CLOSE
Original image

The Quick 10: 10 Iconic Movie Costumes Owned By Debbie Reynolds

Original image

Long before it was popular to do so, Debbie Reynolds collected Hollywood memorabilia. When costume departments were cleaning out their closets or repurposing garments for a new movie, Reynolds would swoop in and purchase items for her personal collection. Along the way, she has amassed more than 3,500 costumes and thousands of props and costume sketches. Sadly, her museum had to file for bankruptcy in 2009, and as a result, her amazing collection is being auctioned off next week. Here are a few of the impressive items she owns.

1. Barbra Streisand’s gold gown from Hello, Dolly! It's been called the most expensive dress ever made for a movie, and with half a pound of real gold used in all of the thread, I'm inclined to believe it. It cost $100,000 to produce back in 1969 and isn't expected to sell for that (I bet it does). Here it is in action:

2. Marilyn Monroe’s subway dress from The Seven Year Itch. If you're thinking about bidding, though, you might want to know it's no longer the ivory tone it was in the movie. " "It's turned an ecru color because it's very, very old as you know by now," Reynolds told Oprah in February.
3. Judy Garland’s blue dress from The Wizard of Oz. OK, it may not be the blue dress, but it's one she used during the first two weeks of filming. The "Arabian" ruby slippers are also up for sale - they're a pair of curled-toed slippers used in tests, but ultimately deemed too exotic-looking for Dorothy from Kansas.
4. Audrey Hepburn’s ascot dress from My Fair Lady.
5. Charlie Chaplin’s bowler hat.
6. Vivien Leigh’s green velvet “drapery” dress hat from Gone with the Wind.
7. Elizabeth Taylor’s jockey outfit from National Velvet.
8. Tom Hanks’ white tuxedo from Big.
9. Claudette Colbert’s gold lamé Cleopatra dress.
10. Julie Andrews’ brown jumper from The Sound of Music. Reynolds is also throwing in the guitar used in the scene, which she had Julie Andrews sign relatively recently.

What movie costume would you buy if you had the expendable cash to do so? For me, it doesn’t get any more iconic than the black Givenchy dress Audrey Hepburn wears in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, but since it sold for $1.2 million at a Christie’s auction in 2006... well, it’s slightly out of my reach.

Original image
iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
technology
arrow
Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
May 21, 2017
Original image
iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

Original image
Opening Ceremony
fun
arrow
These $425 Jeans Can Turn Into Jorts
May 19, 2017
Original image
Opening Ceremony

Modular clothing used to consist of something simple, like a reversible jacket. Today, it’s a $425 pair of detachable jeans.

Apparel retailer Opening Ceremony recently debuted a pair of “2 in 1 Y/Project” trousers that look fairly peculiar. The legs are held to the crotch by a pair of loops, creating a disjointed C-3PO effect. Undo the loops and you can now remove the legs entirely, leaving a pair of jean shorts in their wake. The result goes from this:

501069-OpeningCeremony2.jpg

Opening Ceremony

To this:

501069-OpeningCeremony3.jpg

Opening Ceremony

The company also offers a slightly different cut with button tabs in black for $460. If these aren’t audacious enough for you, the Y/Project line includes jumpsuits with removable legs and garter-equipped jeans.

[h/t Mashable]

SECTIONS
BIG QUESTIONS
BIG QUESTIONS
JOB SECRETS
QUIZZES
WORLD WAR 1
SMART SHOPPING
STONES, BONES, & WRECKS
#TBT
THE PRESIDENTS
WORDS
RETROBITUARIES