Monday, September 27, 2010

taxidermy to a whole new level

Thanks to Scott for telling me about these creepy creations... several months ago.  Forgive me for not posting these until now:





Check out these images and other creations of the artist, Lisa Black, at Sci-Fi Fantasy Anime Blog or Lisa Black's website.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

this definitely wasn't around when I first started blogging...

I must have been in my own little world for the past several months.  I happened to get onto a discussion about steampunk with someone at Jitters' Cafe the other night.  He told me he ran across three steampunkers in Lawrenceville one day.  They were telling him all about it.

Erm, what?!

So I did a quick Google search using key words that I last used during the months I wrote this blog for a grade: "steampunk" "pittsburgh."

And I came across the first attempt at organizing steampunk events in the 'burgh that I had yet seen: The Greater Pittsburgh Steam Society.  It appears to be a fledgling group, but they certainly keep people up-to-date on local events related to the interests of the group.  I must find out more, if anyone will talk to me.

There also appears to be a Facebook group looking to get a steampunk convention in the 'burgh.  Their efforts should be lauded- Pittsburgh is the heart of American industrialization, after all.  The city's heyday was when the likes of Andrew Carnegie and Henry Clay Frick were running things in the 19th century, not today with its current reputation as a city that likes to start riots (Super Bowl LXIII and the G-20 summit).  Not that we can't rise above that reputation...

Monday, September 20, 2010

steam-powered politicians

image source: Mile High Comics
As I sit here at Jitters' Cafe in Shadyside after an arduous day of apartment-hunting, my fellow coffee drinkers are watching the new season of Dancing with the Stars.  I don't care much for the show, or TV in general, but seeing Bristol Palin descend the stairs at the introduction of the show's dancers for the next several weeks reminds me of alter-egos. Like mother, like daughter, I suppose.

Why?

Because of Sarah Palin's secret life as a steampunk heroine, as told in Mile High Comic's new comic book:  Steampunk Palin:
Energy catastrophe has struck worldwide! Massive oil spills, nuclear meltdowns and more leave us desperate for viable energy sources to rebuild global society and technology. Inspired by a little tea party, Sarah Palin hits upon the answer: steam power! She begins the 'Steam Initiative', touting geothermal energy as the cure for what ails ya. The heads of Big Oil and Nuclear Power are less than happy with this trend, and they send their agents to do in the Rogue Republican. Luckily, she comes prepared with a set of steam-powered armor! (Standard equipment, don'cha know.)
Who knew?

Friday, September 17, 2010

a new suspect?

It looks like readers of this blog, if there are any left for this blog since I started it over a year ago for a blogging class, will experience a dry spell for an undetermined length of time.  Most of my free time is going into looking for a new place of habitation and a new (i.e. old, used, and cheap) vehicle.  Since my current job is only seasonal, I have been pursuing more permanent opportunities.

I'd like to discuss Paul Roland's book The Crimes of Jack the Ripper, which I finished rapidly soon after beginning it.  As I mentioned in my last post about the book, it's a "Jack the Ripper for Dummies" sort of format, which was good as it's been years since I last bothered to do any readings on those late 19th century Whitehall murders.

image source: Top News
Roland offers up a new suspect to consider: a "mad" Jewish butcher by the name of Jacob Levy, who lived within the vicinity of the murders.  Apparently the "mad" part comes from the syphilis that he contracted from the local Ladybirds.  The mental instability brought on by his STD, as well as his adept skills at butchering animals and his proximity to each of the murder locations, all make Levy a likely suspect who could have walked through Whitehall in the early hours of the morning stained in blood without anyone giving it a second thought.  Roland also says that Levy died in an insane asylum 1891, the year the official Jack the Ripper file was closed by Scotland Yard.  A coincidence, or proof that the Yardies knew that no longer had to contend with the infamous serial killer?

Roland made a good case against Levy.  Of course, all of his claims are purely theoretical.  There is no solid evidence against Levy, nothing to strengthen the muscles of the finger accusingly pointed at the Jewish butcher. The author knows his case isn't strong in that sense and admits it, ending the book by saying that it is unlikely anyone will ever learn the identity of the real Jack the Ripper.

Roland also notes in the last paragraph:
"Jack the Ripper continues to hold a grim fascination because he remains in the shadows and as such can be whoever we want him to be.  He is the only one who got away, the bogeyman of our nightmares..."
Jack the Bogeyman.  It makes perfect sense now why I am obsessed with this Victorian serial killer.  I am enthralled by nightmarish images and horror stories.  Not the gory kind, per say, but the suspenseful thrillers, the ones that make you stop and think, and wonder why and how.  Mysteries are always more entertaining for me than bloodbaths, which is why I'll always chose Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho over the Saw series.  Jack the Ripper will always be more memorable in my wild imagination than the likes of butcher Vlad the Impaler.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

four weddings and an experiment

I've been to three weddings and four wedding receptions this summer (the fourth wedding was in Ocean City, MD, during a weekend I was not allowed to get off from work, and the wedding reception one week later.)

In honor of the four happy couples, I offer congratulations and cake.  Or, at least I wish I could offer such a cake:
image source: LiveJournal

Saturday, September 11, 2010

never forget

On this, the ninth anniversary of the heartless terrorist attacks on the citizens of the United States of America, I'd like anyone reading this to pause and reflect on that terrible day, and all it has become in the years since it happened.

I was in eighth grade at the time.  My old junior high is located a little over half an hour away from the Shanksville crash site of Flight 93.  We didn't go outside for gym that day, and no one could figure out why we wouldn't.  Although we all had school-issued laptops, and news of the attacks trickled in so that by the time our principal explained what had happened over the loudspeaker, we all had a pretty good idea.

After that panic-stricken parents flowed in and students were removed.  Classes became counseling sessions for shell-shocked students and teachers alike, or discussions on our future and what it meant to be American.  We knew that this event was our generation's Pearl Harbor.  That day is forever cemented in my memory, and will remain a black stain on it for the rest of my life.  And yet, through the uncertainty, the fear, and the grieving, we felt a level of camaraderie, unity and hope.

Don't forget the thousands of innocent people who died on that day.  I never will.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

the mechanical field of honor

Instead of writing about what I thought of Paul Roland's book about Victorian serial killer Jack the Ripper, I am going to be lame and not do it.  Mainly because I just made six dozen cookies for a party and am about to hit the sack, and what I wanted to say would be more coherent with some sleep.

The only alternative is to show this awesome video by Blur Studio about how real men settled disputes in the 19th century:


Somehow I knew it would end that way.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

a bit o' this and that

I meant to write a post last night about a post I had written way back in October.  As soon as I got home from work, however, my mother greeted me with a request- could I  accompany her to a mall about 45 minutes away to purchase a Yankee Candle Haunted Mansion tea light candle holder?

A change of clothes, one white pizza, discussions on Jack the Ripper and people throwing acid in other people's faces, and an 11-mile drive on the PA Turnpike later, and we were at the counter of Yankee Candle, purchasing the massive mansion.  Then it struck me-- it's frickin' September.  SEPTEMBER! The stores are ready for fall with their "harvest" and Halloween themed items.  The clothing stores have changed their stocks for warmer clothes.  And I was in the mood to buy due to the drastic temperature drop in western PA this weekend. 

So I went to my favorite store, Forever 21.  I've decided that that store is currently my favorite for two reasons:

  1. There is such a wide variety of clothes and styles in their stock that, even though I may not like most of their collection, I am more likely than not to find something I like every single time I walk in there, no matter what my mood or current tastes in fashion may be.
  2. Neo-Victorian jewelry!

While my mother bought a USC t-shirt in honor of my twin sister's new grad school, I ended up purchasing a cameo ring and a felt cloche hat to go with my new haircut.

We got back pretty late after that.  I read myself to sleep with a book called The Crimes of Jack the Ripper, by journalist Paul Roland.  I bought the book when it went on sale at Barnes & Noble.  It's been a few years since I've done any real reading or research on the Whitechapel murders for which this notorious serial killer is said to be responsible.  Therefore, I am probably not informed enough as a critic to make a judgment on the biases and the veracity of what the author says. 

In my opinion, however, this book is a good start for people with a cursory interest in Jack the Ripper- one review on Amazon.com calls it a "Jack the Ripper for Dummies" guide, and I would have to agree.  Roland explores the potential Ripper murders, describes the Whitechapel district in which they take place, as well as Victorian attitudes on sex, but all in layman's terms.  His conclusions on some evidence and suspects in the murders, however, as well as various conspiracy theories concerning the murders, are more fit for a better Ripperologist than I to decide.  To his credit, Roland doesn't get bogged down in the details of other researchers' conclusions, but gets straight to the point they made.

Overall, so far it's been a great reintroduction to my early teenage obsession with the Whitechapel murderer without getting too deep into detail, a relief after the heavy French and Indian War books I have been reading as of late.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

ea concert postponed

What a sad discovery I made this morning while checking The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls website:
My Dearest Plague Rats,

It is with a sad and heavy heart that I announce to you that I must postpone the Fall N. American tour dates until January, 2011.

Instead of singing my little heart out with all of you and throwing cups of tea where they don't belong, I will be recovering from some very unpleasant surgery on my jaw. (Yep, the very same jaw I employ in the tasks of holding a violin and singing with...why couldn't it be a foot or something I don't really need?) Without going into gory detail, this is a surgery that I have been needing to have for several years, and only now that my jaw has threatened complete dislocation am I actually forced to attend to it. The truth is that, not only am I unable to entirely open my mouth at the moment (a blessing to many), I have been advised by my doctor (you know how much I love those) that, if I do not have this surgey immediately, serious and irreversible damage will undoubtedly occur. Thus, I will go under the knife within mere days, and will be in recovery for several weeks after, but, during that time, will be rescheduling all N. American dates for January, AND adding even more cities to the tour!

For Plague Rats who would prefer refunds for their tickets instead of waiting for the rescheduled dates, please contact the site/venue you bought your tickets from and let them know. For those of you who are willing to wait just a few months more, I can promise you a night worth waiting for, including new songs we have never, ever before performed live (eeek!!).

Please keep an eye on this page for more details regarding what to do with your tickets, as well as the newly scheduled tour dates. This will be a busy week of updates in the Asylum, so please keep checking back. VIP tickets will be honored of course, as will all tickets already purchased.

Now, for some must needed good news! Some of you may have already noticed that dates for "The Asylum Tour: The Door, S. America 2010" have been released. These shows will not be affected as I should be fine and dandy by November (and thank goodness for this as my Crumpets and I have been absolutely dying to get to your homeland for years now, and this S. American tour is a dream come true for us).

Plague Rats, fellow soldiers in the Asylum Army, and beautiful creatures I adore singing with, I offer my most sincere apologies, and all I can say to you is that I am filled with never-ending gratitude for your understanding, support, and friendship during what I admit is a rather frightening time (getting one's face cut into, while very Asylum-esque, is not nearly as much fun as it sounds).

With love from the Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls,

Inmate W14A Cell Block B, Emilie Autumn
I texted Jordan the bad news while she was at school.  Her response?

Wtf! omg you ruined my day i hate my life really bad

I mourned by getting 10 inches of hair chopped off.  Well, I had planned on cutting the hair back when I had planned out my suicide a few weeks ago with the intention of donating it to Locks of Love, as I reasoned that at least it would do someone who needed it some good. I didn't do it until now in an attempt to prevent myself from the heinous act I so badly wanted to do.  Now that I have had some support from friends and some distance from that bad time (although I am still far from being safe from my own mind), I could cut the hair without thinking that something macabre would follow.

Then I tried on my Asylum outfit for kicks:


It will sadly have to remain in the closet until the new Pittsburgh concert date is set in January.  That will give me enough time to decorate a teacup a la gothic Victoriana for the VIP experience, and make EA a gift that I think she would appreciate.

Recover quickly, Emilie!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010