A Retro Kitsch Look At The Olympics
I'm not much of a sports fan (which you can probably tell by my soft-serve ice cream muscle tone), but I've always had an admiration for the Olympics. The opening and closing ceremonies of the UK Olympics were lavish, though occasionally confusing - and it didn't help at all that U.S. TV correspondents felt obliged to fill the air with nervous prattle whenever the action dipped below a fever pace.
Before this year's Olympics started, I had a running list of what world-famous UK icons would be recognized in the ceremonies. I was happy to see James Bond, Monty Python, and of course The Beatles well represented, but felt a bit slighted that Doctor Who - a show about to celebrate its half-century, and a worldwide hit like never before - was not in sight. Though my ears did prick up in the opening ceremony when I heard the unmistakable sound of the Doctor's TARDIS during a musical number. There was apparently supposed to be a salute to British TV that got nixed, so all I can figure is that a kindred sound man sneaked the signature sound effect into the broadcast anyway (it'll be hard to forgive the current producers of Doctor Who if they don't figure out a way to fit this real-world TARDIS event into the plot of their show.)
Lots of retro musical acts, but I wasn't treated to my UK favorites. No glimpse of Peter Gabriel, no historic reunion by The Smiths, and the only sign of the mercurial Kate Bush was "Running Up that Hill" (a signature song for one of the bands I was once in) used as a backing track in the closing ceremony - replete with an unnecessary re-recording of the vocals. If you're a U.S Kate fan wondering how you missed the performance, it's not your fault. The number was cut from our broadcast for some reason.
So the Olympics may be gone, but as always the souvenirs will live on. In 1988, Kodak offered The Winner 110 camera, with a small Olympic decal to make it all official. If you remember 110 film, it was scarcely a "winner" format. The negative was a quarter the size of 35mm, so prints were always a bit grainy, helped little by the low quality cameras that usually used the format. It wasn't too bad a compromise though for a cheap and portable camera.
The other item I came across was this Hallmark ornament from 1996. Sold as a $30 collectible then, nigh worthless now. It's one of those ornaments that you plug into a light string and watch while the ornament itself lights up. This one has a cute flickering flame effect to emulate the torch being lit at the Atlanta Olympics. It seems a bit out of season to depict the feiry symbol of the Summer Olympics on your winter tree, I won't make a fuss. Open flame was part of every Christmas when I was growing up, but that's a story for another time.
So I enjoyed the Olympics overall, and it was fun running across these past souvenirs of Olympics gone by... but if they want to bring back full-on Olympic fever, maybe the Games shouldn't happen every 18 months.