Friday, November 30, 2012

Monday, November 26, 2012

Musical activity = Gaming loll

Hello there! I'm alive, and very much so. I'm just spread a little thin these days but it's all good. I may not be as crazy-busy as I was in September/October but life is still flying at break-neck speed as the Rockline drumline still has a few gigs coming up, my own personal music project is starting to take form, the fat guy in red is warming up his transdimentional reindeer drive sled, and I'm trying to keep up with my favorite games in the middle of all this. Phew! That said over the past couple weeks I did have a few occasions to log onto EVE Online but nothing of note happened apart from some chats with some Montreal buddies and with the EVE Radio channel; I take this opportunity to salute the return of YouTuber/Vblogger Mintchip who recently felt the call of New Eden, you know, the "Hotel California Syndrome" :)

Exactly one month after our fund-raiser Metal bash, the Rockline went back to the rehearsal studio in preparation of a drumline clinic we gave in Québec city last Saturday. There was a convention for musical educators and with drumlines and marching bands making a slow comeback there was a lot of interest in our "product"; I don't want to brag too much but we are the hottest drumline in the province of Québec by far, even though there are only 5 or 6. So the plan was to present and explain the inner workings of a drumline by going back to the basics. Each section (snares, multi-tenors, basses and cymbals) was given attention. We then followed up with a simple 8-8-16 warm-up (alternating each hand) as an ensemble but trying to mimick a group of youngsters who had basically never played drums. This was extremely cacophonic but fun and even hilarious at the end when one of the snare players kept playing after our presenter told us to stop! We made it up to our small crowd by doing the same exercise but with the precision expected of a DCI drumline. Ah, much better :)

But of course we didn't travel 300 kilometers just to show a few exercises. Interspersed with various examples and explanations we played three of the tunes from the Wishmaster concert: "Dark Chest of Wonders" which we hadn't played since the show (this was a last minute addition by presenter Jeff Goulet, who is also the arranger of this tune... it's fairly easy anyway), "Storytime", and of course our apotheosis, the "Arabesque" drum feature. Even though we only had a small "crowd" of 30-40 people - maybe 50 because convention goers were coming in and out - the reaction was awesome each time we played, and greater as each tune increases in difficulty; where "Dark Chest" doesn't need a lot of practice and feels more like a warm-up, "Storytime" has a few tricky parts, and "Arabesque" is not only a challenge to play correctly, but a lot of movement is involved (see the video here) and collisions must be avoided at all cost. And this is before the "octopus" effect. Yes, arranger Michel Pilon knew he was dealing with a bunch of DCI vets and in what was presented as a battle between Wishmaster's drummer and the drumline, he wanted to make sure that we won!

And now that this is done, what's in the future for the Rockline? Well, resting on its laurels isn't in the plans. Next sunday we will participate in the shooting of a videoclip for only a simple part of eight bars but it's mostly for a visual effect. But as simple as this is the video shooting will allow me to finally realise a great big dream of mine: because the video part calls for it and because I've proven I can play some decent traditional grip rudiments, I will be introduced to the snare line. And on top of it we will be carrying the things! I don't care if it's only a temporary promotion for only eight bars, this will be a very powerful moment for me. The fact that it will be shot on video is great bonus. To say "I cannot wait" is a ridiculous understatement! So needless to say I've been hammering those double stroke Fives and Flam Accents like mad ever since last Tuesday when Jacques asked me "can you play me a Five?" before the rehearsal started. I confidently answered "singles or doubles?", perfectly executed hand-to-hand doubles, and then starting only from the right hand using traditional grip. The funny part is that one of the massively talented tenor players declined the invitation to play the snare line because she lacked the grip skills. Well, for this video she can have my bass drum :))

Hello snare... I haz a date with you or one of your bros >:)

On this note, fly hard and play tight!


Friday, November 23, 2012

Friday's Electric Lunch Hour - Black Friday Edition

Appropriate video is appropriate.

Have a good one and don't get trampled !!!


Friday, November 16, 2012

Friday's Electric Lunch Hour - Stick Battle Edition

In the white corner:

In the blue corner:

After spending the best part of a year drumming away with Drum Corps sticks, going back to my kit sticks felt all sorts of weird. Apologies to Mr Simon Philips but the Pro-Mark 707 model just doesn't do it for me anymore. So like a Hogwarts student with a broken wand I had to go shopping again, and find MY stick to use on the kit. So off to the Montreal version of Ollivander's I went and two sticks came out of the crowd. I don't want to do any favoritism or anything but to me when I started trying all brands of sticks one brand was clearly ahead of the game. Sorry Pro-Mark!

To me, both pairs feel totally awesome but very different in very subtle ways. I will have to test 'em very thoroughly to find out which pair really out-does the other one. It shall be interesting!

Fly loud!


PS: Yes, my EVE posts have been... nonexistant lately, but that's what happens when you are passionate about tons of stuff. I happen to be passionate about drums. Live with it :)

Morning After Edit: I've spent a good two hours on the pad with both pairs trying all kinds of stuff at different levels of speed and power, from delicate buzz rolls to slamming rimshots, and it was only when I started playing along to some tracks that a winner came out on top. The Thomas Lang model is very nice and all, but when I started moving my arms to simulate playing a kit they felt nowhere as good as the Gavin Harrison model. The ultimate test will be when I play an actual kit. Soon :)

Friday, November 9, 2012

Friday's Electric Lunch Hour - Sabbath Edition

Sabbath rules. Period.

The EVE front has been meh lately... not because of stuff in-game or un-interest, but just because I always find something to do XD Activity should be on the rise soon as my corpmate should be about done being busy working with some game about some dude assassinating other dudes during the Civil War. Yeah, that game.

In any case, fly deadly


Monday, November 5, 2012

Revisiting Northern Tamriel

The sudden break from all-out drumline rehearsal rush means I've been getting back into my gaming hobby something fierce. While I do try to keep on top of my drumming form, at least I don't have to go places every other day to meet up with the rest of the drumline and fine-tune every bar, every break, every stick opening, etc. I can do my own practice casually. This gives me plenty of time to be active at my 'puter doing the things I love, which is a good mix of flying the New Eden space lanes and exploring and adventuring throughout the province of Skyrim, carefully avoiding low-flying arrows. When summer was just starting and the drumline rehearsals started getting serious I was already unsubscribed from EVE but my computer was starting to die while playing games. It turned out it was my video card that was roasting alive and a quick swap later the computer was running like new. There is only so much drumming I can do before I need to frag something!

Over the summer I played a lot of Fallout 3 because I found it was easy to get in and out of my game, but I was avoiding getting back into Skyrim because I knew what all Elder Scrolls games do to my own personal space-time continuum. So I waited until after the show to dive back in, and I rejoiced when I did because the game was running so much better than even before the old video card started dying. And of course because I play Skyrim on a computer and not a console (cue Nelson Muntz "HAHA!") I dove right back into mods, updating some that needed it, removing some superfluous ones, and browsing Skyrim Nexus for anything of interest that may have come out during my summer hiatus. I haven't bought the Dawnguard and Hearthfire DLCs yet but playing the game with mods I already have so much more; though there are more and more mods appearing that require one or the other DLC so I just may get 'em soon-ish.

While I do have some weapon and armor mods, and also some HUD mods and even a few for the environment (Morning Fogs is awesome), my main interest has always been player abodes, from quaint little cabins and camps all the way to fortified castles as big as cities. I try to look for mods that meld seemlessly into the vanilla game; a lot of people give modding a shot and sometimes the results are either buggy or atrocious, or both. When a castle sticks out of the landscape like an eyesore I will avoid it like the plague. Or sometimes the setting is really nice and all but the insides turn out to be a gawdy over-stuffed laggy mess where the modder tried to cram every single object the Creation Kit will allow. And once in a while a jem pops up. For the longest time I've been using the Dovahkiin Hideout which is like a small Bat-Cave giving access to all the game's original player houses, and a couple other areas like the Ragged Flagon and the Archmage's Quarters. It's very well made but now being used to playing with a god-like character (don't laugh; the Deadly Dragons mod can chew up a level 81 character with max skills and all perks with ease if set properly) and having completed the entire game a few times I felt it was time I moved in somewhere more approriate to a Dragonborn who is Thane in all the holds, Archmage, Listener and all-around bad-ass.

A few mods looked promising but unfortunately fell into either of my previously mentioned categories. Two mods got my attention for a while, Deus Mons and Dragonius Tower, but both were causing my computer to glitch out, and the latter mod to crash to desktop repeatedly so I had to keep looking. And then I found it, Rendspire Palace. Located in a canyon set inside the mountain situated between Bleak Falls Barrow and Whiterun, the first hint of the place is the wooden stair path leading up to a small horse stable and a cave entrance next to a single Greybeard statue. The canyon reminds me a bit of the location of Hircine's quest, with a deep mountain clearing complete with waterfalls, pools, vegetation, and one big building with Solitude architecture. The fun part is that the castle itself is a mini-quest as you have to do some serious exploring to not only visit the place but to discover all the teleporters located within. These are pretty much essential unless you want to take all your time walking around; the secret smithing area is very deep below the castle, and the secret (and epically massive) armory is inaccessible until you've found and unlocked its teleporter, and defeated a vampire which... well I gotta stop talking now :)

The EVE front is a bit quiet these days; I want to give my buddy's corp a chance but us Montreal players are having multiple schedule issues, so sorry if I don't have many New Eden stories these days, but at least my #2 game is still very interesting to me and modders are expanding far beyond what the original game offered at launch. To me, if you're not playing Skyrim on a computer, you're not playing Skyrim. Or at least a very tiny part of what the game can actually be. I'll leave you with some screenshots of my Tamriel-based home; I have a Sovngarde-based home on the way soon but I need Dawnguard before I install it. And maybe a new machine. Yes... soon™ :)

Fly like a dragonbone arrow (yes, you read this correctly!)


Meet Cozmik Debrizzt, the Level 81 mod tester!
The entrance leading to the Canyon of Tears
"This is no cave!"
Rendspire Palace
The Great Hall
This is the public armory. The secret one is secret :)
Minions having a snack in the main dining room
The office... Like a boss!

PS: This is "only" eight screenshots; I'd need about 30 to 40 to show all this place has to offer!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Friday's Extra Video - Super Debile Ecoeurant Malade Mental Epoustouflant Yeah! Edition

A year's work condensed in 1h 19m. For the kids. Enjoy the fuck out of it :)


Friday's Electric lunch hour - Electric Blue Edition

Volume at 11. Words are unnecessary.


PS: Steve Vai calls this guy "master" for a reason!