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Archive for June, 2018

Episode 298: Now We’re Just Gygaxing

June 22nd, 2018 | Robin

Having both recently moved big projects off our plates and into post-production, we convene in the Gaming Hut to look at lessons and surprises from our design work on Vampire: the Masquerade 5th Edition and The Yellow King Roleplaying Game.

In the Horror Hut, we respond to the wish of Patreon backer Stephen Perpitch-Harvey to talk about jinn.

Among My Many Hats has Robin donning the headgear of an ancient horse clan to talk about Six Ages: Ride Like the Wind, the new iOS game follow-up to King of Dragon Pass, featuring nine novels worth of his writing.  Send your Swords and Bows to the pre-order now.

Finally the Consulting Occultist opens a perilous tome to tell us about Reginald Scot and The Discoverie of Witchcraft.

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.


Join the intrigue of the Cursed Court, the award-festooned, quick-playing, gorgeous new board game from Atlas Games. Anticipate the moves of the King, Queen, Priestess and Assassin in the game Bruno Faidutti calls “an unexpected masterwork.” Ken’s latest roleplaying game, The Fall of Delta Green, is now available for preorder from Atlas Games. Journey to the head-spinning chaos of the late 1960s, back when everyone’s favorite anti-Cthulhu special ops agent hadn’t gone rogue yet, for this pulse-pounding GUMSHOE game of war, covert action, and Mythos horror.

Grab the translated riches of FENIX magazine in a special bundle deal from our friends at Askfageln, over at Indie Press Revolution. Score metric oodles of Ken Hite gaming goodness, a cornucopia of articles, complete games, plus the cartoon antics of Bernard the Barbarian. Warning: in English, not in Swedish. In English, not Swedish.

Just in time to save the world (though maybe not your team of hardened covert agents) from the Cthulhu Mythos, the Delta Green Handlers Guide from Arc Dream Publishing is now in print and either at or headed to a game store near you. The slipcase print edition includes both the Handlers’ Guide and Agents’ Handbook, fitting snugly into your go bag along with your extra passports and list of weapons caches.

Episode 297: Walrus Revenge

June 15th, 2018 | Robin

Do gamers like choice more than ordinary humans? We raised the question several episodes back, and now it’s all grown up into its very own Gaming Hut segment.

In the Tradecraft Hut we look at the espionage allegations leveled against the Chinese telecom giant ZTE.

Then the time comes for a brand new segment, the T-Shirt Justification Hut, in which we prepare you for the wearable terror of Walrus Revenge. Grab the shirt here!

Finally the Eliptony Hut augments its customary tinfoil hat with a bell-bottoms and platform shoes as Patreon backer Stacy Forsythe wants to know why the 70s was such a high water mark for weirdness studies.

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.


Join the intrigue of the Cursed Court, the award-festooned, quick-playing, gorgeous new board game from Atlas Games. Anticipate the moves of the King, Queen, Priestess and Assassin in the game Bruno Faidutti calls “an unexpected masterwork.”

Ken’s latest roleplaying game, The Fall of Delta Green, is now available for preorder from Atlas Games. Journey to the head-spinning chaos of the late 1960s, back when everyone’s favorite anti-Cthulhu special ops agent hadn’t gone rogue yet, for this pulse-pounding GUMSHOE game of war, covert action, and Mythos horror.

Grab the translated riches of FENIX magazine in a special bundle deal from our friends at Askfageln, over at Indie Press Revolution. Score metric oodles of Ken Hite gaming goodness, a cornucopia of articles, complete games, plus the cartoon antics of Bernard the Barbarian. Warning: in English, not in Swedish. In English, not Swedish.

With your Handlers Guide already at your side, it’s time to assemble some operations to spiral your Delta Green operatives into paranoia and Mythos horror. Delta Green: A Night at the Opera features six terrifying adventures from the conspiratorial minds of Dennis Detwiller, Shane Ivey, and Greg Stolze. Preorder before it’s desperately too late!

Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff: Grim, Gritty Crime and the Cat in the Hat

June 12th, 2018 | 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

13 Tzameti (Film, France, Géla Babluani, 2005) Young roofer stiffed by the death of a junkie client takes over the man’s mysterious mission, leading him to a deadly game. B&W photography, loosely paced first act, and motifs of alienation and solitary danger hearken back to the indie aesthetic of the mid-80s.—RDL

American Animals (Film, US, Bart Layton, 2018) Based on the true story of a 2004 rare book theft from Transylvania University in Kentucky, Layton interweaves talking-head commentary by the real thieves into his engaging — then riveting — heist film. (Anne Nikitin’s score drives the rivets home.) The resulting deliberate metafictions point up all manner of contrasts: between art and life, memory and truth, and yes wrong and right. Kudos to Layton for risking ruining a good movie to make a pretty great one. –KH

The Annotated Cat: Under the Hats of Seuss and His Cats (Nonfiction, Philip Nel, 2007) Thoroughly annotated edition of The Cat in the Hat and The Cat in the Hat Came Back provides deeper insight into Dr. Seuss’ process, children’s publishing in the 1950s, and the nature of Voom. –KH

Atomic Blonde (Film, US, David Leitch, 2017) M16 badass Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) sent to courier a list of enemy agents from late 80s Berlin fights her way through a tangle of betrayals centered around rogue agent David Percival (James McAvoy.) Combines hard fight choreography with neon-saturated grit and paranoia. Kudos for staging its defining action set piece in mid-film.—RDL

Good

Borrowed Time (Fiction, Jack Campbell, 2016) A collection of competent to fine time-travel stories, some of them sharing a linked “T.I.” universe and some merely serving as excuses to talk history to SF readers. (NTTAWTT) I liked “Betty Knox and Dictionary Jones in the Mystery of the Missing Teenage Anachronisms” beyond its merits, I suspect, but the high camp adventure of “These Are the Times” and “Working on Borrowed Time” is nigh irresistible. –KH

Dark of the Moon (Fiction, John Dickson Carr, 1967) In his last appearance, Dr. Gideon Fell must unravel the impossible murder of a mathematician amidst the emotionally charged atmosphere of his South Carolina house. Carr occasionally disguises a murder mystery as a door-slamming farce, and he returns to those rhythms here in Dr. Fell’s familiar Gothic register. Carr’s dialogue, always somewhat theatrical, seems borderline ridiculous here, but plot and tension do their work well. –KH

Okay

Papa Là-Bas (Fiction, John Dickson Carr, 1968) Future Confederate Secretary of State Judah Benjamin solves a Voodoo-soaked impossible murder in 1858 New Orleans. Generally considered Carr’s worst book, its sole strength is period research; even his reliable plot propeller scrapes bottom in this one. The characters solely exist to shout at each other, burst through doors suddenly, and interrupt the detective-ing when they’re not soft-pedaling slavery. –KH

What Price Hollywood? (Film, US, George Cukor, 1932) Actress (Constance Bennett) rises to movie stardom as the director who discovered her (Lowell Sherman) spirals into alcoholism. Full of great early Hollywood atmosphere, though the extremely charming Bennett is stronger in the lighter early acts than when the melodrama kicks in. The ‘37, ‘54, ‘76 and upcoming ‘18 versions of A Star is Born are all uncredited remakes of this—the fifties Garland one also directed by Cukor. See Neil Hamilton, Commissioner Gordon from the 60s Batman show, in his dashing leading man phase as Bennett’s husband.—RDL

Episode 296: Build a Crummy Robot and Call It Gnostic

June 8th, 2018 | Robin

Not by chance do we start in the Gaming Hut, for a look at the role of coincidence in various mystery genres.

Then at the behest of Patreon backer Stewart Robertson we duck into the secret recesses of the Mythology Hut for a 101 on Gnosticism.

In Ask Ken and Robin, backer Aaron Galen White wants Robin to tell him more about Don DeLillo’s Zero K, and the treatment of genre tropes in literary fiction.

Then Ken’s Time Machine revs up to see, at the request of backer Jacob Boersma, what a timeline without the Chernobyl disaster would look like.

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.


Join the intrigue of the Cursed Court, the award-festooned, quick-playing, gorgeous new board game from Atlas Games. Anticipate the moves of the King, Queen, Priestess and Assassin in the game Bruno Faidutti calls “an unexpected masterwork.”

Ken’s latest roleplaying game, The Fall of Delta Green, is now available for preorder from Atlas Games. Journey to the head-spinning chaos of the late 1960s, back when everyone’s favorite anti-Cthulhu special ops agent hadn’t gone rogue yet, for this pulse-pounding GUMSHOE game of war, covert action, and Mythos horror.

Grab the translated riches of FENIX magazine in a special bundle deal from our friends at Askfageln, over at Indie Press Revolution. Score metric oodles of Ken Hite gaming goodness, a cornucopia of articles, complete games, plus the cartoon antics of Bernard the Barbarian. Warning: in English, not in Swedish. In English, not Swedish.

With your Handlers Guide already at your side, it’s time to assemble some operations to spiral your Delta Green operatives into paranoia and Mythos horror. Delta Green: A Night at the Opera features six terrifying adventures from the conspiratorial minds of Dennis Detwiller, Shane Ivey, and Greg Stolze. Preorder before it’s desperately too late!

Ken and Robin Consume Media: The Americans Ends; Han Solo Begins

June 5th, 2018 | Robin


Ken and Robin Consume Media is brought to you by the discriminating and good-looking backers of the Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff Patreon. Each week we provide capsule reviews of the books, movies, TV seasons and more we cram into our hyper-analytical sensoriums. Join the Patreon to help pick the items we’ll talk about in greater depth on a little podcast segment we like to call Tell Me More.

The Pinnacle

The Americans Season 6 (TV, FX, Joe Weisberg, 2018) The best show on television ends its run with the end of the Cold War and a final reckoning for Soviet sleeper agents Philip and Elizabeth Jennings (Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell, even better in those roles now if you can believe it). A three-year jump from Season 5 provides the perfect launch pad for a final season that recapitulates the series’ meaning while flipping its narrative on its head, and never taking the direction you expect. –KH

Recommended

Barry Season 1 (TV, HBO, Alec Berg and Bill Hader, 2017) To the consternation of his surrogate uncle-slash-manager, a malleable hit man (Bill Hader) enrolls in an L.A. acting class. Squeezes fresh energy from the collision of two otherwise well-worn sub-genres, with a dark moral wallop at the heart of its squirm comedy.—RDL

Dark Star Rising: Magic and Power in the Age of Trump (Nonfiction, Gary Lachman, 2018) Traces the influence of such esoteric beliefs as New Thought, chaos magick, Traditionalism, and biospherism on the burgeoning forces of international post-modern authoritarianism. Ties its threads together with clarity, erudition, and the rueful alarm felt when a chronicler of occult and fringe topics sees his work becoming suddenly topical. (An unease shared, needless to say, by a couple of podcasters I could name.)—RDL

The Final Master (Film, China, Xu Haofeng, 2015) Laconic wing chun master attempting to establish a martial arts academy in the northern city of Tianjin discovers that the deadliest fights occur behind the scenes. Invests the bare bones of 70s fu fight tropes with languorous style and covert, Brechtian political allegory.—RDL

Good

Department Q: Keeper of Lost Causes (Film, Denmark, Mikkel Nørgaard, 2013) After a stubborn misstep gets one partner killed and the other paralyzed, a brooding homicide detective (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) gets downgraded to cold case duty, where he and his upbeat but disregarded new partner (Fares Fares) take a more hands-on approach to a bureaucrat’s disappearance than his superiors intend. Well-crafted, straight-up treatment of police procedural tropes uses a flashback structure to interweave the events of the crime with its investigation. First of a trilogy.—RDL

Okay

Martin Roumagnac (Film, France, Georges Lacombe, 1946) Small-town construction contractor (Jean Gabin) falls hard for a scandalous young widow (Marlene Dietrich) whose con man uncle hopes to marry her off to a freshly widowed diplomat. Engaging when its two great stars share the screen, not so much when it turns into a by-the-numbers courtroom drama. Also known as The Room Upstairs.—RDL

Solo: A Star Wars Story (Film, US, Ron Howard, 2018) Street rat Han (Alden Ehrenreich) has a creakily paced origin story that provides him with all of Han Solo’s trappings but little of his personality. I’m a fan of Ehrenreich, who plays his thankless Lazenby role as well as possible — he’d make a better rebooted Indy, on this showing. The one element I was sure would never work, Han’s friendship with Chewbacca, actually sold me. But the endless endless callbacks and fan servicings (and Ron Howard’s staid direction) drain much of the zip out of what could have been a really neat B-movie set in the Star Wars universe, if only it had been called Frelbeg: A Star Wars Story and been about literally anybody else in the galaxy. –KH

Not Recommended

Solo: A Star Wars Story (Film, US, Ron Howard, 2018) Brash street kid Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) joins a team of energy thieves in a bid to rescue his first love, who has her own survival plans. Fun intermittently breaks out when given the breathing room to be a heist flick in the Star Wars universe, but mostly this is an unnecessary origin story that both over-references and undercuts the ‘77 classic. Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian demonstrates it’s better to be asked to channel Billy Dee Williams than Harrison Ford.—RDL

Episode 295: That’s Why They Call It Ichor

June 1st, 2018 | Robin

 

Another all-request episode begins in the Gaming Hut, where Patreon backer David Shaw wants us to turn supermarket tokens into an eldritch menace.

In the Architecture Hut Ken fills us in on the Chicago Spire Pit, at the behest of backer Neal Kaplan.

Backer Steve Sick joins us in the plush seating of the Cinema Hut for a samurai film 101.

And Ash Jackson is the Scrollbard meets us in the parlor of the Consulting Occultist to get each of us to circumscribe a sacred alphabet.

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.


Join the intrigue of the Cursed Court, the award-festooned, quick-playing, gorgeous new board game from Atlas Games. Anticipate the moves of the King, Queen, Priestess and Assassin in the game Bruno Faidutti calls “an unexpected masterwork.”

Ken’s latest roleplaying game, The Fall of Delta Green, is now available for preorder from Atlas Games. Journey to the head-spinning chaos of the late 1960s, back when everyone’s favorite anti-Cthulhu special ops agent hadn’t gone rogue yet, for this pulse-pounding GUMSHOE game of war, covert action, and Mythos horror.

Grab the translated riches of FENIX magazine in a special bundle deal from our friends at Askfageln, over at Indie Press Revolution. Score metric oodles of Ken Hite gaming goodness, a cornucopia of articles, complete games, plus the cartoon antics of Bernard the Barbarian. Warning: in English, not in Swedish. In English, not Swedish.

With your Handlers Guide already at your side, it’s time to assemble some operations to spiral your Delta Green operatives into paranoia and Mythos horror. Delta Green: A Night at the Opera features six terrifying adventures from the conspiratorial minds of Dennis Detwiller, Shane Ivey, and Greg Stolze. Preorder before it’s desperately too late!

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Robin
Film Cannister