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It just cracks me up the way people lose objectivity when it come to their own country's Olympics. I'm happy to concede that this is universal (though I did think Atlanta was embarrassing).

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Who's lost objectivity?

I reckon we're not talking about Lillehammer:-)

The ceremony was extremely well received around the world, having read up on wikipedia and as this thread has documented, it has won loads of prizes and nominations. That's a pretty good (objective) suggestion that it was actually a very good show.

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Who's lost objectivity?

I reckon we're not talking about Lillehammer:-)

The ceremony was extremely well received around the world, having read up on wikipedia and as this thread has documented, it has won loads of prizes and nominations. That's a pretty good (objective) suggestion that it was actually a very good show.

Say what you will.

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it has won loads of prizes and nominations. That's a pretty good (objective) suggestion...

I wouldn't go by that. I mean how Olympic opening ceremonies are there in a year? It's not like it was in a Best Picture category which had 9 films competing for the title. What other shows were there of the same magnitude and scale?? The closest would either be the Paralympic OC or the Super Bowl halftime show. But I don't think either were in the running, were they?

[Don't get me wrong, I gave the OC a 65% grade and had some enjoyable parts. But I still think Danny Boyle was not the right man to helm the project. But that's my opinion. ]

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Who's lost objectivity?

I reckon we're not talking about Lillehammer:-)

Exactly!

I'm confused by some of the responses to your post given that you're from Oslo and not a Brit. Very bizarre! At the very least your post further diminishes the myth that some here like to peddle that this ceremony was only enjoyed by Brits, but we get fingers in ears and accusations of lack of objectivity when people point out this isn't true.

Thanks Athensfan for reminding me why I've given this thread a wide berth for a while.

Edited by RobH
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I'm confused by some of the responses to your post given that you're from Oslo and not a Brit. Very bizarre!

Oslo's in Europe, but it's not in France, Germany or Italy. Therefore, by a process of elimination, it must be in the UK (probably a far-flung part of Scotland).

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It just cracks me up the way people lose objectivity when it come to their own country's Olympics. I'm happy to concede that this is universal (though I did think Atlanta was embarrassing).

I agree about Atlanta, but some parts of London made the 1996 OC look like a masterpiece (and i 'm not american). Especially Frank & June was the most unwatchable OC segment ever (imo).

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It just cracks me up the way people lose objectivity when it come to their own country's Olympics. I'm happy to concede that this is universal (though I did think Atlanta was embarrassing).

The above post is not a response to anyone in particular.

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Especially Frank & June was the most unwatchable OC segment ever (imo).

I've given this portion much thought and why it failed so miserably. I think it was, again, a misguided conception of Boyle and team. Where opening ceremonies also delve into larger themes and their bigger-than-life executions (allegorical references and a Day by the River; a salute to ancient Greece for Atlanta; the Great Barrier Reef, the wildfires, the immigrants of Sydney; the Giant head, history, nautical ties of Greece to the sea; China's history told via its 4 great inventions & contributions to civilization and inventive ways of telling it -- just to cite a few examples); London chose to honor another large abstract concept and its living inventor (probably a first there) but telling it with a very common love story; thereby reducing it to very jejeune, banal and lowest common denominator terms. I mean you go for grander things in an Olympic opening ceremony; and tell them grandly -- a digital puppy love story just wasn't convincing -- and not just with grungy looking people from Soho or some Bohemian neighborhood.

You don't pay hundreds of $$$ for something you can see for free when you want to go to town slumming -- or that is the culmination of a 4-year wait since the last eye-popping spectacle. The idea of an impersonal digital, therefore cold, lifestyle and a very personal and intimate emotion like first love--just didn't mix and come off convincingly. It just had too many gimmicks and cutesy tricks. And that's my analysis of why I think this segment, out of all the 2012 portions, failed to click with at least, a good number of regulars here.

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I've given this portion much thought and why it failed so miserably. I think it was, again, a misguided conception of Boyle and team. Where opening ceremonies also delve into larger themes and their bigger-than-life executions (allegorical references and a Day by the River; a salute to ancient Greece for Atlanta; the Great Barrier Reef, the wildfires, the immigrants of Sydney; the Giant head, history, nautical ties of Greece to the sea; China's history told via its 4 great inventions & contributions to civilization and inventive ways of telling it -- just to cite a few examples); London chose to honor another large abstract concept and its living inventor (probably a first there) but telling it with a very common love story; thereby reducing it to very jejeune, banal and lowest common denominator terms. I mean you go for grander things in an Olympic opening ceremony; and tell them grandly -- a digital puppy love story just wasn't convincing -- and not just with grungy looking people from Soho or some Bohemian neighborhood.

You don't pay hundreds of $$$ for something you can see for free when you want to go to town slumming -- or that is the culmination of a 4-year wait since the last eye-popping spectacle. The idea of an impersonal digital, therefore cold, lifestyle and a very personal and intimate emotion like first love--just didn't mix and come off convincingly. It just had too many gimmicks and cutesy tricks. And that's my analysis of why I think this segment, out of all the 2012 portions, failed to click with at least, a good number of regulars here.

You're right about it being a misguided conception, but, I think, completely wrong about how it was misguided. I've said before that I consider F&J "wildly over-ambitious" and I have to stand by that. It attempted to serve all the following functions:

a) The "recent past" section of the overall journey from Britain's past to future

B) The "adolescence" section of the parallel journey from ancestors to future generations

c) The "Miranda and Ferdinand" theme from "The Tempest"

d) A portrayal of British family life

e) Adding quirky popular music to the list of great British contributions to the world

f) Adding quirky music videos to the list of great British contributions to the world

g) Adding quirky films to the list of great British contributions to the world

h) Adding quirky fashion and cultural trends to the list of great British contributions to the world

i) Adding ARM processors (found in the majority of modern mobile electronic devices) to the list of great British contributions to the world

j) Quietly hinting (e.g. via the extract from the song "Enola Gay") that atomic fission was also a British contribution to the world

k) Adding the World Wide Web to the list of great British contributions to the world

l) Satirising the OC tradition of forming people into pretty patterns which only look really good from a blimp

m) Promoting Tommy Cooper

n) Promoting the BBC

o) Adding railways in general, and underground railways in particular, to the list of great British contributions to the world

p) Adding the Beck Underground Map design principles to the list of great British contributions to the world

q) Providing the stadium audience with a roller-coaster ride (I think this was the aspect which was most lost on TV; experiencing something so huge and breathless through a small flat window, particularly with commentary interrupting the flow of sound, was hopelessly inadequate)

So all in all, I think I'd be inclined to revise "misguided" to "utterly crazy".

PS: I just watched last night's BBC4 documentary about Mike Oldfield and "Tubular Bells", which included a contribution from Danny Boyle. For those lucky few who can access BBC iPlayer, it's

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b03cw8g0/Tubular_Bells_The_Mike_Oldfield_Story/

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I've given this portion much thought and why it failed so miserably. I think it was, again, a misguided conception of Boyle and team. Where opening ceremonies also delve into larger themes and their bigger-than-life executions (allegorical references and a Day by the River; a salute to ancient Greece for Atlanta; the Great Barrier Reef, the wildfires, the immigrants of Sydney; the Giant head, history, nautical ties of Greece to the sea; China's history told via its 4 great inventions & contributions to civilization and inventive ways of telling it -- just to cite a few examples); London chose to honor another large abstract concept and its living inventor (probably a first there) but telling it with a very common love story; thereby reducing it to very jejeune, banal and lowest common denominator terms. I mean you go for grander things in an Olympic opening ceremony; and tell them grandly -- a digital puppy love story just wasn't convincing -- and not just with grungy looking people from Soho or some Bohemian neighborhood.

You don't pay hundreds of $$$ for something you can see for free when you want to go to town slumming -- or that is the culmination of a 4-year wait since the last eye-popping spectacle. The idea of an impersonal digital, therefore cold, lifestyle and a very personal and intimate emotion like first love--just didn't mix and come off convincingly. It just had too many gimmicks and cutesy tricks. And that's my analysis of why I think this segment, out of all the 2012 portions, failed to click with at least, a good number of regulars here.

I totally agree with the above.

I would also add that there were big technical problems with realizing the concept. I don't mean technological problems -- technical problems. It was very difficult to discern the storyline. Danny Boyle did a very poor job of creating visual focus (something both Papaioannou and Zhang Yimou excelled at). There was also no rhythm or pacing to the segment. I don't mean musical rhythm, I'm talking about theatrical rhythm. It didn't flow, it didn't develop or build.

So basically it was a fatally flawed concept that was poorly executed from a technical standpoint as well. There was no saving it.

From my perspective, these technical deficiencies exposed Boyle's lack of theatrical (as opposed to cinematic) background and hampered the whole OC. I do acknowledge that I have only sat through the NBC broadcast and snippets from the BBC. i hear that NBC only made matters worse. The problem is that I really can't bring myself to watch the whole ceremony again.

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I have to say that trying to draw parallels between Shakespeare and Frankie & June is most CERTAINLY a bridge too far. I see what JMark is saying about the generational theme, but seriously. As for the rest of JMark's commentary, the whole OC had an "everything but the kitchen sink" quality to it -- including F&J. Sometimes less really is more. I wish Danny Boyle were better at self-editing. I'm a fan of clarity, focus and organized thought. I just didn't get much of that out of London's OC.

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I totally agree with the above.

I would also add that there were big technical problems with realizing the concept. I don't mean technological problems -- technical problems. It was very difficult to discern the storyline. Danny Boyle did a very poor job of creating visual focus (something both Papaioannou and Zhang Yimou excelled at). There was also no rhythm or pacing to the segment. I don't mean musical rhythm, I'm talking about theatrical rhythm. It didn't flow, it didn't develop or build.

So basically it was a fatally flawed concept that was poorly executed from a technical standpoint as well. There was no saving it.

From my perspective, these technical deficiencies exposed Boyle's lack of theatrical (as opposed to cinematic) background and hampered the whole OC. I do acknowledge that I have only sat through the NBC broadcast and snippets from the BBC. i hear that NBC only made matters worse. The problem is that I really can't bring myself to watch the whole ceremony again.

On "creating visual focus"- try turning it round to "Danny Boyle did a very good job of filling the stadium with action". Sydney had managed some very effective stadium-filling scenes, but they were in a sense "tableaux vivants" rather than real action; Beijing used a similar approach, but with the addition of epic mass-movement framing the central tableaux.

You have unfortunately ignored all previous attempts to indicate that Danny Boyle's problem could not possibly be a lack of theatrical background (because he began his career in theatre, and directed a large-scale theatrical production immediately before starting work on the OC). You have also ignored all indications that the "theatrical audience" in the stadium for both rehearsals and the main event tended to find the experience thrilling. The lack of visual focus for TV viewers was thus a direct result of a decision not to short-change the stadium spectators for the convenience of the cameras.

In the particular case of "Frankie & June" there was one genuine timing error which had a regrettably high impact on the narrative (June's sister taking the call from Frankie). Otherwise, the main reasons for the story being unclear seem to have been (a ) the interruptions of TV commentators, and (b ) the presentation of some elements which the stadium spectators saw on the "big house" or the jumbotrons, as full-screen direct-video inserts for the TV audience, breaking the divisions between narrative spaces

I have to say that trying to draw parallels between Shakespeare and Frankie & June is most CERTAINLY a bridge too far. I see what JMark is saying about the generational theme, but seriously. As for the rest of JMark's commentary, the whole OC had an "everything but the kitchen sink" quality to it -- including F&J. Sometimes less really is more. I wish Danny Boyle were better at self-editing. I'm a fan of clarity, focus and organized thought. I just didn't get much of that out of London's OC.

You're exactly wrong on the Shakespeare; "The Tempest" provides the underlying themes for the whole OC.

I don't know what you're trying to imply in the words "but seriously".

As for "the whole OC had an 'everything but the kitchen sink' quality to it", that goes back to the "filling the stadium with action" concept. The traditional OC presents a series of tableaux, one after another. In Athens this was taken to its ultmate, in the float parade of legend and history- ten whole minutes of performers being dragged past the camera while the commentators gabbled to keep up. London probably had fewer separate scenes than that float parade, but allowed them to overlap.

The 2012 OC was indeed the enemy of "clarity, focus and organized thought"- but not by accident. Athens and Beijing had gone so far down that route, in their different ways, that somebody had to present an alternative.

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I totally agree with the above.

I would also add that there were big technical problems with realizing the concept. I don't mean technological problems -- technical problems. It was very difficult to discern the storyline. Danny Boyle did a very poor job of creating visual focus (something both Papaioannou and Zhang Yimou excelled at). There was also no rhythm or pacing to the segment. I don't mean musical rhythm, I'm talking about theatrical rhythm. It didn't flow, it didn't develop or build.

So basically it was a fatally flawed concept that was poorly executed from a technical standpoint as well. There was no saving it.

From my perspective, these technical deficiencies exposed Boyle's lack of theatrical (as opposed to cinematic) background and hampered the whole OC. I do acknowledge that I have only sat through the NBC broadcast and snippets from the BBC. i hear that NBC only made matters worse. The problem is that I really can't bring myself to watch the whole ceremony again.

i think you should watch it again. just to see if you still hate it

the dvd director's cut has more clarity with the pacing and story line

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You're right about it being a misguided conception, but, I think, completely wrong about how it was misguided. I've said before that I consider F&J "wildly over-ambitious" and I have to stand by that. It attempted to serve all the following functions:

a) The "recent past" section of the overall journey from Britain's past to future

B) The "adolescence" section of the parallel journey from ancestors to future generations

c) The "Miranda and Ferdinand" theme from "The Tempest"

d) A portrayal of British family life

e) Adding quirky popular music to the list of great British contributions to the world

f) Adding quirky music videos to the list of great British contributions to the world

g) Adding quirky films to the list of great British contributions to the world

h) Adding quirky fashion and cultural trends to the list of great British contributions to the world

i) Adding ARM processors (found in the majority of modern mobile electronic devices) to the list of great British contributions to the world

j) Quietly hinting (e.g. via the extract from the song "Enola Gay") that atomic fission was also a British contribution to the world

k) Adding the World Wide Web to the list of great British contributions to the world

l) Satirising the OC tradition of forming people into pretty patterns which only look really good from a blimp

m) Promoting Tommy Cooper

n) Promoting the BBC

o) Adding railways in general, and underground railways in particular, to the list of great British contributions to the world

p) Adding the Beck Underground Map design principles to the list of great British contributions to the world

q) Providing the stadium audience with a roller-coaster ride (I think this was the aspect which was most lost on TV; experiencing something so huge and breathless through a small flat window, particularly with commentary interrupting the flow of sound, was hopelessly inadequate)

So all in all, I think I'd be inclined to revise "misguided" to "utterly crazy".

Yeah, too much for so little time. JMark, none of us were sitting there with our copy of "Danny Boyle's Guide to His Ideas for Opening Ceremony 2012 - 101" in hand.

Edited by baron-pierreIV

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Yeah, too much for so little time. JMark, none of us were sitting there with our copy of "Danny Boyle's Guide to His Ideas for Opening Ceremony 2012 - 101" in hand.

Exactly so.

Anybody who couldn't just go with the flow was doomed. Not ideal.

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Anybody who couldn't just go with the flow was doomed. Not ideal.

Then again- you can't say you weren't warned. The ultra-high-speed River Thames journey at the beginning (and indeed, for those who saw it, the 60-second countdown just before the official start of the live world feed) emphasised "go with the flow".

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On "creating visual focus"- try turning it round to "Danny Boyle did a very good job of filling the stadium with action". Sydney had managed some very effective stadium-filling scenes, but they were in a sense "tableaux vivants" rather than real action; Beijing used a similar approach, but with the addition of epic mass-movement framing the central tableaux.

You have unfortunately ignored all previous attempts to indicate that Danny Boyle's problem could not possibly be a lack of theatrical background (because he began his career in theatre, and directed a large-scale theatrical production immediately before starting work on the OC). You have also ignored all indications that the "theatrical audience" in the stadium for both rehearsals and the main event tended to find the experience thrilling. The lack of visual focus for TV viewers was thus a direct result of a decision not to short-change the stadium spectators for the convenience of the cameras.

In the particular case of "Frankie & June" there was one genuine timing error which had a regrettably high impact on the narrative (June's sister taking the call from Frankie). Otherwise, the main reasons for the story being unclear seem to have been (a ) the interruptions of TV commentators, and (b ) the presentation of some elements which the stadium spectators saw on the "big house" or the jumbotrons, as full-screen direct-video inserts for the TV audience, breaking the divisions between narrative spaces

You're exactly wrong on the Shakespeare; "The Tempest" provides the underlying themes for the whole OC.

I don't know what you're trying to imply in the words "but seriously".

As for "the whole OC had an 'everything but the kitchen sink' quality to it", that goes back to the "filling the stadium with action" concept. The traditional OC presents a series of tableaux, one after another. In Athens this was taken to its ultmate, in the float parade of legend and history- ten whole minutes of performers being dragged past the camera while the commentators gabbled to keep up. London probably had fewer separate scenes than that float parade, but allowed them to overlap.

The 2012 OC was indeed the enemy of "clarity, focus and organized thought"- but not by accident. Athens and Beijing had gone so far down that route, in their different ways, that somebody had to present an alternative.

If by "action" you mean chaos, fine.

I'm well aware of Frankenstein. Some (minimal) past experience does not translate to a sure hand on a dramatically larger scale. Clearly.

So you're saying F&J were brilliant and it's all NBC's fault it sucked? Talk about a "London can do no wrong" attitude.

I've got a Master's in Shakespeare. Tempest connections in the OC are forced and tenuous at best and would be totally lost if not for Branagh's momentary Brunel cum Caliban.

London's OC was "the enemy of clarity, focus and organized thought." Finally we agree on something. It sounds as though you just said "Athens and Beijing did a such a beautiful job that we were left with no choice but to be totally haphazard and call it art while hoping no one would notice." According to you, the strategy paid off with most people. It did not work on me.

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It sounds as though you just said "Athens and Beijing did a such a beautiful job that we were left with no choice but to be totally haphazard and call it art while hoping no one would notice." According to you, the strategy paid off with most people.

With a more experienced hand other than Boyle, the evening could've been great art. As it was, it barely squeaked by in Boyle's hands.

Wonder how it would've worked if Kim Gavin did the Opening and Danny worked on the Closing.

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If by "action" you mean chaos, fine.

I'm well aware of Frankenstein. Some (minimal) past experience does not translate to a sure hand on a dramatically larger scale. Clearly.

So you're saying F&J were brilliant and it's all NBC's fault it sucked? Talk about a "London can do no wrong" attitude.

I've got a Master's in Shakespeare. Tempest connections in the OC are forced and tenuous at best and would be totally lost if not for Branagh's momentary Brunel cum Caliban.

London's OC was "the enemy of clarity, focus and organized thought." Finally we agree on something. It sounds as though you just said "Athens and Beijing did a such a beautiful job that we were left with no choice but to be totally haphazard and call it art while hoping no one would notice." According to you, the strategy paid off with most people. It did not work on me.

Best to start at the bottom, I think. Yes, Athens and Beijing did beautiful jobs- but they both, in their different ways (particularly the former), paid too much attention to doing a beautiful job for the TV. London was not "totally haphazard" but it was far less easy to present on TV than any previous ceremony, because it was genuinely a theatrical/stadium experience that was televised, rather than a television production which was performed before a live stadium audience.

That you have a Masters in Shakespeare surprises me greatly, as you seem to have huge difficulties with text interpretation. I don't have a Masters in anything, but I can easily see how The Tempest can be a really important key to the interpretation of the London OC (try, in particular, thinking about Britain- the spiritual nation rather than the archipelago- as Prospero).

Speaking of difficulties with text interpretation; I just described the over-ambition of F&J as "totally crazy" but I then argued, in response to your subsequent specific claim that "It was difficult to discern the storyline", that this was due to particular features of the TV presentation. In other words, I was very clearly not saying that "F&J were brilliant"- merely that the storyline, apart from the regrettable phonecall glitch, was not all that difficult to discern if you (a ) ignored the superfluous commentary- superfulous just as much on BBC as on NBC; and (b ) grasped the geography of the performance, which required more of an effort for TV viewers because for us, everything was happening in the same flat window.

As for "Some (minimal) past experience"- let's be clear about this. The only people who have past experience of stadium/TV shows are people who do stadium/TV shows. As a result, certain elements have become far too prevalent in stadium/TV shows, to the point of monotony (for me, the one great fault of Beijing was over-reliance on precision mass-movement). Some people seem to like the familiarity of such tropes, and enjoy simply spotting the different ways they are used, but many other people, like me, want to watch with no clue as to what will happen in the next 30 seconds. London achieved that in spades.

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With a more experienced hand other than Boyle, the evening could've been great art. As it was, it barely squeaked by in Boyle's hands.

Wonder how it would've worked if Kim Gavin did the Opening and Danny worked on the Closing.

have you seen the closing ceremonies? it had only 20% of the good bits ( kate bush, madness and eric idle) the rest were skip able.

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i still think london OC was a great triumph in the Olympic ceremonies. rather than just showing the same old presentation of happy people in the rows in weird oversize costumes while trying to be universal but ending up being obscure, it feature change, fear, dread, sadness, and excitement that all future ceremony should aspire to.

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Best to start at the bottom, I think. Yes, Athens and Beijing did beautiful jobs- but they both, in their different ways (particularly the former), paid too much attention to doing a beautiful job for the TV. London was not "totally haphazard" but it was far less easy to present on TV than any previous ceremony, because it was genuinely a theatrical/stadium experience that was televised, rather than a television production which was performed before a live stadium audience.

That you have a Masters in Shakespeare surprises me greatly, as you seem to have huge difficulties with text interpretation. I don't have a Masters in anything, but I can easily see how The Tempest can be a really important key to the interpretation of the London OC (try, in particular, thinking about Britain- the spiritual nation rather than the archipelago- as Prospero).

Speaking of difficulties with text interpretation; I just described the over-ambition of F&J as "totally crazy" but I then argued, in response to your subsequent specific claim that "It was difficult to discern the storyline", that this was due to particular features of the TV presentation. In other words, I was very clearly not saying that "F&J were brilliant"- merely that the storyline, apart from the regrettable phonecall glitch, was not all that difficult to discern if you (a ) ignored the superfluous commentary- superfulous just as much on BBC as on NBC; and (b ) grasped the geography of the performance, which required more of an effort for TV viewers because for us, everything was happening in the same flat window.

As for "Some (minimal) past experience"- let's be clear about this. The only people who have past experience of stadium/TV shows are people who do stadium/TV shows. As a result, certain elements have become far too prevalent in stadium/TV shows, to the point of monotony (for me, the one great fault of Beijing was over-reliance on precision mass-movement). Some people seem to like the familiarity of such tropes, and enjoy simply spotting the different ways they are used, but many other people, like me, want to watch with no clue as to what will happen in the next 30 seconds. London achieved that in spades.[/]

Or perhaps no clue as to what happened in the previous 30 seconds either.

JMark, you will sing the praises of London's OC with your dying breath, I am sure.

As for textual interpretation, communication is a two-way street. You seem to have problems of your own, not the least of which is beginning with a conclusion and then grasping at anything nearby to support it. Yes, I've earned a Master's degree in Shakespeare. I earned it in the UK and with honors. In fact, my final dissertation earned a 74 -- something that will be lost on others, but not you or those who have experienced British higher education. So lay off with the textual interpretation business, will ya'?

All that's really happening here is that you loved London's OC and I thought it was very disappointing.

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have you seen the closing ceremonies? it had only 20% of the good bits ( kate bush, madness and eric idle) the rest were skip able.

Of course, I have. Like others here, I surprisingly enjoyed it more, considering I really don't like rock acts.

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Of course, I have. Like others here, I surprisingly enjoyed it more, considering I really don't like rock acts.

That, for me, is one of the most fascinating aspects of this whole business. I share Illustrado's opinion (and actually prefer the Paralympic closing, despite not being Coldplay's biggest fan), but very large numbers of people agree with the Baron. There are obviously some wildly different ways of thinking here.

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