Saturday, February 13, 2010

Loving the Olympics

I understand a lot of the criticism of the Olympics -- too commercial, too nationalistic, too focused on often phony heart-tugging stories, too many smarmy commentators filling dead time with nonsense -- but I can't help it. I'm a a complete sucker, summer or winter, once they're on. Every time there are athletes who make you want to swell with pride about the human race who manage to come through with inspiring performances.

The death of the Georgian luger was a terrible tragedy, and although they mostly handled it tastefully before and during the opening ceremonies, I didn't think Olympic officials did very well today. The death was due to an athlete mistake rather than a poor course design -- even as the course was being modified to make up for the obviously over-dangerous aspects, like a too-low wall and unpadded pillars (though I'm not sure how much good padding would do at 95 mph)? Give me a break!

The opening ceremony was really quite impressive. My favorite was when Joni Mitchell was singing "Both Sides Now" and that guy was flying around on whatever kind of contraption he had. But the use of lights and mirrors to create the appearance of solid structures throughout? Marvelous. They did stretch it out a bit at the end, but I even liked the fact that there was a technical problem with the torch at close to the end. Them Canadians -- it's fascinating how many entertainers and sports figures we think of as quintessentially American are Canadian -- know how to put on a a show.

I have a weakness for individualists mainstream commentators think of as troublemakers (I loved John McEnroe best when he was really a "bad boy"), so I'm rooting for Bode Miller and Javi Smith to have wonderful performances.

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