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The Not-So-Terrible Twos

Posted: November 07, 2003

By Kevin Forest Moreau, Birthday Boy

"(T)hat's what we're doing: Sifting -- shaking through, if you will -- the music, films, books and even comics that strike us, panning for gold, for some small kernel of truth that will point the way to a clearer way of thinking, a more enlightened path through the dark and scary woods. But more often than not, settling for humorous, insightful and occasionally just-plain misguided writing that brings us somehow closer to these works of creation, to the noble spark of inspiration from which they sprang, and thus to ourselves."

Wow, what a bunch of hot air! What blowhard wrote that, eh?

Yes, Virginia, it was yours truly, two years ago this week, still trying to midwife a germ of an idea into something resembling the site you see today. That's right -- Shaking Through is two years old, which means (if the above quote hasn't sufficiently clued you in) that it's time for another navel-gazing look back at the struggles and setbacks, the joys and triumphs, the ups and downs of standing watch at the gates of pop culture. Two years of angry emails and posts from outraged fans of some slammed artist or other, two years of slogging through mountains of music and miles of movies -- not to mention a brace of books and a clutch of comics. Many of them good, some of them great, some of them more scarring than nude photos of Jesse Helms.

Or not. Don't worry: We're not going to slide down the slippery slope of self-indulgent back-slapping or gaseous pontification. Not very far, anyway (I hope). We won't even segue into a moving account of how Shaking Through came to be -- mainly because I can't top last year's humorous, heartfelt ode to Laurence Station, the avuncular tyrant who keeps the ST trains running on time.

No, instead, I thought we'd offer you the opportunity to have a good laugh at our expense. Below you'll find a few pieces of our past; archived looks at the evolution of our front page. Right out of the gate, there's our very first conception of how the site should look, before we even had enough content to fill a front page; note the placeholder images, photos of a Station cohort known only as "The Adept", as well as teasers for reviews and articles that don't and never did exist -- including, embarrassingly enough, a never-materialized review of Bob Dylan's Love and Theft. Pretty, um, spectacular, isn't it?

Of course, Version 1, our early, post-official-launch look, was quite an improvement -- how much so, I suppose, depends on your sense of charity. Ah, for the old days, back when I insisted that the black masthead across the top was the way to go, and we could barely manage to come up with three things to highlight. It wasn't until Version 2 that a few of the defining elements of the site as we know it today came together, with uniformity the operative buzzword -- note the lack of contrasting and distracting background colors, the relative sameness in teaser lengths. We tightened things up a bit in Version 3, getting rid of the big, blocky "main pick" slot and establishing set-aside real estate for each of our main sections. All of which eventually led to the sleek, streamlined and downright svelte version you know and love today.

If our visual development over the past two years has been a bit bumpy, though, at least we can take pride in a smoother evolution as a hub of pop-cultural criticism and commentary. Shaking Through has been lucky enough to receive flattering attention from a number of sources, including fellow arbiters of taste at sites like Nude As the News and Measure Magazine, as well as the Lockergnome newsmail group and Our profile has risen in other ways, as well, including our addition to the list of music-review sites listed and cited by the influential site And our pageviews and unique users continue to skyrocket exponentially. All of this attention makes us feel like we must be doing something right, and we thank you humbly for your kind words, and your support.

Of course, we've gotten our share of not-so-kind words as well, from disgruntled fans of Pearl Jam, Dashboard Confessional, OutKast and Quentin Tarantino, among others. In one instance, we (or rather, I) got slammed by an artist directly; the creator of a comic I reviewed took offense at what I thought was a pretty constructive review, and took to questioning my credentials on his official message board. Before I knew it, I was trading emails with fans and even the book's editor, before having to re-learn what every critic is taught from birth: You've got to let your words stand on your own, and not worry about bruising someone's feelings (or getting your own bruised).

But all of that is par for the course, and even, if I'm being completely honest, part of the fun. Because if someone's taken the time to castigate you on your own message board, or fire off an indignant email, at least it means they're paying attention. And that's the really important thing here. As with all sources of criticism, it's not likely that you're going to agree with everything we say. Hopefully, though, you'll trust us, and find enough things to like to warrant coming back, to continue a dialogue on the merits of this film or that album, the troubling implications of this social trend or that unchecked ego. In the end, that's what we're offering: a jumping-off point for discussion, a chance to sit around the electronic table and trade our opinions on things that matter to us.

And there you have it. That wasn't so bad, was it? Thanks for sticking through to the end. And our sincere thanks, as always, for reading, for visiting the site, because you're why we do it. (That, and we like mouthing off.) Here's to many more years of bickering, commiserating, and taking unnecessary and uncalled-for potshots. Sure, it may be our birthday, but corny as it sounds, we feel like we're getting a present every time you write in or let us know you're paying attention. Here's hoping you'll continue to find what you see here to your liking.

Site design copyright © 2001-2011 Shaking All original artwork, photography and text used on this site is the sole copyright of the respective creator(s)/author(s). Reprinting, reposting, or citing any of the original content appearing on this site without the written consent of Shaking is strictly forbidden.



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