Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Aegthil's Skirmish Guides: The Bree Raid Skirmish

Back by popular demand, I bring you the next installment of my famous guides. My Tailoring Guide was an enormous hit, and rightly so; now I am delighted to bring you a guide to skirmishes. Guaranteed to have the same unique perspective and insightful comments that you all have come to love.

Skirmishes. Right. Here we go.

Figure 1. Always ask your kinship for advice.
Let's start from the beginning. The first thing to learn about skirmishes is that you get a little servant who will do whatever you ask him (or her!) to do. This has enormous possibilities. But a decision is needed, as you have to choose what kind of servant you want. Some of them are males and carry heavy things like swords, while others are female and provide you with herbal assistance (see Figure 1 for details). Quite frankly, the choice is obvious. The herb provider is kind of cute (see later) and provides all sorts of services in addition to herbs. Your tastes may vary of course, so feel free to get yourself a male herb provider if you prefer.

Once you have your herb provider you then have to choose a skirmish to do. I'm going to start with a Raid Skirmish, as they are the best ones to start with.

To get into your Raid Skirmish you talk to your herb provider. This can be done at almost any time, except really early in the morning. Personally, I don't mind morning breath on my herb provider, but some people find this a little off-putting and prefer to clean their teeth first before discussing additional skirmish services.

Remember, always use skirmish protection when asking for skirmish services from your herb provider. If you're unsure of how to get suitable protection, then consult my Tailoring Guide, which can be found ... um ... never mind about that. Tailors are expert at the construction of suitable skirmish protection, which can in fact be used multiple times as long as you're not too squeamish. I think they use bat fur for this.

Figure 2. Ask a smelly bagpipe player.
Before talking to your herb provider, consult a friend, and enlist them to help. Often Raid Skirmishes are better done in pairs, as the conversation is a lot better that way. Your herb provider, although useful in many many varied and interesting ways, is not a good conversationalist. She doesn't have to be. If you can't find a friend, or a nice non-stinky person to join the Raid Skirmish with you, a bagpipe player will do instead (Figure 2).

OK, now you're pretty much all set. You've got your herb provider, who should be at level 2 by now, and your cannon fodder (the bagpipe player).

You now head into the instance. It can be a bit difficult to find the entrance, and sometimes you need to look around for a bit, so we just went into the Bree Skirmish Raid, as that was a nice easy one to find, making it good for beginners.

When you enter the Bree Skirmish Raid there is some guy on the ground whining and moaning about stuff, but just ignore him.

Figure 3. Complementary outfits are important
Now, make sure your herb provider is ready and waiting to assist you, and that she (or he) is properly dressed (Figure 3). As you can see from the picture, this is not always easy. Because of my experience and artistic talent, I have managed to dress my herb provider properly, in a lovely blue outfit that complements the outfit that Apple-Sherie got for me. My bagpipe player, unfortunately lacks this same knowledge and fashion awareness, and his herb provider has some nasty red robe thing on; this is just not a good statement.

The next step is to go out the gate by the whining man and kill the baddies. This is pretty easy, so I probably don't need to go into too much detail. Once you have saved the town you get a special Raid Skirmish award, which is a little medal thing on a ribbon, presented by a lady with a short skirt and blond hair. I suspect the blond was artificial. Maybe the legs were, too, but I'm less sure about that. They felt real.

Figure 4. Saying goodbye.
Anyway, that's all there is to the Bree Raid Skirmish. Say goodbye to your companion and take your Raid Skirmish Award back to your herb provider. Mostly my companions say how fun it was to talk to me, and how it was a real pleasure to meet me, that kind of thing (Figure 4). I can understand this, but not everybody will have the same experience, so don't be disappointed if your companion just leaves without saying anything. It will take time for you to improve your personality to the level of mine, but when at first you don't succeed, try and try again. That's the spirit.

You can trade your Raid Skirmish Award for special favours from your herb provider, or for special herbs. Personally, I recommend the special favours, as Beorlich does a great deal on very special herbs, while you wouldn't really want him to provide any other special favours.

So, that's all from me, for this installment of Aegthil's Skirmish Guides. Happy hunting to you all, and I hope you all have many happy hours with your herb provider.

Monday, August 29, 2011

An overheard conversation

My Fool overheard a conversation in the kitchen:

Daughter: I saw Dad playing Lotro, and he was like in Moria, and he like fell off this bridge and like RAN AWAY, lol, like he didn't like die or anything he like ran away, lol. [Editor's note: yes, they really talk like this. Like. They are teenagers.]

Son: Lollerskates, that's like really funny, nobody dies in Lotro they all like run away lol

Daughter: lol, yeah, and then he was like walking along and this guy came right up to him and this guy was like "Do you want this sword" just for no reason, and Dad was like "I already have that, thanks" and this guy was like "Oh, OK", and then they just started like talking and shit. [Editor's note: yes, my Fool's children are very rude, badly behaved and badly brought up. They use bad language, of which only a small sample is reproduced here for the sake of authenticity. It is all their mother's fault.]

Son: lol, yeah, I know, it's like everybody is really old and shit and they just like talk all the time in like real sentences and words and stuff.

Daughter: lol, but they just started like talking for no reason.

Son: lol, yeah. I know. It's all old people.

Daughter: lol, no way I'm going to play Lotro, you have to like talk to people.

Son: Yeah, me neither.

Proof that Beorbrand is degenerate

You knew it. I knew it. But here is the proof. Beor after a hard night carousing in the Dancing Goat. Lying in the fountain in a drunken stupor. I was tempted to hold his head under, but then it occurred to me that I might have to play the pipes. Shudder. Anything but that.

So I pulled him out, dried him off, tidied him up, and sent him along to Bree Work and Income to try and get him a real job.

No luck. Nobody wants to hire no-good layabout drunken sots of bagpipe players, who only wash when they end up in the fountain after a hard night.

I guess he'll just have to stick with Booze, Bottoms and Bluebonnetts.

Our show last night was, of course, a huge success. We wore our new outfits from the lady Wrenaya, and we sang her special song. My heart broke inside me as she wasn't there to hear it, but I sang it anyway. I'm sure that the lady Gingerale was most taken with my handsome, but saddened, looks. I think that a sad demeanour is very becoming and makes me look even more handsome. I should cultivate it more, I think.

The after-gig party in the Drunken Goat got a little out of control, and poor old Carica ended up getting assaulted and robbed by Bluebonnett. Trust me, I was watching. But I only took a small amount of cash. Bluebonnett took the pies and dress. Actually, the lady Gingerale proved she was no better than she ought to be, as she was a clear receiver of stolen goods, no matter what she may claim to the contrary.

As you can see, she is wearing Carica's stolen dress, while pretending she isn't. Shocking, ladies and gentlemen. Absolutely shocking.

So I blew her a heart, just to underline the point. Beor could only manage a wimpy ship, not nearly as good as my heart. But either way, Bluebonnett hates the smoke so that all just adds to the enjoyment.

Actually, speaking of Bluebonnett, she was a great hit on her cowbell, playing The Bluebonnett Blues. The lyrics are at the bottom of the abc file,  (and at the bottom here) and she sang 'em well. Oh yeah.

In other news, I have gone into Moria for the first time. Oooo...that's a nasty place. All grey rock, and grey rock, and grey rock, and, hey, a little more grey rock. And goblins. It's hard to imagine how I'll get right through to the end without going bonkers.

I think that instead I shall entertain myself by writing some skirmish guides, to help other people do skirmishes. Spread the love, so to speak. Spread the knowledge. Be a helpful puppy. Lend a helping hand. That's just my style.


 My name's Bluebonnett and I play the BELL
 You don't like it? You can go to hell.
 'cause my name's Bluebonnett........ yeah yeah
 oh, my name's Bluebonnett...... ooo yeah
 my name's Bluebonnett..... I'm singing the Bluebonnett Blues

 I might be short, I might be small
 But when I play my cowbell, I'm 10 foot tall
 'cause my name's Bluebonnett........ yeah yeah
 oh, my name's Bluebonnett...... ooo yeah
 my name's Bluebonnett..... I'm singing the Bluebonnett Blues

 You're allowed to cheer, you're allowed to yell
 You have to dance, when I bang my bell
 'cause my name's Bluebonnett........ yeah yeah
 oh, my name's Bluebonnett...... ooo yeah
 my name's Bluebonnett..... I'm singing the Bluebonnett Blues

 Hey little bobbit man, you look real swell
 Why don't you come up here and ring my bell?
 'cause my name's Bluebonnett........ yeah yeah
 oh, my name's Bluebonnett...... ooo yeah
 my name's Bluebonnett..... I'm singing the Bluebonnett Blues

 I play it soft, I play it loud
 When I play my cowbell, I impress the crowd
 'cause my name's Bluebonnett........ yeah yeah
 oh, my name's Bluebonnett...... ooo yeah
 my name's Bluebonnett..... I'm singing the Bluebonnett Blues

 So that's my story, now you know it well
 I'm Bluebonnett and I bang my BELL
 'cause my name's Bluebonnett........ yeah yeah
 oh, my name's Bluebonnett...... ooo yeah
 my name's Bluebonnett..... I'm singing the Bluebonnett Blues

Friday, August 26, 2011

Comments? From the Fool

I've just learned that some comments have been "rejected". I have no idea what is going on, as I've tried to make the comments as open as possible, and unmoderated. So this rejection didn't come from me. I do apologise for any confusion or offence caused.

I would almost never reject or delete a comment, unless it was nothing to do with Aegthil, or LOTRO, or very very very offensive. Even more offensive than Aegthil. And he's bad enough!

The Wardrobe

You might (or might not) be surprised to hear that I reached the extreme level of 53 without ever gaining any idea at all of how the wardrobe works. (I note with interest and compassion that Beor reached the even more exalted level of 65 with the same deficiency. Just saying.)

But this all changed last night, in a ...... something moment.... you know, one of those moments where everything changes and a new paradigm comes into being. One of them.

Irdu taught me how to use the wardrobe.

She started by trying to explain in kin chat, but that didn't really get anywhere. It lacks the necessary physical violence. So she appeared at the Bree vault, pulled my ears, clipped me over the head, kicked me in the shins, and gave me step ....... by....... step......... by ............. step................. in..........struct...........ions. We love Irdu.

I can now colour my outfits all sorts of different colours, I can change into outfits that I do not actually own, and I can look even more handsome than I usually do. I celebrated by getting all muddled and promptly losing the lovely dress that Wrenaya sent me, but I'm pretty sure that Irdu has it. It will return, it will return, oh ye of little faith.

As payment, I offered Irdu the greatest prize any woman could possibly conceive. I offered to marry her. I was a little puzzled when she turned me down, so I offered again. And then again. Eventually, she gave me 6 gold to leave her alone, so it wasn't a complete waste.

My Fool likes to believe that this is yet another example of the extraordinary maturity and kindness exhibited by members of the Lonely Mountain Band, and in LOTRO in general, but this is a load of nonsense. Irdu was clearly just trying to sweeten the bitter pill of reality (bitter for her, that is) by contributing to my heavy expenses. If it makes her feel good to give me money, why shouldn't she?

I still do not believe it to be relevant that I had just wasted 8 gold on a house, 3 gold on a cloak, 5 gold on a horse, and 10 gold on mentoring lessons. My Fool says that this means I'm not really poor, merely stupid. However,  the sad fact was that I had 1 gold and 700 silver left, and so my statement to Irdu was factually accurate.

On second thoughts, she plays a mean axe, so maybe I'd better not steal her money. Hmm......

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tra la la to the birdies.

A special song for a very special lady. My Fool complained about having to do this, but I made him. Unfortunately he was able to sabotage some of the lyrics before I could stop him. Oh dear.

A wav file and an abc file.

And, for reference, here are the lyrics. They are also in the abc file, as it happens. Very sensible, that.

 The lady Wrenaya is the one I adore
 Her beauty is perfection, she hasn't a flaw
 I'd gaze at her all morning, then I'd go back for more
 (What a shame she's 21 and you're 84)

 Her figure is perfect, not too fat or too thin
 Flowers fill the footsteps where Wrenaya has been
 I would be so happy if her heart I could win
 (What a shame you're fat and bald and ugly as sin)


 Ooooooo...... Wrenaya
 Ooooooo...... Wrenaya
 Ooooooo...... Wrenaya
 You're the one for me

 You're my soul's delight
 You're my muse, my inspiration
 The light that lets me see

 When I see Wrenaya, I stammer and blush
 My great sophistication all departs in a rush
 My legs turn into jelly and my brain into mush
 (There's not a lot to change, you've got the brains of a thrush)

 I shaved my head on Monday, 'cause I know it looks great
 I must impress Wrenaya so she'll be my mate
 If it takes a thousand years, well, I don't mind the wait
 (What a shame you're old and fat and fifty years late)

(Chorus, etc)

 Wrenaya is a beauty, as I'm sure you have heard
 She plays like an angel and sings like a bird
 I'd dance on molten metal if she just said the word
 (What a shame you're old and bald and smell like a turd)

(Chorus, etc)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Aegthil and Fionalula. Hearts entwined. Soon.

And so another great concert, by that great band, BBB, which stands for Blue Bonnet's Band. Or maybe Booze, Buttocks and Babes. Either would do. The crowd went wild. Mostly because they were bobbits, and prone to doing wild and wacky things anyway, but there were some other types there, too. They probably thought of going wild, but were a bit inhibited actually to do it. I could tell.

The Buggerydoos were in fine form, and we kept BlueBonnet away from the cowbell. This is a necessary thing. She gets overexcited, and.... well.... you don't want to know where that cowbell ends up. Nasty. Ashmara never showed, yet again, but we played her new song anyway. Vamos a Bailar. One of the dwarfs, called Boris or something, didn't quite hear the words correctly and thought the song was for him. Boris a Bailar? I don't think so. Anyway, I didn't argue. Never wrestle with a pig, and never argue with a dwarf, for the same reason.

I was immensely successful once again with the ladies. Go figure. I noticed one in particular was giving me the eye. Called Fionalula, as wot I know this becos as wot she is famous. The famous Fionalula, in point of fact. Not as famous as the famous Aegthil (well, who is?) but reasonably well known nevertheless.

Fionalula runs a kinship called Mer Vanny Tiddlyevea, or MVT for short. I'm told they give concerts. Quite inferior ones I'm sure, but hey, at least they get points for trying. I'm always available to give lessons to my less talented acquaintances, which would be everybody. Reasonable rates. They know where to find me.

Anyway, Fionalula from the Vanny Tiddlywinks was eyeing me up something fierce, but trying (unsuccessfully) to hide the basic animal attraction she so clearly felt. Oh Aegthil, she said, oh Aegthil, you're not funny at all. I smiled to myself. I understand such remarks. I know. Beor, get a new front man, says Fionalula. I smirk knowingly. With comments like that I might get lucky. You're not famous at all, she calls. Right, I think to myself, you are so obvious, lady. Calm down, I'll be done soon, and available. (Wrenaya wasn't there. Or Apple-Sherie.) Beor seemed to be listening to her, which was a little weirding out, but hey, if that's the worst Beor does of an evening we're definitely on a winner.

I think that I might try and find Fionalula's address, pop round, maybe ask her out on a date. As long as Apple-Sherie never finds out. Or Wrenaya. Or Beor, come to think of it. I'd end up in the fountain again, at the wrong end of a dwarf. And yes, I heard about that.

After the gig my Fool shot his stupid mouth off and probably caused offence to a friend of mine. I hate it when he does this. I kept kicking him (metaphorically speaking) but he just couldn't keep his mouth closed. I shall have to buy Inzilgagger an extra expensive bag of smokes from Beortich, to make up for my Fool's idiocy.

In other news, my Fool has written Wrenaya's song, with words according to my direction. Every so often my Fool slipped in one of his own lyrics, but I'll just get Beor to sing those. He won't mind, I'm quite sure. It's a sweet, soft and gentle song, for a sweet, soft and gentle lady. Well, all except for those odd lines from my Fool, but let's just try to ignore them if we can.

I look forward to playing it for her. Actually, I really do.


My Fool has finished. He's now stamping around the house vowing he will never ever ever ever ever transcribe another piece of music into abc notation. Ever. Actually, I think it's all just a sign of his incompetence. Quite frankly, how hard can it be? You listen to it, you write it down. Simple. I don't get what all this silly fuss is about. If he wasn't such a moron he'd do an awful lot better, let me tell you.

Anyway, more about me. That's what my avid readers want. I celebrated my release by hanging out in Bree with that nasty bagpipe man and Casin. We didn't actually play any music, which is probably a very good thing, as I think I saw Beor had his pipes, but we visited Beortich, Beortrich, Beortuck, Beorthich.... Beorsomething who was flogging stuff off cheap by the fountain. I bought a sack of smokes that he said was Southfarthing, and lit up.

Bad move.

If that was Southfarthing then I'm a bobbit. A couple of smokes later I was babbling like a baby. Wham. Aegthil's down and out for the count.

I woke up hours later with my mouth tasting like a dwarfs' urinal, and a head the size of Mount Doom. Beor hadn't even bothered to pull me out of the fountain.

Super cool. I need to find Beorthich again, and replenish my supplies.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Transcription, Composition and Improvisation, by the Fool

Poor Aegthil hasn't got out much recently, so he has very little to say for himself. Well, to be honest, he very rarely has anything much to say for himself, or nothing interesting at any rate, but that doesn't seem to stop him. Isn't it at least a little strange how we can create characters that are so good at annoying ourselves. What this means of course --- and this is indeed a frightening thought --- that there is a lot of Aegthil in me and that I am merely annoyed at myself for being such an annoying twit, and wished I wasn't.

Oh dear. Let's just pretend I never said anything like that. Or even thought it.

What I really came here for is to ruminate on transcriptions and the like. You see, I'm currently in the middle of transcribing Vamos a Bailar for Ashmara. And I hate doing it.

So why did I say I would? Good question. I really don't know. I mean, I love the song and all, and it would be fun to have a proper band version of it, and Ashmara is a LOTRO bandmate, and blah blah blah, but as of right now none of this seems like a very good reason at all.

Doing a transcription is such a completely different thing from composing. When one composes a song for LOTRO --- well, when I compose at least. I don't know how other people do it --- you know the instruments you can use, the sounds they make, the sounds they can't make, and so you have a very good idea of what you can and can't do. So, given a particular feel you want to achieve, swing, reggae, blues, renaissance, Irish, etc, you think of the tools you have, and figure out the best path to get there. You put it all in your head, fit things together, and then sit down to write the abc file.

Me, I always lay down the drum track first. If you get the rhythm wrong, you're screwed, no two ways about it. Then the bass. Then the chord rhythm. Then the melody. Then the counter-melody rhythmic line. And at the very last, the improvisation passages, if there are any. And those I just make up as I go along.

With each new track you add, you keep listening to how they fit together, and adjust and tweak as desired to keep it sounding like the thing in your head. The job is to get it out of your head in a way that doesn't wreck it.

Ah, but transcription is the complete opposite. There, the original song is in someone else's head. Not yours at all. They had a vision, they had a feel, and they used a week in a professional studio to get those sounds exactly right. You've got a crappy drum kit, the most pathetic bass sound ever, and an out-of-tune horn section.

So most of the time it just can't be done. You just cannot match the vision in this other person's head with the tools at your disposal. Maybe it's a great song, like Vamos a Bailar. But that greatness does not translate well, and attempting to make it translate is an incredibly frustrating thing. It drives me up the bloody wall.

And that's only one frustration. Improvised passages are another frustration. Some are very well known, and the feel is so perfect, that you feel you really need to keep them. But figuring out the exact notes that guitarist played is not fast. Not difficult, but S...L....O..........W. And anyway, it's all improvised, so who cares what they happened to play that day in the studio? They play it differently every time, and so should you.

So I sit staring at these improvised passages, wishing that I could just write down what I would play, not transcribe what someone else happened to play, but knowing that this would make the song worse, and the transcription much less effective. After all, everybody KNOWS the solo in that video on YouTube. The fact that it was improvised is not important to them at all. They want to hear THAT solo. Not your solo. The real one.

(Mind you, last night Beor put the solos through Finale for me and dumped out some sheet music. I love the guy. I might get this damn thing finished now.)

Live performances are an entirely different kettle of fish. There, you can rely on the bass player (who, by the way, is playing a real bass, not a bloody piece of crap theorbo) to play a real Cuban line, or whatever. He's a pro, he knows what to do. Same with the drummer, the guitarist, everybody else. They all know their jobs, and do them. It's different every night, but the fundamental job remains the same. It's not transcription, even when you're playing someone else's music. It's all improvisation, which is nothing but composition on the fly.

So. Transcription. Why did I ever say I'd do it? I hate Ashmara.

Monday, August 15, 2011

A plea, from the Fool

A number of kind and hardworking people volunteer their time and effort to record, and upload to the web, various in-game events. Ales and Tales, Weatherstock, other concerts, etc.

I think this is wonderful. Very admirable.

But ... and you knew there was a but coming ... when the audio is recorded at a concert, is it possible to turn off all the other game sounds?

One pulls up the youtube file and settles in to watch Ales and Tales on Crickhollow, for example, or some other event, and the band starts to play.

So far, so good. Then, the next thing you know, the guy beside you is chomping on something, there is heavy breathing coming from your left, all sorts of liquid slurping sounds are coming from behind you, and gurgle slurp slurp chomp pant pant bubble slurp slurp pant pant chomp chomp gurgle bubble gurgle pant pant is ALL you can hear.

Quite frankly, it's not just annoying, it's positively obscene. It feels like you're trying to listen to music in the middle of a slime orgy. A hobbit muffin illegality. It's gross. It makes you feel ill. Just thinking about what hobbits do with their dinners turns me green.

I feel so ungrateful saying these things. I don't do the recording. I'm too lazy. I'm not nice enough. I'm too selfish. I really seriously do admire the people who take the time to do them.

But the sounds are just so .....  distracting...  I cannot keep quiet. How so like me.

Foolish Laziness

I have been unable to get out much recently, as my Fool claims to be very busy, so busy that he can allow me out only every so often, and then only for a short time. This will pass, as do all things on this our mortal coil, but until then my life is dull.

Well, except for the excitement of teaching PearlyRose how to play her theorbo. It is always a serious pleasure to help others to find the joy in playing music, not just the joy in listening to me. My Fool does not do any teaching of others how to play, and (of course) nobody ever gets any joy from listening to him, so he rather loses out entirely. It's not clear why he bothers to continue breathing.

However, between my Fool and me we helped PearlyRose grab the right files, put them in the right place, how to hold her theorbo correctly, and what is the best fingering to use. It will be some time, and many many hours of practice, before she will be ready to play my own stupendous music, but she should do very well playing the trivial music of my Fool.

And talking about trivial music, the last BBB show outside the Bird and Baby was an unqualified success, except for the fact that very few people came to listen. But then, why would they? Beor was playing the pipes. However, the music came together well, mostly there were no mistakes, and I looked extraordinarily handsome.

Not so the others, I fear. I am planning on contacting one of the many fashion specialists to design outfits for the Aegthilettes, and a proper outfit for Beor as well. Looking good is important, which Beor doesn't yet seem to have realised. Bluebonnet had made a special effort for the BBB show, and was looking very splendiferous in a lovely black dress, but the others.... well... a hodgepodge of all kinds of inappropriate colours. You just can't be an Aegthilette if you're wearing green. I'm sorry, you just can't.

In other news, my Fool finished his piece for Casin. The Wyrmbane Forge. When he got stuck on that one he dashed off a quick TeddyBears' Picnic for Kyrian. Trivial nonsense. Now he can begin working on his piece for Ashmara, which is only a transcription of a song written by somebody else, and thus much less interesting, but it's a song my Fool particularly likes, so it's not all bad.

Come to think of it, if my Fool wasted less time on writing trivial musical rubbish I would be able to get out more. I shall have to contact my lawyer.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Aegthil's guide to legendary things for Minstrels

I have now reached the exalted rank of 51. Very impressive, I hear you say, and you would be right. And this exalted rank comes with the ability to wield things called legendary weapons.

Now, in case you don't know what a legendary weapon is, it's a special kind of weapon that comes with a legend attached to it, as in something untrue and probably defamatory. My special weapon, which happens to be a sword, was named by Beor as the Sword of Clapping, which might be untrue and is certainly defamatory (hint: the name doesn't refer to the act of striking one's hands together to make a sound). The associated legend is something about Apple-Sherie but I haven't enquired into the details. You shouldn't either, particularly if your name is Wrenaya or if you have a sensitive disposition, or both. Or, come to think of it, if your name is Ashmara, either. Or Delna. Or.. well, never mind.

Anyway, the system for legendary weapons is usually thought to be very complicated, but actually it's all very simple. First you get the weapon, then you identify it by taking it to an Identifier Person, and then you pick it up and kill stuff with it. There are other details such as relics and things, but these are unimportant and don't make any difference to how good you look.

I tried equipping various relicy sorts of things - one was a buckle I seem to remember - but I couldn't notice any difference at all in audience responses in the I-Love-Aegthil surveys (conducted by the Official Statistics Department of the Bree Mayoral Office). This is scientific proof that relics on legendary weapons make no difference at all; this, by itself, should be useful information to the entire Middle-Earth community and should help to prevent people wasting their precious time and money on unimportant things.

I also was given some sort of Minstrel legendary book thingy, but that seems to be of even less use than relics. It has only a very limited effect when you hit things with it, and some of the songs in it are Shire Country Music, which is not just offensive, it's scary. So I just don't see the point. On the other hand, I can certainly believe that the best way to kill a baddie is to sing him (or her) a Shire Country song. It is amazing how much damage can be done by a simple three-chord strum behind a cliche melody and tear-jerking lyrics. Just listen to my Fool's music, you'll see what I mean.

Anyway, it's not like I need to read music or anything, as I am a firm believer in the art of improvisation, so it's probably best just not to bother with that legendary book thing.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Party Time

Today was the party for some people called A Casual Stroll to Mordor which is, if you ask me, a name that is just asking for trouble. Personally, if I was going to Mordor, which I'm not, it wouldn't be a casual stroll. Maybe that's just me.

Be that as it may, the Fairgrounds were the scene of the party which was celebrating the Mordor people's second birthday, or some such thing. I didn't actually see anybody called Casual Stroll to Mordor, and I didn't notice any kinship called (in short) CSTM, and nobody said anything to me about CSTM, so I was left all just a little puzzled as to where CSTM came in, but it was a great Lonely Mountain Band party, that's for sure. Who needs a Casual Stroll to Mordor when you've got the Lonely Mountain Band?!

It was BBB's lucky night (BBB stands for Bards, Beers, Beards and Beor's Bagpipes. Beor can't count.). Beor couldn't be there, so we could perform without having to watch his waggling beard and horse-arse face. Or listen to his pipes. This has to be a good thing.

Instead, we were joined by the Wacky Buggerydoos,  Irdu on something, Inzingagger on theorbo, Loryswine (or some such name) and the unforgettable Ashmara doing her usual stint on the drums. I was hoping that the lovely lady Wrenaya would join us as well, as she had thought she might (she is an excessively talented lute player), but I was doomed to disappointment there, as she was notably absent.

We were - I kid you not - super cool. Aegthil and the Aegthilettes.

If I had been sensible enough to take a picture I could have put one here, but I wasn't so I can't. Actually, it's my Fool's job to draw the pictures, so this is yet another example of his total incompetence. I should probably try and get another Fool, but I'm not sure that would be a trivial process. Nevertheless, someone in CSTM drew a picture, and I'm cheeky enough to use it. As you can see above, we were quite stunning. Handsome me in the middle, surrounded by my Aegthilettes, with the Buggerydoos out the front. Very nice.

Now, the music might have been fine (which it was), and I might have been super handsome (which I was) and the cheering crowds might have stamped and yelled praise (which they should have) but the real event of note was an unwanted insight into Ashmara's love life.

As always, she played the drums. Of course, I know, and my Fool knows, and everybody who is anybody knows, that the drummer gets the girls. (My Fool is not a drummer, but obviously this is not the reason he doesn't get the girls; no girl would ever be desperate enough to take up with my Fool. He has not even the basic charms, being old, fat, ugly and smelly.)

But back to Ash. Oh, said I, you're on drums, you'll get the chicks. (I have a natural facility with such cool phrases as that.) Hope so, said Ash, it's been a dry spell.

I just about dropped my cowbell.

In the experience of my Fool it is a common band practice to try and sabotage a performance by telling foul and obscene jokes to each other, while playing. If the music falls to pieces because the band are all laughing so much they wet their pants, this is counted as a success. He remembers one notable occasion when a Martha Stewart joke caused a total stoppage, and complaints from the client.

This was one of those times. I almost wet my pants.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Shuga Mommy

The Mayor's daughter bears the remarkable name of Apple-Sherie. I have no idea why. However, her name aside, she is a very nice young(ish) lady, with enormous sympathy for struggling and starving, yet excessively talented musicians.

Like myself. What a coincidence.

Upon being informed of my remarkably unfair and unfortunate treatment, she rushed to my aid with significant pecuniary assistance. In short, she gave me money. Lots of it. Wasn't that nice of her, I hear you say, but I think it's only fair that she be allowed to help herself to feel better. I feel that, by accepting her assistance, I am doing her a good turn. It's my essential good nature speaking. I like doing good. I believe in helping humanity. That's just who I am.

Anyway, to get back on topic, I am now a wealthy man. No longer must I starve and freeze for the sake of my enormous artistic talent. I now have fancy new clothes, which you can see in the picture. A lovely new cape, new shirts and things, a very elegant hauberk to protect my nether regions while killing baddies, and frilly underwear (with lace. Not really my thing, to be honest, but Apple-Sherie insisted.)

Now, I know this isn't black, and is therefore slightly less sexy, but it's really only for use while out and about. Incognito, so to speak, although that's not really possible for someone of my immense fame. But Apple-Sherie had her own ideas (see above) and she is a lady of immense persuasional capability. I still bear the bruises.

To compensate, she also bought me a lovely new cloak for my performances. That, of course, has to be black. No compromise is possible, when art is in question. And she got me a new horse, a nice fancy grey one, very handsome.

I got the shoes for myself. I was so immensely crushed by the lovely Lady Wrenaya's scorn for my boots, that I went out immediately to refurbish my feet. She saw them last night, and I think she was very impressed. Very impressed indeed. So impressed that she claimed she couldn't walk home, and had to stay the night in the Dancing Goat. Always the gentleman, I immediately offered the use of my room. I hope that Apple-Sherie never finds out.

Talking about the lovely lady Wrenaya, I am moderately perturbed by the string of dorks that trail around behind her. There was another one last night. Forlan, or Dorland, or Forthen, or something like that. He was quite handsome, I suppose, in his way, but that might just be the result of his sexy hair style.

Finally, Apple-Sherie has also bought me a lovely new deluxe house. Well, it is for my own personal and exclusive use, although I believe there is some small matter of rent that she deals with. Nothing to do with me, of course. I don't enquire into such sordid financial details. I am an artist. I am above all that. My new house (or Apple-Sherie's house, perhaps I should say to be perfectly honest) is close to Bree and has three lovely rooms, a bed, two chests, a few rugs and a breakfast table.

What I need now is servant help for cleaning, polishing, and other such mundane matters. I think I shall have to hire servant girl Saini. She looks strong. Marginally clean, but strong. I wonder how much she charges...

In other news, Singamerrydo, one of that merry and very very perversely weird band of dancing bobbits (Singa, Linga, Zinga, Pinga, and Dingaflinger) very nearly had to take occupancy of the jail cell I so recently didn't vacate. Apparently, after our show the other night in the Dancing Goat, she gave a sterling and anatomically unlikely performance with a muffin. I guess she just got a bit overexcited at being in such close company with a music star. I don't know what she was doing with the muffin, but it was certainly illegal and highly unpleasant. Well, unpleasant for the crowd at any rate. Maybe the muffin enjoyed it. Even Beor felt a little ill, and his standards are impressively low. Singa made it out of the Dancing Goat one step ahead of the law. Two steps behind Ash, who has her own reasons for avoiding legal entanglements.

Maybe someone drew a picture. That would be worth a look.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A vile rumour

There is, it appears, a particularly vicious rumour making the rounds. It is said that, far from being comfortably ensconced in the Dancing Goat, I have been paying a debt to society in the Breetown Jail. It is further said - and this is the bit that is most deeply disturbing - that this visit to the Breetown Jail was on account of a short, consensual, and mutually satisfactory relationship I had with the Mayor's daughter.

These allegations are false. Entirely false. There is not a shred of truth in any of this. The entire story is nothing but a tissue of lies and slander. There is just no way that she is the Mayor's daughter, and if she is then she shouldn't be, and, anyway, she didn't tell me.

In any case, should I be blamed for the fact that some ladies (Mayor's daughters or not) find me irresistibly attractive? Of course not, I hear you say. Should I be forced to hire bodyguards to keep off the adoring crowds? Of course not, I hear you say again.

These demands would be unreasonable.

So why should the Mayor take such umbrage if his daughter (a lady of mature aspect and one who definitely knows her own mind) chooses to admire me from a closer distance than is perhaps compatible with strict decorum?

It is just not right that I should have to suffer such vile slurs for something that is clearly not my fault.

It is, of course, expected that Beorbrand, Ashmara, Inzilzagar and others would organise bail.  That's what band members do for each other. It's just the normal thing. My Fool knows this, and so do I. And now Beorbrand et al have learned. I hope they're not expecting repayment.

I just wish I could have seen Ashmara's face when she handed over the money.