Checking in with the herd

The 2014 State of the Herd Report is out, and this year’s pony fans are marginally more female, a teensy bit more married (though 4.7 percent won’t overwhelm the Los Pegasus wedding chapels), and just about as likely to pester friends and neighbors to watch the darn show already.

A few not-entirely-random quotes from the report:

Utah has the most Bronies per 100,000 … followed closely by Alaska. Mississippi, once again, is dead last in per capita Bronyism.

Utah checks in with 9.03 per 100k; Mississippi, 1.87. (Oklahoma, should you be curious, is mid-pack at 4.47.)

There’s a very distinct gender break on the Pegasister question. While 60% of males basically “meh” at the question [“Women should be pegasisters,” as distinguished from bronies], 47% of females either disagree or strongly disagree, with only 14% agreeing or strongly agreeing.

A desire not to be segregated? Fancy that.

On the question of Favorite Character, it takes seven slots to include the Mane Six, since Princess Luna has vaulted all the way to third. (Derpy is eighth.) And this is a trifle alarming:

As you look through the list, stop to consider that Tom, a piece of rock, drew more votes than Flim, Flam, and either Mr. or Mrs. Cake.

And the data-collection period ended long before we met Pinkie Pie’s sister Maud, so I see Tom, if only as a possible ship for Maud, gaining popularity in the near future. Also, Flam outdrew Flim, which makes me wonder if people can really tell them apart.

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The community comes forward

He was eleven, a fairly typical kid for his age, with one exception that comes to mind: he was a fan of My Little Pony, and he wasn’t going to change that for anypony.

Then came the rage, the bullying, the anger. At eleven, you wonder why, and maybe you think it’s your fault. And you get out the rope.

It didn’t kill Michael Morones, but it came too close for comfort. Pony fans put together a short fundraiser to help cover the kid’s medical expenses; it raised five grand in something like ten hours. The donations kept coming in. The goal was raised to $10,000, then to $20,000. As of last night over $33,000 had been donated.

This quote from the fund site seems pertinent:

I read about Michael the other day at the everfree network and have seen news about him daily. When I saw the photo of him in the hospital bed with all the tubes I couldn’t help but shed a tear for the poor kid. I myself was bullied in high school and teased all my school life. Early on I was teased and shunned for being poor. But then when I was 10 years old I was severely burned in an explosion. High school was a very difficult time for me. My sophomore year I was basically physically assaulted leaving science class and to make things worse the school administration turned a blind eye. I was targeted for being different because of my scars and appearance. I’ve grown since then and I still have a philosophy in life. Enjoy your life and be grateful for what you have. Don’t feel pressure to be like everyone else. I enjoy the things and act how I want to as long as it’s not hurting anybody. MLP is just another positive message in a world where kids need more hope, magic, and friendship, in their lives. Bullying should never ever be accepted and Michael nor anyone else should have to hide what they like or who they are simply because others don’t understand. We are all different yet the same.

“How dare you like what I don’t like!” is not, and will never be, a viable philosophy, its echoes in far-off lands like the District of Columbia notwithstanding.

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Rule 34 and the Mane Six

Musician MandoPony has been contemplating the sheer quantity of sexed-up pony pictures out there, and yes, there are some pervs in our midst, but there’s more to it than that:

It’s rare for female characters to be strong leaders who can take care of themselves and save the world over and over again, but they exist in this show. It’s awesome. The ponies don’t need guys to “save” them. They don’t need men to fawn over them. (with the possible exception of Rarity!) They don’t need men to guide them. They don’t need men for anything. Neither do they look down on male characters. They’re neither above, nor below, the males. They’re totally equal and very capable of taking care of themselves without help from the opposite sex. It’s true equality. I freaking love that.

For most guys, I think this idea messes with their heads. It’s so beyond their reasoning skills that they have to objectify the female characters in order to accept them. They need to sexualize the characters in order to bring them back down.

This makes sense in the context of demographics: the 15-25-year-old guy who puts impossibly large crotchboobs on [name of pony] likely has yet to adjust to the reality of life among Actual Women. (As I haven’t, but then I can’t draw.) Of course, this failure to adapt goes both ways, so this term is non-gender-specific.

And this theory does not exclude a possibility more blatantly obvious:

People are perverts. They like to draw sexy versions of everything. Male, female, animal, vegetable, mineral, it doesn’t matter.

Then again, when was this not true?

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My life in a nutshell

Even vaguely resembles my desk:

Osborne Executive

The computer on display is the Osborne Executive, intended as the follow-on product to the Osborne 1, two of which I used to own: only a handful of these — and you had to have big hands, because they were large and unwieldy — managed to slink out of the factory before the company went bankrupt.

And given the retro technology that pervades Equestria, I’ve got to believe that if ponies have computers, they’re running CP/M.

(Unsourced picture from Derpibooru.)

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Worst friends forever

Rule 63 of the Internet holds that for every fictional character, there exists an opposite-gender counterpart. Just about everypony in Equestria has been sixty-three’d at one time or another; arguably the most popular is the colt version of Twilight Sparkle, almost universally named Dusk Shine.

The following spammer, caught in Akismet yesterday, apparently isn’t up to Dusk’s high standards:

Dung Shine

I’m guessing he’s the black — um, brown — sheep of the family.

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Fluttershub-Niggurath

All I dare give you is the description:

Little Maddie is a Cthulhu-themed My Little Pony designed by Bigshot Toyworks for Friendship is Maddness, a project encompassing a series of animation shorts and toys.

I assume this was approved by the estate of H. P. Lovecolt.

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Meanwhile in Ponyville

I’ve spent a lot of time plugging my own stories, occasionally noting connections that somehow exist between that world and this one. (And possibly other worlds as well: a reader told me yesterday that I’d somehow evoked the tale of Aragorn and Arwen from The Lord of the Rings for him.)

But this is someone else’s story, and I’m urging you to read it because — well, just because. It’s about 13,000 words. It’s called There Is Love Beyond What Lingers, it came out late on Christmas Day, and I’m hoping that none of you have ever been in this situation, or ever will be.

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When ponies attack

I have to admit, something like this would put me off rather severely:

I had just walked upstairs, into my bathroom, when I heard someone say “la la la la la *giggles*”. Hmmm, that sounds like my daughter’s My Little Pony doll. But … why in the hell is it talking without anyone touching it?

“I love youuu!” it said afterwards.

Now there’s a phrase I don’t hear too often, especially out of the blue. Or, in this case, the pink:

I walked into the hummingbird’s room to investigate and saw that the pink pony was mostly under her bed with just the legs sticking out.

UH UHH, I’ve seen Chucky too many times and there was no way in hell I was going to bend down and pull that damn doll out from under the bed.

I looked at the picture of the pony in question. It’s a G3 So Soft Newborn Pinkie Pie from 2007. Wouldn’t hurt a flea — not deliberately, anyway.

Then again, I keep the batteries out of my own Twilight Sparkle Animated Storyteller, lest she start blabbing in the middle of the night.

(Via The Daily Oat.)

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My very best friends

There is friendship, and there is magic. And there are times when it might take the latter to bring about the former.

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Just a few pony songs

As Twilight Sparkle might say, I wasn’t prepared for this:

Songs of Friendship and MagicHasbro, seeing a need — and perhaps noting the enormous number of mediocre YouTube episode dubs — has put out, at least on iTunes and Google Play, an eleven-track album of arguably the best tunes from the first two years of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. The most obvious omission, I think, is the Cutie Mark Crusaders Song from “The Show Stoppers,” but then it was never intended to be, um, good. Ingram, of course, is the logical person to plug this thing, since he wrote them all, and iTunes lists him as the artist on all tracks. (Which reminds me: whom do we have to proposition to get a collection of William Anderson’s background music?)

The iTunes package ($9.99) contains one of Apple’s Digital Booklets — it’s a PDF, no big deal — with a list of who’s singing what and all the words. (Except for “BBBFF,” which got lost in the shuffle; its page in the Booklet contains the opening of “This Day Aria,” which admittedly is a pretty long song.) If you’ve ever wanted to sing along with Flim and Flam’s ode to the Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000, now’s your chance. (At the time I grabbed this album, Flim and Flam were dead last on the iTunes popularity chart, with “Smile” and “Winter Wrap Up” grabbing all the single buys. I can’t explain it either.)

Of course, I love all this stuff unreservedly, “Love Is In Bloom” most of all.

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Derpmobile!

And you know, it’s not banged up or anything at all:

Mitsubishi Starion with Derpy Hooves imaging

The Starion was a major contributor to what used to be Mitsubishi’s performance image, and we may never know for sure if Mitsu had intended to call it “Stallion.” Then again, Derpy’s a mare and may not care.

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Decades after the fact

Every now and then, Jack Baruth throws me a curve. In a piece with the seriously on-point title “Do You Have A Wound That Won’t Heal?” he cites a meme I might have missed:

You are now thinking of her. What is her name?

If there’s any difference between me eighteen years ago (almost) when I started this site and me now, it’s my ability to deal with that question without actually answering it. In fact, I got the core of a pony story out of it. Middle-aged stallion looking dejected on a bench, crisp social-worker mare investigating, and we pick it up here:

“If you’re looking for ponies who need a place to stay, there’s one who sleeps in the old Wheelwright warehouse.”

“Used to, anyway,” she said. “About a week ago he was found dead.”

He cringed. “Something got him?”

“Just exposure to the elements. He’d been hiding out there since before Hearth’s Warming Eve, and it eventually got too cold for him. Old earth ponies just don’t have the same resistance to the cold that the younger ones do. And sometimes they don’t realize that.”

“So your job,” he said, “involves telling me to beware of the cold?”

“If necessary, yes,” she replied. “That poor pony had no money, no family, and maybe if we’d found him earlier, we might have been able to save him.” She sighed. “And now he’s gone. I wouldn’t want that to happen to you. I wouldn’t want that to happen to anypony.”

He looked at her. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I didn’t mean to impugn your profession. I’m just not used to being worried about.”

“And your family?”

“Long gone. Both parents died; never had a brother or a sister. It’s just me out here.”

She persisted. “Do you at least have a Very Special Somepony?”

For a moment, he looked beyond her, away from the coast, toward a place he barely remembered.

Finally, he spoke. “For forty years,” he said, “I have loved only one mare. Well, she was a filly back then, but … but she was always the one.” He shook his head. “If only she knew…”

The rest of the story, of course, is about healing a wound.

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Occasionally Grimm

Fillyjonk defends the fairy tale:

One of the reasons I like fairy tales, and liked them as a kid, is that they follow certain rules. The cruel, the greedy, the evil are punished in the end. The good, kind, honest, and hardworking are rewarded. Suffering is generally not in vain. And while death happens, often the parents of the good kind protagonists are described as dying peacefully after a long, good life. In other words, it portrays a world that seems to me more just than our actual world. (Too often in this world, it seems to me, the cruel do not see the consequences of their actions, and the fact that “no good deed goes unpunished” is a saying tells me this world is less just than it could be.)

I’ll go a little farther with that: the examples of justice being meted out, of heroes triumphing over frightening foes, are absolutely essential for young folks. They have to see that it’s possible to survive something scary, and that wrongs are eventually righted. There’s plenty of time for them to become cynical once they become teenagers.

And now that I think about it, this may be my true rock-bottom objection to Equestria Girls: they took half a dozen examples of Equestria’s finest, who have stared down (literally, in Fluttershy’s case) some of the scariest scenarios known to pony, and dropped them into a remarkably ordinary suburban high school. This is about as useful to a kid’s development as sending Andersen’s Ugly Duckling to the mall for a makeover.

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I am still not prepared for this

About a year ago, Buzzfeed wanted to cast name-brand actor types as My Little Pony characters, and the very first one they came up with was Zooey Deschanel as Twilight Sparkle. Said I at the time: “I appreciate the effort to push two of my smaller obsessions into a larger one.”

Which I promptly forgot about, until Sarah Lovell took this picture at DragonCon and it showed up — as usual, uncredited — on Derpibooru.

It must be said here that I look at a lot of cosplay pix, and Rarity and Applejack always seem to come off well, but I’ve never been particularly keen on any of the Twilights — until, um, now.

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Life’s been good

In which the timelines of Twilight Sparkle and Joe Walsh somehow are made to intersect. Admittedly, neither of them drive, but that’s not the important thing.

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RD TXT

A chap named Rarimi conjured this up during the summer, and I’ve been chortling at it ever since:

Rainbow Dash sends a text message to Twilight Sparkle

(Complete thread, with lots of this, here.)

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Knock sensor

Joe Sherlock didn’t quite hear that song correctly:

Recently, I was losing myself in the sublayers of a Google search, when I came across the lyrics to “Let ‘Em In,” one of those trite but can’t-get-it-outta-your-head ditties from the mid-1970s. By Wings. You know the one. With the McCartneys warbling, “Someone’s knockin’ at the door …” I always thought it was some kind of bizarre religious/political statement:

“Sister Suzie, Brother John,
Martin Luther, Falun Gong …”

Well, Google informed me that there is no reference to the China-outlawed spiritual group, Falun Gong. The correct phrase is “Phil and Don” — a nod to the Everly Brothers, who were an inspiration to Paul in his early years.

So, to Phil and Don Everly, my sincere regrets.

Mr Sherlock should not feel bad. Some of us are starting to hear pony names in that same song.

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Three

If the pony content seems even higher than usual, there’s a reason for it: it was three years ago today that My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic was unleashed upon us unsuspecting humans, and while I admit to not having noticed it until nearly the beginning of Season Two — well, you know what they say about the ardor of converts.

This song closed out Season Two, and more than once I’ve called upon it to dispel the blues. It’s not the actual last scene, but a video compilation of various scenes in that episode. And if two pony fans meet, perhaps through a dating service, and fall in love, you can be absolutely certain this song will be played at their wedding. So let’s get this party started:

May we all live happily ever after.

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I don’t know, I’ve never furfled

There is now, for some inscrutable reason, an online-dating site for pony fans:

BronyMate is a dating site and social network for the Brony community who are fans of the cartoon show My Little Pony (MLP).

Now the last time anypony collected statistics on the matter, the fandom was about 80 percent male and 75 percent unattached — and about 25 percent INTJ. To me, this looks like a catastrophe waiting to happen. (Then again, almost anything involving dating looks to me like a catastrophe waiting to happen.)

Interestingly, at least to me, their blog link, for the moment, redirects to the blog of FurFling, an existing dating site for furries. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I probably should have looked over their questionnaire, just to see if they asked “Do you even yiff?”

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Never saw her as a college-mare type

This turned up, uncredited for some reason — listed source is a Dropbox account — at Derpibooru:

Rainbow Dash's GED

“Jennifer”?

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