Sunday, August 10, 2008

Just In Case You Didn't Know...

Friday night at 8:08 pm (on 8/8/08 to be exact), the Summer Olympics opened in Beijing, China. Thank God for DVR. I missed the opening ceremonies because some friends thought it might be fun to surprise me with a wild "Girls' Night Out". Don't ask me about what happened. I've decided not to blog about it in all fairness to my friends who had a great time, though I spent most of the evening wishing I was home with my boys. Anyway, B informed me yesterday morning that he had recorded the opening ceremonies and that we could watch it later on in the day. (Did I mention how much I love my husband?) After dinner, we tuned in to the spectacle that was the beginning of the Olympic Games in China. It was beautiful, awe-inspiring, and just plain fun to watch. The technology and precision involved in such a program was just staggering. Apparently, the creator of the ceremonies, who is known for his cinematic achievements, employed around 15,000 Chinese performers to make it happen, none of whom were utilized more than once throughout the entire evening. When asked why he decided to have so many people in his creation, he wryly stated, "Well, we have the people for it." (I'm paraphrasing there, but still, it's funny because it's true.) If you missed the opening ceremonies, I highly recommend finding someone who has recorded it and borrowing their TV/VCR/DVR for a few hours. Or, maybe there's a YouTube version somewhere out there. It's something that really should not be missed! I went ahead and watched the entire "Parade of Nations", which took about 2 hours alone to accomplish, and I loved the fact that the Chinese were so willing to welcome and applaud even the nations that may not be their friends at all. The theme for the evening was "One World, One Dream", and they really pulled that theme off, even to the end during the lighting of the Olympic Torch, which was the most spectacular part of the evening. I felt for the last Olympian with the torch, who was hoisted into the air on wires and literally "ran" the entire length around the stadium suspended in mid-air until he came to the torch, where he lit a fuse that ignited the entire thing beautifully. The conversation leading up to such an event must have been fascinating: "Sir, would you mind lighting the Olympic Torch for us?" "You want me!?!" "Yes, but in order to do it, you will be flown hundreds of meters into the air by wires." "Okay..." "And then, we'll have you sort of stand sideways while hanging from the wires and pretend to run, while said wires move you along the entire circumference of the stadium." "Uhhh...." "Finally, when you reach the Torch, you'll light a long fuse running up to it, resulting in a several meter high flame near your hand and most likely your head and other major body parts." "Wow...errr, really? You want me to do all that?" I'm sure it was all much more professional than that, and from what I could tell, the Olympian must have trained for a very long time before his moment arrived. Still, it took a lot of guts, and the end result was just breathtaking! As soon as we finished watching the recording of the ceremonies, we switched to some actual Olympic coverage just in time to see swimmer Michael Phelps win his first gold medal. Swimming is one of my favorite events, probably because I'm not a particularly athletic person, but I do love to swim. The few events we watched did not disappoint. We also caught some of the men's gymnastics, another favorite of mine, before heading to bed. At this very moment as I blog this, our TV is tuned to NBC. The US basketball team, made up of NBA stars like Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, is playing against the Chinese team, led by Yao Ming. It makes for some exciting TV. We had just switched channels from the USA Network, which was covering women's weightlifting and equestrian events. The weightlifting was fascinating to watch with some tiny women with huge muscles lifting 250+ pound barbell weights! The equestrian events were much more graceful and flowing, though not as particularly exciting because it seemed as though the horses were just running in random lines and circles around the arena. I personally like to watch them run and jump the gates. Hopefully, we'll be able to catch some diving and women's gymnastics either later today or in the upcoming weeks. The Olympics just amaze me with so many talented people using their abilities to not only attempt to win a medal, but to also represent their various nations. Every time I watch the Games, it gives me hope for our future. Even though there are still conflicts occurring around the world, at least in one city for a couple of weeks, people from a variety of backgrounds come together for some "friendly" competition. I would like to say it's a truly unifying event, but I know that there are still political and cultural differences that mar the happy atmosphere surrounding it. At least during the opening ceremonies on Friday, it seemed to me that we do live in "one world" with "one dream". And maybe, when my son is my age, we will truly live in that world.

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