John Carter of Mars Trailer. My take on it.

Just watched John Carter trailer in 1080p, with lots of breaks for details. Here's my blow by blow take.

00:09 - pic of John Carter- very savage noble/John Clayton look. He's totally uncomfortable in the clothes/chair, nice touch.

00:15 - Waking up on Mars, fully clothed? hmmm...

00:19 - First thing he sees, Could be Arizona, but wait, Ochre moss. FTW!

00:27 - View of Helium? To much clothing. Looks like Prince of Persia.

00:30 - Shot of Dejah Thoris from behind, beautiful shot, decoration more angular, American Craftsman/Frank Lloyd Wright than the Art Noveau/Gaudi look I has imagined. Right time period.

00:34 - Burning Flyer? Village? More pathos than I like.

00:36 - First good look at a Red Martian, Dejah Thoris is darker than John Carter Good color contrast. Not as red/coppery skin as I exptected, but enough to see a difference. And enough that John Carter with a deep tan could almost pass, like it states in many books.

00:39 - John & Dejah with swords... shades of Arwen warrior princess?

00:43 - Blue line room. WTF?? Air Factory?

00:44 - John Carter in silks and harness. Not very Frazetta or Whelan, but a whole lot like Gahan in my early 20's hardback of Chessmen.

00:48 - John Carter standing against a oncoming group of Warhoons? Swords look Rather like Indonesian Klewang. Calots look long and stringy (spidery?) Thoats look much sturdier than I had expected. Like the Rhinocerus arena beast in Attack of the Clones. (an obviously Burroughs inspired scene)
Is it me or is JC's longsword not long enough?

00:50 Flyers/Airships- novel design. Are the forward sweeping nacels the 5th ray (?) buoyancy tanks? Improbable design.

00:54- Airship over a flyer. Guy in... Armour??? Grumble...

01:05 JC fighting a bunch of Romans. WTF?

01:07- Dusty blue cavalry- Union soldiers? Perhaps a PC way to get JC to Mars instead of being chased by Apache?

01:08- Dejah Thoris vs. Green Man (Tars Tarkas ?) Nice look for the green man. +1

01:11- SAK! That is how JC's supposed to jump.

01:18 - "When I saw you, I thought it was a sign..." Tars Tarkas pledging allegiance to JC? Good.


Ok, that's all folks. Every time I watch this trailer, I am more convinced that this, while not my vision, is a good vision of Barsoom, much like John Howe's take on Middle Earth. Now if Stanton can refrain from directorbation or updating the story to much this could really be something.

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Capitalism, Commerialization, Commercialism, and Modernity

Shamelessly stolen from wikipedia.

Capitalism is an economic system structured upon the accumulation of capital in which the means of production are privately owned and operated for profit, usually in competitive markets. Income in a capitalist system takes at least two forms, profit on the one hand and wages on the other. There is also a tradition that treats rent, income from the control of natural resources, as a third phenomenon distinct from either of those. In any case, profit is what is received, by virtue of control of the tools of production, by those who provide the capital. Often profits are used to expand an enterprise, thus creating more jobs and wealth. Wages are received by those who provide a service to the enterprise, also known as workers, but do not have an ownership stake in it, and are therefore compensated irrespective of whether the enterprise makes a profit or a loss.

Consumerism is a social and economic order that is based on the systematic creation and fostering of a desire to purchase goods and services in ever greater amounts. The term is often associated with criticisms of consumption starting with Thorstein Veblen. Veblen's subject of examination, the newly emergent middle class arising at the turn of the twentieth century, comes to full fruition by the end of the twentieth century through the process of globalization.

The tendency within open-market capitalism to turn everything into objects, images, and services sold for the purpose of generating profit. There is also a tendency for intangible things such as happiness, beauty, or health to be given a monetary value (monetization) and to be spoken of as commodities.

Modernity: Modernity typically refers to a post-traditional, post-medieval historical period, one marked by the move from feudalism (or agrarianism) toward capitalism, industrialization, secularization, rationalization, the nation-state and its constituent institutions and forms of surveillance. Conceptually, modernity relates to the modern era and to modernism, but forms a distinct concept. Whereas the Enlightenment invokes a specific movement in Western philosophy, modernity tends to refer only to the social relations associated with the rise of capitalism. Modernity may also refer to tendencies in intellectual culture, particularly the movements intertwined with secularisation and post-industrial life, such as Marxism, existentialism, and the formal establishment of social science. In context, modernity has been associated with cultural and intellectual movements of 1436—1789 and extending to the 1970s or later.

Modernism: Modernism, in its broadest definition, is modern thought, character, or practice. More specifically, the term describes the modernist movement, its set of cultural tendencies and array of associated cultural movements, originally arising from wide-scale and far-reaching changes to Western society in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Modernism was a revolt against the conservative values of realism. Arguably the most paradigmatic motive of modernism is the rejection of tradition and its reprise, incorporation, rewriting, recapitulation, revision and parody in new forms. Modernism rejected the lingering certainty of Enlightenment thinking and also rejected the existence of a compassionate, all-powerful Creator God.

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In praise of the curmudgeon.

Last year while on the Great Steampunk Debate, I discovered that there are four main streams of steampunk; literary, maker,  political, and cosplay. I also discovered that among  those who love steampunk the most are those who have declared it dead. I almost think this is a fifth stream of steampunk, the disaffected lovers. I have stayed in touch with only three people on the board. Two of them were among the biggest rabble rousers on the board.

This weekend, I had the pleasure of meeting one of them. I had a half-hour before heading to the airport to meet Waterbug and see his steampunk steam trunk/craftsman home, Feydeau. I took an hour and a half (and made my flight with 5 minutes to spare).

Feydeau is a mid-forties subdivision home in  central Phoenix, Az. The neighborhood seems neither to rich or to poor. It is full of culture, including an little independent coffee shop in an old gas station, several thrift shops, and an antique car museum. From the outside, you would never expect the treat you see on entering. You can see a tour at his site,  which is beautiful, but doesn't do the house justice. Please take a look. Dwell on his closet, the bathroom, and the secret passage (the release mechanism is made from old typewriter parts).

I could have stayed all day, looking at little details, and  talking to Waterbug about craftsmanship, annealing copper, the evolution of the typewriter, the Arts and Crafts movement, and a hundred other topics. He is neither confined by modernity, nor slavish recreate past forms. Instead, he has synthesized them in the best realization I have seen of a steampunk maker. Just don't call him a steampunk, or a maker. Most of his materials are garnered on Craigslist and repurposed. The craftsmanship is supurb. The whimsy replete. The inspiration clear.

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The 30 Cravats of Le Blanc

In 1828, H. Le Blanc Esq. published the 'Art of Tying the Cravat', a treatise on the tying of that most civilised article of clothing. I chose to treat this  book first as it is not tounge in cheek as is Neckclothitania, which predates it by ten years. LeBlanc gives a history of the Cravat and then explains how to tie the various knots. Le Blanc  notes the following 30 cravat knots (I have translated the names from French to English):


  1. Gordian Knots
  2. Oriental
  3. American
  4. Horse Collar
  5. Sentimental
  6. Byron
  7. Cascade
  8. Bergami
  9. Ball Room
  10. Mathematical
  11. Irish
  12. Maratte
  13. Gastronomical
  14. Hunter - Diana
  15. English
  1. Independence
  2. Portmanteau
  3. Shell
  4. Travelling
  5. Colin
  6. Fountain
  7. Broken Heart
  8. Lazy Woman
  9. Romantic
  10. Fidelity
  11. Talma
  12. Italian
  13. Diplomatic
  14. Russian
  15. Jesuit

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Neckcloth, Tie, Ascot, Cravat; What’s in a name?

So I just stuck my foot in my mouth in a twitter conversation. And I realize that I know less about the tie than I thought I did.  And worse, I have committed the cardinal sin of responsible research. I have made broad and sweeping statements about stuff based on a couple Google searches.

I know the three basic knots that are required for contemporary wear and two others that produce the standard result.  I know the knots for the bow tie, the informal ascot, and the noeud gordien, or at least one form of it. But there are at least 12 distinct,  named ways* of getting to the contemporary standard look. When you go back in time, and expand the expected style, the methods explode.

I have decided to dedicate a portion of this blog to the exploration of the cravat in it's glory. Will I use responsible research techniques? That remains to be seen.  But at this point, an evening's searching has turned up 69 named knots, that's a lot of wiggle room.


* I have found 26, but believe there is significant duplication, as well some physicists have mathematically extrapolated 85 possible knots.

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Edward Ellis: The Huge Hunter, or The Steam Man of the Prairies

Well that's about it. I'm done with Edisonades, and I think dimestore fiction in general.  This book is available for free on Project Gutenberg, or as a podcast.

Here's the steampunk factor:

Technofantasy: 18 points There is very little technofantasy about this concept. It's really extrapolating existing technology into a novel design. It's barely fantastic in the science fiction sense.

(Neo)Victorianism: 30 points Period piece not at all out of sorts.

Retro-futurism: 15 points Yes, this is futurism, envisioning steam automata. But little else is here.

Intangibles: 0 points I found little to recommend this one.

Total: 63/100 63% Steamish enough.

I looked forward to this one. Written in 1868, it's considered to be the first edisonade, and the first American novel with a robot. The story here revolves around a boy genius, and the adventures encountered when he takes a steam powered man for a joy ride on the prairie.  It  was poorly written, and full of the 'wow' factor that I hated in Galactica 1980. Look, it's a flying motorcyle! Look it's a steam boiler with piston legs, and back wheels! While it is true that people would be impressed with it the first time, the luster is soon lost on the audience, and the superlatives need to stop after a while. They didn't.

Also while I have been a proponent of a degree of ethnic/gender/class discrimination in Steampunk, I was completely taken aback by the depictions of 'the other' in this story. The other, in this case, being Native Americans and Irish. I think that the most annoying thing about this is  that the stereotypes were used to make straw man characters that were simply plot devices. There is more here, but I want to deal with this more in my  review of 20,000 Leagues.

Finally the story is sub-titled, "The Huge Hunter", who makes a single apperance, as a very bad person, and then is avoided, and never seen again. What's going on here? Was there another half of the book that got dropped? Makes me wonder. But not much, this book was to long as it was.


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Now that’s the way to do a luminary…

Hmm.. Quick change, perhaps in a mason Jar as an oil lamp?


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Using Word 2007 (or 2010) to publish to a CMS

I had been aware that Word 2007 had a blog publishing feature for a while, but hadn't thought much about it. I absolutely hated Word 2003's export to HTML, and had no interest in looking at it further. That is until a friend mentioned that he used Word 2010 to publish his blog.

Interested, I inspected his markup, and found it to be spare. Not something I would ever ascribe to an MS Office product. This got me thinking, would this feature work with something other than a blog? Perhaps to a CMS? I checked out Word 2007, and found that it has the same features, and will publish with either MetaWeblog, or ATOM.

MetaWeblog can be supported by Joomla, so I thought I'd give it a go. I found a plugin that allows Joomla to accept MetaWeblog input, and another to allow connections from Word. After installing I tried it out, and found that the export was great. No problems whatsoever. Your mileage may vary but it seems possible on the following systems…

  • Joomla,
  • Drupal,
  • WordPress (well duh),
  • dotnetnuke,
  • umbraco.

I am sure it would work with many others. I am blown away. This so rocks. BTW, this post was created, and updated in Word.

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When did socialism jump the shark?

Socialism was, in the 19th century, a local communitarian ideal. It was supposed to be about lots of independent small scale, self sufficient,  egalitarian  communities.   How did it evolve into large state authoritarianism?

It was about capable highly skilled people supporting each other. How did it become identified as taking from the capable to support the lowest common denominator?

I think it may have been the Paris Commune. Any thoughts?

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“Will steampunk last?” is not an interesting question.

If you distill the essential qualities of successful movements/ subcultures/ groups you will find that they tap into a unfulfilled need in their participants. "Will it last?" begs other, more interesting questions:

  • What need does it fulfill?
  • Why is this expression of that fulfillment important?
  • Why now?

In "Triumph of the Moon", a history of modern neopaganism, Pr. Ronald Hutton suggests that many sub-/counter-culture groups of the last two centuries (e.g. the SCA, Wicca, the Boy Scouts, Waldorf education, the Arts & Crafts Movement, the Romantics) are reactions to the industrial revolution and the removal of man from close daily interaction with nature (or more accurately the liminal space between the wild and the wholly human countryside). I think that Steampunk is something different than these previous movements. Steampunk does not seek communion with nature or a pastoral idyll. While there is no single narrative, steampunk deals with the loss of something else, the industrial revolution. (Yeah, yeah, I know... Laputa. I would suggest the big robot in nature theme is a transitional style) Much if not most of the West has successfully transported its industry to other parts of the world. Moving out of an industrial mode of daily life, we are looking back to the industrial revolution in the same way as our predecessors looked back to the loss of the countryside and the wild. The factory, the cog, the naked machine replaced the farm as the place that the majority spent their waking lives. Now that is gone, and significant portions of society are feeling it's loss. Am I on to something, or am I thinking to hard?

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