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Paramount Pictures

20 Fun Facts About Mean Girls

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Paramount Pictures

Netflix just announced that Mean Girls will be available for streaming on January 1, 2015. Here are 20 things you might not have contemplated about this already cult-status classic.

1. MEAN GIRLS WAS INSPIRED BY A SELF-HELP BOOK FOR PARENTS.

Tina Fey was inspired to write Mean Girls, her very first screenplay, after reading Rosalind Wiseman’s bestselling book Queen Bees & Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends & Other Realities of Adolescence. As the book’s title suggests, Wiseman offers advice and strategies to parents on how to help their daughters navigate the choppy waters of adolescence. Much of the book contains anecdotes culled from Wiseman’s time spent leading workshops in schools nationwide through Empower, a non-profit anti-violence program she cofounded.

“You may feel that it’s not worth making a federal case of not getting invited to a birthday party or letting your daughter blow off one friend for another,” Wiseman writes. “But these aren’t trivial issues; they lay the groundwork for girls faking their feelings, pretending to be someone they’re not, pleasing others at their own expense, or otherwise sacrificing self-esteem and authenticity.”

2. LINDSAY LOHAN’S CHARACTER IS NAMED AFTER TINA FEY’S COLLEGE ROOMMATE...

While studying drama at the University of Virginia in the early ’90s, Tina Fey and her college buddy Cady Garey shared what sounds like a rather squalid apartment in Charlottesville: “We really didn’t have any furniture,” Garey told U.Va’s alumni magazine. “ [We had] just mattresses on the floor and a bean bag in the living room.”

Still, It must have been a pretty great bonding experience; according to the magazine, Cady Garey is the namesake for Mean Girls’ main heroine, Cady Heron.

3. … AND (POSSIBLY) ELIZABETH CADY STANTON.

Wikimedia Commons

IMDb’s Mean Girls trivia page points out that “Cady” also keeps with the spelling of suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s maiden name, in a possible shout-out to female empowerment.

4. TINA FEY HAD TROUBLE WITH MS. NORBURY’S MATH-RELATED LINES.

Fey chose to play a math teacher in an attempt to counteract the stereotype that girls can’t do math, she told the New York Times back in 2004. However, she admitted that she did not understand any of the lines she was reciting. So how did she get the dialog? “My friend’s boyfriend is a calculus teacher in the Bronx,” Fey said. “I took his lesson plans.”

5. THERE’S A LITTLE BIT OF COURTNEY LOVE AND ALEC BALDWIN IN REGINA GEORGE.

“At the heart of Regina George was a really angry kid who had no boundaries or guidance,” Rachel McAdams says in the New York Times’ recent oral history of the film. To channel Regina’s fury, director Mark Waters encouraged McAdams “to listen to Courtney Love at a high volume” (we’re assuming McAdams means she listened to Love’s band Hole) as well as to watch Alec Baldwin’s notoriously menacing, expletive-laden scene in Glengarry Glen Ross.

6. “DAMIAN” INSTILLED SERIOUS COURAGE IN ACTOR DANIEL FRANZESE.

“When I was cast in the role of ‘Damian’ in Mean Girls, I was TERRIFIED to play this part,” Franzese wrote last month on the queer-culture blog Bent. However, in the next sentence, Franzese captures what was so refreshing about Damian: “This was a natural and true representation of a gay teenager—a character we laughed with instead of at.” Franzese says that years after Mean Girls, grown men—some of them in tears—approached him on the street to thank him for being a role model.

Though Franzese says his friends and family have known that he is gay, he decided a decade later to come out publicly. “Perhaps this will help someone else,” he writes at the letter’s conclusion. “I had to remind myself that my parents named me Daniel because it means ‘God is my judge.’ So, I’m not afraid anymore. Of Hollywood, the closet or mean girls. Thank you for that, Damian.”

7. THE DOWNSIDE OF DAMIAN: FRANZESE IS CONSTANTLY BOMBARDED WITH HIS MOST FAMOUS LINE.

Ever since Mean Girls, Franzese is often recognized. “It doesn’t matter where I am; you know it’s me. I don’t really blend,” he told Cosmopolitan. “And sometimes it’s nerve-wracking. I can be talking to someone in a bar and it’s chill, and then they’re like, ‘YOU GO GLEN COCO!’”

Glen Coco was, of course, a minor, if not virtually nonexistent, Mean Girls character. In fact, the back of Glen Coco’s head seems to appear in only the one scene (above) in which he does nothing more than receive four candy canes from an encouraging Damian. Glen Coco, however, has, awesomely and inexplicably, become a meme.

8. THE STRANGELY NOTORIOUS GLEN COCO WAS PLAYED BY A CANADIAN ACTOR NAMED DAVID REALE.

Last year, BuzzFeed’s Jessica Misener conducted an important investigation into Glen Coco and discovered that, though his role was uncredited in the film, his face is actually fully visible in the scene in which Gretchen reads her impassioned essay on Julius Caesar (he’s sitting directly in front of Lindsay Lohan). Misener did some further digging and discovered that Glen Coco was played by David Reale, a Canadian actor who has also appeared on Suits, the U.S. version of Skins, and on a couple episodes of Queer as Folk.

9. GLEN COCO SPEAKS (!!!).

via

After the Mean Girls anniversary hullabaloo simmered down, Dazed magazine found David Reale and interviewed him about his experience on set 10 years ago. Reale said he had auditioned for another part in the film, but didn’t get it. Still, the next day he wandered over to the set, which was right across the street from his apartment in Toronto, to see if he could score some free food. The director saw him, recognized him from his failed audition the day before, took pity on him, and gave him the tiny non-speaking part of Glen Coco.

“Tina Fey wrote the line, Daniel Franzese spoke the line … I just sat in a chair and tried not to stare at Lindsay Lohan,” Reale recalls. “But I guess it was the first time somebody pointed to me on the street and shouted, ‘YOU GO, GLEN COCO!’ that I knew I was involved in something with a beauty and power that surpassed the mere proliferation of four candy canes to an accidental movie extra.”

10. AMANDA SEYFRIED ALMOST PLAYED AN ETHEREAL YET FRIGHTENING REGINA GEORGE.

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Last year, right after playing challenging roles in Les Miserables and Lovelace, Amanda Seyfried told IndieWire that she still looked back at her role as Mean Girls’ rather, um, simple Karen Smith as her best work. “I was so innocent. I was so green,“ she says. “I look back and I’m like, ‘Really, I thought I was doing a terrible job.’ But it was written so well and so wonderfully directed. Mark Waters (the director) made me look good; he made me funny. And Tina Fey wrote the coolest script of all time.”

Seyfried almost played the role of Regina George, director Waters told Vulture. "She tested for Regina and was kind of brilliant, and very different than Rachel's approach,” Waters says. “She played it in a much more ethereal but still kind of scary way. She was more frightening, but oddly, less intimidating."

11. THERE'S A REAL JANIS IAN.

She was the first musical guest on SNL. Ian won a Grammy for her song “At Seventeen,” which is all about Mean Girls’ main theme: the insecurities that go along with being a teenager.

In 2008, she told TIME that she bonded with her friend Janis Joplin over similar feelings. “I loved her. I think we fell in together because we had things in common. We both felt fat. We both had bad skin. We both felt like nothing we wore looked right. We were both outsiders, and she was very protective of me in a really nice way.”

12. LACEY CHABERT HEARS "FETCH" AT LEAST A HUNDRED TIMES A DAY

Perhaps even more iconic than “You Go, Glen Coco!” in the world of Mean Girls is, of course, anything related to “fetch,” as in “That’s so fetch!” (Gretchen Wieners) and “Stop trying to make fetch happen” (Regina George). The whole “fetch” thing is so enduring that even the White House made a fetch-inspired joke involving Bo the First Dog on Twitter this past summer.

The Prez and Co. are not the only ones still cracking fetch jokes. “People tweet at me every day hundreds of times, if not thousands of times [with] lines from the movie: ‘That’s so fetch!’,” Lacey Chabert, who played Toaster Strudel heiress Gretchen Wieners, told Entertainment Weekly. In fact, “fetch” has even followed Chabert offline, to the unlikeliest of places. “I was at the pharmacy and I was sick and trying to get medicine, and the pharmacist just looked at me and goes, ‘You don’t look like you feel very fetch today.’”

13. IT’S APPARENTLY FUN TO TWEET “YOU GO, GLEN COCO!”

Twitter crunched some numbers and “You Go, Glen Coco!” is in the lead for the most-referenced Mean Girls lines since 2010. Glen Coco is followed by “So fetch,” “It’s October 3rd,” and “On Wednesdays we wear pink.”

14. AARON SAMUELS (A.K.A. JONATHAN BENNETT) STILL LOOKS SEXY WITH HIS HAIR PUSHED BACK...

MovieClips, YouTube

While teaching spinning classes at FlyWheel Sports in Los Angeles.

15. ...THOUGH HE MIGHT BE TIRED OF HEARING IT.

Bennett’s Twitter tagline reads, “I get it … my hair looks sexy pushed back.”

16. AMY POEHLER SCHOOLED KEVIN G. ON HOW TO RAP.

Though Tina Fey wrote the Mean Girls script, she left the penning of mathlete Kevin Gnapoor’s talent-show rap to her pal Amy Poehler. “Amy definitely coached him on how to do the rap, and she actually gave him some of the moves and choreography for it,” Waters told Vulture. In fact, an amazing YouTube video (above) exists of Poehler performing the rap circa 2004, with Fey and Lohan as her hype women.

17. KEVIN G. (A.K.A RAJIV SURENDRA) IS NOW A PROFESSIONAL CALLIGRAPHER

He creates beautiful chalk walls, logos and invitations. His Twitter profile reads, “Don’t let the haters stop you from doin’ your thang.”

18. ROSALIND WISEMAN THINKS TINA FEY MOSTLY GOT HER BOOK RIGHT.

Wikimedia Commons

Except in her workshops, Wiseman doesn’t do trust falls. “I do not do trust falls, I have never done trust falls, I will never do trust falls,” Wiseman tells The Wire.

Still, she wouldn’t change anything. “Both Tina and I seem to be trying to carve out space of how to give women [a] voice in public,” Wiseman says. “So it’s pretty cool to have a collaboration between two people who say, 'Yeah, let’s work together to do this, because you’re smart, you’re funny, I think you’re going to do a good job, let’s try.'"

19. SADLY, THERE WILL BE NO MEAN GIRLS SEQUEL.

Though Lohan hinted to Jimmy Fallon on the Tonight Show that there might be a Mean Girls part deux, Fey told Access Hollywood that it’s not happening. “At most, it would be a panel discussion with a plate of hot wings,” Fey said of any future plans for the Mean Girls film franchise. [Editor's Note: We completely forgot about this, which aired on ABC Family in 2011.]

20. BUT THERE WILL BE A BROADWAY MUSICAL.

Fey, her husband Jeff Richmond, and Tony award-nominated lyricist Nell Benjamin are currently working on a Broadway version of Mean Girls, according to an article in Playbill last summer. (The play will take at least a couple of years to write, according to Richmond in an earlier interview with Vulture.)

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technology
Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
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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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Health
One Bite From This Tick Can Make You Allergic to Meat
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We like to believe that there’s no such thing as a bad organism, that every creature must have its place in the world. But ticks are really making that difficult. As if Lyme disease wasn't bad enough, scientists say some ticks carry a pathogen that causes a sudden and dangerous allergy to meat. Yes, meat.

The Lone Star tick (Amblyomma americanum) mostly looks like your average tick, with a tiny head and a big fat behind, except the adult female has a Texas-shaped spot on its back—thus the name.

Unlike other American ticks, the Lone Star feeds on humans at every stage of its life cycle. Even the larvae want our blood. You can’t get Lyme disease from the Lone Star tick, but you can get something even more mysterious: the inability to safely consume a bacon cheeseburger.

"The weird thing about [this reaction] is it can occur within three to 10 or 12 hours, so patients have no idea what prompted their allergic reactions," allergist Ronald Saff, of the Florida State University College of Medicine, told Business Insider.

What prompted them was STARI, or southern tick-associated rash illness. People with STARI may develop a circular rash like the one commonly seen in Lyme disease. They may feel achy, fatigued, and fevered. And their next meal could make them very, very sick.

Saff now sees at least one patient per week with STARI and a sensitivity to galactose-alpha-1, 3-galactose—more commonly known as alpha-gal—a sugar molecule found in mammal tissue like pork, beef, and lamb. Several hours after eating, patients’ immune systems overreact to alpha-gal, with symptoms ranging from an itchy rash to throat swelling.

Even worse, the more times a person is bitten, the more likely it becomes that they will develop this dangerous allergy.

The tick’s range currently covers the southern, eastern, and south-central U.S., but even that is changing. "We expect with warming temperatures, the tick is going to slowly make its way northward and westward and cause more problems than they're already causing," Saff said. We've already seen that occur with the deer ticks that cause Lyme disease, and 2017 is projected to be an especially bad year.

There’s so much we don’t understand about alpha-gal sensitivity. Scientists don’t know why it happens, how to treat it, or if it's permanent. All they can do is advise us to be vigilant and follow basic tick-avoidance practices.

[h/t Business Insider]

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