Care And Feeding Of Jeffs At Events

There’s an event coming up soon – check jeffmachevents.com for details.

Many people are kind enough to ask about my welfare at events, and/or want to help me with things. I’m creating a really teeny note about some of the things I run into most often. You’re still welcome to ask about these things. I’m just putting them out there.

It’s probably best to note that I view events much as I’d view participating in a fairly hardcore endurance event. (It’s not a perfect analogy by any means – for example, on the one hand, I can rest more often than I would in an endurance race; on the other hand, I’m also more likely to have emergencies come and eat me.)

  • Water. People often ask me if I’ve had enough water. On any given day at an event, I drink approximately a gallon of water. I do stay hydrated as best I can.

Food. It’s amazing how often people ask if I’ve eaten. It’s also really kind of them. I eat about every two hours at events; I also stretch, meditate, and take lots of vitamins. I primarily eat relatively low-fat, high-protein food, plus vegetables, in the staff meal areas, and protein bars and shakes.

  • Sleep. Folks kindly assume that I never sleep at events. Actually, it’s other folks who generally, through either preference or excitement, sleep very little. I am a sleep fanatic. Any night at an event when I haven’t had six to eight hours of sleep is either a really serious bout of insomnia, or a crisis for which I was awakened.
  • Alcohol and such. People are often kind enough to offer me alcohol and related lovely things. Barring illness, I seldom take anything on-site, including caffeine, except for my prescription sleep drugs. Thank you, though!  I often will accept little airline bottles, though, for after the event
  • Cake, candy, bacon, and other delicious foods People often offer me those things at events. I am terribly grateful for it, and feel free to keep doing it! But note that I pretty much never eat those things at events, and I will usually take it, with gratitude, and give it go some deserving staff member or awesome volunteer or kind person of some sort. I do, however, gladly accept protein bars.
  • Being kind to our staff and team.  That is about one of the best things you can do to make me really, really happy.
  • And do come back next year – or next event.  Because I’d love to see you again!

~Jeff Mach

www.patreon.com/jeffmach
_____________

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 sweet dark neverland: a Steampunk poem

I wake down.
In the chocolate insanity,
the sweet dark neverland,
I own a small but respectable burger joint.
My fare is decadent and greasy:
the fattening french fries of fantasy
the cholesterolic baconburgers of secret desire
the non-lite beer of childhood make-believe.
This is what I want to be.
An infiltrator pouring weirdness into the water supply.
A gremlin in the gears.
A toymaker, an eternal space cadet:
a purveyor of rhapsody
a whisperer
of wish.

~Jeff Mach
www.patreon.com/jeffmach
_____________

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.

Whose job is it to protect people at events?

3d computer graphics of a fairy with a fantasy armor and swoW

Whose job is it to protect people at events? Everyone’s.

Understand that I’m not bringing this up because I believe that I’m perfect at this, personally or professionally, or that I have all the answers – not at all. I’m writing because we seem to be in another one of those cycles wherein some people say, “If you get hurt, you probably weren’t taking care of yourself, or you expected others to take care of you when it’s not their job to do so.” And I can’t see that going around without speaking up.

I have rather a lot of experience with how difficult it is to try to help create safe spaces for people. I have altogether too much experience with how challenging and imperfect it is to attempt to do so in situations where you frequently have little assistance (or worse, harm) from legal or societal structures.

Should people take responsibility for themselves? Of course.

Does that mean it’s on individuals alone to make sure they’re safe? Absolutely not.  Fandom is clearly trying to figure out how to create safer places for all involved. We clearly don’t really know how to do this yet – by “we”, I don’t mean “me”, I mean “the whole damn industry”. Many of the problems are not just difficult, but controversial; not just hard to pin down, but hard to agree on in general. Many of the situations we face involve having much less information, and sometimes much more complex or subjective “proof” in any given direction, than would be useful in a court of law.

But seriously, if your response to the challenges of harassment and inappropriate behavior is “I can’t help you; you need to take care of yourself” – I’m unlikely to believe that you’re really an advocate of self-determination. I’m pretty likely to believe that you’re skirting the issue altogether.

Because that’s certainly an option we have; we can say, “This is not my job,” and turn away.  But every time you do that, you’re making a statement.  You’re empowering those who harass, and creating a space that’s less safe than it could be.  And that makes your event a worse place for everyone.

Sure, I’m not saying that we always know how to deal with harassment well, or how to define it.  I’ve seen literally years of arguments which bring up excellent points about civil rights, assisting the socially awkward, and when people can and cannot reasonably expect intervention.  It’s not easy to try to do.

But it is important to try to do.  Because I guarantee that if you don’t try, the problems don’t disappear.  They just get bigger and bigger.  And someday, you won’t be able to ignore them.

~Jeff Mach
www.patreon.com/jeffmach
_____________

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.  

What is Steampunk?

Girl in a stylized steampunk costume posing on a dark background.

Every month, we ask, “What is Steampunk?”, and we think about it again.

Here’s a practical answer you can use: Steampunk is a creative focus, based re-imagining the 19th century, which you can use for any form of inventiveness.  It could be music, art, dress, writing, games – and those are just beginning points.

Steampunk uses a near past, a past close enough that we can find its clothing in thrift stores, but far enough that it’s clearly a different world.  That’s a pretty unique place.  Dieselpunk is wonderful, but different; it’s hard for the 1940s not to be overwhelmed by the Third Reach.  Come closer in time, and we’re still actually dealing with the hippie movement, with the remnants of the greed and challenges of the Disco Area; and while the 80s were marvelously weird, they’re well within the living memory of hundreds of millions of people.  It’s hard to feel like you have free creative reign with a time which is, in a sense, directly visible in our own world.

Go back to the 18th century or before, and you’re going too far to have Steampunk’s critical proximity.  Without mass production, industrialization, organized science, and, hell, decent dentistry, you have a wholly altered world. While I don’t like putting “science” and “magic” into two categories which are automatically opposed to each other (but thoughts on the scientific study of magic, while absolutely relevant to the 19th century, are for another day) – I’d like to put forth a theory:

In 1786, J.H. Müller proposed a difference engine, but could not get it funded.  Charles Babbage’s Difference Engine was proposed in 1822, and received its first funding in 1823.

Maybe that’s it.  Maybe that’s the moment Steampunk started – a world which had the concept of modern computers and was ready to make them, but was more than a century away from the electrical knowledge needed to begin the Information Age.  You had a world which was beginning to have very deep knowledge, but wherein it was still widely believed to be possible that knowledge was finite, and the world was ultimately something which could be understood.  You just had to explore hard enough, search bravely enough, create innovatively enough – and you might figure it out.

What do you think?

~Jeff Mach
www.patreon.com/jeffmach
_____________

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.  

Sleepovers: A Slightly Steampunk Poem

mythological kraken tentacles with the sea and skyWhy, exactly, do we associate squid with Steampunk? My guess is that Kraken scene from that one “20,000 Leagues Under The Sea” movie.  It may be peculiar, but it’s canon: tentacles are Steampunk.  So in that spirit, I present to you this Steampunk poem. It’s sort-of a kid’s poem. Depending on the kid.

What kind of kid
Has a giant squid
To take to bed at night?

No teddy bear
Is lying there
When they turn out the lights.

I’d be a-feared
Of such a weird
Companion to squeeze

Huge eye of green,
Arms sixteen
No legs, no nose, no ears!

But my best friend
Whom I do spend
My time with, when she’s handy

Says giant squids
Are great for kids!
In fact, she thinks they’re dandy!

I’m ready to run–
“Do you have one?”
I ask, as my mind panics

“Don’t worry,” she says,
And offers me Pez,
“I don’t have one.
I have six.”

~Jeff Mach
www.patreon.com/jeffmach
_____________

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.