I am Jack's smirking revenge

  • Sunday, November 25, 2007
  • Payton Bartee
  • If my life ever felt like "The Twilight Zone," it's after I pull off a marathon journey either to or from home/college. I may not be hearing the exact theme music to the popular show, but there's a distinct ringing in my head that is definitely making me a bit delirious. This is a euphoric feeling--I'm completely physically and mentally exhausted, even though all I did was stay up all night sitting in a car, yet it takes such a toll on your body. I feel awful from fast food, from the time zone and geography change, and of course, CLASS in roughly twelve hours. In a lot of ways, it reminds me of The Narrator from Fight Club. Ed Norton portrays the insomniac as a desperate person void of a normal existence. But there's a chaotic glory in the way this sleepy social parasite floats through his life. I'd imagine what I feel after a long trip is what The Narrator feels like 24/7...well, before Fight Club anyway.

    At the same time, I LOVE this euphoric feeling of accomplishment. Remember in elementary school when you'd get ribbons at the science fair, or be awarded a team sports medallion or trophy? That feeling of pure excitement, even though what you had "accomplished" might not have even been as significant as you thought. It didn't matter, because it only had to mean something to you. I love driving long distances. And while I can sometimes be pretty stubborn or unsafe in how I do it, it always leaves me satisfied to come away from a trip without incident and ticket-less. Oh, and I always make good time. I am Payton's unconscious smile.
  • Monday, November 19, 2007
  • Payton Bartee
  • Dexter

    BEST show on TV.

    Coca-Cola product placement

  • Saturday, November 17, 2007
  • Payton Bartee
  • Coming to you live from Dallas, Texas! I'm leaving to drive home in a little bit, but it's been a good weekend. Aside from my favorite hockey team getting killed by the local one (and the ensuing walk of shame that followed), there's not much to complain about. One of my favorite movies to watch in nearly any mood if American Beauty. So many themes inside, so many lessons to take away. Kevin Spacey's performance as Lester Burnham is in my mind, one of the best performances of the last 25 years.

    One of my favorite lines in a very quotable movie is Lester declaring, "It's a great thing when you realize you still have the ability to surprise yourself." That line had always stuck out to me, but never been specifically relevant to anything in my life...until now. This weekend hockey trip to Dallas was an oasis, a therapeutic pilgrimage to escape the meandering life of an Arkansas college student. But I got a lot more out of it. I got a big surprise.

    I would by no means consider myself 'old' or 'mature.' I do like to throw those words around because I'm in my 20s, however. But with the experience of life comes situations in which you think you have a bead on things. You're pretty sure you've got it all figured out. And then you end up surprising yourself. Maybe the surprise comes because you're different, or because they're different...but when you realize it it's a giant elephant in the room, a not-so-negative scarlet letter. The peace that comes from finally having a real resolution/wisdom about a situation or a someone is only comparable to the feeling of drinking an ice-cold Coke on a blazing hot day. You may not even like Coke, but if you're out in the heat, the wave of refreshment you get from the beverage is heaven on earth. I may be 22, but if the past 36 hours are any indication, I've got so many more surprises ahead of me.

    Better go grab a Coke...

    Rock Chalk Jayhawk

  • Wednesday, November 14, 2007
  • Payton Bartee
  • So...I pretty much wrote a ton in my inaugural post. I doubt that's a sign of things to come, but it did surprise me. Movies, sports, and busywork essays are possibly the only subject matters that I can vent endlessly on. And since I don't have any more busywork essays for this semester, that only leaves two topics...again, you've been warned.

    There are many things I wanted to address on here today, but I'm going to pace myself for the inevitable boredom that will ensue over Thanksgiving break. Despite homework, family,
    tryptophan, and football, it always ends up happening. Must be a college thing. Anyway--the majority of next week will be a look at various recent sports topics, the highs/lows of returning to school this year, and a summary of the year in film. But for now, I'm going to devote a little time to something extremely dear to my heart; something that has shaped the fabric of my being and hardened me into the grizzled individual you see today:

    In the great tradition of Kansas Jayhawk basketball, I give you a preview and analysis of the 2007 Jayhawks by a diehard college basketball/KU fan. And for those of you scoring at home, yes, this is totally the highlight of my day.

    2006-2007 Season:
    The Jayhawks were a team of youth, fortunate to not lose any/all of their stud freshman trio of Julian Wright, Brandon Rush, and Mario Chalmers to the NBA Draft. With those three anchoring the team, valuable pieces like incumbent PG Russell Robinson provided the veteran edge this team needed. Freshmen spark plugs PF Darrell Arthur and G Sherron Collins came off the bench to ignite the Jayhawks on both ends of the court. Following a slow start to the year, the team gelled mid season, and played the best basketball of any team in the land en route to winning the Big 12 regular season and tournament championships. The team blazed through March Madness before playing their first bad game of basketball against one of the best teams of 2007--the loaded UCLA Bruins. KU lost in the elite to UCLA.

    2007-2008 Season:
    The offseason was somewhat tumultuous for Bill Self and crew, as to-be-juniors F Julian Wright G/F Brandon Rush declared for the 2007 NBA Draft. Despite previously vowing to not leave Lawrence until graduation, Wright was viewed as a lottery pick, and taken No. 13 by Sacramento. I don't blame him for leaving, and I will very much miss Julian Wright, one of the few players in recent years to truly epitomize the basketball definition of "upside." He is an athletic freak, a natural passer, and a weapon on defense. But man, it couldn't have come at a worse time for Kansas.

    Brandon Rush also decided to test the NBA Draft waters, but kept his collegiate eligibility open by not hiring an agent. In a May pre-draft scrimmage, Rush tore his ACL and immediately had surgery. He wisely decided to return to school, and hoped to be back and contributing to the Jayhawks by December. Recent reports have Rush ahead of that schedule, nearing 100%. I just hope he takes his time; we'll need his scoring. In the last week, reserve G Sherron Collins had surgery on a stress fracture in his left foot. Collins was totally unaware of this injury, but he'll be out at least six weeks.

    That means the scoring load will fall primarily on G Mario Chalmers and F Darrell Arthur. PG Russell Robinson can get to the lane with his speed, which certainly adds an element to the team; he is not a threat from outside, however. It will be critical for the team that Arthur establishes himself as an athletic force on the low post. Bill Self will know how to capitalize on this team's quickness and pace, so until Brandon Rush can get back and contribute on the wing, this team won't have much size from the outside. I also see a potentially weak bench (only key G and F reserves are somewhat inexperienced or young) being a problem early on as the team gels, as well as late into the season. The one glaring weakness is the lack of a go-to scoring option. In the past, so many of the players have chipped in, or exploded for 20-point outings (Rush, Chalmers, Arthur, Wright, Collins). With the roster being so uncertain right now, what the Jayhawks need is consistency. Whether that's 15/8 from Arthur, or 18/4 from Rush or Chalmers, certain players have to step up.

    Final Prediction/On the Horizon:
    The Jayhawks begin this years as an extremely talented but unpredictable team (when do they not?). In many ways, being a Jayhawks fan is the ocllege basketball equivalent of being a Chicago Cubs fan. The players and personnel might look great on paper, but the critics will always have the postseason failure card to play. That argument rings true for Kansas this year. I see this team getting fierce Big 12 competition from Texas and Texas A&M (possibly Kansas State as well), but they have the talent to win both conference titles. Barring any early stumbles, a 28-7 type season is what I expect. The talent, however, is still somewhere in the 30-5 range and a Final Four trip. I won't go any bolder than that without knocking on wood. Like Cubbies fans, we're paranoid. I also anticipate Rush and Arthur declaring for the Draft after this year. Their stock was high last year, so I think they'll bolt. Good news for the Lawrence faithful is that Self is an excellent recruiter, and has already locked up a Top 10 recruiting class for next year to potentially replace those losses.

    Random Fact of the Day: The only two days of the year in which there are no professional sports games (NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL) are the day before and the day after the Major League Baseball All-Star game.

    Remember Sammy Jankis...

  • Tuesday, November 13, 2007
  • Payton Bartee
  • For years I've flirted with the idea of maintaining a "serious" blog. This was a time before Facebook (stay calm, reader), when the sounds-like-a-scifi-planet Xanga was the only real challenger to MySpace for supreme domination of online attention. Four years later, my setting hasn't changed, but everything ranging from the Internet to my relationships most certainly have. I never wanted to be that person who kept a blog for the sole purpose of venting feelings. Adversely, I also didn't want to have one and only post random, meaningless stuff 'just because I could.' So, to bridge this gap I'll be doing a lot of both, and probably at the same time. You've been warned.

    If you are unfamiliar with the film around which I'm theming this blog, no sweat. The movie in question is
    Christopher Nolan's Memento, released stateside at Sundance in 2001. Nolan has moved on to greater cinematic fame, directing such blockbusters as Batman Begins, The Prestige, 2008's The Dark Knight. It is his second directorial effort that has been in the upper echelon of my all-time favorite movie list for years. The film revolves around Leonard Shelby, a former insurance claims investigator with anterograde amnesia (short-term memory loss), which he suffered the night his wife was assaulted in their home. Unsympathetic to his mental state of being, Leonard prowls the streets seeking revenge on his wife's real killer. As if this vigilante's disability wasn't enough to interest the viewer, Nolan and his screenwriter brother Jonathan introduce a clever twist into the proceedings--the story is told backwards. Not out of order or jumbled, but in reverse. What your eyes first see is the end of the movie, and from then on this tale of redemption, vengeance, and deceit works its way backwards.

    Memento is many things--impressive, manipulative, ingenious; it all depends on who you're talking to. However. the noir-ish settings and overlying twist only help the viewer connect to Leonard in such a unique way. You have no feelings for this man besides sympathy, no reason to care for him. But his dedication/obsession almost warrant the circumstances he unknowingly walks into.

    Through it all, Leonard Shelby has had a profound effect on me over the years. Memento was one of the first movies I've ever watched that I immediately started again the minute the credits started rolling (after a short bathroom break, of course). The backwards concept is mind-blowing as it weaves in and out of the plot line, enhancing it exponentially over the course of the running length. Memento is also a movie I regularly go back and watch for the spiritual value it offers me, as strange as that sounds. Yep, it earns its R-rating, and the characters certainly do and say many things we'd label "un-Christian." But the shining light of the film is always Leonard. I love the character (as well as the actor), but I also pity him.

    I never want to be a Leonard Shelby in my spiritual life--a man so desperate and narrow-minded that I miss the tremendous positives of the life I lead. Sure, Leonard is avenging his wife, something we'd all assume to be noble. But Leonard's mission and drive changes him into something far from noble. He gets mixed up with the wrong people, regularly acting out the principle of "the end justifies the means," and ignores any chances to get out. And due to his lack of short-term memory, this is no isolated incident. The film never gives the vibe of a tragedy until it's settled into your consciousness over time. I pray I never have that kind of an epiphany about my life. I don't want to be Leonard Shelby.

    I hope that posting on this blog is a consistent thing, unlike my old Xanga. I have a feeling it will be; that banner of Leonard is a snapshot of the last few seconds of the film (or first, chronologically), where Leonard finds himself at a gigantic crossroad. To say any more is to spoil a masterpiece, so see the film. As for me, I made it to remind and focus me daily. Who knew a blog could be so impacting?

    Copyright 2010 occasional contemplations