Tuesday, October 26, 2010

dystopian wars soon to be released

Thanks to Scott for directing my attention to The Miniatures Page for the following announcement:
Wayland Games are pleased to announce that we are already taking pre-orders on Dystopian Wars - the amazing new Steampunk-era wargame by Spartan Games...

Set in 1870, the game focuses on some very familiar, but very different takes on the great powers of the nineteenth century - from the Kingdom of Britannia, to the Federated States of America. And the struggle for world dominance is underway, as the great nations use all of the technological wonders at their disposal - from land battleships to steam tanks, to zeppelin aircraft carriers and giant spider walkers - in order to get their way! With stunningly good-looking models, and a set of rules that lives up to the pedigree of its forbears, Dystopian Wars looks like being one heck of a Victorian era to fight through!
Looks like a promising VSF game.  Battles by sea and sky with naval or airship fleets, air pirates, and ground warfare pack this game full of action, at least by the descriptions.

image source: Spartan Games
Pre-orders of this new VSF wargame can be done at Spartan Games and Wayland Games.

Monday, October 25, 2010

your life would suck if you were victorian

Note: I don't pretend to know anything about the politics of Britain. I just thought the column discussed below was quite entertaining from a purely neo-Victorian cultural aspect.

Your life would suck if you were Victorian.

At least, according to Tom Shields' column in yesterday's Herald Scotland.  He compares suggested Coalition public spending cuts to "Victorian values".  Not that I know anything of politics in Britain.  But it's certainly funny to think that the Victorians "valued" any of the examples of the terrible quality of life that many Victorians had, compared to the relatively great quality of life most people in England have today.
Did you know that if we could get the child mortality rate back to what it was 150 years ago, it would cut £10bn a year off the family allowance bill?

Did you know old people got on perfectly well before the state pension was introduced in 1911? Mostly thanks to dying from malnutrition and disease before they got too old.

These days the working class live too long. With fewer jobs to be filled, they have become a luxury Britain can no longer afford.
He goes on to create a gloomy image of a neo-Victorian lifestyle based on the "Victorian values" supposedly "favored" by the Coalition government:
Rat-infested slums. Gruel in the workhouse. Bread and a thin scraping of margarine, if you’re lucky.

No state benefits to keep the wolf from the door.

No health service to keep the grim reaper from the door.

A return to rickets, scabies and snottery noses. You don’t see so many snottery weans these days.

Probably because there are too many hankies and not enough colds and flu on the go. And too many young folk with shoes that don’t leak.

Also, children are too well-nourished to be put up chimneys. If we had enough chimneys. There’s no smoke without chimneys.

This is why people don’t die of bronchial diseases the way they used to.

When was the last time we had a good old Victorian fog to raise the death rate?
This column is a perfect example of why one should know history.  When many people think of the Victorian era they are more likely to recall 4 o'clock tea stereotypes or a romantic image of swirling fog beneath gaslights.  Yeah, that fog was actually pollution, as Shields points out.

What Shields conveniently ignores are the wonderful aspects of the period, such as the conservative dress, the literature, the increasing literacy and educational opportunities for the population, and the reforms made to change the terrible "Victorian values" that Shields lists above.  But how would that prove his "point" against the Coalition government's public budget cuts?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

gepetto's steam monster

What a crazy busy week.  It's fun moving into a new apartment and experiencing my new job, but I've done too much and have gotten myself pretty sick in the process.  Therefore, I am going to nap this beautiful Indian summer afternoon away.  I'll post more when I actually get an internet connection at my apartment, instead of using my work computer.  Not that my boss cares, but I have been coming into work on my off-days this week just to check email, and it's getting a bit annoying.

Before I go, here's a steam-tech take on a beloved children's tale:
image source: imgur

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

ea reschedules tour dates

Emilie Autumn has finally rescheduled the Fall 2010 North American tour dates she canceled a few months ago.  While I am pleased that she had rescheduled the dates, today I am sad because if they hadn't been canceled, I could have been living it up in the Asylum VIP style this evening. Such is life.

Well EA, my little sister, boyfriend and I eagerly await your arrival in February 2011.  Come Hell or high snow falls (as was the case in Pittsburgh last February), PLEASE COME!  WE WILL DEFINITELY BE THERE!

Monday, October 18, 2010

knights really just blow off steam

I have finally moved everything into my new apartment, and mopped and vacuumed and scrubbed every single surface until my fingers bled.  The transition into my new job has been awkward, to say the least.  I spent the first three hours of the job just sitting around, waiting for direction from my boss.

So I decided to check Facebook for some photos that my twin sister Leigh promised I would enjoy from her recent trip to the Carolina Renaissance Festival in Charlotte, NC.  She had posted them on Saturday, but I don't have internet access at my apartment yet, and the state computers at Bushy Run have blocked Facebook as of late.  Fortunately my new job doesn't worry about silly things like distractions from productivity via the web.

The Carolina Renaissance Festival looks a lot better than the Greater Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival.  That's actually saying a lot, because the Greater Pittsburgh Renaissance Faire is an excellent attraction.  But besides having better seating for the jousting, and belly dancing and what look to be (from Leigh's photos) better medieval buildings, it had something this weekend that has become very dear to my heart indeed.  

Leigh, I love you for posting the photos, but I hate you for experiencing sci-fi and fantasy weekend at this Renaissance Faire without me, especially due to the presence of...


STEAMPUNK!!!!!

Such as these three lovely fashionistas with the simpler steampunk gear than the three steampunkers pictured above.  The young woman in the middle told Leigh that she had thrown her get-up together at the last minute.  I would have never known- it looks great to me!


The woman on the right, however, got elaborate with her outfit.  Take a look at her ray gun.  It's powered by...


A hamster.  Yes.  That image made my day.

Steampunk merchandise was also offered for sale.  The following photos are of steampunk items made by Silver Leaf Costume:





Leigh was probably tempted to buy these corsets.  I know I certainly am:




Someone please explain to me why I haven't seen any steampunk people in person here in the industrial North, and yet my sister gets to experience several neo-Victorian and steampunk-related things in the more rural South.

Leigh, why do you get to have all of the fun?!

Friday, October 15, 2010

"i vant to suck your blood"

Another short post, because I am moving my entire life into a small three bedroom apartment with several friends today.  My new job begins on Monday, and I finish the one at Bushy Run the day before, so things have been a little hectic, to say the least.

I came across this beautiful song purely by accident on YouTube the other day from the musical Dracula.  I never even knew there was a musical rendition of this 19th century vampire story.  Dracula is not my favorite Victorian horror novel by far.  That honor goes to The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  I have an aversion to vampires that grew long before the Twilight series came out, and reading Bram Stoker's Dracula did nothing to help that aversion.  I think it's due to the same reason that I don't like zombies--I don't like the dead not staying dead.

But I digress.  Enjoy this song from the Dracula soundtrack.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

southern flair on a northen stone

My twin sister, now a grad student at the University of South Carolina, recently took a trip to Charleston.  She came across these in the Market:


So many cameos, and all made out of Baltic amber.  I wonder if anyone else makes these.


Thursday, October 7, 2010

"unbeaten"

Tonight my father, a huge Clint Eastwood fan, and myself watched the Eastwood-directed film Invictus (2009).  The inspirational poem that titles the movie, recited by Morgan Freeman as South African president Nelson Mandela, was written by Victorian poet William Ernest Henley.

While I am no fan of sport-inspirational stories, this poem caught my attention as few motivational pieces have in years.  I found this poem both beautiful and relevant to the struggles of daily life, especially a life like mine, which is so fraught with the continuous downs of depression:

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.


I rarely feel like I have an "unconquerable soul," but sometimes I reason that I must, if I have not yet succumbed to the suicidal thoughts that have plagued me during the worst of my mental illness over the past four years.

As for now, I have hope because I control my fate.  Many new beginnings await me over the next few weeks.  I will be moving to an apartment of my own and attempt to prove to myself that I can survive based on the decisions I make for myself, not on decisions others try to make for me.

Monday, October 4, 2010

steampunk superheroes

Check out these 19th century takes on Wolverine and... others. 

image source: The Geek Twins blog

Update 10/5/10:  According to my sister Leigh and my friend Scott, who know way more about the X-Men than I could ever hope to (having never seen the movies, read the comics, or been obsessed with Hugh Jackman as my sister is), they have made the following guesses as to the others' identities:

  • The guy in the wheelchair is Professor Xavier (followed by my sister's claims that I am pathetic for not knowing that).
  • The guy in the trench coat is Gambit.
  • The lady in the green corset is probably Rogue or Jean Gray.

Gah. Wolverine and Storm are the only ones I am familiar with, name-wise, and Wolverine's the only one I can readily identify in a line-up.

The image is copyrighted, so click on this link.