Top Picks: Showtime's special on Dick Cheney, Slate's Hang Up and Listen podcast, and more recommends books, movies and music based on your travel destination, the Oscar-winning short "Paperman" is a charming tale of love and missed connections, and more top picks.

Film short, Paperman
Joshua Bell conducts Beethoven Symphonies No. 4 & 7
The Tempest

Acrobatic opera

“Great Performances at the Met,” on PBS, brings The Tempest, written and conducted by Thomas Adès, widely considered the new Benjamin Britten. This version is conjured up by Robert Lepage, who made his name with his extravagant production of Wagner’s “Ring Cycle.” With Ariel imagined as an acrobatic coloratura soprano and vivid staging effects, this English-language production, based on Shakespeare’s final, magical play, is equally engaging to watch as listen to. It airs on March 17 at noon; check local listings.

Cheney profile

Just how much influence did Vice President Dick Cheney actually have in the White House? Speculate no more. Showtime’s The World According to Dick Cheney, which airs March 15 at 9 p.m., follows his four-decade rise to his time as the most powerful nonpresidential figure in US history, framed with interviews and commentary. This is part of Showtime’s new documentary series highlighting provocative public figures.

Short and sweet

If you haven’t seen Paperman, which won the 2013 Oscar for Best Animated Short, head over to The six-minute video tells a charming tale of love and missed connections in midcentury New York. Disney created the animation with 3-D models, but you’d never know it. Through skilled use of penlike lines and paperesque filters, the characters look hand-drawn. Check it out at

Cruise control

Going on a cruise? Travel writer Paul Allen recommends books, movies, and music relating to your destination on Groove to hits from Swedish pop band ABBA before you float through the Baltic Sea. Graze a literary anthology about Denali National Park as you embark on an Alaskan cruise. Watch “The King and I” before traveling around Southeast Asia. Whichever corner of the world you are heading to, will get you there faster.

Sports fix

Slate’s Hang Up and Listen podcast takes an intelligent and often funny look at the week’s sports news, without the bluster and bombast that often spoil sports radio shows. Make sure to listen to the “Afterball” segment that concludes each episode, in which each host presents a short and fascinating peek at an overlooked corner of the sports universe. It’s available on iTunes or at

Maestro Bell

Violin virtuoso Joshua Bell’s first recording as music director of the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields was described as dazzling and mesmerizing by foreign press outlets. He is the first director since it was founded by violinist-conductor Neville Marinner in 1958. ASMF chose Beethoven’s Symphonies No. 4 and 7, which pack a great punch. Mr. Bell is not new to the orchestra: His first concerto recording occurred under Marinner’s baton when he was 21.

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