Empty Bookshelf’s First 100 Reviews


Oh, those kids. Always at it. You guys really shouldn’t’ve.

So here we are at the first of what may be a few reviews of our first milestone, 100 reviews. Not only is this the first review of this milestone, but of what could be very many milestones. We here at the Bookshelf like the word “milestone“, and don’t believe in Thesauruses. So here we go, our first hundred in a nutshell.

The first actual review happened way back in October of 2005… remember that time before the Steelers won the superbowl, before “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” movie, before Dick Cheny accidentally shot his friend while hunting, and before Bristol, United Kingdom celebrated the 200th birthday of Isambard Kingdom Brunel (actually April 9) by relighting the Clifton Suspension Bridge?

Dan’s first review was aimed at complaining about post-game hype surrounding an extremely long baseball game. Of course our readers probably care about boring Astros-Braves baseball games as much as they seemed to care about my terrible review of the dictionary. Even though that picture was good, it was nowhere near the five star quality of this image. I too tried my hand at reviewing food, but it was an utter failure. On the plus side, my review of the letter to the editor is one of my favorites, and my first review actually got eight comments, including this link. The few following that grilled chese review focused mostly on music, my opinion of “Good Night, and Good Luck”, a particular episode of Trading Spouses, and Dan’s opinion of My opinion of “Good Night, and Good Luck”. Dan also said that the Colbert report wouldn’t last, which seems to have been proven false.

October seemed to be us finding our footing.
***

November saw Dan’s Cleveland Trifecta, a diatribe against horses, a road that he liked, an episode of “Coach“, and his complaints about how much he aches, now that he’s an old man. I started the month strong with the Beth review, but struggled through the rest of it, with lame reviews like Thursday, a type of tooth”paste” that doesn’t work for me, and an insightful, yet completely unnecessary complaint about my nosebleeds. My FAO Schwarz review kinda made up for them, but the highlight of the month involved Dan and I sparring about how Christmas is coming earlier every year, and something about me being a time-traveling sheep.

November didn’t see much improvement over October, but the Christmas stuff was entertaining.
***½

December got a bit better, even with a few less reviews. I busted out the old NES games, for a few reviews that I swear are not trying to copy off of XE, another personal favorite, Christmas Cards, Adam’s first review, Dan throwing the hate down on Pitchfork media, and a suprising amount of people commenting on Roger Ebert’s take on video games. The biggest advance in December was the pop-ins, that added added some clarity to our parentheses-obsessed-writing.

December was a highly engaging and entertaining month, even with only nine reviews.
****½

2006 rolled around, and January saw Dan get political, review half of a book, not like warm winters a lot. I only contributed three of ten reviews that month, but all three of them were relatively alright, mostly because “Where In Time is Carmen Sandiego“, and “The Simpsons” after season 9 is so easy to complain about.

January’s topics fell off a little.
***½

February, while being the shortest month, was also a monster for us, as far as number goes. A whopping twenty-one reviews. To be fair, 17 of them came in our envelope-pushing live superbowl reviews, the biggest stunt pulled in the history of reviewing anything and everything on a five star scale. The only other reviews of any substance were my Gauntlet Review of the Beatles albums, and Dan’s digging up of our one-issue underground high-school newspaper.

Despite the big stunt, and two good reviews, February was kinda lacking.
**½

March just plain sucked. Four reviews total. One by me. Three megareviews by Dan.

½

April was slightly better, with another of my top five of my reviews, Legacy of the Wizard. The other four I would give an average of 3 stars to, but since there were only four during the month, that’s going to cancel out the Legacy of the Wizard bonus and take it down a half star.

**½

For my money, May was our best month yet. Dan’s contribution was the lengthy three-part TV landscape review. I threw out quality stuff with my Songs for Silverman, and Degree Navigator reviews. The shorter American Dreamz and Davinci Code video game reviews were serviceable, but my immense LOST season 2 review tops everything.

*****

June fell off a bit. Four reviews total. Split two and two. Mine were based on a ridiculous news story, and anger at other people for coincidentally coming up with the same ideas as me. Dan tried to put everything into perspective by seeing how well the entire history of human ingenuity and artistry stacked up in the interstellar community, and complained a little about how the national geography of roadways isn’t designed to suit his needs.

**

July was filled with the (I gotta admit my ignorance as to the relevance of this phrase… and wikipedia does nothing to help) Navel Gazing set. I was had for a few minutes by a Jimmy Kimmel hoax, and I thought the critics were a little too harsh on Shayamalan. Despite the mediocre numbers for the month, I’d give it a 3.5

***½

This gives us a per-month average of 3 stars, which isn’t too shabby.

In my first ever review, I reviewed the concept of this website. I claimed that we wouldn’t be able to keep it fresh, that we’d run out of ideas, and that we wouldn’t be able to stay somewhat funny at least. I believe my exact quote was “It has the potential to provide hours of entertainment for readers, and shape their lives for years to come. However, the downside is that it could get old real soon, and provide us with nothing but an excuse not to get real jobs.”

Well, I think we’ve significantly proven wrong every single point that I just brought up. We have 29 categories, 19 subcategories, and even two sub-sub categories. We’re still writing about reasonably different things, and while we may have slacked on the funny in recent months, we still bring the ‘A’ game on occasion. As far as my quote goes, I’d be willing to bet that we’ve provided maybe a few hours of entertainment for a handful of people, which probably did nothing to shape their lives for even the near fututre. On the upside, it hasn’t gotten old, and we have gotten real-ish jobs.

For all of these reasons, I’m willing to up our star rating by half a star, over the average rating of 3. I’ve also realized that my method of calculating the rating might not be the best, so I’m gonna throw in another half star for a final rating of 4 stars out of five.

****

And for those of you playing along at home, yes, this technically is the 100th review and so therefore should be included. This review receives 3 stars for not having much to offer in the way of witty musings, and for having a faulty overall rating method, but for packing so many subjects and links into one review.

***

The Cleveland Marriot Downtown at Key Center

This review is the final installment of the Cleveland Trifecta

A programming note: Being that one of the goals of this site is to avoid becoming a “rant blog,” I’ll apologize for my three most recent reviews. (Those two links are only coincidentally related to computer topics — they’re on the first page of google results for “rant blog.” You guys strike me as the type that check your ‘external page links’ section of your log analyzer, so that’s why you’re getting some hits from this crazy, random site) Upon deciding to review a collection of three Cleveland-related things, I didn’t realize that even though I was planning on negative reviews, my opinions weren’t creatively negative. There’s nothing wrong with negativity, but unfortunately, the way that the Cleveland items were bad was more in the “disappointed” way than the “this sucks more than anything has ever sucked before” way. So, with that in mind, on to the last Cleveland-related review.

The Cleveland Marriot at...
The Cleveland Marriot at…

With a ridiculous name like “The Cleveland Marriot Downtown at Key Center,” I should’ve known something was up. I have exceedingly low expectations when it comes to hotels. I’m even less of a snob about hotels/motels than I am about restaurants, and the fact that I consider hotels and motels to be in the same category should let everyone know how I go about choosing lodging. Just like the ChopHouse & Brewery, prices were high and because of that, so were my expectations. There was a special group discount rate due to the eye show, but due to the fact that it was very much in the middle of “metropolitan” Cleveland, and was (at least superficially) rather fancy, I had high expectations, as I’m sure that the Marriot expects that of their customers.

Even though work paid for the stay, I’m still hesistant to even spend someone else’s money for a hotel over $75/night, much less the Marriot’s $160. Much of that price is due to the fact that, again, it’s in the middle of downtown, but still, it’s Cleveland. In all fairness to the hotel, I’m not really the target market; I travel on “business,” but I’m still rather cheap thrifty, so I’m not the type to rave about the quality of the food brought by room service, if only for the fact that I could never justify spending that sort of money to eat-in (or out, for that matter). Regardless, whether or not I’m part of the “target market,” I was staying at (deep breath) The Cleveland Marriot Downtown at Key Center.

The Key Center is one of the modern-looking skyscrapers that I talked about in my review of Cleveland, and the “Marriot Downtown” is, obviously, a hotel that occupies a fair amount of space of this skyscraper (It’s a Cleveland-sized skyscraper, so 57 floors, not anything really big but still tall enough to make you dizzy when looking up at it from the ground.

The hotel itself had doormen, a concierge, and all of that fancy stuff, so again, even though I wasn’t really planning on using those services, I can’t hold it against the hotel for offering them. My room was on the 15th floor, facing the lake (and Browns Stadium), so the view was nice, but being that I was there for work, it’s not like I really spent that much time in the room, anyway (again, not the hotel’s fault). The bed had about 10 pillows of pretty much every shape and size (apparently, an obscene amount of pillows is par for the course in “fancier” hotels these days), and the bed was comfortable, but not Tempurapedic comfortable, but no hotels have beds that nice, anyway.

At this point, I guess I’m really just reviewing this hotel based on how much better $160/night is compared to ~$70/night. Having stayed at a hotel in that latter price point a couple weeks earlier, I was expecting more and better, beyond the convenience of not having to commute to/from the hotel to the convention center. I guess it’s been said that the more expensive hotels are, the more you have to pay for conveniences. The $70 hotel offered both wired and wireless internet access for free, while The Cleveland Marriot Downtown at Key Center offered a free “demo” of TV-based internet, and of course, the “demo” simply said “It’s the Internet — On Your TV!!! Only $9.95 per day!!!” Wired and wireless access were also $9.95 per day. I guess it’s a matter of the “businessmen” that need an internet connection will pay for it, even if it’s $19.95 per day, but it strikes me as cheap. Is that the only complaint I have about the hotel, no free internet access? Well, I didn’t end up buying it any of the days, but it definitely would have made my job simpler, as some doctors had questions about content on the website and so on.

***

The Cleveland Marriot Downtown at Key Center receives three stars due to the fact that even though it was rather pricey, they skimped on the fact that if they consider themselves to be the “business traveller’s destination” (my words, their insinuation), most all business travellers have some sort of need for an internet connection, and charging for it on top of a rather high daily rate only serves to make the hotel look cheap, not accomodating. Also, perhaps even more damningly, that insufferable dropping of the “the” in The Cleveland Marriot Downtown at (where’s the “THE?!”) Key Center” and the fact that they always include “The” at the beginning really grinds my gears.