There's probably nothing better for your spirit when you're foxholed up in a medical society--and this *is one contained medical community; everyone here has something to do with Mayo--than to escape it as thoroughly as you can. That proved physically impossible for us over the past few days. But thankfully we arrived with an academy screener of Sean Penn's "Into the Wild." I don't know that the movie was the best I've seen. But I do think Penn outdid himself in terms of visual and visceral scope. The film transports you (and in my case, reminds me why I've avoided a fulltime corporate job since the year following my undergraduate degree). I also don't believe like others that the flick necessarily glorified its protagonist: it showed him in frequent states of potheaded smuchkification for all his innate intelligence, ascetism, and Emory degree. Some people are just goofballs, and the film seemed to be honest about that. That Supertramp died so closely to supplies, a highway, and help seems only to enforce that notion. Maybe Penn could have made that more explicit about those facts. And maybe there could have been less original Vedder in the soundtrack. But locking up in a dark hotel room with a laptop DVD viewing session of this film after spending a day grappling with the unique blend of Mayo invasiveness and impersonality really brought Lina and I back home. L.A. may have the worst air in the country but it provides a lot more access to nature than Hell's Kitchen. After the flick, I put myself to bed re-reading Krakauer's Outside article, and thought yet again: This man is an extremely clear writer, but I don't know what his prose legacy will be. Which is not to say that every writer needs to be a great stylist. I love my plain sentences, my purist storytellers, my adventurers who return with tales that defy linguistic elan. But it seems to me that Krakauer's greatest feats have been finding (or living) content and packaging material with his pen. No pun intended. Still, "Into the Wild," the film, was about the best thing I could have watched last night, and Penn deserves some serious recognition for his work. Perhaps Krakauer or the new gen of Krak-type writers should look into the young pioneers who venture into the depths of the elite medical world as patients; these extended trips and transfixing diagnosis procedures should be viewed as intensely as wilderness. There are certainly more ways out of Denali--if you're smart.