About Me

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I am the creator of steampunk reviews, a woman in love with history, mystery, and the fine things of life, though not necessarily in that order. As a self-styled aristocrat, I've aimed to cultivate an old world (real or constructed via movies being irrelevant to me) sense of elegance and taste, and have been going to great lengths to fulfill that goal. It is my aim to live a life that is enjoyable, rather than one obsessed with being 'perfectly good for me in every way'.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Dorian Gray Corner 2: How to avoid being gauche

Any time I am at conventions or other gatherings of steampunks, I am often struck by the skill with which those in attendance have assembled their outfits.  This does not, however, prevent certain individuals from making some truly appalling fashion choices.  Often, this is simply a matter of bad judgment, and with that spirit in mind the Dorian Gray corner has returned to provide some insight into how not to walk out the door in an outfit of such atrocious construction that it could make even a blind person wince.
1.        Before you even THINK about buying something for an outfit, as a steampunk, it behooves you to make damned sure that what you are purchasing is, in fact, unique.  I am sure we have all seen the infamous steampunk octopus – a metal cut out whose ubiquity on Etsy (and Regretsy) has becomes veritable legend.  Don’t show up at a con decked out in the generic ‘steampunk’ refuse that talentless hacks have taken to peddling in the hope of a quick buck and at the expense of any number of good clocks. 
2.       Avoid shoddy workmanship like the PLAGUE.  Remember, if you have an opportunity to wear a full steampunk outfit, you want to SHINE, and if your outfit was clearly constructed cheaply, it WILL show. 
3.       Dress to your body type.  Anyone can look stylish, but it hinges on a person being willing to dress to their body, rather than trying to force yourself into an outfit that may suit an idealized human being.  As per example, I have an hourglass figure, with emphasis on both the top and bottom of the hourglass.  As such, I will not wear a vest unless it has a corseted back, as a regular vest will simply hang straight from my upper assets and give the impression that I am an extremely fat cylinder.  So, even though I love vests, I forego them. 
4.       Consider what you will be doing in this getup.  Do not wearing revealing clothes in subzero weather, do not wear a long-line corset if you intend to be able to bend over, and don’t wear high heels if you are hoping to run anywhere.  Apply some common sense. 
5.       Once you have gotten into your outfit, take a look in the mirror.  Then walk away.  Then return and look again.  If you can, view the outfit in several different kinds of light.  Zero in on anything that jars with the rest of the outfit, and no matter how much it pains you, remove these from the outfit.
6.       Beware of looking ‘clunky’.  Steampunk outfits tend to lend themselves to a lot of gadgets, and this is fine to a certain degree.  One must remember, however, that it behooves one to adhere to rule 2.  If you’re getting dressed up, make sure you’re exhibiting only the best of your collection, and always adhere to Coco Chanel’s maxim that, before one goes out the door, take off one accessory. 
7.       Make sure your attitude suits your outfit.  After all, if you have the chance to dress the part, it’s also time to act the part.  So don’t be afraid to play your role to the hilt. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Bevy of Steampunk Beverages

I am not ashamed to say that I love a good drink.  With few exceptions, I have found most wines, beers, and hard liquor in all its varied forms to be wonderful, wonderful things.  Of course that train of thought has led me to eventually seek out the best and the brightest – as well as the strangest – in the realms of alcohol.  So, for your delectation and delight, some examples of beer, wine, and general booze that I classify as steampunk!

1.        Kraken Rum:  This probably goes without saying, all things considered.  The label/bottle alone are extremely good reasons to buy it.  The rum itself, however, may take some getting used to for those more accustomed to Captain Morgan and Bacardi.  It packs a serious, burning punch when you drink it straight (as myself and some of my more adventurous friends have been known to do.) In mixed drinks it loses that nasty/lovely caustic element and goes down nice and smooth.  The flavor is heavy on vanilla, with other spices like cinnamon and cloves acting as ‘backup dancers’, if you will.  (Please note, you must say ‘Release the Kraken’ when you open it.  It’s the law.)

2.       Steam Whistle Beer:  I mentioned this umpteen blog posts ago, but Steam Whistle, if you can get it, is an excellent, light, Canadian pilsner, eminently drinkable.  It goes great with luncheon type food and is very refreshing.  The label itself is what causes me to class it as steampunk, and the brilliant green bottle is also very pretty to look at.  One small problem; I haven’t been able to find it in the US, despite much scowering. 

3.       Ichabod ale:  From the New Holland brewery, this is a wonderful seasonal beer.  They use pumpkins in the mix (which I cannot taste) and spices (which I most definitely can).  The end result is one of the few dark-er beers that I actually enjoy.  (As a rule of thumb I almost always drink IPAs, partially because I love how they taste but also because most people don’t like them and therefore won’t steal mine.)

4.       Midas Touch:  Derived from the chemical sampling of the inside of an ancient, cauldron, this stuff is apparently pretty damn close to what ancient people used to get sloshed on.  It’s good, albeit pricey (saffron is used in the brewing process), middle of the range on the sliding scale of pale to dark beers, and while I don’t know that it’s one of my favorites, it’s still a great way to strike up conversation at parties.

5.       Biere de Mars:  An awesome Belgian beer, this stuff comes in an ENORMOUS bottle, and you will be tempted to drink it all in one go.  And in this case, you can give in to temptation.  The stuff is amazing -light, bubbly, and otherworldly.  It makes me want to climb aboard the Enterprise or the TARDIS and go whizzing through space.

I have not, however, been able to find a steampunk gin.  Any suggestions on that front are welcome. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

When a film fan becomes a film fail

I love art films. That’s just a given. I adore Pan’s Labyrinth, the 1979 Nosferatu, the short films of the Brothers Quay, and Koyaanisqatsi, amongst many other films of that ilk. Often, the weirder and more disturbing the movie is, the more likely it is that I am all over it like ants on a sugar heap. I really and truly love when films push my boundaries and expect me to think for myself. This, however, does not prevent me from enjoying more mainstream works. I adored Priest, Thor, Cowboys and Aliens, and the Hangover 2, and that’s just this summer’s roster of movies that I saw. Did I consider any of them to be extremely deep or meaningful? No, not really, but they entertained me, made me roll with laughter, hold my breath with suspense, and generally have a grand time with a bucket of popcorn on my lap.
So now, I offer a heartfelt rant to the world. All you snobby film viewers who insist on criticizing any film that doesn’t fit your concept of high cinema, please remove your collective head from your collective ass. I had to put up with one of your kind, a self-centered hipster who refused to give any credit to the actors (in her eyes everything was due to the magic of the director) or to speculate on the meanings of particularly arcane movies. She drove me crazy. All she ever did was quote essays about the films in question, never once producing an independent thought of her own.
Obviously, it was this hipster who fueled my outright hatred of film snobbery, but I feel everyone, especially those of us who love art films, should take this sort of behavior into consideration before you open your trap to lambast a film. Now of course I’m not saying that you shouldn’t criticize a movie you dislike (I’d be out of a job then), but I do suggest that you consider whether the film was really and truly *bad*, rather than it just didn’t make the cut for the Cannes Film Festival. And there are, in fact, plenty of films that are really and truly bad, (The Last Airbender, DEAR GOD, THE LAST AIRBENDER) and ripe for the shredding. In other words, here are some good, non-subjective reasons for disliking a movie: Wooden script, abysmal acting across the board, abuse of special affects for no good reason, and enormous plotholes. Here are reasons that may mean the world to you, but are in fact subjective and it may be better to keep to yourself: The film wasn’t directed by your favorite director, it was made by a big Hollywood studio, it was designed to entertain rather than to inspire nirvana….etcetera.
Also respect other’s right to dislike *your* movies. I don’t look down people because they didn’t like Black Swan or Inglourious Basterds. And I (and many others besides myself) would take it as a kindness that we be allowed to dislike movies regardless of the film’s perceived merit. As per example Citizen Kane just plain bores me to tears. Yes I know it’s supposed to be a classic, but I’d rather watch Attack of the Killer Tomatoes than be forced to contemplate Rosebud one more time. Or hear a hipster dissect the symbolism of Rosebud one more time. In other words; film likes and dislikes are subjective, and disliking a film is not automatically a sign that one is an uncouth yokel.
Finally, one does not have to have read every book on film or seen every arthouse flick to have an opinion on a movie. I love Nosferatu for its powerful Memento Mori attitudes, and I do not give a specific DAMN about the New German Cinema style that produced it or its goals, nor do I feel any need to. Directors, after all, may make a film in a certain way and hope to send a certain message, but everyone will walk away with differing opinions. People filter what they see through their own experiences and perspectives, and if you find yourself filtering your films entirely through the lenses of others, you will end up like the hipster I mentioned earlier: a squawking parrot with no opinion of your own.
In summary, watch the movies you love, debate about them politely while keeping the subjective elements in mind, respect the likes and dislikes of others, and never feel obligated to watch a film you hate/have no interest in.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Great Purse Dilemma

This is one area that continues to daunt me in my Steampunk wardrove. Despite a closet full of Victorian clothes and shoes, a jewelry box brimming with pretties made of old watch pieces, and a vast selection of other props ranging from parasols to goggles to gasmasks, I’m still out of luck in the purse department.

Most of this issue boils down to the fact that my purse needs be, out of necessity, a veritable black hole. My current bag of holding has a couple dozen pockets and compartments, allowing me to carry virtually anything, which I usually do. Like Mary Poppins, I can produce pens, paper, motrin, food, money, makeup, a selection of tools, and all the varied gear required in my day to day life with its bizarre occurrences and teeth rattling near misses. All the Steampunk purses I’ve seen, however, tend to be large but lack any compartments or organization worth writing home about. Up with this, obviously, I will not put, and I have remained sans-Steampunk-carrying device, though I have still not given up hope that such a purse exists.

So I’m putting out a call here: If anyone knows of a place or a website where I can get a decent (and stylish) Steampunk purse/bag/WHATEVER of sufficient capacity, I would be eternally grateful.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

World Steam Expo 2011

I’m sorry about the delay in delivering this entry. I’ve been waiting to see if more photos of myself cropped up in the World Steam Expo Flickr account (http://www.flickr.com/groups/world_steam_expo/pool/), which, ironically, yielded several photos of me from the 2010 Expo, but very few of me this time round, save a couple shots that featured me in the background. Which is odd, since I know from the many times I was asked to pose that there are plenty of pictures from the 2011 Expo out there.


This year’s Expo was an improvement in every way possible. The schedule was better put together and had many awesome events (I rappelled from the ceiling in six inch heels!  And there *are* pics of it somewhere, though I haven't been able to find them), the dealer room had many more sellers and a broader selection of merchandise (I bought a TON of stuff :D), and as a rule of thumb things worked better all the way around. The only major issues were mechanical ones, which I forgive readily in that *something* has to go wrong to appease Murphy’s Law. Better that it’s the microphone refusing to work than something really catastrophic occurring. Also I was recognized by several people for my show, including the people at Brute Force Studios, G. D. Falksen, and Frenchie and the Punk. OH, THE AWESOME. *rolls around in glee*

And now on to the photos!


That's the rappelling tower.  I jumped off that in six inch heels.  You do the math.

I love the anachronistic nature of this photo.

At an Aegis presentation. Also, dreadlocks.

These next two photos were taken at the SmarterPics booth in the dealers room and involved a green screen, hence the awesome background.  This was my outfit on the first day.

Outfit on day two.  This is also my new profile pic, and during the Expo my unique shade of lipstick earned me the title of 'blue lips'.  That is my beloved modded nerf gun in front, which I geekily named 'Not My Funeral' in honor of Gwynn from the Etched City's sword.

These two photos were actually taken in 2010, but I figure they're still awesome and therefore sharable.

I love the way the front of my skirt has folded itself in this shot.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Dorian Gray Corner 1: Designing an outfit

I’ve been asked several times how I go about putting together my Steampunk clothing ensembles: Where exactly do I get my ideas, how do I bring them to fruition, etcetera. So I’m going to let you, my dear readers, in on my various secrets in this series of articles, named after one of the most appearance obsessed book characters of all time.

First of all, one important thing to bear in mind is that anyone attempting to put together an outfit of any sort needs to rely on their sense of taste and style. Taste, of course, can be a rather subjective concept, and if one feels that one’s own sense isn’t up to par, it’s advisable to involve someone else in the proceedings if for nothing else than a second opinion. Indeed, even if you normally feel your fashion abilities surpass those of everyone around you, it’s still advisable to ask someone else what they think before you go traipsing out the door wearing some bizarre concoction of clothes. (Note: This rule is negated if the central conceit of your outfit is of a grand enough scale. Or if you are Lady Gaga.)
Now, on to the actual designing of an outfit. When I begin the process of coming up with some new Steampunk get up I always start off with some sort of inspiration. As per example, the idea for the ensemble I wear during my Steampunk makeup and clothing tutorial on my youtube channel (http://www.youtube.com/user/yankee999?feature=mhee#p/u/3/BhaS9VcE560) was derived from the character Grell a la the manga Black Butler. I started by pinpointing Grell’s central color scheme of black, white, and bright red (black, white, and red is also arguably Sebastian’s color scheme, but his red is more a shade of maroon or claret while Grell’s is more in line with the color of blood or roses.) From there I assessed what clothes I had that fit that schematic, as well as the general visual tone of the manga (clean lines, minimal visual foofrah) and from there weeded out any excessively lacey or gauzy pieces of clothing. What was left was a pinstriped skirt made from black suiting, a black blouse, black-red-and-white corset, black boots, and black bustle coat. I assembled this, then added a silver pendant strung on a red ribbon, garnet earrings, and some makeup. Ta-dah! Outfit complete.
This same process can be followed by anyone. Pick a starting point for inspiration, assess the color and style of the inspiration, find clothes + jewelry + makeup that match that style, then put it all together and out the door you go.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Branching out

So it has occurred to me that while this is supposed to be a Steampunk blog, I tend to spend far too much time talking about my personal life and issues. Given that fact, I’ve decided to outsource my personal problems to a new blog. Said new blog is called the Nyarlathotep Files, and here’s the appropriate link: http://nyarlathotepfiles.blogspot.com/. So if you like hearing me rant on and on (and ON) about life at Miskatonic and the insanity here, subscribe over there. From now on this blog will be strictly focused on Steampunk, how to incorporate it into one’s life, and other gear related topics. 
And in other news, I now have my very own theme song for my reviews, another one of which should be gracing us in the near future.