EDI Cosplay from Phoenix Comicon

EDI cosplay Mass Effect 3

Check out Reborn Flame's sweet picture of Mass Effect cosplayers - I think the EDI one is pretty impressive! I think EDI was attending the Phoenix Comicon. What do you reckon, is there any better EDI cosplayers out there in cosplay land?

Those other two dudes are all right as well I guess ;)

Outside is America....


bono u2 american flag jacket
Outside is America

10 U2 songs that reflect on American culture and politics

U2 are no strangers to having a say on America, it's people and it's politics. In fact, making political commentary is almost second nature to Bono, if he's not singing about troubles in Ireland, he's trying to convince someone like George Bush Jnr to reduce the debt owed to America by third world countries.

U2 toured America many times early in their career and appear to have fallen under it's spell - so it's surprise really that Bono has chosen to write about what he's seen and heard. Here's a selection of 10 U2 songs that feature some form of comment or celebration of the one of the world's most dynamic countries.

Angel of Harlem

A song about singer Billie Holiday, Bono was trying to throw the kitchen sink at this song, referencing all kinds of musical figures related to the city of New York - even a poular radio station was mentioned!

U2 appeared to be trying to 'get into' the blues on Rattle on Hum - this song was a clear step in that musical genre and the dropping in of names from artists that helped shape it were an attempt to give an air of authenticity. A less cynical reader might simply see the lyrics of Angel of Harlem as a celebration of the city.

The Saints Are Coming

While not written by U2 or Green Day (it was a cover of The Skids' song), The Saints Are Coming is a song both bands recorded together to deliver a blunt political message about the U.S. Government's response to Hurricane Katrina which many felt was negligent and that the Bush administration was "Stuck on Stupid".

The promotional video deliberately played on popular feelings of utter disbelief and dismay at the way the U.S. government had responded to the event.

Bullet the Blue Sky

Perhaps the archetype political song by U2 (arguably Sunday Bloody Sunday could take that role too) the lyrics describes the unintended consequences of US President Ronald Reagan's foreign policy decisions in South America. The song lyrics are a overt criticisms of the American policy of "stop communism at all costs". Such policy lead the Reagan Administration to provide financial and political support to the Salvadoran regime which required them to ignoring that regime's abuse of human rights. 


Is it really any surprise that U2 ended up writing a song about New York? Bono has stated that the song is a tribute of sorts to both Frank Sinatra and Lou Reed.

The Play Boy Mansion

The Play Boy Mansion is possibly a symbol of all that is wrong with America - however Hugh Hefner is as popular as ever. The songs lyrics are perhaps a tounge-in-cheek run down of some American icons. Certainly Bono would not be deliberately suggesting the route to happiness is a visit to Hefner's pad. Or is he?

Elvis Ate America and Elvis Presley And America

Two for the money here - U2 have often sang about Elvis - and these songs were a celebration of the man and his legacy on music. The lyrics that 'Elvis would have been a sissy without Johnny Cash' was a great piece of commentary - the use of the line 'white nigger' was a brave move.... did Chuck D approve?

Zooropa

Many of the verse lyrics are borrowed from the slogans of American companies and corporations. These slogans include "Be all that you can be" from the United States Army), "Fly the friendly skies" from airline United Airlines), Colgate's "Ring of confidence (the lyric being "We've got that ring of confidence"), and Fairy's "Mild green Fairy liquid" (the line being "We're mild and green and squeaky clean").

This could be simply viewed some kind of meta commentary on American consumerism (admittedly the song has slogans from other European countries) and perhaps hints at some kind of moral confusion where the morals of a society may be dictated by the corporate dollar spend on advertising.

Pride (In the Name of Love)

Pride has become an international anthem for peace, freedom and human rights. It's inspiration was civil rights movement in the United States in the 1950s and '60s. The song is a celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. who has become the symbol for equal rights in America for all persons.

Seconds

While the lyrics are a loose story of a terrorist trying to arm a bomb and perhaps set it off, the context for the song is that it was written by Bono in the 80s, a time where the Cold War between the USSR and America had reached an all time freezing point in relations (save for the Cuban missile crisis!). The song evokes the fears that people had that this Cold War could potentially lead to nuclear war and the own kind of cold winter that would bring.

That's just a taste of songs that U2 have used to make a comment on America. There's almost a duplicity to U2 in this regard - they tour America and revel in its people and then at the same time they make sharp criticsm of their leaders, their institutions and Coke but take the ticket sales and sponsorship opportunites that come along.

I trust U2 fans are in on it but it might be hard to tell in a country where many people think Bruce Springsteen's Born in the USA is a patriotic song.....

Check out the lyrics to A Song for Someone from U2's Songs of Innocence

Three cheers for Electric Sandpaper!

preparations for the chest restoration

Three cheers for electric sandpaper or how I restored this chest of drawers aka The Manrobe

So the wife spied this manrobe on Trade Me and I thought, hell yeah, that'll do me. The bed in the spare room doesn't need to have ALL my clothes on it any more.... and after I restored this desk last year, how hard could it be?

So what's up first, what's the trick to making these drawers worthy of being a home to my Transformers T Shirt collection?

The first tip is too look for any loose joins or cracks and glue them up. PVA was the glue of choice for wood working when I was at school so that's what I'll use know. You'll note at the left of the picture a clamp to hold everything in place as the wood dries. A handy hint is to use a soft rubber mallet to knock the joins back in together (if it's apt). I find it's best to leave any glued bits to dry for 24 hours to give the glue enough time to dry. Which I did. Kind of, when it suited.

I then removed the door of the manrobe and the top of it too which revealed a hidden space for money, drugs and knives....

The next step in restoring this set of drawers was the longest and tough part. Sanding off the stain. So three cheers for electric sand paper. Start the process with a very course grit sandpaper. I used 60 and it ripped the stain off in no time. When using the sander, be deliberate with your strokes, don't put too much downwards pressure on the sander and keep the strokes in the same direction, going with the grain. Did you hear me cowboy? Go with the grain!!!

Next up is cleaning off the sand dust. Get a hearth brush and wipe it off. You could even think about using a damp towel to get the last of it off.

Then you have to repeat the above with a more fine sandpaper grit. I used 150.

I then dragged the heavy fucker out of the man shed and washed it all off with the hose and gave the drawers a damn good clean while I was at it. You know, to get rid of the old man smell....

Then you have to repeat the above with a more fine sandpaper grit. I used 180.

manrobe restoration sanded chest

All that took me an age to do. But to paraphrase Jim Steinman, it rung out beautifully.

Now for the staining. This can be some tricky shit. What colour to you want? Dark or light? Do you want all the marks and everything to be covered up? Do you want all the different bits of wood to match? Do you want a variegated cacophony of wood to be on display? These punk, are the questions you gotta ask yourself. Well do ya punk, do you want the dark mahogany stain like I went for? Well do ya?

Remember that secret lid I talked about where your cocaine and knives can go? This manrobe had a nice, light stain on the inside - I had some Kauri stain left over from another project so I gave it a nice spruce up. You can see from the picture to the left that it came up a pretty sweet shade.

If it's one thing I have learnt while staining wooden furniture it's this and I believe it's bloody good advice:

Check your work! 

Check that you haven't put too much stain on. Gravity is a bitch and the stain can run down the side of your piece and make a right mess. Make sure you get the excess off with the brush - some brands of stain recommend using a cloth but I reckon that risks getting cotton or what not stuck in the finish.

After you've done the staining, give it half an hour and then check your work for runs, messes and misses.

In this particular case I did just that and caught a few drips here and there. I used a sharp cardboard knife cutter to scrape or cut the stain drips or 'clumps' off. I carefully then re-stained those areas. It's a pain in the ass but totally worth it.

Indeed, I was pretty risk adverse about the stain running so the door of the manrobe was placed on the work bench, all nice an flat so there was no chance of it getting messed up:


Once the first coat had dried for 24 hours, it was time for a second coat of dark mahogany stain. When that was all done, I was on the home stretch of this restoration project. I put the door on, and the flip up top, put the drawers all back in and I was done. Mission accomplished with a restored manrobe to be proud of:

restored manrobe dresser with stain

manrobe dresser restoration stain

Life according to Keef


Life according to Keef 

My brother and I managed to give each other the same gift for Christmas, Keith Richard's autobiography, Life.

It took me till this month to start the novel but when I did, it was compulsory bus trip to work reading material. The book starts with an amusing annecdote of how the Stones were arrested on suspicion of using drugs which basically sets the scene for the whole of the book. Keith's life is a wild ride of drugs, women and cars.

life by keith richards
Keef, as Richards signs his letters had an interesting childhood but frankly when I'm reading biographies of rock stars (like Slash's), I don't really care if they were bullied, their dad was a drunk or they had to walk 50 miles in the snow to get to school without shoes. I just want to hear how the band got together, how the hits were written, what happened on the tours and whether Marianne Faithful really did naughty things to a Mars bar (she didn't).

The formation period of the Stones is a very cool section of the book. The short version is they paid their dues by gigging all day and night, everyday.

Keith was also a musical magpie who learned everything he could from everyone - which totally reminded me of Bob Dylan's modus operandi as seen in the Martin Scorsese documentary, No Direction Home.

The book is full of great little nuggets of rock n roll history but the things I really enjoyed where seemingly random stories such as how he thought John Lennon was a lightweight when it came to his drug taking and the fact Lennon often ended up puking somewhere as a result.

At the heart of the Rolling Stones is the relationship between Keith and Mick Jagger. In this story Keith bares all on Mick. His love and disrespect for the man. While it's clear that Mick has saved Keith's ass more time from jail and drugs than Keith probably admits, he quite confidently calls him out for fucking too many chicks, pretending he was the leaders of the band and arranging solo album deals on the side without letting the band know. Sounds like they were / are as fractured as those boys from Oasis.

Life is a fine read, any fan of the Stones and their music would get a lot out of it.

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