Steampunk and the responsibility of whimsy

Steampunk and the responsibility of whimsy

jeff_cleve

The world is still a weird place, despite my efforts to make clear and perfect sense of it.

~Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

People from all sides of the political spectrum have, as late, asked us to take ourselves a little more seriously.  And these are what Dr. Thompson would call Serious Times.

But to some extent, I know this: We are Steampunks, and we are dedicated to the power of frivolity.

The world needs big things.  It needs Solutions.  It needs Health and Prosperity and Safety and Freedom.

But the world needs this thing, too: The world needs Frivolity.

The world needs the ridiculous.  The world needs the ability to laugh, to imagine, to take flights of fancy from here to the hottest night spots of Neverland.

We don’t recommend escapism.  Imagination, humor, and laughter are not ways of hiding from the Real World; they are ways of altering how you deal with The Real World, and how it deals with you.  That is a power as great as any known to Science or Magic, and by Thunder, we WILL use the power of the eccentric, the unusual, the bizarre, and the peculiar to create a little joy wherever and whenever we can!

So mote it be!

~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.

 

Eat, Drink, And Be Merry, For Tomorrow, You May Get Teleported Back To 1847

Eat, Drink, And Be Merry, For Tomorrow, You May Get Teleported Back To 1847

It's a cocktail!

“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relatives.”
~Oscar Wilde

We’ll be expounding on this in later missives, but for now, we try to be guided by that primary rule:

What would Oscar Wilde do?

Regardless of your circumstances or convictions, it’s certain what Mr. Wilde would do, when confronted with a Thanksgiving feast, and the peculiar spectre of relatives:

He would raise his spirits, raise a glass, and raise a little Hades. He would eat, drink, and be merry, and to Mercury with worry, fear, and regret!

I don’t know about you, but this holiday season, I will follow his example, at least when at the table. Away from the table, there’s a whole world to conquer. But at the table, conquer as Oscar would: with wit, with charm, and, failing that, with an invariant eye towards making sure that the very best things on the table didn’t go to waste.

~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.

Why would Steampunks make a Faerie festival?

Why would Steampunks make a Faerie festival?

Hephaestus.

When we created Glimmerdark, we were thinking about this:

“What is magic?

Then there is the witches’ explanation, which comes in two forms, depending on the age of the witch. Older witches hardly put words to it at all, but may suspect in their hearts that the universe really doesn’t know what the hell is going on and consists of a zillion trillion billion possibilities, and could become any one of them if a trained mind rigid with quantum certainty was inserted into the crack and twisted; that, if you really had to make someone’s hat explode, all you needed to do was twist into that universe where a large number of hat molecules all decide at the same time to bounce off in different directions.

Younger witches, on the other hand, talk about it all the time and believe it involves crystals, mystic forces, and dancing about without yer drawers on.

Everyone may be right, all at the same time. That’s the thing about quantum.”
― Terry Pratchett, “Lords and Ladies”

What is it that we love about Steampunk?  You can take it anywhere you want; you can have a Steampunk House or you can just show up in a t-shirt, and what’s even better is that those two people are perfectly likely to step up to the bar at one of our events and share a beer.  It’s not a competition; it’s building a world, and you can go big or go small.  Nobody can tell you that your Steampunk is right or wrong; nobody owns Steampunk.

And this is the secret:  Nobody owns magic, either.  Nobody owns Fairyland.  We can do with it what we want, we can make it what we want.

I’d say that we’re only limited by our imagination, but that’s not true; we are far more limitless than any individual imagination.  Steampunk’s death has been predicted time and time again, and it’s never died, and that’s not because it has some message more enduring than Disco or pet rocks or Napster.  It’s because nobody can say, “That’s not Steampunk; stop it!”  People all over the world create more Steampunk things every day, and it just makes the Steampunk universe bigger.

We wanted to play with another world that big.  And we honestly wanted one that had even fewer rules, so that if we wanted to, we could ABSOLUTELY wear our Steampunk gear – or our pirate stuff, our Gothic garb, our geek attire, our khakis.

That was the birth of Glimmerdark.  If you’ve enjoyed The Steampunk World’s Fair or other Jeff Mach Events, come to Jeff Mach’s Glimmerdark.  We’ll bring the magic.  You bring the steam-cannons.

~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.

 

If Thanksgiving is hard for you, you are not alone

If Thanksgiving is hard for you, you are not alone

Don't let Thanksgiving break you down

I am a misfit born of misfits. And I don’t speak for all misfits…but I offer this Thanksgiving blessing to all who need it –

To those whose families love but do not respect them: May you be able to return that love, but may your loving heart stop seeking an acceptance that is deserved, but doesn’t exist.

For those who must hide essential parts of their lives from those who we were told would always love us, no matter what: May you recognize that blood is genetics, not an unconditional bond, and if parts of you are secret, you are not to blame.

And for everyone about to sit around a table with kin who are sometimes far worse than strangers, may you know this:

Your birth family is what you were given, for good or ill. But we, your chosen family, we love you and care about you for who and what you really are. If Thanksgiving is hard, then I hope you can remember that your real family is always with you. Be strong because we, all those of us who do not quite fit, need every jot of strength we can find today. And be comforted in the knowledge that we, in turn, know you are there for us. And we will get through this together.

~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.

The Night Before A Convention Or Festival

The Night Before A Convention Or Festival

The night before a convention is a specia, magical time.

“I would hate to be taken seriously. Serious people are always so grim and uptight that they make me want to dance naked on the lawn playing a flute.”
Robert Anton Wilson

Have you ever been to an event the night before it starts, the night before registration’s set up, the night before everything in place?

There was a time in my life when I only ran two events a year, instead of the seven or either I run now.  My events tend to start on Fridays, and I always wondered about the odd magic in the air on Thursday night, even when nothing was happening.

The truth is, the night before a convention is a very special time. For one thing, it’s difficult to fully mask the sound of the power tools and the ionic phase shift generators, even behind the subtly-loudened lobby music and that suspicious clatter from the supposedly-empty kitchen. It takes the hotel crew hours of backbacking labor to bend, twist, and chop down the walls, and partitions which protect the hotel from reality. It’s necessary to unwarp-time, to let dimensional existence finally breathe out and release the other elsewhen dimensions, and then it can take hours to generate enough Tribbles to sop up the ether water from the bits of the Eighth Sea which manage to seep through.

And hell, that’s nothing compared to what they have to do to put all the barriers back and pretend that the “normal” world is actually reality on Sunday evening. Pretending the world is normal is a terrible, awful, miserable job, and I’m glad I, for one, don’t have to do it.

~Jeff Mach
Jeff Mach Events

How To Get Your Band Or Group Booked For Our Steampunk Festival

How To Get Your Band Or Group Booked For Our Steampunk Festival

Photo by the inimitable Babs Who Takes Pictures

Photo of Emperor Norton’s Stationary Marching Band by the inimitable Babs Who Takes Pictures.

If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me “How do we get accepted to The Steampunk World’s Fair”, I’d also have a lot of people also asking me, “Hey, where did you get all those dollars from?”

For us, the only way to get in is to go through the application process; we get hundreds of applications, from all over the world, and if we didn’t use a strict application process, we’d lose track.  There are just too many people applying for us to keep track of that information in email chains or phone conversations.  That’s why it still comes down to the application.  Here are some tips that work with us, and a bit of our point of view.  I hope you find this helpful!

  1. Help us hear your best – and most appropriate –  music or performance.  It’s amazing to me how often someone’s application will say “You can just search for me on Youtube”.  Well, yes, and if we were looking at ten applications, that might make sense; we’d want to take time to go through your work, see what might seem to best represent you, play and measure those videos…but we don’t.  Please, please help us help you – direct us to the aspects of your work you would MOST like us to see, the parts you feel will best help a stranger understand your work quickly and appreciate its value, AND… Do make sure that we see why you’re a good fit for a Steampunk event.  Is your work clearly Steampunk?  Is it in some similar realm of imagination?  What makes you right for this show, and this show right for you?
  2. Have good social media.  When I was young, venues would ask, “Do you have a following?”, and they had to pretty much trust you if you said, “I sure do!”  (Of course, if you said you did, and then had a small turnout, you weren’t likely to be invited back.)  Social media is not the ONLY way we judge performers – lots of great performers just plain hate social media and/or aren’t good at it – but it’s definitely going to be some indicator of your ability to bring in an audience.  So if you can, it’s worth time making some of your social media presence as strong as you can.
  3. Make sure we’re a good fit for compensation on both sides.  Realistically, the goal is for every performer to be happy with compensation, and for the event to be equally happy.  We don’t expect each group to pay for itself in terms of sheer attendance – and, in fact, that’s rather rare, for us.  We’re a festival; people go for the combination of shows, not any one show, and people who DO attend just to see one performer are actually NOT our optimal guests.  Because our event is a great deal if you want to see a lot of Steampunk.  It’s not a great deal if you want to see just one hour worth of programming during the weekend.
  4. You don’t need to “look Steampunk”, but if you don’t, you need to give other reasons why you’ll fit well.  Billy Idol, in his song “100 Punks”, said, “If you don’t have the look, you’ll never be one”.  That is NOT true!  But we ARE looking for people who’ll connect with a Steampunk audience, and that audience often looks to see affirmation of their own look and style in yours.  If you don’t offer that direct connection, be sure you offer other kinds of connection.
  5. If you’re accepted – promote your appearance!  It’s part of our job to support your appearance by letting people know about you.  It’s part of your job to support our show by letting people know about it.  If you’re part of our event, know that we WILL tell the world about you!  Please do return the favor – that interaction is really important to having a longterm relationship with us.

~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.