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zacch

12 Wordplay Halloween Costumes

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zacch

By this time of year, we've seen list after list of great Halloween costumes, not to mention the many cosplay galleries that appear all year long. Buried in those lists, there are some costumes that require you to think, because they aren't all that obvious. Some illustrate a concept instead of a character. Others bring to mind a common phrase or adage. And yet others signify a pun that will make you laugh -once you figure it out. Here are some of those wordplay costumes you might enjoy.

Redditor Brettera hung a bicycle wheel in front for her Halloween costume. It doesn't make much sense by itself, but as you can see in this gallery of pictures, she spent the evening posing with people wearing couple's costumes. She is the Third Wheel!

Brettera's inspiration came from her boyfriend, who teamed up with his roommate for a sort-of couples costume without her. A couple's pun costume. These cheerleaders are ceiling fans.

This picture has been reposted so many times, I can't find who is wearing this clever but simple last-minute pun costume. I'm sure that you can figure it out if you stare at his chest for a moment. Spotted at The Chive. Oh yeah, it's a spice rack.

In 2005, the big movie in theaters was The Legend of Zorro, starring Antonio Banderas. T.J. Griffin spiced up his Zorro costume by adding some Canadian flags to his neckerchief and armband and was "Zorro, featuring Ontario Bandanas." Ha!

Redditor zacch mixed a literary figure with a statement on the trend of inappropriately sexy Halloween costumes when he dressed as Edgar Allan Ho. He explained:

I have a little paper sticking out of my pocket that says "Nevermore..."
If people didn't get it I told them I was Hipster Hitler.

Of course, the picture sparked dozens of further puns about Poe.

If we are going to go with literary puns, we cannot overlook this year's hottest novel, which was easy to recreate with a trip to the paint store for sample swatches. Behold, they had 50 Shades of Grey.

Heisenberg is a dangerous drug manufacturer, but Heisenburger is a delicious pun.

A dachshund dressed up as Anthony Weiner Dog at the 23rd Annual Halloween Dog Parade at Tompkins Square Park in New York City.

This is the one that made me laugh when I saw it. Sure, it's an outdated stereotype but they had to overdo it to make sure everyone gets the pun. French KISS. A year later, even more people are trying this one. 


And then there's the pun you have to travel around the world for. It's a good thing redditor yourenotmydad had a sign -otherwise, he'd have had to tell that whole joke to everyone who saw him!

Under the category of things instead of characters, redditor Illinformedpseudoint caught a photograph of a guy dressed as the opening credits of the TV sitcom Cheers. See how well he recreated the iconic image that those of us of a certain age remember so well. He even has the expression down pat!

Many people try to be a Disney character, but it takes real courage to be a Disney theme park! Rob Cockerham's Halloween costumes have been featured here before, but this year's is something else altogether. He constructed a miniature replica of Disneyland, made to wear at an angle, so people could see it. That's his face sticking out of Sleeping Beauty's castle. The pictures of the finished costume are on page 17 of the post. Can he walk around in it? Yes, but he cannot lift his own drink. Doorways may be a problem, too.

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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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