Within hours of expressing a fervent hope that St. Blog's would live up to the spirit of the Olympics and honor the ancient tradition -- older than Christianity, even -- of the Olympic Truce, the ol' playbook came out to exercise "Catholic" Tactic #1: Shoot the Messenger.
Yoko Ono came out to introduce her husband's most famous song with remarks which began, "Imagine peace!" It didn't take long for Imagine, and everything about it, to get trashed in the suburbs of Catholicism as "that militant atheist *UNINTELLIGIBLE MOUTH-FOAMING, MOUTH-FOAMING, MOUTH-FOAMING*."
Just further proof that Christians embrace peace, but some Catholics have a ways to go.... I'm a dreamer, too, Yoko. No worries -- you're not the only one.
And Luciano Pavarotti, God love him. Tipping the scales at 1,200 lbs., or thereabout, the world was powerfully reminded yet again that, in the land of my fathers, it ain't over until the Fat Man sings -- and keeps his mouth and arms open after his vocal is completed, as if the orchestra's in his mouth or something (which, with Pavarotti, might've been a feasible proposition). And you've got to admit, the cappa (complete with rhinestone Olympic rings) which was probably stolen from some anonymous cleric proved the perfect finishing touch.
You see, Pavarotti is all divo, all the time -- the straight man's answer to the Daughters of Wojtyla. And, Good Lord, the man has earned it, dyed-black hair, boiling whole chickens, and all.
The Big Man's signature piece which he performed last night, "Nessun Dorma" from Puccini's Turandot -- soon to be banned at a Catholic college near you -- has long meant much to your humble scribe. So I was pleasantly shocked to hear it coming at the end of last night's program. Its panoply of spiraling high notes make it one tough nut to crack, and the Pav just keeps it strong despite being 70 years of age, on his second wife and after having given half his net worth away in the divorce settlement with Adua.
Again, we say, God love him.
The cauldron-lighting was too quick and, ergo, anticlimactic -- in Sydney, Berlioz's Te Deum roared in the background as a flaming disc emerged from a litttle pool and surrounded Cathy Freeman before climbing to its place -- but, all in all, Torino put on a good show.
To whoever composed the NBC intro at 8pm, thank you for having me crying in my fried chicken within six seconds. That was just incredible -- the kind of writing I'd give my... something... to do.
Still holding out hope for the Olympic Truce, though.....
PHOTO: AP/Matt Dunham