Friday, August 8, 2008

Live Blogging the Opening Ceremony (Tape Delayed)

12:00 — This was a great show. It was beautiful and jaw-dropping at the same time. Congrats to the organizers and all the people who performed. We can't wait to get there and be part of that energy.

11:56 — Just realized it's been awhile since there were any commercials. At least a half hour. I guess NBC doesn't suck totally.

11:54 — Now the fireworks really get going. Angie and I intend to be outside the stadium for the closing ceremonies to get as close a view of this kind of show as we can.

11:53 — The fact that the torch itself kind of appeared out of nowhere is pretty cool. The flaming arrow still wins though.

11:51 — It will be interesting to see how they finish this. The Barcelona flaming arrow shot across the stadium will be hard to beat — still the best in my opinion.

11:49 — ...and up he goes to make a running circuit of the upper inner ring of the stadium roof, with the scrolling paper unrolling in front of him.

11:48 — Here we go. The final torchbearer is hooked up to cables...

11:43 — What an honor it must be to carry the flame into and around the stadium in your home country.

11:42 — The flame enters the arena. I'm all goosebumpy.

11:37 — Now let's light this candle and get it rocking.

11:37 — And the game are official! Cue the fireworks!

11:30 — The painting. What an incredible idea to have a painting brought to life by the footsteps of the marching athletes. I really hope that it is on display somewhere so that Angie and I can see it up close when we get there. Simply a great concept and illustration on how all these diverse people are both great as individuals — their singular footsteps leaving a mark — and even more powerful as a group — their collective footsteps creating a rainbow of color and completing the painting that the Chinese started at the beginning of the ceremony.

11:26 — Really weird to have what sounds like Mexican music playing behind the Chinese team's march around the stadium. 639 members of the Chinese team.

11:22 — Nice shot of Yao and a little boy running along side him, a 9-year old survivor of the earthquake. Awesome story about him going back into the rubble to look for classmates because he was a class leader.

11:21 — And finally, China. A dramatic pause, the flag still flying, and here comes Yao Ming as the flag bearer. He's freakin' huge!

11:20 — Australia enters. 450 athletes — one of the biggest teams by far. No sign of LJ yet. And they are off. That was quick.

11:18 — Aussies on the way!

11:16 — I love Morgan Freeman (another Visa commercial).

11:14 — Nowitzki with the rings cut into his hair. Nice touch.

11:11 — The Serbs aren't lacking in the hot quotient either. Maybe I'm getting a little punchy after nearly 4 hours of this.

11:04 — Not to be stereotypical, but damn the Swedes have some hotties on their team.

11:01 — Wow, North Korea gets a warm welcome. I have to say that when the North and South Koreans marched in together for the first time at the last Olympics (or maybe it was a two Olympics ago), it was a powerful moment. It would have been nice to see that again.

10:57 — They are talking about the mingling groups of athletes who have marched in and taken their places. The colors of all the uniforms are mixing a bit so that each group is not all that distinct. You see shots of athletes getting together and taking photos of one another. Everyone has smiles on their faces, truly happy to be a part of something this huge. This really is what the Olympics is all about and it is something I hope Angie and I can experience in some way in the stands with fans from all over the world.

10:53 — Okay, another new country for me: Kiribati. My knowledge of island countries seems to be lacking.

10:49 — Is this a Dino Rossi commerical or Papa Murphy's? They could be twins. Oh, and Rossi is a tool. No Olympic truce for me baby.

10:44 — Bush, try not to look so bored. Looks like he would be happy with a beer and some peanuts in a cup.

10:41 — Angie's giving up the ghost and heading to bed.

10:39 — Okay, enough with the NBA players. They've shown them like 8 times. We get it already. Sheesh.

10:38 — I like the US team logo. Looks like uplifted wings above the Olympic rings. Might have to pick me up some Team USA gear once we get there.

10:37 — Lisa Leslie and Tina Thompson get some screen time.

10:35 — The US enters and gets a good cheer. It's only courteous to be nice to the people who you lend money to.

10:35 — Okay, I'm losing Angie. The soft sound of snoring is wafting up from the other side of the couch.

10:33 — First country I've never heard of: Comoros. Looked like an island north of Madagasgar.

10:28 — Poland with the mother of the bride dresses. Ouch.

10:27 — France, where's Carla Bruni? 

10:20 — GINOBLI!

10:19 — Halfway point? I guess it takes awhile for 204 countries to march in.

10:08 — Fashion mistake by Hungary and the pant suits worn by their female athletes — looks like they are all victims of horrible stabbing attacks.

9:52 — Just heard that the order of the countries is based on the number of brush strokes used to write the Chinese character representing the country. It makes for confusing order, but it is kind of cool nonetheless.

9:51 — Back from commercials. I like that NBC is showing each country at least a little bit so that even though the broadcast is broken up by commercials all the countries get screen time.

9:47 — So they talk about "country hopping" in which athletes go from country to country to find the ones with the lax citizenship requirements in order to get to the Olympics, and then didn't mention Becky Hammon.

9:38 — So Chicago is up against Rio, Madrid and Tokyo for the 2016 games. Hmmm.

9:34 — Nice, Taiwan gets a big cheer.

9:23 — I like the graphics at the bottom of the screen. They list the current country entering the stadium and have the upcoming countries listed since there is no real order to the entries. Certainly not English alphabetical. 

9:20 — I love how many athletes are carrying cameras, trying to capture as much of this experience as they can. Just underscores how big this is not only to the spectators, but to the athletes too.

9:19 — The athletes enter! Greeks first, China last. Still, the Chinese flag flies with its own wind source.

9:16 — Just had to sit and watch that. Two singers, one English and one Chinese singing the theme song for the games atop the globe while pictures of smiling children on the massive screen around the top of the stadium and thousands of images held up by performers on the stadium floor. One world, one dream.

9:09 — Another jaw dropping moment — a massive globe is coming up out of the arena floor. It has to be 50 or 60 feet tall, if not taller. There are people running around it and each is perpendicular to the globe so that each looks like he is standing on the surface even if they are at the "equator" or southern hemisphere. They are tethered in some way as they run and do handstands. Incredible and a fantastic visual.

9:08 — Now we're getting all spacey. I really like that the crowd has small flickering lights to add to the star-like atmosphere.

9:06 — We're leaving in 2 days and it's still a little unreal that we will be sitting in that arena in just a few days.

9:04 — They run around, the perfect circles become chaotic and then in a flash the massive circles reform out of the joined efforts of the individual dancers.

9:01 — Pressure's off I guess. Now there are 2008 Tai Chi performers at work. Nice camera shot from above showing the precision spacing and structure created by the performers' bodies. Again, the individuals combine to make something much larger when seen as a communal (pun intended) whole.

8:58 — A Tai Chi demonstration. Just a few performers doing Tai Chi amidst gauze-like screens with video projected on them. Unlike some of the other performances that utilized thousands of people, to have just a few perform this has to put incredible pressure on the few, especially since Tai Chi is something that so many Chinese know how to do it. You'd better be a master to be doing it on this stage.

8:55 — For crying out loud. More commericals. I want to kick Bob Costas in the nuts. Just let us watch the show.

8:54 — Okay, this is nothing short of incredible. The performers have constructed a human replica of the Birdcage stadium. The people of China have come together to create this place out of themselves and it is beautiful.

8:52 — It's almost of sea of light particles flowing around the arena floor, undulating and forming images. Now the lights are turning on and off  — has to be computer controlled. Yet another example of massive people power joined in harmony with high technology.

8:50 — Jumping ahead to a much more high tech section. Hundreds of performers in body suits surround a pianist. WHOA — they are all lit up with lights on their suits, and it looks like they are all networked like the earlier sets of performers.

8:48 — More fireworks taking us to commercial. I think the NBC broadcast has a lot more commercials than the CBC broadcast. Not a little more — a lot more. It feels more choppy and the commentators aren't doing as good a job describing what is happening on the arena floor as the CBC commentators. NBC tools.

8:45 — This show needs to be seen with the widest angles so that you can see the whole tapestry, but also zoomed in to see the amazing costumes. The performers on the stage now are in incredibly detailed and colorful dresses. Now the LED screen has been expanded to 500 feet as huge red and gold columns rise from the floor.

8:33 — Blooming flowers come out of the type characters. Beautiful, and then the tops pop off and the people power driving the display is revealed as each person under the grid gets to wave to the crowd. Each of these segments are really hitting on the contrasts that China represents - tradition vs modernism, the force of sheer numbers of people vs the power of the highest technology.

8:30 — More tradition juxtaposed with the modern. I giant moveable type grid with digital displays to either side while performers chant and drum in the background.

8:28 — Okay, I absolutely love the Visa Go World commericals. They have completely nailed what it is that makes the Olympics so special. We cheer because we are human and when the athletes succeed, we all succeed.

8:23 — Matt Lauer says it's a giant LED screen that is a couple hundred feet long. Cool.

8:20 — Is that a giant digital scroll of paper being unrolled on the stadium floor? Again, how are they doing that? And now doing calligraphy with dancers' bodies? Wow.

8;19 — Commercials. Sorry Ford, 25 miles to the gallon is NOT fuel efficient. Bastards.

8:17 — The Chinese national anthem. You get the feeling that the people had better know the words? And did they have a special fan to make the flag fly and ripple like that once it got to the top of the pole?

8:15 — A shot of Putin and Bush talking to each other. How about watching the adorable little kids with the big flag you jerks. At least the kids handed the flag off to some jack-booted soldiers — something Bush and Putin can understand.

8:12 — That is freaking awesome. The Olympic rings rising up off the floor of the stadium in what I'm sure will be one of many "how the hell did they do that" moments.

8:11 — The fireworks begin. I expect a lot from them with the fireworks.

8:07 — Okay, the lighted drum sticks was a nice touch. I really like what seems to be a theme at work — traditional Chinese culture enhanced with high technology. Ancient drums, having just recently been discovered in an archeological dig, networked together with lights and turned into pixels on a world stage. I think we may be seeing more of this.

Oh, and please forgive any spelling errors. I'm not spellchecking this as I go and it's my first attempt at live blogging something, even if it really isn't live.

8:04 — The drummers reciting Confucius, welcoming everyone. Seeing the precision and synchronicity between 2008 performers is amazing. It's also great see them close up and to see the joy on some of their faces. For exciting it is for us, this has to be incredible for these people.

8:02 — so we're off by 6 minutes since they started at 8:08. Fantastic countdown with the crowd counting out with the digital drummer display. Just for the record, I would have given my left nut to be in the arena right now.

8:00 — 2008 drummers, synched with lights getting the countdown started. They look like a giant LED sign with huge pixels. Angie says its a seizure waiting to happen. Now they are counting down the seconds...

7:59 — HERE WE GO!

7:58 — Here's one big difference between the CBC and NBC broadcast — President Bush is getting more face time than the Chinese president.

7:52 — Ahhhh, more commericals. I JUST WANT IT TO START.

7:50 — I like the analogy the NBC China expert used to describe this as China's moon shot — a huge risk that they've put everything into and needing success.

7:49 — The show cost $300 million and features 15,000 performers. Holy crap.

7:48 — Costas!

7:46 — Freaking commercials. I'm already tired of the anti-Dino Rossi spots. Not because I'm a republican, but they are just annoying.

7:39 — Brokaw is giving an overview of what the Chinese have done to get ready, going all the way back to 1971 and "ping pong" diplomacy.

7:35 pm — the show is about to start, tape delayed half a day plus three hours. We actually just finished watching Australia beat Belarus on Angie's laptop in the first round of women's basketball pool play. Go Lauren!

We watched a good portion of the ceremonies this morning on CBC at the gym and while getting ready for work. The Canadians, of course, kept the cameras on their team when they entered the arena. The US got about as much attention as everyone else. It's always fun to see the differences between the Canadian broadcasts and the US version.


Shed said...

I agree with you about Costas, he must be the son of some well known person. I don't know how many big events I've seen him on only to seem like an unknowledgable person.

NBC to CBC - somewhere a couple of hours got lost. I can only imagine what you missed out on with the Sydney OC.

OMG a LED roll out screen. Does everybody have any idea how much that would cost?

Just a little bit of history - the English singer use to be married to Andrew Lloyd Webber. You know of Jesus Christ Superstar, Phantom of the Operas fame. Anyway a lot of people think she's famous just because of him.

Ok I'm starting to think I would have been better watching the broadcast this morning because Australia comes out 203rd. This is where it comes in handy NBC cuts there broadcast...taking into account we see Australia.

Shed said...

Wow Central Africa Republic, never heard of it but it has an impressive flag.

The Central African Republic (CAR), borders Chad in the north, Sudan in the east, the Republic of the Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the south, and Cameroon in the west.

That's what you call landlocked.

Shed said...

I don't know about you Scott, but I love seeing the little countries that are represented by one or a few athletes. That's what the Olympics are all about.

Scott said...

I agree - seeing these small countries with one or two athletes. They all seem to be the happiest to be there.

Shed said...

If lost please report directly to Spain. You will soon be collected due the ability of not being able to miss them. Man, be sure not to wash those clothes with your whites.

Shed said...

BTW no sight of Santos with the entry of Brazil.

Scott said...

I did see Stepanova with the Russian team. No Hammon though.

Shed said...

Also saw CP and DMJ when the US entered. Don't mind the unis this time, much better than last time. I agree, enough of the men's bball team. There are much more interesting stories.

NickSports said...

I should be nice but Bush, the worst of all 43 Presidents.

Shed said...

I'm also watching the footage of the men's road race - cycling and the shots of the Great Wall are quite spectacular.

Scott said...

I can't get the video to work on my desktop Mac. Intel machines only. Feh.

Shed said...

Kiribati? NE of Aussieland.

Lara said...

I second that emotion on Sweden. Their idea of diversity is having a brunette on their team.

Shed said...

The Koreans marched together for the first time at the Sydney Olympics. Unfortunately talks fell apart a few days ago which lead to them marching apart.

Sweden - aren't they basically only one of a few countries that have true blondes left?

Shed said...

Umm did I miss Australia? ;) Bloody hell!

Lara said...

Dirk with the Olympic rings!

Scott said...

I've watched the whole thing and haven't seen AUS yet.

Shed said...

Was only kidding. Here they come. Yay!!

Lara said...

I think the basketball team voted not to walk in the opening. Too long of a night before an early game, which has already taken place which is weird to think about.

Shed said...

There was no way the Opals were going to march due to their early 9am game. Bugger! Not impressed with their uni.

Shed said...

Barcelona arrow? No way it didn't come anywhere near the flame to light it. Sorry but I may be slightly biased, but the flame coming up through the water in Sydney was pretty spectacular. Too bad it stopped for a while on the way up.

Scott said...

True, the Sydney torch lighting was very impressive, but the flaming arrow (on target or not) blew me away.