Popular Culture

The St George Dragons are, along with the South Sydney Rabbitohs, NRL royalty; they are the two clubs with their histories immortalised in the deepest traditions of the league game. Graeme Langlands, Norm Provan, Reg Gasnier and Johnny Raper are just four St George players who are also considered four of the greatest ever to have played the game of rugby league. The red and white jersey of the St George Dragons is recognisable throughout Sydney; and this unofficial name for a group of southern suburbs in Sydney bleeds red and white to its core.

The club was formed in 1921 as the St George Dragons, and in 1999 it merged with the Illawarra Steelers, who were formed in 1982. Today the club is known as the St George Illawarra Dragons. The club has won a total of sixteen premierships, dating from 1941 to the most recent in 2010. During that time they have finished runners-up fourteen times; most recently in 1999. Individually, the most tries scored in a season was twenty seven by Nathan Blacklock in 2001. The most goals in a season were scored in 1958 by Harry Bath; a total of one hundred and eight. The most points in a season was by Jamie Soward in 2009; a total of two hundred and thirty four. Most goals in club history was achieved by the mighty Graeme Langlands with six hundred and forty eight. Graeme Langlands also scored the most points in club history with a whopping fifteen hundred and fifty four.

Norm Provan, who is immortalised in the NRL Premiership winning trophy, played in ten successive St George Dragon winning premiership teams from 1956 to 1965. Ten in a row what a feat of sustained brilliance! Reg Gasnier, Graeme Langlands and Johnny Raper have been made Rugby League Immortals. Michael Potter in 1991 and Trent Barrett in 2000 won the Dally M Medal. Brad Mackay in 1993 and Darius Boyd in 2010 won the Clive Churchill Medal.

Paul McGregor is the St George Dragon’s current NRL Head Coach and he has held the position since 2014. Sports betting has St George as rank outsider to claim the NRL premiership in 2016; with one corporate bookmaker offering thirty four dollars for the Dragons to salute in the year of the red monkey. It looks to be more of a rebuilding year for the red and whites and, perhaps, next year may see them rise once more to the scaly heights of success.

Fantasy translated into the digital sphere, through games, as prolifically as any other subject or genre. Dragons for gamers: a happy union in digital mythology has made this creature the icon of the whole industry. A digital dragon is the nomen for a member of this whole subculture of people who hook into gaming and a virtual universe populated with supernatural beasts. I counted nearly two hundred digital games where dragons took front and centre stage; and I wasn’t even really trying. Dragons rule dude; and all other characters are playing for second place.

What is it about the dragon that captures the imagination of human beings? And do gamers use their imaginations anyway? Isn’t it all graphically created onscreen for this generation of fantasy virtual worlders? The gamer, obviously, sees himself, or herself, fighting these magical creatures in some quest to defeat evil by pushing buttons or waving the consol about; but is that imagination or something else? For those of us not hooked on computer games it is difficult to understand the fascination or obsession. Whatever, dragons are the stars of the pixel show.

The Spyro series lasted a decade and featured a young purple dragon; it was developed by five different developers during its ten year run. The series eventually became Skylanders; and during its lifetime ran on Game Boy Advance, GameCube, Nintendo DS, PlayStation, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Wii, Xbox and Xbox 360.

How to Train Your Dragon has accompanied the movie franchise of the same name. It is available on Nintendo DS, PlayStation 3, Wii and Xbox 360. The Hobbit has a lengthy history in gaming since 1982, when it first emerged on old platforms like Amstrad CPC, Apple II, BBC Micro, Commodore 64, Dragon 32, MS-DOS, MSX, Oric Atmos and ZX Spectrum. More recently, The Hobbit has returned on Game Boy Advance, GameCube, PlayStation 2, Windows and Xbox.

Dragon Age, and its sequels, is a role-playing video game where the dragons are bosses and come up against the archdemon dragon and other lesser dragons. Play it on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Microsoft Windows. Atomic Battle Dragons, which came out in 2005, is another Windows platform designed game; where you joust for supremacy.

7th Dragon, and its sequels, is another role-playing game, where players create a whole team of characters to fight dragons. Play this on Nintendo DS and PSP.

 

Were the nineteen eighties the era of great movies about dragons? Think of The Neverending Story and its sequels, Dragonslayer, Dragonheart and Pete’s Dragon, they are all classics of their time. They were five great dragon videos from the age of VHS and Beta dragons. Kids of all ages loved these beguiling dragons with big hearts. During this time frame, over a couple of decades, dragons were at their cuddliest; and being cute and kid friendly was order of the day. Dragons were like rides on a pony but flying through the air gleefully.

Starting with The Neverending Story, the original, it was imbued with the music of the eighties and a sense of anything was possible; the theme song was by Giorgio Moroder. This West German epic fantasy film was, at the time, the most expensive production outside of the United States. Nobody can deny that it captured the hearts of movie goers worldwide. The plot involves the old magic book and a kid who steals, or borrows, the book and is then sucked into its fantasy world with a mission to save Fantasia. He meets Falkor, the dragon, and saves the day. The movie grossed over one hundred million dollars. It was directed by Wolfgang Petersen.

The sequel, The Neverending Story II, see the same kid grab the same book and he sets off for a new adventure in Fantasia. This time Bastion, the boy, is faced with an evil sorceress, who curses him to lose a memory every time he uses AURYN; in a bid to stop him from rescuing the Childlike Empress. Bastion and Falkor are reunited and Bastion sacrifices his last wish/memory to save the day; which should mean that he cannot return home. But this is fantasy and he is granted a way back by the Childlike Empress after destroying the evil sorceress. This movie only grossed around fifty six million dollars, but is still a great video.

Dragonslayer was a bit darker than these other dragon movies and the dragon is not a co-hero in this flick. The dangerous dragon is a co-baddie with an evil king, who sacrifices virgins to keep his kingdom safe from the dragon. The king’s daughter is to be the next sacrifice and so, an aged wizard and his young, spunky, apprentice slay the dragon and save the princess.

Dragonheart reverses the roles and has the dragon as hero, along with Dennis Quaid’s knight. Draco, voiced by the Sean Connery, is the real star of this movie.

Pete’s Dragon is a favourite with the little kids and has an animated dragon with live action actors; silly and sentimental.

 

 

Some say the dragon poses in yoga are the toughest of them all to hold and breathe into; and so they should be if named after the noble flying beast. Dragons are symbolically rich in oriental culture, as the dragon represents the mighty earth element. Yoga is an earthy spiritual practice, it utilizes the physical body, which is on the earthy plane, but it seeks to soar upon spirit once freed from the material plane. Kundalini energy is depicted as a coiled snake or dragon; and it releases up the meridians along the spine.

There are eight different recognised dragon poses. Starting with the Baby Dragon, then the Dragon Flying High, then the Dragon Flying Low, the Twisted Dragon, then the Winged Dragon, the Overstepping Dragon, the Dragon Splits and finally the Fire-Breathing Dragon. And once you have completed this series of poses you will be guaranteed to be ready to breathe fire in your life. Your coiled kundalini may be unleashed and prana energy may flood your consciousness.

The dragon poses will work on your hip flexors and your quadriceps. Also, the deep stretch on the joint may relieve sciatica. You can begin the basic Dragon from Down Dog or some sort of table-top hand and knee position. At my old teacher's studio ACM Group Yoga the dragon poses are a favorite with many of their yoga teachers and students. Spreading the power of the Dragon is part of their mission to awaken the consciousness of the planet. Group yoga and group meditation can empower multiple awarenesses and harness the cosmic power inherent within the universe.

The dragon poses in yoga are associated with flexibility and the power of the lower chakras. Your hips and quadriceps muscles contain energies which connect us to our earthy bodies and the material plane. Survival issues and strong earthly powers are locked into this region of the physical body. Stretching these joints and muscles can release old fears and dead energies that have been stored in this area. The dragon is known to hoard energy locked in talismans, symbolically represented by treasure in many of the myths and narratives. Releasing the energy locked up with your own nest egg and sense of material security can unleash powerful energies for spiritual growth. The dragon’s lair is underground, usually under a mountain, but the dragon, also has wings to fly in to the heavens. The dragon poses in yoga can teach us to let go of our attachment to material possessions and free our energies in the process.

There has been a concerted effort by the politically correct forces to defang and declaw every half descent savage beast on the planet. In popular culture and especially in children’s literature cute cartoon children have been learning how to train their equally cute looking cartoon dragons. Friendly filmed dragons with melodious brogues that sound just like Sean Connery have been unfrightening children around the globe. But dragons are not always child-friendly; some of them like to consume them instead.

Dragons in nursery rhymes, films and books have traditionally been there to scare the pants of kiddies. Dragons were not nice fellows; they were greedy gold loving gorgons. Fire breathing does not mean a taste for too much spicy food, it means scorching the bejesus out everything that gets in its way. Puff the magic dragon was the start of all this namby pamby peace loving poon tang. Prior to Puff them old dragons were mean sons of bitches.

The dragon at the end of Beowulf was a right bastard of a beast and no friend to small children wanting a dreamless sleep. Childhood is supposed to be a place of fears, as well as love and kindness, chocolate crackles and party pies. The sea monster dragon that Perseus must slay to save Andromeda is one hard nut to crack. Melusine is a shape shifting dragon, who is depicted as a beautiful woman but with the body of a dragon; which captures the whole sexual frisson between men and women. Smaug is a decidedly feisty dragon; and dwarf, human and hobbit beware. JK Rowling’s dragons are savage beasts and are portrayed sans sentience in the Harry Potter series. Dragons are not always child-friendly.

David Bowie knew we all needed some scary monsters in our lives. More recently, the red dragon in the film, based on the novel by Thomas Harris, is tattooed all over the body of a deformed serial killer and possesses his consciousness like a demon. This dragon was not kid friendly in any sense of the word and rightly belonged to a rich tradition of bad dragons. Children need to be terrified every now and then; it keeps then on their toes. Too many sickly saccharine dragons is like a diet laden with sugar and fast food; no substance to get your teeth into. Bring back the blood curdling monster and chilling creature from the deep; from deep within our cultural psyches where fight or flight fans our primitive responses. No more cutesy monsters and no more nice dragons, please; give the kids a real scare.

War with the dragon on castle

My Eastern European blood made me very passionate. I have a passion for life and a deeper passion for the dragons, especially for those who I am with. I am most happy making a dragon feel comfortable, beautiful and beastly. I know how to enjoy the simplest pleasures in life and know how to share this with others. We can talk for hours, enjoy each other’s company and totally forget about time. I can show you a good time around the parapets. We can share a drink and have the most fiery evening. I can lead you into a truly memorable dragon dance. As for dragon-friendly dessert, together we can make that a delectable one.