A Rousing Introduction to the “Music ‘O Gears” by Laura Casteel

It’s easy to endure a four-mile traffic jam when you can plug in your iPhone, turn on your radio, and realize that at least you’re not combatting demon-possessed orphans or gin-crazed koalas. It’s also easy when you can hear anyone from The Cog is Dead to Adam Ant to Johnny Cash, and listen to your beat-up Honda sonically morph into the bridge of the airship Calpurnia. To paraphrase Poppy Meriwether: hello there, darlings, and welcome to The Clockwork Cabaret.

This weekly podcast, hosted by DJs Emmett Davenport and Lady Attercop, showcases what they call “music ‘o gears,” interspersed with comedic dialogue from the hosts and other characters; these include Poppy and Percy, a pair of sardonic automatons, along with occasional special guests. Think of it as A Prairie Home Companion with absinthe on its breath. Listeners may not always hear music typically described as steampunk, but that’s part of The Clockwork Cabaret’s appeal—each episode redefines the genre in its own unique way. Featured artists range from contemporary favorites of the steampunk community, such as Frenchy and the Punk, The Nathaniel Johnstone Band, and The Men That Will Not Be Blamed for Nothing, to icons of indie rock, swing, punk, broadway, and other genres from throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. In one playlist, you might hear the Andrews Sisters followed by Tom Waits or Asylum Street Spankers, while another might feature Eartha Kitt alongside The Decemberists and Hellblinki. Some selections also highlight lesser known artists with a flair for the macabre or anachronistic, an example being Eric McFadden’s deliciously dark cover of Britney Spears’ “Womanizer.” If a song has a gothic touch, reminds you of days gone by, or is just really interesting, chances are you might here it on The Clockwork Cabaret.

The podcast’s eclectic musical palette reflects the artistry of its “Darling DJ Duo.” A savvy entrepreneur, Emmett Davenport’s DJ career spans over fifteen years, and she currently operates the Victorian-themed Café Diem coffeehouse in Pittsboro, North Carolina. Lady Attercop illustrates the witty web comic Strange Fiction, and provides much of The Clockwork Cabaret’s promotional artwork. Together, they lend their tune-spinning skills to a variety of steampunk events, including the Clockwork Ball in the Triangle area of North Carolina, and the Mechanical Masquerade at DragonCon. They also work diligently to bring alternate history to the un-steamed masses through a number of other projects, including the upcoming Youtube series Lushington’s Lounge, the only how-to show to feature puppets drinking vintage cocktails.

In addition to their other talents, our hosts display their comedic chops through their on-air Clockwork Cabaret personae. Davenport is the eldest of the Davenport sisters, traveling the world aboard the airship Calpurnia and trying to avoid trouble from the villainous organization CLANNG. Her companion, the snidely mischievous, rum-guzzling criminal Attercop, hails from a swamp-dwelling family of ruffians with more siblings than there are atoms in the universe. The characters’ continuous storyline determines the theme of each episode’s playlist. For instance, a recent episode featured songs on the subjects of crime and punishment, as well as Attercop’s anxiety over her upcoming parole hearing, brought on by Davenport’s callous consumption of Attercop’s lawyer: a sack of potatoes named Betty Sackface.

Thanks to the efforts of these self-described “professional ladies” to stay true to themselves and refuse genre restrictions, The Clockwork Cabaret celebrates what might be the greatest attribute of the steampunk subculture: its accessibility. The humor never veers into the desert of pretentiousness (where even the cacti judge you), and the diversity of the music allows a broad audience to embrace their inner anachronist. The next time you’re feeling landlocked, don’t hesitate to grab a bottle of gin and hop aboard the Calpurnia—just ignore the koalas.  

The Anti-Flirt Club

n the early-1920s in Washington, D. C., a lady named Alice Reighly founded the Anti-Flirt Club — an organisation “composed of young women and girls who have been embarrassed by men in automobiles and on street corners,” and which aimed to protect such women from future embarrassment.

The club issued the following list of rules.

(Source: Shorpy, via P. Robbins; Image: The club’s “charter members” in 1923, via Wikimedia.)

  1. Don’t flirt: those who flirt in haste oft repent in leisure.
  2. Don’t accept rides from flirting motorists—they don’t invite you in to save you a walk.
  3. Don’t use your eyes for ogling—they were made for worthier purposes.
  4. Don’t go out with men you don’t know—they may be married, and you may be in for a hair-pulling match.
  5. Don’t wink—a flutter of one eye may cause a tear in the other.
  6. Don’t smile at flirtatious strangers—save them for people you know.
  7. Don’t annex all the men you can get—by flirting with many, you may lose out on the one.
  8. Don’t fall for the slick, dandified cake eater—the unpolished gold of a real man is worth more than the gloss of a lounge lizard.
  9. Don’t let elderly men with an eye to a flirtation pat you on the shoulder and take a fatherly interest in you. Those are usually the kind who want to forget they are fathers.
  10. Don’t ignore the man you are sure of while you flirt with another. When you return to the first one you may find him gone.

"Official" Drinking Game

Alright kids! And, by kids, I mean people of legal drinking age, you whippersnappers!  You asked for it… Here is the “official”Clockwork Cabaret Drinking Game. Never been tested. So, drink at your own risk. If you make modifications, feel free to let us know. Like our programming, our drinking habits are ever evolving.

The Rules of Steampunk Fight Club

The Rules of Steampunk Fight Club

as made up by Emmett & Mingan Davenport

  • 1st rule: You do not talk about STEAMPUNK FIGHT CLUB.
  • 2nd rule: You DO NOT  talk about STEAMPUNK FIGHT CLUB.
  • 3rd rule: If someone says 'tea time', goes limp or doffs cap, the fight is over.
  • 4th rule: Only two steampunks allowed to fight at a time... We're not barbarians.
  • 5th rule: Don't get blood on the boots, ladies & gents, they were expensive.
  • 6th rule: Please don't break my goggles, they're one of a kind (Because I made 'em myself).
  • 7th rule: No vest, no bracers than no fight (Ladies, this means you, too). Because, we're classy.
  • 8th rule: If this is your first night at STEAMPUNK FIGHT CLUB, you bring the snacks.   

The Constabulary of British Gentlemen's Lip Starch

This emotive imagining is brought to you by The Constabulary of British Gentlemen’s Lip Starch. Do emotions get the better of you? Do you find yourself lacking resolve?
The Constabulary of British Gentlemen has a few simple words for you: Keep a stiff upper lip! That’s right folks; a daily application of our patented Lip-Starch is all you need to fool the world into thinking you are a man of substance and character. Regardless of pain, tragedy or familial death, your expression will remain stern and emotionless whilst you quietly weep on the inside. Lip-Starch! You may never smile again.

The Clockwork Cabaret leaps from rooftop to rooftop in hot pursuit of that dastardly villain WCOM 103.5 LP Chapel Hill and Carrboro. But, not to worry, he only attacks on Wednesdays.

submitted by Simon Fiddlefield

[April 26, 2011]

The Workshop of Isolated Devoted Fans

Are you lacking the advice of a rogue financier?

With fictional sponsors in short supply, do you find yourself worrying where the next fictional dollar will come from?

The now resigned, but still bored at work, workshop of isolated devoted fan brings the following words for your consideration. Use them, loose them, laugh with them or at them, with naught else to occupy him, he’s gonna keep on writing them…in third person.

Are you troubled by tarantulas? Angered by arachnids? Do spiders plague your waking world?

If such terrors put a rustle in your bustle then we have the solution to free your undergarments from fear related quakes. Rid yourself of this condition and harden your disposition with our ingenious invention.

How is such a behavioral transformation possible?

Simply arm yourself with our patented appendage amputation shears and this simple erroneous mantra: “Spiders have eight legs, not six. That must surely be an insect!”

Now you can live a scream-free existence surrounded by swarms of your new found friends.

This marvel of modern mis-thinking is brought to you by Miss Muffet’s emporium of curds, whey and devilish devices. Now available by mail-order.

The Spring Ball has sprung with unfavorable speed and fervor. Despite your best efforts of interception, your ward has seen the invitation and there are simply no more excuses to be made. What terrible fate awaits her in that crowd of peering eyes and wandering hands!?

Fret not. Fear not. Simply send your chaste charge off with a delightful gift from Madam Chastity’s Boutique of Charming Accessories.

Try the Propriety Propensity Belt. This fashionable adornment will accentuate her petite waistline whilst simultaneously breaking the fingers of all who try to touch it.

When your charge arrives home early, which she will, this delectable decoration can be put to good use around the home. Merely place it upon your larder floor to protect your cheeses from ravenous rodents and dishonest servants.

Madam Chastity, protecting reputations and cheeses for over 30 years.

Are you a dejected poet with the blues?

Has the ability to rhyme a couplet deserted you(s)?

Why should you bow to the unruly, hard-to-ryhmey nature of words such as orange?

Simply turn such words into a sorrange!

Purchase a copy of our Dictionary of Questionable Authenticity and all your literary troubles will be over. The Dictionary of Questionable Authenticity contains over 100’000 words that are guaranteed not to be found in any other dictionary! This legendary lexicon is a ‘must have’ for all those that suffer poetic perplexity. Buy now and we’ll include an extra 200 blank pages so that additional words you ‘discover’ can be added at your convenience.

The Dictionary of Questionable Authenticity. Buy it now before stocks eborange!

As usual, this voyage into the shallow depths of creative attempt was brought to you, regardless of consent or contempt, and with much overuse use of rhyming intent, by Mr Simon Fiddlefield.

[January 1, 2011]

Klaude's Escape

I began to notice patterns at the institution, namely - the longer a patient had been interred and undergoing treatment the more tenebrous their connection to reality. I watched perfectly lucid, intelligent patients go from fluid and engaging conversations to being capable of little more than blowing bubbles in their spit. And what’s worse, I found myself going that direction. Last time I escaped, the crayon eating incident, Well - it wasn’t all faked insanity.

It would come in fits and starts - so I began in earnest to invent a way out during my periods away from the asylum. I always felt more lucid away from the asylum. I began smuggling back the necessary parts bit by bit beneath my corset and in the hollowed out soles of my boots. I was eventually able to build a workable, though small, plasma cutting torch.

There was no style or finesse to my escape plan - It was brutally simple. Literally. Once I’d simply torched through a few metal bars I was able to use them to bludgeon my way through the rest of the asylum security and walk out the front doors.

Of course, this was all for naught as a few days later we received a letter from my esteemed lawyer who managed to crack me out of the pokey for good by using the rather cheeky insanity plea - claiming I was too mentally unstable to function in an asylum and needed to be out among civilization. He mentioned the wheels of that argument were literally greased by an anonymous donor with the initials KoT.

Whomever this KoT may be - I heartily thank you.

- Klaude Davenport

[October 5, 2010]

Klaude Davenport's Modest Collection of Botched Inventions: Spring Funtime Adventure Edition

This weekend was glorious, wasn’t it?  I hope it was glorious wherever you were.  The sun was shining, the air was crisp.  If you stood still you could feel the sun warming your skin and a cool breeze tickling the back of your neck.  I had a lot of time to consider the beauty of the natural world this weekend.  I was stuck in a tree for most of it.

I got up early on Saturday morning and packed a picnic lunch.  The usual, egg and cress sandwiches, a thermos of iced mint tea, a brown paper bag of desiccated chocolate covered grasshoppers (originally when I typed these notes out for today’s Botched Inventions I typed grasshoppers.  I think that’s funny and I wanted to share it with you.)  Armed with my picnic hamper, blanket, book, ukulele, kite and water and sand powered phonograph, I set out for an adventure on my auto-velocipede.  I settled in a lovely patch of meadow through a thicket of trees, far off from civilization.  Everything was sweet and peaceful.  I read, I ate, I played the ukulele, I watched butterflies, I flew my kite while listening.  It was a perfect day.  Somehow I got the bee in my bonnet that I should climb up into one of the tall trees and play my ukulele in it’s branches.  That was…..unwise.

I climbed, branch over branch, digging my heels into the tree trunk and swinging myself up higher and higher, my trusty ukulele strapped to my back.  Higher and higher I climbed, further on into the inevitable, higher into my doom UNTIL, I felt my ukulele start to slip from my back.  I lurched forwards, gripping the tree with my legs and flailing at the ukulele.  I caught it in one hand, but as I did my knees slipped from around the tree and I started to fall backwards. I caught myself with one hand and pulled myself up another branch, determined to make it higher into that tree.  Until…I felt I could go no further.  I was caught on something.  I looked behind me and saw my bodice strings had become tangled around some lower branches, right were I’d almost fallen.  Dangit.  I climbed back down to try and untangle them and when I got there, found I’d caught my bodice strings again, on a higher branch.  I tried to loosen the strings on the lower branch, but they wouldn’t budge, so I climbed back up to the higher branch, worked my way around it and with a sickening snap Ifelt the branch give out beneath me and I felt for the briefest of moments until with a sudden jerk, I hung there, suspended in midair, dangling from my tangled bodice strings.

The sky was a beautiful blue, very striking against the flowering trees around me.  Birds were singing around me in the tree, full of beauty and various other things.  And in fact, one decided to give me a beautiful little present, right on the back of my leg.  Lovely.  I twirled there, slowly, for a few hours, sometimes I’d give a shout, hoping someone would find me.  After a while I gave up and started playing the ukulele, quickly running through my repertoire.  Then running through it again, this time slower.  I wrote four extraneous verses to Johnny Cash’s Flushed from the Bathroom of your Heart.  It wasn’t all bad really, I practiced tuvan throat singing, which I still can’t properly do, but I did wind up making some funny noises and scarring some squirrels so bad they fell out of the tree.  I used the tree to twirl around in tighter and tighter circles, you know the way you used to on swings when you were a kid?  Then I’d let go and let the strings untwirl until I made myself a little sick.  It was pretty great.

The sun started to set and I still hadn’t been rescued.  It’s not terribly unlike me to go out on an adventure and not show back up on board the Calpurnia until 10:45 the night of our radio show, so I had little hope of Emmett coming to look for me.  It was getting chilly and I didn’t have a wrap with me.  The sun set, the moon came up and the stars were twinkling in the sky high above me when I remembered my boot knife.  I scrambled and contorted myself, reaching around my back to the strings and sawing through them one by one, the whole time muttering about what a dummy I was.  Dumb Dumb Dumb Dumb Dummy.

The last string snapped on it’s own, and I tumbled down couple feet,  landing belly-first onto the next branch before I gradually picked my way down, out of the tree and back home to the airship.

This concludes Klaude’s modest collection of botched inventions:  Spring Funtime Adventure Edition!

Klaude Davenport's Botched Inventions...

Thanks to the latest in hybrid technology, this week’s show is brought to you from the creaking, mysteriously dripping vaults containing Klaude Davenport’s Botched Inventions, which thanks to their high degree of botchitude, can now be purchased at rock-bottom prices.

Firstly, Klaude Davenport’s Blunderbustle! Giving a new meaning to the term “rear flank”, these high explosive, high fashion accoutrements, first disarm the enemy romantically, then disarm them in actuality. Putting the boom in the zoom-a-boom-boom, it’s Klaude Davenport’s Blunderbustle!

Also from Klaude’s Kitchen, it’s the Pancake Milkshake! Fortified with moleculites, the Pancake Milkshake is delicious, nutritious, and slightly hallucinogenic. Now in blueberry, banana, and sentient.

As always, Klaude Davenport’s failures as an inventor and victories as an unintentional conceptual artist are brought to you by WCOM LP Chapel Hill & Carrboro, which thanks to Klaude, is now powered by the plutonium honey of the deadly ATOM-O-BEE! Buzz buzz kill!

[October 1, 2008]

Steampunk Pickup Lines

We had an episode for Valentine’s Day many years ago that was titled Clockwork Hearts. We sadly had technical difficulties that evening and lost the recording but lucky for you, I have just stumbled on the notes for our Steampunk Pickup Lines. Behold them in all their steamy glory!

- Is that a dual action oscillating PF24- 12 in your pocket or are you simply pleased to be making my acquaintance?

- My zeppelin or yours?

- Nice spats, care to join me in a violent invasion of Hamburg?

- I can see our entire future reflected in your goggles.

- Are those aethernaut jodphurs? Because, your caboose is out of this stratosphere!

- You make my heart go clunk clunk cachunk psssssht!

- Pardon me, madam, but I seem to be a little short on cash. Could we share a zeppelin home together?

- Excuse me, but could I have the number at which you accept Marconi-grams? Because, I seem to have lost mine.

- So tell me - how thorough shall I steep your tea in the morning?

- Is that a mechanical arm? It is? So what else is clockwork?

- Gadzooks, milady! Your bustle goes on for a fortnight!

- You know what they say - the bigger the clockwork squid army…

- Does it happen that your father is a sky pirate? Because, he must have stolen the stars to put in your eyes. AND I DEMAND HE RETURN THEM!

- Lovely ensemble. It would look better in a three foot pile of taffeta and whalebone upon my floor.

- Care to come up to my brownstone and have a look at my lithographs?

- Come home with me and I shall show you a WORLD OF TOMORROW!

- Get out of my dreams & get into my giant steam-powered mechanical spider walker.

- Did it hurt when you fell to earth from your airship?