Thursday, December 24, 2009

Have Yourself a Creepy Little Christmas

Fred Figglehorn of YouTube (link) (if you are unaware of who this is, then you may be in for a treat, or a headache), recently released a song called Christmas is Creepy (link), and I feel he is right. Christmas can indeed be creepy, especially in Newfoundland because in NL we have Mummers. What are Mummers you ask? Why they are the creepiest Christmas tradition I know of!

The Mummering tradition was brought to NL from England. The earlier form of mummering is the “mummers house visit”, which was most popular in Newfoundland in earlier years. Here in NL the tradition is that at Christmas time members of the community would disguise themselves and travel from house to house. These disguised citizen, the mummers, would act “out of character” until the home owners guessed their identities and the mummers were unmasked. If this does not sound the least unnerving to you, then you have more nerve than I.

The mummers will announce their arrival by not merely knocking but pounding upon your door at night, asking the question, in their odd way of speaking (inhaling as they speak) “Any mummers ‘loud in?”. Or they could substitute the word mummers for jannies, as they were called when my mom was a little girl. If let in the mummers would proceed to “act foolish”, as some might call it. They will drink and dance, only ceasing when their identities are revealed. There disguises are outrageous! To quote “The Mummers Song” by the group Simini, there will be “boys dressed as women and girls dressed as men”, “humps on their backs and mitts on their feet”, “…with his underwear stuffed and his trapdoor undone. Is he wearing his mother's big forty-two bra?” A mummer will make use of anything available to them to make a costume.

Here you can see the tradition in action, as show in this song by Simini, and for the lyrics, click here

The Mummers Song

What a treat this was for the people of rural NL who were the mummers. Living in tight knit communities where everyone knew everyone else so well, to be a stranger in your own community was surely an odd experience. And to be given occasion to break all the social norms, to act so out of characters, was also a treat.

Above in this blog post I mentioned that the earlier form of mummering is the "mummers house visit", a later version of this tradition is the “Mummers Play”. While not as popular, and to some NLers completely unknown, this is still performed in England. And of course, there are whole performances available for your viewing pleasure on YouTube!

Crook Morris Mummers Play 17th January 2009

Mummer's Play - Part 1 - Medieval Christmas Revels - Cambridge 1995

Mummer's Play - Part 2 - Medieval Christmas Revels - Cambridge 1995

Mummer's Play - Part 3 - Medieval Christmas Revels - Cambridge 1995

For more information on mummering in Newfoundland, please visit the following links:

Mummers Festival website (link)
When at the website be sure to click on the heading “Traditions” to learn more about Mummering and Janneying (link) and another creepy character, the Hobby Horse (link)

On Facebook be sure to join the Mummers Festival (Folklife Festival of Newfoundland and Labrador) (link)
Be sure to check out the Photos (link) from this year’s Mummers Festival!

I have very few memories of mummers. Though they frightened me and some of my friends as well, they do not mean to, at least that is not the point of the tradition, to scare people. Despite the use of Halloween masks, and the whole thing feeling more like something that should take place in October, mummers are not out to purposely scare you; they are a jolly sort who are merely having some fun.

I have so few memories of them because by the time I was born, the tradition was dying out, with good reason. Times have changed very much, and the thought of letting masked strangers into your home in the dead of night today may be a little more than unnerving for some. This is perhaps why the Mummers Festival got started (find out more about that in the links above!). It is a way of making a tradition safe again. And speaking of the festival, I was very sad when I found out that I would miss the Mummers parade. However, this being an annual festival, I shall be attending next year!

For some it is still very much a part of their Christmas memories. It may very well not seem like Christmas if the mummers are not knocking at your door. For me, it does not feel like Christmas if there is not any snow. Which is why this year, I don’t feel much like celebrating.

Kindest personal regards,
Do not forget the reason for the season,
Miss Alice Grimm

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Nutcracker: Pieces of Childhood - Piece I, Act 2

Journeying to the far reaches of YouTube, I have returned to The Grimm Tea Party with clips from this most beloved performance of mine (see last post - link).

PNB's Nutcracker-Load In Time Lapse

An extra song.
A comment on the YouTube video says that the song is from “Tchaikovsky's opera "Queen of Spades,"” Of all the versions of The Nutcracker I have seen, only PNB includes this.

Clara and the Nutcracker
and The Nutcracker battles against the Army of the Mouse King

In The Christmas Tree
and The Waltz of the Snowfalkes

Variation II (Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy)

Chocolate (Spanish Dance), Coffee (Arabian Dance), Tea (Chinese Dance), and Trépak (Russian Dance)

Dance of the Reed Flutes and Polichinelle


Intrada, continued

Kindest personal regards,
Do not forget the reason for the season,
Miss Alice Grimm

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Nutcracker: Pieces of Childhood - Piece I, Act 1

A very intimate post I bring to you, one of the many pieces that form my childhood. The Nutcracker. The very name thrills me. The music was part the musical score for my childhood.

I hardly know if I can properly express how much I truly adore this creation. It had everything my young heart looked for in entertainment. A love story, with beautiful visuals, delightful and dark music, a hero I could believe in, and a villain who was equally fascinating.

The particular interpretation of the story which is dear to my heart is performed by the Pacific Northwest Ballet (link). This is the version which I grew up with. I am very thankful that the VHS recording that my mother has still works. I hope one day they will release a DVD of the performance.

One notable aspect of this production is the costumes and sets, designed by Maurice Sendak. I am sure many of you know him at the illustrator and writer of Where The Wild Things Are. After re-reading the story book (before going to see the film) I realized that the Wild Things have the same eyes as my beloved Nutcracker. Maybe that is why I have such a soft spot for them in my heart.

IMG_0577, originally uploaded by Yakpimp.

Further making the PNB performance, in my mind, of The Nutcracker as the definitive performance is the presence of this illustrated book (). It is the one that I grew up with. I still read it every Christmas. This could be the first year I do not read it, for I have loaned the book to a friend. Hopefully I shall have it again by Christmas Eve.

(Photo from Stuart Ng Books: link)

Nevertheless, the VHS is still working, and clips of the production exist on YouTube (stay tuned for another post with YouTube clips). Furthermore, the performance, the sets, the costumes are still in use today! As can be seen in the trailer below. This is what gives me the greatest thrill; that I may one day be able to see a performance that I cherish greatly as a child.

And I feel certain that whatever the performance is like, even if they have changed something, will still be better than the performance that I saw at the St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre last year. That performance is worthy of a rant. Maybe even a future blog post. Maybe. Maybe not.

Kindest personal regards,
And do not forget the reason for the season,
Miss Alice Grimm

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Lest We Forget

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

- - John McCrae, May 1915

Remembrance Day 2006 - 139, originally uploaded by etherflyer.

National War Memorial, originally uploaded by The Second Mouse.

Newfoundland National Memorial

Looking toward Beaumont-Hamel, originally uploaded by Rexton.

Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial

lest we forget, originally uploaded by striatic.

World War I ended
on the 11th hour
of the 11th day
of the 11th month
of 1918

Lest We Forget

Saturday, October 31, 2009

4 O’clock on All Hallows' Eve

I give you, the whimsical plague rat.

The look was inspired by Emilie Autumn; in particular EA’s outfit in her performance of 4 O’clock. Of course, I ended up looking nothing like her! But I adore the outfit all the same.

These were made by Mel, my fellow folklore major. I love them. I want to wear them everyday. After seeing the polka dots on the headband, I tried to work more into the outfit...

...hence the white dots on my nails.

It was a rather relaxing night, watched Tower of Terror and gave out candy to the kids that came; there must have been maybe twenty of them. But Tower of Terror was a walk down memory lane. For many years, it was a tradition that at my birthday-sleepover, this movie would be watched. I had not seen it in years. But thanks to Crystal, I was able to watch it again.

And now it is November and I must say good bye. I shall see you all in a month. Why, you ask? Here is your answer.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A Frilly Rebirth; or How I discovered Lolita

During our last chat I went about the business of explaining, to the best of my ability, what lolita is. I do hope I have enlightened you on the subject. Was it your first time hearing about the fashion? If not, how did you learn about it? I’d like to know! Please leave me a message in the comments section. In the meantime, I would like to share how I discovered lolita.

It was during my first year (fall of 2007) at Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN). A friend of mine introduced me to the band Malice Mizer, saying that I might like them. I did indeed. Visiting YouTube on my own time, viewing videos of the band, I was delighted by their outfits and costumes. In particular, what Mana wore (pictured below). Safe to say he is a topic all his own. Yes, that's right, I said him not her. But that is another story for another time. (Photo from Avant Gauche)

But if you are so intrigued, here are some links:
Wikipedia: Mana (musician)

Through some Google searches, I learned that the clothing he wore was called Gothic Lolita. Further searches lead me to the very links that I provided in my last post.

At first I was so excited to learn that this was not just some over the top coustume, but that it was a real fashion, worn by everyday people. But then I got “sticker shock”, when I visited the brand name clothing sites and looked at the prices. I then thought that wearing the fashion was out of the question. It was only when I discovered such sites as In the Starlight and Candy Violet that I felt hope. Perhaps this fashion was not so far out of my reach.

I also have to confess that for a long time, the Wonderland skirt by ITS was my dream skirt. It is a dream skirt no longer. It turned out to be my first purchase.

Now I feel like I’m in lolita for the American brands, not to mention the seamstress of egl. It is there clothing I am excited to wear, not brand. It will be a long while before I can even considering buying the brand name clothing from Japan. What with tuition to pay, being jobless and all that ;) Until then, I shall continue to admire it.

Hope you found some entertainment in my little ramble. And now, my question to you, how did you discover Lolita fashion?

Kindest personal regards,

Saturday, September 5, 2009

A Curious Fashion Indeed or What is Lolita?

There's been mention of this fashion here at The Grimm Tea Party but I have not had the decency to explain it, until now. But before I go into my explanation I would first like to add a little disclaimer. I am not claiming to be an “expert” on the subject, so please do not get your bloomers in a bunch if you see something on my blog that you do not agree with. Also, the fashion of Lolita has nothing whatsoever to do with the novel by Vladimir Nabokov. And now with that bit of house keeping out of the way, shall we look at what Lolita actually is?

Lolita fashion got its start on the streets of Japan in the 80’s. One of its influences was one of the most glamorous and over the top fashion eras, Rococo. The other main influence was a darker time, the Victorian era. Since its humble beginnings Lolita has evolved, but lolitas still strive to achieve a doll-like look of elegance and cuteness through modesty. Some of the dresses popular today are a far cry from those that started the trend. Take these two photos for example.

The following photos both show clothing from the brand Angelic Pretty.

The photo on your left is an early form of Lolita, very simple and elegant.

The photo on your right is displaying the current trend of OTT (over the top) Sweet Lolita.

The fashion also seems to be split into two main categories, Sweet Lolita and Gothic Lolita. The Sweet Lolitas seem to draw heavy on Rococo, while the Victorian era is the inspiration of choice for Gothic Lolitas.

Upon closer examination of the outfits, what do you see?

♥ Cute shoes
♠ Knee length socks
♦ Skirt that is knee length with petticoat to create the bell shape
♣ Make-up is fresh and simple, hair has been tended to (in the more recent trend of OTT Sweet, make-up and hair are not quite as simple. Just as the clothing is over the top, the hair and make-up can be as well, with contacts lens and big poofy hair)
♥ Head is adorned with bow or headdress

Perhaps the only real negative point about the fashion is its name. For some, the name just sounds cute. For others, there is a more disturbing association with the name. Lolita is the title of a novel by Vladimir Nabokov. In the book a man by the name of Humbert Humbert becomes sexually involved with a prepubescent girl by the name of Dolores Haze whose nickname is Lolita.

As a side note, I have yet to read the novel. Previously (winter 2008) I looked for the novel in my university’s library but was unable to find it. I did however read another novel of Nabokov’s “Look At the Harlequins”. I found it an easy read and most entertaining and intend on reading more by him.

For more information on the novel Lolita please visit

Now, back to the frills...

The following are some links that will assist you, if you feel so intrigued, to learn more. These are the very website that I discovered during my early Google searches:

The Lolita Handbook

Lolita Fashion – For Lolita’s of All Styles

Avant Gauche – this site has such an amazing collection of magazine scans!

And if you’re looking for something more interactive or still have unanswered questions, make your way over to LiveJournal. There is a very large Lolita presence on LJ. The main Lolita community has 12,000+ members!

However, a warning to any of you eager beavers... please read the rules of the community before posting. My advice to you would be to lurk about the communities, get a feel for them before joining or posting, which can be great fun indeed! Well, for a wallflower like me, it is delightful! And from my lurking, I learned so much!

The EGL Community on LiveJournal – This is the main Lolita community.

Daily Lolita Coordinates on LiveJournal – This community is dedicated to the showcasing of Lolita coronations.

I hope I have enlightened you on the subject, or at least entertained you to some degree.

Kindest person regards,

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

You’re invited to The Grimm Tea Party

Hello darlings! So glad you could make it.

My name is Alice Grimm, but you can just call me Alice or Miss Grimm. I will be your host here at The Grimm Tea Party.

Here I will be talking about a number of things, since this will be my personal blog. I will speak often of my journey into the elegant fashion of Lolita. I will share with you my coordinations and my online shopping experiences.

Other journeys will be in regards to my studies to become a folklorist and my quest to become a published author. I may touch on some Christian topics and even recommended a book now and then.

Pull up a chair, pour yourself a cup of whatever you fancy drinking, and let The Grimm Tea Party begin!

Kindest personal regards,