Monday, October 5, 2009

Resident Evil 5 - Outtakes

I had gone the lycra route with the shirt, but after I received it, I wasn't that happy with it. I always screw myself when I think I'm saving money - I should learn by now.

With that said, I tried the shirt on again and did a little bit of original interpretation of the Chris Redfield character with it.

Looking at it once more, it really isn't too bad ... what do you think?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Resident Evil 5 - Chris Redfield

I walk past a Gamestop store every day to and from work. One day, they had a picture of this incredibly striking character for the Resident Evil 5 game. After a bit of research, I found out that the person I was seeing was Chris Redfield.

The game begins as Chris Redfield is deployed to Kijuju, Africa, to join Sheva Alomar and apprehend Ricardo Irving, who is attempting to sell a bio-organic weapon on the black market. Along the way, they witness a local being fed a parasite, which quickly takes control of his body, turning him into a Majini. From here on, almost all Kijuju locals seen by Chris and Sheva have been turned into Majini. While moving to the location of Irving's deal, Chris and Sheva find Alpha team dead, except Captain DeChant, who gives them a hard drive containing data about Irving before he dies.

As the duo progress, a friendly helicopter is downed, and all nearby BSAA units are ordered to go to the crash site. At the crash site, the duo is ambushed by Majini on motorcycles, but are then saved by Delta team. Among Delta team is Josh Stone, who gives Chris data from a hard drive that contains a picture of Jill Valentine, his old partner, who was presumed dead after a confrontation with Albert Wesker. Chris and Sheva continue, and eventually confront Irving. During this confrontation, a hooded figure arrives to aid Irving's escape. Irving leaves behind files which indicate that an oil field in the Marshlands, which was used to test out bio-organic weapons, is the deal location. The duo report this to headquarters, then attempts to regroup with Delta team. Upon arriving at the rendezvous point, they find that Delta team has also been defeated by a bio-organic weapon, but Sheva can't find Josh among them. After defeating the bio-weapon, Sheva suggests reporting back to HQ, being the two sole survivors, but Chris expresses an interest in finding out if Jill is still alive. They continue on to the Marshlands, eventually finding Josh alive, and when he asks what happened to the rest of Delta team, Sheva tells him, "We're the only three left". They pursue Irving on a boat, but he escapes again and the oil field is blown up while the two escape with Josh on a speedboat. The trio locate and catch up to Irving's boat, and Chris and Sheva board it. Irving confronts the duo, and then injects himself with a virus, which causes him to mutate into a gigantic beast. Chris and Sheva defeat the mutated Irving, who is detached from the gigantic beast body, and upon death, he tells Chris that he will find answers to his questions in a nearby cave.
The outfit itself was interesting - white, black and OD green shirt, carpenter-type jeans, black gloves, hiking boots, a harness of some sort and some other accouterments. Plus an automatic pistol and a tactical earpiece/microphone.

Sounded easy, right? I thought the only difficulty I'd have was the shirt. And you know how I love a challenge ...

I was wrong.

The Easy Pieces
I already had the hiking boots and I also had a pair of Hatch Specialist gloves. All I needed to do with them was to slice off the fingers. I found a perfect earpiece/microphone from a dollar store. The item was wired to fit into a phone, so again, out with a pair of scissors to finish it off. I also had a military web belt and a drop-leg holster from a previous costume.

Chris also appeared to have a cellphone on his belt. I found a great beat-up Nextel phone and a holder for it on eBay. Total price, including shipping - $7.50. Officer Redfield also appeared to have some round thingie on his belt loop. A carabiner compass took care of that. Ebay again, $3.00.

So far so good!

Chris also appeared to have some magazine pouches on his belt. Those I didn't have, and trying to legally get any type of firearms equipment in New York City is harder than finding hen's teeth. A number of my friends are police officers, so I crossed by fingers and called up one of my buddies.

"Hey Steve, do you have any spare Glock magazines?"

A pause. "What do you want magazines for? You don't have a gun ..."

I explained what I needed them for and he laughed. "I'm pretty sure we have a couple of damaged ones we were going to throw out. Those good enough?"

"Perfect! They only have to look good in a mag holder!"

"You need one of those too?"

You don't ask, you don't get. "I'm looking for something that I can tuck into a pair of pants or on a belt."

"We've got some old paddle ones we don't use any more. I'll bring that over with the mags."

The pants that the character was wearing looked to be carpenter jeans. "OK," I thought, "those should be easy." Well, yes and no. It was easy to find carpenter jeans. It was not easy to find carpenter jeans in a 28" waist. {28" waist? Yep. Well ... I fill a 28" slim jean fits quite well ... All those extra ab exercises - reverse crunches, side planks, regular crunches, etc. are paying off handsomely -- including (unfortunately) to my tailor!} Plus carpenter jeans are loose fit jeans - the character had snug ones. So, off I went to American Eagle outfitters. I bought two pair of jeans on sale. I brought them to a dry cleaner/tailor I know and showed him the pictures.

"Can you add some extra material to reinforce the knee area and make a pocket?"

"End of the week okay?"


The First (sort-of) Snag

The shirt patches posed somewhat of a problem. One patch each was being sold as part of a "Collector's Edition" of the Game for the Xbox-360. I did have some very high-resolution art for the patches and brought them to some local embroidery stores to get an estimate. They were quite cheap -- if I wanted to buy a hundred of them.


Ebay, as usual, came to the rescue. About a week after the game was released, the patches starting appearing on the auction sites. I did need to spend a little more than I had expected for the patches (one I got for $10, the other for $12), but still, the progress on this outfit was coming along quite well!

The Shirt

Now that the patches were had, off to the shirt. I thought of getting some UnderArmour compression shirts and having Andrea sew the black and white pieces onto an OD green base shirt, but -- she doesn't work in lycra. Then the lightbulb went off - David.

David of the "300" Spartan leather Speedo fame.

I gave him a call and explained what I wanted - not a problem!! As with all of David's work, the leather shirt is a work of art. The added bonus here was his comments as he was measuring me - "You've really developed nice big shoulders and a very trim waist!" We've also added a slight bit of padding around the shoulders and on the sleeves; ONE - it smoothes the leather out a bit and TWO - it makes getting in and out of the shirt a LOT easier. The sides of the shirt have the four-way stretch mesh and a hidden zipper.

A hidden zipper?

Well, when we were going through the fittings, in order to get the shirt as snug as possible, there was no way to get it off once it was pinned on! David had to cut it off me! These are the little bows to reality that doing a costume like this takes.

The Second Snag - The Harness

I would have thought that this would have been an easy item to find, but all the searches for "tactical vest" or "military vest" or "SWAT" or "MOLLE" didn't find me what I was looking for. I even came across a pair of military suspenders that were close, but no cigar.

Then I found something from K2 Scuba that was exactly what I was looking for. Perfect down to the connectors on the front. In speaking with both the owner Tevis and his incredibly talented sales rep Summer, I found out that the harness needed a backplate to go with it. After all, it is supposed to support an air tank! Nevertheless, a little bow to reality was in order. I was also pleasantly surprised when Summer and I were discussing what size harness I would need. After giving her the measurements, her response of "You're so buff!" was quite an ego-booster.

The "Big Knife"

Chris also appears to have a large Bowie or other type of knife on the harness on his shoulder. Looking at regular sites on the Internet, it came as a surprise that large knives aren't that popular. Swords are, but unless you're willing to spend a couple of hundred dollars (which I wasn't) there was none to be had. From some other screen captures of the game, it appeared that the "big knife" looked like some type of machete. But regular machetes are pretty big suckers, too - too big to wear on the harness.

So ... back to Ebay.
I found a "small machete" - about 16" long - which was perfect for the costume. Cost: about $40.

DOH!! and Necessity is the Mother of Invention

Now the hard part ... how to attach the scabbard to the harness/backpack? I thought ... magnets! Great idea! I got completely caught up with that idea and found some neodymium magnetic badge holders through a Google search. They were two-piece items -- one piece had adhesive on one side of a small metal plate, and the other piece had a metal plate with magnets. I figured I could attach the adhesive side on the leather scabbard.
After I placed the order, I smacked my head ... the backplate was aluminum! Summer and Tevis told me since it was for the costume, why go with steel? The aluminum plate is much lighter. True. But it's also non-magnetic.

Enter Sumo Glue. With this polyurethane glue, I was able to glue the plates holding the magnets to the aluminum backplate. The plain metal plates attached to the leather scabbard with the adhesive tape on them.

So ... what do you think?

Friday, July 31, 2009

Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps

An avid reader of the blog recently sent me a sample pic of Jake Gyllenhaal as the title character of the soon-to-be released movie, "The Prince of Persia".

This is a interesting challenge!

A cursory glance at the outfit indicates that this would probably involve:

  • Andrea - for the pants and the sash
  • Russ - for the necklace, bracelet and possible accoutrements on the belts and vambraces - His response? "Hell, yes!"
  • David - for the belts
  • Reg - for the boot toppers, boot straps and vambraces with hand covers

I'm intrigued by the detailing on the vambraces and belts. They look quite detailed and abstract.

Sort of reminds me of the Trojan armor worn by Eric Bana in Troy.

I can also see Russ going full-tilt on the necklaces. This is the type of thing that looks extremely simple, but closer examination would uncover amazing details.

Monday, July 6, 2009

This is SPARTA!!

I had a confluence of circumstances that created the "perfect storm" for doing the "300" shoot today ...

  • Day after the holiday
  • Nosy neighbors on both sides were either at work or not at home
  • Beautiful weather

So I set up the camera, and donned the armor, clasp and sandals from Joe, cape from Andrea, pendant from Russ and speedo and scabbard from David. After taking the shots, I think I probably should have done some more pushups and side planks before I started shooting, but nevertheless, I think they turned out well.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Renaissance Man

I have always subscribed to the fact that Russ Sharek - artisan and jeweler extraordinaire - was a man of many talents. From Green Lantern rings to "300" Mede-killer medallions to Feanorian cufflinks, there wasn't a thing I could throw at him that he couldn't do. And with an exactitude bordering on the transcendent.

What I didn't know was that his artistic repertoire was not limited to physical reality.

Russ was recently an exhibitor at the D Art Slam and showcased some of his digital illustration works.


The images are evocative, alluring and done with the same beautiful, artistic, refined and yes, rebellious energy that Russ brings to his other works of creation.

Bravo Russ.


The link to his portfolio is at

To move back in forth in the portfolio, use the navigation section to the right on his portfolio screen to move forwards and backwards in the collection. Russ will be offering the illustrations in limited-edition giclee prints as well as photographic reproductions.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Shield of Boromir

Good things come to those who wait ... and JJ came through with flying colors on the Boromir shield. As I mentioned before, we decided to use dish sleds since they were the almost perfect shape for the shield.

From the Weapons and Warfare book:

Like his sword, the shield that Boromir carried was of a singular design, so it would have been easily recognizable to his men when in combat. It's circular shape and simple design were reminiscent of a buckler, although it would have been too large to be worn on the arm when fighting two-handed. The wood frame had been dyed black and in its center was a large steel boss that was riveted to the back of the shield; fixed into the boss was a handle made of horn that was edged with bronze rings. Around the edge were engraved the wings and seven stars of Gondor's noble heritage. When not using it, Boromir would have carried the shield over his shoulder by using the finely tooled leather guige that was riveted to the boss and to the steel rim that ran around the edge of the shield, again secured by a number of rivets.

It was a solid piece of work that could have been wielded quickly and effectively; the curved, circular shield had no points that an enemy could catch on, so their blows would slide across and past the shield. When this happened, the attacker's forward momentum would unbalance him, allowing Boromir to bring his sword down upon his outthrust and exposed arm and neck. Whereas if the blow was light enough, the upraised shield would arrest the swing of the blow and Boromir could thrust his sword under his foe's shield and into his belly.

As always, JJ's attention to detail is amazing.The paint on the sled had to be chemically stripped as well as heated and chipped off. The center of the sled was cut out to make room for the boss:

The next piece of the shield was the brass ornamentation around the boss itself.

Next, the shield was covered in leather and the handle was fastened in the back. Now - how's this for detail? JJ called me up and mentioned that according to the book, the handle was made of horn. He actually had a piece of horn, but just wanted to make sure that I didn't mind if it was not exactly even. "Of course not!" I said. "Go for it!"

Finally, the steel edging of the shield was attached and a beautifully braided strap was attached to sling it over my shoulder.

Here's a closeup of the shield boss and ornamentation:

And here's the finished shield! Front and back.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Window on the West - Finale

I am the way into the city of woe.

I am the way to a forsaken people.

I am the way into eternal sorrow.

Sacred justice moved my Architect.

I was raised here by Divine Omnipotence
Primordial Love and Ultimate Intellect.

Only those elements Time cannot wear
were made before Me.

And beyond Time I stand.


(Dante - The Inferno)

As I was scanning through my blog, I noticed that all of a sudden, I had 23 comments on a particular posting. Now, while I'd LOVE to get this response on a regular basis, this did stick out like a sore thumb. It turned out that this was my "I've been cheated by Greg Podgorny" post.

Greg allegedly committed suicide on February 9th of this year. Here's the obituary.

I'm sure he's in Hell, and for me, it's only a question of whether he is in the Wood of Suicides of the Seventh Circle or lower down in the Eighth Circle in the Bolgia reserved for Thieves.

As an intellectual exercise, I talked to an Episcopal Bishop I've known for years and posited this question to him. He agreed with me that since he was ripping people off for a far longer time, he should be going further down the Infernal drainpipe - hence, to Circle Eight.

Now for those of you who have never read The Inferno - shame on you! Here is a much abridged description of the hotspots (pun intended) mentioned above:

Circle Seven - Middle Ring - The Wood of Suicides

This ring houses the violent.

In this ring are the suicides, who are transformed into gnarled thorny bushes and trees. They are torn at by the Harpies. Unique among the dead, the suicides will not be bodily resurrected after the Final Judgment, having given their bodies away through suicide. Instead they will maintain their bushy form, with their own corpses hanging from the limbs. Dante breaks a twig off one of the bushes and hears the tale of Pier delle Vigne, who committed suicide after falling out of favor with Emperor Frederick II.

Circle Eight - Bolgia Seven - Thieves

This Circle and the one below it (Number Nine - the really, really bad one housing Lucifer himself in the frozen lake of Cocytus) punish sins that involve conscious fraud or treachery. The circles can be reached only by descending a vast cliff, which Dante and Virgil do on the back of Geryon, a winged monster represented by Dante as having the face of an honest man and a serpentine body that ends in a scorpion-like stinger.

Thieves, guarded by the centaur (as Dante describes him) Cacus, are pursued and bitten by snakes and lizards. The snake bites make them undergo various transformations, with some resurrected after being turned to ashes, some mutating into new creatures, and still others exchanging natures with the reptiles, becoming lizards themselves that chase the other thieves in turn. Just as the thieves stole other people's substance in life, and because thievery is reptilian in its secrecy, the thieves' substance is eaten away by reptiles and their bodies are constantly stolen by other thieves.

Now, after Greg vanished off the face of the earth, and some decent soul told me he was back in North Carolina, I sent a letter to daddy George, the doctor. I was extremely nice. I indicated that I was a friend of Greg's, I knew he had moved back from California, wanted to know if he was okay and would he please give the letter to Greg. I never even asked about the $2000+ commission. I even included a SASE. I never received an answer.

I'm going to address some of the comments that were left on the original post:

I am a fiend of Greg's here in California and the one thing that I can tell you is that Greg got in over his head and never intended on stealing any money. I know that as a person he was smart, funny, helpful and would do anything for a friend. Obviously being known as a "thief" tore at him more than anyone of us will ever know. I am sorry that you weren't delivered what he promised but please forgive him and say a prayer for his family. Thank you.

Okay ... if he didn't want to be known as a 'thief', then why did he NEVER contact any of the people that commissioned work from him and explain his situation? I only got a phone number by accident after the move since it was on the UPS label of the partial commission he completed.

I feel bad for you folks, but you should be ashamed of yourself for posting his brother's contact information and website on here. What if your relative did something bad and someone posted YOUR personal information on a website and you received a flock of people trying to hold you accountable for something that another person did?

Three thoughts here:

ONE- Brother George's information is public knowledge.

TWO- I'm sure that a "flock" of people did contact brother George and he never responded to any of them. Greg and lawyer brother George shared an answering service. Wouldn't it have been the intelligent thing to do to grab Greg by the ear and say something to the effect, "I have YOUR customers calling ME because you ran out on them ... here are their numbers. Get on the phone and explain yourself!"

By the way, this factoid is from brother George's website: "George Podgorny, Jr., has been representing catastrophically injured clients since 1991. His cases have ranged from medical malpractice, pharmacy malpractice and motor vehicle accidents, to inadequate security and unfair and deceptive trade practice cases." Unfair and deceptive trade practice cases?? As the Church Lady would say ... "How Conveeeenient."

Three - I'm sure Mussolini's relatives felt the same way ...

Greg was a wonderful human being. He was kind, gentle, generous and full of imagination and light. When he left LA he left behind a 5,000 sq. ft. warehouse and was only able to take what he could fit into a trailer behind his truck. He used authentic antique anvils and tools to make his art. If you've ever moved, then you know what a mess it is. Try packing up a 5000 sq. ft warehouse in five days. How could he possibly deliver your goods when he had no where to even put on a blow torch?

You might of lost money, and it sounds as though you've got plenty to burn if you're spending it on discretionary items such as these. We lost a great friend and an artist; a true gift to humanity.

And now we have another "misstatement" ... when I spoke to Greg post-move, it was not a 5-day move and a trailer, but a Simon Legree-esque eviction that the landlord forced him in ONE day and what only he could fit in his truck. "Antique anvils" - interesting. I wonder if he used those on the set of armor that someone paid $10,500 for and never received...

I was also told by Greg DIRECTLY that since he was back at ECU and doing classes there, would I mind if my Faramir sword would be a class project he would demonstrate various techniques with. So much for not having a place to use a blowtorch.

And as far as these "discretionary items" - Greg wouldn't have had a business if myself and other folks who had "money to burn" didn't seek him out (and paid in full and in advance) for commissions which were never completed.

I find it absolutely mind-boggling that once someone has died, only the "good and wonderful" things are discussed about them. No longer being among the living is not an excuse for the sordid, wrong, dishonest, vicious, inconsiderate things you did in the past. Sainthood is not automatically conferred upon you when you breathe your last breath. That was YOU when you were alive and being dead doesn't change who were. Good OR bad.

I had a miserable experience with Greg. As many others did. I lost money. So did they. However, I was fortunate enough to be able to get around the theft and still accomplish what I wanted. I don't know if others cheated by him were so lucky. I truly hope they were. They were the victims here. Not Greg Podgorny.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Bling: Impossible

This doesn't occur to me often. Sometimes I buy something just because I want it. Price doesn't matter. The last time this happened was when I passed by a store on Lexington Avenue and I saw a tie in the window. It was a hand-painted pastel stripe over a silk damask background. And that was over 15 years ago. When I got my Amex statement at the end of the month, my jaw dropped open. But damn, it was worth it.

This time it was cufflinks. And this time, I had them commissioned. Maybe it's been a delayed reaction to 9/11, but for a while, I've been thinking about the way timbers or metal beams fall when a building is razed. It appears to be chaotic, but I think there is some underlying organization to the fall and placement of the debris field itself.

Of course, there's no one else I'd trust with such an undertaking other than Russ. This definitely falls into the skill category of:

We decided early on this was another one of those projects that would need his 3D fabrication technology, so we started work with some conceptual designs in CAD.

The first ones looked mightily impressive. However, the images I saw on the screen were not exactly what I had pictured in my head. They were more regular - still chaotic, but everything with nice sharp corners and edges. I asked him if he could do a version somewhat more jumbled, which of course he obligingly did.

When I saw what I thought I wanted, I was disappointed. Leave to Russ to know me better than myself - his original design with the sharp edges appealed more to me. I gave him the go-ahead to start. We also discussed changing the stone from amethyst to a deep green topaz - the type of stone that everybody assumes what an emerald should look like.

Fast-forward four months later ...

I hold the objects of my obsession in my hands and they are jaw-droppingly amazing. I can't believe that they are real. I wasn't kidding when I said "Bling:Impossible" - these beauties are the result of a set of five artisans - jewelers, fabricators, CAD draftsmen and laser welding experts - coming together to produce something that is reminiscent of some of M.C. Escher's perspective art combined with the beauty and delicacy of European crown jewels (think of some of the Faberge masterpieces brought forward in time and with clean modern lines).

When Russ made the Mede-Killer pendant for my '300' outfit, I jokingly said he needed a new nom de guerre - the Choodler - since he was "chewing over some ideas and doodling." The name brought with it overtones of super-villainy combined with madly demented industriousness.

Another nickname is more than well-deserved in this case - because of the sheer volume of art, craft, magick and incredible workmanship put into these pieces. I think this passage from The Silmarillion suits him quite well:

For Feanor, being come to his full might, was filled with a new thought ... then he began a long and secret labour, and he summoned all his lore, and his power, and his subtle skill; and in the end of all he made the Silmarils...

As three great jewels they were in form ... Like the crystal of diamonds it appeared yet was more strong than adamant ... that crystal was ... the house of it's inner fire, that is within it and yet in all parts of it, and is its life ... the Silmarils of their own radiance shone like the stars of Varda; ... they rejoiced in light and received it and gave it back in hues more marvelous than before.

We also had decided that given the scope of this endeavor, we needed to do some "rock star" type of shots to showcase the cufflinks and the amazing detail put into them. Many thanks to Don West for modeling and Randy "Captain Smashy" Hearne for doing the photoshoot.

I'd like to speak more on the process and setup for these links, but I will let the master expound upon it on his site.

In closing, I can only think of one word to sum up this incredible, Feanorian work of art: