Second, and more importantly, Carrot Top!
What, did you think I wouldn't notice Carrot Top sitting third from the left, top row? I'VE GOT EYES LIKE A STEEL TRAP. As you can see, she's in literally the cheapest seats at the show; she assumed that, because it was a matinee, attendance would be sparse and she'd be able to move down to a better seat. She was half-right; there were plenty of empty spots in the "gold" and "diamond" seating areas, but it turns out the Sugarcube Corner Skyline® at Hayburger Stadium® had recently instituted a new PSL policy that allows season ticket-holders to hold and sell their paid-for spaces through the Wonderbolts' resale front for a small commission. The upshot? Carrot Top could've moved down a few rows... but only if she wanted to cough up an extra 80 bits. Oh well; at least she wasn't sitting behind anyone wearing a ridiculously large hat this time.
Plus, she was able to get a signature from the Wonderbolts' newest member! And it only required standing in line for four hours in the blazing hot sun! Unfortunately, she didn't get quite the reaction she was expecting when she brought her "souvenir" home. "You got Rainbow Dash's signature? Rainbow Dash's?" Written Script would ask her, his confusion plain to see on his face. When Carrot Top assured him that RD's signature was going to be worth a lot someday, he shrugged. "I suppose we'd better start saving our monthly weather bills, then. You... you do remember that they're signed by the Ponyville weather manager, right? And that that manager is still Rainbow Dash?"
Carrot Top did not, in fact, remember that. But she didn't admit that she didn't remember it, which (she was pretty sure) was the important thing here.
Okay, okay. On to some reviews of fanfics! Get 'em below.
The Feast, by Professor Tacitus
Zer0-ish spoiler summary: A spy who's infiltrated the advisors of Princess Platinum's sister discovers machinations at work--that she plans to poison somepony, and he intends to make sure it isn't him.
A few thoughts: The "twists and turns" here are a little too obvious for the story to feel really devious, but for such a short story (about 1500 words), they're enough to remain satisfying. What doesn't work here, though, is the connection to FiM: the placement of this story in the past notwithstanding, it's a terribly vicious scenario and character set which is presented devoid of any mooring or context. Add to that the lack of any secondary appeal (that is, the poison-plotting is the only thing going on here--there's no significant political exploration, lore-building, character development, or the like), and this is a story that is likely to alienate a lot of readers.
Recommendation: That said, there's nothing really wrong with a story having a relatively small target audience; it just means that any recommendation is necessarily going to exclude most readers. So, unless you'd like a short and simplistic high-stakes poker game with almost no "pony" grounding, this probably isn't the story for you.
Modern Vortextology, by latte89
Zero-ish spoiler summary: Celestia calls Twilight to alert her to a terrible doom which now threatens all the lands. Except, it turns out Celestia's not the only one aware of this phenomenon... and in fact, Twilight knows rather more about it than Celestia herself does.
A few thoughts: You know, it's funny. When I see a 90 at the end of someone's name (assuming it's their birth year), I get this reflexive "Oh god, they're so young! Wait, no, I'm old. Wait, that's worse :(" feeling (and don't get me started on 00's!). But when I see the 89 on this author's name, it feels fine. I mean, I was born in the 80's, s/he was born in the 80's, that's a totally normal decade to be born in. Never mind that, had latte been born one year later, I'd be grumbling in my head about whippersnappers on my lawn.
As for thoughts about the story... there's a promising idea here--that Celestia hasn't really kept up with the changes in Equestria over the last thousand years--but it ends up straddling the line between comedy and serious in a way which leaves it more neither than both. Celestia comes off as a bit too unaware, and Twilight as far too obtuse, to really work as anything but a joke, and yet, there's not a lot of humor to this piece. Couple that with dialogue that wanders in circles somewhat longer than is really necessary, and this felt a little dull to me despite an interesting core concept.
Recommendation: With that said, readers who enjoy SoL interpretations of comedic characterizations might want to give this a look, as might readers who just generally enjoy seeing Celestia presented as less than infallible. It's not for those who seek a bunch of laughs nor much in the way of serious character study, though. And it's definitely not for anyone under the age of *does math* oh God, 1990 was 27 years ago and that means there are 27-year-olds running around who were born in the 90's I cannot possibly be this old.
The Little Mermare, by AbsoluteAnonymous
Zero-ish spoiler summary: A kelpie like Lyra has certain needs. To shift to their own form and embrace the water. To make their enchanting music. And beyond that, they have an ever-present craving...
A few thoughts: A dark story told from its monster's perspective, this does a good job of getting into Lyra's head and showing how she ticks. Where it falls a little short is in capturing the essential otherness which it aimed for; Lyra may be a monster (albeit not a particularly malicious one), but she feels very human (/pony) in a way which slightly detracts from the story; it frames things like here "seeming callousness" as actual callousness rather than a true failure to comprehend. But "falls short" is by no means the same as "fails;" this fic does capture that essence in places, and the matter-of-fact narration style, interlaced with an occasional bit of vivid imagery, fits the tale being told like a glove.
Recommendation: If you enjoy dark fairie stories, this adopts many of the elements of one while telling them from the fairie (kelpie)'s perspective.