Getting a little edgy because the holidays are lurking around the corner? Kick back and listen to some old Neil Young, or read a new scary story by James Patterson, or watch a classic "Columbo" mystery.
Listen, as a good old singer named Cat Stevens once told us, "Oo, oo, baby, it's a wild world." So what if his name is Yusuf now? It's still a wild world, baby, and there's a whole lot out there to rev you up or calm you down.
Let's hop on the highway and take a spin, shall we?
From the sublime (Bond) to the ridiculous (Black), you could spend a lot of time and money at the multiplex this week and never run into the same sort of thing.
Let's start with "Casino Royale," which is bringing us Daniel Craig in his debut as James Bond. He also has light-colored hair and trust us on this one: few casting decisions have ever made the hearts of headline writers more glad: BLOND BOND! It remains to be seen if this particular blond has more fun or generates bigger box office than his predecessors. But as a bonus, we're getting Judi Dench as M. So probably it won't be the worst Bond, even if it doesn't turn out to be the best.
Jack Black romps onto the screen again in "Tenacious D In: The Pick of Destiny." If you are a devotee of Black, then you already know that Tenacious D is the name of his band, and so it doesn't take a huge leap of logic to conclude that this movie is a pet project of his. Black's partner in crime is Kyle Gass. Let's hope that's what the movie is. A gas.
Ah, penguins. Plenty of penguins. In movies, they have marched, they have fed their young, they have glided along plains of ice. In "Happy Feet," they are animated and they sing. Well, except for poor little Mumbles, who cannot carry a tune. But Mumbles can dance! Oh, heck, why even try to resist a film that offers the voices of Robin Williams, Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, Elijah Wood and Brittany Murphy?
Photographer-writer Lauren Greenfield was granted access to an eating disorder facility for a magazine piece and a book. But she wanted to do more, and returned to make a documentary, "Thin," which airs on HBO at 9 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 14. Living at Florida's Renfrew Center for six months, Greenfield and her crew observed the meetings, therapy sessions and meals that make up daily life for those undergoing treatment. Through interviews, still photographs and behind-the-scenes footage, "Thin" tells the stories of four women between the ages of 15 and 30 whose pasts may be different but who became united by a common illness. "Thin" exposes these women's struggles with eating and weight as well as the deeper issues afflicting women by the hundreds of thousands who are, literally, dying to be thin.
On its May 5, 2005, front page, the local newspaper in Spokane, Wash., outed the popular, socially conservative Republican mayor, Jim West, as a man living two lives: In public, he had once sponsored legislation that forbade gays from teaching in public schools, while, in private, the paper alleged, he was trawling for young men online. But when the news broke, eyebrows were also raised by the paper's investigative methods: For months, a middle-aged "forensic computer specialist" had posed as an 18-year-old boy online, engaging the mayor in a relationship that became more and more intimate. "We wanted to know, 'Do we have a mayor trolling on the Internet for underage boys?'" explains Spokesman-Review reporter Bill Morlin in the "Frontline" documentary, "A Hidden Life," which explores the relationship in one particular town between politics, sexuality, fear and judgment. It airs on PBS Tuesday, Nov. 14, at 9 p.m. (check local listings).
For many baby boomers, Cat Stevens was the voice of the '70s. Thousands of dorms echoed with the sound of "Moon Shadow," "Peace Train" and "Ruby Love." And when he converted to Islam and stopped producing those sounds, it marked a significant period of mourning of a heck of a lot of people.
Well, with "An Other Cup" (perhaps a sly reference to "Tea For The Tillerman"?) the artist returns with a new identity, Yusuf. On his return to music, Yusuf says "I feel right about making music and singing about life in this fragile world again. It is important for me to help bridge the cultural gaps others are sometimes frightened to cross."
Whether it is a bridge that his old faithfuls care to investigate is as personal a decision as their choice to take him to heart way back when he went by the name of Cat.
Speaking of the old days, how about "Live at the Fillmore East" with Neil Young and Crazy Horse? True guitar aficionados are more than familiar with the name of Danny Whitten, who died way too young of a drug overdose. Put it this way: Here's a chance to hear a guitarist for whom even Eddie Van Halen might take a back seat.