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Sword and Laser Podcast 170: The Lives of Wesley Chu

The Sword and Laser (S&L) is a science fiction and fantasy-themed book club podcast hosted by Veronica Belmont and Tom Merritt. The main goal of the club is to build a strong online community of science fiction / fantasy buffs, and to discuss and enjoy books of both genres. Check out previous episodes here.

[Video Link] Wes Chu has had many interesting (and varied) careers, but we're happy that he's focused on the fascinating tales of Tao. In this Google hangout, we talk about the upcoming finale to the series, where he's taking the story next, and answer your questions!

Read show notes here.

Sword and Laser is not just a podcast; we’ve also been a book club since 2007! Each month we select a science fiction or fantasy book, discuss it during kick-off and wrap-up episodes of the podcast, and continue that discussion with our listeners over on our Goodreads forums. So come read along with us, and even get a chance to ask your questions to the authors themselves!

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Hand crank extension cord winder

I use several corded power tools around the yard and garden such as a chain saw, leaf vacuum, hedge trimmer, etc. Many’s the time I would put off a chore using them because I would have to uncoil the 100′ of power cord and probably have to untangle/unkink it before using it. After the job was done, it would take another few minutes to coil up the power cord and try not to tangle it in the process.

A couple of types of cord reels I tried didn’t work particularly well. So I bought this weird looking cord winder a few years ago. After installing the wall mount near the power outlet in my garage and winding my cord into the basket, I was quite surprised to discover I could pull out the 100′ of power cord, tangle/kink free in about a minute to the end of my driveway. I would do my chore (usually the leaf vacuum for lawn clippings and leaves) and, in another minute or two I could wind up the cord, detach the cord winder from the wall mount and put it on the shelf. Those chores now get done when needed instead of being put off since the cord unwinding/re-winding takes so little time. -- Jim Service

Wonder Winder Hand Crank Extension Cord Winder: $20

Boars, Gore, and Swords: Game of Thrones recap: 4x02:

Boars, Gore, and Swords is hosted by stand-up comedians Ivan Hernandez and Red Scott. In each episode they break down HBO's Game of Thrones and George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire. They also talk about movies, TV, science fiction, fantasy, and lots of other things. NSFW.

Season 4 Episode 2 of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” takes the fourth season to an entirely different level. Ivan and Red are joined by comedian and Business-man Sean Keane to discuss an episode that is certain to be a classic in this realm. We cover the most disturbing tv scene in television history, Joffrey’s dream woman, a refocusing on Bronn’s storyline, the insufficient bastard naming system, Theon going to Barber school, Skyler vs Shae, the lineage of Dragonstone, Joffrey’s wonderfully short wedding ceremony, new Tommen, Ser Loras vs Ser Jaime, Brienne vs Cersei, the indignity of the little person acting troupe, and reams and reams of comeuppance.

This episode is brought to you by:

NatureBox, for 50% off your first box of snacks you can feel good about, go to http://NatureBox.com/boars

HuluPlus, try 2 weeks of HuluPlus completely free when you sign up at http://HuluPlus.com/boars

Read Boing Boing's other GoT S04E02 recap here.

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Diableries: Stereoscopic Adventures in Hell (book review)

Diableries: Stereoscopic Adventures in Hell centers on a beautiful, reprinted collection of diabolical 1860s French stereoscopic cards. On each card is an image of a detailed, intricate clay diorama depicting life in hell. Each card tells a story, but the story of the collection itself is far more interesting.

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Wink's remarkable book picks of the week

Wink is a website that reviews one remarkable paper book every weekday. My wife, Carla Sinclair, is the editor. We take photos of the covers and the interior pages of the books to show you why we love them. This week we reviewed books about excellent optical illusions, the events of one day in WW1 told in the form one long continuous pen drawing printed on a fold-out scroll, Ernest Shackleton’s brave yet disastrous attempt to cross the Antarctic continent, hundreds of science-themed tattoos worn by working scientists, the sketchbooks of artists from around the world, and the greatest comic books ever published in a bound slipcase.

Take a look at these books and many others at Wink.

Boars, Gore, and Swords GoT recap: 4x01: Two Swords, One Throat

Boars, Gore, and Swords is hosted by stand-up comedians Ivan Hernandez and Red Scott. In each episode they break down HBO's Game of Thrones and George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire. They also talk about movies, TV, science fiction, fantasy, and lots of other things. NSFW.

With the long awaited Season 4 Premiere of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” is upon us, Ivan and Red cut deep into “Two Swords.” They’re joined by third chair Kelly Anneken, and the three of them discuss molten ice, the sequel to Ser Captain America - The Winter is Coming Soldier, Tall Joffrey, the introduction of Prince Oberyn (AKA “The Red Viper”), mc’ing weddings for cake, the newer/higher mountain, Assassin Kenny Rogers, Jaime going full Buster Bluth, The Cannibal Borg, Joffrey’s Saxophone statue, the abbreviated "Ser Duncan the Tall", and the beautiful reunion of a girl and her named sword!

This episode is brought to you by NatureBox, for 50% off your first box of snacks you can feel good about, go to naturebox.com/boars

Read Boing Boing's other GoT S04E01 recap here.

GET BGaS: RSS | On iTunes |

My daughter Poesy reviews Hilda and the Black Hound


Luke Pearson and London's Flying Eye Books have published the fourth Hildafolk kids' graphic novel, Hilda and the Black Hound. Like the earlier volumes (reviews: Hildafolk and Hilda and the Midnight Giant and Hilda and the Bird Parade), it's nothing less than magical, a Miyazaki-meets-Moomin story that is beautifully drawn and marvellously told.

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Wink's remarkable book picks of the week

Wink is a new website that reviews one remarkable paper book every weekday. My wife, Carla Sinclair, is the editor. We take photos of the covers and the interior pages of the books to show you why we love them. This week we reviewed books about the greatest comic books ever published, provocative ads that defined the world of fashion, the art and revelations of hand-drawn maps, a an eccentric genius' explanation of how half-Yeti hybrids have enslaved mankind , Rex Ray's merging of design and fine art with retro-mod flair, and spectacular close-up photographs of the elements .

Take a look at these books and many others at Wink.

The Gettysburg Address: A Graphic Adaptation, a nuanced and moving history of race, slavery and the Civil War


The Gettysburg Address: A Graphic Adaptation sat in my pile for too long, and it shouldn't have. I loved The United States Constitution: A Graphic Adaptation, the previous effort by Jonathan Hennessey and Aaron McConnell, so I should have anticipated how good this new one would be. Having (belatedly) gotten around to it, I can finally tell you that this is an extraordinary, nuanced history of the issues of race and slavery in America, weaving together disparate threads of military, geopolitical, technological, legal, Constitutional, geographic and historical factors that came together to make the Civil War happen at the moment when it occurred, that brought it to an end, and that left African Americans with so little justice in its wake.

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An eccentric genius explains how half-Yeti hybrids have enslaved mankind

In 1934 the government of Poland declared Stanislav Szukalski the country’s ‘Greatest Living Artist.’ It built the Szukalski National Museum in Warsaw to hold his massive sculptures and dramatic, mythological paintings.

When the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939, they destroyed the museum and all of Szukalski’s sculptures and paintings. He fled to the United States, where no one recognized him as a celebrated hero. He lived in a small apartment in Glendale, California and made a meager income drawing maps for the aerospace industry. He devoted the rest of his life developing his theory of “Zermatism,” which centered on his belief that human beings were under the control of a race of human-yeti hybrids (the result of ‘yeti apes’ raping human women). Szukalski wrote over 10,000 pages about Zermatism and illustrated his argument with 40,000 illustrations.

Szukalski would have remained in total obscurity if he hadn’t been discovered by a few popular underground cartoonists: Robert Williams, Rick Griffin, and Jim Woodring – who recognized Szukalski’s immense artistic talent, and befriended him. (I interviewed Woodring about his friendship with the incredibly arrogant yet charming Szukalski on my Boing Boing podcast, Gweek. You can listen to it here.)

Several years ago I had the opportunity to see the entire Zermatism archives firsthand. They are bound in massive books and are in the possession of comic book art collector Glenn Bray. It was a stunning sight. Behold!!! The Protong represents less than 1% of the total Zermatism oeuvre, but it’s enough to give you a feel for the depth of breadth of Szukalski’s lifelong obsession.

See more images and text excerpts from Behold!!! The Protong at Wink

Expiration Day: YA coming of age novel about robots and the end of the human race


Expiration Day is William Campbell Powell's debut YA novel, and it's an exciting start. The novel is set in a world in which human fertility has collapsed, taking the birth-rate virtually to zero, sparking riots and even a limited nuclear war as the human race realizes that it may be in its last days. Order is restored, but at the price of basic civil liberties. There's a little bit of Orwell (a heavily surveilled and censored Internet); but mostly, it's all about the Huxley. The major locus of control is a line of robotic children -- all but indistinguishable from flesh-and-bloods, even to themselves -- who are sold to desperate couples as surrogates for the children they can't have, calming the existential panic and creating a surface veneer of normalcy.

Expiration Day takes the form of a private diary of Tania, an 11 year old vicar's daughter in a small village outside of London. Tania's father's parishioners have found religion, searching for meaning in their dying world. He is counsellor and father-figure to them, though the family is still relatively poor. Tania is a young girl growing up in the midst of a new, catastrophic normal, the only normal she's ever known, and she's happy enough in it. But them she discovers that she, too, is a robot, and has to come to grips with the fact that her "parents" have been lying to her all her life. What's more, the fact that she's a robot means that she won't live past 18: all robots are property of a private corporation, and are merely leased to their "parents," and are recalled around their 18th birthday, turned into scrap.

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iPad ebook of the 100 finest examples of 20th century filmmaking

Taschen books has created a useful iPad ebook that serves as a companion to its excellent 100 All–Time Favorite Movies book set (a whopping 800-page two-volume softcover book set that comes in a slipcase.) It has a neat feature - if a movie is available for rental or purchase on iTunes, you can get it right from the ebook. The 100 All-Time Favorite Movies ebook is 671 pages long and features movie trailers and soundtracks for featured films, and interactive images and galleries.

From horror to romance, noir to slapstick, adventure to tragedy, western to new wave, all genres are represented in this compendium of celluloid excellence. Metropolis? Check. Citizen Kane? Of course. La dolce vita, Psycho, A Clockwork Orange? You bet.... and so many more, including lesser-known masterpieces like Buñuel’s The Young and the Damned. And for a first sample of each of these gathered greats, simply tap through with a wifi connection, watch the trailer, or tune into the movie soundtrack.

Each chronologically arranged film entry also includes a synopsis, cast/crew listings, technical information, actor/director bios, trivia, original poster, production photos, and a list of awards. Decade-by-decade introductions, meanwhile, explore the particular context of each era, setting the historical and social scene for each of these silver screen triumphs.

It's only $10. I bought it earlier today and I love it.

100 All-Time Favorite Movies

Wink's remarkable book picks of the week

Wink is a new website that reviews one remarkable paper book every weekday. My wife, Carla Sinclair, is the editor. We take photos of the covers and the interior pages of the books to show you why we love them. This week we reviewed books about spectacular close-up photographs of the elements, bubble-gum-sweet yet provocative French girls of the 1960s, a mapped guidebook to the underground city of Hong Kong, a grab-bag of 100 fascinating topics related to black, wonderfully weird medieval clip-art, and Chip Kidd’s ingenious book covers.

Take a look at these books and many others at Wink.

James Kochalka's "The Glorkian Warrior Delivers a Pizza"


I have never heard my daughter laugh as loud or as long as she did when I read her James Kochalka new kids' graphic novel, The Glorkian Warrior Delivers a Pizza. My six year old literally howled with laughter as I read this to her at bedtime, and kicked her legs in the air, and thumped the pillow -- tears of laughter rolled down her cheeks. After reading this to her twice at bedtime, I had to declare a moratorium on further bedtime reads because it wound her up too much to sleep.

I loved it too. The Glorkian Warrior is a dopey, destiny-seeking superhero who finds himself on a quest when he intercepts a wrong-number pizza-order and decides to deliver the leftover pizza in his fridge. His straight-man is his wisecracking, laser-zapping sentient backpack, which helps him fight off a giant mecha-suited doofus named Gonk, a mysterious pizza-snatching saucer-craft, and a magic robot in an impenetrable fortress.

Read the rest

Wink's remarkable book picks of the week

Wink is a new website that reviews one remarkable paper book every weekday. My wife, Carla Sinclair, is the editor. We take photos of the covers and the interior pages of the books to show you why we love them. This week we reviewed books about Chip Kidd’s ingenious book covers, Jill Greenberg's delightful photo portraits of primates, Jimmy Nelson's stunning high-fashion portraits of tribal people in their most distinguished, authentic costumes, Annie Leibovitz's stories behind her best photographs, the world of Game of Thrones in the form of a large pop-up, fold-out map, and Thomas C. Card's photos of exuberantly colorful Japanese street fashion tribes.

Take a look at these books and many others at Wink.