Friday, 30 August 2019

Text Review Roundup: "The Summer Sun Setback"

Well, it had to happen. I wasn't quite careful enough, and I've been hit by a big spoiler from the S9 finale. I'm not going to reveal it on here until the episode airs on Discovery Family, of course, but suffice it to say that this isn't the sort of spoiler you forget. Happily, it hasn't made me want to run away screaming and never think of Friendship is Magic again. But enough of that now. Let's get on to an episode we (probably) all have seen.

There was general consensus that "The Summer Sun Setback" was a considerable improvement on the previous two episodes. The Railfan Brony strongly disliked it, but he was the only one of the slate here who did. Most of the reviewers had their reservations, but in general they weren't enough to keep the overall assessment from tipping decisively positive. I probably liked this very slightly more than the average.

Cuddlepug – positive (graded B+; "an ambitious episode that covers two parallel and interweaving storylines with great results [...] sharp writing throughout, good characterisation for everyone and meaningful plot developments")

Dark Qiviut – very positive (There are a lot of really nice, little details here. [...] the Terrible Trio at their most competent [...] Suffice it to say, I love it. One of the best of the season.")
No blog review, so this is from a comment Dark Qiviut left on mine.

DrakeyC – positive ("This was a really solid episode. I love Twilight's character development [and] the final "twist" with the Celebration, and all the villain stuff is great too. Overall just very entertaining plot and character stuff")

Dramamaster829 positive ("After the past several weeks of enduring episodes that were either 'just' okay or downright awful, for me this episode was the saving grace for the show. Is it perfect? No [but] I'd like to think [Discord] was testing the princess in the most unusual way [...] an episode with a ton of heart.")
No blog review, so this is from a comment Dramamaster829 left on mine.

JDPrime22 – very positive (rated 10/10; "Where the hell was THIS Twilight through the second half of the season? [...] Absolutely phenomenal episode!")

Louder Yay – very positive (rated 4/5; "a vastly more likeable Twilight Sparkle [...and the villains'] group dynamic remains very enjoyable [... Discord] didn't actually do very much [but the hints of tribalism were] intriguing [and] FiM seems to be back on track.")

Mike Cartoon Pony – positive ("Well, what do you know, this episode delivers on not one, but many things I said just last episode we were in dire need of by this point. [...] at no point this season, or before it, was the change that led to [Twilight] being such a panicky mess ever addressed [but t]he pace proceeds quickly while keeping everything lively and engaging.")

MLEEP Reviews – very positive (rated 10/10; "Doc Harris has done an amazing job in bringing [Grogar] to life for a new generation [while] Twilight has finally learnt to take things smoothly [...] not only an amazing episode but [...] just the rebound that Season 9 of My Little Pony needed")

Present Perfect – cautiously positive ("It’s certainly not bad. Probably not even ‘meh’! There were a lot of bits to like, I’m just not sure how much they cohere into a whole. [...] Twilight’s proclamation at the end was also a pleasant surprise")

SuperPinkBrony12 – largely positive ("Discord's inclusion feels the slightest bit out of place [and] I also find it just the slightest bit irksome that apparently word hasn't gotten out that Cozy Glow is a traitor [but] This feels like a better take on the B plot of "Between Dark and Dawn" that is also sharing a plot with the sequel of "Frenemies" [and] there's so much this episode does right")

The Railfan Brony – very negative (rated Terrible; "feels less like character development and more like an attempt at excusing Twilight's behavior in the [earlier] episodes [...] nothing new here in regard to the story or the theme [...] it's terrible, plain and simple.")

TheDragonWarlock – positive (rated 8/10; "Twilight herself is a massive improvement from the last few times [and] Chrysalis really feels like she shines [and though Discord] felt a little bit pointless [...] the characters are written likable, it has a solid enough plot going for itself, and for once Twilight shows some leadership skills")

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

Ponyfic Roundup 263

Read it Later story count: 239 (+6)

After making a largish dent in my RiL list count last week, I've filled a good part of it in again this week! Curse you, ponyfic authors, why must you keep on writing stories I want to read? Oh well, at least I'm still down from the week before. Another three-fic edition this time. This one consists of:

An Old World for Fluttershy by Fairy Tail
Colts Will Be Colts by Trick Question
Multi-Factor Authentication by Estee

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

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

Episode review: S9E17: "The Summer Sun Setback"

"I assure you, I had nothing to do with those Dutch releases"
Ah, it's nice to get away from the bad side of the fandom for a while and talk about an actual show episode. After enduring a couple of pretty poor episodes, I was looking forward to "The Summer Sun Setback", and the identity of the writer was a big part of that. Mike Vogel's episodes have a tremendous record with me, and I was hoping this latest one would continue that run. It was a Twilight episode, too, so would it take away the trivia-tinged bad taste from last week?

Monday, 26 August 2019

We just don't learn, do we?

The episode 17 review is being delayed by a day, since I'm in a poor frame of mind right now. As many of you will have guessed, that's because I'm angry and ashamed about the way Big Jim Miller has been treated recently. He shared a horribly abusive message he'd received (via his portfolio page, so he can't just shut down the email) and said that he felt driven to make his Twitter account private for a while, simply for the good of his mental health.

I believe that some of this abuse came his way from people who had seen the S9 finale (already released in the Netherlands!) and didn't like it. Yes, that's right: people didn't like the ending of a cartoon and decided that justified screaming abuse at a guy involved in making it.* A guy who, I'd be willing to bet, has done about a million times more with his creativity and vision to make people happy than any of the people sending the abuse ever have.

* I don't know what the ending is! Please do not mention it if you do!

We've been here before. After "Filli Vanilli" went out in 2014, certain people who disliked the way Pinkie Pie had been portrayed in that episode hurled abuse at Amy Keating Rogers, that ep's writer. Some of it went a thousand miles beyond any norms of civilised criticism – AKR mentioned that she had even received death threats. This was followed by the #ThankYouDHX Twitter campaign, which was seen by those who mattered, but of course that didn't change what had happened.

I'm so utterly, utterly sick of people saying that because this fandom grew out of 4chan, that somehow makes it okay to behave like this. Or that anyone who can't deal with deliberately insulting personal abuse is "a snowflake" who should get off the internet. This is My Little Pony, for Celestia's sake. It's not made for us in the first place. But quite apart from that, certain people seem unable and/or unwilling to take Friendship is Magic's messages of love and friendship and plain common decency to heart.

Generosity. Honesty. Kindness. Laughter. Loyalty. Magic. Friendship. These are the values the show teaches.

It's on us as a fandom to learn them.

Take them to heart.

And live them.

Sunday, 25 August 2019

Sounds of 2012: Nos. 77 to 73

It's August Bank Holiday weekend here in England, and by some miracle it's actually sunny and warm. As such, I've been spending some time in the garden reading ponyfic – and listening to fandom music. That reminds me that I've slightly neglected Sounds of 2012, my look at the Everfree Radio Top 100 from that year. My four rules determine whether I should feature each track, since I'm not always very comfortable with featuring songs whose artists have nuked them and disappeared. Happily I didn't have to skip any this time, but here's the rundown:

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

As usual with "Sounds of 2012", first I'll give a quick list of the songs I'm looking at this time, and past the cut I'll embed some videos and talk a little about each track. Five of them today, as follows:

77: toastwaffle – Sweetie's Big Race - FiW REMIX
76: H8_Seed ft. Mic the Microphone – Petrified
75: ReicheruCharin – Bad Harmony
74: PrinceWhateverer – Taking Flight
73: AcoustiMandoBrony ft. EileMonty – Nightmare in Everfree

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

Saturday, 24 August 2019

New story by me: Raising the Baa

You know that Hello, Pinkie Pie 3D CGI thing Hasbro put out the other day? The one with a different (and uncredited!) VA voicing Pinkie? Turns out Andrea Libman didn't even know it was happening. It wasn't that she was too busy to voice the role; she wasn't asked at all. She's not happy.

Let's get on to something less dismal, shall we?

Cover pic is this free image from Clipart Library.

Raising the Baa by Loganberry
Fluttershy, Twilight and OC
Comedy/Slice of Life; 1k words; Jul 2019; Everyone
After visiting the Crystal Empire, Fluttershy brings Baabara the tiny ewe to Ponyville.
After spending a fortnight working with the Crystal Empire's fledgling petting zoo, Fluttershy has made a new friend. Baabara the tiny ewe is making a return visit and is now relaxing in Ponyville. In Twilight's castle.

This is the third and last of the stories I wrote for the FimFiction Feghoot Festival, and it's the one I'm personally happiest with. I was only able to write it at all because the contest's closing date was unexpectedly (to me, anyway) extended late in the game, but I think it turned out all right. Since it is a feghoot, I can't give away what happens, but what I will say is that this is a fic that harks back to Friendship is Magic's early days, in that Baabara is able to speak – and in Equestrian, too.

It's this fic, more than the other two feghoots I wrote, that really spurred me on to get back to writing regularly. For various reasons that didn't actually happen until about a fortnight ago, but since then I've written at least 100 words of ponyfic (sometimes considerably more) each and every day. No exceptions. I've now got two or three ideas that I think could stand being expanded into standalone fics – and, more importantly, words on screen that I can use to start with. I don't just have the ideas any more.

But back to Raising the Baa. The title doesn't work quite so well for (most) Americans as it does for (most) Brits, given that for me "bar" and "baa" are almost exact homophones. Still, that's hardly a big deal. More interestingly, perhaps, this is the first time I've written a fic featuring Twilight outside of the Custardverse since The Unbearable Lightness of Bucking – which appeared almost four years ago. I've enjoyed it, too. I really ought to write for Twilight more often. Maybe now I will.

Thursday, 22 August 2019

Text Review Roundup: "A Trivial Pursuit"

It's just hit me that, assuming there are no post-season specials, we're now into the final ten TRRs. It's not exactly of world-shaking importance, but I'm going to miss these things when they're gone. It's far too early to say whether they might be back for G5 – but even if I do return to them then, they'll certainly never be quite the same. That said, G5 will never be quite the same. Maybe it'll be like your favourite Doctor from Doctor Who. (Nine for me.)

Anyway, "A Trivial Pursuit" got a mixed reaction, though the average was on the negative side of neutral. Most reviewers still found it more enjoyable than "2, 4, 6, Greaaat", but a number were unimpressed with Twilight's characterisation. There were exceptions in both directions: Dark Qiviut was happier with Twilight's portrayal, while SuperPinkBrony12 and The Railfan Brony were appalled by the whole thing, talking in terms of its being the worst episode of the entire show.

Cuddlepug – negative (graded C-; "continues the mediocre trend of episodes so far in the second half of Friendship is Magic's final season [...] the Princess of Friendship [is] more than happy to walk over one of her best friends in order to get what she wants")

Dark Qiviut – mixed ("The best part, bar none, is Twilight's arc [...] Combined with a well-paced story, A Trivial Pursuit brought Season 9 back on track after 2, 4, 6, Greaaat derailed its streak. However, it's weaker than the worst episode of Season 9A, Going to Seed"

DrakeyC – fairly negative ("This had me afraid it was gonna be another round of "Ponk is horribly mischaracterized", but actually no, they were fine for Pinkie, it was Twilight that got on nerves [...] this episode is pretty bad on account of how awful Twilight is to everypony, not just Pinkie.")

Dramamaster829 mixed ("Sure the episode has a few laughs, some subtle shout outs to the series, and fans of 'Trivia' games can vouch for this, but at the same time there's only so much 'Twilighting' we can take and she was a bit of a jerk at times.")
No blog review, so this is from a comment Dramamaster829 left on mine.

JDPrime22 – mixed (rated 7/10; "Honestly, Twilight needed to grow up in this one. Yeah, the episode was super entertaining, and Twilight's faces are to die for, but... she's literally going to run Equestria in, like, one month.")

Louder Yay – mixed (rated 2/5; " a long way from being a classic episode, unless you're very forgiving about Twilight's characterisation, but it was often an entertaining one..")

Mike Cartoon Pony – mixed ("would work far better in a cartoon with more edge and less sentiment then MLP [...] amusing, though your enjoyment on it will depend on how much a character being an uncharacteristic jerk bothers you.")

MLEEP Reviews – mixed (rated 7.5/10; "an episode that was made solely for those die hard fans of My Little Pony who are obsessed with every single little detail in the series and while having its good moments of humor among a majority of the cast still suffers from an extremely thin plot")

Present Perfect – rather negative ("Not nearly as rage-inducing as 2, 4, 6, of course. [...] Just Twilight acting like a dick, and tons and tons of ship names for some reason. Seriously, what was up with that? Sunburst couldn’t save it.")

SuperPinkBrony12 – spectacularly negative ("oh boy do we have one doozy of a bad episode on our hands! This might just be a contender for the worst episode of the entire show [...] Twilight's performance here is the absolute worst her character's ever been written, I don't even think flanderization describes it properly, this is straight up character assassination territory.")

The Railfan Brony – spectacularly negative (rated Atrocious; "the lesson I got from Jerkass Twilight's behavior is that "you can bully your friends and they'll still come back to help you". That is one of the most disgusting lessons this show has taught, especially for one targeted at little girls! [...] Fuck this episode. It should be sent down to Tartarus and locked up in the deepest, darkest cave so human eyes can never look at it again. It is that awful, and it has officially earned the title for the worst ever episode of the entire series.")

TheDragonWarlock – negative (rated 4/10; "Twilighting [...] a retread of another episode earlier this season, [and] using a tiresome joke again for the plot. [...] One thing I'll grant this episode is that the cast of side characters we have is big and they're all enjoyable in their own way [...] Pinkie is written enjoyably here [but the episode is] a bore and a bit of a mess.")

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Ponyfic Roundup 262

I'm really enjoying reading Cold in Gardez's Completely Safe Stories, and eventually I'll have at least a short review of the book up here. Not of the fics themselves, but of the whole package. I keep thinking it might be nice to make a list of available physical ponyfic, a list aimed at British fans – ie with UK postage costs! – but it's often hard to tell which books/editions are limited and which aren't, and that's one of several factors putting me off. Anyway...

Read it Later story count: 233 (-11)

An apology now: I do not, in fact, have the review of Bob from Bottles' An Imaginative Performance I trailed last time. That's because I stupidly forgot to check before writing that trailer that BfB's account was still up, and I read the whole fic before looking. In fact, the account has been nuked, and that's taken An Imaginative Performance with it. (FWIW, it would have scored a high two.) So, three fics only this time:

A Candle in the Sky by Lucky Dreams
Suspiciously Similar by TheAncientPolitzanian
In the Service of the Princess of Friendship by bookplayer

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

Monday, 19 August 2019

Episode review: S9E16: "A Trivial Pursuit"

Question 26: Is Twilight's expression a meme face or an animation transition?
Oh look, now Hasbro has taken to advertising its products in the actual episode names. (Yep, they own Trivial Pursuit.) I couldn't decide whether that was annoying or amusing — which as it happened made it good preparation for the ep itself. But I'm getting ahead of myself. "A Trivial Pursuit" was written by Brittany Jo Flores, which I took as a good sign since her only previous FiM outing was the very solid "Once Upon a Zeppelin" in S7. Let's have a look at whether she could match it this time around.

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.


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.