********************If I had my life to live over again I would love to have learned to play drums and been the female equivalent of Ron Bushy, the drummer for Iron Butterfly and master of one of the best drum solos ever in rock & roll history during 2-1/2 minutes of the 1968 rock classic, In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.
Unfortunately, I don't have my life to live over again and besides, where Amanda has been blessed with musical talent, I wasn't. Oh sure, I can tap my foot in beat with the best of them but I'm not coordinated enough to actually play an instrument. Somehow I don't think a kazoo counts! Especially not when it comes to rock bands.
It appears that the closest I am ever going to get to being a rock star is in attempting to play Guitar Hero II, the PS2 game that Amanda's friend Dan left here for awhile so that she can play while he goes to visit his mother in Florida for a few weeks. Amanda first played while visiting her brother Mike while at his house in Rhode Island for Thanksgiving and I think she drove him just as crazy as I drove her yesterday while I was trying to learn to play.
Video games have changed vastly since I was younger. Heck, I'm old enough to remember Pong which was one of the very first video arcade games ever and it didn't require a whole lot of coordination as it simply involved batting a ball back and forth across the TV screen - sort of an electronic ping-pong game. Yawn!
Guitar Hero II actually requires not only hand-eye coordination but a good sense of timing and a love for rock music as songs run the gamut from Nirvana's "Heart Shaped Box" to The Rolling Stones' "Can't You Hear Me Knocking" to The Allman Brothers Band's "Jessica" as well as Avenged Sevenfold's "Beast and the Harlot". Some of the songs I've heard and some I was completely lost on.
The object of the game is for the player to use a guitar peripheral (which resembles a miniature Gibson SG) to play scrolling notes by holding the corresponding fret button on the guitar neck and simultaneously pressing the strum bar. If it sounds easy, trust me - it isn't!
There are four levels you can play at - easy, medium, hard, and expert. My son Mike and Amanda's friend Dan can play quite well at the expert level; Amanda does pretty good on hard and some expert levels; Jamie does pretty well for a new player; and I am a complete hack on the easy level!
I named my band Mom (it seemed somehow appropriate) and chose Judy Nails to be my lead guitarist. In the Career mode we hit the road to play in eight different venues with the difficulty of the songs increasing along with the size of the venue. Play well and the crowd loves you while cheering and clapping but hit too many clunkers or miss too many notes and they get ugly with plenty of catcalls and boos. Even the lead singer manages to look disgusted if you screw up too badly! Needless to say, I had a pretty ticked-off lead singer for most of my sets!
After spending way too many hours at it, I did finally manage to beat the easy level and got a letter from the Death Threat Record Company welcoming me to the "big time" and suggesting I now step it up to the medium level. Uh ... no, I don't think so, I tried one song on medium and I stunk - on ice. Better that I leave the big time to the experts!
Still, it was fun and given the right setting I suppose I could almost manage to pretend that I was a rock star playing in front of my adoring fans ... until I missed too many notes and they boo'd me off the stage!
You'll notice that there are no pictures of me actually playing the game as I prefer not to further embarrass myself by showing you what intense concentration it required for me to just conquer the easy level. Instead you get pictures of Amanda laying down video licks while playing Anthrax's "Madhouse" at the expert level - show off! Maybe someday they'll make "Drum Hero" and then I can show these kids how it's done! Maybe ...