Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Vote for Me!

Check out my entry into Mionetta's Mixology Masters Contest, the Sky of Blue Cocktail, and be sure to vote for me.  I wouldn't have really posted about this here, but everyone who votes is also entered into a drawing for a VIP trip to Vegas Uncork’d by Bon App├ętit, so it's win-win.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The First Half of SSCBBA in a Nutshell

With new episodes of Strawberry Shortcake's Berry Bitty Adventures starting up again tomorrow, here's a refresher on what went down in the first half of season two:

Berry Bitty Harvest
Strawberry Shortcake: Things sure are slow at the cafe lately.
Berrykin Bloom: Mind taking my new perfectly-sized-for-us produce to Orange Blossom's?
Strawberry Shortcake: Not at all!
Orange: Despite this sudden overload of overly popular fruits and veggies, I can handle it all on my own, thanks to my handy dandy umbrellas and fans system.  And with the addition of pneumatic tubes, distribution is a breeze!
Berrykins: These tubes make a great thrill ride!
Tubes: *get overloaded with berrykins*
Tubes: *explode, creating a huge mess all over Berry Bitty City*
Strawberry: Obviously, someone must do something about this.  Hey, Orange, I was thinking, since things are so slow everywhere, but especially at my cafe, howzabout I open up a marketplace to sell the produce?
Orange: Oh, thank you, thank you, tha-  Wait, are you just doing this because I couldn't handle all the produce on my own?
Strawberry: Actually, it's because Hasbro already came up with the playset.
Orange, Oh, okay, then.
*Construction begins*
Berrykin Bill: The marketplace will be ready in four weeks.  See you tomorrow!
Berrykin Bloom: Bad news, everyone!  The next harvest is in two weeks!
Strawberry: what.

Room at the Top
Berrykin Bill: The marketplace construction is going according to the revised schedule, Strawberry.  I just need you to finalize the blueprints for the upstairs bedroom.
Strawberry: Sure thing, I know just what I want.
Friends: As do we!  Let us handle it, Strawberry!
Strawberry: Um...sure, I guess.  Wouldn't want to disappoint my friends.
Berrykin Bloom: Oh no, the harvest is ready TODAY!  Must hide fruits so as not to disappoint anyone!
Friends: Although we are all friends, suddenly we can't agree on anything.  But surely this won't create a problem in designing Strawberry's new bedroom, especially if we get her to sign off on everything first.
Berrykin Bloom: Oh, gee, Berrykin Bill, it's too bad you can't have the marketplace finished by say, tomorrow, since that's the deadline for being featured in Better Berry Bitty Buildings Digest, and I just know you're a shoo-in for the front cover.
Bill: Who says we can't have it done by tomorrow?  Berrykins, doubletime!
Berrykins: *are glad they now have to work twice as fast*
Strawberry: Wow, who would have guessed that a bunch of suggestions made one at a time wouldn't actually work out when put all together?  This room is not what I dreamed, but I can't insult my friends by telling them I don't like it.
Floor: *shakes*
Berrykins: *futilely try to hold up first floor ceiling, only to be pummeled by kiwis*
Berrykin Bloom: The truth is out!  The produce is ready two weeks too early!
Strawberry: Well, that explains where the mystery pineapples in my closet came from.  Speaking of, Princess Berrykin, would you like some pineapple upside down cake?
Princess: Thanks for offering, but pineapples just aren't my thing.
Strawberry: *suddenly realizes you can turn something down and still be polite about it*
Berrykins: *work through the night*
Girls: *make the bedroom the way Strawberry actually wanted it*
Strawberry: Thank goodness that's done.  Oh, the girls left me a housewarming gift?  A notebook specifically for writing down ideas for the marketplace's grand opening that's now two weeks sooner than expected, how sweet.  Wait, what?

Starlight, Star Bright
Strawberry: Okay, girls, we need something really awesome for the marketplace's grand opening.  Any ideas?
Raspberry Torte: How about getting super pop star Cherry Jam?  Like she'd ever come to a bitty city like this.
Blueberry Muffin: Well, why not?  *writes an e-mail*
Cherry Jam: *agrees*
Strawberry: *helps a mystery girl write a song*
Mystery Girl: *has an on-again-off-again southern accent*
Mystery Girl: *is obviously Cherry Jam*
Strawberry: Mind if I ask what you're doing out here?
Cherry Jam: I just always wanted to have a picnic.  It's been my dream!
Strawberry: Okay, see you later.
Cherry Jam: *drives into town under the cover of darkness*
Girls: *are dressed like groupies*
Girls: Where's your entourage?
Cherry Jam: Actually, I only took this gig because it was in such a tiny place.  I want to fulfill all my city girl dreams of what living in the country is like!  Like sleeping under the stars!
Girls: .....
Girls: We can't let a big star like you sleep on the ground!  How about we make a house look like a tent?
Cherry Jam: *sneaks out*
Girls: She hates us.
Cherry Jam: Next up, eating a sandwich in peace, with no nosy fans around, followed by a walk in the woods, picking flowers.
Girls: Strawberry, meet Cherry Jam!
Strawberry: The mystery girl?  I thought you looked familiar.
Cherry Jam: Can I be honest with you, Strawberry?  My whole persona is a complete fabrication, made up by my publicist for the magazines.  And your friends have bought into it hook, line, and sinker.
Strawberry: Oh, so that's why they're sneaking around planting roses for your flower picking excursion.
Cherry: *only picks wildflowers*
Girls: She hates us.
Orange: *kicks flower petals in spite*
Flower petals: *were Cherry's path markers*
Strawberry: Okay, girls, I have good news and bad news.  The bad news is that Cherry Jam lost her voice due to calling for help in the woods all day yesterday.  The good news is that she'll be mostly better by tonight's performance, but she needs me to sing the high notes.  And she wants you all to be the back-up singers on one condition.
Girls: What's that?
Strawberry: Forget what you read about her in the magazines and just treat her like a normal girl.
Girls: It's a deal!
Performance: *has no high notes*
Performance: *goes off without a hitch*

Practice Makes Perfect
Cherry Jam: My manager won't appreciate it, but I'm putting off planning my upcoming tour and extending my vacation in Berry Bitty City!
Girls: Yay!  But we all have to go back to work, sorry.
Cherry Jam: *feels unproductive but doesn't want to go back to the city yet*
Cherry Jam: If only there was a way for me to use my musical talent here in town.
Berrykin Bloom: *bassoon playing is earth-shakingly loud*
Cherry Jam: Strawberry, I know what I'm gonna do today!
Cherry Jam: *gives lessons in Plum's dance studio*
Berrykin Bloom: *can now play the bassoon like a normal person*
BBC residents: If she can teach Berrykin Bloom, she can teach anyone!  Teach us, Cherry Jam!
Cherry Jam:  Sure thing!  And at the end of the week, we can have a recital.
Plum Pudding: What?!
Cherry Jam: It's what music teachers do, right?  Give recitals?
Plum: Must practice!
Plum: *practices nonstop*
Plum: *sprains wrist*
Cherry Jam: Oh, that's too bad.  I guess we'll have to postpone the recital, huh?
Plum: Wait, it's that easy?  Hm....
Cherry Jam: Boy, Plum, you sure have rotten luck.  First the wrist, then your dress wasn't done, then you hurt your rear, and now your drumsticks are lost.
Strawberry: Yeah, rotten luck.
Strawberry: Okay, Plum, what's up?  You love to perform.  What about all those dance recitals you've forced us to attend?
Plum: Duh, I'm good at dancing, and I'm no good at drumming.
Strawberry: Well, you must be a little good at it, what with all this extra practice time.  How about you play for me, and I'll let you know if you're ready or not.
Plum: If it's just you, sure.
Plum: *drums, loses hold of sticks at the end*
Strawberry: Not too bad, but why don't we get Lemon's opinion?
Strawberry: *manages to sneak in all the other students*
Cherry: Since everyone's here, let's open the recital with a group number.
Plum: Okay, I can live with that.  Let in the audience.
Princess Berrykin: *is the only audience member*
Princess Berrykin: And soon I'll be a student, too.  I'm thinking of taking up the bassoon.  *winks at Berrykin Bloom*
Berrykin Bloom: Why, Princess!
Audience at home: *did not need to see that*
Recital: *goes great*

Top Talent
Cherry Jam: *is serenaded by the Berrykin-Bug Marching Band*
Cherry Jam: That's great, but y'all are aware it's six in the morning, right?
Band leader: You've inspired us, Cherry Jam!  Include us in your next recital?
Cherry Jam: Sorry, but I'm heading home.  I've put off my tour planning long enough.
Cherry Jam: *has a heartfelt goodbye with the other girls*
Cherry Jam's bus: *breaks down*
Berrykin Bruce: Your hydraulic juicer-mixer is busted, gonna take two to three weeks to get a new one.
Cherry Jam: Well, since I'm sticking around a little longer, let's throw a talent show!
BBC Residents: Yeah!
Cherry Jam: I told my manager about the show, and my publicist mentioned it in a magazine, and now a talent scout from Big Bitty City is coming to see the show.
Girls: SQUEEEEE!  Fame and fortune will be ours!
Lemon: So we said, but only one girl can take home the top prize, and that girl is going to be me!  And thanks to Berrykin Bloom's inadvertent inspiration, I have just the thing to net me first place: hair topiary (scented)!
BBC Residents: *work on a stage for the talent show*
Girls: *get help from each other for the show and their acts*
Lemon: *rejects all requests for help*
Lemon: *rejects all offers of help*
Lemon: *hears Raspberry crying*
Raspberry: My keyboard is gone!  How can I be in the show without it?
Lemon: I now see that I have been selfish in devoting all my time to practicing for the show, and will instead devote the rest of my day to finding your keyboard, Raspberry!
Raspberry's keyboard: *is not found*
Raspberry: All I have left is a recording of my piece and the dress I made especially for the talent show!
Lemon: That gives me an idea!  And no, not one that involves cheating.
Talent show: *is hosted by Berrykin Bloom*
Berrykin Bloom: *tells terrible jokes between acts*
Lemon: *gets her friends to display all her topiaries at once*
Raspberry: *wears the Berry Dazzling dress*
Raspberry: *had time to make ones for Cherry Jam and Strawberry, too*
Raspberry: *wins third place*
Lemon: *wins second place*
Berrykin Bloom: *wins first place, despite not being an actual contestant*
Talent Scout: Raspberry, here's my card.  Have your people call mine.  You could be big!
Raspberry: There are not enough Es for the squee I'm about to let out.

A Star is Fashioned
Berrykin Mechanics: It sure is a shame Cherry's gonna leave once the part for her bus is delivered.
Bees: *deliver the part*
Berrykin Mechanics: If Berrykin Bruce never finds this, he'll never fix the bus, and Cherry will stay in Berry Bitty City forever!
Berrykin Mechanics: *hide part*
Berrykin Bruce: *is none the wiser*
Raspberry: Girls, there's something I have to tell you!  After the show last night, the talent scout gave me her card!
Girls: Call her, call her!
Raspberry: But what if it's some kind of scam?  They have me head down to what I think is a fancy boutique, but really it's a warehouse and they trick me into working in a sweatshop for the rest of my life!
Girls: If you won't call her, we will!
Blueberry: *dials the number*
Raspberry: Uh huh...uh huh...uh huh...uh huh.. yes, yes, yes!  They want me to head to the city right away to start my own fashion line!
Girls: Woohoo!
Cherry Jam: ....
Girls: Let's get you packed!
Berrykin Bruce: I'm so sorry, Miss Jam, but your part isn't in yet.  I know you must want to get back to the city and start working on your tour.
Cherry Jam: Part?  City?  Tour?  Oh, right.  I keep forgetting I didn't always live in Berry Bitty City.
Raspberry: *heads off to Berry Big City*
Girls: *miss her*
Raspberry: *e-mail* They're giving me my own studio in the city!
Girls: Woohoo!
Raspberry: *e-mail* So I'm coming back to pack up my studio and move to the city.
Girls: Woohoo?
Cherry: *shakes head ominously*
Raspberry: *returns*
Raspberry: *has become an urbanite to the core*
Girls: Welcome back, Raspberry! What's Joan Rivers doing with you?
Mavis: I'm not Joan Rivers, I'm Mavis Maraschino, host of Fashion Further Forward, and I represent everything that's terrible about people from the big city!  Like stepping on the little people, barking orders into cellphones, and especially thinking anything that isn't from the big city isn't worth the time of day.
Cherry: Raspberry, do not get sucked in.  Remember all the good things about small town life.
Mavis: What do you know about small time life?  You've been here, what, a month?  Raspberry, let's get out of here.
Raspberry: What was that all about?
Mavis: She's just jealous, darling, and trying to keep you here in the sticks while she goes back to the city.
Raspberry: Really?
Mavis: Yes, really.
Cherry: *practices a touching goodbye song for Raspberry's farewell party*
Raspberry: *doesn't show up*
Lemon: What's happening to the Raspberry we know and love?
Cherry: She's been bitten by the big city bug.  There's just something about the city that brings out the worst in people.
Strawberry: So you're not jealous of her?
Cherry: Nope.
Mavis: How can there only be one restaurant in town, and it's not even open?
Berrykins: It's boat racing day!
Raspberry: Must boat race!
Mavis: Honey, you're a star now, you never step on anything smaller than a yacht.
Cherry: *is borrowing Raspberry's boat*
Cherry: We didn't think you'd show, after you blew off last night's party.
Raspberry: The party!  I completely forgot!  And I'd never miss the boat race.  Come on, Mavis, this'll be a blast!
Mavis: Mavis Maraschino does not ride around in dinghies.  And neither does the Raspberry I know.
Raspberry: Then I guess you don't really know me.  Forget Berry Big City, I'm staying right here.
Cherry: You know what?  Me, too.
Mavis: You haven't seen the last of Mavis Maraschino!
Mavis: *drives off in Cherry's tour bus in disgrace*
Tour bus: *works, despite Berrykin Bruce never discovering the other mechanics' deception*

Thursday, January 26, 2012

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic - Episode 36

Spike gets another episode to himself, and we learn a little bit about dragon physiology in the process
Secret of My Excess
It's reshelving day, and Twilight Sparkle is ready!  With all distractions taken care of, she removes all the books from the shelves and begins resorting them with her magic.  Not long into the process, the sound of Spike's self-satisfied laughter causes her to lose her concentration and all the books come crashing down.  It seems he was checking on the ripeness of a fire ruby he's been saving for his birthday (gems can apparently age in this universe, I guess), and it will be ready just in time.  As Spike admires his soon-to-be birthday treat, Rarity enters the library and is instantly taken by the jewel.  Though she's actually there for a book on historical fiction (to get a jump on the next nostalgic fashion trend), she can't help casting an envious eye on Spike's jewel.  Though she wishes Spike well, she admires it just a little too much.  The little dragon's crush gets the better of him and he bestows the fire ruby to Rarity, who rewards him with a kiss on the cheek.  As Rarity bounds out of the library, Twilight commends Spike on his generous deed, while Spike vows to never wash his cheek again.
Skip to one week later, and the library is all set for Spike's birthday party.  The only thing that remains to be done is wash Spike's Rarity-kissed cheek, which, true to his word, hasn't been touched by soap and water for a week.  Twilight closes in with a wash cloth, and Spike tries to run, but gets caught in Twilight's short-range teleportation spell.  Twilight finally gets him after accidentally teleporting in Pinkie Pie, who distracted Spike with a shower of confetti.  The rest of their friends weren't far behind, all bearing presents for Spike, to his confused delight.  In turns out that this is his first birthday celebrated in Ponyville, and before this, he only hung out with Twilight, so he only got a present from her.  Speaking of presents, Rarity shows off her latest creation, a taffeta cape, and promises to make one for each of her friends, having been inspired by Spike's gift to her.
Once the cake has been eaten and the presents opened, Spike revels in his gifts and thanks his friends repeatedly.  As he wishes the party could last forever, Pinkie Pie informs him that it would have to end sometime, or when would he go get his birthday surprise from the Cakes?  Hearing this, Spike rushes off to Sugar Cube Corners immediately, leaving the ponies to party without him.  The Cakes are ready for him with a sapphire-encrusted cupcake, and as he heads home, Spike exults in his amazing luck: presents from his friends and a dragon-specific cupcake!  In the midst of his exultation, he bumps right into Miss Cheerilee, knocking over all her groceries.  As he attempts to help her without dropping his cupcake, the subject of his birthday comes up, and Cheerilee, wanting to wish him a happy birthday, gives him a snazzy hat she just happened to have with her.
Musing on this turn of events, Spike begins to see a trend, and tests his hypothesis by approaching Lickety Split, a boy in this incarnation.  When the mere mention of his birthday is all it takes to get the foal's ball, Spike goes on the prowl for more "birthday presents."  His assumption is proven false, however, after Junebug merely wishes him "happy birthday" and trots off.  Spike persists, trying to get some of her flowers, until Twilight finds him.  She admonishes him, and Spike comes to his senses.  He promises to return his ill-gotten gifts, but once Twilight heads home, he goes on the prowl again, his tongue becoming more forked and another set of eyelids blinking.
Once the next day dawns, Twilight is shocked to find a pile of stuff where Spike's bed should be, proof positive that he lied to her the day before.  She clears away the stuff to give him a stern talking to, but her lecture slips away when she sees Spike has apparently had a growth spurt in the night.  As Twilight consults her books, Spike freaks out.  He examines his new body, and notices that the world looks....different.  Twilight tries to get him to remember what happened the day before, but Spike is too easily distracted by things like a globe and books, which he adds to his pile.
When his voice starts changing, Twilight seeks outside help.  She takes him first to a pediatrician, who, not knowing anything about dragons, sends her to the vet.  She isn't much help either, though Spike does respond to her commands.  With the professionals stumped, there's only one place to go: Zecora's!  Zecora's diagnosis: Spike is going through puberty.  Which makes sense to Twilight, except for the constant hoarding.  Zecora explains that dragons are prone to being greedy, and that this actually fuels their growth.  Thus, the more Spike hoards, the larger he will get, and the more he will want to hoard, ad infinitum.  The only cure is to keep Spike from collecting anything more, but seeing as he made off with all the stuff in Zecora's hut while they were talking, this will be easier said than done.
Twilight races back to Ponyville, only to find Spike stealing Scootaloo's scooter.  Twilight distracts him with a broom before he actually takes the scooter, but he has another growth spurt in the process and can barely fit inside the library door.  Twilight traps Spike in one of the library rooms, but he just makes a hoard from all the books, much to Twilight's annoyance (she did just reshelve them all a week ago).  She removes the books, and with nothing to hoard, Spike makes a door and goes off in search of more things.
With Spike running wild, Twilight turns to Applejack for help, but the farmpony is simply too amused by the thought of a baby dragon on the rampage, unaware as she is of Spike's growth spurts.  But when Spike runs by with all the apples and leaves from her trees, it's time to get serious.  Applejack and Twilight chase after Spike, but in trying to get him, accidentally tie themselves to a tree, which Rainbow Dash, passing by, finds exceedingly funny.  Her laughter is cut short by a scream from Fluttershy, and the three ponies race to Fluttershy's cottage.  Naturally, the sight of a (nearly) full-grown dragon sent her hiding in the trees, though hearing it was Spike makes it a little better, though it doesn't explain to her why Spike would steal her chicken coop.  There's no time to explain, as the air is pierced by a scream from Pinkie Pie.
The others head for Sugar Cube Corners, where they find Pinkie Pie pelting Spike with anything she can get her hands on, mostly cakes.  Despite her efforts, Spike steals the rest of the cakes (and that's terrible) and has yet another growth spurt, this time growing larger than the building.  With his newfound size, Spike makes for Rarity's boutique and takes what he could never have before: Rarity herself.
By this time, Spike has been declared a national crisis, leading to panicking in the streets and much rampaging from Spike.  Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy fly in to Rarity's rescue, though their good cop/bad cop routine just gets them flung into the river, tearing Rarity's cape along the way.  Spike continues to rampage, and the Wonderbolts are called in (why them and not the royal guards or something?  I always thought they were just a performing team, not an actual defense force...).  They divebomb him a few times, shaving off Spike's spikes (somehow?), and Spike seeks solace on a nearby mountain.  As he climbs, the Wonderbolts continue to attack him, so Spike empties his hoard from the water tower's tank to a cave in the mountain side and then uses the tank to trap the pegasi.
Spike roars with pride, but Rarity is having none of it, and (unaware that the dragon she's addressing is Spike) starts to call him out on all the terrible things he's done.  She illustrates the absolute worst thing he did by tearing off her ruined cape and forcing him to look at the damage, which reveals the collar she made from the fire ruby.  Spike recognizes the gem, but Rarity mistakes this recognition as mere desire, and insists that he will not have it, since it was a gift from the most generous dragon she knows and thus too precious to give to anyone, especially an exceedingly greedy brute of a dragon like him.  Either Rarity's words or simply the sight of the jewel reminds Spike of how he gave it to her, and the memory of the kiss brings him back to his normal size.  Unfortunately, this leaves both him and Rarity hanging in the air for a moment, with no time to explain what just happened as gravity kicks in and they plummet to their deaths.  Seeing as they might not make it, Spike starts to confess his crush, but Rarity stops him.
All is well, however, as Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy take up the torn half of Rarity's cloak and make a break for their falling friends, catching them well before the nick of time.  They gently let the two of them down, and everyone is pleased with a job well done.  But Spike, surveying the damage he did, can't help but be bummed out.  Before he can get too depressed, Rarity tells him she's proud of him, though he doesn't understand why.  So Rarity explains that in the end, he was the one who stopped himself from rampaging, making him the hero of this tale, and earning him another kiss on the cheek.
As Spike writes of how it feels better to give a special present to a special pony than to get lots of generic stuff for yourself, Rarity shows off the fruits of her labor and presents all the promised capes.  Spike is not one of the recipients, but as far as he's concerned, he already got something even better.
Not really sure how I feel about this one.  The Godzilla and King Kong references were fun, but it raises a lot of questions about dragons.  Do all dragons go through this, just growing huge one day, or is it more gradual with dragons who weren't raised by ponies?  Is greed essential to dragon growth, and if so, will Spike stay a baby dragon forever just so long as he never gets greedy?  Is that healthy?
I'm probably overthinking this.

Misc. Screenshots
Horrified ponies
Spike's hand

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Upcoming Dan Vs. Episode

In two weeks, Dan Vs. Dancing:
Dan's anti-dance crusade gets in the way of Elise's dancing queen dreams, so she sends him to the dancing capital of the world.
I don't know if that sounds like the most awesome episode or a weird fanfic, but I'm looking forward to it regardless.  If it doesn't feature Dan in top hat and tails at some point, I will be sorely disappointed.
(And for the record, there's a new episode next week, "The Neighbors.")

Friday, January 20, 2012

Lorax Movie meets a Meme

I admit, I laughed harder at these than I probably should have:

Cut All The Trees by ~Ca14 on deviantART
Cut All the Trees? by *ThinkerGirl96 on deviantART

New SSC DVDs Coming

The latest Strawberry Shortcake's Berry Bitty Adventures DVD and the last of the DiC series will be coming out on March 6th.  From the description, Bloomin' Berry Garden will have "Vanishing Violets" and "Trading Sizes," but there's no indication of what the third episode will be.  My guess: "Pop Goes the Garden."
And in case it interests you, I stumbled onto the site of the person who designed the logos for both these DVDs.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic - Episode 35

There truly is nothing like a Rarity episode, and this one is no exception.
Sweet and Elite
There are certain perks to being friends with Princess Celestia's personal protege, such as getting to stay in a suite at the castle when you're in Canterlot.  That doesn't mean that Rarity expected such a thing, though, and she can only express her gratitude through excessive kissing of the princess' hooves.  The bellhop, meanwhile, collapses under the weight of Rarity's excessive luggage.
Though Rarity is in Canterlot for business purposes, she takes some time to enjoy the hustle and bustle of Canterlot life with her kitty, Opalescence, and muses that she should make Twilight an outfit for her upcoming birthday to thank her for getting her the room in the castle.  As she sips her cafe au lait, she's approached by two unicorns who introduce themselves as Jet Set and Upper Crust, inquiring about her lovely hat.  Before Rarity can hopefully impress them with the fact that she made it herself, she's interrupted by a window-washing pony, A.C. Turnip Truck, who recognizes her from last fall's hoe down.  He embarrasses her in front of the Canterlotters, but Rarity is too nice to say anything.  Hearing that she's from Ponyville, the two unicorns reverse their initial thoughts on her hat and walk off with their snoots in the air.
Burning with indignation, Rarity designs her fanciest dress ever, and immediately writes to Twilight to let her know about the forthcoming gift.  She rushes out to buy the materials, but on her way back accidentally bumps into Fancy Pants, the most important pony in Canterlot society!  In the course of apologizing and picking up her things, Rarity offhandedly mentions that she's staying at the castle and knows the princess.  This garners her an invitation to Fancy Pant's VIP box for the Wonderbolts Derby that afternoon.  Stunned, Rarity can only mumble out "Sure."
Back at her suite, Rarity weighs the pros and cons of going to the derby versus working on Twilight's dress: though making connections in Canterlot could be very good for her and her business, her friends appreciate her work more than anyone, so shouldn't she throw her whole self into making the dress?  In the end, she decides that going to the derby will still leave time for the dress, and so she goes!  Jet Set and Upper Crust are also at the derby, in the regular seats, so they are shocked when Rarity is welcomed into the VIP box by Fancy Pants himself.  She is, of course, roundly ignored by Fancy Pants' other guests, until he drops the word that she's staying at the castle.  But the race is about to begin, and according to Fancy Pants, Rapid Fire is the one to beat.  His guests all agree, except for Rarity, who thinks Fleet Foot will come out the winner.  Her treacherous words are proved right, and she credits her prediction to her friend Rainbow Dash.  When questioned about this "Rainbow Dash," Rarity, rather than lose face by admitting she's just a pegasus from Ponyville, says that Dash is the Wonderbolts' trainer.  This ruse works, and Fancy Pants declares her his new favorite.  As his other guests cheer for her, she winks at the utterly gobsmacked Upper Crust and Jet Set.
With Fancy Pants' stamp of approval, Rarity quickly charms the rest of his guests, who extend invitations to their upcoming functions.  Though she would love to, Rarity must stick to her convictions and work on Twilight's dress.  However, the other ponies insists that their functions would simply be defunct without her there, and fix her with such puppy-dog-eyes that she can't say no, though she wonders how she'll have time to pull off such a fancy dress and attend all their functions.  She justifies all this to Opal by explaining the dress is still her top priority, but she can't stand to disappoint the VIPs of Canterlot by turning down their invitations.
And thus, Rarity's ascent into the Canterlot Elite begins, set to a montage song.  She attends art house openings, charity auctions, dinner parties, the opera, yacht parties, even christens an airship.  And each event has a specific wardrobe:

But despite her earlier promise, she leaves exceedingly little time for working on Twilight's dress, and on the day of her return to Ponyville, it is merely a simple frock.  She intends to finish it up once she gets back to Ponyville, but just as she's about to leave, an invitation to the Canterlot Garden Party arrives from Jet Set and Upper Crust.  At first she's ecstatic, as it's the most premiere party after the Grand Galloping Gala, but in the next moment she remembers that it's at the same time as Twilight's birthday party!  She can't miss that, but if she doesn't go to the garden party, then her all her function-attending was for naught.  Caught between a rock and a hard place, she makes the only decision she can: she writes to Twilight, but blames her inability to be at her party on Opal being sick.
The next day, Rarity gets herself ready for the garden party, only to find Twilight Sparkle herself outside her door, quickly joined by the rest of her friends.  The shock knocks her out, but only for a moment.  It's still a few moments more before she can properly express herself to ask what the hay they're all doing there.  Twilight explains that, considerate friend that she is, she asked Pinkie Pie if they could move the party to Canterlot so Rarity wouldn't miss it.  Rarity is touched by this gesture, but then Rainbow Dash demands to know what she's wearing such a fancy outfit for.  Rarity, remembering her initial lie, claims it's to bolster poor Opal's spirits, and Fluttershy asks to see the sick kitty.  To her friends' confusion, Rarity shuts her door, claiming to need a minute, and, apologizing to Opal, runs her under the shower to maintain her lie.  This manages to fool Fluttershy, and reveals that Rarity actually puts eye shadow on her cat.  As the other ponies filter into the suite, Twilight spots her dress, but much to Rarity's surprise and relief, she actually likes it for how simple it is.
Another perk of being the princess' personal protege is being able to use the ballroom for your own parties, which Pinkie describes as "fancypants."  Rarity hides in fear of being seen by Canterlot's most important pony in the company of her Ponyville friends, but quickly realizes that's not what Pinkie Pie meant, and instead asks how she decorated so quickly.  Two Words: Party. Cannon.  Rarity hides again when she sees that the castle grounds, where the garden party is being held, is clearly visible from the ballroom windows, but she doesn't have time to dwell on it, as Pinkie Pie declares it time to get this party started!  And so the friends celebrate as only they can, which includes cake fights and conga lines.
Rarity, however, finds her attention divided.  No matter how much fun she's having with her friends, she can't help but notice the garden party outside.  So she sneaks away to make an appearance at the garden party, then sneaks away from there just as quickly.  She continues to go back and forth between the two parties, sneaking off either when no one is looking or by inventing excuses (and even using the "what's that over there?" trick).  And no one is the wiser, until she accidentally brings a croquet mallet back with her to Twilight's party.  Twilight figures out that Rarity was at the garden party, but surprises Rarity once again by not being upset by this.  She assumes Rarity was just there to drum up some business (the Grand Galloping Gala is coming up, you know), and gives Rarity full permission to go to other party.  Rarity is once again touched, and thanks Twilight for being an awesome friend, then heads off to the garden party.
Rainbow Dash, however, insists that they all go and show those Canterlotters how to party Ponyville-style, much to Rarity's horror.  The other ponies agree, and they crash the garden party, party cannon in tow.  Rarity watches, helpless, as Rainbow Dash takes over the croquet game and knocks off a lady's wig, Fluttershy attracts all the birds, Pinkie Pie devours the snacks, Applejack puts actual gardening into the garden party, and Twilight dances like a dork. As Rarity downs a drink to get her mind off her friends, Jet Set comments on the plainness of Twilight's outfit, unaware he's talking to its creator, and Rarity can't bring herself to correct him.
Twilight is approached by Fancy Pants, who asks about her dress.  Twilight is quick to let him know it was made for her by a very close friend from Ponyville, causing Rarity to spit-take all over Jet Set and Upper Crust when she hears this.  She rushes over to get Fancy Pants away before Twilight can mention her name, but Fancy Pants, used to being dragged away from talking to ponies by other ponies who think they're more worth his time, gently brushes her off.  And once Twilight drops the bomb that Rarity made the dress, there's shocked gasps all around from the Canterlot elite.  Not reading the mood, Twilight adds that all her friends think it's a lovely dress, and the rest of the Ponyvillians gather around.  "You know these ponies?" Fancy Pants asks Rarity, and as the gossip starts to buzz around her, Rarity turns from her friends to the Canterlot ponies and answers, "Yes."  She gives them all a speech about how her friends may not have status, but they are the most important ponies she knows.  Jet Set and Upper Crust don't buy it, and laugh at them until Fancy Pants tells them he finds these Ponyville ponies "charmingly rustic."  He also compliments the dress Rarity made for Twilight, predicting that it may become the next big thing, and asks to be formally introduced to Rarity's friends.
On the new day of her return to Ponyville, Rarity begins writing a letter to Princess Celestia to tell her what she learned while in Canterlot (never be ashamed of where you came from), but the princess shows up to hear it in person.  While they both agree it's a good lesson, the bellhop would have appreciated it if they could have finished up a little sooner, as he collapses under Rarity's luggage yet again.
As expected, this episode was very entertaining.  Rarity can make almost any situation worth watching, and it was nice to see Opal going back to her snarky kitty role, as lately she's only been used as a mean kitty.  And "Becoming Popular" is totally the song that should have been the premiere song of Season Two.  Way more worthy than "Find a Pet" IMO.
One thing I loved about this episode was that Rarity essentially got away with it.  Normally I hate episodes where a character tells a lie and has to go to lengths to keep it up, since I'm always waiting for that moment when it comes crashing down, and everybody is all disappointed with that character.  But that doesn't happen in this episode.  Rarity flakes on making Twilight's dress...and Twilight actually likes it better than the super fancy dress Rarity had planned.  Her "Opal is sick lie" isn't found out, and even though her sneaking between parties is, Twilight isn't upset at all.  I guess the more important thing for Rarity to learn was to stand by her friends, so she was allowed to get away with it, but it was very, very refreshing.

Misc. Screenshots
Fancy Pants and Girlfriend
Canterlot Race Track
Did I mention it's for charity?
The Canterlot Bunch
Wrong move, Rainbow Dash
Golf clap
Upper Crust and Jet Set change their tune

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

That One Video

So I'm watching Obscurus Lupa's 30 Genre Films that DON'T Suck, and she mentions that one of the films on her list, Little Monsters, was her favorite as a kid and the one that she rented all the time from the video store.  Which got me to thinking about how my sisters and I also had a video that we rented more than any other when we were kids.  Actually, come to think of it, there were two.  We took Yellow Submarine out from the library as often as we could, until their copy got lost, or stolen, and they never bothered to replace it (still!).  But what I really meant to write about here was the video we rented from the video store: Unico in the Island of Magic.
In case you don't know, and when we were kids, my sisters and I certainly didn't, Unico was a character created by Osamu Tezuka, a unicorn who brought happiness to people, and for this was banished by the gods. But the West Wind took pity on him and kept moving him from place to place, trying to keep him hidden from the gods.  Unico in the Island of Magic was actually the second movie based on the Unico manga, and follows Unico after the West Wind places him on an island which turns out to be ruled by an evil puppet named Lord Kuruku.  He makes friends with a girl named Cherie whose older brother works for Kuruku in hopes of keeping his family safe from being turned into living puppet people that Kuruku uses to build up his castle walls.  But this doesn't work, as Toby and Cherie's parents are turned into puppets, and so Unico and Cherie travel to the ends of the earth to find out how to stop Kuruku.  There's all kinds of crazy stuff and great characters, so it's no wonder my sisters and I loved it so much.  I should rewatch it sometime.  It's on YouTube, after all.
What videos do you remember renting all the time?  I asked my husband, but he can't think of any specific examples.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic - Episode 34

It's back-to-back Rainbow Dash, as this episode has her in the focus again, proving that no matter how many lessons she may learn, "not being a jerk" is not one of them.
The Mysterious Mare Do Well
Scootaloo, in her quest to spread Rainbow Dash's awesomeness to the world, has put together an official fan club which has a pretty good number of members, including Snips and Snails.  First order of business: which adjective properly conveys all that is Rainbow Dash?  A voice from the crowd suggests "Super-ultra-extreme-awesome-mazing" which is voted for unanimously.  Considering it came from Rainbow Dash herself, how could it not?
After trolling the kids, Rainbow Dash relaxes in the clouds, until she hears a voice calling for help coming from a nearby abandoned well.  Without hesitation, Dash leaps into the fray and rescues a young filly, attracting quite a crowd in the process.  Surprised by the cheering crowd, Dash modestly tells them it was nothing, though the filly she rescued disagrees.  With the cheers of the crowd echoing in her ears, she flies off.
Sometime later, a scream pierces the air, as a mother watches her baby go careening wildly down the hill in her carriage.  Once again, Rainbow Dash leaps into action, managing to stop the carriage just before it went over a cliff.  And once again, she attracts a cheering crowd, though this time she plays it up for them a bit.  When the newsponies start taking her picture, she casually tosses the rescued baby to her mother so she can pose.  Twilight and Applejack think she might be overdoing it, but then again, she is pretty awesome.
Later still, the balcony at the old ponies home starts to crack, but luckily, Rainbow Dash is ready to save the day, even alerting the crowd that their "friendly neighborhood Rainbow Dash is here!"  And just in time, she catches the balcony and gently guides it (and the ponies on it) to the ground.  As the surrounding crowd cheers, Rainbow Dash fully embraces their adulation, showing off some aerial tricks for them.  And showing her friends that she may be getting a little full of herself.
Or a lot full of herself, as she tells the story of her recent rescues to her adoring fans over at Sugar Cube Corners.  She's even hired Spike to ghost-write her autobiography.  It's painfully clear to her friends (even Pinkie Pie) that Rainbow Dash's ego is going out of control, as she poses for pictures with all her fans, never once shutting up about what an awesome and heroic pony she is.
Out in Ponyville Square, Rainbow Dash signs autographs for her fans, and seemingly ignores a cry for help from a luckless hot air balloonist.  But no, she just wants squeeze in a few more autographs, knowing she still has time to make it.  Finally, Rainbow Dash takes to the sky, but as she flies, a masked mare suddenly appears.  Leaping across the rooftops, the mare manages to reach the falling balloonist before Rainbow Dash, and receives the crowd's applause.  As the mare gallops off into the sunset, the mayor declares her the town's new hero, dubbing her The Mysterious Mare Do Well.  As far as Rainbow Dash is concerned, the town only needs one hero: her!
Case in point, who shows up when a wagon full of tourists goes out of control on the same hill the baby carriage was careening down earlier?  Rainbow Dash!  However, stopping a baby carriage is one thing, but a wagon is considerably heavier, especially when it's full of tourists.  Despite her best efforts, Rainbow Dash is unable to stop it.  As the wagon heads straight for the cliff, Mare Do Well appears out of nowhere and stops the wagon, then takes off as soon as the tourists are safe.  Rainbow Dash is astonished that this interloper is stronger than she is, but reminds herself that there's more to being a hero than being strong.
Down at the construction yard, the equipment suddenly goes haywire.  Seeing this, Rainbow Dash starts to give her catchphrase, but is interrupted by a falling piece of lumber, which hits the tower under construction, sending it toppling to the ground.  Rainbow Dash attempts to save ponies, but there's just too much falling debris.  And once again, Mare Do Well appears, leaping into the fray and navigating with ease.  Meanwhile, Rainbow Dash saves a pony from being squashed by a falling load of bricks and gets him out of the danger zone.  She gloats about this to Mare Do Well, only to find out that in the time it took her to save one pony, Mare Do Well saved four.  Faster than Rainbow Dash?!  How can this be?
Rainbow Dash resolves to beat this newcomer, and flies off in search of something heroic to do.  She spots a crack in the Ponyville dam, and figures the valiant thing to do is block it herself, unaware that in doing so, she actually made it bigger.  Unfortunately, she failed to alert any ponies of her heroic deed, and thus has to congratulate herself herself.  Which unblocks the now bigger crack, sending forth a torrent of water, washing the pegasus down the river.  Rainbow Dash calls for help and is answered, but is displeased to see her savior is the dreaded Mare Do Well.  Before Dash has time to get two words out, Mare Do Well reveals a unicorn horn, and uses rocks to repair the dam, once again disappearing once the deed is done.  Rainbow Dash wonders how she's supposed to compete with somepony who is stronger than her, more agile, and has magical abilities, until she realizes that a unicorn doesn't have wings.  Her glee is short-lived, as she is suddenly passed by Mare Do Well in flight.
Back at Sugar Cube Corner, Dash sulks while her friends praise Mare Do Well's recent actions.  However, when Applejack points out MDW's modesty, Rainbow Dash loses it, vowing to prove herself the better hero.  She flies about town, looking for trouble, but finds only normalcy.  Then she spots Granny Smith, and figures helping a little old lady across the street has to count for something.  But rather than praise, she gets a whack from Granny's purse, as the elderly pony didn't want to cross the street.  Not one to give up, Rainbow Dash hears the sounds of a pony in trouble and leaps into action, even if the trouble was simply opening a jar of peanut butter.  She calls for praise, but as she didn't really do anything, the unicorn she "helped" is loathe to give her any.  But Dash is off to bigger and better things anyway, as she spots a lawn mower and mows all the grass!  She plays this up like she saved the grass by mowing it, but no one is buying it, and she is left alone.
Her day officially ruined, Rainbow Dash broods on a storm cloud, wondering how Mare Do Well stole her thunder.  After all, as far as she can tell, she's still as awesome as ever, yet everyone has abandoned her.  Not everyone, it seems, as Scootaloo calls her down.  But is she there to apologize for her lapse of fangirling?  Actually, no, she's there to invite Dash to the town's parade in honor of Mare Do Well.  Dash, of course, turns her down flat, until a thought strikes her and she comes along.  She bides her time until the Mayor introduces the guest of honor, Mare Do Well herself, and then confronts the mysterious pony, demanding to see under the mask.  Mare Do Well takes off, and Rainbow Dash chases her through the streets and back alleys of Ponyville.  Somehow, Mare Do Well stays a step ahead of Rainbow Dash, even appearing to be in more than one place at once.  At last, Rainbow Dash manages to tackle the masked mare, and pulls off the mask.
To her utter astonishment, she finds none other than Pinkie Pie under the mask, smiling sheepishly.  Even more surprising, another Mare Do Well stands just a few feet away and reveals herself to be Twilight Sparkle.  And yet another one steps out, this time revealing Applejack.  They explain that they each were the Mysterious Mare Do Well at different times: Applejack stopped the tourist wagon with her apple-buck-strengthened legs, Pinkie Pie saved the construction workers using her Pinkie Sense to avoid the debris, and Twilight fixed the dam.  Fluttershy chimes in that she did the flyby afterwards, and of course Rarity made the costumes.
Rainbow Dash is confounded by her friends' actions; wasn't she enough of a hero?  Applejack points out that a real hero doesn't brag about it.  Rainbow Dash concedes that she got carried away with the adulation, and the others continue on that while it's natural to want to be praised, you shouldn't force anyone to acknowledge your accomplishments.  The important thing is be gracious and humble.  Rainbow Dash finally gets it, and adds that acting with humility and grace when you're outdone by someone else is important, too.  Twilight tells her that sounds like Grade A material for a letter to the princess, but Spike, still on Dash's payroll, has a letter already on hand.  Rainbow Dash distracts him, and then takes up the quill to write her letter herself.
This is another episode that doesn't quite add up to the sum of its parts.  While there's a lot of fun and interesting things and scenes, the episode as a whole just doesn't do it for me.  And a big part of that is because it's mostly All Dash, All the Time.  Really, a little Dash goes a long way, and the last episode being so Dash-centric doesn't help, either.  But I loved seeing all the new background ponies, the RD fan club, and other little things like that.  And this ep had some really awesome expressions, seriously:

I wonder whether the mayor was in on the whole "Mare Do Well is just a thing to teach Dash a lesson."  She was pretty quick to declare the town's new hero.  Hm....

Misc. Screenshots
Blushing Dash
Peeved Dash
Opening Peanut Butter
Mare Do Well fans

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Not Such a Smart Muffin?

So, apparently the next SSCBBA episode is about Blueberry Muffin assuming that Strawberry is sending them all on vacation, or some such, which is pretty par for the course for this series (yes, but how will the usual plot be affected by Cherry Jam?  Which is not actually what I'm writing about).  The fact that it's Blueberry specifically that does the assuming (the episode is even titled after her, "No Blueberry is an Island") got me thinking.  Now, Blueberry is supposedly the Smart Guy of the girls (her official profile calls her "super smart"), yet it seems like all her focus episodes do their best to prove the exact opposite.  Granted, a lot of the time, it's to cement Strawberry's position as the voice of reason, but some of these are just inexcusable.  Mild spoilers ahoy.
Pop Goes the Garden - Blueberry orders daisies from a mail-order catalog and just can't understand how she ended up with popcorn instead, in comparison with Strawberry, who found a typo in a cookbook and was just "Eh, people make mistakes."
Where Oh Where Has My Blueberry Gone - Most egregious example.  Blueberry goes crazy for the Patty Persimmon series of books and not only empties her store of any books but those, but seeks to emulate Patty in all her doings, especially when investigating a real mystery.  It's been a while since I've seen this one, but I seem to recall even the other characters pointing out the stupidity of getting rid of the other books.  Really, Blueberry, even in a fangirl mania, you should have known better.
Manners Meltdown - Blueberry goes crazy observing obscure manners rules when the Berry Bitty Derby is reinstated, to the point of lacking both common sense and tact.
Happy First Frost - Again, Blueberry just can't understand why no one but her would want a huge book on organizing books.  For someone who reads a lot, she sure can be obtuse.
Truth be told, none of the characters really fare that well in their spotlight episodes, which as I mentioned before, is due to the writers needing Strawberry to be the one to deliver the lesson of the episode most of the time.  But no one else usually ends up being the opposite of their character traits.  How weird is that?

What I'm Looking Forward to in 2012

2012 is going to be quite the year, as there's a lot coming up:

  • My younger sister's wedding
  • My older sister's first child being born
  • Renewing the things that are only renewed every four years
  • Presidential election
And on the non-real life side of things, there's plenty I'm anticipating:

  • The rest of season two of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic
  • Season 3!
  • The rest of season two of Strawberry Shortcake's Berry Bitty Adventures (the next episode isn't until the 28th, what's up with that?)
  • The Lorax movie