Posts Tagged ‘directly addressing someone unfamiliar with this writing’

renting a car in costa rica.

28 December 2010

before i came here i did a lot of research on driving conditions and crime. i’ve found that the warnings should be taken with a grain of salt (the pessimist in me feels the need to point out that i’m here for another week). while it’s certainly a challenge to drive on narrow roads that wind through mountains, avoiding potholes while buses and trucks speed toward you in the opposite direction, it’s not as if this is a constant concern. for the most part, the roads are in fairly good shape, the drivers are courteous, and the 4wd takes care of the rest.

my only problem has been the inadequate signage, especially in the cities, which lack street signs (except for the main road in liberia). when i arrived in alajuela i missed the turn for my hostel and circled the city for two hours trying to find the statue that was my only point of reference. later, i drove around for another two hours trying to find a secure parking lot that would allow my car to remain overnight.

a lot is written about petty theft, going so far as to recommend keeping one’s windows rolled up because thieves will reach into your car to steal the earrings out of your ears or the necklaces off your neck. it’s just like any other large city throughout the world, one needs to remain vigilant, be aware of their surroundings, and not be flashy with their wealth. i mean, even the people trying to sell me drugs are very nice.

driving on the highways, it’s as if they decided on sign placement by having a government official sit in the passenger seat while someone unfamiliar with the area drove: the inexperienced driver would indicate whenever he thought he might be lost, then the road supervisor would post a sign 5km further down the road. perseverance pays off, but, inevitably, you will get lost.

i want to single out a few people, in reverse order, who assisted me when i was lost, traveling from manuel antonio to liberia, about a six-hour drive north along the pacific coast.

1. the security guard at a plaza in playa del coco. after telling me his english was so-so he motioned for a pen and drew me the simplest map, a straight line with sardinal written at one end and coco at the other. between them were two short perpendicular lines meant to represent my destination.

2. the girl at the reception desk at the hilton garden inn across from the liberia airport. she indicated my route on a map, telling me it was easy. for some reason, whenever anybody gives directions here they use that word, exciting you at first, but then, after you find yourself lost again, making you feel even more incompetent. she chased after me, handing me the map (it’s for you). this time two-thirds of the trip was in fact easy. the last road i needed was new and not on the map.

3. the man on the bicycle in orotina. he took the map from me when i pointed to liberia so he could hold it in my headlights. he returned, sticking his arm out straight before turning his hand slightly to the right, simulating an on-ramp. he said, caldera, puntarenas then his fist went skyward as he shouted, liberia. he directed me to follow him as he jumped back on his bicycle and pedaled across a busy street, wobbling a little, as i trained my eyes on his fat little body wearing a polo shirt with stripes in muted colors. a few blocks away he pulled off the road so i could continue alone.

at times i’ve cursed the rav 4 that i rented last week as traffic sped around me on both sides, but every time i’m about to ditch it and take the bus, something wonderful happens. i stumble upon an old yellow church on the side of a hill. fifteen or so coatimundis play in the jungle foliage roadside. or i’m forced to talk to strangers and realize they’re not the people i’ve been repeatedly advised to avoid.


no shortness of breath.

9 November 2010

leading up to the release of the age of adz, sufjan stevens’ amazing new album, the record label he founded, asthmatic kitty, sent an email to his fans.

we love getting good music into your hands. we think it makes you happy, and that makes us happy. and that’s why we’re writing this email: to make everyone happy. it’s admittedly a long email but we hope you’ll stick with us for at least a little while because we want to explain something.

on october twelve we are proud to release sufjan stevens’ first song-based full-length album in five years, the age of adz. we think it’s one of the best things we’ve heard in a long time and we’re hoping you’ll buy it.

so. we have it on good authority that amazon will be selling the age of adz for a very low price on release date, not unlike they did with arcade fire’s recent (and really terrific) the suburbs. we’re not one hundred percent sure amazon will do this, but mostly sure.

we have mixed feelings about discounted pricing. like we said, we love getting good music into the hands of good people, and when a price is low, more people buy. a low price will introduce a lot of people to sufjan’s music and to this wonderful album. for that, we’re grateful.

but we also feel like the work that our artists produce is worth more than a cost of a latte. we value the skill, love, and time they’ve put into making their records. and we feel that our work too, in promotion and distribution, is also valuable and worthwhile.

that’s why we personally feel that physical products like eps should sell for around $7 and full-length cds for around $10-12. we think digital eps should sell for around $5 and full-length digital albums for something like $8.

they continue by listing various avenues to acquire the album.

dear asthmatic kitty,

as one of those who took advantage of amazon’s discounted pricing of $3.99 to purchase sufjan stevens’ new album, i feel the need to comment on behalf of myself and other fans who have made the same (wise) choice.

in a time of pecuniary difficulties, it’s not a very good tactic to caution people away from lower prices, especially when the other acceptable option for them is downloading the album for free with file-sharing software. i’m not saying this option is viable to me, as i’m kind of old-fashioned in that respect, but the fact remains that the record company gets the same cut whether amazon sells it at their introductory price or they charge an amount that is more than a latte (i have never purchased a latte, by the way, let alone a $4 one, so i may be missing some subtle points you’re trying to make).

if you’ll permit, i’ll tell you about my own experience: i would not have owned this album when i did if i had not visited amazon at three thirty am on the release day and seen the deal. subsequently i would not have listened to it as soon as i did — and been astounded enough by it to contemplate driving three hours to asheville, north carolina, for a sufjan show ten days later. i attended and recommended both the album and remaining tour dates to friends and strangers afterward.

i paid $30 for the ticket, which i felt was fair enough. ticketmaster added another $17 in convenience charges, which, in case you don’t have a calculator nearby, is almost an additional sixty percent fee. asthmatic kitty, if you need a corporate monopoly to go after, one whose defeat will make fans happy, then sharpen your teeth against ticketmaster rather than amazon, though, according to eddie vedder, they don’t fight fairly, so you may want to have an extra inhaler ready.

while we’re on the topic of the show and fair prices, the merchandise table outside of the auditorium was selling the age of adz for $15. on your website you sell this same album for $10, in line with what you personally feel a physical full-length cd is worth (these are your words from the email). if you’re indeed made happy by making us happy (again these are your words from the email) then should we consider this added charge as a way of saying, thank you for coming out tonight and supporting us, because, on the surface, it seems a bit prohibitive.

enjoy your latte,

one day at a time.

9 June 2009

i began watching twenty four as a sort of game: my dad would record it to view with my sister at a more convenient time mid-week, i’d arrive at the house late monday night, watch it, and then drop subtle hints about the plot all the next day. more often than not, i would lie about the twists, making the show more suspensful for them, as they waited for the scenes i described, never knowing if i was telling the truth.

furthermore, i began watching during the time period the story was actually taking place: as the series progressed, i waited until three am and then four the next week and five the following one before pressing play. i wanted to immerse myself in the role, like a character actor, and really understand the timeline in case i was ever asked to thwart a coup attempt or infiltrate an enemy camp (though, honestly, if a (trojan) horse can do it, how difficult can it be?).

there is one thing that bothers me: no one ever trusts kiefer sutherland. even when he is relying solely on instinct, his theories are always correct, yet, at least once every episode, he is detained by security, slowing his one-man mission and further endangering the lives of the many he strives to protect. sure, along the way there are those who back him up, but their support isn’t consistent and their voices are seldom loud enough to make a difference. he’s constantly beaten up and imprisoned by people whom, just last week (actually approximately sixty minutes ago in their real time), he saved in some way.

seriously, police officers and fbi agents, as well as members of the house of representatives, senate, and the white house, his voice introduces each hour of the program, his face is on the cover of every season’s dvd box set, one of which, for crying out loud, prominently features the american flag as if to suggest, this guy is a true patriot. please, in the future, think about these things before lifting your walkie talkies to announce an all-points bulletin. my life is at stake here.

a much overdue love letter to joan of arc.

27 February 2009

dearest joan,

at times, you’ve probably wondered why i sent envoys to your capital city, paris, so frequently after our civilizations met in the third version of the sid meier-created computer game. you were probably confused when i instructed my most learned men, researching the latest technologies, to take a hiatus from their studies in order to mentor so that you, also, could domesticate animals that carry your men into battle and plow your fields, could build granaries to store food through the hard french winters causing your cities to flourish, and could, centuries later, discover things you never thought were possible, such as flight, electricity, and genetics, words which mean nothing to you now, i’m sorry.

behind closed doors, you were likely questioning your most trusted advisors as to why i would align my always formidable army and expansive nation with yours, why i had my scribes pen alliances promising aid whenever you were attacked, why, during the inevitable wars begun by some rogue targeting your puny (please excuse my harsh wording) state, i stepped forward and funded the effort by adding gold to your coffers. i surmise the answers they gave you were incorrect as you never ceased appearing cautious and untrusting when i welcomed you and your retinue into the hallways of my palace.

i regret that during your lifetime i never made my intentions known. instead i hid behind the guise of abraham lincoln, alexander the great of macedonia, or the babylonian, hammurabi. it’s much too late to tell you that their curious acts of benevolence toward you and your people were initiated by me: i moved them to action; i first spoke the words they later reiterated. in short, i was smitten by you.

i feel compelled to write to you tonight, long after your death, because i was again reminded of your kindness, your resoluteness, and your ambition, not to mention, your large, beautiful eyes with that piercing gaze that fed my heart like the soil of briancon nourishes apricots, while watching carl theodore dreyer’s groundbreaking silent film about your trial. we’ve never agreed on matters of faith, it’s true, but i will forever be moved to tears by your struggle against insurmountable odds in pursuit of your beliefs and love for your country.

i was there in rouen in late may of 1431 when you were executed, partially hiding my face with the hood of my cloak to conceal weeping. please understand why it was impossible to intervene, as well as why i have chosen to conceal my identity all these years. i, myself, no longer know the reasons, and i imagine if i did, they would embarrass me. upon placing this letter into the fireplace, i pray, perhaps to the god in whom you believed unwaveringly, even when faced with certain, painful death, that smoke shelters its words on the way to heaven, so as you may read it.

a screaming comes across the sky.

29 December 2008

fireworks distributors have started giving their products catchy names and more appealing packaging, betting that the same thought process that casual drinkers use when selecting a bottle of wine is relevant with their customer. so tanned blondes with camouflage bikinis seductively show off rockets on shelves beside pimped-out tanks, motorcycles driven by biker dogs, and race cars with flames issuing from the exhaust pipes. names like uncle sam’s answer, loyal to none, and cruel mistress speak to their target consumer.

i’ve noticed this progression toward better marketing and sharper graphics, as it’s become a tradition, during the holidays, to go over to a high school friend’s house and shoot fireworks. each year, on his drive from alabama, he spends more money than the previous, ensuring that the displays improve. fear, perhaps, has always compelled me to take an ancillary role, limited to standing next to a heater with a sparkler dancing in my hand, until last week when i became a more active participant in the seasonal spectacle.

he and i lined the yard with pyrotechnics, lit them quickly, and ducked for cover. our family and friends looked on from the relative safety of the driveway and delivered the requisite ooohs and aaahs as they exploded with brilliant bursts of color. ash rained down on us.

for the finale, a block the size of a car battery fired successive blasts into the sky for upwards of thirty seconds. the last few streamed toward the ground, resembling palm trees.

our show lasted from eight until nine thirty on christmas day, yet we received a complaint in a neighborhood newspaper. a man wrote to the editor to say that not only had we annoyed him, we’d also rudely awakened his children. he wondered if we were breaking any laws, but didn’t provide any details, so the editor wrote, depending on the time, the kinds of fireworks used, and the location, it was possible that we were breaking state law or could be fined for noise violations.

obviously that man reads this blog, so let me direct a few sentences to him. your children, who you put to bed at seven thirty on christmas day, woke up hearing fireworks in the distance. they went to their windows and watched for an hour and a half, mouth agape, as the sky lit up. for that time, they were the happiest people in guilford county, but i completely understand how their incessant chatter about the amazing girandoles (their word, not mine — fucking educated brats) could be particularly annoying to you.

on the subject of dave grohl.

23 October 2008

i’m usually not the kind of person who gives his audience what they want, but there’s been an overwhelming trend on which i feel i must comment. over the last few weeks, solely due to this entry, a large portion of my readership has found this blog by typing something about dave grohl into search engines. honestly, i cannot comprehend this phenomenon — how is it that the man is this relevant? when did the foo fighters release their most recent album? (apparently echoes, silence, patience & grace came out 25 september 2007, not as far back as i would imagine) — but i relent nonetheless.

let me take this opportunity, then, to thank those that have discovered my writing after initially searching for dave grohl smoking, dave grohl hair, sexy dave grohl, dave grohl tattoo, dave grohl tribal tattoo, dave grohl tattoos, dave grohl wig (no doubt for halloween), and, my personal favorite, dave grohl crying — and have, thus, returned here again and again. keep in mind most of those phrases showed up multiple times (yes, four people want to see poor dave grohl weep).

let me please also take this opportunity to thank those that will inevitably come here in the future in need of the latest news and information  — and be disappointed. this site is quickly becoming the number one source on the internet for mentioning dave grohl yet not providing anything substantive about the man himself, not even rumors and speculation. i intend to keep it that way.

post script: now that i’ve given in to your demands, at least one of you needs to click on the link above and buy the album. i have bills to pay.

music notes.

22 September 2008

from the past week and this week:

1. i received in the mail some cds i ordered. there’s recent stuff from artists i’ve liked for a long time, including sparklehorse’s dreamt for light years in the belly of a mountain (i want to interview mark linkous on this site in the future), iron and wine’s the shepherd’s dog, which has some of the best cover art ever, and heretic pride by the mountain goats; i by the magnetic fields, which i owned in the past but lost in a tragic battle with a car cd player (i will soon be singing i thought you were my boyfriend over and over until the end of time); pulp’s this is hardcore, which i can finally stop pretending i have.

2. speaking of the mountain goats, they’ve released a song from their upcoming collaboration with kaki king, an ep titled black pear tree. the song thank you mario but our princess is in another castle is sung from the point of view of toad.

3. aside from attending two braves games in atlanta in early june and vigorously checking box scores to see how my fantasy team, the muffin nine, is faring, i haven’t paid much attention to baseball for years, so it’s somewhat surprising how many times i’ve listened to the eddie vedder tribute to the cubs. i like when art (i almost said high art but caught myself, because even using the term art in reference to pearl jam can be argued; not be me, but i’m certain it can) and sports intersect (someday i want to write the great canadian novel, about hockey, and sell about seven copies). plus i like eddie’s voice.

4. if anyone who reads this is going to the magnetic fields show in either raleigh (preferable) or atlanta in mid-october, please let me know, because i’d like some company.

5. i’ll be in atlanta this coming weekend to see stereolab on friday night at the variety playhouse and do many other non-music-related things around the city.

6. my friend made me a copy of kimberly denise jones’s lil’ kim’s album hard core as a joke, but i’ve been listening to it constantly. i bob my head even though i understand, and this is being generous, half of the lyrics. there’s at least one song where i cannot even comprehend the chorus. it doesn’t matter though, because there’s a vision i am unable to erase from my head when i listen to her music: lil’ kim and i having sex. she would be wearing these to cover her nipples and a wig, turquoise being my top choice. a bearskin rug would no doubt be involved. so, queen bee, if i may call you that briefly, let me make one thing clear: i’m not looking to settle down, have kids and white picket fences, i’m here, to quote your old friend biggie smalls, if i may call him that briefly, for a t-bone steak, cheese, eggs, and welch’s grape. i hope you know what i’m talking about, because i surely don’t.

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