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ISSUE 119 VOL 11 PUBLISHED 2/24/2006

Olympics spin out of control

By David Henke
Contributing Writer

Friday, February 24, 2006

The Cirque du Soleil-style pageantry of the Olympic opening ceremonies in Torino had its ups and downs. After having witnessed the surreal ceremony, I decided that the only response that i could write – credit to all aspects of the performance – was a “Best and Worst of” list. So here it is: all the agonizingly embarrassing moments, touching tributes and downright ridiculousness. From Yoko Ono to Bode Miller, I present to you my list of the Worst Moments of the 2006 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony.

Worst Speech: Yoko Ono’s screechy version of John Lennon’s “Imagine” had all of the dogs in Torino howling in pain. At least Peter Gabriel’s rendition immediately after Ono’s speech halfway saved the song – though his flamboyant version of the peace-hymn probably was not what Lennon intended either.

Worst Pastoral Landscape: The tribute to the Alps and their farming culture. I am sure the idea looked good on paper, but in execution it was ridiculous. The roller-blading cows, dancers wearing black and white bovine-themed outfits, and cavorting trees and mountains were a surreal acid trip that left me shaking my head in confusion. To make things worse, the audience was supplied with cowbells. I’m sure it was all announcers Bob Costas, Mary Carrillo and Brian Williams could do to keep from laughing into their microphone headsets during that particular portion.

Worst Pyrotechnics: The “Sparks of Passion” roller-bladers, with two-foot flames shooting from the back of their demonic helmets, looked like they had been summoned straight out of Dante’s “Inferno.” The fireworks were impressive, though how skaters managed to escape the stadium without getting singed is anyone’s guess.

Worst Dance Costume: In an apparently “iconic moment,” executive producer Marco Bacilli, who has staged concert shows for U2 and the Rolling Stones, orchestrated a display that included silver-clad dancers with gargantuan white balls attached to their heads. The dancers, who looked like disproportionate aliens in hazmat suits, were supposed to be a tribute to snow. The cruel irony is that, despite the dancers’ best efforts to evoke it, Torino is still suffering from a decided lack of snow due to unexpectedly warm weather conditions.

Worst Musical Montage: The mix of 70s and 80s disco, which included an Aretha Franklin tune, and “YMCA” by the Village People, was too American. I had to laugh, though, when the Iranian delegation entered the stadium to the strains of “Funkytown,” a song by the 80s band Lipps, Inc. I am sure the conservatives in Tehran burst a blood vessel when they heard about that choice.

Worst Dressed: The Italian delegation’s fur-lined, sleek, and shiny silver outfits – pimpin’ may not be easy, but the Italians definitely had the look down. All that they were missing was the bling.

Notable Mention: Because of the “frat-boy” reputation that Bode Miller acquired before the games, I half expected to see him cracking open a can of beer during the ceremony. It is probably a good thing he managed to restrain himself, but it would have been hilarious if he had not.

David Henke is a sophomore from Detroit Lakes, Minn. He majors in English.

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