A Miniature Blue Dragon in Real-Life

Yes, you read it right. Though gigantic, fire-breathing dragons may only be mythical monsters not existing on the face of the earth, here is a miniature dragon which exists in real life. And guess what? It’s touted to be one of the most beautiful animals on the planet – and is called a ‘blue dragon’!

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Image courtesy: Wikipedia

Here are some fascinating facts about this ‘dragon’ of sorts:

  • In scientific terminology, it is called Glaucus atlanticus.
  • Other common names of the blue dragon include – sea swallow, blue glaucus, blue sea slug, blue angel and blue ocean slug.
  • Fully grown, it’s just more than an inch in length (up to 3 centimeters).
  • It spends its life floating upside down in warm ocean currents, aided by the surface tension of water.
  • It has a powerful venom and a fatal sting which has the ability to take down other larger animals at the drop of a hat.
  • It has a camouflaged body – the blue color blending in with the blue of the waters.

As renowned American ornithologist Margaret Morse Nice very aptly put it: ‘The study of nature is a limitless field, the most fascinating adventure in the world’.

Leave alone dragons; wonder what fascinating organism we’ll come across next?

Craving something sweet? Try these ‘Dragon Desserts’

Thinking of dragons, these are the words that cross my mind (and in this particular order, since we have big-time dragon fans at home) – dragon movies, Toothless, animation, my kids and their dragon games, dragon-themed birthday parties, menacing, vicious, gigantic, threatening, hair-raising, petrifying, beasts, thunderous, awe-inspiring, formidable, mammoth, thundering, desserts… Yes, you read it right. ‘Dragon desserts’ seem to be the flavor of the season, and the latest addition to this list. Menacing creatures they may be, but dragons probably have a sweet tooth as well😉

We’ve talked about refreshing dragon cocktails in a previous post – blushing dragons, happy dragons and the like. We can do without cocktails once in a while, but without desserts? Nah! Hence, since there is always room for dessert come what may, here you go.

Chocolate Dragon Dessert

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Did you know that chocolate is ground from the beans of happiness? I had always presumed so, given its heavenly flavors. This recipe is all about crushing scrumptious chocolate sandwich cookies, adding instant chocolate pudding along with cold milk into it, stirring it all together with whipped dessert topping and leaving the mixture in the freezer for a while. What do you get as a result? A perfect, mouth-watering chocolatey concoction, which becomes all the more inviting provided you top it up with worm-shaped candies and jelly beans as mentioned here.

Dragon Beard Candy

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Similar to the popular cotton candy which is a favorite of kids all around the world, the Dragon Beard Candy (or Dragon Hair Candy as it is sometimes referred to) was first introduced in China. Stuffed with peanuts, coconuts and doused in maltose syrup, this Chinese cotton candy is threaded, chewy, rich and very sweet (everything that kids – and adults like me – would love!). Legend has it that during the Chinese Han dynasty, an imperial court chef was entertaining His Majesty one fine day by performing the steps involved in preparing a new confection; a candy composed from rice flour with a dough-like mixture which had small, thin, sticky strands. For some unknown reason, the Emperor was reminded of a dragon’s beard, and hence the name stuck. So does the candy😛

Dragon Fruit Dessert

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This one is particularly for all those health-conscious dessert lovers out there. Pitaya, more commonly known as the dragon fruit, is beyond doubt one of the most good-looking or I should say exotic looking fruits I have ever come across. A leathery, bright red skin; sweet, kiwi-like flesh; high in fiber content as well as Vitamins B & C – no wonder this miracle of a fruit has such a weighty name! Have a look at this simple recipe involving yogurt, cream, gelatin, vanilla extract, honey and dragon fruit and you have a dessert fit for dragons, not kings!

And now, with Easter right around the corner, no points for guessing what would be the best time to tuck into these desserts!

Dragons in Literature – Smaug & Norbert

My last but one post talked about two popular dragon characters in comic books – Dulcy and Lockheed. Popular as they are, there are some awe-inspiring dragons in the world of literature as well which enjoy unrivalled attention from book lovers (and now movies which are based on the books). Here are two of them.

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Smaug (The Hobbit): This one is Herculean, quick-witted, menacing and hostile all at once, with a distinct appearance – big ears, fur and forbidding canine teeth; one of the primary antagonists in JRR Tolkien’s 1937 novel. When he gets bored with his life, he decides to kick a bunch of dwarves out of their home in the Lonely Mountain (those who have read the story of The Hobbit will obviously know what the Lonely Mountain is all about).

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Norbert (Harry Potter): Norbert is a Norwegian Ridgeback dragon, native to Norway. He came into limelight when he was hatched by half-giant Rubeus Hagrid in his hut at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The endearing baby dragon initially looked like ‘a crumpled black umbrella’ with orange eyes and spiny wings. Eventually as Norbert grew up, she emerged to be much more violent and ferocious, characteristic of female Norwegian Ridgebacks. Hence, the once endearing Norbert was ultimately known as Norberta.

Top 5 Dragon Characters in Gaming

If we begin to talk about our favorite characters in dragon games, the list would probably go on and on. The first dragons in gaming are thought to have emerged back in the year 1979 in a game called Atari Adventure. And ever since then, these giant, mythical, powerful, monster-like reptilian creatures have managed to make themselves one of the most memorable aspects of video games.

Here is a list of the top 5 most popular dragon characters in games which we’ve all grown to love, in the recent past and present.

5. Spyro the Dragon

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A 1998 platform video game for the PlayStation, Spyro the Dragon is the first and most popular game of the series with the young purple dragon – Spyro – playing the protagonist.

Spyro might not be scary or evil but he definitely is one of the most iconic dragons in gaming history. All the gamers will recognize the purple dragon from its platforming days on the original PlayStation. The younger crowd knows him from the toy-based Skylanders series. Spyro shows that you don’t have to kill, maim and destroy to be awesome. His two main attacks – charging with his horns at the enemy and breathing fire – are more than enough to defeat the evil Gnasty Gnorc.

4. Alduin – The World Eater

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Skyrim is full of epic dragons but we have to pick out Alduin – the World Eater as the most badass dragon of the bunch. This dragon with superpowers wishes to re-awaken the race of dragons to destroy the entire world. He’s constantly trash-talking you as you fight him multiple times throughout the game. It sure feels good when you finally manage to defeat him and bring him to his knees for good.

Alduin holds sway as the Nordic God of destruction and is expected to destroy and consume the world in its entirety. Just make sure you’re ready for this dragon to suddenly begin hurling large boulders in the combat zone and periodically breathing fire.

3. Toothless – The Night Fury Dragon

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The very first character to appear in the How to Train Your Dragon movie, Toothless – the Night Fury Dragon is the most endearing yet dangerous little iguana-sized dragon ever. His unrivaled intelligence among the entire dragon clan, terrific speed, uncannily perfect sense of hearing as well as the ability to dive bomb and fire are among his many strengths.

The best part of these dragon games based on the DreamWorks movie? The wonderful bond between Toothless and the protagonist Hiccup, an example of which is when Hiccup says: “Toothless, it’s me. I’m right here, bud.” Cheers to this friendship!

2. Deathwing – Warcraft Series

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Deathwing from the Warcraft Series is one of the most awe-inspiring dragons in gaming. He made his debut in Warcraft II but became a legend after releasing a sweeping cataclysm in World of Warcraft. This humongous creature has re-shaped much of the world’s surface in one of the most popular massively multiplayer online games ever and that’s an extremely big achievement.

Earlier known as Neltharion the Earth-warder, this incarnation of pure evil is known all over the world by titles like ‘The World Breaker’, ‘The Destroyer’ and even ‘Aspect of Death’. One flap of his majestic wings can cause a tsunami to occur and demolish half the world. Beware!

1. Rathalos – The Monster Hunter Dragon

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It can be no co-incidence that this Monster Hunter Dragon’s name – Rathalos – has the word ‘wrath’ in it. Again, the fact that this flying monster is popularly known as ‘The King of the Skies’ in the gaming fraternity reinforces what most of us already know – that it is no mean feat to bring down this more than twenty foot long red and orange dragon with his fiery breath and poisonous talons.

Apart from being expert fliers that whizz past like a bolt of lightning and launch unexpected aerial attacks, Rathalos are also known to set their prey ablaze with flaming projectiles. They can bite, burn, poison, maim and kill. Need we now mention which the most dangerous dragon of the lot is?

Dragons in Comics – Dulcy & Lockheed

Dragons are everywhere – literature, film, television, radio, comics, songs, games and everywhere else. Here are two popular dragons, characters out of well-known comic books. Heard of them before?

Dulcy

Dulcy (Sonic the Hedgehog): For those of you who have read Sonic the Hedgehog comics, Dulcy is not an unknown character. The story goes something like this – Dulcy, the young female dragon, was initially a part of a dragon colony which had established a hidden civilization. She was eventually banished from her fellow dragons for getting involved in the fight against Robotnik. Eventually, she went on to thwart an attack by Robotnik’s forces and was welcomed back with open arms amongst the other dragons.

LockheedLockheed (Marvel Comics, X-Men): The companion of the fictional X-Men superhero Kitty Pryde, this small, alien, cat-like European dragon with sharp claws and teeth is purple in color and has wings. His most lethal weapon – he can breathe fire. He has a soft side to himself too as he is empathic at times and is also intelligent as he has the ability to understand human speech and even speak some basic English.

3 Fun Facts You Probably Didn’t Know about How to Train Your Dragon

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  1. How to Train Your Dragon is the first movie produced by the American film production company DreamWorks in which the hero of the story – Hiccup – is of the same age as the target audience of the film. Most of the other DreamWorks animation flicks feature adults as the protagonists of their movies.
  2. This franchise is not just about the movies alone – which are nothing but the tip of the iceberg. A television series popularly known as DreamWorks Dragons has already completed forty episodes and two seasons and is on to its third, while Gift of the Night Fury is a 30-minute Christmas special short film in addition to two other short films on similar themes related to the dragons. What’s more, there are books, video games and soundtrack albums devoted to the dragons and even an exclusive ice show and stadium show based on the movies! No wonder these beloved dragons are a raging success the world over.
  3. Last but not the least, let’s talk about the most endearing character of the entire series – Toothless. Did you know that the adorable sounds he makes are a combination of the recordings of elephants, tigers, horses, elephant seals, other domestic cats and the voice of the supervising sound designer of the film, Randy Thom? In his own words: “Toothless was the biggest challenge for us in terms of the vocalization, because he had to have so much variety just within his own voice. The voice of Toothless is mostly a combination of my voice and elephants and horses, maybe a tiger here and there. It’s lots of stuff!”

How to Train Your Dragon 3: The End of a New Beginning?

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Speculations abound as the hugely popular How to Train Your Dragon 3 (HTTYD-3) gears up for its release. Although this third and final instalment of the dragon series was originally slated to hit the theatres sometime in 2016, new rumors doing the rounds suggest that we may not get to watch the flick till as late as 2018, due to some unrevealed internal conflicts within the film production company.

However, the guesswork and suppositions related to the movie had already begun as soon as DreamWorks Animation announced that the movie is lined up for release, the proclamation coming shortly after the success of the How to Train Your Dragon 2 film. Be it mini dragon playing sets, online dragon games, dragon mugs, lunch boxes, skateboards or even dragon-themed t-shirts, the How to Train Your Dragon memorabilia continues to fly off the shelves like hot cakes even now. This bears testimony to the fact that the Hiccup-Toothless fervor isn’t something that will die down easily, even though there may be an interval of a couple of years between two of its movie releases.

Regarding it being more of a dragon-centric movie than its prequels, director Dean DeBlois had this to say: “I’m playing with the idea of what happened to the dragons and why they are no more, as suggested by Cressida Cowell’s books. So the whole mystery of where did they go? Did they come back? What transpired? I think it’s all compelling stuff and it’s definitely a story that’s gonna have a lot more Toothless emphasis in it. We continue to get more insight into the dragon world and shed light on their intelligence and all the aspects that we’ve been slowly cooking over the last few films.”

If the movie is anything along the same lines as the novels go, then an all-out war between humans and dragons is on the cards in HTTYD-3. Reiterating this, DeBlois also confirmed: “Both Hiccup and Toothless are now chiefs of their respective tribes, and it’s a dueling story where you have both characters trying to do what’s right for their kind, and an eventual outcome where Hiccup is able to stand on his own.” Does that mean Hiccup and Toothless will ultimately have to part ways, for the greater good, bringing to an end the most beautiful human-dragon friendship ever? “The mystery of what all that is will be saved for the actual story,” is all DeBlois is ready to divulge at the moment.

Those who have read the Cressida Cowell series know that the dragon story does not have a happy ending. Hence, here are some possibilities of what might happen: This might be the last we’ll get to see of Toothless, since the books begin with Hiccup as an old man, ruminating on the days gone by when dragons and humans used to cordially live together. The villain of the series, Drago, might be the one to wage an all-out war against the dragons. On the other hand, he just might have a change of heart (a fake one at that) and get back to Berk in order to make the Vikings trust him, and then eventually poison their minds against the beasts. Only time will tell.

Last but not the least, the most heartbreaking news of all (and this comes from the horse’s – read director’s – mouth); the How to Train Your Dragon 3 is the last movie of the series and there’ll be no more dragon flicks after this.

Needless to say, we’ll always love Toothless and the rest of his clan. Always.

Life Lessons from Ogres, Dragons & Pandas

‘It’s the stories we’re told that become the morals we live by,” so the saying goes. And life’s best lessons generally come from the unlikeliest of creatures – say, dragons, ogres and pandas which we’ve all come to love in our favorite animated movies.

I have a list of wonderful lessons from some extremely popular animated flicks, which make known to us the right way to take on the trials and travails of real life. Here goes.

Shrek:

‘Don’t judge people by their covers, most of their books are still being written.’

ShrekShrek, the ugly green ogre, is taken for granted to be a brutal, heartless creature whose favorite pastime is devouring humans. One wiggle of his little finger and everyone in the vicinity screams in terror and runs for their lives! But the real Shrek is a kind, gentle, loving creature who wishes to harm nobody. And when it comes to Fiona, his lady love, she sums it up perfectly when she says, ‘I want the ogre I fell in love with’, choosing to keep him the way he is, as an ogre itself. The underlying lesson – it’s never, ever about looks alone. It’s the heart of the person that counts.

How to Train Your Dragon:

‘A friend in need is a friend indeed.’

How to train your dragonThe endearing friendship between the Hiccup (the human) and Toothless (the dragon) bears testimony to the fact that friendships can be everlasting. It doesn’t matter where you’re from, it doesn’t matter if your friend in question is not of your ilk, it doesn’t matter if one of you has big brains or big muscles and the other doesn’t. What matters is the bond shared between two true friends that enables them to protect each other from harm, be there for each other in times of need, be one as a team. And that’s exactly the kind of friendship I would want my kids to form in the years to come.

Kung Fu Panda:

‘Don’t judge yourself by your past. You don’t live there anymore.’

Kung fu pandaWe all have a past – some things that happened back then make us proud and happy, while there are mistakes which we committed that make us feel sad or guilty. But you know what? The best way to look ahead and get on with life is to forget what happened in the past; there’s, after all, a reason it’s not coming back! When the mighty Kung Fu Panda warrior, Po, finds out that he is adopted, he goes through a major identity crisis. But as soon as he begins to accept the fact that it was all a part of his past and has no bearings on his present, he emerges stronger than before. After all, who we are does not depend of what occurred in the past; it is a direct consequence of what we choose to be in the present.

And last but not the least, here’s what Dory of Finding Nemo had to say: “Just Keep Swimming!”

Dragon Cocktails for the Summer

It’s that time of year again where your culinary experiments move from food to beverages. The salads and the fresh, light foods take care of your hunger pangs but it is well and truly time to play alchemist with all the yummy cocktails you can concoct. I have been going haywire trying to find the right flavors to make a drink taste and look good. Of course some of them have turned out to be absolute disasters. Lucky for me, there are some drinks you just can’t go wrong with. Here are my favorites – dragon inspired, obviously.

Blushing Dragon

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Of course nothing I make looks so pretty but it is so easy to make. All you need is vodka, Cointreau, lemon juice, syrup, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and mango. You can find the full recipe here.

Happy Dragon

Happy Dragon Cocktail

To celebrate the Chinese New Year in style, one of the blogs I follow created this yummy drink called the Happy Dragon. What does it taste like? Ginger and tangerines – the taste of summer! You can find the recipe here.

Mother of Dragons

Mother of Dragons

This list wouldn’t be complete without a Game of Thrones themed cocktail. This drink will soothe your inner Khaleesi. Complete with dragon fruit and plenty of Rosé champagne, a must try for this summer. Click here for recipe.

3 Adorable Dragons in Dragon Games

Dragons have captured the imagination of the masses for centuries. In the recent past, they have become a big part of popular culture, making regular appearances in books, movies and video games. With references in so many places, it is quite understandable that these creatures have been depicted in different ways by different people. However, whether in dragon games or ancient lore, they are most often portrayed as fierce, scary-looking, formidable beasts. They often wreak destruction on land, though it is not uncommon to find benign dragons that form friendships with human beings. It is far more uncommon, on the other hand, to find a dragon that is remotely ‘cute’, so to speak. That has slowly begun to change. Huggable dragons with big eyes, delicate features and rounded spikes are no longer outrageous – some of them are incredibly popular! Just take a look at these three cuties that are also stars on dragon games, and you’ll see what I mean.

Spyro

Spyro

Sundet & Spyro – better quality” by vages is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Spyro is the star of the dragon game ‘Spyro the Dragon’. He is an adorable young purple dragon that is stubborn and courageous in spite of his tender age. In the game, all the dragons in the realm are attacked by a spell from Gnasty Gnorc, and only Spyro escapes due to his size. He sets off to save the dragons and confront Gnasty Gnorc. ‘Spyro the Dragon’ was followed by several more dragon games starring this adorable, fire-breathing beast. It’s tough to tell what is cutest about this dragon, but there’s no doubt that his kind and brave heart add to his charm.

Yoshi

Yoshi is perhaps the most famous of all the dragons that have ever appeared in a video game. If you are one of the very few who don’t recognize the name, I must clarify. Yoshi did not make his debut as the star of a dragon game. He is Mario and Luigi’s friendly sidekick in Super Mario World, and since his first appearance has been part of several other Nintendo games, including a few revolving around him. The bipedal, chubby green dragon is cuteness personified. There is an ongoing debate as to whether Yoshi is actually a dragon or a dinosaur. While in his early appearances he was commonly accepted as a dinosaur, in ‘Super Mario Galaxy 2’ he signs a note as ‘Yoshi the Space Dragon’. The fact that he is a ‘space dragon’ would explain why he is missing some of the common features associated with regular dragons, such as wings.

Toothless

This friendly dragon first made his appearance in the animated movie ‘How to Train Your Dragon’. He reappeared on screens in the sequel ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2’, where a more defined personality added to his charm. Toothless has appeared in several dragon games since his movie debut and is extremely popular with fans of the franchise. He does not resemble most dragons, and looks positively benign. He does not have sharp spines anywhere on his body, but he does have a deadly blast.

Are there any other cute dragons that you can think of? Comment and let me know!