Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Into This World We Are Thrown

I remember listening to WRIU late at night a few years ago and catching the end of an hilarious uptempo, latin style cover of The Doors' Riders on the Storm. I decided to figure out who was behind this delightful piece of nonsense tonight and quickly found my answer - it's from SeƱor Coconut and his orchestra. Here's a homemade YouTube tribute to the song.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Jazz Hands

The 2010 Newport Jazz Festival lineup was just announced. I'm pleased to see that last year's nod to the adventurous side of the genre wasn't a fluke. I'm very pleased to see that Ken Vandermark was invited back, this time with his Powerhouse Sound ensemble. I'm really looking forward to seeing them live in concert for the first time. Some other notables are Marshall Allen-Matthew Shipp-Joe Morris, the Matt Wilson quartet, and Herbie Hancock (all slated to perform on Sunday, along with Powerhouse Sound). I know where I'll be on August 8th.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The District 9!

We recently watched The Informant! and District 9 on consecutive nights. Watching these very different movies in such close proximity highlighted a lot of unexpected similarities between the two movie's main characters that I doubt I would have noticed had I watched the movies even a few weeks apart. For starters, they both work for companies known by three-letter abbreviations of their full names, but I'm sure that's just a coincidence. On a deeper level, both protagonists wind up in trouble in part due to their own naivety and both put in a sincere effort to make things right in ways that don't fit into their respective society's expectations.

In the spirit of truth being stranger than fiction, The Informant!'s Mark Whitacre is less believable than District 9's Wikus Var De Merwe, even though Whitacre is a real person. Despite his intelligence (or perhaps, because of it), he seems incapable of understanding the reality of his situation. Var De Merwe, on the other hand, quickly comes to grips with his situation despite being portrayed as fairly dim-witted (though to be fair, his situation is a bit more pressing than Whitacre's). Overall, I enjoyed District 9 a little bit more than The Informant!, but they're both above average.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Recipe for Success

At least half of the meals that I cook are loosely based on a recipe, if not completely improvised. The results are mixed at best, but every once in a while, I create something good. My most recent concoction came out quite while, so I've decided to record it for posterity.

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, shredded
1 large eggplant, cut into bite-sized strips
2 onions, finely chopped
3 tbs oyster sauce
2 tbs rice wine
2 tsp sugar
4 cloves minced garlic
chili sauce (as much or as little as you want)
2 tbs corn starch
2 tsp water (just enough to make a paste out of the corn starch)
1 tbs soy sauce

  • In a large bowl, mix the eggplant with the oyster sauce, sugar, 1 tbs of rice wine, and chili sauce until all of the pieces are coated
  • Shred the chicken breasts and mix with the soy sauce and the rest of the rice wine
  • Mix the water and corn starch with some soy sauce and chili sauce and set aside
  • In a large wok, brown the chicken with the onions
  • Remove the chicken & onions and saute the eggplant
  • When the eggplant is almost done, add the chicken back in and mix together
  • Add the water & corn starch mixture and mix well, then simmer covered on low heat for about five minutes

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Easier Rider

Google just added bicycle routes for 150 US cities (including Providence) to Google Maps. I've played around with it a little bit, and it does a pretty good job. I plugged my commute in and one of the three routes that it gave me was very close to the route that I take when I bike to work. It's definitely worth a look, but make sure to do a sanity check before saddling up, because a lot of the so-called bike friendly roads are anything but. For example, in Providence, Google Maps seems to think Elmwood Avenue is a great bicycle thoroughfare. It may have a decent sized shoulder in many places, but in general, I find it best to avoid roads with more than two lanes or lots of traffic or lots of parallel parking and Elwood Avenue fails all three of these tests.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Spring Break!

I've been enjoying the new TV show Modern Family. It's no Arrested Development, nor does it try to be, but it's still very funny. This week's episode ("Truth Be Told") was one of the best and it featured Judy Greer (Kitty from Arrested Development), who once again demonstrated her mastery of the the crazy, sex-starved woman role.

I also really enjoyed this spoof of CNN's The Situation Room from last weekend's Saturday Night Live. I never intentionally watch CNN, but every time I happen to catch it, it seems like all they're doing is reading viewer e-mails without any sort of commentary. This spoof takes that sort of behavior to its logical extreme.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


On the topic of hockey, guess what the first Google search result for the term "hockey" is? Unlike the first results for "football", "baseball", and "basketball", it is not the official website of the North American professional sports league representing the sport, it's the Wikipedia page for ice hockey. The official NHL website is the 3rd result. For what it's worth, the NHL manages to come in first on Google.ca. This is either a case of the Google being the ultimate arbiter of the truth or the NHL focusing its search engine optimization efforts on the markets with the biggest bang for the buck.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Hockey Night

After playing pond hockey for the first time last year, I finally got the chance to play on a real hockey rink last night. It wasn't real hockey (8 on 8, no positions, no line changes, no offsides, no face-offs, etc.), but it was still a lot of fun. Actually, it was a lot more fun than real hockey, since my inability to do anything other than skate in a straight line and stickhandle two or three times before losing control of the puck would be a serious handicap if I actually had to worry about pesky details like staying onside or passing or playing defense. I've played a lot of different sports at sub-amateur levels, but ice hockey is the most enjoyable sport I've ever played at such a low skill level.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Snow Picnic

February 27, 2010 | 3:05 pm | Mt. Wachusett - Princeton, MA