Grimoire
Cthulhu
Dracula
Abraham Lincoln
Ken
Grimoire

Archive for September, 2020

Episode 413: Live from Gen Con Online

September 18th, 2020 | Robin

Convention season has gone into hibernation, but that didn’t stop us from doing a live episode at Gen Con Online. The Nerdtrope deck served up a duplicate, but that didn’t stop us from sticking in a ringer. Robin’s Internet was spotty, but that didn’t stop Ken from vamping in his absence. Robin’s mic had to be closer to his humming desktop than a normal episode, but that didn’t stop heroic audio editor Rob Borges from saving the technical day! Join us in not stopping the show as we all dream of a return to in-person events.

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-person Renaissance Faires are off the table for the moment, but what can be on your table, at a limited-time steal price is Ren Faire, Atlas Games’ hilarious card game of competitive historical costuming. Grab it for a stunning 40% off with the voucher code PANTALOONS.

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.

Ken and Robin Consume Media: Hollywood Archaeology and new Charlie Kaufman

September 15th, 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

Dolce Vita Confidential: Fellini, Loren, Pucci, Paparazzi, and the Swinging High Life of 1950s Rome (Nonfiction, Shawn Levy, 2016) Scintillating, anecdote-rich history of the economic and cultural recovery that transformed Rome (with an assist from Florence) from war-ravaged wrecks to the epitome of late fifties and early sixties cool, from motoring to fashion to scandal rags and the movies.—RDL

I’m Thinking of Ending Things (Film, US, Charlie Kaufman, 2020) Despite her doubting inner monologue, a young woman (Jessie Buckley) accompanies her boyfriend (Jesse Plemons) on a visit to his parents. Fans of Kaufman’s elliptical, writerly scripts and form-breaking direction get what they want here, and they get it good. Buckley and Plemons anchor what could otherwise be empty stunting in felt, understood humanity. –KH

Looting Spiro Mounds: An American King Tut’s Tomb (Nonfiction, David La Vere, 2007) Tells the stories in parallel of the building (by Caddoan priest-kings) and looting (by Depression-stricken Okies) of the greatest archaeological find north of the Rio Grande, the Spiro Mounds in Oklahoma. Stronger on the looting than the building, but then the looters left documentary evidence behind, and destroyed most of the evidence the builders left. –KH

The Lost City of Cecil B. DeMille (Film, US, Peter Brosnan, 2016) Filmmaker documents his four-decade quest to excavate the buried Pharoah’s City set from Cecil B. De Mille’s 1925 version of The Ten Commandments from a Santa Barbara sand dune. A dizzying rush of colliding cultural history connections meets an epic battle against municipal red tape.

The Platform (Film, Spain, Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia, 2019) Book lover (Ivan Massagué) seeking no-effort diploma accepts imprisonment in a nightmarish complex where inmates eat from a platform covered with food that steadily depletes as it descends between hundreds of floors. Claustrophobic grand guignol shows that there is no allegory too heavy-handed for the extreme cinema genre.—RDL

Good

#Alive (Film, South Korea, Cho Il-Hyung, 2020) Gamerboi Jun-woo (Yoo Ah-in) finds himself the very unprepared survivor of a fast-zombie outbreak in Seoul. A perfectly creditable zombie film with nothing particularly original or interesting to say, it squanders its interesting “apartment of Robinson Crusoe, with streaming” survival set-up and (except for one scene) Yoo’s acting chops, but does nothing very wrong either. –KH

Every Single Nero Wolfe Story (Fiction, Rex Stout, 1934-1975) On a lark in January I bought a bunch of Nero Wolfe books cheap, and as lockdown drove me deeper into comfort reading I read (or re-read) all 33 novels and 41 shorter works starring the famously lazy, corpulent detective. Stout’s greater creation was Archie Goodwin, an engaging viewpoint character who also thinks the hero is a jerk; his great gift was the ability to riff on his characters entertainingly enough to get you through a (usually fairly routine) plot shuffle very much including palmed cards. Start with The Silent Speaker or The Doorbell Rang (both Recommended) and see if you want to deal yourself in. –KH

The Freshour Cylinders (Fiction, Speer Morgan, 1998) Half-Native county prosecutor in 1935 Fort Smith, Arkansas investigates the murder of a collector of artifacts from the Spiro Mounds. More than adequate noir draws a detailed picture of Depression Oklahoma, with a possible lost tribe to boot. Sadly the style is only Good at best; I counted one line of really vibrant prose. –KH

Episode 412: Dumas’ Salads

September 11th, 2020 | Robin

The Gaming Hut gets into a crossover mood as beloved Patreon backer Adam Grotjohn wants to know how to turn player characters from Vampire: the Masquerade into the antagonists for Night’s Black Agents.

In the Cinema Hut we each nominate someone as moviedom’s least likely major star.

The Food Hut turns some pages as we name our favorite food books.

And finally stalwart Patreon backer Pedro Garcia enters the History Hut for the story of Boris Skossyreff, whose self-proclaimed reign as Andorra’s king lasted for 13 days.

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-person Renaissance Faires are off the table for the moment, but what can be on your table, at a limited-time steal price is Ren Faire, Atlas Games’ hilarious card game of competitive historical costuming. Grab it for a stunning 40% off with the voucher code PANTALOONS.

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.

Ken and Robin Consume Media: Ken Leaves the House For Tenet

September 8th, 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

Tenet (Film, US, Christopher Nolan, 2020) A CIA agent (John David Washington) enters an even shadowier war between a covert agency in the present and a future that weaponizes reverse-entropy. Nolan’s Mannerist blend of grounding (“realism” isn’t the word) and myth gorgeously alloys spy-fi to philosophy, by way of half a dozen precisely realized set pieces. Plus all the BWOOOMMMM you could ever hope for; see it in its native IMAX where and if you can for the full experience. –KH

Recommended

Get on Up (Film, US, Tate Taylor, 2014) Achronological biopic dramatizes the life of R & B and funk superstar James Brown (Chadwick Boseman), tracing his notorious hard edges to childhood abandonment and poverty. The authority of Boseman’s performance unifies a difficult narrative line.—RDL

Mr. Dynamite: The Rise of James Brown (Film, US, Alex Gibney, 2014) For a deeper look at Brown’s music, check out the companion piece documentary, featuring extensive performance clips and interviews with the genius sidemen he frequently bullied and exploited. Includes his Nixon endorsement, which the biopic somehow doesn’t get around to. Archival interviews with Brown show that his speaking voice wasn’t nearly as affected as the Boseman version.—RDL

Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Film, France, Céline Sciamma, 2019) Impossible love kindles when a woman (Noémie Merlant) is hired to covertly paint a portrait of a young noble (Adèle Haenel), to be sent to her prospective husband. Allusions to the Gothic lap at the corners of this romantic drama, acted with intense restraint and photographed with a beauty simultaneously lush and stark.—RDL

Good

Phantom Raiders (Film, US, Jacques Tourneur, 1940) Suave detective Nick Carter (Walter Pidgeon) interrupts his Panama vacation to investigate a series of ship bombings. In the second of three Carter flicks, MGM applies the comedy-mystery tone of The Thin Man to another series character, with Tourneur giving shape and snap to a script that mixes kookiness with mass murder.—RDL

Warren William: Magnificent Scoundrel of Pre-Code Hollywood (Nonfiction, John Stangeland, 2011) Solid if often overly detailed biography of the suave, pencil-moustached actor who hit it big playing sophisticated anti-heroes in the early 30s and later played such series characters as Perry Mason, Philo Vance and the Lone Wolf. Off-screen, William turns out to have been a lovely man who adored terriers, was faithful to his wife, and invented, among other things, a motorized picnic table.—RDL

Okay

Project Power (Film, US, Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman, 2020) A Special Forces ex-Major (Jamie Foxx), a New Orleans cop (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), and a plucky drug dealer (Dominique Fishback) come together hunting the source of a drug that gives users unpredictable superpowers for five minutes. Foxx’s charisma and one or three original touches give this over-long, under-plotted, straight-to-cable grind slightly more than five minutes of power. –KH

Episode 411: Chief Plant Health Officer

September 4th, 2020 | Robin

In the Gaming Hut, beloved Patreon backer Philippe Marcil asks how you start with Earth when it is full of racism, sexism, and a plethora of other isms.

A man in a barrel pleads with a man not in a barrel in the latest installment of that most mercantile of huts, the T-Shirt Justification Hut.

Ripped From the Headlines answers to green-thumbed backer Jamie Twine, who alerts us to the international unsolicited seeds mystery.

Finally the Consulting Occultist brandishes his planchette to explain the Ouija board and its inventor, Elijah Bond.

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-person Renaissance Faires are off the table for the moment, but what can be on your table, at a limited-time steal price is Ren Faire, Atlas Games’ hilarious card game of competitive historical costuming. Grab it for a stunning 40% off with the voucher code PANTALOONS.

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.

Ken and Robin Consume Media: Either Of Us Could Be Mad at the New Perry Mason, But Only One of Us Watched It

September 1st, 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

At Home at the Castle: Lifestyles at the Medieval Strongholds of Östergötland, AD 1200-1530 (Nonfiction, Martin Rundkvist, 2019) Just what it says in the subtitle, an archaeologically-informed social history of daily life in late-medieval Swedish castles. Attractively presented dig reports and extrapolations join with just enough speculation to spark creative identification; specific treatments of seven strongholds provide both longitudinal data and gameable variety. –KH [Disclosure: Martin Rundkvist is a beloved Patreon backer of our podcast, and provided a copy for review]

Bill & Ted Face the Music (Film, US, Dean Parisot, 2020) Aided by daughters (Samara Weaving, Brigette Lundy-Paine) who have not fallen far from the tree, middle-aged rockers Bill & Ted (Alex Winter, Keanu Reeves) get one more chance to write the song that prevents time and space from collapsing. Returning writers Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson preserve the irrepressible positivity of the original flicks as Parisot keeps the affable proceedings on a brisk pace.—RDL

Forever Season 1 (Television, US, Alan Yang & Matthew Hubbard, 2018) As their marriage goes stale, routine-loving Oscar (Fred Armisen) and restless June (Maya Rudolph) die and are reunited in a weirdly quotidian afterlife. Touching, melancholy comedy probes the compromises between marriage and selfhood.—RDL

Gary Gulman: The Great Depresh (Stand-up, HBO, Michael Bonfiglio, 2019) Intersperses interview and older footage with an hour of stand-up on the topic of Gulman’s clinical depression, and on his time in the psych ward (“Electro-convulsive therapy is at best a lateral euphemism”). Along with the personal impact of the story, worth watching for the way Gulman braids and paces two traditions of stand-up: the one-man confessional and his regular serial-gag routine. –KH

Les Misérables (Film, France, Ladj Ly, 2019) Cop transferred in from the provinces (Damien Bonnard) joins a special squad on urban harassment duty as a hot summer day threatens the delicate informal power balance in a marginalized banlieue. French crime films have been vehicles for social realism since the beginning of the sound era, a tradition this tense, fly-on-the-wall police patrol narrative transposes to the present day.—RDL

Good

The Case of the Moth-Eaten Mink (Fiction, Erle Stanley Gardner, 1952) A dinner out with Della Street leads crime-solving attorney Perry Mason into a mystery involving a waitress on the run from a hit attempt. Crisp dialogue drives an economical exercise in procedural problem-solving, albeit with a somewhat rushed ultimate revelation.—RDL

Ire-Inspiring

Perry Mason Season 1 (Television, US, Ron Fitzgerald & Rolin Jones, HBO, 2020)  Self-pitying private eye (Matthew Rhys) takes on a larger than expected role in a child murder case defended by his boss and mentor, a declining attorney (John Lithgow.) Gloomy, histrionic reimagining epitomizes today’s endemic misunderstanding of the iconic hero structure, not only portraying Mason as a tantrum-throwing mope, but actively thumbing its nose at his trademark M.O. I almost want to trick Ken into hate-watching this so we can talk about it on the show, but that’s no way to treat a friend.—RDL

Film Cannister
Cartoon Rocket
d8
Flying Clock
Robin
Film Cannister