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Brandon Bird

12 Weirdly Wonderful Pieces of Nicolas Cage Fan Art

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Brandon Bird

The internet is a strange, strange place—and the proof is in the weird fan art dedicated to actor Nicolas Cage. Here are some of our favorites.

1. Everything’s Better Caged

There’s no more famous fan art tribute to Nicolas Cage than the Tumblr dedicated to putting the actor in every great role. For example, here’s Nic Cage As Everyone's vision of what we would have gotten if Bryan Cranston was replaced with Mr. Cage in Breaking Bad. (The Tumblr also features Cage filling in for celebrities going about their everyday lives.)

2. The Mini-Fig Actor

Nic Cage As Everyone fan Evan O’Reilly created this delightful Nicolas Cage LEGO Mini-Fig so you can even act out your favorite Nic Cage As Everyone movie ideas in toy form.

3. Here Nic-y Nic-y

Nic Cage also makes a fantastic house pet. As the Tumblr Nicolas Cage Cats proves, if there’s anything that can make LOL cats better, it’s Nicolas Cage’s face.

4. A Whole New World

BuzzFeed’s Jen Lewis knew what she was doing when she photoshopped the internet’s favorite actor into these classic Disney scenes.

5. The Ultimate In Cage Costumery

For those who wish they could live their lives as Nicolas Cage, there is always the terrifying and fascinating Nic Cage Morphsuit created by Imgur user RubberDogTurdsGIFS. Admit it, you just can’t turn away from this monstrosity.

6. Face On

Since most of us can’t make our own custom morphsuit with our favorite actor all over it, you can always just print out the actor’s face and wear it as a mask like DeviantArt user Scalemate Judge.

7. The Nicolas Cage Movie Matrix

No, this isn’t a take on what it would be like if Nicolas Cage was in The Matrix (though you can see what that might look like thanks to Redditor JRWinn17). It’s instead a look at Cage movies on The Shniznit's graph that is based on how good the movie is and how serious or insane the actor is in the film. Note that not every movie he has been in is on this list—Face/Off and Ghost Rider are both missing, for example—but it gives you a pretty good idea of what to expect when you’re looking for a Nic Cage movie you haven’t already seen.

8. Digimon Cage

DeviantArt user Wingza made this great creation depicting two of his original Digimon characters to sell at Wondercon. I don’t know about you guys, but I think these two need to be added to the official Digimon franchise ASAP.

9. Uncanny Valley

When it comes to over-the-top strange fan art, it’s tough to beat artist Brandon Bird’s Uncanny Valley painting featuring a Japanese macaque version of the actor cuddled up with another macaque. Even the other snow monkey looks confused.

10. The Cage Couch

This amazing couch, designed by Redditor Vfn, is unfortunately only a Photoshop dream—for the moment. But the way the internet works, it’s probably only a matter of time until some huge nerd with a big bank account makes this thing into a reality.

Can't wait for the couch? Amazon seller Nicolas Cage Pillowcase exclusively sells items featuring the actor.

11. Fan Décor

If you need some more home decorating advice to show off your total Cage fandom, Deviant Art user hebishasa has some ideas on how to really Cage up your bedroom. I really like the idea of a plush Nic toy.

12. Nicolas Cage Roulette

You might argue that this web toy isn’t actually fan art, but Scott Luptowski’s tool that allows you to click a link and instantly find yourself streaming a Nicolas Cage film on Netflix is pretty cool.

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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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May 23, 2017
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