May 122014
 
Bruce Boxleitner as Tron

I want Bruce Boxleitner on my frisbee team!

by Nur Hussein, contributing writer

Bruce Boxleitner celebrates his 64th birthday today. He is known for various iconic roles such as the titular character in Tron (reprised in Tron: Legacy and the animated Tron: Uprising), Captain John Sheridan in Babylon 5, Devon Woodcomb’s father in Chuck, and Scarecrow in Scarecrow and Mrs. King.

Apart from his well-known roles (and popping up on TV in series such as American Dad and Heroes) you can find Bruce Boxleitner’s work in audiobooks, video games (he even played Tron’s voice in Kingdom Hearts II!) and he’s written a few sci-fi novels of his own: Frontier Earth (1999) and Frontier Earth: Searcher (2001).

Boxleitner’s most recent project, Lantern City, is a steampunk television series, which will allow viewers to participate in the creation of the show. Lantern City is located on the Earth-parallel world of Hetra, which becomes isolated as a means of “protection” from the world’s greedy warlords. The city lives in walled isolation for about 100 years because its own warlord benevolent ruler had the geographically isolated city entombed protected by enormous ramparts. As a result, the citizens of Lantern City know nearly nothing about the rest of their planet, and many have come to believe a myth about a peasant named Nolvan who, they believe, led them to freedom in Lantern City in the first place, and that another Nolvan will arise to lead them to freedom a second time. As an hors d’oeuvre for prospective fans, write Matthew Daley wrote an illustrated novel, now available on Amazon, which introduces the universe, premise,  and main characters. The series promises a great deal of innovation, in everything from writing to production to distribution. It’s an ambitious project from the mind of executive producer Boxleitner.

We at Krypton Radio wish Mr Boxleitner a wonderful birthday and a year of great success for his latest project!

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Apr 142014
 

Western Steampunk Fun at Calico Ghost Town

Calico Ghost Town

Calico Ghost Town

by Robert Seutter, Krypton Radio Columnist “The Voice of Legend”

The genre of Steampunk has many facets. One of the more prevalent ones is the Old West genre, which does pretty well out on the west coast. Europe may have its castles and halls, but we out west have some very interesting sites ourselves.

One of the best is the Calico Ghost Town. This weekend, April 12-13, 2014, saw the return of the Wild West Fest, a two-day Steampunk event at an old silver rush boom-and-bust town out in the high desert of California. If you want the old west atmosphere, you could hardly ask for better. In fact, if you look at the history of old west mining, the madcap technology of that time makes for a very good fit for our modern Steamers.

Calico is just north of Barstow, California, and was founded in 1881. At one time, there was a thriving mining and industry town, complete with a thousand or so miners and their families. During its heyday, they pulled over eighty-six million dollars worth of silver out of the mountains and another forty-five million dollars in borax. But when the silver ran thin, the town went bust and the desert began to reclaim it.

In 1951, the city was restored by Walter Knott (of Knott’s Berry farm fame), and in 1966, it was donated to the County of San Bernardino. It has been an old west tourist attraction ever since. It is the real deal, with many of the buildings restored to something approximating their original conditions from back in their booming silver days.

Noele Wayne, special events coordinator

Noele Wayne, special events coordinator

A few years ago, Noele Wayne, special events coordinator for the County parks, reached out to the Steampunk community. And so far, the event has been a great success. According to the personnel who run the event throughout the year, they love the youth and creativity of the Steampunk crowd, and find them charming and very well behaved.

I was surprised to find out that unlike many conventions where one fan-organization usually spear-heads and acts as an umbrella for themed events, Noele had reached out to many groups and helped to create the event out of whole cloth. She manages seven special events at Calico throughout the year (as well as elsewhere), and as she put it, “has been delighted with the camaraderie and support of the Steampunk community both with groups and merchants.”

With the lovely old-west ambience, the Steampunk crowd delighted many of the regular tourists, some who were visiting from Korea and Germany and who had no idea that the Wild West Fest was ongoing. Ladies in bustles with bright parasols strolled the dusty streets accompanied by dapper gents on a sunny and slightly windy day. Mind you, some of those strolling had sophisticated clockwork sidearms and ether-powered back-packs, and there may have been an automaton or two.

Steampunk aficionados representing a wide variety of classes and cultures had a great time exploring the displays and old shops. Scheduled gun-fights happened next to costuming classes, and old cowboys enjoyed chatting with Steam Powered Giraffe fans, some of them who were silver or gold mechanoids awaiting the concert that evening.

The site itself features tours, mines, and a small railway, as well as reconstructions of an old bath house, saloons, school houses, a jail, and a mystery shack. For the festival, there were some new attractions in town. Among them were the “Gypsy Time-Travelers Storytelling” where Christy Horne told traditional stories as her partner Michel Olson hammered out iron dragons in the background on anvil, all the while standing in Florence, their “incredible Recreational Castle Stage and Blacksmith Shop.”

Pop-Lock Holmes

Pop-Lock Holmes

Farther down the road, there was professional magician Dyno Staats doing “scientific demonstrations” of magical proportions, guaranteed to go horribly wrong, and Dr. Solar’s good time, Sunshine Traveling Medicine Show. Music was everywhere including the BillHilly band, Chap-Hop rapper Pop-Lock Holmes, and even a Steampunk parade band E-Steam De Corps. Gunfire erupted throughout the day as various double-dealing, owl-hoot varmints shot it out with the constabulary, to the great applause of the audience. And a large automaton named DAGON wandered about, shaking pincers in a friendly way.

I had a chance to speak with some folks from the San Diego Steampunk community, and asked them if there were any misconceptions about the Steampunk genre. They happily obliged with the following.

  1. They really wish there were another term besides Steam “Punk” because their genre is not all that “Punk” in the Sid Vicious-Sex Pistols frame of mind. It’s more about alternative histories and creativity, less about mosh-pits.
  2. It’s not all about English or Old West alternative histories. New styles like Asian- or Indian-influenced steam alternatives are just a few of the more recent innovations. There is also more to Steampunk events than just conventions. There are hosted picnics and tea-duels, and even just going out for a costumed carousel ride can be interesting.
  3. The Steampunk community is exceedingly glad to welcome new people who only have to exhibit an interest. People can come and play, even in T-shirts and jeans, and the Steampunk community can help folks find ways to put together costumes and personae, without costing a fortune. Everyone started somewhere, they are glad to help.

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I would have to say that, as a community, from the merchants to the players young and old, they all seemed remarkably fun-spirited and had a great sense of humor. I asked one young lady around seven or eight years old what she liked best about the event. She said, without missing a beat, “No ghosts.” In fact, the only complaint I heard about the event was that there was not enough advertising, and the people who said that just wanted more folks to come and join the fun.

As the day turned into evening, people headed to cafés and restaurants for cold sarsaparillas or a cup of decent tea, while others lined up for a concert in the Silver Bowl, featuring the much-loved Steam Powered Giraffe. The western sun was gleaming red gold over metallic automatons and jewel-toned Victorian dresses, and songs and laughter filled the air. Calico may be a bit of a drive but, for a Western Steampunk event like no other, this reporter heartily hopes that this event continues for many years.

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Photos by: Robert Seutter and RJ Ryan-Seutter.

We’d love to see your photos from Wild West Fest! Tag us on Facebook, Instagram or Tumblr (#kryptonradio), or email us.

Mar 142014
 
Handcrafted giant squid as a raffle prize for the Kids Need To Read charity

Handcrafted giant squid as a raffle prize for the Kids Need To Read charity

by Karina Montgomery, contributing writer

Out in the blazing Arizona spring sun and dust-choked desert winds lies Old Tucson Studios.  Over the past 75 years, 300 movies have shot old west scenes here, and for its third year, the Wild Wild West Steampunk Convention takes over one weekend for some western-flavored steampunk fun.  This March 7-9, 2014, we were first-time attendees (and panelists) at the Wild Wild West Con 3, and thrilled to transport to the wild west that never was, where Abe Lincoln’s robotically preserved brain twinkles merrily next to Airship Isabella’s motley-but-sexy crew; where Steampunk Boba Fett dunks his flowery cookie in his cup of tea while Victoria and Otto meets Victoria and Otto beside a T.A.R.D.I.S.  Leather corsets, brass blunderbusses, steaming boilers, shiny medals, and a plethora of parasols adorn the most warm and friendly people you could ever hope to meet.

If you’ve never been to a steampunk convention, you might not know about the faire-like atmosphere and casual egalitarianism amongst guests and artists.  The easiest icebreaker in the world is to ask about that cool thing someone is wearing or carrying.  If you haven’t been to one, you probably also have a functioning savings account – WWWC’s vendor barn (and supplemental tents) was the most tempting array of goodies I have seen in my six-con experience.  The vast majority of items are hand-crafted (or vintage) and all of them are unique and creative.  And the barn has a bar!

Steampunk cons are wonderful because of how accessible the talent is – WWWC had a bevy of special guests who were all thrilled to be meeting and making new fans or just shooting the breeze.  By the end of such an intimate and immersive experience, everyone feels like a friend.  Who might you meet on the dusty streets of Old Tucson?  Sarah Hunter (aka NSFW Lady Clankington), NSFW model Kato, Thomas Willeford, Muffy Morrigan, David Lee Summers, author David Grasse, Eddie Louise, John Floyd the Gentleman Robot, Steampunk Boba Fett (John Strangeway), Poplock Holmes, Steam Powered Giraffe, Brian Kesinger, or Professor Elemental.  And anyone who just came for fun, like the League of S.T.E.A.M.!

Professor Elemental won't stand for such rubbish!

Professor Elemental won’t stand for such rubbish!

WWWC has affordable pass prices, for which you get up to 3 full days of 10am – 6pm programming; you can buy tickets for additional evening activities which include a Friday night ball (Dyno Staats, Nathaniel Johnstone, Osiris Belly Dance) and a Saturday night concert (The Cog Is Dead, Steam Powered Giraffe, Professor Elemental).  Even if you only do the daytime activities, the choices are so vast and so many unexpected incidental diversions pop up everywhere you look, you’ll need those few extra hours to recover each night!

In the Aristocrat Lounge, premium ticketholders get extra perks, such as dance lessons, teas, private meet and greets, and games, as well as their goodie bags and other bonuses.  It never felt like a verboten space, however, as the tea duels were also held there and were open for anyone to watch (or duel!).

 

The San Diego Carousel Hooligans gather and are foiled again!

The San Diego Carousel Hooligans gather and are foiled again!

The park itself is isolated from modern noise or light pollution, and I don’t think I saw a plane in the sky the whole time.  Sure, inside there are electric lights and margarita machines, but overall you really feel like you’ve dropped into a different world.  The “regular folks” touring the park felt strange and foreign after you’ve been chatting to the girl with the mechanical octopus on her shoulder.  Most of the main buildings used for panels and activities feel like what they are – the saloon, courthouse, chapel, sheriff’s office and you find yourself pulled into that era (with all the modern benefits of lip balm & sunscreen).  As Professor Elemental has said, “It’s hard to become immersed in the future that never was when you’re standing in the lobby of a Holiday Inn.”  It’s a unique experience and one not to be missed.

As a convention, atmosphere is really only gravy.  The panels presented were diverse and interesting (if I may say so myself) and offered something for everyone; authors, makers, cosplayers, gamers, tea duelists, historians, fans, musicians, actors, and villains could sweat over a tempting cornucopia of choices.  As I perused my well-worn program in writing this, I was reminded of panels I regretted missing – too much conflicting awesomeness!  It’s a good problem to have and one I have only experienced to this degree at San Diego Comic Con.  I learned to care for feathers and vintage gloves, the ins and outs of Victorian undergarments, I discussed steampunk public relations and watched the Hot Potato School of Writing, and missed three times as many other things.  Check out the program online to see what I am talking about.

This year was themed Land vs. Sea, and special guest and artistic style-maker of the steampunk movement Brian Kesinger provided artwork accordingly (see again the program guide).  As always, he was completely adorable and charming and handed out Otto temporary tattoos at his signing booth.  The L.O.S.E.R.s (The League Of Supremely Evil Revolutionaries) turned this theme into their popular scavenger hunt format, in which you find clues from the LOSERs and ultimately a password to declare your allegiance – Sea was triumphant this weekend!

Wild Wild West Con III Friday Night ball is just getting started.

Wild Wild West Con III Friday Night ball is just getting started.

Between the park closing hour of 6pm and the concert start of 7:30 Saturday, a group enjoyed a tailgate out by the Observation Deck, which had been claimed in the name of the Republic of Texas by The Texan, a formidable tea duelist and excellent grillmaster.  Basking in the spectacular sunset and cooling air, his foes The Judge and The Prussian put down the war-biscuit and enjoyed some beers together as friends.  I must confess, I missed as much of the convention as I did due to the endless hilarity that is tea dueling.  I will submit a separate post on this marvelous and whimsical sport but let it be known that these titans (and fellow finalist Cassandra) gave us a tremendous show at the Sunday finals, as did our hosts, the Grand Arbiter and Madam Askew and their crew.

This convention is simply a terrific experience.  Diana Given, Jason Drotman, and their crew of the Arizona Steampunk Society have done a phenomenal job. It doesn’t just rest on its atmospheric laurels.  The website is informative and full of useful information. They offer group rates at nice but not crazy expensive hotels (one of which hosted a free mixer the Thursday before it started), plenty of food options, great perks for volunteers, and good signage. Sunday there was an unfortunate and unexpected schedule re-arranging, as occasionally happens, but it was swiftly dealt with and clearly communicated among the staff. The booked talent was a great fit (I’m not 100% sold on the models but they were popular!) and they were all very friendly and sociable. You could buy a photo op with most of the special guests and get a nice print and a quiet moment to tell them how much you love their work, way off in the back of the vendor barn. Very personal! You could even wear the mechanical arm that Thomas Willeford made for Nathan Fillion for the steampunk episode of Castle. Yes, we still remember!

Dusty, dehydrated, broke, and exhausted, as we set off on the long drive back to San Diego, we couldn’t wait to do it again next year. WWWC is definitely worth the trip.

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Mar 102014
 
poplockholmes

Today’s offering comes from one of the top three “chap hop” acts in the world of steampunk, Poplock Holmes & DJ Watson.  It’s the music video for a comedy piece called Monster Hunters, and it’s rollicking good fun.

Listen for this and other tunes from Poplock Homes & DJ Watson on Krypton Radio.

Enjoy.

Lyrics

‘Twas a long, long time ago, on a night just like this.
By the full moons light, in the middle of the night, when I crept and hid.
Searching, hunting, hiding, and wanting, more treasures for my den.
My Mammoths tusks and my dinosaur bones, where do I begin.
You see my Polar bear and my Lions share of Rat Kings and the like,
It’s the obscure and the occult that, I find delight.
My menagerie is growing each and every day.
But I digress; I must confess the hunting games I play.
It was late at night that summers eve, I was on the hunt.
It was a Yeti, a Bigfoot, a Sasquatch! and I had him on the run!
I tailed his trail and cornered him into old Bigfoot’s den.
I chased him to the bottom and I thought I got him
But he got me instead!

Monster Hunters, Monster Hunters
Hey Ho, what do you know? All those Monsters gots to go.

Now that Sasquatch had me, and he held way up high.
He squeezed me tight and in his sight, and he looked me in the eye.
I thought that he would eat me, but how would I be here?
He brought me in and opened wide, then he whispered in my ear.
He said “I’ve heard of you old Poplock Holmes, and I’ve heard about your flow,
But now you’re here in my hood, and you’ve gots to go!”
I held aloft my Blunderbuss and old Yeti knocked it down.
We locked our eyes, and he towered high, but still I stood my ground.
We battled wits and went tat for tits; we were toe to toe,
But when it came to Poplock, I told him, “Really chap? I’m Poplock Holmes… That’s Poplock Holmes, at your service.”

Monster Hunters, Monster Hunters
Hey Ho, what do you know? All those Monsters got to go.

©2013 J.Ridenour – Holmes Manor Publishing

Film Crew

Directed by Jerrold Ridenour
Director of Photography Christopher Lee Warren
Frank Langley as DJ Wattson and the Yeti
AC – Adam Houle
Hair Make-up – Lora Shepherd
Production Assistant – Gavin Ridenour

Links

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