Hi, Dana (or perhaps I should call you “Skip“):
I’ll sweep that stone right into the tee, using my revolutionary, computer-powered, sensor-laden Scottish curling broom.
So, the opening ceremonies: First of all, let me say that I love international pageantry. Can’t get enough. And this event was nothing if not loyal to the genre, ticking off several key elements on the international pageantry checklist. Vague, anodyne theme? Oh, I think “Passion Lives Here” will do the trick. Baffling visual metaphors? Well, there was that guy dressed as a circulatory system with a mohawk. Baffling enough for you? Or what about those flame-headed Rollerbladers you mentioned? Costas said these “human sparks of passion” would appear periodically throughout the games. Which sounds nice. If only human sparks of passion would appear periodically throughout my life.
As you say, though, my main emotion was disappointment. There was—pace our theme—very little passion at all here. Turin is an industrial town (which barely managed to afford these games), and I swear some of those opening night dancers looked like grumpy factory workers who had been stuffed, against their will, into colorful leotards.
What’s more, the choreography (as you noted during our IM chat) was less Twyla Tharp and more SWAT team. All ragged and oafish. At one point, hundreds of dancers arranged themselves to form the image of a giant ski-jumper. But one of the dancers dressed in blue accidentally mingled with the dancers dressed in black—meaning that a piece of the skier’s body had somehow flaked off and become embedded within the carbon-fiber of his skis. Ouch!
And also: Unforgivable! You’d have never seen this sort of asynchronous clumsiness at the Salt Lake games in 2002. Those Mormon hoofers, with their “beehive” ethos, turned the opening ceremonies into a vision of lockstep harmony. I’m certain the Chinese, accustomed to obeying central directives, will do likewise in 2008.
As for Kwan: I’m glad she dropped out. Otherwise, I would have been forced to take a pipe to her kneecap. Did you catch that moment during the opening ceremonies when she looked kind of bored … but then noticed the camera trained on her and suddenly flashed a look of awe and thrilled-to-be-here-ness? Makes me wanna go Gillooly on her.
First, she whined and lawyered her way onto the Olympic team (when she couldn’t qualify). Then, she soaked up the media’s treacly adulation and overwrought concern for a couple of days. And then, she dropped out after her very first practice. Oh, come on—she thought she could compete, clawed her way in, came all the way to Italy … but then, after just a quick run-through, realized she couldn’t hack it after all? That makes no sense. She just wanted some spotlight. Be gone, grasping careerist Michelle Kwan! Make way for bright-eyed, good-hearted Olympians like Shaun White.
Did you see him fess up to his crush on Sasha Cohen? Are you jealous?