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8 Slang Terms from The Breakfast Club, Decoded

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The events in The Breakfast Club took place on March 24, 1984—33 years ago today. While it’s easy to understand how the characters felt—isolated, pressured, demented and sad, but social—sometimes it wasn’t so easy to understand what they were saying. So here are eight slang terms from the film, explained.

1. BREAKFAST CLUB

There is no breakfast and the detention lasts all day. So why is the movie called The Breakfast Club? According to AMC Story Notes, writer and director John Hughes “got the title from a friend’s son, who called morning detention at his school ‘The Breakfast Club.’” Hughes promptly changed the name of the film from a less appealing Detention.

But he could have also been influenced by Don McNeill’s Breakfast Club, a radio show that originated in Illinois and ran from 1933 to 1968. Hughes and his family moved to Northbrook, Illinois in 1963, when Hughes was 12.

2. BURNER

“Only burners like you get high,” Claire tells Bender, mere hours before she gets high herself.

A burner is a drug user and might be short for burnout, which is from the early 1970s. Other drug slang terms include druggie from the late 1960s; pusher from mid-1930s prison slang; and primo, as in primo or excellent drugs, from the 1990s. Nowadays the word burner might be more commonly used to refer to a throwaway mobile phone.

3. “SO, AHAB ... KYBO MEIN DOOBAGE”

This famous line said by Bender to Brian has certainly confounded many a movie viewer. While doobage is clearly a variant of doobie, slang for marijuana, and mein is German for "my," Ahab and kybo are less clear.

Ahab could refer to Captain Ahab from Moby Dick, or the song "Ahab the Arab," although neither seems to have any connection to Brian or Bender. Perhaps Ahab has something to do with stereotypes around Arabs and opium.

As for kybo, it could refer to the Boy Scout term for an outhouse, in which case it stands for keep your bowels in order or keep your bowels open. Perhaps Bender is playing off this and telling Brian to keep his bowels off the marijuana since the drugs are down Brian's pants.

4. EAT MY SHORTS

While this euphemism for "eat my shit" may seem quintessential Bart Simpson, it’s uttered by Bender in The Breakfast Club two years before The Simpsons makes its premiere on The Tracey Ullman Show. Even earlier is a (pretty funny) 1984 song called "Eat My Shorts" by comedian and radio personality Rick Dees.

The phrase comes full circle when on Futurama, Bender the robot—who, by the way, was named by show creator Matt Groening for The Breakfast Club’s John Bender—finds a Bart Simpson doll which says “Eat my shorts!” Bender obliges.

5. NEO-MAXI-ZOOM-DWEEBIE

Essentially, a really big dweeb. "Face it," Bender says to Brian. "You're a neo-maxi-zoom-dweebie." The term was apparently ad-libbed by Judd Nelson.

It’s unclear how old the word dweeb is. Some sources say it’s from the late 1960s, while the Oxford English Dictionary cites 1982 as the earliest mention. But it’s agreed that the word might be influenced by dwarf and feeb, someone who’s feeble.

Neo-maxi might be a play on neo-Nazi, at least in terms of sound, with maxi implying something huge. As for zoom, your guess is as good as ours.

6. NOTHING TO DO WHEN YOU'RE LOCKED IN A VACANCY

Vacancy here could mean the empty space of the library, the seemingly endless span of time of all-day detention, or Bender's own mind as he tears out pages from a book of Moliere. It's most likely Bender's head since Andrew replies, "Speak for yourself." The line is also the name of an early 2000s song by punk band None More Black.

7. RIDING THE HOBBY HORSE

Bender accuses Brian of claiming he and Claire are riding the hobby horse, or having sex. Hobby horse also refers to the Irish hobby, an extinct horse breed; a toy consisting of a horse head on a stick; a favorite pastime (now shortened to hobby); a favorite topic; as well as a lustful person or loose woman.

8. WASTOID

Another term for someone who uses drugs, wastoid seems to have been coined in The Breakfast Club, or at least makes its earliest appearance there. The word is a combination of wasted, meaning drunk or intoxicated, and -oid, “like, like that of.” This suffix can be found in words like android and humanoid, which are automatons that have human-like qualities but are not actually human, or factoid—something that’s presented as a fact but isn’t, which is often mistaken to mean a small fact or piece of trivia.

In 2014, Stardeath and White Dwarfs, "an experimental rock band from Norman, Oklahoma," released an album called Wastoid.

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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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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