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Monitor Picks

five things we think you'll really like

Move aside, penguins

In movies like "The Black Stallion" and "Fly Away Home," director Carroll Ballard has resolutely ignored the Hollywood dictum "never work with children and animals." Ballard's new drama, "Duma," intelligently explores the tender relationship between a South African boy and an orphaned cheetah. This PG-rated beauty is in very limited release - catch it if you can. For details see http://dumamovie.warnerbros.com/

No Faulkner, but folk songs aplenty

The Oxford American's music issue - devoted, naturally, to Southern fare - comes with a compilation CD of blues, soul, country, and jazz that ranges from Lightnin' Hopkins to Nat King Cole. The magazine itself acts as a literate set of sleeve notes to each of the 29 tracks. www.oxfordamericanmag.com

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Blue skies

The worst part about budget travel is that you usually get what you pay for. Not with JetBlue. Direct flights. Leather seats. Thirty-six channels of satellite TV. You can even get a second beverage without dirty looks from the flight attendants. They don't fly everywhere, like Chicago or Dallas, but they're adding new cities all the time - a half-dozen new destinations from Newark, N.J., begin in October, for example. So don't be blue.

Freak show

Think that real estate agent you hired got you the best price on your house? Think again. In Freakonomics, self-styled "rogue" economist Steven D. Leavitt and coauthor Stephen J. Dubner take such assumptions out to the woodshed. The authors even use economics to explain why singles seldom date outside their race, and why parents select names like John or Jasmine for their children. Prepare to freak out. ($15.57 at amazon.com)

Good golly miss Mali

Dimanche à Bamako by Amadou & Mariam is an album for people who have always been too intimidated to venture into the World Music section of a record store. Assisted by French singer Manu Chao, the blind married couple from Mali have created a record as joyful and vibrant as its cover.