Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Oh, it's Special alright...

So I was sitting in the wonton house, reading a book and nibbling on soup dumplings -- as is my custom -- when the wonton boss turned on the house TV and tuned into the opening ceremony of the Special Olympics, which is about to convene in Shanghai.

The first point of interest came in some interesting translation work done as the opening speeches were made. There was an English-speaking host and a Chinese-speaking host; the white dude would say something like "an event as incredible as the Special Olympics is built on courage and determination," and then the Chinese lady would say "China is courageous and determined, and is hosting the Special Olympics." The crowd loved it.

Next up to the stage: Zhang Ziyi. Very graceful, very beautiful woman. Internationally famous actress. Trained at Julliard. Chinese can't stand her. I think the Geisha movie really pissed 'em off.

Then there was a live kung fu performance with, like, a thousand martial artists kicking the asses of a thousand invisible punks in perfect unison. Awesome. Unclear whether these particular martial artists are intellectually disabled.

Finally, the big man himself arrives. The keynote speaker; a man who wholly embodies the spirit of the Special Olympics: former Mr. Universe, T2000, and current governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger himself takes the stage in Shanghai to let the people know what's up.

"I know a leetle bit about action movies," he generously informed the masses. "But the REAL action is going to take place right here, and the real stars are you guys..." at which point a diverse squad of photogenic Special Olympiads trounced on stage, grinning and waving to the cameras.

"So it's my pleasure to be here in this great country, and in this great city, to witness this historic event."

Thus spoke Conan the Barbarian.

(Actually, to be totally fair, Schwarz really has come to fit the role of a polished, eloquent, and dynamic statesman. How bout giving him a briefcase full of peace-treaties, an olive branch, a machine gun, and some hand grenades and sending him out on diplomatic missions to conflict zones? He'd be like: "we can talk about this reasonably, or I can go Total Recall on your ass." Problem solved.)

Anyway, that's what's going on in Shanghai right now.

Postscript: I have major beef with the so-called "Special Olympics." Read my tangential rant (which I call a "rantangential") on pages 26-27 of The Art Of Living.

1 comment:

Nadia Chaudhury said...

I always think of you whenever I hear about the Special Olympics.

Snd since you can't read the BBC, here's an article about it (Colin Farrell was there too!):

The spectacular opening ceremony for the Special Olympics World Summer Games has taken place in Shanghai, China.

Spectators were dazzled by vivid colours and expert choreography

Enlarge Image

And judging by the awe-inspiring display of traditional dance, music and pyrotechnics, Beijing will have a tough act to follow next year at the start of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games.

Speaking to the 80,000 spectators, Special Olympics ambassador Arnold Schwarzenegger said the enthusiasm of the competitors involved in the games made them bigger heroes than those he played during his movie career.

"I used to play in action movies as the action hero but that was actually nothing that can be compared with the real action that is taking place in this stadium," said the California governor.

Chinese President Hu Jintao declared the Special Olympics Summer Games open, while Mr Schwarzenegger, film star Jackie Chan and Irish actor Colin Farrell greeted the ecstatic fans inside Shanghai's Olympic stadium.


The extravaganza began with an army of Chinese drummers heralding the special athletes from 160 countries into the arena, and ended with an awe-inspiring display of colourful pyrotechnics.

The show kick-started a nine-day sports event

The show was masterminded by multiple Emmy Award-winning producer Don Misher, famed for his half-time Superbowl shows and the opening ceremony for the Atlanta Olympic Games in 1996.

Every member of the audience was handed a lunch pack prior to entering the tightly guarded stadium, along with a seat-numbered box containing a torch, a flute, a scarf and a coloured fan for use during the stunning visual display.

Yang Jian, a 22-year old student who has lived in Shanghai all his life, said it was one of the most spectacular shows he had ever witnessed in the city.

"It is very difficult to chose a moment that was the best," said Yang.

"The whole show was very good, and I enjoyed the fireworks.

"It was amazing, I have never seen anything like it in Shanghai."

China's largest city will host 7,500 athletes from 160 countries for the Special Games, which encourages individuals with learning disabilities to participate in sport programmes across the globe.

'Not emotional'

Jane Moncrieff, the deputy head of the British delegation of athletes, said while the Shanghai performance was inspiring, it did not carry the same message as previous opening ceremonies.

"I think it was visually spectacular, in terms of colour and visual effects," he said.

"I've been at a number of these ceremonies in the past, and they're normally very emotional, but this one didn't seem to go in for that.

"It's maybe not the Chinese way to go in for emotion, but the colours were incredible, and it was expertly choreographed."

Aiden Montgomery, a 22-year-old from the East Midlands and part of the British swimming team, said the opening ceremony was the experience of a lifetime.

"I thought it was really fantastic," he said.

"We could hear all the chanting and whistling before we were introduced to the crowd, it was so exciting.

"I couldn't believe there were so many people, waving and whistling.

"It was amazing being introduced to the people in the stadium, just like a proper Olympic Games.

"Seeing the action stars like Arnold Schwarzenneger and Jackie Chan was great too, and the torch run was incredible, just like a real Olympics games.

"I'll cherish this for the rest of my life."

The athletes will now commence a nine-day programme of 25 sports in venues across the massive city, aided by an army of 40,000 volunteers.