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Sam Urdank for Netflix

11 Great Moments of Foreshadowing in Arrested Development

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Sam Urdank for Netflix

Since first airing on Fox in 2003, Arrested Development has established itself as a paragon of depth in television comedy. Fans of the show have spent years digging out jokes buried in the background, beneath the narration, within the soundtrack, and everywhere in between.

Since its triumphant return to Netflix in 2013, viewers have been wondering if and when the series would come back for another go-around. Earlier this week, executive producer Brian Grazer confirmed to The Wrap that season five is happening. To celebrate, here's a look at several great examples of foreshadowing hidden within the Bluth family's exploits.

1. Hold on, Surely Fünke!

S1E14 – Two episodes before we are first introduced to Maeby’s sickly alter ego, “Surely,” posters wishing her a speedy recovery are visible on the walls of the high school. Surely, despite suffering from “BS,” reoccurs throughout the rest of the show’s original run.

2. Buster Losing His Hand

This one is well documented around the Internet, but the sheer amount that the show foreshadows Buster’s life-changing encounter with a certain yellow-bowtie-wearing seal is impressive.

S1E20 – Buster says, "This party is going to be off the hook!"

S2E01 – A news broadcast can be heard in the background mentioning a seal attack. John Beard says, “Meet one surprised bather, coming up.” The camera immediately shows Buster.

S2E03 – Buster, upon seeing his lost hand-shaped chair, says, “Wow, I never thought I’d miss a hand so much.”

S2E06 – There is a portion bitten out of the banana stand sign as it is pulled out of the bay; the bite pattern is consistent with a seal. Buster wins a toy seal from the claw machine. When he returns home, the narrator mentions that, “Buster had gotten hooked playing”.

S2E11 – A seal can be seen in the background during Buster and Lucille’s beach photo shoot. Later, George Sr. says, “What if I never get a chance to reach out and touch that hand of his again?”

As Buster sits on a bench near the beach, his position crops the words on the back of the bench to say, “ARM OFF.”

S2E12 – When George Sr. visits the car dealership, an inflatable man in the background is missing the arm that Buster will soon lose. Also, Gob, while releasing the infamous seal into the wild, says, “You’re not going to be hand-fed anymore!"

Buster deals with the loss of his hand for the rest of the show, even after being given a much larger one. It must be difficult becoming a monster.

3. Bluth Homes in Iraq

Even in its first season, Arrested Development chose to reward devout fans with callbacks and hints at overarching plotlines. Some prime examples are the subtle nods to the true nature of George Sr.’s trips overseas: illegally building homes in Iraq.

S1E05 – George Sr. admits that he has “committed some light treason.”

S1E14 – Michael notices that pictures of one of Saddam Hussein’s mansions look strikingly similar to their model home.

S1E16 – George Sr.’s precious “cooler of evidence” is labeled “H. MADDAZ,” which is “SADDAM H.” spelled in mirror-reverse.

S01E22 – Kitty mentions that the family has been building houses overseas and hiding it from the U.S. government. Michael, thinking she’s merely referring to tax evasion, dismisses the statement. Later in the episode, the truth comes to light after Michael sees a news report laying it all out for him.

The family building homes and frequently doing business in Iraq carries as a reoccurring theme for the rest of the show’s original three seasons.

4. Dr. Blumen

S2E01 – This one is quick but definitely one of my favorites. In the season two opener, Michael, on his way to Phoenix, makes a call to the family pretending to be a “Dr. Blumen.” Later in the episode, this happens for the first time.

5. Gob’s a Dad

S3E01 – Gob receives a letter from an organization attempting to reunite him with his son. After some confusion (including the narrator disagreeing with Gob’s statement that he doesn’t have a son), Gob finally realizes that he is the father of none other than Maeby’s longtime crush, Steve Holt(!). This comes as a big surprise to Gob, but the show has been hinting at this twist since season one.

In the 19th episode of season one, Gob accidentally mutters that he might be a father, a fact that he references again in the fifth episode of season two. The foreshadowing really kicks up later on in season two during George Michael’s election campaign against Steve; Gob reveals that he got a girl pregnant during high school and notes that Steve looks like a girl he dated. Michael also tells Gob that Steve is “basically a young you.” During the post-episode teaser, an investigator shows Steve a photo of his father (Gob), but the fact is dropped until the season three premiere in which Gob’s “huge tiny mistake” is finally revealed.

6. Buster’s Coma Girl

S3E04 – During season three, Buster puts himself into what doctors call a “light-to-no coma” in order to avoid testifying against his family. Soon, his nurse Julia Adelaide (played by Bronwen Masters) becomes infatuated with him. This romance is foreshadowed by a short scene from A Thoroughly Polite Dustup, a fictional 1941 British war film. Masters and Tony Hale, who sports a hilarious fake chin, mustache, and bandaged left hand (the one Buster lost), play the nurse and soldier in A Thoroughly Polite Dustup.

Eight episodes later, Buster and Nurse Adelaide reenact a portion of the scene (almost word-for-word) just after Buster drops his coma charade.

7. Annyong’s Revenge

S3E13 – Lucille and George’s adopted Korean son, Annyong, starts off as what appears to be a pretty one-dimensional and purposefully annoying (get it?) character, but expands greatly during the final episode of season three when his revenge plot is finally revealed. This moment was foreshadowed way back in season two when his real name “Hello” is spray-painted on the side of the Bluth's destroyed frozen banana stand during episode six. His plot is also briefly noted in the fifth episode of season three, when he is shown hiding inside Lucille's home in order to steal Bluth family secrets. The narrator describes him as a “mole,” a fact that is also foreshadowed by the mole on his shirt two episodes earlier.

8. Michael’s “Flight of the Phoenix”

When Arrested Development returned via Netflix in 2013, its knack for nuanced storytelling became all the more complicated with the new season's unorthodox time frame. Pretty much every major plot point is foreshadowed in some small way—but one event pays off on a joke that’s been running since the very first episode.

S4E01 – Season four starts off with Michael finally, albeit briefly, moving to Phoenix, a town that the narrator describes as a place “he'd always imagined would be his destiny.” We should have seen this coming, as Michael threatens to leave the family to live in Phoenix during the first episode of both seasons one and two. Another allusion to Michael’s love for Phoenix is the fact that he attends The University of Phoenix online throughout season four.

9. "A Hot Mess"

S4E10 – During this episode, Lucille and Buster discover a phrase that both find very useful in their arguments, and it becomes a running joke between the two: "A hot mess." They’re a little behind the times, though. Michael uses the phrase to describe Lucille 2 in the first episode of the season and Oscar yells it to Dr. Norman in the second.

10. Fakeblock

S4E01 – The computer program that George Michael develops throughout season four isn’t what it appears to be. Scenes falsely hinting that it is privacy software are spread in the first episode. But when George Michael is introduced earlier in the episode, the sound of a woodblock, foreshadowing what he’s really working on, underscores his name.

11. Lucille Gets “Noodle Stabbed”

S4E10 – An incarcerated Lucille gets attacked by her Asian gang mate, armed with a sharpened noodle. But this wasn’t the first time that the Bluth matriarch had ended up on the “wrong side of a noodle.” George Sr. apologized for a much different kind of noodle stabbing in episode two, foreshadowing both Lucille’s run-in with the Jade Dragon Triad and George Sr.’s evaporating masculinity with a single line of dialogue.

With more Arrested Development in, um, development, there is sure to be more crazy storytelling and foreshadowing to come. (Thanks to Recurring Developments and The Arrested Development Wiki for assistance with episode numbers.)

Images courtesy of Fox & Netflix. A version of this post originally appeared in 2014.

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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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Opening Ceremony
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These $425 Jeans Can Turn Into Jorts
May 19, 2017
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Opening Ceremony

Modular clothing used to consist of something simple, like a reversible jacket. Today, it’s a $425 pair of detachable jeans.

Apparel retailer Opening Ceremony recently debuted a pair of “2 in 1 Y/Project” trousers that look fairly peculiar. The legs are held to the crotch by a pair of loops, creating a disjointed C-3PO effect. Undo the loops and you can now remove the legs entirely, leaving a pair of jean shorts in their wake. The result goes from this:

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Opening Ceremony

To this:

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Opening Ceremony

The company also offers a slightly different cut with button tabs in black for $460. If these aren’t audacious enough for you, the Y/Project line includes jumpsuits with removable legs and garter-equipped jeans.

[h/t Mashable]

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