Saturday, October 2, 2010

Social Demise?


I just saw the movie "The Social Network" last night, which ironically coincided with the following conversation I had with someone the day before. Here's what he had to say:

"I think it’s too bad that there’s so much that’s wrapped up in computers. It falls into the line of what seems to be going on socially where people are so wound up in unseen connections. They’re not face-to-face, and there’s a lot that needs to happen face-to-face to understand each other. It’s hard to tutor when they’re on their cell phones. You wonder what’s getting through. I think it’s a social demise, I don’t think it’s going to help socially. It’s like the difference between knowing you and knowing your phone number. You could ask all the same questions but I’m not going to have the same patience. Socially, we’re not planning a lot of guidance that way, people have two or three or four phones now. There’s a lot you lose. There’s going to be some serious social issues."

Agree? Obviously there are pros and cons to almost anything. I guess the questions are a) which one outweighs the other and b) what you use it for [technology]. The movie illustrated how easy the internet can be used to destroy someone's life. You post a hurtful remark or picture about someone and it circulates an uncontrollable wildfire in seconds. It can also be used to connect someone in a fraction of a second half-way around the world who you may never have been able to talk to otherwise.

So is this guy right in saying that the more we rely on technology, the more we lose in relationships? Or is it just a matter of using it correctly? Is the growing sophistication of online profiles and identities making face-to-face contact less and less important?

I agree with this guy in that there are definitely things missed when you're not face-to-face. Body language, tone, facial expressions. Quirks that are unique to that person are lost. Sarcastic tones can't be identified through text messages. Eye brow raises can't be seen over the phone. There's not substitute for the real thing. But when you can't have that, technology is the next-best thing. Skype, for example, was cited by a military mother as a great resource for getting to talk to her son while in Afghanistan. If she *could* talk to him face-to-face, obviously she would've, but this was her best option. My mom loves that I can show her pictures and tell her the status updates of my brothers in Texas and New York.

So yes, it can obviously be used for good or ill. But when will it get too ill, if ever? (I love that I'm using Facebook to ask this, too. Oh, the irony)

This is what I do after I see movies. By the way, I don't think the point of "The Social Network" was about the danger of technology, or the good of it. It was more about the cost of greatness and if it's worth it...or something like that. A "Citizen Kane" type-thing. But it still prompted this.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Brownie Saga


The modestly-sized Tea Event Hall is filled to the max, chair-to-chair. All eyes are fixed intently on the VIP speaker of the night, speechifying from his podium at the front of the room. Like the rest of the room, I'm focused on the guy, too. So focused that I almost don't notice my pocket is buzzing.

I discreetly glance downward as I pull the phone out just far enough to see it's a call from home. I momentarily consider stepping out to call them back, just in case. Keep in mind, "home" meant the call was either from Jonathan, Sam, Hannah or Tabby. This could be a call from anything from they want us to bring them ice cream when we come home to someone fell down the stairs. I decided, eh, if they only call once, it's probably nothing serious.

Five minutes later...*buuuuzzzzzz.* My friend noticed it, too, and asked if it was home again. When I nodded we both sported some pretty quizzical looks. Nah, I decided. I'll call back when the guy's done speaking.

I got back into focus mode and continued to listen. Five minutes later, I hear a really obnoxious ringtone tune echo throughout the entire room, or so it seemed. I'm thinking, what idiot forgot to put their phone on silent?

Oops...it was Mom's phone! I immediatley leaned across the table and quietly asked Mom if it was a call from home. When she nodded I figured she would probably want to know that they'd already called me twice. We both went into mildly concerned mode and asked Dad to step out and call them back, just in case.

"It's probably Sam asking if he can make popcorn," Dad scoffed. "Please?" Mom asked. "What if something happened?"

Reluctantly, Dad exited the room in the middle of the speech. Yes, there were stares from condescending attendees. But Dad loves us that much.

I wasn't as able to concentrate on the speaker for the next five minutes, with thoughts of what in the world they could be calling about running through my head. Dad finally came back in, with an impossible-to-read expression on his face. He sat down quietly next to Mom and whispered something to her. All I caught was, "You'd probably laugh if I told you."

At least I had a sense of relief now, knowing it was nothing serious. But my curiosity remained unsatisfied. I patiently waited for the speaker to finish his speech (which was a good speech, by the way...not to take anything away from it).
He finished, there was thunderous applause and standing, and the moment finally arrived.

"Dad, what was it?" I asked immediatley. Dad chuckled to himself as he leaned across the table. Moment of truth!

"You're going to laugh," Dad said. "It was Jonthan asking if he could frost the brownies."

Something important to note: Jonathan is 18 years old.
Ok, back to the story: I had made brownies earlier that afternoon, but hadn't had time to frost them before we left for this dinner. Jonathan apparently could not wait until we came home to a) have me frost them or b) ask then or, heaven forbid, c) frost them without asking.

So we all have a good laugh about how ridiculous this was in the first place, let alone coming from an 18 year old. We part ways for the night and drive home as we ponder how big a mess Jonathan may or may not have made of the brownies. Since dessert had not been served at the dinner, we were looking forward to them.
We get back home to find Jonathan sitting at the kitchen counter glued to his computer, surrounded by the younger chillins. We give him a hard time about the stunt he pulled before going straight to the specimen.

"They're in the freezer," Tabby declares. She also gave a fun back story about how Jonathan almost broke the glass container the frosting had been in trying to mix it and almost knocked it off the counter. I asked Jonathan if he was glad he had Tabby to tell us these things. He didn't answer.

The freezer? Why are the brownies in the freezer?

"The frosting was runny," Johnny said. "So I put the brownies in the freezer."
Now, the frosting should not have been runny. I made it myself. All he had to do was mix it up a bit with the beater before putting it on the brownies. Apparently someone stuck it back in the freezer (I'd taken it out to thaw before we left). Also, apparently Jonthan added milk to it. And it must've been quite a generous helping, too, because the frosting was practically liquid! Mom and I laughed out loud when we pulled the pan out of the freezer and got our first look at the pool of frosting on top.

We figured it was at least still edible. So...I begin to cut them. Or, try to, I should say. It was hard as a rock. When we FINALLY, between me and my brother Sam, got the brownies cut (and a sprained wrist), we dug in. The funniest part of the frosting was once the first piece was taken out, the river of runny frosting oozed over the side.

It was a good laugh, though. And at least it still tasted good.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Pizza Toppings


I’m not a very picky person. In fact, there are few things in life that I won’t try at least once.

This holds true for food, too. I’ll give anything one shot. On the flip side, if left to my own devices, I’d probably be able to count the variety of my cuisine on my own two hands. I stick to what I know unless prompted in a different direction, but when that happens, hey, why not?

That being said, pizza is a whole new ballpark. I won’t budge on olives. Olives or pepperoni. Pizza is a tricky area. You can put just about anything on pizza, so when someone asks me what toppings I like, I’ve figured out that I can’t say “almost anything.” Where pizza is concerned, anything could literally mean anything. I will eat most of the normal toppings, however. Of the normal toppings, I will usually say the only one I don’t like is pepperoni.

After lunch today, I expanded my list of pizza don’ts to pepperoni and olives. Granted, I knew going into my pizza (literally) that I did not like olives. I thought I’d be polite, however, and eat it anyway. Besides, I’d never had olives on pizza before. Sometimes I like things I don’t think I will.

A valuable lesson has been learned. Not only that I don’t like olives on pizza, but also that I can be polite and express my opinion. Next time someone asks me if I like olives on pizza, I will politely respond “no thank you.” Sometimes it's just worth the risk of offending someone...politely.

It’s ok to have an opinion. In fact, I’ve found that most people prefer that to going with the flow so much that you almost cease to exist. If you want to push against the flow because it’s your honest opinion, do it! But politely, of course;). I think I may be working on that lesson until the day I die, but I can start with pizza.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Caring for Carson

As I agonizingly rolled over this morning to grab my phone in hopes of discovering three more hours to sleep, I groggily discovered that I only had about five minutes. So, instead of prolonging the inevitable, I turned off the alarm and rolled off the bed.

It's a Saturday morning. WHY am I up at 8:30 a.m.? Well, it's actually pretty special. And pretty heartbreaking at the same time. I have an interview with a family in Canton at 10. The interview is to write and article to raise awareness of a condition their little four-year-old Carson has, CMV. The family is trying to raise money for some special therapy in Wisconsin.

As I get ready this morning, I can't help but think how silly it is that I'm moaning over losing a few hours of sleep. Especially because I know better. I know that I'd give up all the sleep for the rest of my life to have been able to make my little sister "all better." I know this family must be going through the most trying time of their entire lives, probably ever.

I have a picture of the little guy sitting on the passenger seat of my car. "Research." He's the cutest little guy you'd ever see. Sitting in his wheelchair, he's wearing bright reds and blues, but his smile is brighter. The strength and bravery of children never ceases to amaze me.

Life-changing or even life-threatening illnesses are nightmares that a child should never have to deal with. But they do...every day. I don't know if Carson will ever walk or talk normally again. But getting up two hours earlier suddenly doesn't seem like such a terrible thing when this might be the one way I can help these guys. And I'm pretty excited to meet Carson:).

Monday, August 9, 2010

Connect


Of all the elements that first pulled me to literature, the deep complexity of unanswerable questions was never one of them. While it can be fun and even, occasionally, enlightening to ponder the what-ifs of the world, that wasn’t what I was looking for.

Yes, the pondering does happen, even for me, but that’s not why I dive into a book. I’m not hoping for some mind-bending revelation. This could be a flaw, granted, but just in the interest of honesty, it just wasn’t why I’d pick up a book. I just wanted to be sucked in. That’s all I asked. The world had to be real. The characters had to be real.

The magic that I find in literature is the power of connections. The ability to take the simple, everyday elements of life and reveal them for the complexities they are in and of themselves. I may be contradicting myself here, but what I’m trying to say is that there’s power in that. There’s power in being able to connect with someone you have never met and probably never will through common experiences and emotions…in a story. Everyone has a story. Everyone has a life they’ve lived and are living. The elements that make up those lives are what make the stories. You can’t have a story without people.

This also connects to my desire to pursue journalism. You can throw a bunch of facts together and tell the world that a bridge collapsed or that a budget hearing is being held next Monday. But it’s the stories of bravery and courage and heartbreak that unite people. Even with that budget hearing, it’s understanding how that budget effects the people that live in that area that makes it worth caring about.

Sorry, I apologize if this turned into a rant, but I blame Yeats. I was reading some of his poetry and it just sticks. Some of his poetry is so other-worldly you’d think I’m crazy to say that it connects with the simplicity of everyday life. But that’s the beauty of it. The enchanted forest of a child’s imagination is never that far away no matter how old you are. We all have a Byzantium, or will. Everyone has a moment like the child dancing in the wind where the world stands still and nothing exists outside of that moment.

Those connections are sometimes all that keep us going. Knowing that we’re not alone in our struggles, knowing that there’s someone to share in our joys. Literature can certainly reveal truths about ourselves that we may have never thought about otherwise or make clear something you simply couldn‘t articulate. Or maybe it’s just reaffirming something we already knew. Whatever it does, the good stuff connects. And that’s what I love about it.

Someone's Gotta Do It


I sit patiently, quietly and inconspicuously at a little desk at the rear of the Canton High School Public Library. Surrounded by knowledge, Great Illustrated Classics, posters of modern-day children’s books-turned-movies and a panel of board members discussing the price of school lunches for going on 30 minutes now.

I’m supposed to be covering the Canton Board of Education monthly meeting right now. Which…I am. There’s just room for…not listening, I suppose. The current item of discussion is disciplinary action of less-than-satisfactory academic standards. The biggest issue last meeting was how much money should be spent on basketballs. Of course, one meeting was mostly about drug testing. So there can be variety. But there can also be half-hour debates over the age of prom dates.

Welcome to the world of school boards. This is the way they work. Someone has to make these decisions, mundane as they may seem. And someone has to alert the public, keep them informed. That’s what I get to do. It could be worse…I could be getting bored and not being paid for it, right?

Observing the library is also somewhat entertaining. I’m appalled to see the Twilight series displayed in at least two different locations on the library walls. *sigh* I suppose they know what sells.

And now, I get to figure out how to sell a meeting discussing school lunch prices and facial hair policies to the public of Canton. I always did enjoy a good challenge.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

In Other News...

I just tonight finally saw most of “Pretty Woman.” I still haven’t seen it in its entirety, but I caught the majority of it on TV. Cheesiest ending ever, but there’s a feel-good movie if ever I saw one. And tonight was certainly a feel-good movie night. And I love the theme song. This movie is like the original “Moulin Rouge.” This may also have helped me understand what all the fuss was about over Richard Gere.

Also, I think one of the most entertaining and amusing jobs on the face of the planet would be writing screenplays for Syfy Channel Original Movies. Seriously. They’re hilarious. I can just picture a room full of giddy middle-aged guys snickering over how many buckets of blood they can spill, how many limbs they can sever, how many hot girls they can cram into one bathroom stall, how many different creatures they can possibly have genetically mutate and how many cheesy one-liners they can whip out for their hero…who will ultimately be the last one standing…besides the girl. Well, the one girl. All the other hot girls will get eaten or explode by the end of the movie. Along with the token stupid and annoying people.

In all seriousness, I think that would be a fun job. My current slices of inspiration were “Ice Spiders,” “Yeti,” and “Abominable.” Check ‘em out. You will not be disappointed.

Forever

The concept of forever is difficult to wrap your mind around. On this side of it, anyway. When you’re waiting for it, it’s an eternity in and of itself.

While I probably wouldn‘t have admitted this, when I was little I think a part of me just sort of trusted that everyone I knew would live forever. From a logical standpoint, I knew that wasn’t true, that no one is immortal, but that never really occurred to me on any sort of real level.

A dear friend of mine just lost her grandmother this weekend. She said to me, “I just wish she could live forever.” We’d all probably say that if asked, right? It’s impossible to fully understand that now she *is* living forever…because we’re not there. We’re here…without them. It’s so much easier to feel the pain of not having them here, the void, then to understand the peace and fulfillment they’re experiencing in eternity.

Until we’re forced to say goodbye, that’s kind of subconsciously how we view the people we love. We just sort of assume they’re going to be with us forever because we can’t imagine life any other way.

That mindset really doesn’t change with age. It hadn’t for me, anyway. It’s not growing up or maturity or any sort of advanced understanding of the way things work that wake you up to reality. It’s the first biting encounter you have with saying goodbye. And it’s so biting because you’re forced to see them go...it’s not your choice. You’re not ready. You never are.

It’s a heart vs. head thing, I think. Your head knows that someday you’re going to lose grandparents, or that there’s always a chance that someone you love won’t be here tomorrow, for whatever reason. But your heart can never be ok with that, and because of that it won’t let you admit that reality.

Again, forever is a weird concept to wrap your head around. There are almost two sides of it. Forever can either be really good or really bad. The really bad side is the one where it’s a waiting period. The other side is the one where you’ve reached it.

Heaven is such an incredible gift, to know we have eternity to look forward to, to know that I’m going to see Tarah again someday and to know that she’s in the best place she’s ever been and ever will be…forever. But on the other hand, it’s so distant. We have no idea what it looks like, what’s going on there, what they’re doing. That takes away a level of comfort, not knowing. Not all of it, certainly, but some. And knowing that she’s there…and I’m here. Sometimes it’s easier to think about that distance than how happy she is. But she is happy. And she’s not going anywhere.

The wisdom of Pooh Bear once told me that “forever isn’t long at all, as long as I’m with you.” Forever is terrible when it stands between you and someone you love. Forever is the greatest thing in the world when it means being with that person every day for the rest of eternity. Thankfully, I’ll never have to wait ‘forever’ for that.

Maybe that’s why forever is so hard to understand. It doesn’t exist on this side. It’s something I’ll only ever be able to look forward to until I’m on the other side of it. But I do get to look forward to it. Forever isn’t too good to be true. It’s just a little further away than I’d like at the moment. And there is peace in that.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

“Clash of the Titans” Film Review

Nearly 30 years after the original 1981 version of “Clash of the Titans,” the Louis Leterrier remake has at least one major advantage: the advancement of technology.
Unfortunately, what this film boasts in breathtaking visuals it lacks in its depth of storytelling, script and character development.

Based on the exploits of the demi-God Perseus and mankind’s rebellion against the Gods, the focus lies too heavily on the extravagance and spectacle than on the rich source material of the Greek mythology.

Granted, the complexity and unorthodox storytelling of Greek mythology presents significant challenges for big screen adaptations, I can’t help but wonder if half as much effort had gone into developing that complexity as did the scorpion battle scene this movie might’ve had a chance.

The mammoth Kraken, breathtaking aerial shots and majestic recreation of Mount Olympus are a far cry from the marinara sauce oozing from Medusa’s head in the 1981 version. Giving credit where credit is due, the visuals are extremely impressive and visually appetizing. Too bad my appetite requires a little more flavor to satisfy.

Ralph Fiennes does stand out in chilling expertise as the tortured Hades, adding some much-needed depth to the story. And although Liam Neeson’s Zeus is a bit watered down, Neeson makes the best of what he’s given.

Often painful attempts at overacting from the rest of the cast may be some sort of compensation for their lack of meaningful dialogue. The actors do their best, but either miscasting or a cheap script riddled with one-liners and cheesy attempts at inspirational speeches steal whatever potential may have existed.

The story felt bigger than the filmmakers in this one. While it provided some thrills and fun, the story deserves more than that.

Dordt Senior Shows Preview

Story that I wrote for Dordt's school newspaper:

What does a woman trapped in the social conventions of the 1920s and a man searching for his slain father’s sword in Edo, Japan have in common?

Both are subjects of the two senior shows being performed this April, “Machinal,” by American playwright and journalist Sophie Treadwell and “Sukeroku: The Flower of Edo” by Japanese playwrights Tsuuchi Jihei II and Tsuuchi Hanemon.

Senior theatre majors Danielle Roos and Zachary Eggebeen serve as this years’ round of senior directors, with Roos directing “Machinal” and Eggebeen taking on “Sukeroku: The Flower of Edo.”

With auditions freshly wrapped up and casting in place, both directors are ready to begin what Eggebeen calls “the culmination of [their] time at Dordt” as theatre majors, and to put “everything [they’ve] learned to work”

Roos’s “Machinal,” an expressionist play, follows the journey of a woman in the 1920s forced into situations dictated by convention. Written by a woman and based on a true story, Roos was drawn to the play in part due to it’s honest treatment of real and universal struggles of women.

“It’s the story of a young woman going though crises in her life that she feels she has no control over,” Roos said. “That’s something that I thought was very human.”

Eggebeen’s play of choice follows a young man searching for the sword of his murdered father in Edo, Japan, while encountering romance and villainy along the way.

A love of Japanese theatre and it’s history led Eggebeen to his choice. “It has everything,” Eggebeen says, “romance, comedy, drama.”

Aside from the attraction of story, these plays also present unique directorial challenges as well as exciting opportunities for the directors.

“I love working with actors and seeing them grow into characters and get excited about the roles they’re doing,” said Roos, also noting excitedly her casting success.

She’s also taking on a more complex style with expressionism, a style she’s never attempted, allowing her to “learn different directing styles and expand [her] horizons.”

Roos’s Faculty Supervisor April Hubbard commented that expressionism “does not attempt to mimic reality, but to distort and emphasize certain aspects of reality in order to reveal an inner truth” and this play is, to her knowledge, the “first such script performed at Dordt.”

“Danielle's directing experience is already quite extensive for a student, and I anticipate this will be a stunning project of high quality,” Hubbard said.

Eggebeen is excited about facing the challenge of teaching a unique and unfamiliar form of theatre to his actors, as well as introducing it to a mostly unfamiliar audience.

“In Kabuki, the style is much less realistic than in western acting,” he said. “There really isn't the suspension of disbelief that you get in western theatre.”

Ryan Donahoe, Dordt Theatre Deparment’s technical director and Eggebeen’s student supervisor, is extremely excited about the opportunity that Dordt and the surrounding community will have to attend Zach's performances.

“Kabuki is a Japanese theatre style that has never been seen in this area and it is an amazing opportunity for people to witness this in person,” said Donahoe.

Both directors will be working with a combined number of over 25 student actors, their supervisors, and student-run set, lighting, makeup, costume and sound designs. Donahoe figures that all together there are over 50 students involved, offering a great opportunity for majors and non-majors to be involved in theatre.

“Dordt is full of wonderfully talented people in the theatre,” said Eggebeen.

Roos also expressed her excitement to “combine visions” and see a “full concept come to life” in a challenging yet exciting collaborative effort.

With a college career coming to a close and four years of theatre study under their belts, these two directors will have a chance to show the Dordt community a personal extension of themselves and what those four have brought them to.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Happy Weekend

So, the movie "Bottle Shock" is amusing. And makes me want to learn more about wine.

Also, I learned today (after 4 years in this town) that small towns' limited resources for nights out FILL UP QUICKLY on weekends. Especially in college towns.

And last but not least, I refused to conform today. Was it a significant resistance? Not really. Was it worthy of my efforts? I should like to think so! I resisted changing my facebook profile picture to that of a shark simply because someone deemed this week shark week and said that I could not partake in said shark week unless I changed my picture. I did not change my picture. A small victory, but a victory none the less. Cherish the small things.

Aha, and ONE more thing! I survived sitting through "Dear John" in its entirety! I was fading fast for a little while, but I endured. It has come to my attention that Nicholas Sparks is the Thomas Kinkade of literature. Just a little gem of wisdom for ya.

A happy weekend to all, and to all a good night!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Friday

Friday has arrived. That blessed moment when I'm finished with my last class of the day and the weekend is before me. Yet, I'm still stuck in the thickest parts of the week.

They're dead and gone, done, in the past, yet still lingering. In a bad way. How do you shake that stuff? And by stuff I mean how do you convince yourself that worrying doesn't accomplish anything and that what's in the past can't be changed.

Well, you may believe both of those things, but that doesn't make them any easier to put into practice. It's sort of like seeing the reasoning in your parents wanting you to wait til after dinner to eat your dessert but not really wanting to. Or something like that.

Moving forward from past hurts is never an easy thing to do. It hurt. If something was powerful enough to hurt you, it makes sense that it's hard to shake. It could be something as deep as emotional scarring that will be with you for the rest of your life or something as simple as a bad test score. But the point being, they effect you in a negative way. And for some reason the negative is always easier to remember.

So here I am: Friday. I want to enjoy the weekend. I want to shake the burdens what weighed me down throughout the week and look forward. Again, easier said than done, right? For some situations, it's a time thing. Pain needs to heal. For a scrape, a band-aid and kiss from Mom should do the trick by this time tomorrow. For a bad test grade, just convince yourself you'll do better next time or plead with the professor. For other situations, it's a life-long process that's never fully realized until new life begins.

Either way, I'm right here right now, and somehow I have to reconcile that. The more joy I can find the better the ride's going to be. And easier. I don't want to get into a mindset of simply enduring this life til I get to the next, or making it all about what's going to make me happy, either. Though, you may be surprised by what does truly make you happy. More often than not it involves other people:).

God put me here for a reason. If I view my existence as something to survive til I get to move on it seems like I'm missing something.

So, today is Friday. Today my joy is going to be going out with wonderful roommates and celebrating the fact that we were born (literally, it's a combined birthday outing). That, at least for tonight, will overshadow the burdens from the week and remind me of a few of the countless reasons I have to be happy:)

Friday, February 5, 2010

Film Review: "Up in the Air"

When asked for an opinion on air travel, the average person might respond somewhere between flaming disdain, placid enjoyment or subdued indifference. The long hours, cramped spaces and miniscule food selection generally seem to turn people off and rarely generate any sort of excitement.

Not Ryan Bingham. On the contrary, Bingham feels more at home in the air than in any one place he’s ever called home. He prefers hotel rooms to home, frequent flier miles to friend, and practically “doesn’t exist” to his family, in the words of his own sister.

Bingham works for a company that sends him all over the country doing the dirty work of bosses that don’t want to do their own firing, or, letting go, as the rehearsed line goes. He “makes limbo more bearable,” he tells a coworker.

Bingham insists that his job is to help people transition; he’s supposed to be their shoulder to cry on once the deed is done. This, he insists, is the benefit of firing in person. Dignity. Funny thing is Bingham never sticks around long enough to be of that much use to his clients or to anyone else

The idea of internet firing, a more efficient and cost-effective method, is proposed by an ambitious young college grad, Natalie, who presents a driven if not na├»ve and slightly cold approach to taking away peoples’ livelihoods.

This new approach not only threatens Bingham’s entire way of life but earns Natalie a round-country trip with Bingham to witness his work and life philosophy. Both have their agendas resisted and eyes opened in the most unlikely ways, including from a fiery blonde business woman named Alex whose philosophy may actually be worse than Bingham’s.

Writer/director Jason Reitman has created an understatedly realistic portrayal of relationships between three incredibly genuine (if not always honest) characters, making this film easy not only to enjoy but to get lost in. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself in one of these people, or somewhere between all three.

The humorous and often painfully ironic screenplay teamed with the marvelous performances of the three lead actors are the key to its success. The scenes alter between hilarious, touching and heart-wrenching, all strung together with the stories of how these people affect each other.

George Clooney’s embodiment of Bingham was a refreshing contrast to his superstar roles. The honesty and vulnerability of his performance invites a likability that encourages us to bear with him.

Anna Kendrick is electric as the bright-eyed ambitious youngster Natalie with agonizing ups and downs. She provides wonderful contrast to Clooney’s character and both are perfect vehicles for forcing the other to see things differently.

Not until Bingham witnesses Natalie’s sorrowfully sympathetic reactions to face-to-face firing does he really start caring about making people feel better, Natalie included. Not until Natalie has to live in Bingham’s world does she realize that maybe there is some dignity in the face-to-face. Bingham’s family visit for his sister’s wedding is especially touching and telling in his transformation.

Vera Farmiga is perfect as the on-and-off again mirror image of Bingham’s playboy lifestyle and unintentional source of his soul-searching. Her staccato presence is both sharp and fast-paced, keeping Bingham and the audience on their toes, creating colorful intervals throughout the film.

This film weaves these people, among others, together to show the importance of connections. Your life is not your own. No man is an island. Not only are you affected by other people, but you affect them too, in ways you’d never imagine.

When asked about my opinion of flying, I’ll usually say I love it as long as I don’t have to do it alone. While a good chunk of that reasoning is because my paranoia of missing a connecting flight will be eased if I have someone to help me, it also comes from the enrichment of other peoples’ company. Airplane company, granted, can be a major headache, but at least it’s interesting. An affirmation I felt walking out of the theatre is that people are worth the risk.