Anne took me to the San Francisco Ballet's Nutcracker this week.
Now, I don't know the first thing about ballet. This was my first performance. What would I know? I was a bit worried that I was going to be bored out of my mind. Read on with a healthy filter of skepticism:
The excitement of the hoards of little girls going out for a big night in the city was wonderful. They converged on the Opera House from all directions, sporting frilly holiday dresses and sparkle-covered slippers. A skipping army of Santa-believers is quite a sight to see.
Once the curtain went up, I was completely sucked in. Even the war-crimes-ready War Memorial Opera House seats didn't distract me.
Enchanting. All grace and fluid effect.
I'd also never heard the whole score. Heh. I've been playing much of it over and over in my head for the last few days. And not just the beat-to-death Sugar Plums either. I'd like to hear a full symphony play it sometime. The ballet's orchestra was, well, just on the thin side.
The sets are only slightly dated. I didn't see what the complaints are about. This isn't the Opera's dreadful Magic Flute set, after all. The effects were great and bedazzled the young ones seated around us.
In the group bits, each dancer seemed to do their own thing well, but there were more than a few distracting synchronization problems. Also, it kept flurrying in the second act. Are all snow machines just a stage manager's nightmare? ACT perpetually has problems with a few flakes drifting down inappropriately as well. Also distracting.
The little boys were a bit blocky and galumphed about in comparison to the little girls. I suppose this speaks to inequities in gender representation and attraction in elementary school ballet circles. That, or the swift beat-down most boys would get for enrolling in a ballet class.
Anne's been to a zillion Ballet West performances of the Nutcracker, also a Christensen production. She likes their sets and costumes a bit better, but thinks the SF version is better for kids. In any case, we'll have to see a Balanchine version in New York some Christmas with the nieces and nephews.
BTW: The Grand Tier Center rocks. It's going to be hard to go back to Balcony Side after this.
SF Ballet's Nutcracker: Most highly recommended. Bring the kids too.
If you ever need casual invitations, envelopes addressed, seating cards, and all sorts of printed ilk, give Raven a call at Scribbledoodles on 24th street in San Francisco. She has some sort of plotter printer things that do a great job.
Raven was great and went out of her way when we had last minute changes. I'd go back there in a flash.
A nice Spanish place on 24th at Van Ness.
Skip the entrees and get the prix fix! It's a nice progression of 7 plates of Spanish food, and the price ain't bad. For 28 bucks you get a nice French Laundry sort of experience-- just enough of each taste, and then voooom, on to the next.
A few cocktails specials at the bar were interesting though. Lorca isn't a tapas place, but they throw a few tapas in with your drinks at the bar.
Everything was great, except the fish dish was a bit disappointing, and one of the meat sauces (ahem, gravy) was a bit heavy.
Overall: I've had better Spanish food. I've certainly had worse Spanish food. But the prix of the prix fix is a good deal. Service was great. Our waiter was great.
Lorca -- Recommended for the prix fix menu.
If you are ever down in Phoenix, you'll have to give the venerable El Chorro Lodge a whirl. Real old-time Phoenix. A bit like going out to a ranch, really. Genuine cowboys and genuine characters at the end of a gravel drive.
I've been to El Chorro twice. Some folks that I know have been going there and whooping it up for the better part of 50 years. They can recall when Lincoln was not much but a dirt track on the way out to the Judson school. Heh.
The food is fantastic, and don't miss the sticky buns in the bread basket. I had a cosmo, which was inexpertly prepared, but what would you expect at a real steak-n-potatoes sort of place?
Beef, prime rib, trout, etc. etc.
El Chorro Lodge- Highly Recommended for the atmosphere and the food.