Saturday, February 13, 2010


I had to sit through TV coverage of the opening of the Winter Olympics last night and I really oughta blog it.

I should have live-blogged it. Oh, don't get me wrong, it was a good production with nice effects and choreography and if the music and speeches were a little over-inflated at times, well, that's traditional for these events.

NBC's Tom Brokaw, responding to another reporter's comment that there are more people in California than all of Canada,* sniffed that the Canadian economy was more robust than that of the U.S., too. Hey, if it's all relative, Canadians are even more better off than Russians! (Srsly, Tom, WTF? Could you not just let it be about Canada, British Columbia, Vancouver?)

Reminded once again that Canada is the only European county you can drive to from the U.S. and the only one with a frontier. And it's the nicest European country, too. Sure, not actually on that continent but really, that's a minor thing.

Maybe it was just the U.S.-network coverage, but I did not hear a lot of French in the opening ceremonies; were I a Francophone Canadian, I would have been vexed. OTOH, there was way lots of Donald Sutherland talking and he is one of the men I could sit and listen to for hours. So, win for me; you, not so much if you grew up talkin' French.

A possible glitch at the very end, when it appeared four supports were supposed to rise out of the floor to surround the Olympic cauldron and three did; it was pretty smoothly handled by the "ignore it and keep moving" approach. What else are you going to do?
* I had no idea there was a competition. Is there a prize? Does it not involve fighting over Soylent crumbs?


George said...

Thanks for the comparison to Europe, Bobbi. As a compliment, that is, of course, as left-handed as they get.

Read a comment somewhere that suggested the NBC coverage/commentary was better than than that provided by CTV for Canada. I don't know as I only watched the abbreviated version during the re-broadcast.

The prominent role played in the welcoming ceremonies by the four aboriginal 'nations' may be a unique Canuck thing.

Can you just see all those native dancers gyrating around in those day-glo coloured feathers, pieces of apparel, etc.? It's amazing what vegetable and mineral dyes can do for realistic costuming.

Still, the computer effects were kinda neat and the snowfall *inside* the hockey rink was different.


Turk Turon said...


I'll see your Donald Sutherland and raise you a Peter Coyote, or a Philip Bosco.

But my trump card is Alexander Scourby. Remember the Bandaids TV commercials from decades ago? "When a little boy hurts..."

Not a dry eye in the house.

Roberta X said...

I meant it in a good way, George -- Canada's government and culture are considerably more European than those of the States and the typical U. S. practice of assuming you are all Culturally Just Like Us and merely had ancestors who ended up on the King's side of the border is enormously wrong (and, IMO, shortchanges both side). OTOH, the place is a heck of a lot better governed than most of Europe, at least from where I sit.

I really enjoyed the First Nations* portion and was, as someone of distant-but-remembered Cherokee ancestry, especially touched by the Metis. The extremely-colorful costumes (Grass Dancers?) did have me muttering snarkily about unknown Hippie tribes of the North.

I found the effects impressive, all the more so in that they were used to tell the narrative rather than as razzle-dazzle. The interplay between projected and physical elements was nearly magical.
* Is that the right term or does it only refer to the organized Eastern tribes? ...Wikiwander in my future...

Roberta X said...

Turk: I dunno why, Sutherland is just so..soo... Whatever it is, he has it.

Drang said...

As I mentioned in my own semi-live blogging of the ceremonies, the Aboriginal/First Peoples program was excellent. Yes, the standard costumes owe little or nothing to traditional materials used even a hundred years ago--except for some items, like the use of chewing tobacco lids to make "jingle cones" but so what? That's what they wear at Pow Wows, why should they change just 'cuz the world's watching?

The version we watched had plenty of Froggish. AT first, BC being Anglophone, I thought it was a sop thrown to Quebec, but one of the talking heads mentioned that it was because English and French are the official languages of the IOC. I'm thinking the Frog was edited out for Fly-Over Country, since, as everyone knows, Red States are inhabited solely by ignernt, knuckle-dragging savages who barely speak English... /snark.

I'm amazed by speculation that US coverage may have been better than CBC, as, in the past, it was generally known that CBC had far superior coverage to US.

And who could possibly trump Charlton Heston as a narrator for anything?

Timmeehh said...

I watched both NBC and CTV versions. The CTV version was longer, more complete but the NBC version was edited for the US audience and so was a bit snappier.

On CTV announcements in French were always first, followed by English. Also, the signs held in front of the teams as they entered had French on top and English below.

Did you guys see any of the riots in DT Van? Makes ya wanna bring back flogging. Might be on Youtube.

WV = rialikie

When your reality sucks!

Drang said...

Local (Seattle) news did show what they said were "non-riots involving a lot of shoving between protesters and police."
No mention of what was being protested.

The Big Guy said...

From someone who was/is on site both in Beijing and VanCity at the Ceremonies, I like the Van OC better-
Beijing was overly ostentatious, to the tune of 1 billion dollars.
Vancouver put on a moving show (a little long and somewhat wordy for the winter Olympics) for a lot less money.
The idea wasn't to out-do Beijing, but to showcase Canada and BC.
Which worked well, IMHO.

As we fought our way back to our hotel last night we hit on how the tech malfunction could have been spun:
A tribute to the fallen Georgian luger... an obvious missing element, but still there in spirit; and in the spirit of the Games we all move on...

I did like how they gave the Georgian contingent some space before and after their entry to spotlight their group and for the commentators to speak directly about the accident.

As for the downtown riots-
they did break the windows of the Olympic Superstore, and there were 20 or so arrests...
Security has been tight, but not oppressive... The best I've ever seen from a functionality/safety ratio- and I've done Sydney, SLC, Athens, Torino, Beijing and now Vancouver...
It's been nice to be POLITELY checked, and reasonably evaluated for your job... In 30-40 security checkpoint crossings, I've only had to be mag-and-bagged 3 times, and those were very painless- not even questioned about my lockblades (2) and Leatherman tool.
(A Leatherman was a ticket to 30 minutes of Q&A in Athens, and a Lockblade would get you sent home from Beijing.)

(Van2010 security trivata: Your ID is scanned and if you have been to at least 3 Olympics you get an A rating. A ratings get a 1-in-10 chance of getting extra scanning.
If it is your first one, you get scanned every time.
If your job is technical, as indicated on your Games credential, the RCMP will let you pass with things that cut and pinch.)

Tam said...

Not enough explosions; didn't watch.

(WV: "redlnes". What you put on your flashlghti to preserve your night visnio.)

George said...

In my original post, Bobbi, I ended that first para with a grin. Unfortunately, I bracket the word with outward arrows ... which HTML interprets as something else ... and so nothing appeared. I am so very pleased that my awkward attempt at being humourous wasn't taken badly.

Sometimes, I feel that we look too much to that European component. Unlike the US, we tend not to toot our own horn but it looks like the opening of the Olympics can be viewed with pride.

The rioting today seemed to be instigated by 30 or so anarchists ... willing to disrupt peaceful demonstrations with violence. That is apparently what happened in downtown Vancouver today.

I know that many Americans question various elements that make up Canada ... and Canadians. Oftimes, those questions are valid; sometimes Canadians question themselves. It is nice, though, to see favourable comments from your followers.

Of course, I am a huge fan of Roseholme Cottage's people.


Drang said...

George said: Unlike the US, we tend not to toot our own horn but it looks like the opening of the Olympics can be viewed with pride.
But the Premier said it was OK to be nationalistic... although I think he ruined it by saying "We can apologize for it later."
Look, folks, you have a great nation up there, it ain't braggin' if it's true.
Be proud.
Hey, if you wanted to be us, you should have surrendered 200 years ago... ;-)

I know that many Americans question various elements that make up Canada ... and Canadians. Oftimes, those questions are valid; sometimes Canadians question themselves. It is nice, though, to see favourable comments from your followers.
Have you heard the way we talk about ourselves?

Tam said...

Yeah. We hope we can take you quietly someday. ;)

Roberta X said...

The Big Guy points out something I've heard a lot: the smooth handling of security-type interactions. Professional, polite cop-like persons seem to be a Canadian national characteristic, perhaps because the RCMP sets the bar so high.

There are Canadian laws at which I look askance, but Canadian law-enforcement personnel enjoy a well-deserved good reputation.

Joanna said...

Speaking as someone who communicates regularly with Francophone Canadians, there's no love lost between them and the English-speaking population.

George said...

Joanna ... you know what we Anglos say about the possibility of a Quebec secession from the rest of Canada. It would cut six hours off the drive from Ontario to Atlantic Canada.

Or something.

Actually, you've brought an ugly truth out into the light. Beneath our so-called genteel mannerisms, there is this seemingly indestructible racism-like distaste on the part of both francophones and the rest. (that sound you hear is my sigh.)

It's too bad ... because it's such a waste of energy ... but I confess to feeling not too hot about Quebec and its constant kvetching.

Only Montreal women can rival the downright attraction of West Coast beauties although I don't see what so great about the men.


Anonymous said...

I'll say this for Montréal: The Cirque du Tittay is unparalleled anywhere.


Nancy R. said...

Did anyone else think the torches looked like giant doobies?

Roberta X said...

Y'know, they kinda do. Oh, Canada! ;)

Timmeehh said...

Well what do you expect? After all, this is a city where two guys were walking up Robson St. smoking a fattie when a cop walked up to them and sternly said "Hey you! Put that out!".

Timmeehh said...

Oh no! Roberta's image of the Mounties is ruined forevah!