A Steampunk Holiday Word From Scrooge

It's Steampunk Santa!

I think I speak for all grumpy old men of Steampunk when I say: “BAH!  HUMBUG!”

I suspect that the next entry here will contain some kind of holiday cheer.  For everyone who’s up for that sort of poppycock, you should probably check tomorrow’s entry.  But for now, let me give you some of the benefits of using Steampunk to avoid the holiday season.

7 Some people are dreaming of a snowy white Christmas.  I dread that, my thought, which is precisely why I have my Steam-Powered Weather Alteration Device set to “Volcano.

6. Want to avoid awkward conversations at dinner?  Just show up in your full Steampunk garb, complete with an assortment of weaponry.  Everything becomes much more polite.

5. Don’t want to give presents?  Just do what I do… give everyone tickets to events that have already happened.  If they’re too lazy to own time machines, that’s on them.

4. Food coma from too much turkey and other festive food?  Just slip your goggles off your top hat and over your eyes, and nobody will know you’re asleep!

3.  Did Santa leave you a lump of coal?  That’s fine; you can just use it to stoke the boiler in your airship.  Then you can chase after his sleigh and get the GOOD presents.

2. Television wasn’t even invented in the Steampunk era, which is an excellent excuse not to watch “It’s A Wonderful Life” for the millionth time.

1. Remember, if anyone asks…you’re not a mean, nasty cuss; you’re just reproducing a beloved figure of the Victorian era – the one and only Ebenezer Scrooge!

(As told to Jeff Mach of Jeff Mach Events.)

“Oh! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster.”

~Charles Dickens

“I happen to LIKE oysters, thank you.”

~Ebenezer Scrooge




How To Tell If Someone Has Poisoned Your Tea

Mad Hatter from from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland - woodcut

“There’s nothing like a murder to enliven a party, except, perhaps, for two murders.”

-Professor Moriarty

If I had a shilling for every time a Steampunk asked me, “Jeff, how do I figure out whether or not there’s poison in my tea?”, I’d have….three shillings and a ha’penny.  Which would be fairly unfortunate for me, as I live in New Jersey and have no idea what a shilling is.  (I believe a “ha’penny” is a kind of ham sandwich.)

Still, given my considerable experience in this area, I’ve developed a few criteria which might be helpful.

To determine whether your tea is lethal, or simply full of the usual arrangement of boiled leaves, ask yourself some of the following questions?

  • Are you the heir to a deeply substantial fortune, one which has caused decades of family trouble and strife?  Was the tea possibly brought to you in a suspiciously deferential manner by someone whose last friendly interaction with you was in 1827?  Are your relatives lined up in an anxious row on the other side of your door, eagerly awaiting the  ominous “thump” of your lifeless body hitting a very expensive carpet?
  • Does your beverage taste strongly of arsenic?  And if so, why in heaven do you know what arsenic tastes like, and how are you even reading this?
  • Has the liquid within your teacup melted through said teacup, and the plate underneath, and the floor beneath that, and is it currently bubbling, hissing, and rapidly dissolving everything below it until it reaches the molten centre of the Earth?
  • When you attempt to sip your refreshing beverage, do you find yourself grabbed by a highly inconvenient tentacle which appears to be emanating from within the libation itself?
  • Are you now a ghost, standing over your corpse, examining the potation which brought about your demise and attempting to figure out how to fire your butler from beyond the grave?

If the answer to any of these questions is “Yes”, then I fear you have, indeed, most likely had your tea poisoned.  Congratulations!  You now know the answer to your question!  I do hope it helps.  If this is not actually of assistance to you, I recommend switching to coffee.

-Jeff Mach

Jeff Mach Events

5 Terrible Ideas For Avoiding Con Crash

Victorian style frightened man screaming in a dark street.  Probably realized it's Monday.How do you avoid con crash?  We’ve all been there.  You go to a convention or festival, you have an incredible weekend, you meet amazing people, you do things that will remain joyful memories forever–and then you get home and crash hard.

Some of the best ways to avoid this, I find, are making sure to get enough sleep over the weekend; make sure to hydrate and take in nourishment; and stay connected to your convention/festival family via the event’s social media.

Want to help your friend with con crash?  You will find this article unbelievably, incredibly, supremely unhelpful!  So without further ado…


1. Do not throw your friend into piranha tank. Piranha make an ugly, buzzing sort of noise while they strip the flesh from your bones. This noise can easily be mistaken for that of a Starbucks Frapuccino blender, and you might draw a crowd of people who will be sorely disappointed when they find that there is no caffeine to be had. I recommend barracuda – keep them hungry enough, and they can eat someone fairly quickly.

2. If they’re cold, do not set them on fire. This plays havoc with household smoke detectors if you’re inside, and if you’re outside, it’s really inconsiderate to set your friends ablaze if you can’t provide people with the makings of S’mores when they come investigate.

3. Avoid blankets made out of poison ivy, unless they have really cute things embroidered on them.

4. Do not lock them in a room and play the Donald Glover novelty song “Werewolf Bar Mitzvah seventime times, unless, of course, it’s near Halloween. Let’s be seasonally appropriate, okay, people?

5. Sharks with frickin’ laser beams. Effective? Sure. But most residential areas won’t let you bring in more than one shark at a time, and that means you have to leave the rest of them in your car or something, where they’ll get really bored. Pro tip: If you do go this route, loan the sharks your Game Boy. There’s nothing whinier than a shark who’s been hanging out in the parking lot with nothing to do but criticize the music in your Spotify playlist.

Three Great Steampunk Webcomics

The total number of incredible Steampunk webcomics is, of course, “Lots”.  Webcomics and Steampunk, in many ways, grew up together, and it’s not surprising that some of the oldest and flat-out best webcomic tales are of Steampunk universes and spirit.

Here are a few for you to consider:

1. Girl Genius. Girl Genius is perhaps the best-known of all Steampunk webcomics. With its gloriously splashy, colorful Style and its long-running, intricate-but-never-frustrating plots, it’s been delighting us for longer than most people have even known the world “Steampunk”.

There’s a particular bonus gem here, too – sure, the concepts are fascinating, the plots are intricate, the dialogue brilliant and witty.  But even with all that, it took me two or three readthroughs to really appreciate just how much information and invention is packed into each, not to mention each comic arc,  Girl Genius isn’t simply a great webcomic; it follows that old Walt Disney concept “Be better than you need to be”.

Check out the comic.  If you take a careful look, you will notice that in almost every panel there is some new bit of Steampunk inventiveness, whether it’s in the dialogue or in the art or in the ideas. It is a world of such a Steampunk immersion that what might, in other places, stand out and pop and make you stare–happens in pretty much every single panel, until you’re overflowing with Steamy goodness.  What might be a game-changer elsewhere is background or filler in this comic. Girl Genius is full of hidden gems, and even if you’ve already read it, I recommend reading it again, with a careful eye towards seeing just how much they pack into everything they do.

2.  Boston Metaphysical Society. This tightly-plotted, articulate, and lovingly illustrated comic does that thing which Steampunk often attempts and seldom does well: it creates its own characters, and has them interact with notable and favorite hereoes of Steampunk, even including Nikola Tesla–and integrates them seamlessly.  It’s like watching a movie full of brilliant young actors, with a great script, and then suddenly seeing Bill Murray walk in and do something brilliant, but not world-changing or plot-destroying.  You recognize the archetype’s power, but it always enhances, it never dominates.

All too often, we see this in a sort of Mary Sue universe wherein the famous characters end up being essentially invulnerable due to the plot armor of our affection.  (Woe betide the Steampunk writer who kills off Mr. Tesla without good reason!)  Boston metaphysical has a different take. While those characters are not infrequently in fully mortal peril, none of the characters are not superheroes. They are very smart people with advanced minds, tackling powerful but not invincible forces.  And that means that every comic packs suspense, possibility, and intrigue.  You never really know what will happen, and when the plot does unfold, you’re left deeply satisfied.  

3. Scenes from a Multiverse. I know what you’re saying. If you know this comic, you know that it is not Steampunk, and you know that I have left out many other comics which certainly are very very clearly traditionally Steampunk. Why am I highlighting “From A Multiverse”?

It is because, while the setting and design of that comic is not specifically Steampunk themed, John Rosenberg plays with a vast whimsical universe where just about anything can happen.  And then he tightens that focus so that each comic is an individual set up of some sort of unusual extrapolation of reality, taken to the next level for comedic and intriguing effect. It’s incredible – and absolutely, completely in keeping with the spirit of our wild, yet mannerly, Steampunk culture.

If you are looking for a mind-expanding but completely coherent, splendidly and gorgeously (if simply) drawn comic, then this is a brain explosion of potentiality. I recommend every Steampunk read it and have their minds just a little bit blown.

~Jeff Mach

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.  

3 Essential Tips For Evil Mad Scientists

Sure, we’ve all been there.  You’re crawling out of the wreckage of your latest laboratory, watching your Monster go make friends with the people who’ve just destroyed years of your work, and picking little bits of adamantium, mithril, and frozen aether out of yet another utterly ruined labcoat, and you’re thinking, “Why?  WHY did this happen?”

It’s probably because you made one of the four classic Evil Mad Scientist mistakes.  Don’t be embarrassed.  It’s happened to the best of us.  Although it’s also happened to the worst of us.  Where exactly do you fall on that scale?  I think that’s a writing subject for a different day.  Anyway, let’s get started.

Things An Evil Mad Scientist Really, Really, Really Should Not Do:

4.  Never shout, “Fools, I’ll destroy you all” out loud.  Come on.  There’s always somebody listening at the wrong moment.  Haven’t you learned this by now?  Instead, try shouting, “Tea?  I love tea!  Also, cupcakes are yummy!”  That will confuse the mazurkas out of them.

3. Try not to label your evil plan “My Evil Plan”.  Sort-of gives the game away, you know?  There you are, taking a hot selfie for your nondescript public identity, and there it is, right in the corner.  Heroes always find that stuff.  It’s very frustrating.

2. We’ve been trying to teach you this for generations, but I’ll say it now and louder: IT IS ALWAYS BETTER TO GLOAT TO A DEAD ENEMY THAN A LIVE ONE.  Sure, the dead one can’t look sad and defeated, but the corpse IS sad and defeated.  Way, way better.

1. Want to hide the countdown to the launch of your Horrible Destructo-Device?  It’s easy.  Just resist the urge to count it down in a booming voice, and, instead, hide it in some innocuous set of numbers, like, say, a list of suggestions on the internet.

Speaking of which, DESTRUCTO-BOT, LAUNCH!


~Jeff Mach

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.