Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Text Review Roundup: "Once Upon a Zeppelin"

There'll be no Ponyfic Roundup for a week or two owing to the imminence of UK PonyCon, but I'll at least try not to get too far behind with TRR. This time around, the episode was well received, with nobody at all giving it an outright negative rating and several reviewers rating it highly.

ArthurCrane – mildly positive ("a perfectly serviceable episode")

Batbrony Reviews – very positive ("while not a flawless episode, this was still a very exceptional Season 7 episode")

Cuddlepug – no review at time of writing

Derpy News – very positive (graded A; "a very enjoyable episode")

Louder Yay – very positive (4/5; "about as good as filler gets, and it's definitely an episode that I enjoyed greatly")

MLEEP Reviews – wildly positive (10/10; "such a heartwarming episode")

Pony Press News Journal – no text-based review for this episode

The Super Mario Brony Blog – mildly positive (3.5/5; " I just wish [Twi's family] could've been done more interestingly ... impressive visuals ... moral comes off as a good one ... reasonably good")

TheDragonWarlock – positive (graded A-; "it feels like Twilight was forced through the wringer [but] it's still a great episode with a good moral")

Thrond Media Pony Corner – very positive (88%; "a last-minute delight which combines the two things season 7 excels at: new family characters and Twilight Sparkle")

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Bristol cinemas showing the movie over UKPC weekend

Some, but not all, cinemas in Bristol are now listing My Little Pony: The Movie for next weekend – so if you're attending UK PonyCon and would like to take in the film, you should be able to do so. (I won't be going to see it again myself until the week after.) Where two prices are listed, they're off-peak / peak, but every cinema differs on when you get an off-peak price.

Most of the big chains are carrying the movie at their Bristol sites. Here's what I've found so far:

Cineworld, Hengrove (south of city)
Showing at 13:10. 15:40 and 18:10
Tickets: £9.00 / £10.50
Online booking fee: included
Book tickets here | Google Maps

Odeon, Broadmead (city centre)
Not wheelchair-accessible
Showing at 13:30 and 16:00, plus 11:00 Sat–Mon (subtitled on Sun only)
Tickets: £5.75 / £10.50
Online booking fee: included
Book tickets here | Google Maps

Scott Orpheus, Westbury Park (north of city)
Not wheelchair-accessible; requires phone number to book online!
Showing at 15:00 (Fri–Sun), 12:30 (Sat–Sun) or 14:00 (Mon)
Tickets: £5.50
Online booking fee: not sure
Book tickets here | Google Maps

Showcase, Avonmeads (just east of city centre)
Showing at 10:00, 12:25, 14:55 and 17:20
Tickets: £7.90 / £9.75
Online booking fee: 60p
Book tickets here | Google Maps

Showcase de Lux, Cabot Circus (city centre)
Showing at 11:15, 13:55 (not Sun) and 16:30
Tickets: £8.30 / £10.50
Online booking fee: 60p
Book tickets here | Google Maps

Vue, Cribbs Causeway (north of city)
Showing at 10:35, 12:20, 13:35 and 16:55 (Fri)
Showing at 10:10, 11:20, 12:40, 13:40, 14:30, 15:40 and 16:20 (Sat)
Showing at 10:05, 10:45, 11:40, 12:35, 13:25, 14:25, 15:25 and 16:25 (Sun)
Showing at 10:05, 11:05, 12:05, 13:15, 14:15, 15:00 and 16:00 (Mon)
Tickets: £9.49 / £10.99
Online booking fee: 75p
Book tickets here | Google Maps

Tips for UK PonyCon-goers 10: You always take the weather with you

Here's a tip for UK PonyCon that I was considering publishing anyway, but given the weather forecast I now think it's an important one:

Tip 10: Remember, it's October. In England

That means you're not going to have a weekend of balmy temperatures and gentle breezes while you sip cocktails by a tropical lagoon. The River Avon's path through Bristol is full of mud most of the time anyway, thanks to the Bristol Channel's 15-metre tidal range – the highest anywhere in the world outside Canada, fact fans.

That's not relevant to the convention, though, What is relevant is that the Met Office outlook is currently predicting a spell of very wet and windy weather over con weekend, and you're likely to regret it if you don't prepare for it. While this area of Bristol isn't on an exposed headland or anything, it can get pretty windy during autumn gales.

So, if you're driving to UKPC, be prepared for stuff like trees blocking roads or speed limits across the Severn Bridge. If you're travelling by train, there may be longer journey times or trees or fallen overhead wires blocking routes for a while. Even once you arrive at your hotel, you may get soaked walking across the car park if the rain's falling hard enough.

On con days themselves, consider what you'll do if it's pouring down at queue time – one of those single-use plastic coats might be handy, as the wind's likely to be too strong for umbrellas to be useful. Also, bring plastic bags of some sort to wrap items susceptible to water damage. You don't want your beautiful new plushie waterlogged on the first day!

I don't want to go overboard here. Even a severe gale storm would be unlikely to be as disastrous as Ophelia was to Ireland in a non-coastal city like Bristol. But it does look increasingly as though the weather will not be as benign as it has been for the last few UKPCs, and it's better to have preparations you don't need than to need preparations you don't have!

Monday, 16 October 2017

Episode review: S7E23: "Secrets and Pies"

Angry Pinkie Pie with pie filling all over her face
At least she didn't get at Spike this time round
As you might expect, with UK PonyCon coming up, my normal schedule here will be considerably disrupted. I might have one or two pre-written posts that will appear during the con, but otherwise: Ponyfic Roundup will not appear this week, and may not appear next week either. Reviews for episode 24 and the finale will get done when I get the time, and ditto for Text Review Roundup. On to today's business, though – thoughts on Josh Hamilton's episode after the break.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

UK PonyCon let down by supplier; no exclusive plushie this year

Some unfortunate news from UK PonyCon today. It's been announced that, due to problems with the supplier, it's proved impossible to supply this year's exclusive convention plushie. This is the themed pony which was going to form part of the goodie bag VIP ticket-holders were given as part of their registration deal. (And possibly end up being sold/auctioned as well, I guess.)

The con organisers are currently in discussions regarding the payments they've made to the supplier, and this means that they're not able to go into details. It's bound to be frustrating for VIPs not to know exactly what's gone wrong, but there's no practical way around it: if one side gives a running commentary in a situation like this, it almost always ends up being worse for everyone in the end.

As I understand it, VIPs should check their email as they will have been contacted by UKPC and offered a number of options about what they want to do. According to comments on the UKPC Facebook post about this, there is a refund option; I don't know what the others are. (I can make some decent guesses, but I have no actual knowledge and don't want to confuse the issue.) So please read that email!

I hope people will be understanding of UK PonyCon's situation here. Without knowing the details, it does very much sound as though they've been left in the lurch by a supplier that hasn't kept up its end of the bargain. And it's not as if they could commission dozens of plushies in the next six days! I'm not a VIP ticket-holder, but I'll now be making sure to buy a little extra something from the UKPC merch stall.

Spoiler-free review: My Little Pony: The Movie

Please note that "spoiler-free" means that the level of information here is roughly what you'd get in a general media review. If you're trying to avoid all information about the film, stop reading now!

I'd been expecting my reaction to My Little Pony: The Movie to be something along the lines of "Well, that was okay, I guess" – something that might have just about scraped a three-star rating. In the event, I liked it a good deal more than that. However, I can see why some people wouldn't, and I don't think this is a movie that's likely to convert huge swathes of general filmgoers to the cause of Pony. But I was thoroughly entertained, so ★★★★. Considerably more – but still spoiler-free by the standard given above – is written below!

Saturday, 14 October 2017

UK PonyCon questionnaire thingy!

I often see these things published by people who are about to head off to a convention, so here's one from me. Feel free to use and adapt the format for yourself if you like!

What do I call you? Logan, for preference. Everyone else does and I respond to it pretty much automatically now. The full version (Loganberry) is fine too, especially as that's my actual username in most places! If I've told you my real name, that's okay too if you prefer.

What will you look like? A horse. No, afraid not – cosplay isn't really my thing. I'll be wearing a variety of pony T-shirts and carrying some sort of bag. Other than that, I'm older than most bronies, I wear glasses and I don't wear jeans. (Denim irritates my skin.)

Who will you be with? Anyone who can stand my presence for more than 30 seconds. I can't afford to be fussy. :D Also, whoever wants to join in any impromptu singing sessions! Oh, and the Pub Quiz crowd, naturally!

What will you be doing? Not a clue. The timetable for UKPC has an awful lot on it this year, and I don't generally stick to my planned schedule anyway. But as just mentioned, there'll definitely be singing involved. Lots of singing.

Can I talk to you? Sure, I'm happy to talk to just about anyone. Please don't do a Quibble Pants and keep pestering me when I obviously want to be doing something else, because that will annoy the hay out of me. But a hello and a quick chat? Absolutely. :)

Can I take your photo? Um, why? I don't cosplay, as I said. But if you really want to, then ask me first and I expect I'll be okay with it. If you take video of me doing any sort of performance, I want to see a copy, please. Just for my amusement, not so I can sue you later. ;)

Can I hug you? I guess, though please, please ask me first. I don't want you to accidentally break something fragile and feel awful about it!

Can I buy you a drink? Now we're getting silly. I don't expect anyone to buy my cider for me. I don't even know whether my health will let me drink alcohol during the con.

How long are you staying? I'm coming down on Friday afternoon and going back up on Monday morning, so I'll get to attend the whole con. :)

Where are you staying? The Premier Inn on the Filton Roundabout. I always choose the most glamorous locations.

How are you travelling? To Bristol? By train, probably via Birmingham. I'll wear a pony shirt during the trip, though I don't know which one yet, so feel free to come and say hi!

Favourite ponies? Fluttershy, Scootaloo, Celestia, Derpy.

Anything else I should know? I take the all-ages nature of this convention seriously. Being foul-mouthed or talking about NSFW stuff are really good ways to annoy me fast, so please leave off the f- and c-bombs, unless they're "filly" and "colt". :P I prefer to avoid that sort of thing even outside the venue.

This is very much a specifically pony-themed weekend for me. While that doesn't mean I won't talk about anything else, if you want to have a long conversation about Doctor Who or railways or something, another time might be better. Political discussions are right out for the duration of the con. Not interested.

Also, I'm diabetic. I don't have to avoid sugary foods entirely, so a muffin or two is fine, but I can't go overboard. Partly but not entirely related to this, my state of health can change very fast. Please be considerate if it does.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Text Review Roundup: "Marks and Recreation"

I've let this feature slip a bit recently! I'll do a TRR for "Once Upon a Zeppelin" in the next few days, though that for tomorrow's episode may well have to wait until after I get back from UK PonyCon. On the plus side, being late means I have an ArthurCrane review to include! Also, a new reviewer: Pony Press News Journal. Still no reviews from The Southern Nerd or the Super Mario Brony Blog, so those sources have been removed from the list.

ArthurCrane – generally positive ("Rumble is a very good example of how you can make a non-villain character unlikeable, but nonetheless interesting.")

Batbrony Reviews – very positive ("a fun CMC episode with a very good, well-written lesson at its heart)

Cuddlepug – extremely negative (graded D-; "a spiteful episode ... almost entirely without merit")

Derpy News – broadly positive (graded B+; "not overly spectacular, but ... a good episode nonetheless")

Louder Yay – mildly positive (three stars ("just"); "a pretty average episode of FiM – but that's still better than many shows' average.")

MLEEP Reviews – extremely positive (9.5/10; "a marvelous episode that was full of surprises")

Pony Press News Journal – mixed (6/10; "I found most of this episode boring until the point where the Cutie Mark Crusaders and Rumble have an argument")

The Super Mario Brony Blog – positive (4/5; ""yet another good moral ... a well constructed plot ... and more great moments from the Crusaders ... strong, if imperfect")

TheDragonWarlock – rather negative (graded C; "It wants to be ambitious, but it's held back by how its botched execution.")

Thrond Media Pony Corner – negative (43%; " yet another crushingly dull entry in what's shaping up to be a crushingly dull season")

Tips for UK PonyCon-goers 9: Read the rulebook

I think it's about time we had another UK PonyCon tip. This one is a little more serious than some, but...

Tip 9: Make sure you know the rules

I've already mentioned the need to remember that this is not a brony convention. Tying in with that is that UKPC's rules differ somewhat from those of other pony-centric events; there are good reasons for this, but it will help you a lot if you're clear about them before you set off for Bristol. None of them are unreasonable, at least not in my view, so learn 'em and follow 'em.

Notably, there's the fact that this is a strongly family-friendly con, and that there will therefore be many more young children in attendance than you may be used to. So don't swear. At all. (Well, not beyond what's in the show. "What in tarnation?" is probably okay. :P ) And don't make a lot of noise unless you're in an area where it's expected, such as a singalong. You may scare kids, and that wouldn't be very friendly!

The Prohibited Items section is worth perusing, too. "No weapons" means no weapons at all, including toys. This is not the con for Nerf guns and water pistols. Note that "aerosols" are listed, so don't bring in pressurised deodorants and the like assuming they'll be okay. (A dry-stick deodorant is an alternative that can feel refreshing even if you've had a shower that morning. And you will have a shower, won't you? Good.)

Most of the rest is simple common sense. Ask before you take someone's photo, and do not argue if they say no. That applies however they're dressed – cosplay is not consent. Don't disrupt panels by chatting through them – there's a dedicated chill-out space this year, or you can go to the café or bar. Have your bag ready to be searched when you go in – this will speed things up for everyone. And so on.

Some of that sounded a bit heavy, I know, and I promise there'll be at least one lighter tip before this series comes to an end. But really, all you have to do is remember this: be generous, honest, kind, laughing, loyal, magic and friendly. Do that and you'll have a great UK PonyCon 2017!

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Good article about the fandom

(Brief disclaimer: I know Andrew Crome slightly and have met him on a few occasions.)

I'm so glad I'm not employed as a headline writer, because as you can see I'm terrible at it. :P However, it is at least accurate: once you get past its mildly irritating headline, Andrew Crome's piece is a very solid summary of our weird and (usually) wonderful fandom, and one which goes a few steps beyond the cookie-cutter stuff you often get in such articles. You don't often get a piece about My Little Pony that brings in Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer!

I found the most interesting parts of the piece those which looked at the challenges the brony fandom presents. The article is timed to coincide with the movie's release, and we get a reminder of the fan backlash at Sia getting a top-line credit but not Tara Strong and co. There's also a brief mention of the very interesting question of whether the young girls who are supposed to be MLP's core audience are being sidelined somewhat by fan-targeted marketing.

Crome's article, published on theconversation.com, can be read for free here:

Meet the ‘Bronies’: adult fans giving My Little Pony a marketing headache

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Ponyfic Roundup 176: All Bound for Morningtown

PSA: I am less likely to review your story if you're using a seasonal username at the time, as it's a real pain for a reviewer's record-keeping. (This is one reason I never change my own username.) Feel free to exploit this information as you wish. :P

Read it Later story count: 399 (+2)

Another three-short-fic week, something you probably won't be too surprised to see. What you may be surprised to see is the nature of a couple of the stories under review. Let's just say that in one case, I didn't want to wait any longer, and in the other, I was dared to review something of that nature. Name withheld to protect the guilty. :P My RiL list has expanded slightly, too, as was probably inevitable after several weeks of limited time to read and review. Anyway, today we have:

A White Hearth's Warming by Chris
Skintight Payback by Aspirant
A Tea Party by Maniac92

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

Well now, this is an interesting development

Cinema ticket to see the MLP Movie on 14/10
Yup – I'm going to see My Little Pony: The Movie early! :D After I said I didn't want to go on my own, OilyValves kindly offered to join me, so we'll be seeing the film at Showcase Cinema de Lux Leicester at lunchtime on Saturday. This showing is actually the only one of the three that day I can easily make, as the 10am one is just too early (given I need to travel for two hours to get to Leicester) and I need to be home later in the evening, so I'd be in too much of a rush if I waited for the 3pm screening.

And yes, I will still be going to the already announced movie meet in Worcester on the 28th. This is an extra. :)

If anyone else reading this will also be at the 12:30 Showcase Leicester showing, leave a comment!

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Early movie releases... in England! *UPDATED*

Awooga! Awooga! Pastel alert!

Big news if, like me, you live in the UK outside Scotland and are counting the days until the film's release on the 20th... there now seems to be a limited early release in England too. I don't know how many cinemas will be involved, as the numbers seem to have gradually increased during the Scottish previews, but so far I've found:

Brighton: Cineworld
Showing at 10:30, 13:10 and 15:30
Tickets: £11.30 Sat/Sun, £9.80 weekdays
Online booking fee: 70p
Book tickets here

Brighton: Odeon
Showing at 11:50 and 14:20
Tickets: £11.25 every day
Online booking fee: included
Book tickets here

Leicester: Showcase Cinema de Lux
Showing at 10:00, 12:30 and 15:00
Tickets: £9.90 Sat/Sun, £7.95 weekdays
Online booking fee: 60p
Book tickets here

Leicester: Odeon
Showing at 10:15 (Sat-Thu only), 12:45 and 15:15
Tickets: £11.00 Fri-Tue, £8.75 Wed-Thu
Online booking fee: included
Book tickets here

Loughborough: Odeon
Showing at 10:45, 13:15 and 15:45 (not Sat)
Tickets: £4.75 every day
Online booking fee: included
Book tickets here

Thanks to mlpbronypony on UK of Equestria for the initial heads-up.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Episode review: S7E22: "Once Upon a Zeppelin"

Shining Armor is airsick in the tiny boat
That was about my reaction too to that mask, Shiny
For what it's worth, I will now be sticking to the Discovery Family schedule for episode reviews as much as UK PonyCon allows. This week we had "Once Upon a Zeppelin", by a new writer to the show, Brittany Jo Flores. It really had been quite a while since we'd got a Twilight-focused episode where she didn't share the spotlight with Starlight (so many lights!), and I was interested to see what we'd get out of it.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Tips for UK PonyCon-goers 8: Have a go!

What with all the movie-related news in recent weeks, it's been too long since the last one of these. So...

Tip 8: Take part in the fun

One of the unique things about a convention is that it gives you the chance to be part of the action in a way that you can't do on your own, or even at a regular meet. This does not mean that you need to go up on stage in front of everyone; there are plenty of ways you can take an active part in UK PonyCon even if you find actually "performing" too stressful to manage.

Bidding in the charity auction is participating. Joining in one of the singalongs is participating. Entering for "Destroy a Fakie" is participating. Chatting to a stallholder (when they're not busy!) is participating. Letting someone on their own join your group is participating. Having a bite at the café or a drink at the bar is participating. Directing someone at the station to the venue is participating...

...you get the idea. Of course, if you do have the ability and desire to do so, by all means get in touch with the UKPC staff about volunteering – they're always grateful for more help and will welcome you with open hooves! But for those of us for whom that's impossible for health or other reasons, we can still be more than simply passive consumers. And really, at a con, everyone can be part of the show!

Saturday, 7 October 2017

CinemaScore for the movie is out!

As with the Rotten Tomatoes post, I'm marking this as spoilery beyond the cut, even though it really isn't. As with that earlier post, this is just a case of talking briefly about a grade. There are no spoilers for the plot of the movie whatsoever in the post itself.

Logan rates Logan

A little while ago, Chris did a post in which he compared how Fimfiction users ranked his published stories to how he personally would rank them. He took this concept from horizon, who took it from Estee. And now I'm taking it from Chris! I've made very few changes to his format, since it seems to work.

At the time of writing, there were 23 eligible stories – Little Bits and Friendship is Poetry are open-ended and/or incomplete. Just for the hay of it, I'm going to list them in reverse order. Here, then, is how I rank each story, along with a brief explanation of why. It's quite long, so I've used a page break.

Friday, 6 October 2017

What constitutes a movie spoiler?

I've now found a cinema in the English Midlands (my home region) where the movie is open for booking! It's the Broadway in Nottingham, where there are two showings a day from 20/10 to 31/10. The major chains don't tend to open bookings until a week or so out, so it's not surprising an indy would be the first I noticed.

This is a spoiler-free post, in spite of being about spoilers!

Now that we've reached the day when My Little Pony: The Movie goes on general release in North America (and a bunch of other places), the potential for being spoiled on major aspects of the film's plot is about to increase enormously. Most of us in this part of the world are trying to avoid spoilers to some degree – but what actually is a spoiler, especially as far as this blog is concerned?

I think we need to be realistic. If you're expecting to get through to 20th October without even seeing a still picture of any of the new characters, then frankly you're going to fail in that quest pretty hard. You'd literally need to hide in a cave for the next fortnight to achieve that. There's already a ton of merch on the shelves starring the main newcomers, and soon there'll be posters and perhaps even TV ads.

UK PonyCon is coming up just as the film releases, and that convention does indeed have a no-spoilers policy – but again, a total blackout is simply not going to happen. How could a convention like that possibly ban vendors from selling a huge range of merch? Answer: they can't and they won't. You will see images and toys featuring movie-specific characters there, and there is no realistic way of avoiding that.

Since I don't want to spoil people on specifics here, I'll use an analogy to explain Louder Yay's position: that of the first Equestria Girls film from 2013. This was where Sunset Shimmer made her debut – but I would not consider a still picture of Sunset in a neutral setting to be a spoiler. However, I would consider a picture of Demon Sunset to be one, as that's a significant plot twist. See?

And what about trailers? Frankly, neither they or synopses are really spoilers, since they're intended to be viewed before the film itself appears. However, here on LY I've still been reasonably careful to put them beyond a page break if their thumbnails reveal anything of significance. The official "Rainbow" video, for example, has a thumbnail that's simply Maddie Ziegler. Not a spoiler.

Now, how long will my spoiler blackout period last? Another vexed question, as there'll always be somebody who hasn't seen the film, even in ten years' time. I've taken the decision to be careful up until the end of 2017. As far as I can tell from IMDb's not-always-reliable list, nowhere that's going to get the film at all will have to wait until 2018, and that's informed my decision.

I will, of course, be posting a review of My Little Pony: The Movie once I've seen it on the big screen – but that will take a similar format to how I reviewed the Equestria Girls films. The above-the-line picture will be a neutral one, and nothing in the pre-break paragraph will reveal significant plot points. If you click beyond that point, though, I don't want any complaints about spoilers!

If you have any thoughts or comments on what I've just said, please feel free to use the comments section as normal. I'd ask that you avoid movie spoilers in any comments you do make, please.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Movie: UK cinema showings from 6th Oct... but only in Scotland!

Screenshot showing the Vue Stirling cinema listing the MLP Movie for 7th Oct
This is somehow far more frustrating than waiting past the US release!
This is a spoiler-free post

Up until very recently, I'd imagined that there would be no previews or early showings of My Little Pony: The Movie in the UK, except perhaps one organised by Hasbro in London. However, it seems I was wrong. You can go and see the film before its general release date of 20th October – but there's a catch, and a pretty big one for me and indeed most of the UK: you have to live in, or at least be able to get to, Scotland.

I was confused as to the reason for this at first, but Silver Broom on Twitter helpfully explained: the half-term break in Scotland is two weeks earlier than it is in England, and since the reason the movie's been delayed south of the border is to coincide with half-term, I have to concede that earlier Scottish showings make sense.

Not all cinemas even in Scotland are showing it, as far as I can tell, but those I've found that are already listing it for an early release include:

Cineworld: Falkirk and Dundee (from Fri 6/10)
Odeon: Dundee and Dunfermline (from Sat 7/10)
Vue: Stirling and Inverness (from Sat 7/10)

And since you ask, yes I darn well am jealous about this, not to mention frustrated that a day trip to Scotland is beyond both my budget and my health. Booking has not yet opened for the movie at any English cinema, as far as I can tell, but I'll be a great deal more relieved when it does! :P

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Ponyfic Roundup 175: Spotlight on The Arbitrage of Moments

This wasn't originally going to be a Spotlight review, but I've discovered I've got more to say about GaPJaxie's fic – which, incidentally, is the only story on Fimfiction to have the word "arbitrage" in its title – than I can fit into my usual single paragraph. Here we go, then...

Read it Later story count: 396 (-1)

The Arbitrage of Moments by GapJaxie
Twilight, OC and Mane Six
Sad/Slice of Life; 12k words; Jun 2013; Teen
When you have so little, and another has so much, it’s easy to justify theft. The more precious the commodity, the easier it is to tell yourself you need it more than they do. And what is more precious than time?
This is a really thought-provoking story, though which thoughts it provokes are likely to vary from reader to reader. At its heart is Applejack reading a diary, and later on Rainbow Dash's strong reactions to its contents. However, it takes a while to see what's going on, including why Twilight is specifically tagged. The main OC (the journal writer) is somepony who provoked strong feelings, but not all of them aligning. This isn't a story for those who are looking for easy answers, but if you don't mind greyness then it's fascinating. If you read the author's Royal Canterlot Library interview for this fic, you'll discover that he's not entirely happy with it. I haven't read the (much longer) story he feels is better, but despite a few niggles (eg a rather unnecessary final chapter) I still think he did a very good job here. Oh, and for what it's worth, I'm in the "wow" camp regarding a certain highly contentious line that you'll know when you see it. ★★★★

If you don't mind plenty of spoilers, then past the break you'll find some more of my thoughts on this tale.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Pony Music Library 47: "My Past is Not Today"


What? "My Past is Not Today"

Who? Daniel Ingram

Which? Equestria Girls short

When? April 2015

Why? At the start of April 2015, three music videos appeared on Hasbro's channel. There'd been no hint that they were coming, strange as it may seem in these days of blanket promotion, and they blew the fandom away. I like all of them, but "My Past is Not Today" is probably the one which had the most impact. After Sunset Shimmer's triumphant Rainbow Rocks appearance, she'd become a hugely popular character, and this song cemented that further. It's a great power ballad about her redemption, sung excellently by Rebecca Shoichet and featuring a fine hook, a catchy melody and a strong bass line. The lyrics are solid and easily singable, too. The quality of the animation doesn't hurt, either, but it's the song itself that's getting inducted here.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Episode Review: S7E21: "Marks and Recreation"

Rumble standing at the door of the Clubhouse
"Er, Rumble... I said to use paint for your circles..."
As the hypemobile for the movie moves way beyond 88 mph, the show just keeps chugging along. This week's episode was written by May Chan, which wasn't a name to excite me given that her only previous ep was the less than impressive "Not Asking for Trouble". Still, one episode does not a failed writer make, so let's have a look and see whether this week's instalment was an improvement.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

A comment on something I've seen regarding the movie

Spoilers beyond the cut!

Just something I read in a small early review. I'm deliberately not giving anything away up here as to whether it's good, bad, both or neither, and I wouldn't recommend going any further if you've chosen to stay spoiler-free.

Might the movie do better in the UK than the US?

An interesting compilation of vague first impressions of the movie here on NeoGAF by ShinySylvee; that page itself is spoiler-free, but some of the links from there are not. Apparently the embargo on full reviews expires today, so the vague things above will probably be overshadowed – but the first signs are that the film was received pretty well. Okay, now to the main stuff.

This post is spoiler-free

This weekend sees the first public previews of My Little Pony: The Movie on the other side of the Atlantic. Inevitably, that's going to mean lots of people spewing spoilers all over everywhere, which isn't something I'm looking forward to but is probably something that's unavoidable. However, it also means people wondering about how well the film will do at the box office.

In the US, MLP's wide release on 6 October is going up against Blade Runner 2049, a behemoth by comparison – and one which has received ecstatic early reviews from the critics. (At the time of writing, it has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 98%.) It would take a miracle of epic proportions for Pony to match either BR's critical reception or its commercial performance, and I don't expect it to get close on either score.

Here in the UK, however, we have to put up with waiting another fortnight, until 20 October, to see the film. (I've seen a few hints of some 19 October previews, but I have no hard information.) And you know, there's not a great deal of competition on that date. The Lego Ninjago Movie arrives on the 13th, and that's the only big release I can see to target much the same audience.

Now, it's hardly a new thing for a film to flop in the States and do well over here. Watership Down did exactly that in 1978 – it's generally seen as a cult film in the US, but it was a major commercial hit in the UK. More recently, The Golden Compass did pretty well here and pretty badly in America, though its philosophy (real and perceived) might have had something to do with that.

I'm speculating here, but perhaps with MLP it might also be a factor that the G4 hypewagon is a little newer in the UK. It's only really since about 2014 that Hasbro UK have really pushed hard with bringing merch to us; previously, we tended either to have to import at inflated prices or, at best, wait a year or two for anything to appear. Similarly, our fandom, though small, is still quite strong.

One factor will be whether or not the UK's largest cinema chain, Odeon, decides to show the film. We already know that numbers two and three on the list, Vue and Cineworld, will – but Odeon carrying it would make a big difference. As things stand, it will be more prominent than Equestria Girls, but not that much more. It would be great if British cinemas went all-out with the MLP movie.

So, while I hope My Little Pony: The Movie will do at least well enough to put the memory of the commercial failure that was its 1986 namesake to bed, I don't expect it to be a $100 million blockbuster or anything. It doesn't need to be, really, as long as it drives toy sales enough. But it wouldn't altogether astonish me if it turned out to be a bigger hit outside its North American homeland.

Friday, 29 September 2017

UK PonyCon vendors list is out

It's always a big moment for a convention (in this case UK PonyCon) when you finally discover which stalls are going to be in operation. And here's the answer! Fitting in with the "biggest UKPC ever" theme, I think this is probably the biggest vendor hall ever. Not counting the con's own stalls and the RDA's charity table, I reckon there are getting on for 50 of the things this year.

I've been looking through the list, and I'm quite excited about the volume and variety of people selling this time. This being UK PonyCon, it's good to see plenty of G1-G3 vendors in there, even though I'm inevitably going to concentrate on G4 stuff. Art prints are a near-certainty for me, and if anyone's selling shirts I might be tempted. Plushies may be beyond my budget, sadly.

There's an odd gap where stall C2 should be. I guess either it's a vendor who booked a table but then had to pull out, or it's a place where a table doesn't fit because of a pillar or something. Not that it's important – it just looks a bit odd on the plan. Also, I wondered at first why K1/K2 weren't in the main hall. Simple answer: they sell CCG stuff, and that's where the card games area is!

Looking at the floor plan, I can't help but notice that the stalls area opens out into the bar. I suspect that will prove a popular decision with a number of attendees! I may write another post about the overall layout later on, though of course you never quite know how well it will work until you're there in person. Still, my hype levels are definitely higher after this stalls announcement!

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Text Review Roundup: "A Health of Information"

It's that time of the week again. ("Thursday"—Ed.) There's actually yet more UK PonyCon news to post about, but I'll do that tomorrow or Saturday. Unfortunately there was no sign of ArthurCrane or The Southern Nerd's assessments at press time. It's also starting to look as though Batbrony has moved to a later schedule, so I'm going to have to link to a forum post again.

From those who did review the episode, "A Health of Information" got a generally good rap. Nobody was outright negative about it, and most people enjoyed what they saw.

ArthurCrane – no review at time of posting

Batbrony (forum post) – wildly positive ("Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, that episode was AMAZING!!!")

Cuddlepug – fairly positive (graded B; "exchanges between Twilight Sparkle and Fluttershy are well-written ... varied facial expressions")

Derpy News – positive (graded A-; "a very good one that has a lot going for it [though] fans might get a bit disturbed by Fluttershy’s determinator status")

Louder Yay – very positive (four stars; "The episode title is horrible, but very little else is ... Despite ... minor complaints, this was Fluttershy's second excellent showing of the season")

MLEEP Reviews – extremely positive (rated 10/10; "simply sweet performances ... a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down")

TheDragonWarlock – mixed (graded B; "a good episode, but a step down from last week's ... it wasted another chance for another proper Zecora episode")

The Southern Nerd – no review at time of posting

The Super Mario Brony Blog – extremely positive (four-and-a-half stars; "a wonderful, endearing story, another good friendship moral ... one of Fluttershy's best episodes")

Thrond Media Pony Corner – very positive (rated 83%; "easily the funniest episode since at least 'Discordant Harmony' ... surprisingly high stakes ... Give me more like this.")

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Ponyfic Roundup 174: You Know When You've Been Ponied

Read it Later story count: 397 (nc)

Back down to three stories this week, partly as a result of a visit to the dentist and partly as a result of there being way too much movie-and-convention-related news for me to keep up with. The lucky(?) few that made it are:

Room by Zaid ValRoa
Starscape by Carabas
A Thousand Roses by Titanium Dragon

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

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

UK PonyCon schedule is out!

There have been occasions on which the convention events schedules have appeared at almost the last minute, but not this time around. Here is the UK PonyCon timetable, and it's immediately apparent that the "biggest UKPC ever" words are going to be backed with actions. It may not look huge to those of you used to the likes of BronyCon, but believe me, there's a lot going on here by the standards of previous UKPCs.

At first glance, I am very happy with what's on offer. There's a decent variety of panels, including (yay) some writing-based ones. The extra space available in this year's venue means that it's possible to run several events simultaneously – not an entirely unmixed blessing, as I'll get to in a moment, but definitely more good than bad. And I like the fact that the whole thing has been pushed slightly earlier in the day, meaning an 11pm close rather than midnight.

There is a lot of music this year. I am especially happy to see some live music, something I remember with pleasure from UKPC 2014. Unfortunately, the second half of this Musical Celebration clashes with the Pub Quiz, and the Pub Quiz is sacrosanct, but never mind. There were always going to be a few clashes. I'll definitely try to make the first part of the performance, at least. Also, those singalong sessions before the opening and closing ceremonies look great.

And of course there's My Little Karaoke, which I am being not-that-reluctantly forced to do again. I'm not sure how they're going to fit it in with Trotmania (which I am not going to do!) but I'd guess the singing will predominate as it allows others in the room to participate in a way that Trotmania doesn't so much. As for what I'm going to do at karaoke... that information remains classified, mainly because I don't know yet. :P

UK PonyCon is more fun if you participate (more on that in a future Tip!) and I'll be playing my small part there. Yes, a lot of it will involve singing, because I love doing it and it's not something I get a chance to do (in company, anyway) at other times. But I also see Rainbow Dash Attack is back, and I may not be able to resist that. "Who Said What Now?" looks like great fun as well, and a couple more things besides.

Still, the very best thing about a convention is seeing so many other people who are just as crazy about these colourful ponies for little kids as you are. I'm hugely looking forward to catching up with several old friends, as well as meeting new people, buying some nice merch, eating far too many muffins and just generally having a good time. This schedule looks like making the last one particularly easy.

Monday, 25 September 2017

Episode review: S7E20: "A Health of Information"

Fluttershy and Twilight outside Cattail's treehouse
"It's everything I've always wanted to be!"
The schedule for UK PonyCon has been released, but that deserves a full post of its own, which will be along either tomorrow or Thursday. The latest episode of the show, meanwhile, was written by Sammie Crowley and Whitney Wetta, the team responsible for the okay-I-guess "A Flurry of Emotions" earlier this season. This episode was released in Russian almost a week early, but my review is based on the English-language ep. Beyond the cut, then...

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Sia's "Rainbow" for the MLP movie – the video is now officially out

I live in the UK, and this blog is deliberately somewhat UK-centric. Therefore, I am easily irritated by people raving about stuff that only applies to the US as though no other countries existed. "I'm going to see the movie on Oct 6!" is fine. Telling me I should see it on Oct 6 is less so. I can't, okay? Right, whinge over. On we go.


I'm putting the video out in the open as the thumbnail doesn't give anything away, but the video itself is extremely spoilery, to the point of giving away one of the major twists of the plot. I would most definitely not recommend watching this if you're trying to stay unspoiled – although you're probably safe with just the audio, as it's not especially specific.

It's still more than a month until I'll get to see this film, thanks to a combination of the late UK release date, UK PonyCon and my desire to see the movie along with the Worcester meetup group. Nevertheless, I'm really looking forward to seeing it on the big screen, and the "Rainbow" video (which isn't about Dash, by the way) has just reinforced that desire.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Text Review Roundup: It Isn't the Mane Thing About You"

Here we go with the usual batch of assessments written by those fine people who aren't obsessed with shoving everything they do on YouTube. It's good to see ArthurCrane back – actually, he did eventually post a moderately positive "Daring Done?" review, but it came much too late to make last week's TRR. To balance that, unfortunately, Batbrony hadn't posted a review at the time of going to press. A pretty good reception overall for this ep.

ArthurCrane – mostly positive ("while its logic issues are inescapable, the episode delivers big time on its central message")

Batbrony Reviews – no full review at time of posting, but this forum post suggests he generally liked it but was a bit iffy about the hair loss aspect.

Cuddlepug – negative (graded D+, though the PDF consists almost entirely of a long quote from 2012. Um.)

Derpy News – very positive (graded A; "here's Rarity to get every pony energized again.")

Louder Yay – very positive (four stars; "refreshing change of pace")

MLEEP Reviews – wildly positive (rated 10/10; "a truly fabulous episode ... I'm sure to come back to [this] many times in the future")

TheDragonWarlock – mostly positive (graded B+; "Zecora was just dumb in not labelling her potions [but this] does feel like it's recapturing some elements of the first few seasons")

The Southern Nerd – mostly positive ("The writers ... seem to understand that caring about your looks ... is not necessarily a bad thing [though] the ending confused a little")

The Super Mario Brony Blog – positive (four stars; "a breath of fresh air from Haber's previous iffy installments")

Thrond Media Pony Corner – moderately positive (rated 65%; "At worst, it's watchable and inoffensive, and at best it's as charming as anything else this season" [Thrond generally dislikes S7.])

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Ponyfic Roundup 173: Made in Scotland from Girders

Read it Later story count: 397 (-1)

Amazingly, I've found the time to read five stories this week. None of them are very long, but then I have Through the Well of Pirene and The Skyla Pseudonym to get through before I can start even thinking about that sort of thing. Under review are:

Only One Way to Know by ph00tbag
The Stolen Book by Monochromatic
What's Faster... Light or Sound? by Free Shavacado
A Short Story by Twilight Sparkle by Skywriter
Were We the Bad Guys? by CommisarAJ

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

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Movie: Sia video down, TV ads up

If you grabbed a copy of Sia's video to her song for My Little Pony: The Movie, you're lucky – as the Vimeo upload, which was tweeted by Jayson Thiessen at one point and so appeared to be authorised, has now been zapped by Hasbro for copyright infringement. It is a pretty spoilery video, so I wouldn't be surprised if they wanted to keep it under wraps until after the movie's release. A bit late to hide it away from people now, though, guys. :P

On the other side of the coin, Lionsgate's playlist for the film has now added three 30-second TV spots. These have a few short sections that haven't been seen anywhere else, though they don't give away such major plot points as the Sia video does/did. I won't spoil anything here, but one thing that's notable about all these is that the animation looks really good – and yes, the problems from the first trailer do seem to have been ironed out.

All in all, it's looking like movie will be a visual treat even if it isn't anything else. Obviously I'm hoping it will be more than that, but frankly with animation like this I'd happily pay for a cinema ticket even if all that happened was a scene of various ponies bustling around Ponyville's market area.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Episode review: S7E19: "It Isn't the Mane Thing About You"

I said I had something relating to HasCon I wanted to mention, so I'll do that now. I am distinctly iffy about the way VIP passholders got to enter a draw to pick an OC's colour, cutie mark etc for the DHX animators to feature in S8. No, it's not quite "We'll put your existing OC in the show" but it still feels uncomfortably like a rich kids' toy. I'd have been happier had this prize been auctioned off for the HasCon charity. (Was there one?)

Punk Rarity makes her entrance
So green is your colour now, eh?
Anyway, on to Saturday's episode. "It Isn't the Mane Thing About You" saw the return of Josh Haber to writing duties for the first time since the S6 finale, and not everyone was delighted when they saw his name on the title card. Personally, although he's not my favourite writer, I don't have all that much against him. Come with me past the break if you want a short waffle about this.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Bonus UK PonyCon tip: DON'T save your old £1 coins!

A very good point that's been brought up by a poster on the UK PonyCon forum is this: the old, round £1 coins cease to be legal tender after 15th October. That means you will not be able to spend them at the convention! Vendors are unlikely to accept them, so please don't try. If you've been saving up change, which is a good thing in itself, make sure any £1 coins you keep are only the new, 12-sided sort.

Until the cut-off point, you can still spend those old-style £1 coins in shops and so on, and you should be able to exchange them at your own bank. Each company will have its own rules, though, so you'll need to check locally. After the cut-off date, exchanging at your own bank will probably continue for a limited time, but this isn't like old banknotes (which can be exchanged indefinitely) so don't delay!

Friday, 15 September 2017

Tips for UK PonyCon-goers 7: Turn out the burnout

There's been a fair amount going on in the fandom recently, so I haven't got round to posting another of these. Time to rectify that.

Tip 7: Pace yourself – and take some breaks

A full weekend of solid ponying is actually quite a long time, especially if you stay from start to finish on both days. It's immensely tempting to spend the entire time active, especially given the con experience is like nothing else, but if you do you'll be asking for trouble. You really do need to avoid trying to run at 100% intensity all the time, otherwise your body's going to start complaining at you pretty fast.

Once you've registered and got your con pass round your neck, you're free to wander in and out of the venue as the mood takes you. The location this year is a bit less conducive than some to taking quick breaks, since it's a fair walk to anything of interest and much of the UWE campus will be off-limits to us. However, even a few moments out in the fresh air can work wonders. (Okay, freshish, given that it's by a busy main road!)

Food, which I'll cover more fully in a later tip, is also a useful way to break up your schedule. Yes, you can take your own in, but actually sitting down for lunch in the café or having a drink at the bar will give you a slight change of scene and a change of pace. After half an hour chatting gently to friends (old or new) you'll feel refreshed and ready to tackle your next session of connery.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Text Review Roundup: "Daring Done?"

Some good news this week: I've added a couple of text-based reviewers who were fixtures in these roundups a while back, MLEEP Reviews and the Super Mario Brony Blog. In both cases, they've been reviewing S7 before this point; they just didn't show up in my searches for whatever reason. Still, they're back now, and as long as they keep reviewing episodes they'll stay back! This gives us the fullest roster for some time. A huge range of opinions this week:

ArthurCrane – no review posted at time of writing

Batbrony Reviews – very negative ("just a very 'meh' episode ... one of the biggest disappointments the show's ever had ... so much unrealized potential")

Cuddlepug – a bit negative (graded C; "View this episode as a fanfiction and it's easier to stomach")

Derpy News – mildly positive (graded B; "enjoyable, but it suffers from predictability")

Louder Yay – mildly positive (three stars; "Enjoyable filler again? Yup.")

MLEEP Reviews – positive (rated 8.5/10; "may not be the best Daring Do episode…but it was still a pretty great adventure in building confidence")

TheDragonWarlock – mixed (graded B; "a good character arc for Daring [but] third act is where things take a dive")

The Southern Nerd – generally positive ("showed Daring Do facing the one foe few superheroes ever meet: consequences for the property damage they cause")

The Super Mario Brony Blog – extremely positive (five stars; "intriguing, yet masterfully executed story, wonderful and quirky characters ... spectacular action ... another great moral ... chapter of perfection")

Thrond Media Pony Corner – very negative (rated 35%; "the worst of the Daring Do episodes, and it's not even a contest")

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

New movie trailer – some thoughts


This wasn't what I was intending to post about today, but it's not something I can really ignore! The second full-length trailer for My Little Pony: The Movie appeared yesterday. I don't think the thumbnail is particularly spoilery, so the embed is going up here. Past the break, though, I'll be talking about what I felt about this new promo, and that will have spoilers aplenty!

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

No Ponyfic Roundup tomorrow

Apologies for this. Pressure of Real Life has rendered it impossible, and for the first time in ages I've barely read any ponyfic in the past seven days. I certainly intend to get back to it next week, and there's no way I'm going to let PR's absence become a regular occurrence. In the meantime have a yay. Yay. I will be posting something tomorrow – it just won't be a Ponyfic Roundup.

Meanwhile, if you want some amusement, read Batbrony's excoriating review of "Hard to Say Anything". It's a shame the Canadian scheduling thing left me unable to do Text Review Roundup at that point in the season, as it's fabulously entertaining. "I shudder to think of what an episode would have to do to make me hate it more than I hated this one" is how it ends, but you need to read the whole piece to get the full flavour. I gave that episode two stars, but compared to Batbrony I was nominating it for an Oscar.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Episode review: S7E18: "Daring Done?"

Daring Do and Pinkie by the slime pit
One of the few teams Friends Forever never got round to
I do have one or two thoughts about Hascon to bring up, but they can wait a little bit. The week's episode was accidentally released early by Hasbro, but in the event I waited until its due date to watch it. "Daring Done?" was written by G. M. Berrow* and its synopsis was one I found moderately interesting but no more than that. And now I've seen it, I find it...

Saturday, 9 September 2017

A straw in the wind or simply noise?

The Fimfiction statistics page is always interesting to poke around in. Annoyingly, they've changed the design of the "Stories Approved" display to a stacked bar chart, making it much harder to see at a glance whether E/T-rated stories have a higher count than M-rated ones. I hope that wasn't deliberate! :P

However, that's not my point here. In April, 986 stories were approved – the first time since December 2011 that the monthly total had fallen to three figures. That's the bad thing. But since then, the monthly total has risen every month. Not by much, but again there haven't been four successive rises in this figure since S2.

It's hard to tell whether these are just noise or a real trend. It'll be especially interesting to see whether this trend continues this autumn, since that might suggest that the movie is having an impact in either bringing people back to the active fandom or (even better) introducing newcomers to it. I don't expect Fimf ever to return to 2,000+ stories a month, but it's something.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Text Review Roundup: "To Change a Changeling"

Off we go again! I'm pleased to say that The Southern Nerd is back this week, so we have a decent complement of reviewers on board. Join me below as we discover whether Cuddlepug will give us an actual review, Derpy News will surprise us by disliking an episode or Alexander Thrond will surprise us by liking an episode...

ArthurCrane – positive ("the bond between Thorax and Pharynx is a well-balanced, endearing depiction")

Batbrony Reviews – extremely positive ("yet again another amazing addition to an already amazing season")

Cuddlepug – probably negative (graded C-, but there isn't much actual complaining in the review!)

Derpy News – very positive (graded A-; "a very good episode thanks to the humor and the [character] dynamics")

Louder Yay – positive (three stars; "Starlight and Trixie ... make an amazing double act ... more good than bad" but mildly iffy about the message on bullying)

TheDragonWarlock – fairly positive (graded B; "good characterization ... jokes are pretty good [but has] character issues, particularly with Trixie, and ... feels too similar to The Times They are a Changeling.")

The Southern Nerd – positive ("interesting because of the mistakes Starlight made")

Thrond Media Pony Corner – mixed (rated 53%; "saved by its good dialogue and solid comedic timing, because what's here story-wise mostly falls apart under any scrutiny")

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Ponyfic Roundup 172: It's Me Nono, Small Robot You Know

Read it Later story count: 398 (nc)

I'd quite like to have more time to relax with ponyfic, but right now I'm even busier than I was last week, so I'm doing fairly well even to fit three stories in. Never mind; here's today's little selection.

Special Delivery by ILurvTrixie
Finding My Wings by DaringDo-Productions
Tuesday by MrEnter

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

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

The first G4 PMV ever made!

 ( Text link )

When people talk about the dawn of the PMV age, the video they tend to mention is "Trouble Is a Friend" by LM1313. It's by some distance the best known of the very early PMVs, but it's not the first. It's not even the second, but that's something I'll talk about on another occasion. The first, I believe, is the one embedded above: "Your Love Is My Drug" by MLPBubbles, published on 30th September 2010.

And no, that's not a typo. This video was put together from trailer footage that aired more than a week before Friendship is Magic premiered. This inevitably means that the video is very short (only just over a minute) and reuses animation – but hey, the show does that in some of its songs too! I'd love to know if anything older is out there, but for now, this is the PMV I consider to have started it all.

Also, technically this means the G4 fandom didn't start on 4chan after all. ;)

Monday, 4 September 2017

Episode Review: S7E17: "To Change a Changeling"

Starlight rallies the changelings against the Maulwurf
Sometimes I worry about Starlight. Well, all the time, really
Last week, I was in the unusual position of liking an episode less than the majority of the fandom. I was hoping I'd find more enjoyment out of this week's ep, which was written by Kevin Lappin – whose only previous Pony writing credit was for the fairly entertaining "Honest Apple". Would "To Change a Changeling" do the trick for me?

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Text Review Roundup: "Campfire Tales"

Yes indeed, this post is late. I could make some excuse about how I've been horrendously busy recently, and that in itself would be true – but in reality, I just forgot. So, here's a belated TRR. I note with interest and mild amusement that I'm the most negative of the text-based reviewers here; I'm really not used to that!

Unfortunately, The Southern Nerd doesn't seem to have reviewed this one, but it's nice to see ArthurCrane back. I've also restored Cuddlepug as this week some of his review actually deals with the episode. :P

ArthurCrane – mixed ("It was fun while it lasted, and it packs plenty of style and action, but it’s still not as satisfying as it could be.")

Batbrony Reviews – very positive ("I found myself very, very appreciative for everything this episode did.")

Cuddlepug – fairly positive (graded B; "standard set-up [but] the tales themselves are entertaining")

Derpy News – positive (graded A-; "a pleasant episode ... and a nice tie-in to the comics")

Louder Yay – fairly negative (two stars; loved Rainbow's affection for Scootaloo but found much of the rest lacking)

TheDragonWarlock – mixed (graded B-; "does a decent job [but] doesn't hold a candle to ['Sleepless in Ponyville']")

Thrond Media Pony Corner – mixed (rated 53%; "some charm to be found in the framing story [but] flimsy"; Scoots is terrible)

Friday, 1 September 2017

Pony Music Library 46: "Sweetie's Big Race - FiW REMIX"


What? "Sweetie's Big Race - FiW REMIX"

Who? Toastwaffle

Which? Friendship is Witchcraft remix

When? April 2012

Why? I've always loved Friendship is Witchcraft. It remains my favourite abridged series – ahead of Mentally Advanced, ahead of Scootertrix, ahead of everything. And among its best features were the original songs that gradually became more interesting as the series went on. "Sweetie's Big Race" (from episode 5, "Neigh, Soul Sister") is a fun little piece even in its original form, with Sweetie Bot putting a whole new spin on the events of "Sisterhood Social". Toastwaffle's version, though, picks up the pace, adds some unbearably catchy instrumentals and makes Sweetie Bot's vocals seem a little more menacing – as, in the context of FiW, they probably should be.

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Tips for UK PonyCon-goers 6: I Yam What I Yam

Time we had another one of these! Today's tip is one I've felt quite strongly about ever since I first attended UK PonyCon in 2014:

Tip 6: Enjoy UK PonyCon for what it is, and don't fret over what it isn't

UK PonyCon is not quite like other pony conventions. Its all-generations coverage and long history are the most obvious manifestations of this, but not the only ones. When you attend UKPC, bear this in mind. If you go in expecting the experience to be what you had at Everfree Northwest or BronyCon or even BUCK, you're likely to be disappointed. That isn't what UK PonyCon is about. It's something unique.

Connected to this: be careful how you compare UKPC to other events. While many people will be delighted to hear some tales of your experiences at other conventions, they won't be as impressed if you constantly come across as complaining because it's not as loud as BUCK's Summer Sun Celebration or as posh as GalaCon's gala or full of show guests like BABSCon. You'll be missing the point.

If, like most of us, you started with Friendship is Magic, UK PonyCon has been in this fandom a lot longer than you have. Conventions don't survive into double figures of iterations just by chance. Go in with an open mind and an acceptance that while this con has plenty of similarities with others, there are a number of differences too, and you're likely to have a much happier time at this great event.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Ponyfic Roundup 171: If You're Going to Make Words, At Least Make Them Fabulous

Rarity's comment is going to be stuck in my head for ages, I know it! Anyway, onward:

Read it Later story count: 398 (+1)

Three more fics today. I was hoping it would be four, but things happened. It's very annoying when things happen. I really wish they wouldn't do that. Here's this week's selection o' stuff. Just a reminder that a story I feel is average gets two stars, not three. Right:

Apple Sense by Godzillawolf
A Fragile Heart by Newtaloo
The Lighthouse and the Sea by The Cyan Recluse

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

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

UK PonyCon SOLD OUT, meal tickets available

UK PonyCon 2017 is now completely sold out. That's the third year running that the convention has managed a full house, so congratulations to everyone who's worked so hard to get to this point. With 800 of us due to descend on Bristol this time, I'm really looking forward to 21st October!

Another bit of news: you can now buy tickets for the yearly institution that is the UK PonyCon dinner. This is separately ticketed from the main convention, though you must have a con ticket to be eligible. As there are no suitable restaurants near the venue, the committee have arranged for coach travel to and from Frankie & Benny's a mile or so away; it's along a busy dual carriageway, so I think that's a reasonable approach.

The dinner costs £20 and includes a set menu (any two courses from starter, main and dessert), draught soft drinks and the above-mentioned coach transport. The meal will be at 6pm on Saturday evening and full details can be found in daisyd's thread on the UKPC forum. Tickets are strictly limited and are not expected to last all that long – after all, they certainly can't fit 800 people in F&B! ;)

For myself? The meal isn't something I've gone for in past years, and I probably won't this year either – though knowing me, by the time I decide the tickets will be sold out anyway! I tend not to be all that hungry on Saturday evening, and in any case I had a huge meal with the Worcester ponymeet people just a few days ago. Still, if the thought appeals to you, get buying those tickets!

Monday, 28 August 2017

Episode Review: S7E16: "Campfire Tales"

Scootaloo and Rainbow Dash being adorable sisters
Just give me 22 minutes of this and I'll give you five stars
We had a new writing team for this episode: Barry Safchick and Michael Platt. I don't know a thing about either of them, so I was going in blind as to what to expect. I did know that this was a sort-of follow-up to "Sleepless in Ponyville", the first episode I reviewed on this blog and still one of my all-time favourites. Could this new ep live up to its illustrious predecessor?

Sunday, 27 August 2017

M-rated favourites

I have 218 stories on my Fimfiction Favourites list. Of these, only five are Mature-rated – and one of those is Fallout: Equestria. That's a bit of a law unto itself, and also happens to be the only one which has a [Gore] tag – the other four are M-rated for the [Sex] tag. These are they:

Ribbons and Lace by Jot Jiggety Jog (PR 111) – one of the few explicit clopfics that can fairly be called a love story, this RariShy fic won me over despite the early-series characterisations (it was written in mid-2012). Sex scenes that are actually sexy rather than unintentionally cringy help it to its four-star status, too. Only the LUS, intrusive even by the standards of its day, stopped it getting a five, and it was an easy four even so. I was impressed that I could enjoy a story featuring Fluttershy in such a situation, too.

Proofreading Clopfics Sucks by idiotcornball (PR 112) – the only story in the entire 218 that isn't marked complete. I broke my usual rule because this story's episodic nature means that isn't too much of a problem. Also, in its guilty-pleasure way, it's hilarious and despite slightly variable levels of comedy I think it's worth its four-star rating. Don't read it in public, though. Especially Pinkie's chapter. I mean this!

Lust by Taialin (PR 138) – RariShy (well, "Flarity") again. This is the third part of an increasingly adult (in multiple senses) trilogy, and in my view the best, though I'd strongly advise reading both prequels first. Part of the reason I gave this the full five stars was that I can empathise somewhat with Rarity. The full details are a little too personal for me to go into, but Rarity's narration is brilliant, the explicitness is appropriate and the resolution is satisfying.

When the Levee Breaks by A Hoof-ful of Dust (PR 150) – a RariJackDash fic chock-full of sex, physical and otherwise (which is important), but just using the word "clop" almost demeans it. If you want to see erotic ponyfic, this is it. The substantial amount of POV-hopping actually works in its favour for me, and the atmosphere the author creates is intense and in fact thrilling. This one also got the highest rating from me.

Leaving aside Proofreading Clopfics Sucks, the second-funniest sex comedy I've read here (behind Cold in Gardez's T-rated Naked Singularity), there's a common denominator between the fics: Rarity. This actually slightly surprised me, as Rarity fics are not always among my favourites. She might also be considered a little obvious a choice for this sort of story. Nevertheless, in the three non-comedy fics here, she absolutely shines.

The stories are also all stories – I have very little interest in fics that are nothing but clop. They don't just show us the ponies in question falling into bed, but take the time to show us how they got there in a way I can buy. On top of that, their explicit scenes aren't (as sometimes happens) a place where the actual writing takes a nose-dive. These ponies don't stop their character development just because they're having sex.

As most of you know, I don't read many M-rated ponyfics, but that's not because I have any rooted objection to them. While I do have a few no-go areas (foalcon being the heaviest red line of all), that still leaves plenty. I generally do prefer my MLP fiction to be all-ages stuff, and I see no sign of that changing, but these few stories have convinced me to keep Mature stories in mind occasionally.

(Since you ask, I currently have five M-rated stories on my RiL list. Out of 398, yes.)

Friday, 25 August 2017

Text Review Roundup: "Triple Threat"

You know, I think I might continue TRR for a while now. It's less time-consuming than some of the other stuff I do here, so I can still fit it in despite all the non-Pony things going on in my life right now. (Not terrible things, just things that take up time I'd rather use writing about talking horses.)

I've dropped Cuddlepug from this now, as virtually nothing beyond the grade he gives actually qualifies as an episode review in the conventional sense. Darke Raven doesn't seem to have written one this week at all. However, we welcome a new source in The Southern Nerd. Always good to see new text-based reviewers!

Batbrony Reviews – generally positive ("It wasn't great, it wasn't bad, it was good.")

Derpy News – fairly positive (graded B; "good because of and despite some awkward moments")

Louder Yay – fairly positive (three stars; "another entertaining episode [though] the problem could have been sorted out with about three seconds' logical thought")

The Southern Nerd – positive ("Both Ember and Thorax came off as charming")

TheDragonWarlock – fairly positive (graded B; "the Spike streak is still going strong")

Thrond Media Pony Corner – fairly positive (rated 70%; "Despite the rote plot, the episode is frequently entertaining")

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Tips for UK PonyCon-goers 5: Drink for the thirst to come

Time for another one of these little tips. As usual, they're mostly aimed at first-time con-goers who don't really know what to expect, but if they help anyone else then I'll be happy!

Tip 5: Stay hydrated

This one is really important. In all the excitement and adrenalin of UK PonyCon, you may not feel thirsty or realise how little you've had to drink – but that could come back to bite you hard later on. You're likely to be using more energy than usual, as well as being active for two pretty long days, so keeping those H0 levels topped up is absolutely imperative.

UK PonyCon allows you to take your own water/soft drinks in, which helps – though water is heavy, you need it. The café and bar are open for most of each day, and there should be free tap water available somewhere; ask one of the staff if you can't find any. Don't make all your liquid intake alcoholic, caffeinated or fizzy, as your body won't thank you for it later.

It's hard to say exactly how much water you'll need in the day, as there are many variables – not least how hot the venue is – but I usually take a 500ml bottle of plain water and add a few more drinks with meals. You'll also need to have something to keep your throat moist if you're doing karaoke/singalong sessions. But seriously, this tip matters.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Ponyfic Roundup 170: In That Case I'll Have a Rum and Coca-Cola

Real Life has got even busier since last time, so I'm afraid underweight editions of Ponyfic Roundup may be the norm for a little while. I hope things will gradually return to normal in the autumn, but we'll see. At least I have one tiny achievement to report:

Read it Later story count: 397 (-7)

Today I have a mere three stories for you, but hopefully there'll be something in here that catches your eye. Today's fics are:

Wet Feathers by bookplayer
Minuette's Lesson by Airstream
My Even Tinier Ponies by Benman

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

Monday, 21 August 2017

Episode review: E7S15: "Triple Threat"

Starlight and Twilight looking angrily at Ember
Clearly the writers are still a little bit in meta mode
Another episode exactly a week from the last, without any other TV station deciding to get in early? What sorcery is this? Still, it makes things easier for the likes of me. "Triple Threat" was written by Josh Hamilton, who wrote the excellent "Parental Glideance", so I was hoping for the significant improvement in Spikeisode quality of late to be maintained. Past the cut we go!

Saturday, 19 August 2017

UK PonyCon update: only Saturday tickets left now!

Things are moving pretty fast in the UK PonyCon world, it seems, and the Weekend and Sunday tickets are now completely sold out. Saturday tickets are still available, but who knows how long that will be the case? You probably know by now, but here's the ticket store. As before, linking directly as it has up-to-date info, but if you want more general information about the convention then go here.

Friday, 18 August 2017

Text Review Roundup: "Fame and Misfortune"

Yes, it's back! Now that everyone's on the same page again, it seemed to be worth giving TRR a go once more. There aren't as many text-based reviews as I'd like, perhaps because some of the usual suspects were at BronyCon when the episode went out, but never mind. I may continue to do TRR for the rest of the season, but that depends on the schedulers around the world.

This episode was generally fairly well received by the usual Fimfiction reviewers, with the notable exception of Bad Horse, who really disliked it. Here's how reviewers on other sites reacted:

Batbrony Reviews – mixed ("Certainly not bad [but] quite odd to watch to say the least")

Cuddlepug – negative (graded C-; "would have been far more timely three years ago")

Darke Raven – mostly positive (rated 4/5; "an overall good episode that just needs more done with it")

Derpy News – fairly positive (graded B; "lessons for all of us [but] pretty harsh")

Louder Yay – very positive (four stars; "tremendously entertaining")

TheDragonWarlock – mixed (graded C; "okay at best"; some jokes have dated)

Thrond Media Pony Corner – rather negative (rated 45%; "I just don't find this kind of story especially fun")