SMT: Steampunk Explorations

Nominated for an Oscar and for a BAFTA award, The Mysterious Explorations of Jasper Morello is bringing 110% of the awesome to Sunday Morning Theatre this week.

The silhouette animation was developed by director Anthony Lucas and you can get all kinds of info about Gothia, Jasper Morello and upcoming features & films from jaspermorello.com and read an interview with Anthony Lucas at Reader’s Voice.

The world of Jasper Morello is one of many works in the genre known as steampunk. Wikipedia says that steampunk:

…is a subgenre of fantasy and speculative fiction that came into prominence in the 1980s and early 1990s. The term denotes works set in an era or world where steam power is still widely used—usually the 19th century, and often set in Victorian era England—but with prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy, such as fictional technological inventions like those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, or real technological developments like the computer occurring at an earlier date. Other examples of steampunk contain alternate history-style presentations of “the path not taken” of such technology as dirigibles or analog computers; these frequently are presented in an idealized light, or a presumption of functionality.

…Although many works now considered seminal to the genre were published in the 1960s and 1970s, the term steampunk originated in the late 1980s as a tongue in cheek variant of cyberpunk. It seems to have been coined by the science fiction author K. W. Jeter, who was trying to find a general term for works by Tim Powers (author of The Anubis Gates, 1983), James Blaylock (Homunculus, 1986) and himself (Morlock Night, 1979 and Infernal Devices, 1987) which took place in a 19th-century (usually Victorian) setting and imitated conventions of actual Victorian speculative fiction such as H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine.

Like many others, I first read William Gibson and Bruce Sterling’s 1990 novel The Difference Engine before wandering off into Tim Powers and books like The Anubis Gates. I was unaware that steampunk is apparently becoming a subculture that is influencing film, music and fashion.

Curiously enough, a friend messaged me from a large steampunk convention last weekend and I also just read What Is Steampunk? A Subculture Infiltrating Films, Music, Fashion, More.

The photo was taken by Drhaggis and features the steampunk band Abney Park (entry is kind of hidden) – more about Abney Park in their video below. It’s part of his Steampunk & Clockwork set (slideshow). He writes the blog Slashboing, which looks pretty cool.

Yeah, it ends early … I assume that’s some kind of inside code. Check out Abney Park’s videos.


Graveyard Shift

The Graveyard Book by Neil GaimanAs you may be aware, Neil Gaiman is my favorite writer. In addition to the fact that he can spin a tale like nobody I know, he also seems to be testing the bounds of the process of storytelling with his unabashed use of blogs, video and other web tech. On his wondrously weird website Mouse Circus, he is posting videos of his 9-city video tour (Oct 1-9). At each stop, he reads one chapter from his new work The Graveyard Book.

Check out Neil reading of The Graveyard Book. If you haven’t read one of his books, might I recommend fixing that with this.

The photo is Untitled by Jenny Murray, who says that while it wouldn’t normally occur to her, she thinks that this photo should be viewed on black. She’s a serial violater of Rule #6, so watch your step.

Dive into her Flickriver because she’s one of the best. Word.

Freedom’s License

a bike that can only run on special roads by vrogy

Is The Listener License Coming? on Mashable introduced me to Tales from the Afternow, a pretty dark look at a future ruled by mega-corporations and powerful governments. I really encourage you to listen to the first episode, a sort of podcast from the future that looks at the rise of this dystopia with a frighteningly plausible fiction at its heart: the Listener’s License.

Mark Hopkins writes that there are a lot of positive developments, but that the silvery cloud has a dark lining:

Then on the other hand , you have weeks like this week that truly give you pause to wonder where exactly it is we’re headed, as global media companies tighten their grip on the freedom of humans to communicate and share information … Just in the last few clump of days, France’s President Sarkozy has vowed to criminalize file-sharing and America’s Congress has decided force Universities to enforce copyright law in order to receive Federal funds, and while Canada has OKed piracy for personal use, the announcement comes hot on the heels of a number of high profile take-downs.

Now the MPAA has created a very invasive piece of software designed to target illegal copyrighted materials on a university’s network and servers, a release that very suspiciously coincides with the proposed legislation currently before Congress. I’ve got good money that should the Federally mandated copyright enforcement become law, a mandate to use this MPAA software (that, incidentally, opens up the entire university’s private data to the MPAA) will be soon to follow.

Mark writes that though he doesn’t wear a tinfoil hat and that he’s not tryng to shill for any organization that will end legal abuse of humans trying to communicate. He says:

I think, though that we are at the dawn of a new age where everyone is not only a consumer of media from creators big and small, but also creators themselves. Right now is a pivotal point where we can either take ownership of what we create and consume, or see that ownership taken away from us by either corporations or governments acting on behalf of them.

I’m not a tinfoil hat wearer, but I do think that speech – communication in text, images, video and music – is the vital heart of our freedom and we all need to work where we can to expand our rights to speak freely and share our speech all over the world. A new world is being born, and the last thing we need to do is allow elected officials who couldn’t surf their way out of their default homepage to lay the foundation.

The photo is titled a bike that can only run on special roads, and it’s part of vrogy’s DRM is Like set.

Beachcombing

Beachcombers

Sometimes the internet makes me wish that I enjoyed reading (and writing) on the computer more. Since it doesn’t, here’s something 2.5 minutes and totally absurd. If you don’t mind a little reading, here’s 700 words or less on love.

Every so often the news feed washes up something that I don’t have any idea how to file. Strangely, this is the first time I’ve ever come across Porn Sunday and Grand Rapids in the same article.

Seems like someone who spends as much time as me combing the beach would have a photo for this. Maybe, but none I like as well as this. Jen says “best viewed large“.

The Most Wonderful Day of the Year

Well … maybe not, but April 1st has always been one of my favorites. One reason is because I was blessed with a father who took great pleasure in looking at the inherent possiblilities for humor in any situation. He even went so far as to create Baxter University, a ficticious university … and university newspaper … and radio program, but that's another story. Anyway, I like it and have a lot of fun with it. Continue reading

Aliens Ate My Dinner

ORIGINALLY APPEARED IN THE NORTHERN MICHIGAN JOURNAL

Aliens Ate My DinnerIt all began sometime in late July, on one of those nights so hot and humid and still that the only thing that differentiates it from the day is the fact that it’s dark. We had had one of my favorite meals, chili so hot it makes you weep with cornbread so moist you barely need to dunk it in your bowl.

“It’s too damn hot for chili and besides, it makes you restless,” she had complained even as she browned the beef.

“A little more cayenne,” I pleaded. “Makes you sweat.”
Continue reading