Archive for 2010

In the last few years, I have been trying to write at least one post each month. I often fail. Of course, most failures are carefully hidden by altering the date of publication and soon enough not even I remember I missed the day. Always at war with Eurasia, by the way.

This monthly schedule had a clear impact on the themes I talk about. It makes it pointless to write about recent events, so the majority of posts from the last two or three years are memories and thoughts about the world or my own situation or something like that. But talking about myself in the last few days of December seemed too selfish, while everyone worried about Christmas and New Year and wishing each other peace and happiness and whatnot. So in the last two years I boarded the wagon and wrote cute (cute?) posts about how this is a fun and good time of the year, even for those people to whom religious dates are meaningless and New Year means only a different number on the calendar.

And it is a good time. For kids, there is a long vacation and a new classroom in school, perhaps even a whole new school – or maybe college. (For kids here, at least, where they figured the school year had no business matching up to the harvests.) For people who work, it is a few days off and a bit of extra money. For many people, it is the time to see relatives they rarely see. (And I know so many would rather be alone, but really, let those who enjoy it just enjoy it; pretend you miss them and are having fun until the next day, when you can post all about the soul-tearing pain and agony in your Tumblr, with a caption in Helvetica over a picture in sepia.) Sidetracked.

But, see, this year, I did lack the time to write this post. It was an extremely busy month. In fact, I only stopped working an hour ago and will continue to work tomorrow morning. I came home on the 23rd and, aside from sleeping, I worked for all but some twenty hours, maybe less. Relatives were getting angry, even, that I was never there for the festivities. Many things went wrong in the last two or three months, so to put things back on track and not carry this mess into 2011 we all made an agreement at work, and hopefully we will have extra free days along the year. All good, I like what I do.

Still, lack of time was not the only thing that kept me from writing. There was just a general lack of this End of Year spirit from other years. And not only because I was working, it was already weird before. I do not recall seeing Christmas ads on TV, for example. (And the social nucleus is facing severe Manhattan Project.) The only time it felt like Christmas was one afternoon when I sat in the living room and just looked at the Christmas tree for a good half hour. We have a beautiful tree this year, it is almost unfair for it to be used in such a non-Christmas’esque Christmas.

This lack of spirit is disturbing. 2010 barely existed: it had eight or nine months at best, no way it had twelve. I expect someone to come up tomorrow and say “sorry, we pulled too many pages from the calendar last time, 2010 still has two months to go”. I would absolutely believe it, it would make perfect sense.

Just in case that does not happen, however, I hope you all had fun this year, and have even more fun in the next. Health and riches and peace and love, everyone is probably already wishing you that, so I wish you have fun. Enjoy it. Happy New Year. :)

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I forgot most of the details, but I remember back then coming up with a way to put present day Earth, Dark Ages and Loom in the same universe. I never wrote about it because it would obviously not win any in-game contest. Not that any of this is relevant now, of course. I had to change some key views presented in the game’s lore to fit it into our universe.

The history of Dark Ages states that Danaan arrived on Temuair with her Tuatha (fairies?) and brought light and the other gods or something like that. (Funny how it all seemed so very important at the time, and now I barely recall it.) Before she arrived, there was the civilization called Aosda. I remember Aosda was supposed to not dwell in magic, but in technology – not sure if canon (from the original site) or semi-canon (from a Chaos or Atavism Aisling contest-winning entry – while infinitely less glorious than we think it was, we did build that world).

Aosda is us, Western-Judeo-Christian Civilization. At some point something went wrong and our civilization collapsed into such a terrible state that no record remained – or at least anything that remained was lost during the Danaan Era, which spawned some three thousand years and began when Danaan “arrived”. The official lore mentioned something like thirty-two thousand years between the dawn of civilization and the end of this first phase, with a complete collapse somewhere in the middle. That is just what was left of the records starting from Ancient Egypt, Greece, China, Mayans, into the Middle Ages and possibly some greater collapse somewhere, perhaps 2012 (haha). But we got better and civilization prospered again until the next big thing that went wrong big time and put an end to it all.

Danaan is what went wrong. Aosda was thriving but relied heavily on technology. A huge spaceship filled with faeries showed up looking for a place to colonize because their own world had been decimated by something. “Hey, look, Class-M planet, land there!”, and the huge warp field from that ship (accidentally) acted as the worst possible solar flare and/or EMP ever imagined. It wiped all digital data, stopped all devices and machinery that required anything electronic – at the time it happened, Earth was entirely dependent on it. Some knowledge remained in non-digital format, but the extraction and use of most resources relied too much on what was lost. No energy or food was being produced anymore, no water was being treated or distributed, no communication was possible beyond shouting distance. What little military or government resources had been saved from the explosive arrival of Danaan was meaningless when everything else in the world had been fried. Immediately, millions dead in plane crashes, train wrecks, car crashes, hospital failures; soon, more millions would be dead from famine, disease, conflicts for resources. That, and a huge spaceship filled the sky with light. The age of Danaan began in a standard post-apocalyptic scenario.

But before that, there was Chadul. The god of darkness was a huge living mass created from genetic manipulation. No “perhaps they cried too loud”, it was a monster created in a laboratory, perhaps for military ends, perhaps by accident. (At the time, I was reading “Bastard!!” and found the idea of the goddess Anthrasax, created by humans, would fit well enough for Chadul.) But it was not “magical”, of course; it could adapt around change easily, even biologically, its body a terrible mixture of cancer cells and stem cells that continually consumed and rebuilt itself. When Aosda realized that thing was out of human control, they “put it to sleep”, made it hibernate, so it would stop mutating. After all, although horrendous, its cells opened doors unimagined up to that point, and far more research needed to be done before they wiped it from existence. But Danaan’s arrival broke the locks. For a couple thousand years, it just sat forgotten in its lab, a huge immortal mass of cells slowly evolving from random mutation.

But first things first. The tuatha arrived in their huge spaceship, nearly destroyed the world, and figured they had no better option in the short-term: they landed and walked out of the Danaan into the warring humankind. They wanted little to do with the starving primates we had become. They built their Hy-brasyl and started reshaping what was left of mankind into something more to their liking, until “Aosda” disappeared and they could reforge our past as they saw fit.

The tuatha’s limited numbers, however, prevented full control of the Earth. Those they could not have under their eyes and fists were dubbed “worshippers of Kadath” or some other nonsense – “worship the wrong god and everything will go wrong in the world”, as we have today, so everything was the fault of these people. They were merely humans who managed to survive the Danaan-made Apocalypse and the decades of turmoil that followed, and began to rebuilt their civilization away from the aliens. War often broke out between the groups and inside them, as was to be expected.

Hy-brasyl eventually “split” and “drowned”, probably a coincidence of a petty internal struggle followed by a natural disaster. The broken spaceship Danaan remained somewhere, independent of the city, perhaps serving as a stationary overseer, populated by the tuatha aristocracy. Maybe Hy-brasyl were just the outcasts, a group who wanted to have closer contact with the natives. Maybe Hy-brasyl was a zoo created by the tuatha to study the behavior of the natives when they were not fighting each other for food and water – and when they had enough of each specimen, they made it to “slip beneath the waves”, “with no regrets”. Whatever the place was, they altered the records to seem like it was paradise and an external power caused its demise. But they did get somewhere before the city collapsed.

The things that eventually became wizards and deities and Aislings in general were the result of the tuatha having fun with our genetics – perhaps in an attempt to make both species compatible, fearing their reduced numbers could lead to their extinction, perhaps to create more practical servants. Ainmeal and six of the eight deities were eventual consequences of this.

One thing the Grinneal/Kadath group eventually did was uncover the remains of an ancient lab where a creature had been enjoying random mutation and uncontrolled growth for almost two thousand years. But they did not find the creature right away; instead, they encountered horrible distorted things that had been contaminated by the creature’s cells and had their bodies completely taken over by it – the Dubhaimid. Some humans were also touched by it, but the constant mutation of the cells made it so not all had similar fate – most merely died as their bodies tried in vain to fight the most violent infection to ever exist.

It so happened that one human exploring the lab survived just long enough for his genetic material and the invading cells to reach a balance. The process of reaching said balance, however, was enough to cripple him and keep him stuck inside the lab. He crawled forward just enough to come into contact with the original creature from where the cells had come. His body was assimilated back into the mass, the genetic information added to the thing’s pool. From that, soon the thing developed a form of nervous system, and with that, thought, conscience – so Chadul was born.

Aware, Chadul grew now with a purpose, entrenched itself deeper into the earth and spread wide. Dubhaim Castle, Cthonic Remais, Kasmanium Mines, Chaos – all places that went deep enough to reach Chadul, and the creatures who survived formed each place’s twisted ecosystem. Humans who walked close enough to what remained of the lab believed to have walked into a different dimension, perhaps hell itself – it was as if the place was part of Chadul. Most died from contamination. A few survived. Over the decades and centuries, Chadul learned to communicate with them. One of them became Sgrios. Others pledged loyalty to it and were given specialized cells that made them stronger. Tenes and the League of Darkness were among these.

The tuatha lose importance around this time. Perhaps Earth’s atmosphere or the nutritional values of what they could produce here was not fully at par with their homeland and they slowly devolved, became smaller and lost abilities. By the era of Aislings, they were little more than glorified fireflies, assuming those winged things in the Woodlands that people called faeries were indeed tuatha. And eventually all the things they had created with their genetic tampering started being called tuatha.

With them mostly out of the picture, humans were free to wage their own wars, and no better war than the mutants of Chadul versus the mutants of Danaan. This dominated the era, but it was easier for Chadul to infect hundreds and see who survived than for the few remaining actual tuatha capable of producing more genetic-altered warriors. Then one of Chadul’s guys, a traitor called Deoch, thought tuatha were cuter than Dubhaimid and gave away the location of Chadul itself. The tuatha went for what was left of the Danaan spaceship, or what little they still knew how to operate,  and prepared the biggest terrorist attack since some forgotten year of Grinneal somewhen, on a Tuesday. They rigged the ship to explode and launched it against what once was Anaman Labs, and now housed most of Chadul’s nervous system (and was probably under Loures somewhere). And they called it “the sacrifice of Danaan”.

With the explosion, Chadul lost its thought capacity and reverted to a huge mass of organic stuff. After thousands of years, it probably lost the ability to mutate and reform itself so quickly, so it naturally went into hibernation while its nervous system is being reformed. This stabilized the environments it touched, which is why Aislings could walk safely into the deepest levels of the Cthonic Remains et al, and the creatures in there were always the same. It is unknown if Chadul’s eventual, if at all possible, reformed nervous system will have any of its memories. It is also unknown if the tuatha salvaged anything from the starship Danaan before launching her; some believe they kept the knowledge of how it was built, so they could eventually build a new one (and either escape the planet again or throw it against Chadul again, hoping for complete destruction this time).

Meanwhile, “Aislings”, the leftovers of the manipulation that created Ainmeal and the deities, go around thinking Deoch gave them “his spark” and they now own the world. Nonsense. The real warriors are just letting they play for a while – while Chadul recovers, and while the new ship is being built.

And the lamps all around Temuair, which use “a drop of the sixth element”, “Light”, are actually made of radioactive material extracted from the wreck of the Danaan. Every light casts a shadow.

* * *

This looks a lot bigger now that I actually wrote it than it did in my mind. It actually matches most of the events in Seanchas Temuair as it is, so I will save the linking to Loom for later. Barely anybody played Loom, anyway. And I know how much editing and proofreading and rewriting this needs, but really, would it give me even a Kingdom level award? I will spare myself the trouble, then.

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Alguns cruzamentos têm uma placa que diz isso:

AGUARDE O VERDE
SEMÁFORO DE TRÊS FASES

Eu passei inúmeros anos perguntando o que era um verde semáforo de três fases, e por que usavam uma construção tão estranha, ao invés de “Aguarde o semáforo verde de três fases”. Não entendia por que só o verde tinha três fases, ou por que esse de três fases era diferente dos outros verdes de menos fases, que também deviam ser aguardados.

Um dia percebi que os cruzamentos que tinham essa placa tinham também semáforos de pedestre. Racionalizei que o verde dos pedestres contava como uma fase do verde geral da entidade semáforo, que designava todo o conjunto do cruzamento. E, como o semáforo de pedestres não tem luz amarela, fazia sentido que fosse o “verde semáforo de três fases”; se o de pedestres tivesse amarelo, não precisariam especificar que era o verde, mas nesse caso o amarelo tinha uma fase a menos. As três fases do verde, mencionadas na placa, seriam “principal aceso, de pedestres apagado: veículos passam”, “principal apagado, de pedestres aceso: veículos param, pedestres passam”, “ambos apagados: todos param”.

Essa explicação exageradamente complicada foi a única que fez algum sentido pra mim. Foram mais alguns anos tendo certeza de que era exatamente isso que a placa dizia, que o verde tinha essas três fases. Só não entendia por que os criadores de placa usavam um sistema tão difícil de entender; afinal, era um semáforo, aquela coisa que aprendemos desde o Prépri-Mário que significa “Pare, Atenção, Siga”.

“Deve ser alguma coisa como o jazz, que eu vou entender direito quando ficar mais velho”, eu pensava. E devia ser algo de fato muito complicado. Na época, algum livro meu tinha uma coleção de placas de trânsito em algum apêndice, junto com bandeiras de inúmeros países e outras curiosidades que tanto fascinam as crianças. Eu sabia todas as placas, acreditava entender muito bem o que cada uma significava (exceto o “Dê a preferência”, que achava ser algo como “Escolha qual via tem a preferência” e me parecia perigosíssimo, “como o outro motorista vai saber qual eu escolhi?”, mas depois eu aprendi o que era “preferência” e entendi). E não havia menção ao tal verde semáforo de três fases. Devia ser algo realmente muito complicado, que só era explicado nos níveis superiores das auto-escolas (CFC ainda era cloro-flúor-carbono – e existia MacSalad). Eu até sentia algum orgulho por ter descoberto sozinho quais eram as três fases, e que o semáforo de pedestres fazia parte do conjunto mas não tinha amarelo, etc, mas mesmo assim aquela dúvida me perseguia, e eu ficaria muito feliz de saná-la oficialmente, com explicações adequadas, batessem ou não com minhas deduções.

Aí um dia eu vi uma placa dessas que já estava meio enferrujada, descascando; acho até que alguém tinha usado pra prática de tiro, pobrezinha. Algumas letras estavam meio apagadas, vários pontos ao redor da frase estavam manchados. E calhou de uma dessas manchas estar no lugar exato pra transformar a frase nisso:

AGUARDE O VERDE,
SEMÁFORO DE TRÊS FASES

Ah…

Não estou embelezando a história, foi exatamente o que aconteceu. O verde semáforo de três fases me perseguiu durante anos, e por mais que eu perguntasse, ninguém conseguia entender minha dúvida. Pra todo mundo era óbvio. “‘Aguarde o verde’, oras.” Tinha certeza que só repetiam a informação simplificada por ainda não me acharem capaz de entender o verde semáforo de três fases.

Mas não, faltava uma vírgula. Eram duas coisas separadas. Em duas linhas, todos as viam como duas frases distintas. Eu via uma oração. “NÃO FECHE O CRUZAMENTO” e “FISCALIZAÇÃO FOTOGRÁFICA DE VELOCIDADE” eram placas em que uma oração ocupava duas linhas, não via razão pro verde semáforo de três fases ser diferente. Mas foi necessário que chuva e vento e sol e granizo e tiros arrancassem pedaços da placa até aquele pedacinho providencial cair pra dar espaço à vírgula que deveria ter estado lá desde o princípio.

Esse post não é pra dizer “vejam só como a pontuação correta é importante” – embora, de fato, diga. Talvez seja mais pra ilustrar o quanto o óbvio pode não ser óbvio pra todos (como eu ia saber que eram duas frases, se os outros exemplos evidenciavam o contrário?). Ou ainda pra mostrar como alguém pode dar voltas incríveis pra explicar algo que não entende por faltar um conhecimento básico, ou pela informação estar incorreta (deixe a bola de neve correr e eventualmente o verde semáforo de três fases jogaria raios do céu pra forçar as pessoas a andar mais devagar e não passar no vermelho).

Mas deixando tudo isso de lado, independente do número de fases, não é óbvio que é pra aguardar o verde?

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Eu trabalho com mangás e gosto muito do que faço.

Pois é. Eu tenho um “emprego” mas não acordo reclamando todo dia por ter que ir trabalhar. Se é preciso ficar mais tempo no fim do dia pra terminar alguma coisa, não me incomodo. E se os prazos apertam, sacrifico o fim de semana pra tentar fazer tudo sair quando e como deve sair.

Não paga muito bem. Claro que acho que, pelo tanto que a redação produz, e principalmente pela qualidade, todos deveriam ganhar mais. Mas entendo que é um produto de alcance muito limitado, que é normal um título que consome mais de oitenta horas pra ser feito (somando todos os envolvidos no processo) não vender nem mil cópias. (Esse número é chutado, editoras brasileiras jamais divulgam as vendas. Tremenda bobagem.) Mesmo assim, por enquanto, ganhar pouco não é um grande problema. Fico feliz de ganhar pouco fazendo algo de que gosto tanto.

Muitas coisas não são como eu gostaria que fossem. Não estou num nível hierárquico suficiente pra fazer com que sejam. Então alguns sons viram verbos em inglês, muitas vezes utilizados em situações em que nem uma edição americana usaria (como um abraço fazer “grab”, um salto virar “dash”; o de sempre). Às vezes viram palavras em inglês a troco de nada, como isqueiros que acendem “bow”, água que espirra “swash” e guizo que toca “cling” ou “bling”. Mas o pior mesmo é quando explicam em português algo que o desenho claramente está mostrando: chama o desenhista de incompetente e o leitor de ignorante.

Eu reclamo disso o tempo todo. A cada um que sou forçado a deixar passar, Lachesis tira um fiapo da ponta do meu fio. Mas isso não é suficiente pra me fazer desgostar do que faço. É um elemento do qual discordo entre tantos outros que me agradam, e talvez um dia não haja do que discordar.

Também não gosto de todos os mangás com que trabalho. Tem coisa pior que Twilight, título com mais fetiches do que qualquer hentai, história com centenas de personagens irrelevantes lutando entre si, romances absolutamente previsíveis e/ou detestáveis. Mas tem a outra ponta, também, e se gosto tanto de metade dos mangás, posso sobreviver com a outra metade sem problemas.

Nenhuma reclamação sobre os colegas de redação. Imagino que o trabalho requeira determinados traços de personalidade bastante não-conflitantes. Discordo de muitas opiniões, mas a única forma de só enfrentar opiniões iguais às minhas é ler o que eu mesmo já escrevi. Mesmo a discordância é pacífica.

Só me é um tanto incompreensível que alguns vejam aquilo como “uma forma de pagar as contas”. Não consigo ver assim. Histórias em quadrinho são uma das formas de arte mais completas; lembro de alguém dizer que fazer uma história em quadrinhos é como fazer um filme com orçamento ilimitado. Cada história, por pior que seja, é uma criação elaborada que tomou muito tempo de um autor e um editor; cada página foi pensada por si só e em seu contexto, passou por inúmeras pessoas com diferentes (e grandes) talentos até chegar a mim (nós); e centenas de milhares de pessoas pelo mundo leram aquilo. E eu tenho a oportunidade de pegar o trabalho de tanta gente talentosa, adicionar a ele o pouco que sei fazer e torná-lo disponível para outras dezenas de milhares de pessoas. Isso é maravilhoso, é giganticamente mais que “uma forma de pagar as contas”.

Eu sei que só posso pensar assim porque não preciso me preocupar muito com as tais contas. Se estivesse sob risco de ser despejado, por exemplo, trocaria essa oportunidade de fazer algo maravilhoso por oito horas apertando parafusos, se pagasse melhor. Não é o caso. E dane-se o coitadismo nacional. Sinto muito se tanta gente faz coisas que odeia porque não tem alternativa (ou, em muitos casos, se acomodou demais pra procurar alternativas). Eu tenho a chance de trabalhar com algo de que gosto muito e acho extraordinário.

Eu trabalho com mangás. Paga mal, tem inúmeros problemas, nem sempre é divertido. E eu gosto muito do que faço.

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I spent two weeks of July with Ruby in Europe. Paris, Brussels and London. And it was a great trip, as I presume most such trips are, and they are probably all quite alike. So instead of talking about all the fun we had and places we visited, there are some things I wanted to mention.

In Paris, we were stopped numerous times by beggars of a dozen different nationalities, speaking more languages than I recall. And most times we really had no change at all with us – which must sound absurd to anyone living in Europe, where coins are so abundant. No, we only had our cards, and explaining that in whatever language we had been asked in was rather difficult. It was easier to say “I don’t understand” with a strong accent, to discourage further attempts, or to simply ignore it.

And I hold the firm belief London is where the British go on vacation, because there was not a single one working there – everyone performing a paid task was from India, China, Italy, (a country in) Africa or (a country in) Eastern Europe. Except the maid and the police officer in the Sherlock Holmes Museum; friendliest people I saw in the city, too.

A lot less beggars in London than in Paris, but there was this other thing keeping us in check: quite often, women fully covered, save for face and hands, would stop us in the street and ask “Do you speak English?”; “noh”, I would reply, trying to sound as strange as possible, but they carried on with the script: “Arabi?”. How likely would it be for a tourist in London to not speak a word of English but know Arabic? While their insistence did make me curious about their intentions, I decided it was best to assume they were Allah’s Witnesses and would stop me for a couple of hours to talk about the Koran. My favorite thing in the extremely hot European Summer we faced for those few days was the equally extreme shortness of the skirts, it would be a waste of time for all parties involved to talk to me about a deity who wants women to be nearly completely covered.

London gave me the impression it was barely tolerating my presence there. Perhaps they all sensed the star-and-stripes in my ki. “You have been touched by The-Continent-That-Must-Not-Be-Named, your soul is tainted; do what you must and leave us”. Or they knew I had been in Paris first. Still, it is absolutely not my fault that all their randomly sized and named coins have no or tiny indication of value! Big deal that your money is the most valuable in the world, if it just forces me to walk around with a ton of metal in my pockets! (Not that it mattered much, anyway, as Ruby only let me carry the two £0.01 coins I found. I am probably marked as a Level 1 challenge in the Thieves’ Guild.)

On the other hand, Paris seemed to be trying to make us feel welcome. (Note: here it is “we”; before it was “I” because Ruby was fully at home in London, as the Fource is very strong in her.) People tried to make an effort to understand what little French we could conjure. We soon found out most of them speak English, but with a twist: they understand you much better if you simulate a French accent (which puts you in the right frame of mind to better understand them as well).

I know you stated so in the first paragraph, but are you really going to do nothing but complain for this whole post?

Well, yes. You will also notice it is relatively short, I had very little to complain about this trip. But let me talk a little bit about Brussels before I wrap this up.

We arrived on Friday afternoon and left on Monday morning. That weekend was the World Cup’s finals. I very strongly want to believe said games were the reason for what we encountered there. There were two days of near nothingness: we would walk for an hour and not see a single person in the streets; other than a shady Chinese supermarket and the McDonald’s, all stores and restaurants were closed for most of our time there. It felt like Tokyo-3! “Main” tourist attractions were open (until 6pm), fortunately. (“Main” because hardly anybody seems to know Brussels is home to the Atomium, Mini-Europe and Comic Books Museum, everybody only knows about the Grand Place and the Manneken Pis.) But all chocolate stores, the other thing the city is known for, we passed by were closed – not that any chocolate would survive the heat. I hope to go back there someday; as it stands, Brussels felt like those areas in RPGs that are annoying at first because most doors are locked until you complete some quest.

All in all, aside from what I mention here, we had a great time on our trip to Europe. Me, Ruby and our friend Bob.

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