Monday, July 30, 2012

Watch the Olympics With Me, vol. 1

I'm watching it all on tv.  Big Cuter thinks we are hopelessly 20th century, sticking to the big screen in our living room. He watches in real time, on his telephone.  Honestly, even if I had more than a stupid phone (which I don't) I don't think I'd watch that way.  I just don't care that much.

What I like are the stories and the spectacle and the momentary hush before the bell rings and the event begins.  I like the preparation coming down to that one instant for everyone, all at the same time.  The athletes, the time keepers, the bell ringers, the basket-ladies, the groundskeepers, the maintenance crews - it's all been about this moment in time. 

They are all in it together, and I, sitting at home on Douglas, am there with them, too... and with the billion other people who watched the Opening Ceremonies last week.  Danny Boyd made a movie for the modern age, and he did it with style. 

There was no over-the-top extravagance; dare I say he did it on the cheap?  I mean that in the nicest way possible, denizens.  I hate excess, except where bubbles are concerned... but more on that, later.  The production numbers were filled with smiles and sighs and though it may have been a bit odd to have the National Health Service assume center stage at an international sporting event, once I got over the oddity of it all I kinda sorta liked it.

The clothes really looked liked that in the 1960's - I had an orange and white harlequin block A-line dress that looked just like the black and white ones on the dancers.  David Bowie and Elton John and Queen and the announcers were singing along and so was I.
There were dancers of all shapes and  sizes and abilities. Notting Hill  and Mary Poppins who knew that James M Barrie donated the proceeds of Peter Pan to the Children's Hospital and all of a sudden the NHS connection becomes a bit clearer and sure it's a stretch  but they are promoting reading and that's a good thing.

C'mon, people, it's The Olympics; you have to feel the love, even if the reach is a bit too far. 
The production spoke to a young demographic.. "Another thing I don't understand," was Meredith Viera's constant response to the technology used in the show.  The crowd was a part of the cast, with LED's at each seat.  The dancing looked more like aerobics than anything else, but then, I'm not part of that target demographic so I went with it and, to my surprise, found the hip hop blending into the Beatles and all of it quite pleasing to my ears.  When the crowd chimed in with "I'm forever blowing bubbles" I was transported.... to summer evenings in the backyard with butterfly nets and lightning bug jars and bubble wands... and to freshman year in college seeing Women in Love and walking home humming that tune and dreaming about Alan Bates.
With Will and Kate kissing as a backdrop, and London's melting pot strutting its stuff on the field, it was time for the Parade of Nations, my favorite part of the Opening Ceremonies.  Greece came first, and that was the beginning of the what are those boys carrying conversation.  The girls accompanying the sign bearers carried flowers; what were those boys toting?

I got lost in the beauty of it all.  I want an Aruba team hat, and one from Lesotho and Hong Kong, too. Domenica's style and India's flowing turbans and elegant saris, the comfy Guamians and Portugal's scarves dazzled the eyeballs.  There were giant tulips on the lapels of the competitors from the Netherlands, the symmetry of which was opposed by the Mexicans who preceded them, each of whom seemed to have made a unique outfit based on shiny primary colors. 

Some less politically correct countries were color coded; the German girls were in pink and their boys were in blue.  Guyana put the girls in orange and the boys in yellow, but I'm choosing to avoid making clothes a political statement since it seems that the USofA outsourced the manufacturing of their outfits to China.

Instead, I'm focusing on the memorable - the Solomon Island's blue and yellow goatee, the bare-chested Fijian, the Finns boogieing to the BeeGees.

It made me sad to see them athletes videotaping the event instead of smiling and enjoying it like the blonde Australian girl who was jumping and yelping. She was glad to be there, and I was glad to share her joy.  The Nigerian women were swinging their hips and the Spaniards stretched out in a long thin line so that each and every one of them could have a few seconds on the international television feed.  There were Palestinians and Independent Olympic Athletes and citizens of Chinese Taipei who probably go home to Taiwan and it didn't matter to me at all. 

For one evening, we are all s planet together.  Out of many cauldrons that, it turns out, was what those boys were carrying, one Olympic torch was lit.  Not one outstanding individual, but many future Olympians had the honor of bringing the flame to the end of its road. 

It got a little dusty... something must've flown into my eye.... I admit to a tear or two. 

It's a good thing London does great fireworks; the sad went away with the first, crown-like burst.
There will be more Olympic coverage as the Games go on.

Wondering where my commentary on Sir Paul McCartney might be?  I have given up trying to say it nicely - the man can't sing any more.  I was embarrassed for him.


  1. I will confess to being unmoved by/uninvolved in the Summer Olympics (especially the swimming events, for some reason :)). The Winter Olympics has all these crazy events like the luge, and that one with the skiers and rifles, and so on, so I usually watch some of those. But the summer variety? All I can think is: Don't those people know it's HOT outside? What in the dickens are they doing running and jumping and flinging things about? Can you say "heat stroke in the making"?!?

    NPR had a story the other day about how the Olympics once included -- briefly, from 1912-48 -- arts competitions. The story featured a history professor from Chicago, so there you go.

  2. I too felt bad about Sir Paul McCartney's performance. I was also stumped as to his choice of songs. Considering the event I would have thought "Imagion" by John Lennon a better choice.

  3. I get it, JES. But TBG loves the track and I like sharing a quiet, intimate moment with a billion or so of my friends every four years, so there you go! I heard the Olympic Poetry piece this afternoon on NPR.... did you send it my way?

    Anything at all, Bella, anything else at all would have been better than watching him lip synch the whiniest of Beatle tunes. Sigh....

  4. I was off from work yesterday due to attending a training class on Saturday in DC. So my oldest and I had lunch at the Green Turtle. They have lots of TVs all over the place and even at each individual table. So we watched the US women's volleyball team and Brazil play. It was a lot of fun. My girls are really into watching the Olympics. Four years ago, all I watched was the opening ceremony and that was it. Last night we watched the mens gymnastics. Told hubby when he came home to NOT tell me what had happened during the day. He's been good about that.

    I have friends in the UK and they sent us lots of souvenirs a couple of months ago when they sent back a Flat Stanley we sent to them.

    Cannot wait to see more the next few nights.

    Megan xxx


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