Sunday, 25 June 2017

Can you help support the Big Master Review List?

I'm hoping to get episode 12's review posted before the next Ponyfic Roundup on Wednesday. It's taken me a little longer than I'd hoped, for which apologies, but it is in the works! Now, back to the main subject of this post...

What's the Big Master Review List? Only the most useful ponyfic reviews database (well, spreadsheet) in existence. It's maintained by Singularity Dream, aka the City of Doors guy – who wonders whether anyone would be prepared to make a little financial donation to support his work. If only I weren't stupidly tight for cash right now, I'd be doing so. (More hefty bills coming up, sadly.) However, I can at least give SD and the BMRL a signal boost here. So, if you're willing and able to help, here's the blog post where you'll find more information.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Fimfiction now has a Patreon

And here's the proof. There are four levels of patronage (Patreonage?) available, which are as follows, along with their minimum monthly cost:

  • Fimfictioneer ($1)
  • Bronze ($5)
  • Silver ($10)
  • Gold ($20)

All the above tiers get you "access to special Discord channel" and a badge beneath your name on Fimfiction comments, while Bronze and above also remove ads from the site. The Silver and Gold tiers don't get you any further benefits beyond a more expensively coloured badge – and a feeling of intense smugness, I suppose. :P

It's no secret that I really dislike auto-recurring subscriptions and try to avoid them whenever possible. "Only a little per month" can mount up rather terrifyingly if you support a few things at once, and given my cashflow situation right now, I'm not going to rush into this one. I don't have the tiniest interest in Discord channels either. That said, Fimfiction is one of the very few fandom causes I might consider supporting in this way.

What I'll probably do is see how things go for a bit first. What matters most is that the site doesn't start discriminating against free users, either explicitly or in a more insidious way. I've seen that happen on other sites and it's very often the beginning of the end for a decent community.* I'm hopeful Fimfiction won't go down that road, though.

As I type this (late Friday evening UK time) a little over 100 people have signed up. The Bronze tier is by some distance the most popular, followed by Fimfictioneer, Gold and Silver in that order. It'll be interesting to see whether that number keeps going up, or whether most of those who'd be most enthusiastic have already signed up.

Also: couldn't you guys have done this when a pound was worth $2.00 rather than $1.27? :P

* On this note: I will never select stories for Ponyfic Roundup review based on their authors' Fimfiction Patreon status. This is a promise.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Staying at the Bristol Parkway Holiday Inn for UK PonyCon? READ THIS NOW

This is important

 If you are going to UK PonyCon and have booked a room at the Holiday Inn at Bristol Parkway (I think this is the Express hotel) then please check your bank records immediately. According to sarahthrel, a member of the con committee, a member of staff there has been arrested on suspicion of stealing credit/debit card details and using them fraudulently.

If you find suspicious activity on your bank statements, first of all report it to your bank. Then, please get in touch privately with the con committee (contact details here) to help the police investigation and get your case logged. The hotel management have dealt with their end of things, so you shouldn't need to contact them specifically.

It appears that no other hotels are involved, and that this only applies to bookings made before 10th June.

Please help to spread the word, so that anyone who may be affected knows as soon as possible.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Ponyfic Roundup 162: It Really Doesn't Matter if it's Raining or it's Fine

I'll be reviewing episodes 12 and (if it airs) 13 in the near future, but I can't currently give a firm date. Anyway, as I type this, southern Britain is in the grip of its longest June heatwave since 1995, so please excuse me if I make more mistakes than usual. As ever, I'd be grateful for them to be pointed out!

Read it Later story count: 429 (-11)

I said last week there'd be both a story and an author with "Horse" in their names. Well, I got the story. However, a fic I thought was written by Pale Horse turns out be by Ruirik. Apologies to both authors! An error on my part when I was updating my Calibre ponyfic database, I suppose. I managed to get through a small number of fics this week, and these are they:

The Skin Horse by Obselescence
The Regular by Ruirik
Opinions by All Art Is Quite Useless
Mother's Day by MajesticPoniesEverywhere

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

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

40 hours to go in June's Flashfic 150 contest

As I type this, there haven't been as many entries for this month's Flashfic 150 contest as in May. It's true that the last two editions have seen quite a few submissions close to the deadline, but who knows what will happen this time round? The prompt (suggested by PostNinja, the May winner) is Wouldn't be caught dead and the entry thread, including a link to the full rules, is right here. If you have a Fimfiction account and can keep to an E/T rating, you're welcome to join us!

Monday, 19 June 2017

There is no moral imperative for fans to follow creators to pastures new

Over the last year or two, as an increasing number of creators who got their break in the My Little Pony fandom move on either to other fandoms or to wholly original work, I've noticed a rather odd attitude start to take hold, only from a few people it's true but in one or two cases including some quite loud voices. This being that fans who don't wish to follow those creators are somehow letting the side down.

This is a silly attitude.

Look, I write pony fanfiction. I'm no genius, but I do have a few regulars who read most of what I publish. I'm grateful to them. But if I announced tomorrow that I wanted to switch fandoms, or to strike out into original fiction instead, with the same general style but minus the framework of the Equestrian world, I'm pretty sure that at least some of those regulars would lose interest.

There is nothing wrong with that.

As well as being an author of ponyfic, I'm also a reader. And the fact is that a considerable part of my enjoyment comes specifically from the use of the MLP setting. Even the very best authors in the fandom, those who could truly make it as pro original fiction writers – and in a few cases already have – wouldn't have the same interest for me if they stopped writing pony.

Of course, I don't only read ponyfic. And also of course, I know I'm unlikely to be this committed forever, and that the base of good ponyfic writers is likely to continue to shrink as the fandom does likewise. But expecting me to continue to read Cold in Gardez's work if for some reason he started writing fics about Pokémon instead... well, no.

If you like a soft-pop musician who later starts making mathcore, nobody assumes you're somehow letting the side down if you don't continue to listen to that artist's new music. I don't understand the notion that creators deserve loyalty even if they totally change their scene. No, they don't. Artists have the right to go somewhere new; fans have the right not to follow them.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Pony Music Library 43: "In Our Town"

About time we had another PML entry! This time, it's a song from the show itself – and from one of my favourite episodes, too. And yes, that thumbnail is correct; for some reason Hasbro think this fits as part of a party playlist. Insert your preferred Communist Party joke here...

What? "In Our Town"

Who? Daniel Ingram; Caleb Chan (orchestration)

Which? Show song

When? April 2015

Why? "In Our Town" is under two and a half minutes long, but to my mind it's one of the finest songs Daniel Ingram's come up with in the last three years. Inspired by World War Two propaganda songs, this is pre-reformation Starlight Glimmer's attempt to demonstrate the rightness of her twisted vision for Our Town. It's catchy, it's upbeat – and it's terrifying. "You can't have a nightmare if you never dream" is one of the most memorable lines in any song, not just an MLP song. "In Our Town" is unlike anything else in the series, fitting for an episode that also stands out from the crowd. Sorry, Evil!Glimmy, but the one thing this song isn't is the same as all the others!

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Ponyfic Roundup 161: Spotlight on One in a Million

Read it Later story count: 440 (-2)

One in a Million by ocalhoun
Scootaloo, OCs, Twilight, Rainbow Dash and CMC
Drama; 54k words; Dec 2013; Everyone
Scootaloo finally finds her special talent. It's the worst week of her life.
Scoot discovers that she can teleport, and an astonished Twilight pulls strings to get her into Princess Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns. Unfortunately for the filly, she's confronted by racist teachers, a bullying room-mate and her own feelings of unbelonging. This is basically a boarding school story, albeit on a much shorter timescale than the Harry Potters of this world. Scootaloo herself is quite nicely drawn, and I do celebrate her little triumphs and commiserate with her when she fails. My problems with the fic are twofold: one, that just about everypony in authority is appalling. It gets a bit wearing after a while. And two, that a major secondary character's dialogue is written in a thick dialect I find tremendously annoying; it's much worse than Applejack's "ah-speak". If you can slog through that, though, and if you can accept Scoot's eventual destiny (which I just about can), Best Filly's own strength of character makes this fic worth the read. ★★★

Come past the break with me for a more detailed, and spoiler-filled, look at some aspects of the story that caught my attention.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Star ratings restored for Ponyfic Roundup

For the most recent Ponyfic Roundup, I experimented with not having star ratings. The weight of feedback was heavily in favour of having the ratings, and as such I have decided to go back to the way I've been doing things for ages. Star ratings have also been retrospectively awarded for the four fics I reviewed then. Happily, it was a good week! I've added them to the Ponyfic Roundup post, but for convenience here's a summary:

Cleave by BlazzingInferno ★★★★
A Sheep in Wolf's Clothing by Pascoite ★★★★
In Memory Of by Obselescence ★★★★
What They Don't Know by SoundoftheWaves ★★★

Sunday, 11 June 2017

In the national interest

Text: "Gogglesprogs review – after much debate, Aquaman is the people's choice for PM"
Given the confused result of the general election, I can certainly get behind asking a noted author of My Little Pony fanfiction to govern the United Kingdom. The guy's studied in the UK after all, so would probably pass as a genuine British human being more easily than, say, Theresa May. Of course, I'm happy for the Cabinet to consist of various other ponyfic writers, noted or otherwise. As long as I get to be Secretary of State for Scootaloo, since that's nicely alliterative.

Okay, okay, it's a TV review from the Guardian.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Ponyfic Roundup 160: An Optimist who Carries a Raincoat

General election day here in the UK. I shall of course go out and vote – I always do – but the national result seems a bit of a foregone conclusion. As I'm not a Tory, I'm not entirely thrilled with this. Still, life and Pony go on, so off we go.

Read it Later story count: 442 (-5)

Four more stories this week, but you may notice a small but significant change in the reviewing format. This isn't an accident. It's an experiment for now, so it's possible I may restore the old format in the future.* Also, I keep looking in the wrong place for character tags on Fimfiction now they've moved! I'll get used to it, probably. And there are definitely four stories under review this week:

Cleave by BlazzingInferno
A Sheep in Wolf's Clothing by Pascoite
In Memory Of by Obselescence
What They Don't Know by SoundoftheWaves

(Update 12 June: Following feedback, I have restored the star ratings!)

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

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

UK PonyCon ticket situation update!

Ponyfic Roundup has been delayed until tomorrow, since this needs to be mentioned now.

The UK PonyCon folks have made this announcement about their ticket sales. In brief:

Sunday and Stallholder tickets remain on sale as before. You can go and buy these right now.

Weekend and Saturday tickets are on hold pending the con committee making a further visit to the venue, hopefully in the nearish future. Once that's been done, there may (operative word!) be additional tickets released.

The reason for this is quite simple: some ticket types have been selling extremely well! I'm not entirely surprised by this – last year's con sold out in July, and that was in a year with BUCK too. It certainly demonstrates that demand for MLP events in the UK is still very strong if the event in question has a good enough reputation.

Please do not buy UKPC tickets from third parties! Any third parties. They do not have the right to sell said tickets, since they are not transferable. Please don't be tempted into buying one, since you're liable to find yourself refused entry at the con registration desk!

If you'd like to attend UK PonyCon this year but don't yet have a ticket, and assuming you're not planning on being a vendor, you have two legitimate choices: either buy a Sunday ticket or wait and see what happens with the other types.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Train travel in ponyfic – or the lack of it

Something that occurred to me recently was that there isn't much detailed treatment of train travel in ponyfic. There are exceptions, such as The Descendant's superb The Railway Ponies: Highball, but not that many. When you consider that rail is the basic way for ponies not otherwise equipped to travel long distances in Equestria, that seemed a little surprising. I wondered why it was so.

One possibility I can suggest is that most ponyfic is written by Americans, whose personal experience of train travel isn't entirely relevant to Pony. With a few exceptions, passenger railways in the US are commuter lines in densely populated cities. With the possible exception of Manehattan, Equestrian railways are all about inter-city travel. (Okay, not always between cities, but you get the idea.)

This fits with the show's vaguely 1900-era technology (again, outside Manehattan) since back then railways were the way to go cross-country in America. They aren't now: Las Vegas, a city of two million people, has, unless you count a limited monorail service, no passenger trains at all. In Europe, however, inter-city railways remain heavily used, and are familiar to hundreds of millions of people.

If you've only ever been on a train on holiday, especially a super-luxury cruising train, your experience perhaps hasn't been very close to the "Come on girls, we need to get to Canterlot!" experience of Equestrian ponies. Unless you're actually a rail enthusiast (like the aforementioned TD) it's probably going to be quite difficult to appreciate the rhythms of that type of train trip.

This isn't a very developed theory. I just thought I'd throw it out there and see what people made of it.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Mild amusement

A couple of months back, my little story Like a Flower to the World got reviewed by a moderately prominent review group on Fimfiction. It was absolutely savaged, with the final verdict being "28/100 Avoid". That was the point at which it picked up its first downvote, I assume from its reviewer. I was, as you can imagine, more than a little disappointed with that rating – it's not an amazing story by any means, but I don't think it's that bad. But hey, everyone has a right to an opinion on a story. I'd be pretty hypocritical if I didn't believe that!

The thing is, since that happened, Flower has picked up 50-60 views – not negligible for a story with under 200 at the time of review! – and its thumbscore has gone from +26/-1 to +30/-1. I can only conclude that all publicity really is good publicity. Or that reviewers' opinions count for nothing, but that's too scary a thought for me to deal with. ;)

Thursday, 1 June 2017

UK PonyCon 2017 – places to eat

The out-of-town location of UK PonyCon this year means there aren't nearly as many options for refreshments as when the convention's been held in a city centre. This is not an event at which you'll have dozens of restaurants, pubs and cafés within a few minutes' walk. However, there's no need to starve! I've found a number of places to obtain food, and here they are.

Hours are given in the format (Saturday / Sunday). The linked distances go to a Google Maps page with directions to the establishment in question.

At the venue

There are two options in the UWE itself:
  • Café (9am–7pm / 9am–4pm)
  • Bar (midday–10.30pm / midday–5pm)

I have no idea how good the café is, but if it's even halfway decent (read: stocks muffins!) and not stupidly expensive, I do recommend eating there at least some of the time. First, it supports the venue, which is always a nice thing to do. Second, it'll be full of con attendees, which will give it a special flavour.

However, this won't be an option for breakfast, late night Saturday or any post-con meals on Sunday. You may also feel that you need a brief change of scene to get you through two packed days. I know I have done at times. As such, some possible alternatives follow.

Unlike some other convention venues, the UWE does allow you to take your own cold food and soft drinks in. No hot food or drinks and definitely no alcohol! Obviously, if you choose to bring food in, don't then go wandering round the vendor stalls with mayonnaise or chocolate all over your hands...

Abbey Wood Shopping Park

This retail park (0.7 miles) has a number of places where you can get a snack or a meal:
  • Asda (supermarket open midnight–10pm / 10am–4pm; café hours unknown) 
  • Bella Italia (9am–11pm / 9am–10pm)
  • Costa (8am–8pm / 9am–6pm)
  • Frankie & Benny's (9am–11pm / 9am–10.30pm)
  • McDonald's (24 hours / 24 hours)
  • Nando's (11am–10pm / 11.30am–10pm)
  • Subway (8am–9pm / 8am–7pm)

Other supermarket

Although not at Abbey Wood, there is one other supermarket with a café that's almost the same distance from the con venue. It is:
  • Sainsbury's (7.30am–7pm / 9.30am–3.30pm) in Fox Den Road (0.6 miles)

Local pub

Yes, singular I'm afraid. There is precisely one pub within a mile of the con venue, weird for an area full of students but there it is. I suppose they must all drink at the Students' Union. That one pub is not the cheapest, with the average main course costing £10–£12, but for those interested:
  • The Fox Den (midday–11pm / midday–10.30pm) (0.7 miles)

Hotel bars

The Holiday Inn bars are open to non-residents. These are as follows:
  • HI Express Bristol North (hours unknown) (0.7 miles)
  • HI Bristol Filton (hours unknown) (0.8 miles)

And that's the lot! Well, I think so, anyway. Let me know if I need to make any corrections. And no, your eyes are not deceiving you: all the options are pretty much the same distance from the UWE! If you happen to know of anywhere else to eat within a mile of the convention venue, then please tell me and I'll add it to the list. :)

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Ponyfic Roundup 159: It was Twenty Years Ago Today

Read it Later story count: 447 (+3)

Okay, I'm 30 years and a few days late on the release date, but never mind. :P This week, by dint of some supreme effort and nice enough weather to read in the garden occasionally, I've managed to get through a whole four stories. Go me. Here they are:

The Old Guard by Visiden Visidane
Gods-In-Law by Pearple Prose
The Princess and the Knight by GlaciesFrost
The Call by RealCrimsonBlade

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

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Pony Music Library 42: "Hay Ms Derpy"

Now that we're heading into a hiatus of unknown length, it seems a good time to revive the PML. Something that's really rather special to me now. Not because of its subject matter, but because of when it appeared. Read on for more on that...

What? "Hay Ms Derpy"

Who? Forest Rain

Which? Parody

When? April 2012

Why? This song appeared at pretty much exactly the time I joined the fandom. It was one of the first fan-made ponysongs I ever heard, and certainly the first by Forest Rain. It's less well known than her "Great to be Different" (PML 4), but right from the gentle piano opening through its upbeat, cheery body it's just about perfect for its subject. Although often seen as an original song, it's clearly heavily inspired by "Hey There Delilah" by Plain White T's, so I'm classing it here as a parody. I wish Forest Rain had acknowledged that from the start, but the song itself is still lovely. Bear in mind that, when "Hay Ms Derpy" was released, the unhappiness of Derpygate was less than three months in the past. So a cute, fun, upbeat song about the muffin mare was all too welcome.

Friday, 26 May 2017

May's Flashfic 150 is over

The second Flashfic 150 contest brought 18 entries, the same number as April's inaugural edition. Pascoite's pick as prompt, "Laugh so you don't cry", produced a decent variety of interpretations, which is pleasing. My pick as winning author, PostNinja, said they'd never entered anything like this before – which just goes to show! If you're reading this and are interested in entering, the next contest will begin on 1st June. The prompt is not yet decided, as PostNinja's "prize" is the ability to decide that.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Episode review: S7E11: "Not Asking for Trouble"

Gummy, Pinkie and Prince Rutherford in the snow
It strikes me that, in just three days' time, those of us on the Canadian schedule will be halfway through Season Seven. It's going by so fast! Still, the only way I could avoid that would be to move to the US schedule, and for a variety of reasons I'm not going to. So, episode 11. We had yet another new writer in May Chan, about whom I know nothing. After the break, a short review. I just don't have much to say about this ep.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Ponyfic Roundup 158: Run With Us

Read it Later story count: 444 (nc)

Another lightweight edition of PR today, I'm afraid. It's actually even lighter than I was expecting; I was planning to read at least one more fic, but then Manchester happened and I just didn't feel like it any more. The story in question should be in next week's batch, though. A mere three fics to look at this time, as follows:

A Light in Dark Places by Lucky Dreams
My Little Introvert: Being Home is Magic(al) by Rossby Waves
The Call by RealCrimsonBlade

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

Monday, 22 May 2017

Episode review: S7E10: "A Royal Problem"

Celestia shows Luna a pancake with a smiley face on
New headcanon: Equestria has pancakes instead of emoji
The synopsis for this one looked pretty intriguing: a Royal Sisters episode at last, but one with added Starlight. Since I'm in the "quite likes Glimmy" camp, this didn't put me off, but I was still a little anxious about whether the writers could make it work. In this case, said writers were Joanna Lewis and Kristine Songco themselves, which boded reasonably well. Past the break for my take!

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Comic mini-review: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #53

All very meta. I do like the design, though
And at last it's time to review the final part of the Shadow Lock arc! My usual supplier for some reason didn't stock #53, and so I had to get it electronically this time. (I'll pick up a paper copy in due course.) As with Asmus's previous issues, there's a sense that he's got the basics but doesn't quite have the ponies' characters down pat. (Fluttershy, for one.) On the plus side, there's what looks like foreshadowing – and given that we've been told this arc ties into the show's plot, I'm intrigued! The interior art credit, I've noticed, is now "Tony Fleecs and Garage Art Studio". Oh, and we get "kick your haunches" this time to add to the flanks, rumps and tails used in the past! All in all, a fairly enjoyable comic once again. This arc hasn't been a classic, but it's been entertaining. ★★★

Saturday, 20 May 2017

More on UK PonyCon 2017!

At the end of last month, I published a very short post about this year's UK PonyCon. Since I have a lot of time for this convention, and all being well will be attending for the fourth year in a row, I'd like to give it a bit more publicity now. So, here are some of the key details, as well as my thoughts on a few of them:

Dates: Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd October

This wasn't any surprise, as they're basically the same as last year's dates. They're at the beginning of the school half-term holiday, which makes sense. This is about as late in the year as I'd want the con to be – I wouldn't like to have it after the clocks go back, or even worse over the weekend when times change! But these dates seem fine and give us plenty of time to save up.

Venue: UWE Exhibition and Conference Centre, Bristol

Bristol seems like a very good choice for host city. It's a good way from the places that have hosted UKPC for the last few years, for one thing. In an ideal world I'd have preferred a city centre venue to this out-of-town one, but I suspect that anywhere big enough would have blown a big hole in the con's budget; Bristol is not a particularly cheap place. So I'll take this.

Road links are pretty good (close to M4/M5/M32) and rail links are acceptable – the nearest major station (Bristol Parkway) is 25 minutes' walk away. As the con's in university termtime, there's a 24/7 bus service to the city centre, which makes it viable for non-drivers to stay there and still stick around at the convention until the end of the schedule late on Saturday evening.

Hotels aren't quite as convenient as in recent years. There's no hotel on site or just over the road, which sadly has meant one very popular fursuiter having to pass on UKPC this year. There are a few within walking distance, though, plus the various establishments in the city centre. As mentioned a minute ago, Bristol is not that cheap, so best to make reservations soon!

Food doesn't look like being a problem: the on-site café will be open until late afternoon, at least, and there's a bar too. Also, luxury of luxuries, you can take your own food in! Cold food and soft drinks only, but that's no hardship. BUCK's venues were almost hilariously fussy about even bottles of water. Saturday evening could be tricky, but there's a retail park 12 minutes' walk away.

Theme: Wild West

This was actually announced well before everything else, and it's proving to be a popular choice. Not only with Applejack fans. ;) Given that the con is being held at the University of the West of England, it seems a very appropriate choice, too! Doubtless there will be the usual fine cosplays, lots of singing ("Raise This Barn" looks a certainty) and if we're really lucky, some cider at the bar too!

Tickets and prices

The stock of 35 VIP tickets sold out in six hours(!) but for the sake of completeness: these cost £89 and bought you early entry on both days, priority seating, a goodie bag including a VIP-exclusive print and the con-exclusive plushie. I strongly suspect that it's guaranteed access to that plushie that's driven many people to buy this level of ticket!

A Standard Adult Weekend pass is £30/£35 this year; the £5 Early Bird discount applies until 3rd June. This is a small increase on last year's price (I paid £27 for my EB ticket in 2016) but it's still perfectly reasonable. UK PonyCon has an excellent reputation for offering value for money, and it's great to see them continuing to keep their prices moderate.

An innovation this year is the Supporter tier, which costs an extra tenner – so the weekend pass is £40/£45. This includes a £5 donation to con charity the RDA, a special button badge and your name in the con book. Any money left over goes to support the convention. I feel this is a nice idea, and indeed this is the type of ticket I've purchased for myself.

There are various other ticket options, for children (4-12), adults and families to get single-day or weekend access to the convention. They all seem good value, except perhaps the Family One-Day Supporter – £82 is a £40 jump on the equivalent Standard ticket; I think that's rather steep, especially as Family tickets have no EB discount.

Anyway, enough of my rambling. You'll have noticed I've said a lot more positive than negative things about UK PonyCon, and I would thoroughly encourage anyone reading who likes the idea of a family-friendly all-gens convention to attend. You can buy tickets for yourself by going to the link below:

UK PonyCon 2017's official ticket page

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Episode review: S7E09: "Honest Apple"

Rarity and Applejack meet Strawberry Sunrise
No mention of peaches...
Another new writer this time, in the person of Kevin Lappin. The synopsis for this episode seemed a little bit on the uninspired side. It felt like something that belonged in Seasons One or Two. That said, when an old-fashioned episode is done really well, I can enjoy it as much as anything else. "Buckball Season" is the best example from S6. As for "Honest Apple"... see after the break.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Ponyfic Roundup 157: Throw Yourself at the Ground and Miss

Read it Later story count: 444 (+1)

As I expected, I just haven't had much time for reading ponyfic in the last week. Also, one story I did read and intended to review here (Fangs by Fluttashift) seems to have been deleted. Here's what I have got for you this time round:

Two Peas in a Pod by Blueshift
I Can Wait by Eakin
Never Judge A Book By Its Cover by LightStriker
Pioneer by OleGrayMane

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

Monday, 15 May 2017

Episode review: S7E08: "Hard to Say Anything"

One of my favourite books of all time is Heroes & History by Rosemary Sutcliff, a book for young people about ten British heroes from Caratacus to Montrose. It was published in 1965, so some of its research is now out of date, but I don't read it for that. I read it for stuff like this, from the chapter on Alfred:
On the crest of the High Downs, a lone ancient thorn tree reached gaunt arms to the sky, and all about it the battle raged, over the hound-tawny turf made treacherous by the winter wet, still more treacherous as time went by, with the slipperiness of blood.
Isn't that great? Sutcliff clearly liked it, since she reused "hound-tawny turf" in her novel Sun Horse, Moon Horse. And even when I haven't read Heroes & History for ages, I remain almost word-perfect on that passage. Anyway, back to ponies we go.

Close up of Big Mac making a kissy face
I don't know about you, but I'd file this under Nightmare Fuel
We get another new writer for this episode in the shape of Becky Wangberg. Her IMDb profile tells me that she's previously written for a few other shows, most notably The Fairly Odd Parents. I have to admit that the synopsis for this episode wasn't one that filled me with excitement, but would I feel the same way after viewing? A rather short review follows after the break!

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Comic mini-review: Legends of Magic #1

Sub cover of MLP Legends of Magic #1, showing the Mane Six looking at cave paintings resembling G3 ponies
Zachary Sterling's cover was, of course, unmissable!
Good grief, I'm getting behind with these comic reviews. I haven't forgotten about main-series #53, but for now it's the first issue in the Legends of Magic series. I'm pleased to say that the Whitley/Hickey/Breckel team have got it off to a strong start. Apart from a rather irritating portrayal of young Celestia – thankfully modified later – this look into the past is great. Starswirl (who seems to have gone back to having a one-word name) is quite a lot of fun and the artwork is varied and colourful, too. For that, and the look we get into the Royal Sisters' relationship pre-Nightmare Moon, this is well worth picking up. ★★★★

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Episode review: S7E07: "Parental Glideance"

Scootaloo winking, wearing a camera around her neck
Scootaloo is Scootaloo-er than ever before in this episode
Another day, another episode. I think I can keep up with the Canadian schedule reasonably well, so I'm going to continue with my plan to post two reviews a week. This time around, we had a newcomer to the writing staff: Josh Hamilton, whose previous credits include episodes of Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra. After my disappointment with "Forever Filly", would the 150th episode of the show deliver something more?

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Ponyfic Roundup 156: Scribblefest Edition

What with the double episode releases and various other things, I'm likely to be very busy for a while, so expect Ponyfic Roundup to be light on stories some weeks. I'll try my best not to miss any weeks entirely, but don't be surprised if sometimes I don't get half a dozen fics reviewed.

Read it Later story count: 443 (+1)

For the second week in succession, it's a contest edition of PR! There were actually six award-winning stories in the Everfree Northwest Scribblefest 2017 contest, one for each of the Mane Six, but only four are reviewed here. The Twilight Sparkle Award (for attention to detail) went to Ebon Quill's Slouching Towards Canterlot, which I reviewed in PR 150. The Rarity Award (for elegance in prose) went to The Book of Ended Lives, by some dreadful hack whose name I now can't remember. The other four winners were:

The Next Best Thing by Posh (Pinkie Pie Award, for comedy)
The Cycle of Flame by Novel-Idea (Rainbow Dash Award, for coolness)
Freedom Flourishes by The Hat Man (Fluttershy Award, for being heartwarming)
Nightmer Niht by Apple Bottoms (Applejack Award, for trueness to the show's spirit)

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

Monday, 8 May 2017

Episode Review: S7E06: "Forever Filly"

The May Flashfic 150 contest is now on! This month's prompt, chosen by April winner Pascoite, is "Laugh so you don't cry". Everyone with a Fimfiction account, regardless of experience, is welcome to join. :)

Sweetie Belle and Rarity watch a puppet show
"Actually, Rarity, I'm just annoyed you're hogging the popcorn"
I'm writing this review after the following episode has already gone out on Treehouse. This is starting to get confusing, and we're only a week into the new Canadian regime! Anyway, this ep was written by the Fox brothers, which wasn't really news to gladden my heart. We knew it would be a Rarity/Sweetie episode, like "Sisterhooves Social" back in S2, but would it be any good? Find out my thoughts after the break.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Not the Text Review Roundup

Sorry, folks, but there just doesn't seem any point. Out of all the eligible reviewers who wrote about episode four, precisely two have reviews up of "Fluttershy Leans In" – and one of those is me! The other is Thrond (who didn't like it), but all the others seem to be using the Discovery Family schedule for their reviews. I suppose I could do that with TRR, but it would mean the posts becoming way out of step with my own viewing. Right now, I'm not sure how motivated I really am to do something like that.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Text Review Roundup: "Rock Solid Friendship"

Voted in my county council elections yesterday. It did feel a bit odd doing so a month before a general election – the last time we had such a schedule was in 1983, long before I was old enough to vote.

"Rock Solid Friendship" is the last episode which everyone saw at roughly the same time. Treehouse seems to be continuing on its double-release path for the rest of time as long as it can. I don't think I can really justify waiting weeks, maybe months for the US schedule, so future TRRs may have to feature rather fewer reviewers even than this week's slightly meagre selection. :(

ArthurCrane – extremely positive ("It had Maud in it. 12/10")

Batbrony Reviews – slightly positive ("the first episode of Season 7 that was ... just good")

Derpy News – very positive (graded A-; Maud/Starlight great, Pinkie less so)

Louder Yay – positive (three stars; Pinkie stopped it being a four)

MLEEP Reviews – wildly positive (rated 10/10; "truly rocking")

Super Recaps – generally positive ("despite ... Pinkie Pie's portrayal, this is a really solid episode")

TheDragonWarlock – very positive (graded A-; another one who found Pinkie annoying)

Thrond Media Pony Corner – mixed (rated 60%; "moments of irritation kill the momentum")

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Episode review: S7E05: "Fluttershy Leans In"

Fluttershy getting angry
"An episode starring me and you write a short review? Why, I oughta..."
I've realised that I can't really keep up with doing two full episode reviews per week, so I'm going to have to cut them down a bit. It's a shame, but the only alternative would be to delay them and I don't want to do that. This one, being a Fluttersode, is still reasonably long, but others won't be. They still won't be as short as the mini-reviews I write about other stuff, but until the broadcast schedule slows down a bit I just won't have time to do a rambly piece each time. Sorry.

Anyway, G. M. Berrow made a return to writing duties for episode 5. The only previous ep she'd written was "The One Where Pinkie Pie Knows", which I thought was fairly enjoyable without being world-shaking in any way. This episode starred Fluttershy, though, so I was both nervous and excited about it. If only somepony had come up with a word for that... past the break for (a bit) more!

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Ponyfic Roundup 155: Imposing Sovereigns Edition

If EqD's reports are to be believed, Treehouse's Ponybomb will continue into June. I can't say I'm thrilled by this turn of events, but given that official UK releases will be even later than the US ones I'm probably not in the strongest position to moan. Oh well, fanfic time.

Read it Later story count: 442 (-5)

It just so happens that FanOfMostEverything gave nods to six stories in the results post for his Imposing Sovereigns competition, which is the ideal number for a Ponyfic Roundup! With that in mind, I'm going to take a look at the medallists and the three stories which received honourable mentions. They are as follows:

Evil is Easy, Governing is Harder by Aragon (winner)
Stay Determined by Czar_Yoshi (second)
Little Truths by EbonQuill (third)
Ember, Hoardsmelter by Bugsydore (hon mention)
An Apple a Day Keeps Autocracy Away by MrNumbers (hon mention)
The Honing of Perfection by Dafaddah (hon mention)

★: 0 | ★★: 0 | ★★★: 4 | ★★★★: 2 | ★★★★★: 0

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Comic mini-review: Friends Forever #38

MLP Friends Forever #38 sub cover showing Luna, Celestia and their pets
Can we please get Tiberius in the show?
The grand finale of the Friends Forever series was delayed for quite a while, and my review is even later! But here it is at last, with the Royal Sisters taking centre stage. Unusually, Andy Price wrote this comic as well as drawing it; he obviously likes writing as this is one of the wordiest comics in the series. Although the inclusion of Kibitz as a major supporting character explains this to an extent, I still think it goes a little far. The Princesses' pets, always fun, are particularly good value this time, while Rarity and Sweetie hark back to their "Sisterhooves Social" days as a contrast to Tia and Luna's bickering. There's also a nice Pinkie/fourth wall gag at the very end. It's a solid, entertaining way to round off Friends Forever, but that wordiness does drag it down just slightly. As such, a high three-star rating feels right. ★★★

Monday, 1 May 2017

Episode review: S7E04: "Rock Solid Friendship"

Now that we know Treehouse will be continuing its two-ep weekends all the way through May, it and Discovery Family will be five episodes out of sync by the end of the month. I therefore can't please both those who want quick reviews and those who want to stick with the US schedule. Neither option is perfect, but I think it likely that I'll do two shortish reviews each week rather than waiting ages. I will try to make sure nothing above the break is particularly spoilery, though. Celestia knows what I'll do about Text Review Roundup, but I'll think of something.

The Pie family at Maud's graduation
Limestone looks remarkably cheerful here...
Nick Confalone's episodes a mixed record with me. He wrote the excellent "The Saddle Row Review", but he was also responsible for the less-than-excellent "Party Pooped". He's never come up with an episode I've truly hated, though. Mind you, Maud episodes also have a mixed record with me, so how did this one measure up? Past the break, you'll find out!

Sunday, 30 April 2017

UK PonyCon details announced!

This is a very brief post as I don't have time for a longer one, but the essential details are that UK PonyCon 2017 will take place on 22-23 October at the Exhibition and Conference Centre of the UWE in Bristol. Tickets are not yet on sale, but will be released on Saturday 6 May. Here's hoping the convention enjoys another excellent iteration!

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Pony Music Library 41: "Someone Like Me"

Surprise! I haven't given up on the PML at all. I just haven't happened to have had a time when my being motivated to induct something coincides with the time I have to do so. Now I do, even if today's entry is one some of you will have been expecting me to post since the start...

What? "Someone Like Me"

Who? Aviators

Which? Original song

When? June 2013

Why? Oh, come on – who do you think's choosing these entries? A lovely ballad, set before the Mane Six become a thing. Fluttershy begins it with feelings of loneliness and frustration, but by the end she's both embraced her uniqueness and discovered true friendship. I'm a big Aviators fan anyway (what, you can tell?) but this is way up the list of his songs. It's gentle and warm and everything Fluttershy should be.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Text Review Roundup: "A Flurry of Emotions"

Flurry Heart hides from Twilight
I have to admit to finding this particular shot adorable
Thank goodness it's a one-episode week this time! I suppose I'd better enjoy this relative peace, given what's coming up in the way of early Canadian releases. :P I can't find a review by Cuddlepug this time; there also isn't one by Thrond Media Pony Corner, or at least wasn't when I was writing this last night. On the plus side, the Super Mario blog has updated in time for TRR this week. (To bring you up to speed: they felt E01 was "incredible" but E02 was "meh".) Back to the Flurrysode!

ArthurCrane – mixed (has its moments and is quite cute, but "just doesn't have the same appeal" [as "Baby Cakes"])

Batbrony Reviews – extremely positive ("this episode was a blast ... immensely enjoyable")

Derpy News – fairly positive (graded B+; "good episode ... some issues")

Louder Yay – positive (three stars; "a solid-but-not-spectacular [episode]")

MLEEP Reviews – fairly positive (7.5/10; "managed to surprise me")

One Man's Pony Ramblings – fairly positive (fun fluff despite poor moral)

The Super Mario Brony Blog – very positive (four stars; "fantastic and memorable portrayals from Twilight and her niece")

Super Recaps – mixed ("plenty to like" but moral "depressingly simplistic and judgmental")

TheDragonWarlock – fairly positive (graded B; "good character developments for Twilight" but "minor annoyances")

Thursday, 27 April 2017

And so, the first Flashfic 150 comes to an end

Text Review Roundup will appear tomorrow.

It's certainly been quite the learning experience for me! At first I wasn't sure whether anyone would be interested, then I had to keep up with queries and suggestions during the event itself, and finally I got myself into a little bit of a pickle over feedback (tl;dr version: some people weren't expecting so much of it, while others couldn't get enough).

Despite these little wrinkles, though, there does seem to be enough interest in the concept for me to keep running with it. I'll probably tweak one or two things next time – such as allowing people to state on their entries whether or not they want feedback – but the general format will remain the same. The 150-word limit is certainly staying, as it's something a bit different.

The winner was Pascoite, who submitted this lovely Celestia piece and now gets the chance to choose the prompt for the May contest. I hope the experience I've gained over the last few weeks will allow me to improve the way I handle forthcoming events. And of course, if anyone's reading this and is thinking of having a go: you'd be very welcome to join us!

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Ponyfic Roundup 154: Spotlight on The Immortal Game

Two wins out of two for Worcestershire at the start of the County Championship season. Joe Leach's ten wickets against Northants is good and it's bad. He's a great bowler and seems to be a good captain, but he's also going to be a target for the posher clubs soon. Still, promotion does seem a possibility this year.

Read it Later story count: 447 (+1)

Remember me saying that I never DNF a story? Well, here's the proof! I began reading The Immortal Game as part of my ill-fated liveblogging experiment a couple of years ago. It really nagged at me that I hadn't finished it, so I resolved to do so. And eventually I did. This is a review I should really have written a long time ago, especially as it's of a much longer fic than I usually read. (For those who care, my next 300k story will be Through the Well of Pirene, but don't expect a review of that for many months to come.)

The Immortal Game by AestheticB
Celestia, Luna, Mane Six and OCs
Adventure/Dark; 297k words; Oct 2011–Jan 2013; Mature (Gore)
Princess Luna leads the Elements of Harmony against the corrupted Twilight Sparkle
This is one of those "an old enemy has awaken" stories – although in this case, it isn't just the one. This means a good deal of fighting – and be warned, that M rating is there for a reason. There are a lot of detailed, graphic fight scenes. Actually rather too many, I think. Most of the canon characters are pretty solid for the time they were written, although the OCs are rather variable and I find one or two of the backstories hard to credit. Technically, it starts iffy and gets better, like Fallout: Equestria does, so it's worth pushing through. There are niggles, but by the end nothing deal-breaking. It goes on a bit for my liking, but manages a three-star rating for being grimdark without being gratuitous. ★★★

I'll talk a little bit more, which means spoilers, after the break.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Some news from UK PonyCon

UK PonyCon comms supremo daisyd has posted this update on the convention's forum. It's not the announcement of any specific details, but it is (to my eyes, anyway) a reassuring and sensible piece. One major change from last year is that the con has moved to the limited company setup that several other events use. That's a sign of UK PonyCon's success, so it's a good thing! There's also a very reasonable reminder that, just because UKPC might have got a venue very fast last year, that doesn't mean it's always going to be that way.

I still very much want to go to the convention again, having had such a wonderful time there in the past, but I'm happy to wait and see what gets announced before making any firmer plans than that. Whatever the case, I wish UK PonyCon 2017 every success. They've earned it.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Episode review: S7E03: "A Flurry of Emotions"

It's looking as though we're in for another example of the US not getting an episode first. The UK doesn't have the honour this time, though: episode five will be shown in Canada next Sunday, the day after E04 and six days before it airs south of the border. EqD is now reporting that the same thing will happen with E06. I haven't yet decided what to do about review scheduling here.

Flurry Heart levitating stuff at the hospital
"They'll be dancing on air when they meet you..."
Back to episode three now! I'll confess that I wasn't looking forward all that much to "A Flurry of Emotions". This was partly since I hadn't really warmed to Flurry herself and partly because I was fearful of a rehash of "Baby Cakes", one of my all-time least favourite episodes. We had new writers for this ep: Sammie Crowley and Whitney Wetta. They'd apparently worked together before on The Loud House, but that meant nothing to me. How did they do? Well...

Sunday, 23 April 2017

EFNW Scribblefest, plus some future plans

Okay, remember that nice surprise I mentioned a few days ago? The one that greeted me on the fifth anniversary of my Fimfiction membership? It was this: The Book of Ended Lives won the Rarity Prize in this year's Everfree Northwest Scribblefest contest. This has nothing to do with Rarity-themed content: TBoEL doesn't feature her at all. It's given for "elegance in writing". I was completely blindsided by this, especially as the way Scribblefest works you don't enter for a specific prize, but I'm sure as hay not going to complain about it!

So, what next for prize-winning author Loganberry? (Look, I'm human. I want to use that phrase once, at least!) I'm tempted to spruce up some of my older stories. They can't be republished as new fics, of course, and hardly anyone reads really old fics so it would mostly be for my own satisfaction. But that's okay. This doesn't mean I won't be publishing anything new. I still have quite a few ideas that I'd like to commit to virtual paper before I end my ponyfic career – and I don't plan on that happening for some considerable time to come. If we don't get a mid-season hiatus, though, I may not have that much time. We'll see.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Text Review Roundup: "Celestial Advice" and "All Bottled Up"

In the end there were 18 entries for the inaugural Flashfic 150 non-prize contest. I'm pretty satisfied with that, given that I had no idea whether I'd have any interest at all. Now I have to judge them! I'll announce the winner on Tuesday.

Starlight and Sunburst make a "Flurry" clock
This may be the most terrifying thing in either episode
It really has been a long time since I did a TRR post. The last one was for Legend of Everfree back in early November, so I hope I can remember how to do them! For those new to all this, my aim is to summarise the opinions of text-based reviewers other than those who write on Fimfiction. This is a smallish group and one that tends to get a bit sidelined, with Equestria Daily only really interested in video reviews and Fimfiction bloggers concentrating on other Fimf posts. If you know any other regular show reviewers, please do let me know!

I'm going to cover both opening episodes here, which isn't ideal but is really unavoidable given the calendar. If the reviewer covered both eps in one post, click on their name/title to go to their full review. If they split them, click on each episode's abbreviation instead. This is a rather ugly way of doing TRR, but unless there's another back-to-back airing like this it will be a one-off.

ArthurCrane – CA: broadly positive ("above average"); ABU: mixed (likes Starlight; doesn't like Trixie)

Batbrony Reviews – CA: positive ("important and needed [for Tia]"); ABU: very positive ("hilarious")

Cuddlepug – both episodes: negative (graded D; "little ... justification for why people should still be watching")

Derpy News – CA: extremely positive (graded A; "refreshing change of pace"); ABU: very positive (graded A; "another fun episode")

Louder Yay – CA: fairly positive (three stars; "a reasonable start"). ABU: a bit more positive ("top-end" three stars; "pretty funny")

MLEEP Reviews – CA: extremely positive (9.5/10; "truly radiant"); ABU: negative (5.5/10; "great on paper, shitty in execution")

One Man's Pony Ramblings – both episodes: rather negative ("45 minutes of blah" but points for Tia in CA, Trixie in ABU... and Carrot Top)

Super Recaps – CA: broadly positive ("perfectly fine"); ABU: broadly very positive (Star/Trix fantastic; Mane Six subplot blander)

TheDragonWarlock – CA: mixed (graded B-; "repetitive"); ABU: rather negative (graded C-; "pretty weak ... lousy song")

Thrond Media Pony Corner – CA: rather negative (50%; "lightweight" but credit for Tia); ABU: negative (38%; "obnoxious ... shortage of jokes" but moral and ending are good)

Friday, 21 April 2017

Episode review: S7E02: "All Bottled Up"

Yesterday marked the fifth anniversary of my Fimfiction account, and I got a rather pleasant surprise to mark the date. More on that in a couple of days, but my priority for now is getting last weekend's episode reviewing finished.

Trixie and a rather angry Starlight
Starlight doesn't half go through manestyles :P
It really doesn't seem like a week since my last episode review post, does it? ;) Anyway, Season Seven's episode two is not just a continuation of episode one, although it does share the same writers and some of the same central characters. As with the previous review, this one will be fairly short, though that's partly because I'm short of time before the next ep appears! Not that my reviews are generally vastly detailed anyway, of course. Past the break for the low-down.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Episode review: S7E01: "Celestial Advice"

Celestia laughing uproariously
"You think this makes it more likely I'll get a real episode? Oh, Twilight..."
And we are go with My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Season Seven! Okay, okay, I know we were go some time ago, but I can't help it if I've been on holiday. Never mind nuclear confrontations in Korea or snap general elections in the UK, this is the big one. Since for the first time the two episodes weren't (entirely) two parts of the same story, you'll get two shortish reviews: the first today and the second tomorrow. Text Review Roundup will be squashed in at the weekend if I can find the time! Having Lewis and Songco on the case was a promising sign, but come past the break for the actual review of the S7 premiere.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Italics and quotes and suchlike

New Pony episode today! Woooooooo!

Also, Equestria Daily briefly carried a story yesterday stating that clips from the forthcoming movie were shown at a coin in Thailand. The article quickly disappeared, though. Maybe the information was wrong, maybe the piece was incorrectly scheduled, maybe someone from Hasbro had a quiet word. If the screening did happen, I imagine we'll hear about it from an attendee soon enough.

This is one of those silly little posts that I couldn't find anywhere else to place, so you're getting it on its own. You may be surprised by the revelation that I have something approaching a personal style guide for Louder Yay. It's changed and evolved a little over the years, but at the moment this is what I try to do:

I italicise the show's name: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. The same holds for its various abbreviations, such as FiM. There's a difference between "the Pony world", which refers to canon, the fandom, etc, and "the pony world", which is the one Fluttershy lives in.

Episode names get quotes: "Hurricane Fluttershy". Episode numbers are in the form S5E01. I tend to write out "Season Seven" or whatever in full the first time, but I'm not all that strict about it and I may not continue with that in the long term.

Names: I use Minuette and Bulk Biceps, not Colgate and Snowflake. On the other hoof, I use Carrot Top and Derpy. Bon Bon/Sweetie Drops is a special case, as the right name may depend on context. In fanfic reviews, I'll use the name the author uses, even if that is "Golden Harvest" or "Bright Eyes".

I treat fanfics as books, so their names are italicised: Where They Understand You. Chapters within those fics get quotes: "Fast Times at Cloudsdale High".

Major fandom events are generally given their official styles: BronyCon, BUCK, UK PonyCon. Otherwise, I follow the common British convention of capping up only the first letter if the abbreviated form is pronounced as a word: Lego, Nato, etc. That's why I write "Fimfiction" and not "FiMFiction". I abbreviate to "Fimf" fairly often simply because I do so in real life, too.

Other major websites: I've recently switched back to using a lower-case q in EqD. I should have done that earlier. UK of Equestria is UK of E, not UKoE. Chris's site is OMPR. This site is LY, though I don't exactly need to abbreviate it very often!

I never capitalise "brony" – I don't see any reason that the word should be treated as a proper noun. I don't use it all that often anyway, though I don't object to being classed as one. I rarely use the word "pegasister" at all, but I don't see anything wrong with it beyond silliness – and why is that a bad thing anyway?

I try to avoid using numeric dates, in order to avoid confusing American readers. If I forget, then I'll be using the European standard of DD/MM/(YY)YY. And I may be a non-believer, but I still use the AD/BC I grew up with rather than CE/BCE. In the usual British way, I'm semi-metricated: temperatures will be in Celsius, but human heights will be in feet.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

The best official promo since the Hub days?

It's starting to look as though Hasbro High Command has decided that promotional activities need to be stepped up a gear or three. Perhaps the approach of the movie has something to do with that, but whatever the case: this is a wonderful official promo video, rapping Pinkie Pie and all. It's not spoilery either, so nobody needs to miss out on it. I'd love to see more promos along these lines as the season goes on.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Ponyfic Roundup 153: Coco Pommel Edition

There's nothing quite as guaranteed to make me feel intellectually inadequate as a Bad Horse blog post, even more so when I read the comments. They're good reading, but they do heat my brain up somewhat! This time I at least understand bits of his post, thanks to my long-standing interest in the Roman Empire and its decline (and, indeed, fall). If you don't already, give BH's long-form posts a look.

Read it Later story count: 446 (-6)

I laugh in the face of the Evil Corporations who insist we call her "Miss Pommel". Ha! to you! Ha! I say! Coco she is and Coco she e'er shall remain. (Except in one of the stories I review here...) There aren't a huge number of Coco-tagged stories on Fimfiction, and there are even fewer that I actually wanted to read, but I did manage to find five that looked potentially appealing. This week's fics are:

Miss Pommel (or Current Resident) by MythrilMoth
Those Below the Hoof by playnwin
Sweetie's Manehattan Birthday by Czar_Yoshi
My Nightmarish Heroine by Quillamore
The Midsummer Theater Revival by plumander

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

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Ship names

Occurred: Americans seem to be much more exercised by the Oxford comma than anyone from Actual Oxford would be. Remember that Oakhurst Dairy news story? Over here, it made the rounds for one day and then everyone forgot about it. Yet I'm still occasionally coming across Americans who bring it up. Nobody really cares about the Oxford comma over here: if you can answer the question "Is your meaning clear?" with "Yes" then that's good enough and consistency be damned. Just thought it was interesting.

Anyway, the other day, I reviewed a Rainbow Dash/Moondancer shipfic and assumed that this ship would be known as RainDancer. To my surprise, nobody else – at least on Fimfiction – seems to have used the term. If I really am the first and anyone wants to use the name, they're very welcome to it! Some ship names amuse me more than others. FlashLight and SunLight are among the established ones that I find fun, but there are a few others I can think of that I'd rather like someone to write simply because of the names. For example:

SunnyDelight (Sunny Rays/G1 Apple Delight)
DiamondDust (Double Diamond/Lightning Dust)
LunaSea (Luna/Sea Swirl)
FireGuard (Firefly/Royal Guard)
SherbetLemon (G1 Sherbet/Lemon Hearts)
SunShine (Sunset Shimmer/Twinkleshine)

I'm sure there are more, but that's as many as I can be bothered to think of. Annoyingly, I don't think there's a canon pony whose name ends in "leader", since CheerLeader would be close to unbeatable!

Monday, 10 April 2017

RCL "Correct the Record"

The Royal Canterlot Library is running an event from now until 23 April, and it asks the following question:
Which RCL-featured authors do you think should be refeatured, to showcase a story better representative of their strengths?
All you need to do is to choose an eligible author and pick another story of theirs you think would fit best. Note that any fic that's either been featured by the Pony Fiction Vault or gained the old 6-Star rating on Equestria Daily is barred from consideration. (And any that are already in the RCL. Duh. :P )

I'm not altogether keen on the voting method – upvotes on story posts in the nomination thread. That seems a little too open to abuse for comfort, and I'd also guess that stories nominated in the middle of the period will be at a disadvantage. It does have the merit of simplicity, but I still think I'd have preferred a method which did not allow people to see running vote totals. There's also the question – already acknowledged by the curators – of how the RCL should approach the issue of refeaturing in the future. Personally, I hope it's kept to a minimum; I may expand on that at a later date.

Despite those reservations, I may nominate something. I don't intend to name a story here, or indeed anywhere other than in the nomination thread: urging people to vote for a specific story while signal-boosting this event is expressly prohibited. Also, note that you're supposed to say why you think the story you're nominating is a better fit for that author than their existing entry. "X is a great writer and deserves another feature" isn't the idea at all.

End of waffle. The RCL "Correct the Record" thread is here.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Shameless self-promotion time!

Story cover showing a close-up of Pinkie Pie
Yes, that blue spot is supposed to be there :P
Look, it's my blog. That's what it's for. :D Anyway, It Doesn't Matter Now has been accepted by Equestria Daily – and here's the feature to prove it. Old story it may be (published October 2014) but I've always been pretty happy with it and it's been well received by most readers, so I'm very pleased to see it up on EqD. My inner Fluttershy is doing the "yay" thing right now.

I'd like to thank Pascoite for encouraging me to submit IDMN, Pascoite (again) and Ferret for pre-reading suggestions, and the people – who prefer to remain in the shadows – who gave me feedback both before and after the story's initial publication. Also, of course, to everyone who's taken the time to read the fic over the years, regardless of what you thought of it. You're all great.

Friday, 7 April 2017

First movie trailer released!

We have our first official look at the My Little Pony: The Movie style in motion! It's very much a teaser trailer, and it really doesn't spoil much if anything: there's no indication of the film's plot, there are no appearances by the major new characters we've been told about. There are very brief non-speaking appearances by a couple of ponies I don't recognise, but there's no indication as to who they might be. Unless you're a total and utter spoiler-phobe, you can probably get away with watching this one. Still, I've made sure that I used the video with a totally non-spoilery preview image!

Unfortunately, the look of the trailer isn't quite what it should be, with Rainbow Dash especially looking rather odd around the eyes. As art director Rebecca Dart explains, an error was made with rendering: "they didn't convert the 16 bit images to 8 bit properly and it crushed all the shadows". She is not at all happy with what happened, saying that she "never would have approved this". On the plus side, we now know that the finished article will be better. Since Ms Dart was also art director on Season Five of the show, she has reassuring form when it comes to Pony.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Ponyfic Roundup 152: The Native Hue of Resolution

Read it Later story count: 452 (-6)

Time for another bunch of stories featuring ponies. Yes, I know this will come as a shock to some of you, but I'm afraid I'm not going to budge where that's concerned. If you want to read about a cute family of aardvarks who accidentally discover something nasty in the termite mound then you're just going to have to do so elsewhere. There's a colourful theme to this week's titles:

The Star in Yellow by Blueshift
Pink Pegasus by AnnonyMouse
White Day by allykitty
What Happened to the Orange Frog? by LordSmokedMeatsandFishes
Blue by Pastel Pony

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

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Plans for the Easter period

Well, it looks as though one of my concerns about Flashfic 150 – that nobody would take any notice – has been laid to rest. 47 members at the last count and the inaugural contest has five entries already, which is nice given that there's over a fortnight to go. Naturally, there'll be no comments from me indicating any preference until I actually announce the results later in the month.

On to the main business of the day. I'll be away for a week or so over Easter (Thursday to Wednesday) and I will have only very limited internet access while I'm on holiday. That means there'll be a few departures from the normal Louder Yay schedule.

This week, things on the blog will continue as usual, with Ponyfic Roundup appearing tomorrow (5th) as you'd expect. I do have an EqD submission I want to get on with this week, but you shouldn't notice any difference from my usual approach to Louder Yay itself. Yes, that means Logan making up any old rubbish as he goes along. Hey, it's done the trick for me for four and a half years now!

Next week, there will be a Ponyfic Roundup as usual on the Wednesday (12th), but that will be the last new material to appear here for a little while – unless by some miracle I manage to schedule a post or two. I'll try to remember, but if everything goes quiet it doesn't mean that I've decided that Pony is not worth the candle and decided to take up the contrabassoon instead. Well, not necessarily.

After Easter, the most noticeable change will be that the S7 premiere review will be late. (Bolded because otherwise someone's bound to ask!) I'll get home on Wednesday (19th) and I very much intend to have the review up before episode three appears the following weekend. There will also be no Ponyfic Roundup that week as I just won't have time to fit one in.

Things should return to normal by the time episode 3 appears. At least, to whatever passes for normal in these parts. And PR that week will – I hope – be a Spotlight edition, focusing on a story I hope finally to have read by then.

Monday, 3 April 2017

Comic mini-review: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #52

None of the covers particularly jumped out at me this time
The Shadow Lock (he does seem to have a two-word name) arc continues, and it does so in a pretty similar vein to the way it began. Our antagonist is taking forever and a day to get round to explaining himself, but by the end it does seem as though we're on the verge of an important reveal. I do want to give a special nod to Tony Fleecs this time: there are some dramatically drawn panels in here. The page design is nicely varied, too. There's a "cement horseshoes" joke that I'm not entirely sure is appropriate, but for the most part this is a case of "if you liked the last issue, this is more of the same". It therefore gets the same star rating! ★★★

Sunday, 2 April 2017

"Imposing Sovereigns" competition results

Yeah, I know I never got round to mentioning FanOfMostEverything's "Imposing Sovereigns" competition here. My bad, though at least it's not as if it really needed more of a signal boost, considering how it caught people's attention anyway. And no, I didn't enter: I'm terrible at having ideas for these things at the right time, and I didn't. I have been keeping an eye on it, though, and FOME has now announced the winners!

I haven't actually read any of these stories yet, but there are six stories mentioned on the page I just linked to, so they'll make a nice Ponyfic Roundup post at some point in the not too distant future. Something that delights me is that three of the six authors are relatively little known, with fewer than 50 followers at the time of writing. Indeed, the writer who came second has twelve followers and only joined Fimfiction in August 2016.

The winner was someone who is well known – but Aragon's story seems to have picked up almost universal praise. It's also Comedy/Adventure, one of my favourite genre combos, so I'm looking forward to it a lot. Even if it is the longest of all six mentioned fics at over 18,000 words, you annoying author, you. :P

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Bits and pieces

There's wall-to-wall Brexit over here at the moment, and even as a politics junkie it's getting a bit much for me. (For the record, I voted Remain and would do so again, but you can't win 'em all.) So it's time for some ponies.

The first – and hopefully not last! – Flashfic 150 contest is now open. Anyone with a Fimfiction account is welcome to join in before the contest (which, again, has no prize) closes in three weeks' time. Yes, that is a very relaxed schedule. This is deliberate. This month's prompt is "Getting Warmer".

Stable-Tec Studios have officially cancelled their Fallout: Equestria animation. I can't in all honesty say I'm surprised. From the outside, animation seems to me to be about the most demanding of all the various types of fandom project, and this particular one was huge. As of now, the SFM (which doesn't interest me) and radio play (which might) are still live. As of now.

Friends Forever #38 – the last in the series, focusing on Celestia and Luna – has been delayed. It should have appeared last Wednesday, but ComicList now has it as the dreaded "TBD". I am not pleased about this, and I will be even more not-pleased if the issue is cancelled. I was annoyed enough about Art Gallery II.

Also in comics, Bleeding Cool's Lauren Sisselman liked the "Deviations" issue, awarding it 8/10. I'm not entirely sure I agree with her suggestion that it would be a fun issue for non-regulars, though.