My final day at the Wild Wild West Steampunk Convention started when I was steered into Rosa’s Cantina for a round of tea duelling hosted by the Tucson Steampunk Society. Tea duelling is a very silly sport where a biscuit is dunked no less than halfway into a cup of tea, submerged for five seconds, then lifted for the battle to commence. The goal is to be the last person to achieve a “clean nom,” which means a complete consummation of the cookie without suffering the eternal shame of having it crumble into your drink—or even worse, onto your person! With a sophisticated technique called “Beginner’s Luck” I defeated Major Wayne, the Texas Terror, and one-eyed Jacqualyn Arthur. In the next round however, I was defeated by Arthur’s sister, the fearsome Tara Fermington.
Next, the Saloon hosted a highly anticipated Steampunk costume contest. It was a tough competition, with young Steampunk Spiderman earning judge’s favorite, the incredibly coiffed Lady Ember Brennan Sparks getting third place, and the crew from the Coyote’s Fortune (an airship out of El Paso, Texas) taking second. Despite the heavy competition it was no surprise when a striking Steampunk Diver Suit earned first place, having made a huge impression when he lumbered onto stage. Created by Huachuca Mountain Steampunkers John, Sabrina, and Mark, check out this video to see him in action:
Afterwards I scurried back to the chapel to wait in line for the Meet Steam Powered Giraffe panel. “Last time we were here we were just small fries in a big pond,” marveled Christopher “Bunny” Bennett as he spoke of the changes the band has undergone since the convention two years ago. Indeed, Steam Powered Giraffe has exploded in popularity since their Balboa Park days, and things are just getting busier and better. Though tight-lipped about the details of their coming or Steam Powered Giraffe projects, the band confirmed that they are currently working on their third album and a variety of ventures such as a comic and developing a more comprehensive back story. Since the band arrived as characters from their songs (Rex Marksley, Captain Albert Alexander, Lily Airhart) instead of the traditional robot makeup, we can assume that they are doing more development in that field as well. Mostly, the panel expressed their gratitude for long-lasting fan support “We’ve seen your children grow. We have been entertaining some of you since before you could talk…and that’s kind of weird because now you do talk!” Without giving anything away, the band did warn that their YouTube page was going to explode in the next couple of months, so definitely be on the lookout!
After the SPG panel I headed over to the Stage II barn for the Grand Championships of the Tea Duelling Competition; the culmination of over 100 duels that the Tucson Steampunk Society had hosted over the course of the weekend! Mad Madame Askew narrowly defeated her nemesis, the Dirty Weasel, and was able to maintain supremacy as the Queen of Tucson Tea Duelling. In a surprise twist of fate I found myself competing again as a runner-up, only to suffer eternal shame a second time at the hands of Kathleen “The Dark Horse” Hill. She dueled again and claimed her second Championship title. Grand Arbiter Glenn R. Shambach, Jenn “Hawkeyes” Lopez, and Jocelynne Woolf as Mad Madame Askew truly made this event with their crazy commentary (“Do I see flexure?”) and I had an absolute blast with them! If you ever have a chance, definitely go hang out with the Tucson Steampunk Society.
As things wrapped up in the Saloon, I conversed with the lovely Dr. Sparky McTrowell of The Adventures of Drake and McTrowell (http://www.drakeandmctrowell.com). Sunday was certainly a more relaxed day at the second Wild Wild West Steampunk Convention, though it came with the bittersweet tang of ending the dream. Luckily, there is already plenty talk about plans for “next year.” This was the first time that the Arizona Steampunk Society has spearheaded the event, and I think that was a good move which provided stronger organization and overall direction. With the benefit of experience and the continued rise in Steampunk’s popularity, I am confident that the next time be bigger, better, and unconditionally brilliant! As the sun sets on the 2013 Wild Wild West Steampunk Convention, I can’t wait to return to the West that never was in 2014!
Like Dorothy Gale, Christin Pike is neither a good witch nor a bad witch. She loves alliteration and is interested in Science, Superstition, Star Wars, Steampunk, Scifi, Fantasy, Folklore, and Fairy Tales. She graduated from ASU and currently pokes eyeballs for a living as an licensed dispensing Optician.