It's that time again! King Jon the Brownnoser - I mean, the Benevolent - has reigned over the blogosphere for two weeks straight. Will he remain unscathed by this week's pretenders to the throne? Will his loyal minions overwhelm the opposition in trackbacks and poll voting yet again? Or will there be a coup?
Personal Trainer: After two previous reviews, and taking the judges' comments to heart, I think Jon has earned a 5. No further comment is necessary. *smile*
Neva Li: Right off the bat, we've got a good amount of information on our author - Neva gives us her name, locale, profession, political persuasion, a bit of a bio, and photo up front, so there's no question of who we're dealing with. I like that about her. There are, however, a few things that I'd like to see. Not using a standard Blogger template would be a great first step - paying for someone else to skin your site or doing your own HTML isn't for everyone, but for a propective King/Queen of the Blogs, it's infinitely preferable to any of the Blogger templates. Another point that I'm sure Harvey will also make: Get Haloscan for comments and trackback. Blogger's comment system is crappy. Since Harvey's list of things he likes to see in a blog greatly influenced my own opinions, I'll mention another one of his bugaboos - searchable archives. Google has a script you can add to your sidebar very simply. Otherwise, I like the site, I like the writing, and I see a lot of potential here. Neva earns a 3.
Slant Point: Slick. This guy has got the site design going on - a cohesive color scheme, functional comments and trackback, plenty of "about me" information (and a photo), and nifty graphics. I especially like the way the date displays, off in the upper left corner of the most recent post for that date. Spiffy. I'm having a hard time finding anything to criticize... so why try? Slant Point earns a 5 as well.
Personal Trainer: This week, Jon takes on the task of explaining how, as a chaplain, he reconciles his beliefs with the concept of war. This post on the concept of a "Just War" is enlightening (and unlike last week, he includes links to resources to back up his points - a plus). On the whole, it is well written, and I agree with it... just to play contrarian for a moment, however, if his point was to justify the United States' involvement in Iraq, there are plenty of folks who would fundamentally disagree that this military action meets the defining characteristics of a "just war". Let me make it clear - I'm not one of them. But if his intent is to apply these points to the Iraq war, I don't think he's taken it quite far enough to convince anyone... Oh great, and now I feel like an English teacher grading an essay. In any event, a persuasive and engaging essay, and it gets an A. Er... a 4.5.
Neva Li: I look at this post on two different levels... First, on a purely personal level, I was intrigued by the excerpt Neva gave us of The Diaries of Adam and Eve - I'd never heard of the book, and it sounds like an endearing and moving story. I was touched by the way she related this passage to her relationship with her husband. It sounds like a great book and I'm probably going to keep an eye out for it. But as a judge, I have to nit-pick a bit. The post started out with a quotation about reading, and a little personal commentary - then it became a list. And then the last book in the list is the only one that gets any in-depth treatment. I would have liked to see this post either focus solely on the Mark Twain book, or give a little "why I love this book" detail for each of them. As is, it's rather interesting and well-written, but not particularly well-crafted. And since I'm the Grammar Cop, I have to mention the fact that the first sentence of the post after the quote ends with a preposition: "Reading is one of the pleasures in my life that I cannot let go of." To be grammatically correct, it would have to be "Reading is one of the pleasures in my life of which I cannot let go", but that sounds really dumb. Perhaps "one of the pleasures in my life that I cannot do without", or "release" or something. There's that English teacher again. Tell her to shut up. Neva's submitted post gets a 2.5 (and not because of the preposition thing).
Slant Point: Succinct and to the point... I felt (and maybe it's just me) like I wanted a little bit more from this post. Perhaps a few examples, for those who have been living in a cave for the past 15 years, of the "current state of affairs" being "anything but Carson-like" would highlight that contrast. Maybe my disappointment is because the first paragraph seems to promise "delv[ing] into the nitty gritty of Johnny Carson's death". I don't feel like I got to that nitty gritty, you know? I do like this quote:
If Hollywood actors spent as much time spouting their opinions about their own industry as they do about national poltics, they might actually help shape a business that will indeed produce future Johnny's. But, alas, the future belongs to the crass megalomaniacs who top charts, build empires and use whatever indecent means they can to claw their way to the top.
Truthfully, Scott's done a good job with this subject - I seem to be difficult to satisfy tonight for some reason. The English teacher slinks back into her classroom and locks the door... Slant Point gets a 4.
Personal Trainer: I should have known, being the lone female judge, that I'd wind up being married off to one of the other judges in at least one of these fairy tales... Jon has done his usual bang-up job of blending the information he's gleaned about each of the judges into his creative concoction. This charming tale of the redemption of Prince Harv has it all - appropriate linkage, a scandalous quote from the Puppy Blender, cameos from prominent bloggers and some spectacular sucking up. Jon has truly earned a 5 for this one.
Neva Li: Neva has obviously paid attention to the judges' repeated requests that challenge responses not include the lame "This is the question, this is the answer" introduction - she jumps right in to her tale, a mysterious and dark adventure of dragonslaying and treachery. (As a purely personal comment, I really enjoy my role in this tale - it corresponds well to one of my many weekend pastimes, playing a bard on TorilMUD.) It probably would have been a good thing to link the characters to the corresponding bloggers, and provide a link somewhere to the KotB tournament post, as an explanation for those random readers who may be greatly confused by this post. Otherwise, fine writing here, and Neva's fairy tale gets a 4.5.
Slant Point: Major props for the photoshop work, Scott. I've been waiting for someone to throw some visual aids into the challenge mix, and I was not disappointed. Normally I'd ding you points for choosing to parody a movie instead of creating your own fairy tale... but picking The Princess Bride was a very nice touch - it's one of my favorites, and lends itself well to the task. A small nit-pick - during the "Cliffs of Indecency" episode, you missed a "Buttercup" that should have been changed to "Bloggercup". I'm loving the Rather, Robbins and Moore scenes. Hee. All in all, a very amusing response, and Scott gets a 5.
The Queen's Rulings
Personal Trainer: 14.5
Neva Li: 10
Slant Point: 14