Saturday, 14 May 2022

Make Your Mark three-minute trailer!

Less than a fortnight to go now until Make Your Mark hits Netflix! The trailer above looks to contain the first three minutes of the 44-minute special. As the thumbnail doesn't give away anything remotely significant, I'm not going to bother with putting the entire post behind a spoiler cut. However, I will mention a couple of things now that do contain some spoilers, so pass this point at your own risk

Wednesday, 11 May 2022

Ponyfic Roundup 391

Read it Later story count: 90 (-2)

There's apparently been some stuff going on over on EqD with regard to music coverage. This has probably been discussed to death on Twitter, but as I don't really use that any more I remain in blissful ignorance. And you know what? I think I like it better that way. Anyway, from music let us return to ponyfic, and have a look at this week's four fics...

A Wake of Mist and Flame by heliopause
The Tragic Tragedy by Regidar
The Creature
by Critic
Legends
by Timey-Wimey

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

Monday, 9 May 2022

My Little Repeats 113: "What About Discord?"

And Spike is still having more fun than I did

S5E22: "What About Discord?"

7 Nov 2015

My original rating: ★★
IMDb score: 5.5

The one with peanut butter hooves

Thoughts: This episode's IMDb rating is the lowest to date (though worse was to come much later on) and means that poor old Neal Dusedau, who also wrote "Princess Spike", is usually seen as one of the least successful FiM writers. I can't disagree – and while the earlier episode is merely not very good, "What About Discord" is outright bad, managing to be both bland and unpleasant. Annoyingly, the ep actually starts out quite well, with a cute and funny Twilight/Spike scene in the castle library. And then... it all falls apart. With perhaps the exception of Spike, pretty much everypony's characterisation is sufficiently warped to make them unappealing. Discord is full-on mean-spirited in a way that doesn't suit his post-reformation self. Rainbow is obnoxious. Fluttershy is uncaring. Rarity is ungenerous. Applejack doesn't speak plainly. Pinkie doesn't realise Twilight is unhappy. Twi herself is absurdly dense – I might just about buy that from the "How do you run a sleepover?" pony in early S1, but not from the experienced Princess of Friendship in late S5. The dialogue is often poor: "All you Apples look the same" – even from Discord, really? The one-note story drags and drags. Plus, of course, the personal angle: I hate people deliberately rubbing in that I missed out on something by making a point of telling in-jokes I don't get and then refusing to explain them.* It's a form of bullying, and one I've been on the end of in real life long ago, so I don't enjoy watching it and I'm not impressed the Manes get revenge on Discord at the end by doing it back to him. The vaguely good bit of the moral, that a bunch of friends can have sub-groups enjoying different things, had been done much better in "Scare Master" one episode earlier. Despite the mildly amusing Bob Ross joke, "What About Discord?" is a mess, and not the fun kind of mess either. Sadly it becomes the first one-star episode of the show's run.
* If you know me and have ever wondered why I sometimes awkwardly try to explain eg convention in-jokes, this is why.

Choice quote: Twilight: "Time travel is not something to be messed with." [A better line now we know what was in the season finale!]

New rating: ★

Next up is "The Hooffields and McColts". Not an episode that sticks much in the memory, albeit a step up from this mess. I mainly remember it for disappointing me in my hopes for a brilliant Twilight/Fluttershy team-up.

Saturday, 7 May 2022

Interesting album reviewer on Rate Your Music: keeponrockin404

I should get round to "What About Discord?" in the next day or two. Sadly.

I saw this somewhere the other day; my apologies to whoever mentioned it as I can't find that original source now. Anyway, the Rate Your Music website is a place where people can post reviews of music, surprisingly enough. A user by the name of keeponrockin404 has been compiling quite a large collection under the heading Brony music time, I'm going to do it, you can't stop me. The website doesn't make it that easy to navigate, but it's doable.

As you'll quickly find if you read through some of that list, they're very clear about what they do and don't like, and it's fair to say not everyone's going to like it. On the one hoof, PinkiePieSwear's oldies collection PPS 2011 gets a solid 7.75 (all ratings are out of ten) and SoGreatAndPowerful's "phenomenal" The Standard Model does even better with 9.75. They're a fan of much Vylet Pony, too, so this certainly isn't someone just out to laugh at fandom music.

On the other hoof, Aviators' admittedly age-showing The Adventure is absolutely hammered: "an abject failure of an album", with "Never Back Down" being described as "FUCKING ABYSMAL" (oh yeah, keeponrockin404 swears quite a bit) and songs like the classic-to-many "Friendship" and "One Last Letter" also going into the hate column. The album as a whole scores... one. 1/10. Fair to say the reviewer doesn't like it, and they let us know they don't like it.

It goes on like this, and though keeponrockin404 to their credit explains the reasons for their ratings they're not in danger of being called a boring conformist any time soon. "Discord" (Tombstone version) also languishes at 1/10, d.notive scores terribly for stuff like "Vicious Lies", 4everfreebrony tends to do averagely at best, though Foozogz does okay and a musician I'll admit I'd never heard of named Cats Millionaire is frankly adored.

Despite the title of the review collection, keeponrockin404 does cover a few official MLP albums. They're quite open about the fact that they prefer the early seasons' songs, to the extent of being really quite harsh on S4's music – a pretty unusual viewpoint, in my experience. This isn't really the heart of the reviews, though, as the pieces about fandom albums are considerably more fun to read, even if (as happened a few times) you totally disagree.

It's obviously a really terrible idea to treat any one reviewer as the Voice of Truth when it comes to assessing brony music, just as it is with ponyfic. But this reviewer can write an entertaining piece* and so the reviews seem worth at least taking a gander at. It's nice to see some attention being paid to a range of music, anyway. Of course there's a debate to be had about what actually qualifies something as "brony music", but that's for another day...
* Though their weird approach to capitalisation, which seems to be deliberate, is grating

Friday, 6 May 2022

Ponyfic Roundup 390

Read it Later story count: 92 (+2)

UK PonyCon tickets went on sale last night, and perhaps unsurprisingly the top-tier Gold tickets (£370!) sold out within a fairly short time. As I type this the Silver tier is still available from the official ticket shop, though I don't know how many Silver tickets are left. There should (I hope!) be Bronze and Standard tickets available for a while yet. Anyway, let's move on to this week's four stories of small horses. Well, mostly horses, as we'll see...

Princess of the Day by Lets Do This
Rough night by Cackling Moron
I'm Pancake!
by Frogmyre
One long eternity
by NoGoodUsrNames99

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

Wednesday, 4 May 2022

UK PonyCon tickets will be released on Thursday!

Ponyfic Roundup has been pushed to Friday, partly for this and partly because I've been away for a couple of days.

Big news on Monday night from UK PonyCon: tickets are out this Thursday! In a change from last year, when they appeared in the middle of the day, they will be released at 7pm BST this time around. The hype train just kicked up another notch, if that isn't too horribly mixed a metaphor. (And even if it is.) Even more so now we have confirmation that live music will return on the Saturday night for the first time since 2019.

The other big news is how UKPC ticket tiers will work in 2022. There's a more detailed breakdown on the official ticket page, so here you're getting a quick summary and a few thoughts from me. For prices I'm concentrating on Adult Weekend tickets here, though as usual there will be one-day tickets available as well as the usual Child and Family options. Also as usual, and something I love UKPC for: no booking fees! The price you see is the price you pay. Yay!

Standard: £46.00no special quantity limits

This is the basic tier. It gets you entry to the con on both days, including the concert on Saturday night, as well as a con book and of course con badge. You get a plain blue lanyard to hold said badge around your neck. In past years a very popular on-the-day addon for Standard ticket holders has been to upgrade your lanyard to something more colourful – I hope that will still be an option in 2022, but I don't know for sure. (I'm sure some vendors will offer lanyards, anyway.)

Bronze: £64.99 – no special quantity limits

The first of the Sponsor tiers gets you an upgraded badge and lanyard, an exclusive button badge, a mention in the con book, a Bronze role and a dedicated channel in the UKPC Discord. This ticket also includes a £5 donation to long-time UK PonyCon charity the RDA. Finally, you get priority access to buy tickets to the Saturday night Supporters Dinner. A few extras aside, this tier is pretty similar to the Supporter level offered at several past UKPCs.

Silver: £119.99 – limited to 60 tickets

Somewhat similar to the VIP tier at recent conventions, Silver gets you the stuff in Bronze (though with an upgraded Discord level) and a £10 donation to the RDA, but you also get extra perks. An exclusive tote bag, T-shirt, wristband and art print start things off. There's also priority entry to both the main event and autograph/photo sessions, and with two tokens thrown in. Finally, front-of-house seats at the Mane Stage.

Gold: £369.99 – limited to 4 (four!) tickets

This brand new ultra-exclusive tier ups the RDA donation to £20 and your Discord level to Gold. You get all the stuff Silver sponsors do, but your art print is Gold-exclusive. Four tokens instead of two. Personalised thanks. A Supporters Dinner invitation is included, so no need to buy one. Not only that, but you can sit at the top table, which will include con special guest Kelly Sheridan! And on top of that, a mini Batannia plushie by enormously (and deservedly) popular creator Sewpoke.

Quick thoughts

UKPC has been able to hold its Standard admission price at 2021 levels, which is no mean feat as costs rise for all of us. I think that's really laudable. Mind you, the Bronze tier looks quite appealing and not a huge bump over Standard level, so if I can attend this year (I'm almost never quite sure this far out!) I may well see whether I can stretch to that. I doubt that any of the Silver and Gold tickets will still be on offer by the time I can purchase, so for me personally they're likely to be somewhat irrelevant.

Since VIP tickets have sold out fast in the past, I suspect the Silver tickets will go the same way, despite the price having risen significantly from 2021 VIP levels* (and nearly doubled since my own one and only VIP purchase in 2018). I really have no idea about Gold. It's very expensive, and the odd thing seems a little strange (is a Discord channel limited to four people really going to provide much conversation?), but several of its perks are major ones – and we saw last year that when a Pony fan wants something badly enough, they're willing to splash out to get it!

* Edit: UKPC chair Maz points out in a comment below that I wasn't entirely accurate there, since the format for premium tickets has changed. In fact, the effective rise from 2021 VIP to 2022 Silver is small.

However common it is in retail I do find "and 99p" pricing mildly irritating, especially when Standard doesn't use that format. Selling Gold at £369.99 makes it a princely 0.03% cheaper than if it had been £370! That's about the only thing that I can complain about, though. Obviously there are several other things that I just don't know yet, such as my comments above on the appeal of Gold tickets. Let's hope that a large number of us Pony fans are able to support UK PonyCon (at whatever tier is reasonable for them) because UKPC 2021 was quite a hard act to follow!

Saturday, 30 April 2022

Two thousand up!

generation of MLP (code lyoko of aelita) by guruyunus17
(CC by 3.0)

This is my 2,000th post on Louder Yay, and by Celestia I never thought back in 2012 that I would get anywhere near this mark. Okay, so a few of those posts have been me waffling on about why such-and-such an update is going to be delayed, but hay: most of them are still real posts! It's fair to say that I'd be much less likely to have continued for this long had it not been for you, my wonderful readers and commenters. Even if I don't get the quantity of interactivity that I might on Fimfiction, the quality is right up there. That's on you fine people. Thank you for coming along with me on this ride!

And, of course, thank you to everyone from the top of Hasbro right through to us ordinary fans, everyone who's made My Little Pony and its fandom what it is, has been for the past four decades, and will hopefully continue to be long into the future. Yes, the bad as well as the good, the rough as well as the smooth. A road with no bumps or bends in it gets boring after a while. As a very wise group of ponies once put it: we're not flawless. So, Logan: another 2,000 posts coming up? Well... we'll see. ;)