Yummy strawberry tart!

Strawberry Tart

I made a delicious strawberry tart on Saturday, pictured here. The recipe I used was this one with the refinement of turning the strawberries the other way and glazing them with a mixture of hot lemon juice and seedless raspberry jam. This recipe specifies "Graham Crackers" for the crust, which are some yankie thing. I used digestive biscuits which worked fine.

The verdict was very much positive. Which is more than can be said for the UK's entry in the Eurovision Song Contest we were watching...

Looks like I have another favourite director

I've got a new director to add to my list of favourites. Sofia Coppola has now joined the other two directors whose films I will always see (yes, even if they cast someone ghastly).

Lost in Translation has had that big an impact on me that Holly and I are still discussing the finer points now, over a month after we first saw it. What an amazing film. Subtle, beautiful, dreamy and thought-provoking. I'm still amazed at how good such a simple plot has been made.

So who are the other "must see" directors? Well Kevin Smith, of course, and Darren Aronofsky. Go and see everything they've done, though I'd suggest leaving one of them until the end...

Pattern Recognition by William Gibson

Pattern Recognition by William Gibson

There are two big sci-fi book releases I've been hanging out for this year. The first is Gibson's Pattern Recognition and later this year will be Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver.

So this one was pretty damn good! Nothing to blow you away but I quite enjoyed it. I don't think it grabbed me as much as Idoru, but it was definitely an interesting story and explored some good ideas. It's also a very timely book, exploring themes around September 11 and ideas stemming from new online movements.

All in all, an interesting read and worth the wait. My copy will be going to the library shortly unless I hear from someone who wants to borrow it directly from me.

Quicksilver

My copy of Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver arrived last week and I've been reading it. Quite good so far, though not the roller coaster ride that was Snow Crash.

Anyway, page 92 appears to abruptly end. Fortunately there are massive amounts of annotations on Stephenson's Wiki about the book, including one about this. Turns out it was a device, not a fuckup.

UKizens will be interested to know that he's currently doing a book tour in these parts including London next week. Yet all the other appearances are in the evening yet London's is at midday. Waaaa!

Norkfolk Nog is amazing

I made a premium kit called Woodeforde's Norfolk Nog back at the start of November and stuck it in a pressure barrel with 100g extra dark malt. It's the beer I've been setting aside for Xmas Day.

I just moved it from its little hidey hole behind the couch into the serving position, a very cool corner of the kitchen.

In the interests of science I had a taste and it's my finest homebrew yet. Thick, rich and sweet, but not cloyingly so. Dark, slightly toffee hints and a light hopping make it a well rounded winter beer. I'm really looking forward to Xmas Eve when we crack it for real!

Play: The Madness of George Dubya

I saw this play last night in Camden, London. It supposedly finishes on 8th February but I certainly hope it goes longer.

Think a musical update of Dr Strangelove. I was expecting a fairly amateurish production but was instead blown away by the highly entertaining, snappy acting and script. The musical numbers are a real treat.

If you're in London or can get there before 8th February, go and see it! Satire isn't dead.

I was going to recommend this play to people at work, but I guess I have to be a bit careful. Many of my workmates are Israeli and I'm not sure how well they would see the funny side of lyrics like "Yasmina the Cleaner (a very nice girl) ... she goes ga-ga for hezbollah".

Visions of Tokyo

I've just discovered an incredible site that uses Flash in a way that actually enhances the information. Amazing, really. Mid-Tokyo Maps presents a range of different views of the city of Tokyo, looking at raw data to analyse what makes up this metropolis. It has really interesting presentations of urban planning and lifestyle data.

Most impressed and would love to see similar views of data for cities I know well like Sydney or London.

Vote early, vote often

Well I got to vote in my first British election today. I wasn't enrolled for any of the previous ones. Yes, pommies, we colonials are allowed vote in your elections, but you can't vote in ours when you live there. Sucky huh? I say no taxation without representation!

Anyway, I really dislike the first-past-the-post way they run these elections. You can only select a single candidate to support, which means if they're not one of the top two your vote is worthless. How annoying. In Australia you order the candidates in preferential order and your vote keeps getting transferred until it gets to a candidate where it counts for something. That way you can still put the Tories (called "Liberals" in Australia, just to match the whole water-down-plughole backwardness) last but give the Greens your first vote. Actually you'd probably want to put One Notion last, if only for having a site that could have come straight from 1994.

So I ended up voting for Sarah Teather of the Liberal Democrats as a tactical vote. Blair really needs a kick in the plums, and losing a safe seat like Brent East is probably the only wakeup call the spin-driven idiots at Labour central office understand.

Sarah seems like your average school-debater-come-politician wet chardonnay leftie, and though undoubtledy lovely she just doesn't seem to have the fire in the belly I want in a politician. The whiny electoral advertisements coming through the door have been pretty tedious. No, Sarah, I don't think our lousy street sweeping service in Brent is a big enough issue for central government to be worrying about. The Lib Dems have great policies and are set to become the opposition in this country, but do they have to be so damn dull and sensible? Why not point out how Blair lied to the country?

So, all in all, a rather unsatisfying brush with democracy, but I hope Sarah wins.