Tuesday, 28 February 2017

What does Logan review the most?

It's stats time again! All the numbers this time relate to reviews published in Ponyfic Roundup from the beginning through no. 146, a total of 753 stories. I'm doing this purely for fun, using the stats I have in Calibre. Still, I thought, why not share this fun with my readers? On second thoughts, please don't answer that question.

Most reviewed authors
10: Blueshift
9: Cold in Gardez
8: PresentPerfect
7: The Descendant
6: shortskirtsandexplosions, xjuggernaughtx
5: Akumokagetsu, Chris, FanOfMostEverything, Skywriter, Twinkletail

I stopped at this point since there are any number of authors who've had four reviews. Most of the list isn't very surprising. Akumokagetsu makes it in because I read all the Evil Belle stories in quick succession. I'm not sure why Twinkletail is there; it's ages since I've read one of their fics. There are a few major omissions, but that's in part because I've always tried to give an airing to less popular writers.

Most popular character tags
223: Twilight
187: OC
142: Rainbow Dash
135: Celestia
115: Mane Six
113: Fluttershy
104: Other
102: Luna
75: Spike
74: Pinkie Pie
69: Applejack
65: Rarity
51: Scootaloo

The big finding here is that last week's Fluttershy special was not only necessary but should be repeated as soon as possible. :P I was initially a little surprised that Celestia was quite so high up the list, but it turns out that she has more tagged stories on Fimfiction than anyone else – slightly ahead even of Twilight.

Most popular genre tags
400: Slice of Life
252: Comedy
153: Sad
128: Romance
119: Dark
109: Random
106: Adventure
56: Alternate Universe
50: Tragedy

I like my Slice of Life stories, so that result is no shock. Romance is a little higher up the table than I would have predicted, given that I'm really not much of a shipper. (I've reviewed one Braeburn-tagged story!) None of the newer genre tags get anywhere near this list; topping those so far is Horror, on a mighty seven reviews.

Monday, 27 February 2017

Comic mini-review: Friends Forever #37: Rarity and Trixie

MLP Friends Forever cover #37, showing Rarity and Trixie

Here's the penultimate Friends Forever issue, and it's an interesting team-up – especially when you consider that Sapphire Shores is also involved. Actually, Sapphire is my favourite character here, if you don't count a fun cameo by Babs Seed. (Let's face it, comic cameos are all she'll ever get now.) The Whitley/Garbowska/Breckel team does its usual solid-but-not-amazing job. Continuity is a problem, though: the level of antagonism Rarity has for Trixie seems to be several years out of date, especially given 2014's Gem Thief arc, and it grates badly. Frustrating, because I think this plotline had four-star potential. As it is, an uninspiring three. ★★★

Friday, 24 February 2017

Pony Music Library 39: "Beyond Her Garden"

What with everything that's been happening lately, it's been almost a month since I've added to the PML. That's too long! Today, a real Golden (Harvest) Oldie:


What? "Beyond Her Garden"

Who? WoodenToaster/Glaze

Which? Original song

When? October 2011

Why? Nostalgia has a lot to do with this one, as "Beyond Her Garden" was one of the first brony songs I ever heard, back in spring 2012 – and it wasn't new even then! This sort of somewhat glitchy electronic... stuff (you can see my technical knowledge is coming on apace) has rarely been my favourite genre, but I like a surprising amount of such songs in this fandom. Why this one in particular, then? I don't know. But it's still the best Carrot Top song around, more than five years after it arrived.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Some thoughts on the recent announcements from Hasbro

The Toy Fair announcements have been coming thick and fast, but most of them have involved actual products. Not all, however, and today I'm going to give some brief thoughts on a couple of really interesting things we now know. Major spoilers for Season Seven and the movie after the break! Don't come any further if you don't want to see them!

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Ponyfic Roundup 146: Love is Like a Fluttershy

According to Singularity Dream's Big Master Review List (one of the great unsung achievements of our fandom), around 8,300 ponyfics have been reviewed. Considering that there are over 106,000 stories on Fimfiction, plus many more scattered around other sites, this means the great majority of fics have never featured in a review at all. Food for thought.

Read it Later story count: 482 (-2)

No, today's post title doesn't mean this will be a shipfest. I just couldn't resist the reference. As you will know if you read my endnote last week, today is a Fluttershy special. There are actually fewer than 5,000 completed stories on Fimfiction with the "Fluttershy" tag; given this disgraceful situation, I very much feel the need to actually write the one I keep thinking about give some of the Flutterfics that are there some publicity. So here goes:

It's an Easy Feat by TailsIsNotAlone
We Live in a Kind World by shortskirtsandexplosions
Wingmares by CouchCrusader
Fluttershy's Sick Day by Everyday
If I Fell by A Hoof-ful of Dust
Dead Nuthatch by PresentPerfect
The Proper Care and Feeding of Monsters by Cold in Gardez

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

Monday, 20 February 2017

UK PonyCon 2017 theme revealed!

We've known for ages that UK PonyCon would definitely be returning for 2017, but I must admit I wasn't expecting any further news for a few weeks yet. However, there is some! According to DaisyD, Communications person on the con committee, the theme for this year will be Wild West and Rodeo! The reaction to the announcement has been very positive, and personally I think it's a great idea. I'm sure it's Applejack Approved, too! :P

The other big announcements before we can all start planning will be when the con is, plus host town/city, specific venue and ticket details. I don't expect any of those for a bit longer yet, but I'm looking forward to it already!

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Non, je ne regrette rien...

I know the Hasbro News Splurge Machine has revealed/spoiled about 837 things in the last two days, and we've also had the first significant piece of UK PonyCon 2017 news beyond the fact that it's actually happening, but my thoughts on those things can wait a day or two longer. I've had to delay today's post long enough as it is.

The headline today isn't actually entirely true, but what the hay. And there isn't really a single-word antonym for "regret" (as a noun), is there? Oh well. Here is the promised companion piece to last week's post. This time round, I'll talk about aspects of three of my fics that I do feel happy with. To avoid going over too much old ground, I'm deliberately not choosing either It Doesn't Matter Now or We Who with Songs Beguile, although I do certainly still like both of those.

1. Ever Let the Fancy Roam
This is not one of my best known stories, but it is one I very much like – ending perhaps apart, as it's not the strongest. What gets it into this list is the interaction between Fancy Pants and his butler Silver Cloud: I got a pretty brutal review first up in the comments, but I don't regret writing the dialogue as I did. Actually, that's why this story is here: because I'm very satisfied with the voices I gave both of them. I keep meaning to go back to these two, but apart from one passing mention of SC in Starlight Repeatedly Teleports into Custard, it hasn't happened yet.

2. The Unbearable Lightness of Bucking
For a start, I doubt there's another story on Fimfiction with the (unintentional) prompt "existentialist fruit story". More to the point, though, a wide enough variety of readers have liked this for me to be reasonably confident that it works decently enough as a simple character piece. However, if you know even a little philosophy, you'll quickly realise that I'm not just inventing Neightzsche's thoughts on apple pies or Haydigger's Ruminations on Ontological Discourse. The central mystery is a tad forced, but it couldn't really be otherwise – and it's a story I still like to read for fun. It also made me enjoy writing Applejack more than I used to.

3. Where They Understand You
This is far from being a perfect fic – indeed, I mentioned it briefly at the end of last week's post – and substantial parts of it have been overtaken by canon, especially since "Flutter Brutter" went out. Nevertheless, the basic plot of this story remains my favourite headcanon about how the young Rainbow ended up living in Ponyville, and to show her deepening friendship with the young Fluttershy, as well as 'Shy's commitment to her calling. I like Rainbow explaining why flying down is a bigger thing than flying up. It also has my favourite final line of any fic I've written.

Bubbling under: Silver Buck's tale in To Be the Candle, the premise (if not the writing) of Clouded Minds, the sheer cute cheesiness of The Light that Ignites in the Dark. Also, custard. As before, yell at me if you think I should have chosen something else!

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Oh.

We're getting more MLP in 2018 – though, as several people have pointed out, we haven't explicitly been told that this means a full season.

Back to big-screen Pony now. Courtesy of Meghan McCarthy, via EQD, we have one-line descriptions of each of the main guest characters in My Little Pony: The Movie. And they're... well... come past the break if you like.

Friday, 17 February 2017

So, about those character reveals...

Note: this was accidentally posted yesterday, along with the keyboard-related post. I wanted to give it a day to itself, so I deleted yesterday's post and re-posted this today. The article itself has not been changed.

The other day, we were treated to a chunk of information regarding My Little Pony: The Movie – to wit, no fewer than seven guest character announcements to go with the one we already had. There's also been an apparently genuine synopsis reveal on a Polish site. Like just about everyone else in the fandom, I have my views on these. I don't really consider these to count as spoilers, but for now at least I'll put a break here for the sake of anyone who is attempting the (I suspect impossible) task of avoiding any news at all.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Argos keyboard offer

Microsoft Wired 600 keyboard
The Calculator button even works in Linux :P
I recently became fed up with the awful quality of my HP K45 keyboard (looks like this, but isn't). It might be okay for people who occasionally press the odd button, but for actual typing it's terrible – it's much too light, has poor feedback and feels like something from Poundland. Actually, I wouldn't recommend it even at a quid, it's that bad.

Since I don't have the cash sloshing around to buy a really nice keyboard – and don't think I could bear the noise of a mechanical one anyway – I needed a cheap replacement. But what? I hadn't been impressed by the Logitech K120, or those Trust keyboards you see in places like Wilko. The HP was so bad that I needed something right now.

And look what Argos have right now: the venerable Microsoft Wired 600 for a mere £7.49! (It was actually £7.99 when I bought it. Huh.) The offer only applies to the white version – they don't even stock the black one – and a few stores are running low on supplies. Nevertheless, my local Argos had one so I snapped it up immediately.

In use, it's very much a budget keyboard, with slightly wobbly keys and the occasional very quiet squeak, but it's approximately a million times nicer to type on than the HP. The keys are a little soft, but they're reasonably responsive and pretty quiet. The small Esc and function keys are a bit of a shame, but it's by no means a deal-breaker.

The keyboard is very slightly concave, with the lowest row of letters and space bar tilted slightly away. I got used to this very quickly, but then I'm not a touch typist. And to set minds at rest, the one Argos sell is the UK layout: big return key, double-quote on the two and all. The picture that heads this post is of the one I bought!

It's odd, but MS have made decent cheap peripherals most of the time, even when their operating systems were terrible. The 600 continues the line. My personal view is that at the price Argos are asking, it destroys anything else available. You'd probably have to spend three times the amount to get anything appreciably better.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Ponyfic Roundup 145: Lovely Rice Pudding for Dinner Again

When I was little, my favourite tea consisted of Heinz spaghetti somethings in tomato sauce (hoops, alphabetti, numberelli, whatever) followed by rice pudding and jam. Preferably sitting in front of the football results on Grandstand, despite the fact that I had nearly no interest in football.

Read it Later story count: 484 (nc)

We're back to mixed bag territory on Ponyfic Roundup this week, and I'm kicking off with a story that many people will probably look at once and pass over. I did the same thing several times before forcing myself to sit down and read it properly. This week, there are six stories to go through, as follows:

Pinkamena's Wake by GroaningGreyAgony
Pointless Pursuits by JC
We by Sessalisk
All's Well That Ends Well by billymorph
Pipsqueak Plod and the Quest for Crackers by Kegisak
A Good Filly by Orbiting Kettle

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

Monday, 13 February 2017

Most and Least Rewatchable: Season Six

I have of course noted the character reveals for My Little Pony: The Movie, and I'll be giving my thoughts on those in the near future. Something else for now, though.

Starlight Glimmer singing in "A Hearth's Warming Tail"
And the Muppets can go, too!
I've been promising to do this for ages, but with Season Seven in the offing it's probably now time I got on with the S6 edition of this. I think enough time has now elapsed for me to have a fair idea of which episodes I enjoy watching again. S6 had a lot of "decent, but could have been better" eps, ranging from "P.P.O.V." to "Spice Up Your Life", so this wasn't quite as easy to decide as the S5 list. Past the break you can see what I eventually plumped for.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Regrets, I've had a few...

And now, a post I wrote months ago and kept forgetting about. That's me all over.

Having published more than 20 stories on Fimfiction now, it's hardly a surprise that not everything has worked out exactly the way I'd have liked. In this post, I'll pick out three stories where I'd change at least one thing if I could rewind time. Don't worry: this won't simply be a "woe is me" exercise in self-flagellation, since I'll follow up next week with a companion piece talking about three stories I am happy to have written as I did.

Edit: in the light of Pascoite's comment below, I realise I haven't been clear. This is not a list of "my worst stories". It's a list of specific problems I have with those stories. None of these fics would come bottom of my personal favourites list. And no, I'm not going to tell you (at least, not now) which one would!

1. For an Angel to Pass
This choice is unlikely to surprise anyone. When I wrote this story, way back in the spring of 2013, I deliberately avoided explicitly identifying the POV character until right at the end. The snag with having done this is that, for readers who are paying any attention at all, the mystery is non-existent. I still quite like the story in itself, and most of my readers seem to appreciate it too, but if I were writing the fic now I would make it a straight slice of life piece and remove any mystery element. (You may notice that I haven't added the [Mystery] tag.)

2. One Hell of a Party
This I submitted to EQD way back when, confidently expecting to get back a one-line "Thanks, but it really needs work" response. Instead, the pre-reader generously provided a detailed list of comments and suggestions. I rebelled against their final and most significant suggestion in the end, and so didn't resubmit the story, because I didn't want the thing to be more than jokey fluff. I still don't, really, but I wish I'd at least pushed harder to see what would result. There is a silver lining: those comments have certainly made some of my later stories better than they otherwise would have been.

3. Sunset's Sales Snag
I'm irritated with myself in two ways as far as this fic is concerned. First, I apparently annoyed some of my readers by slapping an overly cautious [Sex] tag on it. While I suppose there's a case for said tag given an underlying theme, I feel happier with it gone. Second, the ending was dreadful, with a horrible choice for the name used at the end. The ending I have there now isn't exactly amazing, but it's better than it was. This fic has by far the worst thumbscore balance of anything I've written, and it didn't need to have. My fault.

Bubbling under: cramming too many characters into The 20 Percent Solution, having a subplot peter out in Where They Understand You, the pathetic yet irritatingly popular 11th entry in Friendship is Poetry. By all means yell at me in the comments to tell me where else I made a hash of things! :D

Thursday, 9 February 2017

The Custardverse Awakes!

Back in October, I published Starlight Repeatedly Teleports into Custard. For a joke (as if the fic itself wasn't enough of one already) I declared that it was the first story in the Custardverse. I confidently expected it also to be the last story in the Custardverse, at least until such time as I was silly enough to write a sequel myself.

But no! Guiding Breeze has now produced a Custardverse fic of his own. That's right, folks: my universe has its first side story. A pretty weird feeling, I can tell you. It's not canon to the 'verse, as such, but does that matter? Nope. If you're interested in seeing someone else's take on the custard thing, you can check it out here:

by Guiding Breeze

The Custardverse itself is an open universe, with the exception that I ain't accepting M-rated fics to the group. Don't think I don't know who you are. :P

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Ponyfic Roundup 144: Return to the Royal Canterlot Library

Season Seven will premiere in April. I'd guess at 15 April, since that's Easter Saturday, which is when both S5 and S6 premiered. Time to get those hiatus fanfics finished!

Read it Later story count: 484 (nc)

It shouldn't be any real surprise that I've decided to have another look at the RCL's collection, since it's served me quite well in the past. I've occasionally said that, in general, a fic needs to get four stars for me to recommend it here. I've also said that there are rare exceptions – and one of those exceptions is in this week's batch of stories. Here are the six stories I'm reviewing:

How Equestria Was Made by Feo Takahari
Lapidify: To See And Die by Impossible Numbers
That's All by Archmage Ludicrous
The Old Country by Astrarian
Appletheosis by DuncanR
Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger by A Hoof-ful of Dust

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

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

More boring reviewing stats

Present Perfect has reviewed Through the Well of Pirene. This is bad news, since I'd decided in my head that the story was so bloody long that I was only going to tackle it if it got 5/5. And you can guess what happened. So, at some point this year (I'm not being more specific than that!) it will become the second-longest ponyfic I've reviewed. One for the e-reader in the garden this summer, I think.

Anyway, on to the promised stats. Let's look at the star ratings I've awarded over the years, with the old out-of-ten scores converted in the usual way (grade boundaries at 4, 6, 8 and 9). Out of the 734 stories I've reviewed up to PR 143 (inclusive), this is the breakdown:

★★★★★: 34 (4.63%)
★★★★: 153 (20.84%)
★★★: 282 (38.42%)
★★: 199 (27.11%)
★: 66 (8.99%)

Some thoughts on this, plus more rambling, past the break.

Monday, 6 February 2017

Comic not-as-mini-as-usual review: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #50

Some excellent oval-ball sport last night. I mean rugby union, obviously. Italy 7 Wales 33 was a decent enough result, though until the last 20 minutes it was a bit of a nail-biter. Sadly I can't see Wales winning the championship, but I'd love them to beat England. (For those unaware: I am in fact English, but for various reasons I support Wales at rugby.)

IDW MLP comic #50 main cover by Andy Price
Andy Price's main cover hits just the right note
The "Accord" arc comes to a close with the landmark 50th issue of the MLP comic. And I'm pleased to say that it does so in some style. While Ted Anderson's story doesn't totally blow me away, nor does it seem like the horrible let-down I'd slightly feared. Accord's own story concludes reasonably, Starlight is used in a sensible way, there's a nice visit from some old friends (not ponies) and the final page – though a bit cheesy – is fine for a celebratory issue like this. I'd have preferred a tad less fourth-wall breaking before that, but still. Andy Price's art is bright, colourful (thanks to Heather Breckel) and varied, which is expected but appreciated.

This being a special (and more expensive!) issue, there's also a ten-page backup story. The writing, by Jeremy Whitley, is pleasant fluff: lightweight fun in the style of a short Friends Forever comic. There are even (doubtless unintentional) echoes of Sunny Skies All Day Long. The art is by Jay Fosgitt; I don't hate his stuff in the way some fans do, and for the ponies it's fine. The way he does Discord, though, just looks weird, and I simply can't accept a draconequus drawn the same size as a regular pony. A shame, as this lets down an otherwise entertaining story.

So, the issue as a whole? Very enjoyable, with a few irritations that stop it being the truly superb comic that would have made issue #50 something for the ages. I still recommend it, though, and indeed the whole arc. Not great, then, but it is very good. ★★★★

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Some reviewing milestones

My cough is just beginning to recede, but I'm still a way from being fully recovered, so you're getting another small and fairly pointless post today. The next significant one, other than the next Ponyfic Roundup, should be the review of main-series comic #50, which I hope to get out within a few days now.

Today, though: thanks to the updated BMRL and my own updated list in Calibre, I have a reasonable idea of how many reviews I've done for Ponyfic Roundup. My numbers still don't quite match Singularity Dream's, partly since we update at a different rate, and partly because unlike me, he counts the occasional posts in which I've looked at my own older fics. Up to and including the most recent PR (no. 143) I reckon I've reviewed 734 ponyfics. And the milestone reviews – first, then every fiftieth – are these:

First: The Best Night Ever by Capn_Chryssalid (PR 1, obviously)
50th: The Price by Vimbert the Unimpressive (PR 11)
100th: Flying Hard by terrycloth (PR 22)
150th: A True, True Friend? by Blazewing (PR 32)
200th: Fluttershy and Celestia Play Chess by BronyWriter (PR 42)

250th: Tea with The Queen by Lapis-Lazuli and Stitch (PR 50)
300th: Temporary Hiatus by TheMessenger (PR 63)
350th: Fluttershy Sits Down With Lyra For a Day by Church (PR 73)
400th: Griffon it Another Try by Winston (PR 82)
450th: The Best Job in Equestria by Mooncalf (PR 90)

500th: The Wrong Side of Tomorrow by Pascoite (PR 99)
550th: Twilight Likes to Read, A Lot by Saakra (PR 108)
600th: Whom the Princesses Would Destroy by GhostOfHeraclitus (PR 120)
650th: The Epic Battle Of Good Versus Slightly Less Good But Still Pretty Good In The Long Run by Akumokagetsu (PR 130)
700th: The Keepers of Discord by Hoopy McGee (PR 138)

There's some good stuff in there, but in every case it's a pure accident that it coincided with a milestone – especially as I didn't even have an accurate number until now. And in case anyone's wondering: no, I don't intend to seek out anything particularly special for my 750th review. I might do so for my 1,000th – but there's a long, long way to go before I reach that milestone! Possible themes for PR 150 are occupying my mind more as far as that sort of thing is concerned.

I may inflict further pointless statistics on you at some point in the not too distant future. This shouldn't come as too much of a surprise.

Friday, 3 February 2017

Quick art post (not mine, I hasten to add!)

Flutter Rock by SambaNeko

I'm feeling pretty grotty at the moment, with a cough that refuses to go away, so I hope you'll forgive me if I confine myself to a cute picture of Best Pony today. (I know, I know, "cute" in connection with 'Shy is usually a redundant adjective.) I hope to post something else this week, but no promises unless I feel a bit better by then. I have been keeping up with reading, though, so whatever happens there'll be a Ponyfic Roundup next Wednesday as usual.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Ponyfic Roundup 143: Semi-random Edition

Read it Later story count: 482 (-2)

Something new this week: while I did think about going the whole hog and making this another edition where I was guided by the whims of the random number generator (as with PR 102), I decided to postpone that for now. It'll still happen, but a bit later on. This time, I'm still making use of the RNG, but using it simply to pick stories from a pool consisting of those already on my RiL list. I hope this method will give me a better hit rate than I had in PR 102! Six stories this week:

A Friend of a Friend by 8686
Out in the Cold by EsperDerek
Maud's Cutie Mark Story by My Little Scribbler
A Taste of Meat by InsertAuthorHere
Ghost of a Rose by Noble Thought
Fallout: Equestria - A Mare Worth Fighting For by Pacce

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