Celebrating All Things Dieselpunk

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Bat is my Brother by Robert Bloch

Thanks largely to books such as An Interview with the Vampire and the Twilight series, vampire stories have seen resurgence in popularity. Recently I had the good fortune to read the short story The Bat is My Brother by Robert Bloch, which was written in 1944 and published in Weird Tales.

The author Robert Bloch is most famous for his novel Psycho, which was the basis of the movie. His statement "Despite my ghoulish reputation, I really have the heart of a small boy. I keep it in a jar on my desk," was borrowed by Stephen King and is often attributed to King rather than Bloch.

The story opens with the protagonist Graham Keene awakening to find himself seemingly buried alive in a paupers grave. As horrible a situation as that would be, the situation quickly takes an even more terrifying turn when he learns that he’s burial was due to a vampire attack that he is now one of the undead.

The Bat is My Brother is an overall good story. In many ways it was ahead of its time with the removal of the supernatural (in the story, vampirism is a disease rather than black magic) along with elements reminiscent of the movie Daybreakers.

Pages of Weird Tales with the story can be viewed here. There is also an unofficial Robert Bloch website.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

V-2 Rocket

According the web site, History.com, on March 27, 1945, Germany launched their last V-2 missiles against the Allies from their only remaining launch site in the Netherlands. While it failed to turn the war, the attack killed almost 200 civilians in England and Belgium.

The long-range missile had been in development by German scientists since the 1930s. After numerous failures, on October 3, 1942 they achieved a successful trial launch of the V-2 from Peenemunde, an island off Germany's Baltic coast. The missile was capable of carrying a one-ton warhead and traveled 118 miles in that first test.

Click to Enlarge
Click to Enlarge to Image
History.com provides some interesting trivia about the V-2. The genius behind the creation of this terror machine was the rocket scientist Wernher von Braun, who would later be the leading scientist on the American space program after the war. Unlike bombers, the V-2 was virtually impossible to intercept. When launched, the V-2 would rise six miles vertically and then cut off its own fuel as it entered its downward arch. By the time it reached the ground, the V-2 would have been traveling at nearly 4,000 mph. The force of impact was so extreme that it would burrow itself several feet below ground before it detonated. The V-2 rocket could travel a distance of 200 miles. In addition, the launch pads were mobile, which made it nearly impossible to detect before launch.

Wernher Von Braun
Germany first used the V-2 on September 6, 1944 when they fired two rockets at Paris. Two days later, they fired two more at England. Over the following six months, Germany would launch over 1,100 more V-2s at England. Ultimately, rocket attacks killed more than 2,700 Brits. In Belgium, the death toll was much worse with a death toll of 4,483.

When the war ended, both the US forces and the Soviets rushed to grab as much of the V-2 technology and as many German rocket scientists as they could. The legacy of the V-2 project has been both positive and dark in that it resulted in both the American and Soviet space programs that advanced human understanding as well as the development of the Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM) capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Artist Tom Lea

The artist Tom Lea was born in El Paso, Texas at 4:44 a.m. during the 7th month in 1907. With this combination of numbers in his birthdate, Lea would later joke in his biography, “I should be lucky as hell at craps.” After graduation from high school, he left El Paso and moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico where he studied . Later, he moved to Chicago where he studied at the Art Institute of Chicago. There he met and married Nancy Jane Taylor. 

Lea eventually quit the Art Institute. He then dedicated his work to the creation of murals under the mentorship of the famed mural artist John Norton. Lea, under the encouragement of Norton, then travelled to Italy with his wife so that he could study the Italian style of murals in 1930.

In 1936, after returning to Santa Fe, Nancy developed a severe pain in her side and he rushed her to the hospital. Unfortunately, the condition of the hospital where the appendectomy took place was very poor for the time and Nancy’s incision became infected. They moved back to El Paso where Nancy was hospitalized. In April of that year Nancy died. Later that same year, his grandmother and then his mother passed away. That year he painted a work that he titled “Lonely Town”. Of the painting he said, “I think the deaths in my family probably echoed in my subconscious mind in this painting”.

Lonely Town

Many of Lea’s murals that he created during the 1930s still exist. The West Texas Room of the Texas Hall of State in Dallas, Texas; Branigan Cultural Center, Las Cruces, New Mexico; the Benjamin Franklin Post Office, Washington, D.C.; the Federal Courthouse, El Paso, Texas; the Post Office in Pleasant Hill, Missouri and the Post Office in Odessa, Texas.

Texas Hall of State in Dallas

Texas Hall of State in Dallas

When World War II broke out Lea became an Accredited War Artist-Correspondent of Life magazine. During the war, he served aboard a U.S. Navy destroyer in the North Atlantic.

Tom Lea during World War II

In his book “The Southwest. It’s Where I Live” he described his experience during the war:

"I became, for deeply felt reasons, an eye-witness reporter, in drawings and paintings, of men and their machines waging a war worldwide.

I want to make it clear that I did not report hearsay; I did not imagine, or fake, or improvise; I did not cuddle up with personal emotion, moral notion, or political opinion about War with a capital-W.  I reported in pictures what I saw with my own two eyes, wide open."

Lea’s artwork never glorified war. Instead, it caught the terrible human trauma that it inflicted on everyone. “The 2,000 Yard Stare” might be the most haunting painting of the war.

The 2,000 Yard Stare
After the war, Lea picked up the pen and started writing. Among his writings was the novel The Brave Bulls (1949), which Time Magazine declared The Brave Bulls "the best first novel of the year".

Lea died January 29, 2001. He’s buried in the Texas State Cemetery in Austin, Texas.

Sunday, March 2, 2014


You might not have heard of dieselfunk but you can certainly expect to hear more about it soon. For those that don’t know, dieselfunk is an exciting new phenomenon that combines the zeitgeist of the period between World War I and the early 1950s with Afrofuturistism.

Recently the fantastic dieselpunk author Jack Philpott wrote a excellent guest entry for the dieselfunk blog Chronicles of Harriet.  Check it out!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Postmodern Jukebox and Puddles the Clown

The dieselpunk band Postmodern Jukebox is out with a brand new song and video that is burning up the Internet. Royals sung by Puddles the Clown.

Puddles is actually Big Mike Geier, who is actually as tall as he looks in the video (7 feet), an entertainer in the Atlanta, Georgia area.

Visit the web site for Postmodern Jukebox to learn more about the making of the video for Royal. In addition, you can see Postmodern Jukebox (minus Puddles) perform live at AetherFest 2014 in San Antonio, Texas.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Chinese Dieselpunk Music

In recognition of the Chinese New Year, National Public Radio recently broadcasted an article about the rise of dieselpunk music in China.

Click Here to listen to "Can't Get Your Love"

Click on the NPR logo to visit the web site and listen to the broadcast.

Click on Logo to Listen to Broadcast

Saturday, January 18, 2014

North Texas Vintage Life Expo Report

The North Texas Vintage Life Expo was an amazing success! The attendance was approximately 350 people. The feedback from everyone was very positive with repeated calls for a second. More photos are posted the Expo official site.