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Live Blogging From The Opening Ceremonies

12:40 a.m. -- Paul McCartney is on now, as predicted, and singing "Hey Jude". It's a tough song at his age, but he'll have a lot of help with the refrain.   

12:32 a.m: The flame is being carried around the stadium by seven young people, each one nominated by one of seven British sporting legends.

12:26 a.m. -- Sir Stephen Redgrave, who won gold medals in rowing for Britain at five straight Olympics, is carrying the Olympic flame into the Stadium. The oaths are being taken on behalf of athletes, officials and coaches. It looks like a communal lighting of the flame is in store.

12:22 a.m. -- Muhammad Ali was just introduced. A small correction. "Tubular Bells" and "Ziggy Stardust" were obsessions during my FRESHMAN year at Mizzou. The blog regrets the error.

12:16 a.m. -- Sorry. I had to write a column. It's still a part of my job description. Jacque Rogge is speaking now. Sebastian Coe delivered an eloquent talk, saying he has never been prouder to be British. "There is a truth to sport," Coe said, "an intensity, a drama that makes it irrersistible to compete in and watch." He said it will "inspire a generation."

Queen Elizabeth II just officially opened the Games. Next we'll find out who lights the Olympic flame.

10:36 p.m. -- Sizable contingent from Brazil, which will host the next Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro four years from now. Love the flag with the blue globe and white stripe. British Virgin Islands, take a bow. Wonder how many of the 205 were once part of the British Empire? Another one for Sporkle.

10:28 p.m. -- Another favorite game of mine is guessing the country by the flag when it emerged at the end of the tunnel on its way in. I don't do very well. I need to get back to Sporkle. OK, here comes a black, blue and yellow flag. Nice. It's the Bahamas. I like the light blue coats, too. What is this, Project Runway? Here's Bahrain, one of my favorite Bahrs. Bangladesh is next. My driver the other day was a young guy whose parents came from Bangladesh. I told him I remembered George Harrison and the Concert For Bangladesh. Sad that George couldn't be around for this.

10:24 p.m. -- The parade of nations has begun, beginning of course with Greece and ending with Great Britain, the host. I'm always amazed how long it takes to get through the A's. I always forget Andorra, American Samoa, and Antigua -- which now goes by Antigua and Barbuda. That's not to be confused with Barbados, which is coming soon with the B's. There's 19 of them. Long parade. Settle in.

10:07 p.m. -- Been sitting and enjoying this latest section, which has been mainly music and dance. Frankie chases June through a bunch of clubs that play songs from the 60s, 70s, and up to today.  Nice to see a forgotten song, Bowie's "Star Man' from the Ziggy Stardust album, given its due. I went into a major Ziggy phase after I was done with Tubular Bells my senior year at Mizzou.

9:52 -- Clearly, the English don't take themselves as seriously as the Chinese. The crowd and the world viewing audience was just treated to a clip of comic actor Rowan Atkinson pretending to conduct the London Symphony in "Chariots lf Fire,' then tossed into a clip of the actual movie and blithely running with the young Brits. The crowd went wild. I loved it. So did everyone around me.  

9:36 -- Now a blast from my past. Mike Oldfield performing from "Tubular Bells" his hit album from 1973. I spent countless hours in my freshman of year, listening to that album in something close to a trance. Now they have the entire field encircled by hospital beds and nurses doing swing dance with partners of various sizes and shapes. A bit of a nod to the Health Care System here. I'm sure Michelle Obama, who is here to represent her husband, is very pleased with it.  

9:28 p.m. -- Sorry, I'm recovering from the 15 minute Pandemonium, a tribute to the British role in the Industrial Revolution. It was the most thrilling segment I can remember in an Opening, with pulsating drums and smokestacks rising out the ground. Now we're seeing a staged film of James Bond (Daniel Craig) picked up the Queen to deliver her to the Games.

9:09 p.m. -- Branagh's last words were "until I try to dream again." Uh,good choice to recite, I would say. Now loud drumming, must be Dame Evelyn Glennie, the famed Scottish percussionist. Powerful stuff. The pastoral scene now giving way to workers from the Industrial Revolution. The next 15 minute segment remembers the excitement, upheaval and hardship of that time.  

9:06 -- They're showing children singing from all four places on video. Kids in Northern Ireland did "Danny Boy." Wow. Intersprersed with shots from soocer, er, football. Just saw Kenneth Branagh get out of a coach in a big top hat, carrying some text. I suspect he'll be reading the words from The Tempest, one which this part of the Ceremony is based.

9:04 -- Bradley Wiggins, the first British winner of the Tour de France, comes out to ring the opening bell.

9 p.m. -- They just played the start of The Who's "Baba O'Riley" ... you know, teenage wasteland. Now it's London Calling, of course, for a few bars. Music loud. Hey, it's rock.

8:58 p.m. -- The pastoral scene in the middle of the stadium is in full swing. There are girls swinging around four maypoles,one to represent each of the four nations in Britain: England, Northern Irealdn, Scotland and Wales.


8:55 p.m. -- The London Symphony Orchestra has begun to play. Moving stuff. You know I'm a semi-regular at the BPO with Melinda. The music at the start of a Ceremony always gets me. Five minutes away. The countdown should be awesome. There will be 96 children releasing balloons for the final 10 seconds, one at a time.

8:25 p.m. -- A man and woman I've never heard of have been addressing the crowd for the last 10 minutes, giving them instructions on what to do during the ceremony (including giving deaf applause after the national anthem). It's a far cry from the restrained and quiet lead-up in China. I remember it being pretty dark that night, and being stunned when the 2,008 fou drummers came out of their motionless states and began pounding.

Sure enough, it has begun to rain, barely 30 minutes before the official opening.  The instructors told the people it wouldn't be London without rain. The people cheered, sort of. What they don't need is an untimely shower at the very start. You can see the rain coming down fairly hard below the lights atop the stadium.

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Just saw a video shot of Yelena Isinbayeva, the two-time defending champion in women's pole vault. It reminds me, in their preview issue Sports Illustraed predicted that Jenn Suhr, the pride of Fredonia, wouldn't medal. I wonder what her coach/husband, Rick, thought of that.

But I was talking on the media bus with SI's Tim Layden, an old colleague from Newsday. Tim said he thinks Suhr has a great chance to win gold. He said Isinbayeva no-heighted last week in Monaco and might not be in top form for London. Of course, you never can tell with the Russian diva.

Things are developing here. A group of people walked into the stadium with a bunch of farm animals. The people appear to be dressed in clothing from the 1700s.

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LONDON -- Welcome to the Olympic Stadium, at a little past 7:30 p.m. British Summer Time. I attempted a live chat earlier and failed miserably. All right, it was my fault. But a live blog is better from an event like the Opening Ceremony. I can do without the usual edgy back-and -forth of the live chat. Way to put your mouth in your mouth again, Mitt!

The crowd is filling in here. Four fake clouds are being paraded around the stadium. Danny Boyle ("Slumdog Millionaire"), the mastermind of the Ceremony (and it is singular, I've discovered), will use the clouds to simulate rain during the show. There's been little rain this week. I didn't see any until late this morning. But it's clear now and supposed to be fine tonight, a great relief to the London people and the organizers. London had the rainiest June in its history -- which is like Buffalo setting a record for snow in January.

The video boards atop the stadium just went on. The first image was sprinter Usain Bolt. No surprise, since he's the highest-paid track and field athlete in the world, and the biggest star of the Games who doesn't play for the U.S. men's basketball team.

Guess what? They're going to use the Sex Pistols' song, "God Save The Queen" in the show. It is not a flattering metion, as I recall. My brother was a big Pistols fan back in the day. Maybe that's why he still lives at home with my parents.

 

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