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Archive for May, 2024

Episode 599: You Can’t Rule Fish Out

May 17th, 2024 | Robin

In the Gaming Hut beloved Patreon backer Bob Grider asks how to create mystery hooks for sovereign citizens in The Yellow King: This Is Normal Now. With dire inevitability this leads to a discussion of pan-conspiratorialist Romana Didulo, aka the Queen of Canada.

Estimable backer Paul Douglas seeks the Tradecraft Hut take on the death of White Helmets founder James le Mesurier.

Cherished backer Andrew Blasenak alerts the Horror Hut to a new impending Philadelphia museum, VAMPA, which stands for Vampire Art Museum and Paranormal Activity.

Finally sponsor supreme Cat Tobin asks what Ken’s Time Machine might do to improve vegetarian cuisine.

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.

13th Age is ready to escalate! The second edition of the fast-moving, easy-playing encapsulation of the fantasy roleplaying hits Kickstarter on May 7th. Manifest your One Unique Thing and get updates on the campaign by sharing your email address with Pelgrane Press here.

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: Everybody’s in L.A., Unfrosted, and Hamburger America

May 14th, 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

The Blood of Wolves (Film, Japan, Kazuya Shiraishi, 2018) Idealistic rookie detective learns the ropes of anti-yakuza policing from a charismatic, bribe-accepting veteran partner (Koji Yakusho) who makes his own rules. Tough, cynical cops versus gangs policier edges into extreme cinema territory with explicit depictions of torture and degradation.—RDL

Death in the Garden (Film, France/Mexico, Luis Buñuel, 1956) A rebellion of foreign diamond miners against corrupt local officials in a South American nation sends disparate fugitives, including a hard bitten adventurer (George Marchal), a mercenary brothel owner (Simone Signoret) and a meddling priest (Michel Piccoli) into the jungle depths. A big budget action-adventure flick in glorious 50s color makes for an odd entry in Buñuel’s filmography, with his touch seen in its caustic character portrayals.—RDL

Everybody’s in LA (Television, Netflix, John Mulaney, 2024) For six nights, John Mulaney deconstructs the talk show by hosting a careening, overstuffed live version of one, usually reaching eight or nine guests cross-talking and obliterating the alleged topic, something about Los Angeles. The filmed “slice of LA life” segments succeed remarkably, the taped comedy lands sporadically. As much as I want to see a second series (Lotsa People in Chicago?) too much practice would ruin its shambolic vibe.—KH

Hamburger America (Film, US, George Motz, 2004) “Burger scholar” Motz interviews owners and grill cooks (often the same people) at eight historic (multi-decade to century-plus) burger joints across America. The documentary winds up being a paean to small business as much as grilled beef, not least because two of the burgers (Dyer’s in Memphis and Ted’s in Connecticut) don’t grill their burgers. Motz’ YouTube schtick is thankfully absent; we neither see nor hear him, just the burger makers speaking for themselves and for history.—KH

I Could Go On Singing (Film, UK/US, Ronald Neame, 1963) Troubled, charismatic American singer (Judy Garland) bulldozes her way back into the life of a staid ex-lover (Dirk Bogarde) to get close to the son she gave up to him and promised never to try to see. Fiction and autobiography intertwine as Garland plays a version of her damaged, late-career self in a well-crafted melodrama with then-voguish travelog sequences.—RDL

Kill! (Film, Japan, Kihachi Okamoto, 1968) Starving ex-samurai (Tatsuya Nakadai) puts his sword skills back to work as he protects a band of nobles from the corrupt clan superior who used them for his dirty work. Revisionist samurai adventure with notes of subdued humor borrows back from Sergio Leone what he filched from Kurosawa.—RDL

Okay

Full Moon in New York (Film, HK, Stanley Kwan, 1989) Three women from the Chinese diaspora, a struggling actress (Sylvia Chang), a driven entrepreneur (Maggie Cheung) and the new wife (Siqin Gaowa) of an insensitive Asian-American businessman, become friends in New York. One of HK cinema’s more oblique responses to Tiananmen Square offers strong scenes that never cohere into a working narrative.—RDL

Unfrosted (Film, US, Jerry Seinfeld, 2024) When Kellogg’s VP Bob Cabana (Jerry Seinfeld) learns that arch-rival Post is developing a rectangular filled-pastry breakfast treat (possibly heatable) he must convince his boss Edsel Kellogg III (Jim Gaffigan) to give him and fired food scientist Stankowski (Melissa McCarthy) a chance to beat Post to the moon, er, pastry. Individual bits work amazingly well: Hugh Grant delights as resentful mascot Thurl Ravenscroft, and Bill Burr as JFK kills it. But then the tone settles back into earnest tryhardism. Seinfeld clearly wanted to make an anarchic free-for-all a la Airplane, or a self-parodic jokefest like 30 Rock, but Seinfeld is neither anarchic nor willing to commit to self-ridicule. If he’d chosen the affectionate irony of Hail Caesar! as his model, he would have had a better shot.—KH

Episode 598: Do We Really Want That Horse In Here?

May 10th, 2024 | Robin

Picking up where a previous Gaming Hut left off, beloved Patreon backer Gene Ha asks about scenarios where one of the PCs is a mole working against the rest of the group.

In Ask Ken and Robin, estimable backer Martin Rundkvist asks how Ken’s planned relocation of Swords of the Serpentine to Venice is going to work.

The Voyager space probe has been fixed after sending gibberish data back to Earth for five months. But what, formidable backer Bob Koester asks in Fun With Science, if it wasn’t gibberish?

Finally the Eliptony Hut takes on the serpentine quality of previous segments with a look at the 1894 lindworm sightings in Erviken, Norway.

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.

13th Age is ready to escalate! The second edition of the fast-moving, easy-playing encapsulation of the fantasy roleplaying is now Kickstarting. Manifest your One Unique Thing and get updates on the campaign by sharing your email address with Pelgrane Press here.

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: Civil War, Ted Lasso, and Underground Cities

May 7th, 2024 | Robin

Recommended

Civil War (Film, US/UK/Finland, Alex Garland, 2024) Dead-inside photojournalist Lee Smith (Kirsten Dunst) and adrenaline-junkie reporter Joel (Wagner Moura) find themselves babysitting desperate fossil Timesman Sammy (Stephen McKinley Henderson) and cub photog Jessie (Cailee Spaeny) on a perilous drive to DC during (and through) an American civil war. This road picture braided with horror film shows Apocalypse Now and Year of Living Dangerously in its DNA, and almost lives up to them. Tightly edited, beautifully shot, and intriguingly scored, with Dunst and Moura’s great performances at its heart—all superbly set against the (intentional) hollowness of its protagonists.—KH

The Pig, The Snake and the Pigeon (Film, Taiwan, Ching Po-Wong, 2023) After receiving a terminal cancer diagnosis, Taiwan’s third most wanted fugitive (Ethan Juan) decides to go out in a blaze of glory by hunting down and killing numbers one and two. Fable of violent redemption told from a compelling viewpoint of detached omniscience.—RDL

Ted Lasso Season 3 (Television, US/UK, Apple+, Bill Lawrence & Jason Sudeikis, 2023) Players and behind the scenes personnel of AFC Richmond forge new connections as coach Ted Lasso finds himself at a crossroads. Discovering that they have run out of story for their lead characters, the writing room bids an apparent farewell by broadening the relationships of the supporting cast.—RDL

You Hurt My Feelings (Film, US, Nicole Holofcener, 2023) Author (Julia Louis Dreyfus) struggles with feelings of betrayal after overhearing her flailing therapist husband (Tobias Menzies) confess that he’s only been pretending to like her work-in-progress. New York comedy of manners about confronting mid-life mediocrity maintains its realism by declining to raise the stakes.—RDL

Good

Underground Cities (Nonfiction, Mark Ovenden, 2020) Factoid-laden treatment of the subterranean infrastructure of 32 cities around the world (but mostly in Europe) well illustrated and unevenly mapped. (No maps for Madrid or Beijing?) The cities chosen seem almost random: Cincinnati appears because it famously abandoned its subway, but Shanghai and Seoul (#2 and #4 metro systems in the world) don’t make it in? LA but not San Francisco? While it’s intriguing and interesting, consider this not quite a resource but rather a jumping-off-point for research into any of its locations’ underground.—KH

Episode 597: The Copper Scroll is Real

May 3rd, 2024 | Robin

In the Gaming Hut we talk about our visit to Shadowcon in Barcelona, courtesy of our beloved pals at Shadowlands, who have just published a stunning edition of the Dracula Dossier in the Spanish language.

Travel Advisory covers our exploration of the less nerdy reaches of our new favorite city, with an obligatory selection of small plates in the Food Hut.

Ken didn’t come home with a pile of Spanish books, but if it’s a trip we have to look at some new acquisitions. So Ken’s Bookshelf finally reveals the second half of his Potomac region plunder.

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.

13th Age is ready to escalate! The second edition of the fast-moving, easy-playing encapsulation of the fantasy roleplaying hits Kickstarter on May 7th. Manifest your One Unique Thing and get updates on the campaign by sharing your email address with Pelgrane Press here.

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.

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