Monday, November 28, 2011

My Little Monday: The Mysterious Mare Do Well

This week was another Rainbow Dash heavy episode.  Over all, I was not too impressed.  The outcome felt a little more predictable than usual, for one.  To be fair, it is a show meant for kids and I don't think any other ending would be suitable.  I think the main problem for me is that I'm not the biggest Rainbow Dash fan, which puts me at a bit of a disadvantage watching.  Despite my lack of excitement I did find some positive things about The Mysterious Mare Do Well (got to love the pun).  The show took a good look at Dash's biggest flaws, arrogance and pride.



The episode opens with a meeting of the Rainbow Dash fan club.  I found this scene to be my favorite because Bronies have been making fan art and fic like this for a while.  (Some of it getting pretty creepy.)  Unknown by her adoring public, Rainbow is right outside listening in.  It is a short, but cute, lead in to give the heads up on the focus for the episode.  I was really hoping they were going to tackle Scootaloo's obsession.



The basics of the episode, for those who missed it, are that Rainbow Dash saves a couple ponies from various disasters.  She becomes addicted to the attention and praise these acts bring her.  So much so that she adopts a catch phrase and hires Spike to write a book about how awesome she is.  She get so out of control that she can't handle when Mare Do Well detracts from her spotlight.  At first she tries to compete with the new hero.  When that fails, Rainbow Dash quickly escalates.  I was waiting for Dash to just lose it and become a villain.  Alternately she goes overboard in trying to save Ponyville, and her efforts almost cause her death.  That is when the Mysterious Mare Do Well steps in to save her.
 

Rainbow Dash is so prideful that she can't even thank the masked pony for saving her.  It is almost painful to watch Dash slowly alienate herself with the obsessive crazy she spews while trying to regain the spotlight.  Once even her loyal shadow has *turned against her*, Rainbow decides enough is enough.  She attends a big Thank You Mare Do Well party with the hopes of unmasking her rival.  Again, I am rather surprised she never turned to the dark side.



As I mentioned earlier, the outcome was predictable.  Mare Do Well was actually all of her friends, minus Rarity who made the costumes.  What really struck me was Dashie's first response to the news.  She simply could not fathom why her friends would not want all of Equestria to think she is an awesome hero.  Applejack and Twilight Sparkles have to break down that Rainbow's actions weren't very becoming of a hero.  Of course, Rainbow Dash sees the errors of her ways and everyone lives happily ever after until the next episode.  In the end it was a great way to teach kids about modesty, humility, and that the most important part of being a hero is not the praise.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Fall Foliage


I have lived a few different places over the years, and traveled a bit too.  I have come to the conclusion that Virginia has the prettiest autumn leaves I have seen so far.  Growing up in northern Florida, fall was pretty short and unexciting.  Summer lasted well into October, and then the leaves really didn't go through much of a color transformation.  It was almost straight to brown and crinkly, then bare.  Seattle had a beautiful autumn.  Mostly because of how the purple trees blatantly stood out from the reds, yellows, and oranges.  Though, winter was when Seattle looked its best.  I used to love my bus rides to work on a clear day with the mountains on the horizon.  I miss those mountains.  Virginia has a lot more red in the trees during autumn compared to Seattle.  It is a very vibrant and bold red, whether is is the leaves or berries.    The hubby (Mike Awesome) and I took a day trip to Richmond a few weeks ago, and the poor thing had to listen to me blather on about the gorgeous foliage for most of the drive.  I couldn't help it, the scenery was just breath taking.  Unfortunately, most the trees are now bare due to recent rain storms.  But fear not!  I was able to get some pictures last week to share with everyone.










Monday, November 21, 2011

My Little Monday: May the Best Pet Win

I'm an abomination!  Yay!

The new episode of My Little Pony was timed perfectly before Black Friday.  I'm not being synicle.  We all know Hasbro is a toy company first.  And you know what?  I give them props for  putting out an episode that features everypony's pet, it is marketing genius.  With that out of the way, lets discuss how Rainbow Dash became a little less evil.

I will eat your soul, Rainbow Dash.
 I know Rainbow Dash isn't really evil, but often she and Rarity are portrayed as having the most flaws.  In May the Best Pet Win, Dashie realizes she is the only one of her friends who doesn't have a pet.  Normally this wouldn't be a big deal, but her lacking a companion has  caused her to miss out on a weekly outing with her friends.  Pinkie Pie unknowingly throws salt on the wound by mentioning that they had thought about telling Dash and inviting her anyway.  Then they all decided she would probably just decline, so there was no point in even bringing it up.  I find the other five's actions miss the spirit of friendship.  Just because you think a friend will decline an invite is no reason to not send the invitation. 


Trying to grasp being left out of the loop, Rainbow Dash explains that not currently having a pet doesn't mean she would never want one.  This, of course, sends Fluttershy into animal overload.  She promptly whisks Dash to her home so Dash can pick out a pet.  There is a cute duet between Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash about picking out a pet, that leaves Dashie a bit overwhelmed by the end.  Rainbow Dash decides to hold a contest between her top choices to see who gets the honor of being her pet.  This is where some of her flaws, like over competitiveness and a bit of selfishness, start to show.  The stunts she puts the poor animals through coupled with her harsh criticism during the competition seem cruel and degrading.  There is a point where Twilight Sparkles and Applejack agree that Dash seems to be missing the point of having a pet.  Unfortunately, no one says anything to Rainbow Dash.  I thought or sure that Fluttershy would step in and defend the critters, but no.  Fluttershy's only insistence is that the tortoise be allowed to compete.

Everypony with their pet. . . and Spike.
 While I am sure all the little girls watching had no idea that the tortoise would be Rainbow Dash's new pet.  I, on the other hand, had it figured out pretty early on.  I'm sure most of you Bronies out there knew, too.  To be honest, I was kind of cheering for the bat.  His sonar ability was awesome and he can fly on his own.  At least Tank the tortoise is as loyal as Rainbow Dash, and they makes them a great fit.  Plus, he did save her life.  She owes him.

Ain't I a stinker?
 What do you think about Rainbow Dash's new pet, Tank the tortoise?  Do you think she should have chosen a different pet?


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Passing Over Thanksgiving

It seems like the winter holiday season starts earlier and earlier every year.  While a few shopping centers had holiday decorations up before Halloween, this week seems to be when all the others are falling in line.  Worse, two radio stations in my area are now playing Christmas music 24/7.  Please don't misunderstand me, I love Christmas.  I love everything about the holiday season, except when people and businesses skip a holiday or two.  I don't mind people who want to get some of their shopping done early, but that isn't the same thing as putting out your tree and lights before October 31st.  I think what bothers me the most is that unlike me, not everyone celebrates Christmas.  To a slightly lesser extent, not everyone celebrates Chanukah.  You know what holiday most Americans do celebrate?  Thanksgiving.  Yet it seems to get passed over more and more for the winter holidays.

I know when it comes to the actual day of Thanksgiving that the country as a whole still has plans and traditions to honor the occasion.  The thing is, someone from the outside looking in would have no idea the weeks before unless they stepped inside a grocery store.  Meanwhile, Christmas and the winter holiday season is being shoved down ours throats as soon as businesses can.  I get it, Thanksgiving isn't a big commercialized holiday.  Christmas, on the other hand, is the time of year where many businesses make a lot of their money.  But maybe it is a good thing Thanksgiving hasn't been over commercialized.  This is a great holiday that focuses on family, friends, and the intimacy (or lack their of depending on your circle) of the gathering.  This particular holiday is even the reason for the nation's most famous annual parade.  What I like most about the holiday is the togetherness and gratefulness it asks of us.  Of all the holidays to just sweep under the rug, Thanksgiving is definitely not one of them.

Bringing out the Christmas decorations early doesn't just upset me because of Thanksgiving.  It is also a bit overwhelming and insincere.  Part of what makes Christmas so wonderful, to me, is the novelty of it.  I am one of those who goes all out when I can to celebrate Christmas.  I like to bake, put out decorations, and play Christmas music constantly.  Side note, I have over 400 songs on my Christmas playlist.  When in Seattle, my now husband and I could never afford to make it home for Christmas.  We decided each year to host a big feast at our place, instead, for those who also could not be with (or just needed a break from) family.  Having everything Christmas pushed in my face so early gets me tired of it before December has even arrived.  This is not a holiday I like having ruined. 

Despite the timeline of the shopping season, I try my best to keep my holidays in order.  October is Halloween, plain and simple.  Then in November I enjoy all the warmth of autumn's colors and treats as I prepare for Thanksgiving.  For me, the Christmas/winter holiday season doesn't start until the day after Thanksgiving.  Some items even wait until December.  For those out there who skip Thanksgiving, think about what the holiday stands for and why you would pass it over.  I know not everyone is close with family, but friends are like family for many.  And I am sure we all have at least one thing in our lives to be thankful for. 

What do you think about shopping centers that already have their holiday decorations up?  Is it too early?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Everybody Do the Twister Mania!


Twister Mania is a new Kinect game that is surprisingly fun.  I know you are probably wondering how a game like Twister could possibly translate properly to a video game.  Well, they took an interesting approach not making it the board game, but something new.  While a risky move to put the Twister name on it, I think they were successful in incorporating enough elements of the classic game so it didn't feel forced.

There are three play mode: Party Play, Play It All, and Free PlayParty Play is the only option that you cannot play solo, but I honestly wouldn't play this game alone anyways.  In this mode you can compete between 4 players Head-to-Head or up to 4 Teams of two (8 players).  Each person/team is represented by one of the colored Twister dots, which is a nice tie in.  After you choose your skill level and round duration, you get to pose for the camera.  I was Player Red, so I had my lovely picture plastered on the red dot.  Then you spin the Twister wheel and depending on where it lands, color and wheel section, and mini game is chosen.  All of the challenges I had to pleasure of playing were simple and fun.  Most involved contorting you body into various shapes for a variety of reasons, but one game was more about dodging obstacles.  After each challenge you get a number of points based on your score that move you down the Twister Board.  The first one to the finish wins, of course.  My only complaint is that some of the games have bonuses and helps that aren't really explained.  For example, always try and get the stars.

Play It All can be Co-Op or Solo.  In this mode you play through full game to unlock more challenges.  Free Play has the most options, as it is Solo, Co-op, Head-to-Head, or Team play.  This mode is pretty much exactly as it sounds.  Personally, I think Play It All and Party Play are definitely the better modes for gatherings.  They have more of a goal to them so you would not lose focus. 

I know this is a pretty short write up, but this game doesn't really need a lot of posturing.  The simplicity and ease of the mini games are what make Twister Mania so amazing.  What really gives it that extra push it that this is a game that really is only possible with the Kinect.  The mechanics of it would translate horribly to the Nintendo Wii or PlayStation Move.  Twister Mania is what the party game the Kinect has been waiting for.  Honestly, this is one of the best party games I have played in a while.  I would even go as far as to say it rivals Kinect Sports for my affections as best Kinect game.

Monday, November 14, 2011

My Little Monday: The Cutie Pox

This week Friendship is Magic focused less on the magic of friendship and more on other basic values.  I know some fans were upset with The Cutie Pox for a few reasons.  The first of which would be the focus on the Cutie Mark Crusaders.  I don't plan to address this past the fact that we all have ponies we don't care for.  I personally love Applebloom and the other Crusaders, so I was not bothered.  The next point of contention is that Apple Bloom's lesson wasn't about friendship, but more of a general morality lesson.  The third is that Apple Bloom wrote the letter to Princess Celestia.

Times are tough on Apple Bloom.
 I would like to discuss Apple Bloom's lesson first.  The little filly wanted her cutie mark so bad that she stole items from Zecora to make a potion.  She then lies to the entire town about her new cutie mark(s).  For those who missed it on Saturday, the potion Apple Bloom concocted ended up giving her Cutie Pox.  Up until this point no pony knew the cause or cure of the disease, so when it is discovered that Apple Bloom is afflicted all of Ponyville goes into a panic.  Zecora is able to cure Apple Bloom, but only after the confesses what she has done.  I agree to a point that it is a little new for the show to focus on a lesson that isn't directly related to the "friendship is magic" theme, but there was still a lesson in the show.  There were several lessons when you stop and think about it.  (1)Don't lie.  (2)Don't steal.  (3)Don't do drugs.  (4)Patience is important.  These four lessons in morality all have an effect on friendships. 




















I know that in Lesson Zero it seemed like Celestia gave the writing assignment just to the mane six, but I can understand why Twilight Sparkles asked Apple Bloom to write the letter.  Like when Twilight had her breakdown, Apple Bloom's actions had consequences that involved the entire town.  By writing the Princess preemptively and explaining her actions, why she was sorry, and what she had learned, Apple Bloom was given the chance to make amends before punishment was even discussed.  Also, it shows Twilight Sparkles is branching out her social circle.  When a friend's family is in need, then that friend is in need. 

In the end, I really enjoyed this episode.  It was the fun little "slice of life" that I love about My Little Pony.  It was also nice to see Zecora make another appearance.  I know there will always be someone who find something wrong with every episode.  Heck, sometimes that someone is me.  The important thing to remember is that this is a children's show.  As long as it remains educational, well thought out, and entertaining then I cannot complain too much.

Did you watch The Cutie Pox?  What did you like or dislike about the episode?


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Pie and Cookies!

In my recent endeavors into more involved baking, I decided to make a pumpkin pie.  As it turns out, pumpkin pies are not horribly complicated when you use canned pumpkin.  I got the inspiration when I started buying canned pumpkin to add to Tokidoki's diet.  (Turns out pumpkin is amazing for dogs.)  I noticed Libby's brand canned pumpkin has a rather easy looking recipe.  Now the recipe suggested using a 9 inch, deep dish, unbaked pie shell.  I did not.  I used a graham cracker pie shell, which I thought worked great.  The downside to the pie shell now being deep dish is I had extra filling.  It wasn't a big deal, though.  I poured the extra batter into cupcake wraps and was able to do this:




Libby's Pumpkin Pie Recipe:

Directions

  • MIX sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger and cloves in small bowl. Beat eggs in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk.
     
  • POUR into pie shell.
     
  • BAKE in preheated 425° F oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350° F; bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate. Top with whipped cream before serving. 



I also found a great recipe on the back of the Betty Crocker Snickerdoodles package for Cranberry Cream Cheese Snickerdoodles.
  • 1 pouch Betty Crocker® snickerdoodle cookie mix
  • 4 oz (half of 8-oz package) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup butter, margarine or spread, softened (I used applesauce instead, because it is healthier for you.)
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup sweetened dried cranberries
  • Directions:
     
    • MIX cream cheese and butter in bowl untl smooth. Open cookie mix; remove cinnamon sugar packet; set aside. Add water, egg and cookie mix to cream cheese mixture until soft dough forms. Stir in cranberries. Cover; refrigerate 30 minutes.
    •  DROP dough by rounded teaspoonfuls into bowl with cinnamon sugar packet; roll to coat. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets

    • BAKE at 375°F for 8 to 9 minutes or until edges are set. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets to cooling rack. Cool completely.

    I made my cookies a little bigger than teaspoonful drops, so it took an extra 5 minutes to cook.  The end product was amazing.  If you like simple baking projects, then this recipe is perfect and delicious.



    Do you have any recipes you enjoy around the holidays?

    Monday, November 7, 2011

    My Little Monday: Sisterhooves Social


    This season of Friendship is Magic seems to be about flushing out the characters.  This week we learned more about Rarity and Sweetie Belle.  Not only do we now know for certain that they are sisters, and not possibly mother/daughter, but we also know more about their family dynamics in general.  I am rather amused at just how tacky Rarity's parents are. 

    This episode hit close to home for me, because I am the oldest of four.  Having little brothers and sisters running around can definitely try one's patience.  In fact, my little sister and I really didn't get along at all until we became adults.  I felt Rarity's pain every time Sweetie Belle destroyed something.  Having a little sister that touches everything can be maddening.  But let me get back to the ponies. 

    Rarity's parents decide to go on vacation for a week, and leave Sweetie Belle in her big sister's care.  From the beginning you can see the horror on Rarity's face.  I have to side with Rarity on this.  She is an adult who is running her own business.  She may not have time to drop everything just so her parents can vacation sans the filly, even with advance notice.  The opening scene also doesn't bode well, mostly in how it displays her parents lack of parenting skills.  If I had woken up to burnt food and my kitchen destroyed because my parents let my little sister try and cook breakfast (which she was obviously unable to do), then I would have kicked everyone out immediately.  I honestly don't know what is worse- the mess Sweetie Belle made while under the supervision or her parents or the fact that they saw absolutely nothing wrong with what was going on.



    Of course, the visit only goes downhill from there.  Sweetie Belle goes around trying to "help" her big sister around the house, only to make a mess of things.  At no point does it occur to her that when a guest in someone's home she shouldn't just touch things without asking.  Things finally build up into a big blowout when Rarity can no longer keep a level head about the situation.Of course Sweetie Belle still has no idea why her sister is so evil to her when she only wishes to help and have fun.  Maybe the fact that you are a walking disaster has something to do with it, Sweetie Belle.

    After the fight, Sweetie Belle runs to Applebloom and Applejack for support.  During her time spent with the Apple sisters, Sweetie Belle comes to realize just how messed up her relationship with her own sister is.  While alone, Rarity also has time to reflect upon their fight.  The older sister comes to terms with the fact that while Sweetie Belle really needs to learn boundaries, her heart was in the right place.  Unfortunately, when Rarity goes to apologize to her baby sister, Sweetie Belle completely rejects her. 



    By the end of the episode there is a happy ending, of course.  Applejack and Applebloom conspire with Rarity to help prove Rarity's love for her sister.  What really bothers me, though, is that Sweetie Belle never learned her lesson.  I am sorry, but sometimes having your heart in the right place isn't good enough.  Compromise involves actual compromise.  For example, if Sweetie Belle wants Rarity to play with her then she needs to wait patiently for Rarity to be done with her work.  That involves no touching things that don't belong to her.  Then she can expect Rarity to make time for her.  

    What did you think about Sisterhooves Social and the relationship between Rarity and Sweetie Belle?

    Wednesday, November 2, 2011

    Clopjobs?






















    The original title involved the word/phrase "clopjob".  I just want to start off by saying that while I cannot speak for the other girls, I thought clopjob is kinda funny.  I don't mind being on a Memebase.com offshoot.  If you read my Tumblr at all, then you know I would love a Pinkie Pie meme using one of the pics.  :-)

    This is more about the comments on the site.  I don't know if anyone realizes this, but all six of us use the internet quite a bit.  You say something and at least one of us will more than likely see it.  I'm not talking about the you are ugly ones or the I can do it better ones.  (I'm also not talking about the Pinkie Pie wig ones.  I am actually buying a wig this Friday for next year's pony group.  A nice person on /r/mylittlepony helped me find what I hope the be a great wig shop.)  That is the internet.  I expect that.  But I experienced something far different.  Allow me to share what a user called Arkalidor had to say:
    "The costumes are great, but mind if I actually go and judge these girls’ physic (comparing to the ponies).
    AJ and Rarity are just perfect (wouldn’t have imagined Rarity with such diamonds but it actually fits pretty well)
    Fluttershy is nearly perfect but I don’t like her bony cheeks. Then again I guess the extremely slim figure goes with the fragile aspect of the character.
    Are those Asian eyes on Twilight? I hate the idea that, since Twi is hard-working and a bookworm, her human version has to be asian. Goddamn stereotypes. Apart from that she’s great.
    Dash and Pinkie aren’t really visible enough to say anything. Except maybe Dash and Flutteshy could have exchanged roles. I think Dash should be the most slender one in the group because, yeah she’s athletic, but she’s cut-out for speed, aerodynamism and all."

    1. No, Tori isn't Asian.  And what if she was?  Sorry out there to any Asian girls who want to cosplay as Twilight Sparkles, but it is an offensive stereotype if you do according to Arkalidor.
    2. You can't control your cheek bones.  That is just rude and mean.
    3. The girl is the Dash costume, Brennan, is in great shape.  Also, being the most slender doesn't mean you are the most tone.  I think the most athletic one in the group is McKayla, who was Applejack.

    There are some other odds ones, if you want to check it out for yourself.  I just find it frustrating that for a show to be about love and tolerance to have such mean fans.  I find it worse when they don't even see anything wrong with what they are saying.  Just please remember when you leave a comment about  these pictures, or any cosplay pictures by anyone, there is a chance they are going to see it.  Speak as you would to their faces.  Thank you.

    Tuesday, November 1, 2011

    What do you think about this? D you think gaming companies should try harder to attract more female players? http://news.mmosite.com/content/2011-11-01/the_female_player_base_more_and_more_valued_1.shtml

    I think it is a start. It is nice that female gamers are becoming more recognized as an important consumer in the game market. At the same time, I think companies need to become aware of just what type of girl plays each genre and what that type is looking for. Some girls don't see gender as a factor at all when playing, and other feel it defines them. I know some female gamers feel ignored because of the over sexualized characters in the games they play. Hopefully game companies will continue to move forward in the right direction.

    Ask me anything about anything and I will do my best to answer honestly.