August 2012: Farewell to the London Olympics 2012

Well, it has been too long.  Dust off triscribe a little and do a little blogging…

An Olympic wrap up (oh, come on, why not; it just ended this past Sunday night and surely we’re all still in Olympic withdrawal?).

Of course I got all excited for the the quadrennial (yep, I looked it up) craziness that is the Olympics. I kind of liked the mascots from Beijing and I really liked the mascots from Vancouver. Didn’t get into the London mascots – they do lack that furry cuteness thing that sells boatloads of products (see here for this Slate post on Olympic mascots). Guess the British Olympic Committee didn’t want to do the usual Lion and Unicorn thing?

On the other hand, the photo of Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt prancing with the mascots, after he won the gold – that was kind of funny and priceless.

The Opening Ceremony was definitely something weird and different. Director Danny Boyle bringing in the (fake) Queen to jump out of a helicopter with a parachute (along side Daniel Craig’s James Bond) – well – really?  Stunt doubles?  The Queen?  Oh well.  And, sure, I get that you want to celebrate Bond the British icon, but how silly to be timed before the next movie.

I did kind of liked the whole celebration of evolution of pastoral Britain to Industrial Revolution, with actor Kenneth Branagh  and odd performance arts stuff.

I was a little pissed with the NBC broadcast (they apparently cut a moment of silence and their context of explanations wasn’t very good).

And, I thought that it was weird that Danny Boyle chose to celebrate the British National Health Care system and British children’s literature (the latter was something I understood; the former – not really).  Like everybody else, I didn’t know what to make of the jumping in the bed kids (who are taken care of by the national health people and then somehow dream of … Voldemort. Nice of J.K. Rowling to make her appearance though).

The formal parade of nations was mostly fun, with the usual loads of useless trivia from Matt Lauer, Meredith Vieira, and Bob Costas; but I felt exhausted by watching those poor lines of volunteers drumming and dancing to any beat.  That the audio system kept blasting loads of British pop was a relief surely – Amy Winehouse, BeeGees, U2, Eric Clapton, etc., to keep those drummers’ energy going.  I really gave the Brits credit for having a pretty awesome soundtrack.

Rowan Atkinson as Mr. Bean? Really? But, not Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry?  And, the 1st presentation of many of the endless broadcast of the music from “Chariots of Fire.”

In the end, you couldn’t beat Sir Paul McCartney, who led the biggest sing along of “Hey Jude” at the end of the Opening Ceremony.  Although, really, Danny Boyle, all of that Opening Ceremony stuff made me want to watch “Trainspotting” again, versus the “Slumdog Millionaire” – the campy “We love the United Kingdom” and optimism and hope – it got to be a bit much and made me yearn for the crazy Scotland of “Trainspotting.”

On the other hand, Boyle did an impressive job of showing off the diversity of modern British demographics, with all the different people dancing and making the Opening Ceremony possible.

The Olympics itself was great stuff.  Criticizing NBC’s broadcast became something of a sport in and of itself.  I could pile on, but I’ll choose not to waste more of the Internet on that.

(oh, ok, some rambling here: hated the dubious amount of limited live stuff at the beginning of the Olympics; the schizophrenic “Here’s gymnastics/cycling/back to volleyball” rotation at night, even though I understand you’d rather not have us sit through five hours of a regular session of gymnastics by itself – but I hated how I had no context and no understanding of how, say, the British men won a bronze in gymnastics; and mindless storytelling and controversy generation – which was a shame, because when the story of an athlete was actually told, it got to be told well – and not just the American athletes’ stories).

If the primetime NBC coverage is going to be a highlights show, because everything already happened (you know, because of time zone differences), then please be a great highlights show, not a half-ass one.  I pretty much agreed with NPR’s Linda Holmes on her post on the coverage.

NY Times sports bloggers posted this great item of the US Swim team doing their own routine of Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe.”


I’m probably not going to be the first or last to say this, but the US Swim team is made up of some ridiculously attractive people. Hmm.

Sure, there was Michael Phelps and his drive for Olympics glory.  But, because this is triscribe, I especially got to give a hand to Lia Neal and Nathan Adrian for their Olympics swimming efforts.  Lia Neal is the 2nd African-American swimmer to make the team, but also half-Chinese (see here on the profile of her by NY Times’ William Rhoden – h/t: FC via Facebook); Neal probably is way more fluent in Chinese than most of us on triscribe, I’d hazard guessing.  Nathan Adrian is also half-Chinese. Hapas!

Oh, and other great Olympics stories: David Boudia, winning the gold after a terrible earlier round of diving; Ashton Eaton in the decathalon; Mo Farah in the long  distance running; Oscar Pistorius of South Africa and his amazing legs; and of course Gabby Douglas for winning all-around gold in women’s gymnastics – the first African-American woman to do this, with a Chinese-American coach (an American story indeed!).

It also never ceases to amaze me that the Olympics makes me pay attention to sports that I otherwise wouldn’t care about.  I caught snippets of the synchronized swimming; thought those water polo men were buff; and while I still don’t understand trampoline, BMX biking (which was kind of entertaining) or that other cycling stuff (looking at you, team pursuit), I couldn’t pull away from the tv either.

A moment when I felt old watching the Olympics: I was watching the diving and saw USA’s Troy Dumais (finally won a bronze in 2012) and Canada’s Alexandre Despatie (Montreal’s own). I was all “Hey, haven’t they been at it for a real long time now?”; then I checked online and it turned out that they’ve both been in Olympics since 2000. Wow. Good for them. (see here for a poignant story on Despatie from the Montreal Gazette).

Heartwarming essay by NY Times Frank Bruni on “The Soul of the Olympics” – how, even for a brief time, the Olympics gives us hope.

British rock/pop/fashion was totally celebrated during the Closing Ceremony.  I didn’t have much to say on the fashion, but I mostly liked the music.  It turned out that watching it live streaming online was far more comprehensive, since (of course) NBC messed up with the editing (you might not care for some of the bands, but I’d just like a full show, with no stupid editing. Or a half hour cutaway to a pilot of a sitcom I won’t watch).  And, how did this become the Olympics of Ryan Seacrest? (oh well; here’s to the present/future of American tv).

If it wasn’t obvious there: I really wasn’t happy that NBC did what it did to the Vancouver Olympics: split up the Closing Ceremony with the new sitcom. Geez, NBC. This might not motivate people to watch the new show by fall.  (see here for a summary review from NPR)

But still: Spice Girls! Liam Gallagher singing “Wonderwall” with his Not-Oasis band! The Who! Tons of great 1980’s and 1990’s stuff! (and George Michael, and a tribute to Queen and John Lennon). Oh, and Eric Idle, but not the rest of Monty Python.

Now, we wait for Rio 2016. (or at least Sochi 2014).