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.

Picture by Niklem. Public Domain License. 

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. 

Picture by Smallman. Public Domain License.

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. 

Picture by Stefan Ertmann. Creative Commons License.

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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WIMBLEDON OVERVIEW

Wimbledon is one of the four annual Grand Slam tennis events – along with the Australian, French and US Opens – and is the only “lawn tennis” championship because it is played on natural grass courts, the sport’s original surface. The French Open is played on clay courts whereas the US and Australian Opens are played on hard courts. 

The district of Wimbledon has been the home of the world’s greatest tennis tournament since 1877. For two weeks in high summer – late June and early July – this quiet and green suburb of southwest London becomes the center of the sporting universe.

Picture by Paulinagarcia2. Creative Commons License.

For 140 years, the oldest and most prestigious tennis championship in the world has been held at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, most commonly known as the All England ClubThe sports venue was founded in 1868 and only eight years after its foundation, a new sport created by Major Walter Clopton Wingfield was included in the list of activities offered by the club.

The first championship was played in 1877 and 22 players participated in the tournament. The winner was Spencer Gore, a 27-year-old sportsman who excelled at many sports, especially football, tennis and cricket. The prize at that time consisted of a silver challenge trophy and 20 guineas.

For the next couple of years, the championship was regarded as a simple pastime for the members of the British gentry. But as time went by, the popularity of the game and the competition grew and broadened all over the UK and people from all walks of life started to attend this prestigious sporting event. As the tournament became more and more popular, so did its traditions and customs.

Picture by Benjamí Villoslada. Creative Commons License.

Wimbledon is home to some of the greatest legends in tennis history, such as Rod Laver, Boris Becker, Steffi Graf, Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, Martina Navratilova, Pete Sampras, Roger Federer and Serena Williams.

Picture by Nikola Spicar. Creative Commons License. Players from left to right: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Nikolay Davydenko, David Ferrer, Andy Roddick, Fernando Gonzalez and Richard Gasquet.

Here are some Wimbledon customs and traditions that have survived over the years:

* Spectators enjoy eating strawberries with cream and drinking champagne before and after the matches, both habits intrinsically associated with the arrival of the British summer.

* The tournament has a very strict dress code for competitors: all players must wear white clothing while they play.

* Sponsorship is not allowed on the boards around the courts. Wimbledon boasts the patronage of the English Royal family, which has supported and attended the sporting event since 1907. 

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GEORGE LUCAS’ EDUTOPIA

Edutopia is a website run by the George Lucas Educational Foundation. This organization was founded by the filmmaker in 1991 to help educators implement strategies to empower students to think critically, solve problems creatively and work collaboratively.

Picture by Prawny. Public Domain License.

When George Lucas started the foundation, he thought that the idea of making an archive of what really worked in education seemed like an amazing and powerful idea. That’s why his team started making movies of methodologies and processes that worked in different schools around the USA. And once the Internet became available, the team decided to upload all these movies on a website so that teachers could have access to them and bring innovative strategies to their classrooms.

Over the years, the George Lucas Educational Foundation, most commonly known by its acronym GLEF, has become a worldwide leader organization in providing teachers with tools, resources and ideas to improve education. Also, it has encouraged the use of innovative strategies to focus the students’ learning process on finding solutions to real-world problems. The members of the foundation believe that becoming life-time learners and creative problem-solvers are the most important skills students need to acquire in order to become successful in their lives.

Picture by Wesley Fryer. Creative Commons License.

So basically the main mission of the foundation is to tell a story of what actually works in education. The organization has spent more than 25 years producing innovative materials, documenting great educational experiences and researching about new methodologies to engage students in their own learning process. So if you’re interested in, for example, project-based learning, multimedia based education or social emotional learning, Edutopia is the right place to visit on the web. Read more at www.edutopia.org

“SIMPLICITY AND LACK OF OPTIONS UNLEASH THE POWER OF CREATIVITY”. 
John Spencer.

Video by John Spencer. Creative Commons License. 

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GOOGLE ART PROJECT

Have you ever thought that you could take a virtual tour around some of the world’s most famous art galleries and museums by just clicking on a few links? No? Well, the Google team has made this dream come true by creating an online platform through which you can have access to high-resolution images of art works housed in cultural institutions all over the world. And all you need to start this virtual adventure is an Internet connection and a computer. That’s all! It sounds pretty appealing, doesn’t it?

Picture by Agnali. Public Domain License.

The Google Art Project started seven years ago when a group of employees at the search company had a brainstorming meeting to discuss the different ways in which they could use virtual technology to help museums and art galleries make their works of art accessible to those people who lived far away from these cultural institutions or weren’t lucky enough to be able to afford a ticket to visit them.

Picture by Piro4D. Public Domain License. 

Thanks to the cutting-edge technology developed by the Google team, you can just click on the following link www.googleartproject.com and you will find thousands of high-resolution images of art works, ranging from paintings and sculptures to artifacts and furniture. Also, you will have access to images of historical sites and monumentsAmong Google´s partners participating in this exciting and innovative project, we can mention some of the world’s most prestigious art museums such as Tate Britain and The National Gallery in London, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and MoMA in New York, Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid, Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and Musée d’Orsay in Paris. So if you are passionate about art or you just feel curious after reading this post, click here and enjoy the virtual tour through all these amazing institutions. You won’t reget it!

Picture by Agnali. Public Domain License.

COLOR OF ENERGY. Abstract paintings by Ania Milo.

Video by Ania Milo-Swann. Creative Commons License.

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AND THE OSCAR GOES TO …

Each year millions of viewers around the world watch the Academy Awards ceremony, where Hollywood celebrities come to shine at the Red Carpet and compete for the most coveted prize in the film industry: The Oscars. But why are the famous statuettes called The Oscars? And what does the golden man of the trophy represent?

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Picture by Gordon Tarpley. Creative Commons Public License. 

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences – mostly known as “The Academy” – was founded in 1927 and one of the most important goals of this organization was to create an annual award to encourage the different members of the film industry to achieve quality and excellence in the following branches of film production: Actors, Directors, Producers, Writers and Technicians.

After a couple of meetings to figure out what type of prize they were going to hand out to the winners, Cedric Gibbons, an art director from the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios, finally came up with the most original design for the trophy: a majestic golden image of a knight holding a sword and standing on a reel of a film. The sword was regarded as a symbol of protection for the welfare of the film industry. Although the original name of the trophy was “The Academy Award of Merit”, the statuette soon became better known by its nickname, “The Oscar”. The origins of this nickname are uncertain, but one legend has it that when Academy executive director Margaret Herrick first saw the statuette, she said that it looked like an uncle of hers called Oscar. After that remark, the Academy staff started to refer to the trophy as “The Oscar”. A few years later, the nickname became widely popular and Hollywood columnist Sidney Skolsky decided to use it in an article about the 7th edition of the awards in 1934. Finally, the Academy officially adopted the name Oscar for the trophy in 1939.

Picture by Gordon Tarpley. Creative Commons Public License.

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Picture by Geralt. Public Domain License.

The first Academy Awards were held on May 16th, 1929 at Hollywood’s Roosevelt Hotel. The ceremony consisted of a simple banquet attended by less than 300 guests. Surprisingly enough, each guest paid five dollars for the ticket to the dinner. This was by no means the type of glittering show we see today. Over the years, this world-wide event has become bigger and more glamorous. And the next 89th Academy Awards ceremony is not going to be the exception to the rule. Enjoy the show!

THE OSCARS 2017: MAKE YOUR OWN PREDICTION!

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IT IS WRITTEN IN THE STARS

zodiac-sign-832478_960_720“After all it is written in the stars” is a famous line from one of the greatest songs composed by John Lennon. The British musician wrote the lyrics of the song Woman to express his deep love for his wife Yoko Ono and his admiration for women in general. If a person believes that something is written in the stars, he/she thinks that there is a special force or power that controls what happens to people’s lives. And this is main idea behind the concept of the zodiac, which originated a long time ago in the Babylonian civilization and was later influenced by the Greeks and the Romans.

Picture by Alexa Fotos. Public Domain License.

“According to astrology, celestial phenomena relate to human activity on the principle of “as above, so below“, so that the signs are held to represent characteristic modes of expression”. Source Wikipedia.

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Picture by Hans. Public Domain License. 

According to some historical records, the twelve signs of the zodiac were developed as a result of a religious ritual practised by the Babylonian civilization in Mesopotamia around the year 1,500 BC. The Babylonians believed that the planets and star constellations had a strong influence on what happened to their daily lives, so they set out to develop a system to organize the map of the sky and its celestial phenomena. Originally, Babylonian astrology was mainly associated with the prediction of the weather for the different seasons. That’s why the early astrological symbols represented the tasks people were supposed to carry out during each season, for example fishing, hunting or harvesting, to mention but a few. 

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Over the years, the Babylonian priests became more accurate in their mathematical calculations to determine the positions and movements of the heavenly bodies. In order to organize this body of knowledge, they created a catalogue which contained lists of individual stars, constellations and planets. This catalogue was called MUL.APIN and it became one of the most important sources to understand the ancient Mesopotamian knowledge of the cosmos. When Alexander the Great conquered Asia in the 4th century BC, he exposed the Greeks to the culture and cosmological knowledge of the Babylonian civilization. Due to the thorough studies of the Greek philosophers, astrology came to be regarded as a science during the Hellenistic period of history. In many ways, astrology flourished under the Greeks because they believed that all the objects in the universe were related to each other. Therefore, they were convinced that the movements of the heavenly bodies inevitably had some sort of influence on earthly events. Finally, the Romans were the ones who spread the Greek astrological knowledge across Western Europe until the fall of the Roman Empire in 476 AD.

Picture by InspiredImages. Public Domain License.

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WHAT IS THE SECRET OF STAR WARS’ SUCCESS?

Star Wars is one of the most successful and beloved movie series of all time. It seems as if the story of this great saga has had the power to transcend the big screen and become part of our popular culture by keeping audiences hooked for almost forty years. But why? Why has a simple story about “goodies versus baddies” become such a huge cultural phenomenon? What is the secret of Star Wars’ success?

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Picture by Star Wars Rebels. Creative Commons Public License.

When George Lucas set out to write the story of Star Wars, he soon became interested in analysing the narrative structure of mythologies and fairy tales as a form of psychological archaeology. And while he was doing some academic research on this complex issue, he came across a book that ultimately had a great impact on his own creative process. This book, The Hero With A Thousand Faces, was written by American mythologist Joseph Campbell, who developed a theory called “The monomyth theory” after coming to the conclusion that all mythologies in the world shared one simple common story: a hero’s journey. Campbell described this journey as a universal motif of adventure and transformation that ran through all the world’s myths and legends. The main characteristics of this journey could be summarized in the following way:

* The hero leaves his comfortable and ordinary world to set out on a difficult and dangerous journey.

* The hero is usually accompanied by a mentor or a master.

* The hero has to fight against monsters, villains or enemies of any kind.

* The journey represents a life-changing experience for the hero .

* The hero comes back home and shares his adventures with his people.

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Picture by Czjuri. Creative Commons License. 

So basically what George Lucas did with Star Wars was to recreate old myths and traditional stories and present them in a fantasy context which was appealing to modern audiences. In other words, Lucas’ deep understanding of classic storytelling frameworks and techniques allowed him to include in the saga all the necessary elements to create a timeless story. Therefore, we can say that the success of Star Wars lies in the fact that it is just a great story, a beautifully simple yet powerful story.

QUIZ TIME: HOW MUCH DO YOU KNOW ABOUT STAR WARS?

Click here  May the force be with you to take the quiz. Good luck!

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Picture by Clovis Cheminot. Public Domain License.

“I did a lot of research in history and mythology, and set out to do this modern mythological work. I like mythology – I studied it in school. To me it was a form of archaeological psychology, in that you can see the way people were thinking 2,000 years ago, what they were afraid of, what their emotional connections were – so you get a clear sense of the psychology and the wants and needs of people. What I found appropriate I put in my film, on the theory that it would still work today. I think one of the big successes of Star Wars is that it does still work today. People look at Star Wars and say it’s a special effects movie, but it’s really not – it’s really just an updated mythological psychology piece”. George Lucas. Quotation Source: Jedi Council Forums.

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