Tag Archives: “beyond victoriana”

#75 Cinco de Mayo – Guest Blog by Evangeline Holland

Note: This has been cross-posted from Edwardian Promenade. A few days late for this blog, but still relevant (I also recommend reading this modern perspective on this North American holiday too).

I live in California, and coincidentally, this was where the first Cinco de Mayo celebrations were held in the 1860s. Just in case you have no clue what the holiday entails, “[t]he 5th of May (Cinco de Mayo) commemorates the great victory of the Mexican forces, led by Gen. Porfirio Diaz and Gen. Ignacio Zaragoza, over the French attacking Puebla, on May 5, 1862. It was essentially a military victory, and its celebration gives occasion for arousing the martial spirit and enthusiasm of the united people.”

Battle of Puebla

The turn of the century witnessed America’s adventurous palate, and restaurants serving ethnic cuisine and cookbooks showing how to cook these new dishes sprang up in abundance. In 1914, Bertha Haffner-Ginger published the California Mexican-Spanish Cookbook to clue in the average American woman how to prepare such “exotic” fare as frijoles and tamales. Because most affixed the more genteel term “Spanish” to anything made with chiles, beans, or tortillas, Haffner-Ginger takes pains to explain “it is not generally known that Spanish dishes as they are known in California are really Mexican Indian dishes. Bread made of corn, sauces of chile peppers, jerked beef, tortillas, enchiladas, etc., are unknown in Spain as native foods” before jumping into recipes ranging from salads to tacos to side dishes. Here is a peek at some of the recipes from the book.

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#72 Passover Traditions from Jewish Cultures Worldwide–Guest Blog by Rachel Landau

This Monday is the first night of Pesach, or Passover. In the days when the Temple was standing, every Jew was required to make a pilgrimage to the Temple and make an offering there. Around the world and on six continents, Jews still follow the same structure for a Passover seder, as outlined in the Haggadah nearly two thousand years ago. But Jews are not monolithic: each community adds its own variations and customs to the mix.

A picture from the Sarajevo Haggadah, one of the oldest Sephardic Haggadahs in the world. The Haggadah is the text that contains the order and the ritual traditions of the seder meal.

There are roughly three different strains of Jewish cultural movements, all of which have many different subgroups. After the destruction of the Second Temple, the Romans forcibly removed Jews from their homeland and scattered them throughout the Empire. Thus, three distinct cultures emerged. The Ashkenazi Jews come from Central and Eastern Europe, and make up between 70 and 80% of the worldwide Jewish population. The Sephardi Jews settled in Spain and flourished under Muslim rule there: after the expulsion of Jews in 1492, many fled to Portugal, the Netherlands, and Southern Europe, including the Ottoman Empire (especially present-day Turkey and Greece). Finally, Mizrachi Jews, from the Hebrew word for “east”, were descendents of Jews who lived in North Africa, the Middle East, and the Caucasus, and Central Asia.
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#71 “African Fabrics”: The History of Dutch Wax Prints–Guest Blog by Eccentric Yoruba

Vlisco model. Click for source.

“A picture of a pipe isn’t necessarily a pipe, an image of “African fabric” isn’t necessarily authentically [and wholly] African”.

These above words are quoted by Yinka Shonibare, a Nigerian-British contemporary artist known for his amazing artwork using African print fabrics in his scrutiny of colonialism and post-colonialism. What is commonly known as “African fabric” goes by a multitude of names: Dutch wax print, Real English Wax, Veritable Java Print, Guaranteed Dutch Java, Veritable Dutch Hollandais. I grew up calling them ankara and although they’ve always been a huge symbol of my Nigerian and African identity, I had no idea of the complex and culturally diverse history behind the very familiar fabrics until I discovered Yinka Shonibare and his art.

I know I personally felt shocked upon learning that the “African” fabrics I grew up loving and admiring were not really “African” in their origins (or is it?). This put things in perspective, however, as it suddenly made sense that my mother’s friends regularly travelled to European countries, including Switzerland and England, to purchase these fabrics and expensive laces to sell them again in Nigeria. In an attempt to join this lucrative business, my mother once dragged me with her to a fabric store while on holiday in London. I was not 13 years old then and I recall being surprised to find such familiar fabrics on sale outside Nigeria. Regardless, I never imagined that the history of this African fabric, henceforth referred to as Dutch wax print, spanned over centuries, across three continents and bridging various power structures.

Vlisco model. Click for source.

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#70 “The West Was Lost” by Beth Aileen Lameman and Myron A. Lameman: A Review

Cover for The West Was Lost. Click to read the comic

Native steampunk has been presented in many different ways and, like the comic Finder (which had been reviewed here a couple of weeks ago), The West Was Lost is another drawn tale that speaks in layers and plays with the concept of linear storytelling. The creators Beth Aileen Lameman (née Dillon) and her husband Myron Lameman are both Native (Beth has Irish/Anishinaabe/Métis heritage and Myron is from the Beaver Lake Cree Nation) and passionate about indigenous representation in their creative projects. Beth Aileen’s past work includes her comic Fala–which is described as a Native “Alice in Wonderland”–, the urban fantasy animated series Animism, and the games TimeTraveller–about a time-hopping Mohawk man from the 22nd century– and Techno Medicine Wheel. Myron is an independent filmmaker whose previous work includes his recent documentary made with support from National Geographic All Roads called Extraction, about the Beaver Lake Cree people’s fight against the Canadian federal government over tar sands expansion on their land. He has also done the short films Blue in the Face (also working with Beth Aileen), Indigenous Streets, and Shadow Dances and Fire Scars.

The comic itself is a one-shot 24-page piece, but the story it contains weaves in and out of time, consciousness and space. The summary of The West Was Lost is probably the most linear way to describe it:

The cold north wind brings with it chaos and harsh reality when decisions are made by Nezette, who leads members of the Sovereign to rid the west of the intruding Zhaagnaash people by putting flame to oil. Nezette must confront her worst enemy: the temptation of Windigo in herself.

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#69 Period Film Review Princess Kaʻiulani–Guest Blog by Evangeline Holland

Note: This is cross-posted with permission from Edwardian Promenade.

Princess Kaiulani Movie

Released in 2009 (though with a fair share of controversy over the admittedly tasteless title, “Barbarian Princess”), with limited run last year and a DVD release in September, Princess Kaiulani is a gorgeously-shot tale of an unjustly forgotten figure in American history. Though the writing isn’t as nuanced as it could be, and there are many holes in the tale which require further reading after viewing the tale, for a movie which sheds light on a dark, yet fascinating period not often told outside of Hawaiian history, Princess Kaiulani is an excellent addition to the library of any history buff and period film aficionado. The film follows Princess Victoria Kaʻiulani Kalaninuiahilapalapa Kawekiu i Lunalilo Cleghorn (to give her full name) from shortly before her mother’s death to her own premature death at the age of 23. In between that regrettably short time span, we are shown the tenuous state of Hawaii’s royal family and its inhabitants.
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#68 Carla Speed McNeil’s Aboriginal Sci-Fi Graphic Series FINDER: A Review–Guest Blog by Noah Meernaum

Outlined routes towards discovering and conversantly addressing Carla Speed McNeil’s graphic series Finder.

Panel from Finder: Sin-Eater, Issue 9: Artist/writer: Carla Speed McNeil, Lightspeed Press, March 1998

One inspired comic maker, Carla Speed McNeil, who began self-publishing Finder through her own imprint of Lightspeed Press in 1996, has been ardently continuing to develop this ongoing graphic series since 2005 as a webcomic. The creative commitment McNeil has applied toward the progressive formation of Finder has been appreciably recognized receiving a Lulu Award in 1997 and numerous Ignatz Awards leading to several Eisner nominations since 2001 1 In transitioning her successive work to a digital domain, McNeil has continued to draw critical accolades while expanding readers’ awareness within this worldly field, and in 2009, Finder was duly awarded an esteemed Eisner for ‘Best Digital Comic’. Topically, McNeil has accepted a representative offer from one of the foremost comic book publishers in the United States, and her prolific graphic saga will soon be widely republished in chronicle volumes by Dark Horse Comics.

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QUAINT #11 Salome da Costa from “The Story of Salome” by Amelia B. Edwards

Amelia B. Edwards, author of "The Story of Salome". Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Salome da Costa was created by Amelia B. Edwards and appeared in “The Story of Salome” (Storm Bound, Tinsley’s Christmas Annual, 1867). Edwards (1831-1892) was an author who became notable in her lifetime as an Egyptologist. During a trip to Egypt she became horrified at the destruction wrought to monuments by looters, and so founded the Egypt Exploration Fund, one of the first major archeological societies.

“The Story of Salome” is about Harcourt Blunt, who is doing the Grand Tour of Europe with his friend Coventry Turnour. In Venice Turnour sees a lovely Jewish woman in a Oriental
merchandise shop in the Merceria, and Turnour, being the type who falls in love easily and often, is taken with her. Blunt goes with him to the shop and is forced to agree with Turnour that the woman, whose name he discovers is Salome, is beautiful. But Blunt discourages Turnour from pursuing the match, and within a week’s time Turnour agrees with him. The pair continue the tour and then separate in Greece, with Blunt continuing on to the East. A year later Blunt is back in Venice, doing some sketching. He recalls Salome and goes looking for her. The shop in the Merceria is gone, and Blunt, who does not even know Salome’s last name, decides to give up looking for her. He goes to the Jewish cemetery to do some sketches, and finds a newer cemetery beyond that, and in that cemetery he sees Salome, in her mourning clothes, sitting next to a grave.

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#67 Reporting from AnachroCon!


AnachroCon, based in Atlanta, Georgia, is an alternative history convention that has been sympathetic to the steampunk cause. On its website, they describe themselves as an inclusive space where “home for Steampunks, Neo-Victorians, Retro-Futurists, Historical Re-enactors, Time Travelers, and general students of history, as well as those wishing to explore these areas.” This convention also has a decisively academic bent, though it certainly keeps ties between itself and several sci-fi conventions such as Dragon*Con, PhilCon, Chattacon and others.

Local steampunk and authoress Emilie P. Bush reports about her AnachroCon experiences as a panelist and attendee for this report. Austin Sirkin also returns and speaks a little bit about his role as Cultural Track Director for this convention and gives an on-staff viewpoint on how this year went. Moreover, the production company Persistence Multimedia presents some on-the-spot video reporting, featuring interviews with Emilie, Senior Con Director of Promotions Dan Carroll, Fabrication Director Paige Smith, propmaker Thomas Willeford of Brute Force Leather and several attendees about AnachroCon and the greater steampunk community.

Major kudos goes out for all of them for this extensive coverage!

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International Women’s Day: A Brief History

International Women's Day logoDuring the aftermath of the Industrial Revolution, causes for gender equality were being raised by men and women throughout the world. In 1909, under the helm of the Socialist Party of America, the first National Women’s Day was celebrated in the United States on February 28th. In 1910, at the International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen, influential German socialist politician Clara Zetkin proposed that a day be set aside in every country where women can organize and advocate for their demands for social equality. The following year, Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland celebrated International Women’s Day on March 19th, 1911. About 1 million men and women attended rallies in those countries and others to advocate for equal rights and pay.
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Steampunk Stylin’ at The Way Station & New Convention Announcements

A quick update about the plethora of events & conventions coming up.


In cooperation with the newly-opened Way Station in Brooklyn, we’re celebrating this new addition to the NYC steampunk community on Sunday, March 13th from 6-10 PM.

We’ll be having steampunk book giveaways, vending from Dorothy Winterman, live performances from Psyche Corporation, Eli August, Painless Parker, and MUCH more.

Not only that, but the lovely gents from BBC international will be joining us! They are filming a story about steampunk. So we hope to feature the variety that our community has to offer. We hope you’ll be able to join us!

RSVP on Facebook
RSVP on Meetup.com
RSVP on The Steampunk Empire

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