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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Cage Hits the Pinnacle, Magic Performance Art, and Tarantino Self-Novelizes

July 27th, 2021 | Robin

Ken and Robin Consume Media is brought to you by the discriminating and good-looking backers of the Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff Patreon. Each week we provide capsule reviews of the books, movies, TV seasons and more we cram into our hyper-analytical sensoriums. Join the Patreon to help pick the items we’ll talk about in greater depth on a little podcast segment we like to call Tell Me More.

The Pinnacle

Pig (Film, US, Michael Sarnoski, 2021) Grizzled off-the-grid truffle hunter Robin (Nicolas Cage) leaves the woods for the city in search of his abducted truffle pig. This is absolutely not “John Wick but with a pig”. Layered reveals build character and quasi-mythic story (archetypally Myrddin, the Wild Prophet of the Woods) in tandem, punctuated by superb physical acting by Cage, and equally superb performances by Alex Wolff as his reluctant helpmeet and Adam Arkin embodying the corruption and cruelty inherent in the modern food scene. A Pinnacle on a keynote of grief. –KH

Recommended

Forbidden Science 3: On the Trail of Hidden Truths, The Journals of Jacques Vallee 1980-1989 (Nonfiction, Jacques Vallee, 2013) UFOlogy’s existential heretic keeps up with the times by becoming a venture capitalist, as the field is overtaken by abduction mythology and a shadowy cast of disinformation agents. Another essential wellspring of Eliptony, with any slackening of interest being the fault of the 80s and not the author. Also he convinces his wife to let him build a tower for his books, not that I know anyone who would aspire to that.—RDL

In & Of Itself (Filmed Theater, US, Hulu, Frank Oz, 2020) Magician/performance artist Derek Delgaudio repurposes card magic and mentalism to explore fables of identity involving elephants, Russian roulette, and intolerance experienced as the child of a gay woman. Attention-grabbing presentation fuses the aesthetics of Ricky Jay and Spalding Gray, provoking audience epiphany via classic trickery.—RDL

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Fiction,Quentin Tarantino, 2021) Less a straight novelization of Tarantino’s film than a second approach to the main characters — the entire third act becomes a one-paragraph flash-forward on page 110. Tarantino’s choices in fiction as in film are idiosyncratic collages, including ample film-criticism, studio gossip, fourth-wall breaking comments about the novel’s greater opportunity to depict a hero’s immorality, and a whole two chapters of what appear to be the novel that Lancer came from in the film’s continuity. Like Ellroy or Leonard (two clear models), once you get into the author’s rhythm, the pages fly past; just as I did after the movie ended, I wanted a whole lot more time with the characters. –KH

Raining in the Mountain (Film, Taiwan, King Hu, 1979) A fake-pious businessman and corrupt general vie to steal a priceless sutra scroll from a monastery as its abbot searches for a successor. A simple martial arts narrative serves as framework for Hu’s compositional mastery, arranging figures, structures and landscapes with a sublime harmony that echoes the script’s Buddhist message.—RDL

Good

F9 (Film, US, Justin Lin, 2021) When his jealous brother Jake (John Cena) brings down Mr. Nobody’s plane, Dom (Vin Diesel) reluctantly joins his team to stop Jake’s Eurotrash boss (Thue Ersted Rasmussen) from stealing a super-cyberweapon. A bit of a reset that pares the core cast back from F8 bloat (but returns a welcome Han (Sung Kang)), it suffers from lack of villain focus as Cena, Rasmussen, and a returned Charlize Theron all take turns trying to break Dom in various ways. The Jake-and-Dom backstory likewise probably takes up more weight than it needs to, although it’s a refreshing callback to the first, still underrated, film in the franchise. –KH

The Flash Season 7 (Television, US, CW, Eric Wallace, 2021) As longtime team members depart and newer ones step up, Flash confronts an imbalance of cosmic forces and battles the many clones of Godspeed. In another of its returns to form, the show recommits to its core elements of speedster fights and Hallmark moments. Though the series is definitely in its dotage, it did manage eighteen episodes of costumed comfort viewing in the middle of a pandemic, and we all deserve to be graded on a curve right now.—RDL

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Episode 455: Ambush Us With Ghosts

July 23rd, 2021 | Robin

The Gaming Hut hits the streets, many of them, for a look at designing scenarios to introduce a city.

We find the Crime Blotter is covered in ancient leather and animal glue, our cue to find the gaming in the fake Biblical scrolls purchased by the Museum of the Bible.

In Ask Ken and Robin, Louis Sylvester asks for a rundown of generational issues found in fiction and movies.

Then numerology takes on a TikTok twist as the Consulting Occultist examines Grabovoi numbers.

Want to pose a question to the show? Get your priority question asking access with your support for the KARTAS Patreon!

Our Patreon-backed Letterboxd list of all films mentioned on the show is now up and running.

Also check out the Goodreads list of books mentioned on the show.

Snag Ken and Robin merchandise at TeePublic.


Bears need hairstyles! Lumberjacks need beards! Be friends to both in Yukon Salon, a quick, humorous, family card game in a tin, from our snow-dappled pals at Atlas Games. Take Your Place at the Frontier of Style !

A murderous mystery lies beneath the gladiatorial arenas in the majestic, dragon-patrolled city of Axis. Only your first level 13th Age characters can confront it, in Crown of Axis, by Wade Rockett, now available at the Pelgrane Press shop.

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!

Fear Is a Fractal …and your world is a lie. A horror freed from an antique book reverberates through reality. But don’t despair. There is hope. A King waits for us. And Impossible Landscapes, the  first campaign for Delta Green: The Role-Playing Game waits for you. In PDF now, hardback in May. Hailed as “one of the best RPG campaigns ever made” and “a masterpiece of surreal horror!”

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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Loki, Gunpowder Milkshake, and Heinlein Dependence

July 20th, 2021 | 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 Big Sick (Film, US, Michael Showalter, 2017) The romance between Chicago standup Kumail (Kumail Nanjiani) and grad student Emily (Zoe Kazan) goes awry when he lies to her and she goes into a medically induced coma. The script (by Nanjiani and his real-life wife Emily V. Gordon) reliably and honestly produces laughs and tears, which used to be entry-level success for a rom-com but now rates genuine surprise. Holly Hunter and Ray Romano bat cleanup as Emily’s parents; Anupam Kher and Zenobia Shroff ace the more difficult position plays as Kumail’s disapproving folks. –KH

Midnight (Film, US, Mitchell Leisen, 1939) Arriving in Paris with nothing to her name but a gold lame dress, a plucky American (Claudette Colbert) agrees to continue posing as a countess in order to help a wily rich husband (John Barrymore) pry a pesky swain from his wife (Mary Astor.) But their plan doesn’t account for the determination of smitten taxi driver Don Ameche. Bubbling, witty screwball comedy adapted from a Hungarian stage play by the ace screenwriting team of Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder.—RDL

Withnail & I (Film, UK, Bruce Robinson, 1987) Unemployed nebbishy actor (Paul McGann) and his unemployed psycho actor flatmate Withnail (Richard E. Grant) take an extremely impromptu holiday in the Lake District. Grant’s justly acclaimed Pinnacle performance hilariously and alchemically combines all the watchable sins — rage, vanity, cruelty, drunkenness, and lies — but the rest of the cast does almost as well down to the very small parts; McGann manages to somehow convey deserving his horrible friend without making us despise him. –KH

Good

Loki Season 1 (Television, US, Disney+, Kate Herron, 2021) Displaced from the timeline, a previous version of the Asgardian trickster god (Tom Hiddleston) gets shanghaied into service as a time cop, partnered with laconic wisecracker Mobius M. Mobius (Owen Wilson.) The first five episodes dish out old-fashioned four-color fun, with zingy relationships and a structure emulating a comic storyline where each issue has its own distinct vibe. But by now we know the drill for Disney+ Marvel shows—the finale is yet another anticlimactic mess more interested in teasing future content than delivering a satisfying conclusion.—RDL

Okay

Gunpowder Milkshake (Film, US/Germany/France, Navot Papushado, 2021) A hit gone wrong prompts an assassin (Karen Gillan) to protect a kid from the mob, aided by her estranged killer mom (Lena Headey) and a trio of gun librarians (Angela Bassett, Carla Gugino, Michelle Yeoh.) I like stylistic nods to Leone and Bava at least as much as the next guy, but if you have five action leads and four of them aren’t Michelle Yeoh, you have to book the time to train them in the fight choreo instead of leaving it up to stunt doubles.—RDL

Make Happy (Standup, Netflix, Bo Burnham, 2016) Elaborately synchronized musical numbers interspersed with brief observational bits and jump-scare misdirection, all on the general theme of entertaining, and on the meta-theme of “I, Bo Burnham, am entertaining you by being edgy but not so edgy that you have to examine your relationship to the material or to me, Bo Burnham.” The trouble with meta-anything is that for it to be something besides self-congratulatory tailchasing there has to be something you’re actually willing to say, ideally something nobody else can (or will) say. If not, well … you can always claim you were being ironically ironic, I guess? –KH

Strongly Heinlein-Dependent

Powers of the Earth and Causes of Separation (Fiction, Travis I.J. Corcoran, 2017 and 2018) Anarcho-capitalist moon colony rebels against a statist Earth in 2064, complete with enigmatic AI and American Revolutionary parallels. This perfectly serviceable (if somewhat bloated) modernization of Robert A. Heinlein’s 1966 novel The Moon is a Harsh Mistress adds uplifted Dogs and breaks up the lectures but loses zero of the didacticism as its characters remain somewhat flatter. Your response will be one grade below your rating of Heinlein’s original. –KH

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Episode 454: A Disreputable Trade

July 16th, 2021 | Robin

Make sure anyone else in the room is really them as the Gaming Hut looks at fox spirits, doppelgangers, and other foes who disguise themselves as human.

The Tradecraft Hut profiles CIA operative, author, and coup arranger Miles Axe Copeland, Jr.

How to Write Good serves up tips on the revision process, from break taking to change tracking.

Finally beloved Patreon backer Steve Dempsey engages Ken’s Time Machine for a peek at the timeline where Oliver Cromwell picks his competent son as successor.

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.


Bears need hairstyles! Lumberjacks need beards! Be friends to both in Yukon Salon, a quick, humorous, family card game in a tin, from our snow-dappled pals at Atlas Games. Take Your Place at the Frontier of Style !

It distorts minds. It invades realities. Now it has invaded the Bundle of Holding. Grab the Yellow Bundle and get The Yellow King Roleplaying Game for a price normally available only in dread alternate dimensions. Level up to the threshold price and get Ken’s Annotated King in Yellow, plus Absinthe in Carcosa, The Missing and the Lost, and New Tales of the Yellow Sign. You have them all already but send your friends to the Bundle of Holding.

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!

Fear Is a Fractal …and your world is a lie. A horror freed from an antique book reverberates through reality. But don’t despair. There is hope. A King waits for us. And Impossible Landscapes, the  first campaign for Delta Green: The Role-Playing Game waits for you. In PDF now, hardback in May. Hailed as “one of the best RPG campaigns ever made” and “a masterpiece of surreal horror!”

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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Black Widow, Summer of Soul, and the Fate of the Artist

July 13th, 2021 | 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

Black Widow (Film, US, Cate Shortland, 2021) On the run from the authorities, Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) finds a new lead to the Soviet assassin training program that warped her life—and reunites with her worse-for-wear costumed surrogate family (Florence Pugh, David Harbour, Rachel Weisz.) Self-contained, rooted in character, snappy and with clear, well-staged action, this shaggy dog spy romp nimbly leaps past the structural pitfalls of the MCU.—RDL

The Fate of the Artist (Comics, Eddie Campbell, 2006) When artist Eddie Campbell disappears, a detective interviews his family and associates (including a troupe of actors depicting one of his creations) to get a lead on his character. Campbell elevates a perfectly good joke with visual stories of the arts and a domestic-comedy comic strip (Honeybee) that acts as a sort of Greek chorus of Campbell’s home life. Campbell takes the form seriously to (seemingly) avoid taking the subject seriously, to giddy result. –KH

Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) (Film, US, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, 2021) Consigned to basement storage by dunderheads who didn’t think they could sell it, thrilling musical footage from a series of 1969 Harlem park concerts finds new life and historical context. Top acts include Stevie Wonder, Sly and the Family Stone, Gladys Knight and the Pips, The Staple Singers, and the Fifth Dimension. Crowd shots, usually a crutch in concert films, become the centerpiece, depicting the community that gathered around the music as much as the acts themselves.—RDL

Good

Black Widow (Film, US, Cate Shortland, 2021) A chance to break the Red Room that trained and twisted them reunites Natasha (Scarlett Johansson) with her sister Yelena (Florence Pugh). For a movie about mind control, this has a very on-the-rails, no-twists plot; for a comic-book spy movie the fights (while at least visible) don’t match the best of Marvel much less the best of the genre. Ray Winstone gets the Annette Bening role of “ridiculously squandered actor” this time around. Fortunately Johansson, Pugh, and Rachel Weisz (as their “mother” Melina) bring so much to the table as actors that you aren’t really hungry for much else after two years away from the MCU. –KH

By Sidney Lumet (Film, US, Nancy Buirski, 2015) The prolific director holds court as the sole talking head in a retrospective covering a career that starts in live TV and concludes in the mid-oughts, hitting such highlights as Twelve Angry Men, Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, Network, and The Verdict. A fine companion to his excellent book of practical filmmaking, Making Movies.—RDL

Okay

The Baron in France (Fiction, John Creasey, 1953) and The Baron and the Mogul Swords (Fiction, John Creasey, 1966) Former jewel thief turned art dealer John Mannering investigates stolen gems, and the murders attendant on them, in these two able potboilers. Creasey wrote something like 600 books, including 47 titles in the Baron series, and don’t worry I’m not going to read them all. Based on these two random titles, they provide a modicum of action, not-too-challenging puzzles, and entirely unchallenging (not to say cardboard) characters. The pages do whiz by, though. –KH

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Episode 453: The Chicago Discount

July 9th, 2021 | Robin

Don’t forget you’re in the Gaming Hut as beloved Patreon backer Lauberfen asks for tips on finding the fun in amnesia and similar player character flaws.

In Ripped from the Headlines, estimable Patreon backer Robert Wolfe seeks the true truth on the clones of the strong-willed pig.

Finally, as normalcy, or at least retail sales, returns to the vaccinated zones of the USA, a triumphant return. Ken’s Bookshelf heaves with a haul of titles gleaned from the eager shops of New England.

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.


Bears need hairstyles! Lumberjacks need beards! Be friends to both in Yukon Salon, a quick, humorous, family card game in a tin, from our snow-dappled pals at Atlas Games. Take Your Place at the Frontier of Style !

It distorts minds. It invades realities. Now it has invaded the Bundle of Holding. Grab the Yellow Bundle and get The Yellow King Roleplaying Game for a price normally available only in dread alternate dimensions. Level up to the threshold price and get Ken’s Annotated King in Yellow, plus Absinthe in Carcosa, The Missing and the Lost, and New Tales of the Yellow Sign. You have them all already but send your friends to the Bundle of Holding.

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!

Fear Is a Fractal …and your world is a lie. A horror freed from an antique book reverberates through reality. But don’t despair. There is hope. A King waits for us. And Impossible Landscapes, the  first campaign for Delta Green: The Role-Playing Game waits for you. In PDF now, hardback in May. Hailed as “one of the best RPG campaigns ever made” and “a masterpiece of surreal horror!”

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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Soderbergh Crime, Winslet Crime, and Boardgame Metaphysics

July 6th, 2021 | 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

Mare of Easttown (Television, UK, HBO, Brad Inglesby, 2021) Jaded, grief-burying small town detective (Kate Winslet) investigates a murder involving a local teen, where nearly all the witnesses and suspects are friends or relatives. Obsessively wielded hardscrabble social observation lends docudrama credibility to an operatic, twist-filled crime story.—RDL

No Sudden Move (Film, US, Steven Soderbergh, 2021) In 1954 Detroit, ex-con Curtis Goynes (Don Cheadle) and lunkhead Ronny Russo (Benicio del Toro) get paid too much to hold a schlub’s (David Harbour) family hostage and have to keep moving to avoid the setup and get out ahead. Elliptical script by Ed Solomon almost always reveals just enough (it does get a little expository at moments) and Soderbergh keeps the action and actors moving fast enough to keep all the crime-flick plates spinning. Stylish performances by the best-of-breed supporting cast (especially an Orson Welles-channeling Brendan Fraser playing a middle-management hood) and plenty of cool light remind you of what Soderbergh always has in the tank. –KH

No Sudden Move (Film, US, Steven Soderbergh, 2021) In 50s Detroit, a gunman with powerful enemies and land to buy (Don Cheadle) agrees to a lucrative few-hour gig holding a family hostage with a luckless counterpart (Benicio del Toro) and a mouthy punk (Kieran Culkin), and awry it goes. Snappy dialogue, a deceptively matter-of-fact emotional temperature and a oneupping attitude to anamorphic lens distortion distinguish Soderbergh’s latest return to the crime genre.—RDL

Good

Avidly Reads Board Games (Nonfiction, Eric Thurm, 2019) Thurm uses personal memoir and play experience as a gateway to briefly discussing board game evolution and metaphysics. To the extent this slim volume is about anything (besides justifying its subject to a NYU Press editor), it’s about the implications of the “magic circle” of board game play for players and designers: complicity in various theoretical or political constructions, and potential to redefine experience through play and larger mechanical possibilities such as legacy games or coopetitive designs. Pleasant, clever, but too short to really bite: the Coup of board game books. –KH

Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt Omnibus (Comics, Dynamite, Alex Ross & Steve Darnall and Jonathan Lau, 2015) Peter Cannon’s impulsive creation of a dragon tulpa to discourage nuclear testing blows back on every part of his life as old foes and new gather to destroy him. If Gillen & Wijngaard’s take on the same material was near-Pinnacle Recommended, this is near-Recommended Good: the comic never bored me and once or twice genuinely surprised me, but didn’t leave a whole lot behind. It’s funny how Moore’s deconstruction of Cannon has somehow become the template for every major treatment of the character since — in that respect Ross & Darnall break new (if less inviting) ground by depicting a genuinely confused Thunderbolt rather than an arch Ozymandias. –KH

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Episode 452: Don’t Look at the Leopards

July 2nd, 2021 | Robin

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer as the Gaming Hut provides advice to players running in political intrigue games.

In Fun With Science beloved Patreon backer Josh King asks for the real truth behind Siberian mystery holes.

Ask Ken and Robin fields a question from estimable Patreon backer William Brafford, who seeks a Trail of Cthulhu campaign frame around the Works Progress Administration.

Finally, in an epic crossover event between the Architecture Hut and Conspiracy Corner, we delve into an up-and-coming alt history, the Tartarian Empire.

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.


Bears need hairstyles! Lumberjacks need beards! Be friends to both in Yukon Salon, a quick, humorous, family card game in a tin, from our snow-dappled pals at Atlas Games. Take Your Place at the Frontier of Style !

It distorts minds. It invades realities. Now it has invaded the Bundle of Holding. Grab the Yellow Bundle and get The Yellow King Roleplaying Game for a price normally available only in dread alternate dimensions. Level up to the threshold price and get Ken’s Annotated King in Yellow, plus Absinthe in Carcosa, The Missing and the Lost, and New Tales of the Yellow Sign. You have them all already but send your friends to the Bundle of Holding.

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!

Fear Is a Fractal …and your world is a lie. A horror freed from an antique book reverberates through reality. But don’t despair. There is hope. A King waits for us. And Impossible Landscapes, the  first campaign for Delta Green: The Role-Playing Game waits for you. In PDF now, hardback in May. Hailed as “one of the best RPG campaigns ever made” and “a masterpiece of surreal horror!”

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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Actors, Superheroes and the Most Famous Submarine

June 29th, 2021 | 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

Burn! (Film, Italy, Gillo Pontecorvo, 1969) To drive the Portuguese from a Caribbean island, a cynical strategist (Marlon Brando) turns a porter (Evaristo Márquez) into an inspirational rebel, who he must later destroy at the behest of his sugar company bosses. Polemical tone poem of colonialism and counterinsurgency draws more than a bit of its operatic scope from the era’s spaghetti westerns.—RDL

The Design and Construction of the Nautilus (Nonfiction, Demetri Capetanopolous, 2018) Reconstruction of Nemo’s submarine based on Verne’s data that attempts to answer: is it a good submarine design? (Yes) Could it have been built in 1865? (Except for the handwaved engines, surprisingly mostly yes) Really Recommended mostly for Nemo completists, but a striking example of one of my favorite exercises: real-world data (Capetanopolous is a former sub captain and engineer) retrofitted into hallmark genre fiction. –KH

The Neighbor Season 2 (Television, Spain, Miguel Esteban & Raúl Navarro, Netflix, 2021) Romantic discord ensues when stumblebum hero Javier (Quim Gutiérrez) discovers that ex-girlfriend Lola (Clara Lago)  can also use his super pills. Looming alien menace nudges the charming comedy shambolism a few inches further into genre territory.—RDL

Nothing Like a Dame (Film, UK, Roger Michell, 2018) Judi Dench, Maggie Smith and Eileen Atkins drop by Joan Plowright’s house to tease each other, discuss aging and fame, trade acting shop talk, and roll out the anecdotes. Cozy hangout documentaries like this usually feature male actors, and I was little surprised to realize how little I’ve seen any of these legends interviewed at any length. Smith of course gets off the best line, zinging Plowright’s husband, Larry Olivier.—RDL

Staged Season 1 (Television, UK, Simon Evans, 2020) When the pandemic shuts down a production of Six Characters in Search of an Author, a gormless director (Simon Evans) persuades his leads, the petulant David Tennant (David Tennant) and tetchy Michael Sheen (Michael Sheen) to rehearse remotely. Considerable wit, a couple of superstar cameos, and of course the charm of the stars gleefully sending themselves up, overcomes one’s natural reluctance to sit through Zoom meetings or relive the early months of COVID.—RDL

Good

Project Superpowers Vols 1-3 (Comics, Dynamite, Jim Krueger & Alex Ross & divers hands, 2018-2019) The public-domain superheroes of the 1940s emerge from Pandora’s Urn into a modern dystopia and set about setting things to rights in the overarching frame story of Vol. 1. Vol. 2 focuses on the Black Terror, Vol. 3 on several different heroes and villains, the stories interacting with the frame crossover-style. (The X-Mas Carol and Owl stories in Vol. 3 are Recommended.) Ross’ covers are amazing, as are his art notes in the back, but he primarily acts as co-plotter and art director, so the actual art is kind of all over the place. The story mostly remains Big Reveals About Characters You Barely Remember, to necessarily limited effect, but the second half of Vol. 1 gets close to giddy Bronze Age event comics thrills, and Edgar Salazar’s art lives up to Ross’ potential there too. –KH

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Episode 451: Bring a Bunch of Idiots

June 25th, 2021 | Robin

Keep an eye out for incoming candlesticks as the Gaming Hut finds ways to engage players in the prelude part of a scenario, for example the bit in a cozy mystery before any genteel murdering happens.

At the behest of beloved Patreon backer Dustyn Mincey, the History Hut examines the era of Greek history known as the Frankokratia.

In the Narrative Hut, estimable Patreon backer Derek Upham seeks enlightenment on third acts.

Finally in the Eliptony Hut, can you believe we went nine years before doing a segment on the Philadelphia Experiment?

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.


Bears need hairstyles! Lumberjacks need beards! Be friends to both in Yukon Salon, a quick, humorous, family card game in a tin, from our snow-dappled pals at Atlas Games. Take Your Place at the Frontier of Style !

A murderous mystery lies beneath the gladiatorial arenas in the majestic, dragon-patrolled city of Axis. Only your first level 13th Age characters can confront it, in Crown of Axis, by Wade Rockett, now available at the Pelgrane Press shop.

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!

Fear Is a Fractal …and your world is a lie. A horror freed from an antique book reverberates through reality. But don’t despair. There is hope. A King waits for us. And Impossible Landscapes, the  first campaign for Delta Green: The Role-Playing Game waits for you. In PDF now, hardback in May. Hailed as “one of the best RPG campaigns ever made” and “a masterpiece of surreal horror!”

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Film Cannister
Cartoon Rocket
d8
Flying Clock
Robin
Film Cannister