Steampunk: A tale of ceaseless wonder!

Steampunk: A tale of ceaseless wonder!

Steampunk Darth Vader

In addition to this awesome Steampunk World’s Fair Darth Vader by Babs Who Takes Pictures, you’ll find some great music in this article!

“Tale of Wonder!” 

If you like Steampunk music, you might enjoy this!  This is the opening song to what was, at the time, perhaps the world’s first Rock Opera (It’s either that, or Paul Shaper’s Dolls of New Albion, which is available for free listening at that link there.)  You can hear a brilliant version by Shakira S, who recently played the role in the show’s revival at this past Steampunk World’s Fair.  Here’s Shakira’s version of “Tale of Wonder” – and the lyrics are below.

This is a tale of wonder,
Worlds asunder
Games the Gods
Play with men

Darkling calling
Thoughts appalling
One who fell, falling again

Hope and cunning
Actions stunning
Heroic souls, and pure

Recriminations,
Explanations
Which thoroughly fail to reassure

Of dark ambition
Sweet perdition
And doom to avert

Villains sneering
Heroes nearing
Full exhaustion – yet alert

Moral peril
Humans feral
With the aftertaste of sin

Soul-benders
Sweet surrenders
Tingling on your tongue and skin

Intoxication
Degradation
And an opiate most dear

Ancient menace
Meets modern chemist
In a place of cog and gear!

New age borning
Rose-and-thorning
New chances and new fears

Must now guide it
Get inside it!
Do it right, or fail for years!

Science learning,
Coal a-burning
Future’s turning sweet and bright;

Science dreaming –
Smoking, steaming
And a mind oddly alight

So our offer’s
Deep-filled coffers
Full of adventure high

Draw you nearer!
See it clearer!
Whatever’s coming –
It is nigh!

~Jeff Mach

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Jeff Mach runs Jeff Mach Events, which in turn runs the world’s largest Steampunk event, The Steampunk World’s Fair; the peculiar Faerie festival Glimmerdark, and co-runs Dark Side Of The Con (with VampireFreaks).  He’s on Twitter @steamworldsfair.

 

Tips on attending your first Steampunk events

Tips on attending your first Steampunk events

Photos © 2010 - 2016 Babette Daniels Photography Purchase your copy of this image at http://www.babetted.com/Events/Steampunk/SPWF2016

“A Full Head Of Tea” – by Babs Who Takes Pictures

Steampunk is unlike any other genre in that no single voice or authority gets to make the rules.  That gives you tremendous freedom.  There was a brief time when some Steampunks thought you had to be fancy and standoffish.  That was years ago, and those people pretty much all stopped hanging out with us.  Now, you can just come and have fun!

Here are some bits of things I’ve learned after seven years of running the world’s largest Steampunk event:

  1.  Don’t worry about dressing up too much – unless you want to!  Steampunk is, above all things, friendly, welcoming, and accepting.  While most people enjoy wearing more Steampunish gear or garb, you aren’t required to (unless it’s a formal ball or something, but personally, I’ve never attended a Steampunk event with a dress code, and I don’t think I’d want to.)  And it’s okay if you make your own, if it’s not professional, if it’s simple.  It’s also okay if you got it at Hot Topic.  We love to admire what you wear, but we care a LOT more about YOU than about what you wear.
  2. Be friendly!  That doesn’t mean you have to be super social – it’s fine to be shy.  But in Steampunk, everyone, from the biggest names down to the newest fans, is an equal.  We hang out, we drink tea together, we have good times.
  3. Do patronize Steampunk artists and creators, if you can afford it.  I can’t think of anyone who makes a ton of cash doing Steampunk; we do it because we love it.  Help encourage more Steampunk creation – if you choose to spend money on stuff, consider buying it from people who make Steampunk art, clothing, music, gadgets, or entertainment.
  4. Bigotry, hatred, and intolerance were normal in the actual Victorian era.  They have NO place in Steampunk.
  5. If you like Steampunk, invite a friend to try it.  Remember, Steampunk is NOT some tiny secret club which is only fun because nobody knows about it.  Due to the massive scope of Steampunk as a cultural force, it’s an entire world.  More people just means that we discover new things about Steampunk every single day!  Just follow Steampunk Tendencies, or check out just a few of the Steampunk bands out there, and you’ll see what I mean.
  6. Steampunk is like anything else – what you get out of it depends on what you get into it.  Come in with an open mind and heart, ready to have a good time and try new things, and you’re in for an incredible locomotive ride!

    ~Jeff Mach

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    Jeff Mach runs Jeff Mach Events, which in turn runs the world’s largest Steampunk event, The Steampunk World’s Fair; the peculiar Faerie festival Glimmerdark, and co-runs Dark Side Of The Con (with VampireFreaks).  He’s on Twitter @steamworldsfair.

How A Steampunk Might Make Tea

How A Steampunk Might Make Tea

Young woman posing as magnificent card queen from wonderland at mystic tea-party

“After a fairly shaky start to the day, Arthur’s mind was beginning to reassemble itself from the shell-shocked fragments the previous day had left him with.

He had found a Nutri-Matic machine which had provided him with a plastic cup filled with a liquid that was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea.

The way it functioned was very interesting. When the Drink button was pressed it made an instant but highly detailed examination of the subject’s taste buds, a spectroscopic analysis of the subject’s metabolism and then sent tiny experimental signals down the neural pathways to the taste centers of the subject’s brain to see what was likely to go down well. However, no one knew quite why it did this because it invariably delivered a cupful of liquid that was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea.”

Douglas Adams

How To Make Steampunk Tea:

  1.  Try to boil water.
  2.  Realize that it’s the 19th century and the water isn’t safe, even if you boil it.
  3. Time-travel to the 21st century.
  4. Realize that most tea comes in little teabags.
  5. Cry forever.

~Jeff Mach

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Jeff Mach runs Jeff Mach Events, which in turn runs the world’s largest Steampunk event, The Steampunk World’s Fair; the peculiar Faerie festival Glimmerdark, and co-runs Dark Side Of The Con (with VampireFreaks).  He’s on Twitter @steamworldsfair.

Should events take sides in consent/harassment issues?

Should events take sides in consent/harassment issues?

What kind of Steampunk world do we want?

“The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.”
-Dante Alighieri

Note: This is very much not directed at any particular group or organization. And I know – trust me, I know – a thousand counter-arguments to what I’m saying. I know them because we’ve debated them ourselves, for years. So I’m not telling anyone what to do, or telling them that they’re wrong. But I’m telling them what is right or wrong for me. In short:

I can, and do, speak only for myself, and for Jeff Mach Events. I wouldn’t presume to tell other event organizers what to do, but I’ll tell you what we do:

Whenever possible, we make a damn decision, and we act on it.

Do we act perfectly? Friend, I’m not even necessarily sure if we act well. I think we do. We work hard to do so. But realistically, we’re dealing things with which the criminal justice system is, at best, unequipped to handle – and at worst, downright shitty. We have tremendously varied levels of information. We have an incredible (and unfortunate) variety of situations. It’s really hard to make the “right” decision, assuming that such a thing even exists.

Can I admit something? We don’t ban a ton of people. But we’ve banned enough people that my heart’s broken over it – because I love this world, and I love this community, and even if we were hugely wrong, even if 75% of our bans were unjust (and, sadly, I don’t believe that’s the case) – the other 25% would still make me feel sick. The other day, I found out that someone I like and trust did a major fucked up thing, and my response was just to break out in tears in the middle of a crowded restaurant.

I’d like to get away from it, just take a few months and say, “Okay, other people on the team should judge these bans”. But I’m not going to. My name is on these events, and every ban is a serious and major thing. I can get help – I have wonderful help; I’m not necessarily the main decision maker in these cases – but I can’t abandon it.

And I’m lucky, of course – my major experience with consent violations is trying to assess them. I have not had my consent violated in decades. My role is the easy one.

Are our systems perfect? Far from it. Do we know the best way to do these things? No-one I’ve run into does. Are these things necessary for us? Yes, they are.

We are not a volunteer-run organization. We don’t elect our officials. Jeff Mach events is owned by a person named Jeff Mach, and he is responsible for the consequences of this company’s actions…or inactions. I do this for a living; I pay my own salary, and that of my employees, by running events. If we, as people who organize actual events, who create spaces for the community to interact and do so to earn our daily bread – if we refuse to interact with the problems in the scene, then who will?

~Jeff Mach

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Jeff Mach runs Jeff Mach Events, which in turn runs the world’s largest Steampunk event, The Steampunk World’s Fair; the peculiar Faerie festival Glimmerdark, and co-runs Dark Side Of The Con (with VampireFreaks).  He’s on Twitter @steamworldsfair.

A Terrible Confession regarding Tea

A Terrible Confession regarding Tea

Dark secret for those who read the alt text: The stock photo gallery actually says that this is a person drinking coffee, not tea. Don't tell!

“America’s new tea lovers are the people who have forced the tea trade to wake up. Elsewhere, tea has meant a certain way, a certain tradition, for centuries, but this is America! The American tea lover is heir to all the world’s tea drinking traditions, from Japanese tea ceremonies to Russian samovars to English scones in the afternoon. India chai, China green, you name it and we can claim it and make it ours. And that’s just what we are doing. In this respect, ours is the most innovative and exciting tea scene anywhere.”
~James Norwood Pratt

Erm.  I’m not quite sure how to say this.

I don’t really like tea that much.

I’m sorry!  I realize that it’s one of the cardinal sins in Steampunk.  But it’s true.

Recently, I was driving with a friend, and she said, “And what kind of tea do you like?”

“Sugar,” I replied.

“I beg your pardon?” she said.

“Sugar.  I take tea pretty much as an excuse to put as much sugar into my mouth at one time as humanly possible.  There is literally no limit to the amount of sugar I will put in tea.  You could fill the entire mug with sugar and drop a tea leaf on top, and I would consume it.”

“Stop!”

“It’s true. When I’m at restaurants, if, for some reason, I’m drinking loathsome tea, instead of the Universe’s perfect food, coffee, I will put in as many packets of sugar as I feel I can without actively offending the other people at the table.  Sometimes, I’ll wait for them to look away so I can put more sugar in.”

“No, seriously,” she said, “I’d love to make you some lovely lovely tea.  What do you prefer? Floral notes? Bright, with a clean finish?  Smooth?  Full?”

“I literally have no idea what those terms mean in this context.  I am going to assume you’re making these things up.”

She looked as though she was considering smacking me, and I presume she didn’t do so because I was driving.  She opened her mouth, but nothing came out.

“You know when I was with my husband in China?  We went to a venerable tea house where I had a tea from a tea plant which had literally flowered for 2,000 years in an unbroken lineage.  It tasted like green muck.”

At this point, she began beating me about the head and neck with her parasol, and that’s when I crashed my TARDIS into 1827.

~Jeff Mach

(Tea terms stolen from the Stash Tea educational blog.)

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Jeff Mach runs Jeff Mach Events, which in turn runs the world’s largest Steampunk event, The Steampunk World’s Fair; the peculiar Faerie festival Glimmerdark, and co-runs Dark Side Of The Con (with VampireFreaks).  He’s on Twitter @steamworldsfair.

How do you run a good event?

How do you run a good event?

Steampunk woman with goggles.As someone who’s been in the event business for twenty years, I often get asked, “How do you run a good event?” I have six rules – and I’ll share them with you.

1. Die. Die every time you realize you’ve made a mistake you could have prevented. Die every time someone is sad and the event hasn’t cheered them up. Die every time you ask more of a member of your team than you rightly should.

2. Be reborn. Every time someone says they’re having the weekend of their life, every time someone says they’ve found new parts of themselves, every time someone comes to say, “I met someone at your event two years ago – and now we’re getting married!”

3. Care. Every mistake matters. Every problem matters. Every piece of feedback matters. Every good thing and every bad thing matters.

4. Have perspective. Because everything matters – but the event as a whole matters more than any individual mistake, criticism, or praises.

5. If your mind and body permit, work your ass off. Not simply to be a workaholic. And not because a well-run event needs you to kill yourself to make it go – in fact, a well-run event shouldn’t need that at all. But you work your ass off for this:

An event should be a total sensory experience for everyone there. That means you, too. And since you already know what’s going to happen, and don’t have the luxury of being just a participant, be the next best thing: throw your mind, body, and soul into what you do.

6. Practice joy. This is the newest one for me. I used to believe that my job was to create joy in others, but to push myself too hard to enjoy anything. I thought that made a good event – and you know what? When I was inexperienced and events were full of chaos, it was needed. But now that my events run well, it’s not needed. I need, instead, to project through myself want I want to see in everyone: that glorious feeling of running amok with a thousands of your closest family, your chosen family, your kin.

I am the luckiest person in the world, and I have the best job in the Universe. I thank you all. And I love you all.

~Jeff Mach

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Jeff Mach runs Jeff Mach Events, which in turn runs the world’s largest Steampunk event, The Steampunk World’s Fair; the peculiar Faerie festival Glimmerdark, and co-runs Dark Side Of The Con (with VampireFreaks).  He’s on Twitter @steamworldsfair.