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Six picks: recommendations from the Monitor staff

National Geographic's TV extravaganza 'Earth: The Biography,' a reggae songster's lyrical rhythms, a color-filled trip around the world, and more.

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planet earth from birth

Join National Geographic Channel earth scientist Iain Stewart as he profiles the planet using glorious high-definition technology in Earth: The Biography, a six-hour, three-part extravaganza airing consecutive nights beginning Sunday, July 13 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. Hold your breath as he drops a hundred feet into the caldera of a live African volcano, hurtles 50,000 feet above Earth's surface, and scuba dives through the subterranean channels of giant Mexican caverns.

REGGAE'S SONGSTER SUPREME

Some don't love reggae – or make an exception only for Bob Marley – because reggae can seem so rhythmically and lyrically formulaic. So this reissue of Life of Contradiction (Pressure Sounds), an obscure Jamaican masterpiece by Joe Higgs, Bob Marley's singing coach, is an ideal primer to open reggae-resistant ears. With a well-weathered voice suggesting a Rastafarian Curtis Mayfield, Higgs performed original love songs and political anthems with a delicate blend of gospel-like fervor and jazzy lilt. This is a sophisticated showcase of reggae's rhythmic drive and lyrical bite.

Rent check

Not sure if you're paying over the odds or live in a real steal. Rentometer.com will tell you. Type in your address, number of bedrooms, and number of units in the building and a pie chart pops up with the spread of rents in your area.

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