Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Ponyfic Roundup 193: She's Got More Bottle than United Dairies

An apology first of all: I will not be reviewing horizon's Watch! Watch! as promised last week. At least, not yet. That's because I've since discovered that an epilogue will be added once the contest it was written for has finished. As long as that's not too long, I'll wait for that to happen before posting my review.

Read it Later story count: 345 (nc)

Because of that, as well as the fact that it keeps snowing in spite of being almost March, I only have three stories today. I hope that this doesn't presage a return to skinny PRs, but I'd better make no promises. Here's this week's little bunch:

Beautiful Rain by argonaut
Showdown at the Card Table by Bronyxy
Heart is Where the Home is by Skywriter

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

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Plugging Flashfic 150

Real Life refuses to let up, so I haven't got much to post right now. Therefore, I'll take the opportunity to plug my little monthly writing contest, Flashfic 150. As its name implies, this is an event which requires you to write (up to) 150 words inspired by a prompt selected by the previous month's winner. There are no prizes, a deliberate decision that I'd hold to even if I were rolling in bits, but you are likely to get a much better benefit, which is to get a little feedback on your piece from some of the others.

The "judging" consists of me deciding which entry I like best! In other words, pleasse don't go expecting Ms Harshwhinny levels of professionalism here. Not from me, at any rate – the actual submissions have contained some little gems. The next contest starts on 1st March and will use the prompt "What You Leave Behind", chosen by last month's winner Ceffyl Dwr. If you're interested in trying your hoof at this, head over to the forum on the Flashfic group and watch for the relevant thread to go up on Thursday. Thanks!

Friday, 23 February 2018

Special review: Equestria Girls "Forgotten Friendship"

Wallflower Blush looking discontent
"It's my green hair, isn't it? Come on, Rarity, admit it."
It's been a while since I've written a full-length review for anything Equestria Girls, but it's time to change all that. Nick Confalone's "Forgotten Friendship" special, the same length as a double episode of FiM, seemed worth writing something about. Unlike a lot of the fandom, I hadn't read the novelisation (which came out first, but was written after this). I had been spoiled on one or two details, however. After the cut, with spoilers aplenty, I'll say what I thought.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Ponyfic Roundup 192: Crimson Sun on Traffic Lights

I happened to be at the Reviewer's Cafe group page when it was open for submissions, so I chucked We Who with Songs Beguile in to see what would happen. It got rejected with a score of 5/10: "There’s nothing that sticks with you, nothing that makes you think, no new perspective on the world of My Little Pony. For those reasons, I am rejecting this fic." The story is supposed to meander, because that's what Mazarine does, but it is a bit of a one-trick pony: if his grumpiness and skewed perspective on ponykind don't grab the reader, not much else will. Ah well. Here's the full review.

Read it Later story count: 345 (-8)

My RiL list is under 350 stories for the first time in... a long time. Probably several years. Considering it made it up to 499 at one point, I'm quite pleased. I do get the occasional person asking me to review their fic, but not many; it's not just because there are better reviewers out there, but probably also because I don't review on Fimfiction itself. I don't mind, though, as "I might review your story, but it'd be in about 2021" might not go down too well. :P Also, six stories for review today!

Diary of a Pliant Tyrant by xjuggernaughtx
A Tail by MyNameHere
A Requiem for Lost Libraries by Mitch H
The Cadance Conundrum by Super Trampoline
The Cup Cake Killer by Saddlesoap Opera
The Very Literal Rise and Fall of Pinkie Pie by 4EverfreeBrony

★: 0 | ★★: 3 | ★★★: 1 | ★★★★: 2 | ★★★★★: 0

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

"Pony Girl" starring Fluttershy and Fluttershy

Tridashie's "Pony Girl" video has become a modern fandom classic, with over seven million views since it was released in April 2017. Now, Pinkie Rose has made a cover with the adorability factor taken up as high as it will go and then some. Rainbow Dash's role has been taken by Fluttershy, and Twilight's by... er... Fluttershy. It's a lot of fun, and with one exception ("'Shy" would have been better than "F. S.") the reworked lyrics are pretty decent as well. Give it a look!

And yes, I am posting this as my "Forgotten Friendship" review will be a few days yet. But what the hay!

Monday, 19 February 2018

Reading of The Book of Ended Lives by The Feral Brony

The Feral Brony (obligatory disclosure: a friend of mine) has been kind enough to record a reading of my story The Book of Ended Lives. Thankfully, his Applejack voice is a great deal less silly than mine, which contributes to his reading being much better than one by me would ever be. He also gives some of his thoughts about it after the reading, and these are quite embarrassingly positive. As many of you will know, this is my personal favourite of the ponyfics I've written, but not everyone likes it, so I'm glad that Feral does!

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Hype, hype, hype! S8 trailer out and S9 confirmed

Yes, I have seen the EqG special "Forgotten Friendship", and a review of that will be up in the near future. Back to FiM for today, though.

It's New York Toy Fair time, and as usual that means a flood of My Little Pony news from Hasbro. I'm not going to rehash everything that Equestria Daily has been posting, but as far as Friendship is Magic itself is concerned, there are two big things. The first is an official S8 trailer, and one that hasn't instantly been withdrawn like the last one was. ;) As the thumbnail isn't spoilery, it's embedded above – but the video itself is packed with spoilers, so be warned! They are not the same scenes we saw in that previous release; some stuff is brand new.

The second piece of news is that S9 has been confirmed! We don't know when it will be shown, how many episodes it will have, whether it will be the final season – or indeed anything much. Except the basic fact that there will be another season after the one we're about to have. So lots more Pony to come. Am I hyped for this? Yes. Might it be a total disaster? Yes. Am I still hyped, knowing that? Yes. I think that covers it!

Also, new "season 9" tag. Woo-hoo!

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Hour-long FiM special coming next winter!

This tweet from the hugely well-informed Sebastiàn Cordova (aka @Chevistian1) got my interest last night! It seems that after the regular S8 is done, there'll be a Holiday Special entitled "The Best Gift Ever". Yes, interestingly familiar episode name, isn't it? I wonder if there'll be a callback, perhaps involving Blueblood finally getting another speaking part and making a total idiot of himself again. I'd enjoy that. I do wonder how a festive ep can surpass "A Hearth's Warming Tail", though.

On a more general note, my reaction to the totally unexpected news confirmed how much I really do still like FiM. I was very, very happy at the thought of more – I assume it will be 44 minutes of actual Pony, with the rest ad breaks – before S9 happens. (If it happens. I know the indications are that it will, but it's a long way off yet.) One thing does come to mind: will the special have an episode number? This matters, as if we do reach S9, the answer to that question will determine which is episode 200.

Friday, 16 February 2018

Stats time again! The creeping advance of M-rated fic

The enhanced search now available on Fimfiction has finally allowed me to confine results to any range of dates I pick, rather than being stuck with the highly limited options previously available. One thing that occurred to me to try recently was to see what sort of fics were popular as Fimfiction evolved. The first thing I checked was how many of the top ten most viewed fics were Mature-rated:

2011: 4
2012: 4
2013: 2
2014: 6
2015: 7
2016: 9
2017: 9

Some thoughts on this past the break.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Ponyfic Roundup 191: We've got spooks and ghouls and freaks and fools

Actually, that's a lie. We haven't. But we – or rather I – have got some more ponyfic to review for you. I need it to take the bad taste away that I got when I discovered quite by chance that someone had written a Sweet Apple Massacre side-story – in mid-2017. I had hoped that... thing had been forgotten forever by now. No such luck. Anyway:

Read it Later story count: 353 (-6)

And now we're back in the magical land of Equestria. A reminder that my star rating system is deliberately skewed: a two-star fic can be one I found perfectly okay reading, and a three-star fic is one I felt was above average. This is to allow me to give the stories I find truly excellent or even exceptional more of an edge in the rankings. Here's today's collection:

Toot your own horn by Hoopy McGee
Stronghearted in the Desert by The Legend of Derpy
Maidens Day by bookplayer
The Thief and the Princess by Muramasa
Harmony by Allykitty

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

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Sparkle Nights convention apparently cancelled

In the UK convention roundup I posted about a month ago, I covered four cons. Three of them – UK PonyCon, BronyScot and newcomer Griffish Isles – have either posted updates since then or (in the case of BronyScot) still have their 2017 websites up. I'll obviously post more about those if there's anything important to report, but nothing's really changed since the UKPC theme announcement.

However, the fourth possible UK convention, Sparkle Nights, seems to have bitten the dust, despite having announced a venue and produced an eye-catching website. I haven't been able to find any hard information, but the convention's site and social media accounts all seem to have been deactivated. At the very least, it doesn't look as though anything's going to happen in May as previously announced – if at all.

Assuming I'm right, this is the second full-scale MLP con in the UK that I know that hasn't made it to opening day. The first was My Little Convention in 2015, which never really convinced as having a stable setup and which may have done everyone a favour by cancelling. With Sparkle Nights, the people involved were at least names I'd heard of, but as we see that doesn't guarantee success.

Monday, 12 February 2018

Movie Blu-ray/DVD out today! At last...

Cover of the UK/Ireland edition of the MLP movie disc
It's really rare to have two formats of disc in the same pack these days
After what seems like an age, My Little Pony: The Movie finally becomes officially available for home viewing today. Americans have had it for ages, of course, so what the point was in delaying its UK release until now is anyone's guess. Answers on a postcard. Anyway, it's £12.99 at Amazon and the same price at HMV. At the time of writing I hadn't seen it in a physical shop, so I don't know how prices there will compare.

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Fanfic Reading: Clouded Minds

 ( Text link )

I haven't done a ponyfic reading for a year and a half, but someone asked me a while ago to provide an audio version of my old story Clouded Minds. This was published nearly five years ago and has its share of flaws, but to this day I like the underlying concept. It does end a little more abruptly than I originally intended, thanks partly to personal circumstances (unrelated to the fic itself) making me disinclined to work on it further. However, I now quite like that suddenness, so it's staying. Here's the summary for those who don't know the story:

Clouded Minds by Loganberry
Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash
Sad/Slice of Life; 2k words; Apr 2013; Everyone
Rainbow Dash finally comes clean to Fluttershy on the secret of why she feels such a responsibility to her fellow pegasus. It's not simple friendship; it's not plain loyalty. It's something altogether more shadowy.

Friday, 9 February 2018

Season 8 is coming in March!

As revealed by the latest Discovery Family press release, the S8 premiere will be shown on 24th March. I know the various leaks have meant that many people will already have seen (incomplete) episodes, but I have stayed away from those. I hope not too many people online will be jerks and spoil the rest of us. We'll see, I suppose.

I do know a few things, and if you read the DF release (as reproduced on this EqD page) you'll discover quite a lot more. In fact, I'd recommend against looking at it if you're trying to avoid spoilers, as among other things it mentions new and returning characters, the premiere's synopsis and some of the locations that we'll be visiting.

One non-spoilery piece of information is that there will be seven songs this season. As was promised, that's an increase on last season's five – but it's still well down on previous seasons, though if you ignore their musical episodes the number is reasonably comparable. Let's hope they're good songs, anyway. Roll on March!

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Ponyfic Roundup 190: A Sunday Joint of Bread and Honey

Before I forget, there's been a retrospective upgrade. I re-read Bachiavellian's Shoots and Roots (reviewed in PR 142), which got "a high-end four" at the time. Second time through, I loved it even more. As such, it is hereby upgraded to five-star status!

Read it Later story count: 359 (-14)

I've decided to note when stories have any of the new warning tags. I'll do this in the same way I do it when the [Gore] or [Sex] tag is used, by mentioning the relevant tag(s) in brackets after the relevant fic's rating. Anyway, here's today's selection – at last, I'm back to five! – and it's not been a bad reading experience at all:

Kaleidoscope by TheVulpineHero1
The Art and Science of Letter Writing by Pascoite
You Can Count On Me by Honeycomb
All Of Us Together, Together As One by MythrilMoth
Dance Dance Dance by Ceffyl Dwr

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

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Worcester Shires ponymeets

Updated 9th April 2019

Just to be crystal (pony) clear here: I'm talking about the Worcester in England!

Who are you?
Officially, we are the Worcester Shires! Yes, it's a horse pun. We like horse puns. Mind you, it took us nearly six years to adopt the name. That's right: we've been running since spring 2013! A lot of the time we still refer to ourselves as simply "the Worcester meets", though. Our meet leader is Pigasus, and while he's in attendance he is the boss. When he isn't, it's actually me. Yes, really. There are usually 5–8 of us at a meet, though we do occasionally hit double figures.

Where do you meet?
Caffè Bolero, an excellent independent place on the edge of the city centre. (Google Map.) This is five minutes' walk from Worcester Foregate Street station and also a short walk from various city centre car parks. We meet, as any self-respecting bronies should, in the basement – down the stairs to your right as you enter.

What days do you meet?
We try to keep up a regular schedule of twice-monthly meets, on the second and fourth Saturdays of each month. The schedule does occasionally change to fit around holidays and other special events like conventions, or if a number of people are unavailable, so you may want to check the first post in this UK of Equestria thread to make sure it's going ahead.

If you feel like creating (or already have) a UK of E account, that's also where we tend to hammer out details of scheduling, or if there are any dates we need to change. Same thread as the one linked just above, but in the newest posts rather than the first one.

What times do you meet?
Our meets start at 1pm and run through until about 5pm, though the end time is a little variable. You're welcome to come for just part of the meet if you like.

What do you do?
We sit around and chat! Unlike some brony meetups, in Worcester ponies are still the main topic of conversation at pretty much every meet. We do talk about other things sometimes, but talk nearly always drifts back to MLP before long, especially when there's something big to talk about. We also play a simple card game using a pony-themed standard deck. It's very easy to learn and very silly.

We're not really into the CCG, since it does tend to divide meets – not the best idea for a smallish gathering. We don't go for mass shop walkabouts either, but of course if anyone would like to explore Worcester's (frankly quite limited) retail options then that's fine and someone will be happy to come with you, I'm sure. Oh, and I'm afraid watching episodes isn't something we can offer, as we don't have a private space to do that.

How much does it cost?
The meet itself costs nothing. However, as we're sitting in a café for several hours, we do ask you to buy some food and/or drink.

Talking of which...?
There's the usual range of coffee, soft and (a few) alcoholic drinks, cakes and Mediterranean-style snacks and light meals. Yes, both cider (if you're old enough) and muffins are available! Prices are very reasonable: a coffee and a muffin will easily produce change from a fiver.

Who can come?
Anyone! Well, okay, we do have one significant restriction, which is that if you're under 16 we do ask you to bring an adult with you. The basement is only accessible by stairs, as is the case in many of Worcester's old buildings. Meeting upstairs isn't really an option as there's generally far less space. If this is a problem for you, please let one of us know and we'll do our best to sort something out.

Can I bring my plushie/pony shirt/sketchbook?
Yes, certainly, as long as it won't get in the way of other customers. (So no NSFW shirt designs, please.) The staff at Bolero are very good to us and are tolerant of tables with plushies dotted around.

Anything else I should know?
Because of the venue we use, as well as the wishes of our regulars, we are a fairly strictly SFW meet – this includes asking attendees not to swear beyond the language used in the show. For mainly historical reasons, we also prefer to avoid much shipping talk.

Also, if you don't know Worcester very well, feel free to ask one of us to meet you at Foregate Street station. There's usually someone around earlier who can do that.

Monday, 5 February 2018

UK PonyCon 2018 announces convention theme

As mentioned on the official forum, UK PonyCon's 15th iteration will be a Crystal Celebration! The crystal theme, described as "dazzling and magnificent", will doubtless please the Rarity fans out there – but there's plenty more that can be done to fit with it. I look forward very much to discovering what will be done with it – and, I hope, attending!

So, that's the first of the "biggies" announced, which is exciting! The others are dates, ticket details and location – and the last of those may be the most eagerly awaited. Last year, the committee weren't ready to announce that until April, though, so don't assume we'll get an announcement on that score for a while yet.

Sunday, 4 February 2018

My Little Karaoke

I don't think I've ever done a post specifically about My Little Karaoke, so here's a quick one. For the six people in the fandom who don't know, this is a ponified version of the Singstar clone UltraStar Deluxe. It comes with pretty much every official song (newer ones are usually made available fairly quickly) and a whole bunch of community tracks as well. Even if you haven't played it yourself, you've almost certainly seen it at a convention or in a video... like the one embedded above. ;)

If you enjoy singing pony songs, as an awful lot of us do, MLK is enormous fun. It can be a tiny bit fiddly in places (to delete a playlist, you first have to open it!) but the basics are simple enough. The program is free and is available on the official site for Windows, macOS and Linux. It's a pretty chunky download, though, so a decently fast internet connection is advisable – though the game itself is fully offline unless you use the basic online leaderboard system.

In brief? My Little Karaoke is fantastic. Get it now!

Friday, 2 February 2018

Can anyone source this quote?

The other day, I was having one of my periodic bouts of reading around Fimfiction blogs. I like doing that from time to time, as I sometimes find some interesting stuff that way. Admittedly I also find some very boring posts – but hey, you're reading Louder Yay, so you should be used to that sort of thing.

This time, I was reading a blog by someone who I'll leave unnamed. That's partly because it's not relevant to my question, but also because they'd been involved in a nasty argument in a Fimfiction group and because context suggested they'd been through a very rough time in their personal life. Not things I want to get involved in.

It was a long blog about writing, and part of it was taken up by the author rejecting the existence of writer's block as a real condition. That's not the point I want to discuss here, though. This is the quote in question, which was attributed to Terry Pratchett:
There's no such thing as writer's block. That was invented by people in California who couldn't write.
Now, I've spent a fair amount of time Googling, both standard search and Books, and I've discovered two things. One, this line is quoted in many places. Two, it's quoted by people who don't provide any kind of source for it. This happens a lot on the internet especially – just the other week, a quote went the rounds on Twitter, also attributed to Pterry:
Satire is meant to ridicule power. If you are laughing at people who are hurting, it's not satire, it's bullying.
That one was investigated by a number of people and they could find no evidence that Pratchett had ever said it – yet it will probably now stick in many people's minds as "that cool Terry Pratchett quote about satire" or something. As with so much else, it makes me grateful that way back in middle school we had a timetabled class called "Study Skills" which covered checking sources. (This was in pre-internet days, I should say.)

So, back to the writer's block quote. As I said a minute ago, I'm not actually interested right now in whether people agree with it or not. However, is anyone reading this able to provide an actual source for Pratchett having said it – or, just as good, hard evidence that he didn't? Thanks!

Thursday, 1 February 2018

EFNW Scribblefest is back

I saw last night via this Fimfiction site post that Everfree Northwest's popular "Scribblefest" fanfic contest is back, with the prompt "Family Trees: Roots, Branches, and Leaves". That announcement brought home to me a bit that the story I entered with in 2017, The Book of Ended Lives, remains the last completed ponyfic I've published. Even though I've been writing The Danger Within, I'd still like to have something finished to look at in my story list.

The question is whether I can think of something that fits the prompt. Knowing me, I'll probably get an idea two days after the closing date (3rd March). The required story length – between 2,000 and 6,000 words – appeals to me, though. As mentioned at the start of yesterday's post, I have a lot going on outside the fandom, so I may simply not have time to enter the EFNW contest. I do intend to review all the category winners regardless, as doing that was fun last year.