Friday, August 08, 2008

Liveblogging the Olympic Opening Ceremonies -- Refresh frequently

10:49 Aaaaaaaaaand, I'm going to call it. Time of death of this liveblog -- 10:49. Almost made it three hours. I simply cannot take another cheesy ad, nor can I endure any more of Lauer and Costas's banter.

10:43 Now that USA is past, really the only thing anyone's waiting for is China and then the Torch.

10:37 Costas believes USA will face tough competition from China. Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity label Costas unpatriotic.

10:36 USA! USA! USA! USA!

10:35 All-out warfare in Russia/Georgia...the Olympians don't know it, but President Putin does. (Except this was all 12 hours ago, so I imagine they know it by now.)

10:34 Jim4 and KT both remark on the stamina of the cheerleaders. Those poor girls must be exhausted.

10:30 US is coming up. Why does Puerto Rico have its own team? (I mean, I guess if Guam does, PR can, but that's weird... Did you know there's a movement to get Washington, DC, its own Olympic team?)

10:29 What the hell is Poland wearing? Bad call.

10:26 The US is 20 countries away at this point.

10:24 I am not kidding. I'm seriously considering either abandonment/surrender of the liveblog or at least a little break for a nap.

10:20 Costas says we're halfway through the Parade of Nations. I die a little on the inside.

10:17 The bagpipes, my God, the bagpipes!

10:15 I think it would be cool to be one of the researchers who feed Costas and Lauer their Parade of Nations Fun Facts®.

10:12 Effing Guam. Why did I not trust my instinct on "Millionaire"? IT'S GUAMANIAN! If only I had that time machine...

10:08 Costas gets pessimistic-er and pessimistic-er. I know it's a reality that many of the athletes will go home...with nothing. But there's still hope right now, right?

10:05 You go, Liechtenstein!

10:01 Here's what we know: the US is about 2/3 of the way through the Parade of Nations. Here's what we also know: We have not yet seen the US. Therefore, we are not even 2/3 of the way through. I am fading fast.

9:58 Canada didn't win any medals at either of the two Olympics it has hosted.

9:57 Lauer's head snapped when he heard Alexis Arguello was going to carry the flag for Nicaragua. (I'm sorry -- his head snapped?)

9:56 I realize that Joshua has been killed, abducted, or otherwise disappeared. What gives?

9:54 President Bush checks his watch, Mrs. Bush looks embarrassed. Admittedly, he's not the only one checking his watch. (Neither is she the only one who's embarrassed of her husband.)

9:45 Paraguay's flag is different on the front and back. I did not know this.

9:43 Something about soccer. I, and the rest of the world United States, do not care.

9:40 Sergei Bubka is a fun name to say. Sounds like bibbi babka.

9:37 Costas: "Benin probably won't win any gold medals at this Olympics. But they were the first ones to arrive at the Olympic Village..." So, there's that.

9:34 Japan has a 64-year-old Olympian! This is his second Olympics; his first was in 1964!

9:33 And now we've moved from bagpipes to mariachi. No comprendo.

9:32 "Jamaica: The Cradle of Sprinting," proclaims Costas.

9:31 Ecuador has a very promising racewalker.

9:28 Aaaaand commercials.

9:24:30 Malta's flagbearer looks as though she might cut you. Cut, or eat.

9:24 I am baffled, utterly baffled, by the presence of ... bagpipes?

9:23 The president of Turkmenistan approved the green, lapel-less dress uniforms.

9:21 Lauer, explaining the order, which is typically alphabetical: "There is no alphabet here. It goes on the number of strokes in the Chinese character that represents the country's name." Really, Matt? There is no alphabet here?

9:20 The Parade of Nations starts. Greeks first, host nation (China -- have you not been paying attention?) last.

9:19 Jim4 chimes in from some time in our recent past (DVR delay) to remark on the Tron-like starpeople costumes.

9:18 So. Many. Commercials!

9:16 I think we're done with the first part of the ceremony. Costas promises the Parade of Nations next.

9:13 The blush may have faded from the original Christine Daaé's rose, but she's still doing OK, and a sea of little kids faces great us. Awwwwwwwwwwwwesome!

9:12 Mu Huan and Sarah Brightman sing at the top of the globething.

9:11 People running, dancing, cartwheeling...sideways!

9:10 What your people call astronauts, my people call maize taikonauts.

9:07 Lauer's mouth writes another check I'm afraid his butt won't be able to cash. Something about how he'll tell us more on how that painting will have a much longer life than right now.

9:05 Où sont tous les athlètes olympiques? Is it not time for the Parade of Nations?

9:04 The Tai Chi guys are pretty cool. My mind is blown when the Tai Chi guys run in front of the camera. Gotta get DVR.

9:01 Josh and Matt expect us not to know what's going on right now. So Josh narrates about what the hell is going on. The message here is very clear: the harmony between man and nature, the harmony of the Tai Chi master is the only hope for the future of China. (2,008 Tai Chi masters do their thing around a bunch of school kids.)

9:00 Must Lauer continue to refer to the scrim as a "membrane"?

8:59 Ooh! Tai Chi!

8:58 Bank of America promotes their America's Cheer site, which I referenced before.

8:57 Milo comes out from under the couch to say hello. Quickly scampers back under the couch.

8:55 Commercials! Lots of those...even more than in the SuperBowl pregame.

8:54 Matt, Josh, and Bob are quiet as a dove made of starpeople turns into the birds nest. Costas points out a big kite, from which dangles a little girl nicknamed Chao Chao who, presumably voluntarily, is attached to the kite 100 feet over the stadium floor.

8:50 We have moved from ancient Chinese secrets to modern China and a very talented Chinese pianist named, I'm pretty sure, Long Long. (JJ's inappropriate commenting has rubbed off on me.)

8:48 I learn that the Joshua in question is someone named Joshua Cooper Ramo, one of China's leading foreign-born scholars.

8:46 Costas tells us this is China's "coming out party." Really. Lauer begins to ooh and ahh over the fashion show. Hmm.

8:41 Very dramatic music and sea imagery. I long for the Parade of Nations.

8:40 JJ signs off just as Lauer calls our attention to a membrane, or scrim, on which is projected an image of the sea.

8:38 A woman dances on a floor carried by a couple hundred dudes over their head. There is symbolism: one dancer being supported by many. Apparently, China is a land of contrasts: loud and soft, black and white, one and many, mushu and pork, szechuan and hunan, fortune and cookie.

8:37 Against my better judgment, I approve JJ's latest comment.

8:36 A check of the comments indicates that only my brother is tracking the liveblog so far. The Superbowl liveblog netted at least four or five followers. JJ is very focused on the headgear.

8:35 AHA!!! I KNEW IT WAS PEOPLE!!! (I'm like the guy in "Soylent Green.") Sorry if I spoiled that unintentionally.

8:34 And now the Great Wall, built as China tried to keep barbarians out. The Great Wall is brought down and replaced with cornflower, the Chinese symbol of openness.

8:33 I wonder if there are people standing up and sitting down inside the moveable type things.

8:31 Hooray, wind! Hooray, harmony! Josh tells us that President (Prime Minister? Head Dude?) Hu Jintao talks constantly about "ho-shwin-shwo-hay" (or whatever) -- the harmonious something something.

8:28 Confucius travels, as 810 disciples of Confucius appear with scrolls of some sort. Joshua tells us that Confucius lived 2500 years ago. Lauer provides an irrelevant piece of info about Chinese history...China invented paper and printing. Except not so relevant after all (tricky, Lauer!) as he introduces Chinese moveable printing blocks.

8:26 A Budweiser ad, hearkening back to the SuperBowl...

8:24 Lauer tells us the scroll is one of the world's largest LED screens. Also pretty cool.

8:22 A massive scroll unrolls as we are reminded that the three great brush arts of China are calligraphy, painting, and poetry. Dancer-tumblers are drawing on the scroll with their feet. Pretty cool.

8:20 Costas pessimistically advises us to "Get used to hearing the Chinese national anthem," as they're basically going to medal-screw everyone else for the next two weeks.

8:19 We sing the national anthem of China. Canada is the only other national anthem I know, so I do not sing along.

8:18 Hu Jintao, China's head of state, claps. I am reminded of the bad guy in Rush Hour (the first one), named Juntao.

8:17 From the children to the soldiers, the flag is passed. The unfamiliar voice, I learn, is named Joshua.

8:15 Fifty-six children, representing the 56 ethnic groups of China carry in a Chinese flag while an adorable little 9-year-old moppet sings a nice song. Awwwwww! President Bush and Vladimir Putin are talking to each other; Lauer surmises they're talking about the drummers, while I surmise they're talking about where the beer guy is.

8:12 I realize how much I've written already and decide to pace myself better. I still don't know who that other voice is, telling us about Buddhist iconography and the flying rainbow ladies.

8:11 Lauer invites us back to see the Footsteps of History, some computer animated something something.

8:10 Do Olympians really eat at McDonald's?

8:09:30 "It's time for a little sweat," and also "It's time to get busy," "It's time to do something you've never done before," and "It's time to dream big." "It's time to start. The Home Depot is proud to employ more Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls than any other company in the world." That's actually pretty cool.

8:09 Commercial break. The games of the 2008 Olympiad are brought to us by Budweiser, Visa, McDonald's, and The Home Depot.

8:08 "Awe-inspiring and perhaps intimidating," says Lauer, "but they told these performers earlier to smile and that would help take the edge off." Kind of a lame punchline to that three-minute promise, Matt.

8:07 So far, the drumpeople seem very well choreographed and in synch. I kind of wonder if the ones who screw up will be executed.

8:06 The drumpeople perform an elaborate drumdance while some voice I do not recognize tells us about Chinese history.

8:05 Matt Lauer and Bob Costas remark on the drummers' precision. Lauer promises: "We'll make note of their smiles later on."

8:04 Aaaaaand we're off: fireworks, flashes, colors, trumpet fanfare, a giant tribute to Johnny Cash.

8:03 They're counting down to something...using the drum people as counterdowners.

8:02 Just a little seizure.

8:01 Lots and lots of people on the field. Lots of blinking lights. I have a seizure.

7:59 I'm in place, the President of the US is in place, let's get it on.


jss said...

Those guys look like Marvin the Martian meets the Stormtroopers!

jss said...

Is it just me or does their headgear look like a Looney Tunes fake duck tail? You know, the feathers tied to a plunger....

jss said...

Ok, now that was cool! 3000 Zhang in the boxes!!!!

jss said...

I'm gonna sign off since my computer is in the other room. I'm missing half of it.

jss said...

I'm gonna sign off since my computer is in the other room. I'm missing half of it.

Jim4 said...

I now I'm on delay but the led people look like their from Tron

Jim4 said...

the poor dancing girls in the background are wearing down

JL said...

We totally would have been following and commenting but the tape delay messes that up! Well, that and we were at the movies. But let it be known that we are watching it on the Tivo right now and following your blog!!!

Meana said...

Very funny...although the city council liveblog is still my favorite. This was a nice guide as I watched the opening ceremony in about an hour 15 on the DVR!

Of course PR has their own team. It's the IOC, not the UN! So yes, PR, Guam and the Virgin Islands all have their own teams.

Anonymous said...

Why didn't you comment on the beautimous dresses the "hunkies" were wearing?? (I can say that 'cause I am one!!) Those dresses had to be the WORST!!!

And furthermore, what the heck WAS up with the bagpipes and the tune "Scotland, the Brave?!" Did Scotland even have a team?? If they did, I missed it!

Love, Lisa

JL said...

Jon and I managed to make the Parade of Countries into a game. We did over/under on how many athletes the countries had. My proudest moment was when I called the 275 athletes from Poland on the nose!!! Anyways, Jon won overall but it made watching it fun!

Anonymous said...

We enjoyed your comments on opening night. It was amazing how many of your thoughts were echoed at the 4516 Club.

M & D

Esmerelda said...

Okay- I learn do much about the world from this blog. I loved that you linked up to the DC Olympic Committee. Curiously, curling and racewalking seem like something I could do.


Anonymous said...

Now I feel so much less guilty for missing the ceremony! Your play-by-play has pretty much covered everything I would have noticed! Thanks for making the sacrifice!

Sarah said...

Did you hear that they found out the little girl who sang was actually a stand in for a less fortunate-looking girl?

SSS said...

In fact, I did hear that, and I thought the little girl who sang wasn't all that homely. And the girl who lip-synched was somewhat cartoonish.

Much like when C+C Music Factory featured the bullcrap Zelma Davis "visualizing" the vocal stylings of Martha Wash, who was also not all that homely.