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Titanium Dragon


TD writes and reviews pony fanfiction, and has a serious RariJack addiction. Send help and/or ponies.

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Oct
31st
2016

Read It Later Reviews #58 – Stupid Tree, A Confederacy of Dunce Caps, Minuette Sleeps Her Way to the Top, Page Two · 9:41pm Oct 31st, 2016

This was originally destined to be Read It Now Reviews #93, and was mostly written all the way back in September.

Then I kept on putting off finishing reading A Confederacy of Dunce Caps for no good reason.

Today, I found the time to finally finish it off… but by this point, now is really later.

Still, that’s no excuse not to post reviews!

Today’s stories:

Stupid Tree by Baal Bunny
A Confederacy of Dunce Caps by Estee
Minuette Sleeps Her Way To The Top by Lise Eclair
Page Two by Trick Question
The Wrong Side of History by Orbiting Kettle


Stupid Tree
by Baal Bunny

Slice of Life
1,562 words

Twilight confronts the Tree of Harmony about the way it never sends her on Friendship Missions. The Tree explains itself. Kind of.

Why I added it: Baal Bunny is a good writer.

Review
Twilight goes to yell at the Tree of Harmony for not sending her out on friendship missions.

The tree explains itself. Sort of.

This is more of an idea than a story, honestly, with the story serving as a very transparent vehicle for an idea. It isn’t that it is a terrible idea, but it didn’t really do it for me as a story, either. There just isn’t much else here. And while I liked the idea, I just didn't get the sense of profundity that I think that this story was aiming for.

Recommendation: Not Recommended.


A Confederacy of Dunce Caps
by Estee

Slice of Life
47,191 words

Diamond Tiara knows all about work delegation: if you want something done, have other ponies do it for you. In the name of that goal, Silver Spoon studies for both and Diamond copies her friend's efforts. It works every time. Except that Cheerilee just forced Diamond to switch desks. And with finals a week away and no personal knowledge for most of the subjects, the only ponies she can now hope to copy from are Snips and Snails. Something which may get her sent all the way back to preschool. And there's no way Diamond is going to lower herself to doing her own work.

Which means the colts are going to be learning on her behalf.

No matter what she has to do to make that happen.

It's for the best cause ever, after all.

Why I added it: I reviewed this story when it was incomplete as part of my very first review set. Now that it is done, I want to see how it turned out.

Review
Despite the seemingly silly premise, this story is surprisingly serious. After getting caught passing notes in class – again – Diamond Tiara is banished to the back of the classroom with Snips and Snails, the two dumbest ponies in class.

They fail every year and have to go to summer school to make up for it.

And Diamond Tiara… Diamond Tiara delegates. She has all those other important things to spend her time on, after all. Why bother with studying? She can always bully her father’s accountant into doing her math homework for her, or one of her dad’s other employees to write little speeches for her, and she can just copy off of Silver Spoon when there’s a test.

Well, except for on history. So at least Diamond Tiara knows that. Doubly so as her dad makes sure she does, as understanding history is important for business.

The thing is, Diamond Tiara is in deep. She’s spent a long time threatening Cheerilee – threatening the school board, really, with her dad’s power.

There’s just one little problem – her dad doesn’t know she’s been doing it. And Filthy Rich is a good pony.

A good pony who has noticed a lot of his usual customers no longer shop with him. Really, anypony whose kid is in class with Diamond Tiara. And while he has long been inclined to believe her lies, after Miss Cheerilee sends a second copy of a letter home – a letter that Diamond Tiara forged changes to the original that she gave her father – Filthy Rich has come to the awful realization that his daughter had lied about everything, and was just an awful pony to everyone.

And Diamond Tiara is terrified. Her father is really the only pony she loves, though she does also show some affection towards Silver Spoon (though she is mostly just using her, too). But if her daddy no longer loves her – her daddy, who is the only pony she has in the world – well…

Meanwhile, it turns out Snips and Snails aren’t as stupid as they look – they fail on purpose. Because their parents both think that the other is a bad influence on them, and clearly it isn’t their own kid’s fault that they ever get into trouble. That Trixie thing was all the other kid’s fault, as was everything else, all the little scrapes and goofing off. So they never get to hang out with each other outside of the context of school.

So, clearly the solution is to be in school all the time, even if that means taking remedial classes and failing on purpose.

Snails gets a lot more focus than Snips does in this story; here, he is presented as a Fluttershy of bugs, loving bugs, being able to talk to them, and loving to spend lots of time with them. He keeps a bunch of them in his room, and is deeply interested in strange or exotic bugs – but is very careful with his little buggy friends. He bonds a bit with Diamond Tiara, and while it seems at first like he is simply too stupid to have noticed the awful things that Diamond Tiara has said about him in the past, in reality, he is much brighter than he seems – and is nice enough to give her a second chance, something Diamond Tiara doesn’t really recognize she’s getting until she’s just about destroyed it.

Snips is good at what he does, but gets less characterization. Still, he works decently enough here; he causes some trouble, but also shows that there’s more to him than being a screw-up (though he is still more than a little goofy). He also makes Diamond Tiara squirm, and seems to enjoy teasing Snails lightly as well, though all in good fun.

I really liked this story. Diamond Tiara’s desperate grasping at making Snips and Snails do all the work (because the idea that she might just cram and study in that time only barely crosses her mind before being discarded – after all, she’s management) is kind of funny, but also is rather tragic, as Diamond Tiara spends most of the story absolutely terrified that her whole world is about to come crashing down on her, and desperately clings to the idea that if she can, at least, get good grades (and not have it be found out that she’s been cheating for years) that somehow everything will be okay and her daddy will still love her.

Meanwhile, the conflict between Snips and Snails and their parents (who absolutely don’t want them around each other) is fun to watch as well, as we see that Snips and Snails, despite their seeming dullness, have concocted a stupid scheme which actually works, and works far better than Diamond Tiara’s many years of built-up alienation and lies.

It is an enjoyable experience watching the mountain of lies finally come crashing down on Diamond Tiara as she tries to squirm her way out of the situation, and the hatred of Snips’ and Snails’ parents for each other ends up playing out in a rather dramatic and interesting fashion. By the end of it, we feel sorry for Diamond Tiara as she is finally forced to tell the truth and stop hiding, and we gain catharsis through her suffering as she is left having to confront what she has done and redeem herself a little, even as we see the train of her father finally learning everything rumbling down the tracks towards her and Diamond Tiara losing her status as a Karma Houdini at last.

If you like the idea of watching Diamond Tiara’s world come crashing down on her and her learning what it is like to be under the weight of the world, I think you’ll find this engaging. And if you’re one of Snips and Snails’ two fans, this is a very fun rendition of them.

Recommendation: Highly Recommended.


Minuette Sleeps Her Way To The Top
by Lise Eclaire

Comedy
1,932 words

There are many ways for a pony to climb the corporate ladder. Minuette uses a rather unorthodox method with surprising results.

Why I added it: It was featured.

Review
Minuette falls asleep after a triple shift and snores very loudly.

Ponies promote her to get rid of her.

That’s the joke.

Unfortunately, there’s not much else to this story other than that central joke, and it felt like it petered out kind of early, leaving me without much else to grab onto here. It is hard to stretch a one-note joke over 2,000 words without throwing in something else, and in this case, it felt like it outstayed its welcome.

Recommendation: Not Recommended.


Page Two
by Trick Question

Dark, Drama
1,030 words

During the first war with Tirek, Princess Celestia sends her sister Princess Luna a very short letter. Although the letter could easily fit onto a single page, Celestia uses two.

Sometimes the medium speaks louder than the message.

Why I added it: It was featured.

Review
This story is really all about the shock value. Unfortunately, that’s all there is to this story. If this was part of a bigger story, it could have more impact, but as a stand-alone piece, it doesn’t really go much of anywhere; we already knew that the situation was serious, and we already know the solution that the Royal Sisters took to deal with Tirek. I have to say I’m not even sure if this is a “story” per se; as I’ve mentioned previously, there are forms of prose fiction which, I think, are not what I would technically classify as “real stories”. “Pure” slice of life pieces are one prominent example of this, and I feel like this story feels into that same non-story category of prose fiction – while “stuff happened”, I was not left feeling like I had experienced a complete story, but rather a fragment of time.

It isn't that the idea isn't clever; it is that, in the end, I was left feeling like it was just one note spread across two pages.

Recommendation: Not Recommended.


The Wrong Side of History
by Orbiting Kettle

Comedy
1,275 words

After witnessing the collateral damage of a secret war that has been fought for generations, Twilight will finally discover the truth behind it. A truth that is far different than anything she could have imagined.

Some enemies of Celestia are hulking abominations, others are mad deities, but a few are just persistent.

Why I added it: Orbiting Kettle is a good writer.

Review
In the aftermath of a terrible pastry attack, Celestia explains to Twilight the origins of her most persistent foes.

This is silly, but it is also what is sometimes referred to as a “character destruction comedy”; the characters are given extreme character traits which distort them to the point where they aren’t even really the same people, with Luna and Celestia being the wacky ones here, Luna with her love of bad assassination attempts and defenestration, and Celestia with her determination about the matter.

I’ve never been a big fan of such things, and this is no exception. For the crowd who enjoys such things, they might get more mileage out of this than I did. But in the end I didn’t end up laughing.

Recommendation: Not Recommended.


Summary
Stupid Tree by Baal Bunny
Not Recommended

A Confederacy of Dunce Caps by Estee
Highly Recommended

Minuette Sleeps Her Way To The Top by Lise Éclair
Not Recommended

Page Two by Trick Question
Not Recommended

The Wrong Side of History by Orbiting Kettle
Not Recommended

I have to admit, I’ve had my attention span completely ruined recently. I’ve had a really terrible case of procrastination.

I’d like to blame the election; it is just an endless stream of distracting awfulness, and talking to people about it is just an endless hole to run down.

But also an endless waste of time. It is just such a miserable thing to pay attention to, and it rewards the media for being garbage by pretending like 99% of this stuff actually matters.

After all, I knew who I was voting for in this election back in 2008.

But… I don’t think it was really what it was. I think it was just a way for me to distract myself, to try and grasp at something to stop myself from doing other things. And for no good reason; it was purely self-destructive procrastination for no real end.

I wasn’t even playing much in the way of video games, which is really a sign I was just avoiding making any sort of commitment to doing anything.

So last week, I decided to stop.

We’ll see if I managed to do so. But I have, at the very least, stopped wasting many, many hours a day on Reddit.

I still haven’t watched most of the second half of MLP:FIM, even – and not even for any reason. I just haven’t. I’ve just procrastinated on it. Like I have everything else.

I’ll have to fix that.

But first, I want to get some more reading and writing done.

It does feel good to actually sit down and focus on getting stuff done, though. I played Gone Home when I couldn’t sleep last night, and beat it all the way through. And today, I read A Confederacy of Dunce Caps all in one sitting, and it felt really good to be reading something I really enjoyed without letting myself get distracted.

Number of stories still listed as Read It Sooner: 158

Number of stories still listed as Read It Later: 548

Number of stories listed as Read It Eventually: 2040

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Comments ( 14 )

I know that procrastination feeling too well.

I'm also burnt out on politics. I can't wait for this fucking election to be over. I'm even growing sick of my own party (Green).

Thank you for the review:twilightsmile:

I always appreciate them.

And yes, procrastination and politics can be horrible things. I really don't envy you on the other side of the ocean, but take solace in the fact that I will live something vaguely similar next year.

That procrastination feel is my life and I appreciate that I'm at least not alone. Hope we can both get back in the saddle...pun not intended.

The only major problem I had with Confederacy of Dunce Caps is that I was reading it at the same time as The Silver Standard, and the heavy focal overlap on Diamond Tiara led me to sometimes have trouble keeping track of what happened in which. Which was clearly the fault of the writers, not me. :trixieshiftleft:

If I provided you with even an hour of relief from this @#$$%^ election, I'm going to call it just about the best thing I've done for anyone all year.

4279366
The thing is, the news is mostly meaningless. The news just tries to string people along and get them to pay attention and keep butts in the seats with DEVELOPMENTS and UPDATES that almost always are inane bullshit that doesn't matter.

In fact, you can probably safely ignore everything but weather reports and probably wouldn't suffer any ill effects at all if you live in the US.

So i need to add you on skype and motivate you?

I've noticed that for every five stories you do, almost always there is exactly one that is worth reading. Any reason, or are you just really nitpicky?

4279617
It is fairly random; it has to do with what I've been reading. Sometimes I'll run into a cluster of stories that are all worth reading together; other times I won't.

I do have a policy of trying to find at least one story for every review set that is WR or above, so that isn't coincidental; I try to avoid review sets that don't have at least one story worth reading in them.

This does sometimes lead to me shifting which review set a review ends up in.

Overall, 56% of stories I end up reviewing that I haven't already read get NRs; this is 60% for Read It Now reviews and 51% for Read It Later reviews.

My Recommended Story Reviews posts always consist of 100% Recommended or above stories.

With "Stupid Tree":

I don't think I've ever had so many readers declare that I was trying to be profound when I wasn't. I don't know what went wrong! :derpyderp2:

Mike

4280208
Possibly it's brevity and people not being sure what else to make of it.

We should live-watch the season finale together (which I haven't seen yet, either, and am still trying to avoid spoilers for). It's got changelings in, so you'll most likely get a front-row seat to years of my headcanon shattering.

In all honesty:

I think it's because I didn't fully commit to the absurdity inherent in the concept. For a thousand years, the advice the Tree of Harmony has been giving to the Princesses of Equestria has been, "Stand in one place with your arms outstretched." 'Cause that's pretty much the only advice a tree can give.

Still, this story did teach me that I need to be more careful when I submit stories to the site: I need to put them up when no one's paying attention so I don't hafta worry about them getting into the Featured Box... :eeyup:

Mike

4280529
I'm sad because it is likely going to make it impossible for me to write The Changelings Are Due In Ponyville. That's what I get for procrastinating for three years on writing a story.

But yeah, we should totally watch it and then watch all our dreams of our cool enemy race get shattered D:

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