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Columbia Pictures Television

25 Future Stars Who Appeared on Seinfeld

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Columbia Pictures Television

Originally titled The Seinfeld Chronicles, the sitcom went from inauspicious origins to become one of the most iconic shows of all time, turning its stars into household names. But Jerry Seinfeld, Jason Alexander, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Michael Richards weren’t the only actors to get their break on the show about nothing. These now-familiar faces appeared in bit parts on the series before making it big.

1. Peter Krause - Tim in "The Limo" (February 26, 1992)

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On Seinfeld: Before he was spotted driving a hearse on Six Feet Under, Peter Krause played a white supremacist who winds up riding in a limo with Jerry and the gang.

Since Seinfeld: He’s gone on to become a bonafide leading man, most recently on Parenthood.

2. Jeremy Piven - Michael Barth in “The Pilot” (May 20, 1993) 

On Seinfeld: In one of the series’ more meta moments, Piven plays an actor who auditions for the part of George in “The Pilot.”

Since Seinfeld: Piven has had a long career in TV and film since Seinfeld, but his name is now synonymous with irate super agent Ari Gold from HBO’s Entourage.

3. Lauren Graham - Valerie in “The Millennium” (May 1, 1997)

On Seinfeld: She plays Jerry’s speed-dial ranking girlfriend.

Since Seinfeld: A few years after getting dumped by Jerry, Graham landed her most famous role as Lorelai Gilmore on the much-loved Gilmore Girls. She's currently on Parenthood, where she plays Peter Krause's sister.

4. Patton Oswalt - Video store clerk in “The Couch” (October 27, 1994)

On Seinfeld: A fellow stalwart of the mid-nineties stand-up circuit, Patton Oswalt made his first-ever TV appearance as a video store clerk on this episode of Seinfeld.

Since Seinfeld: Oswalt’s career now spans TV, movies, stand-up specials, books, and even video games.

5. Brad Garrett - Tony in “The Bottle Deposit” (May 2, 1996)

On Seinfeld: Garrett had a successful stand-up career and had even performed on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson before his Seinfeld debut, where he played Tony, the mechanic who was deeply dedicated to his craft.

Since Seinfeld: Garrett has lent his dulcet tones to animated hits like Tangled and Finding Nemo, but he’s perhaps most recognized for his role on Everybody Loves Raymond.

6. Michael Chiklis - Steve in “The Stranded” (November 27, 1991)

On Seinfeld: In the early '90s Chiklis was a serial guest-star of shows including Miami Vice, L.A. Law and of course Seinfeld, where he played a friend who lives way out on Long Island.

Since Seinfeld: The same year as his Seinfeld appearance, Chiklis landed his first big role in The Commish, which ran until 1996 on NBC. Since then he’s found fame and critical acclaim on The Shield and starred in blockbusters like Fantastic Four.

7. Jane Leeves - Marla in “The Virgin” (November 11, 1992)

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On Seinfeld: Pre-Frasier Jane Leeves played the titular virgin in "The Virgin" who eventually leaves Jerry for John F. Kennedy, Jr.

Since Seinfeld: Leeves clearly impressed the NBC brass — she was cast as Daphne on Fraiser just months after “The Virgin” first aired.

8. Jon Favreau - Eric the Clown in “The Fire” (May 5, 1994)

On Seinfeld: Favreau played Eric the Clown, the entertainer at a kids' party that was interrupted by a fire — and George's subsequent cowardly escape.

Since Seinfeld: Favreau turned his own struggles into the surprise hit Swingers, a breakout moment that led to a successful career as an actor, writer, and director.

9. Debra Messing - Beth in “The Yada Yada” (April 24, 1997)

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On Seinfeld: Messing played Jerry’s date in two episodes of Seinfeld, including classic “The Yada Yada,” where she’s revealed to be a closet racist.

Since Seinfeld: Just a few months after her final outing on Seinfeld, messing would go on to become one of the stars of her own groundbreaking sitcom, Will & Grace.

10. Christine Taylor - Ellen in “The Van Buren Boys” (February 6, 1997)

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On Seinfeld: Taylor made an early appearance on Seinfeld as one of Jerry's many flames.

Since Seinfeld: She’s starred in hits including Zoolander and Dodgeball. In 2000, she married Ben Stiller, whose dad Jerry starred on Seinfeld as George’s father, Frank Costanza.

11. Courteney Cox - Meryl in “The Wife” (March 17, 1994)

On Seinfeld: Courteney Cox played Meryl, a girlfriend who masquerades as Jerry's wife in order to share his dry cleaning discount.

Since Seinfeld: Cox will always be known for playing Monica during Friends’ decade-long stint next to Seinfeld on Thursday nights.

12. Teri Hatcher - Sidra in “The Implant” (February 25, 1993)

On Seinfeld: The same year that she got her big break opposite Dean Cain in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Teri Hatcher appeared as Jerry's girlfriend Sidra, who Elaine thought had fake breasts. Her oft-quoted retort, “They’re real and they’re spectacular,” told Jerry all he needed to know after it was too late.

Since Seinfeld: Alongside her aforementioned turn as Lois Lane, Hatcher starred as a Bond girl in 1997’s Tomorrow Never Dies before returning to the small screen on ABC’s Desperate Housewives.

13. Marcia Cross - Dr. Sara Sitarides in “The Slicer” (November 13, 1997)

On Seinfeld: Marcia played a life-saving dermatologist who Jerry dismissed as "Pimple Popper M.D."

Since Seinfeld: Cross appeared on shows like Boy Meets World, Ally McBeal, and Spin City before getting her big break on Desperate Housewives.

14. Drake Bell - Kid in “The Frogger” (August 23, 1998)

On Seinfeld: Bell featured in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment from this season nine episode.

Since Seinfeld: A Nickelodeon star turned musician, Bell has come a long way since his Frogger skills (or lack thereof) landed him in George Costanza’s bad books.

15. Jennifer Coolidge - Jodi in “The Masseuse” (November 18, 1993)

On Seinfeld: Another notch on Seinfeld’s bedpost, Coolidge made one of her first TV appearances as the masseuse from this 1993 episode.

Since Seinfeld: Coolidge went on to forge a successful career on the silver screen where she’s perhaps best remembered as Stifler’s mom from the American Pie movies. She’s also still a regular on the sitcom circuit where she has a recurring role on CBS’s 2 Broke Girls.

16. Sarah Silverman - Emily in “The Money” (January 16, 1997)

On Seinfeld: Sarah Silverman popped up as Kramer’s girlfriend Emily whose “Jimmy legs” keep the K-Man up at night, eventually forcing the couple into separate beds.

Since Seinfeld: The sharp-tongued stand-up star has appeared in her own show, released an autobiography, and recently completed the circle by joining Jerry Seinfeld as a guest on his online series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.

17. Denise Richards - Molly Dalrymple in “The Shoes” (February 4, 1993)

On Seinfeld: Playing the daughter of NBC’s head of programming, Richards’ low-cut top almost costs George and Jerry their sitcom in Seinfeld’s meta show-within-a-show fourth season.

Since Seinfeld: She continued to distract the Costanzas of the world in films like Starship Troopers, The World is Not Enough, and Wild Things.

18. Kristin Davis - Jenna in “The Pothole” (February 20, 1997)

On Seinfeld: After unknowingly using a toothbrush that had fallen into the toilet, Davis’ character becomes another in an increasingly long line of Jerry’s ex-girlfriends.

Since Seinfeld: By the time she’d appeared on Seinfeld, Davis was already a familiar face to many armchair dwellers after a starring turn on teen drama Melrose Place. But it wasn’t until a year later that she’d truly hit the big time with her critically acclaimed performance as Sex and the City’s resident prude, Charlotte.

19. Rob Schneider - Bob Grossberg in “The Friar's Club” (March 7, 1996)

On Seinfeld: Rob Schneider had actually opened for Jerry Seinfeld on the stand-up circuit before he appeared on the sitcom as Elaine’s partially deaf colleague in this season 7 episode.

Since Seinfeld: The former SNL cast member has gone on to star in comedies like Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo and Grown-Ups.

20. Amanda Peet - Lanette in "The Summer of George" (May 15, 1997)

On Seinfeld: Peet played Lanette, Jerry's date to the Tonys whose male roommate catches Jerry totally off-guard.

Since Seinfeld: Peet's resumé since Seinfeld includes starring roles in Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and The Whole Nine Yards.

21. Chris Parnell - NBC Executive in "The Butter Shave" (September 25, 1997)

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On Seinfeld: After purposely sabotaging his own set, Seinfeld is dismayed to find out that two NBC executives (one played by Parnell) were in attendance and offer Jerry's hack nemesis Kenny Bania a pilot.

Since Seinfeld: Parnell later joined the cast of Saturday Night Live and played the hapless Dr. Spaceman on 30 Rock (pictured).

22. James Spader - Jason 'Stanky' Hanky in "The Apology" (December 11, 1997)

On Seinfeld: This one's definitely pushing it—Spader had already been in several notable films before he appeared on Seinfeld—but it was a great performance. He played a recovering alcoholic who, during Step Nine of Alcoholics Anonymous' Twelve Steps, apologizes to everyone he has ever wronged—except George.

Since Seinfeld: Spader has been a mainstay in indie films and has won three Emmys for his TV work. His most recent gig has him starring as Raymond "Red" Reddington in NBC's The Blacklist.

23. Anna Gunn - Amy in “The Glasses” (September 30, 1993)

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On Seinfeld: George’s poor squinting ability leads to him mistakenly identifying Gunn's Amy as a cheating girlfriend of Jerry's.

Since Seinfeld: Anna Gunn made her name as an Emmy award-winning star of AMC’s Breaking Bad.

24. Bob Odenkirk - Ben in “The Abstinence” (November 21, 1996)

On Seinfeld: Elaine's almost-doctor boyfriend, Ben, who went to medical school but had not yet passed the licensing exam.

Since Seinfeld: Odenkirk would eventually join Gunn on Breaking Bad, and is currently filming the spinoff Better Call Saul. Before Seinfeld, he was a writer for SNL, and he was starring in Mr. Show when this episode first aired.

25. Bryan Cranston - Tim Whatley in “The Mom and Pop Store” (November 17, 1994)

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On Seinfeld: Cranston famously had a recurring role as Jerry’s dentist, the original re-gifter who converted to Judaism for the jokes. It seems that even then he was destined for great things. Seinfeld has said that he knew the actor would become a star the second he walked on set.

Since Seinfeld: He’s had a successful and varied career in both film and TV, but Cranston will always be remembered for his Emmy-winning turn as Walter White in Breaking Bad.

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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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