February is usually a so-so month for me. I get no love on Valentine’s Day, football is over after the Super Bowl, and the usual TV shows are starting up again such as The Amazing Race and Survivor which, don’t get me wrong, is a well orchestrated show, but has become so formulaic and too polished in the last couple of years and Jeff Probst is quite a tool while he is hosting the show. Not to mention the various twists featured year after year that end up going away around the fourth or fifth week. The twist this year called Brains, Beauty, and Brawn looks very intriguing and it’s interesting to see which “high-school clique” will win out in the end. That is until they’re all mixed up into different tribes and it becomes a normal game again. Cochran would be a great candidate for the Brains tribe if he came back. Anyways… the contestants are not really on the island to survive anymore let alone learn how to survive. It’s more about the social game, forming alliances, making game play strategy, not about worrying if there is enough rice for everyone. Too many reward challenges that consist of big banquets of food for the players. Come on, what happened to the days of contestants just begging to get a slice of pizza or having to chase and cook their own chickens? I guess it’s the human rights thing – can’t let anyone starve or start dangerously losing a lot of weight that their hair starts to fall out. Still, the game can at least cut back on the amount of food and other luxuries that these spoiled brats of today get.
The Daytona 500 comes around again and for most people is the only race they’ll tune into all year. After that the season drags on for way too long in my opinion, especially with the summer races that seem to run together. How about cutting down the season to 30 races and starting the final ten races in September? We don’t need another Pocono race and of course people over there would say we don’t need another Michigan, which isn’t going anywhere. It doesn’t help that the drivers get a week off just two or three races into the season, either. That just slows down the momentum and makes the season even longer. I’m hoping for Jimmie Johnson to get his seventh championship this year to tie the two legends Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt. Then the whole NASCAR world is going to be in shock and desperation because Jimmie could actually break the record and be crowned the true king of NASCAR with eight championships. What does that do to Petty and Earnhardt’s legacy? Well, they would still be two of the all time greats, iconic images of racing no doubt, but their names would lose a bit of shine and bravado with Jimmie Johnson’s now above theirs. It would be a little embarrassing that they held those championship records for so long, taking many years to amass them and in about 10 short years a racer once just an apprentice and under-winger for Jeff Gordon, had amassed a boatload of victories, two Daytona 500s, and eight championships. All in this screwed up, problematic “play-off” format called the Chase (i.e. letting Jeff Gordon in last year with a 13th spot because of an “unfair racing move” on the track that prevented him from getting in the Chase on his own).
So this February parts of the world have already witnessed a major television event, the Super Bowl, which was a disaster on the field but nonetheless drew in over 115 million viewers, shattering records. Bruno Mars put on an amazing performance that might go down as one of the best halftime shows in recent history. True talent, Bruno Mars has, with dance moves reminiscent of the late Michael Jackson. The NFL has been on a role with getting big name talent for halftime and I expect someone prominent next year to perform. Katy Perry, perhaps? She’s certainly got the fun factor and charisma to entertain for 15 minutes along with an interesting playlist of songs. The nightmare choice would of course be Justin Bieber and if that happens I might as well start packing my bags for the rich iron soil of Mars.
The next big event of 2014 is the Winter Olympics. It started with Greece and now is traveling to the cold tundra of Sochi, Russia by the Black Sea. I am so excited for the Olympics this year, being that I have always been fascinated about the country of Russia and the mysterious veil that always seems to be put over them.
Learning Russian was a choice of mine for a while. I managed to learn the alphabet and did recognize the 33 letters when I saw them being showcased in an artistic form at the beginning of the telecast. But that’s about all I got around to before giving up and trying something more my style, such as taking up photography. Our English language seems so dull and plain compared to the fanciful, romantic languages of various countries. In different parts of the world almost all of the countries names are pronounced or spelled differently than what I’m used too. Even my sister Emily said during the Parade of Nations that our language isn’t beautiful and has no art to it. Now there could be some debate to that but she is right for the most part. In other languages there is inflection and accent to how words are said. In English there aren’t fancy ways of saying the word or rolls and clicks of the tongue that seem like too much added work for an American like me. Words are just pronounced the way they look, except for words like honest of course whose rule is most likely borrowed from Spanish and other dialects of having a silent letter. It must be hard to be a silent letter. It’s like they are just there in the room but no one ever acknowledges their existence. The other letters are like the engine that makes things go and the h, for instance, is the decorative ornament on the hood that completes the car, so to speak, and has no other added purpose than for show.
The opening ceremonies for the Winter Games were simply breathtaking. Excellent choreography, brilliant art and direction, vibrant colors and symbolism that uniquely represented the periods of the Russian timeline. The 1000 years of Russia in 3 minutes was a very nice addition and I praise the animators that put that piece together. Learning more about this historic country intrigues me. Discovery, exploration, imperialism, ballet, buildings, machines, expansion, war, peace, the dark ages, revolution, and evolving technology were all presented during the elaborate 1000 years of Russia ceremony in the stadium. The thousands of performers moved seamlessly together from one act to another, a product of many years of training for this huge moment.
There was one glitch at the start of the ceremony. On the floor five computer animated snowflakes were projected and were supposed to expand to form the five Olympic rings. Four of the rings managed to get into their interlocking forms but the fifth one on the top right stayed in “pre-bloom” and didn’t meet the other rings, making the presentation look odd and disjointed. Right away the announcers criticized and pitied it. It was in fact a buzz on Twitter, like most trivial things are these days. I joked that even though Russia had been preparing for these games for seven years the committee still couldn’t manage to get an Olympic ring to work properly. Just goes to show you we are all human in the end. Interestingly, that fifth ring on the Olympic flag is red, a color that deeply ties into the fabricwork of Russia and the former Soviet Union. Communism, war, industrialism, blood, anger, and of course love.
The President of Russia Vladimir Putin officially opened the games in the native Russian tongue. One of the most iconic powers of the world helping to bring together millions of spectators, athletes, and people across many countries for three weeks of competition, camaraderie, fun, and a chance to show some pride for one’s native homeland. Vladimir Putin is quite a character. Just consult his Wikipedia page. One thing I noticed about the woman Opera singing for the opening of the Games was that part of her dress shoulder was partially down. Showing off some skin to the world, I suppose.
The epic long torch relay ended with figure skater Irina Rodnina and hockey player Vladislav Treiakhe lighting the cauldron together. It was situated outside the stadium in the Olympic meadows. A much more iconic and dramatic lighting of the torch than in recent years. The flame was lit, and a series of flames shot up one at a time and followed their way up to the main apparatus, igniting in its fiery form. Fireworks commenced all over the torch cauldron and the stadium along with The Nutcracker theme playing and a dance number from Swan Lake taking place.
Later on, after the cauldron was lit, there was a second try at the Olympic ring formation. The glitch was fixed and the process went through perfectly. The rings came together, flashed brightly with smoke, and the games of the twenty-second Winter Olympiad were now officially officially open. No, that’s not a typo.
All in all the opening ceremony for the Olympics was a grade A, ten out of ten. That minor glitch did not take away the three hour extravaganza that commenced. It was brilliantly engineered. Now onto the actual sports. I’m mostly interested in the skiing and snowboarding events since they’re fast and I get to see the beautiful Russian landscape with the high rising ice mountains and views of the dark, chilly Black Sea.
P.S. If you read my last post I still cannot yet order my meal in Spanish. I’m working on it, though.