Friday, 30 December 2016

Comic mini-review: Friends Forever #35: Twilight and Starlight Glimmer

At least Tony Fleecs used the right manestyle
This team-up was always going to happen, unexciting as it is. Ted Rob Anderson writes a reasonably effective, if not amazing, story and it's nice to have a bit of Star Swirl again. (Not appearing in pony, sadly.) Jay Fosgitt's art is... well, Jay Fosgitt-y. If you hate it, this won't change your mind – especially as he gives Starlight her pre-reformation mane design. Spike plays a fun supporting role this time, and the ending is a little less rushed than sometimes. A moderately entertaining Friends Forever issue. ★★★

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Ponyfic Roundup 138: About Time Too!

If you get a chance to see The Entire Universe with Professor Brian Cox and Eric Idle, take it. It's brilliant. In the UK, it'll be on the BBC iPlayer. If you're elsewhere, I'm afraid you're on your own. Anyway, fanfic time.

Read it Later story count: 484 (-2)

Assuming all goes according to plan, I'll be away on holiday and with limited internet access when this goes up. To tide you over until I return to make inane comments once more, have this expanded selection of ten ponyfic reviews. These stories are all taken from my RiL list and are all fics that I considered for previous PRs but passed over for one reason or another. Now they get their chance – and some of them take it with all four hooves...

.out.of.character. by shortskirtsandexplosions
Date Helpers Time! by Mysterious Stranger
Yes, Apple Bloom, there *is* a Santa Hooves by Lucky Dreams
Indigo Hooves by xjuggernaughtx
Lust by Taialin

The Great Ponyville Snowball Fight by 8686
FlutterMac by roygbiv
Pegasus by Grand_Moff_Pony
Final Draft by Post Script
The Keepers of Discord by Hoopy McGee

★: 1 | ★★: 1 | ★★★: 4 | ★★★★: 3 | ★★★★★: 1

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Richard Adams, 1920-2016

Why am I writing about Mr Adams on a MLP blog? Quite simply because I wouldn't be writing it at all but for Watership Down. That book, among much else it did, brought me to internet fandom in general, then the WD fandom in particular. Thence I came to the furry fandom, and from there I discovered MLP.

I also wrote my first real fanfic story (Blackavar's Gift, which you can find on FFN to this day) for the WD fandom. So all my ponyfic is also inspired ultimately by Mr Adams' masterpiece. It really is hard to overstate just how influential that book has been on my life.

My heart has joined the Thousand, for my friend stopped running today.

Monday, 26 December 2016

Pony Music Library 35: "Sweep Sweep Sweep Sweep (Gene Gadget Mix)"

Apart from checking one or two minor things, I stayed offline yesterday. It's nice to have an (almost) complete break from the internet from time to time. This post was scheduled in advance for Boxing Day morning. It's not remotely seasonal, but that's what the Christmas Eve post was for!

What? "Sweep Sweep Sweep Sweep (Gene Gadget Mix)"

Who? KingSpartaX37 (YT channel name; aka Delta Brony)

Which? Show song remix

When? May 2016

Why? One of the many well-loved moments from "The Saddle Row Review" was a silly little scene ostensibly about tidying up Rarity's new shop. Rainbow's "Only Twilight could make a dance remix about sweeping" line was, I'm sure, intended as a challenge to the fandom: it was certainly seen as such, and within a few days there were dozens of the things. I chose Delta Brony's track because it's stupidly catchy, keeps things simple and – most importantly – contains a large dollop of nostalgia value. Seriously, is there anyone old enough to remember 16-bit consoles who doesn't think this is basically a boss fight tune? :D

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Happy Hearth's Warming!

As the Queen might put it: I wish you all a very happy Christmas.

As the Queen (sadly) probably wouldn't add: here's a pony song suitable for the season.

Newish blind reactor: Mage Royal

I'm pretty happy with the reaction to More than Alive so far. It hasn't had a whole load of views, which doesn't surprise me given what it is, but those who have read it seem to have enjoyed themselves. I'm particularly pleased about iisaw's comment, because I did wonder how accessible it would be to non-racing fans.

Now, here's an early Hearth's Warming present for that fraction of the fandom that enjoys watching blind reactions. Over the last few days, Mage Royal has uploaded his reactions for the entirety of Season Six – and you know what? For a new reactor, he's not half bad! Not as excitable as some of the other guys out there, and occasionally he's a bit quiet, but he's pleasant enough to listen to. He doesn't do facecam, which is fine as I sometimes find that rather distracting anyway. As I type, he has a mere five subscribers, but that number ought to be rather higher. If you're into blind reactions, have a look at his account.

Friday, 23 December 2016

Pony names, canon and fanon

How do you feel about Minuette? Or Golden Harvest? Or Muffins? Do you use those names in your own stories, or do you prefer to stick with long-established fanon names like Colgate, Carrot Top and Derpy? Do you take a hardline stance of "if it's mentioned in canon, I use it?" If so, then it's presumably "DJ Pon-3" for you for all time. Or do you mix and match? What about other options, like Ditzy Doo?

For me, part of the answer depends on how the show's handled the name in question. So I stick with Vinyl more than I ever did, partly because "DJ Pon-3" being bashed over my head in "The Saddle Row Review" irritated me so much. On the other hand, it will now always be Minuette for me, since M. A. Larson nailed her character in "Amending Fences" and that blew away everything else.

And then there's Derpy. We know she will never again be called that officially – but I really and truly can't see myself thinking of her as anything else. "Muffins" is actually rather a nice name, and I prefer it to "Ditzy Doo", but for me "Derpy" is her, while "Muffins" is simply a name applied to her. She will be Derpy to me to the end of my days in the fandom, of that I am sure.

Oh, and in case Chris is reading: Carrot Top > Golden Harvest. It just sounds better. I might, with some reluctance, use GH in a canon-compliant fic – but I'd be thinking of her as Carrot Top. Hmm, now I come to think of it, Minuette is about the only relatively recent example where I've changed to using the canon name exclusively. I guess it shows just how great "Amending Fences" was.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

New story by me: More than Alive

More than Alive by Loganberry
Rainbow Dash
Alternate Universe/Slice of Life; 3k words; Dec 2016; Everyone
Rainbow Dash drives like she flies: fast, committed, aiming for the sky.
This Equestria is much like any other. Rainbow Dash is still fast, still committed, still devoted to being number one. She's still flying upwards and still aiming for the sky. But right now, she's not even aloft. Today, she's going to be and do all those other things without ever leaving the ground.

"Speed creates a sensation of being alive, more than alive" -- Juan Manuel Fangio

Like so many others, this isn't a fic I intended or expected to write; it just happened. I suspect many of you reading this know exactly what that feels like. I scribbled down a few lines about Rainbow as a racing driver, added in the slightly obscure sort of motorsport I know best, and boom. By the time I'd added a few more paragraphs for fun, I was so close to 1,000 words that it would have been silly to stop there.

In spite of its publication date, More than Alive has absolutely nothing to do with either pony Hearth's Warming or human Christmas. It's just an idea made flesh, given an engine and sent off up the track to see what awaits. With luck, one or two of you will enjoy it – though that's probably most likely if you have at least some interest in motorsport. The cover photo is based on one I took at the track on which Shiresley is closely based.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Ponyfic Roundup 137: Spoons: Hard Mode

Read it Later story count: 486 (-5)

I told you! I told you I'd do it! And did you believe me? Hmm? Oh. Apparently you did. Well, that's awfully nice of you. Anyway, in lieu of a proper Hearth's Warming special this year, you get spoons. The "Hard Mode" bit refers to the fact that I excluded any story featuring Silver Spoon in any way at all. There were only a few completed fics left to choose from: all were tagged [Comedy] and all but one [Random] too, so this PR has ended up being a bit uneven. Never mind; let us go forth!

The Derpy Report by Owlor
Applejack and the Poking Spoon by JTB
Dual Stories: Why is there a spoon? - and - ETERNAL PURPLE HUNGER by Piquo Pie
The Frosted Pie by Grey Faerie
Sample Spoons by Takahashi282

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

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Bad Horse's survey and people reading my reviews

Bad Horse has made a follow-up post discussing various aspects of his recent Fimfiction survey. It's long, but worth the read, as are many of the comments below the line. He'll be posting again about other subjects relevant to the survey, so it might be a good idea to keep an eye on his Fimf account if you're interested in this topic.

Here are the results themselves. There's a lot to get your teeth into there, but I'll just mention the "What reviewers/recommenders do you use?" question a little way down. I was very surprised to see myself listed as an option, and in all honesty I'm even more surprised to see that as many as 20 respondents cited me as a source of reviews.

Obviously, this is nowhere near the numbers the major reviewers get: for example, Titanium Dragon was mentioned by 228 people and even the long-completed Pony Fiction Vault by 82. Interestingly, EQD still tops the table with 383, though the Royal Canterlot Library (322) isn't that far behind. Mind you, 855 people said they didn't use recommendations at all...

Nevertheless, even 20 is more than I was expecting. So if you're among them, thank you! As any writer in any field knows, feedback is the thing that we value most, and I'm delighted to hear that there are people out there who find Ponyfic Roundup worth reading. I hope to retain your trust and perhaps even to attract more readers in the future. Thanks again!

Monday, 19 December 2016

Pony Music Library 34: "Friendship"

I don't have a great deal of time to write here at the moment, so I'll fill in the gap between now and Wednesday's Ponyfic Roundup with a PML entry. This is a song that will need no introduction for most of you!

What? "Friendship"

Who? Aviators

Which? Original song

When? February 2012

Why? One of the most famous songs in the fandom, and another "unleaveoutable" track, this is one that actually took me a while to love. You can tell it's one of Aviators' earlier efforts – it was his 2,000-subs special! – as it's not quite as slick as some as his newer songs. Even so, the essential ingredients are there, and the story of what can be best described as "a friendship problem" and the singer's determination to mend it is perfect. For all Aviators is no longer much of a brony musician, he clearly retains affection for "Friendship", as you'll realise if you listen to "Meet You at the End" from this year. By any measure, a classic.

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Mini-essay: Fluttershy and Rainbow: Romantic, but not Lovers?

"Fluttershy Rainbow Dash Noserub" pic by simplyFeatherbrain (CC by-nc-nd 3.0)
Fluttershy + Rainbow Dash Noserub by simplyFeatherbrain
(CC by-nc-nd 3.0)
As most will know, I've never had a story on Equestria Daily. (Out of interest, I wonder who's the most famous ponyfic writer to have that distinction?) Part of the reason for that is that I've only ever submitted two fics. One was never going to be good enough anyway, while the other could probably have been wrangled into shape. However, the pre-reader for that one wanted a significant change that, after some reflection, I decided I wasn't willing to make.

So, it was with some amusement that I discovered my little Soapbox piece on EQD the other day. After four and a half years, I have something I wrote up there – and it's non-fiction. :P It was certainly an interesting experience, and I'll talk about that a bit in a minute. First, though, here's my piece; follow me past the break to see it!

Friday, 16 December 2016

Bad Horse's FIMFiction survey!

I will be writing about my EQD Pony Soapbox piece (and the reactions to it!) when I have time, but first: as the title of this post cunningly hints, Bad Horse has put together this survey over on Fimf. He says he's "not supposed" to explain why he's doing this until he has enough results, which does bother me a little – I'm not generally keen on answering lots of questions unless I know why – but I had a go at the survey nevertheless. I think it's worth a look, though be prepared for some tricky decisions and potentially frustrating available choices. You can find the survey here.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Ponyfic Roundup 136: Farewell to The Royal Guard Edition

Read it Later story count: 491 (-4)

Ah, EQD commenters, never change. :P Anyway, since The Royal Guard have recently disbanded, I thought I might do a small edition of stories that have been featured by them over the last few years. I've already reviewed a number of TRG-inducted stories here on PR, but I picked out a hoof-ful more for today's post. Five stories reviewed this week, and here's the list:

Dr. Rainbow Dash, MD, PhD, etc. by FrontSevens
Bitter-Sweetie by Inquisitor M
Gravity by Avox
A Drop of Sunlight: The Becoming of Sun Brandisher by Autumn Wind
The Evolution of Harmony by Thornwing

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

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Pony Music Library 33: "Giddy Up"

I've waffled on a bit in my last couple of posts here, so perhaps it's time for something a little more relaxing. Cue the Pony Music Library! This edition features a song that wasn't written as a pony song at all, but has become so closely associated with MLP and its fandom that it demands inclusion here.

What? "Giddy Up"

Who? Network Musical Ensemble

Which? Original song

When? March 2011 (yes, really. See below)

Why? Because of The Hub (RIP), who in November 2012 chose to use an extract from this track for their Season Three preview (see that here). Although it had already been out for a year and a half (proof), the ridiculously catchy tune caught the attention of a fandom then close to its zenith, and quickly became a favourite. Unsurprisingly, there were remixes (here's one by Phaux) and animations produced, too. The song later got taken up by 4chan's /mlp/ board, so be even more cautious than usual about YouTube comments! It was also sung at the closing ceremony of the last ever BUCK, complete with conga. In short, though, "Giddy Up" is a song that no-one in this fandom should be without. Not only will it live in your head for days, but that Sweetie image is just too adorable for words.

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Why I don't write original fiction

Note: this article was written a few days ago, so is not intended as a response to anything in horizon's recent Fimfiction blog. The timing is entirely coincidental.

There's an "original short story" Writeoff round this weekend, and if you're interested in that sort of thing then please do check it out. There really isn't anything else like it... but, as you may have guessed from the title of this post, I won't be participating. Admittedly I've only ever done one Writeoff even in the ponyfic rounds, partly since weekends are not full of spare time for me, but at least that one entry eventually led to Like a Flower to the World.

Here's the thing, though: I have no ambition to write original fiction on any sort of serious basis. It just doesn't interest me enough right now. And while I like writing for its own sake, I certainly read far more non-fiction than fiction: I'd estimate that only about 20% of my reading falls into the latter category, something that hasn't changed in years. (While I'm on the subject, though: go and read Lindsey Davis's Falco series about a Roman private eye. It's great.)

I'm old enough to have been around since before the web, but I have never written anything like as much fiction as I have in this fandom. I did put out one significant story and a few other little things for the Watership Down fandom years ago, but beyond that? Well, here's my FictionPress account, untouched for eight years now. Some of what's there is pretty cringy stuff, but I'm still quite pleased by elements of a few of those pieces.

I'm hardly alone in picking out Fimfiction as a reason for enjoying writing ponyfic. Although its actual editor is still a pain in the rump to use, most of the site is approximately a zillion times nicer than the equivalents for other fandoms. I'd still write ponyfic if I were sent back to the days of GDocs, but I can't pretend it would feel quite as fun. The Fimf community helps a lot there – I've never had a story, no matter how short or pointless, that hasn't got feedback.

Everyone points out that the Friendship is Magic fandom will end one day – though actually I'm not sure about that. At UK PonyCon the other month, I met people who still write G1 fanfic, more than 20 years after G1 itself ended. I confidently expect an active, though much smaller, G4 fandom to exist in 20 years' time. And, of course, G5 may capture my imagination too; there's a difference between being a strictly FiM fan and being a more general MLP fan.

But you know what? The thought of that smaller, quieter future doesn't make me more motivated to break out of ponyfic into original fiction; it makes me more motivated to write more ponyfic while the going remains good. I haven't gone into all the personal details why this fandom means so much to me, but it is really, truly no exaggeration to say that it played a vital role at a very hard time in my life. FiM is not, and never will be, "just another show" to me.

I think I'll continue to write all sorts of things if and when my desire to write ponyfic dies down – and the "if" part of that is a big one. But I don't think I'm ever likely to be a significant author (even at a strictly amateur level) of original fiction. I simply don't owe it the debt that I do the FiW fandom, and it doesn't capture my imagination in the same way. I don't see this as limiting, or "thinking small" – I see it as writing for enjoyment first, last and always.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Well, that was unexpected

I don't set much store by the Feature Box over on Fimfiction – I very rarely use it to select stories to review, for a start. That being so, I haven't really thought about it with respect to my own fics, and had always assumed that I'd never made it in there. Considering the sort of stories that frequently do make it to the FB, this is not something I'd found remotely alarming.

But thanks to Trick Question reminding me that every story featured since the advent of the Bookshelves facility is listed in Bookshelf #1, and also doing the necessary search, I now know that I was wrong. As this link demonstrates, one of my stories has made it in there at some point: Where They Understand You. I doubt the fact that it's my only multi-chapter story is unrelated.

I'm still not fussed about the FB, you understand. As I always say, comments, reviews and other feedback are much more valuable to me than features. But as I've got nothing else to post about today, you can have this pointless little post instead. :D

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Ponyfic Roundup 135: Your Plastic Pal Who's Fun To Be With

Read it Later story count: 495 (-1)

Although I'm still committed to doing plenty of themed editions of PR over the coming weeks and months, I don't want entirely to neglect the "lucky dip" posts. Apart from anything else, there are lots of stories on my RiL list that might not get reviewed at all otherwise. This time around, I've managed to read eight fics – and they're not even all one-shots! They are:

Cards Against Equinity by Door Matt
Herald by shortskirtsandexplosions
Things Rainbow Dash Doesn't Like by PresentPerfect
The 18th Brewmare of Bluey Napoleon by horizon
Book Club by Twelve Song
Second Sun by Carabas
Loosening Up by N.K.
Language Barrier by Aquaman

★: 0 | ★★: 4 | ★★★: 2 | ★★★★: 2 | ★★★★★: 0

Monday, 5 December 2016

Comic mini-review: Friends Forever #34: Pinkie Pie and Cheese Sandwich

MLP Friends Forever #34 cover showing Cheese and Pinkie
Tony Fleecs' cover brings us Weird Al in 2-D!
Friends Forever time again, and this issue brings together two characters who, again, it's not exactly a surprise to see paired up. I can't say I'm a huge fan of the plot Thom Zahler has written for this one. A giant, walking, apparently somewhat malevolent house doesn't really feel right for Equestria – the only time we've seen such a thing in the show was in a dream. Agnes Garbowska's art is generally serviceable and rises above that at times, but it's not strong enough to overcome the limitations of the storyline. A little bit of a missed opportunity, I feel. ★★

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Pony Music Library 32: "On Our Way"

Gosh, that Nico Rosberg retirement came a bit out of the blue! I really have no idea who's likely to replace him at Mercedes; for entertainment value, the obvious choice would be Alonso, but I can't see him and Hamilton ever working together again. Anyway, I think it's PML time.

What? "On Our Way"

Who? Forest Rain

Which? Original song

When? August 2013

Why? In spite of what many fans seem to believe, Hasbro doesn't dish out C&Ds very often. How many have there even been? Surely only a handful. One of them, however, was issued in 2013 against the planned feature-length animation Journey of the Spark. After the C&D hit, there was talk of making it an audio drama, but that never appeared. What did emerge from the project was this fine song. Admittedly Forest Rain has an excellent track record anyway, but the voice acting for the Mane Six in this is generally very good indeed, and that's what makes it. I particularly like the comment that Pinkie has gone "off the hay". It's a shame the film had to be cancelled, but this song alone means the project produced something worthwhile.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

"You're Gonna Go Far Kid" PMV unblocked on YouTube (edit: or not. Edit again: maybe)

A few days ago, I mentioned here that TheSlutfox's hugely popular PMV, "You're Gonna Go Far Kid", had been blocked by UMG. Well, that is no longer the case. I was alerted by Griffin in a comment that the video was now available once more – and, as you can see above, it remains so. As far as I can tell from a quick skim through YouTube, the other uploads of the same video that had been blocked are also once more viewable. Even if you don't like the PMV itself, the return of the video is surely welcome from a fandom history perspective.

Edit: and it's gone again. I'm not sure how the process works, but given that pretty much every copy of the video, including some at different speeds/pitches and even a few covers have been blocked... well. I have no idea what's going to happen now, but I'm rather pessimistic. I hope I'm proved wrong. Thanks a bunch, UMG. You are officially the new Sony. And no, that is not a compliment. I suppose the one thing we can take heart from is that it reminds us how lucky we are in this fandom that most things are controlled by Hasbro. A company that, by mediacorp standards, is really pretty damn good to us.

Edit again: as of 10.30am GMT on 3/12/16, it's up again! Who knows what's going on?

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Ponyfic Roundup 134: Amethyst Star Edition

Read it Later story count: 496 (+6)

Sometimes she's called Sparkler, sometimes Amethyst, but she's rarely had a turn in the spotlight ("Slice of Life" excepted). This week, I'm looking at five stories that place Amy (or Sparks. Whatever) front and centre, and between them they cover quite a bit of ground. Also, I'm trying desperately to keep my RiL list under 500, and unless I start reading a bit more quickly it's not going to happen. :S

Your horns are Touching by Azure Blackstone
Second Best by Discorded SheepcityUSA
The Perfect Setup by Timaeus
The Pineapple by Mane O War
Pick a feather by Windigo

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

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Audio: Logan reviews My Little Pony Season Six

I don't do a lot of audio stuff, but I have had a couple of people ask me whether I might consider making some. While I will be sticking with text for most things, especially Ponyfic Roundup and reviews of individual episodes, comics, etc, I do like the idea of recording a little bit more. Last year, I produced a short audio review of Season Five, so I decided to do the same again for Season Six. You can see the result above; it's 16'36" long, which hopefully won't be too excessive for those interested to sit through.

In brief, it includes a look at the new writers the show had for S6, a run-down of my favourite and least favourite episodes, a short look ahead to next year and a few comments on the complaints some fans have about Starlight Glimmer. There's even a (thankfully very short) song! You'll note that it's pure audio, with no visuals except the title card. This will not be changing; I'm certainly not going down the facecam route, and I don't want to turn it into a semi-animation. Think of BBC Radio 4, but for bronies. :P

Monday, 28 November 2016

Another One Bites the Dust: The Royal Guard calls it a day

As announced over on Fimfiction, one of the most prominent sources of high-quality ponyfic – The Royal Guard – is ceasing operations with immediate effect. The group's members have found it too much of a struggle to keep going in the face of that blasted Real Life thing, and they're just plain tired.

If anything, I'm impressed that TRG lasted as long as it did: accepting free submissions is, even with today's gently declining numbers, a recipe for being snowed under with stories to consider. Twilight's Library, which admittedly had much lower acceptance standards, ended up being beaten by that problem, and recently there have been suggestions from the EQD guys that they too may be considering moving away from the traditional pre-reader model.

On a personal note, it does take away one of my (slight) ambitions: to write a fic good enough to get into TRG. I submitted two stories – It Doesn't Matter Now and We Who with Songs Beguile – and both were rejected. I will confess to being very slightly irritated about the latter, since I was actually prompted to submit it by the pre-reader who rejected IDMN! Ah well, at least with WWwSB I got to add to my collection of coveted Titanium Dragon NRs.

This means that the Royal Canterlot Library is the most prominent group left standing, and of course they go about things in a very different way. Indeed, I think it's very unlikely indeed that we'll ever again see a free-submissions group rise to anything like the prominence that TRG had, or even that TL had. The ponyfic world is shrinking, albeit remarkably slowly, and fewer people have the time and inclination to work on such a thing now.

The Seattle's Angels group is also still in operation, but aside from them and the RCL, all we're really left with now are a bunch of individual reviewers. Down in the lower reaches of that department is little old me, and while I certainly don't consider stories with the rigour that TRG did, I like to think that what I write is at least of some use to people looking for an enjoyable read. Ponyfic Roundup is going nowhere any time soon.

But farewell, The Royal Guard. You played your part in making My Little Pony a place where at least some writers aspired to standards higher – in some cases, far, far higher – than might be expected of a fandom centred on silly talking horses. Be proud of that, TRG members – and when you remember that you were there, do so with a smile. Pinkie Pie would expect nothing less.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

"Welcome to the Show" hits 100 million views!

Equestria Daily has already reported on this, but I'd like to mark the milestone here too. Letupita725HD's upload of the Rainbow Rocks song "Welcome to the Show" has become the first My Little Pony video on YouTube to manage a nine-figure viewer count. Considering that it's only been on the site for just over two years (uploaded 30 Oct 2014), that's impressive stuff. And in the wake of "You're Gonna Go Far Kid" being blocked, it's also good to reflect on the fact that Hasbro's generally calm response to song video uploads – they simply monetise them – means this one is unlikely to go the same way.

As it happens, it may not be all that long before a second MLP video breaks the 100 million barrier – and this time it'll be an actual pony vid: "What My Cutie Mark is Telling Me", uploaded (it says here) by one "Pinkie Pie", is at the time of writing sitting on 96.8 million views! Weirdly, next up seems to be a different upload of "Welcome to the Show", this one with a mere 74.9 million views...

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Now that's a follower collection!

Shrink Laureate, author of the excellent Left Behind (PR 132), has a mere 26 followers on Fimfiction at the time of writing. Not that startling for an author with only five published stories, none of which have over 900 views. But. But. Among those 26 are: AugieDog, RedSquirrel456, Skywriter, Soge and Titanium Dragon. I don't think I've ever seen a writer with such a small total follower count but so many very prominent followers among them. I don't know whether there's a particular reason for it, but I'm impressed!

Friday, 25 November 2016

Comic mini-review: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #48

MLP comic #48, main cover
Celestia: "Hey look, it's a pony comic!"
Luna: "She looks more like a phoney comic to me!"
This is the start of the three-part "Accord" story arc, which will take us up to the landmark #50 issue of the My Little Pony comic. I doubt the series will make it as far as #100, so I really hope this arc ends up being something special. It's certainly got off to a very good start, with a fascinating look at what happens when a strange celestial event turns Discord from a creature of chaos to one of complete order. If anything, he's more frightening in this guise than he was before. The Mane Six play decent supporting roles, but it already seems clear that Starlight Glimmer is going to be Discord's main antagonist here. Andy Price's art, coloured by Heather Breckel, is as expressive and colourful as ever, while Ted Anderson gives us a story that holds the interest throughout. I'm pleased by this one, and if they can keep up this standard for the next two issues, we'll have an arc worthy of its position in the comic series. ★★★★

Thursday, 24 November 2016

"You're Gonna Go Far Kid" PMV blocked on YouTube

YouTube message stating that UMG has blocked the video

As I type this on Wednesday morning UK time, a little piece of fandom history is no more. TheSlutfox's Rainbow Dash PMV, set to a speeded-up version of The Offspring's "You're Gonna Go Far Kid" and released in April 2011, was one of the first to make a really major impact. It's certainly not to everyone's tastes, but with over 25 million views in five and a half years, there's no denying its significance.

You'd have been forgiven for thinking that a video that had survived for that long, with that level of exposure, would be safe. But no: for whatever reason, it has, like nearly all other YouTube uploads of the video, been zapped by UMG. Now, when I go there, all I see is the screen above. I know a bit of searching will find it on other sites – but it's not the same. I'm genuinely sad about this.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Ponyfic Roundup 133: Fruit Edition

Read it Later story count: 490 (-4)

Yes, that's right: fruit. I was originally going to make this one of my mixed bag roundups, but the idea for making it fruit-themed came to me while I was eating a rather nice apple. Appropriately enough. There are five stories in this week's roundup, all of which contribute to your five a day. So make sure you read all of them, then you'll be safe from scurvy until nightfall! :D Not the best week I've ever had with PR, as you'll see, but there's still some interest here.

Apples by Quid Pro Quo
Twilight Eats a Peach by Admiral Biscuit
Lemon Juice by Wing Dancer
Chocolate Covered Grapes by Callisto
Curse of the Yellow Fruit by Berry Delight

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

Monday, 21 November 2016

Pony Music Library 31: "Smile"

Congratulations to Andy Murray. World number one, and he's done it the hard way, in the era of Federer, Nadal and most recently Djokovic. I'm not a particularly big tennis fan, except during Wimbledon, but this really is a fine achievement. And he did it during BronyScot weekend, too!

As things are a little bit quiet at the moment, here's another entry in the Pony Music Library. This classic needs no introduction, so it won't get one!

What? "Smile" (technically "Smile Song", but who calls it that?)

Who? Daniel Ingram, Steffan Andrews (orchestration) and Amy Keating Rogers (lyrics)

Which? Show song

When? November 2011 (leaked); February 2012 (official)

Why? Oh come on, do you really need to ask that? This song first appeared, several months before its scheduled release, just as Season Two was getting into gear. By the time its episode, "A Friend In Deed" actually aired, it was well known throughout the fandom. And so it should be – this is a joyous, utterly Pinkie Pie song that has deservedly become one of Pony's all time-classics. If you feel a little under the weather and in need of a quick pick-me-up, "Smile" is a perfect way to achieve it. You'll be smiling yourself long before the end.

Saturday, 19 November 2016

So, about that future Ponyfic Roundup theme

I got a response to my previous post on this, which in all honesty I didn't expect to. Here are the suggestions I got in that response:
1) Character spotlights, starting with the Mane Six
2) Character spotlights, not starting with the Mane Six
3) Present Perfect
4) Cutlery
I'm not entirely sure how far this has advanced my thinking on the topic. Mind you, given that next week's PR theme will be "fruit", I suspect what the above have in common is that they're all considerably too sensible.

Friday, 18 November 2016

Suggest a Ponyfic Roundup theme!

This idea will probably fall flat on its face for one of three reasons:
1) Nobody actually cares what I write about;
2) People will suggest stuff that's illogical, illegal and/or impossible;
3) Both.
But hey. I didn't get where I am today by being sensible. You may wish to reflect on that for a moment.

So... what would you like to see as the theme of a future Ponyfic Roundup? Characters, settings, genres, authors, you name it. The only real rules are that the theme cannot be one that requires most or all of the fics I review to be Mature-rated, and that I will ignore anything that requires me to read million-word epics.

Let's have those ideas! :)

Thursday, 17 November 2016

UK PonyCon 2016 -- official feedback is open!

If you attended UK PonyCon 2016, the staff there would like to hear from you! The online form is only a few pages long, and the questions are pretty clearly laid out. Also, anyone even thinking of mentioning custard in the course of their feedback answers: I will find you and I will show you Newborn Cuties cartoons. You have been warned.

Here's the link to the feedback form.

I've filled it in myself now. I didn't say anything that would be any great surprise to people who know me and were there. I did say I thought that overall UKPC16 was a fantastic convention. Because it was. :)

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Ponyfic Roundup 132: Rainbow Dash Edition

Read it Later story count: 494 (-1)

I'm not sure whether I've ever posted a PR concentrating on a specific character before – and I'm too lazy to go back and check – but that's what you're getting this week. All the stories reviewed today feature Rainbow in a starring role. I've quite enjoyed doing this, so I think there'll probably be a few more character spotlights in PR over the coming months.

Icarus by Tamar
Left Behind by Shrink Laureate
Rainbow Dash and her love by jbond
Colors by superpony55
Kaleidoscope by Winston
A Dusty Jail by Derpator

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

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Comic mini-review: Friends Forever #33: Applejack and Cherry Jubilee

Friends Forever #33 main cover, showing AJ and CJ
That can't be comfortable, AJ
The Friends Forever series seems to be playing it a little safe with its pairings at the moment: after this issue, the next three will be Pinkie/Cheese, Twilight/Starlight and Rainbow/Soarin. Come on, IDW, let's have some unusual team-ups again, like we did with Luna/Spike, Rarity/Gilda and most recently Fluttershy/Daring Do.

Anyway, that little quibble aside, the Applejack/Cherry comic is a pretty nice one. Tony Fleecs's art and Heather Breckel's colouring fit together to give us a surprisingly varied palette considering that the story is set in the desert. There's still the odd weird AJ face, but they're rare these days. The cutie marks are a tad basic, though. Christina Rice's writing is a bit more uneven: the storyline itself is fine, if not all that original, but the flashback-filled plot does get a little confusing occasionally. Still, AJ herself does pretty well out of it, the guest mare is nicely designed and it's good to see Cherry Jubilee get a starring role. I know I've given a lot of comics three stars recently, but that's because plenty have been what this is: nothing spectacular, just a generally pretty enjoyable story. ★★★

Monday, 14 November 2016

I'm just curious... many of you out there are old-gen fans, either because you were My Little Pony fans before 2010 or because you've learned about G1-G3 ponies since joining the G4 fandom? This isn't being asked for any sort of proper survey or study; as I say, I'm just curious.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Pony Music Library 30: "Smell the Roses"

Time for another song. Now, usually I've used the PML to showcase songs I've loved from the past, but I've never ruled out featuring newer tracks occasionally. Here is one such piece, released just a few days ago but already an instant favourite.

What? "Smell the Roses"

Who? 4everfreebrony

Which? Original song

When? November 2016

Why? This is a lovely, relaxing pop song of the sort I like anyway, so 4everfreebrony had an advantage from the start. It also helps that he's better than many musicians at mixing his tracks so that you can clearly make out the lyrics, rather than having them buried under a heap of other stuff. Although there's a religious background to the song (he based it on a church talk he heard), it's certainly not necessary to share that faith to enjoy this. Especially at a time when so many people are tense and angry, a calming piece of pop like this is just what the doctor ordered. Also, the background graphics, by DragonwolfRooke, are beautiful.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

UK of Equestria's overall S6 ranking list

Over on UK of Equestria, we've been supplying our personal league tables of how all the Season Six episodes compare. I did this last year, and the format is very similar. Once again, we asked people to rank them from 1 to 24, with the premiere and the finale counting as one episode each. We had 18 respondents, one more than we got for the S5 poll. What you see here is based on the overall mean score.

I did the tier boundaries nearly the same way as last year, with a mean score of below five giving a five-star rating, then up to ten giving a four-star rating, and so on. An interesting contrast with S5 is that no S6 episode had a mean worse than 20; there were three last year. However, there was a big gap to the bottom two, so I decided it would be reasonable to give them one-star ratings. The two five-star episodes had no serious challengers at the top.


1. To Where and Back Again
2. The Saddle Row Review


3. Top Bolt
4. Stranger Than Fan Fiction
5. A Hearth's Warming Tail
6. Every Little Thing She Does


7. The Times They Are a Changeling
8. Gauntlet of Fire
9. Newbie Dash
10. Buckball Season
11. No Second Prances
12. The Gift of the Maud Pie
13. The Fault in Our Cutie Marks
14. On Your Marks
15. Where the Apple Lies
16. Spice Up Your Life
17. Dungeons & Discords


18. 28 Pranks Later
19. P.P.O.V. (Pony Point of View)
20. Flutter Brutter
21. Viva Las Pegasus
22. The Crystalling

23. Applejack's "Day" Off
24. The Cart Before the Ponies

Number of times each episode placed first
7: The Saddle Row Review
3: A Hearth's Warming Tail
3: To Where and Back Again
1: Applejack's "Day" Off
1: Gauntlet of Fire
1: Newbie Dash
1: Stranger Than Fan Fiction
1: Top Bolt

Number of times each episode placed last
3: 28 Pranks Later
3: Applejack's "Day" Off
3: A Hearth's Warming Tail
2: No Second Prances
2: Spice Up Your Life
2: The Cart Before the Ponies
1: Dungeons & Discords
1: The Gift of the Maud Pie
1: Newbie Dash

Most controversial (highest standard deviation)
1. A Hearth's Warming Tail
2. Flutter Brutter
3. The Times They Are a Changeling

Least controversial
1. To Where and Back Again
2. The Saddle Row Review
3. The Crystalling

A special mention here has to go to "A Hearth's Warming Tail", which produced a result like nothing I've ever seen before. Apart from one person who placed it 12th, every single voter had it either in their top eight or in their bottom five. Generally speaking, the people who hated it were the same people who didn't like A Christmas Carol itself for one reason or another; not one person liked Dickens' original but hated the ponified version.

The only thing all our voters agreed on was that they enjoyed "To Where and Back Again" – the season finale wasn't placed lower than eighth by a single voter, something which I'll admit surprised me a little given the controversy about the changeling reformation. Every other episode had at least one person who deviated substantially from the consensus: even "Applejack's 'Day' Off" and "The Cart Before the Ponies" had their fans.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Ponyfic Roundup 131: I want Freedom, I want Goodness, I want Sin

Read it Later story count: 495 (+2)

It's Wednesday, which means it's time for me to take yet another look at the horsewords that people on Fimfiction have decided other people on Fimfiction (and elsewhere) might want to look at. There's a small hoof-ful of stories under the microscope today, including a couple of really weird ones. I'm all for weirdness, but it does need to be entertaining or at least satisfying. Hopefully it will be. Here's what's on the list:

Twilight's Strange New Illness by keulan742
Discord Finds Jesus. Literally. by ocalhoun
Celestia Orders a Funko Pop by Aqua Drops
Estrus by Friendly Uncle
Eternal by Pastel Pony
My Mask by Vimbert the Unimpressive

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

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Comic mini-review: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #47

IDW MLP comic #47, main cover showing Filthy Rich
Obviously a companion piece to #46's cover
Yes, I realise I'm horribly behind schedule with these, but at least it allows me to put this review out on US election day. The Applejack/Cherry Jubilee Friends Forever review should be up before too much longer. Anyway, this is the concluding half of the "Filthy Rich gets elected Mayor of Ponyville" arc, and like the first part it's fairly amusing and fairly solid without ascending to brilliance. The story as a whole does feel slightly like filler before the Discord three-parter that comes next, but it's enjoyable filler and I'm okay with that. ★★★

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Remember this?

Yeah, you're right, this is just filler. But hey, if the show can do it, why can't I do the same? I remember when this video came out in July 2012, and it blew me (and plenty of other people) away. JanAnimations got even better later on, before the C&D hit, but this was the first time I realised what a superbly talented animator the guy was. Also, I heard EileMonty sing the song live at BUCK years ago, which is definitely worth some memory-jogging. :)

Also, in case you're one of the three people wondering: no, I'm not going to be featuring the song (by MandoPony) in the Pony Music Library, for the simple reason that the song is pretty much inseparable from the PMV in my mind.

Friday, 4 November 2016

Pony Music Library 29: "My Arms Around Her"

It's been a while since we've had one of these on here! A lesser-known song today, albeit from a musician who was once one of the most famous in the fandom. He's now moved on and changed his account's name, and this video is unlisted – but the archive containing it is openly linked from the guy's current YouTube page, so I see no reason not to include it here.

What? "My Arms Around Her"

Who? UnderpΩny

Which? Original song based on sample from show

When? March 2012

Why? The artist's comment about this relaxing Applejack-themed piece is "a simple song for a simple pony", and that about sums it up. It uses a loop of background music written by William Anderson, who UnderpΩny felt didn't get sufficient credit. I'm not a huge fan of country music on the whole, but this track fits AJ very well indeed. As long as you're not bothered about the human/pony romance overtones, it's an excellent, laid-back song to have playing – fittingly enough – in the background.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Text Review Roundup: Legend of Everfree

Trixie points as Gaea approaches
"Look over there! Can it be... a peanut butter cracker?"
Here we go with the long-promised TRR for EqG 4! As you'd expect, there are a fair number of reviewers weighing in on this movie who don't generally comment on Friendship is Magic itself. Quite a range of opinions about this film, too, albeit largely positive ones...

Articles of Destroyer – generally positive (rated 7.5/10; "poorly developed romance, but there’s a lot to appreciate")

Common Sense Media – slightly negative (two stars; "[a]ppropriate only for kids who are comfortable with pretend scares and action.")

Derpy News – extremely positive (graded A; "truly on par with Rainbow Rocks")

The Entertainment Nut – underwhelmed (graded C+; "turns what should be an exciting adventure, into something that just seems to meander along")

Inside Pulse – positive (rated 4.0(/5?); "filled with musical moments to keep fans entertained and humming along")

Louder Yay – mildly positive (three stars; "a notch above 'just okay', but no more than that")

MLEEP Reviews – extremely positive (rated 9.5/10; "came pretty damn close to becoming my favorite film in the franchise")

Pop Culture Beast – very positive ("might be the best Equestria Girls movie so far")

Super Recaps – mixed ("a whole lot of wasted potential [but] still a lot of fun"

TheDragonWarlock – mixed (graded B-; "better pacing and a much clearer story [but] huge plot holes ... and ... a rather anti-climatic ending")

Thrond Media Pony Corner – negative (rated 40%; "an insubstantial, repetitive slog")

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Ponyfic Roundup 130: To Rest my Eyes in Shades of Green

Read it Later story count: 493

After the break for UK PonyCon last week, PR is back! Before I begin, I'll note that a couple of reviewers whose views I respect have been considerably less complimentary about Canterlot Seven (PR 128) than I was, so I went back and read it again. There's little doubt in my mind that its effectiveness does largely depend on not seeing the twist coming – but not being particularly genre-savvy, I didn't. So it's keeping its four-star rating here. This week's little collection is a fairly mixed lot:

Pinkie Pie Gets A Credit Card by GeodesicDragon
Appellation Mountains by FanOfMostEverything
Sail of the Vampire by Dramapony
Nothing is Scarier by DuncanR
The Epic Battle Of Good Versus Slightly Less Good But Still Pretty Good In The Long Run by Akumokagetsu

★: 0 | ★★: 2 | ★★★: 3 | ★★★★: 0 | ★★★★★: 0

New(ish) story by me: Starlight Repeatedly Teleports into Custard

Title image: a bowl of custard

Starlight Repeatedly Teleports into Custard by Loganberry
Starlight Glimmer and Twilight
Random/Slice of Life; 2k words; Oct 2016; Teen
Starlight's teleportation skills are becoming very impressive. There's just one little problem...
Starlight's teleportation skills are becoming very impressive. There's just one little problem... she doesn't seem to be able to go anywhere without coming to a rather sticky end. Okay, not end exactly. But definitely sticky. 
"As soon as I saw this story title, I was like, This is a good story idea." – Super Trampoline

I've been posting about my UK PonyCon experience over the last few days, but here's a story that somehow ended up being linked to my time at the convention. It was actually published for no sensible reason a couple of days beforehand, but for some weird reason it took on minor meme status at the con. Our pub quiz team was even called "Custard's Last Stand". I'm pleased to say that it's getting a much warmer reception than Sunset's Sales Snag did.

Also, while at the convention, I seem to have at least semi-committed to writing a sequel of sorts. With that in mind, I officially dub this fic the first story in the Custardverse.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

UK PonyCon 2016, Monday: Goodbye Giant Horse City, plus Afterthoughts

Me holding a tub of custard
I'm not going to dignify this picture with a response... :P
Sorry for forgetting to post this blog this morning! Anyway... the Monday morning after a convention is never the most enjoyable time, all the more so if the con has been as great as UK PonyCon 2016 was. I didn't know of any farewell breakfasts, so I had a quiet early morning and checked out around 10 am. Once again, the bus into Leeds was late, though I did hear rumours that an accident had blocked the road earlier. Past the break for more!

Monday, 31 October 2016

UK PonyCon 2016, Sunday: Public gaming and tiramisu

Part of the "Maretropolis High Street" vendor hall
A small part of Maretropolis High Street. I loved the pony-coloured lighting effects!
Here I am again with the third out of four reports from UK PonyCon 2016. As with the others, this is simply a record of my personal experience and shouldn't be taken as anything more than that. After all, there were many events I couldn't or didn't attend! Past the break you can get some more of my lovely rambling. :P

Saturday, 29 October 2016

UK PonyCon 2016, Saturday: Rhubarb and custard

The hotel TV playing pony songs from USB
Now that Travelodge TVs have USB sockets, I could prepare properly!
Saturday was the really big day at UK PonyCon, and I was at the convention for something like 13 hours all told. I had a superb time, and if you come with me past the break you'll get a lot of rambly waffle (much longer than the Friday report!) explaining why it was so much fun.

Friday, 28 October 2016

UK PonyCon 2016, Friday: Giant horses and onion bhajis

Equus Altus sculputre, Trinity shopping centre, Leeds
Giant Horse activate!
I spent last weekend at UK PonyCon 2016, which was held in Leeds. More precisely, in the Royal Armouries Hall at the Royal Armouries Museum. (It was the Royal Armouries, don't you know.) The tl;dr version is that I had an absolutely fantastic time, and might well rank this as my favourite MLP convention of all five I've attended (BUCK 2013 & '14; UKPC 2014, '15 & '16). Assuming UKPC 2017 happens, and if I can be there, I will be there.

Come past the break with me for the thrilling tale of packed trains, giant horses and muffins that was Friday.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Text Review Roundup: "To Where and Back Again"

Starlight Glimmer and freaking-out Trixie
We could have done with that spell back in "Boast Busters" and "Magic Duel"...
This will be the last episode TRR for a while, though there'll be one for Legend of Everfree, which I'll try to get up before too long. The Season Six finale went down very well among people I talked to, although the manner of the changeling reformation wasn't universally adored. Here's what the text-based reviewers made of the episode. We have the biggest range of opinions I've ever seen, though it was pretty easy to predict where the lowest scores would come from.

Sadly, Articles of Destroyer and Batbrony Reviews have not updated to cover the finale – indeed, AoD hasn't posted anything since "Where the Apple Lies" – but I've added Mercury-Ami to the mix. (Adit: and Analysis is Magic, too.)

Analysis is Magic – largely positive ("To suggest that the Changelings are 'ruined' ... is, I think, to misunderstand the central themes of the show")

ArthurCrane – very positive ("this episode kicks all the butts")

Derpy News – extremely positive (graded A; "something different and amazing")

Louder Yay – very positive (four stars; "in the upper echelons of S6")

Mercury-Ami – wildly positive (graded A+; "the show's best episode since Twilight's Kingdom")

MLEEP Reviews – wildly positive (rated 10/10; "knocks it out of the park")

The Railfan Brony Blog – spectacularly negative (rated minus 10/10; "the smoking crater of MLP's drop in quality")

The Super Mario Brony Blog – spectacularly negative (rated minus five stars; "this atrocity of a season finale")

Super Recaps – mixed (great first half but "payoff just didn’t come together")

TheDragonWarlock – fairly positive (graded B; "nowhere near the awesomeness of Twilight’s Kingdom, but it is a step up from the last season finale")

Thrond Media Pony Corner – positive (rated 83%; "solid characterization ... well-written dialogue ... a really enjoyable episode")

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Episode review: S6E25&26: "To Where and Back Again"

Queen Chrysalis makes her entrance
Right in front of the princesses. That has to be deliberate
Well. Well. After quite a ride during Season Six, we've come to the season finale at last. Well, actually some of us in the UK saw it weeks ago, and I saw it again at UK PonyCon on Saturday, but still. The writers were Josh Haber and Michael Vogel, so the big guns were definitely being wheeled out. Was I about to see a story for the ages, or would I end up disappointed and wishing that "Top Bolt" had actually been the last episode of the season? Find out by clicking past the break.

Monday, 24 October 2016

Brief update

I'm back from UK PonyCon. Had a fantastic time. Report coming soonish. And an episode review for the S6 finale. Plus, eventually and if I remember, TRR for the finale and Legend of Everfree. No Ponyfic Roundup this week, though. Probably for the best.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Film review: Legend of Everfree

SciTwi makes everything levitate
"The script! How are we going to sound natural now?"
Sadly, the fourth Equestria Girls movie has not been given a cinema release in the UK, so I can't repeat my big-screen viewings from the first three films. Nevertheless, Pop has now shown it over here, and with that official showing having come about I think it's time for a review. (Screenshots are from the HD Brazilian airing, though.) I don't mind EqG, but so far only one instalment – Rainbow Rocks – has really risen above the "well, that wasn't bad" level to become a personal favourite. Past the break, let's see whether LoE could do it.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Text Review Roundup: "Top Bolt"

Twilight looking thrilled at the prospect of the classroom portion
S6 seems to have given us more of Adorkable Twilight than for some time. I approve
I've written another very silly story. This one is getting a considerably warmer reception than the last one. More on that when I have time next week, but for now it's TRR once again. The last "normal" episode of Season Six (and actually the last episode of all if you were watching on Tiny Pop!) got a very good reception on UK of Equestria, but how will it do with the text-based reviewers? The answer is... very well! Not a single reviewer actually dislikes this episode, and quite a few of them absolutely love it.

ArthurCrane – generally positive ("turns out to be pretty decent")

Articles of Destroyer – N/A (review not up as TRR went to press)

Batbrony Reviews – positive ("a solid penultimate episode")

Derpy News – wildly positive (graded A+; "a top tier episode")

Louder Yay – very positive (four stars; "a fine piece of Friendship is Magic storytelling")

MLEEP Reviews – wildly positive (rated 10/10; "soared its way to the top of the class")

The Railfan Brony Blog – very positive (rated 9/10; "It was actually really great!")

The Super Mario Brony Blog – wildly positive (five stars; "one of the series' finest outings")

Super Recaps – very positive ("refreshing to get an episode that works so damn well")

TheDragonWarlock – fairly positive (graded B+; "While there are some issues ... this is a good episode for both Twilight and Rainbow.")

Thrond Media Pony Corner – extremely positive (rated 95%; "the friendship problem in this episode is one of the best this show has ever had")

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Ponyfic Roundup 129: God Save Donald Duck, Vaudeville and Variety

For the last PR before my mini-hiatus, I have another five stories to look at. Unusually for me, two of them are Mature-rated pieces, though neither is a clopfic in the usual sense of the word. Not a week with any standout fics, but there are several in the "if you like this stuff, this fic's worth a look" category.

The Worst Clopfic Ever by Noir de Plume
One Step Closer by InvaderSplorch
Fluttershy's Nice Fanfic by Jay-The Brony
Story of the Blanks by Aoshi Stark
Toola Roola Paints a Picture by Captain_Hairball

★: 0 | ★★: 3 | ★★★: 2 | ★★★★: 0 | ★★★★★: 0

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

With UK PonyCon coming up this weekend...

...there will be a few temporary changes on the Louder Yay front. Here's what to expect this week:

Tomorrow: Ponyfic Roundup 129
Thursday: Text Review Roundup for "Top Bolt"
Friday: Film review for Legend of Everfree

After that, things will go quiet here for a few days, as I certainly won't be updating the blog from the convention, and I won't be home until Monday afternoon. So, next week, there will not be a Ponyfic Roundup – I just won't have enough time to do it. Instead, at some point there'll be a report post about the con. Don't expect anything that special.

As for the finale: my review should appear at some point next week, but I'm not going to give a specific day. I hope also to get Text Review Roundup done, since that's considerably quicker to write than Ponyfic Roundup is. I doubt I'll have time for any Pony Music Library posts, but I'll decide that as I go along.

After next week, I intend to return to my usual schedule, though the absence of any new Friendship is Magic episodes may mean a little more variety in what gets posted here.

In the meantime, if anyone wants to keep in touch over con weekend, the best way is via Twitter; you can find me at @louderyay.

Monday, 17 October 2016

Episode review: S6E24: "Top Bolt"

Twilight and Rainbow Dash trying unsuccessfully not to look worried
The wind did indeed change that day
Thanks to Tiny Pop, this was actually the last episode of Season Six that I got to see. That being so, I was hoping that it would be a good one. I was encouraged by the identity of the writers: Joanna Lewis and Kristine Songco have a solid record, with only one of their four previous episodes ("The Hooffields and McColts") failing to get a four-star rating here. I was also hoping this would live up to the last Rainbow/Twilight episode, the excellent "Testing Testing 1, 2, 3" from S4. Come with me past the break to see what I thought.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Pony Music Library 28: "The Way She Flies"

With only a week left before the convention, things are starting to get busier, and it's going to be all I can do even to keep up with the weekly features for a while. With that in mind, I thought it was about time I added another entry to the PML. Luckily, I had this one ready to go.

What? "The Way She Flies"

Who? Phileo

Which? Original song

When? April 2013

Why? Because it's time for some good old guitar rock, and Rainbow Dash is the obvious pony to provide it. Phileo's style fits her wonderfully well, and the first minute or so is an irresistible build-up to a fabulous chorus. It's loud without being distorted, energetic without being overdone – and just all-round Rainbow Dash. Also, it samples the "Louder! Yay" scene, so I could hardly ignore it for this blog! The one brief real-world reference is a bit of a shame, but it doesn't detract from the effectiveness of the song as a whole. Note that the original version of the video had a one-minute intro, partly spent advertising past conventions, which I don't think does anything for the song. If you really want that, here it is.

Friday, 14 October 2016

Mini-essay: Decline, not Fall

"We will never fade," runs the line in “Join the Herd” – but it's wrong. We will. We are.

People may object and argue and say it ain't so, but the evidence is mostly against them. Compared with the boom times, there's less of nearly everything: music, stories, animation. Even Bronycon's attendance fell this year.

There's the 2017 movie, and we now know that S7 will happen, and the EqG specials too – but after that? Does anyone truly imagine we'll get many more seasons of FiM? I doubt it. We're well into the twilight time (sorry) of this show now.

That may sound rather depressing, so here's something more optimistic:

Our fandom won't die.

Not next year, not in five years, not ever.


Consider this. There is still a G1 fandom out there. No, it's not huge, but it's still active after more than 30 years. Those G1 fans didn't abandon the MLP they loved when Hasbro moved on.

We can learn from them. There's nothing forcing us to abandon the MLP we love once G4 ends.

It's the previous line of the song that matters:

"Do not be afraid."

Fading – but not to black.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Text Review Roundup: "Where the Apple Lies"

Granny about to "operate" on Big McIntosh
Hey, don't give the NHS any ideas!
This was the only episode of the final four that I didn't see first on Tiny Pop, though I don't think that made any difference to my review. (I'm old enough, with bad enough eyes, not to care all that much about watching in 576p.) It got a pretty positive reaction on the day, but the text-based reviewers take in a fairly wide spread of opinions. As always, please let me know if you find any other people posting reviews – proper ones, not just the odd sentence in a forum discussion. Thanks!

ArthurCrane – mixed ("While all of this is pretty interesting, I wish there was a better story behind it")

Articles of Destroyer – extremely positive (rated 9/10; "a fantastic episode")

Batbrony Reviews – extremely positive ("a delightfully enjoyable surprise")

Derpy News – mixed (graded B-; "an OK episode, but the lying by AJ got quite cringeworthy [and she was] a little too easily forgiven")

Louder Yay – positive (three stars; "a solid, likeable story")

MLEEP Reviews – very positive (rated 9.5/10; "a pretty great episode")

The Railfan Brony Blog – positive (rated 8/10; "The plot isn't anything new [but] it was handled quite nicely")

The Super Mario Brony Blog – positive (four stars; "I just like it if not intensely love it")

Super Recaps – rather negative ("safe ... felt like a wasted opportunity")

TheDragonWarlock – mixed (rated 7/10; "isn't a bad episode, but it does end up being rather boring")

Thrond Media Pony Corner – rather negative (rated 53%; "ultimately a slog")

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Ponyfic Roundup 128: Seven Maids with Seven Mops

And now we know that Season Seven is on the way in the spring. That seems a reasonable hiatus: short enough to keep things interesting, but long enough to allow me to write a bit! This week on PR, in celebration of the news, I'm reviewing a bunch of fics whose titles include the number seven. Sadly there are only five of them, but never mind. A good deal of variation in terms of how much I enjoyed them.

7 Minutes by P0nies
Pick Me Up At Seven by Jondor
Canterlot Seven by LightOfTriumph
The 7 Keys by dashiedash
Seven Months by Brawny Steed

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

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Most and Least Rewatchable: Season Five

The Cutie Mark Crusaders about to receive their cutie marks
In which the CMC achieve cold fusion
Things have been pretty busy lately, what with the last four episodes of Season Six coming at such a rush, but I've managed to squeeze in enough time to write this piece. Although I will be doing one for S6, that will not appear in the near future; it may not even be this year. I will try to get it done before S7 kicks into gear in the spring, though. After all, 2017 looks like a really busy year for Pony, perhaps the busiest in G4 history!

Back to S5 now – and "Slice of Life" isn't in either list, so there.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Episode review: S6E23: "Where the Apple Lies"

Young Applejack, having just told a lie
"An' y'all know I never been at any of that scrumpy"
Happy Birthday to Friendship is Magic, which turns six years old today! As I've already said, I have seen (and liked) the finale, but I'll be leaving the review until after it's been shown in the US. Today, then, it's back to a normal ep. This was not shown in the UK, almost certainly on account of extensive mentions of cider. It's written by Dave Rapp, who wrote the very enjoyable "Newbie Dash" and "Flutter Brutter", so I had high hopes. Past the break, I'll waffle on as usual.