Free Books Online

Last weekend, I went on a glorious adventure to Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon. As a true bibliophile, this was something of a pilgrimage for me and I spent a few wonderful hours exploring the towering rows of bookcases stuffed full of books just waiting to be read.

Shopping at Powell’s, however, is not an inexpensive venture, and while I’d prefer the weight and scent of a physical book, budgetary and portability issues make the standard presentation of reading material less desirous.

There’s an excellent resource for those looking for a great science fiction read for free, complied by io9 entitled The Best Places To Find Your Next Free Book Online. There’s a great collection of books that have entered into the public domain have been carefully preserved on the internet for your costless reading pleasure and enlightenment.

Radio Riel: Steampunk Radio

My attention was recently called to a new internet radio station which specializes in Steampunk Music at Radio Riel. At first, I was very excited about the idea, not only because my Abney Park station on Pandora hardly plays enough actual Steampunk music, but also because my current office-mate enjoys blasting obscure showtunes as “working background music.”

So I enthusiastically set to listening to this new discovery while my office-mate was away and I thus had run of the office space and musical selections. And boy, was I disappointed.

Here I was, expecting to hear the latest from all of my favorite Steampunk bands, and discover a few new ones in the process, but about four hours into my listening experience, I noticed something… the songs had begun to repeat themselves. And here’s the thing, it wasn’t like Abney Park, Vernian Process, The Cog Is Dead, or the Clockwork Dolls were being constantly played and they had just begun the cycle of immensely popular Steampunk bands again. No, this music was stuff I had never heard before, stuff that sounded more Gothic than Steampunk, that was on repeat on a Steampunk radio station. In all my many hours of listening to this radio station, I only heard one Abney Park song, and it was not one of my favorites.

Needless to say, I’m rather disappointed with this radio station. I understand that it is new, but that’s not enough of an excuse to be looping music that isn’t particularly Steampunk and leave the greats out of the playlist entirely. Every single time I tune in now, it seems like they are playing something I have already heard, which thus prompts me to quickly tune out and turn to my own Steampunk music reserves.

Perhaps this broadcast will improve in the future, but for now, I’m sorry to report that this one isn’t worth your time.

Heartless: The Story of the Tin Man

This evening, I have for you a wonderful story about how the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz came to be: Heartless The Story of the Tin Man by Whitestone Motion Pictures. It’s a bit of a tearjerker, though, so have a well-stocked box of tissues nearby when you watch this wonderful short film. Make sure to turn up the sound… some of the dialogue was a bit quiet for me.

Part Steampunk, part fantasy, this film is fantastic and very well made. It restores my faith in short films after the disappointment that The Anachronism was. I really enjoyed the costuming for Heartless, and the whole concept of the Master Tinner is just brilliantly Steampunk.

I feel that this could have easily been a feature length film and still kept my attention. And oh dear, it was so sad… at least it ended on a good and hopeful note.

You can learn more about the film at Whitestone Motion Pictures on their website, where you can watch many production videos and also download the soundtrack for the film for free (yay!). You can also follow Whitestone Motion Pictures through their Twitter feed here.

Dr. Evermor and Forevertron

Yes, its true… summer is upon us. For the Steampunk, summer can be a terrible time if one lacks a flair for the creative with one’s wardrobe. And the bugs are pretty much awful for anyone, regardless of their subculture affiliation. But the summer is also the time for cookouts, outdoor adventuring, and vacations.

There’s nothing quite as American as a road trip. A co-worker of mine from a different country expressed his confusion towards out national obsession with hopping in our cars and driving to some far away location saying, “Why would you drive on your vacation? You are so tired once you get there.” Since I agreed with his sentiment, I wasn’t able to give a very good answer as to why Americans love to do this, which I’m afraid disappointed him.

Nevertheless, if you are looking to take the car (or perhaps the airship) for a spin, I would like to recommend a location for your traveling destination, Forevertron in North Freedom, Wisconsin, where you will witness such wonders as:

That is part of the world’s largest scrap metal sculpture in the world standing 50 ft. (15,2 m.) high and 120 ft. (36,5 m.) wide. It is a huge collection of scrap metal being turned into Steampunk art! Fantastic!

If you are interested in visiting Forevertron, here’s the vital information needed for a trip:

Forevertron

Address: US 12, North Freedom, WI
Directions: On U.S. 12, about five miles south of Baraboo, behind Delaney’s Surplus, across the highway from the Badger Army Ammunition Plant.
Admission: Free.
Hours: M, Th, Fri, Sa 9 am – 5 pm, Su Noon – 5 pm. (Call to verify)
Phone: 608-219-7830

Dr. Evermor and his son are working on new projects for Forevertron, so if you’ve been before, now is a great time to revisit the park. There’s likely something you haven’t seen before waiting to be marveled at!

If you want to see more pictures of Fovereverton, please click here. And for a video walk through of the park, please click here for a series of YouTube videos for your amusement.

Steampunk Fashion Ball at Panoptikon

In an effort to highlight the occasional Steampunk event in my current location of Dallas, TX, I’d like to bring your attention today to a “Steampunk Fashion Ball” at Panoptikon in Deep Ellum on Friday, May 7th at 9PM. The House of Mob will be presenting their latest line of Steampunk fashion for the viewing delight of all Dallas Steampunks. Best of all, the event is free; there is no cover or entrance fees to witness this exciting event.

House of Mob has a five page spread in Twisted South Magazine that came out on May 1st at Barnes and Noble, Borders, Book World and Waldenbooks across the USA, Puerto Rico and the UK with some stores carrying the magazine in France and Spain. It is a limited edition magazine, so if you like what you have seen on House of Mob’s website, consider picking up a copy, and be quick about it!

This is a excellent opportunity to meet some local Steampunks in a town where Steampunk seems scattered and a bit disorganized. I’d like to be able to say that I will with all certainty be at this event, but with the way my work is, I can make no certain guarantees to my presence. If you decide to go, let me know how it was!

Where you will be able to see me, with all certainty, is at A-Kon in June, specifically, at the Abney Park concert. I have no idea as to why Abney Park is playing at A-Kon. The connection between Steampunk and anime is feeble at best, but the fact remains that Abney Park will be in Dallas, and I therefore, must be there, and I hope you will be as well. Early registration for A-Kon is closed, but you can still buy tickets at the door when the Kon starts.

DIY Education

Now, there certainly is something to be said to the merits of a formal education. As a fortunate holder of two undergraduate degrees (and a minor, all in four years, thank you very much), I can attest to the value of having a formal education in the job opportunities afforded to me and the theoretical better salary (still waiting on that one). Overall, if you can get a formal higher education, it is a good idea.

I was, however, reading the most recent edition of Education Life in the New York Times, and I happened upon an article all about free online learning, and I immediately thought of you all here.

The article, An Open Mind, talks about the new movement of placing educational resources and lectures online for free consumption. What an exciting idea. If you want to know more about that movement and how it came about, go ahead and read the article.

But what I discovered specifically for your delight was a small additional information box nestled in the printed article called, How to Learn Something for Nothing.

This article reveals the best of today’s online resources for learning something new. I’m particularly excited about this because I sincerely miss going to lectures and listening to the professors as they challenge my preconceptions of the world. Plus, through this, I’m able to round out some of my education that was not so thoroughly explored for fear of damaging my GPA. I wonder if they have a course on basic Burmese I could watch…

Of these, Academic Earth is my favorite. I tend to respond well to video material when I am learning, so its nice to just kick back and listen to a professor chat while I’m at home in my PJs with a cup of hot tea.

Pull up a lecture and learn something today!

A.G. Paper Toys

Sometimes, one needs to break out the scissors and glue and create something purely for amusement’s sake. It’s just something for yourself to get your mind off of the stresses of the work week or something to do with friends while chatting over tea.

Today, I’m bringing you one of those divertissements, a collection of papercraft toys by Alexander Gwynne, with a focus on his more recent release, the Steam Rider:

This paper contraption reminds me of the tin toy soldiers of yester-year and has all the look of a vintage toy. It’s totally free to print out and make your own papercraft Steam Rider.

If you liked the art of papercraft, there’s all sorts of different patterns for your enjoyment on Alexander Gwynne’s page, including a pair of Steampunk robots that remind me of R2D2 and C3PO. There’s other patterns too for your friends who don’t quite understand but tolerate your Steampunk obsessions, and best of all, they are all free!