FOOD: Popeyes – The Sandwich

Chicken is the most popular meat in the world. Its meteoric rise to the top has been compounded by a number of factors: a general desire to eat “healthier”, the growing pressure of climate change and the impact of the beef industry upon it, the plummeting prices of chicken meat as a commodity…. It goes on and on. Chicken is the king, and every restaurant is trying to get in on this action.

“This action” is, almost always, a kind of chicken sandwich based upon the kind offered by Chick-fil-A. If chicken is king, Chick-fil-A is its greatest kingdom; it is without a doubt the most popular restaurant in America. Its chicken sandwich is considered one of the finest among the fast food art form, and the service exhibited at its restaurant is said to be unparalleled.

Unfortunately, Chick-fil-A is incredibly homophobic.

Chick-fil-A- was founded by S. Truett Cathy, a devout Southern Baptist. It still holds on to its southern Christian heritage to this day by closing on Sunday, printing bible verses on its cups, and donating to Christian anti-LGBT hate groups. Despite these misgivings, Chick-fil-A maintains its top position in the fast food world with this winning combination: ardent homophobic supporters; people who simply do not care; and myopic poultryvores who apparently think the food really is just that good.

Popeyes, on the other hand, is not openly homophobic. It’s not the most popular chicken restaurant in America, either, but it’s got a loyal following for its unique ‘Louisiana-style’ chicken. Being a chicken restaurant, it was only natural that they would get in on the sandwich craze. But not even Popeyes could’ve expected the massive response when they released the sandwich back in August. It exploded in popularity, fermenting a sharp war between Chick-fil-A loyalists and Popeyes fans across the nation; it was so popular that every restaurant in the nation ran out of sandwiches before the promotion was even slated to end.

Now it’s back, as a permanent menu item. We tried and failed to get it when it was new, forcing us to suffer through lengthy waits at two different restaurants with advertisements still proudly posted in their windows, but now it’s up for grabs whenever. Does it live up to the incredible hype? Can it topple the Chick-fil-A throne? Find out after the cut.

Read On…

REVIEWS: Miss Cleo’s Tarot Power Deck

There are a wide number of names you can reference when discussing the great disciples of tarot: A.E. Waite, Éliphas Lévi, Ettellia, and so forth. Not many people would think to mention Youree Harris among those names, but there are few others who come close to what she did for the art of tarot reading. You’d know her better as Miss Cleo, and might remember her commercials for the Psychic Readers Network from the late 90s through the early 2000s. Miss Cleo herself was a complete construct, a character devised by Youree Harris for an original play transformed into a Jamaican shaman practicing a vague pastiche of Vodou mixed with New Age psychic thought. Most relevant was her supposed skill with the tarot; if you took her commercials at face value, she could tell you the name of your baby’s true father, forewarn terrible disaster, and find you true love with only a few (toll free!) minutes with the cards.

I do not know if Youree Harris herself ever read tarot seriously, or if she even performed her character for callers to the psychic hotline she advertised. Youree was an actress first and foremost, an amateur playwright whose self-produced plays left her running from debts and failing to pay her actors. In turn, the Psychic Readers Network left her high and dry after being indicted for one billion dollars in deceptive billing practices. After leaving the Network behind, Youree maintained her Miss Cleo character in various parodies of her famous commercials until 2015. On July 26th, 2016, Youree Harris died of colon cancer after a long battle. There has never been another TV psychic on the same level as Youree, and with the move of professional tarot reading from hotlines to independent online readers, it is extremely unlikely there will ever be another.

Miss Cleo may be one of the few tarot readers whose popularity allowed the production of an official licensed tarot deck. You’d think they’d be taking a bite out of their own customer base by doing this, but by the time the Psychic Readers Network published this deck they were already in serious legal troubles. This may have been their last effort to squeeze more money out of the Miss Cleo brand before the FTC finally came down on their heads. After the jump, we’ll get into the deck ourselves and see what Miss Cleo holds in store.

Read On…

EGGWARE.XYZ: Worldbuilding June 2019 – Who’s Important

Xarcadia is a perfect world in many ways. There is no war, no poverty, no struggle by its inhabitants to simply live. The world is remarkably static, even in its rotation: by performing an impossible twist in its rotation, Xarcadia doesn’t even have seasons. The people live in harmony and peace, never descending into warfare – even the largest struggles on Xarcadia can be solved by a few determined people with a goal. Why is this? How did Xarcadia become this paradise of peace and magic?

The answer is simple: It was designed that way.

Untold eons ago, before there was anything, the creators were. They were a group of beings beyond comprehension, whose existed in the infinite void of space, alone and incomparable. These beings drifted together, bored and aloof, looking for new forms of entertainment. Sadly the universe proved less than ideal for their tastes: aside from the infinite number of lifeless worlds that did not entertain with their geology, worlds that did have life were painful places. This displeased the creators, who enjoyed watching the noble struggle of heroes and did not care for bloody warfare, starvation, and strife. Sometimes they used their powers to enrich the lives of planets they came across, but every time their meddling only magnified the problems as greedy tyrants moved to take control over the new resources. 

It was decided: they would make their own world from scratch, and eliminate the social strife that plagued other worlds. They would take a little from each world they liked the best: the magic, the mystery, the chance for normal people to become heroes. 

The creators soon staked out their claim and began world on a world that would be as perfect and entertaining as possible. They literally put pieces of themselves into the world, creating progeny begins who could be trusted to perform the more menial tasks of world creation while they focused on the larger picture. In time, the world grew and become more tangible. Life grew, nations were founded, and the magic flowed. It flowed a little more than the creators expected.

As millennia passed, the creators discovered that making this world had weakened them. The magic the world fed on was them, their essences, and the more they worked upon the world, the weaker they would become. New gods were rising up, powered by the beliefs of mortals, who in turn were developing their own magical powers; whenever magic flowed on Xarcadia, it came from its original creators. Unsure of what to do, the creators came up with a plan: they would finally step back from their creation and let it run itself. Their final action was creating the system of portals and Keys, so that their burgeoning world could be thrust into a new era without direct influence. They receded, shrunken, but proud of their accomplishment.

These gods still exist as entities who observe but refuse to interact with the world of Xarcadia as they are. Few realize that these entities even exist; the only ones who are conscious of the truth of Xarcadia’s creation are the great zonal gods, who have been sworn to secrecy. It’s not impossible to find a Xarcadian-written history of the creators from when they were still a part of the world; still, the lore is so old, so obscure, and so rare that to do so would require a herculean effort. The creators have gone to every length to ensure that their secrecy will be maintained for as long as they see fit. They worry that, being so diminished, their own world might turn against them. In their weakened state, they are still the most powerful singular beings anywhere in the world; however, if Xarcadia were to work together to defeat them, they would be helpless. 

The creators hope that one day, Xarcadia will become mature enough to spawn off gods who will take their own treks to the void of space and create their own worlds. In time, Xarcadia may become the progenitor of billions of peaceful, magical worlds. For now, all they want to do is watch.

EGGWARE.XYZ: Worldbuilding June 2019 – Weather

Xarcadia has a unique orbit around its sun: As it rotates around the star, and as the planet itself spins, the axial tilt of Xarcadia shifts itself as well to ensure that the North pole is always pointed towards the star and the South pole is always pointed away. This means Xarcadia has distinct climate zones, but no seasons.

Without any seasons, the weather in each zone is relatively static from day to day. Rainy zones will be rainy ceaselessly; dry, arid zones will almost never experience rainfall. This also means that the North-most zones never experience night, and the South-most zones never experience day. Life in these most extreme zones can be challenging, but not impossible; in fact, some of the most popular districts of Cosmopolis are built below the perpetual night line in order to enjoy nightlife that never ends.

Magical weather is the source of most major weather-related disasters. When intense magical energy builds up in the atmosphere, it will express itself in any way it can. This mostly only results in intense aurorae, but sometimes impossible weather will occur that can put the inhabitants of a zone in serious danger. A peaceful day can be replaced with hurricane-level downpours that rain drops of blood instead of water; Xarcadians grow sick, crops wither, and buildings are destroyed. Lightning storms form that are so powerful a single lightning bolt destroys the top levels of a massive Cosmopolian skyscraper, sending flaming debris to the ground. Powerful weathermancers are a must in highly populated areas, lest thousands of people be killed in a terrifying magical storm.

EGGWARE.XYZ: Worldbuilding June 2019 – Communication

With a world as large as Xarcadia, communication is key to maintaining order. The best way to accomplish this is through the use of enchanted mirrors designed to transmit sounds and images to each other. The spell to enchant any mirror to become a device to communicate with others is simple, commonly distributed, and ubiquitous in any Xarcadian home. A small compact mirror can be kept in a pocket for quick calls; a larger mirror can be used to provide a larger picture, and some people have mirrors so large as to take up a substantial amount of a wall. 

With the popularity of mirrors as communication devices, some people have began to transmit information to multiple mirrors at once as a way to share entertainment and information. By tuning your mirror to a specific “telorama” frequency, a person can watch a play, listen to music, or learn the results of popular sports all from the comfort of their own home. A few enterprising magicians have even begun to enchant mirrors to communicate with each other in a system they call the “notice board system”. By using a central Server enchanted to both receive and transmit messages, mirrors can communicate with each other and send their own information to be received by each other. Few telemancers are connected to this network now, but it’s growing every day and is poised to displace the telorama as the next big thing in Xarcadian communication.

EGGWARE.XYZ: Worldbuilding June 2019 – Transportation

On Xarcadia, the most common way to get around is under your own power. Personal transportation is rare; for longer distances solo, a riding animal is your best bet. Fortunately, due to the system of portals, walking to distant locations is feasible as long as the portal itself is close to your home. 

Magic allows for a great variety of public transportation systems. Trains are the most common method, being powered by bound non-sentient elementals to power steam engines. The discovery of steam power is a relatively new invention, but it has been rapidly implemented across all of Xarcadia. Simpler, but costlier, is using magic to move a wheeled object directly. A few personal carriages are owned by particularly well-off enchanters, but most people rely on omnibuses that float on air elementals for a smooth ride to somewhat distant areas. The most distant travel is also powered by air elementals: airships. It is slow, but the airships are loaded with amenities that train or omnibus travel cannot reasonably possess. 

With the use of a multitude of air elementals, travel through space is possible. Few airships are able to make the journey, almost all of them are owned by the largest trading conglomerates, and the asking price to get a seat on them for casual travel is high; regardless, the allure of space travel is so tempting that the spacelines will regularly sell out all of their seats within hours of listing new tickets. 

Magic can also be used to aid the disabled who cannot walk under their own power. A Server can be designed that is large enough for a person to sit in; this Server can then be controlled by its rider to function as a wholly mobile hoverchair. Those who wish to use their legs can opt for magical prosthetics and harnesses, allowing the legs to move with the help of magic. Magical prosthetics can be used for much more than just mobility as well: they can be used to augment a blind eye, or enhance a deafened ear. 

EGGWARE.XYZ: Worldbuilding June 2019 – Art

Every Xarcadian is an artist in their own way. Without the outside pressures of capital to force a lifestyle focused around work, the people are free to create the inner desires of their soul as they see fit. Most artists are amateurs, doing their art only to share with the people in their immediate community or just for themselves. Access to art making materials, be it paints, musical instruments, or materials for sculpture, is almost universal and kept in common by most people. The arts are respected as the highest form of expression across all of Xarcadia and artistry is encouraged by all.

Artistic get-togethers are one of the most popular social events and are a fantastic excuse to host artistic competitions. Within a time limit, a few hours at most, local artists are challenged to create the most moving work of art within their discipline and are judged on their accomplishment. To ensure fairness and to reward only those interested in the art itself, the prizes are always something totally worthless: a single flower, a piece of fruit, or a particularly interesting rock. 

In Cosmopolis, art is a kind of commodity that can be used to make a living. Many people write stories, play music, and create visual art that can be traded and sold to make a living. These mass-market works of art are repackaged and distributed through Xarcadia by trade caravans. Many people in rural communities look forward to the arrival of the caravans for the latest installment of their stories as much as the fresh food!

Xarcadian art deals with many topics, but the heroic epic is one that has lasted through the ages. Hero-worship is an idea that cannot be taken lightly; with enough belief after the death of a beloved champion, they may literally turn into a god! Art is a favored way to share the myths and legends of great gods, a practice with the gods encourage in order to cultivate more belief in them. Some of the more powerful gods are artistic celebrities in their own right, performing in plays and creating their own otherworldly music for their followers.

EGGWARE.XYZ: Worldbuilding June 2019 – Everyday Carry

A Xarcadian’s daily carry is highly based upon their needs specific to where they live. Most Xarcadians own an enchanted purse for carrying their Coins in; due to the special properties of Plastik, the Coins can be shrunken down via magic to be more easily carryable. This process works for non-Coin items as well, a magical property that gives Plastik its innate value. 

In rural zones, the threat of beast or Shadow attack is high. People must be constantly armed in case of random attack. It is unthinkable to go past the boundaries of your village without a sword, a wand, or a few pieces of armor. In the event of a Shadow attack, an enchanted weapon is even more essential. Wearing a well-used sword on your belt is a sign to others that you are willing to protect them in danger, and that you are going to put your life on the line if it comes to that.

Cosmopolians do not have to worry about outside threats anywhere near as much as rural Xarcadians and do not carry weapons on them. To do so is seen as tacky and frightening; there is little threat of being attacked on the streets, so why bring a weapon with you everywhere? Instead most Cosmopolians carry compact enchanted mirrors to communicate with each other. Where as rural Xarcadians will see their friends in person most every day, living in Cosmopolis necessitates much travel; to keep in touch, networked magic mirrors allow for face-to-face communication every day. 

EGGWARE.XYZ: Worldbuilding June 2019 – Unexplored

Much of Xarcadia is still unexplored and uninhabited. Xarcadia is a massive world – more than four times the size of the planet Earth – and the reliance on the established portal network means that getting to the more distant areas is a serious struggle. There may be whole continents that are simply uninhabited, life never having achieved sentience within its borders.

The discovery of new Keys is the best way to explore new areas on Xarcadia. There is no way to know where the portal created by a new Key will take you until it is made. The portal could manifest a few blocks away from your home, or it could take you to a previously unknown planet well beyond the limits of Xarcadia – there’s only one way to find out. The need for new portals is so high that trading conglomerates will pay thousands of Coins for the discovery of new Keys, just to be the first to send trading caravans to new places. 

When a new and totally unexplored region is discovered, Xarcadians are very careful to investigate the surroundings before attempting to form a settlement. If there are any Xarcadians already living in that space, they will be left to their own devices until they wish to associate with the greater world. If the land appears to be totally uninhabited, a colony will be established and a new generation of civilization will attempt to take root.

EGGWARE.XYZ: Worldbuilding June 2019 – Sky

The Xarcadian sky is much like Earth’s – blue, cloudy, and with a large central sun. The effects of magic upon the world can cause for interesting effects; on clear nights, large aurorae can be seen streaking across the sky, the effect of magical radiation interacting with the atmosphere. Optical phenomena are more common on Xarcadia in general. Large sun dogs, tremendous quadruple rainbows, and iridescent clouds are almost daily events that bear little importance to the Xarcadian on the street. At night, the common belief in certain constellations has caused literal lines to form between the visible stars, drawing them out for all to see.

Due to the unique rotation of Xarcadia, the night sky can be radically different depending on where you are. In the north, where night never falls, the sun can only skirt the horizon and the stars never become visible. The opposite is true in the south, where the sun never rises and brilliant night skies are always on display. In the equatorial zones, stunning sunsets and sunrises occur at intervals so consistent you could set a watch to them.

In certain zones, the sky is so unusual that only magic can explain its appearance. Some zones that can only be accessed by portals – so called “bonus zones” – have skies that can be brightly toned hues of the rainbow, or a repeating image pattern. During intense magical storms, clouds can warp, twist, and mold themselves into impossible shapes or the appearance of soon-to-be-born gods. Sometimes the sky will turn into night in an instant, displaying new constellations never seen before, then turn back into daytime just as quickly.