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15 Fun Facts About Hot Fuzz

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Even if you’re a huge fan of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost’s work with director Edgar Wright, you may not know these fun nuggets about their amazing buddy-cop comedy, which hit American cinemas 10 years ago today.

1. ICE CREAM INSPIRED THE FILM.

Hot Fuzz is the second chapter in the so-called “Cornetto Trilogy,” directed by Edgar Wright and named after the popular ice cream cone snack. The trilogy also features the director’s films Shaun of the Dead and The World’s End. Whereas Shaun of the Dead represents the red strawberry flavored Cornetto and The World’s End is the green mint flavor, Hot Fuzz is the blue original flavor.

2. SIMON PEGG’S CHARACTER BORROWED HIS NAME FROM A CREW MEMBER.

Pegg’s character, Nicholas Angel, was named after the film’s music supervisor Nick Angel, who also worked on Shaun of the Dead and The World’s End.

3. KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN FOR UNCREDITED CAMEOS.

There are plenty to spot. The Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson appears as a deranged Santa Claus who stabs Nicholas Angel in the opening montage. Cate Blanchett plays Angel’s jilted ex-girlfriend Janine. Attack the Block director Joe Cornish plays her new boyfriend, Bob. Martin Freeman, Steve Coogan, and Bill Nighy (who also appeared in Shaun of the Dead) play the police inspectors who transfer Angel out of London, and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy director Garth Jennings plays a crack addict Angel busts in the opening montage.

4. EDGAR WRIGHT WENT HOME TO SHOOT HOT FUZZ.

The film was shot in his hometown of Wells in Somerset.

5. SOMETHING IS MISSING FROM THE FILM’S VERSION OF WELLS.

The Wells Cathedral—a 500-year-old medieval church at the center of the city—had to be digitally erased from shots because Wright wanted Sandford to technically be a village (an English settlement without a cathedral) and not a city (an English settlement based around a cathedral).

6. WRIGHT WAS VERY FAMILIAR WITH THE FILM’S SUPERMARKET.

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As a teenager, Wright worked at the actual Somerfield that appears in the movie, and Wright’s real-life boss at the supermarket inspired the character of Simon Skinner.

7. WRIGHT AND PEGG PUT THEIR MOMS TO WORK.

Wright’s and Pegg’s mothers and Wright’s high school drama teacher play the befuddled judges for the village-of-the-year contest at the end of the film.

8. A GREAT PROP FROM SHAUN OF THE DEAD MAKES A CAMEO OF ITS OWN.

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The cricket bat from Shaun of the Dead is hidden in the background of the scene where Edward Woodward’s character is introduced to Nicholas Angel while doing surveillance of Sandfordon a series of CCTV monitors.

9. THERE’S ONE OTHER SUBTLE SHAUN CAMEO.

When Danny tosses a DVD copy of Supercop into a bin in the supermarket, a DVD copy of Shaun of the Dead can be seen next to it, but the cover uses the film’s Spanish and Portuguese title: Zombies Party.

10. THE DVD COLLECTION IN THE FILM HAD A BACK STORY.

Danny Butterman’s massive DVD collection—including his prized copies of Point Break and Bad Boys II—is actually the DVD collections of Edgar Wright, his brother Oscar Wright, and fellow director Joe Cornish combined.

11. THOSE DVD CLIPS TOOK SOME WORK.

Every clip of Point Break and Bad Boys II used in Hot Fuzz had to be cleared by stars Keanu Reeves, Patrick Swayze, Martin Lawrence, and Will Smith … as well as their stunt doubles.

12. YOU CAN REALLY VISIT THE CROWN PUB.

The scenes were shot in the Royal Standard in Beaconsfield.

13. THERE’S A TRICK FOR TELLING THE TWINS APART.

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The way to distinguish between the twin characters played by actor Bill Bailey involves looking at the books they read. One brother reads books by writer Iain Banks, while the other reads books by Banks’ very similar sci-fi nom de plume, Iain M. Banks.

14. DANNY’S BLOODY FLIPBOOK ILLUSTRATIONS HAVE A PEDIGREE.

They were drawn by Edgar Wright’s brother, Oscar, a comic book artist.

15. WRIGHT FOUND A SPOT FOR HIS FAVORITE BAND.

The music that plays over all of the paperwork processing scenes—which Wright humorously had edited together to seem like action scenes—is a song called “Here Come the Fuzz” by the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Wright’s favorite band.

This article 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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Nick Briggs/Comic Relief
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What Happened to Jamie and Aurelia From Love Actually?
May 26, 2017
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Nick Briggs/Comic Relief

Fans of the romantic-comedy Love Actually recently got a bonus reunion in the form of Red Nose Day Actually, a short charity special that gave audiences a peek at where their favorite characters ended up almost 15 years later.

One of the most improbable pairings from the original film was between Jamie (Colin Firth) and Aurelia (Lúcia Moniz), who fell in love despite almost no shared vocabulary. Jamie is English, and Aurelia is Portuguese, and they know just enough of each other’s native tongues for Jamie to propose and Aurelia to accept.

A decade and a half on, they have both improved their knowledge of each other’s languages—if not perfectly, in Jamie’s case. But apparently, their love is much stronger than his grasp on Portuguese grammar, because they’ve got three bilingual kids and another on the way. (And still enjoy having important romantic moments in the car.)

In 2015, Love Actually script editor Emma Freud revealed via Twitter what happened between Karen and Harry (Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman, who passed away last year). Most of the other couples get happy endings in the short—even if Hugh Grant's character hasn't gotten any better at dancing.

[h/t TV Guide]

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