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Episode 167: Fred Williamson Syndrome

November 20th, 2015 | Robin

We kick off with Ask Ken and Robin, as Reinier Dobbelmann question about power-gaming, relevant to six-year olds literal and metaphorical.

Smell the flavor volatiles as Food Hut looks at the science of taste. Referenced in this segment: Barb Stuckey’s Taste: Surprising Stories and Science About Why Food Tastes Good.

In the Horror Hut we pitch and cast our imagined filmed vampire update, Dracula AD 2017. (Please note that a couple of tangential references in this segment seem odd in light of the November 13th Paris attacks, which occurred after this episode was recorded.)

Finally, in an exciting crossover event, the Tradecraft Hut books some time on Ken’s Time Machine to keep James Jesus Angleton’s paranoia within useful limits.


Ken and Robin have oft been accused of being cards. Well, we can deny it no longer. We have become super-limited promo cards for Murder of Crows, Atlas Games’ fast-paced card game of murder and the macabre, for two to five players in the mood for something a little morbid. It’s Edward Gorey meets Caligari, by way of Edgar Allan Poe. Wait a minute, what does that graphic say? I’m not so sure about this…

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. In a move that surely violates someone’s security clearance, this episode is also brought to you by our friends at Arc Dream Publishing. The Kickstarter for Delta Green: the Roleplaying Game has come to an end, but don’t let that stop you from indulging your fever for this classic game, or that pinnacle of the Cthulhu game zine world, The Unspeakable Oath.

16 Responses to “Episode 167: Fred Williamson Syndrome”

  1. Joe Littrell says:

    According to the IMDB, Michael Fasbender is 6 feet tall.

  2. Robert Brodeur says:

    Robin,

    Very interesting re: the science behind MSG, which I looked into briefly based on your comment. Being a chronic migraine suffer I’d taken on faith to avoid it as that is what all doctors and support sites suggest.

    I know in my case get a severe vomit-inducing migraine 100% of the times I consume MSG. This includes those times I eat it in ignorance then feel the attack come on and only then go back and start checking labels (I should say have my wife check them as I quickly lose the ability to read). This has been so for the 30 years of my adult life.

    So all respect to skepticism and all but I trust my life experience over the science in this case and I hope all migraine suffers w MSG triggers will do the same.

    Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence as an MD friend of mine likes to say.

    Thanks for the great show.

    Best Regards

    • Robin says:

      Migraines are poorly understood in general so it wouldn’t be surprising to have triggers that can’t be pinned down in the lab. Thanks for the counterpoint.

  3. jfrauchert says:

    Apparently (according to the Interwebs) Angleton pronounced his middle name the Spanish way, but disliked it so he did not use it when signing documents.

    People who wanted to make fun of him used the James Jesus Angleton moniker.

    He also had the nicknames/codenames: “The Kingfisher” and “Furioso” and “Artifice”

  4. Phil Masters says:

    It’s funny; as I listened to the Dracula 2017 discussion, I became convinced that you were talking yourselves into casting Clair Danes in the Harker role. Oh well.

    Alternative casting for Drac himself: Patrick Stewart.

  5. Shawn Wilson says:

    In re Angleton, it should be remembered that the CIA was an outgrowth of the WWII OSS, and the FBI knew full well that the OSS had been riddled with Soviet spies. That the CIA managed to avoid them all was something no one was willing to take on faith. So, a high level Soviet Mole in the CIA? Perfectly plausible.

    Personally, I think Golitsin was a story-telling opportunist, Angleton was paranoid in a psychiatric/genuine mental illness sense, and Nosenko was a plant.

    It would actually make a great deal of sense if *Angleton* was the mole. Or at least a Soviet sympathizer. He was a pal of Philby after all.

    The New York Times has a good article at-

    http://www.nytimes.com/1991/06/30/books/the-life-and-strange-career-of-a-mole-hunter.html?pagewanted=all

    • RogerBW says:

      Angleton claimed that he’d always been suspicious of Philby, and had tried to raise concerns about him but been ignored. But he never said this in public before Philby had defected. What he may have said in private before that will probably never be known.

  6. james says:

    Got an idea for ken’s time machine, don’t know how else to share it.
    How come China and/or Japan didn’t discover and colonize the West Coast of North America? They had access and the tech-base. Was that you or the other guy?

  7. For an Ask Ken and Robin segment, I’d love for you guys to riff on the saga of the Android Philip K. Dick and his lost head.

  8. Tom Clare says:

    In the spirit of your great segment on mirrors, I’d love to hear you both riff on evil spirits’ inability to cross running water. Must it be fresh moving water, necessarily excluding lakes and estuaries? Could this include salt water? (Perhaps not – Dracula travelled to England by ship, and seemed to be active for at least the last part of the trip).

    Thanks.

    • Tom Clare says:

      (Forgive me if Ken has already covered this in detail in a Night’s Black Agents product… I’m still working my way through them.)

  9. LJS says:

    So Ken, what’s the deal with red mercury, and what interesting elements of it has the NY Times overlooked in its recent article?

    http://www.npr.org/2015/11/24/457175815/isis-is-trying-to-create-a-doomsday-bomb-but-is-the-key-ingredient-a-myth

  10. Grawflemaul says:

    Great episode as always. KARTAS is the only podcast I’m caught up on and actually listening to live, which is quite an achievement.

    Anyway, couple of things to ask.

    First off, what more than a quick wikipedia search could the Eliptony Hut tell us about Posadism? From what I can gather, it seems like a pretty neat jumping-off point for Marxist fringe science wackiness instead of the more expected right-wing fringe science wackiness.

    Second, and perhaps more in depth, a question regarding Ken’s Time Machine: how did Ken go about covering up the Martian Invasion of Britain in 1898?

    To elaborate, I’ve been pondering running a game of NBA with bloodsucking Martians as the villains (or at least people with Martian technology), though this is little more than a pipe dream at this point. The problem is how to to actually do the invasion. The simple solution of course is to have it slowly happening behind the scenes, but I’d kinda like to have had the invasion happen in the past.

    As far as I can see, the only real ways to go about this are to have the invasion have taken place in the ancient past, when it could have been forgotten, or in the novel-appropriate era, but on a much-smaller scale. That’s excluding alternate universe shenanigans.

    I guess my question would be how you go about covering up some major historical event, such that the modern day doesn’t look too indistinguishable from reality.

  11. Darren T. says:

    That is a tough one on getting a noble look to a new movie with Dracula. I like the choice picked at the end of the discussion though I’m wondering how someone like Kurt Russel or Ron Perlman would do in those roles or if they’d do better at the hunter end of the cast.

    All this Dracula talk in this episode does sink in a good question for Ken & Robin in my mind. If Ken was to tweak the time machine to just have a window going to an alternate universe, and that version of Ken was working on something similar to the dossier/Armitage Files sandbox campaign for any of the Gumshoe games but for some shocking reason couldn’t get the rights to the Dracula book. What other books or series out there would also make for good choices for this alternate Ken to make a literary & stunning campaign book for Gumshoe?

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