Here is a Steampunk way of looking at love and loss:
Have you had your heart, not simply broken, but hurt so much you thought it was destroyed?
Good! Now you have Power. Like a lightning bolt through Dr. Frankenstein’s laboratory, you can activate something incredible.
You are a creator.
You have the power to re-make your heart.
You have the power to re-make your heart, and you don’t have to choose to make it out of rage and fear.
Make it into what you want to become. A clockwork man is not a parody of a human; it is animated potential, ready to try to be the best things a human can be. A clockwork heart can be built as you want. So want the things that will give you the possibilities you desire.
Remake your heart with joy.
Remake your heart with strength.
Remake your heart with force.
Remake your heart into an imdomitable, unending factory for creating a better life, a sweeter world, a better home for your mind, soul, and needs.
Remake your heart and become something stronger, better than anyone ever imagined.
And when you see that little smudge of red still pooled on the floor, just smile. That was the old you. That was the sad you. That was the you who was afraid.
You don’t need that you any more. You have a greater self to be.
Jeff Mach Events
I own a LOT of old science fiction books, almost all of them purchased ridiculously cheaply at library book sales, rummage sales, and used bookstores. I can stroll through my library (by which I mean: my tiny, grimoire-crammed apartment) and peruse the shelves forever; actually, that’s about the only thing I CAN do in this apartment, as all the space is occupied by tomes of every conceivable size) – and sometimes, I run across something I acquired before I really knew what Steampunk was, and I say, “GOOD HEAVENS! IT’S A LOST TREASURE OF STEAMPUNK!”
Which brings me to this new segment in my blog: “Neglected Steampunk Novels”. And today’s book is The Other Log Of Phileas Fogg, by Philip José Farmer.
This is a Wold Newton book; and that, in and of itself, is fascinating. Long before the Expanded Universe or other present world-spanning and genre-spending ideas, Wold Newton (a real-life fallen comet whose consequence, in this Universe, was to create extraordinary abilities in those near it) – was a genre about whose characters, Wikipedia asserts:
“As well as Tarzan and Doc Savage, both Lord Peter Wimsey and Sherlock Holmes are descendants of the original families. Other popular characters included by Farmer as members of the Wold Newton family are Solomon Kane; Captain Blood; The Scarlet Pimpernel; Sherlock Holmes’s nemesis Professor Moriarty; Phileas Fogg; The Time Traveller (main character of The Time Machine by H. G. Wells); Allan Quatermain; A. J. Raffles; Professor Challenger; Richard Hannay; Bulldog Drummond; the evil Fu Manchu and his adversary, Sir Denis Nayland Smith; G-8; The Shadow; Sam Spade; Doc Savage’s cousin Patricia Savage and one of his five assistants, Monk Mayfair; The Spider; Nero Wolfe; Mr. Moto; The Avenger; Philip Marlowe; James Bond; Lew Archer; Travis McGee; Monsieur Lecoq; and Arsène Lupin.”
I won’t go too far into the plot for “The Other Log”–but Phileas Fogg is a fascinating Steampunk character. In the original book, we know so little about him – he’s oddly wealthy, he has very specific habits, he has the aplomb of a stereotypical British Victorian gentleman, and he races ’round the world, theoretically in defense of the technological capabilities of modern life and on the odd theory that the world is predictable–and he essentially bets all of his means on doing so.
Philip José Farmer does something very Steampunk here: He sees a story which has, not exactly plot loopholes, but deep gaps in who and what and why, and he invents them. He builds hitherto unconsidered reasons for Fogg’s actions and movements, layers them perfectly with the original novel, and creates meaning out of what had been emptiness–essentially, thin air.
It’s a joy to watch, and a joy to read, and a thoroughly Steampunk tale. It’s a fascinating book, and well-worth inclusion in your own library (or, in my case, my “giant mountain of tomes”.
Stay tuned to this blog for more neglected Steampunk ideas, thoughts about Steampunk in general, humor, inspiration, and, of course, tea.
Or, if I’m honest, also for the lazy and the artistically-deficient. And by that, I mean dead simple, and still looks fantastic! I used to think that not everyone has the time, inclination, or (eh hem, like me) the talent to make jaw-dropping Steampunk desserts. Or maybe we do! Here’s a quick list of decoration tools and products you can get to turn that every-day cupcake into a clockwork cupcake masterpiece:
Gears, Cogs, & Clockwork
Gears are probably the most universally-recognized Steampunk shape, so we’ll start with those. The easiest way to make soft food items like fondant, cookie dough, and sandwich bread look like a gear is to use a cutter of some sort. I have a few you can take a peak at below:
||This cutter is 3D printed and technically made for fondant cutting, but works well for any soft food. They are made to order for a very good price and currently on sale at JB Cookie Cutters. They offer a couple styles of gears which you can see at the bottom of the page as well, and you can order them in whichever diameter you wish.
||Another great place to find cutters with Steampunk flare is Etsy! Just check out this one by TheCookieCutterLady, which has sharp edges and comes in a variety of sizes. (She also sells cutters in the shape of swords, plaques, and vintage keys, so check her store out!)
Edible paper (called wafer paper) is a great way to make your iced cookies and cakes look literally hand-painted and come in an incredible array of styles (including custom!) I’ve found a couple excellent examples for your next Steampunk tea party:
||Which of us could ever say “No!” to a Mad Hatter Tea Party? None, I dare say! These edible wafer paper designs are not just for children and come in 8.5 x 11″ sheets with 25 assorted images. They’re available from Fancy Flours, who also carries hundreds of other designs as well.
||Here comes Etsy to the rescue again! QueenofTartsWafers has a delightful array of edible art suitable for your splendiferous needs. The best part? They’re made with potato starch, water, vegetable oil, and food coloring, so they won’t taste strange, but they will certainly look it, in a good way!
Breaking the Mold
Feeling a bit more daring? Check out these extremely cost-effective and awesome-looking molds for icing, fondant, chocolate, and more! These mold kits are all available on Amazon from Anyana:
Those are some good basic design shapes, but what about that last touch of class you want? If you have a local crafting store, chances are they sell Wilton brand cake decorations, which can help you through that last mile to the delicious finish line! Just look at some of these:
Bronze Pearl Dust
Stick-n-Stay Scroll Stencils
Gold Color-Mist Icing Spray
Pearlized Silver & Black Sprinkle Mix
Edible Mustache Candies
And that, dear readers, should get you off and decorating on the right foot. Though, if you need inspiration, I highly suggest you check out the Steam Cakes Steampunk Collaboration gallery on Facebook – some of the pieces there are truly awe-inspiring and incredible to behold.
~ A guest blog by Evalynn
The holidays, as wonderful as they are, can also be, well…a bit challenging. Okay, maybe a lot challenging.
My normal remedy for handling the headaches, stress, and drama brought on by exceptionally busy days, loud in-laws, rampaging children, and endless renditions of Jingle Bells is usually to drink. A lot. However, that isn’t always feasible nor acceptable, so let me present to you an excellent alternative: the Holiday Chocolate Absinthe Bundt Cake (or Steambundt cake, if you will.) This is virtually guaranteed to be a crowd pleaser and help you get to the new year in one piece.
Chocolate Absinthe Bundt Cake
Recipe makes 1 9-inch bundt cake, assuming you don’t drink all the absinthe before you begin.
- An electric mixer, strong arms, or an unwitting volunteer with strong arms.
- One 9-inch bundt cake pan
- Wire cooling rack
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 2 cups sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1/2 cup absinthe
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup unsweetened cocoa
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground anise
- 1 cup hot water
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Beat the butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy. Gradually add sugar, continuing to beat well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until fully blended after each addition.
- Add the absinthe of your choice (if it’s not a brand you’d drink, don’t use it); beat until blended.
- Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and anise in a separate bowl and mix well to disperse ingredients.
- Add the dry ingredients from step 3 to the sugar mixture alternately with hot water, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed until blended after each addition. Mix in the extracts last.
- Pour batter into a greased and floured 9-inch Bundt cake pan.
- Bake at 300° for 60 minutes.
- Cool while in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan and cool completely on the wire rack.
If you’re like me and you like glaze on your cakes, here’s an excellent quick glaze to go on top of this cake:
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1 tablespoon absinthe
- 1/2 to 1 tablespoon water
- Zest of one lime
- Once the cake has cooled completely, whisk together the glaze ingredients above until smooth. Please note: Only use the lime zest in the glaze if you plan to eat the cake the same day it’s made.
- With the cake still on a wire rack, place it over a cookie sheet or other pan. Pour the glaze over the cake, letting it run down the sides. Scoop up the excess glaze that has fallen on the cookie sheet, and continue to pour it over the top of the cake. Make sure to get an even coating on every surface of the cake.
~ A guest post by Evalynn
“I’ve been making a list of the things they don’t teach you at school. They don’t teach you how to love somebody. They don’t teach you how to be famous. They don’t teach you how to be rich or how to be poor. They don’t teach you how to walk away from someone you don’t love any longer. They don’t teach you how to know what’s going on in someone else’s mind. They don’t teach you what to say to someone who’s dying. They don’t teach you anything worth knowing.”
― Neil Gaiman, “The Kindly Ones”
Steampunk: Exactly what the hell are we creating here, anyway?
I’m going to let you in on a huge secret here: Steampunk is imaginary. But just because it’s imaginary doesn’t mean that it’s not real.
Consider how odd our ideas of “reality” are. Does a locked door stop you from going through? Not if there’s an emergency fire axe. Does a door marked quote “authorized personnel only” keep you out? Not if you are authorized – or rude – or have a mission – or are fearless.
So many barriers are of the mind, not the physical world. Hell, even barriers of the physical world are overrated; ask the athlete or the survivor who “can’t go another step”–and then puts one foot in front of the other until they get there.
Steampunk is a product of thought, inspiration, dream, and spirit. Without those intangible things, it we would never create anything “real”–that is, tangible things, things which everyone perceives as being “real”. Humans would never make, transcend, build, invest, or dream. They would, in short, not be human.
So how about we break some barriers of Reality together?
We’re going to offer you some pathways and portals into the glorious alternative realities, the rich places in the mind, heart, and passion, which are Steampunk. It’s my hope that you can use them for any world of the imagination with which you might care to work or play.
The unreal world awaits your royal pleasure, O Majesty of the Mind.
Let’s jump in!
Jeff Mach Events
If you’re like me, you spend a great deal of time thinking about the important things in life: Steampunk, and cocktails. If you’re a LOT like me, you spend as much time as possible combining the two.
What are some ways to make a truly great Steampunk cocktail? Here are a few pointers that I’ve picked up over the years.
First off, if you’re thinking of something sweet, did you know that it is entirely possible to get tiny edible top hats? It is! I’ll admit a secret: I have always wanted to purchase some of them and place them atop a cocktail, but I haven’t yet. I’m giving this secret away to you in case you want to try it first. Please let me know how it turns out!
For sweet drinks, consider this simple combination of flavor and color: take dark rum, pour it halfway into the glass, and add some grenadine. You’ll get a splash of deep red which looks a little like a heart, and it will give you bit of a candied flavor. Then be extra Steampunk and go overboard by putting in some actual candy! (You can even make your own Steampunk candy molds, if you want to.)
In general, if you want to theme your drink, you could use bourbon for something with a Wild Wild West Steampunk; Gin for something British; and Absinthe for something that will make you see airships and possibly travel through time. (Do NOT try combining all three into one drink. Trust me on this one. I’ve heard it can be done, but I believe it involves some sort of dark magic.)
That being said, combining gin and green absinthe will give you something with a lovely light green tinge, and a powerful kick, as well. Absinthes vary tremendously, of course; but choosing something with a strong anise flavour will give you a nice bite, which will compliment the kick of the gin. And you can always add to the verdant look with another sweet alcohol – Midori. Midori doesn’t have a Steampunk tradition, but I find it quite tasty.
(You can get the same color possibilities with vodka, but vodka has a bit less Steampunk history; also, vodka is best consumed neat, preferably while standing atop a snow-covered Russian steppe while grimly awaiting the approach of Napoleon’s army).
I could – and likely will – write whole articles on Absinthe. But if we’re looking for a sweet cocktail with bourbon, let me give this simple advice: bitters! As you might know, despite their name, these drink spices come in a variety of flavors. I’d recommend picking one which really suits your own tastes – this, of course, has the added bonus which comes with all cocktail experimentation: It means you get to try out lots of lovely beverages while you’re figuring out what you like best!
Jeff Mach Events