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Archive for February, 2017

Episode 229: Your Perspective on Trees and Badgers

February 17th, 2017 | Robin

The Gaming Hut stands at the service of Patreon backer Vince Arebalo’s son Dax, who asks for tips on getting comfortable around unfamiliar fellow players.

The CIA has finally put its trove of declassified historical documents in a readily accessible online database. In the Tradecraft Hut we find out what Ken searched for first.

Backer Jeremiah Genest commands the opening of the Narrative Hut to talk about political horror, and what distinguishes itself from its better known cousin, the political thriller.

Finally at the behest of backer Doc Cross we take a trip in Ken’s Time Machine to meet the most august Emperor Norton I of San Francisco.

Want to pose questions of your own? Support the KARTAS Patreon!

Snag Ken and Robin merchandise at TeePublic.


Sleepers awake, and travel through the secret pathways of the occulted world to preorder the new edition of Unknown Armies from Atlas Games. From the deluxe printed edition to ebooks in a variety of formats, the weird wonders of UA beckon!

Want to plunge headlong into Lovecraftian mystery, but lack a gaming group? Want to introduce a friend or loved one to the roleplaying hobby? GUMSHOE One-2-One has come to your rescue! Find this new system by some guy named Robin D. Laws, in the line’s flagship title, Cthulhu Confidential. Now pre-ordering at the Pelgrane Press store. 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!

Ken and Robin Consume Media: Space Vampire in the Mumbai Disco

February 14th, 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

Blindsight (Fiction, Peter Watts, 2006) A spaceship crewed by near-transhumans and commanded by a vampire makes first contact in the Oort Cloud while parrying the aliens’ incursion. The genetic reconstruction of an extinct human subspecies of vampires is only about the fifth-wildest concept herein, but it should get you through the door of this classic-style ideas-and-aliens hard SF novel. –KH

Disco Dancer (Film, India, Babbar Subhash, 1982) Now that he’s a rising star as a disco singer/guitarist, a former street musician returns to Mumbai to avenge the false imprisonment of his mother. Simultaneously an exuberant backstage musical and a bloody revenge actioner, in no way contaminated by subtlety. Kooky costumes! Blazing Bollywood funk! Star-crossed romance!  Class consciousness! Unremitting melodrama! Jarring transitions! Separate musical numbers in praise of Krishna and Jesus! A quasi-cover of “Video Killed the Radio Star!” Bump down a notch if you don’t think this is the sort of thing that ought to be 135 minutes long.—RDL

The Locket (Film, US, John Brahm, 1946) A traumatic childhood incident leaves an outwardly poised and charming woman (Laraine Day) with a penchant for jewelry theft and murder, bringing woe to a string of men. Delightfully outre neo-Freudian noir melodrama told in flashbacks within flashbacks.—RDL

Loving (Film, US, Jeff Nichols, 2016) Interracial husband and wife Richard and Mildred Loving (Joel Edgerton, Ruth Negga) struggle to lead ordinary, quiet lives together, which in their home state of Virginia in 1958 is a criminal offense. Subtly engaging biopic succeeds at the tough task of centering a film narrative around undemonstrative protagonists whose goal is to simply be left alone.—RDL

Good

Monsieur Lecoq (Fiction, France, Émile Gaboriau, 1868) Brilliant yet unseasoned policeman investigates the mysterious prisoner behind a wine-shop triple murder, aided by a determined magistrate and an admiring older sidekick. I guess if you invent the police precinct crime novel 90 years before Ed McBain it’s churlish of us to expect you to figure out endings, too. Until then, redolent with then-contemporary Parisian grit and detail.—RDL

Okay

The Accountant (Film, US, Gavin O’Connor, 2016) “High-functioning autistic” accountant (Ben Affleck) built into a killing machine for some reason by his protective father obsessively-compulsively solves a tricky corporate embezzlement problem by murdering his way to the embezzler, who is protected by his own murder team headed by a delightful Jon Bernthal. Also a Treasury agent is hunting Affleck because he works for organized crime and terrorists, but he’s the good guy because he saves Anna Kendrick. Even without the iffy “autism as superpower” thing this movie would be a mess, and only Affleck’s war-against-himself performance (and the suspicion that a real-life Batman would look way more like this guy) holds it together at all. –KH

Phoenix (Film, Germany, Christian Petzold, 2014) After reconstructive surgery to repair injuries suffered in a death camp renders her unrecognizable, a woman who refuses to believe that her husband denounced her to the Nazis seeks him out in Berlin. Twisty melodramatic premise belied by in an overly austere, emotionally withholding directing style.—RDL

Not Recommended

Fury (Film, US, David Ayer, 2014) Traumatized tank crew consisting of gruff sergeant (Brad Pitt), raw recruit (Logan Lerman), preacher man (Shia LaBeouf), meathead (Jon Bernthal), and ethnic guy (Michael Peña) push into Germany during the final desperate days of WWII. The first two acts of war horror would be quite something if they were more than just stake-setting for a third-act shift into ridiculous heroics.—RDL

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (Film, US, Edward Zwick, 2016) Reacher (Tom Cruise) takes a break from walking the land righting wrongs when his contact in the Army’s Military Police (Cobie Smulders) is arrested on trumped-up treason charges. You’ll never guess why: corrupt military contractors! Do they start killing everyone around the case while ineptly threatening Reacher? You bet! Also he needlessly endangers his possible daughter (Danika Yarosh) who then needlessly endangers herself some more. Also there is running and some dull fights. Cruise intentionally mutes his charisma as Reacher, leaving nothing here to surprise or interest anyone who has seen more than three thrillers in their life. –KH

Episode 228: I Assume Someone Has Blood-Typed All the Monkeys

February 10th, 2017 | Robin

In the Gaming Hut we ask ourselves how far rules and GM influence should go to prevent the players from idiot plotting their own characters.

Speaking of gaming the system, esteemed Patreon backer Jeremy Forbing acts as a stalking horse for a certain shadowy figure to convene the Politics Hut. With a mysterious knowledge of Ken’s thought processes, Jeremy asks for his theory on how Trump will destroy the Republican party.

On the Crime Blotter we find a report about Los Angeles organized crime in 1937, which just coincidentally happens to feature in Cthulhu Confidential.

Finally at the behest of backer and Hillfolk illustrator Jan Pospisil, the Eliptony Hut considers the connection between Rhesus blood factor and survivors of Atlantis.

Want to pose questions of your own? Support the KARTAS Patreon!

Snag Ken and Robin merchandise at TeePublic.


Sleepers awake, and travel through the secret pathways of the occulted world to preorder the new edition of Unknown Armies from Atlas Games. From the deluxe printed edition to ebooks in a variety of formats, the weird wonders of UA beckon!

Want to plunge headlong into Lovecraftian mystery, but lack a gaming group? Want to introduce a friend or loved one to the roleplaying hobby? GUMSHOE One-2-One has come to your rescue! Find this new system by some guy named Robin D. Laws, in the line’s flagship title, Cthulhu Confidential. Now pre-ordering at the Pelgrane Press store. 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!

Ken and Robin Consume Media: Crime, Guilt and Troglodytes

February 7th, 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

Manchester By the Sea (Film, US, Kenneth Lonergan, 2016) After his brother dies, a closed-off custodian (Casey Affleck) discovers he’s been appointed guardian of his teenage nephew, which would require him to move back to the town that suffocates him with the guilt of his tragic past. Powerfully rendered drama without a frame of sentimental fakery.—RDL

Recommended

3 Story: The Secret History of the Giant Man (Comics, Matt Kindt, 2009) The stories of the “World’s Tallest Man” told (in Kindt’s loose watercolor) by his mother, wife, and daughter — including his brief career with the CIA. The result is a weird cross between Roald Dahl and Graham Greene. –KH

Black Dahlia (Comics, Rick Geary, 2016) The latest in Geary’s precise, controlled evocations of famous crimes reconstructs Elizabeth Short’s life and the investigation of her death. While the words give “just the facts,” Geary’s art bursts with life and emotion. –KH

Bone Tomahawk (Film, US, S. Craig Zahler, 2015) When troglodytes abduct a woman (Lili Simmons) and a deputy from the town jail, her injured husband (Patrick Wilson), a taciturn sheriff (Kurt Russell), an arrogant Indian killer (Matthew Fox) and a talkative old-timer (Richard Jenkins) head into the wilderness to effect a rescue. Nerdtroped men-on-a-mission Western ably combines, in a sentence I do not believe I am writing, Charles Portis-style dialogue and cannibal horror.—RDL

Very Semi-Serious (Film, US, Leah Wolchok, 2015) Documentary profiles Bob Mankoff, cartoon editor of The New Yorker, and its roster of cartoonists, from still-active nonagenarian George Booth to the latest up-and-comers. Informative look inside the creative and professional process of the nichiest of niche markets.—RDL

Good

The Book of Negroes (TV mini-series, Canada, Clement Virgo, 2015) Former slave Aminata Diallo (Aunjanue Ellis) recounts the events of her life, from capture as a child in Africa, to servitude in the US south and quasi-freedom in New York City and Nova Scotia, to a group of English abolitionists. Solid if inevitably softened adaptation of the Lawrence Hill novel, which you may know by its former US title, Somebody Knows My Name.—RDL

Okay

A Little Chaos (Film, UK, Alan Rickman, 2014) A woman working in the man’s field of landscape architecture (Kate Winslet) gets a rare opportunity to design an innovative fountain for Louis XIV (Alan Rickman) at Versailles. Although this period drama’s unfocused script fails to properly establish and develop the protagonist’s dramatic conflict, it does turn suddenly magical whenever Winslet and Rickman share a scene together.—RDL

Not Recommended

The Courtesan and the Gigolo: The Murders in the Rue Montaigne and the Dark Side of Empire in Nineteenth-Century Paris (Nonfiction, Aaron Freundschuh, 2017) Account of a sensational 1887 murder trial that sent a handsome foreigner to the guillotine, probably unjustly, for the murder of a prosperous demimondaine. Awkward hybrid of historical true crime and boilerplate academic analysis.—RDL

Episode 227: Other Buopoths Do

February 3rd, 2017 | Robin

Another all-request episode starts in the Gaming Hut, where Patreon backer Gerald Sear wants us to consider the Mythos implications of the Disney corporation.

Then assemble your miniature greenhouses and sail over to the History Hut, where we make up interesting facts about botanist and tea smuggler Robert Fortune at the behest of backer Steve Sick.

Backer Theron Bretz revs up the projector in the Cinema Hut, as we tackle Spy Movies 101.

Then the Consulting Occultist unfurls some alchemical wisdom on a Paul Tevis request for the skinny on the Ripley Scrolls.

Want to pose questions of your own? Support the KARTAS Patreon!

Snag Ken and Robin merchandise at TeePublic.

Get yourself some flat plastic Ken and Robin miniatures by supporting Arcknight’s Flat Plastic Miniatures 2 Kickstarter.


Sleepers awake, and travel through the secret pathways of the occulted world to preorder the new edition of Unknown Armies from Atlas Games. From the deluxe printed edition to ebooks in a variety of formats, the weird wonders of UA beckon!

Want to plunge headlong into Lovecraftian mystery, but lack a gaming group? Want to introduce a friend or loved one to the roleplaying hobby? GUMSHOE One-2-One has come to your rescue! Find this new system by some guy named Robin D. Laws, in the line’s flagship title, Cthulhu Confidential. Now pre-ordering at the Pelgrane Press store. 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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Robin
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