Saturday, July 28, 2012

O-lympic Highlights 2012, Day 1: Voldemort-vs-Mary Poppins! Place Your Bets!!

(Let the Games Begin!)

The 2012 Olympic Games are HERE! The 30th edition of the Games in the Modern Era has opened in London. It's time to start caring about Olympians again! If you don't know the athletes, TRUST that NBC will be inundating you with video clips about everyone you need to keep an eye on. Olympians are fascinating. They all have amazing stories of sacrifice and determination behind how they got to where they are. They are in the top of their form, looking for their one moment in times. The Olympics are also incredibly tense, and dreams can be made or crushed in an instant. You can dominate a sport for four years, but when it comes to the Olympics EVERYONE takes it up a notch and underdogs can find their way to the top of the podium. It's so exciting!

But before we get to the competition we must have an extravagantly bizarre Opening Ceremony. Beijing's Summer Games Opening Ceremony in 2008 remains the most majestic of them all. Danny Boyle directed this years OC, and instead of trying to out-spectacle China, he just decided to out-crazy them. Listen, I loved it, but it was basically I gigantic flash mob interpretative dancing through the entire history of Great Britain. There's agriculture and animals, a giant tree on a giant mound of earth, the rise of industrialism, songs sung by angel-voiced children with missing limbs, choruses of deaf and disabled youngsters, a tribute to the National Health Care System, Mr. Bean on piano with the London Symphony Orchestra, a journey through about 6 decades of Brit Pop while two kids in love text each other. In a word this ceremony was: Ambitious. Through it all Meredith Viera and Matt Lauer are frantically trying to provide context for those of us at home who have no idea what's going on and are incapable of forming our own artistic opinion. There was also a movie where Queen Elizabeth herself became a Bond Girl. That was pretty awesome on her part.

(As a nod to the fact that doves used to be released at the Olympics of old, this dude is wearing giant wings and riding a bicycle up into the night sky. I mean, obviously.)

But definitely the best part of the whole thing for me was  when a 100-foot-tall Voldemort rose from the ground to scare the hell out of a few hundred children bouncing on illuminated beds.

(Nothing says Olympics like a giant Death Eater!)
Eventually Voldy, and his partners-in-terror Captain Hook and The Queen of Hearts got taken down by an army of Mary Poppins'es who flew in to the stadium to kick his ass and restore order. Well played, Poppins!

After all that spectacle we got to the seemingly endless Parade of Nations. I mentioned on FB last night that they should limit the parade to those countries featured in the World Showcase at EPCOT Center in Disney World. Then we would zip right through it. Still, it's nice to see the Olympians so happy. The flag-bearers always seem so honored to have that opportunity and it's easy as a spectator to get choked up. Some of the most high profile players in Swimming and Tennis don't take part in this ceremony, because their events start the next morning and the Ceremony is a very long and potentially draining ordeal. The commentators said it was the quickest parade of nations they'd ever seen, but it still seemed to take several hours so, please never make me see a slow parade from here on out.

There's always a lot of curiosity what the stadium torch will look like and how it will be lit and I liked how this year it started out as a ring of fired and then rose up from the ground to become a cohesive torch. like structure. Very unique design and very pretty.

So now it's on to the games. The NBC networks have the events spread out all over the place. You can watch everything live online (provided you have a suitable cable/satellite package you already pay for) Even so, they will try their best to pretend that there is no 5 hour time different between London and New York and feature the most popular events in prime time. They wouldn't even allow a live stream of the Opening Ceremony which was incredibly lame. It's a business decision, I get it, even though they officially claim it's not about ad revenue. At least we will be able to watch the competition live online even if it's not on TV. I look forward to posting fun pics and Olympic stories of the next 17 days as is my custom. Let's hope for a large medal haul for the U.S. Squad! GO TEAM USA!

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