master Ed? A 20-year-old from West Yorkshire, England, Ed Sheeran is a breakout sensation in Britain and a viral iTunes and YouTube success story. The ginger-haired singer, who resembles a grown-up Opie, possesses a wondrous voice and immense talent, equally at home in Van Morrison-style Celtic soul and funky urban pop. You can check out the boy wonder on YouTube or download his latest EP, "The A Team," from iTunes or other digital sites. And catch him live this spring opening for Snow Patrol's US tour.

Don't buy that boat yet
 

National Geographic has debunked 6 Mayan myths about 2012 supposedly being the end of the world, blockbuster movies with tidal waves to the contrary. One example? Mayans didn't really think the end of the world was happening on Dec. 21, 2012. They just saw the day as the beginning of a new calendar. See the whole list at: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2012/01/pictures/120103-end-of-world-maya-calendar-apocalypse-nasa-new-year

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.