Springingtiger's Blog


I Won’t Sing The Asylum Blues.

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I am a little disappointed that my plan to attend the Asylum in Lincoln again this year will not come to fruition. However the simple fact is that I cannot afford it. I am not blaming the ticket prices which are not at all unreasonable, at £36 for a weekend wristband that covers and enables participation in events for four days (and probably Thursday evening) that’s less than a tenner a day for a lot of fun and access to the most amazing Steampunk markets. Of course tickets to Evening Events add to the cost, but with a city full of Steampunks there’s plenty of fun to be had without paying for evening entertainment. I should point out that while tickets for the Steam Powered Giraffe concert are £25 (worth every penny and cheap for the BEST BAND in the Universe) most of the other evening events only cost £12.00 and that’s positively cheap these days! Sadly one also needs to factor in the costs of accommodation, transport, and food and my budget won’t stretch that far.

Of course not going to Asylum provides no block to my Steampunkery. I have written several times in my blog and in the Glasgow Ubiquitous E. Steampunk Society Newsletter about how Steampunk accommodates itself to a limited budget. Although the Asylum is out this year, and I’m sure there are others in a similar position, there are still plenty of local opportunities for unexpurgated Steampunkery. Most countries now host a number of Comic Cons and our Glasgow group takes advantage of them. As well as the Cons there are plenty of other events to which our group is actively invited so there are plenty of occasions to enjoy. It’s true that these events are not the same as being surrounded by thousands of fellow Steampunks for a weekend, but they do allow what one might call ‘missionary work’. After each event we attend we receive requests to join GUESS. Although we may only have a handful of members at an event our online group is growing and it’s not always the same members who attend each event.

Perhaps the hardest part of not going to Asylum is reading the posts of all those excited people on ‘Welcome To The Asylum‘ who are preparing to attend. However, on the plus side, this does at least hold out the promise of some wonderful photograph albums to peruse in September. There are so many events I can’t attend like Wild West Con and the Steampunk World’s Fair, but whose photos provide pleasure and inspiration; this year the Asylum will be another of them.

One of the pleasures of the Asylum is watching civilians walking through the markets and gradually becoming Steampunked. That’s the first step for some, hopefully it leads on to crafting one’s own Steampunk creations. Events like the Asylum are a huge boost for one’s Steampunk soul, but life has to go on and so does one’s Steampunkery. Perhaps the true power of Steampunk is not that it can bring thousands of Steampunks together on the Castle Green during Asylum, but that it can provide them with pleasure and purpose throughout the other three hundred and sixty days of the year.

I won’t be at Asylum this year, but I won’t suffer the Asylum Blues, my life steams on regardless. However to those who are going may I wish you all a wonderful time and good weather. If it rains there’s usually cover somewhere, last year as a shower came in I found myself in a tent full of corsets feeling like a character from Father Ted. I hope you have fun and make new discoveries. Take time to appreciate the organisers (The Victorian Steampunk Society) and volunteers too, they do a terrific job. Oh, and please post lots of photos to the Welcome To The Asylum Page, we’d all love to see what you get up to.

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Newsletter Time Again


Now blogging must be put to simmer gently on a backburner. My writing focus for the next couple of weeks must be upon the editing of the second edition of the Glasgow Ubiquitous E Steampunk Society Newsletter.

What may readers expect this time? Hopefully there will be reports from the Society’s Officers (as yet zero received). There are TWO workshops, one on Steampunk goggle customisation from the Sky Captain, the other a fascinator by Ambika of Sundara Run. A review of what members have been up to over the quarter from Comic Con and acting as extras in July through to MCM in September via  another ‘Walking Workshop’. There will also be a report on the Asylum Steampunk Festival in Lincoln. There are also articles from Karen McKay and Iain Cameron and we have been promised a page of Steampunk humour (no I don’t know what that means either!).
I have a GUESS leaflet signed by all the members of Steam Powered Giraffe to be given away as a prize along with a voucher to spend at our favorite Steampunk stall, but a prize for what? You will have to wait and see or, to put it another way, wait until I’ve set the competition!
I hope the newsletter will be released by the end of October before NaNoWriMo begins in November. So no time to chat, I’d better get on with it!



The Steamimg Web

GUESS

When I started this piece I had thought to produce some sort of guide to internet sites for Steampunks. I have to admit to a gross naivete. I dare say someone might collate such a guide, but it’s not going to be me! I had to start again from scratch and I have despaired of ever completing it.

There is a question often asked and answered with as many variant replies as there are questioners seeking an answer. I will not presume to provide a definition, but I am interested in what Steampunk is in societal terms. Is it a movement?

I am a member of quite a few Steampunk groups on Facebook, but they have no formal relationship with each other so we are certainly not a movement like the Socialist International, nor an organisation like FIFA, but we are connected and we are international. So what is Steampunk?wp-image-135174496jpg.jpeg

Within Steampunk there are many organised (or more usually semi organised) groups. Many of them are, one might say, evangelical in intent; for example it is one of the goals of the Glasgow Ubiquitous E Steampunk Society ‘To promote the appreciation of the Steampunk cultural movement.’ Some groups exist primarily to organise events like the Victorian Steampunk Society who bring us The Asylum in Lincoln, and there are pages for Steampunk events all round the world. There is an incredible amount of overlap as I have discovered when clicking on various people tagged in pictures, many of whom I discover follow the same groups as I. I suspect that just as the internet has no central control yet connects people all over the world, Steampunk is a cultural web of like minded people. I was going to say eccentrics, however there are so many of us I am not sure eccentric is the correct term.

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Me with SPG (my life is complete!)

The GUESS Aims describe Steampunk as a cultural movement, but is it? I know there are people writing ‘Steampunk literature’, and comics. There are many Steampunk musical performers like Steam Powered Giraffe, The Cog is Dead, Abney Park, Before Victoria, Steampunk Stompers, Alice’s Night Circus; the list is too long for me to include it all, but when you listen you find that within Steampunk the music includes every genre from Jazz to punk rock and folk to cabaret. Perhaps there is no Steampunk music as such, but rather Steampunk is a sensibility that informs the music and also the literature, the poetry, painting that appears under the umbrella Steampunk.

To appreciate Steampunk we have to approach it with the mind of Sherlock Holmes and discover for ourselves the connections between its many parts. For example one might begin with one Facebook group like ‘Welcome To The Asylum‘ click on any name that is tagged into a photo and then check out the groups they follow. Of course if that feels too intrusive one could just search Facebook or any social network under the tag Steampunk to be presented with a plethora of groups to investigate. Were I to list all the wonderful groups I have discovered like White Rose Yorkshire Steampunks I’d be here forever there are so many, so have fun!

As for the question ‘What is Steampunk?’ I am more convinced than ever that it is dscf2243something I shall never be able to answer to everyone’s satisfaction, I shall be pleased if someday I can answer it to mine own.



What Price Fun?
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Lincoln Ukulele Club

Today a friend asked me whether Asylum was expensive. I suppose the interpretation of expensive is a matter of opinion and may depend on a person’s financial resources. I must say I felt that a weekend pass for just under thirty eight pounds was excellent value given that the festival begins on Thursday evening (Okay I know the programme ostensibly starts on Friday and the opening isn’t until Saturday) and ends on Monday evening. When you divide the cost of the wristband by the number of days the event lasts it is cheap compared to a comic con.

 

The ticketed events can add quite a lot to one’s spend. The tickets for the Steam Powered Giraffe concert were nearly twenty five pounds and worth many times that! Apart from SPG we were also treated to two excellent support acts: Alice’s Night Circus (for some reason I keep calling it Alice’s Night Garden…I’m such a Tombliboo!) and Before Victoria. I have it on the authority of a young person that twenty five pounds is perfectly reasonable for a gig with two supports. Because I started my bookings a bit late I only bought tickets to one evening entertainment, however many people were content not to buy tickets and just to spend their evenings socialising. The Bus Bar with its upstairs cocktail bar remained open to eight o’ clock, but thereafter Lincoln is well served with public houses.

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Steam Powered Giraffe Q&A

As I mentioned in a previous post, for the price of the wrist band one gets access to a lot of events. There was plenty of free musical entertainment around the Castle and Westgate Centre. BJ Skinner playing the Blues, Morris Dancing from Poacher Morris and from the Raven’s Morris (Steampunk Morris Dancers), there was even Steampunk Belly dancing…no, really! Talking of dancing the Scarlet Butterfly was quite amazing. Alice’s Night Circus had a free gig at the Castle. For me my biggest surprise was discovering I like Ukulele bands thanks to the Lincoln Ukelele Club.

 

There were four markets of which I have already written and a food court with a bus dispensing gin…and anything else one might need like an emergency martini.

 

There were some amazing panels, talks, and workshops. So many I couldn’t get to all I wanted. I did go to what to me was essential, the Steam Powered Giraffe Q & A. However I now know all about Gin, how to use Simplicity sewing patterns (I think I need a bustle!), and how to use EVA to create my own armour, or just about anything else for that matter. There were talks on how to organise Steampunk Event, the history of airships, what Steampunk is in Steampunk 101, and advice on almost every aspect of writing a steampunk novel. Workshops included things as diverse as circus skills, making greetings cards, and Steampunk Knitting, yes that’s a thing! There wre workshops on making prosthetics, exo-suits. Accompanying the display of Gary Nicholl’s ‘Imaginarium’ there was a talk explaining the magic. There was even advice on copyright pitfalls facing those wanting to steampunk various fandoms. In the Meet and Merch tents fans got an opportunity to meet their heroes, get autographs, selfies, and buy stuff…SPG ran out of merchandise there were so many fans!

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Major Q talks EVA

On top of all this there was much more insanity, the Costume Competition (some participants put as much effort into their character’s description as into the costume), The Queens Parade inspected by Queen Victoria herself…honestly! An amazing array of steampunk versions of super heroes and villains. Tea duelling, obviously. Tea pot racing, Wacky Racers, Jet pack races, and opportunities to shoot each other with foam darts.

 

Was the Asylum expensive? I would have to say no. However was it worth every penny I spent? That’s an unequivocal yes and had I the opportunity and the money (there’s always a snag) I would happily have bought tickets to more events.



Another Day
August 28, 2016, 00:31
Filed under: food, Steampunk, Travel | Tags: , ,

Perhaps I should say another great day. I am not at all biased by meeting Steam Powered Giraffe and getting my photo taken standing between Rabbit and The Spine…okay, yes I’m totally biased, but it would have been a great day anyway. Perhaps not as great, but none the less, a great day.

Lincolnshire is a beautiful county and my day began with a drive through it, along rural roads, to get to Lincoln. Lincoln was awash with Steampunks of all shapes and sizes and all ages from all over the world. I was well impressed by one gentleman from the Gambia who managed to stand out in a crowd of Steampunks by wearing Steampunked African traditional dress. I did manage to get to some sessions, but I could so easily have spent the whole day just walking around watching people. 

The festival appears to have become a tourist attraction also for non-Steampunks who were having a great time watching the Steampunks and taking photos. They were also wandering around the stalls on the various Steampunk markets and I noticed a significant number adding hats and goggles to their t-shirts and jeans. I overheard two young ladies looking at the stalls outside the castle as one described to the other the type of Steampunk look she was going to put together.

I could so easily have spent a couple of hundred pounds on a magnificent gun cleaning with polished brass and copper, unfortunately I didn’t have that kind of cash in my wallet and passed on the opportunity. Asylum presents some serious shopping opportunities with items to suit every budget and some to exceed most budgets. I found myself more than once smiling stupidly and exclaiming “Shiny!”. My favourite overheard comment was, “I don’t know what to do, take photos or shop!” I could appreciate her dilemma. 

Were we still compelled to use film in our cameras, I could have exhausted by budget entirely on film stock without exhausting the photo opportunities. There were just so many amazing sights I eventually found I was suffering Camera fatigue.I might have wanted to capture everything, I had reached a state of overwhelm and stopped.


The day didn’t conclude with getting my photo taken with SPG. My younger brother took me to Ethan’s Japanese Steak House to celebrate my birthday (No it’s not my birthday yet, but I won’t be in Lincoln on my birthday). I won’t write more here as it deserves its own post as well as a glowing review on Trip Advisor. Can life get any better than this? Oh yes, tomorrow I’m going to see SPG in concert! For now I’m just going to look at my photo with SPG them go to sleep.



What a Day, WOW!

The Poppy Wave

It was Sam Luke I spotted first and I was confirmed it was him when I saw Bunny Bennett to his left, she is a pretty young girl. Where did I see them? On the Steep Hill in Lincoln down from the Bailgate. Sadly I was too gobsmacked to speak. However by the time David Bennett came, shortly behind them I had found my voice and what did I say? “Look irs the Spine!” 
My brother replied, “What?”

“The Spine!” I exclaimed too loudly. However David heard and gave me a wave. I am chuffed. That was just one high spot in a day of high spots.

Last night, having at last, made it to Lincoln I went to the Advanced Guard, a party for Asylum weekend ticket holders who had turned up early. (Guinness £3.00 a pint) A crazy transvestite comedian and a soprano mistress of Off Coloratura Innuendo. Good start.

This morning, in beautiful sunshine, I drank tea in my brother’s garden before joining him on a short cycle ride. Then it was into Lincoln for the Asylum beginning with Virgin’s Meet for first time attendees. Some chatting with creative types before visiting the Market in The Methodist Hall. I was saved from buying a ridiculously well priced cap only by my big head. However there were some amazingly creative people peddling some amazing craftsmanship.


I bumped into my brother and his wife in the castle and so together  we went to see the Poppy Wave which had been at the Tower of London. It was as we went in search of tea that we saw the members of Steam Powered Giraffe.

The best thing about being too late to get tickets to all the evening events I’d have liked is that I get to spend more time with my brother and his wife. This evening we drove to Skegness, walked along the Front then had Fish and Chips at Tony’s before going home. The wonderful thing is that I have a whole day of fun ahead of me tomorrow so I’d better get some sleep now!



Does a Steam Powered Giraffe Have a Brass Neck?

 

In the last forty some years I have never visited my younger brother on my own. That’s not a surprise I rarely travel without my wife except for study purposes or sometimes on retreat. We are not estranged, it’s just that our paths rarely cross. We have our own lives in different countries and generally have little reason to see each other. As most people know by now I tend not to do the whole family and friends thing that humans do. I don’t think I love any the less, I just don’t see the need to express it and as long as someone is not brought to the focus of my attention they tend not to impinge upon my consciousness. It always comes as a surprise when I encounter someone with grey hair who was young and dark haired when I last saw them, I have little awareness of the passage of time or as my wife says of me, I have the biggest ‘Now’ of anyone she knows. I haven’t been avoiding Jeremy, I’ve just been letting time slip away instead of acting on my intention to keep in touch more. I think I probably use Facebook as a substitute for the telephone…I don’t like telephones much.

I have been posting quite a few things on Facebook related to Steampunk, even more since I became ‘Chief Engineer’ (Secretary) of The Glasgow Ubiquitous E Steampunk Society. I was pleasantly surprised when Jeremy tagged me into a link to The Asylum Steampunk Festival in Lincoln with an invitation to stay at his home. Now I knew that Steam Powered Giraffe’s only UK dates are at this years Asylum Festival, I knew from You Tube that I would love to see them live, but I didn’t know how to make it happen. My brother’s invitation was better than Christmas!

I checked that tickets to the main Steam Powered Giraffe concert were available and asked Jeremy if he’d like to come to the concert. He obviously did some research and said he’d have loved to, but that tickets were no longer available. I had seen the night before that there had been over ninety left on the sight I looked at. I checked again then phoned him, overseas on his mobile forgetting about roaming charges. Moments later he phoned back, obviously aware of the charges because he kept it short. He said what he needed to say, Yes. And so my brother and I are going to a concert together, something I cannot remember ever having done before. I must admit that of all the things I might have imagined bringing Jeremy and me together, I would not have anticipated his indulging my love of Steampunk would have been the thing to do it. Anyway that’s our tickets bought and I am quite excited and, if I am to be honest, I am looking forward to spending a weekend with Jeremy and his wife as much as I am to the concert and a weekend of unbridled steampunkery. (Is there even such a word as ‘steampunkery’? There should be. There is now!)