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I discovered something recently that blew my mind: did you know that when most people eat pineapple, it doesn't leave a painful burning sensation in their mouths for up to an hour afterwards? Shocked my sister, too; apparently, we get that from dad (who knew that wasn't normal, but never told us (probably because he figured we knew that wasn't a typical reaction to pineapple). I mean, in retrospect it seems obvious that that's not what's supposed to happen, but I always just thought that was the price you paid for eating pineapple. Totally worth it, regardless. Still, mind = blown.
But on to a fruit which, to the best of my knowledge, treats me the same way it treats everyone else! Or, more specifically, on to a story about the imaginary ponies which harvest that fruit. My review of Applejack's Tax Relief Plan, below the break.
Impressions before reading: I have no memory of this fic despite having read it, which usually isn't a great sign. On the other hand, the reason I know I read it at all is because apparently I upvoted it; that's gotta be a good sign, right? Well, let's see whether Chris circa late 2012 had good taste or not...
Zero-ish spoiler summary: When Applejack discovers that she's 1000 bits in arrears to the Equestrian Revenue Service, and that she only has two months to pay it off, she's forced to get creative with her fundraising... and Big Mac is not going to like her solution.
Thoughts after reading: Looking at it now, it's easy enough to see both why I enjoyed this story enough to upvote it, and why I subsequently forgot all about it: it's a light, fluffy piece of writing with little of note to it, but it's got a number of amusing digressions and additions which make it, if not exactly memorable, at least more enjoyable in the moment than a typical "transient entertainment" fic might be.
Let's start with the "transient entertainment" bit. This story is, when you boil it down, pretty straightforward and uninspired. "AJ gets mares to pay to watch Big Mac work up a lather in the fields, PG-rated jokes abound, close on a turnabout note without really resolving the situation" is a very sitcom-y premise, and this story hits the beats you would expect it to, mostly competently but without otherwise notable aplomb. It is, in many ways, a story which you will enjoy as much as you enjoy the premise itself.
The positive exceptions to that "in many ways," though, comes from the various digressions which litter the fic. I use "digressions" loosely, here; where the phrase might conjure up an image of scene breaks and narrative leaps, Seether00 manages to make his asides a flowing part of the narrative, which I appreciated. Bits about Celestia doing her own taxes or Snowflake's job are worked into the story elegantly, such that they barely feel like they're additions to the plot as opposed to intrinsic parts of it.
With that said, though, most of the humor (and wordcount) consist of "obvious" jokes: chaste-enough-for-general-audiences sexual allusions, plot contrivance for the sake of setting up an equally contrived plot, and character-breaking for the sake of a quick laugh. None of these are particularly poorly executed, but they make for a very "surface level" approach to comedy.
I should also mention that AJ's accent is both overwritten and, occasionally, altogether baffling. "'Ya’ll be right, Twi’light'" particularly stuck out to me as sounding more like a line from a really regrettable minstrel show than anything else, but voicing is an issue here throughout (not just AJ, for that matter: Big Mac has some of the same issues, and Luna's Olde Englishe isn't without its flaws). So there's that.
★★☆☆☆ (what does this mean?)
This story is better than the type of story it is, if that makes sense. Still, it's constrained by the general shortcomings of "the type of story it is," and is ultimately an unmemorable, fairly predictable short story; the type one reads in an idle few minutes, gets a chuckle out of, and then promptly forgets about. But it does that job quite well, and... well, it definitely doesn't reward deeper reading, but it's got enough of interest to hold one's attention better than the average "for distracted reading only" fic.
Recommendation: This is an above-average "I need some short light reading" story, and I'd recommend it as such. It's probably not worth a try if you're sensitive to overwritten accents, though, and isn't likely to be of interest to those looking for more than surface-level humor in their fiction.
Next time: Salvation, by Cold in Gardez