Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Sounds of 2011, no. 95: "Cerulean Blue"

No Ponyfic Roundup this week, thanks to UK PonyCon last weekend, and for the same reason my S8 finale review will be a few days yet – so have this instead.

Well, how about that? We've reached our first original song! I'm sure that the only reason this track by New Zealand musician Replacer charted so low in Everfree Radio's Top 100 for 2011 was that it wasn't released until early December of that year. It's certainly a song that's stood the test of time, being instantly recognisable from the pulsing piano chords that open the track. From there, we get a fast-paced celebration of early-series Rainbow Dash, but also a nagging worry that she's not quite fulfilling her potential.

For such an old song, the production values on "Cerulean Blue" are pretty high, perhaps one reason it's retained its popularity; the simple yet striking image on the video can't have hurt, either. A few of the drum sounds are a bit tinny, but Replacer's own vocals stand out quite well. There's also some nice variety, with a short guitar solo around halfway through and a great big Blur-style section nearer the end. "Rainbow Dash is best pony when the world seems Everfree" is a clever lyric – if not one this Fluttershy fan entirely agrees with!

Replacer – who styles himself replacer (all lower-case) – is a musician who remains active in the fandom to this day, having released a new post-apocalyptic surf-rock track (yes, really), "Still No Words", in September. If you're interested in getting hold of "Cerulean Blue" in better-than-YouTube quality, you'll need to look in the video description, where there are Mediafire links for both MP3 and WAV versions, plus instrumental, a capella and stem files. Although Replacer does have a Bandcamp, this track is not available there.

Next time on Sounds of 2011: another original song, and again one that's still quite well-known.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Back from British Personal Small Horse Convention

Yes, UK PonyCon is over for another year. It was a wonderful experience, full of... well, friendship and magic. I can't see the future, but if UKPC happens in 2019 and I can get to it again, I'm there.

There will be my trademark rambly posts about my UK PonyCon experience in the near future, but I'm much too tired for now; I haven't even fully unpacked the things I bought yet.

Suffice it to say that this was the happiest convention weekend I've ever had.

Monday, 15 October 2018

Sounds of 2011, no. 96: "For the New Lunar Republic (Thorinair Mix)"

I'm currently away at UK PonyCon, so this is a scheduled post.

Last time on Sounds of 2011 we had four remixes. This time? Just the one! "For the New Lunar Republic" is one of the more enduring of early-fandom tunes, and we'll be meeting the original by Not a Clever Pony down the line. What we have here is a version by Thorinair that turns the song into a swoopy, swishy trance track. (Yes, those are technical musical terms.) It perhaps feels a little too long at over seven and a half minutes, but otherwise it's great as background music.

It's been a long time since this homage to the Princess of the Night, but Croatian musician Thorinair is another still active in the fandom as of 2018: his Twilight-themed "From That Very First Day" was uploaded to YouTube this January, and you can hear him on the Glory of the Night show on Ponyville FM. Should you wish to get his "FtNLR" remix in higher quality than YouTube can offer, there are Mediafire links in the video description, or it can be purchased for $1 on Thorinair's Bandcamp.

Join me again next time, when Sounds of 2011 will be featuring... an original track! (Gasp! —Ed.) Yes, that's right: no. 95 in the chart is not a remix. You'll have to wait a little while longer to find out just what it is, though. Well, unless you know already. But don't spoil it for the others if you do, eh? Thanks. :)

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Sounds of 2011, nos. 100 to 97: four from Eurobeat Brony

I'm currently away at UK PonyCon, so this is a scheduled post.

Earlier this month, I mentioned here that I felt like doing a look at the songs that made the Everfree Radio Top 100 back in 2011. Although on many occasions I'll be sticking to just one song per post, I'm starting with a multipack. That's because entries 100 through 97 in the chart were all written by the same person. It's someone who remains well-known to this day and indeed performed at BronyCon 2018: Eurobeat Brony, aka Odyssey Eurobeat.

These are very early tracks, so there are a few rough edges that got smoothed off later on, as well as a slightly less impressive production quality overall. Nevertheless, the distinctive Eurobeat Brony sound is very much present and correct. Of the four, I think the "Winter Wrap Up" one may be my favourite, though it's impressive how a little ditty like "Evil Enchantress" can be remixed into a full song.

All four of these tracks can be found on the classic album Super Ponybeat Vol. 1, which was released on 26 March 2011 and remains available on a name-your-price basis on Odyssey's Bandcamp. (It's also cc-by 3.0 licensed, fact fans, so you can do pretty much what you like with it subject to appropriate attribution.) You will probably not be surprised to learn that we shall be encountering this musician again during the course of this countdown feature!

Not for a little while yet, though. Next time on Sounds of 2011, I'll be looking at... well, actually it's another remix. But it's by a different artist!

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Text Review Roundup: "Father Knows Beast"

This will be the final post made while I'm actually here, before I leave for UK PonyCon tomorrow morning. I've decided to fill the gap by beginning my "Sounds of 2011" series looking at the songs that made the Everfree Radio Top 100 that year. As such, there'll be a couple of scheduled posts while I'm away. I'm not sure when I'll be back to regular posting, but we'll see. Right now, though, it's time for TRR.

"Father Knows Beast" got a pretty positive reception from the text-based reviewers. It's hard to tell with JDPrime, who seems to have a games magazine approach to review scores, but with one exception the others were all at least broadly positive about the episode. The outlier was DrakeyC, who absolutely hated it.

Cuddlepug – mostly positive (graded B+; "we are left wondering who Spike's real parents are and why his egg was abandoned [but the ep is] a success on the whole [...] positive message this creates about the adaptable nature of family")

Derpy News – positive (graded A-; "a much better episode than “Dragon Quest” and one of the main reasons is Smolder")

The Dragon Warlock – generally positive (graded B; "a good premise [...] Sludge [...] is an enjoyable villain [but] I think we all deserve a proper explanation about why Spike ended up in Equestria")

DrakeyC – extremely negative ("THAT line left me fuming with rage [...] this is a shitty episode [...] a repeat of Dragon Quest where the villain is slimier, the heroes dumber, and the pathos recycled")

JDPrime22 – mixed (rated 8/10; " So much potential for this episode... and it was kind of wasted... but then again... not really.")

Lightening McQueen – very positive ("it may be kind of similar to Dragon Quest, but I still liked it [...] Smolder was also great in this episode")

Louder Yay – mildly positive (rated 3/5; "has Twilight really never thought to ask Celestia where [Spike's egg] came from? [Still,] Spike's interactions with Smolder were really good")

Mega Sean 45 – positive ("The episode I've been waiting for... or so I thought. [...] Smolder [...] was amazing [but] this episode just followed the same moral as Dragon Quest")

MLEEP Reviews – positive (rated 9/10; "the 'liar revealed' plotline [was] used again [but] there was so much new information about dragon culture and heart between the characters")

The Railfan Brony – broadly positive (rated Good; "a good, enjoyable episode in the end and the lesson Spike learned was a useful one for kids to learn [but] the series might be creatively stagnant")

ShutterflyEQD – positive ("It's safe to say that Sludge's moments were just more reasons to hate him. Even his song was not really anything too interesting. [However,] Smolder's pointers were perfect [and t]he Spike and Twilight moments were also very sweet and tender.")

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Ponyfic Roundup 222: The Hooded Fang

Read it Later story count: 298 (nc)

Thanks to one story I was going to review being deleted before I got here, together with me being pretty much out of commission for a couple of days with a horrible cold, I have only four fics on the reviewing table today rather than the five I was hoping for. Oh well, still better than some weeks of PR! Without further ado, here's today's quartet:

Chuckling Over my Cheery-O's by chrumsum
I Didn't Sign Up For This by Cillerenda
The Royal Proposal by Everyday
Dance by Martian

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

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Episode review: S8E24: "Father Knows Beast"

Happy Twilight with Spike and  unsure-looking Sludge in a castle room containing many books
"Books! The answer is always books! Spike's real dad? A book!"
I have a rather nasty cold at the moment, so this is going to be another of my rather short reviews. Oh well, better to have the cold now than during a convention weekend. Maybe it's a sort of pre-emptive con crud! Back on-topic, the last Josh Haber episode was the fantastically fun "On the Road to Friendship", so I was hoping for something of a similar standard from "Father Knows Beast". In the event...

Sunday, 7 October 2018

Episode review will be on Tuesday this coming week

I've been out for most of the weekend and I'm very tired, so my review of episode 24 has been pushed back a day and will now appear on Tuesday. Thanks to UK PonyCon being next weekend, the S8 finale review will also be a bit late, though right now I'm not going to commit to a specific date.

Hiatus plans: Back to 2011!

I've been wondering what to do on this blog during the S8/S9 hiatus, and I think I have the answer. A while back, somewhere in the dark and nasty regions where nobody goes – ie DeviantArt – I discovered a zip archive containing all the tracks that made Everfree Radio's Top 100 for that year. I wish I could remember exactly where on DeviantArt I found it, but oh well.

Anyway, I plan to count down from 100 to 1 on that and write a little something about each track. And, when I can, point to where you can get them.* That might be tricky in some cases: while some of the songs are classics to this day (for example, "Nightmare Night" and "Flutterwonder"), others have been hit hard by the ravages of time and are now very hard or impossible to find online.

Still, that will make it a fun adventure! (At least, I hope so.) I'll continue with this blog's usual ramblings as well, so consider this countdown something to fill in the gaps on days when I'm not posting Ponyfic Roundup or the like. Since I wasn't in the fandom until 2012, I'm really looking forward to discovering some of the music that was popular before my time!

* Note: I won't be uploading anything myself. If they really have disappeared entirely from the web, then I'll respect their creators' wishes.

Saturday, 6 October 2018

UK PonyCon questionnaire thingy, 2018 edition!

I did one of these last year, so I thought I might as well do one again. I've made one or two slight tweaks, but the basic format is very similar. So...

What do I call you? Logan. Everyone else does. I mean, I don't mind the full "Loganberry", but Logan is the easiest option all round.

What will you look like? Even older than I did last year. :D I'll have a pony shirt of some description, probably Fluttershy on Saturday morning. I always wear glasses. I never wear jeans. For some ludicrous reason I bought a VIP ticket this year, so inside the con venue I'll have a VIP lanyard.

Who will you be with? A bunch of like-minded silly pony people. Some of whom will have plushies, in all probability. Other than that, whoever can stand me!

What will you be doing? Ponying. But specifically: there'll be music involved somewhere, whether karaoke or Crystal Ball or both. I'd like to do at least a little non-G4 stuff. Naturally I'll be attending the Charity Auction. I don't play the CCG, so I won't be doing that.

Can I talk to you? Of course you can! I mean, don't go on about exactly the same thing every time you speak to me and please don't fill up my precious pony weekend with hours of chat about non-pony stuff. I like cricket and trains and weather and so on, but for the most part those subjects can wait. But otherwise, by all means say hi!

What can I talk to you about? I'm not desperately fussy, and I'm happy to talk both FiM and EqG stuff, or even other gens to the limited extent I know them – but I would be delighted if anyone wanted to talk ponyfic. It's my favourite part of the creative fandom, so if you get me started on the subject, you may have trouble stopping me!

Can I take your photo? Not sure why you'd want to given that I don't cosplay. But as long as you ask first, I'm unlikely to object. If you've taken a photo/video and I'm in it only incidentally (eg in the audience) then there's no need to ask. If you take a video of me doing karaoke, though, please let me see a copy afterwards!

Can I hug you? If you really want to, then I don't see why not. Please do ask first, though, in case I'm carrying something breakable.

Can I buy you food or drink? If you must! I really don't expect anyone to buy me muffins or cider, though.

How long are you staying? Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, so the whole convention with a little bit either side.

Where are you staying? Travelodge Nottingham Central. Convenient and fairly cheap.

How are you travelling? By train, on Friday. I'll wear the UKPC 2017 T-shirt on the journey, so feel free to say hello if you see me around – I'll be at Birmingham New Street station at lunchtime, and I aim to reach Nottingham a little after 3pm.

Favourite characters? Fluttershy, Scootaloo, Celestia, Silverstream, Starlight, Derpy.

Anything else I should know? Yes. If you find out what it is, please tell me.

Friday, 5 October 2018

Them's Writin' Words

A few months ago, Scribbler uploaded the first edition of a new podcast, Them's Writin' Words, to her YouTube channel. In this, she was joined by Goombasa, Neighrator Pony, Thornquill and Luna Farrowes to discuss billymorph's fic A World Without Kindness. They went into a lot of detail, enough that this 17k-word story was discussed for well over an hour – and, unlike in many long podcasts, this didn't mean 2% discussion and 98% pub banter. Also, because these are high quality readers, you can actually hear what they're saying.

I must admit that I didn't listen to the entire podcast: while I have read A World Without Kindness (PR 54), I neither loved it nor hated it enough to want to listen to over 100 minutes of discussion of it. However, earlier this month, Scribbler released episode 2 of the podcast, and I thought I'd listen to it right through. Same cast, but minus Luna Farrowes. The subject this time was TheGreyPotter's Body of Work, which I knew nothing about, so I wanted to see whether the podcast could hold my attention.

And yes. Yes, it could. It helped that the reviewers didn't all have the same opinion: Scribbler didn't really like it, and she wasn't shy about saying so. As I mentioned above, once again the banter didn't overwhelm the actual discussion. Nor was it full of swearing: unsurprisingly Scribbler's language in particular wasn't entirely TV-Y but it was hardly unreasonable for a podcast like this. I'm not sure I personally want to listen to an hour-plus of talk about a single story very often, but for those who do want that level of detail, I think the series could fill a niche nicely.

Thursday, 4 October 2018

Text Review Roundup: "Sounds of Silence"

Time for some kirin-tinged opinions of episode 23. This episode got a pretty good reception, though few reviewers got quite as obsessive about the kirin as Seth over on Equestria Daily. (If anyone ever creates a kirin/batpony hybrid, I fear he may actually explode.) Cuddlepug is back this week, and there's a clear split this time between reviewers who loved the ep and those who were underwhelmed. Nobody hated it, at least.

Cuddlepug – very positive (graded A; "a fantastic return to form in terms of providing audiences with an episode that puts the 'magic' back [...] a triumphant episode that oozes with charm")

Derpy News – extremely positive (graded A+; "The show went back to some of the basics with this episode and it paid off magnificently [...] a great lesson")

The Dragon Warlock – mixed (graded C; "I do love the world building, the song is great, and Autumn Blaze is a good new character, but the pacing, characterization issues (mostly Fluttershy), and the weak story [drag it down]")

DrakeyC – mixed ("Autumn Blaze is a great character [but] I knew this was a celebrity guest voice [...] The concept of the Kirin was very creative and interesting, and the Kirin had great designs. But the execution was lacking.")

JDPrime22 – very positive (rated 9/10; "just a fun ol' episode. The song, especially, is one of the best of the season.")

Lightening McQueen – very positive ("Autumn Blaze [was] such an amazing character; Rachel Bloom is just perfect for her voice")

Louder Yay – very positive (rated 4/5; "[Autumn Blaze] was a fun character [and though it felt] more like an AJ-with-Flutters episode than a true double act [...] snappy dialogue [meant it] continued late S8's strong run of episodes.")

Mega Sean 45 – positive ("We have a new writer here, and he's already nailing this! [... The kirin] were cute [but] that old man with the end of the line part [...] wasn't even that funny.")

MLEEP Reviews – generally positive (rated 8/10; "despite having a weak story, 'Sounds Of Silence' [was a] pretty decent episode full of beautiful animation and plenty of laughs")

The Railfan Brony – mixed (rated Okay; "Autumn Blaze was... fine, I suppose [...] the plot is very thin on the ground [though] the characters and theme do their best to make up for that")

ShutterflyEQD – positive ("These friendship quests are moderately predictable [but the silent kirin were] very adorable[, and Autumn Blaze's design is] just over the top beautiful)

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Ponyfic Roundup 221: The Trail of the Lonesome Pone

Title explanation: 1913 song, later featured by Laurel & Hardy in Way Out West

Read it Later story count: 298 (nc)

The previous prohibition on using [Adventure] and [Slice of Life] genre tags on the same story doesn't seem to be coming back. Good. It was pretty pointless. The first fic today is by an author who would have qualified for my planned Newcomers Edition, but I simply didn't want to wait that long to read their fic. Let's see whether that decision paid off, and indeed what I thought of this week's other stories. Today's slate is:

My Little Student by Lets Do This
...But the Kitchen Sink by Dubs Rewatcher
One Head of Cattle by Trick Question
The Jet Powered Pegasus by billymorph

★: 0 | ★★: 0 | ★★★: 3 | ★★★★: 1 | ★★★★★: 0

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Thoughts on "Friendship was magic", Dubs Rewatcher's Polygon article

I read "Friendship was magic: How bronies are preparing for the end of My Little Pony" a few weeks ago, and I remember remarking at the time how favourably impressed I was by the article's approach, especially given it was published in a non-fandom source. (Okay, it was Polygon, a gaming and entertainment site, not a mainstream newspaper, but nevertheless.) We even got an interview with a ponyfic author in Bookplayer, a rare thing even in good articles about our fandom.

Being behind the curve as usual, I've only now discovered the reason for the article's author coming across as so well-informed: because he was. The writer used his real name on Polygon, but it was in fact long-time fandom member and ponyfic person Dubs Rewatcher. (One of whose old fics I'll be reviewing tomorrow, plug plug!) Given he's been on Fimfiction since August 2011, and given I don't think he was new to the fandom then, I think it's fair to say he's been around a bit. Since this is a fandom blog, I'll use his fandom name here.

As for the article itself: it's generally a very good one. It's fair and balanced, for one thing. (Yes, I know that phrase is loaded, but I mean it here.) It doesn't deny reality and pretend that the fandom is as big now as it was in 2013, but nor does it take an apocalyptic view and opine that the moment the show ends the fandom will too. It also has one of the more clear-eyed brief takes on clop I've seen, though understandably Dubs chooses not to mention that term.

There's a very interesting section later in the article in which Dubs points out the vast number of people who've used skills they've picked up in the MLP fandom to help them in later real-world endeavours. There's inevitably a slightly bittersweet tinge here, since most of us know favourite writers, musicians, artists or voice actors who have moved on and are no longer active. Some have severed all contact with the fandom, some still embrace their brony history.

My one disappointment with the article is its insularity: a reader unfamiliar with bronies could get the impression that BronyCon was the fandom and that there were no other MLP conventions worthy of the name, nor even fandom life outside the US. Perhaps the fact that Dubs is American and researched his piece at BronyCon makes this tricky to avoid, but it is something that irritated me as a British brony. The end of the show will be as huge a deal for us over here as it will be for American fans. The end of BronyCon, perhaps a little less so.

Despite that niggle, I would urge anyone who hasn't read "Friendship was Magic" to do so. It's a good read and, while it probably won't tell an active fan much they didn't already know, it's nice to find non-fandom platforms still taking some interest in us in 2018 – even if it is from a "waiting for the end" perspective. Still, I don't intend to mope, and while there's life there's hope. Besides, I have a Pony convention to prepare for!

Monday, 1 October 2018

Episode review: S8E23: "Sounds of Silence"

Autumn Blaze speaking from a rostrum, with a Citizen Kane-style poster behind
Doesn't this imply Autumn Blaze owns the newspapers she's pushing in the same sequence?
Getting close to the end of the season now, at least for the minority of the fandom that hasn't binged the whole lot already. Just two regular episodes left before the finale, and this one had a new writer: Gregory Bonsignore, about whom I knew nothing. (He has a Wikipedia page, though.) There were a couple of things about this that I'd already seen and was looking forward to, so – to use a rejected Darkwing Duck catchphrase – let's get spoilery!

Sunday, 30 September 2018

Rating Graph

I recently discovered the Rating Graph website, which pulls TV and movie ratings from... somewhere (more on that in a minute) and turns them into an easy-to-read graph, including lines of best fit for each season where applicable. This lets you see which episodes of a series are the most and least popular, whether individual seasons gained or lost in popularity as they went on, and so on. It's interesting stuff.

Now, I'm going to put a page break here. While I won't be saying anything directly about the S8 episodes I have still to review, I will be touching on how they were received. If that's too spoilery for you, then you might not want to read any further until you've seen the whole season. For the rest of you, keep reading!

Thursday, 27 September 2018

UK PonyCon tips: Travelodge Nottingham Central

I've previously put up a few tips for people who (like me!) are staying at this hotel, but they were on the Travel & Accommodation section of the UK PonyCon forums, which is only visible to logged-in members. What follows after the page break is a slightly edited public version.

Text Review Roundup: "What Lies Beneath"

Yes folks, it's a fandom post that isn't about the EFNW statement! (Well, except for this bit. I feel that someone ill enough to be in hospital with "critical health complications" of diabetes is unlikely to be able to effectively discharge their duties in a senior role on the board overseeing a major convention. And if the con can't do without said someone, well, that's a problem in itself.)

Right, back to fun stuff! Cuddlepug seems still to be behind the curve, and unfortunately, since I'm on a schedule with these posts, I can't wait any longer for him to publish. A new (to TRR) person in the form of DrakeyC, though! I didn't notice them earlier as they reviewed on the faster schedule. As always, please let me know if you find a text-based reviewer out there, though they will need to have their stuff published by the Thursday after an episode goes out on DF.

This episode was universally enjoyed and widely loved by the reviewers. Nobody at all had a seriously bad word to say about it, and several considered it an all-time classic ep.

Derpy News – very positive (graded A; "a good episode to test the mettle of the Young Six adds some intrigue to the Tree of Harmony")

The Dragon Warlock – very positive (graded A-; "The writing and character development is superb. The few bits of comedy are entertaining. The story as a whole is executed well.")

DrakeyC – very positive ("Say hello to one of the best episodes of the season! [...] THIS IS THE EPISODE THE STUDENT SIX HAVE NEEDED ALL SEASON LONG! Character depth, development, bonding moments!")

JDPrime22 – extremely positive (rated 10/10; "I loved this episode! So much fun, so many great jokes, and great character interactions")

Lightening McQueen – positive ("[the students'] quest of finding each other and getting out of the secret cavern underneath the School of Friendship was awesome")

Louder Yay – very positive (rated 5/5 ("just"); "some of the tests seemed remarkably harsh. Gallus in particular [but] supremely watchable character stuff [and a s]trong message")

Mega Sean 45 – extremely positive ("amazing episode! Season 8 is just getting better and better!")

MLEEP Reviews – extremely positive (rated 10/10; "truly was everything that I hoped it would be")

The Railfan Brony – very positive (rated Excellent; "a great Young Six focused episode")

ShutterflyEQD – extremely positive ("It was so, SO exciting to get ourselves another full fledged student 6 episode, and we got to see a lot more epic feats between them!")

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Ponyfic Roundup 220: Now, Voyager

Title explanation: the Class 220 Voyager train

Read it Later story count: 298 (-8)

My RiL count is finally down below 300. It feels so good! Given that I haven't been reviewing as many stories as I'd like lately, you may correctly surmise that this means I've been weeding out some that no longer interest me as much as they did when I added them. Nothing much else to say in this section today, so let's get straight on to the reviewed fics. Four of them for your perusal this week, and they are:

Permission to Land by Flutterpriest
Comma Comma by Soufriere
Changeling by CCC
The Will of the Cosmos by Felixfloetryfox88

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

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

UK PonyCon 2018: some places to get food

UK PonyCon has now published the venue's catering arrangements for 2018. There aren't a lot of surprises in there, though "catering pod" sounds a little weird. Given this year's city centre location, it was always likely that the con venue itself would concentrate on quick bites, snacks and drinks, and indeed that is what has happened. Whether Nottingham Conference Centre has matched UWE's imagination last year in the cakes department remains to be seen!

Its provision does leave some gaps, especially as you can't take your own food or drink inside (plain water excepted). Most notably, it looks as though you'll need to leave the venue if you want a full-on hot meal, or food in the evening. Unsurprisingly, there are heaps of places to eat in a large city like Nottingham, so I won't even try to list all of them. Those who know Nottingham will doubtless know many other places, but I've generally stuck to chains as it's simpler if you're not familiar with the city.

I haven't made any attempt to include hotel restaurants, since some are only open to residents or have time restrictions. However, I do expect that quite a few people will eat breakfast at their hotels as the con venue won't be open until a bit late for that. Whether you choose to have it at your hotel or in town, I do strongly recommend that you eat a substantial breakfast if you can. Given the con's packed schedule, it may be tricky to find the time later, so getting a good meal under your belt early on makes sense.

Everywhere listed is under eight minutes' walk from the convention venue. I have generally listed only one outlet for each company. I've made exceptions for Wetherspoon, because it's inescapable; McDonald's, because it's a 24/7 option; and for Costa, because the first one listed is very close to the con venue but is small and has slightly restricted hours. Also, I know 25 Goldsmith St isn't actually the venue location, but just entering "Nottingham Conference Centre" returns the wrong side of the building. Click on an outlet name for a Google Map.

1. Coffee shops and quick bites

200 Degrees, Flying Horse Walk, NG1 2HN
Open 7:30am-8pm Fri, 8am-7pm Sat, 9:30am-6pm Sun, 7:30am-8pm Mon

Caffe Nero, Trinity Sq, NG1 2AS
Open 6:30am-7:30pm Fri/Sat, 7am-7:30pm Sun, 6:30am-7:30pm Mon

Costa (1), Goldsmith St, NG1 5JJ
Open 7am-6:30pm Fri, 8:30am-6pm Sat, 9am-5pm Sun, 7am-6:30pm Mon

Costa (2), Friar Lane, NG1 6BS
Open 6:30am-7:30pm Fri/Sat, 8am-6pm Sun, 6:30am-7:30pm Mon

Starbucks, Upper Parliament St, NG1 6LF
Open 6:30am-7:30pm Fri, 7:30am-7:30pm Sat, 9am-6pm Sun, 6:30am-7:30pm Mon

Subway, The Corner House, Forman St, NG1 4DB
Open 7am-4am Fri/Sat, 10am-midnight Sun, 7am-midnight Mon

2. Fast (and fastish) hot food

Bella Italia, Forman St, NG1 4DB
Open 9am-11pm Fri, 10am-11pm Sat, 10am-10:30pm Sun, 9am-11pm Mon

Burger King, Upper Parliament St, NG1 2AD
Open 11am-11pm daily

KFC, Milton St, NG1 3EN
Open 10am-midnight Fri/Sat, 10am-11pm Sun/Mon

McDonald's (1), Angel Row, NG1 6HL
Open 24/7

McDonald's (2), Clumber St, NG1 3ED
Open 24/7

Nando's, The Cornerhouse, Forman St, NG1 4DB
Open 11:30am-11pm Fri/Sat, 11:30am-10pm Sun/Mon

Pizza Express, King St, NG1 2AS
Open 11:30am-11pm daily

Pizza Hut, The Cornerhouse, Forman St, NG1 4DB
Open 11am-11pm Fri/Sat, midday-10pm Sun, 11am-10pm Mon

TGI Fridays, The Cornerhouse, Burton St [sic], NG1 4DB
Open 11:30am-11pm Fri/Sat, 10:30am-10:30pm Sun, 11:30am-10:30pm Mon

3. Pubs

The Gooseberry Bush, Peel St, NG1 4GL (Wetherspoon; website)
Open 8am-11pm daily

The Horn in Hand, Goldsmith St, NG1 5JT (website)
Open 11am-2am Fri/Sat, 11am-midnight Sun/Mon

The Joseph Else, South Parade, NG1 2JS (Wetherspoon; website)
Open 7am-midnight daily 

The Roebuck Inn, St James's St, NG1 6FH (Wetherspoon; website)
Open 8am-midnight daily

4. Convenience stores

Sainsbury's Local, Wheeler Gate, NG1 2NA
Open 7am-11pm daily

Tesco Express, Shakespeare St, NG1 4FQ
Open 7am-11pm daily

Little Waitrose, Milton St, NG1 4AR
Open 7am-10pm Fri/Sat, 11am-5pm Sun, 7am-10pm Mon

Monday, 24 September 2018

Episode review: S8E22: "What Lies Beneath"

Smolder wearing a light blue dress and red lipstick
That tiara... hmm. Smolder already has both horns and wings...
I'm now back from some quite stressful personal stuff (a family funeral) and I also spent a large chunk of yesterday out watching steam trains. As such, this review is being typed in late evening, so please excuse me if it's less coherent than usual. (How could anyone tell? —Ed.) "What Lies Beneath" was written by Michael Vogel, who rarely produces a poor episode and most recently gave us the interesting "The Mean 6". As for this instalment of the season...

Sunday, 23 September 2018

Pony Music Library 56: "Raise This Barn"

If real life hadn't overtaken me for a while, I'd been planning to make these PML posts a little bit more frequent. I didn't manage that, but I can at least put one up now. The Library isn't only for fan-made songs, and this week there's one of the best known of all tunes from the show.

What? "Raise This Barn"

Who? Daniel Ingram and Cindy Morrow

Which? Show song

When? December 2012

Why? Sometimes, like any other reviewer, I get things wrong. When I reviewed "Apple Family Reunion", an episode which I really didn't find very impressive, I said that "the song rather left me cold". Whoops! It certainly doesn't these days, as I now find it one of the catchiest and most all-round fun songs in the series' history. I did at least say that I thought it would be wonderful as an audience-participation convention number, and I can report that this is so. "Raise This Barn" is infectiously upbeat, its whirling Western rhythms almost forcing you to get up and dance. (I said almost!) Yes, we all know it sounds like "racist barn", but these days I don't think anyone really bothers too much about that old meme. The song itself, however, endures. This PML entry is my mea culpa for that review comment!

Friday, 21 September 2018

Text Review Roundup: "A Rockhoof and a Hard Place"

Note: due to the "Parental Glideance" continuity issue with "The Washouts", Derpy News has decided to downgrade that episode's rating from A- to B.

Right, back to this week's ep. For whatever reason, there's no review from Cuddlepug this week, something which is a rare event. Rainbine's DA account also seems to have disappeared, so I'm afraid the slate isn't very long this time. From those who did write reviews, the general reception was very positive, and I find myself one of the few text-based reviewers not blown away by the episode.

Derpy News – very positive (graded A; "as close as this show will get to hinting at suicide [...] in the top tier for this season")

The Dragon Warlock – extremely positive (graded A; "I can easily say this is the best episode of the season so far [...] a superb episode with a great moral [and] solid character development")

JDPrime22 – very positive (rated 9/10; "I really did enjoy [it and] Rockhoof became more of a character this time around")

Lightening McQueen – positive ("awesome to see an episode focused on one of the Pillars [...] the humour was also amusing")

Louder Yay – fairly positive (rated 3/5; "one of those episodes that flickers and sparks quite a bit, but never quite catches fire to burn with a steady flame")

Mega Sean 45 – very positive ("this gave [Rockhoof's] character so much development [and] Yona provided such compelling influence")

MLEEP Reviews – fairly positive (rated 7.5/10; "The friendship between Yona and Rockhoof [was great, but] the first half of the episode mostly relied on repetitive humor")

The Railfan Brony – very positive (rated Excellent; "It was great to expand more on Rockhoof's character, as well as Yona's, and the theme and story are brilliant.")

ShutterflyEQD – very positive ("a very relatable episode [...] really does teach important values")

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Ponyfic Roundup 219: Ludlow Sausage

Title explanation: much-missed discontinued flavour of Tyrrells Crisps

I discovered quite by chance today that Vimbert the Unimpressive has changed his username to "An Unimpressive". I've no idea why and it isn't any of my business anyway, but it did throw me briefly when I noticed the name while skimming the BMRL and wondered why someone I'd never heard of had been reviewed so often! Note that I don't usually go back and edit my reviews to use new usernames, as it's just too fiddly. I will do so if it's specifically requested by the author, however.

Read it Later story count: 306 (-9)

On a vaguely related note, you may occasionally notice that although I usually stick with canon names in my headers (so it's Minuette, not Colgate) I don't always follow either that or Fimfiction style. There's an example today: I'm sticking with "Vinyl Scratch" even though Fimfiction goes with Hasbro and uses "DJ P0N-3". Why? Because I think the official version looks dreadful. What more do you need?

Destination Unknown by Pale Horse
Foxtrot Uniform Charlie Kilo by A Hoof-ful of Dust
Twilight Sparkle Was Shot by Coyote de la Mancha

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

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

New(ish) to writing ponyfic and would like a review? Read on!

Note: this post is copied from the matching one on Fimfiction.

I was wondering recently what do to for a themed edition of Ponyfic Roundup, my weekly review blog. Having seen Pascoite's recent blog post about underappreciated newcomers, that gave me an idea. So, I'd like to do a blog featuring new(ish) writers, or at least those who first published fairly recently. Read on for what it's all about!

Which authors are eligible?
You simply need to fit at least one of these criteria:
  • Joined Fimfiction on or after 1 January 2017
  • Published your first fic on or after 1 January 2017
Which fics are eligible?
Your story must fit all of these criteria:
  • Maximum 20,000 words using the Fimfiction counter
  • Marked Complete
  • Not a crossover or sequel
  • No more than 999 views at time of submission
  • Published at least one week before time of submission
What about Mature fics?
Although I would prefer Everyone or Teen stories, M-rated fics are eligible, but I don't read many so probably won't pick more than one or two. Also:
  • No foalcon -- this is a hard red line
  • No extreme gore or squick -- this can be subjective, so feel free to ask if you're unsure!
  • I'm not interested in pure clop -- there needs to be some sort of story there too
What will the reviews be like?
One-para potted reviews with a star rating (one to five) at the end. See the non-Spotlight reviews under this tag on my blog to get the idea. Please bear in mind that I give out more ones than fives! I will always explain why I like or dislike a fic, and you are very welcome to engage with me about it in comments or by PM. Note that I will not do "Accepted" or "Rejected" stuff. I really don't like that, and it's not what these reviews are about. The reviews will probably appear towards the end of 2018 or early in 2019.

Sounds fun! How do I submit?
Either leave a comment or PM me [on Fimfiction] with the story you'd like reviewed! If you're submitting an M-rated fic, Fimfiction rules mean you can't link to it directly there, but you can embed.

Small print
Only one story per author, please. If I get a large number of fics submitted, I may not be able to review them all. I will choose all but a couple of the stories myself, but the last two will be chosen randomly, to give people who write genres/characters I don't normally go for a chance. Pegasi can go down as well as up. Your village is at risk if you do not keep up repayments on your Elements. Subject to status.

Monday, 17 September 2018

Episode review: S8E21: "A Rockhoof and a Hard Place"

"And polish up the handle of the big front door!"
There are just a few episodes left now until we reach the end of Season 8, at least for those sticking to the weekly schedule. It's certainly been an interesting ride, and I'll try to make the time to do an end-of-season roundup (possibly in audio as well) sometime this autumn. This episode was written by Kaita Mpambara, who acquitted himself quite well on his debut with "Horse Play". How would this tale of a Pillar fare?

Saturday, 15 September 2018

Text Review Roundup: "The Washouts"

I'd better squeeze in this TRR before episode 21 goes out on DF. No Dark Qiviut this week, but that's balanced bv the return of ShutterflyEQD. I've also found a new (to me) reviewer: Lightening McQueen. Be careful if you read their review, as their thoughts on all S8 episodes, right up to the finale, are on the same page. This episode's reception was generally positive, though this week I'm one of the more impressed by the ep!

Cuddlepug – mixed (graded C+; "a competent episode")

Derpy News – positive (graded A-; "Scootaloo’s following of a pony other than Dash also calls attention to Dash’s own insecurities [...] a good episode with a good lesson") Subsequently downgraded to B due to the "Parental Glideance" continuity fumble.

The Dragon Warlock – positive (graded B+; "another great entry to this season, and another superb Rainbow and Scootaloo episode [though it] does suffer some characterization issues")

JDPrime22 – very positive (rated 9/10; "The comedy was fantastic, the moral just as good, and I appreciate the fact that Scootaloo admitted that she couldn’t fly.")

Lightening McQueen – broadly positive ("cool and intense [...] very puzzling [given "Parental Glideance"] that Scootaloo didn't know that Rainbow Dash and Lightning Dust know each other [...] much good humour [...] Rolling Thunder and Short Fuse were also nice")

Louder Yay – very positive (rated 4/5; "a generally very satisfying look at a slightly older Scootaloo [but] Twi should have stepped in [at the end]")

Mega Sean 45 – very positive ("This episode was just as cool as I thought it would be! [...] a great way for LD [to] return [but] one retcon to Parental Glideance")

MLEEP Reviews – positive (rated 8/10; "even though the moral is total bull-crap, it didn't wash away everything else of what was great about 'The Washouts' from the beautiful and epic animation to the highly anticipated return of [Lightning Dust]")

The Railfan Brony – mixed (rated Okay (just barely); "on one hand, there's a solid theme about bad influences [...] but on the other, Rainbow Dash's character is inconsistent at points and the message about eavesdropping was really bad")

Rainbine – generally positive (rated 4/5; "highlighted the best qualities of Rainbow Dash [and I was] entertained throughout [but] Lightning Dust is awful [and Spitfire's cameo] felt kind of forced")

ShutterflyEQD – positive ("great to finally see Lightning Dust once again [...] Scootaloo was still great [...] left us entertained the whole way through")

Friday, 14 September 2018

Episode review: S8E20: "The Washouts"

Short Fuse, a short, red stallion wearing a flight suit, getting angry at the state of his sandwich
"What do you mean, bacon?"
Apologies for the delay in getting to this episode review. I hope to get the Text Review Roundup posted tomorrow, then I should be more or less back on the normal schedule next week. Anyway, "The Washouts" was an episode I'd been looking forward to, as it promised to be one about the relationship between unofficially-adoptive-sisters Rainbow Dash and Scootaloo. Nick Confalone had one okay-I-sippose episode this season ("The Maud Couple") and one very entertaining one ("The Break Up Breakdown") – which category would "The Washouts" fall into?

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Ponyfic Roundup 218: Spotlight on Carousel

I don't read very many [Horror]-tagged fics at all, and probably most of those I have read have been by Horse Voice. This time, I'm reading a story with that tag that isn't by him! Carousel was recommended to me by more than one person, so it seemed an interesting choice for one of my occasional longer reads. And it was...

Read it Later story count: 315 (+3)

Carousel by Thornquill
Dark/Drama/Horror; 70k words; Mar–May 2016; Teen
There is a part of Ponyville’s past its citizens forgot, a part that was left to rot... until Rarity encounters a dark power in Old Town Hall.
Set several years before the show begins, this fic follows a newly-independent Rarity as she sets up what will eventually become the Carousel Boutique. Unfortunately for her, the building – or something or someone in it – doesn't seem to want her to succeed. This leads to some very tense and sometimes truly scary scenes, as well as one with a more domestic angle that's utterly horrific. The best thing this fic does is to be frightening without the need to resort to blood and guts. As the long description makes plain, this is a slow-burning horror, so you should expect plenty of slice-of-life stuff, including Rarity's relations with several of the future Mane Six. Some interesting ideas about magic, too. The ending is a bit of an anticlimax, and there are one or two slightly forced links with canon. Still, the heart of the fic is so good that it outweighs these concerns. A strong four. ★★★★

A bit more on Carousel, including major spoilers, follows the page break.

Monday, 10 September 2018

Blog schedule for this week

Although I have seen episode 20, I haven't had enough time to watch it again, something I always like to do before writing a review. As such, that will be delayed slightly until later this week, probably Thursday or Friday. Before that, there'll be Ponyfic Roundup as usual on Wednesday (a Spotlight edition this time) and anything else quick that comes to mind.

I have now seen the S8 finale, and I'll have quite a bit to say about that when the time comes. However, in deference to those who are watching on the Discovery Family schedule, I won't be talking about it until mid-October, at least not unless I've placed a clearly-marked spoiler warning and put the spoilery stuff after a page break. Suffice to say now that I'm in the camp that liked it.

Sunday, 9 September 2018

UK PonyCon events schedule is out!

This actually happened late on Friday night – here's the schedule. By UK PonyCon standards, this is a very busy timetable, and certainly well up on last year's already good selection. I suppose that goes with the con being the largest ever, and with that allowing more capacity to add stuff. The full listings for each event always get added later on, so the lack of detail here isn't just an oversight. As with various other things, it's simply the UKPC Way.

The sharp-eyed will have noticed EileMonty's name on the schedule. She's down as giving a panel on Sunday morning, but given the existence of a four-hour Crystal Ball on Saturday night (crystal is the con's 2018 theme) you can't help but wonder... if she does perform, I wonder what she'll do? I'm sure her set will have changed a bit from what it was five years ago when she appeared at BUCK 2013, but she's so good that I'd imagine she'd draw a crowd whatever she chose.

Whether it will include me is another matter! The snag is that part of the concert clashes with the Pub Quiz, and that quiz is a fantastically enjoyable highlight of the convention for me. If EileMonty were to be on stage during that hour, I would probably have the most difficult scheduling decision I've ever faced at a Pony convention. I'm really hoping we'll get an order of performance before the actual con, so that I can make up my mind as to what I'll do.

Away from that, and from the stalwarts like the Charity Auction and Cosplay Contest, UKPC this year has some fascinating-looking events and panels. A couple that really catch my eye are "MLP on YouTube" on Saturday and "MLP The Movie: Its Place in Literary History" on Sunday. The screening of the 1986 movie is appealing, too. Smoooooze! I might not get to Rainbow Dash Attack this year, but I will sing. Whether karaoke or impromptu, it will happen!

The con is now only five weeks away, and it's starting to feel close in a way it hasn't done up to this point. Even though I have my ticket and hotel safely booked, and train tickets can wait a fair while longer, I'm just beginning to do some real planning as regards what to take, how to get to and from the venue each day, where to eat, etc. Cons being what they are, though, I'm sure some of my plans will change wildly during the weekend itself!

Friday, 7 September 2018

Where should a new ponyfic reader start?

There are still new people coming into the My Little Pony fandom, if in smaller numbers than there once were. Some of these are interested in fanfiction, or at least become so. The tricky bit these days is likely to be deciding what to read first. There are a small number of stories that everyone will have mentioned to them – Fallout: Equestria, Past Sins, My Little Dashie, Cupcakes – but they're not necessarily the best places to start, for reasons of length, quality or whatever.

This is the thing that occurred to me a day or two ago: what would you recommend as a first reading list for someone new to the ponyfic side of the fandom? Let's assume that they are familiar with the show itself, but not with anything else. Let's further assume that they're reasonably genre- and character-agnostic, but that they don't want crossovers and don't want clop. What do you think would make a good sampler for such a reader?

Thursday, 6 September 2018

Text Review Roundup: "On the Road to Friendship"

It's nice to see that there are still people coming into this fandom. Not as many as there once were, to be sure, but I still see "Hi, I'm a new brony" around the place from time to time. Occasionally I even find one of them reading something I wrote, which is particularly satisfying. This experience made me think about something, but you'll have to wait a day or two longer to find out what it is!

As far as TRR goes, "On the Road to Friendship" was very well received. It came oh-so-close to having a 100% positive reception from our text-based reviewers, but Rainbine departed from the consensus and was not impressed. On the whole, however, Josh Haber seems to have come up with a winner here.

Cuddlepug – very positive (graded A-; "a sharp episode sandwiched between a cool road trip theme and a high-octane relationship drama – with a hefty slice of a decent song comprising thecreamy filling")

Dark Qiviut – extremely positive ("magnificent chemistry [...] incredibly tight dialogue [...] the season's best song [...] one of the best [episodes] of not just the season, but the show")

Derpy News – very positive (graded A-; "a brilliant ode to the Road Trip movies of Bing Crosby and Bob Hope")

The Dragon Warlock – positive (graded B+; "song is very catchy [...] character development for Trixie [...] some plot holes, some stuff left unexplained, and Starlight's behavior in the end [but] arguably the best episode involving the Starlight and Trixie team up")

JDPrime22 – very positive (rated 9/10; "The song was fantastic, the jokes spot on, and the message was really nice too.")

Louder Yay – very positive (rated 4/5; "in the "superior filler" category, with nothing terribly deep or (probably) important for the upcoming finale, but a whole heap of entertainment")

Mega Sean 45 – very positive ("fun episode! Loved the song! And I learned a friendship lesson about travelling with friends!")

MLEEP Reviews – extremely positive (rated 10/10; "these two were made to be best friends [...] best [song] of Season 8 [...] a smooth ride with plenty of entertaining tricks up its sleeves and no bumps")

The Railfan Brony – positive (rated Good; "the phrase "Great and Powerful" got old really quick [but nevertheless] this is Trixie's best episode")

Rainbine – negative (rated 2/5; "The song in the episode was catchy [but] I need to know who thought it was a good idea to make Starlight so unlikable in this episode by trading off Trixie's home [...] a huge disappointment")

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Ponyfic Roundup 217: It Might as Well Rain Until September

Title explanation: 1962 Carole King song

Read it Later story count: 312 (-11)

I've actually managed to squeeze in some fic-reading that goes beyond three stories this week. Don't get too used to this, as it's not likely to happen every time, much as I'd like it to. I mean, I'll try, but every time I think I'm back on an even keel something comes along to capsize me once again. Still, for this PR the stories under the (rather blurry) microscope are:

No Tame Forest by PhantomFox
Bon Bon Bon Bon Bon Bon by shortskirtsandexplosions
The Brief Reign of Princess Twily by Forthwith
Zipporwhill's Secret by Alaborn
Fluttershy's Tail by Alexstrazsa

★: 0 | ★★: 2 | ★★★: 3 | ★★★★: 0 | ★★★★★: 0

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Episode review: S8E19: "On the Road to Friendship"

Starlight, wearing a red robe, confronts a crying Trixie in front of their wagon
"No, Trixie, I'm sorry. That jackalope costume just doesn't work."
Here we are again, back with the episode reviews after the "Yakity-Sax" break. To remind you: I reviewed that ep back when DF first showed it. This time we're back with E19, which brought the popular (with most) modern team of Starlight and Trixie back together. The episode was written by show stalwart Josh Haber, whose previous effort this season was the pretty darn good "Molt Down". Could he bring us another 22 minutes of fun?

Monday, 3 September 2018

Flashfic 150's September (not-actually-a-)contest is now live

All things being well, I'll have my review of S8E19 up tomorrow. I've actually now seen up to episode 23 inclusive, but I'm going to stick to my weekly review schedule to stop things getting too hectic for me to cope with.

I keep forgetting to plug these things, so here we go: Flashfic 150 is a monthly contest, run by yours truly, in which you get a prompt and have three weeks (ish) to write a brief story inspired by it. The catch is that you have a maximum of 150 words to do so. There are a few other rules, notably no M-rated fics and no crossovers, but otherwise you get fairly wide discretion as to how you go about things. I judge this, which adds another dimension of unspeakable terror.

There's no actual prize for Flashfic 150, beyond the winner getting to choose the next prompt, largely because I don't want there to be a prize. It's not supposed to be that kind of contest, but rather a bit of fun. You probably will get some feedback, though how much tends to vary quite a bit from month to month. Everyone with a Fimfiction account can enter – you just need to join the Flashfic group and you're good to go.

The prompt for September is "Birthday Magic", and you can find the contest thread right here. If you want to give it a go, you'd be very welcome!

Saturday, 1 September 2018

UK PonyCon sells out again

For the fourth year in succession, UK PonyCon sold out yesterday. Despite its largest ever attendance (1,000) the convention has once again reached its limit in August (just) – not bad for a con that doesn't actually take place until the middle of October! Thanks to my various personal situations, I'm still not sure of being able to make it, but I have my ticket and hotel sorted out so if things go as I hope then I will be there for the whole weekend.

I was reminded last night that this way of doing things, with attendance limits and no walk-up sales, is strange and unfamiliar to American fans. I assure you that it's completely standard practice over here – we just don't have the locations or finances to allow the hiring of venues much larger than this one. Yes, BUCK managed it, but BUCK had a huge budget by comparison – well into six figures (pounds), which is absolutely not the norm for British MLP conventions.

What's particularly pleasing for me is that every year since I first attended UKPC (2014) the con has grown larger. It's now nearly three times the size it was at that point, and there seems little sign as yet of the British fandom rolling over and dying. True, UK PonyCon has the slight cushion of having been a multi-generation event from the very start,* but G4 fans are by far the largest segment. We're most definitely not finished yet!

* Late 2004. It's the oldest MLP con in Europe, and second globally only to the My Little Pony Fair.

Friday, 31 August 2018

New story by me: Custard Repeatedly Teleports into Starlight

Custard Repeatedly Teleports into Starlight by Loganberry
Starlight Glimmer, Twilight, Spike and OC
Comedy/Random/Slice of Life; 1k words; Aug 2018; Teen
Starlight's magic is growing stronger. So is her attraction to custard.
Starlight Glimmer's teleportation skills have improved to the extent that she can now travel around Equestria without landing in somepony's dessert. Unfortunately, her determination never to face such a fate again, combined with her predilection for using magic as the solution to pretty much any problem, means she's now lying in acute discomfort in Twilight's castle.

This is a Custardverse story, a sequel to the equally ridiculous Starlight Repeatedly Teleports into Custard from 2016. It only barely passes a thousand words, and it's no great work of literature. However, it is the first time I've been able to slap a "Complete" tag on anything at all since The Book of Ended Lives in February 2017, and for that reason alone I'm immensely relieved to have got it written. TBoEL is the better story by a very substantial margin, but that isn't the point here.

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Ponyfic Roundup 216: Cleeton St Mary

Title explanation: Shropshire village

No episode review this week, since Discovery Family is just re-running "Yakity-Sax", which I've already seen. You can see my thoughts about that episode over here. I'll be reviewing "On the Road to Friendship" next week.

Read it Later story count: 323 (+2)

Another very busy week for me has meant a mere three fics reviewed once again. As has been the case for a long time now, I do want to get back to the point at which five stories is the minimum you can expect. That's not likely to happen until well into the autumn, though. Today's trio are:

Endless Gifts by Jenova2
Falling Leaves of Oak by Georg
Slipping Through My Hooves by Awesomo3000

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

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Fanfic Reading: We Who with Songs Beguile

 ( Text link )

I felt it was about time I did another fanfic reading – so here one is! This is a story I've always been rather pleased with, especially given how it fits with some pretty tiny pieces of canon, and I have happy memories of it from the EqD Outside Insight contest all those years ago. (Not only did it make the final, but Inquisitor M gave it quite a nice review.) However, I did want to give a better idea of how Mazarine sounded in my head, and what better way than actually reading the fic aloud? Note that the story is set in the second half of Season 3, so Twilight is not an alicorn at this point.

OC, Fluttershy and Rarity
Comedy/Slice of Life; 3k words; Aug 2014; Teen
Fluttershy's songbird choir is renowned throughout Equestria, in demand by ponies everywhere. Looked at from the other side of the perch, though, it's not always the life it's cracked up to be. If you want to hear the real story, straight from the bird's beak, Mazarine is your jay. Though you may have to set aside most of an afternoon...

Monday, 27 August 2018

The BronyCon Bookstore and selling fanfic

An interesting initiative here: Aquaman is proposing a bookshop at the final BronyCon next year. This means an actual, physical place selling actual, physical books. I have no idea whether it will work out, but the comments contain an impressive number of high-powered ponyfic people, so it seems to have a fair chance. If you want to know all the ins and outs and whys and wherefores, read the Aquaman blog I linked to. It's long, but it's readable enough for that not to be a big problem.

This really underlines how much of a gulf there is between drawing and writing in terms of artists/authors selling their stuff. There are probably thousands of visual artists who at least make the occasional few quid through PayPal. The number of writers who do the same is tiny, restricted to a few good enough to charge for commissions or editing work and an overlapping few good enough for it to be worth their making Lulu (or whatever) editions.

Now, if this BronyCon Bookstore idea ends up bringing a gigantic C&D down on Fimfiction, it will go down as one of the fandom's legendary self-inflicted disasters. Some people might now be jaded or cynical enough not to care, but many, many more still do. But it won't. As pointed out in the blog, if that was going to happen it would have done so long since, and I'd add especially given some of the things that Fimfiction allows in stories hosted there. So I wish it all the best.

For what it's worth, I have no problem at all with ponyfic authors selling books of their work. Given that I have a folder full of fan art purchased at conventions, plus several non-licensed plushies, I'd be a hypocrite if I said anything else. It's never been relevant to me: even if I were good enough, I wouldn't do it myself, as I don't want to make any money from my ponyfic – I decided way back in 2012 that I would opt out of any AdSense-type programmes Fimfiction might introduce in the future. But if others do, then in a world of paid-for fan art and plushies I don't see why not.

On a slightly wider topic, here's a paraphrased comment I saw very recently, making a suggestion as to an additional reason why fanfic doesn't generally sell: "Fan art prints are generally cheaper than non-fandom art prints. Fan books are generally more expensive than non-fandom books." There are exceptions to all of those, but I thought it was quite perceptive: here in the UK, you wouldn't expect a good-quality paperback novel to cost more than £10. A ponyfic self-print will, so it's more of a luxury investment, whereas a fan art print at a fiver is not.

Friday, 24 August 2018

Text Review Roundup: "The End in Friend"

Honestly, folks, this isn't only a review blog – but the way things have been going recently, it's only the reviews I've had time to write! I do actually want to write some posts that aren't reviews in due course. I just don't know when I'll get the time to do so. (The same applies for some mini-reviews of actual, physical products I have lying around.)

Dark Qiviut did a blog post for this one, so they're back on the list this week. Yay! Also, why is the Derpy News website so slow on initial loading? It's fine once you're flicking between pages within the site, but the initial getting there is treacly.

"The End in Friend" got a very mixed reaction, though there were few reviewers who either adored or detested it. I find myself at the lower end of the scale again, which surprised me a bit.

Cuddlepug – positive (graded B; "More than many episodes in years, “The End in Friend” feels like a Season 1 episode – a quality that I appreciate")

Dark Qiviut – very positive ("This quest humbled [Dash and Rarity] without humiliating them [...] The moral taught (and how) is incredibly important.")

Derpy News – positive (graded B+; "could well have been a recycle of a Season One episode [...] but it’s saved by the fact that it is wrapped around teaching a lesson to the Young Six")

The Dragon Warlock – rather negative (graded C+; "At best, the episode is mediocre and watchable. At worst, it's just an insufferable bore.")

JDPrime22 – positive (rated 8/10; "The one where "Non-Compete Clause" was done right [...] Really good lesson [though didn't like] how childish Rarity and Rainbow were acting at the start")

Louder Yay – rather negative (rated 2/5; "a somewhat lacklustre episode that rather wasted its rare pairing and never felt truly convincing")

Mega Sean 45 – positive ("kinda similar to Non-Compete Clause, but it was much better executed!")

MLEEP Reviews – negative (rated 4/10; "continuity [and] lore [but the plot was] clich├ęd and recycled [...] nothing new or original")

The Railfan Brony – negative (rated Bad; "painfully mediocre all the way through")

Rainbine – slightly negative (rated 3/5; "Besides the counseling scene and the frog scene, the episode was a gigantic bore [...] It's not bad, but it's nothing special. It's something that can be forgotten very easily")

Thursday, 23 August 2018

Episode review: S8E17: "The End in Friend"

Rarity and Rainbow walk through a cavern filled with multicoloured gems
Gems have got a lot easier to find since S1!
My real-life concerns (to put it as vaguely as possible) continue and won't end for a while, so this is going to be a very short episode review. However, I prefer to do things this way than to wait until I'm back on an even keel – partly because I currently don't know when that will be. Anyway, "The End in Friend" was a G. M. (Gillian) Berrow episode, her first since the amusing "Grannies Gone Wild" 12 episodes ago. Past the break we go!

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Ponyfic Roundup 215: Blue Minty Gel

Title explanation: famous 1980s Colgate advert

Read it Later story count: 321 (+2)

I've had very little time to spend reading recently, but I did manage to squeeze in a bit of ponyfic on my phone. I couldn't make it up to five stories this time, but at least I got to read both the fics trailed last week, plus one other. Today we have:

Brotherly Bond by Crash Jet
Apple Knots by BlazzingInferno
Leave All The Lights On by FamousLastWords

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