Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Ponyfic Roundup 259

Read it Later story count: 247 (-1)

I don't have a lot to say here today, except that the Ashes begin tomorrow – so you can expect the occasional cricket-related comment on the blog again. Depending on England's performance, of course, which is never something to take for granted in either direction! As far as PR is concerned, I've reviewed three stories this time. It hasn't been a bad week, either.

How to Remove a Unicorn Tooth by Skywriter
Intellectual Property by AugieDog
We Were Bunnies by Heartshine

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

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Sounds of 2012: Nos. 90 to 84

It turns out that a late report from Cambridge Botanical Garden means that last Thursday was in fact the hottest day ever officially recorded in the UK, at 38.7 °C (101.7 °F). Whew. Anyway, it's now cool enough to return to Sounds of 2012. This week, I'm skipping music for the first time. That's because of my four rules. Summarised criteria for inclusion:

Rule 1: Still available in the same or (1b) similar form direct from the artist
Rule 2: Available from a third party, with reason to believe the artist is fine with this
Rule 3: So famous that it would be plain silly to leave it out
Rule 4: Being unlisted is not, on its own, grounds for exclusion

To compensate for the two songs one song I've had to skip this time around, I'm going a couple of entries past where I'd normally stop, so you're still getting five six tracks. Here's the run-down:

90: MandoPony – I Am No Hero
89: Forest Rain – Luna (Alt Mode)
88: skipped
87: Sim Gretina – Princess Of The Night
86: PrinceWhateverer & Acoustic Brony – Breaking Bonds
85: Aviators – Luna (Aviators Remix)
84: Sand Josieph – Daddy Discord

Past the cut for videos and details!

Monday, 29 July 2019

Equestria Girls: Nearly Over and Nearly Out

With the US broadcast of "Sunset's Backstage Pass" (which yes, I'll try to get at least a mini-review of up this week), it appears that we're almost at the end of the road as far as the Equestria Girls sub-franchise is concerned. According to Nick Confalone, there will be no more specials – a season finale was planned but has been set aside, and there doesn't seem any real hope for a third season either. There are more shorts to come, but that would appear to be all.

Also in HumanHorseWorld, news of another background same-sex couple. It would be much better if these things could be right out in the open, of course, and it's right that people keep pressing for that. But I think it is progress to get to this point. Not enough progress, but progress nevertheless. Even so... I wonder whether G5 might finally take the plunge and give us some explicitly LGBT characters. If Arthur can do it, then so can My Little Pony.

Friday, 26 July 2019


The UK recorded its hottest ever July day, and second-hottest on record, yesterday, with Cambridge hitting 38.1 °C. That's 100.6 °F for those of you who still work in Fahrenheit – only the second time hitting three figures has happened, too. And remember, home AC is barely used in this country, so the day was pretty hard going for many of us. Admittedly it reached a mere 32.5 °C (90.5 °F) in my neck of the woods, but even that was the highest I'd recorded for three years.

For this reason, I haven't had the energy to do any work on this blog, so all you're getting today is a note to the effect that the Pocket Ponies mobile game has received an update. I haven't had the chance to play the new levels yet, but I understand Fluttershy plays a significant role. This is a Good Thing.

Wednesday, 24 July 2019

Ponyfic Roundup 258

Read it Later story count: 248 (nc)

With temperatures going past 30 °C again this week, I'm taking things as easily as I can. The fan's on full blast, but it's still not much fun – and opening the window only makes things even warmer! Even so, I've somehow managed to get through five fics this time around. Okay, several are really short, but hay. They are:

The Quest by iisaw
Seeking Love in Laughter by Leafdoggy
Though the Present is Never Perfect, She Bought the Perfect Present by Star Destroyer
I Am a Pegasus by Tranquil Serenity
I Dream Of Dashie (But I Wish I Didn't) by Eskatarina

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

Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Season 9A – the UK of Equestria rankings

Since we're in the mid-season hiatus, it's also been time for the members of UK of Equestria to vote for their favourite and least favourite episodes of the first half of this final season. As in previous years, voters were required to rank all the episodes, with no ties permitted. The double-length premiere was treated as a single episode for these purposes, and Rainbow Roadtrip was not included. We had 13 voters this year, which is fewer than for 8A but more than for 7A.

I've divided the episodes into tiers on the basis of their mean rankings. One notable feature this year is that there are no one-star episodes, which I informally defined as eps with an average rating below 20. ("Sweet and Smoky" scored 19.846.) My own rankings are in brackets after the episode name; as you'll note, the one really major difference I have from the average is that I ranked "Sweet and Smoky" much higher than the average (Fluttershy bias? What Fluttershy bias?)

1. Frenemies (1)

2. Between Dark and Dawn (5)
3. The Beginning of the End (2)
4. Sparkle's Seven (3)
5. Student Counsel (4)

6. The Last Crusade (7)
7. Common Ground (8)

8. The Point of No Return (10)
9. Going to Seed (9)
10. She's All Yak (12)
11. Uprooted (11)
12. Sweet and Smoky (6)

Number of times each episode placed first
9: Frenemies
2: Sparkle's Seven
1: Between Dark and Dawn
1: She's All Yak

Number of times each episode placed last
4: She's All Yak
4: Sweet and Smoky
3: The Point of No Return
2: Going to Seed

Most controversial (highest standard deviation)
1. Sparkle's Seven
2. She's All Yak
3. The Last Crusade

Least controversial
1. Between Dark and Dawn
2. Frenemies
3. Uprooted

There's no doubt about UK of E's favourite episode: "Frenemies" has a clear lead over anything else, and apart from one person who placed it seventh everyone else put it in their top three. "Between Dark and Dawn" made everyone's top six, though only one voter picked it as their winner. At the other end of the table, I was really surprised (and frankly more a little disappointed) to see "Sweet and Smoky" get the wooden spoon. No fewer than seven of the 13 voters ranked it in their bottom two. (I had it in sixth spot.)

This half-season's "most controversial episode" award was also one that startled me. "Sparkle's Seven" did not get the unmixed praise on UK of E that it did in some other parts of the fandom, with four voters placing it in the bottom half. "She's All Yak" also split opinion, as did "The Last Crusade", whose controversy centred on Scootaloo's parents rather than her aunts. Meanwhile, the top two's consistent placing won them the top two spots in the "least controversial" list, too. "Uprooted" was the other ep to appear there, with all but two voters ranking it between eighth and 11th.

I get the sense that S9A has been quite well received so far – that's a British "quite", not an American one! – and that, while there's only one episode that seems set to be counted among the classics ("Frenemies") there haven't been any "Non-Compete Clause"-style disasters either. The season so far seems to be being seen as solid and better than S8, but perhaps falling a little short of the blockbuster feel that you might hope for from the very last season we'll ever see. Perhaps part two will provide that!

Sunday, 21 July 2019

Well, there's a few themed Ponyfic Roundups sorted!

Super Trampoline's FimFiction Feghoot Festival closed yesterday (barring any entries allowed extensions) and, once judging is over, I rather fancy the idea of reviewing some of them here. I've been slacking on the themed PRs front in recent months, and this seems a decent way to do something about them. Since there have been over 60 contest entries, I don't think I'm going to be reviewing all of them. I'll see how the results are announced first and then make a decision.

Those with long memories may recall that back in the early days of Ponyfic Roundup, I reviewed the 20+ finalists of the Equestria Daily "Outside Inside" competition, which asked entrants to write about ponies from a non-pony point of view. (See PRs 25, 26, 27 and 28.) It was pretty interesting, but it was also pretty time-consuming. On the other hoof, that contest had a higher word limit. I make no promises, and it's unlikely I'll end up reviewing all the entrants, though I'd like to read more than just the winners.

Ideally, I'd finish this post with a terrible pun, but you know what I'm like. Instead, here's a terrible pone.

Friday, 19 July 2019

Sounds of 2012: Nos. 95 to 91

It's long past time I got back to Sounds of 2012, my look back at Everfree Radio's brony-voted Top 100 tracks from that year's fandom output. As before, whether I include a song or not will be guided by these four rules. I'll repeat the potted version of these; I may do that for every post, but I'm not promising anything. Here:

Rule 1: Still available in some form direct from the artist
Rule 2: Available from a third party, with reason to believe the artist is fine with this
Rule 3: So famous that it would be plain silly to leave it out
Rule 4: Being unlisted is not, on its own, grounds for exclusion

I'm bringing you five more tunes today! Here's what you'll see lower down this post:

95: TeiThePony – Twilight's New Stockings
94: Freewave – Balloons in my Basket (Freewave's Deep Thoughts Remix)
93: Whitetail – MLP Fighting is Magic – Pinkie Pie Theme
92: Pony1Kenobi – The Party Hasn't Ended
91: All Levels At Once – Go Take Flight

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Ponyfic Roundup 257

Read it Later story count: 248 (-2)

Be warned: now I know there's at least one fellow cricket fan (The Cloptimist) around these parts, there may well be further references to the sport on the blog. Especially with the Ashes coming up. I don't think there are any in today's Ponyfic Roundup reviews, though. I suppose I may have put one in there without knowing, so do let me know if so. Okay, four fics to look at this time, and they are:

Dreaming with Ponies by ROBCakeran53
Fire Burns Both Ways by Impossible Numbers
Rewashed by DrakeyC
Luna's Coffee by Freedom

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

Monday, 15 July 2019

Cricket and other updates

First, cricket: England are World Champions! This is the first time we've ever won the men's World Cup (the women's team are the current holders) and it was an absolutely thrilling match. I watched pretty much all of it on TV, and I was absolutely drained by the end. England and New Zealand were absolutely evenly matched, and we were frankly a bit fortunate. But I'll take it! The tennis wasn't exactly boring, either, though that sport does rank a bit below cricket in my affections.

In actual My Little Pony news, your host here has actually done some damn writing for once. I really am out of practice, and things aren't flowing in the way they did a few years ago, but if I can just get back to writing at least a little something every day then maybe I can haul myself back up to where I used to be. I won't go into great deal here about exactly what I've been writing, as I'd like to save that for a separate post at some point. You can always wander over to Fimfiction and see for yourself.

On which note, The Danger Within remains "On Hiatus" rather than "Cancelled", and that's a deliberate decision. Every so often I consider that status, and each time I decide that I'd be sad to abandon the story entirely. Similarly, a story I've had in mind since late Season 7 remains on my to-do list – and unlike some other things on that list, I expect that eventually it will actually get done. Finally, you may start to see me writing for the Flashfic 150 prompts again. Obviously as the judge I can't win, but I'd be doing it for fun.

Just three weeks until the (US) hiatus ends and we embark on the last leg of the Friendship is Magic ride we will ever have – at least as far as official TV episodes are concerned. Hardly a startling or original thing to say, but I do hope the show will go out on a high.

Saturday, 13 July 2019

Another heads-up!

Apparently episodes up to 18, and possibly 19 (I'm not sure about that one) are now floating around the internet thanks to Chinese TV. So far I've managed to stay completely ignorant of the contents of anything past episode 14, and with a fairly short US hiatus this season I'm keeping hooves crossed that it stays that way. At any rate, give your spoiler shields another check-over!

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Ponyfic Roundup 256

Read it Later story count: 250 (nc)

And it's back! Yes, Hearth's Warming Eve Ponyfic Roundup is here once again. My arm is hurting for no apparent reason, so I'm not going to waffle as much as usual. (*sounds of cheering*) Here are today's three fics:

The Starlit Promise by Lucky Dreams
A Special Offer From Shutterfly! by Estee
Odd Jobs by GravityDefyingCoffeeMug

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

Monday, 8 July 2019

Sounds of 2012: Nos. 100 to 96

It's taken a while, but here we are at long last! To refresh your memories, in the "Sounds of..." series, I go through the Everfree Radio Top 100 for that year and feature each song along with a paragraph of text and (if relevant) where you can buy a high-quality version of the track. Well, I say each song, but there are certain exceptions. For the 2012 edition, I've come up with four rules to guide whether a song is included. You can read about them in full in my earlier post, but in brief:

Rule 1: Still available in some form direct from the artist
Rule 2: Available from a third party, with reason to believe the artist is fine with this
Rule 3: So famous that it would be plain silly to leave it out
Rule 4: Being unlisted is not, on its own, grounds for exclusion

Since I joined the My Little Pony fandom in the spring of 2012, I'm expecting quite a few nostalgia hits this time around. The songs I'll feature in this first post, with artist name listed before song title as in the 2011 series, are as follows:

100: Twitch vs. Pinkie Pie – Welcome
99: Sim Gretina – Equestria Girls
98: Awkward Marina – Deejay Just Like Me
97: Foozogz – ,​~​*​Smile​!​*​~​, (Rmx VIP)
96: Aviators – The Real Me

Come past the cut for the songs themselves, plus some more details!

Saturday, 6 July 2019

Beware, beware, you Pony folk – these early releases are not a joke!

I think we all knew this was coming... according to Littleshy, Chinese TV is continuing with its broadcasts of the second half of Friendship is Magic Season 9. They're already up to episode 16 and show no signs of stopping. This means we probably need to steel ourselves for the series finale being available in the wild long before its Discovery Family premiere. And that in turn means that the likelihood of unmarked spoilers is going to go through the roof.

As far as Louder Yay goes, I will do my level best to avoid these spoilers and to stop them appearing on this blog. I intend to keep episode reviews (and Text Review Roundup) running on the DF schedule. I'd like to request your help in this: if you watch a Chinese release then please don't say anything about it in the comments here, however great (or terrible) you think it was. Ideally, don't even say whether or not you liked it. You can do that once the US air date arrives.

Thank you!

Friday, 5 July 2019

Text Review Roundup: Rainbow Roadtrip

You'll have noticed that I've skipped Ponyfic Roundup this week. This is to allow me to catch up with reviews of Rainbow Roadtrip and "Sunset's Backstage Pass" (the latter is likely to appear here on Monday). The Cloptimist points out that the EqG special hasn't aired in the US yet, so in fact that will wait. Either way, I'll be returning to fanfic next Wednesday instead. And now this:

Yes, it's Text Review Roundup time. Quite a few of the regular text-based reviewers didn't write up their thoughts for this one, but enough did to make a TRR worthwhile. It's fair to say that nobody listed here was exactly blown away by Rainbow Roadtrip, although the balance of opinion was on the positive side of neutral. The slow pacing was a common complaint (with the notable exception of DrakeyC) but the character moments were more appreciated.

Dark Qiviut – broadly positive ("way too long [to get going] and the lack of humor makes this plot develop bland and way too simple [plus] songs aren't the best [but] Everyone's in character [and it's] so wholesome [...] charming, heartfelt, and warm [...] a very pleasant surprise")

DrakeyC – positive ("a fun little thing [...] felt kinda like a Gen 1 adventure [...] intro song was fine, the mayor's song was awful, last song was fine. Ending was FEELS CENTRAL [...] basically an hour-long episode, but it was a very good episode [...] didn't feel padded or dragged to fill its run time")

JDPrime22 – positive (rated 9/10; "a pleasant surprise! [...] Though the animation isn't as smooth as the movie, it's still welcome nonetheless [...] music was also top-notch [but the special] tends to drag on a bit")

Louder Yay – fairly positive (rated 3/5; "A very good, Pony-appropriate moral [with] Some nicely varied guest characters [and] Attractive animation [but] Pedestrian pacing [and] Songs a notch below the show's best")

Mike Cartoon Pony – broadly positive ("special might be a bit of a misnomer [and it's] indecently long [but it] meets its simple but nuanced goals really, really well [and has] writing with no lapses or inconsistencies that acquits itself and its characters really well")

MLEEP Reviews – largely positive (rated 8/10; "a very slow burn [and] may be targeted for a much younger audience [than the 2017 film, but] I am so glad to see that [Kerfuffle] being an amputee wasn't made into a big deal [...] a sweet but fun story with some beautiful animation and memorable new characters")

Present Perfect – mixed ("seeing the squishy ToonBoom animation on the small screen [...] was weird [...] heavily G3-inspired [...] pretty much every pony introduced in this special is the best pony ever. Except Barley and Pickle [... the Mayor's song was] a really good song, oh my god [...] the plot was pretty dull overall")

The Railfan Brony – negative (rated Bad; "doesn't even feel at all like a special [...] just drags on [...] The theme about helping others does work out, however [but the special] felt as colorless as Hope Hollow [despite some good character moments]")

TheDragonWarlock – broadly negative (rated 5/10; "Although the characters, new and Mane 6, end up being well written, has a solid premise, and some world building, it can't save the special with its abysmal pacing, lack of comedy, and plot holes making it end up as gray and dull as Hope Hollow itself")

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

FiM special review: Rainbow Roadtrip

I'm aware that episode 14 was released early in China. I haven't seen it, so please don't say anything about it in the comments. Thank you!

"And the winner of Most Awesome Cyan Pegasus is..."
For only the second time in Friendship is Magic's history, we have a special outside the show's regular seasons. This latest one was a little different from last year's "Best Gift Ever", however. While that was simply a double-length episode animated in Flash, Rainbow Roadtrip was by all accounts a cut-down version of what Movie 2 might have been. It didn't have the series' opening credits, it was 60 minutes long – and it was animated in Toon Boom Harmony by Boulder Media rather than DHX.

If Rainbow Roadtrip had been announced this time last year, I suspect the reveal of Kim Beyer-Johnson as its writer might have caused some serious disquiet. At the time, she was known only for the widely panned "Non-Compete Clause". However, with Beyer-Johnson having at least partially redeemed herself with the considerably superior "Sweet and Smoky" a few weeks ago, I went into Rainbow Roadtrip with a reasonable amount of optimism. And as things turned out...