You can’t do this when you rent

Living Room – During

Originally uploaded by 4ndrewScott.

After much stress, we finally completed settlement on Friday for the new house. I can’t begin to tell you how outraged I was with the unprofessional conduct of certain parties on Friday, but we got the keys, and that’s the main thing.

On Saturday, Kate and I, together with Tim and Lynne, removed all the floor coverings in the front half of the house. The carpet in the front two bedrooms was easy, but the pink tiles in the hallway, living room, and dining room were more effort. It turns out that the tilers who put them in were very thorough; maybe a bit too thorough. The tiles were glued to a type of board, which was nailed to the floor. There were nails every 5cm or so. All up, a lot of nails.

We got a good technique going, and all the tiles were up by the end of the day. On Tuesday, new carpet will go down on the floorboards, and we move in on Thursday!

My first Bollywood

We’re heading to India for a couple of weeks early in 2007, and trying to get a little into the culture before we go. And what better example than Bollywood, which has more viewers than the movies coming out of Hollywood? Not counting more Western-oriented films like Bride & Prejudice or Monsoon Wedding, I’ve never seen a Bollywood film, and this was my introduction to them.

Munna Bhai M.B.B.S.

A surprisingly entertaining musical romantic-comedy.

It’s in Hindi, it’s got music, it’s got dancing, it’s got laughs, it’s set in Mumbai and there’s romance. Can this be any more stereotypical Bollywood? Well, anyway, it was enormously entertaining.

It was quite long, at 155 minutes, but I enjoyed it all. Similar themes to any Western romantic-comedy, but enhanced by the Indian angle. And gangsters always help. Also, the male lead’s father is actually his father in real life, so the tension and emotion they display together has an extra edge.

The “M.B.B.S.” of the title is similar to the “M.D.” suffix in Australia, and indicates that the character is a doctor. Or is he a gangster? Can he change? Will he make his father happy?

Given the length, the rather flimsy premise used to set up the plot, and the unknown (to me) Bollywood aspect, I wasn’t expecting much. But, I loved it! Maybe I’m just a sucker for a romantic-comedy. Or maybe it was the gangsters.

My rating: 4.0 stars

This is distributed in Australia by MG Distribution who seems to be the major Bollywood DVD distributor here. I’ll have to check out more of what they’ve got.

Gore for President?

When we go out to see a movie, Kate prefers not to have to sit through a heavy issues piece, and so we usually compromise on something more entertaining. However, as Kate’s out of town, I was able to easily go see a non-fiction film at the movies, and chose to check out Al Gore‘s call-to-arms on climate change. Better know for his U.S. vice-presidential role or his close loss to George W. Bush in the U.S. presidential race of 2000, here he takes on a humbler role trying to save the Earth one movie cinema at a time.

An Inconvenient Truth

A worthwhile film for intelligent, concerned citizens.

Al Gore has been presenting his views on climate change to audiences for the last 15 years or so, and this is probably his most effective presentation yet. It covers both the development of Gore’s personal devotion to this cause, as well as the scientific evidence that supports the claim that climate change has been caused by humans and now presents a real threat to our way of life.

I consider myself moderately well informed on this topic, having read Tim Flannery, Michael Crichton, and other less famous commentators, so the scientific material wasn’t new to me. However, it was presented very clearly and so effectively that most people would be left with little room for doubt on the issue.

One might be tempted to think that there was a team of researchers and writers behind Gore’s presentation. However, we only ever see him present, and there are many shots of him using Apple Keynote to develop the presentation, so we are obviously meant to think this is pretty much a one-man show.

That aspect, together with the very personal accounts of Gore’s life and development, tended to slightly shift the focus away from his message and onto him. It would not take much of a cynic to view this film as building a platform for him to take another stab at the White House. He himself says “political will is a renewable resource”.

If you are concerned about these issues, then you can probably skip the film and spend the time more profitably reading books that convey the scope and complexity of the problems. (Or better yet, spend time actually addressing the problems.) If you aren’t concerned about these issues yet, then you should probably see this film. Don’t worry – it ends with some positive things.

My rating: 4.0 stars

There is a good web site of the movie that also gives a taste of the material.

Banana Icecream Recipe

Now that banana prices have come down, it’s time to gorge on this fruit (err.. herb) that we’ve been denied so long. The prices aren’t back to reasonable levels, so some kind of special dish with intense banana flavour is needed. Here’s the perfect use for bananas as we come into warmer weather: icecream! It’s probably the world’s simplest icecream recipe, as well.


3 large, ripe bananas
300ml cream (thickened cream is fine)
395g can sweetened condensed milk (full fat – I haven’t tried skim)


This recipe is tolerant to variations in amounts of ingredients, so don’t be worried if not exactly as above.

Break up the bananas and drop into a food processor, then blend into pulp. If using a blender instead, add the cream and tip the blender from side to side to ensure bananas get to the blades. Don’t over blend.

Add the remaining ingredients and mix together, then pour into a freezer-safe container, at least 1L in size.

Place in freezer for at least 4 hours.

The Holocaust

Perhaps it’s just me, but I’ve never read any books that describe The Holocaust. That is, until recently when our book club chose this one. It just blew my mind – you would read something terrible and you’d think it couldn’t get any worse, but then you’d read on, and it would. It certainly helped put some of the international politics of the region in perspective.

The Sunflower

Interesting philosophical views on forgiving the unforgivable

Now this is a good book-club book. Simon Wiesenthal writes about an experience that he had during World War 2 while a prisoner in a concentration camp, then a number of other people with relevant experience (including the Dalai Lama) respond to how he dealt with that experience. It’s relatively short, you don’t have to read it all, it comes with a selection of pre-canned opinions that you can choose to agree with or not, and discussion is sure to be heated.

It’s not an altogether pleasant read, but it isn’t densely philosophical or likely to be traumatic to read either. As the discussion revolves around putting yourself in the shoes of Wiesenthal, you need to get to grips with the environment of hopelessness and oppression first. He writes well, and although I doubt that anyone who hadn’t been through it could ever truly imagine it, you do get to a level of empathy. Some of the respondents that follow his story are not as well written, but it is easy to skip the ponderous ones.

Wiesenthal goes on to become a “nazi-hunter” later in his life, tracking down those who engaged in war crimes when younger. He has obviously come to his own conclusions about repentence, forgiveness and forgetting. Reading this book helped me come to some also.

My rating: 4.0 stars