Teaching In Socks


olympic madness
August 8, 2008, 2:41 pm
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I’ll have more to add on my day-to-day Japanese experiences, and an update on my atomic didactics later. Currently, I’d like to answer the question I know you are asking; yes, watching the Olympic opening ceremony in Japanese is as funny, if not funnier than it is in America.  Obviously, I don’t understand a lot of what they are saying, but I can pick up a few things they are saying, and can infer others based on their inflection and awkward pauses.

I missed the first part of the opening ceremonies– the part with all the pageantry and fireworks–but I’m okay with this. I’ve never enjoyed a grandiose display of synchronized dancing that wasn’t on “Showtime at the Apollo”. What I do enjoy is the seven to eight hour geography lesson that follows, as each country takes their flag victory lap through the stadium. It’s something that could be really accomplished in about 20 minutes with a simple roll call sheet and a system of hand raising, but they like to drag it out for the extra 7 hours. I like that they do this though as it serves as physical proof (if fragile proof at that–anybody could fake this)  that this country actually exists. It’s a chance for the world to sit down for an evening and half once every four years as fill their TV rooms with questions like, “THAT’s a country?” and “Where is that?” and my favorite, “Libya AND Liberia? which one is the bad one?”.

Along the same lines, the news commentators have to fill the majority of these 10 hours spitting out informaition they had some intern compile from an almanac the night before. Even with this diligent preparation we still get gems like (and i picked this one up from my Japanese  commentators) “Togo is here!” followed by about 3 minutes of dead silence as they wait for Spain to make it’s way onto the track. The one major difference i have been able to notice is that in the last ten minutes I have heard the words “judo” and “synchronized swimming” with greater frequency than I ever has experienced before. This is odd. These are words that should never be uttered in the same sentence, let alone sports that should simultaneously be considered noteworthy within the same nation. You have to pick one! What will it be Japan? War or senseless dancing?

Regardless, there’s a lot to be learned from this ceremony. I like to look to see what countries decided they need ot distinguish themselves with hats. I like to then pick a winner for craziest hat. So far, Krygystan looks to be in the lead, btu there are still somewhere between 15 and 120 countries left to go.  Note to outfit coordinators: even when the hats are cool, they still look a bit silly.

There are several other distinguishing factors that provide a lot of information about a country:

-How many people are representing said country? If it’s a small number, do they look bashful about it?

If they are way embarrassed, they maybe shouldn’t be a country.If they aren’t embaressed at all, they have no sense of scale and shouldn’t be allowed ot have a country.

-Do they have props? how cheap do these props look? do they look like they were made in China?

Cheap Chinese trinkets are for brown-nosers.

-How much of a babe is their flag bearer?

If they have a babe as a flag bearer, that country most likely doens’t expect to take home a lot of medals because mnedals woudl distract them from the babes.

-Blazers or no blazers?

Countries with blazers have almost universally been conquered or run by the brits at some point. seriously, some clothing company should run a slogan for their jackets, “Blazers: the jacket of choice for civilization and liberty.”

-When announced, does their President/Prime Minister/Enlightened Despot stand? What said leader’s kid?

This is self evident. I only mentioned it because the president of Uzbekistan’s 12 year-old son couldn’t bother to tuck in his short sleeve,  Eddie Bauer Flannel shirt for his appearance on global television ,and oh yeah, he waved like  he was saying goodbye  to his gym teacher.

One final note, I like how we were separated from Russia only by Syria, i think that’s poignant and complimented our “Chic sailor” so nicely that I shed a cold war tear. Plus, I swear I saw Carl Weathers out there for us.

I haven’t seen any giant Olympic themed anime characters jump on my screen just yet but it’s only a matter time. This is Japan after all.

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