Wednesday, September 26, 2012

airship pirates in western pa?

There is something important to know about western PA (and keep in mind, this is a generalization of the majority of the population)- western PA is not exactly avant-garde regarding subcultures and alternative lifestyles, especially outside the city of Pittsburgh.  In an area where the local sports teams (the Steelers, the Penguins) are worshiped by most of the fanbase and sports jerseys and jeans are considered a fashion statement.  There are no goth/alternative culture clubs, few alternative clothing stores other than Hot Topic, and this city's underground music scene is virtually nonexistent.

So if you're looking for an active alternative scene, it is going to be difficult to find.  There is a lot of digging for information about local stores that cater to goth and alternative cultures as well as those actively trying to socialize together, and a lot of begging of local venues to host a goth or alternative night. 

"Alternative" also includes steampunk, industrial, and other strange interests.
image source: Airship Pirate Days

That's why I am rather in disbelief to discover that there is, in fact, a Pittsburgh Area Steampunk Pirate Convention in Washington, PA on November 24-25.  What's more remarkable is, as far as I can tell, no one from the Steel City Steam Society, our Pittsburgh steampunk group, seems to be a part of it or know anything about it.

So the site for this event looks worse than the worst that Geocities had to offer.  The important thing is some soul out these is organizing an Airship Pirate event just miles away from our Steel City, for only $8 for an adult ticket.

At worst it's the most boring, directionless convention in the history of the world that still provides me with the opportunity to meet other steampunkers.  At least it only cost me $8 and gas to go.  At best it's a pleasant surprise of a promising convention where I don't have to travel extensively to visit.

And hey, I'll be in the Pittsburgh area this Thanksgiving, so it can't hurt.

Crappy website aside, if you're in the area please check it out.  If not, I'll provide a report afterwards.  Who knows?  If it seems promising enough, mayhaps the SCSS can help out next year!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

the charmed neo-victorian life

Pinch me- surely this is a dream?

How did I manage to go from "miserable slave girl of world's most disorganized boss" to "museum marketing assistant to nicest coworkers and wonderful and competent boss?

Seriously, what did I do to deserve this?

Now I do know I work my butt off at work- there is simply too much to be done in a day.  But the fact that I never run out of work is just so remarkably different, in a good way, from my previous job, that I haven't yet ceased to see it for what it is: a pain in the arse.  The days just go by so much faster when you are engrossed in work that you believe in, even when it's as dull as scheduling that advertisement in the local newspaper for that new exhibition.

But the best part of this job is simply this phone call I received from a coworker organizing the grand Gala on October 12 to celebrate the opening of the art museum's Inventing the Modern World: Decorative Arts at the World's Fairs, 1851-1939 exhibition.

ROSE:  So Clementine, I was told you like to dress as a Victorian...

CLEMENTINE: (*chuckling*) Yeah...

ROSE:  Actually, I am calling to ask you if you would be interested in dressing up in Victorian clothing for the Gala.

CLEMENTINE: WHAT?! Yes!  I have just the dress for it!

ROSE: Actually we have period clothing loaned from the Pittsburgh Opera.  So if you want to do it-

CLEMENTINE: (interrupts) YES!

ROSE: -and know 2-3 people who would want to do it as well, that would be terrific.

CLEMENTINE: Ummm, I know people who would most likely want to do it, but they're not museum employees.

ROSE:  That's fine.  It's all volunteer work- they wouldn't be paid for it, but they'd get a free dinner and free admission to the museum.

CLEMENTINE:  Then yes! 

After that conversation I think I ran around the office squeeing for a full five minutes, while one of my coworkers teased me for being worried that they'd judge me for my neo-Victorian/steampunk leanings.

So now, dear readers, I get to dress like a Victorian at a formal event at a museum- as an usher and gallery ambassador, as well as a volunteer, in more accurate clothing than I actually have in my wardrobe.  *Squee*!

So if you're in Pittsburgh and plan on attending this gala at Carnegie Museum of Art, look out for myself and the other period-dressed event staff.  We'll make sure you don't miss a thing at this wonderful event!

Friday, September 21, 2012

neo-victorian virtual dolls

Want to design a neo-Victorian outfit, but have no art skills, design ideas, or cash for clothes?  Try an online doll maker, such as Azalea's Steampunk Fashion Game, Clockwork Couture, or TeodoraLaessa's Steampunk Dress-up game for rudimentary steampunk outfits.

Looking for more of a Lolita look?  Try the numerous Lolita games that the Azalea has, including the Gothic Lolita Fashion game.

Has anyone ever played around with a virtual dollmaker?  What do you think of them?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

ea rescheduled n. american tour dates

Great news for Pittsburgh Plague Rats!  Victorianindustrial artist Emilie Autumn is not skipping over the Steel City after all!

Emilie Autumn Pictures tumblr account
For the fourth tour in a row EA will be performing once again at Mr. Small's Theater in Millvale, PA, just outside the city of Pittsburgh.  Tickets go on sale tomorrow, so if you want to take advantage of the VIP options for this tour, jump on it ASAP! 

See the new tour dates at this link.

Mayhaps I'll see you there.

Monday, September 17, 2012

FLAG release party photos

Here are photos of the release party for Emilie Autumn's Fight Like a Girl album, which took place at at The Drake Hotel in Chicago on July 24.  These were posted on Emilie Autumn's Facebook page.

It looks like it was an amazing time, with a full-blown tea and dance party.  Great way to celebrate the release of a new album, Asylum style!

Friday, September 14, 2012

trailer for "anna karenina"

Here's a story I never thought I'd see adapted once more for the silver screen: Anna Karenina.  Having previously read this 19th century Russian novel by Leo Tolstoy, I have about as much sympathy for Anna Karenina as I ever had for Cathy Earnshaw of Wuthering Heights, which is not much.

But still, I am curious to see how Hollywood will represent this novel.  And if the true main character of the novel, Levin, will make any sort of significant contribution to the story.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

going feminine on the pith

Back in July I happened to be browsing a local vintage clothing shop when I came across a feminine pith helmet.  At that time I was working my two-week stint as a stock clerk after quitting my previous job as a personal assistant.  Money was tight and my boyfriend has been excellent with letting me borrow his more masculine pith helmet for my steampunk exploits, so I passed up the unnecessary item, albeit reluctantly.

Scott's pith helmet
Scott's pith helmet
Fast-forward two months later, money is better, and so are my thoughts regarding the pith helmet.  Not only is the boy toy moving an hour away at the end of the month, possibly taking the pith helmet with him, but the feminine pith helmet at the vintage shop has gone down in price by $17.
What other option was there but to buy it and make it my own?

New pith helmet
New pith helmet
New pith helmet
I think I'll add some tulle-like material to it, like a tulle ribbon on a spool that will hang down the back.  What do you think of that idea?

Meeting of the sexes
What treasures have you readers found in thrift stores and vintage shops?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

beauty tips to avoid, 19th century style

Thank you, mental_floss, for this list of awful 19th century beauty tips:
1. Bathe often(ish)…
At least once a week, but if possible, a lady should “take a plunge or sponge bath three times a week.”
2. … in a household cleaning solution.
What’s better than soap? Ammonia. “Any lady who has once learned its value will never be without it.” Just a capful or so in the bath works as well as soap and cleans the pores “as well as a bleach will do.”
3. Wash your eyes…
Nothing is as attractive as a sparkling eye. The best way to achieve this is by “dashing soapsuds into them.” If that’s not your style, perfume dropped into the eyes is a reasonable alternative. For the same bright-eyed look without the burn, “half a dozen drops of whisky and the same quantity of Eau de Cologne, eaten on a lump of sugar, is quite as effective.”
4. … but don’t wash your hair.
Water is “injurious” to the hair. Instead, wipe “the dust of the previous day” away on a towel. You can also brush your hair during any long, idle breaks in the day. 30 minutes is a good hair-brushing session.
5. And never, ever wash your face.
Simply rub the skin with “an ointment of glycerine” and “dry with a chamois-skin or cotton flannel.” One “beautiful lady” is admired who had “not washed her face for three years, yet it is always clean, rosy, sweet and kissable.”
6. And try not to wash your hands, either.
A well kept hand is soft, pale, and really, really dirty. Red hands can be relieved “by soaking the feet in hot water as often as possible,” but don’t dare touch water with your hands. As with the face, a regimen of ointment and cotton flannel should be used, and gloves worn for bathing. (Burroughs notes here that “dozens of women” with gorgeous hands “do not put them in water once a month.”)
7. Hang out naked by the window every day.
This is also called vapor-bathing, which is a different kind of vapor than the aforementioned ammonia soak, and one more likely to bring the attention of unwanted suitors. To take a proper vapor bath, “the lady denudes herself, takes a seat near the window, and takes in the warm rays of the sun.” If you’re a lady of the restless sort, dancing is advised. A good vapor bath is at least an hour long.
8. Go heavy-metal on the eyes.
Nothing says “handsome lady” like a lined lid. The proper solution is “two drachms of nitric oxid of mercury mixed with one of leaf lard.” Lacking these components, a woman may just as easily produce a nice effect with “a hairpin steeped in lampblack.”
9. Say goodbye to that fringe.
In your great-grandmother’s day, lashes had a tendency to become “unruly.” They were therefore “slightly trimmed every other day” with sharp, tiny scissors, because who wants eyelashes, anyway.
10. Suction!
Nice lips are essential to a woman’s prettiness. As early as possible, a girl should begin thinking about the shape of her lips and how it might be improved. Thin lips “are easily modified by suction,” which “draws the blood to the surfaces” and over time provides a “permanent inflation.” Thick lips “may be reduced by compression.” There are no instructions for this procedure.
11. And try not to be single.
The author’s female acquaintance, after disclosing to her favorite suitor that she had gone those three long years without using soap, found herself back on the market. A note from the gentleman read, “I can not reconcile my heart and my manhood to a woman who can get along without washing her face.”
So remember, ladies: Whatever methods are used, “it would be just as well to keep the knowledge of it from the gentlemen.” Because being married is better than ammonia-water for the complexion.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

book review: the sail weaver

image source: Muffy Morrigan's website
This is a seriously overdue book review for Muffy Morrigan's The Sail Weaver.  The author had been recommended to me by Three Ravens Books, a publisher in the Seattle area, a representative of which I had met at the Steampunk Empire Symposium back in April.  At that time I had offered to review anything they were working on.

I received The Sail Weaver about two months later, finished it off one month ago, and have only gotten to writing this review now.  I feel so lame.

The Sail Weaver is best described as a pseudo-fantasy/futuristic adventure novel that tells the tale of Tristan Weaver, a skilled Master Weaver who, with the use of magic, weaves sails that make airships fly through space.  When the Navy asks him to make the largest set of sails ever made for the best naval vessel ever designed, Tristan and his beloved Weaver's Guild, as well as the dragons with whom they work, are subjected to intrigue, plotting, and attempts on their lives as they try to save human and dragonkind from the devastation caused by the deadly Vermin, a relatively unknown race of evil creatures who exterminate all who come in contact with them.

Morrigan is quite skilled in her ability to make a story flow.  She doesn't recite the history or workings of her made-up fantasy world of airships and dragons in the narrative in one go- instead she inserts important information in a gradual, simple way, helping the reader understand the futuristic world of her novel.  Rather than give us all of the information of her world in one go, she feeds it to the reader when necessary, keeping the reader's interest without confusing them.  The politics between the Weavers' Guild and the Navy are also intricate and yet simply explained by Morrigan, making one feel that they have a grasp on why some of the intrigue in the story occurs, without giving out necessary information that would confuse readers or detract from the story.

There are also so many little details of daily life in this futuristic fantasy world subtly inserted into the narrative- such as the merchant areas of the space stations and the items for sale there, as well as Tristan's preference for spiced tea in the afternoons- that just help place the reader's senses into the story, making them more invested in this world of Morrigan's creation.

What most impresses me with The Sail Weaver, however, is Morrigan's obvious homage to late 18th/early 19th century naval history.  The "space ships" are modern versions of open ships-of-the-line from the Napoleonic era would have been- as are the uniforms and the ranks of the crew, with a few necessary deviations.  As someone who loves Napoleonic naval warfare, I was very appreciative of her presentation of the space Navy as similar to the great naval contingents of the Age of Sail.

There were a few weaknesses with the story.  One of them was the numerous grammar mistakes I received in my copy of the story- mostly a plethora of unnecessary commas.  I don't know if that is common with the print version, as I may have received an earlier version of the story than the one that finally went to print.  Another weakness I noticed was that, despite Morrigan claiming that feelings of loyalty towards the Weavers' Guild was, at best, iffy, it seemed that most characters were not "middle-of-the-road" about it.  Either they strongly supported the Guild unflinchingly (like Riggan, Thom Barrett, and Christopher Muher) or they vehemently opposed it (like Stemmer and Fuhrman).  A little iffy-ness on the part of the main players in the novel would have been more realistic, in my opinion.

Other than those weak points, The Sail Weaver is an enjoyable novel of space battles and magic, with a fantasy world that is both creative and yet not presented in a way that bogs the reader down with unnecessary details.  

Monday, September 10, 2012

military steampunk outfit

This past Saturday I went to a Meet 'n Greet of Steel City Steam Society members at a local Primanti's Bros. Not wanting to get any of my skirts wet in the heavy downpour we had in the morning, I decided to tone down the amount of cloth on my outfit by going with a more masculine look- military steampunk.

For this outfit I used a pair of purple linen capris from Ann Taylor Loft along with a white linen military style jacket that I bought in a store in Strasbourg, France, some 8 years ago.  The military side cap, Port Engineer armband, braid, and pins on my jacket were re-purposed from my grandfather's Korean War uniforms- something I debated about doing in this post.

The aviator pin I received when I won a drawing from Morgans Bounty in July.  Remember- if you purchase something from Karma Comfort (the online webstore of vendor Morgans Bounty) before 11/2/12 and use coupon code "CLEMENTINE," you will receive 10% off your purchase.

With a brass keyhole and key necklace from Gwillim & Black and simple black pearl earrings, my outfit was complete.

The Meet 'n Greet was terrific- a great opportunity for new steampunkers or SCSS members to meet some of the steampunkers in the area.  My friend Rose brought her dapper stuffed animal kiwi to the greet, who has evolved to the height of neo-Victorian sophistication.

He's even got a pocketwatch and top hat!

Thanks to Drake for putting together such a nice, casual event!

Friday, September 7, 2012

victorian war streets of pittsburgh

image source: Wikipedia
The Mexican War Streets is a district of houses within the North Side neighborhood of Pittsburgh.  It's well known for its gorgeously restored Victorian-era rowhouses.  Built in the former Allegheny City, these houses were once stately homes for the wealthy.

The Mexican War Streets were laid out between 1848 and 1855 and named after generals and battles of the  Mexican-American War.

For those in the Pittsburgh area this weekend, you can see these houses for yourself when the 43rd annual House & Garden Tour of the Mexican War Streets occurs, according to the Mexican War Streets Historical Society's website:
Join us for the Forty-Third Annual House & Garden in the historic Mexican War Streets.

Sunday, September 9
11:00 am – 5:00 pm
$18 advance • $20 day of tour
Groups of 10 or more $15 per person
Purchase Now

This year’s tour features an exciting selection of homes and gardens with a wide range of decorating sensibilities and features, thanks to all the wonderful neighbors who open up their homes.

In addition to the tour homes and gardens, Monterey Street hosts a free midway with antique cars, vendors and artists, and food from local restaurants.

For those who are interested in historical homes, this tour should prove to be a treat.

image source: Wikipedia

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

wardenclyffe today

The fundraising campaign for "Let's Build a Goddamn Tesla Museum" has raised well over its goal amount of $850,000 to buy Wardenclyffe, Tesla's New York laboratory.

The additional funds will be used to make much-needed repairs to the buildings at Wardenclyffe.  Matt Inman has kindly linked donors to the following YouTube video, which shows the current condition of the buildings.

My main question is: What was Wardenclyffe used for after Tesla vacated the premises?

Monday, September 3, 2012