NPR provides recordings of Newport Folk and Jazz Festival performances, 'The Hunger Games' arrives on DVD and Blu-ray, and more top picks.
Eyes to the skies
New York's Central Park is a magnet for millions of birds that need a rest stop as they migrate along the Eastern Seaboard. Many of the astonishing variety of species that stop on the way up to Canada in April and May return to the park in October, where devoted throngs of bird-watchers await them. Birders: The Central Park Effect is an HBO documentary currently showing in their "on demand" lineup. It is a treat for the eyes and heart, full of affectionate, close encounters of the bird – and human – kind.
Multitask to the max
The brilliant iPhone, iPad, and Android application IntoNow recently got a major update. This "second-screen" app is designed to run while you watch TV. The free software listens to what you're watching, identifies the show, and pulls up information about that individual episode. It streams in actor profiles, related news stories, a list of the songs playing in the background, and social-media posts from other people watching the same show.
The film adaptation of Suzanne Collins's dystopian young adult novel, The Hunger Games, arrives on DVD and Blu-ray Aug. 18. Director Gary Ross keeps the pacing remarkably swift and got the casting spot on with lead Jennifer Lawrence, actor Woody Harrelson as the cantankerous mentor, and Stanley Tucci as the preening TV host.
Gamers with rhythm
Rhythm, art, and motion sync up beautifully in the video game Sound Shapes. This new release from Sony matches fun run-and-jump gameplay with music from Beck, Deadmau5, and Jim Guthrie. But the music plays a greater role than just setting the mood. Everything moves to the beat. So as the difficulty ramps up, the tempo helps players time their leaps, nail their landings, and escape each challenge in style. The online PlayStation store has bundled together both the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita versions for $15.
Couldn't make it out to Newport Folk or Jazz Festivals? Not to worry. Visit npr.org/newportfolk and npr.org/newportjazz and it's as if you were there! Sort of. Lots of performances recorded in high definition audio are posted for your belated enjoyment. You'll enjoy folk festival favorite Wilco, as well as newcomers Gary Clark Jr. and Alabama Shakes. Jazz is well represented by guitarist Bill Frisell and talented friends, and amazing family band Yuval, Anat, and Avishai Cohen. Good headphones and refreshments are recommended.
Timeline of the world's fastest
It was the quickest race in Olympic history. Jamaica's Usain Bolt shattered his own record in London, running 100 meters in 9.63 seconds. The New York Times posted a fascinating animated graphic comparing Bolt's performance with every 100-meter medalist – gold, silver, and bronze – reaching back to 1896. Modern runners put the past to shame. In fact, today's fastest 11-year-old is speedier than the gold medalist from that first modern Olympics. Impressive tween. Visit http://bit.ly/100meter for the video.