The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Monday, August 16, 2004

games on
Despite the tale end of Hurricane Charley, I did manage to catch the Opening Ceremonies for the Athens Olympics on Friday night. After reading about a sneak preview of what was in store, I was most interested in seeing how much of the speculation was true:
... the infield of the stadium was flooded at one point and that a giant statue of Athena -- the city's protector -- rose into the stadium through a hole in the middle of the field.

The set then turned into a mountain, topped by an olive tree, and volunteers danced around in ancient costumes, [the anonymous informer] said. Hundreds of musicians beat drums and a performer dressed as a centaur -- half man, half horse -- shot an arrow intended to look like a comet.

At another point in the show, mythological figures sailed on a boat -- perhaps symbolizing the ancient story of Jason and the Argonauts, in which the hero and his crew hunt for the legendary golden fleece.

The dress rehearsal also included a Trojan horse. In Homer's epic, The Iliad, the horse concealed Greek troops who sacked the city of Troy.
It looks like most of that info was bogus, either by design or through misunderstanding. About the only elements that did show up in real life were the centaur, who tossed a light-javeline instead of shooting an arrow; the drum-beaters; the flooded infield; and the boat, although it carried only a young boy, not a pantheon of gods. No Trojan Horse, no Athena.

The speculation on the torch did prove true:
The Olympic flame will burn atop a 100-foot tapered column resembling the torch used in the worldwide relay. The structure, designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, is fitted with a hinged base -- suggesting it could be tipped over to be lit and then repositioned upright.
Which is what they did. While I did like the lead-up marathon relay run through all the modern Olympic years, with the symbolic stumbles at World Wars I and II, I still wish the torch-lighting had been via a centaur's arrow-shot. It was dramatic at Atlanta, and a repeat feat would have been nice.