One more pony story review, a special request by the author Fillyfooler. I've been a member of her group for a while and she seems like a decent sort so I figured it would be polite.
Lyra's Gift and Bon Bon's Curse by Fillyfooler
Genre: Romantic Drama/Comedy
A favor for a good writer. Fillyfooler was one of the first folks I can recall knowing here on FiMFiction and who actually made me aware of the term 'Filly Fooler.' Now I use that along with 'Colt Cuddler' to add some cute touches to my stories. There's plenty of chances for me to do so, after all. I found out, at the end of my reviews, that I had missed a story by this kind writer so I immediately went back, got the story and brushed up on it. The premise isn't new but it was less old when it was first written.
Lyra is collecting ingredients to perform a spell (given one of the listed ingredients this was written somewhere around the time when "The Cutie Pox" was a new episode.) She's getting annoyed because everyone and their dog has a comment about the spell she's out to perform, and has some kind of comment to make regarding Lyra and her relationship with Bon Bon as well. So she's a bit on edge.
All that melts away back at home, where she and Bon Bon get down to the magic: Making a baby. Mare/Mare couples can make a child together, using a very tricky spell. It requires expensive ingredients, love in the relationship and can fail. Making babies between females is a common trope but the various solutions run the range from creative to the cheap. It's nice to see something that's not futa, or overly easy. My own solution is too convoluted but that's beside the point. This one has the proper reverence and difficulty so it's fine.
The story is halted on a cliffhanger/plot twist so there's a lot of anticipation. It also needs an editing pass. There are examples of dialogue lines mashed together (That is, two characters speaking in the same line, quotation marks and all), some misused words, some missing punctuation and other such small matters. A good editor could put a coat of varnish on it fairly quickly. It needs a continuation is all.
Recommendation: Suggested for Lyra/Bon Bon fans.
I had a bit of a time choosing what to review. Books seem like the natural choice, I've read my fair share of them, of all types, and I can get rather impassioned about them. I can even wax eloquent about children's books when they have a certain degree of quality, akin to My Little Pony. But I didn't have any books read and ready right at the moment. Movies seemed like a good second choice and I've seen a few lately. I honestly plan everything from classics to newer things but I need to grab more of those said classics before I start anything. So I settled on music.
Even though I was a band geek (alto saxophone, played for both marching band and jazz band, French horn in the concert band) I'm not what might be defined as a 'musical' person. I failed miserably at a non-academic class that included identifying musical styles. I can't tell you what the difference between Dubsep and Techno is even if you gave me a million years and a million dollars. It's all too subtle for me. Part of the problem is I really have a tin ear. I have genuine hearing loss in both ears (worse in one than the other, though not such that I can really notice) caused by frequent ear infections that required occasional surgery in my younger days. It means that I generally like "blunt" music that is simple and straightforward. I listen to the top of a song, and thus do better with things like Filk, and Folk, which is very often a voice and a guitar, and nothing else. The focus is simple: hear the lyrics and let the beat carry the tone to aid in remembering it. To this day one of my proudest moments is remembering all the lyrics to "The Horse-Tamer's Daughter", a filksong that is 13 minutes long.
Maybe next time I'll review Filk music, I certainly know plenty of it. This time though, I want to do a suite of reviews focusing on the career of one artist. I'll be talking about the four albums that I own, though he has more at this point. That artist is Voltaire, the stage name of Cuban-American Gothic singer and artist Aurelio Voltaire Hernandez.
I first became aware of Voltaire in High School, my senior year. I was friends with a junior who was part of the little clique of misfits who were all various types of gothic (I was Perky, he was some other class that was generally cheerful.) He shared Voltaire's debut album with me and I was hooked. That freshman effort is entitled "The Devil's Bris" (Projekt, 1998). The packaging is dark, the song titles are suggestive in a dark fashion and the music itself is suitably heavy and simple. But simple in a good way. Drums, a guitar, occasionally a cello and one damn fine violin. This sounds like the music that a gypsy would play while they were putting a curse on you and your whole family if you really, really deserved it. The songs have a sense of seriousness and gravity, saving for the tracks "Oweee" and "When You're Evil." Incidentally, "When You're Evil" became a bit of a phenomenon among goths and others, such that it became his version of Leslie's Fish's "Banned from Argo" but I'm getting ahead of myself on several levels. There are various classes of song on the album, from screeds of pain and mistrust ("Ex Lover's Lover", "Parade" "Snakes"), to songs of love ("Anniversary", "All the way down", "Ravens Land"), various classes of madness ("The Chosen", "They Know Me") and even a song that not-so-subtly demands the murder of God ("The Man Upstairs.") The concluding song on the album is, of all things, a very nice and incredibly manic version of the traditional Jewish song "Haiveinu Shalom Alaichem." There are three words in the song, they get repeated for two and a half minutes and it is possibly the most fun you will ever have rocking out to a traditional Jewish song.
The next album, so far as I know, is the sophomore effort, "Almost Human" (Projekt, 2000). This album is a bit more polished. There's some extra shine on the apple you might say. Now there is a bass involved, as well as extra guitars and different drummers for different tracks. The orchestration isn't very much more complex but it shows a bit of change. There's also a bigger mix in terms of subjects. The matters under consideration can be considered a bit bigger. From religious hate and violence ("God Thinks"), to the state of the human animal ("Feathery Wings", "Almost Human") to the pain of loss ("Underground", "Anastasia.") The difference is, there are also more semi-comedic or even directly comedic songs ("The Headless Waltz", "Dead Girls", "Alchemy Mondays", "The Last Word"), and two foreign language songs ("Ringo No Uta", Japanese, and "El Barquito (Sin Mosquito) De Nuez", Spanish.) The music has something of a brighter tone on this go-round, possibly because there's more technical wizardry going on in post. Everything is more brought forward and given a greater presence. However, it never steps on the words when they're meant to be important. Now, as I said before, "When You're Evil" sort of became a thing, rather outshining all of his more "important" and "serious" songs. It's catchy, it's silly and it's irreverent. He was probably often asked to perform it at clubs and such. So, in the song "Alchemy Mondays", which is a general send-up of the gothic club scene in New York, he gets in a little dig at the popularity of his own song. It's a nice touch.
I thought I had the third album "Boo Hoo" (Projekt, 2002) but it seems to be in storage. Mostly because while it's very good and contains a few nice tracks I, personally, consider it relatively weak. Most of the songs just sort of pass in one ear and out the other for me. The ones that don't are mostly the comedic tracks "BRAINS!" (Which, indeed, was from "The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy"), and "The Vampire Club" (Which is another hilarious skewering of gothic culture and tropes) as well as the song in praise of Edgar Allen Poe "Graveyard Picnic." So... it's mostly fair-to-middlin' as far as I'm concerned. Your mileage may vary.
There have been other works (Including his Filk album "Banned on Vulcan", a collection of Star Trek themed songs, which does indeed have a Leslie Fish reference for a title, and his very serious album "Then and again" which contains the powerful song "Crusade.") But the next album that I have and listen to often is the far more frivolous "Ooky Spooky" (Projekt, 2007). I'm not going to call it his best album, but it is the most roundly entertaining. Once again, the orchestration was kicked up a few notches. Besides the usual, he has added horns, to create a Mariachi-like sound. Cuban though he is this is very much a Mexican-inspired album, as evidenced by the cover art. The mix here is slanted in the opposite direction from other albums. Gaiety now outweighs gloom, but still there are serious songs. "Blue-Eyed Matador" and "Dead" are very sober and direct, while "Stuck with you" (a duet with Amanda Palmer from The Dresden Dolls) takes a comic tone on infidelity and mutual harm but ends on a very serious note. However, there is still much hilarity. A Star Wars filksong ("Cantina", which contains far more sodomy than is prudent), a note of disdain for his old stomping grounds ("Bomb New Jersey"), another Billy and Mandy song ("Land of the Dead") and a song about a zombie prostitute ("Zombie Prostitute", shockingly enough.) Add in some cannibalism, ganja-smoking undead and a cheerful song about going to hell set to "When the saints go marching in" ("Cannibal Buffet", "Reggae Mortis", and "Hell in a Handbasket", respectively) and you round out the laughter on this creation. I highly recommend it for all.
He has produced other albums after that one, two or three. I recall that one is called "To the bottom of the sea" and I believe another is titled "To ride a black unicorn." But that hardly scratches the surface of all that the talented Señor Hernandez does. He created the comic "Oh My Goth", the character Deady, he teaches a class at an art school in New York and, most importantly to Bronies, he has made gothic My Little Pony dolls, in proper Friendship is Magic style. He's done it all, including something for this community. Truly, he is an awesome and talented fellow. Musically, creative and varied. Artistically very imaginative. And from what I have heard from those who have met him, he's actually an awesome, friendly and approachable fellow. Oh, yes, and he once appeared on an episode of "Oddities" on Science. They ended up selling him a preserved slice of brain containing lesions.
Do please look up his work and enjoy it. And thank you for bearing with this non-professional review. If I gush it is only because his music has been part of my life for a while.