Pixel Scroll 7/25 – A Pixel in Time

Five stories, two videos and a tweet in today’s Scroll. Now with extra subtitle goodness.

(1) What’s that sound? Everybody look what’s goin’ down…. Aaron Reese writes audio history in “From vrrrramp to snikt: exploring sci-fi’s most iconic movie sound effects”.

This is also the decade of the Wilhelm Scream, which is perhaps the most ubiquitous sound effect on this list. Appearing in over 300 films, big blockbuster and indie alike, you’ve more than likely heard the Wilhelm Scream.



The Wilhelm Scream originated in a 1951 Warner Brothers western called The Distant Drums, recorded for a scene in the movie in which a character gets attacked by an alligator (the sample is aptly named “”man getting bit by an alligator, and he screamed”). The name, however, comes from the sound sample’s use in 1954 western The Charge at Feather River, when the character Private Wilhelm, well… screams after being shot by an arrow.

While studying film at USC, friends Ben Burtt, Richard Anderson, and Rick Mitchell noticed the pervasive stock sound in a number of favorite flicks, and would jokingly use it for school projects. A few years later, however, Burtt would take the joke to Hollywood when asked by George Lucas to direct sound for Star Wars: A New Hope, using the Wilhelm Scream when a stormtrooper is shot by Luke Skywalker and falls into oblivion in the Death Star. Anderson would follow suit, sneaking it into the truck chase scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

(2) After I ran a Star Wars themed parody of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly in yesterday’s Scroll, Michael J. Walsh suggested people might be interested in a Western-themed instrumental cover of the Game of Thrones theme music. “There’s the awesome ability of a guitar with no speakers to be playing so many instruments,” says Mike. “Anyway, the idea of a spaghetti Westeros is amusing.”

(3) Ray Blank – “one of several identities deployed by a confused cosmopolitan” – tells Superversive SF readers that the Hugos want to be free! Or at least a lot cheaper. And not run by the Worldcon. And have Korean and Indian films as nominees.

Worldcon members can vote for the Hugos online. But why should the “premier awards in the science fiction field” still be associated with a physical meet-up? That approach was optimal in the 1950’s, and for a long while after. It is no longer a good way to serve your goal, if the goal is to promote an art form, and to engage with the greatest number of fans. The internet has changed what is possible. The internet connects us to millions, when we used to be satisfied with reaching thousands.

It appears that Worldcon2015 will have more non-attending members than attending members. The disproportionate growth in Worldcon supporting memberships demonstrates an inconvenient truth. The awards could be managed separately from the event. There are only two reasons to connect the two: marketing, and a subsidy for the physical convention. By connecting the two, the legitimacy of the award is undermined. This is supposedly an award given by all fans, wherever they are. So why confuse a voting electorate with a membership system that prefers some fans to others?

Associating an internet-based vote with a convention inevitably skews the vote towards the population who live near to the convention’s location. If the organizers of a ‘world’ event really wanted to maximize the diversity of participation in SF, they would separate the convention from the award, and lower the cost of voting.

You may not have been aware of Superversive SF’s commitment to diversity, a word Blank uses 10 times in his post. But yes, they support it just as strongly as Michael Z. Williamson.

(4) George R.R. Martin opposes the “nuclear option,” nevertheless will be voting No Award in several Hugo categories.

I favor reading the work, and voting for the stories, books, and writers you feel are worthy of a Hugo. Those you do NOT feel are worthy of the Hugo can and should be ranked below No Award or left off your ballot entirely.

This does not mean I am entirely opposed to voting No Award in all cases. Far from it. Having now finished most (not quite all) of my Hugo reading, I can say that I will probably be voting No Award myself in… hmmm… at least three categories, maybe four, maybe even five. These are categories where in my judgement none of the nominated work is worthy of a rocket.

But in those categories where I do find one or more nominees to be of sufficient quality, I will be voting for him or her or them, regardless of whether or not they were on a slate. And yes, this is true even if only one nominee is worthy. To throw out that one worthy nominee because they “had no real competition” (as some have suggested) seems wrong-headed to me. If it is worthy of a Hugo, give it a Hugo, that’s what I say.

Let me be specific here. Short Form Editor, Long Form Editor are all slate, but there are nominees in both who deserve a Hugo, and I’ll be voting for them. The Puppies liked a lot (though not all) of the nominees in the two Dramatic Presentation categories as well… but you know, so did I, so I’ll be voting for those as well. Sorry, but IMNSHO, only an idiot would want to “no award” GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY or INTERSTELLAR because the Puppies slated them. I am not going to tell you which movie or TV show or editor or novel I am voting for. I’ve mentioned some that I liked in older blog posts. Your mileage may vary; read, watch, consider, vote.

(5) I felt like I hadn’t seen Natalie Luhr’s name for a long time so I looked her up – darned if people aren’t still paying her money to tweet her way through Vox Day’s book.

(6) Will Baird on The Dragon’s Tales linked to an abstract that may show the origins of agriculture can be traced back to the Pleistocene – “The Origin of Cultivation and Proto-Weeds, Long Before Neolithic”. Farming. Yes, people have been raising weed(s) for a long time.

Authors: Snir et al

Abstract: Weeds are currently present in a wide range of ecosystems worldwide. Although the beginning of their evolution is largely unknown, researchers assumed that they developed in tandem with cultivation since the appearance of agricultural habitats some 12,000 years ago. These rapidly-evolving plants invaded the human disturbed areas and thrived in the new habitat. Here we present unprecedented new findings of the presence of “proto-weeds” and small-scale trial cultivation in Ohalo II, a 23,000-year-old hunter-gatherers’ sedentary camp on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, Israel. We examined the plant remains retrieved from the site (ca. 150,000 specimens), placing particular emphasis on the search for evidence of plant cultivation by Ohalo II people and the presence of weed species. The archaeobotanically-rich plant assemblage demonstrates extensive human gathering of over 140 plant species and food preparation by grinding wild wheat and barley. Among these, we identified 13 well-known current weeds mixed with numerous seeds of wild emmer, barley, and oat. This collection provides the earliest evidence of a human-disturbed environment—at least 11 millennia before the onset of agriculture—that provided the conditions for the development of “proto-weeds”, a prerequisite for weed evolution. Finally, we suggest that their presence indicates the earliest, small-scale attempt to cultivate wild cereals seen in the archaeological record.

[Thanks to Michael J. Walsh, John King Tarpinian, James Davis Nicoll, and Will Baird for these stories, or at least for leaving them in plain sight.]

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