Monday, December 27, 2010

Multicultural Ensembles in Steampunk

I have discussed this before and will do so again, but for now I will simply post a link to an excellent article about how narrow it is to think of Steampunk (the capitalized version that refers to the sub-culture itself) as in any way limited to European, much less purely British, or Victorian era clothing, science, fiction, or aesthetics regardless of the powerful influence in the culture's origins of authors like H.G. Wells and Jules Verne (who was decidedly not British!).

Native American Steampunk?

There is an excellent post regarding interest int his concept and all the problems inherent in it in Steampunk Magazine.  I will post the link to their article and assoc. comments along with my own reply to it below:

First off:  It's very hard to do this well other than to do what Native Americans, that dress as steampunks today do themselves:  namely, they dress similar to other Steampunks except that, like most people, they have favorite ways to wear their hair, favorite, jewelry, etc. and often continue wearing it even if it is obviously Native American in style.  Feathered head dress-certainly not!  I can't see that in any time period where it was not a daily wear item regardless although as Stemapunk characters are often time travelers, anything is possible, but it like standard Army Fatigues, it is neither pleasing to the eye, mixed into steampunk, nor practical to use.

Below is my response to the Steampunk Magazine writer's suggestion that people do their homework and use elements of Native clothing in a fusion design, but suggested it should probably be put together without a bunch of mini-skirts, corsets, etc, as that has never been culturally desirable among those people and still is not now. 

Ramon Leon del Mar said...
Thank you! I may look more European due to my Irish blood and some Welsh, German etc, but I was raised with more Cherokee and Choctaw cultural concepts than anything else easily recognizable today. (The old country Tinker Irish culture still exists, but those outside their culture might mistake it for either Native American which is surprisingly similar or Gypsy culture, which they learned about half of it from). As such I agree that cultural sensibilities are much more raw and sensitive in the Northern Native American communties than say among the South or Central American cultures, due to how recently they were still being hunted down and shot or simply killed quietly for acting too Pagan or "uppity". As recently as the 1950s int he US and the 1970s in Canada the government still approved of taking children at gunpoint ond forcing them into religious boarding schools where their culture was quite literally beaten out of them until they were 18. For that reason, it is now difficult for me, a person raised in the culture, to gain acceptance easily simply because I have blue eyes. Understanding this is necessary in order to move forward with this in a good way. We actually studied and practiced Aztec dance and rituals for years because they were much more accepting of blue eyed Indians than my own relatives. When we do native American Steampunk, we plan to do an Aztec version, partly , because we actually have more colorful clothing of that type and partly because they are a little less defensive, especially since we are formally adopted Azteca Indians who know enough to avoid using specifically religious items, generally, and have a right to use them, and use them correctly, if we do. I think that since the Hippie movement, with the best intentions, co-opted an incredible mish mash of Native American style items and mixed them with East Indian styles managed, through the goodness of their hearts, to gain acceptance by many traditional people who saw them as right minded and right hearted, if a little silly, young ones. As such it seems only natural that we try this again, but hopefully with a little more educated and careful approach, now 50 years later. I agree as well that time period should be specific and realistic as the base of the ensemble with "aquired steampunk items" that they claim to have confiscated, traded for, or learned to make from a steampunk adventurer that married into their tribe. We also have a comedy routine about some Aztec Dancers being observed by a time traveling professor, who slows them down almost to frozen, by making his own time move too fast for him to be seen, then inspects them, talks into his holographic recorder, then watches some more, until of course, he has a malfunction and gets chased around with funny results. In the end, another Aztec walks on wearing goggles, a raygun, and a similar temporal distortion field device that freezes the adventurer and they joke and laugh about the silly Englishman who still thinks all non-English are uneducated savages. Just a thought. (Kali's Hourglass-Dallas, Texas)


Friday, December 24, 2010

Kali's Hourglass-2010 Year in Review

The year 2010 was quite an eventful and memorable one for Kali’s Hourglass, flagship of the Covenant of the Kraken.  We came from the year 1856 (just after reversing the outcome of the second Opium War between the British and the Chinese) forward to Irving through a time portal in a gravity well off of Bermuda.   We have established a land base with my husband’s relatives who are in on our secret as time traveling privateers and are willing to keep our secret as long as we get keep them supplied with the finest Mexica (Aztec) chocolate and curry spices from India. 

We have forged alliances with other time travelers in this area and become members of the Steampunk Illumination Society.  At this time we wish to express our gratitude to the community members who have come forth to organize and create a haven for the time traveling public.   Thanks to all of you who have driven long distances to events, helped organize them, offered to give others rides in your airships or gypsy wagons, and given your time, energy, laughter,  and courage to enrich our community.   Many of you are more like adopted family to us now than just friends and we are proud to call ourselves members of the DFW Steampunk Illumination Society.   What we have here is unique and we should continue to support one another in our projects as individuals, as groups, and as a united community.   We have traveled far and wide across the land and seas and not witness such commitment and dedication as we have seen over the past few months.   We have rapidly grown from a just a handful of travelers to a large and growing family often with multiple events happening the same week.   Again you have our gratitude and our salute for all each and everyone one of you has accomplished. 

For our part, I am proud of our accomplishment in this age.  We began our contact with the Dallas area by attending an Abney Park concert at an most unusual tavern called, strangely enough, “The Church” on Swiss Avenue where we learned that these marvelous musicians blended music, song, and dance with clothing that was a mix of many times and styles into a wonderful and entertaining medley.  We also learned that they were using their musical performances as a cover for their occasional work as time traveling airship pirates who are now semi-retired (from the piracy part anyway, they work like madmen now as musicians!).  Naturally that peaked our interest enormously!!!

We looked into the idea of taking extended shore leave and doing some of the same sort of thing while allowing our young son, Cannonball Joe, a bit of respite from cannon fire (which we think has already damaged his hearing-or maybe just his attention span).  We began by participating as models in the Crow Collection Asian Art Museum’s “Asian Pop Culture Night Fashion Show” in which we demonstrated our current officer’s working uniforms and a few of our own futuristic creations such as weapons and a universal translator device.   Since then we attended the Green Steam Circus in Austin to see Abney Park naturally.  We then followed Abney Park again to a bizarre weekend ritual they call an “anime festival”.  We went mostly to see Abney Park, but really enjoyed ourselves and met very interesting people there.  Not long after that we met the organizers and some of the members of the Steampunk Illumination Society whom we now think of as a second family! 

We were then enlisted to help put together the Carnival of Creatures show in which we were gently nudged more and more into the comedy arena, a very strange place indeed for a couple of Admirals to find themselves!  At Yulecon, we presented the “Ugly Gun Skit” for the first time where Adm. Ramon made a greatly exaggerated parody of our occasional “debates” between the importance of function (his focus) versus my own natural love of form and beauty in things.  He also made fun of the common power struggles between men and women in which, he has shown enough wisdom to recognize that we women have developed wisdom, cleverness, and persuasion to a fine art, primarily for the purpose of keeping our men doing what they need to be.  He finds this powerful hidden talent as fascinating as it is baffling to him, but I think he did a good job of writing a spoof of just how fascicle it can get at times, although I must protest that I never actually draw blood from him, well, not recently anyway.  We performed the skit again for our “Steamunk family” recently at a Steampunk Illumination Society meeting and will do so again at the upcoming Clockwork Wonderland Event. 

We also were privileged to perform as actors/extras in the Marquis of Vaudeville silent film Clockwork Wonderland promotional Video where I waltzed with my gallant friend Larry while attempting to hold teacups and pretend like we were drinking from them without interrupting the Waltz, while Adm. Ramon, and his friend Greg, chased poor sweet Alice all through Wonderland with pole arms while trying not to actually kill anyone in the process!  (I was a little worried about Ramon in that role as real weapons like that halberd tend to bring out the old warrior instincts in him, but fortunately he really liked Alice and felt more fatherly protective attitudes toward her-she was freezing in that costume- than any actual blood lust.) 

In other areas, Adm. Ramon and Cannonball Joe both entered and won semi-finalist prizes in an amateur art contest held by the steampunk band Sunday Driver where they drew a fictional vehicle for the band’s first world tour.  You can see it on their website or Adm. Ramon’s blog.  I, V. Adm. Radha Narasimhan , won a Kraken Rum photo contest using outlandish attire, a raised bottle of my favorite rum, and a lot of panache!  I also had a lot of fun, as did the photographer, at a Steampunk Modeling photo shoot after one of our Steampunk Illumination Society meetings.   Adm. Ramon is now acting as the host for a University of North Texas TV serial called night class where he portrays a sarcastic and somewhat mad professor (I hear his character is similar someone called “Professor Snape”, whoever that is) that introduces and wraps up each episode.  We are also presenting panels for various conventions on topics ranging from DIY Steampunk fashion, especially multicultural fashion, to acting, and even Steampunk music and dance trends.

Adm. Ramon is also now writing reviews and Steampunk articles (with some help from me) that are published or scheduled to be published in Steamed, Gatehouse Gazette, Convention Fans E-zine, Steampunk Tribune, Steampunk Chronicle, and Cogs ‘n Gears, and 3 other such publications are still considering taking him on as a writer.  (I assist in the collecting of information and sometimes the writing of these articles, but put my name only on those where I provide most of the content and writing and he does the same for me.)  He hopes to use these various outlets to further promote the means and ends of Steampunk culture and political change. This is a huge change from our usual methods of just rolling out the big guns and firing cannonballs through obstacles to social change or through the fortresses or ships of slavers or other local bullies.

We have also taken up the cause to promote study of archaeology, anthropology and art by the community.  To this end we visited the Houston Museum of Natural Science and published a review of their exhibit “Real Pirates” which seeks to set straight so many myths from the world we are from.  We were pleased to see such detail and care taken to educate those in the present age about life aboard the great ships of our age.  It did a magnificent job of explaining why indeed so many turned to piracy and why this still strikes a cord with many living in this century.  We have been contacted by the museum about reviewing future exhibits with our unique insight into the social sciences and why they are of interest to the Steampunk community.  The same weekend we visited the historical festival Dickens on the Strand with our good friends from Steampunk Illumination Society and got to spend time on the tall ship Elissa.  Again, so inspiring to see people taking an interest in preserving and maintaining the sea fairing vessels from our own age. 

We have also taken up the cause of making the wonder and majesty of dance a larger part of the Steampunk, Clockpunk, and Dieselpunk Culture!  We are doing this by inviting and encouraging members of our community to come and dance out their fears, frustrations, anger, and sadness until all that remains is the joy of the dance every Friday at Club Escuses.  We are also offering Panels to all the local anime and Steampunk conventions on current and future trends of dance and music in the Steampunk realm.  We will even present a Steampunk time traveler comedic skit in which I and Admiral Ramon show off a little of our real historical Aztec Dance training as part of the skit at the upcoming Carnivale of Creatures show.  We are trying to find ways to make this an ever larger part of events, celebrations, entertainment, and culture in many ways and will continue to do so.

We have managed to forge alliances here with explorers, adventurers, pirates, mad scientists, airship crews and time traveling anthropologists which I believe will help to move forward our ultimate hidden agenda, which has always been to give the common man or woman a fighting chance to live freely in a world dominated by military and corporate tyrants.  As my people suffered horribly under the hands of the Mogul conquerors (and later the East India Tea Company) and my soul-mate’s family were pretty much all starved to death by wealthy commercial interests in Britain during the Irish potato famine and again later by wealthy American interests when his Cherokee relatives were driven down the “Trail of Tears” into Oklahoma by troops approved by the traitorous President Jackson, whose life Ramon’s relatives had saved countless times as his personal  bodyguards during the War of 1812, you can understand why we fight a hard as we can to give people a chance against those powerful forces that try to make slaves of us all.  We push forward this agenda under the more public  veneer of attempting to encourage (sometimes by use of arms) all privateers to earn the label “privateer” by treating prisoners honorably and following some kind of ethical standards.  We don’t worry about what the “pirates are up to only those using the label “privateer” as their behavior impacts our own group’s reputation. 

We have also been actively been promoting the steampunk/sci-fi film Nickel Children, and have managed to increase its range of venues for screening to include a large number of Anime, Sci-fi and Steampunk festivals including the Steampunk World’s Fair 2011.  We not only believe that good Steampunk films like this will improve perceptions of our community in general, but that the brave choice of the screenwriter director to treat child slavery and sexual exploitation very directly in this film may help  our own centuries long battle to end human slavery.  Slavers have always been our enemy whether they come in the form of Feudalistic tyrants, East India Company representatives, African Slave ships, the Ottoman Empire, The Crimean Mongol Khan, or the somewhat milder, but still oppressive modern wage slavery under the various international corporations that exist purely for greed and profit on the oppression of their workers.  We have received good news that the worldwide charity love146, a premier charity for the location, rescue, and rehabilitation of child slaves and sex slaves has taken an active interest in aiding us in promoting this film which we all hope will use good “Steampunk Art” to bring attention to the most evil of social ills and thus make the world a better place for us all.  We will also be presenting the film and this new alliance at the Ikkicon Anime festival on the last day of this year. 

We never dreamed there would be sub-culture movements like “Steampunk”, “Clockpunk” , Dieselpunk”, etc. that would be fighting for the same agenda, but far more openly now in the future.  I capitalize the names of these groups intentionally as I believe these proud and vital new Sub-cultures are deserving of having their labels used as proper names for the vibrant new people they bring forward!  We feel very at home among you and are thrilled that the world has changed enough to allow us to use art, music, poetry, dance, fictional literature, and even comedy to fight the battles that, in the past, had to be fought and won with blood and human suffering.  We have never liked that approach, but in past centuries were afforded no better path.  Please excuse us if at times we, and Adm. Ramon especially, are a bit coarse or too direct in our speech, as we are accustomed to settling matters with the blast of cannons and the edge of a steel blade, so we have had only a little opportunity to learn the fine arts of courtesy and diplomacy, but we are trying hard to learn.

In fact, Admiral Ramon has even consented to take the path of his beloved “Dagda”, apparently the first great champion of the De Dannaan Clan of his earliest Irish ancestors, who often would go out pretending to be a fool in order to entertain, educate, and observe in order to gain knowledge of their enemy’s camps prior to a battle and of their friends in time of peace.  He said if it was good enough for his people’s champion to effect change through the use of comedy, he can manage to do the same.  He says that the Celtic Bards believed that music, drama, and story telling, comic or otherwise, was the most powerful of all methods to reach the hearts of others and to effect change.  For this reason he says, the bards were often as respected, and even more feared, than the most powerful and learned of Druid Judges, priests, or Magicians, because their satire, when necessary, had brought down even the most powerful of tyrants time and again.  Besides, what better cover for a time lord than to pretend to be a comic performer that pretends to be a time lord?  Anyone trying to learn the real secret of our origins will get so confused they will give up and assume it’s just part of the act.

Well the point is that we are thrilled to find such a wonderful, strong, vibrant, and healthy community where we can put aside the real weapons, send our crews out to their normal tasks, and focus on arts, entertainment, writing, dance, and use these as vehicles to enlighten and effect change for a time instead of gunpowder and cold steel.  It is a wonderful change for us, so we will stay among you in this century as long as we can.  Well…at least until we hear the call of battle too strongly to remain or the wanderlust takes us again.  Until then, thank you all so much for embracing us and making us a part of your century and of your lives.

Vice Admiral Radha Narasimhan, 2nd Admiral of the Flagship Kali’s Hourglass, Lord Admiral of the Covenant of the Kraken, Vice Admiral of fleets for decades from 1950 and later

Daughter of Shakti Singh, Headwoman and Healer of the Naga Clan of the “Romani” (Gypsy) People of Gujarat India

Grand daughter of Vijaya Singh, Warchieftan of the Kashmiri Sikhs.

Sunday Driver's Amateur Steampunk Art Contest Finalists

The fabulous Steampunk music group Sunday Driver held a contest for the fan that could draw the most interesting picture of a "Steampunk vehicle" for their upcoming first world tour that they could fictionally use to travel from place to place between concerts.  The prize includes a goody bad full of their music including a custom written and recorded track and similar other items, which considering their talent level, should have been highly motivating!  My wife loves their music so much she lit a fire under me to brush off my artistic talents and give it a go.  I love art, but was busy furiously trying to stay above water with normal mundane day job duties and also prepare for a performance at Dickens on the Strand, but I did give it a bit of thought and finally sat down to draw out a steam powered Gypsy wagon which was what I thought really suited the Anglo-Indian flair of the band.  Of course that might run into a few problems getting across such great distances and varied terrain, so it has a retractable hot air balloon to help it over tough spots (like the Atlantic Ocean if they catch the trade winds right), but it would have to be a super stretchy material in order to get large enough to actually lift such a wagon completely (physics is lovely, but so limiting at times), so I told them it was just to get them out of a bog or up a hill until they could hook up with some futuristic types that had stretchy enough material to produce a bolloon that would pack away and still expand enough to lift them entirely.  Of course if you've ever been stuck in the bog, or even a bit of mud, and unable to get your Gypsy wagon free (I have a lot of Irish Gypsy relatives-Tinkers-"Fagan" is the name don't ya know!), then you can fully appreciate how valuable even a small hot air balloon would be!

OH!  How could I forget!  We even got our 10 year old son in on this, to get him started right down the Bardic path.  Being a big Sunday Driver fan himself, we convinced him to dream up and draw a picture of a steampunk vehicle for Sunday Driver as well.  The only criteria we set was that he had to do it totally unassisted.  AS his picture was clearly the youngest, and therefore the most ambitious entry, and even included their beloved "Om" symbol on the side of the blimp, it also made it into the finalists.  Take a look and vote for your favorite.  I think all of them are pretty great efforts at making something for the band, but of course, I voted for my son's picture to win.  Oh well, I can't pretend to be objective this time.!/album.php?aid=257077&id=19773347953

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ada Lovelace-Early Steampunk Pioneer and Friend to Charles Babbage

I confess to my own ignorance of this noble pioneer, that is until my friends at the Lovelace Reader, named for this early pioneer, brought her to my attention.  This link will take you to a lovely little video about her and her contribution to our heritage.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Real Pirates! - Delve into their mind and way of life!

From the desk of : Ramon Leon Del Mar

If you are interested in real pirate lore, you should make a trip down to Houston and see the wonderful exhibit about the real life of pirates.  It focuses in on four historical members of the crew of the Whydad under the command of Black Sam Bellamy, one of the most notorious pirates that ever lived.  The captain, Black Sam, a rescued Black slave, an Indian, and a nine year old cabin boy, who all became part of this notorious crew, are followed from their first encounters through their fateful end.  
This exhibit tells not just about the greatest haul of pirate treasure ever recovered, but also about the culture of the pirates and about the people in their world.  It goes into much greater detail than most exhibits about the lives, conditions, and state of mind of the slaves and abused free sailors that were the people most often recruited to become members of pirate crews. 
The museum has done an excellent job of explaining the motives that drove men to piracy, the choices they were faced with, and what day to day life was for them.  It also gives excellent information about their weapons, tactics, and psychological warfare used against their enemies and victims with real artifacts from the Whydah to illustrate each point.  There is even a life sized mock up of a small pirate friendly tavern, (a pirate’s favorite spot), the Captain’s cabin, and the crew’s quarters that you walk through while learning about their way of life.

Dive into the wreck of the Whydah to discover more than 200 fascinating artifacts in the world's first exhibit of authentic pirate treasure!

Top of Form
Limited showing: 

Exhibit Info
Oct 8, 2010 - Feb 6, 2011
Public Pricing
Adult Tickets$ 25
Child Tickets$ 18
...Senior (62+) Tickets$ 18
Membership Pricing Available

Ramon Leon Del Mar It was truly excellent and well worth the money and the time! It's probably the best exhibit on pirates, from the point of view of the pirates themselves, that we have ever encountered.

Click the link below to learn more about this wonderful exhibit:

Monday, December 13, 2010

Steampunk Invasion at Dickens on the Strand 2010

Steampunks at Dickens on the Strand

Dickens on The Strand is “a holiday festival, where Bobbies, Beefeaters, and the Queen (Victoria) …recreate the Victorian London of Charles Dickens.  Characters from Dickens novels walk the street. Food and entertainment fill the area with sights and smells that take you back to another era.”  This year in Galveston, Texas, the 37th annual festival put together by the Galveston Historical Society was invaded en mass (with the Queen’s permission believe it or not) by Airship Pirates, Time Traveling Privateers, Steampunk Inventors, artists, and craftsmen, and a host of creatures from realms foreign to the standard fair goers. 

            This festival is so strict (normally) about proper historical recreation that all entertainers are required to fill out a detailed form about what they will be presenting, and to present the entertainment committee with photos of costumes and recordings of performances to ensure that all clothing, melodies, and lyrics are from “pre-1900s sources.”  In spite of this, representatives of Airship Isabella convinced them to make an exception so large this year that the square around the “Crystal Palace Stage” had a huge banner across the entrance reading “Steampunk Square” with the sponsors listed jointly as the Galveston Historical Society and Airship Isabella.

            The only obvious change at first was the plethora of colorful characters that blended underlying historical ensembles with very anachronistic and often futuristic accoutrement.  Then it really got strange!  More and more very unusual looking airship pirates, sea pirates, privateers, adventurers, time travelers, and even the “Mad Hatter” from another universe all together made their appearance on the streets and in the photographs of people from across the country.  

Airship Isabella was out in full regalia along with friends from as far away as Mississippi that came specifically for this event.  They and several other vendors ran a brisk trade in Steampunk jewelry, clothing, and other items.  They also set up a “Steamunk Museum” where their friends and visiting Steampunks were encouraged to display their most interesting and elaborate Steampunk weapons, inventions, or armor pieces for all the visitors to see.  

When time came for the evening parade, the historical society was uncertain where to place their strange assortment of guests in the parade, (at least this reporter was told that was the case as we had never been there in such large numbers before) so we were placed at the very end behind the Queen, her beefeater bodyguards, Highland guardsmen, Bagpipe bands, many other groups, and even the “Texas Army” which is a Confederate Army reenactment group.  The leader of that rather impressive group of Confederates asked one of the event staff members, loud enough to ensure we could hear, if our motley looking group were ruffians  that had been lined up for them to throw off the island.  In his usual shy and retiring way, Admiral Ramon Leon del Mar (Kali’s Hourglass) answered equally loudly that “No.  We’re the pirates that are here to take over the island!”  The Texas Army Captain  looked a bit nervous at first, but the laughter and friendly, jovial attitude seemed to put him at ease.  Just the same, the Admiral’s words proved to be prophetic, for take over the island they most certainly did!

Much of the credit for this goes to Captain Cedric Whittaker (Airship Isabella), who made a sincere plea to friends and Steampunk associates across the country to attend and support this project to bring the Steampunk Subculture and movement to the mainstream people of Texas at this festival.  He convinced many to attend that had never before considered this festival or typically traveled to gatherings this far from home.  What really made the difference though is that, just before the parade, Cedric told all of us assembled that (I’m paraphrasing here as I didn’t have a recorder on hand)  he wanted to humbly thank us for traveling so far and coming to support this effort.  He then said (best I can recall) “This parade is for you!  It’s for every time someone called you a freak because of how you dressed or because of how you think.  Let’s get out there and let them see who we really are tonight!”

Needless to say, the crowd then cheered, and screamed themselves hoarse yelling in a celebratory and happy way at pretty much every intersection in downtown Galveston or any time we stopped.   The audience watching the parade responded wonderfully to this.  It seemed that the sedate parade ahead of us had always been dignified and sedate, but never terribly exciting, and here were a bunch of oddly dressed (and heavily armed-or so it appeared) that were so welcoming, friendly, and happy to be there, that our joy was contagious!  The crowd watching began cheering, yelling, and waving back.  We actually got a standing ovation at many intersections just for dressing so wild and sharing so much joy and enthusiasm with the crowd.  Airship Isabella and Airship Neo Dulcimer also led parade groups of Steampunks during the day parades on both Saturday and Sunday.  The papers the next day and on Monday gave extremely favorable reviews and specifically stated that this year’s fair had the highest turnout for many years.  It seems our performance of simple joy at being alive and sharing our happy madness with the crowd brought out people in droves the next day that otherwise might never have come. 

(Link below shows actual video from the night parade)!/video/video.php?v=134813033243746&comments 
On Saturday Evening Airship Isabella put on three short shows and a dance on 3 different stages.  The shifting stages every 30 minutes or so was sort of a Dicken’s tradition, so they had a large number of friends helping them carry everything from props to fire extinguishers several blocks at a trot between each performance.  They might have lost a few audience members at each stage change, but they seemed to gain more each time as well, so each performance was well attended.  

The first act was a comedy about a lion/man combination creature that they had picked up somehow in their travels, but instead of wanting to eat them, he was offering them cupcakes and tea.  Yes, it was supposed to be strange, but the audience got it well enough that two people I interviewed said it was their favorite of the three acts.  The second act got even stranger in that Commander Leroux brought out a talking head in a jar who could tell people’s futures.  Airship Isabella’s first mate, Javert Marchand, did a fabulous job of appearing un-human, otherworldly, totally mad, and sneering down his nose at the silly humans that came to look in his jar.  Kudos for a job well done!  That act was also a comedy in which three local celebrities from the anime community, Chris Ayres, Greg Ayres, and Audra Lilietha, were supposedly selected randomly from the audience and then told the worst futures imaginable insulting and exchanging insults with the head in the jar all the while.  The third act was fire spinning with first fire poi, then flaming sticks and finally belly dancing with flaming iron fans.  

This was followed by a dance in which Airship Isabella once again broke stereotypes by playing tunes from Swan Lake, much to the surprise of everyone.  I have to say that I believe in breaking stereotypes in a big way and that seemed to work just fine.  It is difficult; however, to get Americans to dance much to a waltz, so after about 30 minutes, they managed to convince the historical society staff to permit the DJ to shift to more modern music.  The DJ played excellent dance music, and we were really enjoying it, but unfortunately time ran out for the dance after only a few of his livelier selections.
By the end of Sunday, we found people from all walks of life, including the Texas Army, the Bobbies, and the Beefeaters, had become very friendly, wanted to take pictures with us, and thanked us all for coming.  There can be no doubt this invasion was a huge success for both our Steampunk community (worldwide as well as locally) and for one of the most popular historical festivals in America.  This sort of mutual exchange and support should continue to help many different parts of society come together and make the world just a lot more healthy and fun for all of us in the future!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Ancient Greek "Clockpunk" like device

This is one of the most fascinating and marvelous geared clockwork devices ever built in any time anywhere, and it was made over 2000 years ago near Syracuse  on the island of Sicily, or possibly in Northwestern Greece.  It uses an extremely complex system of high precision gears to anticipate and precisely predict all forms of eclipses and some other significant astronomical events.  It also has a sort of religious and pop culture use in tracking what Olympic games are held in which years.   Most of our Steampunk and Clockpunk friends don't realize that Leonardo de Vinci (or someone around his time anyway)  built the first clockwork robot, as a metal lion the walked up to a visiting monarch, sat, opened it's chest, and presented a bouquet of flowers from inside.  They also don't realize that Hero of Alexandria invented the steam engine long before 1 AD (even though he never figured out a way to make it a useful engine at the time).  They certainly don't realize this happened in the 1st century BC.  Sorta throws out the whole idea of setting a specific time line for Steampunk and Clockpunk background don't it?  Unless of course you actually start speculating about use of a "Tardis" or some other time travel device eh what?

(Thanks to Zak-Tzu for pointing out some incorrect data I had received regarding dates and inventors in the above which are now about as corrected as anything can be when referring to ancient history which is usually pretty inaccurate by the time it gets to any of us)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

My Personal Favorite Abney Park Interview

Interview of Abney Park, right after The most recent singer (Jody Ellen) was selected, ergo, the most pertinent, but also the one I feel is most insightful on the most topics all at once in a single interview.  Hey...I needed at least a token interview, or rather la ink to one, here related to Abney Park as they are my favorite Steampunk Performance group of any kind and realistically were my real introduction and inspiration for joining the movement.  (or at least adopting the label)

Death of Tragedy 

Sunday Driver-Interview on Beyond Victorianna

This is an excellent interview with a varied array of topic ranging from background of the musicians and their motivation for working together to personal musical tastes seperately and together.  It also explores the idea of Steampunk as a musical genre, but sets little in teh way of specific expectations.  For them it involves celebrating the shared heritage of India and England in a beautiful collage, but for others, as they say, ti should be allowed to grow and develop organically wihtout artificial barriers or boundaries.  What they see as a unifying base is more the Steampunk mindset and a sense of the dramatic more than any actual musical styles.

  Link is below