Friday, February 19, 2010

Good guys finish first; finding the Buddha

Stayed up past my bed time again last night to watch Evan Lysacek skate flawlessly to Olympic gold, proving that at least sometimes the good guy does finish first. It wasn’t luck --- as commentators pointed out many times, Lysacek had probably worked the hardest of all the competitors to perfect his technique and routine.

It became a slightly guilty pleasure to watch Russian Yevgeny Plushenko lose. Ordinarily you’d want to feel a little compassion for the old man (age 27, I believe, as compared to Lysacek’s 24), but he behaved so badly that his humiliation became a positive joy to behold.

It was obvious even to an uneducated observer like me that Plushenko had neglected the details of his routine, resulting in sloppiness, and was remarkably overconfident. Pride goeth before, ya know. And after the event, all he had to say were snarky things about Lysacek in particular and about all male skaters unwilling to undertake his almighty quad in general.

Lysacek came across as joyful and as humble as the top male skater in the world at the moment could possibly be expected to be --- acknowledging his family and friends and fans, but especially his coaches. I hope he’s as classy an act as he seems to be.

It’s interesting to watch the Olympic “losers” become winners by letting loose of their frustrations and disappointments when things don’t work and being happy for the medalists. That’s a big part of the real Olympic spirit. Too bad Plushenko turned out to be the sore-loser exception.


At the other end of the sports spectrum today we had the spectacle of Tiger Woods apologizing for his sexual escapades during a public appearance down in Florida. I tried not to watch, but was dragged there anyway while awaiting a weather report during the noon news.

You’ve got to give the guy some credit for the course he’s taken since his enthusiastic sexual exploits became public, withdrawing for therapy and thought. He was operating in an area where it seems likely a majority of his fans, males at least, were as envious as outraged or just didn't care, so he easily could have ploughed ahead, taken his lumps on the family front, kept competing and it would all have blown over eventually. But he didn’t.

Most sinners on the celebrity circuit find Jesus, but Tiger has found the Buddha (not that surprising; his mother is Thai) and I thought that especially refreshing.


Marilyn invited me to run down to the Pioneer Trails Museum at Corydon with her Thursday to do some consulting about issues at the museum in Chariton --- and also to do a little snooping, since most major museum projects are undertaken during the winter off-season when few guests are present and it’s interesting to see what others are up to. We found Brenda, the director, and Bill, a board member and friend, painting walls in what will become a tribute to the Wayne Theater, still operating up on the square.

When all is said and done, old seats from the uptown theater will have been installed, vintage projection equipment installed as a display piece only, the huge popcorn machine tucked away in its own corner, a color scheme matching the Wayne’s pastel hues added and Pioneer Trails will have a small functioning theater where films can be shown (using modern equipment) and small meetings held.

This is taking place in the museum’s vast northwest gallery, virtually emptied several years ago when ag-related displays and equipment were moved to a newly-constructed barn next door. Since then, it’s been worth regular visits just to see the succession of excellent displays as they are installed.

My favorite is the fire station in the northwest corner of the gallery, which incorporates a full-size photo-on-vinyl replica of the WPA mural installed when the Corydon post office was built. It’s in the fire station display because the mural depicts Corydon volunteer firefighters battling a house fire using the vintage fire engine that now sits in front of the reproduced mural in the museum. The mural itself is a lovely piece of work in a 1930s Grant-Woodish style featuring the facades of several well-known Corydon homes as well as a lively assortment of firefighters and onlookers.

This gallery also has become a venue for public events that draws rave reviews, including last fall’s Wayne County Hospital rededication gala and the more recent Christmas tree and gingerbread house contest and display.

So it was a worthwhile visit on two fronts --- a useful visit with Brenda and a hands-on update of what will be new next season at the museum. Pioneer Trails, as I’ve probably written before, is THE class act among Iowa’s rural historical society museums.


Our three-day allotment of sunshine has expired and it’s snowing heavily. I’ve filled the bird feeders, sworn at the squirrel that tipped one of them, dusted off the snow shovel and here we go again.

1 comment:

Ken said...

My first paying job was a summer spent working at the Pioneer Trails Museum (then known simply as the Wayne County Historical Museum). That was in 1974 (had to miss most of the House Watergate hearings because of it!). In any event, I thought the Museum was pretty cool then, so I'm glad to see your appraisal of it.