March 23, 2016

book revUltimately we read in order to ­strengthen the self. — Harold Bloom

Like it or not, there will always be a market for self-help books. While readers whose lives have been enhanced by poetry and literature tend to patronize that seemingly inexhaustible genre, anything worth reading could be studied and enjoyed under the same heading. Taking the idea to the most enlightened extreme, it’s fair to say that that a wealth of “self-help” books will be on the tables at Princeton Day School between Friday, March 25 and Tuesday, March 29 at the Bryn Mawr-Wellesley Book Sale.

In an interview on bookbrowse.com about his book How to Read and Why (Scribner Touchstone 2001), Harold Bloom mentions being deluged with mail from people saying how pleased they are that he’s “writing about literature for the common reader.” As a result, he became aware of a need that he felt “highly qualified and highly driven to meet” for “a self-help book, indeed, an inspiration book, which would not only encourage solitary readers of all kinds all over the world to go on reading for themselves, but also support them in their voyages of self-discovery through reading.”

When asked how reading great literature can provide an alternative to the sort of self-help books that top the best-seller lists, Bloom singles out the stories of Chekhov because they have “the uncanny faculty, rather like Shakespeare in that regard, to persuade the reader that certain truths about himself or herself, which are totally authentic, totally real are being demonstrated for the very first time.” It’s not that either author “created those truths,” but that “without the assistance of Shakespeare and Chekhov, we might never be able to see what is really there.” more

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U.S. Senator Cory Booker will be at Labyrinth Books in conversation with Princeton University Professor of Religion and African American Studies Eddie Glaude on Monday, March 28 at 6 p.m. The program will be introduced by Alan Krueger, who served as chairman of President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers and as a member of his Cabinet from November 2011 to August 2013. more

Book_Homes

Novelist, story writer, and essayist A.M. Homes, a lecturer in creative writing in Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts, has received Guild Hall’s 31st Academy of the Arts Lifetime Achievement Award for Literary Arts. The awards ceremony was held at The Rainbow Room in New York City on March 8; the award was presented by singer, songwriter, and author Rosanne Cash. (Photo by Marion Ettinger)

Art Bird

“TWIST AND SHOUT”: This watercolor of a black and white warbler by Beatrice Bork exemplifies her award-winning bird art. Bork and fellow nature artist Michael Schweigart will be displaying their work at Artists’ Gallery in Lambertville as part of the “Wild in Detail” exhibit from April 7 through May 1.

Beatrice Bork and Michael Schweigart celebrate nature in their joint exhibit at Artists’ Gallery in Lambertville entitled “Wild in Detail.” Their artwork will be on display from April 7 to May 1 with an opening reception Saturday, April 9 from 5 to 8:30 p.m. more

Art Tawa

This painting by Bill Hogan is part of “The TAWA Invitational Art Exhibition” that will be held at RWJ Hamilton’s Lakefront Gallery from April 6 through June 24. The exhibition features the work of local artists like Hogan, a resident of Bucks County, Pa., who is known for his large canvases that explore color, shape, lines, and textures.

March 16, 2016

movie rev 3-16-16

(Photo by Philippe Antonello – © 2104 Focus Features, LLC)

2015 was a banner year for Christian-oriented movies, as over 30 faith-based films were released in theaters. 2016 appears to be following suit, with Risen, The Lady in the Van, and The Witch among the movies with religious overtones.

Directed by Cyrus Nowrasteh (The Stoning of Soraya M.), The Young Messiah is a Biblical story about critical events that transpired during a momentous year in the life of the Christ child (Adam Greaves-Neal). The intriguing historical drama was adapted from Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, a bestseller by Anne Rice. The foray into Christian-themed literature is a big change for Rice who earned Beliefnet’s 2005 Book of the Year for her work based on the Gospels.

The New Testament provides very little information about Jesus’s formative years, and this film convincingly fleshes them out. As the movie unfolds, we find Him living in Alexandria and behaving like your typical 7-year-old while His parents, Mary (Sara Lazzaro) and Joseph (Vincent Walsh), struggle with how to go about explaining the concept of God to His own Son.

We also learn that they have been living in exile because of King Herod’s (Jonathan Bailey) order to his army to execute all the young boys born in Bethlehem. The despot was determined to prevent the rumored Messiah from seizing the throne. Herod’s death allows the family to return home, although the obsessed centurion Severus (Sean Bean) is still searching for Jesus and sees Him lurking behind every rock.

Meanwhile, Jesus goes about healing His sick uncle, curing a blind rabbi, and bringing both a bully and a bird back from the dead. And He also performs many random acts of kindness.

However, He desperately searches for an explanation of these powers until Mary finally tells him about the Immaculate Conception, the Virgin Birth, and His divine destiny.

Excellent (****). Rated PG-13 for violence and mature themes. Running time: 111 minutes. Distributor: Focus Features.

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Get those baskets ready!

Make Easter fun for the whole family with these personalized Easter gifts. Simply click on each item to purchase. more

book revHere’s a trivia question from left field: what do Allen Ginsberg, Philip Roth, C.K. Williams, Stephen Crane, Paul Simon, Sarah Vaughan, Chris Christie, Jerry Lewis, and Percy Shelley’s grandfather have in common? 

Answer: they were all born in Newark.

So was Leslie Fiedler, author of the landmark study Love and Death in the American Novel. In his essay, “Whatever Happened to Jerry Lewis?” from Murray Pomerance’s anthology Enfant Terrible! Jerry Lewis in American Film (NYU Press), Fielder recalls once working in a shoe store side by side with “a crew of losers,” one of whom was Danny Levitch, who happened to be Jerry (Levitch) Lewis’s father. Fiedler recalls that although Levitch was constantly boasting about his “rosy prospects in the theater,” he always seemed to end up working as an extra salesman. Fiedler thinks that the father’s habitual failure “must have haunted Jerry and fueled in him a relentless desire to succeed.”

In 1945, Jerry Lewis, who turns 90 today, was 19, living in Newark with “a very pregnant wife” and earning $135 on “a good week” in various Manhattan night clubs; his act was to make funny faces while lip-synching along with photograph records.  more

978-0-8223-6035-3_prEben Kirksey, Joao Biehl, and Bill Gleason will be discussing Mr. Kirksey’s book Emergent Ecologies(Duke $25.95) at Labyrinth Books on Wednesday, March 23 at 6 p.m. Emergent Ecologies uses artwork and contemporary philosophy to illustrate opportunities and reframe problems in conservation biology such as invasive species, extinction, environmental management, and reforestation. Following the flight of capital and nomadic forms of life — through fragmented landscapes of Panama, Costa Rica, and the United States — Mr. Kirksey explores how chance encounters, historical accidents, and parasitic invasions have shaped present and future multispecies communities. New generations of thinkers and tinkerers are learning how to care for emergent ecological assemblages — involving frogs, fungal pathogens, ants, monkeys, people, and plants — by seeding them, nurturing them, protecting them, and ultimately letting go.

According to Sarah Franklin, author of Biological Relatives: IVF, Stem Cells, and the Future of Kinship, “Emergent Ecologies is a great read. It is movingly written, methodologically innovative, and provides an intellectually rich account of an important and timely subject that will inspire, entertain, and challenge.” more

Art_Wilson

WOODROW WILSON EXHIBIT: On April 4 Princeton University will open an exhibit that examines the contested legacy of Woodrow Wilson. The exhibit will be held in the Bernstein Gallery, Robertson Hall. In conjunction with the exhibit, there will be a panel discussion on April 8 discussing Wilson’s life and career held in Dodds Auditorium, Robertson Hall.

The contested legacy of Woodrow Wilson forms the focus of a new exhibition and panel discussion at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.  more

On March 28 at 6:30 p.m., more than 200 singers will gather on the Mayo Concert Hall stage at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) campus in Ewing. TCNJ students will perform alongside five high school choirs from Japan who all come from the region affected by the 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and Fukushima nuclear disaster. The performance is part of Project Hand-in-hand, which aims to support the recovery of the Japan disaster by using music to support cultural exchange and communication. This will be the fourth time in five years that TCNJ has partnered with Project Hand-in-Hand.  more

Screen Shot 2016-03-16 at 8.12.16 AMPrinceton Symphony Orchestra (PSO) Executive Director Marc Uys returns to his musician roots when he performs live at the PSO’s Spring Chamber Concert Sunday, March 20 at 4:30 p.m. at the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS). Uys, harpist Bridget Kibbey, and soprano Mary Mackenzie will perform works by composer and former Princeton University professor Edward T. Cone, IAS’s Artist-in-Residence Sebastian Currier, Camille Saint-Saëns, and Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco.

Written nearly 50 years apart, Cone’s Duo for Violin and Harp and Currier’s Night Time are significant contributions to the repertoire, reflecting the influence of Béla Bartók’s compositional symmetry and rhythmic manipulation upon their individual styles. Also on the program is Saint-Saëns’ Violons dans le soir, based on the eponymous poem by Anna Elizabeth Mathieu.

Prior to joining the PSO, Uys was concertmaster of New York City-based Arcos Orchestra and assistant concertmaster of the Sarasota Opera Orchestra. He collaborated with harpist Jacqueline Kerrod in the duo Clockwise, touring South Africa performing premieres of newly commissioned works by 10 South African composers. In 2007 he led performances of Philip Miller’s RewindA Cantata for Voice, Tape and Testimony, including its world premiere in Cape Town and U.S. premiere in New York.  more

Art_Indo

This artwork by Nadini Chirimar entitled “City Journal” is apart of the Indo-American Arts Council’s seventh annual “Erasing Borders 2010: Exhibition of Contemporary Indian Art of the Diaspora.” The piece is a 44×66 inch mix of drawing, woodblock printing, gold leaf, collage, and embroidery on Japanese Kozo paper.

Theater rev

MURDER LURKS: Mollie (Jessica Bedford) finds herself in the midst of a deadly intrigue, in an isolated old manor house, cut off from the rest of the world, surrounded by an odd assortment of complete strangers, one of whom is a murderer, in McCarter Theatre’s production of Agatha Christie’s “The Mousetrap,” the longest running play in the history of English theater. (Photo by T. Charles Erickson)

Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap opened in London in 1952, and 64 years later, after more than 25,000 performances, it is still playing, by far the longest running show in theater history. Though McCarter’s current rendition of the classic murder mystery will run only two more weeks, until March 27, the high-energy, captivating Matthews Theatre production displays vividly the lasting appeal of this show. Whether you’re a whodunit aficionado or not, this show with its eight finely drawn, deftly presented characters and its rich visual appeal is highly entertaining from start to finish. more

This season, the Princeton Symphony Orchestra and its Music Director, Rossen Milanov, have dedicated programming to the creativity of women, and this past Sunday afternoon’s performance at Richardson Auditorium featured one of the more creative artists on the music scene today. Composer Caroline Shaw, who doubled as violinist soloist in her own Lo for Violin and Orchestra, crossed many genres of music as both composer and performer. These multiple genres of music thoroughly permeated her three-movement work, which was effectively played by the Princeton Symphony. With movements delineated by tempo markings rather than titles, Lo seemed to be semi-autobiographical, showing bits and pieces of many composers whom Ms. Shaw has credited with influencing her own creativity.  more

Theater_PPL

The first African-American expedition to climb Denali, North America’s highest peak, is the subject of An American Ascent. The film is being screened Saturday, April 2, as part of the Princeton Environmental Film Festival at Princeton Public Library. Now in its tenth year, the festival features a line-up of more than 25 acclaimed films with filmmakers and other speakers presented over the course of 7 days. For a complete list of festival films, and updates on speakers, see princetonlibrary.org

March 10, 2016

HillierDrawing

Chef Max Hansen has announced plans for a 25,000-square-foot new catering venue in an old farmhouse on Carter Road in Hopewell. The $7 million project geared to weddings, corporate events, and catered affairs is scheduled to open by the summer of 2017. The project will create some 100 full-time jobs.

The location will also become the headquarters for Mr. Hansen’s entire operation. For the past 25 years, Max & Me Catering, Max Hansen Caterer, and Max Hansen Carversville Grocery in Bucks County have served the area. more

March 9, 2016

movie rev 3-9-16The conventional wisdom for shooting a sequel to a successful action movie is that “bigger is better.” In the case of this follow up to Olympus Has Fallen, that means bigger guns, more elaborate chase scenes, a higher body-count, and more pyrotechnics, including exploding cars careening off cliffs in flames.

Directed by Babak Najafi, London Has Fallen stars Gerard Butler in his role as Mike Banning, the Secret Service Agent who is in charge of protecting the president of the United States. Also reprising their roles are Radha Mitchell as his wife, Leah; Aaron Eckhart as President Asher; Morgan Freeman as Vice President Trumbull; Angela Basset as Secret Service Director Lynne Jacobs; Melissa Leo as Secretary of Defense Ruth McMillan; and Robert Forster as General Clegg.

At the point of departure, the Bannings are examining paint samples for their first baby’s nursery. Leah is due in a couple weeks, and the prospect of fatherhood has Mike seriously contemplating retirement. But before he can tender a letter of resignation, word arrives that the British Prime Minister has unexpectedly passed away.

Over his worried wife’s objections, Mike grudgingly agrees to join the detail that is accompanying the president to the funeral. Despite very heavy security in London, chaos ensues when radical Muslims — disguised as Bobbies and Beefeaters — open fire, assassinating several of the 28 leaders of the world leaders who are attending the funeral.

Mike instinctively springs into action to escort the president from Westminster Abbey back to Air Force One. Of course, this is easier said than done, since it’s almost impossible to tell the good guys from the bad, and terrorists armed with automatic weapons and RPGs are lying in wait at every turn.

With the help of cartoon physics and a bulletproof physique, Mike manages to prevail against the army of bloodthirsty jihadists who are working for the diabolical mastermind, Aamir Barkawi (Alon Aboutboul).

Very Good (***). Rated R for graphic violence and pervasive profanity. Running time: 100 minutes. Distributor: Gramercy Pictures.

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This St. Patrick’s Day, let the luck of the Irish influence your fashion and decor selections. Simply click on the images seen below to purchase. 

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Mark Doty

Mark Doty will be the featured speaker at the People & Stories/Gente y Cuentos annual benefit, “Notable Words: An Evening Honoring Keith Wheelock” on March 11. The evening of readings will begin at 7:30 p.m. at the Nassau Club, Princeton.

Proceeds from the event will go to the reading and discussion program, which is offered in English or Spanish for adults and young adults who have had limited opportunities to experience the “transformative power of great and enduring literature.” more

BOOK PIC51i+IIjLn0L._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_-1Patrick K. O’Donnell, a bestselling military historian and the foremost authority on America’s elite fighting units, will discuss his new book, Washington’s Immortals (Atlantic Monthly Press $28) on Monday, March 14, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at a benefit for The Princeton Battlefield Society at Princeton’s Metro North Grill, 378 Alexander Rd.

For $50 per person, guests will receive an autographed copy of Mr. O’Donnell’s newly released book, appetizers, and a complimentary ticket for wine/beer. The author will talk about his book and answer questions. The novel is seen through the eyes of the Maryland Regiments, whose actions at key battles from Brooklyn, Trenton to Princeton, and from Cowpens to Yorktown, “changed the course of American history.” Grounded in “an unprecedented access to unpublished primary sources and personal accounts,” Washington”s Immortals presents, “for the first time, a Band of Brothers-style account of the Revolutionary War.”

O’Donnell is a bestselling military historian and the critically acclaimed author of 10 books, including Beyond ValorDog Company, and First SEALs. He served as a combat historian in a Marine rifle platoon during the Battle of Fallujah. An expert on espionage, special operations, and counterinsurgency, he is a frequent contributor to several prominent national publications.  more

book revFrom a gang land point of view, it makes more sense to put a body in the Pine Barrens than in the Hudson River. — John McPhee

I’m beginning a column about Mickey Spillane (1918-2006) with a quote from John McPhee to note the fact that yesterday, March 8, the author of The Pine Barrens celebrated his 85th birthday. While it may be difficult to imagine two writers with less in common, I have no doubt that McPhee could sit down tomorrow, do a month of research, and produce an essay or even a book that would stand as the go-to work about pulp fiction, the mass market paperback revolution, the McCarthy Era, and the author of Kiss Me, Deadly, who once admitted he’s not sure which side of midnight 1918 he was born on (he went with March 9).

Reading McPhee, who grew up in Princeton, you are in the company of a renowned master of non-fiction prose. Reading Spillane, who grew up in Elizabeth and made his fortune writing about the world of buried bodies, you are partaking of an experience that has been compared to eating take-out fried chicken. He himself once used a beloved American snack to tease “those big-shot writers” who “could never dig the fact that there are more salted peanuts consumed than caviar.” Besides creating Mike Hammer, the last word in brutal, sex-crazed private eyes, Spillane sold the equivalent of 200 million packs of “salted peanuts” worldwide, and as of 1980, seven of the top 10 all-time fiction best-sellers in America were written by him.  more

Rider_Art

“THE SEASONS”: “June, or What I Thought I Knew,” the oil on linen featured above, is one of the works by Deborah Rosenthal included in the solo exhibit “The Seasons” at the Rider University Art Gallery from now through April 10.

The Rider University Art Gallery’s exhibition titled “The Seasons,” featuring the work of Deborah Rosenthal, is on view now through Sunday, April 10. An artist’s talk will be held in the gallery on Thursday, March 10 at 7 p.m. Admission for all events is free. more

 

PEAC_Art

FIRESTONE’S PHOTOGRAPHY AT PEAC: Pennington photographer Arthur Firestone will have his photos on display at PEAC Health & Fitness for the month of March as part of their monthly Art on Display program. His above photograph, “Greek Columns,” was shot near the Parthenon on the Athenian Acropolis in Greece.

As part of its Art on Display program, PEAC Health & Fitness will display original works of art from Pennington photographer Arthur Firestone for the month of March 2016. more