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.

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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?

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 Classes in the HTTYD Universe

In the How to Train your Dragon universe, Hiccup and other Vikings before and after him spent a lot of time trying to understand dragons and classing them based on their characteristics and abilities. In the short, Book of Dragons, it is mentioned that the idea to categorize dragons started with a Viking called Bork the Bold, the great (x3) grandfather of Gobber. I have always found this fascinating. Maybe it stems from my childhood obsession of collecting those baseball, WWE and Pokémon cards – pitting one person/creature against another.

 Bork the Bold

While I will go into the details of each dragon separately over a period of time, I’d like to briefly mention the classes and the dragons under them (over a series of posts). I will do three at a time for now.

Stoker Class

These dragons are said to be extremely hotheaded and are known fire breathers.

Some of the dragons under this class are – Monstrous Nightmare, Terrible Terror, Typhoomerang, Fireworm, Red Death, Hobblegrunt and Moldruffle.

Boulder Class

They are dragons that have wings that are smaller than their bodies and are associated with the earth. They can fly just as high as other dragons and sometimes eat rocks.

Some of the dragons under this class are – Gronckle, Whispering Death, Hotburple, Snafflefang, Thunderpede, Groncicle and Grapple Grounder

Tracker Class

A new classification, dragons in the tracker class are stealthy and have an acute sense of smell and are fantastic at their tracking abilities.

Some of the dragons under this class are – Deadly Nadder, Rumblehorn and Thunderclaw

Which are your favorite dragons from these classes? Let me know.

Next time, we’ll be tackling the Sharp Class, the Tidal Class and the Mystery Class.

Have a Dragon, Eat it Too!

No, no, I’m not suggesting that sort of violence where you find an exotic creature and murder it for meat. No, this isn’t a post like that. This is a post about my sweet tooth and obsession with baking shows – trash TV at its best! I was watching Sugar Stars the other day and one of their very first episodes had a Game of Thrones table with three beautiful dragon egg cakes. They were so realistic that it was hard to believe they actually were cakes and not the real deal.

This, of course, led me to this article idea. Being obsessed with fancy, larger than life cakes, I had to Google dragon themed cakes and I was blown over. The talent of some of these people is just incredible. Cake decoration is an art – albeit one that would easily be destroyed by people such as me because, really, who can resist cake.

Here are some of my most favorite ones!

Dragon Wedding CakeImage Source – http://www.pinterest.com/pin/231935449534926324/

This beautiful Disney Wedding cake with a beautiful white dragon – look at its delicate wings.

HTTYD CakeImage Source – http://www.pinterest.com/pin/169940585915281168/

This How to Train your Dragon themed cake, makes me want to go for a ride in the skies, cake in hand!

Little B Dragon CakeImage Source – http://www.littlebcakes.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Dragon-Cake.jpg

This intricate green beauty must have been the highlight of one great party!

Sweet Spoilers Dragon CakeImage Source – http://www.pinterest.com/pin/169940585915440708/

This gravity defying work of art is such a pleasure to watch and I can only imagine, a great pleasure to eat!

3D Red Dragon CakeImage Source – http://cdn.cakecentral.com/a/ab/900x900px-LL-ab3581a9_reddragon_final_withwatermark.jpeg

This intricate beauty – I can’t imagine how many hours of work went into making this. I wonder if the people for whom this was made ever felt a hesitation to cut this one up.

GIVE ME CAKE!

3 Fun Dragon Games for Celebrating the Chinese New Year

As a preschool teacher, I’ve always found multicultural classrooms to be very exciting and challenging places. Every year we celebrate holidays from different cultures, and this year I decided to incorporate the current mania for dragons within our Chinese New Year celebrations. Unlike online dragon games, the three real life activities I came up with do not depend on technology and are hands-on in the truest sense.

Who can Catch the Dragon’s Tail?

This traditional Chinese dragon game needs plenty of space (preferably a playground) and at least 10 players.

How to play

  • Invite the kids to stand in line.
  • Then have them place their hands on the shoulders of the child in front.
  • The first in line is the dragon’s head, the last is the dragon’s tail.
  • The dragon’s head must catch the tail (hands firmly on the shoulders of the child in front) by manoeuvring the dragon’s “body.” He/she is not allowed to break the line.
  • The players in the “body” must do their best to prevent the head from catching the tail.
  • When the head manages to catch the tail, they exchange positions and the game starts again with all the other kids moving back one position.

Dragon Bowling

This fun dragon game-cum-craft was a great hit among my students!

You will need

  • 10 half gallon milk bottles
  • Water
  • Construction paper
  • Permanent markers

How to make dragon bowling pins

  • Invite the kids to decorate the bottles to make them look like dragons.
  • They can use the construction paper to create tongue, scales, wings and ears and draw eyes and nose with permanent markers.
  • Next, fill up the bottles with water and seal the lids tightly.
  • Set up the bottles like bowling pins and let the fun begin!
  • (Hint – If the pins don’t knock over easily, reduce the amount of water.)

Dragon Puppets

The kids can play any number of imaginative dragon games with these pretty puppets.

You will need

  • Paper bag, googly eyes, green paper, red paper, scissors, glue and black marker for each child

Instructions

  • Supply each child with the materials.
  • Have them cut the green paper into triangle and ear shapes and glue them onto the bottom of the bag.
  • Next, have them glue the googly eyes and use the marker to draw the dragon’s mouth and nose.
  • Once this is done, they can cut out the tongue from red paper and glue it in the mouth.

These fun dragon games certainly added zing to our Chinese New Year festivities!

Reviewing Penguins of Madagascar

I caught a show of the rib-tickling penguin adventure, Penguins of Madagascar, and boy was I glad! Everyone knows I’m a huge fan of Dreamworks and therefore I thought I’d do a review here, even though I want this to be a dragon related site.

You’ll see the sidekicks from the Madagascar series globetrot across Antarctica, Venice, Shanghai and America to forge an alliance with the North Wind to defeat the villainous “Dave” (Dr Octavius Brine, voiced by John Malkovich). Led by the highly trained and arrogant Agent Classified (Benedict Cumberbatch), “North Wind” specializes in spy missions, this being their one of the most high-profile cases.

The Plot

There’s nothing super innovative and ingenious about the plot, but it is still entertaining. In their quest for Cheesy Dibbles, our featherless four from the Madagascar series – Skipper (the unquestioned leader of the gang), Kowalski (the brains behind every operation), Rico (the ammo expert) and Private (with his heart always in the right place) – find themselves the target of Dave, an evil Octopus masquerading as a scientist. Dave’s mission, since the penguins stole his limelight at the Zoo many years ago, is to turn all the penguins of the world into ugly monsters. To save them from Dave, the interspecies task force, North Wind, comes to their rescue.

What follows is a rollercoaster ride. Mad antics typical of the adorable flippered birds and great punchlines every now and then ensure that the guffaws keep coming!

Catch It or Miss It?

DreamWorks has done a commendable job by giving the penguins of Madagascar the roles and screen space that they deserve. The impressive animation coupled with witty, rib-tickling dialogues of all the characters makes the movie a wonderful family adventure. Not a moment goes by without some shenanigan or the other by the characters or quick, witty repartee between them. Going by the number of laugh-out-loud moments I saw my kids have in the movie hall, I can safely say that this movie has found fans in my kids.

On the tech side of things, Penguins of Madagascar is a colorful journey with careful details that have gone into the animated 3D scenes. Aesthetic camerawork, crisp editing and superlative animation thoughtfully contribute towards the flamboyance of the North Wind and the cuteness of the penguins. The fine movements of the octopi’ tentacles to the ten-in-a-second flapping of the penguins’ wings make for brilliant visuals alongside the plot.

Save for being stretched at a few points, like the penultimate fight between the villains and the heroes, Penguins of Madagascar makes for a wonderful watch with family this Christmas!

Have you watched the movie? What did you think of it?

Dragon Sports Teams

Photo Courtesy - http://hockey-blog-in-canada.blogspot.in/2010/09/reptiles-and-rampage.html

Photo Courtesy – Hockey Blog in Canada

I told myself I would upload this blog this week but was going through a bit of a writer’s block. This had in part to do with all the sports that was on TV. You know what it’s like when you’ve settled down for a nice long, lazy weekend. You can hardly motivate yourself to get food. Last minute panic made the idea bulb go off. How about teams that have dragons as their mascot? Et voila! My blog topic of the week!

Baseball –

Sichuan Dragons, China

Chunichi Dragons, Japan

Dayton Dragons, U.S.A.

Basketball –

Jiangsu Dragons, China

Welcoat Dragons, Philippines

Football –

Dublin Dragons, Ireland

Dudelange Dragons, Luxembourg

Delft Dragons, Netherlands

Barcelona Dragons, Spain

Los Angeles Dragons, U.S.A.

Ice Hockey –

China Dragon, China

Verdun Dragons, Canada

San Antonio Dragons, U.S.A.

Dragons de Rouen, France

Rugby –

Engadine Dragons, Australia

St. George Dragons, Australia

St. George Illawarra Dragons, Australia

Shellharbour City Dragons, Australia

RC Dragon Brno, Czech Republic

Catalans Dragons, France

Newport Gwent Dragons, U.K.

Soccer –

AS Dragons, Democratic Republic of the Congo

AS Dragons FC de l’Ouémé, Benin

Dragón FC, Equatorial Guinea

Darwin Dragons SC, Australia

A.S. Dragon, Tahiti

AS Dragon, Guadeloupe

Chesapeake Dragons, U.S. A.

Jersey Dragons, U.S. A.

Thomasville Dragons, U.S. A.

C.D. Dragón, El Salvador

I had no idea there were that many teams. You should check out the dragon teams in Lacrosse, Cricket and various other sports! I’m off to see if I can follow the careers of some of the more fascinating teams on this list.

Dragons Vs. Robots

I had an amazing dream the other night about two of my favorite things in the whole world – Dragons and Robots. I woke up thinking that before the day was done, I would’ve fleshed out my dream into a tale of epic proportions that would –

  1. Speak of the childhood trauma of a dragon that got caught in a time warp and found himself treading the past and the future. Only, in the future he took on the shape of a robot.
  2. Draw out a beautiful story of an unlikely friendship between arch nemeses who take it on themselves to bring back the now extinct dragons.
  3. Have the most AMAZING battle between a dragon and robot in which you couldn’t pick sides because both had good and evil in them.
  4. Become viral – leaving in its wake, petitions upon petitions to make this dream the next big movie script.

In this state of excitement and day dreams, I sat in front of the computer. Before writing the dream down, I decided to do a harmless little google. You know how they say you never come up with an idea that hasn’t been thought of already? Well, here you go.

Not only did I find this gem, I also found a Peter Shinkoda film that is due to release in October this year called Dragons Vs. Robots – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3765282/

And this video –

Is it possible they stole my idea off my dreams? No? No fame and glory for me then?

 Aah well, until next dream!

‘How to Train Your Dragon’ Goes on a Cruise

DreamWorks Animation’s popular animated movie ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ has fans all over the world – including the high seas! In an unprecedented move, DreamWorks formed an alliance with Royal Carribean, a world-renowned cruise line brand, to take its beloved franchises to families on their cruise liners. While the characters from Shrek, Madagascar and Puss in Boots make their appearances on several of the cruise ships, ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ is more exclusive. Hiccup and his friends entertain audiences only on Royal Carribean’s spectacular ‘Allure of the Seas’, currently the largest cruise ship in the world.

Photo by brett Jordan

How to Train Your Dragon on Ice

Allure of the Seas’ boasts of many exotic amenities, such as seven distinct neighborhoods with features including a two-deck dance hall, a theatre with 1380 seats and an ice skating rink, which is where Hiccup and Toothless perform. Fire-breathing dragons and ice don’t sound like the best of companions, but they go together rather well in ‘How to Train Your Dragon on Ice’, the ice show based on the children’s hit movie. With world-class skaters dressed in elaborate costumes to resemble the characters from the film, it is easy to believe that you really are watching Hiccup, Astrid, Fishlegs and the other inhabitants of Berk performing on ice. The team have put together an impressive sjpwan impressive perforformancepressive performance, using a variety of props and special effectst is easy to believe that you’how, using a variety of props and special effects to portray scenes involving dragons and fire. The theme is rather unusual for an ice show, as it involves a lot of combat and running about. This is reflected in the performance, which is fast-paced and action-packed. The show is one of the many creations of Royal Cruise Productions, which has another DreamWorks themed performance titled ‘Move It! Move It!’ as well as innovative creations such as ‘Ice Games’, which is based on the board game Monopoly!

What Die-Hard HTTYD Fans Should Know

The ice show may not satisfy every ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ fan, for it does have its limitations. There is only so much you can do on an ice skating rink, surrounded by audiences on all four sides, when you’re trying to re-create a movie involving dragon riders and fire-breathing beasts. While the theatrical production ‘How to Train Your Dragon Arena Spectacular’ uses a great deal of highly advanced technology to make the stage show as true to the movie as possible, nothing of that scale is attempted in this performance. It is more a blend of the story elements from HTTYD with the style elements of an ice show. That means a lot of figure skating choreography is integrated into the story, and there is heavy reliance on light to convey changes in scenery and setting. There is no real dragon riding during the show, but the cast does a great job of portraying flights on the backs of dragons in their own unique style.

All in all, ‘How to Train Your Dragon on Ice’ is a pretty fantastic performance, and fans of ice shows and ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ lovers who can bear to see deviations from the original movie are not likely to come away from the show disappointed.