Grimoire
Cthulhu
Dracula
Abraham Lincoln
Ken
Grimoire

Episode 423: The Mysterious G

November 27th, 2020 | Robin

In the Gaming Hut, Lisa Steele and Neil Fortier ask how to adjust Robin’s police procedural superhero game, Mutant City Blues, in the wake of the George Floyd murder.

George III’s topographical collection has gone online, prompting a Cartography Hut focused on one of its treasures—a very RPG-looking map of the fort and barracks at Mount Pleasant, Maryland.

Beloved Patreon backer Jesse Lowe calls for a Culture Hut field trip to the Maryhill Museum, founded by Queen Marie of Romania and Yellow King Roleplaying Game historical figure Loie Fuller.

Finally in a crossover between the Crime Blotter and Eliptony Hut we examine the case of Ira Einhorn, the paranormalist 60s scenester later known as the Unicorn Killer.

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.


Fans of Robin’s action movie roleplaying game, Feng Shui 2, can now have more gun fu, martial arts and sorcery in their lives as the Feng Shui 2 subscription series blasts its way into your mail slot. Score free PDFs, early access to new adventures, and 10% off cover price by joining Atlas Games’ band of scrappy underdogs today.

The second edition of Mutant City Blues, by Robin D. Laws, and now with added Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan, is now in print from Pelgrane Press. Grab your Quade Diagrams and solve the crimes of a near future where one per cent of the population wields super powers. Use the voucher code DIAGRAM2020 to get 15% off at the Pelgrane Store.

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!

Suit up, agents of Delta Green. Your battle to save humanity from unnatural horrors is going beyond the Beltway. Delta Green: The Labyrinth is now shipping to a secure dead drop near you. Written by Delta Green co-creator John Scott Tynes, this all-new collection of organizations dives deep into the fissures of America in the new millennium.

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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Dickinson & Noir from Around the World

November 24th, 2020 | 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

Any Number Can Win (Film, France/Italy/US, Henri Verneuil, 1963) Aging ex-con Charles (Jean Gabin) recruits hot-blooded young ex-con Francis (Alain Delon) for one last perfect job: a casino robbery on the Riviera. Verneuil uses the acting to drive the story, allowing the script to beautifully lay out the heist and its obstacles; low-key tension throughout flares up in a final tour-de-force scene. –KH

Recommended

The Assistant (Film, US, Kitty Green, 2020) Diligent film company assistant (Julia Garner) can’t help but spot the accumulating evidence of its top exec’s extensive sexual harassment. Exacting, hyper-naturalistic examination of the ambient complicity baked into most any work hierarchy.—RDL

Cold War (Film, Poland, Paweł Pawlikowski, 2018) The tumultuous love of a musical director (Tomasz Kot) and a singer (Joanna Kulig) play out over many years on both sides of the Iron Curtain. Drama of hurtful love between people whose relationship only works under external oppression, with crystalline black and white photography by Łukasz Żal.—RDL

Dickinson (Television, US, Alena Smith, Apple+, 2019) Between colloquies with Death (Wiz Khalifa) in his ghostly carriage, teen poet Emily Dickinson (Hailee Steinfeld) defies her loving but forbidding father (Toby Huss), loves her brother’s fiancee (Ella Hunt), and generally commits to keeping it weird. Biographical comedy knocks the stuffiness from the 19th century with contemporary dialogue and needle drops, with emotionally truthful performances from Steinfeld and cast to keep the archness at bay. Zosia Mamet and John Mulaney vie for funniest guest spot honors as commercially-minded Louisa May Alcott and pompous dickweed Henry Thoreau.—RDL

Leave Her to Heaven (Film, US, John M. Stahl, 1945) Obsessive beauty Ellen (Gene Tierney) latches onto writer Richard (Cornel Wilde) and does anything to keep him for herself. Lush Technicolor and surging melodrama lull you into watching perhaps the most blood-freezing murder scene in American film history. Even a pre-plummy Vincent Price as a fixated D.A. can’t equal the threat of Gene Tierney in tortoiseshell shades. –KH

Out of the Dark (Fiction, Patrick Modiano, 1996) In mid-60s Paris, a callow bookhound falls for the magnetically elusive girlfriend of a small-time gambler. Sparely told tale of love and memory with noirish undertones.—RDL

Panique (Film, France, Julien Duvivier, 1947) Local ne’er-do-wells Alice (Viviane Romance) and Alfred (Paul Bernard) frame sad-sack Monsieur Hire (Michel Simon) for murder in a lovely clockwork noir based on a Simenon novel. Simon’s performance, alternately off-putting and sympathetic, establishes the human truth at the heart of the story. –KH

Penn & Teller: Fool Us, Season 7 (Television, US, Penn Jillette & Teller, CW, 2020) Magicians Penn and Teller invite fellow magicians to perform a trick; they try to figure out how it’s done. Basically a variety/competition show, except with generosity, wonder, and kindness as the emotional keys. I find its world of professionalism, history, fellowship, and honesty makes for ideal lockdown viewing; I picked this season just because it’s the most recent one I’ve watched, but they’re all Recommended. –KH

Good

Razzia sur la Chnouf (Film, France, Henri Decoin, 1955) Gangster Henri Ferre (Jean Gabin) returns from America to take a crucial middle-management role in a heroin ring getting slack. Gorgeously shot, this  hangout film of the French drug underworld keeps us at a distance as Henri seemingly tours aimlessly through his new empire. The last act tightens considerably, though almost arbitrarily, so I’m not sure the combo scores. Marc Lanjean’s jazzy score absolutely scores, though. –KH

Rusty Knife (Film, Japan, Toshio Masuda, 1958) While the cops fruitlessly try to bust local yakuza boss Katsumata, ex-con (and ex-yakuza) Tachibana (Yujiro Ishihara) tries to keep his murderous rage from boiling over. Like many Nikkatsu directors of the era, Masuda ladles on scenes and developments without any particular care for logic or tone, creating a layered urban setting almost despite himself. The underplayed yet powerful romance between Tachibana and a pretty journalist on the crime beat provides a throughline if you want one. –KH

Not Recommended

Ad Astra (Film, US, James Gray, 2019) Spacecom sends closed-off astronaut (Brad Pitt) on a mission to contact his father (Tommy Lee Jones), whose long-lost craft is bathing the Earth in deadly cosmic radiation. Centering a heaping serving of daddy issues inside a pastiche of 2001 and Heart of Darkness, this exemplifies the very specific kind of bad that results when talented filmmakers devote wholehearted seriousness to a dumb idea.—RDL

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Episode 422: Sumerian GM Screens

November 20th, 2020 | Robin

In the Gaming Hut we look at narrative coherence and whether GMs should enforce it by trying to make all introduced story elements pay off.

Something sufficiently definitive has happened that we are willing to risk the wrath of our ten day lead time and reopen the dusty Politics Hut to chew over the results of the US election.

Speaking of which, I guess it’s finally time to duck into Conspiracy Corner and talk about QAnon.

Finally, the Consulting Occultist for the first time trains his eye on a subject who is both a paranormalist and an RPG designer, James “Herbie” Brennan.

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.


Fans of Robin’s action movie roleplaying game, Feng Shui 2, can now have more gun fu, martial arts and sorcery in their lives as the Feng Shui 2 subscription series blasts its way into your mail slot. Score free PDFs, early access to new adventures, and 10% off cover price by joining Atlas Games’ band of scrappy underdogs today.

Send your 13th Age characters deep below the Dragon Empire, and even deeper into danger, with Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan’s Book of the Underworld. Get all the subterranean exploration and menace your adventurers can handle at the Pelgrane Press store. For a limited time only, get 10% off print or PDF with the voucher code STUFFWORLD.

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!

Suit up, agents of Delta Green. Your battle to save humanity from unnatural horrors is going beyond the Beltway. Delta Green: The Labyrinth is now shipping to a secure dead drop near you. Written by Delta Green co-creator John Scott Tynes, this all-new collection of organizations dives deep into the fissures of America in the new millennium.

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Ken and Robin Consume Media: David Byrne, The End of Supernatural, and the Foucault of the UFO

November 17th, 2020 | 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

David Byrne’s American Utopia (Film, US, Spike Lee, 2020) Stringing beads from his forty-odd-year discography, Byrne fronts 11 barefoot musicians in a deliberately stark and minimalist stage show that perversely attempts to be open and optimistic. (Coldness inviting warmth is a weird vibe, it must be said.) Lee captures the show from every angle, but prefers a deliberately human-scale theater-style frame that emphasizes the common humanity of the performers; Byrne mostly remains at the center but Lee only rarely shoots him as the icon that he is. –KH

Forbidden Science 1: A Passion for Discovery, The Journals of Jacques Vallee 1957-1969 (Nonfiction, Jacques Vallee, 1992) Early diaries by the Foucault of the UFO take him from intellectually precocious university student to the software pioneer author of Passport to Magonia—that is, from a character in a Francois Truffaut movie to the character Truffaut would later portray in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Takeaways from this rich, erudite journal: 1) the French take second place to no one in being annoyed by the French. 2) Boy howdy, the entire UFO scene sure was steeped in the straight-up occult.—RDL

Supernatural Season 15 (Television, US, Andrew Dabb, CW, 2019-2020) Sam and Dean Winchester (Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles) wrap up their epic battle against sinister cosmic forces with a battle against that malign thug, God (Rob Benedict.) Brings nerddom’s longest-running series in for a satisfying landing, with a conclusion both grounded and cosmic. In a TV ecosystem shifting to the short, serialized seasons and hasty cancelations of the streaming world, we likely won’t see another show log 320 episodes of the episodic-with-continuity arcs format. The achievement becomes all the more remarkable when you consider the tightness of its template it rang its variations on.—RDL

(Edit: Whoops, am informed that despite the apparent finality of last week’s ep there’s still one more to go.—RDL)

Good

Fast Color (Film, US, Julia Hart, 2018) In a slowly collapsing, water-starved America, a recovering addict (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) on the run from scientists studying her paranormal powers seeks refuge with her mother (Lorraine Toussaint) and young daughter, who share her abilities. Scores points for restrained atmosphere, despite a script that spends a lot of time explaining itself without ever entirely making sense.—RDL

Netflix vs the World (Film, US, Shawn Cauthen, 2019)Documentary traces the rise of Netflix from scrappy strip mall startup to streaming giant, with particular emphasis on the tit-for-tat battle of its battle with Blockbuster during the DVD rental by mail phase.—RDL

Two Monks (Film, Mexico, Juan Bustillo Oro, 1934) A monastery murder attempt triggers a tale of romantic woe told from the perspectives of victim and perpetrator. Monumental deco expressionist sets add gothic overtones to a love triangle melodrama. Bump up to Recommended if you are Guy Maddin.—RDL

Okay

The Crowd Roars (Film, US, Howard Hawks, 1932) When his kid brother joins his team, a champion race driver (James Cagney) becomes a controlling bully, also junking his relationship with his long-suffering girlfriend (Ann Dvorak.) Later in his career Hawks would learn to give his redemption arcs to secondary characters, but here the protagonist doesn’t much deserve one.—RDL

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Episode 421: The Lawful Evil Parade [Corrected]

November 13th, 2020 | Robin

In the Gaming Hut, beloved Patreon backer David Sowa asks us how to incorporate machine politics into an F20 game.

Ken beckons us into the Cinema Hut to discuss his discoveries at this year’s virtual edition of the Chicago Film Festival.

Ask Ken and Robin features a request from flinty Patreon backer to find the gaming fun in a field of abandoned President heads.

Finally we use Ken’s Time Machine to see what the world looks like if an attempted hit on the Shah of Iran in 1949 went off as planned.

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.


Fans of Robin’s action movie roleplaying game, Feng Shui 2, can now have more gun fu, martial arts and sorcery in their lives as the Feng Shui 2 subscription series blasts its way into your mail slot. Score free PDFs, early access to new adventures, and 10% off cover price by joining Atlas Games’ band of scrappy underdogs today.

Send your 13th Age characters deep below the Dragon Empire, and even deeper into danger, with Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan’s Book of the Underworld. Get all the subterranean exploration and menace your adventurers can handle at the Pelgrane Press store. For a limited time only, get 10% off print or PDF with the voucher code STUFFWORLD.

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!

Suit up, agents of Delta Green. Your battle to save humanity from unnatural horrors is going beyond the Beltway. Delta Green: The Labyrinth is now shipping to a secure dead drop near you. Written by Delta Green co-creator John Scott Tynes, this all-new collection of organizations dives deep into the fissures of America in the new millennium.

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Episode 420: They Were Hurt Frankly

November 6th, 2020 | Robin

Beloved Patreon backer John Scheib summons us to the Gaming Hut to find techniques for infusing Earth-based settings with your chosen nerdtrope.

In the Tradecraft Hut we find that the Cuban sonic attacks story, which we covered three years ago, has revealed itself into a campaign of FSB attacks against American spies and diplomats worldwide. Be sure to check out this amazing Julia Ioffe piece from GQ. This New York Times story looks at victims’ attempts to gain disability compensation.

We’re in for a tough couple of seasons here in the northern hemisphere, so the Food Hut is here to help with suggestions of ingredients to stuff your freezer with.

Finally the Eliptony Hut looks at computer networking pioneer, venture capitalist and ufologist Jacques Vallée.

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.


Fans of Robin’s action movie roleplaying game, Feng Shui 2, can now have more gun fu, martial arts and sorcery in their lives as the Feng Shui 2 subscription series blasts its way into your mail slot. Score free PDFs, early access to new adventures, and 10% off cover price by joining Atlas Games’ band of scrappy underdogs today.

It’s hard to believe that British Intelligence would make this mistake yet again, but all the secrets of their vampire dalliances have returned to the Bundle of Holding. Score the entire Dracula Dossier line, from Ken and Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan line for a terrifyingly low price!

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!

Suit up, agents of Delta Green. Your battle to save humanity from unnatural horrors is going beyond the Beltway. Delta Green: The Labyrinth is now shipping to a secure dead drop near you. Written by Delta Green co-creator John Scott Tynes, this all-new collection of organizations dives deep into the fissures of America in the new millennium.

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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Monopoly vs Anti-Monopoly and Two Games with the Same Name

November 3rd, 2020 | 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

Ted Lasso (Television, US, Bill Lawrence & Jason Sudeikis, Apple+, 2020) Hired by a team owner (Hannah Waddingham) intent on tanking the club she got in the divorce from her weasel husband, an unremittingly positive US football coach (Jason Sudeikis) adjusts to life among the British and the unrelated sport of the same name. Improbably sourced from jokey interstitial commercials, this sports dramedy scores with smart, generous character portrayals and scene-making, supported by spot-on performances from Juno Temple, Brett Goldstein, Nick Mohammed, and Phil Dunster.—RDL

Recommended

Daniel Isn’t Real (Film, US, Adam Egypt Mortimer, 2019) Shy college freshman (Miles Robbins) raised by a schizophrenic single mom (Mary Stuart Masterson) releases the sinister imaginary friend of his childhood, now a confident alpha bro (Patrick Schwarzenegger). Discordant score and jagged cutting up the unease as it moves from the psychological to the supernatural.—RDL

Goliath: The 100-Year War Between Monopoly Power and Antimonopoly (Nonfiction, Matt Stoller, 2019) History of US political economics since 1910 casts antimonopolism as both wise and traditional, focusing on the career of Texas congressman Wright Patman as its lodestone. Very refreshing to read a book that confirms only half of  one’s priors, and bracing to see Bork and Galbraith cast as twin villains. Needs further definition and exploration, and skips too lightly over regulatory capture and Clintonism, but an excellent start at post-Google thinking. –KH

Greyhound (Film, US, Aaron Schneider, 2020) Devout destroyer captain (Tom Hanks) leads the defense of a freight convoy from a pack of U-Boats as it crosses the stretch of Atlantic air support can’t reach. Stoic war thriller uses extensive CGI to depict the harrowing qualities of WWII naval warfare. In his own adaptation of the C. S. Forester novel The Good Shepherd, Hanks rediscovers the power of restraint; comparisons to Fonda and Stewart have never been more apt.—RDL

Good

Craig Ferguson: Just Being Honest (Stand-up, Craig Ferguson, 2015) Ferguson weaves a series of anecdotes and callbacks into an enjoyable hour, as per usual. A looser, more relaxed post-Late-Late-Show affect generally damps out the highs and lows of his usual act; strong making-fun-of-Mick-Jagger energy charges up one segment by contrast. –KH

Okay

Nobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight (Film, Poland, Bartosz M. Kowalski, 2020) Five hiking teens from a tech-detox camp in the Polish woods stumble across twin mutants. Poland’s first slasher film simply recaps America’s first 200+ slasher films, with almost nothing of its own to say or contribute. Effectively lit and lensed by Cezary Stolecki, though. –KH

Working Girls (Film, US, Dorothy Arzner, 1931) When midwestern sisters arrive in New York City to find jobs and men, the ladylike one (Dorothy Hall) falls for a callow Harvard lawyer. The first two acts play as a melodrama illuminated by Arzner’s insight into womens’ lives; the sympathies they establish are then tossed away for a lurch into screwball comedy.—RDL

Not Recommended

Anna and the Apocalypse (Film, UK, John McPhail, 2017) Zombies strike Scottish high school on the day of its Christmas pageant. Mediocre zombie film meets sub-par musical, without finding a point of view on either genre.—RDL

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Episode 419: Five Hour Haste

October 30th, 2020 | Robin

We risk mixing up our aromatics with our alembics as beloved Patreon backer Jason Gorkisch enters the Gaming Hut to ask which ingredients and cooking styles make the best basis for magic.

Peter McAveney calls upon the Crime Blotter for the scoop on the Potosi Mint Fraud.

Ironically, among many other things, it has indeed become rain on your wedding day. We sashay into the Word Hut to tell you what irony is.

Finally the Consulting Occultist goes literary as Thomas Casey seeks info on the supernatural leanings of Portuguese modernist writer Fernando Pessoa.

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.


Fans of Robin’s action movie roleplaying game, Feng Shui 2, can now have more gun fu, martial arts and sorcery in their lives as the Feng Shui 2 subscription series blasts its way into your mail slot. Score free PDFs, early access to new adventures, and 10% off cover price by joining Atlas Games’ band of scrappy underdogs today.

It’s hard to believe that British Intelligence would make this mistake yet again, but all the secrets of their vampire dalliances have returned to the Bundle of Holding. Score the entire Dracula Dossier line, from Ken and Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan line for a terrifyingly low price!

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!

Suit up, agents of Delta Green. Your battle to save humanity from unnatural horrors is going beyond the Beltway. Delta Green: The Labyrinth is now shipping to a secure dead drop near you. Written by Delta Green co-creator John Scott Tynes, this all-new collection of organizations dives deep into the fissures of America in the new millennium.

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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Coppola and Murray Reteam, and Cinema as Fractal Nexus

October 27th, 2020 | 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

Careless Crime (Film, Iran, Shahram Mokri, 2020) Pill addict Faraj (Mohammad Sareban) gets drawn into a plot to burn down a movie theater which eerily recalls the Cinema Rex fire in 1978. Mokri lays down long, overlapping takes and arcs, slowly arcing tighter and tighter on multiple levels (including a film-within-a-film-within-a-film, at one point) around the inescapable haunting of Iran’s cinema past. A superb achievement on so many levels; the lighting and Ehsan Sedigh’s discordant score stand-outs among them. I desperately need to see it again in the kind of real theater space that Mokri turns into a fractal nexus.–KH

On the Rocks (Film, US, Sofia Coppola, 2020) Blocked novelist (Rashida Jones) gets more help than she asked for when she asks her incorrigibly magnetic art dealer father (Bill Murray) to evaluate signs her work-obsessed husband (Marlon Wayans Jr.) is cheating on her. Incandescent, perfectly judged comedy-drama two-hander uses every part of the Bill Murray.—RDL

Recommended

Charlatan (Film, Czechia/Ireland/Poland/Slovakia, Agnieszka Holland, 2020) Loose biopic of the Czech healer and herbalist Jan Mikolášek (Ivan Trojan; his son Josef Trojan plays young Jan) framed by his 1958 arrest and trial by the Communist government. Holland’s portrait of Mikolášek never goes where the audience expects, just as Trojan’s performance alienates and attracts in equal measure. Her refusal to put Mikolášek into a simple box (despite her monodimensional title) gives depth and realism while Martin Strba’s deliberately cinematic lensing expertly plays with history-film convention.–KH

Fireball: Visitors From Darker Worlds (Film, US, Werner Herzog & Clive Oppenheimer, 2020) Herzog follows enthusiastic geologist Oppenheimer on a tour of meteoritic science, art, and religion from Norway to Antarctica. Most interested in how humans make art and meaning out of the arbitrary falling rocks, Herzog sometimes strays a little bit into vorticism, cutting staccato between flashes of meaning and thought — but how appropriate for a film about meteors. –KH

I Never Met a Story I Didn’t Like: Mostly True Tall Tales (Nonfiction, Todd Snider. 2014) Americana singer-songwriter transposes his raconteurial wit to the printed page with a series of substance-soaked anecdotes of life on the road. Be forewarned: the reader never does learn what caused Digger Dave to be banned from all three bars in Homer, Alaska.—RDL

Night of the Kings (Film, Côte d’Ivoire/Canada/France/Senegal, Phillippe Lacôte, 2020) The newest inmate (Koné Bakary) in the “jungle” of the MACA prison gets tapped by its dying king to tell a story on the night of the red moon. Prison-gangster drama meets Arabian-night medievalism both narratively and visually in a rich and surprising film of narratology and survival. –KH

Shivers (Film, Canada, David Cronenberg, 1975) Slug-like, genetically engineered parasites turn high-rise residents into frenzied sex killers. Most horror films seem tamer a few decades later, but the opposite is true for this puckishly unpleasant blend of Romero, Ballard and Euripides.—RDL

Good

The Pistol Shrimps (Film, US, Brent Hodge, 2016) A women’s basketball rec league forms around the nucleus of the L.A. comedy scene, propelling a ragtag band of unlikely athletes, most famously including Aubrey Plaza, to a delightfully low-stakes winning streak. Big-hearted documentary ode to fun and camaraderie.—RDL

Preparations to Be Together For an Unknown Period of Time (Film, Hungary, Lili Horvát, 2020) Neurosurgeon Marta (Natasa Stork) impulsively returns to Budapest to reunite with her love-at-first sight Janos (Viktor Bodó) but he says he’s never met her before … Huge potentials for noir, romance, and horror loom in the premise but Horvát slowly lets the air out of all of them in 90 minutes. Stork’s tight performance deserves a better, tenser film; as it is she seems not so much a woman on the edge as one sensibly distant from a low-boiling distraction. –KH

The Prophet and the Space Aliens (Film, Israel/Austria, Yoav Shamir, 2020) Invited to receive a (bogus?) award from the Raëlian cult, documentarian Shamir takes Raël (nee Claude Vorilhon) up on his invitation to make a movie about them. Shamir plays it restrained and mostly fair, bending over backwards to not call Raël a con artist and depict the cultists on their own terms. The trouble is, when your subject is a former pop singer and race car aficionado who sees UFOs in 1974 and hears he’s the son of alien Yahweh and gets eager flower brides and oh by the way all religious leaders are still alive as sexy clones on another planet and claims to have cloned a baby in 2002 maybe restraint is not quite the best key for your movie. –KH

Undine (Film, Germany/France, Christian Petzold, 2020) Undine (Paula Beer), an urban historian who may also be the titular vengeful water-spirit, gets dumped by her lover but meets-cute devoted diver Christoph (Franz Rogowski) before we find out for sure. Palpable love for Berlin drenches this somewhat uneven film that kicks into gear on the mystery but goes soppy in the romance, and doesn’t quite consummate either. –KH

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Episode 418: Professor X Will Hug Me

October 23rd, 2020 | Robin

A Theosophical choir sings in the Gaming Hut as beloved Patreon backer Brad McClain asks for Trail of Cthulhu scenario seeds inspired by Alexander Scriabin’s unfinished, Armageddon-inducing composition Mysterium.

Thanks to discerning Patreon backer Daniel Gill, we find the Tradecraft Hut knee-deep in documents as we try to find the interesting side of the boring side of intelligence work.

In the Cinema Hut we wonder why daddy issues have become the default character arc in Hollywood screenplays.

Finally Ken’s Time Machine blares its klaxons for Saxons and contemplates a history where Edward the Exile didn’t promptly die after his return to England to take up the royal reigns from Edward the Confessor.

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.


Fans of Robin’s action movie roleplaying game, Feng Shui 2, can now have more gun fu, martial arts and sorcery in their lives as the Feng Shui 2 subscription series blasts its way into your mail slot. Score free PDFs, early access to new adventures, and 10% off cover price by joining Atlas Games’ band of scrappy underdogs today.

It’s hard to believe that British Intelligence would make this mistake yet again, but all the secrets of their vampire dalliances have returned to the Bundle of Holding. Score the entire Dracula Dossier line, from Ken and Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan line for a terrifyingly low price!

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!

Suit up, agents of Delta Green. Your battle to save humanity from unnatural horrors is going beyond the Beltway. Delta Green: The Labyrinth is now shipping to a secure dead drop near you. Written by Delta Green co-creator John Scott Tynes, this all-new collection of organizations dives deep into the fissures of America in the new millennium.

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Film Cannister
Cartoon Rocket
d8
Flying Clock
Robin
Film Cannister