Friday, September 15, 2017

Mini-Reviews Round 201

So, the fun of working with third-graders: yesterday, a boy asked to go to the bathroom.  A few minutes later, he comes back in the class, and very urgently tells me that I need to come to the boy's bathroom.  Thinking that there's some problem (and, this being a newcomers class, him not having enough English for me to get more specifics from him easily), I hustle over there in case someone's sick, or a toilet's overflowing, or something else is going on that's going to necessitate calling the nurse and/or janitor.

Turns out the kid had just dropped a particularly large deuce, and wanted to show it off.  Some things transcend culture, and boys being proud of their bowel movements is one of them.  Though socially appropriate ways to express that pride remain a work in progress.

Speaking of the often odious but vaguely fascinating results of digestion: fanfic reviews!  Get some, below the break.

Are We the Baddies?, by Jawjoe

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  After his meeting with Dragon Lord Ember, King Thorax gets together with Spike to chat.  He's been following Ember's advice, and he's not entirely sure that the results are... well, good.

A few thoughts:  Reading this story without having seen the episode it's a response to is an interesting experience (I have yet to watch any of the new MLP episodes since my vacation.  Blame a lack of time, and one episode in particular sounding, from the description, like it will be unbelievably disappointingly depressing, making me actively dread getting around to it).  Anyway, the author describes this as "pretty much a s[***]post," and while that's harsher than I would have been, I can't really argue with the sentiment.  It's an unabashed mini-screed against the things the author doesn't like about the episode in particular, and the current state of the show in general, which twists its characters voices and reads improbable (well, let's say "plausible so long as one is extremely selective about one's interpretations of show events") explanations into minor show elements in order to advance its agenda.  Jawjoe lays it on thick at all points (re: Starlight: "And anyway, that was all before she created and wiped out entire timelines at a whim because some colt was mean to her when she was a filly. Water under the bridge"), which gives this a decent humor value--if you find plothole-bashing and canon-sniping funny.

Recommendation:  This is the kind of fix-fic that can be cathartically enjoyable if you happen to agree with the author, and is best avoided with extreme prejudice otherwise.  So: if you hated Triple Threat specifically, and everything since Twilight got her wings generally, consider this if you're looking for a cynical mockery of the same.  If that's not you, you can safely skip this.

Twilight Sort-Of Kills Her Friends, by Mad Hattie

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Twilight doesn't want to be alone forever, so she finds a way to make all her friends immortal, too!  Just one catch: she had to kill them first.  And not everypony is too thrilled about her "generous gift" to them.

A few thoughts:  For the second time in as many stories, the author sort-of apologizes to me for their story ("The meds I'm on don't advise alcohol, so instead I drank three cups of coffee and wrote this. I'm probably sorry").  In this case, the story is significantly better than you might fear from the disclaimer, title, and Random tag... but it's undeniably the type of story that those things would lead you to expect.  In other words, this is a fine example of "what it is," but in no way does it transcend "what it is."  There's some fine individual jokes here, mostly based around gleeful character destruction, along with a few bits that go nowhere and have no payoff, and a few more that fall painfully flat.  The good bits are actually pretty funny, though, and that's more than a lot of stories like this can honestly claim.

Recommendation:  If you enjoy character-destruction random comedies, this is an above-average example.  If they aren't your thing, there's nothing here that's likely to make you rethink your opinion.

Carrot and Stick, by Tumbleweed

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Famous hero (and secret coward, letch, and all-around not-hero) Flash Sentry thought he was through playing the paragon--until Secret Agent Golden Harvest (or, as her family knows her, Carrot Top) drags him in for one more go-round.  She's going to a family reunion, and she needs a date--a suitably impressive one, preferably.  And of course, things only go more pear-shaped from there...

A few thoughts:  This is the sequel to the author's excellent The Prisoner of Zebra, which I highly recommended via the RCL not long ago.  Go read that first--and then, if it's your speed, you should absolutely continue on to this one.  The way Flash plays off the ponies who surround him fits his hapless demeanor wonderfully, and Carrot Top especially is a great character in her own right. That's all true in the first story as well, but here we get to see her family and a bit of her non-agency life, and this really fleshes her out without mitigating her dour headstrongness. And the anticlimax of everything sort of... working itself out, with minimal assistance from Flash himself, is right on point.

Recommendation:  This story doesn't stand particularly well on its own--there's not a lot that you need to know going in, but not having the tonal and character-relationship grounding of Zebra could definitely limit one's enjoyment.  If Zebra is to your liking, consider this sequel highly recommended.  If not... well, then you probably weren't planning on reading the sequel to begin with.


  1. I'm going to take a wild guess that Fame and Misfortune is the one you're dreading.

    1. That would be the one. From the description and the clip I saw, it looks like everything I disliked about Slice of Life, but with the added bonus of being aggressively snide towards its target rather than cynically "friendly."

      Hopefully I'm wrong about that; I like to like the show, honest!

  2. The opening to this post was hilarious. I'm laughing unstoppably. The way you set up that joke, the payoff, the turns of phrase you used! Haha. I needed a good laugh. I did a test in natural science today and had a panic attack trying to remember the chemical formula for the sulphate ion. But now I feel better––the power of comedy.

    1. Glad I could help. I'll admit that I didn't really see the humor of it in the moment, but in retrospect, it was pretty funny.

  3. "Turns out the kid had just dropped a particularly large deuce, and wanted to show it off."

    Man, these High School kids nowadays! XD

  4. So I really enjoyed "Are We the Baddies?" But at the same time, though I kind of agree with a bunch that's related to the more recent years, it's not too hard to think that the seeds were always there, starting from whatever the Elements of Harmony did to Nightmare Moon (or of course "reform spells"). But it gets a lot harder to ignore when the targets are the good guys and everything is framed differently and the targets don't act in a way that feels natural afterward.

  5. You've got the wrong link for the last story.

  6. You need to watch the most recent episode (19), even if you don't watch anything else ever again. Seriously. I mean this.

  7. I did the same thing to one of my professors once.

  8. I think Are We the Baddies? probably works better if you're familiar with the Mitchell and Webb sketch referenced in the story's description. (In short, an SS guy in WW2 notices the skulls on their caps and asks his mate the question.) I mildly enjoyed the fic even though I also quite liked "Triple Threat".