Notes from the Mobile Home 2: Olympics

I miss the Olympics already.  It was fun to have an “event” that warranted having the TV on during supper.  Not that it’s something to be desired, to have the TV on during supper, but it’s the kind of thing that children remember.  “When the Olympics were on we would watch them during supper.”  Plus, it was nice to have 2-weeks of explicit and unquestioned solidarity with the rest of the nation.

It was strange to not have the TV on today, but probably for the best.  I wouldn’t have completed any work if it had been on.

My assessment of the Olympics:

» The opening ceremonies started with a whimper.  In fact, I was quite afraid that it was going to turn into an embarrassment.  All I remember about the beginning was a video opening of someone heli-snowboarding and then a transition to the stadium where this snowboarder jumped through the Olympic rings as some snow poofed out of them.  I think that was the low point.  Forget the mechanical failure on the indoor “cauldron” (as it happened, that serendipitously turned into a great self-deprecating moment in the closing ceremonies)–the low point was the half-assed poof of snow as the snow-boarder jumped through the rings.  But things picked up from there and it turned into quite an impressive show, full of heart-warming Canadiana. (It reminded me that I must read Who Has Seen the Wind? again soon.)

» Gold medal for Most Awkward Moment of the Entire Olympics games goes to Wayne Gretzky’s bizzare 10 minute ride in the back of a pickup truck, all the while holding the Olympic torch aloft, to get to the Olympic cauldron in order to light it.  An utterly bizarre and poorly planned/executed moment.  At the very least they could have made sure that fans were lining the streets, but they were nearly empty, as I recall.

» Thrilled and frustrated throughout the Olympics with the performance of and results for Canada’s.  Many a tear came to my eye at the medal ceremonies. The men’s hockey team in particular nearly gave me a heart attack with an ulcer attached, wrapped in a bladder infection.  In fact, they nearly shut down my entire body.  But it was all worth it in the end.  I had hoped that Crosby would get the winning goal and he did.  I know next to nothing about him, not having followed hockey closely for some years, but somehow it seemed fitting.  And the assist to Iginla.  Perfect.

» Jay Onrait, incidentally, was a joy to watch and listen to.  I’ve always enjoyed his anchoring work.  Apparently he’s a “d-bag”. That may well be, but I’ll reserve judgment.  If he is, he’s a terribly funny “d-bag”.

» Closing ceremonies were a mixed bag–dull speeches about the triumph of the human spirit spoken in a French which even a newborn could tell was butchered and then a series of humourous, self-deprecating moments (I’m curious to know how non-Canadians interpreted all the voyageurs, inflated beavers, moose and mounties), including fun appearances by William Shatner, Catherine O’Hara and Michael J. Fox.

And then a totally fitting rendition of “Long May You Run” by Neil Young.  In my opinion, “Long May You Run” should have ended the show, but the show went on.

Now, I have nothing personal (other than my tastes) against all the other artists who performed, but what was intended to be a display of Canadian talent ended up mostly being a display of “People Who Were Born in Canada”, the initial message seemingly “Canada: where everyone in search of fame and fortune moves away” or “Canada: We repel our talent”.

The arc of the closing ceremonies went something like this: from world famous people who no longer live in Canada (and some not for decades) to artists who actually live and work in Canada but who are unknown even to Canadians.  Somehow the organizers missed the middle way.

I think for a rock concert in the context of the Olympics, they should have had artists who we might consider our Best Kept Secrets.  In my books that would include the likes of Blue Rodeo, The Tragically Hip, Bruce Cockburn, Brent Butt, Red Green, etc.  (I don’t expect you, dear reader, to agree with my choices.)

At one point I suggested that a performance by The Arcade Fire would redeem the whole thing.  Of course, that means I wish for the very thing I’ve been criticizing.  Or do they still live in Montreal?  Let’s say they do.  At any rate, they did not perform.

In spite of all this, I give the closing ceremonies a (tentative) thumbs up and the Olympics as a whole an enthusiastic thumbs up.

4 thoughts on “Notes from the Mobile Home 2: Olympics

  1. Kylee-Anne

    Hahaha. Marc, I’d like to think that my brother is wrong about Jay Onrait being a d-bag (I still am not sure what the “d” stands for).
    And you’re absolutely right about the Best Kept Secrets. They should have been the ones to represent Canada.

  2. Andrew

    A reluctant thumbs down for the closing for me… The self-deprecation was a little too heavy-handed and obvious.

    And as much as I like Michael J Fox, et al, those choices seemed odd since as you say each one (except perhaps O’Hara?) hasn’t lived in Canada forever.

    The concert portion was flat-out atrocious with VANOC’s choice of prefab middle-of-the-road blandness.

    I agree with you that, since obviously ratings were not an issue here given the global nature of the event, this would have been the perfect opportunity to showcase new and exciting Canadian talent. A lost opportunity, I think.

  3. Simon

    I also cringed and smirked at Gretzky’s long, long, long ride in the back of a pickup truck to light the cauldron. I sort of found it fittingly awkward and Canadian that it should be done so, but I still couldn’t help but cringe a bit. The “WTF?!” look on his face for most of the ride really helped pull it off.

    I had similar criticisms for the closing ceremony bands selected. Neil Young *should* have closed things down, but I guess they wanted a more popular flair as a send-off. Whatever. I’m not going to judge harshly, but I will criticize!

    I absolutely adored the whole schtick with the giant moose and beavers and mounties. There’s a part of me that sincerely hopes there’s a good chunk of the world that assumes we meant that in all seriousness as a portrayal of sincere Canadian symbolism. And I’m pretty sure there is.

    Good times; I miss it already. My boys are back to watching Teletoon on a daily basis and no longer have the same reason to roll their eyes at me when I insisted on CTV all evening every day.

  4. Collette

    usually I’d be irritated that the old dusty standards were used to represent Canada. usually I’d want someone interesting, and relevant. but, I read an article in a UK newspaper that kinda changed my mind. the article went on and on about how they had no idea Alanis, Avril, and the rest were Canadian. they talked about how most people would assume they were American. it reminded me of the roommate I had once from Finland. I was always pointing out Canadian things to her, including of course musicians, singers, and actors. most of the time she was surprised. she did the same for Finnish stars. when she moved away she thanked me for introducing her to Canadian culture, including all of those famous people who were Canadian.

    as well, I felt the most Canadian when I lived in Scotland. I didn’t leave Canada — I just happend to live in Scotland.

    as much as I’d have rather seen Great Lake Swimmers or Owen Pallet or Blue Rodeo play the closing ceremonies, I’m pretty okay with who did.

    except Nickleback!!! aaaaaaaaaaaagggggghhhhh!

    (and having said all that, I didn’t watch the closing ceremonies! hahahah! but I would have. I don’t have cable. I still think I might watch them online at some point. maybe. I already know what happened thanks to the media, Facebook, and Twitter, so as time goes on, I’m kinda less motivated.)

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