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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Zombies, Mutants and a Post-Con Nap

August 22nd, 2017 | 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

GenCon (Convention, US, Peter Adkison, Adrian Swartout, et al., 2017) shhh … don’t wake the podcasters … they’re very very tired … shhh –KH & RDL

The Girl With All the Gifts (Film, UK, Colm McCarthy, 2016) The titular girl is Melanie (Sennia Nanua) and among her gifts are politeness, eidetic memory, and symbiosis with the zombie plague. What could have gone wrong or remained routine with a lazier treatment becomes a mythic journey worthy of Matheson and Romero. Gorgeously lensed by Simon Dennis, and surgically scripted by M.R. Carey, this is easily the best zombie film since 28 Days Later. –KH

Recommended

Logan (Film, US, James Mangold, 2017) An aging Wolverine intent on protecting an ailing Professor X becomes grudging protector to a young girl whose healing powers, and claws, echo his own. To make an elegiac super-hero movie, Mangold looks to the elegiac western for a story dense with parental bonds, few of them literal.—RDL

Orphan Black Season 5 (Television, Canada, Graeme Manson and John Fawcett, BBC America) As the supposedly immortal founder of Neolution (Stephen McHattie) steps from the shadows, the clones (Tatiana Maslany) make a final bid for freedom. In a great example of a concluding season done right, the show narrows the focus of its conspiracy plotline and saves plenty of room for character beats.–RDL

Good

By the Gun (Fiction, Richard Matheson, 1993) Reprinting four of Matheson’s Western tales from the 1950s magazines with two more recent stories, this collection shows off a sure hand with plot and character, but without the startling originality of Matheson’s horror and SF. Even in the 1950s, the prose Western was descending into kabuki, though, and these still perform well. –KH

Folktales of Brittany (Nonfiction, Elsie Masson, 1929) Quest and faerie motifs predominate in this selection of folk stories from France’s most distinctively haunted region. Packed with bizarre imagery, told in an accessible if sometimes twee fairy tale voice. If Gary had read this in 1977 we’d all own miniatures of snake-maned lions.—RDL

The Republic of Cthulhu (Nonfiction, Eric Wilson, 2016) Wilson applies somewhat jargon-y theory to Lovecraft, seeing in HPL’s anti-Kantian marriage of the sublime and the grotesque a model or precursor poetics of parapolitics; the recognition that humanism is as dead in political theory as it is in science and art. One doesn’t have to follow Wilson all the way to any of his conclusions (and his gibbering about 9/11 is particularly unproductive) to find valuable insights into Lovecraft’s aesthetics and its commonalities with both clandestine politics and conspiracist poetics. –KH

Engagingly Terrible

The Return of Dr. X (Film, US, Vincent Sherman, 1939) Maverick reporter stumbles onto the trail of a death-reversing doctor and his monstrous first subject (Humphrey Bogart), who happens to be the madder of the two scientists. Wisecracking journalist mystery that takes a swerve into sci-horror is infamous for the worst miscasting in cinema history, saddling Bogey with a role that should have gone to Lorre or Lugosi. It also shows how much assured direction, here from undersung stylist Sherman, can do to turn a nonsense pile of script pages into something watchable.—RDL

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[Repost] Episode 255: The Devil’s Condiment

August 19th, 2017 | Robin

The Gaming Hut goes inside the design process as Robin discovers he wants to make a humble sub-system a little less humble.

The Food Hut goes inside the casing as Ken waxes rhapsodic on the history and virtues of the Chicago hot dog.

Ask Ken and Robin goes inside the business as Patreon backer David Shaw drops a query about getting one’s game published.

Finally the Consulting Occultist goes inside, uh Posadism, as backer Stewart Robertson asks about Posadism.

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.


In Unknown Armies, Atlas Games’ modern-day, occult roleplaying game, you play the heroically broken people who conspire to fix the world. That conspiracy just got easier, with the arrival of the game on store shelves near you!

The book has been written. The book has been read. Now it rewrites you. Across time it spreads, creating dread new realities. And you’re in all of them. Robin’s epic new GUMSHOE project, The Yellow King Roleplaying Game has concluded its Kickstarter run, but is now available for pre-order at the Pelgrane Store for those who missed it.

Do intervals between episodes plunge you into Hite withdrawal? Never fear! 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.

John Scott Tynes’ Puppetland is ready to knock the stuffing out of a game store near you in its gorgeous new full-color hardcover edition. Join the good folks at Arc Dream in battling the horrific forces of Punch the Maker-Killer!

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Episode 255: The Devil’s Condiment

August 18th, 2017 | Robin

The Gaming Hut goes inside the design process as Robin discovers he wants to make a humble sub-system a little less humble.

The Food Hut goes inside the casing as Ken waxes rhapsodic on the history and virtues of the Chicago hot dog.

Ask Ken and Robin goes inside the business as Patreon backer David Shaw drops a query about getting one’s game published.

Finally the Consulting Occultist goes inside, uh Posadism, as backer Stewart Robertson asks about Posadism.

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.


In Unknown Armies, Atlas Games’ modern-day, occult roleplaying game, you play the heroically broken people who conspire to fix the world. That conspiracy just got easier, with the arrival of the game on store shelves near you!

The book has been written. The book has been read. Now it rewrites you. Across time it spreads, creating dread new realities. And you’re in all of them. Robin’s epic new GUMSHOE project, The Yellow King Roleplaying Game has concluded its Kickstarter run, but is now available for pre-order at the Pelgrane Store for those who missed it.

Do intervals between episodes plunge you into Hite withdrawal? Never fear! 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.

John Scott Tynes’ Puppetland is ready to knock the stuffing out of a game store near you in its gorgeous new full-color hardcover edition. Join the good folks at Arc Dream in battling the horrific forces of Punch the Maker-Killer!

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Episode 254: Snouted Meepers

August 11th, 2017 | Robin

We clatter our dice and thump our miniatures in the Gaming Hut, considering a Patreon backer Travis Johnson question about what to do when the players break the tone they asked you to instill.

With a Kickstarter and then a vacation, Robin hasn’t been paying attention to the news lately. So he meets Ken in the Tradecraft Hut on the off chance anything has happened on the espionage front his summer.

In the Cinema Hut, Patreon backer Nancy Feldman wants us to talk about our favorite pulp movies.

Finally Patreon backer Mike Marlow wants to know why Ken’s Time Machine was sighted near the great Boston molasses flood of 1919.

This week we have a special contest thanks to Petersen Games and its Kickstarter for Cthulhu Wars Onslaught 3. Patrons, head on over to the contest page and follow the instructions to enter a draw to win one of four rare, glow-in-the-dark Yellow King figures.

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.


In Unknown Armies, Atlas Games’ modern-day, occult roleplaying game, you play the heroically broken people who conspire to fix the world. That conspiracy just got easier, with the arrival of the game on store shelves near you! The book has been written. The book has been read. Now it rewrites you. Across time it spreads, creating dread new realities. And you’re in all of them. Robin’s epic new GUMSHOE project, The Yellow King Roleplaying Game has concluded its Kickstarter run, but is now available for pre-order at the Pelgrane Store for those who missed it. Do intervals between episodes plunge you into Hite withdrawal? Never fear! 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. John Scott Tynes’ Puppetland is ready to knock the stuffing out of a game store near you in its gorgeous new full-color hardcover edition. Join the good folks at Arc Dream in battling the horrific forces of Punch the Maker-Killer!

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Count Your Hyenas or Declare Your Insufferability with New KARTAS Shirts

August 9th, 2017 | Robin

Ken and Robin are proud to announce the latest additions to their TeePublic merchandise store.

Wear these new designs as nature intended, or emblazon them on mugs, notebooks or phone cases.

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Ken and Robin Consume Media: A Blonde, Some Apes, and Boccaccio

August 8th, 2017 | 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

Atomic Blonde (Film, US, David Leitch, 2017) Taking the neon gloss from Drive, the brutalist violence from Oldboy, the action tracking shot from Children of Men, the soundtrack from my mixtape circa 1988, and the plot from a random jar of jellybeans, Leitch’s first solo film makes a virtue of its amphigorous nature. Without Charlize Theron’s literally long-suffering performance, this would be shiny but forgettable; with her anchoring it, it leaves a deeper bruise. –KH

Detroit (Film, US, Kathryn Bigelow, 2017) A dozen characters’ lives cross at the Algiers Motel during the 1967 Detroit riots. The first three acts, filmed in verite Steadicam, build toward an intensely horrifying scenario that the more impressionistic finale doesn’t really pay off, but not every true story ends in catharsis … which is kind of the point. –KH

Letters to Arkham: The Letters of Ramsey Campbell and August Derleth 1961 to 1971 (Nonfiction, S.T. Joshi, ed., 2014) Painfully adolescent horror nerd Campbell writes to his hero’s publisher, and a strange friendship develops, ended only by Derleth’s death. You can almost taste Derleth’s seemingly instant decision to pay Lovecraft’s kindness to him forward, and his reward for his decency was the blossoming of the true successor to HPL that Derleth could never become. Poignant and revealing, with an affecting afterword by Campbell. –KH

The Little Hours (Film, US, Jeff Baena, 2017) In medieval Italy, a fugitive from his cuckolded master’s justice (Dave Franco) poses as a convent’s new deaf mute handyman, arousing the ardor of a trio of less than dedicated young nuns (Alison Brie, Aubrey Plaza, Kate Micucci). Boccaccio adaptation uses contemporary dialogue and cadence to keep period fustiness at bay. John C. Reilly stands out among a strong comedy cast as a lax, befuddled priest.—RDL

War For the Planet of the Apes (Film, US, Matt Reeves, 2017) Ape leader Caesar (Andy Serkis) forsakes his people for a quest of personal vengeance against megalomaniacal human military commander (Woody Harrelson.) Although John Ford leads the pack as a reference point here, you could structure an entire undergrad course around this fantasy action thriller’s densely layered selection of historical, cinematic and biblical allusions.—RDL

Good

The Graveyard Apartment (Fiction, Mariko Koike, 1993) Supernatural manifestations slowly escalate after a Tokyo couple with a young daughter moves into an apartment in an oddly under-occupied new building overlooking a cemetery and crematorium. Follows the current fashion of undergirding the haunted house tale with real estate anxiety and the J-horror technique of mixing the horrifying with the mundane. Finds an array of novel ways for ghosts to torment the living.—RDL

The Trip to Spain (Film, UK, Michael Winterbottom, 2017) Somewhat fictionalized versions of Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon again use a restaurant tour, this time of Spain, as an opportunity to riff, needle one another, and one-up each other’s impressions. The badinage never quite explodes into a comic set piece this time, leaving room for a heightened dose of the melancholy strain found in the series’ previous installments.—RDL

Quiet Please, Murder! (Film, US, John Larkin, 1942) While trying to tie off loose ends from a sale of a forged Shakespeare folio to a Nazi agent, a fence (Gail Patrick) gets trapped in a public library between her lover the forger (a super-oily George Sanders), the Nazis, and a private eye (Richard Denning). Weirdly zippy proto-noir rockets along on bottle drama and book-stack chases with the occasional languorous pause to discuss Freud and masochism. –KH

Okay

The Alexander Inheritance (Fiction, Eric Flint, Gorg Huff, and Paula Goodlett, 2017) A top-of-the-line cruise ship is somehow teleported back in time to the Mediterranean in 321 BC and gets involved in the wranglings of Alexander the Great’s successors. Flint’s collaborators haven’t got his bravura ability to bang out prose that keeps the pulse and pages racing, so the lack of real characters (aside perhaps from Queen Roxane) or dramatic payoff is much more noticeable here; the too-numerous points of view and the abrupt ending imply this is intended as the first in an endless 1632-style series. –KH

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Episode 253: That’s More of a Gloss on Aristotle

August 4th, 2017 | Robin

The Gaming Hut falls all over itself answering a question from Patreon backer Daniel Krauklis: “What does the choice to have fumbles in your rules that tell us about your game and the moral universe in which the characters operate?”

We fortify the Cartography Hut for a workshop on designing strategic locations into your world.

How to Write Good examines tragedy and anagnorisis.

And the Consulting Occultist gets all semiotic to reply to a query from Patreon backer Polydamas on what the Secret Masters were up to when they invented post-modernism.

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.


In Unknown Armies, Atlas Games’ modern-day, occult roleplaying game, you play the heroically broken people who conspire to fix the world. That conspiracy just got easier, with the arrival of the game on store shelves near you!

The book has been written. The book has been read. Now it rewrites you. Across time it spreads, creating dread new realities. And you’re in all of them. Robin’s epic new GUMSHOE project, The Yellow King Roleplaying Game has concluded its Kickstarter run, but is now available for pre-order at the Pelgrane Store for those who missed it. (You think you hear us say Backerkit in the ad in this episode, but that’s just a reality shattering manifestation caused by your exposure to the Yellow Sign. Please bear with us as we clear that up.) Do intervals between episodes plunge you into Hite withdrawal? Never fear! 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. John Scott Tynes’ Puppetland is ready to knock the stuffing out of a game store near you in its gorgeous new full-color hardcover edition. Join the good folks at Arc Dream in battling the horrific forces of Punch the Maker-Killer!

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Ken and Robin Consume Media: French Murder, American Bunco

August 1st, 2017 | 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

Deadlier Than the Male (aka A Time for Murder) (Film, France, Jean Duvivier, 1956) Beloved chef (Jean Gabin) fails to suspect a grift when he welcomes his ex-wife’s daughter (Danièle Delorme) into his home. Gallic noir builds to some sharply lurid sequences while giving its femme fatale greater complexity than the archetype generally affords.—RDL

Denial (Film, UK, Mick Jackson, 2016) When holocaust denier David Irving (Timothy Spall) sues her for libel in a British court, American academic Deborah Lipstadt (Rachel Weisz) finds it hard to trust her legal team’s buttoned-down strategy. David Hare’s script finds the throughline for this real-life legal procedural in the clash between passionate truth-telling and dispassionate pursuit of victory.—RDL

The Mark Inside: A Perfect Swindle, a Cunning Revenge, and a Small History of the Big Con (Nonfiction, Amy Reading, 2012) In the late teens and early 20s, Texas rancher J. Frank Norfleet, swindled by a team of confidence men in a classic big con, fills his holsters with guns and embarks on an epic quest to find them and put them all away. Reading separates truth from embellishment in this engaging historical account, which widens out as needed to tell the story of American swindling from Ben Franklin’s day to the opening decades of the 20th century.—RDL

Spider-Man: Homecoming (Film, US, Jon Watts, 2017) Peter Parker’s efforts to prove himself to newfound father figure Tony Stark get him in over his head with a crew of super-tech hijackers led by a disgruntled small businessman (Michael Keaton.) Have to admire a take on a mega-tentpole franchise that says, “You know what this property really needs? A smaller scale and lower stakes,” and then delivers on precisely that.—RDL

Things Fall Apart (Fiction, Chinua Achebe, 1958) Bullying Igbo patriarch’s determination to prove himself unlike his feckless father faces the ultimate obstacle when white men arrive to introduce their religion and impose their law. Complicates its narrative of cultural dissolution under colonialism by presenting it through the perspective of a profoundly flawed protagonist.—RDL

Good

Told After Supper (Fiction, Jerome K. Jerome, 1891) Short linked collection of comic ghost stories that mostly exist to subvert the stereotypical Victorian “Christmas ghost story” narrative. Jerome’s prose bounces along and it’s a rapid, short read, but I suspect most people haven’t read enough bad Victorian ghost tales to get much charge from his gentle parody. –KH

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (Film, France, Luc Besson, 2017) Based on a comic I haven’t read, Besson’s bright, optimistic SFstravaganza stars Cara Delevingne (surprisingly good in the role) and Dane DeHaan (thickly unappealing) as agents of the Human Federation drawn into a nefarious, and somewhat over-exposited, plot. Very much the successor of Besson’s zany and underrated Fifth Element, Valerian has much the same energy and momentum, though slightly less anarchic freedom. If you love Besson’s vision like I do, call it Recommended, but Dane DeHaan is sadly no Bruce Willis. –KH

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Episode 252: A Different, Less Pear-Like Shape

July 28th, 2017 | Robin

Are your modern investigators getting cocky? Join us in the Gaming Hut as we riff a rival team to toss some sand in their gears.

The Cartography Hut looks at the process of mapping fictional cities, like those invented by H. P. Lovecraft.

In Ask Ken and Robin, John Scheib wants to know about habits of mind to transition from OSR to narrative style gaming.

Then we stand in proximity to Ken’s Time Machine as we learn why our hero had to borrow the white doe of Sertorius.

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.


In Unknown Armies, Atlas Games’ modern-day, occult roleplaying game, you play the heroically broken people who conspire to fix the world. That conspiracy just got easier, with the arrival of the game on store shelves near you!

The book has been written. The book has been read. Now it rewrites you. Across time it spreads, creating dread new realities. And you’re in all of them. Robin’s epic new GUMSHOE project, The Yellow King Roleplaying Game has concluded its Kickstarter run, but is now available for pre-order at the Pelgrane Store for those who missed it. (You think you hear us say Backerkit in the ad in this episode, but that’s just a reality shattering manifestation caused by your exposure to the Yellow Sign. Please bear with us as we clear that up.) Do intervals between episodes plunge you into Hite withdrawal? Never fear! 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. John Scott Tynes’ Puppetland is ready to knock the stuffing out of a game store near you in its gorgeous new full-color hardcover edition. Join the good folks at Arc Dream in battling the horrific forces of Punch the Maker-Killer!

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Get on the Bus! Tour de Lovecraft: The Destinations Kickstarter Has Launched

July 26th, 2017 | KenH

As heard on this very podcast, I and Atomic Overmind Press are launching — nay, have already launched — the Kickstarter for my book Tour de Lovecraft: the Destinations, the sequel to my much beloved volume Tour de Lovecraft: the Tales. Drop by the Kickstarter and back us if you care to, and we would be ever so grateful if you shared the Kickstarter link wherever you find the media most sociable.

Gotta go, that bus isn’t going to drive itself!

NARRATOR: The bus is going to drive itself.

 

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Film Cannister
Cartoon Rocket
d8
Flying Clock
Robin
Film Cannister