Thursday, December 30, 2010

I'm SoooTired...

I am so tired of China being the World's seamstress.

...of politics in Australia (and indeed of the entire Western world) being a game of anti-ideas.

...of money being a requisite of experience.

...of theological institutions being accorded respect.

...of not having enough of a multifarious and capacious vocabulary.

...of the abhorrence of fundamentalism in only the dark-skinned format.

...of the media refusing to publish cartoons featuring that strange and nefarious character called 'Muhammad'.

...of grabbing a towel off the rack and it smelling of urine.  What the hell are my kids up to?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Death. The End.

A couple of years ago a good friend of mine committed suicide.  Utterly out of the blue.  No history of failed attempts, no obvious signals, nothing that alerted any of his mates that he was on the edge.  His death hit me very hard, and despite being a relatively happy father of (at that stage) two kids, in a loving and positive long-term relationship, and having so many things to live for, I too contemplated the unthinkable.  His death brought on a profound period of darkness and depression in my life, short-lived as it was.  I confronted my own mortality, mirrored in that of my mate's.  I questioned everything that I held to be true about existence, about my ideas of religion/God/destiny/fate/death/purpose/etc.  I was angry at my departed friend, angry at myself for not doing enough, angry at the world for being so cold, heartless and twisted.  I indulged myself in that most pathetic, selfish and adolescent idea of "What's the point to it all anyway?" and felt close to the concept of an early exit.  I had no choice, no thanks to the decision and final action of my friend, but to hold up the mirror to my own life and look hard at my reflection.  My friend was forcing me to live a more examined life, and I resented it.  And then I got over it.

Then, not so long after, another friend was killed in a motorbike accident.  Another funeral for a young man.  They are never particularly joyous affairs, are they?  This time I felt better armed against the attack of the deep-blue-funks.  Yes, there were the probing incursions of negative mind-states, but previous experience had forewarned me, and so I did not fall as hard into the blues.  Don't get me wrong, though, this friend's death still kicked me hard in the existential guts - I helped go through his apartment, sorting through his personal belongings, throwing out things that had significance for one man, and none for anyone else - that was a trip, a hard one.  The affect on me this time, with this experience, was different.  I had a different set of skills to cope, skills that admittedly were centred around the concept of dealing with my own mortality that, let's face it, is where a hell of a lot of our feelings of grief and sense of loss is derived.

Recently, this has happened to me again.  Another friend, another very young man, another motorcycle accident.  We had messaged one another on Facebook about five minutes before his death.  Shocking, tragic, and freakish.  Another funeral for a young man, one of those kind where many women wail, where the men attempt a kind of stoic hardness, and where we all laugh too easily at inane and tragically ordinary anecdotes from a life cut too short.   Here was another lesson on life's seemingly indiscriminate cruelty and randomness.

We carry on.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Touching The Void.

I have been out of action for a while - out of action, that is, in regards to the blogoshpere.  There have been a number of events that have occurred in my life over the last few months that have given me pause to indulge in a little bit of self-examination, re-assessment, and all of the other little awakenings and shake-ups that come from adversity.  I guess it's one of the pitfalls of having an over-active existential bent.  I suppose that the benefit of all this is that as one comes through adversity one has the chance to learn from it, and so also grow and be better prepared for the next sequence of misadventure and tribulation.  Of course, as one experiences the downside of life one must confront it with the only reasonable response that any self-respecting existential philospher can make:  WHATEVER!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Letter to Foxtel - 29/10/10 Re: Bad Service.

My name is Matt Cooper, acc # *******, (address here), ph ** **** ****.

As at this time, 1945, 29/10/10, I have no audio on any of my Foxtel channels, including Foxtel HD.

I have subscribed to Foxtel with the specific purpose of viewing Hyundai A-League matches live, and it seems that tonight I will be forced to watch a silent broadcast - in effect, half a broadcast - admittedly in wonderful high-definition, but with a very 20th Century problem.

I have attempted to glean some kind of information from the Foxtel Enquiries number at 131 999, but was met with only a recorded message that in fact told me nothing at all, aside from that there were technical difficulties (my suburb not included in the ad hoc listing), and that (of course) Foxtel were working to remedy the situation.  I was unable to connect with a Human Being, but instead was in effect told to not worry, it'll all be okay in the end.  The connection was then abruptly terminated.

As a Foxtel customer, and in fact as a Human Being, I demand to have effective communicaton with my service provider, and directly, not via a recorded message with electronic voice prompts, and especially not with one that simply cuts out and offers no feedback whatsoever.  This is utterly unacceptable.

I want my Foxtel!  And as a paying customer, I want it now!  I understand that from time to time there may be the occasional issue with signal reception, with broadcast interruptions, and what have you - BUT NOT DURING MY A-LEAGUE GAMES!!!  I do not have the time to watch every show about Lifestyles, or models, or selling property, or indeed even the delights offered by the adult oriented "Special Interest" channels.  All I want is my football, and the only option I have tonight, after a long week at work, is to evoke bygone days of silent moving pictures by watching the Melbourne Victory with the only audio being the whingeing of my children, the criticisms of my wife, and the mordant sighs of my own tortured soul, instead of the inane but entertaining commentary of Andy Harper and the insufferable Michael Cockerill.

Thanks a lot.


Matt Cooper

Friday, July 16, 2010

Mucho Frustrazione!

Yeah yeah, I know, it's a terrible mash-up of language in the title, but I'm going insane here!

I've spent the last three days dealing with a virus infection on my computer, and I have had enough!  The little basterd is called 'Desktop Security 2010' and it has invaded all of the good shit on my machine.  Just when you are happy with the way your pc is running you get infected by this kind of crap!  To whoever is responsible for this program, let it be known:  You are a miserable piece of shit, worthy of none of the good things that life can bring.  FUCK YOU!

Right.  That is partially out of my system.  I have been consoling myself with the counsel of wise friends and enthusiasts, listening to Abbey Road (yep, I have been low!), re-organising my little studio, sampling some of my excellent home-brew, and cursing the little fuckers responsible - you know who you are.

There has been one positive in all this.  If there is one way to get to learn about computers, it's to wreck one and then rebuild/disinfect it!  Not the way I would prefer, of course, but meh.  Now I know slightly more about modern personal computing than I did a week ago.

Another little problem I have encountered is my preamp in my studio is playing up.  I get crackling and signal loss on the right hand channel, particularly when playing at low levels.  I can put up with it (kind of), but it's driving me nuts.  My fixit man told me a while back that this is a common problem with older amps of the NAD brand (it's a 314 integrated amp that I have switched to preamp mode, powered by a great little Proton AA-1150), easily fixed, apparently, but the $$$ just aint there at the mo.  Come on tax return!  Come on lottery win!  Come on new job!!!

I've also got a couple of additions to my Freezing Phoenix blog to do, but I'm unwilling to add any more photos to my system while this Desktop shit is plagueing me.  But regarding The Local's  stout range (especially the offerings from 3 Ravens, Moo Brew and Mountain Goat), and some of the brews from Bridge Road Brewers, James Squire (Malt Runner) and Monteith's, the reviews are coming...

Enough already.   I'm still cranky.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

More Attaxas Music

I've gone and put another little ditty up on my Myspace page.  This song is called InTheTrees.  I am continuing with the facade of it all being a collaborative effort, just for kicks, to see who I might fool.  Haven't done any vocals yet as I'm enjoying writing the music too much!  My plan is to continue with a couple more tracks, finish up the remaining 18-odd songs and then concentrate on vocals only.  Hopefully all done by September (I know, I know, it's getting pushed back further all the time!  Hey, I got kids, man.).

You can check it out here at the Attaxas Myspace site.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Logo Competition For The Freezing Phoenix!

I have started a competition for a logo for my beer, details of which can be seen here at the Freezing Phoenix.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

First Attaxas Song Up!

I have finally thrown caution (and my ego) to the wind, and put up the first of my ATTAXAS songs up on Myspace.  The title is a little long-winded and pompous (it's Latin, after all!), but it seems to suit the song (what?  am I saying that this song is pompous and long-winded?  Shit, maybe I am...).  Stigmata Tantum Recubo, an instrumental piece, and the one that will open the album.  You can check it out here at  If you want a translation, then look it up yourself!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

What Would Germaine Greer Do?

"For women, arousal may be necessary for desire but not sufficient. Sometimes, women won't want sex until they've started having it and many enjoy sex without orgasming. Being desired exclusively seems to be key to female libido, which may explain why relationships initially arouse women but cease to do so as time goes on. Indeed, while men tend to find their partners more desirable over time, women often need a new partner to rekindle desire."  Leslie Cannold, Fairfax Media.

Wow!  There are so many things that I could say about this paragraph from Ms Cannold.  Where does one start?  I particularly like the part where she says:  " Sometimes, women won't want sex until they've started having it..."  Er, exactly what are we talking about here?  Is this some kind of suggestion about (dare I say it?) that Freudian idea of the rape fantasy, or the enjoyment of coersion?  A minefield if ever I saw one.  Funny how in the last line Cannold seems to go against the grain  with the suggestion that for sex (for women) to be enjoyable they need new partners to 'rekindle desire'.  Isn't that the male cliche?  Where the hell is Germaine Greer when you really need her?  I want to hear more about the penetration hierarchy, you know, that whole 'those who penetrate and those who are penetrated' schtick!  That I can understand!

I love reading articles like this, purely for total confusion value.  Just when I thought I was starting to get a grip on Life, The Universe and Everything, along comes another writer that completely fucks-up my reality.  The lens of my existence is diffused that little bit more.  Face it people:  sex is complex, desire is complex, people are complex.  Any type of so-called objective stereotyping is wrong wrong wrong!!! 

Now it's time for me to go back to chopping those cucumbers, zucchinis, melons and coconuts...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Freezing Phoenix

I have started a new blog solely devoted to my passion for beer - the Freezing Phoenix.  You can check it out here.

I realised that the Official Koops Blog was starting to look more like a homebrewers recipe guide than a blog about Yours Truly, so here is the result.  I will be transferring the recipes below over to the TFP , so from now on, if you have been visting to see any of my brewing stuff, start following the Phoenix!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

And Whilst On The Subject Of The World Cup...

For all of you so-called 'professional' journalists out there, especially the ones who specialize in sport journalism (an oxymoron if ever there was one) - THE PLURAL OF 'STADIUM' IS 'STADIA', GODDAMIT!!!  NOT 'STADIUMS'!!!  It is driving me fucking mental here!

End of rant.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

World Cup Speziell Bock

Well, finally, it's that time of the year.  Brewing season has well and truly begun, and the World Cup is nearly upon us, so to celebrate this momentous occasion I have put together a recipe for a lager to suit.  As our first opponent in this, the greatest of all competitions, is Germany, I have decided to follow the theme with a German-style lager, or strong bock.  The World Cup Speziell Bock has a medium body, complimented with a complex, spicy hoppiness that balances well with the alcohol content.  Having only just started this brew, it's not really going to be ready in time for the great competition, but what the hell, at least we will be able to sample it around the time when Australia qualifies for the group of 16!

Brewed in the style of some of the great European strong lagers (think Paulaner, or even a strong Dortmunder), this little gem is spicy, with a little touch of citrus, with a solid, but not overpowering bitterness.  I'm not usually a fan of the super-malty lagers (the lighter ones, anyway), and even though I'm using a fair amount of malt for this recipe, I'm pretty confident that this will be balanced out with the hop/alcohol combination.

Enjoy brewing!

World Cup Speziell Bock (approx. 7.5% alc.)

Black Rock Bitter
Black Rock light malt extract 1.5kg
500g crystal malt grain
500g Munich malt grain
250g pils malt grain
500g dried light malt extract
250g glucose
250g dried corn syrup
15g Green Bullet hops @ 25 mins
10g Amarillo hops @ 10 mins
10g Belgian Saaz/Motueka hops @ 5 mins
15g Tettnanger finishing hops
11g munich yeast

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Latest Offering From Koopsbrew.

I have put together a wheat beer today for the first time.  After racking my attempt at an American Pale Ale, I got stuck into what I call the "Freiheit Weizenbier", or "Freedom Wheat-beer".  I have decided that after I use up my three remaining malt-extract kits I am going to concentrate on making malt-grain brews only.  I have done the research, and I think ten solid years of kit-based brewing is an apprenticeship enough.  Hold my breath, count to ten, and here we go...

Freiheit Weizenbier (approx. 5.7% alc)

Black Rock Whispering Wheat hopped malt-extract kit
750g glucose
300g dried light malt extract
250g dried corn syrup
250g pils malt grain
500g Munich malt grain
5g Green Bullet hops @ 15 min
15g Hersbrucker hops @ 5 min
20g Saaz hops dry-hopped
11.5g Safbrew WB-06 wheat beer yeast

See below for method.  All grain was steeped at around 66degC for 90 minutes.

Socceroos Squad For 2010 World Cup

Just announced by Koops himself, the following is the 25-man squad Pim Verbeek should take to South Africa...

Mark Schwarzer (Fulham), Michael Petkovic (Sivasspor), Brad Jones (Middlesborough).

Luke Wilkshire (Dynamo Moscow), Lucas Neill (Galatasaray), Sasa Ognenovski (Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma), Simon Colosimo (Melbourne Heart), Brett Emerton (Blackburn), Mark Milligan (JEF United), Jade North (Tromso), Scott Chipperfield (Basel).

Brett Holman (AZ Alkmaar), Dario Vidosic (MSV Duisburg), Tim Cahill (Everton), James Troisi (Kaiserispor), Mark Bresciano (Palermo), Vincenzo Grella (Blackburn), Nick Carle (Crystal Palace), Nathan Burns (Kerkyra), Rhys Williams (Middlesborough).

Harry Kewell (Galatasaray), Joel Griffiths (Beijing Gouan), Scott MacDonald (Middlesborough), Josh Kennedy (Nagoya Grampus), Danny Allsopp (DC United).

I would also like to see a small selection of young up-and-coming players go to South Africa to train with the main squad, so that they can be part of, and gain from, the experience.  This is a kind of recognition of the young players' talents, and a consolation for not making the squad this time around.  I believe that these young players and the squad itself would benefit with them being there.

Guest Squad Players
 Bruce Djite (Diyarbakirspor), Tommy Oar (Brisbane Roar), Matthew Leckie (Adelaide United), Scott Jamieson (Adelaide United), Mitch Langerak (Melbourne Victory).

Competition for places is always stong, and the standard of players is much better than people often credit.  Apologies for anyone who didn't make the list.

World Cup prediction:  Australia to exit in the Round of 16.

Come on Aussies!!!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

New World Pale Ale.

The Republican Stout has been bottled, and so now it's time to move on to the next project:  New World Pale Ale.  This little delight is done in the style of the classic American pale ales, that is, big floral notes on the nose, a medium body, with a solid bitterness and lasting, but not overpowering, astringency.  I have used Amarillo and Chinook hops in the main stage of fermentation for this one, owing to the impact that the Mikkeller Amarillo IPA has had on me!  I think the Chinook works well with the Amarillo, too, and I am using Cascade to dry-hop when racking to add another dimension of complexity without making the flavour too busy.  See below for the malt combination, but needless-to-say I have bumped-up the alcohol content merely to act as a good bridge between the malt and hop flavours, rather than for any less salubrious or unwholesome reason.

New World Pale Ale (approx. 6.5% alc)

1 x Malt Shovel Pale Ale Kit
1.5kg Black Rock Light Malt Extract
300g crystal malt grain
250g pils malt grain
500g dried light malt
150g dried corn syrup
10g Amarillo hops (10 minute boil)
10g Chinook hops (3 minute boil)
1 x Cascade finishing hops (added after racking)
11.5g Safale US-05 yeast

See below at the Republican Stout recipe for the method.  This one pretty much follows the same course, with the exception of the steeping of the grain - for this recipe I steeped the malt grain for 120 minutes.

Safe and happy brewing!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Koops Checks Out His New Home, Or, Acknowledging The Legacy Of Bucky Fuller.

(click on above image for full pic)

This morning I had the pleasure to attend the exclusive Members' Open Day at the new Swan Street Stadium, otherwise known commercially as AAMI Park.  The new stadium is the shared home of the local A-League franchises Melbourne Victory and  Melbourne Heart, rugby union's Melbourne Rebels and the much maligned and damaged rugby league team Melbourne Storm.  What a delightful venue it is.

As I wandered through the soon-to-be-hallowed-corridors, and the soon-to-be-smelly bars, I couldn't help but notice that it seems to be the done thing these days that when one attends this sort of event there are no servers up, or the computer system has crashed, or no one really has any information that you are actually needing, or one is given the wrong directions to one's seat and so on and so forth.  Thankfully, the staff working this event did not disappoint.  Although they were all very polite, none of them seemed to really have any idea what was going on - apart from the courteous security staff at the entrance that informed me that no camera lenses greater than 200mm were allowed to be taken in by patrons.  (I asked the security guard why this was policy and he was unable to give me an answer.  I can't help but think this to be idiotic beyond comprehension.  There are no TV rights to infringe, no exclusivity of advertising to violate, no press deals to compromise.  Why, Victory?  Why?)  Luckily, I was armed simply with my 18-55mm Canon workhorse.  Anyway.   The stadium attendants seemed to have only a rather approximate knowledge of the layout of the stadium, and the club officials present had zero information on seating allocations and were only guessing about membership packages for next season.  Clearly either they were all sleeping through the club's staff indoctrination, or it never happened.  No matter.  The place looks amazing, and as I entered the stadium proper I was covered in goosebumps, imagining the game-time atmosphere.   I had the chance to inspect the view/perspective of my seat (pic above at right), and despite being in the corner of the pitch I witnessed first-hand that there is not a poor seat in the house.  BRING IT ON!!!  The vibe of the place for the derby matches versus the Heart are going to be simply incredible.  I believe that the Heart are attempting to organise a match against Everton for late July 2010, and I admit that I am tempted to go just to see a team like the Toffees play at such a ground.

To any fan of either the round-ball game, or either of the two codes of rugby:  get yourself a season ticket to the team of your choice and get down to this stadium to participate in this experience.  It is going to be brilliant!

I have heard AAMI Park referred to as a 'boutique stadium'.  This cute - and slightly patronizing - term does no justice whatsoever to the stadium's design, where patrons are not just close to the action but virtually on top of it.  Whereas with the stadium at Docklands, where football fans are merely spectators (and this includes the fans of Australian Football), here at AAMI Park the fans are direct participants.  With a capacity of 30,500, I suppose in the context of the legendary Melbourne Cricket Ground across the road a bit it is 'boutique' (I shudder to think how many AAMI Parks you could fit within the confines of that awesome arena), but I expect that this new building will garner quite a reputation within the football world that will belie the tag.  Having seen it this morning I offer my honest congratulations to the architects, Cox Architects and Planners.  It's always lovely to see any work of Buckminster Fuller first-hand, and to see this (I can only assume) homage to his original  idea of the geodesic dome literally in front of my eyes is wonderous indeed.  Now far be it for me to suggest  that football fans would necessarily appreciate this fact any less than the average architect, or indeed the average futurist, but I suppose that it will be enjoyed more simply because of the roof's similarity with the shape of the round-ball.  At any rate, I, Bucky Fuller, acknowledge your contribution, even if the architects may not.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

My New Favourite Beer...

Actually, it's not the ABSOLUTE favourite, but it's up there.  Mikkeller (Single Hop - Armarillo) IPA (pic on left).  Tasted at The Local Taphouse, East St Kilda.  Now, it's not a beer for everyone - this has a MASSIVE hop start and finish, initially on the nose as very floral, this wonder ends with an amazing crunchy and refreshing bitterness. A superb grainy starter, this one.  It's not too alcohol-ly at 6.9%, and I could have had several of these, but there was more tasting to be done...

One of the superb offers they have at The Local is the tasting paddle (pic on right).  For a measly $13 you get a selection of 5 beers (either of your choice or decided by the barkeep) complimented with a bunch of palate-cleansing water crackers.  The beers are served in tasting glasses and top out to about 150mls per glass. This is the perfect way to sample a variety of the tap beers on offer, and it gave me the chance to discover a couple of real gems.  Chevalier Saison, Hargreaves Hill ESB, and the Franziskaner Hefe Weizen were a few of the stand-outs for me.  My tasting partner and I had two of the paddles each, and still only sampled about half of the beers available on tap.  Also, in true Belgian style, I also had a bowl of mussells to complement my tasting experience - lovely!

Now I would like to say that this is less about a free plug for a pub than it is about expressing my love for the noble drink.  I had the opportunity to go to Germany, Belgium and Holland a couple of years ago and sampled many, many of the local brews off the tap and was blown away by the quality, the flavours and the sheer variety of beer in that region.  As a home craft-brewer I was inspired, and as a consumer I was revelated!  And so, as a brewer, I celebrate this love in my blog...

And on the subject of brewing, my Republican Stout is about 5 days away from being bottled.  I have decided to not rack this one, instead keeping all of the essence of the first fermentation intact to retain as much of those big flavours as possible - and I'm not interested in making this any more complex flavour-wise with dry-hopping.   I'll let you know how it goes!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Wetting Of The Head

We have in our society a strange ritual that takes place after the birth of a child.  I would like to think that the idea of the 'Wetting Of The Head' came about as some kind of secular alternative to christening, or some such other archaic tradition, but I suspect that it has more to do with a new father's need to get blind drunk in the face of continued hardship (this doesn't apply to this father, of course!).

So anyways, there will be a WOTH ceremony to celebrate the birth of my newest son.  Details as follows.  You are all invited to attend and buy me a glass of my choice of fine ale.

Wetting Of The Head
Thursday, 15th of April
1600hrs until approx hell freezes
The Local Taphouse
184 Carlisle St
St Kilda East

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Coming Soon To A Theatre Near You - Rated NRC.

A   T   T   A   X   A   S
Work on my ATTAXAS project continues.  So far I have 3 songs fully tracked and ready for vocals, with a further 14 songs in development (half finished).

ATTAXAS is an electronic-based project, a bit of a first for me, with a lot of hip-hop, pop and 'techno' influences mixed with my love of stoner and metal.  It will be interesting to hear how it all sounds once it's finished!  I have also been developing a number of tracks based around the "Shit Raps" concept, with some terrible and turbo-charged loops, which is proving to be awesome fun!  In fact some of the "Shit Raps" tracks are so good that I have 'stolen' some of these ideas and used them for ATTAXAS songs...

Hopefully the ATTAXAS material will be ready for outing by the end of June.  Otherwise, if you make it over to my joint I am happy to play you a quick selection...

Monday, April 5, 2010

Republican Stout

Over the last few years I have been conducting a great deal of experimentation with home craft brewing.  As you would expect, there has been some spectacular successes (Belgian Trippel, Double Bock/Dunkel, Chocolate Stout, American Lagers, Czech Pilseners, and many more) as well as some incredible failures (Rasberry Ale, double strength ginger beer, Honey Ale).  It was suggested to me recently, after a tasting of my latest Belgian Trippel which, after a couple of hours ended being a bit ga-ga, I should start posting my recipes on my blog.  So here it is.  The first blog-brew.

Republican Stout (approx. 8.4% alc)


1x Coopers stout kit
500g chocolate malt grain
250g dextrose
500g dark malt extract
1000g light malt extract
250g honey
100g golden syrup
5ml liquorice extract
10g Fuggles hops (5 minute boil)
10g Hersbrucker hops (1 minute boil)
Safale 04  yeast (11.5g)


  • In a large steel pot (at least 10L), steep grain in 3L of water heated to 70degC for 60 minutes, then strain and rinse grain with 1L of 70degC water.  
  • Add another litre of (cold is okay) water, add kit malt, and other sugars, liquorice and syrups, stir to dissolve, then boil for 30 minutes.  Usually as the wort starts to boil there will be a large amount of foamy build-up on top of the mixture.  Stir regularly, as this will help dissipate this froth, which should go by around the 10-15 minute mark of the boil (this moment is referred to as 'boil-over').
  • After 30 minutes, add the Fuggles and stir in wort.  Fuggles add a lovely flavour to the stout, with only a mild bitterness which complements darker styles.
  • After 5 minutes add Hersbrucker and stir in wort.  Hersbrucker is a European hop variety usually reserved for lighter-style lagers and pilseners, but as we are only boiling for one minute, we are looking more for aroma than bitterness here.  Hersbrucker is spicy and flavoursome, and this little addition will add a fantastic but subtle complexity to the astringency (after-taste) of the stout.
  • After boiling with Hersbrucker for 1 minute, remove from heat and put pot in very cold (icy) water for 20 minutes.  This will rapidly reduce the temperature of the the wort to a much more yeast-friendly level.
  • Next strain wort into fementer, and top up with cold water to 20L.
  • Pitch rehydrated yeast when wort is at 18-20degC and gently stir.

When ready to bottle, a little hint:  only add half of the regular amount of priming sugar to bottles.  This will help create a terrific body to your Republican Stout!

Allow to condition for 6-8 weeks (12 weeks is ideal!).  The wait will be well worth it!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sydney Wins The GF, Koops Loses Brain Cells...

The day after the Grand Final between Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC (Australia's version of the Classico) and I am feeling very disappointed indeed.  To go down to a team that played such cynical football is a hard thing.  Oh well, we soldier on.  I suppose in a way I was lucky - normally I would have attended the match without thinking twice (especially having attended the previous two magnificent Grand Finals the Victory had qualified for), but this time I was saved from the first-hand despair of being there by the fact that my partner is about to give birth to our third child, and I am on 24-hour-driving-to-the-hospital-in-a-calm-and-orderly-fashion-whilst-not-being-under-the-influence-of-drink-or-drugs-or-elation-caused-by-winning-the-grand-final.  Hmpf!  Towards the end of the match, as I was about to get myself another cold bottle of Rheinheitsgebot refreshment I was told in no uncertain terms that "(She) didn't want alcoholic breath in (her) face while (she) was about to push out a baby!"  Jesus woman!  It's a GRAND FINAL!!!  And anyways, never underestimate the effectiveness of a well-placed tictac!  Needless to say, the baby didn't come last night during or after the game (sparing me the embarrassment of having to name him after the entire playing list of the opposition's team), and come 11.30 the following morning we are still playing the waiting game... 

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Birthday Greetings

Today is TGLW's Birthday. I can't mention the exact age, but it's somewhere between 21 and 43.  If you think real hard, I'm sure you can work it out - if you were that way inclined...

So, on behalf of Men, the world over (well, at least those that reside here in Melbourne), I would like to thank Alannah Hill, Borders and JB Hi Fi for making my shopping experience as pleasurable and painless as possible.

I become very self-conscious when buying gifts for others, especially for TGLW.  Most often I feel like Homer Simpson when he bought the greatest gift he could possibly think of for his wife Marge - a bowling ball with his own name inscribed on it.  God!  I feel I am being judged on every gift!  Nothing is ever good enough!  They are always too cheap!  Too ugly!  Too practical!  Too boring!  And so on.  There is no gift that conveys my true feelings of love and appreciation.  Have I bought a bowling ball this year?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Writing For The Audience...

I'm starting to get a good idea as to what it is that my audience is looking for in my blogs.  After the massively underwhelming response for my Iraq Inquiry article, I realise that there is really only one thing that people are really interested in and that is tits!

Well fuck you all!  I'm'a start to get pollytik on yo ass, bitches!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Iraq Inquiry Is A Waste Of Time.

I want to express my complete dismay with Britain's Iraq  Inquiry.  Rather than being an exercise in self-examination, the whole thing seems to have descended into a finger-pointing and blame-game charade, where most of the fingers get pointed at Blair and Bush, and Jack Straw too, to boot.  Yawn.  We have heard it all before.  To my knowledge, there has not been one new piece of vital evidence submitted to this commission.  We have seen the brouhaha surrounding Straw, Freedman, Chilcott, et al, submissions of oral and written testimony (are these people actually on trial - at least, in the legal sense?).  How are we meant to be left feeling?  Still empty.  Still frustrated.  Will anything change as a result of this inquiry?  Or will wars still be waged by others on behalf of our own common good and the well-being of Western democracies?

Allow me to put it all in a nut-shell:

Yes, the United States and Britain (the two major players in all this, yes, yes, we know) made substantive errors of judgement in regards to analysis of intelligence relating to Saddam's 'supposed' arsenal of WMDs.

Yes, the United States and Britain made significant errors in correlating their intelligence in regards to Iraq's involvement with terror cells, especially as related to al Qaeda and 9/11.

And yes, the US (particularly) was certainly in error for presenting flawed data and intelligence to the UN to justify military action against Iraq.


There is still a very pertinent argument for the invasion that I think a lot of people seem to forget in the whole "We Hate George Bush/No Blood For Oil/Blair Is A Puppet/War Is Wrong" haze, and that is (again, in a nut-shell) - SADDAM HUSSEIN WAS FUCKING EVIL! 

Of course, we all know about some of the sickening and deprived acts perpretrated on his own caste, and the peoples of the North of Iraq, and too against the Iranians, and let's not forget his affiliation with the PLO and Abu Nidal at a time when they were at their violent peak during the '80's - they are in fact legion - but there is one thing that pisses me off more than anything in regards to Hussein's actions leading up to the war.  Saddam Hussein was gambling with everything in this, the biggest of modern pissing contests:  his own honour (as seen by his fellow Mid-East leaders), his local power-base within Iraq, his prestige amongst his pathetic and cowardly military, and his credibility as seen by past and possible future allies.  He was so willing to put it all on the line in this strange game of brinkmanship.  A testament to his insanity, perhaps?

Another aspect to this debacle unfolding in London at the moment that gets to me, and that seems to have been conveniently forgotten by all involved, is the fact THE ENTIRE WORLD WAS AGAINST SADDAM.  Yes people, the whole of the Middle East, the Russians and the Chinese were dead against Mr Hussein too.  I have not heard any mention of UN Resolution 660 in this Iraq Inquiry.  Nor of resolution 661.  You can add to that resolutions 678, 686, 687, 688, 707, 715, 986 and 1284.  No mention of any of the direct orders of Iraq's compliance with UN directives to allow weapons inspectors to do their job, that is, the job of determining Hussein's veracity in regards to the denial of possessing and manufacturing weapons of mass destruction, to compensate Kuwait for the 1991 invasion,  and to cease importing weapons from third parties.  All that this guy had to do was open the door to these United Nations inspectors, not corral them as he did time after time, and the issue would never have developed as it did.

Of course, we have heard of Resolution 1441, that UN directive that pretty much made it all legal for a military response to Saddam's prevarication.  I would remind you, dear reader, that this resolution was passed unanimously by the UN.  That word again:  unanimously.  That shit just doesn't happen at the 'United' Nations!

I was disappointed with Hans Blix's distasteful comments in the media regarding the actions of the Coalition governments in the lead-up to the invasion.  I remember at the time that he was a vocal opponent of military action, but I seem to remember that he was also quite vocal in venting his frustration with the Iraqi regime's tactics of the day.  Why bring up the same old I-told-you-so antics?

Anyone that has any doubts about the decision-makers involved in the invasion should read Sharon de Young's excellent biography of Colin Powell (Soldier:  The Life Of Colin Powell, Vintage, 2006).  De Young reveals a great deal of the politics involved between the Departments of State and Defence, as well as the influence of Cheney on Bush.  Rather than being the lynch-pin in the US's deceptive justifications for war, Powell is revealed more as the lonely voice of reason, and perhaps as a bit of a patsy for that adminstration.  Where the hounds of the adminstration were pushing for invasion and subjugation, the General was calling for restraint and caution, a well-planned and gradual build-up to action rather than the hacked-together rush for intervention.  Read the book.  Case closed.

I just can't help but feel that the British Iraq Inquiry is perhaps a well-meaning exercise, but one that is poorly executed.  Britain needs an inquiry far less than the United States.  This commission has no teeth.  No one can be indicted for war crimes as a result of this, there can be no formal amendment to British law.  What is the point?  Why should the Inquiry limit itself to examining the 2003 war?  Why not have a look at the 1991 conflict, too?  Surely that action is worthy of another look, in the context of how it all played out up till March 20, 2003?  What?  Too hard?  Not worth getting Lady Thatcher and Mr Major up for a grilling?

We in the West have to ask ourselves two questions (we have this luxury, living in affluent, stable  democracies as we do).  Firstly, is the world better off without Saddam Hussein?  Secondly, is Iraq better off without Saddam Hussein?   Despite what our governments would like us to believe, there are no simple answers to this, but being situated as I am in this affluent, stable and distant Western democracy, I wonder if my answers would be vastly different to those of my Iraqi brothers and sisters.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Summer Of Love...

I have been lucky enough to have relocated for three weeks to climes other than the usual, to a place I call "Paradise".  No, I didn't get my grubby little hands on a stash of high-dose LSD, an heroic quantity of psilocybin mushrooms, or the latest batch of pharmaceutical-grade DMT (God!  As if!).  Instead, I packed the family into the car and drove for a thousand kilometres - itself a mind-altering experience - to reach the (Australian) equivalent of Nirvana.

Now rather than just give you a blow-by-blow of the whole twenty-odd days, let me just give you a short list of my favourite experiences...

(In no particular order...)
  • Salty, sea- and sunscreen-flavoured kisses
  • The squeal and laughter of my children as they run full-pelt into the water at the beach
  • Playing golf - my first time, and I'm nearly ashamed to say that I am a convert
  • Oysters and prawns and fish all with lemon juice and tobasco, and always with either a very cold, dry beer or very cold sauvignon blanc
  • Smoking a joint and listening to the surf on the balcony after the kids are in bed
  • A blue moon on a warm clear night, the light reflecting off the ocean, so beautiful it seems almost corny
  • Swimming in the surf, that sweet sensation of being lulled into a state of pure relaxation by the rhythm of the ocean
  • The feel of sand on skin, and in hair, after a morning of being at the beach
  • Having a manta ray swim past me, and then spending the next 20 minutes watching for shadows in the water
  • The feel of the first sunburn 
  • Reading a book in the sun for the whole day
  • The modern day prep of 20 minutes of sunscreen application - a relaxing and meditative routine itself
Another thing that I noticed that was very significant was the effect the Ocean had on my libido.  Goddammit if I wasn't horny just about all the time!  I'm not talking about walking around with a constant hard-on, rather, just the feeling of being turned-on, a kind of constant, low-level background zinging. I had no need to wonder if this seemingly Reichian effect is actual or imaginary because my partner seemed to be affected in the same way!  Did Dr Reich ever study the Ocean in this way?  Was there ever a study done to measure the Orgone of the Ocean?  Let me know.