7 Quick Takes: Shakespeare, Swing, Subjectivity Research

The busyness of my weeks barely permit me to have time to write a post, and I’m squeezing in each as I go, stealing spare pennies.

7 Quick Takes Friday is hosted by Kelly of This Ain’t the Lyceum.

seven quick take friday 2


As usual, I start with the work. I’ve been doing research for my third year project, which is likely going to be something along the lines of investigating how types of language can change people’s perception of the world and objects.

Subjectivity is weird.


On the leisure side, we had so much dancing this week. Saturday was the Swing Jam social as I mentioned on Monday. Looking through my photos, I didn’t manage to get so many clean-cut and precise ones as I would’ve liked, so I will have to stay dictating to you the fun I had that evening.


Thursday we went to see jazz band The Silver Heels and swing dance to them in a local bar venue. More great fun, especially as so many of the society turned up, and we said goodbye to President Chris as he goes to Cyprus on army business! We were told that if as many dancers arrive next month (Silver Heels is a monthly gig, and God bless everyone for that!), they’ll move the sofa and budge the tables to give us a bigger dancing space, yay! I don’t have a visual clip of The Silver Heels’ work, as normally they’re being listened and danced to, but their Reverbnation page has a nice selection of their songs and covers.


The Annual General Meeting has been on my mind as the committee prepares for it, and I have to compile a list of things that have been and need to be done. I’m working on it, and, actually, the more thought and confidence I let God provide me, the easier I’m finding it being. I have come to realise that too long has come to pass of me letting others speak first when I have an idea. I must not suppress my ideas any more, for the suppression is what lack of confidence has taken me from my dreams.


A rehearsal picture from the official Facebook page


I went to see the Reading Drama Society’s The Tempest this evening. It was wonderful, but what struck me the most was not the lively costumes and makeup, the amazing direction, or the creative acting, but the music, dazzling and heartbreaking. I would love to return to the theatre, and, in particular, back to theatrical music. I have a start in just listening as I work, I guess…


And as I sit here with my tea and thoughts a-brewing, the fiction practically writes itself. I don’t know if I mentioned before my inspiration of A City of Ember, but that has been stirring, and, as I watched my friends and thespians perform, I saw the characters beyond them, I saw the players be my hands and take to me my work.

And that is inspiration.


Alchemist siblings Brielle and Pierre

Alchemist siblings Brielle and Pierre

Happy Steam-Powered Christmas

I suspect anybody reading this on Christmas Day will have also read a thousand Christmas posts. So, I wanted to do something different, and have gathered a few lovely Steampunk Christmas pictures from the web.

A mechanical and copper bauble?

That’s a slightly creepy Father Christmas necklace.

If you want a faerie or supernatural edge to your Steampunk… Photo of a window display in Macy’s, New York, 2011.

Such a pretty sewn Steampunk border. The offset of the holly, red and green, strikes well against the golden gears.

This one’s more subtle (at least, I think so); it’s easier to spot the ice blue and the white flowers of the wreath before noticing that there are also cameos and clockwork parts attached.

Yes. Can all presents be delivered this way? Please?

lissa-quon on Deviantart.com drew this wonderful picture of a Steampunk couple (at least, they’re a couple in my imagination) building their Steampunk snowman. Not sure what the snow would do to the metal hinges, though. Mmm, the ideas I can get from this…

Steampunk Christmas by lissa-quonThis is Chris’ tree. It has a steampunk minion, cogs from Cog ‘O’ Two and a top hat. Yup. Who needs stars when one has top hats, eh? *grin* I don’t have my own tree, but the family one is pretty normal…except for the Golden Snitch bauble I added.

I would have done this myself, but I haven’t had time to craft or photo… Maybe for the New Year. 🙂 (Image by DA’s dav0512RT in 2010)

Photo of the Week: Flaming Spire

Amongst all of the photos from my trip to Dubai – which I am still sorting through, by the way, otherwise I might try and find my footing with a couple of posts about my exports – I’ve chosen this striking photo to be my photo of the week, yay.


This was the structure in the middle of the lobby of the hotel in which I stayed. Our hotel also linked with an aquapark/aquarium, so the spire of blown glass, blue to red is appropriate. I think it’s like a beacon of fire. 🙂

I tweaked the photo a little to bring out the contrast, cropped it, but, apart from that, it’s the original. Weird, seeing as I have several of these photos, but I wanted to work with this one, the night-photo.

Woodland Portfolio

|Two exams down, six to go.|

Today I thought I’d share some photos I took recently of the woods and lake on my campus. If you’d like to use them as inspiration pieces for fiction, feel free. I think I’ll allow modifications to the photos if you credit me and link me through (I’d love to see my pictures with modifications or as stock!). 😀 Camera: Lumix DMC-Sz3



You’ve got the slightly moodier one…


…and the one with a brighter eposure and more optimism, depending on the story. I couldn’t decide which I preferred.

Woodland: Delusions


With fisheye-like centring effect.

Child’s Eye


Mirrored Waters




Garden scenes, maybe?

Yellow Fields




Because the squirrels around here are pretty difficult to take photos of, but they are certainly cute enough.

Extolling the Virtues of Steampunk Subgenres


Yes, WTCB is more NeoVictorian than Steampunk – rather than being set in the 19th Century, NeoVictorian or ‘Victoriana’ novels are set in the modern century with Victorian manners, class systems and technology as I hope WTCB is, whilst being set in 2010 – but with the devising of my new Steampunk novel ‘H’, I’ve realised how comfortable I feel in a world surrounded by the tautness of order and rules, a la the Victorian era. I don’t see what is too much of a problem by putting on a ‘steamsona’, a ‘steampunk-person’; following the rules of late 1800 and early 1900 in a modern world can actually be intriguingly healthy.

But Steampunk is so wide that, like any cross-curricula genre, one can dive into so many different subsets and interpretations.

The term is not about proscriptive designing of worlds, but about how one lives what might have been. Alternate past, after all. Hence I ask: what does Steampunk mean to you?

Is it an art? Well, everything is an art (arguably, though one might suggest that every art is a science of using logic…but I shan’t get into that here. That thought is for the other blog.) – but is your Steampunk a visual art? Is it in the creative notions, the way one devises not only the worlds of dirigibles, clockwork (like the table-clock on the blog-bar above) and torn power of guns and rough-style in conceptualisation, but also in paintings with characters looming in a Steamy sky. It may be a talent I lack, but I have seen some gorgeous artwork online.

Steampunk Fighter by Spiegellicht

The majority of the top Google images for ‘steampunk’ are of women holding guns and wearing very little, but mostly leather and iron. Personally, I disapprove.

Is it a craft? Is your Steampunk in the act of changing mechanical bits-and-bobs into touchable decorations? Because of its growing trend, Steampunk shops (especially those on Etsy) have sprung up with trades – just as those shoppes would have by trade in the true century.

Steampunk is a lifestyle for some. As well as writing, Steampunk extends to music (and film and popular culture, etc). Far be it for me to list how Steampunk has been influenced by the cultures and its own budding subgenres, but one definitely sees Steampunk changed by whom is its author. Some people of colour create focuses and characters of colour and settings that include dashes of their culture as it might have been in the ‘East’ in a Steampunk past; some British authors use their own knowledge of manners and make that one of the core values of Steampunk. Of course, that’s great – a universal community from one idea. Perhaps because the genre of Fantasy centres on a purely speculative past, those who were treated with scorn in the real past get a chance to live more freely in the Steampunk one.


Although it’s not a route into which I like to venture, some Steampunk depicts a barren land and a cast of Western-esque characters, steam pistols and leather utilities at which the everyday Victorian might pale, with tough, angular styles seen more in gothic fingerless gloves than classic royalty elegance. “Endless prairies of the North,” as described in Paul Shapera’s New Albion I track of The Dolls of New Albion opera.

What does it mean to me? Fashion, but not in a superficial way: dressing in an appropriate way, complete with the historical requirements. I’m not a fan of Steampunk representations of ladies with external corsets and higher-than-ankles (or, at a push, knee-and-higher) dresses. Even if the alternate past accepts this sort of anachronism, to me it jars with what would show the era as it is.

There’s a difference between an autostat, a zeppelin and a dirigible, you know, and these details add colour to one’s choice of type of Steampunk. I prefer the latter, myself, with its traditionally navigable quality (I hear your raised eyebrows: of course the linguist chooses the etymological definition: ‘dirigible’ was originally French for steerable), implying that the use of coal/steam to fly has sense in power, despite its non-rigidity. That opinion might be questioned by the traditional use – as opposed to the traditional meaning – but I’m certainly allowed to twist the proper past a little 😉

Too, as Lord Pikedevant, Esq. has sung, Steampunk is not so much cogs as mechanisms, not so much dress as attitude. Steampunk – for me – is as much about the way one holds one’s self and speaks and treats others as what one looks like. And, you know, the cogs have got to work. In the Victorian and progressive Industrial age, every piece of technology had a role to play and affected everyone on a near-daily basis. Whilst there are some great concepts in the land of Steampunk art, some simply don’t intrigue me because they clash with my understanding of ‘Steampunk’ as a working society tag.

And that’s all right, because the Steampunk world varies depending on its creator.