Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Joffery Ballet's performacne of the Rites of Spring in 1987
As I was driving home, I happened upon an interview about the release of Grand Theft Auto 4, in which the interviewer asked the game designer about the controversy surrounding the series. He, interestingly enough, mentioned another media event that was released during what might be considered the "Late Steampunk" (or "Edwardian") era, namely Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring" (subtitled: "Pictures from Pagan Russia").
The New York Met Opera performance in 2003
Now, I'm not one to be critical of stage plays, but from accounts of the era, it was considered "Bizarre", "Disjointed", and "Obscene", due to its "strange gyrations" by its dancers and "physically shocking choreography". So controversial, it garnered catcalls and boos from its audience, eventually leading to fistfights and a riot that required the Paris police to intervene and subdue the attendees!
Interestingly enough, portions of this performance was used in Disney's "Fantasia", a unique evolution from turn of the century controversy to family fare. (I perish the thought of how GTA4 will be re-interpreted years from now)!
For more details about this, please visit the reference sites:
Sunday, April 27, 2008
Map of the Paris Metro Pnumatic Postal system
As I wandered around the the ethernet, I discovered that Paris, Prague, and Berlin both had a pnumatic postal system at the turn of the century. Found it to be a fascinating system, and had to smile at the thought of mail arriving at one's domicile via a tube. For more regarding pnumatic postal systems, please visit:
Example of the tubes used in Paris
Saturday, April 26, 2008
A trailer for a Steampunk series starting the 8th of May, apparently Wormwood will have at least nine episodes, as this group of dilligent kinetoscope makers mentioned on their blog.
For further details, and a snipet of their longer trailer, please visit:
and their main intro site:
Friday, April 25, 2008
Jake Von Slatt's newest desktop (posted Wednesday, 23rd of April)
Came across "Steampunk Fashion" while researching another steampunk topic. This site has grown quite deep since last year, and is impressive, as there is a wealth of artwork, discussions, RL events (including the Dances of Vice "Dark Victorian" tribute night to the 3 Penny Opera in New York, April 26th, at the Montauk Club - for all ages).
Model used for the "Retroscope" webstore (for the ladies, of course)...
The site is certainly worth a visit and spend some time being inspired! To do so, please visit the following link for more:
The pocket watch of my dreams... The Patek Philippe Cablire 89, with 1728 separate parts!
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Mlle Blanc-Sec travelling into another adventure
While doing research, I came across a previously unknown French adventuress, by the name of "Adele Blanc-Sec". Originally published in France in 1976, it..." introduced the title character: a young Parisian writer who is not afraid to drink, shoot guns, smoke, or shoot like a man." (Sounds like most of the ladies in New Babbage (lol)!)
Fending off a "flying lizard" on the rooftops of Paris!
Still, at the risk of doing an injustice to the description (and French translation), I've included a number of links for further investigations of this representative of French Steampunk
(the above site is in French, but is quite detailed)
An adventure involving a mysterious tenticled entity (hmmmm....)
Classic photo of Houdini his his trademark chain ensamble
Born 1874, Died 1926
Age 49, 5’5", 160 lbs. A fit man with blue eyes and black, graying wavy hair, dressed in fine clothes (wrinkled if not performing), or swimwear for some escapes.
Advantages: Breath Holding, Charisma, Collected, Extra Arms ("legless" when in use; clumsy and lack opposable thumbs), Filthy Rich, Fit, Manual Dexterity, Reputation (Celebrity); Temperature Tolerance
Disadvantages: Broad-minded, Claustrophobia (Mild – only when no method of escape), Compulsive Generosity, Fanaticism (to himself), Intolerance (Charlatans), Motion Sickness (seasickness only), Reputation (a threat, to spiritualists), Secret (Techniques), Self-centered, Workaholic
Quirks: Avid collector and boxing fan, destroy photos of people he’s angry with, Health nut (but loves sweets), Mildly dyslexic, slovenly
Photo of a young Houdini and assistant
This is Houdini around the time of his first attack on fraudulent mediums. His skills cover knowledge of tricks and illusions, including both Western and Indian magic; Performance/Rituals covers the holding of seances. His "extra arms" are his feet, which he has trained to perform simple tasks. His secret reflects the fact that if the public knew how he did his tricks, he would lose audiences and be inconvenienced.
Harry Houdidi was born Ehrich Weiss to a poor Jewish family in Hungary (not, as he later claimed, Wisconsin). When they traveled to America, Ehrich quickly showed a penchant for trickery and performance. In 1891, he read the memoirs of Robert-Houdin, a French magician; he and a fellow factory worker formed "The Brothers Houdini". His brother Theodore replaced his partner, and the two traveled the Midwest. Harry eventually went solo at a dime museum, where he met his wife Bess in 1894. The couple toured, performing whatever shows would bring in money; at one point, he posed as a medium, but the faith of his patrons frightened him. Houdini discovered a talent for escape artistry, often challenging local police departments to try and keep him locked up.
European Advertisement for Houdini's world tour
In 1899, Houdini went into vaudeville, soon dominating the theatres. He traveled to Europe in 1900, and became a sensation, constantly developing new illusions and escapes. IN 1905, he began a world tour, spending most of his time in Europe or the U.S.A., where he had a residence in New York. He developed a brief obsession with aviation in 1909-1910, becoming the first man to fly a plane in Australia.
Photos of Houdini flying in Australia
In 1913, Houdini channeled his energy into motion pictures, writing, and his large library, without huge success in his new careers. When his mother died, he became interested in Spiritualism, and in 1922, he befriended Sir Author Conan Doyle, a staunch supporter of the movement. Doyle’s wife supposedly contacted Houdini’s mother, but he became disillusioned when the "spirit" spoke English, which his mother barely understood. In 1924, Houdini became spiritualism’s greatest foe, and began a crusade of exposing mediums as frauds.
Being lowered into the legendary "water torture" container
Houdini continued to tour, attacking spiritualism and performing his stage show. On October 22, 1926, a college student punched him in the stomach to test his reputed ability to withstand such blows, not realizing Houdini needed to be prepared. His appendix ruptured, but Houdini continued to push himself; he developed acute peritonitis, and died on Halloween.
Posing in a jail cell (prior to breaking out, I'd assume)
Houdini is charming, and most people like him at first. However, he is actually an egomanic who holds grudges. He prefers to be called an "escape artist" rather than a magician, and to be addressed by his adopted name. If asked he will gladly perform a few tricks (but dislikes Indian magic). His interest border on the macabre; he is fascinated by criminals, death, insanity, museums, and children (especially twins). He would be thrilled to encounter supernatural forces that he could not disprove, probably seeing them as a means of contacting his mother.
In spite of appearances, Houdini leaves little to chance. His shows are prepared (and skillfully publicized) in advance, even "challenges" often being scripted. He talks his way out of immediate dares, researches locations, and prepares (and sometimes plants) what he needs for a trick. His mentalists acts are researched using town records and gossip.
Meyer, Bernard C., MD: Houdini: A Mind in Chains
Silverman, Kenneth: Houdini!!!: The Career of Erich Weiss
Stoddard/Smithson, B. (1999) - Gurps Who's Who II, pg. 100-101, SJG:Austin
[edited for removal of game specific content]
Monday, April 21, 2008
Unknown to myself, there is a unique subset of individuals who indulge in the "Singing Tesla Coils", to the point that they actually go on tour (go figure)! A YouTube search provided about 10-15 items of said topic, but I think I've chosen one of the better (and briefer) productions. If you wish to see more about this topic, please visit:
or visit YouTube and search for "Singing Tesla Coils".
(The above was Filmed at the Greenmuse Cafe in Austin, TX. Joe DiPrima and Oliver Greaves demonstrate singing tesla coils.)
*Note to the Earl of Primbroke - my apologies, I inadvertently deleted your comment! If you wish to repost, please feel free to do so!
Sunday, April 20, 2008
While working to upgrade my extremely anemic photoshop skills, I happend upon the website of Ms. Echo Chernik, who is not only a fantastic artist, but is a veritible master of Art Nouveau. Additionally, she is using her skills as a commerical advert medium, promoting products and endevors, just as Mucha did when he first developed this stunning style.
Seeing this distinctive form revived made my week! I've included a few photos of his work, but to see the extensive library, please visit:
Saturday, April 19, 2008
Bessemer Converters in action across from the Rusty Cog, in Babbage Square
While walking around Babbage Square a few weeks back, I came across one of the more unique builds in New Babbage - a set of working Bessemer Converters. Often called "those things with molten metal", the Bessemer Converters was the first means to inexpensively mass-produce steel from molten pig-iron.
Imagary of a British Converter in the 1891, at Sparrow's Point, UK
The key principle is removal of impurities from the iron by oxidation through air being blown through the molten iron. The oxidation also raises the temperature of the iron mass and keeps it molten.
Another photo of the New Babbage Converters
As the process decreased the cost of, and increased speed and quantity of steel, this material became more common place during the latter half of the 19th century, allowing its use in more industrial works (e.g. bridges, buildings).
Artistic impression of a converter at Longwy Steelworks, France
By the mid 20th century, it was replace by the Linz-Donawitz process, which allowed better control of composition of the forming metal.
Converter in use in Workington, UK
However, steampunk in almost every aspect (including the iconic "cog"), depends on metals (including the processes that produce them), and not everything is copper and brass (lol)! So after conducting a bit of research on them, I can actually use my "Thurston Howell, III" voice when asked about it...."I say, it a set of Bessemer Converters, old chap!
and yes, they can even be topiary!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bessemer_process (for the bulk of the article)
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Coat of arms of the Nadria Colony
Located a unique website whilst I was working on my own photoshop efforts... The lost colony of Nadria, Antartica, has been relocated and is producing its own coin, available to the general populace!
One Nadrian Dollar - a museum piece of the lost colony
These unique funds are further explained in the history of Nadria, which started by Samual and Constance Brundt and the founding of the Church of Spirtual Commerce, which led to a dramatic effort to produce a new colony ... and its aftermath.
For further information about the colony, its history, and its artefacts, please visit:
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Monday, April 14, 2008
From Dr. Frankenstein to Professor Moriarty, the Steampunk genere has had its share of .... misunderstood scientists. It might have seemed that the standard bearers of "pushing the envelope" of science have been lacking, until the emergence of Dr. Steel.
Classic steampunk photo (avec gear)
Inventor, mad scientist, and entertainer, Dr. Steel has emerged as a classic throw-back to the much missed category of inventive and misunderstood scientific professionals who wish to make the world a better place, usually through world domination. For a bit of background on the good doctor, here is an excerpt from his biography...
Quite small for his age, cursed with a childhood stutter and being an only child, the boy who would one day become Dr. Phineas Waldolf Steel spent much of his youth isolated. Being kept at a distance from the other children in the neighborhood he invested most of his time indoors creating his own worlds by drawing, animating stop motion films, building contraptions and making music.
Enrolled in a private school he excelled in his studies. It was in this strict environment that he learned the importance of dedicated work habits as well as the importance of keeping all independent thought hidden from authority. Growing ever more bored with his education as he entered into a public high school he yearned to be released into the “real world” so that he might begin a career in art. Upon graduating, however, he was swiftly rejected by art school. Due to the wide range of talents he displayed he was told that he had no focus. Ironically, it was only a year later that he found himself using those varied talents and working for the entertainment industry in the areas of character design, special effects, animation, video games and toys.
After years of working for the industry he became frustrated with the frequent lack of originality he encountered. As a result, he went into business for himself.Via the Internet he launched www.doctorsteel.com . It was through this medium that he was able to cohesively showcase his various talents to the world. Soon enough his artwork, music, performance, photography, design, and ideals began to strike a chord with a generation who, like himself, had grown tired of the existing, uninspired and manufactured world of modern entertainment.Since the launch of his website, Dr. Steel has been gaining awareness around the globe as citizens from all over the world enlist in his Army of Toy Soldiers. Upon enlisting, Toy Soldiers spread the word of his creations and ideology while embarking on various missions and continually building support for Dr. Steel.
As a published author he has presented his theories in magazines such as Paranoia; The Conspiracy Reader , as well as various online sources gaining interest and support from all corners of the globe.As a musician, his albums have united an eclectic fan base as diverse and varied as Dr. Steel's music itself. Bringing his music to life through the live Dr. Steel Show, the events allow his troops to amass in one location, enjoying a refreshing taste of ingenuity in a multi-media performance fusing live music, costumes, puppetry and video projection.
His vision for building a Utopian Playland stretches far and wide across the globe and is based on the simple ideology of making fun the top priority. With many already touting him as World Emperor, Dr. Steel's ever-growing army rallies to support his plans for a “world make over”.
Dr. Steel and his Army of Toy Soldiers march forth to extinguish fear from the minds of the people and to instill inspiration and creativity into the lives of each and every one of us.
Doctor Phineas Waldof Steel will someday rule the world.
His attempt at democratic change... probably better than the current crop of canidates!
His very well made website is at:
The musical genre might not be for everyone's taste, but the video interviews are certainly worth a viewing!
Sunday, April 13, 2008
The latest survey wrapped up a few days ago, and it may not be a surprise to many, but the legendary Jules Verne was named as the most influential writer in the genre by almost half (48%) of the respondents, followed by H.G. Wells with 26% of the vote. Mr. William Gibson and Mr. Bruce Sterling landed in third with 15%, with Mr. Samuel Clemens and Mrs. Mary Shelly receiving no votes (not even for Frankenstein, the seminal "mad scientist" novel - *sigh*!)
However, I failed to leave a spot for those who chose "other", which garnered 9% of the vote (5 responses). If you did respond as "other", or simply wish to make an observation, please feel to leave a notation as such - I'm quite interested in this category!
Again, as always, my thanks to the 52 individuals who answered for participating in this survey!
Saturday, April 12, 2008
On my out the door to run a few time-sensitive errands, but saw this small article, and thought I would be nice to post - a Steampunk / Starwars project. For more information, please see:
Friday, April 11, 2008
(Caledon Eyre) -Mr. T. Calagari of Thadovian LTD has produced a smart airship in the effort to support the Second Life Realy For Life. If you are seeking a means to support this noble effort, and have an interest in an airship, one can be obtained for the bargain sum of $L250. A worthwhile effort, and a means to travel Caledon (and additional sims) - a win/win situation!
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Arriving in Laputa, Stempunk Sky City
A bit ago during further explorations, I located an interesting Steampunk city, named Laputa, the sky city. Needless to say, I had to visit….
Taking a rest while I observe the astronomical display
And was suitably impressed with the unique angle taken by Mr. Crunch Underwood in his build. Aside from Caledon SkySteamCity, there are few Steampunk build that exist purposefully as an aero establishment (e.g. Sybirya).
Photograph of the grounds of Laputa
However, Laputa expands on this theme, existing as an open city encompassing the sky, with sidewalks that easily show the land far below it, and has floating rocky platforms, complete with benches for couples, and illumination for the evenings.
A personal skyship by the observeratory (to the north of the ship)
Please be forewarned, this is not only a new personal project of Mr. Underwood, but is still under construction. There are numerous aspects that still need polishing, but he is hard at work, addressing this minor issues.
Entrance to the Laputa Library
A standout aspect of Laputa is its library, which has an extensive collection of Victorian books (which one can read, if desired), and an excellent gallery, with the works of a variety of era artists on display.
Reading a classic (and apparently putting a "crick" in my neck!)
A miniscule portion of the artistic display on the second floor
Additionally, a brewery is located on the eastern side of the Sky City, with a large bar area, and the brewery in the "back".
Exterior to the Ten Bells, Laputa's watering hole
It appears that his intention is to attract more vendors of the Steampunk / Victorian genre to Laputa (as noted by the rental bots on the main street), but again, I’m not quite sure when it will be "officially" open, so if you are interested, please do contact him.
Copper tuns in the back of the brewery
A very unique and promising build, I am looking forward to the completion of Laputa in the near future.