At a rest stop on her way to Appleloosa, Twilight Sparkle has a rare moment to reflect...
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SaturdayMusings in a Post-Suffering Era12 comments · 165 views
Boy, let me tell you guys, it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas here... and I'm not sure I like it. I know it's a cliche to say "Golly, the holidays just seem to come earlier every year!" but holy hell, it really seems like the holidays came super early this year. Around November 10th, the Salvation Army guys were out with the buckets and bells, the local supermarket started selling Christmas trees, Starbucks was selling their holiday drinks, the town put up their snowflake-shaped lights along Main Street, and a couple of the houses in the neighborhood put up Christmas lights. Now, the first three I could just chalk up as capitalists looking to jump-start the holiday shopping season, but the last two don't have a monetary incentive behind them, so the consumerist explanation doesn't quite explain what I'm seeing here. I could swear that just last year I didn't see this kind of upstart celebrationism until Thanksgiving. The holiday season is my favorite time of the year, but I don't think I'm ready for two months of it.
Oh yeah, and then last week, right as all this holiday stuff was going up, we got hit by a snowstorm and it's been so cold since that the minuscule two inches or so of snow we got still hasn't melted. Winter was really in a hurry to arrive, I guess.
In writing news, I'm starting up a little non-pony writing endeavor that I'm excited to invite you guys to read: it's a blog called Your Future Sucks. The first post explains the idea behind the title, but basically the concept is that I'm going to talk about various visions of the future, from things like world's fairs and Tomorrowland to more contemporary notions like driverless cars or to apocalyptic visions of environmental doom, to ponder what these visions say about us as individuals and as a society. On the way, I'll poke fun at what I find to be absurd ideas about the future (the real meaning behind "your future sucks") as well as praise a few that genuinely excite me.
Right now, there's only a couple of posts up: the first introducing the premise of the blog, the second a writing piece I did in the style of a news article about a future in which Miami is rebuilding after a devastating hurricane. For upcoming posts, I'm planning to discuss various things such as the fate of Walt Disney's Tomorrowland, Silicon Valley's branding of the future, how we talk (or don't) about the future nowadays, and maybe an invention or two while I'm at it.
Anyway, please go check it out and comment if you like what you see. I'm much more likely to actively pursue a writing endeavor if I think there are people who will appreciate it.
And lastly, it's late November, and if you're in college and your college experience is anything like mine was, this means you're entering panic mode as the end of the semester and the finals it brings is now looming large in your mind. Or perhaps you're feeling gloomy from the sudden onset of winter weather, or sick from the cold/flu season that comes with said weather. Or maybe work sucks. And the holiday season isn't here yet (despite the signs claiming otherwise), so the joy of presents and cookies is still too distant to be appreciated just yet.
But take heart, for the end of the year lies on the not-so-distant horizon. So, as a public service, allow me to share the greatest pick-me-up ever created. Listen, then repeat as necessary until you are filled with the steely confidence needed to face the world.
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Guys, I gotta be honest: Suffering the Feature Box just hasn’t been much fun lately.
Mostly, it’s just me. The novelty has long since worn off, I’m in a bit of a creative funk at the moment, so the enthusiasm just isn’t there for me. I’m getting to that point where I’m doing these posts more out of a sense of obligation than because I actually want to do it, and that is not a place you should be when it comes to fan fiction.
However, the box really hasn’t been helping me out lately. Long-time readers might have noticed that there’s been a general uptick in the quality of stories in the box lately. Or at the very least, there are fewer real stinkers in there, and the notably bad stories were the basis of most of my humor. And I never really intended for this to become a serious review series, so this is a problem for me.
You might have also noticed that the recent change to the box mechanics, which allows stories to stay on the box much longer than before, has screwed with my routine a bit. But I feel like it has also made my reading selection somewhat… stale, giving me less variety to play around with. Case in point: earlier this week, the top clopfic in the box was Gleaming Shield’s Teats (which is still in the box, by the way). Now the top clopfic in the box is… its sequel. Oh thanks, box.
But honestly, that’s all incidental. The long and short of it is that I think I need to take a break, so that’s what I’m going to do. Sometime next week (contingent on when the stories currently in the box finally fall off) I’ll do a “final” review post, and then stop the series for an indefinite length of time. Maybe at some point I’ll be able to come back to it when I’m feeling fresh, or maybe I’ll start some other endeavor. Who knows? (Certainly not me!)
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You thought it was over? You can’t hide from this thing.
I happened to know about this Button -ash onslaught ahead of time, seeing as I was invited to be a part of it. However, my idea didn’t really pan out, so I dropped out pretty quickly. I very briefly considered writing “Button Cash,” in which literally every line of dialogue uttered by Button Mash would be a line from a Johnny Cash song, which meant coming up with a series of situations which would justify him saying things like “I fell into a burning ring of fire” or “Tell the rambler, the gambler, and the back-biter.” It was one of those ideas that seemed funny when I thought of it, but once I actually started writing it I immediately realized wasn’t funny at all.
That, plus it turns out that listening to Johnny Cash songs is a terrible way to put you in the mood for writing silly comedy. (I know, whoda thunk?)
But even if I couldn’t write something in time for this, I can still attach my ego to this thing somehow. That’s right, it’s review time! Let’s take it from the top, in alphabetical order:
What I see: One day, a young colt found a briefcase. This colt’s name was Button Mash, the briefcase contained a big red button, and the world and all who inhabited it were cursed to damnation.
Thoughts coming out: Raz really doesn’t like Button Mash. Let’s just leave it at that.
Who would like this: People who don’t like Button Mash.
What I see: Button the Masher, the most fearsome warrior on the battlefields, defends his championship as king of the bloody hill from all contenders. But today there is a new combatant in the fight, one who could prove to usurp Button's title and honor from him.
Not if Button's axe has anything to say about that!
Thoughts coming out: Pretty straightforward, this one. Button Mash takes his king of the hill game too seriously, hurts another pony, then proceeds to get increasingly grounded for it.
I’m not sure where the “bash” comes in.
Who would like this: People who like seeing Button get grounded.
What I see: Bereft of arcade money, Button Mash journeys out into Ponyville with the burden of finding things to do with his Saturday. Things begin to look up when he finds a penny on the ground.
Bereft of allowance money, Diamond Tiara finds Button Mash and his penny.
This should end well.
Thoughts coming out: This one actually has a lot of really clever (and cleverly subtle) jokes sprinkled throughout, and Diamond Tiara (who shows up trying to claim Button’s penny for herself) is downright charming in her deviousness.
Who would like this: People who like seeing Diamond Tiara be devious.
What I see: A tale of fashion in the workplace.
Thoughts coming out: The grammar is this one is pretty dang rusty, though I do appreciate the misdirect in the title. Well… actually, it’s not really a misdirect at all, but it’s just probably not what you were expecting.
Who would like this: People who don’t know who Button Mash is.
What I see: Button Mash has a plan to win over his one true love.
Unfortunately, that plan involves doing something athletic.
Thoughts coming out: Button dashes in order to get with Dash, before his hopes are promptly dashed.
There’s almost no comedy to speak of. But there is some cutesy, inoffensive and very mild shipping at the end.
Who would like this: People who like shipping Button Mash.
What I see: It's just a normal day in Ponyville when Button Mash gets a bizarre curse.
Thoughts coming out: Well, that was… completely nonsensical.
Also, I’m disappointed that Flash Sentry never made an appearance.
Who would like this: People who like random nonsense.
Button Gash by Regidar
What I see: Button Mash and Rumble, the best of butt-buddies, find their relationship challenged one day after Button is unable to keep his mouth off of things that aren't his.
Through the two young colts' shared experience, they find that their relationship only grows stronger.
Thoughts coming out: …
Let’s just move on.
Who would like this: People who like… um… Button Mash abuse?
What I see: In which Button Mash shouts incoherently at the most advanced hoofball simulation ever developed, Sweetie Belle observes and provides internal commentary, and something just left of shipping ensues.
Thoughts coming out: This one is actually pretty sweet and adorable for what it is. Even though it stops shy of being a shipfic, there’s genuine emotion to the relationship presented here. For all its silliness and FIFA video game references, there’s a wonderful sincerity to this fic.
Who would like this: People who like good writing. And soccer references.
What I see: Button Mash, Rumble and Truffle Shuffle have been invited along on a Nightmare Night Eve camping trip by the Cutie Mark Crusaders. Their mission: help them earn their merit badges! But when a ghost story turns night into fright, can they save the Cutie Mark Crusaders from the creepy crawlies lurking in the Whitetail Woods?
Thoughts coming out: This one’s a pretty straightforward tale with a very slice-of-life feel to it; the CMC invite three colts to camp in the woods, which leads to a series of events involving goulash and a ghoul in ash. It’s mostly cutesy and involves foals acting like foals. In fact, Button isn’t even the focus of this one for much of it.
My one real critique is that loquacious dialogue isn’t a very interesting character trait.
Who would like this: People who like reading about kids doing kid stuff.
Button Hash by shortskirtsandexplosions
What I see: It's been two days since Apple Bloom and her three schoolfilly friends went missing. After searching and searching, an exhausted and hopeless Applejack comes home to catch some much needed sleep so she can rejoin the town's quest in the morning. All of the sudden, she wakes up in the middle of the night to strange noises, bloodstained doorframes, and a lone button lying on her kitchen room floor.
Applejack is about to learn true despair.
Thoughts coming out: What, no marijuana references? What about hash browns? No? Well, screw this.
Actually, this one is pretty amazing, if just for what skirts pulled off in the span of about a week. It’s very riveting and unfolds in absolutely terrifying fashion, it quite fitting for the season. But fair warning: this one is not for the faint of heart. Maybe I just need to watch more horror movies, but I was actually feeling a little nauseous at the end there.
Who would like this: People who like horror and gore. And gorey horror.
What I see: This is Ⓑⓤⓣⓣⓞⓝ Ⓜⓐⓢⓗ: Ⓣⓗⓔ Ⓖⓐⓜⓔ. The world's first-ever RPG/FPS/MMO/MOBA/RTS/TBS, now on Joy Boys near you.
You are Button Mash. You have just woken up. You are also playing a video game, because when are you not playing a video game? Hopefully you can make it downstairs. Breakfast is starting.
Thoughts coming out: This one is a whole lot of fun; besides being full of great jokes and just generally a delight to read, it’s also a great send-up of choose your own adventure stories, utilizing the premise and poking fun at it with equal gusto. It also plays well with the Button Mash mythos (by which I mean the fanon character created by Jan), so there’s that too.
Who would like this: People who like Button Mash.
What I see: Button Nash didn't used to be a pony. At least, not before he died.
Thoughts coming out: I think I love this story just for this line alone:
With a scowl, he shoved the impotent joystick to the side as he clambered off of the stool and listened to it flop back to its neutral position.
Stop it with the sexual imagery!
Actually, this one is kinda fun. I guess the premise of this one is that Button Nash is the reincarnation of someone from Nashville, who dearly misses the wholesome soul food he loves so dearly. For something this short, it’s not exactly straightforward nor is there much of a conclusion, but then I think that’s part of its charm. It rambles and moves at its own pace, but it still has a soulful tale to tell.
Who would like this: People who like soul food.
Button Splash by Pres– I mean, uh, “ShiveredTimbers”
What I see: Button Mash has a terrible secret. Unfortunately for him, it's about to come to light as he and Sweetie Belle have their first time together...
Thoughts coming out: Others may say “wat” to this story, but I say:
Actually, this one is pretty dang funny. There are some really solid lines, the twist is completely random and hilarious, and altogether this one is just really fun to roll with, for those who can dig the random and mildly risqué.
Who would like this: People who are totally into wet stuff.
What I see: I like to write poems. They are about rocks. My sister says I should try writing about things other than rocks. I don't see the appeal, but Pinkie is very insightful.
Pinkie said buttons are a popular topic lately, and they should be paired with something ending in "ash".
Button squash end in "ash". They are not rocks, but I like them.
This is about button squash.
Thoughts coming out: This one is pretty adorable, with the sisterly relationship between Maud and Pinkie Pie being the focus of this fic. There are also a couple of good jokes about poetry that I appreciated, and a bit of meta humor that I didn’t mind, mostly because I think I agreed with it.
Who would like this: People who like Maud Pie. (So… everyone, really.)
What I see: There is a legend that Button's Stash is so Button Brash that you'll Button Crash in a Button Flash. Unfortunately, the legend got a little Button Rehashed about the Button Cache. Whoops.
Thoughts coming out: The powers of punnery are strong in this one.
Who would like this: People who want to live, to long and to love, to lose and to laugh.
…And people who like puns. Them too.
What I see: Left home alone after being grounded for mouthing off to Miss Cheerilee, Button Mash goes snooping through his Dad's closet. He finds a box of relics from his Dad's past, including a few vinyl records from some odd-sounding bands that turn out to be just the thing to incite a bit of preteen rebellion.
Thoughts coming out: Yeah, this one was pretty good. Lots of solid heavy metal references in here. Actually, I was a little surprised; I’m not anything even approaching a metalhead and I still got most of the jokes (my favorite being someone hearing “I wanna rock!” and expecting to see a twisted sister burst through the door… or something along those lines).
Who would like this: People who were raised in the 1980s, me thinks.
What I see: A life in a day of a not really a pony Button Mash, and other weird things.
Thoughts coming out: And to wrap this up, we’ve got this… uh… well, I’m not sure what to call this thing. It’s random as hell, clearly went through no editing, and left my mind a scattered mess. The chapter title probably sums it up just as well as anything can, to be honest.
Also, I didn’t pick up on any Trigun references, for those who were wondering.
Who would like this: People who… um… *scratches head* …I got nothing.