Top Picks: The Beach Boys' new album, a book on self-employment, and more

A short film charts skateboarding in Afghanistan, Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law star as Holmes and his sidekick in 'Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows,' and more top picks.

Rafiq Maqbool/AP


Can The Beach Boys "do it again"? Well, the album That's Why God Made the Radio is both far better than it should be and about as bad as you might imagine. The good stuff is vintage Brian Wilson – the stirring title track is everything we love about the "Boys," and the last three Wilson songs could have fit on any "golden era" album. But in the Mike Love-influenced tracks, we find been-there-done-that lyrics like "cruisin' the town, diggin' the scene." The verdict? Half great, which ain't bad.

Baker street irregulars

This is the summer of all things British, so what could be more tweedy than Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law as the iconic sleuths? Back for more mystery and intrigue with the team of Sherlock and Watson pursuing their old nemesis, Professor Moriarty, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, is out on DVD and Blu-ray June 12. It includes mobile apps so you can view extras on the go.

Skating toward change

Skateboarding may bring to mind memories of adolescent rebellion or Tony Hawk; but in Kabul, Afghanistan, it's helping to uplift the lives of Afghan youths. Skateistan: To Live And Skate Kabul, a nine-minute video nominated for the 2012 Vimeo Awards, tells the story of Skateistan, the first skate park in Kabul. The film is raw and beautifully shot; it reveals an effort for hope in a city known for its tribulation. Check out and watch for "Skateistan" as a new book soon available in the United States.

Be your own boss

Chris Guillebeau's definition of success in The $100 Startup (Crown, 304 pp.) is simple: Be your own boss, and make a comfortable living on your own terms. In zippy prose, Guillebeau provides dozens of detailed examples of people who, with minimal start-up costs, made self-employment work for them, with careers ranging from making custom wedding dresses to designing scheduling software for music teachers. No matter how happy you are with your 9-to-5 job, this book will make you think about chucking it all to strike out on your own.

track the Olympic spirit

In late May, the Olympic torch set out on a 70-day tour of Britain, zigzagging across the country and coming within one hour of 95 percent of all residents. You can track the torch relay through ESRI's "story map." The interactive website pinpoints the flame's location and offers a fun gallery of photos taken along the way. Check out the map at

How we got here

Money, politics, emotion – these are the forces that have given rise to all great societies through the ages. A stunning update of the landmark 1969 BBC Civilization series traces the currents of human foibles and power that shaped art throughout the ages across 11 countries. This contemporary updating of the earlier hit TV show "This Is Civilization" is available on DVD from Athena June 9 as a four-part series.

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