I am noticing this more frequently in recent episodes: Vocals are being distributed on the stereo channels depending on where a speaker is in relation to the camera.
This can add acoustic information and some pseudo-realism (if not overdone, which happens when factors like sound reflection on walls are disregarded), but it is a tricky thing to use, because it is very easy to break immersion with it, and this happens especially when a speaker's position changes not by moving, but due to a changing camera position. Because then the watcher becomes aware of a 'camera man' teleporting around in the scene.
I think this is especially noticeable in MLP because lately they're overdoing the stereo separation with lateral voices.
I don't know why people who get paid for this stuff ("professionals") don't notice those subtle but crucial details, but I guess treating this area as an art form might be more than what is the norm in the business.
This isn't a rant. It's just that I keep noticing various things that disturb immersion and would love to contribute my expertise, but unfortunately things aren't that easy.
Trading card games, like the one in Steam, are social training and highly symbolic on a spiritual and philosophical level.
A trading card game is like a metaphor for life:
Due to statistical chance, it is highly unlikely that any of us is given a full set of cards.
We have cards of many sets.
Fulfillment comes from succeeding at achieving the goal of the game.
So in order to succeed, we need to complete at least some of our sets.
Completing a set is impossible without other people's cards.
The world is full of people who are too much in the grip of an irrational fear that they could lose something (even if they're not aware of this root cause for their decisions) and thus do not contribute to the success of the playerbase as a whole. This, at best, causes success to merely be redistributed, but more likely for the afraid to not succeed either.
This leads to less cards in the game, lower chances of finding cards to complete sets. Everybody loses. ... Even those who try to steal cards from others, since they will eventually, after they cannot fool themselves anymore, experience the profound feeling of emptiness that comes from confusing means and ends of the game. And those who encounter enough of this type might themselves eventually become what they resent, and generalize so much that they become deaf to the solution knocking on the door.
Along these lines, my recent experiences with the Steam trading card game as well as many earlier experiences with people in general made me formulate this:
You do not use friendship to play a game.
You play a game to live friendship.
Someone pointed out a snippet of Pinkie Apple Pie to me, and I realize it's worth commenting:
In case you were wondering, this is about the "leap of faith" theme.
And it's often used in a popculture-like way, claiming that if you overcome your fear of the leap, you will not fall; fear preventing you from succeeding.
But here's the thing: It also prevents you from failing.
Encouraging people like that can actually (if not succeed by pure chance) backfire. For success to ensue, optimism needs to be paired with skillfulness. And even skillfulness can be of little use if luck is bad.
To me, based on my life experiences and observations of other people's walks of life, the more reality-based version of leap-of-faith is that in order to not be afraid of making that leap, one has to be ready to fail (and continue nevertheless). Only then can one continue to try and fail until success is achieved. And if there's even the slightest remnant of expectation that following exactly that philosophy will yield success, you better grab a cushion. Also, success doesn't have to last/repeat, so you better have no expectations at all, which is probably easiest when doing what you love.
Don't think "If I overcome the fear, I will succeed!", because then you might make a very painful experience.
Be ready to fail and continue. If it's the right thing to do for you, then sooner or later you have to do it anyway. Doing what you love makes this easiest, but it still might not feel easy at all.
That being said ... If there's time for a parachute to open,...
...it really IS deep!
Weird analogy that came to my mind in connection to MLP:
Angels have wings and devils have horns.
Nah, I'm sure it's coincidental, but an interesting coincidence nonetheless.
Let's continue this line of thought just for FUN:
heavenly: loyalty, pushing personal limits, trying to be your best, inspiring people | loving kindness, compassion
earthly: hard work, honesty, family | having a joyful time, cheering people up, faith
evil: magic, rational thought, science | worship of fancy stuff, fame and superficiality
Just some thoughts I had about the episode.
When Rarity and AJ were at the peak of their heated competition, I was delighted: It's the old Rarity+Applejack polarity tension again! I remember it fondly from "Look Before You Sleep". Very entertaining. (And not the only other case of that clean-vs-dirty issue ... remember Sisterhooves Social?)
There are so many polar pairings just among the mane 6. Smart of Lauren Faust. Makes for a huge amount of character-driven story telling.
Too bad Spike's crush on Rarity made him unable to stand up to her, otherwise he would have been the perfect role model to show Rarity how to deal with it, how to get over the fact that the crush isn't mutual.
Their whole interaction is probably a mix of Rarity exploiting his crush and allowing him the pleasure, to keep it on a low flame, by helping her out and being around her.
Really impressive and playful approach in this episode: A voice actor with no 'Southern' accent emulating someone with a Southern accent who's trying to sound like someone without that accent.
When I first heard Trenderhoof, the voice reminded me a lot of Will Smith's German voice actor. Now you know how Will Smith sounds in German movies.
Alright, enough military talk. ^^
Some brief thoughts on various scenes from episode 11. I'd love to make these things into full Youtube commentary videos, but that's not really feasible at the moment. :-/
So let's get right to it...
When Twiley talked about the Starswirl exhibition and Dashie expressed how lame she thought that is, I found that a bit rude. After all, nopony asked her to attend, so why the complaining?
When Cadance left the train and was teasing Twiley with being overly formal and then said it's not necessary, I was almost expecting Twiley to start the "sunshine sunshine" dance. Maybe Cadance then would probably have told her it's not formal enough, haha. Especially as long as the guards were still standing there.
The part where Discord sings is amazing! Apart from all the stuff contained in the many brief scenes, the whole musical-thingie with the focus on that tiny glass of water reminded me of something. That whole style. I don't know what, but it feels like this was inspired by a certain piece.
And yeah, the scenes. There was a crystal-clear Harry Potter scene in it, there was the always-fun messing with the pony models (picking Twiley's horn and making a flower bouquet out of it and the totally hilarious mane-swap that just has to earn Discord so much sympathy), there was a reference to Swiss herbal cough drops, there was a possible break with canon by showing an airport security scene (where a pony with a dental brace was hesitant to walk through the metal detector), a skiing goat, a squeaky-squeezy Twilight Sparkle doll, an awesome picture with the princesses and Discord holding the tiny glass that looks like inspired by a Star Wars poster or a heavy metal album cover, AND THEN ... it would really surprise me if that awesome and beautiful golden pony harp didn't become twicane's best friend, haha. We even know her mane ... I mean name, because Discord sang "a singing harp that's named Louise". So we have that twicane-like character, a name and we know she can sing, so she can talk. Yep, this is definitely becoming twicane 2.0. ^^
After that musical number follows something that if you think about it, is a semi-roleplaying adventure. (Discord playing the role and the others having an exciting adventure.)
Near the end, when Discord seems kinda dissatisfied and grumpy... I'm not sure whether this isn't just part of his act. I'm suspecting he, just like Pinkie Pie sometimes, just enjoys playing a role, like life is a theater play.
When he's sick again, it is difficult to tell whether it's real this time, but when he enjoys asking for a glass of water again and is generally using the exact same words he used on Twiley and Cadance, I'm very sure he has no intention to pull the same number again. No, Fluttershy is back and he enjoys making the exact same request again, but this time with Fluttershy showing what a good friend is like, and rubbing that contrast into their faces.
When Twiley concluded that with a good friend, even a day full of chaos can become a pleasant experience, I'm wondering whether she included Discord in that definition, hehe.
Oh and I should roll my eyes, shake my head and sigh at this point, followed with a giggle, because they again snuck a Wilhelm scream into this episode. This time it was somewhat conceiled within a sound, but if you pay attention to the moment where the 'flower snake' retreated into the hole, you can hear it clearly at the end of the sound it made there.
UPDATE 2014-01-29: Did some additions and restructuring.
I like season 4's episode 11 "Three's A Crowd" a lot because of the valuable lessons contained within that are touching on my own life experience ... especially one unlearned (!) lesson that might be too in-your-face (or inconvenient) for people to notice.
To begin with, this episode toys with a common tool in script writing, where subplots are wrapped up and vanish and we never hear of it again. I'm sure many people were wondering: "So now Discord is reformed? Where is he? Doesn't he still need the friendship that caused him to reform?"
And the episode treats this as if it happened exactly like that. The mane cast (excluding Fluttershy) really couldn't care less about what Discord is doing, as long as he leaves them alone.
This is a situation very close to reality and makes this like an episode inside of an episode. It is disappointing, because one would think that Fluttershy's amazing strength and skill in winning Discord as a friend would surely inspire her friends to try that approach, too, among other things to practice forgiveness. But instead, they don't care. Out of sight, out of mind. They still want to cling to the past, despite Discord's actions from back then having been relatively harmless.
Not only is this an unwise and somewhat shameful behavior towards Discord, but it is borderline disrespectful towards Fluttershy. Despite her amazing accomplishment that none of the other ponies would have deemed possible, they still don't give her credit for what she did. She basically singlehoofedly freed Equestria from a villain, and she didn't even get a lousy t-shirt.
And Discord (hopefully, finally) taught them a valuable lesson, making him a real - but sadly unappreciated - friend to the mane 6. The kind of friend that is not just pampering you with rainbows and unicorns, but the kind of friend who's got your back and calls you out on your bullshit and pokes you when you're losing 'the path'.
A while ago Fluttershy taught Discord a lesson about friendship, and he is a good student. He understood the lesson, while Fluttershy's close friends are still struggling. Such a good student in fact that he is now helping the other ponies learn lessons about friendship. This makes those ponies look quite bad, and it should. You gotta handle the cognitive dissonance and see in what way Discord is/was a better person than those ponies. Those who miss(ed) something the most will also have the greatest appreciation for it.
Life lessons can come from where you least expect them. But if your whole perception of reality is slanted towards your expectations, you might miss the most valuable ones.
Some moments in the episode that stood out for me:
1) When Discord showed Twiley the letter he got from Fluttershy and stated that he never hears from the other ponies, Twiley responds by saying that she doesn't even know where he lives. He abruptly silences her, and one can see various meaning/intentions in this, or no deep reason at all, but at that moment I was thinking: "Yes, Twiley, what does that tell us about you? Why DON'T you know where he lives? Of course he could have relayed the information to you directly, Princess :-P, but he did to Fluttershy! Did YOU ever bother to inquire about his whereabouts? Ask Fluttershy maybe? No."
Pinkie Pie spelled out what the others thought, too: They were truly surprised that Fluttershy and Discord are pen pals. They still cannot comprehend the level of sincerity in Fluttershy's friendship.
2) When Twiley eventually got angry that Discord was just faking, this is an interesting moment, because he didn't try to conceil it, and his ways are no secret. She really should have known that he is faking, but doing it for a good reason. Of course faking the need for help is not as motivating as a real need, but hey, from a certain standpoint there was a real need. He was merely playing the nemesis. He took a route of action that in a different light could be interpreted as a mildly desperate act.
Also, Discord was toying with her real motivations; those that made her ignore the obvious fact that Discord was faking: Apart from wanting to quickly get back to her relaxing time with Cadance, she wanted to preserve the image she has of herself. We all know how Discord is, so rejecting him shouldn't have been received badly by the other ponies... except Fluttershy! ... at least that's what Twilight thought, because she had a guilty conscience. It is like one of those situations where two people are lying to each other and both know it but don't say anything for mutual face-saving. (Discord's unspoken words here: "You know I'm just faking and I know you just want me gone. But I don't kid myself about my real motivations.") When in the end Discord made her compliments about how she indeed is the true friend he doubted she'd been, that compliment was as fake as Discord's illness. A true friend to him, like Fluttershy, would have had the confidence based on that authenticity to tell him he should stop faking ... but of course, Discord wouldn't have played that game with Fluttershy in the first place, since he knows she is a true friend to him. There is no lesson for reformed Discord to teach. And he also values their true friendship too much to risk ruining it by being dishonorable of what Fluttershy did for him. When Fluttershy caused Discord's reformation, she didn't do it for mere personal gain, but out of real compassion for the pain that made Discord become sorta nasty. He probably only was like that because personal experience made him believe that people like Fluttershy don't exist in the world, or at least that those acts of compassion are not available to him.
3) When Rarity and Applejack stated that Discord got what he deserved, I thought: Indeed, he got at least one true friend (the first he ever had), and while they were referring to his illness that apparently was real this time, he actually got another confirmation of Fluttershy's sincere caring for him. And he used the same wording towards her that he used earlier when he was faking it just to rub it in the other ponies' faces. Or did you really think when he asked for a glass of water again that he had any intention to toy with Fluttershy like he had done with Twilight and Cadance? If so, then think again!
In contrast, the official lesson learned at the end of this episode was pretty much a copy of what had already been conveyed in the season 1 finale "The Best Night Ever" and degraded Discord to a mere catalyst for it.
Now you see how much can be learned from the show if you look closely and accept inconvenient thoughts, too. And it should also make clear why the show means so much to me. Often it's like what I've been thinking/feeling/saying all along, and the show is like a rare incident of hearing a familiar voice - a likeminded entity - all the way to the core. And the contrast between this and what I mostly experience in the real world can be very painful and disheartening.
P.S.: I wanted to add that Pinkie Pie was the least disrespectful to Discord, so when I'm talking about the ponies, I'm not only fully excluding Fluttershy, but also to some degree Pinkie Pie. ... After all, she shares a certain passion with Discord, hehe. ... And she also left the stage quite early. But while she, too, didn't care what Discord was doing, when he was there, she was trying to make the best of the situation. And he rejected her hospitality because he knew that the other ponies had a much bigger need for working though their issue with him. And Pinkie Pie even objected to not being allowed to help him, haha. In a way, she turned it around and toyed with him in his own unique style. This deserves a "Well played, Pinkie Pie!". But here, too, it is not just a little fun, but a display of the wise approach of solving a problem by focusing on the solution instead of the problem, or to realize the core motivation behind behavior. It's really deep stuff.
Derpy: "I have good news and I have bad news..."
Twiley: "Tell me the bad news first."
Derpy: "Oh... well, OK.
I ate them."
Twiley: "Huh? Ate what?"
Derpy: "The muffins."
Twiley: "What muffins?"
Derpy: "The... the ones I made you."
Twiley: "Oh! ... Well, it's alright. The gesture is what counts. ... Of making them, not eating them of course.
So what's the good news?"
Derpy: "I made you some muffins!! :-D"
inspired by: http://dm29.deviantart.com/art/I-Made-You-Some-Muffins-But-I-Ate-It-All-330950147
2013 was the year of the water snake, and as far as I understand, that symbolizes Heaven (yin water) trying to control Earth (yin fire).
You know what 2014's Earth energy is? ... yang fire ... HORSE!!!
And Heaven is ... yang wood! AWWWWW YEAH!
I just had an epiphany. Finally I am able to put this into words.
Things happen for a reason, people are influenced greatly by their surroundings. A chain of events caused Luna to become Nightmare Moon, and the forces of love and empathy weren't powerful enough back then to stop it from happening, and neither could it be defused.
During "Luna Eclipsed", you could notice from her manners that things were different back then.
A thousand years later she returned, and her return coincided with a most fortunate chain of events that put the Elements of Harmony to a very different use ... actual harmony. Oh my, Celestia might have put discrace on those magical sacraments in the past, by creating a great and painful division. This becomes clear when you consider that Luna didn't return as Luna, but as the same she was when she was banished.
So it was actually Equestria that had to change, that needed a thousand years to grow into a state of being able to mend that old wound. Luna had the role of the somewhat involuntary teacher (basically a nemesis), and Celestia seems at least to some degree unaware of how she should have shown more humility upon their re-uniting. That fateful act of banishing her beloved sister surely influenced her rule deeply in the following millennium, allowing her to turn Equestria into a place where love and compassion has grown strong enough to be able to right the shortcomings of the past.
Luna's strong yin energy facilitated this passive approach. We can fight certain difficulties, but at some point, everypony is at their limit, and when Luna reached that limit, she allowed herself to succumb to weakness, staying true to herself by making a great but necessary sacrifice in order to teach a world the hard way; a world where there was no feasible alternative for its betterment.
You know that wherever the sun shines, the night retreats effortlessly ... and it has to. This so easily invites exploitation.
You think Nightmare Moon was the aggressive, offensive pole in this conflict? Wasn't she to some degree a mere reflection of Celestia's approach of that nature? Her active, burning sun within - attacking problems upfront? Might she have neglected to offer Luna the space she needed for fulfillment? Did she become too full of herself without noticing and thus influenced pony society towards neglecting the night? ... Life tends to show you on the outside what is deep within yourself that you don't want to see.
Nightmare Moon was a corruption; the result of imposing the energy of the sun onto the silent beauty of the night.
This mistake shall never be repeated. Thus, I am writing these words as an homage to Luna's elusive greatness.
UPDATE 2015-09-17: And this might be why there's that odd contradiction in the sisters' theme and personality: Celestia likes to rule by not ruling, to just support and nourish and instill confidence and let ponies figure things out within their own potential, while Luna is surprisingly forward and active. This might have been different long time ago, with Luna being very yin and Celestia being very yang and that having been the cause for the crisis, so the sisters have now moved closer to each other and that works.
I watched that episode a second time now and my mind was quite active, so this is roughly what the title says: I'll write down the thoughts I had while watching the episode. Times mentioned are estimates/rounded. Enjoy/discuss!
Ms. Harshwhinnie reprimands Rainbow Dash and asks her to show more professionalism. ... And I thought: Professionalism, hm? Like reprimanding Rainbow Dash and threatening to take away her coach role right in front of the whole school class?
The CMC are trying to think of what's special about Ponyville. Eventually Scootaloo says: "It's a place where different kinds of ponies live together as friends."
Soooo... does that mean that other places like Manehattan or Canterlot are racist and/or practice segregation? Is it a taboo to be friends with a different type of pony elsewhere? :okiedokielokie:
I had to laugh at the fact that their walking is totally not in sync with the rhythm. So apparently this is not reserved for fan-made PMVs. Wouldn't have expected that.
When the Terrible Two did their psychological warfare, mocking the CMC for not having cutie marks, I looked at theirs and thought: Man! This would be such a great job for reformed Discord! What an awesome episode that would make!
We see/hear, as a first in the show, audible thoughts - from Rainbow Dash. But Ms. Harshwhinnie's urge to be professional is 'still warm'. It's not like people with Alzheimer are watching. I remember wishing for this feature in other situations, in earlier episodes, where it would have made things feel a lot more natural, and then the first time they use it, it's not necessary at all in order for the scene to work properly. -_-
When Rainbow Dash tells Scootaloo that she doesn't have to fly during the flag carrying segment of the Equestria Games if she can't, that this is what makes Ponyville so special, I couldn't help but think: Errrr... like ... special...olympics?
When Twilight Sparkle was made to experience her worst fear by Sombra's Door, Spike came quickly and interrupted its captivating influence. But I think without Spike, Twilight would have made it on her own, too. Spike broke the spell while she was still fully in the grasp of her fears.
The opportunity lies in allowing this to continue on its own. What would have happened is this: Exactly because it is her worst fear, it would have a devastating effect. A prolonged experience would be unbearable for her, thus creating the necessity to find her source of inner strength, to empower and call upon the little bright light of positivity buried under those fears, and because Twilight is also very smart, she would eventually figure out that this cannot be 'right'. She would stop believing that any experience she might have could be that horrible and desperate, and that refusal of belief in her fears, combined with the gained skill in tapping into her positive spirit regardless of the circumstances, would allow her to overcome them.
I know this because I have experienced a process like that with ayahuasca. That's how emotional healing works ... the hard way ... when less severe means aren't available or sufficient.
So this is actually the weakness in Sombra's Door: Less severe fears are way more tricky. People can learn to live with them, to incorporate them into their life, they don't catch attention, thus they can remain undetected. But fully experiencing one's worst fears isn't sustainable and thus carries in itself the seed of its demise. We are unwilling and unable to live with them, and when fighting this battle inside of the mind, at the end the only casualty can be the fear that struck root there. Ironically, Sombra's Door magic is too powerful to be able to prevail.
Someone on Cheezburger used 'messy' language regarding a certain tv.com poll, favoring Adventure Time because Lauren is not running MLP anymore, and someone urged him to use the Queen's language. The solution flowed from my mind instantly.
An A to the D
Adventure Time's the best show you can see on TV.
WINP = work in no progress. Hah!
♫ Sweetie Bell, Sweetie Bell, Sweetie's all the neigh! ♫
♫ Oh what pun it is to ride in a one-mare open sleigh! ♫
Inspired by a vector graphic here:
Everypony becomes evil - that would be hilarious.
Look at this and imagine the hilarity ensuring:
They'd all scheme and fight against each other and eventually realize that it's pointless, in part because when everypony is evil, nopony is evil. They'd also realize the stupidity and unsustainability of a life like that.