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19 Stars Who Appeared On 21 Jump Street

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Total Film

As Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill reprise their roles as undercover narcotics officers Jenko and Schmidt, audiences are hopeful that 22 Jump Street will be as cameo-filled as its big-screen predecessor. But the cheesy late-1980s television series that inspired it all was no slouch in the cameo department, either; the only difference being that some of their guest “stars” appeared on the show before they were stars at all. Here are 19 of them.


Season 2, Episode 20

Just a year after earning his first official screen credit on Another World, Brad Pitt put his pretty boy looks to good use in the second season of 21 Jump Street, in which he has a brief exchange with the show’s breakout star, Johnny Depp. Pitt must have made an impact. While promoting The Tourist in 2010, Angelina Jolie commented that she had never met Depp before production on the film began, but noted that “Brad and Johnny had worked together years ago so he said, ‘He's a nice guy. You're going to like him.’”


Season 1, Episode 5

Josh Brolin wasn’t exactly a newcomer when he played the unfortunately named Taylor Rolator in the first season of 21 Jump Street—he’d made his acting debut with Goonies and also starred in Thrashin’—but he was hardly a household name. Which allowed him to play the preppy slimeball to perfection.


Season 2, Episode 15

Christina Applegate was already playing Kelly Bundy when she landed a guest spot on 21 Jump Street in 1988, hence the hair. (Look for her at about the 9:03 mark.)


Season 5, Episode 21

Six years before she added the “Smith,” Jada Pinkett played a girl gangster with a heart in the series’ penultimate episode.


Season 4, Episode 9

Vince Vaughn is barely recognizable as a high schooler dealing with the murder of one of his teachers. That’s him in the burgundy mock-neck at 4:58. Grieving alongside him is Robyn Lively, just a few months after she made pop culture history as Louise Miller in Teen Witch.

The official star of this Vaughn-Lively episode is Donovan Leitch, but the real star is the gigantic box of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cereal he can be seen chowing down on in the episode’s opening sequence.


Season 3, Episode 17

Her last name may have been famous, but Bridget Fonda was not yet a star when she nabbed the role of Molly “Moho” Chapman, a homeless hustler, in the series’ third season.


Season 4, Episode 3

Thomas Haden Church has made a career—and earned an Oscar nomination—for playing likable (if not always bright) guys like Lowell Mather on Wings and Jack Cole in Sideways. But one of his earliest parts, and his first appearance on a television series, came in a 1989 episode of 21 Jump Street, as the trusty assistant to a drug dealer (catch him—and his unfortunate long hair—2:06 minutes in).


Season 1, Episode 12 // Season 2, Episode 4

The man who would be Brandon Walsh must have dug the vibe on Jump Street—and vice versa—as he made two appearances, as two different characters, in the first two seasons. The latter appearance featured a 1987-approved mullet (see it for yourself at the 4:27 mark).


Season 4, Episode 12

Not to be outdone by her fictional twin brother, Shannen Doherty also did the 21 Jump Street thing, though not until the show’s fourth season. And yet again, she’s playing an annoying sister (in this case, to Keith Coogan, a familiar character actor with more than 70 credits on his filmography).


Season 2, Episode 17

Before he stepped behind the camera to write, direct, and produce projects like Friday Night Lights, Battleship, and The Leftovers, Peter Berg made his living as an actor—a career that began as a smartass teen with a penchant for varsity jackets in 21 Jump Street’s second season.


Season 1, Episode 6

Blair Underwood is typically known for playing good guys. But that wasn’t the case in this 1987 episode, “Gotta Finish the Riff,” from the series’ first season. The episode premiered just a few months before Underwood joined the cast of L.A. Law as Jonathan Rollins, a fresh-faced Harvard grad who held the distinction of being the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review. While rumors have long swirled that Rollins was based on Barack Obama, who really was its first black president, that simply is a rumor. Obama wasn’t even a Harvard Law student until 1988, a year after Underwood joined the cast (though he did meet Obama a few years later, when some of the show’s cast and producers met with a group of Harvard law students).


Season 4, Episode 16

A year after dancing her way through the credits of Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing, Rosie Perez made her television debut playing Rosie Martinez in just her second credited role.


Season 2, Episode 4

Pauly Shore had not yet adopted his “Hey Buddddyyy!” catchphrase when he made his acting debut in 21 Jump Street’s second season (in the same episode as Jason Priestley’s latter appearance). And that’s a good thing.


Season 1, Episode 8

Sherilyn Fenn’s single-episode appearance in 21 Jump Street’s first season shouldn’t really be surprising, since she was engaged to Johnny Depp. The two began dating after meeting on the set of a student film, Dummies, in 1985. But a walk down the aisle wasn’t in the cards; they split up after three and a half years.


Season 3, Episode 11

In the decade before Larenz Tate landed his breakthrough role in Menace II Society, he kicked around with bit parts on a number of sitcoms, including a throwback third season episode of 21 Jump Street in which he plays a younger (and much geekier) version of Captain Fuller.


Season 3, Episode 3

Though she’ll always be best known as Dr. Frasier Crane’s producer/sidekick extraordinaire Roz Doyle, Peri Gilpin’s first real acting job was as the simply named Fitzgerald in 21 Jump Street’s third season.


Season 2, Episode 18

For nearly 25 years, Dann Florek has played the same character—Captain Donald Cragen—on Law & Order and Law & Order: SVU. But he cut his policing teeth on earlier crime procedurals like Hill Street Blues, Hunter, Matlock, and “Brother Hanson & the Miracle of Renner’s Pond,” a 1988 episode of 21 Jump Street.

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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
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:


Opening Ceremony

To this:


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]