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12 February 2006

Walt was watching the MacNeil-Lehrer News Hour during the start of the Olympics opening ceremonies, so I sat here at my computer and typed my thoughts as I watched the festivities on my little office TV.

I didn't think too much of the red opening of the events (somehow it seemed less rehearsed than previous Olympics, but I suspect that was just because of the camera close-ups), but when they switched to the Alps scene, with all those "riccola" guys playing the Alpine horns it was great.

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I don't know who all the older women in native garb were, but they looked like they were having the time of their lives.

I absolutely loved the cow dance. Loved the tacky cow costumes on the dancers, and the dancing cows themselves.

Snow...the lovely model Carla Bruin, wearing a sparkling crystal Giorgio Armani dress--first class--carrying the Italian flag. ...the flag ceremony with the Italian carabinieri, the big shots, all dressed in white and looking like Gandhi, bathed in lights the color of the Italian flag.

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As for the little girl who sang...boy, if ever there was a "stage mother bursting with pride" moment that was it. Billions of people world wide looking at your little darling standing in a spotlight, singing the national anthem in that huge stadium. Even I got goosebumps. And she did a nice job.

Love the "wave" and the Busby Berkeley precision choreography of a figure skiing downhill--I wonder how the folks in the stadium are seeing it. The guys all on skis--skis built for six--were so cool. The whole moment was fantastic.

Kudos to NBC. Bob Costas shut up and just let it happen. I remember years where they talked through the whole thing and cut to interviews, up close and personals" and commercials when all the fun stuff was going on.

fireguys.jpg (14231 bytes)The fire guys racing around on rollerblades are really cool (perhaps a contradiction). Seeing that tail of fire trailing out behind their helmets was really neat. Loved the cut-away to Shaun White, the snowboarder with the red hair ("The Flying Tomato") in the audience, whose mouth hung open watching it all. One thing about the Olympics that I love is the sheer joy of all the athletes--especially the athletes who probably have no chance of winning, but are just thrilled to BE here, and whose goal is, perhaps, to achieve a personal best, even if it falls far short of the top three.

Cool Olympic rings with the acrobatics . Part ballet, part 3-ring circus (Italy does Cirque de Soleil) part jewelry store commercial! So cool when all the rings link up and "explode." Very nice moment, and a great, photographic set for the athletes to enter under.

Now the march of nations. Always such a fun moment. All those guys, so hopeful, so happy, so proud!  All led by women wearing mountains on their lower bodies.  Weird.

* I'm surprised that the Greek team is so small.
* Only one athlete from Albania competing too.
* Andora...I used to do some typing from a guy in Andora, who sent it to me and I mailed it back to him. I wonder whatever happened to him.

How come these athletes are not only in great physical shape but they are all so good-looking too? Aren't there any ugly athletes?

* 40 athletes from Australia. Yes, Peggy, I'll be watching them.

* The Austrians look like they have grass growing out of their heads.
* Hey--one of the Belarus guys has a video camera just like mine.
* The Brasilians look like they're going on safari instead of going into ski country.
* Looks like many brown-furred animals made the ultimate sacrifice for the Czech Republic team.
* Amazing to see the North and South Korean athletes marching together. As Bob Costas says, "through the vehicle of sports, they march together tonight."
*Well, Denmark made it in without negative incident. Doesn't seem to be any tension. So far so good.  The cute little red earmuffs with white crosses like the Denmark flag were a nice touch.
* The UK guys all look like they're in their Interpol costume, with the trench coats and hats.
* No real negative reaction to the Iran team either.  Good...maybe we should just solve all disputes on an athletic playing field instead of with bombs and guns.   Isn't that the way it used to be done?
* Gee--no Iraq athletes?  I guess they've been busy lately.
* I found an ugly guy.  From Iceland.  Well, my faith is restored.
* Jamaican bobsled team this year.

I wonder how many vlogs of Olympic opening ceremonies are going to be posted tomorrow...

* Mongolia wins the prize for most memorable hats!
* What in the hell is the flag bearer from New Zealand wearing? Looks like a cape of emu feathers.

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Very strange assortment of music for these athletes to march into.  Slovakia is marching in to Y.M.C.A.!

* And there is Laura Bush looking very proudly maternal as the US Team marches in.  I wonder if there is some significance to the fact that the US is marching in to "Freedom."  And, of course, there is a US athlete talking on her cell phone.  It had to happen.
* There is a guy marching with the Thailand team who definitely ain't no athlete!   Either that or he's downed an awful lot of pasta since he arrived in Italy!
* A 52 year old luge guy from Venezuela.  Let's hear it for the old guy!
* And finally Italy.  The crowd goes wild.  Not sure they picked the most flattering outfits in the world, but what do I know about fashion?  Naturally, all the women are....gorgeous.

OK--back to the show.  Choreographed flag waving.  Very colorful.  I like the choreographed dance with the Olympic flags to O Solo Mio (among other things!)

Oh and now we have Venus on the half shell.   They say it's freezing in the stadium.  This gal's goosebumps must have goosebumps.  But it's a lovely visual.

The big balloons are fun--they look like giant puffer fish.  I guess they are representing the sun and the moon. 

Oh my--the ballet is very interesting, with   Roberto Bolle in this strange get-up and orange mowhawk...

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...and what looks like a bunch of "Mother Marshmallows" (from The Nutcracker) running around behind him. 

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This is followed by a fire red Ferrari racing onto the stage and doing a bunch of tight circles while fireworks exploded.  Now THAT was spectacular.

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Oh cool--look at all those beautiful women carrying in the flag--Sophia Loren, Susan Sarandon, Isabel Allende...  I can never hear the Grand March from Aida without singing the old Golden Grain Commercial: "...we will live happily, eating our Golden Grain; simply boil and drain, who can complain?" 

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Were those arial guys supposed to look like flocks of spiders spinning webs?  Oh cool...they've formed themselves into a big dove.  Wow.  I didn't expect that.

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Yoko Ono is reading about Peace.  I have turned the closed captioning on the TV in this room, because I'm getting the sound from the TV from the next room and the captioner spelled it "piece."

The lighting of the Olympic torch didn't have quite the same emotional impact as it has had in years past, but is always dramatic anyway.

The evening was capped off by (what else?) Luciano Pavarotti lip-synching his signature Nessun Dorma...

Vanish, o night!
Fade, stars!
At dawn I shall win


Let the games begin!


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