Triumph on the ivory keys
On Sept. 28 at 9 p.m., PBS will celebrate The Cliburn: 50 Years of Gold, a 60-minute documentary tribute to the competition founded by pianist Van Cliburn in 1962. The film looks at a half century of winners as well as the famous musician who rocketed to worldwide fame in 1958 when he won the first International Tchaikovsky Piano competition in Moscow. Viewers can also watch the entire film online at Cliburn.org or pbs.org beginning Sept. 29.
Superheroes in your living room
Avengers, assemble. The Avengers supergroup, which includes Iron Man and Captain America, comes to DVD and Blu-ray Sept. 25 with its story of the fighting force battling the villainous Loki. Director-screenwriter Joss Whedon makes excellent use of 3-D, and, despite the many special effects and kabooms, he doesn't turn the movie into a head-rattling endurance test.
Renoir, Monet, Manet, Van Gogh, Cézanne, Cassatt, and more – masters of the art world who changed it forever – are all profiled in a DVD making its US debut Sept. 18. Understanding Art: Impressionism is a four-part series examining the men and women who revolutionized the art world with their new way of seeing light and line. The three-volume set from Athena also includes bonus features on Van Gogh and Manet.
Getting kids through school
Drop Out Nation, airing Sept. 25 on PBS's "Frontline," is a trenchant story of four high school students on the verge of dropping out, including a homeless girl who wants to be an obstetrician but is chronically absent and a boy who works to support his family while his mother faces the threat of deportation. The educators who do all they can to help them succeed – including one who sacrifices family time and opens up her own home – make you wonder if you'd do as much in their shoes.
Let your phone whistle for a taxi
Uber wants to carry taxi services into the smart-phone era. The cab company, which launched in 13 American cities, revolves around its iPhone and Android apps. Request a car through the Uber app, and the software will identify the closest available taxi. Your phone also provides a digital map so you can watch the driver approach your location. Once you reach your destination, Uber bills your credit card – no cash required.
Baritone from the wild woods
Picture Bigfoot emerging from the forest with an acoustic guitar strapped on. Now imagine what he would sound like, with vocal tones that cut as deep as a redwood's roots. That's burly, bearded singer/songwriter Sean Rowe in a nutshell (though he's much better looking). His major label debut album, The Salesman and the Shark, with its riveting subsonic vocals and man-in-the-wild tales will resonate inside you, long after the last chord rings out. He's a unique artist by any measure. You can check him out live at http://bit.ly/SeanRowe.