Zen and the Art of Gazebo Repair
- Written by Katie Cook, Drawn by Andy Price, Colored by Heather Breckel
For Big Macintosh, today was supposed to be another quiet day on the farm, but when Granny Smith tells him that the gazebo needs fixing, he finds he's run all out of nails, and needs to make a trip into town. Unfortunately, today's the Summer Wrap-Up Festival, and the fairgrounds stand between him and the hardware store. As he tries to make his way though, Big Mac is waylaid by numerous citizens of town - the Cutie Mark Crusaders on another attempt to get their cutie marks with a fireworks launcher, the Cakes to help him babysit their foals for a few minutes, and even Princess Luna drags Big Macintosh to be her partner for the game events. Eventually, he reaches the hardware store - only to find it both closed down for the fair, and in ruins after being hit by one of the CMC's accidental launches.
Determined to find nails, Big Mac returns back into the fray of the festival, now looking for Lugnut, the hardware store owner, running into more antics from the various Ponyville citizens, as well as avoiding another CMC disaster. As the sun sets, he has yet to find Lugnut, and starts to head for home considering the day wasted. Zecora suggests that he think about all the memories of the rest of the day, and he realizes that while he didn't find his nails, he did have a good time. She also points out that she saw Lugnut back at his store. Big Mac finds him there and learns that the store's supply of nails melted when the fireworks hit it. Lugnut recalls that Apple Bloom should have some to spare, since she took all the nails on the farm to build the CMC's fireworks launcher. He gives Big Mac some nails from the launcher, which he has since dismantled, and promises to deliver some lumber to the farm the next day. A confused Big Mac returns home and finds the gazebo in ruins, the latest and last victim of the CMC's pyrotechnics.
These issues contain examples of:
- Abhorrent Admirer: Sweetcream Scoops to Big Macintosh, as usual.
- Based on his expressions and thought, he defines Luna as this by the end of #9.
- Fleetfoot escapes the first aid tent to stalk Big Mac in #10.
- Tealove joins the fray during #10 as well, and Photo Finish does the same on her own special way.
- Accidental Dance Craze: Big Macintosh is mistaken as the lead dancer of Sapphire Shores's crew and dragged up her float for her show. Since he's already up there, Mac decides to try looking for Lugnut among the crowds and stands on his hind legs to get a better view: the rest of the dancers copy his movements as the music plays and eventually the entire thing catches on. The dancers decide to call it "The Navigator" and it spreads like fire among Ponyville.
- Ascended Meme:
- Lyra walks away from Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon's advice booth with a thought bubble, a picture of a chair with a red "no" symbol over it. Ever since Lyra's appearance in "Dragonshy" where she's sitting on one of the benches like a human rather than a pony, the fandom has tagged Lyra as wanting to be more human-like or at least sit in more seemingly awkward positions that would be normal for humans but odd for ponies.
- A mailbox outside of Derpy's "house" (the cocoon she was trapped in back in Issue #1) reads "D. Hooves", affirming her fan-given last name.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: Not even a strongpony like Mac beats Celestia in hoofwrestling.
- Big Ball of Violence: Fleetfoot and Tealove get into one over Big Mac. Naturally, he isn't paying attention.
- Big Eater: During the single-page chart showing Big mac's progression through the fair, he stops at three different food booths, each time eating an absurd amount of food/drink.
- Breather Episode: After two arcs dealing with supernatural threats, this one just focuses on characters going about their business.
- Brick Joke:
- Early in #9, Sweetie Belle mistakenly sets off the fireworks early. It's alluded to that the launch seemed to cause some sort of damage, but only at the end is it revealed that the hardware store Big Mac has been looking for has burned down due to the earlier launch. This is even mentioned by Scootaloo, stating that the fate of the firework "ball" is the "future's problem".
- The gag itself gets repeated in issue #10, when Snips sets off the CMC's fireworks catapult again. At the end of the issue it turns out that it hit the gazebo Big Mac was trying to repair.
- On the very first issue, we get a quick view of Time Turner staring at a fobwatch with a surprised expression. On this issue he's back, freaking out about how "the watch is him."
- Burning with Anger: Big Mac's reaction after failing the ball-throw twice.
- Butt-Monkey: Big Mac all throughout the story arc.
- Call-Back: Spike and Angel don their vaudeville-like outfits and fake mustaches (used for narrative in Issue #3) to provide the dramatic cliffhanger (and a terrible pun) for Issue #9.
- In #10, Big Mac wins a stuffed pony modeled after Pinkie's Paper-Thin Disguise from the first comic arc.
- Which he then passes off to Fleetfoot, who has escaped from the first aid tent (where she was taken after her crash-landing in #9) and is now stalking him.
- Derpy apparently now lives in the cocoon she was trapped in back in Issue #1 during the Changeling invasion.
- Cat Fight: Fleetfoot and Tealove get into one over Big Mac. One panel even has them pose as cats hissing at each other.
- Chick Magnet: Big Macintosh. Luna herself is charmed by and openly expresses how much she likes him and enjoys his company (although she's too focused on winning the games to display any romantic interest. At least until she spends a ferris wheel ride with him).
- City of Weirdos: Invoked in the cover for issue #9 by Andy Price.
- Clueless Chick Magnet: Big Macintosh never notices the looks and whistles he gets from young mares, famous celebrities and even the Princess of the Night during his search for nails. Inverted in the case of Sweetcream Scoops, which Big Mac states in his internal dialog "DANGER! Abort! Abort!"
- Comically Missing the Point: The CMC, to no surprise. Their first fireworks conflagration flies off into the unknown. Scootaloo's first thought is basically "where are we going to get more fireworks?"
- Continuity Cameo: Given that this is an issue dedicated to the background characters, these should come as no surprise:
- Donut Joe is running a stand at the summer fair.
- Derpy Hooves and Time Turner are next to the Muffins booth which naturally doubles as a Shout-Out to Doctor Who.
- Octavia Melody and Parish Nandermane have their cart stolen, unknown to them, by the CMC.
- Lyra is taking advice from Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon about her habits of sitting like a human.
- Flax Seed, from the Rarity micro-comic, is running a stand, and Roseluck is carrying a bag with the "F&W" (Flax and Wheat) logo that Rarity designed for them.
- Mr. Waddle announces the start of the games; in continuing from his appearance in "Hearts and Hooves Day", he is apparently a pony of the cloth.
- DJ Pon-3 is off singing to herself a song on her iPod-like device in issue #9, and DJ-ing the Hoedown in issue #10.
- Derpy later appears on a sign on Spike's theater prop.
- One of the barber ponies is Barber Groomsby, who was introduced in one of the more recent "G4" blindbag waves.
- Cherry Jubilee and other residents from Dodge are on one float.
- Sapphire Shores is leading a musical act on one of the floats.
- Peewee the phoenix chick is hanging around with Spike.
- Photo Finish discovers the beauty of Big Mac as a photography subject.
- Flim and Flam are trying to sell "Parasprite Away", at a "bargain price" of 5 bottles for the cost of 7.
- Discord and Queen Chrysalis appear as both part of Spike's figurines, and on a photo posing board.
- Other appearances include Pipsqueak, Snips, Snails, Wild Fire, Cranky Doodle Donkey, and Rarity's parents. The usual Cavalcade of normal show background ponies (e.g. Sweetie Drops/Bon Bon, Minuette, Golden Harvest, etc.) all appear as bystanders throughout.
- Continuity Nod: Big Macintosh was called on by the CMC to repair the gazebo from "Hearts and Hooves Day".
- Trixie has set up a puppet show for the kiddies retelling the Ursa Minor incident in a very different way, mentioned by Big Mac himself.
- Princess Luna arrives to have fun at the Summer festival, showing that while she still has a few odd mannerisms such as the antiquated speaking style, the lessons of "Luna Eclipsed" have stayed with her.
Princess Luna: You there, thou hast the appearance of being physically fit and increasing my chances of winning. Come forth. If you don't mind, please.
- And she even gives a Fluttershy-ism after one rather loud demand to Big Mac:
- The Cake Twins are still exhibiting extraordinary magic and flight abilities for baby foals.
- Parade balloons of in-universe fictional characters Daring Do and the Mysterious Mare-Do-Well are part of the parade.
- Summer Wrap-up starts the next day, including the ponies in their duty vests, a song that matches the phrasing of "Winter Wrap-Up" and a panel that recreates one scene from the show.
- Big Mac gives a sidelong Death Glare to Flim and Flam.
- Couldn't Find a Lighter: Sweetie Belle lights the match by striking it against her chin!
- Crash-Into Hello: Fleetfoot meets Big Mac this way.
- And in the next issue, Tealove.
- Crocodile Tears: Spike uses this to guilt trip ponies into buying his merchandise. Given the massive pile of bits behind him, it's been a good strategy for him.
- A Day in the Limelight: For Big Macintosh.
- Deconstructive Parody: Luna, at least for Big Mac. At first he likes her, but soon her personality wears thin and he sneaks away to continue his search for nails.
- The Ditz: Sweetie Belle is either this, or indulging in pyromania.
- Does Not Know His Own Strength: Big Mac tried a "test your strength" machine. It cost him ten bits to repair the broken bell.
- Easy Come, Easy Go: Exaggerated. Big Mac wins 5 bits playing with horse shoes, only to break the strength hammer swing game, costing him 10 bits.
- Explosive Stupidity: Pretty much expected with the CMC and their attempts to get their cutie marks by setting off their fireworks. Sweetie Belle eventually does this twice by lighting their stacks as a result of mishearing the code words from the other crusaders. They don't get hurt but they do wind up destroying the hardware store and the gazebo.
- Expressive Shirt: Luna wears one while competing along with Big Mac during the festival which constantly changes lines like "Blame my sister!", "Dream Girl", and "Best". It's like the artist has a certain fascination with the character. There's even a Stealth Pun in there: "Dream Girl"? She certainly is one.
- Fantastic Time Management: During the splash page of Big Mac's trip through the fair, he stops by the Science Fair tent. He ends up sucked into a timewarp, saves Ponyville from a bunch of Mutant Apes, then arrives back five minutes before he left.
- Flying Brick: Luna can pull off a Wheel of Feet with a full-grown stallion lashed to one leg, and she can overpower four mares in a tug-of-war with just her neck (though Big Mac was clearly helping with that one).
- Fourth-Wall Portrait: Andy Price's ponysona draws a caricature of Big Macintosh which looks more like a real-life horse than the cartoon style, which he tries to sell to Mac.Big Macintosh: Nope.
- For Want of a Nail: Big Mac's empty nail box is labeled "'For Want Of' Brand Nails". Also the principle driver for the story as, well, Big Mac needs more nails to fix the gazebo.
- Funny Background Event: When Big Mac is meandering through the fair on the splash page, you can see signs directing him to the wood crafts tent, where he hopes to find nails. Even a sign mid-way through promises "Nail art" at the tent. When he gets there, all he finds is another sign "Sorry, all out of nails".
- Fleetfoot's "stalking" of Big Mac in Issue #10, which then extends to Tealove and their eventual catfight over Big Mac.
- Furry Reminder: The carnival game busker even points out that it's hard for a pony to hold a baseball, and Big Mac has problems throwing it until he resorts to a well-placed buck that destroys the game stall.
- Game-Breaker: In-universe, half of the competitors at the fair are shooting angry looks at Luna and Big Mac, clearly aware that the Princess now has an advantage they can't possibly beat (if they could even beat her to begin with).
- In issue #10, Celestia is even stronger. Big Mac is hoof-wrestling against her, but despite his own Super Strength, he's straining as hard as he can, and Celestia's just smirking.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar:
- Coincidence or fandom nod, but Fleetfoot does the infamous "Wing Boner" stance, pounding heart and all, when she notices how handsome Big Mac is.
- Sweetcream Scoops and her kisses booth. Look at the mountain of gold behind of her.
- One of the booths says "Guess your weight, age or sex", granted, it is referring to guessing their gender, but still...
- Hilarity Ensues: When the CMC attempt to get their cutie marks using a firework launcher.
- Imagine Spot:
- Jerkass Has a Point: Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon ask Big Mac why he wears his bulky, heavy yoke all the time, even when he's not doing any farm work.
- Lame Pun Reaction: The pets to Spike's 'nail' jokes, while he's doing the narrating.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: The Sound Effect "BOOM" when the fireworks go off in the distance appears physical as the CMC hold on to its letters to keep them from flying off from the blast of the explosion.
- Love at First Sight: Fleetfoot falls for Big Mac as soon she meets him. The concussion she received after falling from the sky also helped a bit.
- Same with Tealove. Again, the concussion she got from bumping into him probably helped.
- Lower-Deck Episode: Starring Big Macintosh and the other citizens of Ponyville. While the Mane 6 are present (see Mythology Gag below), they appear in the background.
- Manipulative Bastard: Spike, in running his "Kissy Kissy Booth + Crafts" stand. He gives a rather sad tale of not being able to sell his homemade figures, not to mention his "debonair smooching", basically conning Big Mac into buying a figure. In a second, Spike quickly affirms no refunds and tosses Big Mac's money on the rather large stash behind him.
- Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Luna and Big Macintosh fit this trope like a glove. While Luna is loud, assertive, athletic and the goddamn Princess of the Night, Big Mac is quiet, shy, polite and very gentle.
- Meaningful Background Event: Time Turner freaking about his fobwatch, revealing he is The Doctor. Now his previous freakout on the 1st issue watched by one of the Observer Ponies makes more sense.
- Mondegreen: Sweetie Belle mishears the line "pyrotechnics" as "pirates", the code word to start the fireworks display. Later she mishears the new code word ("Frutie Barks") as "Cutie Marks" and launches another barrage of fireworks. The comic blatantly hints she will do it a third time as the new new code word ("Peaty Mells") sounds almost exactly as her name, though her friends are smart enough to take the matches from her before this can happen.
- She still manages to do it again somehow by Issue #10, burning down the craft tent.
- Mundane Made Awesome:
- The Big Mac/Bulk Biceps conversation.Bulk Biceps: Hey you! Are you ready to buff up?
Big Macintosh: ...Nope.
Bulk Biceps: Yeah!
Big Macintosh: ...Nope.
Bulk Biceps: YEAH!
Big Macintosh: ...Nope.
Bulk Biceps: YEAH!
Big Macintosh: ...Nope.
Bulk Biceps: Well, okay, you have a nice day!
Big Macintosh: ...Yup.
- Luna's desire to win the Summer fair games. When she takes off her hoofboots and ties her mane into a pony tail, you know she's serious.
- Celestia is easily winning a hoof-wrestling match with Big Macintosh.
- The Big Mac/Bulk Biceps conversation.
- Mythology Gag: During Mac's rounds through the fair, the reader can see Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, Rarity, Fluttershy, and Twilight mentioning some off-screen adventure to their friends and family. It involved a lot of bees, a giant beehive and a "Sun Stone" - all part of the plot of "The End of Flutter Valley" series of episodes from My Little Pony 'n Friends.
- News Travels Fast: When Big Mac is dragged into performing as one of Sapphire Shores' dancers, he instead continues to look around for Lugnut - unaware that the dancers are all following his lead. By the time he gets to the hoedown later that day, his new "dance", the Navigator, has become the latest sensation among all the Ponyville citizens.
- Nobody Poops: Averted, as Pound needs a diaper change when Mr. Cake foists the twins onto Big Mac. A toilet seat can be seen among the rubble of the destroyed hardware store, too.
- Noodle Incident: One of the booths that Big Mac visits in one of the splash pages is a science booth, where he somehow travels in time to save Ponyville from mutant apes and is returned five minutes before he left.
- Odd Friendship: Big Mac is a quiet, shy farmer who gets picked by Luna (The Princess of the Night herself) as her teammate for the games. They form a surprisingly good team, as they both steamroll their oponents during the games, thanks for an unexpected great chemistry (they even win a syncronized swimming contest) that makes them enjoy the games and have a helluva of a good time. Big Mac even seems to forget his quest to get nails for a while. However, it's subverted by the end: Mac's first thought when Luna isn't looking is to sneak away from her and get those nails.
- Pictorial Speech Bubble: Throughout, Big Mac's need for a nail is illustrated simply by him thinking of a picture of a nail.
- The Quiet One: Though an established character trait for Big Mac, his thoughts that provide the story's narration are much more detailed while his actual spoken words remain extremely terse.
- Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: The quiet and shy Big Mac forming a team with Luna, the explosive Princess of the Night. She absolutely adores the experience, which contaminates Big Mac a bit.
- Schmuck Bait: The "Test Your Strength" booth with Princess Celestia there to hoof-wrestle all comers. Even Big Mac's Charles Atlas Superpower attempt doesn't do more then make her smirk at him.
- Self-Deprecation:Spike: Is this really going to be a two-part story?
- "Shaggy Dog" Story: Big Mac wasn't out of nails, Applebloom had just hoarded them all in her clubhouse. What's more, the gazebo ends up completely wrecked by one of the Crusaders' balls of fireworks. Then subverted when Lugnut and Big Mac are shown fixing the gazebo with the Crusaders' help in the black and white slides.
- Ship Tease: Luna plants a kiss on Big Mac's cheek during a ferris wheel ride. Also, when he meets up with Cheerilee, the first thing she does is give him a very affectionate hug.
- So Long, Suckers!: The Cakes ask Big Mac if he could either watch the foals or deliver the cake. Big Mac gives a moment of hesitation, enough time for the Cakes to thrust the foals at him and run off with the cake, laughing and shouting "FREEDOM!".
- Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion: Played with. Zecora has to stop briefly while talking with Big Mac to come up with a proper rhyme when she next speaks.Zecora: You'll have to excuse me and give me pause/I have to think of a rhyme for my next clause.
- Unwanted Harem: By the end of the story arc, Big Mac gets no less than three mares to fall for him, completely by accident.
- Wheel of Feet: Luna at the start of the 7-legged race.
- When I Was Your Age...: Granny Smith's rant.
- The Joy of X: Zen and the Art of Gazebo Repair.