Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Friday Society Book Launch Info!

So it has finally been decided and the book launch for THE FRIDAY SOCIETY will be . . .

December 7th, 2012  at The Gladstone Hotel (doors open at 7pm and reading is at 7:30pm).

And all of this so wouldn't be possible without the help of the amazing Chris Reed at Small Print Toronto and Adam Smith from Steampunk Canada (oh, and I guess Penguin Books have kind of sort of been awesome too).  These two gents have helped me find a venue space and book acts, and let me tell you, it is going to be a FANTASTIC evening.

We'll have a demonstration of Bartitsu (the first mixed martial arts technique, invented by Sir Edward Barton Wright back at the turn of the century - uh, not the most recent turn, the one before that) by members of the incredible stunt team Riot A.C.T.  We'll also have some amazing Steampunk props/inventions on display courtesy of Mr. Smith himself and R. Phinius Bodine.  The book trailer will have its premiere public screening, and of course, I, Adrienne Kress, will be doing a reading.


Dress in your Steampunk finest (or whatever you feel like, but know you won't be out of place either dressed up all Steampunky, nor will you be the only one in street clothes), and be prepared for a delightful time.

(for tips on how to dress Steampunk using items from your existing wardrobe, check out my post here)

Also all ages are welcome!

And in honour of the occasion, here's the poster I designed for it (click for a larger version):

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Steampunk Tuesday - London Particulars & Contest!!

I stumbled onto the etsy page for this jewelry maker about a month ago, and maybe just maybe fell a tiny bit in love.  She does create Steampunk jewelry, so of course there would be a big yay factor for me already.  But I also find her work unique and very elegant.

In any event, we got in touch via the email, and it is my pleasure not only to share an interview she did for me, but also a contest to win an absolutely gorgeous original piece of Steampunk jewelry!

How to enter the contest:  
All you have to do is leave a comment below! 
(contest closes next Steampunk Tuesday - ie November 6th)

And here's the piece!


A fantastically Detailed Vintage Watch Movement BUTTERFLY Steampunk Necklace, beautifully bejeweled in shades of Violet, Red and Pink! Intricate and detailed in the neo Victorian style, Sure to be a treasured gift, for someone special, or perhaps for yourself!

The Vintage Ruby Jeweled Watch Movement measures 18mm x 15mm and is accented with beautiful Siam Red, Amethyst and Fuchsia Swarovski Crystals. Mounted upon an intricate silver plated filigree butterfly and suspended upon a 18 inch antiqued silver finished Cable Chain and the total dimensions of the pendant are a perfect 34mm by 40mm.


So without further ado, please meet Lora from London Particulars!


Tells us a bit about how London Particulars came to be!

I started London Particulars in 2008 to offer Steampunk Jewelry, artwork as well as the occasional curious curio.

Making beautiful, unique pieces of Steampunk Jewelry has been my goal and I love serving people with a penchant for the Neo-Victorian and a flair for the unusual. I can honestly say I have some brilliant customers and it's been a total pleasure and dream-job!

When and why did you start making jewelry? 
Ever since I was a kid I've had a natural curiosity when it comes to crafting and I have always loved making all sorts of things myself including jewelry. But I started making pieces in earnest in 2006 both as a creative outlet and to have unique pieces to wear myself. Sometimes you just can't find what you're looking for and you have to make it yourself.

What interests you about the Steampunk Aesthetic? 
I love the materials, the detail, the sheer eccentricity, creativity, imagination and style. I've always had a penchant for all things Victorian, Gothic and bizarre. I think the Steampunk aesthetic neatly combines all three of those categories (and many, many more).
When did/how did you discover Steampunk? 
I heard about Steampunk in the late eighties and saw elements of it in Roleplaying games. I never played them, but loved the aesthetic immediately. Steampunk has been in films and graphic novels for awhile now, prior to its recently large revival. One of my favorite Graphic Novels in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and I think that piqued my interest once more, along with seeing people's inventions on the Internet.
What's one of your favourite items you've designed? 
One of favorites was a pendant with horological collage of a clockwork cat, I made one of a snail around the same time. Both pieces sold quite a while ago, I wish I had taken a better pictures of them!

What's your proudest moment as a designer? 
There have been several, so it's hard to choose. My jewelry was used in a photoshoot for (the UK) Bizarre magazine, which was really exciting. It's also been featured in "Gothic Beauty" magazine, which was really cool. But I get a lot of really nice pieces of feedback from my customers and that always makes me immensely proud. People have chosen my jewelry to wear for their weddings and to give as gifts on holidays and special occasions which is just amazing. That makes me very proud! 
What Steampunk article that you own but DIDN'T design is your fav?

I have a lovely grasshopper sculpture that was designed by the amazingly talented Tom Hardwidge, an artist from the UK. He's created a fantastical range of Steampunk insects, I love his work and feel very lucky to own this piece!

Thank you so much for visiting us, and for your answers!  Your work is gorgeous, and I wish you much success with it!

Monday, October 15, 2012

New York Comic Con

I was in NYC over the weekend, attending New York Comic Con, and I thought I'd give as brief a summary of the events as I could now.
Brief for me being . . . not so much.  But I'll try.

View from plane.


Arrive in New York, head immediately to meet with my editor, Nancy and my publicist Jessica.  But I was a little early.  So I sat in the Pret a Manger [because a) yum and b) free wifi] and creeped on the Penguin building across the street.

When it was time, I went across and ran into Morgan Rhodes (author of FALLING KINGDOMS and a delightful person with whom I've spent time at cons with in the past) waiting in the lobby too.  We hugged.  And then she was whisked off and I never saw her again.  Well, that day.

Nancy came down to get me and we went to her office which is even more amazing than it was the last time I saw her.  Honestly she's a woman after my own heart in the way she decorates.  Little drawings everywhere, little collectable toys too.  It's so nice to meet a fellow chachka lover.  Jessica joined us and we had a wonderful chat about TFS plans.  Then Nancy and I chatted a bit longer.  And then I was off. . .

. . . To face rush hour traffic and cross the city from the downtown west side, to the upper east side.  Eventually I made it to my friends' place just in time to say goodnight to their adorable daughter and hang out a bit as they packed for a conference in New Oreleans.  I was very happy I got to see them before they left.


5:00am - sounds of the family departing are heard.


I get ready to head to New York Comic Con.  I wanted dress a bit Steampunk so I wore my lace top and brown cords with knee high brown boots.  I also wore the customed made TFS necklace that Lady Lilleigh had made for me, and also my goggles.

There's a similarity to be found in all Comic Cons, and it happens upon your approach.  You always know you're going the right way as colourful costumed characters start to replace the day to day wear of the average person, until you have unwittingly joined a parade of quirk.  It's very fun.  But also a little clausterphobic.

I arrived and finally made my way to the Penguin booth where I stashed my stuff and went on a tour of the hall.  Now I realise from my pics it looks like this was "Oldy-Timey Convention 2012", but there were other booths for all manner of geekitude: comic books, games, T-shirts, costume pieces etc etc.

Self explanatory

Apothecary Stand

Oldy-Timey fun times!


Ah ha!  One non-oldy-timey geek picture!

Gandalf and Bilbo in lego!

Then at 2pm I signed ARCs.  It was a lot of fun and I met a lot of lovely people, in costume and in plain clothes.  And whenever the line dwindled Colleen Lindsay would turn into a carnival barker and the line would be replenished.  You see it's a different experience at a Comic Con.  At BEA everyone knows the books are free, and you have to be careful not to take one accidentally for sale.  But at a Comic Con almost everything is on sale.  So people were very stunned to learn they would be given a free book.  Stunned but quite pleased.  I don't really have any pics of me signing, but once again I ran into Morgan Rhodes, who took a picture!

Then Thea from The Book Smugglers came by and we stood in the corner of the booth as she interviewed me.  Let me tell you, she's just delightful, and I kind of hope she got something coherent from the interview.  I do go on.  As you all know.  We shall know how she managed when the interview goes up on Thursday.

Then I went home to rest.  But first I took a picture of myself with my one purchase from Comic Con - a wooden mustache on a chain (bought from the booth pictured above).  One can't be dignified without one:


And then I changed to meet author/illustrator Peter Brown for dinner . . . at the place used for the exterior establishing shots for Riff's in MAD ABOUT YOU!  Very cool for me.

Letter proving it.

Late evening my friend Carrie finally arrived from Boston and we caught up.  Then went to sleep.


All about the hanging out.

We slept late, then spent the afternoon walking around the Park and talking. 

The famous Angel statue fountain in the park.
Then in the evening we went for dinner in the West village with her cousin (at a place called Moustache . . . note the running theme of the weekend . . . ).


And then Carrie and I went to this bar called Marie's Crisis and sang musical songs until the wee hours of the morning.


It's not like karaoke, nor like a piano bar, where individuals get up one at a time and perform a song.  No, everyone sings together (the odd waiter/waitress/regular did do a solo).  So you aren't nervous, you don't worry if you're any good.  And in some of the larger group numbers (think "One Day More" from Les Mis or "Downtown" from Little Shop) people take on different parts and sing in harmony and let me reiterate . . .


Singing.  With the top of Carrie's head in the foreground

Then we went home.  I went to sleep.  Four hours later I was heading to the bus to Newark airport.

So that was my weekend!  And it was much fun.  I love NYC.  SO much.  But as always, good to be home.  And of course Atticus the cat is all needy and stuff which makes me feel good.  And a little annoyed.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Steampunk Tuesday - An Adrienne Photoshoot

. . .The director of a film I shot last year needed some still photographs for said movie, and he suggested that for a lark after we took those we could play and take some more pictures, maybe some Steampunk stuff.

And of course he had me at Steampunk.

Now I actually did a photoshoot earlier this summer for some Steampunk photos that I could use for conventions etc, but those pics aren't ready yet (my fault, I was given a contact sheet a mile long and the photos are really good - which I take no credit for, it's all the photographer's talent - so choosing which I want is quite the effort), so in the meantime I felt like sharing some of these from the spontaneous shoot.  'Cause . . . why not? :)

You'll note they are very Adrienne Steampunk.  That is to say, they have a dash of Steampunk, but aren't as intensely Steampunk as some of the amazing pics you'll see out there.  I know it sounds odd, and counter to everything that makes the genre what it is, but I'm kind of into a minimalist Steampunk aesthetic, lol. 

So without further ado . . . some green!

. . . A lot of green . . .


Last but not least . . . 
Slightly blurry thumbs up!  The funny thing about my pics is that I look oh so serious in them and yet when taking the pics I can barely keep a straight face. 

Monday, October 08, 2012

Canadian Thanksgiving

I've always considered Canadian Thanksgiving an odd beast.  We really don't have the same reason to celebrate the holiday as our neighbours to the south.  In fact I always assumed we had it because we thought, "Oh hey, that looks like a fun holiday, let's do that too!  Only to be a little different, let's change the date!"

Well it turns out I'm both right and wrong. Some speculate it originated like this:

The first formal Canadian Thanksgiving was held just over 40 years prior to the pilgrims landing in Massachusetts. An English explorer named Martin Frobisher had been trying to find a northern passage to the Orient. He did not succeed but he did establish a settlement in Northern America and he did celebrate a harvest feast. This is considered the first Canadian Thanksgiving.

In 1957, Parliament announced that on the second Monday in October that Thanksgiving would be "a day of general thanksgiving to almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed."

And others claim:

York U researcher Peter Stevens:

Canada’s Thanksgiving –first celebrated in 1859 -- has little to do with ... Martin Frobisher’s ship on a visit to Baffin Island in 1578,

Ontario’s Protestant church leaders appropriated the American autumn holiday in the 19th century and transformed it into an instrument of Canadian nationalism

By the 1870s, American holiday traditions -- family gatherings, turkey dinner and stories of pilgrims – came to Canada, creating commercial opportunities for businesses and a way for Catholics to celebrate the day as a non-religious event.

Because the [American] holiday was too late in the year for Canadians to spend the day outdoors, in 1899 the federal government scheduled the holiday for mid-October most years

For my family it really has never been a big deal holiday.  In fact we don't really celebrate it.  So my interest in Thanksgiving is not really . . . big.  That being said, the idea of giving thanks is still a nice one.  And I think we often forget to think about all the good things, when the bad things can be kind of overwhelming.  So here's my list of what I'm grateful for:

- my health.  Seriously, I know it's all very, "Well at least you have your health" but darn, I really am beyond grateful to be a healthy person.  I am very lucky that way.

- my family.  Best. Family. Ever.  Both immediate and extended.  They have always been there for me, supportive of me and my goals.  And they make me laugh.  In the best way.

My cousin Devorah and me.

- my friends.  I've gone on and on about them before, but I have been truly honoured to have these insanely talented, clever and hilarious people in my life.  Not a frenemy in the crowd and like my family, as supportive as all get out. I don't know how I got so lucky.

Just an example of but a few of my awesome friends.  L-R: Emily, Me, Carrie, Penny.

- my cat.  I mean, it's not like he just happened into my life.  I wanted a cat.  I went cat comparison shopping (courtesy of The Toronto Cat Rescue).  And when I met Atticus, he was just perfect.  But I am grateful for him, because he makes me extremely happy.  He's silly, he's infuriating, he's sometimes rather clever.  And he's so soft and schnooglable.


- my career(s).  You know, I'll be honest, I'm not 100% satisfied with how things are going - but I'm a difficult person to please.  Nonetheless, at least things are going.  At least I am doing something that I am passionate about and love.  Which is likely why it also drives me to insanity.  But I am very lucky to get to do what I do.  And to get to share it with all of you. 

- movies.  Whoever invented movies was a genius.

- food.  Whoever invented food was a genius.

There are many other things to be grateful for - internet access, massage therapists, the work of Douglas Adams and William Shakespeare -  but if I enumerated them all the list might never end.  Needless to say I am grateful.  Very grateful.

So what are you thankful for?  I know not all of you are Canadian, but it never hurts to think about it and say thanks :) .


Thursday, October 04, 2012

On Comedy

Why do I like comedy?

Because it's funny.

The End.

Well that really is the number one reason I like comedy.  It makes me laugh.  It makes me feel good.  But there's also another reason why I like comedy.

I like how it handles serious moments. Often I prefer how comedy handles drama better than how drama handles drama.  I feel that there is a lighter touch to it, and the juxtaposition between what is irreverent and then suddenly serious affects me more profoundly. 

In fact I often find myself more moved by a serious moment in a comedy than I am when a show/book is being oh so serious.  When Abed revealed in a totally ridiculous movie he had cut together that his mom walked out on him and his dad and he thought it was his fault in season 1 of COMMUNITY, yup I got a little teary.  And while a drama, the most exciting and "Yes exactly that!" moments in THE WEST WING came with a punchline.  Wes Anderson many dismiss as being too absurd and silly, yet his characters break my heart these days and seem more emotionally honest more than any others.  Then there's Judd Apatow.  The creator of some pretty silly movies that, each at their core, have a bucket load of heart.  And even a lesson or two thrown in for good measure. 

Now caveat time:  I love drama.  As I've said before, I really do enjoy all genres.

But I feel a need to defend comedy today because I think it needs it.

Yes comedies are often very successful, but they still don't get no respect.  It is a rare thing indeed that a comic film gets nominated for best Oscar.  Or a funny book wins any major literary awards (trying to think of the last comic book that got nominated for the Giller . . . does anyone know?).

And why is that?

I'll tell you my theory.  And there are two reasons, both having to do with tone.

Tone Reason 1

Good comedy must seem effortless.  A joke is never so uncomfortable and bad as when the person telling it looks like they are trying too hard.  And because good comedy seems effortless it can come across like it took no effort.

Uh, yeah . . . kind of obvious there Kress.

What I mean is . . . it takes a lot of work to be funny.  It takes practice, it takes fine tuning, it takes putting yourself out there and knowing not everyone will find your particular sense of humour humorous.  It takes self editing, and a self awareness.  Joan Rivers has itemised drawers of jokes.  Sketch comedy acts go through rounds and rounds of scripts.  And books, well like all books, they are edited over and over again.

But if anyone sees this work in the finished product, it's a failure.

It's like when I was a theatre technician.  The audience only ever noticed my work when it went wrong: when say the follow spot didn't turn on at the right moment, or the mic made that horrible feedback sound.  Otherwise no one really noticed that they could see and hear the actors.  When no one noticed, I knew I'd done a good job.

One could also compare being funny to being the creator of works for children.  Again because the writing is simpler, people think it's simple to write.

So that is the first reason.  People think it's easy to write comedy.

Tone Reason 2

When the tone is comic, clearly the subject matter can't be profound.

When the tone is serious, when we know that what we are watching or reading is very serious, we as an audience know how we are supposed to respond.  We are supposed to take the art very seriously.  And often the same is true of a light comic tone.  People assume they are supposed to consider the material before them as light and comic.  Nothing more.

And I think a lot of people feel comfort in this.

But here's the thing.  Just because a work of art is considered one thing, doesn't mean it can't also consist of the other.  Dramatic films can have comic moments.  And that messes with people sometimes.  I know I've been watching a serious film in the theatre that had a joke, and I laugh, and people in the audience give me a dirty look because how dare I not take this serious film seriously.  Except. . . the writer/director wants me to laugh there, people!  It's okay that I did.

Heck, ever heard of a little movie called SCHINDLER'S LIST?  Probably the example of one of the more famous serious films out there.  And guess what, it had funny moments in it too.

It was something I, as a not as evidently angst filled teen as my peers were, pointed out during our student written/run one act play festival in high school.  All these plays were SO serious, so dire.  Not a drop of comedy to be found.  No levity.  And I'd sit there stage managing and I'd point out the SCHINDLER'S LIST thing to my fellow techies.

Well, the reverse is true of comedy.  Comedy often at its core addresses some pretty serious stuff.  And it's no coincidence that a lot of comedians have some pretty harrowing backgrounds.  The world can be an absurdly cruel place, and sometimes all you can do is laugh.

In fact you'll notice that almost whenever a comic actor crosses over to a dramatic role: ie Jim Carrey, Adam Sandler, that they knock it out of the park.  It's not always the case though with a serious actor crossing over to comedy.

At any rate, that is my theory.  It all comes down to tone.  The comic tone makes the work seem lesser.  It makes it seem like the work both was easy to write, and isn't meant to be taken too seriously - doesn't address any big issues.  Now once in a blue moon a comedy does get the respect it deserves: ie ANNIE HALL.  And more often than once in a blue moon a comedy is nothing more than escapist fun, no profound message, just fart jokes.  And there ain't anything wrong with fart jokes.

But I guess I still get surprised when people can't see past the tone.  Of both comedy AND drama quite frankly.  It's something I see when it comes to children's books too (as I mentioned briefly), as well as genre ("Well it has people with weird rubber foreheads, how exactly am I supposed to take that seriously?").  And thus I felt like mentioning it.  'Cause that's what I do.

So, like usual, it's your turn:  What comic films/plays/books etc have moved you to tears (or close to it)?

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Steampunk Tuesday - Intro To Steampunk

Hey all!

Having already a rather crazy week so this spawns . . .

LAZY BLOG POSTING *echo, echo echo*

But with the lazy can come something of use.  I think.  Or maybe it's just an excuse.  I dunno. 

At any rate, the other day a friend asked for some links etc to help her get a basic sense of what this whole Steampunk thing was and I sent her some. And then I realised . . . this might be a good list to compile officially here.

Now, to be fair, it's a bit of a biased list.  Towards me.  And previous Steampunk Tuesday posts I've made.  But as I've already collected a lot of stuff to aid in the explanation of "What the heck is Steampunk", I feel like it's okay to be biased towards me.  Especially as the content within said posts are courtesy of mostly . . . not . . . me.

Anyway, here's a nice list of links that I think will help any newcomer to Steampunk get a better sense of what it is: