Grimoire
Cthulhu
Dracula
Abraham Lincoln
Ken
Grimoire

Ken and Robin Consume Media: Does a Razor Crest Get Flyer Miles?

July 14th, 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

Child of Light (Nonfiction, Madison Smartt Bell, 2020) Biography of the American novelist Robert Stone (Dog Soldiers, Outerbridge Reach) lucidly documents a life spanning from the IBM Selectric 60s to the era of literary festivals, creative writing programs and the word processor. Bell, a friend and colleague, details Stone’s struggles with such obstacles as depression, chronic pain, and prodigious substance abuse, fortunately anchored by an enduring marriage to his savvy, protective spouse Janice.—RDL

Craig Ferguson Presents: Hobo Fabulous Season 1 (Television, US, Joe Bolter, Comedy Dynamics, 2019) More (but not a lot more) than a tour film split up into episodes, the series follows Craig Ferguson on his 2019 tour and into introspection about the nature of stand-up and of his life as he approaches sixty. How much you’re likely to get out of it depends on how much you care about those things, and how much you appreciate Craig’s discursive, open style. –KH

Hamilton (Film, US, Thomas Kail, 2020) Immigrant overachiever (Lin-Manuel Miranda) takes a pivotal role in the Revolutionary War, selling of the Federalist Papers, and establishment of the federal banking system, frequently shouldering aside equally advancement hungry politician Aaron Burr (Leslie Odom Jr.) Among the audacious moves of this aesthetically ambitious work about ambition: fusing hip hop and Broadway, taking on American pop culture’s least favorite period of American history, and bringing recitative back.—RDL

The Mandalorian Season 1 (Television, US, Jon Favreau, Disney+, 2019) Devoutly helmeted bounty hunter (Pedro Pascal) reneges on a delivery when he discovers that his quarry is a (green, big-eared, Force-wielding) child, and his client (Werner Herzog) an imperial revanchist. Where the Abrams flicks revere the iconic moments of classic Star Wars, Favreau and his collaborators love the setting, allowing for storytelling that arises from the original without recapitulating it. In doing so it reaches into Lucas’ inspirations in Ford and Kurosawa, adding hefty portions of Leone and “The Rifleman.”—RDL

Medallion Status: True Stories from Secret Rooms (Nonfiction, John Hodgman, 2019) In a series of comic autobiographical essays, Hodgman turns quotidian anecdotes of tour life, the Chateau Marmont, pre-career jobs and his airline mileage plan of choice into platforms for wit and humane observation. An ideal “imagine-yourself-safely-on—a- beach” read. —RDL

Good

The Old Guard (Film, US, Gina Prince-Bythewood, 2020) Andromache (Charlize Theron) and her immortal mercenary team break in a new recruit (Kiki Layne) while hunting their CIA contact (Chiwetel Eijofor) who (shockingly! inevitably!) betrayed them to a weaselly pharma executive. Fight coordinator Danny Hernandez’ lackluster fights mostly land between the balletic melodrama of John Wick and the gritty realism of Atomic Blonde — kind of the problem with the whole film, in a way. Fightin’ immortal mercs is a great high concept, but nobody seems to want to do anything original or (God forbid) fun with it here. –KH

divider

Episode 403: Someone Thought to Give It Beer

July 10th, 2020 | Robin

In the Gaming Hut we look at villain plans, and why they have to make sense in investigative games.

The Food Hut goes to the drive-thru for a double-double as beloved Patreon backers Tim Maness and Jean Bauer ask for an explanation of the mythic role the Tim Hortons donut chain plays in the Canadian psyche.

Ken and Robin Recycle Audio with a nerdtrope of the 100 Years War and pod people from our YouTube episode of Ken and Robin Live.

Finally the Eliptony Hut reveals, at the behest of stalwart Patreon backer Drew, the truth behind Theodore Roosevelt’s fabled hunt for the snallygaster.

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.


You know your dance crew is the hottest around… but now it’s time to prove it. Breakdancing Meeples is a real-time dexterity game of, you guessed it, breakdancing meeples, designed by Ben Moy and published by Atlas Games. Two to four people, ages six and up, compete for dancefloor glory, in five exciting minutes.

You’ve heard him talk about it. Now you can get it at retail or in the Pelgrane Press store: The Yellow King Roleplaying Game. Shatter your world with this eerie, physically imposing GUMSHOE game of decadent art and multiple existences. For a limited time only, enter the voucher code YELLOW at the Pelgrane shop to get 15% off all Yellow King items when you combine the core set with Absinthe in Carcosa and/or The Missing and the Lost.

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!

Arc Dream Publishing’s Shane Ivey brings you Swords and Sorceries, fifth edition adventure in a sea-swept world inspired by ancient myth. Seek your fortunes, or find gruesome death in the tombs of forgotten gods and evils best left buried. Seize all three adventures, Sea Demon’s Gold, Song of the Sun Queens, and Tomb of Fire, today!

divider

Ken and Robin Consume Media: Harlem Renaissance Detecting, Italian Renaissance Painting, and That Play You’ve Heard About

July 7th, 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

The Collector of Lives: Giorgio Vasari and the Invention of Art (Nonfiction, Noah Charney and Ingrid Rowland, 2017) Biography of Tuscan Renaissance painter and architect Giorgio Vasari, whose 1550 book Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects established the precepts of art history as we know it. Packed with lively detail on its obsessively deadline-meeting protagonist, and also his precursors, contemporaries, and era.—RDL

The Conjure-Man Dies (Fiction, Rudolph Fisher, 1932) Harlem doctor John Archer and black NYPD detective Perry Dart must solve the murder of a West African conjure-man which rapidly becomes more than even the impossible crime it appeared. This first detective novel by an African-American writer joins Golden Age structure with Hammett-style street culture, without any white characters. The mystery compels, and if the ending is somewhat abrupt the narrative continuously fascinates and surprises on the way there. –KH

Dark and Bloody Ground: A True Story of Lust, Greed, and Murder in the Bluegrass State (Nonfiction, Darcy O’Brien, 1993) Fired East Kentucky prison guard becomes the accomplice of her chiseled felon lover as he joins a home invasion gang, whose loot later ensnares a colorful defense attorney. Minutely reported true crime saga situates its depraved criminal protagonists, who would be at home in either an Elmore Leonard novel or a Coen brothers film, in the broader context of place and social milieu.—RDL

Ford v Ferrari (Film, US, James Mangold, 2019) Sidelined by heart trouble, a determined former Le Mans champ (Matt Damon) enlists a hotheaded driver (Christian Bale) in the Ford Motor Company’s quixotic plan to beat legendary Italian car designer Enzo Ferrari at that most harrowing of competitions. With an expansiveness reminiscent of 60s widescreen epics, fits the many challenges of the race car flick into the reliable and satisfying chassis of a makers vs. suits story.—RDL

Hamilton (Film, US, Thomas Kail, 2020) Alexander Hamilton (Lin-Manuel Miranda) joins the Revolution, serves under George Washington, founds American capitalism, and dies in a duel against Aaron Burr (Leslie Odom, Jr.). Cut together from film of two 2016 original-cast performances of the smash musical, the movie essentially offers a “you are there” experience while reveling in the actors’ performances. Patriotic, optimistic, multiracial, and centrist, a fitting embodiment of the Obama era’s self-image. –KH

Good

Circus of Books (Film, Rachel Mason, 2019) Documentarian trains her lens on her self-certain mom and affable dad as they close up the West Hollywood porn emporium that for decades served as a fulcrum for L.A.’s gay community. Balances sweet family portraiture with community history at a time of sudden social change.—RDL

Eurovision Song Contest: the Story of Fire Saga (Film, David Dobkin, 2020) Oblivious dimwit (Will Ferrell) teams with the sweetly positive dimwit (Rachel McAdams) who has always loved him to pursue unlikely pop victory for their native Iceland at the titular celebration of titanic kitsch. Amiable spin on the Ferrell formula likely earns a star for those equipped to get the affectionate Eurovision in-jokes.—RDL

Okay

Jay and Silent Bob Reboot (Film, US, Kevin Smith, 2019) Conned out of their names by a Hollywood studio, Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith) head across the country to stop a reboot of Bluntman & Chronic and yes you’ve already seen this film in 2001, except then it had a budget and production values. Mewes has aged even worse than his acting, and Smith mugs more than usual, rendering sadly painful what should be at least a snicker-worthy nostalgia trip. Even as a devoted Askewniverse fan, Okay is as high as I go. –KH

Shockproof (Film, US, Douglas Sirk, 1949) Tough but naive parole officer Griff Marat (Cornel Wilde) gets in too deep when trying to pry a sultry murderer (Patricia Knight) from the suave gambler who led her down the path to crime. The main interest here is seeing a Samuel Fuller script realized by a more polished stylist, but you have to go in prepared for a tacked-on happy ending to lazily handwave away the noir moral transgression at the heart of the story.—RDL

divider

Episode 402: NBIMBY

July 3rd, 2020 | Robin

Beloved Patreon backer Bob Grider invites us into the Gaming Hut to discuss top-down vs bottom-up design.

Discerning Patreon backer Allen Wilkins invokes his Ask Ken and Robin powers to request a mash-up of Night’s Black Agents and The Prisoner.

The History Hut looks at Saskatchewan-born strongman Édouard Beaupré, aka Beaupré the Giant, and his excellent reasons for haunting Montreal. (Before you write in, Robin misspeaks at one point, referring to tuberculosis as “eradicated” instead of “brought under control.”)

Finally esteemed Patreon backer Wayne Rossi steps into the Archaeology Hut to ask Ken to discourse on a random item listed in the book Spooky Archaeology by Jeb Card, which the die roll decrees to be the Tomb of Maeshowe, in Orkney, Scotland.

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.


You know your dance crew is the hottest around… but now it’s time to prove it. Breakdancing Meeples is a real-time dexterity game of, you guessed it, breakdancing meeples, designed by Ben Moy and published by Atlas Games. Two to four people, ages six and up, compete for dancefloor glory, in five exciting minutes.

You’ve heard him talk about it. Now you can get it at retail or in the Pelgrane Press store: The Yellow King Roleplaying Game. Shatter your world with this eerie, physically imposing GUMSHOE game of decadent art and multiple existences. For a limited time only, enter the voucher code YELLOW at the Pelgrane shop to get 15% off all Yellow King items when you combine the core set with Absinthe in Carcosa and/or The Missing and the Lost.

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!

Arc Dream Publishing’s Shane Ivey brings you Swords and Sorceries, fifth edition adventure in a sea-swept world inspired by ancient myth. Seek your fortunes, or find gruesome death in the tombs of forgotten gods and evils best left buried. Seize all three adventures, Sea Demon’s Gold, Song of the Sun Queens, and Tomb of Fire, today!

divider

Ken and Robin Consume Media: Verbal Fireworks in Deadwood and Greece

June 30th, 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

Bell, Book and Candle (Film, US, Richard Quine, 1958) Greenwich Village witch Gillian Holroyd (Kim Novak) selfishly ensorcels her neighbor Shep Henderson (Jimmy Stewart) only to find true love rearing its head. If you can get over Stewart being twice Novak’s age (which only works in Vertigo because it’s a creepy stalker story) this weird kind-of beat, kind-of-dark romcom has a lot going for it, including Jack Lemmon as Gillian’s brother, James Wong Howe’s underplayed but brilliant lensing, and the Oscar-winning costumes by Jean Louis. Kim Novak is always cool and wonderful, and Kim Novak with a cat, well, abracadabra! –KH

Deadwood: the Movie (Film, US, Daniel Minahan, 2019) Ten years after Swearingen (Ian McShane) faked Trixie’s (Paula Malcolmson) death to protect her from George Hearst (Gerald McRaney) , the psychopathic magnate returns to Deadwood to again flout the ire of Sheriff Bullock (Timothy Olyphant.) Belated, unexpectedly sweet  wrap-up to the groundbreakingly foul-mouthed HBO western benefits from the concision of the movie format.—RDL

The Trip to Greece (Film, UK, Michael Winterbottom, 2020) Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon’s semi-fictional personae reunite for one last feast of gourmet cuisine, celebrity impressions, and razzing. The higher stakes of the finale, and the intermittent conceit of following the route of the Odyssey from Troy to Ithaca (featuring Sirens and a visit to Hades) leave the film feeling slightly discordant, but the byplay remains delicious. –KH

Good

Deadwood Season 3 (Television, US, HBO, David Milch, 2006) George Hearst (Gerald McRaney) tightens his grip on the camp; Swearingen’s old actor friend (Brian Cox) sets up shop in town. With nothing happening in episode 12 that couldn’t have happened in episode 1, we see that Milch stopped the series because a fourth season would have required some sort of plot to finally coalesce. Still the riffed scenes of quasi-Shakespearean frontier profanity continue to divert while they’re playing out.—RDL

Gary Gulman: Boyish Man (Stand-up, Gary Gulman, 2006) Gulman’s early act still shows its Seinfeldian influences, and the way-too-frequent cuts to the audience don’t allow him to build momentum. Nevertheless, any routine with a strong eleven minutes on cookies has something going for it. –KH

The Wrecking Crew (Film, US, Denny Tedesco, 2008) Coalescing under Phil Spector, an elite group of session musicians essentially played on every important piece of pop and rock music recorded in Los Angeles from 1962 to 1973 (drummer Hal Blaine had 170 gold records, for instance). Guitarist Tommy Tedesco’s illness in 1996 galvanized his son into gathering footage and interviews, and organizing a reunion of the core Crew, but the resulting doc only intermittently highlights its subject and ironically never settles into a groove. –KH

Okay

The Whole Town’s Talking (Film, US, John Ford, 1935) Danger descends on a meek clerk (Edward G. Robinson) when an identical fugitive armed robber arrives in town. Ford would clearly rather be making a straight-up gangster flick instead of a mistaken identity comedy, and the script both wastes Jean Arthur and spends twice as long as it should getting to the obvious thing that has to happen to satisfy the premise.—RDL

Not Recommended

Slightly French (Film, US, Douglas Sirk, 1949) Bullying film director (Don Ameche) convinces a carnival performer (Dorothy Lamour) to pretend to be French in order to take over as the new leading lady in his latest musical. Wan Pygmalion riff shows Sirk’s facility with pacing and integration of composition and production design, but not the rest of the signature ironic melodrama style of his peak mid-50s run.—RDL

divider

Episode 401: Chorus Cubed

June 26th, 2020 | Robin

In the Gaming Hut, Ken introduces us to the meta-textual, meme-filled wonderland that is his Fall of Delta Green player group.

The Crime Blotter visits the wild mobbed-up years when Montreal Quebec was the  Vegas of the north.

In How To Write Good a question from beloved Patreon backer Daniel Gill prompts a look at present tense and other contemporary literary devices in fantasy fiction.

Finally Ken’s Time Machine attempts a difficult bank shot. Time Inc. has always wanted to prevent the Robert Kennedy assassination. But how to do it without, as detailed in this Smithsonian piece by Kevin Sandler, erasing Scooby Doo from the timeline?

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.


The place you only think you remember explodes with weird danger in Welcome to the Island, the first adventure anthology for Over the Edge from Atlas Games. Launch brand new stories, add intriguing complications to your existing arcs, or create exciting one-shots that bring the weird to your gaming table.

You’ve heard him talk about it. Now you can get it at retail or in the Pelgrane Press store: The Yellow King Roleplaying Game. Shatter your world with this eerie, physically imposing GUMSHOE game of decadent art and multiple existences. For a limited time only, enter the voucher code YELLOW at the Pelgrane shop to get 15% off all Yellow King items when you combine the core set with Absinthe in Carcosa and/or The Missing and the Lost.

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!

Arc Dream Publishing’s Shane Ivey brings you Swords and Sorceries, fifth edition adventure in a sea-swept world inspired by ancient myth. Seek your fortunes, or find gruesome death in the tombs of forgotten gods and evils best left buried. Seize all three adventures, Sea Demon’s Gold, Song of the Sun Queens, and Tomb of Fire, today!

divider

Ken and Robin Consume Media: Trader Joe’s, Gene Editing, and an Unlikely Vampire Hunter

June 23rd, 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

Da 5 Bloods (Film, US, Spike Lee, 2020) With a tagalong son (Jonathan Majors) in tow, a tight knit group of Vietnam veterans (Delroy Lindo, Clarke Peters, Isiah Whitlock Jr,, Norm Lewis) reunites there today to hunt for a chest of CIA gold. It’s always rewarding to see Lee get to paint on a big canvas, and here he seizes on an expansive Netflix running time to present strongly acted drama while also building a new cinematic language that provides a distinctively Spikean take on the agitprop tradition.—RDL

Gary Gulman: It’s About Time (Stand-up, Gary Gulman, 2016) Although Gulman’s later talk-show polish improves classic bits like alphabetizing the states and the panegyric to Trader Joe’s, in this touring context they take on an infectious rambling energy. Gulman revels in the sheer joy of word shaping as much as he does his epic constructed bits. –KH

What We Do in the Shadows Season 2 (Television, US, Paul Simms, FX, 2020) Oblivious to the assassins sent by the undead authorities, and resultant increasing vampire-skilling progress of their  put-upon human servant Guillermo (Harvey Guillén), the bloodsucking housemates deal with witches, email curses, and their various petty concerns. The show fully hits its stride, dumping the sometimes hacky jokes of season 1 and finding a balance between story arc and individual sitcom premises.—RDL

Okay

A Crack in Creation: Gene Editing and the Unthinkable Power to Control Evolution (Nonfiction, Jennifer A. Doudna and Samuel H. Sternberg, 2015) Prime movers behind the CRISPR gene editing technology lay out its science and the institutional and ethical challenges it introduces. The first half, covering the gob-smackingly weird bacterial origins of the technique, is fascinating, but the second is written with the full tactical blandness of seasoned administrators with political interests to protect.—RDL

Just Mercy (Film, US, Destin Daniel Cretton, 2019) Crusading black lawyer Bryan Stephenson (Michael B. Jordan) investigates the railroading of black ne’er-do-well Walter McMillian (Jamie Foxx) for the murder of a girl in Alabama. Paint-by-numbers script botches the compression of real events, removing crucial grounding from its attempt at a latter-day To Kill a Mockingbird (endlessly and clangingly name-dropped). Jordan plays the whole film locked into a narrow indignant range, but the movie does no better by Foxx (who gives a fine, layered performance) and Rob Morgan (excellent as a guilty condemned murderer with PTSD). Brie Larson’s ludicrous Alabama accent is the icing on the  cornpone. –KH

Tight Spot (Film, US, Phil Karlson, 1955) Unrelenting prosecutor (Edward G. Robinson) and hardbitten cop (Brian Keith) whisk sassy convict (Ginger Rogers) to a hotel room to pressure her into testifying against a mob boss. Crime drama stage plays used to be a thing, as the existence of this talky adaptation, held together by star power, attests.—RDL

Not Recommended

5 Against the House (Film, US, Phil Karlson, 1955) Four college students including a pair of Korean war vets at law school on the G.I. Bill (Al Mercer, Brian Keith) are drawn step by step into turning a thought experiment about robbing a casino into an actual heist. (The fifth character against the house is Kim Novak as fiance to the level-headed veteran.) The heist takes a few minutes, with the rest of the film devoted to overwritten personal drama. Based on a short story by Jack Finney (Invasion of the Body Snatchers.).—RDL

divider

Episode 400: LIGHTNING ROUND!!!

June 19th, 2020 | Robin

On August 3, 2012, Ken and Robin debuted into a podcast-starved world the first edition of their weekly podcast. Stuff we talked about incluuuuded a brand new game called Night’s Black Agents, the Continuum convention in the UK, the role of the GM in game design, and the Golden Dawn.

Eightish years later, we bring you our 400th episode, and you know what that means—LIGHTNING ROUND!! Bolts of celebratory electrical power come courtesy of our Patreon backers, without which we could not do this show. They incluuude redesigning classic games, scenarios as movies, steampunk ancient Greece, and so much more.

Raise a virtual and/or actual glass in celebration of this milestone in erudite audio nonsense!

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.


If you believe that games should have dwarves, that dwarves should roll dice, and that true camaraderie is hollering “Cheers!” and sharing a beer, then Dice Miner is for you. Avoid dragons and cave-ins as you roll custom dice down a 3D mountain. Kickstarting as of May 26, from Atlas Games.

You’ve heard him talk about it. Now you can get it at retail or in the Pelgrane Press store: The Yellow King Roleplaying Game. Shatter your world with this eerie, physically imposing GUMSHOE game of decadent art and multiple existences. For a limited time only, enter the voucher code YELLOW at the Pelgrane shop to get 15% off all Yellow King items when you combine the core set with Absinthe in Carcosa and/or The Missing and the Lost.

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!

Arc Dream Publishing’s Shane Ivey brings you Swords and Sorceries, fifth edition adventure in a sea-swept world inspired by ancient myth. Seek your fortunes, or find gruesome death in the tombs of forgotten gods and evils best left buried. Seize all three adventures, Sea Demon’s Gold, Song of the Sun Queens, and Tomb of Fire, today!

divider

Ken and Robin Consume Media: Spike, Orson, and the Eameses

June 16th, 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

Cogan’s Trade (Fiction, George V. Higgins, 1974) Boston parolees plan to knock over a high-stakes card game; a hit man and his bosses then plan to rub them out. An extended exploration of the verbal tics, petty complaints and circumlocutions that flow from the mouths of career criminals as they talk their way into acts of stupidity and violence, from a writer who knew its banal rhythms well. Filmed by Andrew Dominik as 2012’s Killing Them Softly, faithful in plot detail yet to markedly different emotional effect.—RDL

Da 5 Bloods (Film, US, Spike Lee, 2020) Four aging black Vietnam vets (Delroy Lindo, Clarke Peters, Norm Lewis, Isaiah Whitlock Jr.) return to where their platoon sergeant (Chadwick Boseman) was killed — and where they left a CIA gold shipment buried. Lee joins his own increasing didacticism with the near-melodrama inherent to war movies to produce a satisfying emotional spectacle, anchored by  strong performances (especially from Lindo, Peters, and Whitlock), effective battle scenes, and a fine Terence Blanchard score interspersed with Marvin Gaye. –KH

Eames: The Architect and the Painter (Film, US, Jason Cohn and Bill Jersey, 2011) Documentary profile of married designers and filmmakers Charles and Ray Eames, who from their iconic chairs to museum shows and industrial films instilled modernism with a jazzy beauty.—RDL

The Eyes of Orson Welles (Film, UK, Mark Cousins, 2018) Critic/documentarian Cousins uses Orson Welles’ lifelong sketching habit as an entry point into a passionate account of his life and work, framed as a letter to the towering yet snakebit director. No one thinks, analyzes, or narrates like Cousins, who lets his idiosyncrasies gloriously fly, bouncing from formalist observation to fanciful dialogue with its subject.—RDL

Killing Eve Season 3 (Television, UK, BBC America, Suzanne Heathcote, 2020) Eve (Sandra Oh) attempts to remain incognito in a restaurant kitchen until the urge to track down Villanelle (Jodie Comer), now trying to rise to command level in the Twelve, inevitably overcomes her. Successfully hides the wiring of the investigatIve thriller while also keeping the leads mostly apart.—RDL

Good

The Tall Target (Film, US, Anthony Mann, 1951) New York police sergeant John Kennedy (Dick Powell) hunts assassination plotters on the crowded overnight train from New York to Baltimore in February 1861. Mann’s tightly controlled shots, lighting, and pacing build tension and atmosphere, but Powell’s inward-focused surliness works against the film. Ruby Dee as the enslaved Rachel is superb, though. –KH

Okay

Murder in Mesopotamia (Fiction, Agatha Christie, 1936) Hercule Poirot investigates the murder of an archaeologist’s wife in Iraq. Unlike Josephine Tey, Christie’s novels stand or fall on their plots — her characters, by and large, are cardboard cutouts inhabiting alibis and dialogue shorthand. Unlike John Dickson Carr (also better at plotting), she describes rather than depicts atmosphere. Strangely, although she surely had the skills to produce a tautly plotted mystery set in a convincing archaeological dig, she didn’t do that here. –KH

Peace Breaker (Film, HK, Lien Yi-chi, 2017) Corrupt Kuala Lumpur cop (Aaron Kwok) kills a man in a hit-and-run and frantically proceeds to cover it up. Remakes Kim Seong-hun’s A Hard Day without the black humor that made it work. See the original instead.—RDL

divider

Episode 399: Webster’s Defines a Shoggoth As

June 12th, 2020 | Robin

The Gaming Hut goes below the depths for beloved Patreon backer Hector Trelane, who seeks tips on adapting the feel of Wolfgang Petersen’s 1981 classic Das Boot into a roleplaying setting.

How to Write Good revisits the issue of prose style in RPG books with more tips to strengthen and clarify your work.

Fun With Science follows a tip from esteemed Patreon backer Gabriel Rossman, who has discovered a peculiar case of a scientific paper published under the stolen identities of researchers who had nothing to do with it.

Finally theatrically appalled Patreon backer Brian Malcolm demands redress for recent aspersions cast on Davenport, Iowa, in the form of an Ask Ken and Robin segment devoted to the manifold historical and eliptonic wonders of that beatific municipality.

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.


If you believe that games should have dwarves, that dwarves should roll dice, and that true camaraderie is hollering “Cheers!” and sharing a beer, then Dice Miner is for you. Avoid dragons and cave-ins as you roll custom dice down a 3D mountain. Kickstarting as of May 26, from Atlas Games.

You’ve heard him talk about it. Now you can get it at retail or in the Pelgrane Press store: The Yellow King Roleplaying Game. Shatter your world with this eerie, physically imposing GUMSHOE game of decadent art and multiple existences. For a limited time only, enter the voucher code YELLOW at the Pelgrane shop to get 15% off all Yellow King items when you combine the core set with Absinthe in Carcosa and/or The Missing and the Lost.

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!

Arc Dream Publishing’s Shane Ivey brings you Swords and Sorceries, fifth edition adventure in a sea-swept world inspired by ancient myth. Seek your fortunes, or find gruesome death in the tombs of forgotten gods and evils best left buried. Seize all three adventures, Sea Demon’s Gold, Song of the Sun Queens, and Tomb of Fire, today!

divider
Film Cannister
Cartoon Rocket
d8
Flying Clock
Robin
Film Cannister