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(506) 223-1327         Published  Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2008, in Vol. 8, No. 10             E-mail us
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Paparazzi miss the best shots of all
On the trail of the almost famous in Papagayo

By Bryan Kay
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The Papagayo Peninsula is a gem. It shines brightly. But apparently not as brightly as the stars of the celebrity world it attracts.

For this cute little pocket of Guanacaste was center stage this month for the latest machinations of the celebrity glossy magazines and their fight for a revealing exclusive on the lives of the rich and the somewhat famous.

The big name on the scene was U.S. pop singer Ashlee Simpson, who readers may or may not have heard of. Or rather Ashlee Simpson and her boyfriend, Pete Wentz, a member of the rock band Fall Out Boy, who readers also may or may not have heard of.

The men with the long lenses were hidden among trees and bushes, their binoculars trained along the beach, surveying the scene several hundred yards away. They were patiently waiting for a glimpse of the young pop star strolling hand-in-hand with her beau.

The latest news to break around the Texas native — who apparently can also act — is that she and her rocker boyfriend may have gotten engaged for New Year. She was spotted with a ring on her engagement finger, sending the glossy magazines into frenzy.

Tip-offs that the couple were heading to Costa Rica for a post-New Year break had the publications scurrying to Liberia, hopeful of tracking down the pair. Celebrity stalking, like most journalistic endeavors, is no exact science, but it didn’t take a genius to work out they were heading for the ultra-exclusive Four Seasons resort on the Papagayo Peninsula.

A posse of paparazzi were already embedded at the scene in pursuit of another holidaying celebrity. They were then briefed to double up and capture a shot of the have they-haven’t they happy couple.

But the snappers, working for In Touch Weekly, had competition in tow. Life & Style Weekly, ironically owned by the same publishing group, had a man on the ground looking to snatch the exclusive from under the noses of their in-house rivals.

It all seemed rather tedious to most onlookers. But one paparazzi confided that although he was on the scene for In Touch, his shots would also likely end up in Life & Style. That revelation puts a slight dent in the notion of the so-called exclusive, but the philosophical snapper says the vicious nature of the thirst for celebrity shots means the dollar often screams the loudest.

It later transpired that Nick Lachey and Vanessa Minnillo were also staying in Papagayo. For those
paparazi one

not tuned into the celebrity Z list, one’s a pop singer and the other a TV presenter. The reason the glossies were so interested was because the former is the ex-husband of Ashlee’s slightly better known sister Jessica.

“That would be very interesting,” said one glossy insider, apparently suggesting sparks could fly if the two couples bumped into one another. Not that anyone in the vicinity noticed, said sources at the scene.

So what about these big names the paparazzi were there to shoot?

“They’re not that great are they?” said the snapper. “Half the people here probably have no idea who they are.

“These two are not very mature. I couldn’t believe they actually came out to the pool on their first day. This game is just one big fallacy. (Celebrities) complain they’re being followed, but they need me more than I need them. They get their picture in a magazine — they sell records. I’ve had publicists on the phone telling me where their client is going to be. I’ve had apologies from celebrities whose security have roughed me up.”

Indeed, most hotel workers spoken to had no idea who Ashlee and Pete were. One wrongly thought her sister Jessica was staying at the hotel, but couldn’t be sure. Others suggested celebrity guests were Argentine soccer legend Maradona, an unknown German soccer player and an American baseball captain. No one ventured Ashlee and Pete, never mind Nick and Vanessa (Vannick, as one glossy gushingly referred to them).

Ashlee and Pete left Papagayo after just over three days, less than 24 hours after two snappers were involved in a scuffle with security personnel near the hotel.

The paparazzi posse had been embedded for over a week and left the same day as Ashlee and Pete. Their eyes were permanently focused on possible sightings of the stars. Yet they missed the biggest star of all. Papagayo.


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3437-4/1/08
Another trade treaty bill
gets legislative approval


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Asamblea Legislative gave the first round of approval Monday to a law that would protect innovations in plant species. The measure had become a lightning rod for objections by those opposed to the free trade treaty with the United States.

The measure is part of the basket of bills that must be approved for the treaty to take effect in Costa Rica.

The vote was 34 to 17 with members of the Partido Acción Ciudadana and two independent lawmakers voting no. In order to become law, the measure needs to be passed again in voting during a non-consecutive day.

Despite their opposition to the bill, Acción Ciudadana facilitated passage by not leaving the room and breaking the quorum.

The measure is fairly straight forward. It allows those who originate new plant species to profit from their discovery for from 20 to 25 years.

Opponents said they objected to the concept of putting a patent on life. They also said that Costa Rica would become dependent on foreign providers. Some opponents have received permission from the Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones to seek signatures to put the issue to a referendum.

The rhetoric drifted far from facts. Some have claimed the measure would destroy agriculture and prevent farmers from using their own seeds the following year. In fact, a lot of the seeds used in agriculture are hybrids that do not breed true. Farmers have to purchase new seeds each year anyway if they seek to keep their crops uniform.

Park entry fees go up
in time for high season


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Arias administration raised national park fees in December, but the increases only became known Thursday when the extensive lists of parks and reserves were published in the La Gaceta official newspaper.

In general, Costa Ricans and residents will have to pay about 1,000 colons ($2) for each day they visit such areas, but adult foreigners will have to pay $10 a head. In both cases, the new rates are about 40 percent higher than last year. And at some locations the fee for both residents and foreigners is higher.

For example in the marine section of the Parque Nacional Santa Rosa foreigners pay $15 a day while citizens pay 1,100 colons, according to the decree.

The rates went into effect Jan. 2, just in time for high season.

The Costa Rican Constitution promises foreigners the same rights as citizens, except there is an allowance for passing laws such as the park entry fees that can set differences.
Only for entry to the Parque Nacional Marino Isla del Coco do all visitors pay the same. That fee is $25.

The decree also sets fees for filming in national parks. That can be from $300 to $1,000, and there is a list of prohibitions, such as a ban on cigarette commercials. There also is a schedule of anchorage fees at beaches of national parks.

The parks are administered by the Ministerio de Ambiente y Energía.

Tamarindo drivers warned
about work on main road


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Drivers in Tamarindo are being asked to be patient as the main road through the beach town undergoes repairs.
The road will be down to one lane and at other points entirely shut from Pizza Hut until the Langosta turn off.

Works, which are being funded by developers in the area, Grupo Diria and the municipality, will go on for 45 days. Topographers began measuring the road Jan. 7 and roadworks began at the end of last week.

Most of the work will take place at night, and a schedule will be available shortly to allow travelers to avoid driving through town during times that the road is closed.

The municipality is asking that drivers refrain from parking on the road while work is in progress, and that they park further away and walk to their destination instead.

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Fuerza Pública detains 5 in flat-tire robbery of U.S. tourists
By Elise Sonray
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Police captured a car full of men who are suspected of robbing four tourists Monday morning, said officials.

Two couples from the United States noticed a flat tire as they were driving through Alajuela in their rented Toyota Prado, said a spokesperson for the Fuerza Pública. The party stopped at Parque Nacional de la Cultura Agropecuaria and started to change the flat. Unbeknown to the tourists, someone had punctured the tire earlier that day and was watching, said officials.

“They were probably stopped at a gas station or inside of a store when the men did this,” said Randall Picado, chief of Fuerzá Publica in Alajuela. 

As the tourists were attempting to change the tire, a group of men approached them and robbed various cameras, two suitcases and personal documents, according to officials. Police officers apprehended the suspects about 20 kms. (12 miles) away from the scene, said Picado. The five have the last names of Perdomo, Chacón, Maryorga, Soleta and
Sotela. Perdomo had refugee status in Costa Rica, and Galinado was denied a residency request, said immigration officials.

Both men have been detained previously for similar crimes said Kattia Chavarría, head of the Policía Turística. Chacón had a pending solicitation for refugee status, and another suspect, arrested previously on similar charges, also had a pending residency request, said officials.

All items, except a few personal documents were returned to the two couples, who were on their way to the Quepos area, said Picado. This flat-tire scheme is somewhat common in Costa Rica, and many times is targeted at travelers with rental cars.

What appears to be different in this case is the distance from the San José Metropolitan area. The park is in San Mateo, which is north of Orotina and nearly to the Pacific coast.

Typically this scheme of the punctured tire has been used in the vicinity of international airports where vehicles are rented. However, police have beefed up patrols in those areas.


Shutdowns in Tamarindo generally met with positive praise
By Helen Thompson
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Officials will be back in Tamarindo Wednesday, only a few days after they shook up the town by closing down 11 businesses and issuing sanitary orders to 65 more.

Ministerio de Salud personnel have been scouring the beach town for the source of the notorious ocean pollution that came to light in tests published by Instituto Costarricense de Acueductos y Alcantrillados in October.

Names were not available for the businesses shut down by the ministry, as they are entering into a legal process to appeal the ministry's decision.

“I think there is very little chance of these businesses winning the appeal and being allowed to re-open,” said Federico Amador, executive director of Asociacion Pro Mejoras Playa Tamarindo. “The health ministry made thorough checks and found contamination in some of these places. Others simply do not have the correct permits to make their businesses legal.”

Water found to be unfit for human bathing sparked the in-depth ministry of health evaluation of Tamarindo's businesses, which began in November.

Decisions were based on information provided by the
businesses themselves about their sewage treatment provisions and many other aspects of their day-to-day processes. The ministry then made visits to the businesses to check the truth of the information and insure the businesses were fulfilling legal requirements.

Businesses spared the shame of closing their doors to the public were quick to praise the health ministry's efforts to clean up the town.

“This comes at a good moment because we still have the opportunity to solve this problem,” said Diego Araya, operations manager at Hotel Capitan Suizo, Tamarindo, which was not issued a sanitary order. “We see these closures positively because the businesses were not acting correctly, and we hope the ministry of health will continue to attach importance to these breaches of the law in the future.”

Only 31 businesses were given the all clear, and another 13 have not yet been visited by the ministry.

Officials will be in the town from Wednesday until the end of January, during which time they will make return checks on businesses that were issued with a sanitary order requiring them to make dramatic changes within a month. 

If businesses have failed to make necessary alterations, they also face closure.


British Embassy sponsoring an environmental road show for students here
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Living in San José, one could be forgiven for thinking that cities are the very opposite of environmental sustainability. Urban activity creates the pollution and uses up the energy resources, rather than working to remedy these problems.

The ZeroCarbonCity is, however, about to be demonstrated to Costa Rica in a roadshow funded by the British Embassy that will travel to various educative institutions throughout the country.

A poster exhibition of striking photographs from around the world showing ways in which climate change is affecting the world's geography, from melting ice caps to massive drought, the NorthSouthEastWest exhibition will be shown to school and university students at institutions like EARTH University, Universidad de Costa Rica and Universidad Nacional.

Alongside the images of disaster will be examples of adapted lifestyles and energy production methods such as fuel cell technology, effective public transport systems and carbon capture and storage to inspire students to think about
ways to make future urban areas sustainable and environmentally friendly.

The exhibit has already traveled around the world. It started out in Britain in 2005 and made its way to around 60 countries including Mexico and Brazil. Then the exhibit was loaned to the British Embassy in Costa Rica by the British Council.

A feature unique to the Costa Rican verion of the exhibition will be the addition of Earth Odyssey, a virtual spectacle that was put on at the Universidad de Costa Rica's planetarium in December, raising 175,000 colons ($350) for the planetarium's outreach fund.

In consequence, children from a school in Santa Cruz, Guanacaste, will be able to visit the planetarium.

Earth Odyssey is about a girl fighting for survival in Puntarenas after it has been flooded by the rising ocean 40 years from now, and the original soundtrack was written by British Embassy employee Bruce Callow in collaboration with artist Pablo Luna. The show enjoyed high demand, so Callow intends to repeat it in the next couple of months.


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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday,  Jan. 15, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 10

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QE2 will visit here in April
as part of her farewell tour

By Anne Clark
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff


The Cunard Line's Queen Elizabeth II will stop in Costa Rica for the last time in April before it becomes a luxury floating hotel in the United Arab Emirates.

The passenger liner is making a final world tour before bidding adieu.  It departed New York Monday and is en route to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for a scheduled docking Wednesday.

After Florida, the boat will continue heading south — way south.  Its intended route takes it all the way through the Strait of Magellan, South America, and over to the South Pacific.  There are 29 stops between now and April 6, when it will dock in Puerto Moín, on the Caribbean coast.

After the South Pacific, Australia and East Asia, the boat known as the QE2 makes it to Central America.  It passes through “the Eighth Wonder of the World,” the Panama Canal April 5, docks in Cristóbal and then heads to Costa Rica the following day. 

QE2 concludes the three-month tour April 12, returning to New York.  It goes out of service in November, said Cunard. The QE2 was sold as a hotel for $100 million.
Queen Elizabeth II
Cunard Line photo
The Queen Elizabeth II


Freed Colombian hostage says she brings evidence that more captives are alive
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Former Colombian politician and hostage Consuelo González has returned to Bogota with what she calls evidence that eight of her former fellow captives are still alive. It is not clear which hostages are involved.

A grateful González said Monday she is intensely happy to be home after being held for nearly six years by the rebel Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia.

Ms. González and another Colombian politician, Clara Rojas, were freed last week following mediation by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.

Meanwhile, the United States has rejected the call by Chávez to stop labeling the rebels as terrorists.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Monday that the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias has earned its way onto the list of terrorist groups.

The spokesman said he is unaware of any substantial changes in the rebels' behavior that would merit it being dropped from the list.
Chávez last week described the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias and a smaller Colombian rebel group known as the Ejército de Liberación Nacional as insurgent armies with political goals he said should be respected.
Colombian President Álvaro Uribe rejected the suggestion, saying in a statement that the two rebel organizations are terrorist groups because they use force against a democracy and finance drug trafficking.

Meanwhile, Colombian authorities say Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias guerrillas have kidnapped six tourists from a Pacific island, adding to their more than 700 hostages.

Separately, U.S. Rep. James McGovern, who is in Colombia, said he would travel wherever necessary to meet with the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias if he thought it would help in getting more hostages released. He repressents the Third district of Massachusetts.

The Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias has been fighting the Colombian government for decades. At least 40 high-profile hostages are in rebel custody, including three American defense contractors and former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt. Ms. Rojas was kidnapped with Ms. Betancourt in February 2002.


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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 10


Young rockers forge cultural links, even if no one was there to see it

By Anne Clark,

of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Cross-cultural dialogue is not confined to the United Nations. 

It can occur anywhere, with anyone, in any medium and Quepos proved this last weekend at Costa-Bazooka, an international music festival.  18 bands from the United States, Costa Rica and Mexico jammed until five o´clock in the morning, beginning Saturday at 2 p.m.

The virgin music festival is the brainchild of Bruce LaPierre, a concert promotor from Boston.  He recruited many of the American bands
himself and said, "The best part about this whole thing are the friendships with the Costa Rican musicians.  We´re intertwined now."

Mauni Villa, a 21-year-old guitarist of San Jose´s own Akasha, also emphasized this. "We´ve made a lot of friends," he said.

The talent was young, fresh, unfettered with record deals and excited about the opportunity to play an international scene. 

It wasn't uncommon to hear the exclamation "We just got our passports!" emanating from backstage.

Over half of the band members of Street Circus Symphony, from Savannah, Georgia, and one member of Endway from Boston, Massachusetts, received expedited passports in 24 hours. 

"We didn´t actually believe we were going to be playing in Costa Rica until we were on the bus here from San Jose," explained Ben Bowne, bassist for Street Circus Symphony.

The musicians´ collective excitement was palpable.  Most of the bands began playing as soon as they hit ground in Costa Rica and weren´t planning to stop until they left. 

Gino V., guitarist and vocalist from Before the Fall, said after their warm-up performance, "We did a show in San Jose, we did one in Quepos last night and we have another one in San Jose in a couple days."

LaPierre explained that the collection of bands had
already played eight shows in the week they had been in Costa Rica.

"We´re going to a bar after this and we´re going to play all night long!" proclaimed Bowne from Street Circus.

"We love life and love playing music," added Endway´s shirtless drummer Scott James,  immediately after their first performance.

As most of the talent was young and unsigned,
defectoband
A.M. Costa Rica/Anne Clark        
Mexico city's Defecto was a last-minute addition to
the bill at Costa Bazooka in Damas, near Quepos


enthusiasm over the size of the set-up abounded.

"The youngest bands are pretty young," LaPierre said,
"This one from San Jose, Infinitus, they couldn´t be
more than 18. All the bands told us they were most
excited about playing a big set-up."

Shortly after this statement, the Ben Jammin Band,
local to Quepos, interrupted LaPierre to thank him for
the experience, saying, "That was the loudest three
songs we´ve ever played!"

And a big set-up it was.  But while the gorgeous
tropical venue was expansive, the crowd size was not.
With such a high energy performance show and
friendly bands that were easy to meet as they walked
the crowds eager to greet their fans, it´s a shame more
people didn´t go to give them that opportunity. 

However, the bands still seemed excited to be in Costa
Rica, unconcerned with the crowd size and optimistic
about their musical futures.

To read the reactions of Quepos residents to their first
Costa Bazooka experience, click HERE!

endway band
A.M. Costa Rica/Anne Clark
Endway, a band that hails from Boston, Massachusetts, gave it their all at Costa Bazooka Saturday


Art Galleries ....

Imagen V show has a few gems but a pack of clinkers, too

videoartshowNew media art is always a bit hit and miss with the potential to come across as a foundationless piece of pretension if it is not done well.

The Bienal Iberoamericana Inquieta Imagen V, a competition for video artists from across Latin America, is a good example of this, containing a few pieces that engage well with the subject and make the most of their medium, but many that leave the viewer cold.

Most of the works are video projections, some as short as a pistol shot and the flight of birds and some as long as a didactic letter that teaches about identity, isolation and fuschia flowers.

Other media range from photography and animation to Internet blogs and ancient video games.

Out of almost 200 entries from 13 different countries, 37 were chosen to fill the spaces of the Museo de Arte y Diseño, and some of them leave a viewer wondering what was so awful about the rejected works.

The vast majority of entrants were Costa Ricans, and works were chosen for show to create a panorama of Spanish-American works that is accessible to both the public who have engaged with technolgical art before and those who are encountering it for the first time.

Five works won cash prizes, including an undeserving triptec of photographs showing poor Nicaraguans searching through a dump to find articles that give some beauty to their lives.

Not an original idea nor interestingly photographed, the series was praised for using the presence of children to humanize a degrading situation.

One projection's entire focus is a sequence of slightly blurred changing Christmas scenes, seemingly chosen only for its fittingness to the season, and several others that were too bland to make any sort of impression on the memory.

Read more - click here


Mistaken identity? No such thing, says new exhibition

historiaoficialCosta Rica is a land of volatile volcanoes, orchids, coffee fincas, Catholicism and Ticos.

Or you could say it's a country of wide seashores, football stadiums, fast food restaurants and beach towns overtaken by Gringos.

Some are clichéd symbols of a tourist nation, while others are part of the country's changing culture, but all are involved in Museo de Arte Costarricense's new exhibition that challenges viewers to reconsider their own perceptions of the nation.

Read more - click here

Oriental engravings brighten up Semana
Japonesa
in Calderón Guardia

Japanese artOriental engravings that have travelled half way across the world from Japan have ended their journey in Museo Calderón Guardia, where an exhibition of 75 works was inaugurated Thursday.

Subjects from autumn trees to high-rise apartments chart the growing influence of the West and development on post-war Japan.

Read more - click here

Banco Central exhibit brings out the animal
in art

free standing art 200The Museos del Banco Central de Costa Rica is running "La Animalística en el Arte Costarricense" in its temporary 
exhibition space below
the Plaza de la Cultura. The collection presents the varying uses and depictions of animals by Costa Rican artists throughout history.

The exhibition signage placed at the entrance said that the presented works depict animals from two perspectives.

Read more - click here

Dramatic Arts ...

Minotaur theme wins contemporary dance festival

bull headed man The search for happiness within ourselves rather than in superficial external objects was the theme of the winning dance at the 24th Festival de Coreografos this weekend.  A bull-headed dancer took the centre of attention of Antonio Corrales' piece “Solo sueña un minotauro,” presented in front of an international board of judges Sunday.

The judges said that the composition stood out from the other nine contemporary dance acts for its "good choreographic approach, good line, good idea, excellent lighting design,  continuity with symbols and finally poetry.”

Corrales was both the choreographer and the dancer of the piece, which is the first entry he has made into the competition as a choreographer.

Four other acts were also chosen to participate in the opening night of next year's festival: “Imágenes imaginadas para imaginar, serie I,” by Rogelio López, “Mil kilómetros” by Nandayure Harley, “MIA ZOI,” by Iréni Stamou and “4 a.m.” by  Silvia Ortiz and David Hernández.



Symphonic Conductor is a big supporter of music education

A mugging at gunpoint could have robbed Costa Rica's Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional of its new conductor just as he was beginning the job, but the conductor, Chosei Komatsu,
did not turn his back on San José, and now the next generation of musicians is feeling the benefit.

Eating ice cream in the same hotel outside which he was mugged in 2004, the sweet-toothed conductor recounts how the media assumed that he would flee the country immediately.

"I told them I would fulfill my job," he said. "Musical education conductor Chosei Kamatsu can help to abate the rising violence in this country. I want to put violins instead of guns into the hands of the children."

Last month Komatsu saw a big step forward, as the government of his home country, Japan, finally agreed to a $500,000 donation to the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional and the Instituto Nacional de Musica.

The money, which Komatsu asked for when he was appointed in 2003, has gone towards replacing 25-year-old tubas and other important instruments for the orchestra, as well as getting better facilities for the educational institute.

Komatsu said he knows that it is important to get children interested from a young age, as he first became determined to follow a career in conducting as a 4-year-old watching Austrian conductor Herbert von Karajan in action on television.

Read all of our interview with Chosei Komatsu here

Food ...

Festive season proves troublesome even for established restaurant

vealBeing a chef in a busy kitchen must be a pretty stressful job, but around Christmas stress is something any successful restaurant should factor in as inevitable.

On a second visit to well-reputed French restaurant Le Chandelier, it soon became obvious that the staff were poorly equipped for the onslaught of Christmas party diners on a Tuesday night, leaving the usually decent food to deteriorate into a procession of almost inedible starters and bland entrees.

Set in an old San Pedro house with brick ceilings and wooden beams that was converted into a restaurant around 15 years ago by Swiss owner Claude Dubuis, Le Chandelier purports to offer French cuisine that has been developed over generations of experience.

Click here to read the full review


A great meal is not all in the presentation

musslesandfondue120407With a vaulted glass ceiling, palm trees lining the pathway and posh lighting, one would not expect Saga restaurant to be settled behind a dull parking lot in Escazú.

Although this restaurant may look out of place, it doesn't deviate much from the norm in Escazú, an area many would classify as suburban sprawl.


The majority of the cuisine at Saga seems to fit with the setting: classy presentation, yet lacking any profound flavors. Although the restaurant boasts itself as an “international food restaurant” on its Web site, much of the inspired cuisine is lacking the depth which would be found in authentic dishes. There is no direct theme and the menu seems somewhat scattered.

Click here to read the full review
Festivals ...

Welsh festival brings stars of the page to Colombia

Welsh graphic of Walker
Alice Walker
There is a town in Wales that is full of books. On every corner of every cobbled street there is a store with second-hand books spilling from its wooden shelves, and often several on the stretch in between.

Each year, this little town in the foothills of the Black Mountains — usually a haven of peace for a quiet cream tea down by the river — becomes a pilgrimage for the literary, intellectuals and
people who just love a good read as it holds Britain's greatest festival of books, the Hay Festival.

Last year the festival, which sees a collection of the world's leading authors, poets, musicians and speakers gather to share their thoughts and works with the reading public, was transported across the ocean to an equally attractive little town with the added bonuses of sun and sea.

Read more - click here

First International Blues Festival

Texas blues bands are heading down to Santa Ana for an afternoon of live music. BBQ's and cold beers will accompany artists including Smokin Joe Kubek & Bnois King and Robbie Clarke & the Live Wire Blues Band.

Two stages at Motorpsychos Bar and Grill will host a total of seven bands during the afternoon of Feb. 9. Tickets cost $25 and can be found by contacting www.bluesdevilsband.com.

Identidad Art Festival

Fifty artists will have the enviable job of displaying their work on a warm beach in Guanacaste this February, as part of the Identidad Art Festival.

Hosted by Playa Conchal Reserve, the festival aims to revive the cultural values of the area, promoting local art as a tourist attraction.

Painters, sculptors and musicians are all welcome to participate and show off Costa Rican talent to the high season tourists during Feb. 2-4.

 Interested parties should visit the site www.myspace.com/identidadartfest.
Books ...

New book dwells on the social aspects of food

Food is not just a selfish pleasure or a way to stifle hunger, but is central to the evolution of art, according to a new book published by Museos del Banco Central.

Artworks by Costa Rican painters are the main content of the hardback book, “Imagenes para Comer,” which follows the representation of food in art since still life painting became popular in the Renaissance.

Full-color pictures of both traditional and modern works are far more common than recipes, as the author Marjorie Ross only provides seven recipes within the book.

All are traditional Costa Rican dishes showing influences from different sections of the community, such as corn fritters, white beans and chorizo and fruit salad.

The book focuses on the meanings that food has within society, and how these are portrayed by art.

Click here to read more


imagenesparacomer

Front cover of art cook book

When would it be smart to fold your hand with three queens?
I recently played in a $25-50 no limit hold’em game online.  The hand discussed in this column was interesting because it taught a valuable lesson regarding position, the board cards and reading betting patterns. 
 
At a full table, the first player decided to limp in (call the big blind rather than raise) from under the gun.  The button also called.  I was in the small blind holding Qh-8d.  I called, too, since I already had half the bet in the pot.  The big blind checked.

Four of us took the flop: Qh-Qd-4c.  Bingo!
 
Hoping to pick off a bluff, I tried to disguise my trips by checking.  The next two players also checked but the button bet $150.  I didn’t raise.  Instead, I just called so that I could gauge the interest of the other players.

The player under the gun also called and that had me worried.  Yes, I flopped trips but my kicker wasn’t very good.

My thinking was that the original bettor could have had a wide range of hands and might have been trying to steal the pot.  Also, the other player probably had a strong hand because he called the first bet even after I had called.

The turn card was the 10s.

I checked again.  The players after me also checked, so I felt like there was a decent chance that I had the best hand.  I’d know soon enough if the limper was planning to check-raise the turn with a better hand than mine.  He didn’t.
 
The river brought the Js.  That card filled the straight for anyone with A-K. 

The good news, though, was that the jack nullified my kicker.  My hand was now Q-Q-Q-J-10 rather than Q-Q-Q-10-8.  Still, I took the cautious route and checked. 

The first limper bet $400 and the button folded.  With $650 already in the pot, I was getting pretty decent odds on my money, about 2.6-to-1.

What’s the right play?

Well, most players in this situation see only the strength of their own hand and think, “I have trips. I have to call.”   They act on impulse.

That’s not the right way to act in this situation.  It’s much better to break down the hand in a way that allows you to



make an educated decision.  Take the time to ask yourself two key questions.

Could my opponent have the same hand as me? 

Not likely.  Remember, he called from first position.  Most players under the gun act conservatively.  If he had a queen, he’d likely have a ten, jack, king, or ace to go with it.  So, a split pot is extremely unlikely.

What hands would my opponent play in this manner that I can beat? 

First, try to determine the premium hands that you can beat.  Maybe he was slow playing pocket aces or pocket kings before the flop.  Those would be the only two big hands that you can beat.  On the other hand, if he limped in with big slick, the river card made his straight.   
 
Next, try to figure out how likely it is that your opponent has one of the hands you can beat.  If, for example, you think you’ll have the best hand about 40 percent of the time, then the pot would definitely be laying the right price for you to call.
 
But that wasn’t the case in this hand.  In fact, based on the information available, I thought my chances of winning were closer to 10 percent.  So, I folded my trips.

The other player, incidentally, had A-Q and would have had the winning hand, but that’s irrelevant.

The important lesson is to slow down, and collect and analyze the available information before you make critical poker decisions.  There’s just no need to act impulsively.

Visit www.cardsharkmedia.com/book.html for information about Daniel Negreanu’s new book, "Hold’em Wisdom for All Players."
© 2007 Card Shark Media.  All rights reserved.


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