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Author Topic: steampunk as subculture  (Read 75281 times)
Cory
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« Reply #25 on: February 25, 2007, 05:15:29 pm »

In sleeping on it, I'll throw this one out there:
  • I run and do most of the writing for one of the major Steampunk websites around.
  • Steampunk movies in my collection are only outnumbered by black-and-white horror movies, and I have almost enough DVDs to fuel an alternative video rental store.
  • While most of my clothing is typical Gothy black stuff, I dress up like a Victorian mad-aristocrat at Goth-Industrial events (see my avatar photo) and made myself t-shirts that say "Steampunk" and "my other carriage is horseless" with a picture of a Model-T.
  • My room (amidst my roommates) is fairly typical Neo-Victorian... My ironwork canopy bed has a red paisly bedspread with a Hudson's Bay Company point blanket and a Classic Pooh doll at the foot. Both my bookcase and my curio cabinet are Neo-Victorian rosewood and filled with assorted fossils, toys, The Lost World (1925 version) memorabelia, and other Steampunk/Victorian brik-a-brak. I also have a pretty fetching collection of antique books and reproduction postcards of Victorian photos (mostloy Western Canadian history-related). I have a giant antique-looking globe which mostly shelves fossils. I have several posters of Pre-Raphaelite paintings and a framed attraction poster for the Mark Twain Riverboat at Disneyland. My CD-player/stereo/turntable looks like an old-time radio. And the list goes on...
  • I make sepia-toned silent movies with my camcorder that are almost always about historical subjects and usually involve steam trains somehow.
  • Most of my vacation and day-off activities are planned around going to historic sites, museums or antiquing. I'm planning a trip to the Grand Canyon motivated primarily by the steam train that runs down there, and a trip to Tokyo motivated in no small part by the 20,000 Leagues rides at DisneySea (and mostly, to be fair, by a pre-Steampunk love affair with Japanese culture).
  • I actually have a BA in Museum and Heritage Studies.
  • If my current path of becoming an ordained Lutheran minister doesn't pan out, then my next dream is to own and opperate a silent movie theatre.
And the list goes on and on. But the question is: does this qualify as a Steampunk lifestyle? Why or why not?
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« Reply #26 on: February 25, 2007, 05:39:45 pm »

jon stumbles in, wide eyed and startled... i just sort of like copper, brass , bronze and not just doing things as they need to be but with art too.... Jon wanders off to the shed to bash a bit of copper pipe into a bowl....
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« Reply #27 on: February 25, 2007, 05:51:25 pm »

(It's ok, sidecar_jon - don't worry.  Just another part of the mutifaceted world of people interested in brass and copper.  Some like to debate.  Wink )

Well, what I did was go and see how they defined 'lifestyle'.  While Wikipedia isn't the be all and end all of information, it helped me get an idea of where to start:

Quote
In sociology, a lifestyle is the way a person (or a group) lives. This includes patterns of social relations, consumption, entertainment, and dress. A lifestyle typically also reflects an individual's attitudes, values or worldview.

Having a specific "lifestyle" can be described as patterns of behavior based on alternatives given and how easy it is to make this choice over others given.


So, at least by that definition (and I am dubious of the quality of that Wikipedia entry, but hey ho) you automatically have 'a' lifestyle - defined by your choices.

Your consumption, entertainment and dress could all be considered heavily Steampunk influenced, or otherwise Victorio-Fictional (let's not get embroiled in the finer details of a Steampunk definition).  The social relations side has you associating with other people who are interested in Steampunk topics, but to what extent is known only by you (and the importance of that aspect of 'lifestyle', I'm not too convinced about).

The attitudes, values and worldviews are harder to classify as Steampunk influenced or not.  I mean, there's been umpteen studies into people being influenced by the media they consume, but usually just to say whether or not someone becomes more or less violent - not whether they aquire the attitudes, values or worldviews of that media.  Couple that with the fact that the attitudes, values and worldviews associated with Steampunk haven't yet been set out or agreed apon (either officially or subconsiously) and I'm not sure you can say that anyone definitely has the attitudes, values or worldviews of Steampunk.

Long story short - I'd say you're half way there, and probably as far as anyone could be at the moment.  If Steampunk continues to grow and be defined by the people interested in it, then we might look back 10 years from now and say that you were living the Steampunk lifestyle, but didn't know it.

I think the important thing is that you've made decisions that have been influenced by your wish to maximise your interaction with Steampunk things (as currently defined).

Random question at the end of all that waffle then - can someone define a wellknown 'lifestyle' so we could compare the tickboxes?

*Is now ready to be shot down in flames.*
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« Reply #28 on: February 25, 2007, 06:26:39 pm »

But the question is: does this qualify as a Steampunk lifestyle? Why or why not?
No it doesn't to me. It's neither steam nor punk, and steampunk isn't about who is able to buy the most vintage stuff. A way of life is not "having the money to buy a way in".
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« Reply #29 on: February 25, 2007, 07:05:50 pm »

But the question is: does this qualify as a Steampunk lifestyle? Why or why not?
No it doesn't to me. It's neither steam nor punk, and steampunk isn't about who is able to buy the most vintage stuff. A way of life is not "having the money to buy a way in".

Then what really does qualify as a "steampunk lifestyle"?  What is a "steampunk lifestyle" in the first place?

The reason I ask this is that steam and tinkering are essentially how I grew up, and it heavily affects the way I still live.  I do boiler maintenance for a living, it's the family business.  I grew up with my father rebuilding steam trains, casting huge gears to run antique merry-go-rounds, and the like.  It got to where he wouldn't go to train museums anymore because whenever he went (if they found out who he was), they'd pester him to distraction about finding (or building) parts for them and things of that nature.  I remember going on trips to find vacuum tubes to rebuild our old shortwave and AM radio that was bigger than I was when I was a kid.  He still runs the family business, although there are far, far fewer steam trains and things of that nature around now than there were even when I was a kid (and I'm only 30). 

I prefer cherry wood, brass and copper fittings, and the like, but there is just as much injection-molded plastic in my house as any other modern home (to think of it, brass and copper were very much the "plastics" of that era, but that's another post entirely).  So, what is the "steampunk lifestyle"?  Is it just neo-victorian tinkers and machinery fetishists?  Or is it more?  Does it blend with modern technology or reject it?  Or is it all of these things, that being the reason it's so difficult to define?


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« Reply #30 on: February 25, 2007, 07:07:01 pm »

...can someone define a wellknown 'lifestyle' so we could compare the tickboxes?

a "checklist" from wiki:

A common way of understanding culture sees it as consisting of four elements that are "passed on from generation to generation by learning alone":

   1. values;
   2. norms;
   3. institutions;
   4. artifacts.

From what I can see (in my humanly limited vision), #1 and #2 are still very nascent, and #3 exists only on the internet (in any large fashion).  #4 being the most well developed portion.  We have the "stuff" part nailed.  We haven't quite coalesced a standard set of values or norms (though I do believe there are some).

No it doesn't to me. It's neither steam nor punk, and steampunk isn't about who is able to buy the most vintage stuff. A way of life is not "having the money to buy a way in".

High-idealed as that view is, history is full of people buying their way into a cultural set... right or wrong as it may be.
« Last Edit: February 25, 2007, 07:12:44 pm by fmra » Logged

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« Reply #31 on: February 25, 2007, 07:28:56 pm »

In terms of lifestyle I just want to bring up dressing the part. I for one would feel pretty darn silly walking around with a top hat with goggles, walking stick, vest and pocketwatch....to go to the local McDonalds or to the Mall, or the movies. It seems delusional, to a point....like someone, who wants to be Goth, buying a long coat from Hot topic and thinking to themselves "Im soooo Goth"....I speak from experience Sad

The top hat (or Bowler) and fancy clothes and goggles (as much as I love them) are clubwear and fancy nightwear (to me at least), casual everyday wear can be other things. Like thick coardy sweaters, and long overcoats, scarves and wool gloves (preferably fingerless Wink)for cold weather. Shoes could be black and natural leather boots (I like clunky steel toed boots, myself), and belts, with silver or brass spikes and studs or really whatever, thats for the individual to decide. But basically casual Victoriana dress wear....or rather the modern day IDEA of casual Victoriana dress wear filtered through modern or post modern ideals....(hense the "punk")

Eyewear is easy, either small Victorian-esque spectacles, or just look to Thomas Dolby for inspiration, he wears some awesome glasses (I love the side shades)

Personally I like natural materials, Im not a big fan of spandex, mylar, or space age polymers..you know? (I like to layer). Keep it wool, cotton, denim, and anything pre WW1 that is still around today, which it all is....

But I dont want to turn this into a how-to-do list of how to dress Victorian-y in the modern world...all Im saying is that you can dress the part, look quite fetching, and yet not stand out and look like a goof.

"Im soooo Steampunk" Cheesy

Id love to hear everyones opinion on this! Am I chasing the Dragon?
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« Reply #32 on: February 25, 2007, 07:41:16 pm »

You'd have to ask Honky-Tonk about that one, but I digress.

I can agree with the whole "tophat and goggles" being the extreme end of 'dressed up' for any kind of situation - personally, I've struggled with the whole "what to wear" thing for a while, but I do find that I've taken to wearing a lot more anklelength skirts (surprisingly warm in the winter) and I'm practically never seen without my tall brown leather (but not highheeled - that would be impractical) boots - despite the fact they're held together with nothing more than hope and very strong araldite right now.  Good grief - that'll be a run on sentence then.  Deep breath.
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« Reply #33 on: February 25, 2007, 07:43:20 pm »

In terms of lifestyle I just want to bring up dressing the part. I for one would feel pretty darn silly walking around with a top hat with goggles, walking stick, vest and pocketwatch....to go to the local McDonalds or to the Mall, or the movies. It seems delusional, to a point....like someone, who wants to be Goth, buying a long coat from Hot topic and thinking to themselves "Im soooo Goth"....I speak from experience Sad

The top hat (or Bowler) and fancy clothes and goggles (as much as I love them) are clubwear and fancy nightwear (to me at least), casual everyday wear can be other things. Like thick coardy sweaters, and long overcoats, scarves and wool gloves (preferably fingerless Wink)for cold weather. Shoes could be black and natural leather boots (I like clunky steel toed boots, myself), and belts, with silver or brass spikes and studs or really whatever, thats for the individual to decide. But basically casual Victoriana dress wear....or rather the modern day IDEA of casual Victoriana dress wear filtered through modern or post modern ideals....(hense the "punk")

Eyewear is easy, either small Victorian-esque spectacles, or just look to Thomas Dolby for inspiration, he wears some awesome glasses (I love the side shades)

Personally I like natural materials, Im not a big fan of spandex, mylar, or space age polymers..you know? (I like to layer). Keep it wool, cotton, denim, and anything pre WW1 that is still around today, which it all is....

But I dont want to turn this into a how-to-do list of how to dress Victorian-y in the modern world...all Im saying is that you can dress the part, look quite fetching, and yet not stand out and look like a goof.

"Im soooo Steampunk" Cheesy

Id love to hear everyones opinion on this! Am I chasing the Dragon?

I think it can be pulled off with subtlety and panache.
A waistcoat and pocketwatch merely looks stylishly eccentric, as does a nicely curled and waxed mustache.
Of course everyone has their own idea of what the line between eccentric and goofy is...
I had short turquoise dreadlocks at the age of 32, so perhaps my line is a little further out than yours...

And no, I don't feel particularly chased. (or chaste) Roll Eyes
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« Reply #34 on: February 25, 2007, 08:18:28 pm »

Actually Honky-Tonk, I don't find facial hair too extreme at all. I love a great waxed mustache, or neatly trimmed goatee, or sculpted sideburns (like I have). Arliss Loveless in the unfortunate Wild Wild West movie optimizes the somewhat "new style" of Steampunk facial hair, and that goes along perfectly with my personal belief in everyday wear.

And the dreads certainly wouldn't be out of my range of comfort....but I do know what I would and wouldn't look good in...and dreads are in the "wouldn't" column. Those and mohawks look really stupid on someone with a bald spot) Cheesy

I think what I'm trying to say is that there are ways to dress Steampunk without screaming to world "IM STEAMPUNK! LOOK AT ME!" If its who you are, you don't need to good the extra mile to try and prove it.

But you're right, a vest and pocketwatch looks really cool, but full out dress wear, top hat, goggles, walking stick, all the time....feels somewhat forced. At least to me. I just feel like its someone trying to be something, instead of just being something...

Even Victorians didn't dress like that all the time....right? I hope I'm right :/
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« Reply #35 on: February 25, 2007, 08:31:15 pm »

Mr Adams,
It sounds like we are in complete agreement, then.
Oh, and by the way... the dreads didn't look so hot on me, either...
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Cory
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« Reply #36 on: February 25, 2007, 10:56:23 pm »

But the question is: does this qualify as a Steampunk lifestyle? Why or why not?
No it doesn't to me. It's neither steam nor punk, and steampunk isn't about who is able to buy the most vintage stuff. A way of life is not "having the money to buy a way in".

Okay then... what constitutes the authentic "Steampunk way of life" if one did not have the money or means to access books, movies, costuming or tinkering tools to "buy their way in"?
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« Reply #37 on: February 25, 2007, 11:31:00 pm »

Hey Cory, When you get a chance could you list the Steampunk films in your collection? I'm trying to widen mine...unless its an ungodly amount then nevermind Wink

Currently the films I have are:
The Adventures of Mark Twain
20k under the sea
Island at the Top of the World
Wild Wild West
First Men in the Moon
City of Lost Children
I have half of Master of the World transfered from the VHS
Jasper Morello
The Great Race
Steamboy
and Around the World in 80 days


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Cory
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« Reply #38 on: February 26, 2007, 12:00:57 am »

I'm feeling lurky, heh... Let me run it down by category...

From Disney I have 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Swiss Family Robinson, Around the World in 80 Days, Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Treasure Planet, Tarzan, and Island at the Top of the World. I also have the Walt Disney Treasures: Tomorrowland DVD, which has some cool stuff on it.

In anime I have the complete Escaflowne and Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water serieses, the Escaflowne movie, the Read-or-Die OVA, Spirit of Wonder DVD and VHS, Robot Carnival, the first Sakura Wars OVA.

For Imperialist Adventure films, I have Tarzan of the Apes (1919) and all 12 Tarzan films starring Johnny Weismuller, King Solomon's Mines (1937) and my favorite film of all time, The Lost World (1925). Keeping in the Pulp spirit I also have King Kong (1933) and Son of Kong, all the Max and Dave Fleischer Superman cartoons, and Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.

And in general I have Wild Wild West, The Adventures of Mark Twain, Jason and the Argonauts (for Talos), The Great Race, Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines, just about all the Universal Studios Monsters films including the period-set Bride of Frankenstein and Murders in the Rue Morgue, Frankenstein (1910), 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1916) and The Mysterious Island (1929), Jules Verne's Master of the World, Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow, a whole mess of Georges Melies films, and the recent live-action version of Peter Pan.

I also have had Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Atlantis: Milo's Return (which I traded in), and In Search of the Castaways and Harryhausen's First Men in the Moon (which I've been trying to switch out from VHS to DVD). Once Lent is over, I'm looking forward to buying the double bill War Gods of the Deep and At The Earth's Core DVD, and I have a sneaking suspicion my girlfriend is getting me The Fabulous World of Jules Verne. I also now have unlimited acces to my girlfriend's cop[y of The Prestige too ^_^

I probably have more than this even, but that's all that's jumping to mind right now. If I remember any more, I'll let you know.     

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« Reply #39 on: February 26, 2007, 12:48:55 am »

You have a most excellent collection, my friend...which reminds me, I forgot that I also have the War Gods of the Deep/At the Earths Core double bill dvd.

And Id like to get the Prestige DVD next payday Cheesy
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« Reply #40 on: February 26, 2007, 04:13:06 am »

Here! Here! mod up, insightful.

For me there is a do-it-yourself, maybe techno-libertarian (small "l") ethic as well. 

A steampunk p0wns his machines, he's not p0wnd by them as so many modern day muggles are.

What constitutes steampunk lifestyle? I must be honest, I didn't even know I was Steam punk until someone told me only maybe five months ago. For me it was always just my odd lifestyle.I come from four generations of Architects and boat designers, several performance classical musicians, and a couple of inventors. I was Home schooled by my parents, a pair of polymaths with attitude, who thought nothing of designing their own houses falling their own trees for lumber, building their own houses doing their own electricity,plumbing mineral tests, water filtration, building their own power generators, doing their own Hydroponics, you get the idea.

All this took place about 60 miles from civilization on a ranch located near the old bear river ghost town (which you probably have never heard of...don't feel bad).

it was an extremely strange environment combined with raw nature, constant ingenuity and the occasional redneck with a smattering of something that makes no sense at all like five old Buicks standing on their noses in the middle of the woods.

Now I live in Portland, for however brief a time until I return to school (I don't know when this will be).

I don't own any jeans or tshirts, I only own heavy wool slacks and old conductors jackets, I wear self modified safety glasses converted into sunglasses .
is that a steam punk lifestyle? I didn't know it when I was planning to install powered springs in my wingtips last year.


~Isaac
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« Reply #41 on: February 26, 2007, 12:47:05 pm »


Really, one of the things that makes steam-punk so great is how different it is to everyone, and the fact that it isn't anything in particular. You can't buy it at hot-topic. If you say you are steam-punk, you are. But what this thread is asking, is what a steam-punkian lifestyle is to you, if possible.

To me, it would be punks with etiquette. Scientific, romantic, artistic, and unique deviants that reject the molds of modern society. Victorian sensibility with modern truths (steampunks are NOT racist, imperialistic, homophobic, ect), and a bit of a fuck-the-establishment attitude. A little bit of geek thrown in, what with the obsession with clockwork and steam-tech (and lady lovelace, can't forget her). There is a general attitude of.. respect in the demeanor of my idea of a steampunkian . We don't necessarily try to be outcasts, but our refusal to let ourselves be brainwashed makes us just that often. Of course, steampunks would have different beliefs and moral codes, and scholarly debate should be encouraged, for there is a bit of truth in everything. In reality, our willingness to learn is one of the things that makes us so different. Knowledge is our form of rebellion. There is no uniform for a Steam-punk in my mind, the only thing i wear that could be considered steampunky is a wind-up pocketwatch with the gears visible (being a teenager people find this very peculiar, but maybe that is part of my attraction to it). Music-wise, it really doesn't matter, as long as it conjures up visions of airship explorations and rusty cogs. That is just my opinion however...

I agree with Kiskolou entirely, and would like to add my own reflections...

Steampunk, for me, is the best era of time that never was. It's a look, it's a story type, it's what sci fi was before shiny chrome and a galaxy far far away. I love the tinkering, and I love the intellect steampunk inspires. To me, steampunk is highly visual--it's a 'look' that things have or can be given. Goggles, gears, cogs and steam. There's a certain attitude in the creators themselves, in the people; that sort of respectful, eccentric, quietly dissident attitude that kiskolou was talking about.

Long live anachronism!
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« Reply #42 on: February 26, 2007, 04:09:53 pm »

for work and everyday lounging i wear what i always wear.jeans black ts and bike boots and jacket sometimes a long leather coat.but i now sport a fine waxed moustache and every now and then i wear my suits, a bowler ,waistcoat,and pocket watch.i dont feel like its contrived i just like to have a break from the mundane that is my life .i have always enjoyed older technology.i have trouble setting up new tellies and other gizmoes but i do enjoy beating metal to make armour and other bits and bobs(ok so it might not look that good but i do enjoy myself) i make boxes and other things from papier mache a much under used method of creativity. dont know if that makes me steampunk or not .i think these things can be to over analyzed.if we all like similar things do you really have to justify yourself to anyone else.i guess what i really mean is that there cant be any real right or wrong way to be a steampunk which is why i like it .i can be steampunk and still not the same as anyone else out there.
here endeth my lecture.
ps yes i am considered eccentric by my friends and family but thats how i like it Grin
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« Reply #43 on: February 26, 2007, 04:42:36 pm »

How do I work my steampunk style into my everyday clothing?

I work in an office 40 hrs a week where I have to be in business casual. Fortunately, this includes for me a wide variety of options. I am a woman but I find myself in menswear on a regular basis--today's outfit is a black pantsuit with a classic cut, a silk tie and a pocketwatch. I guess it's CORPORATE STEAMPUNK *l0lz, chuckles*. I wear a lot of pinstripes and leather boots. Dressdown Fridays for me sometimes include my most modest vintage goggles and jewelry made of lucite and dead tech. I try to repeat printed or integrated motifs in my wardrobe such as circuits and gears, because obviously a full hoopskirt and corset would be entirely inappropriate for the office. I do have a nice collection of fancy stockings and practical shoes. Long velvet vintage coats and my top hat are to some extent appropriate for me because of the cold weather and because I do work in an office--so long coat equals dressed up, not 'weirdo' as long as I keep my accessories modest.

When I do dress up steampunk, I usually don a tiny top hat and veil, a pinstriped corset, some sort of handmade skirt, goggles, etc. I am not afraid to wear these clothes out to a cheap, dank, local dive or to a fine restaurant. I often crossdress too--I own a very nice Edwardian tuxedo scavenged off of Ebay for mere pennies and altered by my tailor for length. I make my own ascots out of tattered fabric scraps. When things tear, I stitch them back together or pin them and hope for luck. I try to sew as much as I can, buy secondhand as often as I can, and if I can't make my own garments, I look for handmade online--supporting small businesses and artists is positive.

My day-to-day steampunk garments look more aristocratic than I'd like, but I must keep up appearances in order to hold my job.

I would like to have clothing that works somehow--that has its own internal machinery so that it is doubly useful but I haven't been able to entirely engineer that yet. Thoughts?
« Last Edit: February 26, 2007, 04:47:28 pm by exoskeletoncabaret » Logged
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« Reply #44 on: February 27, 2007, 12:10:52 am »

Yes you can put a box on your computer that makes it look like it's powered by coal, but it isn't (at least, not directly). It's just costuming appliances and calling it "Steampunk"...

::Looks up, startled::  Whaa--hey--that was directed at me!  I'm with Jon; leave me out of the whole counterculture, greater purpose/meaning mumbo jumbo.  I just want to talk fancy, collect goggles, look at things with smoke stacks, and tinker about with gleaming metal!
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« Reply #45 on: February 27, 2007, 02:32:51 am »

LoL, no worries, that was just an aimless example. No singling out of you was intended ^_Q
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« Reply #46 on: February 27, 2007, 07:07:15 am »

Yes you can put a box on your computer that makes it look like it's powered by coal, but it isn't (at least, not directly). It's just costuming appliances and calling it "Steampunk"...

::Looks up, startled::  Whaa--hey--that was directed at me!  I'm with Jon; leave me out of the whole counterculture, greater purpose/meaning mumbo jumbo.  I just want to talk fancy, collect goggles, look at things with smoke stacks, and tinker about with gleaming metal!

Hey everybody!! their going to have a DUEL!!!
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Cory
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« Reply #47 on: February 27, 2007, 04:12:15 pm »

LoL, no duels here!

Though I have been thinking about hanging up my goggles for a bit, since I'm apparently just a poser who thinks they can buy their way into Steampunk by watching movies and stuff ^_Q
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« Reply #48 on: February 27, 2007, 04:22:06 pm »

^_Q

Ah! I just got it, marvelous!  8-)>
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« Reply #49 on: February 27, 2007, 06:23:39 pm »

LoL, no duels here!


Awwwwwww Sad
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