Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Great New Book / Possible Steampunk Elements???

Hey everyone! I know it's not EXACTLY steampunk in nature, but thought I would pass along this exciting book I am currently reading (almost done too!) It's called Dracula in Love by Karen Essex. I know we all know the the Dracula story, but this one is different, told entirely from Mina's point of view. Other than just the social/ sexist opinions of the men of the time, the book also focuses on the philosophy (much is given to the theory of Darwin) and also medical practices of the time. Karen Essex has definately done her research on all of these topics and knows them like the back of her hand. Most interestingly there is a full description of a Water Treatment used in Asylums during the time - I've always thought fact is greater than fiction in most cases - we as Steampunk enthusiasts come up with crazy ideas - but real gadgets and medical equipment were wicked and crazy, possibly even more so than our imaginations!

I've only had the book a few days and couldn't put it down! Just a few more pages to go, please, if you like the dark side of things, check it out: http://ugbclub.go2jump.org/SHg

Also, let me know if anyone has info on more crazy Asylum contraptions??? Miss Essex has peaked my curiosity of all the creepy stuff used to "help" people back then!

Savannah Midnight

Monday, June 28, 2010

Low Class Steampunks

My family members have never been rich landowners; the land they had they tilled themselves.

This is pertinent because lately I’ve been going through my late grandfather’s shed, and his tools. Amongst the modern tools, the power drills, the leaf blowers, I’ll come across a rusted hammer or some tool that I have no clue what it is supposed to do. Or I’ll move a shelf and find a posthole digger. Tools of a bygone age that were passed down from father to son for years, but stopped when the last patron’s sons took white collar jobs and bought modern tools to keep in clean and organized plastic toolboxes.

And it got me to thinking about what the lower class of southern steampunks would be like. Something tells me they’d be a lot like my ancestors: overall wearing, sweating, and swearing farmers and railroad workers. They’d be laying the brick next to their clockwork counterparts to construct the new dirigible hangar. Their moonshine distilleries might be prettier, but what they make could still make you blind. The women would be right out there in the fields next to their husbands, brothers, and sons, their skirts smudged with dirt instead of the grease so many of us imagine.

So, as southern steampunks who pride ourselves on our chivalry and hospitality, how do we take this other aspect and work it into how we define ourselves? How so we acknowledge the banjo playing, moonshine drinking, people who live off the land instead of bringing home a paycheck from a factory, or pirating the skies?

Or maybe I’m wrong. Maybe there’d be clockwork, steam powered farm hands that make this class of people unnecessary.

But I know that this question has been plaguing my mind for a while. Now that I am living near my family, and am confronted with where I came from on an almost daily basis, I wonder how this will change how I define being a southern steampunk. There is one thing that will not change: the southern pride; we might not have the fancy bustles, the big house, or the shiny toys, but we are just as proud a bunch as our pretty cousins.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Steamy Southern Summer Wear...Hats!

Hello everyone,

Several things have caused me to start thinking more about my steampunk clothing choices, including the sweltering conditions both inside and outside the convention space at Project A-Kon, Mr. Taineous's contributions regarding hats during one of the panels there, and the recent post by Joie-Elise, "Summer and the Southern Steampunk's Wardrobe."

Today, specifically, I wish to discuss hats. I am in the process of constructing a new dress for hot weather, but the hat is causing me to, er, perspire, and I haven't even started on it, let alone, put it on!

With my dress at A-Kon I wore a very small open-weave straw hat that seemed to allow air flow, but the form I have in mind for the new hat is made of thin felt of some unknown fiber, almost certainly polyester. Even though it will cover only a small amount of my head, I am afraid that it will be unbearably hot, so here is the solution I am considering...

Make a plaster mold of the outside of the hat, then use that to make a new hat-form out of a stiffened loosely woven fabric or mesh, using a paper-mache technique. I don't know if this will work. Do any of you fine folks have experience with hatmaking? Do you consider temperature when choosing a hat? Do you just go without?

I really would like to see more discussion on dealing with hot weather and how it affects us all in the South.

Yours Sincerely,
Leslie F. Lynch

Thursday, June 17, 2010

An Introduction and a Topic for Discussion

To all of you fine Southerners and to all of you visiting this fair and esteemed collection of writings from our local community south of the Mason-Dixon, welcome.

I had been asked to contribute to this aetheric periodical and add my thoughts to those of my peers. Though I must admit, with no small degree of humility, that I feel privileged to be considered among such wonderful company. First, an introduction:

I am Doctor Q, a morally ambiguous musical arranger (an MP3-J or DJ if you like), as well as a master of ceremonies for hire. I have inflicted my musical taste on the general public at the many successful Mechanical Masquerades here in Terminus, as well as at other assorted and sundry locales, most notable of which is at the great gathering of gaslamp and gear enthusiasts known as AnachroCon. While born a Yankee, I have travelled a good bit up and down the east coast states for prolonged periods of time and now called the South my home for some time now, and I find the place suits me – well Terminus in specific. It’s fast paced enough to provide for my needs, while retaining just enough of that southern charm to not be too stressful.

As an adopted Southerner, I have a few unique views on how the South has interpreted the Steampunk subculture. First, I had never truly understood the term “Southern Hospitality” until I finally took the plunge and began actually socializing at the conventions and such with my fellow retro-futurists. This community has among them the kindest, warmest, and most welcoming people among their number as nothing I have ever been a part of before, and it is this welcoming, inclusive spirit that I do all I can to foster, while at the same time not appear too soft, as I am after all a card carrying member of a number of nefarious science organizations.

Most notably, I find that those of us who mingle in these circles have many amazing ideas as well as a variety of opinions on what is or is not Steampunk, whether rules should be considered or rejected on its face, whether the genre is open to all forms of expression or not, and a host of other topics.

As one who specializes in musical selection – and graphic novels, but that is a post for another time – I can say only that what impresses me about Southern Steampunks is that we have always been a stubborn and opinionated lot, but for the most part we welcome all new ideas and can debate our own views with respect, candor, and intellectual grace that makes me proud to consider myself among such a great number of fine ladies and gentlemen. And in the end, this sharing of ideas and thoughts is just the start. I know that almost all of us have no problems sharing more: how our costumes were made, how to make it yourself, where to go to get the hard to find parts you need, access to workshops, etc. We’ve shared our style, our art, and in my own case what I consider to be the musical stylings found all over the world with those that come and spend time with one of us or all of us. We have conventions, gatherings, meet-ups, and social salons that have allowed us a level of community that I think is unique to this area, and one that should be fostered, nurtured and grown.

So when I gave a long, hard thought as to what I could share with the community via written words as opposed to musical arrangements, it took me some time to decide what to do. And I have arrived at the conclusion that for now, I would like to offer up some ideas to you all and see what it is the community would like to discuss. Maybe moderate, maybe put my own thoughts in, but overall I think the free and open exchange of ideas is paramount. So let’s get to it.

We have thus far in this blog heard from a number of luminaries as to what they feel is or is not Steampunk. There is the camp that feels that the Neo-Victorian influence is essential, while others take a more inclusive all-are-welcome approach. There are those feeling that a need for historical anachronism in way or another is crucial, that some manner of do-it-yourself craft is needed, while others are content with simply slapping goggles on their head and wearing things they got at Hot Topic. I make no judgments on any of it, I simply ask that you take some time, and share with us what you think it is or is not.

And to that end, I’ll even throw in a bonus thought for comment: I have a distaste for the word Steampunk. It’s true. I can – and likely will – write a long post here on its history, where it came from, and why I think it is nowhere near the best word to really encapsulate the subculture as I see it, but it is too late, as the word’s gotten too much traction to stop. So I use it begrudgingly. So if you see me use words like Retro-Futurist, Anachronist, Neo-Victorian, or Gearhead – just know it’s because I find them to be more appropriate for the topic and use them generally interchangeably. Your thoughts? Like the word just fine or do you prefer another?

Please comment and share and I promise to toss in my two pence here and there.

Thank you for your time and stay tuned for further installments.
~Doctor Q

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A Southern Beginning

I received the honor of being invited to contribute to this blog last week, and have been pondering what exactly to contribute. My mind not being one for focusing on one project for long tends to throw topics at me faster than I can handle them. I suppose that I’ll just start from the beginning.

I am at once a born and transplant Southerner. My parents grew up in North Western Arkansas, with my dad’s family hailing from Tennessee and my mom’s family from Alabama. But I was born in Kentuckey, and lived a military lifestyle of moving every handful of years. But, my first real run in with Steampunk was in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Shortly after I discovered Steampunk, I was hired on as a wardrobe girl for a traveling show, and got to see the influence of Steampunk all over the Americas. And it is far reaching: from peddlers on the sidewalks of Buenos Aires selling goggles and insects sculpted from brass and glass, to watching a couple of airship pirates rock out in a bar in Vancouver, Canada.

Everyone I met was very nice, very fun, and dressed in lovely clothes. But nothing in my travels ever really outshone the times I had at the Clockwork Balls hosted by the Clockwork Cabaret in Chapel Hill.

I like to think it’s because, as William said in his first post, we thrive on the elegance, chivalry, grace, and manners. But we are still just as grease and dirt covered as our Northern cousins. We just hide it with gloves and a good hat. Our cage crinolines might be a tad impractical, but I promise you that you’ll find a good number of wrenches, modified pocket watches, and no few firearms and pretty knives hidden under those skirts. Y’know, just in case.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Brainstorming

After a very long weekend of doing what actors do...eh...er...not waiting tables or procrastinating...I mean to say is ACTING...is what actors do best...I have had some time to think about things, and nothing...and just let my mind wander.

In light of the horrific blemish to my arm this weekend, violence seemed to spring to mind. Topic of conversation perhaps? - Steampunk Tanks and Militia Equipment.

One of our members, Adam, is a militia based character - he's the guy with the cannons on his shoulders.

There of course are sky pirates everywhere, and rogues etc...in our steampunks worlds, but where are the "good guys" - the LAW?? Clearly even in a post apocolyptic (or post-POST apocolyptic) society, there have to be two sides to every coin. I have seen only a handful of steampunk militia - in the sense that we know it today (a group of fighters with a clear leader sporting their colors and weapons) who are on the side of good and not rag tag pirates and the like. What kinds of weapons would they have? shoulder cannons?? and what kinds of vehicles? They would need something faster than airships and possibly smaller to surround...steampunk tanks? steampunk like speed boats? steampunk gliders?


Just had it pass through this crazy brain of mine...any thoughts world??

Good night for now,
Savannah Midnight

Happy International Steampunk Day!

Steampunk Lincoln has been overdone.  I offer you Steampunk Teddy Roosevelt for your consideration.

Have a happy International Steampunk Day!