Saturday, July 28, 2012

Tickety Boo to You Too!

Ahhh, yes.  My favorite time of the year...actually of every other year...or, in this favorite time of  every four get it.

It is Olympic Season!!  And last night was the 2012 London Olympics Opening Ceremony.

The Opening Ceremony always sets the tone for the Games.  It is the "make or break" moment of the two week competition.  The Opening Ceremony is what determines whether we will watch the Olympics with rapt enthusiasm, or if we will snooze our way through the Games, waking only to see us receiving the Gold on the podium or to listen to Bob Costas' closing comments each night.

Judging from the Opening Ceremony two years ago, in Vancouver, I have to say I was a little apprehensive about how London would pull their party off.  Considering Vancouver's Opening Ceremony and that England is their Mother Ship...I believe I had cause for concern.  But the Brits didn't disappoint.

I think the greatest thing London had going for it's Opening Ceremony was the way they honored us.  That is us...US.  From their giant Liberty Bell over their stage, to the way they played "My Country Tis of Thee" (even though it was with a verse I don't remember singing in school....), to the way they included that American cult classic, Wayne's World with Queen's (the rock band, not the monarch...though that would have made it even BETTER!) Bohemian Rhapsody spot!  The Brits seemed to go out of their way to let the Americans know they are loved there!  I actually felt delirious encouragement that they might start construction on Piccadilly Circus to transform it from evil roundabout to American-friendly four way intersection! I even liked their cheeky nickname for Al Gore....Tim Berners-Lee.

Perhaps the biggest concession the British made toward the US last night was their glorification of the game of rugby in their opening film shots.  You may recall that the last time rugby was an Olympic sport was in 1924.  You may also recall that rugby is Europe's attempt at football,which may explain why the US has won more Olympic Gold Medals than any other country in the sport.  I admire how Great Britain gave us that nod...unlike the French, who when we won our second Gold Medal in rugby at the 1924 Paris Olympic Games, discontinued the sport as an Olympic event.  The whole history of rugby at the Olympics seems to be an analogy for our European relations.  They try something, we make it better, the Brits become our big cheerleaders and the French whine.  I think I will really enjoy watching rugby in Rio in 2016!

But....I digress.  Back to last night.

The only time I had issue with the Opening Ceremony last night was when the Brits tried to actually do things...well...British.

Now, don't get me wrong.  I really liked the musical scores.  And I loved how they upcycled the set of The Hobbit for center stage, even casting Kenneth Branagh as Bilbo Baggins (that is who he was, right?), and how they used  Isengard as the setting for the Industrial Revolution...BUT...all that seemed to be overshadowed by Britain's shameful plug of illicit drugs.  Something always goes wrong when the Crown gets involved in a drug sequence.  Remember the fiddle playing, canoe riding, shadow dueling devil on the moon at the Vancouver Olympics????
Oh, I know they called it a DREAM sequence, but sky high Cruella DeVilles, Voldemorts, and Red Queens 
terrorizing little children in the Great Ormand Street Hospital could not be redeemed no matter HOW many Mary Poppins dropped in!!!!  At the completion of the dream/nightmare/drug sequence, my seven year old said, "That was scary.", just as Matt Lauer announced his agreement with, "Now that was CREEPY!"  I don't know if my kids could sleep last night after that, but I couldn't!  I mean, who thought THAT was a good idea??  At least the Canadians could blame Screech.
Ahhh...the things dreams are made of.  YIKES!

Hmmmm...who will win?  Umbrella Wielding Nanny or Evil Warlock?

Well, I guess the Brits efforts at being uniquely British DID pay off in one respect and that was the showcasing of their incredible music!  One of my favorite uses of their superb musical flare last night was ditching the boring dirges that seem to ALWAYS accompany the Parade of Nations and tapping the DJ to instead play some serious Rock and Roll, Disco and Punk!  I will admit, that when they began playing "Stayin' Alive", I was sure the person on the loudspeaker enthusiastically cheered, "BeeGees!"  It wasn't until I saw the procession of a small island nation, that I realized the woman had said, "Fiji".  I loved how so many nations boogied into the stadium that the Parade of Nations finished in record time!  I highly recommend that all future Olympics set the Parade of Nations to some sort of upbeat, dance music!  AND...if Nigeria and the Independent Olympic Athletes can teach everyone how to enter the stadium dancing like they did last night, I am pretty sure the parade could be complete in 20 minutes AND we just maybe could achieve world peace!

And is there anything more fun than watching our beloved Zazu in "I Just Can't Wait to be Bean"?  Yes, Rowan Atkinson's Mr Bean does Chariots of Fire was GENIUS!

Only one thing could top it.....and you know what that is!  Oh yes!

Still incredible!  I think we would be hard pressed to find any better export from Britain than it's rock bands...but there is something about the Beatles that stand head and shoulders above the Stones, Zepplin, Queen, etc.  To have Paul there was AWESOME!  I am still not sure what "Hey Jude" has to do with British History or the Olympics, but if you add that song to the Nigerian dancers and the boogie antics of the Independent Olympic Athletes, I KNOW we could have world peace!  I was just a little sad about Paul's performance because there were no other Beatles with him.  I would have loved to have seen Ringo up there, too.  And I think, since Paul played "Hey Jude", it would have been cool to include Julian, too...but it was still amazing without them.  One thing that was NOT amazing was the fact that the US Olympic Team DID NOT KNOW THE WORDS TO "HEY JUDE"!!!!  Normally, I applaud our ability to maintain pride in our independence from Great Britain...but "Hey Jude"??  It is a classic!  And if you can nail the six primary words (Na na na na Hey Jude), you can sing along with the whole world!  Just sad (and it made me feel VERY old, until I noticed all three of my teenagers singing, it must not be was just poor parenting by the athletes parents!  I mean, WHO doesn't expose their kids to the Beatles???...rant over....back to the post)

In all seriousness, it was pure brilliance to end with Sir Paul McCartney singing such an loved song!  As I looked around at all the nations there, though....nations like Canada, Fiji, Belize, Hong Kong, Jamaica, Kenya, the United States...singing along, I could not help noticing how many used to be British Colonies.  And I began to think Paul should have instead sang....

You Say You Want a Revolution.....!!  

All in all, the ceremonies were great!  And everyone, from every nation, all over the world participated and seemed to overwhelmingly enjoy the festivities.  Well....everyone but one....

But, hey, let's give her the benefit of the doubt.  Maybe parachuting into the stadium was  just too tickety boo for her.

Let the Games begin!


Alice said...

haha! good post, jill. i have to say - you were the best part of the opening ceremony last night! and a reference to your screech - i grew up in newfoundland - yep - i had dual citizenship for years! and i never heard of screech. i learned about it here. in your post. but i DO know the words to Hey, Jude! hahaha!