Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Boy of two worlds - A memior (Chapter 1)

(Sorry for the lack of posts, Compy still broke)

UPDATE: Fixed spelling and other errors.

I love not just writing about worlds, but thinking about what it would be like to enter them. I had in my mind a story about two people traveling to Saltha and encountering the different customs and culture from the point of view of the humans (and perhaps it'd be interesting to hear the other native POV later). This is what I hope will be a series, told from the POV of a boy traveling to Saltha for the first time as a memior.

Boy of Two homes
A memoir of Zachary Talyorson

No can argue that my childhood was an unusual one. Born the son of a diplomat, I had the rare chance to be one of the first humans to go to saltha and live most of my boyhood there. I was to live those years far from children who looked like me and in many ways acted like me, though I also came to see the sameness inherit within. My journey began when my father was assigned shortly after the end of the war to go to Saltha and write a report on the customs of the Salthan people. He was to live in a Salthan home with a family and observe daily life. I was at the time seven years old, and had mixed feelings about going. On the one hand, I was leaving behind all my old friends, and I knew at the very least I had the vague notion that life there would be different, uncomfortable and unsuited to my culture for humans, and even "backwards". On the other hand, I had a strong desire for adventure, and had grown up reading adventure stories. I had the idea of going far away some day, and being an explorer but I had never dreamed up to this point that the day would come so soon, and I felt still unprepared. My father had considered leaving me with my aunt and uncle, but I insisted on going, even after my father's insistence that the journey would be hard.

The journey was a long, hot and bumpy through the desert until we finally I saw the walled city in the distance. This was the city of Ten Terak, not far from the eastern border of Saltha. It was I later learned the former capital of the country. The date was April 15th, the 19th year of king Baderford of Braydon. Of course, then I didn't know the historical significance of what was happening, but instead I was a young boy swept into the adventure I had read of in books.

We stopped in a square. The buildings were flat, squarish and made of brick, showing little or no adornments.
It was evening, and the sun was just going down, and there were still a good number of people there. This was the second time I had seen a Salthan up close, since my father introduced me to a Salthan diplomat who visited Braydon. I noticed, with some embarrassment that children, boys and girls, some who looked older than me wore absolutely nothing at all. Many of the people kept on their business, but also stared at us, some more brazenly stopping to stare. They had probably never seen humans before, having surrendered before the war’s end had saved them from being occupied.

"Don't stare" my father said. I hadn't realized I was staring. "But their staring at us" I said. At that moment a man approached us, followed by a woman and a boy. All three wore the clothing of the adults wore, a long short-sleeved robe with a long sleeved robe underneath. "Beeka esha" the man said, holding his arms out palm upward, and giving a short sharp bob of his head. My father did his best to imitate this movement. "I am Elsal. He said. "You are gitaylorson?" (The "gi-" added at the beginning is an honorific, and he pronounced the "y" in our name as "ee".) My father told him he was. "This is my son, Zack.”

"It is a great honor to have you here." Elsal said. The man indicated the woman. "This is my wife SadaKari," and then indicating the boy "and this son, Lail." With the introductions done, the man took my father's suitcase and lail carried mine and he lead the way to their home.

The home was like the others I had seen in the square. The first floor was a single room with a short table and a cooking area. On the left I could see stairs, and a curtained off area on the left side. "A room for you has been prepared." Elsail said. "Then you can be cleaned up for dinner.” The man led the way upstairs. The upstairs had no walls, except for curtains hanging from hooks on the ceiling. The man came to one part of the curtain and unhooked one end. "This is your room." he said, and set my father's case down. The room was bare of any furniture except a mat on the floor. And then he went a little further and unhooked another end of a curtain "And this is the boy's room." It was much the same as the other, with nothing but a mat and Lail put my case down there. "Now" the man said. "You shall be cleaned up, and we will have dinner, I want to hear much of your country."

We were lead back downstairs and to the curtained room. It was a small tiled room with a tub on one end. Sadakari sat on a stool. She explained that here they wash up first, and then get in the tub to soak, and then me and Lail could talk (Lail had also been learning the common human trade language). She also said that it was the host's duty to do the cleaning. I was more than a little shy taking of my clothes and having the woman wash me. Once this was done she doused me with a bucket of water. It was cold, but not as cold as I had expected (apparently it had been warmed a little in the other room). Once this was done I thought it was done and could get in the tub, but as I turned the woman grabbed my arm and I saw her reach for a wooden switch on a shelf. My father asked her something, which I didn't understand in Salthan and she replied, in Salthan. This went back and forth, and I stood there, naked and cold and confused. Had I done something wrong, and the woman wanted to beat me for it? My father and the woman talked back and forth, and it seemed like from his tone he was trying to haggle. After a few minutes of this my father called me aside.

"Son" he said. "You remember that I said some parts of this would be difficult. I'm afraid I'm going to have to let her switch you." I was shocked at what I was hearing. "Why? What did I do?" "No, no, you didn't do anything wrong." He said. "But it is something they do, as part of what they believe is cleaning. They do this once at the end of each month in their calendar, which happens to be today. She told me that if she is not allowed you are unclean and cannot stay here in Saltha, but I can't go back yet either. I hope you understand." At that moment, Lail who had already been cleaned was already receiving his punishment, five sharp swats across his bottom with the switch, and then he went into the tub and it was my turn. I was bent over and received the five quick swats which stung, but was over quickly and then I joined Lail in the tub.

I had no idea of what to say. "Hello" I said. "Hello." He said back. It occurred to me that he was thinking the same thing as me. "It's hot here." I said. "Seth" he said. "Is it not like this in your country?"
"Sometimes, but only during the summer time, so about a quarter of the year."
"And what is it like the other times?"
"Sometimes it's very cold, and it snows sometimes."
"Snow?" he asked.
"You don't know what snow is?"
"No." He said. "What is it?"
"Well, it's white stuff that's soft and is very cold that falls from the sky."
"Ah." He said, I have heard of it, we have it in the mountains, but we never go there. There is snow all over your country?"
"I had wondered what you country was like, but I don't think I'd like to go there, at least not during the snow time."
We talked about a few things like sports and school, and too soon Laic’s mother came in to tell us it was time for dinner. I could already smell the food from the next room

We all sat cross-legged on the floor on mats on the ground around the table. They served vegetables, a cooked grain cereal and bread that had cooked fish meat inside. All three of the Salthans asked a lot of questions about our home country, what the buildings were like, what we liked to do. Lail repeated what I had told him about snow in the bath. After dinner was done Elsal said "Well, you're probably tired from your journey and wish to sleep. Tomorrow is a big day, and there is school tomorrow so we all should turn in. Good night."

We went upstairs and I went to the room I was assigned and laid down on the mat. Though it was harder than the bed I was used to at home, it less uncomfortable then I had expected. I was tired from the long journey, though I was also excited about where I was and my new friend, but tiredness won and I fell asleep.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Mini Review: Section 9

Last night I got the chance to finaly see Section 9. I had been wanting to see it for a while, since people kept asking me if I saw it and telling me how awesome it was when I answered in the negetive. I will try to keep spoilers to a minimum in this review.

The basic plot of begining of the movie is that some aliens crash land in Johanisberg, South Africa and are cordoned off in ghetto camps, and generaly treated like non sencient beings. The movie starts with a millitary group called the MNU trying to move them to a smaller camp further away from humans. The location is of course very intentional, and the writer/director is from S. Africa. They don't hit you over the head with this, and the aparthid is never mentioned, though it is enough that the viewers carry this in the backs of their minds as a connecting theme.

It was an interesting movie, and I did enjoy it, over all it was a very good science fiction action movie, and more than that had a lot of "brain" to it, and thigns to think about.

However, I thought there were aspects that were lacking. As someone interested in anthropology I was disapointed how little we got too little a look at the alien's culture. They like cat food for some reason, but there's no cultural reason why that'd be sinifigent, and so just comes off as this quant thing thrown in.

Also, I thought the main character was just a plain ass through most of the movie, and had a hard time connecting or feeling sympathy for him. Perhaps that was the point that I connected more with the alien. At first I thought it was just cluelessness but he apears pretty quickly to have no problems with outright genocide and mistreatment.

I liked the sort of documentry style of the shooting of the movie, employing many "head cam" shots and interviews with people interspersed, and yet it didn't interfere with the action sequences and the story of the movie.

Now that I've seen it, I agree it was a pretty great movie, and I recomend it.

I was thinking that it may be interesting for people to try to develop a culture and history for this race of aliens. Other people interested?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A week without posts

Wow. It's been nearly a week since I last posted. Sorry, to those who may be reading this. My computer's still on the outs. I'm currently working also on applying for a cool job that I hope I get, but I'm not sure I should be more specific than that right now. So yeah, vagueness.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


This one of the most amazing things I've ever seen, interactive little computers that interact that communicate with each other. I want one of these!

TED talk - Siftables (YouTube video, 7 minutes)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Mini Review: End of the Spear

On the flght I read through "The end of the spear" by Steve Saint. I thought it was perticularly fitting since I was going to ecuador.

The story of his father was widely published throughout the world when he and four others were killed by the "Aucas", or Wodoni who they were trying to make contact with in the jungle of ecuador.

Steve Saint tells the story of his living with there very people who killed his father as a boy, and how the lives of a tribe that lived with killing and hate turned around. The story has humor and is deeply moving, and was a truely fascinating read.

I was also very fascinated as a sort of hobby anthropologist the description of the culture, and how outsiders did their best to fit in to such a different world. There was the opposite factor of wodani trying to fit into the culture of ecuador and america (which are fairly different from each other!) that is poignent, funny and fascinating.

Over all, it is very well written. I thought perhaps the time skips were a little confusing, but I figured out pretty quickly when it was supposed to be. I highly recomend this book, especially for those who enjoy biographies.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Just got back from Ecuador... no my arms aren't tired.

I just got back from a 9 day trip to Ecuador. It was quite an experience, and especially interesting going to a place with another culture and sets of customs. I guess "thrown into" would be a good description. Some of those customs did seem pretty strange as an outsider (as I'd imagine mine would seem strange to them), and even the locals didn't exactly know how those customs were formed (for example, the brides maids wearing red).

It took some getting used to, and of course it wasn't a long enough time to not feel like a silly outsider, but I feel like I acclimated to some of the customs there.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Democratic Game Design Redux

(My computer is still down, so thus my lack of posting. I'm working on it, or rather have a relative working on it, and hope to have it back up soon.)

Though I had linked to another democratic game design project of mine, little paper men on my sidebar, I didn't mention it because it was still messy and I hadn't done anything with it for at least a year. Now that I have done some updating (still needs quite a bit of work, hint hint contributes) but it's in a state where I'm not too embarrassed to draw attention to it. The idea is to put stats to paper miniatures figures to provide a simple and cheap (practically free) war game. Right now I have a shoe box full of paper figures of different sizes and types that were really easy to put together (I'm not much of a do-it-yourselfer).

I found it fun to try to think about how the abilities for characters would reflect characters, especially abilities that are flaws, making things harder not easier.

Anyway, check it out. Anything I wrote is just there so there's something and nothing is set in stone, and I look foreword to hearing other people's ideas.