• Member Since 11th Apr, 2012
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Bad Horse

Beneath the microscope, you contain galaxies.


Berry Punch made a mistake, and now she has a problem. A little problem that could grow into a big problem. Question is, her artist friend Happy says, is it the kind of mistake that needs fixing? Or the kind where fixing it would be another mistake?

Chapters (1)
Comments ( 55 )

I feel a great kinship for Happy Mistake. I swear, half the things I write end up just like her paintings. And, no, I'm never telling which bits were, ah, happy mistakes. My battle-cry is, after all, "I meant to do that!" :twilightsmile:

I like the style of it, the bits about the paintings especially. I dislike the use of 'bitch.' It's a personal thing. The equivalent word in my native language is... considerably less polite. Possibly the associations bleed through.

I am intrigued by how... American the story is, too. Especially in dealing with its subject matter. Curious.

Look until think you see both sides clear, then go with

Missing a 'you' in there.

I don't really have much to say. The message is straight forward and still not preachy. It doesn't feel like your best work though.

Berry looked down at herself. “It’s the kind that starts small, but gets bigger.”

I take it this is the relevant quote?

I can't help but feel that the zebra should be named "Happy Accident." On the other hand, her current name may well be mistake worth keeping. Curious...

In any case, this was a great character piece. I hope you use Happy in the future, because I'd love to see her again.

Message received: loud, clear, and appreciated.

This is a piece that really deserves the [Slice of Life] tag :twilightsmile:

Quite interesting. Subtle without being cryptic, and using the paintings to paint both the talent and personality of Happy, clearly showing but allowing the reader to finish figuring things out; I also liked how the images are used to reinforce, but the story can still stand with them removed.


I dislike the use of 'bitch.' It's a personal thing. The equivalent word in my native language is... considerably less polite. Possibly the associations bleed through.

I can relate. Back when I was a child learning English as my second language I was told to never use that word, and that it was the slang for a lady of ill repute. It took a few years, in a quite literal sense, before I both learned of the non-slandering uses of that word and could read a passage that used it in a positive way without cringing.

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Ah, yes, sometimes translated swears loose their bite, or gain significantly. The English "God Damn it" has the French equivalent of "calisse de tabarnak" which literally translates as "Chalice of the tabernacle". It's a very grave swear in French, while English's "God Damn it" is sometimes regarded as a casual sentence enhancer.

Additionally, in Spanish "Madre de Dios!" means "Mother of God" translated literally, but serves as a closer equivalent to "Son of a bitch!" in English.

Interesting. Quite a pretty story.

4388651 You mention the story is American in how it deals with its subject matter. Could you please elaborate a little? I think I know what the story's about, but I fail to see exactly how the story is typically American in dealing with it.

I think part of this comes from the fact that in English, the word "bitch" has multiple meanings.

It can mean:

1: the female of the dog or some other carnivorous mammals
2a: a lewd or immoral woman
2b: a malicious, spiteful, or overbearing woman —sometimes used as a generalized term of abuse
3: something that is extremely difficult, objectionable, or unpleasant
4: complaint

Obviously #1 isn't obscene at all.

Definition 2a is highly derogatory and offensive. Definition 2b can be highly derogatory or offensive, but when used in its diminutive form (bitchy) is considerably less so. Not that it isn't still a curse word, but bitchy is a vastly more mild curse word than "bitch". It also can be used as an affectionate insult, which is just confusing to people - rather like nigger, except friends calling each other bitches tends to be much less offensive to random bystanders.

#3 is mostly an indication of severity - saying "this is going to be a bitch" or "that was a bitch" is saying exactly what it sounds like. It is a curse, but it is a fairly mild one and people seldom will take offense at it because it isn't directed at anyone, and is usually a mark of frustration or difficulty. Kind of like when you stub your toe and yell "God damn it!"

#4 is somewhere between mildly denigrating (everyone bitched and moaned about it) to pretty dismissive of someone (she spent the last hour bitching at me over it) to very degrading (calling someone a whiny little bitch is a big insult). Unlike 2b, being a bitch of definition #4 is always demeaning.

So, bitch... is a complicated word.

Comment posted by yamgoth deleted Oct 20th, 2022

4391225 Really, just because Happy is a zebra made Berry think she was the best person to go to for something like that? She could whip up some potent brew or something?

I worried that would be confusing. Happy's cutie mark is supposed to signify a mistake, and Berry went to her because she thought Happy must have some expertise in mistakes in general, not because she was a zebra. Yes, that does sound silly. :rainbowhuh:

If it comes across as "zebras must know how to deal with this", I could just rewrite it so she isn't a zebra. She wasn't in the write-off version. I like the "you must know potions" interpretation, if I made it explicit. You racist bastard. But then it would overshadow the emphasis on "mistake", which is the common thread thru the story.

I wanted to talk about the other aspects of the story, like the swearing and the anthro cover, which was false advertising ;P

You mean you missed the hidden link to the dragon-babe porn?

Bravo. The message is loud and clear don't worry here.

Berry looked down at herself. “It’s the kind that starts small, but gets bigger.”

Oh, Bad Horse, you utter bastard. How could you be so heartless as to make them open a joint savings account together?

In all seriousness, this feels more complete than the one in the writeoff. Though it may have been the discussion in comments here. I made the mistake of reading them before reading the story. But now that I know what the unsaid thing is, it feels like you're leaving just the right amount unsaid.

You've obviously missed the point of the story entirely.

Berry is clearly referring to her penicillin culture.

I worried that would be confusing. Happy's cutie mark is supposed to signify a mistake, and Berry went to her because she thought Happy must have some expertise in mistakes in general, not because she was a zebra. Yes, that does sound silly.

Doesn't sound silly to me. The fannon image of Berry that you've used (to a degree, at least) and the situation she's found herself in really lent themselves well to Berry's seeking out advice from someone who is a "Happy Mistake". Those things alone also tell me which choice Berry is likely to make.

Also, FWIW the 'bitchy' thing didn't bother me at all.

I sense a kindling of cautious optimism here, one I'm glad to see because it's not used too often. Even through our mistakes, we can make ourselves stronger through the ashes. Happy isn't condemning Berry Punch for doing something "wrong" - she's offering her kinship and helping her think forward and beyond the act itself. I'm glad to see a wise portrayal of sound advice, rather than irrelevant soapboxing.

I get it and I like it.

You've been on a roll lately, you know? Gotta keep fillin' up your tank with that Bordeaux.

4391468 This version has more clues than the write-off version. The vagueness in the original was not a happy mistake.

4390613 That's one important clue, yes.

Ooh, I've been looking forward to this! See you ran with the whole "sassy black woman" thing and made Happy a zebra. The pictures were a great touch, though the descriptions feel a bit redundant now

I kinda miss some parts of the original; "... I saw they could be more awful than what I'd aimed for" is a much better line, if you ask me. Maybe you could change it to "Then I saw what I’d got was awfuller than anything I could plan." I dunno, "awful" just seems to have more impact

I also experienced some dissonance between how this played out in my head with how it was written. "Look out, world, Berry Punch is thinking" seems like it should end with an exclamation mark, otherwise it's too subdued and Berry's giggle doesn't feel like a natural response

So I have you to thank for BH's current spree of magnificence? By all means, sir, keep plying him with wine. :twilightsmile:

Indeed. It's hard to rid yourself of certain associations words have. Especially if you are dealing with more than one language.

Well the debate about it is still raging in America, yes? In Europe, certain parts of it, at any rate, it's settled and has been settled for a while. And the story's (quite expertly done) subtle, elliptical way of talking about it brings to mind someone gingerly handling the subject matter, cognizant of the amount of emotional energy invested in it.

Thanks for the detailed reply. I should point out that I am aware of its multiple meanings and I even acknowledge them (schizophrenically) when judging when 'bitch' is okay. Saying 'son of a bitch' or 'that was a bitch of a problem' or, say, 'quit your bitching' sounds okay to me. Slightly impolite, but given that I am, by and large, in favor of swearing, just fine.

It's specifically using it for a person—2a and 2b, basically—that gets translated in my head and that provokes an unfriendly response.

4392919 4390579 Noted and changed.

I liked "more awful" better too, but I got so much criticism from people saying her voice was inconsistent that I changed it. There were only a few words that I could see as possibly being out of keeping with the rest, and that was one of them.

The first time Applejack said "What in tarnation" it sent me scampering for a dictionary, to see if it meant what I thought it meant (it did). Let's just say that the equivalent in my native language isn't child-safe by any stretch of imagination... :twilightoops:

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It should be noted that the use that Titanium Dragon calls an "affectionate insult" not only tends to be absent from dictionaries, it also has a somewhat different meaning; it's more like a strong, independent woman, one that doesn't let what others think of her drag her down. I've also seen it used more than once, with a similar meaning to the above, in a context of grudging acknowledgment of the woman's prowess, where "affectionate" doesn't cut it in any shape or way.

(It's a meaning that the equivalent word in my language completely lacks, BTW. The main reason I don't cringe at it anymore is because I'm past the stage where I would have to translate words in my mind, I nowadays can think directly in English.)

I would like to point out that I know about both the 'affectionate' usage and that I don't, normally, translate things I see in English. I'd hardly be able to write stories if I had to do that. However, certain words have too much of an impact for me not to. It's not a particularly reasonable thing to do, of course, and I'm not saying BH was wrong to use the word where and how he did. I'm just describing the effect in had to me.

I didn't think, nor meant to imply, that you didn't know of the word's more obscure meanings or that you needed to translate words in your head; if what I wrote gave that impression, I'm sorry.

What I meant to say is that, in cases like this one, dictionary definitions are not always authoritative (or, in some cases, even useful), and that it took me until I learned to separate, in my mind, words like "bitch" from my native language's equivalents until I stopped cringing at their usage, a process that took me years in real life.


I didn't think, nor meant to imply, that you didn't know of the word's more obscure meanings or that you needed to translate words in your head; if what I wrote gave that impression, I'm sorry.

It's perfectly okay. No need to apologize. :twilightsmile:

And, yes, separating connotations is tricky stuff. Especially when they are really sunk-in, as it were, as is the case with emotionally charged words like curses and slurs.

I mentally substituted "strong bitchy mare" with "sassy black woman" and it made me laugh. I never even thought for a moment that Berry went to Happy because she's automagically amazing at potions because she's a zebra; her name being Happy Mistake makes it clear what Berry's final descision will be.

And it goes to show that there are people (like me) that wouldn't bat an eye about Berry eliminating her problem, and others that find this story distasteful for the same reason. To each of us, our mindsets are alien. I find that fascinating and infuriating.

A good story, Bad Horse. Made me think.

This and your last show that you've mastered both the purposes of the fabliau: artistic parody and social commentary.

4394847 Wikipedia says they are "characterized by an excessiveness of sexual and scatological obscenity." Guess I'd better write one more story.

If this comes across as pro or anti, that's a mistake, and not a happy one.


I don't think it's pro or anti on the matter in question, no. Which is why I called it "commentary"--albeit nowadays that's a euphemism for "polemic, " so I can see why I may have confused you.

I do think it's pro-talking-about-the-matter, which is a position that at this point requires both finesse and resolve--or else why are we speaking in this code?

At first I thought it was something else, but then I got it by the end. Certainly the most subtle way that I've seen of addressing it without diminishing it's importance. Bravo for being one of the few stories here that's made me think.

In regards to the authors notes: the meaning was pretty clear for me.

I liked the allusion to This Nearly Was Mine, even though I don't have strong feelings for that story.

MrNumbers doesn't get it.

“It’s the kind that starts small, but gets bigger.”

"Don't you forget it, Happy Mistake."

He thinks about it

He reads these two lines again and

Holy shi-

He sprays his morning coffee all over his lovely computer screen as it finally clicks.

You know, what you've demonstrated you've learned here in your last three stories is what fencers used to call (and may still, for all I know) a light address.

Meaning, it's not necessary to hack and slash and bang away for the blow to tell. Just lull them into letting down their guard, time the thrust properly, bear your point deftly and subtly and on the refrain thrust home.

Comment posted by yamgoth deleted Oct 20th, 2022
Comment posted by yamgoth deleted Oct 20th, 2022

I don't really have any beef with this story. It's just the specific word I didn't like. And not because it is a swear, but because I read it (incorrectly) as a slur. The rest is fine. Better than fine, in fact.

And what's wrong with my OC's[1] profession? What do you have against chemists? :trollestia:

And lastly I didn't have beef with All The Pretty Pony Princesses for stylistic reasons (though I though it more terrifying when you have to piece together what's going on on your own), I had beef with it because I thought it indulged too much in Diabolus ex Machina. It didn't feel real to me as a result.

[1] I have quite a number of these. Presumably you mean Dotted Line.[2]
[2] You can have footnotes when you pry 'em out of my cold dead hands.

Comment posted by yamgoth deleted Oct 20th, 2022
Comment posted by yamgoth deleted Oct 20th, 2022


Besides, Happy really works as a sassy lady zigga.

When you die, you're going to G2.

I kinda want to see the previous version of the story. It wasn't too hard to figure out the "mistake", especially once the little hints in the summary are put together with the big one at the beginning. How many clues were there in the original version? I kinda want to know how difficult it is for others to figure it out. It'd be something intriguing to learn.


Yeah, the picture choice is a bit confusing, but am I correct in guessing it was the only one that fit your requirements of tone and feel? Were there actually other reasons or am I really overthinking this?

I looked for pictures that I could pretend had happy mistakes in them. That one had a long review talking about the smile, which I stole for the story.

The other picture I chose because it uses the same pose as Fluttershy in my "Fluttershy's Night Out" cover, which the original artist thought was very wrong for my remake, but I thought worked pretty well, if accidentally.

I wonder if the anthro picture, or just its thumbnail looking like a grey blob, is responsible for the low viewcount on this story.

For my next act of evil, I shall get yamgoth into a comment war with Titanium Dragon.

Not to defend All The Pretty Pony Princesses overall, but I don't think Diabolus ex Machina is a thing. Deus ex Machina is unreal because random outside forces don't, typically, conspire to suddenly solve your problems. But random outside forces do suddenly give you problems, all the time.

By and large, yes. I'd agree with you. But when misery seems to be hyper-targeted it stops seeming like a careless universe and starts looking like a caring—if malicious—deity. This strikes especially hard in an established universe, I find, if the tenor of the misfortune seems uncharacteristic.

4399262 when misery seems to be hyper-targeted

Have you ever watched the show? :twilightoops:

4398870 wow. Thanks for sharing that personal experience. I suppose I'm a bit if an armchair philosopher, as I've never been in a situation where I would be part of making that choice. I have participated in quite a few formal debates on the issue through college and university, and, in my experience, abortion isn't something you can change someone's opinion on. (I'm talking about the most binary if choices, whether its okay in any circumstance or not. You can have plenty of change when debating under what circumstances/timeline abortion would be okay, if you allow for it at all.)

I, personally, can't understand the functional difference between a fertilized zygote and an unfertilized one, and, as I lack a belief in souls, find myself unswayed by arguments that depend on that assumption. I often question why no one seems to care about the eggs lost in menestration, as many arguments would logically conclude that they are equally deserving of protection, but I digress.

The best I can hope for is a grudging admission that what other people do isn't any business of yours. That's just me, though.

Prediction: the mistake in question has Berry pregnant. The "fixing it could be another mistake" would be getting an abortion.

Which I'd at least like to think would be really freaking dark, for Equestria.

Happy's first line read like a black stereotype. The big-hug deep-fried good-cookin' kind, to be sure, but a stereotype nonetheless. So once I reloaded my brain back to ponies, I wondered if you'd made her a zebra. Which you did.

Not that there's anyth... aw to hell with it, I do think there's something wrong with making Zebras black stereotypes. I'm not sure what, and I'm not sure I could articulate it, and I'm not sure it would stand up to scrutiny even if I could. But there it is. I do.

Right! Enough off-topic. Back to the story, I've just reached the second or third paragraph.

. . .

The use of bitch does indeed feel off. It does fit Happy's character, at least in the first two four instances, but the last one doesn't do it for me. I'm not sure why. (The word, or my connotations of it, also don't fit my default interpretation of the rest of the 'verse, but I don't think that's it because I'm willing to let Happy get away with it several times previously.)

Grammar nitpick:

the kind of earth ponies

Something's wrong here. I think either the "of" shouldn't be there, or there's a word or two missing.



I'll just have you know, that word slammed into my headcanon and integrated instantly, and brought the rest of my brain to a screeching halt. Now it's stuck in there and I can't get it out, and I'm not even sure if I want to.

So since we seem to be down with swearing in this thread: You bastard.

Oh fuck. That interpretation never would have occurred to me. The deluded individual, who's so far into their delusion they forget it's a self-delusion...

I'm going to have to go read that again now.

I don't think I'd find it distasteful. Just tragic. (The story itself ends positively, so that's aside.) Like the unfortunate sap who got run over by a car.


I ain't good at words. ... I suck at talking in general.

Excuse me? You're the guy who wrote three consecutive comments on this thing, and they're some of the longest, most expressive, most articulate comments here. Hell, it looks like at least one of them might be longer than the story itself. You better be talking about speaking out loud in person, mister.

Just read the writeoff version. Happy reads better as a sassy stereotype. That version was indeed to cramped, I don't think there were any useful clues at all. (I can see what the clues would have been retrospectively but don't think I could have put it together from them.) Possibly unless the paragraph at the end was supposed to be a clue, and I don't think even then.

On the other hand, to the extent I got this at all, I called it before I even read it. So maybe this goes too far the other direction. (Maybe I read it because I called it. But.)

Y'know, when you described Happy's cutie mark I thought of the intel logo.

It would explain so much. :pinkiecrazy:

Oh, and I loved this. Happy's the kind of friend we all should have.
Happy mistakes might become happy endings, after all. Or at least, halfway-decent ones, which is better than BAD END.

I just figured out what this story is like.

It's like juggling sledgehammers.

Which you manage to do.

And any attempt to critique it is an attempt to juggle those same sledgehammers.

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