Man takes the "cheapest" survival tool kit into the woods

Wranglerstar found the cheapest survival toolkit on Amazon, then took it into the wilds of the Pacific Northwest. There's a shovel, a saw, a magnetic LED flashlight with a tactical hitty thing and a USB outlet for charging gadgets, a pocket chainsaw, and a bag— all for $30. It's not awful, but the price didn't last.

Reviewing "cheapest" gear, I've noticed that the sellers are watching and sometimes jack the prices when a site or YouTuber with any audience posts something, as appears to be the case with this particular viral video. This will probably force reviewers to post roundups of cheap gear, so readers can easily figure out the "cheapest decent thing" from a fair selection.

Previously: The $7 Verical Ergonomic mouse is not awful. Read the rest

My Favorite Thing is Monsters: a haunting diary of a young girl as a dazzling graphic novel

Emil Ferris's graphic novel debut My Favorite Thing is Monsters may just be the best graphic novel of 2017, and is certainly the best debut I've read in the genre, and it virtually defies summarizing: Karen is a young girl in a rough Chicago neighborhood is obsessed with monsters and synthesia, is outcast among her friends, is queer, is torn apart by the assassination of Martin Luther King, by her mother's terminal illness, by the murder of the upstairs neighbor, a beautiful and broken Holocaust survivor, by her love for her Vietnam-draft-eligible brother and her love of fine art.

In 1956, Hugh Hefner gave MAD's founding editor an unlimited budget for a new satire magazine called "TRUMP"

Harvey Kurtzman is a hero of satire, the guy who convinced Bill Gaines's mother to bankroll a comic book called MAD, then doubled down by turning MAD into a magazine -- only to jump ship five issues later after a bizarre fight with the Gaineses, finding refuge with Playboy founder Hugh Hefner who gave him an unlimited budget to start an all-star, high-quality satire magazine called TRUMP, which lasted for two legendary, prized issues, now collected in a gorgeous hardcover from Dark Horse. Read the rest

Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland's DODO novel mashes up D&D, time-travel and military bureaucracy

While all of Neal Stephenson's -- always excellent -- novels share common themes and tropes, they're also told in many different modes, from the stately, measured pace of the Baroque Cycle books to the madcap energy of Snow Crash to the wildly experimental pacing of Seveneves. With The Rise and Fall of DODO, a novel co-written with his Mongoliad collaborator, the novelist Nicole Galland, we get all the modes of Stephenson, and all the tropes, and it is glorious.

Down Among the Sticks and Bones: return to the world of Every Heart a Doorway, where gender and peril collide

Seanan McGuire's 2016 novella Every Heart a Doorway was a mean, beautiful, hopeful fairy tale about a boarding school for kids who once opened a door into a magical world, only to return to mundane our earth broken and sorrowing. In Down Among the Sticks and Bones, a prequel published today, McGuire sharpens the tip of her literary spear to a lethal point, telling the tale of Jacqueline and Jillian, twins who opened a door and found themselves upon a moor where they were apprenticed to a vampire and a mad scientist.

The Realist: trenchant, beautifully surreal Israeli comics about a sweet and complicated existence

Asaf Hanuka is a celebrated Israeli cartoonist whose astonishing, surreal illustrations serve as counterpoint to sweet (sometimes too-sweet) depictions of his family life, his complicated existence as a member of a visible minority in Israel, the fear he and his family live with, and his own pleasures and secret shames -- a heady, confessional, autobiographical brew that has just been collected into The Realist: Plug and Play, the second volume of Hanuka's comics.

With Briggs Land, Brian Wood gets inside the scariest terror threat in America: white nationalists

Stories matter: the recurring narrative of radical Islamic terror in America (a statistical outlier) makes it nearly impossible to avoid equating "terrorist" with "jihadi suicide bomber" -- but the real domestic terror threat is white people, the Dominionists, ethno-nationalists, white separatists, white supremacists and sovereign citizens who target (or infiltrate) cops and blow up buildings. That's what makes Brian Wood's first Briggs Land collection so timely: a gripping story of far-right terror that is empathic but never sympathetic.

Three months with the cheapest electric kettle that didn’t look like it would kill me

At $11, the Proctor Silex K2070YA 1-Liter Electric Kettle was the cheapest model I could find on Amazon that didn’t look like it would result in electrocution or an explosion of boiling water. I’ve spent three months with it. It’s OK.

In fact, it’s showing no sign at all of problems. It boils water fast. The cord is detachable. It automatically shuts off when it boils, or if you try to boil air. The design makes it possible to refill from a faucet or fridge dispenser without opening the lid. You can see from across the room how full it is, too, thanks to its nice big window.

The little “heating in progress” LED light inside the transparent switch is still working after months of use, and there’s no rubbery seal around the lid slowly failing; two problems that soon became annoyances on the $75 Breville this replaced. The only problem, such as it is? The LEX part of the logo has completely and slightly mysteriously disappeared.

Here’s a photo of the heating element after a thousand or so boils:

If you do want to die, though, the $2.17 Lookatool Pocket Boiler is where it’s at. The Ovente looks quite similar to the Proctor Silex model, comes in several cool colors, and is currently the same price, but has a stupid window. Read the rest

Review: Mainstays $9 portable electric burner

Mainstays Single Burner is a portable electric coil hotplate you can buy for $9 at Walmart (and Amazon). It has a 1m two-prong cord, an adjustable power control (temperatures are not marked) and rubber feet.

I tested it with a steel stock pot with 8 quarts of water.

After turning up the heat I watched it for a while. It got the water to about 160 degrees but it was only slowly rising and I doubt it would have gotten to a boil. Touching the steel to observe the element, I felt a strange tingling, rippling sensation in my arm.

“That’s odd,” I thought, lifting the pot up to look at the element. The sensation left me. Part of the element glowed red but mostly it remained dark. I placed the pot back on the element and the moment it touched it that weird tingle shot up my arm again.

“Oh, I’m being electrified,” I said, “because I bought a $9 electric burner from fucking Walmart.” Read the rest

Review: Logitech MK270, the cheapest-ass wireless keyboard and mouse combo

The Logitech MK270 Wireless Keyboard and Mouse set was just twelve dollars and fifty cents!

It's sometimes $16.99 or even a bit more, but that's still pretty damned cheap.

I expected it to be about as bad as the Amazon Basics Keyboard, which is the same price, but wired, and you don't get a mouse. You know those nasty squidgy roll-up rubber portable keyboards? Imagine one of those in a rigid plastic case, and you have the Amazon Basics Keyboard.

This, though, is a perfectly decent full-size rubber-dome keyboard, as good as most of the tat in, say, a Best Buy or Staples. The special keys worked, including a calculator key that actually brings up the system calculator. Fucking witchcraft! Read the rest

Lekue Cooking Mesh makes boiling veggies fun again

It's pricier than the five-buck alternative, but my Lekue silicone cooking mesh bag [Amazon] has survived dozens of boils.

Soupy Leaves Home: a masterpiece of YA graphic storytelling, about hobos on the open road

In Soupy Leaves Home, writer Cecil Castellucci and artist Jose Pimienta expand the borders of young adult graphic novels, telling a moving, inspiring tale of Depression-era hobos, identity, gender, suspicion, solidarity, and the complicated business of being true to yourself while living up to your obligations to others.

Review: Guardians of the Galaxy 2

This was a Fun movie, and a very funny one, too. Until the end, I wasn't sure if it was a good one. Hell, it is good. The first was well-made and profoundly clever in its use of nostalgia as part of its storytelling soul rather than just appearances, but the sequel has a more perfect magic: emotional honesty.

It's about a team of famous yet bickering mercenaries and their unseemly associates, all outmaneuvering enemies and gravitating toward epic destinies that turn out to be mirages obscuring the smaller truths of family. I suspect this will make older viewers like it more, but younger ones like it less, because they don't sleep with the sort of well-settled emotional tangles that the movie vicariously unravels.

I don't really feel like more should be said, frankly, than that. It's a light show, lacking any suggestion of physical threat or danger, yet it wields its human weaponry so well. Read the rest

Spill Zone: fast-paced, spooky YA comic about the haunted ruins of Poughkeepsie

In Spill Zone, YA superstar Scott "Uglies" Westerfeld and artist Alex Puvilland tell the spooky, action-packed tale of Addison, one of the few survivors of the mysterious events that destroyed Poughkeepsie, New York, turning it into a spooky, Night-Vale-ish place where mutant animals, floating living corpses, and people trapped in two-dimensional planes live amid strange permanent winds that create funnels of old electronics and medical waste.

Review: High-Rise (2016)

High-Rise, directed by Ben Wheatley, brings J.G. Ballard's classic novel to the screen after a long wait.

It's set almost entirely in a residential tower, a massive brutalist edifice inhabited by thousands of early-1970s Britons eager for a new life. The ultimate product of mid-century urban planning, the concrete building is designed to take care of all its occupants' needs: there's a supermarket, a swimming pool, even a primary school, all tucked away deep within its forty stories.

Robert Laing, an introverted young doctor, moves in hoping to become an anonymous nobody amid this monument to the bland excellence of modern life. But he commits the critical error of making friends, and is slowly consumed by the building's odd psychic character, its microcosmic reflection of the divisions in society at large.

He notices that the lower levels are first to suffer when the power fails; then that the higher echelons enjoy special amenities of their own. And then, when the lights go out, everything goes to hell.

A little awareness of British life in the 1970s helps contextualise details that might otherwise baffle—in particular, skyscraper-happy Americans should know that residential towers there were always a controversial novelty, that garbage collecters were perpetually on strike, and that in British engineering, corners are always cut. But Ballard's sinister geometry of modernity, hiding an emotional suppression ready to explode into violence, is a language universal to all employed westerners.

It's an intriguing, sophisticated and handsome movie made excellent by Wheatley's skill and its cast: Tom Hiddleston as the skeptical middle-class everyman driven to madness by his environment's awful sanity, Jeremy Irons as the tower's vicious yet uncannily humanist architect, Elizabeth Moss (Mad Men, The Handmaid's Tale) as society's hope, and Luke Evans (Bard from The Hobbit) as the agent of chaos. Read the rest

John Scalzi's Collapsing Empire: an epic new space opera with snark, politics and action to burn

Regular Boing Boing readers need no introduction to John Scalzi, whose smartass, snappy, funny, action-packed science fiction novels are a treat to read; but new fans and old hands alike will find much to love in The Collapsing Empire, the first volume in a new, epic space-opera series.

If you're not reading Saga yet, Book 7 proves you should get caught up RIGHT NOW

Saga is Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples' magnificent, visually stunning, adventurous, funny, raunchy, complex and provocative graphic novel; the first six volumes of collected comics moved from strength to strength, fleshing out a universe that was simultaneously surreal and deadly serious, where cute characters could have deadly-serious lives: now, with volume 7, Staples and Vaughan continue their unbroken streak of brilliance.

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