Another Stressful Evening as Mayor in SimCity 4

Another Stressful Evening as Mayor in SimCity 4

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Another Stressful Evening as Mayor in SimCity 4

Somewhere, unpublished in bookform, a famous mayor once said, "Show me a man without a vice and I'll show you an arid mind."

Everyone has their soft spot: if it's not cigarettes, it's alcohol or else mingling with the wrong partners. Mine is composed of seven letters and a magic number: SimCity 4. After six in the evening, I quit the word processor, e-mailer, my browser's online dictionary window and settle back in the swivel chair. It's time to clock in as mayor.

Pursky Muska: A bustling city in the southeastern part of Maxisland, connected to the farm country of Yarbow by railway. Tourist attractions include Big Ben, the Washington Monument, a minor league stadium, a chic country club and two seaports. Population size is 42,499.

The 6:02 News:
Bunnies have long history of aggression, also have deep philosophical side.

The first few minutes are usually the calmest, the perfect occasion to plant oak saplings on the parking lots of industrial buildings and blue spruce pines on residential backyards. This has environmental advisor Camille Meadows doffing her yellow straw hat in my direction. Trees reduce air pollution, and at 3 simoleons each, I call it a bargain.

Thanks to an mp3 program, importing songs in the game is a breeze. Joan Osborne's What If God Was One Of Us plays in the background. My bunny slippers tap in time with the beat. I have successfully moved J. Alfred Prufrock, complete with the fancy hat and pipe I chose myself, from the futureless Sims neighborhood, to the Ryan Apartments. Born somewhere outside Eliot's Waste Land, he was living with his cousin, Nancy Ellicott in a two-story house at 79 Crumplebottom Court. Recent conflicts with stray cats and Nancy's obsessed fan hardened his will to look for brighter horizons to such a point that he was seriously considering the marriage proposal of a certain Antonio Salieri... but that's in another game.

Right now he is happily driving a blue pick-up going to work at Havoc Bioenhancements and seems to have adapted well in his environment. At first, he ranted against the noise and traffic caused by the motor inn across the street. Ever since his brother-in-law came to visit, he realized the advantages of having one nearby. He now maintains that it is indispensable for really obnoxious relative relief.

The 6:06 News:
Words "Have a nice day" produce psychosis in 3% of hearers

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I make a mental note to avoid greeting shop clerks in this manner. Tentatively, I practice the more common arrivederci, but my tongue stumbles badly on the double r's. With an elementary school, two libraries, high school, private school, city college, university and booming high-tech industries, Pursky Muska researchers have no reason to boast inaccurate statistics.

If only they could come up with more helpful discoveries, like a solution to the garbage problem. The waste to energy plant up north continues spewing yellow smog across third of the city. But it's that or having trash litter the streets. Landfill zones, the alternative, are ugly and occupy much space. The inevitable flies are aesthetically unpleasant and can be heard miles away. Sadly, pollution has lowered the land value here. Sims in the premises complain that a smog cloud obstructs their view of the sky. Sunlight passage is also blocked, hence the ghastly pallor of its low-class inhabitants. Social climbers avoid this area like the plague.

The 6.10 News:
Angel found dancing on pinhead ordered to stop; cited for public nuisance

Time certainly passes when there's work to be done in Pursky Muska. Just a few minutes... and it's New Year's Day again! I watch the display of fireworks from my classy villa, located in the uptown area, flanked by a clinic and police station. On such moments, I feel very Salieri before Mozart strutted into his life with a better wig: "Everybody liked me. I liked myself." The citizens are calm and content; Sim parents fight among themselves on who gets to name their child after the mayor.

Prufrock is on the line again. He claims to have glimpsed Headless Harry in the cemetery from his 26th-story window and swears it wasn't swamp gas. I add it to his public nuisance record. If he calls again just to request better glove variety at Sims 4th Avenue, I may have the idle doctors next door etherize him on a table.

The 6:15 News:
Reckless skateboarding indicates hidden propensity for Elizabethan poetry, researchers avow

Over-the-counter mayoral lessons state that flower gardens and playgrounds increase land value and desirability in residential zones. It is heartening to know that the various skateboard parks in the city have also become observation areas for serious researchers.

Fire has broken out at Farley's Foundry again! I locate the exact spot on the map and direct the firemen to the scene. With experience and six stations strategically posted in the city, these episodes have become less nerve-wracking. On zoom, the water from their hoses is a child's delight to watch. I realize the problem may be solved by erecting another station nearby, but construction and maintenance have their costs. Plus, I rather enjoy the rave reports of citizens applauding their unfazed mayor's efficiency in the face of calamity.

The 6:21 News:
Fleas protest bad wages, long hours at flea market

Drat. Police officers have gone on strike. For some reason, public workers treat this right to protest as a personal obligation. Every time I see people with placards, I get the sensation of buzzing flies in my ears. I raise the public safety budget; the shouting stops. For fear of a domino effect, I increase all public service spending to the max. This has financial advisor, Monique Diamond seething behind her glasses. But it ought to keep those fleas off my back. The truth is I just like planting trees, watching their yearly growth, observing the construction and reconstruction of buildings. Sometimes whales can be sighted from the coast.

The 6.27 News:
Researcher says staring at dormant phone proven to decrease calls

Fact: Pursky Muska is losing money. It seems like the perfect time to reauthorize gambling -- which adds some simoleons in the treasury. Unfortunately, it also increases crime rates. Hmmm. Perhaps recent scientific findings may be applied to financial crisis: if I stop staring at Ms. Diamond's warning memos in red, would the coffers stop dwindling? To ease stress and fight erosion, I plant some noble fir pine saplings on the cliffs overlooking the sea.

Utilities advisor Jonas Sparks waves me down in mid-click. With the population and industry growth, the water supply of the city has become insufficient. I immediately purchase two pumps at §1,400 each. Somewhere in the midst of these snap decisions and careful spending lies the reason my grocery money never lasts long. But somehow I can't put my finger on it.

The 6:33 News:
High-protein diets linked to urge to buy undersized shoes

It's only half true. And that half applies mostly to women. My mother claims the feet of housewives have more tendency to grow inside bunny slippers (which have a deep philosophical side). I try not to think of last year's shoes abandoned under the bed and in closets.

Like clowns coming over to cheer up a good friend, Pursky Muska citizens clamor for more commercial areas. Unemployment is going up. As a result, many condominiums are being abandoned as Sims leave for other cities in search of office jobs. I pave the forest near the solar power plant and zone the area for commercial buildings. In the middle, I construct a large plaza to increase land value and attract commerce. Since the efficiency of recreational sites to make citizens calm and content is doubled with additional trees, I pepper the plaza with fine palm saplings.

The 6.39 News:
Sim achieves world record in whistling at work; fellow workers homicidal

Hopefully, it's not Prufrock. Though I wouldn't be surprised if on his first day as shift manager (actually more than ten years in Sim time) he's already earned the incomprehension and antipathy of his colleagues.

As if reading my mind, Prufrock leaves a note in my message box to express his enthusiasm for the alternative film showing at the University. He claims that it is better than any Hollywood production. His horizon has been particularly broadened by a movie about people's nostrils. At least he's no longer complaining about his egg salad getting spoiled on the long commute hours to and from work.

The 6:44 News:
Three kinds of cheeses can speak rudimentary French; accents "atrocious"

I'm getting hungry about all these recent reports on food. Talk about cheeses reminds me of the gorgonzola in the fridge. If ignored for another two weeks, fellow leftovers may pick up its atrocious accent themselves. Plus, Prufrock keeps piping up that I absolutely have to try the caviar pasta at Chez Fancy, the chicest bistro in town.

Faced with dwindling funds, I buy extra maple saplings for the cemetery and the new house of worship nearby. To date, misplaced coffins amount to 3 and weddings to a festive 64.

Hospital workers are complaining about lack of sick patients in the wards and suggest lowering the budget for the health department. It is no doubt a ploy to create the perfect ambience for another strike. Their paltry reason: nurses are fighting over pillow-fluffing duties.

The 6:50 News
Wednesday at 3pm perfect time to scream say researchers

Ms. Diamond is violently shaking her pencil at me. The treasury of Pursky Muska is about to hit rock bottom. Her opinion is I should curtail spending in all departments. Her spies report on firemen boasting eight complete sets of custom made gold-plated doggy dining accessories, seven construction workers repaving a hole no bigger than a dime and local cops ordering organic rice flour from Kyoto for their donuts. My mouth salivates profusely in response. Those donuts sound gooooooood, overspending or not.

At any rate, lowering the budget will lead to another strike, strikes freeze public services which in turn make citizens very unhappy. After years of watching avid Italian strikers on the news, I should know. It's not Wednesday and it's way past 3pm. Screaming is detrimental at this hour. I relax, listen to Morissette's "Fake Plastic Trees" and return to planting palm saplings on the coast.

The 7:03 News:
100 years of newspapers boiled, but no nutritive content found

That's it. I'm broke. Supper looks like it will be on time tonight. On the other hand, my trees are growing well. Though I think they die slowly after reaching some peak period of growth. Perhaps it's the smog. Like a lot of things in life, this isn't mentioned in the manuals. To make things worse, the citizens in the new eastern area are demanding a local school.

At the bottom of the electronic message pad, I find Prufrock's report on the success of Farmer's Market. He claims to spend his Saturdays there, tipping street musicians and getting fresh eggs from Mrs. Kundy. Perhaps we have more in common than expected: I think of my Saturday mornings in the town market, buying double-yolked eggs from a man with yellow teeth and dirty hands. Prufrock adds, as afterthought, that in his opinion, Mrs. Kundy owns only two dresses.

The 7:15 News:
Husband locked out all night rewrites Moby Dick; "Prefers a happy ending"

Still here. My fingers are on the Ctrl, Shift, Alt and x keys. Which only means one thing: Someone's about to start cheating! As a mayor, I believe profoundly in the adage, "Weakness pays". No doubt, balancing the budget and earning a decent revenue is one of the primary goals in SimCity. In fact, mayoral instructor, Rand Huck maintains: "Don't have a heart: Raise taxes."

However, being the wife of a taxpayer for the greater part of the day, I just can't make myself do it. I have railed too long and hard against Roman thievery in the form of taxes -- amounting to 60% of an honest freelancer's earnings -- and I'll be darned if I turn into a fork-tongued politician myself!

So there. I'm typing "weaknesspays" as fast as I can, again and again. Is there something subliminal about Maxis cheat phrases? My fingers always feel debilitated afterwards. Still, things end happily.

Wait. The citizens are fuming for a new clinic in the southern area. Just a few minutes more while I find space....

The 7:26 News:
Scientists spot very end of infinity; "looks like umbrella"

There! I've demolished a Cape Cod house to make way for the new clinic. Mr. Sparks returns on screen to warn me that some old wind power plants need changing. Just another minute while I locate them and purchase new ones.... I do hate putting aside for tomorrow unfinished business I can do today .

My stomach growls. On another computer terminal, my husband click-click-clicks with the mouse. He appears calm and content while playing Patrician III; no sign of gastric juice unrest. Maybe just a few minutes more while I plant some saplings -- the sidewalks around the newly risen skyscrapers look too bare. After all, who doesn't like walking under the umbrella shade of oak trees on a sunny day?
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