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Page 18


Elsewhere on this site, there is an excellent game called Murkon's Refuge (its greatness has nothing to do with the fact that I wrote it) which illustrates by practical example my new idea of building cities inside monster-infested underground labyrinths. The idea came to me when I was spelunking in New Zealand about a year ago. As I was wading in hip-deep eel-infested waters and bonking my helmet into delicate geological formations, I thought, you know, this would be a great place to live. Building buildings inside caves is very economical, you know, because half the walls are already built. I figured, ok, if I build a house on the other side of that underground stream, where the rock walls sort of bow out a bit, I'd only need a small smattering of building materials, and I'd get a natural creature-laden moat for free. I've always wanted a moat to discourage salesmen, Jehovah's Witnesses, and electric meter readers, but I never dared hope for one, let alone one with actual slimy creatures living in it. The climate would be cool in the summer, and I wouldn't need to shovel in the winter. The sun wouldn't wake me up at the ungodly hour of 10am by shining through my window, and that incredibly irritating crow that likes to perch in my front yard and pretend it can sing would be out of my life once and for all. But I think the best part about living in a cave would be running around saying gollum, gollum and freaking the living daylights out of anybody that came by.


Not to plug Murkon's Refuge, which is a fully-featured free online game which you can play now by going to, but I think it's so nice that ravenous fire-breathing animals are so sporting about hunting you down. There's a strict code of honor, you know. Once one group of beasties has had its chance at you and lost, the next will wait patiently and give you a chance to loot the bodies and recover before attacking. I can just imagine being down there, surrounded by nightmarishly evil monsters, and you've just slain a humongous Dragon Giant of the Underworld, and while you're still physically fully functional, you're about one paper cut away from instant death, and all these Hobgoblins of Toxic Fire -- creatures that kill for pleasure, drink the blood of their victims out of skull goblets, and use kneecaps for frisbees -- are standing around being all noble and saying, "We wait until you are ready." So meanwhile you get to rest up, take some time to disarm a booby-trapped chest, bag the loot, swap some equipment around, hang out a while, shoot the breeze. The hobgoblins kill time with dice and cards and stuff. ("Spades are trumps, I believe, Oogk.") Then finally you're all ready for battle, and the hobgoblins nod politely back as they gather their assorted war hammers and battle axes. Then you RUN FOR IT, and the hobgoblins chase you about ten feet, say, "AW, NOT THE WALK-THROUGH-A-DOOR ESCAPE TRICK! Man, that gets us EVERY TIME!" and go home.


Speaking of Murkon's Refuge, what's up with that kindly adventurer that apparently patrols thickly infested monster nests just to find dead bodies to drag back to town? He must be the most powerful warrior in the universe -- either that, or he pays off the monsters for safe passage. I figure he's employed by the clinic for the purpose of finding patrons for their services. I think we should have people like that that work for hospitals. I'd love to have that job -- patrol around looking for people with injuries. The competition would be great. Somebody collapses in the street, and five patient scouts race for the body. ("Back off, I called dibs first!") Maybe they'd get commissions from what bills the patients rack up. Not only would this system create new jobs, but it would make things cheaper for patients, as they'd get free ambulance rides.


Technology has just got to come up with a replacement for employment. Time is money. Imagine the cost-benefit to securing an additional eight hours per weekday plus commuting time? The way to do this, I think, is to figure out how to install oneself on a computer. Yes, that's "apt-get install myself" for you Debian Linux types. Then your installed self works at the company, and you go home with a big fat check for services rendered.


Recently I ordered breakfast from a hotel restaurant. I ordered eggs and toast. I got eggs, toast, and a leaf. Garnishes are among the most absurd paradoxes of the universe. Is there anything so bereft of purpose as food you can't eat? It's crazy that we even have a word for it. Next time I get an inedible green thing on my dinner plate, I shall politely inform the waiter that the cook forgot to husk my meal. Here's another silly garnish: a paper-thin slice of orange, split along a radius, and twisted all around so it rests on the plate like it came out of some vegetarian's torture chamber. I got one of these once. I ate it to put it out of its misery, but I could barely taste it. For the amount of money that restaurant spent to have a chef slice that orange so thin and arrange it so meticulously, I could have had a whole orange. I think I'm going to open a restaurant that sells only garnishes. Nobody would go there, but I could show it as a performance art exhibit and get lots of critics praising me with big words on how aptly I expose and satirize how much value our superficial society places on hollow appearances.


I think it would be really cool if people molted. Imagine the practical jokes that would abound! You molt off a layer of skin, then prop it up somewhere and fake people out. You could stuff your own head and mount it on the wall and tell hunting stories. ("I remember when I shot me that me. It was back in aught two; I waited out in the chilly morning for three hours, but when I had me in my sights, I knew I was a goner.") The best part would be if you could steal someone else's skin, wear that, rob a bank, and nail the other guy for it.


I think a lot of things, especially right now. I have just consumed a hearty meal of Chinese food with enough monosodium glutamate to sedate an elephant. To compensate, I've been having Mountain Dew and coffee and chocolate. I am, therefore, wide asleep and fast awake. I have a cured headache. My extremities are filled with obdormition and the jitters. I have, in fact, after long hours of soul-searching and ingestion, stumbled into the perfect state of hyper-conscious catatonia. Time for a glass of nutmeg.


A lot of streets are named after trees, a common one being "Elm Street," in spite of the fact that most Elm Streets don't have elms on them anymore. That's fine, but why trees? People are more important than trees. I think it would rule to live on Girl Scout Street or Heroin Addict Street or Homeless Person On the Street Street. Knowing my luck, I'd wind up on Flight Attendant Street Formerly Known as Stewardess Street, requiring me to purchase ultra-wide envelopes.


Sometimes amazing coincidences don't happen. I was over in the administrative offices of my company earlier this afternoon, and I bumped into somebody that wasn't my old study partner in Introduction to Psychology eleven years ago.


People say it's healthy to drink water, and I think they're right, because I've never once suffered a heart attack or epileptic seizure while drinking water. I have a water bottle at work, and I sip from it throughout the day. I never guess right how much I'll wind up drinking, so either I have to refill in the middle of the day (an unfortunate expenditure of exercise), or I have water left over at the end of the day. I hate to waste water like it falls out of the sky or something, but the thing is, water gets contaminated if you leave it in a sealed container overnight. Ever notice that? Screw the cap on the bottle tight -- makes no difference. If it's not refrigerated, that water is tainted forever after. Old water is, like, rotten or something. Leave it out, it goes bad. I drink it anyway.