Neil Cicierega, also known by his band name Lemon Demon, is an internet sensation. In my opinion, he’s the internet sensation, because he and his friends basically shaped the internet as we know it today.
It’s hard to avoid his influence online, whether your feelings are positive or negative. That’s why when he released Mouth Dreams in 2020, it changed the trajectory of my life – for the worse or the better, I cannot say.
Mouth Dreams is the newest in his series of inexplicably Shrek-themed mashup albums, alongside Mouth Sounds, Mouth Silence, and Mouth Moods. You may remember Mouth Dreams as a funny novelty, or if you have a sense of chronological linearity not marred by trauma, you might even remember it as one of the few enjoyable things to come out of 2020. Unfortunately, I remember it solely as one of the largest and longest panic attacks I have ever had.
Today, I am here to take you on a tour of exactly what happened to me on the evening of September 30, 2020.
In case you aren’t keyed into the broader tabletop RPG universe, there’s something of an Old-School Revival or Renaissance (henceforth OSR) going on. Many RPG gamers are looking towards the past, to the RPG heydays of the 70s and 80s, to draw inspiration for the future of tabletop games. And what, exactly, does this imply? Well, the members of the OSR aren’t always sure themselves, but it’s typically a broader focus on player agency and dungeon crawling, increased risk of character death, and reduced focus on pre-written plots. The gamemaster of an OSR game is once again an impartial referee, whose role is to simply mediate the world that the players explore in a sandbox style. “Rulings, not rules” is a common refrain – instead of having granular rulesets that explore every possible corner-case, OSR games prefer lighter and simpler rules, giving the gamemaster the final say on what is and isn’t permissible.
But what I like about the OSR scene is the incredible bulk of content for it. There’s a lot, and I mean a lot, of really fantastic OSR blogs, zines, and books out in the world filled to the brim with imaginative and wild settings. One of these settings is Vaults of Vaarn, a pay-what-you-want zine by author Leo Hunt A.K.A. graculusdroog on itch.io.
I downloaded Vaults of Vaarn on a lark, looking for more interesting RPG content to consume, and found myself blown away. Hunt emphasizes strongly his influences, naming Dune, Hyperion, and The Book of the New Sun, as well as the art of Moebius. He says it’s fine if you’re not familiar with these works, because it’ll “make his theft seem original.” Well, I’m not familiar with any of these works (aside from the art of Moebius), and Vaarn seems pretty damn original to me. So original, in fact, I thought I’d do a little review of it, just because it’s got me so jazzed.
Taco Bell may have betrayed us, but it’s a good thing they aren’t the only pseudo-Mexican-style food restaurant in the business. One of our personal favorites is Taco John’s, a distinctively Midwestern brand of ground meat slop shoved into tortillas that has managed to capture our heart.
It’s no secret that our number one favorite fast food item is Taco Bell’s Breakfast Crunchwrap, which was definitely the reason we were distracted from noticing Taco John’s breakfast menu for so long. Though Taco John’s was our first stop if we wanted shitty tacos, Taco Bell had our hearts for shitty breakfast. With Taco Bell announcing that they’re going to be making unforgivable changes to their menu, we’ve been in the market for a new tortilla-wrapped breakfast delight.
Most of Taco John’s breakfast items were the standard ‘breakfast burrito’ kind of thing, but one caught our eye: The “Meat & Potato Breakfast Burrito”. With just good old meat, potatoes, and eggs in it, it was a potential challenger to the Crunchwrap throne.
So can the Meat & Potato Breakfast Burrito dethrone the Breakfast Crunchwrap in our eyes? Hit the jump and find out.
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.
The Dreaming Way Tarot and the Dreaming Way Lenormand are two divinatory decks released by US Games in 2012 and 2016, respectively. Both decks are illustrated by Kwon Shina; the tarot deck was written by Rome Choi, and the Lenormand deck was written by Lynn Araujo.
For some horrid reason or another, we’ve decided to look at more Funko Pops! You might remember our previous article where we reviewed the toys of Ron Weasley and his nasty little rat, but we just watched FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM… nearly two years after its release… And you know what that means? Time for some Fantastic Beasts Funko Pops to review!
Fantastic Beasts was a pretty good movie, but we didn’t watch it for the shoehorned heterosexuality, or the non-acknowledgement of Dumbledore’s sexuality, or even because the noted horrible person Johnny Depp is in it. We watched it for those FANTASTIC BEASTS. So why not review the beasts, and only the beasts? Hit the jump to roll that beautiful beast footage!
Spoiler warning for the movie from this point forward!
The Housewives Tarot is a deck published by Quirk Books and designed by Paul Kepple and Jude Buffum of Headcase Design. It was first printed in 2004, and has since been followed by a semi-sequel, The Zombie Tarot. The deck is inspired by the aesthetics of 50s America, with martini-sipping housewife culture. The deck’s “backstory” involves the mystic Madame Marlena, an otherwise unassuming housewife who introduces the tarot to her group of friends as a way of life.
Here’s my thoughts on the deck of the so-called Marlena, under the cut.
Want to impress someone who was born in the 90s? Tell them you have an unopened can of Surge at home. Surge was a somewhat popular citrus soda released from 1997 to 2003 in the United States. Intended to be a competitor to Mountain Dew, it never managed to find a solid market and was eventually discontinued. Dedicated Surge fans didn’t take this sitting down and immediately launched a dedicated campaign to have the drink returned to store shelves.
The campaign has paid off with small victories in the past (namely the introduction of Vault, which was also quickly removed from stores) but their ultimate goal was accomplished in 2015. Surge was released as an internet exclusive on Amazon, and eventually returned to store shelves. It’s since been available pretty consistently since then as a total 90s nostalgia cash-grab. We don’t know if you can still get it in cans or bottles right now, but it’s openly available at any Burger King with a Coke Freestyle machine.
Should they have bothered to bring it back? Let’s find out.
In case you fell asleep from the years of 1997-2007 or were otherwise lucky enough to be spared from the onslaught, Harry Potter is a quasi-beloved fantasy book franchise about a little wizard boy and his little wizard friends.
One of those kids is named Ron Weasley, who briefly had a pet rat named Scabbers. Pet rats weren’t very well-regarded by the general populace at this point, but around the release of the film adaptations, quite a few people found the little rat man quite charming and it quite inexplicably became profitable to sell rat-themed merchandise* to wee ones.
Then Scabbers turned out to be an old man pretending to be a rat to deceive the children, but that’s not relevant to this article. What we’re talking about today: SCABBERS MERCHANDISE! And uh, Ron too, I guess.
*Incidentally, this is an extended advertisement for my upcoming zine, Rat Facts. It’s facts about rats.
It’s back! It’s back! Ring the bells and dance in the streets, it’s back! Oh, frabjous day! Celebrate with us, and be merry! Oh, but what’s back, you ask? Dear sweet friend, it’s the Beefy Crunch Burrito! Yes, yes, the BCB is back for a limited time only!
But is it really reason to celebrate? Will it live up to the incredibly high standards its fandom has put upon it? There’s only one way to find out –