Friday, May 29, 2015

Mini-Reviews Round 85

Do you ever talk back to commercials?  Because lately, I've gotten in the habit of responding to any commercial that opens with "Hi, I'm _____" (side note: there are a lot of commercials that open with "Hi, I'm _____") with a mumbled, "Hi, _____," and then imagining what kind of support group meeting the commercial-person and I might feasibly end up attending together.  I have to believe that there are better uses for my brain cells, but sometimes you just need to do something asinine while you're supposed to be working, you know?  Anyway, two short reviews of long(er) stories, below the break.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Fandom Classics Part 110: Newsworthy

To read the story, click the image or follow this link

I know I've missed a couple of updates recently, and I'm really hoping that that's all over with now.  Unfortunately, real life continues its relentless press upon my time and attentions; I'll see what I can do about that.  Below, though, you can (finally!) check out my review of _Medicshy's Newsworthy.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Mini-Reviews Round 84

The random tag isn't usually my favorite; while there's certainly such a thing as a good random story, the tag is more often being used to describe stories which lack cohesion for the sake of lacking cohesion.  So, how about a trip through three random-tagged stories that I've come across recently?  Check them out, below the break.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Myth of Balance

If anyone reading it didn't know, I've been pre-reading Jetfire's ongoing Dangerous Business sequel, Besides the Will of Evil.  Now, if you want to go look through the comments section over there, you'll see that there's been some debate in the comments for a while now over the direction the story's taken.  The short version, though, is that many of the commenters feel like the story's villain has been too successful, and the heroes too ineffectual.

Now, I'm not actually interested in talking about BtWoE itself, but the discussion there did get me thinking about the idea of over-effective antagonists--both how they can ruin a story, and how they can be used effectively.  And specifically, how a particular piece of advice that I've seen offered a lot (not just on Jetfire's story, but on plenty of other long dark stories, both fanfic and non) isn't necessarily a good one.  Some long-winded thoughts, below the break.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Mini-Reviews Round 83

Before we dive into mini-reviewing, it's time for another look at how the NHL/Fanfic Playoffs are shaping up!  The second round is over, and that means it's time for an updated bracket:

Now with a shiny new bracket; click for full size!  Also, check the original post if you need a reminder what each team/story pairing is based on, and check here for the round-one recap.

In the most depressing result for me personally, the Wild (My Little Denarians) were swept by the Blackhawks (Fallout: Equestria), including three of four games where we just needed one goddamn bounce... anyway, the bottom of the bracket saw plucky overachiever Calgary (Past Sins) finally fall back to reality against an Ducks (My Little Dashie) team that's turning out to be probably the most complete team in the playoffs.

Over in the East, Tampa Bay (Friendship is Optimal) looked like it might be getting ready to blow a commanding 3-0 series lead, but eventually put away a feisty Montreal (DoAM) in six.  And on the other side of the bracket, the Capitals (The Celestia Code) really did blow a commanding 3-1 series lead, letting the Rangers (Fall of Equestria) take the last three games to win the series, including a heartbreaking overtime clincher in game seven.  Sorry iisaw; when I paired your story with Washington, I probably should have mentioned that the team isn't just an exciting one to watch with a enigmatic Russian superstar anchoring it... it's also a team with a long and storied tradition of choking in the playoffs.  On the plus side (gotta find your silver linings wherever you can), my Wild losing and the Rangers advancing means PresentPerfect is still on track to see his Fo:E vs. FoE Cup final.

Now, with all the housekeeping done, let's head below the break for some thoughts-on-fanfic goodness!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Fandom Classics Part 109: The Haunting in Ponyville

To read the story, click the image or follow this link

Being sick is no fun.  Above-the-break blurbs are fun.  Therefore, no blurbery today.  Review below, though, just like you'd expect: my thoughts on JasonTheHuman's The Haunting in Ponyville.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Mini-Reviews Round 82

When I decide to start reading something short, I generally finish it no matter how little I enjoy it; it's short, I've already sunk two minutes into it, I might as well get to the end and at least have the satisfaction of finishing.  But with longer fics, I'm more amenable to cutting ties after a few chapters if I'm not enthralled or engaged--even if the story isn't actually that bad.  So today's mini-reviews contains several stories I didn't finish.  Find out why, below the break.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Fandom Classics Part 108: Pinkie Watches Paint Dry

To read the story, click the image or follow this link

It's official: I'm ready for summer.  Or at least, summer vacation; I guess I don't really care what the temperature is, as long as it's accompanied by the end of the school year.  The fact that I've had an idea for a story for a couple weeks now, but haven't felt like I've had the time to devote to trying to write it, only adds to my general desire for the next month to pass quickly.

But you didn't come here to listen to me complain!  Or maybe you did, but you were probably envisioning me complaining about fanfiction.  Will AbsoluteAnonymous's Pinkie Watches Paint Dry give me the complain-about-ability necessary to sate your frankly bizarre desire to see me express dissatisfaction?  Find out, below the break!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Mini-Reviews Round 81

It's been brought to my attention that, since I always make a point of reminding Americans to vote, I could stand to do the same for all you blokes across the pond.  Remember, Thursday is Election Day!  Get out there and exercise your constitutional--wait, what's that?  You don't have a constitution?  Well, go do whatever the Queen tells you to, I guess.

For everyone else, here are a few small reviews of smaller stories!  All below the break, as usual.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Fandom Classics Part 107: Without a Hive

To read the story, click the image or follow this link

Don't take this the wrong way; I thought Appleoosa's Most Wanted was a decent episode, all things considered.  But as the episode ended looking at its moral, all I could think was, "there's no way that that can be reconciled with the first couple of seasons."  Thematically, I mean; the idea of getting a cutie mark without knowing what it does, and one that actively sabotages your life until you figure it out, is a very cynical, jaded take on an idea that, while it's got plenty of potential to seem malignant, has previously been generally portrayed in a much more positive, less fridge-horror-y light.  Honestly, I think this episode would have been better as fanfiction than as canon; in a fanwork, it would be a darker, more "real" examination of something the show couldn't touch on.  As an actual episode, it felt jarringly malicious to Trouble Shoes.

And on an unrelated note, am I the only one stumped as to why we needed a tension-building scene with Sweetie using her magic to steal the key to the prison door, when they could have just grabbed it off the hook after they tricked the sheriff in to leaving?  Maybe the girls just didn't think their plan through all the way.  Anywho, click on down below the break for my review of Phoenix_Dragon's Without a Hive.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Mini-Reviews Round 80

We'll get to the reviews in a moment, but first, here's your post-round-1-update on the NHL playoffs, and their fanfic doppelgangers!  That's a cue for any of you who don't care to skip down a bit, by the way.  Don't worry, no judgment.

...Okay, still with me?  Well, let's start with the bracket:

Now with a shiny new bracket; click for full size!  Also, check the original post if you need a reminder what each team/story pairing is based on.

To recap: My Little Denarians beat out Dangerous Business in a back-and-forth series, and will now face Fallout: Equestria (which knocked off a Background Pony team that never looked terribly comfortable) in the Battle of the Stories With a Billion Companion Fics.  Biblical Monsters was, as was mentioned before, swept by My Little Dashie, which will now take on the surprisingly feisty Past Sins (fresh off an energetic display against Life and Times of a Winning Pony) in the Battle of Stories With a Grossly Disparate Reception From Critics Than From General Readers.

Over in the East, Diaries of a Madman finally put away a Dresden Fillies team that rode a hot goalie as far as it could, but still couldn't put up enough offense to win a series full of 1-0 and 2-1 games.  Friendship is Optimal, meanwhile, needed all seven to put away Cupcakes, but will be moving on to face DoaM.  And finally, The Celestia Code did everyone who knows better than to root for New York teams a favor and put away 120 Days of Blueblood in a thrilling game seven, but they don't get a more tasteful matchup next: Fall of Equestria outplayed Austraeoh in convincing fashion, and will come into the matchup with Code as the clear-cut favorite.  There's probably a tasteless joke to be made here, but I'm going to take the high road and leave you to make it for yourself.

Plenty of exciting matchups in round two; here's to some more great hockey!  Now, with that accounting complete, let's move on to our more regular business: fanfic reviews.  A few short-form musings, below the break.