What are the London Olympic organizers thinking right now?  In the immortal words of Bill Paxton,"That's it man, game over man, game over." 

I was amazed by the opening ceremonies last night.  I am not sure how that will ever be topped, particularly since most democracies cannot reasonably pour several billion dollars into a single three or four hour show.  I guess one could make some Triumph of the Will allusions, but it was really the most amazing meld of technology and showmanship I have ever seen.


  1. Kyle Bennett:

    When it comes to the symbolic, the superficial, the one-off, communism will always be able to do bigger and better. When it comes to substance, sustainability, and lasting value... not so much. China is attempting to be a mix of the two: communism for the symbolic and transient, capitalist-ish for the lasting value. But in the long run, they don't mix.

  2. ElamBend:

    Great Aliens allusion.

  3. Bryan Pick:

    I missed the show, but I've heard enough about it that I'm interested in seeing more than a couple-minutes recap. Anyone know where I can catch the full ceremonies?

  4. dearieme:

    "What are the London Olympic organizers thinking right now?" They''ll have to start with a public execution of Tony Blair?

  5. gmsc:

    Leni Riefenstahl would've been proud of that opening ceremony.

  6. bob prangnell:

    Am I alone in finding is cheesy, tacky and vomit-inducing?

  7. Vangel Vesovski:

    It certainly was not cheesy or tacky. I thought that Zhang Yimou created a show that is unlikely to be topped in my lifetime. I do not mean just an opening ceremony but any live show of a material duration. The contrasts presented were amazing even if much of what was seen is too subtle for the average Westerner who is not familiar with Chinese symbolism and culture. When a DVD of the opening ceremonies is put on sale I will certainly buy one.

  8. Sandy:

    Thank you so much for being the only blogger to have the courage to comment on this. It's not PC to even mention how beautiful it was. I found it extraordinary and breath taking. The artistry, dance, talent and sheer enormity of the human effort was beyond anything I could have imagined or that will be repeated in our lifetime.

  9. The Choir:

    Freakin' spectacular. Really, truly impressive.

    @Bryan Pick

    Don't worry. As great as it was, there'll be a huge demand for it on DVD.

    @Bob Prangnell

    Dude, what are you talking about? How is the world could you not have found it stunningly awe-inspiring? It was the best Olympic opening ceremony I've ever seen, and I've seen them all since '84.

    I love the idea that they've got 100 million people enjoying capitalism, and 1.2 billion waiting in the wings. Look out, world.

  10. Billy Beck:

    I've remarked here & there: I've worked as a stage-lighting designer and director for thirty-one years. That was the biggest cued lighting production I ever saw. That was an enormous space for them to be playing it the ways that they did, and the technical aplomb was astounding. The "floating rings" gag was very cute: it's not terribly complex in concept or execution, until you realize the space they're playing it in. The fly-rigging in the whole show was just crazy.

    It set new standards in rock-production (yes; that's what it is) scale.

    I could weep when I consider where it comes from. Ayn Rand wrote about this stuff: "The Monument Builders".

  11. Bill Lever:

    Many must be expecting the Beijing 2008 Olympics to be a lot like the Berlin 1936 Olympics, so the fabulous propaganda is all planned and going to happen (and it's ok to enjoy it for its techincal achievement).

    I agree with Kyle Bennett's comment in that the incentive structure of totalitarianism can produce temporary "photo opportunities", but only the long-term incentive structure of individual freedom and capitalism properly encourages the productity of an entire nation.

    A reward system along the lines of "Eat what you kill" is ultimately more productive than " each according to his needs."

    On your excellent advice, I watched the YouTube clip of "Triumph des Willens", and got the feeling that it was just the 1935 version of "Yes We Can" and the personality-cult productions we have seen since.

    Hope in a face. Hitler's then, Obama's now. Add stirring background music.

    If the masses start doing the "O" salute for the party convention, it will be even creepier.

  12. K:

    I think China closed off the big spectacle option. That is for the best. We would think it insane if nations kept bidding for the exclusive right to build the largest pyramid or tallest building every four years.

    The UK should reduce the scale - they can hardly increase it - and concentrate on good service and facilities and sensible pricing.

    But if they insist on going big they should build new facilities along the Thames, then freeze the river in August and let visitors ice skate to events.

  13. Stephanie:

    As spectacular as it was. It has been confirmed that part of the show was fake. And the young lady singing was chosen for her looks. You heard a different girl's voice.

    But it will be hard to top it. Wonder what the closing ceremony has in store?

  14. It's A Show, not an audition:

    @ ErikTheRed & Stephanie

    "part of the show was fake"

    All of the show was fake. The waves of water and wind, weren't really made of water nor wind. The images of things on the giant screens weren't really those things, rather they were only images. The guys rowing the boats, weren't really in boats, and they weren't really rowing them. The flying guy who lit the torch, wasn't really flying.

    You guys are missing the point: it was a spectacular show, truly impressive! But it was a SHOW, not a live concert by your favorite band. Lip-synching is entirely acceptable in a show. All kinds of make-believe are not only acceptable in a show, but expected! Realism and fidelity to reality were not even supposed to be factors in this rendition of the opening ceremonies. I'd think that would be obvious.

    Enjoy the story! Get wrapped up in the power of the moment! Don't nitpick with comments like "Hey, she's not really singing, and that guy's not really flying!!"