Bartitsu: The Lost Martial Art of Sherlock Holmes

Steampunk has an interesting way of encouraging people to look back to the past and find old, forgotten things that still spark their modern interest and sensibilities. Back in the Victorian times, there was a martial art known as Bartitsu that employed the use of canes and parasols as part of a larger form of self-defense. Though it was largely forgotten since the Victorian era, the interest in Steampunk has also fueled an interest in this once dormant martial art form.

If you happen to be interested in this history of this unique and decidedly Victorian martial art form, you can get a basic history of Bartitsu by checking out this documentary: Bartitsu: The Lost Martial Art of Sherlock Holmes.

A little pricy, but it seems to be an interesting piece. All my readers with an interest in history will almost certainly enjoy this piece, and perhaps it’ll encourage a few of you to look more into Bartitsu. Hope you enjoy it!

Hysteria

Anyone who has looked at the Victorian era with anything resembling a critical eye can pretty easily agree that it was not a pretty time. Repression and oppression was tightly woven into the fabric of daily life for all peoples and genders, but women in particular endured a culture which vilified the female sex drive. Thankfully, we’ve made progress towards a more sex-positive culture (though there’s still a long way to go).

The Victorian era saw the first vestiges of the modern feminism movement. Women fought for the right to vote and to be recognized as equals to their male counterparts in the political arena. In the bedchamber, the then largely foreign notion that women could and should derive similar pleasure from sex that a man enjoyed was morally offensive to much of Victoriana’s conservatives.

Enter then, a small but significant device first know as a “Manipulator” which would later come to know as a vibrator. The recent film Hysteria is focused around the now defunct notion of female hysteria and the creation of the vibrator. Here’s the trailer:

Anyone with even a fleeting interest in gender or human sexuality will likely find this film to be both entertaining and enlightening. And Steampunks of all levels of sexual liberation yet again have reason to be thankful that we are Steampunks, rather than Neo-Victorians.

Horrible Histories: Victorian Slang

Horrible Histories is a British historical comedy series for kids that was started in 2009. A lot like Histeria! from the late 90’s, this series takes historical fact and turns it on its head to inform in amusing fashion. I featured one of their clips earlier this year entitled Victorian Inventions that you should definitely check out if you missed.

Steampunks of all persuasions will likely be interested in another of Horrible Histories’ TV clips, Victorian Slang. Check it out below:

Whether you’re in to writing, character acting or history in general, you’re likely to find this helpful for adding a bit of a historical anchor to your character. You’ll be delighted to learn that there’s many other installments of Horrible Histories, and I feel they’re a great resource and an accessible medium for learning tidbits of history, invaluable for the armchair historian. Heck, if you’ve got a sense of humor, you’re at least likely to be amused and in my opinion, that’s invaluable in and of itself.

The Best Uses of Steampunk on Television

I’ll be the first to admit that I know pretty much nothing about television and what’s good these days. It’s been years since I owned a TV and even longer than that I actually invested any time in watching a series with any resemblance of dedication. So I’m really not the person to tell you what is and isn’t worth your time on TV. Go figure.

But, other people on the internet are experts in these sorts of things, and they’re just thrilled to pieces about some of the ways Steampunk has been used on the tube. An article recently published to io9 entitled, The Best Uses of Steampunk on Television gives you precisely that. With shows like the original Wild, Wild West and The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne, there’s likely something here for every Steampunk with a television out there.

As for those of us who have never watched any of these shows, what would you say your top picks would be? I’ve got a long weekend ahead of me… tell me why I, and perhaps other Steampunks, should spend it watching your favorite series.

Thelomeris

There’s a new Steampunk inspired film that’s been in development since 2008 and currently in post-production entitled Thelomeris. Starring Mark Hamill (of Star Wars fame) it’s about a clockworks factory that churns out endless product made by slave labor, and it’s got a dark, steamy feel to it in parts. Here’s the trailer:

I’ve seen and read dystopian Steampunk before, but admittedly my enjoyment of this vein is few and far between (but, by no means impossible). Call me a heretic all you want, but I didn’t find The Difference Machine to be all that compelling. I love how Steampunk can be almost embarrassingly optimistic in its presentation. But! This film does look like it has promise. Scheduled for release sometime this year, I’m definitely hoping it gets released soon so I can take a peek at it. Who knows, another good example of Steampunk in film might just be waiting for us.

You can check out Thelomeris’ website here,, and follow them on Facebook here.

Nickle Children DVD on Sale

DVDs for the short Steampunk weird west film Nickle Children is now on sale.For those of you unfamiliar with the film, here’s a brief introduction to the story:

In an alternate 19th Century, dust bowl Kansas, a young boy witnesses his parent’s murder, and is forced to survive in an underground child fighting ring. Only the wealthiest are invited to attend these secret communities to bet on the children for their own amusement. However, one among them, is determined to find her abducted son … whatever the cost.

It’s a gritty tale that, for a very long time, you could only see at one of the various screenings that took place around the nation at various Steampunk events and festivals. Now, after a successful Kickstarter, DVDs have been cut of the film and are available for your purchase. Click here to buy your copy.

Prints are limited, however, so if you’re interested in getting your hands on a copy of the DVD, do be sure to act swiftly.

Cowboys and Aliens Primeres Tomorrow

Well, the time has finally come. A year ago we first learned about the film Cowboys and Aliens at the 2010 San Diego Comic Con. Tomorrow it’s going to premiere.

I’m fully braced for this film to completely suck, given Hollywood’s predisposition for making atrocious Steampunk movies. But glimmers of hope still do peak through… Harrison Ford very rarely makes a bad movie, and, perhaps they’ve learned their lesson after the considerable success of the recent Sherlock Holmes film with Robert Downey Jr. In case you’ve been living under a rock (or don’t have a TV like myself) here’s the trailer for Cowboys and Aliens.

For better or for worse, I’m planning to see this sometime over the weekend. If I can wrap my brain around the idea, I may post a review. I sincerely do hope that it’s going to be good, however. Last year’s summer Steampunk film, Jonah Hex, was just terrible.