reading, watching, and carving

| February 21, 2012

Today, we are all about media, it seems.



Many thanks to Bunny, who sent in Dr. Grordbort Presents: The Deadliest Game (steampunk hunting in space!) and a link to the “Inspector Spacetime” project’s Kickstarter page.



Arc is a new publication which focuses on the future. The first issue is out!



In other publication news, Penumbra’s March issue will be dedicated to steampunk.



Via Wondermark, here are amazingly complicated book sculptures, created with a surgical knife. Beautiful and spooky, just how we like them!


Two Fisted Tuesdays with The Shadow – Murders in Wax

| February 21, 2012

Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!

Since hitting the airwaves in August 1930 as part of the “Detective Story” radio show, The Shadow has become one of the most beloved heroes in pulp history.  On Two-Fisted Tuesdays, we’ll follow the adventures of The Shadow as he battles a rogues gallery of crooks and villains from around the world.

Click on the link below to download this old time radio broadcast in MP3 format.

This week’s episode is…
The Shadow – Murders in Wax starring Orson Welles (originally broadcast on July 24, 1938).

The Shadow comic

Special thanks to John Picha for collecting all of the classic Shadow covers for us!


Ripping Yarns Hopathon to be Restaged

| February 20, 2012

The writers and stars of the cult television programme Ripping Yarns are to stage a gigantic, public hopathon in London on Saturday 3rd March. To mark the DVD release of “Ripping Yarns The Complete Series”, and as an homage to the episode entitled Tomkinson’s School Days, members of the public are sought to try and […]

Miskatonic Monday – The Music of Erich Zann by Jard Skolnick

| February 20, 2012

Lights out, everybody.

On Miskatonic Mondays, we celebrate the “weird” fiction of HP Lovecraft and the genre of otherworldly horror it spawned.

Filmmaker Jard Skolnick’s new short film, The Earth Rejects Him, premiered Saturday at the Tribeca Grand in NYC.  In it a young boy discovers a corpse while biking in the woods, then faces unexpected and macabre consequences when he tries to bury it.”

It was screened with his previous film, an adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s short story The Music of Erich Zann, which you can watch here on Dieselpunks as a part of our celebration of all things Lovecraft.  Shot in the style of the German Expressionist films of the 1920s, The Music of Erich Zann is a horror film of haunting beauty and terrifying poetry.

A young student of metaphysics is forced to take the only lodging he can afford, a crumbling and decrepit building in a strange part of the city. Every night, he hears strange and unusual music coming from the room above him, music he cannot describe and cannot ignore.

He finds that the music above is being played by Erich Zann; a mute and eccentric German man who plays at night in a local orchestra. Fascinated by the man’s genius, the student tries to befriend Zann and understand why such a great talent chooses to live in such squalor. Eventually, Howard learns of the secret behind Zann’s music, one too terrifying to imagine.

The Music of Erich Zann by Jard Skolnick

Human Race Reaches Sartorial Nadir

| February 20, 2012

In recent years, the abominable sartorial descent of the human race has reached something of a nadir, in the form of an item of clothing commonly known as the “sweat pant”. Far from being words associated with proper dress, for Chaps, these are simply two verbs which bring painful memories of physical exertion during schooldays. […]

Murdoch Mysteries – New Series

| February 20, 2012

Murdoch Mysteries is set to return to UKTV Alibi.  The brand new exclusive fifth series returns to Alibi on Tuesday 28th February at 9pm (Sky 132, Virgin 130).

Based on Maureen Jennings’ series of hit novels, Murdoch Mysteries features the ever-handsome and suave detective William Murdoch (Yannick Bisson) as he uses fledgling forensic techniques to solve perplexing crimes in Victorian-era Toronto.

Flooded with various elements of steampunk, the era perfected series returns with even more aesthetically pleasing capes, corsetry and primed moustachery.

(Check out the trailer here:

Murdoch, Constable Crabtree (Jonny Harris) and their boss, Inspector Brackenreid (Coronation Street’s Thomas Craig), find themselves at the dawn of a new century – a time of huge anticipation, trepidation, and change. Together with new addition, Dr Grace Howard, the team continues in its quest for the truth in their home city.

With the new century ushering new advances in technology, Murdoch and the team have their work cut out with new kinds of crime – from a convention of brilliant inventors who build a device capable of murder, to the creation of an electric car and to the twisted visions of a neurosurgeon who feels he can eradicate crime – they find their work cut out for them.

Murdoch’s faith in the rational and scientific undergoes its most rigorous test to date – can scientific forces for good be used to stop scientific forces for bad? And how will he react to a new female Assistant Coroner in his life?

Murdoch and his forensic methods remain the same, but how will he cope as the world around him changes?

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Brunel, by The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing!

| February 20, 2012

I was looking for a musical gem to post, and I found that … and more!  The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing released a fantastic selection (from their upcoming work, I postulate), titled “Brunel”.  Not only did I enjoy it because it reminded me of the catchy tunes I’d listen to back in “punk” days (no, not “Steampunk”, but the original “punk”), but it also indulges in another, less recognized icon of Steampunk, the Honorable Mr. Isambard Kingdom Brunel.  Quite the genius, he doesn’t have the recognition that Mr. Tesla has, but was quite the character!  After you indulge in the single, feel free to take a jaunt to his Wikipedia entry, at:
Also, The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing will release their new album next month!  To keep track of their goings on, please consider visiting…
… and their web destination, at:

Sunday Streamline #54: Who Cries For You, Argentina?

| February 19, 2012

Where do I begin?..  Should we take a narrow gauge or a broad ‘Indian’ one? There are five main gauges in Argentina, you know.

At least two of these gauges – 1000mm and 1676mm (5 ft. 8 in.) once had streamliners running on them. In 1934, Buenos Aires Western Railway received one British-built diesel electric 48-seat railbus, powered by an Armstrong-Saurer 6BXD 122hp engine. The body was built by Park Royal Vehicles Ltd, London and delivered to Scotswood for fitting. It had a cab at each end and accommodated 48 passengers. In 1937, a batch of single & double railcars, powered by Armstrong-Sulzer 6LF19 275hp engines arrived to Central Argentine Railway.

These integrally welded all steel vehicles were built by BRCW Smethwick being equipped with mechanical transmission, two with a Vulcan-Sinclair fluid coupling and Wilson five speed gearbox & two equipped with a five speed SLM oil operated gearbox. The engine, transmission and radiator were mounted on a subframe carried by one of the 12ft wheelbase bogies, the single cars weighed 38tons and were 76.5ft long and seated 75 passengers. The articulated sets weighed 66tons with a top speed of 68mph. (Source)

From 1937 through eraly 1960s, diesel multiple units built by Ganz (Hungary) were used for Buenos Aires Great Southern Railway express service. There were two DMU classes; similar in appearance, they had different dimensions. One, so-called “Ganz Catamarca”, served on the Catamarca route, metre gauge.

The other, “Ganz Bariloche”, was used on 800km Viedma – San Calos de Bariloche route, 1676mm ‘Indian’ gauge. Several months ago I wrote that Argentine Ganz DMUs could be inspired by the Chilean Railways Southern Arrows. Now, knowing when the production started, I can say just the opposite – the Arrows were built later. And don’t forget that “Ganz Bariloches” were practically identical to the Soviet DP-1/10 diesel trains received from Hungary as war reparations.

(Both photos from the photostream Ferroclub Patagonico Viedma @ Flickr)

Finally, after 1939 railway nationalization, came a domestic-built… not exactly a streamliner but a remarkable diesel electric locomotive: No. 1 Justicialista. She was powered by two 735hp Sulzer diesel engines. Top speed was 90 km/h.

Link of Interest: Article on "The Convert," by Danai Gurira

| February 18, 2012

NPR has an article interviewing Danai Gurira, a Zimbabwe-American woman who spent most of her childhood in Harare, and whose latest play The Convert explores the psychological impact of colonialism. 
Imperialism didn’t just happen materially, through military conflict and through ruthless greedy treaties. Earlier this week, I attended a talk on the psychic portrait of contemporary colonialism by Professor George Taiaiake Alfred, a Mohawk indigenous intellectual who’s worked for the Canadian government on Indigenous affairs (and is thus in the best position to critique All That’s Wrong with it). 
There’s a quote floating around, which runs like this: “When the white man came, we had the land and they had the Bible. They asked us to close our eyes and pray. When we opened our eyes, they had the land and we had the Bible.” I’ve seen it attributed to American Indians, but Google tells me that Bishop Desmond Tutu, African spiritual leader, was the first one to say it. 
Missionary schools were among the first formal schools (formal according to Western standards, that is) in Malaysia, particularly the Western peninsula, where I’m from. Until the education reform a few short decades ago that rendered all national education into Malay, missionary schools existed alongside vernacular schools (Chinese & Tamil schools), established by, well, missionaries. Many of them have very old and very good reputations. They also taught in English. Both my parents, growing up in the 60’s and 70’s, attended these missionary schools (hence why they communicate to each other in English as a common language, since they spoke/speak different dialects). 
But these things always come with a caveat, don’t they? A missionary’s got a mission, ostensibly to help those less fortunate. Not all the students that these missionary schools took in were that less fortunate, but they might as well have been, since they’re not Christian and all. Remember: Glory, gold and God. And so it is, that religion was every bit as used as a tool of imperialism. Marx doesn’t call religion the “opium of the masses” for no good reason. 

“There were many, many women who ran to the church — some of them became nuns, some of them became teachers — basically so that they could be free,” Mann says. “Women were often fleeing being sold off … or being given away, without their own permission, to be … as in this play, the 10th wife of an old man.”

S.A.M. #34: Farman Goliath

| February 18, 2012

Want to fly over Paris? A mere hundred francs will buy you a seat onboard the Goliath, the Jazz Age flying streetcar.

The two FF.60 bomber prototypes of 1918 heralded the start of a great family of passenger airliners and night bombers which dominated European aviation for the next decade. However the design formula remained fairly constant with equal-span biplane wings and a conventional monoplane-type tail unit. The landing-gear legs had trousered fairings and each supported twin wheels. Immediately above each leg was an engine set in a large nacelle on the lower wing, with minimal clearance between the propeller and the slab-sided fuselage.

Bomber versions invariably had gunners’ cockpits in the nose and amidships, while the pilot and co-pilot/navigator were seated in tandem in open cockpits. Commercial transport Goliaths had a nose cabin for four passengers and an aft cabin for eight, separated by a raised open cockpit for the two pilots under the leading edge of the upper wing.

About 60 commercial Goliaths were built in several versions with Salmson, Renault, Lorraine, Gnome-Rhone-built Jupiter, Armstrong Siddeley Jaguar and Farman engines, among the most important being those powered by 171.4kW (260 hp) Salmson Z.9 radial engines operated by Air Union.

Several flew with other airlines including the Farman airline, and indeed it was this company that started the world’s first regular international passenger service, beginning on 22 March 1919 between Paris and Brussels. Of course this had not been the first international passenger service by an airline between European capital cities, this being officially recognised as the Farman flight between Paris and London on 8 February 1919 carrying military personnel. However the latter was not the start of a sustained or civil passenger service and as such does not conflict with the Paris-Brussels “first”.

Eight-passenger compartment (Air France archive)

Three postcards from Aerofossile2012‘s photostream @ Flickr:

Versions operated by the Farman airline included the Renault-powered F.61 and Gnome-Rhone-built Jupiter-powered F.63bis. Six passenger-carrying Goliaths were also built under licence in Czechoslovakia, two going to the air force.

Movie Review: The Artist

| February 18, 2012

         Change is a constant force in our lives. Technologies change. Tastes change. One minute, people appreciate your talent, the next, you’re outdated, an instant anachronism. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have talent anymore. This is the theme of The Artist, a film by French director Michel Hazanavicius that is itself an anachronism in this day and age. It’s a black and white silent film. And not only is it a black and white silent film, it’s deliberately filmed in the style of 1920s-1930s films, complete with the camera shots, cinematography, lighting, and even aspect ratio that you’d expect from that era. The acting, as well, is also deliberately anachronistic. It’s melodramatic…the drama doesn’t come from the dialogue, but from facial expressions, body language and the direction. Many of the supporting roles are played by well-known character actors like John Goodman, James Cromwell and Malcolm McDowell. John Goodman as the studio head, in particular, commands the screen in every scene he’s in. The music is itself an actor in this film, driving the narrative.

               The film is about George Valentin, played by French actor Jean Dujardin, who is one of the biggest actors of the silent film era. After coming out of the premiere of his latest film, he accidentally bumps into aspiring actress and dancer Peppy Miller, played by Bérénice Bejo. Ever the charmer, he gives her a kiss and the photo of it ends up on the front page of Variety. Of course, his wife isn’t too happy about that. He soon meets Peppy again as she tries out for a role as an extra in his next film. He, of course, can’t keep himself away from her, and he helps jump-start her way to stardom. A few years later, however, talking pictures make silent films instantly antiquated. Peppy finds herself perfectly suited for talkies, which makes her a superstar, but George cannot adjust. He self-finances and directs a silent film of his own, in an effort to prove that silent films can still be a viable artform, but it’s a flop next to Peppy’s talky film. This, combined with the stock market crash of 1929 puts him out of a job. But Peppy cannot ignore the man who made her a star, even as he slides into alcoholism and depression.

Burlesque Star Seeks Single Chap

| February 17, 2012

Here at the Chap, we like to keep our monocled eyes peeled and our remarkably shapely ears open for unusual opportunities that might just change a chap’s life. And this is one of those rare and potentially frisky opportunities. This Wednesday, 22nd February, marks the launch of a vintage dating service called The Old Fashioned […]