Whilst I didn’t end up taking any photos, what I can say is that I had one of the best weekends away I’ve ever had. The rugby team are a great group of people, and the camaraderie is amazing. It was great to get away from schoolwork for a few days and have some fun playing rugby and eating copious amounts of BBQ in the small town of Danville, Virginia.
The championship itself went reasonably well for us, although we felt that we could have done better. We won three and lost three, and narrowly missed out on the “Mug” trophy, losing the mug final to Canada's Ivey Business School in a close game. One of those three lost games was also to the eventual cup winners, so there’s some dignity to be gained from it. It’s given us a focus for next year, a resolve to come back in 2015 and be dominant. We know we are capable of it.
Ironically, I didn’t have any game time for SMU; on the first day of the tournament I wasn’t needed, and on the second day the combination of a persistent ankle injury and a sore quadricep ruled me off the field. I ended up playing three games on the first day for Harvard Business School’s 2nd XV, who needed extra players (this is common at a lot of tournaments, and part of the rugby culture). I can’t say I was much help, but it was an honour to play for them.
It was tough getting back into the swing of things when we returned, after that experience school seems… well, dull. But the memories will be there, along with the tan lines on the back of my legs between where the shorts ended and the socks began. Note to self… next year, take sunscreen.
On a short note, back in Texas I got to visit the exhibition of paintings by George W. Bush this week. It’s been a controversial exhibition, with critics and pundits commenting on the perceived vanity of it all, and poking fun at his painting technique.
In reality, the exhibition is largely a vehicle for displaying some of the gifts that Bush received from foreign leaders while he was in office. They’re complemented by paintings that Bush has made of each of those leaders. In that sense the paintings are a means to draw in more visitors.
From an artistic standpoint I won’t lie, on the whole you can tell that Bush has still some way to go as an artist, with many of the paintings being uneven in colour and shape, and lacking dimensionality. However, he does have a knack for capturing the underlying character of a leader – his portrait of John Howard, for example, perfectly captures the wry smugness of the former Australian prime minister. His portrait of Berlusconi has a glimmer of grotesqueness that resonates with the revelations of his (not so) private life.
And there’s potential there too. His portrait of Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is quite competent, and his self portrait is probably the best work on display, showing an evenness of technique and even a distinct style forming. He’s no Churchill as far as former world leader-painters go, but give him time.
As a bonus, the exhibition has a continuously looping video of some of Bush’s meetings with other world leaders. The video has a sequence of Junichiro Koizumi singing Elvis Presley. That alone is worth the price of admission.
Wrapping this up, we are already in the final stretch for the semester. This weekend has been spent completing two final take-home exams, a final project, and a major paper for one of the courses (which will take up the rest of today). Next weekend will be spent studying for exam week. But after that, there’ll be a little respite, and then a trip to South America.
To finish, happy Easter! Surprisingly, Easter in the USA is not nearly as commercialised as it is in Australia, which is an unexpected but pleasant culture shock. Who'd have guessed?