March 29, 2008

Berlín is Full of Master Bakers

I always said that if I had a ton of free time, I'd hang out and home and get really great at making bread. Well, I don't have a ton of free time, so my bread is merely "adequate." But that's OK for now. In any case, there has recently been a lot of cooking being done in Berlin, and some of it has made for interesting pictures. The one above is me making bread from a recipe that I found in Martha Stewart Living. Seriously. I'm not proud that I have the magazine, but I gotta hand it to the ol' bag: She's good. Martha is really good. So the other night I was making a bread from the magazine, as well as an eye-popping stew that is based on beef, potatoes, and Guinness. So, at least it's not something as sissy as a potpourri sashé or anything involving the word "cozy."

I know that this technically isn't baking, as it was never put into an oven, but this is the cake that Angela made me for my birthday. It's really tasty, and is based on cookies, cream, condensed milk, and lemon.

Cutting the cake with my trusty machete, which Angela gave me for my birthday last year.

The happy couple.

Speaking of birthdays, I've been trying to make some cakes recently. The one I tried to make for my birthday (which I wanted to take to work) got all screwed up, and ended up sticking to the pans. No matter, because it was still damn tasty, so seeing as we had 4 Argentineans visiting us at the time, we decided to just eat the whole thing with our hands. The cake in the picture above is similar to the one that I made for Abuela's birthday on March 25th (I didn't take a picture of that specific cake). She liked it a lot.

Here is a turtle-shaped empanada de chiverre, which is like a bread thing filled with spiced fruit from a gourd. Angela's sister Toni made it for me. It's also a traditional food in Costa Rica around Easter (although usually not shaped like a turtle...that was just because Toni is awesome).

This picture is totally unnecessary, except for the fact that it displays my robe, the Technicolor Dreamcoat, in all its splendor.

Here is the meal that I made with the Martha Stewart stew. It's also a tribute to my grandma, who has taken a picture of every family meal that we've sat down to since...well, probably the 1950s. I hear that my grandma reads this blog, and even passes it on to her friends, who enjoy it immensely. I am somewhat bothered by the idea that my grandma is reading my profanity-infused musings, but I am also happy that she enjoys them. So, hi grandma!

365: Picture a Day Project    365 Leftovers    All My Pictures    Sitzbook

Construction Sblog

Today I set up a new blog so that anyone who wants to can view the construction of our house. Since a "blog" is actually an abbreviation of "web log," I suppose that a "house web log" would be called a "sblog." So, I started a sblog.
In any case, we started the construction this past Monday, and so far...we have some ditches and some twisted metal. But that's the way it's supposed to look so far, I'm told. In any case, I'll try to put up a few pictures every week, since my family requested that I do so. There's a link to the blog on the bar to the left, or else you can go directly to
Hope you enjoy it (or at least don't hate it).
--The Management

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March 25, 2008

Something Something Superstar

(This was written in the evening on Sunday, which happened to be Easter)
Many people from the U.S. have been asking me recently what Easter is like in Costa Rica. This is my first Easter here, since I was in Colorado last year for the holiday (once again, I had to renew that stupid Costa Rican visa). In any case, I can report on a few things about Easter in Costa Rica.
First of all, the bulk of the Easter observance is during the so-called Semana Santa, or Holy Week. For many places in Latin America, this means a whole week of vacation, sort of like a religiously-tinged spring break. Many people go on trips, and some people, instead of going to the beach to flash their tits, stay in their own town to flash their rosaries at church, if you know what I mean (I mean “show religious piety and devotion”). In Costa Rica, though, most people don’t seem to have a full week of vacation (unless you’re a school kid, those lucky little rats). The company where I work is even less observant, seeing as it’s an American company that still needs to provide customer support service to American customers around the clock. In other words, when you call from the U.S. to complain about your credit card bill or broken cell phone charger, you make it so that Costa Ricans don’t get to stay home during national holidays.
But hey! I got Thursday and Friday off, so who cares about those losers answering the phones? Since we don’t directly attend phone calls as part of our job, all the English teachers in my department were given Thursday and Friday off. Thursday and Friday are called Jueves Santo and Viernes Santo, although they’re both etymologically unrelated to the legendary Santo, the famed Mexican Lucha Libre wrestler. It’s debatable how holy either Thursday or Friday actually are, but I can tell you that most of the stores were closed, at least.
Theoretically, the stores are closed on Holy Thursday and Friday so that people can stay home and pray, and then walk to church to pray some more. Evidently, in the past it was seen as very disrespectful to even drive a car in those days. But, those days seem to be fading quickly. In Berlín, many people went to masses, but Angela and I aren’t the most avid churchgoers. Angela stays away because she was forced to go as a child and also hates how the only reason most people go is to gossip and backbite, and I also generally sleep in on Sundays because I’m not Catholic, I probably wouldn’t understand Spanish mass, and I’m not even 100% sure that churches here do their thing on Sunday morning, anyhow. But, we pray and believe in God and all that, so at least we’re not the biggest bitches on the block. This all, by the way, is just a bit of background information, to help set the stage.
Now, the biggest difference here is that Easter…well, it seems to be missing. I know that in some places around the globe, people bitch and moan about the commercialization or even “Americanization” of holidays. In many countries, a gringo Santa Claus is replacing a Christ Child or Saint Nicholas as the bearer of gifts at Christmas, and Valentine’s Day seems to be increasingly prominent and stupid throughout the world. But Easter here? I expected at least something along the lines of, “Well, HERE we think about the TRUE meaning of Easter, and we don’t celebrate using that Great Satan Easter Bunny with his heathen ability to lay eggs.” But, I got nothing like that. In fact, I got nothing at all. Today is Easter Sunday, and my whole family was gathered in Colorado to celebrate Easter, my aunt Kathy’s birthday, and my birthday (I’m informed that they ate cake and ice cream for me…really, thanks a lot, guys).
In any case, since my birthday was last week, they called to wish me a belated happy birthday, and everyone I talked to on the phone asked me what we were going to do for Easter. Something like, “I don’t suppose they hide Easter eggs, but what DO they do to celebrate? They’re pretty religious down there, right?” Well, they don’t really do anything. I was out of things to do earlier today, so I went to the internet café—which was closed Thursday and Friday but open Saturday and Easter Sunday—and worked on putting pictures up on . We also went to Angela’s parents’ house to eat dinner, but we do that every Sunday night, Easter or not. I even noticed that on page 13 or so of the national paper, it mentioned that today was the “Sunday of the Resurrection,” but that was about the only Easter name-dropping I heard the whole week.
So what gives? I might be treading on shaky theological ground here, but it seems that if you have a religion that is literally entirely based on the idea that your lord and savior was raised from the dead, then you should probably recognize that idea somehow. But instead, the entire focus is on the betrayal (Thursday) and crucifixion (Friday) of Jesus Christ. The papers, news, and local chat were filled with descriptions of passion plays throughout the country, and many even carried around living “Jesuses” tied to crosses to make it “more realistic.” And apparently, many people were praying. Now, it might be a good thing that people are at home praying for a day or two, but in my opinion, it shouldn’t be out of shame or remorse. I have heard of so-called “Catholic Guilt” before, and although the people I’ve talked to in the last few days haven’t seemed particularly culpable, I can still easily see how such a phenomenon could arise.
It kinda makes me think of the musical Jesus Christ Superstar (but in a way, everything does these days). That musical is entirely focused on the last few weeks of Jesus’ life, as well as his crucifixion. And the Resurrection? Well, maybe it’s in the director’s cut, because it’s sure not in the movie. In that way, Berlín, Costa Rica is kinda like an Andrew Lloyd Weber musical from a parallel universe. I’m not trying to specifically promote Christianity or the Resurrection or anything here, but I’ve still been waiting for someone—anyone—to say something—anything—about their religion maybe mentioning something about a guy who came back from the dead, but I just haven't heard it. I know that religion is a deeply personal thing for many people, but I feel that many people call themselves Christians here, but only because that’s what their family has always practiced, and they’ve never taken the time to think about whether it’s right or true for them. And for me, the idea that habit or custom can so easily act as a replacement for conviction or actual thought is what really drives me crazy.
People of Costa Rica! People of the world! Hear my words! You must be passionate (no pun intended) for something or show conviction for something, and not just go through the motions because it’s what you’ve always done!
So sure, call it a bastardization or even blasphemy, but bring on the Easter Bunny! Bring on the Cadbury eggs! Bring on the scrambled egg and sausage casserole and annoying personal questions from the family! All those things may not be the “true meaning of Easter,” but for me they represent “Easter,” and at least they mean something to me. And if, during the day, I pause in my sugar buzz to consider that around 2,000 years ago, a man may have come back from the dead, then at least we’re getting somewhere.

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New Phone Number

Hey Everyone,
Not that anyone ever calls us (thanks a lot, by the way), but our phone number is different. The ICE, which is the company that provides Costa Rica with phone and electrical service, as well as being my arch-enemy, has added a "2" to all land lines. So, if you're calling our number from the U.S. or outside of Costa Rica, you'd need the country code of 506, then our phone number at 2452-3357.
So, now you can avoid calling that number.
The Management

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March 22, 2008

The Rumors About Comprimising Photos of Ryan Sitzman on the Internet Were TRUE!

What has two thumbs, wears short shorts, and exercises while playing Star Wars video games?


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Who'll Shave My Neck?

No, seriously, someone needs to do it. I can't ; I've tried and it just gets all lopsided. So, step up... c'mon, everyone's gotta take a turn, eventually.

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Che! Boludo!

Well, in the last year we have had people from three continents visit our little home (Actually, four continents, if you count Paul coming from Australia to our wedding). Can YOU say that about YOUR home? Of course you can, but in your case, it’s possibly lies, dirty lies. In our case, it’s true. But that’s OK; we’re not here to judge.
Anyhow, our latest guests were some wonderful Argentineans who arrived carrying goodwill and yerba maté and, after staying a few days and giving goodbye hugs, floated away on a cloud of cigarette smoke and colorful profanity. I really love Argentineans, and the two who visited are two of my favorites.
The people I speak of are Nacho and Julia, as depicted in the pictures below. When I was an exchange student in Germany 10 years ago (Holy crap! 10 years?!), I met a guy from Argentina named Andrés. In 2006, I visited Andrés in Argentina. During that trip, I met many friendly and wonderful people including Julia, who is Andrés’ sister, and Nacho, who is one of Andrés’ friends. So, although Andrés unfortunately could not come on this trip, Julia and Nacho could, and they stopped by our house for a few nights.
We did the standard Tourist Route around the area, but we also stayed around here some, too. While eating dinner at Angela’s parents’ house, Nacho explained to us all the physics behind flight by demonstrating with a napkin (and it finally made sense to me, actually), and Julia explained to us what engineers actually do. They also brought maté, the ubiquitous drink in Argentina that combines the mystique of drug use with the ritual of a Japanese tea ceremony, while actually being neither.
As a matter of fact, as I write these words right now, I am drinking maté that they left me, and let me say that I think it’s just great. In reality, drinking maté is akin to drinking green tea from a dried gourd, and although that sounds strange, it’s actually an integral part of the Argentine lifestyle. I had asked them to bring the materials necessary for drinking maté, but they told me that even if I hadn’t asked them to do so, they would have still brought their own maté “kits” for their own personal consumption. They also reminded me of the broader maté etiquette, while teaching me some of the finer points.
For example, if you’re drinking maté with friends, you all share the same gourd and the same metal straw. One person drinks at a time, and he or she drinks until there’s a slurping sound. At that point, it’s passed to the…well, I guess the matémaster…who refills the water and passes it to the next person. And so on. Also, you shouldn’t say “thanks” unless you want to indicate that this will be your last turn. I think that for me, it’s all so appealing because on the surface it could be so simple, but in the end it’s made quite complicated. In this case, the extra ceremony and etiquette can lead to a certain feeling of initiation; I suppose much like it would feel like being in a cult. At the same time, I also love that it’s something that’s deliberately slow and complex, and it causes you to take a break from the day and share that break with friends, if at all possible. Julia said that drinking maté is banned in many workplaces in Argentina, and I can understand why it would be troublesome, at least from a managerial perspective.

But look at me. Here I began talking about two Argentinean friends and their visit to Costa Rica, and I stereotypically end up talking about the cultural significance of maté to the Argentine cultural identity (and my understanding of this topic is admittedly at a “novice” level). It’s like having two Russians visit you, and when recounting the highlights of their visit, continually mentioning how great you think borscht is.
In any case, I digress. Julia and Nacho: thanks for visiting. Andrés: get your ass up here. Everyone else in Argentina: same to you.
Finally, once again, I will let pictures say a thousand (more) words:

Julia and Nacho in La Fortuna.

Here's a picture of the volcano Arenal that kinda freaks me out, for some reason. It sort of looks like it's from the pictures for the new Nine Inch Nails album.

Angela at the cafe in La Fortuna.

Nacho and Julia posing next to some coffee plants.

Here I am giving a nature demonstration: "This is a plant."

Nacho and Julia on one of the Hanging Bridges of Arenal (although this particular one isn't hanging).

This is one of the pictures that Julia left from her camera. I think it's the very cow that wakes me in the morning (and sometimes in the middle of the night) with its plaintive wails. It makes me wonder if Berlin is really as cow-torture free as its brochures proudly proclaim.

Nacho brought me a few matés, and here we are curing them with an ember from a fire.

Nacho, Julia, and I.

Julia took this picture of breakfast one morning, which makes me wonder yet again why people always take pictures of our breakfasts. Maybe it's the rice and beans, or maybe it's the synthesis of Costa Rica plus Argentina, with the gallo pinto (rice and beans) plus the maté (the thing in the lower left with the metal straw).

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March 15, 2008


Hi Everyone,
Well, the "A-Z Music Review Revue" has a new family member: The Letter J. I'll be emailing this review out sometime this coming week, but for now, the only way you can see it is at You can work your way into it, or you can also just follow this link.
Hope you enjoy it.
To Paul: mark it, dude.

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March 12, 2008

Teen Angst

While teaching my English class the other day, my students and I were having a warm-up conversation, and one of our “conversation starters” was, “If you could visit any historical period, which one would you choose?”
Now, this is one of my favorite ideas. I kind of hope and/or believe that when you die, you get to go to any place or any time in history, going through a sort of “Greatest Hits of Universal Existence Bonus Round,” as a reward for living a good life. That’d be interesting on quite a few levels. You could get front row seats for the Big Bang, chat with Jesus over a cup of coffee and a game of backgammon, heckle the slaves (or UFOs) building the pyramids, shoot the shit and chase skirt with Ben Franklin, take a dump on Hitler’s pillow while he’s out giving a speech, and you could even sit in a tree in Dallas and say, “Oh, so that’s who shot Kennedy!” At the same time, though, I have a feeling that if there’s a heaven and an afterlife, it’s probably got unimaginable concepts pulled straight from the mind of God and stretched out through the cosmos of creation and un-creation; basically, if you DO get a one-on-one with God after you die, He could probably show you things that’ll make riding on the Mayflower seem as significant as a fart from a squashed cockroach.
So, where am I going with this? It’s a roundabout way of bringing up the topic of Kids These Days. See, I was thinking that one historical period that I might like to see would be the Colorado of the 1500s. It would be long before the Europeans had made it west, and there might not yet have even been Indians in the area around Fort Collins, the city where I grew up. I would like to go there out of curiosity, mainly to see what the land looked like before anyone began living there. But then it occurred to me: The Future Fort Collins of 1501 would probably have nice views, but it would be really, really boring. That made me remember how, when we were teenagers, we always complained about how boring things were in our town, and deridingly dubbed it “Fort Fun” due to its lack of mental stimuli targeted at the teenage crowd.
The more I began to think about this, though, the more I realized that this is a fairly universal theme, and I notice it even more now that I live in Berlín. Berlín is a small, small, small coffee town that makes Fort Collins seem so glamorous and interesting by comparison that you’d think Metropolis had crashed into New York City. But the common thread is that as I drive home from work on Friday nights at about 11:00 pm, I pass various groupings of kids on the side of the winding, foggy roads. Strangely enough, I can never figure out how they even get to Berlín, because it’s generally a group of about five or six kids standing in a circle around a single guy hunched over the handles of a motorcycle. You’ll see about three or four such groups every weekend night. As far as I can tell, they just stand there and talk, while maybe ingesting some substance. Who knows, and who cares?
But then there’s this: I know that not all of these kids are from Berlín. I know this first of all, because it’s demographically impossible, and second of all, because some grown-ups that currently live in San Ramón have told me that when they were teenagers they used to come up to Berlín to hang out on the side of the road and chat. The conclusion: Berlín might be boring and as mentally stimulating for teenagers as a movie featuring Elizabeth Taylor, but judging by the crowds of budding hillrods hanging out on its curvy roads at night, it’s still better than San Ramón. For me, this idea is both profoundly unsettling and deeply comforting at the same time. Unsettling, because I’m no longer one of those teenagers, so I know that one day those little fuckers might stray onto my lawn, and I’ll have to chase them away while wearing my Technicolor Dreamcoat Robe. Comforting, because now in comparison the Fort Collins of my youth doesn’t seem as boring as the Berlín of today.
My conclusion? I still don’t know if you get an all-expenses paid trip through the cosmos of history when you die. But I’ll bet if you do, as you find yourself piloting the Millennium Falcon on its final descent towards the construction site of the Egyptian pyramids, you’ll glance to the side and probably notice a group of bored teenagers from Alexandria hanging around on the outskirts of Giza. And you’ll see that they’re smoking cigarettes and forming a circle around a guy hunched over the reigns of a dusty camel.

The kids are alright, but they're certainly bored.

365: Picture a Day Project    365 Leftovers    All My Pictures    Sitzbook

Oh, Brother.

As I’ve noted in previous postings, my sister Diana visited Angela and me in February. This was part of our campaign to attract people to our house by offering guests the comforts of a youth hostel, only with fewer drunk Australians and less athlete’s foot in the shower. Di specifically came here to pick coffee, but I daresay she got a great deal more fun out of Costa Rica than mere coffee picking can provide.
For example, she got to experience a time-honored tradition here called “wachiman,” which is the name that they give to the guys that guard your cars when you park them on the street. Generally, the wachimen are either drunks or annoying assholes, but sometimes you get one who breaks the mold and is an annoying drunken asshole. I only met one wachiman who I didn’t detest. He was a very cordial guy who had the wachiman beat on the south side of the block between the park and the Perimercados grocery store. He always wore his reflective vest, he always actually watched your car, and he always helped you park or un-park your car. Best of all, he didn’t reek of booze, so you could at least feel like you were paying him for a service, albeit rather pointless, instead of paying him off to not mess with your car while you’re inside the store.

But alas, my favorite wachiman apparently isn’t working anymore. It seems that he has been consumed by the streets, and in his void a power vacuum has appeared. So, one day we (Angela, Di, and I) went inside the municipality building, and as we locked up the car, my least favorite wachiman in the world appeared out of nowhere and boozily mentioned that he’d keep an eye on the car. Sure, thanks a lot, asshole.

Flash forward about twenty minutes, and we’re coming back out. Drunk wachiman number one has been replaced by drunk wachiman number two. But then drunk wachiman number one notices what’s happening, breaks off his conversation with three or four other drunk wachimen, and comes running over. Both number one and number two would now like a few coins for their good efforts, seeing as the car’s still safe, and miraculously hasn’t fallen victim to a random theft at noon on the busiest street in town.

Have you ever seen one drunk bum hit another drunk bum? Well, we have, and it’s not nearly as interesting as you might think it would be.

Sorry, I’m getting really off track here. I should be talking about my sister’s visit, and here I am bum-rushing you with a tangent (almost literally). In any case, it was nice for Di to visit, although I’m sure it was really boring for her much of the time. In fact, in her eyes, the bum hitting the other bum may actually have been the highlight of her trip. Who knows. She also certainly got in her Costa Rican Bureaucratic Bullshit Highlights Tour, since we were trying to finalize our house construction permits. And finally, she picked coffee. And she liked it a lot. I did, too. I had never actually picked coffee, either. I found it to be quite interesting, at least if you’re packing an ipod in your burlap sack. If not, it can be a very, very dull and very, very repetitive experience. It did give me much more respect for the workers who pick coffee year in and year out, and make a living on incredibly meager wages.

But hey! What is this, Amnesty International? Let’s have some pictures!

This is Di.

Di and I picking coffee. Notice the deep admiration in her eyes as she watches her older brother show her the ropes of coffee picking.

While Di was here, we visited Poás volacno. Here is Angela in front of the steaming volcano.

Me and my now-niece Yoselin, who helped us pick coffee.

Di with Maikol and Yoselin. You can't see it too well, but the text at the bottom of Maikol's shirt reads: "Happy on a wonderful reset kids trail." I love shirts like that.

365: Picture a Day Project    365 Leftovers    All My Pictures    Sitzbook

March 8, 2008

The Sitzmans Are Big In The Charlotte Chess Community

As you may know, my sister Di visited me and Angela about a month ago (I still have yet to post a few pictures or details of that, but I will one day). In any case, we went to Poás volcano one day, and when we were walking around the trails, we stopped and talked to a guy from Charlotte, North Carolina (or is it South Carolina?) named Leland. In any case, he was a very verbose fellow who taught us new words (ones that weren't bad, even), and he paid Di 2,000 colones because she knew how to spell the word "mnemonic" correctly. Sure, that's only $4, but I'VE never gotten paid to spell shit.
Anyhow, Leland told us that he was a chess master, and he told us about his website at And his story checks out. The site is a bit gaudy and has so much neon it looks as if a Chuck-E Cheeze restaurant crashed into a Times Square strip club. But still, it's a website about chess, so I guess you gotta attract people's attention somehow.
The point of all this? If you look at the message board, somewhere down the page, there's a message entitled "Had a ball in Costa Rica "Updated."" If you read that, at the bottom there's a note that talks about "Diana and her brother from Colorado." Here's a link to the picture, but needless to say, we're causing quite a stir in North and/or South Carolina, depending on where Charlotte it.

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Throw-Down Time

An Open Note to All the People Who Visit This Blog (aka “Dustin Colburn”):
You may have noticed that the links on the left of this page have been changing recently. I have moved some up and down, based on how current I deem them to be. You may have also noticed that my brother Paul’s blog slid off the list a while back. That wasn’t because of any blood feud; it was merely because he didn’t update it for about a year there. Well, now he’s got a new website, and it’s full of bells and whistles and shit, so you might want to check it out. The link is on the left, or you can access it directly at (but then quickly come right back here, or at least go to
Now, a disclaimer: On Paul’s site, there is a bit of shit talking done on the part of the third-born Sitzman, and that shit talking is directed towards me, the primogénito. As you know if you’re an avid follower of (a category of people which is sometimes also called “Andy Parsons”), that particular Ryan Sitzman-themed website was originally formed to provide a venue for my A-Z Music Review Revue. That was basically a collection of music reviews that I originally sent out by email, and then decided to sex-up a bit by making them cyberfied. Which worked for a while. But now…
Well, you may have noticed that the music review emails have been arriving in your inbox…a little less frequently, let’s say. But that’s not to say that I’ve forgotten about them, nor should you think that I’ve given up writing them. As a matter of fact (and this fact actually is true, unlike many of the “facts” I write on this site), I go into every weekend planning on writing a review. Unfortunately, I also leave every weekend without having written a review. I think that my problem is over-ambition.
The “current” review, “J,” is one that I’ve been working on in my head and even have begun to literally write. But, I bought the CDs over a year ago. Additionally, I have been buying more and more “J” CDs, and now I’m just overwhelmed. I’ve bought three Judas Priest CDs, two Elton Johns, a JEM, and a smattering of about 5 others. But basically, I’ve lacked the motivation to do anything besides listen to them on my ipod on my way to work (which I actually have been doing for the last two weeks, in order to be able to “write the J review this weekend”).
Well, now I have the motivation. Paul has started an A-Z music review, also. I think we should turn to the Bible for a little guidance here, and remember the story of Jacob and Esau. They were the two boys born to Issac. Esau, the one was born first, was all hairy, but at least he had the birthright. Esau is me. Jacob was the second to come out. That’s Paul. At one point Jacob swindles Esau out of the birthright because Esau trades it for some lentil soup and bread…Hmm…OK, here we go. Near the end of Issac’s life, both sons wanted the birthright, so while Esau was out hunting (something I do all the time), Jacob snuck up to his dad while wearing the skin of some dead animal. The hairy animal skin convinced Issac that he was blessing Esau, although he actually gave the blessing to Jacob.
So, what does this story teach us? First of all, that my memory retention of Bible stories is significantly lower than I’d imagined before. Secondly, it shows us that Paul has tried to steal my music review idea—my birthright, if you will—and use it as his own. Never mind that I stole it from him in the first place. That’s irrelevant. In fact, forget this whole parable. In any case, “Esau” is a total douche name.
Summary: Paul has thrown down the gauntlet. I will pick up the gauntlet and say, “Excuse me, little brother, you seem to have dropped this gauntlet.” Because frankly, I don’t know what the fuck a gauntlet is, and probably wouldn’t know what it was even if one were dropped before my feet. Which it is. So, not having a better emergency response plan, and Sitzco Amalgamated Enterprises, LLC, will respond with some new, improved, and altogether kick-ass content that’ll blow the bullshit off your face. Soon. Once I get good internet access. Until then, look at Paul’s site. But as you do, keep these questions in mind:
1. Does Paul’s site include a shrine to his dead cat?
2. Does Paul’s site have pictures from Argentina?
3. Is Paul’s site called
If you find that the answer to any of these questions is “No…Hey, what the fuck’s going on here?!”, then you should realize that although Paul’s site is “pretty,” in the end it’s simply just not
WWW.RYANSITZMAN.COM. Accept no substitutes (except this blog, maybe).

365: Picture a Day Project    365 Leftovers    All My Pictures    Sitzbook

Shake Ya Ass

5 songs that are lighting a fire under my ass, as well as a brief exposition on the burning sensations:

1. “Everybody’s Leavin’,” by Elkland. I got this tune from a CD that my friend Dustin loaned me. Along with about 1,000 other songs. So at first, I didn’t even notice this particular one. But one day it came up on the ipod’s shuffle, and I was hooked. I still have no idea who or what Elkland is, and even until I did a bit of internet checking the other day, I only knew this song as “Track 05” on the fictional CD entitled “Elkland CD from Dustin.” Musically, it’s some tasty techno-pop that’s hookier than a street corner in San Jose’s red-light district (which is basically most of San Jose at night, as far as I can tell). I also can’t really tell what the song’s lyrics are about at all (I even thought they were saying “everybody’s movin’” instead of “leavin’”), so my appreciation of this song is entirely sonic. But…so?

2. “Satellites,” by September. This is a song from September’s album In Orbit, which was passed my way by my friend Matthew. To get the full effect of this song, you really need to see the album cover while you listen to this track. Seeing this Swede’s big hair really makes you appreciate this song just that much more. And I mean “big hair” not in the skanky, wouldn’t-touch-it-on-a-dare, Amy Winehouse way; I mean it in the shampoo commercial, Farah-Fawcett-when-she-was-at-least-mildly-hot, ABBA Revival way. In any case, September’s hair and come-hither look on the album cover compliment the music perfectly. The song begins with a synthesized industrial drum beat that pounds and alienates you like a Kafka novel, but then almost immediately drops off to a dancy, popped-out song with semi-cheesy lyrics and vocals that sound slightly as though they’re sung by a warbling ghost (if that makes any sense). Overall, it’s kinda girly and kinda poppy...and that’s how I take my girlypop, thank you very much.

3. “Me and My Imagination,” by Sophie Ellis-Bextor. Speaking of girlypop…This song was also given to me by Matthew. As a side note, if you look at Matthew’s music collection, you experience a sneaking yet undeniable feeling that he probably goes to better parties than you do. In any case, this song, along with it’s ballad-y sister “Today the Sun’s On Us,” is definitely what you’ll find playing over and over in my head as I queue up in the cafeteria line. They’re both from Sophie’s newest album, Trip The Light Fantastic which, although quite enjoyable, seems to lack the two crucial elements of a truly immortal Sophie Ellis-Bextor album: 1) a really great dance song that can be overplayed by German DJs (see “Murder on the Dancefloor,” from the album Read My Lips); and 2) another great dance song that ultimately redeems the song mentioned in number one, thereby enhancing both songs and thereby making the whole album a feel-good listen (see “Music Gets the Best of Me”). Uh, where was I? Oh yeah. This song makes me think of escalators, for some reason.

4. “Shout at the Devil,” by Mötley Crüe. I’ve had this song for quite a while, but I never really paid it much mind until I finished reading “The Dirt,” which is a Crüe autobiography that Dustin recently lent me. For me, to be completely honest, reading about this band is generally more interesting than listening to their music. I am personally a Guns ‘N Roses guy, and I guess I’m just gonna stay that way. Vince Neil and Axl Rose both seem to be huge tools, but Axl somehow seems to be the people’s tool. Nevertheless, after completing the book, I was driven by curiosity to listen to some more Crüe, and this is just about the first song you’ll come across if you do a light perusal of a Crüe catalog (well, at least my Crüe catalog). To tell you the truth, the song is kinda loud, stupid, and overdone. But it’s solid fist-pumping music, and that totally cancels out the first three points. Rock on, boys!

5. “Bodysnatchers,” by Radiohead. This song probably should have lit a fire under my ass months ago when I bought the album In Rainbows from Radiohead’s website (yep, I was one of the dumbasses who paid for it--only $3, just to be nice, and to feel like I was helping out a band I loved—but a dumbass nevertheless). However, due to much-documented computer woes, internet malfunctions, and other general problems having to do with living in a technological black hole, I never really listened to this album until about a week ago. It’s definitely not the best song Radiohead’s ever done—for that, maybe try OK Computer’s “No Surprises,” if you don’t mind a soft song that’s literally based around a music box tune. Also, it may not even be the best song on this particular album; the jury’s still out on that one. But I can tell you what it IS: It’s possibly Radiohead’s best loud/fast song since OK Computer’s “Electioneering.” It’s a jangly, distortion-filled piece that from its first note hits you with high percussion and low guitars and makes you feel as though the song is literally pushing you through to its end, and when that end comes four minutes and two seconds later, you’re almost partially relieved, but mainly you just want to hear it again. I liked Kid A, Amnesiac, and Hail to the Thief as much as the next guy, but it’s good to hear that Radiohead can still serve up the cacophony just when you need it the most.

365: Picture a Day Project    365 Leftovers    All My Pictures    Sitzbook

Paul's Movin' Picture Shows

For those of you who don't know it, my brother Paul is currently studying film in Colorado. If you have a chance, I'd recommend checking out his videos so far. I think they're pretty funny. You can see them here, I hope.

365: Picture a Day Project    365 Leftovers    All My Pictures    Sitzbook

March 3, 2008

Totally Meeting My Production Goals

Yesterday during my break, my badge dipped into my coffee mug. That’s, like, the definition of synergy, right?

365: Picture a Day Project    365 Leftovers    All My Pictures    Sitzbook

Maiden Costa Rica: La doncella de hierro

(I wrote this article last week, but unfortunately, I don't have access to my blog from work, as it is blocked for being a "social networking site." So, here it is:)

If, by coincidence, you made a customer support call last Monday to one of 16 of America’s leading companies and if, by coincidence, that call was routed to the particular call center that I work at, then there was a good chance that the person that took your call was wearing an Iron Maiden T-shirt. And if, by coincidence, you made a customer support call to the same number and place on TUESDAY, there was only about a 1% chance that your operator was wearing a Maiden T-shirt.
The reason that a day makes such a difference is because last night (Tuesday) Iron Maiden played a concert in San Jose, reportedly their first ever in “Central America.” You may not have known it before, but in reality, many, many Latin American customer service operators are apparently total metal heads.
The excitement started back in November, when the band announced that their tour would make a stop in Costa Rica, and it accumulated constantly since then. Even La Nacion, a rather conservative newspaper that is the most “reputable” in the country, had been having Maiden updates and special articles for about a month, and even developed a special section of their website to cater to Maiden fans (and believe me, developing websites is NOT a Costa Rican specialty).
The anticipation grew even more on Monday, when Maiden’s plane Ed Force One (so named because of the picture of Eddie, the band’s skeletal mascot, which is on the plane’s tail) touched down at Juan Santamaria International Airport. The plane was piloted by Bruce Dickinson (yes, the Bruce Dickinson), the band’s lead singer who also, it would seem, is a pilot in his spare time (I even read in one of the articles in La Nacion that he once piloted a plane out of Israel full of British citizens trying to escape the intifada…oh, and he competes internationally in fencing competitions…in other words, this guy leads a more interesting life than you). In any case, hundreds of fans were waiting for the band at the airport.
Finally, for about a week now, people have been waiting in a line outside of Ricardo Saprissa stadium in order to be assured of a prime viewing area when the venue opened its gates last night. The papers were full of interviews with Maiden fans who had come from all over Central and Latin America to get a taste of some “música jévi metol.” Apparently hundreds of people came from El Salvador, many others chartered buses from Panama, and tour companies in Venezuela and Colombia even offered vacation packages that included plane and concert tickets and a hotel room.
And here at work, there was a noticeable shortage of black T-shirts, and the company’s absenteeism statistics will likely sharply skew skyward for February 26th.
I, for one, was unable to get tickets. I say it was because I couldn’t get off work (which is true), or because I was unable to convince my wife of the merits of going to a heavy metal concert (probably) filled with delinquents (which is also true). But still, last night at 10:00, as I waited on the highway for my bus to stop by and take me home, I couldn’t help but feel like I was definitely missing out on something cool across town.

365: Picture a Day Project    365 Leftovers    All My Pictures    Sitzbook