1) How Many Princesses Does It Take To Change A Lightbulb?, by PonIver
Zero-ish spoiler summary: Princess Celestia's reading lamp goes out just as she's about to reach the thrilling climax of her book. Electricity still being a novel concept to the ruler of Equestria, she's at a loss for what to do next.
A few thoughts: I didn't get into this story right away; although I was willing to accept a contrived setup for the sake of a short comedy, the way the narrative twists itself in knots explaining why Celestia needs to fix this particular lamp right this second was far too forced for me. Once it got past the setup though, there was some great dialogue-based humor. A take on Twilight's alicornification (this story was written shortly before Magical Mystery Cure aired), it's not afraid to poke some fun at the concept itself, and the characterizations in the last half of the story are amusingly over-the-top, even if in the early going Celestia and Luna seem a bit flat. The language use isn't great (and the author indulges frequently in one of my greatest sources of quibbling; assigning sentience to individual portions of a character. "Luna yelped as her body instinctively leapt away..." instead of just "Luna yelped as she leapt away..." and so on), but it's very unobjectionable for the most part.
Recommendation: Once I got about halfway through, I found the story to be quite entertaining. Since the whole thing's only a few thousand words long, that's not really much of a wait. Anyone willing to push through a bit of unexceptional setup to get to the good bits will find themselves rewarded, but the less patient might not find it worth the wait.
2) And I Shall Name Them "Cuppins", by Bob from Bottles
Zero-ish spoiler summary: The author attempts a free writing exercise, but Pinkie keeps trying to correct him and do her own thing.
A few thoughts: Ah, metafiction. Usually I avoid "Pinkie breaks the fourth wall" stories, but this one looked promising. Besides, it's from the same author who wrote The Worst Bakers In Equestria (among other things), so I decided to give it a look.
I'm afraid I didn't particularly care for this one, though. Not that any particular aspect of it was poorly done--it wasn't--but there was nothing here which really elevated the story beyond its premise. The narrator tries to tell a story, Pinkie keeps interrupting, they yabber back and forth... it's funny enough for what it is, but the humor here is ultimately of a very shallow sort. Again, I'm not trying to say that's bad; I just didn't find it satisfying. It was ultimately a decent but forgettable sort of story.
Recommendation: If you're looking for a short piece of very competently done fourth-wall gaggery to fill an idle fifteen minutes, this will do the job nicely. I'd even go so far as to specifically suggest it, in that context. But there's nothing really exceptional here.
3) The Baffling Case of Pinkamena Pie, by Don Quixote
Zero-ish spoiler summary: A famous researcher from Canterlot is sent by the Princess to investigate Pinkie's mysterious "Pinkie sense."
A few thoughts: Although it's not obvious from the title or description, this is another story that trades on Pinkie's fourth-wall awareness. In this case, I thought the concept was interesting, but the execution fell flat.
The problem was the lack of conflict. The story quickly introduces its OC, has some nice characterizations, and introduces an interesting, not to mention valid, problem (that Pinkie's powers could destroy the universe if weaponized). But almost immediately after that problem is introduced, it's swept right under the rug. Without any meaningful conflict between the introduction of the problem and the resolution, this story ends up feeling like some of the more rushed episodes of the show on which it's based: everything needed to be tied up quickly at the end, and the pacing suffered.
Recommendation: As I said, the introduction is decent, and the characters are well-portrayed. There are some quite funny bits in there, too (okay, I mostly just enjoyed the author's depiction of Twilight "geeking out" over seeing one of her childhood role models in the flesh). But this is one to avoid if a rushed-through central conflict is a turn-off for you.
4) A Door Jam, by xjuggernaughtx
Zero-ish spoiler summary: Twilight and Applejack agree to help the Cakes by getting Pinkie out of the bakery so that they can work in peace. However, Pinkie's taken it into her head to spend the entire day watching the pantry door...
A few thoughts: This one may or may not go up on EqD in the not-too-distant future: according to the author's blog, it was last seen being rejected without a strike for some comparatively minor retooling.
There are a few things that could use cleaning up about it, in truth. Connecting words are sometimes muddled--using "as" where there's no causation and "and" would be better, that sort of thing--and there are a number of phrases that could be re-worded to avoid over-comma-ing ("You girls have a lot of adventures, you know, and, well, that gets Pinkie..."). There are also a few cases where Pinkie or Mr. Cake adopt strangely formal inflections, though for the most part they're well-written.
That said, this is an amusing bit of writing. Pinkie's strange brand of, er, strangeness comes through very clearly in both premise and execution, and while the conflict in the latter part of the story seemingly comes out of left field, it's a very appropriate addition to FiM canon, and its sudden appearance is in keeping with the tone of the show.
Recommendation: Readers looking for a short, show-style tale will probably find this to their liking.
5) Shorts, by Cold in Gardez
Zero-ish spoiler summary: A series of short-shorts (most in the 1000-word range), each written in about half an hour, based on various prompts provided by the 30 Minute Ponies site.
A few thoughts: It's hard to say anything concrete about these stories (three as of this writing, with more coming) in the aggregate, because they're all completely unrelated. Rather, let's say this: I really, really like well-written flash-fiction. There's something immensely satisfying about a good piece of such minuscule length; much like the first bite of cake is always the sweetest, there's much to be said for a well-executed minimalist piece. To run through the three I read in order: I'm Afraid of Changeling is a delightfully, comically dark example of the fun an author can have with deliberate incongruity, One Thousand and One fits a surprising amount of emotion into three short scenes, telling a simple, elegant tale of loss, and The Apple of My Eye tells an old joke (old by this fandom's standards, anyway), but remains amusing because of the deft character voicing. Although the latter is clearly the weakest entry of the three, each was enjoyable in its own right.
Recommendation: This is a set of pieces worth tracking if you want to see what a talented writer can do under severe time constraints. Although they're more scenes than stories, each of the piece which I read has something to recommend it.
6) The Many Secret Origins of Scootaloo, by defender2222
Zero-ish spoiler summary: It turns out that every pony in Ponyville has a different idea about who Scootaloo is and where she came from. And whether she likes it or not, Twilight's going to hear each and every version.
A few thoughts: In the early going, this story reminded me a bit of the better seasons of SNL: there were some lame bits and forced gags, sure, but it's worth sticking out because there's enough on-target comedy to make the whole thing worthwhile. Through the first half of the story, I consistently found myself laughing as I read--Iron Will was an especial high point, though I'm admittedly partial to bellicose grandstanding--and enjoyed the piece quite a bit.
As it went on, however, the humor became more and more risque. Well, not so much risque as simply juvenile; it was about the time that Luna put Twilight in a diaper after she (Twilight) urinated all over Prince Blueblood that I decided that the ratio of genuine laughs to pursed lips had reached a tipping point, and gave up the story.
Recommendation: The early chapters are ridiculous and funny. Not every gag worked, but there were enough that the story could coast on the ones that did. If you don't have a stomach for toilet humor and frequent innuendos though, the middle chapters aren't for you. Maybe it gets better again later; I didn't make it far enough to find out.