Sunday, 31 March 2019

EqG Mini-review: "Spring Breakdown"

"The Discovery what app?"
Yesterday we got our latest Equestria Girls special, "Spring Breakdown", which saw our favourite humanised seven off on a cruise. This was by way of being a warm-up for Friendship is Magic S9 for me, but I know plenty of people really enjoy EqG, so here's my three-para review of Nick Confalone's latest effort. Spoilers ahoy after the break!

Friday, 29 March 2019

Sounds of 2011: Number One!

Well, here we are at last. This is the song that made the top spot of Everfree Radio's 2011 Top 100. I'm honestly not sure how many people would have guessed that this would beat everything else – I certainly wouldn't. If you'd asked me to guess, I'd probably have gone for "Nightmare Night" – but that didn't quite make it and this did, so there y'go.


Yes, this is it. From Mic the Microphone's channel, here is the song that got more votes than any other. The original "Beyond Her Garden" was down at no. 53, with Silva Hound's remix at 34, but this one had popularity on another level. Why? Well... in all honesty, I don't know. Admittedly I'm not a rap fan, so I find it hard to judge the quality of the lyrics. They're quite well integrated with the original music, at least. I have a sneaking suspicion the reason for this being top may be little more than bronies of the day going, "Wow, these three guys together?!? Isn't that amazing?!? Let's vote for it!!!"

There's quite a lengthy explanation of the story behind the song in the video description, but in essence: Carrot Top has Earth Pony magic that lets her give life to barren land. She's burned as a witch but survives. Months later, outsiders who've heard of her return to "finish the job", but now the villagers are on her side. Nevertheless, Carrot Top gives herself up to prevent conflict. They really do burn her this time, but after the smoke has cleared a garden blooms in what remains of her house.

...yeah. That's the official explanation, courtesy of Mic himself. Can't say it exactly appeals to me, but oh well. I'm just here to report the chart as other people voted for it, and "Beyond Her Tomb" got the most support, so here it is at number one. If you want this at better-than-YouTube quality, then there's a 320k MP3 download in the video description. Oddly, there's a separate one for the lyrics; that's not something I've seen before. So we do at least end this series with something unusual.

Next time: You'll have to wait for "Sounds of 2012" for that! I will do it at some point, with a few tweaks to the format, but it won't be soon. If I remember, though, there will be another "Pony Music Library" entry before S9 gets going.

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Ponyfic Roundup 243: It Says that They Liked Jousting

I could make some highly opinionated comment here on Brexit or Article 13 or something, but I'm not going to. Anyone who wants to know my political views probably already does, and I'm not going to inflict them on the rest of you. Well, not usually. This blog is staying rooted firmly in Equestria!

Read it Later story count: 266 (+1)

Thanks to a lot of work and some emergency painting (of the DIY type, not the artistic type) there are only two fics in today's Roundup, which only just qualifies it as a roundup at all. But off we go anyway.

My Full Sized Goddess Horse by PresentPerfect
Applejack's Day Off by 1Bit

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

Monday, 25 March 2019

Sounds of 2011: Nos. 3 and 2

Time for the last-but-one instalment of this Everfree Radio 2011 Top 100 series! Just the two songs for you today, one of which is now much better known than the other in my experience. (Other people may have different ones, but they're not writing this. At least, not unless they're hypnotically mind-controlling me or something.)


This song is the one that's retained its popularity; I don't know whether it would score as high as this these days, but I wouldn't be at all surprised to see it well inside an all-time fandom top 20. WoodenToaster uploaded this just nine days after "Luna Eclipse" aired. Its rap sections are a bit on the inconsistent side: "She's gonna blow you all back with her Equestrian Voice" is a great line, but "With a royal farewell and an animate spell" is less so. The beat is very strong, though, the opening instrumental section is great and the track has heaps of energy. When Mic played this track at BUCK 2014, it was very well received. No HQ download, I'm afraid.


Sometimes subtitled "Lyra and Bon Bon", this is the first of the "Seasons" tracks that Jackle App made long ago. Unlike "Nightmare Night", this wouldn't get into an all-time most popular list today, which is a slight shame. It's about a pegasus who accepts L&B's hospitality after being injured in a flying accident. Even back then, the two mares were widely considered an item by the fandom, and the lyrics reflect that. Jackle App said he was going for a "cheesy, electropoppy sound" and wanted to make it sound a bit like Owl City. There's certainly a pretty strong resemblance there. You can buy this song in HQ on Jackle App's Bandcamp for a dollar.

Next time: We finally reach the end as Everfree Radio's top-rated brony song of 2011 is revealed!

Sunday, 24 March 2019

UK PonyCon ticket details announced!

Yesterday, the UK PonyCon staff announced the big detail we'd all been waiting for: tickets will go on sale at midday UK time on Saturday 13th April. Although you can't yet actually buy tickets, the actual tickets page has now been updated with 2019's details. There's one major change to the ticketing structure this year and the expected price rises, the most important of which I'll try to summarise below.

A Standard Adult Weekend ticket will cost £37. This is a £2 increase since last year, a little lower than I would have guessed. If you want a Supporter ticket (with your name in the con book, an exclusive badge and an extra donation to long-standing con charity the RDA), you'll pay a £10 premium, so your total cost will be £47. Again, that's just £2 up on 2018. Keeping these rises to a minimum may have been possible because of a large hike in the VIP ticket price, which now carries a £60 premium over Standard and is now a hefty £97, up £27 since last year. As VIP tickets sold out in 26 minutes in 2018, this is perhaps not surprising!

The VIP package has changed slightly for 2019, with the return of a con-exclusive plushie as part of the goodie pack the Britannia Seapony. The site doesn't say who made her; I'll try to remember to ask the UKPC people when I have the time. You'll also get the usual VIP bonuses: free con T-shirt and goodie bag, exclusive lanyard and badge (and maybe more), priority entry on both days, name in the con book, and so on and so forth.

The one notable change this year is the introduction of a Saturday Evening ticket. This allows access only to the evening entertainment (so last year that was EileMonty and co) and costs a flat £8. This is an interesting innovation and may appeal to people who are working during the day on Saturday so can't justify the £25 for a one-day ticket. (Sunday-only is £20.) If you're considering this ticket, bear in mind that the vendor stalls will be closed.

As usual, there are lower rates for children and saver rates for families – this is no surprise, but I think it's especially important for this convention, as it's the most family-friendly of the lot and needs to stay that way. For myself, although I had a VIP ticket last year I think it fairly unlikely I'll get one this time. Money is likely to be a bit tighter, especially if I choose to go to Griffish Isles too. The Supporter tier seems likely to be my choice in the end.

As always, pleased remember that this con has sold out for the last four years, often months in advance. That means you cannot buy a ticket on the door. I know this looks strange to many American readers, but believe me, the way US cons work really does not fully translate to the UK. Am I going? Well, yes, unless I really can't manage it at all. This is UK PonyCon. How could I not go? :)

Friday, 22 March 2019

I am victorious!

You play as one of the Young Six
This is a most unaccustomed feeling for me. I never complete games. I'm renowned for being a really, really useless gamer. Yet here I am, receiving the congratulations of Princess Twilight Sparkle herself. I have to say, I've had more fun with Pocket Ponies than with any mobile game for a long time. Even the required grinding (assuming you don't want to pay) isn't as ridiculous as with most similar titles.

It's possible I'll get round to writing a proper (albeit probably quite short) review of Pocket Ponies at some point, but for now you just get me bouncing around with happiness. I'm still playing, though, as I still haven't managed to get Fluttershy as one of my mystery box ponies!

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Ponyfic Roundup 242: The Citadel of Chaos

I have before me a paperback called Reach for Tomorrow; it's a 1974 reissue of a 1956 collection of early Arthur C Clarke short stories. In his preface, Clarke says, "I wrote these stories to entertain one person—myself. It still seems a remarkable piece of good luck that other people have been entertained as well." Words to live by.

Read it Later story count: 265 (-3)

Another small collection of ponyfics today. Without further ado, adieu or even Agadoo, here they are:

Dragon Lord Ember Skips Work for an Hour by The Cloptimist
Twilight Discovers Literary Analysis by Amit
Late Fees by MrNumbers

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

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

"Young Six" it is, then

No, no, this was a totally random choice...
I've been playing the Pocket Ponies game on my phone quite a bit, now it's finally appeared on Android. It's freemium, but not (yet?) as onboxiously so as the Gameloft MLP game. It takes a lot of grinding to buy powerful ponies, but the numbers aren't completely impossible. The art style is really pretty cute, which helps. (See picture above.) I expect I'll get bored with it eventually, but that hasn't happened yet.

The other point of this post is that the game uses the term "Young 6" to refer to the students. I don't quite know why it's with the numeral, given that the same game uses "Mane Six" with the number written out as a word. With that in mind, though, I'm going to shift over from "Student Six" to "Young Six" from now on. It's not actually show canon (yet?) but it's clearly now extended canon. Not using the numeral, though!

Monday, 18 March 2019

I ATEN'T DEAD

Just exhausted. I've spent the last two days rushing around looking at (and travelling on!) steam trains, one day with friends and one day on my own. Very enjoyable, but it's surprisingly tiring. Hence no Pony content today... unless you count this. Big Mac admiring a big engine. Specifically, Gordon – named after General Gordon, not the Thomas the Tank Engine character! :P


Friday, 15 March 2019

Sounds of 2011: Nos. 6 to 4

Here we are at the antepenultimate post in this long, long series! Not a lot to say in this intro today, so let's get right on with the music. A quick reminder for anyone just joining us: this countdown comes from Everfree Radio's brony-voted Top 100 songs of 2011, the first full year of the show and its fandom.


At first I thought I'd have to invoke Inclusion Criterion 3 on this track, that being "songs that are just too significant to leave out". After all, everyone knew this song in the old days. However, although the artist is long gone from YouTube, he does still have an active Soundcloud, including this song – so Criterion 1 applies, ie "still available from the artist somewhere". As is obvious, this is a Pinkie Pie song. I don't know for sure, but I suspect the title comes from the scene in "Lesson Zero" where Pinkie brings a picnic basket, which immediately floats away. Other than a couple of slightly odd (but short) rap sections, this is a rather nice, light'n'bouncy track, told from Pinkie's point of view, explaining how she sees the world. There are only a few show samples, but they fit quite well. FraGmenTd does still have a Bandcamp, and though you can't get this version of the song there, you can purchase (for $1) a dance remix.


We're back in the land of The Living Tombstone now, for the last time in 2011, though many will know it from the 2012 BronyDanceParty video. This is a pretty dark song, in which a pony wakes to find the land ruined and ponies dead, with no memory of "what happened in September". As the track progresses, he gradually recalls more and more – until, right at the end, things take a shocking twist. Well, shocking the first time you hear it, at least. I quite like the structure and melody of this one, but it's another where the strength of Tombstone's accent gets in the way a bit. There's a 320k MP3 download in the video description.


Here's another song from the very early days: 20 May 2011. It's not quite the oldest brony song that's still popular, being a few weeks younger than "For the New Lunar Republic" (no. 20), but it's close. It sounds as you'd expect an Odyssey Eurobeat track to, albeit with rather more basic production values than his later Pony works. It's about a character who is experiencing a similar situation to Luna; as the artist emphasises, it's not sung from Celestia's point of view. There's the odd awkward lyric ("infinite despise" doesn't really mean anything) but this still deserves its classic status. Get the HQ version for whatever you like on Odyssey's Bandcamp.

Next time: two of the top three are revealed, and one track's popularity has endured significantly better than that of the other.

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Ponyfic Roundup 241: Unobtainium

I did have a vaguely interesting intro this week, but I helpfully forgot to include it and left the intro from last week's PR as a placeholder. So it'll have to wait another week!

Read it Later story count: 268 (nc)

Just two stories today. There should have been three, but one had gone by the time I reached today. This seems to be happening more often than it used to, perhaps because of the relative ease of nuking Fimfiction accounts now. It's a shame, but there it is. Anyway, today's pair are:

The Life of a Quill: The Taste of Cold Steel by Quillian Inkheart
Twilight Spun... by Starscribe

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

Sunday, 10 March 2019

Sounds of 2011: Nos. 10 to 7

It's time again for... this! Just four posts to go in this series if you count this one. As I've mentioned before, there will be a "Sounds of 2012" at some point, but it won't take quite so long. Also, Pony Music Library will be getting another inductee fairly soon, hopefully before S9 of Friendship is Magic begins. Okay, here are the next four songs from Everfree Radio's Top 100 chart for the first full year of FiM:


This is an unlisted video on d.notive's account, which gave me slight pause – but it is available and this is a specialist MLP blog, so I feel okay featuring it here. The unlisted status may be because this is based on "The Conversion Bureau", a sometimes controversial class of ponyfics involving human-to-pony transformation (and more; see the TVTropes page I linked to) that were very popular in the earlyish days of the fandom and which people still occasionally write. The song itself is a nice, fairly simple piece of electronica with some good lyrics wherein the two artists alternate lines. Worth a listen even if you don't care about the fics that inspired it, and there's a 320k MP3 download link in the video description.


A remix of a General Mumble song, itself based on a track from Pirates of the Caribbean, WoodenToaster's version is a cross between pirate derring-do and Pinkie's "Grand Galloping Gala" song from way back in S1E03. It's more electronica – if there's one thing the Everfree Top 100s tend to do, it's to give that genre a little too much prominence – but it's a nice bit of swashbuckling silliness all the same. Not too long, either, at a mere 3:17. I'm afraid I can't find a download in HQ, though there may be one somewhere. I'm just a silly pony.


You know how recently I mentioned that there was a 2011 The Living Tombstone song I really liked? Well, this is it. Making use of the chorus from Jackle App's "Autumn" (which has previously featured in this series) this is a fantastically energetic number that might even get me up and dancing... if I ever danced. Which I don't. It's both happy and nostalgic, a difficult combination to pull off, and Mic's vocals avoid the problem of Tombstone's sometimes overbearing accent, something that badly affects some of his other old songs. You can grab a 320k MP3 from the video description.


A fantastic early track from the guy now known as RC88, this is Twi's theme from the ill-fated Fighting is Magic. As I've said before, the artist went on to compose music for the replacement game, Them's Fighting Herds, but this one is pure Pony. It really captures Twilight's energy and ability, with some lovely glockenspiel-esque notes and nicely judged references to songs such as "At the Gala". This is great even if you have no interest in the game, though sadly the song listed as inspiration in the description is no longer available. For HQ versions, pay $1 on RC88's Bandcamp.

Next time, yet another song by The Living Tombstone. And two others.

Saturday, 9 March 2019

S9 air date and second official trailer out

We have a second official trailer for the final season of Friendship is Magic, courtesy of Hasbro. This is if anything more spoilery than the first trailer so I very strongly advise you not to watch it if you don't want to know anything about the S9 premiere. Even if that's the case, though, you may want to come back to it in a month's time as it uses a brand new and (to me, anyway) very affecting piece of music.


One non-spoilery piece of news is that the show will resume on Saturday, 6th April. So we won't have to wait until Easter after all!

Beyond the page break, a few thoughts on the trailer. These will of course be full of spoilers.

Thursday, 7 March 2019

How to get your story reviewed in Ponyfic Roundup

I'd like to begin by saying that this post isn't my fault: someone, who as I'm feeling in a good mood shall remain nameless, wanted me to make it. I resisted for quite a while, since it seemed so silly, but this someone probably wasn't going to stop asking until I actually did make said post. For those odd enough to want a PR review, then, a few pointers.

Read this blog
That's why I'm posting this here and not over on Fimfiction! The place I'm most likely to see your comment is in the comments (funny, that) of an actual PR post. Please don't comment in a totally unrelated post, as that won't help you get very far at all. That said, I'll happily accept requests and suggestions via my Fimfiction PMs if you'd rather make your case privately.

Submit complete stories only
This is a very nearly unbreakable rule: I do not enjoy reading stories until I know there's a conclusion waiting at the end. Your fic needs to be marked "Complete" for it to have a chance. I say "very nearly" because I did make an exception for Proof Reading Clopfics Sucks (PR 112) and Cheerilee's Thousand (PR 208) as their format made them pretty much self-contained as they stood.

Don't squick me... too much
I don't read much Mature-rated ponyfic, but I don't rule it out. I won't read foalcon under any circumstances. I can deal with some fetishes: I've reviewed stories covering BDSM and exhibitionism, for example. As far as gore goes, I've read Cupcakes and have zero interest in reading yet another terrible new version. I may accept even M-rated gore in the service of an actual story, though. Bear in mind that my favourite pony is Fluttershy, and that I think cruelty is the worst sin of them all.

Expect a wait
At the time of writing, my Read it Later list is north of 250 stories. I don't read in strict adding order, so if the fic you suggest really grabs my attention, it may not take long for me to get to it. Some stories still haven't been reviewed after two years on the list, though. I just don't have enough spare time to read 50 stories a week.

I like one-shots
This is connected with the previous point. If I can read one 70,000-word fic or ten 7,000-word fics, I'll usually choose the latter. Not always, as my occasional Spotlight editions demonstrate, but you're definitely more likely to be reviewed if you submit a short piece rather than a million-word epic. (Again: I am not going to read, much less review, Project Horizons.)

Know what you're getting into
If you're on Fimfiction, you'll probably already know that its reviewers are rather tougher than the ones you get on FanFiction.Net. While I'm far from being the toughest around, and won't insult you personally, I'm not going to hold back if I think a story has serious faults. Seriously: don't ask for honest thoughts if you can only deal with praise.

Give me feedback!
When my review of your story goes up, I would love to talk to you about it, especially if you want to pick up on anything I said. I leave the comments here open, including to anonymous users – though please at least sign a name if you go that route. As with stories themselves, your comments and criticism will help make my reviews more useful.

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Ponyfic Roundup 240: Newcomers Edition

This week's PR is a special edition: every one of these stories was published by an author who began life on Fimfiction on or after 1 January 2017. They're a mixture of fics their authors asked me to review, fics I had recommended to me and fics I found myself that seemed interesting. I specified that stories should be complete and no more than 20,000 words long, but otherwise there were few restrictions. 

Read it Later story count: 268 (-2)

Since I expect to have a few people reading today who aren't regulars around here, I think I should underline that my ratings are based on how much I, personally, enjoyed a fic. A five doesn't mean everyone will love it, and a one doesn't mean everyone will hate it. Also, as ever, if you enjoy writing ponyfic then that's reason enough to do it – but I won't sugar-coat these reviews. Here are the six stories I've read for today:

Every Day is Sun-Day by Silent Whisper
Joy and Reflection by Halira
The Minds' Insanity by Silence_EXE
Muted Wubs by pabrony83
Terror of the Flutterbat by Discord The Narrator
A Week in the Winter Storm by Samuel-Neocros

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

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Griffish Isles announces Lee Tockar as Guest of Honour

Those who know me will also know that up until now I've been a little disappointed with the dearth of information from the one-day Griffish Isles convention in Manchester, given that it's now barely two months away. Conventions aren't cheap, and nor are most Manchester hotels, so for most people cons need to be a bit more than "a big meet with games" to justify the outlay.

However, yesterday there was a proper, big-ticket announcement: Lee Tockar will be GI's Guest of Honour and will host a panel on the day. As I'm sure most people know, Tockar has had several voice roles in Friendship is Magic, most notably Steven Magnet, Snips and Gummy. This is definitely a coup for the con. It's going to be hard to match the immense popularity of Elley Ray's visit last year, but I hope they can do it!

And since someone's bound to ask: I really don't know if I'll go. If the con were in Birmingham, it'd be a near-certainty. But of course it isn't. I really wish Brum got as many Pony cons as Manchester – or any at all, actually! Manchester is just close enough for me to visit for the day, thus saving on hotel bills, but the train ticket is well over £40, so realistically with con entry, food and a little merch I'd be looking at a £100+ day out.

As such, doing GI and UK PonyCon in the autumn may not be something I can justify. Since I'm not staying overnight, I can make the decision very late on – unless tickets sell out, of course! Still, none of this takes away from the fact that Griffish Isles have now got something specific and eye-catching that they can point to and say, "This. This is something you'll get if you join us in May." And that has to be applauded. Well done, GI.

Monday, 4 March 2019

Spoiler policy for MLP:FiM S9

Here's how I'll be handling things on Louder Yay this year. This may be tweaked a bit as the year goes on, but I expect it to be roughly the same all season.

In brief, I'll do my best to avoid spoiling people on what's coming up – but I won't have a long spoiler blackout after Discovery Family has aired an episode. Once I've written up the episode review, I'll consider that episode fair game. This is consistent with what I've done in the past and is roughly what I do on Twitter, too. Since the reviews generally appear on Monday at 8am UK time, that will give people around 40 hours to catch up. Because of the way this blog works, a long spoiler blackout period is not practical.

I do reserve the right to make changes to this policy if it becomes unsustainable; I'm not really willing to avoid writing anything at all above the break! If we get another situation like with Twilicorn, which was pretty much an open secret months in advance, things may get awkward. On the other hand, if we get another lot of leaked material as with S8, discussion of that I will try to hide under cuts. I'll do my best to give everyone a heads-up if I need to change anything, at any rate.

Officially sanctioned previews such as trailers and synopses will be handled on a case-by-case basis. I don't personally consider those spoilers, but some people do and I'd like to respect that. The recent S9 trailer was embedded above the break, since its thumbnail revealed only its April start date – that's an example of the sort of non-plot-related information I will not consider spoilery. However, the content of the trailer was definitely spoilery, so I made sure to discuss that only after a page break and with a prominent warning.

The comments sections are not something I can realistically pre-moderate, so please bear that in mind if you read those. I do hope that commenters will be considerate, but I am not going to place any outright restrictions on them – except that I will delete comments with really blatant spoilers of the "Chrysalis is a changeling!" or "Twilight's tree gets blown up!" type. Blogger doesn't allow me to edit comments, so I can't just remove the offending word or phrase and leave the rest intact.

I hope that's clear. As ever, I'm open to suggestions and questions about all this.

Saturday, 2 March 2019

Sounds of 2011: Nos. 14 to 11

If you haven't already done so, get yourself over to HAHcon – the Horses at Home Convention, a 100% online con that lets you experience the Pony convention experience without leaving home! Starting 2:45pm UK time and running on into the early hours of Sunday – schedule here.

Okay, back to Sounds of 2011. Thankfully, it's now pretty certain that I will be able to wrap this series up before Season 9 of the show gets under way next month! Off we go.


This song was written by StormWolf (now JoshLohMusic) to match the theme "The End of Equestria", and is a Eurobeat-style number inspired by Discord; pre-reformation back then, of course. The lyrics aren't the best, and they sometimes feel rather squashed into their lines, but it's still a pretty catchy song. The artist wasn't really happy with it at the time, and remade it in 2012. That later version is noticeably more polished, but as usual the one embedded above is the 2011 original. There's a 320k MP3 download linked in the video description.


Yet another early outing for The Living Tombstone here. As you can probably guess from the video thumbnail, this song was inspired by "Sisterhooves Social" in early S2. As with a number of early Tombstone songs, I'm not a massive fan; the guy's accent is strong and the lyrics often don't even try to rhyme. The melody and beat are fine enough, if stereotypical TLT, but I'm honestly a little surprised with how high up the charts this song landed, even in 2011. Again, there's a Mediafire download for a 320k MP3 in the video description.


This one, which I should warn has explicit lyrics from the start, is on Jackle App's account, so that's where I'll link. I'm not entirely sure what this one is about, though it seems to have a message that creating what you enjoy is perfectly fine even if you're not (to use a term that I don't think existed in 2011) horse famous. I get the feeling it may have been made in response to some early-fandom drama I wasn't around to experience. Mic does the rapping verses, while Jackle App handles the distorted electronic chorus. There's a more popular 2012 Tombstone remix, but I'm afraid the Dropbox link for the original is dead.


And we're back with the king of the early-series show remixes, Alex S. This fun track uses samples from seven of Pinkie's S1 solo songs, from "Giggle at the Ghostly" to "Singing Telegram". It sounds exactly like you'd imagine an Alex S. song would sound, though for once I actually feel this may be a little too short at 4 minutes 30 seconds. The creator made a later VIP version, which is both a bit longer and technically more accomplished, but quite a few people prefer the raw sound of the original. For a 320k MP3 download, hit the video description.

Next time, we move into the top ten! And guess what? We'll have an old Living Tombstone song that I actually really like. :P