The Olympics Are Here!

Running down the opening ceremonies, plus three storylines to watch.

Friday nights are usually a TV wasteland, at least since we lost Urkel. But tonight is different: It’s the start of the Olympics! This year’s opening ceremonies, airing at 7:30 p.m. on NBC, are directed by Oscar-winner and generally enjoyable director Danny Boyle. He said yesterday on the Today show the opening ceremonies would be “a live film,” which means we can only hope it will be the tale of three flatmates who need to dispose of a body. Okay, probably not. But Boyle did say Peter Pan will be there—sure, why not?—and Paul McCartney is expected to close the ceremonies with a “Hey Jude” singalong. This is appropriate, because McCartney was actually alive the last time the Olympics were in London, in 1948.

Those opening ceremonies were quite the sight, according to the official Olympic report. Calling it “a never-to-be-forgotten spectacle”—Paul probably remembers—the report says International Olympic Committee members wore top hats and tail coats, so there’s at least one thing the 1948 ceremonies will have over this year’s. Two things, actually. The best part of the 1948 opening ceremonies was undoubtedly the address of the Archbishop of York:

If a Greek, who had been present at the Olympic Games two thousand years ago, came here to-day, he would be amazed at much which he would see. Our cars would seem to him strangely shaped chariots, driven at great speed by unseen magic; he would suppose that the planes he saw in the sky were the flying dragons of which in his childhood he had been warned; while those who, like myself, speak through the microphone would sound to him as if they were miraculously gifted with trumpet-like voices a thousand times more powerful than the loudest of the heralds of his day.

One example would have done, but I’m glad we got all three. I can’t imagine the Archbishop of York is going to address the crowd at the opening ceremonies this year, but maybe that’s what the “creative tensions” between Boyle and the TV people are. I want to know what an ancient Greek in modern times would think of the iPhone! Every story about this year’s opening ceremonies mentions the 2008 opening, which according to everyone was The Greatest Event in the History of Anything. Eh. To me, it was just a particularly well-choreographed song-and-dance show; maybe the best ever in Olympics history, but that’s about it. The real pageantry is the march of athletes, thousands of them, all with bodies sculpted to the point of excess. It’s a several-hour march of beautiful people! That’s the part of the opening ceremonies I enjoy the most. I’ll be guiding you through the Olympics over the next two weeks here on The Philly Post; there’s a lot going on, so I’ve distilled the top three story lines (other than sports) at the XXX Olympiad, the most hardcore Olympics ever.

What You Should Watch for During the 2012 Olympics

1. Sex (or lack thereof). How appropriate! Yes, the entire Olympic village is a wild sex party. And I think it actually leads to more sex later: Yes, the Olympics run out of condoms every year because athletes take them home as souvenirs, but what do you think the athletes are doing with them, hanging them in their doorways? Pfft. No. They are going home and using “have sex with me using this Olympic condom” as a pick-up line. It’s not as good as trying that pickup line with a limited edition Philly Freedom Condom, but it’ll do for an Olympian. But not everyone is having sex. In 2008, Lolo Jones was the awesome hurdler who, unfortunately, clipped the next-to-last hurdle when she was about to win and finished seventh. But, no, we couldn’t get just that tale of redemption. Jones is now the famous virgin athlete who can’t even find a boyfriend. She’s in worse shape than virgin American archer Jennifer Nichols, who didn’t even kiss a boy until she met her fiance. But she’ll lose her v-card in the fall when she gets married. Poor Lolo! Hopefully she’ll win the hurdles this time.

2. Hilarious mascots! Hold on, you have to see these things.

Olympic Mascots, Wenlock and Mandeville

The one on the left is Mandeville, the Paralympic mascot. He pissed himself, whatever. The one on the right is the actual Olympic mascot, Wenlock. Wikipedia says Wenlock is named after Much Wenlock in Shropshire, England, where … oh, who cares. Among other things, Wenlock looks like a giant penis and that’s all you can think about. A lot of people in England hate Wenlock, comparing it to London’s surveillance cameras and, presumably, a penis. But these things are cash cows, as the Associated Press notes: “Wenlock and Mandeville items make up around 20 percent of the total London 2012 licensed merchandise, which is expected to generate more than 1 billion pounds ($1.6 billion) worth of sales.” Yes, these mascots are worth over a quarter of a billion dollars.

3. Athletes embarrassing themselves online! At the 2010 Olympics, American halfpipe bronze medalist Scotty Lago had to leave the Olympic Village after TMZ posted photos of a woman biting his medal around his waist. (This is ridiculous, of course; if I were to win a gold medal I would be doing way worse on the podium.) But you can be sure plenty of athletes will do controversial things (whether real or manufactured) on social media these Olympics. And we already have an example: Greek triple jumper Voula Papachristou was sent home from the games after tweeting this: “With so many Africans in Greece … the West Nile mosquitoes will at least eat homemade food!!!” I don’t get it. The Washington Post reports Papachristou has previously expressed support for Golden Dawn, a far-right extremist party that rejects neo-Nazi labels despite having a logo that looks pretty much like a swastika. Geez, I was just hoping for Michael Phelps to take some more bong hits, but we got something much worse.

What to Watch This Weekend

Friday: The opening ceremonies are at 7:30 p.m. on NBC.

Saturday: Get up at 5:55 a.m. and catch the first U.S. gold medal of the games in women’s 10-meter air rifle! Oh, and also there’s a U.S. women’s soccer game vs. Colombia and some swimming finals.

Sunday: At 9:55 a.m., there’s the women’s team archery semis, quarters and finals. South Korea has won every archery gold medal since it debuted in 1988, but this year’s Panem squad features hyped up-and-comer Katniss Everdeen. (Sorry, by law every story mentioning archery in 2012 is required to include a Hunger Games reference.) At 9:20 a.m., the U.S. men’s basketball team takes on France. The most important thing to do this weekend is get up early on Sunday and watch a bunch of Americans absolutely crush the French. It will be so much fun!