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.

***

My Frequent Stabs at Highway Planning

I’m no Civil Engineer, but I’d like to think of myself as a Monday Morning Traffic Planner. Some people have football; I have traffic jams. I don’t think of myself as an impatient person; it’s just that I hate indirect routes, especially within cities. I also think highways should be endless straight lines with no changes in altitude or direction. In fact, I think roads in cities should all be highways, too. You say, how would this work? I say, it would all cater to me.

traffic
Bring. It. On.

It’s be very simple. Roads would be paved to connect points to which I frequently travel. I don’t need a highway to get to Wawa or the supermarket, but for anything over 3/4 of a mile, it’s the highway or the, uh, no-way. Longer trips simple involve longer new highways.

Well, there isn’t much more to it than that. When sitting in the car on a yet another long trip to a familiar destination, I’ve come up with some more details.

  • Obviously, there’d be no speed limits. Well, none for me at least. Imagine going 100mph with nothing to worry about because the road is perfectly straight and perfectly flat. It’s top speed cruising the whole time.
  • I’ve realized that other people might find use for the roads, even if the exits are only at my frequent destinations at one end and my house at the other. Everyone can use the roads, but I have to approve them first. They also have to pay a toll. To me.
  • All the roads would be named after me.
  • Among many others there would be:

  • The Dan Fuller East-Side / South-Side Expressway
  • The Fuller Cross-Country Thoroughfare (stopping in Evanston, IL)
  • The Dan Fuller Media to Concordville Extension
  • The Allentown to Bear Creek Highway
  • The DF (a highway connecting Media and Allentown)
  • The Dan Fuller Honorarium Bao-An to Industrial Zone 7 Overpass
  • and on and on…

Obviously, a very good idea.

****

My Frequent Stabs at Highway Planning receive four hopeful stars because of how much more useful the highway system would be when it would cater exactly (and only) to my needs. Unfortunately, part of my “frequent stabs” involves thinking about how much money it would take to enact such a plan, but unfortunately, I don’t think there’s a number that big, and I’m stuck with yet another half-invented idea.

Route 100’s New 222 Bypass

We all hate traffic. We hate sitting in it, we hate being part of it, and most of all, we hate knowing that we’re going to be sitting in it before we’ve left. Even though there are countless trouble areas, a brand new bypass to alleviate one of the more frustrating “hot spots” in the area opened at the end of September.

bypass
The less you care, the more this looks like an actual picture of the 222 bypass and not just a random picture I found on the internet.

Being that I-78 more-or-less serves as the sole high speed connection for the southern Lehigh Valley and US-22 serves as its northern counterpart (then eventually feeds into I-78), it sees a huge traffic flow. Being that (PA) Route 100 serves as a western connection/border for the area, the combination of I-78, US-22, and PA 100 is a traffic jam waiting to happen. Mix in US-222 (an alternative, much slower east/west route between 22 and 78), and it’s deadlock. So, combining the limitations of the roads, the fact that sprawl has moved a considerable amount of housing to the western Lehigh Valley (Trexlertown, Weisenberg, Fogelsville, Alburtis, and on and on), and the fact that there are still plenty of businesses spread throughout all corners of the Lehigh Valley, the infrastructure built in the past couldn’t handle the needs of today (+5 political sound bite bonus!).

All of this obsolence became showcased at the intersection of US-222 and PA-100. Traffic lined up “as far as the eye could see” in all four directions at that unfortunate intersection. No dedicated left-turn lanes were the straws which broke the civil engineers’ backs and that was that. [you’ve just finished the ‘how to sound confident in something even when you really have no idea what you’re talking about’ section]

Anyway, the bypass:

Judging solely on its challenge vs. solution factor, it passes with flying colors. Once you’re on the bypass itself, it’s smooth sailing as you’re on your way to Trexlertown and points south (even Philadelphia for the masochists out there). There’s no traffic build-up at the light (heck, there is no light), and it’s all sorts of easy to get from the bypass to 222 if you really need to get there (needing to get on 222 when you’re specifically trying to bypass that very road doesn’t make much sense, but sometimes people can’t read maps very well). The very new road surface still has its “just out of the dump truck” smoothness, so it’s like you’re driving on your very own comfort zone. Being that nothing gold can stay, this will change in time, and eventually old people will be complaining about how it needs resurfacing. But for now, it’s primo driving.

Unfortunately, it’s not perfect. Like most everything else, I don’t ask too much of a road, but is it too much to hope for some pleasant scenery? The bypass seems to always have a noise-blocking wall on one side or the other, and where the wall isn’t is just flat, tree-less scrubland. It would remind me of the dreary moors of Jane Eyre had I not blocked it from my memory after reading it in 9th grade. As time goes on, these desolate plains will most likely become subdivisions, and after people live there for a few years, they’ll complain and petition for sound barrier walls be built on both sides of the road, turning it from a regular road to more of an open-top tunnel. Also, has hype builds up about it and more and more commuters begin to use it, its ease of use will decline (Junior Staff, please note, I’m just throwing that out there; this will not affect the final rating because it would not be fair to review something primarily based on its hype).

****

Route 100’s New 222 Bypass receives 4 stars due its success in fixing a significant traffic snarl in the Lehigh Valley. Unfortunately, its functional success is marred by its aesthetic weakness, no sweeping vistas, no landmarks, heck, the nothern section doesn’t even have any trees. It doesn’t look like The Morning Call’s resident “road warrior” Don Hartzell has yet commented on the bypass, so it looks like we have the scoop. I mean, it’s not like we should expect someone with the unassuming title of “Road Warrior” to be on top of these sorts of things or anyway…