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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Spies, Zombies and Financial Criminals

June 25th, 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

Black Edge: Inside Information, Dirty Money, and the Quest to Bring Down the Most Wanted Man on Wall Street (Nonfiction, Sheelah Kolhatkar, 2017) FBI and SEC investigators pursue an insider trading case against obsessive hedge fund mogul, whose company structure seems engineered for endemic hanky-panky. Riveting legal/financial procedural where the crime scenes are email servers.—RDL

Craig’s Wife (Film, US, Dorothy Arzner, 1936) Compulsively controlling woman (Rosalind Russell) tips her besotted husband (John Boles) to her subtly abusive behavior after he becomes a tangential witness in a criminal case. Arzner’s flair for incisive observation of unconventional characters animates this family melodrama, which if remade today would psychologize the heroine’s tragic flaw.—RDL

The Dead Don’t Die (Film, US, Jim Jarmusch, 2019) When the dead rise in Pennsylvania, the Centerville Police Department (Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Chloe Sevigny) cannot hold. Jarmusch takes a rare turn into nihilism with this deliberately down-beat, beautiful comedy; to see him produce rhythm and signifiers without meaning is scarier than anything in the film itself. –KH

Killing Eve Season 2 (Television, UK, Emerald Fennell, 2019) Villanelle’s new freelance gig leads her to an espionage-op team up with crush object Eve, but you can’t take the murder out of the murdergirl. The series premise clarifies itself from cat-and-mouse to Silence of the Lambs minus horror plus spies, romance and fashion. Though cheerfully upfront about its idiot plotting, sticklers on that front may downgrade it a notch or two.—RDL

The Little Drummer Girl (Television, UK, BBC, Park Chan-Wook, 2018) Recruited by Mossad in the person of handler Gadi (Alexander Skarsgård), English actress Charlie (Florence Pugh) rewrites her past and infiltrates a Palestinian terrorist cell in 1979 Europe. Weird core story about the fluidity of personhood peeks out of this Le Carré spy policier (espionier?) but the real stars are Michael Shannon’s blustery spymaster Kurtz and Park’s Seventies-adoring location scout. –KH

The Problem of the Green Capsule (Fiction, John Dickson Carr, 1939) Dr. Fell and Inspector Elliott grapple with a poisoning, one deliberately filmed by the victim. All Carr’s gifts for plot, puzzle, and creepy atmosphere connect here; the only thing missing is a locked room.–KH

Good

Through the Stars By Hard Ways (Film, Russia, Richard and Nikolay Viktorov, 1981) After an experimental sojourn on Earth with a host family of scientists, an orphaned alien artificial human (Yelena Metyolkina) accompanies an interstellar rescue mission. Often eerie, occasionally goofy adaptation of a Kir Bulychev story affords the chance to see stock space opera elements filtered through the distinct and now-vanished aesthetic of Soviet SF. AKA Through the Thorns to the Stars, Per Aspera Ad Astra, or Humanoid Woman.—RDL

WTF

The Apple (Film, US/West Germany, Menahem Golan, 1980) In the dystopic future of 1994, where Canadians enter the Eurovision Song Contest, a Mephistophelean empresario lures the female half of a romantic singing duo into decadent stardom. Rock musical passion project from the producer of Cobra, Cyborg and The Delta Force takes as its seeming thesis that Rocky Horror should have been three times gayer yet also a painfully sincere Biblical allegory. Legendary cult film, staged with the utter confidence in gobsmackingly awful material that comes only from owning a mini-studio.—RDL

Not Recommended

Jessica Jones Season 3 (Television, US, Melissa Rosenberg, 2019) As Jessica (Kristen Ritter) runs afoul of a serial killer (Jeremy Bobb), Patsy (Rachael Taylor) completes her transformation into a violent masked vigilante. Rife with skewed emotional logic, the show’s final season–at Netflix, anyway–curdles into sourness and cruelty.—RDL

Wine Country (Film, US, Amy Poehler, 2019) A troupe of longtime pals (Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Ana Gasteyer, Rachel Dratch, Paula Pell & Emily Spivey) descends on Napa Valley to celebrate a 50th birthday and renew old bonds. Cast of killer SNL alums struggle to energize a script without a compelling comic premise or much in the way of jokes.—RDL

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Episode 349: Bad Odds in a Balloon

June 21st, 2019 | Robin

In the Gaming Hut Patreon backer Ethan Schoonover asks us to explain the bespoke game terms we use, from F20 to GMC. Mikko Airaksinen puts a chill in the History Hut with his request for the esoteric scoop behind the Swedish North Pole Expedition of 1897. Our epic spate of Ken and Robin Recycle Audio excerpts from Carcosa Con concludes with a look at Robin’s build-out of the Chambers mythos into The Yellow King Roleplaying Game. Finally backer Chris Kalley, seconded by Jay Tea, asks the Consulting Occultist to blow the lid off magical Buenos Aires. 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.
Over the Edge, the twisted game of counter-culture conspiracy, returns in a completely remagined edition by its original creator, Jonathan Tweet. Grab it wherever fine Atlas Games are sold, on June 1st.
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.
The treasures of Askfageln can be found at DriveThruRPG. Get all issues of FENIX since 2013 available in special English editions. Score metric oodles of Ken Hite gaming goodness, along with equally stellar pieces by Graeme Davis and Pete Nash. Warning: in English, not in Swedish. In English, not Swedish. While you’re at it, grab DICE and Freeway Warrior!
Arc Dream Publishing presents a gorgeous new edition of Robert W. Chambers’ The King in Yellow, a deluxe hardback in delightful faux snakeskin, with a foreword by John Scott Tynes, annotations by our own Kenneth Hite, and stunning full-pate color  illustrations by Samuel Araya. Grab it while it lasts in the Arc Dream store.
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Ken and Robin Consume Media: The Critics are Wrong About The Dead Don’t Die, Which is Why You Rely On Us

June 18th, 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

The Dead Don’t Die (Film, US, Jim Jarmusch, 2019) Small town cops (Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Chloe Sevigny) try to keep it together when polar fracking unleashes a global zombie epidemic. In the future, if we have one, this deceptively ramshackle zom-com will be recognized as an essential document of the first-stage Trump era.—RDL

Recommended

Barry Season 2 (Television, US, HBO, Alec Berg and Bill Hader, 2019) Assassin-turned-acting student (Hader) tries to cleave to the latter and forget the former, but his ex-partner (Stephen Root) and gregarious Chechen client (Anthony Carrigan) have other ideas. As second seasons that live up to a great debut grow rarer, this drives deeper  into bananastown while still maintaining its balance between laughs and moral horror.—RDL

Bolshoi Babylon (Film, UK, Nick Read, 2015) Documentary goes behind the scenes at Russia’s mythically central Bolshoi Ballet Theater in the aftermath of an incident in which one of its dancers ordered an acid attack on its artistic director. It sounds odd to say this about a documentary, but this does a lot of early, methodical worldbuilding to contextualize its fly-on-the-wall institutional power struggle.—RDL

Justified Season 1 (Television, US, FX, Graham Yost, 2010) Deputy US Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) receives an unwelcome transfer to his Kentucky stomping grounds, where he navigates between his ex-wife (Natalie Zea) and a witness he shouldn’t be sleeping with (Joelle Carter) and contends with the hillbilly mafia. Police procedural partners up with the contemporary western, with fine black hattery from Walton Goggins and M. C. Gainey.—RDL

Salt Fat Acid Heat (Television, Netflix, Samin Nosrat, 2018) Chef Nosrat travels the world explicating the four core concepts of cooking, generally with two or three dishes cooked in between excitement at a salt pan or olive grove. Nosrat’s educitement is infectious, and there’s nothing more deeply lush than food documentary vegetable photography. Also, she’s right about the salt, people. –KH

Good

Gonza the Spearman (Film, Japan, Masahiro Shinoda, 1985)  In an era where years of internal peace have tightened the social constraints on samurai, a marriage negotiation gone awry brings dishonor and doom to a rising court attendant and the wife of his mentor. Stately adaptation of a 17th century kabuki drama is your reference point if you’re looking for a clear cinematic explication of the tea ceremony in its political context. Suffers from a notably egregious case of that longstanding bane of the samurai genre, Unconvincing Bald Cap Syndrome.—RDL

Roughly Speaking (Film, US, Michael Curtiz, 1945) Determined New Englander (Rosalind Russell), her brood of kids and her ex-pilot second husband (Jack Carson) push through the wild ups and downs of early 20th century American life. Curtiz’s mastery of momentum finds a cohesion few other directors would manage in this episodic memoir adaptation.—RDL

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Episode 348: Marsupial Valley

June 14th, 2019 | Robin

The Gaming Hut manifests somewhere between Balla Balla and Yagga Yagga as Patreon backer Bill Cohen asks us how to lure RPG characters to adventure in Australia.

The Crime Blotter profiles Dai Cathay, the young Number One of the mid-sixties Saigon underworld.

Ken and Robin Recycle Audio with a panel excerpt from Carcosa Con covering post-Lovecraftian additions to the King in Yellow mythos.

The Eliptony Hut looks back on the career of paradigmatic nuts-and-bolts UFOlogist Stanton Friedman, who passed away this May.

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.


 

 

Over the Edge, the twisted game of counter-culture conspiracy, returns in a completely remagined edition by its original creator, Jonathan Tweet. Grab it wherever fine Atlas Games are sold, on June 1st.

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.

The treasures of Askfageln can be found at DriveThruRPG. Get all issues of FENIX since 2013 available in special English editions. Score metric oodles of Ken Hite gaming goodness, along with equally stellar pieces by Graeme Davis and Pete Nash. Warning: in English, not in Swedish. In English, not Swedish. While you’re at it, grab DICE and Freeway Warrior!

Arc Dream Publishing presents a gorgeous new edition of Robert W. Chambers’ The King in Yellow, a deluxe hardback in delightful faux snakeskin, with a foreword by John Scott Tynes, annotations by our own Kenneth Hite, and stunning full-pate color  illustrations by Samuel Araya. Grab it while it lasts in the Arc Dream store.

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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Fantasy Heartbreaker and a Golden Bough Mystery

June 11th, 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

Leave No Trace (Film, US, Debra Granik, 2018) Traumatized veteran (Ben Foster) tries to keep his thirteen year old daughter (Thomasin McKenzie) by his side as he lives the nomadic, forest-dwelling existence that will hold any other contact with society at bay. Exquisitely shot, perfectly modulated naturalistic drama featuring the expected brilliant performance from Foster and a revelatory one from McKenzie.—RDL

Recommended

Archipelago (Film, UK, Joanna Hogg, 2010) A stay in a holiday rental home in the Scilly Isles becomes the stage for sublimated conflict between a passive-aggressive mom (Kate Fahy) and her  painfully empathetic son (Tom Hiddleston) and brittle daughter (Lydia Leonard). Minimalist inquiry into the exquisite torment of upper class English interpersonal communication.—RDL

Death by Water (Fiction, Kenzaburo Oe, 2009) Encouraged by an experimental theater troupe, an aging novelist investigates his father’s long-ago drowning death, only to find that a trunk supposedly full of crucial documents contains nothing more remarkable than three volumes of The Golden Bough. Discursive, autobiographical novel of repressed family turmoil and dark political undercurrents.—RDL

Die Vol. 1: Fantasy Heartbreaker (Comics, Image, Kieron Gillen & Stephanie Hans, 2019) After barely returning from a fantasy world years ago, an RPG group finds themselves once more in the gameworld of Die. Gillen somehow makes the oldest, tiredest story in fantasy both fresh and original, while staying true to the dynamics of game groups and adulthood. Hans’ art provides both wonder and terror. –KH [Gillen has also released a beta version of the RPG of his comic]

The Judas Window (Fiction, John Dickson Carr, 1938) When Avory Hume is found dead in a locked room with an arrow in his chest, Sir Henry Merrivale defends the man found in the room with him in court. Carr takes the unusual step of telling almost the whole story through court transcripts, which has the salutary effect of taming the self-indulgent Sir Henry and allowing evidence for the defense to legitimately appear as a surprise. –KH

The South vs. The South (Nonfiction, William W. Freehling, 2001) Only half the South fought for the Confederacy — the other half (border-state whites and Southern blacks) fought for the Union. Freehling argues that the rifle’s defensive advantage counterbalanced the Union’s railroad advantage, leaving a war of numbers that only half the South could never win. –KH

Under the Silver Lake (Film, US, David Robert Mitchell, 2019) Skeevy layabout Sam (Andrew Garfield) passes through the LA looking glass when a blonde he liked (Riley Keough) disappears. Beautifully shot existential slacker daylight-noir conspiracy film plays wonderfully with Garfield’s slack uselessness and with the inherent weirdness of LA; the heavy-noir score by Disasterspace kills as well. With a better ending, it would achieve Pinnacle; as it is, it will achieve hipster cult status, deservedly. –KH

Good

Around the World in 80 Days (Film, US, Michael Anderson, 1956) Phileas Fogg (David Niven) and his valet Passepartout (the superb Cantinflas) set out to win a circumnavigatory wager. Part of the old school of cinema as magic-lantern show and ViewMaster, this film mostly shows off landscapes and cameos by old school actors to the detriment of pacing or tension. However, it is gorgeous and remarkably faithful (modulo a balloon ride) to the Verne novel. –KH

Two-Faced Woman (Film, US, George Cukor, 1941) Clean-living ski instructor (Greta Garbo) fears she’s losing her new magazine mogul husband (Melvyn Douglas), so she goes to New York to get him and naturally winds up posing as her nonexistent, gold-digging twin sister. Late-cycle screwball comedy reteaming the leads from Ninotchka runs entirely on their charm, bolstered by classic studio glamor cinematography.—RDL

Okay

Jubal (Film, US, Delmer Daves, 1956) Rootless cowhand (Glenn Ford) signs on with a good-hearted but oafish rancher (Ernest Borgnine) whose wife (Valerie French) fixes him in her wandering gaze. Western tropes make way for 50s psychosexual melodrama. Marred by a deeply mannered performance from Rod Steiger as an antagonistic ranch hand.—RDL

Trapped Season 1 (Television, Iceland, Baltasar Kormakur, 2015) The washing up of a limbless torso roils a small Icelandic fishing town socked in by a storm, leaving the police chief (Ólafur Darri Ólafsson) a former Reykjavik hotshot, to handle a high-profile murder case aided only by his local staff. Sober Nordic crime drama keeps its intrigue (with a key exception) in the realm of the real, though perhaps not without a payoff worth a 10 hour runtime.—RDL

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Episode 347: We’ve Warren Commissioned Your Witch Problem

June 7th, 2019 | Robin

Patreon backer Ross Ireland pulls a fast one on us in the Gaming Hut, asking how to pitch campaigns with switcheroo premises to players.

Via the Tell Me More Feature of Ken and Robin Consume Media, backer Kevin Maroney opens the Mythology Hut for more on Ronald Hutton’s scholarly survey, The Witch.

Ken and Robin Recycle Audio continues our panel replay from Carcosa Con, this week looking at the process by which Lovecraft and his successors turned Robert W. Chambers’ King in Yellow tales into a mythos.

Then, per multiple Tell Me More Requests, we bathe in the glow of the Television Hut as Robin looks for broader lessons in Game of Thrones’ final season.

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.


Over the Edge, the twisted game of counter-culture conspiracy, returns in a completely remagined edition by its original creator, Jonathan Tweet. Grab it wherever fine Atlas Games are sold, on June 1st.

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.

The treasures of Askfageln can be found at DriveThruRPG. Get all issues of FENIX since 2013 available in special English editions. Score metric oodles of Ken Hite gaming goodness, along with equally stellar pieces by Graeme Davis and Pete Nash. Warning: in English, not in Swedish. In English, not Swedish. While you’re at it, grab DICE and Freeway Warrior!

Arc Dream Publishing presents a gorgeous new edition of Robert W. Chambers’ The King in Yellow, a deluxe hardback in delightful faux snakeskin, with a foreword by John Scott Tynes, annotations by our own Kenneth Hite, and stunning full-pate color  illustrations by Samuel Araya. Grab it while it lasts in the Arc Dream store.

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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Hollywood Kaiju and Genre-Shifting Reality Horror

June 4th, 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

The Perfection (Film, US, Richard Shepherd, 2019) Former cellist (Allison Williams) hooks up with the superstar graduate (Logan Browning) of the music academy she once attended, triggering a spiral of hallucination, betrayal, and revenge. Chameleonic piece of neo-midnight cinema finds and as quickly discards assured takes on multiple sub-genres, from erotic thriller to body horror to reality horror and beyond.—RDL

Recommended

The Arabian Nights Murder (Fiction, John Dickson Carr, 1936) Three policemen describe their investigations of a murder in a museum to Dr. Fell, each man’s story simultaneously explaining and further mystifying the previous version. Something of a tour de force of nested narratives and variant viewpoints (especially for 1936) sees Carr playing with tone from Machen to Wilde to Sayers until Dr. Fell disproves them all, of course. –KH

Asako I & II (Japan, Ryusuke Hamaguchi) Reserved coffee shop clerk avoids telling her new boyfriend that he’s a dead ringer for her swoon-worthy first love, who up and vanished on her two and a half years ago. Truffautesque comedy-drama manages something even rarer than a successful tone shift—a subtle successful tone shift.—RDL Seen at TIFF ‘18; now in theatrical release.

Fosse/Verdon (Television, US, FX, Steven Levinson and Thomas Kail, 2019) Bio-miniseries dramatizes the creative collaborations and tumultuous personal relationship of dancer/actress Gwen Verdon (Michelle Williams) and choreographer/director Bob Fosse (Sam Rockwell). Expository needs give this a rocky start, and it fades whenever it falls under the shadow of All That Jazz, but Williams’ stunning embodiment of Verdon compensates for any imperfections.—RDL

A Quiet Life (Film, Japan, Juzo Itami, 1995) High schooler left to care for her mentally disabled brother while her parents stay abroad befriends a man whose volunteer swim coaching conceals a sinister motive. Episodic, deceptively simple confrontation between innocence and darkness, based on autobiographical short stories of Kenzaburo Oe, winner of the Nobel Literature Prize and the director’s brother-in-law.—RDL

Good

Godzilla: King of the Monsters (Film, US, Michael Dougherty, 2019) Eco-terrorists unleash King Ghidorah and a pack of kaiju to cleanse the Earth of humanity, and only Godzilla stands in their way. Remarkably true to the fantastic Toho spirit, despite inducting Godzilla (basically) into the Natty Bumppo-Rambo tradition of wild American warriors and (mostly) wasting Millie Bobby Brown and Zhang Ziyi. The monster fights are Recommended. –KH

To Wake the Dead (Fiction, John Dickson Carr, 1937) Gideon Fell solves a pair of murders linked by a killer in a hotel uniform — but only one of the murders happened in a hotel. Carr rockets the plot along in this one, keeping plenty of surprises in stock despite explaining the “impossible” part halfway through. Unfortunately, one of the surprises is that unusually for Carr, the motive doesn’t make sense and the method involves a bit of a cheat. Still enjoyable but not his usual triumph. –KH

Okay

Upgrade (Film, US, Leigh Whannell, 2018) An illicit chip implant restores a paralyzed auto mechanic’s ability to move, investing him with the computer power and killing reflexes needed to track down the men who murdered his wife. The best visual and kinetic portrayal of cyberpunk implants committed to film so far. Too bad about the stock characters and situations.—RDL

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Episode 346: Everybody’s Limbs are Still On

May 31st, 2019 | Robin

In the Gaming Hut, Patreon backer Hyperlexic asks Robin to elucidate the core pleasures of RuneQuest.

The History Hut finds us obeying the commands of backer Antti Elomaa to get to the bottom of Britain’s 1939 pet massacre.

Ken and Robin Recycle Audio with segments from our Robert W. Chambers and King in Yellow Mythos panels at Carcosa Con.

Finally in the Eliptony Hut we look at the bio-energetic theories of renegade Russian crank scientist Lev Gumilyov.

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.


Over the Edge, the twisted game of counter-culture conspiracy, returns in a completely remagined edition by its original creator, Jonathan Tweet. Grab it wherever fine Atlas Games are sold, on June 1st.

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.

The treasures of Askfageln can be found at DriveThruRPG. Get all issues of FENIX since 2013 available in special English editions. Score metric oodles of Ken Hite gaming goodness, along with equally stellar pieces by Graeme Davis and Pete Nash. Warning: in English, not in Swedish. In English, not Swedish. While you’re at it, grab DICE and Freeway Warrior!

Arc Dream Publishing presents a gorgeous new edition of Robert W. Chambers’ The King in Yellow, a deluxe hardback in delightful faux snakeskin, with a foreword by John Scott Tynes, annotations by our own Kenneth Hite, and stunning full-pate color  illustrations by Samuel Araya. Grab it while it lasts in the Arc Dream store.

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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Gunslingers Old and New

May 28th, 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

The Flash Season 5 (Television, US, CW, Todd Helbing, 2018-2019) Barry and Iris adjust to having an adult superhero daughter from the future (Jessica Parker Kennedy) as they hunt the metahuman-murdering Cicada. Some early awkward schtick aside, this season locks into the series tone early and stays in it, lobbing in a few twists on the Big Bad trope along the way.—RDL

The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley (Film, US, Alex Gibney, 2019) Armed with copious behind-the-scenes footage, documentary recounts the story of fraudulent Silicon Valley blood-testing company Theranos and its heartstring-tugging, oddball CEO, Elizabeth Holmes. The film shines in its character study of Holmes, showing the spell a fragile, self-caricurating personality can cast on hosts of putatively smart, high-status people.—RDL

Mission Impossible: Fallout (Film, US, Christopher McQuarrie, 2018) Ethan and crew hunt plutonium bomb cores stolen by an old nemesis’ apostles. Demonstrates a deep understanding of iconic hero storytelling, drawing its thrills and twists strictly from the franchise’s core elements.—RDL

Our Betters (Film, US, George Cukor, 1933) Wising up fast after a British Lord marries her for her money, an American heiress (Constance Bennett) becomes a dominating force in the social scene. Most filmed stage adaptations date terribly, but Cukor’s legendary ability to modulate actors’ performances finds the humanity behind the characters’ archness. Original by Somerset Maugham.—RDL

The Villainess (Film, Jeong Byeong-Gil, South Korea, 2017) Trained killer for the Yanbian crime syndicate Sook-hee (Kim Ok-bin) gets a second life — as a trained killer for the Korean government, but her past (Shin Ha-kyun) comes back hard. The trail of hyperviolent action and reaction (and the themes of agency and its loss) connects an almost-too-fractured narrative. A double La Femme Nikita adds up to another triumph for South Korean action cinema. –KH

Good

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow Season 4 (Television, US, CW, Phil Klemmer, 2018-2019) The crew’s new mission to capture escaped supernatural creatures dovetails with Constantine’s struggle against a vengeful demon. Cheerfully digs into its grab-bag nature, being somehow a show mostly devoted to goofball comedy that somehow also has a credible version of John Constantine in it.—RDL

John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum (Film, US, Chad Stahelski, 2019) Now “excommunicado” and an open target for New York’s zillion assassins, super-killer John Wick (Keanu Reeves) attempts to escape long enough to atone for his crime. Blessed by another clutch of superb action scenes, honoring everyone from the Shaw Brothers to Sergio Leone, production-designed to a glorious fare-thee-well by Kevin Kavanaugh — it’s still an essentially pointless side quest. –KH

The Left-Handed Gun (Film, US, Arthur Penn, 1958) Young gunfighter William Bonney (Paul Newman) avenges the death of his boss but alienates his friend Pat Garrett (John Dehner). Gore Vidal’s source teleplay attempts to depict Billy the Kid as a holy fool, but as filmed we get more of a manchild sociopath; both Vidal and Penn mix in a hearty dose of sublimated homosexuality to boot. Still worth watching as psychological document, and as early Paul Newman. –KH

Origin Story (Film, US, Kulap Vilaysack, 2019) Decades after learning of his existence in a childhood argument with her mother, comedy producer and podcaster Vilaysack goes to Laos in search of her biological father. Despite a few strained narrative devices, the emotional layers of its journey into familial truth resonate deeply.—RDL

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Episode 345: Go Talk to Some Other Trees

May 24th, 2019 | Robin

We enter the Gaming Hut pursued by powerful patrons as backer Remi Permann seeks help importing 13th Age icons to other games.

In Ken and/or Robin Talk to Someone Else, Ken chats with Nathan Paoletta, designer of such games The World Wide Wrestling RPG, Annalise, and his latest, the Poe-inspired Imp of the Perverse, now on preorder.

Then Ken and Robin Recycle Audio with the second part of our Robert W. Chambers panel from Carcosa Con, this time focusing on his story “The Repairer of Reputations.”

Finally we put Ken’s Time Machine into service in an attempt to prevent Justinian from closing the Neoplatonic Academy.

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.


Over the Edge, the twisted game of counter-culture conspiracy, returns in a completely remagined edition by its original creator, Jonathan Tweet. Grab it wherever fine Atlas Games are sold, on June 1st.

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.

The treasures of Askfageln can be found at DriveThruRPG. Get all issues of FENIX since 2013 available in special English editions. Score metric oodles of Ken Hite gaming goodness, along with equally stellar pieces by Graeme Davis and Pete Nash. Warning: in English, not in Swedish. In English, not Swedish. While you’re at it, grab DICE and Freeway Warrior!

Arc Dream Publishing presents a gorgeous new edition of Robert W. Chambers’ The King in Yellow, a deluxe hardback in delightful faux snakeskin, with a foreword by John Scott Tynes, annotations by our own Kenneth Hite, and stunning full-pate color  illustrations by Samuel Araya. Grab it while it lasts in the Arc Dream store.

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Film Cannister
Cartoon Rocket
d8
Flying Clock
Robin
Film Cannister