Saturday, 17 August 2019

New minific by me: "Rock On"

"Rock On" is the second of my three entries for the Fimfiction Feghoot Festival. The rules allowed minifics to be submitted, so I bashed this one out. It's a 300-word bit of silliness, which were it a standalone tale I would have tagged [Random]. There's not much more I can say about a piece this short without spoiling it, except that it stars Mudbriar (the POV character) and Maud.

My third entry, which was a standalone fic, will be covered in a blog post here in the near future. Probably the next time I don't have anything to write about and so can justify (to myself, at least) a bit of self-indulgence.

Friday, 16 August 2019

Text Review Roundup: "2, 4, 6, Greaaat"

You know, for a dead fandom this one seems to be keeping me very busy. Getting ready for UK PonyCon in October (tickets running short already – buy yours now!), working on this blog, reading fanfic, writing fanfic, helping arrange meetups, playing Pocket Ponies, watching Tales from late G1... yeah, I don't think I'm going to be stuck for things to do when the S9 finale has come and gone!

That's still a little way off, though, so let's see what the text-based reviewers made of "2, 4, 6, Greaaat". And... yeah. No reviewer liked it, not a single one. MLEEP is usually among the most positive and so it was again – but this time, even that only meant a "mixed". That was as good as it got. Rainbow Dash's portrayal was the most unpopular since "Non-Compete Clause", with which this ep was frequently compared.

Talking of which: SuperPinkBrony12, new this time, called this "a poor man's version of Non-Compete Clause". Ouch.

Cuddlepug – very negative (graded D-; "an utterly skippable episode, and one I would encourage people to avoid, lest they wish to raise an eyebrow over why Rainbow Dash would act like such an immature jerk this late in the game.")

Dark Qiviut – very negative ("Smolder had one of her best outings of the season [and a few other little pluses, but t]he rest of this episode was just a colossal train wreck [... and there's one of Twilight's] most out-of-character moments of the whole series."

DrakeyC – largely negative ("I like [that] the students hold Rainbow accountable [but] it is very condescending of the episode to portray Rainbow as so totally in the wrong and everyone else in the right. [...] A frustratingly annoying episode.")

Dramamaster829 negative ("It's like watching 1/2 of an Adam Sandler movie where he spends the whole time acting like a selfish-jerk with no reason to sympathize with his character")
Note: no blog at time of writing, so this is from a comment Dramamaster829 left on my review.

JDPrime22 – negative (rated 6/10; "Not only is Rainbow a huge ASS throughout the entire episode, all the growth she's displayed as a character (you know, being LOYAL and all) is completely thrown out the window, and for what?")

Louder Yay – largely negative (rated 2/5; "if it hadn't picked up markedly in the last third, it might even have skirted close to a one-star rating [...] a terrible disappointment.")

Mike Cartoon Pony – largely negative ("[Much of] the episode until the last six minutes is a painful exercise in watching Rainbow not even attempt to disguise her disinterest in her assigned task and put no effort into it [...] neat stuff at the margins [but] an anaemic, frustrating episode")

MLEEP Reviews – mixed (rated 6.5/10; "while having great side characters and humor [the episode] pretty much went exactly the way that I envisioned with how far back of a regression they could take with Rainbow Dash's character")

Present Perfect – very negative ("for all that the message here is great, the actual execution of it was abysmal [...] I really hated this one; it is, at best, horribly misaimed.")

SuperPinkBrony12 – negative ("a poor man's version of "Non-Compete Clause [...] Never once does [Dash] try to care, and yet she also doesn't try to talk to Twilight about how she's feeling. And why did Twilight feel the need to put Rainbow into this kind of lesson? [...] Smolder shouldn't be the only sane creature in the room.")

The Railfan Brony – very negative (rated Terrible; "There's nothing "great" about this episode, especially as it's another episode with Rainbow Dash acting like an idiot.")

TheDragonWarlock – extremely negative (rated 1.5/10; "Everything about this episode is poorly thought out and poorly executed. The concept is not only a bad idea, but the results are even worse. The writing is dreadful; especially for Rainbow. [...] easily the worst episode for Rainbow I've ever had the misfortune of watching.")

Thursday, 15 August 2019

EqG Mini-review: "Sunset's Backstage Pass"

"If I can just get this bike up to 88 mph..."
If Nick Confalone's understanding of the position of Equestria Girls is indeed Hasbro's as well, then the days of anything beyond a few more shorts in that universe are now at an end. According to Confalone, there were plans for a Season 2 finale, as well as a third season, but those have not been taken up. I suppose Boulder might be making them, but there seems no indication of that either. So, "Sunset's Backstage Pass" (written by Whitney Ralls, not Confalone – thanks, Zack Wanzer in the comments :) ) represents the end of an era. Possibly. Let's have a brief look at how it did.

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Ponyfic Roundup 261

A slight departure for me today, in that one of the stories I've reviewed is one I read in print. That's because I recently bought my first physical ponyfic book: Cold in Gardez's Completely Safe Stories anthology. (Don't worry, the fic in question is also on Fimfiction!) It can be a pain buying print books from the UK thanks to sometimes very off-putting shipping costs, which is one reason why this is the first I've bought. Anyway...

Read it Later story count: 244 (+1)

I have four stories to review this time, and as you'll see from the star rating summary down below, it's been a pretty good week. It's always nice when there are zeroes in the low columns! I'm starting with a piece that's not at all easy to review, so my apologies in advance for that.

The Last Dreams of Pony Island by horizon
Cant by Rambling Writer
The Book of Might Have Beens by Cold in Gardez
You Betcha! by The Cloptimist

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

Monday, 12 August 2019

Episode review: S9E15: "2, 4, 6, Greaaat"

The moment a million ponyfic people fell off their chairs
We're now little more than two months away from the end of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, and as such thoughts are beginning to turn to what the series finale may be like. I'm not going to talk about that here, even though I've seen the trailers, but I am going to talk about "2, 4, 6, Greaaat". This 15th episode of S9 was written by Kaita Mpambara, which had me cautiously optimistic given that he'd previously served up the enjoyable "Horse Play" and the mixed "A Rockhoof and a Hard Place". What would happen this time?

Saturday, 10 August 2019

Sounds of 2012: Nos. 83 to 78

About time I returned to the old days, and to be specific to 2012. Yes, it's time to get back to Everfree Radio's Top 100 fandom songs from that year. You can read about my four rules that decide whether I include or skip a song by clicking that link, but here they are in potted form.

Rule 1: Still available in the same or (1b) similar form direct from the artist
Rule 2: Available from a third party, with reason to believe the artist is fine with this
Rule 3: So famous that it would be plain silly to leave it out
Rule 4: Being unlisted is not, on its own, grounds for exclusion

The format is the same as before: a brief summary up here, then videos and waffle beneath each one. Here are today's tracks:

83: Alex S. – Trixie the Pony Troll
82: Zabrina – Pinkie Pie Smile Song Piano Cover
81: Sim Gretina – Crystal Fair (Sim Gretina Remix)
80: ThatSonofaMitch – First Night Alone
79: Rina-chan – Colgate's Brew
78: PrinceWhateverer – Guardians of Equestria

If you want to know more about these tracks, please keep reading!

Friday, 9 August 2019

Text Review Roundup: "The Last Laugh"

I haven't forgotten about "Sunset's Backstage Pass", and it will get a review – although almost certainly a mini-review. I just haven't got round to it yet. The truth is that EqG doesn't generally mean enough to me for its stuff to get the same scale of coverage as FiM on this blog, with a few exceptions such as the actual feature films. But please feel free to remind me if I haven't put up that mini-review by this time next week.

Back to FiM now, and it's high time TRR woke from hibernation to begin its last half-season! (Possibly not the last ever, but the last for quite some while; G5 is a long way off...) As always, I'll be happy to hear about any other text-based reviewers, so that I can include them in future TRR editions. I am not interested in those who just post a couple of lines and then direct people to a 15-minute YouTube review, as that's exactly what TRR isn't for.

We have anything but a full slate of text-based reviewers this time, I suspect partly because of the clash with the final BronyCon. Looking at those who did post their opinions, you'll see that "The Last Laugh" was not an episode where there was any sort of consensus. The closest we got was the broad agreement that Pinkie was well written. Beyond that? Reviewers didn't agree about the comedy, didn't agree about Weird Al's value, didn't agree about the song... you get the idea.

I was in the middle of the pack once again. This is getting to be a habit!

Cuddlepug – mixed (graded C; "a fine episode, but one that could have been far deeper [...] a shame more wasn't done with the concept")

Dramamaster829 – mixed ("Though the majority of the story’s plot is as bland as a backdrop for ‘Rainbow Roadtrip’, the bits that Cheese and Pinkie share somewhat make up for the grey atmosphere.")

JDPrime22 – positive (rated 9/10; "certainly an unexpected twist this time around, but still awesome")

Louder Yay – mildly positive (rated 3/5; "on first viewing I thought it was really poor [and Weird Al] only got to be fun and silly and wacky in the final third [...] What improved my assessment second time around was that I knew where the episode was going – and I do like the moral here [...] I also warmed to Sans Smirk.")

Mike Cartoon Pony – mixed ("Shrug-worthy, not bad or weak, but very bland [...] the characters are undeniably written well [but it's] technically proficient but dull. [...] And for an episode featuring Weird Al Yankovic, that’s a crippling issue.")

MLEEP Reviews – positive (rated 9/10; "managed to turn what felt like a role reversal situation of a rehash and supply some great comedy not only from Pinkie Pie herself but also [Weird Al]")

Present Perfect – positive ("The Fox Brothers have at last redeemed themselves. I haven’t seen Pinkie Pie written this well since Amy Keating Rogers left the show. [...] For an episode about being unable to laugh, this was really funny [and] Sans Smirk was an interesting character [although the song] definitely pales in comparison to basically anything else you can compare it to.")

The Railfan Brony – negative (rated Bad; "rehashes Pinkie Pride, only based in a factory and none of the humor or charm [...] Pinkie was fairly well-written like a genuine friend who wants to help, and Cheese Sandwich was also pretty sympathetic [but] The Last Laugh is creatively bankrupt.")

TheDragonWarlock – positive (rated 9/10; "easily Pinkie's best episode in a long time [...] While [Cheese is] sadly not bringing too many of the laughs this time, he's still enjoyable as a whole and I liked the little character he did get [...] The comedy is excellent [as is the song] a great way to send Pinkie off on a high note")

Thursday, 8 August 2019

We'll be fine

I've already posted versions of the below on both Twitter and Fimfiction, but I wanted to put it up on my blog as well.

The MLP fandom in the future won't be like it is now.

But the fandom now isn't like it was in 2013.

And the 2013 fandom wasn't like it was in S1.

And the S1 fandom wasn't like it was in G1.

It's never like it was in the old days.

There'll still be room for all of us.

Honest.

I did take a little licence with that "all of us", since of course some people will move on, as indeed some people have been doing for many years now. But for those who want to stick around, there'll always be a fandom for them to stick around in. As long as they don't expect it to be the same fandom it's always been. Because it hasn't "always been".

On a similar note, there's this piece by UK PonyCon along much the same lines. It's not a surprise that they're planning on returning in 2020, but it's good to see it in print all the same. I hope I'll be there – though there's this year's UKPC to get to first!

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Ponyfic Roundup 260

I am maintaining an undignified silence about the cricket.

The winner of the Fanfic Battle at BronyCon was, if I'm reading this right, Monochromatic's The Enchanted Library. Unfortunately, I haven't read it and am fairly unlikely ever to do so (a 340k-word AU fic? Yeah... not happening any time soon), so I can't say much about it. Mind you, clearly some good judges think it really is that good, so I'd better not rule it out entirely. Also, that BronyCon Bookstore? It made over $30,000.

Read it Later story count: 243 (-4)

Getting back to the much shorter stories I am a bit better at reading, today there are a grand total of four fics on the list. Though if you look down the list of authors this time, I'm sure you'll agree that what they lack in quantity they make up for in quality. Anyway, to the stories. These are they and they are these. Something something something cheese. Cough. Let's go:

Scootaloathe by FanOfMostEverything
Artistic License by Chris
This is a Stick-Up by Georg
Trust by Bad Horse

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

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

Episode review: S9E14: "The Last Laugh"

"Unusual shipping can often be entertaining, Miss Pie"
It's been... well, actually it hasn't been that long a time since the last new episode of Friendship is Magic. I've managed to avoid the early Chinese releases, so apart from knowing that Weird Al Yankovic would be returning, I was going into "The Last Laugh" blind. The Fox brothers' last Pinkie episode was the below-par "Yakity-Sax", which concerned me a bit, not least because I thought its moral was dreadfully expressed. The last Weird Al episode was the sublime "Pinkie Pride", so did S9's return get anywhere near S4's original?

Monday, 5 August 2019

New story by me: The Shoreline Shape Up

I had an important family commitment at the weekend, so my review of episode 14 will now appear tomorrow. In its place, you get this.

Cover pic is my crop and edit of this public domain image from Pixabay.

The Shoreline Shape Up by Loganberry
Applejack and OCs
Comedy/Slice of Life; 2k words; Jul 2019; Teen
Applejack arrives on the Dream Coast to help with the Shoreline Shape Up.
Applejack isn't a mare who's afraid of hard graft, so joining the Dream Coast's latest Shoreline Shape Up seems like the perfect working holiday. It may be a rocky assignment, though...

Yes, for the first time since The Book of Ended Lives more than two years ago, I've actually published a full story on Fimfiction! In between have come only The Danger Within (on long-term hiatus) and Custard Repeatedly Teleports into Starlight (a frankly rather meh sequel), so it's The Shoreline Shape Up that can properly said to mark my return to actually writing and publishing ponyfic from scratch. Regardless of anything else, that makes the story pretty meaningful to me.

What I really needed was a push to get me to do something, and that arrived in the shape of Super Trampoline's FimFiction Feghoot Festival with its firm closing date (actually not very firm, but that's another story!) and low word-count requirements. I thought of the last line of The Shoreline Shape Up and worked backwards from there. The result is what you see now – not, I think, a story anyone would put in the same class as The Book of Ended Lives, but nevertheless a finished story.

My original intention was to wait to post this until after the contest results had been announced at BronyCon yesterday. Not because I thought this fic was at all likely to win it – have you seen some of the authors who entered? – but so that I could link the two in a single post. Unfortunately, Super Trampoline has announced that various technical difficulties mean that there'd be a delay, though for the moment exactly how long a delay remains vague. It's unfortunately fairly clear it's going to be longer than just a day or two, though – a week or two seems more likely.

Given this uncertainty, I decided that actually I didn't want to wait any longer to post anything about The Shoreline Shape Up, so here we are. The story has crawled to 108 views, which maintains my record of making it to three figures for everything I've published. (This is not just small beer but minuscule beer for many authors, I appreciate, but it isn't for me!) I do like some things about it, such as the nods to G1, but I think what's most important is – as I said a minute ago – that I'm now writing again. Every day, too, even if for just 100 words of rubbish nobody but me will ever see.

Related to that, writing The Shoreline Shape Up (and more, but that can wait for another post) has convinced me that I'm not going anywhere soon. Clearly the ponyfic scene will gradually fade away as the show itself ends, but I think and hope that it won't fade entirely to black; that there'll be enough interest in reading it to maintain my interest in writing it for quite some while beyond this autumn. I've said a few times that I still have ideas I want to turn into fics: the key thing now is that I'm more likely actually to do so.

Saturday, 3 August 2019

A few thoughts on BronyCon from afar

The final BronyCon is currently in full swing over in Baltimore. As far as I can tell from various people's reports, it seems to be going pretty well. It's always interesting to read these – especially those on Fimfiction, where for the most part the blogs are well written and have a depth that Twitter posts do not afford their writers.

I've mentioned before that I regret that I'll never experience a fan-script reading or real-life ponyfic writer gatherings, but BronyCon 2019 has added a new item to the list: the Golden Oaks Bookstore. This is an actual, physical place filled with actual, physical copies of ponyfic stories. Which are apparently selling really well. While I'm generally quite content with reading fics in electronic format, I can't deny that to experience a genuine ponyfic bookshop would be something remarkable

Mind you, it's also fair to say that the sheer size of BronyCon (and I await the official attendance figure with interest) might not be to my tastes anyway. I've noticed a considerable number of people this year mentioning having waited long periods in queues, then not getting into the events they're queueing for anyway as the relevant rooms have already reached capacity. That sort of thing certainly does not appeal.

I wonder occasionally whether I'd actually be a regular BC attendee if it were held in this country. I can never know for sure, but I wouldn't be entirely surprised if I'd have ended up going once or twice, just for the experience, and then set it aside in favour of the smaller cons. After all, I didn't strain every sinew to get to the last BUCK in 2016, but I did make absolutely sure I was at UK PonyCon the same year.

On which note, please don't take my comments about BC as whinging. I count myself very lucky to live in a country which has its own Pony conventions, and even luckier to have been able to have attended them. All being well, UK PonyCon in October will be my ninth. Of course, the end of FiM brings uncertainties to us, as it does to everyone else, but I'd certainly like to get my con count into double figures before it's all over.

Right – I think that's quite enough disjointed rambling. I need to save some for my next few posts! To those who are reading this at BronyCon, I hope you're having a sensationally good time and that your memories of the convention will all be happy ones. To everyone else... well, I hope you're having a great time, too!

Friday, 2 August 2019

August's Flashfic 150 contest is now open

Hey, would you look at that? For once I'm actually remembering to promote Flashfic 150... during the final BronyCon, when several of those who read this blog will be otherwise engaged. (Having fun, I hope!) Great timing there, Logan.

Anyway, the prompt for August, chosen by KwirkyJ, is I Thought We Were Friends. (Click on it to take you to the contest thread.) That's a nice prompt, I think: not too vague, yet allowing all sorts of interpretations. I'm hoping for a reasonable entry, but these things don't seem to be very predictable, so we'll see.

For the uninitiated, Flashfic 150 is a (deliberately) prize-free* monthly flashfic contest. Any member of Fimfiction's Flashfic group is eligible to win – except me, since I'm the judge. As the contest's name suggests, there's a limit of 150 words on entries, which are submitted as comments in the contest thread. It's tough to write an interesting story in such a small space, but that's the idea.

A few months ago, I was on the edge of calling a halt, since entry numbers had sometimes dwindled to four. Things have picked up a little since then, so I expect Flashfic 150 to outlive Friendship is Magic, at least. If you're interested in having a go yourself this or any future month, you'll be very welcome!

* In terms of conventional prizes, at least. The winner does get the honour of choosing the following month's prompt, which serves as a slight compensation for the fact that the rules say no-one may win two months running.

Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Ponyfic Roundup 259

Read it Later story count: 247 (-1)

I don't have a lot to say here today, except that the Ashes begin tomorrow – so you can expect the occasional cricket-related comment on the blog again. Depending on England's performance, of course, which is never something to take for granted in either direction! As far as PR is concerned, I've reviewed three stories this time. It hasn't been a bad week, either.

How to Remove a Unicorn Tooth by Skywriter
Intellectual Property by AugieDog
We Were Bunnies by Heartshine

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

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Sounds of 2012: Nos. 90 to 84

It turns out that a late report from Cambridge Botanical Garden means that last Thursday was in fact the hottest day ever officially recorded in the UK, at 38.7 °C (101.7 °F). Whew. Anyway, it's now cool enough to return to Sounds of 2012. This week, I'm skipping music for the first time. That's because of my four rules. Summarised criteria for inclusion:

Rule 1: Still available in the same or (1b) similar form direct from the artist
Rule 2: Available from a third party, with reason to believe the artist is fine with this
Rule 3: So famous that it would be plain silly to leave it out
Rule 4: Being unlisted is not, on its own, grounds for exclusion

To compensate for the two songs one song I've had to skip this time around, I'm going a couple of entries past where I'd normally stop, so you're still getting five six tracks. Here's the run-down:

90: MandoPony – I Am No Hero
89: Forest Rain – Luna (Alt Mode)
88: skipped
87: Sim Gretina – Princess Of The Night
86: PrinceWhateverer & Acoustic Brony – Breaking Bonds
85: Aviators – Luna (Aviators Remix)
84: Sand Josieph – Daddy Discord

Past the cut for videos and details!

Monday, 29 July 2019

Equestria Girls: Nearly Over and Nearly Out

With the US broadcast of "Sunset's Backstage Pass" (which yes, I'll try to get at least a mini-review of up this week), it appears that we're almost at the end of the road as far as the Equestria Girls sub-franchise is concerned. According to Nick Confalone, there will be no more specials – a season finale was planned but has been set aside, and there doesn't seem any real hope for a third season either. There are more shorts to come, but that would appear to be all.

Also in HumanHorseWorld, news of another background same-sex couple. It would be much better if these things could be right out in the open, of course, and it's right that people keep pressing for that. But I think it is progress to get to this point. Not enough progress, but progress nevertheless. Even so... I wonder whether G5 might finally take the plunge and give us some explicitly LGBT characters. If Arthur can do it, then so can My Little Pony.

Friday, 26 July 2019

Meltinggggg

The UK recorded its hottest ever July day, and second-hottest on record, yesterday, with Cambridge hitting 38.1 °C. That's 100.6 °F for those of you who still work in Fahrenheit – only the second time hitting three figures has happened, too. And remember, home AC is barely used in this country, so the day was pretty hard going for many of us. Admittedly it reached a mere 32.5 °C (90.5 °F) in my neck of the woods, but even that was the highest I'd recorded for three years.

For this reason, I haven't had the energy to do any work on this blog, so all you're getting today is a note to the effect that the Pocket Ponies mobile game has received an update. I haven't had the chance to play the new levels yet, but I understand Fluttershy plays a significant role. This is a Good Thing.

Wednesday, 24 July 2019

Ponyfic Roundup 258

Read it Later story count: 248 (nc)

With temperatures going past 30 °C again this week, I'm taking things as easily as I can. The fan's on full blast, but it's still not much fun – and opening the window only makes things even warmer! Even so, I've somehow managed to get through five fics this time around. Okay, several are really short, but hay. They are:

The Quest by iisaw
Seeking Love in Laughter by Leafdoggy
Though the Present is Never Perfect, She Bought the Perfect Present by Star Destroyer
I Am a Pegasus by Tranquil Serenity
I Dream Of Dashie (But I Wish I Didn't) by Eskatarina

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

Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Season 9A – the UK of Equestria rankings

Since we're in the mid-season hiatus, it's also been time for the members of UK of Equestria to vote for their favourite and least favourite episodes of the first half of this final season. As in previous years, voters were required to rank all the episodes, with no ties permitted. The double-length premiere was treated as a single episode for these purposes, and Rainbow Roadtrip was not included. We had 13 voters this year, which is fewer than for 8A but more than for 7A.

I've divided the episodes into tiers on the basis of their mean rankings. One notable feature this year is that there are no one-star episodes, which I informally defined as eps with an average rating below 10. ("Sweet and Smoky" scored 9.846.) My own rankings are in brackets after the episode name; as you'll note, the one really major difference I have from the average is that I ranked "Sweet and Smoky" much higher than the average (Fluttershy bias? What Fluttershy bias?)

★★★★★
1. Frenemies (1)

★★★★
2. Between Dark and Dawn (5)
3. The Beginning of the End (2)
4. Sparkle's Seven (3)
5. Student Counsel (4)

★★★
6. The Last Crusade (7)
7. Common Ground (8)

★★
8. The Point of No Return (10)
9. Going to Seed (9)
10. She's All Yak (12)
11. Uprooted (11)
12. Sweet and Smoky (6)

Number of times each episode placed first
9: Frenemies
2: Sparkle's Seven
1: Between Dark and Dawn
1: She's All Yak

Number of times each episode placed last
4: She's All Yak
4: Sweet and Smoky
3: The Point of No Return
2: Going to Seed

Most controversial (highest standard deviation)
1. Sparkle's Seven
2. She's All Yak
3. The Last Crusade

Least controversial
1. Between Dark and Dawn
2. Frenemies
3. Uprooted

There's no doubt about UK of E's favourite episode: "Frenemies" has a clear lead over anything else, and apart from one person who placed it seventh everyone else put it in their top three. "Between Dark and Dawn" made everyone's top six, though only one voter picked it as their winner. At the other end of the table, I was really surprised (and frankly more a little disappointed) to see "Sweet and Smoky" get the wooden spoon. No fewer than seven of the 13 voters ranked it in their bottom two. (I had it in sixth spot.)

This half-season's "most controversial episode" award was also one that startled me. "Sparkle's Seven" did not get the unmixed praise on UK of E that it did in some other parts of the fandom, with four voters placing it in the bottom half. "She's All Yak" also split opinion, as did "The Last Crusade", whose controversy centred on Scootaloo's parents rather than her aunts. Meanwhile, the top two's consistent placing won them the top two spots in the "least controversial" list, too. "Uprooted" was the other ep to appear there, with all but two voters ranking it between eighth and 11th.

I get the sense that S9A has been quite well received so far – that's a British "quite", not an American one! – and that, while there's only one episode that seems set to be counted among the classics ("Frenemies") there haven't been any "Non-Compete Clause"-style disasters either. The season so far seems to be being seen as solid and better than S8, but perhaps falling a little short of the blockbuster feel that you might hope for from the very last season we'll ever see. Perhaps part two will provide that!

Sunday, 21 July 2019

Well, there's a few themed Ponyfic Roundups sorted!

Super Trampoline's FimFiction Feghoot Festival closed yesterday (barring any entries allowed extensions) and, once judging is over, I rather fancy the idea of reviewing some of them here. I've been slacking on the themed PRs front in recent months, and this seems a decent way to do something about them. Since there have been over 60 contest entries, I don't think I'm going to be reviewing all of them. I'll see how the results are announced first and then make a decision.

Those with long memories may recall that back in the early days of Ponyfic Roundup, I reviewed the 20+ finalists of the Equestria Daily "Outside Inside" competition, which asked entrants to write about ponies from a non-pony point of view. (See PRs 25, 26, 27 and 28.) It was pretty interesting, but it was also pretty time-consuming. On the other hoof, that contest had a higher word limit. I make no promises, and it's unlikely I'll end up reviewing all the entrants, though I'd like to read more than just the winners.

Ideally, I'd finish this post with a terrible pun, but you know what I'm like. Instead, here's a terrible pone.

Friday, 19 July 2019

Sounds of 2012: Nos. 95 to 91

It's long past time I got back to Sounds of 2012, my look back at Everfree Radio's brony-voted Top 100 tracks from that year's fandom output. As before, whether I include a song or not will be guided by these four rules. I'll repeat the potted version of these; I may do that for every post, but I'm not promising anything. Here:

Rule 1: Still available in some form direct from the artist
Rule 2: Available from a third party, with reason to believe the artist is fine with this
Rule 3: So famous that it would be plain silly to leave it out
Rule 4: Being unlisted is not, on its own, grounds for exclusion

I'm bringing you five more tunes today! Here's what you'll see lower down this post:

95: TeiThePony – Twilight's New Stockings
94: Freewave – Balloons in my Basket (Freewave's Deep Thoughts Remix)
93: Whitetail – MLP Fighting is Magic – Pinkie Pie Theme
92: Pony1Kenobi – The Party Hasn't Ended
91: All Levels At Once – Go Take Flight

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Ponyfic Roundup 257

Read it Later story count: 248 (-2)

Be warned: now I know there's at least one fellow cricket fan (The Cloptimist) around these parts, there may well be further references to the sport on the blog. Especially with the Ashes coming up. I don't think there are any in today's Ponyfic Roundup reviews, though. I suppose I may have put one in there without knowing, so do let me know if so. Okay, four fics to look at this time, and they are:

Dreaming with Ponies by ROBCakeran53
Fire Burns Both Ways by Impossible Numbers
Rewashed by DrakeyC
Luna's Coffee by Freedom

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

Monday, 15 July 2019

Cricket and other updates

First, cricket: England are World Champions! This is the first time we've ever won the men's World Cup (the women's team are the current holders) and it was an absolutely thrilling match. I watched pretty much all of it on TV, and I was absolutely drained by the end. England and New Zealand were absolutely evenly matched, and we were frankly a bit fortunate. But I'll take it! The tennis wasn't exactly boring, either, though that sport does rank a bit below cricket in my affections.

In actual My Little Pony news, your host here has actually done some damn writing for once. I really am out of practice, and things aren't flowing in the way they did a few years ago, but if I can just get back to writing at least a little something every day then maybe I can haul myself back up to where I used to be. I won't go into great deal here about exactly what I've been writing, as I'd like to save that for a separate post at some point. You can always wander over to Fimfiction and see for yourself.

On which note, The Danger Within remains "On Hiatus" rather than "Cancelled", and that's a deliberate decision. Every so often I consider that status, and each time I decide that I'd be sad to abandon the story entirely. Similarly, a story I've had in mind since late Season 7 remains on my to-do list – and unlike some other things on that list, I expect that eventually it will actually get done. Finally, you may start to see me writing for the Flashfic 150 prompts again. Obviously as the judge I can't win, but I'd be doing it for fun.

Just three weeks until the (US) hiatus ends and we embark on the last leg of the Friendship is Magic ride we will ever have – at least as far as official TV episodes are concerned. Hardly a startling or original thing to say, but I do hope the show will go out on a high.

Saturday, 13 July 2019

Another heads-up!

Apparently episodes up to 18, and possibly 19 (I'm not sure about that one) are now floating around the internet thanks to Chinese TV. So far I've managed to stay completely ignorant of the contents of anything past episode 14, and with a fairly short US hiatus this season I'm keeping hooves crossed that it stays that way. At any rate, give your spoiler shields another check-over!

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Ponyfic Roundup 256

Read it Later story count: 250 (nc)

And it's back! Yes, Hearth's Warming Eve Ponyfic Roundup is here once again. My arm is hurting for no apparent reason, so I'm not going to waffle as much as usual. (*sounds of cheering*) Here are today's three fics:

The Starlit Promise by Lucky Dreams
A Special Offer From Shutterfly! by Estee
Odd Jobs by GravityDefyingCoffeeMug

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

Monday, 8 July 2019

Sounds of 2012: Nos. 100 to 96

It's taken a while, but here we are at long last! To refresh your memories, in the "Sounds of..." series, I go through the Everfree Radio Top 100 for that year and feature each song along with a paragraph of text and (if relevant) where you can buy a high-quality version of the track. Well, I say each song, but there are certain exceptions. For the 2012 edition, I've come up with four rules to guide whether a song is included. You can read about them in full in my earlier post, but in brief:

Rule 1: Still available in some form direct from the artist
Rule 2: Available from a third party, with reason to believe the artist is fine with this
Rule 3: So famous that it would be plain silly to leave it out
Rule 4: Being unlisted is not, on its own, grounds for exclusion

Since I joined the My Little Pony fandom in the spring of 2012, I'm expecting quite a few nostalgia hits this time around. The songs I'll feature in this first post, with artist name listed before song title as in the 2011 series, are as follows:

100: Twitch vs. Pinkie Pie – Welcome
99: Sim Gretina – Equestria Girls
98: Awkward Marina – Deejay Just Like Me
97: Foozogz – ,​~​*​Smile​!​*​~​, (Rmx VIP)
96: Aviators – The Real Me


Come past the cut for the songs themselves, plus some more details!

Saturday, 6 July 2019

Beware, beware, you Pony folk – these early releases are not a joke!

I think we all knew this was coming... according to Littleshy, Chinese TV is continuing with its broadcasts of the second half of Friendship is Magic Season 9. They're already up to episode 16 and show no signs of stopping. This means we probably need to steel ourselves for the series finale being available in the wild long before its Discovery Family premiere. And that in turn means that the likelihood of unmarked spoilers is going to go through the roof.

As far as Louder Yay goes, I will do my level best to avoid these spoilers and to stop them appearing on this blog. I intend to keep episode reviews (and Text Review Roundup) running on the DF schedule. I'd like to request your help in this: if you watch a Chinese release then please don't say anything about it in the comments here, however great (or terrible) you think it was. Ideally, don't even say whether or not you liked it. You can do that once the US air date arrives.

Thank you!

Friday, 5 July 2019

Text Review Roundup: Rainbow Roadtrip

You'll have noticed that I've skipped Ponyfic Roundup this week. This is to allow me to catch up with reviews of Rainbow Roadtrip and "Sunset's Backstage Pass" (the latter is likely to appear here on Monday). The Cloptimist points out that the EqG special hasn't aired in the US yet, so in fact that will wait. Either way, I'll be returning to fanfic next Wednesday instead. And now this:

Yes, it's Text Review Roundup time. Quite a few of the regular text-based reviewers didn't write up their thoughts for this one, but enough did to make a TRR worthwhile. It's fair to say that nobody listed here was exactly blown away by Rainbow Roadtrip, although the balance of opinion was on the positive side of neutral. The slow pacing was a common complaint (with the notable exception of DrakeyC) but the character moments were more appreciated.

Dark Qiviut – broadly positive ("way too long [to get going] and the lack of humor makes this plot develop bland and way too simple [plus] songs aren't the best [but] Everyone's in character [and it's] so wholesome [...] charming, heartfelt, and warm [...] a very pleasant surprise")

DrakeyC – positive ("a fun little thing [...] felt kinda like a Gen 1 adventure [...] intro song was fine, the mayor's song was awful, last song was fine. Ending was FEELS CENTRAL [...] basically an hour-long episode, but it was a very good episode [...] didn't feel padded or dragged to fill its run time")

JDPrime22 – positive (rated 9/10; "a pleasant surprise! [...] Though the animation isn't as smooth as the movie, it's still welcome nonetheless [...] music was also top-notch [but the special] tends to drag on a bit")

Louder Yay – fairly positive (rated 3/5; "A very good, Pony-appropriate moral [with] Some nicely varied guest characters [and] Attractive animation [but] Pedestrian pacing [and] Songs a notch below the show's best")

Mike Cartoon Pony – broadly positive ("special might be a bit of a misnomer [and it's] indecently long [but it] meets its simple but nuanced goals really, really well [and has] writing with no lapses or inconsistencies that acquits itself and its characters really well")

MLEEP Reviews – largely positive (rated 8/10; "a very slow burn [and] may be targeted for a much younger audience [than the 2017 film, but] I am so glad to see that [Kerfuffle] being an amputee wasn't made into a big deal [...] a sweet but fun story with some beautiful animation and memorable new characters")

Present Perfect – mixed ("seeing the squishy ToonBoom animation on the small screen [...] was weird [...] heavily G3-inspired [...] pretty much every pony introduced in this special is the best pony ever. Except Barley and Pickle [... the Mayor's song was] a really good song, oh my god [...] the plot was pretty dull overall")

The Railfan Brony – negative (rated Bad; "doesn't even feel at all like a special [...] just drags on [...] The theme about helping others does work out, however [but the special] felt as colorless as Hope Hollow [despite some good character moments]")

TheDragonWarlock – broadly negative (rated 5/10; "Although the characters, new and Mane 6, end up being well written, has a solid premise, and some world building, it can't save the special with its abysmal pacing, lack of comedy, and plot holes making it end up as gray and dull as Hope Hollow itself")

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

FiM special review: Rainbow Roadtrip

I'm aware that episode 14 was released early in China. I haven't seen it, so please don't say anything about it in the comments. Thank you!

"And the winner of Most Awesome Cyan Pegasus is..."
For only the second time in Friendship is Magic's history, we have a special outside the show's regular seasons. This latest one was a little different from last year's "Best Gift Ever", however. While that was simply a double-length episode animated in Flash, Rainbow Roadtrip was by all accounts a cut-down version of what Movie 2 might have been. It didn't have the series' opening credits, it was 60 minutes long – and it was animated in Toon Boom Harmony by Boulder Media rather than DHX.

If Rainbow Roadtrip had been announced this time last year, I suspect the reveal of Kim Beyer-Johnson as its writer might have caused some serious disquiet. At the time, she was known only for the widely panned "Non-Compete Clause". However, with Beyer-Johnson having at least partially redeemed herself with the considerably superior "Sweet and Smoky" a few weeks ago, I went into Rainbow Roadtrip with a reasonable amount of optimism. And as things turned out...

Sunday, 30 June 2019

Rainbow Roadtrip: I'll get to it!

I've now seen Rainbow Roadtrip.* It will be a little while before I get it reviewed here, though, partly because I want to watch it again and 60 minutes of Pony obviously takes longer to rewatch than 22 minutes! I also endured a nightmare journey home yesterday in 32 °C heat with the railways falling apart around me, so I was simply too exhausted to do anything about the special until this afternoon.

* Italics rather than quotes as it feels like a cut-down film to me, rather than a lengthened episode.

Friday, 28 June 2019

Text Review Roundup: "Between Dark and Dawn"

Zack Warner (aka The Railfan Brony) commented last week to alert me to Scyph's review of "The Last Crusade". It's an interesting and quite in-depth review that takes a fairly critical line on the theme of "This episode could have been so much more". Unfortunately Scyph doesn't seem to be a regular MLP reviewer, otherwise I'd have added them to the TRR roster.

Here we go with the final TRR of the first half of S9. I'll be doing one for "Rainbow Roadtrip", and the show people may decide that counts as an episode as "Best Gift Ever" did, but it's going to be a bit different from the usual 22-minute instalments nevertheless. After that, there'll be a few weeks of hiatus. I'll probably kick off "Sounds of 2012" during that period. I'll get round to the latest Equestria Girls special at some point, too, though I keep forgetting it exists which maybe isn't the best sign.

As far as "Between Dark and Dawn" went, the text-based reviewers were a pretty mixed bag. A couple really liked it, two reviewers really disliked it, but everyone else was somewhere in the middle or slightly above. There was general agreement that the song was good – even The Railfan Brony said that in his otherwise very negative review, leaving Present Perfect as the only reviewer here who actively disliked it. Most reviewers also considered the Twilight secondary plot to be somewhat dull. I was again in the main pack but near the back of it.

Cuddlepug – mildly positive (graded B-; "great song [...] enjoyable, even if it ultimately fails to say very much")

Dark Qiviut – very positive ("Great humor, great characterization, and great heart [...] The little details add extra shape")

DrakeyC – mostly positive ("a fun episode, love the sisterly dynamic between Celestia and Luna, and they gave us lots of fun moments. And we got a SISTERS SONG [but] Where this episode really didn't work was the B plot")

Dramamaster829 – positive ("the side plot [was] forgettable [but] a sweet and endearing tale featuring two soon-to-be former rulers of Equestria")

JDPrime22 – positive (rated 9/10; "This episode was a blast! Aside from Fancy Pants not stating early on that the princesses relied on the Canterlot Gala Committee [...] this episode was great")

Lightening McQueen – positive ("great [...] Twilight sounded a bit stubborn not wanting Fancy Pants' help [...] the song "Lotta Little Things" was so lovely")

Louder Yay – mixed (rated 3/5; " It was odd, and in both good and bad ways [...] a Celestia/Luna duet and boy was it entertaining [...] A nice way of doing the old "Luna doesn't understand modern life" trope [but] Twilight really should not need to learn yet again how to delegate")

Mike Cartoon Pony – mixed ("enjoyable in the moment but leaves a borderline-incomprehensible impression once it has wrapped, not helped by the quality frequently veering back and forth between cloud-breaking highs and trench-deep lows")

MLEEP Reviews – positive (rated 9/10; "hammy playfulness [but the secondary plot] got old really fast [...] still a fun-filled and heartwarming road trip")

Present Perfect – very negative ("Neither Celestia nor Luna has gotten any real respect since about season two [...] Why do I feel like the plot is a mishmash of numerous other, better episodes? [...] I just hope I never see this again, it’s one of the worst episodes of the show’s run.")

The Railfan Brony – very negative (rated Atrocious; "The only good aspect about this episode is Celestia and Luna's duet [but it's] one of the most abysmally written episodes of the entire series [...] retreading old ground [...] unfortunate implications, and an uninteresting end result")

TheDragonWarlock – positive (rated 9/10; "The writing is great with solid characterization, the comedy is just as good, and it manages to take a concept that sounds cliche and make it work very well [though it] does suffer some issues like Fancy Pants still being a jerk")

Thursday, 27 June 2019

Ponyfic Roundup 255

Read it Later story count: 250 (-4)

Now there's a milestone: this is the first time since I started keeping score that the number of my RiL list entries has been lower than the number of its contemporary Ponyfic Roundup edition. Although my list has shrunk by four, I have only the three fics to review this week, but they are a moderately mixed bag. Here's the list:

Berry Bitters and Apple Sours by King of Beggars
An Ordinary Day by alt-tap
The Flirt by Sir Hat

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

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Episode review: S9E13: "Between Dark and Dawn"

I do wonder whether the FlimFlams' problems have something to do with Capper
And here we are. Although there's a special coming down the tracks pretty soon, "Between Dark and Dawn" was the last regular episode of Friendship is Magic before our last ever mid-season hiatus. This one saw a new writer: Gail Simone. Although she's new to My Little Pony, many comic-book fans will be familiar with her from her work on Birds of Prey, Batgirl and so on. How would she fare with a TV-Y kids' show? Well...

Sunday, 23 June 2019

Yes, it's meta time again!

Another very, very busy weekend for me (steam trains again!) so this is another week when blog publication days are shifted back a little. I hope to have the episode review up on Tuesday, Ponyfic Roundup on Thursday and Text Review Roundup on Friday – but I'm so tired right now that I can't entirely guarantee those dates. I'll post all of them as soon as I can get the time (and energy), of course. :)

Thursday, 20 June 2019

Text Review Roundup: "The Last Crusade"

Time for today's TRR. Before going any further, I ought to mention that The Railfan Brony quite frequently refers to episodes of Thomas [the Tank Engine] and Friends. I haven't watched that show since the days when Ringo Starr was the narrator, so I never pick out those phrases to include here. If you do know Thomas, you might find it interesting to read TRB's reviews and note those passages yourself.

Anyway, "The Last Crusade" was generally well received, with only one featured reviewer actively disliking the ep – though in all fairness I must say that I know of at least three other people who were distinctly unimpressed. Two were Soge and Griffin, whose thoughts you can read in my review's comments, and a third is someone who as far as I know hasn't mentioned their view publicly and so will remain unnamed here.

Aunts Lofty and Holiday gained widespread praise and were often considered the best things in the episode. However, quite a few reviewers had reservations when it came to the portrayal of Scootaloo's parents. I was irritated by this more than some reviewers, which meant my overall assessment was a little more negative than the average, though still a long way from being damning.

Cuddlepug – very positive (graded A; "emotionally fraught [...] you'd be forgiven for shedding a tear or two [...] During Pride, [Scootaloo's aunts are] especially welcome. [...] You couldn't have asked for a more satisfying end to [the CMCs'] story.")

Dark Qiviut – very positive ("I love Last Crusade! Not my favorite of the series, but my favorite of the season thus far, and I argue (barely) the best of the season, too.")
Not a full review, for reasons outlined here

DrakeyC – positive ("cool they did it [Scoot's aunts] I very much appreciate the episode thoroughly disproves Scootabuse [...] stock CMC comical filly antics")

Dramamaster829 – broadly positive ("[The episode proves] how important [the CMCs'] friendship is to the show [Scoot's parents'] communication skills are lackluster [...] I think [Rainbow Dash] was just thrown in just for appearances [Scoot's aunts] were very engaging characters with awesome chemistry")

JDPrime22 – fairly positive (rated 8/10; Why [Scootaloo] didn't even mention [her parents] once over the past NINE SEASONS is beyond me [...] this message was fairly strong, her parents letting Scootaloo decide for herself [...] Oh, and Diamond Tiara exists again, remember her?")

Lightening McQueen – positive ("very good, but also emotional [...] helped me fully realise that there is nothing wrong with some people being gay, and it is fine to show gay couples in kids' media [...] happy with how everything worked out in the end")

Louder Yay – positive with substantial reservations (rated 3/5; "I'm not sure I can fully reconcile [this and "Parental Glideance"] I liked that little observation [about the CMC's cutie marks] As with one or two other Dubuc episodes, there's a slight lack of coherence to this one [but] the aunts have annoyed a whole bunch of people who needed to be annoyed, and that counts for something :D")

Mike Cartoon Pony – largely positive ("a swansong to the CMC [...] Snap Shutter and Mane Allgood are not presented in the most positive light [...] Holiday and Lofty are wonderful characters, absolute sweethearts [the second act is] mostly just pushing the plot on autopilot [...] has to settle for being "good" rather then the show masterpiece it might have been")

MLEEP Reviews – very positive (rated 9/10; "so great to finally meet Scootaloo's family at last [...] I absolutely love how it's Scootaloo's aunts that are the ones that help the CMC realize the solution to the conflict")

Present Perfect – positive ("I love how much personality they crammed into [Scootaloo's aunts] part of me wants to slam this episode for being nothing but “hey, kids!” moments [but the episode was] done tastefully and with style")

The Railfan Brony – negative (rated Terrible; "It's nice to see [Scoot] hype [her parents] up as cool [and her aunts are] very progressive in a kid's show [but the episode] very much goes for the "Status Quo is God" trope, which is one of the worst [and] the end result is really frustrating")

TheDragonWarlock – positive (rated 9/10; "may arguably be the best Cutie Mark Crusader episode [...] brings some nice closure [though] the way [her parents] try to get Scootaloo to come to terms with the big move is well...cold [...] It really is a great way to end the CMC though")

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Ponyfic Roundup 254

Before I get on with Ponyfic Roundup itself, I ought to give a quick signal boost to The Fimfiction Feghoot Festival, run by Super Trampoline. This is now open and runs until 14th July. You'll need a Fimfiction account to enter, but otherwise it's open to all-comers. There are actual real prizes for this one, too! (A feghoot is a short story ending in a terrible pun that's been set up by the story itself.)

Read it Later story count: 254 (nc)

Three stories this week, which is three more than I would have if I'd reviewed none at all but half as many as I'd have if I'd reviewed them all twice and pretended they were different fics. See you in St Ives.

Misadventures in Manehattan by The Princess Rarity
Now Hiring by miss-cyan
The Brief, Torrid Love-Affair of Fernando the Straw and Madame Le Flour by CoffeeMinion

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

Monday, 17 June 2019

Episode review: S9E12: "The Last Crusade"

Scootaloo and family. I don't think Derpy and co count!
Ah, finally! As most of the MLP-watching world will know, "The Last Crusade" made the mainstream news headlines last week. That made it bloody hard for me to avoid mentioning it until now! (Well, actually until yesterday evening, as I have a 24-hour blackout period on Twitter.) But at last I can post this review. The episode was written by Nicole Dubuc, whose record with me has been variable. Read on to discover my thoughts this time.

Thursday, 13 June 2019

Text Review Roundup: "Student Counsel"

Time to be awesome getting on with this week's Text Review Roundup, I feel. I never quite know from week to week whether TRR is going to go up on Thursday or Friday, but I suppose it doesn't really make much difference. In any case, we'll be into the very last mid-season hiatus soon, though some of that will be filled by the FiM special that's on its way. Who knows what Italian TV will do, though? For all I know they'll have shown the series finale by August!

Going back to "Student Counsel", the text-based reviewing crowd covered a fair range of assessments. For the second time in recent weeks, MLEEP was unimpressed, something quite notable from this usually sunny reviewer. The Railfan Brony didn't like the ep either. At the other end of the scale, DrakeyC loved it and Present Perfect judged this his favourite episode of S9 thus far. My own review was in the the pack, albeit towards the back of it.

Cuddlepug – fairly positive (graded B; "surprisingly relatable for older audiences [...] the message isn't necessarily encouraging [...] Funny dialogue and strong interactions")

Dark Qiviut – broadly positive ("spends a good amount of time gradually building tension [...] dialogue was also top-notch, adding to both the humor and drama [...] really good lesson [but Silverstream's late admission] all but made Starlight's stress over "not doing her job" pointless and marginalizes the moral")

DrakeyC – very positive ("great from the first scene [...] they actually made [Mudbriar] funny this time [...] great comedy, a good adventure, and a good moral")

Dramamaster829 – positive with reservations ("this is why I enjoy [Starlight and Trixie] as ‘flawed protagonists’ [...] Maud Pie and Mudbriar are definitely enjoyable to watch [but the] lack of communication as to where [Silverstream] was going to go did put not only her counselor in danger, but also her friends")

JDPrime22 – fairly positive (rated 8/10; "DWK is gonna lose his freakin' mind [...] seriously? You're at least not gonna tell anyone where you are, Silverstream?) [...] We got a redemption for the cockatrice... kind of. Yeah, this was a weird one. Maud stole the show, though.")

Lightening McQueen – positive ("quite enjoyable having the focus on Starlight, and the number of secondary characters appearing [...] funny how Smolder cheekily burnt all of the pages in Gallus' book [...] great character development for Starlight")

Louder Yay – mildly positive (rated "just" 3/5; "a slightly odd episode [...] not everything gelled perfectly [... S&T's] characters complement each other so well [...] not sure Silverstream was entirely convincing [...] I never thought I'd say this, but I rather liked Mudbriar")

Mike Cartoon Pony – mixed ("As most of this unveils, it does so rather dully [...] Maud and Mudbriar were the standouts [...] moral of basically balancing your work and personal life doesn't come across with much real nuance [though it did] stick the landing [...] a plentiful selection of good comedy too")

MLEEP Reviews – rather negative (rated 5/10; "Maud's usual brand of deadpan humor [but disliked Starlight] abandoning Silverstream in her time of need in order to attend a Spring Solstice party [and] for the first third of the episode, we have to sit through the same repetitive joke")

Present Perfect – very positive ("I am honestly floored by how much Maud and Mudbriar’s interactions and one-liners enhance the overall excellence of this episode [...] Trixie was perfect as perfect can be, it’s all about balancing life-work whatchamacallit, she just wants to spend time with her girlfriend.")

The Railfan Brony –  negative (rated Bad; "nothing new or interesting in regards to the story. The theme isn't new either [...] one of the most boring episodes of the entire show")

TheDragonWarlock – fairly positive (rated 8/10; "another solid Starlight episode [with] its own surprises [...] a rather good moral [...] I really question how time is working here now [...] feels like Silverstream is rather out of character")

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Ponyfic Roundup 253: Spotlight on Firebird Dahlia

Read it Later story count: 253 (-1)

Originally, I wasn't going to make Firebird Dahlia a Spotlight story. It was going to be one of several in the usual manner. But as time went on, it became clear that I had more I wanted to say about the fic than I could fit in even a longish single paragraph. As ever with Spotlit stories, there's a non-spoilery review up here, followed by some more detailed (and more spoilery!) comments further down the page.

Firebird Dahlia by The Albinocorn
Sunset Shimmer, Spitfire, OCs and Other
Drama/Slice of Life; 49k words; Jan 2015–Jun 2016; Everyone
Sunset goes home to Equestria to reconcile with her family. But ten years is a large bridge to gap, especially between sisters.
This is set after Rainbow Rocks, so Sunset is reformed and has friends in CHS-world, but returning to Equestria is still a huge deal. Especially given that her pony family lies in ruins, with her parents separated and her sister still furious and ice-cold over the incident that led to their rift ten years ago. (Ten years Equestrian: it's only been three for Sunset due to timey-wimey stuff.) And her sister is Spitfire. This is a sisterly pairing I've never seen before, and it actually works really well, especially as Sunset is the only unicorn in a family of pegasi; this does cause issues. There are a lot of flashbacks, through which we gradually learn the harsh truth of what happened to drive the sisters so far apart. Sunset also meets Celestia for the first time since she left Equestria. The fic really peaks around two-thirds of the way through, after which the rest is a tad on the predictable side, though it's still enjoyable thanks to solid character work – Sunset's parents are nicely drawn OCs, too. There's also a slightly bizarre but amusing late-story tie-in with "Make New Friends But Keep Discord", Smooze and all. If you really like Sunset, or indeed Spitfire, this is a must-read. For everyone else, it's still recommended. ★★★★

I have more to say about this one, but there will be major spoilers ahead. If you don't want to see those, please read no further!

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Episode review: S9E11: "Student Counsel"

"Rose... you do know it says 'Krastos Brand' on that bottle?"
Call me crazy if you like, but I think I might just have a go at reviewing a My Little Pony episode now. So... in "Mish Mash Melee", we see th— whoops, wrong gen. Cough. In fact, we have "Student Counsel" to consider now. This was a Josh Haber episode, so I was expecting some fun scenes, perhaps a monster and probably something I found a little irritating too. Past the break, I'll say rather more about the episode.

Saturday, 8 June 2019

Episode review coming on Tuesday again

I've been out with friends for most of today, and though I had a good time I am now very tired. As such, I'll be watching the episode (again; I've already seen it thanks to the Italian releases) on Sunday and writing up the review on Monday. No other big changes planned. :)

Thursday, 6 June 2019

Text Review Roundup: "Gone to Seed"

It's that time of the week again, so let's get on with the latest TRR. You know, I'm going to miss writing up this feature when the show's finally over and done with. It's nothing very special, but as far as I know there's nobody else out there who does anything quite like this. Video-based reviews are where it's at for most people, but as everyone knows I'm not most people. Going to try to keep the extracts a bit shorter this week!

For this episode, the text-based reviewers were generally clustered around the middle ground. With the exception of MLEEP, who loved it, nobody either adored or detested this one. To some extent, its reception depended on how reviewers felt about a rather slow-paced, down-home episode with a small cast and no real thrills. My own assessment was in the pack, albeit in the upper half of it, on this occasion.

Cuddlepug – positive with reservations (graded B-; "well-written and interesting [but] a fairly silly outcome that isn't entirely believable [and is] a massive anti-climax. Still, everything up until the last couple of minutes is grand")

Dark Qiviut – mixed ("The first half is loaded with exposition [...] Until the end of the flashback, it was really slow and bland [but] the rest of the episode picks up from there, focusing on Apple Bloom and AJ's bond.")

DrakeyC – rather negative ("I'm not sure what this episode was supposed to be because there was a lot of disparate elements here that didn't really gel")

Dramamaster829 – mildly positive ("a simplistic story where nothing is truly at stake, except perhaps the spirit of youth [...] I’ve learned three things to never discuss: Religion, politics, and the Great Seedling.")

JDPrime22 – fairly positive (rated 7/10; "a fairly interesting episode [...] Gotta love them deer (are they pets or are they their own intelligent species?)")

Lightening McQueen – positive ("The Great Seedling is such an interesting legend [...] wonderful that we get to see yet another flashback featuring Applejack's parents [...] moral was pretty good")

Louder Yay – fairly positive (rated 3/5; "There's nothing especially extraordinary about "Gone to Seed", but it's solid and nicely crafted and has a pretty decent message when all's said and done.")

Mike Cartoon Pony – broadly positive ("at its best when its portraying Applejack well and enjoying its time with her and Apple Bloom [...] the episode's a bit of an apple itself: simple and largely unremarkable, but healthy and good for you, and with its sell-by-date well in the future")

MLEEP Reviews – very positive (rated 10/10; "it had great music, it had a wonderful theme and there's something about the bluntness of the Apple Family that's actually very refreshing")

Present Perfect – positive ("certainly a fair sight better than any of [AJ's] solo or duo episodes since… Season 5? [...] solidly middle-of-the-road, gave us some fun stuff to watch, and had a pretty good moral [...] the Great Seedling's design is fantastic")

The Railfan Brony – rather negative (rated Bad; "nothing really happens [...] The characters and theme in general were fine, but the story's pretty slow-paced with nothing spectacular going on.")

TheDragonWarlock – rather negative (rated 5.5/10; "The plot is predictable, but not done in a fun way, the writing is mediocre, and the whole thing feels so boring and uneventful [...] Dave Rapp really never found his stride with FiM")

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

Ponyfic Roundup 252

Read it Later story count: 254 (+3)

My RiL list has grown this week, more so than it has for a long time. Curse those recommendations from friends and other reviewers! Anyway, I actually managed to read the story I trailed last week, so yay for that. I even managed to read some other stuff as well, so double yay. (Can you do that? Can you yay twice?) Today's selection of equine entertainment is as follows:

The Motion of the Stars by Carabas
Just an Old Fool by Minds Eye
"Daleks Have No Concept of Friendship!" by RainbowDoubleDash
Continue? by naturalbornderpy

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

Monday, 3 June 2019

Episode review: S9E10: "Gone to Seed"

I almost missed this lovely touch, but AB is doing a Pinkie Promise here
I should probably mention before going any further that I now have seen the Italian early releases, since I found versions with English soundtracks. I will of course not be even hinting at any spoilers for episodes that haven't yet aired on Discovery Family, so please don't anyone else do that either, not even in the comments. Thanks! Anyway, "Gone to Seed" was Dave Rapp's first episode since "The Parent Map". More relevantly perhaps, he also wrote "Where the Apple Lies" in S6. Past the break for more!

Friday, 31 May 2019

Griffish Isles, Final Thoughts

A few hours later than I'd intended this post to go up, but here's my final (planned) post about Griffish Isles for the time being. The con will be sending out official requests for feedback at some point in the near future, and I certainly intend to complete mine – but I also want to give some thoughts in public. So...

Edit: Whoops, forgot to include a page break! This is fairly long, so I'll add one now.

Thursday, 30 May 2019

Text Review Roundup: "Sweet and Smoky"

More than one reviewer has spelt the last name of this episode's title "Smokey", so I had to go back and check! I go by the on-screen title in the ep itself, and that's definitely "Smoky", so I'm sticking with that from here on in. :P Last week's "Frenemies" was overwhelmingly (though not quite universally) praised, which made it a bit of a hard act to follow for Kim Beyer-Johnson, especially given her rather disastrous debut episode of FiM. Most felt she'd improved drastically on that.

The reviewers were a little more mixed in their assessments of this episode than they were last week. Although most came out on the positive side of neutral, most also had at least one significant criticism. Fluttershy got really good press, though! You'll note that some of the quote sections are quite a bit longer than usual – there were just too many reviews where cutting the summary down to a line or two was nearly impossible! I'll try to get back to my usual succinctness next week.

Cuddlepug – negative (graded D; "a mean-spirited episode of Friendship is Magic that makes for an uncomfortable viewing experience [...] seeing bullies get away with shitty behaviour with very little punishment until the absolute end of the script isn't my idea of a good time.")

Dark Qiviut – broadly positive ("This episode has rough edges. There were areas that could've definitely been improved on, one of them making [the side dragons] less half-dimensional. [However c]haracters remained in character. Beyer-Johnson expands dragon lore more. [Spike,] Fluttershy, and Smolder share great moments, and Garble reforms.")

DrakeyC – positive with one big exception ("the individual components of this episode are all great [...] But... Garble. I wanna care about this redemption, I really do. But, I don't. And the reason is it isn't earned. [...] It was so satisfying to see Smolder and Fluttershy put him in his place at last.")

Dramamaster829 – mildly positive ("Because of all the cute and comedic moments that were displayed throughout the episode, I can forgive some of the episode’s own faults and abrupt choice of an ending so in a way I still had fun.")

JDPrime22 – broadly positive (rated 8/10; "Gotta say, the whole bullying Spike thing has really gotten old [but] mama Fluttershy really did steal the show (and Ember trying to imitate her was hilarious) [...] I thought the redemption was okay. At least it closes Garble's arc after so many damn seasons")

Lightening McQueen – positive ("It was great to see Ember again [...] Spike was great as well [...] The moral was pretty good too, being about how differences should be something to be proud of.")

Louder Yay – fairly positive (rated 3/5; "excellent to see Dragon Lord Ember again [...] Fluttershy [...] displayed a winning combination of adorableness and assertiveness [but] I was not especially impressed [with Garble, and t]he side-character dragons were pretty boring")

Mike Cartoon Pony – mixed ("vastly superior to Non-Compete Clause [though] far from great [...] I'm probably one of five people that doesn't detest or at least dislike Garble [...] Alas, this episode's attempt to craft a "redemption story" around him doesn't deliver [...] a shame, because otherwise, this one had a lot going for it. The characterisation of the 4 other main characters is quite unusually good")

MLEEP Reviews – mixed (rated 7.5/10; "Pros: Fluttershy [but the] ending felt like a seriously schmaltzy deus ex machina [...] never been a fan of Garble [...] an alright middle-of-the-road episode")

Present Perfect – very positive ("This was fantastic. [The ending was] was maybe the most surreal this show has ever been. [...] a good turn for Smolder, it’s always a joy seeing Ember, and Fluttershy was in top fucking form. [...] This was funny, it was clever, and it gave us a ton of Dragon Lands world-building.")

The Railfan Brony – fairly positive (rated Good; "Garble was very much one of the last characters I even considered redemption worthy. And yet... it works. [...] Even nicer was Fluttershy calling [Garble] out for being a bully to Spike for all those years [...] story and moral are pretty humdrum, but fortunately, the execution of both and the character moments pull through")

TheDragonWarlock – fairly positive (rated 7.5/10; "The ideas for this episode sound fantastic and I generally was very interested in this episode [but n]othing really gets explained much about what happens once the baby dragons are hatched [and] as far as [a] face turn goes, [Garble's] is probably the weakest one I've seen yet [...] it's really Spike and Fluttershy who are the main characters")

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Ponyfic Roundup 251

Read it Later story count: 251 (-4)

Another of those weeks when Logan didn't do any damn work have the time to read more than a few fics. Celestia knows how I'm ever going to get round to the longer stories that glare balefully at me from my RiL list. Nine Days Down has been languishing on there for ages. So has Contraptionology! And Firebird Dahlia. You get the idea. Still, something is better than nothing, right? There are three fics under the dodgy pound-shop microscope this week, and they are:

Discord's Garden by ChaoticKindness
Dat's Our Ragamuffin! by PresentPerfect
Hollow by Dustchu

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

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Episode review: S9E09: "Sweet and Smoky"

Smolder still loves her tea parties, though here with somewhat draconic manners!
So far, I've managed to avoid any details (beyond synopses) of what happens in the Italian early release episodes. I have gathered that there's at least one major spoiler in there, so hooves crossed that I can keep away from it until the time comes for its DF broadcast! Anyway, this week on DF we had "Sweet and Smoky". This was written by Kim Beyer-Johnson, previously infamous for the very disappointing "Non-Compete Clause". Could K B-J redeem herself with her new episode?