Thursday, June 25, 2009

Jeez, Thursday and no posts?

I'm such a slacker. Okay, here's what's been going on. We've been looking at houses, I've been going to jiu-jitsu, we've been doing our normal hanging out with friends and gaming stuff, etc. Pretty standard, really. We got second place at trivia this week, so that's cool. I busted out a new hat and the lucky pipe, so I'm jazzed about that. I think they'll really help us more next week.

Really, things are proceeding more or less as they always do. We're having a great time with friends and family (got to work in my sister's yard for father's day), enjoying our time together as always, making and eating tasty food, watching movies, playing games, and trying to make progress at our various new activities.

We keep trying to find houses but that's going a bit sideways. Every time we find a place we like it already has about 14 offers on it, so we can't really make any progress. We're still trying, though. We're finding plenty out there that we like, we just need to find something that we have a chance of getting. I'll keep you all posted on that.

I'm still doing my EA Active and I'm really liking it. I've been very good about doing it 4 days a week, and I think it's starting to make a difference. I can see some growth in my arms (from just a little bit of work with a resistance band, of all things) and Jenna has said she's noticing a difference, too. I think jiu-jitsu is probably helping a lot, too. I'm really loving my training. I can't adequately express it, I don't think. I've got 15 classes done now, so I'm within about 2 weeks of having my first stripe. Once I get that, I can start going to more classes more often, which will hopefully bump my physical progress to the next level. The frustrating thing is that I'm not really losing weight. After a month of working out at jiu-jitsu and doing my EA Active thing, I'd think I'd have lost something, but I seem to be holding steady or gaining. I'm really hoping that I'm just putting on muscle and the gains in that are outweighing any fat loss I've got going. I don't know, but I'm not going to worry about it too terribly much. After another month or two of being consistent, if I still don't see any serious changes, I may have to really lock down my diet or something. I don't know. We'll see, I guess.

Tuesday trivia was fun. Bonnie came out and helped us, so that was cool. We also ran by the army surplus store beforehand, so we got to get some cool new toys. My toys were all hats. I got a cool sea-captain-hat-looking thing to wear for trivia (with my beautiful pipe clenched firmly between my very manly teeth, of course), and picked up a giant bandana to boot. Both Jenna and I got boonie hats, since we don't really have anything suitable for keeping the sun off of our faces and ears and necks and all when we're working outside or something. We worked in my sister's yard on Sunday for father's day and both got a bit burned even with the sunblock. I think a hat is really just a good way to go anyhow. it'll be nice for paintball, camping, gardening, really anything outdoors where you aren't too worried about looking silly (Jenna's adorable in hers of course, but I think I might look a tad dumb.).

I think that's about it, anyway. We had our supers game on Saturday and it was extremely fun as always. Jenna and I are talking about maybe going back to the SCA for something at some point, but nothing definitive yet. A lot of it depends on what else we're willing to give up. We're so busy these days we can't add anything without taking away something else. I'm really liking the feeling of progress and accomplishment from jiu-jitsu, but I'd like to be working on actual crafty projects again, too. I really want to continue improving my woodworking skills, and get better with leather, too. I think I might see about trying to make myself another longbow, too. We'll see. So many things to do!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Work gets in the way of blogging

Alas, I've been working at work instead of blogging. What a pain.

Well, let's do a quick rundown, shall we? Saturday was my latest IDPA match. I did pretty well with my accuracy and my following of the rules, but not so well on time. Really, I'd rather be safe and accurate than fast, but ideally I'd like to be all three. I'll keep working on it. Saturday evening we went to the Olive Garden for dinner, so that was fun. I really like going on dates with my wife. Sunday, we went looking at houses (morwe on that later) and played our Rifts game. Unfortunately, Jenna wasn't feeling well and didn't stay with us the whole time, but it was still one of the best sessions we've had. My character got giant blue flame wings and flew around like a sparrow on crack. Glorious. I made chili cheese dogs and brats for dinner. Not much to say there, I guess. Everyone liked them, so I can't feel too badly. I just like to make something slightly more involved than that if I can.

Monday I went to jiu-jitsu in Denver which is always fun. Tuesday is trivia night and we came in third. We got a $10 gift certificate, which is cool, but I really like winning. We just had a rough night. All the scores were very close, but we could've done a bit better, I think. Anyhow, it was a blast, as always. Even when we don't win, it's a great time. We got to watch Chogan absolutely dominate at Ms. Pac-Man, too.

Last night, I was going to go to jiu-jitsu, but I had to fix Jenna's car. Really, we just had to drop a new battery in it, but that counts as car maintenance to my mind. We also got to go take another look at the house we liked on Sunday. It's a townhouse in Greenwood Village, right off Belleview and Dayton. If you haven't been in that area before, it's super nice. It's also very close to work, which is awesome. We really like a lot about this place, especially the location, the yard, the basement, and the fact that it's sort of a run-down unit in an otherwise extremely nice neighborhood. That's exactly what we wanted. It's ripe for updating, and the updates will most likely get us a good return on our investments. There's some work to be done, primarily upstairs. Apparently there was some water damage, so the prior owner tore everything out to re-do the master bath and then never finished the job. The plumbing is all hooked up, so we'd just need to hang some sheet rock and patch a few holes to get it up to snuff. Even so, we'd most likely move into one of the basement bedrooms at first until we got the master completely perfect, then move into there and start updating and working on things as we got the money and time to improve them. We'll see how it goes. The price is right, the location is right, and the place has good bones. With some work, we could make it a really awesome home and probably get a ton of sweat equity out of it. I'll keep you guys posted on our progress.

So that's it! Woot! All caught up on my blogging now.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Some kind of robot

We're having a computer issue in our house. Jenna has been playing Rome: Total War (a great game, by the way) and had an issue with my system. I tore everything apart, swapped drives and power supplies and generally wreaked mayhem on our household tech, only to discover that maybe the game itself is causing the issue. How freakin' frustrating is that? In any case, we've ordered some new components for my machine to see if we can get it working again. There are a few other combinations and transfers we want to do between the three functional machines we have to end up with at least two fully functional and hopefully improved systems. Bah.

I got my new Katana a few days ago and I've been swinging it around. It feels extremely natural in my hand, and it absolutely begs to be taken out and swung at various things. I'll have to see if I can set up a trip to go somewhere wide open and just go to town with it. I might just wait until we go camping or to play paintball and bring the sword with some targets. We'll see.

We're still enjoying EA Active. I've gotten a few trophies for stuff and I'm continuing to work on my consistency with it. I do end each workout (even on Medium) pretty sweaty and at least a bit tired. All the lunges are certainly keeping my legs sore, too. I'm even noticing that my shoulders are feeling all the presses and raises I've been doing. Sweet! I'm hoping that the relative lack of focus on chest stuff isn't going to let my pushup results dwindle, but we'll just have to see what happens.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Success and Progress, in that order

Since I made some shrimp cocktail on Sunday, I felt confident in making a significantly larger batch for my friends yesterday. The main reason for this was because it was Dave's birthday and he's into seafood. Since I generally don't make seafood (Jenna isn't a fan, and I rarely cook just for myself) I wasn't sure what to do. I've made fish and chips before (actually I made fish, I still haven't ever attempted french fries) but that didn't sound like something he'd really enjoy. Shrimp though, that's sort of safe. If people are into seafood, they generally enjoy shrimp. Or so it seems to me, anyway. So anyway, I'll tell you how I made them in just a second. Suffice it to say, everyone was very pleased with the shrimp. Seems like a pretty instant classic, which is very cool for me. I always like trying new things and having them turn out well. I also had a good time getting to see everyone again and getting to play our Rifts game, since we're having a hard time getting it to fit in this month.

Okay, here's the shrimp recipe, blatantly stolen from Alton Brown:

Take some shrimp. Ideally, you want frozen (How many oceans are within a few miles of Denver, CO? None!) with the heads off and the shells still on. Uncooked, of course. You also need to consider size. I used 26-30 as they call it, and it made for tasty two-bite shrimp. One bite, if you wanted. This number means there are 26-30 shrimp of this size in a pound. Good shrimp are always sold by count, never by "Giganto-large" or "Jumbo-maximus" or any other weird adjective. If it doesn't have a count weight on it, try a different brand. This recipe works well for any number of shrimp apparently, from six to like three dozen, so feel free to expand or contract as needed. Now that you have your frozen shrimp, you need to thaw them. I put mine in a colander under cold water and swish them around for like 5-7 minutes. This gets them thawed but not warm, which is how you want them. Check to see if your shrimp have been de-veined. If they haven't been, you will want to take care of this. The brand I found had been de-veined already, which was awesome. Oddly enough, it didn't mention that fact anywhere on the package. You would think they'd advertise the work they did, but whatever. If you need to de-vein, get some small scissors, snip up the back with as few snips as possible, then pull out the icky. Wipe it on a paper towel or something.

You now have shrimp ready for cooking, right? No! Because to get a good shrimpy flavor out of these bad boys you need to brine them first. This gets some extra salt into the meat and also helps them retain moisture so they don't get gummy and gross. You need to make a brine, so get some hot water (I take hot water from the faucet and then pop it in the microwave for a few minutes) and dissolve some salt and sugar into it. This is the part that will change depending on how many shrimp you're making. I did about 3 tablespoons of each in a cup of hot water for the 6 shrimp and like 5-7 tablespoons of each into like 3 cups for the larger batch. Once the salt and sugar are dissolved, dump in a couple cups of ice. This way the water won't be so warm as to start cooking your shrimp before you're ready, but it will keep the salt and sugar in solution. Sweet, eh? Now get your shrimp into the brine and put it in the fridge for like 20 minutes. While this is going on, you can cover a cookie sheet in heavy duty foil and put it in the oven under the broiler. Turn on the broiler to get the cookie sheet warmed up. You can also take this time to make your own cocktail sauce if you're so inclined (ketchup, chili sauce, prepared horseradish all in a blender or food processor. I haven't made it, but it should be good.).

Now that your shrimp has had a chance to brine, take it out and pour it off into the colander. Dump it onto some paper towels and wrap it up for a few minutes to let the shrimp dry off a bit. While you're doing this, toss a stainless steel or glass bowl into your freezer to cool down. You'll use this later. Now put the shrimp into a different bowl with some olive oil (not extra virgin, as that would burn under the broiler) and some Old Bay seasoning and toss to coat. You just want a little oil on the shrimp to keep them from sticking and also to help brown the shells a bit. Now you can dump your shrimp onto your half sheet pan (covered in foil so you don't have to scrub shrimpy bits off of it later) and get them spread out into one layer. Shove 'em back under the broiler for two minutes. Pull them out, turn them all, and put them back under the broiler for one minute. Pull them out, put them in your now-frosty bowl, and toss a few times to work off some of the excess heat. This will also help keep them from overcooking. Put the bowl back in the freezer for like 5-6 minutes to let the shrimp cool off to about room temperature (or however you like to eat your shrimp cocktail shrimp) and then pull them out and serve. They should be perfectly cooked, plump, juicy and flavorful. By not boiling them you help keep all of the shrimpalicious flavor inside them, instead of in your cooking water. By cooking with the shells on, you also help protect the meat from the high heat, so your shrimp aren't overdone on the outside, and stay moist and tasty. Brilliant!

The progress portion of the blog comes in the form of EA Sports Active. I've been trying to do my workouts consistently since I got the game, but I slacked a bit this weekend. I'm thinking I'll so Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday on the game, leaving Saturday for just jiu-jitsu and Sunday as a total rest day. The game is still very fun, and is working me really hard. I'm ending each session very tired, sore, and sweaty. I really didn't think I could get this good of a workout standing in my family room in front of my TV, but it's very cool. I have to say that using the balance board actually makes some of the exercises easier. There are some games you can play where you have to use it, but others are tougher without. Today I had to do a lot of squat jumps and lunge jumps and I was very nearly unable to finish the last exercise. I also switched my resistance band down one level so I could focus on better technique, and I think that helped a lot, too. The shoulder presses and raises I've been doing are definitely cool. Not the kind of weight I'm used to using, but still working hard enough to feel it. So overall, I still think this game is a viable way to get into shape. Couple the workout with the accountability for doing other activities on a daily basis and tracking your food, water, junk food, sleep, stress, etc. and you really do have a system that helps keep you on track even when you're not actively playing it. If you haven't decided to get it yet, and you're in the market for something along these lines, I am still suggesting it very highly. I'm hoping that I'll have some real results to share in a month or so, but until then we'll just have to go with what I have.

Monday, June 8, 2009

An object chaos

Friday, we went to see "The Hangover." By we, I of course mean my wife and I. I also mean a dozen or so of our friends. And by went, I mean some of us went and some of us didn't, due to various issues. And by Friday, I of course mean Friday. So, because I am inexplicably driven to overcomplicate my life, I decided that a simple trip to see a movie with a couple of friends needed to become a DINNER/MOVIE EXTRAVAGANZA!!!1!!ONE!

You can probably guess why this didn't go precisely as planned. Herding 14+ people to dinner and then a movie when the movie starts at 7:30 and dinner starts at 6:30 is pretty rough. Especially when it's opening night of a popular movie. We ended up with 4 folks who didn't get tickets ahead of time and thus couldn't attend, which was lame. Still, 10 people getting into a movie that's sold out is pretty good. Getting them to sit with each other is amazing. Devon and Rose saved seats for all of us, and they saved them like champions. What was awesome was that the movie was brilliant and terribly funny and just extremely well done all around. What was lame was that we were so rushed to get through everything to get to the movie and all that we ended up not being able to talk to a lot of the folks we had wanted to spend time with. We'll have to set aside time to do some normal, non-extravaganza hanging with the people we didn't get to see, which is also cool.

Saturday, I went to jiu-jitsu which was very cool. I met a guy who does personal training with kettlebells and who offered me a few free sessions. I think that's awesome. I'd love to learn more about kettlebells and make sure I'm using proper technique and all. It also didn't hurt that at least two people in the class again commented on how strong I am, one of them the personal trainer guy. I will say this: I am a sucker for a good compliment. I'm hoping that sooner or later I'll get good enough that people will be complimenting my technique, but I'll take what I can get. After jiu-jitsu, we did our supers game which was a blast as always. Had a long game session with some really neat reveals and good tie-ins of previously foreshadowed stuff. Adj is definitely a masterful game master.

Sunday was our first anniversary! We mostly lounged around all day, just sort of relaxing and all, with plans to go to dinner later in the evening. I finally put together my poleaxe and it's really cool. I'm very pleased with it. Look at how pleased I am.

After making myself some shrimp cocktail (just to make sure I knew how) we got a phone call. We were hoping to go to the Manor House restaurant in Ken Caryl Valley, only to find out that there is no such thing any more. Apparently it is now strictly an event center, the kitchen having been flooded out at some point and never repaired. So that was lame. It's where we went for our first dating anniversary and we were hoping for a kind of romantic symmetry. Alas. We found another place that we've been wanting to try for a while instead. It's called Brook's Steakhouse and it was very good. It's right around the corner from our house and we've seen it a bunch but had never actually gone in to try it. This seemed like a great opportunity, so we gave it a go. It's a very nice place. Wood paneling, brass railings, Sinatra on the radio and a sort of 1950s gentleman's club feel really worked for it. The food was very tasty, and the service was excellent. I'd recommend it heartily, especially right now, as they're having a very good deal on a complete meal for $35/person. The best part is that we got to dress up and be all romantic. Aren't we adorable?

And that was essentially the weekend. Loads of fun, lots of time with friends and with each other, and some darned good food mixed in there as well. Life really doesn't get much better than this, I must say.

Friday, June 5, 2009

EA Sports Active for the Wii

The other day (no, not that one, the other one) Jenna and I became interested in EA Sports Active for the Wii, after she found a review of it online and thought it looked interesting. After watching some reviews and clips and whatnot, we decided it was totally worth getting and ran to Wal-Mart to pick it up. Here's what we've found so far:

EA Sports Active is what WiiFit should've been. Let me compare and contrast these bad boys for you.

First, WiiFit involves the balance board, the Wiimote, the Nunchuk and your very own personal body. EA Active involves these things plus a resistance band and a leg holster thingy. Adding a resistance band means you add...wait for it...resistance! Anyone who's done even a minimal amount of research into health and human physiology knows that resistance-based exercises are really good for you and are totally necessary for good health. Can you get resistance by doing pushups, situps, stretches or leg lifts? Yup. Can you get better results by doing these same motions with increased resistance? Yup. Even though I'm not a fan of the band EA included with the game (I feel like I'm going to break it) you can easily exchange a heavier band or whatever if you like (which I did). Doing shoulder press with the weight of the Wiimote? Lame. Doing them with a decent resistance band makes a world of difference as far as your workout goes. The leg band thingy is pretty neat. It helps the game determine how hard you're running based on your leg movement, or how deeply you're squatting, or whether you're doing your lunges properly. It just barely fits around my Herculean man-thighs but it still works. You just have to get it strapped pretty tight and pretty high so it doesn't slide down while you're doing stuff. I like this feature because about half of my workout shorts don't have pockets, so I ended up just holding the Wiimote in my hand for WiiFit jogging. That gives a fair indication of how much my right arm is moving, but pretty much none on whether my legs are moving. With EA Active, you have the Wiimote in your hand and the Nunchuk attached to your leg, so the game requires you to be moving your upper and lower body together to get your character running on screen. It's a much better method, I think.

That's the first thing. Here's the second thing: setting up a workout in advance and just rolling through the exercises keeps your heart rate up and provides a much stronger workout. With WiiFit, you pick an exercise and then do the exercise. When it's over, you head back to the menu and find another exercise you'd like to try, then pick it and do it. With each exercise lasting no more than a minute or two, that's a lot of heading back to the menu. It kills your momentum in a big way, and it lets your heart rate drop way too much. EA Active has set workout routines based on time and intensity (20 minutes easy/med/hard, 60 min easy/med/hard, etc.) and allows you to customize your own workouts. If you have bad knees, you can kick out any exercise that involves jumping. If you want to work on upper body, you can build your own all upper body workout program, and even include short jogs at the beginning and end for warmup and cooldown. Having a workout set up in advance means less time spent fiddling around with the game before you can get going. To me, that means a few more minutes of sleep in the morning, but it also means am ore efficient workout.

Here's the third thing: WiiFit is freakin' mean to you. I'm a dude with a pretty thick skin, but if I have to hear "You're obese!" in a little electronic game voice every day, that's going to kill my desire to play that game very quickly. I'm not obese. I'm 6'3" and 250 pounds. I'm not the skinniest person in most any room, but I'm also not the person in the worst shape in most any room. I'm a guy with a large frame with a reasonable amount of muscle and some extra fat mostly in my middle region. WiiFit is based on BMI, which is the single stupidest system of health rating I've ever heard of. Anyone with even a decent amount of muscle on their frame will come up as overweight. Anyone with a large frame with muscle and maybe a bit more fat than they'd like will come up as obese. That's lame. If they could incorporate any other system of measuring your body type into the mix, it would be infinitely superior to the way it is now. Add in a wrist circumference to get a concept of frame size, or add in a body shape matching system or something, but straight BMI is terrible. EA Active is very encouraging, which is nice. I'm not going to be riding high all day because my electronic trainer said "You really nailed that lunge! Way to go!" but I'm also not going to be pissed at the game for calling me names. It's not a huge deal, but it makes a difference to me. Even if I got down to the ideal weight for my body type, with a body fat percentage somewhere around 9% and a goodly amount of muscle, WiiFit would keep telling me that I'm overweight or obese every day. That's not cool.

The last thing, and something I think is extremely important, is that WiiFit thinks that your posture and balance are the keys to your health. They don't seem to worry much about strength, endurance, cardiovascular fitness, flexibility, or any of the other aspects of health, they just focus on balance. Since the game is designed to be used with the Wii balance Board and balance is just about the only thing it can measure, I'm sort of okay with it as a known weakness going in. But with a system designed to help increase fitness, there's only so much you can tell with balance. EA Active actually rates your caloric burn rate based on your stats and the exercise you're doing. EA Active takes a much more American view of fitness, I think is the main difference. You're not just standing in one place leaning, or working as hard as you can to stand perfectly still (there's an intense workout for you) you're actually moving, doing fun things, and working hard. When I've done the EA Active 30 minute hard course, I end up sweaty and tired, almost as sweaty and tired as I feel after an intense jiu-jitsu class. That's an extremely difficult thing to do with a game and EA Active manages well. I don't like to do a workout that feels like a waste of time. I like to work out very hard for as short a period of time as possible, to get my workout done efficiently and effectively. If I can get a solid workout with a resistance band and a video game without even having to leave my house, I'm all for it.

So anyway, those are my thoughts. EA Active may be what WiiFit should've been, but I do think WiiFit was a necessary precursor to EA Active. WiiFit is still fun, and it does have some worthwhile games and stuff. It actually has a pretty decent yoga trainer, if you're interested in that sort of thing. I just wouldn't get WiiFit expecting it to get you in shape unless you're willing to spend a lot of time and energy just trying to spend a lot of energy. EA Active is the shortest path to the same goal, and I think you'd see a much greater change after a month with EA Active than you would with WiiFit. You also wouldn't have any deep seated self esteem issues stemming from your video game calling you a fatty.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

A really great idea I wish I had

My friend Jacob's Blog

In this blog, Jacob suggests something brilliant: a teaching exchange. I teach you an hour's worth of something I know and you teach me an hour's worth of something you know. Sounds really easy, right? That's because it freakin' is! it's a great way to share your knowledge and get something cool in return. The main key is knowing something worth trading, and having something you'd like to know. The other thing is to have somewhere to post up what you know and what you'd like to learn so other people can come see it. That's something I'd like to work on. I'm going to see if I can find a website or Facebook app or something that will do this, and then I'll post a link on this blog.

For now, here are the things I can teach:

Proper gun handling and cleaning
Handgun shooting
Rifle shooting (less so)
Shotgun shooting
Glass Etching
Sewing from a pattern
Creating a custom pattern and sewing it
Basic Leatherworking
Loose Wool Felting
Filemaker Pro
Deltek Costpoint
Basic Computer Construction
Basic Snowboarding
Basic Skiing
Basic Metal Working
Basic Wood Working
Basic Lindy Hop Swing Dancing
English Grammar
Cooking (very generalized, only a few recipes, no actual culinary knowledge)
Basic Self-Defense (I'll feel better about teaching this after I have some more jiu-jitsu classes under my belt, but I know enough to get someone started at least.)

Whew! I think that's everything. I may come up with more, but that's a good start at least. Here are the things I'd be interested in learning:

Any craft
Any form of fine art
Any language
Any martial art
Any sport
Any computer programming language
Any other thing you can think of

I'm sort of weird when it comes to learning. I like all of it. I should be pretty easy to please with this stuff, so if you have any ideas for things you can teach and you'd like to exchange some knowledge, please let me know!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Back on Top

Trivia last night was really fun. Charlie came out again, which was very cool. We also won first place, which makes everything awesome. The food at Moe's is really good, too. I've also noticed that there is a lot more food for the money than we had at the Celtic. The food is also super tasty, if you're into barbecue (which I am). Their ribs were excellent, with just a bit of tang and not too much spice. I think I may try the half chicken next time, since AJ and Jenna seemed to enjoy it. Their cornbread is also really good. There's some kind of pepper mixed into the batter and then I think they fry the outside or something, but it's freakin' delicious. I'm slowly getting used to the idea of not being at the Celtic anymore, but it's taking a bit. When I switch over to advanced jiu-jitsu classes (probably after July 4th, if all goes according to plan) I'm going to see if everyone's cool with switching trivia to Wednesday nights at the Rio near Park Meadows. It's closer, the food should be pretty tasty and it'll mean Jenna can come with us to the pre-quiz dinner time instead of eating after we've all finished. We'll see.

Here's the link to the official blog, if you're interested: I don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' no babies!

The blog title refers to Gone With the Wind, the theme for one of the rounds. We freakin' aced it. More accurately, Jenna freakin' aced it. She was like a tiny beautiful trivia machine. I knew a few things this time, which was cool. We really had some trouble with the last round, but managed to hold on enough to win by 8 points. Sweet!

*Edit* Based on currently available results, we would have gotten first in any venue that had this quiz last night. Rock.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Why can't I just pound chicken properly?!

Okay, I'm a little frustrated. I tried to make my fancy, experimental stuffed chicken parmesan last night. It was a brilliant idea, I thought, and wouldn't be too tough to carry out. How wrong I was! I got a new pounder specifically to be able to pound chicken for this particular dish. I have been thinking about it and planning it for a good long while. More or less, it's exactly the same as regular chicken parmesan, except that you pound the chicken flat, and wrap it around a stick of string cheese before rolling it in breading. Easy, right? It should've been! Instead, I was almost completely unable to flatten my chicken. I hit it a lot and with a fair amount of force, and it just wouldn't flatten past a certain point. I was hesitant to really let fly both because I live in an apartment and a horrific banging might be unpleasant for the neighbors but also because I wanted the chicken to be flat, not exploded.

Anyone have any tips on flattening chicken without making it unrecognizable?