The first panel we went to was "Where Has Innovation Gone?" which dealt with the dichotomy between business' expressed desire for personnel capable of exhibiting creativity and imagination, and the inability to deal with it when they actually have it. This was a lively discussion, with audience members representing a number of disciplines taking part. Issues presented included the fact that "creation" tends to be an inherently wasteful process, and so is anathema to bean-counting managers; and that creative and capable people frequently don't have the paper credentials required to navigate the increasingly hide-bound and exclusionary hiring processes. Hope was found in the confluence of the Internet, the DIY/Maker movement, and crowdfunding operations such as Kickstarter, which allow creative individuals and small groups to develop projects in a way they might be noticed.
The next presentation we went to was "The Literary Steampunk: Where, Why, What Was, and What Now?" This panel was made up of guests of honor Karina Cooper (author), Austin Sirkin (fan), Kevin Steil (archivist), plus writer Joe Alfano. After the panelists' rather lengthy self-introductions, the group gave a good general overview of the genre in novels and stories. I made note of some newer authors to look up.
Next up was "Steampunk as Super-Culture: A Symbiosis Between Various Fandoms and Subcultures", which interested us in part because we had met the moderator, Veronique Chevalier, at the Masquerade Thursday night. Through no fault of hers, about half the panel ended up being much the same as the previous panel, since Ms. Cooper and Messers. Sirkin and Steil were all on the panel and had much the same things to say. (Including the canned introductions, which we also heard in a somewhat abbreviated form at the Opening Ceremony. While I suppose it's reasonable to suppose that not everyone in the room has already heard it, one could change up one's game a bit--.)
After that, we attended "Cause of Death" a historical survey of Victorian-era statistics on deaths due to accident and illness. Given by Julianne Hunter, who has a degree in public health, and Phil Jurasinski, Registered Nurse. Although the subject matter was rather grisly at times, the presentation was handled with a light touch that made it both informative and entertaining.
From 4:00 to 5:30PM, we went to "Junkology 101," an inspiring panel on scrounging and repurposing the parts you might have to make new Steampunk gadgets. I picked up a number of good tips from "Professor Waldo" (Walter LeTendre, Jr.), Juliet Pagel, Christopher Pagel, and audience members.
Then, we went out to dinner with friends Tracy Benton and Bill Bodden, to a nearby Indian restaurant, Swagat. The food there was very good, and service courteous, but it seemed to take a long time to get our meals, and we missed the beginning of Opening Ceremonies as a result.
We missed whatever passed for the Entry of Flags, so I suppose it's just as well we weren't able to sign up for it. We came in just as SWARM's new "demonic" ally was making its departure. This creature, supposedly an "Eldritch Horror" summoned up by the anarchists, was an interesting construction, rather insectile in form, but apparently composed of something like living wood, as its integument was covered with "bark" and leaves grew from its head. (I never did catch the name of the creature.) We did get to see the second set of dancing by the Stoughton High School Norwegian Dancers, who were quite breathtaking. Besides lighting speed, there were some impressive feats of strength in the dances requiring lifts, and a lot of clever humor, as in a dance where the men mime fighting, and another that lampoons men's addiction to snuff and women's disgust with it.
After the Opening Ceremonies, we queued up for seating at the Fashion Show. (We spent quite a bit of time standing in line at this TeslaCon. On the one hand, we tend to be neurotically early for events when possible. On the other hand, it was my impression that none of the major events started on time, either. Whether this was a hotel staff issue or a convention planning issue, or both, I cannot say.)
Despite being well back in line, we got great seats for the Fashion Show, which was fascinating. Many kudos are due to the designers, models, dressers and backstage staff, who, once the event got started, pulled it off in a brisk and highly professional manner.
First up was Silversark, whose dresses were mainly "Lolita" styles (by which I mean short skirts with crinolines, and frequently short sleeves) done in a collection of interesting graphic printed fabrics.
Fashions by Aritifixer were heavy on the "pirate queen" look, with corsets, leather pants, and boots. These were accessorized with masks, and frequently with a copper chiffon "hoodie" under the corset.
KMK Designs showcased a number of corset-and-chemise outfits, but also including one striped polonaise, or bodice/overskirt combination that was particularly nice.
RFD by Rachel Frank was a very "Goth" collection, with leather harnesses accessorizing corsets, short skirts, and exposed garters. All the models had "Baron Samedi"-inspired skull-face makeups.
Samantha Rei alternated between Empire waisted gowns and rompers.
At this point my crabbed handwriting runs out of legibility. I have the next designer down as "Uncanny H??????? C?????". Searching the Internet suggests this might be something like "Uncle Uncanny's by Chuk"? Apologies to the responsible people, and if anyone reading this knows the proper name, I will be glad to edit it in--. Anyway, this collection included 18th Century inspired styles, including an interesting saque-backed gown, plus some corsetry for males. (Amendment: A comment by Siversark Clothier tells me that this designer was "Uncanney House of Canney, by Anthony Canney." Thanks!)
Ending the show was Redfield, which had a line of fashions that were part Heidi, part Lolita, and interspersed with uniform-derived styles.
After the Fashion Show, we hung around and chatted while the room was reset for "Forbidden Images III: The Presented," which was a presentation on the often hidden aspects of Victorian and Edwardian-era sex life, (rated X--), this time focusing on some very notorious brothels in Paris and Chicago, illustrated with a variety of period erotic images. Karen Dezoma, William Dezoma and Robert Schug made this very entertaining and just naughty enough. We enjoyed it, although the night caught up with us and we leaked out before it ended.
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