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The Remnants of Uncertainty...
2009: A Year in Review
12/31/09 at 09:22 PM by cassusriff
I know I already wrote about what I expect from 2010, but that was in a bit of a different vein.

I remember last year around this time I was sitting at work writing a blog similar to this. And 10 years ago there was no such thing as a blog. Things have changed, of course, and this year was no different. Last year at this time I felt like I had just escaped a burning building, eager for a year in which all my hard work paid off and things finally became a bit stable. I had hoped for a year of dividend.

Did that happen? I'd say so. After some soul searching I finally ended up at the college I will graduate from, I settled into a place I know I could live in for a long time, I strengthened my friendships, my relationship with my family, and with a girl that I feel is perfect for me.

The bumps along the way weren't absent though, as I struggled personally with accepting happiness and stability, feeling as if my own life always had to be in turmoil to be function. I held onto grudges and perceptions of things that simply weren't that way anymore. I held onto anger I didn't need to. I made things harder for myself. I fought to get somewhere only to underachieve in my eyes. In the midst of all the good going on in my life, I lost myself.

This all came to a heed weeks ago, when these good things in my life started to slip away. Instead of doing what I did in the past, however, I finally took some action and redirected myself. I fought the urge to be negative and hopeless like I used to be, I dug in deep and found the person I truly am, someone who rises above and makes good out of anything.

I wrote last year that for the first time I felt like I had things together, just a little bit.

I didn't.

Can I say that now? Well, I actually have some sure things coming my way. A degree, a new career, a new way of living. The only thing I need to do? Execute. I said this before, but 2010 is the year of execution. As this new decade begins, I realize that it is probably the most important in my life. My age will span from 21-31 during this decade. I can't even begin to imagine what will happen to me during these next 10 years. In the year 2000, I was 12 years old. I had no idea I was about to meet all the people I did, do the things I did, experience the things I experienced. And these next 10 years will be even more important.

So to recall:

2006 - year of change.
2007 - yaer of fallout.
2008 - year of rebuilding.
2009 - year of dividend.
2010 - year of execution.

It's all in front of me now. I just have to do it. I have to make it all happen now. I got the break I needed. I got the slap in the face I needed. No more excuses. No more negativity. Just execution and happiness.

That's what will lead me into the most important decade of my life.

Happy New Year everyone!

P.S. Entertainment of the year will go up sometime tomorrow, I have been spending time with family and friends and haven't gotten around to it. :)
Tags: 2009, 2010, restrospection, year, personal
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20x30 (One Year Later)
05/13/09 at 03:35 AM by cassusriff
So last year I put together a list of 20 things I wanted to do before I turned 30. Well, here I am one year later and let's see if I've made any progress.

In honor of turning 20 (and mainly because I need to make this b-day mean something because 20 is a pretty useless age) I'm going to make a list of "20 things I want to do before I'm 30". I call it my 20X30 list. Don't make fun of me, I may not be an aspiring actor like many of friends are, but I still have the dreamer in me. You're about to find out just how motivated I actually am.

Without further ranting, here is my list:

20. Attend all the big Concerts: Bamboozle, Bamboozle Left, whatever else is out there. I used to go to shows all the time and I've recently started going regularly again, but I definitely need to go to these big ones sometime soon.

Haven't gone to ANY shows this year. Though the plan is to head to the east coast for Bamboozle next year.

19. Attend ComicCon and the Sundance Film Festival: Hate to put these into the same category, but talk about the top entertainment festivals. These are events anyone can go to and enjoy, so I want to do it.

Nope, haven't done this either. Though, ComicCon is still a possibility.

18. Run a Marathon: I know it's crazy, but this is a great way to stay healthy and having a goal like this will require months of training and focus. I really want to do it.

Training for this currently, hope to do one by the end of this year.

17. Triathalon: Goes hand in hand with the Marathon. Might as well do one of these too.

This will be the natural progression after my first marathon.

16. Go Bungie Jumping: I've been skydiving, this is naturally something I should try right?
Not yet. :(

15. Go Rock Climbing: I'll probably do a smaller scale climb this summer with my friends, but I want to climb an actual mountain at some point.

Well, I didn't do any rock climbing last summer... but I actually live with three of my friends now so maybe that changes this summer?

14. Go Hang Gliding: I'm quite the thrill seeker aren't I? You only live once, so why not put your life in danger to make it more exciting?

I really want to do this.

13. Shark Diving: Not sure if it's called that, but It's when you get in a cage and lower yourself into a sea with sharks. I hear it's just breathtaking... and again, another risky thing.

Do I think I'm immortal?

12. Go to a Superbowl: Preferably one in which the 49ers are playing, but it's the biggest sport event of the year, I have to go at some point.

I don't expect to do this one until my late 20's.

11. Mardi Gras: It's just one of those events that is made for someone in their 20's. Besides, New Orleans is back and needs people to make it what it used to be!

I was single back then, my desire to go to Mardi Gras is not as great as it was. Though it would still be a fun trip.

10. Casino Hoppin' in Vegas: I'm going to Vegas in a few weeks... but I'm sure it will be a bit better when I go with all the guys after I turn 21. Sports gambling, stay at a fancy hotel, do all the fancy expensive stuff, start drinking at 10am, just live it up.

Well, I'm 21 now so this is possible. Will have to wait until we all have a bit more money. I do think this will happen sooner than later though.

9. Spring Break in Cancun: If I end up going to San Diego, this may happen sooner than I think. This is something I have to do in my early 20's or else I'll just look like a creeper.

Again, not feeling this as much now. But we will see.

Alright, now for the big goals.

8. Study Abroad and Travel: If I end up going to UCSD, I plan on studying abroad my senior year, most likely for two quarters somewhere in West Europe. When I eventually go to grad school I'll probably study somewhere in Asia. I'm not expecting to see all of the world before I'm 30, but seeing as how I've only been to the Phillippines, Mexico, the West and East Coast of the U.S. and Hawaii in my first 20 years, I want to catch up a bit.

Didn't end up at UCSD, but I still see myself heading to Europe either this summer (for a short stay) or next summer probably for a month.

7. Go on a Mission Trip: Those who know me know that I'm not religious. I'm a humanist though, so I believe in helping people. I have the same desire to help as anyone and I want to make a difference and live for someone other than myself.

What sucks is that a person's charity is limited by their money and time. I have neither right now. I've been trying to organize charity events but this is something I want to do when I'm more stable.

6. Get my Undergraduate Degree: It's looking like that will be a B.A in Economics with a minor in Psychology and an International Certification to go with that.

This is THE NUMBER ONE GOAL right now. I am working on cramming two years of classes into the next year so I can get this damn degree. 2010 or bust is my goal.

5. Get an MBA from a top 15 program: Pretty damn lofty goal isn't it? I like a lot of the east coast schools like NYU, Columbia, UPenn, and Chicago, but of course I'll look at Berkeley and UCLA too. This is one of the biggest goals of my life. I want an MBA before I'm 30 and I want to go to a pretty damn good school.

This will definitely happen before I am 30. Count it.

4. Work at a good place: Considering most of my goals have been pretty specific, this one is very vague. The point is that I want to do something I love, which is anyone's dream isn't it? I just don't want to be stuck at Blue Shield the rest of my life.

This is all relative. I just got promoted at Blue Shield. I will likely take the year off to finish my degree, but I wouldn't be against coming back as long as I came back as an analyst or some higher position like that. I'm done with process work and I am getting my degree so I can start to build my business/analytical/financial career.

3. Start a Business: I'm not looking for it to be very successful before I'm 30, but I want to get it rolling. I have many ideas: A Record Label, a Publishing Firm, some sort of internet company, a Venue, a Restaurant, etc. I just want to start something, what's the point of an MBA if you aren't going to do your own thing one day?

Ideas are constantly floating in my head. I do not possess any capital to begin this, but I do have contacts that I know will be useful in the future. In this economy now though? Not likely. This is years down the road.

2. Publish a Book: One of the greatest goals of my life. I have three stories I'm working on that are in my head. I don't care if they are best-sellers or if they appeal to a very small market. I just want to see one of my books on the shelves and online before I'm 30.

I got closer to finishing a story this year than I ever have. The main thing is that I need to sit and take some time to really make it good. My writing needs some work and I need a story that I can really make into something great. But this dream is nowhere near dead and will get done.

1. Live Well: Notice how I don't have marriage or kids as a goal? There are certain things in life that you can't force or plan. If I plan to be married before I'm 30, I'm just setting myself up. I don't want to rush myself into anything as serious as marriage just because of my age. My number one goal for the next decade is to just live. To not settle or fall into anything because it's easy.

I like how profound I was. What is funny is how one person changes your perspective. I am in a relationship now and of course I always think optimistically, so now I see myself getting married before 30 and having kids after.

My priorities have definitely been adjusted a bit in the last year. My top 8 goals were pretty right on. I find that the ones before that are interchangeable. Also, I do not fret that I haven't really completed any of the goals in the last year. I've set the framework for many of them and I can see 2 or 3 being done by next year.

So what have I done in the last year?

Amazing trips to LA, finding the girl I've always wanted, moving into a place that actually feels like home, getting a promotion, 49ers game, Giants game, drinking with my friends, fall outs with family and reconciliations, growing up, maturing, enjoying the holidays again, making great friends, losing other friends, listening to great music and watching great shows, discovering new likes and dislikes, life-changing experiences.

So, list or not... it's been a great year.

Oh and btw, I'm 21 now... so uh, I can imagine things are gonna get better.
Tags: 20x30, 21, goals, life, bucket list, year, personal
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03/04/09 at 03:33 AM by cassusriff
Checking in on my proclaimed "Year of Dividends"

-I have reconnected with my half-brother and half-sister who live in New Jersey. We don't talk much, but at least they exist in my life again.

-I am making progress in my career, albeit in a lateral way. But I am interviewing for higher positions and getting raises. What bad economy?

-Have a plan that I am executing on track. The college applications are in, the visit is planned, the steps barring the acceptance are in place. It is all about waiting now.

-The weekend trip to LA solidified a select group of people as the most important people of my life. I have the people closest to me in Paris, LA, and soon to be SF. By the end of this year we will all live hundreds of miles from each other, and yet we all could never be closer.

-My healthy relationship reaches new heights every day.

-My financial situation is secure and improving every day.

-I am happier, more comfortable with myself.

-And tonight, after over a year of killing myself over a past relationship that ended because of a mistake I made, I finally got closure.

You see, there wasn't a good ending to my longest relationship to date. 3 years and it was over in an instant. We stopped talking. It took me a long time to get over her, but I eventually found the girl I am with now and discovered a happiness I never thought possible. Though I no longer missed or yearned for the past relationship, I felt an unbearable amount of guilt. I like to be good with people I care about. Even if those people aren't part of my life anymore and things ended badly, I still like to see them doing well. I don't need to have ill-will toward anyone. I also never really forgave myself for what I did even though I have taken every step to be a new and better person which has obviously brought me the great life I currently have.

But randomly, after stumbling upon my "Grudges" blog, she emails me. She almost coldly suggests that closure was had for her and attempted to provide me with mine finally. The emails went back and forth a bit and we finally chatted online. The ensuing conversation was eye-opening, honest, and mature. We discussed where things went wrong, how we were never right for each other, and how we should've done things differently.

And she told me that I shouldn't feel guilty anymore. The past is the past. What I did is irrelevant now, especially because we are both better for it now.

I couldn't have expected that right after we broke up. The break up was messy and there was no way we could've been that mature after such a nasty split. But after a few months I attempted the amicable discussion that we finally had tonight. Honestly, this is all I ever wanted. She is in school, happy and hearty, having fun. I am in school, pursuing the things I love, in a beautiful relationship that was built on a solid foundation of all the things I've learned.

No, me and my ex are not friends now. I suppose we will talk occasionally and catch up, though it is not likely and definitely won't be often.

But what I did get was some closure, finally. I know now that we both are better for it, that there is no lingering hate, there is nothing to beat myself up about anymore. We have our lives and we will move on, the past is finally past.

I feel a weight off my shoulders.

Year of Dividends?

Tags: life, closure, year of dividends
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Wait a Second... (Updated)
02/06/09 at 02:25 PM by cassusriff
So you're telling me that we might have a year where the following artists release albums:

Green Day
My Chemical Romance
The Used
Brand New
New Found Glory
Say Anything
Taking Back Sunday
Circa Survive
Manchester Orchestra
Sum 41
Jimmy Eat World
All Time Low
Saves the Day
The Dear Hunter
Coheed and Cambria
Four Year Strong
Panic at the Disco
The Ataris

Um... what? Is the world ending? Seriously... is it? If these bands all release albums the mainstream is really going to have their focus on this genre. Hopefully that results in some other bands getting the recognition they deserve.

But I swear if we get more Metro Station clones because of this, I'm going to kill someone.

But the big staple releases coming out this year are insane! And here I thought 2008 couldn't be topped.

Now I know that probably half of these bands are going to put out disappointing albums, but the mere fact that so many big albums are coming out is truly exciting.
Tags: music, wtf, blink?, WTF!, crazy year of music
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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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1 Year
11/15/08 at 09:41 PM by cassusriff
Let me take a break from my great romance novel to talk about something along the same lines.

It has been one year since my 3 year+ relationship ended with the girl I dated pretty much all through high school.

That in itself is quite a story. A story that I am very much over now... especially since all of this stuff that happened to me recently made me completely forget about this girl.

I can't believe how much better things are now... but I can't go into that yet, since I haven't finished the story!

Sorry for all the suspense... I've really written every time I've had a free moment, I was about to write part 3 but my friends just called me and it looks like I'm going bowling!

Part 3 up later tonight?

Tags: 1 year, relationships, 3 years, girl, ex girlfriend, love, heartbreak
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