Olympic closing ceremonies… or, who ELSE can we dig up for this thing?

Posted: August 13, 2012 in acid trip, Olympics

So, as most people are aware, the Games of the XXX Olympiad closed up shop in London yesterday. It was two weeks that showcased a lot of athletic skill and a lot of broadcasting ineptitude from NBC. Of course, anyone who thought the quality of the broadcasting would improve with the acquisition of NBC by Comcast, well, I have some oceanfront property in Yuma, AZ I’m looking to sell.

I did not watch the closing ceremonies live… I settled for DVR, figuring I could zip through any annoying parts with Ryan Seacrest, Bob Costas, or any combination thereof. As it turns out, NBC cut out a lot of the good stuff (BIG surprise there) in favor of promoting their latest crappy sitcom, Animal Practice. You know this show is going to suck most heinously when the second IMDB picture is of a nobody credited as, “Hot girl”. Don’t believe me? Look here.

So, as I was watching this acid trip, I decided to scribble down some notes… and to all you Apple haters, I used an iPad to do it.

My first note came when Madness took the stage. Or should I say truck? Fresh off their triumphant return to the Buckingham Palace roof during the Queen’s Jubilee, Madness played a medley of their hit, and featured a kilt-wearing, befezzed saxophone player who flew. Now, Supportive Partner Woman (dyed-in-the-wool Whovian!) says that fezzes are cool. Not sure I’m going to buy that in this case. It looked like something Sir Elton wore back in the bad old days.

Now, the entire shindig was wrapped in newspaper, covered with quotes from famous English writers like William Shakespeare and Geoffrey Chaucer. Costas (or was it Seacrest?) was quick to add Keats to that list, but to be honest, I didn’t see any Grecian urns… just some Grecian formula on Al Michaels’ head. All this newsprint makes you wonder if they were going to recycle it or is this is the reason there’s a newsprint shortage… the Brits have been hoarding it for years. And not only for fish n’ chips.

Now we have children dancing… not sure if it’s supposed to be the mashed potato or the tomahawk chop. No signs of any Atlanta Braves fans, so probably the former.

My First Keyboard… by Casio! Now with built-in speakers!

Next part is the Pet Shop Boys. In what appears to be Oz. They are being driven around on very pointy rickshaws while wearing what appear to be giant dunce hats and the one guy looks like he’s playing My First Keyboard… by Casio. Remember when these guys were cutting edge? They are being escorted by a battalion of people dressed in Max Headroom suits with beaks. WTF?

David Silver

Next up is British boy band One Direction. They kind of look like the Backstreet Boys in skinny jeans. And the lead singer looks like he came straight out of 90210. Hey, dude… David Silver called. He wants his hair back.

Now we have Stomp. I understand this is a worldwide phenomenon and they are obviously very skilled percussionists, but basically it boils down to a bunch of people beating in trash cans. Or, as I like to call it, Wednesday.

Surprise cameo by Mexican wrestlers!

Now the athletes come in… once again, no shots of the hot Paraguayan javelin thrower. NBC… buzz killing the teenage boys again. They are being escorted and guided by volunteers wearing light up bowler hats. Seriously. These hats have a light bulb on top. If they put bulbs on the entire suit, it would look like the cover of Pink Floyd’s The Delicate Sound of Thunder. Now here come the Brazilians… any time I see that many Brazilians in one place, I’m reminded of the infamous tour groups that invade Walt Disney World on a semi-regular basis.

Here comes the US… for the opening ceremony they were dressed like French people… for the closing ceremony, they were only a pair of plaid pants away from golf clothes.

The next musical act was a children’s choir singing (and signing) Imagine, joined by video of John Lennon. The performers then assembled a giant 3D jigsaw puzzle of Lennon’s face at the middle of the stadium. It really struck me as kind of creepy, because it looked like a death mask.

For the next act, the organizers managed to drag George Michael out of the men’s room long enough to perform Freedom ’90. He was rocking a giant skull belt buckle that’s really just a modern-day codpiece. It made me wonder if Andrew Ridgely wasn’t watching on the telly from his flat in London shaking his fist impotently and screaming, “I was in Wham!, too, dammit!”

Next up, it looks like Hell’s Angels riding in, oh, wait, just plain, normal motorcyclists carryinging members of the Kaiser Chiefs, who did a rather good rendition of Pinball Wizard. Turns out to be the only Who song I heard all night (NBC bastards!) This was followed by Annie Lennox cruising up on The Black Pearl and singing some song that neither SPW (Annie Lennox fan!) or I were familiar with.

Prince Harry rocking Wish You Were Here

Shaking hands with danger, or in this case, a fiery robotic Wallenda

We then transition to Pink Floyd. Yes!!!! Damn. Just Nick Mason. Guess they blew the budget on the Spice Girls. So, we had to settle for Mike Rutherford instead of David Gilmour. The whole bit was topped off by Prince Harry donning a sweater and singing lead vocals. But didn’t I just see Harry in the royal box? What is this sorcery?!?!?!? This was accompanied by a dude crossing a high wire then shaking hands with a robotic Wallenda which then blew up. I know they were trying to recreate that legendary Floyd cover, but I would’ve been more impressed with a flying pig. Because flying pigs are cool.

Russel Brand and what looks to be two members of Bond.

Russel Brand doing Willy Wonka was up next and what a trip that was. Old Russ shows up on top of what reminded me of the Partridge Family’s bus, segues into I Am the Walrus, accompanied by what appeared to be the classical group Bond wearing  some sort of caped castoffs from the Austin Powers wardrobe department. Then the bus transforms into a giant octopus and spits out Fatboy Slim. I had a dream like that once… it was after a lot of absinthe.

Now we move into the modern era. We have British songstress Jessie J (was Joss Stone busy?) accompanied by American “rapper” Ray J. What? That’s not Ray J? He didn’t move to London, change his name to Tinie Tempah and still manage to have no discernible skill on the mike? They were then joined by Taio Cruz, who’s OK, but would somebody PLEASE get Ray J a muzzle? This guy makes Pitbull sound good.

And now, the moment we’ve all been waiting for. A Spice Girls reunion. I know I was counting the days just hoping this would happen… to get Posh, Ginger, Baby, Scary and Sporty (who looks a lot like Freddie Mercury  these days) all in the same place.  Some things you wonder about… for example, why does Victoria Beckham always look like she’s chewing on a wasp? (wish I could take credit for that – first heard it from the Gin o’Clock Twitter feed) The Spice Girls then proceeded to take a taxi ride around Spice World. Sadly, no five Spice pileups to report.

(As an aside… I’m thinking that had the Rolling Stones been on the bill for this show, NBC would’ve cut them, too… why on Earth would you want to show one of the most influential bands in music history?)

Program rolled right along after a commercial break (gotta squeeze that advertising tit until it’s purple) into a band called Beady Eye that sounded an awful lot like Oasis. They were even covering an Oasis song. Oh, OK.. It’s an interchangeable Gallagher brother FROM Oasis, along with a lot of other Oasis alumni. So, in reality it kind of IS Oasis, but it isn’t at the same time. It’s like a musical version of Schrodinger’s cat. Or maybe not. Oh no… I’ve gone cross-eyed.

Right on the heels of OasisBeady Eye, came the comedy portion, which consisted of Eric Idle tumbling out of a cannon and singing Always Look on the Bright Side of Life. I was a little confused at the interlude… I wasn’t expecting the Spanish Inquisition, but there were nuns and Lord knows what else. I did see that Prince Harry apparated back to the Royal Box to sing along with Idle and the rest of the audience.

Noted astrophysicist Dr. Brian May

Now here’s where NBC should’ve taken note. A video clip of the legendary Freddie Mercury brought possibly the biggest audience response. This video is from 1986! Then, from the end of the stadium, some recognizable guitar work by a recognizable hair style. Highly regarded astrophysicist Dr. Brian May strapped on an axe to prove he can still jam. Wait… he was a rock star before being an astrophysicist? Who knew? So, he played some blazing guitar licks and headed to center stage while from the other end, Kat von D marched toward the center sporting a coat/dress/train about 40 yards long. Out of the center stage rose a drum kit with Roger Taylor aboard. The reconstituted Queen started playing We Will Rock You with Kat von D on the vocals. Funny… she sounds like Jessie J. Jessie von J had a tick too much reverb going on and after she was done caterwauling her way through the song it dawned on me that the fans who had to witness the sonic assault would’ve been better served by a holographic Mercury or even had they dragged Paul Rodgers out from under whatever rock he hides under. Still no sign of John Deacon, though. We were treated to Jessie von J whipping her hair, though. Probably looked better than Paul Rodgers would have.

After the musical interludes, the symbolic passing of the Olympic flag to Rio de Janeiro took place, then the Brazilians had a short presentation. To sum it up, it was like a featherless Mummers parade with samba music. Some of the highlights included a samba singer who looked like Ice Cube (Straight Outta Rio?), then another guy who looks like Billy Dee Williams, dresses like Lou Bega and sounds like the poor man’s Barry White starts singing. At this point, I’m wondering what’s going to happen next. Maybe Mike Tyson will show up and belt out The Girl from Ipanema? They brought out some other dude in a Lou Bega suit (Mambo Number 6?) that turned out to be Pele. All in all, if this is any indication of the Rio opening ceremonies, it’ll be even more of a drug trip than London.

After the formalities were concluded, the Olympic flame was extinguished and IOC prez Jacques Rogge told everyone see you in four years for more crazy commercialization, kthxbai, NBC immediately cut to the scintillating Animal Patient and all the other viewers went to some other channel, never mind that the Who was still to perform, as was Ray Davies from The Kinks. Oh, and the canny programming wizards that NBC employs opted to cut Muse. I’m not a huge Muse fan, but they’re OK AND they were performing the official song for the Olympics.  Now I realize that I’m just some schleppie, but it seems to me that you might want to include that performance, as it is the OFFICIAL SONG of the London Olympics.

All in all, it was a pretty good Games. London did a helluva job, strange pageantry included. For whatever reason, it will be hard to top London in terms of the sheer exuberance of the volunteers and performers. Too bad NBC couldn’t do it justice.

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