Tuesday, 17 July 2018

"A good fandom"?

This is, of course, a question with no one definitive answer, but it's also a question that interests me. It's not something I feel I could sensibly discuss on Twitter, as there just isn't room for the uncertainties and shades of grey that I feel are essential. I'll make it quite clear, though, that in general, I have a fairly bright outlook about our fandom. Off we go...

An argument I saw someone make not so long ago ran like this: it's unhelpful to simply say things like "This is a generally good fandom, but there are some bad apples" because then everyone mentally places themselves on the good side of the ledger, so any hard truths don't get through to those people who need to hear them. I think my reply would be: "Up to a point, but not entirely."

As an analogy, consider a chief constable who says, "This city has a problem with knife gangs." I wouldn't have a problem with that. I wouldn't expect them to say, "This city has a problem with knife gangs, though of course the vast majority of the population aren't criminals" because that would dilute the message. People who aren't involved won't assume the criticism applies to them anyway.

But. If the police chief only ever mentioned the bad things about their area, then I'd argue that would not be good policing. There's a community cohesion aspect that can't just be ignored in the name of catching the bad guys. So if the police chief were asked directly, "What do you think of the people in this city?" I would expect them to note the community's good points as well as the problems.

In fandom terms, it's absolutely right that people call out racists and misogynists and homophobes and the like. And such messages are stronger when undiluted. However, it's not good for the community if that's all that's stated when someone's asked about the fandom. If there's no special reason not to, then yes, it's perfectly fair that the good points should be stressed as well.

As I said above, I take a moderately optimistic view of this fandom. It's not perfect and never will be, because we're human beings, so working to make it better is a good thing. But on the whole, I think the MLP fandom, right now in 2018, does more good than bad in the sense of making people's lives happier, and I feel comfortable saying it in those terms.

Monday, 16 July 2018

Small story, big impact

As most of you will know, I usually read short stories rather than lengthy epics. Not so long ago, I read one that may well result in a Ponyfic Roundup spotlight review that ends up being longer than the fic itself. You're welcome to guess if you like, but I won't confirm or deny until the review is actually out! (Should be this month or next.)

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Have an old PMV

I don't have much to talk about, at least not now. I do have one or two things I'd like to post about, but they're things that will take actual effort and it's still too hot for that. So here's "Stamp on the Ground", a PMV by FluttershyElsa from August 2012 that was once enormously popular, as its 1.87 million views will testify. Nothing too demanding here, just a bit of old-fashioned fun. I'm all for that!

Note: this PMV contains rapidly flashing images.

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Ponyfic Roundup 210: It's Coming Home (Edit: Well, England will be...)

Title explanation: that football song

Yes, all right, I'm sorry. I'm not even much of a football fan. But I am English, and my team is playing a World Cup semi-final this evening, so I'm going to make the most of it. It'll all be over one way or the other by PR 211, after all! On we go...

Read it Later story count: 326 (-1)

A poor week for me, back down to three stories. The heat hasn't helped, but in this case I've just had so much to do that spare time has been nearly non-existent. I'm actually quite glad I've managed to get through anything at all! Here we go(, here we go, here we go), then:

Paper Tigers by Midnight Dancer
With Your Shield Or On It by PatchworkPoltergeist
The Secret Lives of Books by derpyland

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

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

UK PonyCon weekend and Saturday tickets sold out!

As announced by the con's communications lead Irish O'Conner on the official UK PonyCon forum yesterday (as well as on various social media), UK PonyCon 2018 weekend and Saturday tickets are now sold out. Sunday tickets are still available, but in restricted numbers and it's likely that these won't last that much longer either. Still, if you want to attend and haven't yet bought a ticket, this is your last chance! Since tickets are not transferable, you won't get one if you leave it any later. Yes, it is worth coming for the Sunday alone, so don't hang around if you feel you'd like to. Visit the official webstore to buy.

Friday, 6 July 2018

100 days until UK PonyCon!

Actually, because this post isn't going up until Friday, it's 99 days – but hay, who's counting? Anyway, yep, we're getting pretty close to convention time now, although it probably doesn't seem so unless you're on the committee or making stuff to wear or vend for the con. I'll be heading off to Nottingham for a little recce with a friend in the very near future, as bizarrely I've hardly ever visited the city in spite of it being only 80 miles from me.

Having already done a bit of research with the help of Google Maps and Street View, one thing I definitely appreciate about Nottingham is its relatively compact city centre. Its population is around 300,000, roughly the same as Coventry's, but the latter city sprawls and has a mess of a ring road (albeit improved recently) that cuts it off from the rail station. Navigation in Nottingham, on foot or by tram, seems likely to be quite straightforward.

Myself, I don't have much to do to prepare for UKPC this year. I don't go in for cosplay, my hotel is booked and my ticket is bought, so really it's just a case of making sure I can afford to eat when I'm there! My budget is likely to be quite tight compared with last year's, but I'm at least guaranteed a few souvenirs as they're included with my ticket tier. If all goes well, this will be my fifth UK PonyCon, and I've never failed to enjoy one yet!

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Ponyfic Roundup 209: The Greta Garbo Home for Wayward Boys and Girls

Title explanation: Manfred Mann song lyrics

Read it Later story count: 327 (nc)

It's still far too hot here in central England, so I've found it hard going to get anything at all done, let alone reading ponyfic. Still, I've managed to get through four stories, so let's see what's under the microscope this week. We have:

Rainbownomicon by Void Chicken
Minuette's Imaginary Friend Replacement Service by Ceffyl Dwr
Just Fine by ferret
Exes by Donraj

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

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Pride and prejudice?

The Mane Six against a rainbow flag and the legend #PONYPRIDE
I eagerly await Twi's double ascension
Okay, a very unoriginal headline, but it's hot and I'm tired. Last night, the official My Little Pony Facebook page and Instagram account posted the above image, together with the text "Colorful and proud ❤️ 💛 💚 💙 💜 #PrideMonth". Rather predictably, reaction has been mixed, though at least reasonably civil as of the time of my writing this post. I'm not American, so it can be hard to appreciate how politically charged LGBT issues still are in the US. (They can be here in England too, but not really to quite the same extent.)

On a similar note, Vivid Syntax posted a story yesterday called Pride, which is about the Whinneapolis Pride celebrations and features a large cast of characters based on fandom OCs. It so happens that my own (Proton) is one of these. The fic has received a few downvotes, but as I write none of the downvoters have actually left a comment explaining. Personally I found the fic great fun. Probably not one for those who are sticklers for show-like feel, but I read it in the garden with a cold drink and enjoyed it throughout.

Saturday, 30 June 2018

Just five weeks to go! (Well, probably)

It seems that Zap2it is showing the resumption of new episodes of My Little Pony from 5th August. If that's accurate, and in the past Zap2it usually has been, then that's a slightly shorter hiatus than I was expecting. I'm not complaining, you understand, but it does mean less time left when I might actually do some damn writing! Instead of any actual fanfic, then, have this brief untitled verse I bashed out the other day for (US) National Writing Day:
This morning, I took up my pen,
But then I set it down again.
I picked it up, I put it down,
And watching, with a puzzled frown,
You said, "This writing lark is tough—
Why don't you stop if it's so rough?"
I answered, with a gentle moan,
"Ideas won't leave me alone!"

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Ponyfic Roundup 208: Spotlight on Cheerilee's Thousand (1,000th review special!)

Ponyfic Roundup review no. 1,000! Thank you for sticking with me since 2014!

In the end, I couldn't resist spotlighting this particular fic to mark the occasion. I almost never review stories that aren't marked Complete, but I have done it once before (Proofreading Clopfics Sucks, PR 112). In both that story's case and this one's, the key point is that they're effectively anthologies, albeit with a running thread, so you don't feel you're left hanging at the end in the way you would with a conventional fic.

Read it Later story count: 327 (nc)

Cheerilee's Thousand by xjuggernaughtx et al
Comedy/Random/Slice of Life; 97k words; Nov 2013–Jan 2017; Teen
Cheerilee goes on one thousand terrible dates.
Okay, not a thousand. There are actually 59 chapters, but that's good enough. This fic has a simple premise: what if Cheerilee kept going on dates that kept going wrong? It takes a few chapters to really get into gear, but then the author hits on an idea involving ducks, and from then on it's a hoot to read. Cheerilee's dates are occasionally with canon characters (you'll feel for Caramel), but they're more often with some nicely imagined OCs. Some chapters are written by guest authors (especially in the middle part of the fic) but on the whole they fit in well. A little of the snappiness is lost late on, by which time the chapters have swollen from their original thousand-ish words to over 3,000, but on the whole it rattles along. Very entertaining, even if Cheerilee isn't your favourite pony. ★★★★

I'll talk a little more about this fic below. There may be spoilers ahead, but while there's moonlight and ponies and love and romance...

Monday, 25 June 2018

Twitter, escapism, mental health and ponies

Some of you may follow, or at least occasionally glance at, my Twitter account: @louderyay. Not everyone now realises this, but I actually set that up in April 2013 specifically to go with this blog and intended it to be mostly used for MLP stuff. That's why the names match! This is relevant to what follows.

Last weekend, I took a semi-holiday from Twitter. By that I mean that I didn't avoid it altogether, but that I used it only for a few things – updates on the Worcester ponymeet on Saturday, talking about a walk I took, etc. I took a conscious decision not to post anything really serious for those two days.

And it helped. It helped a lot. It also made me think about some changes I need to make.

This is a long post, so I'll put it under a break, but I hope at least some of you will feel like reading it. If you do, comments are open, but please read all of this post before you make them.

Sunday, 24 June 2018

Season 8A – the UK of Equestria rankings

It's that time again – the mid-season hiatus, that is. This time around we had 15 lists submitted, up three on this time last year I'm pleased to say. One thing that was noticeable was how close things were in the middle of the pack, but there was a clear leader and an even clearer wooden-spooner. My own rankings are in brackets after the episode name.

1. "Surf and/or Turf" (1)

2. "The Mean 6" (5)
3. "The Break Up Breakdown" (4)

4. "Molt Down" (3)
5. "School Daze" (7)
6. "Horse Play" (2)
7. "Marks for Effort" (6)
8. "The Parent Map" (9)

9. "Fake It 'Til You Make It" (11)
10. "The Maud Couple" (10)
11. "Grannies Gone Wild" (8)

12. "Non-Compete Clause" (12)

Number of times each episode placed first
4: "Surf and/or Turf"
2: "Marks for Effort"
2: "Molt Down"
2: "The Break Up Breakdown"
1: "Fake It 'Til You Make It"
1: "Grannies Gone Wild"
1: "Horse Play"
1: "The Mean 6"
1: "The Parent Map"

Number of times each episode placed last
13: "Non-Compete Clause"
1: "Fake It 'Til You Make It"
1: "Grannies Gone Wild"

Most controversial (highest standard deviation)
1. "Fake It 'Til You Make It"
2. "Molt Down"
3. "The Break Up Breakdown"

Least controversial
1. "Non-Compete Clause"
2. "School Daze"
3. "The Maud Couple"

A notable feature of this list was the amount of disagreement: every single episode had at least two people placing it at ninth or below, and almost every single episode had at least one person placing it in the top three. (I'll get to the exception in a minute.) This may lend support to UK of E's general feeling that it was  a consistently decent half-season, but one without true standout episodes.

Although "Surf and/or Turf" was a clear winner, no fewer than nine episodes were chosen as S8A's best by at least one person. Compare this to S7A's rankings, when "A Royal Problem" ran away with the contest, being placed at the top of the class by nine out of 12 voters. Two episodes were given both first and last places: "Fake It 'Til You Make It" and "Grannies Gone Wild".

All but one episode had a standard deviation of rank between 2.640 and 3.871. The massive outlier, which scored just 0.561, was "Non-Compete Clause", by far the most consistently disliked episode since we started doing this in S4. Out of 15 people, one placed it tenth, one 11th... and everyone else last. Most didn't hate it, but all felt it was well below the standard of the half-season as a whole.

Friday, 22 June 2018

Text Review Roundup: "The Mean 6"

Yay, now TRR is up to date as well! This time, we welcome back both Mega Sean 45 and Dark Qiviut, the latter with a very detailed review. I've also added a new reviewer in ShadowtheDarkNinja. Always happy to hear of new people I could add! (Though not Amino-based reviewers, please, as that place hurts my eyes.)

As usual, how I assess a review will depend on my own feelings after reading it; this is why an 8/10 review can sometimes be classed "positive" and sometimes "very positive". The text reviewers' assessments were all over the place for this one, with the biggest spread of opinions I can recall for a long time.

Cuddlepug – negative (graded D+; "confusing mess of an episode")

Dark Qiviut – wildly positive ("Its storytelling is outstanding with excellent dialogue, comedy, drama, and heart.")

Derpy News – positive (graded A-; "in the higher end of Season Eight")

JDPrime22 – very positive (rated 9/10; "This episode was fun. I loved the interactions of all these characters")

Louder Yay – broadly positive (3/5; "a fairly mixed bag, but a pretty watchable mixed bag)

Mega Sean 45 – mixed ("I say in Chrysalis' side of the episode, it was really good [but] I found the ol switcharoo between the two different plots to be kinda confusing and a bit boring at the same time.")

MLEEP Reviews – wildly positive (rated 10/10; "a marvelous followup to what was a marvelous season [6] finale")

The Railfan Brony – extremely negative (rated Terrible; "The Mean 6 had no point whatsoever; it's the dictionary definition of anticlimactic.")

Rainbine – very negative (rated Very Bad; "Boring, predictable, and worst of all, pointless.")

ShadowtheDarkNinja – mixed (rated 6/10; "I can't give the Mean 6 anything close to perfect.")

ShutterflyEQD – very positive ("As much as I loved Queen Chrysalis returning, I just loved the amount of entertainment that this episode held.")

TheDragonWarlock – generally negative (graded C-; "this episode squandered what could've been an amazing episode for something so underwhelming.")

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Episode review: S8E13: "The Mean 6"

The "photographer" with Fluttershy, whose mane is in Pinkie's style
We only saw this for half a second, but it cracked me up
Well, it's taken a while, but here I am at last getting up to date with FiM again! The final episode before the mid-season hiatus was written by Michael Vogel, last seen sharing writing duties with Nicole Dubuc in the S8 premiere. The synopsis for this one seemed intriguing, but because of my holiday I already knew it had received a rather mixed reaction. (More of that in Text Review Roundup tomorrow.) Beyond the break, I'll say how I felt about it.

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Ponyfic Roundup 207: It does mean changing the bulb

Title explanation: Red Dwarf line

Read it Later story count: 327 (-4)

Hey everyone, look how many stories I have for you this week! That's right: five! Yay! And I'm even going to begin with the fic I trailed last week. (You do read those footnote sections, don't you? Of course you do.) Oh, and the final review this time is my 999th on Ponyfic Roundup. Just saying.

Six Months in July by Fiddlebottoms
Sleeping Habits by Redric Carrun
Banned by Summer Dancer
Bad Decisions Make Better Stories by Sporktacles
Mrs. Robinson's Stand by WishyWish

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

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

UK PonyCon tickets selling out fast!

Before I get on to UK PonyCon, a quick update on my schedule here. I plan to have Ponyfic Roundup up on Wednesday as usual, then (at last!) my review of "The Mean 6" on Thursday. This will be followed by that episode's Text Review Roundup on Friday, plus something else I keep forgetting about at the weekend. (Wait and see! Nothing thrilling, though.)

On Sunday, UK PonyCon announced that less than 10% of Saturday capacity remains. Unlike last year, there will not be a second tranche of tickets released for UKPC 2018, since capacity is fixed. That means that if you want either a Weekend ticket or a Saturday-only ticket, you need to get your skates on!

Sunday tickets, as you might expect, are a bit further from running out, and these will remain on sale after Saturday/Weekend ticket sales end. In line with UK PonyCon practice for the last few years, tickets will not be sold on the door. In other words, please don't delay and risk missing out on the convention!

The announcement also mentioned that UKPC has "sold more tickets than previous years, meaning this will be the largest UK PonyCon ever." Considering that last year it was already about twice the size of the 2014 event, that's quite something! Under four months to go, and it's getting exciting.

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Brief audio thoughts on S8A, with text transcript here

I felt like making a short audio review of the first half of Season 8, so here it is. The whole thing is less than eight minutes long, so don't expect in-depth analysis. It's quite deliberately just a brief summary. For those who prefer to read reviews, a full transcript follows.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Text Review Roundup: "Marks for Effort"

Time to get TRR off the ground again. This episode had a mixed reception, with some reviewers loving it but others being distinctly unimpressed – and indeed, we're starting the list with one of the latter. Unfortunately, Dark Qiviut hasn't uploaded a review of episode 12 (or 13, for that matter), so has had to be left out.

Cuddlepug – negative (graded D+; "I would advise other prospective students look [...s]omewhere less corrupt, with teachers who don't hand out degrees to their little sisters. ")

Derpy News – very positive (graded A; "[Starlight] quickly became the funniest and best part of this episode.")

JDPrime22 – fairly positive (rated 7/10; "pretty fun episode")

Louder Yay – positive (3/5; "Lots of nice dialogue and humour [but] Twilight didn't behave very well")

Mega Sean 45 – no review up yet. Comments suggest one may be coming eventually, but I'm already late with this TRR! Placeholder left here as I know they've written an E13 review.

MLEEP Reviews – positive (8.5/10; "while it does have a few flaws here and there, the effort that was put into 'Marks For Effort' really does show")

The Railfan Brony – mixed (rated Okay; "a thin plot and predictable outcome")

Rainbine – very negative ("3/10; "Before we got to the Starlight scene, the episode felt slow, dull, and boring [...] This was a Very Bad Episode.")

ShutterflyEQD – very positive ("this episode was very enjoyable the whole way through!")

TheDragonWarlock – mixed (graded C+; "just doesn't have anything really special")

Friday, 15 June 2018

UK PonyCon news: Distance Supporter Membership and tram ticket offer

Text Review Roundup has been delayed until tomorrow as I have some convention news to report. It's been a little while since I wrote about UK PonyCon here, but that's going to change now. For one thing, I've booked my hotel, so yay for that. In this post, though, I'm going to mention two things:

1) Distance Supporter Membership

If you're familiar with the concept of "spirit badges" then this idea won't be new to you, but it is new to UKPC. It's a way of showing support for the convention even if you can't actually make it to Nottingham. It costs £20 and for that you get:
  • A weekend pass on the premium lanyard – not valid for actual con entry!
  • The UKPC 2018 con book
  • The UKPC Supporter button badge
  • A £5 donation to long-time con charity the RDA
The physical items will be sent to you shortly after the convention has closed, so expect to receive them in late October or early November. When you buy (from the webstore) you can specify whether you'd prefer an Adult, Child or Family ticket.

2) Discounted tram travel

Nottingham's tram network offers discounted travel to attendees of certain events, and the committee have managed to get this offer for people going to UK PonyCon. This will allow you a special £2 day return fare, rather than the usual £4 price. The procedure is slightly fiddly, so here's a summary:
  1. Print out and fill in this voucher (PDF).
  2. At the tram stop, buy an "Event Ticket" from the machine.
  3. Keep both voucher and ticket with you while travelling, as staff may ask to see them.
Note that this is a day return ticket, so if you're attending for the full weekend you'll need two vouchers and to buy a second ticket at the tram stop on Sunday morning.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Episode review: S8E12: "Marks for Effort"

Starlight Glimmer attempting to look serious as she drinks cocoa
This would make a great caption competition, so naturally I can't think of anything!
It really is about time I caught up with Season 8's episodes. Thank goodness for hiatuses! (Hiati? No, spellchecker, not "Haiti".) There'll be a Text Review Roundup of this ep next, then I'll get going with E13's review. Going back to "Marks for Effort", though: this one was written by Nicole Dubuc, previously seen on the season premiere. I was cautiously optimistic as I tend to like CMC episodes. Past the break, a look at whether I liked this one. It's quite short, since I really do need to get these things done.

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Ponyfic Roundup 206: The Piper o' Dundee

Title explanation: Scottish folk song

Right! I'm back from Scotland, as you'll already know if you read yesterday's Pony Music Library post. Time to ease myself back into the wonderful world of My Little Pony fanfiction.

Read it Later story count: 331 (+1)

Just three stories once again this week, but I have plans. I can't promise anything, but I've rejigged one or two things in my schedule that should let me get back up to the traditional five from next week onwards. We shall see. Anyway, today's reviews are:

Bloomberg by ROBCakeran53
Zero Sum by TailsIsNotAlone
Spreading Your Wings by darkstone57

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

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Pony Music Library 54: "Kindness" (4EverfreeBrony cover)

I'm back from my holiday in Scotland (which was fantastic, apart from the ~100 midge bites) and ready to ease myself back into Pony stuff. There'll be a small Ponyfic Roundup tomorrow, but I'll start off with another PML induction.

What? "Kindness"

Who? 4EverfreeBrony

Which? Cover

When? March 2018

Why? A song that isn't even three months old wouldn't normally be considered for the Pony Music Library – but this one is special, so much so that I bought it on Bandcamp without hesitation. It's a cover of the AcoustiMandoBrony classic "Kindness" from January 2013, a song I've always liked but somehow never quite loved, despite it being about Fluttershy. This version, though, was an instant favourite right from the jangly guitar intro. 4EverfreeBrony's voice fits so well, the guitar solo is perfect, the drums add to the melody but aren't too intrusive... yeah, I do love this version. I've listened to it dozens of times already, and as such it's going straight into the PML. :)

Saturday, 2 June 2018

Ponyfic Roundup 205: Beelzebub has a devil for a sideboard

Title explanation: current weather is thunderbolt and lightning, very very frightening

Here we go: the final PR before my break. Strictly speaking, not even that, as I'll be off before this post goes live. I hope there'll be one a week on Wednesday, after which I'll try to get back to the usual weekly schedule. I hope you lot behave yourself around here while I'm gone. :P

Read it Later story count: 330 (-3)

Yes, another tiny selection this time. Was that run of five-fic weeks a flash in the pan? I don't know. I hope not. But hey, one of the fics this week is 46,000 words, much longer than those I usually read. Anyway, I've got a little list:

White Demure by Heitomos
Weight by Regidar
Apple Shampoo by Titanium Dragon

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

Thursday, 31 May 2018

Text Review Roundup: "Molt Down"

This will be the last TRR for a little while, owing to my imminent holiday. I do intend to do them for episodes 12 and 13, but you'll have to be patient. This episode was very popular with the text-based reviewers, rivalling even "The Break Up Break Down" on that score. Also, a belated welcome back to the Railfan Brony. After they chose the video-review route for the premiere, I thought that was it, but they've now resumed written reviews and have caught up with the season.

Cuddlepug – mixed (graded C+; "Welcome to adulthood, mate.")

Dark Qiviut – very positive ("one of the best episodes of S8 so far and one of the best Spike episodes altogether.")

Derpy News – very positive (graded A; "Congratulations, Josh Haber. You’re the new M.A. Larson.")

JDPrime22 – extremely positive (rated 10/10; "The possibility for future stories this sets up is incredible. Have at it, MLP crew!")

Louder Yay – very positive (4/5; "Time will tell how Spike's new wings may change him, but for now I'd consider this another very good 22 minutes of FiM.")

Mega Sean 45 – very positive ("my favorite episode this season so far!")

MLEEP Reviews – very positive (9.5/10; "plenty of world building to expand upon and one of the biggest surprises of the season so far")

The Railfan Brony – very positive ("One of this episode's greatest strengths is that Spike feels relatable and not being constantly brought down to size")

Rainbine – wildly positive ("10/10; "This was a Masterpiece.")

ShutterflyEQD – very positive ("The Twilight and Spike moments in this episode were so very sweet [...] a lot of laughs")

TheDragonWarlock – very positive (graded A-; "This is an excellent Spike episode that's right up there with Gauntlet of Fire.")

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

A few temporary changes (and one permanent one)

I'm going on holiday for a week this Saturday, and I'll be in some fairly remote parts of Scotland with little or no reliable internet access – so there'll be a few changes to the usual routine on Louder Yay. These temporary changes first:

Episode reviews for E12 and E13 will be considerably delayed, since I doubt I'll even see the eps until the week after next. Thank Celestia for the mid-season hiatus!

Text Review Roundup will therefore also be delayed, though the one for E11 will go up on Thursday as normal.

Ponyfic Roundup this week will be delayed until Friday or Saturday, to reduce the gap resulting from the fact that there will be no PR at all next week.

As for the permanent change: you can no longer comment on this blog using OpenID. This is not my decision – support for the facility has been withdrawn by Google. All previous OpenID comments will get anonymised – again, this is Google's doing, not mine. Your choice is now limited to Google ID, Name/URL or Anonymous.

Monday, 28 May 2018

Episode review: S8E11: "Molt Down"

Stone scale-covered Spike looking glum next to a happier-looking Smolder
Now I want to know about Smolder's brother
After a slightly shaky start, Season 8 seems to be on a bit of a roll at the moment, with only the unimpressive "Non-Compete Clause" interrupting a sequence of good-to-great episodes. This week, we had Josh Haber's first ep this season, as well as the prospect of a full-on Spike-isode. Those used to be a bad sign, but since "Gauntlet of Fire" the little dragon has come into his own. As for this episode...

Sunday, 27 May 2018

hawthornbunny's list of the 20 most-used titles on Fimfiction


Here's something interesting: hawthornbunny has put together a list of the most commonly used fic titles on Fimfiction. Perhaps to be expected, 14 of them are single words. Slightly to my surprise, none of them contains a character name (unless there are some OCs in there). Here's the full list, which I've edited only in terms of formatting:
1. Memories (49 fics)
2. Alone (42 fics)
3. A New Life (39 fics)

4. Broken (36 fics)
5= A Second Chance (31 fics)
5= The Trotting Dead (31 fics)
7. Destiny (26 fics)
8= The End (25 fics)
8= Lost (25 fics)
8= A Night to Remember (25 fics)
8= Redemption (25 fics)
8= Silence (25 fics)
13. Eclipse (24 fics)

14= Forgotten (23 fics)
14= Monster (23 fics)
14= Nightmares (23 fics)
14= The Pony Games (23 fics)
14= Secrets (23 fics)
14= Trapped (23 fics)
14= Wings (23 fics)
So, if you want your story to be found easily, it's probably not a great idea to call it Memories! Also, this isn't exactly a list packed with hugely popular or well-received stories. Think of your favourite fic, and it probably isn't here.

Saturday, 26 May 2018

Welcome to the herd!

There was a discussion recently on Equestria Daily about what our fandom does especially well (to go with a previous piece about what we could stand to improve on), and one thing that many people mentioned was that bronies are generally very welcoming to newcomers. That's been my experience, too, and I'm very glad: I sometimes hear about fandoms where new people are almost considered second-class citizens if they don't know all there is to know from the off.

Anyway, the discussion reminded me of the GIF posted above. I don't know who made it as my Google-fu has failed me – let me know and I'll add a credit – but I used to see it everywhere when new people joined the fandom. In spite of my usual antipathy to animated avatars and the like, I make an exception for this one. It's always made me smile (smile smile) and I like to think it represents the general mindset of established fans towards newcomers.

I know there are still new bronies joining the herd in 2018 – not as many as in the old days, of course, but they're still around – so if you're one of them, then... well, see the GIF. Welcome to the herd!

Friday, 25 May 2018

Pony Music Library 53: לעוף (Fly)

Hey, would you look at that? It's less than three weeks since the last PML entry! Clearly dark magic is at work. (And why has the show forgotten about dark magic, anyway?) Today, a song written by a musician far better known for remixing other people's works – and this one isn't even in English.

What? "לעוף (Fly)"

Who? The Living Tombstone

Which? Original song

When? February 2012

Why? As far as his time making MLP music goes, The Living Tombstone is generally known as a remix artist – but there are exceptions, and this is one. What we have here is a very nice rock number in which one of Spitfire's fans (no, not Rainbow Dash!) sings about their wish that one day they could fly with their hero, despite not having wings of their own. This song is in TLT's native Hebrew, but even though I barely understand a word of that language, the track has really nice guitar sounds and an excellent beat. Into the PML it goes!

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Text Review Roundup: "The Break Up Break Down"

Another week, another batch of early-release news. This time, it appears from the online listings that Tiny Pop (the UK broadcaster) will be showing the first half of S8 on a daily basis through the half-term week and beyond. If so, we'll get to episode 13 a few days ahead of Discovery Family – which will be the first time since the S6 finale that's happened, although a combination of the leaks and Finland mean it won't be quite as big a deal this time round.

Unsurprisingly, this episode was well received, far more so than "Non-Compete Clause" was. A number of reviewers were slightly disappointed by the underlying plot's predictability, but most other aspects were heavily praised.

Cuddlepug – very positive (graded A; "does everything a good episode Friendship is Magic needs to")

Dark Qiviut – extremely positive ("Spike and Discord are outstanding [...] the dialogue really shines [...] one of the ten best of the show altogether")

Derpy News – quite positive (graded B+; "a good episode apart from one part being telegraphed and one part extraneous")

JDPrime22 – very positive (rated 9/10; "the jokes all hit, the flow and pace was perfect")

Louder Yay – very positive (4/5; "Despite a very well-worn "misunderstanding" plot [...] highly entertaining and well paced.")

Mega Sean 45 – very positive ("I found this episode very fun and very inspiring at the same time!")

MLEEP Reviews – positive (8/10; "while predictable, 'The Break Up Breakdown' was just the pick-me-up that Season 8 needed")

Rainbine – fairly positive ("7/10; "leagues better than last weeks episode, but nothing spectacular")

ShutterflyEQD – very positive ("the best Hearts and Hooves day special we had since a long time ago")

TheDragonWarlock – positive (graded B+; "the main story is filled with cliches, but it's still a great episode all around.")

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Ponyfic Roundup 204: Caravan Palace

Title explanation: this ancient PMV

Advance warning that I'll be on holiday for the first full week of June, so there'll be a break in... well, everything, unless I can get a scheduled post or two written. At any rate, episode reviews, Text Review Roundup and Ponyfic Roundup will certainly have their usual schedules disrupted.

Read it Later story count: 333 (-3)

Another very busy week, but at least this time I got through more than three fics! Just. In fact, I made a special effort to read a fourth. Was it worth the effort? Well, let's see... here's today's selection:

A Mare's Tail by Southpaw
Is Derpy Sexy? by naturalbornderpy
Little Deceptions by Taranth
How an Actual Human Vs Ponies War Would Go by HonestAJ4President

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

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

"Flutterwonder" back up. Unless it isn't

See that video above? If the answer is no, if you just see a blank screen, then what follows is no longer relevant. But at the time of writing, that embedded video is "Flutterwonder". The original "Flutterwonder", on the account of the artist formerly known as PinkiePieSwear. And at the time of writing, it was public. Not even unlisted, but fully public for the world to see, 8,000-plus comments and all. If this remains the case, then I will be absolutely delighted. This is a true classic of our fandom, after all.

But given everything that's happened in the past, right now that is an "if". We'll see.

Monday, 21 May 2018

Episode review: S8E10: "The Break Up Break Down"

Sugar Belle tries to talk to Big Mac, who's leaning on the open split-level door
Not often we see those stable-style split doors used in MLP these days!
I have a sore shoulder I'd rather not aggravate, so today's review isn't all that long. We were back with a veteran writer this time in Nick Confalone; I didn't like his last episode ("The Maud Couple") all that much, but he had produced some fine stuff in the past. As such, I was cautiously optimistic, although I've rarely been a huge fan of romance-themed episodes in Friendship is Magic. After the break, a briefish assessment.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Our Fragile Fandom

Introductory note: some of you may wonder whether this post was inspired by a recent event involving a ponyfic author deleting their account – not just removing their stories but making it seem as though said account had never existed. The answer is: not really; I didn't know this author and have never reviewed one of their fics. Plus, I've been thinking about this post for a while. However, it was the aforementioned issue that prompted me to publish it now.

Fandoms are ephemeral, and online fandoms – which is most of them – even more so. In music, for example, MandoPony chose a while back to make some of his MLP tracks inaccessible – not merely unlisted, but privated/deleted entirely. Some are still available on his Bandcamp account, but others – one notable example being the villain!Sunset song "Shimmer On" – now only exist online because of unofficial reuploads by others.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Text Review Roundup: "Non-Compete Clause"

I really must keep my big mouth shut. Last week, I expressed relief at the fact that Canadian early releases weren't happening. This week, I discover that Finnish early releases are: episodes 10 to 13 inclusive, including one that hasn't already been leaked, are out in Finnish-language versions and will doubtless receive unofficial English dubs as soon as Finnish-speaking bronies can be persuaded to make them.

Louder Yay's reviews will stick with the US schedule as usual, at least unless that becomes as unworkable as it did at times during S6. Mostly the same reviewers as last time, although one was unable to post more than a very brief comment as part of a more general journal post and I've added Dark Qiviut. "Non-Compete Clause" was the worst-received episode of S8 so far, although not everyone disliked it.

Cuddlepug – mixed (graded B) NB: another Cuddlepug Special not-actual-review

Dark Qiviut – very negative ("carries too much stupid and lazy to handle")

Derpy News – slightly negative (graded C; "Outside of AJ and Dash, we have a good episode")

JDPrime22 – mixed (rated 6/10; "the students are acting smarter and more mature than two grown ponies")

Louder Yay – rather negative (2/5; "It wasn't horrible, just underwhelming.")

Mega Sean 45 – generally positive ("the students really have an amazing amount of chemistry and humor [though AJ and RD's ultra-competitiveness] wasn't funny, it was just... sad")

MLEEP Reviews – negative (3/10; "[AJ and RD] nearly killed one of their own students and didn't seem to care!!! [...] I didn't crack a smile once")

Rainbine – extremely negative ("[made] me unbelievably angry") NB: not a full review for personal reasons

ShutterflyEQD – broadly positive (" really nice to see that the whole group of students really did learn a lot from field trip after all")

TheDragonWarlock – very negative (graded D-; "The characterization is deplorable, the comedy is terrible, the pacing is bad, and it brought out the worst in Applejack and Rainbow Dash.")

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Ponyfic Roundup 203: To Me, To You

Title explanation: Chuckle Brothers catchphrase

We appear to be having summer in May this year. This suits me, as it's my favourite month of the year. Everything's fresh and green, the sun is warm but the air often still has a slight edge in it that makes it much more comfortable for walking – something I do a lot of. It's also the angling close season, which means riverside walks are usually fairly quiet and peaceful.

Read it Later story count: 336 (nc)

It's been a busy week and so I haven't had very much time at all to read, so my run of five-fic editions has come to an end here. Just the three this time around, though at least I did manage to read the fic I trailed last week! Let's start with that one:

Erase and Rewind by DuncanR
The Teeny, Tiny Pinkie Pie by RK_Striker_JK_5
Two Kinds of Beauty by Saacsa

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

Monday, 14 May 2018

Episode review: S8E09: "Non-Compete Clause"

Smolder (centre) raises arms in frustration at a startled Rainbow (left) and Applejack (right)
I know how you feel, Smolder
We had yet another new writer this time in Kim Beyer-Johnson. I'm not against new writers as such – Brian Hohlfeld did a very fine job with "Surf and/or Turf" – but I think FiM may be going a bit overboard. This came to mind after I read the synopsis of "Non-Compete Clause", which reminded me of nothing so much as "Fall Weather Friends" from S1. An episode I still enjoy, but I did wonder whether Beyer-Johnson would fully capture Applejack and Rainbow's character development since then. The answer was...

Saturday, 12 May 2018

Chase the Ace, Worcester style

At nearly every Worcester ponymeet, we play a simple card game called Chase the Ace. It's basically the game that Wikipedia describes under the name of Ranter-Go-Round, but we have one or two house rules. So, for the benefit of newcomers and (as The Descendant used to say) interested passers-by here's how we play the game.

This goes on a bit, so have a page break.

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Text Review Roundup: "The Parent Map"

Here we go again with Text Review Roundup. The spectre of early releases in Canada seems to have been lifted, so TRR will continue for the foreseeable future. Another week with a stable slate of reviewers, and on the whole reaction to "The Parent Map" was down a notch from that to "Horse Play". These reviewers were still positive on average, but there was a fair bit of variation.

Cuddlepug – negative (graded C-; "one of those episodes where everyone ends up apologising to each other for being honest")

Derpy News – mildly positive (graded B; "some good lessons ... but there were opportunities to address other things")

JDPrime22 – positive (8/10; "I liked this episode!")

Louder Yay – mildly positive (3/5; "A predictable story with a predictable moral, but with some nice touches scattered through.")

Mega Sean 45 – positive ("pretty similar to the story of Parental Glideance [but] we get to have more Starlight and Sunburst friendship development which is always interesting")

MLEEP Reviews – rather negative (5/10; "awesome to finally see the parents of Starlight and Sunburst [but repetitive humour and] pretty predictable")

Rainbine – very positive (9/10; "relatable stuff throughout")

ShutterflyEQD – mixed ("there wasn't too much this episode had going for it, except a new location we got to explore, and new characters")

TheDragonWarlock – mixed (graded B-; "does have its moments ... some solid jokes [but] plot and pacing though feel jarring, the subplot felt pointless, and the ending felt pretty rushed.")

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Ponyfic Roundup 202: Hark Don't You?

Before this edition, I'd reviewed 976 stories for PR, which means the big 1-0-0-0 is looming on the horizon. I'm not currently planning to do anything special to mark the occasion, but you never know. I've also managed to reduce my RiL list this week, albeit not by very much. Achievement unlocked! :P

Read it Later story count: 336 (-3)

Here's today's little selection of small horse stories. Yet again, five of them, so maybe – just maybe – things are getting back on an even keel. Probably I've jinxed it now, but oh well.

Krastos the Glue Maker by Horse Voice
The Cold, Unfeeling Moon by Forces of Darkness
Fire Side by TittySparkles
The Quiescence of the Crystal Empire by Aldrigold
Common Sense by All Art is Quite Useless

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

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Episode review: S8E08: "The Parent Map"

Starlight's rather metal teenage bedroom
Bedroom design by Horse Voice
Season 8 has been going quite well recently if you ask me. You probably don't ask me, but I'm going to tell you anyway. The perils of reading Louder Yay. Anyway, we had a returning writer this time: Dave Rapp, previously responsible for "Newbie Dash", "Flutter Brutter" and "Where the Apple Lies". Not a collection that everyone enjoyed, but I thought all three episodes were at least okay and so was cautiously optimistic. In the end, we got...

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Short delay to episode 8 review

As this is a Bank Holiday (extended) weekend over here, and as by some miracle it's also glorious weather, I've been outdoors much more than usual, and so I haven't had time to do much actual writing. As such, the review of "The Parent Map" will appear here on Tuesday this week.

Saturday, 5 May 2018

Pony Music Library 52: "Let Your Mane Down (d.notive cover)" by Replacer

Frith, has it really been two months since the last PML post? I believe it has! Something must be done about that right this minute. Fortunately, I've been on a bit of a brony music binge recently, so I've listened to quite a lot and have chosen one of my favourite songs from that sample here. Replacer also gets props for his stamina: he's still producing fandom music in 2018. Yay for him!

What? "Let Your Mane Down (d.notive cover)"

Who? Replacer

Which? Cover/remix

When? February 2012

Why? I admire d.notive's work, and I quite like his original version of "Let Your Mane Down". (That seems to have disappeared from YouTube, so have this later album version.) However, Replacer's cover/remix is even more to my taste. It is almost ridiculously catchy, with a wildly infectious, uptempo beat and Replacer's excellent vocals. There's also a really nice instrumental break a little before the three-minute mark. The original song was inspired by the S2 episode "Sisterhooves Social", back in the days when Sweetie Belle seemed to live with her parents and only stay with Rarity.

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Text Review Roundup: "Horse Play"

News from Armenia: the opposition leader has spoken of "a revolution of love and tolerance". I can't speak Armenian, or indeed read it as it's written in its own alphabet, so I can't confirm the translation – but it certainly woke me up to see that phrase on the BBC News site!

Time for the TRR machine to get back into gear. The same cast of reviewers as last week, which is a welcome bit of stability after all the recent chopping and changing. Note that the quote I used from Cuddlepug's review is probably the only one in his piece that's a straightforward comment on the episode. Overall, another ep that had a good reception.

Cuddlepug – fairly positive (graded B; "The writing is sharp throughout, with the cast all providing realistic dialogue and contributing to the story.")

Derpy News – damning-with-faint-praise positive (graded B+; "still better than 'Inspiration Manifestation'")

JDPrime22 – very positive (9/10; "Really reminded me of the older episodes of the show ... Really fun episode")

Louder Yay – positive (4/5; "I can forgive a few bumps if the ride as a whole is enjoyable, and I had plenty of fun with this episode.")

Mega Sean 45 – very positive ("The humor was really top-notch ... an amazing episode")

MLEEP Reviews – wildly positive (10/10; "'Horse Play' truly was a magical experience")

Rainbine – positive (8/10; "Celestia was characterized and developed even more [but] a very predictable plot")

ShutterflyEQD – very positive ("I absolutely loved how they really put Celestia in the spotlight")

TheDragonWarlock – very positive (graded A-; "Despite my gripe with Twilight['s stubbornness], Horse Play is a fantastic episode overall.")

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Ponyfic Roundup 201: Tralfamadorians

My RiL list count is creeping up again, which is irritating in one way. In another, it's not, because it means there are more fics I want to read than there have been for a while. Still, my very long-term goal is to get the RiL list down to about 100 and then keep it there. I'm not sure I'll ever manage it, but I'll be quite pleased if I do!

Read it Later story count: 339 (+2)

Back to a regular mixed bag of fics this week, and I'm afraid we're back down to four stories. I couldn't concentrate properly while my back was at its worst, so I just ran out of time to read any more. Under review today are:

Dear Sweetie Belle by Jade Ring
Tantabus, Mk. II by Rambling Writer
The Prisoner of Zebra by Tumbleweed
When Space Met Time by Impossible Numbers

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

Monday, 30 April 2018

Episode review: S8E07: "Horse Play"

A remorseful Twilight and an angry Celestia fly from left to right through the purple night sky
Celestia has most definitely had enough of Twi's... yeah
For the second week running, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic had a new writer debuting an episode. This time it was Kaita Mpambara, who although new to this show has a reasonably extensive CV in animation. I don't remember seeing anything by him before, but then there aren't many other cartoons I watch where the writers are especially well known. After the page break, let's see how he did with "Horse Play".

Sunday, 29 April 2018

UK PonyCon: VIP upgrades sell out in half an hour; amazingly, I have one! :D

Tickets went on sale for this UK PonyCon 2018 at midday on Saturday, and since I was on my way to a Worcester ponymeet at the time I dropped into the local library to buy my ticket. (I don't like doing this sort of thing on a phone; I like to have a keyboard available.) I was originally going to buy the middle-tier Supporter ticket, as I had last year, which was (and is) solid value at £45.

But then I got to thinking. I always buy the con T-shirt, which generally costs about £15. I always pay the couple of quid to upgrade from a basic to a con-specific lanyard. I sometimes buy the con tote bag. Put those together and you get... well, I don't know exactly, but more than £20. So my total expenditure on these things was likely to be £65 at a minimum whatever I did.

Now here's the thing: if you bought the £70 VIP ticket (technically a £35 ticket plus a £35 upgrade, but same result) that reserved you a goodie bag in which you got the T-shirt, the tote bag and a special lanyard. You also got a VIP-exclusive art print and button badge. Plus priority entry and seating, though I don't usually want to sit at the front so probably won't use the latter much.

So, long story short, I went VIP. This is the first time I have ever bought a top-tier ticket for a convention, and it's actually quite exciting! It's a good job I made the decision quickly, though – because you know I said that last year VIP tickets sold out in six hours? This year it took around thirty minutes. I was expecting them to be popular, but sweet Celestia that's amazing.

I suspect VIP tickets may cost more in future years, if indeed there are future VIP tickets (and UKPCs!), so this may be the only time I have a Posh Pony's Pass. I'm not too fussed about that, as I didn't feel I missed out with a Supporter-tier ticket in 2017. But still... it'll be interesting now to see how quickly the non-VIP tickets sell out. If you want to go, I'd definitely recommend buying as soon as you can!

Saturday, 28 April 2018

WoodLore has gone :(

I may not have been as big a fan of WoodLore's music as some people, but I certainly liked some of his songs and respected his skill as a musician. So I was surprised and disappointed to find out (from Armosk on EqD, actually) that he deleted his channel a few weeks ago, taking all his Pony music down with it. His Bandcamp is gone, too. I'd been thinking about losses in the fandom recently, and this is another sad one.

Back in 2017, WoodLore did an April Fool video about "leaving the fandom" – but it seems that, a year later, he was serious about it, and so did the deed. The songs themselves have (mostly?) been reuploaded already, and from comments I've seen here and there, WoodLore himself isn't going to be too fussed about that. Yes, he has every right to delete his channel and his songs. I just wish he hadn't felt the need to.

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Text Review Roundup: "Surf and/or Turf"

A niggling-and-sometimes-worse backache is stopping me writing as much as I should be (hence the long delay in the next chapter of The Danger Within) but at least I can get this week's TRR sorted out. We may no longer have Batbrony's thoughts (a real loss, that) and there's nothing from Rhythm Red this time either, but there are still a reasonable number of text-based reviewers out there. One newcomer this week, though he'd been doing this for a while before I noticed: Mega Sean 45.

A very well received episode overall, with not a single reviewer outright disliking it and quite a few rating it their favourite of S8 so far.

Cuddlepug – mildly positive (graded B-; "all a little bit over- simplistic and twee, but the show should be applauded for exploring a realistic challenge that many kids face")

Derpy News – positive (graded A-; "a very good episode, though some may find some aspects a bit off")

JDPrime22 – very positive (9/10; "Another great episode. Season 8 is on a winning streak!")

Louder Yay – very positive (4/5; "not perfect, but I nevertheless enjoyed it more than anything else [this season]")

Mega Sean 45 – very positive ("I found this episode very enjoyable and a nice sequel to the movie, and a great new use of the CMCs!")

MLEEP Reviews – very positive (9/10; "presents a very mature subject [and] makes for a really great episode")

Rainbine – wildly positive (10/10; "a fantastic watch from the humor to the sweet moment at the end")

ShutterflyEQD – very positive ("the cuteness and funny levels were off the charts!")

TheDragonWarlock – positive (graded B+; "[The CMC] didn't really contribute much to the resolution [but] The comedy is good, the characterizations are solid, and the song itself is great.")

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Ponyfic Roundup 200: Tough at the Top?

And here we are! PR has reached its two hundredth edition. I had a number of suggestions as to how I could mark this, and I'm planning on using several of them for future editions. This week, though, I'm doing something very simple: reviewing Fimfiction's top-rated stories of under 20,000 words. (At the time of selection – the order changes from day to day.) I'm sticking to one story per author – sorry, Rambling Writer, as you're hit by this rule.

Read it Later story count: 337 (+1)

The top-rated fic of all that meets my criteria is not part of this roundup, for the simple reason that I've already read it! In fact, I've read the top three: Hoopy McGee's The Keepers of Discord (PR 138), ye olde classique by PhantomFox Sunny Skies All Day Long (PR 30) and Rune Soldier Dan's To Try for the Sun (PR 116). The next story is eligible for review today, so let's begin our journey through these six (count 'em!) highly-rated fics with that one:

The Lazy Dragon of Dragonvale by Georg
Best Hell Ever by Rambling Writer
Just Dodge! by DannyJ
Ah Ain't Got No Ack-cent! by Conner Cogwork
Twilightning by Bok
All the Mortal Remains by Cold in Gardez

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

Monday, 23 April 2018

Episode review: S8E06: "Surf and/or Turf"

A very happy Scootaloo, as a seapony, with clumps of seaweed behind her
Okay, no need for an actual review this week. Ten stars!
We had a new writer for Friendship is Magic this week: Brian Hohlfeld. Although new to this show, he's certainly no newbie when it comes to writing for animated series, having been heavily involved in the creation of Transformers: Rescue Bots along with a certain Nicole Dubuc. After last week's flawed but still generally pretty fun "Grannies Gone Wild", what would "Surf and/or Turf" bring us?

Friday, 20 April 2018

Text Review Roundup: "Grannies Gone Wild"

I'm a day late with TRR this week, for no other reason than that I forgot about it. Sorry! Anyway, here we go again. I've dropped Michaelsety's review this week as, sadly, his non-native English has proved beyond me to interpret. On the plus side, I've added Batbrony back in – the formal reviews seem to have gone for good, sadly, but there's a hot take in the MLP Forums ep discussion thread that will do me.

Reaction to this episode was largely positive, with Cuddlepug a notable dissenter from the consensus.

Batbrony – generally positive ("a fun, solid, entertaining episode")

Cuddlepug – extremely negative (graded D-; "As episodes of Friendship is Magic go, "Grannies Gone Wild" is among the most pointless – and the most uncomfortable.")

Derpy News – fairly positive (graded B+; "just a funny episode and a breather one")

JDPrime22 – very positive (9/10; "The comedy was great, the writing was fun [...] Fantastic episode")

Louder Yay – positive (3/5; "superior filler [...] just Fun With Colourful Talking Ponies")

MLEEP Reviews – wildly positive (10/10; "an overall very entertaining and worthwhile episode")

Rainbine – mildly positive (6/10; "a very simple episode")

Rhythm Red – positive (8/10; "a fantastic lesson, and a creative storyline")

ShutterflyEQD – positive ("I really enjoyed each of [the Golden Horseshoe Gals'] personalities")

TheDragonWarlock – positive (graded B; "a fun episode all around ... Never listen to Applejack; ever.")

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Ponyfic Roundup 199: In the Valleys of the Land of Song

Title explanation: this song

The weather seems at long last to be taking a turn for the better. After what seems like an eternity of cold, grey murk, the sun has been seen this week – and by this time of year, with sunset not until after 8pm, when it does come out it can feel very warm even if the air temperature is still in the teens. However, this is not Weather Roundup, so let's move on.

Read it Later story count: 336 (-2)

Thanks in part to finally getting a new mobile with a screen big enough to read on without squinting, I've managed another five-fic week! If you're old enough, you may dimly recall a period when I did this all the time. Quite a mix of themes and characters this time, though one fic is there specifically because of one I reviewed last week. The five are:

Life Choices by UnlicensedBrony
Anytime by Super Trampoline
Words Unspoken by wille179
I Don't Hate Cutie Marks by Forces of Darkness
She Said No by Kodeake

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

Monday, 16 April 2018

Episode review: S8E05: "Grannies Gone Wild"

The four Golden Horseshoe Gals stand in a group listening to Goldie Delicious
Granny's mane looks really, really strange like that
Last week, we had an episode with a team-up I'd wanted for years but which clearly failed to be a classic, even if I did soften my initial dislike of it on repeat viewing. This time around we had "Grannies Gone Wild", a title I'm a little surprised Hasbro approved. This was a G. M. Berrow episode, which suggested something fairly light, and we had Granny Smith with her friends and a side order of AJ/Dash friction. Sounded like a recipe for fun. In the event...

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Group plug: "8-bit Ponies"

A couple of days ago, a Fimfiction member named palelordhiphis (who to my knowledge I'd never previously encountered) and I had a conversation in the Shameless Self-Promotion group. They'd posted some really nice Apple ][ pony graphics, and in another thread I'd posted a few of my BBC Micro song covers – including the one above. SweetAl Belle suggested a group for those who like 8-bit computers and ponies and palelordhiphis went right ahead and created one. And, well, here it is! You can find both the threads I've mentioned in it, but with luck there'll be more in the future.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Text Review Roundup: "Fake It 'Til You Make It"

I keep forgetting to mention this, but it pleased me greatly that Amy Keating Rogers opened a tweet recently with the words "Hey everypony!" Some people in the fandom get amazingly worked up about that sort of language being used among humans, but thanks to AKR's tweet I can now respond most eloquently: Hah!

Who knows whether Treehouse will mess up TRR once again? Until that happens, though, I'll carry on in my usual manner. No ArthurCrane once again, so I will now assume he's called a halt. Batbrony, on the other hoof, has mentioned that things are pretty hectic in his life right now, so I may check in on him again. One new reviewer: JDPrime22 from Fimfiction.

Reaction to this episode was distinctly mixed.

Cuddlepug – middling (graded B-; one of Cuddlepug's non-review reviews)

Derpy News – mixed (graded B-; "had the potential to be an A-episode, but it gets derailed by Fluttershy getting too much into [her] characters")

JDPrime22 – broadly positive (7/10; "we've already gone over similar lessons before for Fluttershy [but] still a good episode")

Louder Yay – mildly negative (2.5/5; "Superb VA work from Andrea Libman [but a m]issed opportunity for some rare extended [Fluttershy and Rarity] interaction")

Michaelsety – fairly positive (graded B; looks nice and background ponies are good, but the moral isn't clear)

MLEEP Reviews – very positive (9/10; "managed to do right what 'Putting Your Hoof Down' did wrong")

Rainbine – very positive (9/10; "genuinely funny [and the] moral [...] is very good")

Rhythm Red – mildly positive (7/10; "despite some of the episode being a little unrealistic, overall there were plenty of laughs")

ShutterflyEQD – very positive ("we get to see [Fluttershy's] confidence go just a little bit too far. Though, I sure am enjoying the new, confident, Fluttershy!")

TheDragonWarlock – mildly negative (graded C+; "has good ideas in it, but it's mired in all the massive plot holes and inconsistencies")

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Ponyfic Roundup 198: Meeting Mr Miandad

Title explanation: this song

I may not have enjoyed the most recent show episode as much as I'd have liked, but I am still very much on the ride as far as FiM as a whole is concerned. Some good people have decided recently to call it a day (Ceffyl Dwr, to take just one example) and I wish them the very best in their future writing endeavours.  But as for me? I'll still plug away with the ponyfic reviews, so here goes.

Read it Later story count: 338 (-6)

I've done a bit better this week than I did for the last PR a fortnight ago, and have finally got back up to five fics in a week again, so let's get cracking. Today for your delight and delectation, I have reviews of the following stories:

Please, Count to Five by Magello
The Sun is A Star by Night Doughnut
Berry Punch's House Can Talk by Glimglam
"We Never Had a Single Fight" by oh pony
Feeling That Way by Super Trampoline

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

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

We may be getting Treehoused again

Apparently, Treehouse (the channel that broadcasts FiM in Canada) is running on a two-episodes-per-weekend schedule again. If they keep on doing this, they'll overtake the US by the end of April. This doesn't really bother me – after all, it feels as though half the fandom has already seen every episode from six to 13 anyway thanks to the leaks – but it does mean I'll have to think about how I'm going to play this as far as Louder Yay is concerned.

My intention right now is to stick with the US schedule for episode reviews. Writing two a week would just tire me out. What happens to Text Review Roundup I have no idea – last time we had this situation I had to abandon it as it became unworkable, so be prepared for that to happen again. I quite enjoy doing TRR, though, and as far as I'm aware nobody else in the fandom does such a thing, so I'll keep it going if I can.

Monday, 9 April 2018

Episode review: S8E04: "Fake It 'Til You Make It"

Fluttershy and Rarity hugging, both smiling with closed eyes, in front of greenery
See this picture? This is what I wanted from this episode
Season 8's first two episodes had been reasonably entertaining without blowing me away, so I was anxious for something really great to assuage any worries that we might be in for another S6-style run of mehness. I was also nervouscited that "Fake It 'Til You Make It" would be a Fluttershy/Rarity episode – perhaps only the third the show has had after "Green Isn't Your Color" and "Filli Vanilli". The writer was Josh Hamilton, whose record with me has been mixed. How did he do? Past the break I'll give some brief thoughts.

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Potential new blog subtitle!

YouTube screenshot by someone insisting that anyone who likes post-S5 ponies is "not actually a real fan"
Annoyingly, this wasn't around on 1st April. (Mind you, neither was I.) So I can't just change my blog subtitle to "Not actually a real fan" and see how long it takes anyone to notice. Considering how few people have ever remarked on the name of the blog or the reason why its title bar is that particular shade of yellow, it might have been a while...

Have some context, therefore – this is, of course, from YouTube. Please note that it is a fact that as well as not being a "true fan", I now hate Fluttershy. And Celestia. And Scootaloo. And the whole darn lot of 'em, apparently. I like post-S5 Pony, so I cannot be a real fan. Not sure what I've been doing for the past six years, but hey ho. Sorry about that. Look out on Wednesday for Ponyfic Roundup 198: I Hate The Show And The Characters And Basically Just Everything Edition.

Saturday, 7 April 2018

UK PonyCon venue and ticket prices announced!

This is the one I know a lot of fans in the UK have been waiting for ever since last year's UK PonyCon finished. Yes, we already had the dates (13/14 October) but the make-or-break detail for many people, in terms of whether they'll be able to go at all, is where the convention will be held. Well, wait no longer! As the official site now proclaims, UK PonyCon 2018 will be held at the...

Nottingham Conference Centre

This is associated with Nottingham Trent University, so in that sense it's a similar deal to last year's con at UWE in Bristol. A major difference, however, is that the NCC is in the city centre. Well, on the northern edge of it, anyway — it's about a 15-minute walk from the main railway station, and also within reach of a decent range of hotels.

As for tickets, they will go on sale at midday BST on Saturday 28 April, and full details are on the site. For convenience, though, I'll summarise here, especially as the pricing structure has changed a bit since 2017.

The key point is that a Standard Adult Weekend ticket will cost £35. This price has been held since last year, with the trade-off being that there will not be an Early Bird discount this time. I think that's a sensible and fair approach. As I said last year, UK PonyCon has a good reputation for offering reasonably-priced tickets, and it's pleasing to see that the convention is maintaining this in 2018.

The Supporter tier from last year will again be available, but this year it'll be sold as an upgrade rather than a separate ticket type, with a simple pricing setup: upgrading will cost a flat £10 per person. There is one exception, which I'm very pleased to see: upgrading a family ticket will be £20. Last year this cost £40, which I felt was a bit steep, so applause to UKPC for the change.

There'll also be a VIP tier, with various privileges such as early entry, which will carry a £35pp premium. These tickets sold out in the space of six hours last year, so get in quick if you want one! Perhaps unsurprisingly after last year's supplier problems, the included goodie bag does not include a plushie. Instead, you'll get an art print to go with your tote bag, T-shirt, VIP lanyard and badge.

As you'd expect, there will be reduced-price tickets for children (aged 4 to 12), as well as one-day tickets. New for 2018 is that Saturday-only tickets are slightly more expensive than Sunday-only ones, in view of the longer Saturday programme. For example, an Adult Saturday-only ticket will cost £23, whereas the Sunday equivalent will be £19. (Last year they were both £21.)

I'll write up another post in the near future with some more thoughts, for example on transport. But this will do for now. So, although you can't actually buy tickets for another three weeks, I'll end with a link to the place where you will be able to buy them when the time comes: