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Steampunk Digest - October 1, 2021

Our weekly roundup of news and other happenings in the steampunk world

Friday, October 1, 2021
The Electrical Life of Louis Wain
Photo: Jaap Buitendijk

Benedict Cumberbatch has portrayed Thomas Edison, Alan Turing, and Vincent Van Gogh, and now he gets a turn as another real-life historical character in The Electrical Life of Louis Wain. The film tells the story of the eccentric British artist known for his illustrations of large-eyed cats. It follows Wain’s life from the late 1800s through the 1930s.

One of Wain’s fans was H.G. Wells, who is portrayed in the movie by Australian musician Nick Cave. “He has made the cat his own,” Wells said of the artist during a 1927 radio broadcast. “He invented a cat style, a cat society, a whole cat world. English cats that do not look and live like Louis Wain cats are ashamed of themselves.”

The film premiered Sept. 2 at the Telluride Film Festival in Colorado and was later shown at the Toronto International Film Festival. It currently has a 72% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

It’s set for a limited theatrical release Oct. 22 in North America and then will stream on Amazon Prime Video in the U.S. and Canada beginning Nov. 5. Studiocanal will release the film in early 2022 in the UK, France, Germany, Australia, and New Zealand.

Amazon has released a trailer (above).

Gaslight Steampunk Expo
Left: Convention chair Anastasia Hunter (photo by Jerry Abuan). Right: Shawn Crosby with his Ghostbusters backpack.

Steampunk fans on the West Coast will have their first chance in months to gather indoors as the Gaslight Steampunk Expo returns Sept. 30-Oct. 3 to San Diego. This year’s convention will take attendees to the 1889 Exposition Universelle in Paris, the World’s Fair where the Eiffel Tower was built.

The main program happens Friday, Saturday, and Sunday with a full schedule of panels, workshops, and other activities.

Special guests include Madam Askew and The Grand Arbiter, who will preside over tea dueling throughout the weekend, along with teapot racing on Saturday and compliment dueling on Friday.

Historian Dawn Devine will deliver a series of talks related to the 1889 Exposition. “Mechanical Marvel” maker Jim Coffee will offer free performances of his hand-cranked street organ and a discussion of automata old and new. “International cryptid” Eve Riot will discuss the history of burlesque on Friday followed by a demonstration of the art form that night.

The program lists one inanimate special guest: A 1911 hand-cranked Model T Horseless Carriage that will be available for photo shoots.

Read the full story: Gaslight Steampunk Expo Sets Time Machine for 1889 Paris Exposition

Related: Gaslight Steampunk Expo taking over San Diego (KFMB-TV)

Gaslight Steampunk Expo Returns In Person (KPBS.org)

Introducing a new feature in The Steampunk Explorer: Each month we’ll preview steampunk-related movies and TV series slated to debut on major streaming services.

Highlights in October include Cowboys & Aliens on Amazon Prime Video, Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events on Peacock, and Guy Ritchie’s 2009 adaptation of Sherlock Holmes on HBO Max.

In addition, Peacock will stream all three movies in the Back to the Future trilogy, along with classic horror movies from the Universal Pictures library, including Dracula (1931), The Mummy (1932), The Invisible Man (1933), and Bride of Frankenstein (1935).

Paramount+ will stream all four Indiana Jones films: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008).

And beginning Oct. 6, Hulu will stream all eight seasons of Castle, the ABC comedy-drama series that starred Nathan Fillion as a crime-solving mystery novelist. The series is notable for the Season 3 episode “Punked,” which takes Fillion’s character into the world of steampunk.

That’s just a small taste of what’s in store next month, at least in the U.S. Viewers outside the U.S. don’t have access to all these services, but some programming may be available in other ways. In some countries, Hulu content is available as part of Disney+, and Comcast announced in July that Peacock will be available later this year to Sky customers in Europe.

Read the full story: Streaming Guide – October 2021

TreasureFest

Steampunk projects were among the big attractions at TreasureFest, an art and music festival held Sept. 18-19 in San Rafael, California. Attendees encountered creations such as Richard Murillo’s Time Machine – inspired by the 1960 George Pal movie – and Rhino Redemption, an art car first seen at Burning Man in 2014.

Kinetic Steam Works also had a major presence with steam-powered contraptions that included a tractor, printing press, and snow cone machine.

In addition to the art installations, the festival featured about 300 vendors of artisan crafts and vintage goods, plus a large outdoor dining area and a lineup of musical acts.

If you couldn’t make it to the festival, we have the next best thing in the form of a photo gallery.

See more: Scenes From TreasureFest

Many folks remember the Addams Family from the 1960s sitcom, or perhaps the 1991 Barry Sonnenfeld film starring Anjelica Huston, Raul Julia, and Christopher Lloyd. But the macabre characters—Morticia, Gomez, Uncle Fester, Lurch, Wednesday, and Pugsley—originated in a series of cartoons drawn by Charles Addams for The New Yorker. Addams was born and raised in Westfield, New Jersey, and each October his hometown honors his legacy with a month-long celebration known as AddamsFest.

This year’s festivities kick off on Friday with Morticia & Gomez’s Mask-erade Ball, which will be held outdoors at the Westfield Historical Society. Other activities include an art exhibit, drive-in movie screenings, and Wicked Windows of Westfield, in which local merchants decorate their storefronts with seasonal displays.

The organizers say they’ll be taking a “pandemic-friendly” approach this year, including a proof-of-vaccination requirement for the masquerade and a masking requirement for the art exhibit. The latter takes place each weekend from Oct. 8 through Oct. 31 at the Rialto Theater. Learn more on the website and Facebook page.

New Music

Three of the biggest names in steampunk music—Abney Park, Steam Powered Giraffe, and The Cog Is Dead—are out with new videos.

Abney Park released “Don’t Let Another Captain Captain Your Boat,” a music video from its forthcoming album The Sub Aquatic Opera. The video features band leader Captain Robert Brown at the helm of a steampunk submersible.

The album, featuring 10 new original tracks, is set for release on Oct. 21. The band says its goal was to make songs that feel like “classic fan favorites.” It’s now accepting pre-orders via Indiegogo. Cost is US$15 for a digital download and $30 for an autographed CD.

To celebrate the release, Abney Park is also planning a live streaming concert on Saturday, Oct. 30 at 6 p.m. Pacific Time. Tickets cost $15 and are also available from Indiegogo.

Steam Powered Giraffe released “Bad Days on the Horizon,” another video from its latest album, 1896. The video features The Spine (David Michael Bennett) on lead vocals with postapocalyptic art and animation by Samuel Luke. Watch out for Rabbit (Isabella Bunny Bennett) in her spidercopter and Zer0 (Bryan Barbarin) fronting a locomotive.

The song itself runs for about a third of the video, after which The Spine thanks Patreon supporters and then ruminates on life in a hand-drawn hellscape.

The album, released last year, is available from the SPG online store as well as Bandcamp and Apple Music.

The Cog is Dead released “Old Merkwerkee,” a single and lyric video with a Wild West theme. It tells the story of a frontier town besieged by hail stones and robot buffalo.

“You have got to be prepared to take on anything you face,” sings band leader John Sprocket. “When the cards are stacked against you and there’s no one to defend you, then your challenge has to be embraced.” You can watch the video to see how the town folk respond.

The single is available on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, Pandora and other music platforms. See the YouTube page for more info.

Quick Hits

ModVic’s Ornijethopter Turns Heads on Main Street in Palmer, MA (ModVic)

Dr. Evermor Sculpture Park allegedly broken into, vandalized (WMTV-TV)

Chinese steampunk: The art of reviving dead insects (SupChina)

How to write a medieval romance (History Extra)

Column: Steampunk and magic swirl through an evocative thriller in 1912 Cairo (Richmond News)

When Hundreds of Vampire-Hunting Children Invaded a Scottish Cemetery—And Helped Spur a Comic Book Ban (Mental Floss)

Doctor Who’s Russell T. Davies Returns to Showrun in Season 14 (Gizmodo)

Foundation: The ‘unfilmable’ sci-fi epic now on our screens (BBC)

New Arcane trailer promises much more than just conflict between Jinx and Vi (Inquirer.net)

Jeff Wayne’s The War of The Worlds: The Immersive Experience (London Theatre 1)

Hull’s Old Town becomes Enola Holmes 2 set ahead of Hollywood stars arriving - pictures (Hull Daily Mail)

How Artificial Intelligence Completed Beethoven’s Unfinished Tenth Symphony (Smithsonian Magazine)

Swashbuckling Tabletop RPGs For Fans Of Pirate Narratives (ScreenRant)

A Minecraft fan built an impressive steampunk-style ship (OI Canadian)

Historical strategy game Victoria 3 will simulate the slave trade. Should it? (The Next Web)

Activision Blizzard settles US workplace discrimination suit (AP)

When Playing Video Games Becomes a History Lesson (Smithsonian Magazine)

The Disneyland restaurant that was scrapped because it would be too popular (SFGate)

FRIDAY FLAVOR: Steampunk-Themed Brick Anchor Brew House (WVEC-TV)

15 Places Every Tea-Lover Should Visit Before They Die (Atlas Obscura)

“Freedom to play with fire”: A report from the rogue Burning Man event (SFGate)

The Great Chicago Fire, As Told By Those Who Lived Through It (Chicago magazine)

“A dead whale or a stove boat”: whaling in the 19th century (History Extra)

Viking Map of North America Identified as 20th-Century Forgery (Smithsonian Magazine)

’Crocodile-faced hell heron’ dinosaur discovered in England (Live Science)

This Is The Highest Resolution Image Of The Moon Ever Taken From Earth (IFL Science)

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