The Eighth Page

Guitar Hero: “Get yo’ hands off my whammy bar!”

Blood was shed, lives were on the line and a whole lot of pride was lost. Breaking the PA record for highest number of losers in the same room playing plastic, color-coordinated guitars at once, this past weekend’s Guitar Hero contest was an undeniable success. The scent of testosterone and sweaty appendages overtook Underwood Room. The male to female ratio was wider than your mother’s waistline. Before the tournament began, participants took a moment to pray, stretched out in one of the room’s many corners and practiced their own unique methods of preparation. “Pre-game piss,” one competitor exclaimed. “There’s nothing better if you want to succeed in this sport. It loosens the muscles, which is key. I think that is what will ultimately decide who wins this tournament.” With the players ready, the early rounds began, and the men were quickly separated from the boys. While the favorites did not disappoint, many newcomers failed songs and were immediately subject to “get a life” chants and physical abuse from the crowd. One particularly awful moment during the night came when two participants stood on the wrong sides of the screen, confusing themselves and eventually failing the song. The crowd did not deal kindly, quickly disposing of the two. “You know, it’s tough to watch your friends get atomic wedgies over something like that, but at the same time you have to be a part of the sport and please the fans,” said one enthusiastic guitar hero. “Screen switching is difficult to deal with, but you have to be able to play from all angles. That’s something you have to know how to do from day one.” With excitement building as the finals slowly approached, a feeling of nervousness began to set in among the participants, and, as expected, a number of participants were forced to drop from the fight for glory. One competitor, ranked 32nd coming in, was stunned to find himself in the final group, and, as a result, passed out during his most important solo of the night. While his female backup kicked him aside and filled in as quickly as possible, the Xbox knew that something was wrong with this and blew up the moment she grabbed the guitar. The stage was now set for the championship. There was no handshake, eye contact, warm-up or even a simple “good luck.” This was the real deal—the big show. This was the one that would decide who would go home with some new lady friends and who would be just another kid to get smacked around and disowned by his father later that night. This one would decide who would win the iTunes gift card. It was on. Beginning with a simple sequence of green-red-yellow combos, the finalists were off to perfect starts. With a relatively easy song, the participants knew the whammy bar would be crucial, and star power timing would clearly be the key to a victory. The finalists were neck and neck, trading off stellar combos as the most dreaded solo in Guitar Hero history approached. But then it happened. As one player finished up his long stretch of 5-note chords, the other thrust backward with the guitar pointing up to initiate star power. He let out a scream. “Nooooooo! My whammy hand!” Getting caught underneath the whammy bar, his right hand had snapped backward with his powerful hip thrust. An on-site trainer rushed to his side and felt his hand. “Sorry pal, this hand won’t be able to whammy for about six months. It’s busted,” the trainer said with a frown on his face. But quickly turning the frown into a smile he exclaimed, “Congratulations, we have a new Guitar Hero champion!” The crowd erupted. It had been decided. A new legend was born.