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10 Februar 2006

XX Giochi Olimpici Invernali

Sophia Loren leads Chilean writer Isabel Allende, American actress/activist Susan Sarandon, Nobel prize winner Wangari Maathai of Kenya, Cambodian human rights activist Somaly Mam and three Olympic gold medal winners -- Nawal El-Moutawakel of Morocco, Manuela Di Centa of Italy and Maria Mutola of Mozambique -- with the Olympic flag during the opening ceremony. (AP Photo/Jasper Juinen)

Woo hoo! The Winter Olympics are here! Torino 2006, you've put on a super swanky show so far. Italy has given the world so much when you think about it. And if I look like Ms. Loren when -I'm- 71? Life is good.

I have caught the fever--game on! I HEART Olympic opening ceremonies. For the 2004 Athens Games I was in Bratislava, sitting outside on a balmy summer eve, watching the opening ceremonies projected in giant format onto the side of the place I was staying with students from a gaggle of nations, surrounded by the smell of fresh cut grass mingled with wine and smokes and warm summer night air. Not to mention murmurs especially among the younger set of who was going to be hooking up with whom over the three week span of the course.

Now, in my years of Olympic Game Watching, it seems that there are two viewer types with regards to the Opening Ceremonies: (a) those who love the opening ceremonies and (b) those who don't care. On this eve in "Blava", things appeared no different. While the non-carers went out in search of adventure elsewhere, the rest of us ceremony geeks watched the whole thing til the night grew black and humanity was at its purest.

See, I think world peace happens when you're watching a global event like this with people you've just met from a myriad of countries and languages, and you're all wondering what the hecktors has lured you spend three weeks of your summer to study a little 'ole language like Slovak. In short, it rules!

It was most excellent how everyone did retreat into their perspective country corners to cheer the Home Team as it paraded out. The Ukranians got the biggest ovation, and I believe that while there were only four of us Americans, we provided perhaps the most obnoxious (read: loud) reception. Actually, our one Azerbaijani gave us a run for our money on volume. And the Chinese girls, popping their heads out their second story rooms, went bazerk with their perks of "CHINA!" throughout the night. We were again brought together in a collective "WFT?" as STV 1 (Slovak TV network) somehow 'forgot' to show Team Slovakia parade out, but did manage to show everyone else. Another one chalked up to, "Ach, those darn Slovaks, embrassingly modest...hey, Slovaks, can you explain this to us? No? OK, pass the vino..."

Good times. Torino looked awesome too. I don't know that it was necessary for my man Bob Costas to give props to athletes of the nations save for Iran, when all he did was praddle on about politics. Class act, Bob, real nice. Happened in Salt Lake too, I note these things.

So, the next two weeks should be excellent and I predict that the big scandals will emerge from (a) curling and/or (b) luge. Because skating SNAFU's are passe', even though NBC does seem to be talking the ice events up like it's the Smackdown of Bionic Gladiators or something.

OK, I'm getting verklemt at these commercials that NBC airs during the Olympics, sniff! Oh wait, no, that's actually me realizing that this is my second Winter Games watched at grad school, and that I will be here forever and will end up old and childless living with 87 cats.

Your Olympic thoughts?