Grimoire
Cthulhu
Dracula
Abraham Lincoln
Ken
Grimoire

Episode 331: Tomb of the Kardashians

February 15th, 2019 | Robin


In the Gaming Hut we imagine what will happen when LARPs meet e-sports. Call our people, TV industry.

Patreon backer Jason Thompson summons us to the Cartography Hut to express disbelief in the non-existence of maps in the Hellenistic era.

In How to Write Good we dig deep into word clusters and ways to eliminate them.

Then we slip into the Eliptony Hut as backer Stephen Brandon demands rampant speculation on the case of the disappearing airman.

Want to pose a question to the show? Get your priority question asking access with your support for the KARTAS Patreon!

Snag Ken and Robin merchandise at TeePublic.


A precious few Deluxe copies of  Cogs and Commissars, clever card game of are available directly from Atlas Games.  The “Most-Equal ‘Apparatchik’ Edition” features wooden screen-printed Citizen tokens, neoprene mats for each faction leader, and a foil-stamped, spot-gloss, magnetic-closure box. Seize the means of collectibility!

Ken’s latest roleplaying game, The Fall of Delta Green, is now available in print or PDF or both from Pelgrane Press. Journey to the head-spinning chaos of the late 1960s, back when everyone’s favorite anti-Cthulhu special ops agency hadn’t gone rogue yet, for this pulse-pounding GUMSHOE game of war, covert action, and Mythos horror.

Grab the translated riches of FENIX magazine in a special bundle deal from our friends at Askfageln, over at Indie Press Revolution. Score metric oodles of Ken Hite gaming goodness, a cornucopia of articles, complete games, plus the cartoon antics of Bernard the Barbarian. Warning: in English, not in Swedish. In English, not Swedish.

Just in time to save the world, though perhaps not your team of hardened covert agents, from the Mythos, the Delta Green Handlers Guide from Arc Dream Publishing is now in print and either at or headed to a game store near you. The slipcase print edition includes both the Handlers’ Guide and Agents’ Handbook, fitting snugly into your go bag along with your extra passports and list of weapons caches.

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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Ghoul Thieves, Black Horror and Joseph Kennedy

February 12th, 2019 | Robin

Ken and Robin Consume Media is brought to you by the discriminating and good-looking backers of the Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff Patreon. Each week we provide capsule reviews of the books, movies, TV seasons and more we cram into our hyper-analytical sensoriums. Join the Patreon to help pick the items we’ll talk about in greater depth on a little podcast segment we like to call Tell Me More.

Recommended

Chappaquiddick (Film, US, John Curran, 2018) Cowardly weasel Ted Kennedy (Jason Clarke) allows his family fixers to save his political future following his negligent homicide of Mary Jo Kopechne (Kate Mara). Ordinarily a film with a weakling protagonist goes slack, but this one motors on thanks to the just-the-facts script by Taylor Allen and Andrew Logan. Also crucial: strong turns from foil Joe Gargan (Ed Helms) and gothic monster Joseph Kennedy (Bruce Dern), and most of all Clarke’s puffy, inverted Hamlet. –KH

Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror (Film, US, Xavier Burgin, 2019) Documentary surveys the depiction of the African-Americans in cinematic horror, culminating in Get Out and starting with the terrors in Birth of a Nation. Aptly for a piece so centered around questions of observing and being observed, the interviews are mostly staged with subjects sitting in cinema chairs, often together, discussing what they’re seeing up on the big screen. Interviewees include Robin Means Coleman, author of the namesake book it adapts.—RDL

The Gutter Prayer (Fiction, Gareth Hanrahan, 2019) A heist gone wrong thrusts a ghoul, a petrifying man and a young woman too tied to the gods into sweeping events in a fantastical industrial city. Throws a lot of balls into the air and deftly keeps them there as it inverts the standard Arthurian myth-pattern into a tale of escape from destiny. Gar of course is a boon friend and longtime collaborator, making this a plug and not a review. Though if I hadn’t found it Recommendation-worthy I wouldn’t be telling you or him about that.—RDL

John Mulaney: New in Town (Stand-up, John Mulaney, 2012) Back when we unknowingly loved John Mulaney for Stefon alone, the self-proclaimed “grown child” remained grateful for a lack of quicksand and eager to play with vocal intonations, a technique probably best abandoned now but still pretty funny. As he says about some “good-natured light anti-Semitism” in the show, “Go ahead and laugh, I’m the one who will get in trouble.” –KH

Merrily We Go to Hell (Film, US, Dorothy Arzner, 1932) Sheltered heiress (Sylvia Sidney) falls hard for charming drunk newspaper columnist (Fredric March). Swank-set melodrama offers an unsparing portrait of codependence, half a century before anyone used that word.—RDL

Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (Film, US, Morgan Neville, 2018) Documentary profile of pioneering children’s television creator Fred Rogers zeroes in on the fundamental seriousness underlying his work. Radical empathy, it turns out, requires a steely core. I’m a Mr. Dressup man myself, so if you want to get me all verklempt, make an Ernie Coombs documentary.—RDL

Good

Three Identical Strangers (Film, UK, Tim Wardle, 2018) Three young men accidentally discover that they are triplets, separated by their adoption agency, leading at first to NYC tabloid celeb status, then to revelations of experimental malfeasance. Formally straightforward documentary uncovers the dark scandal behind a once-seeming feel-good story.—RDL

You Were Never Really Here (Film, US/UK, Lynne Ramsay, 2018) Scarred, brooding killer Joe (Joaquin Phoenix) suffers from PTSD and suicidal ideations in between murdering pedophile brothel keepers with a hammer. Phoenix inhabits the part, and Jonny Greenwood’s score is another triumph, but Ramsay confuses art-house oblique for original or interesting in this cut-space between Taxi Driver and Sin City. –KH

Okay

Apostle (Film, UK, Gareth Evans, 2018) His faith replaced with opium after torture during the Boxer Rebellion, lapsed missionary Thomas (Dan Stevens) travels incognito to the remote island run by cult leader Malcolm (Michael Sheen) to rescue his kidnapped sister. This overcrowded, dank riff on The Wicker Man spends its first two acts building atmosphere and frittering away narrative urgency and its last act bloodily expiating its first two acts. –KH

The Man Who Cheated Himself (Film, US, Felix E. Feist, 1950) When his rich lover (Jane Wyatt) guns down her husband, a gruff homicide lieutenant (Lee J. Cobb) covers it up, then works the case, with his overly keen new partner, who is also his kid brother. Workmanlike direction focuses on plot over theme or mood, but does summon up some noir atmosphere for the climactic sequence, staged at Fort Point, San Francisco.—RDL

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Episode 330: The Crocodiles are Strictly Notional

February 8th, 2019 | Robin

We find a new disruptive way to travel to the Gaming Hut as we consider scenarios inspired by scooter charger culture.

In the Conspiracy Corner we ask if journalists and police could do with some basic conspirology literacy training.

Patreon backer Jeff Cannell summons us to the Horror Hut to ask if vampires who have turned into mist can be seen in mirrors.

Then we send Ken’s Time Machine to see what would happen if Aldous Huxley had succeeded in funding the psychedelic research organization he and a pair of medical scientists tried to launch in the 1950s.

Want to pose a question to the show? Get your priority question asking access with your support for the KARTAS Patreon!

Snag Ken and Robin merchandise at TeePublic.


A precious few Deluxe copies of  Cogs and Commissars, clever card game of are available directly from Atlas Games.  The “Most-Equal ‘Apparatchik’ Edition” features wooden screen-printed Citizen tokens, neoprene mats for each faction leader, and a foil-stamped, spot-gloss, magnetic-closure box. Seize the means of collectibility!

Ken’s latest roleplaying game, The Fall of Delta Green, is now available in print or PDF or both from Pelgrane Press. Journey to the head-spinning chaos of the late 1960s, back when everyone’s favorite anti-Cthulhu special ops agency hadn’t gone rogue yet, for this pulse-pounding GUMSHOE game of war, covert action, and Mythos horror.

Grab the translated riches of FENIX magazine in a special bundle deal from our friends at Askfageln, over at Indie Press Revolution. Score metric oodles of Ken Hite gaming goodness, a cornucopia of articles, complete games, plus the cartoon antics of Bernard the Barbarian. Warning: in English, not in Swedish. In English, not Swedish.

Just in time to save the world, though perhaps not your team of hardened covert agents, from the Mythos, the Delta Green Handlers Guide from Arc Dream Publishing is now in print and either at or headed to a game store near you. The slipcase print edition includes both the Handlers’ Guide and Agents’ Handbook, fitting snugly into your go bag along with your extra passports and list of weapons caches.

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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Lee, Jenkins, Mulaney, and Joaquin Phoenix with a Ball-Peen Hammer

February 5th, 2019 | Robin

Ken and Robin Consume Media is brought to you by the discriminating and good-looking backers of the Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff Patreon. Each week we provide capsule reviews of the books, movies, TV seasons and more we cram into our hyper-analytical sensoriums. Join the Patreon to help pick the items we’ll talk about in greater depth on a little podcast segment we like to call Tell Me More.

Recommended

BlacKkKlansman (Film, US, Spike Lee, 2018) While still a rookie, the first black police officer in Colorado Springs (John David Washington)  picks up the phone to initiate an investigation into a local KKK chapter, enlisting a colleague (Adam Driver) to adopt his persona for face-to-face encounters. Lee harnesses the pleasures and forward-moving structure of the undercover cop film to the essay style he previously explored in the underrated Bamboozled.—RDL

If Beale Street Could Talk (Film, US, Barry Jenkins, 2018) Young woman in 70s Harlem (Kiki Layne) discovers she is pregnant as she tries to get her man (Stephan James) exonerated on a false rape charge. Measured, reverent adaptation of a James Baldwin novel focuses on the suffocating pressure of lives lived under omnipresent oppression.—RDL

John Mulaney: Kid Gorgeous at Radio City (Stand-up, John Mulaney, 2018) The man who made self-effacing Midwestern-ness funny again, John Mulaney kills in a series of beautifully constructed, dizzyingly cantilevered metaphors and sketches from a horse in a hospital to the uselessness of college (“a hundred … and twenty … thousand … dollars”) to the immortal “Street Smarts” stranger-danger lectures of the Chicago PD’s own J.J. Bittenbinder. Architecturally laughing at crime, that’s the Chicago way. –KH

You Were Never Really Here (Film, US/UK, Lynne Ramsay, 2018) Suicidal skullcracker (Joaquin Phoenix) faces deadly blowback when he accepts an assignment to rescue a politician’s underage daughter from a brothel. Arthouse take on the urban avenger genre featuring an intense performance from Phoenix and subjective visuals from an unreliable point of view.—RDL

Good

Glass (Film, US, M. Night Shyamalan, 2019) Mastermind Mr. Glass (Samuel L. Jackson) orchestrates the showdown between David Dunn (Bruce Willis) and the Horde (James McAvoy). Unifying the casts and storylines of his two most recent successes, Unbreakable and Split, Shyamalan turns his gift for gorgeous lensing and piebald scripting to lo-fi superheroics. We were never going to get a Marvel super-fight on a Blumhouse budget, but so much of the buildup works that — as usual for MNS — it would have been nice if someone had thought all the way through the ending. –KH

Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi (Film, India, Radha Krishna Jagarlamudi and Kangana Ranaut, 2019) Hagiographic biopic of Rani Laxmibai (a fierce Kangana Ranaut) and her heroic fight against the hated British delivers as patriotism and spectacle, although the whole CGI budget got blown on a tiger leaving very little for artillery barrages. But with little complexity in characterization, script, or direction, it stops there. –KH

Okay

City of the Dead (Film, UK, John Llewellyn Moxey, 1960) Prompted by her professor (Christopher Lee), an inquisitive history major (Venetia Stevenson) investigates witch lore in an isolated Massachusetts town. This offbeat British production set in gothic America offers dynamic direction but blows its protagonist switch by subbing in a way less engaging second lead. AKA Horror Hotel. —RDL

Ocean’s 8 (Film, US, Gary Ross, 2018) Paroled convict Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) assembles a team of charming criminal specialists to execute a jewel heist at the Met Gala. The casting is the best part of this flat franchise extension, showing how much of the Clooney/Pitt trilogy’s buoyancy depended on Steven Soderbergh’s ineffable stylistic verve.—RDL

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Episode 329: The Looming Party

February 1st, 2019 | Robin

The Gaming Hut goes retro goth cartoony as Patreon backer Arthur invites us to envision an Edward Gorey RPG.

In the Crime Blotter we look at Los Caballeros Templarios, the drug cartel that borrows the branding of the Knights Templar.

The Cinema Hut finds us mulling historical inaccuracy in movies. When do we roll with it, and when do we bust out the well actuallys?

Finally, at the behest of backer Wayne Rossi, we turn to the Consulting Occultist for the mystical skinny on Carlos Castaneda.

Want to pose a question to the show? Get your priority question asking access with your support for the KARTAS Patreon!

Snag Ken and Robin merchandise at TeePublic.


Wish to introduce innocent children to the horror of the Mythos, while remaining on budget? Atlas Games is here to affordably twist young minds with a buy two, get one free deal on Ken’s Mini Mythos line of childrens’ book parodies: Where the Deep Ones Are, Goodnight Azathoth, Cliffourd the Big Red God, and Antarctic Express.

Ken’s latest roleplaying game, The Fall of Delta Green, is now available in print or PDF or both from Pelgrane Press. Journey to the head-spinning chaos of the late 1960s, back when everyone’s favorite anti-Cthulhu special ops agency hadn’t gone rogue yet, for this pulse-pounding GUMSHOE game of war, covert action, and Mythos horror.

Grab the translated riches of FENIX magazine in a special bundle deal from our friends at Askfageln, over at Indie Press Revolution. Score metric oodles of Ken Hite gaming goodness, a cornucopia of articles, complete games, plus the cartoon antics of Bernard the Barbarian. Warning: in English, not in Swedish. In English, not Swedish.

Just in time to save the world, though perhaps not your team of hardened covert agents, from the Mythos, the Delta Green Handlers Guide from Arc Dream Publishing is now in print and either at or headed to a game store near you. The slipcase print edition includes both the Handlers’ Guide and Agents’ Handbook, fitting snugly into your go bag along with your extra passports and list of weapons caches.

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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Robert Redford Then and Now

January 29th, 2019 | Robin

Ken and Robin Consume Media is brought to you by the discriminating and good-looking backers of the Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff Patreon. Each week we provide capsule reviews of the books, movies, TV seasons and more we cram into our hyper-analytical sensoriums. Join the Patreon to help pick the items we’ll talk about in greater depth on a little podcast segment we like to call Tell Me More.

The Pinnacle

Cold War (Film, Poland/France/UK, Pawel Pawlikowsky, 2018) Communism and insecurity endanger and deform the love between pianist Wiktor (Tomasz Kot) and singer-dancer Zula (Joanna Kulig), as well as the rest of art, music, and humanity. Lukasz Zal’s transcendent black-and-white cinematography and a cascade of period and source music carry us around Europe from 1949 to 1964, invoking without aping the Golden Age of film romance. Kot has trouble breaching Wiktor’s ironic distance, but Joanna Kulig should be a global star after this. –KH

Downhill Racer (Film, US, Michael Ritchie, 1969) Skier ruled by his ambitions (Robert Redford) pursues Olympic glory, as his tough coach (Gene Hackman) strives to keep his ego in check. Brilliant exponent of the American New Wave with thrilling skiing sequences, stunning photography, laconic script and verite editing style.—RDL

John Mulaney: The Comeback Kid (Stand-up, John Mulaney, 2015) Live at the Chicago Theater, Mulaney demonstrates the power of just the right word (“a rich man’s game of dice and small binoculars”) combined with years-in-the-making perfect timing. And call-backs. And character bits. And politics and observational humor and wife and parents and dog and all the other things you think can never be truly funny again until oh yeah a genius does them. –KH

Recommended

Burning (Film, South Korea, Lee Chang-Dong, 2018) Rusticating, unemployed shlemiel Jongsu (Yoon Ahin) meets cute Haemi (Jeon Jongseo) who claims he called her ugly as a child — after they hook up, he meets her rich playboy friend (lover?) Ben (Steven Yuen) who claims he burns greenhouses. Lee spends the next two-plus hours gradually simmering unease and uncertainty from these ingredients, Mowg’s mosquito-jazz score, and Murakami’s short story “Burning Barns.” Yuen conveys menace with offhand affability better than anyone since George Sanders. –KH

Struggle: The Life and Lost Art of Szukalski (Film, US, Ireneusz Dobrowolski, 2018) Documenting the art and eliptonic theories of their late, eccentric friend Stanislaw Szukalski, a group of comix scene fixtures uncovers more than they bargained for. Touches lightly on Szukalski’s crank counter-history, as covered in KARTAS 179, while mostly focusing on his personality and the puzzle of his place in art history.—RDL

Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (Film, US, Morgan Neville, 2018) Mostly amazed by, and somewhat interested in, Fred Rogers’ legendary commitment to love and caring about children as people, Neville’s catholic retrospective becomes the equivalent of a documentary on how great butter is on bread. But oh my God have you had butter on bread? It’s great! –KH

Good

American Gods Season 1 (Television US, Bryan Fuller and Michael Green) Released convict Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle) is swept along on a bizarre road trip by his garrulous, raven-assisted new employer (Ian McShane.) Applies the lush, hypnotic style of Fuller’s  “Hannibal” to the mythic riffing of Neil Gaiman’s novel, with a leisurely pace that uses the entire first season as set-up.—RDL

The Old Man & the Gun (Film, US, David Lowery, 2018) Even in his golden years, specifically 1981, bank robber Forrest Tucker (Robert Redford) just can’t seem to stop robbing banks despite the horsey allure of widow Sissy Spacek and a dogged pursuit by cop Casey Affleck, both kind of wasted as foils. The very 70s-film vibe resonates down to the pre-faded palette on 16mm, and in the intentional avoidance of any moment that might be action. Occurring in the negative space around about five hundred crime films and Westerns, it’s mostly redeemed by Redford’s charm and Lowery’s man crush on those movies and their star of stars. –KH

Okay

No Questions Asked (Film, US, 1951) Jilted lawyer (Barry Sullivan) develops a lucrative business as middleman between insurance companies and robbers, until he gets mixed up in a case involving cross-dressing stick-up artists. Comes to life in spots but isn’t as much lurid fun as the previous sentence indicates. You know the hero’s a chump because he prefers Arlene Dahl to Jean Hagen.—RDL

Not Recommended

Moon Child (Film, Spain, Agustí Villaronga, 1989) Telekinetic orphan is adopted by a pseudoscientific cult, discovering their murderous plot to birth a magical being. Lays down an odd but kind of interesting stylized vibe, with acting technique straight out of Dreyer’s Vampyr—until the third act, when the characters journey to Africa and the price of adapting an Aleister Crowley novel comes due.—RDL

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Episode 328: That Doesn’t Sound Like Y’golonac

January 25th, 2019 | Robin



Get ready for a tear gassing as the Gaming Hut finds us riffing a Fall of Delta Green scenario set during the 1968 Democratic convention.

Ken and/or Robin Talk to Someone Else features a chat with app maker Steven Hammond, whose work has helped you run Feng Shui fights, plot Beating the Story narrative arcs, and create GUMSHOE characters.

The Tradecraft Hut answers a Miscellaneous Musings request for a look at 43 Group.

Finally in we have Fun With Science as Patreon backer Chris Sellers asks for the Mythos implications of a certain black hole beaming black hole beams at us.

Want to pose a question to the show? Get your priority question asking access with your support for the KARTAS Patreon!

Snag Ken and Robin merchandise at TeePublic.


Wish to introduce innocent children to the horror of the Mythos, while remaining on budget? Atlas Games is here to affordably twist young minds with a buy two, get one free deal on Ken’s Mini Mythos line of childrens’ book parodies: Where the Deep Ones Are, Goodnight Azathoth, Cliffourd the Big Red God, and Antarctic Express.

Ken’s latest roleplaying game, The Fall of Delta Green, is now available in print or PDF or both from Pelgrane Press. Journey to the head-spinning chaos of the late 1960s, back when everyone’s favorite anti-Cthulhu special ops agency hadn’t gone rogue yet, for this pulse-pounding GUMSHOE game of war, covert action, and Mythos horror.

Grab the translated riches of FENIX magazine in a special bundle deal from our friends at Askfageln, over at Indie Press Revolution. Score metric oodles of Ken Hite gaming goodness, a cornucopia of articles, complete games, plus the cartoon antics of Bernard the Barbarian. Warning: in English, not in Swedish. In English, not Swedish.

Just in time to save the world, though perhaps not your team of hardened covert agents, from the Mythos, the Delta Green Handlers Guide from Arc Dream Publishing is now in print and either at or headed to a game store near you. The slipcase print edition includes both the Handlers’ Guide and Agents’ Handbook, fitting snugly into your go bag along with your extra passports and list of weapons caches.

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Ken and Robin Consume Media: The Joker, the Riddler, and a Murdered Film

January 22nd, 2019 | Robin

Ken and Robin Consume Media is brought to you by the discriminating and good-looking backers of the Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff Patreon. Each week we provide capsule reviews of the books, movies, TV seasons and more we cram into our hyper-analytical sensoriums. Join the Patreon to help pick the items we’ll talk about in greater depth on a little podcast segment we like to call Tell Me More.

Recommended

Batman: The War of Jokes and Riddles (Comics, Tom King & Mikel Janín, 2017) Batman recounts the story of the Joker-Riddler war in his Year Two. King takes a lot of good ideas from other writers and makes them his own in this story that manages to squeeze a proper epic into eight issues. Janín’s layouts are the secret weapon here, folding up and flying where needed. Kite Man! Hell yeah! –KH

Injection Vols. 1-3 (Comics, Warren Ellis & Declan Shalvey, 2015-2017) Five archetypal heroes (Ellis’ 21st-century riffs on Quatermass, Carnacki, Sherlock Holmes, James Bond, and Doctor Who) injected a sentient AI into the internet to stave off global stagnation — and must now deal with the consequences when it awakens the Other World. This “hauntological Planetary” is Ellis’ home turf, and although not revolutionary, the book is cruelly and wondrously crafted. Ellis broke the story to be five volumes, but the 60% we have is good stuff. –KH

Heaven Cracks, Earth Shakes (Nonfiction, James Palmer, 2012) Examines the interlocking narratives of  the cataclysms that rocked China in 1976: the Tangshan earthquake that killed upwards of 250,000, and the death of Mao, followed by the maneuverings that brought down the Gang of Four and elevated Deng Xiaoping. Teases a complex and deliberately obscured story into a rattling narrative with thriller-worthy pacing.—RDL

Love in a Cold Climate (Fiction, Nancy Mitford, 1949) Even-keeled young woman observes the conflict between her preternaturally beautiful cousin and her mother, a blue-blooded battle-axe determined to marry her off despite her strange indifference to all suitable suitors. Somehow I failed to receive the memo on just how hilarious this classic satire of the English upper crust is.—RDL

Shirkers (Film, US, Sandi Tan, 2018) Documentary recalls the time when the filmmaker and her friends, as college-bound teens in Singapore, made a hip indie road movie, only to have their skeevy mentor abscond with the negatives. Moody memoir of stolen potential and the mark left on multiple lives by a scammer whose one talent was creating the appearance of talent.—RDL

Good

Aquaman (Film, US, James Wan, 2018) Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) must find the Trident of Atlan to claim the throne of Atlantis from his eco-warmongering half-brother Orm (Patrick Wilson); fortunately, Princess Mera (Amber Heard) likes him enough to help out. This is a by-God big-screen Silver Age spectacular in every way, including a travelogue plot and dialogue straight out of a Jack Miller word balloon. Kudos to Wan and to editor Kirk Morri for building momentum throughout, so the slack water mostly stays in the first act. Recommended for fans of Lovecraft references, Amber Heard, and CGI dino-sharks. –KH

Batman (Rebirth) Vols. 1-3 (Comics, Tom King & divers artists, 2016-2017) When Bane breaks Batman’s new proteges, Batman breaks Bane back, and Bane seeks revenge. King’s high concepts for the book echo well, but his pacing is stop-and-start. The result: story beats that get spelled out in dialogue boxes and balloons rather than depicted in, well, sequential art. (The art, by the way, is uniformly very good.) When King does try to write more panels-per-page, the results are worth it, in the two one-off stories (of Swamp Thing and Ace the Bathound) that end Vol. 3. –KH

Battles Without Honor or Humanity: Police Tactics (Film, Japan, Kinji Fukasaku, 1974) As the Tokyo Olympics approaches, the deadlocks of Hiroshima yakuza politics break open into open warfare, forcing a police response. Satire creeps into the long-running crime docudrama series, as the death spiral of the post-war crime families exposes its top gangsters as a gaggle of fuckwits and weasels.—RDL

Blockers (Film, US, Kay Cannon, 2018) Discovering that their daughters plan to lose their virginity on prom night, three variously boundary-challenged parents (Leslie Mann, John Cena, Ike Barinholtz) set out to stop them. Amiable comedy from the Apatow school follows its reliable juxtaposition of raunchy hijinks with grounded characterization.—RDL

The Devil’s Doorway (US, Film, Anthony Mann, 1950) Shoshone sergeant major (Robert Taylor) returns from fighting for the Union to his Wyoming ranch, to find a tubercular Eastern lawyer (Louis Calhern) scheming to give it away to sheep ranchers. Anyone remaking this today would cast a native actor in the lead and trim the more didactic flights of dialogue. Still, for 1950 it’s surprising to see a film that makes settlers the marauding antagonists and paints the would-be white savior as ineffectual. Mann’s direction, with its below the waist angles and chiaroscuro lighting, outperforms the script. —RDL

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Episode 327: Good Luck Getting Any Wood

January 18th, 2019 | Robin

In the Gaming Hut we examine the desire to play less than competent characters.

The History Hut takes us back to the 7th century BC and the reign of Assyrian super-king Ashurbanipal.

In How to Write Good we look at the connection between character sympathy and emotional rhythm.

Finally we sidle into the Eliptony Hut, where we peer into the library of unexpected paranormalist Jackie Gleason.

Want to pose a question to the show? Get your priority question asking access with your support for the KARTAS Patreon!

Snag Ken and Robin merchandise at TeePublic.


Wish to introduce innocent children to the horror of the Mythos, while remaining on budget? Atlas Games is here to affordably twist young minds with a buy two, get one free deal on Ken’s Mini Mythos line of childrens’ book parodies: Where the Deep Ones Are, Goodnight Azathoth, Cliffourd the Big Red God, and Antarctic Express.

Ken’s latest roleplaying game, The Fall of Delta Green, is now available in print or PDF or both from Pelgrane Press. Journey to the head-spinning chaos of the late 1960s, back when everyone’s favorite anti-Cthulhu special ops agency hadn’t gone rogue yet, for this pulse-pounding GUMSHOE game of war, covert action, and Mythos horror.

Grab the translated riches of FENIX magazine in a special bundle deal from our friends at Askfageln, over at Indie Press Revolution. Score metric oodles of Ken Hite gaming goodness, a cornucopia of articles, complete games, plus the cartoon antics of Bernard the Barbarian. Warning: in English, not in Swedish. In English, not Swedish.

Just in time to save the world, though perhaps not your team of hardened covert agents, from the Mythos, the Delta Green Handlers Guide from Arc Dream Publishing is now in print and either at or headed to a game store near you. The slipcase print edition includes both the Handlers’ Guide and Agents’ Handbook, fitting snugly into your go bag along with your extra passports and list of weapons caches.

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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Greek Gods Diffuse and the Count de St-Germain Parties

January 15th, 2019 | Robin

 

Ken and Robin Consume Media is brought to you by the discriminating and good-looking backers of the Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff Patreon. Each week we provide capsule reviews of the books, movies, TV seasons and more we cram into our hyper-analytical sensoriums. Join the Patreon to help pick the items we’ll talk about in greater depth on a little podcast segment we like to call Tell Me More.

Recommended

Greek Gods Abroad (Nonfiction, Robert Parker, 2017) After Alexander’s conquests, the Hellenistic kings and colonists outside historic Greece brought the Olympian gods to their new domains — or did they? Parker masterfully looks at what (surprisingly little) we know of blended (or interpreted) Olympian-local deities as well as the way the Greek gods shifted their roles following contact with Egypt, Anatolia, and the East. Parker ranges from polytheistic theology to Arabian epigraphy and back; I bought the book for reference and wound up reading it cover to cover. –KH

Hearts Beat Loud (Film, US, Brett Haley, 2018) With her sights firmly set on pre-med at UCLA, a charmingly dyspeptic Brooklyn record store owner (Nick Offerman) inveigles his talented daughter (Kiersey Clemons) into making music with him. Sweet-natured observational comedy-drama buoyed by affection for its characters and a commitment to the real.—RDL

The Little Drummer Girl (Television, UK/US, BBC/AMC, Park Chan-wook, 2018) Israeli spymaster (Michael Shannon) and agent runner (Alexander Skarsgard) recruit a young British actress to infiltrate a Palestinian terrorist network. Park retunes his style to (mostly) subtle, returning to his signature theme of cyclical vengeance, for this strongly cast and acted Le Carré adaptation. Best 70s color palette ever.—RDL

The Night Comes For Us (Film, Indonesia, Timo Tjahjanto, 2018) Triad enforcer Ito (Joe “The Raid” Taslim) saves a little girl and brings down the ultra-violent wrath of the Triad including his old friend Arian (Iko “Merantau” Uwais). Great fight choreography and tight editing build to a battle of the action stars that has to be seen to be believed. Alternating stunningly beautiful compositions with shatteringly violent fight scenes, this would hit the Pinnacle if the story hung together better. –KH

Rumbullion (Fiction, Molly Tanzer, 2016) When the Count of St.-Germain performs at Julian Bretwynde’s house party in 1743, things get decidedly uncanny. This novella (originally published in 2013) follows Bretwynde’s epistolary attempt to figure out what happened at his own party. (Tanzer’s logline for it is “Rashomon with fops.”) Its weird tone precisely threads the line between funny ha-ha and funny-strange. –KH

Okay

Aberdeen (Film, HK, Pang Ho-cheung, 2014) Members of an extended family, including a surface-minded motivational speaker (Louis Koo), his philandering brother-in-law (Erik Tsang) and his struggling actress wife (Gigi Leung) grapple in their various ways with the limitations of fate. Atmospheric ensemble piece lets itself down with a decidedly peculiar set of concluding epiphanies.—RDL

Aldous Huxley’s Hands: His Quest for Perception and the Origin and Return of Psychedelic Science (Nonfiction, Allene Symons, 2015) Examination of the eliptonic interests of Aldous Huxley and his circle, including hand photography experiments conducted by the author’s father to establish a physical marker for schizophrenia in an era of doctrinaire Freudianism. In a case of two books continually interrupting one another, the short bio of Huxley through a KARTASian lens pays off, while the attempt to understand an opaque, eccentric parent struggles to yield the hoped-for epiphany.—RDL

Rulers of the City (Film, Italy, Fernando Di Leo, 1977) Cocky gangland debt collector and an enigmatic gambler become hunted men after swindling a scary mobster (Jack Palance.) Haphazardly switches back and forth between the director’s baseline fatalistic crime drama and goofball action romp. AKA Mister Scarface.—RDL

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