L – Lm

Lady of the Lake

Known by many names (including Nimue, Nineve, Niniane, Viviane, Vivien and Vivienne, among others), the Lady of the Lake is thought to have been based on lake fairies in Welsh stories.  According to the legends of King Arthur Pendragon, she stole Lancelot when he was a child and cured him when he went mad.  As his foster-mother, she raised him (thus “Sir Lancelot du Lac”) and Many legends say the Lady of the Lake was responsible for educating Lancelot.  However, she is best known for presenting the magical sword Excalibur to King Arthur.

Though some legends state that Morgan le Fay was the object of Merlin’s obsession, others say he met the Lady of the Lake at the Fountain of Barenton in Brittany, and fell so deeply in love with her that he agreed to share all his mystical powers with her.  The Lady became Merlin’s scribe, recording his prophecies.  Over the years, Merlin taught her so well that, whether out of jealousy, love or possessiveness, the Lady of the Lake became a better magician, imprisoning him in a tree, a glass tower, a crystal cave, or other legendary trap.  The lack of Merlin’s help contributed to Arthur’s downfall, as the Lady of the Lake was unable to fulfill Merlin’s role as magician to Arthur.  She was eventually obliged to reclaim Excalibur when Arthur was fatally wounded at the Battle of Camlann and Excalibur was hurled back into the misty waters by Sir Bedivere.  Along with Morgan le Fay, she was one of the three queens who escorted the body of King Arthur to Avalon, represent the Celtic Triple-Goddess.  Geoffrey of Monmouth cites the leader of the maidens of Avalon as Morgan le Fay, while later stories say that the Lady was their ruler.  It could also be that the two were aspects of the same character.

 

Lag

  1. Slang term for a noticeable decrease in an application’s speed, typically due to either extreme network congestion or insufficient processing power in a computer.
  2. In real-time applications (such as games), lag refers to an application’s failure to respond to inputs in a timely manner, and is commonly used to describe a time delay between a player’s action (such as pushing a button) and the game’s response time in initiating the player’s intended application or game action. In the case of games running on a computer or console, this may be caused by a lack of processing power.  Online video games also experience lag during periods of network congestion and insufficient processing power.  Lag is especially noticeable when playing online games via dial-up connections.  Some online multiplayer games suffer lag due to communication latency (sending/receiving packets) and local processing deficiencies.
  3. As a verb, a player who is “lagging” may be slowing down the game.

 

LAN

See Local Area Network (LAN).

 

Land of the Giants

In this 1968-70 ABC television series, The Spindrift, a sub-orbital spaceship on a flight from Los Angeles to London, passes through a strange cloud and lands on an Earth-type planet, but their technology is 20 years behind Earth’s, and the inhabitants are roughly twelve times the size of the lost passengers.  The ship’s captain, co-pilot and stewardess, along with an engineer, a jet-setter, a mysterious con artist, a young boy and his dog, must battle the planet’s totalitarian government, try to avoid capture, and repair the Spindrift in order to get back home … if they can figure out how!

 

Lang, Fritz

Fritz Lang (1890–1976) was born in Vienna.  For several years, the young Lang traveled in North Africa, Asia, the South Seas and throughout Europe, studying painting in Munich and Paris.  An exhibition of his paintings opened in Paris in 1914, just before he returned to Austria and was conscripted into the Austrian army for service in World War I.  He was wounded four times, losing vision in his right eye and requiring a year’s convalescence in a Vienna army hospital, where he tried his hand at writing screenplays.  After his discharge, he began acting on the Vienna stage.  In Berlin in 1919, he was given the opportunity to write and direct his first movie, Halbblut (The Half-Caste), and in 1920 he began working for producer Erich Pommer at Decla Biscop Studio (which later became part of the German filmmaking giant UFA).

Lang’s first project upon his return to Germany was the futuristic masterpiece Metropolis (1927), which borrowed the “pampered society living above, while the oppressed workers hovel below” theme from H.G. WellsThe Time Machine, a theme that would be repeated again and again (even in one Star Trek episode).  In 1928, Lang returned to science fiction for the silent production Frau im Mond (Woman in the Moon; also known as By Rocket to the Moon), released without even a score in 1929, which told of Man reaching the moon exactly 70 years before the feat was actually accomplished.

Lang was already a respected filmmaker before coming to the United States in 1934.  He finished 22 Hollywood films in the next 21 years, at least half of which would become film noir classics.  Lang’s films, dealing mainly with the theme of fate, are considered masterpieces of visual composition and suspense.  His first sound film, M (1931), a horrifying account of a true child murderer case, starred Peter Lorre and was Lang’s greatest international success.  The Woman in the Window (1944), adapted by Nunnally Johnson from an obscure novel, starred Edward G. Robinson as a married college professor who becomes involved with Joan Bennett), who plays the subject of a painting with which he has become infatuated.  Bennett, who would later go on to star in the television serial Dark Shadows, did two other films for Lang: 1941’s Man Hunt and 1945’s Scarlet Street.

Lang’s grim film You Only Live Once (1937), based partly on the story of real-life American fugitives Bonnie and Clyde, starred Henry Fonda as an ex-convict who is unjustly sentenced to death.  The filmmaker then moved to Twentieth Century-Fox, where he made a few Westerns and war films, but his clashes with producer Darryl F. Zanuck resulted in the director’s departure from the studio.  By 1945, after several cinematic triumphs, Lang’s career entered a prolonged slump of badly-received productions, but with Rancho Notorious in 1952, Lang was back on his feet.  He directed a high-profile cast that included Barbara Stanwyck, Robert Ryan, Paul Douglas and Marilyn Monroe in the emotional melodrama Clash by Night (1952), based on a play by Clifford Odets, and in 1953, The Big Heat featured a stellar performance by Glenn Ford.  Lang made a pair of related films in India—Tiger of Bengal and The Tomb of Love (also known as The Indian Tomb), both released in 1959—that were edited into the single film Journey to the Lost City for its United States release the following year.  He returned to Germany in 1960, where he directed his final film, Die 1000 Augen des Dr. Mabuse (The Thousand Eyes of Dr. Mabuse), before retiring in Los Angeles, California, where he passed away in 1976.

 

Large Hadron Collider (LHC)

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is a particle accelerator developed by CERN (Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire, which is French for European Laboratory for Particle Physics) near Geneva, the world’s largest organization devoted to particle physics.  A particle accelerator, sometimes called an “atom smasher” by laymen, is a device that uses intense magnetic fields generated by superconductivity to propel subatomic particles called hadrons at high speeds around a circular underground tunnel 27 km (16.8 miles) in circumference, around which two streams of hadrons are sent in opposite directions before being brought together in a high-energy collision.  Machines such as the LHC make it possible to split particles into smaller and smaller components, in the quest to identify elementary particles, from which all matter and energy might derive.  The LHC began operation on September 10, 2008, and it is expected to replicate, on a miniature scale, the conditions existing in the universe only a tiny fraction of time after the Big Bang.  Thus, it may be possible to discern what happened in the early evolutional stages of the universe. Among other possible outcomes, the LHC may yield evidence of further dimensions beyond our familiar four (length, width, height and time), and the collider is expected to help physicists, astronomers and cosmologists answer questions about the nature and origins of matter, energy and the universe.

 

Larp(ing)
See Live-action role-play(ing).

 

Larson, Gary

Born in Tacoma, Washington in 1950, the cartoonist and creator of The Far Side was an avid reader of comics from a young age, but art wasn’t his first love.  Science – and more specifically, biology – was.  Larson graduated from Washington State University in 1972 with a degree in Communications.  He had planned to pursue a career in writing television commercials, but upon graduation he formed a jazz duo with himself on guitar and banjo while a friend played trombone and keyboard.  His duo folded after three years, and then he found a job at a music store in Lynwood, Washington. He soon realized that this job wasn’t meant for him, and decided to concentrate on drawing.  He took some samples of his work to the editor of a magazine called Pacific Search in Seattle.  The editor loved them, and Larson quit his job at the music store to begin writing comics for a living.  This comic, called Nature’s Way, was described by Larson as a “Mesozoic Far Side.”

Drawing didn’t earn much at first, so Larson got a job as an investigator for the local Humane Society, but a reporter showed Larson’s cartoon work to an editor at the Seattle Times, and soon after, Nature’s Way was being published in the children’s section of the Times’ Saturday paper.  During a 1979 vacation, Larson drove down to San Francisco with his portfolio of comics, and approached the San Francisco Chronicle with it.  This soon led to a syndication contract for Nature’s Way, but the editors changed the single-panel strip’s name to The Far Side.  This turned out to be perfect timing, as the Seattle Times dropped Nature’s Way upon Larson’s return to Washington.  On January 1, 1980, the new strip debuted in the San Francisco Chronicle.  Slowly syndicated by more and more newspapers, The Far Side thrived for fourteen years, until Larson retired from creating the daily panels on January 1, 1995.  At that time, the panel was appearing in more than 1,900 daily and Sunday newspapers worldwide.  Quite a number of best-selling Far Side collections have been produced over the years, and Larson has also received many awards for it, including the Reuben Award for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year, and the Max & Moritz Prize for Best International Comic Strip/Panel.  Larson has also completed two animated films, Gary Larson’s Tales From The Far Side I and II, which were completed in 1994 and 1997, and were screened at international film festivals.  It’s also worth noting that Larson had a newly discovered species of chewing louse named after him in 1989: the Strigiphilus garylarsoni.

 

Laserdisc

Also called a video disc, this predecessor to compact discs (CDs) and digital video discs (DVDs) was literally a disc with video and audio signals stored on it as an analog signal, played back by laser.  The material recorded onto the disc was stamped onto the disk similar to how compact discs are produced.  The earliest disc to contain recorded images appeared in 1928 when the Scottish inventor John Logie Baird developed the Phonodisc, a 250 mm, 78 rpm record, similar to the discs being produced for sound recording at that time.  On the Phonodisc, a 30-line television signal was recorded.  Despite its novelty, the Phonodisc was not a commercial success, and the idea was abandoned in 1936.

Early optical Laserdisc technology was devised by David Paul Gregg in 1958.  By the time he patented his transparent videodisc system in 1961, and again in 1969, he decided to sell the patents to electronics manufacturer Philips.  Philips had already been working on a reflective videodisc system at the time, and gaining ownership of Gregg’s invention helped them push the technology forward.  They teamed up with MCA, an entertainment company that owned the rights to the largest catalog of films at the time, to marry feature films with the Laserdisc technology to sell them to consumers.

In the late 1970s, Philips and Sony brought laserdiscs, which recorded images and sound as tiny pits on the surface of the disc, to the market.  Pioneer originally made use of the format as a form of karaoke entertainment, which made the format popular in commercial circles of Asia.  Collaboratively, Philips and MCA demonstrated the technology in 1972 and made it available for consumers on December 15, 1978.  Philips manufactured the hardware players and MCA made the discs.  The format went by many names (including DiscoVision at one point!), but most referred to it as laserdisc.  The first title to release in North America on the new format was Jaws.  Up until the mid-1980s, laserdisc players used helium-neon laser tubes to read discs, and when Pioneer came along, they adopted consumer players with solid-state lasers.  Laserdiscs were never really widely accepted, as discs could not be used to record and viewers were restricted to pre-recorded films.  Starting in the late 1980s into the 1990s, Pioneer and other manufacturers starting making LD combination players that could read LD, CD, and DVD formats. In 1992, Sony invented the Muse Laserdisc format for the Japanese market.  Also known as Hi-Vision, the Muse format boasted high-definition video playback and required a 16×9 aspect ratio and a dedicated Muse player.

In addition, the hardware was expensive, and the average user was content with videotape technology.  Despite a last push from the format to showcase its superior video and audio capabilities, laserdiscs were largely superseded by a new format based on a dual-layer CD called DVD, and were never really widely accepted, as laserdiscs could not be used to record, and viewers were restricted to pre-recorded films.  In addition, the hardware was expensive, and the average user was content with videotape technology.  Unlike the older players like the Magnavox Magnavision, Pioneer’s new models featured front-loaders instead of top-loaders.  The solid-state laser diode players had many advantages over the older players.  For example, they featured a tilt-servo mechanism that physically tilted the player’s laser table base so that it would stay parallel with the disc at all times, even if an external vibration source sat below the player.  The two last titles released were Paramount’s Sleepy Hollow and Bringing out the Dead in 2000.  Laserdiscs continued to sell in Japan until the end of 2001.  The format effectively died on January 16, 2009, but discs can still be purchased today.

 

Lasseter, John

A pioneer of modern computer-generated animation that dominated the mid- to late 1990s, writer/producer/director/animator John Lasseter was born on January 12, 1957 in Hollywood, California.  Lasseter started out doing traditional hand-drawn work.  Shortly after high school graduation, Lasseter became only the second student to be accepted into Disney’s new animation program at the California Institute of the Arts.  During the summers, he worked as an apprentice at the Disney Studios.  While in school, he created two short films, Lady and the Lamp and Nitemare, both of which won Student Academy Awards.  After graduating from the Institute, Lasseter was hired by the Disney feature animation department and spent the next five years there, working on such animated features as The Fox and the Hound (1981) and the short Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983).

In 1982, Lasseter received his first exposure to computer animation during the production of Disney’s Tron.  Intrigued by the possibilities of the radical new medium, he and colleague Glen Keane made a very short film based on Maurice Sendak’s classic children’s book Where the Wild Things Are that combined simple computer animation with hand-drawn characters.  In 1984, Lasseter left Disney to join the computer animation division of Lucasfilm’s Industrial Light and Magic.  Initially, he only planned on working there for a month, but six months later when the department was purchased by Steven Jobs, he was still there.  Jobs named the new company Pixar and gave Lasseter the freedom to direct, produce, write and create models for many projects, including television commercials.

In 1988, Lasseter released the first completely computer animated short, Tin Toy, and won an Oscar for Best Achievement in Animated Short Films.  In the early ‘90s, Lasseter and three writers developed the script for the groundbreaking Toy Story (1995).  To make the film, Pixar teamed up with Disney, and with Lasseter at the helm, the result was an eye-popping adventure, in which the toys had almost as much dimension and detail as live-action.  The film received four Oscar nominations, and Lasseter was presented with a Special Achievement Academy Award for his part in bringing the first feature-length computer animated film to the screen.

This marked only the first in a series of feature-length blockbusters that turned computer-generated (CG) animation on its head while enchanting children and adults alike.  Continuing as the head of Pixar’s creative department after Toy Story, Lasseter became the central creative and entrepreneurial force behind all of the studio’s subsequent efforts, with his high-octane imagination driving feature after feature.  His accomplishments include directing A Bug’s Life (1998), Toy Story 2 (1999), and Cars (2006), which he co-wrote and co-directed with his close friend, the late animator Joe Ranft, just prior to Ranft’s death in August 2005.  Very close to Lasseter’s heart due to his lifelong love of automobiles, Cars went on to capture the first-ever Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature.  Lasseter also executive produced Monsters, Inc. (2001), Finding Nemo (2003), and The Incredibles (2004), all of which not only broke box-office records, but became critical sensations in their respective years.

As astonishing as it is to top these stellar accomplishments, Lasseter’s career, reputation and future shot skyward in early 2006 when Disney officially acquired Pixar, and promoted Lasseter to lead Walt Disney Feature Animation and proclaimed him the savior of the entire company, from its feature-length animations to its video and cable sales to its feature films.  He continued to oversee the remarkable run of Pixar movies that came out through the end of the decade, but didn’t return to the director’s chair himself until Cars 2 in 2011.

 

Last known good configuration

A startup option in versions NT and later of the Windows operating system (OS) which pulls up a copy of the most recent system hardware configuration and driver settings that worked correctly, taken from the system’s registry when the OS successfully boots.  The configuration is purposely stored when Windows detects a problem in the boot process in case a subsequent boot process fails.  This configuration record often comes in handy after the installation of new drivers or devices, which may cause system errors.  Every time a computer is shut off and Windows shuts down successfully, important system settings are saved in the registry.  Each time the OS successfully boots, it replaces the previous last known good configuration record with the new one from the most recent successful boot.

 

Last Starfighter, The

After finally achieving the high score on the Starfighter arcade game, teenager Alex Rogan meets the game’s designer: an alien who reveals that he created Starfighter as a training device for developing and recruiting actual pilots to help fight a war in space.  Whisked away to a distant planet, Alex struggles to use his video game-playing skills to pilot a real ship, with real lives at stake.  The 1984 Universal Pictures release starred Lance Guest, Robert Preston and Catherine Mary Stewart.

 

Last Unicorn, The

See Beagle, Peter.

 

Latchkey kids

See “Generation X.”

 

Latency

Essentially, any delay or lapse in time in a computer’s processing functions.  In general, it is the time between initiating a request in the computer and receiving the requested answer or action.  Data latency may refer to the time between a query and the results arriving at the screen, or the time between initiating a transaction that modifies one or more databases and its completion.  Disk latency is the time it takes for the selected sector to be positioned under the read/write head.  Channel latency is the time it takes for a computer channel to become unoccupied in order to transfer data.  Network latency is the delay introduced when a packet is momentarily stored, analyzed and then forwarded.  With malicious software, latency is the period between infection and the first obvious damage to the host system.

 

Laufey

In Norse mythology, the giantess mother of Loki. Also known as Nál (which meant “needle,” due to her slender and weak physique), Laufey conceived Loki with the giant Fárbauti.  Afterward, some stories say that Laufey gave birth to Loki when a lightning bolt thrown by Fárbauti struck her.  Laufy apparently did not raise Loki, since most sources say the trickster god was a foster brother of Odin, the most powerful Norse god.  Some say that Laufey is not a giantess, but a goddess.  The main evidence for this is her name, which may mean “leafy island,” which does not sound like a name given to a giantess. (They tend to go for names suggesting cold, mountains or other inhospitable terrain.)

In contrast to legend, Laufey is represented in the Marvel comic and cinematic worlds as male.  He is the father of Loki and king of the frost giants of Jotunheim.  In the 2011 film Thor, Laufey was portrayed by Colm Feore.

 

Law, John

Scottish economist, banker, merchant, statesman and originator of the “Mississippi scheme” (also known as the “Mississippi bubble”) for the development of French territories in America, John Law (1671-1729) studied mathematics, commerce and political economy in London.  After killing an adversary in a 1694 duel, Law was sentenced to death.  He initially fled to Amsterdam, where he studied banking operations.  A decade later, he returned to Scotland and wrote his best-known work, Money and Trade Considered, with a Proposal for Supplying the Nation with Money, first published in 1705.  His extensive travels during his exile, which lasted until 1717 when he was pardoned by King George I, enabled him to study diverse economic institutions and conditions abroad.  He submitted his banking reform plan to the Scottish parliament, but it was rejected.  Over the next twenty years, Law made proposals for the establishment of banks, both in Scotland and Europe, and these efforts eventually culminated in the founding of the first Bank of France.

The French government was heavily in debt as a result of the extensive wars of Louis XIV, who died in 1715.  Law’s program, which promised to reduce the public debt, held obvious appeal.  Law, who believed that money was a creative force in economic development and that an increase in its quantity would stimulate a larger national product and increase national power, founded a bank in Paris with the authority to issue notes.  Early in 1717, Law first became involved in the financial scheme eventually known as the “Mississippi Bubble” (the area now known as the state of Louisiana being commonly called “Mississippi” at that time).   Later he combined his bank with the Louisiana Company, which had exclusive privileges to develop the vast French territories in the Mississippi Valley of North America.  Law’s plan worked well for a few years, but ran afoul of speculative complications and political intrigue, neither of which were directly attributable to Law.  As the author of the program, Law was held responsible and fled France in 1720.  He died in Venice a poor man.

 

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, The (film)

 

 

 

Based on Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s graphic novel series, the story takes place in an alternate 1899 where the fictional characters of the Victorian era live.  A team of literary legends from that era (including Allan Quatermain, vampiress Mina Harker from Dracula, the Invisible Man, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Tom Sawyer, Captain Nemo and Dorian Gray) are recruited to stop a villain intent on turning the nations of the world against each other.  The film featured Sean Connery as Quatermain, Stuart Townsend as Dorian Gray.

 

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, The (graphic novel series)

Writer Alan Moore and artist Kevin O’Neill’s graphic novel series was first conceived around the time Moore was writing the Jack the Ripper-themed graphic novel From Hell and the original serialization of Lost Girls in the Taboo anthology in the late 1980s.  Moore’s concept brought together the literary heroes and antiheroes of the Victorian era in a kind of parallel Earth, where the fictional characters of the era are real and can intersect, team up, and undermine nefarious schemes with increasingly preposterous measures.  It was a concept fully owned by the creators, so it could be published elsewhere in the years following Moore’s final split with DC Comics and what remained of Wildstorm Comics.  Though the second half of the first League series would lean more toward O’Neill’s bombastic preferences in showing a London under siege, he does a more-than-admirable job portraying the underlying conflicts and convincingly mashing up these characters from various sources.

Throughout the series, such recognizable characters as Dr. Henry Jekyll, his alter-ego Mr. Hyde, Allan Quatermain, Campion Bond (the alluded grandfather of James Bond), Mina Harker Murray of the Dracula tales, Captain Nemo, and Hawley Griffin, also known as the Invisible Man.  (H.G. Wells’ original character was only referred to as “Griffin,” and in 1933, Claude Rains starred as The Invisible Man as the character Dr. Jack Griffin.)  Featuring such creative period-constructed contraptions as Chinese war-kites, aerial cannons, a flying death ray, and a hot air balloon, the popular series ended in a set-up for the next series, and the characters and concept spawned a 2003 film that starred Sean Connery as Quatermain and Stuart Townsend as Dorian Gray.

 

LED

See Light-emitting diode (LED).

 

Leda

In Greek mythology, Leda, the daughter of King Thestius of Aetolia, was a contemporary of Herakles, who had set her husband Tyndareus on the throne of Sparta.  Leda was the wife of King Tyndareus and queen of Sparta, who was seduced by Zeus in the guise of a swan.  There are several versions of the legend in terms of the actual birth of her children.  Some tales say she laid an egg from which were hatched the Dioskouroi twins, Kastor and Polydeukes, both sons of Zeus.  Others relate that she laid two eggs, each of which contained one child of the god–Polydeukes in one and Helene in the other.  Still others relate that the second egg containing Helene was delivered to Leda by the goddess Nemesis, who had lain with Zeus in the guise of a goose.  (The egg was shown to tourists in Sparta in the 2nd century ad, according to the travel writer Pausanias.)  Some ancient writers portray Leda as the mother (by Tyndareus) of Clytemnestra, who would become wife of King Agamemnon.

Her sons, the Dioskouroi, joined the expedition of the Argonauts and the Kalydonian Boar Hunt, albeit at a very young age, while her daughters, Helene and Klytaimnestra, were wives of Trojan War heroes.  In an ancient Greek vase painting, the generational gap between the sons and daughters of Leda is clearly represented: where Helene is depicted hatching from the egg, her fully grown brothers stand by as witnesses.  Later, the Dioskouroi led an army to Athens when Theseus kidnapped their ten-year-old sister.

The divine swan’s encounter with Leda was a subject depicted by both ancient Greek and Italian Renaissance artists; Leonardo da Vinci undertook a painting (now lost) of the theme, and Correggio’s Leda (c. 1530s) is a well-known treatment of the subject.  William Butler Yeats’ “Leda and the Swan” is one of the classic poems of literary modernism.

 

Lee, Stan

Born Stanley Martin Lieber on December 28, 1922 in New York City, Stan Lee was hired as an office assistant at Timely Comics in 1939 and became an interim editor for the company in the early 1940s.  After Timely changed its name to Marvel Comics in the early ’60s, Lee was called upon by his boss to create a series that could compete with rival DC Comics‘ hit title Justice League of America.  Together with artist and co-creator Jack Kirby, the Fantastic Four was born in 1961. A slew of new Marvel characters soon followed, including The Incredible Hulk, Spider-Man, Daredevil and the X-Men.

Unique in the genre of comic books, Stan Lee became well-known for his imperfect and very human characters, who tackled real-world issues like alcoholism, bigotry and drug use.

Over the years, Lee has appeared on television and in film, notably so in the cinematic depictions of the Marvel characters that he helped to create.

 

Leet

Short/informal form of the word “elite.”  The word is commonly used in video/online gamer text communications to suggest that a player is skilled.  Such skilled players also engage in Leetspeak and are referred to as Leetspeakers.

 

Leetspeak

An informal internet language, jargon or code originating in the 1980s, in which standard letters are often replaced by numerals or special characters (ex: !337$p3@k for leetspeak).  Originally used by “leet” hackers to evade detection of their websites/newsgroups by search engines via simple keyword searches, the invented language grew in common online usage, and became very popular in online games such as Doom in the early 1990s.  In leetspeak, the rules of standard English are rarely obeyed.  For example, a leetspeaker may capitalize every consonant or every other letter, or they may omit the vowels in a word.

 

Leetspeaker

A skilled (or “leet”) computer hacker/gamer/user who commonly uses leetspeak in their online communications.

 

Legend of Zelda

A dark wizard, a princess in peril, and an adventurous boy.  The timeless story provided Shigeru Miyamoto with a skeleton of a story for a video game, which he developed for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES).  In 1985, Miyamoto began work on the two games that would come to define the system more than any others.  The first was Super Mario Brothers, and the second was The Legend of Zelda.

As the game’s tale goes, a long time ago in an age of chaos, the legend of the Triforce, golden triangles possessing mystical powers, was handed down from generation to generation in the little kingdom of Hyrule.  One day, an evil army led by Ganon, the powerful Prince of Darkness who sought to plunge the world into fear and darkness under his rule, stole the Triforce of Power.  Fearing his wicked rule, Zelda, Hyrule’s princess, split up the Triforce of Wisdom into eight fragments, then hid the fragments throughout the realm.  She also commanded her most trustworthy nursemaid, Impa, to secretly escape into the land and seek out a man with enough courage to destroy the evil Ganon.  A young lad named Link appeared and skillfully drove off Ganon’s henchmen, saving Impa from a fate worse than death.  Link resolved to bring the scattered eight fragments of the Triforce of Wisdom together, to defeat the powerful Ganon and to save Zelda.

A player of The Legend of Zelda controlled Link, a small boy on an epic quest to collect the fragments and re-assemble the Triforce, as he explored a large map of the land.  Using exploration elements, transport puzzles, adventure-style inventory puzzles, an action component, a monetary system and simplified level building, The Legend of Zelda bucked much of the conventional wisdom about game design in Japan, creating something that resembled Warren Robinett’s Adventure and Howard Scott Warshaw’s Indiana Jones for the Atari 2600, yet drew on many original ideas and helped to establish a new sub-genre of action-adventure that remains popular to this day in its various evolved forms.

One year later, Nintendo followed The Legend of Zelda up with Zelda II: The Adventure of Link.

 

Lego

Founded in 1932 by master carpenter and joiner Ole Kirk Kristiansen in Billund, Denmark, The LEGO Group has passed from father to son, and is now owned by Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, the founder’s grandson.  The name “LEGO” was taken from the Danish words “leg godt,” which mean “play well.”  (Coincidentally, it is later realized that in Latin, the word means “I put together.”)  Originally a small carpenter’s workshop manufacturing stepladders, ironing boards, stools and wooden toys, the company has grown to become one of the world’s largest manufacturers of toys.  In 1946, LEGO became the first company in Denmark to buy a plastic injection-molding machine for toy production.  In 1948, LEGO produced a game of Tiddlywinks, and by 1949, the company was producing around 200 different plastic and wooden toys, including “Automatic Binding Bricks,” a forerunner of the modern LEGO bricks sold exclusively in Denmark.  By 1951, plastic toys would account for half of the company’s products.

In 1958, Ole Kirk Kristiansen passed away and his son Godtfred Kirk Christiansen became head of the company.  In 1969, Lego launched its new DUPLO series internationally, targeted for children under five, with bigger pieces for smaller hands, with the DUPLO Factory eventually becoming an independent unit in the LEGO Group.  By 1962, sales start in Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, Morocco, Japan and Australia.  By 1990, The LEGO Group was one of the world’s 10 largest toy manufacturers, and the only one in the top 10 located in Europe (with the others headquartered in America and Japan).  In 1992, LEGO Japan and LEGO Hungary are established.  In 1995, Godtfred Kirk Christiansen passed away and his son Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen took over as CEO.  Four years later, The LEGO brick was named as one of the “Products of the Century” by Fortune Magazine.  Not only did the LEGO brick celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2008, but LEGO owner Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen was inducted into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame (US).  In 2010, The LEGO Group is declared the world’s third largest toy manufacturer in terms of sales.  In the beginning of February 2014, in a brand-new venture for the toy company, The LEGO Movie premiered in a number of countries.

 

Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards

Sometime during 1986, programmer/designer Al Lowe and programmer Ken Williams produced the first “child-unfriendly” video game, set in an adults-only world full of loose women, drunks and, of course, leisure suits.  The then-popular Compuserve online system was used to invite beta testers, and after two months of testing and modifications, Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards hit the shelves.  Although the first incarnation of Larry was greeted by critical acclaim, its initial sales were extremely poor: only 4,000 copies were sold in the game’s first month.  Lowe was left considering his future and when a programming slot came up on Police Quest 1, he jumped at it.  Meanwhile, Larry kept selling and positive word-of-mouth soon spread.  Despite considerable opposition to the game, as well as a bill being put forward banning all adult content from games and some stores even refusing to stock the title, Larry picked up the Software Publishers Association’s “Best Adventure/Fantasy Role-Playing Game” award for 1987, and a whole string of “sequel” games were produced.

 

Level-based progression

Also known as “leveling up,” the act of gaining enough points (or power, energy, etc.) to gain access to the next level of a game.  In general, progressive levels involved more difficult situations or tasks to accomplish in order to proceed.

 

Licklider, J.C.R.

In 1962, Dr. Joseph Carl Robnett Licklider wrote a series of memos, formulating the earliest ideas of a global network, which would eventually become the internet.  Creating the term “Intergalactic computer network,” Licklider outlined ideas for what we now commonly know as cloud computing, online banking, e-commerce (also known as “e-tail”), digital libraries, user-friendly interfaces, and graphical computing.  While serving as a director of the U.S. Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), it was Licklider’s detailed descriptions of the challenges of creating a time-share network of computers and computer data that would lead to the creation of ARPAnet, which would eventually be overshadowed by the internet.  Licklider died in the 1990, the same year in which ARPAnet was shut down.

 

Lieber, Stanley Martin

See Lee, Stan.

 

Life in Hell

In 1977, shortly after future Simpsons creator Matt Groening moved to Los Angeles, he started drawing little cartoons for his friends to illustrate how miserable he was in his new home, using nervous-looking rabbits as his characters.  He titled the comics “Life In Hell,” and eventually started publishing a weekly strip under that name in the Los Angeles Reader.  By 1984, Groening collected some of the Life In Hell strips under the title Love Is Hell, and sold enough copies of that first version of the book that in 1986, copies of Groening’s book started popping up in the Humor section of chain bookstores.  Random House’s Pantheon put out a 1986 “special new mini-jumbo edition,” and in that same year, released Work Is Hell, then School Is Hell in 1987 and Childhood Is Hell in 1988.

The timing couldn’t have been better.  The mid-1980s were a boom time for new newspaper strips, which meant the Hell books sat on the shelves next to best-selling anthologies of Calvin And HobbesBloom County and Gary Larson’s The Far Side, and appealed to readers who already loved those comics’ mix of sarcasm, surrealism and sweetness.  The first four books became popular, especially on college campuses. They became an even bigger deal after Groening started contributing animated Simpsons shorts to the Fox network’s The Tracey Ullman Show in 1987.  Reportedly, producer James L. Brooks originally wanted to option Life In Hell, but Groening balked at the studio’s copyright demands.

Even after The Simpsons became a mammoth success, Groening kept turning out weekly Life In Hell cartoons, sticking with it even as alt-weeklies either died off or slimmed down, effectively killing the market for these kinds of syndicated features. Groening finally ended Life In Hell in 2012, leaving behind a body of work as consistent and culturally valuable in its way as Zap Comix. Groening’s focus changed somewhat over the decades, as he drew more cartoons about his own life and his own kids (the latter strips eventually collected as the charming book Will And Abe’s Guide To The Universe), or spent weeks on end documenting the dadaist adventures of the lookalike brothers/lovers (no one’s really sure which they are!) Akbar and Jeff.  But he remained committed throughout Life In Hell’s run to conveying common life experiences, in a world that kept getting more fractured.

 

Light-emitting diode (LED)

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An electronic semiconductor device that emits visible light when an electrical current is passed through it.  A light-emitting diode (LED) consists of two elements of processed material called P-type semiconductors and N-type semiconductors.  These two elements are placed in direct contact, forming a large region called the P-N junction, the shape of which is tailored to the application.  Benefits of LEDs, compared with incandescent and fluorescent illuminating devices, include low power requirement, high efficiency and long life.  Early LEDs produced only red light, but modern LEDs can produce several different colors, including red, green, and blue.  Advances in LED technology have made it possible for LEDs to produce white light, as well.

Commonly used for indicator lights on electronic devices, such as power on/off lights, LEDs have several other applications, including electronic signs, clock displays, and flashlights.  Since LEDs are energy efficient and have a long lifespan (often more than 100,000 hours), they have begun to replace traditional light bulbs in several areas, including street lights, car lights, and various types of decorative lighting.  The energy efficient nature of LEDs also allows them to produce brighter light than other types of bulbs, while simultaneously using less energy.  The output from an LED can range from red (at a wavelength of approximately 700 nanometers) to blue-violet (about 400 nanometers). Some LEDs emit infrared (IR) energy (830 nanometers or longer); such a device is known as an infrared-emitting diode (IRED).  For this reason, traditional flat-screen liquid crystal displays (LCDs) have started to be replaced by LED displays.  LED TVs and computer monitors are typically brighter and thinner than their LCD counterparts.

 

Light-year

A unit of distance equal to the distance light can travel in one mean solar year, or approximately 5.88 trillion miles (9.46 trillion kilometers).

 

Lightsaber

Described by Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope as an “elegant weapon for a more civilized age,” a light saber is essentially a beam of energy, focused through a crystal so pure that it gives the beam mass, plus the ability to cut through solid objects.  A basic lightsaber consists of a metal hilt about one foot long that features a button, which engages and disengages the energy beam.  When the lightsaber is active, a power cell sends energy through one or more crystals stored in the hilt.  The beam (or “blade”) projects about three feet from the hilt before the energy charge arcs back on itself, creating a full circuit.  If two lightsabers connect in a duel, they will repel each other because all crystals are of the same composition, even if they come from different regions of the universe.

Although Jedi knights first experimented with lightsaber technology around 15,500 BBY (Before The Battle of Yavin), the lightsaber did not become the standard Jedi weapon until around 4,800 BBY.  It is well-suited to a Jedi’s quick reflexes, since it serves as both sword and shield, allowing a Jedi to deflect blaster bolts and even redirect them towards other targets.  The color of the blade is determined by the type of crystal housed in the hilt.  (The different lightsaber colors originally indicated different classes in the Jedi Order, but this system eventually fell out of use.)

Lightsabers are not mass-produced; rather, they are very personalized weapons.  Creating a lightsaber is one of the final steps of a Jedi’s training.  The Jedi trainee (or padawan, as they are called) must meditate over the lightsaber crystals, surrounding and filling them with Force energy that affects the weapon’s power and special characteristics.  The hilt is created by the padawan, and usually patterned after the hilt belonging to his master, to show respect.  A well-crafted lightsaber is not just a weapon, but an extension of the Jedi’s connection to The Force.

 

Ligne clair

Meaning “the clear line,” this drawing type is characterized by a systematic outline, with a black line of relatively uniform thickness.  Setting colors using the process of flat tints, without shades or gradients, this technique abolishes maximum use of hatching (the creation of colors through the use of closely spaced parallel lines).

The popularity of American comics overshadowed significant European comics being produced at the same time, but the advent of World War II and Germany’s invasions into Belgium and France dwindled the possibility of importing American comics to nothing.  Faced with a growing demand for the increasingly popular medium, many publishers began to foster local, distinctly European, comic artists.  This brief period of time between the invasion of Germany and the end of World War II created a prime opportunity for European artists and their comics to come into their own.  The most influential of these artists was Hergé, creator of the popular boys’ comic The Adventures of Tintin.

The use of ligne claire hit its peak during the 1950s.  Hergé and his contemporaries overwhelmingly defined the art style of European comics, as the artists eventually left the Tintin magazine and started on their own ventures.  By the 1960s, however, ligne claire began to go out of style when a new crop of comic artists came onto the scene. Considered old fashioned, the crisp, detailed lines were soon replaced with the cartoony proportions of comics such as Albert Uderzo’s Asterix and Morris’ Lucky Luke.  However, ligne claire did make a bit of a comeback a decade later.  The first to coin the term “ligne claire,” Dutch artist and graphic designer Joost Swarte was a defining factor in the ligne claire resurgence.  This resurgence reached all the way through France and continued into the 1980s with the popularity of Yves Chaland, Ted Benoit and other French artists.  The style was also used by British artist Geof Darrow in his collaboration with Frank Miller on “Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot” in 1996.

Linotype

  1. A typesetting machine, operated by a keyboard, that produces an entire line of type as one solid slug of metal, used chiefly for newspapers.
  2. Type produced by such a machine.

 

Little Wooden Boy, The

Constructed by The Tick on “Hobby Night” while his sidekick Arthur was on a date, The Little Wooden Boy was featured in Ben Edlund’s Fox cartoon series The Tick in the first episode of the second season, “The Little Wooden Boy and the Belly of Love,” which first aired on September 9, 1995.

 

Live-action role-play(ing)

Also referred to by its acronym, “larp(ing),” it can be considered a form of theatre, a game, an exercise, a social gathering, a competition, and even a form of time travel!  Described by some as “grown-up make-believe,” larping involves enacting medieval competitions and battles in full dress and a realistic, though non-lethal, form of combat using durable foam weapons.  Imaginary worlds can be created, each with its own rules and guidelines, in which a larping event will take place, and participants must abide by these parameters.  Larping events can involve a live audience, as well.

 

LiveScript

See JavaScript.