About Kosmopolite

I'm an English English teacher currently working in a Mexico. I love science fiction and fantasy, though they are far from the only genres I read. That said, most of my fiction tends to go in that direction. I have always written in my spare time, but now I'm at a stage where I want to work on it seriously, so I'm here for any feedback you might have. I sometimes post about writing, geeky media and my random opinions when they occur to me.

Doctor Strange and the Preceding Trailers

Yes, I appreciate “the preceding trailers” is an oxymoron. Don’t blame me, blame the language.

Before

First of all, the trailers. The trailer for Fantastic Beasts looks like a hell of a lot of fun. It’s all the magic and fun of (early) Harry Potter, but without all those meddling kids. Also without the level of British acting chops the main series had, so we shall see.

The main things that struck me about the Rogue One trailer were the nostalgia combined with cool effects. Then I noticed the multicultural cast… who were supporting a feud between two white Europeans, but still. Also, I do hope the new tagline will be “A beautiful Englishwoman saves the galaxy… again!”

Also, Hollywood was really creeped out by Mads Mikkelsen’s turn as Hannibal Lecter, huh?

On to the film itself after the cut.

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New Year’s Post 2014

This is my New Year’s post. I’ve been chipping away at it since September, but hopefully I’ll get it up by the end of 2014 – which was a mixed bag at best, as you’ll see.

So I started out the year on a low. I returned from the UK, where my Nanan, who had been like a mother to me was taking her cancer diagnosis better than anyone else in the family.

I returned to coup de gras a relationship which had been in its death throes for months, and failed to end at length at a friend’s Yule party before I left. The relationship’s ratio of fun to drama had been weighted the wrong way for a while, but we ticked along for at least a month longer than we should have.

After that, I fell into an obsession with a different girl who channeled how messed up she was much better than I do. In more recent months we’ve come out of it with a decent friendship. In hindsight, that’s exactly as it should be. I don’t really want to discuss it a lot. Basically it was a thing for a while, while I was going through some stuff. I wanted it to be more of a thing, and it went badly as other things in my life went badly, and I was looking for a lifeline.

My Nanan passed away in mid-February. My main memory of the news is taking a few days off work to cry and drink over Skype with the male members of my family. It was a gut-wrenching loss. It had been a long time since she was a daily part of my life (though I called her every Sunday), but knowing that the person who always supported me – my number one fan – despite everything I did or said now no longer existed just tore something out of me. I’m still struggling with it, to be honest.

My Nanan and Grandad from my dad's wedding almost 10 years ago.

My Nanan and Grandad from my dad’s wedding almost 10 years ago.

I went home for the funeral and even spoke along with my dad, and met some of my Nanan’s friends and talked about who she was and the things they had done together. It was nice. My grandad was struggling. He couldn’t believe she wasn’t there, and between the shock of that and the creeping dementia Nanan’s very structured personality could no longer ward off, he was a bit helpless. Nonetheless, I stayed with him as I usually do when I go ‘home’. Probably for the last time.

It was week two in England where thing got bad. I was living with grandad trying to deal with stuff, while trying to take care of him, ‘but not too much’, and also try to get some time out of the house, enjoy England a little, whatever. Well, some things were said. I was called a lot of things, criticized in several ways – some new and creative – and on one memorable night advised to kill myself. I’m sure I deserved some of it, rubbed people up the wrong way accidentally. Someone I work with says that I have a skill for pissing people off. Well, maybe. Still, overall it wasn’t a happy visit, for reasons beyond the obvious.

Moving swiftly on, I spent the intervening months just trying to find my equilibrium again. I have to admit the I struggled pretty thoroughly, and got into some trouble at work when my personal problems started to affect my performance. There wasn’t much understanding there, so I just added it to the list and kind of dealt with it. I also failed the Delta (teaching diploma) exam around this time.

There were some good points to the first half of the year, though. I spent some of that time dating without anything serious to come out of it. I also came to terms with being a kitty-daddy, with all the trials that come along with that. There were nights out, trips to the canals and lots of little victories that kept me ticking along.

Then, in late June, some random girl messaged me on OKCupid. She was cute, and a Doctor Who fan and had a similar sense of humour to me. Looking back at the conversation, it was a pretty easy decision to meet up.

We met, and had a date that lasted well over six hours, all-told. We’ve been together ever since. Aida is awesome, and had really turned my year around, even as we’ve awkwardly gotten to know each other, navigated lots of early relationship obstacles, and come out of it with something good, strong and a bit weird.

Early on in our relationship, I went home to England for the summer. It wasn’t as negative as the last time as I was there, but didn’t feel great. I made the decision to stay away for a while – probably something we all need.

Grandad went downhill. He’s been between hospitals and homes since not long after the funeral. At time of writing, he’s in the hospital with a chest infection, but seems to be on the right mix of drugs to keep him present and aware. The new home that Dad and family have found for him seems great and very comfortable. Hopefully he’ll be able to settle there and be happy for a good long while.

Back in Mexico, Aida and I have done all kinds of things together. We saw Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman and Steven Moffat when they visited Mexico with the Doctor Who world tour. We dressed up. It was fun. We’ve helped each other through rough patches, and we’ve shared a big portion of our fun stuff together too.

We recently took a holiday together to Tepotzlan, Morelos, where we climbed a mountain to see a temple (yes, really!), ate shrimp on a stick and pointed at hippies. It was awesome, and the best holiday I’ve had in a long time.

We're an odd couple

We’re an odd couple

I’m feeling happy with the way things are going now (finally), and I hope that this trend continues. Aida and I are doing great – really great – and things are settling down at work, though there is some general bad feeling about the usual office politics type stuff that I won’t get into here. That said, there are some great new people working there, so that has upped the energy and atmosphere a bit. I refuse to borrow problems from the future during my winter holiday.

The only thing left to do is think about New Year’s Resolutions (before our trip to Guanajuato to celebrate!)

1) Travel more – this was my resolution from last year, but it didn’t happen until I met Aida really (not counting trips back to the UK). So this year I’d like to spend more time doing that, now we’ve discovered it’s doable. I want to see Pueblo Magicos, beaches, weird-ass sculptures I can’t remember the name of, and a camping trip organised by Aida and a friend’s partner in crime…

2) Write more – I got 30,000 words out of NaNoWriMo.org’s 50,000 word goal for the month of November. I’m not planning to do it at the same pace, but if I want it to happen, I have to make it happen. I have a word document open right now titled “write something, bitch”. Hopefully I’ll take this advice all year long.

3) Lose some weight – again, this was a goal in 2014, and I have done that (to a minor degree). I’d like to go back to it being more of a focus this year. Aida has promised to help me – I can go a bit paleo again, use my bike or ecobici again – all that good stuff.

4) Stress less – there has been a lot of crap this year, both personally and professionally. I need to learn to take time away from the city, from work and from all the nonsense that has been getting me down (and is still affecting my sleep, to be honest). Less time for bullshit, more time for me.

5) This is a sillier one, I suppose, but I’d like to record what I read throughout 2015. I keep meaning to do it, and never get around to it. So, yeah. That’s something I want to do. No deeper meaning, really. Just think it’d be nice to look back on.

(If you’re interested – “World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War” by Max Brooks is my standout – realistic, stressful and actually quite educational. Honorable mentions go out to George R. R. Martin’s short story anthologies “Rogues” and “Dangerous Women”, S.M. Stirling’s post-apocalyptic pagans and the “Dresden Files” by Jim Butcher as always.)

Okay, that’s all for now. Hopefully it won’t be a year between this post and the next. Have a great New Year’s Eve, and I’ll see you in 2015!

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Addendum: I got a call from my dad after I finished writing this. It seems my grandad is in danger of passing away in the next few days. It seems that his body is just giving up; brain, lungs, heart… My dad told me he’d been asking to die – to be back with Nanan. He hasn’t been with us completely since her funeral – and was only with us before that thanks to her influence.

I’d like to believe he’s going to be with her. I really want to believe that. It’s what he deserves after so many years of loyalty – loyalty that has continued after she passed. Whatever happens, I hope he finds some peace. This last year has been torture for him. Hopefully 2015 won’t be – however that comes about.

Mortality

Based on this Flash Fiction Challenge.

“My mortality and I am closely acquainted.” Prompt by http://52lettersinthealphabet.wordpress.com/.

My mortality and I are closely related. We weren’t, of course. I was like a lot of young people – I was immortal. I had such energy, and everyone else around me was just so old. Nothing ever hurt me, really. I had never broken a bone, nor had any long-term medical treatment. I was a healthy, happy utter moron. I’d like to say that all that changed when I died, but the truth is that the ability to talk in the past tense about your own death, makes it kind of hard to take seriously.

Jamie and Carl really wanted to go to this club we’d heard about around fresher’s week. It was the “awesomest club that ever awesomed!” according to some tank-topped bint outside the Union. I hung back, smoked my cheap cigarette and feigned indifference while trying to work out whether she was wearing a bra or not. She wasn’t.

“She was so hot!” said Carl.

“Not bad, not bad.”

I stayed silent. I was an introvert even when I was alive. Well, you know. Alive-alive.

Anyway, long story short, we went. I wore a black shirt and the black jeans I thought made me look sexy, but actually just accentuated how fat didn’t really stick to my bones. Jamie and Carl dressed like the hipster twins – all vintage and bright colours and hair that was just vaguely ‘up’.

We got in easily enough. No ID checking during the first couple of weeks of term. You’ve gotta get the kiddies hooked. That’s the real fucking trick. Then they up the prices and squeezed the young ones. We climbed down these dark chipboard stairs and into the club proper.

Inside, the place looked like an aircraft hanger with too few lights and too much black paint. There was a stage in the dim distance with a hairy band fiddling with cables and instruments and shit. Between them and us was an army of hipsters, rockers and goth wannabes. Basically a load of kids like us – more money and less supervision than they’d ever had before. I went for a piss. One bearded fat kid was puking in a stall. There was an inch of water that kind of sold me on DMs as club wear. It was barely nine o’clock. I had an echoing thought in my head that I’d gone to the pussiest university in Britain.

The night went as these nights often do. Early on the hipster twins locked on to a pair of brand-wearing horny chicks who were a couple of drinks ahead of us. They weren’t bad looking, but they had the wide-eyed conviction that always preempted a certain amount of drama. When one of the chicks flashed her tattoo of ‘birds flying away to symbolise freedom’ on her shoulder blade, I was out. I’d be hearing one or the other of the guys bitching about this silly cow for months. I had no intention to listen to the prologue live. I’d wait for the whiney Cliff Notes.

I think I was on my third of fourth beer and sixth or seventh brightly-coloured shot that a cowgirl had been peddling around the damn place. The band had started up, and appeared to be a death metal band who exclusively covered Smash Mouth. The lead singer had something about him that told me he was a man who was nothing outside the fantasy he created for himself on stage. I figured he was doing some ball-achingly dull degree that his parents thought was a good idea. He also looked a bit desperate on his third rendition of ‘All Star’. I think another band cancelled.

Whatever, anyway, that was when she slinked up to me. ‘Slinked’ isn’t a word I’d ever used before, but it was the only one that seemed right for the way she moved. She was wearing jeans and a shiny red tank top. Nothing really spectacular about it except the woman who wore it. She moved like I imagine a mermaid would swim. She had black hair and light brown skin. She stared me straight in the eye and pinned me to the spot.

“Hello,” she said.
“Hey,” I said, straining for the indifference I’d flashed at Tank Top Girl that afternoon. I think my voice broke. It wasn’t my best performance.

“What are you looking at?”

“Um… you?”

She frowned at that as though she’d made a mistake.

“No, before me.”

I thought about it. Nothing really. Just people. I told her as much.

“And what do you see?”

“Kids. Student loans, sex and freedom.”

“I see.”

I wanted her to ask me what was so different about me. I didn’t know the answer, but I was desperate to have the chance to tell her. She licked her lips – a dark berry colour that made me think of sweet fruit or expensive ice cream.

“What’s your name?”

“Mason- I mean Jonathan. Joe.”

“Well, Mr. Mason. Is this your usual ‘scene’?” She said the word like it tasted bad in her mouth. I could empathise.

“Not really. It’s like a noisy safari park. All the animals are hunting each other to a third-rate soundtrack,” the band over-dramatically finished one song with an synthesized twang as though to punctuate my point. “Only it’s stupid. The prey want to be caught, and choose their predator with their outfits and fucking ‘come hither’ bullshit.”

She nodded, considering my words. I was quite proud of them at the time in the way that only an eighteen year old Humanities student could be. She licked her lips again. Should I have offered her a drink?

“Sorry, would you like something to drink?”

“No thank you, Jonathan. I was thinking of leaving. Would you like to join me?” There was a glimmer in her half-lidded eyes. The kind of look I’d labelled ‘come hither bullshit’ seconds before. I didn’t care.

“Yes, please.”

She took me by the hand and led me through the crowd and into the street with her mermaid walk. She took me away from all the children. She took me away to die.

Commentary: It’s been a while since I’ve written every day, and this was a lot of fun. Almost cathartic, thinking back to those awful, sweaty nights in awful venues. I’d love to hear your comments, so please post below. 🙂

The (Ever So Slightly Late) New Year’s Post

So, it’s that time of year again – one of reflection and looking forward. Also TV, food and alcohol. Someone on Facebook said that there’s something cleansing and focusing about these blog posts. I’m not sure how much there is in that, but it’s worth a try. Mother Superior is singing ‘Climb Every Mountain’ on my Nanan’s TV as I type this post. I’ll upload when I get back to Mexico, where I have the Internet.

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Other Kinds of Regeneration

For anyone who has even a passing acquaintance with me or any of my social networks, it will be fairly obvious why I’m interested in regeneration right now. Nonetheless, I’m not going to talk about that right now, except to say that I’m excited by everything that has been broadcast so far1 and am looking forward to what is coming next2.

But I am going to pose this awesomeness.

No, what I want to talk about is Elementary and Sherlock. Putting aside the relative successes of the shows and the actors involved, it occurred to me today while watching Joan Watson solve the final puzzle in a case she was working on with Sherlock that Elementary has much more potential for longevity and originality than Sherlock.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I absolutely love Sherlock. It’s a stylish modern adaptation of the original Doyle stories, and Elementary certainly is not that. What Elementary is is much more original, taking only inspiration from the original texts. It also includes a method of deduction which can be taught and is currently being taught to Watson. This means that should Miller (Holmes) move on to other things, the show still has a detective protagonist who can continue to solve cases in the same environment with the same supporting cast and the same title. I’m not saying it’d be good, but it’s possible.

I’ve been watching a lot of House M.Drecently, too. “Rewatching” is probably more accurate, since I’ve seen all but the last season at the time of posting. Regardless of my shaky memory of later seasons, it occurred to me that there’s no possible way to continue House M.D. without, well, House. I wouldn’t watch Cuddy M.D. or Wilson M.D., despite the fact that I love both those characters. House is very much centred around house.

Sherlock has the same issue. It’s all about the interaction between Cumberbatch‘s Holmes and Freeman’s Watson. Despite an excellent supporting cast, the show could not exist without them, although it could probably limp along for a season or two without Watson.

On the other hand, Elementary is developing the world where Holmes is not a genius-savant with no equal. Watson is already proving that with time and training she could become his equal. The show could regenerate with Lucy Liu as the main character, and taking on her own apprentice. Just as a woman could be the next Doctor (and should be, in my opinion), Liu’s Watson could easily be the new Sherlock Holmes. There is precedent for this.

Honestly, I’d continue to watch the show even without Miller. I think there’s enough there to create some interesting drama. On the other hand, so much of Sherlock and House M.D are based around their main characters that they couldn’t possibly survive without Benedict Cumberbatch and Hugh Laurie respectively.

What’s the point of this blog? I suppose it’s that not only Time Lords regenerate, and that maybe that’s not all bad.

Sherlocks

1The Night of the Doctor (OMG, 8!), The Last Day (OMG Arcadia), and And Adventure in Space and Time (OMG Hartnell).

2 The Day of the Doctor and the unnamed Xmas special with Peter Capaldi as the 12th (non-War) Doctor.

Paleo Day #3

Hello, again. Time to get back into blogging, I reckon.

So I’ve finished the Distance Delta and things are going pretty well and work and whatnot, so I’ve decided it’s a good time to start taking care of myself. Anyway, I came across the Paleo Diet while reading something about zombies (shutup) that someone at work (quite rightly) thought I’d find funny.

The main idea is that we’ve spend 95% of our history as hunter-gatherers and only 5% as farmers. As such, we haven’t evolved to deal with the sheer amount of grains and grain products that we eat everyday. So the idea is you eat only what a caveman could eat. Last night I had steak, eggs, tomatoes and mushrooms. Right now I’m eating a vegetarian omelette.

Yes, it’s gratuitous. No, I don’t care.

It’s a pretty easy diet to follow with a lot of support online. I’m actually rather enjoying it, putting aside the freshly-baked goodies my ex-housemate left behind that I’m trying to ignore.There’s also the issue that my long-term knee injury is killing me. Or it is whenever I rely on it a little to hard. I’m worried about it, but I don’t have health insurance, so it’ll cost me a fortune to fix anything that can’t be helped by ibuprofen. So high-impact exercise is kind of out of the question for the foreseeable.

So, yeah. That’s what I’m doing at the moment. Along with a potential full-time position at work and looking for a new housemate, all’s well.