Thursday, 31 May 2018

Text Review Roundup: "Molt Down"

This will be the last TRR for a little while, owing to my imminent holiday. I do intend to do them for episodes 12 and 13, but you'll have to be patient. This episode was very popular with the text-based reviewers, rivalling even "The Break Up Break Down" on that score. Also, a belated welcome back to the Railfan Brony. After they chose the video-review route for the premiere, I thought that was it, but they've now resumed written reviews and have caught up with the season.

Cuddlepug – mixed (graded C+; "Welcome to adulthood, mate.")

Dark Qiviut – very positive ("one of the best episodes of S8 so far and one of the best Spike episodes altogether.")

Derpy News – very positive (graded A; "Congratulations, Josh Haber. You’re the new M.A. Larson.")

JDPrime22 – extremely positive (rated 10/10; "The possibility for future stories this sets up is incredible. Have at it, MLP crew!")

Louder Yay – very positive (4/5; "Time will tell how Spike's new wings may change him, but for now I'd consider this another very good 22 minutes of FiM.")

Mega Sean 45 – very positive ("my favorite episode this season so far!")

MLEEP Reviews – very positive (9.5/10; "plenty of world building to expand upon and one of the biggest surprises of the season so far")

The Railfan Brony – very positive ("One of this episode's greatest strengths is that Spike feels relatable and not being constantly brought down to size")

Rainbine – wildly positive ("10/10; "This was a Masterpiece.")

ShutterflyEQD – very positive ("The Twilight and Spike moments in this episode were so very sweet [...] a lot of laughs")

TheDragonWarlock – very positive (graded A-; "This is an excellent Spike episode that's right up there with Gauntlet of Fire.")

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

A few temporary changes (and one permanent one)

I'm going on holiday for a week this Saturday, and I'll be in some fairly remote parts of Scotland with little or no reliable internet access – so there'll be a few changes to the usual routine on Louder Yay. These temporary changes first:

Episode reviews for E12 and E13 will be considerably delayed, since I doubt I'll even see the eps until the week after next. Thank Celestia for the mid-season hiatus!

Text Review Roundup will therefore also be delayed, though the one for E11 will go up on Thursday as normal.

Ponyfic Roundup this week will be delayed until Friday or Saturday, to reduce the gap resulting from the fact that there will be no PR at all next week.

As for the permanent change: you can no longer comment on this blog using OpenID. This is not my decision – support for the facility has been withdrawn by Google. All previous OpenID comments will get anonymised – again, this is Google's doing, not mine. Your choice is now limited to Google ID, Name/URL or Anonymous.

Monday, 28 May 2018

Episode review: S8E11: "Molt Down"

Stone scale-covered Spike looking glum next to a happier-looking Smolder
Now I want to know about Smolder's brother
After a slightly shaky start, Season 8 seems to be on a bit of a roll at the moment, with only the unimpressive "Non-Compete Clause" interrupting a sequence of good-to-great episodes. This week, we had Josh Haber's first ep this season, as well as the prospect of a full-on Spike-isode. Those used to be a bad sign, but since "Gauntlet of Fire" the little dragon has come into his own. As for this episode...

Sunday, 27 May 2018

hawthornbunny's list of the 20 most-used titles on Fimfiction


Here's something interesting: hawthornbunny has put together a list of the most commonly used fic titles on Fimfiction. Perhaps to be expected, 14 of them are single words. Slightly to my surprise, none of them contains a character name (unless there are some OCs in there). Here's the full list, which I've edited only in terms of formatting:
1. Memories (49 fics)
2. Alone (42 fics)
3. A New Life (39 fics)

4. Broken (36 fics)
5= A Second Chance (31 fics)
5= The Trotting Dead (31 fics)
7. Destiny (26 fics)
8= The End (25 fics)
8= Lost (25 fics)
8= A Night to Remember (25 fics)
8= Redemption (25 fics)
8= Silence (25 fics)
13. Eclipse (24 fics)

14= Forgotten (23 fics)
14= Monster (23 fics)
14= Nightmares (23 fics)
14= The Pony Games (23 fics)
14= Secrets (23 fics)
14= Trapped (23 fics)
14= Wings (23 fics)
So, if you want your story to be found easily, it's probably not a great idea to call it Memories! Also, this isn't exactly a list packed with hugely popular or well-received stories. Think of your favourite fic, and it probably isn't here.

Saturday, 26 May 2018

Welcome to the herd!

There was a discussion recently on Equestria Daily about what our fandom does especially well (to go with a previous piece about what we could stand to improve on), and one thing that many people mentioned was that bronies are generally very welcoming to newcomers. That's been my experience, too, and I'm very glad: I sometimes hear about fandoms where new people are almost considered second-class citizens if they don't know all there is to know from the off.

Anyway, the discussion reminded me of the GIF posted above. I don't know who made it as my Google-fu has failed me – let me know and I'll add a credit – but I used to see it everywhere when new people joined the fandom. In spite of my usual antipathy to animated avatars and the like, I make an exception for this one. It's always made me smile (smile smile) and I like to think it represents the general mindset of established fans towards newcomers.

I know there are still new bronies joining the herd in 2018 – not as many as in the old days, of course, but they're still around – so if you're one of them, then... well, see the GIF. Welcome to the herd!

Friday, 25 May 2018

Pony Music Library 53: לעוף (Fly)

Hey, would you look at that? It's less than three weeks since the last PML entry! Clearly dark magic is at work. (And why has the show forgotten about dark magic, anyway?) Today, a song written by a musician far better known for remixing other people's works – and this one isn't even in English.

What? "לעוף (Fly)"

Who? The Living Tombstone

Which? Original song

When? February 2012

Why? As far as his time making MLP music goes, The Living Tombstone is generally known as a remix artist – but there are exceptions, and this is one. What we have here is a very nice rock number in which one of Spitfire's fans (no, not Rainbow Dash!) sings about their wish that one day they could fly with their hero, despite not having wings of their own. This song is in TLT's native Hebrew, but even though I barely understand a word of that language, the track has really nice guitar sounds and an excellent beat. Into the PML it goes!

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Text Review Roundup: "The Break Up Break Down"

Another week, another batch of early-release news. This time, it appears from the online listings that Tiny Pop (the UK broadcaster) will be showing the first half of S8 on a daily basis through the half-term week and beyond. If so, we'll get to episode 13 a few days ahead of Discovery Family – which will be the first time since the S6 finale that's happened, although a combination of the leaks and Finland mean it won't be quite as big a deal this time round.

Unsurprisingly, this episode was well received, far more so than "Non-Compete Clause" was. A number of reviewers were slightly disappointed by the underlying plot's predictability, but most other aspects were heavily praised.

Cuddlepug – very positive (graded A; "does everything a good episode Friendship is Magic needs to")

Dark Qiviut – extremely positive ("Spike and Discord are outstanding [...] the dialogue really shines [...] one of the ten best of the show altogether")

Derpy News – quite positive (graded B+; "a good episode apart from one part being telegraphed and one part extraneous")

JDPrime22 – very positive (rated 9/10; "the jokes all hit, the flow and pace was perfect")

Louder Yay – very positive (4/5; "Despite a very well-worn "misunderstanding" plot [...] highly entertaining and well paced.")

Mega Sean 45 – very positive ("I found this episode very fun and very inspiring at the same time!")

MLEEP Reviews – positive (8/10; "while predictable, 'The Break Up Breakdown' was just the pick-me-up that Season 8 needed")

Rainbine – fairly positive ("7/10; "leagues better than last weeks episode, but nothing spectacular")

ShutterflyEQD – very positive ("the best Hearts and Hooves day special we had since a long time ago")

TheDragonWarlock – positive (graded B+; "the main story is filled with cliches, but it's still a great episode all around.")

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Ponyfic Roundup 204: Caravan Palace

Title explanation: this ancient PMV

Advance warning that I'll be on holiday for the first full week of June, so there'll be a break in... well, everything, unless I can get a scheduled post or two written. At any rate, episode reviews, Text Review Roundup and Ponyfic Roundup will certainly have their usual schedules disrupted.

Read it Later story count: 333 (-3)

Another very busy week, but at least this time I got through more than three fics! Just. In fact, I made a special effort to read a fourth. Was it worth the effort? Well, let's see... here's today's selection:

A Mare's Tail by Southpaw
Is Derpy Sexy? by naturalbornderpy
Little Deceptions by Taranth
How an Actual Human Vs Ponies War Would Go by HonestAJ4President

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

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

"Flutterwonder" back up. Unless it isn't

See that video above? If the answer is no, if you just see a blank screen, then what follows is no longer relevant. But at the time of writing, that embedded video is "Flutterwonder". The original "Flutterwonder", on the account of the artist formerly known as PinkiePieSwear. And at the time of writing, it was public. Not even unlisted, but fully public for the world to see, 8,000-plus comments and all. If this remains the case, then I will be absolutely delighted. This is a true classic of our fandom, after all.

But given everything that's happened in the past, right now that is an "if". We'll see.

Monday, 21 May 2018

Episode review: S8E10: "The Break Up Break Down"

Sugar Belle tries to talk to Big Mac, who's leaning on the open split-level door
Not often we see those stable-style split doors used in MLP these days!
I have a sore shoulder I'd rather not aggravate, so today's review isn't all that long. We were back with a veteran writer this time in Nick Confalone; I didn't like his last episode ("The Maud Couple") all that much, but he had produced some fine stuff in the past. As such, I was cautiously optimistic, although I've rarely been a huge fan of romance-themed episodes in Friendship is Magic. After the break, a briefish assessment.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Our Fragile Fandom

Introductory note: some of you may wonder whether this post was inspired by a recent event involving a ponyfic author deleting their account – not just removing their stories but making it seem as though said account had never existed. The answer is: not really; I didn't know this author and have never reviewed one of their fics. Plus, I've been thinking about this post for a while. However, it was the aforementioned issue that prompted me to publish it now.

Fandoms are ephemeral, and online fandoms – which is most of them – even more so. In music, for example, MandoPony chose a while back to make some of his MLP tracks inaccessible – not merely unlisted, but privated/deleted entirely. Some are still available on his Bandcamp account, but others – one notable example being the villain!Sunset song "Shimmer On" – now only exist online because of unofficial reuploads by others.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Text Review Roundup: "Non-Compete Clause"

I really must keep my big mouth shut. Last week, I expressed relief at the fact that Canadian early releases weren't happening. This week, I discover that Finnish early releases are: episodes 10 to 13 inclusive, including one that hasn't already been leaked, are out in Finnish-language versions and will doubtless receive unofficial English dubs as soon as Finnish-speaking bronies can be persuaded to make them.

Louder Yay's reviews will stick with the US schedule as usual, at least unless that becomes as unworkable as it did at times during S6. Mostly the same reviewers as last time, although one was unable to post more than a very brief comment as part of a more general journal post and I've added Dark Qiviut. "Non-Compete Clause" was the worst-received episode of S8 so far, although not everyone disliked it.

Cuddlepug – mixed (graded B) NB: another Cuddlepug Special not-actual-review

Dark Qiviut – very negative ("carries too much stupid and lazy to handle")

Derpy News – slightly negative (graded C; "Outside of AJ and Dash, we have a good episode")

JDPrime22 – mixed (rated 6/10; "the students are acting smarter and more mature than two grown ponies")

Louder Yay – rather negative (2/5; "It wasn't horrible, just underwhelming.")

Mega Sean 45 – generally positive ("the students really have an amazing amount of chemistry and humor [though AJ and RD's ultra-competitiveness] wasn't funny, it was just... sad")

MLEEP Reviews – negative (3/10; "[AJ and RD] nearly killed one of their own students and didn't seem to care!!! [...] I didn't crack a smile once")

Rainbine – extremely negative ("[made] me unbelievably angry") NB: not a full review for personal reasons

ShutterflyEQD – broadly positive (" really nice to see that the whole group of students really did learn a lot from field trip after all")

TheDragonWarlock – very negative (graded D-; "The characterization is deplorable, the comedy is terrible, the pacing is bad, and it brought out the worst in Applejack and Rainbow Dash.")

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Ponyfic Roundup 203: To Me, To You

Title explanation: Chuckle Brothers catchphrase

We appear to be having summer in May this year. This suits me, as it's my favourite month of the year. Everything's fresh and green, the sun is warm but the air often still has a slight edge in it that makes it much more comfortable for walking – something I do a lot of. It's also the angling close season, which means riverside walks are usually fairly quiet and peaceful.

Read it Later story count: 336 (nc)

It's been a busy week and so I haven't had very much time at all to read, so my run of five-fic editions has come to an end here. Just the three this time around, though at least I did manage to read the fic I trailed last week! Let's start with that one:

Erase and Rewind by DuncanR
The Teeny, Tiny Pinkie Pie by RK_Striker_JK_5
Two Kinds of Beauty by Saacsa

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

Monday, 14 May 2018

Episode review: S8E09: "Non-Compete Clause"

Smolder (centre) raises arms in frustration at a startled Rainbow (left) and Applejack (right)
I know how you feel, Smolder
We had yet another new writer this time in Kim Beyer-Johnson. I'm not against new writers as such – Brian Hohlfeld did a very fine job with "Surf and/or Turf" – but I think FiM may be going a bit overboard. This came to mind after I read the synopsis of "Non-Compete Clause", which reminded me of nothing so much as "Fall Weather Friends" from S1. An episode I still enjoy, but I did wonder whether Beyer-Johnson would fully capture Applejack and Rainbow's character development since then. The answer was...

Saturday, 12 May 2018

Chase the Ace, Worcester style

At nearly every Worcester ponymeet, we play a simple card game called Chase the Ace. It's basically the game that Wikipedia describes under the name of Ranter-Go-Round, but we have one or two house rules. So, for the benefit of newcomers and (as The Descendant used to say) interested passers-by here's how we play the game.

This goes on a bit, so have a page break.

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Text Review Roundup: "The Parent Map"

Here we go again with Text Review Roundup. The spectre of early releases in Canada seems to have been lifted, so TRR will continue for the foreseeable future. Another week with a stable slate of reviewers, and on the whole reaction to "The Parent Map" was down a notch from that to "Horse Play". These reviewers were still positive on average, but there was a fair bit of variation.

Cuddlepug – negative (graded C-; "one of those episodes where everyone ends up apologising to each other for being honest")

Derpy News – mildly positive (graded B; "some good lessons ... but there were opportunities to address other things")

JDPrime22 – positive (8/10; "I liked this episode!")

Louder Yay – mildly positive (3/5; "A predictable story with a predictable moral, but with some nice touches scattered through.")

Mega Sean 45 – positive ("pretty similar to the story of Parental Glideance [but] we get to have more Starlight and Sunburst friendship development which is always interesting")

MLEEP Reviews – rather negative (5/10; "awesome to finally see the parents of Starlight and Sunburst [but repetitive humour and] pretty predictable")

Rainbine – very positive (9/10; "relatable stuff throughout")

ShutterflyEQD – mixed ("there wasn't too much this episode had going for it, except a new location we got to explore, and new characters")

TheDragonWarlock – mixed (graded B-; "does have its moments ... some solid jokes [but] plot and pacing though feel jarring, the subplot felt pointless, and the ending felt pretty rushed.")

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Ponyfic Roundup 202: Hark Don't You?

Before this edition, I'd reviewed 976 stories for PR, which means the big 1-0-0-0 is looming on the horizon. I'm not currently planning to do anything special to mark the occasion, but you never know. I've also managed to reduce my RiL list this week, albeit not by very much. Achievement unlocked! :P

Read it Later story count: 336 (-3)

Here's today's little selection of small horse stories. Yet again, five of them, so maybe – just maybe – things are getting back on an even keel. Probably I've jinxed it now, but oh well.

Krastos the Glue Maker by Horse Voice
The Cold, Unfeeling Moon by Forces of Darkness
Fire Side by TittySparkles
The Quiescence of the Crystal Empire by Aldrigold
Common Sense by All Art is Quite Useless

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

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Episode review: S8E08: "The Parent Map"

Starlight's rather metal teenage bedroom
Bedroom design by Horse Voice
Season 8 has been going quite well recently if you ask me. You probably don't ask me, but I'm going to tell you anyway. The perils of reading Louder Yay. Anyway, we had a returning writer this time: Dave Rapp, previously responsible for "Newbie Dash", "Flutter Brutter" and "Where the Apple Lies". Not a collection that everyone enjoyed, but I thought all three episodes were at least okay and so was cautiously optimistic. In the end, we got...

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Short delay to episode 8 review

As this is a Bank Holiday (extended) weekend over here, and as by some miracle it's also glorious weather, I've been outdoors much more than usual, and so I haven't had time to do much actual writing. As such, the review of "The Parent Map" will appear here on Tuesday this week.

Saturday, 5 May 2018

Pony Music Library 52: "Let Your Mane Down (d.notive cover)" by Replacer

Frith, has it really been two months since the last PML post? I believe it has! Something must be done about that right this minute. Fortunately, I've been on a bit of a brony music binge recently, so I've listened to quite a lot and have chosen one of my favourite songs from that sample here. Replacer also gets props for his stamina: he's still producing fandom music in 2018. Yay for him!

What? "Let Your Mane Down (d.notive cover)"

Who? Replacer

Which? Cover/remix

When? February 2012

Why? I admire d.notive's work, and I quite like his original version of "Let Your Mane Down". (That seems to have disappeared from YouTube, so have this later album version.) However, Replacer's cover/remix is even more to my taste. It is almost ridiculously catchy, with a wildly infectious, uptempo beat and Replacer's excellent vocals. There's also a really nice instrumental break a little before the three-minute mark. The original song was inspired by the S2 episode "Sisterhooves Social", back in the days when Sweetie Belle seemed to live with her parents and only stay with Rarity.

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Text Review Roundup: "Horse Play"

News from Armenia: the opposition leader has spoken of "a revolution of love and tolerance". I can't speak Armenian, or indeed read it as it's written in its own alphabet, so I can't confirm the translation – but it certainly woke me up to see that phrase on the BBC News site!

Time for the TRR machine to get back into gear. The same cast of reviewers as last week, which is a welcome bit of stability after all the recent chopping and changing. Note that the quote I used from Cuddlepug's review is probably the only one in his piece that's a straightforward comment on the episode. Overall, another ep that had a good reception.

Cuddlepug – fairly positive (graded B; "The writing is sharp throughout, with the cast all providing realistic dialogue and contributing to the story.")

Derpy News – damning-with-faint-praise positive (graded B+; "still better than 'Inspiration Manifestation'")

JDPrime22 – very positive (9/10; "Really reminded me of the older episodes of the show ... Really fun episode")

Louder Yay – positive (4/5; "I can forgive a few bumps if the ride as a whole is enjoyable, and I had plenty of fun with this episode.")

Mega Sean 45 – very positive ("The humor was really top-notch ... an amazing episode")

MLEEP Reviews – wildly positive (10/10; "'Horse Play' truly was a magical experience")

Rainbine – positive (8/10; "Celestia was characterized and developed even more [but] a very predictable plot")

ShutterflyEQD – very positive ("I absolutely loved how they really put Celestia in the spotlight")

TheDragonWarlock – very positive (graded A-; "Despite my gripe with Twilight['s stubbornness], Horse Play is a fantastic episode overall.")

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Ponyfic Roundup 201: Tralfamadorians

My RiL list count is creeping up again, which is irritating in one way. In another, it's not, because it means there are more fics I want to read than there have been for a while. Still, my very long-term goal is to get the RiL list down to about 100 and then keep it there. I'm not sure I'll ever manage it, but I'll be quite pleased if I do!

Read it Later story count: 339 (+2)

Back to a regular mixed bag of fics this week, and I'm afraid we're back down to four stories. I couldn't concentrate properly while my back was at its worst, so I just ran out of time to read any more. Under review today are:

Dear Sweetie Belle by Jade Ring
Tantabus, Mk. II by Rambling Writer
The Prisoner of Zebra by Tumbleweed
When Space Met Time by Impossible Numbers

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