8:00 – Liveblogging ACTIVATE. Set phasers to MAXIMUM SNARK!
Boy, Jiang Zemin looks old.
Sweet-ass fireworks at the beginning.
Flying apsaras escorting an Olympic logo. Well, that’s tacky, but if that’s the worst of it then —
Hey, time for the singing minority children gathered around the Chinese flag. For fuck’s sake.
And now it’s time for the friendly soldiers to take the flag from them. Boy, is this ever a Zhang Yimou production or what.
8:14 – Paper unrolling to serve as a stage. Yes, you guys invented paper. Very nice. I guess the next time the US hosts the Olympics we’ll decorate our opening ceremonies with everything invented in the last century.
8:16 – OK, the ‘ink dancers’ (as CCTV is calling them) are pretty cool They’re writhing over the paper stage – looks ilke they’re doing breakdance grinds – while painting some kind of composite picture. Whatever it is is not currently visible.
8:19 – It’s a crappy doodle of a mountain range and a squiggly sun.
8:20 – “Chinese characters are one of the most ancient writing systems in the world.” “3000 Confucian disciples” chanting Confucius’ Greatest Hits: 三人行必有我师 (“Of three people walking, there must be one I can learn from”); 知者不言, 言者不知 (“He who knows does not speak; he who speaks does not know”) (which is actually 老子 Lao-Tzu, not Confucius); 学而不思则罔，思而不学则殆 (“Learning without thought is wasted; thought without learning is dangerous”.)
8:22 － They’re pretending to be printing blocks, having just jumped from the Warring States to the Song dynasty.
8:23 – And now a seal script 和 (the first part of 和平 peace and 和谐 harmony).
8:23 – Except that’s not the usual form of 和 in seal script, if I recall correctly.
8:25 – And now the modern form. Showcasing the ancient belief of the Chinese race in harmony, sez CCTV drone.
8:27 – Time for Peking Opera. Because if there’s anything with international appeal, it’s drums, gongs, and caterwauling transvestites.
8:28 – I’d like to take advantage of this long stretch of boringness to note that the CCTV 5 announcers suck. The standard constant autofellatio: “Hey, look! Peking Opera! Foreigners never invented that!” “Did we mention we invented paper?”
8:30 – Silk Road time. Floozies in sequined hoochie gear with long silk streamers. Yes plz.
8:35 – Friend 1: “What is this, a caterpillar?”
8:35 – Li: “I have had more than enough of this now.”
8:37 – The bit with the Kunqu opera is pretty cool. And the painting in this section is way better.
8:37 – IM from my dad in the States:
Dad: NBC screwed us–I hung around to watch it and they have some twit reporters burbling in Kindergarten English about ancient Chinese culture and what you shouldn’t wear etiquette wise
» Green hat
Me: Oh for fuck’s sake.
» Yeah, that’s like you should never ever include the number 13 in anything in America.
» Or buy a black cat.
Dad: And don’t give a clock as a business gift
Me:Do they have the one about how you never split a pear?
Me: It’s amazing – there’s a whole cottage industry in reporting this stuff as valuable business advice.
8:42 – CCTV Announcer: “The program we just saw described the ancient splendor of China. Now we’ll start to learn more about the splendor of today’s China.” Yeeeees? The next batch of dancers will represent cheap, nonunion labor?
8:43 – Lang Lang and a midget. Or possibly a child.
8:46 – Horrible rainbow dancers gone; now there’s a pretty cool dance that looks like a galaxy from above. This is awesome, except that given that all of them are swirling inwards and converging on a central point, they could just as easily be representing the death of a star system at the hands of a black hole.
8:46 – Oh – they turn into a dove. It’s flapping its wings. This is pretty cool.
8:48 And now it’s turned into a replica of the Bird’s Nest. (“A green Bird’s Nest for the green Olympics!” and “a harmonious vista,” as the CCTV announcer is enthusing. Now there’s a girl with a kite flying over the whole thing on wires. This is blowing my mind.
8:50: Kung fu! Maybe this time, unlike with Hero and House of Flying Daggers, Zhang Yimou won’t fuck it up!
8:51 Actually this is pretty cool. The girl’s doing taiji in the middle of a bunch of screens with organic patterns being broadcast — water, bamboo, fire. Now there’s a massive projected waterfall all around the edges of the stadium. Very cool.
8:54 – A bunch of children wearing backpacks painting on that piece of paper while a bunch of people do athletic kung-fu practice moves around them.
8:56 – Anyone think these performances are going to do anything to assuage ‘yellow hordes’-type fears in the west?
8:57 – Birds “representing our green family” fly up, projected, onto the screen around the rim. Children rejoice. They sure like those birds.
8:59 – Section: ‘Dreams.’ Massive projection of the cosmos on the ground, astronauts in fake zero-g flying over it. Funny, because I have this dream too. Usually involving meeting hot alien chicks and teaching them how to love.
9:01 – And now the Earth emerges from the ground, with people circling it at all levels and in all orientations, so that it looks like they’re really walking on its surface. This is pretty cool wirework.
9:02 – Liu Huan and Sarah Brightman. Can’t tell if she’s supposed to be singing in Chinese or not. Kill me now plz thx.
9:03 – I heard her sing “you and me,” so she’s either singing English or Mandopop.
9:04 – People open umbrellas with different faces printed on them. CCTV announcer: “No matter your country, no matter your language, a smile is the best form of expression.” More fireworks.
9:06 – More fireworks. Song is over and it’s time to light this bitch up. Putin is in the audience, applauding and looking lifeless. I wonder if that’s what happens when they remove your soul.
9:07 – CCTV announcer: “And now the 56 minorities will sing and dance to welcome the Olympics.” Dancers in traditional dress with streamers.
9:09 – Time for the athletes. Weird ting about all of the stadium announcements: they’re in French, then English, then Chinese. Greece comes first as the inventors of the Olympics (Zhang Yimou couldn’t work in a dance for that one); after that they athletes will come in order of the number of strokes in their names.
9:11 – Jiang Zemin is smiling. MUST WASH EYEBALLS. Is it me or does he look like a slimmed-down Jabba the Hutt?
9:11 – @davesgonechina: Hey look, the Uyghur performers are doing the traditional grenade making dance.
9:12 – @kaiserkuo: Long camera hold on Xi Jinping confirms his anointment as next president? Good! I like that dude.
9:22 – OK, lots of athletes. This is boring as hell and will go on for a couple hours. Expected something when Japan and ‘Chinese Taibei’ came out, but nothing other than a loud cheer for the Taiwanese athletes. I’m done – time to go out and find a place to watch the fireworks that are scheduled for 11;30.
9:45 – Dashan! I told Chinese friends he’d be there and they didn’t believe me. Ha ha ha! Like Chinese people know anything else about Canada besides that it’s cold and easy to emigrate there if your’e a corrupt official.