The Games Have Begun!

Saturday, 7 March 2009

So, what did you think?

Of the Opening Ceremony, I mean. Showy enough for you?

Me – (opening myself to scathing attack) – I’m not so sure. It started out well. Really well. Loved the drumming – mind boggling. Loved the cuisinaire rods jutting up and down in machine-like motion, the holes sucking down like quicksand, rolling waves and the sudden appearance of ancient Chinese characters. Sooooo cool. And my husband and I took bets on the fact that there were very busy little men underneath doing all the hard work. What a delight it was to see their smiling faces pop up from the bowels of this contraption when they were done. Beautiful.

China sure has manpower and they used it remarkably, but once the ancient scroll rolled out and those lissom dancers tumbled their way over the canvas, it sort of just plateaud from there – still impressive, of course – but, I don’t know… I just wanted to be wow kapowed.

The be-robed scholars with the tall headpieces – could have taken or left. The puppets – great up close, but frustratingly non-kapowing when shared amongst one kajillion people, worldwide. The school kiddies? I guess I’ve seen my fair share of cute Chinese school kids, but what were they doing exactly? And the pianist with the bored tot yawning next to him? Hmmm.

What else? The nanosecond with the Chinese opera singer, and was there another gorgeous princess woman in there somewhere; what was she doing again? The sailing boat flags were fun, but kinda been done before, as was the people floating in the air and the little girl "singing" (footnote: I picked this well before the truth came out). The minority kids – gorgeous but perhaps a little twee? The globe was pretty awesome and I really really liked Sarah Brightman and Liu Huan’s You and Me. Wonderful. Other than that? The fireworks were – well, fireworks. Fireworks are always great.

Look, this is just an opinion. You might have fallen over from ecstasy, talking in tongues. I just didn’t. Maybe I expected too much from China. Maybe I expected three gold-dipped emperors entering a vacant arena on horseback to the sound of a single gong. Maybe I was waiting for the Great Wall to emerging from the floor in a cloud of mist. And yes yes – maybe I expected a dragon or two. Perhaps a little predictable, but my goodness, they are fun. Especially when combined with those tsinging cymbals.

Maybe we just had to be there.

Nonetheless! We enjoyed the spectacle from the comfort of our lounge room, and the kids were allowed to stay up all night, as a treat. Ella lasted till 9pm before she started groaning from fatigue and Riley’s eyes started rolling in his head soon after. By 10.30pm he was asleep on my chest and Ella had already disbanded to bed, miffed that the Australian athletes had not yet made an appearance (the ceremony ran 45 minutes late) and that she had not yet seen The Flame.

Happily, this morning, they replayed the Ceremony and she saw The Flame, which was pretty special. No kapow. But very special. What is very special is the Games coverage today. Even though I can only understand 3 out of 100 words they’re saying, the CCTV coverage is pretty darn special – with a different sport on each of its channels. It really is television-viewer Nirvana. I can flick between about five different channels and get giddy from the choice. Have already seen China win its first gold – Chen Xiexia won first place in the female 48kg weightlifting (now that girl kapowed me!).

But seriously, why oh why didn’t ESPN put an English-speaking commentator or two on duty? For those of us without the luxury of high-end sporting satellite connections, I will never understand this decision for as long as I live. How could Beijing abandon the countless expats and tourists who will be left in the audio dark for the next two weeks unless they elbow their way into a smoky, sweaty bar?

That said, so long as I get to clap my eyes onto the most sport I possibly can in the next two weeks, I’m a happy housewife. I’ve even got the kids hepped up and we have a national flag (one Australia, one China, of course) in the most prized place of all – right over the tele.

Aodaliya jia you! Go Australia!

First published on the City Weekend Beijing website.

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