THE CREATION OF SHERLOCK HOLMES

Sherlock is a thrilling and fast-moving mystery TV series based on the adventures of British detective Sherlock Holmes and his loyal friend Dr. John Watson. The show is set in 21st century London and the main actors are Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock Holmes) and Martin Freeman (Dr. Watson).

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Sherlock Holmes is a fictional consulting detective created by physician and author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This quirky detective, together with Hercule Poirot, is considered one of the most famous characters in the history of British literature. Moreover, he is well-known for his incredible powers of deduction and innovative investigative techniques. The detective’s distinctive and unique appearance is also immediately recognizable. In fact, Sherlock’s briar pipedeerstalker cap and Ulster overcoat have definitely become part of his trademark looks! Even his residence at 221b Baker Street in London is nowadays a museum which displays Holmes’ memorabilia and recreations of some of his most famous adventures.

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In his autobiography, Arthur Conan Doyle stated that the character of Sherlock Holmes was partly based on Dr. Joseph Bell, a Scottish doctor and lecturer at the University of Edinburgh Medical School. Doyle studied medicine at this university and met Dr. Bell in 1877.

In his classes, Dr. Bell told his students that in order to make the correct diagnosis of a disease they needed to observe their patients closely and carefully. Then, based on these thorough observations, they could draw more accurate conclusions by following a simple process of deduction. As a student, Conan Doyle was fascinated by this extraordinary and innovative method of diagnosis. That’s why, this renown and prestigious professor served as an inspiration for the creation of one of the greatest detectives of all time.

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HOLI: THE FESTIVAL OF COLOURS

Would you like to participate in a festival in which you dance all day long and end up covered all over with powder of different bright and vibrant colours? If your answer to this question is yes, then you may want to go to India to take part in the world’s biggest colour party ➡ Holi: The Festival of Colours.

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Holi is a traditional Hindu festival which falls somewhere between the end of February and the beginning of March and marks the end of the winter season. The night before the festival, people gather around bonfires to celebrate the beginning of spring and the triumph of good over evil. The following day, people go out to the streets and throw coloured powder – called gulal over one another. The different colours of powder are regarded as a symbol of the beautiful colours that spring brings to nature. Also, festival goers dance to traditional folk music and play with water soakers and water-filled balloons. At night, they bathe, put on clean clothes and visit their friends and relatives.  

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This colourful Hindu ritual is said to have developed from various legends related to different gods and goddesses. 

One legend tells the story of how the god Vishnu saved one of his worshippers, Prahlad, from being burnt in a bonfire by Prahlad’s evil aunt Holika. Another legend holds that Krishna, an avatar of the god Vishnu, fell in love with the goddess Radha. Since Krishna’s skin was dark blue, he was worried that Radha would not like him because of the colour of his skin. So this mischievous god decided to change Radha’s skin colour to dark blue and immediately afterwards they became a couple. That’s why it is believed that Holi is celebrated to honour the Hindu deities of these legends because in both cases the stories represent the victory of good over evil.

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“THE WIZARD OF OZ” IN A NUTSHELL

The Wizard of Oz is one of the most popular and beloved children’s fairy tales of all time. The story was written by American author Frank Baum and illustrated by W. W. Denslow. In fact, the original name of the novel was The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Many writers and critics agree that the narrative structure of the story was highly influenced by Lewis Carroll’s 1895 novel Alice in Wonderland.

The Wizard of Oz was first published in 1900 and soon became a publishing success. Children from all over the USA wrote letters to Frank Baum asking for a sequel of the novel, so Baum continued the story in The Marvellous Land of Oz. By the time of his death in 1919, he had written 14 children’s novels in total.

The Wizard of Oz is a timeless classic of children’s literature that chronicles the adventures of an orphaned girl named Dorothy Gale, who embarks upon a journey through the magical Land of Oz. Dorothy lives in a farmhouse with her aunt Em and her uncle Henry. One day, Dorothy and her dog Toto are whisked away from their home in Kansas by a tornado. 

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The tornado picks the house up with Dorothy and Toto in it. While the house is still flying, Dorothy eventually falls asleep. After a couple of hours, the house accidentally lands on the country of the munchkins, who are ruled by the Wicked Witch of the East. Dorothy helps the munchkins get rid of the evil witch and as a token of gratitude, the Good Witch of the North gives Dorothy a pair of magical silver slippers. (In the film, Dorothy wears ruby slippers). Also, the Good Witch tells Dorothy that if she wants to find her way back home, she should go to the Emerald City and seek help from the powerful Wizard of Oz.

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On her journey along the yellow brick road towards the Emerald City, Dorothy meets the Scarecrow, the Cowardly Lion and the Tin Woodman and becomes friends with them. These new three characters in the story have one thing in common: they all have some specific wishes for their lives. The Scarecrow wants a brain, the Tin Woodman wants a heart, and the Cowardly Lion wants courage, so Dorothy invites them to go to the Emerald City with her to see if they can get some help from the Wizard of Oz to fulfil their wishes.

“Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high, there’s a land that I’ve heard of once in a lullaby.” Dorothy Gale. 

For more than one hundred years, The Wizard of Oz has captured the imagination of many generations of children and adults alike. There are many inspiring and motivational messages that can be read between the lines of the story, but one of the most important of them all is that whenever you have a goal in your life, you should work very hard to reach it and never give up, no matter how many obstacles come up on your way. And if at some point you feel you have hit rock bottom, remember that you can always count on your friends. They will stand by you and help you overcome any difficult situation.

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A SNAPSHOT OF MILLENNIALS

Millennials (also known as Generation Y, Generation Me and The Boomerang Generation) are the most discussed and researched generation today. Gen-Yers were born approximately between 1980 and 2000 and raised in a world dominated by digital technology.

Many psychologists agree that technology has played a key role in shaping the social and cultural identities of this group of digital natives. That’s why Millennials have developed some specific personality traits that make them unique and different from their predecessors. 

So let’s have a look at some of the most remarkable characteristics that seem to define this generation in particular.

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1) Millennials are tech-savvy. They are proficient in the use of cutting-edge technology and have the ability to adapt quickly to a world that is constantly undergoing rapid technological change.

2) Millennials are practical. They think technological devices have made their lives easier by allowing them to use their time more efficiently.

3) Millennials are open-minded. They support equal rights movements and have the tendency to be tolerant of different points of views. Moreover, they are receptive to new ideas and experiences. 

4) Millennials are creative. They feel comfortable working in innovative environments and enjoy coming up with original solutions to problems. 

5) Millennials are social media mavericks. They are experts in using social media networks. For them, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube (to mention but a few) are not mere instrumental tools but powerful means of self-expression and communication.

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6) Millennials are multitaskers. They can engage in more than one activity at the same time and face many responsibilities at once.

7) Millennials have shortened attention spans. Although they can perform many tasks simultaneously, they might get easily distracted by the technological gadgets around them. 

8) Millennials are job-hoppers. They don’t feel at ease working in 9-to-5 jobs for a long time. They are willing to try out new modes of work and are not afraid of jumping from one job to another.

9) Millennials are technophiles. They have embraced technology like no other generation before them. They use technological devices not only for fun and entertainment, but also for education and research.

10) Millennials are optimistic. They have a hopeful outlook on their lives and the future. They believe that in a more dynamic and complex world, technology will help people from different cultures come closer together.

EDUCATION FOR MILLENNIALS

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THE SEVEN WONDERS OF THE WORLD

The Seven Wonders of the World is a list of seven historical sites that are regarded as the most beautiful and outstanding man-made monuments around the world. These incredible buildings were chosen as the “New 7 Wonders of the World” in a global online voting organized by the New7Wonders Foundation located in Zurich, Switzerland. The campaign started in 2000 with the selection of 200 monuments and over a period of seven years people from different countries could vote for their favourite sites via Internet or by telephone. The winners were finally announced in Lisbon on July 7th, 2007. So how about learning some interesting facts and myths about these amazing works of architecture?

THE SEVEN WONDERS OF THE WORLD

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The Colosseum is an oval amphitheatre located in the centre of the city of Rome in Italy. This outstanding work of architecture, which is regarded as a symbol of the power and glory of the Roman Empire, is the largest amphitheatre ever built in history. In the early years, the Colosseum was mainly used for entertainment. For example, there are many historical records that depict the contests of gladiators, re-enactments of famous battles and performances of dramas that took place in the central stage of the amphitheatre. When Emperor Constantine I converted to Christianity in 312 A.D, the building ceased to be used for entertainment and started to be used for religious purposes.

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The citadel of Machu Picchu is located on a mountain ridge in the High Andes of Peru. Many archaeologists and historians agree that Machu Picchu was built by the Inca Emperor Pachacutec in the late 15th century. In fact, the construction of the citadel began when the power and influence of the Inca civilization started to grow and spread throughout the region. According to some historical records, Machu Picchu was inhabited by at least three generations of Incas, but then it was mysteriously abandoned. For many centuries, “The Lost City of the Incas” remained unknown to the world until it was discovered by American explorer Hiram Bingham in 1911.

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The Taj Mahal is a mausoleum built entirely out of white ivory marbles in the Indian city of Agra. This magnificent monument was commissioned by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in 1632 to pay a tribute to his wife Mumtaz Mahal after her death. Shah Jahan wanted to build a beautiful and peaceful resting place for his beloved wife. The Taj Mahal was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1983 for representing the Muslim art in India and for being one of the most admired architectonical masterpieces in the world. In fact, the Taj Mahal is regarded as a symbol of eternal love.

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The Great Wall of China is a series of fortifications built by many Chinese dynasties over hundreds of years to protect the Chinese Empire against the invasions of various nomadic tribes from the Eurasian Steppe such as the Mongol, Turic and Xiongnu people. The wall is approximately 20,000 kilometers long and it is the longest man-made structure in the world. One of the most popular ancient myths related to this fortress was that many people used to believe that the Great Wall was so immense that it could be seen from the moon.

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Christ the Redeemer is a statue located at the peak of the Corcovado mountain in the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The statue, which is one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks, is 30 metres tall and the arms stretch 28 meters wide. The monument was designed by French sculptor Paul Landowski and built by Brazilian engineer Heitor da Silva Costa. The sculpture is considered a symbol of Christianity around the world and is the largest Art Deco statue ever built. To celebrate the monument’s 75th anniversary in 2006, a small chapel was built at the base of the statute.

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Petra is a historical and archaeological site in the Kingdom of Jordan in Western Asia. This ancient city, also known as “The Rose City” because of the colour of the stones used by the Nabataeans to build it, was the trading center and capital of the Nabataean empire. The Nabataeans were a group of Arab people who lived in northern Arabia between 400 B.C. and 106 A.D. For many centuries, “The Lost City” remained unknown to the Western world until it was discovered by Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt in 1812. This captivating city was also a source of inspiration for many writers. In one of his most famous poems, John William Burgon described Petra as “a rose-red city half as old as time“.

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Chichen Itza is an archaeological site located in the Mexican state of Yucatán. In the past, this place was a large pre-Columbian city built by the Mayans over a period of a thousand years. Chichen Itza reached its golden era between 600 and 800 AD and during that period the city was the centre of the political, cultural and economic life of the Maya civilization. Also, this site was a religious centre because it was the seat of power of the priest-kings. Therefore, the most important rites and rituals of the Maya religion took place inside the temples and pyramids of the city.

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GRUNGE ROCK AND THE SEATTLE SOUND

Grunge is a rock subculture that emerged during the mid-1980s in Seattle, a large seaport city in the State of Washington. Grunge music was a mixture of punk rock and heavy metal and, in its early stages, this new kind of music was played by a number of underground bands in low-key venues around the city of Seattle. Even though the sound of these groups was raw and rough like punk rock, many young people started to feel drawn to these bands because they found their style both daring and exciting. Also, teenagers felt identified with the lyrics of the songs because they talked about the worries and problems of young people in a tough world.

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For a couple of years, this subgenre of alternative rock remained a local phenomenon restricted to the city of Seattle. And it was not until the release of Nirvana’s album Nevermind in 1991 that grunge music started to become popular all over the world. Other American bands that contributed to the success of the grunge movement were Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Alice in ChainsThe word “grunge” (1) was first used by a music critic in a magazine to refer to the sloppy and untidy nature of distorted sounds in rock n’ roll in the late 1970s. But it was Mark Arm, the lead vocalist of the group Mudhoney, who first used the term “grunge” in Seattle to describe the sound of his own band. The word immediately caught on in the media and started to be used to refer to the new music genre that had originated in Seattle in the mid-1980s.

(1) The noun “grunge” derives from the adjective “grungy”, which means shabby or dirty in character or condition.

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Although many grunge bands had already broken up or fallen into oblivion in the late 1990s, they still had a strong influence in the evolution of rock n’ roll because they had brought a whole new type of music to the stage and paved the way for other rock bands to emerge such as Foo Fighters, Linkin Park and Stone Temple Pilots. And even though these post-grunge groups lacked the “rebellious essence” of grunge music, they did their best to keep the legacy of the Seattle movement alive. In fact, many critics believe that grunge music has brought about a revolution in the field of rock n’ roll and some of them are convinced that the ethos and spirit of the movement will continue to influence many generations of musicians to come.

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VIKINGS: AN EPIC STORY

Vikings is one of the most successful series on TV at the moment. The show is a thrilling historical drama based on the life of the legendary Norse hero Ragnar Lothbrok, who invaded England and France during the 9th century. The series portrays the rise of Ragnar from farmer and warrior to explorer and conqueror, and eventually (spoiler alert!) Scandinavian king, thanks to the support of his family and fellow warriors.

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Vikings is a gripping story that has a combination of action, adventure and romance. Moreover, it is a saga with deep emotional relationships among the characters, who feel real and authentic to the time period. The series introduces us to the mysterious world of the Vikings and for the first time in a TV show these Scandinavian people are presented as the heroes of the story by keeping the focus on their culture and traditions. For example, throughout the episodes, we get to know about their religion, political structure and family bonds. Also, we learn about their voyages, discoveries and conquests. 

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The Vikings were master seafarers and they developed innovative methods of ship-building and sailing techniques. Some historians believe that the longship was the Vikings’ greatest technological achievement. The revolutionary design of these vessels allowed the Vikings to easily adapt to their environment: they could sail in oceans, rivers or lakes at very high speed, change direction backwards without turning around, perform beach landings and carry the ships over their shoulders. 

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So if you’re a history buff or you just want to enjoy an epic story of intrigue, power and romance, then Vikings is beyond doubt the TV series to watch!

Vikings was written and created by English screenwriter Michael Hirst and it is broadcast by the Canadian TV channel History. Currently, Vikings is on its fourth season and the producers have already announced that the fifth season of the series is going to premiere on November 29th, 2017.

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