Pride

As the clock ticked down to Friday I have to admit to getting quite excited about the Olympics. I’m a massive sport fan so love the Olympics but there was so much buzz building over the last couple of weeks that the Opening Ceremony was essential viewing.

Could Danny Boyle pull it off? Could Britain pull it off?

Course they could.

From a shaky start the whole show was a success. Visually impressive with some fun along the way and rooted with an immense soundtrack it was an opening made in Britain for Britain. It left almost everyone bursting with pride. As Sir Tim Berners-Lee tweeted, “this is for everyone”. And it was. No matter who you were there was a hook in that ceremony. Some tried to politicise the ceremony and class it as left leaning. Utter nonsense and looking back, all Olympics and sporting events of this size have a political edge. Some critics also said that much of the show would be lost to international audiences but previous opening ceremonies would have been lost on me if it wasn’t for the commentator reading from his or her crib sheet. Danny Boyle and his team crafted a show that galvanised a nation and set the tone for the next two weeks of competition.

A few of my favourite moments below. Ok, lots of my fav moments lifted from the BBC broadcast. Far better photo’s from the ceremony can be found at The Big Picture.

Sir Kenneth Branagh as Isambard Kingdom Brunel. In amongst the chaos he stood out.
Forged rings looked incredible
I loved the light reflected in the welders mask
Great arial shot of the rings and the stadium
That’s not really the Queen is it?
It is the Queen!
She can act
Classic Bond
Celebrating the NHS was a masterstroke – nice to see it trend on Twitter too
Bean – unexpected but fun
Jasmine Breinburg – star of the show?
Digital revolution celebrated with Sir Tim Berners-Lee
This is for everyone
Emeli Sande – what a voice
Sir Chris Hoy leads out the Great Britain team
The BBC cuts to the Queen who looks bored (or looks on with pride according to the BBC)
By day the Olympic stadium looks ordinary but at night it comes alive
Sir Steve Redgrave brings in the torch with a guard of honour from the builders of the stadium. Great touch.
The cauldron – great camera shot from underneath
Olympic flame
There’s always fireworks but ours were real
The rings from space

Even during the endless athletes parade while we waited for Chris Roy and the GB team the music was such a breath of fresh air. Switching to David Bowies “We Could Be Heroes” when GB came out gave me goosebumps. If you loved it as much as me then the Isles of Wonder Soundtrack is a no brainer. Thankfully Hey Jude isn’t included!

Sharing the experience on Twitter was great. Initial worries and anticipation turned into tears and joy…until Hey Jude! It also meant that the killjoys out there were ruthlessly outed. Step forward Aidan Burley, Conservative MP for Cannock Chase.

What an arse. Seemingly he was misunderstood and today he’s said it was because there was too much rap music. Looking at the soundtrack there’s hardly any. The guy has form though, last year being demoted due to some nazi quotes. But one idiot can’t spoil it.

To close of with a couple of high points. Danny Boyle’s forward in the official program (and soundtrack) is inspiring.

Danny Boyle’s program forward

A final highlight was Boris the day before the opening. I don’t often agree with him but from time to time he is (comedy) gold. Enjoy.

Sunday Night Blues

What a lazy weekend. Potentially the only productive output from this weekend is this post. Embarrassing. Especially when this post is just really a thoughts post. A post made up of tweets really. OK, long tweets.

  • Starting on a high, aren’t the Olympics just superb! I’ve spent most of the weekend in front of the TV or the BBC Olympics site watching the Brit’s success. Unbelievable. Usain Bolts run was jaw dropping, Michael Phelps achievements will probably go unmatched for decades, it’s a great games so far. Still a week to go so plenty chance for more British golds. A week before Boris Johnson is handed the Olympic flag. Mind boggling. Seb Coe did joke that 5000 Morris dancers would be used for Britain’s eight minute segment during the closing ceremony but it does make you think – what will we do?
  • iPhone is still causing me grief. App’s have stopped working three times in a fortnight meaning a re-install to get them going. My paid app’s now work as my account history has been restored but if they fail I can’t download them again – I need to buy them again. Apple have assured me that they are trying to fix my issues and that they have noted to get in touch with me again. Cheers.
  • New app that came out on Thursday on the iPhone is Simplify Media which allows you to stream music to your iPhone from your home computer – Mac, Windows or Linux. It’s buggy but when it works it’s superb. Worked well for me over 3G too. You can also invite friends who can listen to your library and vice versa. If they can iron out the bugs and make it more reliable this takes away the size issue of the iPhone. All my music…anywhere. Some screens from the app below.
  • Simplify Media
    Simplify Media

    Simplify Media

  • Weight loss has stalled. However stall is no surprise as I’ve been eating more and doing less exercise. So need to get back to what I was doing as I want to lose a bit more by the end of the year. So it was back in the saddle today with a 19mile cycle. Felt good.
  • Contemplating blog restyle. Again. In fact, contemplating blog and what I should do with it. Again. It’s not really doing what i want and I’m not publishing what I really want to publish. What to do?
  • Last iPhone comment – here’s why I waited for 3G iPhone:

    3g – download – 1.67mps (1666kbps/203kB/s)
    3g – upload – 0.25Mbps (254 Kbps / 31kB/s)

    Edge – download – 0.34 Mbps (340 Kbps / 42kB/s)
    Edge – upload – 0.05 Mbps 949 Kbps / 6 kB/s)

    Quite a difference and the 3G makes it usable, unlike edge which can be pretty frustrating.

  • Everyone seen Dark Knight then? I had a draft post that I couldn’t be bothered finishing off. Basically it said ‘I loved the Dark Knight’ and I’m a Batman geek. It’s dark and very true to the comic featuring many characters and scenes from comics like Hush and Long Halloween. Watching in the Imax was pretty special and the opening robbery scenes and those in Hong Kong were amazing. Heath Ledgers Joker was very impressive and contrasted so well with Batman. Film ended on a muted note but that felt the right thing to do. Loved the real world feel of it all. Using special effects sparingly I think emphasised the fact that Batman is a normal guy – no special powers. Lot’s of gadgets but no powers. Hopefully there will be a third in a few years time.
  • Rangers have made some interesting signings in the last four days. Pity they weren’t three weeks ago when they might have made a difference. Someone needs to be held accountable for why these signings took so long.
  • One last moan. Dog owners especially the one that lets their dog shite at my front gate. Fuck off please. Thanks.

Olympic Thoughts

Day six of the Beijing games are over…my thoughts so far? Dramatic, enthralling, fantastic. When I can I’ve watched, well, any sport really. No matter the sport or the country taking part I’ve been interested. British interest always increases the tension and as Gordon said so well, the BBC add’s to the coverage by framing events so well. But first – that opening ceremony.

It looked and sounded amazing and watching it in HD was pretty special. So many memorable moments and images – The Big Picture photoset captures it beautifully. The manpower and cost, never mind the passion shown during the ceremony makes it almost impossible for London to match but that’s four years away and a different games. During the ceremony the miming and footstep’s in the sky were pretty obvious to spot but took nothing away from the show. That’s all it is – an entertainment show to get the games going. Acts around the world have mimed for years so I was surprised to see so much coverage for this.

I also got annoyed with the BBC emphasising that China had been selective with choosing moments from their past to highlight at the ceremony. What do you expect? In 2012 will we see slavery scenes in London? Pretty silly. Thank goodness Eurosport HD has launched – I watched the majority of the ceremony on Eurosport which even looked slightly better and their surround sound worked unlike the BBC.

As for the sport itself, Nicole Cook was magnificent as was David Florence although the in your face reporting from Garry Richardson was way over the top. It was like David Brent doing the reporting. Favourite events so far have to be from the swimming pool. Rebecca Adlington’s swim was so good as she hauled back a large lead with just metres to go. The most amazing race so far though was the 4x100m mens freestyle. How America pulled back that lead and the reaction from Phelps – image of the games so far. Athlete of the games so far too. In fact, athlete of the games. Can’t think of anyone form track and field that can compete.

From archery to boxing the range of sports covered well on TV has never been better. So sad to see Gail Emms go out today – the interview afterwards was heartbreaking. From BBC HD to the main BBC channels with the fantastic red button service you can see Olympic sports 24/7. Couple that with a great website – I’m like a pig in mud.

Track and field kick off tomorrow and Saturday looks like being the day of the games – so many medals decided and many include potential golds for Britain. One niggle remains though. Should China be hosting the games? For me, absolutely. I don’t agree with how the country is run, the human rights issues, the lack of freedom of speech etc etc etc. How many governments around the world are squeeky clean though? Considering Iraq and Afghanistan should London have been in the running if Beijing is so controversial? There’s a lot of hypocrisy surrounding these games and lot’s of negativity around the blogs. Ultimately the Olympics is about sport but as usual people want to politicalise the games and tell everyone how terrible it is that China are hosting the games and how oppressed the country is. Watch some sport, see the passion from the athletes involved and enjoy it for what it is. You’ll also get to see classic TV moments like this.

Sir Steve gets soaked

Monkey Magic

The Olympics are only a few days away. I love the Olympics – so many different sports, so many heroes and increasingly more villains. The TV coverage by the BBC is usually excellent and this will be the first to be broadcast in HD. I’m already impressed with the marketing and titles that the beeb are to use:

They were produced by Jamie Hewlett and Damon Albarn and are so different from the norm. That’s a good different by the way as there are lot’s of moan’s from traditionalists about the titles. Good to see the normally staid BBC doing something different. Let’s hope the GB team can be as successful. More importantly, let’s hope China do a good job of hosting the games.

Already there is doubts being cast on the full internet access that journalists were promised. Will they all stick to sport reporting or try and use this opportunity to report on what China really is like?

Olympic Brand

London 2012

What a shocker. This is the result of £400k of branding by consultants – the new brand for the London 2012 Olympics. There’s a site that explains the brand and an accompanying video. According to the site “The new emblem is dynamic, modern and flexible. It will work with new technology and across traditional and new media networks.”

All I know is it hurts my eyes and means sod all to me apart from 4 blocks of annoyingly bright colour. Will we get graffiti artists at the opening ceremony?

It's All Over

The Olympics that is. The last event, the men’s marathon was spoiled by some nutter running onto the track and pushing the leader into a barrier. I’m sure it’s the same idiot that ran onto a grand prix track last year (Silverstone?). Don’t think it affected the outcome as the guy was tiring but to think you’ve spent four years training for someone to do that. Fool.

Highlights have to be Kelly Holmes, Matthew Pincent and Amir Kahn. The 1500m was superb and to top the night off the shock of the men 4x100m – I thought the Americans had snatched it but 1/100th of a second is all that matters. Pity about the boxing but the kid (17!!) did really well to get to the final. These have been great games with something to watch almost every day – previous Olympics have always got off to a slow start or had dull days but not this time. Roll on Beijing.

Olympic Contrast

holmesWatching the Olympics tonight showed the difference winning and losing can make. Kelly Holmes in the 800m was magnificent, and the shock on her face will probably be all over the front pages tomorrow. That she only decided to run this race last week was surely a bluff, no?

Contrast her win with Paula Radcliffe last night. At first I felt she had let herself down in the way she had ‘given up’. In hindsight that was harsh – the conditions were tougher than I had realised. I would have struggled to walk never mind run a mile in that heat. To see her still upset today and admitting she was baffled as to her loss of form shows just how difficult it is for her to even understand what she went through. I thought last night it was an odd time to run a marathon as I always remembered from previous games that it took place in the early morning. It’s no surprise to read today that it’s believed the run was held in the late afternoon for American TV. I guess we’ll never know how different the outcome would have been if it had started 10 hours earlier.

 

Olympics

The performances by GB in the Olympics over the last 3 days have been superb. Highlight had to be the coxless fours yesterday morning. Not only was the race good to watch, but seeing Pincent crying on the podium brought home how much effort these guys put in and what it means to them. The cyclists have also been good to watch and the sailors have done well although I’ve had more fun watching Rangers in Europe than trying to sit through a sailing competition. It makes snooker almost watchable.

Hopefully more success today for Paula Radcliffe in what will be a tough race in the early evening heat.