Grimoire
Cthulhu
Dracula
Abraham Lincoln
Ken
Grimoire

Episode 192: Emulating a Genre That Doesn’t Exist

May 27th, 2016 | Robin

In the Gaming Hut we ponder a meta-terminology games designers might use to describe the purpose and function of the various sub-systems they build into roleplaying rules sets.

Now that Donald Trump has sewn up the Republican nomination, we head into  the Politics Hut to ask Ken what happened to his party, and whether he thinks he’ll get it back after the election.

Installment Two of Tell Me More highlights three Ken and Robin Consume Media items our Patreon backers wanted to hear more about: Batman v. Superman, Ambrose Bierce, and The Burglar’s Guide to the City.

Finally the Consulting Occultist satisfies Patreon backer Allen Wilkins’ desire to hear about writer Alan Moore’s occult thought.

Support the KARTAS Patreon!


It’s yo ho ho and a pocketful of doubloons as Atlas Games surveys the seven seas from the crow’s nest that is our coveted anchor sponsor slot. Parrot on its shoulder, it orders up another special deal for Ken and Robin listeners, this time in the form of their innovative game of piratical nautical warfare, Pieces of Eight.

Ken fans who did not partake of the Kickstarter can now sink their fangs into the general release of the Dracula Dossier from Pelgrane Press, consisting of the Director’s Handbook and Dracula Unredacted.

You say that’s still not enough Ken for you? Very well, my friend. His brilliant pieces on parasitic gaming, alternate Newtons, Dacian werewolves and more now lurk among the sparkling bounty of The Best of FENIX Volumes 1-3, from returning sponsors Askfageln. Yes, it’s Sweden’s favorite RPG magazine, now beautifully collected. Warning: not in Swedish.

Attention, operatives of Delta Green, the ultra-covert agency charged with battling the contemporary forces of the Cthulhu Mythos! Now everything you need to know to play Delta Green: The Roleplaying Game, perhaps extending your valiantly short field life, can be found in the Delta Green Agent’s Handbook.

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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Ghost Transit, Noir Identities and a Murderous Jigsaw Puzzle

May 24th, 2016 | 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 our new podcast segment, Tell Me More.

Recommended

Les Cousins (Film, France, Claude Chabrol, 1959) Earnest student arrives in Paris to stay with his cousin, the theatrically overbearing center of a whirlwind party set, only to see him shack up with the young woman he’s fallen for. Like La Dolce Vita or Dazed and Confused, acutely portrays the rites and rhythms of an exuberant but fragile social scene.—RDL

The Ghost Network (Fiction, Catie Disabato, 2014) A Situationist pop icon vanishes in Chicago; her obsessed fan vanishes searching for her; the key seems to lie in the “ghost network” of lost or never-built Chicago subway and L lines. Disabato writes as the “editor” of another (imaginary) author’s non-fiction true crime book — so it’s a Situationist In Cold Blood metafiction about secret Chicago mass transit, so yes it’s written entirely for me. It could stand some punching up of character motivations, and two or three historical facts get badly mangled, but it’s still a heck of a first novel.–KH

H.H. Holmes Murder Castle Jigsaw Puzzle (Puzzle, Holly Carden, 2016) This 513-piece jigsaw puzzle depicts a cutaway of the legendary H.H. Holmes “Murder Castle” hotel in 1893 Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood. Only moderately challenging as a jigsaw but ultimately quite absorbing as an art experience, especially one in which you have to keep asking “now, which expiring victim goes here”? –KH

Zero Focus (Film, Japan, Yoshitaro Nomura, 1962) Woman’s husband disappears one week into their marriage, sending her on an investigative journey to the bleak, snow-swept town where he was supposedly wrapping up some business affairs. Moody, noirish mystery knitted together by flashbacks, some of the Rashomon variety.–RDL

Good

Crooked (Fiction, Austin Grossman, 2015) The true and secret magical history of the Cold War, as told by Richard Nixon, our last sorcerer-president. The notes of near-Mythos occultism are excellent, as is the secret history by and large, but the temptation to caricature overwhelms Grossman to the detriment of character. For those into this kind of thing, the absurdist Hunter-Thompson-meets-HPL novel The Damned Highway  by Brian Keene and Nick Mamatas did all of it better.—KH

The Crooked Way (Film, US, Robert Florey, 1949) Amnesiac war hero returning to L.A. in search of his identity discovers that he used to be a gangster and that his former accomplices are none too happy to have him back. Gives up on its existential themes in favor of standard procedural obstacles, but worth a look for great noir photography from John Alton and its use of Los Angeles locations.—RDL

The Doctor and the Devils (Film, US, Freddie Francis, 1985) Spurred by the needs of an arrogant pioneering anatomist (Timothy Dalton), a pair of vicious new entrants into the cadaver supply business (Jonathan Pryce, Stephen Rea) murder their way past the competition. Upscale fictionalization of the Burke and Hare from Hammer alum Francis revels in grotty Victoriansploitation, In the highly theatrical acting style that pervaded prestige dramas for in the late 70s and early 80s. Adapted by Ronald Harwood from a Dylan Thomas screenplay written in the 40s. —RDL

Legends of Tomorrow Season 1 (TV, CW, 2016) Renegade time agent recruits a ragtag band of superheroes and villains to stop an evil immortal from conquering history. Engaging characterizations and performances do much heavy lifting, compensating for wobbly structures, copious idiot plotting, and a miscast big bad who projects all the menace of a mumbling hamster.—RDL

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Episode 191: In Case I Trip Over a Sand Dune

May 20th, 2016 | Robin

Patreon supporter Tim Brandis kicks us off with an Ask Ken and Robin question about which of our core design beliefs might have evolved over time.

In the Tradecraft Hut we reach way back to that most classic of espionage scandals, the Dreyfus Affair.

The Cinema Hut finds us in Stetsons and spurs for an introductory course on the Western.

Finally, backer Chris McNeil requests that Ken’s Time Machine be put to use making the medieval peasant revolt of Ken’s choice successful.

Support the KARTAS Patreon!


It’s yo ho ho and a pocketful of doubloons as Atlas Games surveys the seven seas from the crow’s nest that is our coveted anchor sponsor slot. Parrot on its shoulder, it orders up another special deal for Ken and Robin listeners, this time in the form of their innovative game of piratical nautical warfare, Pieces of Eight. Ken fans who did not partake of the Kickstarter can now sink their fangs into the general release of the Dracula Dossier from Pelgrane Press, consisting of the Director’s Handbook and Dracula Unredacted. You say that’s still not enough Ken for you? Very well, my friend. His brilliant pieces on parasitic gaming, alternate Newtons, Dacian werewolves and more now lurk among the sparkling bounty of The Best of FENIX Volumes 1-3, from returning sponsors Askfageln. Yes, it’s Sweden’s favorite RPG magazine, now beautifully collected. Warning: not in Swedish.

Attention, operatives of Delta Green, the ultra-covert agency charged with battling the contemporary forces of the Cthulhu Mythos! Now everything you need to know to play Delta Green: The Roleplaying Game, perhaps extending your valiantly short field life, can be found in the Delta Green Agent’s Handbook.

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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Heavy Fu, Demon Sight, and Our First Split Decision

May 17th, 2016 | 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 our new podcast segment, Tell Me More.

The Pinnacle

They Look Like People (Film, US, Perry Blackshear, 2015) Think Frailty but about self not family, and set in Brooklyn, and you’re in the right neighborhood. Nothing cheats, nothing lies, nothing is certain for way longer than you’d believe possible in this story of a man (MacLeod Andrews) who knows that most people are demons, and the best friend (Evan Dumouchel) who invites him into his life. Men of my generation like to reference Grosse Pointe Blank about friendship — They Look Like People takes it to the next generation and the next level, on two rock-solid performances by the leads in a humanistic horror key. (Seen at CIFF ‘15; now on Netflix streaming in North America.) –KH

Recommended

The Iceman (Film, US, Ariel Vroman, 2012) Withdrawn family man (Michael Shannon) shields his beloved wife and kids from his career as a spectacularly prolific mob hitman. Aptly grim true crime drama portrays murder for hire as grinding skilled labor.—RDL

Ip Man 3 (Film, HK, Wilson Yip, 2015) In 1959 Hong Kong, Wing Chun master Ip Man (Donnie Yen) must deal with thugs trying to muscle his kid’s school, handle a would-be rival (Zhang Jin), and comfort his wife (Lynn Hung). Good thing Wing Chun teaches balance! Only in a Hong Kong film is a sensational three-minute fight between Donnie Yen and Mike freaking Tyson a third-act-turn set piece instead of the climax.–KH

Killzone 2  (Film, HK, Soi Cheang) HK cop (Wu Jing) thrown into a Bangkok prison by organ traffickers has no way of knowing that he is the one bone marrow donor who can save the leukemia-stricken daughter of its one honest guard (Tony Jaa.) Baroque fight flick is best enjoyed by setting aside the thought that it will bear any resemblance whatsoever to the first installment. (Seen at TIFF ‘15, where it played under its international title, SPL2: A Time For Consequences; now opening theatrically in the US.) —RDL

Last Man on Earth Season 2 (TV, Fox, 2015-2016) Tandy (Will Forte) worms his way back into the good graces of his fellow survivors only to see the power dynamic shift again when his astronaut brother (Jason Sudeikis) returns to earth. Few shows of any kind, let alone character-driven comedies, use cinematic techniques to such effect, moving from squirmy laughs to true pathos.—RDL

The Law (Film, France, Jules Dassin, 1959) In a Sicilian fishing town, a larcenous bombshell (Gina Lollobrigida) eludes the local gangster and other figures of sinister patriarchy to pursue a handsome agronomer (Marcello Mastroianni) sent from the north to drain the place’s surrounding swamps. Sun-baked melodrama of not-exactly-suppressed passions from the director of Rififi and Night and the City. Set in Italy, spoken in French, helmed by an American in blacklist exile.—RDL

Mistress America (Film, US, Noah Baumbach, 2015) Uncertain college freshman gets swept up in the chaotic wake of her seemingly cooler soon-to-be stepsister (Greta Gerwig, also co-writer.). Updates the rapid-fire screwball comedy to the NYC hipster world.—RDL

Okay

Captain America: Civil War (Film, US, Joe & Anthony Russo, 2016) As the US Secretary of State seeks to put the Avengers under United Nations control, a conspiracy involving Captain America’s old partner Bucky sets them against each other. Crisply executed fan service moments webbed together by a series of sloppy script contrivances.—RDL

Keanu (Film, Peter Atencio, 2016) Relentlessly middle-class cousins Clarence (Key) and Rell (Peele) decide to impersonate gangbangers to retrieve the world’s cutest kitten after a robbery. If your YouTube feed is Key & Peele sketches, cat videos, and George Michael, then this is the film for you. Otherwise, you might want more jokes than just two.—KH

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Episode 190: Boy Meets Manifestation

May 13th, 2016 | Robin

Patreon backer Graham Wills starts us off in the Gaming Hut by asking how to balance conspiratorial genres, like the spy thriller, with group trust.

Among My Many Hats finds Ken laying down some wisdom—some Starry Wisdom, that is.

In the Horror Hut, Patreon supporter Cardboard Sandwich asks us how to adapt the ghostly works of M. R. James to the roleplaying form.

Finally we slink into the Eliptony Hut to satisfy backer Ross Ireland’s desire for non-standard UFO conspiracies.

Support the KARTAS Patreon!


From the magical land of sponsors comes Atlas Games, who with a twinkle of fairy dust revive their 2nd Edition Once Upon a Time clearance sale. Ken fans who did not partake of the Kickstarter can now sink their fangs into the general release of the Dracula Dossier from Pelgrane Press, consisting of the Director’s Handbook and Dracula Unredacted. You say that’s still not enough Ken for you? Very well, my friend. His brilliant pieces on parasitic gaming, alternate Newtons, Dacian werewolves and more now lurk among the sparkling bounty of The Best of FENIX Volumes 1-3, from returning sponsors Askfageln. Yes, it’s Sweden’s favorite RPG magazine, now beautifully collected. Warning: not in Swedish.

Attention, operatives of Delta Green, the ultra-covert agency charged with battling the contemporary forces of the Cthulhu Mythos! Now everything you need to know to play Delta Green: The Roleplaying Game, perhaps extending your valiantly short field life, can be found in the Delta Green Agent’s Handbook.

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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Ghosts, Tripods, and Captain America

May 10th, 2016 | 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 our new podcast segment, Tell Me More.

The Pinnacle

High-Rise (Film, UK, Ben Wheatley, 2016) Reserved anatomy instructor (Tom Hiddleston) moves into a brutalist apartment tower run by its strangely intrusive architect (Jeremy Irons) just before its descent into orgiastic madness. Phantasmagorical adaptation of the classic JG Ballard novel conjures weird beauty from the ugliest elements of 70s design.—RDL (my favorite film from TIFF ‘15)

Recommended

Captain America: Civil War (Film, US, Anthony & Joe Russo, 2016) Now this is how you do a Superhero Facepunch Movie. The Russos once more shoot great thriller scenes that oh yeah have superhumans in them, and embed them in a movie that oh yeah has human characters in it. In short: Best Avengers film yet, and it’s not even close.. –KH

Childrens Hospital Season 6 (TV, Adult Swim, 2015) The oversexed and underbrained doctors of the titular medical establishment return to Brazil, which is totally where they are, for adventures in such genres as spy, heist, cop, and nostalgic Judaica. Only a show this meta-fictional could turn in another solid season of rapid-fire lunacy while availability issues keep most series regulars out of any given installment.—RDL

A Critical Edition of The War of the Worlds  (Non-fiction, David Y. Hughes and Harry M. Geduld (editors), 1993) Complete textual history (including a “lost chapter”), modest critical appraisal, extensive endnotes, and useful appendices by Wells and others provide not just a definitive text but a comprehensive perspective on H.G. Wells’ “scientific romance.” Essential reading for those interested in the novel, although the section on its later adaptations is unfortunately somewhat superficial. –KH

Daredevil Season 2 (TV, Netflix Original, 2016) A sudden expansion in mystical scope turns the storyline into nonsense, and Daredevil/Murdock (Charlie Cox) is weirdly passive throughout. Nevertheless, both Elektra (Élodie Yung) and the Punisher (Jon Bernthal) anchor their immediate episodes in comic-book awesome, and the fights just get better. —KH

The Ghost Stories of Ambrose Bierce (Fiction, Ambrose Bierce, 1890s) Bite-sized, anecdotal tales of ghosts and disappearances set in the US South and West. Over the course of the anthology you can see the roots of the weird tale, including such elements as ominous whippoorwills and non-Euclidean space, emerge from an earlier, newspaper-column style focusing more on irony than horror.—RDL

Paris Reborn: Napoléon III, Baron Haussmann, and the Quest to Build a Modern City (Non-fiction, Stephanie Kirkland, 2013) Chronicle of the grand travaux, the effort to transform Paris from a barely navigable medieval city to a jewel of the Industrial Revolution over the course of a generation in the middle of the 19th century, and the inflexible bureaucratic in-fighter who made it happen. Keeps the oversized personalities and autocratic politics percolating in what could easily have been a dry list of buildings and their various cornices.—RDL

Sleeping With Other People (Film, US, Leslye Headland, 2015) Attendees at a sex and love addiction meeting (Alison Brie, Jason Sudeikis) reconnect for the first time since they lost their virginity to each other in college, vowing to keep it platonic. Witty dialogue, charming leads and realistic behavior make for a rom-com with smarts.—RDL

Wonders in the Sky (Non-fiction, Jacques Vallee and Chris Aubeck, 2010) Straightforward chronology of aerial anomalies from ca. 1460 BC to 1879 provides as many details as possible (including fairly detailed historiographies where known) and demolishes any credible notion that UFOs are a recent phenomenon. A 100-page appendix nobly if vainly attempts to sift religious visions, comets, hoaxes, etc. from the record. –KH

Good

House By the Cemetery (Film, Italy, Lucio Fulci, 1981) Researcher investigating a colleague’s past moves his wife and young son into the creepy house where the man’s life ended in murder-suicide. Typically of Fulci, pits the stylishly unsettling against the laughably maladroit. Paradoxically, both are needed: if entirely well-realized, this film would be unbearable. —RDL

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Episode 189: It Won’t Fix Me But It Will Fix That

May 6th, 2016 | Robin

Patreon backer Kevin J. Maroney gets us started with an Ask Ken and Robin question about other designers’ mechanics we consider to be under-stolen.

The Tradecraft Hut takes on a recent story claiming that infamous Nazi military officer Otto Skorzeny ended his career as a Mossad assassin.

In the Food Hut we heroically accede to a request from Patreon backer Ethan Cordray to sip some liqueurs. No, wait, talk about liqueurs.

Finally backer Joshua Hillerup climbs the creaky stairs that lead to the Consulting Occultist to learn about the occult symbolism of flowers.

Support the KARTAS Patreon!


From the magical land of sponsors comes Atlas Games, who with a twinkle of fairy dust revive their 2nd Edition Once Upon a Time clearance sale.

Ken fans who did not partake of the Kickstarter can now sink their fangs into the general release of the Dracula Dossier from Pelgrane Press, consisting of the Director’s Handbook and Dracula Unredacted.

You say that’s still not enough Ken for you? Very well, my friend. His brilliant pieces on parasitic gaming, alternate Newtons, Dacian werewolves and more now lurk among the sparkling bounty of The Best of FENIX Volumes 1-3, from returning sponsors Askfageln. Yes, it’s Sweden’s favorite RPG magazine, now beautifully collected. Warning: not in Swedish.

When you assemble your bug-out kit, make sure it includes a copy of Delta Green: Need to Know, the everything-you-need quickstart kick for the classic game of covert agents against the Cthulhu mythos, from our fine friends at Arc Dream Publishing.

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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Robots, Zombies, Prince, and Other Supernal Entities

May 3rd, 2016 | 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 our new podcast segment, Tell Me More.

 

The Pinnacle

Ex Machina (Film, US, Alex Garland, 2015) Like a classic SF short story, this film sets up a conflict around a scientific puzzle — how can we tell if an AI is self-aware — and then closes off options until something explodes. Domnhall Gleason, Alicia Vikander, and especially Oscar Isaac supercharge their deliberately iconic roles in this modernist take on Frankenstein. –KH

Recommended

Everybody Wants Some!! (Film, US, Richard Linklater, 2016) The fall of 1980 finds a freshman college ball player acclimating to the ultra-competitive household of his teammates and Austin’s many parallel music scenes. Linklater again demonstrates his mastery of experiential cinema, conjuring the ordinary excitement and comedy of life’s passages. As with Dazed and Confused, we’ll look at this in 10 years and marvel at the amazing cast of then-unknowns it assembled.—RDL

Green Room (Film, US, Jeremy Saulnier, 2016) Efficient siege horror pits a punk band against a ruthless white-supremacist gang led by Oregon club-owner Darcy Banker (Patrick Stewart). Pacing a horror film must be harder than it looks, but when it’s done really well (as it is by Saulnier and editor Julia Bloch) it washes out flaws and leaves only adrenaline aftershock — much like a good punk song. –KH

The Human Microbes (Fiction, Louise Michel, 1888) Two arch-criminals, a well-connected pedophile and a doctor with a penchant for human vivisection, separately pursue the dispersed members of the Odream family and their revolutionary comrades. A primal scream of political fury in the ragged form of a science-horror pursuit thriller, bursting with violent imagery that still shocks today. Michel, famed for her barricade-mounting leadership role in the 1871 Communard uprising, wrote this during a later 5-year prison term, served entirely in solitary confinement.  —RDL

The Jungle Book (Film, US, Jon Favreau, 2016) Orphaned man-cub Mowgli (Neel Sethi) incurs the ire of the tiger Shere Khan (Idris Elba); forced out of his wolf pack, he seeks his own way in the jungle. Favreau’s film is darker and more naturalistic than the animated 1967 Disney comic masterpiece it remakes, and a triumph of CGI and motion-capture. Bill Murray out-slackers even Phil Harris’ Baloo, and Christopher Walken’s gigantopithecus King Louie adds considerable menace. –KH

Purple Rain (Film, US, Albert Magnoli, 1984) If your only memories of this Prince film are from cable TV, like mine, try to see it on the big screen now while theaters have it in funerary revival. Not a terrific piece of filmcraft per se, but a truly mythic battle-of-the-bands movie and a weirdly compelling view of a music scene (and a movie style) gone for decades. Also, Morris Day kills as the designated villain. –KH

Good

Cooties (Film, US, Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion, 2014) Aspiring horror writer (Elijah Wood)  does not expect his first day substitute teaching back in his Indiana small town to end up with his grade school students going on a zombie kill spree. Horror comedy in the Joe Dante vein could have used a joke punch-up session but is well sold by an ensemble cast including Rainn Wilson, Alison Pill, Nasim Pedrad and Jack McBrayer. —RDL

Modesty Blaise (Film, Joseph Losey, 1966) Freelance criminal-spy Modesty (Monica Vitti) battles louche villain Gabriel Fothergill (Dirk Bogarde) and her duplicitous MI6 would-be bosses over a diamond shipment. Wonderfully surreal feminist spy adventure almost escapes its dire music (worst of all a painful love duet between Modesty and a still-cockney Terence Stamp as her sidekick Willie) and Losey’s condescension to the comic-strip material. Worth watching for Vitti, Bogarde, cinematographer Jack Hildyard’s weird lensing choices, and the glorious Pop Art production design. –KH

Okay

Leviathan (Mack Bolan: Executioner #276) (Fiction, “Don Pendleton,” 2001) Mob-smashing hero Bolan gets inserted into an offshore oil rig to bust up a Mob-CIA meth ring but finds … Cthulhu? The book is a brief excuse for one long fight scene, which sadly follows the Bolan pattern of single-gun heroics rather than taking full advantage of the originality (and horror) of the high concept. It does manage to separate the standard racist tropes of the series from Lovecraft’s, though. –KH

Not Recommended

My Name is Modesty (Film, Scott Spiegel, 2004) Young croupier Modesty (Alexandra Staden, good but miscast) plays Scheherazade with a killer-thief (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), trading her origin story for hostages’ lives during a casino robbery. Shoestring budget and quickie production don’t help a weak script find its legs, though Staden does what she can. –KH

Robert W. Chambers, Maker of Moons: Author of The King in Yellow Unmasked (Non-fiction, Shawn M. Tomlinson, 2014) Enthusiastic fan project contains some facts. These must be sifted from an achronological jumble of possibilities, conjectures, legends, rumors, irrelevant opinions, an admittedly wrong theory, personal anecdotes and an imagined time travel interview. Given the paucity of information on Chambers, that’s more facts than we previously had, I guess. —RDL

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Episode 188: He Drinks Tables Under the Table

April 29th, 2016 | Robin

In the Gaming Hut, Patreon backer Bill Sundwall wants Ken to mash up two of his projects, The Madness Dossier and Night’s Black Agents, into one.

The Business of Gaming looks for the best ways to combat harassment within our community.

The Book Hut responds to backer Frank King’s request for a look at the work of Umberto Eco.

And finally we wonder what Ken’s Time Machine had to do with the 1825 collapse of the Fonthill Abbey tower.

Support the KARTAS Patreon!


Bend reality to your will, but be ready to pay the price, as Atlas Games’ Unknown Armies bubbles up from the supernatural underground for a weird and majestic new Kickstarter campaign. Now in its final hours!
Ken fans who did not partake of the Kickstarter can now sink their fangs into the general release of the Dracula Dossier from Pelgrane Press, consisting of the Director’s Handbook and Dracula Unredacted. You say that’s still not enough Ken for you? Very well, my friend. His brilliant pieces on parasitic gaming, alternate Newtons, Dacian werewolves and more now lurk among the sparkling bounty of The Best of FENIX Volumes 1-3, from returning sponsors Askfageln. Yes, it’s Sweden’s favorite RPG magazine, now beautifully collected. Warning: not in Swedish.

When you assemble your bug-out kit, make sure it includes a copy of Delta Green: Need to Know, the everything-you-need quickstart kick for the classic game of covert agents against the Cthulhu mythos, from our fine friends at Arc Dream Publishing.

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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Crime, Cops, and Supergirl

April 26th, 2016 | 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 our new podcast segment, Tell Me More.

The Pinnacle

Better Call Saul Season 2 (TV series, Vince Gilligan, AMC, 2016) Jimmy McGill moves up in the legal world, putting him on a crash course with the disapproving brother whose approval he craves but cannot have; Mike Ehrmentraut’s bid to protect his daughter-in-law and granddaughter draws him deeper into the cartel world. In its second season the show with the best written and acted two-hander scenes in TV achieves an even tighter focus.—RDL

Recommended

Available Dark (Fiction, Elizabeth Hand, 2012) On the lam after the events of GenerationLoss, burned-out punk photographer Cassandra Neary gets embroiled in an Odinist black-metal necromancy ring that somehow involves her ex-boyfriend Quinn. Hand’s combination of mythic power, sense of place, and emotional realism develop a crime novel that only shows the supernatural through its effects on flawed humanity. –KH

Brooklyn Nine-Nine Season 3 (TV series, Fox, 2015-2016) Insecure ace police detective Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg) finds stability in his relationship with a fellow cop (Melissa Fumero) but still craves the approval of his boss. This year finds the show, still the best classic sitcom on network TV, seeing just how far it can push Andre Braugher’s preternatural deadpan.—RDL

KillingThemSoftly (Film, US, Andrew Dominik, 2012) Trio of small time crooks need killing after they foolishly knock over a card game, necessitating the services of hitman Jackie Cogan (Brad Pitt.) A series of finely tuned acting duels featuring Pitt and the likes of James Gandolfini, Richard Jenkins, and Ben Mendelsohn, interspersed with eruptions of hyper-aestheticized violence.—RDL

Supergirl Season 1 (TV series, CBS, 2015-2016) Adopted alien girl adopts her new planet and her media coworkers while stopping mean aliens for the government. Even if you’re not in the target audience of tween/teen girls and their parents, the combination of old-school DC fan service and fun characters doing (mostly) good should be enough to keep you watching. Melissa Benoist is better than her scripted lines, but that’s always true. –KH

Good

Maker of Moons (Fiction, Robert W. Chambers, 1896) Perfect loves made fleeting by supernatural barriers dominate this anthology of weird tales written at about the same time as the Yellow King cycle. Chambers’ juxtaposition of tightly observed mundane detail with the uncanny remains evocative even as he returns again and again to the same twist. Best candidate for little-known gem: “The Messenger.” Rating does not apply to title story, which contains Yellow Peril.—RDL [title story is also just plain ridiculous. –kh]

Okay

Berberian Sound Studio (Film, UK, Peter Strickland, 2012) Nervous sound engineer (Toby Jones) used to working on children’s programmes and nature documentaries travels to Italy to work on a horror film, only to find that the process of mixing its soundtrack takes on the emotional violence of its subject matter. Meta psychological drama styled like a 70s Italian giallo offers too much slow burn, not enough payoff. —RDL

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Film Cannister
Cartoon Rocket
d8
Flying Clock
Robin
Film Cannister