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August 8, 2008 9:29 PM   Subscribe

Opening the Olympic Ceremony with a bow to ancient Chinese tradition, 2,008 Drummers on the traditional Fou drums.

A gorgeous photo of the drummers, with other photos of the opening ceremonies.

More about the fou's role in the ceremony.

The fou dates from the Xia Dynasty - the first of the ancient Chinese dynasties ca. 2100 BC–1600 BC
posted by grapefruitmoon (117 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by a third party.

It was pretty damn cool though.
posted by NoMich at 9:31 PM on August 8, 2008


mods! Please delete this since the video has been (somewhat predictably) removed already.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 9:32 PM on August 8, 2008


Here's a video of much lower quality that someone made by putting a camera to their TV.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 9:35 PM on August 8, 2008


Saw it live last night, on Japanese TV, at my local okonomiaki joint. It was pretty damn impressive, I have to say. And according to the commentary, the drummers were directed by the well-known movie director, Zhang Yimou. Too bad the YT clip has been pulled.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:39 PM on August 8, 2008


That was an awesome opening ceremony. Hell, that synchronized stuff they were doing should be an event itself.
posted by RavinDave at 9:40 PM on August 8, 2008


The Big Picture blog on Boston.com has some truly stunning photos of the event.
posted by ssmith at 9:49 PM on August 8, 2008 [3 favorites]


I missed it. I'm counting on the odds of a billion internet users, 1 person found a way to record the OC and get it online. Torrent?
posted by stbalbach at 9:51 PM on August 8, 2008


That said though, you can't fully appreciate everything without the movement. Just jaw dropping. (especially the Chinese type section) The one thing that the still pictures do have going for them, however, is that they don't tend to have Bob Costas constantly yammering over them.
posted by ssmith at 9:54 PM on August 8, 2008


Each drum is lovingly crafted from the skin of a whole Tibetan.
posted by orthogonality at 10:01 PM on August 8, 2008 [21 favorites]


What an incredible spectacle. As far as mobilizing resources for human entertainment (not to mention an incredible show of power) this opening ceremony is pretty much the height of human civilization, ever. Enjoy it while it lasts, people!
posted by OverlappingElvis at 10:01 PM on August 8, 2008


Yeah. I want to see this. Somebody will surely torrent the thing in high def.
posted by Justinian at 10:09 PM on August 8, 2008


how to view Youtube's Olympics channel inside the U.S.

Valleywag's guide to watching the olympics online.

I haven't tried any of this, although I'd be curious to watch the opening ceremonies.
posted by delmoi at 10:14 PM on August 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


I like turtles!
posted by ZachsMind at 10:15 PM on August 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I could do without Costas' jabbering. Still watching the athlete's parade here on the West Coast, and the ceremony has been just lovely. Zhang Yimou has done an amazing job. My daughter was adopted from China two years ago and she had no idea why I was weepy when I started watching it.
posted by Miastar at 10:25 PM on August 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


here is a 3.26 gig torrent promising a "Full HD" copy of the opening ceremony.
posted by delmoi at 10:27 PM on August 8, 2008


delmoi, currently the youtube links are being yanked off the internet as people are finding their way around youtube's security. So as to the first link you posted working, it does no longer work. Though I did get into their website, there weren't any videos.

As to the second and third suggestions pointed out in the second link, they might work, but they'll take more work than just looking for a link.
posted by kayalovesme at 10:33 PM on August 8, 2008


I found some song that included Jackie Chan and an Elvis impersontator which had a translation but it took me awhile to find a 'real' translation. There were a lot of fakes. Now, I'm having trouble finding the fakes but they were a lot more entertaining. =)
posted by ZachsMind at 10:46 PM on August 8, 2008


here is a 3.26 gig torrent promising a "Full HD" copy of the opening ceremony

I hate to be a scaremonger, but d'ya think the Chinese authorities might be tracking downloaders?
posted by five fresh fish at 10:49 PM on August 8, 2008


You know what the Beijing Olympics really needs? Big Red Balls.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:51 PM on August 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


As impressive as it may be, I couldn't help (and I was playing a gig at the time with the sound turned off) a Berlin '36 vibe from the whole affair.
posted by sourwookie at 10:54 PM on August 8, 2008


"d'ya think the Chinese authorities might be tracking downloaders?"

That tempts me to go download it just to see what might happen to me. I live a boring life. Might do me some good to have it suddenly turned into a bad sequel to Rush Hour. Have the Chinese authorities chase me all over the world and threaten bodily harm. Maybe kidnap someone I care about so I have to hide in a chinese restaurant and accidently play furniture fu with some big bad's face. Maybe flirt with a gorgeous chinese woman who turns out to be a double agent but she falls in love with me cuz I'm such a stud and I do all my own stunts and I have a cool hip sidekick crazy person who cusses a lot and wears strange clothes.

You mean none of that would happen? Well hell. It's not even worth the bother then.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:55 PM on August 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


I hate to be a scaremonger, but d'ya think the Chinese authorities might be tracking downloaders?

There are about 10,000 leechers and 300 seeds according to my currently-downloading copy in Azureus. Quite frankly, what are they going to do about it? If you're paranoid (of what? again, what could the Chinese government do to me?), pipe through Tor.
posted by DecemberBoy at 10:58 PM on August 8, 2008


I'm sure China doesn't give a fuck. NBC, on the other hand has always been crazy assholes about "unauthorized" rebroadcasts.
posted by amuseDetachment at 10:59 PM on August 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


As impressive as it may be, I couldn't help (and I was playing a gig at the time with the sound turned off) a Berlin '36 vibe from the whole affair.

but feel. Please insert after the closing parenthesis.
posted by sourwookie at 11:00 PM on August 8, 2008


I know I'm stating the obvious DelMoi but it's in chinese. Why would I download something I can't hope to comprehend?

...are there any babes in tight clothing?
posted by ZachsMind at 11:07 PM on August 8, 2008


I'm sure China doesn't give a fuck. NBC, on the other hand has always been crazy assholes about "unauthorized" rebroadcasts.

The torrent link in this thread is from a Chinese broadcast. The country of China itself wouldn't have any rights to it anyway, the copyright holders are the individual broadcasters.
posted by DecemberBoy at 11:07 PM on August 8, 2008


I thought lighting the Olympic torch at the end of the ceremonies with the flaming buddhist monk was a bit over the top.
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:14 PM on August 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


NBC has had declining viewership for the Olympics every year. You know I don't think they get it that I may not want massively US centric coverage surrounded by conversations wth and, minutiae about athletes I'm not interested in. All I want is to see world class competition and be blown away. The movement of their bodies, their determination and precision as far as I am concerned speak far more eloquently to me than anything else can or will. Next time I hope that youtube buys the Olympics contract.
posted by Rubbstone at 11:20 PM on August 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


"...Next time I hope that youtube buys the Olympics contract."

Now that's something I'd actually pay to see.

...

Naw, who am I kiddin'?
posted by ZachsMind at 11:23 PM on August 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm counting on the odds of a billion internet users, 1 person found a way to record the OC and get it online.

Here's a decent montage.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:33 PM on August 8, 2008


The torrent link in this thread is from a Chinese broadcast. The country of China itself wouldn't have any rights to it anyway, the copyright holders are the individual broadcasters.

Yep, and it's NBC that licenses the copyright in the US. Even if it's a foreign rebroadcast, it's usually NBC that gets their panties in a knot over here (most of the time, they get upset over other news stations showing clips).
posted by amuseDetachment at 11:38 PM on August 8, 2008


Geez, UbuRoivas! Why didn'tcha just link to a RickRoll? At least that's more respectable than The OC... oh wait. i get it. cute.
posted by ZachsMind at 11:41 PM on August 8, 2008


Ah. Here we go. the official song of the 2008 Beijing Olympics with english subtitles. the insensitive and culturally offensive translation

"When they tell you to dress live Elvis..."
posted by ZachsMind at 11:45 PM on August 8, 2008


Fortunately the Channel 7 broadcast of the opening ceremony (in Australia) had technical problems which knocked out the commentary for the first hour or so but left the broadcast otherwise unharmed (except for the damned ads they played sporadically). It was nice being able to enjoy it without the rambling of idiots. Then they fixed the problem and we got to listen to things like 'here's the Japanese team, remember that in the last century Japan invaded China?' (seriously).
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 11:50 PM on August 8, 2008


A Thousand Baited Hooks: yes, how pathetic was that commentary?

"now, it is of course difficult to dance on top of a mat held up by hundreds of performers in costume. you can see the origins of the chinese talent for rhythmic gymnastics here..."
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:57 PM on August 8, 2008


Maybe I'd actually tune in to NBC's Olympics Coverage if they had hired the guys from RiffTrax to do the color commentary.
posted by ZachsMind at 12:08 AM on August 9, 2008


It is possible to make a difference in the world while sitting in your bedroom in your underwear. boycott the olympics on TV.
posted by longsleeves at 12:09 AM on August 9, 2008


I would click on that LongSleeves, but I'm watching WipeOut on ABC Online. I just hop back over here during the commercial breaks.
posted by ZachsMind at 12:16 AM on August 9, 2008


Okay, I did click on your link, LongSleeves, and the guy stutters and says 'uhm' more than I do. I try to edit those out best as I can when I make my stupid YouTube videos.

Boycotts don't do any good. Corporate Oligarchies don't care if you watch. They care if they can make it look like you watched, and they don't need you in the picture to do that. They just fudge the numbers and tell their advertisers how much their shit don't stink.

So it is not possible to make a difference in the world while sitting in your bedroom in your underwear, unless you happen to be the CEO for a major corporation.
posted by ZachsMind at 12:49 AM on August 9, 2008


Oh. Next episode of Wipeout's starting. I gotta go.
posted by ZachsMind at 12:50 AM on August 9, 2008


If you can find a torrent of the CBC broadcast, it was very well done. Very little commentary except for the occasional talking point which was obviously provided by Beijing. They explained what was going on very briefly: enough that I understood the symbolism of each part, but not so much that you notice it's happening.
posted by loiseau at 1:50 AM on August 9, 2008


I hate to be a scaremonger, but d'ya think the Chinese authorities might be tracking downloaders?

Who gives a shit if they were? Fuck the 'Chinese authorities'. What are they gonna do, send The Special SinoCopyright IP Strike Force (so successful at reducing infringement in their own country, after all) winging off around the world on secret missions to delete video from torrenters' hard drives and punch them in the balls?

My wife made me watch it with her live last night on Korean TV. I was impressed despite myself -- I am no fan of today's Olympics, nor of China. I was kind of hoping the facade would crack, and mildly disappointed that it didn't. Ah well.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:55 AM on August 9, 2008


i wanted my face on an umbrella.
posted by loiseau at 1:55 AM on August 9, 2008


Moving past the "look how China has developed into a world power" history lesson, I thought it was quite good.

The visuals were vintage Zhang Yimou (to anyone who's seen his flicks), alternating between pretty and breathtaking.

Even the wire-fu was tolerable.

On the positive side, China does have the right to be proud to host the Games, as any nation would be.

Let's hope these Olympics will get back to focusing on the athletes.
posted by bwg at 2:08 AM on August 9, 2008


NBC sucks because they only give a certain amount of events full coverage. And if it's a "minor" event like judo or pistol shooting or fencing, they will only cover it IF an American is slated to win.

Bittorrent saved the last Olympics.
posted by Sukiari at 2:39 AM on August 9, 2008


Um, for what it's worth, NBCOlympics.com has an assload of video content, including opening ceremonies clips, although I think they start just after the drums and countdowns, which were my favorite part. And every other sport you ever dreamed of is carried there, high quality style with relatively minimal advertisements, with Silverlight, which isn't terrible. Just sayin'.

I've never been big on opening ceremonies since they're usually pretty lame, really.

These were something else. The enormous LED screen, the inverted dancers on the globe, the screen surrounding the stadium, the amazing fireworks, the undulating "printing press" boxes, the drummers, the "star-men", the tae kwon do masters in perfect concentric circles...

Wow. Just, wow. Yeah, Costas (or Lauer, I don't know) actually said "no where else can you say 'China was the first to invent paper and the printing press; here, that's actually true." Um, no Bob, you can ALWAYS say that, anywhere, since all the elements of fact support the statement. You don't have to be IN China for that to be true. Idiots.

But the choreography and concept and just the vision put forth and the perfect execution... it was truly amazing. I wonder what the $300 million production would've cost in any other country, or if we'll see anything close to this in terms of technical achievement and innovation and just sheer grandiosity, anytime soon. This put any other large-scale live performance in basically the history of ever to shame.
posted by disillusioned at 3:18 AM on August 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


London will put this to shame when we wheel Ant and Dec out.
posted by vbfg at 3:27 AM on August 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


You know what the Beijing Olympics really needs?

The unprovoked murder of an American tourist at a popular tourist spot, followed by the suicide of the Chinese murderer? Fun times in Beijing!
posted by zarah at 3:28 AM on August 9, 2008


it was a bit overblown for me. size doesn't matter. that's what i tell all my dates, anyway.
really, i preferred the intimacy of the greek olympics four years ago.
posted by billybobtoo at 4:11 AM on August 9, 2008


Those Getty images are, to use the modern vernacular, sick. I think every photographer there was creaming their jeans. I know I would have been.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:31 AM on August 9, 2008


a.b.tv
a.b.multimedia
2.35gig

posted by goo at 6:21 AM on August 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


a Berlin '36 vibe

That's the historical parallel. The cinematographic parallel was the orcs in Moria scene in Fellowship of the Ring.
posted by yhbc at 7:00 AM on August 9, 2008


"This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by a third party."

I've never seen that one before - wonder what that means. Third party as in the writer of the song performed? A drummer in the group?
posted by dabitch at 7:37 AM on August 9, 2008


Also, those commentators you guys are talking about sound a million times worse that the Swedish ones I usually hear - yours sound like they might have been drunk.
posted by dabitch at 7:39 AM on August 9, 2008


The best part of the BBC coverage was the fact Huw Edwards and Carrie Grace could not quite disguise their utter contempt at what that vacuous bint Hazel Irvine was saying.

They kept alluding to the glossing over of China's recent past as if London's opening ceremony is going to have an individual "How We Fucked You Over" pageant for each competing nation.
posted by fullerine at 7:45 AM on August 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


I hate to be a scaremonger, but d'ya think the Chinese authorities might be tracking downloaders?

Why would they care? They're not the ones trying to make a profit here, they want as many people to watch this as possible. It's most likely NBC sending those take down notices.

I've never seen that one before - wonder what that means. Third party as in the writer of the song performed? A drummer in the group?

Um, the Olympic committee? Surely this isn't the first time you've heard of the Olympics insane stance on copyright. I think in 2004 they actually banned athletes from blogging while they were there. They won't let anyone use any media, not even clips.
posted by delmoi at 8:11 AM on August 9, 2008


I hate to be a scaremonger, but d'ya think the Chinese authorities might be tracking downloaders?

Why would they care? They're not the ones trying to make a profit here, they want as many people to watch this as possible. It's most likely NBC sending those take down notices.

I've never seen that one before - wonder what that means. Third party as in the writer of the song performed? A drummer in the group?

Um, the Olympic committee? Surely this isn't the first time you've heard of the Olympics insane stance on copyright. I think in 2004 they actually banned athletes from blogging while they were there. They won't let anyone use any media, not even clips.
posted by delmoi at 8:12 AM on August 9, 2008


I hate to be a scaremonger, but d'ya think the Chinese authorities might be tracking downloaders?

Why would they care?

Hate to spoil everybody's fun, but I just finished downloading the torrent, and I'm not pointing fingers, but somebody definitely pee-pee'd in my Coke.
posted by porn in the woods at 8:15 AM on August 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Third party as in the writer of the song performed?

Third party, as in not YouTube or the person who posted the video. It was probably NBC.
posted by dirigibleman at 8:18 AM on August 9, 2008


That was definitely the most amazing opening ceremony I've ever seen. The precision was astounding. And the torch is pretty snazzy, too.

My favorite moments:
- the awesome light-up drums in the beginning
- the massive LCD scroll and the human paintbrushes
- the 'Great Wall' made up of blocks (the reveal at the end of that was astounding; I cannot believe how that was done)
- the absolutely perfect semicircles formed by all the Tai Chi guys
- the camera cutting to President Bush checking his watch during the Parade of Nations
posted by phatkitten at 8:27 AM on August 9, 2008


The drummers, and basically any performer in the show, had an earpiece which probably had a detailed click track and synchronization track of some sort. Quite amazing, indeed. As a drummer, I was in awe, but I as a musician, I felt like throwing up in my mouth when that overrated diva Lang Lang had center stage so he could mimic piano playing.
posted by ChickenringNYC at 8:35 AM on August 9, 2008


Am I the only one who cried when they introduced that little boy who walked with Yao Ming?

Seriously, these ceremonies were awesome. For all China's faults (and being USian we have plenty too) they put on a breathtaking show.

Small complaint: during the parade of athletes, I want to see the competitors, not politicians smiling like idiots. I can see politicians smiling like idiots (and checking their watches) anytime. These accomplished athletes, not so much. Also, yes, it's exciting that sports celebrities like Kobe Bryant and Nadal are competing in these games; but there are hundreds of others competing too, and the opening ceremony is most likely the only time they'll get this kind of exposure. NBC, a little less one-on-one camera time for those whose mugs with which we are (maybe too) familiar would have been OK.
posted by killy willy at 9:07 AM on August 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


The NBC voiceover called it Karate and someone upthread called it Tae Kwon Do, but I'm gonna put it out there that the Chinese held Olympics is probably going to be, you know, more Chinesey.
posted by lazymonster at 9:10 AM on August 9, 2008


Sorry for being thick - but there are now NO easily viewable extended clips of the opening ceremony available online?

Is that the deal?

(I scrupulously watched last night, because I recalled this has been a buggeration on previous occasions. However, I've got friends/family all over the place assuming - as they do - that US-based people like me have access to extended clips not available in their countries & wanting links. And I'm coming up short!)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 9:18 AM on August 9, 2008


- the camera cutting to President Bush checking his watch during the Parade of Nations

Oooh. My favorite was cutting to him right AFTER the American athletes walked in and he was staring off into space bouncing the American flag on his knee.

Or the fact that they seated him next to Vladimir Putin. Nice job there.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 9:20 AM on August 9, 2008


I was stunned yesterday to hear this exchange yesterday on CBC Radio (all paraphrased):

Reporter: How do you like the Beijing Olympics?
Citizen: I'm loving it! It's awesome!
R: Do you think this will help China's appearance in the rest of the world?
C: Yes
R: Do you think that since Tiananmen Square, China has opened up to changes in domestic policy?
C: I don't know anything about Tiananmen Square. That's old history and I'm only 20.

For a country that prides itself on 5000 years of history, to wipe a major event under the rug within 20 years seems awfully strange.
posted by Kickstart70 at 9:24 AM on August 9, 2008


there are now NO easily viewable extended clips of the opening ceremony available online?

I can't find any after a few minutes' trying. There's a bunch of BitTorrent files of varying quality. But no, say, easily linked 5 minute clips of each segment of the opening ceremony. Losing interest already.
posted by Nelson at 9:27 AM on August 9, 2008


Losing interest already.

Tell me about it!

(Thanks for the response Nelson.)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 9:32 AM on August 9, 2008


Looking at those pictures upthread, the thing that comes to mind is the battle sequences from Hero.
posted by AdamCSnider at 9:37 AM on August 9, 2008


NBC sucks because they only give a certain amount of events full coverage.

I have a friend of mine asking me if I'm going to be watching the summer Olympics on TV, and my answer is, and always pretty much has been, no. The only sport I'm interested in (fencing) is not being broadcast, except online (where I will be watching it). I really have no interest in the quadrennial American ritual of feigning interest in gymnastics. This was the first time I watched the opening ceremonies, and while some of it was impressive, I spent those 2-3 hours at the opening-ceremonies-watching party extremely restless because, well, sitting around watching 2-3 hours of interpretive dance isn't my normal idea of a good time.

Also, whose idea was it to dress the entire US Olympic team up to look like 14 year old members of the local yacht club?

I have to say I am very, very happy with the availability of sports online. I do understand that not everything is going to be broadcast, but I'm not going to pretend to be interested in a bunch of sports I don't really care about just because they're the ones fortunate enough to be on TV.
posted by deanc at 9:39 AM on August 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


the BBC has some interesting highlights from past opening ceremonies.

fun fact: doves, traditionally released as a sign of peace, are no longer part of the ceremony because during the Seoul pageant some of them landed in the torch cauldron and were incinerated once it was lit. (oops.)
posted by killy willy at 9:44 AM on August 9, 2008


It's most likely NBC sending those take down notices.

Yep.
“NBC, which owns the exclusive rights to broadcast the Olympics in the United States, spent most of Friday trying to keep it that way.

NBC’s decision to delay broadcasting the opening ceremonies by 12 hours sent people across the country to their computers to poke holes in NBC’s technological wall — by finding newsfeeds on foreign broadcasters’ Web sites and by watching clips of the ceremonies on YouTube and other sites.

In response, NBC sent frantic requests to Web sites, asking them to take down the illicit clips and restrict authorized video to host countries. As the four-hour ceremony progressed, a game of digital whack-a-mole took place. Network executives tried to regulate leaks on the Web and shut down unauthorized video, while viewers deftly traded new links on blogs and on the Twitter site, redirecting one another to coverage from, say, Germany, or a site with a grainy Spanish-language video stream.

As the first Summer Games of the broadband age commenced in China, old network habits have never seemed so archaic — or so irrelevant.

‘The Olympics to me is a benchmark for how fast we’ve gone with technology,’ Brad Adgate, the senior vice president for research at Horizon Media, a media buying firm in New York, said. ‘Thirty months ago, no one was talking about YouTube. Now, it’s a verb.’

Two years ago, during the Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, NBC Universal, a unit of General Electric, offered only two hours of live coverage on the Internet. This year, it is putting a staggering 2,200 hours online in scores of video feeds.

But NBC, which paid $894 million for the exclusive rights to the Olympic broadcast in the United States, intends to show some premier events like swimming live on television only to reach a wider audience and charge higher rates for advertising.

Although the numbers are not yet available, NBC’s tape-delayed version of the opening ceremonies will almost certainly be watched by more Americans than the live Internet streams. Steven J. Farella, the president and chief executive of the TargetCast TCM media agency in New York, said that ‘if the question is, ‘is this a big issue?’ the answer is, ‘not yet.’ ‘

‘Right now, people can go on the Internet to watch, but not enough will because it’s not the same experience,’ he added. ‘People love TV and still like to get entertainment that way.’ However, he added, by the Summer Games in 2012, ‘Olympic ad sales could be turned upside down.’”
posted by ericb at 9:56 AM on August 9, 2008


Videos from NBC, including highlights from the Opening Ceremonies, if you d/l some silly Microsoft plug-in and give them some info on your TV watching capablilities.

Worth it if you're planning on watching other Olympic stuff (I'mma gonna watch ALL the swimming videos, myself), but if not, it's a bit of a hassle. Still, it was pretty freaking great.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 10:00 AM on August 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Um, for what it's worth, NBCOlympics.com has an assload of video content, including opening ceremonies clips...

The Opening Ceremony (minus the Parade of Nations) is avaiable here [video | 52:03].
posted by ericb at 10:03 AM on August 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Or what grapefruitmoon posted.
posted by ericb at 10:04 AM on August 9, 2008


Thanks, ericb and grapefruitmoon. The NBC online video is not bad; Silverlight's a nuisance, but the quality is good.

But the linked 52:03 Opening Ceremony seems to be missing the drums. I'd really like to see them. Anyone found them anywhere? I spent some time on nbcolympics.com but it's really hard to find anything there.
posted by Nelson at 10:28 AM on August 9, 2008


Did anyone else notice Bush's decidedly un-presidential behavior during the ceremony? He was acting like a 12 year old, except for that one moment when Iraq's athletes walked by - he then graduated to acting like a sophomoric bullyboy smirking at the girl who turned him down for a date as she walked past him in the hall.

In some ways I wish everyone could see all the footage of him from the opening ceremony - his body language made me think even less of him than I already did.
posted by pomegranate at 10:38 AM on August 9, 2008 [4 favorites]


For all China's faults (and being USian we have plenty too) they put on a breathtaking show.

Well, I guess, but you USians were pretty much finished with your methodical genocide of the pesky natives in the Western part of the country getting in the way of progress by a few decades before the modern Olympics were even invented. Whereas China's, you know, right in the thick of it.

I think Beijing, I see the faces of the kids I tried to teach a little English to in the tin-roofed school under the bus stand in the Tibetan refugee camp in Shimla. Makes it hard for me to appreciate the beauty and honour of their cherished ancient drumming tradition and all. I'm just sentimental that way, I guess.
posted by gompa at 10:43 AM on August 9, 2008


Old opening ceremony is old.
posted by Zambrano at 10:44 AM on August 9, 2008


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That's not very smart NBC.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:47 AM on August 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Wow. Just, wow. Yeah, Costas (or Lauer, I don't know) actually said "no where else can you say 'China was the first to invent paper and the printing press; here, that's actually true." Um, no Bob, you can ALWAYS say that, anywhere, since all the elements of fact support the statement. You don't have to be IN China for that to be true. Idiots.

I just watched the part where he is talking about the use of the printing press again (tivo) and he specifically said, "... and if anyone asked the question, 'What's significant about holding the Olympics in China?', well, how many places could you go around the world that are old enough where you could say, "Oh, by the way the Chinese invented paper and printing?" That's actually true here."

Which does sound dumb - but remember that it's a transcript of more or less natural speech (aided by prompts.) I think it's abundantly clear that he simply phrased it poorly by including the word China in the "by the way" and meant that there are few countries old enough to claim the invention of something like paper. I could point out many other problems with this one selection.

But I won't, because willfully ignoring a message in favor of highlighting a simple and abundantly clear gaff is an obnoxious way to communicate, especially when we're criticizing someone who is attempting to provide relevant information for people who don't know a lot about other cultures.

Although by all means, don't let me stop you from feeling superior. I'm sure if we were to transcribe everything you've said it, too, would hold up to inspection.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 11:47 AM on August 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


But I won't, because willfully ignoring a message in favor of highlighting a simple and abundantly clear gaff is an obnoxious way to communicate, especially when we're criticizing someone who is attempting to provide relevant information for people who don't know a lot about other cultures.

Although by all means, don't let me stop you from feeling superior. I'm sure if we were to transcribe everything you've said it, too, would hold up to inspection.


Two things here:
#1) Everything that most humans say is not ON TV for millions of people to hear. No one is expecting (most of) us to be authorities on anything. We are mostly talking out of our asses, which is natural since we are not ON TV EXPLAINING THINGS to millions of other people. If, for some reason, any of us were up there trying to make some relevant point about China, the Olympics, or anything else, yes, we should be held to the same standard of having the transcription make at least a modicum of logical sense and not end up being the equivalent of "No where but in China can you say that you're in China and they invented paper!"

#2) It's Bob Effin Costas, bane of the existence of many Olympic fans. The man has made a career of providing insipid commentary over otherwise interesting and enlightening events. This is his CAREER. This is not his first day on the planet. This is not even his first Olympics. Expecting the man to have something cogent to say is not asking too much.

(Hi, my name is grapefruitmoon and Bob Costas gets on my nerve.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 11:54 AM on August 9, 2008


MetaFilter: we are mostly talking out of our asses.
posted by ericb at 12:02 PM on August 9, 2008


This afternoon an NBC commentator said that Zhang Yimou stated in an interview today that the "printing press" segment required 8-hours-a-day practice for 4 months ... and that last night's performance was the first time they got it right.
posted by ericb at 12:35 PM on August 9, 2008


I suppose I just don't see the value of calling someone an idiot over something so minor and easily understandable - I'm also annoyed by the self-styled "grammar nazis" who delight in pointing out double-negatives.

But I'll admit that I don't have feelings about Bob Costas one way or the other so that isn't coloring my perception.

That's pretty incredible, ericb. I caught flashes of feet under the printing presses but thought "no way could they be doing that" until the end.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 12:41 PM on August 9, 2008


The man has made a career of providing insipid commentary over otherwise interesting and enlightening events. This is his CAREER. This is not his first day on the planet. This is not even his first Olympics. Expecting the man to have something cogent to say is not asking too much.

He pales next to John Tesh, whose commentary on gymnastics in 1996 included the line "She literally exploded off that vault." If only.
posted by bibliowench at 1:14 PM on August 9, 2008


Tibetan filmmaker's documentary lands him in Chinese prison
posted by homunculus at 1:16 PM on August 9, 2008


Expecting the man to have something cogent to say is not asking too much.

Yes, yes it is.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:21 PM on August 9, 2008


We had a great time imagining what Bush was saying to his wife during the event...

"OHMIGOD LAURA did you see those FIREWORKS? They shot up in the air reeeeeal high and went BOOM! BANG! KAPOW! SHEWWWWWWWWWWWWshrkshsksrhskrhskhs... That was SO. COOL."
posted by baphomet at 2:05 PM on August 9, 2008


Scott Simon put it nicely in perspective this morning on NPR.
posted by nax at 2:50 PM on August 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's Bob Effin Costas, bane of the existence of many Olympic fans.

I'd say "sports fans" over just Olympic fans. But, he's not the worst of the worst, by a long shot...

On another note, here's some info on watching the youtube channel apparently someone "figured out that replacing one cookie which YouTube's servers stuff into your browser will get you through to the site's U.S.-blocked beijing2008 channel."

posted by inigo2 at 3:19 PM on August 9, 2008


Dear NBC,
If you can't give me what I want, I'll go elsewhere.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:07 PM on August 9, 2008


We had a great time imagining what Bush was saying to his wife during the event...

He seems to be enjoying the Games so far...

http://olympics.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshowpics/msid-3345294.cms
posted by Bluecoat93 at 8:00 PM on August 9, 2008


So many are dissing Bob Costas and others for their brainless commentary but has it occurred to anyone that there may be restrictions on what they can talk about, which leaves them stuck describing what's on the screen in literal terms?

Or that perhaps that's why people like Costas keep their jobs, because that's what they do? Rather than risk any commentary that is actually intellectually stimulating and might upset someone who doesn't like the opinions expressed, said commentary is vanilla and artificial in flavor, because if it gets even a little spicy, someone's gonna complain.

Censorship doesn't always come with a bang. Oftentimes it's who gets to keep their job and who "doesn't take direction well" or "is difficult to work with." Sometimes censorship comes from within, and we don't even realize it's happening.
posted by ZachsMind at 8:33 PM on August 9, 2008


Don't say things like that, Zachsmind.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:37 PM on August 9, 2008


I just watched the opening performances.

OMG. China rules. Wow.

That was damn cool on several levels. Artistry and use of technology for art's sake was awesome. Performances were awesome. Fireworks were awesome. Building was awesome. It was all just fucking awesome.

And the focus on education, environment, and long-term thinking was surprising and pleasing. Over the long term only those societies and cultures that (a) educate their kids well about (b) what is needed for the future will survive.

The East and West can learn a lot from one another.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:00 PM on August 9, 2008


China to World: We invented paper and writing while the rest of you were living in caves. Suck it, haters!

No pressure, London.
posted by brain cloud at 10:57 PM on August 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Watching my downloaded copy of the Chinese broadcast now. It's at once amazing and terrifying in a way I can't fully articulate. I'm getting a real Triumph of the Will vibe from the whole thing, it's a huge display of power by an authoritarian mega-state. The drummers certainly were fun to watch, though.
posted by DecemberBoy at 2:35 AM on August 10, 2008


No pressure, London.

Someone here (or maybe another forum) had a great idea for London: they can have a "we screwed you over before you were even an industrialised nation!" segment for every country.
posted by tksh at 7:07 AM on August 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


I've been by-passing the US sources; watching it directly on CCTV via UUSee, which is like a file-sharing version of Window's Media Player. It has like every friggin' TV show in China. Problem is -- it's a Chinese app, so good luck installing it (or finding anything) if you don't speak the rudiments of the lingo.

Currently watching a replay of the "Women's Clean and Jerk". Pretty surreal watching the dainty (mostly Asian) ladies hefting 230-some pounds. A couple gangly Europeans making it interesting. Watching Japan's Misaki Oshiro at the moment, thinking "Heck, she's about (what?) four-foot tall? She doesn't have to lift it as high as that Noel girl from France, who's bringin' up the rear. Hardly seems fair."

On the plus side, I don't have to deal with the Kostas colorless commentary, but the Chinese are pretty mean; chuckling at the grunts and squeals of the woman. No US players here. Odd. Also odd that China really seems to have adopted Weight Lifting. They are dominating it at the moment.

I'm liking the selection better. Seeing some off-beat stuff that doesn't appear to be making it on US TV. A lot more behind the scene stuff too.
posted by RavinDave at 9:02 AM on August 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm finally watching the start here off this torrent link I posted earlier. It's actually kind of annoying, it has these Cantonese announcers who won't shut up.
posted by delmoi at 9:20 AM on August 10, 2008


I was amazed and moved to tears by the opening show - and surprised because I had expected something cheesy. The drummers in particular were jaw-dropping. It turns out that the whole event was produced by film producer, Zhang Yimou. The BBC commentators pointed out that the drummers and several of the other huge groups had been rehearsing for a year or more to get the sequences right.

(And, as other have pointed out up-thread, I would not be mad keen to be in the shoes of the British organisers who have to follow that)

Here is a recent youtube link of the drummers as shot by an audience member.
posted by rongorongo at 1:23 PM on August 10, 2008


Tibet protester Lucy Fairbrother took on the might of China - and won. Here she explains how...
posted by homunculus at 4:09 PM on August 10, 2008


I'm getting tired of all the swimming. Granted, last night's US v France showdown was an astounding and riveting win and will probably be the highlight of the entire competition -- still, seems like every time I turn on network broadcasts ... it's swimming. Arrgggh! I wanna see some of the lesser seen stuff. Bring on the skeet shooting and sabre matches. I wanna see Judo and synchronized javelin chucking (or whatever they do).
posted by RavinDave at 7:25 AM on August 11, 2008


Bring on the skeet shooting and sabre matches.

I watched the men's final for skeet shooting yesterday afternoon; the women's sabre finals the other day where the U.S. swept all three medals. Be sure to check out the other NBC stations (e.g. MSNBC, USA Networks, etc.) for coverage.
posted by ericb at 7:41 AM on August 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


D'oh ... other stations? USA is an NBC affiliate? Thanx for the tip. I'll keep a sharper eye out.
posted by RavinDave at 7:43 AM on August 11, 2008


Check out full listings (NBC, MSNBC, CNBC, USA, Oxygen, Telemundo, etc.) for your area.
posted by ericb at 8:18 AM on August 11, 2008


I have to grudgingly admit that NBC's official olympic video site is pretty good. The navigation is awful, it's very hard to actually find a specific video. But the quality is great and playback is free of stupid garbage.

The eyebrow-raising thing is that NBC is requiring Silverlight to watch Olympic video this year. Markoff wrote an article calling out the anti-trust issues of MSNBC using the Olympics license to further Microsoft's software agenda. I mean really, before the Olympics who had Silverlight installed? It does seem to work pretty well, at least.
posted by Nelson at 8:32 AM on August 11, 2008


Fireworks faked for Olympic opening ceremony -- "Fancy footprint display was really a digital ruse created months in advance."
posted by ericb at 10:42 AM on August 11, 2008


Fireworks faked for Olympic opening ceremony -- "Fancy footprint display was really a digital ruse created months in advance."

I was just thinking about this sequence this evening - and about how hard it would have had to have been to be the pilot. Perhaps there are real pilots out there who could comment - but the sequence looked like it would require an awful lot in terms of speed, path following and navigation to create live. The few helicopter pilots I have spoken to are also not at all keen about flying above exploding pyrotechnics.
posted by rongorongo at 4:40 PM on August 11, 2008


"The eyebrow-raising thing is that NBC is requiring Silverlight to watch Olympic video this year."

I figured what the heck I'll give NBC a try. It insisted I install Silverlight. So I did.

Then it asked for my cable provider. I don't have a cable provider. That's why I use the Internet!

I didn't wanna watch their stupid Olympics anyway.

...so how do I uninstall Silverlight?
posted by ZachsMind at 7:15 PM on August 11, 2008


Then it asked for my cable provider. I don't have a cable provider.

This is important: If you don't subscribe to cable or satellite, or your cable provider doesn't have a partner in your area, you can't legally watch the Olympics at all on the Internet.

Fuckers.

Doesn't affect me, but still. Fuckers.
posted by dirigibleman at 7:40 PM on August 11, 2008


I'm getting tired of all the swimming.

I'm getting tired of the constant volleyball. Swimming at least is over fast, and you can see a bunch of races in a row. Volleyball, on the other hand, never freaking ends. Seems like it's been a minimum of 1 hr per night of volleyball, volleyball, volleyball. NO MORE VOLLEYBALL! Enough!!
posted by brain cloud at 8:53 PM on August 11, 2008


I'm getting tired of all the swimming.

On the other hand, I am loving the hell out of all the swimming. It is by far my favorite event, but then again, I used to swim competitively.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 9:18 PM on August 11, 2008


The cute little kid in the red dress was miming apparently. The child who really sang was note-perfect but insufficiently beautiful.
posted by rongorongo at 7:25 AM on August 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


The fakery behind the singing is really disappointing, given how much of the opening theme was about "children are the future."
posted by five fresh fish at 4:24 PM on August 12, 2008


The fakery behind the singing is really disappointing...

True that. Not all that surprising (hey, they're just catching up with the way things are done in the West!), but disappointing indeed. I mean, hell, it wasn't even the same kid.

...given how much of the opening theme was about "children are the future."

"children lies are the future".
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:32 PM on August 12, 2008


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