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Conversations by the water cooler at work usually tend to revolve around the previous night’s tv line-up or the latest headlines – depending on where you work.  Even at my office, those are formidable topics at any given moment.  But, one afternoon last week the topic up for discussion was memorable Family Guy one-liners which some how evolved into sound effects used in television shows and movies.  Interestingly enough, we were all on the same page before the first example was even thrown out – we all were about to reference those crazy sound effects that you think you hear in just about every single thing you’ve ever seen.  The one I’d noticed and triggered the next phase of conversation with was that female voice you hear on a police radio as the squad car pulls up to scene X.  Then someone mentioned the Star Wars scream (as he referenced) it, so out of curiosity, we turned to Google so that we could bring what we were referencing to life (and also just to confirm that we weren’t a. crazy and b. hearing things).

Turns out, that Star Wars scream is actually called the Wilhelm scream and sure enough – we weren’t crazy.  The search revealed that not only was it used multiple times; it was used so often that people have enough material to compile two and a half to four minute long montages!  Films like Sin City, Batman, Lord of the Rings, Team America, Toy Story, Kill Bill and to bring it full circle, even Family Guy has paid tribute to the Wilhelm scream.

So where did the name come from?  To find out, you need to go back to the 1950’s.  The first film, of the now 140 which use the effect, was made in 1951 and was called Distant Drums, which eventually saw a number of soldiers get attacked by an alligator slinking around in the murky everglade waters.  A total of six screams were recorded after the scene to be cut in later, under the recording title “man getting bit by an alligator, and he screams.”  Ultimately, it would be the fifth of the six recorded that would be used in that part, though takes four and six, along with a repeat of five were used earlier in the same movie.

The Wilhelm’s fame came along with Ben Burtt who was the sound designer for the Star Wars films.  Burtt re-discovered the sound effect mislabelled as, “Man being eaten by alligator,” and decided it was perfect for how a Stormtrooper would sound falling off a ledge in Star Wars IV: A New Hope.  For the sake of reference, it was renamed the Wilhelm scream after Private Wilhelm, who was a character in 1953’s The Charge at Feather River.  But that still doesn’t answer who’s voice it is.

Burtt took it a step further to find out and after going through papers at Warner Brothers, was able to determine that it likely belonged to singer/actor Sheb Wooley who had an uncredited role in Distant Drums but was also called back in a small group of actors to record a series of vocal additions during post-production.

Bird's Nest Soup

Bird's Nest Soup

Later this same day, over some celebratory cake for a colleague, the conversation turned to rare delicacies that were really ‘bizarre’ (not the disgusting delicacies – everyone talks about those).  One of the folks in our office happens to have an Asian background being originally from Hong Kong and a long time ago, enlightened me about Bird’s Nest soup.  So, this is what I decided to offer up to the group during this conversation.  This soup has been made for 400 years and what’s a bit bizarre about it, besides its name?  The fact that it’s actually made from a bird’s nest!  The swiftlet to be exact.  They’re mostly collected throughout Thailand from White-nest and Black-nest swiftlets who live in caves and can generate a nest in 35 days.  The highest destination markets for these nests are Hong Kong and the United States where a kilogram of the white nest would go for about $2,000.00 USD and the red-blood nest would be about $10,000.00 USD.  Per serving, that translates to $30.00 – $100.00 a bowl!

Swiftlet Nesting House, Thailand

Swiftlet Nesting House, Thailand

The industry has become so huge that concrete nesting houses have been built to give more venues for the birds to make the valuable nests in.  While it’s appearance looks somewhat like a prison, investigating the species of bird revealed that they’re not the least bit endangered.  The soup is said to have health benefits as well that include aiding digestion, raising libido, improving voice, alleviating asthma, and improving overall focus and immune support.

From screams to soup, there’s a lot more that you can talk about with your coworkers now around the water cooler besides the most recent episode of your favourite primetime show.

But, if these two items aren’t good enough conversation starters, you could combine them.  How does that make sense?  Check out this bird that has the vocal range to mimic everything around it.  It’s called the Lyre Bird, and this clip was around the office following the swiftlet / bird’s nest soup discussion as another ‘interesting bird’.  The debate is still continuing at work as to whether or not the chainsaw stretches the truth too far beyond belief, but I think this bird’s legit and awesome either way!


A debate sparked amongst friends recently on the topic of Facebook versus Twitter. Conveniently, social marketing happens to be a big part of what my ‘day’ job covers in a day, not to mention that just a few days earlier I’d read an interest blog post by a fellow WordPress blogger named Robert Scoble. The title of his piece was something along the lines of why Facebook has never listened and isn’t about to start now.  It made me think, triggering interest in reading the entry mainly because it was only a few days prior that the whole graphical user interface (GUI) for Facebook users had changed for the third time.

I remember when it happened the first time and how outraged and frustrated I was.  Emails off to Facebook admins, posts about it in my status and MSN name.  Rebel, rebel, rebel.  The second time I kind of just ‘delt with it’ and sucked it up, tried to learn it and just get a handle on where everything had moved to.  By the time this third revision hit, I just accepted it and went about my business.  But – it wasn’t until I read the above mentioned blog entry that what Facebook was actually doing made sense.  I’m somewhat surprised and let down by myself at the same time for not really working it out sooner but not necessarily to the level of detail that Scoble did with the seven phases of development for Facebook (they’re currently attempting to get from phase four to five).

Mark Zukerberg

Mark Zukerberg

Scoble makes some very interesting points in his entry; makes some moderately daring prophetic casts and reveals a few basic numbers that just completely make sense.  He asserts that Mark Zuckerberg is right and smart to not listen to the (literally) millions trying to tell him how to run his business.  Scoble makes a strong case for the fact that it cannot be forgotten that Facebook is a business and goes so far as to suggest that the moves Zuckerberg has made over the last few weeks with this “phase shift” so soon after the previous one “will be remembered for decades.”

I’m not so sure about “decades” but it’s clear that Zuckerberg is serious and means business.  We’re talking about a 24 year old who a year and a half ago managed to put a $240 million price tag on only 1.6% of Facebook shares.  Who had the money and keen interest to shell out that much for such a small share?  Who other then Microsoft, which of course propelled Google to make an offer.  But, this old news aside, what should be noticed here is the valuation.  Based on that transaction, it would put Facebook’s worth – back then – at $15 billion!  And, that’s before it really truly invests itself into welcoming a proficient blending of business with people as Scoble suggests in phase five.  Scoble’s point that Zukerberg’s sitting on a goldmine couldn’t be truer.



Then you come to the Facebook / Twitter crossroads and you can kind of toss MySpace into that intersection as well, but less so then ever before.  It’s surprising actually that the clunky and difficult GUI for MySpace has remained pretty much the same.  In my migration to Facebook from MySpace years ago, that was one of the things I was truly appreciative of once I’d gotten it all done.  Things are easier to do and deal with in the lighter and cleaner Facebook aesthetic. Also interesting is that a 2007 article in Time magazine called MySpace vs. Facebook: Competing Addictions, indicated that Facebook and MySpace actually attract compleatly different socio-economic audiences.  It noted that Facebook users had an average annual income that hovered around $60,000.00 US, compared to MySpace which had 12% more users then Facebook who earned less annually.

But back to Twitter, which seems to be the more ‘active’ competition for Facebook now a days.  Even looking at these two, Twitter doesn’t really have a hope of eclipsing Facebook anytime soon.  It does however have the faster rate of growth between the two , but it cannot match the fact that Facebook collects between 200,000 and 700,000 new users a day.  And, it’s highly unlikely that Twitter will manage to boost its 10 million users to the 180 million user threshold that Facebook’s achieved.  The logical thing to do, one would think, would be to just consume the ‘competition’ which is exactaly what Zukerberg tried to do as I learned through Scoble’s follow up blog entry that did a good job of proving why Facebook was lucky as hell it missed out on buying Twitter.

Furthering the fact that Facebook is blending people and business for phase five of its developmental stages, Scoble makes a comparison that Facebook will become like the Yellow Pages for people and Twitter is the white pages.  It makes sense, Twitter’s no where near having Facebook’s ability to not only directly market to people – but to market what they specifically want to them based on their likes and dislikes.  In the future, instead of making consumer choices based on Joe Blow’s ‘professional’ opinion, Facebook will potentially revolutionize business because the immediate search results on everyone’s mobile device will include multiple reviews of trusted Facebook friends.  It’s like the promise land of interactivity for the Yellow Pages.



Compared to Facebook, Twitter seems mono-chromatic, in terms of its abilities and its usefulness.  Many have already previously pointed out that Twitter is essentially a stream of status updates.  But, it’s amazing how so many people use it differently then how they use the same tool on Facebook.  For some reason, when people “tweet” they’re all the more active about it and that, for the most part, is really the only difference.  The mental correlation when you hear “Facebook” is networking, rediscovering old contacts, interaction – between everything and everyone.  But, the mental correlation when you hear “Twitter” is almost like a free thought association writing exercise where you end up with a list of the most random, unassociated thoughts or comments.

It certainly seems making Twitter profitable in the long term is less clear.  Twitter has its uses and you can even update your Facebook status via Twitter, so there’s some interactivity going on.  But, the ultimate ‘purpose’ of Twitter and determining how the information it provides is useful as a product is yet to really be seen.  For now, Facebook and this blog are more then satisfying my social media and marketing needs and Twitter won’t be something to really consider for a while – if ever.  Though, I confess that I’ve recently added LinkedIn to my collection of online social marketing tools, but that’s another entry!

follow me @jjmoxy

makin’ sense of it all

keepin’ track of it all

August 2019
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