Top Picks: The digital magazine Marvelous, 'Gravity' on DVD and Blu-ray, and more

A new app compiles clips from documentaries by Ken Burns, writer Mitch Horowitz details how the idea of thinking positively took the US by storm, and more top picks.

PBS
Jazz and the Philharmonic
One Simple Idea
Gravity DVD

Artistic exploration ...

An impressive roster of award-winning artists and rising stars explored the intersection of jazz and classical music at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami. Jazz and the Philharmonic features Bobby McFerrin (pictured), Chick Corea, Dave Grusin, Terence Blanchard, Eric Owens, Desmond Richardson, Shelly Berg, and the University of Miami’s Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra. Together they infuse classical works with contemporary improvisations, creating an evening of pure delight. It premières Feb. 28 on PBS.

... where classical meets jazz

Sometimes cerebral cool, sometimes smokin’ hot, pianist Helen Sung’s première on the Concord Jazz label, Anthem for a New Day, deftly navigates the jazz idiom while engaging her classical roots. Jazz standard “It Don’t Mean a Thing,” Duke Ellington’s paean to swing, is treated with a quiet, playful turn while Sung’s own composition “Chaos Theory” demonstrates the full range of her jazz chops as she lets loose across the keyboard. Sung boldly embraces both her passions.

Roots of positivity

Your thinking influences your experience. It’s an idea so completely accepted that we tend to take it for granted. But – as Mitch Horowitz ably demonstrates in his thoughtful, well-researched book One Simple Idea – it took America by storm when Mary Baker Eddy (the founder of the Monitor) and other 19th- and early 20th-century thinkers first proposed it. Horowitz has done his homework; his “spiritual history” of the many facets of what many call “positive thinking” makes a fascinating read.

Pocket history

Documentarian Ken Burns has made a long career of retracing America’s footsteps. His new iPad-exclusive app, simply titled Ken Burns, collects close to four hours of clips from his many works, including “Jazz,” “The Civil War,” and “The Central Park Five.” People can comb through these videos, including new introductions from the filmmaker, or queue up thematic playlists. One theme, Innovation, comes free of charge. Unlocking the full experience costs $9.99.

Space travel

Dazzling space visuals arrive in your living room with the DVD and Blu-ray release of Gravity, starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as two astronauts in peril. The movie, directed by Alfonso Cuarón, is a front-runner for the Best Picture Oscar, and its entrancingly eerie opening scene alone will make you feel the immensity of space. It’s available on Feb. 25.

Online distraction

Do you find yourself procrastinating by trolling through funny videos and breathtaking nature photos reposted by your friends on Facebook? Consider Marvelous for your next online distraction. It’s a digital magazine that “explores natural and human wonders” ranging from close-up photos of animal eyes (truly freaky) to “melting china” sculptures to a video of a toddler discovering rain for the first time. Check it out at www.thisismarvelous.com/.

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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.