What Gets My Gears Turning

So how was the International Steampunk Festival? Essentially, it can be summed up like this:

Yes, that's me, laughing in the rain (as opposed to singing in the rain, but I'm not that cruel to animals) having a great time in costume under an umbrella. Despite assurances that the sky was blue and the sun was shining, I've lived in New England enough to know better than be fooled and heeded Mark Twain's advice that if you don't like the weather in New England, just wait five minutes and it will change. So putting aside the fear of soaking my hat's bee-yoo-ti-ful plumage, it was a fun and lovely event out on the Waltham green; a real testament to random people's creativity and willingness to be silly in the face of an otherwise perfectly normal afternoon. (Many onlookers and innocent passers-by clearly noticed that it was anything but a perfectly normal afternoon!) But truly, that's part of the fun! The point is to "Scene and Be Seen!"

First, let me say "Hats off!" to my sister-in-law who gamely donned borrowed costuming and accepted cameo pins, teeny tiny top hat, and a homemade hand-held gattling in stride when she agreed to come along with me on this last-minute whirlwind exploration of steampunk geekery. And if THAT'S not love, what is?

We entered the Visitor's Check-In to browse the indoor displays, pick up a newspaper of events, and repair my double-barrel sidearm that had broken a sight not five minutes into the festival. (Yay epoxy!) We quickly went to check out the display tables of trinkets and hats, the street performers with balloons and clocks, accordions and violins, and (of course) people-watch. The costumes and gadgets were a wide range of fantastic amidst a backdrop of music and merry mayhem that included giant-wheeled ancient bicycle rides and steam-powered model engines tooting and chugging and spurting impressively. My favorite pics are here:

The good sport and her wacky tormentor pictured here.

A steampunk computer: mounted, framed, and sporting typewriter keys on wooden desk

Working steam engine from an engine model builder's group...I have a film clip of this!

One of the most impressive costumes: A Steampunk Gentleman Professor. Every detail was exquisite.

One of the most hilarious costumes: can you see her? It's the Green Absinthe Fairy!
Many more fabulous (and professional-looking) photos can be found here!

And then it started to rain. Luckily, we'd taken a well-timed break for lunch so missed the worst of the downpour, but eventually had to concede that if we were going to see anything outside the Thai restaurant walls, we'd have to venture outside with our single umbrella. Which we did. Ducking under awnings and picking our way up Moody street, we slipped into stores that boasted discounts for costumed crazies and Free Comic Book Day at The Outer Limits. The tough part was that, because of the rain, many of the outdoor concerts and venues were either canceled or relocated and we couldn't seem to find where. (The worst was getting to the Watch Factory to go in one wrong door, exit, go round the back, find more vendors but no performances, only to learn by happy accident that all the scheduled events had been moved to Moody Street...where we'd just come from. Sigh.) So I didn't get to see enough of Frenchy and the Punk, but *did* manage to catch some tunes and comedic performances as we explored the last-minute market that popped up within the old Sovereign Bank building. (Something that reminded me of the Floating Market at Harrods in Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere but that's the way my mind works.)

And then we met these people:

As we were being treated to a display of futuristic-past-Mad-Max-Meets-Matrix-ala-Jules-Verne sort of head contraptions, I overheard these important words: "interactive", "scavenger hunt" & "pub crawl." Can you say "DING?!?" From that point on, our priorities changed because while I adore interactive theater, my sister-in-law adores puzzles even more (as does her husband and all of their friends) so: New Plan! We went home, begged for a babysitter, kidnapped my brother-in-law, dressed him up in vest, cravat and gold key on a chain, and headed back to join a team of hardy adventurers ready to save the world (or, in our case, destroy it) by searching for clues to a Doomsday Engine! (Honestly, I don't think these people were in any way prepared for the likes of us...but laughter was abundant and it was fun!) Alas, only trooper newbie Dan showed up to join our trio but held his own as we underwent black magic charades, drugged an agent with truth serum, unscrambled coded clues, drew a vampire's inner beauty and bartered our way into wealth, high status, and immortality. All in all, a great way to spend an evening in surreality.

So, to my family: thanks for my Mother's Day present, guys! It was a great laugh and the kids love their new goggles!


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