There's nothing like the Opening Ceremony of an Olympic Games! Pageantry, the ridiculous to the sublime is always there. Tonight is no different. In no particular order, and filled with my biases, here's what I am seeing:
Apparently one's ticket came with a white wrap to wear in the stadium so that the impression to us out here in TV land is that it's all snowy. A nice touch - at least until that guy in the front section wearing yellow- I mean bright yellow - took off his wrap. [Update: Turns out each seat contained a kit with the wrap, a light and a drum stick - all nicely packaged in a drum-shaped box that can be used for audience participation later in the evening.][Updated update: Ninety minutes into the programs they finally told us that the director plans to use the ponchos as a part of the canvas. It's working. This is dazzling!]
Canadian National Anthem - Unlike our US anthem, this one is actually singable. It's lovely, stirring and it brings tears to one's eyes the way it is written. So, why, oh why, did they choose to have it tarted up like we do ours for baseball games? Just sing the song. There should be a law that requires all national anthems to be sung as written.
The parade of nations is always fun. Since the advent of digital photography (actually, it was probably the advent of small, fast cameras) the athletes are taking as many photos as the broadcasters. It's kinda fun to watch them "watching" us. Wonder what they are photographing?
Azerbaijan - See them pants! Oh, oh. The Czech Republic is in the competition, too. You be the judge. Who gets the gold for outrageous pants?
Bahamas, Ghana, Hong Kong, Jamaica, Mexico, Montenegro, Morocco, Pakistan, Portugal, Senegal, Taiwan, and Tajilistan - One athlete each. You gotta admire that!
Georgia - A standing ovation for the team marching with black armbands and missing their dead comrade. They look sad and grim. Winning a medal won't replace their friend, but I hope they do.
Great Britain - According to the commentators, the birthplace of curling - everyone's new favorite winter sport.
Iran - Imagine! A female is carrying their flag. She's a ski jumper and the first woman to compete in a winter Olympics.
Jamaica - The bobsledding team didn't make the cut this year. I had read that they actually were doing pretty well in pre-Olympic competition this year. Somehow it was always fun to root for them. I will miss them.
Napal - They have the only non-rectangular flag in the world - it's a swallowtail and very pretty.
United States - Great looking jackets this year. Some years you wonder "what were they thinking?", but these are great with nice knit hats - in all very attractive.
Canada - Wow! What a great scarf. if the US could just add the scarf to our jackets, it would be perfect.
Red and blue just look "right" with white. At least 1/2 of the countries were wearing some combination of these colors. Made it hard to tell who was who! Made us more one big group, and ain't that the goal of the Olympics. Pretty girls everywhere. Either exercising outside in bad conditions is good for the looks, or the cameramen are selective.
Interesting (at least to me) fact:
Of the 82 countries competing this year, 38 have never won a medal of any kind. Love of sport certainly does engender a stick-to-it-ivness. Imagine all those years of hard work with the payoff being to set a new personal best and to have the opportunity to compete against the best in the world - even knowing that you really don't have much chance. That's why we need to support sports in our schools. Our children need to learn that.
And, now for a tour of Canada.
Wouldn't you love to have free-reign to create your own extravaganza that millions of people will watch? Tell the story your own way? Complete with blowing snow and very nice special effects, I'm learning a bit about our good neighbor to the north. Donald Sutherland playing the role of Charlton Heston. Wonder what all those American actors are doing involved in this? Oh, they're from that part of America! Who knew?
Hoe down meets Irish step dancing. I won't even try to describe it, except to say they had sparklers on their tap shoes! Made me long for Miss Annie's dancing school.
I've died and gone to heaven - Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" sung to perfection by K.D. Lang - all the verses. For me, they could almost close the games now.
And, finally the moment we have all been waiting for.... [drum roll, please] who gets to light the Olympic Flame? It's The Great One - Wayne Gretzky! but he is sharing the duties with a para-Olympian and two other Canadian sports stars. Oops, we're having one of those pesky equipment malfunctions and the caldron didn't rise quite right, but these guys are troopers and pulled it off anyway.
Well, it's done now. The games of the 21st Winter Olympiad are off and running. You know where I will be for the next two weeks - glued to the tube. Here's to two weeks of good performance and good sportsmanship, to the spectacular and the elegant, to good spirits and good luck. Let the Games begin!