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Hearth's Warming Helper

Found 36 results

  1. I have a present for you this Christmas evening: A little glimpse on how MLP:FiM is promoted in China. Preface As its many knock-offs show, MLP:FiM is very popular in China, with small shops selling everything from off-color clay figurines of Princesses Celestia and Luna to almost official-looking play sets of tea parties with Rainbow Dash and Rarity. This fandom does not hesitate to share the knock-offs of the toy line, and to wonder why Hasbro does not crack down on the peddlers more. I have taken many photos of the merchandise on my trip, but very likely others have found these a hundred times over. Surprisingly, I have found that comparatively little of MLP:FiM merchandise other than toys from China gets shared, especially the books. (This seems to be true of other countries and languages too, but of course, this is an American/Canadian (and therefore English) production.) For a show that emphasizes values and therefore a concept of culture, the lack of analysis of books in other languages is rather surprising. Many of us love the show for both the morals and the way it presents the morals, and while the values it presents are very universal, it is still informed by a Western philosophical tradition (and perhaps even an Anglo-Saxon one, as language does shape thought). To see how the East (or China more specifically) treats the morals of the show and their presentations would be quite enlightening. I first bought the second book in the series “MLP: Presenting You 18 Good Habits” to help me learn Chinese using stories I was already familiar with, but soon became interested in the way it presented the stories in themselves. I eventually got the whole series. Introduction The covers are elegant and simple: A floral pattern dominated by one color, based off the member of the Mane Six that graces the center. The series is published by the Tongqu (lit. “childlike”) Publishing Company Ltd., a joint venture of the People’s Post and Telecommunications Publishing House and the Danish publisher Egmont, and apparently only has offices in Beijing. So far as I can tell, this company only has a Chinese distribution. It specializes in children’s books, with IP licenses not only for MLP:FiM but Thomas and Friends, Astro Boy, and various Disney properties, as well as publishing their own original material. Each book is 120 pages long, containing adaptations of three episodes from the show with a common theme of a class of good habits. The first one, “Good Habits of Learning,” which appropriately shows Twilight Sparkle in thought, contains “Read It and Weep” (loving to read ardently), “Rarity Investigates!” (observing and reflecting), and “Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3” (having right study methods). Second has Pinkie Pie delivering “Good Habits of Living,” and features “The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000” (eating a healthy diet), “Hurricane Fluttershy” (exercising), and “Flutter Brutter” (taking care of oneself). The third one, with Rainbow Dash reclining casually on a cloud, is (rather ironically) titled “Good Habits of Working,” and comprises “Somepony to Watch Over Me” (working independently), “Sonic Rainboom” (being earnest and down-to-earth), and “Newbie Dash” (developing team awareness). Fourth has the soft-spoken Fluttershy presenting “Good Habits of Speaking,” through the stories of “Luna Eclipsed” (speaking politely), “Putting Your Hoof Down” (learning to say no), and “Crusaders of the Lost Mark” (not taunting others). In the fifth, Rarity dresses three episodes as “Good Habits of Relationships”—“Amending Fences” (valuing friends), “Make New Friends But Keep Discord” (not monopolizing friendship), and “The Gift of the Maud Pie” (empathizing with others). Finally, Applejack brings us “Good Habits of Safety,” gathering “Appleloosa’s Most Wanted” (staying away from dangerous places), “Viva Las Pegasus” (not falling for sweet talk), and “A Friend in Deed” (not doing dangerous games). The books start with a preface, “Good Habits for Achieving a Good Future,” written by Xue Lei, a National Psychological Consultant, Learning Competency Instructor, and Early Childhood Education Instructor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences Psychological Institute (among other things). (I have not been able to find her listed on the CAS website, perhaps because of her status as an instructor.) She is associated with the Faber and Mazlich series of parenting lectures and workshops based on “How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk,” which both explains quite a few features about these books and gives it somewhat less of a Chinese slant than I hoped. In the preface, Xue notes that the key to good behavior for “the long prop-up” is not changing bad habits but developing good habits, and that stern lectures tend to backfire. She then goes on to explain the set-up of the book, and concludes with two quotes about cultivating good habits, one from the American psychologist William James, and the other from the Chinese journalist and author of children’s books Ye Shengtao. Curiously, though she describes the stories that follow as “vivid and interesting,” she doesn’t give any explanation of why she chose the stories from MLP:FiM in particular as her vehicle of cultivating good habits. So far as I can tell, however, she has not drawn from other franchises for similar series of books. The Stories Each story, after a title page, begins with an introduction of the major characters in the story. Remarkably, the series often varies the description for the same character, highlighting facts about the character that are relevant for the story that follows. For example, in “Read it and Weep,” Twilight Sparkle is noted as often encouraging other ponies to read more books, because “she knows most ponies do not know the historical legends.” For “Amending Fences,” however, her introduction focuses on her not caring much about friendship before coming to Ponyville, and even “Hurricane Fluttershy” describes her as “able to make all sorts of precision instruments.” At times, especially if it involves one-shot characters like Zephyr Breeze or Gladmane, the introductions end up giving away the story that follows, but not enough to completely spoil it. The stories are written in a colloquial, brisk style, using plenty of common Chinese idioms to add spice and informality. (They editors are particularly fond of using the phrase “bugan-shiruo,” meaning “not to be outdone.”) As one might expect, the stories follow the events in the episodes, but there are some exceptions. These likely are to keep each book at their 120-page limits, but perhaps also is a matter of style. Notably, the cold open from “Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3” is mostly omitted, despite its great characterization of Twilight and RD, instead going straight into reading the Wonderbolts history book. The reader does not really understand the significance of the test until RD fails Twilight’s pop quiz. In the adaptation of “Sonic Rainboom,” Twilight does not warn Rarity about the fragility of her wings, and their melting in the sun comes as a genuine surprise to the reader. Foreshadowing and other hints at possible futures thus do not appear to be favored devices. The hyperbole gets toned down too: A few of AJ’s protective measures from “Somepony to Watch Over Me” are skipped, as is Fluttershy’s encounter with the tourist in “Putting Your Hoof Down.” At times, the stories assume the reader is familiar with the show, despite the character descriptions at the beginnings of each—“Viva Las Pegasus” begins with “The Map once again called out…” even though it is the only Map episode to be featured in this series. The changes are not just limited to omissions. In “Read it and Weep,” Rainbow Dash actually invites Fluttershy and Twilight in when they come to visit her at the hospital, instead of the two knocking and entering themselves. This of course softens the interruption, so the reader is not as attached to RD’s annoyance at being stopped from reading the Daring Do book. The changes and additions are particularly common when necessary to fit the intended good habit. Sometimes these additions and changes are fairly creative and fitting: When, in “Crusaders of the Lost Mark,” Diamond Tiara announces her about-face and gets her father to pay for the playground, she explains that her cutie mark talent is not only about getting other ponies to do what she wants, but even makes a point of the fact that it is a tiara, that she thought it meant she could “dictate to everyone without regard to [their] feelings, even speaking meanly.” This rendition thus emphasizes the flaw of arrogance because of social status more than the actual episode does. (I almost suspect, because it is published by People’s Post and Telecommunications, that it’s Communist Party meddling.) Others are completely shoehorned: For “A Friend in Deed,” the lesson that Pinkie Pie takes from her antics with Cranky is not that everyone has their own way of expressing friendship, but “[to] never do a dangerous game again!” which she even swears on a Pinkie Promise. Earlier, the editors even interpret the Smile Song at the beginning of the episode as not just that she likes seeing everypony smile, but that as long as she can make everypony smile, her friends will let her do whatever she wants, framing her as more careless than the episode would suggest. One shoehorned, but still fun, addition is in “The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000,” where, to make the episode better fit the “healthy eating” theme, the editors add a pony getting a stomachache from drinking the Flim-Flam Brothers’ cider. The Pictures The pictures, as expected, come from screenshots of the show, one (sometimes two) per page. More than occasionally, the pictures do not perfectly correspond with the actual text per page, sometimes even omitting key information. Again in “Read it and Weep,” the page where RD starts reading Daring Do in fact has a picture of RD trying to resist reading the book. A picture of RD wearily starting to read does appear on the next page, although the text describes RD’s reactions to be far more exciting. For “Putting Your Hoof Down,” the text mentions Angel Bunny several times, but only one screenshot with him appears, and there the corresponding text doesn’t mention him. Even more puzzling is the omission of Applejack from any screenshot from “Flutter Brutter,” even though she is listed as one of the described characters at the beginning. It seems as though the editors were less concerned about matching the text with the picture and more content to just remind the reader of what she (or he) had seen in the show. The pictures are largely unedited, but there is at least once instance where something is added: Princess Luna in front of the spider target game in “Luna Eclipsed," using an obvious vector to make clear that she was the one making the spiders real. With the exception of “Rarity Investigates,” each story has at least one line that summarizes the moral of the story, highlighted in colored text, a direct commentary to the reader put in a heart-shaped blurb in a screenshot, or both. The blurb commentaries do not always serve the same functions. Some summarize the moral, others make a tangential point, and yet others give direct advice. Some are self-aware that the ponies are not perfect role models: For “Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3,” in the scene where RD blows spitballs at Twilight during her flashcard lesson, the editors give this warning: “Throwing spitballs [lit. marbles] at other people is very dangerous, kids, you cannot imitate it!” One unusual case, from “The Gift of the Maud Pie,” describes the characters’ own thoughts when Maud retrieves the party cannon. A few are even addressed to the parents rather than the children, such as in “Somepony to Watch Over Me," where, as a caption to Apple Bloom taking care of the chores before Applejack returns, the editors say “Kids are more capable than we imagine. Give kids a free hand to do what they can for the housework.” The Follow-Ups From the stories themselves we turn to the more unique aspects of the books. One of the most interesting is a section called “Pony Voices from the Heart" which summarizes in four frames the story from the perspective of one of the characters, often, but not always, from the one who had to learn something from the events. For a show that emphasizes character development, this approach is quite fitting, to further help the reader empathize with the characters and therefore better internalize the message. Next is the section called “Pony Classroom," which further explains the good habit that the story is supposed to inspire, with three “tricks” each providing a way to develop the habit, and some lines for the child to write down any additional tricks that she can think of. Here the editors are freer to use screenshots out of context, which is usually not a problem but can result in some awkward deliveries. One of the stranger ones, shown to the left, is in the healthy eating tricks after “The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000,” where the second one takes a screenshot from “Spice Up Your Life,” where Rarity and Pinkie are trying the Zesty Gourmand-approved cuisine. The caption that follows reads “Don’t be a picky eater, focus on matching meat and vegetables, and eat vegetables, meat, and fruit of all sorts.” Given that “Spice Up Your Life” was an episode about not eating the same things over and over again, it’s a surprise that it wasn’t used as the story. At the same time, it seems very odd for our vegetarian friends to tell us to eat meat. (It is also interesting in itself that Chinese children also are picky about eating meat, when Western parents would just expect their children to eat their fruits and vegetables. Having tried a lot of authentic Chinese cuisine while in China, I suspect it is because in many meat dishes the bones are chopped up and cooked with the meat.) After that is a section called “Magic Practice Camp,” which presents the kids with a series of hypothetical situations that they are to judge either right or wrong, based on what they have learned. For the ones that are wrong, it further instructs the kids to discuss with their parents what should be done instead. What is particularly notable about this section is that the editors appear to have made a real effort to make the hypotheticals gender neutral—that is, both male and female characters are presented as virtuous and not-so-virtuous about equally. (I qualify this tally, though, because, especially as a non-native speaker, it is difficult to tell which names are male and female, and many Chinese names can be both.) This is interesting because in previous pony storybook publications from Tongqu, the audience was blatantly gendered—one series from 2015 was called “My Little Pony Teaches You to be a Perfect Girl.” Even more interesting is that there is no answer key in the back to accompany the questions. Though nearly all of the hypotheticals are not morally ambiguous, it still shows that the editors are more concerned with getting the children to think and interact with their parents in a dialogue, rather than to come up with the right answer. (Either that or there wasn’t room in the 120-page limit.) What Xue considers the most important part of the books is the “Good Habit Cultivation Chart,” to encourage children to “progress a little every day.” In this four-week chart, she instructs the reader to make a small goal for oneself to develop the habit just taught, and to color in the cutie mark each day that the goal is met. Interestingly, these pages never vary per habit, always using RD’s cutie mark. I find it cute, though that Applejack always heads the chart, as a sort of watchful eye over the reader to ensure that she (or he) is honest in filling in the marks. But what is most puzzling to me is the application of such a chart to the negative injunctions in the safety book, as not playing dangerous games, avoiding dangerous places, and not believing sweet talk always require someone or something else to provide the temptation to do otherwise. There is no reason to believe that a child will encounter such situations every day, unless the goal is not to put a fork in every electrical socket one sees. Each book ends on three notes: First is a reflective send-off of sorts, headed by these sentences: “The cultivation of good habits requires unremitting persistence. The ponies will always be there for you to cheer you on.” These are followed by a blank space next to one of the Mane Six, so the children can draw or paste a picture of themselves next to them. Next is a gallery called “Pony Fan Artwork Exhibition,” which celebrates the artistry and creativity of those who love the show (and the books). I am not sure if these children send these pieces of artwork to Hasbro’s China offices or to Tongqu, as the book doesn’t invite them to send their own artwork to any particular place. In any case, some of the artwork is quite impressive for those from three to eleven. One six-year old (not pictured here) created a traditional Chinese shadow puppet of Fluttershy with the help of her teacher. She must have had her stage fright in mind, for she comments “Although Fluttershy is timid and shy, I hope that she can be as happy as I am every day.” Many of these young fans also like writing letters to Princess Celestia of the moral lessons they have learned in real life. Unlike the hypothetical characters, all the fans featured are girls, but it’s hard to find a young boy who is into MLP:FiM anyway, so that’s not a huge problem. Finally each book provides a paper cutout craft of one of the Mane Six, somewhat boxy but still cute. Miscellaneous Thoughts Although the editors designed each story to be read on their own, there are some indications that the stories also flow from each other. Most obvious is the order of the books: Learning how to learn is of course fundamental to developing good habits, so that is taught first. The basic needs of living are explored in the second book, followed by the habits of good working, which support the basic needs of living. The higher-level ideas of communication with others and forming relationships come next. The only book that completely bucks the Maslow hierarchy of needs is the last book on safety, which should have come in either between the habits of living and the habits of working, or before the habits of speaking. (To its credit, there is a blurb in “Somepony to Watch Over Me” where the editor advises the reader, as Apple Bloom encounters the swamp chimera, that “safety is most important.”) It is also interesting that “Somepony to Watch Over Me,” the story about working independently, directly follows from “Flutter Brutter,” the story about self-care, as a natural expansion of the idea. I have already hinted my puzzlement at why “Spice Up Your Life” wasn’t used as the “healthy eating” story. I suspect two things: First, the Flim-Flam Brothers, as symbols of capitalist dishonesty, are easier, safer targets than the voice of authority that Zesty Gourmand brings. Further, Saffron Masala and her father are clearly inspired by Indian culture, and because of the border disputes between China and India, the Chinese are more likely to see India unfavorably than favorably, so having a story featuring them might get some backlash. (I did not see a single Indian restaurant when I was in China. At the same time, I do not know how "Spice Up Your Life" was received there.) What puzzles me even more is why “Wonderbolts Academy” wasn’t used for the “don’t play dangerous games” lesson instead of “A Friend in Deed.” As I have already said, the editors had to really shoehorn that lesson in. Meanwhile in “Wonderbolts Academy,” not only does Lightning Dust purposely take extreme risks, but RD feels overshadowed by Lightning Dust because of all the risks she takes. It’s hard to interpret the fire in “A Friend in Deed” as anything more than an unhappy accident, and certainly that accident wasn’t morally significant the way that the tornado in “Wonderbolts Academy” was. Perhaps, in light of using “Newbie Dash” for the “teamwork awareness” lesson, the editors found themselves debating whether it was a good idea to show RD retrogressing on her implied awareness in “Wonderbolts Academy” on how the Wonderbolts really should operate. Maybe they thought that RD had too many episodes centered around her at that point. Maybe they just saw “A Friend in Deed” as more fun for the kids. Maybe they also thought that the scenes where Pinkie Pie keeps on waiting for mail from RD to be too distracting from the main story. It puzzles me in any case. (I should further note, however, that this series is not the only set of pony-themed moral development books that Tongqu has recently published; there is one that focuses on making children feel proud of themselves as unique, and another that seeks to impart a more general “wisdom.”) Conclusion While far from perfect, “Presenting You 18 Good Habits” manages to capture a lot of what makes MLP:FiM so appealing to many bronies: the engaging stories, the impact of the morals, the empathy we feel with the characters, and the creativity it inspires. And probably because it was made with the parents in mind, it is no wonder it attracts fans like me, more than many English-language pony publications. (Or, at least, those who know at least a little Chinese.) Happy Hearth's Warming Everypony!
  2. Anonymous Old User Who Has Left

    What is your favorite YouTube subculture?

    Hi all, What are your favorite subcultures on YouTube? Examples include paramotoring (Tucker Gott), skateboarding (AndrewShrock), modified cars (ThatDudeinBlue), political/societal commentaries/critiques (Sargon of Akkad), etc.
  3. HorsesandMOARGaloar

    How will Hasbro react in this situation?

    To satirize of "Evil Empire" Nation X's propaganda (e.g. "we have become what you fear"), Nation Y adopts a pink pony (one of hundreds of modern icons symbolizing Nation X's enemies) as its national emblem, using it in counter-propaganda to represent "themselves" against Nation X's "evil army". After Nation Y wins the war by defending itself, Hasbro sets up its business in Nation Y's capital. The whole nation celebrated to thank Hasbro for that same pink pony, now being used as a national icon in Nation Y*. They have even saved thousands of dollars just to pay Hasbro, in case if Hasbro will ever sue (and bankrupt) the national economy. What will Hasbro do? * Sue the government. * Accept its culture, and even promote various products (not just MLP, but everything else) under Nation Y's native culture(s). * P. S. Nation Y did not become "effeminate", nor did it submit to "Bronyism", after adopting the toy; it was shortly abandoned after much controversy, and reverted to the classic "three soldiers". But this particular incident haunted the nation's popular culture, to even mock the government itself! C'mon, everypony, I need some help!
  4. Anonymous Old User Who Has Left

    General Car Fan Club

    Hello everybody! This is a fan club for all brony car lovers. Stuff to post: Cars you like Things that you wish could change with cars Car problems Car jokes Current car Dream Car First car Etc. Rules: No spam. No degrading or racist comments (e.g. Japanese cars are gay, Mustang drivers are *****, V8s are the only practical engines, etc.) Memes are allowed though. No NSFW content (e.g. woman's boobs atop Dodge Viper hood) Keep to the topic of cars (i.e. don't talk about cheese or what music you listened to last night) No hating on another fan club. All rules of the site apply here. Share and discuss! Let's make this big!!
  5. Cedar Woods

    World of Art

    The vast array of places we’ve visited in Equestria has grown with each new season. Now it would be impossible to cover the art of every single new culture we visited, but this panel attempts to deliver a short discussion about it all. You’ll learn about famous artists from around the world, some of which way be familiar to you, others of which won’t be. The only criteria for a style of art appearing in this panel, is that it must be by an artist who lives (or lived) in one if the places that a place in FIM is based off of.
  6. Anonymous Old User Who Has Left

    Pony wearing a hijab?

    So I've been thinking lately about how MLP reaches out to a very wide audience (Indonesia and Malaysia made up the bulk of Hasbro's net revenue in the last two years from the MLP franchise), and wondered: If a pony wore a hijab (headscarf) on the show, either as a main character for an episode or just a background character (like Derpy), how would the fandom and the world react? Would they be fine with such a cultural or religious reference? We've already seen two characters from Saddle Arabia, and both wore traditional Arab bedouin apparel. In Saudi Arabia and throughout desert countries, many women wear the hijab along with their traditional garments, so it makes somewhat sense. Besides, we've been promised more locations and adventure for seasons 7 and 8. No mean or racism comments please, my finger's hovering over the "report user" button you know...
  7. Say, you ended up on an island, where a primitive tribe takes you as their prisoner. After some incident, you either kill over overthrow their king, and the tribe's members consider you as their next ruler. How would you rule that tribe? Would you: Bring your culture to modernise the tribe, and host diplomatic relations with your home country? Preserve the tribe's culture and traditions, and also encourage them to write so they can preserve their knowledge? Preserve the tribe's culture, but gradually enact reforms to eliminate worse practices (such as slavery, cannibalism, and ritual murder) and modernise the tribe?
  8. Vainamoinen

    General Your Weird Cultures!

    Hi everyone! I was thinking about the Finnish sauna, and came up with this. Post something you do in culture that seems weird to others! For me it would be the sauna, the one I go is both men and women. And there is no swimwear or any thing. When we in sauna we slap ourself with birch branches.
  9. Say, Hasbro sells MLP at Country X, whose people consider gryphons as sacred animals in their religion. As a result, many customers from that country (not just little girls and their parents, and any local bronies and pegasisters) go to toy stores all over Country X to buy any sets with Gilda figures, to use these plastic images of that particular she-gryphon as idols to worship their gods. How would Hasbro react to its customers, from that particular country, treating some of its toys like religious items? Would Hasbro stop selling the worshipped toys to preserve its secular image, or to avoid religious controversies? Or would Hasbro not only continue selling the worshipped toys, but also theme those toys after the customers' culture and folktales? Or even use this unusual tradition to promote an event influenced by Country X's local traditions, to promote their toys and entertain their customers?
  10. So for those of you who know me, you'll know I'm a bit of a flag waver at heart but I also like to think I'm worldly enough precisely because of my patriotism. That's neither here nor there though but the culture and fiction of these great United States is key to this question I have. There have been a number of video games released in the past couple years by non-American developers who set their games within the United States and with American protagonists. -Alan Wake -Life is Strange -Heavy Rain -Beyond: Two Souls -The upcoming Detroit: Become Human Interestingly, these tend to be more relatively grounded as far as video games go, concerning the lives and interactions of otherwise ordinary people caught in extreme or fantastical circumstance. The two companies that predominantly come to mind in this regard are Quantic Dream and Remedy, who are French and Finnish respectively. Of course this goes further back than that but the primary perpetrator of this used to be Japan, with Metal Gear Solid, Silent Hill, Resident Evil, and such. Although those could hardly qualify as close approximation's of U.S. culture. Then again, R.E.'s scale went global and the remake seems to be taking cues from Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Deliverance. That's part of the thing though, of the games I listed these aren't just backdrops, they're almost cultural tributes at least some of them are. Alan Wake is mired in a Twin Peaks eeriness with an accurate depiction of small town Americana. This is, by no means, a bad thing but it does kind of perplex me. Quantic Dream has yet to make a game set in France and pretty much ALL of Remedy's games are set in and mostly ABOUT U.S. locales. (Although I'm not sure where Death Rally takes place.) I guess the ultimate question is, why is this?
  11. Howdy all, I've been working on a little project, and need a bit of help. I'm trying to figure out which cultures those in Equestria correlate to in the real world, as this will help me with expanding the canon and creating content that is consistent with the lore (or, at least, with itself). Because, you know, there are only so many horse puns that can be used as city names. At the moment, I'm mostly concerned with the three pony tribes as seen in the Hearthswarming Eve episode. The pegasi are the most obvious, with their Greco-Roman influences, but it's the unicorns I'm having the most trouble pinning down. I'm also curious about non-pony races like the griffons and diamond dogs. I have my own thoughts on the matter, but I'd be interested in hearing what other people think.
  12. Hi there, I'm a British filmmaker who is making a documentary about MLP culture. I don't know much about it yet, so please excuse me if I seem ignorant. I want a lot of my exploration to feature in the documentary. I hope to go to MLP conventions, such as the one in Leeds in October. I'd love it if I could have someone involved in the culture to lead me through the MLP world. If you're in the UK and you're interested in being in a documentary where you can show the world why you think MLP is so great, please respond below or send me a private message. The film will probably begin being shot in October and will likely finish in September.
  13. So people can be pretty awesome. I think most of us tend to forget that or maybe some choose to ignore it because cynicism and misanthropy are "safer" for some reason. However, people have done great things, towering things, things that never had been done before. From the forums of Plato, to Michealangelo painting the Sistine Chapel, to Darwin studying on the Galapagos Island, to Armstrong landing on the moon. Speaking of which, here's a quote I sometimes turn to: "The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need men who can dream of things that never were." ~President John F. Kennedy So in honor of such men, or women, who dreamt of things that never were until they made them, who are some of your favorite people, their accomplishment(s) you like, and why?
  14. Sometime in the future (centuries from now, or next Tuesday), the human race comes into contact with a space-faring alien civilization. After the initial shock, an agreement for a cultural exchange is made, in which members from both societies have the opportunity to spend a period of time on the other's planet, in the effort to further understand the other, and to foster a spirit of friendship. If you choose to take part, you may either sign up to be transported (via space travel, wormhole, etc.) to the alien home world, where you are tasked with learning about their culture, and to provide a positive representation of Humanity. Alternativly, you may sign up to have one of the aliens to come and live in your home for the same purpose. Your job is to act as a guide in helping them understand human culture, history, and diversity. Should you wish to sign on, which would you choose, and how would it impact your life? For the purpose of this hypothetical scenario, feel free to presume and conditions or complications, such as the physiology, ideology, theology, etc. of the alien race. I have recently been thinking about such a situation a lot, so I thought I would share it here and see what you think.
  15. What languages do you know or learn except English and why are you learning them? I know French and I'm learning Russian and German. I'm learning Russian because a lot of people speak it and I also like the culture, food, language, music, etc. of Russia. As for German I just like the language and it's also a popular language. I also like learning new languages it's very interesting and fun to me.
  16. Fimfiction Link (A light story focusing on Culture and Characters) Breaking News Headline: COLT CATCHES LUCKY BREAK, GETS TO BREAK A LEG WITH PRINCESS LUNA The winner of the first 'Royalty for a Day' contest has just been selected, a young earth pony colt from Ponyville named Pipsqueak. This lucky colt was selected randomly from tens of thousands of entries across Equestria to spend an evening with Princess Luna, stay at Canterlot Castle, attend the first Royal Nightmare Night Festival as Princess Luna’s personal guest, and will be knighted as Equestria Royalty for the day. When asked, Pipsqueak had this to say. “Oh, I was just so excited when I got the letter telling me I’d won. Princess Luna‘s been my favorite Princess ever since she visited Ponyville during the last Nightmare Nights Festival three years ago. She’s ever so much fun! I must‘ave sent a thousand letters, I did.” There you have it folks. I can’t say I’m not jealous of the little tyke. He’s agreed to tell us all about his day as Royalty sometime next week. Have fun, little guy. -Head writer for the Canterlot Times, Inky Quill. Written for VGI based on his art provided here. Edited by Drgnwolf and enti0 who is also British and really helped with the accents. Dear Pipsqueak It is our pleasure to inform that you have been randomly selected as the winner of Our first Annual Royalty for a Day contest. Congratulations! We fondly remember when we first met you at Ponyville's Nightmare Nights Festival three years ago. Imagine Our surprise when you won. My sister even commented on Our smile as We read the winning letter. We will pick you up from your home on the 29th of October, promptly at 5pm. From there we will attend a private dinner in the castle and go over plans for the next day. Please dress casually for the 29th, but bring a nice business casual outfit for the 30th, and your Nightmare Nights outfit for the First Royal Nightmare Nights Festival. You will then stay one more night before We return you the morning after. We look forward to seeing you again, -Princess Luna Pipsqueak smiled and placed the frequently read letter back in it’s drawer in the nightstand next to his bed. He turned back to look around the room. The letter had distracted him from the search for his misplaced pirate sword. Three years. Thought Pipsqueak. After three years I finally get to see her again. “Mum! Mum!” yelled Pipsqueak as he rummaged through his closet. “Where’s my pirate sword? I can’t go as a pirate to the Royal Nightmare Nights Festival without my pirate sword.” Pipsqueak’s mom called back from down in the kitchen “"Already packed, Luv, you'll find it in there eas'ly enough. I've gone and wrapped it in a sheet to keep it safe!" “Oh, alright then.” Pipsqueak dug himself out from under a pile of dirty sheets that he hadn’t had time to wash. “Ave you got everything else?” “Um, I think so,” he called, yelling into his suitcase as he scrounged around. “Yes, I do.” “What a good lad. Come down 'ere and give yer mum a hug before you go. Quick now, can you hear it? That's the Princess, she just landed her chariot right outside!” Pipsqueak struggled to pick up his suitcase. While he tried to pack light he found that a costume including a hat, sword, and fake parrot took up more space than he was expecting. Add to that his nice outfit, four dress shoes, basic toiletries, and a picture of Princess Luna that he wanted to get signed, and the stiff suitcase could barely stay shut, despite being as large as he was. Eventually he managed to get the suitcase onto his back, and began awkwardly walking down the stairs, his head turned behind him to hold the suitcase. He was about halfway down the stairs when he heard a knocking from the front door at the bottom of the stairs. Pipsqueak was only able to turn his eyes to see his mother already opening the door. There bowing to his mother and calling his mother ‘Lady Cipher’ was Princess Luna. After his mother returned the bow, Luna then turned to him and bowed deeply. “Greetings, Prince Pipsqueak. Art thou ready for our royal dinner?” Pipsqueak turned his head and bowed. Suddenly the weight of his suitcase slipped from his back and he felt the bottom fall out of his stomach. He could only watch as the suitcase tumbled down the stairs, merrily bursting to toss his carefully packed belongings every which way. Pipsqueak covered his eyes with his hooves until the clatter of his life coming to an end settled. When he finally opened his eyes he was shocked that such carefully packed belongings could so easily wind up a giant mess. His pirate outfit had fallen across the stairs without too much damage. His nice clothes, however, had been strewn about and covered in toothpaste, which had somehow managed to become impaled by his costume pirate sword. He looked from the mess to his mom, and then to Princess Luna. He felt his cheeks redden as he noticed a pair of clean, white colts underwear resting upon her head, one leg opening having come to rest over her horn. Pipsqueak’s mother was close to exploding. “Pipsqueak Burgundy Leviathan! What, In, Equestria were y'thinking when you managed to throw yer knickers on our most exalted Princess Luna's horn!” “It’s quite all right, Lady Cipher,” said Princess Luna as she began to chuckle. “There is a reason royals do not normally carry their own luggage, things like this simply happen from time to time.” Ms. Cipher looked from her boy, to the mess, to Princess Luna before swiping the offending garment from Luna’s horn as she blushed. “Terr’bly sorry, Princess. Oh! You must think us rude beyond belief-” “As We said, Lady Cipher,” interrupted Luna. “Things simply happen from time to time. One would be remiss as a leader if one was not capable of taking friendly amusement from such circumstances.” “That’s very understanding of you, Princess. Would you like to come in while we get this cleaned up.” Luna smiled as a midnight blue aura surrounded the split items and sorted them into two piles. “No thank you. Everything is absolutely fine. The luggage was simply overstuffed. The castle will have ample toiletries, you need only bring your costume and your good clothes.” Luna stopped when she noticed the picture of her and smiled in a teasing fashion. “What is this, Prince Pipsqueak? A framed picture of me? That hardly seems appropriate. You haven’t even been a Prince yet and already you have a picture of me for your private collection.” Pipsqueaks cheeks flushed an even brighter red and he began to stammer. “N-no, Princess Luna, it’s not like that. You see, you’re my favorite Princess, my hero, and I just wanted to get your signature on my picture of you.” Luna chuckled. “Oh, you want a signed picture of me to put in your room. My, my, you are the little rogue, aren’t you? But We merely jest, perhaps a bit too aggressively given the undergarments of a teenager that I recently wore as a headdress. We would be more than happy to sign a picture for you. But perhaps it should be a picture of you and myself together at the festival tomorrow. I do believe that would be the most fitting.“ “Blimey! You mean it?” asked Pipsqueak beaming. “Oh, you’re the best Princess ever!” Luna smiled as she floated the clothes into the suitcase and zipped it up. “Come, my Prince, We must hurry if We are to raise the moon on time.” “Absolutely. Bye Mum,” said Pipsqueak quickly, as he hugged his mother before dashing out the door. “Be nice to the Princess, Pip,” reminded his mother. “‘And thank you, Princess.” “Think nothing of it,” said Luna. “I merely wish to show a bright-eyed child a good time.” Pipsqueak had never ridden in a chariot ride before and he couldn't get enough of it. He dashed from side to side, the front and back, constantly trying to look at everything at once. It took a full ten minutes before he settled down to stare at the approaching castle, lit in all it’s glory by the light of the soon to be setting sun. Princess Luna found the childlike wonder extremely refreshing. The work of a Princess was constant. With the exception of the few minutes she took to appreciate her night sky, just after and just before sunrise, she never seemed to find the time to appreciate anything. But with the little pinto colt dashing from side to side, yelling about how amazing everything looked from up high, she found herself looking from side as well and actually enjoying herself. Though, Luna didn’t need to run from side to side, she merely had to turn her head, but at least it gave her a good view of the young colt’s utter amazement at the world around him. “Princess?” asked Pipsqueak. “Might I ask you a question?” “Of course, my Prince.” “Why did you call my mother ‘Lady Cipher?’ Is my mum secretly a noble?” Luna chuckled. “No, my Prince. But, on the morrow I will name you a Prince for a day. That would make your mother a Lady, even if she was not of noble birth. I decided that I should address her appropriately. As you helped show me, Nightmare Night is a night of fun in many different forms. I decided that it might serve that interest, fun, by calling your mother by her soon to be proper title, seeing as I won’t be able to call her that tomorrow.” “Oh, I get it,” said Pipsqueak. They had just begun to pass over Canterlot proper. Pipsqueak stuck his head out the back of the carriage in order to get the best view of everything when he spoke again. “Princess?” “Yes, my Prince?” “Why is it that when you were around my mum you kept saying ‘We’ but around me you use ‘I?’ Luna hid her smile as she turned to find Pipsqueak still leaning out of the chariot while he turned his head to await her answer. “After many hundreds of years of using the royal ‘We’ I find it is a habit most difficult to change. But around those I am more comfortable with, I find ‘I’ much easier to use.” Pipsqueak beamed at the compliment before following up with another question. “But, why did you ever talk that way in the first place? I mean, why do you talk so formally? I’ve never heard anypony talk like that.” Luna tapped a hoof to her chin as she thought. “I suppose that has to deal with class differences from over a thousand years ago. It’s quite boring, actually, are you sure you wish to hear of it?” Pipsqueak nodded, having forgotten the view as they approached the castle in the sky chariot. “Oh,” said Luna. “Alright, but I’ll try to condense it as much as I can.” Luna politely cleared her throat as she collected her thoughts. “Both Royalty and the Aristocracy tend to value themselves much higher than the common pony and enjoy constant reminder about this fact. It is much like a star hoofball player might enjoy constant recognition within his school. One way ponies of elevated stations took to reminding themselves of their status was to create complex social rules and language that could only be truly mastered by those who didn’t have to waste time with manual labor. Eventually the language and customs began to differ so greatly that it was all but impossible for the common pony to effectively communicate with the aristocracy who began to look down on their countryponies who couldn’t comprehend the nuances of their culture. “This wasn’t always an issue, largely because any business deal required a certain level of mutual respect. But it was almost always an issue in the court system, which use to be dominated by aristocratic lawyers and judges. The difference in communication was highlighted by the fierce pride many earth ponies feel about their livelihoods and hard work. The result was that earth ponies often refused to hire someone to argue on their behalf even though they couldn’t understand the words and games their opposition used to gain the upper hoof. Eventually tensions between the two groups came to a head when one particularly creative aristocrat tricked a particularly proud earth pony into saying that his farm was owned by the aristocrat and, so, the court took the earth ponies farm away and gave it to the aristocrat. It was at this point that my sister and I intervened.” Luna stood and exited the chariot with Pipsqueak who looked around, having just realized that they’d landed without even the faintest bump. A unicorn guard levitated Pipsqueak’s bags to a waiting attendant and Luna asked that the garments be cleaned before being placed in his chambers. “Where was I,” muttered Luna as Pipsqueak waited. “Ah yes.” They began to make their way to into the castle, Pipsqueak too enthralled with Luna’s summary of social and legal changes to appreciate the castle. He was so distracted, in fact, that he didn’t even notice when Princess Celestia had fallen in step behind him, prompting the Princesses to share grins and stifle knowing, very un-princess like, giggles. It was only when the doors to the Princess’s private dining hall were opened that a multitude of mouth watering smells caught Pipsqueaks attention. “Oh, we’re in the dining hall. When did we get here?” Princess Celestia’s soft, warm, and very casual voice sounded from just above and behind Pipsqueak “Just now, my little pony.” Pipsqueak jumped, turning midair. “Oi! I mean, Princess.” He bowed deeply, both out of respect and in a failed attempt to hide his crimson blush. “Pipsqueak,” said Celestia bowing. “It is an honor to finally meet you. My sister has, very excitedly, told me about the meeting you two first had three years ago and how much she was looking forward to seeing you again.” “She did?” asked Pipsqueak excitedly. He turned to look at Luna and smiled as she nodded. “Of course I did,” said Luna. “Finding out that a holiday concerning the terrifying Nightmare Moon was giving so much joy was probably the happiest experience I’ve had since my return. Aside from being reunited, and forgiven, by my sister, of course.” Pipsqueak beamed. “Shall we?” gestured Celestia to the tables. “Let’s,” declared Pipsqueak as he felt his heart race. His mother had spent the last week imparting what she knew about proper manners and he didn’t want to embarrass himself in front of two princesses. He bowed to let the two Princesses pass him to choose their spots at the head of the table. The hours of lectures and practice came flooding back to him and he raced ahead to pull out the Princesses seats for them, starting with Princess Celestia as she had approached her chair first. “Oh,” said Celestia as she stood behind her seat at the head of the table. “Such a gentlecolt. Luna, I thought you said your contest was only for foals.” “It was supposed to be,” said Luna as she made her way to her seat. “But I had no idea that colts in this day and age were so well versed in proper etiquette.” “M’ladies,” said Pipsqueak with a smile as he pushed in Celestia’s chair as she sat. “Oh my,” said both sisters. Pipsqueak diligently moved over to push in Luna’s chair as she took her seat. Celestia turned to her sister. “I think it’s been centuries since somepony other than a servant did that for me.” Luna nodded. “It hasn’t happened to myself since I returned.” Pipsqueak looked at them in confusion. “Isn’t that what a gentlecolt is suppose to do to a proper lady?” “Mare or lady, yes,” stated Celestia. “It even used to be common for male guests to push in our chairs. But that was more than a thousand years ago. Since then Luna and myself decided to minimize the gap between the aristocracy and the common pony and we have discouraged it with ourselves. Most ponies likely think it improper now, though it is not.” Pipsqueak gulped. But before embarrassment could take hold, something his mother had drilled into him during those many hours of etiquette popped into his head. ‘All mares love a compliment. If you misspeak, try to make it a compliment.’ "Well I'd say that, once in a while, the bestest ponies in our lovely land ought to be treated good and proper now and then." “Oh,” said Celestia. “He is good.” Pipsqueak bowed, before taking his own seat on the side of the table, next to Luna, as was proper for her guest. Immediately after he was seated three servants appeared, seemingly out of nowhere to Pipsqueak, and placed one dish of the first course in front of each of them before removing the cover. Pipsqueak’s mouth immediately began to water at the site of a stunning dish of carrot tzimmes. The carrots were perfectly round, and were so soft they flopped over each other. They were practically sparkling with perfectly heated, slightly caramelized, honey and had a dash of cinnamon sprinkled over the top. It was also clear that the dish included a secret step to preparation that his mother used, a small amount of butter was mixed with the honey to help tie all the flavours together more neatly than if they had been added separately. “Carrot tzimmes! That’s my favorite,” declared Pipsqueak. He turned to Princess Luna. “How’d you know?” Princess Luna held in a chuckle at the explosive excitement of the little colt. “I didn’t. I actually don’t know of this dish,” Luna said, trailing off before turning to her sister, a playful glare in her eye. “Sister, do you know of this dish? The one that just so happens to be my guest’s favorite?” Celestia took a large and satisfying whiff of the dish before replying. “No, dearest sister. I must admit that I rarely ever heard of this dish. Though, I do believe it is more popular with some of the older, more traditional earth pony families. That said, the chef might have mentioned to me the desire to make this dinner perfect, and I might have offered the young Prince’s address so that he might contact his mother and inquire about his favorite dishes.” “Sister, you should not have done that,” whined Luna. “But you must admit, he is enjoying himself,” said Celestia, pointing to the colt. Luna turned back toward Pipsqueak to find that he had one of the happiest faces that she had ever witnessed on a colt. To his credit, Pipsqueak managed to control himself and settled for adding one moderate bite at a time rather than shoving it in his mouth as he would have prefered. The carrots were, for lack of a better term, perfect. They were soft and tender but still meaty. Honey had slightly caramelized with the thinnest layer of butter adhering to it. It was only after the third bite that Pipsqueak realized that brown sugar had been added to thicken the honey, and provide a little extra flavor. If Pipsqueak had been eating as fast as he wanted to he would have missed that subtlety which also served to provide a delightful contrast to the sweet and meaty carrot. The cinnamon, of course, had only been dusted on the top of the carrots after cooking, creating a small zip at the beginning which served to heighten the sensitivity of his tastebuds. Sadly, all good things come to an end. As Pipsqueak placed the final bite within his mouth he made sure to savor it slightly longer than all the rest. He turned to the Princesses with a most satisfactory grin. “That was the most beautiful thing I think I’ve ever eaten.” The Princesses had not touched their tzimmes, as they were too enthralled by the pure and innocent pleasure expressed by the young colt. But when he spoke, they turned to look down at their steaming pile of carrots. Celestia was the first to try a bite, and it most certainly was very delicious. Luna also found the meal to be one of the better ones since she had returned from her long banishment. She said so and they all agreed, it would be hard for the chef to top that appetizer. The prediction held true and the rest of the meal, while quite delicious and the best that Pipsqueak had ever had, never quite tasted as good as that first dish. Pipsqueak fought through his growing food coma and managed to hold in a most undignified belch. “That was the best meal’ve eaten. Bloody brilliant posh nosh.” “I must say,” said Luna. “That was quite the meal. Were all the recipes provided by Lady Cipher?” “I think so,” said Celestia. “Though, at this point, I don’t really care. Whatever the chef did to pick this meal, I’m making sure he does it again tomorrow.” “The day after tomorrow,” corrected Luna. “Tomorrow is the festival.” “Oh,” said Pipsqueak. “Tomorrow, tomorrow. Oh no! I still need to get my suit cleaned for tomorrow.” Celestia lazily waved a hoof in the air. “The servants will have seen to that, have no fear.” “Tonight,” muttered Luna. “Tonight. Oh, I still need to raise the moon. And you need to lower the sun sister.” “Oh, if I must. How long do we have?” Just then a servant appeared from somewhere far outside of Pipsqueak’s perception, and whispered in Luna’s ear. “Ah, it seems that we have five minutes sister.” “Five. That should be long enough to walk out to the balcony. Come sister, the sooner we are done the sooner we can pleasantly sleep off this meal.” “Sir,” said Luna. A small grey pegasus stallion with a black mane stepped out from somewhere Pipsqueak didn’t care to identify. “Please see Prince Pipsqueak to his chambers.” The servant nodded. “Come now master Pipsqueak. I will show you to your room.” “Mmmm. Okay. Hey, what’s your name?” “Sir.” Pipsqueak blinked. “I said what’s your name. No need to be shy, I’m not actually a Prince.” The stallion grinned with bemusement. “My name is Tuxedo Sir, sir.” “Haha, sir Sir. Sure Sirsir. Show me my room, Sir Sirsir. I’m sure you're the best servant in the castle, Sir Sirsir, sir.” “Most hilarious sir.” Pipsqueak grinned nearly the entire way as he was gently guided to his room. “I’m fourteen, but for one day. For one day I’ll be a Prince.” Pipsqueak didn’t know how he’d made it to a bed. He hadn’t even been aware of walking. “We’re all jealous of you sir. Now, sleep tight.” “Jealous? You shouldn’t be jealous. That mean’s you're not having fun. I’m only Prince fer a little while. You, you get to see Princess Luna every day. Princess Luna is the best Princess.” “True, sir. Can I get you anything else before I go.” “Anything… Oh! Make sure to tell the chef thank you. That was the best meal I’ve ever had. And thank you, Sir.” Pipsqueak was vaguely aware of a blanket being placed over him as he drifted off to sleep. A steady knocking woke Pipsqueak the next morning and his eyes immediately shot open. Today is the day, today is the day. Golly gee willikers, this is going to be the best day ever! A flash of memory came to Pipsqueak as the voice of Sir came, muffled, through the thick wooden door of his chambers. “Mr. Pipsqueak, are you presentable?” “Oh,” groaned Pipsqueak. “Y-yeah, sure.” The doors opened and a flood of light invaded the dark room. Pipsqueak, in abject terror of the sudden harsh brightness, squeaked and threw the covers over his head. “Oh, sorry about that,” said Tuxedo. He closed the door, walked several paces to the left, and turned on a less aggressive reading lamp. “There. That should be better, sir.” Pipsqueak slowly took a peek from under the covers. Finding the light only moderately objectionable he stretched and yawned. “Yeaaaaahh. Mhmmm. What time is it?” “Six in the morning, sir. Princess Luna had intended to have you present for last night’s Moonrise, but as you retired early she inclined to let you sleep and let you see the Moonset instead.” “Oh no. I missed the moonrise? Aww, I’m a dunce.” “Well, sir, you will still have time to see the moonrise tonight. In a way I prefer the Moonset anyways. The few times I have witnessed Princess Luna coax the moon to sleep have been nothing short of both beautiful and intimate.” “Mmmkay.” Mumbled before he turned over, away from the light. “How long until it sets?” “Thirty minutes, sir.” “Thirty,” whined Pipsqueak. “Why’d you get me up so early?” Sir smiled knowingly. “I assumed you at least wanted to shower and groom yourself. The better to appear for her highness.” Pipsqueak opened his eyes and managed to sit all the way up as he began wiping the sleep from his eyes. “Tha’sa good point, thanks. I’m a go take a shower.” Pipsqueak stood up and looked around groggily, though not for a lack of trying. “Um, where’s... Where’s the shower?” “Ah. The guest baths are through that door over there.” He gestured. “Thanks,” said Pipsqueak. Pipsqueak took his first groggy steps toward the bathroom when Sir asked him another question. “Would you like me to have a warmed croissant and some hot cocoa ready for you when you’re done? It should be rather chilly outside.” Pipsqueak had to stop and think for a moment before turning around with a smile. “That would be fab, sir, but might it be possible to make it a buttered crumpet instead?” The servant nodded. “I’m sure the kitchen can come up with something.” Pipsqueak smiled. “What did you say your name was?” “My name is Tuxedo Sir, sir. If you are inclined please call me Sir. Though, don’t feel you need to ask every servant their name. It might become, rather intrusive when you take a tour of the castle.” “I’ll keep that in mind, Sir. Actually, do you mind if I just called you Tux?” Tuxedo nodded with a smile. “As you wish, sir.” Bathing didn’t take Pipsqueak very long. He was still small and young colts weren’t known for being the most thorough. Still, as he would be spending the entire day with the Princess he decided to try to some of the scented shampoos that were provided. Dragon fruit sounded like it would smell awesome, cause dragons were, of course, awesome. Sadly it was a rather normal, sweet fragrance. Not strong or powerful like the beast it was named after. Still, Pipsqueak did like the smell so he kept it. As he stepped out of the bathroom he found Tuxedo leaving. Two freshly buttered crumpets and a slightly steaming mug of cocoa had been placed on a corner desk. “Oh, thanks Tux, that smells scrummy.” Tuxedo had turned to bow, but looked up at him oddly. “Pardon, sir, but am I to presume that scrummy means good?” Pipsqueak nodded aggressively as he consumed one of the crumpets in a single bite. “Mmmhmm,” he mumbled as he swallowed. “Positively crackin’.” Tuxedo smiled as he bowed again. “When you are done you will find Princess Luna to the right, just outside the end of the hall.” “Thanks, Tux.” Tuxedo bowed. “Good day, sir.” “Cheerio,” said Pipsqueak as he nodded back towards Tuxedo. Pipsqueak stuck his head out of the doorway and into a small private garden at the end of the hall, unwilling to completely expose his body to the morning cold until he was sure the Princess was here. Just before he finished scanning the garden from the balcony, a familiar pleasant voice drifted down from above him. “Good day, my Prince.” “Luna,” said Pipsqueak. He jumped outside and turned to look up at Princess Luna. Princess Luna sat atop the slanted roof covering the hallway Pipsqueak had stepped out of. Her legs were crossed and, though her hair was shimmering as if from some unseen breeze, it wasn’t as lively as it usually was. Pipsqueak bowed. “Good morning, Princess.” Luna smiled and nodded in return. He may have only just entered his teen years, but it was obvious how hard he was trying to impress her. He was actually doing quite well despite his age and lack of formal etiquette training. Perhaps it was his years spent in Trottingham. That region of the country generally placed a higher value and focus on royalty and more traditional customs. Whatever the reason, she found his innocence and skill an amusingly rare combination. “Would you like to join me?” asked Princess Luna. “I find that a balcony adds something special when witnessing the raising and setting of both the Sun and Moon respectively.” Pipsqueak nodded vigorously. “Oh yes, Princess. That sounds brill.” Princess Luna chuckled as she levitated the young colt up to sit next to her. She hadn’t talked to many ponies from Trottingham but she enjoyed the accent. It was far different from the rest of Equestria, incorporating slang and terms that, while she didn’t always understand, were very colorful and often filled with enough energy to indicate something close to their meaning. Sometimes she could even piece together the slang. ‘Brill,’ for instance, probably stood for brilliant, a term she had heard Pipsqueak use before. Princess Luna pondered Pipsqueaks colorful speech as she watched him settle down next to her, leaning against the roof. The slant of the roof wasn’t steep, but it definitely warranted being cautious. When he finally settled Luna sighed and reached for her alicorn magic, extending it through an invisible and immaterial plane to the Moon, her special friend. Pipsqueak was torn between watching Luna and watching the moon. He noticed how, at first, she had closed her eyes and leaned her head toward the celestial body. But as her eyes opened he noticed the magic that enveloped her horn. Pipsqueak rarely had a chance to study unicorn magic in Ponyville. He simply hadn’t seen that many unicorns do more than levitation, and skilled unicorn magic was often done very quickly. But it was different watching Luna. Instead of a pulsating glow enveloping her horn as if directing tidal energies toward the moon, the magic almost seemed to caress up her horn in the moon's direction. Each caress extended on it’s own only slightly farther than the last. It was very different from what Pipsqueak had remembered of her magic, possibly even a completely different type of magic, and he couldn't take his eyes off it. The energy continued to flick up Luna’s horn until the energy reached the tip. Once there the magic didn’t hold its shape around her horn as Pipsqueak had expected, but instead almost seemed to roll off of it in little wisps of swirling light that could barely be seen. Pipsqueak found himself blushing. The magic she was using seemed both very mature and very private. After a few seconds he noticed that Luna had opened her eyes and looked fondly upon the moon as it began to lower. Her face, from her lips to her eyes, adopted a loving smile as the moon kissed the horizon. Her smile continued to grow in small ways that Pipsqueak could barely make out as the moon dipped further. Sometimes the changes in her smile were minute adjustments from the raising of her cheeks to an extra curl where her mouth met her cheek, at other times he caught a small blush, and sometimes her eyes sparkled more. Still, at other times Luna let out an audible chuckle or even a nodded. Pipsqueak only realized he had been staring at the Princess after the moon had finished setting and Princess Luna took a deep breath. “Well,” said Luna, “it’s not as flashy as a sunrise but it’s still a sight worth seeing.” Pipsqueak looked away from the Princess as the the sky brightened. Obviously, Princess Celestia would be raising the sun on the other side of the castle, but he wasn’t thinking about that as he remembered the warm, loving glow of Luna as she had lowered the moon. They sat in silence for a few minutes, content in each others company and the brightening colors around them. Eventually Luna spoke up. “I find that I am now quite hungry. Perhaps we should see ourselves to breakfast, my Prince?” “Oh, Mr. Tux brought me a crumpet and some cocoa after he woke me up. But I might be convinced to ‘ave a bit of cereal.” “Cereal it is then,” said Princess Luna as she lowered Pipsqueak off the balcony. As they walked back inside Pipsqueak felt himself shiver, his body expelling the last traces of early morning chill. Luna, however, didn’t seemed phased in the slightest and they enjoyed a pleasantly lonely, uneventful walk to the dining hall. The faint smell of baked goods had begun to pleasantly permeate the halls with promises of great things for the day ahead. Pipsqueak enjoyed a few deep sniffs as they walked. “Pipsqueak,” said Luna as he began sniffing the air, “are we reconsidering the choice of cereal this morning?” Pipsqueak smiled. “Do you already know me that well, Princess? Or do all your guests go through this?” “It is hard to miss your eyes growing in size but many guests often reconsider their morning meal after a few wafts of the royal bakery.” “A real wicked wolf I am. I ‘aven’t had proper prench bread in ages. I might ‘ave to ‘ave a dinnerplates worth.” Luna smiled as they continued to walk. “Would that be a favorite of yours?” “Mum isn’t much of a fan of makin’ it, but me and pap use t’have it every Sunday while we read the comics. Pap always kept his recipe a secret though, kept saying I’ll get it when I move out. Drives me up the wall sometimes, but it’s the best prench bread ever so I’m not complaining too hard. Though I s’pose your chef might be a tad better. I’ll ‘ave to try it ta be sure.” Luna nodded. “Prench toast is an excellent choice, though I recommend going light on syrup and sugar until you try it. The bakers make all the castle’s bread fresh daily, so the toast will only spend a few minutes between the oven and the batter. The cook also adds in a little cinnamon, vanilla, and a touch of powdered almond. He doesn't know that I know about the almond. He still thinks it’s a secret.” “Almond, on prench bread?” “It’s more of a compliment to the vanilla and cinnamon which hide the almond surprisingly well. If prepared right almond can complement or even adopt all sorts of flavors in many different ways.” Pipsqueak’s mind drifted to what the prench bread would taste like. He hadn’t ever had it prepared like that before. But he supposed if Princess Luna liked it then it couldn’t be all that bad. It didn’t seem to take nearly as long to walk to the dining room as it had taken for Pipsqueak to walk to his room the night before, and this time he was coming from further away. He even passed his room. Fortunately the quick passage of time made the smell wafting from the hall less torturous. By the time they arrived Princess Celestia and Princess Cadence were both seated at the table. Pipsqueak paused to bow to the Princesses before taking his seat which now lay across the table from Cadence. “Good morning,” greeted Cadence. “You must be Pipsqueak.” “Yes, Princess. It’s a pleasure to meet you.” “Ah, I see what you mean, Celestia. Even most of my crystal Ponies aren’t as on-the-ball as him. They’d be too nervous sitting with three Princesses.” Celestia and Luna nodded while Pipsqueak grinned at the compliment. “Good day, sir. May I take your order.“ Pipsqueak turned to see Tuxedo standing next to him. Pipsqueak hadn’t even notice him before he spoke. “Yes. I’ll have three pieces of prench bread with cinnamon, vanilla, and powdered almond mixed into the batter.” “Very good sir. Anything to drink?” “Hmmm. Some apple juice would be brilliant, actually.” “And for you, Princess?” Princess Luna was looking at Pipsqueak with a mischievous grin. “Oh, almond. On prench toast. Are you sure?” Pipsqueak paused for a second before he caught on to the game and smiled. “Oh yes, Princess. But it’s more of a compliment to the vanilla and cinnamon.” Out of the corner of his eye, Pipsqueak noticed that Celestia and Cadence had placed hooves politely over their mouths and were, quite expertly, containing giggles. It was the same look his mother used to get when she realized he was playing a joke on his father. “I’ll have that then, five sleeves please,” said Luna. “And a cup of strong black tea.” Tuxedo bowed as he spoke “Very good, Princess.” “Oh,” interrupted Celestia before Tuxedo could retried to fill the order, “That prench toast sounds splendid. Do you think you could add a piece for myself?” “Could you add one for me too?” asked Cadence. “Yes, your Majesties,” said Tuxedo before bowing once more and departing. All the ponies inconspicuously observed Tuxedo leaving, Pipsqueak being more conspicuous than the Princesses, before all four of them broke into small bouts of giggles. “Oh, thank heavens,” said Celestia trying to keep the volume down. “Luna and I have been trying to get a guest to order prench toast like that for ages.” “Yes,” said Luna. “But alas all the diplomats, statesmen, and business ponies we’ve invited always just ask for it the way the Princesses like it. And of course, clueing them in too much would ruin the fun.” Cadence managed to take a sip of her tea as she finally calmed down. “They even got me in on it a few months ago, no luck.” Pipsqueak smiled, proud that his childhood mischief was reflected in the princesses, even if he wouldn’t have explained it that way himself. “What?” came a distant yell. “Okay,” said Luna quietly. She gestured for the others at the table to lean in as if they were part of a great conspiracy. “Pipsqueak, in about ten minutes the chef will come out to deliver the food himself. Simply, how do they put it now,” she turned to Celestia, “play it along.” Celestia sighed but smiled good naturedly at Luna, “Play along. Pipsqueak. He really is an excellent chef, very creative when he feels challenged, but he works best when he thinks we don’t know his secrets.” “So,” muttered Pipsqueak as he scratched the back of his head. “Then why were you trying to get people to say how he did it?” Luna and Celestia sighed heavily before Luna answered. “Honestly it’s just a bit of fun. We know most of his ‘secrets’ but we don’t want him to know that we know. He takes a great deal of pride in his work. But, by having others ‘know’ some of his secrets it pushes him to do better. His pride drives him, but if he thinks he is unmatched then he doesn’t innovate as much. At the same time if we brought it up it’s not fair because we, well my sister and myself, have been around for millenia. It’s just not fair to compare our tastes to even the most noble and refined ponies, after all, we’ve tasted secrets that have died without ever being passed on. “But by having a stranger bring it up it reminds him that there are millions of beings around the world, creating things that he may not ever even dream of. It’s important to remind a world renowned craftspony of that from time to time. They might be the best, but that doesn’t mean someone else can’t do something better.” Pipsqueak turned to find Celestia and Cadence nodding before Celestia adopted a small grin. “Besides, it’s fun.” “Yes,” said Luna and Cadence in unison. Pipsqueak nodded. It seemed way too complex for him, but he guessed that if it was what the Princesses thought was best then he would play along. “Now Pipsqueak,” said Princess Luna as they all leaned back in their seats. “There are some things to go over for today.” Pipsqueak started as Tuxedo walked passed him to give Luna a small notebook. She nodded and opened the book as he backed away. “Now,” said Luna as she opened the book to a pre-marked page. “After our meals I will personally provide for you a tour of the castle. Just before your ceremony two reporters would like to ask you a few questions, nothing too complex, simply asking why you like Nightmare Night and the like. It is, of course, entirely up to your discretion as to whether or not you do this. I can vouch that these particular reporters will be very friendly.” Luna turned to Pipsqueak and waited for a response. “Oh,” said Pipsqueak as he realized that she was seeking his approval. “I, well, I s’pose that’d be okey. I mean, I’ve only been interviewed by student reporters before.” Luna nodded. “It’s a small story about a child and they’ve been made aware that they will only be allowed to question you as you wish it. You simply need to declare the interview over if you become uncomfortable and they will acquiesce without question.” Pipsqueak nodded, more to reassure himself than to respond to Luna, as the Princess turned back toward her itinerary. “After the interview, you will have a few minutes before your official acceptance into the royal family at half past ten. As I understand it, several of your friends will be in the crowd.” Pipsqueak had grimaced at the mention of friends being in the ‘crowd,’ but quickly smiled as Luna looked toward him and his attempt to pass off his nervousness. “Uh, sounds brilliant.” Luna paused before nodding, seemingly satisfied, and turned toward Tuxedo. “Sir, shall we assume that the toothpaste was suitably removed from Prince Pipsqueak’s ensemble?” Pipsqueak blushed and felt his stomach tumble as he noticed Celestia and Cadance politely stifle their giggles with their hooves. He also wondered if they had seen his reaction to the mention of being in a crowd. Tuxedo nodded. “Yes, Princess Luna.” “Good,” said Luna. “It is traditional for a pony being given such an honor to wear something of their station, your dress shirt and pants will be fine for that. After the ceremony we will make an an official visit to canterlot and inspect the soldiers at some point. While out in Canterlot we will attend a light lunch at the Mareway Café at our discretion before continuing with Canterlot or retiring to the castle. After that, we will return and prepare for the evening festivities, which will begin two hours before moonrise. I will need to step away for that period to review the decisions of parliament and dress in my costume, but will join you just before I raise the moon.” Luna closed the notebook and magically levitated it to Tuxedo. “Normally I keep a much more precise schedule, but seeing as today is more about fun than work I thought we’d leave it a bit more up in the air.” Pipsqueak nodded. “It sounds like a full day to me, Princess. I mean, I could probably spend a few days in Canterlot without trying. But are we not going to parliament at all?” Luna shook her head as several servants appeared and began placing plates of food and drink on the tables. Pipsqueak looked down and began to scrutinize his food as Luna continued. “Parliament tends to be either extremely boring or somewhat offensive. Half the aristocracy doesn’t even make sense half the time. Quite frankly I am glad you’re here so that I don’t have to attend.” “Yes,” said Celestia as she finished powdering her prench toast. Pipsqueak noticed that she didn’t use syrup. “My dearest sister elected for me to preside today. Though in her defence she did elect to take tomorrow in exchange.” Pipsqueak began cutting his own peace of prench bread. “Princess Luna, do you think we could at least stop by parliament at some point? I mean, I can’t very well be Prince for a day without at least stopping by to check it out.” Pipsqueak finished his question by placing his freshly cut piece of prench bread up to his nose and sniffing it. His nostrils were immediately assaulted with a variety smells from cinnamon, to vanilla, to butter, and what even a hint of what may have been the almond; even the egg was mixing in with the other flavors in such a way that one couldn’t quite tell which flavor would be stronger than the others. “Oh blimey,” said Pipsqueak with realization. “This is just like my fathers.” He took another sniff and was again mesmerized by the kaleidoscope of smells, “better, even.” Pipsqueak quickly took a bite into his mouth and closed his eyes at the even balance of taste. It wasn’t just the flavor that was well balanced. The eggy mix hadn’t soaked the bread heavily all the way through, allowing for a nice springy bite with a hearty finish rather than a mush of flavors. “My word, this is tops. It’s way better than pap’s.” Luna smiled, but waved her hoof to shush him moments before a portly earth pony in a white chef’s uniform strode up to the table and bowed. He didn’t wait for permission before bringing his head up to look at the royal diners. Princess Celestia nodded toward him as she nibbled her own piece. “Princesses,” began the chef before he turned towards Pipsqueak. “Prince. I do hope you find your meals enjoyable.” Pipsqueak could tell he was nervous as he leaned back from them, almost fearfully, though he kept his face stoic. “Hmmm,” mused Celestia. “I do believe, Chef Crouton, that this young colt asked for almond in his prench bread, and I asked for a sample for myself. Yet my prench bread tastes just like the prench bread you normally make. Am I to assume, then, that almond would be your secret ingredient?” Crouton nodded, never letting his face change though Pipsqueak noticed his tail had moved to between his rear legs. “Yes, Princess. I powder it and only add a little.” “Hmmm,” mused Celestia. “Oh, don’t sulk. There are millions of ponies out there who take an interest in the culinary arts. One family’s recipe matching your secret recipe isn’t a reason to sulk. If anything, I should expect you to spend the day experimenting to improve the recipe even more.” Crouton’s ears perked up and he puffed out his chest. “Yes, Princess. By tomorrow, I will have created a prench bread far above this one.” Pipsqueak noticed the eye contact Luna and Celestia made with each other before Luna dismissed the chef. Then he remembered the delicious prench bread in front of him and started eating, adhering to the fastest possible speed that etiquette would allow. The rest of the meal followed in occupied silence. When they were done, Luna had Pipsqueak return to the room to change into his nicer outfit and had Tuxedo escort him to the royal audience chamber. Pipsqueak was very impressed by the glass murals and Luna shared some of the stories as to how they came to be. Pipsqueak took a particular interest in the mural describing her own fall and redemption at the hooves of the elements of harmony. For her part, Luna found herself telling the tale with less reservation that she normally would. She chose to think on that as Pipsqueak walked off to look at the mural showing the redemption of Discord. Her ultimate conclusion was that Pipsqueak trusted her, and accepted all her faults unconditionally. He didn’t try to take advantage of her kindness or openness and she generally felt more free around the colt than with anypony other than her sister. Sadly, they did have a semblance of a schedule to keep and after several hours of Luna telling various stories about the murals they were forced to put off the rest of the tour in lieu of going over the coronation. When Luna felt confident that he understood his cues, she had him ushered to a side chamber for waiting dignitaries while the guests were ushered in. The waiting room was exquisite, fit for royalty in both size and beauty with it’s spacious seating area and several trees that were flowering, even in late October. Pipsqueak admiration was drawn to a crystal chandelier that dangled without any seeming connection to the ceiling. Many small white crystals seemed to revolve around and under three colored crystals, one green, another blue, and one red They slowly rotated at various speeds under what appeared to be a pure gold circlet. He turned as Luna entered with several earth ponies in hats and trench coats. One carried a camera and the other a pen and pad of paper. “Pipsqueak, these two are the reporters we spoke about, Perfect Flash and Inky Quill. They’d like to take a picture of you, ask you a few questions for the papers, and then afterwards they’ll take a special picture of you and me, just for us to keep.” Luna stepped behind Pipsqueak and reminded him, quite audibly, that “You may end the interview at any time. They are here as our guests, after all.” The two ponies, Perfect Flash with a camera and a Inky Quill with a pen and paper, nodded at Luna’s reminder. Pipsqueak shook their hooves and asked them to sit down. “Um,” said Perfect Flash, “Perhaps, we should get a few photos before we ask questions, then a few after. It will give us the best chance at getting the best picture.” “Sure, I guess,” said Pipsqueak as he looked around. “Where do you want it?” The reporter gestured to Pipsqueak’s right. “Just step to the side so we can get the chandelier and that lovely flowering tree behind you.” Pipsqueak nodded and stepped to the side while Luna stepped away to observe. “Like this,” he said as he lifted a hoof and forced a smile on his face. “Um, no. Perhaps, uh, perhaps you could think of some happy thoughts. You know, help the smile appear more natural.” “Like this,” said Pipsqueak through gritted teeth as he smiled a little bigger. “Oh, dear no. Um-” “Perhaps,” said Luna, “We should take our picture first. It might help.” “Ah, if that’s okay with you Pipsqueak?” said Perfect Flash. Pipsqueak nodded and Luna stepped next to him and flared her wings. “You know the secret to taking a good picture Pipsqueak?” asked Luna as Perfect Flash stepped back and adjusted his camera. “No, what?” he said through gritted, exposed, teeth. “Much like the adage for public speaking, it’s to picture the camera clothed. I prefer a suit and tie myself.” Pipsqueak could help but break out in a laugh at the absurd comment. He noticed the flash through his closed eyes and stomped his hooves as he continued to giggle. “Oh no! I had me eyes closed.” “Don’t worry, don’t worry,” said Perfect Flash. “It’s a perfect picture. I’ll have this developed and a copy will be sent to both of you. Now, do you think you are up to one by yourself?” Pipsqueak nodded as he wiped a laugh induced tear from his eye. “Ya, we can take the picture now.” Pipsqueak turned slightly and smiled as he remembered Luna’s comment. “And… Perfect,” said Perfect Flash as he took the picture. “He’s all yours, Inky.” Inky nodded. Pipsqueak looked at the stallion and noticed that several notes had already been taken. “Alright,” came the nasally voice from Inky. “First off, it’s a pleasure to meet you, Pipsqueak. A real pleasure. Now, why don’t you tell us what got you so interested in writing in to our dearest Princess Luna for the contest.” “Oh, well, that one’s easy now innit it. I wanted to meet Princess Luna again. She-” “Again you say? So you met the Princess before have you? Why don’t you tell us about that encounter.” Inky Quill’s pen scribbled as he spoke through the side of his mouth. “Yes, well. I met her in Ponyville, during the Nightmare Night’s celebration three years ago. She-” “Wooow, and here you are meeting her again, special guest of the first royal Nightmare Night celebration three years later. Fabulous, fabulous. That really is a touching story. Hmm, let me see here let me see. Ah, yes, what was it like when you first met the Princess.” “Inky,” said Luna. “I don’t really think-” “No, Princess,” interrupted Pipsqueak. “I mean, it’s okay. You'er right wonderful, remember.” Pipsqueak turned towards Inky Quill and looked him directly in the eye as he answered. “To be honest, it was a big surprise for all of us. She soared out of the night sky, pulled by two o’the biggest bat pony guards you ever saw in this gnarly lookin' charriot. And when she landed she ‘ad the loudest voice ever. It really scared us, it did.” “Scared you?” mumbled Inky quill around his darting quill. “What do you mean she scared you, exactly?” “Oh, well, it was Nightmare Night, wasn’t it, and then the Princess that was Nightmare Moon arrived and was really loud, almost angry. It was wonderful.” “Wonderful?” The quill stopped its scribbling and was placed to rest at the side of Inky Quill’s mouth. “But, if you were scared then how was it wonderful?” Pipsqueak stared at Inky Quill a moment before answering the seemingly obvious question. “Well, being scared is the whole point of Nightmare Night now, innit. And Princess Luna is really good at it. Load a fun chasin’ us around and poppin’ up ta give us a good scare. I can’t wait t’see what she’s got planned fer tonight.” Pipsqueak watched Inky Quill look at Luna, look back to Pipsqueak, put his pen down, and asked. “Would you say that you are friends with Princess Luna. Pipsqueak nodded without hesitation. “That tells me a whole lot more about you and our beloved Princess than I was hoping to get. Perfect, just perfect. Normally I’d press a bit more for the full story but this will already make a splendid third page story. Real short and sweet. And, well, I wouldn’t want to harrass our new Prince on his first day. Enjoy it kid, the only days that will be better will be when you have kids of your own some day.” “And grandkids,” added Perfect Flash. “And grandkids,” echoed Inky Quill. “With your permission would it be okay for Perfect to take a few photos during the ceremony?” Pipsqueak nodded. “I think that’d be okay.” “Excellent, excellent,” said Inky Quill. “I look forward to seeing you as our new Prince, Pipsqueak.” “Me too,” added Perfect Flash. “I think we’re done here. We’ll be in the front, just to the side of the crowd. See you, Prince.” “See ya, chaps,” said Pipsqueak as they departed. Luna began to follow them out, stopping just before she left to remind Pipsqueak that she’d be back in about ten minutes when all the guests were settled. Pipsqueak felt a familiar dropping in his stomach at the mention of guests, but he managed to keep a smile on his face as he waved Luna goodbye. Pipsqueak paced in the side room while he waited. He wasn’t nervous, or so he told himself. He was just contemplating how he wasn't bothered by the noise of the gathering crowd, and instead how he must have been eating too much to cause his stomach to feel the way he did. He paced to work off the food in his stomach. He heard a knock on the door and turned as Luna opened it and stepped in. “We are just seating the last of the guests. Do you feel like you are ready or would you prefer to go over the steps one more time?” Pipsqueak swallowed. “No, please. I, uh, I think I’d rather get this over. I mean, with, Princess.” Luna stepped into the room and closed the door. Pipsqueak became acutely aware of Luna as she walked over and sat a large, plush, pillow, patting the spot next to her. “Come here, Pipsqueak.” It wasn’t a request. Pipsqueak gulped as he walked over and sitting where he felt was far too close to the Princess. “Pipsqueak,” said Luna, “What do you think of when you think of crowds?” “Huh? Oh, well. I guess I think of going to a do- um, a party that is, or maybe a concert or somethin’. You know, crowd… things.” “Ah,” said Luna, nodding. “And what do you think of when presented with the idea of being in front of a crowd?” “Oh, well. I guess if I think about, I’m pretty worried that it’d go all pear shaped. I’d probably botch it up and make a right ruddy mess of things.” “Do you feel this way when presenting in groups at your school?” asked Luna. Pipsqueak scratched the back of his head. “Well, no. Of course not. But they’re me mates. It’s really different t’present in front of ponies I know.” “Well,” said Luna. “Some of those in attendance will be your friends.” Pipsqueak nodded. “Yeah, but, well, there’s still gonna be a bunch of other folks. And if I muss it up, then I won’t ever hear the end of it!” “Ah,” said Luna nodding. “You fear embarrassment.” “Well, yeah.” “Do you know that I’ve been embarrassed countless times by my own mistakes and the carelessness of others.” “You?” asked Pipsqueak. “But what was that, like, a thousand years ago?” Luna chuckled. “Well, yes, a thousand years ago I embarrassed myself most thoroughly when I became Nightmare Moon.” “What? No,” said Pipsqueak as he recoiled. “That wasn’t what I meant at all, Princess Luna. That was the nightmare that did that to you, that was.” Luna shook her head. “Ah, to you that’s how it seems, but to me that is my greatest shame and it was a tremendous embarrassment. You see, we all judge things differently. Many ponies think like you do, that I was possessed by some external force. But to some, including myself, it is viewed very differently. In fact, there are many ponies that still fear me for what I once did. In the end, however, what matters most when others form an opinion about you is their character, not yours.” Pipsqueak scratched his head again as he tried to comprehend what was being said. “You see, even if you go out there today and mess up, your friends will still be your friends. They might tease you for a bit, but it won’t be meant to cause you pain. On the other hoof, if you learn from the experience and are able to laugh with them you will find that you and they will grow closer.” Pipsqueak shook his head. “But what about the bullies at school? Or strangers? They won’t be trying to have a laugh with me at all and I really don’t want to deal with people talkin’ rubbish ‘bout me.” Luna tapped her chin for a moment. “Well, let’s look at it this way. You’re still a kid so no one is really going to judge you all that harshly. If they do then they would be the ones at fault. Additionally, remember what I said about the judgment for others about your mistakes reflect more on them. There is more truth to those words than just the surface meaning. For instance, if a bully keeps bothering you about this issue, then they don’t really have anything better to do. It means their lives are empty, which is truly a tragedy in it’s own right. I mean, can you imagine what your life would have to be like for you to go around making fun of others for their mistakes from weeks or months ago?” Pipsqueak scrunched his head in thought for a few moments. “You know what? I can’t.” “Then don’t fear those ponies, don’t take their words to heart. If anything, pity their words because it means that they have lives that are lacking compared to yours.” Pipsqueak sat in silence for a few minutes before speaking. “I don’t think I’m worried anymore. I’m ready when you are, Princess Luna. And, well, thanks for the pick me up, Princess.” Luna smiled. “Any time, my little pony. Now, if you are ready we can start.” Pipsqueak nodded. Luna nodded back one last time before turning and walking out the door, holding it open so that Pipsqueak could join her. They walked out behind a hanging tapestry that blocked their site from the audience. Pipsqueak stopped just before the attendance would have become visible and watched as Luna stepped forward. Immediately Pipsqueak became aware of the chatter dying down, though he hadn’t noticed the general hum of the audience before. The quick silence was followed by Luna bowing slightly toward the audience, which he imagined would be bowing back. Trumpets began to play as Luna stood up from the bow. Tall and proud as befit a Princess of Equestria, thought Pip. Luna waited for the last notes of the wind instruments to die down before addressing the crowd in a full royal Canterlot Voice. “Ladies and Gentlecolts. It is my pleasure as Princess of the Night to introduce you to the most recent addition to the royal family. As you all know I was saved four years ago from the living nightmare that was Nightmare Moon by the six Elements of Harmony. In the thousand years since my banishment the legends of Nightmare Moon grew and morphed into the yearly Nightmare Night Festival which is held in nearly every settlement, town, and city across Equestria and many outside it’s borders. This festival grew to mock the very nature of Nightmare Moon, creating joy from terror. “The first year I returned after that long imprisonment I, unfortunately, did not see the joy in that festival, only the terror. I was mortified that even after a thousand years and her defeat, ponies were still trying to appease the horror of Nightmare Moon and so I sought to end the festival once and for all. But the Elements of Harmony again stepped in, as did the children of ponyville.” Pipsqueak heard a number of foals cheer at the mention of Ponyville and he thought that he recognized some of the voices from school. Luna smiled at them warmly. “Yes, children.” She looked up with pride at the rest of the crowd. “For those who do not know the children of Ponyville are in the audience and have joined us for this celebration. Truly I am glad that I was able to invite them.” Pipsqueak felt his chest tighten as another round of cheers erupted and sever fillies and colts shouted up toward the Princes, “We love you, Princess Luna.” He hadn’t expected his entire school to be present. Luna continued, slowly at first to let the excitement die down. “And I love you. For it was you, the children of Ponyville that shared with me the joy of that night, and, in doing so helped me beat the terror that I still felt toward my own actions a thousand years ago. “It was the children, as much as the Elements, that helped me realize the meaning and purpose of the Nightmare Night festival and tonight that festival has come again. Only this time I will be the proud and joyous host of the first Royal Nightmare Night Festival.” A generous applause of stomping hooves echoed around the chamber with the foals jumping up and down to add as much noise as possible. Pipsqueak found that he had joined in at the same time, stomping his own hooves with the rest of the attendance, his own anxiety forgotten. It occurred to him how Luna’s speech was having a universal effect on the ponies in attendance. Luna waited for the applause to die down before continuing. “To honor the children that taught me the joy of this night I held a write in contest. Over twelve thousand children wrote in for the chance to be randomly chosen as the honorary guest for first Royal Nightmare Nights Festival, and one was selected as royalty for this day.” Pipsqueak began walking forward at the cue ‘royalty’ without even realizing it. As he stepped out in front of the audience he felt hundred of eyes turning toward him and he let himself smile as Luna continued. “Much to my surprise, the randomly selected colt was not only from ponyville, but was the child whom was most influential in my newfound understanding of the Nightmare Night Festival. And so, it is my honor to welcome Pipsqueak Burgundy Leviathan as the first ever special guest for the first Royal Nightmare Nights Festival and to welcome him into the royal family for this joyous day.” Princess Luna turned to Pipsqueak who bowed deeply to Luna and held the pose. Princess Luna levitated a foal sized crown over to Pipsqueak that had been brought forward by a unicorn guard. “By the power invested in me as one of Equestria's Royal Alicorn Princesses, I grant thee the title of Prince, with all the trappings and honor that accompanies such a position, until the sun rises tomorrow.” Pipsqueak felt the weight of the crown as it was placed securely on his head. “Rise, Prince Pipsqueak,” commanded Luna as she increased the volume of her Canterlot Voice. “Rise and gaze upon your subjects and love them as your own.” Pipsqueak pushed himself to a standing position and turned to see the crowd cheering his name. He smiled as he saw the first few rows in the crowd. In the center sat Princess Celestia with Princess Twilight and Princess Cadence on either side, flanked by the remaining Elements of Harmony. The rest of the first two rows, however, were occupied entirely by his elementary school class including his teacher, Ms. Cheerilee. Pipsqueak felt a flutter of fear rise in his chest along with the question ‘What if I mess up?’ But just as his fear began to pick up he remembered Princess Luna’s words. Picture them clothed. It was an old adage, used to distract foals who were afraid of public speaking. But Pipsqueak, much to his own amazement, found the comment comforting along with that fact this the ceremony was basically over. Despite the cheering, he managed to pick out a few shouts from his classmates and he called out to them with a raised hoof. “Ponyville Elementary.” This caused the cheering of the crowd to nearly double and Perfect Flash took picture after picture, flash after flash blinding Pipsqueak. Suddenly the foals from his class burst forward and up several stairs to crowd around him. They lifted him upon their shoulders and began cheering his name as they bounced him up and down. “Pipsqueak, Pipsqueak, Pipsqueak!” He saw Princess Luna beaming at him and, when she noticed that he was looking at her, she winked and he knew that he had nailed it. Pipsqueak felt like he was on top of the world and it was, unquestionably, the best moment of his life. But suddenly, Pipsqueak felt himself slip off to one side and away from the hooves that had been bouncing him up and down and he felt himself falling, bright lights from the flash of Perfect Flash’s camera confusing him farther as he bounced off his classmates. He threw his hooves out in a wild attempt to catch himself as the stairs approached faster and larger than he thought possible.
  17. I find a few unconventional things attractive/not attractive. I find pale skin very beautiful, not being racist, but very pale skin I just happen to find beautiful. I also think longer noses are beautiful, and wish I had that rather than a childish button nose. One last and very uncommon thing is I like guys that are around my height. Really tall guys are scary to me.
  18. Steel Accord

    Movies/TV Proxy Champions in Anime

    So here's a question I'd like to ask for those wiser than me in such matters. Why is it that in a lot of anime, the protagonist controls or somehow commands an external unit or a separate character to do their fighting? Pokemon, Digimon, Yu-Gi-Oh, Beyblade, Zatch Bell, Medabots, Gigantor, Hell if one is charitable about the idea of controlling any number of Mecha shows like Voltron, Gundam, and the Big O also qualify. Yes, I know it's not a universal, as we also have shows and magna like Dragon Ball Z, Inuyasha, One Piece, Yu Yu Hakasho, etc. It just seems remarkable because such sentiments don't exist in as much western media that wasn't influenced by anime and even if you do have a character that fights through another like a beastmaster who commands animals or a mastermind with a legion of robots, they're often either A ) villains using their proxies as minions or B ) the exception rather than the rule with the rest of the cast fighting more conventionally. So why is this? Is there a particular Japanese cultural concept that gives rise to this idea or is it just the nature of divergent creativity?
  19. I don't know if this is a topic already, but here it goes anyway. Do people from your area have a "label" so to say because they were from there. For example, I am from Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania. We call ourselves Skooks or Coal-Crackers because of our history of coal mining.
  20. Hey everypony!!! Do you remember eating candies/sweets that aren't originally from your home country. Here are mine: 1. Anything from Cadbury 2. Choco Nut/Hany (Filipino peanut chocolate): Even though it crumbles, the taste is mouthwatering and I once put it on ice cream and it even tastes better. 3. Nestlé Caramac: Really unique candy bar 4. Revels 5. Haribo Gummies: Really like how they come in different shapes, themes, and colors. I even tried Minion ones when I went to Europe. Honorable mentions: Mars Bar, European Milky Way, Milky Way Magic Stars, Walnut Whip, Smarties, Murray Mints, Yorkie Bar Hope I didn't make your mouths water
  21. Hi I run ExtraMana.com which is a site that reports on anime, manga, and videogames. I have several reporters on the site already who deal with reviews. So I'm looking for people who can report on anime, and manga news. I'm also looking for people who can report on the Japanese videogame company news http://www.ranker.com/list/top-japanese-game-developers/el-gamer-grande A couple of 300 word+ articles or more per week would be ideal. If you're interested you can contact me at: extramana@aol.com it's the same email you'll find on the contact page of my site. You can also ask any questions in this thread. Anyone who is on reddit if you could give me a thumbs up for these threads I've created to help look for recruits for my site it would be appreciated. http://www.reddit.com/r/anime/comments/2las8i/extramana_looking_for_anime_reporters/ manga reddit http://www.reddit.com/r/manga/comments/2lath4/extramana_looking_for_manga_reporters/ JRPG reddit http://www.reddit.com/r/JRPG/comments/2laund/extramana_looking_for_jrpg_reporters/
  22. Equestria is a culture, and some traditions and customs from it are very different from ours. Can you list down as many specific social customs that are found or practiced in this country of Equestria? (Bonus: Are nose-booping, bro/sis-hoofing, breaking into song, and constant snuggling counted)
  23. For example, the Bronies can be like Mongols/Huns, while 4chan can be the Roman Empire. Now, tell me any fanbase (from Star Wars to Twi-hards), and try to identify what historical culture they may best reflect.
  24. Other than the unusually-attractive characters, the way they (boys and girls in their high school life) are portrayed, be it stereotypical or Mary-Sue'd, can be a good place to research gender roles and norms and stereotypes. Don't you think? hopefully I don't get too caught up with the girls, though ...
  25. You are sitting by a fountain in a park on a sunny day. Next to you, a teenage girl, naturally pink-haired and dressed in a blue Mongolian outfit (despite being white-skinned), pouts and curses away. When you ask her, "what's the matter?", those are the things she mentions to you: * in her country, people with natural pink hair (or any "odd colors") are considered freaks. In the pinkos' case, they are viewed as party-going psychopaths (her ancestors got the condition from a lab accident) * due to this, she was chosen to play as her country's ironic folk heroine: a pink queen who battles monsters. Doing so should have been considered "patrotism", albeit in a mocking way. And she is one of the best actresses and folk dancers in her school! What advice would you give to her? (bonus: her country likes trains)