February 10, 2006

Olympics: The Opening Ceremonies.

Are you watching the opening ceremonies? The ladies in dresses shaped like the Alps, the disco music, the nations with only one or a few athletes who -- the voiceover tells us -- have no hope of winning... It's kind of sweet, isn't it?


Jen Bradford said...

These are the least joyous opening ceremonies in my memory. It's too jarring - the disco, the political commentary, the crummy performances. Usually I'm a big sap and get very choked up by this stuff, but this is awful somehow.

Ann Althouse said...

Yeah, the disco music is driving me crazy. I guess they must love America. They're playing "YMCA" right now.

But the dresses shaped like the Alps make up for a lot.

Jen Bradford said...

Alright - I'll now contradict myself and admit to bursting into a huge teary grin at at the American team looking so happy while Aretha sings "Respect" (Freedom! Freedom!) Okay, the sap is back.

Ann Althouse said...

That's not "Respect," it's "Think." And yes, that was very nice for us. What was with the girl talking on the cell phone? All the cameras are bad enough. But a phone!

Jen Bradford said...

"Think" - of course.

Maybe it was a camera-phone.

Paul is a Hermit said...

The disco music is too much. But I'll always remember the floating trees and the cows.
I liked that they didn't skip countries because of commercials.
Only thing left is the mystery flame lighter.

Paul is a Hermit said...

Whoa ! Far out aerial show!

Jen Bradford said...

The futurism dance thing with the Boccioni freaked me out. I'm reading too much into everything and need to get a grip.

BrianOfAtlanta said...

Those huge bubble head things were... well, what were they? This reminds me of the opening ceremonies for the winter games in France a while back. Totally incomprehensible and not very intertaining. Well, except for the guy playing Vulcan with the hammer thing and the gouts of fire.

Now, to find out when Giant Slalom and Super G are scheduled!

John said...

I rarely make a point to watch the olympics. If it's on I'll watch - if there's nothing better on.

Tristram said...

Okay, the 70's Disco music was kind of freaky.

My wife and I watched most of it. The beginning I really didn't get. But the marching band -esque ski jumper was nicely done.

Brian Williams annoyed us almost beyond endurance. 'Italian Americans remembering the history of what US servicemen did here' (Oh, what was that? Right slaughtering Fascists...) As the Israelis come out, talking about Speilburg's 'Munich'... or was he talking about Arafat's Munich. Bah. Wish it had just been Costas and Lampley. And Denmark and the cartoon's...

Yeah, I know there is always politics in the Olympics, but give it a rest man. I'm a little shocked he didn't blame the 'uncharacteristly mild 41 degrees' on global warming and slipping in a Kyoto reference...

Ah, well, I'd rather see the atheletes compete that this nonesense anyway. But I understand why it is this way: some people watch the Superbowl for the game, some for the Ads and some for the Half-time and some just for tradition. ANd of course, a smaller percetage who really are fans of one of the competetors.

Abraham said...

The American contingent seemed to get a pretty good response from the crowd. I guess I found that a little surprising.

tiggeril said...

Same here, Abraham. I wasn't expecting cheers at all.

I was also willing Bob Costas to stuff a sock in Brian Williams' yap. Yes, we know you're knowledgeable. We get it. Consider it gotten, Brian. Stuff goes on in the world. Understood. QUIET.

Gaius Arbo said...

One thing that kind of stood out for me. When the flag was carried in, there were famous atheletes, a nobel prize winner, Sophia Loren (who looked great at 71) and Susan Sarandon.

What the heck was she doing there?

faster said...

Well, for those that stuck around until the end, Pavarotti singing Nessun Dorma absolutely made up for that rocky beginning with the disco music. Now THAT's Italy.

Chris O'Brien said...

How does Algeria have a winter Olympic team with a couple of atheletes? I thought Algeria was hot. Like 130 degrees in the shade hot. Whats up with that? I know, I know a number of snowless countries have contingents, but I can see a speed skating rink in Hong Kong or a rich Bermudan who trains in Colorodo. But whats up with Algeria?

amba said...

There were a number of athletes who were competing for their country of origin even though they'd grown up someplace else (and colder), like the Somali who'd been adopted by an Austrian but was still competing for Somalia. The world's getting very mixed up, to its credit.

The way that athletics can dissolve international hostilities even while (and maybe because) ritually acting them out is always stirring and touching. (North and South Koreans in pairs, beaming, arms around each other's shoulders.) But I really could've done without the bad Cirque du Soleil imitation.

Tristram said...


IIRC Senegal (also in Africa) only had a sole athelete, Downhill Skiing!. And, for a brief moment of clarity, Costas and Williams explained that the athelete was born in Senegal, but went to school in AMerica and got a scholarship it New Hampshire. They said the hard part was organizing a Senegalise Skiing fedearation so he could join it and form an Olympic team.

So, to answer your question, it would not surprise me if most of those athletes were ex-patriots or family members of diplomats.

bill said...

To add to what tristram just said, there can be a lot of politiking to get on a team. Many instances of athletes not being able to make the team of their citizenry, but their grandparents were born somewhere else and they compete for that country.

Look at this comparison by Reader Iam (a frequent commenter here):

A 14-year-old girl has been denied reunification with her adoptive mother, who was granted U.S. asylum following a horrific odyssey through civil-war-torn Sierra Leone. But Congress had no problem passing a special law in December so that an ice dancer could come to the U.S. to skate for our Olympic team.

joated said...

I can't agree with Tristram more. Williams repeatedly introduced politics into the program and it felt terribly intrusive to my ear. (My daughter pointed out he is a newscaster.) It felt like Williams was a vulture waiting for something awful to happen and his comments were being made to point out that it could.

Other than that it was certainly, hem, interesting. (Loved the Mongols and Grandma sledder from the Caribbean.) Some of the countries that send the fewest participants have held on to the ancient ideals of the games.

Anonymous said...

Liviing in Northern VT I was very glad that our cable system carries CTV. The Canadian coverage was miles better than NBC. Always has been, too. I'll actually get to see sports instead of interminable puff pieces on self-absorbed athletes.

Peder said...

I didn't mind Williams discussing politics. I did mind that he came off as a blithering idiot. Russian athletes- didn't know much about them in the past, were told that they lived behind some kind of curtain. Um, Brian, it was a metaphor.
And mistaking (mostly) 70's disco music for a 'random collection of pop hits from the 80's'? Blithering idiot.

Dave said...

Never will watch the Olympics.

Have better things to do.

Like pick wax from my ears.

James M said...

The cell phone comment reminded me of my favorite moment from the Salt Lake games.
President Bush opened the ceremonies while standing amongst the U.S. athletes. After his opening, he was handed a cell phone by one of the Olympians and he spoke a word or two with whoever was on the other end. While it was kind of tacky, President Bush went along with it and it seemed like he was having a lot of fun.

tiggeril said...

Oh! How could I forget Grandma Luge?

She has a website: http://www.grandmaluge.com/

PatCA said...

I watched part of it. I thought it was like a half time show by Fellini, LOL! It's tough to make this thing aesthetically pleasing, let's face it. The Alps part was good, tho.

I am surprised they didn't play Va Pensiero, which is their emotional national anthem. http://www.wowzone.com/pensiero.htm
I was in the piazza in Florence at a concert once, and when the singers began this aria, the whole place shot up from their seats and sang lustily through eyes full of tears.

I can't stand the constant commentary. Williams was respectful, if stupid and pedantic (what else is new?) Of course they are waiting for an "incident."

I was watching the ski trials and wish they would STFU! We want to watch their beautiful arcs down the mountain, hear the wind roar and the snow crackle as they descend!

I need to go skiing, quick!

jeff said...

Somewhere in the middle of the parade of nations, I commented to my wife that it sounded like someone had just stuck their iPod into the sound system (they have gadgets to do this) and hit random shuffle.

Of course, I was enjoying it because this is the music of my late teens and early 20s.

tcd said...

I actually thought it was disturbing that the North Korean & South Korean teams came in together. Are they not still separate countries? Do South Koreans want to be under Kim Jong Il's thumb? Maybe it's time for America to withdraw troops from the DMZ and let Kim march into Seoul.

twwren said...

For a Marque song, what an odd choice “Imagine” was?

“Imagine there’s no countries…” but, doesn’t the Olympics support competition among countries?

“Imagine no possessions” Okay, that’s a much discredited Marxian point of view but is it the Olympic point of view? Sure, the IOC would say it does not necessarily agree with the lyrics of the songs presented. Still, to showcase a song that is inherently political...?

And, what has Yoko Ono done besides marry well and offer a name that easily fits into crossword puzzles?

XWL said...

When the US athletes first walked out it was Boney M. singing Daddy Cool.

Easy to ignore that though and simply tuck that away as something that does not compute.

(It could have been what Slovakia walked out to, YMCA, which AP misidentified as what Italy marched out to, so much for media accuracy)

Gawker has it right, this may be the most fabulous Winter Olympics ever.

(proof, besides the linked picture, look where else you can find Aretha singing Think at an opening ceremonies)

Peter Hoh said...

I saw about 20 minutes of the opening ceremonies, spoiled by Yoko and that awful "poem" she read. Bah humbug.

Imagine there's no Yoko
It's easy if you try
No one to preen and posture
Demanding the public's eye.

Brendan said...

Tackier than Coretta's funeral, and that's sayin' something.

vbspurs said...

Tackier than Coretta's funeral, and that's sayin' something.

Too true, Brendan.

Not only did Mrs. King's funeral have better musical acts, but the floorshow was choice.

On the off-chance anyone is hankering for some catty comments on the whole Olympics shebang on Friday night, here are my two blog salvos in the war of fashion attrition:

The Olympics -- That 70's Show


Fisking The Olympic Costumes

To quote Alice Roosevelt Longworth, "If you have nothing nice to say, come sit next to me".


Paul is a Hermit said...

Name the time and place.

Roxieh said...

Ya what the hell was Yoko doing there?
She has never gotten a day of exercise in her long and ulgy life.
Her only claim to fame was that she broke up a marriage and provided "H" to a talented and gifted man.
And now she is honored by being in the 2006 Winter Olympics opening ceremonies. What an insult to the talented people who earned a right to be there.
Who made this decision anyway?

Ann Althouse said...

Not to mention Pavorotti. He's a monument to physical unfitness.

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