Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Writers’ Block… we meet again.

March 15, 2010

Forgive this nonsensical rambling blog. I just felt the need to write for writings’ sake. Yes, I’m an avid music listener with hundreds of albums… yet I don’t feel like reviewing any right now. Sure, I could jot down some commentary or insight on some goings-on in the world or culture… but I just haven’t had the drive lately. I’ll blame it on Writers’ Block but I’m sure there are other factors involved.

I’ve been getting nearly-40 hour work weeks over the past month. When I was updating this blog more frequently, I wasn’t getting very many hours and was bored often. That, for me, leads to plenty more writing of blogs and reviews and lyrics and everything fun under the sun. If I were getting paid to write, and had endless time to do so, you would see my productivity quadruple. You hear that, potential employers?? I’m a powder keg of literacy with a short fuse. It’s up to you to light me, baby.

I’ve also been out and about, enjoying life with friends and family. I’m going to Tennessee with my grandfather for the 2nd year in a row this April. Last year’s trip was enjoyable and I look forward to seeing if I can last two weeks without most technology yet again. If I can do it without going insane, any of you can!! I’ll get tons of reading done during this trip I’m sure.. last year I mowed through nearly every Dan Brown book and The Count of Monte Cristo.

I’m certainly glad the weather’s warming up. I’ve played basketball, ran, and spent more time with friends than ever in the past couple weeks. I’m excited about spring and think I’ll be in exceptional shape by the end of the summer, considering I’m 30 pounds lighter right now than I was at this point last year!! I intend on running and playing ball and maybe even swimming more often than ever.

There’s much more going on in my life right now than just all this.. I don’t even have a point in this entry other than trying my hardest to get over writers’ block.

And in short:

Carl Edwards deserved more punishment than a mere 3 race probation for intentionally wrecking Brad Keselowski at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Lady Gaga videos weird me out and make me uncomfortable. In a good way.

My friends are all oddballs and characters. But that’s why I love them so.

I want to collect coffee mugs, custom/retro sports jerseys, letters/journals, and a variety of quirky things you’d find on steakhouse walls when I’m old, rich, and bored.

So much about this world and this life fascinates me and fills my mind with endless thoughts. It can be a bother if I’m trying to work or drive or talk to people.  🙂

Nearly everybody deserves a second chance, a helping hand, a boost to success, and a shoulder to cry on. If I ever come across good fortune I’m certainly sharing it with family, friends, and people who need the help.

I work at a restaurant and daily I find myself pondering about the people who come in and out. Where are they coming from? Where are they going? What’s their story? What successes and dangers have they enjoyed or faced?

I love communication, history, learning, growing, experiencing, and getting to know the world and its people. I think every single person should share as much of their thoughts and ideas and stories as possible, because we never know when our last day may come and our minds will be gone from this mortal earth forever. I’ve touched on this before, but this is why I love writing, and why I’m constantly on social networking sites Facebook and Twitter, and why I have multiple blogs.

Ekoostik Hookah is a remarkably underrated band with an insane live show and supremely talented musicians.

Them Crooked Vultures should be the most popular group in the nation.

…and that’s all.

Advertisements

100 Random Facts and Memories

January 26, 2010

1. My earliest memory is of my mom pushing me in a little yellow bucket swing on a bright spring day in my backyard, singing my “ABC”s with me and counting.

2. The first birthday I can remember is my 4th birthday. I received a monster truck board game.

3. I was obsessed with dinosaurs from birth, practically, until about the age of 10.

4. I owned literally every action figure from the first Jurassic Park movie.. I think I still do.

5. It thrilled me when my first band agreed to call themselves The Dennis Nedrys. Dennis Nedry is a character in Jurassic Park.

6. I take pride in being a team player, a role player, the person that does what nobody else wants to do; if it means getting the job done. I’m the guy who “takes one for the team.”

7. I HATE MUSHROOMS AND COCONUT

8. I remember being 4 and “cruising” with my dad in his car, jamming to Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way” and Van Halen’s “Panama,” and me responding to the latter by saying “Dad! That’s a country!”

9. I also recall jamming to a ZZ Top record with him.

10. The first three ROCK albums I ever bought were with my first ever paycheck, which I earned being the mascot for the Chillicothe Paints. The albums were greatest hits compilations from ZZ Top, The Doobie Brothers, and Van Halen.

11. I decided to check out The Doobie Brothers because of a Simpsons episode that had a funny reference to them.

12. Lisa Simpson inspired me to take up the saxophone.

13. I’ve been a NASCAR fan longer than I have anything else. Except maybe dinosaurs and reading.

14. My mom began teaching me how to read and write at the age of 2.

15. My mom and I have co-authored dozens of books. They were all created when I was between 4 and 8.

16. I had a slight Colorform obsession.

17. I first had iced coffee with Casey Wolfe and Ansel Benson. I had no clue what I wanted from McDonald’s one day so Casey told me to drink an iced coffee. He created a monster! Now coffee is my favorite beverage.

18. I didn’t have my first kiss until the age of 17.

19. My first car was a 1997 Pontiac Grand Prix, green.

20. The first record I ever played while driving it was Aerosmith’s Greatest Hits.

21. Vince Tropea once said that he hears Foreigner’s “Hot Blooded” in his head whenever I enter a room.

22. I’ve been on the front page of the Chillicothe Gazette at least three times, and have been within the pages many a time.

23. I accepted Jesus Christ on December 13th, 2004.

24. I’m a charter member of Lighthouse Baptist Church.

25. I played a year of football at Wilmington College, but I barely played.

26. We played against current Colts wide receiver Pierre Garcon, and I was a teammate of LeRoy Kelly Jr.

27. I bought an X-Box on 8/8/08.

28. I met my first love on Halo 3.

29. I used to be a mainstay on the Top 100 Wheelman list on HaloCharts.

30. I’ve wasted the most time playing Halo 3, Age of Empires II, SimCity 3000, and the Madden Football series in my life.

31. I believe I can do anything I want to in this life, I just need opportunity and money to get my dreams kickstarted.

32. As a kid, every payday I ‘d ask my mom to buy me a toy. She told me I didn’t need any more toys. I saw a loophole and I would say, “Mommy, can I have a book then?” That helped boost my love for reading.

33. My favorite fast food restaurant is Taco Bell.

34. My favorite sit-down restaurant is California Pizza Kitchen.

35. I have a constant fear of dying young and/or being forgotten, even though I have no fear whatsoever of the actual afterlife.

36. I don’t think I discovered who I was until after high school, and matured much later than many people my age.

37. I was a mailman for three months.

38. My favorite record is Marillion’s Misplaced Childhood.

39. My favorite color is teal.

40. I want to travel the world.

41. My first concert was Journey/Def Leppard in Cincinnati, Summer of 2006. I went with Derek Kuhner and Scott Miller.

42. On the way there we drag-raced a convertible filled with hot women down the highway as Van Halen’s “Panama” (that song is everywhere in my life) blared through my speakers. Kuhner proclaimed “We’re living in an damn music video!!”

43. One of my clearest memories is the entire Chillicothe Cavaliers Basketball 2008 State Championship Game.

44. Inspired by Ren and Stimpy, as a young child I kept a “magic nose goblin” collection.

45. My favorite TV show is The Simpsons.

46. My favorite movie changes constantly but if I had to pick, it would be Jurassic Park or The Land Before Time for sentimental reasons.

47. I take my iPod with me everywhere.

48. I think my best talents are creative and journalistic writing, traditional lyric writing, organizing events, and playing Texas hold ’em poker.

49. I used to be addicted to gambling. I’ve got that under control now.

50. I’ll never ever forget holding my two baby sisters for the first time.

51. My sister Hayley was born premature and needed extra medical attention. That scared me so much. She ended up being okay.

52. I’m sad that my sisters and I are a generation apart in age, that keeps us from being closer.

53. I wore the numbers 53, 70, 76, 79, and 84 in football. My favorite was 53, I wore it all four years of high school. I consider it my lucky number.

54. I’m interested in medieval culture, politics, history, and warfare.

55. I also want to learn as much as possible about Native Americans, World War II, and The Civil War.

56. I bought my first guitar from Pete Sabatini. The first song I learned, er segment rather, was the intro to Bob Seger’s “Mainstreet.”

57. When I bought my bass the first songs I tried to learn were by Rush. Big mistake for a beginner.

58. I want to learn how to play piano.

59. I love birdwatching, stargazing, hiking, and fishing.. but I don’t get to do these very much.

60. I have an obsession with Italian sub sandwiches.

61. I want to learn how to paint and draw cartoons/comics.

62. I used to be into powerlifting.

63. I believe in extraterrestrial life.

64. I vote not by party line, but by the situation.

65. I think the death of Officer Larry Cox was the worst thing to happen in Chillicothe in my lifetime.

66. My favorite sports team is the Cincinnati Bengals.

67. I want to become a high school teacher, then work my way to becoming a professor. The whole way I want to pursue side projects in novel writing and music making, and perhaps one day start my own studio or restaurant.

68. I decided to make a 16 hour round trip to go to a NASCAR race last year with Danny Russell, with only 36 hours notice.

69. I admit to enjoying the music of Lady GaGa.

70. My first celebrity crush was Shania Twain.

71. I’m a firm believer in The Golden Rule.

72. My favorite beer is Guinness; Extra Stout.

73. I want to own a motorcycle someday.

74. Why stop there? I want to own a NASCAR team.

75. I intend on being responsible with my money if I ever start making enough to save.. so that one day I could do the above, haha.

76. The best concert I ever attended was Porcupine Tree in Cleveland, 2007.

77. Most of my closest friends I didn’t get close to until late in high school, or after graduation.

78. I love epic science-fiction/fantasy sagas.

79. I’d love to be a pilot but my vision is absolutely horrible.

80. So is my sense of smell.

81. I won two Power of the Pen Regional competitions in middle school.

82. I want to take up photography.

83. My grandparents are awesome, I love them.

84. I’d love to be on Survivor, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, Jeopardy, and The Amazing Race.

85. I’m a beast at Scrabble.

86. The physical feature I’m proudest of is my teeth.

87. I love roller coasters.

88. My favorite songs are “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses, “Shine” by Collective Soul, and “Africa” by Toto.

89. I’d love to own every DVD of The Simpsons, Family Guy, South Park, The Office, Scrubs, and several other series… because I never really watch TV.

90. I’d also love to watch more English Premier League Soccer.

91. I love clean guitar tones and meaty distorted riffs just the same.

92. If I ever become wealthy I intend on giving back. I believe all humans deserve the same opportunities, if they’ve worked hard for them and been good to others.

93. I don’t think I’ll ever get a tattoo.

94. I want children of my own, but only when I’m financially stable and mature.

95. I’m afraid of hospitals even though I know they’re there to help.

96. I’ve never flown other than a 30 minute small-plane tour of Ross County.

97. I want to drive in an auto race someday.

98. There’s going to be another 100 random facts and memories one day, don’t worry.

99. I’ll always take time out of my day to talk to anyone who wants to have a good conversation, no matter who they are.

100. I really, really like my last name and have a slight obsession with it.

This is so epic.

Radical.

I haven't tried wine yet; this shall be the first

Unveiling My Projects in Progress….

January 12, 2010

THE GREATEST BAND THAT NEVER WAS

Nate Bahre drinks hard, plays hard, and rocks hard. Aleksandr Balanov legitimately believes he’s the second coming of Jim Morrison and is out to prove it. Frederick Ryan Slash Bryan Thomas is a Lovecraft-obsessed hacker who also happens to play the meanest set of skins in town.

How the hell is Albert Shaw going to fit into this motley crew of musicians? The young, reserved bassist unsuspectedly plunges headlong into the seedy world of rock and roll, pulled after one fateful jam session with these seasoned players. They form a band that defies categorization and begin touring around town, facing usual AND unusual pitfalls that every small-town group encounters when starting out. As members wind up in and out of jail, passing around groupies, falling off buildings, stumbling upon evil spirits, and encountering the wrath of jilted family members; Albert realizes that rock and roll ain’t noise pollution. It’s a life-consuming monster that can’t be tamed.

Follow Albert in this rollicking small-town journey that lies somewhere between Spinal Tap, Almost Famous, Dazed and Confused, and the real-life experiences of debut author Tyler Woodbridge.

As we launched into the opening riff of “Wake Up Carl” and I viciously flipped my bass strings, I could feel my worries deafened by the gain and feedback. Standing there on stage, pounding away in what must have been our thousandth time playing the song, it still felt new. I felt new, too.

I looked around at my bandmates, not even trying to conceal my massive grin. Never mind the fact that one of them had tried to kill me. I almost forgot that one had stolen the love of my life in front of my very eyes, and that the other would be lucky to escape the night without getting arrested. These transgressions were trivial, our conflicts had faded. In this moment, as we shared our work and spirit in front of a capacity crowd of twenty five, we were more than just friends, or bandmates, or partners in crime. We were brothers. We were the greatest band that never was.

THE END OF GOOD AND EVIL

In the year 2014, two neighboring nations have been all but taken over by a wealthy family. Sandoval Enterprises have members in government office as their business runs literally everything. As a recession hits, money talks as the family fabricates a false war between the nations of Donia and Nhaliuk to boost a sagging economy. Endless soldiers’ lives are sacrificed in the name of the almighty dollar as sinister men laugh all the way to the bank.

Sooner than later, this maniacal plot is threatened to be exposed on multiple fronts by a special ops soldier codenamed Trigger, a drifting citizen called Jimmy Glencroft, and a devout Christian politican named Eli Radovich. From all reaches of the conflict, they are drawn into an underground multinational revolution that seeks to shake the foundations of politics and war as we know it. Every man and woman involved will be forced to make decisions outside their moral boundary, see life and death through different eyes, and weather the storm of human error. They will need to put an end to this conflict once and for all. An end to both good and evil.

A Foray into NASCAR Writing: 2010 Predictions for Driver/Team Changes

January 11, 2010

(I submitted this as part of my new blog on Racing Reference, called “Wide Open with Woodbridge.” I love NASCAR racing so I figured I’d take a shot at submitting something. I know many of my regular readers aren’t racing fans, so if you read this out of respect for me, bear with me here!! Haha.)

Wide Open with Woodbridge: 2010 Predictions for Driver/Team Changes

There hasn’t been nearly as much intrigue and change over this past Silly Season as there has been in recent years. Previous seasons have beheld major factors such as Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman, and Mark Martin moving to new teams. When a Silly Season’s biggest move comes from Martin Truex Jr., that says it all.

However, I feel the changes made over the offseason will cause a ripple effect that will certainly shake up Sprint Cup’s standings, the progress of some young teams, and the downfall of some others. I will go through every driver change and new team, from the bottom to the top numerically, and share my thoughts on how the move will effect Sprint Cup.

#09 Aric Almirola- Phoenix Racing- Miccosukee Indian Gaming Dodge/Chevy.
Last season, the #09 team was about as bipolar as racing teams can come. With hotshot up-and-comer Brad Keselowski behind the wheel, Finch racked up a surprise win at Talladega in the spring, and followed that up with a couple Top Tens in limited starts. In nearly every race that Keselowski didn’t drive, the #09 was piloted by a gaggle of journeyman veterans and one race with Almirola. In these races, the Miccosukee machine was a consistent start-and-parker, only finishing five non-Keselowski events. With Finch running an entire season with just one driver I have to wonder if they will go the start-and-park route or actually try to compete in races. Almirola showed some promise in a limited schedule back in 2008 in which he drove the #8 subbing for Mark Martin, but in 2009 his aborted campaign featured dismal finishes and no interest from potential sponsors, leading to the shutting down of the iconic team. Almirola has a future in this sport and is a gifted racer. I just doubt that Phoenix Racing will give Almirola the equipment, consistency, and opportunity to become the good driver he could be.

Prediction: Between 28th and 35th in points with a couple Top Tens, much worse if they start-and-park much of the season

#1 Jamie McMurray- Earnhardt/Ganassi Racing- Bass Pro Shops Chevy

Jamie McMurray has been one of those drivers that has been “on the verge of being great” for most of his career. With the sensational way he won in his 2nd start as a substitute driver for the injured Sterling Marlin in 2002, many fans and analysts have been expecting much more from McMurray. He performs well every season, but never well enough to place in the Top Ten in points or challenge for multiple wins. When he drove for Ganassi the first time around, he was never worse than 13th in points and had 46 Top Tens in three seasons. Those statistics are good, and with McMurray going from being the number five driver at Roush to being one of only two drivers at EGR, he will get a better share of equipment and attention. EGR may be a team on their way back up, especially after Juan Pablo Montoya claimed a Chase berth and consistent finishes in the #42 last year. This move will benefit both McMurray and the man he replaced, Martin Truex Jr., in many ways.

Prediction: Top 20 in points, contending for a couple wins and having several Top Fives, a typical Jamie McMurray year but slightly better than his Roush seasons

#12 Brad Keselowski- Penske Racing- Verizon Dodge

Brad Keselowski’s been one of the best drivers in the Nationwide series for a couple years now. His hard-charging style has been compared to drivers from Earnhardt and Waltrip to the Busch brothers and his rival Denny Hamlin. He won a Cup race in an incredible finish at Talladega for an underfunded team, and was rumored to be linked to a variety of major teams from Hendrick to Stewart-Haas. Keselowski ends up at Penske, however, and will be an instant contributor to the top of Sprint Cup stat sheets. The #12 had always been a mainstay in Top 20 finishes, in races and standings, from the days of Jeremy Mayfield through Ryan Newman. That is, until last year, when David Stremme bungled his way through the season and selling the #12 completely short of what it can accomplish. Keselowski will have some struggles in his first full season, yes, but his Nationwide experience and racing instincts will carry him to several great finishes and contentions for wins. I don’t think he will make the Chase this year, but don’t rule him out for a trip in the next couple seasons.

Prediction: Top 20 in points, a win or two and over 10 Top Tens.

#34 Travis Kvapil- Front Row Motorsports- Long John Silver Ford

Travis Kvapil, I believe, is one of the most underrated drivers in any level of NASCAR racing. His consistent style and Wisconsin short track background make for a skillset Cup owners shouldn’t pass up. A Truck Series championship doesn’t hurt his resume, as well as over 100 Cup series starts under his belt. Front Row seems to be a team on their way up, at least compared to the teams below them in last year’s points. Bob Jenkins refused to start-and-park the #34 with John Andretti in 2009 as Andretti kept the car in the Top 35 by keeping the car in one piece. Kvapil, I feel, could be a Chase contender in the right equipment. Kvapil boosted the #28 Yates car when he stepped in and kept it relevant even without sponsorship, so I think he can do what Andretti did last year, if not more. Kvapil’s finishes typically don’t match his actual performances in races, especially in several fateful superspeedway events. I actually look for Kvapil to rack up Top Tens for Front Row, help the team gain acclaim, keep himself relevant and maybe even contend for a superspeedway win.

Prediction: Top 30 in points, several Top Tens

#36 Mike Bliss- Tommy Baldwin Racing- Toyota

Unless this team picks up a sponsor or finds a way into the Top 35 I sincerely doubt they will run many full races at all, and if they did, Bliss will be battling for hard-earned 33rd place finishes.

Prediction: Under the Top 35. Several missed races and many start-and-parks.

#37- Kevin Conway- Front Row Motorsports- Extenze Ford

Front Row Motorsports debuts a second full-time team this year with Kevin Conway. Conway’s not the most experienced driver in the world, and one has to figure that he getting the ride has more to do with his rookie status and the fact that he brings a sponsor, than his actual ability. While Front Row’s been doing much correctly lately and will be more prominent with Kvapil behind the wheel of their other car, I doubt Conway will be relevant this season. The team will make their way into the Top 35 and probably won’t start and park as much this year, however, it won’t be a very glorious 2009 campaign.

Prediction: Top 35, but barely. Lucky to get some Top 20 finishes.

#46- Terry Cook- Dusty Whitney- Dodge

Terry Cook’s a good driver. However, this is an unsponsored start-up team. I doubt we will see Cook drive very many full races. In the few races that they do run, they will jockey for 34th position with Mike Bliss and Kevin Conway. The addition of this team won’t be a very big splash in NASCAR at all.

Prediction: Many, many start and parks.

#56- Martin Truex Jr.- Michael Waltrip Racing- NAPA Toyota

This is a move that could help push Michael Waltrip Racing into superteam status. Marcos Ambrose and David Reutimann contended often in 2009, with Reutimann picking up a win and Ambrose establishing himself as more than just a road course ringer. Michael Waltrip, despite being one of the sport’s better personalities and a smart owner, failed to accomplish much behind the wheel over the last few years. With the experienced and proven Truex taking over the team, expect Waltrip’s cars to launch an assault on Chase berths. I wouldn’t be surprised if all three teams were in contention for the Top 12 come August. Truex, especially with the guidance of Pat Tryson, will return to top form and may indeed make a visit or two to Victory Lane.

Prediction: Will challenge for the Top 12, make the Top 20 for sure and rack up Top Tens, maybe even pick up a win or two

#71- Bobby Labonte- TRG Motorsports- TaxSlayer Chevy/Dodge

Labonte, after being ousted from the #96 in favor of Erik Darnell, will take over the #71 full-time. Labonte drove several races with TRG late in 2009, racking up a Top Ten and several other promising finishes. Labonte is a great driver, he will find a way to make things happen for this up-and-coming team. With such a good driver and a sponsor on board, I won’t expect any start-and-parks out of TRG this season. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this team creep into the Top 30 of the standings either. Expect stats similar to Bobby Labonte’s past few seasons: Nothing spectacular, but very solid and occasional Top Tens.

Prediction: Top 30 in points, a handful of Top Tens and a tremendous boost for TRG

#90- No Driver Announced- Keyed Up Motorsports- Chevy

Without a driver or sponsor announced at this point, I wouldn’t expect much out of this team in the near future.

Prediction: A few start-and-parks with a journeyman veteran driver here and there

I hope everyone enjoyed my first-ever blog for Racing Reference. If you enjoyed my insights, give me some feedback and I may write some more. Feel free to comment and discuss; I love to talk racing and look forward to hearing other viewpoints.

My Taboo of Over-Personal Blogging

January 2, 2010

I enjoy writing in this blog. I like how it’s helped me get into better writing habits, release thoughts and feelings, given me a sense of accomplishment, and learn and connect. I can see myself getting very involved with this someday, sooner if not later, given that I’ve recently had a ton of free time in my life open up.

I have one barrier that may stand in the way of me properly expressing certain thoughts or sharing some events in my life. I don’t think I can ever blog openly about my personal life, my family life, or relationships. I can’t bring myself to do it past a sentence here, an allusion there.

Let’s say, for example, that I hate my dad (I really don’t hate my dad, for the record). If I were to communicate on here my (imaginary) disdain for my father, and he were to run across this blog one way or another, there would be many complications in my life. He’d be upset at my feelings, and either become angry with me, or hold it in and become depressed, or grow apart from me. Our relationship would be strained. I wouldn’t want that at all. Therefore, even if it’s relevant to the blog, or if I’m itching to write a blog about family issues, I can’t discuss very personal issues like that. I just can’t.

I realize this blog pops up whenever one Googles my name. I’m okay with that. In fact, I like that. Hence, I have to be somewhat careful with what I write and share on here. I wouldn’t want friends, family members, employers, old teachers, co-workers, etc. to be offended or appalled at something I’ve written. It’s not that I’ve got anything offensive to share anyway, I’m a very easy-going and straightforward guy. BUT, in the off-chance that I’ve got a blog that’s borderline controversial or offensive to share, I realize that it wouldn’t be a very wise idea to publish it here. That’s why I’m going to shy away from overly religious/political/personal blogs.

I value my relationships. Anyone I’ve ever dated or been friends with will be spared from being picked apart on my blog. I could have a field day writing about and analyzing anything interesting, troubling, or unusual that’s ever happened between my friends, or between myself and a lover. I won’t do that. Even if I used “code names” for the people, they’d still know who they were just by reading, and others would be able to figure it out easily. I don’t want to upset anyone or compromise my trust and integrity by airing out dirty laundry or publicly criticizing those I’m close to. I don’t want to end up friends with someone or date a girl and have them think, “I don’t wanna end up close to this guy, I’ll just turn into a blog!” Nope, you won’t turn into a blog… no guarantees about you not turning into a song, though. 🙂

I know, faithful reader(s). This wasn’t much of an update. I just thought I’d clear up my stance on getting too personal on my blog, and thought that could explain any lack of depth. I don’t like being public about my business. I prefer to write about that stuff in lyrical form. It’s funner to do it that way, and I love reading when people pick apart my writing, trying to decipher the meaning. Double fun when they can’t figure it out!

Hope you all have a great day. Thanks for stoppin’ by.

This Is Your History! Blog, Write, Share, Read!

December 28, 2009

I feel as if sometimes we as humans don’t really take the time to think about the future, what it will be like, how the world will change, how we ourselves will change, and what we will leave behind after we die. Twenty years ago, my parents never dreamed there would be a computer in almost every home, life-like video games, 3D movies created digitally, internet, and a phone in nearly every pocket. I’m sure my grandfather is shocked as anyone that rap is mainstream and popular, and my grandmother is certainly thankful for the insane advances in healthcare and technology.

We’ve come a long way, and (somehow) we still have a long way to go. There is much happening in the world every day. The face of the human race is evolving with every minute. Every person in the world has a role to play in how the future will be for themselves, their family, their friends, their city, their country, their race, their planet. It’s up to us to make decisions that will positively impact those around and ahead of ourselves, to further the progress that has been rapidly increasing over the last millenium.

I know, I know. Get to the point, you say, o faithful reader. This isn’t a novel, it’s a blog entry, you say. Okay, okay. Here goes. This is a bit of a “Why I Blog” entry. I’ll explain the turn of events that led to me starting a blog, and what inspires me to try to do great things every day.

It was summer, the year 2009. In other words, it really wasn’t that long ago. I was working 2nd shift at a local truck part painting factory called Vitatoe. Of course, I didn’t like it all. I’ve had several jobs in manufacturing and I can’t stand that kind of work. Playing late night basketball with my friends, spending time with my wonderful girlfriend Ashley during the morning/afternoon, and listening to plenty of great music helped me get through it.

I also spent a lot of time hanging out with my friend Kaila Vest. As some of you may have read, she was born with a condition called Pectus Excavatum. She went into surgery on June 30th. I remember being extremely nervous that morning, even though I had no reason to be. I knew things would turn out okay for her, BUT, it was the first time I’ve had a close friend have a big surgery like this. Needless to say my mind was snowballing about random things and I couldn’t stay calm until I heard Kaila got out of her surgery safe.

Her mom texted me and let me know she was fine, so I was a bit more relieved. I got in the shower that morning to get ready and spend time with Ashley, then go to work. After I got out of the shower, I had a sudden rush of lightheadedness. I literally became dizzy and fell over in my bathroom. I had no clue what had happened, and panicked. I didn’t say anything to my mom, Ashley, or anyone at all. I just went about my business as usual after I got up, wondering what the hell that was about.

Later that same night at work, near the end of my shift, I had the exact same thing happen to me there that had happened in my bathroom. I couldn’t stand still, my heart and my head both rushing, as I paced around the factory floor aimlessly, just trying to keep myself calm and trying to figure out what was wrong with me. I blamed everything on having a pulled chest muscle; the previous day at work I lifted 100 pound truck rims by myself for fifteen minutes. Not the smartest move in the world, but it would explain my pain.

That night my buddy Danny Russell texted me and asked me if I wanted to randomly go to Pennsylvania with him for a NASCAR Sprint Cup Race at Pocono Raceway. Of course, me being the young and foolish adventurer I am, I agreed to it. On 48 hours notice, we were making a 16-hour round trip to go watch some racing. Oddly enough, over the next three days, before/during/after our trip to the race, I didn’t have that discomfort/faintness at all. I wondered why this could be. Sure enough, within the next day after I got back home, it would come back at least once a day. What in the world was wrong with me, what was up with these faint feelings and random discomforts??

After a few more days I finally talked to my mom and dad about what was going on. My mom passed it off as being anxiety, telling me to calm down and relax. I thought to myself, maybe it WAS anxiety. I googled Anxiety Disorder and thought, hey, this sounds like what I’m going through. Random discomfort and faintness, check. Raised pulse and blood pressure, check. Numbness in the left arm, check. Wait, I thought, aren’t these also symptoms of heart attacks or heart conditions? Naturally, I read up on those, and found myself worrying about much more than any somewhat healthy 21 year old needed to.

The more I analyzed my life in early August, the more anxiety-causing agents I discovered. I worked extensively with paint, paint remover/thinner, and other paint-based chemicals. I absolutely hated my job. I had horrible sleep patterns, drank an obscene amount of caffeine, and didn’t have a very balanced diet. I struggled with money (still do), and was constantly either frustrated or depressed. Kaila was still in the hospital, I was having various disagreements with friends, my friends were having disagreements with one another… it just made for a very trying time.

I’ll never forget August 14th and 15th, 2009. The 14th was Ashley’s birthday. I had a great time watching her open her presents, spending time with her, eating Chinese with her, and cherishing her company. It was just too bad that I had to work that evening, as I would’ve taken her to a concert that night instead.

We agreed to make up for that on the 15th. I drove us up to Columbus, where we met up with my uncle, grandma, and sisters for a little bit. From there I took her to Tuttle Mall, where we proceeded to shop around and enjoy some Chik-Fil-A and Caribou Coffee. It was a great day, a fun day, and I was enjoying myself immensely. On the way home I experienced my discomfort that I had been having yet again while driving. I toughed it out and got back to Ashley’s house, where we sat down to watch some preseason football.

Not five minutes passed when my discomfort returned. I stood up and went into Ashley’s kitchen to get a bottle of water and clear my head. That’s when it hit, coming out of nowhere, like nothing I had ever felt before. I felt a surge through my whole body, my chest tightened hard from the middle out, and I could feel my heartbeat gallop into the sunset. I keeled over the table, not having any clue what was wrong with me. I felt to myself, is this a heart attack?! Is this a heart attack?!! Ashley’s family was a tremendous help, sitting me upright and helping me breathe, as I was hyperventilating. They wanted to call a squad right away, but I wanted to see what my family thought first. Ashley called my mom and dad, and they arrived about 15 minutes later to check me out. I was sweating profusely, twitching randomly, breathing rapidly, and still my heartbeat was fast. My family and Ashley’s, and myself, all came to the mutual decision to call a squad.

Not long after the call was made, the squad showed up. I was impressed and happy with how quickly they responded. Three EMTs came in to check me out. My pulse and blood pressure were astronomical, and I told them about my tingliness. They agreed that it was a concern and asked me the usual litany of questions about allergies, family history, personal history, etc. They checked my blood sugar; I was evidently normal. From there they walked me out to the ambulance and it was off to the emergency room with me.

I was very scared from the time my “attack” happened, and that fright just refused to subside. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t calm down, and my “surging” feeling refused to go away. All I could think was, am I dying? Am I ill? What’s wrong with me? Am I going to make it out of the hospital? Is Ashley okay? My family?

I was wheeled on a stretcher into the emergency room. So it began. I was given two separate IVs, one in each arm. They took a blood sample. They took a plasma sample. They checked my pulse, my temperature, my heart rate. My pulse averaged 140 or so during the entire time I was in the ER, and if I remember correctly my blood pressure was 180/100. The whole time I clenched my mom and dad’s hands, or Ashley’s, depending on who was in the room with me.

The madness didn’t end. I was hooked up to an EKG monitor. They took a chest X-Ray. Four different nurses and two different doctors came in to talk to me. The whole experience was both clear and fuzzy at the same time, I didn’t know what to think or feel other than negative, frightful thoughts. I was in the middle of a whirlwind of needles, wires, beeps, pokes, and questions.

Perhaps one of the most frightening tests I went through was this scan where I was slid on my back into a giant, cold, tight metal tube. That’s not the worst part. Before I was slid into the tube they gave me a shot of dye. They warned me it would feel “a little funny.” They should rephrase that and say, “this should feel like the creepiest physical experience of your entire life.” Within seconds after the shot, my entire body felt like it was burning from the inside out. I clinched my eyes shot and prayed fervently, just wishing that somehow it would all go away.

Later on, while I was still laying in the emergency room bed, I had the worst “attack” yet. My chest felt as if it was exploding. I sat upright quickly, feeling my eyes bug out as I grabbed my heart. I moved quickly and without caution as I sprung up, I tugged hard on my IVs. I could hear my mom faintly yelling (if you know my mom that’s an understatement, for her to be faint especially next to me, meant I was truly in a whirlwind) “Help! HELP! He needs HELP over here!” In that moment I swore I was dying. It was the scariest feeling yet. A nurse came over, and saw that my pulse and BP had shot up. She gave me a shot of a drug called Atavan.

I could’ve sworn something was wrong with me. I was dying, or gravely ill, or going insane. My thoughts were all negative. I was saying the most ridiculous things. “Ashley, promise me you’ll never stop singing. “If I ever get out of here, I’m gonna do this.” so on, so forth.. outrageous statements. But I really thought it was all over.

They admitted me to the hospital that night, saying that they were to take more tests in the morning. I couldn’t sleep at all, it was the longest night I’ve ever experienced. I couldn’t watch television. I couldn’t listen to my iPod or do anything at all. When a nurse asked me that night if I needed anything, I merely asked her for something to write with. I wrote Ashley a poem and a letter.

The whole night, my thoughts were an endless snowball of negativity. I didn’t think I was ever getting out. I thought about my friends. Did they know I was in here? Would they care if something happened to me? What’s my legacy going to be? How will I be remembered? What have I truly accomplished?

I listened to one album only, Marillion’s Misplaced Childhood, my favorite album of all time. I tried to watch TV, nothing could interest me. My chest remained sore. Every time I managed to drift off to sleep, I awoke within minutes with a chest discomfort/tightness, or a nurse would come in and check on me. I could get no rest.

Morning came soon enough. I was shocked to discover, as I opened my eyes, I had actually gotten one whole hour of uninterrupted sleep. I awoke to a friendly nurse taking my blood pressure. I asked her what my BP and pulse were. 120/85 and 63, respectively. They had both went back down to normal levels since the night before. I was shocked and at the same time, ecstatic. That HAD to be a good sign. For the first time in twelve hours I had a smile on my face.

They called off one test (I had no clue what it was and couldn’t figure out whether it was good or bad that they cancelled it). My only test that morning was an insane experience. They basically took an ultrasound of my chest and legs to check on my heart functions, and to make sure I had no clots of any kind. This was surreal. The computer screen showed a perfect image of my heart. I laid there and watched it pump, churning away, seeing my blood go in and out, moving through my body. I could hear an amplified version of my heartbeat. I could hear the thud of its muscles, and the squishing of my blood. This muscle, I thought, is the only thing that keeps this whole gig running. Its health is vital to my health as a whole. If this little buddy peters out, the shebang goes with it. I was fascinated and found a new appreciation for the heart, its functions, and its role in my survival.

There were a few more hours of waiting. Fortunately, Ashley had arrived and was keeping me company. I was so thrilled, so happy to see her. She was a tremendous comfort. My parents were on their way and I lay there with Ashley, waiting for either my folks or a doctor, whoever it may be that comes first.

The doctor came first, to let me know what was wrong with me. I was much relieved to find out that my parents’ suspicions were true, I just suffered from anxiety. I drilled the doctor with questions, trying to make absolute sure that’s what was wrong. He said I was healthy as can be, no blockages or unusual rhythms or clots or anything. The flushing, warm feeling of happiness covered up any discomfort I had at the time and I felt my thoughts clear back up.

My parents came to pick me up, just in time to see me get a Holter monitor attached to my chest and back. I had to wear a portable monitor for the next day, so if I did have any peculiar heartbeats or arrythmias, they could be detected.

I carried on with my life as usual from there on out. I still awoke nearly every night for the longest time with a sudden rush in the chest, and I struggled getting to sleep. I never knew whether or not I was dying, or if it was just anxiety, or what was going. In the end though, I got through.

After the longest time, my discomforts finally started to go away. After only a handful of anxiety attacks within the month after the first, I stopped having them. As of the writing of this blog I’ve gone a little over three months without anxiety attacks. I look at the steps I took to make them go away..

I took better care of myself. I slept at least an hour or two longer every night. I tried not to worry so much, and I started doing breathing exercises. I reconciled with those I had conflict with. I cut back on my caffeine intake. I took a different job at Arby’s, getting hired there a fortunate two weeks after being laid off at Vitatoe. Anxiety defeated.

I haven’t been the same since that first anxiety attack. It’s odd that it takes thinking one’s dying, to make oneself truly want to live. What if I would’ve actually died that night? Well, I didn’t. I’m not going to take my life for granted anymore. Death can happen by any cause at any time for any reason. I’m not worried about where I’m going after I die, however I’m worried about what I leave behind when I do go. I’m not talking about physical or monetary possessions.

What have I accomplished, what will I accomplish? What have I created, what will I create? How have I touched others, how shall I touch others? I’ve been living my life with a purpose over the past few months. I realize I have a fear of being forgotten. I have a fear of not making my mark on this world, of not having any kind of impact. I made a bucket list of sorts. I started a blog, what you’re reading today. I made more of an effort to manage my time wisely, to spend more time with family and friends and my lovely girlfriend Ashley. I started working on a few novels. I’ve finally started doing so much that “i’ve been meaning to.” Well, I’m finally doing it.

And it took me thinking I was dying to trigger this.

This is my history.

I’m going to die someday. What I’ve written, however, won’t go away. (That’s as long as the Internet’s around, but that’s another story)

This is why I blog and write. I want others to learn from my experiences. I want others to avoid the mistakes I’ve made. I want others to enjoy the amazing experiences I’ve enjoyed. I want my life to be framed and accessible to those who wish to learn about it. I want to reach out to others. I want to make the world a better place one way or another. I want others to feel better about who they are. I want others’ dreams to come true.

It all starts with me… and it all starts with you.

Let’s write when we can spare the time and energy. Let’s share everything that we enjoy, and help others when we can. Take some time to read others’ work, learn a lesson or two, add every experience you have and every fact you can gather to your mind. If we all do this, we all become smarter and more experienced people. We make more of the world around us. We add more to our lives, and to others’ as well.

That… is why I blog. And it’s why you should too.

Tyler Woodbridge on Writing (Part Three: High School)

December 15, 2009

High school dawned. I was busy with football, constantly lifting weights and running and trying to maximize my physical potential. On the first day of school, I realized that I had to drop a class I had been taking for four years (Band) due to the fact that football would interfere with me getting the most out of the experience. I went to the guidance counselor and asked what classes were open. A journalism/newspaper writing class happened to have room, and I managed to get in.

With me having a natural flair for writing that was well-developed at the time, I picked up journalism rather easily, however, at first I had a few minor difficulties. My writing style was a bit too grandiose, I had to practice paring down the words and getting straight to the facts. I also lacked patience when it came to writing draft after draft of a short article, and some of my article ideas were far too ambitious for the deadline space I was given. More often than not I found myself scrambling at the last minute to get interviews or facts that I couldn’t’ve gotten before due to my busy schedule.

My first teacher, Mrs. Murphy, was an odd cookie. I liked her a lot, but sometimes it seemed that she got too caught up in running things “by the book.” She even forced me to write a retraction on a controversial article that I wrote about unhealthy eating/exercise habits practiced by school wrestlers; that didn’t gain me any favors with my wrestling team either. I was given all kinds of throwaway article assignments and received endless grief from her. It didn’t phase me too much at all, as I respected her and learned quite a bit.

Murphy left, and as my sophomore year rolled around I ended up with Mr. Ben Gerard Broschart as my teacher. He was a riot, he was a funny and easy-going guy that ran an enjoyable class. I have no ill statements to make about Mr. Broschart. He was brutally honest about the strength of my articles (or lack thereof), helped me pick up interviews and hone my skills, and made layout nights (I became an editor that year, and was one for the rest of high school) extremely fun. I was very immature and made all manner of mischief throughout my sophomore and junior years; Broschart had to come down hard on me every now and then. I appreciate how he handled my misbehavior, stern yet understandable, and think that he was a very professional yet accessible teacher. If I could list my five favorite teachers and professors I’d ever had, Ben Broschart would definitely be near the top, if not at the top. Hey, he helped me understand and accept U2 and Bruce Springsteen, now two of my favorite artists, so how can I not love him?

Mr. Broschart accepted a job in another school district, and his reign gave way to Mr. Jeff Fisher. “Fish,” as we affectionately called him (no relation to the sensational Marillion singer that I idolize), was barely older than his students, fresh out of college. He was like a perfect mix of Murphy and Broschart. He ran the class by the book while letting us have a little fun at the same time. Journalism remained my favorite class during my senior year, and I accomplished a lot of in-depth projects under his reign. It’s regrettable that I can’t find any copies of my work from senior year anywhere, as that’s the work I’m proudest of and should I pursue journalism again, those articles would look great in a portfolio.

The friends I made in Journalism class are unforgettable and incredible influences on me as a person today. I went from being a shy, quiet, overachiever my freshman year; to being the outgoing, musical, life-loving person I am today, and much of that transition was brought about by the friends I made in Journalism class. I’d like to give a nod here to three of my favorite people from Journalism and thank them for what they’ve done for me.

Kayla Rosebrook, who was already one of my great friends, ended up becoming my closest ally in high school. I talked to her every day in that class, no matter what, and was very close to her for a long time. I’d confide in her about anything and she would do the same. Her intelligence, wit, talent, and friendliness shined through in everything and I know to this day, although we rarely talk, I can still trust her to be a rock solid colleague and friend.

She seems like a completely different person now, but Lara Wheeler and I didn’t get off on the right foot. She went from barely contributing to the paper and hating me due to my overbearing personality, to becoming an excellent writer, a great friend, and a huge influence and support to me today. We became even closer after high school, and shared many things: music, rides, money, memories, adventures. I’m honored to say she’s one of my best friends of all time, and I’m glad I met her, thanks to Journalism class.

What can I say about Jessie Ford? Out of everyone in the class, she seemed to get the biggest kick out of my personality, creativity, boldness, and determination. Profoundly talented and extremely easy to get along with, she was perhaps a bit too encouraging of my insanity. She provided just as many, if not more laughs than anyone else in the class and is now a design professional. Check out her work here. I haven’t kept touch with her as much as everyone else, but when I think back on Journalism class, her face is usually one of the first to pop up. What a great girl.

There were many, many others who made Journalism class a great experience. Alex Buchanan, Tyler Stewart, Allison Hornyak, Chris Germann, Amanda Tootle, Marissa Tackett, Erin Casey Cottrill, Vanessa Triplett, Taylor Harrison, Tripp Lowery, and several others contributed laughs, memories, advice, help, and various other influences. They’re all unforgettable in different ways.

I ended up deciding to pursue journalism in college at Wilmington, where I majored in Communications and played on the football team. I ended up having to leave after my freshman year and have been out of college ever since due to incidents out of my control, but that’s a blog and a story for another day. I’d like to give a nod here to David Goguen, who was one of my favorite professors at WC. He was full of stories and was very friendly and helpful, I can’t thank him enough for the opportunities and praise he gave me.

I also picked up another writing interest in high school: Comedy writing. It all started when myself and my friend Austin Drewyor couldn’t stop making fun of another kid who played on our football team. The kid was unintentionally hilarious in just how stupid he could act, and looked like a small mammal. Therefore, Austin and I took it upon ourselves to start writing comic scripts and drawing cartoons centered around the kid, who we named Muskrat. It took off from there, with us creating endless other characters based on ourselves and those around us. My character was named Kirk, his was known as Toenail, and there was a legion of crazy, epic, random shenanigans written about in the three years to come.

I blame this comedic writing exercise as the reason for my grades being a bit lower than they should have been. Sometimes in class, instead of taking the notes on the board, Austin and I would write scripts back and forth. We’d pass them to our friends, who would cry laughing at the adventures we wrote about. I wasted so much time and energy and effort in these scripts, yet was so proud of them. We actually kept a folder through all three years that we wrote these scripts, filled to the brim with hundreds of characters, hundreds of events, and thousands of laughs. Unfortunately, these scripts have been lost or thrown away, our many hours of effort faded into nothing. Sure, we could probably write many of them again, but the spontaneity was what sparked their genius.

These scripts were a perfect example of my immaturity, my sense of humor, and the ridiculousness of our teachers and the people we knew. Austin and I wrote with coarse language, vulgar explicity, and held nothing back in our quest to bring laughter to the masses. Celebrity appearances, personal insults, drug references, blatant sexuality and tasteless gags abound peppered our Muskrat Scripts, as we called them. Those who enjoy South Park, The Simpsons, Will Ferrell or Kevin Smith movies, and Family Guy praised our work and said that we could definitely have a future in cartoon/comedy writing. I think, if Austin and I ever decided to, we could indeed make our way into the cartoon/comedy world. That’s an avenue I always want to keep open, as writing these scripts was something I enjoyed and could parlay into something useful one day. That is, if you want to count genital jokes, wanton violence, and cruel parody as useful. I like to think it is.

More to come in a future entry… as these are topics I could write about forever.

If you’re a friend of mine reading this and happen to have an unforgettable memory about CHS Journalism class from 2002 to 2006, or happened to have enjoyed a Muskrat script sometime in that time frame as well… post one of your favorite quotes or memories having to do with this topic! Unfortunately I’ve forgotten too much about two things I’ve held dear to me for so long. Your contributions are much appreciated!!

Just a Random Update

November 29, 2009

I have a horrible habit of starting projects with high ambition, only to have that drive fizzle out as I leave my unfinished work to rust.

I fear sometimes that will be the fate of this blog.

Due to work, spending time with my lovely girlfriend, and just living my life I haven’t been able to summon the mental energy or extra time needed to write very involved updates or come up with creative blog ideas. I know I’ve promised frequent updates and different entry series, and have failed to keep up on that. Don’t worry, they will come eventually, just whenever I find time and effort to.

I want to be able to write like this for a living someday. I’d love to be a professional journalist, novelist, blogger, or run a website related to music, sports, writing, or video games. However, it takes a lot of time and a lot of capital to get myself involved in those industries; neither of which I have at the time. Perhaps one day my ideas will be realized… but not now.

As the new decade dawns I need to solidify my life goals. I have one of the hardest struggles taken care of already: falling in love. With a wonderful girlfriend behind me, chasing my dreams will be a bit easier. Love takes away many of the pains of living, and I’m incredibly lucky to have found somebody who loves me the way she does. She’s helped me believe in myself again, which is a huge boost to my abilities and positivity.

I want to touch others with my work, I want to be paid to do something I enjoy, and I want to be known for what I do. I refuse to accept anything less than what I am capable of. Even though I’m a few years off course in my schooling due to reasons out of my control, and won’t get a degree until at least the age of 26, I feel I have the ability to contribute a great deal to any writing-related industry NOW. I just need to keep my skills fresh, keep my eye on key opportunities, and not be complacent or lazy in anything I do. I will achieve my dreams. It all starts now, the “Teens” will be the decade of Tyler Woodbridge.

Video Game Review- Modern Warfare 2

November 24, 2009

Modern Warfare 2

There’s a very good reason I haven’t been updating this blog very often, if at all, over the past two weeks. I’ve been busy taking down choppers, laying down suppressive fire, securing strategic points, and infiltrating enemy lines in the new blockbuster game Modern Warfare 2, the latest installment in the Call of Duty series.

I was one of the millions of gamers across the nation who pre-ordered the game and stood in line awaiting its release at 12:00 AM on November 11th, 2009. This experience deserves a paragraph of its own as I had never witnessed anything like this before. Our local Game Crazy store was SWAMPED with people when I arrived at 10:00 PM on Monday. Apparently people started showing up for the launch earlier in the evening, and others yet had camped out in anticipation of the store’s opening to nab the first number ticket. Yes, a friend told me that he had seen people in tents outside the store at 5:00 AM. Insane… but not as insane as the fact that a man bought the 18th spot in line for $100. Yes, somebody just couldn’t wait a half-hour in line to get his game, and threw away a Benjamin to jump the wait. I did envy the man who sold his spot away, however, as he basically picked up a free game and a half.

After 45 minutes of waiting (Fifty other people, including a grandmother and an on-duty police officer, were ahead of me in line), I finally received my copy. I raced home, blasting Rage Against the Machine’s hit single “Guerilla Radio” in preparation for this event. I brewed some quick raspberry coffee, raced upstairs, slapped on my headset and ripped open my case in a hurry. I smiled in satisfaction as I watched my friends log onto X-Box Live, one by one, all ready to join me in combat on Multiplayer. One friend of mine walked a total of four miles to get his copy, braving wind and cold as he trudged through busy city streets. That’s dedication, folks.

Modern Warfare 2 Screenshot

MULTIPLAYER

The past few Call of Duty releases have had similar multiplayer to one another. Call of Duty: World at War‘s multiplayer seemed like an exact copy of that of Call of Duty 4 (time period alterations aside). I was afraid that Modern Warfare 2′s online battles would fall into that same rut as the past few games. While they were good games, the series was stagnating and beginning to feel like expansion packs rather than games.

Fortunately, Modern Warfare 2 is a different animal.

Compared to the previous two titles, Modern Warfare 2 boasts much more customization, variety, and replay value in multiplayer. The game retains the unlock-weapons-and-perks-as-you-play style as the titles before, which in itself leads to hours of addictive play. This style is beefed up with all-new weapons, weapon categories, perks, perk upgrades, customizable killstreak and deathstreak rewards, and challenges. Guns can be customized dozens of different ways, as the more you kill, the more you unlock; silencers, scopes, camo patterns, grenade launchers, and various other attachments can be added to nearly any gun. Pistols, shotguns, and SMGs can be dual-wielded. The excess grenade use that plagued the previous Call of Duty titles has been mitigated by different perks and less ‘nades in your starting arsenal.There are a handful of different explosive weapons and grenades at your disposal. Instead of being confined to three different killstreak rewards, you can unlock and choose your own strike. Whether you prefer UAV recon and airstrikes, or care packages and attack choppers, or even a tactical nuke; you can completely customize your style of play.

The maps are larger, more detailed, less clustered, and offer a grab-bag of strategic points and opportunities. Whether you and/or your team decide to camp a location, rove the streets, surround chokepoints, or man the rooftops; there’s really no limit to the ideas and tactics you can employ on these playing fields. One controversial move the developers made was to force all players in team games to be in the party chat; one cannot talk in an X-Box 360 party and play a team game at the same time. While this takes away the opportunity to talk with your friends that are playing other games, you’re forced to cooperate and communicate with teammates, promoting strategic conversation and, of course, endless trash talk.

I’ve spent nearly two days in game hours already playing the multiplayer with my friends, clan buddies, and even my girlfriend. There’s no thrill like unlocking a new, more powerful gun.. and the fun that follows in leveling it up and tricking it out with tiger camo and thermal scope. The “Chopper time.. hell yes!” and “AC-130 Gunship baby!!” moments that myself and my teammates have experienced have been very worth the battlefield grind it took to unlock the airstrike rewards. With the wide variety of weaponry and power-ups available, a team can mold a strategy for any gametype and any map.. and still have plenty of shoot-em-up fun.  Players can now customize their presence in lobbies with all-new unlockable Titles and Emblems. The multiplayer mode even offers third-person lobbies, a “mosh pit” that randomizes game types, and the thrilling “Game Winning Kill” cam. What’s not to like?

I have no qualms in saying that I believe the Modern Warfare 2 multiplayer mode is worth the price of the game alone.

Modern Warfare 2 Campaign Screenshot

CAMPAIGN

After several days of nonstop melon-popping and missile-dropping, I had to try my hand at the Modern Warfare 2 campaign. Of course, I chose to tackle it under Veteran difficulty, so I could experience the game in its most terrifying glory. With achievements to be unlocked, blood to be shed, and fun to be had; I was certainly looking forward to playing this.

At first, the campaign superceded my expectations. It was smoother and prettier than the other Call of Duty campaigns, yet still intense with all the fright and vigor of combat. Missions typically began and ended with interactive cut-scenes, and the loading screens connected the mission stories together with voice-overs and images. One critique of this campaign, which I also say about the other Call of Duty games, is that the characterization is a bit weak, many situations seem forced or disconnected, and some of the dialogue stale. That said, these drawbacks are minor enough that they don’t take much, if anything, away from the epic campaign.

There are many thrilling sequences and challenges in the campaign. From frantic truck rides through occupied Afghan cities to climbing icy mountains, from terrifying airport shootings to boat chases, and even a scene in outer space; there’s no shortage of unbelievable moments, popcorn-movie scenes, and fun-to-watch-and-play moments. The missions are all different enough from one another to keep the campaign fresh throughout, there are returning characters from the Call of Duty 4 campaign, and the surprising plot twists and shocking revelations make this one of the best stories in the entire series. There are images and scenes throughout the game that are downright jaw-dropping, ones that will be imprinted on my mind for ages to come.

Of course, there will be many moments where you find yourself constantly dying, pinned down by relentless enemy fire and struggling to find an escape route. This will be especially true if you decide to play under Veteran difficulty. The grind of going through fifteen lives just to make it through one city street, or taking one hallway, can be exhausting. Don’t give up, keep trying, try different movement and shooting patterns. Trust me. The game is rewarding when you tough it out through these exhausting moments. The shocking moments and fun mission varieties make up for the difficult challenges, no matter how long you find yourself hammering away at one part of the campaign.

Unfortunately, the campaign is a bit short.. but it’s definitely fun and interesting enough to tackle time and time again. This won’t win any awards for storytelling, but it’s very dramatic and worth your effort. I must mention before we continue that the graphics in this game are the best yet in the Call of Duty series.

CO-OP

There is no true cooperative campaign in this game. You won’t be able to unravel the plotline, gasp at the sheer grandiosity of the battles, and shudder at the brutality of war alongside one or more of your buddies. However, Modern Warfare 2 offers a new mode called “Spec Ops.” These are a variety of missions, challenges, battles, and even races that you can take on alone or with a friend. Depending on how hard the difficulty is, or how fast you complete the mission, stars are awarded based on performance and unlock new Ops to tackle. Many of the campaign’s thrills are offered without having to play all the way through to get to them. There are even a few Ops that don’t actually happen in the campaign, and are very worth playing on their own. With a couple dozen Ops, they offer replay value and a fresh take on the game’s addicting play.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Better graphics than ever. Thrilling, awesome campaign with its only drawbacks being brevity and a lack of major depth. An all-new co-op mode that’s fun to tackle alone or with a buddy. The best multiplayer in a Call of Duty game ever, which is saying a lot, with enough new features and a fresh feel to keep anyone playing for a long time to come.

Highly recommended to ANY gamer.. this is the best shooter I’ve ever played.. yes, better than Halo 3, which still holds a special place in my heart. But that’s a blog for another day.

Final Grade: A

Projects I’m Working On

November 5, 2009

From the responses I’ve gotten, it looks like my music reviews are a hit!! I’m happy everyone’s enjoying them and I hope I’ve done my part to spread good music to the masses. I’ll be continuing to do music reviews once or twice a week. Also, to clear things up, my letter grade I give albums is based on music as a whole. Within Melodic Rock, the W.E.T. album is a masterpiece. However I reserve “A” grades for transcendental albums and immortal classics… releases like Born to Run, Ten, Boston, albums like that. So while the two albums I reviewed are VERY good and I’ll listen to them frequently, I just don’t think they’re all-time classics. We’ll how they stand up in the future though! I’ve got a couple new albums on tap to review and a couple classics, expect them up soon. Newer releases I’ll definitely cover within the next couple months include Porcupine Tree, Europe, Winger, Muse, Alice in Chains, Wolfmother, and several more. I will also field requests for reviews and have a couple requests being done as we speak. For you video game fans, I will review a couple hot games this holiday season, including Modern Warfare 2. So be expecting some new updates on that.

I’m also going to add at least one, MAYBE two more installments on my series on writing. These entries have helped me get back in touch with parts of me that I haven’t done anything with for what seems like an eon. I will have entry series on other topics that I enjoy; music, sports, anything and everything, you name it. Hopefully soon this blog will have a better design, a better grab-bag of topics, and more interesting stuff within. So stay tuned. My goal is to be informative and entertaining at the same time, so let me know if I’ve done that at all!

Prewriting is being done on a few novels I’ve been thinking about starting for far too long. I’m cooking up a thriller revolving around war, espionage, and political intrigue… but that tale will take forever to complete. To fill up the time while I work on that, I’ll be working on some stories based around events that have happened in my life, but I will accent those with fiction and fun storytelling. It’s bascially going to be my life on steroids, but with names changed and craziness added. I’m going to have fun with it.

Thanks to everyone who’s been reading. To paraphrase Bryan Adams (or just straight rip him off), everything I do, I do it for you. Hope you’re all well and having a good Thursday, the weekend’s almost upon us!!

-Tyler Woodbridge