Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Ponyfic Roundup 134: Amethyst Star Edition

Read it Later story count: 496 (+6)

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

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

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

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Audio: Logan reviews My Little Pony Season Six

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

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

Monday, 28 November 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, 27 November 2016

"Welcome to the Show" hits 100 million views!

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

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

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Now that's a follower collection!

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

Friday, 25 November 2016

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

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

Thursday, 24 November 2016

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

YouTube message stating that UMG has blocked the video

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

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

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Ponyfic Roundup 133: Fruit Edition

Read it Later story count: 490 (-4)

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

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

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

Monday, 21 November 2016

Pony Music Library 31: "Smile"

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

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

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

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

Which? Show song

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

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

Saturday, 19 November 2016

So, about that future Ponyfic Roundup theme

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

Friday, 18 November 2016

Suggest a Ponyfic Roundup theme!

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

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

Let's have those ideas! :)

Thursday, 17 November 2016

UK PonyCon 2016 -- official feedback is open!

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

Here's the link to the feedback form.

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

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Ponyfic Roundup 132: Rainbow Dash Edition

Read it Later story count: 494 (-1)

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

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

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

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

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

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

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

Monday, 14 November 2016

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

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Pony Music Library 30: "Smell the Roses"

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

What? "Smell the Roses"

Who? 4everfreebrony

Which? Original song

When? November 2016

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

Thursday, 10 November 2016

UK of Equestria's overall S6 ranking list

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

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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

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

Read it Later story count: 495 (+2)

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

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

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

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

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

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

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Remember this?

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

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

Friday, 4 November 2016

Pony Music Library 29: "My Arms Around Her"

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

What? "My Arms Around Her"

Who? UnderpΩny

Which? Original song based on sample from show

When? March 2012

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

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Text Review Roundup: Legend of Everfree

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

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

Read it Later story count: 493

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

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

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

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

Title image: a bowl of custard

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

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

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

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

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

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