Monday, 29 June 2015

Episode review: S5E11: "Party Pooped"

The yak delegation eating Rarity's fabric
"You're such dears for helping me with the Hearth's Warming decorations"
As it so happens, I'm pooped right now (a busy but enjoyable weekend of ponymeets and steam trains), but like the pro that I'm not I'm still publishing this review on time. So: with "Party Pooped", we had another multi-credit episode, plus a new writer in Nick Confalone, a combination which made me a little apprehensive. On top of that, said new writer was tackling Pinkie Pie, whose character hasn't always been treated very well by the show. Does the end product work? Well...

Friday, 26 June 2015

Bracing myself for Wednesday

I've just prepared a review for the next Ponyfic Roundup in which I absolutely lay into a fic with over 50,000 views and a 97% upvote score. I only give it even two stars because of the single good section of the story. This should be interesting! Okay, I've also given a story four stars, so it's not all bad. You'll have to wait until next week to see which these stories are, though a couple of you may be able to guess the first one.

On another note, hotel prices in Leicester city centre this October are really rather silly now. The Travelodge there is charging £209 (flexible rate) for the Fri/Sat/Sun, while the Travelodge I'm booked into in Loughborough, ten minutes away by train, will still do the same thing for £114. The Rugby World Cup, even when it's only Argentina v Namibia, really is skewing things significantly this year.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Ponyfic Roundup 62: She'll Save Every One of Us

Apparently Build-A-Bear are going to do a Derpy, though I assume she'll actually be referred to as Muffins. Any guesses on what proportion of their sales of this particular plushie will actually be to kids? I suspect it won't be very high. Anyway, I think it's about time we had another spotlight edition of PR, and I know that at least one reader has been eagerly awaiting this particular review. Here we go, then:

Flash Fog by Kwakerjak
Fluttershy, OCs, Mane Six and CMC
Comedy/Adventure; 128K words; Sep 2012–Nov 2014; Everyone
Fluttershy qualified as a fog specialist for tax reasons – but now there's a real fog-based emergency, and the Department of Weather wants her to overcome it. This is a very entertaining story, which scores points from me for writing Fluttershy particularly well. The main OC, Pencil Pusher, really grew on me as the story went along, and there's a fun background plot involving some classic CMC hijinkery. Plus humans with Lyra and Bon Bon, though not quite as you might imagine. It does drag a little bit, especially in the middle, but it's still an enjoyable read despite its length. ★★★★

If you don't mind spoilers, come past the break for more!

Monday, 22 June 2015

Episode review: S5E10: "Princess Spike"

Spike doing a "Princess Spike" eye-flutter
Maybe that's Special Agent Not Actually Twist
After last week's general insanity, the 101st episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic returns to whatever passes for normality in Equestria. There's a new writer in Neal Dusedau, while the story itself is credited to Jayson Thiessen and Jim Miller. It has to be said that the hit rate of episodes with multiple writing credits is not particularly good, and that neither is that of Spike episodes in general, but maybe "Princess Spike" will be an exception. We'll find out past the break.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

I have my UK PonyCon ticket!

I won't bother posting a picture here as it's just a confirmation email, but I have now bought my ticket for UK PonyCon this October. I've gone for the standard Weekend Pass at £30, which is £5 more than last year but still less than a third of the equivalent ticket for BUCK 2016. (The £70 VIP tickets have already sold out.) With luck I'll actually stay for the weekend this time -- as some of you may remember, I was unwell last year and had to come home on Saturday evening. I still had a good time, though!

I intend to stay in Loughborough, since Leicester city centre hotels are expensive this year as there's a Rugby World Cup match on the Sunday. It's only ten minutes on the train or 25 minutes by airport bus, and since said bus runs 24/7 I won't have to worry about clock-watching after any late-evening events. (I've no idea whether there'll be any, but at the very least I expect there'll be some informal meetups in local pubs and suchlike.)

I've said this before -- last year, for example -- but I really, really like the convenience of a city-centre location. (Specifically, this hotel.) It helps enormously if (like me) you don't have a car, and it's also nice to be able to step outside and into the real world for a few minutes. I remember last year, nipping out to the pub for lunch and Tesco for a snack was quite refreshing. BUCK 2016, if I go, will be the first pony convention I'll have been to that won't have had this advantage.

Spike episode today. It would be nice if it were the fantastic Spike episode many of us have been waiting for... but it would also be a surprise.

Friday, 19 June 2015

New story by me: To Be the Candle

"To Be the Candle" fanfic cover image: a broken mirror
Cover image adapted from Mirror Shards by Marina Shemesh at
Gosh, it's been a while since I published a new fic, hasn't it? About four months, in fact. I've had a very silly one in the works for a few weeks, and all being well that will still appear at some point, but in the event this one turned up instead. I'd started it a while back, then put it to one side when I couldn't think what to do with the central idea. This is the result:

To Be the Candle by Loganberry
Dark; 2K words; Jun 2015; Teen
Some ponies are attracted to mirrors like moths to a flame, endlessly preening and posing before their own reflections. Silver Buck has come to hate mirrors with a passion – so why does he spend each new desperate day in their company?

This is the first time I've written a Dark-tagged story for this fandom, and possibly even for any fandom. I suspect that shows at times, but practice makes slightly less imperfect. It hasn't exactly got a lot of attention (OC-focused stories generally don't) and it's a monologue narrative which probably doesn't help either, but I've had a moderate amount of moderately positive feedback. At worst, it's got me out of the "not publishing anything new" rut I was in. :)

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Ponyfic Roundup 61: Some Stories about Ponies

Apparently, there has been drama in some quarters about E100. I suppose that isn't exactly startling, but it was a disappointing surprise to me because I spend most of my time on UK of Equestria – where said drama has been non-existent. (And that wasn't the case during Twilicorn, so it's not just that we're lovely people.) Anyway, back to the fics now. I've managed to get through a full half-dozen for the first time in quite a while, so let's see what we've got. Under review today:

Story Time With Whiteout by Whiteout
Cousin Braeburn Writes a Crop-fic by Skywriter
Prison of Mine by 2006midnight
Gotta Put a Smile on Your Face by ZAquanimus
Creatures of the Night by Ebon Mane
Old Friends, Again by RBDash47

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Comic mini-review: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #31

MLP:FiM IDW comic, issue #31, main cover

Time to face reality: I think mini-reviews are going to be the norm for comics, as I'm struggling to keep up now that there are episodes to review as well. I'll still go a little more in depth when necessary (hello next Friends Forever) but not often. Anyway, here we have the conclusion to the two-issue arc that began in #30. I think it's a little bit better than its predecessor (hence the slightly improved rating) but the whole setup still feels off. The "headshots" double-page spread just comes across like filler, I'm afraid. The ending is okay, though, and Pinkie Pie as tour guide really needs to be in the show. ★★★

Monday, 15 June 2015

Episode review: S5E09: "Larson!" "Slice of Life"

Vinyl and Octavia in the Wubmobile
Literally jumping the shark
Well then... 100 episodes! How would My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic celebrate this remarkable milestone? By handing the writing reins for "Slice of Life" to one M. A. Larson, that's how! Once that little fact had been announced, most fans were expecting something a bit out of the ordinary. And we got it. Oh, we got it all right. This will be a bit of a mess of a review, not because I'm pushed for time but because I still haven't quite processed everything that went on...

Friday, 12 June 2015

Comic mini-review: Friends Forever #17: Twilight & Big Mac

MLP:FF #17 (Twi/Big Mac) Sub cover

Another mini-review I'm afraid, though that's probably not a surprise given the supply problems I've been talking about. In this issue, Twilight gets inside Big Mac's mind – quite literally. This is a very enjoyable comic, certainly one of the better instalments in this series and a lot better than main-series #30. It's frequently funny, there are some nice touches from Brenda Hickey's art (especially the Sub cover pictured above!) and Ted Anderson gives us a solid storyline that both makes sense and is completely ridiculous. Unless you really detest these characters, this one is a keeper. ★★★★

Thursday, 11 June 2015

BUCK ticket prices announced!

Britain's biggest (by some distance) pony convention, BUCK, has published its ticket details for next April's fourth edition of the con. They're going for a modular structure this time, but this is how it will work (prices are rounded up to the nearest pound):

Standard weekend: £100
Saturday (daytime): £35
Saturday (evening): £20
Sunday (all day): £55

On top of that, there are the bolt-ons, which are as follows:

Generosity badge/charity donation: £10
Priority entry/pre-registration: £35
A2 poster/listed in conbook: £35
2016 "20% Cooler" T-shirt: £35

Guest buffet lunch: £50 (Sunday?)
Mini-golf with guests: £50 (Fri afternoon)
Jazz Club with VIPs: £50 (Fri evening)

If you're American, these prices probably look sky-high; UK running costs are much higher, so that's inevitable to some extent. Even from this side of the Atlantic, they ain't cheap: this is by a long way the most expensive pony con in the country. It was last year as well, but most people (including me) felt it offered decent value for money.

The weekend ticket is up £20 on last year; the organisers claim it's the same, but that's pushing it a little; last year we got the Summer Sun Celebration on Friday evening as well for that price. Accommodation and travel may be trickier as well in 2016 owing to the edge-of-town location, so I think it's inevitable that the con will be costing some people significantly more than in 2014.

As a two-BUCK veteran, I know just what a wonderful experience these things can be, and how well (the odd hiccup aside) they're organised. These prices are such that I can't really commit to going in 2016, but if I can scrape the money together then I'm still tempted: there isn't a great deal that I'd rather spend any "fun stuff" cash on than a really good BUCK weekend.

On the other hand, I could buy three UK PonyCon weekend tickets for the same money and still have enough to buy food! :P

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Ponyfic Roundup 60: Coffee Time Ponies

Apologies for the lateness of the Friends Forever #17 (Twilight/Big Mac) comic review: my usual suppliers (Level Seven) were let down by their distributors, and my replacement source is also being slow. I will say now that I enjoyed the comic, though. Back to the world of ponyfic, and I'm back up to five reviews this week. Several of these stories have been sitting on my waiting list for ages, including one of The Descendant's best known works. In reading order as ever, I'm reviewing:

A Cup of Joe by The Descendant
Isn't it Great to be Different? by BronyDerp117
Fluttershy's Garden by SilentWanderer
Wonderbolt by WovenWord
By the Fireplace by Jingle

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Exciting fic-writing announcement thing!

That's right: I have a new story out, and one which packs more drama per word than anything else I've ever written. Ponyfic may never be the same again.

The True Beginning of our End by Loganberry
Cadance and Shining Armor
Romance/Tragedy; *cough* words; Jun 2015; Teen
A heart-rending tale of doomed love for the ages: a searing insight into the unbearable burdens that weigh so heavily on the relationships of Equestrian royalty. I should be quite clear about the potentially disturbing nature of this fic: it isn't recommended for those who doubt their capacity to deal with the emotional fallout of something so intense. Also, has its own fanfic! (An unofficial sequel by FanOfMostEverything, though that's several times longer than my own story.)

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Okay, so I have a CCG card now...

"Seaddle 2015" stamped CCG card

...even if I didn't really expect to have! This "Seaddle 2015"-stamped card came courtesy of a flash sale event Enterplay did last weekend during EFNW. It was a very small event with only two flash sales, but this card was one of them. And it turned up in the post yesterday. Thankfully these days they put them in UltraPro wallets; my Fluttershy S1 promo way back when was sent with "protection" amounting to a bit of plain paper wrapped around it. :P

"But Logan," I hear you say, "I thought you didn't play the CCG?" Well... no, I don't, really. I have an admission to make here: I saw the words "Flash Sale" purely by accident while I was poking around the Enterplay site and searching for stuff, and went into a sort of "automatic panic" mode. I would probably have stopped at the point where the PayPal form asked for you to confirm the p&p payment...

...except that it didn't. Enterplay's policy on this seems to have changed, and I wasn't charged a penny. Which means that, by the time I really realised what I was doing, the transaction had gone through. The upshot of all this is that I am now the proud possessor of this card. Which, I have to say, I really like the design of anyway, so I guess it all worked out in the end. :)

Thursday, 4 June 2015

BronyScot ticket and guest details announced

Where They Understand You is finished at last. Huzzah! I make that an average of roughly 44 words per day. :P


BronyScot, the one-day Edinburgh con taking place on 21 November, has announced a few more details. Chief among these are the ticket prices, which are as follows:

Standard: £18
Nessie's Treasure Trove* : £35
Vendor: £45

* The NTT tickets will include a set of goodies: badge set, stickers, wristband, small art prints, drinks coaster and keyring.

I think this represents pretty solid value. The Standard ticket is the same price as a one-day pass to UK PonyCon, for example, while the NTT ticket is by some way the cheapest of any British con's "added-value" option. UK PonyCon's VIP tickets were £70, for example, though those have already sold out so I guess plenty of people did want them.

BronyScot has also signed up Eile Monty as a guest for the second successive year -- an excellent choice, and one that would certainly attract me if Edinburgh weren't so far and if I had enough money to do three pony cons in a year in the first place!

I have a good deal of time for BronyScot from what I've seen of it since its inception, and without the unfortunate clash of dates last year's edition suffered, I expect it to have another successful outing this autumn.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Ponyfic Roundup 59: Here Comes the Sun

We're now into June and, according to the Met Office, into meteorological summer. What better time, then, to review a story in which the sun plays a rather important role? Yes, it's iisaw's RCL-inducted adventure yarn, The Celestia Code. At one point, I thought that would be the only story I'd manage to review this week, but an unexpected couple of hours of free time allowed me to fit in another three short fics. In reading order, this week's entries are:

The Celestia Code by iisaw
To Not Be Different by punzil504
...And Borrowing Dulls The Edge Of Husbandry by Softy8088
For a Very Special Somepony by Emylia Hawke

Monday, 1 June 2015

Lullaby for a Princess video

Yes, it's finished at last! More than two years in the making, and WarpOut's remarkable animation is up for all to see. And it's beautiful.