Goodbye, Vancouver 2010

Well, the end of the Olympics.  Kudos for Canada’s men’s hockey team for winning gold.  Kudos to Team USA for putting the effort to try to beat Team Canada.

Although, this meant that President Obama owed Prime Minister Harper a case of Molson’s beer for losing the friendly bet.  Oh well.

The pictures on tv of Canadians in Vancouver taking to the streets in celebration over the hockey victory was great tv to see.  Seems like all of Canada is happy (Montrealers taking to the streets of downtown!).

Kudos to Vancouver for the effort in making a memorable Olympics, even if it was a little snow-deprived.

The Closing Ceremony was odd – yes, it was nice to see the clown help “fix” the missing fourth column of the Olympic cauldron.  Nice to see William Shatner, doing a whole patriotic thing (as NY Times’ live blog noted, by reporter Ian Austen, “Shatner’s opening line ‘I’m Bill and I’m proud to be a Canadian” is a riff on an exceptionally popular beer commercial from several years ago” – so cool that I wasn’t the only one who caught it!  Yes, it was a funny twist of a very popular Molson’s commercial – one of which I remembered actually did get aired in the States; see below).  Catherine O’Hara and the curling thing was funny.  Michael J. Fox – kudos!

But, parts of the closing ceremony was way over the top – the Michael Buble’s Maple Leaf Forever, the inflatable Monties, and beavers.  The giant table hockey figures with gold medals – now that was terrific.  But, really, the whole thing was total Canadian camp.

The handover to Sochi 2014 was a bit surreal.  I won’t enter the whole arena of international political intrigue, but sometimes, with the Olympics’ attempts at being about goodwill and sports, the whole patriotism/nationalism thing can be a bit grating on the nerves.  At least the Russian salute to Sochi felt a little (a) abstract and (b) heavy-handed at the same time.  Yeah, we know you weren’t happy with your medal standings and you’re a little peeved that the world doesn’t fear/admire you like it was during the Cold War, but get over it.  Can’t you be like the Canadians and be nice?  (well, except for hockey, which as Newsweek’s Mark Starr notes, Canada really did needed it more).

Neil Young’s singing his song, while the torch was turned off (both the one inside the stadium and the one outside) – that was poignant.  Strangely, that was the same song he sang on Conan O’Brien’s last “Tonight Show.”

On a tangent, kind of twisted that, during the Olympics, NBC otherwise promoted the return of Jay Leno, as if Conan never happened.

John Furlong, chief executive of the Vancouver Games, had a nice speech, praising Vancouver and Canada for the efforts; but, his attempt at the French portion of his speech was on the range of not good French (and I’m not saying my French is any good, but he could’ve been a little careful about it).  Otherwise, I liked how he was sensitive about acknowledging the tragedies and triumphs of this Olympics.

The rest of the closing ceremony was pretty much a hit or miss for me; unless one is a fan of the music, it really was to entertain the crowd at BC Place, rather than for the tv audience.   The big negative was NBC’s shifting to Jerry Seinfeld’s new show at 10:30pm.  Yes, it was made clear in the promos and the tv guides that this would happen, but that it actually DID happen was disgusting.  Bob Costas telling us viewers to come back at 11:30pm and then shifting to Seinfeld’s new show just like that?  Ugh!  Graceless, NBC!  Absolutely graceless!

Then by the time we return to the closing ceremony at 11:30pm, the whole time delay was what it was; but the Times’ live blog made it clear that the ceremony actually ended at 11:07 EST.  So, NBC – you blew it.  You could have made up for your showing of the Olympics (which was nice with the hockey game live, as was the 50K men’s cross country skiing live, but not so nice for lots of other things) – but you chose not to.  Granted, you probably have some kind of contractual obligation to Seinfeld to air his show, but sticking it in the middle of the last night of Olympics – so not cool, NBC.  So not cool.

And then you stick in a reminder to watch for London 2012.  Okay, sure – but couldn’t you have waited until the end of the show to stick in the reminder?  This was still the Winter Olympics and they just did the handoff to Sochi!  Have a little consideration!

I’ve come to the realization that the NBC coverage was most irritating because the Olympics was actually on our continent.  Then again, I don’t remember being very pleased with how either Salt Lake City or even Atlanta was covered so… oh well.  At least, it’d be nice to just have a time stamp for when what occurred, if you’re going to do things on tape/time delay.  Just a little nice, just for the sake of, say, accuracy on tv.

I’ll check more of the reactions/analyses during the next day or two; no doubt, there are reactions…

Oh, and yes, this is the Molson commercial (I’m pretty sure that the actor in this commercial is the actor from the series “Strange Days at Blake Holsey High,” the tween/teen sci-fi series that had aired on NBC and otherwise on Discovery kids channel – Canadian-made, I think, since most of the cast was Canadian).   (checked, Jeffery Douglas, who played Professor Z, in the boarding school setting of the series, and the user comments seem to confirm that he is Joe of the Molson commercial.  And, yes, he is Canadian).   Oh, and William Shatner did do his own mock up of the Molson commercial – but he says he drinks Labatt (oops).

I’d like to embed these odd videos, but will have to figure that out another time.

Olympian TV

I’m probably watching too much or too little Olympics; or, rather, like everyone else, grumbling about why NBC’s coverage is so… schizophrenic (yeah, I know, it’s to get that casual viewer; but must you keep switching from ski jump to snowboarding and then back to figure skating in a three hour stretch?  The last 10 seconds of the USA v. Canada men’s hockey game on Sunday night, while MSNBC had to show the whole thing?  Could you put a little time stamp – like “This occurred at 12:30pm PST” so that I can figure out that this was not live tv and still feel okay about it?).

Watching the women’s figure skating short program round was pretty cool.  South Korea’s Kim Yu-Na taking the lead with her James Bond mix; that was a performance of energy and athleticism.  Plus a whole country putting tons of pressure on her.

But, the real powerful watch was Canada’s Joannie Rochette, as she skated despite (or inspired by?) the passing of her mother only two days previously.  The whole audience was trying to keep her going, and I admit that I felt teary watching her.   Scott Hamilton, US champion/analyst, was all emotional in his voicing that this was not about points.  Just reading the NY Times article about it made me feel sad again.  Plus, Mike Starr of Newsweek is right: the appropriate word to describe what Rochette had was “fortitude.”

Seriously, I’d hate to judge the skaters – how do you do it when the human element is involved?  Grief, strength, the weight of nations on their shoulders?  It really isn’t just points or what trick you pull off.

Spoilers about this latest episode of “Lost” – turn away if you don’t want to see my comments… So, I still managed to catch “Lost” – Jack and his daddy issues!  Alternate Jack kind of trying to resolve his daddy issues, with a heretofore unseen son (!) (who’s the mother?  Well, I’d say maybe the ex-wife was Jack’s ex from the main universe, but who knows?  Is it even important to know?).  Plus, I kind of like the portrayal of the sideways alternate universe lives of alternate John Locke and alternate Jack.  Not caring for the alternate Kate (who still seems like a crazy) or even alternate Claire.  Meanwhile, main universe Claire is creepy crazy.

I’m still not sure how much I want answers from “Lost,” but I think I’ll accept a resolution of some kind.  Seeing alternate Jack having hope – that was nice.  If main universe Jack can get something positive – well, it’d be nice to see; whether we viewers will actually get to see it – that’s another story.

Did catch a few minutes of Craig Ferguson’s interview of Stephen Fry – without an audience!  How cool; it was kind of like a funnier, wittier Charlie Rose (without the roundtable).  Reactions by critics (Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly; David Bianculli of Television Worth Watching; and Dana Stevens of Slate)  are that this was great tv and that maybe Craig should do it once in awhile to keep things cool on network late night tv.  I sure agree!

Oh, and great post by Ken Tucker about that Old Spice commercial: how it got made and how that actor in the Old Spice commercial ought to be on more tv.

Post Super Bowl/Lunar New Year/Winter Olympics 2010

I’m still not sure of what to make of a lot of the Super Bowl commercials this year.  (check out the coverage by Time’s James Poniewozik reviewing of the stuff) – I mean, really – two consecutive commercials of guys in their underwear?  Has the economy gone that bad to give us this crap?…

But, kudos to New Orleans; too bad for Indianapolis; and guess Miami is a really popular spot for Super Bowl (at least, they seem to keep going back to Florida).

Happy Year of the Tiger! (thought it was cool to see a little of the Lunar New Year celebration in Vancouver on tv; link here for the Canadian coverage of it).

And, Happy Winter Olympics 2010!  The opening ceremony was pretty nifty, I thought.  You don’t have to go all Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony extravagant (but having an LCD doesn’t hurt).  I’ve suggested on Facebook about shipping the snow on the east coast to Vancouver.  Otherwise, I’ve been on massive Olympic watching.  I think I really want to go to Vancouver – it looks so nice on tv (and is where many tv series are filmed anyway, so how cool is that?  And, the food?).

Fascinating story about Vancouver’s ex-mayor, Sam Sullivan, who I remembered was inspirational for waving the flag for Vancouver at the closing ceremony of the Turino Olympics 2006 (inspirational, because he was – and is – a wheelchair user who didn’t seem limited by his disability).  The article was compelling for how Sullivan keeps going, despite losing another term as mayor.

I have to say, Jonny Moseley did a pretty good job explaining moguls as a commentator on NBC; I really wouldn’t understand the sport, but he made it understandable and cool.

Very happy that Canada finally won home gold with moguls skier Alexandre Bilodeau’s win.

I’ve been wondering about those blue lines in alpine skiing; thanks, NY Times, for an explanation (blue dye, not computer-generated for tv viewers; but to guide the skiers.

Seeing Shen and Zhao win the gold in ice skating pairs – that was nifty, since they have come a long way since their first Olympics.

Hooray for Evan Lysacek for winning gold in the men’s figure skating.  There’s a bit of a debate of whether to award the skater for the whole program or for the tricks (or, is it that those who don’t do the quad playing it too safe?  Frankly, when it got to a point where every man was doing a quad and then destroying their knees and getting shorter careers – the quad just didn’t impress me).  It gets loopy, when it’s about difference of perceptions and personalities and techniques and physical capabilities (Johnny Weir – well, he’s in his own category, which means he’s his own skater, make of that what you will).  So, sorry, but I’m for the whole program – be a skater, not a stuntman.  On t v, Dick Button, commentator and two-time Olympic gold medalist, pretty much said that (wish I could find the link to the video), and so have others (including Todd Eldridgebe the better overall skater).

Plus, it is about gamesmanship – know how to get the points and be a sportsman.  Hard work works.  Etc.  If it was about innovation and so-called progress, well, sometimes it isn’t about that all the time.  Plushenko didn’t get me excited; Lysacek did (probably because about the whole hard work and determination and pluckiness – I mean, really – no quad?  And being okay with it (i.e., not arrogant, as Plushenko seemed to be, in my opinion) – that takes a lot of personal guts).

Trash talking Plushenko, amid what is otherwise a nice time (I mean, really – Daisuke Takahashi got to win a bronze to be the first Japanese male medalist – graceful, even though he fell – we should be happy for Japan, but Plushenko – come on – let it go; you got a medal when you came back from retirement) —  hmm.

I think the future of men’s figure skating are: Patrick Chan, Canada; Jeremy Abbott, USA;  and Nobunari Oda, Japan.  They were impressive, even if they didn’t quite get the Olympics they wanted (they’re young; and Chan – well, he had that whole country on his shoulders – not easy!).

The Reed family of NJ – an interesting family of Asian-Americans, as the kids of Noriko and Robert – ice dancing for Japan (Cathy and Chris) and Georgia (Allison – who found a guy in need of a female ice pairs partner – well, that happens far more frequently in ice skating than we realize these days, especially with the Internet as a resource).

Oh that Apolo Ohno.  I’m just glad to be reminded that he’s more than a Dancing With the Stars champion.

Oh, and J.R. Celski – cool that he won the bronze, but the story of his pre-Olympic injury is pretty gruesome stuff.  (J.R. Celski is part-Filipino, so APA’s are being represented on the medal podium!).

Hockey – that Canadian national sport – apparently has a lot of guys named Ryan.

The commercials during the Olympics are actually more entertaining than the Super Bowl’s.  I like the commercial where various Canadian (Canadian-American) celebrities are telling us to go visit British Columbia (Ryan Reynolds, Eric McCormack, Kim Cattrall, Sarah McLachlan, and Michael J. Fox).  The Old Spice commercials where mesmerizing man tells men (via their women) to use Old Spice – hilarious hallucination!