Celebrating All Things Dieselpunk

Sunday, March 15, 2015

End Times Spasm Band: Baudelaire

End Times Spasm Band is a fantastic band headquartered in Fort Wayne, Indiana. According to their official web site,
The End Times Spasm Band is a hot swing ensemble led by Lyndsy Rae and Bart Helms.

We think of our music as urban Americana. Jazz as the soundtrack of the Americans who fled farmland for the cosmopolitan cities. The music of the rivers that carried people into the 20th century.

They’re newest EP is Baudelaire and I’ve been honored with having an opportunity to hear an advance release.

As the title suggests, the EP has a French theme to it. While it’s a small EP, in that there are only six tracks, each track is a gem. The title track Baudelaire, is bouncy and fun. Longtime fans will recognize it as classic End Times Spasm. However, they switch gears with the next track, The Figure of the Dance. It’s slow and Bluesy. When they get to the third track, Little Bird, they return to their energetic pace. However, it still has a more subtle feel to it than was common on their previous EPs. The fourth song is the French classic, La Vie en Rose. Being that this song was originally released by the legendary Édith Piaf back in 1945, this might be the most dieselpunk song on the EP. The fifth song, Archæologies, is wonderfully upbeat and fun. If this this one doesn’t get your feet tapping then you must be dead. Number six, Some of These Days, is another fun and upbeat song in the classic End Times Spasm Band style.

I’m sure that you can tell that I thoroughly enjoy this new EP. With Baudelaire, the End Times Spasm Band has reached a new high.

Their new EP will be released April 11, 2015. Check out their official web site.

Want to see them live? I've seen them in concert and I highly recommend it. Following are a listing of their upcoming concerts:
4/11/15 – The Brass Rail w
5/9/15 – CS3
6/6/15 – The Phoenix

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Leonard Nimoy and Dieselpunk

With the recent passing of Leonard Nimoy, I’m reminded of the two great dieselpunk episodes of the Star Trek: The Original Series.

Therefore, rather than write a bunch of stuff, I’m going to simply let productions speak for themselves.

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Great Gatsby Nintendo Game

This is the second in a series of blog posts about contemporary creations based on the novel The Great Gatsby.

While researching my first blog entry in this series I came across something I had never thought to look for. I found a video game based on the novel The Great Gatsby.

In this Nintendo game, you play Nick Carraway searching for the mysterious Jay Gatsby. In your search, you move though Gatsby’s mansion and the obstacles of West Egg.

If you’re into classic Nintendo then you might enjoy this diversion.

You can play The Great Gatsby Nintendo game free online here!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Great Gatsby (1974)

This is the first in a series of blog posts about contemporary creations based on the novel The Great Gatsby.

The year was 1974. Disco was new. Richard Nixon resigned due to the Watergate scandal. Patty Hearst was kidnapped. “All in the Family” was the most popular television show in America.

And The Great Gatsby premiered at the movies.

All of my readers should know the storyline of F Scott Fitzgerald’s novel by now. Nick Carraway arrives in New York from the Midwest hoping to make it big selling bonds as the stock market is sky rocketing. After moving into the upper class neighborhood of West Egg he meets up with his cousin Daisy Buchanan, her husband Tom (an old friend of Nick from Yale) and Jordan Baker. Then one day Nick receives an invitation to attend a grand party hosted by his neighbor, the mysterious Jay Gatsby. Nick learns from Jordan that Gatsby had known Daisy years before and that he wanted Nick’s help in reuniting the two them. Events quickly begin to spiral out of control leading the deadly consequences.

The 1974 film had an all-star cast with Robert Redford as Jay Gatsby, Mia Farrow as Daisy Buchanan, Bruce Dern as Tom Buchanan and Sam Waterston as Nick Carraway. Jack Clayton directed and David Merrick was the producer. The legendary Francis Ford Coppola wrote the screenplay.
Robert Redford as Jay Gatsby
Vincent Canby's of The New York Times back in 1974 wrote in his review of the movie, "The sets and costumes and most of the performances are exceptionally good, but the movie itself is as lifeless as a body that's been too long at the bottom of a swimming pool."

In my view, Canby was being overly generous. I found the sets and most of the costumes to be horrible. Gatsby mansion was bland and the costumes at times looked more 1970s than 1920s. One might not enjoy Luhrmann’s Gatsby but at least the fashion was more accurate than Ralph Lauren’s attempt in the 1974 movie. I have no idea how the movie won an Academy Award for Best Costume Design.

I give the director Jack Clayton credit. It takes a unique talent to suck the life out of great an actor like Robert Redford but he succeeded. The acting was stilted and the camera angles were bizarre with strange editing. The cinematography was the same bad quality found in so many of the movies in the 60s and 70s. In addition, who in the name of all of the Gods of the Cinema thought that Bruce Dern was a good fit for Tom Buchanan? Dern was an abysmal choice for that role.
Mia Farrow as Daisy Buchanan
Oh, there were a few bright spots in the movie. The portrayal of Gatsby’s grand parties was spot on. The costumes of the partiers, especially the women, as opposed to the main cast, were quite accurate (maybe that was why it won an Oscar). Same for the dancing, which looked like it was straight from some of the candid films made of flappers during the 1920s. Moreover, Redford, unlike DiCaprio, was able to make the phrase ‘old sport’ seem natural although he fails to say it often enough in the movie.

The movie poster read, “Gone is the Romance that was So Divine.” That statement is a perfect description of the 1974 version of Gatsby.

Thankfully, you don’t have to spend your hard-earned money to watch this movie. If you really want to torture yourself, you can always watch it online at You Tube.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Dieselpunk Returns to TV: Agent Carter

This is a good time to be a comic book fan. Not only are there blockbuster movies based on comic book fans but there’s also television shows. The most recent comic book themed television is Agent Carter.

According to Wikipedia,
The series features the Marvel Comics character Peggy Carter, with Hayley Atwell reprising her role from the film series, as she must balance doing administrative work and going on secret missions for Howard Stark while trying to navigate life as a single woman in 1940s America.

Agent Carter is getting great reviews. I highly recommend this review at Tech Gen Mag.com.

Agent Carter has all of the elements of dieselpunk. Not only is it contemporary and has decodence it has ‘Punk’. The Punk in the series not only includes science fiction with Stark’s devices but more importantly, the character of Agent Carter gives it Punk. Carter is a strong woman who fights not only villains but also the rabid misogyny that dominated America of the 1940s.

You can see the rebroadcasts of episodes online at ABC.go.com
To hear a detailed analysis of each episode of Agent Carter visit the web site for the Diesel Powered Podcast.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

The Great War: Steampunk or Dieselpunk?

The year 2014 marked the 100th anniversary of the start of the Great War. I’ve long held the view that World War 1 serves as a transition zone in genre-punk. Genre-punk marched into the Great War as Steampunk and marches out as Dieselpunk. In addition, either Steampunk or Dieselpunk can lay claim to the First World War.

I would like to provide an excerpt from When This Bloody War is Over: Soldiers’ Songs of the First World War by Max Arthur. Lyn Macdonald, a British military historian who specializes in the Great War, wrote the following for the book’s introduction: 

The Victorian era did not die with the demise of the old Queen-Empress in 1901 at the birth of a new century. It began to skid to a halt in 1914 at the start of the Great War. By the time it ended, a new era and a new world had been born and music of the First World War can be a pungent reminder that this was a society in transition.

The generation that fought it were Victorians to a man. Men of the Regular Army were even mid-Victorians, those legendary “Soldiers of the Queen’ who had served her in the farthest reaches of her Empire or fought at Omdurman or Spion Kop. Even the youngest of the adventurous youths who joined Kitchener’s Army by the hundred thousand had been born while the Queen still occupied the throne and were nurtured and moulded by the long-accepted mores and disciplines of what was generally accepted as an age of enlightenment.
It certainly was an inventive age. In the lifetime of lads who joined the Army in 1914 at the age of 19 (or not infrequently younger) they had seen Bleriot fly across the English Channel, the birth of film as a popular entertainment, the development of the pneumatic tyre and the explosion of cycling as an everyday means of transport. A fortunate few even owned motor-bikes. People had become accustomed to the sight of motor-vehicles in the streets and aeroplanes in the sky. Wireless was emerging from its experimental infancy, telephones were no longer new-fangled devices, gramophones were commonplace for those who could afford them. Pianos could be purchased ‘on the never never’ for as little as a shilling a week, and every respectable household which aspired to an aspidistra in the window wanted a piano in the parlour. There was an upright piano in every church hall, every boys’ club and in almost every saloon bar where the popular Saturday night sing-song could be enjoyed, even by the poorest, for the price of a ginger ale, sipped slowly to last the evening. There were thousands of accomplished pianists and many who could play by ear so, one way or another, in any gathering there was always someone who could strum out a tune on the piano.

Ms. Macdonald’s introduction lends support for my position. The first paragraph supports that the source era for Steampunk didn’t end in 1901 but died gradually during World War 1 and that the conflict serves as a transition. The second and third paragraphs supports that the Great War could be claimed by either genre-punk.

So, which genre-punk can claim the First World War? The answer is that both can.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Atlanta Radio Theatre Company

The Diesel Era (1920s – 1940s) is often called the Golden Age of Radio. In an early post I wrote about the radio show A Prairie Home Companion as being one of the few continuing the legacy with new and original material. Another great source is the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company.

According to the ARTC web site:
The Atlanta Radio Theatre Company was founded in 1984 by radio personality William L. Brown and actor/director Patrick Stansbury. They incorporated ARTC as a non-profit educational corporation, dedicated to the production and distribution of quality audio drama.
To procure funding, Mr. Stansbury persuaded the Citizens and Southern National Bank (as it was then known, later part of NationsBank, now Bank of America) to sponsor a weekly, one hour program on WGST-AM — and Mr. Brown turned his spare bedroom into a recording studio. Atlanta playwright Thomas E. Fuller (now better known as one of the authors of Wishbone books for young readers) was enlisted as principal writer, and numerous actors from the local theatrical community joined this exciting new venture.
Soon, program production became too complicated for a small bedroom studio. Henry Howard, owner of Audio Craft, made his facility available to ARTC and came on board as a producer.
This was simply the beginning of ARTC. They have continued to thrive in venues such as Dragon*Con and have a standing program year-round.

You can hear podcast recordings of some of their programming at their web site.