Courtesy of Paolo Nutini
Courtesy of Leonard Cohen

Top Picks: Paolo Nutini's new album 'Caustic Love,' the PBS Arts Fall Festival, and more

The crew of the documentary 'Penguins: Spy in the Huddle' gets close to penguins by disguising their cameras, Leonard Cohen's new album 'Popular Problems,' is simple and unadorned, and more top picks.

Leo the lion

Leonard Cohen, in his eighth decade, is still writing, still touring, still unraveling life’s mysteries. On Popular Problems, a collection of nine new songs, his voice is reduced to a gruff whisper, but that just makes you want to hang on every word. The music is simple, unadorned, and gently funky, with sweet-voiced backup singers delivering the melodies that Cohen can’t quite manage. Short on new classics, perhaps, but classic Cohen.

Smart phone photography

Most smart phones snap fantastic photos, but few can take really close-up shots. Easy Macro Cell Lens Band can help. It’s essentially a rubber band with a high-quality magnifying lens built in. Slide the band over your phone’s camera lens to zoom in four times closer than normal for crisp point-blank shots. It’s available for $15 at – a fun online photography store with loads of other smart phone gadgets.

Cue the ‘Penguin cam’

How does one film penguins without making them aware of an alien presence? Director John Downer and his team camouflaged cameras to look like rocks, eggs, and even other penguins in Antarctica, the Falkland Islands, and Peru. The series Penguins: Spy in the Huddle, narrated by David Tennant, formerly of “Doctor Who,” wraps up on PBS’s “Nature” Oct. 8 at 8 p.m. with the babies leaving the nest.

Arts cornucopia

The PBS Arts Fall Festival has begun. It kicked off with the musical theater classic “Sweeney Todd,” and will continue with more theatrical and musical performances through November, including a performance by singer Michael Feinstein at New York City’s Rainbow Room and a concert of Broadway classics performed by Kristin Chenoweth. Tune in Fridays at 9 p.m. for a cornucopia of the arts. 

Hot Scot

The third time is the charm for Scottish soul singer Paolo Nutini. His new album, Caustic Love, showcases a maturing artist who’s finally living up to his boundless potential after two uneven tries. An heir to the Amy Winehouse school of modern British soul, Nutini’s songs range from straight up James Brown funk to Marvin Gaye sexy. When his lyric-writing finally catches up with his other outsize talents – watch out!

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

QR Code to Top Picks: Paolo Nutini's new album 'Caustic Love,' the PBS Arts Fall Festival, and more
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today