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Awakening the Dark Side

Repilica Prop Darth Vader Lightsaber

Tickets for Star Wars: The Force Awakens went on sale yesterday, so I thought it was time to build my Darth Vader lightsaber prop replica.

The original prop is built from a MPP flash but they are rare and expensive so I substituted the similar Heiland flash as the base for this build. The T-tracks forming the grips are attached with double-sided tape after experimenting unsuccessfully with Super Glue.

A replica MPP shroud and clamp from WannaWanga and The Custom Saber Shop respectively created the basic look and feel of the original Star Wars prop. I still require a replacement bulb release to complete it to my satisfaction but it looks great sitting next to my Luke Skywalker lightsaber.

There are several companies selling good quality replica props but it is immensely more fulfilling to build one yourself like a true Jedi.

May the Force be with you always.

Darth Vader Lightsaber

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Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride 2015 (Newcastle Australia) from Steve Madsen on Vimeo.

Across the world over 37000 motorcyclists dressed in their most dapper threads ventured out on a (hopefully) sunny Sunday morning in September to raise funds for Prostate Cancer Research. The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride founded in Sydney Australia three years ago has grown quickly to raise over US$2000000 worldwide in 2015.

In Newcastle, grey skies and light drizzly rain enveloped us as we gathered at Cafe Inu for our ride along the coastal splendor of Australia’s best kept secret. Undeterred we pressed out into the gloom on some very fine motorcycles, and rain greeted us as we headed towards the harbour. The light rain was no match for my Scottish Tweed jacket, and I arrived damp but warm at our first stop in King Edward Park.

The sun reappeared for the final legs and by the time we returned to Cafe Inu most riders were dry and ready for lunch and a couple of quiet drinks with friends new and old.

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Winter Sunshine

We walk along the Newcastle foreshore almost every day, and always find new or interesting things to see somewhere along the journey. On this warm August afternoon I stopped to record the serene beauty of Nobbys Beach.

Winter Sunshine from Steve Madsen on Vimeo.

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Ireland: The Gathering (A new magazine)

Cliffs of Mohr, Ireland

In October 2013, Colleen and I travelled to Ireland and joined a wonderful Rick Steves tour group for a two week trip around the coast. After the tour, we headed back across the country to Ballyshannon and stayed in Colleen’s ancestral home, Cavangarden House, now a Bed and Breakfast.

Today I released my magazine Ireland: The Gathering on Blurb documented our experiences, and accompanied by my photographs. You can purchase it direct from Blurb for US$14.99 plus shipping. A free ebook version is now available.

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A short time lapse video of the evening rush on Newcastle harbour.

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A good decision – the first step to a new life

The author at work.I wrote this article about my decision to leave full-time work in the Air Force for the ABC Open’s 500 Word project.

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Life without Him – Twitter Fiction

Military TrunkI wrote the following twitter fiction (less than 140 characters) for a Future Learn challenge:

Six months to find strength to open the case. A moment to see his uniform cradling a gift for a new son. A lifetime to remember.

 

 

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Leather Belt Pouch

Leather Pouch1

My son has a set of mini-cables he carries for work and wanted a small leather pouch to carry them on his belt. So I pulled out the sewing machine and fashioned the little pouch you see in the photo.

It’s a little rough around the edges but I kind of like the rough-made aesthetic, and it fits with the pen case I made him a few months ago. Making something useful from leather scraps, a couple of clasps and thread from Colleen’s sewing drawer is very satisfying even if it looks a little rough.

By making a few simple items I have opened myself up to many more possibilities when I have a need for something. My first instinct is to make it or re-purpose something I already have into a new use. It saves us money, and it just feels good to make a thing rather than buy it.

Leather Pouch2

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A Letter from the Front (Historical Fiction)

 

Photographs of the Third Australian General Hospital at Lemnos, Egypt & Brighton (Eng.) / taken by A. W. Savage 1915-17

I wrote the following fictional letter for a guerrilla publishing campaign but I missed the deadline so instead I am releasing it here. I have written the letter in the voice of an Australian nurse serving on the Western Front as the Armistice takes effect on 11 November 1918.

The basic facts are true, and based on my research into an Australian soldier who died on 25 April 1915. The thoughts and impressions expressed in the letter are 100 percent an invention of my imagination, and in no way reflect the memories of any person alive or dead.My Dearest Mother

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Who will you remember on ANZAC Day?

PoppyANZAC Day is next Saturday, and as the 100th Anniversary of that murderous day approaches the feeding frenzy is sickening. On one side is a parade of sanctioned and tawdry marketing campaigns using the anniversary to further their business success. On the other side is a cadre of journalists, historians and citizens shouting at business and the Government to stop using the memory of ANZAC as a marketing brand for commercial and political success.

So for just one moment, step back and consider this simple question:

Who will you remember on ANZAC Day?

For some families the answer is simple, a great grandfather, uncle or a distant relative in their family tree who served during the Great War. But many Australians, like me, have no direct link to the soldiers, airman and sailors of the First World War. So did a little research and decided I would pause to remember a soldier who originated from the Hunter region.

On ANZAC Day I will remember Port Stephens soldier, Private George Alfred Rush 1045, 9th Battalion AIF. George Rush landed  at ANZAC Cove on 25 April 1915, and was last seen in the firing line at 2pm and is listed as killed in action later that day. He has no known grave. His brother Cecil landed the same day, and was wounded but survived the war being wounded on three subsequent occasions and awarded the Croix de Guerre for his service. Their sister, Edith, enlisted on 26 April 1915 and served as a nurse throughout the war.

Find a name on your local Shrine of Remembrance or search the National Archives for a soldier or nurse who hailed from your town or suburb, and pause for a minute on ANZAC Day to remember him or her.