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!

Impressions before reading:  Although she's been gone for a long time (actually, her user page says she checked in a few weeks back as of my typing this, but she's been gone from the fandom for a couple of years), AA remains one of the most-followed authors on FiMFiction, and has written several of the fandom's better-known stories (including a couple that I've reviewed previously).  This is probably her best-known fic, and although I've never read it, I enjoyed previous forays into her writing enough to feel pretty good about this one going in.  I admit to a little bit of wariness about this being labeled a "self-parody," but I'm guessing based on its popularity that this won't rely too heavily on in-jokes and otherwise inaccessible humor.

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  As she contemplates her recently-repainted room, Pinkie experiences an existential crisis.

Thoughts after reading:  This is basically a short story about overthinking things, and the dangers (or rather, the silliness) of trying to apply moral arguments to inanimate objects.  I think those are things that just about everyone can relate to, and the author does a nice job of drawing on the human tendency to personify while exaggerating that tendency for comic effect.  Indeed, there's not a lot of depth to Pinkie's musings, but that's part of the joke; her musings aren't earth-shaking revelations, and that's precisely what makes the story funny.

Pinkie herself is a good vehicle for those musings; at the very least, she seems a likely candidate for things like "mourning an eaten cupcake because she missed it."  The inner monolgue isn't without flaws, however--notably, the beginning of the story is a bit too dry for Pinkie, especially in contrast to the still-comically-overserious but much more lively bits which follow.  Nevertheless, the general tone of the story meshes well with her canon personality, despite the rather introverted direction it goes in.  Dash and Twilight are secondary characters at best, but it's worth mentioning that they make a nice contrast to one another, as well as an extra "outside" reminder of the fundamental silliness of the story.

In truth, there's not a lot else to say here.  While this isn't a one-joke story, it's fair to say it is a one-concept story.  However, it doesn't overstay its welcome, and it takes that concept through enough paces to make it feel like a fully-formed idea, at least.  This isn't a fic that aspires to do much more than plant a niggling thought or two, and mine a little humor along the way.  And if it doesn't do much more than that, then it's also fair to say it does exactly what it sets out to do.

Star rating:

My parents' house has to living room-ish areas; to distinguish them, we call one "the living room" and the other "the green room."  The green room got its name from the lime-green carpet it had when we moved in--and which we tore up and replaced with hardwood when I was in high school.  Meanwhile, the living room got moss-green carpeting about five years ago.  The names haven't changed, though; "the green room" is still immediately understood even though it's now also "the room that doesn't have green carpeting."

I hadn't thought about that until I read this story.  My first impulse after reading was that this was a pretty solid example of what 3-stars looks like on my scale, but after a couple days (I try to give stories a couple days to percolate before writing reviews) I've found it has quite a bit more staying power, if not exactly impact, than I thought it would.  I'm going to let that bump my rating up; being memorable is absolutely something I look for in a story I'd be willing to call a Fandom Classic, and PPWPD certainly has that.

Recommendation:  For readers looking for a story that's short and silly, but packs a bit more to chew on than your bog-standard "joke's in the title" fluff, this is an easy story to recommend.

Next time:  The Haunting in Ponyville, by JasontheHuman


  1. Replies
    1. Not before it's dry, I won't. That'll just make one hell of a mess.

  2. So this is one of those stories I've heard a lot of people say is a good'un, but that I never actually read, myself. Since it just so happened to be the topic of the day (and it was short), I decided to go ahead and do it, then let it percolate overnight in my brain pan like Chris advised, but... meh. I still didn't find it all that memorable. Perhaps it's because I've never personally had a room-changing-color-but-name-staying-the-same-as-the-previous-color experience, but it just seemed like an odd bit of out of character philosophy, coupled with a handful of somewhat forced references to events that happened in the show (Rainbow Dash calling Twilight an egghead, Rainbow Dash saying Pinkie's mane was going to go flat and she start talking about rocks, etc.), followed up by a weird explanation at the end as to why she was acting that way in the first place. Emotional pony diabetes? Reverse ADHD? Cupcake withdrawals?

    Anyway, it had some good lines in it I liked, and as an in-fandom joke, I guess it's fine, but as an actual story in and of itself, I didn't think it was very good.

  3. While I like this story, I feel like it outshines her better work

    1. She felt the same way.
      It's partly why she left in the first place. Major case of M.O.D.