Top Picks: Andrew Bird's 'Are You Serious,' the podcast 'The Memory Palace,' and more

Jennifer Lawrence is terrific at playing tough in 'Joy' on DVD and Blu-ray, the app Serial Reader could give you a nudge to start a classic, and more top picks.

Andrew Bird

Bird takes flight

Andrew Bird is a man of many talents, all of them highly developed. On his 13th album, Are You Serious, he unveils yet another trio of talents: husband, lover, and father. And Bird’s newfound domesticity pervades the music, informing the writing, adding poignancy to the singing, and raising the emotional stakes. From the passionate pop of “Capsized” to the heart-on-sleeve arena rock of “Valleys of the Young,” Bird soars.

The Memory Place

Engrossing historical tales

Looking for bite-sized but engrossing historical stories? The podcast The Memory Palace, which was created and is hosted by Nate DiMeo, tells listeners about lesser-known historical events, with a recent episode featuring the life of the famous MGM lion. Check it out at http://www.thememorypalace.us.

Handy TV reminders

In our current age of quality television, it can be difficult to keep track of the many shows you’re watching, let alone when they return with new episodes or the time at which they air. The free app Next Episode, which is available for iOS and Android, can help with that. Next Episode alerts you when a new episode is available, recommends shows based on the ones you’re watching now, and notifies you when one of your favorite programs is renewed (or – hopefully not – canceled). 

20th Century Fox

Jennifer Lawrence a ‘joy’ to watch

Actress Jennifer Lawrence and director David O. Russell team up again for the movie Joy, which is now available on DVD and Blu-ray and tells the based-on-real-life story of Joy Mangano, who invented the Miracle Mop. Lawrence is, as always, terrific at playing tough, and to a point, the frenetic interactions between Joy’s various family members, played by actors including Robert De Niro and Diane Ladd, have a nut-brain verve.  

Breaking down the classics

Too intimidated by “Anna Karenina”? The app Serial Reader may be for you. Motivated readers need not apply, but if you’ve been needing a nudge to start a classic, Serial Reader can help. It sends you a section of a classic book every day, breaking a novel like “Moby-Dick” or “A Tale of Two Cities” down into less intense portions. It’s available free of charge for iOS. 

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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.”

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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.

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