'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.

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.

Captain Tightpants and the Exploding Casserole of Death

With the benefit of hindsight, I am not proud of my behaviour. Frankly, I could have been more compassionate, more sympathetic. But in your late teens and early twenties, ‘nuance’ is something of a stranger and every emotion is extreme. I was no different in this regard. It was these traits together whether a lack of guile that can only be described as ‘spectacular’ that made me a truly lousy housemate.

Fozzie, Fozzie, Fozzie; Oi, Oi, Oi

There’s no other way of saying it: everything has changed. It’s not a case of a few cushions here or a stick of furniture there; life has altered in a manner that is far more fundamental. Instead of our old life where we did what we wanted when we wanted, we are now in a perpetual state of readiness, in which are spring-loaded to leap to attention in an instant. For the ranks of our household have swollen from two to three after the arrival of our dog. Already I have been asked what having a puppy has been like. I answer that it’s a lot like having a demanding houseguest, albeit one who’s spectacularly incontinent.

An Open Letter to Tucker Carlson of ‘Fox and Friends’

You have some nerve, mister. When I first heard you’d said Australia ‘has no freedom’, my first instinct was to call emergency services; that’s how convinced I was that your pants were on fire. What possessed you! (I’d like to think is was the ghost of Ethel Merman, in which case it wouldn’t have been something you said so much as sang whilst wearing a pair of fishnets. That’s just a personal preference, of course.) I understand you made this somewhat astonishing claim whilst debating gun control. Maybe it something you said in the heat of the moment – if your trousers were ablaze, the heat of the moment would have been pretty intense.

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