Now That’s Just Unfair

Originally uploaded by rustedrobot.

Washington D.C. and portions of the rest of the country are abuzz over the public unveiling of Tai Shan, the Panda cub born this fall at the zoo in Washington D.C. and debuted to the press yesterday. My wife and I have both been sending the occasional link back and forth as we monitor the panda’s progress, taking special delight in one picture where the little panda was sitting in a tupperware container. Ridiculously cute!

However, sinister motives are at play in this picture. The cub is a mere 2 months old, yet they’re clearly sending the wrong message to our nation’s youth, letting him smoke a big fat joint like that. Poor thing is on an inevitable path to ADD, bad grades and lots of junk food now. I need to go down there and straighten things out.

Temporary Threshold Shifting Via Circumaural Cranium Wear

With all the time I spend on airplanes or walking from hotel-to-office in New York City, I’m on the lookout for a good, quality pair of noise-cancelling headphones for my Ipod. Does anyone have any recommendations? It doesn’t have to be one of those newfangled deals with all kinds of words like “Open and circumaural!” or “Dynamic Transducer Principle” or anything like that, but I also don’t want some cookie-cutter $20 pair, either. I’d probably like something in the $60-100 range that doesn’t have huge earphones that make me look like Princess Leia. Any suggestions?

So, one of the major gas/oil players is making a small, but fairly dramatic, move to alternatives/reneweables. BP (British Petroleum) has always claimed to be more forward-thinking in the alternative energy game, but a lot of it felt like BP just taking out full page ads in the major metropolitan newspapers to tell us about it. Now they seem to be acting on it, although James over at the alternative energy blog has the more telling information about the investment than the article in this morning’s Boston Globe does. Surprise surprise.

So, I’ve now learned what I assume are the six most common chords for the guitar and I am able to bounce around semi-effortlessly between the six, with the occasional embarassing screw up, of course. I suppose “occasional” is not the right word, as it’s probably more often than that. My confidence was shaken a bit by attempting to learn some fingerpicking via the instructional DVD, though. You can bang a chord out pretty easily, but if your finger is seemingly one centimenter out of place, you’ll make fingerpicking sound like you’re on the midnight train to William Hung Station. I may be ready to attempt a song soon….we’ll see.

Damn Right I’ve Got The Bleus

Originally uploaded by rustedrobot.

A classic example of my (sometimes) lack of attention to certain details became evident this weekend when I finally took the extra sixty seconds to read what actually makes up a Chicken Cordon Bleu dish. You see, it’s the damn French (“bleu”) that always turned me off, not because it’s French, but because I always just assumed that it meant the dish required blue cheese, one of the only cheeses which I truly despise (sorry Dad).

So upon putting in that “monumental” effort to actually read the recipe, it became clear that it was something I had to make. After all, the combination of chicken, cheese and prosciutto with a breadcrumb coating, all combined into one meal is obviously something I’m going to seriously regret having missed out on for 30 years (I don’t count the first four years of my life as I didn’t so much choose what I ate back then.

How ridiculously easy is it to make? Very. Think about it this way: two bowls: dry and liquid. For the liquid, take about an inch of butter (that’s how I measure butter), melt it, then combine it with two cloves of garlic and about 1/8th of a cup of chicken broth. For the dry, take 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs, grind up some parmesan cheese and throw some paprika on top. Keep the liquid and the dry stuff seperate.

Now, here’s the best part: beat the holy crap out of two chicken breasts until they’re flat, or about 1/4th of an inch in height. Drop a slice of prosciutto onto each breast and add some mozzerela cheese to it, roll that bugger up, drench it in the butter/garlic combo, then coat it with the breadcrumb combo. Place breasts seam-side down into a greased pan and cook on 350 for 20-23 minutes. Done. Simple and delicious. If you’re making four breasts, double the recipe. Thank me later.

To make up for lost time, I will make this every night for four years.

People Are Living On Dead-End Street

Egads. There’s a country song to be found here somewhere.

In other news, the story of the Florida Marlins really saddens me. I mean, I’m glad and all that the Red Sox have partially solved some of their pitching problems, but to have to do it by potentially robbing the Marlins blind of Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell is crap. It just screams classic “big market-small market” bullshit that makes the business of baseball what it is today: a second-class operation. Yeah, yeah, the devil’s advocates will tell you that in recent years, teams like the Diamondbacks, Angels and yes, the Marlins, won World Series titles against teams with larger payrolls and that much is certainly true. But those three teams weren’t exactly cash-poor either. Improvements have been made, but true parity is still an ocean away in MLB and the problem won’t change until there’s forced budgets – floor and ceiling – for baseball’s owners. They’re either too cheap and won’t spend anything or too egotistical and overspend. Adopt some kind of hybrid model that takes the best of the NHL deal and the NFL. Do something.

I’m a devoted Red Sox fan, but I can’t tell you how much I miss the days when a four-game series with the Kansas City Royals was a frightening prospect. Now the Royals elicit mere laughter and it breaks my heart as a baseball fan.

I’ve been on an ITunes album-buying spree lately:
Neil Diamond – 12 Songs
Dramarama – Everybody Dies
Wilco – Kicking Television (Live)
Billy Squier – Don’t Say No [a childhood favorite!]
Healthy White Baby – (self-titled)

Recently podded:
Son Volt – “Going, Going, Gone”
The New Pornographers – “Twin Cinema”
Fairport Convention – “Who Knows Where The Time Goes”
Elton John – “Jack Rabbit”
Elliot Smith – “Between The Bars”
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – “Deja Vu”
David Bowie – “Suffragette City”
Anders Parker – “Tell It To The Dust”
Billy Squier – “I Need You”
Todd Rundgren – “Slut”
Cary Hudson – “Bend With The Wind”
The Doors – “Back Door Man”
The Clash – “I Fought The Law”
Otis Redding – “Cigarettes and Coffee”

6 String Belief

Picture 002
Originally uploaded by rustedrobot.

It’s obvious if you’ve read even a week’s worth of material on this site that I’m pretty passioniate about music. A lot of people assume that I also play an instrument and when they ask if I play anythnig, I usually reply “not in front of anyone.” Truth is, I do not really play any instruments. I think about ten years ago I somehow acquired a classical guitar and Angry Johnny showed me a couple of chords (still unsure to this day if he taught me the only chords he knew, but I still love a lot of his music), so I noodled around on that for a few months, but it didn’t hold.

Last week I finally decided it was time to start anew and went out and purchased an Ibanez acoustic guitar. I was also this close (me holding my thumb and forefinger a centimeter apart right now) to also pulling the trigger on a banjo, but I figured, hey, one instrument at a time. It was difficult, though, as a local music store is closing shop and really having quite a sale.

So I bought a couple of books and a guitar-for-beginners type DVD thing and I’ve been learning the right way: chord by painful chord. In fact, I have not even attempted, nor considered, trying to learn a song yet. I just want to get the chords down and get comfortable with moving from chord to chord. As one might expect, it’s harder than you think. And yes, my fingers hurt. Played until my fingers bled, was the summmer of ’69, hey!

The jury is still out on whether or not this will be a passing fad, but it’s probably more healthy than watching TV. I have no visions of grandeur here, either, just a desire to pass some peaceful time now and again and have a smidge of proficiency. That’s all.