I’ve figured out who is responsible for Bhutto’s assassination

There’s been a lot of finger pointing in the few days since Bhutto’s assassination. John Edwards blamed George Bush. Mike Huckabee went so far as to blame the entire United States, apologizing on our behalf. Robert Novak thinks the United States is also to blame for the fact that it neither provided security nor did it push Musharraf to provide strong security for Bhutto. The Pakistani military might have been involved. Mark Steyn hints delicately that Bhutto’s own courage and foolhardiness may be to blame — something that is supported by the fact that, despite two prior assassination attempts, she voluntarily made herself a target by sticking it out of the top of her car, which placed her in a situation beyond protection. Al Qaeda has offered itself as a probable suspect, a claim Pakistan has hastened to endorse.

I think these assignments of blame are all too facile. I think the fault lies with the British. You see, in 1947, when the British withdrew from their Indian Empire, they acceded to Islamic demand that they create an Islamic nation — and, voila, Pakistan was born. The partition process had attendant upon it incredible violence and, as the Literary Encyclopedia (a nice source) notes, this initial violent rift seemed to set a template for the region in the next sixty years:

An estimated half a million people perished while seventeen million people were forced to move across the freshly demarcated frontiers of India and Pakistan. The blood-stained legacy of 1947 has cast an enduring shadow on inter-state relations and domestic politics in post-colonial South Asia. There are few burning issues in the subcontinent which cannot be traced, directly or indirectly, to the fateful moment when the British struck the partitioner’s axe. India and Pakistan have fought two full-scale wars over the former north Indian princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. An undeclared war, also over Kashmir, following nuclear tests by both countries in May 1998, resulted in a deadly standoff in the Kargil heights during the summer of 1999. An earlier war in 1971, preceded by a civil war in which Muslims slaughtered Muslims, led to Indian intervention and the breaking away of Bangladesh. The rise of religious majoritarianism in secular India – highlighted by the razing of a sixteenth-century mosque by Hindu militants in December 1992 and the systematic brutalization of Muslims in Gujarat in 2002 – is rooted in partition, as is Pakistan’s drift towards a militant and bigoted form of Islam, a by-product of its efforts to espouse an ideology in contradistinction to India’s secular identity.

Not only did it set a template, of course, but it turned Pakistan into a swirling soup of Islamic (and other) malcontent. As is so often the case, Mark Steyn, in taking apart Bill Richardson’s silly pronouncement that we should just set up a representative government in Pakistan, points out the core problems with Pakistan:

But, since Governor Bill Richardson brought it up, it’s worth considering what exactly “the interests of the U.S.” are in Pakistan. The most immediate interest is in preventing the country’s tribal lands from becoming this decade’s Afghanistan – a huge Camp Osama graduating jihadist alumni from all over the world. That ship, if it hasn’t already sailed, has certainly cast off and is chugging out the harbor. Something called “the Islamic Emirate of Waziristan” now operates a local franchise of Taliban rule in both north and south Waziristan, and is formally recognized by the Pakistan government in the Islamabad-Waziri treaty of just over a year ago. Officially, the treaty was intended to negotiate a truce, although to those unversed in the machinations of tribal politics it looked a lot more like a capitulation, an interpretation encouraged by the signing ceremony, which took place in a soccer stadium flying the flag of al-Qaeda.

Of course, the “Federally Administered Tribal Areas” have always been somewhat loosely governed Federal Administration-wise. In the new issue of The Claremont Review Of Books, Stanley Kurtz’s fascinating round-up of various tomes by Akbar Ahmed (recently Pakistan’s High Commissioner in London and before that Political Agent in Waziristan) mentions en passant a factoid I vaguely remember from my schooldays – that even at the height of imperial power, the laws of British India, by treaty and tradition, only governed 100 yards either side of Waziristan’s main roads. Once you were off the shoulder, you were subject to the rule of various “maliks” (tribal bigshots). The British prided themselves on an ability to run the joint at arm’s length through discreet subsidy of favored locals. As a young lieutenant with the Malakand Field Force, Winston Churchill found the wiles of Sir Harold Deane, chief commissioner of the North-West Frontier Province, a tad frustrating. “We had with us a very brilliant political officer, a Major Deane, who was most disliked because he always stopped military operations,” recalled Churchill. “Apparently all these savage chiefs were his old friends and almost his blood relations. Nothing disturbed their friendship. In between fights, they talked as man to man and as pal to pal.”

The benign interpretation of Musharraf’s recent moves is that he’s doing a Major Deane. The reality is somewhat bleaker: Today, even that 200-yard corridor of nominal sovereignty has gone and Islamabad’s Political Agent is a much shrunken figure compared to his predecessors from the Raj. That doesn’t mean “foreign” influence is impossible in Waziristan. Osama bin Laden is, after all, a foreigner, and so are many of the other al-Qaeda A-listers holed up in the tribal lands. Jihadists arrested recently in Britain, Germany and Scandinavia all spent time training in Waziristan, as do Chechen rebels. If another big hit on the US mainland is currently in the works, it’s safe to say it’s being plotted somewhere in Pakistan’s tribal areas.

Interestingly, modern India, which was also carved out of the former British Empire, hasn’t devolved into this corrupt, violent soup of extremism. It’s had its moments, of course, and there are certainly aspects of Indian culture that don’t easily yield to Western admiration, but it is, on the whole, a successful Democracy. I’m too historically ignorant to draw any conclusions from that fact but, perhaps, some of you who better understand Indian, Pakistan, Islamic, Hindu, Cold War or Tribal history can do better in this regard than I can.

UPDATE:  And a reminder that democracy, as we understand it, doesn’t exist in Pakistan, comes in this story about the “annointing” of Bhutto’s famously corrupt husband and her utterly untried teenage son as the new party leaders:

Pakistan’s largest and most storied political party chose Sunday to continue its dynastic traditions, anointing the 19-year-old son of slain former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto to be her ultimate successor but picking her husband to lead for now.

The selections mean that the Pakistan People’s Party, which casts itself as the voice of democracy in Pakistan, will stay in family hands for a third generation.

The word “dynastic” in the above quotation nails the situation and does not bode well for the future of Pakistan’s putative “democratic” party.

Good news for those sick of movie sleaze

The conservative side of the internet has been enjoying the fact that Americans have rather consistently been rejecting the anti-War films oozing out of Hollywood.  There’s a flip-side to this story, which is that Hollywood is slowly figuring out the wholesomeness sells:

The family values era is dead – with Britney Spears and her little sister doing their best to ensure that it isn’t coming back soon. But there’s at least one arena in popular culture where parents have been receiving a world free of drug use, sexual shenanigans and strong profanity: the movie theater.

Last weekend’s release of “National Treasure: Book of Secrets,” which made more than $88 million during its first seven days in theaters, is the latest PG-rated film to find success this year. If the trend continues over the next few weeks, seven PG movies could end up among the 20 highest-grossing films released in 2007 – the most since 1989, when Ronald Reagan left office and eight studio offerings including “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” and “Driving Miss Daisy” were on the list.

Next year looks even more geared toward 10-year-olds, with family-friendly releases including “The Spiderwick Chronicles,” “Where the Wild Things Are” and the latest “Chronicles of Narnia” film, “Prince Caspian.” Even the Wachowskis – best known for their violent and R-rated “Matrix” movies – are working on the colorful and kid-accessible “Speed Racer,” which could end up with a G rating.

The change comes as more parents are making their voices heard, especially online, about children’s movies. Common Sense Media founder Jim Steyer thinks the studios are listening; Steyer says he even heard “Kill Bill Vol. 1” producer Harvey Weinstein say at a conference this year that he wants to make PG films.

“The bottom line is, it definitely seems like a trend, and I think that’s good,” said Steyer, who founded Bay Area-based Commonsensemedia.org , which offers family reviews and ratings of media and entertainment, in 2003. “It almost seems as if there’s a hunger out there for quality media for children.”  (Emphasis mine.)

You can read the rest of the story about this trend here.  As for me, I’m completely excited about the next Narnia moving, having enjoyed the first one tremendously.

New Toy

My apologies for not blogging the last couple of days.  Originally, we were supposed to be on the road, but weather intervened.  As I’ve repeatedly said to those who ask, I’m willing to drive to snow, but not through snow (which clearly shows my wussy West Coast roots).  Being home, of course, this turned into a home maintenance time.  My husband and I cleaned out closets, built a simple pantry (yes!), and ran errands.

One of those errands included buying one of those turntables that connects to the computer so that you can bring your vinyl collection into the modern era.  I have a bunch of loopy and irreplaceable records from the 1950s (my Dad’s), the 1960s (mine and my Dad’s), and the 1970s and early 1980s.  I’ve really missed listening to them, and was thrilled when Costco began to sell a USB turntable.

The turntable is serviceable but we discovered, after a lot of agonizing time at the computer, that the software included is awful.  Mr. Bookworm went on the internet and we found a much better software called Spin It Again (and you can save $10 by downloading it, instead of ordering the boxed version).

All of this sucked up so much computer time that I haven’t had the chance to do any blogging at all.  Indeed, I haven’t even read anything and feel woefully out of touch.  I will try to remedy that situation in the next couple of days, all the while with silly songs of my youth playing in the background.

Michael Kidd, RIP *UPDATED*

He died at 92, and he’d retired long ago, but I still feel a sense of loss that Michael Kidd, the brilliant choreographer, has died:

Michael Kidd, the award-winning choreographer of exuberant dance numbers for Broadway shows like “Finian’s Rainbow” and “Guys and Dolls” and Hollywood musicals including “The Band Wagon” and “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,” died on Sunday at his home in Los Angeles.

The cause was cancer, said his nephew Robert Greenwald. Biographical sources generally give Mr. Kidd’s age as 88, but Mr. Greenwald said his uncle was actually 92.

On Broadway, Mr. Kidd won five Tony Awards: for “Finian’s Rainbow” in 1947, “Guys and Dolls” in 1951, “Can-Can” in 1954, “Li’l Abner” in 1957, and “Destry Rides Again” in 1960. In Hollywood, he received a special 1997 Academy Award “in recognition of his services to the art of dance in the art of the screen.”

Perhaps his best-known film work was “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,” a 1954 musical of the American frontier whose dances, which he created for ballet dancers, were not supposed to appear balletic. He had them perform what he called “work movements,” like wielding axes.

“I always use real-life gestures, and most of my dancing is based on real life,” Mr. Kidd said in an interview. He defined his choreography as “human behavior and people’s manners, stylized into musical rhythmic forms.”

Anna Kisselgoff, the former chief dance critic of The New York Times, wrote that Mr. Kidd’s signature was “characterization through energy, epitomized by a lovesick male clan going courting with an acrobatic challenge dance” in “Seven Brides.”

Michael Kidd was born in Brooklyn, the son of an immigrant barber, Abraham Greenwald, and his wife, Lillian. While still at New Utrecht High School, he attended a modern-dance performance, was hooked, and began to study with Blanche Evan.

You can read the rest of the very nice NT Times obit here.

UPDATESoccer Dad asked in the comments if I’d seen the post at Seraphic Secret about Michael Kidd’s death.  I hadn’t when he asked that question, but I have now and I can highly recommend it.

Bhutto’s assassination *UPDATED*

Bhutto 1

In 1914, an obscure Archduke and his wife were assassinated in Sarajevo, a place that, to most Western Europeans and Americans, was the back of beyond. It should have been nothing more than a bloody moment in local history that quickly vanished into the backwash of time. It didn’t, of course. Instead, it set in motion a series of events that led to World War I, one of the bloodiest wars in modern history and a war that set the stage for World War II and the Cold War.

I couldn’t help but think of 1914 and Sarajevo when I woke up today to read about Benazir Bhutto’s assassination today in Pakistan. It wasn’t a surprise, of course, considering the fact that this was the third known try against her in only two months. If people are trying that hard to kill someone — and if they are not worried about either their own deaths or collateral damage — they’re eventually going to succeed.

It remains to be seen who was responsible for that assassination. Al Qaeda has already volunteered itself as a suspect, but that may simply be opportunistic blather. Many suspect President Pervez Musharraf, of course, since he was facing an election against Bhutto, but it could just as easily have been Musharraf’s Islamist enemies. Pakistan is certainly not a place lacking people who are motivated to kill. Indeed, to the extent that the increased instability in Pakistan may benefit the Republican candidates, who are seen (rightly, I think), as more prepared to deal with threats against America’s security, I’m sure there are many lining up in the nutroots rooms to blame the assassination on Karl Rove.

I’m not sufficiently well-versed in events in Pakistan to venture any predictions about how this event will play out, both in Pakistan and abroad. My only hope is that it doesn’t take World War IV from a luke warm war to a hot, hot war.


UPDATE: You might have noticed that my blogging rate is low today, despite the big happenings. We were to have been driving to the mountains today, but got snowed out. Instead, my husband suggested that we clean closets, which I thought was a good way to end the old year and see in the new. The one problem is that, in terms of blogging, that’s almost as bad for my output as being in a car. Since I’m incapable of deep thoughts right now, let me pass you on to the Captain who has, I think, some of the better posts about the assassination’s meaning at home and abroad.

As always, American Thinker’s Rick Moran has some good posts, too — here and here.

UPDATE II: And, of course, Mark Steyn.

UPDATE III:  Christopher Hitchens also offers extremely interesting comments about Bhutto’s personality and legacy.

Does this sound like a good idea to you?

I’ve traveled in America, Canada, England, Western Europe, Israel, Mexico and North Africa.  My experience about driving (and walking) in these countries, is as follows:  In America and Canada, roads are really exceptionally well-organized, with clear rules, and the drivers, for the most part, following those rules.  In England, roads are fairly well-organized, with clear rules, and the drivers usually follow the rules.  The main problem for an American there, of course, is the fact that they drive on the “wrong” side of the road.  In Western Europe and Israel, there are rules, but nobody seems to follow them.  People do stop at lights, which is a good thing, but the whole concept of lanes, even though they are marked on the road, seems alien to them.  In Mexico, there are no obvious rules but, since I’ve only traveled in fairly sparsely populated areas, it didn’t really matter.  On then there is North Africa or, to be more specific, Tanger in Morocco.  As far as I could tell, there were no road markings nor were there traffic signs.  There were cars galore, though, moving in an anarchic, high speed dance.  It was kind of like watching large schools of sharks jockeying for position in an urban ocean, if you can imagine that.  It was terrifying.
I thought of Tanger when I read that European communities, frustrated by their driver’s lawlessness, have decided, not to encourage lawful driver, but to give up on laws:

Like countless other communities, this western German town lived for years with a miserable traffic problem. Each day, thousands of cars and big trucks barreled along the two-lane main street, forcing pedestrians and cyclists to scamper for their lives.

The usual remedies – from safety crossings to speed traps – did no good. So the citizens of Bohmte decided to take a big risk. Since September, they’ve been tearing up the sidewalks, removing curbs and erasing street markers as part of a radical plan to abandon nearly all traffic regulations and force people to rely on common sense and courtesy instead.

This contrarian approach to traffic management, known as shared space, is gaining a foothold in Europe. Towns in the Netherlands, Denmark, Britain and Belgium have tossed out their traffic lights and stop signs in a bid to reclaim their streets for everyone.

The assumption is that drivers are accustomed to owning the road and rarely pay attention to speed limits or caution signs anyway. Removing traffic lights and erasing lane markers, the thinking goes, will cause drivers to get nervous and slow down.

“Generally speaking, what we want is for people to be confused,” said Willi Ladner, a deputy mayor in Bohmte. “When they’re confused, they’ll be more alert and drive more carefully.”

The European Union has subsidized shared space programs in seven cities in five countries. Interest is spreading worldwide, with cities in countries from Australia to Canada sending emissaries to Europe to see whether the experiment works.

In Bohmte, a town of 13,000 people in the state of Lower Saxony, residents were tired of all the trucks whizzing along Bremen Street, the main route through the city. Since the street is categorized as a state highway, German law prevented local officials from banning trucks. They considered building a bypass instead, but merchants worried it would suck too many vehicles out of the city center, hurting business.

In 2005, city leaders learned about shared space and decided to give it a try. One of the biggest obstacles was persuading regional traffic bureaucrats to approve the unorthodox approach.

“They were grinding their teeth, but finally they agreed,” Ladner said.

On Nov. 26, a small section of Bremen Street – absent signs and curbs – reopened to traffic. With no marked spaces, people can park their cars wherever they want, as long as they don’t leave them in the middle of the road. The new pavement is a reddish-brick color, intended to send a subtle signal to drivers that they are entering a special zone.

Only two traffic rules remain. Drivers cannot go more than 30 mph, the German speed limit for city driving. And everyone has to yield to the right, regardless of whether it’s a car, a bike or a baby carriage.

I’ve mentioned in other contexts my sense that Europe is binary.  During the 1930s, Europeans couldn’t see any possibilities other than Communism or Fascism.  Now, they seem to be struggling between over-the-top, completely destructive political correctness and a resurgence of, yes, Fascism.  And so it seems to go with the roads.  Faced with stupid driving rules, rather than rejiggering the rules to make them work, the Europeans are jettisoning them altogether.  Binary.  Just binary.

Freedom of speech — not — in Canada

By now, I’m sure you’ve all heard that Canada’s Orwellian “Human Rights” Commission has accepted a complaint from some irate Muslims regarding Mark Steyn’s allegedly racist temerity when he quoted in a Canadian publication the Islamist supremacist words uttered by Norwegian imams. Steyn has a few words on the subject, the most compelling of which were these:

Here’s my bottom line: I don’t accept that free-born Canadian citizens need the permission of the Canadian state to read my columns. What’s offensive is not the accusations of Dr Elmasry and his pals, but the willingness of Canada’s pseudo-courts to take them seriously. So I couldn’t care less about the verdict – except insofar as an acquittal would be more likely to bolster the cause of those who think it’s entirely reasonable for the state to serve as editor-in-chief of privately owned magazines. As David Warren put it, the punishment is not the verdict but the process. To spend gazillions of dollars to get a win on points would do nothing for the cause of freedom of speech: It would signal to newspaper editors and book publishers and store owners that it’s more trouble than it’s worth publishing and printing and distributing and displaying anything on this subject, and so it would contribute to the shriveling of freedom in Canada.

This is a political prosecution and it should be fought politically. The “plaintiffs” certainly understand that, ever since the day they went in to see Ken Whyte and demanded money from Maclean’s. I want the constitutionality of this process overturned, so that Canadians are free to reach the same judgments about my writing as Americans and Britons and Australians and it stands or falls in the marketplace of ideas. The notion that a Norwegian imam can make a statement in Norway but if a Canadian magazine quotes that statement in Canada it’s a “hate crime” should be deeply shaming to all Canadians.

This morning I spent 20 minutes mulling over a couple of offers for overseas rights to America Alone from the Islamic world. It seems that Muslim publishers from Turkey to Indonesia are more robust than Osgoode Hall law students. What a sad comment on the decayed Dominion.

Meanwhile, as I’ve said before, the best way to show support is to support the beleaguered publishers by taking out a subscription to Maclean’s for you or a friend. US and overseas wannabe-subscribers have told us they’re having a bit of difficulty getting the website form to acknowledge non-Canadian postal codes. If you have trouble, send us the details and we’ll make sure Maclean’s sort it out when the Subscription Dept wallahs return to the office on Christmas Bank Holiday First Thursday After Hogmanay, or whenever folks go back to work in Toronto.

And we thought we were telling the truth

When my kids were little and we took them to the San Francisco Zoo my son would always need reassurance on the way home:

“Are you sure the lions and tigers won’t follow us home?”

“We’re sure. They can’t escape from the zoo. You saw the big moats around their cages, didn’t you?”

“You’re super, dooper sure that a lion won’t come into my bedroom?”

“We promise. It won’t escape.”

While the likelihood of a lion or tiger leaving the zoo and heading across the Golden Gate to our house is still small, it turned out we were so very wrong when we told our little guy the lions and tigers couldn’t escape. One did tonight, with horrific consequences:

One zoo visitor was killed and two injured early this evening in an attack by a Siberian tiger that somehow managed to escape from her enclosed grotto. The horrific mauling witnessed by other zoo patrons came nearly a year to the day after the same tiger almost chewed the arm off one of her zookeepers during a public feeding demonstration.

The zoo will be closed Wednesday out of respect for the unnamed victims, described by authorities as men in their 20s. One of the men was killed outside the grotto where the tigers are kept; the other two men were attacked about 300 yards away at a cafe. The incident happened about 20 minutes after the zoo’s 5 p.m. closing time.

The tiger, named Tatiana, was killed by four police officers who tracked it to a cafe and found it atop one of the victims. A police spokesman said the officers distracted the animal, which turned and approached the officers who opened fire with .40-caliber handguns.

Investigators today plan to comb the San Francisco Zoo to piece together how Tatiana escaped from her grotto, which is surrounded by a 15-foot-wide moat and 20-foot-tall wall, said Bob Jenkins, the zoo’s director of animal care and conservation.

Officials refused to rule out carelessness or criminal activity.

My thoughts go to the families of the victims, both living and dead. And I’ll never again comfortably be able to tell my kids that zoos are completely safe.

UPDATEThere’s more news today about the story although, as yet, no information about how the tiger escaped.  Here’s the part that really surprised me, although it was hinted at in yesterday’s story:

Alerted by frantic calls from the zoo, four officers arrived in two police cars and tracked the tiger to the cafe. The tiger was sitting next to one victim but, when the officers arrived, it resumed its attack.

“The tiger jumped back on top,” police Sgt. Steve Mannina said. “The victim had blood on his face.”

The animal, distracted by the four officers and by the flashing red lights of the patrol cars, abandoned its victim and advanced toward the officers, Mannina said. The officers all fired their .40-caliber handguns, striking the tiger an unknown number of times.

In other words, even though the Zoo is filled with dangerous animals, the Zoo did not itself have readily available any way to subdue the animals — no guns, no fast acting tranquilizer darts, etc.  Instead, the Zoo had to wait for the SF Police to come rescue it.  This means that, if there had been a major traffic accident on the Great Highway or at the Sloat/19th intersection, help might have been slow in arriving, and many more people could have died or been injured.

Doesn’t it seem strange to you that the Zoo had not readied itself for the risk of an animal attack?  Nor does it excuse the Zoo that no one, as yet, knows how the animal escaped.  A single powerful spring might be so anomalous that no one prepares for it, but there’s always the risk that some loony-tunes releases an animal or, as we’ve seen in other Zoo stories, enters an animal’s enclosure.

The Nutcracker

I’m going to try to keep blogging over the next few days, but it’s going to be spotty.  We’re leaving tonight for dinner with friends, and tomorrow I’m getting ready for a family dinner at my house.  Wednesday we’ll be on the road, and I probably won’t have computer access until sometime Thursday.  So, this might be the last post for a day or two — or it might not.

We did something very Christmas-y today:  We went to the San Francisco Ballet’s production of the Nutcracker.  As far as I know, it is the oldest continuous production of the Nutcracker in the United States, going back to the early 1930s.  It’s a very expensively mounted production in the beautiful War Memorial Opera House, a building that dates back to 1932 and that was named to honor America’s World War I soldiers.  I’ve seen the Nutcracker there, intermittently, since about 1966.

As far as I was concerned, this production was something of a mixed bag.  The last time I saw the show, the first half of it was set in 1830s Russia and had an incredibly lavish, colorful set.  This year’s production was somewhat more minimalist.  The initial setting was updated from Russia to 1915 San Francisco, and was much more restrained.  The costumes had more muted colors, and the grand drawing room in which the opening party scene takes place was a bit austere.  To me, accustomed as I’ve become to something more colorful, it felt a bit flat.  The snowflake dance, however, was wondrous, in large part because of how generously they poured down the little plastic flakes of snow.  The ballerinas really did look as if they were dancing through a snow storm and the effect was breathtaking.

The second half was even more mixed.  The dancing was lovely — very strong dancers for the Russian, Arabian and Chinese dances, with competent dancers for the other pieces.  The Sugar Plum Fairy was decent, and the dancers who did the Grand Pas de Deux at the end were excellent — just rock solid in their leaps and spins.  And yet…. Here again, instead of rich, grand and lavish, theproduction went for classy and minimalist, which was so wrong for my expectations.  Instead, of a sparkling, luxe set for the Sugar Plum Fairy’s kingdom, we got a set that looked like an abstract, empty Conservatory of Flowers, with only lights and a few drop down cutouts to convey the mis en scene of a given dance number.

Even worse — almost heresy, as far as I was concerned — was what happened to the Waltz of the Flowers.  The show’s designers halved the number of dancers, halved number of colors in the costumes and, seemingly, halved the numbers of movements in which the corps de ballet engaged, leaving only the Sugar Plum Fairy bouncing around.  For me, the biggest disappointment was the absence of color.  Instead of a lush palette of pink, purple, yellow, orange, green and blue, the costumes were muted pinks, yellows and oranges that blended into each other into a harmonious and bland whole.  (Turns out I wasn’t the only one somewhat disappointed with what should be a lovely show piece.)

Still, although I wish I liked the new production better, it was still a pretty darn good experience.  The orchestra was superb, the dancing was very high quality, and it was mostly an enjoyable experience.  The funniest part was how we ended up there.  We actually weren’t planning on going this year because we’d just gone to Kooza, the current Cirque du Soleil traveling production.  That was going to be our book holiday show.  My son, however, has several classmates who had already seen the Nutcracker and who had told him about the always exciting Russian dance.  He was therefore desperate to go and, when we were lucky enough yesterday to find four tickets on Craigslist, we snatched them up.  The irony was that, with the exception of the Russian dance, my son hated the show.  He’s all boy, and just couldn’t cope with the stylized prettiness of it all!

If you love ballet, see this Nutcracker.  If you like ballet, see this Nutcracker.  Otherwise, don’t see this Nutcracker — it won’t blow you away, so it’s not worth the price of admission.