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These Games Sound Like a Lot of Fun!

Get ready to watch this on Saturday morning.

I wandered over to the Bird's Nest this afternoon, iconic site of the Opening Ceremonies. "Bird's Nest" is apparently Chinese for "extremely hot paved stadium area with no shade, offering numerous roving concession carts adorned with the logos of Coca-Cola, Minute Maid and Sprite, plus really modern-looking escalators, from which your sweat can easily flow downward."

On the other hand, it's not located in Raljon, which is a definite plus. And no one was trying to sell me a credit card. Another plus.

Little birds nests and a big one.

For some reason, the stadium's vicinity was deserted for much of the day. It was just me, the Coca-Cola carts, several thousand tastefully decorated ground lights shaped like mini bird's nests, and what I'm going to refer to as THE RULES, posted both in Chinese and English. THE RULES figure to provide for just the sort of lively and raucous environment that make American sporting events so much fun.

Basically, fans are allowed to do whatever they want, so long as they do nothing they might do at an NFL game, such as stand up, drink to excess, get naked or come in a group wearing matching colors.

No, I'm serious. "The following actions are considered inappropriate and will be stopped at the venues," the sign reads.

Among the actions: "deliberately displaying and promoting commercial logos on clothing, accessories or other items; wearing clothing with identical or similar designs, colour combinations or commercial logos, as all the other members in your group." And also, "using flash photograph, attending events inebriated and/or disobeying instructions given by staff." And also, "opening umbrellas, standing for long periods in the seating area, or behaving in any other manner that may disturb others or block others' view." And also streaking.

(You might recall that the Kansas City Chiefs received a fair bit of negative publicity this summer when it appeared that they were trying to discourage fans from standing up. BOCOG apparently did not learn the lessons offered by the Kansas City Chiefs.)

As for "strictly prohibited" behavior, think of "any publicity, promotional, demonstration and fundraising activities, including but not limited to, commercial, religious, political, military, territorial, human rights, and animal and environmental protection activities." A fairly comprehensive list of things not to publicize, although personally, I might have explicitly forbidden campaigns promoting Tupperware safety, papercut prevention and the production of yak cheese.

This wasn't awkward at all.

By the time I left the stadium area, I was no longer alone. Some troupe of young men had arrived, possibly in advance of the Opening Ceremonies rehearsal. They posed for pictures in front of the Bird's Nest, striking a series of choreographed poses with mean faces, then laughing, then pose-striking again.

I tried to take their photo, mid-pose, which, of course, caused them to ask for photos with me. This is a real theme of our pre-Games games: all sorts of folks will approach random media members and ask to pose for photos; especially, it must be said, if the media members are black. Michael Wilbon's absence thus means double duty for Michael Lee.

Anyhow, I posed for about six photos with the troupe members, and then got my first glimpse at a venue concession menu. It was pretty much what you'd find at an American sporting event with a few exceptions: namely, the Yili Yogurt, the President Snack Noodles, the Box Meal, and the Egg, a real concession bargain at two Yuan. Daniel Snyder, I feel sure, wouldn't sell eggs for any less than five RMB.

(Oh, and Budweiser, Tsingtao and Yanjing are all going for about a buck and a quarter. Good luck convincing people not to get drunk.)

I'd suggest we call it the Coke Nest, but that sounds like Wall Street.

By Dan Steinberg  |  August 5, 2008; 11:44 AM ET
Categories:  Olympics  
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What?! No commenters? Well, let me say here that I for one am underwhelmed by the arena design. I really reminds me of every failed papier maché project I attempted in grade school. And that takes me right back to a very sad place...I was TRAUMATIZED by the distinction--ever and always!--between my best efforts and those of my "peers." Of course, my mom pointed out to me that "their" work was undoubtedly done by their parents. "Oh!" The light bulb gleamed. "So, you're gonna help with my nex-" "No, sweetie--and if I did, what would you learn?" What I learned was that my best efforts would garner me a C, a chuck under the chin, and the admonition that one couldn't expect to be talented in every area, while my classmates took As. Blech. So, I will avoid every glimpse of that bizarre stadium across the duration of these games...

Posted by: Bobbie | August 6, 2008 4:57 PM | Report abuse

P.S. The ground-globes are kinda cute though. I guess.

Posted by: Bobbie | August 6, 2008 4:58 PM | Report abuse

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