Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Tips for UK PonyCon-goers 10: Weathering the weather

Here's a tip for UK PonyCon that I was considering publishing anyway, but given the weather forecast I now think it's an important one:

Tip 10: Remember, it's October. In England

That means you're not going to have a weekend of balmy temperatures and gentle breezes while you sip cocktails by a tropical lagoon. The River Avon's path through Bristol is full of mud most of the time anyway, thanks to the Bristol Channel's 15-metre tidal range – the highest anywhere in the world outside Canada, fact fans.

That's not relevant to the convention, though, What is relevant is that the Met Office outlook is currently predicting a spell of very wet and windy weather over con weekend, and you're likely to regret it if you don't prepare for it. While this area of Bristol isn't on an exposed headland or anything, it can get pretty windy during autumn gales.

So, if you're driving to UKPC, be prepared for stuff like trees blocking roads or speed limits across the Severn Bridge. If you're travelling by train, there may be longer journey times or trees or fallen overhead wires blocking routes for a while. Even once you arrive at your hotel, you may get soaked walking across the car park if the rain's falling hard enough.

On con days themselves, consider what you'll do if it's pouring down at queue time – one of those single-use plastic coats might be handy, as the wind's likely to be too strong for umbrellas to be useful. Also, bring plastic bags of some sort to wrap items susceptible to water damage. You don't want your beautiful new plushie waterlogged on the first day!

I don't want to go overboard here. Even a severe gale storm would be unlikely to be as disastrous as Ophelia was to Ireland in a non-coastal city like Bristol. But it does look increasingly as though the weather will not be as benign as it has been for the last few UKPCs, and it's better to have preparations you don't need than to need preparations you don't have!

Monday, 16 October 2017

Episode review: S7E23: "Secrets and Pies"

Angry Pinkie Pie with pie filling all over her face
At least she didn't get at Spike this time round
As you might expect, with UK PonyCon coming up, my normal schedule here will be considerably disrupted. I might have one or two pre-written posts that will appear during the con, but otherwise: Ponyfic Roundup will not appear this week, and may not appear next week either. Reviews for episode 24 and the finale will get done when I get the time, and ditto for Text Review Roundup. On to today's business, though – thoughts on Josh Hamilton's episode after the break.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

UK PonyCon let down by supplier; no exclusive plushie this year

Some unfortunate news from UK PonyCon today. It's been announced that, due to problems with the supplier, it's proved impossible to supply this year's exclusive convention plushie. This is the themed pony which was going to form part of the goodie bag VIP ticket-holders were given as part of their registration deal. (And possibly end up being sold/auctioned as well, I guess.)

The con organisers are currently in discussions regarding the payments they've made to the supplier, and this means that they're not able to go into details. It's bound to be frustrating for VIPs not to know exactly what's gone wrong, but there's no practical way around it: if one side gives a running commentary in a situation like this, it almost always ends up being worse for everyone in the end.

As I understand it, VIPs should check their email as they will have been contacted by UKPC and offered a number of options about what they want to do. According to comments on the UKPC Facebook post about this, there is a refund option; I don't know what the others are. (I can make some decent guesses, but I have no actual knowledge and don't want to confuse the issue.) So please read that email!

I hope people will be understanding of UK PonyCon's situation here. Without knowing the details, it does very much sound as though they've been left in the lurch by a supplier that hasn't kept up its end of the bargain. And it's not as if they could commission dozens of plushies in the next six days! I'm not a VIP ticket-holder, but I'll now be making sure to buy a little extra something from the UKPC merch stall.

Spoiler-free review: My Little Pony: The Movie

Please note that "spoiler-free" means that the level of information here is roughly what you'd get in a general media review. If you're trying to avoid all information about the film, stop reading now!

I'd been expecting my reaction to My Little Pony: The Movie to be something along the lines of "Well, that was okay, I guess" – something that might have just about scraped a three-star rating. In the event, I liked it a good deal more than that. However, I can see why some people wouldn't, and I don't think this is a movie that's likely to convert huge swathes of general filmgoers to the cause of Pony. But I was thoroughly entertained, so ★★★★. Considerably more – but still spoiler-free by the standard given above – is written below!

Saturday, 14 October 2017

UK PonyCon questionnaire thingy!

I often see these things published by people who are about to head off to a convention, so here's one from me. Feel free to use and adapt the format for yourself if you like!

What do I call you? Logan, for preference. Everyone else does and I respond to it pretty much automatically now. The full version (Loganberry) is fine too, especially as that's my actual username in most places! If I've told you my real name, that's okay too if you prefer.

What will you look like? A horse. No, afraid not – cosplay isn't really my thing. I'll be wearing a variety of pony T-shirts and carrying some sort of bag. Other than that, I'm older than most bronies, I wear glasses and I don't wear jeans. (Denim irritates my skin.)

Who will you be with? Anyone who can stand my presence for more than 30 seconds. I can't afford to be fussy. :D Also, whoever wants to join in any impromptu singing sessions! Oh, and the Pub Quiz crowd, naturally!

What will you be doing? Not a clue. The timetable for UKPC has an awful lot on it this year, and I don't generally stick to my planned schedule anyway. But as just mentioned, there'll definitely be singing involved. Lots of singing.

Can I talk to you? Sure, I'm happy to talk to just about anyone. Please don't do a Quibble Pants and keep pestering me when I obviously want to be doing something else, because that will annoy the hay out of me. But a hello and a quick chat? Absolutely. :)

Can I take your photo? Um, why? I don't cosplay, as I said. But if you really want to, then ask me first and I expect I'll be okay with it. If you take video of me doing any sort of performance, I want to see a copy, please. Just for my amusement, not so I can sue you later. ;)

Can I hug you? I guess, though please, please ask me first. I don't want you to accidentally break something fragile and feel awful about it!

Can I buy you a drink? Now we're getting silly. I don't expect anyone to buy my cider for me. I don't even know whether my health will let me drink alcohol during the con.

How long are you staying? I'm coming down on Friday afternoon and going back up on Monday morning, so I'll get to attend the whole con. :)

Where are you staying? The Premier Inn on the Filton Roundabout. I always choose the most glamorous locations.

How are you travelling? To Bristol? By train, probably via Birmingham. I'll wear a pony shirt during the trip, though I don't know which one yet, so feel free to come and say hi!

Favourite ponies? Fluttershy, Scootaloo, Celestia, Derpy.

Anything else I should know? I take the all-ages nature of this convention seriously. Being foul-mouthed or talking about NSFW stuff are really good ways to annoy me fast, so please leave off the f- and c-bombs, unless they're "filly" and "colt". :P I prefer to avoid that sort of thing even outside the venue.

This is very much a specifically pony-themed weekend for me. While that doesn't mean I won't talk about anything else, if you want to have a long conversation about Doctor Who or railways or something, another time might be better. Political discussions are right out for the duration of the con. Not interested.

Also, I'm diabetic. I don't have to avoid sugary foods entirely, so a muffin or two is fine, but I can't go overboard. Partly but not entirely related to this, my state of health can change very fast. Please be considerate if it does.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Text Review Roundup: "Marks and Recreation"

I've let this feature slip a bit recently! I'll do a TRR for "Once Upon a Zeppelin" in the next few days, though that for tomorrow's episode may well have to wait until after I get back from UK PonyCon. On the plus side, being late means I have an ArthurCrane review to include! Also, a new reviewer: Pony Press News Journal. Still no reviews from The Southern Nerd or the Super Mario Brony Blog, so those sources have been removed from the list.

ArthurCrane – generally positive ("Rumble is a very good example of how you can make a non-villain character unlikeable, but nonetheless interesting.")

Batbrony Reviews – very positive ("a fun CMC episode with a very good, well-written lesson at its heart)

Cuddlepug – extremely negative (graded D-; "a spiteful episode ... almost entirely without merit")

Derpy News – broadly positive (graded B+; "not overly spectacular, but ... a good episode nonetheless")

Louder Yay – mildly positive (three stars ("just"); "a pretty average episode of FiM – but that's still better than many shows' average.")

MLEEP Reviews – extremely positive (9.5/10; "a marvelous episode that was full of surprises")

Pony Press News Journal – mixed (6/10; "I found most of this episode boring until the point where the Cutie Mark Crusaders and Rumble have an argument")

The Super Mario Brony Blog – positive (4/5; ""yet another good moral ... a well constructed plot ... and more great moments from the Crusaders ... strong, if imperfect")

TheDragonWarlock – rather negative (graded C; "It wants to be ambitious, but it's held back by how its botched execution.")

Thrond Media Pony Corner – negative (43%; " yet another crushingly dull entry in what's shaping up to be a crushingly dull season")

Tips for UK PonyCon-goers 9: Read the rulebook

I think it's about time we had another UK PonyCon tip. This one is a little more serious than some, but...

Tip 9: Make sure you know the rules

I've already mentioned the need to remember that this is not a brony convention. Tying in with that is that UKPC's rules differ somewhat from those of other pony-centric events; there are good reasons for this, but it will help you a lot if you're clear about them before you set off for Bristol. None of them are unreasonable, at least not in my view, so learn 'em and follow 'em.

Notably, there's the fact that this is a strongly family-friendly con, and that there will therefore be many more young children in attendance than you may be used to. So don't swear. At all. (Well, not beyond what's in the show. "What in tarnation?" is probably okay. :P ) And don't make a lot of noise unless you're in an area where it's expected, such as a singalong. You may scare kids, and that wouldn't be very friendly!

The Prohibited Items section is worth perusing, too. "No weapons" means no weapons at all, including toys. This is not the con for Nerf guns and water pistols. Note that "aerosols" are listed, so don't bring in pressurised deodorants and the like assuming they'll be okay. (A dry-stick deodorant is an alternative that can feel refreshing even if you've had a shower that morning. And you will have a shower, won't you? Good.)

Most of the rest is simple common sense. Ask before you take someone's photo, and do not argue if they say no. That applies however they're dressed – cosplay is not consent. Don't disrupt panels by chatting through them – there's a dedicated chill-out space this year, or you can go to the cafĂ© or bar. Have your bag ready to be searched when you go in – this will speed things up for everyone. And so on.

Some of that sounded a bit heavy, I know, and I promise there'll be at least one lighter tip before this series comes to an end. But really, all you have to do is remember this: be generous, honest, kind, laughing, loyal, magic and friendly. Do that and you'll have a great UK PonyCon 2017!