In video games, a version of play where a player’s character is rendered invulnerable to damage. Such a mode is typically activated by entering a cheat code.
Cartoonist, engineer, inventor, sculptor, and writer Rube Goldberg was born Reuben Garret Lucius Goldberg in San Francisco, California on July 4, 1883. While attending the School of Mining Engineering in the University of California at Berkeley for his engineering studies, Rube did not forget his passion for the arts. He submitted cartoons to The Pelican, a student publication. In 1904, Rube Goldberg earned his Bachelor’s degree in engineering. In the following years, he was a vaudeville comedian, cartoonist, fortune-teller, stand-up comedian, and a playwright. He even wrote the screenplay for the Three Stooges’ 1930 screen debut Soup to Nuts. He was credited for having written many essays, plays and poetry, and for a time, he also dabbled in vaudeville, combining stand-up comedy and fortune telling. However, his claim to fame was his satirical cartoons, which illustrated human idiosyncrasies, ranging from the powerful to the mundane. In particular, his cartoons poked fun at the way human beings tend to utilize modern machines and technology to complicate, rather than simplify, life.
A recurring theme of Rube Goldberg’s inventions was the use of simple objects and processes to create complicated multi-step machines in order to accomplish a very simple task, such as collecting mail, opening a window, washing one’s back, or scratching an itch. Collectively, these creative contraptions became known as “Rube Goldberg machines” or “Rube Goldberg devices.” One familiar inspiration was the board game Mouse Trap (originally Mouse Trap Game), first produced in 1963 by the Ideal Toy Company (later re-released by Milton-Bradley), in which the object is to build and use a multi-step machine to simply drop a cage over a mouse.
On July 22, 1947, while working as an editorial cartoonist at the New York Sun, he had a political cartoon published that would garner him a Pulitzer Prize. In 1955, he won the Gold T-Square Award for his artistic contributions, and In 1959, he won the Banshees’ Silver Lady Award, given yearly to honor the outstanding writer or artist in the newspaper field.
Rube Goldberg died in Hawthorne, New York on December 7, 1970. He was 87 years old.
Golden Age of Comics, The (pre-1950s)
Name given to pre-1950s comics and comic books. Comics were invented to be escapist media for such troubled times as The Great Depression and WWII. The Golden Age established comics as mainstream media, trailblazing a new art form with new ways of telling stories. The Golden Age superhero archetype was squeaky clean and shiny. The good guys always won, and the world was always saved from the brink of peril, typically at the last minute. Most comics of the Golden Age weren’t in comic book form, but in serial strips, seen most often in newspaper inserts or leaflets. Superman, Batman, Captain Marvel (Shazam), Wonder Woman and Green Lantern were all created during the Golden Age, but in forms very different from what we know now. Captain America fought against the Red Skull and Adolf Hitler, while Superman saved the world from a meteor in one panel and deflected gunfire from a gangster in the next. See Batman; Green Lantern; Superman; Wonder Woman.
First produced by Sega in 1989, Golden Axe was a common horizontal-action beat-‘em-up game in arcades. Playing by yourself or with a partner, your chosen character (an Amazonian warrior, a Barbarian hero, or a Viking dwarf) would hack, chop and kick his way through various fantasy world enemies, on the way to overthrow the evil rule of Death Adder himself, who, along with his forces of darkness, kidnapped and imprisoned the king and his daughter, and stole the legendary Golden Axe. Along the way, you could hitch rides on the backs of dragon/chicken type creatures, and lay waste to all who opposed you. The heroes were not only armed with their individual weapons, but powerful magic. Each character also had its own special attack move.
In 1995, Larry Page and Sergey Brin met at Stanford when Page, a 22-year-old University of Michigan grad, is shown around campus by Brin, a 21-year-old student, because he is considering attending the school; By 1996, the friends began collaborating on a search engine called BackRub, which eventually operates on Stanford servers for more than a year. The next year, Google.com was registered as a domain. The name—a play on the word “googol,” which is a mathematical term for the number represented by the number 1 followed by 100 zeros—reflected Page and Brin’s mission to organize a seemingly infinite amount of information on the web. In 1998, an investor wrote out a check for $100,000 to an entity that did not exist yet: a company called Google Inc. Google subsequently filed for incorporation in California, and Page and Brin opened a bank account in the newly-established company’s name. The newly formed Google then set up workspace in Susan Wojcicki’s garage in Menlo Park, California, and the co-founders hired their first employee: Craig Silverstein, a fellow Computer Science grad student at Stanford. During that same year, PC Magazine reported that Google “has an uncanny knack for returning extremely relevant results,” and recognized the site as the search engine of choice in the Top 100 Web Sites for 1998.
By 1999, Google had outgrown their garage office, and moved into new office space in Palo Alto, California, with just eight employees. The offices moved again in the same year to Mountain View, just a few miles south of Stanford. In 2000, Google won its first Webby Awards: Technical Achievement (voted by judges) and Peoples’ Voice (voted by users). Also in 2000, the first 10 non-English versions of Google.com are released in French, German, Italian, Swedish, Finnish, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Norwegian and Danish. Today, search is available in over 150 languages. Google New York opened in a Starbuck’s on 86th Street, complete with a one-person sales “team.” Today, after quite a bit of expansion and a new location, more than 4,000 Googlers work in the current New York office. In 2001, Eric Schmidt became CEO, while Page and Brin were named presidents of products and technology, respectively.
In 2004, Google’s email service Gmail was launched on April Fools’ Day. At first invite-only, today it boasts more than 425 million users. Google’s Initial Public Offering (IPO) of 19,605,052 shares of Class A common stock takes place on Wall Street, with an opening price of $85 per share. Their European headquarters opened in Dublin, Ireland, with 150 multilingual Googlers. 2005 saw Google Maps go live, and just two months later, the addition of satellite views and directions. Google acquired YouTube in 2006, and in 2007, was named #1 on Fortune’s annual “Best Companies to Work For” list for the first time, hitting the top of the list three other years afterward. In 2008, Google Chrome became available for download. Five years later, Chrome boasts more than 750 million users.
A plan was announced in 2010 to build and test ultra-high-speed broadband networks, delivering internet speeds up to 100 times faster than what most Americans have access to today. Also that year, Google announced the development of technology for self-driving cars, claiming that such vehicles could help prevent traffic accidents, free up people’s time, and reduce carbon emissions. Their automated prototypes have since logged more than 500,000 miles on the road. Speech recognition searches became a reality for Chrome users in 2011. By clicking a microphone icon in the Google search box, users could now speak their search parameters. Also that year, Google acquired Zagat restaurant and night club guides, and opened a new office in Paris. In 2012, Google Chrome for Android launched, and was followed three months later by Chrome on iOS. Android Market became Google Play, a digital content store offering apps, games, books, movies, music and more. The world saw the Olympics live on YouTube for the first time, viewing a total of 230 million video streams, and through Google’s partnership with NBC, it became the most live-streamed Olympics to date. See Page, Larry.
Written by Chris Columbus and directed by Richard Donner, the 1985 film follows two brothers and their friends as they follow a treasure map and elude a gang of villains in order to claim the treasure and prevent losing their home. The group of Goonies was portrayed by child actors, many of whom would go on to bigger roles and acting careers, including Sean Astin, Josh Brolin and Corey Feldman.
In the Star Trek universe, a species of intelligent reptilian bipeds. In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode “Arena,” Capt. James T. Kirk was forced to fight with the captain of a Gorn ship by a third alien race, in order to settle a dispute.
Popularly believed to represent New York City, but stated by one artist to be a composite of New York City and Chicago, Gotham City is home and base of operations for DC Comics’ character Batman. Its actual location has never been fully explained, and various comic book references indicate that it is somewhere in New Jersey or New York, but when The Atlas of the DC Universe was published in 1990, it portrayed Gotham City as south of New Jersey and Metropolis. Regardless of the source, Gotham’s architecture acts as a major literary device, used to set the atmosphere and tone. One writer described Gotham, figuratively, as “Manhattan below Fourteenth Street at eleven minutes past midnight on the coldest night in November.” The city has an element of urban decay, which plagues the city even after its renovations.
Gotham City is famed as the city where the crime fighter Batman (acting alone or with his partner Robin) operates, but Batman was not actually the first DC hero to reside in Gotham. During the Golden Age of Comics, Alan Scott (Green Lantern) and the Black Canary lived there. Eventually the Batman Family would grow and include Tim Drake, Damian Wayne, Barbara Gordon, Huntress, Batgirl, and Batwoman. Other DC characters known to be living in Gotham City include Plastic Man, Zatanna, Zatara, The Question, The Creeper, and Simon Dark. The Justice Society of America has also been shown to operate in Gotham City. On the other side of the law, many notorious DC criminals reside in Gotham, such as the Joker, Harley Quinn, Killer Croc, the Riddler, Two-Face, and the Penguin. See Black Canary; Joker, The; Justice Society of America; Question, The; Qunn, Harley; Robin; Two-Face; Zatanna.
Born to muggle dentists on September 19, 1979, Hermione Jane Granger is a central heroine of the Harry Potter book series. Her name, which is pronounced “her-MY-uh-nee,” comes from William Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale. At Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Hermione is put into the house of Gryffindor, where she meets Harry and fellow student Ron Weasley, and the trio eventually become close friends. According to Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, “she had a bossy sort of voice, lots of bushy brown hair, and rather large front teeth.” A bookish and serious student, her thirst for knowledge becomes very useful in many of their adventures. J. K. Rowling created the character of Hermione as a caricature of herself at the age of eleven. Hermione was portrayed by Emma Watson in the film series. See Muggle; Rowling, J.K.
See Video card.
See Video card.
See Video card.
Born to a family of trapeze artists and acrobats known as “The Flying Graysons,” the DC Comics character Dick Grayson grew up in the circus. At the young age of eight, Dick witnessed mob boss Anthony Zucco threatening the circus owner, demanding extortion money as “protection” for his performers. The owner refuses, and Zucco later uses The Flying Graysons as an example. Among the hundreds of spectators watching in horror as the Graysons plummet to earth is billionaire Bruce Wayne (also known as Batman). When Dick’s entire family perishes, leaving him an orphan, Bruce decides to take the boy in as his legal ward. Not long after, Dick realizes that his mentor is the famed crimefighter Batman, and eventually chooses to fight at his side, and Robin, the Boy Wonder, emerged.
Created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger, Dick Grayson first appeared as Robin in Detective Comics #38 in 1940. He was added to the comic in the hope that Batman would appeal to younger readers, and to give a lighter tone to the Batman stories. According to his debut issue, Robin’s name was inspired by Robin Hood, but in later years it was stated that Robin’s name was taken from the bird. In another version, it is mentioned that the name came from a nickname that his mother had given him, “Little Robin.”
Dick enjoys his first year as Robin describing it as an adventure, but after a terrifying confrontation with Two-Face, Batman temporarily suspends Dick, and the event continues to haunt Dick for many years afterward. Dick eventually returns to crime fighting, much stronger and smarter than before. He decides he’s ready to fight with others his own age, and joins the Teen Titans. Although Robin is one of the few members of the team without traditional superpowers, he emerges as the group’s natural leader due to his experience and intelligence. He studies law at Hudson University, but drops out after one term due to his responsibilities as Robin. Dick’s newfound independence and duties with the Titans leave him with less time for his former commitments in Gotham City. Batman informs Dick that if he no longer wants to be his partner, he’ll have to retire as Robin. Furious, hurt, and confused, Dick leaves Wayne Manor. Ultimately, Dick decides to hand over leadership of the Titans to Wonder Girl.
Dick comes to believe that he’s grown up and doesn’t need Batman anymore. He decides that in order to discover who he is and his place in the world, he must fight crime on his own. Dick Grayson’s Nightwing persona was created by writer Marv Wolfman and artist George Perez, debuting in Tales of the Teen Titans #44 in 1984. After saving his teammates and defeating Terra and Deathstroke, Dick once again becomes the leader of the New Teen Titans as Nightwing.
Although the story of Dick as Robin wasn’t greatly changed after the DC series Infinite Crisis, Nightwing’s origin was drastically altered. In the redone storyline, Dick decides to abandon his role as Robin after a mission against Two-Face goes terribly wrong and Batman almost dies. After that, Dick embarks on a journey to find himself, which leads him to Metropolis where he meets Superman. Asking for an outside opinion on what he should do next with his life, Superman relays the story of a hero from Krypton who had been cast out by his family only to become a great hero. This hero’s name was Nightwing. After a short stint in Haly’s circus to clear his head, Dick takes on the name Nightwing and begins establishing a reputation for himself in Gotham.
Later, Dick and Bruce do manage to patch things up. When Batman’s back is broken by Bane, and Jean-Paul Valley (aka Azrael) is given the mantle of Batman, Dick confronts Bruce as to why he didn’t ask him to become the next Batman. Bruce simply tells him that he didn’t think Dick would want to do it, as he was his own person now. Dick tells Bruce that while he didn’t want to be Batman, he would have helped Bruce out in any way he was asked. Later, Bruce does ask Dick to fill in for him briefly as he recovers from his back injury.
During his early days as Batman, Dick begins to round up Arkham escapees alongside a new Robin. Following an unsuccessful case, he returns to the Batcave to find a returned Bruce there. The two finally discuss issues stemming from the end of their partnership and Wayne’s choice of Valley over Dick, with the two working through it and becoming closer than they had been in years.
By the 1990s, Nightwing had become one of DC’s most popular characters. Robin already had his own successful solo series, so the powers-that-be decided to test the waters with Nightwing. In 1995, DC launched a 4-issue Nightwing mini-series starring the former Boy Wonder. Written by Dennis O’Neil with art by Greg Land, the mini was a sales hit. When DC awarded Nightwing an ongoing series in 1996, they enlisted writer Chuck Dixon and artist Scott McDaniel. Dixon immediately set Nightwing apart from his mentor by giving him his own city: the corrupt, decaying harbor town known as Blüdhaven, which lay just north of Gotham. It allowed him to be close enough to Gotham to stay part of the Batman Family, as well as have his own city and series of adventures. At one point, Nightwing joins the Blüdhaven Police Department in an attempt to get rid of the corruption of the city from within, working on both sides of the law as Nightwing and an officer.
After the events of Infinite Crisis, the entire line of DC Comics characters and storylines skipped an entire year in continuity, to make big changes. One of these changes was that Dick Grayson moves back to New York, where he previously fought crime alongside the New Teen Titans.
Great Hall of Qam-Chee, The
Green Hornet, The
The masked crime-fighting character of The Green Hornet started out on a radio broadcast show in the late 1930s, lasting through the early 1950s. It started its run on WXYZ in Detroit, the Mutual Network, and NBC Blue. The series was created by George W. Trendle and Fran Striker, who had also worked on the Lone Ranger series. Over the years, The Green Hornet was voiced by Al Hodge, Donovan Faust, Robert Hall, and Jack McCarthy.
As the story went, The Green Hornet was really newspaper salesman Britt Reid, the grand-nephew of Dan Reid, also known as the Lone Ranger. He was considered a large villain, with his Batman-like tactics of getting information. Originally, his sidekick Kato was described as a Japanese martial artist, but later, his nationality was changed to Filipino. (Some speculate that this was changed due to the attack on Pearl Harbor.)
Following many successful years on the radio, the characters of The Green Hornet and Kato were finally seen by audiences in 1940s movie serials produced by Universal Pictures. In 1940, The Green Hornet was played by Gordon Jones, but whenever he donned his mask, his voice was dubbed by Al Hodge. The Green Hornet Strikes Again was released in 1941, with Warren Hull as The Green Hornet. Keye Luke (who later would appear as the blind Master Po on the 1970s television series Kung Fu) played the role of Kato in each film, but now his nationality was said to be Korean, again due to the war.
After the huge success of the Batman TV series, which had debuted in January 1966, ABC Television introduced The Green Hornet in September of the same year. Van Williams played the role of The Green Hornet, while Kato was played by martial arts expert Bruce Lee. The characters were even seen on a cross-over episode of Batman, but Green Hornet did not fare nearly as well as its predecessor, and only lasted one season. (It later became a great hit as a TV show in Asia, where it was called The Kato Show.) The Green Hornet series was usually straight-forward and serious, as opposed to Batman, which was mostly camp. The series theme song, “Flight of the Bumblebee,” was expertly played by Al Hirt.
Green Hornet’s weapons arsenal consisted of non-lethal weapons: a gas gun; the “Hornet sting,” which was a telescoping rod; flare grenades; and throwing darts. He traveled in the Black Beauty, a customized 1965 Chrysler Imperial driven by Kato.
In January 2011 a new Green Hornet movie came out, this time in the form of a comedy starring Seth Rogen.
Harold “ “Hal” Jordan, a former test pilot, was chosen by the Green Lantern Corps to be the protector of Sector 2814, which included his home planet Earth. First appearing in Showcase # 22 (September-October 1959), Green Lantern would eventually be a co-founder of the Justice League of America alongside Aquaman and the Flash. Over the decades, the DC Comics character battled countless galactic foes, including the fallen Green Lantern called Sinestro. But when the Cyborg Superman demolished Jordan’s hometown, Coast City, he went mad with grief. Enraged when the Guardians barred him from recreating Coast City, Jordan destroyed the Guardians and their Corps, becoming the god-like villain Parallax. Though Parallax died during the Sun-Eater crisis, Jordan’s spirit lived on as the new Spectre, until he was resurrected. See Aquaman; DC Comics; Flash, The; Jordan, Hal; Justice League of America; Sinestro.
Also known at different times by the names Redd, Ms. Psyche, Jeannie, and Marvel Girl, Jean Grey (later Jean Grey-Summers) was an original member of the X-Men, making her first appearance in 1963’s X-Men #1. Jean possesses telepathic powers which enable her to read minds, project her own thoughts into the minds of others, mentally stun others with psionic force, levitate and move objects with her mind, and initiate astral travel, to name only a few of her skills.
Jean’s origin story was told in Bizarre Adventures #27 (1981). She was 10 years old when her mutant telepathic powers first manifested, after she felt the emotions of a dying friend. Her parents took her to be treated by Professor Charles Xavier. While Xavier treated Jean, he also used her to fine-tune his Cerebro machine. When the professor introduced young Jean to the astral plane, a part of her mind manifested as a Phoenix raptor, and touched the mind of orphan Scott Summers. Xavier formed psychic shields in Jean’s mind to prevent her from using her telepathic powers until she was mature enough to control them. Eventually, Jean became a founding member of Xavier’s team of mutant trainees, joining the X-Men as Marvel Girl. Upon a mission in outer space Jean was noticed by the Phoenix Force, which took note of her unlimited potential. At that moment, Jean had a vision of becoming the Phoenix, but the vision faded from her memory as it ended.
After Jean and the X-Men defeated scientist Stephen Lang and his robotic Sentinels on his space station, the heroes escaped back to Earth in a shuttle through a lethal solar radiation storm. Dying from radiation poisoning, Jean was saved by the Phoenix Force, who created a duplicate body complete with memories and personality, absorbed a portion of her consciousness and cast her into suspended animation. For months, the Phoenix believed itself to be the real Jean, and mental manipulation by Mastermind caused Phoenix to go insane, becoming Dark Phoenix. Ultimately, the portion of Jean’s consciousness within Phoenix resurfaced, causing it to commit suicide. This portion of Jean Grey’s consciousness then journeyed to the afterlife to meet a manifestation of Death. Death explained the Phoenix Force to Jean, who now wore a White Phoenix costume, before this portion of her consciousness and residual Phoenix energy was sent to Jean’s original body in the cocoon, where it was rejected, and then to her clone, Madelyne Pryor. Eventually, Jean was rescued from her stasis and, with the other original X-Men, formed a new team, X-Factor. Madelyne Pryor later died in a confrontation with Jean Grey in which Jean absorbed Madelyne’s and Phoenix’s personalities and memories, along with a spark of the Phoenix energy. While in battle with a Celestial on an alien world, Jean expelled this spark of energy, along with the personalities she had absorbed. However, she did keep faint impressions of their memories.
Ultimately rejoining the X-Men, Jean married Scott Summers (Cyclops). Later, Jean assumed the position of acting headmistress of the Xavier Institute and was revisited by the Phoenix Force. Following an attack on the X-Men by a mutant impersonating Magneto named Xorn (who had previously been a teacher at the institute), Jean and Wolverine were trapped on a space station that was hurtling into the sun. Seeing no hope for survival and wanting to spare his teammate further suffering, Wolverine seemingly killed Jean, unleashing the Phoenix Consciousness within her, and resurrecting her. Returning to Earth, Jean, with the power of the Phoenix, opposed the faux Magneto and was killed by a massive stroke induced by a lethal electromagnetic pulse.
After being killed by the faux Magneto, Jean hatched from a Phoenix Egg in the future. Sublime sought to use Jean’s Phoenix power to control all of creation. However, Jean remembered her mission and destroyed the future reality. Jean ascended to the White Hot Room as a White Phoenix of the Crown, and created a new future by pushing Scott to stay with Emma Frost and continue the Xavier Institute.
Later, a band of Shi’ar used their advanced technology to force the Phoenix Force out of the White Hot Room and shattered it with an “Event Horizon.” Confused and driven insane, the Phoenix flew to Earth and forcefully resurrected Jean. She ultimately merged with the Phoenix Force, once again becoming the White Phoenix. See Cyclops (definition 2); X-Men.
A process that combines computer resources from various domains in such a way that the computers on the network can utilize the same resources, working on a task together, thus functioning as one supercomputer. Grid computing usually consists of one main computer that distributes information and tasks to a group of networked computers, and is often used to complete complicated or tedious mathematical or scientific calculations. Typically, a grid can work on various tasks within a network, but it is also capable of working on specialized applications. It is designed to solve problems that are too big for a supercomputer, while maintaining the flexibility to process numerous smaller problems. Examples of grid computing applications are web services such as ATM banking, back-office infrastructures, and scientific or marketing research. The idea of grid computing was first established in the early 1990s by Carl Kesselman, Ian Foster and Steve Tuecke. They developed the Globus Toolkit standard, which included grids for data storage management, data processing and intensive computation management.
Grid operations are generally classified into two categories:
1) Data Grid: A system that handles large distributed data sets used for data management and controlled user sharing. It creates virtual environments that support dispersed and organized research. The Southern California Earthquake Center is an example of a data grid; it uses a middle software system that creates a digital library, a dispersed file system, and a continuing archive.
2) CPU Scavenging Grid: A cycle-scavenging system that moves projects from one PC to another as needed. One example of a CPU scavenging grid is the computation that goes on in the continuing search for extraterrestrial intelligence, which includes more than three million computers. See Central processing unit (CPU); Computer.
An online game player who intentionally, and usually repeatedly, attempts to spoil the game for other players, degrade another’s experience, or torment another player. Examples include singling out the same player and killing them over and over while defenseless until they log off., blocking another player so they cannot move or leave a particular area, and verbal abuse. See Gamer.
Ironically the most articulate and well-read member of the Griffin family, Brian is the not-so-typical family dog in the Fox animated series Family Guy. He is a gentleman, a scholar, and the first person that his owner Peter turns to in a crisis. Yet, Brian is an imperfect talking biped of a dog. He’s been known to toss back a martini or two too many. Still, he has published a (rather awful!) novel, and he’s quite the babe magnet. See Family Guy; Griffin, Peter; Griffin, Stewie; Quagmire, Glenn.
The central character of Fox’s animated series Family Guy, Peter lives in Quahog, Rhode Island, where he spends his free time drinking beer, dreaming up get-rich-quick schemes, and antagonizing his daughter Meg. Peter has worked for various companies, including the Pawtucket Patriot Brewery and the Happy-Go-Lucky Toy Factory. He also has this peculiar history of knock-down drag-out fistfights with a large, yellow chicken. See Family Guy; Griffin, Brian; Griffin, Stewie; Quagmire, Glenn.
Stewart Gilligan “Stewie” Griffin is a one-year-old bent on total world domination … and the permanent removal of his mother Lois. Ever since his birth – or his “escape from that uterine gulag,” as he calls it – the youngest member of the Griffin family on the Fox animated series Family Guy has been intent on defeating his mother’s matriarchal tyranny. Though he was the only member of the family born with a British accent and an evil disposition, Stewie has had some triumphs, such as getting “buff” and traveling the world (and the multiverse!) with his dog Brian, singing together the entire way. See Family Guy; Griffin, Brian; Griffin, Peter; Quagmire, Glenn.
Ben Grimm is a member of the Fantastic Four, also (and perhaps better) known as The Thing. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, The Thing first appeared in Fantastic Four # 1 in 1961. Benjamin Jacob Grimm was a young street-smart troublemaker in New York City, forced to become tough and “hard” very early in life. During Ben’s formative years, tragedy struck him hard: his older brother Daniel was killed in a gang fight when Ben was still a kid, and his parents were killed in an accident when he was a teenager.
Ben did well in high school. An excellent football player, he won an athletic scholarship to Empire State University, where he met, roomed with, and became best friends with, Reed Richards. While at Empire State, Ben and Reed also met fellow student Victor Von Doom. After college, Ben joined the US Air Force and became a fantastic pilot, often testing experimental aircraft and even flying top secret missions for the government. His piloting skills eventually landed him a spot at NASA. Ben was later contacted by his old friend Reed, who wanted him to pilot his experimental rocket into space. Ben was reluctant to pilot the ship, as he was unsure that it would be safe for them, but was persuaded to do so. Still not cleared for takeoff, Ben took off anyway at the others’ request. The ship was bombarded with cosmic rays, and when the rocket ship eventually crash-landed back on Earth, the crew saw Sue briefly disappear when as turned invisible. This caused Ben to get angry with and aggressive towards Reed, which triggered a radical physical transformation, turning Ben to into a monstrous “thing,” as Susan Storm later called Ben. See Fantastic Four; Human Torch, The; Kirby, Jack; Lee, Stan; Marvel Comics; Richards, Reed; Thing, The.
In gaming, a term used in reference to the playing time spent doing repetitive tasks within a game. Such mundane activities may have to be done in order to unlock a particular game item or build up – or “grind out” – experience needed to progress smoothly through the game. Grinding most commonly involves killing the same set of opponents over and over in order to gain experience points or gold. Although other game genres require some grinding, role-playing games (RPG) – specifically massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG) – are the most notorious for requiring this type of time investment from players.
While the practice may seem contrary to good game design, there are two elements to grinding that have made its inclusion inevitable in almost every RPG. These are:
- Players often feel a sense of achievement when they have ground their way up to a level where progression through the game becomes relatively easy. Knowing this, game designers include achievements outside of pure level progression. For example, defeating 100 opponents may result in a player achieving a new title and possibly other rewards. Similar milestones may occur at 200, 300, 500, 1,000, and so on.
- Grinding allows players who are less skillful to catch up to and progress/compete with players who are better. In this way, no player is prevented from progressing through the game.
A game level in which a lot of grinding is required is sometimes called a “treadmill level.” See Gamer.
Cartoonist and creator of The Simpsons, Groening (which rhymes with “training”) was born on February 15, 1954 in Portland, Oregon. After quite an artistic childhood, Groening attended Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, a nontraditional public university that he has called a haven for “self-disciplined creative weirdos.” He became editor of the campus newspaper while remaining an avid cartoonist. Though he loved drawing characters, he never considered it a viable career option, but that all changed when Groening met fellow Evergreen student and cartoonist Lynda Barry. Inspired by Barry’s ability to make a living selling her comics to alternative papers, Groening graduated from college and moved to Los Angeles in 1973 to work as a writer. After spending a few years working part-time, Groening sold his comic strip Life in Hell to the alternative LA Weekly in 1980. Life in Hell soon gained syndication, spawning books and collections, and earning Groening a huge national following. The comic ran in LA Weekly until 2009, when the struggling paper could no longer afford to pay Groening, but he still writes the strip, which runs in many other alternative newspapers.
The success of Life in Hell attracted the attention of Hollywood writer/producer James L. Brooks, who contacted Groening to create a series of animated shorts to run on the Fox sketch comedy series The Tracey Ullman Show. Rather than sticking with the established Life in Hell, Groening invented The Simpsons, a dysfunctional family of characters whose names he mostly borrowed from his own parents and siblings. One exception was the name of central troublemaker son Bart. Rather than being the name of a Groening relative, “Bart” was simply an anagram of “brat.” The animated family premiered on The Tracey Ullman Show on April 19, 1987. Ullman’s show was soon canceled, but the Simpsons were popular enough to earn their own spin-off series, which premiered in 1989. It has recently become the longest-running prime time entertainment series in television history, besting Gunsmoke back in 2009, and the Emmy-winning series is still going.
In 1997, hoping to build on the success of The Simpsons, Groening created Futurama, a second animated series for the Fox network. It was canceled after four years, but maintained a strong cult following among fans. In 2009, Comedy Central announced that it would relaunch the series on the cable network the following year. The revived Futurama picked up the 2011 Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program, and aired until 2013.
Still an active cartoonist, Groening formed the comic book publisher Bongo Comics Group in 1994, named for the main character from his Life in Hell. See Futurama; Life in Hell; Simpson, Bart.
Originally a safety measure to help prevent people from accidentally coming in contact with electrical hazards, with today’s advances in electronics and technology, electrical grounding has become an essential part of everyday electricity. For example, a refrigerator, which is essentially a metal box with electricity running in and out of it, stands on rubber feet. The electricity runs from the outlet through the power cord to the electrical components inside the refrigerator, which are electrically isolated from the metal exterior or chassis of the refrigerator. If for some reason the electricity comes in contact with the metal chassis, which would normally conduct electricity (meaning it would allow the electricity to flow through it), the rubber feet would prevent the electricity from going any farther. If it were not for the rubber feed “grounding” the metal in the refrigerator, the electricity would flow from the chassis of the refrigerator and through any unlucky person who happened to touch it, possibly causing that person injury.
The process of electrically connecting to the earth itself is often called “earthing,” particularly in Europe.
As used in the original Star Trek episode “Miri,” the term is short for “grown-ups,” and is the term that the seemingly adolescent inhabitants of a planet identical to Earth called the adult inhabitants before they were all killed in a man-made plague.
Sometimes referred to as a “griffin,” the legendary creature has the head and wings of an eagle, and the body of a lion. Typically, the forearms are depicted as eagle’s talons.
Term for a group of online game players who work together. Also known as a “clan.”
American entrepreneur Ernest Gary Gygax (1938–2008), together with his war-gaming friend David Arneson, created the world’s first fantasy role-playing game (RPG), Dungeons & Dragons (D&D), ultimately paving the way for modern electronic RPGs. Gygax introduced the game Chainmail, the predecessor of D&D, in 1971, and in 1973 he cofounded, with his boyhood friend Donald Kaye, the company Tactical Studies Rules (TSR), which produced the first edition of D&D in 1974. In 1983, Gygax and Arneson wrote and produced the animated television series Dungeons & Dragons. After leaving TSR in 1985, Gygax continued to develop new fantasy games and novels.