Grimoire
Cthulhu
Dracula
Abraham Lincoln
Ken
Grimoire

Archive for April, 2024

Episode 595: IPA Aliens

April 19th, 2024 | Robin

In the Gaming Hut beloved Patreon backer Jason Thompson asks if the group dynamic known as the Tyranny of Structurelessness applies to GM-less roleplaying games.

Estimable backer Gray St. Quintin seeks the regular confines of the Architecture Hut to ask about Walter Burley Griffin, designer of Canberra and avid anthroposophist.

Fun With Science ensues when formidable backer asks what the heck was up with a rich philanthropist’s decision to take hominid fossils with him on his Virgin Galactic space flight.

Finally, Ken’s Time Machine finds out what really happened in the Roman assault on the druids of Anglesey, with possible alterations to known history on the part of our sterling chrononaut.

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.


The official CatStronauts board game is launching on Kickstarter, from Atlas Games! Designed and illustrated by Drew Brockington, this cooperative game brings 30-45 minutes of fast feline fun to 1-4 players aged 10 and up.

If you love heroic fast-paced fantasy roleplaying action and incredible deals, Pelgrane Press has two iconic bargains for you. Until May 7th, date of the impending 13th Age Kickstarter, get the core book for 50% at the Pelgrane web store. Or grab the brief return of the stunnning 13th Age Bundle of Holding PDF deal.

Don your pallid mask and get all the Ken, Carcosa, and footnotes you require now that Arc Dream’s The King in Yellow: Annotated Edition is now available in paperback and ebook formats. With stunning art by Samuel Araya, this lavish tome of terror earns a space on any shelf.

Episode 594: Bishop of the Drowned Land

April 12th, 2024 | Robin

In the Gaming Hut we identify the elements of a great recurring gamemaster character.

At the behest of beloved Patreon backer Lester Ward, the Archaeology Hut mulls the ancient Egyptian fortresses that were flooded by the building of the Aswan dam.

In the Book Hut tough, wisecracking Patreon backer Adam Grotjohn seeks a 101 on hardboiled fiction.

And finally the Consulting Occultist profiles Maria de Naglowska, occult lecturer and sex magician of 20s and 30s Paris.

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.


The official CatStronauts board game is launching on Kickstarter, from Atlas Games! Designed and illustrated by Drew Brockington, this cooperative game brings 30-45 minutes of fast feline fun to 1-4 players aged 10 and up.

Reality horror just got realer with three new support products for The Yellow King Roleplaying Game: Black Star Magic, Legions of Carcosa: The Yellow King Bestiary, and Robin’s latest novel, Fifth Imperative.

Don your pallid mask and get all the Ken, Carcosa, and footnotes you require now that Arc Dream’s The King in Yellow: Annotated Edition is now available in paperback and ebook formats. With stunning art by Samuel Araya, this lavish tome of terror earns a space on any shelf.

Ken and Robin Consume Media: Monkey Man, Morricone, and Studio Era Screenwriting

April 9th, 2024 | 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

Ennio (Film, Italy/Belgium/Netherlands/Japan/HK, Giuseppe Tornatore, 2022) Tornatore turns his worshipful eye to the greatest film composer of all time, centering this conventional talking-heads doc on a long interview with Morricone running the gamut from pride to regret to just a hint of payback. What it misses in sharp edges it makes up for in breadth of coverage, 156 minutes from Morricone’s early pop arrangements to his final symphonic compositions on 9/11 and for The Hateful 8. Even discounting some of the doc’s extravagant claims, the result is a portrait of a Shakespearean talent. You’ll want to follow it up with one of the full-length Morricone concert films.—KH

Intimate Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan (Film, Hong Kong, Chor Yuen, 1972) Kidnapped into a brothel, a defiant teacher’s daughter (Lily Ho) wins the love of her madam (Betty Pei Ti) and the kung fu training that goes with it, preparing her to wreak systematic revenge. Sadomasochistic sexploitation martial arts melodrama frames inescapably skeezy material and the standard building blocks of the Shaw Brothers production system with lush aestheticism of color, staging and movement.—RDL

It’s the Pictures that Got Small: Charles Brackett on Billy Wilder and Hollywood’s Golden Age (Nonfiction, Charles Brackett, edited by Anthony Slide, 2015) Selections from the journals of screenwriter and producer Brackett document the draining and rewarding 15 year collaboration that yielded such films as Lost Weekend, Sunset Boulevard, and Ninotchka, with early Academy Awards politics and barbed portraits of movie legends sprinkled in along the way. More than just a record of one notable partnership, this provides an invaluable look at the nuts and bolts of film production under the studio system. One notable example: although Brackett sometimes mentions a three act setup, he more often refers to a five-sequence structure as the screenplay default.—RDL

Monkey Man (Film, Canada/US, Dev Patel, 2024) Hanuman-obsessed orphan turned underground fight stooge (Dev Patel) seeks revenge. Patel constantly risks throwing the viewer out of the movie with tonal jumps, most critically while his character levels up in a temple refuge, but the balletic and brutal action keeps you watching.—KH

What the Hell Happened to Blood, Sweat & Tears? (Film, US, John Scheinfeld, 2023) To keep their lead singer’s green card, the biggest band in the world (they beat the Beatles for the 1970 Album of the Year Grammy) agreed to tour Yugoslavia, Romania, and Poland in 1970 for the U.S. State Department. Assembled from (highly watchable) footage of that trip shot, censored, lost, and recovered, this doc argues (not quite convincingly) that the proto-cancel-culture fallout from that trip is why BS&T stopped being the biggest band in the world.—KH

Good

Drive-Away Dolls (Film, US, Ethan Coen, 2024) Lesbian besties, motormouth Jamie (Margaret Qualley) and repressed Marian (Geraldine Viswanathan) sign on to drive a car from New York to Tallahassee, unaware that the trunk contains a mysterious briefcase and a severed head. Good-natured, goofball road comedy is looser and more cosmically forgiving than Coen’s work with his brother Joel.—RDL

The Wet Parade (Film, US, Victor Fleming, 1932) An empathetic southerner (Dorothy Jordan) and restrained New York hotel keeper (Robert Young) are drawn together, in part by their experience with alcoholic fathers, against the background of America’s experiment with Prohibition. Ensemble social drama based on an Upton Sinclair novel provides a contemporaneous look at the evils of drink and the worse evils of trying to ban it.—RDL

Episode 593: Supermarket of Murder

April 5th, 2024 | Robin

Elves and dragons have some emotional needs to work out as the Gaming Hut answers beloved Patreon backer Nikolaj’s request for tips on bringing elements of DramaSystem into an F20 game.

The Crime Blotter checks out the Philadelphia poison murders, a massive killing for profit scheme involving syndicate witches in the Trail of Cthulhu era.

Madrigals are sung and the underworld is descended into in the Culture Hut, as erudite backer Patrick Holmes asks for a gameable bio of 16th century composer and possible part time alchemist Claudio Monteverdi.

Move your lap blanket away from the fireplace as the Eliptony Hut takes a long overdue look at the classic Fortean subject of spontaneous human combustion.

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.


The official CatStronauts board game is launching on Kickstarter, from Atlas Games! Designed and illustrated by Drew Brockington, this cooperative game brings 30-45 minutes of fast feline fun to 1-4 players aged 10 and up.

Reality horror just got realer with three new support products for The Yellow King Roleplaying Game: Black Star Magic, Legions of Carcosa: The Yellow King Bestiary, and Robin’s latest novel, Fifth Imperative.

Don your pallid mask and get all the Ken, Carcosa, and footnotes you require now that Arc Dream’s The King in Yellow: Annotated Edition is now available in paperback and ebook formats. With stunning art by Samuel Araya, this lavish tome of terror earns a space on any shelf.

Ken and Robin Consume Media: A Mexican Machen Adaptation, French JFK Paranoia, and Dean Martin in a Flying Saucer

April 2nd, 2024 | 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

American Fiction (Film, US, Cord Jefferson, 2023) As a scathing joke, a dyspeptic literary author (Jeffrey Wright) whose mom needs expensive care writes a novel packed with demeaning cliches of Black life, only to find an enthusiastic market for it in the white publishing world. Family drama lends emotional weight to a pointed takedown of representation’s cringey side. Witty dialogue is on a downswing in film at the moment so it’s nice to see it revived here.—RDL

I… for Icarus (Film, France, Henri Verneuil, 1979) In an alternate France, a patrician attorney general (Yves Montand) dissents from the whitewashing conclusions of a commission into a Presidential assassination, granting him the right to launch his own investigation. The medium is the conspiracy in this odd, oddly compelling McLuhanesque reconfiguration of the JFK assassination, complete with a detailed recreation of the Milgram Experiment.—RDL

The Skeleton of Mrs. Morales (Film, Mexico, Rogelio A. González, 1960) The neurotic browbeating of his pious, conniving wife (Amparo Rivelles) drives a bibulous taxidermist (Arturo de Córdova) to a desperate act. Satirical, expressionistic Grand Guignol based on Arthur Machen’s The Islington Mystery.—RDL

The Worst Ones (Film, France, Lise Akoka & Romane Gueret, 2022)  Teens from a tough working class neighborhood win roles in a social issue film helmed by a middle-aged first time auteur (Johan Heldenbergh) whose grasp of boundaries isn’t as secure as he wants to think. Neorealist drama featuring intense performances from its young cast questions the ethics of its genre tradition.—RDL

Good

The Ambushers (Film, US, Henry Levin, 1967) Counter-spy Matt Helm (Dean Martin) escorts US saucer pilot Sheila Sommers (Janice Rule) into Mexico to recover her hijacked saucer and ID the hijacker. The Matt Helm movies are best enjoyed as period pieces by those who consider the Roger Moore Bond to be too grim and gritty, but Sheila has genuine agency and competence, a standout amongst the beer fights and brassiere guns. The UFO adds another nicely surreal touch to the sight of Dean Martin lounging through alleged action scenes.—KH

The Big Shot (Film, US, Lewis Seiler, 1942) Betrayed by the fancy lawyer who married his girl (Irene Manning), an ex-con with a secret conscience (Humphrey Bogart) returns to prison for an armored car heist he decided not to go through with. Bogie and Seiler give their best to a routine script.—RDL

Okay

Risen (Film, US/Spain, Kevin Reynolds, 2016) In occupied Judea, Pontius Pilate (Peter Firth) orders Roman tribune Clavius (Joseph Fiennes) to recover the body of a crucified Nazarene radical, which has vanished from its tomb. The first half of the movie is a taut, intriguing “Zero (A.D.) Dark Thirty” War on Terror parable with a touch of X-Files; the second half is Clavius’ internalizing his new faith in the (spoiler) risen Christ (Cliff Curtis), basically bringing the narrative to a dead halt. This could have been great if it were all the first half, though at the cost of many fewer copies of the Blu-Ray sold to church media rooms.—KH

Film Cannister
Cartoon Rocket
d8
Flying Clock
Robin
Film Cannister