Oh my gosh, the Brazilians are just getting started with their trouble-plagued Olympics with the opening ceremony, and there are already opportunities for satire!
The ceremony was supposed to be more modest and less about the host country, but, despite the small budget, the Rio organizers still managed to put on a spectacle worthy of the hilarities of opening ceremonies past. It began with dancers apparently holding up giant tin-foil squares, as if they were setting up a solar panel farm. Then came a sequence paying tribute to Brazil's ecology and the importance of the environment.
These jokes write themselves, folks!
After some more pointless choreography about Brazil's history - a crash course for people who slept through World History 101 in college - performers began building what looked like a wall from the old Pink Floyd shows. It was actually a construction of a life-size model biplane, representing the powered flight in a heavier-than-air craft operated by Brazilian Alberto Santos-Dumont in Europe, which was certified by the French being the first such flight there, in 1906. The inference was that this was really the first such flight, not the Wright Brothers' flight in 1903, because no one was at the Outer Banks of North Carolina to witness it. What's up with that, Brazil, you're trying to take credit for Orville and Wilbur's achievement? Well, you can't have it!
The show went on to have a lot of hip-hop. Okay, guys, you can have credit for that! :-p
But I was happy to hear some samba, as well as "The Girl From Ipanema," one of my all-time favorite tunes, and it was inevitable anyway, right? And as an added bonus, Gisele Bündchen took what she says will be her last catwalk ever to the cool bossa nova sound of that classic song.
But this time, unlike at Super Bowl XLVI, she wisely kept her mouth shut.
The ceremony then moved to a presentation of the effects of climate change - again, this is in a country where half the rain forest has been burned down to lift Brazil up to a living standard associated with "Western civilization."
It hasn't worked out. Western civilization, I mean.
Oh, yeah, each athlete was given a seed representing one of Brazil's native trees to plant in a park to "leave their mark" at Rio. I suspect that the inevitable doping will leave more of one.
After all that - and the parade of nations, followed by a little more samba - the torch was finally lit, but not by soccer star Pele, despite speculation that he might. In fact, he hasn't been well lately. The cauldron was actually lit by marathon runner Vanderlei de Lima.
I would have loved to see Pele light it, though . . . I'll bet he would have kicked the torch into the cauldron. That would have shown those torch-lighting archers in Barcelona a trick or two!