All hail Queen Cyn! Her reign has been an extended one due to the lack of tournament during the holidays, and lack of participation last week... unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and we have two pretenders to the throne that must be reckoned with.
I must say, Jon of Personal Trainer and Dory of Wittenberg Gate took Nick's instructions to heart, especially the part about sucking up to the judges. I feel well and truly sucked-up-to. Jon took the time to post a "Homage to the Court" roundup each day of this week's tournament... and Dory found my toothpaste post much more fascinating than anyone who is not sucking up had a right to. Heh.
And now, on with the Queen's rulings! (Hrm. Now that we have a new reigning Queen, does that make me the Queen Mum or something? I don't think I want to know.)
Cyn Sim: Since I reviewed Cyn's blog in depth last round, and she has made no significant changes that I can see, I'll keep this rating at a 4.
Personal Trainer: What you have here is a very nice color scheme and a lovely header graphic, clean layout and lots of good technical points. I see some "about me" information that gives us a clue who we're conversing with here. The one thing I think I'd suggest you add is a "search this site" box - Google has a free search tool you can add to your sidebar with very little hassle. Harvey will tell you the same thing. There seems to be something trippy going on with your Archives listing in the sidebar - it's got an extra 12/27/04 through 1/2/05 week showing, and it's out of order - but that's probably a Typepad glitch and I won't mark that down. Frankly, there's not a lot negative to say here. I'll rate Personal Trainer an overall 4. Very nice.
Wittenberg Gate: Another very technically good site - Typepad helps, doesn't it? I'd never have gotten my site set up this well without it... I see a link to Dory's Bio (which I found rather amusing... Dory is a brave, brave woman homeschooling a high-schooler). I see a search box. I see lots of good linkage and working comments and trackback. The color scheme is neutral and easy-to-read. If I had to offer a constructive comment, I'd suggest adding some punch with a banner graphic (perhaps incorporating your sidebar art), but it's not really necessary. I like the listing of favorite posts in the left sidebar: it gives new readers a chance to go back and read some of the posts you feel define your writings without having to sift through your entire site archive. Wittenberg Gate gets a 4 also.
Cyn Sim: Cyn entertains us this week with a post from July of last year about TV crushes. I've never seen this "Outback Jack" show of which she speaks, but I'm mildly amused by the descriptions of the tricks the girls use to win Jack's attention. I've seen these very ploys used by... well, mostly high schoolers. I gather we're talking about a reality show here. I'm not so much into reality shows, with the exception (and I don't really know why) of The Apprentice. While this post was well-written, it didn't engage me as much as last round's "How to Look Like Britney" slam. Queen Songstress gives Queen Cyn a 3 for this effort.
Personal Trainer: Oooh, big words. OK, so "theodicy" isn't really a big word, just one that's not really used by those who don't study theology and the like. OK, at least I don't use it. But now I know what it means, thanks to Jon. Jon's given us a meaty post to chew on, discussing the variety of religious responses to the Southeast Asia Tsunami, and relating our feeble human attempts to explain why God does something to the Book of Job. I'm strangely drawn to the Book of Job. It's like a giant cosmic case of irony or something. Here we have poor put-upon Job, knowing he did nothing to deserve the calamities that have come upon him, having to defend himself to his three friends for what seems like forever. Then God shows up, and you'd expect Him to tell Job "You're right, you didn't do anything wrong. Your friends were flat-out wrong and you're one of the good guys." But no, He says "Who are you to question me anyway?" And we're left with the understanding that God has the ability to control every circumstance for His purposes, but He will not necessarily explain Himself to us even if we ask. That takes faith. Anyway, enough expounding on Jon's point. He makes his point well, and I'm giving him a 4 for this post.
Wittenberg Gate: Dory presents us with this gem of a response to atheism - don't try to convince them intellectually that God exists. This is another very well-written post, and one that takes an approach to this issue that I've never heard before. Maybe I've had my head in the sand, and volumes have been written making her exact points - but I don't read volumes of books like that anyway. I read the Bible, and I read a few devotional books, and I read a whole lot of mystery and suspense novels to give my brain a break. Dory's insight here is interesting. Another 4 for this effort.
Cyn Sim: Cyn was dealing with an illness and did not complete the challenge question this week. Unfortunately, this is sure to cause her to be dethroned in this round - but I for one hope she will throw her hat back into the ring for a future tournament round. I was so looking forward to seeing her creativity on this question, too.
Personal Trainer: OK, it seems we must go through this every week. Future competitors take note: We judges really prefer it when contestants find a more creative way to introduce their challenge response than "I had this question to answer for the King of the Blogs Tournament, so here's the question and here's my answer." Creativity in the format of the response is almost as important as the creativity of the response itself... however, due to the short turn-around time for an answer, I think my expectations are too high. Four days is perhaps not enough time for someone who works (or attends school) full time to come up with a great idea and then draw a comic strip or photoshop some images or film a short TV show pilot or some such thing. I think a short script would have been a pretty good way to present this challenge post, though. Oh well. Enough of what I can't have. What I do have here is a very good question to work with, and Jon, who obviously spent a great deal of time and effort researching the judges', commissioner's and hosts' interests and lives. His premise sounds just like a 1980's sitcom, and the characters he's developed are spot-on funny. Especially Harv. Great job, Jon... You're getting a 4.5. I reserve a 5 for someone who wows me with the presentation. *wink*
Wittenberg Gate: Same deal with the desperate desire for a more creative presentation format... but here we have another good job with both the premise and the characterization. Dory gets a bonus for writing the theme song herself... Am I to presume that the evil Rey Glenn is intended to refer to the Puppy Blender himself? I am amused at the mental picture of myself as a singing sports reporter... and I do like sports other than baseball, but you probably would never be able to tell by my blog, since I do expound at length about MLB and pretty much ignore every other major sport. But that said, Go SUNS! *ahem* Seriously, or as serious as I can get when looking at this campy show premise - I mean that in a good way - I was a bit confused by your reference to Harvey's left-wing bias. I've got to figure that was a bit of a fudge of the facts just to give your show an antagonist? Because good ol' Harv may be an atheist and on the racy side, but I think he'd take offense to being characterized as left-wing in any way, shape or form. All things considered, a very promising idea that I'd love to have seen fleshed out a bit more. Lamentations about the lack of a script again. Dory gets a 4, only because I think Jon put more effort into the research.
The Queen Mum's Rulings
Cyn Sim: 7
Personal Trainer: 12.5
Wittenberg Gate: 12
All in all, a fine competition by some fine writers... please do come back and try again!