Tuesday, July 31, 2012

epic mealtime presents: steampunk!

Even cooking shows are now featuring steampunk!  And what better way to serve up a Victorian-sci-fi based dish than with the League of S.T.E.A.M.?

Monday, July 30, 2012

many reasons to celebrate

As this update is being posted I am on my way to the first day at my new job.  What better day to get back on my intended career path than on my own birthday.  A quarter century on this earth and I am finally working to what I hope will be a long and fulfilling career.  



And what better way to celebrate such bright new beginnings and significant landmarks in my life such as turning 25 and getting a new job than with tea, friends, and steampunk!




This Saturday several of my steampunk friends and I went to AntiquiTea, a tea room in the North Hills area, just north of the city of Pittsburgh.  The resident Lolita of the group, Gina, highly recommended it from having gone there before with other local Lolitas.  So we attended an afternoon low tea, complete with tea sandwiches, scones, and biscuits!


But the best part, as always, was to spend time in nerdy talk about everything from prevailing opinions about corsets in the late 19th century to obscure Batman villains with impeccably dressed friends, all over a lovely cup of brown joy.
Rose, Gina, and Lydia
Narla & Jason

As the afternoon tea cost $22.95, I specifically asked everyone to not bring me gifts, instead preferring that they pay their own way.  But what a pleasant surprise I received when I was gifted with four neo-Victorian and/or steampunk books and a steampunk bauble, complete with gears and glitter:


The titles are:

married to the sea- a selection of comics directly from the married to the sea online webcomics
Soulless- the graphic novel version of the first novel from the Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger
The Plucker- A beautifully illustrated Gothic tale by Brom about toys that come to life
Boneshaker- A steampunk novel by Cherie Priest about zombies, mad scientists, and a 19th century northwest America that never was.


And who can forget Colonel Archibald T. Cephalthorp III, the pith-helmet-wearing steampunk squid who wished me a happy birthday, courtesy of the lovely Miss Rose:


Thanks to all of my friends for a wonderful birthday!  This beats even the amazing Pocahontas-themed birthday party I had 16 years ago.  And that party had ponies!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

olympic ceremonies pay homage to victorian contributions

Last night while out at a sports bar with friends I saw a strange thing on the television- a pastoral scene, complete with a hill, fences, cottages, cows, and old-timey farming folk.  While we were puzzling over what to make of this quaint, peaceful picture, the scene changed right in front of our eyes to a fiery, tumultuous, industrial, smoke-and-phallic-symbol-filled setting.

That's when we realized we were watching the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Olympics in London.

image source: Zimbio
image source: Zimbio
image source: Canada's National Post
image source: IBNLive
image source: Zimbio
While I can't say we were exactly praiseworthy of Danny Boyle's spectacle (I think a general "WTF?" was our assessment) I was very happy with the homage paid to the Industrial Revolution and the Victorian era in the segments I watched.  I mean, come on- there was even an omnibus in the stage show!

image source: Zimbio
I don't have cable, so once we left the bar shortly after the smokestacks rose and the rings of fire materialized my experience was pretty much over. However, I so wish I had seen the "Queen" parachute into the stadium in real time.
image source: Zimbio

Sir Kenneth Branagh
image source: IMGACE

Thursday, July 26, 2012

chap sports, victorian industrial musical, and steampunk hands

I'm doing a general post of some tidbits I've found on the Internet recently, as well as some other news of interest.

For one, I completely forgot to purchase the new "Fight Like a Girl" album from Emilie Autumn's website when it was released on Tuesday.  Yesterday I remedied the situation, ordering the physical copy of the CD while taking advantage of the digital download of the album offered to those who purchased the physical version so they could enjoy it immediately.  

So far I've only managed to listen to a few songs while jogging this afternoon, and now as I sit in a local coffee shop, getting caught up in my Internet socializing via blogs and Facebook.  It sounds mostly like a musical soundtrack for "The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls," with "Fight Like a Girl," "Take the Pill," and "Time for Tea" being the only songs that can be stand-alone songs not necessarily tied directly to EA's semi-autobiographical book. A full review to follow.

image source: Instructables
image source: Instructables
If I ever lose a limb (God forbid such a thing from actually happening) I would make my prosthetic look all sorts of steampunk and mechanical.

Finally, this new "Olympics" needs to start taking place in every city: The Chap Olympiad!

image source: Metro
I love this guy's socks
image source: Red legs in Soho
Featuring the very chap-like sports of Butler Baiting, Bowler Hat Golf, and Umbrella Jousting (although Umbrella Jousting looks rather dangerous- see this link on Umbrella Dueling), the Chap Olympiad has taken place in London every year since 2005.

Inspired by this video of the 2012 Olympiad on this link and some talk that occurred before seeing this link, some of us Pittsburgh steampunkers are planning on making a steam-powered sports network.  Any suggestions for sports we can feature besides Tea Dueling, croquet, Butler Baiting, and the like?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

good news!

First of all, you may have noticed that this blog just had a major face lift.  The old blog design, active from about February 2011 until last week, was just not working for me anymore. Please bear with me as I finalize the design- this current one is too dark for what I think this blog covers, so it will change.

In other news: after writing this blog post two weeks ago about my current professional life being in a free fall, I have a new, career-type job at a Pittsburgh museum!

Whew.  I can breathe again.

It's been a hectic month trying to figure out how to support myself while the uncertainty of my position hung in the balance.  I was stressed out, but it was a stress I could deal with.  I've since crashed- I've got one of those nasty summer colds now, but life is looking pretty good.  I'm back in the museum field at an institution that promises both advancement and full benefits, and I will be doing what I do best- organizing and writing!

I feel like I am truly blessed to have this job.  Let's hope what I've learned from my other jobs will help me to grow as a museum professional.  I hope to work on a grad school degree and advance myself even further.

To celebrate, I'll just leave this power metal song by Sabaton here:


FYI: Sabaton's new CD "Carolus Rex" is one of the best albums I've heard in a long time.  So well researched, it covers significant people and events in Swedish history in the 17th and 18th centuries, most notably the Thirty Years' War and The Great Northern War.

Monday, July 23, 2012

brigade games' new steampunk line

Last week Brigade Games released a line of steampunk-inspired miniatures.  They're very decently sculpted, and the female fig doesn't look like an ape!  Check them out below:

image source: The Miniatures Page

image source: The Miniatures Page

image source: The Miniatures Page

image source: The Miniatures Page

Friday, July 20, 2012

"the audition"

For your enjoyment here's a steampunk short by The Apparition Abolishers that was featured during the 2012 Steampunk Empire Symposium's fashion show.  Wonderfully old-timey in sound and appearance!


If you want to see more shorts like the one above, please consider contributing to The Apparition Abolishers' KickStarter campaign.  The details on this fundraising campaign for creative projects can be found here.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

liebster award

The Countess at has nominated me for a Liebster Award!  The rules of this award are as follows:



Each person must post 11 things about themselves.
Answer the questions the tagger has set for you.
Create 11 questions for the people you tag.
Choose 11 people and link back to them.
No tag backs.


11 things about me:

1. Ben & Jerry's Phish Food is my go-to comfort food.

2. I get annoyed whenever people put down religions of nearly any kind without a good reason for feeling as they do. Just because you were raised Catholic and a few individuals who call themselves Catholic did something to hurt you doesn't mean that you should bash the entire institution, for example. Now if you were abused by a priest and the Church hid it... yeah, sure, go ahead don't like that specific branch of Christianity. I'm behind you on that. But don't blame Christianity as a whole.

3. That being said, I'm a bad Catholic. I've been kicked out of confession for not asking for forgiveness for something a priest perceived as a sin. But I totally respect him for doing so- if I want to remain being Catholic I need to go by the rules. Whether I want to continue being Catholic, however, has been an internal struggle for me for the past few years...

4. I own 10 corsets, most of which were purchased within the past two years.

5. I wish I had had an older brother growing up.

6. I hate fruit flies. And pigeons. And swans are EVIL!

7. I get along amazingly well with old people and kids.   Funny thing is, I don't generally like old people or kids...

8. I'm also very shy and insecure, but I am terrific at hiding these qualities in public.

9. I'm a huge Disney Princess fan. Pocahontas and Mulan are my favorites, with Rapunzel coming in a close third.

10. No, I don't want to hear about your messy love life. In fact, keep most drama away from me.

11. While my mom thinks that I am the smartest of her children she also thinks that I am the biggest failure in the sense that I am wasting my potential to have a successful (i.e. moneymaking) career by pursuing jobs in museums or writing.


11 questions:

The 11 questions for the people The Countess tagged:

1. If you were given 100€ right now with the obligation that you have to buy something that makes you happy, what would you buy?

I'd buy more clothes- specifically this dress. 100€ doesn't cover another trip to Europe.

2. Your favourite movie?

Currently it's Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes.

3. If you could become any fictional character for a day who would you want to be?

Tough one. Ummm... there are so many things wrong with this answer, but I guess I'd have to go with Dagny Taggart from Atlas Shrugged. I guess more so that she's a perfect superhuman type individual, and I'd like to be perfect and admired by all. And she can fly a plane.

4. Is there an ethical/political theme or agenda that is important to you?

Yes, but I won't tell on this blog as it's not the platform for those things.

5. Fish or birds?

Birds. Flying!

6. Could you live for two weeks without your mobile and the Internet without feeling that you lose contact to people that are important to you?

Yep.

7. Favourite item of clothing?

My black ballet flats.

8. Have you been kind to a stranger this week?

I think so. I work nights, so not sure I've seen too many strangers this week, let along interacted with them...

9. Do you like old buildings?

Yes! I love them so much that, despite my apartment being crappy and falling apart, I love the fact that it's 100 years old. I dream of what kind of people lived here before.

10. Umbrellas or parasols?

Parasols, even though umbrellas are much more practical.

11. What was the last thing you have creatively made with your own hands?

Faerie wings!


My questions for the people I tag:

1. Name one thing you despise that seems to receive a lot of hype.

2. What's your favorite animal?

3. Name one subculture you don't "get" or understand and why.

4. What was your favorite class in school?

5. What's your favorite pop song? (my boyfriend's a metal head, yet absolutely loves "Total Eclipse of the Heart," for example.  It happens to the best of us.)

6. What action-movie move or skill do you wish you could have?

7. What's the most ridiculous Halloween costume you ever wore?

8.  What's the best prank you ever played (or was played on you?)

9.  Favorite animated movie (can be adult-themed content)?

10.  Cats or dogs?

11. What's your dream job?

I'm tagging the following people:

Raphael at Quicksilver Sanity
Ms. Lou at The Neo-Victorian Parlour
Kakuidori at o.O

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

alice liddell at the carnegie museum of art in pittsburgh

The Carnegie Museum of Art has some exciting news- as of yesterday they have displayed a photo of the Alice Liddell taken by Lewis Carroll himself.

image source: Carnegie Magazine

Entitled "Alice Liddell as a Beggar Maid," it depicts the young girl in rags and appearing to be asking for alms with some attitude.  This photo was taken in 1858.

I have no idea how the museum got the photo, but I am certainly going to see it soon.

Also worth seeing at the Carnegie Museum of Art is the current exhibit "Impressionism in a New Light."  The exhibit not only proudly displays its already amazing Impressionist painting collection (they have an original copy of one of Monet's Water Lilies paintings), they also mixed in photos by photographers such as Demachy, Stieglitz and Steichen, that they believe emulate the nonconformity and creativity of the Impressionists- essentially, Impressionist photographers.  The exhibit runs at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Oakland until the end of August.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

the absinthe fairy

Last Friday night I attended an event called Speak Easy Cabaret - The Tease! at Cattivo's in Lawrenceville, where one of our SCSS members was performing a steampunk burlesque show.  Hearing that there was to be a costume contest, I determined to make a statement by using a new corset and skirt combination I recently purchased from Pittsburgh corsetry retailer Black Hearts Clothing.  The idea was to be the life-size incarnation of La Fée Verte, a.k.a. "the Green Fairy" or "the absinthe fairy."

To be a fairy, the first thing I needed was fairy wings.  So I followed an old clip of Emilie Autumn from a crafting show where she shows the audience how to make your very own faerie wings.  This clip was filmed while she was still performing her "Enchant" era music, by the way:


My first question, however, was: What sort of wire did EA use for her wings?

After a look at the comments section I went with 14 gauge galvanized steel wire.  Probably not the best choice for easy constructions, as it wasn't as pliable as I would have liked it to be when I was bending it.  But the shape turned out all right in the end, even if each side of the wings weren't totally symmetrical.  It also probably helped the wings not get damaged in the large crowds around the burlesque stage, although I did end up hitting a  few people in the face with the wings when I turned around abruptly or moved while forgetting that I was wearing them.


Using 25 cent white drug store stockings, I stretched them out and put them over the wire, taping them in place with electrical tape:



After that I made decorative holes with incense, and painted the frame with acrylic paints using a green theme.

The incense I bought at a Super Walmart for $1.00. I did try to just use a lighter on a test wing, but EA was right about the incense sticks- they do provide a more controlled burn for designs, while the lighter just created huge, uneven holes. I guess one could use cigarettes as well, but it seems like a rather expensive thing to use, would create a bigger, less delicate hole and make the wings smell like ciggy smoke.

I used metallic grey acrylic paint for the "veins" of the wing, and worked with darker green on the inside and lighter green on the outside. Then I covered the entire thing with a glittery green acrylic paint.


After wrapping the middle in ribbons that both dangled from the back or would be used to tie to my arms, I took apart a cheap artificial floral bouquet, again from Walmart, and glued the green flowers and some additional greenery to the ribbons in the middle of the wings.

Voila!:


To complete the outfit I painted an old pair of high heels with the same green acrylics used on the wings, and then sewed a quick "absinthe utility belt" to hold my props- a sealed bottle with real absinthe in it, a semi-permeable bag with sugar cubes, and an absinthe spoon, on a "utility pouch" made of pleather and attached to an everyday dark brown leather belt:


For hair I tried to use cheap party store green hairspray, but that ended up looking pretty terrible so I had to wash it out and redo my hair.  I moussed it and curled it, although by the end of the night (when I actually got around to taking photos, as the burlesque show wouldn't let us use cameras before or during the show) I ended up looking like I had had a little too much absinthe myself:


Oh yeah, the sea-green demon horns... they were from my friend Lydia, who insisted I wear them as they matched my wings to a T.  While she was right about the horns and wings matching each other, I think the concept confused people who weren't familiar with the idea of La Fée Verte.  On the other hand, however, the horns could represent the potent drink's false but popular reputation for making people go insane or causing death at the beginning of the 20th century....

The costume in its entirety:






The wings were very comfortable to wear and tough as nails with the galvanized steel wire in the large crowds, and very popular.

The show was pretty good. I wasn't fond of all of the dancers, but Lex Lethium, the steampunk burlesque performer, did an amazing job!

As for the costume contest... it was cancelled.  Dang.  I was sure I was going to win too!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

new ea album to be released and tour dates!

What a pleasant surprise I received in my inbox this evening- an announcement from Emilie Autumn's website that dates for the North America portion of the 2012 Fight Like a Girl tour have been set.

image source: IMG fave
The disappointing thing here is that EA will be skipping over Pittsburgh for this tour, but the plethora of dates does show that she is, indeed, getting stronger as a presence in Pittsburgh: From the Asylum email I received:
We are offering two special packages this tour.
Package 1 - VIP Package - LIMITED TO 25 PEOPLE
Very Important Plague Rat Meet and Greet

This includes the following:
1 ticket to the Show
Meet and Greet with Emilie Autumn
Photo Opp with Emilie Autumn
You can bring 1 item to be signed
1 tin of specially blended Asylum Tea just for VIP attendees
1 Fight Like a Girl Flag
1 Autographed Setlist
The price for this package is $75 plus the price of the ticket to the show.
Package 2 - Tea & Cupcake Package - LIMITED TO 75 PEOPLE

This includes the following:
1 ticket to the Show
Early entry into the venue (you will be allowed into the venue before everyone else but after the VIP)
1 Fight Like A Girl flag
1 Autographed Setlist

The price for this package is $45 plus the price of the ticket to the show.

SEPT 19 CLEVELAND, OH PEABODY'S DOWNUNDER
SEPT 20 PONTIAC, MI THE CROFOOT
SEPT 22 TORONTO, ONT THE MOD CLUB
SEPT 23 MONTREAL, QUE CORONA THEATRE
SEPT 25 BOSTON, MA ROYALE BOSTON
SEPT 27 PHILADELPHIA, PA THEATRE OF THE LIVING ARTS
SEPT 28 NEW YORK, NY GRAMERCY THEATRE
SEPT 29 WASHINGTON, DC THE ROCK & ROLL HOTEL
SEPT 30 RICHMOND, VA KINGDOM
OCT 3 ATLANTA, GA TERMINAL WEST
OCT 5 FT LAUDERDALE, FL REVOLUTION
OCT 6 ORLANDO, FL THE SOCIAL
OCT 7 ST PETERSBURG, FL STATE THEATRE
OCT 9 HOUSTON, TX WAREHOUSE LIVE
OCT 10 DALLAS, TX THE DOOR
OCT 11 SAN ANTONIO, TX THE KOROVA
OCT 16 POMONA, CA THE GLASS HOUSE
OCT 17 OAKLAND, CA THE NEW PARISH
OCT 18 SACRAMENTO, CA COLONIAL THEATRE
OCT 20 PORTLAND, OR BRANX
OCT 21 VANCOUVER, BC THE RIO THEATRE
OCT 22 SEATTLE, WA STUDIO SEVEN
OCT 24 SALT LAKE CITY, UT THE COMPLEX
OCT 26 DENVER, CO BLUEBIRD THEATER
OCT 27 LAWRENCE, KS GRANADA
OCT 28 ST LOUIS, MO FUBAR
OCT 30 ST PAUL, MN STATION 4
OCT 31 CHICAGO, IL METRO

But the great thing is that the new "Fight Like a Girl" album will be released on July 24! That's only nine days away!
AND DON'T FORGET TO ORDER YOUR COPY OF "FIGHT LIKE A GIRL" FROM THE ASYLUM EMPORIUM ON JULY 24TH.   FOR $14.99 YOU WILL GET THE PHYSICAL COPY OF THE CD SENT TO YOU AND YOU WILL ALSO GET THE DIGITAL DOWNLOAD SO YOU CAN INSTANTLY HEAR THE NEW CD!
Guess what I'll be buying as an early birthday present to myself?

Friday, July 13, 2012

short film friday

Check out this well done half-hour film about the captain of the airship Aurora, who must go on a search for his wife, who was kidnapped by slave traders:


Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

tesla b-day celebration in the 'burgh!

July 10 is Nikola Tesla's birthday, the inventor of A/C current and an idol of the steampunk world.  Which is ironic, as my boyfriend pointed out, because most of the things he did destroyed the steam technology our little subculture so admires.

In honor of Tesla, July 10 has been dubbed "International Strut Your Steampunk Stuff Day" by the steampunk community.  To celebrate, my neo-Victorian cohorts and I went to Meat & Potatoes, a fancy cocktail restaurant in downtown Pittsburgh.  None of us had been there before, but the cocktail section was certainly a 19th century enthusiast's dream come true:

Absinthe!  In an American restaurant!
Mixed drinks containing absinthe!
Despite the heat the outfits worn by my fellow steampunkers were impressive. We also managed to get the stink eye from several patrons and employees of the restaurant- guess it was a little too high-end for the likes of us to be trolling so blatantly. After drinks and dessert the group took a stroll through our once-great industrial city, while I had to cut out early.

Enjoy the photos!
Me, Scott, and Lydia Lamplighter
Photo by Rose Trowbridge.  Used with permission. 

Matt, Heather, and Persephone Dimebagger
Photo by Rose Trowbridge.  Used with permission. 
Rose
Photo by Rose Trowbridge.  Used with permission.

Lydia all aglow in steamy radiance!
Photo by Lydia Lamplighter.  Used with permission. 
As a relevant aside, on July 10 I was shopping at the local Target when I came across these home decorations:


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

free-falling

It's been a little bit quieter on this blog as of late. There have been many reasons for this occurrence. The greatest one is the fact that, after 1.5 years, I made the colossal decision to leave my place of employment. There was something extremely off about the way the company operated, and I feared that I was very soon not going to get a paycheck. We lost nearly every client we made, either from lies my boss told people to just being forgetful and lazy regarding clients who had not left us yet, and using incompetent people to perform parts of the job just to save a buck. My mental health deteriorated as a result- not that I went bonkers, but the idea of waiting for a job offer from another company while worrying each pay period whether or not I was going to get a paycheck from my current company was creating sleeping problems and leading to some very bad habits besides, such as applying for other jobs at work or writing blog posts- simply because there was no work to do.

The other problem was my boss's relationship with me. He loved the hard work I did. I was so bored by the lack of work that I did nearly everything else that needed taken care of in the businesses he owned for which I had not really been hired to work in.  But I guess I worked too hard.  He actually sabotaged my being able to work with another company back in the early spring- understandably so, as he works closely with that company and they did not want to hurt their relationship with my boss just to get a desirable employee- but it still was a betrayal that made it hard for me to work for him, knowing that he was so willing to put my career on the line in order to keep me.

So frustration with my selfish boss, money problems with the company, and the fact that at key moments my boss would do things like buy a luxury car for himself when he couldn't pay certain employees on time (I was never the victim of this sort of behavior, as I threatened to walk out once when he tried to tell me that I'd get my paycheck several days later than payday) or go on personal two-week vacations during crucial moments for our company were just telling me that I needed to get out before it got any worse.

It hit me when I realized I had become an alcoholic who dreaded waking up in the morning to go to work, that this job was no longer healthy for me. I finally had had it, and very recently quit in a spur-of-the-moment decision. I've been free-falling ever since. I have a little money saved up, but not enough to meet my expenses for more than two months. I had been job hunting for over one year for a new job specifically because of my boss's mismanagement of finances, but nothing had materialized. But I haven't looked back with regret. I sleep better, I feel better, and I feel more confident about my future instead of being stuck at a dead-end job. A few odd things have come out of quitting, such as:
  • My job hunt seems to be more focused.  I've had three job interviews in the past two weeks.  That's about the same I can say for the twelve months prior to that.  
  • Funds are forthcoming, despite the bleak outlook of the job market.  I just started a job as an overnight stock clerk at a local retailer.  While that means I now keep the same hours as vampires and am only working part-time (for the meantime- they don't give employees full-time) for a barely higher than minimum wage rate, that also means that I am free during the day to go on job interviews.  
  • The amount of support I've had from friends and family has been ridiculously encouraging.  Most of them said "Finally!  Good for you!" when I told them I had quit.  My mom said she didn't like how my boss treated me- despite the fact that she could have done an "I told you so" on me for moving away from home and getting myself into this mess in the first place.  She has also told me that I am welcome to come back home if it comes to that.  I hope it doesn't come to that- while I love my parents, a previous post-college living arrangement experience has taught me that that's more likely than not bound to be disastrous.
  • The response from acquaintances and customers has also been overwhelmingly positive. Several months ago I asked friends and acquaintances if they knew of any job openings at all.  Pretty much no one seemed to be interested in even inquiring of their workplaces or anyone else.  Now that I quit, I have had an outpouring of people offering to suggest me or send my resume to potential employers.  Even an employee from the company that had wanted to hire me but held off from doing so due to threats from my boss is now trying to help me get a new position- all because I am no longer associated with the old company.  
The feelings of hopelessness and depression I experienced since March kicked in when I wasn't free-falling.  Now that I no longer have the safety net of a job I grew to dread for a company I grew to loathe I actually no longer feel imprisoned.  I am afraid for the future, of course.  I am worried that I will never get another professional job.  But I also know that I won't be destroyed by the decision I made.  I will make it somehow.  

So please bear with me as I go through so many life changes.  This blog is not high on my priority list, but I will strive to update when I can.  Hopefully it all works out.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

morgans bounty coupon

I don't know how often anyone actually reads the "comments" section of a blog post- unless it's my own personal blog or the blogger asks for responses to a question which I am particularly interested in hearing other people's opinions, I generally don't.  But Morgans Bounty, the merchant from whom I won the pin that I wrote about for last Friday's merchandise review, has included a message that might be interesting to my readers:
THANKS Clementine! When your name was randomly drawn I had no idea you were a blogger or that you would write up such a nice piece! The pin looks great on you and I hope you really enjoy it! I sometimes use mine on an over sized handbag.

The KARMA COMFORT site is being loaded and should be up and running by about 7/15/2012...if you see this blog message and make a purchase there before 11/1/2012 send an email with the code CLEMENTINE and I will discount 10% off your purchase!!

Thanks again! Morgan
Once again, check out Morgans Bounty on Facebook, and eBay, and look out for the full-fledged official Morgans Bounty website, set to premiere online in October.

Also check out this merchant's other website, Karma Comfort set to be running by next Sunday, ready to supply customers looking for spiritual, metaphysical, inspirational, and other soul-rejuvenating items.

And yes, now I am going by the steampunk moniker of Clementine Dahling (looooooooong story), as anyone who wanted to refer to me or my blog before was forced to just say "the blogger (or bloggers) at Unlacing the Victorians.  The blogger of this blog is simple ole' me.  For the back story read the "About This Blog" section of the blog near the top of the home page.  I may also add an "About Me" part, but most of it might end up being made up. :-P

Monday, July 9, 2012

review: "hysteria"

A week and a half ago the Steel City Steam Society once again flash mobbed a theater in neo-Victorian/steampunk garb to see a film. The selection was Hysteria, a romantic comedy about the invention of the vibrator.

The story is of one Mortimer Granville, M.D., an enthusiastic young doctor who just wants to help people in need of the medical arts, finds himself working for one Dr. Robert Dalrymple, a specialist treating the disease of hysteria. Hilarity ensues in the following forms:

  • Dr. Dalrymple's maid, a prostitute-turned-domestic named Molly. 
  • Edmund St. John-Smythe (played by Rupert Everett), Granville's friend and an electrical technological geek with wonderful one-liners ranging from technology to sex to fistfights at parties. 
  • Men who think that hysteria is a real disease, with symptoms in everything from toothaches to depression. 
  • The medical "quackery" advertised on the streets. 
  • Speaking of "quacks," the ducks in the park. 
  • The Dalrymple sisters- polar opposites and representative of the "angel/devil in the house" gender theories of the Victorian times. 
  • The clients that Granville treats, both before the vibrator is invented and after. 
The great points about the movie were the research done about hysteria, medical practices and theories of the Victorian era, social conventions, and some of the awkwardness created by being "correct" in one's social behavior. And, despite the subject matter around which the movie revolved, it was mostly tastefully done.

Another favorite point is the fact that the audience can clearly see the outline of Charlotte's corset underneath her practical blouses- much as bra lines can be seen with some clothes today, even if they're meant to be conservative clothing.  I've worn corsets beneath blouses and Victorian dresses before, wondering how women concealed the lines that sometimes show through.  It was just nice to see an on-screen character with the same problem.  

image source: Windy City Times
The weaknesses were, in my opinion, the entire Dalrymple family. It was hard to take anyone seriously. Emily was way too good and Charlotte was an out-of-control freak. I just had a really hard time, as I do quite often in any role that Maggie Gyllenhaal ever plays, believing that her generally over-the-top characters are real people. I really did think Charlotte, as played by Gyllenhaal, deserved the title of a hysteric- perhaps a clever thing to do on the actress's part considering the topics discussed throughout the movie, including the existence of the disease of hysteria. I guess the movie was trying to say that all women are sometimes as crazy as Charlotte and it's okay and makes men love us? Dr. Dalrymple was worse- he started out being an ignorant simpleton regarding women and sex and ended up being some sort of evil and controlling monster who would pay thugs to beat up women at Charlotte's charity to rein in his wild child.

There was also a more "serious" subplot thrown into the mix- that of Charlotte's charity work in the slums of London- that was rather sloppily done, almost taken directly from the the TV series "Bramwell," which is about another headstrong Victorian female, a doctor who runs a charity hospital in the East End in 1890s London.  It also gave me painful memories of my last full-time job's inability to pay bills.

If you like romantic comedies... this may not quite be the movie for you. I think it fit on the comedy scale, but it seemed to lack in romance. I am not sure where the basis for a romantic could have blossomed, but as I don't like romance movies to begin with that was probably better for me that there was no general blossoming.

But negatives aside, it was an educational movie regarding medical discoveries and social ideals, radical ideas, and the worries regarding the changing role of women in 1880s England. So if you are a Victorian history buff interested in those topics I strongly recommend giving this movie a try, if only to laugh at our modern take of the prudish Victorians and their repressed sexuality unleashed.

Friday, July 6, 2012

morgans bounty: steampunk pin prize

God bless merchants who give away stuff for free to show how great of a product they sell.

Last week I entered a Facebook drawing on the Morgans Bounty Facebook page to win this amazing steampunk pin.

image source: Morgans Bounty eBay account
Morgans Bounty is a merchant who sells fantasy merchandise, alternative goods, and other oddities, mostly through eBay. So I fulfilled the necessary requirements for the drawing.  Lo and behold!  when the drawing ended I was contacted by Morgans Bounty to announce that I had won the pin!  Well, only because the first name randomly chosen had not actually managed to fulfill the requirements of the drawing in full, so another name was chosen and it happened to be mine.

Hey, I wasn't complaining.  This incident is only the second time in my life that I've actually won a drawing for a prize.  Just hearing that I won made my week.

I received the pin in the mail yesterday.  It was a very trying day, so the package was a pleasant sight. I eagerly ripped it open and found the following- a note from Morgan, some business cards, and the pin:


The pin is huge and heavy, and obviously well-made, as there was nary a flaw on it or any signs of poor craftsmanship.  Unfortunately my photo-taking skills were not as perfect:


Yes, it was this particular piece of steampunk merchandise that inspired me to consider my grandfather's Korean War items for steampunk costuming purposes.  I put the pin on Pop-pop's military side cap.  It looks pretty military-cogs-and-gears-chic, if I do say so myself (ignore me looking tired, I'm trying to stay up late to adjust to a new job with a night shift):



"Crap, I'm in the Army now!"
Thank you, Morgans Bounty, for this wonderful giveaway prize.  I absolutely love it, and it gave me much cheer at a rather difficult transitional time of my life.

Check out Morgans Bounty on Facebook, and eBay, and look out for the full-fledged official Morgans Bounty website, set to premiere online in October.

Also check out this merchant's other website, Karma Comfort, which she promises will be fully stocked and ready to supply customers looking for spiritual, metaphysical, inspirational, and other soul-rejuvenating items.