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The Remnants of Uncertainty...
New Blog
02/06/10 at 02:17 AM by cassusriff
I'll be posting my blogs at http://cassusriff.tumblr.com/ from now on. I may copy and paste them here occasionally but I like what I can do over on Tumblr more. I promise the new blog is more dynamic, I post videos and music and links there.

So follow me there!

Tags: new blog
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Happy Stress
07/24/09 at 12:11 PM by cassusriff
Happy stress and anxiety? Is that possible? Iíd say so. There are people out there who work 12 hour days and love their job. There are parents (no really, there are) that spend all day with their kids and love it. So I think itís possible.
But in the end, it is still stress and anxiety. So with a week to go at the company Iíve been with for over 2 years, Iím starting to feel the anxiety and the stress. But Iím happy. Iím cracking jokes at work, smiling most of the day, brushing off minor setbacks. For example, this morning I was late, I spilled my starbucks as I got out of my car, I had to walk through sprinklers to get into the building, and the phones were busy when I got in. I laughed it off and kept going. Thatís very unlike the person I have been in the past.
The whole prospect of going to UC Davis to finish my degree, to give myself the opportunity to get a degree so I can start an actual career instead of working these entry-level jobs, to finally get a shot at being a Ďrealí college student again (and by Ďrealí college student I mean NOT working more than 20 hours a week and actually staying on campus all day as I go to classes that are actually challenging and exciting) has me very excited.
But Iíve been here before, obviously Iíve never been this close, but Iíve been here. I went to Arizona State out of high school and I left after a year for so many reasons. The last two years Iíve been working at Blue Shield and going to the four community colleges in this area. I almost went to UC San Diego, I almost went to University of Washington, I planned on moving to LA, I almost joined the Navy. Iíve had a different goal every few months it seems.
So when I finally got focused and did what was best and most intelligent, I decided to go to UC Davis. I have a great major (Managerial Economics), I got great financial aid (half scholarships and grants, half loans), I figured out a way to graduate in one year instead of two, I found a cheap, efficient, environmentally friendly way to commute (biking and riding the train), and I even managed to find a part time job on campus.
It all fell into place. Itís all there. Itís all done. In a little over a week Iíll start my summer session there.
So why the anxiety and stress? Because EVERYTHING is changing. Iíve been trying to get here for three yearsÖ and now that it is here I donít know what to do. Iíve had a certain comfort level being at Blue Shield the last few years and Iím leaving that. Iím challenging myself with the most difficult classes Iíve ever taken and Iím taking a heavier schedule than most students because Iím trying to graduate in one year. Iím switching from driving to biking and using public transit. Iím holding myself to a much stricter budget because Iím not going to be making the same amount of money. Itís all great, but god dammit it is scary.
I keep waiting for something to fall apart. But it canít. There will be minor setbacks, there always will be. But I got all the major stuff figured out.
I donít know many people whoíve taken as many risks and accepted as many failures and gone through as many changes as I have the last 3 years. This one is major and it is understandable that Iím a bit anxious for it. But shouldnít I be used to this by now?
Iím afraid though. Itís why I havenít bought any school apparel. For every college I almost went to I bought a shot glass, a hoodie, or something with the schoolís name and I always ended up not going. I took my bike in for a major tuneup because I fear that it will fall apart on the first day I ride to school. Iím buying my books as early as I can. Iíve budgeted myself out for a whole year. I havenít officially sent an email to all my friends in the company letting them know that my last day is a week from today (though my notice is in of course). Iím treading carefully. And everyone who is close to me feels the pressure and the anxiety too. They know Iím on the brink of where Iíve wanted to be for years. They know I need this to work and frankly, they do too.
Hereís to hoping. Hereís to futures and changes. Hereís to a new chapter that truly pays the dividends.
Tags: Stress, life, school, work, change, more serious personal blogging
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Looking Back On Today...
12/31/08 at 01:06 PM by cassusriff
So I'm at work on New Year's Eve. Just like last year. Something is different though. At this point last year I was a wreck. I had lost many things that were dear to me.

I was less than a month away from moving out. I had just ended a three-year relationship. I had just lost a person who was very integral in my growth as a person. My plans had failed. My expectations had fallen. I was alone. I was anxious and downtrodden.

I was pathetic.

So I started writing again. Self-reflective stories and blogs. I revived one of my greatest passions after inexplicably ignoring it for a few years.

This lack of enthusiasm, care, eagerness, what have you, would plague the many months that followed in my 19th year.

2006 was my year of change. I graduated high school, moved to Arizona, met new people and did new things. I was a man... or so I thought.

2007 everything fell apart. I truly became a man that year, not because I became self-sufficient or anything, but because I paid for my mistakes. Because I finally had to own up to my actions. Once I had returned from Arizona, I had found that everything I left behind was weaker than before. My support system was falling.

Later that month, my spirit and my mettle were tested when an old teacher, a mentor, and a friend of mine died. I received the news in the worst way, while I was with my girlfriend of the time on a nice date. He was the kind of mentor that made you hate him and pulled every one of your strings until you were completely unraveled. He pushed you to the edge of a cliff and he dared you to jump. He shook your spirit and put it back together just before it would completely disappear. He taught me theatre, and I don't love theatre and I don't want to pursue it as a life goal, but his lessons were transparent and golden. I didn't need to be in theatre to cherish them.

Then it all fell apart. The last thing I had to hold onto, which sadly was my faulty three-year relationship, finally gave way.

And then I got blindsighted. And my three-year relationship was over. On the day the new campaign began at work. Just when the future was looking up. And this blow knocked me out for months. The holidays were empty and meaningless. I didn't eat for weeks after the breakup so my favorite holiday (Thanksgiving) was ruined. Christmas was stressful as usual and I just didn't have the love in my heart to get through it. I hated my families for making me travel so much to see them all. I hated the tug of war for everyone to see me when I don't matter during the rest of the year. But I still bought my parents awesome gifts and my siblings as well. I still drove three different places in three days.

I think that explains why I had a predetermined hatred toward the holidays.

February was awful, I went to a strip club on Valentine's Day. I sought comfort from a stripper. I was pathetic. I was useless and worthless and etc etc etc.

It was at that point that I realized how far I had fallen. I had no desire, I had lost myself. I thought I was bipolar. I was all over the place, desperate and fake and outside of who I really was.

And so now, on this night before my 19th year ends. I'm nearly finished with my classes, on the brink of another big campaign for work, and close to a summer in which I need to make some big decisions, take a few epic trips, and keep things in perspective

This is where I began to turn it around. But even then when I thought I had, everything fell apart once more. I moved to San Diego and was ready to go to a 4-year college again. I was on track to get my Bachelor's degree in 2010 and I was stoked.

But uhh... money?

I woke up this morning expecting to work another day at my new job in San Diego, then look at a few places where I could rent a room.

I ended the day back in my apartment in Folsom (near Sacramento).

So at this point I'm sitting in my car in the parking lot. I have negative money, a maxed out credit card, no job, no place, no way to attend school. I start thinking about the month I've had and how it was so great and how it taught me so much about myself. I persevered as long as I could... to the very bitter end. I literally tried and tried until I was absolutely knocked out. And the funny part is that I almost made it. I would have had a rough few weeks, but had that job worked out I would have made it.

But, another one of those 'almost' moments in my life wasn't enough for me at that time.

There it was. In retrospect, it was the best thing that could've happened to me. But at that time...

I guess I'm just sick of the failure. I'm sick of the cards never falling right. I'm sick of the disappointment. I can only stay honest and motivated and pure for so long.

And something about this place makes me feel so alone.

So I sucked it up and moved back to my apartment in Folsom. I signed up for classes at the same damn Community College. I went to work for the same damn company in a different department. But in the midst of all that I found some time to myself. I cut back on the social life and took time to explore my creative outlets. I wrote poetry, read, watched movies, just took time to myself while I waited for my new job to begin and for school to start.

Have I lost the motivation and drive I used to have? Absolutely not. Have I chilled out and slowed down a bit? Yes.

I've gotten to the point where I will be driving and a smile will come to my face naturally. That is unbelievable. I don't have a girlfriend, I don't hang out with people every day, I'm not out saving the world or anything... but I'm still happy.

For the first time in my life, I'm just happy with who I am and what I do. I don't worry about what people are thinking about me or if they are going to call me back, I just let it roll and enjoy whatever is going on.

Now this is bliss.

I think this is where things began to turn for me. I regained a lot of confidence. I went into the semester and my new job with a whole new outlook, completely recharged. I had my goals set once again and I was finally ready to date again, but only if the right girl came along.

During my actual summer vacation, I took time to myself to write, watch movies, relax, exercise, play video games, read, and whatever else I felt like. But I also partied, visited many parts of CA, laughed, done crazy things, and just had an amazing time with my best friends.

I topped all of that off with an amazing last week of summer full of good times, good laughs, and good friends.

So I get home tonight and I feel motivated again. I feel like this year isn't going to be about heartache or depression or disappointment, but instead strength, happiness, and success.

I realize who I am. And I love who I am. This is somewhere I haven't been often. So now I find that I have a lot to do. I'm not scared and I'm not overwhelmed. But you are damn right if you think I'm being a perfectionist about what I want to do with the next year of my life. I feel a tiny bit unsettled right now because I have a lot I want to do.

See how motivated I got? Isn't that great? A couple more bumps along the way though. My roommate situation didn't go as smoothly as I thought, but eventually it settled. I thought I found the right girl for me, but it turns out it was the NEXT girl that was the one who was right for me.

Life is just moving too fast. For the first time I'm feeling a bit resistant to growing up. I'm scared because my actions mean more and more everyday. This isn't high school anymore, I can't just say something stupid and get away with it. People rely on me. People listen to me and care about what I have to say. People are affected by my actions. It's all a bit daunting.

But that all got figured out (you can read in my story The Defining Phrase) and I had a few more cool moments.

Just voted for the first time. Feels great. I won't tell you who and how I voted, but I'm pretty sure I picked the right guy ;)

Then everything came together all at once... it was a beautiful moment.

I've been searching a long time for you clarity...

It's nice to have you.

So I'm sitting here at work, happier than I've been in years. I have amazing friends who are loyal and fun. I have a girl who fits me perfectly, who is everything I've always wanted. I have a good family and have gotten closer to all of them. I have a good job, two degrees on the way, a guaranteed transfer to UCSD or UCLA, a promising situation with my career and life in general, and a nice place with nice stuff.

I can't complain.

2006 - year of change.
2007 - yaer of fallout.
2008 - year of rebuilding.
2009 - year of dividend.

I know there will be more bumps in the road, but for the first time in 3 years I feel like I have it together, at least a little bit. Instead of last year when I was desperate for a new year just so I could get a fresh start. This time I'm just ready, waiting, willing to keep going. Happy about the direction I'm heading.

Bring on 2009. Happy New Year!
Tags: nostalgia, personal, 2008, year, blog, life
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EOTY List Part 2 - Top 10 Albums
12/31/08 at 06:39 AM by cassusriff
Best Albums (Top 10): I have never had such a difficult time putting together a list. All but a few of the albums in the top 10 could've easily been supplanted by another in 11-30 list. This was a really good year for music. It seems like good bands are sprouting up all over the place and that the same old formula isn't going to hold up for many people. Without further digression, here is my top 10!

Cinematic Sunrise - A Coloring Storybook and Long Playing Record - EP

The Narrative - Just Say Yes - EP

In an unprecedented move, I put two EP's and counted them as one album. It's my EOTY list, I can do what I want. I recently purchased both these EPs and was blown away by the excellent blend of male and female vocals. Cinematic Sunrise is a bit more bouncy and energetic while The Narrative has a full sound that just draws you in. Either way, I simply can't wait for more material from these bands. The two best EPs you'll find this year.


Anberlin - New Surrender

New Surrender is not Anberlin's best album. Not even close. So in a year with this much good music, to make number 9 on the list shows that Anberlin is one of the most consistent bands around. New Surrender has a bit more of a mainstream feel, but Stephen's vocals are better than ever and his lyrics still touching. The band rocks with "The Resistance" and "Disappear" but showcases beauty and reverence with tracks like "Breathe" and "Retrace" This album is a must-own and it may not even be their third-best album.


Jack's Mannequin - The Glass Passenger

A truly polarizing album in every way. Andrew's vocals are loose and untouched. His voice wavers with despair and spirit as he takes us through his journey from the last few years. His lyrics are brash and honest, yet eternally hopeful. Songs like "Spinning" and "Swim" are instant classics, while "Hammers and Strings" and "Caves" are unlike anything you've heard and take a while to digest. A successful album that will grow with time.


Copeland - Say Hello to Sunshine

Sunshine combines the lightness from In Motion with the darkness from Eat, Sleep, Repeat. Tracks like "What Do I Know" and "The Grey Man" are more upbeat while "The Day I Lost My Voice" is a truly beautiful song that takes you through slowly and dilerberately. Aaron Marsh has never been better vocally and the band continues to experiment with new sounds. The lyrics mix despair with optimism well and the album will have you lost in its soothing sound.


City and Colour - Bring Me Your Love

An underappreciated album, simply said. Dallas Green not only has a near perfect voice, but his songs manage to take simple chord progressions and make them go deeper than one could imagine. Each song has its own unique identity but doesn't deter from the overall feel of the album. "Sleeping Sickness" hits you hard. "As Much As I Ever Could" closes the album with a hauntingly beautiful sentiment. A true gem that will take you to another place.


Fall Out Boy - Folie A Deux

Fall Out Boy is probably the most polarizing band in this scene. They always manage to stay in the limelight one way or another, good or bad. Despite all that, they know how to make a kick-ass record. From the opening of "Disloyal Order of the Water Buffaloes" you can tell this album is going to combine the best of Fall Out Boy's previous sounds. The lyrics are chant-worthy and will be quoted in profiles and blogs across the world. The band has an amazing pop-sensibility, notably in "America's Suitehearts" and "Coffee's For Closers". "What a Catch, Donnie" builds into a beautiful reprise of all FOB has brought to the table so far, and there is no better way to describe this album.


Valencia - We All Need A Reason To Believe

Valencia gives us a reason to believe in good pop-punk again. The songs are catchy, but still rock. The lyrics are simple, but have meaning. "The Good Life" is a gem of a song in every way. "Better Be Prepared" is a kick-ass way to start the album. Shane's lyrics and vocals are easily digestible, which makes the album all that much more enjoyable.


House of Heroes - The End Is Not The End

A 15-song album with no throw-away tracks is quite an accomplishment in itself. What's even more of an accomplishment is how they manage to give each song a unique identiy, spanning many different styles and pulling them all off. Tim Skipper's vocal range is out of this world and the instrumentation is spectacular. What House of Heroes proves here is that a pop album can still rock. Their lyrics are honest and relate to the world we live in right now. They tackle the problems directly, but always offer a hope that springs from the album title, The End Is Not The End. In the end, this album is something that every other pop/punk/rock/alternative/whatever album should strive to be.


Thrice - The Alchemy Index Volume III and IV: Air and Earth

I don't like to think of this album separately from Volume I and II, so when this album was released I was finally able to take in the entire project. The lyrics are incredibly beautiful, the music goes places Thrice has never been. Air is the best of all the EPs and builds from melodic and beautiful harmonies to Dustin's signature scream. Earth explores the folk side of Thrice and is reminiscent of Dustin's solo work. As a whole, the Alchemy Index is a work of genius. The band pushes the envelope in every way and provide some of the best music, lyrics, and theme around.


Forgive Durden - Razia's Shadow: A Musical

Talk about genius. Thomas Dutton and his brother managed to write a musical using influence and vocalists from the scene. The story itself is solid and imaginative, enough so that a casual listener would be put off a bit. The music is catchy, upbeat, weird, emotional, and dramatic... everything that makes a musical great. Dutton creates a hybrid of a damn good pop-punk record with a damn good musical. His vocals are fantastic as are all the guests he brings on (especially Urie, Salpeter, Huffman, and Bemis). The characters are all unique and the story never drags but instead moves too quickly. Every song has a redeeming quality and never left my head. With every listen I found something else to love about this album. And for that reason, it is my best album of 2008.

Best Songs: Way too many songs I liked this year. I bought over 1000 and liked at least 800 of them. These are just a few of the songs that defined my year.

20) Wolftron - "Beautybird"
19) The Reign of Kindo - "Breathe Again"
18) The Morning Of - "The New Is In"
17) Lydia - "A Fine Evening For A Rogue"
16) Promise of Redemption - "Trace Those Steps"
15) Jason Mraz - "If It Kills Me"
14) Augustana - "Rest, Shame, Love"
13) Panic at the Disco - "Northern Downpour"
12) The Hush Sound - "Break The Sky"
11) The Narrative - "Libra"
10) Cinematic Sunrise - "Goodbye Friendship, Hello Heartache"
09) Anberlin - "Retrace"
08) Jack's Mannequin - "Hammers and Strings"
07) Copeland - "Good Morning Fire Eater"
06) City and Colour - "Sleeping Sickness"
05) Fall Out Boy - "What A Catch, Donnie"
04) Valencia - "The Good Life"
03) House of Heroes - "In the Valley of the Dying Sun"
02) Thrice - "A Song For Milly Michaelson"
01) Forgive Durden - "The Missing Piece"

Best Staying Power (Albums Released in 2007):

My Top 5 last year was:
05) Eisley - Combinations
04) Radiohead - In Rainbows
03) Foo Fighters - Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace
02) Thrice - The Alchemy Index Part I & II Fire and Water
01) Say Anything - In Defense of the Genre

A year later, this is how I would rank my top 5 albums from 2007.

05) Radiohead - In Rainbows
04) Four Year Strong - Rise Or Die Trying
03) Anberlin - Cities
02) Say Anything - In Defense of the Genre
01) Thrice - The Alchemy Index Volume I and II: Fire and Water

Band/Artist of the Year: Say Anything makes this list because they managed to stay relevant without even releasing an album. Max's song shop was a brilliant way to connect to fans personally and increase revenue. Forgive Durden made an incredible concept album with a fantastic viral marketing campaign. Fall Out Boy did the same.

03) Say Anything
02) Forgive Durden
01) Fall Out Boy

Best Movies: Pretty good year for movies if you don't include The Dark Knight, which makes it a great year for the movies. I haven't seen a lot of the good movies that have come out yet, so I will count those for next year. Benjamin Button was an incredibly touching movie with beautiful cinematography. Wall-E was the pinnacle of animated film. Iron Man was the second best superhero movie this year. Pineapple Express was the best comedy of the year. The Dark Knight... well I talk all about it right here.

05) Pineapple Express
04) Iron Man
03) Wall-E
02) The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
01) The Dark Knight

Best TV Shows: Heroes has never been the same since Season 1, but is starting to come on again after a sub-par beginning to Season 3. The Office started slow as well and may be nearing it's end. The Big Bang Theory is a truly underrated show that is always good for a laugh. Pushing Daisies will be sorely missed, as it was a unique gem of a show. How I Met Your Mother is incredibly consistent and always funny while finding the perfect moments to be sentimental.

05) Heroes
04) The Office
03) The Big Bang Theory
02) Pushing Daisies
01) How I Met Your Mother

Most Anticipated Release of 2009: Will 2009 be as good a year for music as 2008? Hard to say, it has a lot to live up to. Here are some albums coming out next year that I am stoked for though.

05) Deftones
04) New Found Glory
03) Thrice(?)
02) Say Anything
01) Brand New

And that, my friends, is it! I hope you enjoyed my many categories. I have stayed up all night making this list. As always, I'd love to hear your feedback. Though I bought close to 100 albums this year, I could always use more albums and I definitely didn't get a few I wanted. Also, any other ideas for categories would be great! Have a great 2009!
Tags: eoty, music, movies, ap.net, lists, end of year, video, blog
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EOTY List Part 1
12/31/08 at 04:48 AM by cassusriff
Best Albums (11-30): My favorite albums from the year from number 11 to 30. I can't believe how many I had to keep out of this list and how low I had to put certain albums. Incredibly good year for music.

30) We Shot The Moon - Fear and Love
29) Phantom Planet - Raise the Dead
28) The Morning Of - The World As We Know It
27) Lydia - Illuminate
26) The Hold Steady - Stay Positive
25) Colour Revolt - Plunder, Beg, and Curse
24) Good Old War - Only Way To Be Alone
23) The New Frontiers - Mending
22) Paper Rival - Dialog
Ra Ra Riot - The Rhumb Line
20) Joshua Radin - Simple Times
19) Promise of Redemption - When The Flowers Bloom
18) Wolftron - Flesh and Fears
17) The Gaslight Anthem - The '59 Sound
16) Astronautalis - Pomegrante
The Reign of Kindo - Rhythm, Chord, and Melody
14) Jason Mraz - We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things
13) Augustana - Can't Love, Can't Hurt
Panic At The Disco - Pretty Odd
11) The Hush Sound - Goodbye Blues

Honorable Mention:
There was a time when I felt that any of these albums could've cracked my top 30, but here they are.
10) Drive By - A Delicate Situation
Senses Fail - Life Is Not A Waiting Room
The Academy Is - Fast Times At Barrington High
Story of the Year - The Black Swan
06) Quietdrive - Deliverance
05) The Mile After - Armada
The Audition - Champion
03) Ludo - You're Awful, I Love You
02) Keane - Perfect Symmetry
Alkaline Trio - Agony and Irony

Guilty Pleasures:
PATD is my highest rated guilty pleasure ever. The rest are albums that my friends couldn't stop spinning after I introduced them to the albums, so naturally I listened to them whenever I was in one of their cars whether I wanted to or not.
10) Panic At The Disco - Pretty Odd
09) Cute Is What We Aim For - Rotation
08) The Fratellis - Here We Stand
07) Girl Talk - Feed The Animals
06) Justin Nozuka - Holly
05) Gym Class Heroes - The Quilt
04) The Cab - Whisper War
03) T.I. - Paper Trail
02) Kanye West - 808's and Heartbreak
Hit The Lights - Skip School, Start Fights

Worst (Most Disappointing):
Death Cab's album was okay, but it just didn't stick with me. 1997 has fallen apart since their promising debut. The other bands are just washed up in my opinion.
05) Death Cab For Cutie - Narrow Stairs
04) 1997 - On The Run
03) Ivoryline - There Came A Lion
02) All American Rejects - When The World Comes Down
Weezer - The Red Album

Best Live Album/DVD: Both of these Live Album/DVDs are must owns, but John Mayer's live album/DVD is unlike any I've ever seen. Thrice is a close, close second.
02) Thrice - Live At The House of Blues
01) John Mayer - Where The Light Is

Best New Band:
House of Heroes isn't exactly new, but I didn't discover them until this year. The New Frontiers were promising and their breakup is a big loss for the scene.
03) The New Frontiers
02) The Good Old War
House of Heroes

Best Lyrics:
Great lyrics from all of these artists. Kensrue's lyrics always relate to me. Dutton mananged to write a musical with touching lyrics that weren't overly cheesy. Christian is a beautiful writer. Wentz knows how to make every song an anthem. Skipper is surprisingly poignant.
05) Tim Skipper (House of Heroes)
04) Pete Wentz (Fall Out Boy)
03) Stephen Christian (Anberlin)
02) Thomas Dutton (Forgive Durden)
Dustin Kensrue (Thrice)

Best Vocals:
Dallas Green croons like no other. Kensrue continues to have one of the most distinct voices in the scene. Christian can wail. Skipper's voice rocks but is also extremely melodic. Marsh's range is unbelievable. Sad to leave off Patrick Stump, but I liked these 5 just a bit better.
05) Aaron Marsh (Copeland)
04) Tim Skipper (House of Heroes)
03) Stephen Christian (Anberlin)
02) Dustin Kensrue (Thrice)
Dallas Green (City and Colour)

Most Overrated/Worst Band:
I'm done with Weezer. Socratic was cute for a few spins and then annoyed the hell out of me. FTSK is fun and catchy, but underachieving. The Maine and Metro Station do nothing for me... except give me ear infections.
05) Weezer
04) Socratic
03) Forever The Sickest Kids
02) The Maine
01) Metro Station

Best Blogs (Celebrity):
Love or hate them, these scene "celebrities" put out good blogs ranging from hilarious and silly to serious.
05) Paramore
04) William Beckett
03) John Mayer
02) Stephen Christian
Pete Wentz

Best Blogs (Non-Celebrity):
I read every blog of every friend I have on AP.net (I have over 100), but these 5 are the ones I will read first every day.
05) That blog with boring shit about music
04) War All The Time
03) Take This To Your [Headphones]
02) A Link to Orion
01) Music Mends Broken Hearts

Best AP.Net Thread:

04) The Old Work Thread... RIP
03) The Dark Knight Thread
02) The Valencia Chat Thread
01) LOL Wut?

Best Tour:
Admittedly didn't go to many shows this year. Here are the best of the ones I went to.
03) Alternative Press Tour w/ Rocket Summer, All Time Low, FTSK, and The Matches
Paramore, Jack's Mannequin, Phantom Planet
01) The Starting Line Farewell Tour w/ Bayside and Four Year Strong

Best Guest Vocals:
Most of these come from Dutton's musical, but Vasoli makes a good apperance in "Listen Up" and Callait is the perfect other half for Mraz in "Lucky" Huffman and Salpeter own the only two female parts in Razia's Shadow. Brendon Urie was all over the place this year, and all of his guest spots were fantastic, sometimes even more so than his own album.
05) Cobie Callait: Jazon Mraz - We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things
04) Ken Vasoli (The Starting Line): Valencia - We All Need a Reason to Believe
03) Lizzie Huffman (Man In The Blue Van):
Forgive Durden - Razia's Shadow: A Musical
02) Greta Salpeter (The Hush Sound): Forgive Durden - Razia's Shadow: A Musical
Brendon Urie (Panic At The Disco): Forgive Durden - Razia's Shadow: A Musical, Fall Out Boy - Folie A Deux and The Cab - Whisper War

Best B-Side: A fun song with John Mayer killing on the guitar, what more could you want?
01) Fall Out Boy (Feat. John Mayer): Beat It

Best Actors/Actresses:
A redemption year for Robert Downey Jr. Bale and Ledger were in the best film of the year and maybe the decade. Ledger's death put a sad spin on one of the best individual performances ever. Pitt put out a wide range of movies and owned the roles. Blanchett was impressive in "Benjamin Button"
05) Christain Bale
04) Cate Blanchett
03) Robert Downey Jr.
02) Brad Pitt
Heath Ledger

Best Book:
It is regrettable that I don't read more, but these two books got my interest this year. Jason Tate recommended Rock On and it was a great read. The Bro Code is funny and true.
02) The Bro Code (Barney Stinson w/ Matt Kuhn)
01) Rock On: An Office Power Ballad (Dan Kennedy)

Best Video Games: When I had time to play video games I enjoyed these games. I have yet to beat any of them.
05) Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
04) Grand Theft Auto IV
03) Rock Band 2/Guitar Hero World Tour (It really just depends on your preference)
02) Resistance 2
01) Spiderman: Web of Shadows

Coolest Tech Devices:
My two biggest purchases this year. My skepticism on the iPhone is gone, it is truly a fun and excellent device. My new Macbook has a smooth design, runs well, and has excellent functionality. I am set with my major technology purchases for years.
02) The New Macbook
01) iPhone 3G/iPod Touch

Best Sports Moments:
Follow the link to see a great blog of all the best sports events of the year. Below is maybe the most memorable and stunning, the Giants upset of the 18-0 Patriots in the Super Bowl.

Best Viral Video:
Prop 8: The Musical is star-studded, hilarious, and relevant. Check it out.

Tags: eoty, music, movies, ap.net, lists, end of year, video, blog
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Featured Blogger?
12/31/08 at 12:44 AM by cassusriff

Coolest thing to happen to me on this site. Because of that, I'm gonna put out my EOTY list in the next few hours.

Thanks to Jason Tate and all the staff members here (notably Adrian, Anton, and Drew) for always being chill. Users RyanFTW, Missheartcore, AnAmericanGod, and many others have been great friends and loyal readers as well.

Love this site, not leaving anytime soon! :)

Happy 2009 people.
Tags: featured blogger, thanks, happy, staff, members, ap.net
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Headfirst Slide
12/19/08 at 03:11 AM by cassusriff
So this is a rambling blog.

My problem with the story is that I feel like if I write a blog that isn't one of the chapters, I'm angering people. I have three chapters left and I will finish them soon enough, but there are too many other things on my mind that I have to get out before I can finish this damn story.

Fall Out Boy's new album is awesome. I've been back and forth with the band through their history. I never hated or loved them too much so I don't think I can ever be truly disappointed by them. Their lyrics have a way of speaking to everyone and you have to respect that. Let's just say that FOB is in my good graces and put out a top-10 album this year.

Speaking of which, I'm planning a huge EOTY list for this year. I went back and looked at my list from last year and added tons of categories. I'm going to do this thing in multiple segments and I'm totally stoked for it. Look for that to come in the next week.

So yes, I finally finished finals. I would definitely say I was spiraling and burning out in the last month. I'm still not close to feeling stable again, but I'm getting there. I still have to do a few more things to make sure I'll get my Social Science and General Education Associate's Degrees in May. But my online class schedule along with my 4 days a week of guaranteed working out with my weight training and cardio classes makes me happy. Not to mention that I don't have to worry about any of that until the end of January.

When this time of the year comes around I always get a bit nostalgic. I think everyone does. But I've been thinking about where I was a year ago. I hadn't moved out of my parent's house yet. I was recently dumped, I was lost and hating my direction. I was a mess. I was trying to find happiness in misery (FOB quote, ZOMG!).

Now I look at myself and I find that I'm trying to find misery in happiness. I've been so used to strife and pain and struggle that I don't know what to do with all this happiness in my life. I keep thinking that something bad is coming, that it is impossible to maintain this level of happiness... but nothing suggests that my happiness is going anywhere. It's crazy. I have an amazing girlfriend and a healthy relationship for the first time in... ever. My friends are all home and we are partying on saturday. I'm moving up at work. I have a good class schedule and I'm getting two degrees then transferring to UCLA or UCSD next fall. There's also one more prospect I'm excited about, but I'll get to that in a bit. Even Christmas, which is usually a terrible holiday for me, has become very enjoyable thanks to my beautiful girl. She took me to cut down a tree and decorated it with me and everything. My first Xmas on my own and she helped make it amazing.

Speaking of which, I need to do some shopping and creating. I hope to find some time in the next week to write some music, write some poetry and lyrics that aren't related to my story (though I still plan to write that as well!), continue to organize my life via my macbook and my iphone (yea, I got one... I know, I fail), and finish my EOTY list. I really want to blog more, but what is important right now are my family, friends, and girlfriend. Got plans to see a show, party, play football, have a relaxing and extended night with my girl, drive to San Jose and San Francisco to see family, exchange gifts and try to avoid annoying family bitterness and just have some cheer for once. If I've learned anything in my relationship, it's that I am a bit closed off and jaded. I'm trying to let go a bit more.

So back to organizing. I love syncing my calendar and contacts with my macbook and my iphone. I've been so crazy about it and still have some more tweeking to do. I like having lists and contacts with complete information.

And about that other prospect? Well I'm looking at joining the military. Before you jump on my ass about it, let me tell you that I'm looking at the officer program and won't join unless they pay for the next two years of college. The Navy is looking like the best bet right now. Basically, they have a program where they would pay me something like $3000 a month while I'm in school from Fall 2009-Spring 2011. I wouldn't have to work anything more than a part time job and I'd be able to focus on school and get my degree in Economics. Then when I went off to active duty for 4 years I'd be able to be a higher rank as an Officer, travel the world, work in Intelligence (which I love and would have a blast doing), save up money for my graduate degree, have a steady job and priceless experience, and no debt. By the time I'd be done with active duty I'd be 27, on my way to a graduate degree, have enough money to buy a house, have a guaranteed job with the Navy or enough experience on my resume to get a good job in what would be a hopefully recovering Economy, and be at a place in my life that would make me extremely proud and fulfilled.

Think of all of that what you will, but just the prospect of a free, unabaited education and a guaranteed job that I'm sure I'd love at the very least more than my current one makes my beam with excitement.

For the first time in years I feel like I have a track I am on. I feel like I have a purpose and I have my life figured out.

And if you don't like where I'm going, thats fine. You can just read my EOTY list and my story and my blogs about music. You don't have to like me as a person.

Anyway, good to be writing again. Much love to all of you!

Tags: update, life, blogging, EOTY, music, school, military, fob, iphone
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Drama Breeds Popularity
11/22/08 at 09:45 AM by cassusriff
Sitting here in Poly Sci class reading the comments and loving them. I'm trying to study for my midterm that will be administered at the end of class but I just had to write something before I got back to the important stuff in my life (you know, like PASSING my classes so I can transfer).

I've surpassed 200 comments and 20,000 views, quite an accomplishment considering that just over a month ago I was at 100 comments and 10,000 views. I'm climbing the AP boards, and it is all due to this story I'm writing.

One of the reasons I've been so open about this situation is because I'm trying to learn how to handle both positive and negative comments. If I ever want to be a writer or in any kind of public, leadership position, I need to be able to handle negativity and dissent. Anyone can embrace positivity and praise, I love the anger and passion that my story is encouraging. This means that people are emotionally connecting to the story, one way or another. Few of you actually know any of the people involved, but your concerns for them are that of people who are close friends.

Just know, negativity isn't going to affect me. If I was vulnerable to the thoughts of people I didn't know, I obviously wouldn't be posting this story for the public to read.

Anyway, I might get Ch. 6 out today, but I have a lot of stuff going on. Let me just remind you all that we aren't even halfway there.

As always, thanks for reading! :)
Tags: milestones, comments, views, blog, story, negativity, opinion, explanation
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Work = Blah
11/20/08 at 12:57 PM by cassusriff
I'm closing in on 20k views and 200 comments... wow. Just a month or so ago I was stoked on 10k views and 100 comments. I don't know where the sudden jump happened, but I'm loving it.

I'm pretty sure the next few chapters of the story will get me to those milestones. I have about half of chapter 5 finished, I fell asleep with my computer next to me last night. Tonight I Have no class and no plans to see anyone so I can finally hash out Chapter 5 and hopefully Chapter 6 as well.

Thank you all for your patience. I'll be off work in about 5 hours so I'm hoping to get the next part out by about 10pm my time.

BTW, I love the new AP.net, just thought I'd throw that in.

Also, I plan to update my Music I Need list this weekend.

Tags: story, book, romance, life, writing, views, comments, blog, music
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Save The Music Campaign - 100th Blog!
10/11/08 at 04:07 AM by cassusriff
Well ladies and gents, this is my 100th blog on AP.net. In a little under a year I have managed to be bored enough to vomit my thoughts into this little space 100 times. What's even crazier is that I have garnered a good amount of views in that time. I have about 100 friends on AP.net and a good amount of them check out my blog, including a couple of staff members. I've written poems, songs, angry rants, and music, movie, TV, and video game reviews. I've posted videos of me performing songs and reading my rants or reviews. I've even begun collaborating with another AP.net user (RyanFTW) and venturing into other cool entertainment ideas.

I want to thank all the people from the work thread, despite all the drama, who helped me through a lot of this really rough year. Special thanks to Alyx, who has been a true friend to me and someone who has talked me through all my craziness. I want to thank Lizzy for seriously changing my life in the last few weeks and making me feel like I can do anything. I want to thank Ryan for being crazy enough to come up with the ideas we are actually pursuing. I want to thank all the staff here at AP.net, especially Jason Tate, for giving me a soapbox to stand up on and providing this wonderful site where I spend most of my time.

Last, but not least, I want to thank all my readers/viewers who give me purpose and give me validation that what I think and write and film is entertaining, significant, or just somewhat interesting. I hope you all continue to stick around, I have a lot of cool stuff planned.

Now it is time for me to introduce the "Save The Music" campaign that stars me and RyanFTW. We are campaigning and competing for your votes to be elected Music Scene President. I hope you all will support me and help me to win this scene back. Here is my introductory video:

Here is all the info you need to stay up-to-date with our campaigns, debates, and other info. Remember to vote!

Corey Long Vs. Ryan Riddell in the Music Scene Presidential Race. A month long series dealing with the music issues that are at the hearts of all Americans. Vote for your favorite candidate by visiting his channel or blog in the links below!

Corey's Channel
Corey's Blog

Ryan's Channel
Ryan's Blog

Enjoy, and thank you all!

Tags: 100, blogs, vlogs, ryanftw, politics, music, thanks
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Things are working out...
10/01/08 at 01:03 AM by cassusriff
So you might notice that I have the Razia's Shadow preview as a private entry. I just had to compile all the info so I could get working on the blog and vlog preview I'm preparing. To clarify, I don't have an advance copy or anything, but I'm going to present all the info from all over the place in one nicely wrapped preview that is sure to get you stoked. Should be up by the end of this week.

So I decided to can the Fall TV preview because the videos had a short shelf life. Previewing an album a few weeks ahead of time or reviewing an album makes for a more watchable product. Not to mention that there are fewer spoiler alerts. So after this Razia's Shadow preview I'm probably going to roll out a top 5 countdown of albums I'm feeling that match certain criteria (ex: top five pop punk albums of 2008, top 5 albums to blast in the car with windows down, etc). Then, if I EVER get a review posted on AP.net, I'll do a vlog version of it as well. haha.

So that's all the business stuff. Personally, my life is pretty swell. I think I'm able to say that because I worked out again tonight after a layoff that was much too long. I realized that I've become a bit dependent on the endorphins that come with my daily workouts, which explains why I was beginning to unravel last night.

Can't stress enough how stoked I am about this girl that has come into my life. She made a music video of the song "Bruises" by Chairlift. This video is edited really nicely, makes her look amazing, and makes me look like a fool.

I'm in my last week of training for my new position at Blue Shield. I'm excited to see how fast I can move up in this department, I seem to catch on pretty fast.

Anyway, I'm tired. I'll catch up with you guys later. Thanks again to everyone who reads my blogs or watches my videos, means the world to me!

Tags: razia's shadow, plans, top 5 countdown, music, personal, relationships, vlogs, blogs
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Climbing the Charts
09/30/08 at 05:51 PM by cassusriff
Guess who's climbing the AP leaderboard as far as blog views?

That's right, I'm currently sitting pretty at the #14 most viewed blog on the site. Considering that I've been on this site for only about a year, that's pretty awesome. I'm really enjoying blogging and starting to expand my horizons a bit. Thank you all for the support and I'll keep posting!

Also, get ready for the Razia's Shadow preview, I'll have that video up soon!
Tags: blogs, views, top blogs, me, personal, razia's shadow, preview, thanks
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Triple Threat
09/24/08 at 02:45 AM by cassusriff
Man, here it is. The triple threat.

So obviously, you are on my blog right now.

My Youtube Channel is here, where I also do Vlogs and Reviews and such. I'm doing the second part of my Fall Television Preview tomorrow. Stay tuned for that.

And here is RyanFTW's blog, where he has his most recent Podcast up. It's awesome and though I am not on it, I contributed a discussion question as well as a song. Check it out! I guess he calls me "C-Dawg", and I am DOWN with that.
___________________________________ ___________________________________ _________________

So besides this cool little media domination I'm working on, life has been intensely interesting lately. I've met someone amazing. Because of this, I have eaten my previous words and become what I hate. Gotta love Midtown, they had it right about me many years ago. I don't really care though, I guess that goes with the territory of meeting someone amazing. I honestly thought that these kinds of connections didn't exist anymore. It sure is nice to be proven wrong on that front.

Financially and Educationally, things aren't going as well. I'm overdrawn by nearly $200 right now and I don't get paid till Thursday. I have enough gas to last me and I've continued eating homemade food and being extremely conservative with my spending (which has also been healthier!), but things are difficult. As soon as I get paid I'm going to throw all that money at rent and the new utilities. I don't even have available credit card balance to bail me out through this rough time. It really sucks. I have an aggressive plan to get myself out of debt by early next year, but it just means I'm going to have another rough month and don't have much money for fun spending.

As for school? I'm taking hard classes and I can't afford the books. The homework in both classes isn't turned in, but the tests are hard and I have nothing to study from. I'm going to check the library or maybe ask a student if I can borrow a book so I can make copies of all the HW pages so I can at least practice... but it's very difficult.

Work, however, is going really well. I just don't get paid fast enough. I'm also very eager to get out of training and onto the floor. I know I can kick ass at this job and get promoted and make more money, which I really need right now. Suddenly the future matters a bit more.

Despite the difficulties I'm going through, I have amazing friends, I'm really getting along with my family, I met an amazing girl, I'm staying in shape, I feel great and I'm smiling almost all the time. You can't ask for anything more than that. So I am grateful despite my troubles. I'm heading to LA this weekend to see the UCLA game and go to the Cab concert. Oh, and me and my best friends are going to PARTY. So that will be really nice.

Stay tuned for my next few videos: Anberlin Album Review, TV Fall Preview Part 2, and Rant on the "New Political Party".

With Love,
Tags: blog, vlog, podcast, RyanFTW, Midtown, Personal, Life, Finance, Education
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A couple of things...
09/19/08 at 05:52 PM by cassusriff
First, I fixed all my broken links from the past few blogs. My Max Bemis song is linked up again in my signature so you can download that. A few posts back I posted links to a Justin Nozuka song and a Ryan Gillmor song, so those are fixed as well.

Second and most importantly, me and AP.net user RyanFTW are going to start collaborating our blogs in different ways. I see both our blogs as very engaging and our potential is limitless. We both write in these blogs often and recently he has started doing podcasts. In addition, I've started making videos and plan to continue doing so. So you'll start hearing me do some stuff in his podcasts and he'll eventually make his way into some of my videos. So I suggest that anyone who reads my blog start visiting his blog regularly as well.

Our first collaboration is coming this Sunday when he records his next podcast. I'll be asking a question about the state of pop-punk and ask him for his "pop-punk savior" bands. I'll reveal my list as well and break down this year's pop-punk releases into 4 tiers:

Tier 1: Pop-Punk Savior Bands
Tier 2: Slighty Original, Mostly Catchy
Tier 3: Boy Band Status
Tier 4: Pussification Purgatory (Kudos to Jason Tate for the title)

Also coming on Sunday will be my Fall TV preview. Expect previews for the following shows:

-Pushing Daisies
-The Office
-Friday Night Lights
-How I Met Your Mother
-and more!

I'll also preview a few of the new shows coming this fall, including:

-Knight Rider
-Life on Mars
-My Own Worst Enemy

Subscribe to my youtube channel
Tags: blogs, collaboration, ryanftw, pop punk, television, tv, music, video, podcast
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New Blog/Vlog!
09/19/08 at 02:56 AM by cassusriff
Alright, so I've decided that I'm going to get serious about this whole blogging thing and create a blog hybrid. I'm going to continue writing out all my thoughts, recommendations, reviews, and such. But now I'm going to make videos to go along with all of this. I'm really excited about this and I hope the people who do watch (as few as they may be) will enjoy the different mediums I employ.

Here is my video of what I plan to do on my youtube channel.

This will be my main blog for the time being. I may start up a blogspot, but I enjoy writing here and it keeps the traffic coming to this site. Basically I'll post my videos in my blogs here and also post my blog link in my videos. It's cross-promotion and it's awesome!

I'll have some good videos/blogs up soon! Cheers!
Tags: blogs, vlogs, videos, music, movies, changes, excitement
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