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Beard balm, Dark Beach, and some cute little quadcopters

Three staffers, three unabashed recommendations

Scotch Porter beard balm

Beards are a major responsibility, especially when you have a kinky beard like mine, which will quickly resemble discarded shag carpet if not properly maintained. I’ve tried all manner of oils and unguents to make my beard soft, give it some sheen, and add a bit of hold, but I’ve never used anything quite as good as Scotch Porter’s beard balm. It’s got lots of schmancy ingredients like kukui nut oil and marshmallow root, which I’d never heard of prior to using Scotch Porter, but am now eternally grateful for. In one easy step, it makes my beard soft, lustrous, and inviting, and it smells amazing. “Your beard smells so good” has become my favorite compliment. [Joshua Alston]

Adorable tiny quadcopters

Okay, let’s rewind to last Christmas: I’m at the store, grabbing stocking stuffers for my girlfriend, when I see a toy that fills me with a great and terrible lust, a little $7 remote control drone. “Ah,” I tell myself, already plotting how I’ll take it out of its box, “test it out,” and then keep the little floating sphere forever, “What a nice gift this will make!” Seventy-two hours later, it was broken, the poor victim of an attempt to navigate a largely uncontrollable flying ball up my house’s stairs—but not before I’d contracted a terrible case of flying toy fever. Soon, I was poking around on hobbyist web sites, watching YouTube review series hosted by people comfortable with terms like “pitch” and “yaw,” and Googling things like “best starter drone for horrible klutzes that don’t want to accidentally chop off their own dumb heads.” Eventually, I settled on a zippy little fellow known as the UDI U839—or “Humblebee,” as I call him, because he’s orange-and-black-striped and ridiculously adorable—a teensy little powerhouse that can fit in the palm of my hand and rocket to the ceiling in about a second of sustained throttle. (I also learned “throttle.”) Since he arrived, I’ve learned the most basic rudiments of piloting him, crashed him about a billion times, and developed an annoying tendency to anthropomorphize and gender inanimate quadcopters. I’ve also managed to fill my days with fast, amazingly satisfying interludes where I unleash my inner love of flight, which is why I’m recommending him (or something like him) here. If, like me, you work alone from home (and don’t, God forbid, have a ceiling fan), then picking up one of these cheap, durable quads is an amazing way to break up moments of writer’s block, or just inject a little joy into an otherwise boring day. [William Hughes]

Dark Beach

Dark Beach #1 is already completed, but the creators of the “sci-fi noir comic that follows Gordo, a blackmarket photographer, as he attempts to uncover the truth of why there is no longer a sun” are hoping to get printing and shipping costs covered via Kickstarter. Having read the first issue, written by Michael J. Ruiz-Unger and Tucker Tota, I will say the hard-boiled mystery is worth your time and money. Gordo’s beginnings are reminiscent of Lou Bloom from Nightcrawler, as he sells early photos of homicides to the press, but he becomes a far different character when symbolism of the “Old Sun” catches his eye at one of the crime scenes and sends him on a quest for the truth. Sebastian Piriz provides the art, which relies on the hard-drawn characters Gordo meets along the way, while Brian Butler provided a variant cover and colorist Ray Jones adds a dark and gruff dimension to the cast, offsetting them from the often brighter overlaid or neon-peppered backgrounds they travel through. For anyone who enjoys the work of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips—and who doesn’t?—this is for you. [Becca James]