Thursday, June 29, 2006

Scientists Warn New Movie Could Be Crap Enough to “Explode the Sun”

Crock!, a new film starring Adam Sandler, Martin Lawrence, Richard Gere, Colin Farrel, Natalie Portman, Queen Latifah, Paulie Shore, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Rob Schneider, Hilary Duff, Jim Carrey, Matthew Lillard, Jim Belushi, The Rock, Alec Baldwin, David Spade, Deborah Messing, Renee Zellweger, Damon Wayans, Johnny Knoxville, Heather Locklear, Ray Romano, Tom Hanks, Ice Cube, Lindsay Lohan, Will Farrell, Jennifer Lopez, Courtney Love, Ashton Kutcher, Ben Affleck, Carrot Top, Freddie Prinze Jr., Demi Moore, Kathy Griffin, Drew Carey, Nathan Lane, Michael Madsen, Rosie O’Donnell, David Caruso, Tori Spelling, Andy Dick, Winona Ryder, Hugh Grant, Jerry Lewis, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jon Favreau, Chris Tucker, Jar Jar Binks, Roseanne Arnold, Jude Law, Vin Diesel, Brian Dennehy, Chris O’Donnell, Dakota Fanning, Mandy Moore, Carmen Electra, Mel Gibson, Dolph Lundgren, Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, Ben Stiller, Tim Allen, Sharon Stone, and featuring a special appearance by Tom Cruise as Dr. Phil McGraw, will premiere later this year as part of an attempt by scientists to isolate and contain the growing quantity of cinematic sludge that is spewed across multiplex screens each year.

Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and directed by Michael Bay and Roland Emmerich, Crock! has been assembled from the unproduced scripts of fifty of Hollywood’s worst screenwriters, including Joe Eszterhas and the guy who inserted the word "Crikey!" into Steve Irwin’s dialogue for The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course. It is hoped that the movie will play in cinemas for at least twelve months, with all involved signing contracts in blood not to release any other films during that period.

Although confident of the experiment’s success, the project’s director Dr. Harold Chesty warns that there is a slight chance of catastrophe, should things go awry.

“The conjunction of so much cinematic crapness could lead to the creation of a theoretical substance called anti-talent,” Dr. Chesty told Sterne. “Now, nobody really knows what this would lead to. The most popular theory is that the presence of anti-talent will either cause the sun to explode, thus ending life on earth, or that it will awaken from its millenia-long slumber some kind of gigantic iguanodon, in which case the living would surely envy the dead – but only briefly, 'cause we're talking about a pretty mean fucking iguanodon here.

“It’s a dangerous experiment, yes, but if successful we will have discovered a means of trapping and controlling some of the most noxious forces at work in today’s popular culture. As my wife said to me, we have to think of the children. Of course, last time I did that I ended up serving ten years in a federal penitentiary, but I take her point.”

Anticipating success, Dr. Chesty’s team have already begun work on a similar project, Gargh!, intended to replace Crock! at the end of its run.

“It’s along similar lines. You know, unimaginably bad, the kind of thing only morons will pay to see. I can tell you that the profit projections are enormous.”

When asked about the film’s storyline, Dr. Chesty replied that he “really couldn’t give a shit.”

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Father of Emo Kid Understands Son Only Too Well

The father of Brian Sisky, singer/guitarist with popular emo band Thursday's Eyelash, says that contrary to his son's "affectation of unknowable profundity", Brian is "laughably shallow and eminently knowable, although why anybody would actually wish to know him is another thing entirely."

"Running my eye over Brian's so-called 'lyrics', I note with dismay his fixation with blaming his mother and I for his many shortcomings," Mr Sisky said. “It’s there in the song titles: ’Daddy Sneerest’, ‘Just a Kid (With Fucked Up Parents)’ – there’s even one called ‘It’s Your Fault I Can’t Sing’. Well, I can tell you that Barbara and I have delightful singing voices, so if Brian can’t sing – which, incidentally, he can’t – he’s got nobody to blame but himself.”

Mr Sisky told reporters that he finds Brian’s attitude “quite baffling. We raised him with love and kindness, and he repays us by pretending we’re North Balwyn’s answer to Fred and Rosemary West.”

As an example of his son's vacuity and lack of filial devotion, Mr Sisky points to the lyrics of Thursday's Eyelash's biggest hit to date, "Please Dad".

"I quote: 'You watch me from afar/All you care about is your car/Dad you don't understand me/Dad why can't you let me be?' Now, aside from the rather baffling reference to my Mercedes, I understand his point only too well. However, his complaint about my intrusiveness would carry greater weight if Brian wasn’t still living under my roof, and didn’t regularly borrow said luxury vehicle to ferry his eyeliner-wearing friends to and from gigs. I'm forever repairing the damage their wallet chains and manifold piercings cause to the upholstery."

Mr Sisky said that rather than revealing a dysfunction in his relationship with Brian, Thursday’s Eyelash’s music confirms his intuition that “there is actually no point in pursuing a rapprochement with the boy."

"I admit I have barely spoken to Brian since he was ten. Frankly, that was the last time he said anything sensible."

Friday, June 23, 2006

20k OK

Although it'd be easier just to take the credit and run, both modesty and a painfully strict religious up-bringing (Papa was a Latter-Day Shaker) force me to admit that while the hit-counter at the bottom of the page clicked over the 20,000 mark last night, the figure may be somewhat misleading. Last month Tim and I invested a small portion of the vast wealth we've acquired by posing as distressed Nigerian businessmen in a quaint but servicable sweatshop in south-east Asia, chock full of bright-eyed, lovable urchins who can work surprisingly long hours on just a small bowl of rice and the occasional beating (which reminds me... Pho Duc Nam, you've been consistently coming in under quota. Consider yourself on half rations for the next month. And you're sleeping in the leaky corner until further notice). It's amazing just how much one's ego can be boosted by 48 exploited kiddies refreshing their browsers every couple of minutes. I can't recommend it highly enough.

However, on the off-chance that it's not just Pho Duc and his buddies visiting Sterne, Tim and I would like to take this opportunity to give a big ol' shout out to regular readers, to those who take the time to comment and to the benighted fools who've clicked on the wrong link and haven't managed to navigate away yet. Bless your big hearts and mediocre brains. It's a constant surprise that anyone reads the drivel we heap upon your heads, but an immensely gratifying one. That said, by reading this post you are hereby forfeiting your right to sue or register formal complaints over lack of taste, ethics or quality, and are legally bound to continue reading Sterne daily. Our lawyers are prepared to drag your names and faces through the mud. Also, we know where you live. Be told.

And that goes for you too, Pho Duc. Don't think you can't be replaced.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Review: Wah Wah

Those among you who, like myself, indulge in narcissism in much the same manner Kirstey Alley indulges in five course meals will at some stage presumably have whittled away idle hours with the Which Actor Will Play Me in the Undoubtedly Scintillating Movie of My Life game. Personally, I’ve often pictured Richard E. Grant in the title role. The man is not Olivier, no, but Grant is a fine and entertaining character actor, specialising in parts that require a certain amount of eccentricity and/or sneering; perfect for a vehicle like Jon: The Bastard who Blogged, which would hardly demand Stanislavskian rigour from its lead. That said, when it comes to selecting writers and directors for my epic, three-part bio-pic, Grant wouldn’t even be in the top fifty.

Via the usual concerted effort of lies and double-dealing, I managed to wheedle my way into a preview screening of Wah Wah - both auto-biography and Grant’s first foray into directing - last week, and afterwards had the opportunity of listening to him briefly outline some of the structural and thematic choices he made for the film. This is an advantage which later audiences will sadly lack: in taking the time to justify his thought processes, Grant was charming, witty and eloquent – everything his film was not – and went a long way towards validating his decisions as director – which by itself Wah Wah sadly does not manage to achieve.

Set in Swaziland on the eve of national independence, Wah Wah details the events of the adolescent Richard E’s life and his relationship with his parents (go on, who can pick the subtle allegorical comparison?). But while all the rudiments of a suitably dramatic and potentially moving story are present – adulterous mother driven to extremes by loneliness, beloved father turning to booze and violence, socially isolated community of Brits desperately clinging to fleeting scraps of un-earned privilege, fledgling nation finding it’s feet, redemptive power of love, etc, etc – it becomes clear soon after the opening refrains of the sonorously pompous score and a couple of exceedingly traditional tracking shots of the (admittedly quite beautiful) Swazi landscape that what follows will be pedestrian fare.

Wah Wah’s problems, I think, are two-fold. Firstly and most obvious is Grant’s lack of experience as a director. As a debut effort, and one made for only seven million dollars, it’s certainly not bad, but it does lack flair. True, there's the occasional interesting camera angle or an Altman-esque dolly, but these jar with the formulaic set-ups used in the greater majority of shots, and distracts rather than working to sustain interest or emotional impact. More problematic, though, is the slavish adherence to fact as Grant remembers it: the truth can be a powerful thing, but often as not it doesn’t make for a particularly interesting story. While history has been embellished on a couple of times (the date of Swaziland’s independence, Princess Margaret’s visit, and a few other instances of too-convenient plot contrivances, for example) in order to strengthen the narrative, this happens all too little. Just because something actually happened does not necessarily make it worth showing. As a result, a lot of weight is given to fairly redundant scenes, characters, and plot elements, and the movie becomes bogged down in a series of painfully earnest sequences that never succeed in grasping the emotional potency they obviously aspire to.

Take for instance the scene in which Grant charms his way into a screening of the then x-rated A Clockwork Orange. Seeing Kubrick’s powerful opening shot of Malcolm McDowell evilly watching the audience watching him is clearly supposed to not only establish Grant’s burgeoning love of acting, but instil in him a sense of rebelliousness that allows him to challenge his father’s alcoholism and the stifling, hypocritical constraints of the white community. Unfortunately, this manifests itself in the next scene as Grant putting on droogie eyeshadow, getting high, and falling over. I’m sure it probably did happen, but it’s completely ineffectual in terms of the plot. Moreover, it unfortunately highlights the ironic similarities between Grant and McDowell, neither of whose careers really took off despite iconic first roles.

Despite the lacklustre direction, Wah Wah never fails through the strength of its acting, and full marks should go to Grant for assembling a uniformly solid, occasionally brilliant cast and garnering from them performances which go a long way in holding the movie together. Which it needs. And this is unfortunate, because whilst it couldn’t sustain my interest, I can fully appreciate the importance of the story to Grant himself, both as a personal experience and in the telling. Perhaps if he’d handed the project to a more experienced director the result would have been rather more successful, but in the end, although Wah Wah is not a shining example of auteur cinema, it possibly wasn’t meant to be anything more than catharsis - an aim in which I hope it succeeded.

As for my own bio-pic, if anyone can give me the Sophia Coppola’s phone number, I think she’d make a fine director for Jon: The Bastard Who Blogged... my life story needs that gentle yet wry touch. It will be a heartwarming tear-jerker, no lie, but shall not lack in verisimilitude. Which is why she'll obviously need to get Sam Raimi in to help co-ordinate the fight between the samurai and the giant squid, but I'm already in talks on that front.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Grogblog - A Symphony of Terror

Grogblog: n. A symposium of well-educated, hygienic writers who have chosen to temporarily eschew the otherwise isolating medium of the internet; a forum at which both ideas and ideals of a high-minded nature are shared and discussed intelligently in a convivial setting. Small amounts of low-alcohol cider or heavily watered wine may be imbibed to give flavour and energy to the conversation.

Artist's impression:

Which just goes to show not only how misleading dictionary definitions can be, but how low, how corrupt a being is your average bloggist. Here is a rather more accurate picture, rendered by a shocked witness during the activities of last Friday night.

And that was just within the first hour or so. And believe me, it requires no small effort to procure a pig in a wimple at short notice on a weekend (how vile, how apt to depravity, and yet: how industrious).

Surveying the scene at the Lincoln Hotel, dodging the occasional spray of effluvia and casually hurled abuse, I quickly realised that that even the debauchery of the last such event paled by comparison. Even I - a regular at Furry conventions - could no longer stomach the beer-stained homunculi that comprise Melbourne's blogging community, and made to leave.

But then I was offered the opportunity to slow dance with the be-wimpled pig. After that, it was on.

The first rule of Grogblog is that you don't talk about what happens at Grogblog (so is the second rule: bloggists can be uncreative, at times). But who can begin to describe the horror of nerds let loose, anyway? And who would believe it? I can only hope a partial role call will suffice: the familiar faces of Russ, Leggsie and Ben were prominent that night - veterans of many a Grogblog, these hardened, bitter word-beasts made good in quenching their appetites for destruction, when booze or pumpkin soup were not available; Bruce revealed to me much that was hidden about Ian McFadyen, and all of it bad; herbal physicist par excellence James explained the secret to immortality, promptly forgotten; Engels explained the frightening intricacies of his name.

TimT refused to accept my sovereignty over Rhodesia, merely due to its lack of existence - poor form, I felt; Armaniac refused to believe I wasn't Tim Sterne (the confusion is understandable; for future reference, I am the one with the whatsit who does the thingy); and ns refused to let his various nemeses phase him.

Add to this a cast of thousands, who I apologise for not listing here and/or not talking to on the night. But that's their own fault for not cornering me while I could still hold down a conversation - I may be twice as intelligent when drunk, and ten times as handsome, but I tend to forget names. As so many angry girlfriends can attest.

As the Lincoln began to show distinct signs of wear and tear, some glutton for punishment suggsted karaoke, an idea the acceptance of which I can only attribute to extreme inebriation and a secret desire to cauterwaul Fine Young Cannibals songs in public. And so, wits dulled but flick-knives still sharp, we made good our escape, leaving behind only the cowering bar-staff and a couple of former opposing right- and left-wing political bloggists who had seen The Deer Hunter and felt Russian roulette was the only expedient way to settle their differences. And though the stagger to the karaoke bar via the alley behind a porno theatre proved long and fraught, we took turns riding on the back of the nun/pig, and all was well. Until the actual singing began.

All credit for an evening of fun, frolics and fisticuffs should go to Russ: organiser x-treme. By which I mean to say all bills, warrants and notices of arraignment should be adressed c/o Knotted Paths. Good show old man; now best leave the house, I've just given the fuzz your details.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Free Bucket With Every Copy

There are a lot of reasons why Jon and I haven't been posting much lately, a lot of boring, mundane reasons like work, study and bizarre sexual intrigues. The main reason, though, is that we have been creatively, emotionally, and quite possibly physically crippled by the existence of this:

I don't know whether to hurl insults or just hurl.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Gatto Blasts Media: I Am Not A Cake

Underworld figure Domenic Gatto lashed out yesterday after a Melbourne newspaper published rumours that he was a delicious custard-filled cake, possibly topped with nuts or fruit.

"This is no trifle," Mr Gatto told Sterne. "These allegations have left me in a flummery. First it was claimed that I was some kind of zabaglione man for the mob, now they're saying I'm a fuck*** cake! It really is a load of crepe."

Mr Gatto claimed that the media was undermining the justice system by refusing to give him a second chance.

"I may come from the wrong side of the dessert buffet, but I'm straight now and just trying to put some bread and butter pudding on the table. This kind of gossip is nothing less than torte-ture for my whole family. Frankly, it gives me sticky buns just thinking about it."

John Truckinghoff, editor of the Kitchener St. Moustache, the newspaper that first printed the rumour, defended his decision to publish on the grounds that Mr Gatto's possible manifestation as a sweet delight was "a matter of public interest".

"We're not saying Domenic Gatto is this or Domenic Gatto is that. All we're saying is that he might be a French dessert. I understand the sensitivity of Mr Gatto's situation, but those of us who enjoy a slice of cake with their cafe au lait have the right to know if there is even the slightest chance that they might be partaking of a Melbourne underworld figure."

Mr Truckinghoff denied that the Gatto rumours were based on a simple pun.

"Only the lowest of media outlets would build a story around puns. I'm no flan of that kind of journalism. It's gratin on my nerves that we would even be accused of frittering away our credibility by indulging in such a blatant attempt to truffle feathers."

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


Satani Street

"Hello, Mr Hooper."

"Hello, Big Bird. Why so glum?"

"Well, Mr Hooper, Snuffleupagus says today is the sixth of the sixth two thousand and six!"

"I see from my calendar that Snuffleupagus is right. But why should the date make you glum?"

"Because 666 is...the devil's number!"

"Ah, I see. You're worried that today will see the coming of the Antichrist, and the beginning of a period of trials and tribulations that will cease only with the coming of Christ Himself and the Day of Judgement."

"That's right, Mr Hooper! And I'm not the only one. Everybody on Sesame Street is freaking out. Isn't there a song we could sing to educate ourselves about the Antichrist so that we won't be so scared?"

"As it happens, I believe there is. But first we need somebody to sing it, somebody perhaps from an under-represented ethnic group, so that while we're learning about the Antichrist we'll also be reaffirming our commitment to tolerance and diversity."

"How about me?"

"Um, a little too diverse. No, I'm thinking more along the lines of..."

"Me! Jazz legend Cab Calloway!"

"That's more like it! Ready when you are, Mr Calloway!"

"Ready, kids?"

"Ready, Mr C!"

"Then let's hit it!

"Let me tell you kids about that crazy cat called Antichrist.
He's the opposite of Jesus, 'cause y'all know Christ is nice.
The Antichrist is the fourth beast, he's gonna devour the world!
Gonna eat up all your souls, whether you be boy or girl!"

"But Mr Calloway, I don't want my soul devoured!"

"I understand your concern my friend, with protecting your avian soul,
But if the Antichrist comes tonight, he's gonna suck it up whole!
Unless the whole thing's a metaphor, which I 'spose is possibly true
In which case I'd be more worried about Mr Hooper's unsightly bulge if I were you!"

"Hey! That's just the way my apron rides up!"

"Now the thing about the Antichrist is that nobody knows what form he'll take.
Will he mirror Christ and be born a child, or will he manifest in a t-bone steak?
Or will the rough beast slither in, fangs dripping with satanic slime?
Whatever the case you can bet your ass that we'll be having a hell of a time!"

"So, Mr Calloway, you're saying the Antichrist could take [gulp!] any form?"

"That's about the size of it, my feathered friend."

"In that case, I move that today's letter of the day be 'R', as in 'Aaaargh, let's get the fuck out of here!' The Antibert is cometh! Run, Mr Hooper, run for your life!"

"I'll swallow your soul! I'll swallow your soul! Ernie, come and help me swallow his soul!"

Friday, June 02, 2006

Did Somebody Say Grog Blog?

Yes. Yes they did!

Do you live in Melbourne? Are you a blogger? In the immortal words of the Beastie Boys: Do you like parties? Heavens to Betsy, why do you hesitate?


I can personally guarantee that this will be the best night of your life, provided that all other nights prior to this have been spent shivering in a wet burlap sack with Kenny G. But even if they haven't, it'll still be pretty bitchin'. Who are you to say no? No-one, that's who.

Come on people, give yourselves permission to shine!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Lines Composed on the Occasion of First Seeing a Photograph of William Empson

O respected man of letters
Definer of ambiguities
What satanic operation left
Thee with hairs like these?
The moustache makes as much sense
As a moustache ever can
But that thing emerging from your neck
Can it have been born of man?
Did you cultivate a beard
That then grew tired and weak
Soon relinquishing its grasp
Of your chin and of your cheek?
And did that mass of fluff slide down
And settle upon your throat?
Or did it simply grow there wild
Like the rump-hair of a goat?
I realise you’re a learned man
At least you were until you died
So why ever did you get a ‘do
From which all would turn and hide?
Yet I still admire your writing
(I like the prose more than the poems)
And surely you must rank quite high
On anybody’s list of favourite gnomes
I have read your Seven Types
And The Structure of Complex Words
And will now seek out your later work:
How to Grow Nesting Material for Birds