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10 People Who Accepted Their Razzie Awards

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Each year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences honors the very best in film achievements and cinema. But the night before the Academy names its winners, another ceremony takes place, one that awards the worst that cinema has offered that year: the Golden Raspberry Awards. Although most people wouldn’t be happy to be considered the worst at something, there are a few actors, writers, and directors who have a sense of humor about themselves—and will show up to accept their awards.

1. Halle Berry for Catwoman

Halle Berry accepted the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress for her work in Catwoman at the Ivar Theatre in Hollywood, California. While giving her speech during the 25th Golden Raspberry Awards, Berry held the Razzie Award in one hand and her Academy Award for Best Female Actor in a Leading Role for her performance in the film Monster’s Ball in the other. Berry thanked the film’s director and her manager in a parody of her Oscar acceptance speech a few years earlier.

2. J. David Shapiro for Battlefield Earth: A Saga of the Year 3000

In 2001, screenwriter J. David Shapiro received a Golden Raspberry for Worst Screenplay for the science fiction film Battlefield Earth: A Saga of the Year 3000. Wilson delivered the Razzie on radio personality Mark Ebner’s show in Los Angeles. While Shapiro was more than happy to receive the Razzie, he later recalled the film’s star John Travolta’s comments after reading the film’s script. Apparently, Travolta called Battlefield Earth "the Schindler's List of science fiction."

Ten years later, during the 30th Golden Raspberry Awards in 2010, J. David Shapiro also accepted the Razzie Award for Worst Picture of the Decade for Battlefield Earth.

3. Paul Verhoeven for Showgirls

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Director Paul Verhoeven is mostly known for making sleazy, yet thoughtful, pulpy genre movies, including RoboCop, Total Recall, and Basic Instinct. While many of his films are critically acclaimed, his 1995 film Showgirls was definitely not. To no one’s surprise, Showgirls received six Golden Raspberry Awards, including Worst Actress for Elizabeth Berkley, Worst Screenplay for screenwriter Joe Eszterhas, and Worst Picture and Worst Director for Paul Verhoeven, who was the first person in Razzie history to attend the ceremony and accept the awards. “I got seven awards for being the worst, and it was more fun than reading the reviews (for Showgirls) in September,” said the Dutch-born director.

4. Brian Helgeland for The Postman

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Screenwriter Brian Helgeland was awarded the Worst Screenplay Golden Raspberry in 1998 for The Postman, directed by and starring Kevin Costner. Helgeland received the Razzie from John Wilson at the writer’s office on the Warner Bros lot in Los Angeles and even prepared a speech for the occasion, owning up to his part in making one of the worst films of the year. A few days later, Helgeland was awarded an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for L.A. Confidential. He currently keeps his Razzie and Oscar together side-by-side as a way to remember “the quixotic nature of Hollywood."

5. Tom Green for Freddy Got Fingered

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During the 22nd Golden Raspberry Awards in 2002, Tom Green received five Razzie Awards—including Worst Actor, Worst Director, Worst Picture, Worst Screen Couple (with any animal Green abused in the film), and Worst Screenplay—for the film Freddy Got Fingered. Tom Green attended the ceremony at the Abracadabra Theater at Magicopolis in Santa Monica, California, where he was dragged off stage while accepting one of his awards because he wouldn’t stop obnoxiously playing the harmonica.

6. Tom Selleck for Christopher Columbus: The Discovery

In 1993, actor Tom Selleck received the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actor for his performance as King Ferdinand of Spain in the film Christopher Columbus: The Discovery. Selleck gladly accepted the award while he was making a guest appearance on the short-lived Chevy Chase Show on Fox.

7. Michael Ferris for Catwoman

Halle Berry wasn't the only one who won a Razzie for Catwoman: Michael Ferris, who penned the script, accepted the Razzie Award for Worst Screenplay for the film. During his acceptance speech, Ferris thanked the Golden Raspberry Award Foundation for increasing the film's DVD sales.

8. David Eigenberg for Sex and the City 2

In 2011, actor David Eigenberg accepted the Golden Raspberry for Worst Screen Couple/Screen Ensemble on behalf of the entire cast of Sex in the City 2. He worked with Razzie founder John Wilson on creating an acceptance video that was later posted on the organization’s official YouTube channel.

9. Bill Cosby for Leonard Part 6

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The embattled Bill Cosby wrote and starred in one of the worst films of 1988. Leonard Part 6 featured Cosby as a former CIA agent forced out of retirement to hunt down an evil vegetarian hell bent on taking over the world.

Leonard Part 6 received three Golden Raspberry Awards—or Razzies—for Worst Picture, Worst Screenplay, and Worst Actor. When Cosby found out about the "honor," he contacted John J.B. Wilson, the founder of the Razzies, and demanded that the organization give him an actual trophy. Displeased with the makeshift $1.97 statue he received, Cosby told his publicist “I want my Golden Raspberry and if it isn’t golden, I’m going to the press.” His publicist explained that Wilson was a one-man outfit operating out of his living room, but Cosby was adamant. “That’s a cop-out. If you’re going to take a big name and declare it ‘the worst’, you have to perform." Fox’s Late Show stepped in and paid for marble and gold trophies (at a cost of $30,000) and hosted a mini-Razzies presentation ceremony on the show.

10. Sandra Bullock for All About Steve

In 2010, Sandra Bullock received the Golden Raspberry Award for her performance in the movie All About Steve. While Bullock was happy enough to appear at the ceremony itself, she was not pleased to receive the award for Worst Actress. Sandra Bullock gave everyone attending the 30th Golden Raspberry Awards a DVD copy of All About Steve. She also brought a copy of the film’s final shooting script and playfully threatened the audience with a line reading of the entire movie. The day after the awards ceremony, Bullock won the Academy Award for Best Female Actor in a Leading Role for her performance in the film The Blind Side.

BONUS: Ben Affleck for Paycheck, Daredevil, and Gigli

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Ben Affleck received a Golden Raspberry for his leading performances in the films Paycheck, Daredevil, and Gigli, which all hit theaters in 2004. While Affleck didn’t attend the ceremony to receive the award, he was presented with the Golden Raspberry during his appearance on Larry King Live, where he proceeded to call the trophy cheap, began to pull it apart, and ultimately refused the award.

The Golden Raspberry Award Foundation later put the award up for bid on eBay; it sold for $1375. The money earned from the sale was used in part to rent the Ivar Theatre in Hollywood, California for the 25th Golden Raspberry Awards the following year.

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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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8 Common Dog Behaviors, Decoded
May 25, 2017
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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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