November 7, 2018

“THREE OVER NINETY”: This painting by Ros Dayan is part of an exhibition opening November 8 at the Princeton Senior Resource Center. The show, also featuring works by Martha Kingslety and Naomi Reich, runs through November 30. A reception is Thursday, November 8 from 4 to 5:30 p.m.  more

DINNER IS SERVED: “I want people to come and experience classic/modern French cuisine; the French way of cooking.” Assi Li Ponte, chef/owner of Bonne Assiette in Pennington, is shown with a sampling of his culinary creations: Filet Mignon, served with potato dauphinois, sauteed asparagus, and béarnaise sauce; Salmon with orange glaze, baby carrots, Nicoise olives, heirloom tomatoes, saba wine reduction, and pistou oil; Diver Scallops, served on a faro and corn confit, topped with orange beurre blanc and micro greens; and Mustard Chicken served with new potato fondant, baby carrots, and haricot verts with brandy mustard sauce.

By Jean Stratton

Dining out at Bonne Assiette in Pennington is not only a pleasure for the palate, it is a splendid experience on many levels. The welcoming atmosphere, attractive decor with French motif, and attentive service all combine to create a lunch or dinner to remember.

As chef/owner Assi Li Ponte says, “I want the people who come here to have a really good time. A great gastronomic experience! This is the hospitality business. You have to be hospitable. And everyone who comes here is treated like a guest.” more

IN THE CLEAR: Princeton High girls’ soccer player Lauren Rougas clears the ball up the field in recent action. Junior defender Rougas starred as PHS advanced to the Central Jersey Group 4 sectional quarterfinals where the eighth-seeded Little Tigers lost 4-0 at top-seeded Hunterdon Central last Friday. PHS finished the fall with a 9-7-2 record.  (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Lauren Rougas and her fellow defenders on the Princeton High girls’ soccer team knew they faced a challenge when they played at high-powered Hunterdon Central in the Central Jersey Group 4 sectional quarterfinals last Friday.

“Our defensive game plan was to just play as a unit and pass the ball around and keep possession on the offense,” said Rougas.”We wanted to keep our defensive stance and play as hard as we could.” more

October 24, 2018

MAXING OUT: Princeton University men’s hockey player Max Veronneau heads up the ice in game last winter. Senior forward Veronneau, who scored 55 points on 17 goals and 38 assists last winter to help Princeton win the ECAC Hockey tournament, will be looking for a big final campaign this winter. No. 13 Princeton opens its 2018-19 campaign by playing at No. 10 Penn State (4-0-0) on October 26. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

While the Princeton University men’s hockey team achieved some dramatic victories over Top 20 teams on the way to winning the ECAC Hockey tournament last winter, it is a loss that is driving the squad coming into the 2018-19 campaign.

“We have always started each year looking back on our last game and we try to build from there,” said Princeton head coach Ron Fogarty, who guided the Tigers to a 19-13-4 record last winter. more

October 17, 2018

“MOUNT ADAMS, WASHINGTON, 1875”: This oil on canvas painting by Albert Bierstadt (1830–1902) is featured in “Nature’s Nation: American Art and Environment,” an exhibition encompassing three centuries of American art. It is at the Princeton University Art Museum through January 6, 2019. Admission is free.

The story of our changing relationship with the natural world is comprehensively told through this exhibition encompassing three centuries of American art. “Nature’s Nation: American Art and Environment” presents more than 120 paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings, photographs, videos,  and works of decorative art, from the colonial period to the present, exploring for the first time how American artists of different traditions and backgrounds have both reflected and shaped environmental understanding while contributing to the development of a modern ecological consciousness. more

Annie Zheng

Princeton High School Orchestra performs Friday, October 26 at 7:30 p.m. at the school’s Performing Arts Center, in a concert to benefit the fund for Unicef. Pianist Angie Zhang is guest soloist in Rachmaninoff’s 2nd Piano Concerto.  Also on the program is the premiere of PHS senior Easha Nandyala’s Waves. The finale of the concert will feature student musicians from throughout the community. more

On Saturday, October 27 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, October 28 at 4 p.m.,the Princeton Symphony Orchestra (PSO) welcomes pianist Inon Barnaton and conductor Marcelo Lehninger for collaboration on a two-day cycle of all five piano concertos completed by Ludwig van Beethoven.

Concertos 1, 2, and 4 make up the Saturday program while 3 and 5 (The Emperor) are reserved for Sunday. Both concerts are at Richardson Auditorium and include a free Pre-Concert Talk for ticket holders. more

October 10, 2018

“FOUNDATION@50”: The new exhibition at the New Jersey State Museum in Trenton celebrates 50 years of support by the New Jersey State Museum Foundation. The show features more than 60 objects, artifacts, and specimens that have been added to the museum’s collections over the past 50 years, runs through January 27, 2019.

The New Jersey State Museum has announced the opening of its new exhibition, “Foundation@50: Celebrating Five Decades of Support.” Since its founding in 1968, the New Jersey State Museum Foundation has provided vital support to the museum. The exhibition highlights more than 60 objects, artifacts, and specimens that have been added to the museum’s collections over the past 50 years through the support of the Foundation. It will be on view through January 27, 2019. more

Organist Stephen Buzard will lead a master class on Tuesday, October 16 at 2:30 p.m. and participate in the Sacred Music Lab at 6:30 p.m., in Bristol Chapel on the campus of Westminster Choir College of Rider University in Princeton. Sacred Music Lab is a worship service led by Westminster’s Sacred Music students and is open to the public. Admission is free. He will also present a recital in the Princeton University Chapel on Monday, October 15 at 8 p.m. more

By Kam Williams

Neil Armstrong made history on July 20, 1969 when he became the first person to walk on the moon. Subsequently, the NASA astronaut never sought to cash in on his celebrity status. Instead, he eschewed fame and fortune and withdrew from the limelight in favor of sharing his experiences in the classroom as a college professor. He even discouraged biographers until he finally agreed to cooperate with James R. Hansen on the book First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong.

Published in 2005, the book has been adapted to the screen by Oscar-winning scriptwriter Josh Singer (Spotlight). However, the movie covers 1961 through 1969 — Armstrong’s early years in the space program — and ending with Apollo 11’s historic lunar landing. more

October 3, 2018

Princeton Theological Seminary is hosting a film series this fall focused on movies that explore faith. The movie screenings are a part of a class, Faith and Film: Ministry in the Movies, which examines theological themes and pastoral issues portrayed in cinema that Christian leaders may face.

“By viewing these films, I want participants in the course to encounter a broad range of commonplace occurrences in modern ministry and to reflect, scripturally and theologically, on their responses to experiences they themselves are someday likely to encounter,” said Clifton Black, Otto A. Piper Professor of Biblical Theology at the Seminary.

Films scheduled are Babette’s Feast on October 5, Dead Man Walking on October 12, The Apostle on October 19, Doubt on November 2, Of Gods and Men on November 9, Calvary on November 16, and First Reformed on November 30. more

September 26, 2018

By Stuart Mitchner

“Dr. Ford has said that they were stumbling drunk at the time that this occurred …. That has to be part of any relevant questioning.”
—Senator Richard J. Durbin, quoted in the New York Times

With the dark side of high school drinking dominating the national conversation these days, what was meant to be a column marking the shared birthdays of T.S. Eliot (1888-1965) and George Gershwin (1898-1937) has taken an unexpected turn.

Romancing under the influence is practically a genre in itself in the Great American Songbook, from loving hyperbole (“You go to my head like a sip of sparkling burgundy brew”) to barfly camaraderie (“We’re drinking my friend to the end of a brief episode … so make it one for my baby and one more for the road”).

Jump ahead a few decades and it’s Ray Davies’s “Sunny Afternoon” where the rich slob’s girlfriend has run off with his car and “gone back to her ma and pa telling tales of drunkenness and cruelty.” In the mid-70s the Kinks were singing “Oh demon alcohol,” with Davies lugubriously lamenting how booze “messed up his life when he beat up his wife” while reciting the booze hound’s litany: “barley wine, pink gin, port, pernod or tequila, rum, scotch, vodka on the rocks.”  more

By Nancy Plum

Bobby McFerrin is a vocal visionary, stretching the capabilities of the human voice to new heights and palettes of sound. Through his recordings, live improvisational concerts, conducting engagements, and his innovative professional ensemble Voicestra, McFerrin has shown that he is so much more than his signature musical command “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” As part of Princeton University Concerts’ 2018-19 season, McFerrin brought his unique brand of musical performance to Richardson Auditorium last Friday night in a joint concert with the Princeton University Glee Cub and the vocal ensemble Gimme5. The informality of the evening was set when the members of the Glee Club took the stage dressed in everyday collegiate attire, however the quality of this concert was anything but casual.

The musicians performed less than 10 musical selections within the 90-minute concert, but each was a creative unfolding of sound and vocal color, undulating in dynamics and timbre as singers were added and subtracted from the musical palette. Princeton University Concerts wisely chose to begin its 125th anniversary season with singing, as more people participate in singing than any other performance medium, and the crowd-unifying elements of Bobby McFerrin will no doubt pique the interest of new attendees for later events. more

PRAISE THE LORD, I’VE BEEN SAVED: Louis Zamperini was persuaded by his wife to attend a revival meeting led by Billy Graham, where the preacher’s message transformed Louis’s life and alleviated his PTSD.

By Kam Williams

The movie Unbroken (2014) portrayed the ordeals undergone by the Olympian athlete and Air Force bombardier Louis Zamperini in a Japanese POW camp during World War II. Directed by Angelina Jolie, the biopic was adapted  by the Coen brothers from Laura Hillenbrand’s bestseller of the same name.

The sequel, Unbroken: Path to Redemption, is also based on Hillenbrand’s book, but unfortunately the creative team is not as outstanding as that of the earlier film. The cast has also been changed, with Samuel Hunt now starring as Louis.

Unbroken 2 picks up where the first film left off. The original closed with Louis kissing the ground upon landing back in the states after he was liberated from the POW camp, thereby implying that he lived “happily ever after.”

True, he did meet and marry Cynthia Applewhite (Merritt Patterson) and the happy couple moved to California to start a family. However, Louis becomes haunted by flashbacks to the torture he underwent during World War II at the hands of Corporal Mutsuhiro “The Bird” Watanabe (David Sakurai), a sadistic guard at Sugamo prison.

Unfortunately, Louis is suffering from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and he has become angry, abusive, and an alcoholic. In desperation his wife persuades him to attend a Billy Graham Christian revival meeting (in which Billy Graham is portrayed by his grandson, Reverend Will Graham).

The charismatic Baptist preacher’s plea to “just reach out and take the hand of Jesus, and every problem will be washed away,” resonates with Louis. When Louis falls to his knees, it is clear that he has been saved. The closing credits show scenes of Louis being featured at subsequent evangelical revival meetings.

Very Good (HH½). Rated PG-13 for mature themes and disturbing images. Running time: 98 minutes. Production Studio: Universal 1440 Entertainment/Matt Baer Films.Studio: Pure Flix Entertainment.

September 19, 2018

By Stuart Mitchner

It’s never very pleasant in the morning to open The New York Times

—W.H. Auden (1907-1973)

Auden was speaking in the fall of 1972, a year before he died in Vienna on September 28, 1973. One source of unpleasantness at that moment in history was Richard Nixon, who was into the before-the-fall fall of his second term. In mid-September 2018 opening the Times is like the first jarring swallow of a cup of gruesomely strong coffee you can’t stop drinking. Every morning you feel small stirrings of hope that the taste will mellow down to something closer to the Obama latte flavor you fondly like to think it used to have. Every morning it’s the same ordeal, with just a hint of the the addictive richness of false hope before the super-caffeinated reality hits you.  more

“THE AGE OF INNOCENCE”: Performances are underway for “The Age of Innocence.” Directed by Doug Hughes, the play runs through October 7 at McCarter’s Berlind Theatre. An Old Gentleman (Boyd Gaines, far left) looks on as Newland Archer (Andrew Veenstra, left) and Countess Ellen Olenska (Sierra Boggess) face the conflict between their love, and their responsibility to their families — and to society in 1870s New York. (Photo by T. Charles Erickson.) 

By Donald H. Sanborn III

An exquisite new stage adaptation of The Age of Innocence opened September 15 at McCarter. In adapting Edith Wharton’s 1920 novel, which in 1921 made her the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize, playwright Douglas McGrath honors its literary intent. However, he skillfully edits it to heighten its power as a piece of theater.

As pianist Yan Li plays the pensive opening notes of the incidental score by Mark Bennett, an Older Gentleman of the 1920s enters. He describes New York in the 1870s — the Gilded “Age” that gives the novel its ironic title — as a place where elite society brings rigid social conventions.

At the Academy of Music — which is the preeminent place to see an opera, as the Metropolitan on 39th Street is still under construction — an older woman, Mrs. Manson Mingott, is seated in a box with other female members of her family, including the Countess Ellen Olenska.  more

Papa Leroux (George Agalias, right) proposes to Rubenesque heiress Daisy Tillou (actually “dead” artist Jean-Francois Millet disguised as his own sister — both played by Nick Pecht) in “Is He Dead?,” a “new comedy” by Mark Twain, adapted by David Ives. The production by ActorsNET performs weekends September 28 through October 14 at The Heritage Center Theatre, 635 North Delmorr Avenue, Morrisville, Pa. Show times are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults, $17 for seniors 62 and up, $15 for WHYY members and students, and $10 for children age 12 and under. To reserve, call (215) 295 3694, email, or visit

BEST BEVERAGES: The staff at Joe Canal’s Discount Liquor Outlet in Lawrenceville is proud of the store’s new renovation, offering an even more convenient shopping experience for customers. Its excellent and comprehensive selection of wine, beer, and spirits and its knowledgeable staff have ensured the store’s success for nearly 17 years.

By Jean Stratton

Joe Canal’s, the popular discount liquor outlet, has a new look! It has undergone a major renovation offering more open space, wider aisles, more convenient accessibility, new lighting, and easier checkout options.

“We’ll be open for 17 years this November. We felt it was time for an upgrade, as the store was beginning to look dated,” says Mark Hutchinson, managing partner of Birchfield Ventures, which owns Joe Canal’s.

“Our focus is always to improve the shopping experience,” he continues. “We opened up the entry and made check-out easier. The additional space we created also enabled us to add more than 500 new wine, beer, and liquor items.” more

COMING THROUGH: Princeton University football player Charlie Volker fights to break a tackle in a 2017 game. Last Saturday, senior running back Volker rushed for 162 yards and two touchdowns to help Princeton defeat Butler 50-7 in its season opener. The Tigers host Monmouth (2-1) on September 22. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

As the Princeton University football team headed into its season opener last Saturday at Butler University, Bob Surace was cautiously optimistic.

“It is always hard to predict; we are always going against each other but they have been so good in camp,” said Surace. “They have been focused, they have worked hard. They have done all the things right. It makes you feel good as a coach that they are going to be ready.”

It didn’t take long for Surace to feel very good as senior star quarterback John Lovett returned with a bang after missing 2017 to injury, hitting classmate Jesper Horsted for a 63-yard touchdown pass 26 seconds into the contest. more

September 12, 2018

By Donald Gilpin

The conflict seems to intensify as postponement of the Princeton Board of Education (BOE) vote on Princeton Public Schools’ (PPS) proposed $129.6M bond issue, and consequent postponement of the ballot issue until after the November 6 general election, gives both sides the opportunity to develop and clarify their cases.

Last week, shortly before its Tuesday night meeting at which it was planning to vote to place the referendum on the November ballot, the BOE was informed that due to a backlog the New Jersey Department of Education (DOE) was still reviewing the district’s plans and that the referendum would have to be postponed until after the November ballot.  more

By Anne Levin

A new lawsuit has been filed by opponents of Rider University’s proposed sale of Westminster Choir College to a company they say is owned by the government of China and threatens the music school’s academic freedom.

Seven people are plaintiffs in the suit filed in New Jersey Superior Court this week. It names Rider, the Westminster Choir College Acquisition Corporation, and Beijing Kaiwen Education Technology Co., Ltd., claiming that the proposed sale is “a disguised takeover of an American college by the Chinese government,” said Bruce Afran, attorney for the Westminster Foundation, in a press release. The Foundation is made up of alumni and supporters working to maintain the choir college and protect its independence. more

By Donald Gilpin

The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has called for the immediate release of Princeton graduate student Xiyue Wang, who has been imprisoned in Iran for more than two years.  The Working Group has concluded that the government of Iran had “no legal basis for the arrest and detention” of the 37-year-old history scholar, that Iran committed “multiple violations” of his right to a fair trial, and that his “deprivation of liberty is arbitrary.”

Responding to a petition filed earlier this year by Wang’s wife Hua Qu and his mother, the Working Group’s report, adopted on August 23, states, “The Working Group requests the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to take the steps necessary to remedy the situation of Mr. Wang without delay and bring it into conformity with the relevant international norms.”  It goes on to assert that the appropriate remedy would be to release Wang immediately.

A naturalized American citizen and fourth-year graduate student, Wang was in Iran in 2016 to study Farsi and conduct research for his doctoral dissertation, reviewing documents dating from the late 19th and early 20th centuries in Iran’s National Archives.

He was arrested in August 2016, confined in Tehran’s Evin Prison, convicted in a non-public trial on two counts of espionage, and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

The Working Group, which expressed grave concerns about Wang’s health and about the conditions in which he is being held, concluded that Wang was peacefully exercising his right to seek and receive information for academic purposes; that Iran’s espionage laws are vague and overly broad; that no trial of Wang should have taken place; that the Revolutionary Courts that tried Wang and heard his appeal “do not meet the standards of an impartial and independent tribunal”; and that Wang’s case is part of a pattern of Iran targeting foreign nationals for detention.

In Iran’s response to the petition, according to the UN Working Group, “the government did not explain…how Mr. Wang had cooperated with a foreign state… against the Islamic Republic of Iran, nor how accessing historical archives relating to a period of governance over 100 years ago could amount to an attempt to overthrow the Iranian government.”

Iran also “did not explain how Mr. Wang’s trial on espionage charges posed a national security threat so serious that it warranted a closed hearing,” the Working Group noted.  The report went on to claim that Wang’s imprisonment was motivated by the fact that he is a United States citizen and that his 10-year prison sentence is disproportionately heavy, “as there is no evidence that…he was intending to, or did in fact, conduct espionage or cause ethnic crisis in Iran.” 

Responding to the U.N. Working Group report on Monday, Princeton University Vice President and Secretary Robert K. Durkee said, “The Working Group makes it clear that Wang was in Iran solely to do scholarly work, and that the charges against him were entirely without merit.  We hope these findings by the Working Group and its call for his immediate release will, in fact, expedite his release so he can return to his family and come back to campus to complete his Ph.D.”

In a separate statement also issued Monday, Hua Qu described “many cruelties” that her husband had undergone “from being kidnapped to enduring solitary confinement, repeated interrogations, humiliating treatment, harsh living conditions, unjust legal proceedings, and immense emotional distress,” resulting in deterioration of his physical and mental health.

“He has lost weight, developed arthritis in his knees, suffered rashes and pains all over his body, and fallen victim to depression,” she wrote.

Urging the U.S. government and the international community to work together to secure Wang’s release, Hua Qu described their son, “now 5 years old and starting kindergarten.  Over the two years of his father’s absence, he has developed a remarkable resilience.  But the problems of the adult world trouble him every single day.  The devastating reality of our son’s young life is encapsulated in the question: ‘Why can’t Daddy come home after 855 days?’”

The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention was established in 1991 by the former Commission on Human Rights to investigate cases of deprivation of liberty imposed arbitrarily or otherwise inconsistently with international standards and rights.

DEVELOPING THE WHOLE CHILD: Playing and academics are “a beautiful balance” at Princeton Nursery School, says Director Rosanda Wong. The school is about to celebrate its 90th anniversary of educating local children.

By Anne Levin

Inside a plain yellow building on Leigh Avenue, generations of Princeton children have received their first taste of life in the classroom. Princeton Nursery School has been a mainstay in Princeton’s Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood for nearly nine decades.

Space is tight and maintenance is a constant concern. But the school’s administrators have resisted suggestions that it move to larger, roomier quarters. “People ask why we don’t relocate,” said Rosanda Wong, the executive director since last year. “It comes down to three things: We own the property. We don’t have the cash reserves. And most importantly, there is a history here.” more

By Anne Levin

Princeton’s organic waste program, in which food and other organic materials are supposed to go to a composting facility, is currently at risk because participants are routinely including plastic bags and utensils in the waste. As a result, the material has been going to an incinerator in Tullytown, Pa., for the past several months.

Those enrolled in the program, who pay $65 a year, were informed of the situation via an email last Saturday. Mayor Liz Lempert, who learned of the problems two weeks ago, wrote that Princeton’s composting bins contain too much prohibited material to be accepted at the farm utilized by the town’s hauler, Solterra. more

DRIVING ELECTRIC: Electric vehicle owners, enthusiasts, and curious locals gathered Saturday at the West Windsor Community Farmers’ Market to take part in a National Drive Electric Week event featuring more than 23 plug-in vehicles and their owners. New Jersey Electric Auto Association Vice President Sal Cameli stands beside his 100 percent electric Nissan Leaf.

By Donald Gilpin

If the electric vehicle (EV) drivers, enthusiasts, and curious onlookers who showed up Saturday at the National Drive Electric Week event at the West Windsor Community Farmers’ Market are any indication, your next car might be electric, and it won’t be long before traditional internal combustion engines have gone the way of the horse and buggy.

The owners of the 23 EVs in attendance Saturday emphasized the clean-air benefits and cost-savings of their cars, answered questions from spectators, and shared their EV ownership experiences.  more