Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Miss Alexandra Hamer, Steampunk Musician Extraordinare…

“Wild Girl and Crazy Dog”, by Miss Hamer

The world of Steampunk music is quite challenging to define, and my personal tastes tend to lean more towards the classical music of the era.  When I was contacted by Miss Alexandra Hamer, I was pleasantly suprised with her outstanding work, and do hope that you indulge in a bit of her stylings – please do enjoy!

“Madagascan Boat Repairs (a little Steampunk music), by Miss Hamer

To learn more about her work, please visit her Facebook page, at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Alexandra-Hamer/121564887896176

Sunday, November 28, 2010

New Babbage’s The Black Heart (Trailer by young Mr. Loki)

Once again, master Loki has come up with an outstanding video trailer, for the newest episode in New Babbage’s history, the Mystery of the Black Heart!  Please do enjoy the video, and then take a peek to his website for more details, at: http://babbagechronicles.co.uk/

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Great Race (1965), Saturday the 27th of November, on TCM

I was pleasantly surprised when I happened upon the tidbit that The Great Race, one of perhaps the best Steampunk-esque classics of the early Steampunk movie era (say from the “beginnings of film making” to somewhere in the 1980s).  Considered to be a “screwball comedy” back in the day (before my day, thank you!), it had a cast of legendary luminaries, with Jack Lemon as “Professor Fate/Prince Hapnick”, Tony Curtis as “Leslie Gallant III” (a “daredevil”), Natalie Wood as “Maggie Dubois” (a sausy companion to Leslie Gallant), and directed by the comic genius of Blake Edwards.

Professor Fate’s Hannibal Twin Eights!
(which for the most part, works well…)

Originally considered a critical flop, The Great Race was a specular box office hit, along with another Steampunk-esque race move of the time, “Those Magnificent Men and their Flying Machines“.  It was nominated for five academy award, and won one Oscar.  To this day, it still retains a “75% Freshness” rating at Rotten Tomatos (per Wikipedia).

The movie flyer from the release of “The Great Race”

The production has a number of unique Steampunk items, including Professor Fate’s Hannibal Twin Eights, a rocket-powered rail-mounted vehicle, and of all things Natalie Wood’s character is a photojournalist and a suffragette as well (the temptress probably voted for Taft as well)!  One of the most noted scenes was the pie fight, reminiscent of old slapstick comedies, had its own challenges, as the background described (again, per the Wiki).

The infamous pie fight scene!

So, if one happens to have a bit of time available at 5pm EST and have Turner Classic Movies, do consider viewing one of Steampunk’s early classics!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Steampunk Writers Guild and the Creative Genus Deck…

Having seen a bit of the evolution of Steampunk online, I’d say that perhaps one of the most calamitous events of recent memory was the changing of the Ning business structure.  While many may not be familiar with the “old” Ning, its early incarnation allowed individuals to make versatile websites for focused online meeting locales for groups with specific interests (for free – an excellent price).  Many Steampunk groups (especially Second Life groups) flourished on the Ning, until the company changed its business model, eliminating the “free” groups in favor of a pay-model, with differing tiers.  “Business is Business”, and if economic realities required the change, so be it, but an off-shoot was the dissolution of many established Steampunk groups.  Some migrated to other locations (such as New Babbage and Armada), but other simply dissolved, losing an excellent platform for Steampunk creativity.

So why the journey down memory lane?  There are still Steampunk sites which took the plunge and continued on with the Ning model.  Some, such as the well known Steampunk Empire (perhaps the most active Steampunk location on the aethernet) are doing outstandingly well, but a new Steampunk Ning has emerged, named the “Steampunk Writers Guild”.  A well designed Ning (yes, there are poor ones, as counter-intuitive at that might sound), it is a central clearing house for Steampunk discussion and writing.  It introduces itself as a “… home for readers, writers, publishers, and bloggers of Steampunk fiction…”, the Steampunk Writers Guild is an excellent locale to discover new authors, learn of new works, and garner a bit more into the written background of Steampunk Fiction.  I would heartily recommend a visit, and look around a bit, as one can not only find new endeavors being labored upon, but obtain a bit of insight as to the direction of the Steampunk published word.  Their website is located at: http://steampunkwriters.ning.com/, so do stop by!

On a similar vein, I was approached by Mr. P. South, a writer and inventor, who devised the Creative Genus Deck, a tool to invigorate a writer’s skills and imagination.  Alas, I’m a simple yellow journalist, so I’m afraid its benefits would be lost on me, but it is quite unique, and if it piques one’s interest, I would suggest a visit to the gentleman’s website, at: http://creative.ideasdigital.com/ !

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Arms Race – an Outstanding Steampunk Short

Came across this well made Steampunk short, and I’d say its one of the best works I’ve come across in quite a while.  Though there is a bit of running for the first minute or so of the endeavor (interspersed with the film’s credits), once you arrive at the bulk of the production, it is most certainly well worth it!  

Please do visit their blog, at: http://armsracemovie.com/ , where they detail the making, development, and marketing of this work.  It is quite nice to see the workings behind the production, as well as the production itself!  Please do enjoy!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Results from the SL Steamland’s Fleet Week!

This week saw the conclusion of Second Life’s Second Steamland’s Fleet Week, the largest gathering Steampunk sims in one location on the grid!  Its purpose was to renew the ties between the bonds between SL Steampunk sim and engage in a bit of friendly competition as well.

The results of the competition, as reported by the Fleet Week’s committee are as follows…

The Iron Melee had four scenarios, and winners of said events were as follows…
The Surface ship Scenarios was won by New Babbage,
The Airship scenario was won by Caledon,
The Capital ships scenario was won by Steeltopia,
and the “No Holes Barred” scenario was won by Caledon.

The Submarine races were decided as follows…
Mr. Jimmy Branagh took first place, with Miss Mary Edison taking second.

The specular Windjammers races had the following results…

First place in the SL Wind category was Mr. Wildstar Beaumont, followed by Mr. Victor1st Mornington in second place…
First place in the Non-SL Wind category was Mr. Jorge Serapis, with Mr. Victor1st Mornington taking second place there as well.

The Shipbuilder’s Exhibition, displaying fantastic creations for aqueous and aero endeavors, were…

Best in Show – Mr. Albus Weka, for his Sky Boat
Judges’ Choice – Mr. Nix Sands, for his Roller Ship Mk1
and another Judge’s Choice was Captain Static, for the Bloody Vengeance.

The Second Annual Uniform Dress Ball was yet another smashing success, which included the “Gnome Building” contest.  The results of the contest are as follows…

First place went to Mr. Edward Pearse’s Babbage Christmas Gnome (the fellow above sitting on the Christmas present), and Second place went to Miss BlakOpal Galicia “BlakOpal Holiday Gnome”.  For a full listing of the entrants, please visit the New Babbage website, at: http://cityofnewbabbage.com/drupaltest/node/1270

A hearty thanks to the organizing committee, and all the event participants!

(All photos are courtesy of Miss Breezy Carver)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Steampunk Events for November 19th -21st, 2010…

This is the week many have been waiting for in RL (and in SL), the second Steamcon, in the brisk city of Seattle, Washington State.  It looks to be a very good event, with an excellent turnout expected and a large number of unique events taking place.  Aside from a long list of luminaries visiting (including Mr. Jake Von Slatt, Mr. James Blaylock, Ms. Cheri Priest, and Mr. Phil &Ms. Kaja Foglio, to point out a few of the many guests), a list of items taking place did catch my eye, including…

  • Two of my favorite Steampunk musical performers, Miss Unwoman and Miss Veronique Chevalier
  • Numerous new games, including a new SPACE 1889 RPG scenario titled “Red Sands”
  • An outstanding art exhibition (including another personal favorite of mine, Mr. James Ng
  • and frankly, a plethora of outstanding things to do!
For a much more in depth review, or details while you are visiting SteamCon II, please visit their website, at: http://www.steamcon.org/index.php

If one is unable to attend the real world Steam event, then SL provides an excellent alternative!  The culmination of the Steamland’s Fleet Week reaches a crescendo with a series of events, including the Windjammer Race, the ever-popular Submarine Races, and of course, the second Annual Formal Uniform Dress Ball, held at the Piermont Landing.  To eye an extended course of events of the completion of Fleet Week, please visit New Babbage’s website, at: http://cityofnewbabbage.com/reader/node/1052

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Steampunk Form and Function on display in Massachusetts

An exposition of Steampunk Form and Function is currently ongoing at the Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation, in Waltham, MA.  Their press release states…

Steampunk: Form and Function
An Exhibition of Innovation, Invention and Gadgetry 

At The Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovations new exhibit Steampunk, Form & Function, and an Exhibition of Innovation, Invention and Gadgetry sponsored by Steampuffin modern technology meets the Victorian era.

Inspired by the works of authors like Jules Verne and H.G Wells, and grown out of the world of science fiction, steampunk has become a cultural phenomenon like that of the punk rock movement of the 1980s or the goth movement of the 1990s.   Supporters of the movement describe steampunk as an alternate history where modern technology and Victorian life meet.  At its core steampunk asks the question, what would the world look like if modern technology were available, when steam was king, corsets were mandatory and man was learning to fly? Since its inception in the 1980s, the movement has infiltrated mainstream fashion, art, interior design, literature, technology and entrainment. Elements of the movement can be seen on the runway of Paris, in home design stores across the country, in Hollywood productions and on gamers screens. 

The Charles River Museum of Industry & Innovation is the first museum in the country to feature an exhibit solely dedicated to the steampunk movement. Steampunk, Form & Function offers an informational and interactive look into the world of steampunk and all that it encompasses including, fashion, literature, entertainment and much more.   On display visitors will find modern Victorian clocks, a spinning wheel that generates power, GPS and iPods devices with gears and gages, and a computerized carriage.  They can play a game of interactive pinball and use Victorian computer stations to discover the origins of this technological Victorian world.

Encompassed in the exhibit are over thirty works of art from some of the world finest steampunk artists and amateurs.  The artwork was submitted earlier this fall to the Museums Steampuffin Steampunk and Design Completion sponsored by Steam puffin and ModVic home design each submission uses authentic Victorian Era antiques and incorporates modern technology into them to create a new functional steampunk work of art. Competition winners were announced at the exhibit opening reception on October 22, 2010.

Steampunk, Form & Function is open now through May 11th, 2011.  Admission is $5 for the general public and $3 for seniorsstudents; admission is free for children under six.   The Museum is located at 154 Moody Street in Waltham, MA 02453.  For more information visit http://www.crmi.org or call 617 893 5410.

About the Museum: The Charles River Museum of Industry & Innovation is located on the scenic banks of the Charles River in the 19th century Boston Manufacturing Company textile mill complex, on the National Register of Historic Places as Americas first factory.  The historic site has exhibits that allow visitors to explore the inventions that powered America into the modern-age – steam engines, generators, timepieces, machine tools, bicycles, automobiles, and hundreds of other innovations.  The museum also offers a memorable backdrop for unique social or corporate events and functions.  For more information, please visit www.crmi.org

Alas, I reside a bit south of the beautiful state of Massachusetts, but if one happens to be in the area, I’d certainly recommend a visit to what looks like a quite impressive Steampunk exhibition!  For more details, please visit their website, at: http://www.crmi.org/exhibits/temporary-exhibits-at-crmi/steampunk-form-and-function-an-exhibition-of-innovation-invention-gadgetry/

A pair of reviews of the event are here, from the Boston Globe, and from the local periodical, the Waltham News Tribune.  A link to their site will be displayed on the Tribune’s sidebar for the duration of their display – for future reference!  

Monday, November 15, 2010

Burke and Hare movie reviews…

Burke and Hare opened a bit ago in the UK to what seems to be not so thrilling reviews.  However, this is teh first I’ve come across it, and frankly, at least the trailer looks entertaining.  Produced by Mr. John Landis, it involves a fictionalization of the real life events (some would say serial killings) of Burke and Hare, who were notorious for acquiring bodies for medical research.  For more details on the production, please turn to…

and one can brush up on the fellows who provided the basis for scientific inquest (RL history), at: 

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Second Annual Fleet Week in SL Steamlands begins today!

The Fleet has arrived in Steeltopia!  Second Life Steamlands will be celebrating the Second Annual Fleet Week, this year in the exceptional sims which comprise Steeltopia.  The schedule of events is as follows…

Saturday, November 13th
     Fleet Week Grand Opening Ceremonies – 4pm SLT
     Shipbuilder’s Expo and and Shipbuilding Contest begins – 4pm SLT
     Seaman’s Ball – 6pm SLT

Sunday through Saturday 
     Shipbuilder’s Expo continues in Steeltopia

Thursday, November 18th
     Ironclad Melee – 5pm SLT

Friday, November 19th
     Belly-Up performance – 12:15 pm SLT
     Fleet Review – 1pm SLT

Saturday, November 20th
     Windjammer Race – 12 (noon) SLT
     Submarine Races – 2pm SLT
     Second Annual Uniform Ball at the Piermont Landing – 6pm SLT

For further details, please visit the entire schedule of events, at: http://cityofnewbabbage.com/reader/node/1052

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Steampunk Events for 13 November, 2010… and a small thank you for my compatriots who are or have served…

Two big RL events, and one SL event take place this weekend!  First, the Emerald City Steampunk Expo will be taking place in Wichita, Kansas this Saturday!  They have a full cavalcade of events, though I understand there have been a few last minute changes to its program.  For more details, please visit their main website, at:

Across the Atlantic, there is an event, but this one isn’t in England!  In Barcelona, the Convencion Steampunk BCN will be taking place, so if one happens to be in the locale, do consider paying a visit.  Pass by their website, at: http://consteampunk.blogspot.com/, for more details.


Finally, for those who have followed this blog for a bit, know that I’m an ex-Navy fellow, so I’d like to take the moment to say “thank you” to all of the brave men and women, both on current active duty and service veterans from all branches, for their service to their country.  Your nation can never truly repay you for your sacrifices, but you have my appreciation from this small corner of the internet.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Gatehouse Gazette, Issue #, has arrived!

The Gatehouse Gazette, one of the premiere magazines about Steampunk and Dieselpunk has released its latest issue.  This latest work has topic concerning the Battle of the Sexes (with a Steampunk perspective), turn-of-the-century Automatons, and an excellent article by the lovely Miss Hilde Heyvaert concerning the Lolita style in Steampunk and Dieselpunk, and much more!.  To view your own copy of the Gatehouse Gazette, Issue 15, please turn to:  http://www.ottens.co.uk/gatehouse/Gazette%20-%2015.pdf.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Great Steampunk Empire Pin Contest begins!

Learned that the Steampunk Empire has begun a endeavor to have a dedicated pin for the members of the Empire in the passing of the 5,000 member mark!  This contest will run during the month of November, so for more details, please visit the Steampunk Empire Pin contest thread, at: http://www.thesteampunkempire.com/forum/topics/the-great-steampunk-empire-pin

Monday, November 8, 2010

New Babbage Bonfire and Fireworks display, 2010!

Received the latest work from the very talented Mr. Loki, who was kind enough to document the past weekend’s events – a heartfelt thanks from the citizenry for your hard work in not only documenting the event, but coordinating it as well!  Kudos to yourself and all involved!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Found: an Android Steampunk shirt…

Stumbled upon this little gem, and as an Android user, I have to admit that this “Steampunk Android” shirt is a nice juxtaposition for casual attire.  To consider it a bit further, please visit The Android Guys, at: http://www.androidguys.com/2010/11/03/steampunk-android-shirt-isteam-andy/isteam_shirt/ and at: http://www.isteamandy.com/,

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Abney Park’s newest album, “The End of Days”, is available for download…

The newest album from Abney Park, The End of Days, was released earlier this week, and is currently available for download (and purchase, of course – but most people are too impatient to wait for snail mail to get the CD, including myself)!  To take advantage of a quick and quality download, please visit the Abney Park Market, at: http://abneypark.com/market/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=2

Of course, to learn more about the band’s current hi-jinxs and performance schedule, please do pay a visit to their website, at: http://www.abneypark.com/

Thursday, November 4, 2010

TeslaCon this weekend!

A quick note to impress that if one happens to be in the Madison, WI area, TeslaCon will be taking place this weekend!  With a plethora of events at the gathering, there is certain to be something to catch one’s steamy eye!  For more details, please visit their website, at: http://teslacon.com/

Additionally, Miss Evelyn pointed out that the Imperial Anti-Piracy Squadron will be stopping by TeslaCon after a busy year of hunting down characters of questionable repute!  To see their full schedule, do visit the Seampunk Fashion schedule for the IAPS, at: http://community.livejournal.com/steamfashion/2879748.html

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The League of STEAM: “Full Moon Fiasco”!

Happened to catch the latest mention of the League of STEAM’s current production, so as to be expected, I went ahead and posted it on the Tribune!  To see more of their work, please visit their website, at: http://www.leagueofsteam.com/.

(A tip of the hat to Baron Von Fogel, Aerial Tactical Specialist for the League of STEAM, via Steampunk Fashion – ty, sir!)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Anti-Steampunk bias rears it head at NPR!

The Steampunk Empires Miss Moniquill brought an article to the forefront from the National Public Radio (NPR) blog, in which one of their in-house reporters, a Mr. J.J. Sutherland, decided to write an article critical of Steampunk.  Such pieces are not unusual, and as the genre grows, criticisms of Steampunk will begin to emerge, and are important to aspects which may be of question in the continued development of the genre.  Though some demonstrate valid and well-thought out arguments about Steampunk shortcomings, others showing a lack of effort research (and frankly showing signs of just being hacked together before a deadline).  This piece smells of an individual who was late to meet a deadline.

The fellow seems to believe that Steampunk, has failed to provide some sort of social justice in some manner, then refers the reader an article by a Mr. Charles Stross, who apparently did at least attempt to make an effort to develop a background for his own critical piece about Steampunk. Aside from the snarky-ness tone of the piece, there were a number of contentions, which I noticed and others pointed out.  Some of which caught my eye were

a) Mr. AetherPowers intersting comment about Sturgons Law (on Steampunk Empire)
aka, Ninty percent of every thing is crud, when referring to the throngs of fiction writers jumping on the Steampunk bandwagon.  To quote him directly

I repeat Sturgeons Revelation, which was wrung out of me after twenty years of wearying defense of science fiction against attacks of people who used the worst examples of the field for ammunition, and whose conclusion was that ninety percent of SF is crud.
Using the same standards that categorize 90% of science fiction as trash, crud, or crap, it can be argued that 90% of film, literature, consumer goods, etc. are crap. In other words, the claim (or fact) that 90% of science fiction is crap is ultimately uninformative, because science fiction conforms to the same trends of quality as all other artforms.

This would also apply to Steampunk fiction, expounded by a commentary by SL own Mr. Edward Pearse (about four comments below Mr. Powers comment)

b) Eben Mishkin commented (on the NPR blog)..
– I hate to give a critique of you just don’t get it, but by your own definitions you do not. Steampunk is romanticized, it is not supposed to be historically accurate. The Difference Engine, doesn’t even take place in our reality but a divergent time line. Mr. Stross is trying to apply history to a genre that is about modernity. All of the punk genres are about the time they are written in, not the ones they depict. Steampunk is about here and mow. We can have beautiful luxuries, enjoy wonders from afar, go anywhere and yet in large part we do not. We dress shabbily, speak without erudition, and our possessions are expected to break down. Steampunk is a solution to and metaphor for those problems: dress nicely, speak beautifully, recycle, and make your possessions heirloom quality. The conflicts of the fiction are our own problems (thus zombies). Our culture feels in decline. We are aware our good fortune is due to the misfortune of others. Etc. The single mother factory worker losing her job is applicable because that is our world. The child mangling his fingers on a loom is a metaphor for a different culture than ours. It isn’t that it doesn’t happen. It just isn’t Steampunk because it isn’t about us.  Quite an erudite commentary, imo!

c) Mr. Douglas P. also commented (on the NPR blog)

– “Offensively ahistorical?” On what planet does he live? It’s SUPPOSED to be ahistorical! That’s the whole point. It’s fantasy, not history. If you want to dig down into the nitty-gritty disenfranchisement, dark exploitation, and mass class discrimination you can do so. That’s an historical point of view. Go for it.  But don’t try to criticize a fantasy for not being accurate. Is he going to criticize Artemis Fowl because fairies aren’t real? How about H. G. Wells because Martians don’t exist? Why doesn’t he go off on Pride and Prejudice because it’s a glorified indictment of an upper class that was built on the backs of slavery and indenturement?  There’s plenty of bad art to criticize in the world, but there’s no reason to criticize something you aren’t forced to participate in for not being what you want it to be.

d) And a special pithy statement thanks to Mr. Jason Sparks for his classic line, This is one of the worst thought out articles I’ve ever had the displeasure of stabbing my eyes with  I concur, sir.

Yet another hatchet job – courtesy from NPR this time!

There are other works which provide insightfully thought out debates on the Steampunk genre and are a pleasure to read, such as the thread titled The Fallacy of Steampunk as a Genre on the Dieselpunks.org website.  Certainly one of the better criticisms about Steampunk with constructive suggestions as well.

Its always a tad uncomfortable to read criticisms of something that you many enjoy, There are those persons (griefers) with Internet Bravado (or whatever term one might use), who are willing to antagonize a debate for lulz, props, or for whatever reasons.  However, if one is going to write for a nationally promulgated news source, at the very least, do your research.