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Cafestrovalva DVD Commentary


To begin with, the title's a pun on 'Castrovalva' and the UK term 'cafe', not to be confused with the more formal French cafe-with-an-accent-on-the-e. It's pronounced much like Americans say the word 'calf', and denotes a sort of greasy spoon diner. I'm not entirely sure the pun works, and anyway the Master's decidedly not running a cafe in that sense, but the almost-working was fun enough that I went with it. Besides, no other title was working.

The entire fic springs from an artisanal tea house I afterwards worked at--which turned out to be a nightmare of a job. That tea house didn't have a second story, though. The layout of this building is also fused with a Moroccan restaurant in Seven Dials' near Aralias's work, where I sometimes got the free-refills pot of cheap, tasty Moroccan tea and made it last all day. Bet they looooved me. :/

This first paragraph is so clunky! I can't see how to streamline it even now, though, so I suppose that's why it's not better. It's just a bulky intro, chunkily phrased. Exposition is/beginnings are difficult to write with any grace, at least for me.

"He preferred booths to chairs, and he liked sofas and divans better still."--this is just me. Fuck chairs.

"But now it was couches for him—the cozy sort you’d sink into, and have to climb and claw your way out of, so really you’d be better off grabbing a book from your pocket and not attempting to stir until absolutely necessary or until you’d finished—whichever came first."--this is the couch in my university house. I was staying with my favorite roommate from that period in New York when I wrote this, a couple years after we'd graduated, so I suppose I was thinking of that time. And also of things being comfortable and safe--this was when my immigration application was being processed, and I was in danger of being blacklisted from the UK for ten years, thus separated from Aralias and dismissed from my MA program, due to a fault in the Dublin customs office and, partly, my own failure to understand /how/ different UK immigration policy was from the Israeli version. It all worked out in the end, but it was expensive, humiliating and terrifying. I guess I wanted something comforting, thus this fic.

"but Lucie had never properly appreciated tea, anyway"--this is from Aralias' submission to the BFA Eight short story contest, in which Lucie isn't tea-mad.

"She’d only just consent to a desultory cup of PG Tips if he was making some." Before living in the UK, I thought Tips was THE REAL SHIT. Now I'm like oh, self. At least it wasn't Tetley. Or Typhoo. Tea brands are a big region/class issue in the UK. Like everything. And heaven forbid we drop our constant display of middle class orientation by drinking The Wrong Tea Brand...

"It had been thick with yak butter,"--shout out to AP Euro, which told me about Mongols and Saddle Yoghurt. ...yep.

"With the tea, rather than the lady, whose barking laugh at his delighted expression had exposed all three of her blackened teeth (and not to her advantage, either)."--I looked this up at the time--a bit unfair, because most modern tooth decay in these regions, the Caucasus, etc., is due to the recent introduction of Western refined sugar--not a result of their traditional diet. I thought this might have made sense if she was particularly old and particularly unlucky, or if she'd somehow had access to a fair amount of Western goods--though doubtful, as I've stressed her remoteness? The image is v. comic, though--old mouth opening and no teeth, it's very Disney Film. I kept it, but this felt shady at the time.

"The menu boasted a full range of flushes, all of which were available to sample"--started cribbing wiki hard at this point. I still barely understand flushes, and this doesn't mean much as a sentence.

"The menu boasted a full range of flushes, all of which were available to sample. It offered blends of incredible inventiveness. It promised the most delectable tastes. He could smell delicate bergamot orange on the air. In addition to flavoring Earl Gray tea, perfumers used the oil from the oranges’ peels to bind bouquets of complimentary scents together into a whole. It accomplished something similar in the teashop. It took the myriad smells, conducted the marriage of a hundred blends of tea, and it proved a good husband to each."--I wish I could have done better details in this fic, and evoked more specific, rich descriptions. For tea-porn, it really lacks something. The fact is, before and after having worked in a fine tea shop, I'm /not/ a subject expert. At the real shop this is based off of, there was a long-suffering employee we always called Dickens Boy--a waif with an INCREDIBLE subject-knowledge, who was courteous and charming and sometimes wore a top hat for effect. He'd have been the one to know the right things to say here. Sadly he quit before I came to work there, and I never properly knew him other than as a regular customer. Anyway, perhaps I should have read some books on tea, but I wiki-bluffed, and the effect is, well, passable I suppose.

"a harsh chiaroscuro effect."--a word I learned and liked in high school Humanities, which I have always wanted to use in just the right place, and have never managed to include other than as a pretentious encumbrance. 'Pantomime' gave me the same trouble for ages. Over 'chiaroscuro' now. Perhaps had to exorcise it in this way.

"He crossed the restaurant to converse with another table of customers. They greeted him warmly. They knew him."--pronoun attribution: the curse of all slashfic. Who the shit is ever doing anything? This one's the Master.

I kind of like the effect of not saying who this is when people know, but I wonder also if it's really--an effect native to a different kind of writer than I am, which I'm trying to pull off here. Not because everyone knows who this is, of course everyone knows who this is, but because it's a sort of mannered gesture I normally don't fuck with.

The Doctor watched the pantomime, suspicious. --Ahahahah, oh man, I better pick up that phone, because I /called/ it.

"discreetly testing their potability by plunging a giant stick spring of celery, which he’d found in his pocket, into his various beverages."--Five said this was for one particular poison, but whoooooo caaaaares, this is fun.

"The Doctor watched the neat economy of his arms—watched the way, like a chef or a scientist, the Master kept them close to his body, tucked his elbows against the side of his chest."--culinary arts training in hs, and Ratatouille.

"“Your bailiwick,” the Doctor continued agreeably."--what a fun word! Bailiwick!

"The Doctor leaned back against the counter at his back and watched the Master pull a wooden box out of a safe that was much wider and deeper than it had looked from the outside, before the Master had opened it." /clunk/

"Are there Boekind in Belgrave Square? Are Sontarans breathing the lowly air of Seven Dials?”"--Iolanthe joke

“Isn’t that an up-market shopping district now?"--yep!

"I can hardly imagine a squadron of Sontarans boutique-hopping."--SONTAR-SHOP!! I am pretty sure one can.

"Your tea will have finished brewing.”"--it would have steeped horribly, given the Doctor's gone 15 min. Maybe it's alien tea. BLACKEST OF BLACKS shouldn't be more than 5, 7 min.

"enjoying a madeleine with his tea."--DID I TELL YOU I READ SWANN'S WAY EARLIER THIS YEAR? O_O WELL. I HAD.

“I had madeleines with Proust once...”
“Really, Doctor? I’d love to hear about it.”
The Doctor perked up. “Well—”
“In a hundred words or fewer.”--okay so I know this is just me saying it, but this is probably the second best joke about Remembrance of Things Past ever around in a slash fic, I am just saying. The BEST is that Cassandra Claire Harry/Draco where Goyle reads a lot of Proust. It was first, after all.

"(this time in a properly condescending rather than shamelessly wanton manner—v.g.),"--Bridget Jones joke

"from incredible (in the literal meaning of the word, i.e. he could not credit them) costumes"--I like the original meaning of 'incredible'

"“As it happens, I find myself too occupied by my other duties to bake enough for the shop, which is regrettable. People expect the sweets to be of a quality commensurate with the tea itself, but the bakery I’m forced to order from lacks my… exacting standards.”"--I'm a bit obsessed with baking from that time I was a Pastry Chef/my general life of cooking.

"In silence the Doctor took the final sips from his second cup, draining it to the dregs. There was nothing left in the pot—to continue the conversation, they’d have to make another. The Doctor found that he lacked sufficient trust. The Master opened his mouth, ready to suggest it, and the Doctor preempted him."--much of the social flow of English daily life is negotiated around the practicalities of tea. Who makes it, how they make it (a huge class stratification coming into play here), how long one goes between, offers made in the anticipation of being rejected for the form of it, offers one rejects to close off avenues of obligation, where it's drunk and how long one speaks while imbibing it. How long it takes to cool, how long it stays warm. This suspension-bridge of conversation especially interests me because no matter how devoted to it one professes oneself to be, in the US tea is only ever an affectation, a bauble. In the UK it's the bread-and-salt. Unremarkable in its omnipresence, quotidian as hell. Even when an English person opts for like, juice instead, when the tea is offered around, it's still the structure of the informal ceremony. There's no US equivalent of what tea is to the British--not even coffee comes close. This sort of social-beat, the pause in a conversation then the pot's run dry, and its implications/possibilities, is fascinating.

"The Doctor could play a long game too, if he had to, though really it was bound to be tiresome, having to come back here like this."--what he thinks his position towards he Domestic is, in microcosm

The English summer day stretched on into evening, less showy than a Midnight Sun.--I fell in love with this quality of light when I was 12, when I first came to stay with my Uncle in London.

"Looking up gave him the Master, amused (and rather handsome) in a sturdy claret dressing gown."--men in short dressing gowns are gross, though, so imagine this is long. I don't want to see your hairy ankles, /goodness/.

"A cloudy, blue-green, stone elephant-like creature"--I'd just seen a pretty little carved jade elephant, antique, somewhere, probably to do w/ Aralias' work

"The Master’s voice was laden, but its burden was all wrapped up, in boxes, and the Doctor couldn’t tell whether he wanted to hear ‘yes, I came to you to be cared for,’ whether he was mocking the very idea; whether he was angry, or what specifically he might be angry about.

I used to know you, he thought, so well I’d never have had to wonder, like a stranger."
--oh I rather like that, that's all right.

"“Tannins,” the Doctor supplied, (mostly) honestly. “To kick-start the healing process. You seem to have a wide variety of tea lying about—including the heavy-duty stuff, which it would have been tricky to track down in my condition.”"--Christmas Invasion!

"textbook enigmatic"--this is a Who quote, recycled. Can't remember where from. Oh, it's New Earth.

"His bare feet were rather distracting."--in their hideousness, maybe. Fuck bare feet.

"“You drugged me!” the Doctor shouted, finding the Master calmly pouring water into a long row of teapots.
“Doctor, my customers!” the Master tsked.
“You drugged me!” the Doctor whispered, loud and theatrical."--ah, comedic repetition

" gave a Gallic, unapologetic shrug"--I feel like I know exactly what this sort of gesture looks like, but not why it should be Gallic per se

"I like the redecoration. It’s very elegant. "--it is /not/, it looks exactly like he bought out a Tuesday Morning. But the world of the show believes it is, and so you sort of have to allow that to stand, because that is True, for that world, even if you disagree on a critical level and would interrogate it in that capacity. If that makes any sense.

"as a Parthian shot"--this is a cool Thing in Greek History, and you should look it up if you don't know of it, b/c fun!

"The Doctor visited to return an old book the Master had left on his TARDIS, centuries ago. The Master looked at the book coldly,"--I had a break up that went a bit like this once.

"They call it the agony of the leaves."--amazing true thing, sort of Passion-Play sounding.

"As a result, the Doctor asked the Master to fill him up again. Something that had sounded much better in his mind."--not sure this innuendo works--feel about it v. like I feel about the title. But the surrounding description is, I think, functional in a way the earlier descriptive detail wasn't.

"Todd’s attention had shifted to a cheerful-looking, plump redhead who was in the process of sneakily adding another spoonful of sugar to her tea, “Honey, remember what the doctor said.” The woman rolled her eyes, but put the teaspoon back in the sugar tray, conceding the point."--discussions were had over whether this was controlling/sexist--I just wanted them to be a random couple with some personality. Could have reversed genders, but then it'd read as The Nagging Wife.

"“Diabetes, bless her.” Todd said, turning back to the Doctor."--I think at this point one of my fathers had been recently diagnosed.

Cyril--"It is derived from the Greek name Κύριλλος (Kyrillos) meaning "Lordly, Masterful"". Also it's a comically stupid-sounding name, like Neville, Wilt, Percival, etc.

Cyril Delevanti--"Cyril Delevanti, sometimes credited as Syril Delevanti, was an English-born character actor with a long career in American films."

"“It is London, we’re generally pretty open-minded.”"-- ...ish. This is not necessarily true.

"Which implied the Master did - of course he did, the Doctor groaned internally, a friendly smile still plastered on his face. Still."--the Master's got some rings on for much of Three-era, and often wears gloves so it's difficult to tell. Sort of a callback to the pre-Internet Ring of Truth fic, one of the v. first in the pairing. Possibly the first.

"They didn’t want deliverance, a heroic sacrifice on his part, or even world peace. They just wanted tea."--retail work: never this pleasant.

"both its size and by the red question marks on the lapels to be one of his own shirts, abandoned on a similar occasion."--Four, Five, Six or Seven, then. JNT ahoy.

"A row of clean shop aprons hung on the back of the door. Squaring himself, the Doctor grabbed one, tied it on, positioned the neck-strings so as to hide the embarrassing question marks on his lapels, and headed downstairs."--I love an apron, in my own kitchen or at work. Makes me feel like a mother-fucking skilled professional.

"he’d once had to dress as an old washer woman to find out what was going on inside a business that had committed a host of ecological crimes."--Green Death, because this lie is essentially that the Doctor works for like, Green Peace or something, so this episode fits well

"“Seventies? I meant the Eighties, I’m forever getting those two confused—especially where UNIT’s concerned."--UNIT dating controversy joke

"Age does not wither, nor custom stale."--Anthony & Cleopatra, the play

“Besides, I find plastic bags gauche.”--something Germans all believe, quoth Bagheera

"A long, slow… assault on the Doctor’s sanity."--another not-quite-working innuendo. Must do better if I'm ever to make it in panto...

"He spotted a picture frame turned face-down on the Master’s bedside table. Trailing a hand across the bedspread, the Doctor approached. He laid hesitant fingers on the rim, and was just about to flip it over when a voice directly behind him murmured, “Prying, Doctor?”"--gothic novel!!Eight

"“And you didn’t invite me.” The Doctor thought it would be quite something to be able to say he’d met Gabrielle Muscavoy—perhaps she’d let him call her Gabby. And on such an important night, too. “You know I love opera.”"--opera, a sort of TVM call-back

"archeology journal he’d been perusing."--there's a seventh Doctor novel where the Master discusses archeology with Benny

"Other people’s sandwiches always tasted best, and this was no exception."--Three-era joke

"The Master took the Doctor’s forgotten clothing from a cabinet and laid it on the table. There would be no excuse to return, then, the Doctor thought fleetingly."--I like this as an escalation

Christmas prep sequence!! I fucking love Christmas. I have many organizational charts to this effect.

"“Stress baking,” the Doctor replied, smiling. “I stress-bake, this time around."--from one of the EDAs

"Besides, I find I have rather an appetite this morning.”"AGAIN a crap innuendo! Wtf! I'm fine with having them, but they should be /better/ than this.

“The thing is,” the Doctor said, “I’ve always loved Christmas. It’s over-blown and gaudy and a bit cheesy, but perfect. It makes me happier than almost anything I can think of. Maybe it disappoints you by not being everything you’d hoped for, or by taking ages to come, but you’re largely disappointed because you love it so much, and you expect everything from it. Still—it’s one of my favorite things in the universe, and it’s been far too long since I properly celebrated it.”--v. obviously about the Master

"One day the Doctor brought up a past misadventure, asking the Master the reasons behind one of his schemes, and the Master didn’t evade the question. The next day the Master returned the favor, and the Doctor brushed him off with a joke. Later that night, in bed, in the quiet of almost-sleep, without prompting, he answered seriously."--it's probably important for them as a couple to discuss what they've been doing in their previous encounters at some point

"Yixing clay pot."--did some research on these. Very valuable now! Chinese antiques market has explooooded.

"In 8709, on the planet Sakoku, the Doctor had the great honor of meeting the Lotus Prince. The famous Liu Bei, named for an ancient mythic Emperor, had united three empires, and ruled with justice and compassion."--the name's from Romance of the Three Kingdoms, but the character's pure Iroh from Avatar.

"Perhaps not so ridiculous as you think, Doctor. Old emperors have often sought humble, monastic lives when weary of the business of the world."--this is based on one Holy Roman Emperor dividing the HRE into three parts (one for each son) and retiring to a monastery.

"Perhaps you are right about death in anger and despair not being the escape I seek. An opportunity to do good work, simply, and, in time, to grow to love something is an opportunity to seek balance. I have wrought great change in the world—not all of it good. What I need is not the stasis of death, but the growth of a new life.”--this comes too quickly, but otherwise it would have to be its own story, to be properly earned, and it would derail this one

“Was it Julie London who said ‘cry me a river?’”--my grandmother had this on cassette when I was a child

"with Ceylon.”--from the Aralias fic Masterplan

"“If you want grandiose gestures, please see my published works,” the Master snapped back."--lulz

"“Point taken,” the Doctor agreed.
“Not quite yet,” the Master countered, “but I’m very much looking forward to it.”"--AGAIN?!

"London Olympics"--to think this is over now!!

"The Master sighed. “Would you have believed me?”

The Doctor chose not to answer that. Obviously he wouldn’t have believed him, and he felt he’d have been right not to. Over the last centuries, what reason had the Master given the Doctor to trust him? He only barely trusted him now, after months together. "--this is a bit like Persuasion (Austen), where the protagonist and her aunt/godmother figure later talk about how she didn't trust Captain Wentworth to provide for her at the time, and the Aunt points out that's anti-love!! but um, actually a /really reasonable/ thing to have been concerned about.

"
“No.” The Doctor insisted, catching the Master’s eye and holding it, making the Master look at him. “It was a sort of saudade,” he began, which was a Portuguese and Galician word for a feeling of nostalgic longing for something or someone that one was fond of and which is lost, which often carried a fatalist tone and a repressed knowledge that the object of longing might really never return. “And a kind of mamihlapinatapai," which was a look shared by two people, each wishing that the other would initiate something that they both desired, but which neither one wanted to start.

“I was always willing to begin,” the Master reminded him.

“Nearly always. You had your less generous moments. But yes. Thank you for that. It was everything else you did that was the problem.”

“I don’t think,” the Master conceded, “that I properly understood what you really wanted until I saw the war take it away from you. I don’t know that I understood how to go about giving it to you until the same process worked upon me. You could say my experience was ever styska se mi po tobe,” which was Czech, and amounted to something like ‘I yearn for you,’ ‘I'm nostalgic for you,’ and ‘I cannot bear the pain of your absence.’"--this is the point where my efforts as going through and editing fall apart. Because I'd REALLY like to rip out this self-indulgent mess, which is largely an excuse to use some neato words Mez or Jade gave me a link about. But that would change the essential character of a story, which isn't fair to the readers who liked it as-is, or to past-me? There's still a single phrase language change in Grits' Five Topping fic that annoys me--not b/c it's a bad decision, but because I remember the original and always think, at that point, 'hang on, this has changed, this is wrong'. Little word choices become fixed in your reception of the work, it's part of why the alternate version of All the King's Men and poor translations of War and Peace annoy me so much. You can't just rip through that to suit your own, possibly incorrect, later whim? It does't NECESSARILY produce a better product: your growth as a writer is not always straight-forward progression.

"mamihlapinatapai"--doesn't work as well as saudade even, does it.

"styska se mi po tobe"--works better, but probs. gram!dodgy

"“Why not?” the Doctor laughed. “We can always stop back and check in on them later—but there are worlds out there where the sky is burning, where the sea's asleep and the rivers dream, people made of smoke and cities made of song. Somewhere there's danger, somewhere there's injustice and somewhere else the tea is getting cold.”" Survival joke! Yay!

Date: 2013-01-01 11:00 pm (UTC)
aralias: (Default)
From: [personal profile] aralias
i hadn't realised till i read this that i haven't read 'cafestrovalva' since knowing who iroh was. that is WEIRD.

also, bless this fic and it's many innuendoes. nothing wrong with an innuendo <3

Date: 2013-01-01 11:05 pm (UTC)
aralias: (eight's shoes fit perfectly)
From: [personal profile] aralias
it's eight's fault, not yours if they are bad. the man likes a shit joke/inneundos you don't later think are funny.

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