Friday, November 30, 2007

Captain Hero #100

One hundred posts! Sort of makes me all goose-bumpy all over (which is far better than being just plain bumpy all over). As I sit back and think of all the time spent playing the sims when I was supposed to be doing something else, or spent posting sims blogs when I was supposed to be doing something else (like right now for example) it awes and inspires me. I am my own hero. I'm no Captain Hero, though…we can't all be that cool.

Before we start, it's time for a little history lesson regarding the new neighborhood. All good books or movies or TV shows I've ever experienced have a couple of things in common. Memorable characters for starters, and if you can remember the sims in this blog from one post to the next, that's good enough for me. A memorable story is always important too, and while it would be nice if every post here had that, it's not really always a storytelling blog, so that's not always promised. The best kinds of stories are the ones that have some sort of conflict, though, and you can't have conflict without one key element…bad guys!

The original Monkeesim neighborhood had some irritating characters to be sure, but nobody designed to be just plain rotten to the core. When I very first designed the new neighborhood, I realized this oversight, and the third family I made (myself first, then the Fultz Family was second) was the Daniels family, featuring the dread pirate, Jack Daniels, and Clarence Andrews. They were created to be as unfriendly as possible, and Clarence even contracted lycanthropy to make him meaner. They were the first members of what I like to call the "Criminal Underground Secret Service", or "CUSS" for short.

The first of the mean CUSSes...

The first time the CUSS agents got any real use was when my sim, Matthew Martin, was robbed and lost four expensive household items. He got out of bed, and saw the burglar, Jenna Boyle, but was unable to apprehend her. Matthew found this quite irritating, and invited Jack Daniels to his house to discuss the matter. Two days later, Jenna was nothing more than the first tombstone in the backyard of the Daniels house. There were some other less intentional deaths at the Daniels house, one of which happened as a direct result of Clarence savaging a houseguest as a werewolf, but generally, Jack and Clarence just stirred up trouble on a smaller scale around town to keep things interesting.

Well, eventually Regina Boyle came along and domesticated Jack Daniels, and he gave up his life of evil (though he's still something of a jerkwad). Clarence later fell in love with his maid, Amy, and quit his criminal career as well. The house got a facelift, children came along, Clarence was cured of lycanthropy, and the CUSS was basically dissolved. Well, the powers that be wouldn't have that, and you can't have good without evil to balance it out, and so, as of late, two new CUSS agents have begun to pop up around town…

Presenting Lawrence and Reeve Madrox...

Lawrence and Reeve have done a fine job of making life miserable for sims around town, and are the suspected accomplices in the "flaming toilet" incident on Leon Jackson's boat. Yes, evil is back, and thus far, no womanly charms have had any affect on the dastardly duo. Scary, eh? Well, have no fear…there are ways to fight criminals besides being charming, and the Monkeesim neighborhood has an individual dedicated to that very ideal…Captain Hero! Now, I can't tell you who Captain Hero really is for privacy reasons (and in case CUSS is reading this blog). You can see her below, though, on a peaceful day at her everyday suburban house, checking the mail, while Shaggy and Scooby Rogers stroll down the block.

Captain Hero: "I hope Scooby doesn't 'doo' his business on my lawn…"

Now, for some sims, becoming a hero just means flying off to work every couple of days and coming home a few hours later with a paycheck. Not our Captain Hero, though. Fighting crime in the Monkeesim neighborhood is more than just a 10 to 4 job, it's a way of life. Sure, she spends a few hours during the day recovering from the battle against evil and doing normal stuff, but even at home, she doesn't rest. Here, we see Captain Hero using her "Hero-Scope" to search out evil. And she's spotted it, in the form of Justin the Jerk…

Captain Hero: "I only wish he hadn't been on the toilet when I spotted him..."

As a superhero, flying is one way to get around, but it tends to draw a lot of attention (as if the costume alone doesn't), and those costly fuels designed to power the suit should really be reserved for the regular work day. Thus, by night, other less conspicuous means of transportation are desirable. Less conspicuous means like Am…er…Captain Hero's ridiculously expensive jet powered sports car. If you're going to cruise the filthy, corrupted streets of Sim City, you might as well do it in style. And so, if was off in the "Hero-Mobile" in search of Justin the Jerk…uh…

Justin: "She'll never think to look for me here!"

One of the toughest things about being a hero is never knowing where evil is going to strike. One could sit around and wait for someone to call them, like that lazy bum Batman with his obnoxious bat-signal, but by then, the damage is usually done. A true hero has great instincts for finding trouble before it starts and cutting the trouble makers off at the pass. Captain Hero's unerring instincts told her the first place she should check around was "Da Tiki Hut", a popular coffee bar in town.

Captain Hero: "My instincts tell me I'll find a double espresso here too..."

Everything was quiet upon Captain Hero's initial arrival. Well, that is everything besides the ear splitting music blaring from the juke box and the roaring din of the chattering patrons. There was no crime to speak of (there was double espresso), but the visit was not a total loss. Captain Hero decided to make use of her inside contacts, and talk to some of the locals who had a good ear for what was going on around town. One such local, Jean Trevolto, chattered on for quite a bit giving the latest dope on local criminal activity. He also tried to slow dance with Captain Hero, but she didn't have time for that.

Captain Hero: "Who are you calling 'Sweet Cheeks', Fat Cheeks?"

Among the other endless babble she'd been exposed to, Captain Hero managed to get a hot tip that some unsavory types had been spotted at the local "Freetime Lounge". Well, that should have been a no-brainer, since half the sims in the Monkeesim neighborhood hang out there, but I'm sure Captain Hero just really wanted that espresso on her first stop. And so, she departed "Da Tiki Hut", disabled her state of the art car alarm, and moved on to her next stop.

Iris: "Who was that masked woman?"

It wasn't long before Am…dang it…Captain Hero arrived at the "Freetime Lounge", and trouble had indeed found its way there already, in the form of Spruce Hartman. The past few posts featuring Spruce have witnessed his decay from ordinary plant sim to trash can vandal to aggressive sim abuser. It now appears he's fully embraced the dark side, having traded his green sweats for black clothes and "bitchin" shades. Spruce was just beginning to case the joint, looking for poor saps (haha) to pick on when Captain Hero walked in.

Behold the evil "Plant Man"...

It seemed inevitable that Spruce wasn't going to give up his turf without a fight. Luckily, one thing that Captain Hero possesses is maxed out body skills, and she's more than up for a fist fight if the need should arise. She confronted Spruce, and gave him a good poking, to which he poked her right back. This continued for a couple of rounds until Spruce apparently conceded the poking match, rubbed his chest, and started sobbing. Man, the tough ones all talk a good show, but stand up to their nonsense, and they're crying like a girl sitting in the dark listening to Lionel Ritchie sing "Endless Love" (no offense to any women who read this who do that).

Captain Hero: "Next time, I won't just poke you, I'll slap you around a bit first!"

Wow. He seemed a lot tougher than that when he beat up Kitty Wilson and Tommy Wolf. Must have been the costume that did him in. At any rate, he went slinking away and didn't cause any trouble, so Captain Hero's work with him was done. See how that whole "cutting trouble off at the pass" thing works? Eat your heart out, Batman. Captain Hero didn't have any other leads at the moment, but she'd heard of a recent altercation at the local bowling alley between local Katrina Wilson and the villainous Justin the Jerk. She decided it couldn't hurt to pay a visit and see what developed.

Captain Hero: "Now I just need a sidekick and gadget making butler…wait, I bit my butler..."

Despite the double smack down that had taken place mere posts ago, there was nothing going on at the bowling alley when Captain Hero arrived. And by nothing, I mean really nothing - nobody was bowling or anything, there were a couple of sims having lunch but overall, it was an incredibly boring scene. Boring means safe, though, and that's what Captain Hero is all about. On the up side, not having to kick any butt or poke anyone meant she had time to bowl a couple of frames herself.

Captain Hero: "Captain Hero 'strikes' again! Woo hoo!"

As fun as a break from getting into it with bad guys may be, when you're a hero, there's no such thing as too much of a break. After proving her skillz at the bowling alley, Captain Hero decided to head out. Part of being a hero that people are happy to see out and about protecting them is being nice and friendly to everyone, otherwise, you're just some loner freak in a costume. Captain Hero had the social part down, always taking time to point at and utter a greeting to every person she came in contact with. Time consuming, I know, but if you're a hero nobody likes, like I said, just a weirdo in tights.

Captain Hero: "No need to jump up or anything…I'll show myself out!"

Our hero decided to head on down to "Marty's" next. Partly because there's always trouble at "Marty's" sooner or later, and partly because nobody makes a better lobster thermador or strawberry margarita (sounds pretty good right now actually, and it's not even 8am here yet…lol). Whatever the initial reasons for going there, Captain Hero's instincts served her well. Justin had apparently decided he couldn't hide in her garage forever, and had decided to come stir up trouble on the town, and guess where he headed first…

Captain Hero: "Hey, hold it right there, you jerk! No, not you, sweater guy..."

Captain Hero confronted Justin the Jerk over in front of the bathrooms, in a location remarkably similar to where Kitty tried to take down Spruce not too long ago. Well, first harsh words were exchanged, then the poking began, and Justin wasn't backing down. Strangely, Captain Hero's "interactions" kept getting overridden by Justin's, and after a few minutes, he'd nearly poked her into oblivion without her getting in a decent retort. The worst of it was that he got the final poke in, then decided he'd won and that it was time to leave of his own accord. It appeared Justin the Jerk had won this round…

Justin: "You better return that suit…Halloween was over months ago!"

While it wasn't her fault that Justin had gotten away more or less unscathed, it didn't do very much for Captain Hero's "street cred" to be publicly defeated in such a way. In fact, there were some other unsavory characters lurking in Marty's at the time who saw this as a sign of weakness, and decided to exploit it. Remember the CUSS agents I mentioned earlier? Well, Lawrence Madrox decided it was time to put Captain Hero in her place, and took a break from skulking in the shadows to do a little poking of his own…

Lawrence: "Captain Hero, I'm gonna' CUSS you out..!"

Every hero has a bad day now and then, and Lawrence made a big mistake interpreting Justin's victory as anything more than a fluke. If he'd done his homework, he'd have realized that in order to even achieve the rank of Captain Hero on the law enforcement track, one has to have massive body skills (and yes, the costume was earned, not rented from a costume shop). No sooner had Lawrence's abuse begun than our hero realized the threat he posed, and leapt into action to give him the butt kicking that he deserved.

DJ: "Wait! Wait! Let me queue the fight music first!"

The CUSS agents are good at being nasty to other sims, and sitting at the computers in their secret headquarters planning evil deeds (and filling requests on the "evil deed hotline"), but they generally haven't dedicated a lot of time to body building, so the fight was no contest. As is the case after many such brawls, Lawrence told Captain Hero she was clearly not to be trifled with, but don't you believe it - that's what villains always say. He'll be back somewhere somehow. Besides, it doesn't matter if he messes with Captain Hero directly…if he messes with ANY innocent sim, he's messing with Captain Hero…

Bartender: "Before you go limping away, sir, there's the small matter of your bar tab..."

The butt kicking Captain Hero dealt Lawrence put her back where she belonged in the public eye (forget that stupid Justin the Jerk). Most sims love Captain Hero, and most of them love a good fight…put the two together, and you've got a winning combination. I noticed the whole spectacle even drew my lazy, reclusive sim out of hiding. Meet Matthew Martin, my sim persona (with a slightly altered name for privacy purposes, of course).

Matt: "I'm not just the president of Monkeesims…I'm also a sim..!"

All in all, Captain Hero felt she'd had a pretty successful outing. Sure, there will always be trouble of some sort in a big city, but she'd more or less dealt with the best known trouble makers for the time being, and it was time to return home to catch some shut-eye before it got too late. Upon returning home, however, it appeared that all was not quite right. There was an essence of foreboding creepiness as Captain Hero entered the strangely quiet house. When she went into the back yard, strange lightning seemed to strike out of nowhere and set the weight bench ablaze.

Captain Hero: "Now, what are the odds of that happening?"

Being a hero isn't all about kicking butt, you know. It's also about helping folks in other ways, like giving them fish as presents to help improve their diet or shooing cats who are destroying their property, or dousing the odd blaze here and there. Thus, Captain Hero had her "Hero Extinguisher" on her, and responded instantly. Well, almost instantly. See, her secret identity nearly died in a kitchen fire not too long ago, so she freaked out for a little bit first, probably a little hesitant to risk getting too close to flames again. But duty called, and the fire was soon doused.

Captain Hero: "I don't know why I'm doing this…I can't earn any more body points anyway!"

Once the smoke cleared, Captain Hero had a chance to take a look around and ascertain just what exactly was going on. It was then that her keen powers of observation clued her in to the fact that there was an evil mad scientist in her backyard, making adjustments to a dastardly device. A device of the most evil kind…a machine to turn ordinary sims into evil garden gnomes! Inanimate gnomes, mind you, without the ability to speak or perform actions of any sort, but with the ability to THINK evil thoughts…tell me that isn't scary!

Mad Scientist: "Today, the back yard, tomorrow...the world! Mwahahah!!"

Obviously, there was a confrontation forthcoming. I mean, it's a given that good guys are supposed to fight the bad guys, but also, this is Captain Hero's back yard, and she would have defended it even as her secret identity…evil or no, you don't just set up your workshop in someone's yard (not without asking first). Well, Captain Hero was in for a shock, for when she confronted the evil genius, it turned out to be none other than her husband, Clarence…gone completely off the deep end! She attempted to approach him slowly and reasonably at first, but when he produced an ugly looking knife, it became clear there would be none of that...

Captain Hero: "Hey! Is that our good butcher knife?!"

Well, Clarence may be her husband, but he was performing villainous deeds, and had to be dealt with as a villain. It seems that the stupid looking light bulb hat had either malfunctioned or was just a piece of crap to begin with, and had gone from just making Clarence smarter to making him a genius and complete lunatic at the same time. With the possibility of more sims being turned into garden gnomes looming ominously, Captain Hero decided there was no time for diplomacy. Sure, her suit's not knife-proof, but she didn't take all those boring beat cop knife defense classes for nothing...

Captain Hero: "Listen, pal…why don't you just shove it?!"

Captain Hero took a chance, and gave Evil Clarence the old "heave-ho", right into his dastardly machine. Well, the machine hadn't been properly prepared for "gnomage", and the stupid looking light bulb hat interfered with the integrity of its inner workings. Instead of turning Clarence into a gnome, it just shocked the crap out of him and shorted out the bulb in the hat. After an impressive light show, Clarence was an evil genius no more. Instead, he was just a soggy average Joe in a dirty lab coat with a metal hand.

Captain Hero: "Ooh, wow…pretty!"

Of course, all good hero stories should end with the hero getting the girl (or in this case, the guy), and since Clarence and Captain Hero are married anyhow, the smooch was sort of a given. The threatening with the knife and shoving and harsh words were quickly forgotten…Captain Hero had saved the day once again. Yes, there was the lingering irritation of Justin the Jerk having gotten away, but that would be a matter to address another day. Or the next time Captain Hero goes in the garage…

Captain Hero: "I love you too…can we lose the evil gnomes?"

Well, all's well that ends well, and I'd say that's a pretty good place to end the Captain Hero saga for now. If I don't, chances are good that this post is going to start choking some of the computers out there with all of its pictures, and that's never my goal. I hate to ruin such a happy ending, but I'm sad to report that one of the better known sims from this blog passed on to the other side as of last night. It will be about 24 posts before we get to that point, so no need to worry about it too much yet. Coming up next - we've seen Leon Jackson a bit since he arrived in the new neighborhood, but what ever became of his old buddy, "Moon Dawg"? You'll know soon enough…possibly today if I feel that ambitious. See you then!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Leon Jackson Must Die!

Hello, everyone. Welcome to yet another day of excellence in simmery. It gives me the greatest of pleasure to be able to brighten your day today with the magic of the written word. Or some crap like that. Welcome just the same. You know, for the briefest moment today, I thought it was a little strange that I spend so much time blogging the sims, but can't be bothered to write anything personal in my own blogs, but until I can provide the level of weirdness and excitement found in my sims posts in my real blog, I'm just not all that interested. I can't…not without lying, anyway. Oh, well, tough luck there.

I don't remember if it was always this way in the earlier days of Monkeesims, but there seems to be some definite bad blood between some of the families in the new Monkeesim neighborhood. A lot of that heat is directed toward Leon Jackson, and I can't say he hasn't earned it. Trying to fulfill his demanding romance aspirations any way possible has caused him to "use" a lot of his fellow sims, and they generally don't take too kindly to that. Will he ever change? That depends on what you mean by "change". One fine evening, he was wandering outside the trailer of Marty and Kitty Wilson, when Marty came out of nowhere, chasing him in his Speedo.

Leon: "Uh…I was just looking for garden gnomes to steal..."

Well, initially, it looked like Marty was coming to cause trouble, but that wasn't actually the case. Moments later, he produced an attractive tiki bar (from his Speedo pocket, no doubt) and began serving drinks. Huh…well, that's different. Leon seemed a little uncertain about what was going on, so much so that he didn't partake of any beverages right away. I mean, it's not every day you're passing the trailer of someone whose wife you had a fling with and they come out and offer you a drink. Not that I have a lot of experience there or anything…

Gizmo: "Hey, dude…how about some tunes!"

The odd thing is that after Leon and Kitty's little tryst, Marty still has Leon listed as a friend in his relationship bar. I'm not sure there was ever an interaction between the two that would have changed that, it was just Kitty and Leon who slapped each other around after it was over. Marty apparently wanted no part of it since he and Kitty had already reconciled - why spread the hate? Kitty paid no attention to Leon's presence…she was hanging out in the flowery hot tub with her daughter, Katrina. They were too busy splashing water at each other to notice anything else.

Kitty: "Ech…okay, these hot tubs need some new non-romantic interactions!"

Not to give anything away, but I seem to have a serious problem with fire where sims are concerned. I'm not just talking the occasional blaze. I'm talking about how every time I play, no matter how careful I am, someone or something is set ablaze. I think it's payback for all those years I played the original Sim City games with disasters turned off (I wonder if I'd do the same if it was an option in the Sims 2). I spent a lot of time trying to isolate the issue, and while it doesn't say so anywhere in the "Seasons" manual, I think maybe sims catch fire if their little thermometer gets too hot. That would probably be useful info to put in writing somewhere if that's the case…at any rate, Kitty suddenly caught fire for no reason at all, and everybody spazzed out, as usual…everyone but Leon, who was strangely calm…

Marty: "Uh…Kitty…there's a huge tub of water, RIGHT THERE..."

I do often wonder why during these hot tub fire incidents, the sims don't just douse the flames in the tub, but maybe they know something I don't…or maybe it's just hard to think clearly when you're in a bikini and your butt is on fire. I just don't think sims in general have a lot of fire safety smarts to begin with. They run TO the fire whenever there is one, and you have to work like the dickens to get them to go elsewhere out of harm's way. I mean, what are they, moths? Katrina felt the need to get really close to Kitty before she did her panicking, and managed to catch the fire in the process. Great, so Kitty and Kat (hehe) are both on fire. Luckily, Marty finally pulled an extinguisher out of a hidden compartment in his Speedo, just in time to save the day (or night, rather - I didn't mean to confuse you).

Marty: "Careful…we don't want the car catching on fire!"

Well, by the following day, the incident was forgotten…or was it? What had Leon really been doing skulking outside the Wilson trailer? Everyone knew he and Kitty had a deep, abiding hatred for one another…could Leon have sabotaged the hot tub and been hanging around to watch his handiwork? It certainly seemed like a possibility (after all, you can only knock over someone's garbage can or steal their newspaper so many times before it starts to lose it's impact). That morning, Marty called Leon up to invite him over…that's one heck of a suspicious grin on Marty's face there as he makes the call…

Marty: "Come on over, dude…I made pancakes!"

Despite the odd reception earlier that evening, and the suspicious stares he got after the hot tub fire, Leon accepted the invite and dropped by. There were, in fact, pancakes, as Marty had described, and Leon ate them without incident (after first waiting for someone else to eat some so he could make sure they didn't keel over). Kitty must have stayed up all night from the looks of things, since she's still in her bathing suit (not surprising, since I've seen visiting sims spend all night and part of the following day in the hot tub long after I've forgotten about them). As usual, Leon did nothing to hide his dislike for her…

Leon: "That frickin', frackin'…grrrrrraarrr!!"

Him imagining Kitty on fire in his little thought bubble kind of looks suspicious, no? Marty was quick to step in and diffuse the situation before Kitty could deliver one of her famous butt kickings to Leon (he hasn't started a fight since he was left crushed and humiliated next to the garbage can that one time). He coerced Leon into the hot tub, then directed him back to the tiki bar to cool off with a few drinks. What's up with Marty trying to make Leon drink at the tiki bar? Well, if you'd quit asking, maybe you'd find out! Oh, wait…that was me. Sorry…

Marty: "Hmmm…looks like Kitty might have already had one too many..."

Well, when you open up a free tiki booze stand right out on the sidewalk, you attract all kinds of weird folk. That pleasant looking dude featured in the picture below is the Wilsons' almost-next-door neighbor, Ali Thunder. I hate Ali's hair worse than anything imaginable. I would never have made him…at least not with that hair. Ali is the creation of my younger brother, and he felt the need to pay a neighborly visit while walking his green cat, Shartfield. Oh, and to get some free booze and shamelessly ogle Kitty in her swimsuit.

Marty: "Geez, man, at least pretend to be looking at something else!"

Marty and Kitty and Leon stood around drinking seemingly forever, and Leon was eventually pretty well saturated - yet the Wilsons' bathroom door was locked, presumably because the toilet wasn't working. Leon had no choice but to mosey on back to his boat to use his own facilities. Now, all of this may seem to the untrained eye like harmless socializing, but there is actually a much greater scheme at work here - and it's called "payback". Take a gander at the picture below, and see if you can spot anything out of the ordinary. Don't worry if you can't, that was sort of the whole purpose behind the scheme…

Think "modern art museum"...

Yes, Leon was in a desperate rush to use the John, and definitely wasn't expecting anything out of the ordinary. Those ten or fifteen drinks he had probably dulled his observation skills a little bit as well. If you guessed there was something wrong with the toilet, well, good eye. If you guessed that there was an incendiary device rigged to the toilet bowl, well, you're a real pro! Leon didn't guess any of this, and didn't seem to find anything really strange about it when flames started bursting up at him out of the toilet. I never did say that Leon was the most observant sim around…

Leon: "Hmmm…why does it burn when I pee?"

At this point, Leon was probably pretty happy he didn't sit down to "go". It didn't matter though, because while the flame shooters don't always catch things on fire instantly, Leon hesitated just a moment too long, and he burst into flame. It must be those cheap synthetic fibers his suits are made of, or the excessive amounts of cologne he probably wears. Or maybe his breath reeked of booze vapors and it helped make things more flammable. Whatever factors were at work, Leon was doing the fire dance moments later, and Debbie, the only other person who lived on the boat, didn't seem to be anywhere around. Uh, oh.

Leon: "Aw, dang, man, I just bought this suit!"

The deck isn't that big, and luckily for Leon, it wasn't long before Debbie smelled smoke. It's also lucky that he never cooks because she never for a second thought it might be food burning in the kitchen. She ran inside the boat (I'm not sure why she was outside in her underwear to begin with) and began dousing the blaze in the bathroom. She managed to save Leon, but didn't manage to save the toilet, the mirror, the bathtub, or any part of the mystery device that caused the fire in the first place. Oh, well…you can't win them all. She's a maid, Jim, not a firefighter!

Now that's what I call a "hot tub"…heheh...

So much for sims "forgiving and forgetting", eh? Did Leon actually start the hot tub fire at the Wilsons home? Probably. Were Marty and Kitty responsible for the flaming device in Leon's toilet? Most likely, but how could they have planted such a device while they were busy pumping Leon full of food and drinks to make him use the bathroom? Would either of them even have known how to install such a device? Intriguing questions, and I promise you they shall be answered in time, but not today. It's time to take a breather while we prepare for a post of epic size, if not epic content. Tune in next time for our 100th entry! :-)

More Simpourri

I love sunflower seeds. They keep my mouth busy in an environment where constant talking is discouraged, they taste great, and they fool my stomach into thinking that I'm not really hungry for most of the day. This is a very good thing, because when you work a job where you sit, and you combat its boring nature by "boredom eating", that can be a very bad thing. However, the seeds aren't perfect either, because eat too many of them, as I do daily, and they completely numb your sense of taste for the day and sometimes even longer. I don't care - I've already tasted all the foods I've been eating lately at least once before, so it's not like I'm missing anything (except when my blood pressure was a lot lower prior to all the sunflower seed salt).

Now that you've been given a lesson on dietary pitfalls in the work place, lets move on to something a tad less boring. Heck, that could be just about anything. That's sort of the theme for the post today too…a little bit of everything. A few posts ago, Aiden and Vyn Andrews became the proud parents of twin baby girls Jaden and Kati. Time flies pretty quickly for sim parents, and while Jaden and Kati were teeny tiny babies last time, their birthday came about pretty quickly (well, sort of - it still seemed to take forever having to monitor two babies, even with two unemployed parents).

Vyn: "Look, Kati! Grandpa Jack is in his Speedo again!"

Well, the double birthday party was thrown, and it took two cakes to make both of the babies grow up properly. I always get a little freaked out when the transformation process from baby to kid or kid to adult takes place in TS2, because you really have no idea what you're going to get. I think the game tries to pick the worst features of the parents of a child (frowning mouth, heavy brow, etc) and make sure that those are the ones that are most prominent on the offspring…and you can't change it! Well, Kati didn't turn out bad at all…

Um…what's up with the little white tuxedo??

Yes, it's true - she's wearing a little white tux to go with that fetching bandana in her hair. Seriously, the little white tux shouldn't even be an option for baby girls, and I'm not convinced it works for boys either. As for the hair, well, Aiden and Vyn had really been hoping that at least one of the girls would grow up to be a blonde like their mother. Now THAT can be changed. One might question the decision to color a toddler's hair, but come on, we're talking about a sim toddler here. Besides getting blonde hair, Kati also got changed into her PJ's to hide the tux, but I forgot to take an "after" picture. Here's Jaden below.

The little toddler bandana is apparently very "in" this year...

Jaden's clothes actually weren't that bad, but it seemed odd to dress Kati in PJ's and Jaden in her regular clothes, because then they didn't really match. In the end, the babies wound up with matching PJ's and bowl cuts, which isn't the greatest look in the world, but it beats the ugly "upside down clown head" picture one of my Sims 1 babies got (please don't ask about that any further). We'll visit the babies again a bit down the road and see how they're doing. It's time to look in on a couple other new arrivals to the sim neighborhood, the Hartmans. No, not Leon and Rinoa, or even Iris and her clan. I'm talking about Elrond and Eowyn, son and daughter of Spruce Hartman. They were plant sims at one time, then they drank the plant sim cure and now they're elves instead.

No, it's not a hideous night club…it actually is a house...

Spruce has been exhibiting some odd behavior recently, including abusiveness toward others, poor fashion sense, and general surliness. It wasn't surprising when he decided he needed to produce plant baby clones of himself, given his giant ego. However, Elrond and Eowyn actually turned out to be pretty nice, normal sims. One might question their decorative tastes at first glance, but when you think about it, elves in the movies love the woods, and a massive wood and bamboo tiki shack has a very "woodland hut" feel to it. Elrond and Eowyn's aunts from the garden center seemed to like it pretty well.

Eowyn: "Why…I never thought about it before…how DID I get a navel?"

I'll admit that I've been curious about it before, and had some of the Hartman plant sims drink the plant sim cure potion to see how they looked as normal sims. Well, basically, they all look better green. I think when the game generates a plant sim, it takes the basic features of the parent, narrows them quite a bit, then turns them green. Rinoa's face is just okay to begin with, and when you start squishing it around, it makes for some funny looking offspring. For some odd reason, Elrond and Eowyn didn't look quite as bad when they made the transformation. Below, we see Elrond hanging out with his uncle Willow, while his old man, Spruce, hangs out at the bar in the background (I was looking for a way to incorporate "old man willow" into that sentence, but it didn't quite work out).

Willow: "You really don't prefer the cool green sweats?"

One good thing about having a cool tiki dance shack for your home is that you can DJ all you want and as badly as you want, and nobody can complain about it (well, besides your roommate, assuming you listen to them). Elrond has a great love for working the DJ booth, but he lacks the great talent needed to make it not sound like crap. I guess when you play music loud enough, it compensates for that a little bit, not it's still painful when it switches over to big band music in the middle of a half decent mix. Another cool thing about the tiki dance shack is the flame shooting devices in the floor, which only occasionally catch anyone on fire…

Elrond: "If you can't take the heat, get out of the hut, baby!"

One other great feature of the Hartman tiki house is the hot tubs right out on the front lawn, so close to the sidewalk that you could actually reach out and touch it from inside the tub. Some of the disadvantages to having hot tubs next to the sidewalk are people kicking crap in them when they walk by, zero privacy, easy access for dogs and other passing creatures to pee in or drink from them, and so forth. I can't actually think of any advantages to such a location…maybe there are none.

Elrond: "Just a little closer to the street, and we'd have to duck when cars drove by!"

Well, after seeing the wicked awesome potential of the Hartman tiki house, some of the garden center Hartmans (who live right next door incidentally) found themselves feeling strangely empty. In case I didn't mention this before, the doors to the garden center are locked almost 100 percent of the time to keep the plant sims from wandering too far from the sun lamps when night comes along. This means that they have only each other for company, which isn't a problem really in itself. I guess if you start factoring romance into the equation, then it's kind of a problem, but I'm still not sure to this point if that’s something plant sims actually care about or not. Usually they just stand around looking a little green…

Willow: "Ya' know, this place feels a little more like prison every day!"

I always assumed the satisfaction of growing the most mouthwatering vegetables in the neighborhood in huge quantities would be enough to keep the plant folk happy, but there's always got to be a whiner in every bunch. This time, the whiner was Willow Hartman, the other male plant sim (as opposed to Spruce, who's strangely absent from these garden center pictures). Well, there are many ways to meet new people in the sim world, most of them involve a little effort, but effort be darned. See, the Hartmans have not one but two wishing wells given to them by the Garden Club, and to this point, nobody had dared to use them. Well, extreme boredom makes you do daring things…

Willow: "I wish I had some friends...who cared about something besides eggplants!"

I'm assuming the well works something like that dang genie lamp from TS1, and I'm assuming there is a possible negative outcome to any wishes made. I haven't read up on the wishing well, and I hadn't used it before, so I honestly have no idea. All I know is that Willow wished for friends, and moments later, a bunch of dudes showed up. Well, I guess that's sort of a fulfillment of a wish. I looked at the relationship panel, and there was no relationship to speak of between Willow and the dudes who magically appeared. What?? He has to make them into friends on his own? What a rip!

Willow: "How can you say this place sucks? You haven't even been inside yet!"

I found myself missing the days when Leon Jackson got a train set or cursed the house with roaches or made his buddy Steve's wife Doris fall in love with him, all through the use of the genie lamp. Having to do the actual work to make friends with people magically transported to your home is kind of lame, and Willow decided that if he had to go to all that trouble, he might as well get to pick the people he befriended. Those dudes look like they're dressed to go hit a nightclub somewhere, not hang out in a big greenhouse with nothing to do. Luckily, Willow spotted his niece, Eowyn Hartman, and struck up a nice conversation with her.

Willow gives Eowyn the gift that keeps on giving…a mouthwatering eggplant...

I wish those plant sims would quit worrying about friendship and stuff and just stick to their vegetables. I guess they need to be friends with some people though because the only way I can make them distribute produce is if they know someone well enough to call them up and give it as a gift. What an inefficient system. On the topic of efficiency, let us mosey on over to the Andrews home, where we find Clarence hard at work trying to maximize his charismatic abilities. In case you forgot, he quit his job as a scientist after he reached the top so he could fulfill his dream of being a Hall of Famer. Well, he was only one promotion away from living that dream, and it was taking forever to get the needed charisma points. Luckily, there was a "special" reward hat designed to expedite the process…

Clarence: "I feel twice as smart…but look three times as stupid!"

Geez, get with it, buddy…Amy had long ago fulfilled her lifelong aspiration to become…er…reach the top of the law enforcement track (almost gave away too much there!). She wasn't interested in changing careers like Clarence was (he's already been a criminal, a scientist, and an athlete, and that's not the end of it). It was becoming increasingly difficult to find ways to kill time around the house. Amy still had a couple of skill points she could max out, but they were for skills not used around the house, and she didn't need them for her job. She decided to remedy her boredom by wandering around the house scanning things with her little crime scanner gun. Like THAT's going to do a lot to liven things up…

Amy: "Aha! Clarence HAS been licking the dishes clean again!"

Well, Clarence eventually got tired of looking like an idiot with the light bulb hat, and was growing weary of Amy pointing out everything he'd left his "dirty fingerprints" on, and decided it was high time the couple got out of the house for a bit…anything to break the monotony. Considering how much the Andrews family loves to socialize, I think they're probably the sims who actually leave the house the least, which is kind of odd (I guess when your friends come to you, there's little need to head out looking for them). They decided to check out a nearby park resort that had been recently constructed. It started raining as soon as they got there, and of course most of the attractions were outside. Luckily, there was a bar - the staple of any good community lot.

Bartender: "I'd love to make some drinks for you folks, but I seem to have lost my pitcher!"

Well, he did eventually find the pitcher, and I left the couple to their own devices for a bit. Of course, the end result was them standing around drinking forever and talking to each other, because nobody else seemed to be coming by (it's possible they were in the upper levels of the establishment, but the lure of the bar was such that Amy and Clarence never actually explored that far). Whenever a bar is present, be it at home or away, my sims will head for it first, and stand there drinking till they pee themselves…I kid you not. I had higher hopes for Clarence and Amy, though, and eventually cut them off. Well, it was still raining outside, and I wasn't about to let them go out and get sick, so…

Everyone loves a good indecent PDA...

Hey, man, watch those hands…if this were Sims 1, grabbing someone's butt would result in a little puff of flowers and a cradle in the corner. Man, we've come a long way. After what seemed an eternity, the rain finally subsided, about the time Clarence and Amy were getting tired and ready to head home. I wasn't about to let the trip be totally wasted, so I sent them outside, which didn't have nearly as many attractions as I thought originally. There was always dancing to the juke box, which is such a huge change from dancing in front of the radio at home…or not.

Amy: "I'll have to ask them how they make this deck hover off the ground like that…"

Well, I think we've seen all this post has to offer. Our next installment of Monkeesims will take us to the Wilson trailer, where there will undeniably be some trouble brewing…but what kind of trouble? Well, that can only be answered by dropping in for the next post. After that, of course, will be the 100th post celebration that I keep talking about and it will probably be a big letdown after all the hype…lol Well, let's hope not. See you later!