There's just too much bad news these days. Everywhere you turn, it's something horrific, something negative. Shootings, car accidents, catastrophic weather events, unemployment rates, the political blame game, the Red Sox - I was happy to unplug most of the time while on vacation last week.
But starting tomorrow night, our TVs will be put to the test for... yes, the Summer Games! The Big Show! The Olympics! I love the symbolism of it all - the Olympic Theme, the opening ceremonies, seeing each country march in, the team members' faces looking like they're going to crack from the smiles they're sporting, the hope oozing from their pores.
Above all else, besides what kitschy characters will dance around, what strange nods to the host country's history will be set to music, the big question - in what miraculous way will they light the torch for these games?
Best EVAH lighting of the Olympic cauldron goes to the 1992 Summer Games in Barcelona – dude, they lit it by SHOOTING AN ARROW INTO IT!!! Winter or Summer, that wins hands down.
Turin’s cauldron lighting at the 2006 Winter Games comes in a close second – lighting the cauldron by setting off multiple rings of fireworks that go off one by one, like dominoes falling, was a visual masterpiece.
The 2000 Summer Games opening in Sydney could have had a mashup of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” and the theme from "Close Encounters" as its theme music. It would have worked with the torch-bearer running into a pool of water and lighting a ring of fire. IN THE WATER. Then the ring rising up over her, looking more and more like a UFO every minute, until it reaches the top of the water ladder.
The 2008 Summer Games at Beijing bring up the rear. Remember the guy who flew through the air and then running, still suspended in air, around the wall at the top of the stadium? As he runs, footage of the flame’s journey is shown on the wall. He finally reaches the end of his run and lights the biggest wick-looking tube I’ve ever seen, which flares up and lights the scroll-looking cauldron. Considering I HATED repelling in a Swiss seat rope harness in Project Adventure, I can only imagine the relief he felt when they finally let him down.
An honorable mention goes to the 1994 Winter Games at Lillehammer – if you’d had the skier light the cauldron rather than handing off to some guy running up the stairs to do it old-school, you would have knocked Barcelona on its butt.
And I have to include, for pure sentimental value as a child of the ‘70s and ‘80s, the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta. To see the Greatest, Muhammad Ali, still standing despite his Parkinson’s, appear at the top of the stairs to receive the flame and light the torch, brought tears to my eyes. Even if it was done by lighting some lame ball o’ wax and sending it up a pulley, which worked better when they did the same trick at Albertville’s 1992 Winter Games.
So, which cauldron lighting was your favorite? Are you going to watch the Opening Ceremonies? Or for that matter, any of the events? Or are you going to rely on cable stations and RedBox to get you through the next 16 days?