The Olympic torch relay rang into a few snags during its Paris leg yesterday, which is a gentle way of saying the torch went out 4 or 5 times. It did get re-lit pretty quickly, mind you, which would probably be acceptable if it were the regular sort of dungeon-illuminating torch. But seeing as it's less a means of shedding light on goblin droppings, and more an internationally recognized symbol of hope, getting doused 5 times is kind of a big deal.
Throughout the route protesters mobbed the relay, and rushed the torch bearer on several occasions in attempts to seize or douse the torch itself. Although none of the protesters succeeded, at several points on the route the police were forced to put the torch out so it could be carried past the protests in a vehicle - which at least in my mind, kind of defeats the purpose of a torch relay. A dozen angry Chinese men and an athlete driving around Paris on a bus with a non-flaming stick doesn't really raise the Olympic spirits.
I've talked about the Olympic protests before and could probably run a regular feature here recounting the various indignities the Olympic torch is bound to suffer over the coming months. Which would grow quickly monotonous were it not for little details like this: During this disastrous torch relay, French officials had arranged for 100 cops on roller blades to serve as an honor guard for the torch bearer.
100 French cops on roller blades. Isn't that the most glorious thing you've ever heard of? Like the kind of thing you'd see in the background of one of the Lord of The Rings battles? If I had my way (I don't) this would also become a common new theme in rap videos. Another great moment: hundreds of protesters shouting at torch bearers who happened to be wheelchair athletes. This isn't a slam against wheelchair athletes, who are, in every measurable way, far better human beings than I. I'm just tickled by the concept, given that you never see people protesting against the wheelchair-bound. At least not since the 20's.
It seems likely these sorts of shenanigans will continue, considering the initial protests during the torch lighting in Greece and the London torch relay on Sunday. At the later, at one point a protester attempted to put out the torch with a fire extinguisher. Training a fire extinguisher on some guy jogging is always going to be pretty funny, but if I were an Olympic protester, I'd be trying to come up with a somewhat grander way of suffocating the Olympic spirit. Something like:
Find an intersection where the torch relay has to pass through and flip around the <- Ocean | Torch Relay -> sign.
Train an elephant to shoot water out of its trunk on anything that burns. Hide the elephant somewhere along the relay route.
Organize your own relay going in the opposite direction. When you bump into the real relay, the police won't know who to protect.
Start an actual fire. When the fire fighters show up, they're rarely forgiving of guys with torches.
Streak out of the sky sliding on a sheet of ice and snatch the torch from the torch bearers hands (you'll need the power to manipulate flows of ice and excellent balance for this.)
Disguise yourself as a Chinese official and stand along the parade route looking like you belong there. When the relay approaches with the torch, douse it with the powerful hose you were holding.