Morning, folks, and welcome to another meeting of the Order of the Reeking Camel, that cabal of despoilers and defiers of everything Hump Day. Much as I love April (my sister and I had our birthdays last week and never you mind how old we are now!), I am glad to see the end in sight. May promises warmer weather, an end to the spring rains, and maybe I’ll get my garden planted before it gets too hot.
Did you know that YouTube is the second most frequented search engine in the world? I heard that and was sure it was bull cookies. But apparently it’s not. And I have made more than my fair share of contribution to that statistic. When I was ill this past winter, I spent a lot of time surfing Teh Interwebz, including YouTube. It’s not something I am proud of. It’s the sort of thing that happens when you’re too ill to invest any real energy in sensible occupations, and you don’t watch a lot of TV.
While on YouTube, I found a lot of videos that I wanted to share with y’all. I tried to bookmark them so I could use them for Fun Friday fodder. Some of them I have already shared, some I haven’t. Now is my chance to pass along a few recommendations. These are mostly video channels that have been dedicated to something Steampunk, Dieselpunk and/or Pulp, either new or classic. A couple are playlists instead, and I have noted those as I come to them (with one exception). I chose them because they made me smile, or impressed me somehow.
Remember how I’ve ranted multiple times about my devotion to indie creative producers? How I love their joie de créer and will seek out their work, even when it’s less than perfect? Yeah, that still applies; consider yourself warned.
One: Table Flip
Might as well go ahead and do the exception first. The first recommendation is neither a channel or a playlist on YouTube. It’s just three videos, parts one, two and three, of a show called Table Flip, which is a non-Punk game review/demonstration channel; kind of a bargain basement TableTop, without the irritant of Wesley The Wonder Weenie. The episodes in question (linked above, as if you hadn’t already noticed) are the demonstration of a game called Betrayal at House on the Hill. Betrayal at House on the Hill is a horror game about an intrepid party of Scooby Gang wannabes investigating, you guessed it, a haunted house on a hill. What originally brought these videos to my attention was the guest appearance of YouTube personality, Markiplier (I’m not linking to him; use your Google Fu, grasshopper). My son, my nieces and I are all big fans of this Let’s Play celebrity; he can be adorkably funny.
What makes this link noteworthy for y’all is the decidedly steampunk sensibility Markiplier and his hosts bring to their demonstration. They dress the part, which is fun all by itself. They take on Steampunk personalities for the duration, and, more importantly, they seem to apply a steampunk sensibility to the game. It doesn’t really affect the game play or the results; it simply changes the flavor in a way that intrigued and pleased me. It’s a little thing, but I like it; I’d like to see Steampunk flavors added to other board/table top games, see how it might make things more fun.
Two: The Danger Element
I am sure I have mentioned The Danger Element in one of my Fun Friday posts. But it bears repeating here. Apparently this dude John Soares (here’s a Wikipedia entry about him) is quite the Internet auteur, making viral videos. I am neither qualified nor interested in making comment on that. But I do like The Danger Element, and its pulpy goodness more than qualifies for ClarksonPunk. There are twelve installments of this serialized story (plus two teasers and a behind-the-scenes featurette included on the channel). In the story, there is a secret society of super-powered do-gooders vs. a secret society of super-powered do-badders. Simple enough. But our hero (from the good side) has been made a deal with a beautiful woman: she’ll help him recover a stolen element (the Danger Element, natch!), if he’ll help her find and rescue her father, who has been taken by the aforementioned do-badders (the same ones who snatched the element).
Like too many indie productions, the writing is … less than stellar and the acting is obviously sub-par. But the visual effects are absolutely stunning for a semi-amateur production company. The same can be said for the stunts, and the Dieselpunk-friendly guns, vehicles and gadgets? Yeah, I was drooling, and I’m not even that into the modding side of the field.
Here’s the shorter of the teasers, so you can take a peek:
Three: Postmodern Jukebox
I know I’ve mentioned these guys before. This is a music entry, the brainchild of a Long Island pianist called Scott Bradlee. I’m not gonna get into how he ended up doing this sort of thing (here’s a TED talk given by him that explains it much more entertainingly than I could). Practical upshot: this guy takes modern music — Iggy Azalea, Radiohead, Ke$ha, Taylor Swift, you name it — and retools them to sound like classic Motown, Prohibition-era jazz, Wild West saloon style (my personal favorites are the adaptations to ’60’s style Frank Sinatra swing or the turn of the century bluegrass). A LOT of the music falls very comfortably in the Steam, Diesel and pulp eras, and, on top of that, are shockingly hummable and toe-tappable, even for old geezers like me. What do they call them, earworms? Yeah, their version of All About That Bass got stuck in my head for several weeks. Check them out.
Four: Serial Squadron
It’s wonderfully gratifying to me to see how many of the old Republic serials are available online. I can remember sitting up waaaaaay late at night one summer week — with my parents’ permission! — because our local TV channel was having a week-long celebration of all things Buster Crabbe. Every night at midnight, I’d be on my sofa, big bowl of popcorn at the ready, so I could watch Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, you name it, I was THERE! I have no idea to this day what prompted my mother to let me sit up so late when I was so young (around nine or ten). All I know is that summer had a profound impact on my tastes in fiction. Doc Savage novels, Flash Gordon serials, and Star Trek (the original series, of course!) were what made me the pulp-addicted old broad you see before you today.
I know I’ve mentioned one or two of my favorite serial channels. This is a relatively new one: Serial Squadron, it’s called. It’s relatively new, and not as well organized as the Jaeckel channel, for example. But it has some serials that I had not seen before, and that’s a good thing. A couple of the offerings are very old indeed, dating back to the Silent Era. What brought me to Serial Squadron was their offering, “The Voice From the Sky,” made in 1930, and was the first serial with sound. It was considered lost until just a few years ago. You wanna see? Follow the link.
Five: Steampunk and Dieselpunk playlist
Remember I said there was gonna be a playlist? This is it. Nothing too amazing: just somebody took it into their head to start compiling various online offerings of single and multi-part videos in our fields. It’s nothing you couldn’t find on your own. But isn’t it so much better to have somebody else do the compiling for you? Here’s the link.
Bonus: Remember WENN
I stayed away from copyrighted material that’s been illegally copied to YouTube. Those Republic serials are out of copyright for the most part, and the rest of the stuff I’ve linked to today is indie stuff released by the creators or on a Creative Commons copyright. For this, however, I’ll make an exception. Back when my kids were little, American Movie Classics had their first original series, called Remember WENN. It was about a 1930’s era radio station, the actors and performers that did live broadcasts from that station, and how they dealt with the strange routines of their lives. It was pretty good, and it’s set firmly in the year or so leading up to World War II. Somebody has posted the whole thing onto YouTube, here. I’m pretty sure it’s been posted wihtout the originators permission, and there’s no telling how long it’ll stay up before YouTube figures it out and pitches a fit. So go check it out now, before they get wise.
Okay, that’s it for me today. Next up is Fun Friday, and I think it’s safe to say, there won’t be any YouTube videos in the offering! You know the routine: tweet, share, comment, write. if you have any suggestions for Fun Friday, give me a shout at the email addy on my About Page. In the meantime, don’t forget about Vandalia Con, and if you can’t be good, don’t get caught!