…by Anura Guruge
London Olympics 2012 Opening Ceremony, Gross, Unnecessary Distortion Of British History — July 28, 2012.
London Olympics 2012 Opening Ceremony: The Muhammad Ali Moment Was A Unmitigated DOWNER! — July 29, 2012.
In general I liked the music at the London Olympics Opening Ceremony.
Much of it was from my ‘youth’ growing up in Britain. It was good to see and hear Mike Oldfield. I am sure that like so many I have really not followed Mike since the mid-1970s. The ‘Tubular Bells‘ LP came out in 1973 when I was at University, in Swansea. Music, much more so than now, was a big part of my life. I used to buy lots of LPs and attend any and all concerts I could — my parents, guilty that they had kind of cut me lose and abandoned me in the U.K. since I was 15, while my father pursued his diplomatic career were generous in their stipends.
When ‘In Dulci Jubilo‘ came on it stirred something in me deep inside. I knew the tune. I knew that I liked it. I kind of remembered it was Mike Oldfield. But, I had to go and find it on YouTube.
Anyway, I also found the ENTIRE playlist of all the music they played at the Opening Ceremony. So here it is:
At the start of ‘The Telegraph’ is the iconic picture of the Beatles crossing the Zebra Crossing in Abbey Road. The FAMOUS Abbey Road studio where the Beatles and so many others reordered so many of the songs we still know and love was an unprepossessing ‘light green’ house, with a small concrete front garden behind a short wall — just behind George. In the late 70s I started to visit Abbey Road on a regular basis and make a point of crossing the road at that Zebra Crossing. No, I was not going to the studio. I was going to Lord’s. My Holy of Holies in London. In those days, into the 1980s, you could park somewhere on Abbey Road and walk to Lord’s. I noticed that Lord’s is a venue for the 2012 Olympics. I saw some archery from there. I used to spend days at Lord’s.
…by Anura Guruge
Not sure why but this year’s Huggins Fair does not seem to be getting much publicity. To be fair, they probably don’t need it. Those that know, know it is always the first Friday and Saturday of August.
It is one of our perennial favorites and we were distraught that we could not attend last year because we had to go to Boston to meet with a cousin visiting from Canada.
I have been going to the Huggins Fair since 1993. I had a place on Shaw’s Pond, 6 miles down the road from Wolfeboro. My neighbor there, Pauline, would readily admit that Huggins Fair was the highlight of her year. She would shepherd her whole large family over to the Brewster grounds early on Friday morning so that they could be right up front, by the ribbons, when the fair was officially opened at 10 am. As part of her extended family, I too started going there before the Fair started. I don’t do that anymore. I go late on Saturday evening, instead.
This is by no means the largest, fanciest or exciting fairs of NH. It does not set out to be any of that. The tone is more of languid NE charm. You can’t beat the location. The views of Winnipesaukee are spectacular. It is a wonderfully friendly atmosphere. The kids love the rides. The food always smells great.
The huge book tent is my favorite. Don’t forget that Wolfeboro has as its residents some heavy duty intellectuals and Old Money (not to mention Romney). So you will always find some interesting, possibly even rare non-fiction books. Over the years I have picked up some wonderful art, religion, travel and biography books at the fair.
So, this is just a heads up. If you are there around 5pm on Saturday you should see me. I will be the only brown guy wandering around.
…by Anura Guruge
Related post: London Olympics 2012 Opening Ceremony, Gross, Unnecessary Distortion Of British History — July 28, 2012.
Do not get me wrong. I am a HUGE Muhammad Ali fan. I adore the man. I first came to the U.S. in 1967. He, then Cassius Clay, was very much in the news. He was iconic. He was brilliant. As with so many of my age, boxing was synonymous with him. He is one of my very few non-cricketer sporting heroes, Nadal, Ashe, Gareth Edwards, J.P. R. Williams and Jean-Claude Killy probably being the others (I having worn a red cap that said ‘Killy’ on it for nearly 20 years of my skiing life).
I cried when Ali appeared at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics to light the flame.
I still cry when I see that clip. To me that was one of the greatest of Olympic moments.
The World should always remember Ali and the Olympics in terms of his historic win in Rome in 1960 and Atlanta in 1996. Period.
Having ‘Muhammad Ali’ appear towards the end of the London 2012 Opening Ceremony, to symbolically touch the Olympic flag, was unnecessary, out-of-context, stupid and above all a HUGE DOWNER.
I did NOT recognize Ali. Check the video above.
When I was told it was Ali, I was shocked, depressed and embarrassed.
To make it worse, some NBC ‘twittering-head’ idiot was twerping away about it being the ‘unmistakable Muhammad Ali‘!
That was a HUGE mistake.
That was NOT my Muhammad Ali. To see the wheelchair behind him was sad; my mother too had Parkinson’s but died before she got to that stage of infirmity.
Poor Ali. He had no idea where he was or what he was supposed to be doing.
The 8 august flag carriers looked palpably uncomfortable. One, I think it was the ‘charitable’ lady from Brazil, gave Ali’s arm a squeeze as she left.
What were they thinking?
This was the second embarrassing faux pas of the Ceremony — ignoring the Empire was the other.
I have listened to the Americans rave about the director Danny Boyle. Most know him from Slumdog Millionaire. If you remember that, it had some strange, even gruesome scenes. I bet most of the twits on NBC have never seen Trainspotting, his first movie. That was one heck of a strange and dark movie. To me the Opening Ceremony was like Trainspotting.
There was ABSOLUTELY NO need to have Muhammad Ali there. He has no real connection with London, other than getting knocked down there, for the first time in his life, by Henry Cooper.
So was this AN INSIDER JOKE on poor Ali and the Americans? Bring Ali to London, those of us who were there will know that this was his first fall. Boyle sure is capable of cruelty such as that.
This was wrong. I am furious. We as Brits are better than this. Muhammad Ali is and will be one of the greatest figures of the 20th century. He was A MAN.
I really want to forget that stupid moment. Let us remember Muhammad Ali from the glory of 1996.
…by Anura Guruge
I watched the start of the Opening Ceremony from London last night (while simultaneously DVRing it) with growing consternation, and I am sure part of it was the usual, lopsided, commercial-ridden ‘we don’t have a clue‘ coverage by NBC. For a start I wish they wouldn’t keep on chirping that London is the first city to hold 3 Olympics. There is a word missing, and that word is ‘modern’. London is the first city to hold 3 modern [i.e., post 1908] Olympics. The original Olympics were held in Greece, every 4 years, for centuries.
For those of you who haven’t sussed it out yet, I am a Brit, a very proud and loyal one at that. So I do know a bit or two about British history. Yes, I have climbed the real Glastonbury Tor. I have made a pilgrimage, in 1978, to ‘Iron Bridge‘ the birthplace of the British Industrial Revolution. I still watch, thanks to Dish, at least 45 minutes of cricket nearly every day. So, the themes at the start of the Opening Ceremony were not alien to me.
I thought the agrarian period was well depicted, but I was waiting for the Knights and King Arthur.
Then, with a cacophony of over-the-top noise, that we did listen in 5-in-1, I was amazed, or to use the British expression, ‘gob smacked’ to see the Industrial Revolution and mention of WW I. OK. Yes, I saw a skeletal white ship in the background, most likely an illusion to Irish immigration.
But, hold on.
What happened to our EMPIRE? Naval supremacy. The Virginia Plantation. The Colony that we lost. Canada, India, Australia, Ceylon, South Africa and New Zealand.
It was the Empire that put the Great in Britain. I am a product of the Empire.
I am appalled. This was taking political correctness to unnecessary lengths. You only had to look around to see all the signs of the Empire. Britain is a true rainbow nation, we saw folks and kids in all colors and hues. That was and that still is the Empire.
I am offended. I am bummed. I am embarrassed. How could THEY do this to ME?
I wish my mother was alive! She used to have a private phone number for the Queen. Yes, they had met a few times and my mother had this beyond belief ability to get private phone numbers from VIPs. She had a little pink address book with private phone numbers for quite a few Heads of State. And, being my mother, she didn’t have a problem using them when she needed. Well, IF my mother was alive I would have told her to call the Queen and complain on my behalf.
1st mention in Rome Reports in February, 2012.
Given that I am in NH rather than Rome, and I am kind of new to Papal History, it is neat to be acknowledged by THE folks in Rome for my unique statistics. Yes, it is my 42 years of computer experience. Not too many other papal historians who crunch data like I do.
Over the last few days I have been getting around 800 hits a day on my main pope blog. I don’t make any money, but it kind of feels nice.
Filligar — This Band Should Go Far. We Saw Them At Dartmouth’s HopFest On July 20, 2012. Very Impressed.
…by Anura Guruge
These boys (slightly older than my oldest daughter) should do very well. Outstanding personalities. Their parents should be so proud. Three of them, two of them twins, are brothers; the twins Teddy and Pete, and younger by 2 year, Johnny Mathias. They, along with their childhood buddy, Casey Gibson, who make up the quartet, all hail from Chicago, though they now spend a fair amount of time in L.A., the place to be when you are on the cusp of making it big.
Their music was loud, vibrant, vivid and pulsed to an irresistible beat. Not the music I normally listen to, but I can appreciate the contemporariness of it. The kids definitely gave them 2 thumbs up and thought they were the BEST group of the day. Who am I to disagree? They are the new experts.
Given that their merchandise table was right behind me while I was doing my 3-hour Information Booth shift, I got to talk with some of them; with Johnny in particular. Boy, was I impressed. All three brothers are Dartmouth graduates, and it shows. Johnny graduated just 2 years ago, with a degree in history, majoring in American-Arab relations. I am sure that there are a couple of 3 letter agencies in D.C. who would love to offer him a job.
I have to confess that I have always, since my late teens in the late 60s, been bit of a groupie. I used to follow Steeleye Span and Lindisfarne around the U.K. — lucky enough to have a job (with ITT Data Systems, as their UK Customer Support Manager) that enabled to me travel the country on official business during the day. More recently, Deanna and I got a chance to meet and spend some time with Alison Krauss and Union Station. Also during my 20 years of attending the NH Highland GamesI have had the chance to talk with members of many an upcoming band.
The Mathias brothers, especially Johnny, the most down-to-earth, unassuming ‘superstars’ I have had the privilege of talking to. They were great. Realistic, good heads on their shoulders. They even made their own tie-dyed Filligar T-shirts to sell to their growing band of fans. I wish them well. They deserve it.
I see that their Wikipedia entry says this about the name of their band: They invented the name Filligar (based on the Mathias brothers’ sister’s childhood pet).
I did not know the origins of the name, and given my noted interest in names asked Johnny about what it meant. He gave me a longer, more detailed and awfully cute explanation. Their sister is a ‘few years’ older than them. A ‘long time ago’, in Chicago, at a fair she won a goldfish. She wanted to name it after the cat, Figaro, in Pinocchio. The name, however, came out (as is the wont with kids) ‘Filligar’. Isn’t that cute. I like their sister. Wanting to name a goldfish after a cat shows an interesting line of thought. These kids have good genes. It made my day.
So … here is to … Filligar. We wish them all the very best.
Dartmouth’s HopFest, July 20, 2012: Was A Blast! It Really Rocked. Darmouth As Ever Delivered, As Promised.
…by Anura Guruge
Prior posts on HopFest:
1/ June 7, 2012.
2/ July 18, 2012.
The flyer we got in the mail in June looked promising. I have always had great luck with events at Dartmouth (or locale, with Teischan having been born at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical) and I have, over the years, going back to 1998, seen some great shows at the Hopkins Center – a ‘Gypsy Caravan’ show, for ever, altering my tastes in music. Given that we planned to be there on Friday, for the opening ceremony (WITH CAKE), we decided to volunteer as well. That worked out great. David D. Lloyd, of the Hopkins Center, who coordinated the volunteers was outstanding. When he learned that I was a Granite State Ambassador he assigned Deanna and I to the Information Booth, Deanna from 3 to 6pm, and I from 6 to 9pm. That worked out great. It was next to the stage so in addition to getting to interact with some wonderful folks, including some of the members of Filligar, the first band on the stage, and we didn’t miss out on any of the amazing music. [More on Filligar in a minute.]
We saw and heard: the Asphalt Orchestra, Filligar, Matuto and Pine Leaf Boys. They were all extremely good. The Asphalt Orchestra was good, uplifting music, performed with great vitality. They were a great way to get things moving. Filligar was refreshingly contemporary and the kids thought they were the cat’s whiskers. Nicest bunch of guys I have met in a long time, especially Johnny, the youngest of the three brothers (the other two twins), all graduates of Dartmouth, with whom I got to have a long and relaxed chat while we were both ‘working’ the info book; he promoting the band merchandize. Matuto was a hit. Very compelling, visceral music. They had the crowd on their feet. Deanna was up there dancing. I like Cajun music, so enjoyed the Pine Leaf Boys and we all enjoyed playing with their puppy.
There was a lot of crafts for the kids. They enjoyed it. We got to meet our ‘friends’ from Revels North. I even put on their jester costume. Lots of free stuff.
The food was good. Samosaman was late arriving due to car trouble. But, I still managed to get one before we left. It was good; chicken and cheese. So a good time was had by all.
This is supposed to be a one-off, to celebrate the 50th birthday of the Hopkins Center. I was urging them that this should be an annual event. It should pay for itself. Thank YOU, Dartmouth. Thank you, David. Thank you Johnny of Filligar.