An imaginary Middle-earth creature created by J.R.R. Tolkien, related to and resembling humans, who lives in underground holes and is characterized by their diminutive size, hairy feet and pleasant nature.
Mastermind behind TV’s Mystery Science Theater 3000, which poked fun at B-movies from the ‘50s through the ‘90s, Hodgson was born on February 20, 1960 in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. The magician and standup comedian competed with and won against several more recognized comedians in a 1982 Minneapolis standup competition, and later appeared in Jerry Seinfeld: Stand-Up Confidential in 1987. In 1988, he created MST3K, as fans call the quirky heckle-fest series he wrote, performed in, and puppeteered. Starting out on a Minneapolis public access station, the show was later picked up by Comedy Central, and then the Sci Fi Channel, becoming a cult classic during its run. He also had a hand in set design and music composition during his work on the program, as well as on the 1996 theatrical release Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie. Hodgson hosted the show for five seasons, inserting clever commentary over and between the lines in films that would otherwise be considered too horrible to sit through. Hodgson left the show in 1993, when writer Mike Nelson took the reins as host. He returned for a cameo appearance in a 1999 episode.
In addition to guest spots on Freaks and Geeks and Space Ghost Coast to Coast in the late 1990s, Hodgson also earned writing credits on TV shows Jimmy Kimmel Live and You Don’t Know Jack. He continues to write and produce independently in the film industry in Los Angeles. One such project was a feature he began shooting, Statistical Planets, which was never completed. A real-life tribute to the running “Invention Exchange” gag on MST3K, Hodgson also creates his own inventions.
A fictional martial art featured in the 1986 anime film Fist of the North Star.
A central character in the 1985 film Real Genius, Lazlo is rumored to be at the top spot in the list of the “ten finest minds in the country,” and smarter than the top two genius-level Pacific Technical University students combined. According to his backstory, Lazlo (played by Jonathan Gries) graduated from Pacific Tech in the 1970s and went on to work for a chemical company. When he found out that the work he was doing was killing people, he snapped. When he is seen in the film, he is living in steam tunnels beneath the campus. Skittish and withdrawn, he still gets involved in a student plot to ruin plans for another violent weapon.
Theorized by Dennis Gabor in 1947, a special kind of picture that, when placed in a beam of coherent light, forms a true three-dimensional image of the subject.
Homo sapiens superior
Term typically used when there are two or more computer systems connected by modems and telephone lines in a network, it is the computer system that contains the data and is accessed by a user working at a remote location.
A graphic sexual mini-game accidentally discovered in 2005 in the game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Created presumably as part of some preliminary work apparently done but not intended to be viewable by consumers, as such work is often partially completed and then left out of the game’s final release (much like deleted scenes in a movie). For some reason, this content was left on the game disk, even though players could not access it through normal play. Originally, Rockstar Games, developer of Grand Theft Auto, claimed that the scenes must have been created by a third party, but some fans of the game soon discovered that the explicit content could be unlocked by downloading a special modification from the internet. Once this modification was downloaded, the main character could engage in explicit sex with a girlfriend. (The popular nickname “Hot coffee” comes from the girlfriend’s opening line, in which she asks if the main character would like to come in for coffee.) Rockstar Games was then forced to admit that they had created the content. When the news of this hidden mini-game went public, the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) re-evaluated the game and changed the rating to Adults Only (AO), the most high-profile game ever to receive that rating. Take-Two also released patches so that players with older versions of the game could no longer access the “hot coffee” scene. Although the details were not made public, it is assumed that the ESRB probably sanctioned the company for violating the terms of the rating system. In June 2006, Take-Two Software and “Grand Theft Auto” developer Rockstar Games settled with the Federal Trade Commission over the scenes. The FTC ordered the companies to notify consumers of sexual content in future games, and not to misrepresent rating or content descriptions. The ESRB also received criticism.
For users of portable computers equipped for wireless, a hotspot (or hot spot) is a wireless local area network (LAN) node that provides internet service and virtual private network (VPN) access from a given location. Increasingly, public places such as airports, hotels, bookstores and coffee shops are providing free wireless access for customers.
Research chemist Rex Tyler discovered the chemical Miraclo (or “miraculous vitamin”) and using himself as a human trial study, found that the drug gave him extraordinary strength, vitality (near invulnerability) and speed, but only for an hour at a time. Vowing to use these abilities to help the public, he donned the cowl of Hourman (originally “The Hour-Man”). First appearing in Adventure Comics #48 in March 1940, the superhero faced magic and mystics, and became affiliated with the original Justice Society of America (JSA), as well as the Freedom Fighters and the All-Star Squadron. On December 6, 1941, he joined Uncle Sam and his Freedom Fighters to face the Japanese threat, eventually spending time as a prisoner of war in Japan. Tyler abandoned the Hourman identity in 1943, though he assisted the JSA on occasion, and after 1945, he devoted himself to biochemical advances, purchasing Bannermain Chemical and renaming it Tyler Chemical Company (later TylerCo).
Rex discovered that once Miraclo was in a person’s system, it could be activated with black light. He used this method instead of the drug whenever possible, but eventually, he became addicted to the drug. During the 1985-86 Crisis on Infinite Earths, Hourman got stuck in the “Ragnarok limbo” dimension, and Rex’s son Rick donned the cowl of Hourman, taking the pill his father had tailored for him. After two years, Rex’s Hourman was freed and returned to Earth, where he found he was being mourned as dead, and that his son was dying from illness. Rex found that he could activate the effects Miraclo by thought, without actually taking the drug and risking addiction, and he passed this knowledge on to his son.
While fighting Extant, Rex was robbed of his chronal youth energies which were keeping him young, and he converted to his natural age of 84, immediately dying of natural causes … but he was swiftly transferred to Limbo, where he was allowed to visit with his healed son for, naturally, an hour. Transported back to the moment of his death, the hero was again saved, this time by the future’s android Hourman and his sacrifice.
Hourman was also pulled into the 853rd Century for some months by TylerChemrobotics, the future version of his company. There, he helped to build a nanotech machine colony based on Miraclo and his own DNA. He joined forces with the “Justice League A” to combat the android Hourman III. Elsewhere, Rex’s notes on his drug research were used to create Bane, and eventually, Hourman fought Bane, unsuccessfully trying to rid him of his addiction.
House of the Dead, The
In the chilling arcade (and later Sega Saturn) video game, a player enters a house that is positively crawling with flesh-eating zombies. When mad scientist Dr. Curien’s experiments go awry, the undead are everywhere, and a player has only his trusty six-shooter to blast the hordes … while keeping alert, because you also have the very tasty flesh, thirst-quenching blood, and mouth-watering brains they crave. Advanced hit detection aids the player in blasting zombies in the limbs, head and chest. One element added to the Saturn version is the ability to choose between four different characters, each with a different weapon of choice and different skills. The Saturn version comes with green blood as the splattering norm, but when a secret code is entered, a player can change that splatter to red, blue, purple … or any color in an available myriad.
Howard, Robert E.
Widely regarded as the father of the “sword and sorcery” genre, Robert Ervin Howard was an iconic writer of adventure who created Conan, Kull of Atlantis, Solomon Kane and many other memorable characters. In a career that lasted just over a decade, Howard wrote well over a hundred stories for the popular pulp magazines of the day (most often published by Weird Tales).
Howard was born on January 22 (though some sources say January 24), 1906 in Peaster, Texas, just west of Fort Worth. His father was a country doctor and his mother was very sickly for most of her life, having a family history of tuberculosis. Robert was an avid reader of all genres, and near the end of his life, Howard would correspond regularly with the renowned fantasist H.P. Lovecraft. He submitted his first story for publication when he was only 15, and while attending Brownwood High School, Howard first enjoyed the thrill of being a published author: two of his stories won cash prizes and publication in the high school paper The Tattler, with three more being published during the spring term. He made his first professional sale – a prehistoric adventure entitled “Spear and Fang” – at the age of 18. During the period from his high school graduation in the spring of 1923 to his completion of a bookkeeping program in the spring of 1927, he continued writing. From Mongols to cowboys to barbarians to swashbucklers, Howard explored several genres and published many stories in the last decade of his life.
In 1934, Robert met Novalyne Price, and they shared an affectionate, if sometimes stormy, time together. They were both passionate, fiercely independent people, which made for an intense and exciting relationship, but one that was impossible to sustain. In the spring of 1936, Novalyne was accepted into the graduate program in education at Louisiana State University, and she left Cross Plains. At the end of her own life, Price published a non-fiction account of Howard’s life in 1986 entitled One Who Walked Alone: Robert E. Howard, the Final Years.
Through 1935 and 1936, Howard’s mother’s health deteriorated rapidly, and Howard enacted an apparently long-standing plan to not outlive her. For years, he had told associates that he would kill himself, were it not for the fact that his mother needed him. His father may have been aware of what his son was contemplating, having said that he had seen his son make preparations on earlier occasions when it appeared Mrs. Howard might die. Howard’s father claimed that he tried to keep an eye on Robert, but did not expect him to go through with anything before his mother died. Hester Howard sank into her final coma around June 8, 1936. On the morning of the June 11, Robert asked his mother’s nurse if she thought his mother would ever regain consciousness, and was told she would not. Robert got up and walked into his room, where he typed a four-line poem on the Underwood typewriter that had served him for ten years:
All fled, all done
So lift me on the pyre.
The feast is over
And the lamps expire.
He then walked out of the house and got into his 1935 Chevy. The hired cook stated later that she saw him raise his hands in prayer, then heard a shot, and saw Robert slump over the steering wheel. Robert’s father and Mrs. Howard’s doctor ran out to the car and carried Robert’s body back into the house, where he died that afternoon without ever regaining consciousness. His mother died the following day, also without regaining consciousness.
Following Howard’s death, Weird Tales published a number of his stories for a few more years, until Farnsworth Wright stepped down as editor. Howard’s reputation and fan base grew enormously after his suicide, including posthumous publications, an amateur press association founded in 1972 and still going strong, and a still-growing presence on the internet. In 1996, Robert E. Howard’s story, with an emphasis on his relationship with Novalyne Price, was retold in the film The Whole Wide World, based on Price’s memoir and starring Renee Zellweger and Vince D’Onofrio.
Human Torch, The
Growing up in suburban Glenville, the Marvel Comics character Johnny Storm, created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, was drawn to automobiles and became quite a mechanic at a young age. Years later, along with his sister Sue, Johnny joined Reed Richards and Ben Grimm in a space flight that changed the lives of every member of the crew. Riddled with cosmic radiation, all of the crew members were physically affected: Reed’s body became elastic, Sue gained the ability to become invisible, Ben was tranformed into a rocklike being Johnny called The Thing, and Johnny’s body transformed into a being of fire when the flight crashed back to earth. Learning to control this powerful ability and calling himself The Human Torch in tribute to a World War II hero, the youthful Johnny proved to be an invaluable (if somewhat volatile) member of the team known as the Fantastic Four. Still a teenage Glenville High student, Johnny tried to conceal his dual identity from most of the locals at first, but this soon proved futile.
Johnny left the group for a time, falling out with his teammates after a battle with the Miracle Man, but returned shortly afterward. In solo action, he fought several super-villains, but they weren’t Johnny’s only rivals. The teenager was in skirmishes with high school rivals and even had some trouble with a few girlfriends! After graduating high school, Johnny enrolled in Metro College, and around this time, met a young Inhuman named Crystal. It was love at first sight, and Johnny, along with the rest of the Fantastic Four, helped her overthrow the mad Inhuman prince Maximus. Their love was passionate but short-lived, as Crystal returned to Attilan and married Quicksilver, the son of Magneto. When Sue and Reed separated, Johnny joined the Thing, Medusa and Thundra in a staged battle against the rehabilitated Namor in an effort to bring the couple back together. Their ploy worked, and Sue and Reed patched things up for good. Eventually Johnny married Alicia Masters. A restless young Johnny Storm has at different times sought an acting career, spent time as (ironically!) a firefighter, and as the Chief Financial Officer for Fantastic Four, Inc.
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According to Robert E. Howard, creator of Conan, the Hyborian Age took place in our world sometime after the fall of Atlantis and before the rise of recorded history, during a time when sorcery existed. This is the Age during which Conan ruled Aquilonia.
A strange, repulsive man, Edward Hyde is Robert Louis Stevenson’s representation of the inner brute in all men, as portrayed in his classic tale of horror The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The violent and cruel character, who emerges when Dr. Henry Jekyll’s potion to quell his own inner evil backfires, is not a creature who belongs to the rational world. When he is first encountered, he tramples over a young girl. He does not do this intentionally, yet he inspires fear, antagonism and hatred in others, mainly due to his mere physical appearance. Perhaps ironically or shockingly, since Hyde represents the evil in man, he is represented in Stevenson’s novel as being much smaller and younger than Dr. Jekyll. As the novel progresses, Hyde also creates terror, and his evil becomes more and more pronounced. He bludgeons a man to death only because he appeared to be a good and kindly man, suggesting that pure evil detests pure goodness. Since Jekyll does come to vicariously enjoy the degradations which Hyde commits, Hyde gradually begins to take over the good Dr. Jekyll. The doctor wants to punish Hyde, but at the same time, he recognizes that Hyde is an intimate part of himself. Ultimately, when Jekyll commits suicide in order to get rid of Hyde, this evil act allows Hyde to become the dominant figure, and the dying Jekyll becomes Hyde as he dies.
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