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Heidi Arnhold

22 Rocking Pieces of Fraggle Rock Fan Art

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Heidi Arnhold

Jim Henson’s cave-dwelling Fraggle Rock critters hit the big 3-0 this year. In celebration, here are a few fun pieces of fan art celebrating those who “let the music play down in Fraggle Rock.”

1. Gobo In Carbonite

As the most adventurous Fraggle, it’s only fitting that Gobo would be the Han Solo of the group. And with that kind of a reputation, you have to expect the occasional carbonite freezing. As artist Phraggle points out, this would be a perfect wall display for the despicable Wander McMooch.

2. Doozers On Death Stars

Doozers are always building something, and live to construct massive structures. Artist James Hance has a point here—Darth would have done himself a favor if he hired these dedicated workers to build the Death Star. It’s doubtful the Rebels would have had a chance to destroy the structure before the Doozers completed their job! In a more patriotic look at the Doozers, Hance also had them raise the flag at Iwo Jima.

3. Sgt. Mokey’s Happy Hearts Club Band

James Hance has no shortage of Henson creatures in his “relentlessly cheerful art.” Aside from this great Fraggle-y take on The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper looks, he also has a take on Firefly featuring a variety of Muppets as well as Red and Wembley as Zoe and Wash, respectively.

4. A Hard Doozer’s Night

Hance isn’t the only artist to envision the Fraggles as The Beatles. Here’s the earlier incarnation of the band by DeviantArt user TheRogueSPiDER.

5. Keep Away From Sharp Rocks

James Hance’s “Firefrog” piece is precisely what inspired balloon artist Susanne Ritchie of Black Cat Balloon Company to create this delightful Wembley balloon sculpture.

6. Poor Little Boober

These days, much of the best Fraggle Rock art is actually created specifically for Archaia's Fraggle Rock comic. This great piece featuring a terrified Boober was created as a cover for the comic by DeviantArt user mooncalfe, who also had a 5-page story in the issue.

7. Full Metal Henson

When Red goes crazy, you’d better hit the deck … at least, that is assuming she goes postal like she has in this design by DeviantArt user zillford.

8. The Expedition

Another big source of Fraggle art as of late has been the Threadless design contest in honor of the show’s 30th anniversary. While DeviantArt user Lazesummerstone’s piece didn’t win the contest, it’s still delightful—particularly in the way that it manages to show off the individual personalities of the show’s five main characters.

9. Down At Fraggle Rock

While the show’s viewers know that Fraggle Rock has three exits and what they all connect to, it’s still quite fascinating to see all of the main species and characters involved in the show in one image. While DeviantArt user HeidiArnhold originally created this piece as part of the Threadless design challenge, it certainly stands up on its own merits as well.

10. Fragglecology

Here’s another view of the world of Fraggle Rock, and though this one doesn’t feature Marjory the trash heap, it does show how the Fraggle Rock ecosystem works. Essentially, DeviantArt user lazesummerstone has depicted the Fraggles' circle of life.

11. Getting Inside The Fraggles

Looking for more Fraggle science? How about an anatomy lesson? DeviantArt user Negaduck9 created this depiction of a Fraggle’s skeletal structure, noting that “No Fraggles were harmed in the making of this image, despite it looking like something exhumed from the back of Junior Gorg's garden. A Fraggle simply fell asleep while waiting in line at the airport and got slipped through the X-ray machine.”

12. My Little Fragglies

What would the five main Fraggles look like as My Little Ponies? Negaduck9 seems to have a pretty good idea, even down to their personalized cutie marks. She has also created an image showing Derpy Hooves, the My Little Pony, as a Fraggle. She even drew a self-portrait as a Fraggle.

13. Real Fraggles

Obviously, the Fraggles on TV are cute little puppets made by Jim Henson. DeviantArt user Pristichampsus has a good idea as to what they look like in the real world, and while the result is interesting, it’s not nearly as cute.

14. The Newest Fraggle

While most fan art involves paintings, drawings or some kind of digital art, DeviantArt user Tanglewood-Thicket’s puppet is particularly fitting. Couldn’t you just see this cutie dancing away next to Mokey?

15. A Rainbow of Fraggles

When you’re working with creatures this colorful, putting them together in a rainbow of colors is only logical. DeviantArt user real-faker’s design is particularly charming in that although it is digital, it almost looks like an intricate paper sculpture.

16. Laundry Day

If Fraggles generally only wear shirts and are covered in a thick layer of body fluff, then are they still technically naked in this design by DeviantArt user aerinsol?

17. Fraggles vs. Minions

It looks like DeviantArt user Petzrick was imagining what would happen if the Fraggles encountered the apocalypse, but it’s actually the artist’s mashup between Fraggle Rock and the children’s horror film, The Gate. He says he imagines the evil minions as the total opposite of Fraggles, who are inherently good.

18. FragOl

Artist James Farr did a fantastic job merging Fraggle Rock and Portal in this fantastic mashup. Just imagine how much easier it would be for them to steal radishes from the Gorgs if they had a Portal Gun on their side.

19. Doozer Propaganda

Even hard workers like doozers need a little motivation now and then, and if it happens to come in the form of propaganda posters, then so be it. DeviantArt user mightyfilm does bring up an interesting observation with this piece though—doozers seem to not earn any financial rewards for all their hard work, so are they communists?

20. Doozers Do!

Here’s another propaganda-style poster for doozers, this one even more communist than the last. DeviantArt user duktoonz said this piece was inspired by the doozer toys on his desk that help keep him motivated to work all day long.

21. Doozers Just Wanna Have Fun

Maybe they aren’t communists at all. Maybe doozers really do just think work is the most fun activity in the world, so they’re always living it up. Either way, it sure is nice to see a doozer have as much fun as the one in this piece by DeviantArt user xanderthurteen.

22. Smell Like A Fraggle

While it might not technically be art, Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab has created their own tribute to the Fraggles—signature scents. Gobo's cologne has notes of pink grapefruit and vanilla cream, Uncle Traveling Matt features dark chocolate, figgy vanilla and pear, and Red smells like sweet red currant, tangy cranberry, pink musk, and spicy pink pepper.

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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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Sponsor Content: BarkBox
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8 Common Dog Behaviors, Decoded
May 25, 2017
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iStock

Dogs are a lot more complicated than we give them credit for. As a result, sometimes things get lost in translation. We’ve yet to invent a dog-to-English translator, but there are certain behaviors you can learn to read in order to better understand what your dog is trying to tell you. The more tuned-in you are to your dog’s emotions, the better you’ll be able to respond—whether that means giving her some space or welcoming a wet, slobbery kiss. 

1. What you’ll see: Your dog is standing with his legs and body relaxed and tail low. His ears are up, but not pointed forward. His mouth is slightly open, he’s panting lightly, and his tongue is loose. His eyes? Soft or maybe slightly squinty from getting his smile on.

What it means: “Hey there, friend!” Your pup is in a calm, relaxed state. He’s open to mingling, which means you can feel comfortable letting friends say hi.

2. What you’ll see: Your dog is standing with her body leaning forward. Her ears are erect and angled forward—or have at least perked up if they’re floppy—and her mouth is closed. Her tail might be sticking out horizontally or sticking straight up and wagging slightly.

What it means: “Hark! Who goes there?!” Something caught your pup’s attention and now she’s on high alert, trying to discern whether or not the person, animal, or situation is a threat. She’ll likely stay on guard until she feels safe or becomes distracted.

3. What you’ll see: Your dog is standing, leaning slightly forward. His body and legs are tense, and his hackles—those hairs along his back and neck—are raised. His tail is stiff and twitching, not swooping playfully. His mouth is open, teeth are exposed, and he may be snarling, snapping, or barking excessively.

What it means: “Don’t mess with me!” This dog is asserting his social dominance and letting others know that he might attack if they don’t defer accordingly. A dog in this stance could be either offensively aggressive or defensively aggressive. If you encounter a dog in this state, play it safe and back away slowly without making eye contact.

4. What you’ll see: As another dog approaches, your dog lies down on his back with his tail tucked in between his legs. His paws are tucked in too, his ears are flat, and he isn’t making direct eye contact with the other dog standing over him.

What it means: “I come in peace!” Your pooch is displaying signs of submission to a more dominant dog, conveying total surrender to avoid physical confrontation. Other, less obvious, signs of submission include ears that are flattened back against the head, an avoidance of eye contact, a tongue flick, and bared teeth. Yup—a dog might bare his teeth while still being submissive, but they’ll likely be clenched together, the lips opened horizontally rather than curled up to show the front canines. A submissive dog will also slink backward or inward rather than forward, which would indicate more aggressive behavior.

5. What you’ll see: Your dog is crouching with her back hunched, tail tucked, and the corner of her mouth pulled back with lips slightly curled. Her shoulders, or hackles, are raised and her ears are flattened. She’s avoiding eye contact.

What it means: “I’m scared, but will fight you if I have to.” This dog’s fight or flight instincts have been activated. It’s best to keep your distance from a dog in this emotional state because she could attack if she feels cornered.

6. What you’ll see: You’re staring at your dog, holding eye contact. Your dog looks away from you, tentatively looks back, then looks away again. After some time, he licks his chops and yawns.

What it means: “I don’t know what’s going on and it’s weirding me out.” Your dog doesn’t know what to make of the situation, but rather than nipping or barking, he’ll stick to behaviors he knows are OK, like yawning, licking his chops, or shaking as if he’s wet. You’ll want to intervene by removing whatever it is causing him discomfort—such as an overly grabby child—and giving him some space to relax.

7. What you’ll see: Your dog has her front paws bent and lowered onto the ground with her rear in the air. Her body is relaxed, loose, and wiggly, and her tail is up and wagging from side to side. She might also let out a high-pitched or impatient bark.

What it means: “What’s the hold up? Let’s play!” This classic stance, known to dog trainers and behaviorists as “the play bow,” is a sign she’s ready to let the good times roll. Get ready for a round of fetch or tug of war, or for a good long outing at the dog park.

8. What you’ll see: You’ve just gotten home from work and your dog rushes over. He can’t stop wiggling his backside, and he may even lower himself into a giant stretch, like he’s doing yoga.

What it means: “OhmygoshImsohappytoseeyou I love you so much you’re my best friend foreverandeverandever!!!!” This one’s easy: Your pup is overjoyed his BFF is back. That big stretch is something dogs don’t pull out for just anyone; they save that for the people they truly love. Show him you feel the same way with a good belly rub and a handful of his favorite treats.

The best way to say “I love you” in dog? A monthly subscription to BarkBox. Your favorite pup will get a package filled with treats, toys, and other good stuff (and in return, you’ll probably get lots of sloppy kisses). Visit BarkBox to learn more.

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