Comic Notes – The Incredible Hulk

In Wizard: The Guide to Comics, Vol. 1 No. 6, February 1992, there is an interview that explores the most influential aspect of Peter David’s 12 year run writing The Incredible HulkHulk’s multiple personality disorder. Its root cause of child abuse comes fully into view in The Incredible Hulk #376-377. David mentions that he was not the originator of this idea as it was included in Bill Mantlo’s The Incredible Hulk #312. However, it was an idea Mantlo did not want to develop any further.

The Incredible Hulk #372 cover literally expressing Hulk’s splitting personalities.

These ideas would be brought to light again in Ang Lee’s 2003 film, Hulk.

Quick Reviews – Videogames

In Alphabetical Order

1942 (NES, 1986) This vertically scrolling shooter from CAPCOM is a port of the arcade game by the same name in which you fly a WWII fighter plane through waves of enemy planes. It’s a top down view 2D game though some 3D movements are simulated. This NES port has levels similar to the original but the port has a slower game speed, thus its levels are more survivable. 1942 always feels consistently structured, even when new enemy plane types are introduced. Before long you will smoothly dodge and effortlessly destroy your enemies. However, the game flow is not infallible. Shots fired at you and some enemy planes are difficult to see when flying over land. There are not many types of power-ups, but they hold enough interest and value to risk a plane/life going after them. The ability to “continue” gameplay after death is unlimited (no quarters required) and allows you to get further in the game without having to start again from the first level. Complete the game because you enjoy it, not to view the ending screen. Or you will be disappointed. Overall: Smooth, often seamless, arcade shooter. Rating: 778 [Posted 12/1/19]

Midnight Magic (Atari 2600, 1986) In this pinball videogame from Atari you have 5 plays/balls and 4 flippers. Moving the joystick to the side operates the flippers on each corresponding side and pulling the joystick back uses all 4 flippers simultaneously. This is a sharp looking table with plenty of features to interact with. And the 4 flippers keep you busy. Once you knock out all the color tiles at the top of the board, the table turns blue and gives you a x2 multiplier. This was my favorite effect and gave me something to shoot for in subsequent plays. Overall: Surprisingly addictive classy pinball action. Rating: 685 [Posted 12/15/19]

Oink! (Atari 2600, 1983) In this game from Activision, you take control of each of three pigs in order to defend your homes against the powerful breath of the wolf. The wolf will blow away pieces of the house until he has a clear shot, then will attempt to use his breath to suck you in to him. You spend your time frantically rebuilding the house to block the wolf from sucking you in. There is no way to win, per se. You are delaying your doom long enough to rack up a high score. The characters in this drama are big and chunky which makes them pretty darn cute. The action is solid and there is a bit of strategy involved but the game gets repetitive, even tiring before long. Thankfully the game pauses on its own after the destruction of the straw (yellow) and wood (brown) houses, giving you a chance to rest. Overall: Adorable frantic action that gets old fast. Rating: 455 [Posted 12/7/19]

River Raid (Atari 2600, 1982) Vertically scrolling shooter from Activision. You control a jet shooting down or avoiding enemies. Oddly, you can’t fly over land, so you will crash if you hit the river bank. This game has some interesting features like the ability to accelerate/decelerate, the regular need for fuel and opposing jets flashing across the screen. Without these features the game would be dull but with them it’s difficult to gain any momentum. Overall: Prepare to be blown to bits often. Rating: 546 [Posted 1/6/20]

Vulgus (Arcade, 1984) In this vertically scrolling shooter from CAPCOM, you are being chased relentlessly. Even though some enemies will begin with a predictable pattern, their next moves will be determined by your own. This means you are never really comfortable and although the controls are velvety you may find yourself moving frenetically to avoid enemies. You will operate a twin shooter with unlimited fire that also has missiles that can cut through multiple ships. There are power-ups but don’t try too hard to grab them. Ships/lives are very important since there are no “continues.” You can easily be surprised by enemy ships coming on screen from the top and sides. So you may want to stay towards the bottom center when able. The graphics are attractive with a nice variety of landscapes and enemy types, but nothing too ambitious. Overall: Clean arcade twin shooter in which you are the prey. Rating: 652 [Posted 12/4/19; reviewed using Capcom Classics Collection Vol. 1 (PS2)]

Verse – James Patrick Kelly

The Two Cultures

for John Swope

The scientist says
that all that we know exploded
from an inscrutable spark.
The universe swelled like a bubble.
Galaxies clumped and swirled.
Planets danced around a yellow sun.
Rain scattered across breeding seas.
The scientist says
that the spark that made the stars
made us.

The artist asks
that we pause some night beside the water
and feel the restless sky teaching
the stars within us.
There is only one commandment:
create, create.
That's why we cling to each other
and make new worlds with our bodies.
The artist asks only
that we honor the spark.

- James Patrick Kelly

Issac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, Vol. 16 No. 6, May 1992, p. 61.

Quick Reviews – Adventure Novels

In Order by Rating

Conan and the Spider God (L. Sprague De Camp, 1980) Although this is not a story by Robert E. Howard, it feels like it could have been. It reads fast like a prototypical adventure book. This novel fills in a few gaps and helps connect a larger narrative for the barbarian warrior king. More importantly, it’s a clever, entertaining Conan story that never tries too hard. Rating: 800 [Posted 12/15/19]

Haakon: The Golden Ax (Eric Neilson, 1984) It’s the dip into the supernatural that brings this realistic (for a non-scholar) story up a notch. The action wanes in the second half but the fantastic clamorous start and strong ending make up for it. Rating: 720 [Posted 12/15/19]

The Spell Sword (Marion Zimmer Bradley, 1974) When reading this novel it often feels like it could be more, but it settles in as a better than average “save the princess” tale. Rating: 650 [Posted 12/15/19]

What Does it Mean to Do Math?

Gurps1.jpgThe GURPS Basic Set which contains rules for the paper and pencil roleplaying game designed by Steve Jackson describes an ability that you can bestow on a character you are creating.

Lightning Calculator – You have the ability to do math in your head, instantly. If you have this talent, then you (the player) may use a calculator at any time, to figure anything you want – even if your character is fleeing for his life at the time!

This description seems to imply that doing math and calculating are the same thing. Do you agree or disagree? Make your case.

Videogame Notes: R-Type

Videogame, Gameboy, 1991

In 1991, we didn’t have a Game Boy Player (2003) to install on our Gamecube (2001) with a WaveBird Wireless Controller (2002). These upgrades make the gameplay of some Game Boy titles, including R-Type, obscenely better.

R-Type is a port of a horizontal shooter coin-op. It’s a stripped down version that plays very well, making good use of a limited color palette. Your ship and enemies (that aren’t bosses) use red and environments use green/blue. The colors and shading pop on the white background. It’s a stark contrast built for the low light of an original Game Boy screen and I love the lack of busyness on screen. It’s challenging from the beginning but there’s a variety of cool power-ups to help you along the way. Plus, you can hold down the fire button to increase the power of your shot. Replaying levels is not so bad when you have multiple ways of dispatching your foes. Enemies are imaginatively drawn aliens or tech and the structure is a common one with stages ending with an outsized boss.

Fantastic shooter with a high replay value requiring critical thinking just as much as quick reflexes.

How Tall is a Giant?

imgresINTRODUCTION TO SCALING – Prerequisite for 5.NF.B.5a/b – This lesson addresses only one dimension when considering scale thus it may be used as a precursor to thinking about multiplication as scaling using a pair of factors.

CONTEXT – The height of a giant can vary greatly. The evidence of this comes from Giants, a tabletop RPG supplement written by Bruce Humphrey and published in 1987 by Mayfair Games Inc. According to this “reference for the society of giants,” there are many races of giants and though scholars have scoffed at their physical impossibility, their existence cannot be denied. Instead of delving into the biology of giants (see Giants pages 5 and 6 if you must), our focus today is on their height.

Fire Giants, 12 feet tall, impetuous and powerful warriors

Titans, 24 feet tall, first giants and progenitors of the other giants

Sea Giants, 18 feet tall, noble and personable giants from the depths

Frost Giants, 15 feet tall, resilient hermits from the icy realms

Hill Giants, 10 feet tall, aggressive and stubborn hunters

Investigate

Q1:  How many feet taller is each race of giants when compared to a 6 foot tall human?

Q2:  How many times taller is each race of giants when compared to a 6 foot tall human?

Q3:  How many times shorter is each race of giants when compared to a 60 foot tall sauroposeidon?

Q4:  How many times taller is each race of giants when compared to a 6 inch tall tufted titmouse?

Activity:  Draw a picture of yourself and a representative of each giant race, all to scale in regards to height.

Create

Activity:  Make a new race of giants. What will they be called? What characteristics will they have? How tall will they be? How will the height of the new race compare to the heights of other giants and animals?