Watch This Space: A Note From Trove

Dear Readers —

2011 has been a remarkable year for Trove and for the Trove Editors’ Blog. But with great invention often comes great reinvention, and in order to make this blog the best it can be, we’re doing a little tweaking.

In the next few weeks, the Trove Editors’ Blog will become the WaPo Labs Blog, focusing on news, digital innovation, and the products and musings of WaPo Labs — the Washington Post Company digital development team behind Trove and Washington Post Social Reader.

Our goal is to offer an inside look at WaPo Labs projects and give you a chance to communicate directly with members of our team, from editorial to engineering to design and more.

Keep an eye on this space to learn when the official kickoff happens. Until then, feel free to contact us with any questions, comments, or concerns. You can also connect with us on social media by using the links below.

» Trove on Twitter
» Trove on Facebook
» Trove on Google+

» Washington Post Social Reader app
» Washington Post Social Reader on Facebook
» Washington Post Social Reader on Twitter
» Washington Post Social Reader on Google+

Until then —
Your Trove Editors

Books: Judy Garland Dazzles

You may forever remember her as Dorothy, but Judy Garland was much more than a young girl from Kansas. As Broadway World succinctly sums up, “Through her incomparable work on screen, stage, record, radio, and television, Judy Garland earned renown as ‘The World’s Greatest Entertainer.’” In “Judy: A Legendary Film Career,” her status as an entertainment icon is lovingly secured.

If there’s an author that can serve Garland’s legacy justice, John Fricke is the man for the job. As the preeminent scholar of all things Oz, Fricke has been studying the performer for years, and been involved in everything from a two-hour Judy Garland PBS special to the International Wizard of Oz Club. He is the authority on Judy Garland, and he “masterfully" brings her life to light in "Judy."

The Miami Herald’s Steve Rothaus interviewed Fricke, who, he claims, considers his latest book to be the most candid he’s written: “‘It’s the first time I’ve been able to be as honest as I wanted to be,” said Fricke. “All the people [in her life] are dead now: [ex-husband] Sid Luft, [agents] Freddie Fields and David Begelman.’” “Judy” also contains about 550 photographs, about half of which came from Fricke’s personal collection.

"Judy: A Legendary Film Career" will be released August 23. (Tap shoes sold separately).

For more, explore Trove’s Judy Garland and Film channels.

Also out this week:

» You may have noticed that the editors of this blog posses an affection for animals. If you, too, get giggly and teary-eyed over cuddly creatures, Elizabeth Letts’ “The Eighty-Dollar Champion: Snowman, the Horse That Inspired a Nation" should be at the top of your reading list this week. Letts shares the story of Snowman, a scrawny horse saved in 1956 prior to being sent to the slaughterhouse. "It’s a feel-good story that is begging to be a movie" about love, persistence and conviction. Available August 23.

» If you’re fan of the FOX television show "Bones", you may be interested in “Flash and Bones,” written by Kathy Reichs, producer of the hit show. The novel is an epic adventure: “Just as 200,000 fans are pouring into town for Race Week, a body is found in a barrel of asphalt next to the Charlotte Motor Speedway.” What ensues next is a “turbocharged" thriller. Available August 23.

Movies This Weekend: ‘The Help’ Hits Hard

Set under the blazing Mississippi sun, “The Help” is attracting some heat of its own — based on buzz so far, it’s sure to to burn up box offices this weekend.

"The Help," a film adaptation of Kathryn Stockett’s 2009 novel of the same name, tells the story of two African-American maids (Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer) who work in white households, and the aspiring young journalist (Emma Stone) who dares to tell their story. Critics concur that the movie delivers a powerful emotional punch — but some wish the blow was a little less blunt.

The New York Daily News’ Elizabeth Weitzmen calls the film “impactful in parts, but noticeably lacking in Stockett’s instinctive nuance,” while David Denby of the New Yorker says that “The Help” is “in some ways, crude and obvious, but … parts of it are so moving and well acted that any objections to what’s second-rate seem to matter less as the movie goes on.”

Praise for the lead actresses is unanimous. Slate’s Dana Stevens calls leads Davis and Spencer “tremendous.” David Edelstein gushes that Davis “gives this too-soft movie a spine” with her “tough, beautifully judged performance.”

Does this movie’s simple story do justice to its complicated setting? See “The Help” this weekend to decide for yourself.

Also opening this weekend:

»”Final Destination 5”: The fifth installment of the teen horror series finds yet another group of teens doomed to bizarre, grizzly deaths. One critic calls Final Destination 5 “the best sequel in the bunch,” while others condemn the “anemic installment” to the franchise that’s purely “content with giving viewers more of the same.”

»”30 Minutes or Less”: From the makers of Zombieland comes another wacky action-comedy. This time, a pizza delivery boy (Jesse Eisenburg) must rob a bank after being kidnapped by two thugs. Claudia Plug says the movie “wallows in stupidity without making the bromance bonds believable,” but with a run time of only 83 minutes, critic Gary Thompson praises “30 Minutes or Less” as “fast, foul and frequently funny.”

Want more? Add Trove’s Film Reviews and Movie Box Office channels to keep up with this summer’s hottest flicks.

— Matthew Schantz

Image from the film’s official site.

Books: Grossman Returns Triumphantly with ‘The Magician King’

Two years ago, author Lev Grossman took adult readers on a roller-coaster of a fantasy ride in his critically acclaimed book, “The Magicians.” Fillory was an illuminated place of lust, desire, magic, and adventure — the setting for an R-rated “Harry Potter,” a more graphic “The Chronicles of Narnia,” and the beginning of an epic tale not unlike the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

On August 9, Grossman is bringing readers back.

The Magician King" once again stars Quentin Coldwater and his mischievous cohorts in a journey that involves a “magical sailing ship, a fortune-telling dragon, [and] even a talking sloth named Abigail.” Already on Amazon’s “Best Books of the Month" list, Grossman’s latest is being hailed as a “triumph of (and an homage to) modern fantasy writing.” Kirkus Reviews adds that “The Magician King” is “spiked with bitter adult wisdom” and is “not to be missed.” Readers can preview an excerpt here.

Let the next adventure begin.

"The Magician King" will be available August 9 from Viking Adult. For more, explore the Lev Grossman and Science Fiction channels on Trove.

Also out this week:

» “House of Holes: A Book of Raunch" is bound to incite "fistfights in the hallways of your local public library." A laugh-out-loud "sex-positive escapade,” author Nicholas Baker aims to “surprise, amuse, and arouse" in his latest work of comedic fiction. Available August 9.

» If the hardcover edition of Siddhartha Mukherjee’s “The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer" was too intimidating to pick up, the paperback version may be slightly more digestible. Winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction, Mukherjee’s sweeping history of cancer is a “magnificent, profoundly humane" story. Available in paperback August 9.

Image courtesy of Penguin Group.

Have you ever looked at your iPhone and thought, “If only I could hold a child’s severed hand while chatting with my friends, life would be complete”? 

No? Really? Well, you seem to be the exception. 

For those of you that have yearned for the soft touch of a toddler’s hand while you discuss the latest elimination on “American Idol,” yearn no more: the Dokkiri Hand Case has arrived.  

Trove’s iPhone Trends channel picked up the news that Strapya World, “the world’s leading cell phone accessory site,” is taking pre-orders for the cell case, which comes in two models: Lady’s Hand and Kid’s Hand.  

We really don’t know what to say about this unique product. Even the site description admits, “This case is crazy. This case is creepy.”

Yes. And it can be yours for a mere $64.20.

Have you ever looked at your iPhone and thought, “If only I could hold a child’s severed hand while chatting with my friends, life would be complete”?

No? Really? Well, you seem to be the exception.

For those of you that have yearned for the soft touch of a toddler’s hand while you discuss the latest elimination on “American Idol,” yearn no more: the Dokkiri Hand Case has arrived.

Trove’s iPhone Trends channel picked up the news that Strapya World, “the world’s leading cell phone accessory site,” is taking pre-orders for the cell case, which comes in two models: Lady’s Hand and Kid’s Hand.

We really don’t know what to say about this unique product. Even the site description admits, “This case is crazy. This case is creepy.”

Yes. And it can be yours for a mere $64.20.

Hugh Hefner gets in on the planking action at the Playboy Mansion — via Trove’s Planking channel (yes, we have one). 

He is just planking… right?

Hugh Hefner gets in on the planking action at the Playboy Mansion — via Trove’s Planking channel (yes, we have one).

He is just planking… right?

The winning entry of National Geographic Traveler’s 2011 Photo Contest, “Star Gazing at Crater Lake,” by Ben Canales.

All of the winning entries can be viewed on the site’s gallery page.

» For more on the latest news in the world of photography, check out Trove’s Photography channel.

The winning entry of National Geographic Traveler’s 2011 Photo Contest, “Star Gazing at Crater Lake,” by Ben Canales.

All of the winning entries can be viewed on the site’s gallery page.

» For more on the latest news in the world of photography, check out Trove’s Photography channel.

Maybe He Was Denied Conjugal Visits?

Trove’s Zoo channel alerted us that Central Park Zoo has had a jailbreak:

A peacock is on the lam.

The male bird escaped around 9 a.m. and perched on a fifth-floor window at a building near East 65th Street and Fifth Avenue for about four hours, drawing a crowd of curious onlookers. Zoo workers are unsure how he made his escape.

If we’ve learned anything from the peacock’s predecessor, it’s time to hide yo’ kids and hide yo’ wife, because the peacock’s going to begin tweeting up in here any minute.

Kitler Lives Happily Ever After

Breaking News!

No, not that.

Kitler has found a home!

The unfortunate plight of the six-week-old kitten with an uncanny resemblance to the Führer has a happy ending. After a Daily Mail article brought attention to the abandoned kitten, staff at the Wood Green Animal Shelter were inundated with hundreds of phone calls and emails from people around the world offering to adopt Kitler, and a home was quickly found.

Thus ends the saga of Kitler — or, as she now prefers to be called, Luminus.

Shark Week Begins!

In the past couple of days, we’ve been discovering a bunch of stories related to sharks through Trove’s Shark Week channel. In addition to tweeting about them, we thought it might be fun to include a round-up of the best of what we’ve found so far — and it’s only Tuesday!

» This guy gets to put “Shark Traffic Cop" on his resume. Best job ever?

» Entertainment Weekly’s collects The Best Pop-Culture Sharks, from Jaws to SNL’s Land Shark (and an honorable mention to the sharks from “West Side Story”).

» College Humor’s surprisingly persuasive argument as to why Bear Week should replace Shark Week (excerpt: “#2: Bears Live On Land — That’s Where We Live” and “#5: Even Bears Are Afraid of Bears”).

» And, in news about a different breed of shark, Sharks Sign Brent Burns To Five-Year, $28.8M Extension.

There are still four days left to get your fill of Shark Week — and you can follow the latest Shark news with Trove year-round.

Photo by Getty