Jack: Just to shake things up, I don't care for the Olympics at all. Period. All the TV shows disappear so we can watch a track meet.
Ryan: Where is your patriotism, Jack? What you get is to watch Uncle Sam kick trash in a track meet.
Jack: Ha ha ha! I know... My lack of interest in sporting events makes me a terrorist. :(
Ryan: I have zero interest in sports either, but the Olympics go beyond sports. At least you realize the seriousness of your situation. Someone should alert the Department of Homeland Security and TSA.
And just like that my cynical sports-hating views of the Olympics were soundly reprimanded by an amazing patriot, Ryan Wall, who oddly enough is living in Sao Paulo, Brazil (at least that's what his Facebook profile says). Now who's the terrorist, Ryan? At least I live in the U.S.A.!
So last night I put forth good effort and sat and watched the Opening Ceremony in London. Well, I actually watched it here in Orem, Utah with Brian and his parents, just to be clear. But they were indeed being broadcast from across the pond. So there I was last night watching all 40-million hours worth of Olympic hoopla and fanfare. And I gotta say, it was kinda strange. Parts were fantastic and indeed showed me that the Olympics "go beyond sports" as Ryan said. There was definitely an aspect of world unity and a celebration of the human spirit. However, I wasn't expecting "beyond sports" to also mean pop music, Mary Poppins, and a parachuting Queen of England.
What I Liked:
- I thought the transformation of England from a pastoral green to an industrialized gray was pretty fascinating. And when the workers began to form the ring from fire right before my very eyes I was indeed impressed. Watching the ring float up to the sky and join with four other rings to form the Olympic symbol was pretty gosh-darn impressive.
- Mr. Bean (Rowan Atkinson) had a funny part in the ceremony doing a parody of Chariots of Fire and I quite enjoyed it. He's a funny guy.
- The parade of countries, while dreadfully dull, was still pretty neat to see. I have never heard of half the smaller nations represented there! Some only have a handful of athletes competing, while we of course have hundreds. Waiting through the entire alphabet clear to the U's was hard to do but definitely worth it to see our American athletes smiling and waving to the crowd. Well, smiling and waving and taking pictures of themselves. And sure they looked a little like Frenchmen in their made-in-China berets, but it still gave me a sense of pride in my nation. Go Team USA!
- The Lighting of the Torch was truly spectacular. The final stretch featured seven young athletes who got the once-in-a-lifetime privilege of bringing their torches to the end destination. They each lit a copper leaf (one representing each country), which lit more, before rising in the air to form a beautiful Torch Bowl. This of course launched us into a glorious fireworks display as we all oohed and awed.
What I Didn't Like:
- Danny Boyle's stupid video at the beginning. It was just a crazy, spinning journey around London. I was dizzy. And confused.
- The middle section of the ceremony featuring dancing nurses and sick children on trampoline beds was kind of cute I guess, but it got a little bizarre when giant Voldemort came and spewed fire along with other baddies like Cruella DeVil, The Queen of Hearts and Captain Hook. Seriously though, Voldemort scared the crap out of me. But then it went from scary to ridiculous when a million Mary Poppins came from the sky to beat the bad guys up. And what was with the giant, creepy baby? It reminded me of the baby Voldemort thing that Harry sees when he dies and goes to King's Cross in the last book...
- Then it got really dumb with a stupid love story between a boy and a girl which was supposed to represent the digital age and celebrate the World Wide Web creator who was a Brit. Mostly it was like an MTV music video on steroids and I just wasn't into it. Sure the music was all of London's best, but still... it somehow lacked the dignity I wanted from the Olympics. Besides, that boy was not cute.
- The American announcers were annoying. They kept talking over everything and nothing they said was interesting. And why did they keep cutting away to Ryan Seacrest interviews?
- I guess it was kinda fun to see the "Queen" parachute out of a helicopter, but I thought the video leading up to it was very long and boring. James Bond walks down a hallway, she comes with him, they walk back down the hallway, and get into a helicopter all without words or even a smile from the Queen.
- Which brings me to the last point. Why was the Queen so unhappy the whole time? Maybe she was embarrassed of the opening ceremony too. Or maybe she just wasn't a Paul McCarthy fan, who feebly crooned us out after the fireworks finale to a rendition of "Hey Jude."