Sunday, 30 July 2017

Twilight's Ultimate Guide to the MLP Fandom

I can't remember how I found Twilight's Ultimate Guide to the MLP Fandom the other day, but I'm glad I did. It's a text-heavy page that tries to give a potted introduction to our weird and wonderful fandom, written by someone called Ajedi32 – here's the original Reddit post it's linked from, though I didn't find it from there.

There are sections covering animations, games, music and so on, but of course I was most interested in the fanfic section. Sadly Ajedi32 doesn't seem to be much into ponyfic, but there's a list of ten twelve stories they've had recommended to them. I've read them all apart from Through the Well of Pirene, and I'm now starting to read that one!

The Reddit post was made earlier this year, which means it's more up to date than some of the similar guides we see around the net, though perhaps not that up to date – it generally seems to cover up to around S5. One oddity is that it tries to avoid the most unavoidable spoiler in the fandom by referring to, eg, the "[Redacted] Twilight Orchestral Suite"!

Also oddly, the list of books includes Journal of the Two Sisters but not the Elements of Harmony guidebooks. The chapter book list is complete up to Starlight Glimmer and the Secret Suite but doesn't feature Trixie's book. Still, none of this stops the guide being a pretty good example of its type if you don't need pictures and videos every paragraph.

Friday, 28 July 2017


I was surprised and disappointed recently to discover that MandoPony has apparently scrubbed the majority of his pony-related songs from his YouTube account. He hasn't just made them unlisted as some others have, but has made them private and entirely inaccessible. It doesn't seem just to be a "Please buy my music instead" thing, as "Harmony" (to take just one example) is not available from his BandCamp page either.

A few of the really big songs ("Loyalty" and "Horse Famous", for example) are still available, but out of 42 songs in his "Pony Music" playlists (one and two) just 11 remain available at the time of writing. Some of the others can still be found via other people's re-uploads, but I doubt all can.

As the owner of these songs, it's MandoPony's right to take them away from public display – but I think it's really sad to see significant parts of fandom history just disappear like this, especially with no apparent notice or explanation being given. I really wish musicians wouldn't do this sort of thing.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Tips for UK PonyCon-goers 3: Don't get caught short

I'm continuing my little series of hints and tips for people planning on attending UK PonyCon this year. As ever, these are mainly aimed at first-timers, but I'm happy if they're useful for anyone else, too.

Tip 3: Find where the toilets are!

When you get into the con venue, the first thing you'll need to do is register. The second should be to find out where the toilets are. You may well be here for more than 12 hours on the Saturday, so you're certainly going to need to know this crucial information during your time at the convention – learn before you need it more urgently!

Last year, there was a small plan of the venue in the conbook, and such things are handy, but to fix the location in your mind you really need to learn the route to the toilets yourself. Apart from anything else, there's bound to be a point at which you need to dash there before an imminent new event or panel that starts in five minutes' time.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Ponyfic Roundup 167: No Churns, No Porter, No Cat on a Seat

I now have a "new" PC, so yay for that. It's nothing very thrilling (an ex-corporate Dell i3) but it's a huge improvement on the previous computer simply because it can go more than a few hours without crashing. :P

Read it Later story count: 404 (nc)

I've ended up reviewing five E-rated stories this time round. I don't think that really qualifies as an Edition, since I didn't set out to do it, but still. Admittedly, some of these rather stretch the E rating, which officially is supposed to mean "stuff you might see in the show", but I don't think it's a huge deal. I'd be annoyed to see an E-rated story with hard swearing in, but nothing like that's happened this week. We have:

Bonafide by Sharp Spark
Drug by RarityEQM
Words Failed Her by Nonsanity
Selling Out by Kaorin
I'll See You to Shore by Educated Guess

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

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

And even more custard news!

Sheet music for "Custard Song"
Has MuseScore ever been used to less useful effect?
I'd say I was sorry, but it wouldn't really be true. :D

Monday, 24 July 2017

More custard news

For reasons that I confess largely escape me, Starlight Repeatedly Teleports into Custard has been given a Seattle's Angels feature. That's provided me with about 30 extra views, so I'm not complaining, but I fear I must disappoint reviewer RTStephens, who suggested I write a sequel involving Trixie and a vat of pudding. For one, it's already been done (main-series comic #21) and for two, I already know what the sequel is going to be – and it'll come out just before UK PonyCon in October.

That said, I do agree with Snails where dessert is concerned.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Tips for UK PonyCon-goers 2: Ch-ch-change!

Time for the next tip for those attending UK PonyCon – which starts in three months from today! – especially people who haven't been before and don't quite know what to expect:

Tip 2: Take lots of change!

Cash is king at conventions. Some vendors might accept cards or PayPal or AppleThing, but you really can't count on any of them. Don't blithely assume there'll be an ATM ten yards away, either – the nearest permanent cashpoint is roughly a 15-minute walk away at Asda.

So take actual, old-fashioned money. And try your best to make sure that some of it is in change. If you buy a small badge or something costing £1.50 and can actually hand over £1.50 rather than a £20 note, the vendor will love you for it. Don't worry too much if you can't make up the exact money, but do your best.

Note that most buses in Bristol will give change, unlike in many big cities, so if you get any from that source, hang onto it.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

I like the way the fandom thinks

Note: this post itself is not spoilery, but the comments might be!

Equestria Daily has a poll running asking people what they're most looking forward to about the forthcoming movie. There are eight choices. Since it's not spoilery, I can mention here that the current numbers are:

1. Story (37%)
8. New Big Name Actors (2%)

Admittedly the fandom probably doesn't have entirely the same priorities as Hasbro, but never mind!

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Ponyfic Roundup 166: Derpy Edition!

For those who know about such things: is there any significant difference between the type of stories you find on the AugieDog account and those you find on the Baal Bunny one? I'm probably missing something really obvious, but that's what I do.

Read it Later story count: 404 (-4)

This was planned and the stories read well before my recent Derpy-related post – yes, even the first story below – but it's a nice coincidence. I thought it was about time I had a themed edition of PR again, and Derpy was the winner of the Great Pony Lottery. Which was not in any way fixed. *cough* Here's this week's bunch o' fics:

Too Good For Us by Skeeter The Lurker
The Corners of (Our) Eyes by Daemon McRae
Let a Smile be Your Umbrella by Pascoite
Beep, Boop, I Will Destroy You! by NightWolf289
Insufficient Postage by Razgriz57
Today, Tomorrow, and Forever by ChoppersTopHat

★: 0 | ★★: 2 | ★★★: 3 | ★★★★: 1 | ★★★★★: 0

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Tips for UK PonyCon 1: Shoes, Shoes, Shoes!

Now that we're well inside 100 days until UK PonyCon 2017, I thought I'd actually do what I keep saying I will and put up a few little hints and tips. These are mostly aimed at people who haven't been to a convention before – they're the sort of stuff I'd have found useful when I first went to one – but of course I'm glad if anyone at all finds them helpful. Let's start with the one that tops every list:

Tip 1: Wear comfortable shoes

You can wing it with some things at a convention, but not this one. Unless you actually have wings (or Twilight-level teleportation ability) you're going to be doing a great deal of walking. Probably plenty of standing around as well, especially if you spend much time in queues.

Note that "comfortable" is far more important than "smart". When I went to BUCK 2014, I wore brand new shoes that hadn't been properly broken in. Mistake! I had to kludge things with tissues stuffed inside on the second day to stop myself from being in total agony. Don't be like me.

If you wear shoes that pinch or rub or are full of holes, you will regret it. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Writer slams poor research, but how much did he do himself?

Over on Gizmondo (and that's not a way I want to start too many posts here!) a guy named Rhett Jones has posted an article entitled "Researchers Are Sorry They Used 'Derpy' in a Research Paper". I tend to agree with Jones that it's generally a bad idea to use non-standard language in research papers. However, seeing a massive picture of our Derpy at the top of the article, I read on to see whether there was any My Little Pony content. And here's what I found:
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic reinforced the association between derpy and language mocking people with disabilities when it controversially renamed a character previously called “Derpy” that was clumsy and had crossed eyes. Fan boys petitioned to “save Derpy,” failed, and the term officially became part of the war on “politically correct” language.
So, Mr Jones has written an article complaining about poor research, yet has clearly done almost none himself, at least where the MLP fandom is concerned. Why does life have to be so ironic?

Note: having read Oilyvalves' comment below, I wonder whether I might have been unfair here. Feel free to tell me so if you think I have.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

How the Telegraph covered the very first UK PonyCon. (Badly.)

Way way back many centuries ago in 2004, the inaugural UK PonyCon took place in Morecambe. There are still a few people around who've been to every one of the convention's iterations, but the fandom was inevitably a rather different place in those far-off pre-brony days.

Recently, I discovered that the Telegraph had written about the con, and that its own archive gave free access to this report by Rebecca Tyrrel. It's an interesting window into the past, but one that's sadly marred by the patronising tone with which many of us are all too familiar.

I'm not one of those people who thinks it would help for fans to snub the mainstream media entirely, and there have been good pieces – for example, the BBC's piece on bronies from 2013. It's just a shame to see that the sneery attitude was around even long before G4.

Friday, 14 July 2017

Pony Music Library 44: "Shy Heart"

What? "Shy Heart"

Who? Ponyphonic (full credits at end of post)

Which? Original song

When? November 2016

Why? Because it's one of the most wonderful Fluttershy tracks I've had the pleasure of hearing – and I've heard a lot! It's no surprise that a Ponyphonic song would be excellent, but this one got to me emotionally in a way very few Fluttersongs can do. The singer (Ponyphonic's sister!) has a lovely voice that suits the character perfectly, and she gives the piece a fragile beauty without taking things over the top. The other parts match the vocals excellently, too; for all I'm impressed by what can be done with computers these days, there's no substitute for real instruments. I could easily imagine this on a film soundtrack. I went to the YouTube video of this to check I was linking to the right one – and I ended up listening to the whole song. That says it all. This is Fluttershy, and I can give a song no higher praise.

Full credits
Vocals: Christina Ellis
Guitar: Don Larson
Violins: Brittany Davidson and Emilio Vazquez
Viola: Seth Willey
Cello: Gillian Kuroiwa
String Recording: Mark Lanus
Writing/Arrangement: Dane Larson

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Second-wave UK PonyCon tickets go on sale tomorrow

As many will know, sales of Saturday and Weekend tickets were suspended in early June owing to unprecedented demand. The committee wanted to put things on hold until they could visit Bristol together to discuss things with each other and the venue management.

This has now happened, and the committee have decided to book more space in the venue and to rearrange some of their plans. This will mean extra work for them, so major thanks are in order. This will mean that UK PonyCon 2017 will be the largest iteration ever!

The big news is that Weekend tickets will go back on sale tomorrow. Sunday-only and Stallholder tickets were not suspended anyway and sales of those will continue. If I'm reading the official post correctly, Saturday-only and VIP tickets will not go back on sale.

Also! If you bought a Sunday-only ticket during the suspension period (4th June to 13th July) you will be able to buy an upgrade to a Weekend ticket by paying the difference in price at the usual ticket store, meaning you won't have to buy a whole new Weekend ticket.

Keep an eye on the official UK PonyCon site and the ticket store to make sure you stay right up to date with what's happening on this score.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Ponyfic Roundup 165: Home for Retired Bears

Read it Later story count: 408 (-11)

My PC is still dying, but I haven't been able to get the time, money, money or time to replace it yet, so I'm struggling on with the one I've got for now. At least I've managed to get five stories read this week, which frankly feels like something of an achievement. Okay, okay, the nice weather helped – sitting in the garden with a book is one of life's nicer little pleasures. Here's what I've got for you today:

The Archer and the Smith by Sharaloth
Mayor Mare Has a Problem by Noble Thought
I'm Not A Firefly by SirTruffles
Those Awful Rumors 'Round Town by PresentPerfect
Mister Lonely Heart by Eskerata

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

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Bits and pieces

First: if there's anyone left who hasn't seen Oilyvalves' spectacular Lego Rainbow Dash – made from 3,700 bricks! – then gallop right over to this EqD post from a couple of weeks ago. I declare an interest here in that a) he's a friend, and b) I've seen Lego Dash in person (at a meet). And yes, she really does look tremendous. :D

Second: the July edition of Flashfic 150 is currently open for submissions. The closing date is the 21st of this month, so you have plenty of time. This month's prompt is Crossing Over, chosen by last month's winner, Chris.

Third: has anyone in the UK seen the Series 4 Enterplay Fun Pack cards (not the CCG packs) in actual, bricks-and-mortar shops? I was in a Forbidden Planet recently and they still had the ancient Series 3 on sale, but no S4 cards.

Fourth: I haven't forgotten about the Pony Music Library, but my dying PC is really not helping matters there. However, I will try to get a new post in that series up sometime in the next week or so.

Fifth: a quick survey of friends at the last Worcester meet revealed that most but not all had seen the movie trailer. As such, I've decided to continue to spoiler-cut posts that give away anything about that.

There's probably something I've forgotten, but you should be used to that by now!

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Logan and NSFW Pony stuff

If you happen to follow me on Twitter, you'll have seen a potted version of this post last night. But I want to make something very clear. There are certain things in this fandom that I don't want anything to do with. One of them is most definitely "Look how drunk I am, hur hur hur". If that's your bag, well that's your business, as long as you do it well away from me. But if you want me anywhere near your social event, don't make it dependent on the putting-away of stupid quantities of alcohol. (Or any drug stronger than caffeine.) The whole concept bores the hell out of me.

Secondly, I have very limited tolerance for NSFW. Yes, I read the occasional Mature-rated ponyfic – but that's about it. I won't even go to 18+ fandom events, as a matter of principle. For me, the social aspect of this fandom is absolutely bound up with its all-ages, family-friendly nature, and I'm not prepared to compromise on that. So I'm going to have very little patience with you if you start trying to tell me that All Lewd Butts Chat, All The Time or whatever is something I'd love. No. I wouldn't. I really, really wouldn't.

This fandom matters to me. I don't care how silly that sounds. I don't care how silly it is. It matters for a whole host of reasons, some minor and some very important to me indeed. I don't have a problem if your personal fandom is very different from mine. That's great. Go for your life, as the Aussies would say. But don't you bloody dare try to force my fandom to be like that too. I'm not going to appreciate it, and I'm going to tell you that in language a great deal blunter than I use on here.

For the avoidance of doubt, nothing I've said here is as a result of anything that's happened on this blog, and I very much doubt anyone reading this will be among the people it's really aimed at. I just needed to get it out. End of rant.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

"Anthropology" – new piano cover by Matías Peñaloza

AwkwardMarina's Lyra song, "Anthropology", has been one of my favourite fandom tracks since I heard it for the very first time at BUCK 2013. Now, the always excellent Matías Peñaloza has published a really nice piano cover of the song. It's pretty faithful to the original, but with just enough variety to give it a character of its own. I like it a good deal.

Friday, 7 July 2017

Episode review: S7E13: "The Perfect Pear"

Back in March, I reviewed EbonQuill's Slouching Towards Canterlot for Ponyfic Roundup 150. I enjoyed it a good deal and awarded it four stars. Unfortunately, Pascoite points out in a comment on that PR that it isn't as original as I'd imagined. Disappointing. Hopefully less disappointing is my getting up to date with episode reviews!

The Apple Siblings talk to Mrs Cake
Finding a non-spoilery picture for this episode was not easy
It's taken a ridiculous amount of time, but here at last is my review of the halfway point of Season 7. It's another fairly short one, because otherwise you'll still be waiting when S8 begins. This was written by Joanna Lewis and Kristine Songco, and the Lady Writers are usually good value with their episodes. This was a much-anticipated ep, and for anyone who hasn't yet seen it: what's beyond the break will be really, really spoilery. If that's not a problem to you, follow me!

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Ponyfic Roundup 164: Dying PC Edition :P

Read it Later story count: 419 (-2)

If this post stops suddenly, it's because my PC died before I could finish editing. :P Anyway, assuming I make it all the way through, there'll be four stories under review this week, including a couple of real old-timers. The fics are are:

Easy As Pie by xjuggernaughtx
Sauna Talk by FlutterLights
Just an Assistant by RadicalDishonesty
Tonight I Shall Be Laughter by Cloud Wander

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

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Reduced activity for a little while

Just a heads-up: my PC is on its way to dying, and it's doing so at a particularly irritating time financially. As such, it may be a little while before I have a reliable computer at home again. It's sort of working still, but that's as far as it goes. I can write up scheduled posts on public PCs when I have the time – but that's not very often.

For now, I'll be prioritising Ponyfic Roundup and any UK PonyCon news I notice, as well as doing my best to keep up with Flashfic 150 over on Fimfiction. (July prompt, chosen by Chris: "Crossing Over".) Anything else will have to be fitted in where I can manage it. I'm just relieved I'm a writer rather than a video or game maker, since the necessary PC specs are a fair bit lower – and so, therefore, is the price of a useable second-hand machine!

Ponyfic Roundup 164 will appear tomorrow, unless the PC totally Norwegian Blues before then. Regrettably it'll be another brief edition, since I spent yesterday evening messing around inside the PC case rather than reading, but it will contain at least three reviews. So yay and woo-hoo and suchlike.

Edit: Oh, and the E13 review will also, at last, appear in the next few days. I hope.

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Reviewer Reviews Reviewed

Chris has an occasional series called "Reviewer Reviews" in which he looks at how some of the more prolific ponyfic reviewers go about their business. A couple of weeks ago, it was my turn.

I was a little nervous about this, especially given that the period chosen (Ponyfic Roundups 157 to 160) was not one I think of as my best, but it worked out okay. Chris rightly says that my reviews give a lot of weight to my personal enjoyment or otherwise of the fics I look at – and that's how PR is intended to work. It's always been a slightly expanded "Here are some fics I read and what I thought of them" rather than anything more formal, and I don't expect that to change much.

One of the parts of Chris's piece that stood out was a paragraph in which he compared my reviewing style to Present Perfect's:
Both of them are agreeable and on the laconic side, and both briefly focus on a few key elements rather than trying to discuss every element of every story.  But whereas PP uses a lot of humor and self-depreciation to make his point while still coming off as friendly, Logan's writing has more of a good-natured, self-aware earnestness to it.
I'm not entirely sure what "self-aware earnestness" is, but I'll take "good-natured" any day. Personally, I think I do sprinkle in a reasonable amount of humour, but possibly it's too dry and British for most people to notice. Or just not very funny. Still, I don't intend to make any major changes to my style, as I feel pretty comfortable with it as it stands.

Chris points up the fact that five-star ratings are much rarer than they used to be, to the extent that he says "they don't see much (any) use anymore". It's true that fives are rare now, and I intend to keep it that way. My scale is skewed in that a solid, decent but not particularly memorable fic will generally get a two, not a three. That means that a five-star story has to be not merely excellent but exceptional. As it happens, CiG's The Destruction of the Self did get a five last time out (PR 163), so I haven't abandoned the top rating entirely!

Among the most interesting aspects of this series is that Chris gives an example of what he feels is a strong review, and conversely one he thought was weaker. He chose my review of My Little Introvert: Being Home is Magic(al) (PR 158) for the former – that surprised me a bit, as I feel it was a slightly rushed review. What They Don't Know (PR 160) was the one he felt had weaknesses; in this case, I agree, but as the review itself makes clear it was one I found difficult to write about without major spoilers. Here's how Chris summed up what he saw:
Logan's reviews are an excellent source if you're looking for a large quantity, a pretty decent variety, and brevity that doesn't sacrifice big-picture reviewer opinion.  You're not going to get a lot of detail here, nor much in the way of analysis, but he's worth following if you're more interested in a bunch of quick hits than a few deep dives.
I think that's a fair assessment, and I'm pleased to see variety mentioned; I've always made a considerable effort not only to review the stuff everyone else has been reading. Chris didn't look at any of my occasional Spotlight reviews, but that was probably sensible as they are only occasional – and in any case, they're not what I do best. Chris himself does long-form reviews notably well, if you ask me.

Oh, and since this came up in passing: "Loganberry" is my username because it's what I've used in various fandoms for a decade and a half. However, because it shortens to something that sounds like an ordinary name, people in the MLP fandom tend to call me "Logan" in real life. I like it, and I've increasingly adopted it online – as on this blog. However, I don't intend to change my Fimfiction username, as I'm comfortable with that as well.