I Woke Up And One Of Us Was Crying

I’d like to watch the Olympics opening ceremonies, please.

This sounds like a simple request, but apparently is akin to asking a soiled, drunk nun to perform brain surgery on an epileptic chihuahua on the roof of a moving car: not only won’t things turn out OK, but the nun probably won’t even understand what the hell you’re asking her to do.

Like Formula One racing, the Olympics broadcast is a feed exclusively licensed to a single broadcaster in each country. That broadcaster then – I’m assuming this is written into the contract – is obligated to muck up the broadcast by talking over it inanely and incessantly. I think this is really an idea that should be applied in more places. Just the other night, I went to the symphony, and right about the middle of the first movement of Shostakovich’s 7th, I started to get bored. “You know what this music needs?” I thought. “Color commentary”.

“Now, Marv, it looks like the timpanist is starting to limber up a bit.”

“Yes, Katie, that’s right. The drums represent the approach of the Russian offensive, in response to the destruction of St. Petersburg. The timpanist has practiced for over 400 hours waiting for just this moment…now! Wow, Katie, isn’t that something?”

“It sure is, Marv. The precision with which he hit those notes is a testament to the hard work and dedication that this symphony orchestra has put in over the past 6 months, all waiting for this big night. In a moment, the violins will enter, signifying how life must go on even in the midst of sadness and tragedy, but right now we have to break for a commercial. We’ll be right back.”

Complaining about the quality of TV coverage of the Olympics is, of course, a time-honoured tradition that has gone on for many years. That’s not really what I’m complaining about here. What I’m hot and bothered about is that I can’t get better coverage, even if I am willing to pay for it. Look. It is the year 2008. I wake up in the morning, eat my protein-pill breakfast and then fly to work with my jetpack. I type into a magic box which can perform arithmetic faster than God, and which sends my words across the globe in near- real time, and I have the entire works of William Shakespeare and Groucho Marx at my fingertips. But the people running the Olympics can’t figure out a way for me to pay them money to download a simple video feed of the opening ceremonies. I don’t need commentary. I don’t need commercials. I want to give you cash, and see the pretty pictures.

Oh well. Maybe in 2012.