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Where Are They Now?: The Kids from It

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BlankManInc

There are few among us who can say that Pennywise the Clown didn't keep them up at night when Stephen King's It graced the small screen in 1990. But can you imagine being the kids who had to actually act opposite that? Never fear—for the most part, they seem to have grown up to be well-adjusted individuals. Here's what the Lucky Seven (or the Losers Club, if you read the book) are doing these days.

1. Seth Green

TVRage/Getty Images

You could say that Green has managed to stay busy since his days as 12-year-old Richie Tozier. He’s the voice of Chris on Family Guy, of course, and is co-creator/writer/director/executive producer/voice actor on Adult Swim’s Robot Chicken. Green has also been in pretty much everything ever, from Mr. Belvedere to How I Met Your Mother. And he seems to be doing his best to battle Richie Tozier’s fear of werewolves: Not only did he play a werewolf in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, he also played a character named “Wolfman” when he guest-starred on seaQuest DSV alongside his It co-star Jonathan Brandis in 1993.

2. Brandon Crane

TrialX/IMDB

These days, Crane calls himself “a washed-up actor, father and tech nerd.” He has owned several businesses, including Solid Fuel Creative, an L.A.-based marketing and advertising firm.

3. Emily Perkins


Fanpop/Fanphobia

Fans of Canadian horror movies will know Perkins as the protagonist of the Ginger Snaps series. Supernatural viewers might recognize Emily from a few episodes from 2009 to 2011, when she appeared as Winchester superfan Becky Rosen. She also starred in a Canadian sitcom called Hiccups and has had small roles in Juno, She’s the Man, and Prozac Nation, among other things.

4. Jonathan Brandis

Fanpop/Listal

As any self-respecting Tiger Beat reader from the ‘90s knows, Brandis was quite the teen heartthrob following his appearances in The NeverEnding Story II, Sidekicks, Ladybugs and the TV show seaQuest DSV. When the show was canceled in 1996, Brandis found himself in the middle of a career downswing. After a string of small parts and a couple of made-for-TV movies, Brandis hoped to make a comeback with the 2002 drama Hart’s War. Unfortunately, his scenes were cut, and friends believe it was the tipping point that caused Brandis to commit suicide in 2003.

5. Adam Faraizl

Aveleyman/Austin Chronicle-John Anderson

After a couple of parts in movies like RoboCop 2 and Where the Red Fern Grows, Faraizl left the business. He graduated with a degree in Pacific & Asian Studies from the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada, and has since become one of fewer than 100 saké experts in the United States, passing the level one and level two Saké Education Council exams in Japan. He's currently the resident beverage director at Kenichi in Austin, Texas.

6. Ben Heller

Rotten Tomatoes/Cinemarx

Maybe the trauma of being slammed against a wall by Tim Curry dressed as a sharp-toothed clown was too much for Heller, because It appears to have been his only acting job ever. There's not much out there about what he's doing these days, though one site speculates that he went into sales, which is more than a little vague.

7. Marlon Taylor

TVRage

After stints on a few TV shows, Taylor appears to have taken a 15-year hiatus from acting, reappearing on the scene in 2009—at least according to IMDb. But IMDb may be mixing up the resumes of two different Marlon Taylors. In this Hollywood Today interview, the Marlon Taylor who is in the 2009 movie Know Thy Enemy states that it's his first film ever. Anyone know what the actor who played 12-year-old Mike Hanlon has been up to?

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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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What Happened to Jamie and Aurelia From Love Actually?
May 26, 2017
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Nick Briggs/Comic Relief

Fans of the romantic-comedy Love Actually recently got a bonus reunion in the form of Red Nose Day Actually, a short charity special that gave audiences a peek at where their favorite characters ended up almost 15 years later.

One of the most improbable pairings from the original film was between Jamie (Colin Firth) and Aurelia (Lúcia Moniz), who fell in love despite almost no shared vocabulary. Jamie is English, and Aurelia is Portuguese, and they know just enough of each other’s native tongues for Jamie to propose and Aurelia to accept.

A decade and a half on, they have both improved their knowledge of each other’s languages—if not perfectly, in Jamie’s case. But apparently, their love is much stronger than his grasp on Portuguese grammar, because they’ve got three bilingual kids and another on the way. (And still enjoy having important romantic moments in the car.)

In 2015, Love Actually script editor Emma Freud revealed via Twitter what happened between Karen and Harry (Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman, who passed away last year). Most of the other couples get happy endings in the short—even if Hugh Grant's character hasn't gotten any better at dancing.

[h/t TV Guide]

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