Friday, February 12, 2010

James Howard Tape-Delay Liveblogs the 2010 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremonies

"8:00 PM"

Greetings, sports fans!

Yes, I'm rewinding the recording right now as I speak; the problem with PVR'ing the CTV feed is that the program "Winter Olympics" will be running pretty much nonstop for the next couple weeks. Once I get to the start, though, this is going to be pretty great! And, since it's still a 'live' telecast, it helps out tremendously that the time stamps are still intact. So I get to time everything right as it ran, but with the benefit of skipping commercials! Nice! I wish I could claim I had planned this.

'Live'blogging to follow, after the jump!

7:45 PM

wait too far too far too--ah well. Pre-game show, then! Yeah!

This turns out to be a good place to start from, because I get to see the (not particularly convincing) CGI intro they're running, and--


The intro sequence seriously goes male figure skater, female figure skater, team of speed skaters, sniper. Is camping at the base an Olympic sport now?

Also, wow, this is my first time hearing the coverage theme song and it's already annoying. PIP-PIP-PIP pip PIP-PIP-PIIIIIIIIIIP urggghhhhh

From there we jump immediately to Lloyd Robinson and Steven Harper (what), who looks like a janitor in that jacket and who immediately offers Georgia his condolences for ringing up the first Olympic fatality of the Games. And before the Games even officially kicked off, at that! Pretty rough, yes -- but, in a macabre sort of way, this is guaranteed to get the sport a lot of exposure when everybody tunes in to see whether or not the fastest luge track ever manages to kill anybody else.

"We'll be following it all, we're big sports fans in our household" -- way to strike a chord with the ol' common-folk, Steve. HEY GUYS WHO HERE LIKES SPORTS CLAP YOUR HANDS IF YOU LIKE SPORTS

7:50 PM

Jennifer Hedger's gigantic hairdo interviews some skier dressed like a Strange Brew extra -- oh, god, are those our actual official outfits? That, uh... well... maybe it gets better.

Brian Williams, who was hired away from CBC pretty much just for this and the Grey Cup, throws it to a memorial for the Georgian luger and then some really patronizing clip show where a guy rambles about patriotism over crowd shots and some nature shots from the CBC Oh Canada signoff vignettes. Contains the phrase "sugared alpine peaks", though, so it can't be all bad.

Oh, and nice footage of Jeremy Wotherspoon falling down, you dicks. Don't remind him of it, or anything.

"The Red Army is reborn! And charged with electric talent!" "Canada's dominion over curling is threatened like never before!" "They're all here, not to praise or honour us, but to defeat us!" yeah uh it's just sports you guys

After all of this hype about the first Canadian to win an Olympic gold medal on home soil -- I'm not going to lie to you -- I would laugh for literally weeks if we didn't win a single one in Vancouver. Come on, admit it, that shit would be hilarious.

8:00 PM

A stadium! Flashing lights! Dramatic music! Then... more overlaid shots of Vancouver and Whistler! Yeah, don't let me enjoy the ambiance of a crowded Olympic venue or anything, I want to watch this screensaver of a snowboarder.

Did we seriously hold the 1960 games in "Squaw Valley"? That's a real place?



Then she and the President of the IOC (or whoever) stand there looking kind of awkward for about half a minute, probably timing in her head how long in total minutes it will take before somebody mentions the seal-eating thing to her.

Some Mounties walk in the flag, which looks kind of tiny compared to the total space available, and... this is all kind of low-key so far, actually. This gets better, right?

Nikki Yanofsky sings the national anthem, except somehow it's rearranged as an overproduced '90s ballad and it takes like three minutes to perform. There's a great shot of Michaelle Jean looking completely unimpressed by the whole thing, which got a good laugh out of me. Other than that, though, I really have to conclude that this arrangement sucks the big one.

And now, we get a little show from the four host-nation tribes whose stolen land will host the games. One dude representing the Tsleil Waututh is wearing black pants and a wolfskin with no shirt, which is pretty awesome but not really a look that just anybody can pull off.

Some ice statues raise their hands, and everybody dances! Quick! Bang this hilarious oversized novelty drum!

8:15 PM

Now all the First Nations of the different regions get to come in and do their dances, dressed in the traditional garments of their respective heritages. This is the point when I realized that absolutely everybody in the crowd is wearing identical white poncho-things, which... I don't know if it's a really well veiled statement on the cultural strength of the First Nations or just an oversight, but man that's a weird visual.

Oh, man, here come the athletes! Nice!

8:20 PM

Greece comes out first as the founders of the Olympics, which would be more impressive if there were more than seven of them. "Also the cradle of democracy!" Robertson helpfully points out, like anybody's here to celebrate that.

Albania! Fuck yeah! They only have one athlete, an alpine skier, but he looks really happy to be there. And well he should! I just always love seeing Albania's flag, because it's fucking awesome. Algeria only has one guy, too; he should hang out with Albania.

Andorra comes out and Brian Williams immediately has to explain, for those of us at home, where the hell Andorra is. No, I'm not kidding; he actually did that. It's pretty funny.

There are actually few things I love more than parades of flags, but of course the Winter Olympics aren't half as fun without of the African nations and their steady influx of awesomely crazy flags. (Look at Mozambique and tell me that shit isn't both crazy and awesome.)

According to the factoid box, more than half of Austria's hundred and eighty medals in Olympic history are in Alpine Skiing. That's either really impressive or really pathetic, I'm not sure which.


Remember in 2002 when they upset the Swedes in hockey by bouncing a puck off Salo's face, and Canada ended up playing the semifinal game against them? And then the entire country basically went bananas for just winning anything? That shit was tremendous. I've rooted for them ever since in anything they show up for, just on general principal, because nothing earns my loyalty like massive celebrations for fluke wins. Bless your Belarussian hearts! I hope you guys win everything.

Belgium hasn't won anything since 1998. Sucks for Belgium!

8:30 PM

The Bermudans, with a total of one athlete, come out in Bermuda shorts. Apparently they do this every year, and I wouldn't doubt it if this were the only reason they send an athlete at all. How do you say "for the lulz" in Bermudan? What... what language do they speak in Bermuda?

Everyone welcome the Cayman Islands! Represented by one guy in a rakish straw hat!

Ha ha ha ha, oh wow. A whole bunch of countries have their tiny little delegations, of one guy or three guys or six guys or whatever, and then ROWS OF NINETY CHINESE ATHLETES.

The Team Croatia jackets look like somebody practicing in Photoshop filters for the first time. I'm just sayin'.

Cyprus apparently has a total of one Canadian peacekeeper kicking around there, and has a total of one athlete. His name is Christopher Papamichalopoulos, so I'm rooting for Cyprus just for that because I want the announcers to suffer. PAPAMICHALOPOULOS

Jaromir Jagr carries the flag for the Czechs, chewing gum and looking completely bored with the whole thing. The Czech outfits look like the losing team in a really vicious paintball game.

At least they tried, though; why are so many of these countries just red jackets and black or red pants? Estonia at least comes out with snowflakes on their jackets, which makes sense.

Hey, Ethiopia! Neat! Ethiopia sent one athlete, a cross country skier with three guys walking behind him as his entourage. His name is Robel Teklemariam Zemichael, so I guess I'm also rooting for Ethiopia. Suck it, announce teams!


I don't know if you guys have flag designs you mark out for, but humour me my eccentricities. Don't know what to tell you! I just really, really like flags.

Oh, wow, Georgia comes out wearing black armbands and removing their hats, and the crowd gives them the quietest standing ovation I've ever heard. Awk-warrrrrrrrrrrrd

Germany comes out wearing... pastel racing-stripe jackets. That's not quite what I was expecting, but good on them for bravery.

Ha! Oh man. Ghana's one guy comes out, and even before Brian can finish saying (I'm not making this up) "Aaaaand this athlete from Ghana has had as much written about him as Canadian athletes" Lloyd Robertson is already laughing audibly. I hadn't heard about the guy yet, but apparently his name is Kwame Nkrumah-Acheampong and he calls himself the 'Snow Leopard' and keeps boasting about how he's here to whoop some folks. I like him already! Anybody who arbitrarily gives themself a boastful nickname is cool by me.

8:45 PM

Great Britain and Iceland both wear simple white jackets and black pants; probably should have coordinated beforehand. Hungary came out in peppermint colours.

"Ireland is not expected to win a medal here." Ouch for Ireland! Brian Williams is tough but fair.

Somebody could do an entire post of just goofy Brian Williams quotes from this show and it would still be awesome. "Yes, there is ice in Israel!"

"Italy, always popular -- and always stylin'!" Whatever, man, they're dressed like everybody's grandfather.

Jamaica has one guy, but the crowd still pops huge for Jamaica. Cool Runnings is, apparently, still really big in Vancouver. (You think I'm being sarcastic, but I'm not! This is the actual legitimate reason given.)

Williams mentions during the Japan entrance that is providing -- and I'm, again, not kidding -- a live style commentary of the outfits. You ever wonder sometimes if the Olympics just spontaneously cause society to lose its collective mind? (I'll grant that I've been cracking wise about some of the fashions, myself, but in my defence nobody takes me seriously because I have no idea what I'm talking about. It's a good defence to have!)

Kyrgyzstan has a nice flag. Simple, kind of understated, but nice and classy. Their athletes all appear to be wearing hats made out of cardboard boxes, though, so we'll call it a push.

8:55 PM

"Lithuania", clearly, is Lithuanian for "lime green". I assume.

Moldova's flag is blue, yellow and red with a black centerpiece. Their outfits are red and white. Like I said, there's clearly something I'm missing about fashion.

Oh! Oh, man! If you can find a picture of Monaco's entrance outfits, you definitely need to sit in front of it for a while and appreciate the sheer hilarity of their hideous Christmas sweaters. That is awesome.

Montenegro sent one guy, and he's dressed remarkably similarly to the new 'athletic' Ronald McDonald. Wacky. Morocco sent one guy who only skis as a hobby because he's actually a biomedical scientist. Nepal sent two athletes, and their flag bearer is a cross-country skier and construction worker named Sherpa who scaled Mount Everest. (Yes, named Sherpa. It's not his real job, I guess he just figured he should do it while he was there.) The Olympics are kind of wacky, as it turns out.

And then out comes Norway, and that... is a lot of Norwegians. Holy crow. There's ninety-nine of them, and the country has won more Winter medals than any other company in history -- so of course right behind them is Pakistan, who are at their first Olympics and sent one guy. Alphabetical order can be so cruel, I tell you.

Romania has twenty-nine athletes? Romania has twenty-nine people? It's times like this that I realize I know absolutely nothing about a country except its vampires.

I'm not gonna lie; the Russian jackets are pretty sweet. They've got kind of a wing design on the fronts of the shoulders -- but then Brian Williams ruins everything by telling us that half a dozen of their skiers got caught doping but still got to come, wrecking the credibility of both the IOC and the international ski overseers. Still, though -- nice jackets!

9:05 PM

Oh my god, Ziggy Palffy is the flag bearer for Slovakia! Which brings me to my next point: Ziggy Palffy is, apparently, still alive. Could have fooled me! Slovenia, meanwhile, has some sweet green jackets and a really pretty flagbearer, so my loyalties are pretty split when it comes to the... uh... Slov countries.

You know what must suck? It must really, really suck to be one of those dancers along the entranceway dressed in white and swaying back and forth. Yes, you get to tell people you were a part of the Olympic Ceremonies, but then you have to add that you were there to sway back and forth for three straight hours and you were pretty much just ready to lie down and take a nap half an hour in.

AWW SHIT PETER FORSBERG YEAHHHHHHHHHHH--I'm pretty neutral towards Sweden most of the time, but Peter Forsberg is super great. Yes, he's been the brittlest man in the world for the last... forever, but it is just the natural law of human affairs that you are pretty awesome if you have an internationally recognized tactical maneuver named after you.

I can't think of Ukraine without thinking of the related Bob the Angry Flower comic. I'm sorry, The Ukraine. I can't help who I am.

The United States sent two hundred and sixteen athletes, which is a whole lot of athletes, and their moose-festooned toques look kind of silly. This is my super-brilliant analysis, but the commentators are rambling about Shaun White's hair right now so I guess nobody anywhere really has anything to add about the US' chances.

D'awww, Uzbekistan dressed up like Oreos! You guys are adorable.

And, finally, after all of that, here comes the Canadian contingent. Clara Hughes bears the flag and has one of those Hudson's Bay Company scarves on, because we like to pretend the company isn't owned by Americans. Some really goofy quasi-techno plays so that people can clap along; Harper gives a halfhearted kind of wave and looks uncomfortable, but what else is new. And you don't notice how hard it is to pull off the toque look until you see a whole bunch of people wearing the same toque at once, so that gives us something to take away from the whole show if nothing else.

9:20 PM

So all of the athletes are finally seated, and the show moves on to the entertainment portion of the evening with... Bryan Adams? And Nelly Furtado, yes, but, Bryan Adams? Honestly? Well, then. The song is apparently a tribute to the athletes, and I guess it's an okay pop song, but I can't actively remember anything about it even while I'm listening to it. Wait, wait -- except that it apparently has native chanting as its coda, for unexplained and probably completely cynical reasons. That's our lovable scamp, Bryan Adams, always playing up his First Nations heritage!)

We take a commercial break after the song and then come back for the "cultural component" of the show, as Brian Williams warns informs us. "Hymn to the North" is the title of this segment, apparently commemorating the enchanting but challenging landscape of the nation. So then we get a couple minutes of people wearing thick clothing and huddling together for warmth as they walk into the stadium, I guess because they want to give our tourism boards conniption fits.

The absolute best Lloyd quote thus far: "We're coming now into a portion of this program where you suspend logic, allow your imagination to soar." That's probably diplomatic unbiased reporting code for "what the fuck is this", but the professionalism of Lloyd Robertson is that we'll never know for sure. Brian Williams' running commentary, meant to demystify things, doesn't quite help: "Now the... energy of the people... begins to radiate outwards. And the energy rings, igniting the spectacular Aurora Borealis, the Northern Lights."

I'll grant that the effect is very pretty, with the waver effect in the middle and the constellation paatterns in the crowd, but... I've been to planetariums, you know? Maybe this just plays better live.

Of course, the second I type that, they whip out a twenty-meter-tall LED polar bear puppet that starts floating around. Take everything I said back! SEGMENT JUSTIFIED.

So the big polar bear cracks the 'ice' open and scatters the people, just to be a dickhead, and Williams has to keep his straight face as he helpfully informs us that
"The turbulent waters of the Atlantic are now beginning to flood the stadium" and "These turbulent waters, now receding as they launch into the audience, becoming the calmer, greener water of the Pacific... and with the greener and more peaceful waters of the Pacific, a pod of killer whaaaales swims in from the Pacific Ocean."

Perhaps I should add a caveat here: I am so, so bad at suspending logic. I might not be the target audience they're going for here. The whales apparently just became schools of salmon, but at least that adds some colour to what has been a white and blue extravaganza so far.

Some pieces pop out of the floor and connect to the ceiling, giving us the segment "The Sacred Grove" as some wooden patterns start floating around. I really should have considered what I was in for when I started liveblogging this shit ("NOW THERE ARE TREES, WHOA MAN, WHOA") but I'm already way too committed now and I'm too stubborn to quit.

Anyway, some trees and dancers show up, so that combination inevitably summons Sarah McLachlan to perform. So while everybody's doing an interpretive dance and completely extraneous strings are clogging up the middle portion, let me reward your patience with a bit of a tangent. I was dating a girl for a while who confessed that she'd had a huge crush on Matthew Sweet back in the day (because, come on, who didn't), so I reciprocated and disclosed my past (and not entirely dead) schoolboy crush on Sarah McLachlan. Then I kind of got myself into trouble with it when I mentioned that I preferred her long hair to her unfortunate stint with short hair, but I think what really got me into trouble is that I... okay, well, not to incriminate myself, but allegedly I might have used the expression "one-way train ticket to Bonertown" and helpfully added "CHOO CHOOOOOOOO" during the conversation. (Did you know that men and women have different senses of humour? It's a good thing to remember!) Anyway, I'm single again now, but I still say the line was totally worth it. Right? Right. That's the important thing.

Where was I? Ah, yes, Olympics. So after the McLachlan song we get a large ballet routine to Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings, and... either the orchestra they've hired are really good at exactly replicating previous performances of the piece, or somebody owns the same CD I do and figured nobody would notice, but damned if this doesn't sound exactly like the recorded version I'm most familiar with. Very mysterious!

9:45 PM

We now enter the third and final phase, "Rhythms of the Fall", which is apparently going to be a fiddling salute to Canada's autumn colours. So a big orange moon goes up under purple clouds, and they fly in (fly in) a neon blue canoe with a Celtic Fiddlin' Leather Batman in it. It really is hard to convey the madness of an Olympic Opening Ceremony through the medium of text, but I'm trying my best here.

Then things abruptly take a turn for the hilariously hickish, when six different fiddlers in goth dresses or in plaid fishing gear with studded leather jackets -- one of them a heavy guy with spiral tattoos and a mohawk -- take turns firing reels off while a bunch of bekilted highland dancers do handclaps. And at one point the lady dancers all stop to simultaneously do the double-dropkick dance move from Dschinghis Khan's Moskau. I AM LOSING MY MIND.

Then everything calms down so that some tapdancers can do some solo tapdancing to a hip-hop beat, because this wasn't quite strange enough already. AND THEN -- speaking of strange! -- they dig Ashley MacIsaac out of whatever urine-stained hiding spot he's occupied for the past decade so that he can bust out his second most popular hit from 1995.

Then a commercial, finally. I have decided I need more beer.

9:55 PM

Beer procured! Let us all sit down with a frosty intoxicant and try to make sense of this fourth part -- there's a fourth part? How many are there? -- to make sense of this fourth part, a segment "which explores the vast Canadian landscape through the eyes of a young girl and her experience growing up in the vast expanse of the golden prairie." Well, unless they're about to act out a few stabbings and shovel beatings and carjackings, I'm guessing that the 'golden prairie' isn't referring to us. The segment is titled "Who Has Seen the Wind?", and immediately they give us Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now" and this hilariously weird visual of an androgynous adult dressed like a farmer child and spinning around frantically in midair over disconnected square animated .GIFs of wheat. But the absolute best part, by far, is the crowd shots; they cut to a couple shots of our Canadian Olympic athletes just staring at this, fishlike and befuddled, because honestly what in the dick is any of this.

Then we get an electrical storm! Of course we needed an electrical storm. And then the electrical storm turns into a blizzard, and the blizzard apparently dislodges some rocks to make a mountain and transition into the next segment, and... nope, I'm still not sure I get any of this. The canvas mountain they create does have this neat fire pattern on it at first, though, so I guess that's something. (I may not know art, but I know what I like!)

10:05 PM

Entitled "Peaks of Endeavor", the fifth segment floats some people around in the air while they pretend to ski or snowboard in front of the big canvas mountain -- which is really the first reminder in a couple of hours that, oh yeah, we're all here to play sports. Then they dangle for a while. Then things pick up! The tempo on the music increases, they finally get some drums, and footage of Olympians doing Olympic things plays on the mountain! Whoa! Slow down, guys, don't get too conceptual on us!

So they keep dangling the skiers from the rafters and bring out a bunch of skaters to skate in alternating circles, and then a light show breaks out around them with swooshy red and white lines on the ice... then some electricity patterns, for a while... and it kind of just goes on like that for a minute or two until they sort of peel everything off and let some slam poet talk about the Canadian identity.

The slam poet is apparently the start of the sixth segment, or his own segment, because a graphic entitled "We Are More" pops up while he's rhyming about Gretzky and fishing and the word 'please' and whatever else. He actually gets a sizeable pop for saying "please and thank you", so good on him.

This goes on for a while until he's basically just yelling at us for not appreciating Canada enough and firing off some catchphrases, which makes me wonder if slam poetry is basically the same idea as cutting a promo in professional wrestling. (And if it is, then holy shit, I've gotta get myself into slam poetry.) Then some bodies line up around the podium to form a Maple Leaf, and... and that's it? Everything suddenly comes to a complete halt, Brian Williams tells us that the official speeches are coming up next, and they hustle off to commercial before anybody watching at home might notice that nobody at the event is clapping. That was a bizarre, bizarre anticlimax after all of that. Just... huh. Weird.

10:15 PM

It's speeches time! Gather around, everybody -- I know you're excited! And leading off, we get the IOC President and the chief Vancouver organizer! Oh, boy!

The first thing they do is honour the Georgian luger, of course, and rightly so. Nothing much of note is said after that, save for mentioning the name Vancouver a few times to make sure the crowd cheers periodically. A little bit of lecturing the athletes on their importance as role models, a bit of lip service about all Canadians getting together, a quick thank-you to the volunteers and sponsors, nothing too spectacular. They cut to Michaelle Jean and she appears to be falling asleep. I'm increasingly tempted to fast-forward through the whole shebang, but eventually the Vancouver rep starts blurting things out in both languages and that's always a good way to tell that a speech is winding town.

Then he hands it off to the IOC President, Jacques Rogge, so that he can go on about whatever for a while. It isn't until they back out to a super-wide shot that we get to see the jumbo screen above him; it has the English translation of his speech written along the bottom, because Rogge has been talking almost exclusively in French since he started. So of course I don't know what in the hell he's saying, but this is quicker than having him stop and repeat himself in English so I'm cool with it.

Finally he throws it up to the Dignitaries Box, where they've set up a microphone for Michaelle Jean to officially declare the opening of the 2010 Winter Games. Well, good! And immediately after that, with no preamble, they throw it to k.d. lang at center stage so she can sing... Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah". Huh! That's not the choice I would have made; hell, that isn't even the choice I would have made from Hymns of the 49th Parallel alone. (Ron Sexsmith's "Fallen" is criminally underappreciated, as far as I'm concerned.) Why not bring in Leonard Cohen himself, if this is the song they specifically wanted? But, I guess that's why I'm not an Olympic organizer.

Anyway, she performed it perfectly and I'm sure she probably emotionally destroyed anybody unfamiliar with the song -- but, come on, of course she did. She's k.d. lang.

We go out to commercial on the promise that, yes, for sure, the lighting of the torch is coming up.

10:40 PM

The Olympic flag is brought in by a phalanx of Canadian notables -- Dallaire! Murray! Sutherland! Orr! -- and Measha Brueggergosman comes out to sing the Olympic Hymn as the flag is raised. The performance actually sounds more like she's obfuscating a simple melody than it does like she's following a complicated one, if that makes any sense; the Hymn always brings out the really weird authoritarian aspects of the pageantry, so everyone stands around for a bit and we get some really dystopian shots at weird camera angles for a few minutes. Another moment of silence is held for Nodar Kumaritashvili.

Hayley Wickenheiser holds up her hand and commits herself to the true sportsmanship of the Games on everybody's behalf, so stop doping already you clowns you're making her look bad. The ref does the same, and then they have... some French guy come out to sing some song that sounds exactly like every male French song ever. I don't mean to diminish the guy, because he's actually one of the performances I've enjoyed most so far, but they didn't put up a graphic when he came out (whoops -- his publicist is going to be pissed) so I have no idea who he is.

Wait, scratch that -- apparently he's "Garou". Just "Garou", they finally announce after he's done. (Have fun punching that into Google, I guess.)

Rick Hansen brings in the torch and passes it to Catarina Le May Doan, who passes it to Steve Nash, who passes it to Nancy Greene, who finally passes it to Wayne Gretzky, and then everybody stands around, and some music plays for a while and oh my god JUST LIGHT THE THING WHAT IS THE HOLDUP HERE

Brian Williams finally informs us that, actually, something is supposed to be happening -- the hydraulic system isn't working properly, but something's going to happen any second now. Then three pillars finally rise from the ground, and everything appears to be okay until Williams then mentions that, uh, there are supposed to be four pillars. "Possibly five", he adds. Then everybody stands around some more, and everyone except Le May Doan gets to light their pillar. They actually zoom in on her, looking awkward, and I can barely even put into words how hilarious and awful and embarrassing this is for the whole country.

It's a really good thing this is a one-shot ceremony, because somebody would definitely be losing their job over this otherwise! Ha ha ha ha, holy shit, that is amazing.

So once they finally, finally, finally get the indoor cauldron lit, a big barrage of fireworks lines the perimeter and Gretzky jogs out of the stadium to catch a car over to the outside cauldron -- and even then it takes him a minute or two to get there, and he's stuck behind some doors for a bit because they can't open too many doors at once without collapsing the inflatable roof.

11:00 PM

Wait, there he goes! They've loaded him onto the back of a truck, and now they're driving him around the city through the rain (!!) for like five or ten minutes while some dudes off the street run alongside the vehicle. Millions of dollars for a lavish, meticulously timed, thoroughly sanitized ceremony, and it ends with them sneaking a hockey player out a side door and driving him around in a pickup truck outside. I don't even know what that's supposed to say about our national character, and I'm not even going to make the attempt. I'm still waiting on Gretzky to--is he still not there yet?

11:15 PM

Oh, man, there we go! He's finally off the truck, he jogs through a pavillion, and finally -- finally -- finally -- he pops the flame along a pillar and it travels up to light the outdoor cauldron. Hey, so that's what it's supposed to look like with all four pillars!

Gretzky waves to everybody for a while and we get this interesting shot of him just wandering off into the night, seemingly unattended, before it cuts to overhead shots of the city and trails off into commercials.

I don't know what they're going to do for a post-show conclusion, but I'm desperately hoping it involves more exposition about what the fuck went wrong at the end of the ceremony. From a national perspective, yes, that was pretty mortifying -- but from a personal enjoyment standpoint, holy shit, I was laughing too hard to type I enjoyed that so much. Can you even imagine the epic freakouts people must have been having backstage when that went down? And the one guy who was responsible for that department sucking breath in through his teeth, turning to somebody next to him, and asking "You don't think anyone noticed, did you?"

We come back from commercial and, instead of my choice, we get a music video of the night's hightlights set to that "I Believe" song floating around lately. It's a pretty effective summary, actually, and I could have just watched this instead of slogging through the entire event in real time -- but then I wouldn't have seen that legendarily awful hydraulics bomb, so I really can't pretend that I haven't enjoyed the experience.

Williams talks over the end of the video to take the telecast home, and we crossfade to CTV News to end the show. (And, of course, the very first thing they do is show the footage of Nodar Kumaritashvili basically dying on impact. Just to remind everybody how the day started.)

Whoof! Well, that was certainly something. It is now very, very late and I am off to bed, but until I wake up and actually read everything I've just rambled out I'm going to arbitrarily declare this experiment a complete success. I hope you enjoyed it!

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