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Columbia Pictures via foodandlacquertoo

18 Things You Might Not Know About Just One of the Guys

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Columbia Pictures via foodandlacquertoo

Poor Terry Griffith. The girl just cannot catch a break. Sure, she’s young and gorgeous and adored by her college boyfriend. But none of that’s going to help the budding reporter land an internship at the local newspaper. In fact, in Terry’s mind, being female is part of the problem. To prove that she is merely a victim of sexism, Terry decides to do what all teenage girls would do in that same situation: transfer to a new school and pretend to be a teenage boy. So goes the plot of Just One of the Guys. We caught up with the film’s director, Lisa Gottlieb, who helped us uncover 18 fun facts about the 1985 gender-bending teen comedy.

1. THE FILM MADE A BIG IMPACT ON MANY GAY AND TRANSGENDER WOMEN.

“I would say the most interesting and surprising thing I learned about Just One of the Guys is the huge influence it had on young gay and transgender women,” says Gottlieb. “I learned this when we did a live chat on Jezebel a few years ago. For hours, women posted their stories and I was genuinely moved.”

2. ITS ORIGINS ARE SHAKESPEAREAN.

Just One of the Guys is loosely based on The Bard’s Twelfth Night, with Terry playing the role of Viola/Cesario.

3. LISA GOTTLIEB AND MITCH GIANNUNZIO WROTE SEVERAL DRAFTS OF THE SCRIPT, BUT YOU’D NEVER KNOW IT FROM THE CREDITS.

“I wrote six drafts of the screenplay with my writing partner, Mitch Giannunzio,” says Gottlieb. “We got the project green lit. We were denied writing credit and the producers did not invite Mitch to the wrap party. I brought him to the party.” 

4. “GUY” TERRY WAS BASED ON RALPH MACCHIO.

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“Dresses like Elvis Costello, looks like the Karate Kid... I'm gonna get him,” was the declaration made by Sherilyn Fenn, as high school vixen Sandy, when she caught a glimpse of Terry. Which was no coincidence. “We based Terry the guy on Ralph Macchio, a.k.a. The Karate Kid,” says Gottlieb. “We saw the physical resemblance and went with it. Remember that Columbia [the studio that released Just One of the Guys] was the studio that made The Karate Kid movies and the first one was a giant hit as we were prepping.”

5. SPEAKING OF THE KARATE KID

Terry’s resemblance to Ralph Macchio must have made playing the role of Greg, the school bully, much easier for William Zabka. He also played the leg-sweeping nemesis to Macchio’s Daniel LaRusso in The Karate Kid.

6. SHERILYN FENN REALLY DID THINK TERRY WAS CUTE.

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“I thought Joyce made a really cute boy,” Fenn told The A.V. Club earlier this year. “I did! I was like, ‘She’s actually cute!’ It was sweet. Instead of making Friday The 13th, Part VIII or whatever, I was making the girl-meets-boy, girl-meets-girl-dressed-as-boy movie.”

7. JENNIFER JASON LEIGH WAS UP FOR THE LEAD.

Though she played a teenager in the film, “I think I was 26 when we made the movie and I had to screen test for it,” actress Joyce Hyser, who played Terry, recalled to the Kickin’ It Old School blog in 2010. “There were three women who tested and one of them was Jennifer Jason Leigh. Going into it I was a little nervous about Jennifer because she got a part over me once before, but once the test was over I felt pretty confident. I did not think that anyone could play that part as well as I could.”

8. JOYCE HYSER WAS A VIDEO VIXEN.

A year prior to Just One of the Guys, Hyser starred in Dan Hartman’s video for “I Can Dream About You,” which was featured on the soundtrack for Streets of Fire. Ten years later, she was featured in ZZ Top’s video for “Pincushion.”

9. ACTOR PAUL LIEBER WAS HYSER’S “MANLY MAN” COACH.

“In early rehearsals in L.A., the production hired a friend of mine named Paul Lieber,” says Gottlieb. “Paul is a gifted actor. He gives off an ultra-macho manly man air, even though he loves and respects women. He’s definitely not an a**hole but can play one on TV. Joyce Hyser and I hung out with him for a week or so to hone in on his behavior, his movements, his line delivery, his sense of himself in relation to the world around him, etc. It was great!”

10. TERRY’S BOYFRIEND ONCE LIVED WITH KELSEY GRAMMER.

Leigh McCloskey, who plays Terry’s boyfriend Kevin, was a classmate—and roommate—of Kelsey Grammer’s at Juilliard.

11. HYSER WAS ATTRACTED TO THE FILM BECAUSE OF ITS TAKE ON GENDER IDENTITY.

“Although it may be cloaked in a silly teenage romp I was absolutely drawn to this project because of its subversive gender identity messages (for both young women and young men),” Hyser told Kickin’ It Old School. “The film actually operates on so many different levels and deals with so many teenage issues from homophobia to the pressure that is put on kids to conform to a certain ideal, that it always surprised me that at the time of its release it was not really judged for the sum of all its parts.”

12. BUT SHE HADN’T INTENDED TO BARE IT ALL.

In order to prove to the guy she’s been pretending to be a guy around that she is in fact a girl (got that?), Hyser rips open her shirt toward the end of the movie. While it seems like the most logical way to get the point across, Hyser was not sold on doing a topless scene. (She even had a no nudity clause in her contract.) It was Gottlieb who finally persuaded Hyser to reconsider. “I added in the boobage,” the director told Jezebel in 2010. “I went to Joyce and I said, ‘I keep rewriting these scenes… Honestly, I think you’ve gotta show ‘em.”

13. ROSANNA ARQUETTE WARNED HYSER TO KEEP HER TOP ON.

“At the time, one of Joyce's best friends was Rosanna Arquette,” Gottlieb told Jezebel. “Rosanna said, ‘I would say you shouldn't do it because no one will ever look into your eyes again as long as you'll live. On the other hand, people will look at you and see those breasts forever, even when you're an old lady.’ And I said, ‘Wow, I'll strip myself after hearing that reason.’”

14. JAMES BROWN HELPED CLAYTON ROHNER PERFECT HIS MOVES.

The Godfather of Soul spent three days on the set to help Clayton Rohner, who plays Terry’s social experiment-turned-love interest Rick, perfect his dance moves.

15. ROHNER BEAT OUT JAMES LE GROS FOR THE ROLE.

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Just One of the Guys marked Rohner’s movie debut. But he had some stiff competition from fellow up-and-comer James Le Gros. “We had these dueling auditions back and forth and back and forth and back and forth for the part,” Rohner told MisenPOPic in 2009. “Then I ended up getting it, although James had gone on to do great things.”

16. SEXISM SPILLED OVER ONTO THE SET.

“Terry” wasn’t the only one faced to deal with a bit of sexism on the set. “I fired our first cinematographer because he refused to shoot my shot list during screen tests and kept declaring, ‘Don't worry sweetie, I'll make your film look good,’” recalls Gottlieb. “I said, ‘Have you read the script?’ He said, ‘Don't waste my time, honey.’ So I fired his ass. I did not wish to waste anymore of his time.”

17. THE STUDIO DISAPPEARED DURING POST-PRODUCTION.

“While we were shooting on location, Coca Cola bought Columbia Pictures,” Gottlieb recalls of the studio that produced the film. “This was the early days of massive corporations buying and selling the studios. We returned and were editing on the lot in Burbank. I met with the music, publicity, and post executives to plan, inform, collaborate on marketing strategies, etc. All the things filmmakers need to muck about in so they are done well. One day, weeks later, I showed up in the executive building and they were all gone. Offices empty, security guards checking ID and barring entry. It was truly weird.”

18. A SEQUEL COULD VERY WELL HAPPEN.

“Joyce Hyser and I had lunch a while back and she pitched me a hilarious idea for a sequel,” says Gottlieb. “So far we haven't sold it, but we also haven't tried that hard. We need a producer. But we would love to do it. It's a hoot!”

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
technology
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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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Stephen Missal
crime
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New Evidence Emerges in Norway’s Most Famous Unsolved Murder Case
May 22, 2017
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A 2016 sketch by a forensic artist of the Isdal Woman
Stephen Missal

For almost 50 years, Norwegian investigators have been baffled by the case of the “Isdal Woman,” whose burned corpse was found in a valley outside the city of Bergen in 1970. Most of her face and hair had been burned off and the labels in her clothes had been removed. The police investigation eventually led to a pair of suitcases stuffed with wigs and the discovery that the woman had stayed at numerous hotels around Norway under different aliases. Still, the police eventually ruled it a suicide.

Almost five decades later, the Norwegian public broadcaster NRK has launched a new investigation into the case, working with police to help track down her identity. And it is already yielding results. The BBC reports that forensic analysis of the woman’s teeth show that she was from a region along the French-German border.

In 1970, hikers discovered the Isdal Woman’s body, burned and lying on a remote slope surrounded by an umbrella, melted plastic bottles, what may have been a passport cover, and more. Her clothes and possessions were scraped clean of any kind of identifying marks or labels. Later, the police found that she left two suitcases at the Bergen train station, containing sunglasses with her fingerprints on the lenses, a hairbrush, a prescription bottle of eczema cream, several wigs, and glasses with clear lenses. Again, all labels and other identifying marks had been removed, even from the prescription cream. A notepad found inside was filled with handwritten letters that looked like a code. A shopping bag led police to a shoe store, where, finally, an employee remembered selling rubber boots just like the ones found on the woman’s body.

Eventually, the police discovered that she had stayed in different hotels all over the country under different names, which would have required passports under several different aliases. This strongly suggests that she was a spy. Though she was both burned alive and had a stomach full of undigested sleeping pills, the police eventually ruled the death a suicide, unable to track down any evidence that they could tie to her murder.

But some of the forensic data that can help solve her case still exists. The Isdal Woman’s jaw was preserved in a forensic archive, allowing researchers from the University of Canberra in Australia to use isotopic analysis to figure out where she came from, based on the chemical traces left on her teeth while she was growing up. It’s the first time this technique has been used in a Norwegian criminal investigation.

The isotopic analysis was so effective that the researchers can tell that she probably grew up in eastern or central Europe, then moved west toward France during her adolescence, possibly just before or during World War II. Previous studies of her handwriting have indicated that she learned to write in France or in another French-speaking country.

Narrowing down the woman’s origins to such a specific region could help find someone who knew her, or reports of missing women who matched her description. The case is still a long way from solved, but the search is now much narrower than it had been in the mystery's long history.

[h/t BBC]

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