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")

Thursday, 17 August 2017

UK PonyCon news: Final wave of tickets, promo video

With little more than two months to go until UK PonyCon 2017, things seem to be ramping up at their HQ. I'll get to the big ticket news in a minute, but first there's a small promo video out, which you can see above. It's certainly not over the top – in fact, I think it slightly undersells the convention, which after all had an attendance of 750 last year – but it does get across that this isn't like the usual run of brony cons around the world.

This year, the con is heading to be the largest ever, with attendance topping the 800 mark. Extra space in the venue has been arranged, and the third and final wave of tickets has gone on sale. Notably, these see an extra tranche of Saturday-only tickets, which had previously been marked as sold out. Sunday-only and the all-important Weekend passes are also still available, as are Stallholder tickets. Update 18/8: only Saturday tickets now remain!

At the time of writing, the Tickets page had not been fully updated and still said that Saturday tickets were unavailable. This is not the case! If you go straight to the ticket store, you'll see the correct information, along with the information that stocks of all tickets are now running low. They seem to have reached the point at which "When they're gone, they're gone" – so if you fancy joining the fun in Bristol, buy your tickets now!

The UKPC folks have said that more announcements are on the way, so I'll talk about the more significant ones here as they happen. Yes, the convention does have its own social media accounts, but I'll try to make my posts less promotional in nature – and yes, if there's something that disappoints me, I'll say so. I truly do love this event, though, so don't expect me to lay into it because of some minor nitpick. :)

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Ponyfic Roundup 169: Let the Sky Fall

I note that iisaw has finished The Skyla Pseudonym. That means I can read it! And yes, I intend to give it a spotlight here in due course. I'm really looking forward to reading this.

Read it Later story count: 404 (+2)

I'm still awfully busy with stuff not related to this blog, so it's been a struggle to find time to read. I know I don't have to do this at all, but I enjoy it! At least I've managed a slight increase over the story count from last week. Here's this time's selection:

What's In The Box? by naturalbornderpy
Voyage's End by The DM
To Love the Sun by Magello
Numberography by ph00tbag
Daring Do and the Curse of Ahuizotl by horizon

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

Monday, 14 August 2017

Episode review: S7E14: "Fame and Misfortune"

Ponies arguing about who the Best Pony is
Not having the internet, Equestrians have to live the EqD comments section
Aaaand we're back! Everyone's back on the same page as far as schedule is concerned, and we're returning with a bang in the shape of an episode written by none other than M. A. Larson. Well, sort of. Maybe. The man himself seems distinctly unhappy about being credited, though I do wonder how much of that is because of this episode and how much other experiences. As far as this blog is concerned, the name on the screen is the name that gets tagged, so Larson it is. Beyond the cut!

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Fair warning

Anyone who tells me to "go and see the movie right now" or whatever just after 6th October when it's not even out in the UK for another fortnight, I will track you down and I will take your cider. All of it!

Friday, 11 August 2017

I'm a stranger here myself

There's a new S7 episode out tomorrow – as in new for all of us. I'm really looking forward to everyone being able to watch on the same day again, and I might even go so far as to revive Text Review Roundup next week. That's not a promise, as it depends on how many text-based reviewers are still in the game after the mess of the last few months' scheduling. (I'll still review it!)

To the main point of this post. I've been active in this fandom for more than five years now, and I'm comfortable with my place in it. I've been writing here since late 2012. Yet I still feel something of an outsider, and that goes especially for the fanfic/writing part of the game. You might think that odd, given how much time I spend on it these days, but it's very much the case.

Possibly part of this is that a lot of you guys are Americans who get to socialise together at the large conventions you have over there – cons which sometimes have multiple writing-based events. I can count the people I've met who have strong name recognition within the international ponyfic community on the fingers of one hand – and the most famous one of those (Blueshift) isn't really active any more.

My relatively late and low-key entry into being an active Fimfictioner might be a factor, too. I spent much of 2013 semi-absent from Fimf after a major personal upset – it's no accident that I didn't start Ponyfic Roundup until 2014. That also meant that in 2013 I barely even looked at EqD, didn't really participate in the (then) still very active writers' training grounds and the like, etc.

Possibly another aspect is that so many people around the ponyfic world seem terrifyingly clever. I've mentioned Bad Horse's scary blogs before, and the equally scary comments thereon, but that's far from being the only example. I read a blog in which someone lightly references the Riemann hypothesis or the Christianisation of Lithuania or whatever, and I can feel my brain heating up.

Please don't get the idea I worry about this. I'm more than comfortable with keeping on in my own small way, writing occasionally, going to smaller-scale social events and cons, and shoving out these rambly blogs. Largely for health reasons, I'm unlikely to be able to travel thousands of miles for a con anyway, and I have zero interest in loud, alcohol-or-other-drug-of-choice-fuelled parties.

I do wonder, though, whether all this helps to explain why I choose the stories I do to review. Right from the start, I've made a conscious effort to read plenty of fics that aren't among the acknowledged classics, or even at all well known. I think that, as something of an outsider here myself, I find myself sympathetic to other outsiders and drawn to give time to what they've produced.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Ponyfic Roundup 168: The Beard that's Feared

Read it Later story count: 403 (-1)

A very small edition today, because I've been both very busy and very tired lately. Also distracted by Moeen Ali's heroics for England in the cricket. What a player he's become in the last couple of years; he should be among the first names on the Ashes team-sheet. Anyway, returning to ponyfic, here is this week's meagre selection of stories:

I Shall Please by FanOfMostEverything
The Temple by DeraNged CupCak3
The Music Is Where I'll Be by statoose

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

Monday, 7 August 2017

Tips for UK PonyCon-goers 4: Social and antisocial media

It's BloodyMassiveCon USA next weekend, and I hope everyone who's going has a great time. :) But for those of us who are preparing for UK PonyCon instead (or as well!) another thrilling tip:

Tip 4: Use your phone – a bit

There are several official UK PonyCon social media accounts, which are listed here, on their page. Although they're currently rather infrequently updated, they should be busier during the convention and can be a good way of finding out what's happening, especially if something unexpected happens – as it often does!

I believe there will be free WiFi at the UWE, so you can also stay in touch with other attendees that way, not to mention making inane tweets about the colour of the stage curtains. (What? Is that just me? Okay then.) Back at BUCK 2014, some of us resorted to tweeting to people six feet away as the Summer Sun Celebration was too loud to talk/shout over, but that's unlikely to be the case at UKPC.

However, try not to overdo the phone use. You don't want to end up in a situation where you might as well have spent the weekend at home, spending a lot less money! I know it's hard to resist, but try to keep your mobile in your pocket for much of the time. This is an event where seeing, hearing and speaking for yourself works best.

Friday, 4 August 2017

Pony Music Library 45: "Best Friends Until the End of Time (JTH Remix)"

What? "Best Friends Until the End of Time (JTH Remix)"

Who? JoinedTheHerd

Which? Show song remix

When? April 2017

Why? Yeah, I know this is a bit recent by PML standards, but I just can't get it out of my head. The little repeated instrumental theme that plays multiple times during the song is one of the catchiest things I've heard in ages. The show version itself is growing on me a bit, but JTH's version really lifts it to another level. Nice ending, too. Also, cute cover art, though I can't help feeling this remix needs an animation with pixellated ponies bouncing along to the beat, a little like a 16-bit version of the way they do in "La Da Dee".

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

My Little Pony: The Movie rated PG in the US

No Ponyfic Roundup this week, as I'm away. There'll be a scheduled Pony Music Library post on Friday, but otherwise nothing until Monday. Enjoy the silence!

For "Mild Action Scenes", apparently – the S4 and S5 finales were both TV-Y, but oh well. I saw this news on Chevistian C's Twitter, and he's a pretty reliable source regarding such things. A warning to spoiler-avoiders that the relevant tweet contains a large picture of a character we haven't seen in the know – but if you're not bothered about that, you can see it here.

People who know about US ratings say the MLP movie was always likely to be PG. It does seem that, on this score at least, the Americans are fussier than we are over here. For example, Inside Out was rated U (=G) in the UK, but was given a PG certificate in the States. I think this is therefore the first ever MLP work with a PG rating, but I stand to be corrected on that.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Twilight's Ultimate Guide to the MLP Fandom

I can't remember how I found Twilight's Ultimate Guide to the MLP Fandom the other day, but I'm glad I did. It's a text-heavy page that tries to give a potted introduction to our weird and wonderful fandom, written by someone called Ajedi32 – here's the original Reddit post it's linked from, though I didn't find it from there.

There are sections covering animations, games, music and so on, but of course I was most interested in the fanfic section. Sadly Ajedi32 doesn't seem to be much into ponyfic, but there's a list of ten twelve stories they've had recommended to them. I've read them all apart from Through the Well of Pirene, and I'm now starting to read that one!

The Reddit post was made earlier this year, which means it's more up to date than some of the similar guides we see around the net, though perhaps not that up to date – it generally seems to cover up to around S5. One oddity is that it tries to avoid the most unavoidable spoiler in the fandom by referring to, eg, the "[Redacted] Twilight Orchestral Suite"!

Also oddly, the list of books includes Journal of the Two Sisters but not the Elements of Harmony guidebooks. The chapter book list is complete up to Starlight Glimmer and the Secret Suite but doesn't feature Trixie's book. Still, none of this stops the guide being a pretty good example of its type if you don't need pictures and videos every paragraph.

Friday, 28 July 2017


I was surprised and disappointed recently to discover that MandoPony has apparently scrubbed the majority of his pony-related songs from his YouTube account. He hasn't just made them unlisted as some others have, but has made them private and entirely inaccessible. It doesn't seem just to be a "Please buy my music instead" thing, as "Harmony" (to take just one example) is not available from his BandCamp page either.

A few of the really big songs ("Loyalty" and "Horse Famous", for example) are still available, but out of 42 songs in his "Pony Music" playlists (one and two) just 11 remain available at the time of writing. Some of the others can still be found via other people's re-uploads, but I doubt all can.

As the owner of these songs, it's MandoPony's right to take them away from public display – but I think it's really sad to see significant parts of fandom history just disappear like this, especially with no apparent notice or explanation being given. I really wish musicians wouldn't do this sort of thing.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Tips for UK PonyCon-goers 3: Don't get caught short

I'm continuing my little series of hints and tips for people planning on attending UK PonyCon this year. As ever, these are mainly aimed at first-timers, but I'm happy if they're useful for anyone else, too.

Tip 3: Find where the toilets are!

When you get into the con venue, the first thing you'll need to do is register. The second should be to find out where the toilets are. You may well be here for more than 12 hours on the Saturday, so you're certainly going to need to know this crucial information during your time at the convention – learn before you need it more urgently!

Last year, there was a small plan of the venue in the conbook, and such things are handy, but to fix the location in your mind you really need to learn the route to the toilets yourself. Apart from anything else, there's bound to be a point at which you need to dash there before an imminent new event or panel that starts in five minutes' time.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Ponyfic Roundup 167: No Churns, No Porter, No Cat on a Seat

I now have a "new" PC, so yay for that. It's nothing very thrilling (an ex-corporate Dell i3) but it's a huge improvement on the previous computer simply because it can go more than a few hours without crashing. :P

Read it Later story count: 404 (nc)

I've ended up reviewing five E-rated stories this time round. I don't think that really qualifies as an Edition, since I didn't set out to do it, but still. Admittedly, some of these rather stretch the E rating, which officially is supposed to mean "stuff you might see in the show", but I don't think it's a huge deal. I'd be annoyed to see an E-rated story with hard swearing in, but nothing like that's happened this week. We have:

Bonafide by Sharp Spark
Drug by RarityEQM
Words Failed Her by Nonsanity
Selling Out by Kaorin
I'll See You to Shore by Educated Guess

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

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

And even more custard news!

Sheet music for "Custard Song"
Has MuseScore ever been used to less useful effect?
I'd say I was sorry, but it wouldn't really be true. :D

Monday, 24 July 2017

More custard news

For reasons that I confess largely escape me, Starlight Repeatedly Teleports into Custard has been given a Seattle's Angels feature. That's provided me with about 30 extra views, so I'm not complaining, but I fear I must disappoint reviewer RTStephens, who suggested I write a sequel involving Trixie and a vat of pudding. For one, it's already been done (main-series comic #21) and for two, I already know what the sequel is going to be – and it'll come out just before UK PonyCon in October.

That said, I do agree with Snails where dessert is concerned.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Tips for UK PonyCon-goers 2: Ch-ch-change!

Time for the next tip for those attending UK PonyCon – which starts in three months from today! – especially people who haven't been before and don't quite know what to expect:

Tip 2: Take lots of change!

Cash is king at conventions. Some vendors might accept cards or PayPal or AppleThing, but you really can't count on any of them. Don't blithely assume there'll be an ATM ten yards away, either – the nearest permanent cashpoint is roughly a 15-minute walk away at Asda.

So take actual, old-fashioned money. And try your best to make sure that some of it is in change. If you buy a small badge or something costing £1.50 and can actually hand over £1.50 rather than a £20 note, the vendor will love you for it. Don't worry too much if you can't make up the exact money, but do your best.

Note that most buses in Bristol will give change, unlike in many big cities, so if you get any from that source, hang onto it.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

I like the way the fandom thinks

Note: this post itself is not spoilery, but the comments might be!

Equestria Daily has a poll running asking people what they're most looking forward to about the forthcoming movie. There are eight choices. Since it's not spoilery, I can mention here that the current numbers are:

1. Story (37%)
8. New Big Name Actors (2%)

Admittedly the fandom probably doesn't have entirely the same priorities as Hasbro, but never mind!

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Ponyfic Roundup 166: Derpy Edition!

For those who know about such things: is there any significant difference between the type of stories you find on the AugieDog account and those you find on the Baal Bunny one? I'm probably missing something really obvious, but that's what I do.

Read it Later story count: 404 (-4)

This was planned and the stories read well before my recent Derpy-related post – yes, even the first story below – but it's a nice coincidence. I thought it was about time I had a themed edition of PR again, and Derpy was the winner of the Great Pony Lottery. Which was not in any way fixed. *cough* Here's this week's bunch o' fics:

Too Good For Us by Skeeter The Lurker
The Corners of (Our) Eyes by Daemon McRae
Let a Smile be Your Umbrella by Pascoite
Beep, Boop, I Will Destroy You! by NightWolf289
Insufficient Postage by Razgriz57
Today, Tomorrow, and Forever by ChoppersTopHat

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

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Tips for UK PonyCon 1: Shoes, Shoes, Shoes!

Now that we're well inside 100 days until UK PonyCon 2017, I thought I'd actually do what I keep saying I will and put up a few little hints and tips. These are mostly aimed at people who haven't been to a convention before – they're the sort of stuff I'd have found useful when I first went to one – but of course I'm glad if anyone at all finds them helpful. Let's start with the one that tops every list:

Tip 1: Wear comfortable shoes

You can wing it with some things at a convention, but not this one. Unless you actually have wings (or Twilight-level teleportation ability) you're going to be doing a great deal of walking. Probably plenty of standing around as well, especially if you spend much time in queues.

Note that "comfortable" is far more important than "smart". When I went to BUCK 2014, I wore brand new shoes that hadn't been properly broken in. Mistake! I had to kludge things with tissues stuffed inside on the second day to stop myself from being in total agony. Don't be like me.

If you wear shoes that pinch or rub or are full of holes, you will regret it. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Writer slams poor research, but how much did he do himself?

Over on Gizmondo (and that's not a way I want to start too many posts here!) a guy named Rhett Jones has posted an article entitled "Researchers Are Sorry They Used 'Derpy' in a Research Paper". I tend to agree with Jones that it's generally a bad idea to use non-standard language in research papers. However, seeing a massive picture of our Derpy at the top of the article, I read on to see whether there was any My Little Pony content. And here's what I found:
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic reinforced the association between derpy and language mocking people with disabilities when it controversially renamed a character previously called “Derpy” that was clumsy and had crossed eyes. Fan boys petitioned to “save Derpy,” failed, and the term officially became part of the war on “politically correct” language.
So, Mr Jones has written an article complaining about poor research, yet has clearly done almost none himself, at least where the MLP fandom is concerned. Why does life have to be so ironic?

Note: having read Oilyvalves' comment below, I wonder whether I might have been unfair here. Feel free to tell me so if you think I have.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

How the Telegraph covered the very first UK PonyCon. (Badly.)

Way way back many centuries ago in 2004, the inaugural UK PonyCon took place in Morecambe. There are still a few people around who've been to every one of the convention's iterations, but the fandom was inevitably a rather different place in those far-off pre-brony days.

Recently, I discovered that the Telegraph had written about the con, and that its own archive gave free access to this report by Rebecca Tyrrel. It's an interesting window into the past, but one that's sadly marred by the patronising tone with which many of us are all too familiar.

I'm not one of those people who thinks it would help for fans to snub the mainstream media entirely, and there have been good pieces – for example, the BBC's piece on bronies from 2013. It's just a shame to see that the sneery attitude was around even long before G4.

Friday, 14 July 2017

Pony Music Library 44: "Shy Heart"

What? "Shy Heart"

Who? Ponyphonic (full credits at end of post)

Which? Original song

When? November 2016

Why? Because it's one of the most wonderful Fluttershy tracks I've had the pleasure of hearing – and I've heard a lot! It's no surprise that a Ponyphonic song would be excellent, but this one got to me emotionally in a way very few Fluttersongs can do. The singer (Ponyphonic's sister!) has a lovely voice that suits the character perfectly, and she gives the piece a fragile beauty without taking things over the top. The other parts match the vocals excellently, too; for all I'm impressed by what can be done with computers these days, there's no substitute for real instruments. I could easily imagine this on a film soundtrack. I went to the YouTube video of this to check I was linking to the right one – and I ended up listening to the whole song. That says it all. This is Fluttershy, and I can give a song no higher praise.

Full credits
Vocals: Christina Ellis
Guitar: Don Larson
Violins: Brittany Davidson and Emilio Vazquez
Viola: Seth Willey
Cello: Gillian Kuroiwa
String Recording: Mark Lanus
Writing/Arrangement: Dane Larson

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Second-wave UK PonyCon tickets go on sale tomorrow

As many will know, sales of Saturday and Weekend tickets were suspended in early June owing to unprecedented demand. The committee wanted to put things on hold until they could visit Bristol together to discuss things with each other and the venue management.

This has now happened, and the committee have decided to book more space in the venue and to rearrange some of their plans. This will mean extra work for them, so major thanks are in order. This will mean that UK PonyCon 2017 will be the largest iteration ever!

The big news is that Weekend tickets will go back on sale tomorrow. Sunday-only and Stallholder tickets were not suspended anyway and sales of those will continue. If I'm reading the official post correctly, Saturday-only and VIP tickets will not go back on sale.

Also! If you bought a Sunday-only ticket during the suspension period (4th June to 13th July) you will be able to buy an upgrade to a Weekend ticket by paying the difference in price at the usual ticket store, meaning you won't have to buy a whole new Weekend ticket.

Keep an eye on the official UK PonyCon site and the ticket store to make sure you stay right up to date with what's happening on this score.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Ponyfic Roundup 165: Home for Retired Bears

Read it Later story count: 408 (-11)

My PC is still dying, but I haven't been able to get the time, money, money or time to replace it yet, so I'm struggling on with the one I've got for now. At least I've managed to get five stories read this week, which frankly feels like something of an achievement. Okay, okay, the nice weather helped – sitting in the garden with a book is one of life's nicer little pleasures. Here's what I've got for you today:

The Archer and the Smith by Sharaloth
Mayor Mare Has a Problem by Noble Thought
I'm Not A Firefly by SirTruffles
Those Awful Rumors 'Round Town by PresentPerfect
Mister Lonely Heart by Eskerata

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

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Bits and pieces

First: if there's anyone left who hasn't seen Oilyvalves' spectacular Lego Rainbow Dash – made from 3,700 bricks! – then gallop right over to this EqD post from a couple of weeks ago. I declare an interest here in that a) he's a friend, and b) I've seen Lego Dash in person (at a meet). And yes, she really does look tremendous. :D

Second: the July edition of Flashfic 150 is currently open for submissions. The closing date is the 21st of this month, so you have plenty of time. This month's prompt is Crossing Over, chosen by last month's winner, Chris.

Third: has anyone in the UK seen the Series 4 Enterplay Fun Pack cards (not the CCG packs) in actual, bricks-and-mortar shops? I was in a Forbidden Planet recently and they still had the ancient Series 3 on sale, but no S4 cards.

Fourth: I haven't forgotten about the Pony Music Library, but my dying PC is really not helping matters there. However, I will try to get a new post in that series up sometime in the next week or so.

Fifth: a quick survey of friends at the last Worcester meet revealed that most but not all had seen the movie trailer. As such, I've decided to continue to spoiler-cut posts that give away anything about that.

There's probably something I've forgotten, but you should be used to that by now!

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Logan and NSFW Pony stuff

If you happen to follow me on Twitter, you'll have seen a potted version of this post last night. But I want to make something very clear. There are certain things in this fandom that I don't want anything to do with. One of them is most definitely "Look how drunk I am, hur hur hur". If that's your bag, well that's your business, as long as you do it well away from me. But if you want me anywhere near your social event, don't make it dependent on the putting-away of stupid quantities of alcohol. (Or any drug stronger than caffeine.) The whole concept bores the hell out of me.

Secondly, I have very limited tolerance for NSFW. Yes, I read the occasional Mature-rated ponyfic – but that's about it. I won't even go to 18+ fandom events, as a matter of principle. For me, the social aspect of this fandom is absolutely bound up with its all-ages, family-friendly nature, and I'm not prepared to compromise on that. So I'm going to have very little patience with you if you start trying to tell me that All Lewd Butts Chat, All The Time or whatever is something I'd love. No. I wouldn't. I really, really wouldn't.

This fandom matters to me. I don't care how silly that sounds. I don't care how silly it is. It matters for a whole host of reasons, some minor and some very important to me indeed. I don't have a problem if your personal fandom is very different from mine. That's great. Go for your life, as the Aussies would say. But don't you bloody dare try to force my fandom to be like that too. I'm not going to appreciate it, and I'm going to tell you that in language a great deal blunter than I use on here.

For the avoidance of doubt, nothing I've said here is as a result of anything that's happened on this blog, and I very much doubt anyone reading this will be among the people it's really aimed at. I just needed to get it out. End of rant.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

"Anthropology" – new piano cover by Matías Peñaloza

AwkwardMarina's Lyra song, "Anthropology", has been one of my favourite fandom tracks since I heard it for the very first time at BUCK 2013. Now, the always excellent Matías Peñaloza has published a really nice piano cover of the song. It's pretty faithful to the original, but with just enough variety to give it a character of its own. I like it a good deal.

Friday, 7 July 2017

Episode review: S7E13: "The Perfect Pear"

Back in March, I reviewed EbonQuill's Slouching Towards Canterlot for Ponyfic Roundup 150. I enjoyed it a good deal and awarded it four stars. Unfortunately, Pascoite points out in a comment on that PR that it isn't as original as I'd imagined. Disappointing. Hopefully less disappointing is my getting up to date with episode reviews!

The Apple Siblings talk to Mrs Cake
Finding a non-spoilery picture for this episode was not easy
It's taken a ridiculous amount of time, but here at last is my review of the halfway point of Season 7. It's another fairly short one, because otherwise you'll still be waiting when S8 begins. This was written by Joanna Lewis and Kristine Songco, and the Lady Writers are usually good value with their episodes. This was a much-anticipated ep, and for anyone who hasn't yet seen it: what's beyond the break will be really, really spoilery. If that's not a problem to you, follow me!

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Ponyfic Roundup 164: Dying PC Edition :P

Read it Later story count: 419 (-2)

If this post stops suddenly, it's because my PC died before I could finish editing. :P Anyway, assuming I make it all the way through, there'll be four stories under review this week, including a couple of real old-timers. The fics are are:

Easy As Pie by xjuggernaughtx
Sauna Talk by FlutterLights
Just an Assistant by RadicalDishonesty
Tonight I Shall Be Laughter by Cloud Wander

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

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Reduced activity for a little while

Just a heads-up: my PC is on its way to dying, and it's doing so at a particularly irritating time financially. As such, it may be a little while before I have a reliable computer at home again. It's sort of working still, but that's as far as it goes. I can write up scheduled posts on public PCs when I have the time – but that's not very often.

For now, I'll be prioritising Ponyfic Roundup and any UK PonyCon news I notice, as well as doing my best to keep up with Flashfic 150 over on Fimfiction. (July prompt, chosen by Chris: "Crossing Over".) Anything else will have to be fitted in where I can manage it. I'm just relieved I'm a writer rather than a video or game maker, since the necessary PC specs are a fair bit lower – and so, therefore, is the price of a useable second-hand machine!

Ponyfic Roundup 164 will appear tomorrow, unless the PC totally Norwegian Blues before then. Regrettably it'll be another brief edition, since I spent yesterday evening messing around inside the PC case rather than reading, but it will contain at least three reviews. So yay and woo-hoo and suchlike.

Edit: Oh, and the E13 review will also, at last, appear in the next few days. I hope.

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Reviewer Reviews Reviewed

Chris has an occasional series called "Reviewer Reviews" in which he looks at how some of the more prolific ponyfic reviewers go about their business. A couple of weeks ago, it was my turn.

I was a little nervous about this, especially given that the period chosen (Ponyfic Roundups 157 to 160) was not one I think of as my best, but it worked out okay. Chris rightly says that my reviews give a lot of weight to my personal enjoyment or otherwise of the fics I look at – and that's how PR is intended to work. It's always been a slightly expanded "Here are some fics I read and what I thought of them" rather than anything more formal, and I don't expect that to change much.

One of the parts of Chris's piece that stood out was a paragraph in which he compared my reviewing style to Present Perfect's:
Both of them are agreeable and on the laconic side, and both briefly focus on a few key elements rather than trying to discuss every element of every story.  But whereas PP uses a lot of humor and self-depreciation to make his point while still coming off as friendly, Logan's writing has more of a good-natured, self-aware earnestness to it.
I'm not entirely sure what "self-aware earnestness" is, but I'll take "good-natured" any day. Personally, I think I do sprinkle in a reasonable amount of humour, but possibly it's too dry and British for most people to notice. Or just not very funny. Still, I don't intend to make any major changes to my style, as I feel pretty comfortable with it as it stands.

Chris points up the fact that five-star ratings are much rarer than they used to be, to the extent that he says "they don't see much (any) use anymore". It's true that fives are rare now, and I intend to keep it that way. My scale is skewed in that a solid, decent but not particularly memorable fic will generally get a two, not a three. That means that a five-star story has to be not merely excellent but exceptional. As it happens, CiG's The Destruction of the Self did get a five last time out (PR 163), so I haven't abandoned the top rating entirely!

Among the most interesting aspects of this series is that Chris gives an example of what he feels is a strong review, and conversely one he thought was weaker. He chose my review of My Little Introvert: Being Home is Magic(al) (PR 158) for the former – that surprised me a bit, as I feel it was a slightly rushed review. What They Don't Know (PR 160) was the one he felt had weaknesses; in this case, I agree, but as the review itself makes clear it was one I found difficult to write about without major spoilers. Here's how Chris summed up what he saw:
Logan's reviews are an excellent source if you're looking for a large quantity, a pretty decent variety, and brevity that doesn't sacrifice big-picture reviewer opinion.  You're not going to get a lot of detail here, nor much in the way of analysis, but he's worth following if you're more interested in a bunch of quick hits than a few deep dives.
I think that's a fair assessment, and I'm pleased to see variety mentioned; I've always made a considerable effort not only to review the stuff everyone else has been reading. Chris didn't look at any of my occasional Spotlight reviews, but that was probably sensible as they are only occasional – and in any case, they're not what I do best. Chris himself does long-form reviews notably well, if you ask me.

Oh, and since this came up in passing: "Loganberry" is my username because it's what I've used in various fandoms for a decade and a half. However, because it shortens to something that sounds like an ordinary name, people in the MLP fandom tend to call me "Logan" in real life. I like it, and I've increasingly adopted it online – as on this blog. However, I don't intend to change my Fimfiction username, as I'm comfortable with that as well.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Movie trailer out!

No teaser this time – this is the real deal, to mark 100 days until the film's release in the United States, you utter bastards. A little over two minutes of concentrated My Little Pony: The Movie goodness. For the benefit of those of you avoiding spoilers who don't want to know what's in this, I'll put my brief thoughts after a break. They're what I posted in the EqD comments last night, so bear in mind they're instant reactions rather than anything more considered!

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Ponyfic Roundup 163: In my Plastic Aeroplane

Read it Later story count: 421 (-8)

Well, would you look at that? For the first time in quite a few weeks, I actually have more than four stories in a PR! That's right: this time round, there are five. I'm hoping to get a themed edition or two done once I'm back on an even keel, but for now I hope you'll find this week's selection to be a reasonably varied bunch. Here's what you'll find reviewed after the break:

A Clever Pony by Drax99
Red Satin Sheets by Holy
My Brother, The Tooth by Georg
The Destruction of the Self by Cold in Gardez
Silence by ThatOneWriter

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

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Season 7A – the UK of Equestria rankings

As for the last few seasons, over on UK of Equestria we've recently asked people to rank season 7's episodes up to the hiatus. We chose to make the cutoff episode 11, to avoid potential problems relating to Australian spoilers. I did wonder whether anyone would bother given all the scheduling confusion, but we had 12 lists submitted, enough to get an idea.

I'll pick out a few details at the end of the post, but first here's what the UK of E folks came up with – my own rankings are in brackets:

1. "A Royal Problem" (1)

2. "All Bottled Up" (4)
3. "Parental Glideance" (2)
4. "Rock Solid Friendship" (3)

5. "Celestial Advice" (5)

6. "Hard to Say Anything" (9)
7. "A Flurry of Emotions" (7)
8. "Forever Filly" (10)
9. "Honest Apple" (6)

10. "Not Asking for Trouble" (11)
11. "Fluttershy Leans In" (8)

Number of times each episode placed first
9: "A Royal Problem"
2: "Parental Glideance"
1: "All Bottled Up"

Number of times each episode placed last
6: "Not Asking for Trouble"
3: "Fluttershy Leans In"
1: "A Flurry of Emotions"
1: "Forever Filly"
1: "Honest Apple"

Most controversial (highest standard deviation)
1. "Forever Filly"
2. "Hard to Say Anything"
3. "Not Asking for Trouble"

Least controversial
1. "Fluttershy Leans In"
2. "A Royal Problem"
3. "All Bottled Up"

It wasn't remotely close at the top of the list: "A Royal Problem" was the easiest winner since we started doing these rankings during S4, with a massive lead over the rest of the field. As well as those nine top spots, the episode garnered two seconds and a single fifth place. "All Bottled Up" had only one no. 1 ranking, but everyone placed it in their top five.

At the bottom, the highest "Fluttershy Leans In" was placed was eighth (yes, yes, I was indeed one of those...) but "Not Asking for Trouble" only avoided the wooden spoon because of a solitary fourth place. Those two trailed the rest by a considerable distance. "Forever Filly", the most divisive episode by some margin, was placed as high as second and as low as last.

Monday, 26 June 2017

Episode review: S7E12: "Discordant Harmony"

Some Discords get ready to "fix" Discord's house
Wreaking anarchy and all that it brings. Or not
Although Canada and the US have entered a hiatus after episode 11, Australian television has now shown episodes 12 and 13 as well. That being so, I've decided to review them straight(ish) away. I should warn you in advance that E13 in particular is not one you want to know about before viewing. This ep is more ordinary, so you won't be spoiling yourself on any earth-shaking revelations if you do decide to read it. Beyond the break, a shortish look at "Discordant Harmony".

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Can you help support the Big Master Review List?

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

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

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Fimfiction now has a Patreon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, 23 June 2017

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

This is important

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

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

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

Read it Later story count: 429 (-11)

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

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

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