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Category Archives: Tradition

Distracting the Steampunk!

From Dublin to Doolin, Chicago to Austin this Steampunk has seen some sights and not the least walking on the steps of Giants.

She has also succeeded in distracting herself from her website and writing.

Here are a few highlights:

Dublin

Fabulous people, fabulous food and new friends.  Dublin was magical.

Dublin Graffiti

Doolin

Fantastic traditional Irish music, great cider and fine ‘soft’ days along the Cliffs of Moher really set atmosphere.

Cliffs of Moher

Chicago

Busy, Bustling, Bombastic!

Chicago Traffic

Austin

West Coast meets Texas Hill Country. Funky fashion and home brewed mead.

Austin: The Time is Now

Giants Causeway

Fantastical, unbelievable and very wet.

Giants Causeway, Northern Ireland

While in Ireland we had front row seats to the St Patrick’s Day parade.  And I must admit that most of it was Steampunk! It nearly blew my mind!

That will be the next blog post so stay tuned!

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Irish Steampunk Steams Ahead!

Bella’s Steampunk Show is on!

Dublin Ireland will find itself host to Bella’s 3rd Steampunk Show at the Sugar Club this Saturday the 25th.

Dance, performance, comedy and burlesque will be on full display.

Professor Elemental http://www.professorelemental.com/fr_home.cfm

Bella A Go Go

Phil-t-gorgeous…and more…

There will be the:

The “Most Spectacular Spectacles Competition and…

The Best Invention Competition! (that’s just flippin’ awesome).

Hansen Writing Ball (a very real invention that Nietzsche used).

Vendors will also be peddling their gadgetry.

Crowzeye Steampunk Jewellery, Crafty Fox Fascinators and Naomi drawings to name a few.

The nitty gritty details…

Where:

The Sugar Club

8 Lwr. Leeson St. Dublin 2

+353 1 6787188

When: 8pm

How Much: EU20.00

For more info: http://www.thesugarclub.com/

If anyone had the honor of attending the event leave a comment and let us know who won the goggle and invention contest! 😀

 

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Steampunk: Dicken’s On The Strand

This weekend marks the 38th year that Galveston, TX has hosted Dicken’s On The Strand.  For

those who have not heard of it let me sum it up:

Victorian recreation of Galveston during it’s hey-day.  During the late Victorian era Galveston was the largest city in Texas and had very close ties to London.

This weekend hosts vendors, performers and…that’s right…Steampunk on the Strand.

There are many, many, many events for the family.  Dickens on The Strand is a lot of fun, even if the weather is dreary (as it currently is in Texas), and thankfully the ‘board-walks’ are covered.

A few of the events Dickens has to offer are:

Queens Parade

Dickens Costume Contest

Pinwicks Lantern Parade

Albert’s Whimsical Whisker Revue

Victorian Bed Races

Per usual the Airship Isabella will be there.  Last year their Airship and vendor booth took up nearly an entire lot (this event is very large).

Many, many, many Airships will be participating this year, more even than last.  I had the pleasure of going last year.  I remember the costumes as particularly stunning.  Truly I have not been to another Victorian event with such elaborate detail to Victorian period costuming.

If you are already taking part in the festivities leave a comment!!!

If you are also unable to make it here is a link to a live web-cam of the festivities!

http://www.galveston.com/strandcam/

Dicken’s Website:

http://www.galvestonhistory.org/Dickens_Overview.asp

Link to Dicken’s Events:

http://www.galvestonhistory.org/Dickens_Calendar.asp

 

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Steampunk: What lurks in the dark?

This past week photos were released of the abandoned subway in New York.  I

New York Subway

found the pictures on Huffington Post rather inspiring as a writer, so I wanted to share.

There was something reminiscent of Steampunk. The whole affair got my grey matter’s cogs turning.  Wouldn’t it be neat to see what other subterranean areas there are lurking beneath our heels?

If you are a fan of Steampunk fiction you are already aware that there is usually a tone of slight creepy abandonment that lies somewhere within most novels.  Thus abandoned subterranean exploration is making its début on The Top Hat Exchange.

New York Subway Tunnel

Apparently the world is riddled with underground abandonment, living tunnels, roads and workstations that look like they have jumped right out of the pages of epic Science Fiction.

I narrowed my results to the following:

Budapest, Hungary

Caves and tunnels run the gamut under Castle Hill.  Word is the

Budapest Tunnels

labyrinth dates back several centuries and it was created for military use.

Civilians used them for shelter during WWII.  Now tourists and visitors can visit the breath-taking tunnels.

If you are a glutton for the creepy you can take a flashlight tour  (I shudder to think how frightening that would be).

OR you can take a fully lit tour.  I would personally opt for this.  Hey, if I’m going to visit century old caverns I want to see what it is I’m paying for.

Now the next stop on the subterranean tour is for all you Gothic kids out there.

London, England

West Norwood Cemetery has tunnels full of coffins stuffed into crevices, man-made shelves, and simply laying out on the ground.  Exploring the deteriorating pine coffins and sturdy mahogany resting places of the dead might appeal to many out there, I think I will pass.

The spectre of ghosts and goblins still scare the wits out of this writer.

Moving on to the Magic Kingdom

Orlando, FL, USA

That is correct, the Magic Kingdom has a whole system of underground tunnels that their employees use.  Not only do Disney employees walk through the passages connecting kitchens, dining areas, and offices but the tunnels are large enough for motorized vehicles.

So as your little girl poses next to Cinderella for a Kodak moment, somewhere beneath your Birkenstocks lurks a truck creeping through the underground tunnels delivering  chicken the Disney cooks will prepare for your lunch or dinner.

Pembrokeshire, Wales

Real life Hobbit House anyone? Yes please.  This fantastical home has fresh

Welsh Hobbit Home

water running into it (by gravity only) from a nearby spring and all the materials are local.  The exception is the plumbing.  Recycled materials were saved from the bin for that…seriously.  I love this house and the minds that put it together from renewable and recyclable materials.

Tokyo, Japan

Japanese researcher Shun Akiba found an old map of the Tokyo tunnel system.

Japanese Spaces

The old map did not match the current maps.  As he researched further more and more inconsistencies were found.  It all points to hidden spaces underground.  Sounds like the beginning of a novel doesn’t it?  Well the Japanese government denies any hidden underground spaces.  But check out these pictures of acknowledged Japanese subterranean spaces.

Subterranean Japan

There are many, many more subterranean wonders around the world.  I could easily ramble on but I will refrain.

I mention these because I found these particular  wonders awe inspiring as an on-looker and as a writer.

Anything that sparks my imagination is (of course) interesting to me and deserves more research.

As much as I find all these wonders awe inspiring there is something almost suffocating about them.  C’mon it’s all underground! I could be buried alive!

If you would like to explore under the earth further please follow the links below for more eerie underground wonder.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/11/10/the-hidden-abandoned-city_n_781669.html#s179141

http://weburbanist.com/2007/10/15/7-more-underground-wonders-of-the-world-lost-caverns-and-cities/

http://weburbanist.com/2007/09/30/7-underground-wonders-of-the-world-labyrinths-crypts-and-catacombs/

All photos used are from the above websites.

 

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Steampunk: Why the Circus?

Cover of "The Circus and Victorian Societ...

Cover via Amazon

Why do Steampunk events generally spotlight circus acts?  If you have been to larger Steampunk events you might have seen jugglers, fire show acts, stilt walkers, contortionists and slight of hands.

The Victorian Era, which Steampunk is partly modeled after, was a fabulous time for circus performers.  The middle class had more free time on their hands in this Post Industrial Revolutionary period.  They also had more money in their pockets.   The circus was in higher demand due to the extra time and money,

The Circus developed from a simple fairground whimsy to an organized legitimate trade during this time because of aforesaid higher demand.  Amphitheaters and large tents now housed these traveling shows.  Entertainment began to not only encompass the theatre, but also these roving bands of circus entertainers with legitimate skills.

Artists had been banding together for over century before hand.  The idea of a circus was not wholly original just to the Victorian Era.  What changed was the breadth and the scope of these Victorian Circus acts.  They were traveling carnivals, trying hard for respectability in a world where class movement was a tight and awkward affair.

A big draw to these entertainers were the equestrians.  Most troupes worth their salt had an equestrian to draw in the masses.  Most Steampunk Events will not have horses to prance and perform daring feats of do, but for the Victorian Era it was their main draw…until the mid century.  Several fairgrounds were shut down by the powers that be.  They did not want riffraff coming into town.

Conversely, after the shutdown of these grounds a new wave of assembly halls, theaters, music halls, and amphitheaters were constructed, creating a new structure for the Circus.  This is when the number of Circus’s also began to rise, to meet demand.

The Circus was a place of entertainment and wonder for Victorians and their natural curiosity.  Curiosity was on the rise during this era.  Spurred on by the previous Enlightenment period, and scientific and social advances.  Notably, the expansion of the British Empire helped bring about healthy curiosity of the cultures under their protectorate.

During this time it was okay to be curious.  It was expected.  In previous era’s curiosity was abhorrent.  Plutarch thought curiosity was ‘vulgar’.

Victorians were different.  “Visual demonstrations acted as a great social leveler, uniting unskilled workers, working-class tradesmen and elites who were attracted to the circus ring and other democratic places.”

The Circus was so much more than just a place to gape and have fun.  The next time when you visit a Circus think of it as ‘a great social leveler’.  A step in the path of social equality.  Wow!  Who knew that the bearded lady was so much more than just her fabulously groomed ‘tache.

References from:

The Circus and Victorian Society

by Brenda Assael

 

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Steampunk: Christmas Humbuggery

Christmas is here!  Although if anyone is like me you will find yourself

Victorian Christmas Tree

occasionally bored, or feeling a bit of the humbuggery of it all.  To stave off these Scrooge-like tendencies I have listed some fun (or interesting) traditional Victorian activities that can easily be incorporated with a Steampunk theme.

Traditional Crafts:

Dough Ornaments:

You need: 3 cups of flour, 3/4 cup of salt, 3/4 teaspoon powdered alum, 1-1/4 cups waterMix all ingredients together (dough will be stiff).  Knead until smooth. Dust flour on rolling pin and roll dough on large board. Use cookie cutters for desired shapes.  Make a small hole in the top of cookie for hanging ornament. Bake and set until hardened.Now you can paint designs on them. When dry, insert ribbon, or string through hole and hang on tree for your viewing pleasure.

Pine Cone Trees

Take a pine cone and glue wide part to a cardboard (or otherwise sturdy) base. Then glue tiny beads and buttons on to its petals (glitter or sequins would also work). Create a star, paint in gold or whichever color you desire and glue to the top.  In the case of Steampunk, a fashionable top hat or cog would not go amiss as a pine cone topper.

Dresdens

Dresden

Dresdens are ornaments which appear “metal-like”, but are made of cardboard painted in metallic colors of silver, gold and copper.  Create a pattern of your choice or

http://logicmgmt.com/1876/xmas/patterns.htm

for very simplistic patterns for beginners or children.  Cookie cutters are also good for this purpose.  When the pattern is traced, cut it out and punch a small hole to thread ribbon through, then paint.

Sticky Popcorn

You need: 8 cups of popcorn (popped over the fire if possible) 1 stick of butter, 1 cup sugar, 1/4 cup corn syrup (a better health choice substitute to corn syrup is golden syrup)Mix sugar, butter and syrup in a bowl.  Heat to boiling.  Boil for two minutes and remove from heat and stir.  Pour over the popcorn and mix well, then enjoy (after letting it cool for a moment or two).

Now moving on to other fun alternatives to Christmas Eve boredom.

 
Traditional Parlour Games:

 

Lookabout

The host shows guests a knick-knack in the room.  All guests are to leave while the host hides it. When guest come back they look until they find it.  Then as each person finds it they sit back down.  The last one to sit loses (or has to be it).  The game becomes more difficult/fun when guests loiter about beore sitting back down.

You’re Never Fully Dressed without a Smile

One person is it.  They are the only one who is allowed to smile.  They can do anything to get the other guests to smile.  The person who never cracks a smile is declared the winner.  (Just think of all the ridiculous antics that could be involved!)

Blindman’s Bluff

Blindmans Bluff

One person is blindfolded, and all other guests scatter around the room. When the blindfoled person catches someone, they have to guess correctly who they are.  If they guess correctly, the blindfold then changes hands.  If not they continue until they are correct.

Change Seats!

This is a variation on a Victorian game, but a warning to those attempting this one, clear the room of precious little decorations, it can wild!  All but one person sits in a chair. The person in the middle asks someone in the circle “Do you love your neighbor?” The person selected then has to state either “No.” at which point the people in the chairs on each side of him/her have to change seats QUICKLY. If they aren’t quick enough, the person in the middle may slip into one of the vacated seats, making the unseated neighbor it. The chosen person may instead answer, “Yes, I love my neighbor, except those who (fill in the blank….are wearing blue, or have brown hair, or play tennis, etc) Everyone who fits the description (ie is wearing red for example) has to jump up and change seats, while the person in the middle tries to steal one. The person left standing has to ask another person if he/she loves his/her neighbor, beginning a new round.

Charades

A classic Victorian game with which most people are already quite familiar.

Pass the Slipper

Make a circle, pick a guest and put them in the middle (they are it).  Take an object, the “slipper.” They must close their eyes while the “slipper” is passed from person to person behind their backs. When the ‘it’ guests opens his/her eyes, the slipper stops and he/she must guess who holds the “slipper.” If he/she is correct, they trade places. If wrong, they close their eyes and passing begins again.ForfeitsChoose one person to leave the room, the ‘actioneer’.  The other guests must “forfeit” a special item that belongs to them.  All items are placed in the center of the room and then the auctioneer is brought back in. He/she picks up an item and tries to describe it as one would an item about to be sold.  In order not to forfeit the item, the owner must confess to owning it and do something amusing/embarrassing to win back the item (sing, dance, do an imitation, recitation, a joke, etc.)

I’m Thinking of Something

One person picks something and commits it to memory (Airships, tophat, an item in the room). They do not tell what this item is but they say, for example, “I’m thinking of something large.” The guests are then allowed to ask yes or no questions. “Is it a building?” “No” “Is it an animal” “No.” “Is it a vehicle?” “Yes.” “Is it on the ground?” “No” and so on until one person guesses the item correctly.  If the person guesses incorrectly the game still ends and the wrong person must chose a new somtething.  Players should never guess until they are completely sure they know the answer.

Now that your head if spinning from the different parlour game choices one more classic Victorian tradition that cannot be overlooked…

Caroling. (My personal favorite.)

Carolers

Traditional Victorian Carols with Lyrics and music samples can be found here:

http://www.carols.org.uk/

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from your friendly Scrooge.

 

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