Thursday, April 30, 2015

Advertising: Lipstick Queen Promotes Frog Lips

Whimsy and advertising today. Fairy tales are often referenced in make-up but usually it's to do with princesses and in recent years, sexy villains. This new lipstick  - released less than a week ago - is slightly different:

A green lipstick that "uses the natural pH in your lips" to produce a unique shade that suits you.

"Things aren't always what they seem. Sometimes you have to kiss a few frogs before you find your prince!" Poppy King, Lipstick Queen
Get heads turning with Frog Prince, a remarkable emerald green lipstick that transforms into magical rosebud upon contact with the lips. Don't be fooled by the deep green hue of this semi-sheer lipstick - the green reacts with the warmth of your lips turning them an intense, fairy tale rose. No two pairs of lips will look the same as it adapts according to your pH and natural coloring, appearing entirely different yet beautifully flattering on everyone. Vitamin E and Shea Butter keep lips soft, hydrated and deliciously kissable. And just like true love itself, this enchanting shade was made to last. Lips remain their blissful pink all day long from just one lingering, magical Frog Prince kiss.
I'm having flashbacks to the 80's when there were those 'mood lipsticks' that were weird colors (including green) that changed your lips to be some sort of pink color. Trouble is, for me, it always looked like I'd gotten into my mother's lipsticks and used precisely the worst shade possible. Worse? It didn't come off very easily!

Clearly they're having a big campaign push for this particular lipstick and new photos from a sexy photo shoot have been appearing almost every day this week. It started with this one..

And went into this sequence:

Obviously , they're having a lot of fun with it. (But you cannot tell me she looked like a frog before putting this on!)

They also released an 'Ice Queen' lipstick toward the end of last year, which seems popular, though it didn't have a whole photoshoot to go with it. The artwork is nice though.

It’s all about intergalactic gorgeousness with Ice Queen, Lipstick Queen’s shimmering white lipstick flecked with silver and gold. This icy cool shade will tint your lips a sparkling and translucent snowy white, bringing an ethereal beauty to your look, and yet is still transparent enough to allow the natural pink of your lips to shine through. Ice Queen is enhanced with ultra-flattering shimmer particles that catch the light to create an ice cool, sexy look.  You can say goodbye too to dry, chapped lips common during the winter months as Ice Queen is formulated with anti-oxidant Vitamin E and nourishing oils to ensure the lips remain comfortable, soft and super-hydrated!

I have no experience with these and I'm not the sort of person who will pay $25 for a lipstick to start with but if you collect fairy tale novelty, these ones might be "just right" for you.

(Jeepers, I sounds like an ad...)

I have to admit - I do like the look of the box.

You can find Frog Prince HERE and Ice Queen HERE.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

NBC's "Grimm" Tackles "Iron Hans"

Grimm has been doing some interesting things with fairy tales this season. While I haven't been entirely on board with the occasional defaulting to the "wesen of the week" formula, and it was all I could do not to throw something at the screen when we took a left-nose dive into soap-land with -yet another- baby (seriously - if there must be a baby - can't we have the one that we're already attached to?), BUT they've been doing some very interesting explorations of the fairy tale referenced for the episode. It isn't just in the 'mystery of the week/wesen of the week' aspect (which have been variable) but with regard to the main characters' evolutions and challenges - that's where the use of fairy tales in the show has gotten quite noteworthy.

This week (aired April 24th, 2015) it was Iron Hans - which was also the title of the episode. We started, however, with a quote by Jack London from Call of the Wild:
The main story line was a little predictable, but if you tuned into the theme and watched what was going on with the other characters, things got a WHOLE lot more interesting.

For those of you not familiar with Iron Hans, it's one of those stories I feel is truly important if you are working with little boys*, or boys in general, or men. This isn't "no girls allowed" territory so much as addressing the importance of boys and men learning to deal with their wild sides (aka testosterone etc) and all that comes with it. Women have their stories (which men can learn from of course, but they're still primarily women's stories) and this is a man's story. And it's an important one.

Why? Because it's a story that emphasizes what's needed to become the best man you can be - by understanding and embracing 'both' sides of a male's nature and a man having mastery over himself - his whole self.

In case you're not familiar with the fairy tale, here's a quick synopsis of Grimms' Iron Hans:

Iron Hans by Xun Wang
Iron Hans is a tale type listed under "Wild man as helper" (AT-type 502) and sort of has two parts: One is about the Wild Man himself, with skin as hard and dark as iron, who makes the forest a very dangerous place at the beginning of the story, with many great hunters disappearing never to be seen again. Eventually, though, the Wild Man is captured, caged and put on display as a curiosity.

That's the first part of the first story - the rest is revealed as part of the second.

The other part  - considered the main part - is about a young prince, who, years after the Wild Man, also known as Iron Hans (or Iron John) is captured, sets him free. The Prince, destined for punishment for this deed, is then pitied by the Wild Man and kindly taken into the forest.

It turns out Iron John is powerful and guards secrets he trains the boy to also look after. But the boy, playing one day, does what he shouldn't, his hair turns to gold as a result (making his misstep obvious) and the Prince is sent away, though Iron Hans tells the boy he can call on him should he ever really need it.

The Prince, covering his hair, masquerades as a gardner for a king then in a time of war, sees an opportunity, calls on Iron Hans to be provided with armor & other warrior requirements, goes into battle and is successful. The Prince then returns all he borrowed to Iron Hans before going back to his former post, by which time the king is looking for the valiant knight so he can give his daughter's hand in marriage as a reward. (Don't worry - the princess isn't as passive in this whole thing as this summary would lead you to believe.) Eventually the Prince is found out, returned to his station, married and reunited with his parents. As for the Wild Man, he attends the wedding as well, but as his newly revealed, real self - a man who was under enchantment until someone worthy and pure of heart set him free.

(You can find the full text at the trusty SurLaLune site HERE and a nice audio retelling of the Grimm's tale (via YouTube) HERE.)

Now that you have an overview, it should come as no surprise that the 'wesen of the week' side of things dealt with wesen boys being initiated into manifesting their 'true' (wesen) natures - and going on a hunt. Not a hugely new concept - I've known of adventure treks and survival camps that "make men out of boys" my whole life, but this had the wesen twist, of course. The point of this being that these little modern wesens are required to "disconnect" from their devices, go camping without too many comforts and, ultimately hunt. But unlike their ancestors it was rabbits - not people. And therein lies the conflict because someone IS hunting people... yadda yadda.

So you get the idea - wild natures, having to come to terms with that, accept not reject, yet mastery of instincts not slaves of ones urges etc etc

On the main character's arcs, though, the theme is far more interesting. You have Monroe, a reformed Blutbad (think Big Bad Wolf) who has to face his past in which he gave into his nature and hunted - for real, and how far he's come and how that's all come together to be a good thing now - and he gets to explain this to these young boys, in the wild.

Considering the role of prey versus predator and the roles in the show of hunting predators (that Monroe is now part of), it mixes it all up quite nicely.



... Nick's girlfriend, Juliette, is not only accepting her new 'state' as a Hexenbiest, she's loving it and she's loving the power and being bad. And that's a whole bunch of bad news. When we see Juliette last, it's via the light of the flames of Aunt Marie's trailer as it - and the most precious Grimm resources and history on the planet - go up in smoke. As far as mythology for the show goes, that's about as unforgivable as you can get. Even being unfaithful to Nick doesn't come close to that betrayal - and she's putting much of humanity in danger as a result too. It's seriously bad stuff. Because she's completely giving in to her 'wild' side, she's losing her humanity as a result.


It's the exact opposite of what the Prince learns with the Wild Man with the iron skin.

There's more but I'm not intending to go into the show in detail, just to point out a very interesting use of the fairy tale - from both a male point of view and a female one.

And if you're connecting parts of Iron Hans with other fairy tales you know (and there are a few!) then you can see reflections of other themes at play in this episode and this story arc as well. (If you do a mind map and take the various motifs you can see the connections very clearly.) I could also totally segue into a discussion on the Green Man similarities as well as Cernunnos and other forest man but that's a different discussion that would take more coffee than I've had today, but once your mind starts wandering in those directions, you find yourself coming back around to the importance of man being connected to nature as well as 'men's nature'.

If you're following Grimm, there's a fun review and recap of the episode HERE which I recommend, and it talks about some of the other aspects of the episode in detail too, which, now that you know the fairy tale a little better, you can consider in the light of the Iron Hans theme.

And a little trivia: this isn't the first time Iron Hans has been referenced in NBCs Grimm. In the first season, the opening quote from an episode called Cat and Mouse, was also from the fairy tale. (The part at the beginning where all the great hunters were disappearing into the forest never to be seen again, perplexing, and frightening everyone.)
* Having a son of my own, that I am trying to guide to become the best man he can be, it's a great touchstone story to help me in parenting decisions. [There's a great book I need to pull out and read again, now my son is a little older, called Iron John: A Book About Men by Robert Bly. Although some of the issues discussed might be dated (eg the impact of Vietnam etc) overall I remember it being an excellent consideration of true manhood.] From the preface of Bly's Iron John:
"We are living at an important and fruitful moment now, for it is clear to men that the images of adult manhood given by the popular culture are worn out; a man can no longer depend on them. By the time a man is thirty-five he knows that the images of the right man, the tough man, the true man which he received in high school do not work in life. Such a man is open to new visions of what a man is or could be... In this book I am talking about male initiation... this book does not seek to turn men against women, nor to return men to the domineering mode that has led to repression of women and their values for centuries. The thought in this book does not represent a challenge to the women's movement. The two movements are related to each other, but each moves on a separate timetable."

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

A Wilde Weekend! (A Multi-Arts Weekend Event Celebrating the Life & Works of Oscar Wilde)

I was completely blown away when I followed the breadcrumbs to this four day event, titled A Wilde Weekend. And it sounds... completely amazing.

First of all - it's a four day, multi-disciplinary Arts event (!), celebrating the life and works of Oscar Wilde, in various locations around beautiful Irish countryside and landmarks.

What does that mean?

It means there is a four day program filled with:
- plays - full and partial
- readings & dialogues
- film presentations
- live music
- magical mystery garden tour
- a tour of an amazing period house, complete with scenes of Wilde plays in various rooms
- artwork
- photographs
- period costumes wherever you go with actors helping set the atmosphere
- period social events (like dinner parties under the stars as Wilde himself loved, hosted and attended)
- talks and discussions by experts and scholars
- community costumed picnics
- and more!

And - I have to include notice of two things:

One -  they're GILDING A STATUE, just like The Happy Prince, and will be leaving it to the elements to flake off over time..!

Two - they're having a DINNER IN THE DARK, to simulate the silver mine dinner Wilde had in Colorado (the US). This will be a dining experience complete with blindfolds and pitch darkness to try your dinner, dessert and drink in...

I'm just astonished. It's EXACTLY the sort of immersive, Arts-based event I think people should experience - with excellence and professionalism on every level available to the public, from locations and presenters, to involving every sense (taste, smell, touch, sound, sight, and all the other ones too).

Even the whole PDF for this program is gorgeous (click on any of the side-by-side images shown above to see and read it full size). It's also huge - pages and pages - and I can't figure out how to embed the whole thing so I'm including some pages that may catch your eye. You can find the full, beautiful PDF HERE (just the program is creatively inspiring!).

The date is the Bank Holiday weekend (May 1st to 4th) and takes place in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh (Ireland) and you can pay to attend various events or for the whole weekend.

Here are all the links you need:
Twitter is HERE
Facebook is HERE
PDF of the program and various events descriptions is HERE

And if anybody gets to go to any of this please tell us! I want to hear all about it. (And then I want someone to do a similar event close to where I am please!)

Monday, April 27, 2015

Disney's "Descendants" Trailer

It's coming and this made-for-TV-movie is premiering on Disney Channel in July. Looks like the advertising is about to get intense.

There is a prequel book, a whole toy line (already, yes - I think that's why they're making this movie actually), and accessories popping up all over the place.

Here's the main trailer (there are also character trailers which you can watch HERE):

I'm... not quite on board with this whole thing.
Ever After High already does it better. Way better.

My biggest problem with it, is that any substance in any of these stories, fairy tale, mythic or otherwise, really appears to have been watered down very significantly and left without much of a leg to stand on, Instead of being a fun fantasy with substantial roots, it's turned into dismissible fantasy fluff (with what-the-heck costumes). The character promos at least talk about the 'origin stories' of their 'parents', and it does look like the cast had fun at least, but these villain-kids don't hold a candle to what the Ever After High characters (who are also descendants of fairy tale characters) have to deal with and make decisions about.

If you'd like to read up on it though, here's a little about the book, available for pre-order:
Evil tree. Bad Apple?

Twenty years ago, all the evil villains were banished from the kingdom of Auradon to the Isle of the Lost--a dark and dreary place protected by a force field that makes it impossible for them to leave. Stripped of their magical powers, the villains now live in total isolation, forgotten by the world.

Mal learns from her mother, Maleficent, that the key to true darkness, the Dragon's Eye, is located inside her scepter in the forbidden fortress on the far side of the island. The eye is cursed, and whoever retrieves it will be knocked into a deep sleep for a thousand years. But Mal has a plan to capture it. She'll just need a little help from her "friends." In their quest for the Dragon's Eye, these four kids begin to realize that just because you come from an evil family tree, being good ain't so bad.

Illustration: "Red Riding Hood" by Valentina Melnichenko

After a fairly intense week, I'm going to start this one with some art. I first saw the picture with the huntsman and grandmother (which I've put above) and was struck by the use of the color red. It really gave me a difference sense of the family of Little Red Cap and the various roles each had in it.

Turns out every picture in the book has a particular and deliberate dominance of the color, which I hadn't seen before, at least not in this way. There are red flowers, red yarn balls, red fabrics, red rooster wattles, red shadows, red apples, red socks, red curtains, red ribbons, red tongues, red wine, red pie, red strawberries.. so many things included specifically to be this color.
I have to say the last image I'm a little disconcerted by. The wolf is on the roof and look the most human of any time during the story! Is this a second wolf? (which will likely have zero chance against Red and her Grandma now they've been through this ordeal.) Interesting...

The illustrator is Valentina Melnichenko and this series if from a book printed in Russia in 1979 but it's difficult to find more about this illustrator or the book these illustrations were printed in. 
(I did find some fantastic Ukranian folklore illustrations by her which I will share soon, as well as just a few from a tale called The Lame Duckling, which I have yet to look into more, but again, in all cases, there is barely any information about the illustrator.) 
In the meantime, please enjoy this very RED version of Little Red Riding Hood on your Monday!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Ask Baba Yaga: How Do I Get Over the Shame I Feel For My Work?

So You Want To Be A Hero by Neil Billings
Oh man. All that stuff you want to leave off your resume because you wish it wasn't a part of making who you were... what to do about those big ones that take lots of time and used lots of your effort (and will leave suspiciously large holes in your CV if they're omitted)? And what if they're in your "right now" instead of your past?!

This week's question and answer (via poet and oracle Taisia Kitaiskaia* of The Hairpin):
(Originally posted at The Hairpin HERE)

Will it really get smaller the further away I get? I know that's physics, but my brain does weird things like replaying loops of embarrassment... How do you, essentially, type 'The End' and let it be THE end? I guess the real question is: how do you stop giving life to it? Perhaps my problem is that I am carrying pebbles in my shoes and don't even realize it...

What do you think of Baba Yaga's advice?

Want to ask Baba Yaga a question of your own?
You can!
There's now an email address where you can send your questions
directly to Baba Yaga herself.
AskBabaYaga AT gmail DOT com
To encourage Baba Yaga to continue imparting her no-bones-about-it wisdom (ok, there may be some gristle in there... bones too), I suggest we not to leave her box empty... 

Thank you Baba Yaga (& Taisia).

Taisia Kitaiskaia is a poet, writer, and Michener Center for Writers fellow. Born in Russia and raised in America, she's had her poems and translations published in Narrative Magazine, Poetry International, and others.