Super-Short Storytime: “Emergency”

SSST007

Welcome to Super-Short Storytime, lovers of literature and fans of fiction!  I am Eduardo Soliz, the composer and narrator of the supremely silly tale that you are about to hear.

If there is one thing that steampunks and furries have in common, it’s that members of both groups love to parade about in their finest fictional fashion.  A pair of fur-bearing blue-bloods try to handle a real crisis in this steam-powered story that I call: “Emergency”


“Brace yourself, my dear!” The gentlewolf yelled to his mistress as the airship began to slowly list to one side.  In response, Muffy reached to grab onto a large pipe that was near to her, but the arctic fox woman immediately released it due to its extreme heat.

“Ah!  Monty, it’s too hot!” Muffy exclaimed, backing away from the pipe.  She shook her singed white paws in the air and blew on them before making her way over to Monty.

Lord Montague adjusted his monocle before looking over the many needles, indicators, numbers and controls at his disposal.  The more he looked at them, the less sense they made.  The room began to shake as the airship’s engines struggled to keep it aloft.

Monty’s voice took on an air of desperation:  “I have tried everything, my dear Muffy, but nothing appears to be working!  Perhaps this one?  Or maybe this one?”  He said, randomly pressing buttons, pulling levers and turning knobs in vain.  A whistle sounded as the intensity of the shaking increased.  Having reached Monty, Muffy pulled him away from the engine controls.

“Oh, Monty, my love!  It is a shame that our young lives must come to an end like this!  Let us share one last kiss as we hurtle to our doom!”  Muffy cried.  She held onto Monty tightly, tears welling in her eyes.

“Yes, my love!  We shall take our forbidden love to the world that lies beyond this one!”  Monty replied.  He and Muffy embraced deeply as warning bells and whistles sounded in protest around them.

A door then suddenly burst open and a short female dog ran into the control room.  She had light brown fur, floppy ears and wore denim overalls that were soiled with oil and grease.  She growled upon catching sight of the amorous aristocrats, who ignored her as they kissed.

“I swear, I can’t eat dinner or take a nap without you blasted bluebloods coming down here and tamperin’ with MY engines!!” the young engineer exclaimed as she walked over to the engine controls.  After looking over a row of gauges, the engineer began to quickly adjust the controls, her paws expertly flipping switches, turning dials and pressing buttons with the grace of a concert pianist.  The whistles and bells went silent and the ship’s shaking and listing gradually ceased.  Satisfied that all was well, the engineer turned to the young couple, whom had broken their embrace, but were still in each other’s arms.

“What in the Sam Hill were y’all thinkin’?” She angrily yelled at them. “This here engine is a delly-cate machine that should only be operated on by experts like me!  The next passenger that I catch sneaking around in here is a-goin’ to get hogtied and thrown into the cargo hold!  NOW GIT!!” she told them as she pointed to an exit.

“You mean to tell me you are not an engineer, Monty?” Muffy asked with a disgusted look on her face as she removed herself from Monty’s arms and started to walk towards the exit.

“Well…uh…no?”   Monty replied half-heartedly.  “Muffy!  Come back!” he cried as he chased his now-former mistress.

The exasperated engineer wiped her forehead and hands with a handkerchief and sighed with relief as the outer door closed behind Monty.  She then said, to no one in particular:

“How about that Mister Fancypants thinking he’s a steam engineer!   What kind of engineer dresses up in their Sunday best to go to work?”

THE END

While clothes might make the man, listeners, they don’t necessarily make him a smart one.  This been Super-Short Storytime, For more tiny tales, visit eduardo soliz dot com, and remember listeners, the past just isn’t what it used to be!

Short Steampunk Subjects

Positively steamy!

I like things that are short.  Quite a few of my favorite types of media are short: theatrical cartoons, Three Stooges shorts, Aesop’s fables, and Isaac Asimov’s short stories, to name a few.  Curiously enough, my own writing consists mainly of short stories.

I initially kept my short stories to just one side of a page out of sheer habit, but as I write more I am finding myself becoming more comfortable with going beyond that self-imposed arbitrary limit.  Curiously enough, my very first short story came in at 12 pages, which I felt was way too long, so there’s that, too.

There’s just something about quickly getting to the point.  Sure, a one-page story doesn’t leave much room for character development, but it also means that a message can be delivered effectively without getting lost in the rest of the story.  It also leaves armchair psychologists with little room to to find deeper meaning in between the lines.

It may also explain why I enjoy comic books.  In addition to enjoying the exploits of Superman, the Green Lantern Corps and Mega Man each month, I have also taken a liking to the various Steampunk titles currently being printed by Antarctic Press.  In addition to artwork relating to the book’s theme featuring comely lasses, each one has also featured two or three short comic stories featuring the works of Rod Espinosa, Fred Perry, and other creators.

I really enjoy those short comics.  I read them, have a quick laugh or smile, and move on to other things.  But unlike the one-issue comic stories I discussed previously, which are ‘fire and forget,’ those short comics (especially Perry’s) have me wondering about just what happened before and after the story.  How did that Bad Guy end up as a pony?  Who ended up winning the Fairyland Steampocalypse? Just why did Dr. Frankensteam create her Monster?

I also wonder if I am being given glimpses of a bigger tale that has been untold, or are these the scattered pages of a work that is not yet done even in the creator’s mind?  Or perhaps, like myself, all they want to do is make a quick joke or point and move on without having to write a whole book.  I can certainly relate to that!

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-US
X-NONE
X-NONE

MicrosoftInternetExplorer4

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin:0in;
mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:10.0pt;
font-family:”Times New Roman”,”serif”;}

Steampunks and The Furry Fandom

steampowergirl_by_psychochris20
Glue some ears on her and call her Furry?

The Furry Fandom and Steampunks.  On the surface, these two groups/sub-cultures/what-have-you would seem to be very far apart, but I think they have more in common than there appears to be on the surface.

First, there is the Furry Fandom (AKA ‘Furries’ for short): these are people that enjoy works of art and fiction that feature animals with human-like qualities, such as the ability to talk and walk upright.  There really isn’t a hard-and-fast rule as to what makes a character ‘furry,’ as far as I can tell.  For example, both Mickey Mouse and Mrs. Frisby (that is, the one from the book) would be considered ‘furry.’

Next, we have the Steampunks, who combine Victorian era aesthetics and dress with fantastic accessories and weapons, asking what if the scientists and engineers of the day had found a way to power everything either with steam or some new form of energy.  Think Victorian-era dress accentuated with leather, brass, gadgets of all types and for better or for worse, gears.

I have had exposure to both groups, having attended the first two Aetherfests in San Antonio as well as Furry Fiesta in Dallas this past February.  In doing so, I noticed a few similarities between the two groups:

The first, and probably the best thing that separates these groups from ‘traditional’ comic book, sci-fi and anime fans, in my opinion, is that they are both very creative.  Members of both groups choose to create their own characters and personas.

In the case of steampunk, it is almost a necessity as there is not very much in the way of established material.  While there are a few folks that take existing characters and reinterpret them in the ‘steampunk’ aesthetic, such as Steampunk Boba Fett, they are in the minority.  Instead, most steampunks will create a character, usually with an honorific or military title added to the name.  Groups will sometimes refer to themselves as being part of an “airship crew.”

Insofar as the furries are concerned, you are not going to find very many folks dressed up as Bugs Bunny or Baloo at a furry convention.  Instead, just like the steampunks, people will make up their own characters, often referred to as ‘fursonas.’  While many furs wear ears and tails at conventions, the apex of adopting a fursona is represented by the ‘fursuiters.’  Fursuiters dress up in costumes to fully take on the appearance of a character.  The effort required to create a fursuit, to say nothing of putting one on, is impressive.  Indeed, at Furry Fiesta I witnessed a wide variety of species represented.  They also come in many different styles, from the cartoony to the more realistic.

Or glue some gears on him and call him Steampunk?
Or glue some gears on him and call him Steampunk?

Secondly, both groups appear to be more receptive to writers.  Writers are virtually nonexistent in most fan groups save for science fiction.  Heck, I can count the number of writers that I’ve seen at conventions on one hand.  Thus, I was encouraged to see a few writers with tables at Furry Fiesta and Aetherfest.  Both conventions even held panels that were involved writers: meetups, discussions of the craft and even story readings.  As a writer myself, I find it very encouraging and hope to have a table at a future event.

Both groups also attract older crowds, at least from what I have observed.  The Anthropomorphic Research Project believes that there is “…evidence to suggest that there is a significant proportion of furries over the age of 25 (upwards of 30%)”  I don’t know that anyone has done a survey of Steampunks, but most of the attendees I saw at Aetherfest appeared to be at least college-age or older.  Being just south of 40 myself, I was relieved to not find any teenagers running amok at Aetherfest and just a few at Furry Fiesta.

Finally, both groups like to prefix everything with their descriptor: if you are a furry, then everything starts with ‘furry’ and if you are a Steampunk, everything starts with ‘steam.’  😉  Okay, I’m just being silly now.

Despite being somewhat ‘on the fringe’ (or perhaps because they are on the fringe) both the Steampunks and the Furry Fandom have quite a few things in common.  I’ve enjoyed taking part in activities held by both groups, and I look forward to continuing to do so in the future…just gimmie some glue, some gears, and some ears!  🙂

Artwork “SteamPowerGirl” by Chris Holm, used with permission.

Photo taken by me, so nyeah

RANDOMIZER’S REACTION: AetherFest 2012

For more info on Steampunk and Aetherfest, visit the San Antonio Neo-Victorian Association’s website!

The best compliment I can give to AetherFest is that I should have set aside more time for it.  Unfortunately, I ended up being a very busy nerd that weekend (to say nothing of stupid work on Friday) and thus, could I only make it out on Saturday.  I had a good time, though.  Like last year, (actually, like most of these things) I spent a significant time hanging out at my friend Chris Holm’s table, shooting the breeze and watching the festivities unfold before us.

Unlike last year, I did not try to dress the part.  I really should put an outfit together, or at least jazz up the half-baked one I currently have.  The opportunity was certainly there at Aetherfest, because there were a good number of vendors and dealers there selling all sorts of clothing and accessories.  The spirit was there, but alas, the funds were not.  Indeed, I felt just a slight twinge of guilt over besmirching the proceedings with my uncouth presence.

Aetherfest was greatly improved over last year, not that there was too much wrong with the event itself.  There were more vendors, some of which were put in the main area, and the panels were held in bigger rooms that were located on the first floor, so they were easy to find and could accommodate more attendees.  I attended a panel on the history of burlesque and learned some interesting things in addition to being entertained by the presenters and their tales.  While I did not attend any of the main events, I heard lots of good things about them.

In conclusion, Aetherfest appears to have fixed the little issues that I had with it the first time around and ended up being a really good event, at least from my limited perspective.  I really need to just go ‘whole hog’ next year; take some time off from work, get a proper outfit together and take in all that Aetherfest has to offer.

Now to find some glue and some gears.  😉

Aetherfest: The Unconventional Convention

Aetherfest attendees
Come one, come all!

While there are lots of things to like about fan conventions like the upcoming Texas ComicCon and San Japan, there are a lot of things not to like about them, too: crowded hallways, long lines, overexcited sugar-and-energy-drink-fueled teens running around everywhere and the eventual feeling of ‘been there, done that.’

If you’re tired of the same old convention scene and want to check out something different, I strongly suggest dropping by Aetherfest in San Antonio this weekend.  “Texas’ First Steampunk Convention” is taking place at the St. Anthony Hotel and will feature a host of activities, vendors and guests for all to enjoy.  For the uninitiated, “steampunk” is an odd mash-up of speculative fiction, science fiction, alternate history, and fantasy…set in Victorian times.  That’s the best way I can put it, you just have to see it.

Based on my experience attending last year, Aetherfest is very different than your typical fan convention.  The Steampunk audience slants a bit older, so there aren’t as many hyperactive kids running around, the con organizers are capping attendance at 500 in order to prevent overcrowding, and as there is no truly ‘definitive’ Steampunk work of fiction, just about everything that will be presented there will be original.  In fact, I can say with confidence that you will see many things that you have not seen before at Aetherfest.

In addition, the St. Anthony Hotel fits the aesthetic perfectly, you will feel as if you have stepped into another place and time at Aetherfest.  A more civilized time where lords and ladies spoke proper English, paraded around in elaborate outfits, and exotic devices bought to life by the not-quite-understood power of aether were in abundance.

One-day passes can be purchased for $30 or a weekend pass is $60.  For more details go to http://facebook.com/aetherfest or http://www.sanvaonline.com/aetherfest

I look forward to making your acquaintance there!

Lights! Camera! NERDS!

Comicbreak.com presents Fanboy Flix at the Drafthouse
Arrive early, or sit behind Galactus!

If you want to get your nerd on in the Alamo City, the Alamo Drafthouse theaters feature free showings of various nerdy movies on a regular basis.  With exception of “Anime at the Alamo” these all take place once a month.

First, there is ‘Anime at the Alamo’ sponsored by the folks at Funimation which happens every Monday night at the Westlakes location.  I haven’t been to this one in awhile because there are a load of Mystery Science Theater 3000 wannabees constantly blabbing throughout the movie and they completely ruin the experience for me.

ComicBreak.com’s ‘Fanboy Flix’ brings us various geeky movies from years gone by.  This happens at the Stone Oak location and often features local guest artists.

The San Antonio Neo-Victorian Association gives us “Steampunk Night” for those of us whose pasttime happens to be the future past (ba-doom, tissh!).  Expect lots of really cool costumes and vendors at these events held at the Park North location.

For the Whovians among you, Doctor Who Fans Unite gives us Doctor Who night at the Stone Oak location.  Be sure you’re on time!

The Alamo Drafthouse is a great place to watch movies; and these events are a great chance to enjoy your favorite movies and shows on the big screen.  If you decide to go to one of these events be sure to get there early, because there are often things going on beforehand and the theaters do fill up.

Aetherfest I

Some Aetherfest attendees in their Sunday best
Quite dashing, really!

I almost felt obligated to attend the new Steampunk con “AetherFest” after giving them crap on this very blog a few weeks ago. Honestly, though, I would have attended regardless just to satisfy my curiosity.  When my friend Chris Holm asked me to help him out at his table and with his panel (as the “guest editor” of his new comic “Steam Pets”), it was an easy “yes.”

Unfortunately, “help out” also means “don’t get to see much of anything,” so I know there was lots of cool stuff I didn’t get to experience.  I spent most of the event at Chris’ table over in the game room along with a few other vendors.  Mutual friend Jackie Naehrig joined us on Saturday and we had a fun time hanging around and marveling at the attendees, many wearing appropriate attire and accoutrements.

Chris and Jackie dressed up, so I felt just a little bit embarrassed sitting next to them sporting a T-shirt and blue jean shorts on Saturday.  I improvised a little something on Sunday, though.  I put on some slacks, a button down shirt, dusted off a flat cap and stopped to get a set of suspenders on the way back to the St. Anthony Hotel.  I have to admit, it felt neat, like I should have also been carrying a giant wrench or an oil can or something.  I thought looked like the guy in the boiler room as opposed to all the captains, pilots and proper ladies walking about.  Upon seeing my outfit, though, Chris said I looked like “Professor Layton’s hat boy.” Jerk.

The only panel I attended was one that I was a part of.  I sat with Chris on his “Intro to Drawing and Comic-Making” panel where we talked about making “Steam Pets” and our experiences with First Storm Manga with a small spirited group.  I wandered around for a bit and checked out the other dealer area and the “museum,” where they had quite a few neat items on display and for sale.  It was all very nice and being at the historic St. Anthony Hotel (built in 1909) added greatly to the ambiance.  Judging from the pictures I’ve seen on Facebook, the events they held on the evenings of Friday and Saturday appear to have been very entertaining.  The misgivings I had previously about “steam-snobs” were unfounded, and I must say that looking the part does add to the fun of being there.

While I had fun at Aetherfest and have been hearing good things from people that were there, there are some things that they need to work on.  Let me start by acknowledging that some of these things cannot be helped (particularly where the hotel is concerned) but you have to take the bad with the good, so here we go.

Split Vendor Area Is a Bother – Having two separate areas for vendors is never a good thing (see also: MizuumiCon 2011) and it would benefit all involved if the organizers could try to have all them in one area next time.  I’m not familiar enough with the layout of the St. Anthony to know if that is possible, but if it is, it should be considered.

“Third Floor: Hosiery, Lingerie, and Panels!” – The majority of the panels were held on the third floor, which was kind of lousy, but I have to let it slide because it is a consequence of the way the St. Anthony was built.  The fact that the program sometimes said “Third Floor” and “Third Room,” however, was not.

Needs Improvement, See Me After Class – Now that I have had an opportunity to look it over a bit closer, I’d say whomever edited the program was asleep at the airship wheel.

Promotion – I think the organizers missed out on prime opportunities to promote their event at either Mizuumi-con (which may or may not have been full) or at ChimaeraCon. I did see flyers at ChimaeraCon, but they did not have a lot of information about the event.  I would strongly recommend the Aetherfest folks consider requesting a Con Alley table at San Japan 4TW in August.

Website – For the love of Tesla, lads, get a webhost or something. It’s not that expensive, and you can even get a free one from Google. Not everyone is on Facebook (yet) and while Tumblr does look nice, I shouldn’t have to go to some skeevy download site with pop-up ads just to see your schedule and program.  In addition, if you have your own host, you can put up picture galleries, forums and other things to attract interest.

Despite the quibbles I just mentioned, I thought AetherFest was a good con.  As was expected for a first-time event, the crowd was small, but those who made it out had a good time.  Those of us who are “steam-newbies” got to check out some cool stuff and learn a little something about this fascinating world called “Steampunk.”  I am confident that I will be returning next year.  Who knows, I may even sport a waist coat or a bowler hat or maybe just a really big wrench.

Good show, fellows!