Only hours to go. The opening ceremony for the 2012 Olympics is tonight and I am squealing like a nine-year-old girl, on the inside. It scares the cats if I audibly project my excitement. To keep from alarming the stock I will temper my enthusiasm for the moment bleating about the Olympic mascots.
Have you ever seen one you liked?
Is there anything more useless?
They aren't meant to be useless. They carry messages, they signify something. There is merchandising thought behind them, focus groups possibly.
Wenlock and Mandeville the atrocities of the 2012 games are supposed to look like drops of steel with cameras for eyes. Really. The suits who masterminded their creation say they are contemporary interpretations of the British Industrial Revolution.
They are feeble, but they are not the worst. That honor goes to Cobi, Barcelona's 1992 sheepdog in the cubist style - a briefly interesting early 20th century art movement that tortured faces and places. Rendered in plush fabric Cobi does not resemble a dog, a sheep, or anything cubist.
Most embarrassing were the brother-sister act from Athens in the 2004 Summer Olympics that looked more like marital aids than the ancient Greek dolls they were supposed to emulate, unless ancient Greek dolls were multi-tasking household items.
The 1972 Summer Games in Munich had a weiner dog call Waldi. The Germans said he represented the attributes required of the athletes, resistance, tenacity and agility. Which suggests the Munich mascot committee never owned a weak-bladdered, snack-begging Dachshund.
The first mascot deserves some hate, Schuss, from the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble. He looked like the love child of Reddy Kilowatt and that irritant icon from Microsoft Office, Clippy. Schuss became the foundation stock for a line of stuffed idiocy that has never successfully represented the host country nor the Olympic Games.
Beavers, bears (brown and polar) , raccoons (real that died then a human in a pitiful raccoon costume), wolves, tigers and one computer generated whatsit, have all done time as Olympic mascots. Not that you are likely to remember any of them, or recognize them for the animals they purport to be.
No one will complain if Olympic mascots disappeared from the program and if the IOC felt there had to be a mascot may I suggest we just recreate Bob Costas in fake fur, stuff him in a geographically appropriate sweater vest and call the little darlin' the Costas and let him be, as he is, the universal mascot for all things Olympic.
The countdown has begun. I was awakened by NBC's Olympic fanfare today, and the five ring, two week, frisson of Olympic fever is upon me. I can only imagine how excited those opening ceremony sheep must be. There are people who are more possessed with the Olympic countdown than I. Sarah Hyndman, for example, has been arranging objects in the Olympic ring configuration and photographing them every day for a year. Every day! Granted some days she is hard pressed to find five circular objects, but her efforts, arranged by month are quite astounding. Check them out at www.olympiclogoaday.com. Here are Hyndman's rings for countdown month three.