Thursday, February 25, 2016

SHAW 2016: Keep Calm and Caper

I was gonna share a bit of my dissertation with you but changed my mind, because I realized I wanted to share something funnier. Steampunk has brought some incredible moments to my life, some hilarious stories, some good anecdotes, and trivial lessons. My favourite lesson is this: keep calm and caper.

What does that even mean? It means that when all else fails, do a little dance. In costume, out of costume, probably especially after you take off your costume because unless you dress Super Steampunk Casual you might be a little stiff. Do a little caper. It can have marvelous effects.

I end this Steampunk Hands Around The World here with a couple of my favourite stories: 

#1 Busking

In 2012, I embarked on a May Marathon Madness of conventions. For the stretch between Texas (where I attended AetherFest) and Massachusetts (Watch City Festival), I traveled with Magpie Killjoy and Pablo Vasquez III aka Mr. Saturday.

At some point, as we approached New York, we stopped off to the side for Magpie to take a break from driving after a long day. "I think I'm going to play my accordion," he said.

"Cool!" Pablo replied.

Then we stopped, got off, and Magpie actually did take out his accordion, which rather surprised Pablo who thought he was joking. As Magpie played, Pablo and I did a little jig around him, to stretch our legs, also to generally enjoy ourselves, because that's what you do when music is playing. I'm sure it was a grotesquely charming sight, and you need to embrace that sort of thing.

Then some white woman came up to us with a little bag, and told us, "I'm almost home now, so if you like, here's some stuff for the road!"

Well, you don't turn down stuff like that! Of course we took the loot. That is how we ended up with a few bags of nuts and trailmix, a water bottle, and a small bottle of vodka. Why the vodka? What was the woman doing with the vodka, and why did she give it to us? I have never been able to reason this out; white people are a mystery.

#2 The Crusty Shaman at the Turnpike

So this was a thing we learned from our friend Ceightie, who traveled with us along the stretch from Texas to South Carolina (or was it North?): there is a dance started among the crust punks, who don't know how to dance at metal concerts.

At metal concerts, you pound your upper body forward with your hands raised as if praising God with a slow dignity, because the music often calls for that. It's got a solid bass line that booms and dooms through the hall, and you should probably respect death as it walks among your ranks.

Crust punks, apparently, do not understand this. The crust punk dance at metal shows, as a result, is a form of swaying one's body back and forth while wiggling one's hands up and down at the sides of one's head. It looks like an irrational baby of flailing and having a seizure, except it is obviously very controlled and artful, unlike babies.

This dance is called "the Crusty Shaman."

At the New Jersey Turnpike, with Magpie and Pablo sitting up front, they had fallen silent since traffic jams are naturally stressful.

"Why is it so slow," Magpie grumbled.

"Quick, we need to do the Crusty Shaman!" Pablo yelled.

Reader, there is no way to really express the effect this had, except perhaps through a comparison to gargoyles. If they could move and caper.

And the turnpike cleared.

We were on our way.

I reiterate for you, keep calm, and in whatever capacity you can, caper. Caper in your mind, caper in your body, caper in your soul. 

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