Thursday, October 28, 2010

Nickel children-Steampunk Film-winner of many awards!

This looks like it will be great, but I haven't yet been able to see the film to review it although I am actively searching for a way to purchase, rent, or otherwise see a copy.  Here's the link:

Update:  The director sent me a very kind letter thanking me for my interest in his film and offering links and further opportunities to see more of it, as I am having some trouble finding an actual copy to review.  I think our interaction is also interesting, so I will re-post it here.  What is most important, that I have learned so far, is that the trailer shows some 19th century looking people forcing children to fight one another in a ring for the amusement of very jaded rich people who enjoy betting on them.  As that is the focus of the trailer, it leaves the possibility that most of the Steampunk Attired characters might be extremely sadistic perverted villains and simply add to the general public's confusion about our sub-culture, but thankfully that is not the case.  I think the trailer should point out better that the film is about a heroic struggle of a mother to rescue her child, who was kidnapped by these or similar monsters, probably for the same purpose, and those helping her including an ingenious inventor that makes steampunk gadgets to help her take on the established crime rings that operate these cock-fights that pit children against one another.  All of those that have been allowed to preview the film apparently think very highly of it, but I have still not seen it myself, so I can only report on what I have found.  I will re-post the progress of our correspondence here, so you can see how confusing the whole first impressions can be of the film and how it actually plays out.  Of the various links the director offered, the last one at the bottom was the most helpful as synopsis of the main characters are available there which also gives some idea of the basic plot line without spoilers per se.  In other words, it tells you where their character is a few minutes into the film rather than what happens as the film develops.  As such, I found that information very useful without spoiling the film.  see below:

Hello Ramon!
My name is Kevin Eslinger, writer / director of Nickel Children. I had a colleague send me a link to your blog, where you posted a link to us. First, I want to say thank you! It is incredibly hard, as you know, to get viewers/readers to your work. So we thank you again for the link! 2nd, i would like to send you a link or copy of the film for review, as well as invite you to our fan page on facebook. We are growing in numbers and have big plans coming up for this series!

Thanks for you support, and I thoroughly enjoy your posts on your blog!

Best Wishes
Talk to you soon
Kevin Eslinger (Official Email) (Official Website) (Twitter) (MySpace) (YouTube) (IMDb)
In an alternate 19th Century, dust bowl Kansas, a young boy witnesses his parent’s murder, and is forced to survive in an underground child fighting ring. Only the wealthiest are invited to attend these secret communities to bet on the children for their own amusement. ...However, one among them, is determined to find her abducted son ... whatever the cost. Nickel Children is an award winning international sci-fi steampunk adventure!
Movie:995 people like this.
See More

My response as follows shows that I was still a little unclear at first about the plotline from the rather confusing, or at least very incomplete trailer:

Thankyou very much! I will certainly take a look and write something up about the film as well as send notice to my friends, which are many, on facebook and Steampunk Empire. The Steampunk element is what caused one to bring the movie to my attention, but I will look at the film as a film, in terms of whether I like it or not, and discuss the degree of steampunk influence seperately rather than as the only criteria for the film. Our community/subculture is also very interested in how, if in any way, films and TV shows might influence the general public to view us as a subculture. I think the idea of exploring how, what must be really jaded people, feel the need to transgress the most extreme of taboos to find excitement, would be an interesting film topic, especially since the child slave market already caters to this in the real world, so I'll try not to read too much into why the steampunk dressed people in the trailer all seem to be evil characters. I had to wait to review it until I could see a copy of the film, and will suspend any opinions until then. It appears, though, that many film critics really liked it. They are usually a harder audience than I am as I try to see all sides of every issue, and don't believe it helps anyone to trash anything really. Everything is multifaceted. I may over alnalyze, but I don't jump to conclusions about anything. I'll look at it later this week, and thanks again for making it easier to access.

After looking at the links I added:

I looked at all the links, and while I was pleased that one link gave a character synopsis that helps me to have a good feeling about the story line and that much of the actual steampunk inventiveness is beign done by the rescuers of the child fighters rather than their tormentors, I still cannot see the film itself using any of the links. I did see that all of the 15 persons allowed to pre-view the film liked it and hope the short film will become a series. That is very positive, but does not permit me anything more than hearsay, so I cannot really review the film unless there is a way I can view it. Any other suggestions? 

I'll keep you updated.  

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Boilerplate-Steampunk Fiction Worth a Look

Boiler Plate is a fictional account of an intelligent robot used by the United States around the turn of the century, at least until his disappears, either captured or a defection.  The author did enough research to write believable accounts of such battles and conflicts with the addition of Boiler Plate to explain unusual or unexpected outcomes that actually occurred at times.  The reports are written like excerpts from a historical or documentary account, but as the robot was apparently a secret weapon, and military action reports, even back then, were much longer and more boringly filled with rather boring details and statistics, the reader is left with the impression that these are military or intelligence briefs such as would be prepared to update the president.  Historical photos were retouched to add a sense of reality to the story by adding Boiler Plate's photo inserted in with his historical comrades.  This gives me the impression that the author is attempting to use the ploy of H G Wells in absorbing the audience by making the story seem like a real life account, except in this case one of historical actions our government has subsequently covered up.

I like to focus at least briefly on any imaginative effort in the steampunk drama or literature area that I enjoyed and have not seen discussed extensively on other sites.  While I have seen this mentioned before, it has not received that much notice, and I hope it may inspire others to write their own material and share it with us here.  This is the story of an intelligent robot, invented for purely scientific purposes, but of course, taken over by the American Military for their own purposes.  Having access to an intelligent robot that is fully bullet proof and terrifies the enemy by his presence alone is a great secret weapon in the days of the Spanish-American and the Mexican- American Wars. 

While the historical/documentary like approach does not lend itself to a romantic adventure, and as such, may not keep the reader up late pouring over the accounts unable to walk away from their computer, it really does show originality and creativity both in it's conception and  presentation.  I think the most interesting part about this story is how the intelligent robot is assigned to the all "Negro" units due to the fact that the leaders of that time considered both android/robot type people and the black buffaloe soldiers to be lesser classes.  Both are used to do the most dangerous jobs, then cut out of history as the white soldiers must, of course, get the glory.   In the end, the documentary style history accounts start to suggest, subtly, that boilerplate is starting to have his own agenda and undermining the goals of his supervisors who continue to treat him as simply a valuable weapon, but with no need for dignity.  Take a look.  Pay special attention to the episode where he is sent after Pancho Villa!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Dramatic Performance Art in Steampunk-League of Steam

I reviewed most of the short films produced by "The League of Steam" today as well as most of the articles they mention in their media section on their web site, (which is an area well worth visiting) and I was very impressed!
Of course I had heard of them and their work, but had never immersed myself in their work before in order to observe in more detail exactly how they put these fun things together.  First, it should be mentioned that they clearly plan out story lines that involve one or another fantasy undead or other monsters as a nemesis, then put together ideas about what toys to use and how to make the best special effects for the work.  Finally, the most important part (since their costuming is naturally immaculate in all their events) they work on ensuring it will be funny!  At least this is the pattern I see when trying to understand their process looking in from the outside.  I know you may be thinking I may have a few valves leaking in my boiler to rehash the obvious, but I am observing from the point of view of an author and occasional playwright (mostly short comedic skits like theirs, but usually on stage rather than film)  that does drama and film and loves it.  As such I assure you there are literally hundreds of different ways to approach everything they do, and I am simply trying to guess their thought process in terms of priorities and focus for their short films.

I have written to them requesting an interview to learn more about how they do their movie magic, motivation behind the priorities and choices they make, more detail about character acting at events, and any other ante-dotes or information they care to share, so this is simply a way of clarifying my thoughts about this one area of their work, which I will be focusing on, before the interview (assuming they agree to it).  In the mean time, I will post a link here to their site.  The media section there has links to many of their most interesting events, articles, reviews, and short films.

This type of performance art, in fact all types of performance art, in the Steampunk sub-culture are still somewhat far and few between when compared with other cultures and even some other sub-cultures that have mainstreamed entertainment heavily, since most cultures consider drama, art, dance, film, and music some of what they love most in life, just as we do.  Literature, mainstream film, art, and fashion are well represented in our sub-culture, but small budget, do it yourself films (other than educational ones that help others to make things which are plentiful and wonderful!) and stage performances in character are rather rare at this point considering the amount of collective talent we have as a group.  I hope to help change that!

I really hope you take the time to immerse yourself in what they are giving to the community as I did.  It is time well spent!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Marquis of Vaudville-Steampunk Wonderland Event-January 2011

Marquis of Vaudville-Steampunk Wonderland Event-January 2011

Last night at the Steampunk Illumination Society Meeting, Toby Lawhon, lead singer for "Marquis of Vaudville" announced plans to stage a Steampunk Mini-Convention on Januray 22nd, 2011 at the Curtain Club in Dallas, Texas.  They will, of course, be performing.  Other acts expected to perform are "Master Bones Jangles" (Steampunk Pirate Shantyman from Texas Renaissance Festival), "Vixens of Vaudville", "Circus Freaks", and ourselves, Covenant of Kraken Players.  Details wil be forthcoming when the actual date is confirmed and further details become available.  The venue and the acts have apparently all agreed on everything, but the actual date.  Once again, this is a early announcement not available yet to the general public as it was just announced to the performers and local community last night that those perfoming and the venue have agreed on January, so changes may still occur.  One additional fact of interest is that the venue has an upstairs area that will be designated a "Sky Port Market" where all the airships, and anyone else interested, can set up a vending booth for steampunk related items at an unusually low fee.  (I'll wait on posting the actual fee, but it's less than half of what is typical)  There will also be an "Airship Parade"  on stage, which basically means that any and all steampunk groups, of whatever type, whether airship, sailing ship, steam powered gypsy wagon, steam train, Mongol style hoarde, or just wandering minstrels, will be given the opportunity to be presented formally to the community and to have their special interests, talents, social events, and/or services offered (such as acting, singing, costuming etc.) described to the local community.  There is also some discussion of possibly having an unusual steampunk variant of Alice in Wonderland characters played by actors that circulate the event, but that part is still being worked on.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

New Steampunk Sea Shanties

I am more of a dancer and a writer than a musician or singer, so while writing songs and poetry, as well as fiction, is normal for me, the technical aspects of putting wave files together etc. is quite new to me, but some friends offered to loan software for putting multiple instrument scores together in an overlay, or maybe I'll just call up some firends and do it the old fashioned way LOL.  One way or another, I'll get this in wave file and attached, but later, when I get over this cold.  Tends to affect the sound qulity don't ya know!

I wrote a rather long ballad like this as a eulogy for my father when he passed away and played it at his funeral.  He was cremated and the memorial done a month later, so I had a bit of time to put it together and I was not the least bit concerned with length or entertainment value in that case, as that was not the point.

In this case, I want the songs to tell a story, but also be fun.  The original Sea Shanty had a whole complete story, but was over 11 verses.  As even I found them a bit long, partly because I haven't been playing guitar enough lately and my fingers were tiring, especially on a steel string guitar, I decided to split it into two songs.  The problem was keeping a coherent story line, but I spent a morning devising a way to do that, and I think it came out quite nicely.  I also had to change the chords and the feel.  I used more minor chords and a different approach playing the chords arpeggio, to make "The Devil's Triangle" more spooky and supernatural sounding while still lovely since it focuses more on sailor's fears about the real historical "Devil's Triangle" (Bermuda Triangle), which is where the very unpleasant gravity wells sometimes appear sending those that survive the trip through to another time. 

Take a look at the finished product:

BTW, what do you think of my idea to make the time travel portal use some elements of real physics such as a gravity well, which how the real theorists say time travel would occur?  Of course my protagonist has to get spat out the other end at around 10 Gs before his body gets squished, or we wouldn't have much of a story after wards.  I also made the trip unpleasant, taxing on the body, frightening, and automatically requiring a 2 week rest between by virtue of the fact the gravity well locations are triggered by the height of the full moon and the exit ramps occur at the opposite low of the new moon.  This was not just because the moon really does have some effect of our gravitational field, which conceivably might trigger some phenomena like eddies in a current, but also because it doesn't serve as a good plot device in my opinion to have too convenient a form of time travel or else we would have the diet coke commercial version of a "do over button" attempts to solve everything instead of an interesting story line with only occasional time travel involved.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Live airing of new Abney Park album and live call-in with Robert and Jody

Too good to pass up!!!!/notes/robert-brown/jody-and-robert-on-the-radio-taking-your-phone-calls/159659037399185

Steampunk Music Sample Album-Sepiachord-Review on Trialbysteam

I especially appreciate A Sepiachord Passport’s success in exposing me to some Steampunk and retro-futuristic bands I’ve never heard of previously. Because Steampunk doesn’t have uniform sound, online radio stations like Pandora don’t necessarily help me in discovering new Steampunk music. A Sepiachord Passport succeeds where Pandora fails. And although there is a wide spectrum of sounds, textures, and lyrical images, the composition of the Passport is one that flows smoothly and enjoyably.

The actual review is at the following location.

Captain Robert's Bio (Abney Park)

The article is self explanitory.  Just click on the little link below.  I might add that ass this man has done a lot for us in many areas, it will pull up under multiple categories.

Steampunk Author Guest of Honor at Portuguese equivalent of Comic Con

I recieved the following message below, and was so thrilled to see it that I want to share it, and it's source, with you here:

Steampunk September 2 at 4:50am Report
Fantasy author Stephen Hunt is guest of honour at Portugal's version of Comic-Con this year, the Fórum Fantástico. Fancy a long weekend in Portugal's sunny capital, Lisbon this November?

The largest Portugese scifi publisher, Saída de Emergência, will be launching the Portugese language version of his steampunk novel, The Court of the Air, at the con. and

New Steampunk Sea Shanty

New Steampunk Sea Shanty

I just wrote it to put the basic story of the Covenant of the Kraken, our perforamance art groups' fictional back story (and steampunk fiction series) to music.  I've been trying to delve deeper into the Bardic Arts of my Druidic path for years and this is part of that journey.  The song is too long to put here, but it's in the page section of this blog in the right hand margin of the main page.  I'll sing it and put it on you tube later, so you can better hear how I intended it to sound, but right now I have a head cold, so that will have to wait a little.

It's now available with sound file on one of the pages in this blog.  Teh pages are listed just above the links to specific blog entries.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Electro-etching Brass - as seen on Steampunk Workshop

This is one of the coolest art projects I have ever seen for etching brass.  It involves using toner, chemicals, and electricity to etch any picture you like into sheets of pure brass.  It's a little technical, but extremely well explained.  I absolutely love it.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Depeche Mode Does Steampunk

Self explanitory-take a look at the video:

Lost Episode Trailer of Screw on Head (via Steampunktribune)

This one is pretty self explanatory.  It certainly bears a look even if you have never heard of "screw-on-head".

Steampunk Castle Episode # 2 -purely positive Review

As I was, fortunately, not the only one who saw positive in this episode and some very well spoken people, like GD Falkson, actually loved every aspect of it (unlike myself) I am very pleased to offer his take on the episode that differs sharply from my own.  Honestly, I hope he is right about all of it.  I disliked some aspects, mostly related to script and directing which I thought made us appear somewhat limited in the common sense or (being in touch with reality about guns) area, and I thought they made the "Private Steampunk club president" very unlikeable in ways that might reflect badly, but other aspects were wonderful, and I feel he may do it much more justice than my own review of it did.  Please read his review at the following location:

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

List of Steampunk Related Bands-Courtesy of Toby Lawhon

Toby Lawhon, lead singer of "Marquis of Vaudville" was kind enough to forward his listing of bands he considered to be "Steampunk" which he had compiled over the years in the field and had posted for the Steampunk Illumination Society here in the Dallas Area of Texas.

"The following is a list of music that can be considered steampunk. Within this list are examples of various styles of music, from all over the world, of classical, to folk, to jazz, rock, punk, electronica, tribal, etc.; an interesting and eclectic blend of music ranging from marching bands to cabaret. This list encompasses the eras typically associated with Steampunk through Dieselpunk (20's-50's). Being too critical & scrutinizing with chronological semantics concerning timeline accuracy and music of certain periods would greatly limit the wonderful diversity of the steampunk genre. If the music has somewhat of a vintage, old-world feel about it, along with a modern or futuristic twist, then it can be appropriate.
Please keep in mind that this of course is by no means a complete or definitive list. There are literally thousands of bands that could
fall under the steampunk parasol. This list is merely a quality starting point for those who wish to delve into music with a steampunk air about it, or if one is already familiar with music within the steampunk realm, this list is merely an excellent way to discover something new."

Abney Park:

Circus Contraption:

(The) Clockwork Dolls:

(The) Clockwork Quartet:

(The) Cog is Dead:

(The) Crow Quill Night Owls:

Curtis Eller's American Circus:

(The) Dad Horse Experience:

(The) Decemberists:

(The) Ditty Bops:

Dr. Steel:

(The) Dresden Dolls:

Emperor Norton’s Stationary Marching Band:

Evelyn Evelyn:


Flogging Molly:

Gogol Bordello:

(The) Gypsy Nomads:

Hellblinki Sextet:

Jason Webley:

Jill Tracy:

Juan Prophet Organization:

Marcella & the Forget Me Nots:

Marie Fleur MacGillis:

Marie-Josee Houle:

Marquis of Vaudeville:

Mediaeval Baebes:

(The) Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing:


Mr. Fibby:

Neo Camerata:

Patrick and Eugene:

Paul Mercer:

(The) Peryls:



Robin Aigner:

Serendipity Musik:

Steam Powered Giraffe:

Sterilize Stereo:

Sunday Driver (UK):

Toy-Box Trio:

Vagabond Opera:

Vermilion Lies:

Vernian Process:

(The) Widows Bane:

Yard Dogs Road Show:

Sites to Discover More Steampunk Music:

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Castle Steampunk Episode-mixed review

Yes I watched it, and yes, I do have some strong opinions in favor of some things and against others, but will say nothing more here about it, as instructed by my wise mistress, until all of our friends have had time to watch the episode and form their own opinions completely independently of outside influence.  I will edit my commentary, which I have written, but am awaiting proofing by my editor (helpful with important and controversial topics), and add it here later.  I post this only to let you know I didn't blow this off and recognize the public opinion impact importance of this episode on national TV.  Later then.

OK...It's later, and I warn you, this review of the episode, script, costuming, acting, and, most importantly, social impact on steampunk subculture, contains a lot of spoilers for the plot, which I discuss more than a little indirectly, like actually talking about who the killer is, so if you haven't seen it yet, stop reading here and go watch it first.  (pause)

Since you are still here, I assume you actually want to her my very opinionated opinion about this episode, so here goes:

Most of the ensembles were fabulous, and I liked the Asian looking actor that was wearing the artificial arm and being sociable with the police.  His personal look, his ensemble, and even his manner and lines were excellent.  He only had a bit part though.  All the extras were wearing excellent outfits ranging from simple and elegant to something I would expect only on the most talented of our community’s inventor’s or fashion designers.  There were pneumatically driven brass bionic arms, leather gears on velvet uniforms, metal gears on…well, everything, and corsets, dressed up goggles, and color (which is often lacking) used in tasteful and elegant ways.  Unfortunately, the only other steam punk dressed people with lines were the Boss of the victim, who thought he had accidentally killed the victim as was silly enough to stage a duel with real pistols to get a girl’s attention, because they were such bad shots with those pistols, they surely wouldn’t hit each other, the murderer, who worked in the club, but thought the Steampunk people were silly and mentioned the victim "wearing that ridiculous outfit every night", and an extreme narcissist who seemed to care about nothing but himself, who was the president of their “private steam punk club“.  It would also have been nice if the wardrobe person had not dressed the club president as a dandy (historical heavily overdressed lady's man often wearing unusual colors and extravagantly expensive materials).  The rest of the actors were in truly excellent steam punk attire (absolutely outstanding!), so I was puzzled why the main actor was dressed in a manner that looked so extremely different from his supporting actors and all of the extras even.  He was clearly dressed as a dandy, a truly historical, though often not well thought of, figure (especially by the husbands or fathers of those he was flirting with). 

He was wearing a well tailored lavender formal suit with a burgundy collar and burgundy trim accompanied by what appeared to be gold chain trim a half inch further in, a tulle (the kind of net material often used in evening gowns) extremely ruffled ascot with gears in the fabric, and carrying the most elaborately over ornamented cane imaginable complete with heavy brass, a watch, lace ruffle, and a cut glass door knob at the top, while wearing multicolored pants more extreme than most hippies wore in the 60s.  It was certainly a sight to behold!  He just looked so unlike the rest of the cast, whom I assumed were, as had been rumored, members of the actual local steam punk community, with additional special pneumatic artificial arms etcs on some of them, (and later loaned apparently to the series star) making truly excellent wardrobes, but they could have at least let the Steampunk Community dress the club president (like the rest of the cast) instead of using whoever dressed this actor, unless it was intentional as I plot device, which I suspect may have been the case.  It turns out that I blame the script writer and director far more than the costume designer, because they were probably telling the costumer to make him look like his attire suggested he was just interested in the party and  making others laugh, even though a friend had just been murdered, as this made him a perfect false lead for the cops without the audience needing to actually have an IQ any higher than a bullfrog to follow why the police thought that way.  He was even wearing a straw top hat, which I actually liked quite a bit, but of course would almost never exist in Victorian Europe as the top hat represented the power and wealth of the upper class whereas straw was a hat material for the poor who could afford nothing else.  It was actually quite attractive, well crafted, with lovely little gears, and I might have considered wearing it myself either to protest the over emphasis in our community on top hats, or to make my friends laugh and celebrate it‘s clever and innovative, and very definitely unhistorical design.

As I know how important many people from our steam punk subculture thought this national exposure might be to how the public views and thinks of us, I thought long and hard about this episode (and probably too long and hard overanalyzing it no doubt), but here is my analysis of it anyway as a social impact statement.  I felt it was very unfortunate that the writer chose to make the president of their club come across as so narcissistic and shallow, with an apparent total lack of feeling for his murdered friend that it appeared to the police as though he thought it was all a joke to him until they mentioned something that might endanger him personally, like the fact the murder weapon might be from their club.  If that's the sort of person they want people to believe we would choose to head our organizations and look up to, I don't really think it paints us in a very good light. He did say something very nice, but canned, about not liking the world as it was, and wanting to create a world where man’s ingenuity and creativity was limitless and they could find poetry in all aspects of life, even death.  At this point though, I must ask you, seriously, how many of you want friends that would go out to party and spin off shallow platitudes like that about your death less than 24 hours after you were murdered?  I'm not talking about a warrior dying in battle, or even someone that died from cancer.  We are talking about a good friend they believed was murdered in the park that night.  Am I the only one that felt the scriptwriter made them all seem like such rich spoiled narcissistic brats that they care absolutely zero for others? 

Actually it was made clear that they were portrayed as ultra rich, spoiled, and generally socially inept people that were mostly, if not all, from computer or finance fields, but that is a minor matter even though it is one more stereotype that helps to make people think we are strange outsiders rather than people they would want to know.  The other aspects concern me more.  Perhaps I read too much into this as I am a professional counselor and read body language for a living.  I thought the actor who was playing the club president was incredibly good as an actor however!  He did an excellent job of what the script writer told him to do, which was to act like nothing and no one mattered to him, other than adulation of his fans, and of course he cared about himself, he gave the police a good reason to suspect him immediately, made a lot of high minded platitudes while showing an almost complete lack of emotion about any of those statements in voice intonation, body language, and dead pan eyes (very hard to do actually),  and then looked suddenly very seriously concerned when they mentioned that he might know something about the murder weapon.  I had a strong positive reaction to the rest of the people, mostly extras, and such an extremely bad reaction to him, that I wrote my opinions, but fortunately thought about this long before publishing anything.  To be fair; however, I should mention a little history about fops, which is the only sort of historical character he could have been attempting to re-create as they really did exist in the Victorian age.  Fop's were bored, wealthy men that made a habit of wearing extreme fashions put together in a rather garish way that showed off their ability to purchase the most expensive materials possible without too much concern for actually making them look good, although they did manicure themselves quite finely and wear things perfectly tailored.  They were generally disliked by most decent people historically as many of them tried to seduce other men's wives and daughters without any concern for the aftermath, but they were usually too rich and influential for people to say so out loud.  They generally would have been shunned (or possibly killed) otherwise, and would not have been able to afford such clothing if there weren't extremely wealthy.  As a performance artist, I also read into scripts and in dramas as well as literature, fop's were typically villains almost as often as "the butler" and with much better reason as they were, by nature narcissistic scoundrels.  Even so, they are historical figures, though generally hated, figures in that society. 

Over all, I give a rating of about an 8 or 9 (out of 10) for the acting job of all the Steampunks in the show, about a 3 (out of 10) for my opinion of the script overall as I think it used shallow stereotypes on everyone including the regular cast for this episode.  To be fair though, I think the scriptwriter did exactly what the producer and director told him/her to do with the people's scripts even if it was very unflattering.  I disliked the rest of the script for the regular actors even more than the scripts for the steam punk actors, as I thought the whole episode made most of the normal cast seem silly and superficial as well, and they were supposed to be fully developed characters.  As for the costuming itself: I feel forced to give a mixed review.  Most of the  outfits were truly excellent (ranging from a 7 for the simplest to a 10 for the best with most in the 9 or 10 range), but the main steampunk actor's outfit was so very different that I am uncertain what to say about it exactly.  We may assume it was done that way on purpose either, like one of my close friends dresses, to rebel against taking life too seriously, and remind people to stop being fashion Nazis and have some fun in the community, or that it may have been an intentional plot device foreshadowing shallow character traits in the club president or something like that as a plot device.   I don't feel the “club president” character painted us in any way other than as rich, silly, superficial people without any depth or personality.  That's convenient for the script writer who wanted the character in question to appear that way as an easy (translate as lazy) plot twist, but it is sad that it might reflect that way on all of us as well.  Yes, I like the main actor of this series, and he was wonderful in “Firefly”, but that doesn't necessarily mean I like this series.  I haven’t seen any other episodes, so I have no opinion about the series itself, but I disliked this particular  episode script in general.  I also felt that their portrayal of our subculture came off to me as extremely superficial and at least mildly offensive.  They not only made the club president seem shallow, but made the murder victim and his boss, who though he shot him, but didn’t really, look more than a little foolish and pathetic in that, as the boss said when asked why they would stage a duel with real guns when they didn’t actually want to hurt each other: “a girl like that would never take any real interest in guys like us, but we thought, if we had a duel over her, one of us might have a chance.”  He thought that his friend’s math calculations of the probability that two amateurs could hit each other with ancient flintlock pistols at 40 paces made it a sure thing they would both miss.  Of course the show suggested that this may have been true as they greatly exaggerated just how inaccurate the guns were in a firing test, but it still made them both look very smart, very foolish, and very pathetic, which, I’m sorry to say, does not impress me with the writers much or make it feel they treated us fairly.  I, for instance, shot expert, the first time I was ever tested with a pistol and served as an infantry officer for years.  I am fairly sure, I would not have been silly enough to think it impossible I could kill my friend with a real gun, nor do I know that many men in our community that would have considered something so ridiculous just to impress a girl. 

The statement from the club president about trying to create an opportunity for people who dislike the world as it is to create a world full of ingenuity and creativity and find poetry in everything, could have been great, if the director wasn’t telling him to say this with such a lack of feeling, which I am sure is the case, based on his incredible emotional intensity a moment later when asked about the weapons.  He is a truly impressive actor and would not have delivered those fabulous lines about our subculture so devoid of emotion unless the director told him to.  It also would have helped if the script writer didn’t have him  saying this less than 24 hours after his friend was murdered and using it as an explanation for why he was joking and acting the clown right afterwards.  That would not be the time I would choose to make such a statement as it would be in incredibly bad taste to suggest we party and look for poetry in a friend's brutal murder.  This, in my opinion, anyway, shows that the script writer and director cared, as would be expected, only in convenient ploys to throw some bling, eye candy, trendy features, and freak show like appeal out there to raise ratings rather than actually do the work involved in “doing his homework” or any professional quality research to add anything approaching realism (heaven forbid in American television) to the show.  I dislike this not only as an insult to such a beautiful sub-culture movement, but also as an insult to the ideal of producing good art in television, which has pretty much died these days in the age of Jerry Springer, and a plethora of bad sitcoms that make OZZIE and Harriet or Leave It To Beaver look a revered treatise on wisdom from Socrates by comparison. 

I’m not saying that the show “Castle” is bad.  I actually hear pretty good things about it, and as I said before, I have no opinion about a show I‘ve seen only one episode of, but I have a rather low opinion of most typical television programming and feel this particular script fell victim to those standards causing an opportunity for us to shine to sort of fall victim to the ratings monster.  On the other hand, the steam powered bike was great and the star of the show said very nice things about us, our culture, and how much he liked our toys!  At the end of show he goes home to talk to his daughter dressed in some of the best of what he saw there including the bionic arm, purely as research for a book of course!  There were some bright spots in the episode, as it turns out after all.

Monday, October 11, 2010

New Abney Park Album-The End of Days! (Hurray!!!)

See the video of the title song at this location as well!!!  Double yea!!
(hint: it takes to a place where Capt. Robert's pic shows with words around the edge saying click the center for it to start, just in case you are too excited to actually see, much less read, things like fine print)

Depeche Mode Does Steampunk

Self explanitory-take a look at the video:

Film with SP Leanings-Adele Blanc-Sec

Victorian anthropolgist digging up mummies, including one that talks, very politely to her, and wants her to take him to see the local museums.  The film also includes a flying dinosaur, magic, etc.  OK, so this would be what is called "Gaslight" fiction as opposed to Steampunk, but it's still very appropriate for this blog.  Take a look at the trailer.  It has some over 18 warning due to a half second glimpse of breasts when the protagonist gets news that causes her to leap out of a tub, but it's pretty tame, regarding nudity, actually.   As I have not been able to actually view the film, I cannot actually review the film or recommend for or against seeing it, but you may be sure I plan to see it regardless.

Post Apocalyptic Movie with Steampunk Overtones-Warrior's Way

The Warrior's Way [Blu-ray]

 The Warrior's Way

The Third Way-Cooperative Living as Steampunk Culture

The following is  a blog post by Larry Amyett, (a local diesel Punk Blogger) about his views regarding a better world that has been and can be again.

Who We Are: Part I

Longevity, Cooperativism and Human Nature

Philosophers have historically taken the three highly simplified views of human nature and have built various models consisting of differing degrees of complexity. Jean Jacques Rousseau believed that we are by nature good and that we are corrupted by society (the “noble savage”). The existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre held that human nature is neutral, with an individual’s free will being the sole element that decides our actions. According to Sartre as humans we have a radical freedom to the point that we are “condemned to be free.” Others that share his view of neutrality often give control largely to environmental socialization and conditioning (such as B.F. Skinner). Then there was Thomas Hobbes who held that human nature is bad. In Leviathan Hobbes wrote, “So that in the first place, I put for a general inclination of all mankind, a perpetual and restless desire of power after power, that ceaseth only in death.” He thought that any goodness exhibited by someone was the result of society keeping that person’s dark side in check. Otherwise, without society’s restrictions, human existence would be “nasty, short, and brutish.”

There is a growing body of scientific studies that now point towards an understanding that humans have a hardwired predisposition in which working together appears to be intrinsically reinforcing and which in turn encourages future cooperative behavior. Studies show that this drive is so powerful that if someone fails to cooperate then another person will go out of his or her own way to punish the uncooperative one, even at his or her own sacrifice. This revelation of the cooperative nature of humankind is so important that it deserves close examination.

see the rest of the article at:

Blade Runner: Dieselpunk or Cyberpunk? (post apocalyptic Steampunk?)

DeiselPunk-as Politics (also a detailing of the meaning of "Punk")

The following is a post by Larry Amyett (local Diesel Punk Blogger) about the controversy surrounding Deisel Punk having, or avoiding any political agendas.  The topic and contents can be applaied directly to Steampunk Community as well.  (which Larry is also very much a beloved part of in spite of championing Diesel Punk at all the events.)

Dieselpunk Politics – Part 1

by Larry Amyett  published on

Sunday, March 21, 2010 in the blog: DieselPunk

"If dieselpunk cinema is considered controversial then any proposal that there might be a dieselpunk politics is nearly toxic as a subject in the online dieselpunk community. That being said, I do believe that it might be possible to identify elements that we can label as ‘dieselpunk politics.’ Before I begin some disclaimers are in order."

 See the rest if the article at:

Victorian Era European Music-Influence for Steampunk Music?

Is Steampunk Music Really Victorian Influenced?

While Steampunk Music is presumed to have some sort of Victorian influence, that seems doubtful at times in some bands, but we must take into consideration that modern audiences might not really show up much to a straight Victorian style concert.  On the other hand, one of the defining factors, for what most would accept as a legitimately "Steampunk Band", has less to do with clothing than with the sound, the instruments, and the lyrics.  As I discuss this topic in another Blog post on a similar topic already, I will try to be brief and say simply that what matters most to me are that the sound is older ins style than, oh...lets say... "Metallica" for instance, and that they work some older acoustic instruments, (preferably older even than guitars or modern drums sets, such as fiddle, mandolin, harpsichord, Sitar, Dumbek, Tabla, Djimbe etc) into their music in a very prominent way.  What is most important though is that they present the sort of fictional stories that are at the heart of the Steampunk movement in the lyrics of many of their songs.  What that amounts to may vary of course, but the songs tend to be about adventure, wanderlust, and a fondness, even obsession with invention, especially the sort of science fictional inventions imagined in the Victorian age such as clockwork robots (which did actually exist, courtesy of Archimedes as early as 250 bc, but had a very limited range of preset actions), Tesla coils, times machines etc.

I realize this may open up the question of whether or not there are more of what I define as steampunk musicians at the local Renaissance Fairs than there are at most Steampunk Conventions, but what of it?  In the first place, they clearly do a better job of using pre-modern instruments, and in the second place, they cover the adventure, highwayman, pirate, and wanderlust songs, extremely well.  On the other hand, they do not incorporate anachronistic or steam era items in accoutrement (most of the time anyway) and most importantly, do not call themselves "Steampunk Musicians", but many bands that do use that label would do well to look hard at what those musicians do so well and learn from them!

As circuses were a very widely talked about and enjoyed form of entertainment enjoyed since the Roman Empire, but came into prominence as a traveling show under the guidance of Gypsies around the 1400s.  As such it is actually renaissance era material, and was around in America as early as before the revolution to become a nation, but came ever more into prominence as time passed.

How much impact or connection there is between Vaudeville era and Steampunk depends on who you ask, although it is certainly at the heart of entertainment in the early Diesel Punk Era, but it is likely that Vaudeville type performances were common in less high brow establishments long before the speak easy era such as during the late Victorian Era, although they would have been kept hidden and secret, except in frontier areas, prior to the sexual revolution of the roaring 20's.  As such, while Vaudeville was kept secret during the Victorian Era, it certainly flourished in some Opium Dens and back rooms of Gentlemen's Clubs, or private chambers of some mansions, but more a private performances or sex clubs entertainments where Victorian "Gentlemen" could release their "sexually oppressed" desires out of sight of the Queen's men.  As such, I would argue that although public Vaudeville Acts are actually Diesel Punk, their predecessors and historical sources actually developed under, and were partially created by, the sexually oppressive public culture of the Victorian Age.  As such their themes are also appropriate lyrics for "Steampunk Music", even though they, like circus and carnival songs, have a very distinctive and different flavor all their own.

Post apocalyptic Era adventure fiction where the steam era re-surfaces is unquestionably a major theme in many Steampunk stories and therefore an excellent source of lyrics for "Steampunk Music".  This is especially true when you consider that a modern "Steampunk Ensemble" is considered incomplete without at least one "clunky raygun" per most internet descriptions although I would say that the majority prefer more elegant looking ones, but that requires a higher level of fabrication skill, or a lot of money, which not all of us have.  Regardless, a "raygun", by definition something using electromagnetic radiation, as in a laser, or some other form of very advanced radiation or sound weapon, would not only never have been invented in the Victorian Age, on any time line, for the same reason Lonardo De Vinci could not complete his greatest designs, namely inferior materials and fabrication techniques, but the power supply to power such a device in a hand held version may never be created, by humans at least, as we are far more likely to destroy ourselves, or at least the level of technological civilization necessary to produce it before it can ever come to pass.  As such, a post-apocalyptic scenario is much more in keeping with the "Steampunk Fashion" I am seeing most often among some of the most elaborate and sought after new "Steampunk Airship" groups that entertain with appearances, modeling, and panels on regalia and ensemble fabrication these days, and the standard weapons presented are, in my opinion, pretty fantastic (both senses of the word) without either introducing time travel or alien interaction.  Add in the fact that modern instruments are almost always used at least somewhat, along with soundtrack backgrounds for (extra parts they don't have enough members to play all at once, and the idea of post-apocalyptic adventures, or at least time traveling adventures, seem to be the most appropriate of all for "Steampunk Music".

Just the same, I titled this as I did, because I looked up the best Victorian Music tidbits I could find and will post the first paragraph with a link, as well as posting the full text as a separate page here.  I found them very interesting material.  I'm sure more is available, but this is what looked most enlightening of what I could find.

The early Victorian era (1830s) primarily saw most of the music entertainment being held in public locations such as saloons. Unfortunately, the older music halls that people would enjoy music in earlier times within England were pushed out of existence by the urban development. Although many still stood, they had severely lost their popularity. The saloons would offer drinks, singing, and it was where most of the music and drama was performed during the early Victorian era. However, by the middle of the nineteenth century there were some new music halls being built throughout London. These quickly became the place to go to hear some of the newer music and many people enjoyed visiting them regularly.
[Victorian Web Home —> Authors —> Music, Theatre, and Popular Entertainment —> Sir Edward Elgar]

The following text comes from the program for the 2007 Bard College concert series and symposium entitled Elgar and His World, which was organized by Leon Botstein, Christopher H. Gibbs, and Robert Martin, Artistic Directors, Irene Zedlacher, Executive Director, and Byron Adams, Scholar in Residence 2007. Readers may wish to consult the festival site for additional information about this and past festivals and related publications, including Elgar and His World, ed. Byron Adams, which Princeton University Press published in 2007.

By long tradition, concert programs in the Victorian era tended to balance vocal and instrumental pieces. During the period of Elgar's musical apprenticeship, it was the convention to alternate between the two kinds of music and to avoid performing several examples of the same genre in a row. These practices grew from a deep fascination with virtuosity in its contrasting forms, the voice and the instrument being thought mutually interdependent — a "love duet" of bel canto between them, as Rodolfo Celletti has argued. Nor would a concert offer only music from one country, least of all from the immediate region: cosmopolitanism was essential to the musical culture of Britain during this period. The present program resembles the new kinds of concerts that were moving away from old norms after around 1840. It became common to give much more weight to the vocal component while nonetheless including a few instrumental numbers as contrast. A preponderance of vocal numbers had first appeared at concerts focused, nationalistically, on British music, particularly at the Vocal Concerts offered from the 1790s. British composers had been all but excluded from the King's Theater since its founding, and few were admitted to the programs of the Philharmonic Society; for that reason musicians working against that pattern tended to go against other musical conventions.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Why Do Steampunks Care About Local Versus Global Economy?

With some very serious groups forming to announce intention to make Steampunk a lifestyle choice, and local events pointing out the strength of their conviction to support local artisans, craftsmen, restaurants, and local businesses over large chains, much less an avoidance of the evil empire of Wal-mart, I started thinking in depth about the reasons and rationale that drives these passions which are surfacing more often and more strongly among some in our community.

The conclusions I came to are both enlightening and disturbing at the same time.  Enlightening in that it seems that Steampunk brings out the best in many, and disturbing because it forced me to look more closely at the pervasive destruction of the middle class and of any real opportunity for those not born into privilege the world over.  It's almost as if Feudalism is making a huge resurgence under the disguise of "Globalization" while, like the fictional character from the East India Company in "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies says, they just consider it "good business" when abuse of the common people in order to squeeze them into a convenient box is accomplished by big business.  It seems that our tiny community (as compared to the Goliath size of our foe anyway) is not putting on narrow blinders when they try to buy locally, but rather, quite the opposite, they are one of the few communities totally removing the "goggles" , so to speak, and looking at the true evil of "Globalization" as it is really being practiced now, full in the face.  They are thinking, like the fictional Steampunk Hero Captain Nemo, in terms of concern for the world as a community, rather than as a nation, a state, a city, or a neighborhood, and like him, fighting passionately to help the oppressed resist the seemingly unstoppable steam roller of "progress as it tries to destroy any attempt at individuality or efforts to maintain things like quality, customer service, good or even safe working conditions, pollution controls, equal opportunity, human rights, or anything that might support the wants and needs of anyone other than the top level executives and their shareholders at the expense of destroying our world (quite literally) and our economies in the process.

Globalization, when all the rhetoric is stripped away, means finding the cheapest possible labor market in the world, firing almost all of the business's employees (usually with little or no notice) and then moving production to an extremely undeveloped area where poorly trained an unqualified workers are paid slave wages (sometimes children literally bought as slaves and chained to a weaving loom) in a place where hundreds of years of equal rights laws, human rights laws, pollution laws, worker safety laws, and all forms of unionization labor standards are totally thrown away in a single stroke!  In fact there are even a few cases where the abolition of slavery was proven to be overturned in some cases by this wonderful new profit maker "globalization".

What happens more often is that indigenous people are lured away from traditional lifestyles, usually agricultural, where they usually had love, family, clean water, good food, and enough to eat and taken to a strange place where they are treated almost like slaves, worked in very dangerous conditions, and often raped, beaten, and or murdered, usually on the streets while walking to and from work, but sometimes even in the workplace.  They are lured by the promise of having all the gadgets, fancy clothes, cell phones, etc. that westerners have, but they give up, literally everything and become severely abused, depressed, and suicidal instead.  At least that is the typical dismal picture for many of them.  In exchange for this they receive pathetic wages and increased cost of living that allows them to save little or none of what they earn.  In exchange for tolerating these horrors, we are permitted to buy cheap goods (in all meanings of the word) from Wal-mart, Target, or dollar stores, etc.  Of course the junk sold there is usually bland, cheap looking, all looks alike, works poorly, and breaks very quickly, but of course, "Hey it's cheap and that's all that matters!"  For the manufacturers who have sold our American dream down the sewer in this way leaving millions of Americans unemployed and destroying the manufacturing powerhouse that America once was, this is an ideal situation, because they never have to care about what the worker's think, don't bother to pay lawsuits if thousands of people are killed due to poor safety standards, horrifically irresponsible industrial accidents (even ones that kill a huge portion of a city in a single night like the chemical insecticide plant in India that released poison gas killing thousands and maiming more than 10 times as many just because they wanted to save money by shutting down all the safety systems and refrigerating compressors.)  Not only that, but if their cheap and poorly made goods have poor enough quality standards, they will break quickly and force us to buy even more from the same source again!

The Globalization movement also is taking a page from the book of "Khrushchev" who told the west that threatened the Soviet Union (by luring away their talented young minds with that irresistible rock and roll and the hope of a better life).  "Khrushchev" said "I will crush the west with my shoe and took it off and pounded it on his table at the UN Assembly.  While it was not an idle threat, he finally realized that in order to do so, they would have to destroy themselves as well.  I mention this incident as it is essentially the same as the "Wal-mart" phenomenon.  When we complain that a store only carries the prettiest items in size medium, small, and extra small, or that they all look alike, or that we have to wait an hour to get through a check out line, or that customer service no longer exists, we are always told "Well...I know, and that's sad, but Wal-Mart has forced our stores to act just like them in order to survive.  We lay off at least half of our workers, carry only the very most popular and cheapest items, and have to service big buyers first even if it means offending our regular customers in the process."  I even get this answer in hardware stores, plant nurseries (the few still in business) and an amazing number of other types of businesses.

Below are a few stories that I think are fairly typical of the problem that I found in a very cursory search of the internet by simply typing in worker abuse into Google.  Take a look at them and please advise me of the worst of what you find yourself, or already know about regarding the question "Why should Steampunks (Republican or Democrat) want to do their utmost to stop the tide of Globalization that has gutted our national economy and our national culture while abusing people horribly and almost ensuring the increase of pollution to levels that may make all life here extinct.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Threadbanger fashion tips

Lego my Frankenstein?

Well...OK...I realize that this short stop motion animation, using lego people of all things, isn't exactly Steampunk, but anything related to the story of Dr. Frankenstein, and drama related, has to be at least mentioned, even if only in the just for fun category.