February 15, 2017

“Gimme Some Truth” was never one of my favorite John Lennon songs, certainly not compared to “Strawberry Fields Forever,” which the Beatles released on a single with “Penny Lane” 50 years ago this month. But in February 2017 when truth is being blitzed by the unhinged president and his toxic handlers while the Republican Congress looks the other way, it’s time to listen to a song from the Nixon era that nails “neurotic psychotic pigheaded politicians” and “uptight short-sighted narrow-minded hypocrites.”

Without knowing the numbers, my guess is that the same people who are making a surprise bestseller of George Orwell’s 1984 may soon be searching out this song, with its searing George Harrison guitar break and the passionate singing of a man who might have become a world-class rapper had he lived through the 1980s.

If you want truth with the dimensions of Keats’s “Truth is beauty beauty truth,” however, it can be found in Rectify, the Sundance show that helped my wife and me survive the post-election blues. Having seen all four seasons of Ray McKinnon’s courageous series in the span of a week, as if it were a single work of cinematic art, I’d nominate it for Best Picture and Best Actor of 2016 and throw in a Golden Globe and an Emmy. Given the crowded field, the best Rectify has done so far is a 2015 Peabody Award recognizing it as “a powerful, subtle dramatic series.” Besides some Critics Choice nominations and appearances on numerous Top Ten lists, Rectify is the only television drama to score a rating of 100 percent on Metacritic. more

INHERIT THE WIND: Rehearsing for Rider Theatre’s production of “Inherit the Wind” are Shelly Walsh in the role of Drummond and Dan Maldonado in the role of Matthew Harrison Brady in Rider University’s upcoming production of the play, that will be presented in the Yvonne Theater on the campus of Rider University in Lawrenceville. February 22-26. Learn more at www.rider.edu/arts.

Rider Theatre will present the Tony Award-winning play Inherit the Wind in the Yvonne Theater on the campus of Rider University in Lawrenceville. February 22 — 26. A preview performance will be Wednesday, February 22 at 7:30 p.m., and performances will be Thursday and Friday at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday at 2 p.m. The production, directed by Miriam Mills, will be performed by Rider University students. more

The Alma Choir, the premier touring choir at Alma College, in Alma, Michigan, will perform a concert on Monday, February 27 at 7:30 p.m. in Miller Chapel on Princeton Theological Seminary’s campus. It is free and open to the public. Conducted by Will Nichols, with Anthony J. Patterson, on piano, the concert will feature classic sacred songs, African American Spirituals, folk and love songs. In 2016 the choir won three prestigious awards at the Navan Choral Festival in Ireland.

The concert is presented in memory of David A. Weadon, the late director of music and organist at Princeton Seminary, and is underwritten in part by the David A. Weadon Memorial Trust.

For more information, call the Chapel Office at (609) 497-7890.

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With picturesque towns and medieval castles, the Baltic nation of Estonia is known to many as a stop on a Baltic sea cruise; much of the classical world is unaware of the rich Estonian choral tradition dating back to the 12th century. In and out of Russian control from the early 1700s, Estonia most recently came into its own politically in 1991 and since that time, the worldwide choral community has been eager to devour the unique music of Estonia’s composers. The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, with its own 35-year high-level performance history, brought this long-standing musical tradition to the Princeton University Chapel last week. more

A drug that could bring hope to millions of people living with Alzheimer’s disease is being tested in clinical trials by a Monmouth Junction-based pharmaceutical company at research sites in Mercer, Monmouth and Ocean counties.

Suven Inc. is seeking people ages 50 to 85 who have been diagnosed with moderate Alzheimer’s and who are taking two standard medications for the disease — donepezil and memantine/Namenda XR. The clinical testing is designed to examine the efficacy of SUVN-502 on mental abilities impaired by the disease. more

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich will appear at Rider University on March 23 at 7 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

“The Virtues of Free Markets: An Evening with Hon. Newt Gingrich” is presented by the Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics and is part of the University’s Hennessy Family Lecture on Capitalism series, which was inaugurated last year with an appearance by writer, scholar, and public intellectual Dinesh D’Souza. more

“BREAKING POINT”: Starting February 28, this piece by Kahlilah Sabree will be on display at the Prindiville Mohey Gallery at Artworks Trenton. “Explorations in Geometry,” an exhibition of prints by Bill Brookover will open the same day in the Artworks Community Gallery.

Artworks Trenton presents two exhibitions opening February 28, 2017. There will be an opening reception March 11, 6-8 p.m. for both exhibitions. more

“CONCRETE REEF”: This photo by Valerie Chaucer-Levine is part of the “Cell Phone Images Only” art exhibition on display in the Considine Gallery at Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart in Princeton from March 3– April 13. The public is invited to the Opening Reception on Sunday, March 5, 2-4 p.m. and the Gallery Talk on Tuesday, March 7, 1-2 p.m.

Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart announces the spring exhibition in the school’s Considine Gallery will feature works from the Princeton Photography Club. Over 25 photographers are represented in the innovative exhibition, “Cell Phone Images Only,” which runs March 3 — April 13, and is made up entirely of images taken on cell phones. The opening reception is Sunday, March 5 from 2-4 p.m. There will be a gallery talk with the artists on Tuesday, March 7 from 1-2 p.m. The gallery is open from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday, when school is in session.  more

FEELING FIT: “We have a state-of-the-art fitness center and want to offer the best for our members. We build a relationship with people. We listen to them and find out what they like and what they might want to change.” Ralph Basile, owner and general manager of Retro Fitness in the Kingston Mall, is shown next to the popular AbSolo strengthening machine.

Working out at Retro Fitness is not only beneficial for your health and well-being, it can be fun too, says new owner Ralph Basile. “We make a point of getting to know our members,” he says. “I‘m a people person. I enjoy being able to meet all the people and bond with them.” more

February 8, 2017

Ice experts from Ice Sculpture Philly created a winter wonderland on Palmer Square Saturday that included an Ice Throne, an Ice Graffiti Wall, and a Princeton tiger. (Photo by Charles R. Plohn)

A rally “Against the Muslim Ban and Bigotry,” co-sponsored by The Coalition for Peace Action (CFPA), took place on the steps of the Trenton City Hall Monday, as federal courts, which had temporarily banned the administration from enforcing two parts of Mr. Trump’s order, considered the federal government’s appeals against their ruling.

Meanwhile local institutions, groups, and individuals continue to express their concern and to take action to support vulnerable individuals. more

MAKING HIS MOVE: Princeton University wrestler Matt Kolodzik, right, battles a foe in a bout earlier this season. Last Saturday, freshman star Kolodzik, currently ranked fourth nationally at 141 pounds with a 20-2 record, posted two wins to help Princeton defeat Brown 32-6 and Harvard 33-3. The Tigers, now 7-6 overall and 3-0 Ivy League, wrestle at Columbia on February 10 and at perennial league champion Cornell on February 11. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Matt Kolodzik boasts the most glittering resume of any freshman to ever join the Princeton University wrestling program. more

A fire last Saturday that ripped through an AvalonBay Communities apartment complex in Maplewood, under construction and scheduled to open in March, destroyed many of its units. While this is the second major blaze in two years at a property owned by AvalonBay, which opened Avalon Princeton last fall, a company official said the Witherspoon Street development is more than up to code. more

Efforts continue by those who support keeping Westminster Choir College of Rider University in Princeton rather than relocating the school to Rider’s Lawrenceville campus. A town hall forum on the topic was held Tuesday evening at the Arts Council of Princeton, and pressure on financially strapped Rider is sure to continue as the administration works toward a decision on the fate of the Princeton music school. more

GOING GREEN ATJW: Green Team members show off their new plan for recycling and composting at John Witherspoon Middle School. The students presented the program to their teachers at a faculty meeting on Monday and will bring their peers on board in homerooms this Friday.

A group of seventh and eight graders, members of the John Witherspoon Middle School (JW) Green Team, are moving into high gear this week, first teaching their teachers about recycling and composting, then bringing their training to the whole school in homerooms on Friday. more

As she was growing up, Joy Barnes-Johnson planned her future life as a dancer. Then an injury during her junior year in high school turned into a loss for the world of dance but a great gain for the world of education and for hundreds of students at Princeton High School, where she has taught science since 2007.

“When I knew I couldn’t be a dancer, I fell in love with science,” she recalled. “And I remember my chemistry teacher said to me, ‘Joy, you’re not going to be a dancer, but you’re really smart and you’ll probably be a great teacher.’ I knew I had this ability to explain things to my peers.”  more

The Pennington School welcomed poet, essayist, National Book Award winner, and bestselling author Mark Doty as a guest speaker on Tuesday, January 31, as part of the School’s 2016-17 Stephen Crane Lecture Series.

Mr. Doty read a selection of his poems and discussed his writing process with students and faculty. He noted that he often uses the world around him as a catalyst for his creative process. After his presentation, he held a Master Class and working lunch in the Silva Gallery of Art with 40 students grades 8-12.   more

THREE CENTURIES OF BLACK SOLDIERS: That’s the title of a program at Trenton’s Old Barracks, taking place later this month. One of several area commemorations of Black History Month, the presentation is by re-enactors who represent African American soldiers who have fought in American wars, from the Revolution onward.

Al Ward and his colleagues from the Sixth Regiment United States Colored Troops Re-enactors Inc. often get the same comment from onlookers when they deliver presentations about African American involvement in American wars.

“People are surprised to hear of the many contributions blacks have made, in everything from the Revolutionary War to Vietnam and beyond,” said Mr. Ward, a retired research scientist at the New Jersey Department of Health. “But black soldiers have been participating in the American military experience from the beginning of our country through the present. It’s a story that needs to be told — and to all Americans, not just blacks.” more

Sometimes it feels even when no one is there that someone something is watching and listening …. —C.K. Williams (1936-2015), from “The Singing”

With Valentine’s Day approaching, here’s a bouquet of love notes from three writers who were all born on this date, February 8. According to the peerless prose stylist John Ruskin (1819-1900), he of the unconsummated marriage, “When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece.” Jules Verne (1828-1905), the author of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, sounded the amorous depths when he asked, “Is not a woman’s heart unfathomable?” While it’s a challenge to pick any one gem from the riches Robert Burton (1577-1640) compiled for his “Symptoms of Love” in The Anatomy of Melancholy, it’s hard to top this spectacular valentine: “better a Metropolitan City were sackt, a Royal Army overcome, an Invincible Armada sunk, and twenty thousand Kings should perish, than her little finger ache ….”

Another literary luminary born into the world of love and loss on this date, Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979) begins her poem “Three Valentines” by claiming, “Love, with his gilded bow and crystal arrows/Has slain us all.”  more

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Mercer will be holding its Business Networking Event on February 22 from 6-7:30 p.m. at the Spruce Street Community Center located on 1040 Spruce Street in Lawrence.

Scheduled are a guided tour of the new community center, live program demonstrations, information about child care and club programs for employees, details regarding volunteer opportunities, and a chance to connect with other area professionals. Light refreshments will be served. more

The Trenton City Museum at Ellarslie Mansion presents a talk with David Bosted entitled, “Eslanda and Paul Robeson: A Twentieth Century Love Affair” on Sunday, February 12 at 2 p.m. at Ellarslie Mansion at Cadwalader Park in Trenton. The 1937 movie “Big Fella,” starring Paul Robeson as a street-wise but honest dockworker, is set on the docks and streets of Marseilles. Elisabeth Welch plays opposite him as a café singer in love with Robeson’s character. Robeson’s wife, Eslanda Robeson, plays the role of the café owner. For more information, visit www.ellarslie.org

Join Friends of Princeton Nursery Lands for a walk through the fields of Mapleton Preserve in Kingston on Sunday, February 26 from 1 to 3 p.m. Walkers will look for signs of life in the winter landscape including plants, animals, and birds. Hot chocolate will be served after the walk. This event is free to attend, but pre-registration is requested by calling Karen Linder at (609) 683-0483. For directions to Mapleton Preserve, visit http://fpnl.org.

Princeton Summer Theater is pleased to welcome Luke Soucy and Megan Berry as the company’s new leadership team for the 2017 season.

Minneapolis native Luke Soucy will serve as PST’s Artistic Director, with Megan Berry of Cambridge, MA as Executive Director. Both are theater certificate students in Princeton University’s Class of 2019. more

A SATIRICAL FANTASIA: Princeton University freshman Tri Le (left) as Frank and senior Kathy Zhao (right) as Kathy in rehearsal for Charles Francis Chan Jr.’s Exotic Oriental Murder Mystery to be presented at Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts and directed by faculty member Peter Kim on February 10, 11, 16, 17 and 18 at 8 p.m. Performances will take place at the Marie and Edward Matthews ’53 Acting Studio located at 185 Nassau Street in Princeton. (Photo Credit: Justin Goldberg)

The Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Theater at Princeton University will present Charles Francis Chan, Jr.’s Exotic Oriental Murder Mystery by Lloyd Suh, directed by faculty member Peter Kim and featuring senior Kathy Zhao, on February 10, 11, 16, 17, and 18 at 8 p.m. Performances will take place in the Marie and Edward Matthews ’53 Acting Studio located at 185 Nassau Street in Princeton. The February 17 performance will be American Sign Language-interpreted. A symposium presented in collaboration with the student theater group East West Theater Company will precede the February 11 performance, beginning at 2 p.m. in the Matthews Acting Studio. more

Howell Living History Farm’s maple sugaring operations are in full swing in late February when freezing nights and thawing days make for heavy sap flows. Related work and rendering of maple syrup at the farm sometimes goes round-the-clock this time of the season. On Saturday, February 18 and 25, visitors can join the work and fun by helping farmers in the sugar bush, sugarhouse and farmhouse kitchen, where many hands are needed to ensure that syrup-drenched pancakes are on the table for tasting. Parking and admission are free. For more information, visit www.howellfarm.org.