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High Resolutions

Posted: January 01, 2003

By Kevin Forest Moreau, Baby New Year

This time of year, many people start taking stock of themselves, assessing areas in which they feel they've come up short in the previous year: Their relationships, their bodies, their circumstances, what have you. Why do they do this? So that they can participate in the good-hearted but wrong-headed ritual of making compulsory promises to improve their lives. Promises, of course, that most of us don't actually end up keeping. Because real, lasting change doesn't come from sitting down on New Year's Eve and saying "What can I do better in the coming year?" Real change comes from a constant, evolving desire to better oneself. And that's not a once-a-year thing.

Here at Shaking Through World Headquarters, we spend a lot of time thinking about how we'd like to improve the site, year-round. So our own New Year's resolutions aren't the product of some arbitrary seasonal deadline, but rather an ongoing process of feedback, self-analysis and critique. In the interests of maintaining an ongoing dialogue with you, our valued readership, here are a few of the things we hope you'll notice about Shaking Through in 2003.

Oddly enough, in some ways, they mirror what you might think of as your traditional New Year's resolutions. To wit:

1. We resolve to read more books.

You may have noticed that, in relation to the rest of the site, our depth of book reviews is sorely lacking. We here at Shaking Through consider ourselves a fairly well-read bunch, but this hasn't been satisfactorily reflected on the site. We could make some legitimate excuses -- it's a manpower issue; I've been carrying the book reviews all by myself, and my stack of things to read is always getting bigger; we've neglected books as a lower priority than music, movies, etc. But no one wants to hear excuses. Just know that we resolve to make book reviews more of a priority in the coming year, because there's definitely entertaining and enlightening stuff out there we feel could stand to be brought to your attention.

2. We resolve to broaden our horizons.

Take books, for example: In the early days of Shaking Through, we leaned rather heavily on a specific genre of fiction, mainly because that's what I'd read the most of at the time. We have of course since expanded to include more entertainment-themed tomes, but we can do better. Likewise, there are a lot more comics out there we could be turning our attention to, beyond the pale of superhero stuff (even the well-conceived, metafictional superhero stuff). Same goes for music and movies.

3. We resolve to be friendlier.

Okay, maybe not the Vatican Assassin. And it's not that we consider ourselves particularly unfriendly now. But we -- okay, I -- could be better. I sort of got a little Howard Stern on a disgruntled Pearl Jam fan in our Forum recently, and while it's all in fun, we're grateful for all of our readers, no matter if they agree with us or not. I certainly don't ever want to give anyone the idea that their views aren't welcome. At the same time, we do expect a certain level of decorum, which said Pearl Jam fan failed to maintain. Still, we're not ashamed to say it: We want you to like us. That's why we're doing this. We're not some ivory tower bastion of indie purity laying down the law from on high. We're sharing our opinions on things we think you'd find interesting. And we hope to continue doing so.

4. We resolve to listen more.

An extension of the previous resolution. Not just in the forum, but across the board, however you choose to voice your opinions to us. By forum, by email, even snail mail -- we're listening. What do you like about the site? What could be better? What would you like to see?

5. We resolve to make new friends.

This doesn't just apply to our readers. We'd also like to offer more voices on the site, different perspectives. We've started doing a little of that this past year, and we want it to continue. The more diverse Shaking Through is, we think, the better it will be.

6. We resolve to get in shape.

Finally, and most importantly, we want to make Shaking Through a lean, mean pop-culture machine. We've already made some inroads in this direction with our newer, easier layout, which we hope makes it easier to find content on the site. But we can do more. Most notably, I'd like our reviews to reflect a progressive, forward-thinking mindset, spotlighting important works and examining what makes them worthwhile. There are times when Shaking Through feels like a giant review clearinghouse, and that certainly has its place. We will still review some things that aren't to our taste, both because we believe that exposure to such things helps define our tastes, and, frankly, to draw more readers. If we pull in a few Faith Hill fans who stay around to read about some of the less mainstream choices out there, then we've done our jobs. But we also want Shaking Through to have an identity, to be known for its thoughtful and reasoned examination of certain trends, its attention to worthwhile iconoclasts who do things their own way, both within the system and outside of it. For sporting some high-quality merchandise in the marketplace of ideas. We may not always hit that mark. But as Robert Browning put it: A man's reach should exceed his grasp, else what's a heaven for?

Well, that's it for now. We hope you'll be on hand next year to let us know how we did with these resolutions. In the meantime, let's be careful out there.

Kevin

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Archived Editorials
December 03, 2006: Happy Feet
November 22, 2006: Half Decade Anniversary
October 07, 2006: Jessica Simpson
September 30, 2006: New Orleans and SNL
June 2, 2006: Dixie Chicks
May 7, 2006: Are Yahu Serious?
February 16, 2006: Bill O'Reilly & Brokeback Mountain
February 12, 2006: Totally '80s (Grammys)
January 31, 2006: Freyed Oprah
November 27, 2005: To Be Continued... (Bringing back movie serials)
November 21, 2005: Fourth Birthday
November 05, 2005: TV Remakes
August 13, 2005: Ten Commandments of Rock
July 05, 2005: Live 8
May 05, 2005: Term Limits (for Rock Stars)
April 29, 2005: Pearl Jam Redux
January 26, 2005: Oscar Grouching
October 31, 2004: Three More Years!
September 27, 2004: Cleaning Out My Closet
August 25, 2004: Shaking Through Mailbag
June 23, 2004: Summer Reading List
June 11, 2004: World Without Heroes (Bill Murray and Garfield)
April 23, 2004: Sold Out (Bob Dylan, Victoria's Secret, & Iraq)
April 08, 2004: The Day the Music Died (Kurt Cobain)
Mar. 17, 2004: Copping Out
Feb. 27, 2004: The Passion of Howard Stern
Jan. 30, 2004: Sex and the City
Nov. 17, 2003: California Über Alles
Nov. 7, 2003: Not-So-Terrible Twos
Sept. 19, 2003: Magic & Loss (Johnny Cash and Warren Zevon)
Aug. 17, 2003: Those '70s Shows
May 27, 2003: Patriot Games (Darryl Worley)
May 24, 2003: American Idol
Mar. 23, 2003: Non-cents-ical (Dixie Chicks-50 Cent)
Feb. 8, 2003: Where's the Love? (Pearl Jam)
Jan. 1, 2003: High Resolutions
Dec. 16, 2002: All I Want for Christmas
Nov. 27, 2002: Things to be Thankful For
Nov. 8, 2002: Near Wild Heaven (Nirvana)
Oct. 21, 2002: Happy Birthday to Us
Sept. 11, 2002: The Little Things
Aug. 20, 2002: King for a Day
July 9, 2002: Bill of Rights
Apr. 18, 2002: Celebrity Skim
Apr. 15, 2002: We Will Never Lie To You
Jan. 6, 2002: Something to Believe In
Nov. 3, 2001: Who We Are