AP Olympics Blog: Wind? What wind?

Aug. 10, 2008, 9:48 a.m. (ET)

BEIJING (AP) Ni Howdy! AP's Warren Levinson, who is covering his 8th Olympic games, is blogging daily about the sights and sounds of the host city.

FRIDAY, Aug. 8, 2008

It's probably just me, but the thing that may stand out in my mind about the Olympics opening ceremony isn't going to be Li Ning's spectacular Peter Pan act lighting the cauldron.

Or the 2,008 drummers, chanting and drumming on their ancient instruments in perfect unison.

Or the flashing light suits. Or the spacewalkers and the giant globe.

It's those wind machines.

When the Chinese flag was raised early in the ceremony, it snapped smartly in the breeze for the rest of the evening. So did the Olympic flag when they ran that one up the flagpole near the end.

Only there was no breeze. The air was hot, humid and utterly still, as it's been for most of the last week. It's starting to get the asbestos-like smell of a bad brake job. The way things are going, no one's going to have to worry about wind-aided track records.

Now, I know the Olympic opening ceremony isn't exactly a documentary. That Chinese scroll painting wasn't discovered by dancers rolling across a sheet with brushes attached to their hands and feet.

I know the Chinese have been doing their best to control the weather, trying to make it rain and not rain on command.

But still. There were 91,000 hot, sweaty spectators.

You had all that extra wind, and you couldn't blow any on us?


FRIDAY, Aug. 8, 2008

This is probably an easy target: Weird translations of Chinese business names into English. Still, I couldn't resist this one, on a Beijing beauty parlor.

"Focusing attention scalding with Sharon."

I'm sure being scalded by Sharon (or with Sharon) would focus my attention. I'm just not sure it's a service I want to pay for.

As a bald guy, my hair care experience is limited. Anyone care to guess what she means?


FRIDAY, Aug. 8, 2008

You could tell a big event was in the air even if the streets weren't blocked off for miles in all directions around the Olympic Green, or the troop trucks weren't disgorging loads of ramrod-straight soldiers.

The flags are out.

Unlike Americans, especially Americans post-9/11, the Chinese aren't that into flag display. You see them everywhere and on sale everywhere. It seemed every snack bar and newsstand was selling at least little ones on the eve of the Olympics.