Thursday, February 28, 2008

Bostodelphia Steampunk-A-Go-Go: Steampunks are Upon Us!


Having regenerated Cod from his incinerated scales and patented Bostoldelphia cloning technnology, and reconsituted myself from Jake von Slatt's digestive process through ... other means, we've been impressed with the number of readers who've tuned into our interview with Jake, and flattered by the positive impression our works made among the Steampunk community.

Now what do we do?

We know Coddy's going to offer up in the near future his own Steampunk machinations for the study of any Steampunks who've decided to hang around here, he's our resident technological tinkerer. While I confess I came into our interview with Herr von Slatt relatively cold, with only a passing understanding of Steampunk, and still don't have a full handle on all the viewpoints attached to word, I've come to find the "ethic" of Steampunk fascinating so far, and would like to keep writing on it, exploring it.

We'd like some feedback though.

We know our interview with Jake was just the tip of the iceberg, or more appropriately the threshold of the furnace. Jake also admits to be speaking of only his personal philosophy, so there's plenty of room for other perspectives, and some Steamers may have responded to our questions very differently.

Do let us know what you think. Bostodelphia is a mash up of Boston and Philly, two cities with claims to Ben Franklin, arguably the grand-granddaddy of Steampunk. So Steampunk could easily be one of our regular "beats" here. We got comment threads or you could drop us an e-mail. While obviously, those avenues are not as fluid and flexible as some of the Steampunk communities' own forums, and direct input to us, or tracks to your discussions of our work, will help us make decisions on this possible new editorial direction for Bostodelphia.

Stay tuned, and we're listening.

Note, if you haven't done so, definitely check out issue 4 of Steampunk Magazine. The open letter to Jake von Slatt and Datamancer dovetails nicely with some of the points Jake addresses in our interview.


In all my years on the internet (since 1993) I have never, ever received that Nigerian bank scam email.

At last, I've got one, although it's a variation of it involving Gambia. I've finally joined the club, how exciting! I'll say no more, let the spam speak for itself:

My dear, I am miss Melina Salman from Juba, Sudan, presently in the Gambia prison, single and 19 years old. After accessing your details in the internet site i copied out only your email address. Immediately after going through your information i made up my mind to contact you for long term relationship, because you are my choice of trust and i see nothing wrong with the choice that i have made in you. Now that i am in a state of absolute confusion I must let you know that my daddy was the Financial controller to the Common Wealth North African Region.
About my parents; My mummy died in labour when she was giving birth to a baby in the hospital in Juba, and both my mummy and the baby died together, then i was only 11 years of age. My daddy died in a car accident and the car driver that jammed my daddy's car ran away and my daddy's lawyer and my daddy's brother are among the suspects, and they are all against me because of my daddy's properties in Sudan.The following information is my purpose of choosing you. Before my daddy died he made me the beneficiary of the amount of 9 Million gbp£ in his account with Islamic Bank in Dakar, Senegal. On my way travelling to Dakar, Senegal i arrived this country called Gambia on transit, on the same night i arrived Gambia i was attacked by 2 big boys in my guest house (hotel) room, they robbed me, collected my hand bag that contained all my travelling money, as if that was not enough, they tried to rape me so i collected the nearest object in the room and heated one of them on the head and shouted to the hearing of the neighbouring compounds and people came out and descended on the criminals, the next morning the police came to the guest house and arrested me, since then i have been kept under awaiting trial here in this central prison Gambia because the criminal i heated paralysed as a result of the severe beating given to him by the neighbourhood.
I am among the girls newly appointed to head the girls sector in this prison, hence i have the advantage to use the prison computer to communicate with you, and i will be very glad to also have a detailed information about you. From here i communicated with Islamic bank and they said that because of the written agreement that my daddy signed with them that i must be present in their bank to withdraw the money by myself OR that i should appoint a foreign partner who will receive the money on my behalf. the money is my only hope in life. as soon as Islamic Bank transfers the money into your bank account, you will use some of the money to get me out of here, then the same week of my release you will fly down here in Gambia and i and you will depart to your home in your country together.
If you cannot come to gambia you will send down enough money from my money in your account for my freedom and my journey to meet you in your country airport and you will be at your airport to welcome me. I want you to help me receive the amount and also be my financial and investment manager. I dont want islamic bank to transfer all the money at the same time, i want the bank to transfer only 4.5 million first and after they will transfer the remaining 4.5 million.
I am waiting your reply
Miss Melina Salman

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Bostodelphia Steampunk-a-go-go: Taking a Steam with Jake von Slatt

Von Slatt with Steampunk Ax

Our inaugural Steampunk article, an interview with Jake von Slatt.


JVS: Jake von Slatt
CP: Cod Peace
CTI: Cheesesteak the Impaler

Enjoy! And we welcome your feedback.

Taking a Steam with Jake von Slatt

CTI: Cod Peace and I have toweled ourselves up and reported to Dillons Russian Steam Bath in Chelsea to conduct our interview with Boston area steampunk posterboy (or perhaps daguerreotype gentleman?) and Weekly Dig "Good Bostonion" Jake von Slatt. After some bickering with Cod on the way here in the Bostodelphiamobile, I've come to realize that this setting may not be the ideal thematic location I had envisioned. Turns out steampunks, in fact, do not mill about in clouds of steam. Well, Herr von Slatt's just going to have to do it this once for Bostodelphia. Besides, while I'm a little worried what all this hot moisture's going to do to my roll, Cod's actually starting to give off this tasty, poached smell.

Herr von Slatt, thank you for taking the time to meet with Bostodelphia.

JVS: My Pleasure Mr. Impaler and please call me Jake. Lovely place this! it reminds me of The Gellert, a wonderful 19th Century spa in Budapest.

CTI: Going over your broader array of projects, it seems like you've been doing DIY tinkering for a while before "steam punk" was really in the vernacular. I'm wondering how you fell into the word, and how or if you've reconciled your work prior to encountering steampunk. Have you always been "steampunk?" What did you call your work prior to encountering the term? Has your involvement with the word affected the aesthetics or production techniques of your work?

JVS: "I've been Steampunk all along, I just never knew what it was called" is a common refrain on the Steampunk message boards and is true for me as well. When I was 11 or 12 I got into electronics in a big way and I would spend hours in the 621 section of the Public Library. Invariably the books that appealed to me were the works from the early 20th century that contained "projects for boys" that would get the authors sued or shipped off to gitmo if they were published today.

While other nerdy kids were playing with their 101 Electronic Project kits from Radio Shack with PNP and NPN transistors, my earliest experiments were with leyden jars, home-made lead acid batteries, vacuum tubes, and high voltage coils. I built a spark gap transmitter with which I could send Morse signals some distance, of course it also obliterated television reception in the entire neighborhood when in operation.

So I've always had a passion for the old tech and part of the reason for that is its accessibility to the tinkerer. 19th tech can be recreated with tools you can own or build. I don't need a vapor deposition chamber or a wafer fab facility to build a radio, the most sophisticated thing I need is a good vacuum pump.

As for the word itself; when I'm working in my shop and I need, say some sort of linkage, I look through my junk box and see what similar to the part I'm looking for and I modify it to serve. I'll admit to co-opting the term Steampunk in a similar way for my website.

CTI: To me, those invested in the word "steampunk" -- and my knowledge base stems from Sterling and Gibson's collaboration on The Difference Engine which introduced steampunk aesthetic to a mass audience -- are forced into a comparison with cyberpunk "culture," if sucha culture can even be isolated and identified from mainstream technological aesthetics anymore. Broadly sketching cyberpunk as a meshing of a subgenre of science fiction (and music and other arts), "information wants to be free" ideology and its Orwellian counterforce, and a hacker culture involved in technological exploits and play for fun and profit regardless to matters of law, we can see a movment that was forecasting, or maybe trying to force, massive societal changes through information technologies. Is there similarly grand world-thinking among practitioners of steampunk crafts or arts (mad scientist megalomania?), or are steampunks engaged with something more personal or intimate? Maybe nostalgic?

JVS: Certainly some are primarily interested in the nostagic. However some of the harder core fans think more in terms of lifestyle. In many ways I think Steampunk is a reaction to Cyberpunk, its a desire to inject an element of humanity and passion into something cold and virtual and as such I think it will have a longer run.

Making things is also a central theme among (what I am going to start calling) Steam Punks, as is a general anti-corporate, pro-individual attitude. We're anti-corporate not because big companies are evil or anything, but because they are boring and promote sameness and we see too much of that in the world. We treasure unique things.

: To follow up on that, Jake, or push it differently: I get Steam Punks are similar to at least the first cyberpunk iterations in the anti-corporate, pro-individual, what we may call a "techno libertarian" outlook (and by libertarian I mean more DIY than "Republicans who want to smoke pot"). However, other than the fact that a lot of yesterday's "cyberpunks" have more or less sold out to contemporary digital capitalism, the other thing was that the cyberpunk technological savvy was seen by the movement as an imperative. Some formulation of a "cyber" future was inevitable, they were just leading the way and the rest of the world would have to catch up. Some saw it as a mission to sort of "evangelize" the future and help the luddites bridge the digital divide, etc. Others saw themselves as future princes with those not hip to the movement their future serfs, etc. In other words, whether you got cyberpunk or not, the cyberpunk movement would ultimately affect you; and arguably, some element of it actually did. I'm wondering if the average Steam Punk sees him or herself as providing an example to the "masses" as yet untouched by steampunk, or seeing themselves having a broader social impact than their individual craft and apparent niche audiences?

: Of course there is a great deal of variation among those that would identify themselves as Steam Punks, there is a definite Anarchist contingent and a lot of Steam Punk identify with the green movement and see the re-visiting of the old tech as a path to sustainability, steam power is, after all, perfect for bio mass energy conversion.

: Howso?

: In a nutshell, global warming is caused by the burning of fossil fuels which result in the release of ancient carbon (in the form of CO2) into the atmosphere. Biomass is any solid or liquid plant product that will burn. The carbon that is released to the atmosphere when these fuels are burned is carbon that was fixed from the atmosphere last year, not 10 million years ago. The process is essentially carbon neutral. The advantage steam has is due to the fact that steam boilers can easily be designed to burn multiple types of fuel, whereas internal combustion engines require a liquid form with particular characteristics. A Stanley Steamer will run fine on veggie oil, kerosene, gasoline, diesel or paint thinner and it would be fairly easy to add a fire box to allow one to burn wood chips, peat moss, whatever.

Large scale power from biomass is a proven technology, Steampunks are interested in downsizing such systems to power individual homes or compound, just in case there's an apocolypse or something.

I describe myself as a "bleeding heart libertarian" and think that's consistent with Steam Punk. We promote the blending of science and romance, technology and humanity.

: Is there an international appeal to SteamPunk or is it more limited to Anglo countries?

: I hear it's huge in France
and Germany right now, also in the U.K. where the blend of fans is really quite fascinating. To see 50-something railroad steam enthusiasts discussing pocket watches and goggles with 20-something Goths in psuedo Victorian parlance is trippy as hell. Yah just gotta love Teh Intarweb.

Right now the busiest forum on the web is run out of the U.K by a young lady who sports the moniker "TinkerGirl" she's the force behind the Brass Goggles Blog and the forum can be found at

CP: Is it popular in the UAE yet? If it is you're going to make a sh*t load of money.

JVS: Not that I know of, but recent articles in Ocean Drive and Vegas magazines may change that. As aside, it tickled me greatly to see a link for, a publication with some definite Anarchist leanings, in a pair of over-sized, super glossy, hyper-capitalist luxury goods magazines - now that's punk.

CTI: Why would you want steam in the desert?

CP: Because there's an obscene amount of $ (and, er, euros these days) floating around, and if a tiny percentage gets steampunked JvS will be driving
a gold-plated steampunked Yaris to his day job.

CP: Is the essence of being a "steampunk(er?)" in the creation of steampunk crafts or in the mere consumption of them? How significant is the do-it-yourself model to steampunk, as opposed to something like goth where there's a ready
market of fashion accessories, music, etc. to decorate one's self with, and thus no need for DIY? Relatedly, does the burgeoning market for luxury steampunk goods (JvS's keyboard can be purchased from another steampunker, Datamancer) detract from the DIY, homespun air to most steampunk websites?

JVS: Not at all! Being an individual artisan making unique items and selling them to the non-player characters is very much in line with my view of what makes a Steam Punk. I firmly believe that all artists should be able to make a living wage plying their art and the internet has given us the platform to do so.

However, if a corporation starts manufacturing steampunk keyboards in large quantities it's likely that the Steam Punks will eschew them even if fans of Steampunk buy them up by the hundreds. That's OK too, we love our fans and understand that not everyone would want or can afford a handmade keyboard.

I myself sell nothing, I consider my product to be the entertainment my website provides to my visitors. In fact, I will shortly be publishing a licensing notice on my site which will state that my designs are licensed under Creative Commons, Non-Commercial Attribution, Share-alike license with a commercial exception for individual artisans. That is to say people are welcome to make copies of my work and sell them as long as they credit me for the design and the profits are supporting an individual or family.
But to answer your question; the essence of Steampunk is the infusion of technology with romance.

: On that licensing, do you see any affinity in the philosophy of Creative Commons, NCA, "share" licenses and the "gentleman tinkerer" steampunk may be a throwback to? A techno-romantic idea, as I'm really not sure how well this is supported by history, that technology is simply an expression of an open scientific community, so all technology should be fundamentally open, non-proprietary to better facilitate the exchange of ideas. This notion of course flies in the face of the contemporary model for "product development". Key to this is whether this is simply romantic (or hyper intellectually liberal) thinking, or can we really point to steam-age precedent.

: Ah, it's a common mistake to think we care about what the past
was . We're much more interested in what it should have been and what the future can be. I like Cory Doctorow's "reputation economy" concept a lot and I see something of it in the way the current crop of Steampunk enthusiasts interact on the net. A "gentleman" would not outright copy someone else's work, if only because the
the community would recognize it and his cred would drop.

As for the real world, I feel that there should be some patent protection to give companies the incentive to be first to market with a new technology, but it should reflect typical product development times, nothing longer.

Ultimately, desktop fabrication
is going to eliminate much of manufacturing and then it will be only ideas that hold real value (see here and here). Recently an economist at Cambridge published a paper on optimal copyright length - his conclusion is that 14 years is optimal in term of economic benefit. That sounds about right to me.

: It seems like there's a sort of "whimsical utopian" vibe to Steampunk. Jake, you've mentioned elsewhere that in the Victorian era the "amateur" could significantly contribute to scientific and technological understanding. However, the Victorian era was marked by huge human suffering at the hands of industrialization. For example, the railroads in England cost something like 1-3 human lives per mile, factories routinely ruined worker's bodies, and coal smoke was a key factor in producing the infamous London "pea-souper" smogs. While this "dark side" to Steampunk's genealogy is acknowledged in the fiction, do the more "hands on" as opposed to storytelling steampunks acknowledge this, or do you yourself envision any acknowledgement of this in future steampunk projects?

: Well, what is wonderful and exciting when done as a hobby can really suck as a career. I'm currently working on a blast furnace project for melting aluminium, brass - and I hope - iron. This is going to be dirty and dangerous and because I'm only playing at it, fun as hell. But it will give me a peek into the life of a foundry worker of an earlier era.

I guess I am starting to make a real distinction between Steampunk as an aesthetic and genre of fiction and Steam Punk as a lifestyle. The utopian vibe you're referring to is indeed part of Steampunk, and its the source of the design aesthetic that we draw on when we craft our devices. But we Steam Punks are far more interested in the lives of those toiling in the factories and workshops of the 19th century then what went on in the manors of the high born and wealthy.

Our top hats are filthy and our goggles have cinders melted into the lenses.

: Pardon the coarseness of this followup, but isn't this a form of slumming? I'm trying to find a way to formulate this without sounding more flippant than I intend, but isn't this coming at the possibilities of techno-romanticism with the high mindedness of a Dr. Frankenstein, but one wanting to get grimy with Igor? Maybe it's not fair to push you along this line, and it should be saved for a rant. Still let's see where this goes. You personally are curious about the 'raw forces' at play in the foundry, so you're building this furnace project. Cool, and your colleagues or associates or friends will probably say "cool" too, but what I think Cod Peace is getting at is the material nostalgia represented by "brass and clockwork" vanity consumable ... stuff through which the owner can claim a removal from the ugliness of late capitalism and a contact or intamacy with an age when technology was more romantic ... without acknowledging the actual social ugliness of that era?

: Jake, could you elaborate on your conception of the "personal industrial revolution"? Does this include putting your children to work digging coal seams and your wife to work smelting iron ore? Actually, aside from the difficult work of coal and iron production, this reminds me somewhat of the people reviving ancient building techniques using clay/lime plasters, wattle-and-daub, and so forth, since well into the 1800's the average American (the vast majority of whom were not city dwellers) were capable of building their own shelter. With the export of the manufacturing sector and the cultural denigration of blue collar work over the last 30 years the average American these days can barely swing a hammer.

: There you two go with the
History again! ^_^ Really what we're discussing here is my phillosophy rather then what Steampunk actually is. But I delight in declaring my phillosophy Steampunk and if people agree then, well that how language evolves.

It's more about humanizing technology so that people are comfortable with it, understand it, embrace it, love it. The best way to do that is to start with the basic physics that most 19 Century tech directly exemplifies. Once you understand a light bulb, it's a short step to understanding a vacuum tube. Once you understand a vacuum tube it's a short step to the transistor, then the integrated circuit. Stir in the concept of binary logic and you have the basis for all digital tech. But you have to start with that electro'nic
(?) switch that was invented in the late 1800s.

Steampunk is as much about the future as it is about the past.

: Why doesn't steampunk involve more, well, actual steam, like
Crab Fu's projects

: I-Wei is brilliant isn't he!? I love his work. Well, I can tell you that it will [involve more steam] for me and that I think you will see more of it as the old time steam afficinados discover Steampunk. Can you imagine the elder statesmen of steam hobbies suddenly discovering they have young fans on the net? Many will not know how to take it, but a few will rise to the acclaim.

: What makes a band steampunk (e.g.
Abney Park )? Do they perform on steam calliopes?

: They are Steampunk because people said they were Steampunk and they decided that was cool and that they would be Steampunk with all their hearts. At least that's my take on it. You're asking a garage tinkerer for music critism? ;-)

: As I've thought about this interview, and my initial "steampunk is derived cyberpunk" opening line of questions, I keep coming back to J.F. Sebastian in
Bladerunner. You've got the quintessential man alienated by "futureshock capitalism", skilled to do a job in the "real world"; and at home: he tinkers these clockwork "friends". On the other end of the spectrum, you have the portrayal of Tesla in The Prestige (and lots of other speculative and alternative history fiction) who pretty much embodies the idea of the "technomancer" a literal magician of technology. His tragedy is a lot different from Sebastian's, his thinking and technological wonders could "utopianize" the world, if he wasn't thwarted by "the powers that be" usually represented by Edison, and so since we live in a world whose technology and intellectual property framework can be seen as more derived from Edison than Tesla, the Tesla tragedy is one for everyone. So I guess I have outlined here two "archetypes" for the Steampunk. On one hand there's J.F. Sebastian, a pathetic figure. On the other, you got Tesla, the tragic noble figure buried by more worldly men. Is this a a workable framework for Steampunks?

: Nah, the guy I think of is the Blade Runner merchant who "only does eyes." The individual craftsman trading in bio-tech in the back alley.

: Is there one (or two or three) technologies or industries you'd rather see produced or replaced by Steampunk craftsmanship? If so, could you discuss their implementation (either alt historical or in a contemporary "revolutionary" moment) and any socio-political-economic ramifications?

: Again we're crossing over from for Steampunk "proper" to my personal phillosophy, but so be it. Desktop fabricators are going to bring the downfall of mass production and will allow physical object to be developed by communities of enthusiast int the way that Open Source software is developed today. It will allow collaborative product design and personal customization of anything. It will be a return to the days whe you went to the local blacksmith or carpenter with a sketch of what you wanted and he would make it, often imbuing it with his own design aesthetics as well as your own.

: One might imagine Steampunkers going a bit overboard with the steam lifestyle and Victorian nostalgia. Or perhaps following in the footsteps of
two trapped Chinese coal miners, who survived by eating coal. Which brings me to the question, what's the tastiest type of coal: brown, bituminous, or anthracite?

: Anthracite is nice and crunchy and good for getting up a good head of steam, but you want that nice gooey bituminous stuff if you're going to do any serious forging of iron.

: If you keep heating steam you'll eventually create plasma once you hit a few million degrees. Do you think plasmapunk
is a viable future design style? If we heated you in a closed vessel to several million degrees could you make us a plasmapunk monitor?

: I think "Plasmapunk" is already used by the Hemogoths . <shudder>

: Let's say this steambath and steampunk teachin were assaulted by Daleks, because well they hate all forms of individual expression and I imagine the only thing a Dalek may hate more than a Steampunk is a Time Lord. How can you Steampunk your way out of such a scenario? Bonus points if this sandwich and my fishy collaborator survive too.

Cheesesteak's hypothesis becomes reality as a squad of steampunk Daleks burst into the bath, destruction of the artisan and his interlocutors at the top of their task list.

: Ex-ter-min-ate! Ex-ter-min-ate!

: (Grabbing the sandwich and reaching for the poached fish) Quick, this way, up the stairs!

: Hey, is Steampunk even a verb? NGGGGGGGGG!

(Hunkered nearby Cod's incinerated scales, Jake scarfs the Cheesesteak, opting internal carriage as the best way to protect the sandwich from the waste of Dalek destruction. Making his way to the bridge of his unleaded Zeppelin, he answers the Dalek fried fish final question): To paraphase Doc Brown "It's whatever you want it to be, Marty!"

Daleks fume, left behind in the hot mist by Jake as his Zeppelin debarks the bathhouse.

(Dalek image from

For further reading, issue 4 of Steampunk Magazine has just gone been released, including an open letter to Jake von Slatt and Datamancer.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Clinton Swings a Bit Too Wild?

Wow. I have seen such "pretty to think so" cynicism about "the way of it" since Rumsfeld stepped down and Cheney retreated (further) from the light of the public eye. Anyone thinking she's prematurely auditioning for a Zell Miller moment at the Republican Convention?

People backing Obama see themselves in fight. If nomiated, and elected, those people expect Obama to fight for the new politics he's envisioned. Clinton, among a crowd of supporters, may have thought she was just tossing a barb at Obama. But as phrased, she's not just attacking Obama, she's attacking the very idea of optimism and hope. There are ways of demanding more specifics on how Obama wants to enact "change" in America. This isn't one of them. To the minds of many outside of the old guard DLC Democratic party, this is a highly effective anti-Clinton ad courtesy of the Clinton campaign itself.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Someone Didn't Get This Message

Friday, February 22, 2008

Snow Day

So it seems a whole lotta stuff is just shutting down around Philadelphia. Apparently, contrary to Mr. Wahlberg's assertions in The Happening trailer, the administration does not in fact make the teachers teach when there’s a foot of snow no the ground. Rather the whole state acknowledges no one knows how to drive in bad weather anymore and makes harbingering the apocalypse an extra curricular activity.

We're getting a perfect hooky storm here in PA folks, a bit of snow last night and this morning, nothing now, but an oncoming rush of rain turning to ice and then more snow to complicate thing during what would be evening rush hour. Total anticipated accumulation about 4-8 inches from what I've been reading on In other words, things are pretty much ok here, but the ride home could be deadly so employers that value their employees' lives and school districts wanting to avoid lawsuits from their charges' parents are calling today a wash.

Things in Boston are getting nasty. Perhaps the Cod is in for another epic ride home.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Happening is Happening

SciFi Wire writes that M. Knight Shyamalan's new film is slated for a Friday the 13th, June 2008 release. Starring Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel, and shot in around Philly, last summer, looks to my eyes to be giving another take at what Shyamalan would likely call the metaphysical, theological or philosophical underpinnings of Signs. After Lady in the Water, let's hope he's got producers or editors willing to give him a frank assessment of his recently faltering, if not outright bloviating craft. The fact that the script went through one total rewrite after Shyamalan shopped it around as the The Green Effect may hint that Shyamalan may not have as free a reign as he had been rewarded with after the success of The Sixth Sense and Signs (and maybe the Hollywood powers that be are with me on liking Unbreakable). I think that may be a good thing in his case.

More to our concern, with this and Invincible, it's sure looking like Philly's stealing Mr. Wahlberg from his him hometown. Probably not worth a full round of points in our ongoing Boston vs. Philadelphia bragging rights battle, but like the Damon-Silverman Hollywood Affair, this poaching may garner something akin to a field goal or safety points.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Use that Cuba Libre to Wash Down a Cuban!

Well, if you're going to drink a Cuba Libre, you need something tasty to go along with it. Why not a Cuban sandwich, an invention of Cuban-Americans in south Florida?

To make: Take a loaf of Cuban bread. Slice about 8-10 inches in length, then cut lengthwise. Butter the crust a bit, add yellow mustard to the bread, and then layer on roast pork, glazed ham, Swiss cheese, and sliced dill pickles. Finally, toast and compress in an un-grooved sandwich press.

Now, kick back with your mixed drink, and enjoy Cuba's marginal moves towards a more free society.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Cuba Libre?

No idea whether Castro's bowing out of official power will make any difference in modern Cuba. After all, his brother and likely successor has been technically in charge for over a year now. Still, at least one half of Bostodelphia is always interested in an occasion for a celebratory beverage, so we'll recommend the Cuba Libre.

Rum drinks aren't the cheesesteak's specialty, but the Cuba Libre is easy, and easy on the palette to those who don't have the Impaler's stronger tastes. Basically we're just talking about a rum and coke with lime.

1 1/2-2 oz. rum, any kind.
up to 2 oz. lime juice

Half fill a highball or collins glass with ice, add lime juice, rum, fill remainder of glass with cola, and garnish with lime.

Now I know at least one cola bottler is making their coke with lime flavor. I won't recommend that shortcut, but I wouldn't stop you. In fact, I'd be curious how it goes. I also prefer fresh lime juice to the Rosie's stuff, which is really lime juice and sugar syrup. I'm ok with Rosie's in Margaritas and the like, but if the juice is being added to a sugary soda, I think you may be overdoing it.

Now according to Salvatore Calabrese, the Cuba Libre's creation coincided with the creation of Coca-Cola and the presence of U.S. troops in Cuba. His recipe then insists on white Bacardi rum and Coca-Cola. My other bartending manual, which I treat as more authoritative simply because it's more battered, isn't as specific and I'll follow its lead. On hand I only have a bottle of Bacardi and a bottle of Sailor Jerry. While historically of the Island, Bacardi's wikipedia entry casts them very much as a "rum maker in exile," so is probably the more appropriate. Who knows, maybe I'll mix both. Any case, my more trusted book says your rum's up to you.

Again, while your cola should "technically" be Coca Cola, there are so many smaller bottlers out there doing interesting, and corn syrup and caffeine free things with cola. Boylan's Natural Cane Cola is what I'd recommend if you can find it. For tonight, I found two bottles of cricket green tea cola in the refrigerator case of Potbelly Sandwich Works. Just had one bottle on it's lonesome: good, light, refreshing taste that stayed with you without any caffeine buzz or bite. Should make a good mix with the rum and lime flavors.

On the lime, besides my Rosie's ban, lately, I've been using a whole juiced lime in my drinks and have got nothing but praise. Could be the time of year has everyone craving a little more citrus, or simply the fact that limes in Philadelphia in winter just aren't as juicy as they would be other times of year. Whatever the case, while I'm more careful with more subtly balanced drinks, when a drink has called for more than an ounce of lime this time of year, I just juice the whole lime and add it to the drink, scooping the pulp into the shaker if it's a shaker drink. In this case, I think I'll let the juice, spirit, and cola stand without the pulp, though some of my recipes suggest tossing your rind into the glass as well.

(Incidentally, one of my "bartender's card decks" suggest just club soda for the libre. That would certainly make for a lighter, less sweet drink, but I don't know how the card deck's manufacturer got the cola brown color for its illustration.).

update: Coddy grills up a food pairing that completely slipped my mind.

Bostodelphia's Unaccountable Lost Week

Did you miss us?

It's been about a week since we last checked in from Bostodelphia HQ. Here's what we've been missing:

  • I, your friendly deadly sandwich, had an editing freak out which threw a wrench into our plans to deliver you Steampunk Mania last week. Fear not, it appears we've salvaged the work and are just tinkering up a revitalized Steampunk-a-go-go to be unveiled any moment now.
  • Coddy's been sick. It was expensive, he told you about that.
  • Ron Paul has significantly scaled back his campaign to protect his Congressional ass seat.
  • PA's governor may or may not have played the race card against the Obama campaign.
  • MA's governor lent some words to Obama's rhetorical arsenal, apparently in good faith as like minded people are sometime wont to do. Someone else wants you to think otherwise.
We'll cease belaboring our apology and stick with those five. Now for those of you still tuned into us, this is what we got coming:
  • The aforementioned Steampunk-a-go-go. Jake von Slatt. A Steampunk Monstrosity from the twisted mind of Dr. Cod Peace. And from me: a free associative think piece on all this hot air waltzing the waters to the Stooges. (Hopefully this week.)
  • Some thoughts from yours truly regarding Gov. Rendell's aforementioned hand, if he was even playing. (Mos' Def this week.)
  • Having seen it on opening night, I've been wanting to write on Cloverfield since it first came out. With Diary of the Dead in theaters this week, I'll probably be able to do so. (In a couple of days).
That's just what I can think of right now. We're back, and our more unstructured musing are too. First up though, who needs a drink? Have one.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

On Message

The $400 flu

Between doctor's visits and prescriptions, largely for things like inhalers so that we could continue to breath, the influenza virus that took down my whole family ended up costing me just under $400. Sure, I can draw on my FSA account, but it's still money out the door and the FSA account doesn't last forever.

It makes one wonder what our intrepid presidential candidates would do about sub-par insurance and high co-pays for those of us with at least half-decent health care. As Michael Moore pointed out in Sicko, we all think we have good health care until something big happens and then we discover how screwed we really are. I checked up on the Republicans first since, well, I wasn't expecting much.

First, the presumptive front-runner, John McCain. His prescription: more competition between health insurers and some other reform at the edges while claiming the whole system needs to change. Note: claiming you're a reformer while leaving the whole corrupt system in place is just lies, lies, lies.

Next, Mike Huckabee. His web page accurately notes: "The health care system in this country is irrevocably broken, in part because it is only a "health care" system, not a "health" system." and then goes on to dump on universal health care and provide nothing of substance other than more talk of free markets. Hey Republicans - I DON'T WANT health care competition between insurers, or to pick different hospitals based on which one treats a heart attack more cheaply, I just want to be able to go to my doctor when I'm sick and get needed medications without paying through the nose, and be able to do that regardless of employment status. Seriously, is this so complicated?

Finally, the Dems. Both Clinton & Obama have very similar plans.  Paul Krugman says so.  Both predict that they will lower premiums for the insured, but both maintain the current corrupt and inefficient insurance scam.

It's almost enough to make one want to learn the lyrics to 'O Canada.'  

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Romney Bails?

NY Times and other outlets are reporting that Romney is suspending his campaing.

Dang. Bostodelphia had a secret yearning for a Romney/Santorum ticket for the shear mockery potential.

Hang in there Ron Paul! You can out mad dog McCain! Ron Paul to St. Paul! Ron Paul to St. Paul! I want the center of Minnesota's urban core to be as unruly and contested as Chicago '68 was for the the Democrats! Load that blimp up with rocket fuel and take it to the moon!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Ash Wednesday Exchanged for Brimstone Rub Day?

Those of you with any contact with the Catholic Church may be aware that today was Ash Wednesday. Today, around Philadelphia at least, the observance seemed literally bolder.

I remember growing up Catholic in the Boston area, and on Ash Wednesday, the ashes applied to the forehead were "ashen", that is, grey. People were "marked" at the mass, and went about their day with the reminder of "ashes to ashes", etc. Always thought it was an interesting day in the Catholic calendar.

Today, in Philly and the surrounding area, the ash I'm seeing isn't grey, but a deep volcanic, pitch black. Is this how it's always been done in the Philly area? Has the Philadelphia diocese been using, or are now using a different sort of tree from the Boston area diocese. Has global warming affected the ash supply market?

Seriously, I'm curious about this.

The Steampunk Pressure Intensifies!

We know. You got a brief hit off the steam pipe after hearing the NPR piece.

Steampunk. You've breathed it, and the steam's gone through your ears.

And you want more.

And now you're here.

We got it for you. But we're going to let the pressure build just a wee bit yet. See, our gauge has got our greater depth interview with Herr von Slatt in the pipes but only in the green. We're not going to unleash it on your, our dear and perhaps our new readers, until we're past the red line and the gauge dial has shattered from the rattling monster it's been keeping tabs on. Then, and only then will come our steampunk torrent.

Stay tuned. Maybe we'll give you a little taste Friday. It'll be worth. There will be steam, there may be some blood, and absolutely there will be Daleks.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Super Tuesday Republican Primary Endorsement Reminder

Republicans: KEEP THIS GUY AND HIS ENTOURAGE THEATRE AROUND ALL THE WAY TO THE CONVENTION! I want to see V. for Vendetta guys and people in colonial tri-corners standing in the rafters of the Xcel Energy Center in downtown St. Paul. Oh come on! The conventions going to be in St. Paul! The Party needs at least a keynote from the one wizened prophet daring to speak the truth given the namesake. Send Paul to St. Paul!

Cheesesteak the Impaler Shifts to Barack Obama for Dem Primaries

To our knowledge, the flu-stricken Cod Peace is going to defiantly hold onto our endorsement of John Edwards all the way to his MA primary polling station today.

That said, I am taking my share of Bostodelphia's awesome endorsement power and swinging it to Obama. With Edwards bowed out, I believe Obama is the Democratic Party's last, best hope for change in American politics, a rallying figure for those who've felt disenfranchised by the Democratic Party and electoral politics in general over the course of the preceding political generation. And, yes, I'll insert the ubiquitous Black Eyed Peas fronted deluge of celebrity endorsements vid here:

While Senator Clinton has served the state of New York capably during her terms in office, to this sandwich the experience she touts strikes more of a political legacy which this country needs to shed. I am not speaking of her name per se. Rather, I find nothing in her record to really distinguish her from the rank and file of the Democratic Leadership Council who sapped the Democrats' progressive soul in exchange for industry-backed or bought electoral security. These are the people who gave us John Kerry instead of Howard Dean. This is the political calculation that stood by and did nothing while a President marched this country to war on false premises.

Obama is a move away from the DLC's philosophy of maintaining power regardless of how principles must be compromised to keep one's office. It's difficult to see exactly how much change an Obama presidency may bring contemporary politics; but this sandwich has faith that whatever can be ushered in will be an improvement over the current situation.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Influenza sucks

I highly recommend the annual flu shot, however, it does not guarantee protection as I have found out to my great dismay the last 4 days.

The worst part is being tortured by chills, so I throw on a sweatshirt, then the chills go away and I sweat through every bit of clothing. What fun.

New Debit Card Borrows Against 401k

This is almost too insane to be true, but unfortunately it is.

"The Reserve Solutions ReservePlus debit card lets employees borrow against their 401k plan by making withdrawals at ATMs, paying interest on the money withdrawn."

And just to confirm that this is not a prank, here's the actual corporate website. The above photo is one of someone (taken from the Res Sol website) who has not yet realized that buying that big-screen TV just torpedoed his retirement.

Sometimes reality is just too bizarre to allow for even a smidgeon of satire.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Everybody's 'Effin Matt Damon

This was on Jimmy Kimmel earlier in the week. Bostodelphia got clued into it via a post by Wesley Morris on's Movie Nation:

While Sarah Silverman's confessional vid is the first time Matt Damon has been directly named in the media as a party to infidelity, Wes may remember that this is not the first time the actor's been implicated in such a role. While it never made mention in Wes's own review of Eurotrip, to my mind one of the most memorable scenes in that flick is another musical confession on the part or Mr. Damon:

Coddy may want me to mention that both Mr. Damon and Ms. Silverman are Boston area hometown heroes. That may be, but since neither of them mention their roots in the vid, I don't think this qualifies as one of our "rounds" in the ongoing Boston vs. Philadelphia 2008 bout. I say that despite Boston's need to pull ahead on the bragging rights front. Really, the only thing Coddy's been able to dish out is a Mayor who can get elected?

Still, in the spirit of the pending Super Bowl floor wiping the Pats are about to perform with the Giants, perhaps we can rule that the "rounds" of the 2008 contest will be scored as "touchdowns" points wise, and local kids done good will warrant something akin to a field goal or maybe a safety.