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Details begin to leak about Friday's opening ceremony

By Matt Norlander | College Basketball Writer

So many hate to be surprised these days, you know? We are a world that wants to be spoiled. So naturally, less than a week before the Olympics begin, details have begun to trickle out re: what on earth we'll see during Friday's opening ceremony.

The AP reported on Monday a story buttressed from The Times of London that the "Isles of Wonder" theme for the festivities will invoke a Shakespeare monologue and so much more. The pressure on event Poobah/film director Danny Boyle is immense, to put it lightly. Past opening ceremonies have been so gargantuan and have continually better and better, that at some point, one of these things has to be a let-down, yes?

Since we already know this opening ceremony will be centered around England's greenery and farm-like culture of old, there is already a lowered sense of expectation for Friday that has nothing to do with the fact that Sunshine and The Beach were absolutely terrible movies. There will be many animals involved, though, so my presumptions remain as optimistic as ever.

If you'd like to be spoiled by some of the details, here's what's rumored to go down, from James Bond to The Beatles.

The ceremony will open at 9 p.m. with the sound of a 27-ton bell — the largest harmonically tuned bell in the world — forged at London's 442-year-old Whitechapel Bell Foundry, which made London's Big Ben and Philadelphia's Liberty Bell. A prerecorded segment has been filmed inside Buckingham Palace, reportedly involving Queen Elizabeth II and Daniel Craig as secret agent James Bond. If rumor is to be believed, a stuntman dressed as 007 will parachute into the stadium to start the show.

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According to the Sunday Times, one section will feature characters from children's fiction classics including Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan — and a showdown between Voldemort, the villain of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books, and a horde of flying magical nannies based on Mary Poppins.

Music heard coming from the stadium in recent days ranges from Jerusalem — of course — to songs by The Beatles, The Who, the Sex Pistols, and Vangelis' theme from "Chariots of Fire."

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The final act will be former Beatle Paul McCartney — due to lead the audience in a sing-along of Hey Jude, with thousands of voices urging "take a sad song and make it better."

Can I be snooty for just a second? First of all, being a Beatle is like being an Olympian; there's no such thing as being a "former" one of either. Secondly, Hey Jude? Just a brutal pick. Probably the 113th best Beatles tune. But when you've got a billion people watching, yeah, yeah -- play the hits.

The Voldemort vs. Mary Poppins duel -- a punchout we've all been waiting for -- is impossibly playing out in my mind right now, and it's so ridiculous that nothing Boyle puts out there can usurp it.

The ceremony is also expected to draw upon what England does best: gloom, woe and quiet desperation. This country has a history of its dark years, and Boyle's apparently dead set on depressing the hell out of everyone before McCartney gets himself behind the piano.

The opening ceremony will air in the United States Friday on NBC at 9 p.m. ET. Yes, that means we'll be watching it on tape delay.

 
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