Friday, July 27, 2012

I Am Watching the Olympics (Opening-ceremonies Day)

It's opening-ceremonies day for the Summer Games in London, and, back here at home in Madisonville, that means we're breaking out the little paper flags of all the nations to set them up in the living room for the next 17 days.

Now 3 1/2 years old, the daughter is even more juiced for the pageantry than she was back a couple of years ago during the 2010 Winter Games.

We're pretty excited.

Which is not to say that it will be incessantly faster, higher and stronger fun rolling out around here over the next couple of weeks. That first snapshot, of the sweet and smart girl sorting flags this morning and finding the respective countries on the globe (she is so sweet and so smart), was soon after followed in reality by 10 minutes of yelling and crying on her part over whether it was time to get out of pajamas and roller skates to get dressed and brush teeth (it was time). And lest you think I'm trying to present myself as the sage, strike-the-moment/Montessori-ish mentor/dad, I will admit to a lot of missing-the-point rules establishing about the handling and arranging of my precious, yard-sale-find paper flags.

Today, I am alive with hope for unfettered hours and hours through Aug. 17 of reveling with friends and family--in my living room or theirs, on the phone or at the HP--over a glorious Olympiad. I love to root; I love watching sports that I don't normally watch, and I love learning about the different places the athletes are from. Most of all, I love getting excited about the same stuff that other people are getting excited about, all at the same time. Now, I know that the truth is that there will be a lot of missed connections at our end in terms of willingness and readiness to receive the Good and there will be some moments, for reasons competitive or political or logistical, when the Olympics will deliver Bad.

But, hey, I'm going to turn 44 years old in the middle of these games. That covers nine Summer and 10 Winter Olympics that I can remember watching, starting with Innsbruck in 1976. I've been carrying this torch for a long time. Trust me when I can say that we can reasonably expect to have a heck of a lot of fun over the next couple of weeks. And that's saying a load.

Previous reports:


  1. Here are my top-5 Olympics:

    1984 Summer
    1980 Winter
    1994 Winter
    1976 Summer
    1996 Summer

    Here are my top-5 Summer events:

    1. Mens' Basketball
    2. Mens' 4 x 100 relay
    3. Decathlon
    4. Mens' 100-meter dash
    5. Modern Pentathlon

    I used to have softball at number 5, but they don't have softball any more.

    1. I can't wait to watch the Olympics "up close and personal, the ABC way," but I'll probably pass on The New Land.

    2. The East German lugers were living large in 1976. Check out their training facility about eight minutes in to this clip. That dining facility looks fantastic!

    3. The gold-medal winner, Margit Schumann, who is one of those eating vodka-basted pork in Oberhof in that clip, is one of the all-time lugers.

    4. I think the downhill is my favorite event in the Winter Olympics.

    5. Colleen O'Connor of Chicago and Jim Millns of Toledo, Ohio, show the world (especially the Soviets) "where the sport of ice skating needs to go."

    6. The downhill is awesome.

      I do like ice dancing, too.

    7. 1. Men's downhill
      2. Pairs' figure skating
      3. Ladies' figure skating
      4. Men's hockey
      5. Men's figure skating

    8. Two winter events that sounded great when I was a kid but turned out to be pretty boring:

      Ski Jump

  2. Here are the top 5 medalists in each Olympics since Russia started competing as a separate country:

    2008 (Beijing)
    1. CHN (51 gold, 21 silver, 28 bronze): 100
    2. USA (36-38-36): 110
    3. RUS (23-21-29): 73
    4. GBR (19-13-15): 47
    5. GER (16-10-15): 41

    2004 (Athens)
    1. USA (35-39-27): 101
    2. CHN (32-17-14): 63
    3. RUS (28-27-38): 93
    4. AUS (17-16-16): 49
    5. JPN (16-9-12): 37

    2000 (Sydney)
    1. USA (37-24-33): 94
    2. RUS (32-28-29): 89
    3. CHN (28-16-14): 58
    4. AUS (16-25-17): 58
    5. GER (13-17-26): 56

    1996 (Atlanta)
    1. USA (44-32-25): 101
    2. RUS (26-21-16): 63
    3. GER (20-18-27): 65
    4. CHN (16-22-12): 50
    5. FRA (15-7-15): 37

  3. The theme for tonight's Opening Ceremonies in London is "Isles of Wonder." The theme is taken from a speech in "The Tempest," one of Shakespeare's last plays. The play is about what happens after a shipwreck brings several characters to a remote island. In Act III, the island's only native, a slave known as Caliban, describes the island in some of Shakespeare's loveliest writing:

    Be not afeard, the isle is full of noises,
    Sounds, and sweet airs, that delight and hurt not.
    Sometimes a thousand twanging instruments
    Will hum about mine ears; and sometime voices,
    That if I then had wak'd after long sleep,
    Will make me sleep again, and then in dreaming,
    The clouds methought would open, and show riches
    Ready to drop upon me, that when I wak'd
    I cried to dream again.

  4. I don't want to give away too much about the ceremonies, since we Yanks don't get to see them for several more hours, but I will say that they feature Shakespeare and James Bond -- and in my opinion those are pretty much the two high points of British culture.

    1. Oh, wait, I forgot about "A Pilgrim's Progress."

      OK, two of the three high points.

      But how cool would it be if one of the characters from "A Pilgrim's Progress" turned up?

  5. Occurs to me that Kate Bush would've done a fabulous job with this show, but, of course, they would've had to air it on Cinemax after midnight in the United States.

  6. WPSD (Paducah Sun-Democrat) Channel 6 out of Paducah keeps cutting out, so we've gone to WFIE ("We're First in Evansville") Channel 14. The Olympic opening ceremony is renewing my appreciation for the Industrial Revolution, but hooray that I get to live in the era of multiple affiliates of the same network on my cable-TV system.

  7. The Naked Gun movies were really, really funny. Rest in peace, Leslie Nielsen.

  8. What a great, great flag, the Union Jack.

  9. Hip, hip, hooray for the Olympics!