One hour into the Olympic opening ceremony.... (updated)

... which I get to watch live, on CCTV, rather than 11 hours from now in the US on NBC.

My attitude toward Opening and Closing ceremonies is generally like my attitude toward football halftime shows: Time to go get a beer. And after about 35 minutes, that is what this ceremony has degenerated into. (There is a chance it might pick up soon, because the sappy pop-star singing looks as if it may be winding up, and maybe we'll get the torch-lighting and the Parade Of Teams.)

But the first 35 minutes are definitely worth watching; indeed, I can imagine PhD theses being written about the impressive technology and often head-scratching symbolism on display there. Some themes are obvious: the Mass of Happy Minority Peoples (Tibetans, Uighurs, et al) carrying in the Chinese flag.  The Fireworks in Sequence up the old N-S imperial axis of Beijing, from Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City to the Bird's Nest Stadium. Some seem ill-advised, like the 'Triumph of the Will' Memorial Trooping of Goose-Stepping Soldiers to carry the national flag. And much much more.

Definitely tune in, until you see the segment about the history of tea and the parade of Peking Opera stars. Then safely tune out until about an hour-ten after the start, when the Parade of Teams begins -- as it is doing at just this instant, as I sign off.

Recommended Reading

Update: Four hours into the opening ceremony, it is way too long. But it's worth tuning in, starting about time 3:45 from the beginning, to see the wrapup and torch lighting. Parade of Countries takes at least two hours on its own. (Sure are a lot of countries! Cook Islands??? Sure are a lot of non-athletic looking people marching in with the teams -- coaches and big-shots, I assume, plus for the Canadian team, a foreign celebrity on Chinese TV known as "Da Shan.") GW and Laura Bush appear on screen only once, for about ten seconds, waving at the US team. Putin and Sarkozy shown much more often. Coincidence? Punishment? One of many Mysteries Of The Games.

Bonus update: I now have it on good authority that GW Bush appeared on TV a couple of times I didn't see, mainly looking bored. Sorry to have missed it.