Monday, 12 November 2018

The future for Louder Yay

That title is carefully chosen. If I'd written "The future of..." then it might have come across as implying that this blog was on its way out. I'd like to make it clear that this is not the case. I am still very much enjoying MLP and its fandom, and I don't intend to stop Louder Yay any time soon, or to repurpose it as something entirely different. With that out of the way, here's what's in my thoughts at the moment.

Right now, I'm doing my "Sounds of 2011" posts about what was popular in brony music in the first full year of the fandom. I can't imagine these have enormously wide appeal these days, and I'm conscious of the fact that they take up a lot of the blog. Nevertheless, I do enjoy writing them and I intend to carry on (with one tweak, which I'll explain tomorrow) until the chart is complete. If I do 2012 and 2013, and it is an if, I'll probably adopt a more concise format.

At some point I'll do a post-season review, in which I'll touch on topics such as the Student Six's introduction, my favourite and least favourite episodes, how S8's new writers have performed... and, as always, I'll assess how the season treated Fluttershy. I'd quite like to make this an audio review (in which case I'll stick a title card on it and put it on YouTube), but there'll be a text version here too.

It's widely believed, including by me, that S9 will be the final season of Friendship is Magic. While nothing is certain until publicly confirmed by Hasbro, I would be very surprised indeed if S10 became a thing. I do think it's more than possible that S9 may be followed by a 44-minute post-season special in order to wrap the whole series up in a reasonably unhurried way, but that's as far as it goes.

Once the show is over and done with for good, there'll be no new episodes for me to review. My current plan is to fill this gap by rewatching FiM in its entirety and giving my thoughts on each episode in turn. This will not take the form of a full-length review of each ep, as that would be just too much work. Instead, I'll probably write a paragraph for each one, pointing out whatever catches my attention.

If I do this marathon rewatch as I currently plan, it will be done at a reasonable pace. My current thinking is to watch two or three episodes a week. I would certainly include FiM specials and the movie. I might also add Equestria Girls movies and specials, but I'm unlikely to include the EqG shorts; there are too many and most of them don't interest me enough. At a guess, the whole thing might take me a couple of years.

One current feature I intend to carry on with is Ponyfic Roundup. There aren't many of us regular fanfic reviewers still standing, and the stuff still interests me enough that I'm willing to read at least a few fics each week and write about them. Even though Fimfiction has steadily fewer new non-Mature stories submitted each month, there are still more than enough from the past seven years that I haven't read.

And then there's G5. Rumours and leaks aside, we know more or less nothing about G5. I intend to give it a chance, and I think my slightly broadening MLP horizons since I started watching G1 from time to time may help this. I no longer feel that FiM is the only Pony with any merit at all. I'm not sure how much I'll cover G5 as a show and any films it might produce, but that's a wait-and-see thing for now.

If UK PonyCon continues and if I continue to attend, I'll still write about that. The same goes for any other cons that may still spring up. G4 merch is likely to be sold for some time after the end of FiM – it was still fairly easy to find G3 merch in UK shops in late 2012 – so that's another possibility. I'll probably continue to avoid all that much coverage of Fandom Drama™, though. It's rarely interested me greatly.

So, there you have it. Louder Yay will continue, subject to anything in my life making it impossible for that to happen. I can't promise that I won't leave the fandom entirely, but what I know about myself suggests that it's unlikely. I strongly suspect that I'll be a My Little Pony fan in some way for the rest of my life. If there's anything you'd especially like to see me cover after S9, please let me know in the comments!

Sunday, 11 November 2018

UK of Equestria's overall S8 ranking list

As happens each year, once again those of us on UK of Equestria have been supplying lists of how we rank this season's Friendship is Magic episodes. Double episodes count as one, so respondents were asked to provide a list running from 1 to 24. (No ties in individual lists are permitted, though they can still occur in the overall ranking.) We had 15 people take part this season, which is exactly the same as for S7. I actually find that rather encouraging at this point in the show's run.

The tier boundaries here, which differ from those I use on UK of E, are decided very simply. Any episode which has an average rating of five or better (one would mean every single respondent ranked it top!) gets five stars. From there to ten gets four stars, and so on. This does of course have the fault that it doesn't take account of how the season as a whole was received, only the relative positions of episodes within it.

★★★★★
1. What Lies Beneath

★★★★
2. School Raze (finale)
3. Surf and/or Turf
4. On the Road to Friendship
5. Sounds of Silence
6. The Washout
7. The Hearth's Warming Club

★★★
8. School Daze (premiere)
9. The Break Up Breakdown
10. Horse Play
11. The Mean 6
12= Molt Down
12= A Rockhoof and a Hard Place
14. Marks for Effort
15. The Parent Map
16. Fake It 'Til You Make It

★★
17. Friendship University
18. A Matter of Principals
19. Father Knows Beast
20. The Maud Couple
21. Grannies Gone Wild
22. The End in Friend
23. Yakity-Sax


24. Non-Compete Clause

Number of times each episode placed first
3: Sounds of Silence
3: What Lies Beneath
2: On the Road to Friendship
2: School Raze
1: The Break Up Breakdown
1: Friendship University
1: The Hearth's Warming Club
1: Horse Play
1: Surf and/or Turf

Number of times each episode placed last
13: Non-Compete Clause
1: The End in Friend
1: Father Knows Beast

Most controversial (highest standard deviation)
1. Horse Play
2. The Mean 6
3. Fake It 'Til You Make It
4. A Matter of Principals

Least controversial
1. Non-Compete Clause
2. The End in Friend
3. Yakity-Sax
4. What Lies Beneath

No episode this time was universally liked. The season finale was a close call: 14 people voted it in their top nine, but one placed it 22nd. "What Lies Beneath" had a similar, if rather less dramatic, distribution: it garnered 14 top-eight places and a lone 14th. At the bottom, "Non-Compete Clause" was almost universally strongly disliked: it managed one 15th place, one 23rd – and everyone else put it dead last. The AJ/RD character regression was hugely unpopular.

Unlike last year with "Fame and Misfortune", I wasn't sure in advance what would win "Most controversial episode" this season. As things turned out, it was "Horse Play", whose rankings ranged between first and 23rd. It partly depended for many on what they thought of the cringe comedy in Celestia's acting. The greatest agreement was in the poorness of "Non-Compete Clause", and in fact there was a high degree of consensus about the bottom three.

S8 has had a rather mixed reception overall. I think it's probably fair to say that most people find it a step down from S7, although the Student/Young Six are generally very popular. Without the students, I think this season could really have struggled to win favour. Personally I would still place it above S6 overall, but maybe not by as much as I'd have liked. It may have to wait until I've let things settle a bit before I'm really sure where I feel it stands.

Saturday, 10 November 2018

Sounds of 2011, nos. 86 to 84

It's BronyScot this weekend, so I wish a great time to everyone there! As for me down here in England, it's that time again, which is to say the time when Logan doesn't have anything else to post and so resorts to putting up an episode of this. (By the way, Pony Music Library hasn't been forgotten about. There should be a new PML inductee fairly soon.)  

Update: the three songs that would fit here have now been skipped, as they don't fit my new criteria. To be featured, I want tracks to be at least one of:
1) Still available from the artist's own account(s)
2) Archived, but with evidence that the artist is okay with this
3) So famous that they're everywhere anyway
Join me next time, when I'll be featuring... music! Yes, there's a song coming up that does meet the above criteria.

Friday, 9 November 2018

Merch review: Carry-Along Colouring Set

With no episode-related posts at the moment, there's a little more space on Louder Yay than usual for me to post other things. Those of you who read the blog years ago will remember that I used to make a moderate amount of merchandise-related posts. Those have rather fallen by the wayside in recent times, but now seems as good a moment as any to bring them back, at least as an occasional series.

15cm ruler for scale; it is not included in the set
The Carry-Along Colouring Set has been around for a very long time. In the last year or two it's been given a slightly updated cover, but in essence it's the same as it was when it first emerged from Alligator Publishing in 2011. Even then, of course, those cover vectors weren't new! An interesting choice of cover ponies, especially given that in the early days of G4 most merch went for the predictable trio of Twilight Sparkle, Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash. Here, Twilight and Pinkie don't appear at all.

Inside, you get about 60 pages of pictures to colour and other simple activities of the sort aimed at young children – the book is aimed at kids aged 3+. These really are simple, being of the "count the butterflies" or "connect the dots" type. To help you do this, you're provided with five small wax crayons. These come in five colours, to match the Mane Six (except Rarity), but all their barrels are pink with the My Little Pony logo and a small vector of Fluttershy. They're held in by a cheapo bit of brown cardboard.

Look at that sticky tape! I do everything very professionally!
That's about it, except to note that the carrying handle is made of fairly flimsy cardboard and will be too small for most adult hands. The set has usually sold for £1, and it really is hard to quibble about corners being cut when you can get this for a quid. It's not as easy to find as it was, but try Wilko or The Range. The set in the photos here was one of the first bits of Pony merch I bought (hence the condition!) and I don't think I'd buy another. But it does a job and does it adequately. A pretty clear case for an average rating, I think.

★★

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Sounds of 2011, nos. 88 and 87: Andrea Libman special!

Oh, all right, these songs aren't actually sung by Andrea Libman – but today in this series, we do have one track with Pinkie Pie's name in the title and one with Fluttershy's. Hence the subject line! Off we go, then.

Warning: this video contains some cartoonish gore of the "Cupcakes" kind

The first track today was inspired by S1's "Party of One", which for quite some time in the early days consistently came near the top of fans' all-time best episode lists. I'm not sure it would now, but nevertheless this song by setzertrancer remains a good listen. Although its creator doesn't seem to be active in the fandom any more, they re-uploaded the song to their channel in October 2017 (thank you!), which makes things easy for me here – and is especially appreciated because the MP3 I have in my collection of these Top 100 songs cuts off about three-quarters of the way through!

This is a ponified parody of 3 Doors Down's big 2009 rock hit "Kryptonite", and it keeps a pretty similar sound to the original, though with perhaps a little more echo than I'd have ideally liked. The lyrics, however, are changed to be from the point of view of Pinkie: the chorus opens with "If I go crazy then you can call me Pinkamena". The video above – which I'm not that fond of, if I'm honest – gives the artist's name on-screen as EdgeOfEverfree, so I guess they changed it at some point; it's up under setzertrancer now, though. The highest quality version I can find is the 192kbps MP3 available on pony.fm.


Looking at the title of this track, you might think it was a mashup of All Levels at Once's "Fluttershy's Lament" and WoodenToaster's "Avast Fluttershy's Ass" – but you'd be only half right. The first bit is correct, but in fact ALaO's song is being mashed up with the original "Avast Your Ass". That's a song by Kitsune^2 which actually has its genesis as a piece called, er, "Fuckin Sick Ass Shit" way back in 2008 (on FurAffinity, believe it or not). Pokey Smokes' mashup is a fairly successful effort, apart from an awkward section around the three-minute mark involving CMC samples, which it's a relief to discover doesn't last long.

Pokey Smokes (named after one of Pinkie's guesses at Nightmare Moon's identity in the S1 premiere) used a channel named whitzzzzzzz, with the Pony songs all bearing the Pokey Smokes name. This channel hasn't been updated since July 2012, but "Avast Fluttershy's Lament" was by far their most successful track. There are three download links in the description of the above video, but sadly all are now dead. Fortunately, it's pony.fm to the rescue once again, as there you can find a downloadable 320k MP3 of the song.

Next time: a triple bill! This one will include rapping, French and rock. Of a sort.

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Ponyfic Roundup 225: Many cheerful facts about the square of the hypotenuse

Shrink Laureate is running a fun-looking writing contest: the Season 9 Bingo Writing Contest. Don't worry, you don't need to write about S9! The way it works is that when the contest opens in a few days (for some reason the exact date hasn't been specified), you'll get dealt five cards from the S9 bingo set, and you then have to write a fic of 1k-20k words featuring at least two of those things. The more you include the better.

There's a sample set on the post I linked to above, to give you the idea. Stories have to be submitted before S9 begins on Discovery Family in the US (I know that date isn't yet known), and you'll then get a week to tidy them up before judging begins. I've put my name down, since it's about time I wrote a story that wasn't just about custard. There are plenty of places left, so feel free to join in!

Read it Later story count: 294 (+2)

Just to remind folks, my rating system is skewed to allow me to distinguish between good, excellent and fantastic stories. A two-star rating is average, not bad. Anyway, I have four fics under the microscope today. I'm not entirely certain where I got a microscope from, but oh well. I've been reading:

Blue Steel Railway by B_25
Peachy Pie and Misty Moon Keep the Realm Safe Until Dinnertime by Pascoite
Quills and Sofas by Just Horsing Around
Better by Unbridled

★: 0 | ★★: 2 | ★★★: 1 | ★★★★: 1 | ★★★★★: 0

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Flying east for fun and profit

Austraeoh has received an Equestria Daily feature. For his own reasons, Imploding Colon (yeah, I know he's shortskirtsandexplosions, but I like to stick to the names people use) apparently didn't submit it until six years after it had been finished. For what it's worth, my own opinion on the story was distinctly mixed. I reviewed it in Ponyfic Roundup 31 back in 2014 and scored it 6.5/10 – that's a moderate three-star rating in my current system. I haven't re-read it, so I can't say whether my opinion would be different if I reviewed the fic now. I'm sure the obsession with "ruby eyes" (used 57 times!) would still drive me up the wall, though.

Also in ponyfic news, EqD has a short interview with Pen Stroke, author of "Past Sins" (which I reviewed in PR 48) and various other stories. At a time when the site is adding more and more visual art coverage (eg the anthro and weekly open art posts) writing has been feeling increasingly marginalised. Perhaps inevitable at a time when falling viewership means Seth and co have to go for maximum eyeballs, but beyond the usual round of stories being featured, we don't get thrown many bones these days. Fimfiction is generally a better place for discussion anyway. It's nice to see some extra fanfic coverage on EqD for a change. :)