Saturday, July 28, 2012

Not Even the Doctor Could Save This One...

Today's blog post begins with "True Confessions with Sydney". Bear with me, they will all make sense at the end. True Confession #1: I have never, nor will I ever understand what some might call "artsy" movies. I'm not a film or an art major, and consequently, movies like "Hugo" are lost on me. True Confession #2: I enjoy British humor. I like watching Dr. Who, and Merlin, and other such British dramas on BBC despite what other people say about them. True Confession #3: Even though it is rated "R", I did see Slumdog Millionaire and found it to be a truly great film.

So. Having said these things...I will now openly express that I think the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 London games may be the worst Opening Ceremony that I can remember in my lifetime.

For those of you that may not have tuned in to the whole thing...please follow me on a journey while I give you a recap of the 2012 Opening Ceremony through my eyes.

We begin with a village green scene, complete with a maypole and ferris wheel, and a fake sea, made with blue material stretched over sections of the audience.

Before you know it we’re flying down the river Thames, past what seem to be characters from "The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad" (a thoroughly terrifying movie from my childhood).All of this, by the way, is played to Andrew Lloyd Webber and Sex Pistols.

But then...because it wouldn't be London without one, a choirboy sings,and the village (which looks uncannily like The Shire) comes to life. What follows is a long and unbearably dull reenactment of London's history from the agrarian age to WWII...all of which is narrated by the equally dull and painfully ignorant Matt Lauer and Bob Costas. (Meredith was wise enough to keep her mouth shut through most of it...)

Somewhere in the midst of my boredom, I find myself hallucinating that Gilderoy Lockhart is guiding this transformation in a top hat...only to realize that oh IS Gilderoy Lockhart in a top hot quoting lines from Shakespeare. There’s industrialists in top hats dancing and supervising the removal of the Shire, to be replaced with some massive smoking chimney stacks.

Then I guess there was a tribute paid to British soldiers from two World Wars...but here in the states we instead were blessed with a thrilling interview between Ryan Seacrest and Michael Phelps. I like Michael as much as the next girl, but I resent NBC deciding which parts of the ceremony I should and should not watch...even if the whole thing seems to be a train wreck.

They do something cool with the Olympic rings and molten lava, but everything is still in disarray and I am still very bored. THEN oh but then, my good friends...there's some footage of James Bond arriving at Buckingham Palace for an audience with THE ACTUAL QUEEN, and they’re off in a helicopter together, over London, to the Olympic Stadium, where THE ACTUAL QUEEN has parachuted in. 

Matt Lauer then proceeds to convince us all that he truly the believes Queen Elizabeth just JUMPED OUT OF A HELICOPTER.

After the queen takes her seat, we are treated to the Nation Anthem sung by a choir of deaf children.


Now there are hundreds of sick children in glowing beds (because it just isn't a celebration without sick children), and then a tribute to British children’s literature from Peter Pan to Harry Potter. Oh, and J.K. Rowling makes a cameo...things are looking up until...


This. Happens. Then there’s a massive baby in a bed.

And because I'm just not bored enough, they decided to enlighten the audience with a rendition of Chariots of Fire. But wait, Mr. Bean is there, and he is actually quite funny and not at all over the top...hold on...nope. They took it too far and made it dumb. Once again VERY. BORED.

I don't even know where to begin on the next bit because I still don't know exactly what happened. Here's what I remember: 1) A giant house that played the most RANDOM collection of movie clips ever complied into one event on the outside of it. 2) A lot of angsty teenagers sending texts to each other with terrible grammar. 3) Being hurled through multiple decades in a matter of minutes...not necessarily in sequential order... as a million drugged up Brits in neon clothing dance to a mixture of rave music and songs from iconic British artists. 4) TARDIS sound makes a cameo. Awesome. 5) Oh and somewhere in here two of those angsty teenagers fall in love and become Facebook official. Touching.

I was NOT kidding about the baby. 

David Beckham arrives at the stadium in the SLOWEST speedboat know to man, holding the torch.

Now it's time for the part of the Olympics where we all become aware of just how little geography we know...The Parade of Nations. On the brink of dying from boredom. This bit is always like going to your friend's graduation. You feel the need to politely sit through the other countries...but you're really only there to see the one, and when your country finally comes up and is shown for a whole 30 seconds, you realize just how pointless it was to wait through all the others.

Cut to Kazakhstan and focus in on Bob Costas referencing "Borat" like it's not insanely inappropriate and/or racist in any way.

Oh, but we're not done yet. No...we haven't seen the flying bicycle people yet! Because no Opening Ceremony is complete without luminous bird people circling a random band while they perform a poor rendition of a Beatles classic. For the love you this point I'm checking my house for traces of gas leaks for surely I must be hallucinating. 

Filler, Filler, Filler, Filler....Muhammad Ali....Filler, Filler, Filler, Filler, David Beckham...and FINALLY, the OLYMPIC FLAME plus more angsty teenagers??...Filler, Filler, Filler...JUST LIGHT THE STUPID THING ALREADY followed by a surprisingly impressive torch lighting...the angsty teenagers light a massive ring of metal petals, each one having been delivered by a representative of a competing nation, and they rise to form a huge flame. Actually impressed. 

Fireworks. Paul McCartney. Sadness because Paul McCartney is getting old and sadness because none of the American athletes seem to know the words to "Hey Jude"...and then it just ENDS. Just like that.

It was awful you guys. Just awful. Aside from the torch lighting,  and the cameos by J.K. Rowling and the TARDIS I was pretty much bored the entire time. I was bored, terrified, and confused all at the same time. I expected more from you, London. Ultimately, I expected more from Danny Boyle. How can a man create a great work like Slumdog Millionare then turn around and produce such a ridiculous spectacle? Have we come to the conclusion that Britain only cares about socialized healthcare and pop culture?

Perhaps, like Hugo, this ceremony was meant to be "artsy" and is therefore above my level of understanding. Perhaps the humor was just "too British" and I didn't understand what was meant to be funny. Whatever the reason...I will be saddened to know that the London games will forever be lodged in my memory as the time not even Harry Potter and Doctor Who could save the day. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Miracle that is America's been a year, almost to the day since my last blog post here. I've done a little restructuring to place my Australian adventure in it's own I can continue writing without having breaks in between my trip. On this day, the 4th in the month of July, I always feel a great need to reflect on just how blessed I feel to live in this country...and yes, even at this time, however uncertain and tumultuous it may be.

I will now issue a warning so as to avoid any offense being taken: the following blog post portrays a somewhat conservative and very pro-American point of view. If this does not appeal to you, feel free to spend your time somewhere else. :)

I've been reading a book the last week or so that is truly astonishing and so what this country needs to hear right now. It's written by an LDS author named Chris Stewart, called "7 Miracles that saved America". If you haven't picked up this book, I HIGHLY recommend it. It's an easy read and is utterly fascinating. The basic premise behind the book is to show just how lucky we are to even have a country to call our own. It highlights 7 different instances, all during crucial points in our history, when our country could have and perhaps should have fallen due to powerful enemies, a union divided, or would-be assassins.

The fact of the matter, as Stewart points out, is that we are a blessed land, saved by the grace of a loving God who has guided this nation to become what it is today. He says:
"...there is something tangibly extraordinary about the country in which we live. Many people hate us for this difference. Some rail against the influence we have had upon the world. Some are jealous. Too many of our own countrymen reject the idea that we are different, seeing us as no better, and maybe worse, than anywhere else. But we are demonstrably different."
He asks the question, "Is it possible that God considers the United States an exceptional place? A country with a mission?" I would answer that with an absolute and confident yes. The United States is not perfect. We have corruption in our government, violence in our streets, and some issues cause divisions amongst our citizens that makes me cringe...but there isn't a country on the face of the earth that I would rather live in. We are a nation with a history of innovators, and leaders. We rush to the aid of others in need. We overcome adversity, and we love our country.

One of my favorite places in D.C. is here, in the National
History Museum where they display the actual
flag that flew over Fort McHenry when
Frances Scott Key wrote the national anthem.

I believe we are the promised land. Somewhere along the way, many have forgotten just how much of a miracle this country is and how utterly blessed we are to live here. At critical times in our history, when the odds were stacked against us, it seems that God has always intervened on our behalf. He has a mission for us...we ARE a beacon to the world...even if we are prone to forget it from time to time. We have been preserved by God for a great purpose, and we must never forget it.

Independence Hall, where the constitution was written,
and our country defined its mission. 

I am so proud of the country I live in. I am endlessly grateful for the founders of this nations who sacrificed their lives, their liberty and their sacred honor 236 years ago. There will never be words adequate enough to describe the debt I feel toward them. I am so grateful for the brave men and women who have since risked or given their lives to protect the freedoms I enjoy today. They have ten times the courage and conviction I will ever have.

I'll leave you with this excerpt from the ever-neglected 3rd verse of the national anthem, wich in my opinion, is the best of them all:

O thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation.
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the Heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And finally one last quote, to inspire you on this, the anniversary of our independence. From Chris Stewart's book:
"This is God's chosen nation, His magnificent cause. And because this is true, we still have reason to hope."
Happy 4th of July everyone. Stay safe, enjoy some time with your family and take the day off to remember how lucky we are to be living in this beautiful country of ours.