twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
It's Hearth's Warming Day, a day for traveling house to house, singing on doorsteps, sometimes in costume, and getting invited inside for snacks and stories. Each household prepares a small story of something fun or happy that happened to them in the last year and the stories get collected and printed the next day in a special holiday edition of the Ponyville Express.

I left Spike in charge of the TreeCastle to go caroling with Rainbow Dash, Scootlaloo, Fluttershy, Rarity and Sweetie Belle. Spike is great at whipping up snacks and he loves to talk, so he got a lot of attention. Applejack and Pinkie, along with Granny Smith, Big MacIntosh and Apple Bloom, were also out caroling for most of the afternoon and we met up with them a few times, but we didn't combine groups. Some ponies are nervous, and we would have been a herd of eleven. That's a lot of neighbors all at once in a small house.

We managed the carols quite well, with Rarity, Fluttershy and Big MacIntosh doing harmonies, Sweetie Belle singing enthusiastically on key, Scootaloo singing enthusiastically off key, and the rest of us somewhere in between. To feel comfortable, Fluttershy wore a deep cape with the hood all the way up and she kept to the back.

Houses with only one pony often had a "gone caroling" sign on their door as they can't be both places at once. Or if they're shy. Like Fluttershy, shy ponies may prefer to blend in with their friends and family going door to door, especially if everpony is going in costume.

We visited quite a few houses over the course of the afternoon. Sweetie Belle liked caroling so much we didn't always stop inside for sharing stories. That suited Fluttershy, she didn't have to take off her cape. Our last stop was Sweet Apple Acres and after a hot cup of apple cinnamon tea I headed back home.

Night was falling and groups of carolers were knocking on doors and laughing in the streets. Spike was waiting for me, grinning ear to ear. Now that I think of it, leaving him alone to weave funny stories for the guests may not have been a great idea. I have a feeling that what I'll find printed tomorrow in the Ponyville Express may have been embellished.

I hear more carolers singing at the door! I'd better trot on down there and lend a hoof and an ear.
twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
The play was a success! Pinkie's set design was dazzling, Rarity's hoofwork sparkled and the actors were inspired! The poise and clarity as they delivered their lines, larger than life, giants on stage... it was like we were there, a thousand years ago, reliving a time before Equestria.

The Windigos were terrifying, Chancelor Puddinghead was hilarious, and the division between the tribes was heart wrenching. It was an emotional seesaw ride to end all emotional seesaw rides. We sang! We in the audience and the cast and crew were one being. The thunderous pounding of our hooves made the actors bounce on stage as they took their bows.

I was so drained. Rarity's mascara traced grey rivers down her white cheeks but she did not care. The audience burst out the doors, like the Hall was just too small to hold the joy that they felt. We joined the cast and crew party upstairs. Everypony was so excited, talking all at once, I couldn't make out what anypony was saying but it didn't matter, I could read the joy in everypony's eyes. And Pinkie was just walking on air.

I am still drained. I am going now to sleep the sleep of foals, washed clean of all my cares.
twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
Today is Hearth's Warming Eve!

It is now the depth of winter, almost three whole weeks before Winter Wrap Up. This is a time when the bounty of our autumn stores are thinning out, cabin fever is setting in and the deep cold reminds us of the time when Windigos nearly froze pony society. It is time to relive the Hearth's Warming, and tomorrow, all across Equestria, ponies will be doing exactly that.

To light that spark in pony hearts, we have the Hearth's Warming Eve play. It brings everypony into one room, like the cave that sheltered the three pony races that founded Equestria. Together we relearn the lesson of harmony. Together we relearn the importance of friendship and cooperation. And together we share the Hearth's Warming tale, we laugh at our mistakes and we raise our voices as one and we sing.

The fire of Friendship lives in our hearts
As long as it burns we cannot drift apart
Though quarrels arise, their numbers are few
Laughter and singing will see us through (Will see us through)
We are a circle of pony friends
A circle of friends we'll be to the very end!

I'd best trot off to Town Hall to oversee the final preparations, it's showtime in just a few hours.
twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
This evening we had a full dress rehearsal. All the roles are being played by Ponyville ponies, as usual, and Mayor Mare is the narrator. Most of them have done this before and all of them have watched the play every year since they were fillies. Every pony knows the Hearth's Warming play by heart, all the more motivation to get every line perfectly! They did not disappoint. Everything is ready, on schedule and within the budget. Tomorrow is Hearth's Warming Eve.
twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
The scenery elements are all ready and the paint is dry. Most of the day was dedicated to a dry tech rehearsal in which set pieces were moved on and off scene and the costumes and scenery were evaluated in a costume parade under the lights and filters. The fly ponies tested the cables and Pinkie's Windigo spinner and I had a close look at Rarity's Windigos. They're gigantic figures of gossamer, sequins, lace and felted wool and when they're pulled they look like they're really flying.

Toe-Tapper and Torch Song are satisfied with the acoustics and they're having another choral practice this evening.
twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
Three days to go before this Hearth's Warming play goes live! Toe-Tapper and Torch Song had another dress rehearsal scheduled for this evening. This one included the bit players and was followed by choral instruction. The full cast will sing the Heart Carol together at the end and their voices have to be clear, harmonious, synchronized and the sound has to carry. Every pony in the entire Hall will join in (it's pony tradition), following the lead of the ponies on stage. It's the peak of every Hearth's Warming Eve. With the entire Hall singing on beat you can feel the power of the herd vibrate to your very core. It's a magical moment.
twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)

Pinkie Pie gave me this snap shot of me that she'd taken in the "Red Room". Amazingly, there's no paint splatters on it. The illumination/image transfer spell is still a bear, I hope the granular matrix is well regimented and not too runny or merged.

The sliding panels Pinkie was working on are nearly all painted. Most will hang from the catwalks mid-stage, changing the look of the scene and giving it an illusion of greater depth. Pinkie has also set up a pair of "party cannons" behind the scene. They're there to fire confetti and streamers at the very end of the play to punctuate the celebration of harmony between the three pony races. She would have liked to fire cupcakes into the crowd but that was beyond our budget. And Applejack pointed out that getting a cupcake in the eye might put a damper on the fire of friendship for most ponies.
twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
Pinkie is busy painting all the scenes and panels for the Hearth's Warming Eve play. She paints fast but there is a downside. This afternoon she was looking like she had dumped all her buckets of paint on the stage and then rolled in it. Pinkie hadn't noticed until Applejack pointed out that she was starting to leave paint splatters everywhere. Rainbow Dash suggested she could go on display at the Manehattan Museum of Modern Art as a living Jack Foallack painting. Pinkie thought that was hilarious and rolled on the ground laughing. Leaving a pony-sized Jack Foallack print on the floor. Rarity was appalled. It took an hour to wash all that paint out of her hair. Now Pinkie paints in a full body cloak that Rarity made for her.
twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
Less than one week to go before Pinkie Pie's Hearth Warming Eve production goes live! She's nervicited, which isn't really a word, more of a pinkicism. Pinkicism isn't a word either, but it should be.

The stage structure is finished. Pinkie is hard at work repainting the old hanging elements as well as the new ones being built by the construction crew. The crew is now focused on the details, like hanging the projectors and pulleys, building mobile platforms and staircases, installing rails for the sliding panels, and stringing up the hoop for the windigos that Rarity is sewing. There is a bit of a delay, Rarity ran out of white sequins, but they should arrive tomorrow.

Now that most of the paint has dried, Toe-Tapper and Torch Song have called in the mane cast for a dress rehearsal tonight.

Everything is still on time and on budget!
twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
Rarity has finished the costumes! That mare is efficient. Pinkie Pie's Hearth's Warming Eve concept calls for flying Windigos above the stage, and not on poles carried by cloaked stagehoof ponies. Pinkie's Windigos will be suspended, giving the actors a lot more room on stage. These puppets have to be airy and light and so Rarity is again putting her couture skills to the task.

Pinkie's plan is for three gossamer Windigos to circle menacingly above the actors, going lower and faster as the players bicker and fight. Following Pinkie's rough concept art, Rarity is putting together ghostly white horse shapes that are both glittery and cruel. Rainbow Dash has designed airfoils and ballast to get the Windigos to float through the air on an even keel. What Pinkie lacks in carpentry and structural design she makes up for in building contraptions of strings, gears and pulleys. Pinkie built a pedal powered crank up on a catwalk to spin a hoop from which the Windigos will dangle on strings. Gears and pulleys make the big hoop go round and another fly pony is in charge of raising and lowering it into view.

The running crew is mostly satisfied with the layout of the catwalks, projectors, changing room, storage spaces and the access corridors below and behind the stage. Toe-Tapper and Torch Song are handling the acoustics. The stage shape amplifies the sound and the pleated curtains lining the walls of the Hall dampen the echoes and crowd noises.

To the Spa

Feb. 17th, 2015 07:03 pm
twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
I joined Fluttershy and Rarity at the spa today. For Rarity and Fluttershy this is a regular event. I just felt the need for some soothing mud, a hoof trim and a long hot soak.

Rarity has been hard at work. She's pinned all the patterns, recalled the entire cast one by one to make adjustments to the fitting, and now she's sewing it all together. Zecora teaches me breathing exercises and Rarity teaches pacing. Taking break at spa does a lot to refresh a pony.

That sauna was so hot I feel like I'm going to radiate heat and sunshine for a week.


Feb. 14th, 2015 11:04 pm
twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
After checking in on the stage construction today, I dropped by Rarity's Boutique. Inside was a flurry of activity. There was cloth flying everywhere, scissors snipping off pieces, ribbons and buttons scurrying about like live things, pins chasing down hems, and in the eye of this storm, Rarity. She was in perfect focus, "in the zone" as she likes to say. It was beautiful to see.

After supper this evening I challenged Spike to a game of Piaffle. Piaffle is a word game where you select seven letters at random and you use those letters, plus a letter on the board to spell out the longest word you can. It is a really fun game! For extra excitement we play the Olden Pony Runes version. I have a copy of Samule Lawnson's Whinnypiafficon of the Equestrian Language, the first lexicon to be organized by letter, not subject. It was comissioned by Princess Celestia centuries ago as a means to standardize spelling. It was a revolutionary idea! It must have been so exciting, fitting ancient runes to sounds in a logical, organized way! Olden Pony Runes eventually went the way of the Royal Canterlot Voice. Inking notes in griffin-style scratches, called griffonage, is much faster than stamping out runes.
twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
It was sunny but really cold today and the wind made it a biting cold. It was really starting to nip at my hocks on my trot down to the Town Hall to see how Applejack's crew was getting along. Toe-Tapper and Torch Song were upstairs going over the props and making sure we had enough make-up. It's going well.

Even bundled up in my red and gold horse blanket I was cold cantering back home. Ponies have started to put up festive garlands, candy canes and decorated trees but I didn't stop to admire them. I could practically feel Windigos blowing down my neck. Well not really. It takes a lot of hard feelings and bickering to summon Windigos.

So much of Equestria's ecology is chained to the combined mood and will of all ponies and so much can go so very wrong. That's why we have the Hearth's Warming holiday, to bring cheer to ponies when winter would have us stable ourselves away. Ponies change the seasons but ponies can also bring the Windigos. We can be our own worst enemies sometimes.
twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
The local supplies for the Hearth's Warming play project have been acquired and are already getting put to use. Applejack is building the framework for stage, following the shape of the old structure with a few improvements to aid cast and crew movements behind the scene. It will be in interconnected modular parts for easy break up and storage. Rarity has measured all the actors and Pinkie will start painting her scenes tomorrow. Thirteen days to go.

The snowflakes this morning were really big and fluffy stellar dendrites, with a few flat and reflective stellar dendrites mixed in. Very neat!
twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
I presented the numbers to Mayor Mare around mid-morning today and the budget for the Hearth's Warming stage, costumes and props renovation has been approved. We'll be recycling a lot of the old props, of course, but some items will be refurbished to fit in with the design team's vision. I gave the good news to Rarity, Pinkie Pie and Applejack and they sent out their orders right away. They're all old hands at this and they'll get good prices.

Rarity has started to measure the first actors and Applejack's crew are making frames and spreading the canvasses so Pinkie can paint her scenes.
twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
We had our first technical crew meeting this morning for the Hearth's Warming production. It went well. Present were Rarity and Pinkie Pie (direction and design team), Applejack (construction), Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash (quality control, lighting and ergonomics) and Toe-Tapper and Torch Song of the Pony Tones. Toe-Tapper and Torch Song are the stage managers and they are in charge of the actors. I was there too.

We met on the second floor of the Town Hall, in a room just off from one of the balconies. It has a low table, blackboards and cushions to rest on and it is ours to use as our headquarters.

Pinkie arrived with a mock-up of the stage that she had built as well as concept art for the scenery. Rarity brought a portfolio of costume designs she had made and she explained how they complemented and fit in with Pinkie's vision in both color and style.

Applejack's crew has almost finished tearing down the old venue and she's about ready to build. Using Pinkie's mock up, Applejack immediately started to sketch out blueprints for the new stage and to calculate the supplies she'd need.

Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy copied down Pinkie's concept art and took notes on the mobile elements and the systems of pulleys, rails and lights they would require. After we had concluded our meeting, they met with the running crew to work out the practicalities of making Pinkie's concept a reality.

The stage managers are tasked with meeting with the actors this evening, getting them up to speed with the new scenery and scheduling them to meet Rarity to get fitted for the new wardrobe.

Tomorrow morning I should have lists of all the materials needed by the three production teams and the estimated cost. With that I can formulate a budget and get it approved by the mayor.
twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
Today I met with the mayor to talk about Pinkie's Hearth's Warming stage, set and wardrobe renovation. She agreed I could have the job of organizing the ponies and keeping everything on time and within the budget. I've already begun to schedule meetings for the entire crew. I've put Fluttershy and Dash in charge of making sure Pinkie's new set elements respect the logistics and ergonomics of moving them quickly and safely during the show. Our first meeting is tomorrow. I can't wait!
twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
I felt like eating horseshoe fries and hay burgers today so I headed over to the Hay Burger, where Pinkie works. She was on her lunch break (an hour after the noon day rush) and we ate together.

Now that the mid-winter food fest is over, she's working on her set design ideas for the Hearth's Warming Eve play. The old stage is in need of extensive repairs and the mayor would like to have it renovated or replaced. The set is in a similar state. Pinkie is redesigning much of it and she asked Rarity to redesign the wardrobe. Applejack is on board for the construction job.

Hearth's Warming Day happens three weeks before Winter Wrap Up. It's a way to bring ponies out of their homes and to come together during the coldest part of the winter. It's also a reminder that spring is on its way.

Pinkie and Rarity have been working together so that the sets and the costumes complement each other, all the while respecting the time period and the light but serious nature of this morality play. Pinkie is very excited but planning out all the tasks is starting to get complicated. That's now my job. We have two and a half weeks, we'll make it.

I asked for news of Maud's rocktoral studies. We ended up chatting about rock farming in winter. Rocks never sleep, so the Pies sweep away the snow to keep up production. Pinkie was over to visit the farm a few weeks ago. They spent the evening in warm and fuzzy silence by the fire, watching the hearth stones glow and feeling the pulse of the bedrock through the ground.

Lunch break over, Pinkie broke off and quick as a flash, she was back to serving. I returned home to my studies.

I sure like horseshoe fries and hay burgers, but I don't think they like me. I'll go make a mint tea to calm my stomach.


twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
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