Celebrating All Things Dieselpunk

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.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Attack on Pearl Harbor

The title of this blog post says it all. It was December 7, 1941, at 7:48 a.m. that the Empire of Japan attacked the United States of America at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. 2,403 Americans were killed while 1,178 others were wounded.

There are numerous good online resources about the attack. An intriguing one that I found recently was a radio news report made shortly after the attack by a reporter who witnessed it. You can listen to it here.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Dyess Colony

"My family was saved by the WPA." - Rosanne Cash

Back in 1934, the Roosevelt Administration established the Dyess Colony in far Eastern Arkansas. It was built on a swamp and covered 16,000 acres. It was to be a small collective meant to pull people out of the Depression. At its height, the Dyess Colony had more than 2,500 residents. The residents were called "representative colonists" and were chosen for their ability to be self-sufficient yet willingness to cooperate. They would share the profits from the crops, the general store and the cannery. They even had their own currency called "doodlum".

Roscoe Phillips, who was born at Dyess 77 years ago, stated in an interview for the Associated Press, "This was a practice in socialism. They took people who had nothing and gave us something. It wouldn't happen today."

The Dyess Colony was continuously under threat. Arkansas Governor Bailey, in 1939, accused the state WPA director Floyd Sharp of opposing him during his election to a second term. That year Bailey and his supporters tried to force an audit the books of Dyess Colony, Inc. Dyess supporters were able to kill the bill through filibuster. However, Bailey wasn’t done. In March 1939, Governor Bailey claiming that the Colony had failed to pay franchise tax to the state, was able to shut down the Dyess Colony, Inc., which left it without legal authority to do business in Arkansas.

According to the official site of the Historic Dyess Colony, "On March 22, 1939, Floyd Sharp set up the Dyess Rural Rehabilitation Corporation as a nonprofit replacement administrator and successor to Dyess Colony, Inc. By this time, the WPA was anxious to end its involvement with Dyess and similar colony projects, and Sharp felt that his own involvement made the Colony a target of the governor. Sharp approached the Little Rock Regional Director of the Farm Security Administration, T. Roy Reid, asking about the possibility of transferring the Dyess Colony to his agency. Reid agreed, and in November 1939 the FSA assumed control of the Dyess Colony Corporation. In 1964, Dyess was incorporated as a municipality governed by a mayor and board of aldermen."

The most famous representative colonist of the Dyess Colony was Johnny Cash. According to the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture,
"1936, the parents of future music legend Johnny Cash settled there. Ray Cash and Carrie Rivers Cash were one of five families selected from Cleveland County. Called "John" by friends and "J. R." in his high school yearbook, young Cash attended Dyess High School, graduating in 1950 as class vice president. He visited the community throughout his career in show business."

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Aetherfest 2014

Texas is lucky to be the home of several cool conventions. One of the best is Aetherfest, which takes place in the historic city of San Antonio November 21 - 23. 2014.

The official website for the convention describes itself as:
AetherFest is Texas' premier Retro-Futurist convention, put together by fans for fans. Expect informative and fun panels, interactive workshops, fantastic guests of honor and local participants, diverse musicians and dances, and, of course, the decadent shindigs. We cover everything from literature to film and every possible form of Retro-Futurist media, so join us and your fellow Retro-Fans at AetherFest!

Certainly ‘retro-futuris’ isn’t a term you hear every day. The web site explains this well:
Retro-Futurism explores the themes of tension between past and future, and between the alienating and empowering effects of technology. Primarily reflected in artistic creations and modified technologies that realize the imagined artifacts of its parallel reality, retro-futurism has also manifested in the worlds of fashion, architecture, design, music, literature, film, and video games. From Steampunk to Dieselpunk to Cyberpunk, AetherFest embraces them all!

I’m honored to announce that the organizing committee chose me to as this year’s “Fan Guest of the Year” and I will be participating in several panels. My first panel is Friday night, November 21, ‘A Dieselpunk Primer’.

Come to this fantastic convention, swing by and say ‘Hi’!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

A Dieselpunk Halloween

This year we’re lucky to have Halloween land on a Friday night. Getting in the spirit (snicker) of the day, here’s a few random thoughts.

Dieselpunk Costumes
Here are a few cool examples of cool dieselpunk costumes that I found online.



Dieselpunk Movies
My good friend and podcast co-host Johnny Dellarocca has correctly pointed out that dieselpunk is a heavily visual medium. Therefore, here are few good dieselpunk horror movies to enjoy.



Cthulhu Mythos
We’re lucky in dieselpunk that we have a fantastic horror literature legacy with the works of H.P. Lovecraft who wrote his spooky stories during the 1920s and 30s. His works can be found in any library or bookstore. In addition to reading his material, you could play the RPG classic Call of Cthulhu.

Creepy Diesel Era Halloween Pictures
Finally, there’s something just creepy about Halloween photos from the Diesel Era.