Sarah Donner

Sarah Donner plays songs about cats, science, and feelings. She is best known for her videos of poor kittens forced to listen to her singing and an R-rated pterodactyl song co-written with The Oatmeal.

I am not beautiful.

I applaud the positivity of saying “You are beautiful”, but it doesn’t apply to me.. I’m not beautiful, inside or out.. And I don’t want to be.Young goth girl with a red hair covering her face

What I am is functional.. Not that beauty has no function, but I’m functional in a way which strips away loveliness. If there was some pretty inner glow at some point, it’s long been replaced by the cracked, chipped, dirty furnace room which is at my core..

It’s not a comely place.. The architectural flourishes have mostly been torn down to add more room for makeshift shelves, containing the accumulation of a lifetime of – learning? experience? knowledge? Let’s be honest: a lifetime of trying to get shit done, and not always in the best or smartest ways.. I’d always pictured the process would be like adding volumes to some pristine and lovely library, each one carefully put in place as the collection grew in some logical fashion.. It didn’t turn out quite like that.

My inside is like my outside: greying into white, not conventionally attractive, and forged with the kind of determination which both builds strength and muscle – and permanent injury from being too damn stubborn, or too damn persistent, or too damn unwilling to give up when maybe I really should have.

Don’t call me beautiful. I don’t have a need for it. I don’t have a want for it. If you want to compliment me, you could compliment something I’ve done – though even there, I don’t really want the compliment of words. Take what I’ve done, take what I can do, take what I have to offer, use it, and that – that – is more than beauty enough.

~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.

Are you Steampunk/Goth/Geeky/Weird enough?

A simply-dressed woman wearing black clothes with a white collarAre you Steampunk enough?
Are you Goth enough?
Are you Geeky enough?

Yes. You are.

And I don’t mean that in the sense of unthinking compliment. I don’t mean it as cheering. I mean it as simple truth.

In almost every space where you might question whether or not you’re “enough”, the question defines you. If you’re thinking about it, if you’re considering it, if you’re putting out the effort of thought, then you almost certainly are. Unless it’s a contest, your first and best judge is yourself. If it’s a contest – then test yourself!

There are a few times when that question might go to others – if someone’s creating a safe space, for example, for some specific piece of identity. But even then – most of the time, you are still the best first judge. It might be a good idea to ask the space organizers if your identity fits their ideas on identity. But that’s not necessarily because you might not be “enough” – that’s because creating any space involves a number of decisions, and they might not align wholly with who and what you are. That’s still not on you – and again, if you have the politeness to ask, you’re still showing qualities which would make most spaces into better ones.

It’s the ones whose confidence is automatic and not based in life experience, it’s the ones whose assumption is that they’re always a perfect fit, who give me pause. Not because they’re necessarily bad, and not because they’re necessarily wrong, but because not considering that you might be wrong is a danger and luxury. It relies, at the very best, on other people telling you when you are wrong – and not everyone is willing to do that.

Are you “enough”? You are more than enough. You are *a multitude of enough”.

~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.

Steampunk Is For Everyone

Redhead woman posing with weapons in a storage space.I’ve weathered many conventions, from the anime days at Otakon to the comic book scene at Wizard World, and out of all of them, I’ve found something unique at steampunk conventions. One of the themes throughout most conventions of a geeky nature is the love for cosplay or dressing up. After all, who doesn’t want to don a costume and immerse yourself in the fandom of what you

Unfortunately, that enjoyment often gets dampened.

For the love of Cthulu, we’ve reached the point where groups like Cosplay is Not Consent and other such groups are necessary, due to the altercations that attendees deal with simply for wanting to enjoy the convention in their favorite costume. On top of that, those who are bold enough to cosplay end up facing fierce scrutiny by the other attendees, often mocked and ridiculed, either for not having the “right” body type to cosplay the character, or a poorly done costume (even if it was the best effort from a person who couldn’t sew). And these aren’t isolated cases either—most cosplayers have horror stories of rude comments, aggressive, or downright nasty behavior.

Now, I could go on about the minefield of problems at length, but what I wanted to point out was the contrast at steampunk conventions.

I’ve attended and vended quite a few steampunk conventions at this point, and what I’ve seen has been an all around air of acceptance. Yes, part of the reason could lie with the malleability of the content. Steampunk is a very changeable aesthetic and no real clear, defined rules, which opens the way for more creativity. Unlike dressing as Powergirl, where you’re expected to have tits out to Kansas, or Wolverine, where washboard abs seem to be a pre-requisite that few have the time to maintain, steampunk allows every body type to participate.

I’ve never seen so much creativity and self-expression from all ages and differing types of people than I have at steampunk conventions. From hand-sewn ballgowns to throwing on a vest and a pair of goggles, all modes are accepted. Even with different takes on pop culture, such as Steampunk Ariel, or Steampunk Flash, the focus is on the craftsmanship and ingenuity rather than nitpicking details of accuracy to the costume.

In that regard, steampunk is invaluable. It allows people to enjoy dressing up once more, rather than fearing judging gazes, or god forbid, jerks who slap stickers on cosplayers they find inadequate. The spirit of tinkering manages to inject some much needed positivity back into the world of cosplay—where it’s okay to dress up as something you love. Don a corset, throw on a pair of pirate boots, and add whatever accents you find appropriate. Love for steampunk allows those expressions of geekery to flourish rather than be stamped out by hordes of naysayers and critics.

Although I’m sure incidents still occur, the same as in any forum, the experience I’ve had of steampunk is one of creativity and expression, both a good breeding pool for innovation. And that’s what I’ve seen time and time again from this community, whether it be innovation in creating the coolest steampunk Proton Pack, sewing a gorgeous bustled Victorian gown, or simply innovation in how we treat one another as human beings.  After all, who doesn’t want to don a costume and immerse yourself in the fandom of what you love?


Today’s post is by guest author Kat McIntyre of katherine-mcintyre.com!

A modern day Renaissance-woman, Katherine McIntyre has learned soapmaking, beer brewing, tea blending, and most recently roasting coffee. Most of which make sure she’s hydrated and bathed while she spends the rest of her time writing. With a desire to travel and more imagination than she knows what to do with, all the stories jumping around in her head led to the logical route of jotting them down on paper. She writes novels with snarky women, ragtag crews, and guys with bad attitudes. High chances for a passionate speech thrown into the mix.

Victor and the Bully

Introducing you a new and upcoming duo from London, Victor and the Bully.
Victor and the Bully uses a ‘carnival blend’ of live ukulele and acoustic guitar with a twist of orchestral instruments to provide a very theatrical and cabaret-like sound. Inspired by steampunk, swing, mariachi, classical and punk to bring a very different vibe.