Friday, February 7, 2014

Opening Ceremony - Tears, Spinning, and Too Much Patchwork



Welcome to my new readers who found the blog! Please check back every day to see my post about the previous day's events in the 2014 Winter Olympics. Tonight I give to you a "live" blog of the Opening Ceremony in Sochi. I kept myself free from spoilers, so the reactions are genuine.

Here we go y’all!


6:30 Narrated by Peter Dinklage (“Winter is coming.” Ah, I see what you did there. Clever NBC), we see Russians that aren’t Vladimir Putin. Clearly we are trying to get America to remember that there’s a ton more Russians than the guy we see all the time.


6:34 Moving to Olympic athletes, we turn to the overhyped. Oh - I learned who “discovers” (and exploits) talent for NBC. Her name is Amanda Doyle. She is now my arch enemy.


6:33 Finally, a highlight of Sochi itself. Yes, it’s in the southern part of Russia.


6:38 I keep thinking they talk about “Fish Olympic Stadium.” It’s Fisht. I’m just going to call it Fish. It kinda looks like a fish rising out of the water.


6:39 The writers at EW.com decided Bob Costas is in Elsa’s ice palace. I’m okay with that. Just watch out for the ice monster with the sick tiara.


6:40 I’m kind of sick of how NBC is continuing to provide the “entire story” about the politics between Russia and America throughout the Games. Sorry, but I’m just here on your channel to watch sports. If I wanted to hear about the politics, I’d go to CNN or FoxNews of MSNBC. Oh wait - MSNBC is showing the Olympics. I won’t go there for my politics.


6:47 Bob is interviewing President Obama. Isn’t there an American athlete NBC should be overhyping?


6:50 Bob needles Obama, saying that even though Obama wanted to improve our relationship with Russia, it has deteriorated and Putin is actually the one in charge. Zing!


6:59 The Sochi circus - the stuff of my nightmares.


7:03 Shani Davis is being interviewed. Oh my gosh those sweaters are even worse in a group.


7:04 SJ Shaun White has allowed his hair to return back to his “tomato” color. Last year it was black, and I saw when he was appearing in a commercial, a child asked him, “Isn’t your hair red? What happened?”


7:11 APOLO!!!!!!!!!!! Still looking great. My Winter Olympic crush. (I kinda feel like I’m cheating on Michael Phelps, my Summer Olympics crush.)


I am enjoying these Opening Ceremonies with my large froyo from Yo Craze! Yesterday was National Frozen Yogurt Day, and they gave away 6oz free! I saved it for tonight! Cake batter froyo with mini Reese’s pieces, crushed Reese’s peanut butter cup, chocolate chips, and chocolate sauce!


7:16 And so it FINALLY begins! With children’s stories and the Cyrillic alphabet. I heard parachute!


7:20 Someday NBC will have an option to mute the commentators. Maybe I’ll just make an app for that. I would make MILLIONS.


7:21 NINE time zones?!


7:22 Those sets are extraordinary. I loved how it was said these Opening Ceremonies would be “more Beijing, less Torino.”


7:26 The guy who helped create this Opening Ceremony lives in Brooklyn and works on Broadway shows, including “Spiderman: Turn off the Dark.” The acrobatics make more sense now, huh?


7:25 Too much fog. Can’t see anything!


7:26 One flower doesn’t open up. Four rings instead of five. Oops! Well, they can’t all be Beijing. (Do you agree, Vancouver-three-legs-of-cauldron-go-up-instead-of-four?)


7:29 Do we really have to have the French? Can’t the IOC finally decide that English should be the official language? Sorry Pierre de Coupertin, but more people speak English than French.


7:29 Russian national anthem. I do really like it, and this men’s choir is knocking it out the park. (Better than the group that sang at the Closing Ceremonies in Vancouver.) And they are wearing long coats - take off the ties and they’re the Twelfth Doctor!


7:31 Reminder to tell the students: White on top, blue in the middle, red on the bottom.


7:32 “Guess what, you’re going to be in the Opening Ceremony!”
“Really? That’s awesome! What will I do?”
“You’ll be a giant pumpkin light bulb.”


7:33 Waving flag! Nice touch pumpkin light bulbs.


7:36 Parade of Nations!!! The athletes are going to march out of their country? Cool!! Technology is awesome.


7:37 And we start with Greece. Proud to be Greek!!


7:38 We’re really going to have to keep an eye out for what’s next. With the order of countries based on the host nation’s alphabet, the Cyrillic alphabet is the smallest bit of crazy: enough that it will jump around only enough to make you confused. (We go from B to M?)


7:40 Who dressed the ladies in the country nameplates? Bialystock and Bloom? (name the reference and you get a shout-out in tomorrow’s Blurb!)


7:41 First London, now here: the choice to have techno music for the entrance music of the athletes is something that I LOVE. I still listen to the techno entrance music that London used, and I still think it’s fantastic!


7:45 United Airlines: reminding people how awesome Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” really is!


7:46 Jacques Rogge is no longer IOC president? He’s been there as long as I can remember! He’s like the David Stern of the IOC. (Wait - David Stern’s not the NBA Commissioner anymore? He’s like the Bud Selig of the NBA! WAIT…!)


7:47 Does Bermuda ever get sick of wearing those shorts at every Opening Ceremony?


7:48 Brazil’s delegation is just 17, but they are hosting the next Summer Olympics. Someone pay for me to go!!!


7:49 Team GB is looking dapper. My Anglophenia is showing. Doctor Who! Sherlock! Downton Abbey! Gavin and Stacey! DOCTOR WHO!


7:50 That Venezuelan flagbearer is my current favorite.


7:51 Whoever the guy is that is doing commentary with Matt and Meredith is really a downer. Someone get Brian Williams or Richard Engel up there STAT. At least they have a personality.


7:55 Germany’s colors are yellow, green, and blue? Wait…


7:56 Hong Kong - in seventh grade I did my major Social Studies project on Hong Kong, right before they got sucked back into China in 1999.


7:57 Denmark ladies have awesome boots.


7:58 Dominica? Where is that? Is that different from the Dominican Republic?


7:59 Did you notice that the athletes are being rerouted every time? One gate opens and the country goes to the right, then the gate changes and the next country goes to the left. Since they come out the middle, they don’t actually do the entire loop! It does make it go a little quicker.


8:00 Ireland - that’s an ugly green. You hold the monopoly on green, and you choose that shade?


8:01 Spain! They’re going to help me win my medals competition, especially figure skater Javier Fernandez. He’s my main man!


8:02 Italy’s uniforms - so normal. Why can’t the US’s outfits be that normal? Is that a crime?!?


8:03 One of my favorite things about the Winter Opening Ceremonies is watching those Equatorial countries - Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Zimbabwe - come in with their one or two athletes. Good for them.


8:08 Sandis Ozolins is still playing hockey in Latvia? I remember hating him when he played for the Avalanche - and I think his last name was spelled differently back then! (Ozolinch?)


8:10 Lithuania’s flagbear is just as excited as the Venezualan guy was.


8:10 It never fails - I see Lichtenstein, and I think A Knight’s Tale. “Sir UUUUUUUUUlrich von LICHTENSTEIN!!!!!!!!!!!”


8:11 Finally finished my froyo. Man that was good.


8:12 I have a student from Mexico - I hope she’s watching as Humbertus von Hohenlohe comes in with the flag and is saying, “That’s not a Spanish name!” I was still excited to tell her that Mexico did have an athlete in the Winter Games!


8:13 Independent Olympic Participants - their IOC membership was suspended, though I’m glad they let the athletes compete.


8:14 Waitwaitwaitwait, the flagbearer from Nepal has the last name of Sherpa? That can’t be right.


8:15 The Netherlands - another country I am rooting for in my medal competition! Go Orange! (My students were really confused when I said their colors were red, white, and blue.)


8:21 New Zealand - like Lord of the Rings. (another Guess-the-Quote!) Love that fur cape.


8:23 Seriously, these signbearers look like a Star Trek alien lady that would make out with Captain Kirk!


8:23 I’ve heard that international athletes are studying at the University of Colorado twice already! I was just on that campus last night. Is God trying to tell me something? (They do have a great masters program in music.)


8:25 South Korea - speed skating rivals. They are to me like Canadian hockey is to Americans. South Korea is the next host of the Winter Olympics in 2018.


8:25 You know, I don’t think they’re fast-forwarding through countries like they’ve done in the past. Maybe that’s just for the Summer Games? I don’t know - but if it’s taped-delayed, might as well show them all!


8:27 My cable glitched just briefly. I just yelled at my TV: “DON’T. EVEN.”


8:27 I love watching NHL players carrying the flag. Zdeno Chara is waving it around for Slovakia.


8:29 Wow. There are a LOT of Americans. They come at you with those sweaters and it’s like POW. I really love the athlete’s view camera they have. If I could do anything in the whole world, it would be to walk into an Opening Ceremony. Todd Lodwick has a penguin in his pocket! There’s gotta be a story about that. He looks so happy.


8:30 So much patchwork! It’s making me dizzy!


8:31 Poor Heidi Kloser. She got hurt yesterday in moguls qualifying. She’s hobbling in with crutches. That takes guts.


8:32 They have totally overtaken the poor signbearer. Geez give the woman some room. She looks like a freakin’ planet on heels!


8:34 So many GoPro cameras that are super tiny but have a great HD action camera.


8:35 Figure skaters with skiers with hockey players with speedskaters with snowboarders. I LOVE THE OLYMPICS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GO AMERICA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


8:36 And the pumpkin liners are still dancing away.


8:37 I have a friend out here in Colorado that reminds me a lot of SJ Shaun White.


8:38 Little does NBC know that they are showing a future superstar in their USA crowd shots. Eat that Amanda Doyle.


8:39 Maleficent trailer. Angelina Jolie was born for that part. Can’t wait for that movie - Sleeping Beauty is my favorite classic Disney movie.


8:41 Vanessa May: internationally renowned violinist and Olympian. The best of both worlds. If only we were all that fortunate.


8:42 Welcome Togo and Tonga! Both countries are sending athletes here for the first time. Even if the Tonganese athlete changed his name to the name of his sponsor. (Not joking.)


8:44 I love that they come out of the tunnel in a blazing white light and fog. It’s like they’re emerging from Gallifrey or something. Some of these outfits would fit right in with the Time Lords. (Oh my goodness - I am picturing Time Lords marching in the Opening Ceremony. It’s glorious!)


8:46 One of my students taped the French flag on his desk. I don’t know why, but I thought it was cool.


8:47 Matt and Meredith finally give props to the pumpkin dancers.


8:48 Czech Republic! My third and final team in the medals competition! I picked them for sentimental reasons - I’ve been there (Prague and Pilsen, if you weren’t reading my blog back then) and it was amazing. I would love to go back!


8:49 Switzerland - the giant medical contingent! Oops - I need to invert the colors. My mistake.


8:50 Estonia - the best flag colors: white, black, and a beautiful blue.


8:51 Jamaica!!! “Sanka, ya dead?” “Ya, mon.” I can root for these guys in the Winter - not in the Summer, though. Sorry Usain Bolt.


8:52 “Here come the Russians.” In any other context that would be terrifying.


8:53 The music the Russians are marching in to sounds like “We Will Rock You.” Hm…


8:54 Meredith just informed us the song is called “Not Gonna Get Us.” I think we may hear that a lot over the loudspeakers in each arena. It’s catchy.


8:55 The “artistic” portion of the Ceremony starts with a video. I was fast-forwarding though it, thinking it was another trailer for Darren Arnofsky’s not-great-CGI movie Noah. Oops.


8:57 This video should be called “Let’s gloss over all of Russia’s nasty history and show lots of people smiling.”


9:00 Those spirit horses are awesome.


9:02 Russian architexture, thanks to the Eastern Orthodox churches. Those colors be cray-cray. (Okay, I’ll stop.)


9:03 Some of those tall creatures with the long arms reminds me of Howl’s Moving Castle. Anyone agree? They scare me. Where’s Howl when you need him to spirit you away and make you not feel like an old lady? (Great movie - go find it on Netflix.)


9:05 The buildings are floating and make St. Peter’s Cathedral! Should have known that would happen.


9:06 The screens on the floor are incredible. The guys with Peter the Great really look like they’re on the ship. Once again: technology is awesome.


9:09 I am glad that Sochi is doing as much pageantry as the Summer Olympics. Hopefully people will stop thinking of the Winter Games as the “little brother” and start thinking of them on the same plane as the Summer Games. I already do!


9:12 Finally, some Russian ballet! Apparently at one time the entire touring Russian ballet ran off with some rich dude named Bruce Wayne. It was quite a scandal in Gotham City.


9:14 I’ll be kind of honest - this makes me want to read War and Peace.


9:15 Anyone else notice that the music overpowers the commentators? I am not minding at all!


9:16 That guy is doing double twists in the air without skates to give him speed! Props!


9:21 The steam train - goodbye decadence, hello Communism.


9:24 I prefer how Great Britain showed the Industrial Revolution over Russia’s interpretation.


9:28 Do you think the audience is kept up to speed on why things are happening on the stage? Are they told, “And this is the section where we remember those lost in the World Wars”? Or do they have to wait till they get back to their DVRs?


9:29 Twenty bucks says the cosmonaut program gets a big showing.


9:30 Well that didn’t take long! Not as much as I would think, but I guess they would have covered that in 1980. (Sorry to pour salt in an open wound, baby boomers.)


9:33 There were go-go dancers in Russia?


9:34 The cameras in cars is a great touch. More! More!


9:38 “Our games will be cool…” That is the first time anyone has said that phrase in an official speech.


9:39 In just his greeting, Thomas Bach has already showed he is way more personable than Jacques Rogge ever was. (I think I’m gonna like this guy! Even if his last name is Bach.)


9:40 “Cheer after every sentence!” “Woo!”


9:41 Bach thanks the politicians for supporting the athletes. Did you know American athletes are not supported by the US government? It is entirely sponsor-supported. (I learned that last week on my field trip!) There’s only a handful of other countries that can boast that.


9:44 Shut up, Matt, you’re interrupting Bach!


9:45 The fringe ballet spinning is a great effect. They kind of remind me of jumping jellyfish!


9:46 She’s still spinning. I think it’s been two minutes since she started.


9:50 Wait - this is the smaller flag? Where’s the big one?
Just looked it up. The Oslo flag is used in the Winter Games, and the Seoul flag is used in the Summer Games.


9:53 Time for the Olympic song! (Well, the official one.) It’s a great song, but most of the time it’s way overdone. The past two Winter Games it’s been sung by an opera singer. It should be presented in a simpler manner. The song also has the most abrupt ending!


9:59 That Liberty Mutual commercial with the 1980 hockey team, Kerri Strug, and Dan Jansen - that is my favorite commercial right now.


10:01 They’re playing Tron:Legacy music!!!!!!!! Even Russians know that Daft Punk is awesome.


10:02 Y’know, I was beginning to wonder if they would cover any sports in the ceremony. This is pretty neat. Although those kinds of marionettes haunt my nightmares too.


10:04 Which marionette shoots out the flame? The hockey guy. These guys mean business.


10:09 The Olympic torch looks like a giant flaming sword. If Maria doesn’t watch it her hair is gonna catch on fire!


10:10 Maria Sharapova hands it off to a familiar face (for me, who watches track and field all the time), Yelena Isinbayeva, Russian pole vaulter!


10:11 Next is Alexander Karelin, AKA The Guy Who Lost To Rulon Gardener in 2000. That was a big moment. He’s not as light on his feet as the ladies are.


10:12 Next, a rhythmic gymnast. Meh.


10:14 Hey, it’s that Soviet goalie that lost to Herb Brook’s team! Somewhere Mike Eruzione is smirking.


10:15 Aw, all the performers get to line up for the flame! That’s so neat! What a great treat for them. I think this is my favorite part!


10:20 Sorry - I had to watch that without doing any typing. I am crying right now, guys. Big, fat tears streaming down my face. The performers lined up, they leave Fish Stadium, and all of a sudden, Igor Stravinsky’s “Firebird” comes on. Firebird?!?!?! You mean, the piece I daydreamed I would dance to in my gold-medal winning figure skating free program? The one I’ve loved since Fantasia 2000? Once that came on, I knew I was going to lose it.


I have listened to that piece so much that I knew exactly how the flame would be lit. And it went exactly. As. Planned. The music swells at the perfect times and just is PERFECT for this type of event. The flame sparked all the way up the cauldron, and I was sobbing. I rewound the DVR and watched it again and started sobbing all over again.


Scratch what I said earlier - that was my favorite part of the night. And that is now my favorite lighting of the Olympic cauldron EVER.


Excuse me - I’m going to watch it again.


10:28 Finally, some Nutcracker love!


10:29 That is a beautiful cauldron. With the arching cauldron surrounded by the water fountains


10:27 Royal Caribbean cruise web series featuring Gabby Douglas, Tom Daley (!) and IAN THORPE?! The Thorpedo himself?! I may have to watch that.


And we’re finished. I am going to get a couple hours of sleep before watching men’s Slopestyle finals at 2am. Then I’ll go to sleep and maybe wake up for men’s speedskating at 4:30am. We’ll see - I’m taking NyQuil tonight because of my bad cold, so I may not wake up till the morning. We’ll see!


Hold one - I gotta see if that dancer from Swan Lake is still spinning...yes, she is.