Now I’ve rested from the three days of whirlwind excitement at Steampunk November, I’m ready to put words to it. This year, SPN granted me access via a Press Pass and I went and did everything I could go and do. Before we get into details, my disclaimer. I am a writer, not a journalist. Anything I get wrong is because my pen froze and my imagination filled in the gaps. It was a bit chilly this year.
Friday Night Lights
When I arrived in costume. The sun had already set. Every shop had lights, including Christmas lights. Music drifted in the chill air and I spent the night surveying the wares. Sales slowed down at night, but it’s a novel opportunity to wander about and see what’s new in the dark. We’ve made friends with many of the vendors and I enjoyed catching up with how their year has been.
Teapunk Tea Time
When I returned Saturday morning, before the gates opened, tea delivery was well underway. The folks at Teapunk Tea give away samples all day, but in the morning, they brought cups of tea to everybody opening their booths and getting ready. Warmed both my heart, and my innards. Did I mention how cold this weekend was?
A riddle wrapped inside a cypher, locked behind a Japanese Finger Trap. I met with the mastermind behind this steampunk acting troupe. Note taking stalled out due to my steampunk pen freezing and not a drop of ink would appear in my steampunk notepad. I might have forgotten to add coal. But he told me how he got started. As an attendee at A-Kon in Dallas, he and many others were waiting for a High Tea event. Things were running behind to get started, and he noticed a piano. While the event coordinator fretted how to keep guests happy during the delay, music filled the room. Inklings of Durian Grey began from the tickling of the ivories. From there invites to more events and a variety of ideas on entertaining crowds evolved. Last year, the group ran LARP-style quests for guests. This year, they performed theatrical shows. At other events, they run murder mysteries. One never knows what to expect from Durian Grey, so check them out every year.
Everyday, the dancing troupe wore different costumes and performed different numbers. On Saturday, I saw Clue. An entire routine with each dancer as a different murder suspect. At the end, you tip based on who you thought (or want) to have dunnit. I tipped for Professor Plum and she won.
I watched this fun band play a few songs and grabbed CD. As one friend put it, their songs were a smidge like They Might Be Giants on Steampunk. I’m not sure about that, but they’re a solid act and worth a listen.
Leslie and Shane
On Sunday, I crossed paths with the busy hosts of the festival. Great people, and I’m not just saying that because I got a free ticket. With so much going on, they spend most of their time organizing and working behind the scenes to make sure both the vendors have what they need and guests have a great time. Their families have a rich background in working in RenFair and such, so they’ve turned their experience into something they love and share with others, on their own property.
A wicked sense of humor infects every song. From 9 PM to 11, I froze, and I laughed and I hugged a fire most of the night. I wrote about the lovely lesson I learned from his story the next morning. Didn’t interview him, but I think my first question would have been, “How can you play the guitar when it’s freezing out?”
The fine folks at Teapunk Teas conducted this affair. My wife made a good show for herself, but the extra bendy biscuit doomed her. I managed two out of four, one of which had to re-duel due to simul-splat. Made a new friend and got the bracelet to prove it. Much fun was had by all, and we’ll be doing this again.
I Could Complain
Friday afternoon, I helped my friend Nicole setup her booth. The security team coordinated getting vehicles in and routed. When we got unloaded, I learned that with the influx of cars and the second route mudded out, I might be stuck until ten. With my wife left at the hotel, waiting for me to get her so we could dress and attend the event, that did not sound like good news. I had to stand around for another hour, and watch this crew work with radios. I realized that I could complain, but what I’d be missing is that all this was running smoothly despite the heavy rains and steady traffic of vendors. And at five, they held off the incoming vehicles so a couple cars could exit (mine included). I found later, these aren’t just volunteers, SPN has a professional events team running traffic and security, ensuring that things go well with hundreds of cars and mud. Its well managed chaos.
Steamdog Poetry Slam
Saturday morning, I put my remaining brain cells to work crafting a poem for that night’s poetry contest. I didn’t win. Better poems and readers than mine earned that honor. But that’s OK, because the poem I came up with wasn’t written to win, it was for the people working behind the scenes to bring this fine festival to us year after year. Let me close with that poem:
To the Unseen Hands
The behemoth marches
Unsteady at first
Reaching a steady pace
As the passengers dance on the deck above
Breath floats in the air
Twirling and mingling
Among laughter and song
As the land scrolls beneath the makers of clouds
The guests disembark
Unaware of the workers
Cleaning and oiling below
As the machine is readied for another night
Through muck and cold
To deliver enchantment
A child glimpses all this
As she stops before stepping off and says