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The Olympics: Over and Out

by Angel Cohn August 25, 2008 10:34 am
The Olympics: Over and Out

Is it wrong that I got a little teary-eyed during the Closing Ceremonies of the Olympics this weekend? Not just because they were beautiful and stunning (which they were) but because I kind of feel like there is no way that any Olympics in my lifetime are going to be able to top these in terms of scale and drama. London's a great city and all, but I can't imagine them getting the amount of volunteers (which they estimate to be about 1 million people, some of whom trained for nine months) or spending the amount of cash (which they estimate to be about 40 billion dollars, if you include infrastructure and everything) to create something so very special. From the Opening ceremonies, which left me breathless, to the action in the pool and on the track, which had me on the edge of my seat, to the creative closing ceremonies which turned an oft forgettable event into something magnificently wonderful.

I had my complaints about the coverage (if you've been reading this blog, you know), and had more during this weekend, but the closing ceremonies were a perfect culmination of it all, which made me willing to overlook many of the flaws... at least until the news comes that half of it was faked. But where else are you going to see Jackie Chan singing, followed by the legendary Placido Domingo? It's just crazy I tell you. Especially when Mary Carillo (who is far less annoying when I don't have to watch her doing stupid things) explained that they had no access to the bird's nest before this event and everything was rehearsed outside and then brought to life within five hours. Five hours? To assemble the memory tower that's stable enough to support the weight of hundreds of men swarming up and down it in rapid succession? A mere five hours to bring in a giant transformer bus that housed Leona Lewis, Jimmy Page, David Beckham and a mock London Skyline I could believe, but to also find a way to suspend giant inflated balloons and giant cloth strips? That's just insane. By comparison, the London "hand-off" presentation, featured a big long catwalk-y stage with a teeming crowd and Michael Phelps looking oddly uncomfortable in his newfound fame status and some airplanes flying overhead. Big whoop. Those UK folks have their work really cut out for them.

Some other highlights and lowlights of the final weekend of Olympic Coverage:
-- Bryan Clay won the decathlon and then promptly fell to the ground in exhaustion. There was a brief camera shot where it showed all of the decathletes just lying on the ground. Proving that this is an exhausting competition. Would have been nice if they would have showed more of it, instead of just highlights of the winner.

-- Mary Carillo learned kung fu from Monks. She was tasked to punch them in the stomach, I might have enjoyed it more if it were the other way around.

-- It's nice to know that the US isn't the only team with relay issues; the dominant Jamaican women's 4x100 team also fumbled a hand-off and were eliminated from the competition.

-- Realizing that the marathon is how this whole Olympics thing started, did we really need to watch the entire Men's marathon unfold Live? I would have been fine with like 15 minutes at the start and end and then random check-ins throughout the course of the race. Perhaps while they were showing highlights from the women's basketball final, or synchronized swimming... just a suggestion.

-- Team rhythmic gymnastics were awesome, the flips, the twists, the flexibility, it is just nuts. Individual competitions were also just insane and stunning to watch. Poor sport that is like the ugly stepsister to the artistic gymnastics. Gets so little love, but really is quite impressive.

-- My father made me watch the end of the men's volleyball game where the US upset the Brazilian team. It was actually cool, but I'm so over volleyball at this point. It's brought up some painful high school gym class memories for me that I'd like to smoosh way, way down.

-- Do you think someone gave all of the US track stars a big ass lecture after the disastrous 4x100 relays? Because, even though it is a different group of runners, the 4x400 men and women's teams both won gold and didn't even bobble their batons once.

-- Let's hear it for the underdogs! From Matt Mitchum (the cute Australian diver who somehow managed to beat out the insanely dominant Chinese diving team) to Tia Hellebaut (the Belgian chick who beat the reigning world champion in the high bar) these people really know something about the Olympic spirit.

And with that, these games are officially done, we can now return to our regularly scheduled programming. Guess I'll have to start talking about Fall TV shows, or something.

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