|The Dark Rider [modified]|
By Ivan Bilibin
Life is in the fairly boring slow lane these last few weeks between work, finding myself at a graveyard in Dallas late at night, script revisions on the comic, bouts of food-poisoning due to now-confirmed lactose intolerance, and unending practice sessions in preparation for Nerdapalooza, so I've been at a loss of topics to write about. The only remaining social element in my life, my weekly D&D game (Pathfinder), has endured through the chaos, and while there is a unique triumph felt when a painstakingly detailed D&D game runs as planned after months of work (assuming everyone has fun), this campaign is enjoyable because the players go through events and scenarios I couldn't have planned for, that often surprise me just as much as them. For instance: this week a team of level 4 characters decided to attack (and successfully killed) an epic random encounter they were not supposed to fight: Baba Yaga, a CR 22, Level 30 demi-goddess with 2 dancing swords, animated poppets, magic spells a-many, a snake-bite touch attack, polymorph wand, terror-inducing glare, and the epic trio of guardians known as "The Riders Three", the Russian incarnations of Sunrise/Sunset, Day, and Night. I should add that they only got through the encounter because one of them got a series of critical hits that did no less than 40 damage a piece, but it was no less epic. I'd start blogging about their misadventures if people were interested in that sort of stuff but it's probably only exciting if you're actually playing.
|The Brooksville Raid of '08|
[Picture Unrelated] by Mary Ross
As for real life: I detest this Puzzle Song I'm working on more and more with each passing hour, despite loving the song itself. I can now play half of my accursed solo at half speed, correctly, about 60% of the time. Each finger has to be placed precisely in the right spot (in the sequence as I run through the scales) or else the song simply doesn't work because it's complicated like that. If I lose my place the solo also ends abruptly and I can't just jump back into it at a later point in the solo so I really need it to be perfect and about 8 times better than it is at present. I'm hoping to learn the other half of the solo tonight and speed it up from 60bpm to 90bpm (3/4ths speed) before Monday (while on the road to/from the Escapist Expo), while learning the rest of the Careless Juja Live set and playing a show on Saturday. Next week I need to know everything and be moving on it quickly so my muscle memory can be strong if I'm distracted while on stage and make the song look easy to play. Oh yeah, I almost forgot that I also run through the Random Encounter Nerdapalooza set each night, complete with new songs, before I can even get started on the Careless Juja stuff. It's pretty crazy how much work muscle memory does if you are in tune with your body. You just sort of think about the start of a song and your body does the rest.
|Fish BonesAnother unrelated picture|
Puzzle Song [which i'm intentionally not giving the name to] is hell but I feel it's important for me to learn. It's probably silly, or egotistical, but I sort of want a place for my technical accordion abilities to shine through and be noticed as "truly exceptional" by music and non-music folk alike. Having only recently entered into the realm where I vaguely consider myself a "professional" accordion player, playing pieces that challenge me and that can put me anywhere near the lower-levels of the legendary Charles Magnante have become something of an interest. It's hard to balance that interest with a band in a way that's musically enjoyable (large doses of accordion get dull quickly), so a lot of it needs to be underplayed so it doesn't seem excessive. I did that a lot with the new Random Encounter album, LET ME TELL YOU A STORY, and while I'm entirely responsible for writing myself into the position i'm in, a lot of the normal/new solos (more like featured melodies) I've been doing, which are fairly tasteful for accordion solos/features, generally go unnoticed as being technically impressive because they're not as in-your-face powerful as the guitar solos. Growing up on video game music, I always try to emphasize melody in what I play, and after I spent time making/mastering the solo/feature for Another World for the recent album release show, the comment that stuck with me that night was "the guitar solo was awesome and the accordion was good too." While the person making the comment didn't intend to point this out, it became clear to me that in order to impress people with an accordion part (in the modern sense i'm referring to an "accordion solo") it needs to be completely over the top insane, which even my most technically complex moments of my solo in Cave Story (which even the band's drummer, Moose, didn't notice until just recently) don't seem to do. That's why this song is important to me.
Not to sound like i'm feeling bad for myself, far from it, I'm just trying to justify poor (self-inflicted) decisions...
Well, that's all the time I have to write this week.