A Friday smile

Since I’m trying to get in the habit of posting weekly around the same time I upload chapters online, I thought this was the right week to leave this here.  We’ve been watching (and yelling at) a lot of Olympics in my house.

By the way — the BEST way to watch the NBC nightly Olympics is by pre-recording it and fast-forwarding.  800m races go a lot faster at double-time.  And also?  The backstroke and the breast-stroke look hilarious at high speed.  And you get to skip the gratuitous commercials and the filler!

Anyway.  In the spirit of the world coming together, I’m going to post this video.  It’s one of my favorites.  Matt Harding started just doing his goofy dances for his friends and wound up on a world-tour connecting people by the thousands.  I’ve even danced with him in one of his videos, though you can’t exactly see me in the crowd.

There are so many things that divide us as people.  But sometimes something very, very simple can unite us.

(You should check out all the videos and see how they developed over the years.  But this is the one that means the most to me.)

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Rio Olympics Opening Ceremony

In the great tradition of me being me, here’s me liveblogging the opening ceremony of the Rio Olympics 2016.  I’m not going to weigh in at this point on anything political surrounding the Olympics, not now, anyway.  I just want to enjoy the opening ceremony as it is presented.

So, here we go!

How many words start with ‘C’ that Matt Lauer can squeeze into one opening line? Let’s find out!

Can’t even get through the opening monologue without referencing shit in the water.  Going to be one of THOSE nights.

Running Jesus Tally (how many times have we seen the statue?) = 4

Commentary about the copy being read by whoever it is that should clearly be narrating a Nat Geo special on hippos and whales living in harmony or something.

Running Jesus Tally = 6 7 8

Eagle on your hat, huh?  Way to represent, USA.

Michael Phelps is adorable.  He just is.  Also, ears.

Marina: I never watched Olympic swimming until he (Michael Phelps) made a splash.
*Throws everything*

Okay, photobombing the interviews is EXCELLENT.  Good job, bored US athletes.

Running Jesus Tally = 9

Dude.  Costas.  What the fuck is on your table?  Mutated ashtrays?  A blue cabbage run amok?  The fuck?

Kinda digging the song for the opening here.  Though getting dizzy from all this top-down filming.

Running Jesus Tally = 10.  Also, top-down Jesus looks a little phallic.  Or a big phallic?

The metal sheets doing patterns are nifty.  I don’t know what they are supposed to symbolize, but they’re neat.  The costumes are probably murderously hot, though.  Go dedicated volunteers.

I LOVE THE ANTHEM.  HOLY CRAP.  BEAUTIFUL.

But how many verses does it have?  Just asking.

Also, I am NEVER watching the Olympics without being able to fast-forward the commercials ever again.  Seriously.

The water…the sand…the music…the greatest puppet crab thing ever…I have no words.  Beautiful.

Shiny green thing.  Totally mesmerized.

First Nations performers.  Wow.

Those ships are beautiful.  But Sarah has to make a “Mysterious Cities of Gold” joke and ruins the gravitas of the moment.  She’s good at that.  So am I, if I’m being honest.

Portrayal of the slave trade gets me kind of choked up.  The sound of the whip…yeah.

Also the transformation of the land.  Scars on the soul, scars on the Earth.

But also blending.  Building a new pattern out of different histories and cultures.  And representing them in waves and sets and song.  Gods we humans are a strange species.  We invade and we destroy and then we also create new worlds from the pieces we put together in new ways.  We can’t walk through the land without changing it, and then we change each other as we walk.

This is what happens when I’m left to this art and slightly psychedelic theater.

HOLY CRAP FORCED PERSPECTIVE.  HO. LY. CRAP.

Choreographer from cirque du soleil.  Yeah, that explains a lot.

Me: That is the steampunk-iest kite plane I’ve ever seen.
Sarah: It would fly.

Running Jesus Tally = 11 12 13 14

Honestly, the song outshines the supermodel.

Sarah: Can it be an Olympic sport to walk in those heels?
Geoff: No, it’s a super-power.  That’s why they call them SUPERmodels.*Enter discussion of 400m races in heels*

DANCING.  COLORS.  IMPRESSIVE.

Tiny go-carts!!!  I WANT ONE!!!

I like the passing back and forth of the music style.  The guys look like they’re enjoying themselves and the dancers are keeping both styles together.  And the lights keep…punching?  Do lights punch?  These ones on the floor do.

Fire!

This visualization of the divide between people and the conflict within politics and society in Brazil is really, really apt.  Chaotic and demarcated and always in motion.

Oh I don’t want to have to dance in that tinsel suit, though.  Warm.  And not cool.

During the dancing, we degenerate into a discussion of selfies during the ceremonies and the athletes entering which ends with a discussion of luge with a GoPro.  Someday the Olympics will not be on NBC; it’ll just be a bunch of live feeds from people’s helmets.

Nice fireworks, team.

Me: Michael Phelps and the USA Pips is not a good team name.
Eric: But it might be a good band name.

Statement on climate change.  HELL YES.

I’m having a very Wall-E moment here.  And Eve is voiced by Judi Dench.

Running Jesus Tally = 15

Looking at all the fruit, all I can think is the granadilla from Ecuador which we loved and I still miss.  I would pay anybody anything for a crate of those.  Seriously.  The fruit looks like fish eyes and tastes like heaven.  And I don’t believe in heaven.  Except in the form of granadillas.

Time for cake.

Running Jesus Tally = 16

The US gymnastics ladies looked like they were having fun.

MORE COMMERCIALS.  FAST FORWARD GO.

Parade of nations!

And first sign of a selfie stick.

Olympic glasses.  WHY?

And I don’t know about those arrow people.  Yes, it’s good for getting people going in the right direction, but…

Also, no egregious outfits so far.  That won’t last.

Barbados has a cool flag.

Hey!  I didn’t know Neil Patrick Harris was from Belarus!

The Benin outfits are nice, too.  I love the style.

Bermuda shorts.  Sigh.  But not surprised.

I dunno what that thing is, but it looks like a huge cheese grater.  Seriously.  What’s it for?

What the HELL was that weird shot of icky things in somebody’s green glove?  Looked like slugs or bird poop.  The hell?

One of the Colombians looks like Bill Nye.  Any other celebrities competing?

COSTA RICA YAY!

(I was an exchange student and lived in Costa Rica for a short time in high school.  It’s in my bones now and always will be, I think.)

I wanna know what’s up with the umbrella full of hats.  Seriously.  It’s in the background.  What is that thing?  Why is it there?  Are they confiscating hats?

Enter a heated debate about who will win gold when baseball is in the Olympics if the non-US players in the MLB played for their home countries.  I know next to nothing about baseball so I’m not involved.

The Spain delegation is clearly having a blast.  I’m glad.

New tune just before the US, huh?  Here we come.

Learning javelin-throwing from YouTube?  Yup, it’s a modern era.

Sarah: It looks like this is the year of fencing flag-bearers.
Geoff: I think some threats were made.  At the point of something sharp.

Indonesia…the hats.  Folded napkin things.  I…hope they mean something specific to that nation.  They don’t mean anything good to me.

The Italian flag-bearer has her birthday today.  Sarah cheers for someone having her birthday.

Oh.  Happy birthday, Sarah.  BEST WIFE EVAR!

Back to the parade of nations.

The talk about the Japanese population in Brazil sends Sarah on a hunt for details about why there is such a large Japanese population there.  This is how we fill up commercial breaks.  Except that I can fast-forward.  So I fast-forward and then pause.  It’s not exactly efficient.  But now we know about Japanese emigration to Brazil.

Mongolian flag-bearer uniform is super neat.

TIME TO SING THE NATIONS OF THE WORLD BY YAKKO.

FUCK.  I got stuck at Madagascar AGAIN.

Good job on the uniforms, Pakistan.  Norway, go learn from them.

And…cue the awkward silence as North Korea comes in.  The announcers literally don’t want to say anything.

And…cue the even more awkward Russian entrance.

It starts so slowly.  Now everybody has the ‘Nations of the World’ song in their heads and are very, very annoyed with me.  3 of the 4 people here have cursed at me in some capacity.  Good thing I like them all.

Syria.  Hell.  There’s the teariness.  We knew it wouldn’t take long.

Ah, that’s what those cheese graters are.  They’re for the seeds people will be depositing.  That makes slightly more sense.

Turkmenistan, that hat looks hot.  I’m sorry, flag-bearer.  Don’t die of heat, okay?

Turkey.  Fuck.

One of the things that matters most about the Olympics that has nothing to do with sports is the fact that we can come together as a single race of humanity regardless of our national origin and can celebrate that togetherness.  We can march with peace and excitement and joy and we can stand in a room with those who are our political or social or religious opposites.  We can face those we make war against and we can stand beside those we have failed.  It matters.  It’s just a symbol, but it’s also a truth.  A hope.  A future we may never reach but we must never stop trying to attain.

You can feel it if you close your eyes and let it find you.  It doesn’t matter if you’re ten thousand miles from the torch — you can feel the unity.  You can feel the hope.  You can feel the pride.  The tapestry of humanity at its shining best.  You can feel it and you can share in it.

And this is why we must never lose it.  We must never forget that we can come together and celebrate art and sport and diversity and effort and drive and courage.  We must hang onto this.

Because here comes the refugee team.  For them and for everyone like them.  They deserve a world like this, a world of togetherness.

And to you, refugees.  I am so sorry.

Okay, Brazil.  Let’s get this show on the road.

They still look like cheese graters, guys.  Or, as Geoff says, Daleks.  Dalek refrigerators, maybe.

Yeah.  You got me with the leafy rings thing.  You got me.

Running Jesus Tally = 17

Time for the IOC speech.  This guy is a lot more animated than the one 4 years ago.  Though Sarah notes the funny mumbly thing he does.  Hey, I’m not gonna judge.  If it were me, I’d be shaking too hard to hold onto the podium.

“We are living in a world of…mistrust, uncertainties. Here is our Olympic answer…living peacefully together, sharing their meals and their emotions.  In this Olympic world, there is one universal law.  We are all equal…we see that the values of our shared humanity are stronger than the forces which want to divide us.”  (As close as I could get typing along with sniffling)

“Dear refugee athletes.  You are sending a message of hope to all the millions of refugees around the world…You had to flee because of violence, hunger, or just because you were different…You are making a great contribution to society…We do not just tolerate diversity.  In this Olympic world, we welcome you as an enrichment to our unity in diversity.”

“We came into this world with nothing.  We will leave this world with nothing.  All we need is peace, love, and unity.” — Kip Kano

If you had any doubts about what really matters…well, now you know.

I feel like I should know the Olympic song words, but they never stay with me.  That children’s choir was great, though.

Well…those are some dancing things.  Squid?  Uh…seaweed?  I just…I have no idea.  What am I even looking at?  Some kind of foam Teletubbies that met up with the wrong end of a lawnmower?

Aw, who cares?  Dancing!

And the flame.  There’s magic in that, you know.  The fire carried from so far away that does not go out.  And yeah, I know that sometimes the touring torch goes out, but they bring a backup so that they can relight it from the source.  There’s power there.  And unity.  And continuity.  Eternity.  Even in something as fleeting as one small flame.

And here it is.

AND THAT SCULPTURE IS FUCKING AWESOME.  FUCKING BEAUTIFUL.

Running Jesus Tally = 18

Sarah says we have to close with the Jesus tally and fireworks.  Sounds like a good deal to me.

Good night all, and may the light and flame be with you always.

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