Friday, November 15, 2013

Knights, Dragons and Magic Oh My!

Some of my favorite stories originate from history and legends of the British Isles: King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, Guinevere, Merlin, Tristan & Iseult, Robin Hood, Richard III, dragons, sorcerers, The Lady of the Lake and so many others. One of my favorite books is my 1939 copy of The Boy's King Arthur, Sir Thomas Malory's History of King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table illustrated by N.C. Wyeth. This beautiful book is full of stories and illustrations of Arthur, Launcelot, Tristan, the Fair Maid of Astolat, the Holy Grail and many of Arthur's other Knights.

Growing up my son also enjoyed many of these stories, his favorites were tales of Robin Hood, the Sword in the Stone and anything with dragons in it. As more and more movies and TV series were made retelling these stories, special effects evolved so much that when you see a dragon on film it's hard to believe that the creatures never existed.

Some of our favorite film and TV adaptions of these mythical stories include:

  • The early 1980's TV series Robin of Sherwood (a cult classic, my son and I have the series on DVD and have watched each episode many times. Still the best version in my opinion)
  • The 1981 film Excalibur (another cult classic with a who's who of before they became famous actors including Helen Mirren, Patrick Stewart and Liam Neeson)
  • The 1996 movie Dragonheart (my son watched this movie over and over when it was released. Dennis Quaid valiantly tries to save the last dragon from a young King who becomes evil. The dragon's voice is Sean Connery)
  • The 2004 film King Arthur (Clive Owen as Arthur and Keira Knightly as Guinevere)
  • The 2006 Ridley Scott produced film Tristan & Isolde (James Franco and Sophia Myles as the tragic lovers)
I've watched a few episodes of the TV series Robin Hood on Netflix that ran from 2006-2009 on the BBC. It's a fun and more modern interpretation of Robin Hood and not nearly as dark as the 80's TV show Robin of Sherwood. Another series that I've begun on Netflix is Merlin which ran from 2008-2012 on the BBC. This series is fantastic and while it completely mixes up the legends, the adventures of Arthur and Merlin while they are young men is irresistible. If you are a lover of legends and myths you can't go wrong with watching some of the better interpretations of the stories on TV and film. 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

"Rushing" into Life

My son was initiated into his fraternity Phi Gamma Delta (FIJI) at the fraternity headquarters in Lexington Kentucky over the weekend. Transitioning from the military to college has been a challenging but exciting time for him. During his first semester he has maintained an excellent GPA, joined his fraternity and settled into a new life in a new state. I'm incredibly proud of him.

Fraternity and sorority life at American colleges and universities is often referred to as "Greek Life" from the Greek letters that make up the names of the organizations. During my son's "rush" period before he was initiated the fraternity required him to maintain a vigorous study schedule and minimum B+ grade point average, complete weekly hours of community service, attend university activities, study his fraternity's history and participate in a leadership role within his pledge class. Greek Life is not what every college student chooses to participate in but for many students it's a great experience both academically and socially.

My son is the 3rd generation in my family to participate in fraternity and sorority life while in college. My father was a member of Tau Kappa Epsilon, my mother is a Sigma Sigma Sigma, my son's dad is a Delta Tau Delta and I am a member of Pi Beta Phi. After college life we've stayed active in alumnae groups for community, social and work related benefits. Like myself, my son went to college far from Chicago, knowing no one on campus and his fraternity will be a great source of friendship and support for him. I have a feeling he is going to enjoy his college years to the fullest, it's a once in a lifetime experience.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

"I want to be a dancer"

Like so many little girls do I started dancing when I was a child at a local dance school in my neighborhood. In high school and college I danced in school dance companies and enjoyed the practices, the performances and the relationships that develop when you spend hours with other dancers. And like any dancer who has ever worn through a pair of pink ballet slippers it was fun to dream of the "glamorous" life of ballerinas.

"Glamorous" lives of ballerinas involve a lot of bloody feet, hours of daily practice, years of pain management and even more years of patience. Actress Sarah Jessica Parker who famously twirls in a pink tutu in the opening of every episode of Sex and the City produced an online docudrama series about the lives of New York City Ballet dancers. The first episode begins with dancers in the school of ballet and as the series progresses the dancers are promoted through the corps to soloists and finally to principals.  Relationships, injuries, social lives, practices and performances are all shown, including glimpses of the famous ballet Swan Lake which is so demanding 3 principal ballerinas dance as the main character.

You can watch each episode, all are under 7 minutes in length at city.ballet on AOL.