delga: ([madmen] take what I can get.)
[personal profile] delga

/The Ecstasy of Bursting Forth (Mad Men).

Later, when Don asks her to deliver a report to Mr. Cooper's office, she tiptoes in, having slipped off her shoes before she walked into his office. She stares at the Roethke, cocks her head this way and that, tries to see what they're all talking about. The gradations are intriguing she supposes. She steps forward, again bending her head. But still she sees nothing. It should just be gray, she thinks, a mass of shades of gray.

A gen fic about Joan, post-S2 finale; written for me and basically hitting all my kinks. Where canon!Joan's strength (paradoxically) lies in her passivity towards Greg, this Joan does the thing we want her to do: she starts to take control of her life. The fic has this great mirroring effect, following her through two mornings and listing the differences. On top of that, there are quiet character notes on Peggy and Salvatore (oh gosh, the latter is heartbreaking) and the atmosphere feels very true to the show. I'm totally in love with it.


Angels in America
/I'll Find You in the Morning Sun

"Fine. What are you doing tomorrow?" Louis is going to start bitching about his throat hurting and wondering loudly if maybe he's caught an infection if he stays out yelling in the cold for much longer, Prior thinks vindictively. He's not mad at Lou, not anymore; at least, not completely mad. He still gets these little niggles where he's like, what an asshole, what the hell made me almost forgive him and let him be my friend, but generally it's all okay. He wonders sometimes if they'd still be together, if it wasn't for the sickness. It doesn't matter, though - he's going to live his life on the straight and narrow, looking to the future instead of aching for things he couldn't help but let go wrong in the past.

A look at Prior in the years between the end of the story and the closing diatribes. It's a despairing story, but one that is so hopeful, too. Like many of the stories I'm reccing, there are no easy answers for Prior, but he's a fighter. The portraits of the other characters - Louis especially - are acute, and the fic leaves you in that same quiet frame of mind that the mini-series did.


Friday Night Lights
/You Can't Put a Price on Tim Riggins
"I'm not going to corrupt your grandma, Saracen," Tim said. "Give me a little credit."

Tim finds Matt Saracen's grandma wandering down the road and takes her home. Why do I love Tim Riggins? Because he's a fuck up but he doesn't really mean to be. This fic hits all the voices and really gets the characters. It's wonderful.


Homicide: Life on the Streets
/Learning is Fundamental
Frank Pembleton took the memo down from the bulletin board and shook it at Giardello. "This...this makes no sense. It isn't even in English." He selected a sentence at random. "'Provide the benefit of their learnings'? I have no 'learnings.' And especially none for the benefit of the police academy. Our budget was cut the same as theirs. I have no time for this. I barely have a partner."

Season 1. In which the department is called upon to offer its skills to cadets. A great in-character ensemble piece with plenty of laughs which bring those early seasons back to life. Truly wonderful.


Life
/Thanks
Ted ended up regretting the big turkey.

Season 2. Ted tries to make Christmas happen for Charlie and Rachel and things don't go exactly to plan. This is a very kindly piece, entirely endearing, and at the end you leave with a distinct and pressing need to hug Ted fiercely.

/A Basket of Cellophane
This is how Rachel ends up living ("Staying. I don't live here.") with them: Charlie brings her home, all cop in shining armour and announces that they have a house guest. Ted's not actually sure how the details were worked out, but he really really hopes no one proposed marriage to anyone.

Season 2. I am basically head-over-heels in love with the Rachel in this fic, even though it's another story about Ted. The humour is brilliant, and some of it took me by surprise to the extent that I'd start laughing loudly and The Mother would get annoyed. I enjoyed this one more than I thought I would.


Mad Men
/Villain, Elle
Joan raises one eyebrow at him. "Sometimes when people get what they want, they realize how limited their goals were."

Season 2. Tis the season of Joan's resurrection, obviously. Another story about Joan's conformity to societal expectations but what I love about this is how she actively constructs her identity. There's something very Don-like about Joan in this fic - the way she discards her past, layer by layer. What strikes me about Joan and Peggy is that Peggy is a force for change, and that makes her beautiful; but Joan is a force for consistency and maintaining the status quo, and that makes her beautiful (because staying the course is as difficult as the other thing when it's not truly what you want).
The two refrains, working tangentially, are bittersweet.

/Things That Never Were
Don laughs. So does Peggy. The two of them - laughing, chumming around, it makes Pete's teeth hurt. He wonders what Don would do if he knew what kind of girl Peggy really was.

Season 2. A gen fic about Pete that takes everything that is ugly about him and makes us sympathetic for him, regardless. That frisson - that sadness - between him and Peggy is fully exploited here and gosh, if it isn't terribly, terribly good.

/Mad Women
Peggy's new office is as neat as a pin: nothing is ever out of place. After meetings break up she spends an hour picking ash out of the carpet and smoothing out holes where the chairs were carelessly placed. She opens up windows to air out the smoke no matter how hot or cold it is outside. She tells housekeeping a dozen times to come with heavier cleaners; she can't get the stain out of the carpet where Freddy Rumsen puked up his retirement. Finally she lets it be -- a reminder, she tells herself. Not that she's going to become an alcoholic, but that it's the little things that finally build up and kill you.

Season 2. My notes for this read: "a character piece that occasionally stabs you in the heart" and that's exactly what this is, a look at the women of Mad Men which every now and then makes you ache. It's not a single blow, more a volley.

/Here's to Knowing What You Want and Getting It
He calls them in around four. It's Pete's job to do the set up, and suddenly he has Peggy's voice in his head, One day you're there, and all of a sudden there's less of you, and you wonder where that part went. He throws himself into the explanation of their concept as much to make her shut up as to sell Don on the idea. He focuses on the curl of Don's fingers around his cigarette, the lifting, lowering of his hand as he smokes. The words just kind of spill out of him: A man needs to feel that what he does matters, that he takes up space in the world. He's looking for something to reflect him back to himself, not the way he is, but the way he could be.

Season 2. Another great Pete fic, this time with a twist. There are parts of this fic which sound like they came straight from the show, it's that well-written, and then there are parts of this fic which sort of wander off in a different direction and you willing traipse after it. As with most stories about Pete, the sly portraits of Don and Peggy are also well-executed.


The Middleman
/The Ursine Therianthrope Divination
"Oh, I'll say!" The very idea! The Middleman huffed out a laugh. "Were-bears account for more than 79% of all were-related deaths. Were-ducks, on the other hand, a mere 2%."

Wendy raised her eyebrows. "Wow, those are... pretty obscure statistics to have at your fingertips, Hy Turkin."

Unconventional pairing which I won't spoil here, but this fic is JUST THAT GOOD that you won't care even a little bit. The dialogue is spot-on, the tone is sheer elegance in its simplicity. Um. Or something. But really, this is a great fic about the trials and tribulations that come with being The Middleman, as well as the vulnerable side of him.

/The Bellicose Doppelganger Auter-ization
"The man--who we know only by his assumed name of Sergei Eisenstein--created two Hitchcock clones. One was traced to Mexico--it's believed the mad Soviet genius, a film enthusiast, wanted to bring about a new Golden Age of Mexican cinema--where he grew up in a normal household. The Middle organization knew the other's given name, Roger Thornhill, but lost track of him the year the real Hitchcock died."

"1980. Wow," Wendy replies breathlessly. "So, do we know what happened to the Mexican Hitchcock?"

"Not really." The Middleman shakes his head and shrugs. "Does the name Guillermo del Toro mean anything to you?"

"Get outta here!"

HITCHCOCK CLONE!!!! Lacey gets into some trouble, The Middleman and Wendy help her out. BUT. That is a lame summary because this fic is full to the brim of all the oddities that made the show such a delight to watch.


Movies
/Far Across the Stars (Aliens)
"Not everyone is as strong as you," he tells her.

Ripley doesn't take shit from anyone. This fic is a Sarah-Connor-Chronicles-style insert into the Alien-verse where the third movie gets ditched in favour of a superior narrative. When no-one will listen to her, Ripley goes renegade, fighting the good fight across space.

/Duck Soup (Brick)
He could barely breathe through the constriction. "Another murder, spotted second period," he spat out. Brendan's eyebrows moved towards his nose. He was crouching. "They found the body on the football field, in our endzone." He didn't get upset about the murders, wasn't supposed to, not after there had been so many.

Holy cow, guys. This is one of my favourite fics, written from Brain's perspective, but also with the smooth quality the film has. The fic throws Brendan and Brain back into the highschool underclass and takes us on a long road to revenge. It's cold, and precise, and so, so good. There's a lot about this to love.

/To Her Own Tune (Chocolat)
Little things went missing at first. Nothing of consequence. Nothing as important as the casket holding Mama's ashes or the red cloaks kept in the rear of the closet. Only little things: a chocolate here, a pen or pencil there. A pair of stockings, a hair tie. At first I chalked it up to my unfamiliarity with the place or perhaps it was Anouk, my wonderful and imaginative child, sharing these things with Pantoufle.

The film was a little different to the book for a fair few reasons, but one of the things it nailed was Josephine, mostly because Lena Olin is fantastic. This fic is kindly and light, and is about Josephine's rebirth.

/Days Like These (Empire Records)
Her first day at Empire Records, Debra spends most of her time wondering why what looks to be the youngest guy working there is in charge of training the new hires (Deb and a blonde girl named Gina who is wearing a skirt that's too short, even for working in a record store).

A fic following Deb from before the film through to after. I always loved Deb, and this fic does justice to her and the other characters in the film. Girl is fierce, yo, and this fic is kind towards her. There's a lot of love in this story.

/Through a Glass Darkly (Hancock)
Mary looks at the screen. Hancock's standing in front of a pile of rubble and there's dust all over his pleather costume. No animals were harmed in the making of this superhero, Mary thinks. He looks vaguely pissed off.

Mary loves Ray. Mary loves Hancock. Hancock and Ray love each other. A lot happens in this fic - heartbreak, renewal, a shifting of values - but the story never wavers. There are no easy answers, and the fic doesn't give us any. Very, very well written.

/Nine Steps in a Circle (Little Miss Sunshine)
Frank nodded. "Sounds good to me," he said. "Maybe it's time to live without goals for a little while. Or make your goal, I don't know, just living through the next three years. Or through the summer."

This is possibly my favourite fic to come out of Yuletide this year, with most of these movie picks coming in a little behind. I don't know what it is about these two - whether it's that they're two of the more relatable characters in the film, or simply the more likable ones. Possibly it's that scene at the beach where Dwayne calls bullshit on the world and Frank says, yeah, but that's the point. Whatever it is, I love this fic. I love what this fic does for both those characters, and I love that it remembers that there are no easy routes. The film's ending is subversively happy because it doesn't solve any of the problems the characters are actually facing, but this fic says, well, there isn't really an end to the minutiae of life, and so there are no straight-forward answers. Guh, I LOVE THIS.

/Walk the Wire (Speed)
"I'd make a terrible cop," she hears herself tell the doctor when he asks her to take a deep breath, "I hate being told what to do."

True story: I have seen this film way too many times. But, oh, oh, this fic is great. Again, it takes the ending of the film and stretches. Annie is fierce and sharp and even the little victories sting. Oh, oh, oh. ♥


Mythology
/Red Sky by Morning (Chinese Mythology)
"And the sea loves you, child. And the sea keeps what it loves. I don't want to lose you too, my daughter."

The story of Matsu (Mazu), goddess of the sea. What I love about this is the tone; this is a folktale in the tradition of folktales and it's beautiful for that. The closing image is especially endearing.

/Small Step for Man (Greek Mythology)
"What did the Sibyl say, sister?" he chants in a whisper, to some heavy, tripping rhythm. "Come in under the shadow of this red rock, and I will show you fear in a handful of dust." He hiccups a laugh. "The Sibyl had a wicked pack of cards. What did she say?"

Artemis and Apollo, through the ages. There's a lot of sadness here, a lot of weariness, and at the end of it all Artemis really has is her brother. I found this a little wicked, in the traditional sense of the word, and a little biting.

/This Is Not A Chick Flick (Greek Mythology)
As so often happens, the reality of the lives of Hades and Persephone cannot possibly compare to the epic saga that our imaginations have concocted.

This is not a romantic story. But it is a story of love, nonetheless.

Persephone and Hades: The RomCom. This is funny and charming, and ever so light. I really enjoyed it, and I think it has a universal appeal because it plays with the conventions of romcoms and screwball comedies with a playful hand.


Old Testament
/Tambourine Woman
She watched, but she was not quiet. Miriam was not a quiet girl.

The story of Miriam, who sang out loud. A beautiful portrayal about a woman who rolled with the punches. Like the story of Mazu, this fic nails that story-telling tone.


One Thousand and One Nights (Arabian Nights)
/One Thousand and One and Counting
"Yes, you are here to help," she agrees amiably. Keep him engaged, throw any tall tale at the monster to pacify him. "My sister," second cousin on her mother's side, actually, but English does not have a specific word for that, "says that as well. She wishes..."

Women are still telling stories to save themselves. It's an interesting concept, and played out wonderfully. I was left stunned by the end of this one.


Pushing Daisies
/A Lovely Way to Spend Christmas
The facts were these: it had been seven years, fifty-one weeks, six days, thirteen hours, and forty-eight minutes since Emerson Cod had last celebrated Christmas. Separated from his missing daughter, the detective preferred to spend the holidays alone, or, more accurately, pursuing the sorts of ne'er-do-well murderers and murderesses that chose to strike in the dark days between December twenty-third and January first. Money, Emerson Cod had found, was the best Christmas present he could give himself.

Season 2. Emerson Cod and Olive Snook, talking the talk and leaving The Pie Maker and Dead Girl to whatever the whatever. A great fic, very much in tune with the humour of the show, and great characterisations.

/One Minute, Counting
"Oh hell no," Emerson said, which wasn't part of the speech he'd prepared in case this ever happened, but he'd allowed himself a certain latitude. (Improvised preamble. Cussing.)

Emerson's sixty seconds, oh no. I really, truly love Emerson which is why I love it when fanfiction does his character justice. This is a very funny and somewhat touching fic, which I think every fan of the show will enjoy.


Sarah Connor Chronicles
/First You Have to Have a Soul
Cameron reads every book that Eric recommends to her, even when she finds it irrelevant and wasteful of time. Eric reads quite often, and he probably does it because he lots of free time being in the wheelchair. Most of Cameron's free time comes from when she doesn't sleep. And Cameron enjoys Borges the best so far, and she is always illegally concealing a weapon when she steps inside.

Season 2. I really enjoyed Self-Made Man as an episode and this story slips in neatly before that. Cameron organises her behaviour to elicit certain responses from people, but even she can be surprised. I really love the rendition of Eric here, in all his awkward glory. This is a great read and like all these stories about Cameron, neatly discusses that dichotomy between human and machine.

/Grey Matter
The first rule of dealing with Cameron is: Cameron is a machine.

John, on Cameron and the machine. A great ficlet about how she can sometimes elude definition, and mostly eludes comprehension.

/Cinderella, Made of Steel
Sarah blinks, then stares at Cameron. She does not look angry. Cameron has chosen the moment well. Sarah is amused. She is smiling. She almost laughs. Cameron has never seen Sarah laugh. "Are you asking what I did when I was a girl?" Sarah says. She is incredulous.

So, you know how Cameron is fucking scary? Those moments in the show where you get lulled into forgetting she's a machine and then she does something wacky like walks away from two people being murdered? Yeah? This fic is littered with those moments, whilst also being so completely endearing. It's funny, and warming, and every now and then throws you for a loop. There's a kindliness to the characters in this story that you won't find in canon, but it's worth it just to see Cameron and Sarah trying to be mother and daughter.

/Red, Red, Red
He doesn't trust metal.

Derek hates himself for being attracted to Cameron, and this relationship is something of a fight. What I particularly liked about this fic was the structure, and the refrains. Metal killed Kyle. Listen to all those Ls and Ks, oh my.


Slings & Arrows
/Ingenue
In her, even now, he sees Ophelia, she breathes Ophelia, she is everything that any of them could have hoped for. He remembers being Hamlet to a radiant Ophelia once. He remembers what that Ophelia was to someone else. And right now he looks at Kate and wants those immortal words come out of her mouth; he wants to watch her become Ophelia for him. He's just not sure which him he wants her to be Ophelia for.

Season 1. I love the idea behind this, and would have liked to have seen it expanded on, but this fic does a great job dealing with the initmacy between a director and his fledging actors.

/Lonely Hearts
"What!" he yelled, filling the place up to the rafters with sound. "The fuck! Is going on!"

Oh. Oh. Perfectly in-voice, perfect in temperament. I laughed several times throughout. What a great story - this fandom throws out the best one-pieces sometimes, and this is a slice of the show. Just marvellous.


Spooks
/Slow Sky, Still Water
He won't tell her that he cursed all the way up the stairs, and not just from the pain the climbing awakened. Given the choice right now between dealing with Ros who expects him to be hard as nails, and Jo who needs him to be, he knows which option is easier. No slack in the rope, with Ros. No invitations.

Lucas and Jo in the aftermath of 7.08. Well-drawn characters, cool atmosphere.

/Missing and Present
They find themselves in the conference room where Adam once hurled a chair in rage over her betrayal. It's something akin to rage that she unleashes now, lashing out at Lucas the way she destroyed her hotel room -- except better and more satisfying, because Lucas fights back, matching her blow for blow, bite for bite, scratch for scratch.

Lucas and Ros in the aftermath of 7.08, though in a very different way. There's something truly visceral about the two of them together that I wouldn't care to see in canon but could probably read about all. damn. day.


The Time Traveler's Wife
/und mit Geistesstärke tu ich Wunder auch
Alba loves time traveling: the funny squeeze of the air, the feel of another time on her bare skin.

You know how the book could sometimes take hold of you and squeeze hard on your lungs? This fic replicates that sensation so well. The author really got to grips with the jolité and difficulty of what it means to be Alba, and it doesn't neglect Clare, either. If the closing section doesn't touch you... oh my.


Wire in the Blood
/Timing
"Oh, leave it, Tony," she says, waving her hand in the air. She takes another, larger sip of her wine. "It's cats and dogs out there and you're already tipsy. Just stay the night with me, and I'll drop you by your car in the morning."

"DCI Jordan, what kind of man do you take me for?"

"The kind that's smart enough to not mess about and do as you're told."

GUYS, THE END OF THIS. !!!! In short, Tony interrupts Carol's date, and it's basically a scene from an episode. So good; so in-tune with both of them. And like I said: THE ENDING OMG.

--

Includes: Angels in America; Friday Night Lights; Homicide: Life on the Streets; Life; Mad Men; The Middleman; movies (Aliens; Brick; Chocolat; Empire Records; Hancock; Little Miss Sunshine; Speed); Mythology; Old Testament; One Thousand and One Nights (Arabian Nights); Pushing Daisies; Sarah Connor Chronicles; Slings & Arrows; Spooks; The Time Traveler's Wife; Wire in the Blood

The rest of my Yuletide bookmarks are, natch, at my delicious account.

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