September 9, 2015

movie rev

LET’S GET OUT OF HERE BEFORE WE GET KILLED: The Dwyer family led by Jack (Owen Wilson, left) who is holding his daughter Lucy (Sterling Jerins) and his wife Annie (Lake Bell), who is carrying Beeze (Claire Geare) flee to the roof of their hotel as the beginning of their perilous flight to a safe sanctuary at the American embassy. (Photo by Roland Neveu- © 2015 The Weinstein Company. All Rights Reserved)

After the company he works for files for bankruptcy, Jack Dwyer (Owen Wilson) accepts a position overseas with Cardiff, a transnational water bottling corporation. Dwyer regrets that his new job will uproot his wife, Annie (Lake Bell), and their young daughters, Beeze (Claire Geare) and Lucy (Sterling Jerins). During the long flight to Southeast Asia, we find the girls fretting about whether they’ll like their new home and if their dad’s new company will go bankrupt.

Luckily, Beeze strikes up a conversation with a fellow passenger (Pierce Brosnan) about his assortment of curious face and body scars. Fortunately for them, the mysterious stranger, Mr. Hammond, happens to be quite familiar with the family’s destination point.

Upon landing at the airport, he helps them avoid the shady street hustlers lurking around the terminal. Instead, he directs them to an honest cabbie (Sahajak Boonthanakit) who takes them to what they expect to be comfortable accommodations.

However, shock sets in when the Dwyers’ check into the Imperial Lotus hotel where nothing in their suite seems to work: their cell phones, the land line, the TV, not even the lights. Still, those inconveniences pale in comparison to the threat to their very existence as a result of the coup d’etat in which the country’s prime minister (Vuthichard Photphurin) is assassinated.

In the wake of the murder, gangs of rebels start roaming around the country looking for Westerners whom they lynch on the spot. To the Dwyer family’s horror, the marauders are going door-to-door right inside their hotel.

As a stranger in a strange land with no links to the outside world, Jack realizes that he has to rely on his wits to save his family.

He decides to seek sanctuary at the American embassy, which is easier said than done because the streets are crawling with Yankee-hating insurgents. Nonetheless, with the gangs closing in, he leads Annie and the girls to the roof of their building to begin their perilous journey to the embassy.

Directed by John Erik Dowdle (As Above, So Below), No Escape is a high-octane action thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat because of the Dwyers’ close brushes with death at every turn. There are convincing performances from Owen Wilson, Lake Bell, Claire Geare, and Sterling Jerins as the terrified family, along with Pierce Brosnan.

Excellent (****). Rated R for profanity, graphic violence, and rape. Running time: 101 minutes. Distributor: The Weinstein Company.

L.N.Tolstoy_Prokudin-Gorsky“If I live.” These words translated from the Russian can be found at the end of nearly every dated entry in the 1895-1899 journals of Leo Tolstoy, who was born on this date, September 9, in 1828, and died at 82 on November 20, 1910. I wonder what Oliver Sacks, who died at 82 ten days ago, would make of Tolstoy’s daily acknowledgment of his mortality. Sacks’s maternal grandfather, who fled Russia at 16 to avoid being drafted into the Cossack army, might know. Perhaps it was nothing more than an abbreviated prayer. After “If I live” July 31, 1896, Tolstoy is quite literal, writing later the same day: “I am alive. It is evening now. It is past four. I am lying down and cannot fall asleep. My heart aches. I am tired out. I hear through the window — they play tennis and are laughing.”

Short, simple statements of fact. You can almost hear him breathing.

While the most familiar image of Tolstoy may be the photograph from 1908 of a white-bearded patriarch seated on a rattan chair, one leg crossed over the other, very much the ruler of his domain, I prefer the word-pictures by his neighbor in the Crimea, Maxim Gorky, who used to see him along the coast, “a smallish, angular figure in a gray, crumpled, ragged suit and crumpled hat … sitting with his head on his hands, the wind blowing the silvery hairs of his beard through his fingers.” This sounds more like the man who would write “If I live” and “I am alive” in his journal. But then, in the same paragraph, Tolstoy becomes “the old magician” in whose “musing motionlessness” Gorky feels “something fateful, magical, something which went down into the darkness beneath him and stretched up like a search-light into the blue emptiness above the earth.” more

Art 2

A LOVELY SHOT: Photographer Donna Lovely’s “Great Blue Heron” will be among the works on view at “A New Leaf,” a show by The River Queen Artisans Gallery located at 8 Church Street in Lambertville. The show features local artists like Jay and Joanne Eisenberg who will be hosting its opening reception Saturday, September 12 from 6 to 8 p.m. “A New Leaf” will run until November 15.

New Hope artists, Jay and Joanne Eisenberg will be hosting the opening reception for the show “A New Leaf” at The River Queen Artisans Gallery on Saturday, September 12 from 6 to 8 p.m. “A New Leaf” will run through November 15 and many of the artists will be available at the opening.  more


French Theater ArtistsPrinceton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts, Department of French and Italian, and L’Avant-Scène will present the fourth annual Seuls en Scène French Theater Festival, which will take place from September 24 through October 24 at venues across the University’s campus. All performances are free and open to the public. While performances will be in French, three productions will include English subtitles: Jaz, Le 20 novembre, and De mes propres mains.

Marking the launch of the fifteenth season of the student French theater workshop L’Avant-Scène, Seuls en Scène brings celebrated French actors and directors to the University and the local community. This year’s festival features an exciting line-up, including a play from the 2012 Avignon Theater Festival, a preview of a new production to premiere at the 2016 Avignon Festival, and works by some of the greatest contemporary playwrights in Europe and the Francophone world. Seuls en Scène has been organized by Florent Masse, Senior Lecturer in the Department of French and Italian and director of L’Avant-Scène. more

September 2, 2015

movie rev

IT DOESN’T GET MUCH BETTER THAN THIS: As they stretch out on the hood of their car, Mike (Jesse Eisenberg, left) and his girlfriend Phoebe (Kristen Stewart) enjoy an evening under the stars. The pair are content to get together and get high after work each day. However, their easy-going life is about to be turned upside down when assassins try to kill Mike. (Photo © 2015 – Lionsgate)

When you meet him, Mike Howell (Jesse Eisenberg) appears to be a prototypical slacker with not much of a future. The small town stoner is content to fritter away his life behind the counter of the local convenience store as long as he can go home every day and get high with his girlfriend Phoebe (Kristen Stewart).

It’s hard to figure out why she puts up with this loser who has no ambition and has a crippling fear of flying that prevents him from travelling very far from Lymon, West Virginia. After all, Phoebe is attractive and has a decent career as a bail bondsman. Nevertheless, she sticks with him, even after he has a panic attack in the airport and aborts their plans for a perfect Hawaiian getaway. Mike was as upset as Phoebe when he failed to board the plane, because he had purchased a diamond ring and was going to pop the question during their vacation.

Phoebe has no idea that her beau is a sleeper agent who has been trained to be a deadly assassin by a U.S. government spy agency. Mike is also unaware of it too, since a part of his brain was turned off when the program was put in mothballs.

However, the couple is in for the shock of their lives soon after Adrian Yates (Topher Grace) decides to have Mike put to death. The callous bureaucrat dispatches killers to Lymon to prevent the remote chance that the dormant asset might somehow be activated and go rogue.

Mike surprises himself when the hit men arrive to kill him. He unexpectedly displays an array of prodigious fighting and survival skills that have been implanted deep in his subconscious and almost effortlessly slays his attackers. Yates nevertheless remains determined to complete the mission, gradually upping the ante as Mike manages to vanquish each escalating wave of adversaries.

Thus unfolds American Ultra, an entertaining action comedy directed by Nima Nourizadeh (Project X). This novel adventure alternates effortlessly between lighthearted and graphic scenes.

The movie also generates a palpable chemistry between Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart, which ensures that we care about their fate when the plot thickens. Alternately sophisticated and silly, but ever unpredictable thanks to a few cleverly concealed twists, American Ultra is a delightful summer sleeper that is not to be missed.

Excellent (****). Rated R for graphic violence, pervasive profanity, ethnic slurs, drug use, and some sexuality. Running time: 96 minutes. Distributor: Lionsgate Films.

Dance 1

LEAPING INTO A NEW SEASON: American Repertory Ballet dancer Mattia Pallozzi is among those to be introduced to the public at the company’s first “On Pointe” event of the fall at Rider University on September 23. The series is designed to familiarize the community with the company, it’s dancers, and repertory. (Photo by Richard Termine)

When Douglas Martin took over as artistic director of the American Repertory Ballet five years ago, he knew he wanted to forge relationships inside and outside the studio. Having a continuing dialogue with the public was as important as training his dancers. So Mr. Martin, who was a principal dancer with the Joffrey Ballet and later with ARB before becoming its director, began to focus on a monthly series called “On Pointe.” more

Art Modigliani

“JEAN COCTEAU”: Modigliani’s well-known 1916 image of the French writer is among the works in the exhibit, “Cézanne and the Modern” at the Princeton University Art Museum from September 19 through January 3, 2016.

“Cézanne and the Modern,” a new exhibit at the Princeton Art Museum running from September 19 through January 3, 2016, includes works by Paul Cézanne — and a great deal more. Drawn from the Pearlman Collection, it will feature the artists PaulGauguin, Oskar Kokoschka, Wilhelm Lehmbruck, Jacques Lipchitz, Édouard Manet, Amedeo Modigliani, Camille Pissarro, Alfred Sisley, Chaïm Soutine, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Vincent van Gogh. more

DVD rev 1You guys have a way of making a way out of no way. You know the sun comes after every storm—President Obama to New Orleans

Ten years after Katrina, the president comes to New Orleans, looks the city in the eye and says,” You inspire me.” At the same time he’s shining a light on his administration’s high points, he’s making sure the audience in a community center in the lower 9th Ward knows there’s a grease stain on his pants from some fried chicken he ate at Willie May’s Scotch House on St. Ann Street in Tremé; he’s just glad it didn’t get on his tie; he’s got his mojo working; after all, he’s in “the gateway to America’s soul, where the jazz makes you cry, the funerals make you dance, and the bayous make you believe all kinds of things.”

It’s the human touch, mix the politics with some sloppy downhome reality you can rub between your fingers, and make your exit while Bruce Springsteen’s singing “Land of Hope and Dreams.”  more

August 28, 2015

HL TTThe 10th annual Princeton Children’s Book Festival takes place Saturday, September 19, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event will be held rain or shine on Hinds Plaza and in the library’s Community Room.

More than 100 of the most acclaimed authors and illustrators in children’s literature will participate in the festival, one of the largest of its kind on the East Coast. During the festival, young readers can interact with the people behind their favorite books who will talk about and sign copies of their works.

Author and illustrator Jarrett Krosoczka, who has written and/or illustrated many books for young readers including the highly acclaimed Lunch Lady graphic novel series and the Platypus Police Squad series, created the poster for this year’s festival and will attend the event. Krosoczka’s inspiration for the poster was found in “It’s Tough to Lose Your Balloon,” his latest picture book.

Also participating in this year’s festival will be 2015 Sibert Award-winner and 2015 Caldecott Honor-winner Jen Bryant (“The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus”), 2015 Caldecott Honor-winner Lauren Castillo (“Nana in the City”), 2014 Caldecott Medal-winner Brian Floca (“Locomotive”), 2010 Caldecott Medal-winner Jerry Pinkney (“Lion and the Mouse”), 2015 Pura Belpre Honor-winner for illustration John Parra (“Green is a Chili Pepper”), 2013 Pura Belpre Honor winner for illustration Angela Dominguez, Tad Hills (Rocket the Dog series, Duck and Goose series), Rosemary Wells (Max and Ruby series), Bruce Coville (“Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher”), Wendy Mass (Space Taxi series), Michael Buckley (Sister Grimm series, “Undertow”) and many others. more

August 26, 2015

movie rev

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. was a popular television series which enjoyed a four-year run on NBC from 1964 to 1968. Trading on the success of the James Bond film franchise, the show featured another dashing character created by Ian Fleming, author of the 007 novels.

This movie adaptation stars Henry Cavill in the title role as Napoleon Solo, a suave sophisticated spy employed by U.N.C.L.E. (United Network Command for Law and Enforcement), a top secret, international espionage agency. While the TV Solo was a college graduate and honorably-discharged Korean War veteran, the movie’s Napoleon Solo is a convicted art thief who reluctantly agrees to work for the CIA in return for a reduced prison sentence.

The picture is directed by Guy Ritchie who is known for action adventures like Snatch (2000) and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998). The movie co-stars Armie Hammer as Solo’s partner, KGB agent Ilya Kuryakin. However, where the original Ilya was a mild-mannered sleuth, in  the film he’s a hot head who loses his temper at the drop of a hat.

The movie unfolds in East Berlin in 1963, where we find Solo and Kuryakin initially squaring off as adversaries. The former has been dispatched behind the Iron Curtain to recruit Gaby Teller (Alicia Vikander), the daughter of a missing nuclear scientist who may have fallen into the clutches of a crime syndicate seeking to acquire the bomb. After Ilya, supposedly a KGB agent, helps Solo in the recruitment of Gaby, he is introduced to Napoleon as his new partner.

Soon, together with Gaby, they’re embroiled in a race against time to foil a plot hatched by Victoria Vinciguerra (Elizabeth Debicki), the brains behind an Italian terrorist organization that was suspected of kidnapping Gaby’s father. Unfortunately, the deliberately paced cat-and-mouse caper which ensues is too low-key to generate much edge-of-the-seat tension.

Good (**). Rated PG-13 for violence, suggestive material, and partial nudity. In English, German, Russian, and Italian with subtitles. Running time: 116 minutes. Distributor: Warner Brothers Pictures.

Art Rev

Lucy Graves McVicker is one of Princeton’s most well-loved artists. A founding member of the Princeton Artists’ Alliance, she is also a prime mover in the Garden State Watercolor Society (GSWS), which is having its 46th Annual Juried Show, “Nature’s Beauty,” at the D&R Greenway now through September 25. more

book rev

Ten years ago this week, August 29, Katrina savaged New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. Just under two thousand people died, with damages estimated at over a hundred billion dollars. Spike Lee in When The Levees Broke, David Simon in HBO’s Treme, and Dave Eggers in his book Zeitoun are among the artists who have done justice to the magnitude of the event and its troubled aftermath. You could say Walker Percy did justice to it before it happened. more

August 19, 2015

QUIET ON THE SET — READY, SET, ACTION: William F. Buckley (left) and Gore Vidal begin their series of legendary debates that were aired by ABC-TV during the national conventions of the Democrats and Republicans in 1968. The debates ushered in a new era of political broadcasting.

Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley, Jr. were among the most brilliant and articulate minds in America of their generation. The pair were also political polar opposites which made the idea of hiring them to appear in a series of televised debates a stroke of genius.

This was ABC-TV’s idea in 1968, at a time when the network’s news department shows lagged far behind CBS and NBC in the ratings. They planned to have the liberal Vidal and conservative Buckley square-off during ABC’s coverage of the Democratic and Republican national conventions that were taking place that summer in Chicago and Miami Beach, respectively.

Arranging the showdown proved to be easier said than done, since the men not only hated each other politically, but personally as well. Buckley saw himself as the defender of the status quo in the face of the 60s counter-cultural revolution that was demanding equal rights for blacks, gays, women, and other oppressed groups.

As expected, sparks flew during the spirited exchanges marked as much by Buckley’s arcane syntax as by firebrand Vidal’s iconoclastic comments. However, because neither participant wanted to lose, what began as sophisticated intellectual analysis degenerated into an exchange of insults.

When Vidal referred to Buckley as a “crypto-Nazi,” he lost his composure and called Vidal a “queer.” A defamation lawsuit and counter-suit ensued, and the litigation dragged on for years.

Co-directed by Robert Gordon and Morgan Neville, Best of Enemies is a fascinating documentary which revisits a seminal moment in the history of television. The Vidal-Buckley arguments over topics that ranged from religion to sexuality served to usher in a new era of discourse in the public media.

Besides archival footage of the debates, the conventions, and the anti-war demonstrations that were raging outside the conventions, the film features commentary by luminaries Frank Rich, John McWhorter, and the late Christopher Hitchens.

Excellent (****). Rated  R for sexuality, nudity, and profanity. Running time: 88 minutes. Distributor: Magnolia Pictures/Magnet Releasing.

Art Lead

Fans of the California-born London transplant Kaffe Fassett should mark their calendars now for a new show coming to the Michener Art Museum in Doylestown later this year.

“Blanket Statements: New Quilts by Kaffe Fassett and Historical Quilts from the collection of the Quilt Museum and Gallery, York, U.K.” will open November 14 and continue through February 21, 2016. more

record rev

A chapter near the end of Neil Young’s autobiography Waging Heavy Peace (Blue Rider 2012) begins with him behind the wheel of his car “rolling down a California two-lane highway” listening to a group called the Pistol Annies, with “visions of the future and past” brewing in his “coffee-soaked mind.” I can relate to a driving-listening-to-music chapter because that’s how I bonded with his new album, The Monsanto Years (Reprise), in which he teams up with Willie Nelson’s sons Lukas and Micah and Lukas’s group Promise of the Real to put the Fear of Neil into corporate giants, with special attention to the one targeted in the title. more

August 12, 2015

movie  revMarvel Comics first brought the Fantastic Four to the big screen a decade ago and followed it up with a sequel a few years later. Since neither generated much in the way of audience enthusiasm, 20th Century Fox has decided to relaunch the series instead of releasing a third installment.

The movie was directed by Josh Trank, who was chosen on the strength of his impressive debut with the science fiction thriller Chronicle. The movie stars Michael B. Jordan and Kate Mara as the siblings Johnny and Sue Storm, and Jamie Bell and Miles Teller as their childhood friends Ben Grimm and Reed Richards.

Fantastic Four opens by developing a humanizing back story about each member of the title quartet and describing the freak accident that gave them their superpowers. The movie then begins its march to the exciting finale that features a spectacular special effects battle. The point of departure is Oyster Bay, New York in 2007, which is where we find Reed informing his skeptical 5th grade teacher of his plans to teleport himself some day.

By the time he’s a senior in high school, Reed has built a prototype with the help of Ben. And even though his Cymatic Matter Shuttle is disqualified from the science fair, the gifted youth is recruited by Dr. Franklin Storm (Reg E. Cathey), who is the director of the Baxter Foundation, a research institute for science and technology prodigies.

There, he’s befriended by Johnny and Sue. Along with Ben, the foursome eventually attempt an unsanctioned trip to another dimension through the Quantum Gate that was discovered by Dr. Storm’s protege, Victor (Toby Kebbell). However, something goes horribly wrong, and they inadvertently rip a hole in the time/space continuum.

The calamity enables Reed (aka Mr. Fantastic) to stretch and contort his body, Johnny to fly and shoot fireballs, Sue to be invisible and create force fields, and badly disfigured Ben (aka The Thing) to exhibit invincibility and extraordinary strength. However, Victor has developed telekinetic abilities and morphed into the diabolical Dr. Doom, a villain more powerful than any one of the Fantastic Four individually, but not the four of them collectively.

That leaves them little choice but to join forces in defense of the planet. The showdown that takes forever to arrive is riveting, although it’s almost an afterthought, since it serves as a setup for the obligatory sequel.

Very Good (**½). Rated PG-13 for action, violence, and profanity.

In English and Spanish with subtitles. Running time: 106 minutes. Distributor: 20th Century Fox.

REFLECTIONS ON SURVIVAL: Barbara Warren’s thought provoking image will be part of an exhibition by members of the Princeton Photography Club at Gallery 14 in Hopewell from August 14 through September 6. Titled “We Are More Than Our Diseases,” the exhibition includes work that is a personal response to the emotional experiences of each photographer. There will be an opening reception at the Gallery on Friday, August 14, from 6 to 8 p.m. and a “Meet the Photographers,” on Sunday, August 16, from 1 to 3 p.m. The show can be viewed Saturdays and Sundays, from noon to 5 p.m. For more information, contact Sheila or Carl Geisler at (732) 422-3676 or visit: For more on Gallery 14, visit: Courtesy of the Artist).

REFLECTIONS ON SURVIVAL: Barbara Warren’s thought provoking image will be part of an exhibition by members of the Princeton Photography Club at Gallery 14 in Hopewell from August 14 through September 6. Titled “We Are More Than Our Diseases,” the exhibition includes work that is a personal response to the emotional experiences of each photographer. There will be an opening reception at the Gallery on Friday, August 14, from 6 to 8 p.m. and a “Meet the Photographers,” on Sunday, August 16, from 1 to 3 p.m. The show can be viewed Saturdays and Sundays, from noon to 5 p.m. For more information, contact Sheila or Carl Geisler at (732) 422-3676 or visit: (Image Courtesy of the Artist).

The Princeton Photography Club (PPC) presents an original photographic exhibit entitled “We Are More Than Our Diseases,” from August 14 through September 6. at Gallery 14, 14 Mercer Street in Hopewell.

There will be an opening reception at the Gallery on Friday, August 14, from 6 to 8 p.m. and a “Meet the Photographers,” on Sunday, August 16, from 1 to 3 p.m. This opportunity to meet and talk with the photographers is a way to understand more about each person’s individual path to healing. For all of the exhibitors, “We Are More Than Our Diseases,” is a very personal show as is evidenced by the images on display.  more

book rev

On the last day of his life, August 12, 1827, at 3 Fountain Court, off the Strand in London, William Blake, who was born in Soho in November 1757, stopped working and turned to Catherine, his wife of 45 years. “Stay, Kate!” he said, “keep just as you are — I’ll draw your portrait — for you’ve ever been an angel to me.” What followed that last drawing “has been told more than once in print,” and “can never be told without a sense of some strange and sweet meaning,” Swinburne writes, picturing “how, as Blake lay, with all the tides of his life setting towards the deep final sleep, he made and sang new fragments of verse,” which his wife heard as “songs of joy and triumph.” After telling her that they would never be parted, that he would be with her always, he died, says one witness, “in a most glorious manner.”

With the help of Peter Ackroyd’s definitive biography, Blake (Knopf 1995), it’s possible to visualize the scene that took place in the “plain, red-brick house of three stories” adjacent to the future site of opera impresario D’Oyly-Carte’s luxury hotel, the Savoy. The Blakes had moved into two rooms on the first floor in the spring of 1820.  more

DON’T LOOK BACK!: Orpheus (Brad Wilson) defies Hades’ warning not to look back, as his bride Eurydice (Caroline Hertz) follows him out of the Underworld, in Princeton Summer Theater’s production of Sarah Ruhl’s “Eurydice” (2003), playing at the Hamilton Murray Theater on the Princeton University campus through August 16.

DON’T LOOK BACK!: Orpheus (Brad Wilson) defies Hades’ warning not to look back, as his bride Eurydice (Caroline Hertz) follows him out of the Underworld, in Princeton Summer Theater’s production of Sarah Ruhl’s “Eurydice” (2003), playing at the Hamilton Murray Theater on the Princeton University campus through August 16.

In Eurydice (2003), currently playing at Princeton Summer Theater, Sarah Ruhl takes an original slant on this familiar myth of the brilliant musician Orpheus, his bride Eurydice, who dies on their wedding day, and his journey to the Underworld to try to bring her back to life. Ms. Ruhl’s version presents quirky, contemporary characters, relates the story from Eurydice’s perspective and brings the relationship between Eurydice and her father, who does not appear in the original myth, to center stage. more

August 5, 2015

Art ReviewA mini-exhibition on early American typewriters currently on display at the Trenton City Museum at Ellarslie in Cadwalader Park, Trenton, will run through November 8.

Located on the second floor of the museum, the exhibition was curated by Richard Willinger, Chair of the Museum Society’s Collections Management Committee, and a typewriter collector.

Because people stopped using typewriters many years ago when the personal computer came out, many young people have never used a typewriter. Older people remember typewriters as the standard four-bank machine with a typed sheet visible on the rubber platen in front of you. more

CLEAR AS A BELL: Music from Princeton University’s carillon can be heard as far away as the Institute for Advanced Study, according to the University Carilloneur Lisa Lonie, shown here with the instrument in Cleveland Tower of the Graduate College. The 23rd Annual Summer Carillon Series of concerts is currently underway and continues through the end of August.

CLEAR AS A BELL: Music from Princeton University’s carillon can be heard as far away as the Institute for Advanced Study, according to the University Carilloneur Lisa Lonie, shown here with the instrument in Cleveland Tower of the Graduate College. The 23rd Annual Summer Carillon Series of concerts is currently underway and continues through the end of August.

On summer Sundays at 1 p.m., there is a gathering of sorts on the lawn outside Princeton University’s Cleveland Tower. The Collegiate Gothic style building is home to the University’s carillon, on which a short concert is performed by carilloneurs who come from as far as Australia to take their turn on the massive instrument. more

rec rev

In the sleeve notes accompanying Beatles for Sale, Derek Taylor surmises that “the kids of AD 2000 will draw from the music much the same sense of well being and warmth as we do today,” for “the magic of the Beatles” has “cut through our differences of race, age, and class” and “is adored by the world.” Half a century later in AD 2015, “One of the strangest things about the Beatles phenomenon,” according to the group’s first biographer, Hunter Davies, “is that the further we get from them, the bigger they become.” more

July 29, 2015

Zodiac 2

After a four-year ban that prevented him from all international travel and kept him from visiting Princeton in 2012, Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei has had his passport returned to him.

Last week, Mr. Ai posted a photo of himself on Instagram holding the document, which had been confiscated by Chinese authorities following the artist’s outspoken remarks on number of national scandals, including collapse of badly-constructed schools during a 2008 earthquake.  more

book revI recognized it immediately as a state of affairs worth fighting for. — George Orwell, from Homage to Catalonia

A friend who went to Antioch College tells of arriving as a freshman to find himself confronted on a dormitory stairway by a stunningly lovely girl holding a pail of water, shouting, “Would you have fought in Spain?” Taking into account the water, the stairway, and the girl, he answered in the affirmative and was allowed to pass.

George Orwell, who fought in Spain and wrote about it in Homage to Catalonia (1938), found something more rewarding than the chance to fight fascism: “Up here in Aragon one was among tens of thousands of people…all living at the same level and mingling on terms of equality.  more


Princeton Summer Theater’s double bill of one-acts, The Actor’s Nightmare (1981) by Christopher Durang and The Real Inspector Hound (1968) by Tom Stoppard, is an insider’s delight with both plays set in a theater, both plays about plays, performances and actors (and, in the latter case, critics too). The highly skilled young performers of these brilliantly clever works at the Hamilton Murray Theater on the Princeton University campus through August 2, enjoy themselves immensely in their madcap endeavors, and the enjoyment inexorably spreads through the loudly laughing audience.  more