Friday, March 30, 2012
I haven't posted any Metallica in a long time and frankly, there couldn't be a more relevant piece of music to fit with this week's crazy events following the FanFest debacle. Crank it up and enjoy!
Thursday, March 29, 2012
And so it was that yesterday the ominous CCP BanHammer struck a blow to punish The Mittani for his drunken slip-up at FanFest during the Alliance Panel. While I was never a Goon and I didn't vote for Mittens, I find this whole drama-bomb really sad on a few levels. It's never been a huge secret that EVE Online attracts some of the meanest Internet trolls just because of its nature. You think that Something Awful denizens are the only ones to do "bad things" in EVE? Goons at least have a game plan and play the big game of space politics and conquest; some other corps and alliances do nothing but wardec noobs just to hear 'em cry. But I digress.
The sad things about The Mittani's ban from EVE and his eviction from the CSM7:
- Suddenly over ten thousand voters are without a representative. With all the stuff that got done during CSM6's tenure, you can bet your nuts/ovaries that Mitten's voters aren't Goonswarm only. Regardless of what he said or did, scrapping the chairman is tantamount to scrapping the entire CSM. Do I believe that the election should be rerun? Yes I do. Will it be? Probably not.
- The Alliance Panel as you know and love it is now a thing of the past. Let's shoot a bit wider: alcohol consumption during FanFest as you know it may be a thing of the past. Or at the very least, if CCP wants to entertain some serious business partners like, I don't know, Sony for example, Make sure they don't make decisions based on the actions of a couple thousand drunken Space Nerds. I'm not blaming alcohol for what Mittens said but I'm sure as hell it didn't help.
- One notorious clusterfuck of a coallition is now pissed off. This is a two-sided edged sword: if you want to play EVE to blow shit up, meet a bunch of crazies and have a huge laugh, this is the perfect time to play. If you want to play the game seriously with your industrial stuff, your P.I., or just your plain "minding your own business", You WILL have your game wrecked. Especially if you're among the thousands living in and around the shit-hole called Jita.
So as I've said a few times, even though I don't actually play the game anymore, EVE drama is still some of the best entertainment to be found anywhere on them Internets. I just didn't expect the drama bomb to be this big and this quick after leaving. I'll keep my eyes and ears peeled for more drama nukes to blow up.
To hell with flying safe !!!
Monday, March 26, 2012
You have got to be kidding me. Once again all the shit hits all the fans two weeks after I go on long-term leave. My buddy Pascal was right: EVE is more fun to talk about than to actually play! I'll let some water go under the bridge before I write a longer post about this cuz I need to cogitate a bit more.
To Mittens, I don't know if you'll read this but what the fuck. Yes you said something bad but I blame it more on EVE's "we're allowed to be bad so fuck you" mentality. And I must say that frankly I've heard things just as bad if not worse. But your apology is heart-felt and sincere so you're well on the way to redemption. Do I think you need to resign? OH HELL NO GODDAMMIT! You Alex Mittens Sir have done more with one CSM than all other CSM's combined. Your leadership has been proven and God knows this game needs it.
Let's see whether this slowly fizzles out, or turns into Summer of Rage #2.
Friday, March 23, 2012
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
After two weeks of anticipation and practicing on my own as time permitted (which wasn't as much as I wanted), we finally got the drumline together for the first official practice of the Wishmaster 2012 fundraiser show. We played on practice pads, cross-sticks for the cymbals and the snare line on 2" x 8" wooden beams but do not let the lack of actual instruments deceive you; despite doing this for fun (and the kids of course) and having no intention of becoming a competition drumline, the Wishmaster line-up is boss!
I was welcomed very positively in the gang with one of my cymbal line mates telling me "What the hell are you doing on cymbals?!". I did mention my unknown status and the lack of space on either the snare or bass lines. Even though I'm not the same caliber of this snare line (again, we are STACKED), I did prove that I wasn't exactly a slouch when it came to sticking; I was the only cymbal player able to play the entire snare line warm-up. Without wanting to boast too much, it's already clear that I will be the pillar of the cymbal line. I even put an exclamation point on this as the practice came to an end; one of the snare girls played one last lick at full power on our table, and I replied by replicating her lick note for note much to her surprise, after which she told me "Hey! That's my job!". I was a great moment that loudly said "welcome to the family" :)
But the drumline practice wasn't the only great thing yesterday. These days Montreal is having a quite unnatural heat wave and for the first time ever I was able to ride my bike in shorts and a T-shirt on the first day of spring! We aren't just destroying temperature records up here, we are writing a new book! Temps are supposed to be coming back closer to normal as the weekend approaches but still, I never would have believed that I would be able to ride my bike so early and so comfortably, except maybe for my ass that needs the early season hardening XD
So all in all yesterday was a totally awesome day, and I can't wait for the next practice. This will get more and more awesome after each practice, I can only imagine what it will be like when we have instruments to play on. By the way, if you know anybody who works at a marching drum company, tell 'em that me and my 20-ish buddies will be more than glad to show off their equipment :)
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
After a few long months of being cooped up inside - well not really because I walk 5 to 10 km every day - spring is finally here and this time around it feels more like spring took a year off and summer is already here as we're already getting temps in the low 20's (Celsius obviously XD) and the little snow we had this year is pretty much all gone. To those who think global warming is just a hoax, you clearly don't go outside a lot!
So what does the arrival of spring mean? Bike preps! I've already pumped up my tires and went on a short ride last week but this week will be time to bring my bike to the shop and have it pampered, greased up and fine tuned from A to Z. A new chain might be in order because not only did I put a lot of clicks on it last year, I should be doubling my mileage this summer. I also need to get some spare parts and stuff I will need on the lengthy rides I intend to take; whether or not I do the 2-week 550 km ride is a bit up in the air with the drumline project arriving at crunch time at about the same moment, but in any case there is no way I would attempt such a ride without having tested my gear. So all over the summer there will be a few weekend outings to various destinations around Montreal. Here are a few ideas of where I want to ride:
St-Charles-sur-le-Richelieu: Located about 50 km from downtown Montreal (65 km from my place), this town actually offers two destinations for me. The first and most important is the camping grounds where my dad lives during the summer; it's pretty hard to go wrong when you get free camping and free beer at the end of a good ride! I may actually go a few times as this will be the perfect spot to test the travel gear. The other destination would be another camping ground located on the shore of the Richelieu river along a road called "Le Chemin des Patriotes". This would be the "Hello, I'm a stranger" test. The little towns on the river are really nice and should I want to come back from the other shore there are a few ferries with frequent crossings.
Val-David: Located about two thirds of the way between Montreal and Mont-Tremblant, Val-David is another sports meccha with 3 ski hills, a national park for both hiking and mountain climbing (one of my buddies is starting his Everest training here; yes, I said Everest), and a good place for canoeing/kayaking on the Rivière du Nord. I've known this place for a long time because this is where I learned to ski, and throughout my youth I've been there countless times. And it's beautiful! Nestled in the middle of the Laurentians, this destination is clearly for mountain road training. Sure getting there is fairly easy with the relatively flat "P'tit Train du Nord" bike path, but perfect trails like that are few and far between. And the farther I want to go, the more I'll have to use whatever roads I can find.
Montreal's North Shore: The small towns and places to visit along Route 138, also known as Le Chemin du Roy, are too numerous to mention. But one place is much more special than any other. In the town of Berthierville is a museum dedicated to the memory of one of my heroes, F1 legend Gilles Villeneuve. For some obscure reason I have never been there but a weekend camping trip could fix that fairly easily. Of course one could get really crazy with Route 138 as it is over 1200 kilometers long, with some of the most awesome scenery to be seen in Québec.
So yeah, before I attack a big bike expedition I have plenty of closer destinations to test my mettle. I'm praying really hard to my personal gods (Hendrix, Villeneuve, Burton, Zappa and Richard) to have some good weather on the weekend of Easter because I have both the Friday and Monday off, and my boys will be with their mom so I'll be free to do whatever I want and go wherever I want to. I may not quite have all the stuff I need to go really far - still lacking the BOB trailer - but I find that heading out "sort of" prepared is way more fun than when you put too much planning behind it. But if the weather is nice enough I'll throw a dart at a map and head in the general direction of where the dart landed. Should be a fun weekend :)
Ride long and far
Friday, March 16, 2012
Yeah, I'm a bit late on the posting because my boys are here, and it's a shitty rainy day so guess what toy they're playing with. Yeah, my toy. Thankfully Uncle Letrange should fix this soon™ :) So I heard this tune earlier this week as I was sipping awesome beer at a friend's place and it is one of the greatest Queen tunes ever. Freddie Mercury, wherever you are, thank you very much for this fine piece.
Thursday, March 15, 2012
And it's now official, as of just over 5AM evetime (1AM Montreal time), the EVE Online account is in deep cryo-sleep. No, I didn't do anything stupid like biomassing or trashing all my stuff, but unlike the break I took at around the same time last year I don't see myself coming back any time soon, if ever. As a matter of fact I'm pretty much done getting hardcore into MMO's. I do still have a Dungeons & Dragons Online account but I log in about once every 2-3 months, and the same goes for Hellgate Global, which I see more as an online single-player game anyway. As I've mentioned before, if I want to go up against humans I prefer using Quake Live or Mech4Mercs. I may be interested in World of Tanks, and later this summer Mechwarrior Online will come out, but if I want my drumline activity to be fruitful I have to cut down on the gaming.
So with Rixx Javix of EVE-O-Ganda being stuck with Real Life crap, I hereby announce that I am removing myself from the EVE Blog Pack. While I may still post about EVE-related subjects once in a blue moon, these posts will be few and far between and will mostly happen if something big makes the news, along the lines of the Jita Riots or the death of a big power block. However, unlike some other ex-EVE bloggers, I will NOT remove all my EVE material because 1- there's a lot of it and I'm a lazy bastard, and 2- some stuff may actually be useful to someone. I will even leave the EVE24 news reel and the EOH Poker ad. I will also leave the Blog Pack links because frankly, I wouldn't be this much into blogging if it wasn't for these fine peoples.
So there you go, all done. The book is closed and now's the time put it back in the bookcase. Will I be interested in picking up the book again? Only time will tell, but don't hold your breath as you might turn blue and die.
For a final time, never forget my good advice: fuck flying safe... fly dangerous !!!
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
As you may have noticed, I have officialized the turning of the final page in my EVE book with a slight blog redesign. With a speaker cover background and now Terry Bozzio's awesome monster kit, I think it's fair to say that my blog is taking a musical turn. I may still touch on EVE subjects once in a blue moon but it will be strictly with an outsider's point of view; just like one of my friends, I prefer hearing and talking about EVE than actually playing it. I've already been posting music videos every week for the past 2 years so this will go on, but here and there I may throw in some additional performances, and as before I'll concentrate on live music, unless it's a really well made video or the tune has a special significance.
I may be gone from EVE and may also be very busy with drumline immersion, but in no way does that stop me from being the same gamer nerd I always was. I've taken a short break from the fantasy world of Skyrim to take a stroll in the post-apocalyptic world of Fallout 3. It's not that I got tired of Skyrim, but Fallout is just as good (I call it Skyrim's older brother) and being a 4-year old game it plays a lot better on my 4-year old machine! My progress in-game has slowed down since the drumline thing started but it's great to have games I can jump in and out of. My boys have also strongly re-ignited my taste for Quake Live, especially that now I can act as a coach. The day the boys each have a machine to play on will be interesting to say the least! And in the light of the up-coming Mechwarrior Online me and a bunch of Virtual World veterans are planning some mech action in Mech4Mercs. This should also be interesting!
So how goes the drumline stuff? So far I've received the sheet music for the three tunes from last year's set, "Dark Chest of Wonders" being the first tune we will tackle at the first drumline rehearsal. The cymbal part is fairly simple but as I don't know Nightwish music that well (it's alright but I'm not the biggest fan) I have my work cut out for me. And from one look at the snare part, my director was right: I'm not quite ready for this even if it's relatively simpler than normal snare parts. I'm not backing down from the challenge though, but because I want to concentrate on my cymbal part I'm mostly working on the 40 regular rudiments. To help me "get" the drum corps snare parts better I also acquired something called "128 Hybrid Rudiments"; this is the stuff that DCI gods like Jeff Queen, Corey Brohard and Dr John Wooton come up with. Yeah, each and every one is challenging, and each and every one has a funky name like "Shirley Murphy", "cheese paradiddle" and "diddle-egg-five". Yeah, fun! If you want to know what I'm talking about you can find the pdf document here.
And the closing subject, mountain bikes! Spring has decided to arrive a few days early in Montreal so there's a good chance that I'll pump up my tires tonight and go for my first ride in 2012. Oh it won't be anywhere far yet. I also need to take my bike to the bike shop have it tuned up from A to Z; there's a lot that I could do myself but a bike shop has tools I don't have, room to work on the bike, and technical experience. The shop near my place is used to dealing with 10k+$ race demons so I know my bike will be well taken care of. Of course my big travel plans may be shifted a bit because they may conflict with the drumline's crunch time, but I still intend to go. We'll see if there are modifications to make to my itinerary, but who knows, if the drumline practice goes well during the summer I don't see a problem of me skipping a weekend and coming back after the huge ride. I intended on bringing a pair of drum sticks anyway :)
So there you go. So long EVE and hello Real Life !!!
Friday, March 9, 2012
This is the first tune I have to learn with the drumline, so might as well put it here :) Oh and sorry about the lateness; I apparently needed a huge nap after work. I had to start one hour earlier and my body just hates earliness.
Thursday, March 8, 2012
So yesterday evening I had a lengthy chat with the drumline's director after I requested last year's sheet music for both the snare line and the bass line. His initial reaction was to tell me "I'm sorry Ben, both of these lines are full and then some. Plus I don't really know your drumming experience since you haven't gone the drum corps way. Do you know ruffs? Flams? Hybrid rudiments?". I took all of this in stride because I knew the quality of this drumline, and I knew what I was getting myself into.
Let's see. This drumline is jam-packed with DCI vets and instructors. And not only is the entire line-up from last year returning, we are five new guys coming in. One has his job cut out for him as he is the timpani player; he has to write his own parts and stuff. Another is already marching snares in Quebec's senior corps, so he easily gets that spot. The third is a guy who was marching snares when I was a kid and he was already OMGWTF awesome, and he never stopped drumming. He'll get a multi-tenor spot and I know he's up for that challenge. The forth guy is actually a bass guitar player but he's a long time friend of Wishmaster's leader who happens to be the drumline director's son. He'll be on the bass line. And then there's me.
So to break down the drumline by section: 9 snares, 5 basses, 4 multi-tenors, 1 timpani, and various cymbals. This right there is a full-sized competition drumline, with only the pit crew missing. So because of my unknown status I will be on the cymbal line, but knowing what I can do on drums I will be a damn solid cymbal player. You see, playing on a drumline isn't about the individual but the sum of all parts. A good example of this is the Santa Clara Vanguard cymbal line, who not only perform all kinds of crazy visuals (look up "SCV viper" on YouTube) but also play stuff that would challenge the best orchestra percussionists. Modern cymbal playing isn't about crashing every other quarter note in 4/4.
But even though I won't be on the snare line itself, I simply cannot pass on an opportunity like this. I will STILL get the snare parts and practice them for two reasons: 1- just in case, and 2- just because. I will also have a look at ALL the other parts; I do have to concentrate on getting my own part perfect but I welcome this challenge with open arms. One thing is certain, I will have an awesome amount of fun. I mean, how often does one drummer get to hang out with 20-25 other drummers, some of which have vast experience? I see nothing but good coming out of this :)
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
I'm in! :)
And not only that; I will get my try-out on the snare line. The parts should be relatively easy because Wishmaster does have a regular drummer, but let's not forget that this drumline has some pretty impressive people on it, with instructors and DCI vets. Plus, where last year's returning players will have four tunes to learn (three are kept from last year's set list), I will have seven. But I welcome the challenge. The point of this drumline is not to be on a DCI competitive level, but to have an unbelievable amount of fun while raising money for Opération Enfant Soleil, Québec's main foundation for children's disease help.
Last year the drumline was sponsored by a local music store for its instruments but they're looking for a new sponsor this year. This means that the first few rehearsals will happen on practice pads. Slightly less exciting but it means then when the drums do arrive we should have quick results. Be assured that when I'll get to play on a new toy, I'll post pictures :)
Rehearsals will start on March 20th, and the show will be on October 20th. There will be two opening acts and where last year Wishmaster employed an orchestra, this year we're going with a full drum corps hornline. Drum Corps Metal? Oh yes, and it will be GLORIOUS !!!
Monday, March 5, 2012
It's no secret that I'm into drums. I'm a self-proclaimed drum geek and nothing makes me happier than talking about drumming, working on my sticking, checking out drum gear, and meeting people in and around the world of drumming. Last October I wrote a blog post about reconnecting with a few drum corps friends, my first drum instructor, and also meeting some new friends in the process. The event was a percussion meet held to attract music teachers from both regular and specialized schools to the fine art of percussion, and to do so two bands were on hand to explain their respective instruments and various techniques. The first band was a Brazilian style "bateria", which gave the meet quite a festive start. This is my old instructor's band by the way. And the second was a full-scale drum line consisting of seven snares (plus two spares...), three multi-tenors, five bass drums and three cymbals. Marry this drum line to a Nightwish cover band and an orchestra and you've got Wishmaster. And shit-tons of power!
Soon after the meet there was rumors that the drum line experience was going to be repeated; the full Wishmaster show was held for a local children's foundation and it had great success. And so it was that I kept in touch with these new friends and I made it known that if there was to be another edition, I wanted to be in on it. As I had mentioned last fall, I started practicing my rudiments a lot steadier in case something happened. And some time last week it did. The drum line's leader sent me an invitation for this year's edition first drum line meeting! So ever since that invitation I've raised my practice time from 1 hour a day to 2-3 hours. I know I can make the drum line as a cymbal or bass drum, but what I'm really shooting for is the snare line; I don't think I can make the quads as that takes some serious skills! My motivation: if one of my old time drum corps friends can make the bass drum line after 30 years without holding a pair of sticks, I can make the snare line. I realise that it's a huge step and it will involve an awesome amount of work, but I know I can do it. But honestly, I will not be disappointed if I don't get a snare spot; hell I'd just be happy being a roadie and changing drum heads and hauling stuff. But tomorrow night as I formally meet the drum line I fully intend to give everything I've got to give and maybe, just maybe, I will get to kick-start my drum line career after my own 30 year hiatus.
On a related subject, the bar where we've been holding the Montreal EVE Meets sometimes has some Audience Participation nights where people show off their singing skills, guitar chops and whatnot. Take a wild guess what I'd like to do :) I've found some snare solos to practice, most notably from my two favorite drum corps, namely Santa Clara Vanguard and Phantom Regiment. Needless to say a lot of work will be spent nailing the solos on the practice pad before I attempt 'em at full volume on a snare drum in front of an audience. But yeah, I'm getting weary of telling people I play drums... now I want to show 'em!
Saturday, March 3, 2012
You have no idea how proud this picture makes me. Here's Timothee not only learning the ropes of Quake Live CTF, but doing a damn good job at keeping the blue bots (well, lime green with my tourney settings) away from his red flag. And yes this is 3v3 with regular bots. Lucy learned the hard way not to mess with my boy :)) Yep, I see the makings of a fine competitive gamer. Just don't tell his mom XD
Friday, March 2, 2012
In the spirit of the invitation I received for Tuesday's Wishmaster drumline meeting, here is snare drum master Jeff Queen explaining and performing his "Tribute" drum solo. Yeah, I wish I could be a tenth that good!