'THE MEANING OF EXISTENCE (AND OTHER SHORT STORIES)' is available for purchase! Just follow the link for an on-line shopping experience that will surely blow your mind.  Upon request, Stuart will sign your copy, either with his name or that of somebody else selected by you.  The book was launched on 28 November 2011 at the Wheeler Centre and is now orbiting the third sun of Jupiter.   In doing so, it has become the first collection of short stories to reach a major cellestial body since Max Walker's 'How to Puzzle a Python' was smuggled on board the Soyuz TM-4 Mir Space Station by one of the cosmonauts.  Also, the first chapter of Stuart's upcoming novel 'GOODSIR' is available in a newly released anthology.  It can be downloaded for free from Amazon by using the following address: http://www.amazon.com/Writing-Novel-Anthology-2012-ebook/dp/B009YNMPPW  Frankly, it would be cheap at half the price.

The Deconstructed Corned Beef Fritter Debacle

It was a ruin; a steaming, smouldering wreck that could not be retrieved. The hot mess in front of me was supposed to be corned beef fritters. At best it was an abject failure. At worst, it would be something that anyone who’d ever strolled past the television during a cooking program might describe as ‘deconstructed’. All the ingredients were present and accounted for; all that was left was for me to pull the whole thing together. It was in this regard that I had failed and failed miserably at that. Despite my adherence to the recipe, the fritters were determined to break apart. Regardless of the effort I took and despite the abundance of caution I exercised, after mere moments in the fry pan they began to disintegrate. As the remnants sizzled in front of my eyes, all I could think was: this is a symbol of everything that has gone wrong.

The Great Salt-N-Pepa Brain Invasion

I don’t know how it got it in there. Maybe while my back was turned, perhaps when I was sleeping. But whatever the method, fact is it’s wheedled it’s way in and there doesn’t seem to be anything I can do to get it out again. Like a possum in a roof cavity, it’s going to be extremely hard to evict. Sure, like anyone, I remember Salt-N-Pepa’s smash hit from 1992, ‘Shoop’. I just never expected it to show up unannounced all this time later and take up residency between my ears. I am now in the unfortunate position that the lyrics to ‘Shoop’ burst into my thinking when I least expect. It is, at the very least, distracting.

In Search of the Shipwreck of My Youth

Looking back, it was a golden summer. At the time though, it was little more than the gap between first and second year Uni. I went with a group of friends to Merimbula on the South Coast of New South Wales. I’d been just once before with my family; a trip memorable only for the fact that it rained continuously and that we barely left the motel room. This time things would be different. We were leaving just after Christmas and the chances of sustained precipitation were about as slim as we were.

A Farewell To Cool

So long. I barely knew you. But now’s the time to accept it’s over. For much of my life, I aspired to attain you. As King David once lusted after Bathsheba, so too you have been my heart’s desire. But it is clear to me that this passion will remain forever unrequited. I will never be cool. I will never possess coolness, nor trip over it accidentally as I make my way to the kitchen before turning the light on. It is simply not meant to be. I know that now. To precise, I knew it on Thursday of last week. For it was on that day that I finally surrendered any hope whatsoever of being even remotely cool when, for the first time, I strapped on a bum bag.

A Rock Music Fan’s Guide to Modern Etiquette

It’s a tough job. Being the opening act for a bigger, more popular band is much like being invited to a really wonderful party only to have all the other guests ignore your attempts to engage in conversation. You take to the stage brimming with enthusiasm only to be confronted by rows of empty seats because half the audience has chosen to have dessert rather than turn up on time. If you’re lucky, the evening will end with you raiding the band rider but not much more. Such is the lot of a support band.

The Paranoid Android Anxiety Complex

It was inevitable, I suppose. At some point I was always going to raise the white flag and succumb. After all, you can only resist for so long. Besides, our fourth anniversary loomed and, according to Wikipedia, such occasions are celebrated with gifts of linen, silk or appliances. If you can find an appliance made of linen and silk, I suppose that would be ideal, but they are few and far between. Next year it’s ‘wood’, which doesn’t sound especially promising, but this year is gizmos and gadgets. These were the heightened circumstances under which I finally relented and bought a robot vacuum cleaner.

A Tale of Christmas Past, Present and Future

During our weekly phone conversation, my father and I often discuss up-coming family functions. Christmas is no exception. PETE: We’ll come at noon. Wendy’s bringing a turkey. ME: That’s no way to talk about yourself! (prolonged pause for laughter only to be filled by a gaping silence) I’d like to think the lack of laughter was not the fault of the joke itself which, frankly, was near perfect but the subject matter. After all, Christmas is a very serious business. In ‘A Christmas Carol’, Ebenezer Scrooge has possibly the worst night’s sleep of his miserable life when the ghost of a former business partner rocks up to tell him to expect a visitation from the spirits of Christmases Past, Present and Yet to Come. In a way, we’re all like Scrooge. By that, I don’t mean miserly or otherwise wretched, but that Christmas is a bit of a signpost for where we’ve been and where we’re headed.

The Sheer, Undeniable Brilliance of You

Genius. It’s a word we use all too sparingly. Mozart was a genius, Little Richard too. Picasso was a genius even though he was a pretty awkward human being. Catch 22 is a work of genius although people less commonly bestow that honour on its author, Joseph Heller. It’s a mercurial kind of business. Generally speaking, ‘genius’ is a label we reserve for certain fields of endeavour such as literature, music, art and the like. But there’s no good reason for being so stingy. Instead, I think there’s a case for celebrating brilliance where you find it.

To Sir; With Lots and Lots of Love

The dream is over. For two and a half years I was in with a shot, but not anymore. Granted, my chances of being knighted were so slim that if standing side on you’d be lucky to see them at all, but a chance is still a chance no matter how remote it may be. That news the imperial honours system has been junked should break just weeks before a new Star Wars film is released - presumably robbing imperial Storm Troopers of any hope that their work trying to fend off a Jedi-led insurgency might finally be recognised in a meaningful way - is almost too tragic for words.

Living Life Extra, Extra, Extra Large

The results, to date, have been decidedly mixed. Like many people, I have finally succumbed to the charms of Internet shopping, although the outcomes are somewhat unpredictable. Frankly, the entire exercise is a black hole; one in which time loses its meaning. Where the quest to manage your virtual shopping basket becomes something of a holy quest before the connection times out or the site crashes. Serves me right for using a homemade modem I put together with an empty tissue box, three bits of string and a nine-volt battery.

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