Thrill Seeking Food

How does the food come up with these activities? It is absolutely baffling that the species manage to thrive when every waking moment is spent in trying to come up with new and exciting ideas on how to more effectively get themselves out of the gene pool.

Confused? So was I. Recently I have become the center of attention of what the food call a “gambling rig.” They even have specific names for this, the people running them are “bookies” (how that relates to “books” is anyone’s guess, mine is that somehow these used to write about their exploits – keeping a “log,” which can later be burned to keep oneself warm). The people who visit them are “gamblers.” And I am the bet.

Yes, they are betting on me. How? Several things. The kind of food I will manage to snatch next. The kind of food I will go for when offered several to choose from. The length of time it will take me to capture something or other.

And so, for the last few weeks my home has been surrounded by food, excitable, irrational food. They cheer when I choose what they wanted, and despair when I don’t.

It’s all very interesting, I have to admit, and quite insightful too. I have concluded that becoming a bookie is the sign of a food that can connect cause and effect. They calibrate the odds to my reactions with surprising accuracy, and inversely I can calibrate my responses to their odds and see how they adjust when I am not within their predictions.

Usually they start with “hm, that’s odd,” which explains the term; very strange language this.

I have also realized that I cannot overdo the unpredictability, or the foods lose interest. While I hesitate to use the word, one can almost describe that behaviour as “rational.” When they cannot predict the system, the bookies leave.

As a result of all this excitement, three things have happened:

  • I have been eating well for the last few weeks.
  • I have been having a grand time of it. My favourite is when I break the odds at the right time, and the food that placed the wrong bet jump into the pit in despair.
  • I so want to eat a bookie. Crafty, intelligent prey. There has to be a way to get at them, or so my pride tells.

Pride? Well, it must be a difficult thing for the food to comprehend, but it’s these little challenges that spice up life when one lives for several thousand years. Job satisfaction, if you will.

The real insight into the bookies’ intelligence came one day during a not very noteworthy bet. I was presented with three Twi’leks, one of my favourite foods. Three of them, not particularly different, properly restrained and within tentacle shot, a rational being would expect the chances to be fairly equal, and for what I gathered from the chatter outside, so it was. Some bet on the fatter one, others on the more healthy-looking one, and even on whichever was their “lucky number.”

Superstition: The cry of the almost rational mind which is within reach of truly understanding cause and effect, but hasn’t gotten there yet. So cute.

But the chances were not equal. While I was deciding which one to pick, a delicious smell reached my sensory tendrils. A familiar, oh so delicious one.

Jawa.

I couldn’t feel any Jawas nearby. No, surely they didn’t…

They did. They had basted one of the Twi’leks in Jawa gravy. I twitched slightly, that surely had to be delicious! But then I hesitated.

The game was not fair, but obviously the gamblers did not know that. Or so I thought. But for now I couldn’t see a way of taking advantage of that. So I did the predictable thing and ate the Jawa gravy basted Twi’lek first.

Side note: It was delicious.

But I paid attention to the reactions. The usual disappointments, cries of joy and… And a barely noticeable subset of food that didn’t feel particularly happy or surprised despite having won the bets.

So there it was.

Opportunity knocking. Of course, the best way to make use of it was the way of the Sarlacc: Patience.

I let the food build a comfortable prediction of my behaviour. I stuck to it religiously (which did not make the food suspicious, and I suspect the reason is they did not believe me intelligent… Hilarious, I know). From time to time, there was a rigged bet, and I bit like I was supposed to. Just waiting.

Until the right opportunity came.

The bet was a simple one that day. On the one hand, a juicy, plump, healthy Twi’lek. On the other hand, a scruffy looking human (I heard the term “nerf herder” for the first time that day). The bets were heavily on the Twi’lek side, except for a small subset of people who bet large sums on the nerf herder.

The nerf-herder was, again, Jawa-flavoured. The bookies knew where my preferences would go. The odds were only slightly favouring the Twi’lek as more likely, much more than what my usual behaviour would warrant, in a bid to steer foods with a modicrum of Sarlacc knowledge towards betting for it, and leave the bet for the secretly flavoured human to the food in cahoots with the bookies.

Perfect.

When all was said and done, the food was released. I waited for a bit, gave a bit of theatrical suspense by appearing indecisive.

And then I took the Twi’lek.

There were cries of joy, there were cries of outrage.

And there were cries of bookies who had to face payment of large sums to those who bet for it, and had to face the angry subset of food who thought the bet was a sure thing. There was anger, there was fighting.

And there were bookies being thrown down the Sarlacc pit by the universally angry mob.

Have I mentioned how sweet victory tastes? Odd, isn’t it.

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A Test for the Food

I believe I have commented before on the curious suicidal tendencies of the food. One that caught my eye (and would have, thus, rendered me blind were I to have eyes and interprete this strange food language in a literal way) was the explanation that it made them, somewhat, feel alive.

This is a strange paradox. While I can understand such an approach being a reasonable evolutionary outcome (the high rate of selection enforcing a much quicker increase of the species’ fitness), I simply couldn’t understand why any self-aware organism would volunteer itself to be removed from the gene pool in a bid to increase the fitness of the whole species. It was quite a paradox, one that had me doubting the food’s self-awareness in the first place.

It seemed just too altruistic to be true.

But I have had to come to terms with it, and I have termed it “coming of edibility.” Food that is ready to test how alive it is by facing me, is alive enough to be eaten and fail the test. The Sarlacc, thus, decides who lives and who dies as a snack.

Odds are good for the dying bit. Free tip if you are of the gambling type.

I have, however, through astute observation, improved and maximized my approach towards food acquisition based on this trait.

The Sarlacc is probably the most powerful optimization force in the Universe. Given enough incentive, in the form of food, I am sure I could create a perpetual motion engine.

Admit it, you had to think for a bit and wonder if I was being serious.

Of course I was.

Where was I? Right, optimization. See, I noticed that the food that rarely got away (rarely being the keyword) was not seen again in a long time. It did not seem like a big mystery, managing to get away from the Sarlacc is rare enough to instill a newfond love for being alive in even the most suicidal lemming, but thanks to a particularly obnoxious and boisterous food, which I made sure I’d remember in case we crossed paths again (an unlikely event, given the tiny lifespan of these talking sacks of meat), I understood an additional social undercurrent in the food’s hierarchy.

The one that got away (and I still cannot understand what is so special about that phrase) and I crossed paths again. Given how terribly nonexistant my movement path is, the only way this could happen was for the food to come near again. And come near it did.

What I observed was quite enlightening. The food had, apparently, gained some notoriety inside its tribe, and was lording its newfond status over the rest. He had decided to come and “show them all” where it had all happened.

I am not unacquainted with this particular behaviour, I am a sight to behold (hold on the be, whatever it may be). But when the younglings of the tribe started to emulate their senior, amidst cries of fear, terror, and elation (from themselves and from the rest of the tribe) I realized that was opportunity knocking.

I of course ate the food. Quite a few of them… Except one.

The one that got away.

The one I let get away with it. It got away with its pride. And what a ruckus that caused! Surely this would be of some advantage. And it was.

This is all primal food behaviour, I am sure I do not need to explain it to you, my dear reader. But to voice the bovious, there was a dispute in the food’s hierarchy.

There were loud cries of excitement, angry threats, taunts and bewilderment. There was only one option of course. The food will try again. The Sarlaccdome, two food enter, one food leaves!

Usually no food leaves, but I don’t think they wanted to contemplate that possibility.

So they came at it again. The tribe watched breathlessly, two of their best came to taunt the almighty Sarlacc…

And miraculously, both got away again.

They tried a third time, getting even closer this time, challenging me even more. And still came on top.

The tension was palpable, the challenging food obviously having a hard time of it, and the crowd getting tense and restless, crowding like a crowd would trying to get a better view.

The best way to get a better view?

Getting a bit closer.

That’s because, you see, confidence is contagious. So is enthusiasm.

And so is Death by Sarlacc™. I managed to restrain myself long enough, and most of the tribe managed to get a vantage point to watch the race of these two… From the inside of my stomach. I am sure they gave those two a hero’s welcome once I swallowed them too.

Getting away strategy #17: When a food “testing itself” gets away, let another food from the same tribe go. while it not always works, the net result is a positive food flow into my belly.

Hat tip with the tip of my hat to the Specimen’s tip, I should be more open minded about baiting food with other food. Sometimes it IS useful!

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The Flavours of the Old Republic

With news a bit slow, I decided it was time to start introducing new features. Today, I present my first analysis of the food that can be found near my home:

The Food Races.

Now, you can see what the Sarlacc thinks of your fleshy self.

Remember, though, food is food and the Sarlacc will eat it when given the chance! I just have learned to make do with less tasty fare if nothing else is available.

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The Way of the Sarlacc

It is clear that I have become more food-like than I could have ever expected. That, by the way, is a ways away from being a compliment, it’s more wayward than the way one should behave. Metaphorically speaking.

There has been nothing for me to report in the last few days – weeks is the correct term I believe, the obsession of the food for separating and differentiating such infinitesimal units of time is astonishing, though it probably correlates with their astonishingly short lifespan. The reason for my lack of news is the lack of excitement surrounding my interactions with, and capture of, food. I have been, instead, receiving regularly scheduled gifts from the food.

Nothing too extraordinary, you may think, other than perhaps the aforementioned regularity. Food sacrificing other foods is more often than not a means to an end, making the latter disappear to the benefit of the former for some usually incomprehensibly petty and pointless reason. But I did view it as my cosmic duty to perform my function as designed by the Universe, a “call to duty” as the food who wants other foods to get killed puts it.

Or at least I did.

Yes, past sense.

You see, the food came in perfectly regular intervals. Juicy, squirming, fresh food. A variety of flavours as well, some better than others, but there was the anticipation of waiting to see what the next morsel would be. I was – dare I say it – content. Food was always available. I relaxed. My efforts to capture food myself. A group of humans that passed nearby got away with barely a scare as I half-tentacledly tried to reach for them without much faith or conviction.

Xenobiologists were unsure as to whether the sarlacc was animal or plant.

I can now understand why the food made that observation. Well fed and contented, I reverted to an almost quiescent state.

The food that fed me only helped me reach that state.

“I never get tired of this!” It said, after feeding me a particularly tasty morsel one day.

One term I have heard once before is Nirvana. A particularly boring and hairless food mentioned it as I swallowed it whole, without the slightest struggle from its part. A happy state where one wants for nothing.

The food never mentioned what was on the other side of Nirvana. Boredom. Pure, complete boredom.

At least that’s why I tell myself to justify having blown up the flying food box of my benefactor with a well placed piece of explosive junk reduced it to smithereens. The food cried out only one word before its ultimate demise.

“Why?”

Because I was bored.

After that, I spent three days fasting, before capturing a, by any standards, difficult wandering food with acute senses and fast little legs. Never saw it coming.

It was delicious. It tasted like freedom.

Freedom is a lonely state, except for the brief moments shared with the talking food, but it’s incredibly tasty.

I love this life.

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New Evidence of the Food’s Pack Behaviour

It was after today’s incidents that I realized my interactions with the food have made me capable of predicting their behaviour with astonishing accuracy. I had not come to grips with the fact… Speaking of which, grip is such an interesting word, the food usually refers to my tentacles with it (something similar to “it’s got a grip on my leg!” right before I eat them), but they talk about having a grip on reality or a grip of the facts, which merely reflects how their primitive intellect is only capable of assessing that which they can touch and interact with. A mind for the abstract? I have yet to find a foodstuff with such a gift.

Where was I? Oh of course, behavioural prediction. The term I should use for this, I guess, is “gut feeling” (fittingly, as it is as satisfying as a good meal, and tends to precede one). I can trust my subconscious to process the available information and push me towards the more desirable outcome. I can just follow the thoughts after the fact.

It was not two days ago that a pack of talking food wandered close to my home. It is usually a good idea to deduce what kind of pack one is dealing with. The usual varieties are: The lost pack, not used to be out in the wild and likely not there by choice; the sacrificial pack, bringing a sacrifice for the Sarlacc to dispose of; the desert dwellers, used to the dangers of the environment and exercisers of cautious circumvention of the Sarlacc’s home.

They were of the latter variety.

Now, in these cases I can regularly nab one or two of the individuals before the pack retreats to safety, not much more. A smallish but decent meal, and for this not only surprise is important, but also careful consideration of the pack hierarchy and behaviour. Skip the young ones (smaller and harder to catch, and they are usually whisked away to safety double-quick), and choose one of the paired foods. They often walk in pairs, male and female, and it is best to grab the female: the male is almost sure to follow, whereas grabbing the male is not always a guarantee that the female will.

I carefully picked the victim, one of the females at the edge of the group. It walked next to its male mate and a youngling. I prepared, hid my tentacle under the sand, and waited.

Closer please. Cloooooser…

And then it hit me. There was something peculiar about this pair. Something that wasn’t quite right. I paid attention, put all my senses to it, processed the vibrations carefully and captured the smells. It was the smell, it wasn’t quite right.

I couldn’t figure out why, but they were getting closer and I had no more time to think about it.

That’s when the gut kicked in.

No, it wasn’t some gas, or a recent addition to my digestive tract.

But I have learned to trust those kicks. I abandoned the previous target, and quickly snatched another male walking nearby. As usual, there was panic, and a scramble as soon as my presence was noticed. However, that is to one’s advantage. Don’t snatch the prey away before the rest of the food has a chance to see what’s happening, dangle it in front of the pack for a second or two, and when that has sunk in, the mate will likely follow as one drags the food in.

I did that. The female of the original pair followed.

Then the male of the original pair did.

And finally, as a nice dessert bonus, so did the youngling. As soon as I had a taste of the young food, I knew what my subconscious had picked up. That wasn’t the spawn of the male in that original pair, but that of the male my subconscious had suggested I grab. Similar smell, same taste.

And so the female followed it to its doom. And the oblivious male did follow the female. And the Sarlacc tripled the size of the meal he’d have had, had he not noticed these little details.

Always be aware of the pack hierarchy. Yum.

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I + D: What the Food Can Learn from the Sarlacc

I have returned!

 Having acquired replacement parts for this communications device, I am now back to share my daily trials and tribulations with the food. I expect this… thing to go up in a puff of smoke again, but that is life. The Sarlacc has no time for creating these pointless devices, there is food to be eaten.

 This is very a propos (learned that particular phrase from a particular food I came across not two weeks ago, it smelled more delicious than it tasted though), because of the latest visitor that has come to my home.

 I am used to arousing the curiosity of the food. It is part of my being; it is what puts food in my maw. Well, that, and surprise; but curiosity is a powerful tool. But this particular curious piece of talking food had a special kind of curiosity: The kind of curiosity that comes with a reasonable dose of intelligence and caution. It was a researcher.

 I have mentioned before how not many things are known about myself, at least as far as the food’s knowledge is concerned. That is because these researchers are, ultimately, curious food, and curious food always finds its way into my stomach.

 This particular researching food was quite cautious indeed. It first tempted me with a variety of tasty morsels, a rather interesting experiment I was only too happy to help with, but what I didn’t see coming was the underlying plan the food had hatched. Each morsel was thrown at me at different distances, until the food correctly gauged the maximum distance my tentacles could reach.

 It then proceeded to put down some markers in the sand, drawing a perimeter around me, marking the very limits of my reach.

 Incredible.

 You may think I was somewhat hurt in my pride, or enraged that I had been outsmarted by the food. Far from it, I found the surprise absolutely delightful. How creative! I let it study me for several days, it would bribe me with some treat, and then maybe touch my tentacle or give it a little prick, something rather minor and not very inconvenient. I gave ample evidence for my liking or disliking of the food it offered (none of which, by the way, were talking foods; slightly disappointing, that), and to my satisfaction it learned and soon was feeding me only the choicest of menus.

 Essentially, the food was bribing me to be able to look at me. What an interesting concept.

 One day, the food showed up with some complicated piece of machinery I had never felt before. The vibrations made it feel like it was a rather big one, though. It was positioned some distance away and, without any warning, suddenly a tremendously loud explosion came though the sand.

 SONOFAB…

 Yes, it hurt like crazy. I am capable of sensing the most minute vibrations happening in the vicinity. An extremely loud explosion directed at the sand feels quite intense for me, sensory overload if you will.

 I roared loudly, trashing with my tentacles. The Sarlacc was not pleased. And you know what the food, the dim-witted bottom of the evolutionary ladder said in response to my expression of displeasure?

 “Interesting.”

 I have heard the food use an interesting expression, “draw the line.” They also draw water from wells, so I am still unsure as to what the real meaning of this phrase is, but if one can cross a line, and the Sarlacc is a line, I was indeed quite cross myself at that point. If you displease the Sarlacc, your response should always be tailored with one thought in mind (and I say one, because more than that would probably overload the little food brain): There is a fine line between the Sarlacc tolerating you, and the Sarlacc digesting you over one thousand years. Finer than frog’s hair, if one leaps as such into my maw, physical or metaphorically.

 There was a sandstorm shortly after. It wasn’t a new occurrence, sandstorms are common in the desert. The food doesn’t like them because it can erase all tracks and cannot keep track of things…

 This language is ridiculous.

 Yes, displeased Sarlacc.

 After the sandstorm, the food would come back, dig the markers out of the sand, and restart its experiments. Time and time again.

 As I said, the Sarlacc was displeased. A sandstorm can erase many things. Tracks, marks, it can bury markers, and it can hide the markings on the sand of a Sarlacc that pushes itself slightly out of the pit to increase his reach a tiny bit, and the markings that an stretched out tentacle would leave on the sand as it reached for one of the safety markers.

 And, by some cosmic coincidence, the markers would find themselves, sandstorm after sandstorm, imperceptibly closer to the Sarlacc’s pit.

 Until, after the twelfth sandstorm, the researched discovered that one of the markers was close enough to the pit for the Sarlacc not only to touch it, but to wrap the tip of his tentacle around its foot.

 I wonder if the food is still making observations from the inside of my stomach. It’s going to have a lot of time to make them.

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Accursed Puny Food Technology!

I was unsure wether to post about this or not, but I suppose that the mystery of my absence can only be intriguing for so long.

You see, at first it was quite profitable. The food would wonder if the Sarlacc was still alive or not, would come to investigate and, encouraged by my apparent quiescence, would dare approach even closer and look down the Pit.

*Grab* *Nom*

:OE

(That, by the way, is what the food calls a “smiley.” A Sarlacc Smiley.)

However, weeding out the curious left with only those who were not intrigued by prolongued silence. Hence, with the meager means currently at my disposal, I am typing this.

You see, when I decided to infiltrate the food world as a means of obtaining more food (that’s the ultimate objective of anything a Sarlacc does, by the way), I acquired one of these gizmos called “computers.” It was a curious, cluncky, noisy piece of food ingenuity, or so I thought.

Unfortunately, food technology can, apparently, go up in smoke in a very nasty and smelly fashion. It may have been that a Sarlacc’s stomach is not the best environment to keep them, it may have been the scorching desert suns and the sand, it may have been the errant blaster shot that got it on the side after a particularly lively struggle with an armed piece of food. The end result is that the tool I was using died out on me in a toxic cloud of noxious fumes.

I should have searched for a Sarlacc-grade computer.

I will have to attempt the repairs myself, I tried to get a food technician to do the repairs, but he did not get far. In my defense, it was his fault for looking so delicious.

In the meantime I have to confine myself to this other gizmo called the “cell phone,” and I suck at thumb-typing. Ever seen a Sarlacc with thumbs? Yes, exactly.

At least Twitter is easy to use from the phone… when using the built-in browser.

I swear, the food’s culture really confuses me.

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