Sunday, 29 January 2012

Sunday Sesh #21 - Coopers Clear

This Sunday's Sesh is Wifey's choice, and is brought to you by Coopers Clear. I shouldn't be surprised that she chose this, since it's a low-carb drop. Wifey's exact words were "I've got to look after your figure". Ain't that that truth, since I probably don't look after it as much as I should. As long as someone is though, it's all good.

Coopers Clear Low-Carb
This one's a little surprise packet. It pours quite well, and has a light creamy head that disappears pretty quickly. It has a very pale straw colour, which is an indication of how light and refreshing it is.

My first impression was that it was a bit watery, but after a few sips, it went down quite well. It's another one that seems a little shandy-ish, but it's still bitter enough to give a bit of bite. There's very little after taste, and I'm glad Wifey bought a 6-pack of this one.

Hopefully the weather warms up enough to enjoy the other five on the deck in the sun.

Recommended for hot, balmy days. Better than the Bitburger if you're after something light.
This week saw those of us who are lucky enough to live Down Under celebrating Australia Day. It's a day of mixed feelings for some, and I think everyone has their own take on it.

We celebrated with friends on our new deck with a BBQ and a few cold ones, with general banter and catching up. It's always great to have a public holiday (most would say there's not enough of them), and since it fell on a Thursday, there were more than a few that would have continued with another great Aussie tradition, and had a sickie on the Friday after.

As well as general celebrations, we also award Aussie of the Year to someone who embodies all things great about Australia. Previous winners have come from all walks of life - singers, sportsmen/women, doctors, artists, medical researchers, Aboriginal Community Leaders and actors.

The 2012 award went to actor Geoffrey Rush, and it wasn't without controversy. There has been a small backlash about who should have won the top accolade, and there were many fitting finalists, any of whom I would have been proud to have won.

The thing that amazed me about the backlash though was that people thought we "could do better" than award the top gong to an actor. In other words, being an actor - someone so highly paid for portraying others on the small and big screens - should preclude a person from receiving a national award.

Some people even went as far as questioning why, when he'd won enough film industry awards, we should then also award him Australian of the Year.

Take a look at his short profile on the Australian of the Year website, and you'll see he's much more than an actor.

His winners speech was also held up to scorn, because he dared to mention an issue most of us have an opinion on - asylum seekers and refugees - and said that maybe we should get some of their stories out "there" on screen so those of us with no real idea of their experiences and plight may get some sort of insight.

Geoffrey Rush is an artist - a highly paid one, and a very bloody good one. That shouldn't preclude him from receiving any type of award.

It also shouldn't mean that he doesn't have a right to an opinion on things that affect his homeland, no matter where in the world he lives.

I saw this type of thing a while back, when Cate Blanchett came out in support of the effort to slow global warming. Various commentators were up in arms that an actress would dare to have an opinion, and would assume to throw her support behind one side or the other.

Would anyone suggest that someone who works in the mining industry shouldn't have an opinion on global warming or environmental issues? What about those in the financial sector? Should they only be allowed an opinion on the economy and nothing else?

Regardless of what people do for a living, or how much they earn from it, we should never question their right to have an opinion, no matter what the issue.

Of all the great things about our country, the one thing I cringe at is our ability to build someone up, only to tear them down again. It seems you can reach for the stars, but you should never get too bug for your boots.

Although, if we all worried about what others would think of us if we succeeded "too much", we wouldn't have anyone to award Aussie of the Year to, would we?

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Sunday Sesh #19 - One Fifty Lashes Pale Ale

This Sunday's Sesh is brought to you by James Squire's One Fifty Lashes Pale Ale. I can't provide a link because on the Malt Shovel website, the pale ale hasn't been added for some reason, and on the only other site (called The Squires Bounty), there's nothing about the actual beer - just an advertisement for its launch last year.

Anyhoo, the review.

James Squire's One Fifty Lashes Pale Ale
This is another winner from the James Squire stable. It's light and a little cloudy and not much head and smell crisp and fruity. Very refreshing and easy to drink, and went down a little to quickly to be honest.
It's just a little sweet - almost shandy-ish, but not quite. Highly recommend this one.

I think the lesson here is, if its a James Squire, you won't be disappointed.

Continuing on from last week's post about goal-setting for the new year, I've downloaded and read (on my sparkly new kindle) a couple of books that I hope will assist me in building my "author platform". In other words, how to get people to like me and buy my books, and how to get THOSE people to tell OTHER people to buy my books.

It's going to be a hard slog. I'm under no illusions, however, that it will be any different from writing my books - a marathon rather than a sprint - and damn hard work.

If you're interested, the books are How I Sold a Million Books in 5 Months by John Locke, and two books by Kristen Lamb - We Are Note Alone and Are You There Blog? It's Me, Writer.

If you're at all interested in writing and particularly in self-publishing, I highly recommend all three books. John's is very similar to Kristen Lambs, but John gets you fired up and Kristen Lamb sits you back on your rear and tells you like it is.

Anyway, there will be a few changes around the blog over the next few months. As I said last week, the Sunday Sesh's will continue, and that's because I enjoy writing them. And yeh, ok, I also enjoy the beer.

They will be the only blog posts on here for the next month or so though (unless something really takes my interest), as I re-design the blog and the direction I want it to go in. I need to re-focus on my writing as well, and it all needs to start overlapping. I've started the hard slog towards defining who my readers are, and I now need to work out where they hang out after work. That's harder than I first thought, but it has also helped me to decide where to focus my efforts with regards to which of my (currently) 18 ideas I will concentrate on over the next year or two to build my audience.

Enough of my writing plans though, because I want to tell you, if you're after a fast-paced, fun and dangerously addictive read, you need to check out John Locke's Donovan Creed novels. I downloaded and read two in two days, and I am just waiting for my book budget to tick back over into the black to buy the rest of them. They are purely entertainment, so if you're after literary genius, they're not for you. And at 99c a pop for the kindle editions, what's not to like? They're also in paperback, so you don't need an e-reader to enjoy them.
Donovan Creed, Locke's main character, is a gun-for-hire and is strangely endearing, even if he does have better relationships with prostitutes than real women, and even if he is happy for people to get their come-uppance.

My pick of the two I've read so far is Wish List. Without going into too much detail, it's about a group of friends who enter their wishes onto a website, never thinking for a moment that they would start to come true. As always where Donovan Creed is concerned, there are consequences. This book had me cringing and laughing out loud. Very highly recommended.

That's enough from me this week. I have to decide what beer I'm reviewing next week, since the cupboard is bare. If you have any suggestions, I'd love to give them a go. I'm always after recommendations on what to stock my beer shelf (ok, shelves) with, so don't be shy.

Until next Sunday's Sesh,

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Sunday Sesh #18 - New Year's Double-down

Since last Sunday was a dry sesh because of Christmas, this weekend is a double-down. That's right - two beers in one Sesh. Incidentally, Christmas wasn't exactly "dry", as much as I just never got the chance to write about the beers I drank while I was home. So anyway, here are the first two beers of the New Year.

First off the rank is a Matilda Bay Alpha Pale Ale.

Matilda Bay Alpha Pale Ale

This one is a big brew, and there's not much pale about it. It's a dark golden colour, smelling fruity and citrusy - fresh enough for summer.

It's got some big flavours but it's not overwhelming as you might expect. There's a bitterness that lasts a little while, but it's not too over-powering. They say to have this with roast meats, but I accompanied my beer with a rump steak and veg. It went down quite nicely and suited the steak well.

I will have this one again, but it won'te become one of my regulars.

The second of today's beers is from James Squire - Stow Away IPA (India Pale Ale) - quite appropriate since we're hosting a four test series against them this summer, but I digress.

James Squire Stow Away IPA

This also pours quite well, with a frothy but light head. You can see the big difference in these two is the carbonation, but they're almost identical in colour.

The IPA is drier and has a lot stronger bitterness in the aftertaste. It's not too bad though, and I could have a couple of these on a hot day. It also smells a bit like potpourri out of the bottle, as well as wet paper - doesn't make sense to me either, but that's what I could smell.

I prefer the Alpha over the IPA, but I wouldn't say no to either of them if they were offered.

Today's sesh marks the first day of 2012. New Year is normally when most of us take stock of what we've done with the last year and in particular, how we're going to lose the weight we've gained over the Festive Season.

I plan on having a big year in 2012, but I'm not one to make resolutions. I think they're a fast way to failure. I do, however, believe in goal-setting - something I've been lacking over the past year or so. I've been coasting a little, going with the flow and seeing where it takes me. It hasn't been too bad this last year, but 2012 is the year I take the wheel back and start to steer for myself.

The one thing I do want to get done is a revision of my writing plan. I wrote one at the start of last year that more or less just said that I wanted to prioritise my writing. I managed to do that more than I have in previous years, but this year it will go further. One of the major changes will be to set a writing schedule, and stick to it.

I will also start introducing myself to people as a "writer" instead of an "accountant". At some point, I'm hoping that my brain starts to believe it and allows me to start acting like a writer instead of an accountant - not that being an accountant is a bad thing, but it's just not what I want to be when I grow up.

I'm excited about being a writer this year instead of an accountant, and I'm excited about what I hope to achieve. One of the last things I did in 2011 (oh so far away now) was to go through my ideas - books, notes, napkins, post-its etc - and write them down on note-cards. Some of them have working titles, others just start with "The one about...". I've added short synopses on each of them so I know what they're about, and because of that, I feel a bit more organised already.

The other thing I realised is that I can no longer tell anyone I don't have any ideas. I actually have 18 of them. That's 18 novels that are waiting to be written. It blew me away when I realised, and the thing is, I only wrote down the ones that had "formed" to a point where I had a couple of characters, plot points and a general idea. I have a tonne of other ideas that are still percolating in the furthest reaches of my brain. The other thing is, a couple of those ideas are looking more and more like they could be great as series, so who knows how many books 18 ideas can turn into.

With that in mind, and safe in the thought that at any time I feel I can't write anything I can just pull out a new note-card and start working on something different, I'm heading into 2012 with renewed vigour and energy,and particularly, enthusiasm, for my writing.

Blog-wise, I'm still pottering along trying to balance what I want to write about and writing about a lot less on "me". There'll be a few changes - not least of which when Summer is over, there will be no more Sunday Sesh's, but I'm kicking around a few ideas to take its place over the colder months - perhaps reviewing coffee in the local cafes, or even better, the hot chocolates.

I'm also looking at blogging more on writing and my journey, almost as a journal, and I definitely want to include more extracts so you can see what I've been working on.

I'm also considering a weekly post on something topical - politics, scandals, something to get passionate about. I've enjoyed writing about gay marriage this year, not least of which because it affects me directly, but also because I'm passionate about it. I'm passionate about a lot of other things though, and I want to step side-ways a little and post more on the things that make me cringe, face-palm, laugh-out-loud, and yell at the television.

Apart from that, there are a host of other things that I'd like to achieve this year, but rather than bore you with the details, I'll let you go and nurse your hangovers, and if you didn't overdo it last night, pay out on those who did.

Plus, I need to get back to renovating. We're now on a fast-track to getting the house finished as we're on a dead-line. As we speak, power tools are whining away in the back yard cutting timber and drilling holes for the deck. The ceiling has been fixed and patched, so my painting skills are being called on.

It will be great to get the house finally finished, but we may not get to stick around to enjoy our hard work for very long. As I said earlier, I think this year will yield big things, so stay tuned.

Happy new year, and until next Sunday's Sesh,