From A to Zzzzz: a review of the Olympic opening cere-monotony

Every four years I look forward to the 3 1/2-hour-long Summer Olympics opening ceremony, as it — at least for one night — both unites the world and saves me from having to take an Ambien.

I want to see the Americans walk into the stadium, but it’d be easier to stay awake if they didn’t always put the USA toward the end. NBC does that for ratings. Or maybe it’s alphabetical order. Either way, it’s the one night of my life that I wish I were Albanian.

The ceremonies began on Friday, and should be over by the time you’re reading this. I kept dozing on and off during the telecast, but I sort of remember it being a very eccentric show full of fire, sheep and Queen Elizabeth. Then again, that could have just been another one of my perverted dreams.

Eventually, after 74 commercials informing me that GE is an official Olympic sponsor, and that GE technology assists the athletes, and that any medal won by an American is directly the result of GE innovation and NOT the athlete’s years of training or ability, team USA walked in. You could tell right away they were Americans, based on their French berets and Chinese-made uniforms.

Then they brought in the Olympic torch, which had endured a long, arduous journey, as Olympic torches are wont to do. Torch carriers paraded it past Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey and had a boat escort along the beautiful River Thames, past the historic Tower of London — all in an awe-inspiring scene reminiscent of the 2002 winter Olympics, when the torch passed through Grand Junction and my mother-in-law carried it along North Avenue past Grease Monkey.

The torch’s boat ride was especially cheesy, as NBC aired a live close-up feed of David Beckham captaining the vessel. (“GE’s advanced technology helps Olympic soccer players drive boats.”) I mentioned to Marie how ridiculous it was, but she told me to shut up, as she drooled, inching herself up closer to the screen. She’d find David Beckham attractive if he carried the torch on a tricycle, dressed like a clown.

For the ceremony’s finale, they brought in a wax figure from London’s Madame Tussaud’s wax museum. Either that or Paul McCartney has gotten Botox. He sang “Hey Jude” (and isn’t THAT a high-energy rocking party anthem), while strutting around, trying to get everyone to dance and sing with him. For their part, the young athletes assembled on the field responded with the type of enthusiasm you’d expect from a group of attractive 20-somethings who were just asked to dance to an old slow song by a weird-looking 70-year-old man.

Some, however, loved the opening ceremony. The reporter for The Associated Press described it as “brilliant” and “heart-racing.” Of course he did. He was there, in person, getting PAID to watch it. The Associated Press gave him free airfare, a luxurious hotel room, meals and an expense account on which to charge pints of ale. Put him here, I say, on my couch in Grand Junction, Colorado, and have him watch it on a small TV screen with no surround sound. Toss in a long day at work combined with sleep deprivation via the screaming, teething 9-month-old in the next room over.

Now do you think the ceremony is “heart-racing?” Well DO YOU, MR. AP REPORTER???

Sorry, I got carried away there with my jealousy. My point is that although the ceremony was lame for those of us watching on TV, the games themselves are something to behold. From exhaustive swimming races, to precise gymnastic routines, to the marathon, the talent and heart on display is remarkable. Frankly, I have no idea how these world-class athletes find the inner strength and stamina to excel.

I’m assuming it has something to do with GE.

Reach Steve Beauregard at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


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