a rickety bridge of impossible crossing

the scale

The Bluelander Universal Subjective Quality Assessment, or BUSQA, is a simple five-point review scale for books, movies, music, websites, food, beverages, or anything else I want to give my opinion about. Like all review scales, it's 100% subjective, but unlike many of them, it doesn't pretend not to be. It may be useful to you if we have overlapping interests, but otherwise, feel free to ignore it. A review scale is only useful to the extent that you and I have similar tastes. My advice would be to ignore the scale for any genre for which our interests don't align. For example, I like noisy rock music, so I might rate a lot of noisy rock albums highly and you might hate all of it. Likewise, I don't like modern country music, but I'm not going to give a bad score to every new country album that comes out. That's not helpful for anyone.


🚩: Red flag = AVOID. This is for anything that's so bad I feel obligated to warn people about it. It'll rarely get used, because anything that would merit a red flag I probably wouldn't be looking at in the first place; but this is what the score would be if, upon watching a movie or reading a book, it becomes apparent that it's cryptofascist bullshit, or some sort of cult propaganda. Red-flagged video games I felt were actively detrimental to my well-being. Examples: the Xanth novels,1 What The Bleep Do We Know, cantaloupe, broccoli, aspartame, Final Fantasy: All The Bravest, Dragon Quest of the Stars

🌑: New moon = not recommended. It did nothing for me. I either didn't finish it or wish I didn't bother finishing it. Examples: Any Neal Stephenson book other than Snow Crash, The Avengers, strawberries, spinach, sour candy, Final Fantasy 8, Dragon Quest Builders

🌗: Half moon = recommended with caveats. I liked some or all of it, but can't give a full-throated endorsement, either because the quality is inconsistent or it has elements I found off-putting. Half a moon may also be awarded to something I generally like if I have reservations about the person or people who made it.2 Most things will fall into this category, because that's how things work. 10% of it is good, 10% of it is bad, the rest is in the middle somewhere. Is it worth trying to get more granular with the 80%? Maybe for consumer-focused reviews, but I'm broke, and what you should or should not spend your money on is outside the scope of this system. Examples: Snow Crash, Guardians of the Galaxy, oranges, celery, black licorice, Final Fantasy 7, Dragon Warrior 3

🌕: Full moon = recommended. Examples: Dune (book), Annihilation (film),3 bananas, red bell peppers, chocolate, Final Fantasy 4, Dragon Quest 11

⭐: Star = one of my favorite things. Maybe not even a stronger recommendation than a full moon, if I'm being honest, but it has that extra je ne sais quoi that makes it extra good for me, specifically. Examples: A Wrinkle in Time, Synecdoche NY, pears, banana peppers, peanut butter cups, Final Fantasy 5, Dragon Warrior 7

So there you go. I'll try to busq any media I talk about going forward 🦝

  1. Maybe things improve as the series goes on, but the first few books are full of so much grotesque misogyny that I have to red-flag the whole series. As far as I know, the author has never apologized for those books or removed them from print, so I can only assume he hasn't grown in the last 40 years.↩

  2. An unfortunately large % of media falls into the category of "stuff I like, but later found out that the person who made it is a piece of shit". There may be nothing objectionable in the film or book itself, and it's impossible to truly un-like something, but a silly review scale isn't the place to have "death of the author" debates, so if I had to rate anything in this category it would get an ❌. Examples would be anything written by Woody Allen or starring Kevin Spacey. In all likelihood I won't ever see a need to talk about any of this stuff.↩

  3. I liked the book Annihilation enough to give it a 🌗, but this is one of those instances where I liked the movie more than the book. As for Dune, I see no reason to watch films based on books I really like; books are better than movies, so it can only be a downgrade.↩