The Art of Making People Laugh (or How To Cause Mass Hysterics)

Dan Zarella, always a propagator of non-obvious social memetics, has artfully crafted an article over the weekend on the science of laughter. Through it he gives a quick overview of some practical examples of laughter outbreaks along with a few medical examples to give his hypothesis credence.

Also, a suggestion that you can try it out at some point. Who knows, it might do you some good! Plus it’s guaranteed to cheer things up a bit and generally break up mindless monotony. (

Night Watch, the Movie, Quite a Letdown

Nochnoy dozor (Night Watch in English) was an excellent book by Sergei Lukyanenko. Night Watch the movie (in it’s original Russian, no need to watch a bad dub) is a mediocre movie that’s a horrible letdown from the novel it’s based off of.

Honestly, I’d say to give it a pass unless you want to see how badly a book can be translated into a movie.

The plot changes are drastic and largely unnecessary. One of the major ones is even listed as a “glitch” by Lukyanenko in his comments.. how on earth you glitch a major part of your adaptations plot is beyond me.

If you’d like to see the array of differences check the movie listing out over at Wikipedia.

Acting talent for the movie isn’t all that bad, casting is alright, with characters fitting in with their descriptions from the novel well enough. It all really comes back to the plot being a horrible adaptation that really chops the heart out of the story.

Read the stories (although I found Day Watch to be a bit odd and that it didn’t fit well with Night Watch/Twilight Watch) but give the movie a pass. Or catch it on broadcast TV.. this one’s not even worth a rent. I’ll post if Day Watch (the movie) is any better when I pick up a copy to check out.

Baccano!: Strangely Excellent Anime Series

Sometimes things look a bit strange from their description and you decide to take a chance on them. So it went with Baccano!, described as a not-wholly in chronological order series about a myriad of people who’s lives intertwine around covered-up events on a train back in early 1930s.

Coincidentally the events on the train takes place in the middle of about three timelines, blending back and forth with minimal warning.

Baccano Background

What I was worried about here was that I’d never know what I was looking at, which part of the story I was actually following. But they get around that with a device that’s usually irritating in film.

Most of the time when you see a shot from a different angle it’s annoying overkill on a point. Baccano! uses the affect in good measure to show where and when a certain scene is taking place. Same scene, different character.. at the same time, but strangely it works to move the plot along. You’ll quickly infer when it is by who is moving around and where they are.

So what I’m saying is if that all made sense to you, you’ll like the series. It’s about as fast paced as it gets and the audio/visual work is superb, the characters fun (if somewhat deranged), action filled bits of movement, and a mystery at it’s core. It might be a bit too much gore.. but nothing along the lines of, say, Sweeney Todd.

Added: almost forgot to put a link to the official Baccano! website.