Monday, May 30, 2016

Mini-Reviews Round 137

Well, Applejack's "Day" Off was... well, it was certainly an episode.

Carrot Top has little interest in the spa, herself, but Roseluck has been extolling its virtues all week, and she finally agreed to come along on a pampering excursion.  The face you see above is that of a pony who has not yet realized that her "pampering excursion" is going to consist of waiting around for several hours, then eventually going home when the spa closes with no deep-tissue massage, no steam-bath, and sore hooves from standing in line all day.

I mean, yes, Applejack and Rainbow Dash are playing completely against type for no good reason(s), AJ's subsistence-level lifestyle (she still can't afford a single hired hand!) makes less sense with every passing season, and oh my God how big is this freaking spa, not only does it have a main room/tub big enough to fit Steven Magnet but it also apparently has several miles of twisting corridors, how much to Aloe and Lotus charge that they can afford the rent on this super-mansion, but besides all of that, it was... well, completely unmemorable, but not actually offensive.  That's not great, but it's not the worst thing you can be!

Speaking of things that are "not actually offensive," let's talk about fanfiction!  My thoughts on a few recently-read fics, below the break.

Memory Lapse, by Psyga315

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  The girls realize that there are important events in their lives that they've been forgetting, causing them to re-learn the same friendship lessons over and over--and only Pinkie knows why.

A few thoughts:  There's an interesting meta-fictional conceit here, but unfortunately, this felt more like an idea than a fully-formed story.  The reasons why this is happening, why Pinkie knows, and why she doesn't tell anypony are explained rather than explored, laid out in ways which present the concept rather than building a narrative or exploring the ponies' characterizations.  It also gets rather dark, and paints Twilight and co. as somewhat more vicious and aggressive than I see them.  Then again, this is the same Twilight who keeps solving her problems with rainbow-explosions and magic lasers, so maybe I'm the one with the skewed perspective.

Recommendation:  If a clever concept can carry you through a short (<2000 word) story, go ahead and give this a try; despite its meta core, this does keep itself grounded in Equestria, and answers its central question adequately.  It probably isn't of broad interest outside of that particular audience, though.

Rarity's Fashion Alman-yak, by Ceffyl Dwr

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  When Rarity comes down with a cold, Coco Pommel is pressed into service opening the newest branch of her boutique... in Yakyakistan.

A few thoughts:  True talk, guys: I'm still not tired of the yaks.  I don't think I will ever get tired of the yaks.  There is nothing about hyper-belligerence for barely-scrutable reasons which isn't hilarious (spellcheck doesn't think "scrutable" is a word.  After all these years, I thought I'd beaten it into submission, but sometimes it still fights with me!).  Anyway, this story ends up being more "cute" than "catastrophic," focusing less on yak-antics than on Coco learning how to meet the needs of an entirely new brand of customer.  Within that paradigm, I thought it worked well; Coco makes a nice contrast to her surroundings, the situation is just ridiculous enough that I almost expected it to be some long-simmering revenge scheme by Rarity for Coco bailing on the first day of work in Manehattan, and it all ends on a pleasingly positive note.

Recommendation:  Obviously, there's not a great deal of hidden depth here, but for readers looking for a little bit of expansion on a character, and plenty of yak-based humor, this would be a good choice.

The Royal Wedding, by uSea

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  An irreverent poem about Princess Luna's marriage to Trixie.

A few thoughts:  Ready for an old story?  Here's one from 2011, back before FiMFic had a 1000 word minimum, and one could publish a poem written for a 300-word challenge as its own story.  Anyway, I read this because I really enjoyed several of uSea's stories, and this was the only one I hadn't read.  Unfortunately, there's not much here to recommend: as something written in a two-hour time limit for a contest, it's fine, but outside of that, it's a pleasantly silly but not terribly well-constructed set of rhyming quadruplets.

Recommendation:  If you're looking for a place to jump into this (sadly departed) author's writing, try the (Highly Chris-approved!) Ditzy Do and the Blustery Day.  If you want a short bit of poetic goofiness and don't care overmuch about structure, this is fine, but it's hard to enthusiastically recommend as a piece of general writing.


  1. Yes, it was definitely an episode.

    Now if only I could convince people that Saddle Row was an episode, too.

    1. You can convince us that it was a great episode!

    2. I'm with jugs on this one. One of my favorites of the season, and one I'd probably name within my top 25.

  2. Finally saw the episode a couple hours ago (some three-day weekend this has turned out to be). It was OK. Not outright bad like some inexplicably popular episodes, but not great either

    That bit with Dash was a funny — albeit clichéd — idea, but was undermined by her getting a hooficure of all things! I'm willing to accept the OoC behavior (though it could've been handled better), but that oversight ruined the entire joke

    Also, they spent way to much time explaining how the heated towels were exacerbating the steam deficiency

    That's probably my biggest issue with the episode: it didn't feel like there was enough material for a whole episode, but they just stretched out what little they had instead of developing it further

    This isn't the first time that's happened, either. Maybe they should start doing two 11-minute segments on occasion

    1. "That's probably my biggest issue with the episode: it didn't feel like there was enough material for a whole episode, but they just stretched out what little they had instead of developing it further"

      But don't you get it? It's genius in its metaness! P.S.: I am NOT a crank.

    2. Having rewatched the spa scene from Ponyville confidential, I'm rescinding my point regarding the OoC behavior and hooficures

      Also, I just realized how odd it is that we have both "rewatch" and "review" as words. The latter somehow seems more correct, but is potentially confusing

  3. Here's your next story, Chris:

    Cheese Sandwich goes to Yakyakistan to throw a party there and ends up meeting "Weird Al" Yakovic.