Monday, May 29, 2006

Does The Movie Kill the Literary Star?

Since it’s Memorial Day and the Costa Ricans have no clue what that is, im going to go catch the DaVinci Code while the Theatres are free of screaming pubescent Ticos. It’s actually already in the movie rental store here, one of the benefits of living in a country that doesn’t concern itself with movie piracy. (They’ve got bigger fish to fry like, um , poverty and infrastructure). But I’d rather see it on the big screen and the popcorn doesn’t fall into my couch there.

I’ve thumbed through the book, but cant say I’ve read it in it’s entirety. While the subject is, by it’s nature, fascinating, I’m just a little spent on all things Catholic right now. I’m enjoying the ridiculous media frenzy this movie has generated. It’s fun to watch the religiously devout get shaken to their core by a piece of fiction. Stand in’s, boycotts, hell, fire, and brimstone. They’ve tried about everything to guilt people into not going to see the film. Maybe they should have put as much time and energy into the ONGOING catholic priest SEX SCANDAL that’s plagued them for years rather than worry about a book that was written for entertainment. Then again, the diversion is clever and well played out. Score one for the Vatican.

Without seeing the film, I think Tom Hanks is miscast. He’s a great actor, but just not who I’d want to see in that role. Someone a bit more stately. Completely unrelated, his hair looks funny in the previews too. Like a pre-mullet or something. Can I get an amen halleluiah Jesus?

At the very least, I know I’ll be entertained for a few hours. I just hope the subtitles don’t take away too much from the cinematography. I might go to the really nice theatre here where they have foot stools and neck massages. It’s more expensive though. $2000.00 Colones.. That’s $3.97 USD. God bless the US Dollar.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Conjunction Junction

I watched a really hot movie late last night called “VASOLINA”

… A guy, A girl, leather, sex, cars. I was all over it.

Oh, in the US it’s called “GREASE”. (insert courtesy laugh here)

I love cross cultural literal translations. Here are some others for your amusement.

I also found out today that I was bestowed the distinction of writing the "gayest blog post ever" by for my comments on the tarantuala invasion in my house. While I find it hard to believe that they couldnt find queer'er comments than mine online Uh Hum ( Im honored nonetheless.

Setting the gay standard for alomst 10 years now, I leave you with this.... Ta Ta Bitches!

Friday, May 19, 2006

Costa Rica Explained

All of my availiable, clever, brainpower is currently being devoted to my job so my blog will have to take a back seat until I can free up some brain cells to actually write something profound. In my absense I thought I'd post some photos of my new hometown.

The city center, as in most Latin cities, is the pulse of San Jose. Thousands of people flock to the Mercado Central on the weekends to shop for food, flowers, and to stare at Americans evidentially. I love to go here on the weekends and enjoy the scene and stare back at people.

Flowers are abundant and extremely cheap in Costa Rica. 12 birds of Paradise (Ginger Lillies) will run you about 3 or 4 dollars. Roses under 50 cents a piece and gerber daisy's are 10 cents a stem. The variatals and abundance of flowers here are amazing. There are flower services here that will fill every room in your house and take care of them once a week for 30.00 US. There are flower stands on almost every corner here and as usual the prices (though already ridiculusly cheap) are always negotiable espicially if theres a neighboring flower stand.

San Jose has an overwhelming European Influence. Like Argentina, many europeans settled here after WWII and espcially Italians. Theres an over abundance of Italian resturants and Italian culture here. Architecturally, the city reminds me of Buenos Aires. Very European, almost Parisian. Ther are few new, modern office building here, most seem to have been built in the late 70's and early 80's when the Coffee trade here exploded. The streets are brick and there are absolutely NO street signs whatsoever.

Banking and Coffee and now Tourism drive the Costa Rican economy. There are banks on almost every corner here and unlike many Latin American countires, the Costa Ricans are perfectly comfortable putting their money into Banks. The Statues in the picture on the right are an homage to the victory Costa Ricans fared against American military "adventurer" William Walker in 1856, who invaded Costa Rica with an army of captured nicaraguan slaves. Costa Rica now has the distinct honor of being the only contry in the world without an army or Navy, they were disbanded in 1949 and never returned. National security only exists on the local police level, and you rarely see them (I never have).

I take The Pan-American Highway everyday to work and I fight for road real estate all the time with these busses. The roads here are atrocious, espicially during the "green" season (AKA Rainly season officially renamed by the Costa Rican Travel and Tourism Board). Water causes massive sinkholes to occur unexpectedy. Cars will run into to them and the result is often deadly. Thers are also mudslides and washouts that can close the road for days. People walk and ride their bikes on the highway here too. I often see children running across the road in between traffic and I cringe. Costa Rica actually has a program in place to incentivize people to buy new cars. Most peopel drive 10-15 year old cars here that break down or fall apart on the highway causing traffic accidents. There are no street lights here, so driving at night can be a game of chicken with pedestrians in the roads. People get hit by cars here extremely often.

Tarantulas, Scorpians, Sankes, earthquakes, mudslides aside, im glad I took the plunge and moved here. I've met amazing people, had interesting cross-cultural experiences and besides, how often do you get to live 5 miles from an active Volcano?

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Matrimonial Censorship!

So blogging can seem a bit on the “freaky” side to people who (A) Who aren’t early adopters and don’t use computers frequently and/ or (B) People who are married to a semi-retired rural Pediatricians who have recently been bitten by the Blogging bug.

This entry is dedicated to the latter. Said semi-retired rural Pediatrician, someone I know very well, seems to be having a hard time convincing his wife, another person I know quite well, that the time he’s spending in the blogosphere is time well spent. While I don’t know the particulars of the conversations that have transpired, The Doc has indicated an interest in getting more traffic to his blog to help beef up his blogging value proposition to his lovely wife.

Because I believe it’s important as a content community that we support our fellow bloggers, I have decided to dedicate this entry to pushing The Doc's traffic request out to the masses (well at least the ones who read my blog). Im not even going to pepper it with promises of $100.00 checks from Microsoft or some unbelievable good luck if you pass it on to 10 friends. Just a straight forward, old fashioned, blowin' sunshine up your ass hand out.

Help save a Blogger! Please Visit Don’t let another blogger fall victim to matrimonial censorship!

Much appreciated!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Hairy Situation

Click to Expand!

Like “Snakes on a Plane”, I had tarantulas in my house today. They were as big as my hand and they kept me prisoner in my bedroom for over 2 hours. I opened my bedroom door to find 2 of them waiting for me, like 2 choreographed demons from Hell. I screamed (I can admit it) slammed the door and immediately called the US for moral support. I somehow managed to navigate past them, ran upstairs and grabbed the can of scorpion spray (poison = my friend). After about an hour of strategic positioning, I got close enough to empty the can on one of the spiders. It literally made a devil hissing sound as it slowly curled up and died. The others have now hidden themselves somewhere in my house and are plotting their revenge. Needless to say, I grabbed some clothes, my deodorant and bolted out the door and I’ve checked myself into a hotel. I will stay here until those bastard tarantulas are found and killed or my credit card maxes out and I get kicked out, whichever comes first.

For those of you who are wondering; This is officially my “Oh Shit” moment. That point in time when I realize that I have moved to a third world country, where Tarantulas make house calls and my ability to call for help is stifled by a serious language barrier.

Friday, May 12, 2006

The Truth is Scarier Than Fiction..

I have a friend, Mr. BigStuff, who is embedded in Hollywood. Mr BigStuff kanoodles with the A-listers and knows everything about anyone who’s lives revolve around Hollywood and Vine. It’s safe to say that Mr. BigStuff is my ultimate authority on all things celebrity, and for good reason. He has built a career managing talent, marketing celebrity and getting people where want to go. More importantly, he’s slept with all the right people. My relationship with Mr. BigStuff spans 7 or so years, and we have an unspoken rule between us. If I want to know something about a Hollywood A-Lister, I ask in a non specific way and I never EXPECT an answer. He’s never let me down.

While im soooooo over the whole Tom cruise Katie Holmes thing, I must admit there’s some slight fascination in their story. Maybe it’s the train wreck nature of it, or just the “gross factor”, but im sucked in. I was a Tom Cruise fan until I saw him hump a Tijuana Whore as a greasy, long haired, paraplegic in Born on the 4th of July. Somehow that shattered the buttoned-up, flight suit, flyboy, Top Gun image I remembered so fondly. His recent media whoring hasn’t helped either. Something about a 40 something year old man jumping up and down on Oprah Winfrey’s couch like a potty trained monkey and delving out medical advice on morning television, just irks me. The guy has completely lost it.

Ok, so I’m sure you wee where this is going. I broke down last week and asked Mr. BigStuff to confirm the rumors that the recent Cruise-Holmes debacles (including her pregnacy), are, in fact, contrived media stunts. It’s always been my experience that where there’s smoke, there’s a fire. I was so anxious to hear back, I could hardly stand it.

I didn’t receive a reply. Maybe I have finally overstepped my boundaries with Mr. BigStuff? After all, Cruise is Hollywood “royalty” and there are some people out there you just don’t F*&K with.

I was delighted to discover an email from Mr. BigStuff in my inbox just this morning and even more delighted to put the months of speculation to rest. The truth, Tom Cruise is 100%, for sure, unequivocally… {INVALID PAGE ERROR}

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Computer Say's.......

God I love technology. A technophile friend of mine sent me a link to Pandora. It’s music recognition technology that allows users to type in artists and/or songs they like and the software compares the melody, harmony and rhythm, instrumentation, orchestration, arrangement, lyrics, and vocal harmony to millions of other songs cataloged in their system. It then builds a personalized ‘radio station’ that only plays songs that you will like based on the “music genome” of your favorite artists or songs. Best part, you don’t have to download anything to play with it.

Try it out:

This all plays into my theory that the interactive universe will continue to evolve as a uber-personal experience. Everything we do and see will be personalized. Smart search engines will start suggesting and displaying user-specific content (like TIVO); All media we encounter online will be mapped to our personal preferences; and news and content will be of specific interest based on an understood personal user profile that’s developed over time. A lot of this is already in place.

It’s a conspiracy theorists worst nightmare, but to the rest of us, it only eases the process. One day we won’t have to get up off our couch to effectively function in this world.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Mi Amore.

In the interest of full disclosure, which was part of the promise I made to myself when I started this blog, I am going to tell you about Fransisco, my new Costa Rican “love” interest. Let me start this by saying this. We have absolutely nothing in common. I grew up with running water, electricity, and food that was purchased in a store, not shot or stolen. He has 2 tattoos, smokes a pack a day and has a pierced ear. My family didn’t shun me when I came out to them and lock me in my bedroom until I exercised my demon nor did I spend 6 months in a juvenile detention center for selling fake marijuana to tourists when I was 10 years old. Clearly we are two very different people. Given all of that, something extraordinary happens when we sit face to face. All of our differences seem to vanish into thin air and we connect as human beings. While I know this will not be a long term endeavor, I know that, for now, I have found someone who makes me feel good. And sometimes, that’s all you need.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Maid in Guachapelin...

This is what $4 dollars worth of maid service gets you in Costa Rica. This is an 8 hour day. It would be $6 dollars a day ($180 a month) if she lived-in and cooked for you. All maids are illegal Nicaraguans and they send 50% of their income ($90) home to their families. They will only walk to your house. My house is over 1 mile up in the hills from the nearest bus stop. People stage their homes with coins to see if the maids will steal them before they commit to employment and they are encouraged to not overpay their maids to keep the cost low. You are required by the government to pay time and a half during the month of December for Christmas and also pay $25 dollars a year in seguro social para illegal (social security for illegals). It really puts things into perspective when you relalize these people fled their country to Costa Rica for a "better life". Makes you wonder what their standard of living was there. As heartbreaking as it all sounds, I've employed Lorena, who starts tomorrow. This is her first job in Costa Rica. Her uncle is my Securty guard, Ramon. My insignificant financial contribution will literally make all the difference to her.

Lavar y secar los platos
Barrer el piso
Limpiar el piso
Lavar el fregadero
Limpiar las ventanas

Cuarto de Lavado
Lavar ropa (que esta en la canasta de ropa)
Secar ropa
Planchar Camisas con Niagara (ponerlas en ganchos)
Barrer el piso
Limpiar el piso

Barrer el piso
Limpiar el piso
Limpiar las ventanas

Baño de arriba
Lavar el lavatorio
Lavar el inodoro
Barrer el piso
Limpiar el piso

Barrer el piso
Limpiar el piso

Aspirar el piso
Lavar y secar las sabanas de las camas
Limpiar las ventanas

Baño principal
Lavar el lavatorio
Lavar la bañera
Lavar el inodoro
Barrer el piso
Limpiar el piso
Aspirar el closet

Friday, May 05, 2006

Macho Nachos

I had a pretty fascinating conversation late last night with a ‘friend’ of mine. He’s a Tico and has packed in a lot of experiences in his short 26 years on this earth. We have spent several evenings together since I arrived here but have never really delved into the personal side of our lives. It’s strange how its easier to connect physically, especially when there’s a cultural/language barrier present. I am always interested in hearing about others guys coming out experiences. For some strange reason I find comfort in hearing about what other people have gone through to become who they are today.

Latin America is heavily steeped in Catholicism and they also suffer from a culturally-generated personality trait called “Machismo”. The machismo vibe is stronger in certain countries, but certainly alive and kicking here in Costa Rica. The best way to describe it is that men here (both gay and straight) feel pressured to adhere to a very masculine way of presenting themselves to the outside world. They never show weakness, they don’t cry, they’re tough, feelings are secondary, etc. It’s particularly difficult for gay men in this part of the world to come to terms with their sexuality. Not only are they being spanked religiously by the Catholic Church, they also have to overcome the machismo issue. My Tico friend, Francesco, got chained to his bed and locked in his room for 3 months when his family found out he was gay. He was 15 years old. They slid food under the door and cut him off from all outside communication. They told their extended family that he was sick and could not be included in family events until he was better. On her deathbed, Francisco’s mother told him that she was dying because he was gay, when in fact she had leukemia. He spent 5 years hating himself because he believed he had killed his mother because he was gay. His father has never spoken to him since, and he has a very strained relationship with the rest of his family as a result.

It’s no wonder that many gay guys here in Latin America are married. They compartmentalize their lives; At home, they are the breadwinners and good fathers to their children and at night they sneak out and meet men for sex. They are completely comfortable with that lifestyle, having justified their actions to themselves in various ways. This phenomenon is not unique to Latin America of course, but does seem to be particularly bad here.

I dated a married guy when I was 24. I had no clue he was married. I found out during a dinner conversation at a swanky restaurant in Houston. I excused myself to the bathroom, grabbed my coat and left. The best part was that I had driven us both there. I have no clue how he got home. For years I lashed out at married gay guys I encountered until I started to think about the personal hell they live in. I realized my words were inconsequential; their pathetic lives are punishment enough.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Libra knocks out Scorpio in record time

Because I realized early on that the day I wake up with a scorpion in my bed will be my last official day in Costa Rica, I have made a small investment in scorpion spray. I have now sprayed so much of this outside my door that I have killed the grass and im sure created some sort of major bio hazzard that will come back to haunt me at an older age. Frankly, I dont care. I have adopted a gang war strategy in my home against the bugs. Sometimes I just break some legs, so they'll go crawling back and show all their friends what will go down if they return. Other times I just kill them and leave them there on display as a harsh reminder of life on the streets.

I am the only one in my office who hasnt had a scorpion in their home, so I know it's going to happen. Other people have also found taranchala's, snakes, lizzards, even possums. Theres a turf war going on in this country, and eight legs almost always beats two. So I come prepared.

Caveat: Yes, I realize that this is karmic payback for all the rubber snakes I planted in a good friends home a few months ago after I found out he was horrified of them.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Shaken But Not Stirred

Panama, Costa Rica Shaken by Magnitude-6 Earthquake, USGS Says

May 1 (Bloomberg) -- A magnitude-6 earthquake struck early today along the border of Panama and Costa Rica, the U.S. Geological Service said on its Web site. The quake didn't prompt any tsunami alert by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. The epicenter was 40 kilometers (24 miles) west-southwest of the town of David in Panama and 60 kilometers south-southeast of Golfito in Costa Rica, the USGS said. The quake struck 40 kilometers below the surface, at 2:48 a.m. local time. David has a population of 77,000 and Golfito 10,000, the USGS said. There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage from the earthquake, which was classified as ``strong'' by the USGS.

The Central American countries are in a region where the Cocos and Caribbean plates meet and rub against each other.

Arte De Service

To my friends in the US who appreciate the art of service, you will all be glad to know that it is still alive and well here in Central America. The grocery stores deliver to your door, McDonalds and Burger King delivers too, all at no extra charge.. No one pumps their own gas, every gas station is full service and it’s mandatory. My security guard runs to my car every time I get home to carry my things into my house. My maid washes my clothes, scrubs the floors with a sponge and even washes (and drys) my car. Restaurants serve women first from the left, and there are parking attendants in every parking lot who help guide you out of your parking spot when you leave. Store clerks promptly ask you if you need assistance and they will take your bags and carry them for you while you look around.

Tips are included in restaurant bills and its not expected that you’ll give anything extra. These people are just glad to have a job and they perform their jobs at 150%. I ate at an upper scale restaurant a week ago and our waitress was in a wheel chair. She maneuvered the place with precision, balancing drinks, plates in one hand while propelling her chair with the other. I watched her with amazement as she services 4 tables simultaneously. Her handicap was inconsequential. She spoke English and gave everyone at my table (and others) prompt attention. It was one of the best serving experiences I have ever had. I left 10,000 colones (20 bucks) as a tip. She wheeled out to the parking lot to let me know I had mistakenly left her too much money. I explained to her that it was intentional and she deserved it. …I saw a tear trickle down her face and I realized then, for the first time since being here, that my new life is all about perspective.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Cyprus Shrugged?

My good friend Stratocade, the airline mileage aficionado that he is, snagged a handful of $33 biz class tickets for us to go to Italy this summer. His ability to root out an airline deal (even if it’s a typo) is an art form very few possess. Unfortunately, I’t looks like the Alitalia might make this a bumpy ride for us all...

Close Encounters of the Costa Rican Kind.

Evidentially every possible combination of scary, hairy, multi-legged, beadie eyed, slimy, come-out-at-night creatures are all in Costa Rica this week for their annual convention. The best part, my new house seems to be hosting the event. Last night, during my first official night in my new Costa Rican pad, I was awaken by a millipede crawling into my mouth. When I realized what was happening, I yelled so loud that my Security Guard, Ramone, came busting into my house with a machete. Of course Ramone speaks absolutely No English, and I speak Spanglish at best. I tried to explain to him what happened, through shitty hand signals and non translatable dialog he thought I was saying that I had seen a snake in my room, so he tore my room apart with a machete to kill it. We (we’ll He) spent 45 minutes sifting through my clothes, shoes, and other things lying on the floor.

Ramone lives in a “dwelling” with no windows or doors outside my house. I’m sure he’s dined with scorpions and slept with snakes, so there’s no way I was going to tell him that he was hunting for a bug in my room at 2:30 am while I stood on top of my bed in my underwear. I called an exterminator today and have declared all out war on the bugs. I broke some legs too, and told them to go back and show all their friends what happens when you invade casa su Jason.

Ramone left a can of scorpion spray on my doorstep this morning with a note that I cant read.

5 Other things I have learned during my first official week in Central America:

American= Rich (note-to-self)
Average Costa Rican Salary= $300 US Monthly
If it’s unseasonably Hot= Earthquakes
Nicaraguans= 2nd class citizens
Pineapples are to Costa Ricans what Pine Cones are to Americans

THE BAD: It took 3 days to bet a mattress delivered, 6 days to get internet access and cable. I have to retry cell phone calls sometimes 10-15 times before they will go out. Power comes and goes. Everyone wants a receipt, even if you are buying the merchandise. And everyones on Tico-time… which means “Ill do it when I damn well please”

THE GOOD: Pineapples are 30 cents. Electricity bills are rarely over 10 dollars. You can throw seeds down on the ground and they will grow almost overnight. The people are very friendly and the Italian food here is primo! (Strange but true)

Pura Vida Y’all.