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Posts Tagged ‘dragons’

Back in 2007, the American Museum of Natural History, in New York City, featured a group of linked events around legendary and mythical beasts. Collectively known as Mythic Creatures, the exhibit included beasts of the sea (mermaids, sea serpents), earth (giants, griffins), sky (phoenix and roc) and of course, many tales of dragons!

Though the exhibits are long over, you can still see a great overview on their web site. Check it out!

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Digby Dragon is a cute animated show for pre-schoolers. It’s produced by the British studio Blue Zoo Productions and airs in the U. S. on the cable channel, Nick Jr. It’s been airing in the U. K. since 2014, but was only introduced to the U. S. last year.

Digby is a young dragon growing up in the fantasy land of Applecross Wood. He’s surrounded by friends, who include a fairy girl named Fizzy Izzy and a talking squirrel called Cheeky Chips. They often go up against some mildly naughty trolls and less friendly woodland creatures. Since it’s a British production, they all have charming accents (at least to American ears).

The action in the 20-minute episodes is fairly basic. Plots seem to deal as much with social challenges (taking turns) as with solving problems or fending off the trolls. Older viewers will find the show slow and overly simplistic. Still, if you have kids or grandkids of the appropriate age, it’s worth a look.

Sample episodes and a few supporting games are available on Digby’s site on Nick Jr, right here.

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Remember those two giant dragon sculptures installed at Caerphilly Castle in March? It seems they have been doing what comes naturally… Now a giant nest has appeared, with eggs! Just in time for Easter, visitors can take part in an egg hunt and also see why Dwynwen is being so affectionate with Dewi.

Okay, it’s a little cheesy. The nest looks more like something a bird would build, and it’s hard to see how two disembodied heads would incubate the eggs. But, since April the Giraffe has finally dropped her calf, this gives all us dragon fans a baby watch of our own.

Stay tuned!

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Just a few of my books:

Aunt Ursula’s Atlas, Lucy D. Ford’s short story collection

Masters of Air & Fire, Lucy D. Ford’s middle-grade novel

The Grimhold Wolf, my gothic werewolf fantasy, and my epic fantasy, The Seven Exalted Orders.

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We might not think of dragons as medical miracle-workers, but scientists have announced a breakthrough in the search for new antibiotics. The source? Komodo dragons!

Biologists have long known that Komodo dragons have some really nasty bacteria in their mouths. If these big lizards can’t overpower their prey, they use a long-acting bacterial weapon as their fall-back. Any animal bitten by a Komodo dragon will develop a serious infection known as sepsis. It might take a few days, but the dragon follows its prey until the infection kills it. Then, it’s dinner time.

However deadly their mouth bacteria are, Komodo dragons themselves never seem to suffer from sepsis. Scientists decided to study them and figure out why. A team at George Mason Univerisity, led by Monique van Hoek, recently announced they had isolated a blood protein called DRGN-1. In laboratory tests, DRGN-1 was highly effective against some of the most notorious drug-resistant bacteria. Not even MRSA could stand against the dragon’s cure.

Although these are preliminary results, and much work remains to be done, van Hoek’s team hopes to develop a new antibiotic weapon for the ongoing battle against resistant diseases.

Our hero… the dragon?

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Just a few of my books:

Aunt Ursula’s Atlas, Lucy D. Ford’s short story collection

Masters of Air & Fire, Lucy D. Ford’s middle-grade novel

The Grimhold Wolf, my gothic werewolf fantasy, and my epic fantasy, The Seven Exalted Orders.

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The Zuni tribe of New Mexico honors many spirits, including the ocean spirit, Kolowisi. This great serpent lived in a sacred spring at the foot of a mountain. There was a village nearby called Home of the Eagles. It was a thriving community led by a chief who had a lovely daughter. Her only flaw was that she couldn’t stand to be dirty. She was so focused on staying clean that she insisted on having her own room, away from her family.

When she couldn’t stand feeling dirty any more, she would go to Kolowisi’s spring to wash her clothes and bathe. She did this so often that Kolowisi got tired of having his spring fouled with soap and silt. He thought of a way to punish her.

The next time the maiden returned to the spring, she found a small baby, all alone in the water. At once she felt a powerful attachment to the child. She took it with her when she returned home. She went straight to her room to care for it.

Imagine the surprise when an unmarried maiden turned up with a baby! The daughter explained everything to her father, and wouldn’t be parted with the child for any reason. The chief was very confused, for he knew no mother would just leave her baby in the middle of a spring. But he was also a wise man. He decided to wait and see what would happen.

That night, the maiden put the baby down to sleep. Then she lay down, too, after such an exciting day. Once she fell asleep, the baby began to transform. He stretched out his legs, and then his arms, longer and longer until they became the coils of a serpent. It was Kolowisi, serpent of the sea! All that night, he rested his giant head near hers as she slept. When the dawn came, he stole her away to the spring.

Although Kolowisi was irritated by having his spring disturbed, he had become fond of the maiden. He asked her to be his wife. And since the spring was her favorite place, she gladly agreed.

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Draconian — something very harsh or cruel. I’ve always thought this word was a comparison to dragons, because they are thought to be such vicious creatures. Turns out, there actually was a person named Draco. He is the first political figure identified by name in the history of Athens, Greece.

Draco must have been a trusted leader. He was elected by the citizens around 620 B.C.E. with the explicit goal of reforming their legal code. Previously, Athens operated on the basis of oral tradition and the Greek religion. These customs were subject to personal interpretation, and when citizens sought justice the results could vary widely.

Draco made a great contribution to establishing consistent laws that were written down and displayed in public. Every citizen who could read was able to see these laws and know what to expect. Draco also established a council of judges to administer the laws. This meant that justice was more consistent for all citizens.

Only thing was, the penalties Draco set down were pretty harsh. Like his predecessors, Draco was an individual who made his own interpretation. His interpretation was that there were no minor crimes. Draco seemed to believe that having severe penalties for the little things would stop people from committing more serious crimes. Yes, even in the 7th Century B.C.E, politicians were vowing to “get tough on crime.”

Thus, under Draco’s rule, people could be executed for things like stealing a cabbage. If you couldn’t pay your debts, you would be enslaved. He did make the important distinction between murder and manslaughter; murderers were executed, while those who accidentally killed someone were merely exiled.

Soon, the Athenian citizens got buyer’s remorse. Draco himself was exiled to the island of Aegina and died there around 600 B.C.E. The Athenian code of justice was later reformed with softer penalties. However, the committee of judges and some other parts of Draco’s constitution remained a foundational part of Athenian democracy.

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About 100 years ago, a little town called Spoonville stood on the shore of Lake Michigan. Business came and went with the seasons, and times were often hard. Then a clever businessman thought of a plan to draw more tourists.

Moe Kopple was his name, and he ran a nice restaurant and bar right near the shore. When business got too slow, he would get one of his buddies to row out on the lake and then come back with outrageous stories of a water dragon! These stories would run in the local newspaper, and then in the larger papers, and soon a horde of tourists would show up to try and catch a glimpse.

Every year or three, there would be another sighting. Moe always asked a different friend to row out there, so it wouldn’t look too suspicious. Besides, the business was good for everyone, so it became the town’s secret.

One year, Moe asked his friend Sam McGeever to go lake-monster hunting, and he readily agreed. But Sam came back greatly excited. No more mysterious waves or vague shapes — Sam was full of details about the horrible lake monster. Moe scoffed at first, but Sam was totally convinced of what he’d seen. Eventually Moe went out with him to see for himself.

The two men set off in Sam’s boat, Moe teasing that this must be a hoax because everyone knew lake monsters weren’t real. Sam set off straight for a particular spot, and soon Moe saw a commotion ahead of them. To his shock, a terrifying creature erupted from the water. It was huge, with green scales, blazing red eyes, and billows of smoke from a fanged maw. The monster swam toward them. Yelling with fear, both men seized the oars and rowed back to Spoonville as fast as they could.

Now Moe was worried. He told Sam not to talk about the monster any more, for fear of the consequences. If a tourist got eaten, they might never come back again! Sam brooded angrily. He enjoyed the attention from telling his amazing stories, and wanted to show  that he wasn’t a liar. A few days later, he told a friend he was going back out to find some sort of proof. Moe rushed to the dock, trying to dissuade his friend, but it was too late. Sam had already rowed away.

Neither he nor his boat were ever seen again.

 

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