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Saturday, November 28, 2009

My ode to Beer

"Beer, for want of a better word, is good".

If Gordon Gecko, so wonderfully and malevolently played by Michael Douglas in the movie "Wall Street", was a kiwi, this is what he would say.

I like beer.

As I write this, I'm sipping away from a bottle of that amber gold. A rich, full bodied, yet delicately spiced East India pale ale. Its been 25-odd degrees with a gusty nor'west here in Canterbury and come the end of the working day I found myself parched. From midday onwards, I dreamed about that first bottle. And at 5.15 this evening, I wasn't disappointed. It was lovely. Chilled to within an inch of cryogenic perfection, the hssss as the cap was removed promised relief and satisfaction and by golly it delivered.

I'm not a yob, a bogan or an alchy. I'm not one of those people who wear long shorts and walk socks with pens in the top pocket of their short sleeved shirt who can describe the chemical process involved in the brewing to a cellular level. Nor am I one to decorated my house with beer posters and who consider "beer gear" the height of fashion and consider which beer one drinks to be directly related to their identity.

I just like beer. It tastes nice.

I like wine. Red's are my favorite although I don't mind a Sauvignon Blanc and can even spell sauvignon. I enjoy a fine whisky and will gladly wallop a bottle of vodka should the desire take me.

But for drinking with a couple of mates on a hot day, beer is great. It satisfies that immediate thirst and after a couple of bottles, leaves you feeling pretty good about life in general. If you have a couple of friends round, have a beer and shoot the breeze. It lasts a bit longer than wine because, being only 4%, you can have a couple and still be able to drive. And because so many New Zealanders drink it, it's a wonderful social lubricant. It's not as if you have one good bottle of beer and you become a social pariah whom the only person that thinks you are at all witty, charming and fun is yourself. If I have one "good" whisky, I'm best to organise a cab home from friends that will tolerate boorish behaviour. Moreover, and this is particularly relevant, I can have several beers and still type!

Nope. Beer is it. Cool, tasty and refreshing.

Beer is good.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

ETS Far Removed.

Is anyone else feeling slightly removed from the ETS debate?

If you go to Kiwiblog there are comments, accusations and epithets flying from one corner to another. But once again, this war seems to be fought over ideological grounds rather than the minutiae of the the bill itself.

The general public have heard what the media chooses to spout at us - mainly the potential cost to the taxpayer over 40 years - and except for Brian Rudman here, there seems to be precious little analysis and forthright, plain english explanations. I've had a look here and there and think I've at least got the gist of whats happening. Everyone should have the gist! Everyone should be Gistified!

With the background of the Maori Party deal sending up smoke in all directions, the real issue is obscured. What are we, as a nation., doing to help the environment?

Few people would say that doing nothing is the way to go. Most people have accepted that we need to change our lives in order to secure the future health of this planet - or at least join in the saving for political expediency. So if there is such little understanding out there, why not take a break from urgently ramming through this bill and explain to Kiwis what it is we are doing. Given the magnitude of the issue I think it would be good to have this better explained now rather than some complaining about it later.

So while all the whirlwind of rhetoric goes on around me in the beltway over maori and whatever else, I still feel removed from the biggest environmental decision our country has made in the last 100 years.

And I think there is something wrong with that.

Monday, November 23, 2009

It's my blog and I'll cry if I want to.

For the past few months, I've had nothing good to say.

So best not to fake it. Just don't say a bloody word. Not one

Without sounding deliriously depressing (uh, too late there, pal), I've just had sod all that I wanted to write about. The politics has been "relaxed", the sports mediocre and while there have been umpteen issues of great note, relevance and import, none have struck me as been worthy of sitting down to compose a piece.

When I started the Home Office, I wasn't in the mood for a confessional that have made bloggers such as Girl With a One Track Mind a sensation. I didn't want to be a kind of news aggregation and comment site such as Kiwiblog.

I wanted to write because I like it. It feels good and I wanted to feel good then. At the time, every little bit helped. I wanted to actually try to craft a piece of writing in a way that, like music or a great movie, it connects with other people. To get an emotional reaction from a reader. Reaction is measured in novelizations by book sales. Blogs are measured by page visits and readers comments. And a few people did come, read and comment. It is fantastic gratification and ego stoking.

I rang my old English teacher and asked him to look at it early on. He is an amazing wrangler of good, old fashioned, "Anglo Saxon" words. People even buy his books. I was sure that the qualities that he possesses would be found here. I went looking for praise and got a critique back that could have come straight from a 5th form homework assignment - full of red lines, notes and admonitions on my bludgeoning of the language and grammar. That wasn't gratifying. It was honest but it didn't stoke my fires. It was a blow. One that I knew would come. I asked for it when I emailed him. So why be discouraged when it happens? Re-reading the article he commented on, it's no bloody wonder because it is appalling.

He also gave me advice. For example:

"Writing is a good thing to do. But if you want people to read what you write, you need to work on the craft, the trade. It's a trade like plumbing. You need to know how the bits work. It takes a long time to learn".

Bugger that, I thought. I don't want to take the time. So I started reading successful authors liner notes. I went to their webpages and read their notes and FAQ's where they told the secret to great writing. And this is what they pretty much all said.


Something I have none of. Nada. Zilch. Keiner. Nulle. None.

I'm an empty 44 gallon drum. An amount of air contained by a thin skin. To the outside world, I look purposeful, solid and capable but inside is empty. I could try and be nice and say "I don't have the patience" or "I can never find the time" but that would be a lie. The truth is that I am undisciplined. I am a lazy sod.


So, in an effort to change this, I'm going to be more purposeful in my writing. After all anything will be better than my productivity over the last few months. I will write often but I probably won't always write well. But it's not if you win or lose, it's how you play the game, eh? Perhaps an old dog can change his spots. Maybe I could start filling the drum too.

And by the way, anyone who points out that I didn't start this blog as a literary hand wringing exercise then served up this tripe, you are quite right. But it's my blog and I'll cry if I want to. So up yours.

P.S If you read this then think that I'm vain and shallow - you're right again. I am. Isn't life a bitch sometimes?