Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Episode review: S9E05: "The Point of No Return"

"You realise you've just brought me a thousand timeshare ads?"
Another milestone in the list of "finals" we'll be facing as Season 9 of Friendship is Magic wears on: last Saturday's episode was G. M. Berrow's last. She's been writing for the show since S5's "The One Pinkie Pie Knows", and her first MLP chapter book (also a Twilight one!) appeared way back in early 2013. Her episodes have generally been middling for me, but I was hopeful "The Point of No Return" would let her go out on a high? Did it? After the break we'll find out!

Monday, 29 April 2019

What if G5 isn't coming next after all?

My review of "The Point of No Return" will be up tomorrow. After a busy weekend I was simply too tired to write it up last night. Nothing dramatic!

We all know that Friendship is Magic will come to an end after Season 9. There may be a little Equestria Girls content thereafter, but I suspect most of us, including me, expect that this won't amount to more than a few shorts and conceivably a special or two. Most of us, including me, are also expecting that the 2021 film already announced by Hasbro will be some sort of an introduction to the new generation, at least an informal prequel to the subsequent G5 TV series.

But... what if it isn't? What if we do stick with G4 for longer? I don't, of course, mean FiM. That's not getting a reprieve. But a very interesting point was made the other day by The Feral Brony. He reminded us all that generation numbers have changed with toy lines, not with shows. The most obvious example of this is My Little Pony Tales. Very different from the earlier My Little Pony 'N Friends cartoon, so much so that many people refer to Tales as G2. But it's not. Tales is still G1.

Could it happen? Could we see history repeating itself with an equivalent of Tales, using a completely different setting but still producing toys that are recognisably of the same generation? After all, the G4 toy lines have made a lot of money for Hasbro. When they specify the designs of pony figures for the next film and then the series, might they decide to keep their look very close to what we have now and keep using the G4 designation? It's an intriguing thought.

There is another possibility, though. G4 is the first time that a generation of My Little Pony has had a cartoon at its core. Previously, the toys were what people talked about most, with the TV series most definitely secondary. No longer; since 2010, while Hasbro still want to sell plastic ponies, they need the exposure the cartoon gives. So I just wonder whether Hasbro might therefore dump their previous convention and call the new series G5 anyway, even if the toys continue to look similar.

Saturday, 27 April 2019

Simple fun and warmth and magic

People watch Game of Thrones because Winter is Coming.

And they watch My Little Pony... because tomorrow spring is here.
—Lets Do This

The other day, Friendmaker by Lets Do This was inducted into the Royal Canterlot Library. I was very pleased by this for several reasons. First of all, I think it's a really good story: I found it "very satisfying" when I reviewed it for Ponyfic Roundup 236. Secondly, Lets Do This is a relatively new author, having signed up for Fimfiction only in June 2018. I'm always pleased to see newcomers writing good stories.

And third... well, see that quote at the top of this post? That's from Lets Do This's RCL interview. I saw it and thought, "Yes." It's a perfect summation of why so many of us enjoy both MLP and what might be called more conventionally "grown-up" shows. I quoted it on Twitter (with LDT credited, of course) and it seemed to get plenty of interest, too. Still, much as I love those two lines, seeing them got me thinking a bit.

If you read this blog much, you may have noticed that from time to time I say that a fic or an episode or whatever felt like something from the old days. Occasionally that's a criticism, for example when a story is full of Lavender Unicorn Syndrome. More often, though, it's intended as a compliment. I mean that the piece in question harks back to simpler times in MLP, both show and fandom.

Yes, sure, the fandom began on 4chan, with all that that implies. But in fanfic especially, something I frequently notice about early works is that they're written with a very simple object: innocent fun. Free of the need to make stories complex and intense, there's a sense of playfulness about many of them that I'm not sure is quite as common today as I'd really like it to be, even if the best modern fics are often clever in different ways.

One small example is in the way writers use horse puns. I don't mean the obvious stuff like Neighagara Falls or Stalliongrad. I mean fun passing touches, such as characters using "Hay there!" instead of "Hey there!" or "foalish" instead of "foolish". When I see usages like that nowadays, they really feel like throwbacks, because they're no longer all that common. I may be out on a limb here, but I'd like to see that kind of thing return.

There are other ways, naturally. Lucky Dreams, an author I feel should have gained considerably more recognition, has 17 published stories, every one E-rated and some actually aimed at kids (itself a rarity in ponyfic). These tales are clever, but also warm and, well, magical. Of course that's not suitable for every kind of story, but I'd like to see some more in that vein without having to go back to 2012 to find them.

Perhaps it's just me. But I must say I'm glad of Lets Do This's reminder that not everything connected with Pony has to be deep and "grown-up" and deal with Great Issues to succeed. A story which leaves the reader feeling happy and warm inside can be just as valuable. It's in tune with Equestrian values, after all: as the Mane Six delighted in reminding Sombra the other week, in the ponies' world "friendship is magic!"

Thursday, 25 April 2019

Text Review Roundup: "Sparkle's Seven"

Time for another look at how the text-based reviewers saw the most recent episode of Friendship is Magic. In this case, of course, anticipation was high as it was episode 200. As we won't reach E250 before the show runs out of road, this will be the last major numeric milestone the show will reach. Not that that means very much, so let's move on.

This one got a generally very positive reception. The one big exception, The Railfan Brony, was a lone voice among this bunch. (I did see a few other dissenting voices in EqD comments, but they were very much in the minority.) Despite TRB's dislike, "Sparkle's Seven" was overall the most favourably reviewed episode since "What Lies Beneath".

I ended up being down at the lower end of the scale in terms of how much I liked it, despite the fact that I enjoyed it a lot! I said that it only missed a full five-star rating by a small amount, but my few gripes nevertheless made me pickier than a number of reviewers.

Cuddlepug – very positive (graded A-; "surprises and delights in unexpected ways [...] if you're a fan of [...] the friends going on adventures and working together, this is a grand example")

Dark Qiviut – extremely positive (rated A+). NB: no actual review that I could find this time; the grade is from an all-time all-series ranking.

DrakeyC – very positive ("Fantastic episode, perfect way to celebrate 200 episodes and the incredible voice actresses who made it possible.")

JDPrime22 – very positive (rated 10/10; "Oh, boy, did this episode deliver! [...] the ending to the episode is what truly makes it shine.")

Lightening McQueen – very positive ("It was really great! [...] Applejack's fantasy of her alter ego Apple Chord was sweet")

Louder Yay – very positive (rated 4/5; "I was delighted by how [the Spike plotline] was resolved [...] I'm not sure [Pinkie's fantasy] entirely worked [but] pacing of the episode seemed very good [...] excellent dialogue [...] a very solid, very entertaining story and a fitting E200.")

Mike Cartoon Pony – very positive ("easily one of the best post-Season-5 episodes and one of the few that can really stand up with that earlier era of Pony")

MLEEP Reviews – extremely positive (rated 10/10; "an emotional yet funny celebration of everything that has made 'Friendship Is Magic' the cultural phenomenon that it is today")

Present Perfect – very positive ("for an episode that written by committee, this was a lot of fun. Immensely entertaining, with no jokes that fell flat or brought out the cringe.")

The Railfan Brony – extremely negative (rated Terrible; "a boring, slow-paced slog [...] possibly the most stupid way to celebrate 199 200 episodes!")

TheDragonWarlock – wildly positive (rated 10/10; "I can't stress this enough; I love this episode. It's well written, has great character development, good comedy, and it has Spike at his absolute best yet.")

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Ponyfic Roundup 247

Read it Later story count: 256 (+1)

I'm afraid the Martian rock octopus interview fell through, so you're stuck with me talking about ponyfic. If you can overcome this crushing disappointment, you'll be able to see what I think of four more stories today. If your eyes have drifted down to the score summary, you'll note that I have the first five-star rating in quite some time, too! The fics are:

The Destiny Trap by Andrew Rogue
The Mare in Black by Stereo_Sub
Ghosts by Ponydora Prancypants
A Horse of a Different Color by Empty Shell

★: 0 | ★★: 1 | ★★★: 1 | ★★★★: 1 | ★★★★★: 1
Note: I use a skewed rating system. A fic I find average scores two stars.

Monday, 22 April 2019

Episode review: S9E04: "Sparkle's Seven"

Don't tell me you wouldn't watch this series
NB: this episode was originally advertised as "Twilight's Seven".

Fourscore and seven years ago, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic reached episode one hundred with the wildly over-the-top "Slice of Life". Here we are in 2019 and it's time for episode two hundred. While E100 was a thank you to the fans, E200 was trailed as being a thank you to the main voice actors, and indeed the Mane Six's and Spike's VAs were given "Story by" credits for this episode. How did it fare? Past the break, I'll have a look at just that.

Saturday, 20 April 2019

Griffish Isles 2019: Some places to get food

Last year, I wrote a guide to eating places near UK PonyCon. I'm going to try to do this again now for this year's Griffish Isles convention. It's going to be rather trickier, because the GI location is in a bit of a food desert, but I'll do my best. Note that I don't know the area at all, so I can't vouch for the quality of the non-chain places I mention. Note also that a couple of places on Google maps, eg Chancellors and the Delicious Deli, are not open at weekends.

It's probably best to note that a friend who's lived in Greater Manchester for years says that Ardwick is quite a rough area. I don't think it's anything to be too scared of as long as you're sensible, but it might be an idea not to go wandering about alone after dark. Okay, on to the guide. I've given directions from the daytime venue at the St Thomas Centre, as apparently the evening host at Powerleague does at least have bar snacks.

Click on the name of each eating place to see a Google Maps walking route from the St Thomas Centre. Personally I suspect I'll be going either to the Tesco Express or, if I want hot food, to McDonald's.

1. Convenience stores

Tesco Extra, Esso petrol station, Ardwick Green S, M13 9XF
Open 6am–10pm; 3 mins' walk

Spar, BP petrol station, Chancellor La, M12 6JZ
Open 24 hours; 10 mins' walk

2. Chain restaurants

McDonald's, Stockport Rd, M12 4AB
Open 24 hours; 11 mins' walk

Subway, Stockport Rd, M12 4AB
Open 10am–9pm; 13 mins' walk

NB: both these are on the A6, an extremely busy bus route.

3. Asian food

House of Beijing, Polygon St, M13 9SG (Chinese)
Open midday–10pm; 5 mins' walk
NB: this opened recently; Street View (from 2015) still shows derelict land!

Spicy Grill, Higher Ardwick, M12 6DB (Indian)
Open 11am–4pm

Thursday, 18 April 2019

Text Review Roundup: "Uprooted"

Here we go again with a look at what the text-based reviewers thought of the latest My Little Pony episode. As ever, I'd be interested to hear from anyone I haven't included who writes episode reviews. To be included in TRR, you'll need to have your reviews up by the Wednesday evening after each episode at the latest – which is why Mega Sean 45 isn't featured this week – and (naturally) to do them in writing, not in video format.

"Uprooted" was not as well received as the S9 premiere, and opinion was very divided among the text-based reviewers. We had everything from very positive to very negative, although for most people the episode ended up somewhere in between. My own assessment proved to be roughly in the middle of opinion overall.

Cuddlepug – rather negative (graded C+; "[the Young Six] fight and bicker for no real reason other than to fill the 22 minutes the episode requires. Only Yona, however, has  any sense")

Dark Qiviut – broadly positive ("it gets clumsy at points [but] a really good episode")

DrakeyC – very negative ("This episode is boring and annoying and serves no point but to set up the Treehouse of Friendship, both to sell its incoming playsets and for possible future plot developments that will fall flat on their faces.")

JDPrime22 – fairly positive (rated 8/10; "a pretty solid episode [but] Sandbar was an idiot")

Lightening McQueen – very positive ("a really nice continuation of [the S9 premiere]")

Louder Yay – mixed (rated 3/5 "just"; "a Young Six rehash of "Castle Sweet Castle" [...] moderately engaging [but] all felt a little empty and forgettable")

Mike Cartoon Pony – negative ("one of the show's most bland, neutral, nothings of an episode [... it's] boring, it's pointless even if it's setting up stuff for later, and the few fun or amusing moments it has don't linger in the mind at all")

MLEEP Reviews – positive (rated 8/10; "despite being a recycled rehash of Season 5's "Castle Sweet Castle" all over again with the same concepts and ideas, 'Uprooted' still made for a pretty great episode that was full of heart and emotion")

Present Perfect – negative ("The song was outrageously mediocre, and this episode was crap.")

The Railfan Brony – very positive (rated Excellent; "this was a really good episode and it fit the Young Six perfectly [although] the lack of originality held it back from being truly amazing")

TheDragonWarlock – mildly positive (rated 7/10; "While I feel this is a good episode, it had too many moments of the characters being moronic and it's basically a retread of Castle Sweet Castle.")

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Ponyfic Roundup 246

Read it Later story count: 255 (-5)

Not a lot to say today, so let's get straight to the stories. Three of them for your consideration today. (And I mean "for your consideration" in its straightforward sense, not in its "please give me an Oscar" sense.) Off we go.

Hell on Wheels by SaddleSoapOpera
Forbidden Melodies by Regocomics
We're Eggspecting! by Jay Bear v2

★: 0 | ★★: 1 | ★★★: 1 | ★★★★: 1 | ★★★★★: 0
Note: I use a skewed rating system. A fic I find average scores two stars.

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Pony Music Library 60: "Loveless Lovechild"

Hey look, two of these in the same month! Clearly the End Times are nigh. :P Don't get too used to this, though; you know what I'm like. This is a song I've been meaning to induct for a little while now, but other tracks get in the way. Not so today, so off we go!

What? "Loveless Lovechild"

Who? d.notive

Which? Original song

When? September 2013 (original YT upload; the public one now is from February 2014)

Why? This is the second d.notive song to be added to the PML, after the almost inevitable "Vicious Lies", and like that song "Loveless Lovechild" is a superbly catchy piece of darkly gripping synthesiser goodness. Originally described by d.notive as a spiritual successor to "VL", it's a song about Chrysalis. The first verse tells of her younger days, the second of her desire for revenge after the events of "A Canterlot Wedding". Back when this was written, that was still her only appearance, and the S6 finale lay far in the future. There's even a short sample from the S2 finale, used in a very effective manner.

You can get HQ versions on a name-your-price basis on d.notive's Bandcamp.

Monday, 15 April 2019

Episode review: S9E03: "Uprooted"

"I taught Yona shapeshifting! Though... she didn't wait to learn the undo spell. She's a tree now"
It's that time again when Logan rambles on aimlessly for a bit. Okay, that's all the time. But in this case, it means there's another Friendship is Magic episode review in the offing. I was interested to see how the first "regular" S9 ep would turn out, and the synopsis certainly piqued my interest. The writer this time was Nicole Dubuc, whose record on single-episode stories is mixed: she did the solid "Marks for Effort" but also the less impressive "A Matter of Principals". Past the page break we go!

Sunday, 14 April 2019

I'm also going to UK PonyCon!

Note the lack of a booking fee, something I really appreciate with UK PonyCon
I said yesterday that I was going to the Griffish Isles convention in May. I've now bought my ticket for UK PonyCon in October! As long as all goes well and I actually make it to Nottingham, this will be my sixth successive UKPC, which tells you something about how much I enjoy the con. I do still feel a slight disappointment that it wasn't somewhere by the sea given the "Ocean Adventure" theme, but I'm mostly now looking ahead with cautious optimism.

This year, I've stepped back down from the top-tier VIP ticket I bought in 2018 and plumped for the mid-range Supporter option. This is what I had in 2017, with a mention your name in the con book, a button badge and (yay) an extra £5 donation to long-serving UKPC charity the RDA. I did enjoy being a VIP last year, but the price went up considerably this year (from £70 to £97) and I don't want the seapony plush as much as I wanted the 3D printed Britannia last year. Still, VIPs sold out in an academy record 19 minutes this year, so the demand is clearly there!

It will be quite some time before I get round to booking a hotel for UKPC. I certainly don't think I'll be doing it before Griffish Isles is done and dusted, and quite possibly not for a month or two after that. The one hotel that this might matter for is the Premier Inn in Goldsmith Street, the closest of all to the con venue. I'm very unlikely to go there, though, as the price premium over other budget hotels that are almost as convenient is too high for me to justify.

One reason I'm not booking yet is that money will be tighter this year (partly my fault for doing two cons!) and so I can't be certain I'll be able to afford a three-night stay. I'd certainly like to, as it makes things a lot less stressful, but I can't be too silly with my finances. No, not even in this fandom. :P Anyway, I now look forward. Given that UKPC will probably take place at about the same place as the end of FiM, it could be quite an emotional occasion!

Friday, 12 April 2019

I'm going to Griffish Isles!

The odd price is because there is (as so often, sigh) a booking fee
I've been thinking about this for a few months now, but things have finally fallen into place. So in just under a month, I'll be off to the one-day Griffish Isles convention in Manchester. This will be my first purely brony convention since 2014, as I've only been to the multi-gen UK PonyCon since. It will, I think, also be the first time I've been to Manchester (as opposed to just passing through) since my last purely brony convention, BUCK 2014! I'll be travelling up the day before and staying in a nearby hotel on the Friday night.

As so often in life, not everything is perfect. For reasons unrelated to the con or the fandom, I need to be back home the following morning. Given the poor standard of Sunday-morning trains, my only option is to head home late on Saturday night – which will require me to leave the con by around 7:30pm. I'll therefore miss some of the evening entertainment, though it does mean I'll continue my run of avoiding 18+ Pony events as the venue's all-ages licence cutoff is 8:00pm!

Still, I'm looking forward to it, despite the slightly awkward venue, which is not exactly in the classiest area of the city, and is a 20-minute walk or a short bus ride from the city centre. The main reason is (as ever) the chance to catch up with friends, especially those I don't often see. There's also the fact that S9 might have ended by the time UK PonyCon rolls around in October, so Griffish Isles might turn out to be the last time I'm at a Pony convention while Friendship is Magic is still a live series.

Thursday, 11 April 2019

Text Review Roundup: "The Beginning of the End"

Yes, it's TRR time again! I don't know how well this will work out this year, dependent as it is on how many people actually write text-based reviews, how quickly they get them published and whether TV broadcast schedules get fragmented as they so often have in recent seasons. Happily, we have a pretty full slate for the first episode of the final season of FiM. As always, click on the reviewer's name to see the review in full.

One notable change this year is that Present Perfect now reviews stuff (including but not limited to MLP) on his WordPress rather than on Fimfiction. Dark Qiviut seems to have decided to wait "a few weeks" before saying much about "The Beginning of the End", and that's too long for me to wait, so I'll go on their brief, non-spoilery assessment. Also, has Derpy News stopped doing reviews? They didn't post one for "Best Gift Ever" and don't seem to have done one for this episode either.

This was a generally well-liked introduction to Season 9. No reviewers outright disliked it, and a few who were unhappy with much of S8 (DrakeyC, for instance) felt "The Beginning of the End" was a significant step up.

Cuddlepug – mixed (graded B; "While this premiere is probably better than some, it also serves as a reminder to viewers that there isn't a whole lot more to this tale.")

Dark Qiviut – positive (graded B+; "a really good start to Season 9. It’s better than Daze or Raze, but some probs hold it back")

DrakeyC – very positive ("feels like a return to form, classic G4 MLP adventure")

JDPrime22 – very positive (rated 9/10; "that little sacrifice and speech from Discord was so perfect. Really heart-wrenching stuff there")

Lightening McQueen – very positive ("Very good, but also emotional [...] amazing seeing the Mane Six defeat Sombra without the Elements")

Louder Yay – very positive (rated 4/5; "often immensely enjoyable [and] Grogar carried a real sense of menace throughout [though] the breathless pace of most of it did mean that some plot points were rather skated over")

Mega Sean 45 – broadly very positive ("Fantastic! Amazing! [But] look how pushed aside [Spike] was[. Still,] I did really enjoy the premiere")

Mike Cartoon Pony – broadly very positive ("really solid [...] Some elements felt a bit contrived [but] I'm loving Grogar so far [and] this truly feels like a return to classic, old school FiM adventure-heavy storytelling, albeit in the show's newer style."

MLEEP Reviews – wildly positive (rated 10/10; "the dramatic and intense story, the breathtaking animation, the expansive cast of old and new characters, the heartfelt orchestrations")

Present Perfect – broadly positive ("I hate to say it, but this was all right! Definitely above average [but] too much self-awareness, and too much Discord.")

The Railfan Brony – mixed (rated Okay; "The first half is where the premiere really shines [and] the MVP for the bad guys was undoubtedly Sombra [but t]he plot as a whole is blatantly unoriginal")

TheDragonWarlock – positive (rated 8/10; "does what it was meant to do; set up stuff for events down the road")

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Ponyfic Roundup 245

I've pretty much run out of ideas for subtitles, and I can't remember which ones I've used anyway, so I think it's time to give that feature a rest. Though call me crazy, but I think I may keep the idea of numbering editions in ascending order.

Read it Later story count: 260 (nc)

I've tried to make a little more time for reading this week. The results have been... mixed. I've managed more than just the two fics that at one point I feared I'd have, but I haven't managed the number I hoped I'd have. Here's what I do have to look at this fine (possibly; consult the weather pegasi) Wednesday morning.

From Princess Twilight Sparkle, President of the Twinkle-Nebula-Frie-Neutron Family Reunion by Georg
Shimmer by Autumn Wind
We Are Okay by Harmony Pie
Neither Rain Nor Sleet Nor Gloom of Night, But Chaos, That's Another Story... by alarajrogers

★: 0 | ★★: 1 | ★★★: 2 | ★★★★: 1 | ★★★★★: 0
Note: I use a skewed rating system. A fic I find average scores two stars.

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Unepic Pony Rap Battles of Equestria: Starlight Glimmer vs Sunset Shimmer

 ( Text link )

I made this. Yes. Me. Just me. That should give you an idea (perhaps "awful warning" would be a better term) about the level of quality you should expect from this. Actually, I don't think the lyrics are bad, though it would have helped if I hadn't made a couple of flubs here and there. Those who've been following both Friendship is Magic and Equestria Girls reasonably closely over the years should recognise the references I slipped in throughout the piece.

The music is... well, "functional" would be a good word. It's literally an extremely simple piano bass line and an (again, extremely simple) repeating drum loop. Again, I wrote both of those from scratch. I am no great musician, and producing a piece like this to a higher standard just isn't something I'm capable of. At least, not without a lot of work that, frankly, I'm not really willing to put in for something silly like this. I don't have suitable music software, in any case. So live with it. :P

A bit of background here. I can't remember exactly, but I think the original idea for doing a silly MLP rap came to me at a meet (or even in the pub during a con) a couple of years ago. However, it was only last autumn that the idea of doing it as a tribute to/parody of the old Epic Pony Rap Battles of Equestria pieces got stuck in my head.* It took ages for me to have a quiet afternoon or two to work on it, but here it is at last. I feel oddly proud of it, if I'm honest.

* The best of which was undoubtedly the BlackGryph0n/EileMonty Iron Will vs Zecora edition.

Monday, 8 April 2019

Episode review: S9E01/02: "The Beginning of the End"

Luna, Starswirl and Celestia looking angry and firing magic beams to the bottom right of the screen
A thrilling image – one that has surprisingly little to do with the main plot
After all the build-up, Friendship is Magic Season 9 is go! With a little tinge of sadness this time around, as "The Beginning of the End" was a pretty spot-on title. This is the last time we will ever see a season premiere for FiM, though (unless something very odd happens) not for My Little Pony as a whole. It was written by the Lady Writers, Joanna Lewis and Kristine Songco, making their first writing appearance since "The Perfect Pear". That was encouraging for many of us. After the break, we'll see whether that confidence was well founded.

One minor tweak to the review format this season: I've stolen one of Present Perfect's ideas and added my nominations for the best and worst moments of the episode. You'll find those near the end, just after the continuing "Best quote" section, though that's now been rechristened "Best line". Right, then – off we go!

Sunday, 7 April 2019

Dead fandom, anyone? :P

Taken around midnight BST

I'm obviously not going to say anything specific about the S9 premiere just yet – that will have to wait for my episode review, which I hope to have up tomorrow (or, failing that, on Tuesday). However, what is clear is that there's still a great deal of interest in Friendship is Magic. The S8 premiere post had a bit over 4,200 comments, though several hundred of those did appear after premiere day. Even so, you don't get 3,000+ comments if nobody cares. As such, I'm quite satisfied. :)

Saturday, 6 April 2019

Here we go!

Today's the day! After one of the stranger hiatuses I can recall, Season 9 of Friendship is Magic will air at 4.30pm UK time. I've seen all the previews and animatics that have been released (which is quite a few), but I'm still not entirely sure what angle the S9 premiere is going to take. I'm finding myself really pretty hyped, especially now I know it's going to be written by Lewis and Songco. Will I still be hyped this evening? We'll see.

I plan on having an episode review up on Monday, as I've been doing for several years, though I don't entirely rule out moving to Tuesday if things get too hectic. Not a clue at this point whether Text Review Roundup will be practical – that depends on a) whether there are many early international releases, and b) whether enough people are still writing text-based roundups this season. I'd quite like to continue with it if it's workable, though.

And now we wait!

Friday, 5 April 2019

Pony Music Library 59: "Hope Shines Eternal"

 ( Text link )

Season 9 of Friendship is Magic begins tomorrow, but in this latest edition of Pony Music Library I'm inducting an Equestria Girls song! This has been one of my favourites from that sub-franchise for a while now.

What? "Hope Shines Eternal"

Who? Daniel Ingram (music and lyrics)

Which? Equestria Girls song

When? October 2016

Why? It took me a while to warm to Legend of Everfree, and I don't think it's ever likely to dethrone Rainbow Rocks in my affections, but there are parts of LoE that I've always enjoyed. The outro song, "Hope Shines Eternal", is one of them. With its folk-rock style and message of optimism and friendship, it fits very nicely indeed over the end credits of an MLP film about a summer camp. It's fairly short, and an extended version with an extra verse or so might have been nice, but even as it is this is a very satisfying way for the movie to go out.

Thursday, 4 April 2019

Words, words, words

This post is not actually about fanfic. It's about why I prefer to do the bulk of my fandom interacting in spaces like forums and blogs. Although I use Twitter a good deal, I don't even have a Facebook account, and I find FB's insistence on covering half the page with a banner even after you click "Not Now" to be intensely, intensely obnoxious. It's the kind of behaviour you might expect from a particularly childish middle-schooler.

But, as so often, I digress. I am a regular attendee at the twice-monthly Worcester meets. It's quite a small group, but we have a nice time. These are planned in this thread on the UK of Equestria forums, and they always have been. I am extremely happy about this state of affairs, and there are reasons for that which go beyond simple convenience. (My usual disclaimer here: I am a long-standing member and moderator on UK of E.)

A really important factor is openness. I have nothing to hide about being an MLP fan, and I find it very pleasing that UK of E has no hidden forums for members only. (There's of necessity a little bit of staff-only discussion, but that's all.) Anyone, whether logged in or not, can browse the forums and see what we all talk about. Anyone, whether a member or not, can read about our planning for the Worcester meets, including the venue.

I would be significantly less comfortable if these meets were planned on a closed Facebook group, even if I had a Facebook account. While I've been around the internet long enough that silly insults of the "you're all insert-slur-here" type rarely bother me, I do think it's a huge plus point that we can invite literally anyone to share in our thoughts and comments about the fandom. This is also one reason I'm glad our meets take place in public.

Blogs and forums are also more permanent than social media, making it easier to refer back to what you or someone else said on a topic. This isn't an entirely unmixed blessing, of course, but I think the pros outweigh the cons. You get time to consider your comments. And of course, you get a lot more words to play with. Even 280 characters isn't very much if you want to expand on why Scootaloo is Best CMC or whatever.

As I said, I use Twitter a lot these days, so I'm certainly not in the "social media is evil" camp. But blogs and forums suit my writing style better; maybe it's also one reason I'm quite happy on Fimfiction, with its excellent forum-style discussion format and 1,000-word minimum. Fimf, too, is a public place, which again I think is a good thing. We all know that our fandom isn't a front for anything sinister, but being open helps us demonstrate that.

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Ponyfic Roundup 244: Freeway Fighter

It's happening! As promised last week, I have no fewer than five ponyfics to talk about here today. Okay, so they're all short – in most cases, very short – but they're all here nevertheless. In honour of this remarkable occasion, I should like to say that... er... hey, look! Ponies!

Read it Later story count: 260 (-6)

Having hyped this up a minute ago, I'm now going to have to... um... unhype it down? Dunno. Not that these fics aren't worth talking about in their own right, of course. There's actually little I enjoy more on PR than discovering a hidden gem. Let's see if there are any today.

Time-Out Tuesday by Majin Syeekoh
The Fall of Discord by Blackbelt
Applejack Is Full of Squirrels by shortskirtsandexplosions
Scabs by 4EverFreeBrony
Morning Light by RadiantBeam

★: 0 | ★★: 3 | ★★★: 2 | ★★★★: 0 | ★★★★★: 0
Note: I use a skewed rating system. A fic I find average scores two stars.