Brandon Starr's blog. Updated daily since March 2003. Welcome. Make yourself comfortable. Have a hot chocolate.

Brandon Starr's blog is not to be taken internally. All humor is intentional, unless indicated otherwise.
Do not read while operating heavy machinery. May cause intracranial short circuiting.
Not for children under four days of age.

If for some reason you wish to contact Brandon Starr, take a moment and reconsider.
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It's your fault now, and don't blame me when it all goes terribly, terribly wrong.

New fiction story! Click here for "The Voice of Cassandra."

Click here for my ongoing novel: "The History of Magic in the 21st Century."

Click here for the lowdown on "The History of Magic"

Click here for my new investing blog, "Adroit Investor"

Click here for my anti-Bush shirts.

Click here for my favorite design: the 'tourist safety shirt.'

Brandon Starr is available in small, medium, and large. Contents may settle during shipping. Allow four to six weeks for delivery. Open carefully; contents under pressure. Do not incinerate. May be habit-forming--do not take if you are gassy or under the influence of mimosas. Improved; now non-staining. Ships in all colors, except puce. Prompt refund if not satisfied--simply return unused portion. All queries promptly ignored. Complaints resolved with deep, gut-blasting laughter, followed by posting complaints on nearest public wall. Not responsible for sunburns. All your base are belong to us. Act now. Beware cheap imitations. Insist on the original--Brandon Starr.

Update notification by email available below.

Some fun/useful/useless links:

The Internet Movie Database

My cousin back from Iraq, and how it changed me (my current favorite entry on this blog)

My product page

Fun blogs:

infinitus opinio

Siren's Song

the mechanical jive

The Strange World

Thunderstorms in the Imajica


Elven Sarah

Random Musings (Catcher)

Certifiable Princess (Sarah 2)

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Friday, April 02, 2004
International Comic Arts Association

Comic Pimp:  I love that there will finally be an industry association for comic books and graphic novels

The Comic Pimp, a weekly columnist I have written about before, loves the idea.  It makes sense to me as an outsider to the industry, too.

Comic readership has been stagnant for years.  The same people have been buying graphic novels and comic books for years, with little gain of new readership.  Despite this, people in other creative areas have been hammering at the doors of comicdom for ideas, writing, and looks.

Marvel, famously, has been putting out all of its classic titles into the movie market:  The Hulk, The X Men, Daredevil, Spider-Man, The Punisher.  But also, other comic houses have had films made from their titles:  Spawn, Hellboy, Monkey-Bone, Ghost World, and Men In Black spring to mind, even before you take in the DC titles like Batman and Superman.  In addition, movies and TV shows have been taking ideas, looks, and overall cool from comics:  The Matrix, Alias, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer all bear the clear marks of comicdom in their look-and-feel.

And more are on the way.

Given the cool factor that comes from comics' children, it is only natural that the publishers of comics feel the time is ripe to improve the circulation of the comics themselves.

Anything that helps creative people be more creative or gain more from their creativity without harm to others works for me.

Check it out.

Posted at 07:12 pm by brandonstarr
Your thoughts?  

Thoughts on the job numbers

308,000 jobs added in March; unemployment slightly up

Yes, but what does it MEAN?

Well, without delving into the deeper numbers, here's a quickie lowdown:

1)  One month of good job growth is nice, but doesn't automatically mean we're into a new jobs trend yet.

2)  The U.S. population adds about 125,000 adults per month who need jobs.  So, the last year or so, each time the job growth has been about zero, we've been getting behind in the number of people actually needing jobs.  This month met it's numbers and made up for about a month and a half more.  That's it.

3)  The unemployment number went UP slightly.  That's actually not a bad sign.  Remember, unemployment only counts people who are CURRENTLY LOOKING for a job.  A lot of folks, during a recession, give up on looking for a job.  They get by however they can.  When things pick up, they start looking again.  So, unemployment actually has to RISE at the start of a job boom, as folks pick up on the fact that new jobs are starting to be created.  Unemployment at this phase of the business cycle is OK.  It's not OK when business is supposedly booming, or at the bottom of a recession.  But right now, it's just fine.

4)  Besides, unemployment of 5.7% is not that high anyway.  According to most economists, it represents "full employment," which means the number of people you can keep in a job anyway.  There will always, in a free economy, be folks looking for a better job, or industries changing, displacing some folks and creating jobs for folks with different skills.  Unemployment at super-low rates is actually indicative of something wrong, something stagnating.

5)  Having said all this, it only applies to the economy as a whole.  It won't make you feel much better if you're the one who is unemployed.

It will be interesting to see the next few months' worth of jobs numbers.  It will affect the economy.  It will affect the dollar.  It will affect the Presidential election.  It will be doing a lot of things.  Keep your eyes and ears open.

Posted at 02:06 pm by brandonstarr
Your thoughts?  

Howard Stern claims Jay Leno uses laugh track

Howard Stern claims Jay Leno uses laugh track to juice up the audience reaction during his monologues
(Note: often has adult ads)
(Note:  the info is most of the way down the page, just before the headline "Las Vegas Dates Changed.")
(Note:  the "Friday update" page changes weekly, thus this will no longer be a germane link after 4/8/04.)

To quote the encapsulation of the Friday show:

Howard took a phone call from a guy who told Howard that Stuttering John has been so stiff in the audience lately that they're going to move him under Jay's desk to do his announcing. That led to Howard talking about how he heard that Jay is so lame that they've been using a laugh track on the show lately. Howard said he knows for a fact that they use a laugh track on that show. He said Jay will never admit to that though because he's a complete liar. He goofed on Jay for a few minutes while Bob laughed at what he was saying. (end quote)

While I was listening to the show on headphones, and watching my son at the same time, it seems to me this was an accurate assessment of this portion of the show.

(FYI:  "Bob" is Robert Schimmel, a stand-up comedian who happened to be on the show today.)

Anyway, it seemed like a bombshell to me.  There are some things that are taboo in comedy.  One is stealing material--and Stern often accuses Leno of taking his bits, mellowing them out a bit, and using them on "The Tonight Show."*  Another is faking the laughs--using a laugh track.  Even though there is an audience there, and thus part of the laughs would be real, using a laugh track, if true, would be a big black mark on Jay Leno's resume.

I'd love to have confirmation, or denial with some semblance of proof, on this issue.

* The two examples he often cites are: 

"Jay Walking," a version of Stern's bits "The Homeless Game" and "The Stripper Game."  All three are about asking fairly easy questions to people and seeing how off their answers are, and

wacky celebrity interviews, where the show sends someone with more guts than brains out to ask irreverent, irrelevant, or irredeemable questions of celebrities.  Stern often did it with "Stuttering John" Melendez, who was recently hired away by, who else, "The Tonight Show!"   But even before that, Jay was taking the idea by sending out his gay intern to do the same thing.

Posted at 10:53 am by brandonstarr
Your thoughts?  

Thursday, April 01, 2004
Gateway finally wises up

Gateway to close its stores

Gateway was a brand that came to be famous on the Internet and by phone.  You never needed a store to buy a Gateway.  I have had three Gateways, and enjoyed them all.  The stores were superfluous.

I bought the last one at a store, but all that really happened was the guy took my info from the last purchase, updated a few things, put in the info on the system I wanted, and sent it--through the Internet--into Gateway's order system.  I could have, and would have, done it myself if I hadn't been in the neighborhood and stopped by to see which systems they currently had in stock.

I don't know if this means the company will immediately turn around, but I think it's a start.

I do not currently have a position, long or short, in Gateway stock.

Posted at 06:51 pm by brandonstarr
Your thoughts?  

early World Trade Center video

Further mining of the Prelinger Online Movie Archives:  early footage of the World Trade Center

Obviously, this movie will have a much different meaning for us now than when it was filmed, during the construction and early use of the WTC.

Just another interesting old movie from the Prelinger Archives.

Check it out.

Posted at 04:53 pm by brandonstarr
Your thoughts?  

Wednesday, March 31, 2004
Seinfeld meets Superman

Here's the link to the Jerry Seinfeld-Superman commercials

Superman is voiced by Patrick Warburton, who played David Buddy, Elaine's boyfriend on "Seinfeld."

Warburton also played the live-action version of "The Tick."  It lasted about five episodes.

I was wretched seeing that show.  I'm a fan of the earlier, animated version of "The Tick," and they completely missed the point of the main character.  The Tick is supposed to be an ultimate goody-goody, and rather naive in his way, despite being super-strong and nigh-invulnerable.  He'd shout things like "Evil doers, back away from that cow!"

In the live-action version, Warburton plays him not as Superman-with-a-lobotomy, but as a sort of generic badass.  "You are now my bitch!" he cries at one point.

The Tick shouldn't have even known what the word "bitch" was, let alone shouted it at another person.

Ah, the memories...  "The Tick" still has the greatest-named bad guy ever:  "The Evil Midnight Bomber What Bombs At Midnight!"

If you get a chance to see the animated version, especially the earlier episodes, by all means do so.

Posted at 12:42 pm by brandonstarr
Your thoughts?  

Tuesday, March 30, 2004
Info on revival of "Family Guy"

Here's a good article on the revival of "Family Guy"

A great show, killed by multiple scheduling moves, then revived two years post-mortem by DVD sales.

If you're a fan like me, you can't wait.

Posted at 01:08 pm by brandonstarr
Comments (2)  

Monday, March 29, 2004
Defense: God told Mom to kill her kids

"God told her to" defense for mom, accused of killing two of her kids, permanently damaging a third

“Does she follow what she believes to be God’s will or does she turn her back on her God,” defense attorney F.R. Files Jr. asked the jury.

Religion is a disease.  Rationality is the cure.

Remember, folks, she is indeed sick in the head.  That's not even an issue.  What is truly disturbing is that "God told me to, therefore it's okay" is a potentially useful defense because of the near-universality of religion in today's society.

Under any rational belief system, causing harm to others is never acceptable except when the other person is already trying to cause harm to you.  Gods, spirits, ghosts, imps, demons, your neighbor's talking dog, or any other fairy tale creature "telling you" anything is a psychosis.

Reject irrationality.  Reclaim your mind.

Or, in the words of the defense attorney, turn your back on your God.  After all, reality is in the other direction.

Posted at 07:17 pm by brandonstarr
Your thoughts?  

Lip and tongue action

Further mining of the Prelinger online movie archives:  "Speech:  Platform Posture and Appearance"

You may have seen this short as part of Mystery Science Theater 3000, episode 619, "Red Zone Cuba."

Even without the MSTie treatment, this one's a hoot.  A goofy elf of a man makes fun of people doing bad gestures* while doing public speaking.  Then he does some strange exercises, and advocates plenty of "lip and tongue action" while speaking.  Then the people are shown speaking again, this time without the exaggerated physical deficiencies they exhibited earlier.

Even if the tips aren't helpful, one thing is true:  the host is a fascinating public speaker.  Despite an odd voice and odder ideas, I couldn't look away for a second.  He must be doing something right.

Fun and bizarre.  With just a little looking around, there are plenty more such strange shorts in The Prelinger Archives.

Check it out.

* They were obviously directed to do so--this ain't cinema verite.

Posted at 12:39 pm by brandonstarr
Your thoughts?  

Sunday, March 28, 2004
Your Name Here

Further mining of the Prelinger Movie Archives:  "Your Name Here"

With all the hundreds of mostly stuffy industrial films in the Prelinger Archives, you might think that the 1950s-era filmmakers didn't have a sense of humor about their craft.  Not so.  "Your Name Here" is the final word in self-parody.  Here are industrial movie makers making an industrial movie that makes fun of industry and industrial movies.

The basic joke is that the film is the ad for the film--watch the film, and if you like it, they can simply add your company name to the title shot, fill in some blanks in the soundtrack, and you're all set!

Funny, odd, and quirky.  Very modern in it's sensibility, too.

Check it out.  Or check out the whole movie archive instead.

Posted at 09:29 am by brandonstarr
Your thoughts?  

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