Friday, 31 March 2017

Flashfic 150 gets under way tomorrow

I really wasn't sure when I announced Flashfic 150 what sort of a response I'd get. I did wonder, in the back of my mind, whether 2017 might be too late in the day for something like this to work. Frankly, it wouldn't altogether have shocked me if I'd had three people join the group and then none of them actually write anything. The second part is still possible, but as I type membership stands at 41, a figure I'm pretty satisfied with.

We've had a practice thread going for a little while, but the first actual contest will start tomorrow. I have a prompt in mind, but since the "prize" is choosing the following month's prompt I have no idea what will appear in the future. I'd like nothing so much as if someone with no record on Fimfiction had a go at Flashfic 150, got the taste for writing ponyfic, and then started putting out stories of their own. That really would be wonderful.

Tomorrow, I'll update the group front page and start the April contest thread. I'm actually looking forward to this tremendously. With a little trepidation, since I'm bound to have overlooked something important, but looking forward to it nevertheless.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

New keyboard!

Overhead view of Cherry Stream 3.0 keyboard
Yes, it's wired. I prefer that for simplicity's sake
A couple of months ago, I upgraded from a truly dire keyboard to a Microsoft Wired 600 – here's my post about it. That keyboard still works pretty well and I'm certainly not throwing it out, but it's now become my reserve unit. That's because I've decided to go up another notch and move to a Cherry Stream 3.0, which currently retails at around £20 from Amazon UK.

The Cherry uses scissor switches, which is the technology that laptop keyboards use, and indeed typing on it does feel rather like typing on a good quality laptop – something like a Thinkpad. It's pretty slim, which does take a bit of getting used to, but it's also quite heavy – around 900 grams – thanks to a slice of metal in the base which gives the keyboard a nice, sturdy feel.

In use, it's nice and quiet (which I prefer) and easy to type fast and accurately on. "Fast" here is a relative term: I'm not a touch typist, and I'd find it hard to keep up more than 50 words per minute for any length of time. The keyboard has the usual 105-key UK layout, and it's large enough that I don't find myself pressing down two keys at once. I haven't bothered with the multimedia keys.

So far, I'm very pleased, and my hands have remained comfortable after typing some fairly long documents. My one slight concern is longevity: a minority of German-language reviews I've read have suggested that the laser-etched keytops aren't as long-lasting as they really ought to be. But right now, I'd say this was a good buy, and a noticeable step up from High Street keyboards.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Ponyfic Roundup 151: Ooh, I Could Crush a Grape

I stumbled across an odd conversation on Twitter the other day: two non-native English speakers were discussing English usage, and one stated that British English speakers usually made a distinction between "toward" (used adverbially) and "towards" (used adjectivally). This is not the case, at least not in anything resembling the real world. Both forms are correct in BrEng, but in practice we use "towards" most of the time. Thrilling, eh?

Read it Later story count: 458 (-8)

It's mixed bag time again this week, and all the five stories are short as I haven't had a great deal of spare time. Yes, I am aware that I don't have to post a PR every single Wednesday! I just like to if I possibly can. A bit of a mixed experience for me this week, but with luck some of you will have your interest piqued by something you read here. To the starting blocks!

Conscientious Objector by Inspector Brown
An Apple Comes Our of the Cellar by Seether00
Final Say by Glen Gorewood
Just Give Me a Reason by SleepIsForTheWeak
The Path I Tread by Smaug the golden

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

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Fimfiction story rankings

After reading PresentPerfect's Fimfiction post, I wandered off to my own story list to see if there were any round numbers in their current rankings. Answer: no. But then I thought I'd see how my various fics compared to each other. Unsurprisingly, I have nothing in the top thousand and nothing right down the bottom. But for my 23 completed stories (the other two are anthologies), this is how they shape up.

I'm well aware that the Fimfiction rating algorithm is far from being a properly reliable measure of stories' relative quality. I'm also well aware that taking any of this stuff too seriously is a bad idea. Rest assured that I'm not! So take my mini-analyses with plenty of salt. Here we go:

1st: It Doesn't Matter Now (3,237). No surprise there, given that it's my RCL entry.
2nd: Shining Armor's Amour's Armour (7,326). Really? Really? Dearie dearie me.
3rd: We Who with Songs Beguile (11,341). This one makes a bit more sense, frankly.
4th: The Unbearable Lightness of Bucking (12,619). I'm actually rather happy with that!
5th: Where They Understand You (16,166). This was a pleasant surprise as well.

6th: For an Angel to Pass (17,117). I think this one is a little overrated.
7th: Starlight Repeatedly Teleports into Custard (21,047). Huzzah! :D
8th: Like a Flower to the World (23,817). Not critically acclaimed, but fairly popular.
9th: This Fragment of Life (27,861). Shows the power of utter idiocy, I suppose.
10th: One Hell of a Party (28,107). Seems about right, considering.

11th=: To Be the Candle (28,877). I wish this was a couple of places higher.
11th=: Ever Let the Fancy Roam (28,877). This too. Yes, the same rating as TBtC!
13th: Kicking Back (29,563). A really silly story. Fairly placed, I think.
14th: The Light that Ignites in the Dark (30,328). I have affection for it. but fair.
15th: The Book of Ended Lives (32,091). I did think this fic would do better.

16th: By the Seashore (37,160). My lowest fic to get an R from PP. :P
17th: More than Alive (39,043). Not too bad for such a niche-appeal story!
18th: Clouded Minds (44,786). A concept I still like, despite the iffy writing.
19th: So Many Different Ways to Prey (49,395). Newborn Cuties crossover in top 50k!
20th: The 20 Percent Solution (55,122). My first ponyfic, and you can tell.

21st: Ra Ra Raspberry (55,766). Joke relies on knowledge of a specific song.
22nd: The Ballad of Wyvern's Rock (82,333). Mediocre epic poetry, so fine.
23rd: Sunset's Sales Snag (85,308). Boo! This is not that bad a silly fic!

Monday, 27 March 2017

Playing Tails of Equestria

Tails of Equestria book, showing front cover with adventuring ponies
Sadly the art inside is just stock vectors and show screenshots
On Saturday, I went to the twice-monthly Worcester meet. Patrick had brought along his copy of the newish Tails of Equestria RPG, and four of us (three players and Patrick as GM) created characters and started out on the sample adventure in the book. Apparently character creation was supposed to take about half an hour. This is where anyone who's ever played an RPG does the hollow laughter thing. (But not the hollow voice thing. "Plugh" doesn't work here!)

My character, Ripple, has a special talent for finding water but a "quirk" of short-sightedness. This means that in the wilds, I may well find water by falling into it! I'm a unicorn, and so my Mind attribute is slightly enhanced; the other two are Body and Charm. Earth ponies get a slight Body advantage; pegasi don't get a Charm advantage but of course they can fly. And no, you are absolutely not allowed to play an alicorn character!

Anyway, I won't spoil the adventure's plot in case any of you might play it sometime, but it's fair to say it was far more fun than I was expecting – even if I did roll 1 suspiciously often when trying to achieve some useful task. Admittedly much of the amusement was provided by our earth pony character, whose main trait was a feeling that every problem could be solved by kicking it. We also had a pegasus in the party, so we hoped the balance would work.

As I write this, we're about halfway through the adventure after an hour or so's play, and we're intending to complete it at the next meet in a fortnight. I'm not sure I'd want to play ToE at every meet – there are almost too many gaming meets already – but I think I'd be up for occasional sessions in the future, as Patrick suggested. At any rate, if you can find the set for a reasonable price, and as long as you have a few like-minded friends, I think I'd recommend it. :)

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Five years in the fandom, part 2: looking ahead

Yes, I know about the Brony Dance Party situation. Can't think of anything much to say about it now, though, so I'll wait to see what transpires. On to the promised forward-looking and generally quite optimistic post. :)

Not so long ago, I made this post which mentioned some of the things that I'd experienced during my five years in the My Little Pony fandom. In today's post, I'm going to look into my Mystical Orb of Fate's Destiny and talk about where I see the fandom going from here. I'll be concentrating on stuff that affects me, so there won't be a lot about gaming or plushie making.

You may have noticed that I've added the "uk-specific" tag this time round. That's because there are several areas where the American experience is not fully shared by those of us on this side of the Atlantic. Conventions being the obvious example, but there are several more that I'll touch on. Not in huge detail, as I don't want to drag on, but as always comments are welcome!

More past the break; this one will be longer than last week's. It remains spoiler-free, however!

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Sex ratios in Equestria

Scootaloo beat that damn Harshwhinny mare (22-18) in #MareMadness. There is justice in this world! :D

As reported on this Equestria Daily page, a guy named Thomas has looked at every pony seen in the show and classified them by age, sex and tribe. There seem to be a couple of errors in his summaries (eg rounding 461:428 to 2:1), but I'm going to assume that the underlying data is accurate. Here is the measure that stood out to me most:

Female:male ratio by tribe
Earth: 461:428 = 1.08:1
Pegasus: 186:120 = 1.55:1
Unicorn: 199:115 = 1.73:1

I haven't done any proper statistical analysis (who do you think I am, Bad Horse?) but the gap between the number for earth ponies and that for the other two tribes really stands out. We think of Equestria as female-dominated, and indeed it is – all the more so if you look at which ponies hold positions of real power. But for earth ponies, it's not far off equality in the population as a whole.

Any in-universe ideas as to why this might be the case?

Friday, 24 March 2017

Another little movie merch titbit

I suppose this counts as a spoiler within the meaning of the Act. It's just a toy reveal, but it does have the movie branding. So...

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Quick thoughts on the S7E03 and S7E04 synopses

This is a fairly short post, but I'm adding the break because spoilers. As I've said before, I don't really consider synopses to be spoilers, but over a month out is a different proposition from a few days beforehand. So, break added! To pad this intro out a bit, I'll mention that "chatted up" in BrEng almost always means something like "hit on". It's a nice source of low-level amusement for we UK-based readers. :P

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Ponyfic Roundup 150: Friendship Through the Ages

Grumble. EQD did a Starlight Glimmer Day on Monday, and pretty much every form of art was represented... except writing. Unless I overlooked something (perfectly possible) there wasn't a single story in any of the day's posts. Comics, pictures, animations, discussions, you name it – but no GlimFics. Surely someone wrote something for the occasion? As I said, grumble.

Away from my whinging, there's a double landmark on this blog today! Not only is this the 150th edition of Ponyfic Roundup, but it's also very nearly the feature's third birthday. PR 1 was published on 26 March 2014.

Read it Later story count: 466 (-12)

I considered a few ways to mark PR 150, but in the end I opted for an idea originally suggested by Chris: to review a story from each year of the fandom. Since I'm counting the two part-years at either end, that means a hefty eight fics under review today. I chose them simply because they looked interesting. I know, right? It'll never catch on.

2010: Pinkie Pie and Applejack's Cooking Hour by Jimbo
2011: Off the Edge of the Map by Daetrin
2012: I Am Chaos by Feather Sigil
2013: Little Lies by totallynotabrony
2014: When the Levee Breaks by A Hoof-ful of Dust
2015: Ciphers by Grand Moff Pony
2016: Midnight Special by NorthCrusader
2017: Slouching Towards Canterlot by EbonQuill

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

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Five years in the fandom, part 1: looking back

Five years ago this month, I did a "What pony are you?" meme. And yes, I came out as Fluttershy. Just after that, I finally succumbed to the pressure from various friends to watch the show. I zapped through the two seasons we then had available, and "A Canterlot Wedding" was the first episode for which I could read the hype as it was happening. I seem to remember some people being concerned that a wedding-based episode would see a reversion to G3 cutesiness. Heh.

In April 2012, I joined Fimfiction. It had been around for a while by then, but was still getting up to speed. Indeed, I started writing my first story (what would become The 20 Percent Solution) in GDocs. Fimf quickly took over, though. And the following month, I signed up on UK of Equestria. These were both good decisions, since the two sites have been at the core of my Pony fandom life ever since. This blog followed in December 2012.

More of this unfocused jabbering past the break! This time, it's not spoilery!

Friday, 17 March 2017

Another S7 clip

This news splurge is not helpful timing on the part of Discovery Family. I'm spending most of today and tomorrow at the Severn Valley Railway's Spring Steam Gala, so I don't have that much time to devote to ponies. Still... this second trailer is a bit more conventional in format than the first one, and has been given a non-spoilery thumbnail by EQD:

Quick thoughts past the break.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

And finally we have a Season Seven teaser clip!

That's right: we have an official S7 teaser trailer! Now, in the normal scheme of things, I do not consider things like this to count as spoilers – so please be warned! However, on this specific occasion, even the thumbnail is sufficiently spoilery that I'm placing the trailer link after the break. A single glimpse of it will tell you something about the premiere, though I won't say up here how important it is.

After the break, I will also be discussing some episode details released by Discovery Family – and those include not only the premiere's synopsis, but also a few significant details about other episodes. Read on if you dare!

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Ponyfic Roundup 149: If You Don't Want to Know the Results, Look Away Now

I'm planning a fairly substantial cull of my Read it Later list in the near future. Although I did just about succeed in keeping it below 500 fics and it's slowly been shrinking, it's still much larger than I'd like. That being so, I'm going to weed out stories I keep looking at and then passing over. What I'll end up with, I don't know, but I'll still add fics from time to time, so there'll always be plenty of stories in the queue!

Read it Later story count: 478 (-1)

We're back to the traditional mixed bag this week, and in keeping with this theme of being normal and unexciting, there are six stories under review and no five-star gems. Still, I did find a good bit of interest in some of the fics I looked at, so let's get on with it.

Promises by RaylanKrios
This Isn't War by KingMoriarty
Overlooked Relations by Calming Moon
Mare of Many Hats by Skywriter
Can Ya Fix Her? by LightningSword
All the Ways that Matter by RoyalBardOfCanterlot

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

Monday, 13 March 2017

Comic mini-review: Deviations

And another My Little Pony comic to review. And after this, there'll be another comic to buy this next week. As I said last time, I think IDW are overdoing it now. If they go on a splurge like this again, I'm going to be really tempted not to buy everything. And that's me saying that – someone who pre-ordered the box set of issue #1 in 2012 and owns at least one copy of every standard MLP comic IDW have ever put out.

Whinge over. Review starting.

MLP Deviations comic, Pinkie/Dredd mashup cover by Katie Cook
Seriously, how could I possibly resist Cook's cover?
Another special issue this time, but this one doesn't tie in with a toy line – well, no more than usual. Katie Cook returns for the first time since the glorious main-series #42, and I'm pleased to say she's written another winner. This is a "what if?" comic, in which Celestia chose as her pupil not Twilight but Blueblood. You don't want to question certain aspects of continuity too hard, but if you can accept this as pure silliness it's great fun. Agnes Garbowska's style really works here, and Cook even gets away with a fourth-wall gag without its seeming too forced. You may even develop a sneaking sympathy for Nightmare Moon! There's also a four-page backup story drawn by Cook – remember when we used to get backups in regular issues? Despite my irritation with the avalanche of IDW comics, this one is worth the price of admission. ★★★★

Friday, 10 March 2017

What does the future hold for ponyfic?

I am really enjoying The Great War channel on YouTube. Indy Neidell's week-by-week videos are easily the most accessible WW1 stuff I've seen.

Okay, on to the meat of today's post. As you'll see, it's tagged "musing" rather than "essays", as I deliberately haven't made much effort to be comprehensive. This is just a "what's on my mind" post. Off we go!

Our fandom is becoming less active, certainly in terms of publishing fanfics. This is not the cheeriest way to begin a post, but the evidence does seem to point one way. Fimfiction's statistics page tells a pretty clear story: once the site had got up to speed, around the end of Season Two, submissions stayed at a fairly consistent level of around 2,000 a month until the end of S4.

Since then, numbers have fallen to around half that figure, although the decline was at its steepest – perhaps unsurprisingly – during the 11-month hiatus between S4 and S5. Yes, we had Rainbow Rocks to keep us going, but the show itself was away for a long, long time, and that does seem to have made a substantial impression on the number of people submitting fics to Fimf. Some came back, but not all.

More of this rambling after the break!

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Comic review: Guardians of Harmony

Yet another comic from IDW now. I am just slightly wondering whether they're overdoing it a bit – it's starting to get expensive! – but this is a story I've been looking forward to ever since it was announced. Time to see whether the real thing matches up to my expectations. Not a mini review this time, as I'll be going through each chapter in turn in a spoiler-cut section after the main review.

MLP Guardians of Harmony comic, main cover by Andy Price
Andy Price's main cover is, as expected, great
Guardians of Harmony ties in with the toy line of the same name, and is rather more transparently toyetic than usual. This isn't fatal in itself, and with one exception things don't look too out of place in Equestria. The comic is also a multi-creator deal, with six chapters, each from a different writer/artist pair. (Heather Breckel is the only colourist credited.) The story is inevitably episodic, and there's less smooth continuity than I'd have liked. There are also a couple of slightly irritating character decisions. The chapters themselves are of uneven quality, and there's not really enough action-adventure for the GoH brand, but they're generally at least decent. This is a good comic, but it blows its chance to be a great one. Considering the high cover price (it's marketed as an annual), I can't really award it more than ★★★.

Now, come with me past the break for some spoilery comments on each chapter.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Ponyfic Roundup 148: Spotlight on Vinyl and Octavia: University Days (and University Nights)

A quick plug first for FanOfMostEverything's Imposing Sovereigns contest. It's explained over there, but in brief it's all about writing princess stories. (Interpreted quite liberally: Ember can count, and even Big Mac.) There isn't a chance in Tartarus I'll think of something in time, and in any case many slots are already taken – but do give it a look.

Two reviews for the price of one in this Spotlight! Well, actually one and a bit, as the second one isn't really a standalone. I was going to review University Nights separately, but I feel it's too closely attached to the main story for that. So you're getting it here! I quite like school (well, uni here) stories, even though I didn't much enjoy real-life school, so that won't count against Days. Let's go!

Read it Later story count: 479 (-4)

Vinyl and Octavia: University Days by DawnFade
Vinyl Scratch and Octavia
Comedy/Romance/Slice of Life; 71k words; Apr 2012–Jan 2014; Teen
Vinyl Scratch and Octavia go to university.
Oh yeah, you're thinking. I know where this is going. And you're right: you do. From very early on, it's clear that this is a "how they got together" fic. It doesn't do much that's particularly startling, an important character is poorly drawn, the ending is very rushed and there's a fair bit of LUS. Sounds like a waste of time, right? Wrong. What lifts this fic above that level is its likeable central characters. They're not terribly thrilling, but I enjoyed spending time in their company. Not just Vinyl and Octavia themselves, but Lyra and Bon Bon (who play a decent supporting role) and an OC who's more interesting than he at first appears. This is very definitely easy reading rather than world-shaking literature, but sometimes easy reading is all you want. Days could easily have been a mediocre two, but that sheer pleasantness nudges it into the threes. ★★★

University Nights by DawnFade
Vinyl Scratch and Octavia
Romance; 3k words; Aug 2012–Jan 2014; Mature (Sex)
A collection of tales of debauchery from the students of West Manehattan University.
This piece is not actually as wide-ranging as the description makes it sound; it's simply a couple of sex scenes that would doubtless have been included in Days had that been given an M rating. I feel the first is the better, almost startlingly realistic for a short clop scene. The second is okay, but doesn't really bring anything new and is rather awkwardly fitted into the the Days timeline. Worth reading if you like, but in no way necessary to enjoy the main story. Four stars for the first chapter, two stars for the second, so overall another ★★★.

Come past the break for some more detailed discussion of University Days, together with plenty of spoilers. I won't say any more about Nights, as I think I've mentioned everything I want to about that bit.

Monday, 6 March 2017

Announcing Flashfic 150!

Flashfic group icon showing a lightning bolt
Image is a cropped public domain image from here
A long time ago, I floated the idea of running a ponyfic contest. It never happened, for a variety of reasons but most notably the fact that I was too damn lazy to set it up. Years have gone by and the ponyfic world has shrunk somewhat (more on that topic later this week), but as some of you may have seen already, at last I'm actually doing something about it!

The new Flashfic group on Fimfiction, which I've just set up (rather startled that the name hadn't been taken), will from next month be hosting a fun monthly contest for 150-word flash fiction. Hence my cunning choice of the name Flashfic 150. :D These contests will be judged by yours truly, for the simple reason that I am utterly power-crazed have always wanted to do it.

Flashfic 150 is intended as a laid back affair. "No prizes, no pressure, just fun!" is its slogan. What I'd dearly love to do is to encourage new writers to have a go, and then perhaps to go on to bigger things. However, everyone with a Fimfiction account will be eligible to participate, subject to the rules of the contest and – obviously – Fimfiction's own.

All Flashfic 150 contests will be pony-centric, and the plan is for the first to take place next month, ie April 2017. The group has enough members already to make a small contest workable. Of course, it may be that there just isn't enough interest in something like this to keep it going in the longer term, but I would like to at least be able to say I'd given it a try.

The Flashfic group is right here!

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Comic mini-review: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #51

Comics are coming thick and fast from IDW at the moment! I already have the Guardians of Harmony special issue, which will be reviewed soon, but for now we're back to the main series.

Main cover of MLP comic #51, showing the Mane Six and Shadow Lock
Tony Fleecs' cover appealed to me more than the "toga party" sub cover
A new writer this time! James Asmus, writer of much other stuff including quite a few X-Men comics, makes his Pony debut alongside regular artist Tony Fleecs and colourist Heather Breckel. In this arc, which will apparently somehow tie into Season Seven of the show,* Asmus gets off to a solid if unspectacular start with a fairly interesting story, introducing a suspicious new pony. Most of the character interaction is decent, though a bar scene is a bit odd and I can't see Fluttershy ever using the term "wrestly-doo". A bigger problem, given the importance of book magic, is the absence of even a passing reference to the Bookworm arc. Hopefully that was a choice, not a research failure. Fleecs' art is fine, though it's a bit weird having Fluttershy flying so much and Rainbow flying so little. Enough here for me to be cautiously optimistic, but not enough for me to proclaim Asmus a Pony comic genius. I await the next issue with interest! ★★★

* I'm being deliberately vague here. I know what was announced.

Friday, 3 March 2017

Pony Music Library 40: "Step Around"

I've been pleased with the reception I've had for The Book of Ended Lives. A relief to know that I haven't crashed and burned with it – yet, anyway. So far, so good on that one! As far as this blog goes, there'll be a review of main-series comic #51 in the next few days, but today it's time for another PML induction.

What? "Step Around"

Who? Wasteland Wailers

Which? Original song

When? April 2014

Why? The Fallout: Equestria game this relates to is still in production nearly three years later, but regardless of that this is a very nice jazz number, albeit rather more upbeat than you'd expect for the setting. It's a genre I like, but one that's not hugely well represented in the fandom. This particular song benefits from Brittany Church's vocals; she does an excellent job as Velvet Remedy. The trumpet solo is the work of Danielle Horan, while Joel Stumbaugh plays the drums. The song is well produced, too, and an all-round joy to listen to.

Thursday, 2 March 2017

New story by me: The Book of Ended Lives

Cover image: Applejack looking unhappy
Marvel at my astounding "yeah, that filter, I suppose" skills, y'all!
To my enormous relief, I've finally got a new story up on Fimfiction. My last fic, More than Alive, was a pretty niche affair set in an alternate universe and still has under 100 views after two months. Even for me, that's not many. This new story, set firmly in the Ponyville we know, has surpassed its predecessor (and by quite some margin) in two days. Here's the summary:

The Book of Ended Lives by Loganberry
Applejack and OC
Sad/Slice of Life; 4k words; Feb 2017; Teen
I'm Last Account. For quite a while now, I've been the Keeper of the Book of Ended Lives here in Ponyville Town Hall, and it can be hard work – especially when Fluttershy visits the office. This afternoon, though, it's Applejack. She's here to tell me about the timberwolf she killed earlier. To start with.

My last published fic rather came out of nowhere. The Book of Ended Lives did not: in fact, it's been in my mind since well before More than Alive was, and I've been working on it, on and off, since late last year. One reason it's taken so long is that it began life as a very different story, centring on the Fluttershy aspect that now forms only a small part of the tale. I didn't sit down to write the AJ fic it's become, but sometimes the story won't let you do what you want and insists you do things its way. This is one of those times.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

The Antelope Party – a play about bronies, apparently

This casting call for Theatre Wit in Chicago is, um, interesting. The record of stage productions based on My Little Pony is not terribly good, with only the Rainbow Rocks musical really standing out in recent years. The Antelope Party is... well, here's the description given:
The Rust Belt Ponies Meet Up Group for Adult Fans of My Little Pony has gathered in Ben's Philadelphia apartment, but two members have not yet arrived. A new recruit seems unusually shy and curiously paranoid about a local neighborhood watch group. What happened to their Pegasister, Maggie? Why is Brony Doug so paranoid? What does it all have to do with the 9/11 Truthers and an emerging group of "concerned citizens?" In the midst of increasing violence and authoritarianism, how can our heroes see the magic in Everypony? And, even worse, what if they do? And that's just the first ten minutes of Eric John Meyer's amazing and timely new comedy. With its My Little Pony cult prism, Meyer explores the rise of a new social order and how the currents of history, normalization and fear can sweep up even the most Generous ponies of Celestia.
I can't say this has made me especially optimistic. For a start, the meetup group's name is ridiculous. Also, over here it would be highly unusual to hold a meetup in a private home; maybe it's different in the US but it feels quite wrong to me. Who refers to female members of a group as "their Pegasisters"? And the words "My Little Pony cult prism" are hardly calculated to make a fan feel this will be a well researched production.

The cast required consists of three male and three female bronies, all aged mid-20s to late 30s. I guess that's not too bad, though most meetup groups are male-dominated and I'd be a bit surprised not to see anyone a little younger. Still, I'll let that one pass. However, at the end we get this:
For more context, view the trailer for the documentary Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony.
I would hope that someone serious about playing the part of a brony would do more than watch one trailer! When the aforementioned Rainbow Rocks musical was announced, one of the people behind it (I think it was Hugh Osborne) came onto EqD and interacted with fans for a considerable period. I'm not saying that's necessary, but at least knowing about EqD and some fandom basics will help.

So, right now I'm interested but deeply sceptical. It'll be interesting, if anyone from the fandom goes to see this play, to discover whether it does feel as though it's been researched, rather than just picked out as another "weird bunch of weird guys" thing.

Ponyfic Roundup 147: A Bringer of New Things

Read it Later story count: 483 (+1)

Last week, most of the stories I reviewed were several years old. This week, I'm going in the other direction. With fewer ponyfics being published now than there used to be,* I think it's more important than ever that there's good new stuff appearing on Fimfiction. So all the fics I'm reviewing in this PR have appeared since the start of 2017. Will it work? Let's see.

* Fimfiction submissions have fallen by slightly more than half since their 2013 peak.

Glimmer in the Snow by Emperor
Ignited Embers by Inquiry Tales
Can Pegasi Have Magical Surges by redtau
Cold Currents by Odd_Shot
A Heart of Cold by HMKv2
Spare Me by Fangren
A Monster Looming Over Us by Brass Polish

★: 2 | ★★: 4 | ★★★: 1 | ★★★★: 0 | ★★★★★: 0