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Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Games are Open!

London welcomed the world to the Olympics last night with an opening ceremony that was, well.... interesting.  A veritable crazy-quit of all things Britannic, the ceremony began with a pale, pastoral scene that was neither attention-getting or exciting.  Miss Ginger is pretty sure it was supposed to represent the beginnings of the British Isles, but it seems to her there were some really important parts we skipped- Shakespeare and Stonehenge, come to mind.

After the little maypole dancers literally rolled up the grass and hauled it off-stage, we obsessed for what seemed like hours over the dark,  dingy, grey depiction of the industrial revolution.  Miss Ginger gets that Great Britain led the world in the industrial revolution, and that the east end of the city, where the stadium sits, was the center of it all, but the building of those grey smokestacks by the people in black and brown outfits was just dreary!  The only redeeming part was the pyrotechnics at the end, when the rings rose from the forge in a shower of flames. 

The pace and color did pick up a bit with the entrance of the Queen.  Here's the part where one would expect a certain amount of droll pageantry; instead, we celebrated British slapstick by parachuting Her Majesty into the cheering stadium along with Bond- James Bond!  That was an Olympic moment that won't soon be forgotten, and made the whole thing worth watching in Miss Ginger's opinion!  

After that, it just got kind of goofy. While she admires the Brits' pride in their National Health System, and wonders aloud if America could ever take national pride in any government program, she thought the whole sequence of kids in pale pajamas dancing on beds, with nannies dressed in black parabrelling down from the rafters kind of boring and, again, colorless. Then something about scary dreams- the scariest of which was the enormous inflatable child that was just plain creepy! Bi-racial kids dancing with iPhones- jet packs- British music tribute- it all became a boring blur around this part.

The parade of athletes reeled it back in, and Miss G couldn't help but notice the number of handsome tennis players that seemed to be selected to carry the flags of so many countries!  She's going to have to add tennis to her list of sports to watch! With each country's arrival came another petal for the Olympic cauldron,  and once they were all in place, the arrival of the Olympic flame by speedboat on the Thames was unique and clever.  

The wrap up performance by Sir Paul McCartney was special for Miss G in a tug-at-your-heart kind of personal way that could only be appreciated by GingerNation.  "Hey, Jude" has one of those weird, warm childhood memories for her.  As a tiny boy, probably around 3 or 4,  Baby Boy G would go up to Bubba Arthur's room and beg him: "Artie, sing our song" to which Artie (who was NOT a musician) would say "Why do you want me to sing it? It always makes you cry!"  I would, of course, tell him, "No! I'm not gonna cry this time- I promise!" and after much pleading, could get him to sing the song.  And, of course, I would cry.  I'm still not sure why... I guess because he was singing about a "sad song", and making things better.  Anyway, by the time we would get to the na na na na's, I would join in singing, and he would tickle me, and we would end up laughing, and singing, and tickling and giggling 'til Daddy yelled for us to be quiet! So now, any time she hears "Hey, Jude" Miss G gets misty eyed.

So, we didn't get the colorful, precise spectacle we saw in Beijing- in fact, we got very little color at all.  Or precision, for that matter.  But what we did get was an interesting, loud, uniquely British start to the games.

Did you watch, GingerSnaps?  What did you think of the games?  


Romance said...

Sadly- I don't have a television and streaming was nowhere to be found- I love "Hey Jude" - Lala has me sing it to her and calls it "that sad song I love" - it makes both girls tear up and they beg for it over and over.... thanks for highlighting the ceremony.


behrmark said...

I missed portions of the ceremonies and missed the arrival of Betty Windsor...please 'splain Lucy why she looked pissed off throughout. LOVED the cauldron lighting...indeed an awesome message of inspiration. And LOVED Rowan Atkinson!

Miss Ginger Grant said...

I think she looked pissed off because it was 10:30 at night and she wanted to get her Royal ass to bed!

Beth said...

We loved it here at Nutwood! I also used the phrase "uniquely British." It sort of appealed to my sense of chaos and absurdity. I was also a HUGE fan of the music that was played...the British have a well-deserved place in rock and roll history (I think American music and British music fed off of each other...think of the Stones grooving on American blues and making it something MORE...but that's an essay for another day.), and as one friend put it, "It's like the soundtrack of my life!" That's how I felt about it, too.

I loved the Queen/James Bond part, too, but I'm a total Bond girl, and I love Daniel Craig. He's my new favorite Bond, even over Sean Connery. A while back, I remember emailing a British musician friend of mine about the latest Bond movie at the time, wondering if Bond was as big there as he is here. He was like, "Are you kidding? He's a BRITISH secret agent! Bond is HUGE here." Duh, Beth! haha So I'm not surprised that Bond made an appearance. That was hilarious. Apparently it was the Queen's first acting gig, too!

We love our Olympics!

Hey, what the hell, Capcha? Why is my word verification "needHelp"? How rude. ;)

MadeInScotland said...

Yes, I think a lot was lost in translation but also in what was shown. Having seen the final dress run on the Wednesday night in the stadium, I have to say that so much was missed on TV (we all saw the same TV show - worldwide).

The green and pleasant land was inspired by Shakespeare (Isles of Wonder - the Sir Kenneth Branagh speech was Taliban's from The Tempest - Shakespeare was there big time - the main inspiration, Sir Ken probably one of the best known Shakespearean actors, and the speech) and by the most English of anthems - a short poem by Blake turned into an English (not British) anthem by Parry. Lyrics provide:

And did those feet in ancient time.
Walk upon Englands mountains green:
And was the holy Lamb of God,
On Englands pleasant pastures seen!

And did the Countenance Divine,
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here,
Among these dark Satanic Mills?

So there you have the pleasant pastures turned to dark Satanic Mills.

In fact it was also an allegory of a simple country life being devoured forever by industrialisation- the tree was uprooted and out spewed the workers to uproot a way of life forever. And to celebrate that the industrial revolution was here in Britain.

In the stadium the scale of the transition was MASSIVE.

The NHS scene was fairly political. Greatly celebrated funding cuts mean it is under attack - and its a long hot political topic. You saw the NHS dream turning into a nightmare. JK Rowling read some stuff and we saw a giant Queen of Hearts, Cruella de Vil and her dalmations (they were never shown on the TV) and a giant Voldemort. We saw these witches fly overhead to join him (and you see them in my clips here:

Made in Scotland: London 2012 - Olympics Opening Ceremony - NHS

but sadly they were only briefly shown on TV landing).

But suddenly we see they were not witches - the umbrella's opened and they weren't just any Nanny - it was Mary Poppins, who saved the day, and all was well. So we had Alice in Wonderland, 101 Dalmations, Mary Poppins and Harry Potter - but will our NHS be saved?

Then we has Twitter/ Facebook social networking to celebrtate that the invention of the world wide web by Britain Tim Berners-Lee.

The Abide with Me sequence was a tribute to and acknowledgement that the day after it was announced that London had won the 2012 olympics, we had the 7/7 London bombings in which 52 innocent members of the public were murdered.

Mr Bean - who he?!


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