Monthly Archives: December 2009

Annual Nutcracker Extravaganza

Saw the Washington Ballet’s Nutcracker last night at the Warner Theatre. Gosh, this is my 7th year seeing it with Dawn. And our friend Becky N., too, natch.

You know how much I loves me some Elizabeth Gaither and Jade Payette. Alas, although we could have had either as the Sugar Plum Fairy, or even Elizabeth’s BFF Laura Urgellés, we got Maki Onuki. But Maki Onuki was just fine, of course, and they gave me Ms. Gaither as the Snow Queen and Ms. Payette as the Dew Drop. So all was well.

Rounding out the showy parts were Sona Kharatian in the Spanish Dance, Ms. Urgellé and Tamás Krizsa as the Anacostia Indians, Morgan Frederick as the Lead Cardinal, and Jared Nelson as Ms. G’s Snow King.

Best recovery of the night goes to the poor Ribbon Dancer who wiped out downstage left, pretty much right away, but who got back up and jumped right back into beat. Nicely done. I’d have dashed off in tears.

We went to Jaleo before the show. What a treat, as we hardly ever go out to eat. Since we had a 7:00 p.m. curtain, we sat down at 5:00, before the hockey crush. Oh, yes, lots of patrons in red jerseys. Especially delicious were my choices, the Espinacas a la Catalana and the Escalivada Catalana, which I of course ordered in honor of Stephen Maturin, famous surgeon and spy. We also shared Cebolla asada con queso Picón, Arroz cremoso de setas, and Coliflor salteada con aceitunas y frutos secos.

And sangria. Yum.

President Obama in Olso

A stunning speech:

My favorite passages:

[M]ake no mistake: Evil does exist in the world. A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force may sometimes be necessary is not a call to cynicism — it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason.

… [T]he world must remember that it was not simply international institutions — not just treaties and declarations — that brought stability to a post-World War II world. Whatever mistakes we have made, the plain fact is this: The United States of America has helped underwrite global security for more than six decades with the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms.


Somewhere today, in the here and now, in the world as it is, a soldier sees he’s outgunned, but stands firm to keep the peace. Somewhere today, in this world, a young protestor awaits the brutality of her government, but has the courage to march on. Somewhere today, a mother facing punishing poverty still takes the time to teach her child, scrapes together what few coins she has to send that child to school — because she believes that a cruel world still has a place for that child’s dreams.

Let us live by their example. We can acknowledge that oppression will always be with us, and still strive for justice. We can admit the intractability of depravation, and still strive for dignity.  Clear-eyed, we can understand that there will be war, and still strive for peace. We can do that — for that is the story of human progress; that’s the hope of all the world; and at this moment of challenge, that must be our work here on Earth.

SNL & the War on Christmas

It may be just that I’m getting older, but I’ve been really enjoying Saturday Night Live this year. And, more importantly, I’ve been thoroughly and utterly charmed by the guest hosts these last two episodes. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Blake Lively, despite being awfully young and apparently very successful, seem so earnest and hard-working and also just so genuinely pleased to be hosting. They both totally won me over.

Mr. Gordon-Levitt’s take on Donald O’Connor’s Make ‘Em Laugh was a terrific homage. And Blake Lively (despite being distractingly attractive: she makes me feel kinda like Norm McDonald’s impression of Larry King: “Blake Lively? She should be called Blake Lovely!”) had her own charming musical number monologue, this time with various cast members as Muppets. There was snow and singing and general merriment. And who knew Jason Sudeikis could be such an amazing Fozzy?

One minor quibble, though. They sang Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, but, weirdly, removed all the God and Jesus references. So, instead of:

Hark the herald angels sing
Glory to the newborn King
Peace on earth and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled
Joyful, all ye nations, rise,
Join the triumph of the skies;
With th’ angelic host proclaim
Christ is born in Bethlehem.

Hark the herald angels sing
Glory to the newborn King.

We got:

Hark the herald angels sing
[Animal sings grunts instead of lyrics]
Peace on earth and mercy mild,
[Swedish Chef sings smorgadyborgady gibberish]
Joyful, all ye nations, rise,
Join the triumph of the skies;
With th’ angelic host proclaim
[Beaker sings gibberish meep meep beep]

[skipped line]
[all sing smorgadyborgady gibberish]

They cut out Glory to the newborn King and God and sinners reconciled and Christ is born in Bethlehem. Kinda weird, huh? It was otherwise a wonderful performance, both funny and warm at the same time. They either had some sort of weird reverence for the God stuff, so they excised those bits so they wouldn’t have Muppets and the Gossip Girl chick seeming to make a mockery of it, or they just wanted to remove Christ from Christmas, like Bill O’Reilly says they do.

Or maybe I’m making too much of it. Probably.

Still, fun hosts and good episodes. Although I also feel the need to note that Potato Chip at the end of the Blake Lively episode was easily the worst sketch I can remember in all 35 years of the show, ‘cepting the Jean Doumanian years of course.