Imagining a Better Future by Re-imagining the Past

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Pegasus City Brewery

Pegasus City Brewery
"Give me a woman who loves beer and I will conquer the world." Kaiser Wilhelm

I’m always looking for a great local beer. Not long ago I found one brewed here in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex that not only tasted great but had a very Dieselpunk label: Pegasus City Brewery.



Pegasus City Brewery was founded by Chris Weiss, Will Cotten, and Adrian Cotten. The founders along with a small team put out five main beers along with four seasonals. Each can comes in a cool black with a great art deco illustration.





Of their five main beers my favorite is the Sixth Floor Easy Porter.



Their beers are sold throughout the Dallas area. In addition, they have The Tiny Tap where you can go and relax while you enjoy their beers on tap. Visit their website here.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Batman: The Animated Series on Amazon Prime

In a previous post I wrote how Dark Deco is a new flavor of Dieselpunk. The term was coined by the creators of Batman: The Animated Series, which also played a major influence in the style and tropes of the flavor.


Now the entire series is available for free streaming to Amazon Prime members. This series is a much watch for fans of Dark Deco.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Dieselpunk Dames on Pinterest

As Dieselpunk grows in popularity so does its presence on the Internet. And a fun resource is Pinterest.

One of my recent discoveries on Pinterest is "Dieselpunk Dames", which is owned by Ian Farrington. Note: Some images at this board might be NSFW.




Sunday, April 29, 2018

R.U.R

In my previous post, I reviewed Blade Runner 2049. Most know that the original Blade Runner was based on the Philip K Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? However, most don’t know that the basic premise behind the novel long predates it. Like so much of the modern world it’s rooted in the Diesel Era.


On January 25th, 1921 the play RUR or Rossum’s Universal Robots premiered. Written by Karel Capek, RUR was a smash international success. The play’s storyline should be all too familiar to us,

The play begins in a factory that makes artificial people, called roboti (robots), from synthetic organic matter. They are not exactly robots by the current definition of the term: they are living flesh and blood creatures rather than machinery and are closer to the modern idea of androids or replicants. They may be mistaken for humans and can think for themselves. They seem happy to work for humans at first, but a robot rebellion leads to the extinction of the human race. (Source: Wikipedia)

Image from the original play of R.U.R
In addition to Blade Runner, the play has ties to the Dieselpunk television program Batman: The Animated Series. In the two-part episode Heart of Steel, a machine named HARDAC created mechanical replicants of people with the goal of replacing humans, which is clearly similar plot to RUR.


Not only was the episode plot inspired by the play but it also contained several nods to it as well as to the movie Blade Runner. The name of the creator of HARDAC machine was Karl Rossum, which is an obvious combination of a variant of the playwright Karel Capek with the name ‘Rossum’ who was the inventor of the robots in the play. Interestingly, Karl Rossum was voiced by William Sanderson, who played the genetic designer J.K. Sebastian in Blade Runner. In addition, one of the robots in the episode is seen driving a car with “RUR” as the license plate number.

HARDAC from Batman: he Animated Series
One can't help but notice the similarities of RUR to the SYFY channel's reimagined Battlestar Galactica. In this rebooted series we find that the Cylons had been created by humans as slave labor and had 40 years earlier rebelled against humanity. And like RUR we find that all but a small number of the human race are destroyed by their creations.

Capek’s gift to us is more than his Proto-Dieselpunk play, which sparked so many science fiction stories. It was Capek who coined the English word ‘robot’, which he based on the Czech word ‘robotnik’, which means ‘slave’.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Blade Runner 2049 - Movie Review

Back in 1982 the Dieselpunk classic Blade Runner was released. This movie set the standard that would inspire the Dark Deco look later found in Dieselpunk productions such as Batman: The Animated Series.

In 2017 Warners Brothers studio released a long awaited sequel, Blade Runner 2049, which is now on DVD/ BluRay.


The protagonist in this sequel is a Blade Runner named K (Ryan Gosling), which is short for KD9-3.7. K is not only a Blade Runner but is also himself a replicant. He dutifully does his job of ‘retiring’ rogue replicants and then goes home to his holographic girlfriend (think of her as an holographic Alexa with artificial intelligence) named Joi (Ana de Armas).

The world of Blade Runner 2049 is even harsher than it was in the original. The environment is more devastated and more bleak. Most people are packed into slums where they’re dependent upon food processing technology since the world-wide ecology, which had been in decline in the original, had completely collapsed several years prior.

The corporate bad guy in Blade Runner 2049 is Niander Wallace (Jared Leto) of the Wallace Corporation, which is the successor-in-interest to the Tyrell Corporation. The Tyrell Corporation had gone bankrupt shortly after 2022 when replicant technology was outlawed. Niander Wallace had successfully lobbied for a return to replicant manufacturing and has a monopoly on their production as well as the food production technology.

The sequel brings back three characters from the original. Harrison Ford reprises his role as Rick Deckard while Edward James Olmos appears briefly as Gaff. We even see a CGI creation of Sean Young as Rachel.


Blade Runner 2049 opens with K hunting a replicant named Sapper Morton who is superbly played by Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1 and 2). What K discovers at Sapper’s farm sets into motion events that threaten to blow their society apart.

Blade Runner 2049 is a visually stunning movie. The sets are amazing and the special effects are awe-inspiring. I’m reminded of Buzz Aldrin’s description of the moon as being “Magnificent desolation”. His poetic description of the lunar surface also applies to the world of Blade Runner 2049.

In addition to grand sets the technology is intriguing. The technology is at times retro while at times futuristic. The technology has a hands-on depth to it. There's definitely an alternate history feel to the tech.


One criticism I have is its length. It’s a loooong movie. Blade Runner 2049 clocks in at 163 minutes, which is nearly the same length of 2001: A Space Odyssey. In addition, I found much of the pace and acting as subdued. Gosling’s acting I found to be especially subtle, which made moments where he did express emotions all the more poignant.

Another criticism I have is that I thought the characters of the sequel were less interesting than those of the original. None rise to the level of those in the original, human or replicant. Of all of the new characters I found the holographic Joi to be the most interesting.

This is a Dieselpunk blog and therefore I want to address the question that’s probably on the minds of all of my readers: “Is this sequel Dieselpunk?”

In a word: no.

While Blade Runner 2049 is an amazing movie it lacks the dark decodence of the original. There’s one scene with a holographic Frank Sinatra singing ‘One For My Baby”, which he did record in 1943. However, the scene was placed in nuclear devastated Las Vegas and it therefore had a more of a early 1960s Rat Pack setting than one of decodence. And the creators of Blade Runner 2049 focused on giving Los Angeles less of a Metropolis feel and more like a dystopian future Beijing.

While Blade Runner 2049 is an amazing movie I can’t call it Dieselpunk.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Best Dieselpunk Song… Ever!

There’s a lot of Dieselpunk music out there. However, what is the iconic Dieselpunk song? What song should we tell someone to listen to when introducing them to Dieselpunk?

In my (not so) humble opinion the iconic Dieselpunk song is Minnie the Moocher by Wolfgang Parker. This cover song hits on all cylinders.

Minnie the Moocher by Wolfgang Parker


Let me count the reasons why:

Cab Calloway’s Original Is the Iconic Jazz Age Song
Released in 1931, Minnie the Moocher by Calloway has become one of the most recognizable songs of the 1930s. In 1999, Minnie the Moocher was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.



The Lyrics Captures the Dark Side of the Diesel Era

According to Wikipedia,
The lyrics are heavily laden with drug references. The character "Smokey" is described as "cokey", meaning a user of cocaine; the phrase "kick the gong around" was a slang reference to smoking opium.

The November 22, 1951 issue of Jet magazine gives this account of the "Minnie" on whom the song was based:

        Minnie "The Moocher" has died. She was a familiar figure In downtown Indianapolis. A 82-year-old woman whose real name was Minnie Gayton, she acquired the quaint nickname of "The Moocher" by regularly begging food from grocers and carting it off in a baby buggy. She slept in doorways, on porches and in garages. During the record-breaking blizzard, her body was found on a porch, blanketed with snow. She died from exposure.

Lyrics

Folks here's a story 'bout Minnie the Moocher;
she was a red hot hoochie coocher.
She was the roughest toughest frail;
but Minnie had a heart as big as a whale.

Hi de hi de hi de hi
Ho de ho de ho de ho
Hee de hee de hee de hee
Ho oo waooo waoooo

She messed around with a bloke named Smokey;
She loved him though he was cokey.
He took her down to Chinatown and showed her
how to kick the gong around.

Hi-de-hi-de-hi-de-hi
Ho-whooooaaaa-ahhhh-ohh
He-de-he-de-hee-de-he
Ho-oh-ho-oh

She had a dream about the king of Sweden;
he gave her things, that she was needin'.
He gave her a home built of gold and steel,
a diamond car, with the puh-latinum wheels.

Hi-de-hi-de-hi-de-hi-de-hi-de-hi-de-hi
Ho-de-ho-de-ho-de-ho-de-ho-de-oh
Skeedle-a-booka-diki biki skeedly beeka gookity woop!
A-booriki-booriki-booriki Hoy!

He gave her his town house and his racing horses;
each meal she ate was a dozen courses.
She had a million dollars in nickels and dimes;
she sat around and counted it all, a million times.
Check Out

Hi-de-hi-de-hi-de-hi
Ho-oh-whoaa-oh-oh-whoa
He-de-he-de-hee-de-hee

Poor Min! Poor Min! Poo-oor Min
Wolfgang Parker’s Cover is Artistically Perfect
In 2010 Dieselpunk Founding Father Tome Wilson interviewed Wolfgang Parker for the website Dieselpunk:

Let's talk a bit about your "swing punk" sound. It has all the technical guitar styling of the rockabilly era, but you're still able to put the swing edge into the songs with the rhythms and vocals.

For example, your 2010 cover of Cab Calloway's famous "Minnie the Moocher" on Petty Standards has the flavor and lyrics of the original, but your band drives it into the 21st Century with tight guitar licks and punk style beat changes.

When you start deconstructing a classic like that, it must be like taking apart a pocket watch. What kinds of challenges are involved in getting the song working again as a coherent piece when you're done?

That is a tough order. You don't want a version that doesn't at least give the original a run for its money and these songs are classics. So you have to be confident.

I look at what qualities the song has that drew me to it in the first place. Then I use that quality as the basis for the re-construction. The process also allows you to really see the beauty of great songwriting, when you can re-vamp a song and it sounds totally different than the original, but still sounds great.

Calloway Would have Approved of Wolfgang Parker’s Cover
In that same interview Parker was asked by Wilson, “Do you think Cab would have approved?” He replied,

A woman that was directly related to him saw us perform that song in Pittsburgh years ago, and she said he would have loved it. I guess I gotta trust that.

These are just a few reasons that I believe Wolfgang Parker's cover of Minnie the Moocher is the best Dieselpunk song ever.

Runner-Up:

Mack the Knife cover by Dee Snider

Saturday, March 17, 2018

New Dieselpunk Anthology - Call for Submissions

Calling all Dieselpunk writers! Anthologist Rhonda Parrish is looking for writers to contribute to a new Dieselpunk anthology titled "GRIMM, GRIT, AND GASOLINE."

Parrish certainly seems to know her Dieselpunk. On her web site wrote,
"Dieselpunk and decopunk are alternative history reimaginings of the WWI and WWII eras beginning with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and ending before the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I’m looking for tales with the grit of roaring bombers, rumbling tanks, of 'We Can Do It', the Great Depression and old time gangsters or the glamour (real or imagined) of flappers, Hollywood starlets, smoky jazz, elegant cars and Radio City Music Hall."


However, there's more to this anthology. Not only must the stories be Dieselpunk but they must involve FAIRY TALES.

Parrish explains,
"For example: a ‘mend and make do’ take on the Elves and the Shoemaker, a trench warfare version of The Emperor’s New Clothes, or Hansel and Gretel as Bonnie and Clyde. The possibilities are limitless."

The stories can be retelling of the classics or they can be original. Either way they've got to be Dieselpunk.

To learn more about this anthology and how you can submit your work visit the web site. Deadline for submissions is September 30, 2018.