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15 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

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Supercharge your next viewing of Edgar Wright’s comics-inspired film with these 15 little-known facts. 

1. Edgar Wright waited six years before agreeing to direct.

The eventual executive producers of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World first approached Wright to make the film in 2004 after a screening of Wright’s first film, Shaun of the Dead, by giving him a copy of the first volume of author Brian Lee O’Malley’s graphic novel. Wright would go on to make 2007’s Hot Fuzz before settling on adapting Scott Pilgrim (which was released in 2010). 

2. Brian Lee O’Malley named the character Scott Pilgrim after a song.

“Scott Pilgrim” is a 1998 song by Canadian band Plumtree. In the movie, Scott can be seen wearing one of their band t-shirts and their titular song appears on the soundtrack. 

3. O’Malley and his wife, cartoonist Hope Larson, make cameos.

You can spot them at Lee’s Palace after Sex Bob-Omb come offstage. 

4. Wright told the actors to not blink during takes.

He wanted to mimic the feel of Japanese anime.

5. The film is filled with hidden numerals tied to the sequential numbers of Ramona’s evil exes.

Matthew Patel has one chevron on his military jacket. Lucas Lee has the Tibetan symbol for “2” tattooed on his neck, wears a belt buckle made of two Xs, drives a car with the racing numeral 2, and also points at Scott with two fingers. Todd Ingram wears a t-shirt with the number 3 on the chest and with three stripes on the shoulders, and the trashcans in the alley where he fights Scott all have 3s on them. Scott fights Roxy in a nightclub called “4,” and Roxy also has four rips in her leggings. The Katayanagi Twins each have “5” and “6” stenciled on their cuffs and turn their volume up to the Japanese character for 11 (5+6=11, which is also a nod to the film Spinal Tap). Lastly, the logo for Gideon Graves’ G-Man Records is made of 7s turned on their sides. Scott meanwhile drinks Coke Zero and wears a T-shirt that says “Zero” on it because he isn’t an evil ex. 

6. Scott’s Pac-Man story is true.

Pac-Man was originally called “Puck-Man” because of his hockey-puck-shape, but the name was changed in American markets to avoid unwanted vandalism. 

7. Scott’s bass is a Rickenbacker 4003.

It costs $2,159 in US dollars or about $2,459 Canadian dollars.

8. Lucas Lee’s pompous final exchange with Scott happened to Edgar Wright in real life.

While backstage at a concert for the band The Hives, Wright told lead singer Pelle Almqvist he was a “big fan.” Almqvist responded, “Why wouldn’t you be?”

9. Ramona’s exact phone number is 212-664-7665.

This number often appears in films, including Munich, Definitely Maybe, and The Adjustment Bureau. It’s a real phone number that was acquired by Universal Studios to avoid the fake 555 prefix normally used for phone numbers in films. 

10. Real life bands wrote and performed the songs for the fictional bands in the movie.

Sex Bob-Omb’s songs were by Beck, Crash and the Boys’ songs were by Broken Social Scene, The Clash at Demonhead’s were by Metric, and The Katayanagi Twins’ songs were by Cornelius. Additional music, like the themes to the fictional video game Ninja Ninja Revolution, was written by hip-hop producer Dan the Automator.

11. The voice-overs in the film are all done by comedian Bill Hader.

Even the voice in Ninja Ninja Revolution.

12. All the animation in Ramona’s flashbacks was drawn by Edgar Wright’s brother Oscar.

He mimicked the style of Brian Lee O’Malley’s graphic novels. 

13. The film includes a nod to Quentin Tarantino.

Edgar Wright said he included a close-up shot of Ramona’s feet during her date with Scott as a tribute to his friend and fellow director, who notoriously has a foot fetish. Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who plays Ramona Flowers, previously appeared in Tarantino’s film Death Proof.

14. Michael Cera and Mae Whitman (Roxy Richter) were lovers before they were enemies.

On screen, that is. They previously appeared together (and dated) on Arrested Development before they battled each other in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

15. In the original ending, Scott stays with Knives Chau instead of going with Ramona.

Wright, co-screenwriter writer Michael Bacall, and O’Malley all rewrote the final scene together and agreed that Scott should end up with Ramona since he’s been fighting for her all along.

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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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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© Nintendo
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fun
Nintendo Will Release an $80 Mini SNES in September
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© Nintendo

Retro gamers rejoice: Nintendo just announced that it will be launching a revamped version of its beloved Super Nintendo Classic console, which will allow kids and grown-ups alike to play classic 16-bit games in high-definition.

The new SNES Classic Edition, a miniature version of the original console, comes with an HDMI cable to make it compatible with modern televisions. It also comes pre-loaded with a roster of 21 games, including Super Mario Kart, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Donkey Kong Country, and Star Fox 2, an unreleased sequel to the 1993 original.

“While many people from around the world consider the Super NES to be one of the greatest video game systems ever made, many of our younger fans never had a chance to play it,” Doug Bowser, Nintendo's senior vice president of sales and marketing, said in a statement. “With the Super NES Classic Edition, new fans will be introduced to some of the best Nintendo games of all time, while longtime fans can relive some of their favorite retro classics with family and friends.”

The SNES Classic Edition will go on sale on September 29 and retail for $79.99. Nintendo reportedly only plans to manufacture the console “until the end of calendar year 2017,” which means that the competition to get your hands on one will likely be stiff, as anyone who tried to purchase an NES Classic last year will well remember.

In November 2016, Nintendo released a miniature version of its original NES system, which sold out pretty much instantly. After selling 2.3 million units, Nintendo discontinued the NES Classic in April. In a statement to Polygon, the company has pledged to “produce significantly more units of Super NES Classic Edition than we did of NES Classic Edition.”

Nintendo has not yet released information about where gamers will be able to buy the new console, but you may want to start planning to get in line soon.

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