Rip ‘N Time is featured in this month’s Teen Ink magazine–look for it at your high school, local library and online!!!
“Playing Her Guitar Suite” is now
in the Pop/Rock record bin at Amoeba Music on
Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood! (It’s the world’s largest independent record
Store.) We even have our own rack divider with Rip ‘N Time’s name on
When Rip ‘N Time entered stage left, it felt more like they were in a boxing or wrestling ring; the Tarborgs were in the far right corner and the master of ceremonies—none other than Dr. Tarborg himself—held a microphone coming down from ceiling. It was as if they were in ‘Vegas and Rip ’N Time was about to go fifteen rounds in a championship bout with the TARBORGS.
“Let the games begin,” Riley thought.
Then Dr. Tarborg announced in his best ring announcer voice; “In this corner”- and he gestured towards Rip ‘N Time. “Weighing in at . . . ”
“Oh crap, I knew I shouldn’t have had that last apple slice,” said Akemi.
“No time to be joking, Akemi!” said Riley.
“I thought this was going to be a Battle, not a smackdown,” said Langston.
“Not good, not good at all,” said Vincent.
While Rip ‘N Time were talking, Dr. Tarborg had given their collective weight and he continued announcing, “ . . . with an average height of 5’ 7”, is the all human metal band, Rip ’N Time and in the right corner weighing in at two and one half tons, with an average height of fifteen feet, are the Tarborgs.”
He then motioned Riley and the lead Tarborg towards the center of the stage/ring and he summarized the ground rules of the battle. “No hammer-ons or pull-offs above the neck, no dive bombing below the belt, no pinched harmonics behind the ears . . . .” After all the rules and regulations were explained in excruciating detail, Dr Tarborg gestured both the Tarborg and Riley to come closer to each other. He then told them to shake hands. The disparity in size between the two combatants/performers was so obviously disproportionate, that even Dr. Tarborg realized the ridiculousness of his request, so he said in an aside to Riley, “Just bump fists ,my dear . . . it’s all for show, good sportsmanship, you know.” When Riley still balked at that idea, Dr. Tarborg said, “Oh well, I guess we can break with tradition this one time-heh heh. Uh, just fight er . . . play fair, and may the best guitarists win.”
The initial part of the Battle unfolded typically. That is, the two bands traded their respective sets without any major surprises and the crowd responded in the usual fashion. Rip ‘N Time played their cover sets quite well and the crowd cheered wildly (with a requisite smattering of boos). The Tarborgs played, as expected, perfectly—not a single mistake. The crowd cheered them on as well, and even the great Tarborgs couldn’t escape a small group of boo-birds. This is how it went from 8:00 to 8:31:59.
At precisely 8:32, things went horribly wrong. Rip ‘N Time had just played their last set and the Tarborgs seamlessly segued into the final part of the Battle. They didn’t hesitate- they went straight for the jugular– they smelled human guitarist blood. It seems the Tarborgs had been holding back and now they were taking the Battle to another realm.
The Tarborgs played with a blinding speed and a controlled technical proficiency, and their technique was at the service of their sound. The Tarborgs employed a six-hand tapping technique to slide chromatically up and down their fretless guitar necks–creating Schoenbergian 48 tone, just intonation, Frankenstein monster-scales of the Milton Babbitt/Harry Partch variety. Their biologically attached guitars made it possible to dive bomb without whammy bars; the Tarborgs simply bent their guitars. In fact, they were twisting and turning their guitars as if they were made of rubber. At times there were as many as twelve guitars bending and twisting their dive bombs, with a total of 72 different harmonics being played simultaneously. The dive bombing, pinging harmonics sounded like invisible meteoric sound-showers combined with icicle slivers on shards of glass. Pythagorean equations were being translated into sensuous and seductive sonorities. The Tarborgs were not only bending sound, they were bending minds!
The crowd seemed to be under a spell– totally mesmerized, captivated and yes, maybe even hypnotized by the Tarborgs. The crowd wasn’t just cheering now—it was a wild uncontrollable mob frothing at its collective mouth. Not a single boo was to be heard, for no one had ever witnessed such guitar wizardry before.
To Riley it appeared that the crowd was no longer human but a sea of loud, groaning zombies and laughing ghouls. Riley was frozen in fear. Her hands were stiff, as if they were no longer attached to her body–let alone her soul. A dizziness and disorientation was starting to overtake her. Langston was unable to speak—his beautiful four octave range voice cowering in a corner of some distant part of his soul. Akemi stood motionless, staring at the two sad tears that glistened on her once-shiny bass. Vincent’s drum sticks seemed fused to his unresponsive hands, as if he were trapped in a Freddy movie.
Riley started to think, “What is happening? The Tarborgs seemed to have stolen Rip ’N Time‘s game plan. Have they somehow co-opted the advice of the Seven Legends?–have we been sold out? Has this been an elaborate set-up?” It did seem that the situation did not auger well for Rip ’N Time. And yet—and yet. Riley then thought, “No! Don’t succumb to paranoia. This is just another Tarborg trick, a mind game—we can win this Battle. We can beat them–not at their game but with our game. Let’s do it!” She looked each member of Rip ’n Time in the eye and they knew that Riley was now truly in possession of the seven entities’ power. They then began to play the Playing Her Guitar Suite.
At first you could barely hear what Rip ’N Time was playing–it looked as if they were just silently going through the motions. And the crowd, hardly noticing Rip ’N Time, was still in the grips of the Tarborg’s mind control. Then something quite magical happened: Langston sang with a courage and confidence like never before—Akemi played with pure emotion and feeling, and Vincent played smart. The dreamy metal sounds of Rip ’N Time were starting to be heard above the Tarborgs. It wasn’t a question of volume levels – the Tarborgs weren’t playing softer –Rip ’N Time wasn’t playing louder. Rip ’N Time’s music was simply replacing the sound of the Tarborg.
The momentum started to shift around the second chorus of Playing Her Guitar. It was at this point that Rip ’N Time had overtaken the Tarborg. Langston’s powerful voice cut through the din as he sang,
She likes playing her guitar.
She likes playing her guitar.
She just likes playing her guitar!
The bridge quickly followed, and the ethereal choir-like voices singing,
Playing her guitar!
Playing her guitar!
coupled with a chunky heavy metal riff, signaled that the tide had definitely turned.
Technical wizardry notwithstanding, the Tarborg could not answer in kind –they had no mouths! Rip ’N Time could sing. They had voices!
By the time they had started the first verse of Twisting Road, Riley was in the throes of a supernatural state. She had completely surrendered her soul to her trusty Explorer and she let her fingers do what they will. Riley and her guitar became as one. She truly was a vessel now, bypassing thought– channeling every great blues guitarist. This time was different than the rehearsal. Pinched harmonics combined with perfectly tuned ghost bends and pre-bends, created a soulful journey of which she was barely aware. Just as they had rehearsed, they gradually fake -faded out — Riley wailing in the highest part of the fret board—and the entire band gradually slowing down all together in a dramatic high register climax. This time however, just before they were going to end the song–as the last chord was fading out–Langston started doing his palm mute, chunky-metal-rhythm riff . . . softly at first and then gradually increasing in volume. “OK . . . OK! Nice, I like it I like it! Well let’s return the favor . . . how you like me now, Mr. Langston?” said Riley and with that, Riley broke into a tongue-in-cheek, sassy and impromptu wah wah pedal solo. Langston and Riley were smiling now so broadly at each other that they were almost laughing—they were just so happy at this surprising turn of musical events. Well the song is called Twisting Road, right?–they both seemed to be thinking.
By this time the crowd had transformed as well. As Riley looked out onto the audience, all she could see now was a sea of beautiful people—wonderful, guitar-loving human beings—smiling smiles of joy and warmth. It was pretty much over for the Tarborgs. Riley had played with so much heart and so much passion that . . . well . . . one by one, the Tarborgs fell down to defeat.
There would be no premature celebration for Rip ‘N Time though. Riley thought of the countless horror movies in which the evil monster makes a shocking last ditch attempt to kill, and the equally countless situations in championship sporting events when the likely winner lets their guard down. Riley said, “No way–close ‘em out—make sure–don’t take any chances. Let’s finish this battle as planned–with the final song in the Suite.” And that they did.
The dreamlike, lush, choral and orchestral guitar playing in the aptly titled Suite Dream, provided the perfect finale and was indeed necessary. Rip ‘N Time was not piling on– they weren’t padding their lead. The Tarborg now knew that it was hopeless to win by musical means, so they resorted to brute violence. Even as they lay on the floor, they thrashed about with their gigantic arms and legs. Their intent was simple and obvious – they wanted to kill Rip ‘N Time by any means they could. Eventually however, even the last, twitching Tarborg succumbed to the beauty of Rip ’N Time’s musical message of dreamy metal love. Suite Dream calmed the savage Tarborg as they lay peacefully in gentle repose. It was as it should be, for Rip ‘N Time had never had any intention of killing the Tarborgs –only to prevent them from destroying human guitarists—that’s all. But there would be no award to commemorate the event—there would be no official trophy-giving ceremony, for Dr. Tarborg had left the building. He had disappeared into oblivion, and Rip ’N Time was just grateful to be alive.
The outcome is not surprising if you think about it for one tiny little second. How could it be any other way? The inevitability of the Curse and Legacy made it so. Of course, the story has endless variations, even though the outcome is always the same. This time the threat to the guitar’s existence was defeated by simplicity itself. You see, with all of Dr. Tarborg’s meticulous design of the Tarborgs, he left out the most important component of all —heart. Therefore, the Tarborgs were simply incapable of playing guitar with any feeling.
So once again, guitar players throughout the world have been saved —this time by one extraordinary girl by the name of Riley Ripintyme and her band with the similar sounding name, Rip’ N Time. The Curse, the Legacy and the on-going story of Playing Her Guitar Suite ensures–for now—that human guitar playing will survive.
“Are you ready to go home, Mr.Snugglewhumps?” asked Riley.
“Oh, yeah,” said Mr. Snugglewhumps.
One more thing–the sound of a filtered tamboura magically appeared, then gradually faded into a nebulous ambience, and from some distant place beyond the walls; whispered repeatedly–ever so softly–came the words, “Riley! . . . Riley! . . . Riley!…”
Riley feels good. Rip ‘N Time feels good. “Let’s do it. Bring it on. No time like the present,” thought Riley. So just minutes before the Battle of the Bands, Riley summons the spirits of the Seven Legends of the Guitar. She recalls the advice given by each Legend, and combines these words of wisdom to form a single power of sound. Riley feels strong . . . and ready for battle.
Riley was surprised, then, to see everyone else just kind of –well, just a little too relaxed—nonchalant. It wasn’t just a pose– they weren’t compensating for a hidden fear. It seemed as if this Battle of the Bands was just a hoot– an adventure–exciting and fun. But they didn’t seem to comprehend what was at stake –the danger of it all, for God’s sake!
From the other side of the aisle (Langston, Akemi and Vincent), the feeling was, “Hey we’re doing well –we’re playing unbelievably great as a unit– the Playing Her Guitar Suite was never better. We are a young band. If we don’t win this time, we’ll get’em next time.” All of Riley’s exhortations and dire warnings were pretty much taken as hyperbole . . . “She’s just trying to psyche us up– keep us going– make us play better.” And as far as the Magical Land of Guitar and the Seven Legends, well that just enhanced the theme park vibe.So it really was a variation on the ‘Failure to Communicate’ theme. It was a classic case of rock ‘n’ roll band inner conflict. The leader thinks that the other members aren’t taking the band seriously enough, while the other members believe that the leader is taking things way too seriously. Of course–in this unique instance–it was a whole lot more than a common variety, communication and conflict issue; and Riley was unquestionably in the right.
Nevertheless, it was bound to come down to this, and a resolution was imminent and totally necessary. Langston spoke first, while Riley’s posture revealed an aura that the band had never seen before.
Riley had delivered her answers with such authority and seriousness that the band was truly taken aback, and they all fell silent for the tiniest of moments. By the expressions on each member’s face, Riley was now certain: “We all are ready, now.”
They all followed Riley to the rehearsal space; and as they were walking down the hall towards it, they could see an overflow crowd spilling out into the hallway. As they jostled their way into the room, they noticed that everyone had All-Access backstage badges; and they started to recognize some of the people.
“Hey, these are all the music reviewers and radio station people that Emily knows!” said Riley.
“How’d they get here?” Vincent asked.
“Time travel, silly cat, haven’t you been reading the book?”
Mr.Snugglewhumps looked up and said, “Hey, I’m the only cat around here!”
Gradually, everyone became aware of Rip ‘N Time’s presence and a collective and spontaneous cheer erupted. A joyful, chaotic reunion-vibe ensued– high fives, hugs, fist bumps and various happy conversations started to instantaneously take place.
One conversation started out just a tad edgy, however…
Berenis Reyes from the iTiger in Arizona looked at Vincent and said, “Why so sullen?”
“You unfollowed me “
“Oh get over it—everybody follows and unfollows all the time every day.”
Dan Sardaro ( Knight Crier, Lansdale, Pennsylvania) joined in by saying, “Actually, it is becoming a sore point—there’s an app now that I’ve got that…tells you who follows and un…”
Riley interrupted and said, “Hey, you’re Berenis–thank you for the review– the ‘Santana’ reference was amazing!!—oh and don’t pay any attention to Vincent.”
“No problem, my pleasure. As for Vincent; don’t worry—I don’t,” said Berenis.
Then Riley recognized Dan Sardaro and said, “Dan, thank you so much for coming!”
“How could I not? You know you’ll always have my support. In fact, the best thing I could do to support you guys is to bring Basic Vacation with me. Rip ‘N Time’s great, but in this instance I just think that they will have a better chance against the Tarborgs. In fact, I think they’ll kick their asses!!
You know, you’re right. I’ve heard their music and they would be a better choice than Rip ‘N Time. Dan, there’re probably a thousand –or a hundred thousand—guitarists better’n me but…”said Riley
“I’ll do it—I’ll face the Tarborgs –they won’t stand a chance against me!!!,” said Sean Ashe.
“Sean Ashe, undoubtedly the greatest unknown guitarist in the universe!! Thank you for coming!!” said Riley.
“Oh, 125,000 followers on twitter is not exactly unknown,” said Sean.
“I didn’t mean it that way. I just meant, compared to Clapton, Hendrix– you know?”
“OK, I see your point”, said Sean.
Alright Sean–no qualifiers– you are the best, period,” said Riley.
‘’Thanks!” said Sean.
“But here’s the thing. The goddess of guitar has chosen me— I’m a descendant of Ningal and Tarborg is a descendant of King Etana. This is a 5,000 year grudge-match—and that’s the way it’s gotta be. Like it or not.
“I understand,” said Sean.
Riley noticed Jemel Fleming (he’s tall and towers over everybody) in another part of the room and she wound her way through the crowd to see him. “I just wanted to thank you personally for…”
Just then, Monique Dobson of BMC News came over and said to Riley, “I’ve listened to your CD, like fifty times—you’re amazing!!”
“You’re amazing! I’ve read your beautifully written review fifty times –thank you so much!!” said Riley.
Meanwhile, in yet another part of the cramped and packed quarters, Storm Taylor was talking to Anthony Airdo, “I really enjoyed reading your review; I guess we’re both becoming part of the lore now,” said Storm.
“Yeah, right. I’ll just be an eight year old boy for a couple of hours and…” said Anthony.
“Enjoy the ride –it’s a jingle jangle jamboree!!” said Storm.
Next to them, Emily Woodbind was having an animated conversation with Jennifer Jones (JJ the DJ at 94.9 FM-The River.) “JJ, it’s great to meet you in person and I hate to sound like a broken CD, but…”said Emily.
“You want to know about airplay,” said JJ.”
“Well yeah…”answered Emily.
“It’s come down to this: my boss says that if Rip ‘N Time beats the Tarborgs in a Battle of the Bands at the Twisty Road Café; it’s a go –we’ll spin the CD”
Just then, Annika Bergstrom (KRUI Iowa City, Iowa) tried to squeeze by. Not wishing to miss an opportunity, Emily grabbed Annika’s arm and said, “Hey, you said that you’re considering Playing Her Guitar for airplay…and…”
“I am…Considering…” said Annika.
“…Well…” said Emily.
“ I overheard what JJ said and I’m going to take ‘a wait and see approach’ as well—if Rip ‘N Time wins; It’s a go—we’ll put Playing Her Guitar in regular rotation,” said Annika.
At the same time, Langston was talking to Parisa Eshrati (MD at KAMP Radio Tucson, Arizona) and Brett Botting (CD reviewer at KAMP).“Thank you Brett, for comparing me to Ira Kaplan– it’s an honor. He is one of my favorites and a huge influence,” said Langston.
“No problem, Playing Her Guitar is a rockin’ little ditty,” answered Brett.
Then Langston directed his words toward Parisa, “You know , we’re getting a following In Arizona and it would be great if you gave Playing Her Guitar a spin…”
“We already have …it’s in our stacks. It’s s been getting airplay…”
“Oh, um…like I was saying… thank you so much for giving our CD airplay…”
Elsewhere in the room, Katelyn Cimini was talking to Grace Donnelly, “I listen to Playing Her Guitar Suite on a regular basis –there’s a uniqueness to it that…”
“Are you going to write a review?” asked Grace.
“Yeah, In January, how about you?” replied Katelyn.
“It just came out in print, so all 4,000 students at Hamilton High now know about Rip ‘N Time! The online version will be up tomorrow,” said Grace.
Snippets of similar dialogues were being heard all over the room—not necessarily directly related to the Battle of the Bands, however.
Philip Cortez (Lion Tales, San Jose , California )asked Nick Antone(The Purple Quill , Cincinnati Ohio), “Hey, did you ever check out my band, Crimson?”
“Oh yeah, I’m going to write a review next semester.”
Sereena Gee was asking Akemi about bass guitar technique.
Nathan Sechrist was talking about a new band he just interviewed.
Babysue was talking to Susan Jane (producer, Bosue Recordz). It was hard to make out what they were saying; but Susan’s affirmative nods and babysue’s body language suggested that advice was being given. (If babysue was giving it, it’s gotta be good.)
Jessica Roberson of the McIntosh Trail (Peachtree City, Georgia) was speaking into a hand-held recorder, as if she was gathering information for an article.
Layne Garrett of Pell City Alabama had a completely different take on the battle: “This whole Tarborg situation is more suited for Sam and Dean Winchester –they’d know what to do; this whole trip is becoming supernatural.” She said to one of her colleagues at the Panther Paw.
At this point, fragments of various conversations were combining to create a murmur-buzz of white –no, pink noise. Suddenly, the Horn of Gabriel sounded throughout the room. All conversations ceased. The sound of the horn was like an announcement— a clarion call.
All eyes and ears focused on the origin of the sound; and it was coming from …Alex… Alex Helm of the Marcus High School Marquee!! She’d brought her trombone and a magnificent bell-like tone was emitting from her horn. It did seem at this moment that the portal had expanded and everyone here was in a place where time, space and music intersect. Then she stopped.
Alex spoke: “Let’s remember why we’re here. We need to support Rip ‘N Time in this apocalyptic Battle of the Bands—the very existence of all guitarists in the entire universe is at stake. We need to be in the audience.
No one questioned her. No one said a word. Everyone just silently filed out of the room
Alex carefully placed her trombone in her case, smiled and walked out of the room as well.
After everyone had left the room, Rip ‘N Time took a collective deep breath as if to say, well that was fun. But now, to paraphrase Alex, it was time to deal with the task at hand. So they surveyed what ‘tools’ were at their disposal. There were a number of small amps, a few effects, a mini sound system, a decent mic and an adequate (if stripped down) drumset.
Riley was always the acknowledged leader, but she seemed more in control now and everyone seemed to be paying closer attention to what she was saying. “OK, guys– looking at this schedule, here’s the way I’m thinking: for the 8, 3 and 1 minute sets we can do covers –at least we should be able to do a fake job anyway. Then when we go head to head with the Tarborgs, we just go for it with the Playing Her Guitar Suite. We’ve got about a couple of hours, so let’s go,” said Riley.
“Um, I . . . hate to be Sally Speedbump . . . ‘cause you really seem like you’re on a roll– but you are aware that Playing Her Guitar Suite has not been written yet, right?” Akemi said.
“I am aware of that. Thank you Akemi but you are only half right; Playing Her Guitar Suite has been written –just not in its current version,” said Riley. “But you know what? We’re going to win this Battle –I know we are. If I can just conjure up some of the things these great legends bestowed upon us, we’ll make it .And I’m going to start by playing that exercise that Maestro Albeniz gave me– only I’m going to do it with a pick on my Explorer.” Riley started doing the exercise and then did a little hammer-on with the left hand on the 3rd string –6th to 8th fret.
“Hey! That sounds pretty cool,” said Akemi.
Riley kept on playing and, keeping the right hand picking the same, she moved her left hand to different parts of the fretboard. She stopped for a moment and then asked Langston, “Remember those three chords Camille used to get us to time travel?”
“Yeah, I think so,” Langston said.
“Good. Play those chords while I’m playing my riff and then just kind of move them around the fretboard, keeping the first and second strings open—let them ring,” Riley said.
Riley went back to playing the riff and Langston played the chords with it.
“I think we might have an intro there, but let’s go back to that later.” Riley went back to playing the original riff and just then Langston started singing something about a girl playing her guitar. Before anyone realized it, Langston had come up with several verses, a pre-chorus and a pretty strong—no, great–chorus.
“I told you . . . I told you! I told you Langston was good at coming up with lyrics!” said Vincent.
“For sure, but I’m not too keen on that one pre-chorus, ‘People say she’s not so smart, but man she plays with so much heart,’” said Riley. “I like the . . . ‘Heart’ part but the ‘She’s not so smart,’— hey ya know– can a girl get some respect?” said Riley.
“Riley, I’m not crazy about that rhyme either –it was supposed to be ‘some people say . . . ’ but I just couldn’t fit it in right. ‘Sorry. Uh, poetic license?” said Langston.
“That’s fine. I’m already over it.” said Riley. “Let’s go through it from the top.”
Riley started playing an intro based on the exercise riff used for the verses, pre-chorus and chorus. Then, after a few measures, Akemi came in with a very tasty bass riff. Vincent held back until the very end of the intro, doing some dramatic tom rolls and cymbal splashes. He cut out perfectly, as Langston entered with the vocal. They added a bridge. Akemi arranged the harmonies and . . . not too bad. Not bad at all!
“Ok good, we’re doing good, but before we get too full of ourselves and nominate Rip ’N Time for a best new artist Grammy, let’s get another tune and let’s call it ‘Twisting Road’,” said Riley.
“Now I’m thinking, ‘Sonny’ . . . blues—just bare my soul—close my eyes and let my fingers play my heart. Um . . . let’s take the ‘Playing Her Guitar’ progression, and Langston can you play rhythm? –kind of a steady eighth note strum –through a chorus effect. Can you do that for me, Langston?” asked Riley.
“Yeah, yeah for sure,” said Langston.
“Great, then after the bridge I’m going to do a double stop, parallel thirds,’50s rock thing followed by kind of an anthemic melodic metal solo, and I was wondering; can you do that chunky metal, palm mute thing you do, while I’m soloing?” said Riley.
“Of course,” said Langston.
“Great. After that we’ll do a variation on the ‘Playing Her Guitar’ intro; then back into the blues while you go back to the eighth note strumming,” said Riley.
“Alright!” said Langston.
“Akemi, Vincent—keep it simple – solid. You know what I’m talkin’ about,” Riley said.
“Oh yeah,” Akemi and Vincent said.
“For the finale, let’s get super dreamy—real sweet,” Riley said.
“Hey, I know—how ‘bout callin’ it, ‘Suite Dream?’,” said Akemi.
“Nice, Akemi. That title works perfectly for what we’re going to play. I want you and Langston to play the Playing Her Guitar riff along with me. I want you both to play the riff on different parts of the fretboard, so we’ll have this three part harmony going on. Also, use lots of reverb and chorus–that should give us a nice, thick, lush sound.
“Vincent, very light drumming on Suite Dream. ‘Sorry. — I have my reasons –trust me on this one.
“Let’s run through the Playing Her Guitar Suite from the top—all three songs, in succession–one right after another, as many times as we can before the show,” said Riley. Everyone nodded in agreement and they did just what Riley said.
Leaving Blues Delta and reentering the path, the band caught a glimpse of light further down the magical archway. When they reached the end, they were greeted by the bright lights of the Twisty Road Café. There were cars of every era– exotic, classic–every model and make, and people were funneling into the Café’s small entrance. Then they saw it. The neon sign read, “BATTLE OF THE BANDS TONIGHT; RIP ‘N TIME VS. TARBORGS.”
Although Riley was glad that the band had finally arrived at their predetermined destination, she was confused by the Twisty Road Café’s ready accessibility. “I mean, this was quite an ordeal for us to get here– Magical Land of Guitar, the Seven Legends and so on and now it looks like you can drive right in! What was that Travel Goddess thinking?” said Riley. “We’ve hiked so far –we’ve gone over the hill! We’re on the other side of the Santa Monica Mountains!” said Riley.
“Well we’re here, let’s just get on with it,” said Langston.
“No, I want some answers,” said Riley. So she clicked her toggle switch three times and . . . .
“What’s up?” asked the Travel Goddess.
“Why didn’t you tell us about an easier way to get here?” Riley asked.
“I told you. There is an easier way—the 405—but it’s closed,” the Travel Goddess said.
“That’s next week!” said Riley. Oh never mind, let me see your boss!”
“I told you before; she’s not my . . . oh whatever,” said the Travel Goddess.
And then the Goddess of Guitar appeared.
“Maybe, Oh great Goddess, you can clarify some things for me. First you say that the Twisty Road Café is surrounded by the Magical Land of Guitar, and now it looks to me like a typical club in the Valley. I mean, with all due respect . . . which or what is it?” asked Riley.
“It is both. For you and Rip ‘N Time, it is in the center of the Magical Land of Guitar and it was totally necessary for you and the band to follow this particular path (not the 405) to the Twisty Road Café. You see, it is an imaginary land where the Café exists –for you. For others, it is as you say– a club where one can listen to music, have a good time and so on,” said the Goddess.
“Well what about all these other people here– are they aware of the Magical Land of Guitar?” asked Riley.
“That I cannot say–perhaps, perhaps not,” said the Goddess. “What I do know, is that the mission has not changed– you must defeat the Tarborgs in a Battle of the Bands at the Twisty Road Café. You know what to do,” said the Goddess. And with that she vanished.
“‘You know what to do . . . you know what to do’ . . . r . . . i . . . ght. But wait, she’s right. Riley, think, think– think back to the curse and the legacy ‘ . . . Seven . . . entities . . . possessing individual powers that when joined together would defeat . . . threats to the guitar’s existence.’ The Seven Legends are, of course, the present day entities and the Goddess said specifically that I am the vessel for the Seven Legends. Yeah, yeah OK . . . OK,” said Riley.
Riley closed her eyes just for a moment, and just the mere fact of thinking of all the lore surrounding the Playing Her Guitar Suite and all its implications made her shudder. She also had a sensation that she had never experienced before—a sense of purpose…strength of will, confidence and a new found . . . power. When Rip ‘N Time reached the performer’s entrance at the side of the Café, they were greeted by a couple of techs –one for sound and the other for lighting. They said that they just wanted to introduce themselves and would be available for any needs or requests that the band might require. Just then, a young production assistant/stage manager type arrived with a clipboard in hand and directed the band to their dressing rooms and told them where to find their rehearsal space. “Good hunting,” she said and then, “I’ll be back in a minute with your time slot and stage direction,”
She came back with an 8×10 one sheet neatly typed:
RIP ‘N TIME stage left; amps set up, drum riser position, lighting– predetermined per agreement.
TARBORGS: stage right; no amps, no drums necessary.
TARBORGS: 8:00 to 8:13 RIP ‘N TIME: 8:13 to 8:21
TARBORGS: 8:21 to 8:26 RIP ’N TIME: 8:26 to 8:29
TARBORGS: 8:29 to 8:31 RIP ‘N TIME: 8:31 to 8:32
RIP ‘N TIME and TARBORGS: 8:32 TO?
Riley held Mr. Snugglewhumps while she read the sheet and the rest of the band huddled around her looking over her shoulder. Before the stage manager could leave, Riley said, “Hey, what is this?”
“What do you mean?” the stage manager asked.
“First of all ,how did you come up with this time schedule –I mean the Tarborgs get almost twice as much time to play—how’d that happen?” Riley asked.
“Coin toss, you lost,” she said.
“Coin toss –whwhw what coin toss?” said Riley.
The stage manager just stared back blankly as if looking through or past Riley.
“Well what about our so called sound checks and how we’re going to set up . . . and . . . ?” asked Riley.
It’s in the contract—read the fine print,” said the stage manager.
“OK, forget that– I can see where this is going and yeah I figured out that Rip ’N Time and the TARBORGS are going to eventually play at the same time. But at least tell us what the 8:32 to question mark means,” said Riley.
At that point, the stage manager turned towards the door and let out with a grade “A”, B-flick, mirthless laugh that echoed down the hallway like a fart from Satan.
“That stinks,” said Vincent.
“She stinks,” said Riley.
“Yeah, what a beeyatch,” said Akemi.
“Amen,” said Langston.
“Hiss,” said Mr. Snugglewhumps.
“OK gang, we just had our melancholy moment—we’ve got to move on. Let’s get to the rehearsal space,” said Riley.
“Riley, I am so sorry that I put you through that experience but it was the only thing I could do to impress upon you what is at stake—and I really think you understand now, don’t you?” said Sonny.
“Yes, I do, Sonny. The Tarborg future of guitar represents soulless playing—playing without heart.” Riley said.
“Exactly. Lesson learned,” said Sonny.
“But Sonny, what I don’t understand is, if the Tarborgs won –what’s the point of even playing in this Battle of the Bands –I mean it’s futile, right?” Riley said.
“So Top Tarborg gave you the ‘Message for Sonny’ routine? I’d like to break a fretboard off up his Tarborg ass . . . Oh I’m sorry, Riley, but he gets to me. I . . . I need to get back in character, stay on our message . . . .” said Sonny.
“Riley, there are many futures. They haven’t happened yet. The one you just experienced simply will not exist and will be replaced by your actions in the Battle of the Bands at the Twisty Road Café. If Rip ‘N Time wins—which they must—then the future that you just experienced will be replaced by a better one,” Sonny said.
“OK.” said Riley.
“Riley, time is of the essence. Tempus Fugit. The Battle is soon before us. So I will speak directly. It is imperative that your playing be imbued with your soul—not my soul –not ‘soul’ in a general sense—your soul. There are ways, methods and means for facilitating this. There are certain scales that are conducive to bringing this about. I call them scales of the soul. You probably know them as blues scales. Playing with blues scales allows the heart and soul to come through. In order for them to sound right, however, certain notes must be approached–bent if you will, and bent in a certain way. Caressed and filled with love . . . .” Sonny said. “But before I continue, you are familiar with blues scales patterns, right?”
“Sure,” Riley said. “Like in E, it’s a pentatonic scale and then you bend the G natural up to G sharp gradually–but not quite all the way up. I usually use this scale with an E major chord in an E blues progression.” Riley then played the scale at the 12th fret ascending and descending.
“Good,” said Sonny. “Now play that exact same scale, only this time, imagine your fingers as messengers from your soul and these messengers are showing your soul to the listener.”
Riley played the scale again as Sonny instructed.
“Ah, so much better,” Sonny said.
“Yeah, I feel that way too–I really do feel a difference,” said Riley. “But I wonder, can the listener tell the difference?” said Riley.
“The important thing is that you know the difference,” said Sonny.
“Right,” said Riley.
“OK then, now tell me what you know about the C# blues scale,” said Sonny.
“Well, pretty much the same as E, only now you play the same pattern starting on the 9th fret and you play the C# blues scale with a C# major chord,” said Riley.
“Good, but you can also play that C# blues scale with the aforementioned E major chord—giving your solos a different dimension—still bluesy, mind you, but a sweeter sound than the E blues scale.” Sonny said. Sonny then demonstrated the two different scales while Riley played the accompanying chords.
“Yeah!” Riley said.
“You can also mix and match by starting a phrase with one scale and ending with another.” With that, Sonny played a seamless combination of the two scales.
“That is nice!” said Riley. “Can I use that lick?” she said.
“Of course, make it you own. You don’t have to ask for permission—no one else does,” said Sonny.
“I know what you’re sayin’, Sonny. You just haven’t received enough credit for your playing,” said Riley.
“Or royalties—but enough about Sonny’s Saga of Sorrow—let’s move on. Have you ever heard of Slippery String Tomkins?” said Sonny.
“Yeah! Isn’t he the guitarist who could bend a string one full octave?” said Riley.
“One and the same. In fact, we came from the same part of the Delta, but it wasn’t until we met in Chicago that we started to trade licks, stories, and techniques— whatever.
“It was on one of those long, protracted ‘whatever’ nights that Slippery decided to take the concept of ‘Fingers as Messengers from Your Soul’ to a whole ‘nother level. You see, Slippery really believed that his fingers were connected to his soul. To Slippery, ‘Fingers as Messengers’ was fact—not figure of speech. At the same time, Slippery was getting increasingly frustrated with the strings on his guitar. He would say things like, ‘My strings are too stiff—I want them to slip and slide,’ He started to feel that they were betraying him— that the strings weren’t responding to what his fingers were trying to say. So that night—and I saw this with my own eyes—Slippery threw away his 6th string and put the A string where it had been; then he placed the D string where the A had been and so on and then when he came upon the empty spot for where the high E string would be, he replaced it with an A tenor banjo string!
“Then Slippery played. The sounds coming from his guitar were pure and true but after the first few notes I really can’t recall any details. It was as if I were under a spell. What I do remember very vividly, is that I saw his very soul and though it was filled with sorrow, it had an indescribable beauty. What it also revealed was a power that I had never seen nor heard before.” Sonny said.
“Ooh, I wish I could’ve been there to see and hear that!” Riley said.
“Yes, sure—but don’t you see—you can harness the power of YOUR SOUL in the same way!” said Sonny. “Riley, what I just told you wasn’t just an entertaining anecdote. It is a directive wrapped in an entertaining anecdote.”
“But here’s the thing Sonny—I already use really light gauge strings on my guitar. So isn’t that kind of the same thing? Won’t I get the same effect?” said Riley.
“No . . . and . . . No.” said Sonny.
And that . . . was that.
“Ultimately the things I’ve said are merely tips and techniques–a means to an end. This will be a guitar battle of the mind and heart. The Tarborgs will try to impress and intimidate with all their high speed technique and wizardry—but that is all it is. They will try to trick you into answering in kind.
“Do not play their game. Do not fall into the trap of trying to play too fast. Riley, you will win the Battle —just play every single note with all your heart,” said Sonny.
The Time Travel Trip brought Riley 1000 years into the future– 3013AD. The first thing she noticed was that everyone was playing guitar. Little old ladies sitting outside of nursing homes cradled guitars as if they were knitting sweaters. Toddlers at daycare centers were playing guitars– tiny babies in carriages were playing mini- guitars. Construction workers, office workers sales people, business people, traffic cops –all playing guitar. EVERYONE.
Walking down the different streets, Riley was absolutely fascinated by how the guitar ruled every aspect of the populace’s daily affairs. All the names of various establishments had guitar or guitar-themed names. For example, department stores had names like Tars ‘R us, Tarmart, Tarstrums and J. C. Fretboard. Yogurt stores were named Fretopia or Fretplay. Coffee shops were either named Tarbucks or Picks. Similarly fast food restaurants had names like Fretburger, Fretboard King, La Guitarra Loco, Baja Frets, Kentucky Fret Pickin’, Guitar Hut, Papa Frets Pickups and so on.
Television shows were guitar-centric as well; “Two and a Half Guitarists,” “Desperate Guitar Players,” “Wheel of Guitarists.” All movies were guitar themed; “Night of the Living Guitar,” “Lost Guitar,” “Guitar Crazy,” “28 Guitars Later,” “Phone call from a Guitar.”
It was a guitartopia. Riley was starting to wonder why Sonny had been so concerned. As she surveyed this wonderful guitar land she thought, “Rip ’N Time surely must have won the Battle of the Bands.” How could it be otherwise? — all these happy people playing guitar. “Hah,” she thought. “Dr. Tarborg could not destroy the human spirit.”
She also noticed that the people were not speaking in the usual way but seemed to talk by way of their guitars, and it was a language she had never heard before. It sounded like rapidly moving whammy bars on electric guitars connected to wah wah pedals. She could see their mouths moving but the sound seemed to be coming from elsewhere– hidden amplifiers perhaps. Everyone seemed well versed in this language and everyone seemed to understand each other. She started to think of it as Guitarspeak.
Since guitar playing as well as verbal communication were one and the same, it was natural that everyone was highly proficient at playing guitar. Riley thought, “I’ve never heard so many virtuosic and technically advanced guitar players in all my life!” Impressed as she was however, she began to think, “Something seems to be missing in their playing . . . I can’t place it . . . well maybe it’s just this Guitarspeak that’s making me feel . . . .” She tried to dismiss the intruding bad vibe and said to herself, “Oh…just enjoy the moment.”
This Guitarspeak was a bit confusing but Riley was having such a good time that she decided to stop in at a local giggle joint, the Don’t Fret Just Laff bar. The dim lighting of the club emphasized the well- lit stage area. The comedian was a hologram from 500 years ago and the projection screen behind was showing various scenes of Las Vegas. On the lower part of the projection were subtitles. The subtitles were in Guitarspeak. For extra comedic effect the comedian was speaking in the old guttural language of antiquity—English. The comedian, holding a guitar of course, was riffing (what else?) on the ‘lonely guitar shtick’– trying to pedal the old wah wah bit. He was a real guitar nut and the audience was giving him a lot of feedback—really stringing him along—amplifying what he was saying. He returned the favor by tapping into their inner single-coil pickup lines. He seemed to focus on the younger, prettier girls in the crowd with lines like; “Two guitar necks sitting at a bar; first guitar neck asks the other neck; ‘Why so glum? Fret bored?’ Does your guitar neck? Like I always tell my music . . . Stand! Hey baby, ya know why I got a tuning fork? Cause I like to eat tunes!! Speaking of eating, you can tune a guitar but you can’t tuna fish! Hahahahah!”
The entire audience was in a collective fit of apoplectic laughter– except for Riley. The comedian’s references to food only served to make Riley hungry, so she looked for a place to get a snack.
She happened upon a bakery which looked remarkably familiar–yet had a disconcerting feel about it. When she entered she saw that the display counter down the aisle was filled with all kinds of tantalizing sweets and pastries but strangely, there was no aroma. And when the person behind the counter turned around, Riley was taken aback to see Mr. Lee (Akemi’s Dad) who was now holding a guitar. ‘Curiouser and curiouser’ Riley thought. Still she was very hungry, so she pointed to a croissant and at the coffee urn. Mr. Lee nodded and placed the items on top of the counter. The symbols on the cash register indicated that method of payment was in the form of guitar accessories; so Riley gave Mr. Lee two packages of guitar strings and he gave her five picks back in change.
Riley took the items to a nearby table and sat down, taking care not to remove her guitar. Although the pastry looked absolutely delectable, it didn’t seem to smell right and the coffee didn’t seem right either. Nevertheless, being hungry, she took a big bite out of the croissant. To her horror, it tasted liked it smelled—a guitar strap! And she quickly spit it out. She thought she might get the bad taste out of her mouth by gulping some coffee –big mistake— it tasted like 3-In-One oil!
Her initial sense of euphoria in this total world of guitar was quickly giving way to fear, and a nauseating feeling of dizziness and disorientation was starting to overcome her. She thought, “Maybe if I could get something cold to drink…” Riley quickly got herself to the counter and spoke her first words in this futuristic guitar world, “ . . . Um, I was wondering . . . do you have any drinks with ice or any cold drink . . . ice tea or . . . anything . . . like that?”
Mr. Lee’s response was not reassuring at all—in fact his eyes seemed to be filled with fear. Fear of Riley! His voice choked when he said, “Guitarspeak, guitarspeak.”
Now Riley was really getting scared so she exited the store as quickly as she could, trying not to raise any more suspicion than she already had.
Then she saw it. Across the street in the central plaza. The largest statue she had ever seen. Unimaginably huge. Kim Jong Il‘s would have been dwarfed by it—yeah . . . that big. She made her way over to it as fast as she could and standing right in front of the statue now, Riley read the inscription; “DOCTOR TARBORG –OUR CREATOR AND MASTER –WE WORSHIP YOU AND YOU ALONE.” Riley’s fear now was beyond anything she had ever felt before. Almost in shock, she was frozen –her central nervous system seemed incapable of commanding her legs to run. Her mind, however, was racing– she could only think, “Oh no, the Taborgs won the Battle of the Bands at the Twisty Road Café and these aren’t people here in this guitar world –they’re Tarborgs who have evolved to look like people. The only vestige of the original Tarborg is the biologically attached guitar. This isn’t . . . and that’s why Sonny told me, ‘Keep your pick close and your guitar closer’.” Riley said– and in a moment of despair and disconnect, she absent mindedly let her guitar slip out of her hands.
One of the Tarborgs noticed that Riley’s guitar was not connected to her body. The Tarborg pointed its guitar at Riley and squealed. Soon it seemed as if the entire world of the Tarborg was pointing its collective guitar at her. The sound was deafening– it was horrific –feedback of the ugly kind. She thought her ears would burst with pain at any moment. She picked up her guitar without thinking and fumbled around for the toggle switch, while she was eyeing the ever closer approaching mob.
In pure fear, Riley blacked out. When she awoke she found herself in a hospital ward for the criminally insane. Towering over her bed was a gigantic Tarborg draped in a red cape and cowl and he was holding an equally gigantic triple-necked guitar. “Do you know who I am?” he said in perfect English.
“Um . . . Freddy Fretboard? . . . the King of Strings? . . . I dunno, I’m not real good at riddles when I’ve been tied up and drugged,” Riley said. Her fingers tried to find the toggle switch on her guitar.
“Don’t bother. Your relic of a guitar has been confiscated and locked away,” said the Tarborg.
“You’re a smart girl, Riley. You’ve figured things out. You even got the name of our language right– Guitarspeak. So indulge me if you will, and allow me to fill in a few tidbits of history for you,” said the Tarborg.
“Over the centuries, the Tarborgs evolved to look more and more like human beings. Mouths began to appear a couple of centuries after the great Battle— the ability to speak, perhaps a century later. By the year 2500 AD., Tarborgs were fluent in a number of languages– primarily English. Guitarspeak was still the main language but some of the Tarborg Nation believed that everyone should speak Guitarspeak only and thus the ‘Guitarspeak only’ movement was born. It prevailed, and English was used only in certain prescribed situations,” said the Tarborg.
“Well, golly gosh gee that’s just swell, Mr. String King, Fretboard sir and I just love history lessons–especially history that hasn’t even happened yet. So pardon me all over the place, pretty please and fructose you all over, but can I get my guitar back now?” said Riley.
“In time, in due time but first let me tell you something, Riley. We know who you are and we know why you’re here. So here’s a message for Sonny: it’s futile, don’t even try,” said the Tarborg.
With that the Tarborg untied Riley and returned her trusty Explorer. Riley clicked the toggle switch three times and found herself back in Sonny’s presence.
“The threat of the Tarborg is near,” the elderly blues guitarist said, weighing the words. The words had the weight of a solid body electric Les Paul after a five hour gig at the Checkerboard Lounge on East 43rd Street.
Sonny “Blu” Waters, Blues Legend, was on edge all day in anticipation of his meeting with Rip ‘N Time—the Goddess of Guitar had put them on his schedule late last night and he hadn’t slept at all. “What to do?” he thought. “How do I get to these kids to understand?—they’re smart, sure . . . but do they understand the seriousness? Life and Death– Future of the World!” Sonny was really struggling with these thoughts.
His Mississippi Delta roots, the trek to Chicago, switching from acoustic to electric, the recordings, the highs and lows of touring–these were the things Sonny was going to inspire Rip’ N Time with. Now he was sure that wasn’t going to cut it. He then slowly got out of his chair and went over to his guitar case and opened it. In the compartment of the case, lying beneath a couple of needle nose pliers, a tuning fork and some guitar strings, was The LEGENDS MANUAL. He took it out of the compartment, shut the case and sat back down in his chair. He flipped through the pages absent-mindedly and sighed.
He had always been hesitant to use the Manual. In fact, he had never used the Manual. But today… today is the day. He turned to page sixteen. ‘Do not take more than 6 Time Travel Trips* in any 24-hour period unless directed by a certified Guitar Legend.’ Sonny stared at the words for a moment and thought, “I wonder what that asterisk means.” Sonny’s eye’s shifted to the bottom of the page. He looked at the impossibly tiny print and said, “Looks like I’m going to need the half-moons.” He took his reading glasses off the small end table and while he was putting them on he muttered something like, “Guitar Legend– and I can barely see.”
What Sonny did see after the little asterisk gave him pause, ‘*6 Time travel trips can be combined into one trip, for one individual only, to create an exponentially intense travel experience. In a one individual Time Travel Trip, the distinction between reality and the make-believe is indistinguishable. Limit intensified Time Travel Trips to one individual only!’
Sonny read further; ‘MEMORY WARNING-severe memory damage can occur. Symptoms such as dizziness and disorientation may occur. These could be signs of a serious condition.’
“Oh Lord,” said Sonny.
Sonny didn’t think of himself as a religious man—at least not in the sense of a church-goin’ man but he did pray –a lot. He never prayed for anything for himself, however, “The Man upstairs is busy enough without old Sonny askin’ for stuff,” was Sonny’s position.
Sonny did pray for others. Somehow it just seemed fine to ask the Man upstairs for stuff if it was for somebody else. From time to time, Sonny would make up a special prayer to suit a particular situation. This was just such a time. Sonny prayed, “Dear Jesus, please keep Riley safe on the journey that I am about to send her. Thank you Dear Jesus.” Short. Sweet. Sonny was not about to waist anyone’s time –especially the Man upstairs.
By this time, Riley, Mr.Snugglewhumps and the other members of Rip ‘N Time were at Sonny’s door. He welcomed them in and explained to them all what had to be done regarding the Time Travel trip. Riley was apprehensive but accepted the risks — she knew what she had to do. The other members of Rip ‘N Time were disappointed that they couldn’t go with Riley; but they also understood Sonny’s position.
Sonny did give Riley some succinct advice, “Always keep your guitar with you as if you are about play and try to speak as little as possible.”
Sonny reached for his ES-335, turned on his tube amp and was about to flick his toggle switch when Riley asked, “Sonny, would you play me one of your signature licks as a send –off?” Sonny, with his sly sense of humor, then played a passage from a platinum selling album by a famous, white British blues guitarist. The lick was rendered perfectly.
”I love doing that,” Sonny said.
“Hey, but wait that’s from . . . oh, yeah . . . I get it,” said Riley.
Three clicks and Riley was gone.
MARCHING TARBORGS PREPARE FOR BATTLE
The Tarborgs are more than ready for the Battle of the Bands, for Dr. Tarborg has brought forth the greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll band in all of creation.
There were now numerous Tarborgs and they were becoming more sophisticated seemingly by the moment. They started thinking for themselves, making their own decisions and creating more and more complex and intricate music. Their method of communication became a highly evolved and advanced form of MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface).
Dr. Tarborg was pleased –very pleased indeed. The plan was coming to its fruition. “Vengeance will be mine,” Dr. Tarborg said.
Something else happened however. The Tarborgs became autonomous in unexpected ways- incidental, accidental evolution-the law of unintended consequences.
The red laser eyes, originally for decorative purposes, (“I love red eyes– just like mine,” the crazy doctor would often say) were now so sensitive that they could see in the darkest night. They were also developing the ability to see through solid objects and read minds.
Similarly, the “no mouth” characteristic of the Tarborg’s shiny, silvery head came about because of Dr.Tarborg’s disdain for young guitarists’ ostensibly redundant speech patterns. When talking to his intended victims, expressions like, “Whoa, That is so cool, Dude, Awesome,” and his number one favorite, “No problem,” just about drove him crazy –oh wait, he’s already crazy.
The Tarborgs, so thought Dr. Tarborg, would not have this annoying trait—they would just shut up and play guitar. But all the DNA harvested from his victims would, of course, appear in the Tarborgs. So because they had no mouths, their ability to communicate surfaced in an unexpected way. The Tarborgs developed their own manner of communication. Their guitar playing served as their voices. They were even developing their own language –a hybrid of written music, guitar tab and guitar sound techniques:
The above example was a popular expression amongst Tarborgs and, loosely translated, means “How ya doin’.”
The Tarborgs could visualize both the musical notation and tab simultaneously as they heard and/or made the sound. Later, this form of communication became a formalized language that would be known as Guitarspeak.
The Tarborgs were also developing gender specific characteristics. There were even rumors that they would soon be reproducing and that a natural birth of the first Tarborg was imminent.
The Tarborgs were now becoming self- aware. They knew who and what they were. And now that they could communicate with one another with their own language, they started to have loftier goals and aspirations. Dr. Tarborg’s ‘Master Race’ idea was no joke to them– it was prophetic. Winning the Battle was not just for Dr. Tarborg but for their survival as a species.
They now believed that they would eventually rule the world. They chose amongst themselves the four best qualified Tarborgs, two females and two males, to represent their species in the Battle. These four would have all the genetic material of the entire Tarborg race and if they lost, all Tarborgs would wither and die.
“This is actually working out quite nicely–not exactly how I anticipated but . . . oh well. Nothing like the thought of extinction for motivation, and my Tarborgs are motivated—perfect,” thought Dr.Tarborg. As he sat in the control room overlooking the Twisty Road Cafe’s stage, the Tarborgs were going through a sound check and rehearsal before the Battle– whispering furtively, sometimes shouting. Just before they began to play, Dr. Tarborg leaned into the control room’s microphone and said, “Let me here some of that crazy Tarborg music!” They played an insanely fast symphony of the macabre—a flurry of notes executed flawlessly. Then they stopped. Dr. Tarborg leapt out of his chair and exclaimed “I love the sound of Tarborgs . . . it’s the sound of victory!”