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11 Famous TV Theme Songs That Secretly Have Lyrics

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Chances are, you've been humming these classic TV theme songs for years. Now you can get their lyrics stuck in your head, too.

1. Andy Griffith recorded a version of “The Fishing Hole” - AKA the theme song to The Andy Griffith Show - that was replaced by the all-whistling version.

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2. Controversially, Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry penned lyrics to Alexander Courage's theme song even though he never intended to use them for the show. Why? Because under their contract, writing lyrics - even unused ones - meant Roddenberry would get half of the royalties for the song. The lyrics:

Beyond
The rim of the star-light
My love
Is wand’ring in star-flight
I know
He’ll find in star-clustered reaches
Love,
Strange love a star woman teaches.
I know
His journey ends never
His star trek
Will go on forever.
But tell him
While he wanders his starry sea
Remember, remember me

Can’t quite put the words with the tune? Listen to Tenacious D putting their spin on the sci-fi classic here.

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3. It makes sense within the context of the show, but Buddy Kaye's opening lyrics to I Dream of Jeannie still make me cringe: “Jeannie, fresh a daisy. Just love how she obeys me.”

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4. Morey Amsterdam not only co-starred in the Dick Van Dyke Show, he also wrote lyrics for the theme song. The tune was written by Earle Hagen, who was also responsible for the Andy Griffith song - including that iconic whistling. Here’s Dick Van Dyke and the Vantasticks doing an acapella version of the theme.

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5. In a second season episode of I Love Lucy called "Lucy's Last Birthday," Desi surprised Lucy with a song he wrote for her. It just happens to match the show's theme music.

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6. “The Toy Parade,” better known as the Leave it to Beaver theme song, was an old children's song by Melvyn Leonard before it became synonymous with the Beav.

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7. Steve Lawrence apparently wasn't fast enough to record the lyrics to Bewitched - the show's studio was so concerned about the first episode having a catchy theme song that they decided to air the instrumental version. It stuck, and Lawrence's rendition, written by Howie Greenfield, went largely unheard until the big screen edition of the TV show came out several years back. We won't make you watch it to hear the song.

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8. The pilot episode of Bonanza featured the Cartwrights singing a little ditty. “We nearly fell off our horses from laughing so hard,” Michael Landon later recalled. Apparently producers realized that it was a little silly as well since they ended up scrapping the lyrics for music only. Here’s Ben Cartwright himself - AKA actor Lorne Greene - doing his version.

Here’s a different version by Johnny Cash, who changed the lyrics a bit.

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9. The Munsters theme song didn’t actually have lyrics at the time, but Butch Patrick - that’s Eddie Munster to most of us - made some up in the 1980s to try to capitalize on his childhood fame. It’s... interesting.

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10. After nine seasons on the air, someone decided the Roseanne theme song needed lyrics to end on - and those lyrics would be crooned by Blues Traveler, no less. In case you missed out on that, check out the show's opening credits from the final season:

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11. Before The Tonight Show theme song was tweaked and renamed “Johnny’s Theme,” it was a Paul Anka tune called “Toot Sweet.” Here’s the Annette Funicello version of it - retitled again and called “It’s Really Love.”

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

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Name the Author Based on the Character
May 23, 2017
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