The 2010 Winter Olympics – Opening Ceremony

Well, every Olympiad needs to start somewhere – so why not the beginning?  Indeed – with that spirit in mind, the 2010 Vancouver Olympics got off to a – well, weird start.  Obviously, there was the peculiar vibe after one of the Olympians DIED on the day the she-bang was about to formally get underway.  In addition to the peculiar vibe, you have the peculiarity of the ceremony itself, a demonstration of national pride and performance art and effects that, much like things like Cirque Du Soleil, defy any real criticism.  It surely was interesting, I’ll give em that much.  Director/Producer David Atkins had fewer resources and a manifestly less ostentatious budget that Zhang Yimou had in his Beijing Opus in 2008, but he did not shortchange us on the … well on the ceremony!  Some specific notions:

  • Vancouver – is a GREAT city.  I got to visit it twice in 2009, both times briefly.  I could live there – maybe even with the rain – maybe.
  • This ceremony lets the athletes in before the cultural extravaganza, so they get to appreciate it.  Seems like a nice touch.  They have to sit longer, but if you’re going to have to put up with the IOC douchebags talaking, might was well have some art too.
  • The ceremony opened with a pretty slick montage dedicated to the countries mountainous terrain, orcas, salmon, a pretty darn neat overview of the Canadian experience.  Compared to the weirdly vibed “Canadians are people too” sort of vibe of our press, it was the epitome of good taste.
  • Sarah McLachlan has a sweet voice – even when it is servicing a cause I do not understand.
  • Bob Costas and Matt Lauer offered emceeing for the ceremony – but it did not seem necessary.   I wonder why parades and stuff like this needs yammering over the action, such as it is.
  • The weirdest part of the ceremony was undoubtedly the segment that saluted the French Canadiens.  Apparently they all play the violin and tap dance, who knew?  The entire vibe was very country in a way that I thought was more Alberta than Newfoundland.  Anyway, French Canadiens are weird, and since I went to school with a couple, I speak from personal testament.  That said, my French-Canadian friend is walking for curing CF, so help her out.
  • The salute to prairies was neat, with a flying youth in a harness and the ground transforming to reflect the vastness.  But I kept thinking that the symbolic youth would be wondering “When the hell is this prairie gonna stop?”
  • The Olympics explicitly saluted Canada’s aboriginal peoples – another nice touch … even if the speech to open the show itself was way way too long, and with poor French accent.
  • Matt Lauer observed that the guy who recited a poem about Canada after the ceremony did its salute to Vancouver was a poetry slam artist (who looked like maybe a McKenzie nephew) who was discovered on youtube.  That’s 2010 for you.
  • Donald Sutherland on voiceover, Joni Mitchell, Sarah McLachlan … where was Jack Bauer saving the Olympics?
  • Nice the queen declared a Haitian immigrant Governor General to be her emissary to declare the games open – of course the queen might be thinking “the Olympics, what on EARTH is that”.
  • Where is the salute to Second City?  Why not a Dan Aykroyd or Bill Murray cameo here?  Maybe pull down kd Lang’s pants while she is singing “Hallelujah?”  Hey, a man can dream.  On the bright side, during her number they at least got the audience real light sticks instead of making them use their cell phone displays.
  • A quip between me and LG watching kd Lang in action … me: “is she standing on a wedding cake?”, LG: “well, we know she is not getting married.  well maybe to herself”, me: “she was in white, but a suit … maybe she WAS both” … yes I’m going to hell
  • The Olympic flag part – striking to see the tears in all the legends eyes, Donald Sutherland and Bobby Orr in particular.
  • That said, the Olympic and Canadian flags seem to be furled incorrectly … maybe a symbol of Canadian reservedness – the flags will not unfurl willy nilly.
  • Who’s going to light the torch?  Wayne Gretzky?  That guy who brought health insurance to Canada?  Tommy Douglas  My CF fighting friend?  Really – this seems like a slam dunk to me … of course it was.
  • Of course it looks a cue has been missed here at the end … a cauldron is supposed to show up … if you think the Stonehenge scene in Spinal Tap is popping up in my mind, you know me too well.
  • The torch lighting would have rocked … if they actually got symmetry and stuff.

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