London 2012: Plausibly Live-Blogging The Opening Ceremony

As is tradition with a non-Western Hemisphere Olympics, NBC declined to air tonight's Opening Ceremonies as they were happening. While this is annoying in the grand scheme of things, it works well for my purposes, since I was at work when the event started, and honestly, I'd rather watch it in HD glory than on some pirated stream somewhere.

With that in mind, I've decided to pay, erm, tribute to Dick Ebersol's flawed concept of "plausibly live" in setting up this particular post. Basically, this entry will feature things I would have tweeted if watching live (though, honestly many of these thoughts will be longer than 140 characters). Expect to see comments on the entertainment, the Parade of Nations, the commercials, and well, everything else that happens for the next three to four hours.

The Opening Ceremony is my favorite day every two years, and I want to share that with you all in this space. Newer posts appear at the top. More after the jump.

12:00: And that concludes this live blog. I'll probably be a bit more active on Twitter tomorrow, but I haven't ruled out a post here either.

11:56: Meredith Vieira interviewing Danny Boyle about the show he just produced. The big topic, naturally, was getting the Queen involved.

11:48: Not sure I could think of a better way to close tonight than "Hey Jude." Well, maybe if John and George were around to join Paul...and the also absent, but definitely alive Ringo.

11:46: And now it's time for Sir Paul to play.

11:45: As the fireworks go off to Pink Floyd, I have to think..."they're going to move it before the track and field begins, right?"

11:44: The petals rise and merge to form the cauldron.

11:43: They all light a cauldron of 200 or so petals in the center of the field.

11:41: After embracing their sponsors, the seven athletes each get a torch of their own.

11:38: Redgrave passes the flame on to a group of seven teenage athletes who are taking turns carrying it around the stadium.

11:34: And more ads...way to kill the moment, NBC.

11:33: And now it's time for the torch's arrival. Steven Redgrave retrieves it from the speedboat.

11:32: They just went with the instrumental of the Olympic Hymn this time around. Better than coming up with some translation from the original Greek, I suppose.

11:30: So, not really helping, but it was still excellent to have him involved.

11:29: And Muhammad Ali, who lit the cauldron in 1996, will help with the raising of the flag.

11:28: Interesting group of people from all walks of life, not just athletics, from all over the world, not just the UK, selected to carry the Olympic flag.

11:27: And the Queen just opened the Games, about five or so hours ago, in real life.

11:26: Six minutes for two speeches, not too shabby.

11:25: Jacque Rogge is aging like the U.S. President, not the IOC President.

11:20: Now it's time for speeches. Not sure how much I'll type about these, as I don't want to put you to sleep at this latehour.

11:17: Now that the athletes are all in, it's time for more entertainment, in the form of the Arctic Monkeys playing a cover of the Beatles "Come Together." Sounds really authentic.

11:08: Auburn grad Kirsty Coventry brings in Zimbabwe's flag, then Great Britain enters to David Bowie's "Heroes."

11:06: That may have been the shortest look at the US team in an Opening Ceremonies ever.

11:04: We know the uniforms were made in China. It's too late to do anything about it now.

11:03: And the USA enters, a flood of people compared to the relative trickle of most delegations.

11:02: UAE enters with a smaller team than you'd expect, probably because their soccer players aren't there.

10:59: Commercials just before the USA, fitting.

10:59: Nice hat, Ukrainian flag bearer.

10:58: "Beautiful Day" reminds me of Sydney 2000.

10:57: I love the visual of all of the athletes gathering in the center of the stadium.

10:55: Another U2 song...did the UK take over the Republic of Ireland when no one was looking?

10:53: The Chinese Taipei Olympic flag is my holy grail.

10:50: Now U2 "Where the Streets Have No Name" in the background, which has me amped up for Gator basketball.

10:48: Sudan, but no South Sudan. They don't have a National Olympic Committee yet, but they will have an Independent marathoner, once he gets his visa straightened out.

10:47: Spain's flag bearer is Pau Gasol. Luckily for him, that means his Spanish-flag patterned belt isn't on display.

10:45: The Solomon Islands feature a gentleman in their delegation with a goatee that's dyed in the colors of the country's flag -- blue, yellow, and green.

10:44: The Singaporeans are excited because they can actually buy gum without a dentist's permission.

10:41: Saudis have women too, just not carrying the flag.

10:37: Qatar has a female flag bearer, which you'd kind of expect since it's the first time that country allowed women's participation here.

10:29: The Dutch resplendent in Orange. Simply beautiful.

10:28: "The Fast Forward Conference Of Countries: M Division"

10:24: I'm disappointed Costas didn't say that the population of Liechtenstein could fit in the Carrier Dome (another 20 year old joke).

10:22: Wretch 32's "Tractor" now playing in the background -- hopefully a censored version.

10:16: The two Koreas entered separately. I probably should have mentioned that earlier.

10:15: Costas' Kazakhstan story -- the one about the Borat anthem being played at the shooting meet -- is new, and quite funny.

10:14: If you don't have a real inspirational story on your Olympic team, go with the best medal hope you have to carry the flag. Jamaica took this approach by drafting Usain Bolt.

10:10: Bob Costas now mentioning the 40th anniversary of Munich, calling the IOC out on not having a moment of silence tonight. Of course, NBC probably wouldn't have shown it.

10:07: I carried Hong Kong's flag into the Citrus Bowl at the soccer opening ceremony in 1996...not that one, the British one. Probably the last time that particular flag entered an Olympic venue.

10:06: Told you...Costas really needs to update some of these 20 year old jokes.

10:03: Guam, where America's day begins...or where NBC decides to cut to yet another commercial.

10:00: It's way too early in the broadcast for Costas and Lauer to be this punchy.

9:59: And now the ridiculousness of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

9:58: Finland, brought to you by Suomi Zubaz.

9:55: El Salvador. Hey, you all knocked us out of the Olympic soccer! It's time to cut to commercial.

9:53: Matt Lauer with a Djibouti joke. I laughed.

9:51: I don't think the Czech Republic's shoes will sell in this country.

9:45: If you're a Chinese athlete who plays a sport other than basketball, sorry, you have no shot at carrying the flag in now.

9:44: I also have fairly Canadian fashion sense it appears.

9:42: As I'm half-Canadian...Hooray Canada!

9:41: Twitter tells me that NBC elected to show Seacrest interviewing Michael Phelps instead of showing the tribute to the victims of the 7/7 attacks. Shameful. There would be much complaining if other countries skipped a tribute to the victims of 9/11 at an Olympics held here.

9:39: This is like watching an F1 race on Fox.

9:37: Geek alert. I collect flags. Twice I saw Bosnia's flag for the first time during an Olympic opening ceremony (Barcelona '92 and Nagano '98).

9:36: Bermuda shorts. You know what to do.

9:35: Years ago, Costas would have called Belize "that nation of Cubs fans." And no, I'm not moving there.

9:34: I love how we have to "catch up" in a tape-delayed ceremony.

9:31: Couldn't make it through the letter A without going to a commercial break. Pathetic.

9:28: Nice cheer for Argentina, a bit surprising.

9:27: Angola didn't qualify in men's basketball this year, and Bob Costas makes his usual joke about them not covering the line against the USA in 1992.

9:26: It's a shame Greece may not host again. It's not like they don't have the facilities already.

9:25: NBC helpfully showing where each country is for the American audience, most of whom don't care.

9:19: It's now almost time for my favorite part of the evening, the Parade of Nations. But first, more Seacrest.

9:18: Mr. Deng, I think you need to get Mr. James a Big Mac and fries. You aren't winning gold.

9:14: It's the torch, on a speedboat, with David Beckham. Reminds me that this opening ceremony needs more Top Gear.

9:09: BONKERS! Plausibly live!

9:08: "Firestarter" makes me think of teams scoring on the Leafs. I haz a sadz.

9:04: NOT a good time for ads, NBC. Can't interrupt a musical montage like that.

9:01: The reason it's taking Bob Costas to get to the Stadium: Lauer and Vieira's hot air is creating a serious headwind.

8:58: How many of these songs am I going to have to buy in the morning? Granted, I already own many of them.

8:53: That Mini ad wasn't British enough for the evening. Sorry.

8:47: Rowan Atkinson!

8:46: Chariots of Fire. DRINK. You knew it was coming.

8:44: Yes, the birth of a giant baby is actually a good time for a commercial. First decision you got right tonight, NBC.

8:41: Mary Poppins and Peter Pan in this segment, and no Disney involvement whatsoever.

8:38: if NBC isn't going to give us an Olympic Broadcasting feed, they should at least give us a silent SAP option. Let the picture tell the story, for crying out loud.

8:35: This big band sequence is apparently presented in THX, at least based on the opening audio signature.

8:33: Honoring the National Health Service. Take that, USA!

8:31: I'm waiting for the inevitable Walmart steaks ad with the Queen.

8:25: Best James Bond movie EVER.

8:24: That sequence was totally believable until the day/night contrast bit.

8:22: Should have made the corgis the mascots.

8:21: James Bond, corgis, and the Queen.

8:17: Rings are forged? Everyone has looked longingly at them? Good, great time for an ad break then.

8:16: I'm saying this right now. I hope NBC sells a DVD of this like four years ago. This time, I'll actually watch it more than once.

8:13: MLB would have made Kenneth Branagh take the cigar out of his mouth.

8:12: It's now a smorgasbord of the rest of British history!

8:11: The break to commemorate World War I is one of the oddest and most poignant things I've ever seen in one of these productions.

8:07: Smokestacks. Now with 1000% more actual pollution.

8:05: Or Mary Poppins meets Stomp! (I know, another Disney reference.)

8:04: It's the Industrial Revolution in interpretive dance!

8:03: "Remarkable and ominous," Matt Lauer? Sorry, but I live in post-derecho DC. You'll need to try harder.

8:00: That's not an Abe Lincoln impersonator, it's Kenneth Branagh reading from The Tempest!

7:59 (and I'm off by a bit because I rewound to see if they skipped LA '84) The 2007 Rugby World Cup winners get a cheer during "Jerusalem."

7:57: Great to hear the anthems of the Home Nations, along with rugby highlights.

7:56: I think I used up my quota of Disney references for an NBC-televised event in the past few minutes.

7:55: Per @SBNOlympics, the opening ceremony ends just as NBC's coverage begins. The Circle of Life

7:54: Did they not put a poster up for LA '84? I rewound and didn't see one.

7:52: The UK pavilion at Epcot needs an attraction, other than the Rose and Crown Pub.. Could Disney maybe turn this film into something?

7:51: A attack ad against the Humane Society? Helluva final thing to see before the first film.

7:50: You know the "Olympic Truce"? In this country, we need the "Olympic Campaign Ad Suspension."

7:47: Ryan Seacrest: Reason No. 578,432 why we need more feeds direct from Olympic Broadcasting available on TV, not just online.

7:43: As an admitted Anglophile (one of the two college hoops bloggers out there that I know of who tweets about cricket on occasion), I'm very interested to see the cultural part of tonight's show.

7:42: While I still hate the combined United/Continental identity, I love that they kept "Rhapsody in Blue" for their ads.

7:39: I wish they'd play Boris Johnson's "Geiger Counter of Olympo-mania is going to go 'Zowie!'" bite. He almost did a Howard Dean impersonation too.

7:37: Always a good sign. It's 6 minutes after the broadcast started and our affable host, Bob Costas, is nowhere near the Olympic Stadium. Another good sign, they've trotted Tom Brokaw out of mothballs.

7:36: Graphic: "Previously Recorded." DUH

7:35: if this was some sort of draft, I'd be yelling at the TV for them to just get started already, but I love these opening Olympic preview montages.

7:34: I just put myself on Twitter blackout. I'm old fashioned like that.

7:31: By the way, it's hilarious that the torch is entering the stadium just as NBC's coverage starts. I thought they were trying to wrap the ceremony up sooner.

7:30 p.m. East Coast Bias: Welcome to Blogging the Bracket's Plausibly Live Blog of the 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony. I'll start with a bit of perspective about how the Games have changed in the 16 years since Atlanta hosted in 1996 -- just before I was to head off to the University of Florida for the first time (yikes). You know how competition already started in soccer on Wednesday and Thursday? Well, that's an innovation that began 4 years later in Sydney. The 1996 Tournament started on the first Saturday of the Games, like every other sport. Thanks to a newspaper contest, I was lucky enough to be a flagbearer at the satellite Opening Ceremony for soccer in Orlando on that stereotypically hot Central Florida afternoon, getting to see a Spain-Saudi Arabia match afterward, which ended up 1-0 to the defending champions. That remains the only Olympic event I've seen in person, something I'd like to change eventually.

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