The Steampunk Empire

The Crossroads of the Aether

Last year, I had one person join me for the trip to Bedford for the recreation of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. This year it was just me. Oh, there were a few who made noises about coming and a few more who seemed intent and had arranged their car pool and everything but, in the end, I was the only steampunk.

I arrived first thing in the morning so that I didn’t miss anything as I had last year. I remembered that the actual gunfight at the corral happened shortly after the previous set piece rather than waiting the full half hour to match the printed schedule so that I was sure to be in position to take pictures. I probably could have chosen a better place but I had wanted to get pictures of “The Walk” down Freemont Street and that put me behind the gunfighters when the shooting started. Next year I will set up on the side of the corral to get better angles on the gunfight.

The same thing for the stagecoach robbery. I was behind the robbers and got only a few decent photographs.

I also missed photographing the killing of Sheriff Fred White by Curly Bill Brocius. In this case I had a good angle but I had the camera set to continuous shutter so that I wouldn’t miss any of the action but by the time the action I wanted to capture happened the camera’s memory had filled up and it wasn’t taking pictures until the RAM transferred to the MicroSD.

Lessons learned.

A few weeks back I purchased an SAA revolver. It was at the shop getting a sharp edge on the trigger ground off otherwise I probably would have taken it to Old Bedford. Except that I didn’t have a decent holster. Years ago when I got the Tanaka softair Peacemaker I got several holsters but each one tended to grab the pistol. On the one it tended to ride up with the gun so that I started to thumb back the hammer before the cylinder had cleared leather, jamming it. I’m not sure a real gun would have the same problem but what I really needed was a better holster that wouldn’t behave like that in the first place. Then I could practice the draw properly.

At Old Bedford, a gentleman had a table full of used holsters and I got a fairly nice one for $10. I had taken my softair with me and it sat in the holster like it was supposed to. And given that the softair is exactly identical in size to the real gin, I have no doubt it’s going to work once I get the gun back from the shop.

The people at Old Bedford that got to see the softair were very impressed with it’s accuracy. Same size. Every screw in the correct place. It’s even stamped with the Colt logo. The only obvious differences is inside the barrel and cylinder, designed for 6mm pellets instead of 45 caliber (11mm) cartridges, and the weight of the gun overall.

Near the end of the day, the artist who did paper cut silhouettes invited me for a sitting because she thought my beard would be interesting. Her first attempt made it look like I had a face full of tentacles. The second was a much more reasonable profile.

While I was sitting there I noted that she had a phrenology statuette. I will admit that I was dismissive and used the word “Poppycock.” She tried to defend it but I said it was discredited by scientists at the time even while it was being proposed. She said that she actually practiced physiognomy (using the face to assess a person’s character or personality) and that “I would be surprised at how accurate it is.”

That is an observational bias. It was a discredited pseudoscience even in the 19th Century when police departments started taking mug shots in hopes of building a database of criminal characteristics in hopes of identifying criminals before they committed crimes. Mostly it was just used to justify racial profiling. The shape of my nose, the size of my ears and the number of lines on my forehead has absolutely nothing to do with my temperament or personality.

Again. poppycock.

One of the set pieces was after the coach robbery. All the kids in the audience were deputized and given little metal clip on badges. When the villain came to collect up his boys from the jail and have it out with the law, the kids were standing behind the marshals and deputies with their plastic guns ready to shoot it out. The gunfight started, the bad guys ran off, chase was given and they were eventually all gunned down when their pistols ran out of blanks.

I want to do that. Firstly, dealing with kids like that is fun. Secondly, I want to run around shooting people. I know that after last year’s outing I thought about it but now that I have a real revolver and a decent holster I’m going to get serious. I’;ll have to figure out who it is that I talk to to become involved. I’d also been looking again at the Cowboy Action Shooting but even though there is a club in New Kensington, their rules require that participants have a rifle, shotgun and TWO revolvers. I have one revolver and do not plan on buying three more guns. I will go to see what it’s about, though. I wonder if that restriction prompts people to borrow guns for events.

As always, there are the conversations with people about steampunk. One gentleman was interested but thought he was too old for that stuff. I told him that one of the interesting things that I have found about steampunk is that it attracts people of all ages. So much of Star Wars fandom is of a certain age because they were the target audience when the movies came out. Star Trek, Harry Potter, Twilight, all of these are the same way. But steampunk didn’t have that sort of target moment and so everyone comes into it from their own path. As such, I have seen a broad range of ages at steampunk conventions, all of them getting along quite comfortably.

The gentleman seemed even more interested when I told him that there was going to be a steampunk convention and film festival in Gettysburgnext March.

Why didn’t any steampunks show up? Random bad timing and a two hour drive, I suppose. I’ll try again next year, even though it may only be myself going. It does make it pretty clear, however, that the likelihood of my getting people out for a a steam train ride in Cumberland on the western Maryland Scenic Railroad is probably a lost cause.

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