Thursday, May 21, 2009

324 songs and counting! Alice Cooper and Social D added

"Poison" by Alice Cooper and "Story of My Life" by Social Distortion added. I think the Social D song was on Guitar Hero 2 or 3, but it sounds great and I'm glad to have it. Axel, our drummer, ALWAYS picks "I Was Wrong" by Social Distortion, I don't know if he digs the tune or just loves playing it, but it's a real SOB on bass. I can hang with it half the time, but I'd pick something else if it were on me. Good song though.

Gonna do something a little different with this bulletin. I'm now gonna play 'em and post my scores. Not tryin' to brag, unless you're a freakin savant, your first play ain't gonna be all that special, but if you know the kinds of scores someone gets on songs of the same difficulty tier, maybe it'll help you figure out your own chances at it.

Difficulty is out of 7. Zero filled circles on the difficulty chart is first tier. One filled circle is second tier. All five circles filled is tier 6, and 5 devil heads is the hardest tier, Tier 7. These are both pretty easy in comparison to, say, the Yngwie Malmsteen, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Dream Theater stuff.

Regarding ratings, you're given a points score, a "star" rating out of six, the percentage of notes that you hit, and then the longest unbroken streak of successful notes. Here's how the new songs stacked up, and here's how I did:

STORY OF MY LIFE by Social Distortion from "Greatest Hits" (2007) (originally 1990)
BAND 2/7 GUITAR 2/7 DRUM 3/7 VOCALS 1/7 BASS 1/7
59,132 3 stars 91% 56 note streak
Notes: "Story of My Life" is long and tedious. It starts with one green note, a long green note, and then 2 together, and then repeats a similar pattern on seemingly random colors, with an occasional burst of, like, 6 notes in a row, real close together. There are maybe four orange notes in the whole song, they're not close to other notes, and you can see 'em coming a mile off. Bassists, keep your fingers green-to-blue and take the orange ones as they come. And don't stay on red-to-orange, just hit the orange note and then come on back. This song felt like it was ten minutes long, but I'm just out of practice. It ain't a short song; I'd guess six minutes; Wikipedia gives it as 5:48. Close.

Oh, and though my guitar reported half battery strength, the batteries died partway in. I just turned the guitar back on and kept rockin. After the THIRD death, I changed batteries - and started over. So it's not a true sightread, per se. Close enough though. And it ain't like I did great. Onto "Poison"...

POISON by Alice Cooper from the album "Trash" (1989)
BAND 3/7 GUITAR 5/7 DRUM 2/7 VOCALS 2/7 BASS 2/7
22,892 3 stars 79% 30 note streak
Notes: "Poison" starts out easy as hell, with two sets of two green notes and then a series of long notes on the red-to-orange track, so switch down as soon as the green goes away. Once the long notes are gone, it gets kinda random, with a lot of jumping around and then a long series of notes, with every seventh or eighth just a little off. I got up to half my overdrive, but was afraid to use it, because all the overdrive notes were on those one-off trick parts I couldn't nail. After getting up to 75% on pure chance, I went ahead and went, and even with overdrive (each note counting double) I dipped into the red, but held on for the whole song, which thankfully wasn't long. I could perhaps do better with practice, but this song's really for the real fast-fingered guitarists who can just fly all over the controller, being where they need to be on a split seconds' notice. There were a couple cruel tricks, but mostly it was just straightforward.

Now it's onto bed... I actually intended to follow up those sorry performances with me owning all over "Say it Ain't So" or "Orange Crush" but my wrist is so damn tired (and you'd think being single for 25 years, that wouldn't be a problem...).

In other news though, got some new equipment. Our Xbox 360 got the dreaded Red Rings of Death, so we took it back to Best Buy. Now, Best Buy is the best place to buy electronics, and they're not paying me to say that or anything (they don't know, and probably don't care). The trick is to always spring for the protection plan. Long story short, my camera goes out, and they give me a newer one, since it was actually the bottom of the line of the same brand, but still much better than the one I had. I did however have to buy a new memory card as it used another format. And a new warranty - that's always the gotcha. More recently, we took in a broken wired guitar, they replaced it with a wireless one. Sweet!

So we bring in the Xbox 360 - and now, we paid $350 for the old 20GB "Pro" model. They have the new 60GB "Pro" for $300. After the exchange, since the Xbox is now $50 less, that $50 actually went to us. It covered the warranty renewal (which gives us another year, since it starts now, or rather last week) and they gave us a gift card with the remaining balance. It's like $12! So we got a brand new Xbox 360, a 2-year warranty, and $12 to spend there (most likely on song credits for Rock Band). If you ask me, the Red Rings of Death aren't so dreaded! I think we came out alright!

A couple weeks before this, Jen and I both upgraded our guitars with authentic albeit entry-level guitar straps from First Act - they make a bunch of entry-level musician equipment, most of which can be used by Rock Band and Guitar Hero players. Guitar straps, drumsticks, a drum stool, guitar stands, a lot of nice stuff. (No, they're not paying me to type either - nobody is.) So we got their straps, and while they are sturdier, they still scrape my neck on long setlists. Here's what I did: We're in Walmart last night, and I got this thing meant for seatbelts. It's like a wooly sock thingy that goes around the strap for comfort. I put it on my guitar strap and it feels great. It does tend to slip as I adjust the guitar, so I'll have to work on something to hold it in place. Axel Steel - again, our drummer - is pretty demanding during practice. I'm talking about playing for 4-5 hours straight (well, with breaks - him and Jimmi Rivers (think Bret Hart), our guitarist, are pretty heavy smokers, they can't go too long without a Newport, which works great for me when I'm out of practice.

Now, I hope you realize these band names are made up. Well, they're the names we use in the game. I'm Ben Sisko, named after the captain on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Kinda look like him, but younger and with Costello glasses. Jen's Aura Jo, and the other guys, well, I haven't asked their permission to name them publicly, so they get called by their stage names up here. And Aura Jo on vocals, Jimmi Rivers on guitar, Axel Steel on drums, and last but not least Ben Sisko on bass, we're DysS\MemB/EreD. Don't laugh, either, dammit, we came in 3rd place at the Carolina Gaming Summit Rock Band 2 tournament in Goldsboro, NC this past February, and the 8 guys who bested us couldn't be nicer guys, even though the ones who came in 1st got their ticket to the finals by beating the event promotor's kids. A little bit of backstage trickery there, but they beat us fair and square, so it's all good.

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