This AFI Dallas festival has been ridiculous as far as situations and memories I will cherish forever. Tonight was no different. After three straight films at the Angelika (1 ok, 1 good, 1 not so good), I and AFI programmer James Faust found ourselves back at the Filmmaker Lounge, wherein I gravitated to my normal haunt, the Guitar Hero III lounge.

Anyone who has followed FT over the past year has no doubt heard stories or seen pics of me playing GHIII or Rock Band. I adore the games and I’m not that bad. I can hold my own on Expert, but I’m not a champion player. I entered a tournament once, and got my a*s handed to me. Humility, thy name is Sanchez. Anyway…

I had just finished playing ZZ Top’s “La Grange” on Expert when a fellow slid in next to me, to compete against me. He told me he needed to switch the game to Lefty Flip (meaning, play left-handed), but then proceeded to act like he’d never played the game before. Asked me what songs we good. I told him that if he knew enough to know you could choose Lefty Flip, he probably knew about what songs were good. So he chose the Stones’ “Paint It Black,” and we both chose the Expert difficulty. When all was send and done, I won that Face-Off.

As I stepped away to let someone else play, James took me aside and said, “Do you know who you just played? That’s THE GUY. He went ‘Princess Bride’ on you.”

Backstory: earlier in the festival, the film “Frag” brought the top Guitar Hero player in the world, Daniel Serna, to town and he played challengers on the huge screens outside the American Airlines Arena. Whoever beat him would get $500. I don’t think anyone beat him. As my day and a half at the fest had gone by, folks saw I could play and had been talking about Daniel, and about how I should play him. Well, as you just read, I did play him. And beat him. But he’s not left-handed.

So, pulling on my Philly roots and conjuring up the spirit of Rocky Balboa, I challenged him with the knowledge that he would hand me my a*s on a platter right-handed, but that if I could at least survive it, or at best, give him a run, then I would have proven something to myself. He went right-handed, and chose a song on Expert I can’t beat on my own: Slayer’s “Raining Blood.” And you know what? He beat me… but I held my own, made it through the whole song and even got over 90% on it. Something for a song I couldn’t beat (thank God he didn’t choose Dragonforce, but that may’ve been because I said “any song except Dragonforce”).

We played one more song against each other that evening, Living Colour’s “Cult of Personality,” and he beat me again (and I did worse than normal because the Slayer song was so fast my muscles were involuntarily twitching while I played “CoP” against him). Still… I made it through, and I hung with the champ for a while. And I did beat his worst hand with my best hand 😉

Pictures were taken (quite a few, actually), and when I get them, I will post them. Good stuff. Amazing evening. I am LOVING this festival experience.

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  1. Mike Watt says:

    This is a cool story, Mark. It’s been so many years since I’ve played video games that my last experience was with a joystick that had a single red button on it’s upper left-hand corner, so my hat’s off to you – to mix a metaphor.

    And I love the “he went ‘Princess Bride’ on you.

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