Grimoire
Cthulhu
Dracula
Abraham Lincoln
Ken
Grimoire

Ken and Robin Consume Media: An Extra Moon and a Bottle of Wine

December 13th, 2016 | 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

An African Millionaire: Episodes in the Life of the Illustrious Colonel Clay (Fiction, Grant Allen, 1897) Pompous, avaricious diamond magnate becomes the repeated victim of a wily master-of-disguise con artist. Episodic caper tale, told from the point of the view of the marks, wields a wit as sharp as Vance or Wodehouse in its delightful trashing of capitalist mores. What a sad reflection on the gatekeepers of CanLit that I had to learn about this Kingston-born author from my arch-Chicagoan partner in crime!–RDL

Recommended

French Foreign Legion 1831-71 (Osprey Men-at-Arms 509) (Nonfiction, Martin Windrow, 2016) Although the discussion of the Legion’s organization, history, and equipment (in special detail) is up to the Osprey standard, this volume really stands out for its use of period art. Well-selected contemporary sketches, paintings, and even photographs bring the subject to life. –KH

Jacob’s Creek Moscato Rose (Wine, Australia, 2015) It is a Thing I Always Say that rose does not exclusively belong to the summertime but rather embodies the celebratory spirit of the holidays. Moscato is sweet; rose is usually sweet and this bubbly, ultra-quaffable frizzante is super sweet. A treat on its own or can cut through the fat coating all those festive snacks leave on the tongue. Inexpensive, and at 7.5% ABV lets you drink nearly as much of it as you want and still remember the lyrics to Good King Wenceslas.–RDL

Pirate Utopia (Fiction, Bruce Sterling, 2016) Alternate history diverges in 1919 with the arrival of the Pirate Engineer in d’Annunzio’s poetic-Futurist dictatorship in the Adriatic city of Fiume, although lots of other changes bubble up at the same time, such as H.P. Lovecraft becoming an advance-man for the U.S. Secret Service. Sterling never really advances his plot, preferring to curvette around the larger question of the appeal of fascism, but this trip to slightly-alternate Fiume is worth booking. The John Coulthart design and illustrations kick the book up to Recommended. –KH

The Pnume (Fiction, Jack Vance, 1970), Stranded spaceman Adam Reith frees himself from alien trophy hunters with the forced assistance of a young woman they have been keeping in a chemically induced prepubescence. The final installment of the series formerly known as Planet of Adventure sounds some minor key notes, with an unusually complicated (for Vance) relationship taking focus over pulp action.

The Silk Roads: A New History of the World (Nonfiction, Peter Frankopan, 2015) Perhaps better subtitled “The Same Old History of the World From a Different Perspective,” Frankopan’s book re-centers the story of the West on Persia and Central Asia, rather than on the Mediterranean. China remains a sideshow, the Huns are but noted in passing, and even the Persian Empire is rather under-rated. So why Recommended? Because where Frankopan does focus — e.g., the early medieval slave trade, the Anglo-Persian oil contest, and currency fluctuations throughout — he brings capacious research and yes, a different perspective. –KH

What If the Earth Had Two Moons? (Nonfiction, Neil F. Comins, 2010) The sequel to Comins’ What If the Moon Didn’t Exist? continues his tradition of smuggling astrophysics in as alternate history. More a book of planetary mechanics than anything else, it still provides ten great set-ups for SFnal worlds and (usually) justifies the pulpier sort of parallel. Sadly, the Counter-Earth moves into a Lagrange point, ruining that particular lovely madness. –KH

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Episode 220: Bear With Us, Everyone Else

December 9th, 2016 | Robin

In the Gaming Hut, urged on by Patreon backer Fred Kiesche, Ken takes us under the hood of his Rex of the Old 97 campaign. What does he do behind that Peter Frampton GM screen, and how does he do it?

But stranger requests await us still! Patreon backer Jeromy French convenes a meeting in the Culture Hut, where Robin talks about the Toronto music scene. Listen to his Toronto playlist on Spotify.

Next we delve into everyone’s new favorite four syllable word, as the History Hut serves up some backstory on the Emoluments Clause.

Then once again we find ourselves in the shadowy environs of the Conspiracy Corner, as Patreon backer Leandro Ugarte wants us to explain where Juan Peron’s hands went.

Support the KARTAS Patreon!

Snag Ken and Robin merchandise at TeePublic.


Get trapped in Lovecraft’s story “The Call of Cthulhu” in Atlas Games’ addictive new card game Lost in R’lyeh. Take a selfie with your purchased copy of the game at your brick and mortar game retailer and send it to Atlas to claim your special Ken and Robin promo card.

Do intervals between Ken’s Time Machine segments leave you listless, bored, and itchy? Then you’re in luck, because TimeWatch, the wild and woolly GUMSHOE game of chrono-hopping adventure has now blasted its way into our reality. Brought to you by master of over-the-top fast-paced fun Kevin Kulp and our reality-maintaining overlords at Pelgrane Press. For those seeking yet more Ken content, 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: Flintlocks and Murder Rooms and Rock ‘n’ Roll

December 7th, 2016 | 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

The Goodbye Kiss (Fiction, Massimo Carlotto, 2006) Conscienceless ex-terrorist works his way, one murder at a time, from a Central American guerrilla squad to center-right respectability back in his native Italy. Spare, brutal psychological thriller recalls Highsmith’s Ripley novels, with a Berlusconi-era political spin.–RDL

The Judas Pair (Fiction, Jonathan Gash, 1977) First novel in the series featuring the polymathic antiques dealer Lovejoy, here in pursuit of a mythical pair of flintlock dueling pistols. The weird emotional switchbacks add spice (and occasionally discomfort) to a fine treasure-hunting novel with lots of digressions into the lore of things old and valuable. –KH

Roadies Season 1 (TV, Showtime, Cameron Crowe, 2016) Ensemble drama follows the backstage crew of a stadium rock tour as they love one another and, above all, the music. Series television gives Crowe, who has struggled recently with the structural constraints of feature film, room for his discursive exploration of life’s small and beautiful moments. Too much so to get picked up for a second season, sadly, but this season is written to tell a complete story and will still reward a binge.–RDL

Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle Season 3 (TV, BBC, 2014) Standup Stewart Lee performs six elaborately constructed routines, each of which starts with a hack premise and builds to something big and dark. As a non-Brit I did have to do some Googling to contextualize certain of the pop culture figures he’s slagging. Remember, “Not all animals are trying to satirize things.”—RDL

Good

New York Rocker: My Life in the Blank Generation with Blondie, Iggy Pop, and Others 1974-1981 (Nonfiction, Gary Valentine, 2006) Conversational memoir by the bassist for Blondie sets the New York street music scene with lively detail, but rather than continue his metaphor of a new Decadence he gets distracted by personalities and trivia — much like the scene he describes, really. Still quite interesting for punk historians looking for the deviationist view of the war between punk and pop. –KH

Secret Beyond the Door (Film, US, Fritz Lang, 1948) Sheltered society ornament Celia (Joan Bennett) impulsively marries architect Mark (Michael Redgrave) only to discover he has a sister, a dead wife, a son, and oh yeah a house full of painstakingly reconstructed murder rooms. Lang bullied scriptwriter Silvia Richards (also his mistress) into tailoring the already top-heavily Freudian story to his visual predilections, resulting in a dreamlike stream of amazing set pieces that fizzle narratively, sadly undermining the superb acting, cinematography, and score. –KH

Not Recommended

Phantom Detective (Film, South Korea, Sung-hee Jo, 2016) Ruthless vigilante private detective with a fragmented grasp of his own identity hunts the man who murdered his mother, with his intended victim’s annoyingly adorable granddaughters in tow. Offers some cool moments of comic book stylization, but the unreliable viewpoint thing is so dominant that it becomes an engagement killer.–RDL

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Episode 219: Argue With Ceramics

December 2nd, 2016 | Robin

Dirk the Dice rolls into the Gaming Hut to ask us how to make sword and sorcery monster encounters exciting.

Don’t believe a word you hear in the Conspiracy Corner, as we look at the history and evolution of propaganda.

Expand your consciousness in the Cinema Hut, where backers Andrew Collins and Adam Grotjohn invite us to rap about visionary filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky.

Keep a careful watch as the Consulting Occultist whispers of Les Veilleurs, an Parisian occult group founded in the final days of WWI.

Support the KARTAS Patreon!

Snag Ken and Robin merchandise at TeePublic.


Get trapped in Lovecraft’s story “The Call of Cthulhu” in Atlas Games’ addictive new card game Lost in R’lyeh. Take a selfie with your purchased copy of the game at your brick and mortar game retailer and send it to Atlas to claim your special Ken and Robin promo card. Do intervals between Ken’s Time Machine segments leave you listless, bored, and itchy? Then you’re in luck, because TimeWatch, the wild and woolly GUMSHOE game of chrono-hopping adventure has now blasted its way into our reality. Brought to you by master of over-the-top fast-paced fun Kevin Kulp and our reality-maintaining overlords at Pelgrane Press. For those seeking yet more Ken content, 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. Attention, operatives of Delta Green, the ultra-covert agency charged with battling the contemporary forces of the Cthulhu Mythos! Now everything you need to know to play Delta Green: The Roleplaying Game, perhaps extending your valiantly short field life, can be found in the Delta Green Agent’s Handbook or Delta Green: Need to Know, the quick start rules set with extra-sturdy Handler’s Screen.   

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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Witches Lovely and Otherwise

November 29th, 2016 | 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

Beyond the Robot: The Life and Work of Colin Wilson (Nonfiction, Gary Lachman, 2016) Biographies of writers are (if the writer mostly behaves himself, as Wilson mostly did) even more boring than films about writers; a biography of the polymathic Wilson must needs be both recondite and diffuse as well. Lachman brings his typical clarity of mind and prose to his subject, arguing for a core philosophical unity to a body of work spanning literally everything from existentialism to Atlantis. Lachman’s sympathy and affection for his mentor somewhat bates his normally sharp appraisal of Wilson’s occultism (and he scants Wilson’s fiction) but if Wilson is your jam, this is your breakfast. –KH

British Commando 1940-45 (Osprey Warrior 181) (Nonfiction, Angus Konstam, 2016) Concise description of Army and Royal Marine Commando training, equipment, and esprit, with five actions discussed in slightly greater detail. Those looking for details of tactics or a full military history of the units need to hit another book, but this is another great RPG splatbook that only technically is not an RPG splatbook. –KH

Evolution (Film, France, Lucile Hadžihalilovic, 2015) Pre-pubescent boys on remote island discover that their so-called, oddly young mothers and nurses are performing weird medical experiments on them. Hypnotic tone poem suffused with horror themes and imagery.—RDL. Seen at TIFF16; now in limited US release.

Heaven Will Wait (Film, (France, Marie-Castille Mention-Schaar, 2016) Interwoven narratives show two French girls at different stages of being lured, via cult-style social media recruitment, to Syria to be given to ISIL soldiers—one being indoctrinated, the other, deprogrammed. Fragmented storytelling techniques lend texture to what might otherwise be a standard-issue social problem film.—RDL. Seen at TIFF16; now in limited US release.

The Invitation (Film, US, Karyn Kusama, 2015) Grief-stricken man returns for a reunion of friends at his former home, a place where something terrible happened, only to discover that his wife and her new husband (Michiel Huisman) hope to recruit their pals into a transformational religious movement, which totally isn’t a cult, they none-too-convincingly insist. Sharply drawn characters maintain interest through a finely modulated, inch-by-inch transition from drama to horror. You know something’s wrong when one of the surprise guests no one else knows is played by John Carroll Lynch.—RDL

The Love Witch (Film, US, Anna Biller, 2016) If wicxploitation wasn’t a genre already, it is now. Biller wrote, produced, directed, scored, and perhaps most importantly designed this period-bending blend of 1960s giallo, 1970s grindhouse, and almost Sirkian melodrama to keep viewers off-balance but enraptured, much like the protagonist Elaine (Samantha Robinson) designs her sex-magickal spells. The film takes weird detours in story and in gender politics, but the trip is always, well, bewitching. –KH

Man is Not a Bird (Film, Yugoslavia, Dusan Makavejev, 1965) Love-hungry young hairdresser pursues an affair with an older man who has come to her grim mining town on a short-term contract. Ostensibly social realist drama bubbles with a subversive energy that the director, here making his first film, will soon take in ever more wild and surreal directions.—RDL

Good

The Quiet American (Film, US, Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1958) Morally empty British journalist Fowler (an excellent Michael Redgrave) competes with an American aid worker (Audie Murphy) for young b-girl Phuong (Giorgia Moll) in 1952 Saigon. At the behest of US psywar operative Edward Lansdale, Mankiewicz detourned Graham Greene’s novel toward anti-Communism; Lansdale should also have tightened up the dialogue while he was at it. Full of great Saigon location shots, it intensely evokes the early Indochina war; given later revelations about Communist manipulation of the Western press, it has at least as much claim to prophecy as Greene’s novel does. –KH

Okay

The Outfit (Film, US, John Flynn, 1973) Fiercely independent heist man (Robert Duvall) goes after the mobsters who killed his brother, who helped him knock over a crooked bank. Adaptation of a Richard Stark/Donald Westlake novel, in which his iconic character Parker is renamed Earl Macklin and played by Duvall less as a stoic exponent of existential competence than as a surly small-timer. Flynn has an eye for gritty criminal detail but sours it with a misogynistic streak harsh even for the period. A film so deeply stocked with great character actors (Joe Don Baker, Richard Jaeckel, Sheree North, Timothy Carey) that it feels free to throw away Elisha Cook Jr. on a nothing part as a diner cashier.—RDL

The Witch (Film, US, Robert Eggers, 2015) Banished New England Puritans stuck on a failing farm suspect witchcraft after the inexplicable disappearance of their infant son. Moody evocation of a now-alien historical worldview betrayed by a botched twist ending that not only fails to surprise but strips layers of meaning from the prior proceedings.—RDL

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Episode 218: This Podcast Still Hates Nazis

November 25th, 2016 | Robin

Patreon backer Michael Kotschi pops a moony question over the Ask Ken and Robin transom, prompting us to look at 70s NASA from a Moon Dust Men perspective.

The Politics Hut still has a hangover, but I guess we still have to address that thing that happened.

In Ken and/or Robin Talk To Someone Else, Ken talks to blogger, podcaster, freshly minted game designer and snailologist Darcy Ross.

Is the Eliptony Hut an odd place to talk about the Sybil case? The answer might surprise you!

Support the KARTAS Patreon!


Get trapped in Lovecraft’s story “The Call of Cthulhu” in Atlas Games’ addictive new card game Lost in R’lyeh. Take a selfie with your purchased copy of the game at your brick and mortar game retailer and send it to Atlas to claim your special Ken and Robin promo card. Do intervals between Ken’s Time Machine segments leave you listless, bored, and itchy? Then you’re in luck, because TimeWatch, the wild and woolly GUMSHOE game of chrono-hopping adventure has now blasted its way into our reality. Brought to you by master of over-the-top fast-paced fun Kevin Kulp and our reality-maintaining overlords at Pelgrane Press. For those seeking yet more Ken content, 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. Attention, operatives of Delta Green, the ultra-covert agency charged with battling the contemporary forces of the Cthulhu Mythos! Now everything you need to know to play Delta Green: The Roleplaying Game, perhaps extending your valiantly short field life, can be found in the Delta Green Agent’s Handbook or Delta Green: Need to Know, the quick start rules set with extra-sturdy Handler’s Screen.   

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Ken and Robin Consume Media: The Walter Brennan Upgrade

November 22nd, 2016 | 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

Arrival (Film, US, Denis Villeneuve, 2016) Linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams) attempts to decipher the language of just-landed aliens in an expansive adaptation of Ted Chiang’s novella “The Story of Your Life.” Thanks mostly to Adams’ performance, Arrival manages to layer its dense material without feeling too much like ten pounds of movie in an eight-pound bag; Jóhann Jóhansson’s score keeps things on a properly ethereal boil. –KH

Firelands Winery Gewürtztraminer (Wine, Isle St. George OH, 2014) No, I didn’t know there was an Ohio wine country either but here we are. This crisp, fruity white hovers between semi-dry and sweet, making it an excellent accompaniment to seafood, vegetables, risotto, and perhaps even chicken. I suspect the Ohio thing keeps the price down, too; at $11 a bottle this is a damn steal. –KH

I Am Not Madame Bovary (Film, China, Feng Xiaogang, 2016) After her husband reneges on a deal to remarry after a sham divorce to skirt housing regulations, a woman (Fan Bingbing) initiates a series of protests that ensnare countless hapless officials. Deceptively gentle comedy-drama shot within the imposing formal constraints of two extreme aspect ratios: a cropped upright rectangle and an iris.–RDL; seen at TIFF16; now in limited North American theatrical release.

Over the Edge (Film, US, Jonathan Kaplan, 1979) The boredom of a planned community with nothing for its teens to do sets an ordinary kid (Michael Kramer) and his delinquent pal (an alarmingly young Matt Dillon) on a dangerous collision course with authority. A flair for rebellion perfect for a 70s drive-in infuses this social problem drama with explosive energy.—RDL

Good

Atlas of Indian Nations (Nonfiction, Anton Treuer, 2014) National Geographic maps primarily depict contact-era linguistic boundaries and modern reservations; period maps with annotations provide some coverage of the history of major tribes. Not a historical atlas, really, but an adequate survey of the major remaining Amerind peoples north of the Rio Grande. Rich art, and those period maps, keep it in Good territory. –KH

Best of the Badmen (Film, US, 1951, William D. Russell) Union officer on the brink of retirement (Robert Ryan) arranges a safe transition to civilian life for such members of Quantrill’s Raiders as the Cole Younger gang and the James brothers, earning the murderous ire of a corrupt carpetbagger (Robert Preston). I was going to rate this diverting Technicolor nonsense as merely okay, but then Walter Brennan points two six-shooters at a room full of dangerous men and says, “Step back gents, and reflect on the joys of livin’.” So clearly my math was wrong there.–RDL

Sour Grapes (Film, US, Reuben Atlas and Jerry Rothwell, 2016) Documentary decants the story of the wine counterfeiter known as Rudi Kurniawan, who befriended and then defrauded a circle of ultra-rich grapeheads intent on collecting impossible old vintages. Tells its twisting story clearly, and comes this close to presenting a thesis about wealth, status, and desire, before veering away.–RDL

Not Recommended

A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence (Film, Sweden, Roy Andersson, 2014) Absurdist vignettes of quiet desperation mostly focus on the travails of two incompetent novelty item salesmen, but also on Sweden’s King Charles XII, who exists and marshals a 19th century army against Russia in the present day. What at first plays as a spoof of Swedish cinematic mordancy eventually reverts to type and becomes regular Swedish cinematic mordancy.–RDL

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Episode 217: Home Movies You Didn’t Take

November 18th, 2016 | Robin

Patreon backer Ethan Cordray rises from the Pacific waves of Ask Ken and Robin to pose a stumper: how to make Cthulhu scary again.

Ken is back from an extended sequester in the Cinema Hut to talk about his favorites from the Chicago International Film Festival.

Once more we learn How to Write Good, this time with a look at authorial commentary.

Our hero saves America again as a Ken’s Time Machine after-action report details Timothy Pickering’s attempted New England secession of 1804, posed by Patreon backer Paul. Correction Hut: Ken is mortified that he got the XYZ Affair mixed up with the Citizen Genet affair, but rest assured they both involved the French and influence-peddling, so both the larger history and the jokes still work.

Support the KARTAS Patreon!


Get trapped in Lovecraft’s story “The Call of Cthulhu” in Atlas Games’ addictive new card game Lost in R’lyeh. Take a selfie with your purchased copy of the game at your brick and mortar game retailer and send it to Atlas to claim your special Ken and Robin promo card. Do intervals between Ken’s Time Machine segments leave you listless, bored, and itchy? Then you’re in luck, because TimeWatch, the wild and woolly GUMSHOE game of chrono-hopping adventure has now blasted its way into our reality. Brought to you by master of over-the-top fast-paced fun Kevin Kulp and our reality-maintaining overlords at Pelgrane Press. For those seeking yet more Ken content, 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. Attention, operatives of Delta Green, the ultra-covert agency charged with battling the contemporary forces of the Cthulhu Mythos! Now everything you need to know to play Delta Green: The Roleplaying Game, perhaps extending your valiantly short field life, can be found in the Delta Green Agent’s Handbook or Delta Green: Need to Know, the quick start rules set with extra-sturdy Handler’s Screen.   

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Ken and Robin Consume Media: When the Going Gets Strange

November 15th, 2016 | 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

Clouds of Sils Maria (Film, France, Olivier Assayas, 2014) Insecure actress (Juliette Binoche) preparation for a revival of a play that made her career, now playing the older part, taxes her relationship with her protective assistant (Kristen Stewart.) Assayas, master of taking small moments and investing them with tremendous portent, creates a subtly troubling drama of creative power struggles.–RDL

Gun Crazy (Film, US, Joseph H. Lewis, 1950) Good-natured Bart (John Dall) is obsessed with guns, and then with hard-bitten trick shooter Annie (Peggy Cummins), leading to a crime spree and a bad end. Lewis alternates psychosexual melodrama with almost verite crime and car sequences, playing story against space until the final showdown in a fog-shrouded swamp. Rub a soft pencil anywhere over Arthur Penn’s Bonnie and Clyde (1967) and this movie appears. –KH

Good

Doctor Strange (Film, US, Scott Derrickson, 2016) Crippled surgeon (Benedict Cumberbatch) discovers magic and takes on the role of superhero in a visually stunning production of a standard Marvel-school script. The big magic set-pieces, fortunately, combine cinematic originality (modulo some Inception) with Ditko-vision, and Michael Giacchino layers on a score that often breaks out of the Marvel mold. The humans, not so much. –KH

Okay

Doctor Strange (Film, US, Scott Derrickson, 2016) Arrogant surgeon, his hands damaged after a car accident, learns sorcery and battles a pawn of extradimensional evil. If any character cried out to be freed from the Marvel movie origin story template, it’s this one. In the comics Strange’s origin was only 8 pages long and appeared four issues after his debut. No amount of CGI Ditko tableaus or Cumberbatch charisma can pay off the exposition taxes its structure imposes.—RDL

Not Recommended

American Ultra (Film, US, Nima Nourizadeh, 2015) Anxiety-ridden stoner (Jesse Eisenberg) with preternaturally understanding girlfriend (Kristen Stewart) discovers he’s a super-soldier, and his CIA creators want him dead. To work this would need the Bourne bits to be Bournier, with non-cheated action, some degree of authenticity around its portrayal of the intelligence world, and a villain plan that isn’t flagged as idiotic from the get-go.—RDL

Occult Paris: The Lost Magic of the Belle Epoque (Nonfiction, Tobias Churton, 2016) Examination of 19th French Rosicrucian Gerard “Papus” Encausse and Stanislas de Guaita, their circles, and their relationship to Symbolist art and music. Half rhapsodic critical exploration, half disorganized historical survey, peppered with random personal anecdotes as boring as they are irrelevant. When it comes time for the Yellow King RPG Kickstarter, remember that I read this so you don’t have to.—RDL

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Episode 216: Some Old Schlubby Wine God

November 11th, 2016 | Robin

This week the Gaming Hut holds a special surprise: it’s not just a segment, but a free game in and of itself, as Robin teaches you how to run Death Spiral.

In Ask Ken and Robin, Reiner Dobbelman asks us about mythic-level play.

Then we again hear the protesting groans of Ken’s Bookshelf as we vicariously paw through his haul from his latest raid on Powell’s Books in Portland.

Support the KARTAS Patreon!


Get trapped in Lovecraft’s story “The Call of Cthulhu” in Atlas Games’ addictive new card game Lost in R’lyeh. Take a selfie with your purchased copy of the game at your brick and mortar game retailer and send it to Atlas to claim your special Ken and Robin promo card. Do intervals between Ken’s Time Machine segments leave you listless, bored, and itchy? Then you’re in luck, because TimeWatch, the wild and woolly GUMSHOE game of chrono-hopping adventure has now blasted its way into our reality. Brought to you by master of over-the-top fast-paced fun Kevin Kulp and our reality-maintaining overlords at Pelgrane Press. For those seeking yet more Ken content, 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. Attention, operatives of Delta Green, the ultra-covert agency charged with battling the contemporary forces of the Cthulhu Mythos! Now everything you need to know to play Delta Green: The Roleplaying Game, perhaps extending your valiantly short field life, can be found in the Delta Green Agent’s Handbook.   

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Film Cannister
Cartoon Rocket
d8
Flying Clock
Robin
Film Cannister