Posts filed under ‘The Penn Stater magazine’

Some Advice and Humor from Farnoosh Torabi


To say that Farnoosh Torabi has accomplished a few things since I last saw her would be an understatement. Back in the spring of 2008, we asked Torabi ’02 to host a New York City roundtable of economic experts—all Penn Staters—for a story on the economic crisis for the magazine. I don’t think I’ve had occasion to talk to her since then.

But about that “since then”: Let’s just say she’s been busy. She’s written three books, earned the Alumni Association’s Alumni Achievement Award, gotten married, had a kid, launched a podcast (So Money, named the No. 1 podcast of 2015), appeared on the Today show a bunch of times, and formed her own enterprise: Farnoosh Inc. You may have seen our short profile of her in our Sept./Oct. 2015 issue.

Today she spoke at the Penn State Forum luncheon, offering some advice and humor from her most recent book: When She Makes More: 10 Rules for Breadwinning Women. 

There’s a lot of evidence, Torabi says, that a woman who makes more money than her husband can face tough challenges: Couples in which the woman is the breadwinner have a 50 percent higher divorce rate, and the husband is five times more likely to cheat, to name just two statistics. Not to mention the frustration and resentment the woman might feel—or the judgmental comments from her family or friends.

Her book offers 10 suggestions; in the luncheon today at the Nittany Lion Inn, Torabi spotlighted three of them: (more…)

October 2, 2015 at 2:42 pm Leave a comment

Eating Local—and Eating Well—on Campus

If you’re a foodie who lives reasonably close to State College—and assuming you don’t already have dinner plans tonight—you might want to think about swinging by Redifer Commons. Tuesday night is the latest installment of Redifer’s twice-annual “Local Food Night,” in which guests can try an entire meal made from food sourced within 150 miles of campus. Tuesday’s local offerings, which will be served at Piatto Felice, feature an entree option of grilled beef skirt steak or toasted local creamy cow cheese on focaccia with a honey glaze, along with baked Provence-style stuffed vegetables with sharp cheddar and roasted grapes, and an heirloom tomato and romaine salad with fresh basil and herb dressing.Redifer-Sustainable-Dinner-Sign-FA15

I know. It sounds pretty good.

I first heard about these local dinners—which are open to everyone, and run just $7.99—while reporting on the “eating across campus” feature we’re working on for our Nov/Dec issue. While wrapping up the actual eating portion of my reporting last week, I had a chance to talk with Stephane Gawlowicz, the French (and French-trained) chef who oversees all the food prep at Redifer, and who will be preparing tonight’s meal. We’ll have more on Gawlowicz in the magazine soon, but for now, it’s worth checking out this interview with him conducted by a member of Penn State’s new student farm.

And yes, you read that right—the university has a new student-centered farm, which is another topic you might be reading about soon in the magazine. The cool tie-in here? The romaine lettuce in tonight’s meal was grown by students.

If you make it over there, lettuce—er, sorry … let us know if dinner was as delicious as it sounds.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

September 22, 2015 at 9:28 am Leave a comment

A Taste of Japan in Pollock Dining Commons


The list of foods that I refuse to eat is short, but at the top of that list is sushi. Raw fish, seaweed, and avocado are all things I loathe, so naturally, I tagged along when one of our senior editors asked if I wanted to go get sushi in Pollock Dining Commons. This was for an article he’s working on that will appear in our November/ December issue, plus it was lunch time, so why not join?

It turns out that the food is prepared by a trained sushi chef named Masa Matsui – we’ll have more on him later – with the amount of precision that you’d expect at a high-end Japanese restaurant. He puts together a beautiful plate of food, with two pieces of sushi and a drizzle of sauce on the top. As for the taste, I don’t have any kind of a standard for what sushi should taste like, but this was pretty good. It featured shrimp tempura with avocado and raw tuna wrapped in seaweed and rice, and was coated in tobiko, a small, gelatinous orange ball that I learned are fish eggs. Students get caviar at Penn State, who knew?

The sushi is served at lunch on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, so if you’re in town one of those days, definitely make your way over to Pollock and grab a plate.

Bill DiFilippo, online editor

September 17, 2015 at 1:19 pm Leave a comment

Making Broadway Sound Great

Most of the folks I interviewed over the summer for our Sept./Oct. cover story on Penn Staters in theater were actors, and most were under 30. This was pretty much unavoidable: Performers naturally thrive in the spotlight, and the overwhelmingly majority of those performers on and off Broadway—particularly those who can withstand the rigors of singing and dancing through eight shows a week for months at a time—tend to be young.


Bob Etter was a memorable exception.

The dean of Broadway sound mixers, Etter ’77 recently wrapped a 76-week run behind the boards for Hedwig & The Angry Inch, which closed last weekend. Our piece in the magazine focuses on Bob’s career—among other gigs, he started at Phantom of the Opera, just months into its record-setting Broadway run—but didn’t have the space to get into more of his personal story. And it’s pretty interesting stuff.

When we sat with him at his station in the back of the Belasco Theatre back in June, Etter talked about his life while simultaneously listening to sound cues and adjusting levels accordingly. We told him it was hard to believe he could do both. His smiling reply? “I’ve been doing this for 30 years.”

Etter said he initially came to Penn State from Western PA to study journalism, then left and came back planning to go pre-law. Neither hinted at where his career would take him, but a final switch to the theatre department, and then a call from a friend in Pittsburgh who worked in local theatre, did the trick. He took a gig as a laborer at the Pittsburgh Public Theatre; not long after, he said, “a union guy I knew in New York convinced me to move to the city.”

He did, memorably. “I moved here in March of ’79,” he said. “I pulled up in my Dodge Dart, this place out in Prospect Park, Brooklyn. It was the tail end of worst winter in ages. The trash was still piled up on the sidewalks.” Rent on his apartment—which did not include a toilet or heat, he says—ran him $50 a month. His first job at the Manhattan Theatre Club paid $50 a week.

At the time, Etter said, “this” —the idea of a professional path in theatrical sound—”didn’t exist.” But he got in at the right time: The success of A Chorus Line helped spark more serious interest in making Broadway musicals sound great, and Etter turned out to be a perfect fit for the fledgling profession. “I had always been involved in music,” he said. “I played piano since I was 5 or 6, and I played in bands in high school and college.” Among his favorite college memories was living in an apartment above the Old Main Frame Shop and playing to entertain impromptu crowds on the lawn across College Ave.

In New York, he worked his way up through various jobs and landed fairly quickly on Broadway, where he’s remained almost exclusively—”which is pretty unusual,” he admitted. Affiliations with shows like Phantom, Rock of Ages, and Hedwig have reinforced Etter’s talent, and his love of shows with a rock-inspired score. Along the way, he gave his daughter (now a dancer) a taste of showbiz—”When she was 5 or 6, she’d come hang out with me at the boards, and she’d have her own cues”—and also developed a love of sailing; he was involved in commercial sailing for years, but now does it only for personal enjoyment.

“I found there to be a lot of similarities between sailing and mixing,” he said. “We manipulate, and it’s about finding a constant balance.”

Etter said Hedwig was the show he’d “wanted to do for 30 years,” and might well be his last. He should have more time to enjoy the open sea soon enough.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

September 16, 2015 at 10:59 am Leave a comment

From The Magazine: Nate Lee’s International Kicks

NATELEEWhen we spoke to Nate Lee early this summer, he was still trying to figure out his plans for the next few months. “I know on June 6, we report to Guam,” he was saying, “but I’m not sure when we head out after that.” It was hard to blame him: Between a spring and summer itinerary that included trips to Hong Kong and Singapore, and games against opponents from Turkmenistan and India, it would be hard for anyone to keep up.

Lee, a redshirt junior defender featured in our fresh-off-the-printer Sept./Oct. issue, spent his much of his spring and summer as part of the Guam National Soccer Team. Born and raised in Maryland, he and his family qualified for citizenship in the tiny U.S. island territory in the Western Pacific through his great grandparents. For most of their lives, that fact didn’t have much impact on Lee and his brothers, all of whom—Nate, former Nittany Lion Justin ’12, and ex-Maryland star Alex—are or were college soccer standouts. That changed when Guam announced it planned to field a team for World Cup qualifying matches. “They started to find a lot of connections to American players,” Nate says, “so they decided to build a team from there.”

After splitting a pair of exhibition matches last spring, the “Matao,” as the national side is called, hosted and won a pair of qualifying matches in June against Turkmenistan and India. They still have a long way to go until 2018, but for a country with no World Cup history, it was a pretty good start. For Lee and his brothers, it already qualifies as an unforgettable experience. “It’s still kind of mind-boggling how this all worked out,” he says.

Lee is back in State College now, where he’ll be one of the veteran leaders for a Penn State squad that went 13-6-1 last season and made the second round of the NCAA tournament. He was among the players who joined coach Bob Warming earlier this week for the team’s preseason media day; you can check out their thoughts below.

Lee and the Nittany Lions, ranked 23rd in the national preseason poll, open their 2015 campaign this Friday afternoon in a home match against San Francisco. It’s part of a double-header with the sixth-ranked women’s team, who host Duke in the late game. Should be a great night in a perfect setting for futbol.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

August 26, 2015 at 3:55 pm Leave a comment

I Sure Hope I’m Hungry…

ABPI had breakfast this morning at the Au Bon Pain in Kern Building, a fairly unremarkable way to start a Monday—or a brand new semester for that matter. But it was significant in at least one way: For the next four weeks, I’m going to be eating my way across the University Park campus. This is not an experiment in trying to recreate my “Freshman 15” from the fall of 1991, but rather the start of a month-long reporting project on the state of campus dining, which is set to run in our Nov./Dec. issue.

If you’re an alum from 10 or 20 or 40 years ago, and you’ve been back to campus any time recently, you’ve probably been struck by the changes in campus dining options. You also probably don’t know the half of it. With that in mind, I–with occasional help from my magazine colleagues—will attempt to eat at each and every spot on campus over the next month. That means every dining hall (many of which you wouldn’t recognize if you graduated before 2010 or so) and every retail establishment, from the recently renovated HUB to options that range from the Business Building to the Pattee & Paterno Libraries. Stay tuned for regular web updates over the next few weeks, and keep an eye out for the finished product in our Nov./Dec. issue.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

August 24, 2015 at 9:52 am 7 comments

Lions in the Limelight

We’re in the final week (or so) of production on our Sept./Oct. issue, and among the stories we’re putting finishing touches on is a feature package on alums working in New York and national theatre. As it happens, a couple of the Penn Staters featured in the piece—musical theatre grads Caroline Bowman ’10 and Natalie Weiss ’07—have popped up in the news in the past few days.

maxresdefaultBowman currently stars as Elphaba, the misunderstood green witch, in the Broadway smash Wicked. She and co-star Kara Lindsay were featured last week in a behind-the-scenes segment on New York’s WPIX-TV. (Among other things, you get a sense of just how much time she spends every week covering herself in green paint.) Weiss, meanwhile, recently wrapped a headlining concert at New York’s Highline Ballroom, which is featured in a new post at Among the highlights: A very funny, pop-inflected six-minute version of Les Miserables. There are more videos at the Playbill link, but you can see that one below:

For much more on Bowman, Weiss, and a slew of similarly talented Penn Staters, keep an eye out for our Sept./Oct. issue in a few weeks.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

August 5, 2015 at 2:30 pm 1 comment

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