Grimoire
Cthulhu
Dracula
Abraham Lincoln
Ken
Grimoire

Ken and Robin Consume Media: A Mermaid, A Disfigured Anti-Hero, and Alien Brainwash

June 21st, 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.

This week Ken consumed Origins instead of media, and Robin spent the weekend attending the Canadian Writer’s Summit. Hence a slimmer than usual list of capsule reviews.

Recommended

Cooked (TV, US, Netflix, 2016) Ostentatiously beautiful HD photography brings a rich glow to this docuseries adaptation of Michael Pollan’s food book of the same name, with instalments themed around the four elements: fire (meat), water (pot cooking), air (bread) and earth (fermentation.) There must not be much to say about pot cooking, as episode two spends most of its time critiquing the processed food industry’s impact on health and society.—RDL

The Face Behind the Mask (Film, US, Robert Florey, 1941) Once hope-filled immigrant burned in a hotel fire (Peter Lorre) dons a mask to conceal his disfigured features and turns to masterminding armed robberies. Aside from Lorre’s wonderfully extravagant performance, the genre-blending combination of gothic horror themes in a hardboiled crime setting provides the chief point of interest.—RDL

Night Tide (Film, US, Curtis Harrington, 1961) Naive sailor (Dennis Hopper) falls for a sideshow mermaid with a dark secret. Lewtonesque weird tale makes atmospheric use of location shooting in and around the Santa Monica amusement pier. Put a copy of Unaussprechlichen Kulten next to the pickled hand on the retired sea captain’s curio shelf, toss in a reference to Dagon, and you’ve got yourself a Mythos movie.—RDL

Simon (Film, US, Marshall Brickman, 1980) Amoral scientific geniuses brainwash flailing psychology prof (Alan Arkin) into believing he’s an alien being. Droll satire skewers futurism and messianic arrogance. To update it to the present you’d only need slicker-looking tech and a scene where Austin Pendleton’s smug chief antagonist gives a TED talk. Solid cast of comic character actors includes Wallace Shawn, Max Wright, Fred Gwynne and Madeline Kahn.—RDL

divider

Episode 195: All Its Guns in Norman Rockwell

June 17th, 2016 | Robin

Patreon backer Trung Bui asks us to assemble in the Gaming Hut to tell him who the murderer is, and also to discuss the challenges of investigative scenario construction.

The gore runs thick but the design sense runs high as the Cinema Hut answers a Marc Kevin Hall request for an introduction to Italian horror films.

In the Culture Hut backer and Parisian dreamhound Josh Rose wants to know what the Communist Party would have looked like if it had embraced surrealism.

And hey, it’s another all request episode, as backer James Griffin quizes the Consulting Occultist on past life regression. Why isn’t it a thing any more?

Support the KARTAS Patreon!


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. 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.   

divider

Ken and Robin Consume Media: Spies, Celts and 30s Beefcake

June 14th, 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

The Americans Season 4 (TV, FX, 2015-2016) The best show on television turns up the Cold War heat, slowly breaking some characters (especially KGB sleeper Elizabeth (Keri Russell)) and destroying others, but annealing FBI bulldog Stan (Noah Emmerich) and especially spy-daughter Paige (Holly Taylor) into ever more interesting and powerful roles. The narrative arc is if anything even stronger than the amazing Season 2, and a bio-weapons plotline pays off in spades not only as the setup for superbly lo-fi spycraft thrills but as a multi-faceted metaphor for the sleepers, their hunters, and their diseased home life. –KH

Dark tales by Guy de Maupassant (Fiction, 1880s-1890s) Spare, observant, ironic and anecdotal, the weird tales of Guy de Maupassant never unequivocally invoke the supernatural but sometimes introduce intimations of it. More often his horrors are entirely the work of humankind: “Man is the worst!” declares one of his adventurer characters, comparing us to the animals he has hunted. A key influence on Chambers, and therefore on the subsequent horror tradition. Absent an immediately available anthology, I curated one myself from Gutenberg and other online sources. Key stories: “The Horla”, “Fear”, “Magnetism”, “The Apparition”, “Terror”, “On the River”, “The Case of Louise Roque,” “Who Knows?” and “Mother Sauvage.”—RDL

Recommended

The Children Are Watching Us (Film, Italy, Vittorio De Sica, 1944) Young boy watches helplessly as his mother conducts an affair. More visually sumptuous, and, because of its emotional complexities, even more heart-wrenching, than De Sica’s later classic The Bicycle Thieves. A small-scale tragedy filled in by the director’s eye for social observation.—RDL

Kill the Messenger (Film, US, Michael Cuesta, 2014) Investigative journalist at second rank paper (Jeremy Renner) finds that publishing a story about CIA complicity in cocaine smuggling is only half the battle. Taut news procedural differs from the genre’s usual structure by focusing less on breaking the story than on weathering the ensuing backlash.—RDL

Search For Beauty (Film, US, Erle C. Kenton, 1934) Recently sprung con artists take over a health magazine, using two Olympic athletes (Ida Lupino, Buster Crabbe) as respectable fronts to deflect attention from its racy contents. Snappy sex comedy from the dying moments of the Pre-Code era, whose camera ogles the men with greater enthusiasm than it does the women, juggles enough contradictions to launch a thousand gender studies papers. The text may take the side of the squares, but the subtext tweaks the cruelty of their virtue and roots for the libertines. —RDL

Good

The Atlantic Celts: Ancient People or Modern Invention? (Nonfiction, Simon James, 1999) An archaeologist specializing in Iron Age Britain, James slightly outruns his evidence while arguing (from the archaeological record) against any “Celtic invasion” of the British Isles. Instead, he posits local elites of no particular ethnos self-acculturating with “the La Tène aristocratic package” in much the same way later British elites self-acculturated with an Italian “aristocratic package” during the Renaissance. Prolix without being detailed, it still frames one side of the debate well. More recent DNA research tends to bear his argument out, but “invasions” such as that of the Belgae recorded by Caesar remain more likely than James wants to admit. –KH

The Blood on Satan’s Claw (Film, UK, Piers Haggard, 1970) After a plowman (Barry Andrews) uncovers the hairy skull of the demon Behemoth in a rustic 17th century English field, its cult (and bodily infection) spreads to the manor’s children until the Judge (Patrick Wymark) reluctantly realizes the supernatural is afoot. Combining a naturalistic, earthy rustic mise-en-scène with a 1970s post-Manson “youth problem” plot somehow creates a truly unnerving experience sadly let down by the cheap monster effects and arbitrary ending.. Linda Hayden is wonderful as the cult priestess, and Dick Bush’s camera work seals the anti-Hammer feel in this deliberately formless horror. –KH

Okay

Doctor X (Film, US, Michael Curtiz, 1932) Medical research institute head (Lionel Atwill) hunts the cannibal serial killer who must be one of his colleagues. Mad science horror from the future director of Casablanca and The Adventures of Robin Hood shows his flair for montage and serves up a cool monster transformation but is otherwise creaky. Easily adapted into a Trail of Cthulhu scenario though. Shot in the sickly cyan and orange of the early two-strip Technicolor process.—RDL

divider

Episode 194: Knocking Off Early For Gin and Lemonade

June 10th, 2016 | Robin

The Gaming Hut becomes a boat we might just die in as Patreon backer Luke Wassink asks us to make environmental obstacles suspenseful and compelling.

In Among My Many Hats, Ken tells us about his new Dark Osprey book, The Cthulhu Wars: the United States’ Battle Against the Mythos.

Hey, who covered the floor of the Eliptony Hut with Toynbee tiles?

And Ken’s Time Machine tackles its deepest mystery yet, as Phil Masters asks Ken why he claimed to be from Porlock.

Support the KARTAS Patreon!


Attention, class! Anchor sponsor Atlas Games wants to enrol you in Mad Scientist University, the card game of evil genius, insane assignments, and unstable elements. Act now, Ken and Robin listeners, and they’ll throw in the Spring Break expansion set for free. Shipping within the US is also free. 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. 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.   

divider

Ken and Robin Consume Media: Speedsters, Ghosts, and a Bus to the Moon

June 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

Flash Season 2 (TV, CW, 2015-2016) Flash discovers Earth-2, and Earth-2 discovers him right back in an epic season-long battle between Flash and Zoom. The Flash writers still need to fine-tune the series’ pacing, but they feel brave enough to tackle multiverses, the Speed Force, and ever more metahumans while setting up Wally West, Jesse Quick, and Flashpoint for Season 3. This shows a proper Silver Age confidence in the material, a confidence absolutely vital to making a silly superhero show good. –KH

Girls Season 5 (TV, HBO, 2016) Life choices and betrayals send Hannah and friends into their own separate tailspins. This is the hardest season to watch for the same reason it’s brilliant: the writing lets us see the already narcissistic characters hit the emotional skids in a way that calls our sympathy for them into question.—RDL

Nothing Lasts Forever (Film, US, Tom Schiller, 1984) Fresh-faced kid (Zach Galligan) looks for the art form that will bring him fame in an alternate-history NYC ruled by the Port Authority, little suspecting that a secret society of the homeless waits to send him on a bus ride to the moon. Whimsical, bizarro, strangely beautiful contemporary fantasy shot like a 30s movie. Featuring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Clancy Brown, Eddie Fisher, Imogene Coca, Sam Jaffe, Mort Sahl and Calvert deForest. From a director best known for similarly lovely and off-kilter SNL shorts, this is the kind of film you doubt exists even as you’re watching it.–RDL

Good

Crimson Peak (Film, US, Guillermo del Toro, 2015) Creepy siblings (Tom Hiddleston and Jessica Chastain) lure innocent and tiresome girl (Mia Wasikowska) into a literally decaying family built on death and blood-red clay. Del Toro mostly lets the momentum of the genre carry the film (along with Fernando Velazquez’ score) while he, production designer Thomas E. Sanders, and cinematographer Dan Laustsen build an honest-to-Eyre old-dark-house gothic in a giallo-Hammer palette marred only by crap CGI. As in the true gothic, the setting commands the story, mood and image trump narrative, and characters feel rather than think. –KH

The Fall of Paris (Non-fiction, Alistair Horne, 1965) Sweeping narrative history connects the Franco-Prussian War, most especially the Siege of Paris, to the establishment of the Paris Commune and ensuing civil war. Drips with sardonicism that would make Edward Gibbon proud, but not for the uninitiated: oddly for a popular history, it assumes a reader already versed in the subject matter.—RDL

Nameless (Fiction, Matt Rossi, 2016) Two Rhode Islanders discover magic, their true love, and their grandmother’s monstrous plot against them in this rambunctious debut novel from the eliptonic essayist behind Bottled Demon and At Last, Atlantis. Although strong echoes of Tim Powers and (of course) the Cthulhu Mythos manifest, this postmodern fantasy most recalls the feel and flavor of Matt Wagner’s Mage. Call it Recommended if that all sounds neat enough to forgive various typos, editing infelicities, and occasional lacunae of definition in the name of stakes-raising. –KH

The Nice Guys (Film, US, Shane Black, 2016) Alcoholic private eye (Ryan Gosling) and oddly honorable thug-for-hire (Russell. Crowe) team up to find a missing girl somehow mixed up in the porn business. Comic banter between the leads takes center stage, backstopped by 70s style and eruptions of entropic violence. Just don’t think about the believability of the situation they’re investigating .–RDL.

Not Recommended

Phantom of the Opera (Fiction, Gaston Leroux, 1910) Grotesque master of traps who dwells in the Paris Opera extorts its management and stalks the beautiful soprano he’s been teaching to sing. In a flaw common to serialized material, starts strong but gets lost in the weeds as it goes along. Iconic moments from later adaptations, like the chandelier drop and the reveal of Erik’s hideous face, are thrown away early on. Aside from these memorable images, its strength lies in the journalistic evocation of the setting. —RDL

divider

Episode 193: Bonaparte Eyes

June 3rd, 2016 | Robin

In Ask Ken and Robin, Patreon backer Andrew Jones asks about working with Greg Stafford.

The History Hut looks at the post-WWI occupation of Istanbul, as requested by Alexander Perman.

How to Write Good rips the lid off of our least favorite fake stock moments in fiction.

Finally the Conspiracy Corner finds Timothy Coram asking us to make something of the Westfield Watcher.

Support the KARTAS Patreon!


Attention, class! Anchor sponsor Atlas Games wants to enroll you in Mad Scientist University, the card game of evil genius, insane assignments, and unstable elements. Act now, Ken and Robin listeners, and they’ll throw in the Spring Break expansion set for free. Shipping within the US is also free. 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. 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.

 

divider

Ken and Robin Consume Media: Stone Cold Jane Austen

May 31st, 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

Love & Friendship (Film, US/EU, Whit Stillman, 2016) Adventuress and manipulator Lady Susan Vernon (Kate Beckinsale) dodges scandal while seeking suitable marriages for herself and, if she must, her daughter. Comedian of manners Stillman adapts and expands on an early Jane Austen novella (q.v.), with just the joy and elan one would expect from the pairing. Beckinsale delightfully recalls her performance as the similarly egoistic Charlotte in Stillman’s Last Days of Disco; Sophie Corra’s editing adds still more sharpness. –KH

Love & Friendship (Film, US/EU, Whit Stillman, 2016) Scandalous widow Lady Susan (Kate Beckinsale) doesn’t let her desire to marry off her daughter get in the way of her yen for two separate handsome gentlemen. Stillman’s eye for the inner workings of insular social milieus and ear for sparkling dialogue make him the perfect director to showcase the side of Austen most screen adaptations downplay–the wit. Tom Bennett enters the all-time cinematic upper class twit hall of fame with his hilarious portrayal of hapless suitor Sir James Martin.–RDL

The Mind Reader (Film, US, Roy del Ruth, 1933) Carnival fortune teller (Warren William) falls for a decent girl who believes his powers are real. Satirical drama crackling with pre-Code cynicism and the usual delightful performance from pencil-mustached William, who was George Sanders before George Sanders was George Sanders. Steal all the characters and locales, add tentacles, shake in a bag till you have a new plotline, and you’ve got yourself a Trail of Cthulhu scenario. —RDL

Nice Guys (Film, US, Shane Black, 2016) Wannabe do-gooder thug Healy (Russell Crowe) and feckless drunk P.I. March (Ryan Gosling) stumble into a tangled web of murder in an aggressively production-designed 1977 Los Angeles; a riotous Shane Black movie ensues. Solid character writing and performances keep the film on an even keel throughout the hard-boiled near-farce. –KH

Supernatural Season 11 (TV, CW, 2015-2016) Sam and Dean keep on hunting monsters in between attempts to deal with God’s sister, the darkness, and her plans to destroy his creation. It’s quite an achievement to keep ringing the changes on the show’s tight parameters after over a decade on the air; this season keeps the plates spinning by tipping the balance toward the show’s lighter side. —RDL

Good

Lady Susan (Fiction, Jane Austen, 1794?) Epistolary novella archly describes the manipulations of Lady Susan Vernon, less moral and more intelligent than everyone around her. Its truncated conclusion (Austen apparently couldn’t figure out how to continue it in epistolary format) is its great flaw, but the letters crackle with Austen zingers. In a better world, Lady Susan Vernon eclipses even the wonderful Becky Sharp in the pantheon of English adventuresses. –KH

Mirage Men (Film, UK, John Lundberg, 2013) Documentary based on writer Mark Pilkington’s book of the same name enters the world of U.S. government UFO disinformation via the amiable, slightly defensive, irrationally plausible Richard Doty, an outed and self-confessed disinfo/counter-intelligence officer in the USAF Office of Special Investigation. As one might expect, it loses its narrative thread a few times, but the production is much better than made-for-cable bumf. If you know the field already, bump it up to Recommended. –KH

Okay

Altman (Film, Canada, Ron Mann, 2014) Affectionate look back at the career and family life of director Robert Altman. Altman left such a vast filmography that the documentary feature format allows only time for a zip through the basics. Bump up to “Recommended” if that’s what you’re looking for.—RDL

The Glory Guys (Film, US, Arnold Laven, 1965) Brooding cavalry captain (future horror writer Tom Tryon) and bullheaded scout (Harve Presnell) vie for the affections of a hot-blooded widow (Senta Berger) while awaiting an attack on the Sioux under a general with a rep for callously sacrificing his men. Stab at colorful widescreen entertainment with the black tar of screenwriter Sam Peckinpah’s doom-laden cynicism bubbling into it from below. Might be more than a curio if any of the three leads had a lick of star charisma.—RDL

Gotham Season 2 (TV, Fox, 2015-2016) While Jim Gordon has his hands full with various multi-villain assaults on the city, young Bruce Wayne continues to investigate the murders of his parents. Drops the case of the week structure in favor of straight-up serialized storytelling but still puts the characters through changes too fast for most of them to land.—RDL

Trail Street (Film, US, Ray Enright, 1947) Legendary marshal Bat Masterson (Randolph Scott) teams up with stand-up land agent (Robert Ryan) to protect farmers from a murderous cattle man. Comfortably formulaic entry made watchable by its stars and coot-specialist character actor George ‘Gabby’ Hayes. Up with wheat! Down with beef! —RDL

divider

Episode 192: Emulating a Genre That Doesn’t Exist

May 27th, 2016 | Robin

In the Gaming Hut we ponder a meta-terminology games designers might use to describe the purpose and function of the various sub-systems they build into roleplaying rules sets.

Now that Donald Trump has sewn up the Republican nomination, we head into  the Politics Hut to ask Ken what happened to his party, and whether he thinks he’ll get it back after the election.

Installment Two of Tell Me More highlights three Ken and Robin Consume Media items our Patreon backers wanted to hear more about: Batman v. Superman, Ambrose Bierce, and The Burglar’s Guide to the City.

Finally the Consulting Occultist satisfies Patreon backer Allen Wilkins’ desire to hear about writer Alan Moore’s occult thought.

Support the KARTAS Patreon!


It’s yo ho ho and a pocketful of doubloons as Atlas Games surveys the seven seas from the crow’s nest that is our coveted anchor sponsor slot. Parrot on its shoulder, it orders up another special deal for Ken and Robin listeners, this time in the form of their innovative game of piratical nautical warfare, Pieces of Eight.

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.

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.

divider

Ken and Robin Consume Media: Ghost Transit, Noir Identities and a Murderous Jigsaw Puzzle

May 24th, 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

Les Cousins (Film, France, Claude Chabrol, 1959) Earnest student arrives in Paris to stay with his cousin, the theatrically overbearing center of a whirlwind party set, only to see him shack up with the young woman he’s fallen for. Like La Dolce Vita or Dazed and Confused, acutely portrays the rites and rhythms of an exuberant but fragile social scene.—RDL

The Ghost Network (Fiction, Catie Disabato, 2014) A Situationist pop icon vanishes in Chicago; her obsessed fan vanishes searching for her; the key seems to lie in the “ghost network” of lost or never-built Chicago subway and L lines. Disabato writes as the “editor” of another (imaginary) author’s non-fiction true crime book — so it’s a Situationist In Cold Blood metafiction about secret Chicago mass transit, so yes it’s written entirely for me. It could stand some punching up of character motivations, and two or three historical facts get badly mangled, but it’s still a heck of a first novel.–KH

H.H. Holmes Murder Castle Jigsaw Puzzle (Puzzle, Holly Carden, 2016) This 513-piece jigsaw puzzle depicts a cutaway of the legendary H.H. Holmes “Murder Castle” hotel in 1893 Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood. Only moderately challenging as a jigsaw but ultimately quite absorbing as an art experience, especially one in which you have to keep asking “now, which expiring victim goes here”? –KH

Zero Focus (Film, Japan, Yoshitaro Nomura, 1962) Woman’s husband disappears one week into their marriage, sending her on an investigative journey to the bleak, snow-swept town where he was supposedly wrapping up some business affairs. Moody, noirish mystery knitted together by flashbacks, some of the Rashomon variety.–RDL

Good

Crooked (Fiction, Austin Grossman, 2015) The true and secret magical history of the Cold War, as told by Richard Nixon, our last sorcerer-president. The notes of near-Mythos occultism are excellent, as is the secret history by and large, but the temptation to caricature overwhelms Grossman to the detriment of character. For those into this kind of thing, the absurdist Hunter-Thompson-meets-HPL novel The Damned Highway  by Brian Keene and Nick Mamatas did all of it better.—KH

The Crooked Way (Film, US, Robert Florey, 1949) Amnesiac war hero returning to L.A. in search of his identity discovers that he used to be a gangster and that his former accomplices are none too happy to have him back. Gives up on its existential themes in favor of standard procedural obstacles, but worth a look for great noir photography from John Alton and its use of Los Angeles locations.—RDL

The Doctor and the Devils (Film, US, Freddie Francis, 1985) Spurred by the needs of an arrogant pioneering anatomist (Timothy Dalton), a pair of vicious new entrants into the cadaver supply business (Jonathan Pryce, Stephen Rea) murder their way past the competition. Upscale fictionalization of the Burke and Hare from Hammer alum Francis revels in grotty Victoriansploitation, In the highly theatrical acting style that pervaded prestige dramas for in the late 70s and early 80s. Adapted by Ronald Harwood from a Dylan Thomas screenplay written in the 40s. —RDL

Legends of Tomorrow Season 1 (TV, CW, 2016) Renegade time agent recruits a ragtag band of superheroes and villains to stop an evil immortal from conquering history. Engaging characterizations and performances do much heavy lifting, compensating for wobbly structures, copious idiot plotting, and a miscast big bad who projects all the menace of a mumbling hamster.—RDL

divider

Episode 191: In Case I Trip Over a Sand Dune

May 20th, 2016 | Robin

Patreon supporter Tim Brandis kicks us off with an Ask Ken and Robin question about which of our core design beliefs might have evolved over time.

In the Tradecraft Hut we reach way back to that most classic of espionage scandals, the Dreyfus Affair.

The Cinema Hut finds us in Stetsons and spurs for an introductory course on the Western.

Finally, backer Chris McNeil requests that Ken’s Time Machine be put to use making the medieval peasant revolt of Ken’s choice successful.

Support the KARTAS Patreon!


It’s yo ho ho and a pocketful of doubloons as Atlas Games surveys the seven seas from the crow’s nest that is our coveted anchor sponsor slot. Parrot on its shoulder, it orders up another special deal for Ken and Robin listeners, this time in the form of their innovative game of piratical nautical warfare, Pieces of Eight. 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.

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.

divider
Film Cannister
Cartoon Rocket
d8
Flying Clock
Robin
Film Cannister