Totalitarian Fan Fashion

tzel reposted an very good article from into the community. I believe that this post about the new costuming trend in fandom (which some are already complaining about) reflects an issue that’s been around for a long time. With notations and edits, here’s my abridged version of the post:

Rule One: Steampunk fashion is a real-world reproduction of the clothing that is or could be found in steampunk literature. It’s that simple. Note the phrase “could be” in that sentence.

Rule Two: When in doubt, dress Victorian and then add. Here’s a nice simple baseline. Again, that’s baseline, not Scripture.

Rule Three: Steampunk fashion is about creating an [entertaining] outfit […]. Never feel obliged to take away from the style or appeal of an outfit simply because you fear it will be “not steampunk enough.” There is no “steampunk fashion bible”, and attempts to create one should be ignored.

Rule Four: There is no “steampunk color.” Some people have claimed that steampunk is only brown, or only black, or only white, or only light, or only dark. They are wrong. In reality, Victoria herself may have stuck to black, but the rest of the world didn’t. And we’re not exactly recreating reality here anyway.

Rule Five: You are allowed to like other genres. If you like a style of fashion that does not fit into steampunk be proud of it. This is not One Fandom to Rule Them All, any more than pulp SF, Trek, anime, B5, fursuiting, Galactica, or Firefly were. It is a way for like-minded individuals to have fun.

Rule Six: Have fun and be yourself. That’s what this is about. Don’t feel compelled to conform with everyone else. Fandom needs individuals and noncomformists. You didn’t join the counterculture just to find a clique within it. Express your vision!

I often feel that there are too many rules, too many pecking orders, too many boundaries in fandom. Perhaps some of them evolved from guidelines intended to help the socially unskilled from being complete jerks. But I think much of it comes from people’s natural tendency to find a leader and be part of a movement, safe inside something bigger than they are. But fandom’s roots are in dreams, imagination, and fun; and when a leader intentionally or unintentionally suppresses that in service to his or her own vision, it’s a mistake.

The very first group I hooked up with, Starfleet, had ranks imitating its fictional namesake. The idea was that these ranks would reflect a recognition of service to the club and a responsibility for the club’s operation. But some of the fans decided that the rank gave them paramilitary power, and that they could make decisions for the other club members. This caused enough trouble that, eventually, Chapter Chairpersons were specifically advised to downplay the “rank” structure in chapter activities.

Conversely, my own first chapter, and the ones that followed it, encouraged personal uniforms of the fan’s own design; ran role-playing sessions in which anything that could be shoehorned into the Trek universe was allowed; and treated ‘ranks’ as a subject for silly wordplay. (Woe to my first chapter chairperson when she attained the rank of Rear Admiral.) We did massive damage to Paramount canon in those days, but boy, did we enjoy ourselves.

I suspect that the modern preoccupation with the ‘right way’ to be a fan is partly the Internet’s fault; by making it so easy for a fan to find people who agree with their point of view, the ‘Net made it less necessary to learn tolerance and even appreciation of the fen who didn’t quite. But it also offers more exposure to new and different ideas, and opportunities to have more fun and meet more people, not to mention more places to buy cool costume and accessory stuff, so there’s no point in technology-bashing.

Recently, I’ve had the privilege of visiting some cons willing to relax the boundaries, ditch the unnecessary rules, and throw wrenches into the artificial fan heirarchies. I love this, and I think it’s beneficial to nearly every fan. So at the next con you attend, help bring some craziness back; wear a hall costume, cheap or fancy, and wear it your way! Wear a leather miniskirt with your Galactica uniform; furry ears and tail of a species unknown to real or speculative zoology; an anime costume where the fabric choice and sleeve length are darn well inaccurate, thank you; or, horrors, a steampunk costume in red and silver! Sure, some small-minded person may write something insulting in their blog when they get home.

So what? You’re having fun.

Brief updates

  • 07:51 Down from 38-inch waist to 36. The walking and Coca-Cola deprivation is accomplishing something! #
  • 10:46 It’s amazing how motivated I can become from just a bit of kudos and recognition. #

Sent subspace radio by LoudTwitter

Let’s Not Do the Time Warp Again

MTV is planning to remake the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

What a complete and utter waste of time and money. Something as bizarre as RHPS happens once. You can’t make it better; after all we don’t keep going to see it because it’s good. We go to see it specifically because it scrambles one’s brain, rinses it, and hangs it up to dry; all the while supported by Richard O’Brien’s catchy songs, Tim Curry’s matchless hamming, and a theater full of fellow weirdos who, for 100 minutes, are in the same headspace with us.

I wish them good fortune – they’ll need quite a lot of it.

One Small Step

Thirty-nine years ago today…

“Houston… Tranquility Base here… the Eagle has landed.”

From that day on, mankind could only be limited to one fragile world if they chose to be. For the most part, we have chosen that, but I don’t think that state of affairs is permanent. I don’t believe we can afford to let it be so.

A-one, and a-two…

So who was I listening to in the car on the way to work today?

The Dresden Dolls and OreSkaBand. I would have liked to see OreSkaBand when they were here this week, but I couldn’t exaclty take Tuesday off 🙁

I blame my musical taste on my mother, who tricked me into liking classical and folk in addition to the rock I got off the radio; and Tom Monaghan, who ate little more than ramen through his college years in order to acquire a huge and supremely eclectic CD collection.

When someone asks me what they’re likely to find on my iPod, I answer “almost anything from a Bach symphony to Japanese bubblegum punk.”

Walked a mile-and-a-half today. I really need to do this earlier in the morning before the mercury tops 80.

Grown-ups of Time

I recently finished Series 4 of the revived Doctor Who. In many ways, the finale wrapped up and tied together the last four years of programming, as Russell Davies is moving on to other projects. The finale was a slam-bang affair, one comparable to ST:TNG’s “The Best of Both Worlds” in breathtaking moments and an edge-of-the-seat cliffhanger. However, the finale underscored certain themes of Davies that I hope to see put to rest.

Originally, the Doctor was a political fugitive from his people, but he eventually evolved into a crusader of Time and Space, saving individuals and entire planets from oncoming disaster. His fourth incarnation sacrificed himself to save the existence of the universe from one man’s foolishness. The Doctor was clearly fulfilled by his never-ending quest.

When the Doctor returned to television, he was in some ways a broken man. He had been at least partially responsible for the destruction of his race in an attempt to prevent an apocalypse (a futile attempt, as it turned out). Other characters made much about the Doctor as the bringer of Death. Of course, he repeatedly staves off even greater death and destruction, but apparently one gets minimal points for that.

Rose Tyler’s love healed the Doctor, and in fact he began to return the emotion openly for the first time in the 40-year history of the show. But he then regenerated into a new body and personality, and Rose was forced to leave him, and he sank into depression and despair. The crusader of Time and Space was replaced by a sad, lonely immortal who kept on keeping on mainly because he didn’t have anything better to do.

When the villain of the finale mocks the Doctor for creating a band of “Children of Time”, willing tools who will aid our immortal in the destruction of lives and worlds, it’s completely unfair, and yet the Doctor shows hurt and shame. What he’s really done, of course, is give a succession of companions a broader perspective, the skills and the confidence to defend themselves and their loved ones, and the ability to make the awful decisions at times when the Doctor isn’t around. They are “Grown-ups of Time” now, but the Doctor is too busy wallowing in failure to deal with that.

The new helmsman, Steven Moffat, has written episodes that temporarily bring back the crusader. While Moffat’s Doctor in these tales retains a vulnerability that the older series did not give him, he remembers his role as the defender of Life, and revels in the challenge. I absolutely hope that future seasons return to that philosophy, as the worn-out, depressed Doctor is a shadow of the beings he once were, and I become sadder with every episode in which he flails about desperately.

Why have I gone on at length about this? Because the older Doctors, the Fourth especially, represent in many ways the person I’ve always wanted to be. Assertive, cheerful, full of wonder, and up to the challenges of life. Frankly, the Doctor these days has a far emptier life than I do, and it’s hard to see the fictional hero I’ve felt so connected to suffer so. I guess this is something of a “Get Well” card to my old hero.

Further points, with spoilers, below

Thinned blood

My Mom’s back in the hospital. The blood thinner she had been prescribed caused some internal bleeding; it seems to have stopped, and she’ll probably be out again by the weekend. But… oy.

We found a Jamaican cafe / grocery less than two blocks from us last night, and I tried curry chicken for the first time ever. Extremely yummy, though I’m not used to eating anything that shade of yellow; nor am I used to picking that many tiny sharp chicken bones from my teeth. Oh, and an hour later, my stomach was not pleased with these new spices at all. Still, yum.

The apartment building I live in is very nice, but it’s still an apartment building. One of the tenants on my floor has had multiple summonses taped to their door in recent months; this last weekend, they moved out in a flurry of activity (mysteriously bringing a mattress into the place in the process). Well, police showed up a couple of days later to pound on their door, and there’s an eviction notice taped there now (which doesn’t exactly change much at this point). I’m actually sad. They seemed nice enough, and it’s a shame when people’s mistakes land on them so hard.

At this moment, I am rather physically and emotionally weary. I’ll be fine, it’s hardly life-threatening. But the assertiveness I have been trying to encourage in myself in recent months is eluding me a bit just now. Of course, now is when I really need it.

Oh, and the smoke’s back in Portsmouth this morning. Koff.

Seven Words Ain’t Enough

Lots of people have posted about George Carlin’s passing. I’ll miss the man; he and Steve Martin were the first two comedians whose albums my parents took away from me 🙂

Much has been made of his dark, often nihilistic humor lately, but many seem to miss that it was the humor of a disappointed idealist who knows that people are better than this, dammit, and hopes like hell that they’ll remember it in time.

Protected: Discovery is Go

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

130 Leagues Over the Asphalt

T – I – R – E – D.

Went back to Roanoke on Saturday. My mom’s doing great: she can move both her leg and arm now, and on Sunday took a few steps (with a great deal of support). I’m told this is still Gold Medal performance, and my optimism was repeatedly fed this weekend. nanoreid was there for a bit, and I got to say hi to Ginny and Ian as well. Starr bought my mother a knitting loom which can be fastened to a solid surface, and now my mom can indulge her addiction one-handed for the duration!

Roanoke felt a little odd, there are buildings and shops which weren’t there last time I passed through – a bit like hearing an old song on the radio and finding an entirely new chorus after the second stanza. I took a hotel room there Saturday night to save us the drive to and from shrewlet‘s offered crash space in Blacksburg, but while the room was huge, the bed was hard as a plank, and we slept poorly for folks who would be driving 204 miles home. Route 460 was a beautiful, tranquil drive, though. I’m sold on that road for now.

Yesterday we woke too early, and headed over to spend lunch with Starr’s mom, then the afternoon at Amy’s with the gamer group. Her mom was going to gas grill the food, but after the gas loop rusted away at a touch, we went with good old charcoal, and lunch was yummy. I now know where Starr gets her habit of cooking a regiment’s food for a few people, and felt guilty leaving before I could consume a second hamburger.

While the afternoon was sold as a combination grilling / gaming event, I’m not sure anyone was really into the gaming, and after a few hours of excellent chatting and cattching up, we left to get me some badly needed quiet time. I developed yesterday something that feels much like my old migraine headaches, something which comes in short, searing pulses then goes away for a half-hour or so. (One of the first things Starr did when hearing about that was to check me for stroke indicators – of which I seem to have none.)

In geek news, the Mars Phoenix robot probe has a Twitter account. Andy Ihnatko referred to the account as cosplay for rocket scientists, but I’m enjoying keeping up with what the probe’s doing (or at least what it was doing 15 minutes ago – speed-of-light lag, y’know). Some quick Googling finds images taken by the Mars Recon Orbiter of Phoenix on the way down (Phoenix Down?) which means that we Earthlings not only managed to hit a target scores of millions of miles away, we got a picture of it from another camera that had previously done so under our instruction. [T]hese are the things that hydrogen atoms do when given 13.7 billion years. – Carl Sagan

So, yeah. Probably another early bedtime tonight, which is a shame because I wanted to get some WoW levelling in. With luck, the rest of the week will go a little easier on me!

« Previous PageNext Page »