'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.

Perturbation and Other Mouth Manglers

I don’t why I kept it. Tucked between a couple of paper backs was a thin, brown volume. On the front it read ‘Spelling and Vocabulary Work Book’. On the cover I had written my name (twice, for reasons that now elude me), my school and my phone number. It was, perhaps, somewhat optimistic to think that in the event that I misplaced my Spelling and Vocabulary Work Book that a member of the general public might call me as a matter of urgency. Stumbling across something that is little more than a glorified pamphlet is not exactly on par with find their wallet or a child. Not that I ever misplaced it.

The Awkward Orchestra Debacle

They’re the odd couple in our local strip of shops. Side by side they sit, representing two very different worlds. The first is a Catholic bookstore. It’s closed on Sundays, naturally, and does a quiet but steady trade. The shop next door does tattoos. When I was growing up, these were referred to as ‘tattoo parlours’, but now they tend to prefer ‘studio’. That’s because the term ‘parlour’ was only ever used to describe businesses that operated under the shadow of infamy. Tattoos and pinball – both had the ‘parlour’ tag. Not now, though. Things have changed.

Muffin's Gonna Stop Us Now

It was inevitable, I guess. Sooner or later, it was my destiny that I should be lured back by the siren's sweet and funky song. It was only ever really a question of when. So it is that after twenty years I have taken the bold leap back into music and joined a band. And not just any band, either. More a super group. By which I mean, of course, that we may wear capes when appearing on stage. So behold the melodic wonderment of my new band, as it will shortly establish itself as a veritable ear-worm factory. Ladies and gentlemen; I give you Blueberry Crumble Muffin.

Real Rivalries That Deserve the Big Screen Treatment

Frankly, I can take it or leave it. The idea of seeing Batman and Superman going toe to toe for a couple of hours fills me with little more than inertia. Granted, given that the movie is going gangbusters at cinemas across the globe, I am clearly in the minority. On paper at least, it’s the ultimate alpha male showdown between men in tights. Which, I guess, might be entertainment of a kind. I suppose my problem with the concept is this: Batman and Superman may well get on each other’s nerves, but basically we all know they’re on the same side. They’re bound to end up, if not friends, then at least having a begrudging respect for each other. (I should have preceded that statement with the words ‘spoiler alert’. Sorry.)

Everything You Needed to Know about Democracy (But Were Afraid to Ask)

There has never been a more exciting time to call a double dissolution election. I love elections generally, but the possibility of a double D is enough to make me click my heels with joy. Fact is, double dissolution elections are about as rare as Halley’s comet and heaps more enjoyable because they don’t involve getting up at three o’clock in the morning, trudging into the back paddock and staring forlornly into the sky in the hope of seeing a little bit of light flash across the sky like a radioactive mosquito.

Once Bittern, Twice Shy

‘Big ups’. Until the moment these words were uttered, I’d been having a perfectly pleasant time. We were driving to Bittern, listening to a self-declared ‘youth orientated’ radio station. I’d been heartened by the fact that songs which, ostensibly, were written, performed and directed towards young people did not sound like something that made me want to hand my ears back on the grounds that they were clearly defective. Rather, these were songs that sounded like songs and not a computer malfunction. After the music stopped, a voice that sounded as if she may not yet be old enough to drive uttered the words that would cause my sense of wellbeing to instantly unravel.

Reasons Kanye West would be a Better President than Donald Trump

Maybe it was just something he said. And, to be fair, he says a lot of things. Given the volume, it’s inevitable that some promises will fall by the wayside. At the time the fateful words were uttered, he probably meant it was something he’d get around to in the distant future, never dreaming that the conditions would conspire such that his time might, in fact, be right now. Granted, he’s got a new album to support and a young family, but he needs to look at the bigger picture. Having said he wants to be President the simple fact is this: Kanye West – your country needs you.

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.

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