Another fine weekend went by just a few days ago.

Friday's RuneQuest Game

While most of the Dad Fultz Gang went off to see Eraser on Friday night, I was at a RuneQuest game.

The Marriage Situation

The initial scenario involved a local 16 year old girl being bothered by a blacksmith working for the occupying Lunar forces. Her fisherman father wanted us heroic river voices to sort this out. After interviewing everyone, we found out that she had flirted with the much older blacksmith (32 years) after being dumped by her regular boyfriend. When the boyfriend was made jealous by this, she dumped the blacksmith. By this time the blacksmith had fallen in love with her and claimed that she had offered marriage. While she doesn't legally have the right to offer marriage, a quick marriage to her boyfriend would solve it all, right? Nope, the boyfriend likes her but doesn't want to marry her just yet. The next best thing seems to be a term marriage to the blacksmith, which exists in our Celticish culture but not in the river folk culture, though we can claim the girl is a really really distant relative. I'm not exactly sure why a term marriage is the best thing, but then my character got kicked out of the discussions for making tactless remarks.

Action at the Military Docks

Last time we were in the mosquito infested island port of Corflu in the muddy river delta, we had been intrigued by a heavily guarded dock (dogs, night patrol) where the Lunars had been stockpiling bales of blankets. Today, we had seen their slaves loading the bales onto a foreign looking boat. A bit of reconnoitring action tonight would relieve the frustration of the day's problems and satisfy our curiousity.

Our loyal newtlings had shown up earlier and got the job of searching the mud by touch in the moonless night, while the rest of us took turns staking out the ship from small boats. While the above water team tried to look over the edge of the boat (and listened to the officers speaking an unknown language), the underwater newtlings actually found a bale that had been dropped during loading. A bit of rope and some hauling from the temple barge, just upriver at the public docks, netted us a bundle.

A bundle full of weapons: over a dozen swords, several spear points and a lot of metal arrowheads. Some of them had Lunar military markings too. It looks like we found a secret arms shipment, probably going to a foreign country, maybe Esrolia, where there's a civil war between a handful of tribes right now. If the other tribes found out that Lunars were involved, the Lunar backed tribe would get jumped on by the others. If only we could understand the officers, then we could identify their tribe and stop the Lunar expansion (we're here because the Lunars had expanded over our home land).

Anyway, we returned a few of the weapons to the mud and scattered about some shredded blankets to make it look like the bale had broken up and scattered the contents into the mud. Nice soft mud, that only river folk would be able to search efficiently, river folk that the Lunars can't use because that would reveal their secret. Yup, we've got ourselves a cache of arms free of charge. Stuff that could be used by other river folk to fight the Lunars. Well, if those wimpy wet types actually bothered getting out of the water to fight.

The end of a nice little adventure, you think? Not so quickly, please. What would happen if that boat broke loose from its moorings tomorrow night and disappeared into the river delta? We'd have to silence the few people on board guarding it (wine and magic could work) and hope that the slaves onboard didn't make a fuss and that the guards on the dock don't notice it leaving. The mooring ropes look pretty ratty anyways, so if one got chewed through by a pet rodent, and the tide was flowing out, the other one would naturally snap. Right? A broken wine jug on the dock would give a plausable story of inattentive seamen to the Lunar investigators. They may think it is a theft but they couldn't be sure. Then the ship could sink out in the delta (probably because some Newtling was drilling holes in the bottom and using a water elemental to pump water in) after drifting a fair way (pushed away from sand bars by another helpful water elemental).

This is such a good idea that we just have to do it! The slaves could escape safely (we really don't like the idea of slavery) but would quickly get lost in the meandering waterways so they couldn't show the Lunars where the boat sank. The locals would get a supply of much needed wood from the recycled ship. The Esrolian Lunar sympathizers would lose their ship and investment (they probably didn't get the arms for free from the Lunars). The Lunars would get a tarnished reputation for not coming through with the arms because the sinking occured in supposedly Lunar occupied territory. Unfortunately we wouldn't be able to tell anyone about it. And if we do get caught, it could be quite a gruesome death. Worse than the punishment, say, for example, killing tax collectors.

Saturday's Events

I got up too early on Saturday, after Friday night's late night game. So, I got a lot more done than I thought I would.

Random250 Amiga Library Programming

Saturday got started with a good solid dose of programming. I'm working on an implementation of the R250 algorithm for random number generation. It's very fast and very random. This time I'm writing it in assembler as an Amiga shared library, for practice when I need shared libraries to implement run-time loadable class-like things in the virtual file system. Besides the loading and unloading, and tracking users (so it don't unload unless all users have closed the library), there's the extra complication of multiple programs asking simultaneously for random numbers. Looks like a job for a semaphore! Anyway, I find it lots of fun.

Amazing Keyboard Repairs

It was fun programming until the L key broke on the keyboard while typing "Initiaize" yet again. Yup, it seems to have lasted about 9 years before wearing out. I had a shot at fixing it. First, it was easy to take apart (no screws, just some tabs holding the plastic keyboard case together). The keys were individual switches (by Cherry) mounted on a big circuit board, with nice big solder spots (no surface mount stuff). I tried out my new vacuum desoldering tool ($5 metal tube with a tip and a spring loaded plunger that snaps out to make a vacuum and suck in the liquid solder under the tip). Amazing! It cleaned off the solder on the switch pin in one slurp, leaving the pin free of the circuit board. This was too easy. I swapped the "L" with the ")" key on the numeric keypad. Along the way I took apart the L's old switch, and fixed it (just some dirt in the contact). So, my Amiga's keyboard is fully working again.

Il Mostro - The Monster - An Italian Film

On Saturday night I went to the Bytowne theater to see Il Mostro, an Italian comedy with English subtitles. It starts out with the police investigating a serial murderer: a normal person who occasionally assaults women and chops them up. The chief really wants this guy. Our hero, Loris, is an almost ordinary guy (petty thief, odd job worker, con artist) who is first seen moving manequins around for a garden equipment display at a party. His supervisor spots a nymphomaniac and tells Loris that she's over there, don't turn around, that is that one who has sex with anyone, don't acknowledge her presence or she'll do it to you, and so on. Loris is interested while feigning disinterest. While his supervisor leaves, the nymphomaniac is picked up by a couple of guys and a different woman sits in the same chair. Loris makes suggestive winks and nods. She gets up and goes to a secluded spot. Loris follows and gets too intimate. She screams and runs away, Loris apologizes and goes back to work. This time he has to fetch a manequin and chain saw from the truck in the garage. As he gets the chainsaw out, he turns and sees the same woman nearby trying to get into her car. He tries apologizing some more, and accidentally starts the chainsaw...

Other not-what-it-seems scenes involve a woman picking up her dropped shopping bag while someone else flicks a cigarette butt into Loris's pants by accident. Much clutching and a bottle of water ensue. The police, who are watching him after the first woman reported him (something about being attacked by an octopus), didn't catch the cigarette butt on their video tape. This guy is just really good at physical comedy. Buster Keaton good.

Another one is when the kids in the neighbouring appartment toss a dead cat into his appartment and slam their door, so he can't give it back. He takes the dead cat outside in a bag and throws it out. The police see a live cat that just happens to be following him around a corner and then pick him up on the video tape on the other side tossing a dead cat into a garbage can. What a demented character he must be!

The police detail a female officer to catch him red handed. The rest of the story involves her subletting a room in his appartment and then trying to provoke him (like crawling over him to set the clock on the wall above). No actual sex or naked body parts (rated AA), everything is implied (you see his reaction, not his viewpoint). His supervisor tells him to think of money, the economy and other things to keep his cool. So, while she is talking about (and demonstrating) how her slinky dress can fall off just too easily, he's talking about the dollar, lira and Swiss banks.

Meanwhile, the police psychiatrist is going nuts over this case. He keeps on egging on the policewoman, and thinks Loris is going to explode soon. He even pretends to be a tailor to get medical measurements of Loris (pricking with pins for blood, electrodes for measuring for a hat, the policewoman rescues him from a body cavity search for a scarf). Meanwhile the doctor's wife is also at the dinner thinks that Loris is after her with a butcher's knife. He is, but it is really an accident. After a few more incidents like that (a flashlight down his pants, blinds dropping on her head when she leans out a window), she runs screaming from the place.

The doctor finally gets the police woman to dress up in a special way after finding out that Loris has a garden gnome in his closet (a Bashful Dwarf in his closet - think what that means!).

There's also the running gag of the appartment manager trying to get rid of Loris and showing people around. The funny walk to get past under the window of the building's guard janitor, and convincing other people that he normally walks like that. And a lot of others, including a neat but impractical trick for doing shoplifting.

There's also the murder mystery plot, and another murder which leads to a huge crowd chasing Loris, before he finds the real murderer.

So, if you want to spend two hours laughing your head off, this is one way of doing it.


I spent a couple of hours on Sunday morning piling stones up to make stairs from the back yard up to the top of the future patio. Three steps so far. I also played in the mud, trying to figure out how to get rain water over the rocks and earth without erosion problems. A flat rock channel with rock banks seems to work.

Then I spent way too much time writing this message.

- Alex

Copyright © 1996 by Alexander G. M. Smith.