Sunday, October 30, 2005

Home Again...Home Again...Jiggidy Jig!

Now that Survivor:Tatooine is finally wrapping up, I thought it would be a good time to take this opportunity to go and see the ol family homestead.

It wasn’t hard to find. Just head out to the south eastern part of the Dune Sea and make a left at the trail of beer cans. Sure enough, there was our ol trailer park.

The place hasn’t changed a bit.

I knocked on the door and ma opened it. “Wha? Land sakes! Lil’ Juicy? Is that really you?”

“Yeah Ma, its me. How ya been doing?”

She gave me one of those big motherly hugs. You know, the kind that squeezes the breath out of you. “My oh my. I can’t believe you’re here. Hey everyone!!! My son Lil’ Juicy is back!!!” Great. Who else in the family is in here?

She opened the door and led me in all the while worrying over my weight. “My, you look thin. Are you eating enough over there in croissant?”

“It’s Coruscant, ma. And yeah, I’m doing well.” I looked around. The place was filled with month old newspapers, cartons of cigarettes, empty cans of Ol’ Mos Eisley. Aunt Krip’ooí was in the kitchen cooking something up with a pound of Bantha lard and humming a toon. When she saw me she suddenly turned and yelled, “Banana Patch! Pudding Pops and Choo-choos. Milk toast? Piano! Gah-Ack!!!” Yup. Aunt Krip’ooí was still quite insane. But I got to give her credit; she can deep fry anything and make it taste good.

“You’re eyes look a bit dim, are you sleeping enough?”

“Yeah ma.”

“You look cold. Do you want me to fetch you your sweater?”

“It must be at least a hundred degrees in here ma. I’m fine.”

“Well then you just sit down and I’ll fix you up some vittles.”

“Sure ma.” I walked over to the tiny living room, complete with fake wood paneling and a tiny plastic fireplace that glowed with a sixty watt light bulb. My cousin Ni’teetee was there filing her nails and reading a National Enquirer. My Uncle Noo’booí (Uncle Noob for short) was there also watching galactic football on the ol black and white. For some reason he was in his boxers with a tub of onion dip on his chest. “Hey! Big time jawa man! How’s it hanging, boy? Ya want some dip?”

“eh…it’s going fine, Uncle Noob. Um…where’s the chips?”

“Ran out a couple o days ago. Just youz ya fingers. We’re all family here.” He then scooped up a two finger handful and slopped it in his mouth.

“Eh…maybe later. Hey Ni’teetee. How are you doing? Are you still in beauty school?”

“No. Ya know. Same ol thing. Got knocked up by the instructor, then he left me for a younger skank. Same thing as before.”

“uh….ya might wanna look into destructive life patterns.”

“Nah, I think the curtains are okay as they are.”

“Hey com’on over here, Jawa-boy. Watch some football with ya uncle for a spell.”

“Who’s winning?”

“The Anchorhead Armadillos. They’re beating the crap outta Oakland Tusken Raiders.”

“Here’s some deep fried Twinkies, dear.”

“Oh…eh…thanks ma. Say ma…where’s little Joot’í?”

“Oh, your lit’l brothers around here somewhere. Prol’ly over at those nasty Hutt neighbors we have now.”

“We got Hutts for neighbors? Since when?”

“Since Bubba the Hutt moved in a year or so ago. They is always leaving their rusted ol speeders out in the middle of the yard…shooting their blasters at ol broken down refrigerators. I sware, they is gonna make the property values drop around here. But ol Joot’í likes ta hang out with their son. They go Swoop Bike racing and shoot things, I think.”

“If ya ask me, he’s inna gang,” Uncle Noob chimed in. “Bad influence, those Hutts are if ya ask me.” He then spit out a huge dark gray loogie into his empty beer can then reached for another pinch of Kodiak Chaw.

“Scrub-a-dub-dub! We’re not hitchhiking anymore…we’re riding!!!” Aunt Krip’ooí had to add in. She’s never been the same since Uncle E’eootí left her for the dark side. She’s actually more coherent now.

I decided to step aside with my ma for a moment. “Are ya doing okay these days, ma? Do ya need more money?”

“Oh, I’m fine, Lil’ Juicy.”

“Coz I can send ya more if it’ll help.”

“What cha doing these days, jawa-boy?” Uncle Noob yelled over the beat up recliner. “Still fixen up them droids?”

“Eh, no Uncle Noob. I’m in the brownie business now. Didn’t you get a box of our brownies a while ago?”

”Is that what they waz? I thought they waz urinal cakes. They made my cheeks all tingly like when I sat on them, though.”

“Well…just as long as you enjoyed them, I guess.”

I turned back to my ma. “Ma, I’ve been giving you a lot of credits each month. How come the place still looks like…well…like this? What have you been doing with the money?”

”Land sakes, Lil’ Juicy! Now don’t be grillin’ your mother. Ya know I got important stuff ta buy for the family n’ all.”

Sure enough, I saw a cart of empty sherry bottles in the corner along with about a couple o hundred used scratcher lottery tickets spread all over the kitchen table. A giant velvet painting of some guy named Jeez-uh-suss stared down at me from the dining room wall.

“Want some sherry, dear?” Yup. Everything was the same.

“Eh, sorry ma. I got to go.”

“Go? Ya just got here?”

”I know, but I got to check in on my ol work mates before I leave.”

“But suppers almost ready. We’re having BBQ Bantha innerds. Uncle Noob’s got em cookin’ up in the back even as we speak. Ain’t that right Noob?”

“Yeah yeah, right. Hey, I’m outta beer sis, grab me another will ya?”

“I’m sorry ma, but I do gotta go. I’ll send ya more money when I get back home.”

I kissed her on her head and said my goodbyes then made a hasty retreat.

As I walked away, my ma stepped outside with me. “Is you ashamed of us now, Lil’ Juicy?”

“I…no ma. It’s just…well I guess it’s true…you can never come home again.”

“Aww…you know you can always come home, lil’ Juicy.”

“I know ma…thanks. I’ll always be home…right here.” I touched her heart. “Just remember…wherever there’s a broken down trailer park…I’ll be there. Wherever there’s a bunch of kids sneaking cigarettes and shooting cans…I’ll be there. Wherever there’s a singing billy-bass on the wall…I’ll be there. An wherever there’s toothless hic smiles filled with tobacco juice…I’ll be there. Just…metaphorically speaking that is. Goodbye ma.”

Sometimes, I can’t believe I actually grew up there. Even for a jawa it seems so small now.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Junk Mail

For the record, my real name is not J.J.. I't’s a nickname. Now, as nicknames go, it’s all fine and dandy. I can think of worse. (J.J.J. for instance, but what do I look like - a bad tempered, cigar chomping owner of a big business who hates spider-man? scratch that.)

Anyway, it doesn’t seem to stop the ton of junk mail I get supposedly coming to me. I mean really! Once they get a wrong name on their little computerized lists everything starts ta flood in. I get junk mail now coming to Dr. J. Jay, Jay Jayson, J.J.J.J.J.J.J jr. and so on. Not to mention sending it to my real name…or at least trying to. No I am not “Mouthpick moosepok moreslurp gooberscooperton plowpucker!!! Or any variations of said name for that matter.

It doesn’t matter. Once on their mailing list you just can’t stop the influx of pamphlets, catalogs, magazines, and fund raiser notices. Things I never even heard of. Such as Rolling Sith, Better homes and Death Stars, R2 Guide, Teen Sith, Swank…hmmm, nothing wrong with that one. Secret Jedi vacation homes, Road and Roboclaw, Senatorial Fashion Today, Good Gungan Housekeeping, Hutt-Life, the lists keeps coming.

I’ve tried writing to them to stop sending me this crap but all they do is turn around and send it to me again under another wrong name.

Then I got the latest pamphlet today and I got ta say, I was a bit worried.

Who knew their reach has grown so far…?

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Poker Night

So we got this new place, Sure, I’ll have a huge blow-out party sometime soon, maybe when all the Survivor episodes are all aired, but for right now just a little poker with some of the guys sounded perfect.

I made some calls, broke out the chips and dip and other munchies, made sure CU-812 was ready to mix the drinks behind the mini bar while ol’ Trash-E stomped around cleaning up the place. I put on my visor and lit up a stogie. I was ready.

I asked if Qui-Gon wanted to join in but he told me he wanted to meditate for a while but may join in later.

First to arrive were Obi-Wan and Mace. Obs of course brought his own supply of Cheetos. Anakin and Yoda soon followed. It seems they were in the middle of an argument about hitting a post on the way here which resulted in Anakin squealing from a force wedgie.. Typho, Han and Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator came by next. Quickly followed by Jar-Jar. Now, I know what you’re all thinking, why bring Jar Jar? Hey, we’re playing for credits here. A mark is a mark.

Fluke stopped by also with some strange blue collard guy in tow.

J.J.: Hey Fluke. Glad you could make it. Eh….who’s your friend?

Fluke: Hmmm? Oh him. That’s my science officer, Mr. Sprok. I…uh…had to bring him along. I couldn’t leave him alone….if you know what I mean. He then formed his hand into a bottle and whispered, you know…Glug-Glug-Glug.

I didn’t but I let them in anyway. That was everyone…or so I thought. Just as we were settling into our seats in the game room, the door bell rang again. I scurried down the stairs and answered the door. On the other side were Senator Palpatine and Count Dooku.

Dooku: I dare say, ol chap, is this where the card game is being held. I do so love a good ripping game of cards. You must be the butler.

He then handed me his top hat and cashmere scarf.

J.J.: No, I’m the owner here. How did you guys know that…

Palps: Tish-tish, my good jawa. What difference does it make, we’re here now. And we’ve brought plenty of credits with us.

He jangled a sack of coins in his front pocket…at least I hope they were a sack of coins. I shrugged and let them in. I suppose the rest of them could put aside their differences for a friendly game.

But when I lead them upstairs to the parlor…

Yoda: Dooku!!!

Dooku: Master Yoda

Anakin: Wha- Dooku!!!!

Dooku: Master Anakin

Mace: Dooku?!?!!!

Dooku: Master Windu.

Fluke: Coronal mustard!!! I mean Dooku!!!!!

Palps: Yes, yes. I’m sure it comes as a bit of a shock to see the count here, but I assure you his intentions are purely to play some cards. That is all.

Yoda: And know this, how do you, senator?

Palps: Why, I simply asked him, of course.

Han: Hey are we gonna gab all night or are we gonna play some cards? My fingers are beginning to itch and that’s a good thing. Besides, who cares who they are so long as they got the credits.

Han’s point was well taken so we sat down at the table, broke out the cards and set up the chips. CU-812 made the rounds taking orders for drinks.

It was dealer’s choice so I started the night with a simple five-card draw. First bets were laid out, then the cards drawn.

J.J.: How many cards you want Fluke? Eh…can you see your cards through that blast shield?

Fluke: hm? Oh sure. I can get a feel for them. I’ll take one card. NO Four!! Yeah, that’s it.

J.J.: uh hu. Jon?

Jon: Oh, I’ll hold on to these.

That drew some nervous stares.

As it turned out he was bluffing. And the pot came down to Dooku, Typho and Han. Not surprisingly the first game went to Han with a diamond flush.

Now, as I sat and played for the first hour I began to pick up on the interesting quirks of other players. For example Obi-Wan always stuck in there and bet, even when he had nothing.And if he did have something good he would nibble on a Cheeto like a rat. Yoda would more times than not giggle under his breath when he had some good hand. A poker face he does not have. Windu was the easiest mark of all. All you had to do to beat Windu was look at the reflection of his cards off his shiny skull. It wasn’t long before he was the first person out. To this day, he still didn’t know how he always lost every hand.

Dooku would always take a long savoring sip of his drink before betting big which usually meant he had something good and the rest of us should get out.

Palps hardly bet aggressive and rarely pressed his luck. Instead he seemed content to watch how other people bet. Very sneaky, that one.

On the other hand, Anakin would always raise and raise big.

Jar-Jar? Well, let’s just say Gungan and cards are not the best of mixes. Although he did win one big hand quite unexpectedly. He was up against Jon’s full house and had only two pair….a pair of black eights and a pair of red eights. Needless to say he was surprise at winning that.

Yoda, who was sitting on Typho’s left kept leaning in ever so subtlety into the captain’s blind spot to sneak a peek at his cards.

Typho: Hey…what are you doing. Just cuz I don’t have an eye on that side doesn’t mean I can’t tell you’re trying to cheat.

Yoda: Cheating, am I? No, leaning forward to release some gas, I was. Smell it can you?

After a while Dooku was down a lot of chips and he was beginning to drink more heavily.

Dooku: Another Gin and tonic, my good (hic) droid, and make it a double.

I couldn’t tell but I thought maybe Fluke was cheating also. He had that silly blast helmet on and Mr. Sprok just stood at attention behind him. Hmmm…I wonder…

After only one hour, it was clear that Han, Jon, and Typho were the card sharks at this table. I was holding my own, but they were good. Despite Yoda’s not too subtle forms of cheating, he was down to his last few credits and Anakin betting up a storm was almost out also. But I could smell a change in the air. I knew my luck would come in, if I just held out the night.

It was going to be a long night…

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The Penthouse that Brownies Built

J.J. and Qui-Gon step off the elevator onto the small hallway just outside their apartment.

J.J.: Now are you sure you got your eyes closed?

QG: uh, yeah.

J.J.: Just making sure. It’s hard to tell with ya being a force ghost an all.

QG: So like, what’s the surprise? Where are we?

J.J.: Where are we? Why….we’re home, my friend. Our new home! Okay…open your eyes!

QG: Woah. What happened to our old place?

J.J.: Completely remodeled. This time untouched by the boys of F.O.O.F. We now own the top two floors of the tower and every stitch of it redone. Come on. I’ll give ya the grand tour!

We were just in the communal elevator and hallway (1). Our only neighbors are some Grans. Don’t know them too well. Then we walk into the marble hallway (2) with a coat closet off to the side (2b) and into our huge, spacious sunken living room (3) with a giant curved window giving a fantastic view of Coruscant. In the back there we have a fully stocked bar too. (3b) as well as a side bathroom (3c).

QG: Who’s the protocol droid across the bar?

J.J.: Oh that’s CU-812. He’s new. He acts as a kinda butler, but mostly he fixes the drinks.

CU-812: Good afternoon Master J.J., Master Jinn. May I fix you two a drink? I am well versed in over six thousand forms of drink recipes.
J.J.: Not right now thank you. We also have Trash-E around here somewhere too. He’s been reprogrammed to clean up the place. Now…let’s continue on, shall we? Off to the side here we have a nice size dining room (4) and fully stocked modern kitchen as well (5). Just beyond is the experimental kitchen (6) where we can experiment around with new brownie concoctions. Plus a secured room for the spice (6b). Of course the main production is still manufactured at the factory, but this gives us a chance to work on things here on our own.

QG: Whoa, that’s like totally groovy man. But aren’t you worried about someone like, sneaking in here and stealing our recipes…not to mention the spice?

J.J.: Have no fear. I hired on Captain Typho to wire the place up with tons of security. He did a great job of the place. So much so I gave him a bonus, which as you know I don’t normally do, but he earned it.

Now let’s head over here. I’d like to call this our little art gallery hallway (7). On the other side is the library which can also substitute as a cigar lounge (8). Down below we have my office (9) and your office (10). Finally on this level we have the entertainment room (11). A huge room with comfortable couches and giant high definition plasma screen TV and surround sound speakers. Only the best, ya know. Ya can watch movies, listen to music, play the Super Deluxe Toshy© XXL-Box hyper-mega game system, complete with eight robo-controllers. You name it.

Okay, let’s get go up the stairs here.

QG: Stairs?

J.J.: That’s right Qui, ol buddy. We added the top floor to our home and completely redone that too.

First we have the guest bedrooms (12) In case some of our friends need ta crash. Over on this side we have my secluded living area (13) and bedroom (13b). I also added a sauna (14) for those times I really miss the heat. And of course the bathroom and walk in closet (15).

Now let’s walk across the hallway and we have your room (16) complete with beanbag chairs and also bathroom and walk in closet (17), if…eh you need that sort of thing.

You also have your own meditation room (18) and best of all, your own garden room (19) for all your plants and stuff. That room over there is a storage room for soil and stuff (19b).

QG: Dude….look at all the plants….it’s like….ya know…beautiful man.

J.J.: Glad you like it. But come on. I got a few more surprises for you. Back out the hallway we have guest bathrooms (20) and our laundry room (21) but you’ll never guess what’s behind this door. That’s right your own jam area complete with recording studio (22) for those times you just want to play the guitar or what have you. Invite some friends and jam away.

Now lets walk through the recording area out this door to the north and you’ll see we have a very nice outdoor balcony complete with Jacuzzi, lawn chairs and BBQ. (24) While just inside is another bathroom/ changing area for guests (23).

Finally we have the game room (25) complete with pool table, a huge card table and even a foosball table. Not to mention another smaller mini bar off to the side. And just up those steps is a side mezzanine (25b) where you can see all the latest arcade games are lined up. As you can see, there is another spiral staircase leading down into the living room from here too.

Finally we have the garage with speeder (27) and the droid repair shop/junk room (26).

So what do you think?

QG: Dude…it’s like….pretty far out!

J.J.: I take it then you like it.

QG: Oh yeah, man. Especially my jam room and garden.

J.J.: Good. I didn’t have a lot of time to go over the plans with you and I kinda wanted to surprise you too. But now there’s one more thing that needs to be done.

QG: A house warming party?

J.J.: Eh….that too. No, what I wanted to say was….well…I know we’ve had loads of wacky, zany adventures. We started Uncle Jinn and JJ’s Home-Made Super-Fudgy Special-Spiced brownies with a brownie pan, 27 credits worth of ingredients and the majority of your stash, but things are changing.

QG: oh oh….I think I know what’s coming…I think I saw this in a dream or something…

J.J.: As you know I am the majority shareholder of stock in our company…

QG: (looks around) Okay…where is he?

J.J.: (perplexed) Where’s who?

QG: Dooku.

J.J.: Dooku!?!? Why would that scoundrel be here?

QG: To…to replace me. You see I had this very vision…in those rings of fear on Survivor….I saw this coming…

J.J: Replace you? You’re kidding right? Dude…I want to make you a full fledged partner. 50/50…down the middle. You control the creative half…I control the business half.

QG: You…you mean you’re not firing me?

J.J.: No. You’re my business partner…but more importantly…you’re my friend. My best friend. I don’t know why I can see and talk to you, force ghost that you are, but for some reason I can. I always could. I came to Coruscant alone and not just a little lost and there you were…floating around your old home I had just acquired. I guess it was fate. I couldn’t have done any of this without you. From now on you're not some lackey here…you’re my partner. You have an equal say in what happens to our business.

QG: I…I don’t know what to say…

J.J.: Say you’ll sign this paper making it official…partner. Good. Now let’s put on some vintage Pink Fambaa and hang out in our new place…friend.