• Member Since 11th Apr, 2013
  • offline last seen 21 hours ago

Icy Shake

There is a time to tell stories, and there is a time to live them.

More Blog Posts30

  • 63 weeks
    BC2019 Top 16 Review: The Railway Ponies: Highball

    This is a review I did for "Luminaries," a now-defunct project I was invited to contribute to: getting a number of reviewers together to each write an in-depth essay on one of their favorite stories, each covering one by a different author. I jumped on The Descendant's The Railway Ponies: Highball as fast as I could, and as far as I know was one of only a few people (along with

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    9 comments · 148 views
  • 63 weeks
    From Pratt St. to Pratt St. and Back Again: A Bronycon Report

    My Bronycon experience this year started out rough: following a weeklong push to get a presentation together for work and consequently not doing much travel prep ahead of time, I was up until after 3AM Tuesday the 30th, with a disappointing amount of time spent on something that ended up never mattering at all—getting together a couple Magic decks that I’d be OK with losing in

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    8 comments · 120 views
  • 64 weeks
    Bronycon 2019

    In the airport, will take off in an hour. Looking forward to another con, hope to catch up with people from last time, meet some new ones. And pick up some books. Probably too many books.

    Also looking for suggestions of either things to do solo in Baltimore, especially Wednesday and Sunday nights, or info on open-invite/public/whatever con/pony people related events to check out if possible.

    1 comments · 79 views
  • 155 weeks
    Happy Halloween, Ponyfolks!

    Have fun, stay safe, party responsibly!

    Read More

    7 comments · 238 views

From Pratt St. to Pratt St. and Back Again: A Bronycon Report · 11:43pm Aug 6th, 2019

My Bronycon experience this year started out rough: following a weeklong push to get a presentation together for work and consequently not doing much travel prep ahead of time, I was up until after 3AM Tuesday the 30th, with a disappointing amount of time spent on something that ended up never mattering at all—getting together a couple Magic decks that I’d be OK with losing in Baltimore (namely Mono* Black and Goblins for Atlantic 93/94). Then I was up at 6:00 Wednesday, which in fact was when I had meant to be out the door before I’d addled my brain. Luckily getting to the airport went about as quick as it could and security was a breeze. (I’d really suggest TSA Pre-Check for anyone who flies even once a year, is OK with the background check, and has $100 to spare.)

In Baltimore I got to the Hilton no problem in the early afternoon, but didn’t get checked in until around 6:00 due to a miscommunication with one of my roommates. This was fine, as it left me hanging out in the lobby where I ended up talking with a couple staffers and trying out a couple matches of Sealed with the Magic cube that would be drafted on Saturday. Turns out the staffers (Ginger something and Refrain, I believe) thought I was on staff too, though I never said anything to that effect. Fortunately, they never said anything that wasn’t meant to be public, and we all just had a laugh about it at the end.

The line for Wednesday registration was very long and may not have begun moving until after the announced start time, something which would be a recurring theme for the convention (I think they were understaffed, sadly), but one guy in the group ahead of me got some Jimmy John’s, which helped. I tried to meet up with some people from my RP+ group after registration, but due to technical problems on my end I didn’t get any messages for about an hour and that fell through. Went back to my hotel room, and met up with my roommates for the first time of the weekend. Once again, following Everfree ’15 and Bronycon ’16, I was rooming with Reese, whom I know from the old Project Horizons Comment Crew forum; this time we were joined by The Hat Man. On the way to meeting up with SoloBrony and Pwnego of the RP+ group, who arrived late, we found that we shared an interest in mixology. I recall him mentioning liking the core classics, to which I expressed the same, but not any particular recipes; I mentioned the Last Word and Ramos Gin Fizz as two favorites. Reese joined us later, and, as Solo guessed he was the strongest of us three roommates, got to be the demonstration case for Solo’s ridiculously strong grip.

Thursday started with a solo trip to Diablo donuts, where I had a caramel and Old Bay and some other type that were both pretty good. Sadly, I never made it back there; the mile-plus one way trip from the convention center was a heavy ask, especially since nobody else expressed an interest. After that I got word Nyronus was waiting at one of the tables near the con Starbucks; I found him thanks to his saying to look for the guy wearing “basically a black cape.” I know this is when I met Alice from the RP group in person for the first time, and Wanderer D came by to talk to Nyronus, during which I learned about and decided to get one of the “Messed-Up Edition” issues of Gunsmoke (missing chapter 9 from the printer, which was thus printed out and inserted as a color-printed stapled packet) if possible, since it seemed like a fun, unique kind of thing.

I missed the first panel I wanted to see, “The Most Metal 1980s Show Ever Invented: My Little Pony Generation 1,” due to getting in line too late. Made it to the next one, which I saw as more important, though: “Chaos and Cuddles: Writing About Children and Families,” which was hosted by Bookplayer, Blazzing Inferno, and I believe Blazzing’s wife whose handle I forget. As a bonus, I ended up in line right behind Present Perfect, whom I really wanted to meet after years of online interaction at OMPR and his blog. We met (first hug of the con) and talked a bit before and after the panel (mainly asking what idea it had inspired), but took off quickly so he could talk to the lady who had been sitting next to him, who had been interested after him mentioning that he was a writer. The panel itself was wonderful, and something very different from most writing panels I’ve been to, focusing to a considerable extent on the panelists’ personal experience and how it is reflected in writing.

Most of the rest of the day was split between meeting up with the rest of the RP crew (Solo, Demiequus, Pwnego, AliceLiz, Nyronus—the major goal of the afternoon was getting me to do a dramatic reading of Demiver’s freshly-published fic to Alice and as many strangers as possible), at Quills and Sofas (which split a room with Pastel Pastures, the arts and crafts space—mostly OK if not good, but sometimes reaching capacity so if you left you couldn’t reenter, and in a couple cases just plain shutting Q&S down), and in the vendor hall. I was mainly shopping for books: I ended up with The Best Night Ever, Gunsmoke (messed up edition, of course), The Purloined Pony, Sisters!, Songs of the Sisters, Tales from the Civil Service, Oversaturation, and Bad Horse’s “Stupid Unicorn” picture book and The Worst of Bad Horse. (Bad Horse had very kindly informed me that I already had access to everything in the latter when I preordered, but I wanted a physical copy too. Sadly never did get to talk with him during the con.) The latter three were a bit of an adventure, as Oversaturation had sold out Thursday, but talking to FanOfMostEverything in Q&S I learned there’d be another ten copies the following day, and Bad Horse was delayed reaching the con. Horizon happened to be manning the booth, so I got Songs signed and we talked briefly about the logistical problems inherent in getting permission to print all the endings of The Last Dreams of Pony Island. That said, I did also get some other swag (plus a Rarity pin for Pwnego to give to the receptionist at his and Solo’s hotel—he’d mentioned she was sad because every year one of the first things that happened was someone would give her a Mane Six pin, and nobody had this year D: ):

Wild Turkey 101 not included. Yeah, it’s all Project Horizons stuff. :V

This was also one of the only days I did dinner as part of the RP group, but I ended up spending most of the time at Jimmy John’s talking with Admiral Biscuit and a friend about crack theories regarding the mechanics of ponies (a favorite: they’re deep sea giant amoebas who happen to be shaped like horses) and facts about real horses. Late night was talking RPGs on the con balcony with the group and some of the other people who were hanging out there, centered on the tale of Naruto: The Greatest Vampire Ever (a Vampire: The Masquerade vampire who believed he was a werewolf—he was a “wereaboo”—as a psychological defense mechanism allowing himself to see himself as less of a complete monster than otherwise, who also basically had the personality of Pinkie Pie.

Friday started out slow, with more Q&S and another filled-up panel, though Reese and I ran into Somber beforehand. They caught up a bit, and I talked for a bit with Tetrakern, who made somber-stories.com, about working with Somber. A trip to the vendor hall ended in failure as it was just about to close for lunch. I got lunch myself, then killed some time with the “Let’s Make a Bad Fanfiction Together, LIVE!” panel, which amounted to Pony Mad Libs. Next up was the “Hooves Line Is It Anyway?” improve panel, which was a real treat. The hoe-down song about the Apple family tree was probably the high point. Solo, Nyronus, Pwnego, and I made a go at the “Thanks, M.A. Larson” roast, but gave up when it looked like 1) we likely wouldn’t get in and 2) it was 45 minutes past the scheduled start time and the line was still entering the room. Plus side, nice conversation about con sizes and tabletop games, though we may need to agree to disagree regarding the merits of Magic.

We split up for a while, with Pwnego and I going to the Grand Galloping Gala at different points, both leaving early. Turns out we had opposite impressions: I liked the play portion enough that if it weren’t for the intermissions for the actual dance, I might have stuck around to see the rest; he had been hoping for a formal dance and nothing else. In any case, this brings us to Fight Night, an event where Solo teaches martial arts and people do some sparring. Alice and I started as the two main beneficiaries, since we’re novices and Nyronus, Demiequus, and Pwnego are decidedly not. We started with how relaxing can help make punches faster, and practiced getting touches in. Later on we moved to more comprehensive sparring, setting up stances to best suit our styles, and added some kicks. Throughout this we also got to see mainly Pwnego and Demiequus, but a bit of Solo as well, go at it with the composite practice swords Pwnego brought. (I forget what type they were.) In any case, after a while special guest Nathaniel Brown arrives, and gets some coaching from Solo before becoming my next sparring partner. I start out very solid against him, but after getting some suggestions about how he should adjust his stance it becomes much more even. Night ends with Nate signing one of the swords, and Nyronus asking him to punch him in the face, which he does (not too hard).

First up Saturday was the “Ponyfic: There Can Only Be One” panel by the RCL. Great concept, great contenders, sad I’d read so few of them and thus voted only on a small minority of the matchups. And it should have been fewer, since on retrospect I don’t think I’ve read The Keepers of Discord. Perhaps the hardest loss to take was “Whom the Princesses Would Destroy” losing to “Best Night Ever” in the first round; I love BNE, but when Soge was giving his discussion I had a flash to one of the last scenes, between Celestia and Dotted Line, and just started to cry over how beautiful it was. Somehow remember Hard Reset winning, even though apparently it was The Enchanted Library. Guess the lack of sleep and caffeine was getting to me. Also thanked Soge afterward for choosing The Railway Ponies: Highball as one of his personal picks; it really is one of The Descendant’s best, and a great example of a story that could very easily be moved to an original setting while maintaining perfectly the feel and morals of Pony. Anyway, I’m hoping to go through them all myself as a reading/blogging project a la the original inspiration for OMPR. The first related post is conveniently already written due to another project, so may be going up soon.

Next up was the “Voice Actor Script Reading,” written by Horizon with Skywriter and I believe Bookplayer or possibly Monochromatic., unless I’m off-base entirely? (Looking at its listing in the con pamphlet, only Horizon is named specifically. Sadly, this is the case for most events—no specific listing of who is involved. Also it’s late, I’m exhausted from the con, and a lot has already transpired since then. :P ) In any case, the performances were enjoyable and the story was a sweet action/character piece that served as a beautiful stand-in for the ending of Bronycon via Princess Celestia coming to grips with her own changing role. Also both her and Principal Celestia going “mad with power”! Very funny besides all the rest.

Rest of the afternoon was spent with friends or at Q&S (especially after hearing getting into Lauren Faust’s event was probably a non-starter), which most notably featured catching up with Heartshine for I believe the first time since Everfree three years ago (and sadly with work on Fallout Equestria Homelands going slow, we don’t interact online as much as I’d like) while Somber was holding court (incidentally, Present Perfect’s reaction to the fact that Ministry of Image has a five-volume PH set out—and these aren’t exactly small books—with two “books” still to be released was priceless) as well as Soge and me listening to some very comprehensive fanfic complaints expounded by RainbowDoubleDash. I left in the middle to drop off my copy of Sisters! with GroaningGreyAgony to be signed by Estee (for all that I have social anxiety with people I don’t know, I can hardly imagine how hard they were having it and wish them all the best—they deserve it—and give my heartfelt thanks for making the sacrifice of pushing through that to do something nice for their fans). After dinner I made it to part of the “Friendship Is Magic: The Gathering” panel, which was about what I expected but nothing special—going over color philosophies (which led to contortions when talking about black, especially) and assigning color combinations to various characters. (They definitely got Luna wrong by not including blue as one of her “methods” colors, since messing with dreams/thoughts is one of the most blue things there is.) Met up with RP people, and in the middle went off to ask Admiral Biscuit for a shirt for myself (wore it Sunday) and Solo (didn’t have any in his size). Incidentally, Admiral now thinks I’m friends with a yeti. :V

Fight Night comes around again, but we’re all more tired than Friday, so it doesn’t go as long. Focused on kicks for me, close-in grabbing deflections that I find kind of hard to explain for Alice—Solo’s concluded that an outboxing mix with a heavy kickboxing component is where I want to be, since I like distance strikes and moving quickly out of range; for her, it’s Snake since she’s good close and is good at moving her arms the way it requires. Pwnego follows up the Nate Brown signature in the autograph line after Black Gryphon’s set like so: “I was entrusted by my group with these swords, to help spread the spirit of Historical European Martial Arts wherever I go. I got this one signed by Baasik, and I really want the other signed by the other person who gives that music so much of its energy.” *Turns from Gabe.* “Monique, would you do me the honor?”

Sunday was a friends and Q&S day for the most part, though it was also when I finished my book-buying. Q&S was hopping, and I got to talk typewriters with Robcakeran, and then had an in-depth conversation with Charles(?), a research biologist, about MRSA and cancer—including his idea for a supervillain, Cancer Man, who if I recall correctly causes cancerous mutations with a touch which rapidly spread leading to death in the absence of rapid surgery. The latter wasn’t the most pleasant topics, but certainly interesting. Got to meet Bookplayer as she was making her rounds before leaving, and was flattered that she recognized my name from comments and appreciated them—a reminder of the give-and-take there, and why I try (often failing) to do so. Likewise finally met TheJediMasterEd (something I would suggest everyone do, he’s great! But then you already know that from reading his blog, don’t you?) after failing in 2016, and later got to be there for what was almost a mini discussion panel on horses, their training, equipment, and history between him and Admiral Biscuit. Also got to be on the side of someone (name escapes me unfortunately) in an argument with Alondro regarding Dune, whether it has lessons applicable to the real world, with a side of “does Paul stop having any agency after drinking the water of life?” Also, an attendee from Malaysia was handing out freeze-dried durian. Interesting taste, but not bad; I'm not sure if that opinion would hold up with fresh, though. And he said that while it can be used to make stuff like ice cream or candy, it's not really combined with other flavors: it's too dominant/doesn't mix well with others, which given the one taste I had doesn't come as that much of a surprise. Followed up talking about foreign language teaching in schools in Malaysia, the US, Brazil (Soge was part of this), and Europe (where I passed along what former long-term roommates from Spain and Italy had told me).

The Closing Ceremonies went as did much of the con: huge lines that only start going anywhere very late (in this case the charity auction ran long), but taking you to something great. I was glad everyone in the overflow room was sitting on the floor, though; both my feet and Nyronus’s were in bad shape by then, and I’m not sure if I could have taken standing for the whole thing very well. It was a beautiful send-off, if in some respects overshadowed by the Script Reading. (Also, saying Rainbow Dash is worst pony is no excuse for violence!) We joined up with Demiequus and Pwnego for dinner at Uno’s, where the other three got to share dessert nachos since the appetizer didn’t arrive until after we were basically done with our pizza. (And the restrooms in the shared part of that mall/whatever are full-on gross.) Followed it up by watching the new episode, which was the first time I’d seen one with other fans since probably 2012; it was a nice change of pace. Episode itself was pretty great too, though I was flagging a bit at that point.

Went back to the Hilton, figured I’d go down and hang in the lobby for a while, which did end up happening, just with Solo, Pwnego, and Alice instead of on my own. Ended up going to their hotel instead where it was quieter and easier to talk, and now it seems I owe them a crack/troll fic (which may end up being in too poor taste to actually post, but we’ll see how it goes).

And so came the packing, and then Monday getting to Jimmy John’s Con (Hanging out at the Jimmy John’s with Ponyfolks? How’s that any different from actual Bronycon?) early, sticking around long enough to say goodbye to friends. Found out hugging Nyronus is a fraught thing: the man squeezes hard, and he’s a strong guy!

Trip to the airport was delayed, but not too badly. Good thing, too, since unlike the flight to Baltimore I needed to check a bag (I’ve had to throw out empty glass bottles before when I had them in carry on) and security was moving really slow for some reason. Still, quick flight and a subway ride back home (I mostly stay awake on the train), crash for a couple hours as I can no longer work through several days of con hours following that ill-advised three-hour night before leaving, and it’s really all over. It was a great experience, filled with discretely fun things and, more meaningfully, getting to better know a great group of people. I’ve come away with—and will hopefully maintain—more energy for the show and community and fan works than I’ve had in a while, as well as a couple projects I can try to sink that into.

Thank you to everyone who made this such a wonderful experience, see you online, and I hope this won’t be the last time in person!

Report Icy Shake · 120 views · #Bronycon 2019
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Comments ( 8 )

I'm glad you had a great time. I worried at times I was taking up too much of the con for people, when all I wanted to do was fill otherwise 'empty time' with cooler stuff and hangouts.

I still intend to hunt you down and punch you more down the line, so don't go dying or letting your training lapse, y'hear?!

Author Interviewer

Seeing you was awesome. :D Your hair is really cool! Also we apparently went to a lot of the same panels, but I only saw you in that first one. :B

That lady really wanted me to go to Georgia because of their burgeoning film industry. c.c I don't even know what to make of that.

Naruto: The Greatest Vampire Ever

...Oh my god, I never thought I'd miss LARPing so much. XD

And yes, Nyronus is a tiny powerhouse. :D

I noticed you didn't say shit about my hugs. Now to lord it over Nyronus.

^.^ Glad you like my vampire character

Thanks, seeing you was too! And yeah, the hair's something where I'm pretty happy about my genetics. :D

I think that trying to get people to do movies in your state is something a lot of state govs, chambers of commerce etc. push, but I normally think of it as more targeting studios or producers. I think there was also a reaction by some studios and directors to pull projects from Georgia recently as a result of its abortion ban, so maybe that got some traction and they're trying to fill now-excess capacity. Or she was just a booster for her state, who knows?

"Solo, as a large and very strong man, would pick me up and carry me around so I could be like a weird melee weapon, kicking anyone nearby (not that we were ever close to people with this). Also, it turns out I'm pretty good at demonstrating falls from holds."

Sorry we didn't talk. Cosplay, and being late because I had to turn around on Thursday and drive back home for my wallet, ate up most of the con for me. I didn't hang out in Q&S at all.


Both this and Icy Shake's post tickle me because I am endlessly amused at my rep of having the mightiest hugs.

... Although I don't remember hugging you.

Also, Icy, you may agree to disagree, but my friend, try downloading Arena and see how many rounds you can go against Mono-Blue Tempo without ripping out your glorious hair. Or, you know, MTG:O and doing some Modern if people summoning 8/8 tramplers for free on turn 2 is more your speed.

You know, fun, fair Magic.

Entirely understandable! These things happen, and you missing so much of the con is a lot worse for you than it is for everyone else, me certainly included. I hope you had a good time cosplaying.

TL;DR: Yeah, might be in the "agree to disagree" category.

My stance is more about the underlying game than particular formats at any point in time; the quality of pushed formats ebbs and flows, but Magic's always come out the other side OK. My understanding is that Standard is in a better place than it's been most of the last few years, but that's a very low bar involving numerous rounds of bannings. Likewise, it seems that War of the Spark, Modern Horizons, and M20 were collectively a major problem for both Modern (Hogaak, secondarily Karn and the blue one that only lets opponents draw one card per turn) and Vintage (mainly Karn, also the blue one, and the Future Sight artifact). By all accounts PT Barcelona's Constructed portion was seriously warped, if not to GP Flash's level or producing anything quite as bad as GP Vienna '99 and its resultant emergency ban of Memory Jar. (Haven't heard about impact on Legacy.) But especially for the older formats, I'd be optimistic that bannings/restrictions could help a lot, the more so if in the case of Modern they focus on the enablers like Faithless Looting (though from what I've heard even before Hogaak Modern was a faster format than Legacy, which seems like it shouldn't be the case).

In any case, my primary point of contact (besides coverage) with contemporary Magic is Limited, which has been largely good for the last year and a half, since I got more actively back into the game. Otherwise, I focus on 93/94 (a community run format), casual EDH, and sometimes Legacy, so it sounds like our experiences are kind of orthogonal.

Thank you to you in turn for your part in mine and others'. :)

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