The Dragon Who Yelled “Fire!”


OK, so the dragon didn’t yell “Fire!”…he brought it with him! You may not believe in fire-breathing dragons and I didn’t either – at least not until our recent visit to Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. As part of that theme park is an area called The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. There is a re-creation of places and things from the movie series, and this dragon sits atop Gringotts bank.

It was a cold morning and I was captivated by the beast so I started taking some pictures. A bit later, as I stood closer to the beast, he let go with a blast of fire! I must confess I wasn’t expecting that, but it was grateful for it, because even down on the ground, you could feel the heat from the fire he was belching from his throat! I looked him up a bit later and learned (at least on a couple sites) that he isn’t programmed to breathe fire on a schedule, it is on its own to decide when to let go with firey fury, but that may just be marketing fancifulness. Usually, you can tell when it is about to fire away because there’s a “growling” sound that precedes the fire. Check it out if you go there. And if you hear it start to growl, get your camera ready!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1841, Herman Melville shipped out on the whaler Acushnet to the South Seas.

Melville was born in New York City in 1819. A childhood bout of scarlet fever permanently weakened his eyesight. He went to sea at age 19, as a cabin boy on a ship bound for Liverpool. Two years later, he sailed for the South Seas.

The Acushnet anchored in Polynesia, where Melville took part in a mutiny. He was thrown in jail in Tahiti, escaped, and wandered around the South Sea islands for two years. In 1846, he published his first novel, Typee, based on his Polynesian adventures. His second book, Omoo (1847), also dealt with the region. The two novels were popular successes, although his third, Mardi(1849), more experimental in nature, failed to catch on with the public. In 1851, Harper & Brothers published Moby-Dick. The book flopped and was not recognized as a classic for many years.

Meanwhile, Melville bought a farm near Nathaniel Hawthorne’s house in Massachusetts, and the two became close friends. Melville continued writing novels and highly acclaimed short stories. Putnam’s Monthly published “Bartleby the Scrivener” in 1853 and “Benito Cereno” in 1855.

In 1866, Melville won appointment as a customs inspector in New York, which brought him a stable income. He published several volumes of poetry. He continued to write until his death in 1891, and his last novel, Billy Budd, was not published until 1924.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: in 1998, Benoît Lecomte became the first man to swim across the Atlantic Ocean without a kickboard. He swam an average of eight hours a day for 73 days, resting and eating on a boat in between swims. In 2016, he announced plans to swim the Pacific.[


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