Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Of Clockworks, Corsets and Iron Horses

Picture from Gail Carriger.

Among my many interests, I am in love with Steampunk.

Steampunk is a sub-genre within fantasy/science-fiction, set in a re-imagined 19th century, usually around the time of the Victorian era, where advanced technologies have been created, but are still operated by steam-power and turn-of the century means. It's the fictional realization of the future, the way H.G. Wells and Jules Verne imagined it. It's industrial meets romance, cyborgs meets corsets, and computers meet dirigibles. I love the creative and novel ideas of steampunk. Just like when you eat something that is sweet and sour, and how those contrasting opposites make for an exciting dish, I love how steampunk blends Victorian romance with gearhead sci-fi fantasy.

Occasionally steampunk slips into mainstream culture. If you've ever read or seen The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, The Prestige, Stardust, Young Sherlock Holmes, or H.G. Wells' The Time Machine, then you've had a glimpse into the steampunk world. If not, then just Google "steampunk images" or "steampunk costumes" or search for "steampunk" on etsy and you'll see some exteremly fine, hand-made examples. (I must resist the urge to buy up all the steampunk jewelry on etsy. I love, love, love it!) The Steampunk Workshop also showcases some beautiful work. If I had a zillion dollars, I would commission one of their computer/keyboard mods like this one. Isn't it just wonderful?

Speaking of which, I'm pretty sure that one of their computers appears in a new TV show that I'm kind of in love with right now on the SyFy network called Warehouse 13. The show follows two Secret Service agents, Myka and Pete, who are reassigned to a mysterious government warehouse, where dangerous supernatural objects are kept, such as Lewis Carroll's enchanted mirror, Edgar Alan Poe's cursed writing pen, etc. For each episode, they are tasked to retrieve missing objects and investigate reports of new ones, all under the guidance of their super-smart, yet bumbling superior, Artie, and with the assistance of young gearhead genius, Claudia. The show is set in the modern day, but the artifacts they retrieve and the tools they use to find and store them definately have a steampunk flair. Check out the picture below of their "tesla gun", named after inventor and electrical engineer, Nikola Tesla. Appropriately enough, their tesla gun shoots a bolt of electricity that stuns the victim.
In some ways it reminds me of another show that I used to watch from the late 80's called Friday the 13th (no relation to the movies of the same name). In that show, all the objects in an antique shop were cursed, and in each episode the team tried to recover an object before it hurt anyone. That show had more of a horror twist, whereas Warehouse 13 has more of a sci-fi/steampunk twist. The season finale of the show airs next Tuesday (sorry I didn't blog about it sooner) but you can watch full episodes on SyFy Rewind online. If you've been watching this show, I'd love for you to leave me a comment. What do you think - is it fun, or does it cross the line into campy? What was your favorite episode? Favorite character?

It seems like steampunk might further be finding it's way to the mainstream, not just with this show, but with a new video game coming out from Disney called Epic Mickey. The game will be released for the Wii, and will be a trip through a fantastical dystopian Magic Kingdom. Below is a concept art image from the game.

If you've never heard of steampunk before, leave me a comment and let me know what you think. (It's okay to say it's weird.) Also, if you like the genre, I would definitely love any book or movie recommendations! Until next time, keep your goggles firmly on your head!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Musical Interlude - Muse

I promise that a real post will be arriving shortly, until then, enjoy this musical interlude. I've done a post like this in the past, but I'm thinking about making this a regular Monday installment. Yeah, yeah... I can hear you now. "But D, you can't even stick to your Tue./Thur. regular posting schedule. Am I to believe you're going to add another posting day to your non-routine?" What can I say? All I know is that it would be fun to start out each week with a little music to get our blood pumping.

This is a live video of the band Muse playing "Hysteria" from their album Absolution. I think the album is near perfection, and this song is one of my favorites. The bridge/guitar solo in the middle of the song is near genius and takes me to my happy place every time I hear it. They made an offical video for this song, which is kind of trippy and reminiscent of a scene from Pink Floyd's The Wall (you can watch it here if you're curious), but I wanted to link to a live video so you could see them in all their awesomeness. When I first found out they were only a 3-piece band, I couldn't believe it, considering the massive sound they create. I figured it was all studio magic, that is, until I saw them live in concert. These three guys worked HARD and ROCKED the house! I was impressed.

Their new album, The Resistance, will be released tomorrow; just in time for my birthday next week...ahem... for those of you to whom that information would be of importance. (wink wink, nudge nudge). Does my husband even read my blog anymore?

So enjoy the video and, if you know nothing about Muse, be sure to check out their other videos for "Starlight", "Time is Running Out", and "Sing for Absoultion". While you do that, I'm going to sit here and see how many seconds it takes for Raven to leave a comment about how she dislikes this band and the lead singer's "whiny" voice. (By the way, I welcome dissenting opinions; it's part of what makes life - and art - interesting.)

"Hysteria" by Muse

It's bugging me,
Grating me,
And twisting me around.
Yeah, I'm endlessly,
Caving in,
And turning inside out.

'Cause I want it now.
I want it now.
Give me your heart and your soul.
And I'm breaking out,
I'm breaking out.
Last chance to lose control.

It's holding me,
Morphing me,
And forcing me to strive,
To be endlessly cold within,
And dreaming I'm alive.

'Cause I want it now.
I want it now.
Give me your heart and your soul.
And I'm breaking out,
I'm breaking out.
Last chance to lose control.

And want you now,
I want you now.
I'll feel my heart implode.
And I'm breaking out,
Escaping now,
Feeling my faith erode.