Age Convergence: The Rolling Stones and the Supreme Court

1 Comment


With the Rolling Stones playing a few special concerts this winter with walk-on appearances by Bill Wyman, Twitter is abuzz with the factoid that the Rolling Stones are now older, on average, than the US Supreme Court.

Does this claim hold water? It does. I calculated the age of each institution at the end of each calendar year from 1962 to the present. The US Supreme Court is older now than at any time from 1962 to 1978, but for the last 60 years it has nearly always been between 60 and 70. The peak is in 1985 thanks to Brennan, Marshall, Burger, Blackmun and Powell all being over 76, and the low point is also the Stones’ low point, 1962, when the oldest justice was Warren at 71. A local minimum was reached in 1994 with Blackmun’s replacement by Breyer, the sixth new justice in a decade.

In contrast to the stable age profile of the Supreme  Court, the Rolling Stones have increased in age nearly every year from 1962 to the present. My system for determining who is and is not a Rolling Stone is fairly stringent, with everyone who may be considered to have “joined” the Stones since 1975 being better described as a sideman. As such, Stones personnel changes have been as follows:

1963 – pianist Ian Stewart (25) demoted to roadie/sideman
1969 – death of guitarist Brian Jones (27), replacement by Mick Taylor (20)
1974 – departure of Taylor (25)
1975 – addition of guitarist Ronnie Wood (28)
1992 – departure of bassist Bill Wyman (56)

Based on my statistics, the Rolling Stones are now older than the Supreme Court, but this is not a new phenomenon, as the Stones have comprised the same four individuals for years, while the last change to the US Supreme Court was the replacement of John Paul Stevens by the 40-years-younger Elena Kagan on August 7, 2010. With Kagan’s appointment, the Supremes averaged 64.4 years of age at the end of 2010, while the Stones averaged 66.5. They have each aged since then at a rate of 1 year per year, as seen in the parallel trajectories in the above graph.

However, there has long been some “wiggle room” in determining which individuals can be considered Rolling Stones. In 1993 the band appointed a new bassist, Darryl Jones (born 1961). If Jones were considered a true replacement for Wyman, the band’s mean age would at this point drop substabtially and even as of mid-2012 would be lower than that of the Supreme Court. To my mind this is a fallacious notion. Despite his consistent role in Stones performances since then, Jones is described by Wikipedia as a “salaried employee”, who is largely anonymous onstage, does not receive an equal share of touring proceeds, and appears to fulfill a “sideman” role similar to that of the keyboard guy and the saxophone guy.

If Jones is to be considered a Rolling Stone, in recognition of his years of devoted service, we can then say that on November 25th, 2012 the Stones finally became older than the Supreme Court, with the return of Bill Wyman (age 76) for “It’s Only Rock n’ Roll (But I Like It)” during their set at London’s O2 Arena. However, it follows that during any future concerts at which Wyman is not present, the band’s age will again drop to below that of the Supreme Court. This state of uncertainty is suboptimal and we hope the recent results from CERN, which seem likely to deal a death blow to supersymmetric string theory, also resolve the issue of whether the Rolling Stones contain one, two, or (as I conclude) zero bassists.

Absoludricous Bond non-girl monickers

1 Comment

We all know women in the James Bond world have ridiculous names. Someone who’s barely significant in a single scene will off-handedly be named something like “Jenny Flex” or “Molly Warmflash”. But after seeing the pivotal butterfly puppeteer assassination in A View To A Kill, I wondered if that scene featured a particularly ridiculously-named man — or if there are ridiculously named men are more common than I think. Here are the ones I came up with (aside from the obvious henchmen: Jaws, Oddjob, Tee Hee, Nick Nack, etc.)

Achille Aubergine (Jean Rougerie, A View To A Kill)

Morton Slumber (David Bauer, Diamonds Are Forever)

Nigel Small-Fawcett (Rowan Atkinson, Never Say Never Again)

Professor Joe Butcher (Wayne Newton, Licence To Kill)

Puss-Feller (Lester Pendergast, Dr. No)

Auric Goldfinger (Gert Fröbe, Goldfinger)

Think about it. That name is horrible. Just idiotic.

Sir Godfrey Tibbett (Patrick Macnee, A View To A Kill)

In A View To A Kill Bond gets an age-appropriate partner for once, MI6’s horse expert Sir Godfrey Tibbett (second from right, above). Roger Moore and Patrick Macnee also once played Holmes and Watson.

Gustav Graves (Toby Stephens, Die Another Day)

It would take an odd sequence of events to produce someone named “Gustav Graves”. This also applies to “Franz Sanchez” (Robert Davi) from Licence to Kill.

Mr. Kil (Lawrence Makoare, Die Another Day)

He’s just a henchman with a nickname. But I wanted to post this picture.

“The hand that salutes my father will never hold mine.”

Leave a comment

You have to hear the theme song that plays over these opening credits. It is such a pre-rock apotheosis of cutesy-poo simpering Chordettes-style whitebreadery.

Here’s one movie that’s quite easy to describe. It’s a farce about guys in the US Navy who are stationed in Venice and use a missile-guidance supercomputer and a signaling beacon [or whatever it’s called, a briefcase-sized lamp that they use to transmit Morse code – they call it a “blinker”] to win big at a casino roulette table. So, strict verisimilitude.

The general impression one gets from this movie is that it has a bunch of actors who have spent many years playing teenagers, now playing adult characters but still interacting the way they used to do in the teen movies. The most obvious modern example of this situation is St. Elmo’s Fire. I don’t know if that was really the case, but the characters in THE HONEYMOON MACHINE [Richard Thorpe, 1961] certainly act very silly and seem untroubled by responsiblities.

The actors include Jack Mullaney, age 31, as the slow-witted Southern guy, doing a very loud Broadway Southern accent; Paula Prentiss, age 23, as the sardonic and husky-voiced woman with boring suitors; and Jim Hutton, age 26, as the straight-arrow computer engineer who refuses to marry Paula Prentiss because she’s rich [talk about surmountable obstacles]. And Steve McQueen, age 31 [three years after The Blob], as the fast-talking charming excitable schemer. This is not a role in which McQueen is often found, and he spends most of the time with a furrowed brow and pursed lips no matter how many goofy mannerisms he throws into his snappy patter.

Jim Hutton and Paula Prentiss, both freakishly tall

McQueen does well enough in the Joe Piscopo / Mike Damone role. In the first half of the movie he gets a little annoying [yes, there’s a scene where he’s told of the computer’s powers and starts stroking and petting it and whispering his love]. But later on he’s a straight man. Which is odd, as the farce gets more and more frantic in the second half, as farces do, and yet the comedic moments shrink away. We get scene after scene of people standing around in a hotel suite, as the irascible admiral played by Dean Jagger [clearly the J.K. Simmons of his time] orders people to find the missing blinker, to find out what the ship is signaling to, to start negotiating with the Italian government which will apparently be bankrupted and start an international incident if the casino bank is broken, etc. Eventually he gets convinced that it’s aliens, for no reason at all. Yes, aliens. Come on! And the youngsters run around in another hotel suite hiding the blinker, getting the investigating seaman drunk [Jack Weston, also doing a theatrical accent, of some East Coast locale], bonding under stress, etc.

This is based on a play. As such it has some good dialogue, albeit entirely during the scenes when characters are getting to know one another, not during the farcical parts. The best scenes are Hutton and Prentiss encountering each other in a bar [“Jason. Is it my fault my father manufactures frankfurters?”], and a wholly unexpected outburst by McQueen’s love interest, the admiral’s daughter Julie, played by Brigid Bazlen. Who was 16 at the time but playing a few years older, and fits right in with the adults despite occasionally using words like “dopey”.

This is the scene depicted on the poster. She met the three sailors a few minutes ago, and doesn’t know yet that they’re sailors. McQueen’s character has helped his shipmates find reasons to leave the room. He plasters a smile on his face and walks toward her.

Fergie: Well … here we are.
Julie: That’s the quickest scuttling of chaperones I’ve ever seen.
F: You’re not listening – I said here we are.
J: Well then, what are we waiting for? [removes jacket] Close the drapes, bring out the liquor, let’s get this show on the road! [throws her arms around his neck] Action, that’s what I like! None of that beating around the bush, none of that modesty jazz …
F: Take it easy! Look, Miss Fitch!
J: Call me Julie.
F: All right, Julie –
J: It had to happen! It had to –
F: Not necessarily –
J: Come on, I’m putty in your hands. [pushes him onto the couch … kisses him, then stands up again and grabs her purse]
F: What are you, some kind of a sex fiend?
J: Just teaching you a little lesson. Don’t make jokes with admirals’ daughters. We cut our teeth on sea wolves. Than which nothing is wolfier. [takes out compact]
F: Do you, uh, give out many of these lessons?
J: As many as I have to. But I’ve gotta admit, you scare off pretty easily.
F: I think I feel my courage oozing back. Want to try again?
J: School’s out for the day. [heads toward door; he dashes ahead to block it]

This scene stands out even in this movie for its implausibility, but it’s quite progressive.

Finally, the reason I watched this film. Because the TCM synopsis mentioned a computer. I always like to see how those are depicted, in genre movies from the days when a computer filled a room. HOT MILLIONS (Eric Till, 1968) is highly accurate and has highly believable computer nerds. BILLION DOLLAR BRAIN (Ken Russell, 1967) is more about artificial intelligence and supervillains, and is interesting in that I never considered, for most of the movie, that the voice giving orders was anything other than a man in a control room interpreting the computer’s output and making decisions. No, it’s the computer itself, calling all the shots. Past notions of the possibilities of A.I. are amazing.

As for The Honeymoon Machine, the only insight comes from how the characters refer to “Max” [MACS], the computer, as the “electronic brain”. Or just the “brain”. Occasionally the “computer”. They aren’t necessarily trying to be cute; to the layman it comes naturally to describe this device as a “brain”. I never appreciated that back then, “electronic brain” was a real term, not a marketing exaggeration or a tiresome simplification. Was there was a period when people took “information superhighway” seriously? I don’t remember it.

* * *

For more on computers starring in movies: Starring the Computer.

No Orchids For Miss Blandish: a phonological corpus

Leave a comment

No Orchids For Miss Blandish [St John L. Clowes, 1948] is a lurid, action-packed movie, a British imitation of American noirs.  It’s based on the first of dozens and dozens of novels by James Hadley Chase, a specialist in American gangster/crime subjects who never lived in America.  In a 1944 essay George Orwell cited the massive popularity of No Orchids For Miss Blandish, particularly with servicemen, as a disturbing sign about the seemingly robust British character.  Real name Rene Raymond, Chase had various series of books set in New York, Florida, California, London, and the international theme park of Cold War intrigue (see here for more early book covers).  It contains plenty of evil men (and almost no non-violent men), but No Orchids may be unusual among his work in its lack of evil women.

His books have great titles. Seen below: the third Vic Malloy novel, from 1950, and the third Helga Rolfe novel, from 1977.

Director St John L. Clowes had directing experience, but not in features.  If he hadn’t died at 40 shortly after making this movie, he might have had a real impact on British cinema, because in the department of being…let’s say, not staid and subtle…this movie makes Brighton Rock look like Brief Encounter.  The B&W looks great, everything is shiny and crisp, and whatever room a scene is taking place in contains a spare number of background items which set the scene precisely [chairs, paintings, little horse statues, a cigarette-girl, a Schaefer beer sign,  and whatever the thing is on the wall in the early scene in Ted’s bar — a dartboard in a glass-fronted case?].  The calculated exception is in Miss Blandish’s opulent and dull family home, where there are objects everywhere to a smothering degree.  The best shot is around minute 52, when she’s first seen at peace wither her captivity, leaning on the wall with a new hairdo, next to two wall-mounted masks that look a lot like her.  Or maybe the best shot is one of the occasional bird’s-eye-view shots, in which the spotlight on the performers is an absolute perfect circle.  A spotlight’s view of the action…other examples of that device are not springing to mind.

Flyn (Danny Green) and Slim (Jack La Rue)

The most awkward part of the film, as you might expect, is the falling-in-love part, which happens even faster than you might expect.  It’s so abrupt that one presumes she’s pretending to seduce Slim in order to get him off his guard and escape, as captives do in any number of fairy tales and films like Aladdin, Anaconda, The World Is Not Enough,Big Bad Mama, Toy Story 3, and Sleuth, as well as The Grissom Gang, Robert Aldrich’s 1971 adaptation of the same book.  Although it’s the rare kidnapping/hostage story whose victim is rarely in any danger, this movie is just full of brutality and action.  Lyrically romantic wordless interludes with music swelling [one of them just a 15-second close-up of some orchids and what looks like a decanter of port] stand out, because in general this is a snappy thriller that never gets boring.  It’s not up there with Pickup on South Street, but it’s up there with Kansas City Confidential.  Like Chase’s book, it’s the too-rare instance of the Brits going ALL-OUT to emulate an American genre, with results that America looked at with a patronizing “Whoa there, tiger.  You seem so quiet, little buddy, but you might just be more screwed-up than I am.”

It’s hard to add much to this entertaining Slant review and this piece by John Beifuss.  But I don’t think they focus enough on the diverse range of British actors’ American accents, or on the weird nightclub acts, of which there are more and more as the film progresses.  The jazz clarinetist, the unbilled vaudeville comedy duo of Jack Durant doing Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet while his partner looks on, the amazingly acrobatic terp duo of Toy and Wing [billed as the far more British “Toy and Wyng”], and the schmaltzily melodramatic terp duo of Alicja Halama and Czesław Konarski.  And then there’s the two songs by actress Zoë Gail as Margo.  Every review I can find seems to emphasize this song (thanks, Youtube user deneuve1939!) as exemplifying the movie’s oddly cynical [that is, cynical in an odd way] approach to gender relations, so I won’t say anything about it except to tell you to watch out for the clues that Zoë Gail is not American.  She hits the T at the end of words like “but”, “it”, “got”, can’t” too much, and there’s something about the word “through” that sounds wrong.  As far as I can tell this song does not exist anywhere else but in No Orchids For Miss Blandish.  Such a shame that it wasn’t included on Nancy Walker’s I Hate Men.

By far my favorite aspect of this film is what Robert Osborne advised me to watch out for before TCM‘s prime-time showing — the various fake American accents.   My main experience with inexpert American accents by British actors is in sitcoms, and there can’t be too many movies like this, with a dozen or more honest attempts to sound American by Britishers who may have never done so on film before.  Some sound great, some sound appropriate, some sound weird. Many of the actors only had a few other credits and there’s no way to know their true accents, so I’ll try not to assume too much.  Let’s take a tour through the characters of No Orchids for Miss Blandish.

Bad guys

  • Slim Grissom [Jack La Rue]
    The one American movie star in the cast, La Rue lives up to his reputation as the poor man’s George Raft.  It was a nice surprise that in some of the more happy romantic scenes he actually smiles.  Slim’s motivations are unclear and he’s a good example of the leader who leads by fear and doesn’t really come up with the plans.
  • Ma Grissom [Lilli Molnar]
    I’m guessing Lilli Molnar was Hungarian, based on the name.  And she sounds Hungarian, too.  Oddly enough this might be the most accurate New York accent in the movie because she sounds like any number of stereotypical Jewish mothers.  I guess “Grissom” is her married name, so maybe it was established in the book that Ma Grissom is Hungarian herself, but she certainly sounds weird.
  • Doc [MacDonald Parke]
    I cannot tell what role Doc plays in the Grissom crime family.  Ma Grissom’s husband seems to be out of the picture, and she and Doc are both sixtyish, so presumably he’s with her.  Canadian-born MacDonald Parke also played the American general in The Mouse That Roared.  Here he is the absolute embodiment of the word “pompous”, both in speech and in appearance, and I honestly have never seen a character like Doc in a gangster movie before.  He is both erudite and orotund, as well as rotund.  His accent is great to listen to, halfway between W.C. Fields and Harry Lime.  He has exchanges like this:
    Doc: And you, Edward my boy.  Does this rosy prospect, this rich and heartening future, displease you?
    Eddie: I never count my chickens till I’ve wrung their necks.
    Doc: Then we are reproved.
  • Eddie Schultz [Walter Crisham]
    Extremely thin professional dancer Walter Crisham has great posture and great charisma here.  His entirely malevolent but calculating character steals every scene like Richard Widmark in Pickup on South Streetor John Turturro in Miller’s Crossing.  Of all the obscure actors with big roles in this movie, it’s him whose lack of film credits surprised me the most.  Will have to look out for other Crisham films — John Huston’s Moulin Rouge, the intriguing Joe Macbeth, the non-Ealing Alec Guinness comedy The Captain’s Paradise [1953], and The Beachcomber[1954], a Maugham adaptation that also has Donald Sinden, Glynis Johns and in his first movie, Donald Pleasance as a coolie.

    Walter Crisham as Eddie Schultz

    Crisham does an exaggerated flat, Midwestern gangster accent, with kind of a grinding sound to it.  He was born and died in America so I don’t think he had any trouble with it.  They give him a lot of lines like “Anchor your stern, you,” and the R’s all sound American.

  • Bailey [Leslie Bradley]
    This actor is very intense, he does a whiny voice with emphasis on the R’s, and his accent changes based on who he’s talking to.  He’s actually very convincing in the role, since it’s sort of a Fredo Corleone character.  As this OTHER Slant assessment suggests, Clint Howard would be good in this role.
  • Riley [Richard Neilson]
    Now HE is interesting.  This guy is a caricature of James Cagney in hair, in clothing [bow tie], in mannerisms, and especially in his voice.  He takes the nasal and gritty voice also used by Bailey and Eddie Schultz and goes extreme with it, turning every word into a sneer and every vowel into a short “eh”.  As in “A wise guy, eh?”  He also smashes Ted over the head with a large glass object for no reason at all.  There isn’t even anyone watching!
  • Flyn [Danny Green]
    You might recognize Danny Green as the big dumb guy from The Ladykillers.  Befitting a man whose other movie roles include “Steddings’s Henchman”, “Socks, American Henchman”, “Barton, Moriarty’s Henchman”, “Nightclub Bouncer”, “Gangster”, “Smuggler”, “Safecracker”, “Truck driver”, “Lorry Driver”, and “Big Mo”, he here plays an American gangster henchman, alternating between eager, wary, and dumb.  He sounds cartoonish but plenty of American actors sound cartoonish in the same way.

Good guys

  • Miss Blandish [Linden Travers]
    The biggest English star here [The Stars Look DownThe Lady Vanishes], she just sounds English.  Or mid-Atlantic, I guess.  Extremely posh mid-Atlantic.  Like Margaret Dumont in the Marx Brothers, you know.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Blandish [Percy Marmont and ???]
    Mrs. Blandish does the Margaret Dumont accent and looks and sounds the part.  Mr. Blandish combines the posh English accent with Kentucky-colonel touches.  They’re living in Manhattan but he’s supposed to be “the meat king”, so I guess he could be a self-made man from somewhere else in America.
  • Dave Fenner[Hugh McDermott]

    Hugh McDermott

    Probably the most well-known [at the time] British actor here, McDermott plays a real clean-cut middle-American newscaster type who is either a reporter or a private eye.  He’s prominent in the extended early bar scene, then he disappears for about forty minutes, and then he becomes the protagonist after Mr. Blandish is informed that the ransom situation has become a romanceom situation.  I laughed when looking at a synopsis of the novel, in which his character is treated exactly the same way.  In scenes where he’s being friendly and casual [though underhanded], McDermott definitely works as the guy we’re identifying with.  He melodiously overenunciates a few words, but not any more than Thomas Lennon does.  But later on, he starts throwing his weight around, and suddenly his accent is terrible, like one of Joe E. Brown’s hick characters or Goofy.

  • Police Captain Brennan [Jack Lester]
    I refuse to believe that this is the Jack Lester who was a Chicago radio actor at the time, despite what IMDB claims.  I singled his accent out as the worst of anyone who’s onscreen for more than a couple minutes.  Like Andy Brassell, when he tries to sound American he actually sounds Dutch.  Every sibilant sounds too much like a “sh”, and his pronunciation of “jewelry” is just weird.  And would any American actor be comfortable saying “Good morning” to signal that he’s done talking to someone?
  • The other policeman, with the small moustache
    He has a very good Bogart-type gravelly voice.  The one slip-up is that he pronounces “fiancé” way too accurately.
  • The old guy who runs the gas station
    Pretty good Yankee storekeeper accent.
  • His granddaughter
    She sounds about as American as the kids in Mary Poppins, but what do we expect, she’s 7 or 8.  Why is she here at all?

Minor characters caught up in crime

  • Margo [Zoë Gail]
    The nightclub singer linked above, she sounds very good in the role and I’m surprised this was her only major movie role.  She does a good Midatlantic accent [albeit with a surprising amount of slang] and sounds like Judy Garland when she’s singing.
  • Anna [Frances Marsden]
    A dancer at the nightclub (though we don’t see her perform), she’s the tough working-class Brooklyn girl with a heart of gold.  Given lines like “Get a move on, wise guy” and “I’m a dansah, see?  I got a careeah!”, she’s very convincing.  She must be 80 by now, but I honestly think Frances Marsden, teacher of the Alexander Method to improve poise, posture, breathing and health for the performing arts, is the girl who appeared in this movie and 2 others.
  • Louis [Charles Goldner].
    Born in Vienna, Charles Goldner’s other characters between 1945 and 1953 include Robespierre, Dr. Franz Mesmer, “Colleoni”, “Luigi“, “Ramon”, “Piero”, “Anselmo”, “Paco Espinal”, “General Korsakov”, “Mr. Tsaldouris”, and “Gaston”.  As Louis the French headwaiter, he bulges his eyes, scurries around, sighs watching dancers, and gets top-blowingly agitated when people don’t like his food.  Just think “Manuel” but fluent in English.
  • Ted [Sid James]
    As an American, I’d never heard of Sid James [real name Solomon Joel Cohen], but after this film he starred in several British TV shows and the wildly popular “Carry On” series of movies.  His accent is good here as the friendly bartender.  Known in future decades as a lascivious old man, here he’s a serious youngish man, and having not yet gone gray or bald he kind of looks like Chester Gould’s Flat Top.
  • Johnny [Bill O’Connor]
    Johnny is the young hoodlum who comes up with the whole kidnapping idea.  He sounds American enough, but very upper-class American.  He looks like a college boy, too.
  • Cutie [Annette D. Simmonds]
    Cutie (the nightclub hostess, wearing an absolutely ridiculous outfit — like a cigarette girl but with no responsibilities at all except to be objectified) just sounds English, like your typical Cockney servant-maid girl.  This is also true of Irene Prador as Johnny’s girlfriend, which is odd since she’s from Vienna and mostly played Germanic characters.
  • The guy sweeping the floor when Johnny tries to meet with Slim
    He sounds like nothing I’ve ever heard before.  Australian?  South African?  His only scene is very early in the film and it prepares you for an even more motley onslaught of accents than what comes to pass.

Nobody here uses the Texan-tourist accent we remember from Fawlty Towers or Absolutely Fabulous.  Almost everyone gets a chance to shout or otherwise emphasize their accent, so you can really  analyze their phonemic data if that’s your bag.  Enjoy the nightclub scenes, the isolated barn scenes, the people getting slapped in the face, Lilli Molnar using the word “palookas”, the guy hanging on to a woman’s windowsill while she smashes a wine bottle over his hands, the guy who responds to a woman pounding on his chest by picking her up and dropping her in a full bathtub, and the overall strangeness of the orchids motif.

London 2012 Parade of Nations: A frantic fashion review


This is what I wrote during last night’s Parade of Nations. Colombia and possibly some other countries were ignored by the US TV coverage. I paused occasionally but couldn’t pause for long because the DVR only saves 30 minutes of HD programming. I don’t know the names of things and didn’t have time to look them up.

Pictures of some of the most interesting outfits are attached at the end.

* * *

Greece: vivacious, relaxed striped shirts, open collar, blazers

Afghanistan: sharp suits, shiny blue ties with crowns

Albania: Ugly red jackets, white open-collar shirts

Algeria: crisp track suits, white top, green pants

American Samoa: Garb from a Bugs Bunny cartoon, tropical shirts, all brown, fang necklaces

Andorra: red polo shirts, black … hoodies? Surprisingly slovenly

Angola: gingham dirndls

Antigua and Barbuda: Very sharp black suits, yellow shirts, some have ties some don’t

Argentina: ugly blue tracksuits with circa-1990 Umbro pattern

Armenia: look like they’re going to perform a Jewish wedding ceremony or something. Shawls? Linen pants?

Aruba: Lou Bega

Australia: hunter green blazers. Women have nice silk neckerchiefs.

Austria: ugly four-button blazer/jackets. ugly patches. face paint another negative

Azerbaijan: Stewardesses

Bahamas: I don’t like the light blue-white combination but it’s their flag colors. More scruffy blazers. Mostly-female team – runners?

Bahrain – everyone’s red/yellow robe looks different. too busy

Bangladesh: Love these ones. Grey blazers, charcoal pants, green ties. Only one woman? Red dress and grey blazer, a bit odd

Barbados: same shirts as Antigua, same blazers as Azerbaijan, Dockers

Belarus, extreme flag-color fixation with red shirt, green tie, but then entirely covered by white suit and pimp hat

In 2011 Denisse van Lamoen was voted “Chile’s Athlete of the Year” after winning at the 2011 World Archery Championships.

Belgium: Women have red blazers, men have red vests and black suits, look very wealthy, great.

Belize: Carnival barkers. Women in … bonnets? Ribbon looks like ribbon candy

Benin: opposite color scheme to Bahamas. Light blue good color for headwraps

Bermuda: red shorts? high black socks? Stewardesses x10

Bhutan: Giant cuffs, multiple silk outfits, not sure what to think

Bolivia: subtle shirt stripes, yellow ties not tied tight enough, Dockers, blah

Bosnia: Navy suits. Random businessmen. Flag waver is a doof

Botswana: I like the Montsho white suit. Men more sharp businessmen. Black suits, blue tie, flag colors good

Brazil: Those scarfs look stupid. Is that Mourinho? Some with green skirts, some yellow

B.V.I. tan suits. I like the green scarfs.

Brunei: Nice hijab and grey ensemble. Men look generic.

Bulgaria: No flag colors at all. Ecru blazers, berets. Can’t tell if solid color or stripes. Cabanawear

Burkina faso: A little on the nose. Red/yellow/green AND too baggy. Sneakers? Nice straw hats

Burundi: Went ALL OUT with robes. And walking sticks. Fabulous

Cambodia: Tan blazers, navy pants? You’re backwards.

Cameroon: Beuatiful embroiderd Robes that make everyone look 250 pounds. Beautiful and complicated hats

Canada: CANADA windbreakers. White shirt, red tie. Pants too thin. Sikh guy

Cape Verde: Windbreakers, seemingly no uniform under windbreakers. Blah Nice flag

Caymans: nice straw hats. green tie. more carnival blazers with huge lapels. green cuffs very nice touch

C.A.R.: ties with woolen jackets? Weird.

Chad: Same shirts and ties as C.A.R., with actual jackets this time. Still not great

Chile: red and blue striped ties? nothing special. Why don’t they all wear the archery lady’s hat?

China: white Dockers, red blazers, gold trim a nice touch

Comors: Those hats are weird. I like the baggy pants because they match the shirt

Congo: Average businesspeople. Nice blue/blue/white ties I guess

Cook Islands: Wow Hawaiian stereotype galore, green color scheme

Costa Rica: hat, jackets, pants three different shades of beige. Interesting look

Cote d’Ivoire: These robes are promising. Didn’t see details.

Croatia: Wow lots of people! Way too relaxed, tracksuits, I see midriff

Cuba: Love the ties. Shirts oddly small collar. Yellow blazers not so nice, look like NFL commentators

Cyprus: By far the nicest windbreakers so far. Is orange a Cyprus color?

Czech: Blazers and shorts? Women look like they’re going from work to Zumba class. What are those, umbrellas? Galoshes? Covered with sparkles? WTF

DPRK: Look like poor but studious boarding-schoolers. ties and scarves askew

Dr. Congo: Yellow polo shirts. First polo shirts of the day.

Denmark: Women wearing 1940s-era blouses? Women look great. Men need to tuck in shirts, blazers too shiny,Dockers too baggy

Djibouti – I love the flag bearer. What is this other women have over her eyes?

Dominica: Men with matching ties and vests, TARTAN. Woman has green poncho reminischent of parrot on flag. GREAT

Dom. Republic : Ribbon on cowboy hat exactly lik eBelize. Men in guayaberas with strange stripes.

Ecuador: Tracksuits, saggy but nice colors, yellow yellow, but look bad next to people in suits

Egypt: Love the grey shirts with same-color-grey-but-black-striped ties. Nice grey hijab. Red scarfs getting too common

El Salvador: Wow. Gradients from white to navy. Certainly ambiious but … They look a bit embarrassed. Who’s the fat guy?

Equatorial Guinea: generic dark suits, red ties

Eritrea: gray suits, nice I guess. Look like something Larry Sanders would wear

Estonia: those shirts are shiny. How is the name attached? ARE those shirts?

Ethiopia: white. no time

Fiji: look like senior citizens, blue bocce ball wear

Finland: Umbro-pattern greyscale shirts – sweatsuit tops? white bottoms. Sneakers, not good

FYROMacedonia, very lightweight garb but long sleeved. Red pants snappy

France: I guess the ties are the shade of blue on the flag but I was surprised somehow. Not interesting. Designed for looking OK in groups?

Gabon – grene scarves look familiar. white cowboy hats nice ribbons

“The wily Bongo”

Gambia: Robes look like rain slickers. Great cuffs / collar

Georgia: Look like Canada but chic. Lot of old guys

Germany: This is a huge mess. Pastels? Same hats as Gabon? Bright blue? PINK? Scarves, blah blah

Ghana – Understated black things with ridiculous gold-lettered scarves ostentatious

Grenada – Good outfits – yellow-green shirts, dark green suits, ties striped, rhythm

Guam – not quite as stereotyped as other Pacific islands

Guatemala – I just don’t like this light blue color. espeically for blazers

Guinea: robes look like somthing someone would actually wear, nice mixed greys

Guinea-Bissau: Like Eq. Guinea but … women are wearing dark gray suits like men, only difference is white pants? Odd decision

Guyana: Red shirts, yellow suits. Yellow is the right shade but This is a bit much. Women inverted.

Haiti: Tracksuits.

Honduras – look sharp, navy jackets and lighter pants. Nothing between HA and HO?

Hong Kong: very pale tan blazers and blue pants. Again, this is backwards. nice straw hats

Hungary: Women unflattering red dresses. Men unflattering rodeo waiter outfits.

Iceland: Flagbearer looks like model. Oh, so does she. So do all the men. monotone blue windbreakers, good I guess. Crisp. team of androids from PROMETHEUS

India: Yellow turbans look like radish sculptures. Nothing else is clear

Indonesia: Nehru jackets are red. Women wearing three layers of leg covering? Like the black fezzers

Iran striped shirts, open collars, grey suits, Ahmadinjad look but striped

Iraq: tracksuits. Surprising! In national colors but look like the’re from Foot Locker

Ireland: that shade of green is always good but the zippered jackets are not.

Israel: What is that guy’s hair – nice shade of blue. More cabanawear. Pants PURE WHITE

Italy: These women’s scarves are the nicest? blue and white stripes. Men TINY ties. Understated

Jamaica – Yellow is too bright. Green is not good for tight pants. Uncordinated. Is that terrycloth? Wow, only team with apantyhose

Japan: same as China? Without the gold trim. I like the big collar points on the women

Jordan: women lovely flowers and/or stripes on robes. No men?

Kazakhstan: They look bizarre. Baseball caps? Blonde women? Jackets like Mubarak with name KAZAKHSTAN repeated. Scarves look actually warm

Kenya – Long red shirts, love the black buttons

Kiribati – outfit is flag. Nice wreaths. VERY nice wreaths.

South korea – whtite fedoras. lanyards obscure details. more white pants, sailor jackets

Kuwait: some in full dishdasha, some in jeans: Do not understand

Kyrgyzstan: Main guy’s hat even worse than Kazakh hat. I want to see fur hats not these polygons

Laos: Most generic-businessmen yet. Few even wearing techy glasses.

Latvia: Can’t go wrong with those colors. Well you can, but they used cream instead of pure white.

Levanon: Red is too orangey. Men and women have NOTHINg in common.

Lesotho: More gradient, this time not all the way to navy. gThey mock the Chinese with their conical hats

Liberia: Hideous

Libya: One guy in a nice suit.

Liechtenstein: are those jeans? Idle rich, blech

Lithuania – birght shirts, big collars, white jackets. Doesn’t quite work. Kevin Kline looks proud to be there.

Luxembourg: more idle rich.

Madagascar: Mulberry colord pants. Sleeves longuitudinal stripes. Straw Hats biggest brims yet. chaos but good

Malawi – like the combo of red and VERY DARK BLUE-GREEN and black suits

Malaysia – Oh god. Tiger-striped hammer pants? Red and white sneakers? Tiger-striped papal miters?

Mali – nice uniform white robe look. Keita great earrings

Malta – open shirts boring

Marshall islands – those wreaths and weird shawls all look like they were bought at Marshall’s

Mauritania – rival Mali in nice robes, this time blue.

Mauritius – those shirts should NOT be tucked in but they are. They should ALL have the four-color scarfs

Mexico – these outfits were all designed by Jorge Campos and made by Oaxacan woodcarvers. Everyone is different MY EYES

Micronesia – tropical shirts but don’t look stupid.

Moldova – exactly my low expectations. Grey shirts look too tight for men, men in dressup clothes and WOMEN ONLY in tracksuits?  How does that make sense

Monaco – Classy rich, not idle, up thwere with Gelbium

Mongolia – only sawflagbearer. He’s a time traveler

Montenegro – HOW ARE THIS MANY? Montegro like 400,000 people, 4,000 are Olympianms. Handball and water polo teams? Look like suede suits. Many buttoned only top button of 3 and look sleepy.

Mozambique – I like these shirts – burgundy. Black pants. Tan jackets. Nice actually.

Myanmar – nice grey suits.

Namibia – nice loose brown outfits. First to be BROWN rather than tan or beige

Nauru –  All I see is 1 big sumo guy

Nepal – women in fake-looking dresses. Men in cool black hats.

Netherlands – Michael Phelps carries the flag. Again these people have too many outfits. Orange is limited but still too much.

New Zealand – those shirts are fabulous. Black with small patterns AND fern thing

Nicaragua:  standard blue suits

Niger: white robes not as big as mali’s, like the orange hats and the green things

Nigeria: These robes are too big. The hats are too big. Like the Celtic knot

Norway: Idle rich. “N” logo looks like baseball team from the 40s

Oman – I LOVE these guys’ headwraps. They look worn! Except the idiot in the baseball cap

Pakistan – second people in vests without jackets. Vests oddly cut straight across the bottom

Still not the most flamboyant Rodman

Palau – these look like corduroys. Flag bearer is wearing Patrick Henry-style wig.

Palestine – nice scarf. Silvery. Peace signs

Papua New Guinea – ED HARDY

Paraguay – more straw hats with ribbons. More white pants. Woman in stewardess red dres

Peru – too baggy

Philippines – Nice shirt pleats

Poland – white blazers and white shirts, women have short blazers, skirts are great. Stirped shirts stereotype red-white obsession

Portugal – SOCCER SCARVES. Light blue shirts, white collars, navy jackets, dockers .. but GREEN BERETS tres schic

Puerto Rico – Lou Bega. Tourist insignia on fedoras

Qatar – dishdashas – women all in black  – oh, that woman is in a Qatar-colored tracksuits

Romania – mustard-yellow balzer? White shirt and white scarf? Something’s missing

Russia – straw hats? Of all the countries to have straw hats. Men have great scarves. Sharapova seems to be the only woman, oh there’s some more. Look like real clothes, except the silly hats

Rwanda – White Shirt buttoned up but no tie or jacket. ASCETIC

St. Lucia – black sneakers?

St. Vincent and Grenadines – same ugly green pants as Jamaica. Tops are unique and go well with flag .

Samoa – flowers in hair.

San Marino – Rich rich rich Blueblue blue

Sao Tome and Principe – Men like Rwarnda, women in nice muumuus

Saudi Arabia – as you’d expect

Senegal – Love the yellow robes. Men’s are loose, women’s are tight. Hmmmm. Woman is waving like The Queen

Serbia – jackets with rounded lapels on women, look bad. Men in sweaters? Or is that just Djovokic. All red and white. Men much better than women

Seychelles – nice cream colors and striped ties

Sierra Leone – not robes! Flowing white crinkly shirts, nice green yokes.

Singapore – terrible except the pastel scarves

Slovakia – Hats of scenesters. Women have striped tracsuit tops, men have non-striped tracksuit tops. Terrible

Slovenia – men in grey suits over blue zip-ups? Women same but green zip-ups? Better than it sounds. no wasted fabric

Satanic Manic Panic in the Pacific Tropics

Solomon Islands – they look embarrassed by those getups. What’s that guy done to his beard?

Somalia – Sky blue looks good for hijabs. Men’s scarves with stars look chintzy.

South Africa – Colors all over the place. Would look good on one person, not a crowd.

Spain – Gasol looks like MCConaughey in that hat. Scarves look great. Women too much yellow, men not enough but great paisley? ties

Sri Lanka – great outfits, stripes on one side but not the other. Muted colors but many colors

Sudan – robes too big. Women in giant napkins, sorry to say it

Suriname – maybe best tracksuits yet. Mostly green. Nice flag crets too

Swaziland – Nothing to say here, suit and tie

Sweden – Back to 1978 for these. Kristy McNichol and Charlene Tilton

Switzerland – red sweatervests, grey suits, men and women are the same but men’s is pullover and women’s is zipper? looks sharp

Syria – Ties too shiny. Ties too big. Suits too polyester. I see a wealthy fatcat

Taiwan – Striped jackets are hard on the eyes en masse, but also look bad with the non-striped pants. Lack of effort, D-minus

Tajikistan – That woman is in a nice silk pattern – Men in crazy blue-green shiny blazers. I just saw that guy for Syria, now he’s Tajik

Tanzania – women have nice flag-based scarves. Men look like elderly businessmen

Thailand – understated and attractive suits. Women in same suits as men but without ties.

Timor-leste – again nice flag scarves. Not much else.

Togo – Those shirts are too much clashing. Baseball cap never good either. THEY ALL HAVE BASEBALL CAPS. White guy in neck brace, what:

Tonga- – Plaid-ish ties are good. Everyone has a DIFFERENT grass-skirt thing. Ties are very good.

Trinidad / Tobago – nice combo of red and black. Women have what look like sashes but are part of the dress, great idea. Men should have ties but don’t, just black shirts

Tunisia – no ties. All unbuttoned in exact Same way. Hijab looks elastic, not great

Turkey – Nice shade of beige, same shade for both jacket and tie – circular badge slapped on  lazily

Turkmenistan – WOW. Velvet jackets. Satin? I forget which is which. Great hats but just for women!8-pointed stars! Blue! Green!

Tuvalu – face paint. Dumb tracksuits. Unique color scheme, blue and orange but not bright.

Uganda – men have off-white shirt things with great collars. Women have matronly robes.

Ukraine – Finally, A Furry Hat! only on flag bearer. Everyone else, barf

UAE – I see no theme here at all. Negative points and more negative points for baseball cap

USA – Nice flag scarves. Berets look good. All have badge right at front of hat, kind of unnerving. Look like prep school ties. Rounded collar points, brass buttons. Nice white skirts

Uruguay – light blue is nice. Hey where are they? USA again, USA USA

Uzbekistan – brown! All wearing same brown outfit. Businessmen

Vanuatu – red, yellow, green, black, blurry

Venezuela – all white. Never good.

Vietnam – cream jackets, dark tan pants. Snappy.

Virgin Islands – US ones? Most rustic straw hats yet. Nice blue summer shirts.

Yemen – that guy looks really wealthy. Jackets too shiny for black jackets.

Zambia – hunter green jackets, light green ties. I guess I always like that.

Zimbabwe – prep school outfits,

Team GB – crinkly gold trim on white outfits? Look like Sgt. Pepper’s Abba band. Pretty ostentatious. Who are those girls in the peasant petticoats? Anticlimax for real

* * *

There are not many photos out there of the costumes. I couldn’t find Madagascar or Malawi or Niger, some of the best African ones.

Anyway, some of the good:






Trinidad and Tobago

Costa Rica

* * *

the bad:




Czech Republic




* * *

and the weird:


El Salvador



Cook Islands


* * *

Your thoughts?

Older Entries Newer Entries