Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Fandom Classics Part 141: Ascend

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

Guess who spent yesterday shoveling almost a foot of snow?  This guy!  Have fun with that when it hits ya, east coast; knowing the way media responds to snow in the midwest vs. snow in New York, I'm sure I'll get to hear aaaall about it on the news.  Should you get snowed in, I'm sure you'll want something to read; would xTSGx's Ascend be a good choice?  Find out what I think, below the break.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Reviewing: The Flaws You See, and the Ones That Matter

Hope you had a merry Christmas; I know I did, but now it's time to get back into the swing of things.  Today's post is about the subject of reviewing itself.  I'm going to specifically focus on what I do here, though the general subject is also applicable to more casual reviewing, or to leaving comments on stories.  Specifically, I'm going to be talking about something that I've obliquely mentioned a couple of times, and that I know Titanium Dragon has discussed in the past: how much importance or relevance to assign to the issues you may find in a given story.  Get my thoughts, below.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

One Final Christmas Gift You Can Give

Merry Christmas, everyone!  I'll be taking Friday off to spend the holiday with my family.  Whether you're of the "give praise for the birth of Jesus" group of Christmas-celebrators, or more of the "season for giving/family," I hope the this Christmas treats you well.

I do want to suggest one thing you might consider doing this Friday, though, if you have a few spare minutes.  See, I spend a lot of time around here talking about stories, but one thing that mostly goes unsaid (if only because it's so obvious) is how powerful the right story at the right time can be.  Every reader can name one or more stories that have fundamentally altered their lives, and plenty more that have helped them, subtly or not-so-subtly, to see the world in a new way.  The ability of a piece of fiction to shape who we are is precisely what makes fiction so valuable, and such an essential part of the human experience.

We tend to forget about that when it comes to fanfiction, though.  It's not hard to see why; most fanfiction isn't of the "capable of changing someone's outlook on life" sort, even more so than in commercial writing.  And besides that, there is the stigma of it; saying that reading LotR for the first time was a life-altering experience (individual results may vary, obviously) is a lot easier to explain than saying the same about a psuedonomyously-authored, unlicensed story about the colorful, friendship-loving denizens of the magical land of Equestria.

And yet, there are works of fanfiction that can change the way you see the world, whether by helping you see things in a new light, crystallizing a lesson you only knew academically, or helping to change your outlook in a more idiosyncratic or harder to define way.  Maybe it's a product of the story's quality; maybe it just happened to be the story you needed to read at that moment in your life, appearing in front of you at just the right moment like an act of epiphany.  Either way, that's something worth celebrating.

So, if you have a few minutes this Christmas, consider letting the author of a fanfic which changed your life know what their writing has accomplished.  If they happen to be on FiMFiction, that makes them easy to get in touch with.  In any case, send them an e-mail or PM letting them know what their story meant to you.  It doesn't have to be anything lengthy or super-detailed; just let them know what their story meant to you, and thank them for it.  It's pretty easy to get positive reinforcement in most fanfic communities, and while that isn't a bad thing by itself, it does mean that praise can often feel impersonal.  Take a moment to let an author know just how much their writing has meant to you.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Mini-Reviews Round 112

Just two stories this time... but they're both Christmas Heart's Warming themed.  That's something, right?  Besides, they're a combined 40,000 words; surely, that's enough pony words for you, right?

Ah, who am I kidding; there's no such thing as "enough pony words."  Still, get my thoughts on a few more of 'em--words, that is--below the break.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Fandom Classics Part 140: Awakening

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

We all have stories about the moments (or sometimes, lifetimes) of idiocy or sheer un-awareness which we've seen from family members; you live around people, you're going to see and hear them do and say some stupid things.  But a woman at work yesterday took the cake for stories in that category: apparently, her uncle once invented a new kind of dip, made of mashed-up avocados and some salt and oil, which he was immensely proud of.  It fell to her to inform him that what he had "invented" was, in fact, guacamole.  Dashed his hopes of getting on "Shark Tank," it did.

But enough about the relatives of the people I work with; on to ponyfiction!  My review of solocitizen's Awakening, below the break.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Mini-Reviews Round 111

It's 111!  Which, if I was keeping review numbers in binary, I guess wouldn't be too exciting (review number 7 (base 2) doesn't quite have the same ring to it), but that's not the case.  In fact, my mini-review total looks even more impressive in binary than in base 10, albeit not as unidigital: how's "Mini-Reviews Round 1,101,111" strike you?

But now, on to the three (or, if you prefer, eleven) stories that make up this round's review-meat.  Get it, below the break.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Fandom Classics Part 139: A Finer Vintage

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

As of Sunday evening, my fantasy football team made the playoffs!  It was a hard road; despite being the third-best team in a twelve-team league by points scored, I was barely scraping a .500 record, and needed a win last night to advance.  But, despite starting Andy Dalton at QB (total week 14 contribution: 1 point), DeAngelo Williams and the Carolina defense carried me over the top in a nailbiter.  Woo!

...Yes, I know, nobody cares about other peoples' fantasy football teams.  But a man's got to celebrate a little, you know?  That over and done with, let's move on to my review of Sunchaser's A Finer Vintage, below the break.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Mini-Reviews Round 110

I do not, and probably never will, understand why some people seem to have so much trouble singing a picardy third (ending a song or phrase which is in a minor key on a major chord, e.g. the last "lu-lay" in each verse of the Coventry Carol).  I mean, forgetting it, I understand.  Missing the note, I understand.  But when you know it's there, you can hear other people singing the right note, and you're still coming in on the minor third?  There's some sort of serious mental block I'm dealing with from a certain singer--and he's not the first person I've encountered who couldn't seem to do this.  Seriously, how hard is it to sing an accidental?  You do it all the time in music, but this one particular case seems bafflingly impossible to a select few.

Ah well, he's got a little while to figure it out (before we're reduced to "you're not allowed to sing the last note").  While I ponder that, here are some short reviews for your review-reading pleasure!  As always, get'em below the break.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Fandom Classics Part 138: I Look Into The Flames And See

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

I've officially started brewing my own beer.  Well, I've officially started brewing something, anyway; it started bubbling quite encouragingly after I left it to rest, which means I didn't manage to screw up and kill the yeast (yay!), but it's still about four weeks until we're at the point where it's ready to taste.  The best I can definitively say is that I have a large jug under my staircase which is full of something becoming progressively more alcoholic.

I'll let you all know what happens, though if you manage to figure out my home address and drop by on New Year's weekend, I'll let you try one of the first bottles.  If you're not a beer person, then you'll just have to content yourself with the fanfic review I've written!  My thoughts on Tramper's I Look Into The Flames And See, below the break.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Mini-Reviews Round 109

Like writing?  Like giving gifts?  Like both of those things, but worry so much about the quality of your writing that the only circumstance in which you'd be willing to "gift" it would be while comfortingly cloaked in the soothing veil of anonymity?

Then check out the FiMFic Secret Santa thingamabober that Obs is running!  You have the rest of the month to write just 1000 words (or more), so plenty of time... but you need to sign up by Tuesday.  Go to it!  And, once you've done that (but not before... go on, I'll wait), head down below the break for some of my short takes on stuff I've recently read.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Fandom Classics Part 137: A little loopy.

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

Does everyone else get as depressed as I do when they look through there "Tracking" list on FiMFic?  I've got dozens of stories on there that I'd love to read--a few I have read, as well--and most of them haven't updated in a year or more.  For a good chunk of those, the author's been gone for about as long, too.  It's like a personal list of stories I won't ever be able to fully enjoy.

But luckily for those of you who get all your fic recommendations from me (understandable, given the lack of other options when it comes to finding fanfic reviews), I only review complete stories for Fandom Classics posts.  So with your mind now at ease, go ahead and check out my review of A little loopy., by warewolves.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Mini-Reviews Round 108

It's December, which must mean it's time for FiMFic avatar Christmas hats!  As usual, The Descendant has kicked it off; if you like both fun and Christmas, get your avatar blinged out for the holidays!  And if you hate one or both of those things, then... don't, I guess.

Either way, here's some reviews!  Today, I've got a few stories that I didn't finish for one reason or another.  Find out why, below the break.