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Archive for June, 2024

Episode 603: He’s a Pregen

June 14th, 2024 | Robin

In the Gaming Hut we turn the rise of surreal online retailer Temu into a horror scenario hook.

Beloved Patreon backer Ginge assigns the Tradecraft Hut to cough up the real dossier on the icy retrieval mission Project Coldfeet.

Estimable backer Charles Picard requests the Culture Hut treatment for experimental filmmaker and Vodou researcher Maya Deren.

Finally Ken’s Time Machine asks our resident chrono-protagonist for the best intervention into the 1826 Lao Rebellion.

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.

Turn your digital dials to Gen Con TV, The Best Four Days in Gaming – All Year Long. Entirely free and streaming your way on Twitch, Gen Con TV offers actual plays, reviews, dramatized gaming shorts, minis painting and its flagship show, Table Talk, beaming to you Fridays at 2 pm with polyhedral news you’re dying to use.

Ken and Robin Consume Media: Hit Man, The Fall Guy, Maps of Empire and Jorge Luis Borges, Investigator

June 11th, 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

Atlas of Empires: The World’s Great Powers from Ancient Times to Today (Nonfiction, Peter Davidson, 2018) In 60 main maps and 240 pages of text, Davidson describes empires from Sargon of Akkad to the EU. While the maps are almost uniformly excellent (I noticed one color-separation issue on the 17th-century imperialism map) the text is the real draw, as incisive and clear as Colin McEvedy at his best. An ideal quick first summary of imperialisms ancient and postmodern, and usefully informative to almost anyone.—KH

Borges and the Eternal Orangutans (Fiction, Luis Fernando Verissimo, 2000) Amateur Poe scholar and Borges fan Vogelstein gets the opportunity to follow his dreams when the Israfel Society holds its 1985 meeting in Buenos Aires. When another Poe scholar turns up murdered, Vogelstein and Borges investigate a trail that oh yes leads through Lovecraft, John Dee, and at least two orangutans. A short, sharp delight, like Umberto Eco espresso.—KH

Grocery: The Buying and Selling of Food in America (Nonfiction, Michael Ruhlman, 2017) Embedding himself in the innovative mid-tier Cleveland area Heinen’s chain, the author examines the many facets of America’s constantly evolving retail food industry. Among the many takeaways from this absorbingly rendered account is the extent to which customer demands for health and sustainability have already transformed the business Consumed in audiobook format.—RDL

A Hidden Life (Film, US, Terrence Malick, 2019) When he is conscripted into the German army,  a devout farmer from a remote Austrian village (August Diehl) supported by his steadfast wife (Valerie Pachner), forbears the consequences of refusing to sign the required loyalty oath to Hitler. Faith and idyllic natural beauty contrast with human moral horror in the master director’s signature style.—RDL

Hit Man (Film, US, Richard Linklater, 2024) Psych professor Gary (Glen Powell) meets abused wife Madison (Adria Arjona) while undercover for the New Orleans PD pretending to be a hit man named Ron. This film about the human capacity to change likewise changes from comedy to rom-com to thriller to the edge of noir, with Powell following along in a showcase of acting range.—KH

Loot Season 2 (Television, US, Apple+, Alan Yang & Matt Hubbard, 2024) Resisting her narcissistic ex’s efforts to win her back, Molly (Maya Rudolph) expands her philanthropic empire and struggles with her feelings for button-downed employee Arthur (Nat Faxon.) Smart, character-driven sitcom cruises comfortably into its sophomore season, boosted by the natural chops of supporting players Ron Funches and Joel Kim Booster.—RDL

Good

Christ Stopped at Eboli (Television, Italy, Francesco Rosi, 1979) In 1933, painter Carlo Levi is banished for his anti-fascist writings to internal exile in a remote southern village. In this adaptation of a seminal memoir, Rosi’s prestige-pic penchant for the picturesque and sentimental co-exists uneasily with the text’s horror at the extreme deprivation it documents.—RDL

The Fall Guy (Film, US, David Leitch, 2024) Mystery and peril assist romantic reconciliation when a soulful stuntman (Ryan Gosling) ends his retirement to join the directing debut of the ex (Emily Blunt) he ghosted after suffering an on-set injury. Breezy action romcom has to clear a pacing hurdle caused by the traffic jam of plot elements it needs to establish before it can really get rolling.—RDL

Fast Charlie (Film, US, Philip Noyce, 2023) When rising New Orleans boss Beggar (Gbenga Akinnagbe) wipes out the crew of old-school Biloxi boss Stan (James Caan in his final role), hitman Charlie (Pierce Brosnan doing the most insane Mississippi accent in cinema history) seeks revenge and leverage with the help of Marcie (Morena Baccarin), the widow of his most recent target. Noyce keeps things driving along in whipcrack fashion (it’s only 90 minutes!), and Brosnan is always a delight, but you’ve already seen this movie before, even if this time you probably like it better.—KH

Episode 602: They Have a Space Lawyer

June 7th, 2024 | Robin

In the Gaming Hut, Ken turns the tables on Robin by springing a concept for a game on him. Eavesdrop on the process as they riff on Ley Brothers.

The Crime Blotter reaches back into America’s history of 19th century violence to cover the assassination of Kentucky governor William Goebel.

In Ask Ken and Robin beloved Patreon backer Walter Manbeck asks Robin what a one player, one GM action movie game inspired by The Beekeeper and its retribution-seeking cinematic relatives might look like.

Finally the Eliptony Hut looks at some old UFO tropes packaged in very new streaming-age bottles: Blue Avians, the trademarked, documentary-approving contactee aliens.

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.

Turn your digital dials to Gen Con TV, The Best Four Days in Gaming – All Year Long. Entirely free and streaming your way on Twitch, Gen Con TV offers actual plays, reviews, dramatized gaming shorts, minis painting and its flagship show, Table Talk, beaming to you Fridays at 2 pm with polyhedral news you’re dying to use.

Ken and Robin Consume Media: Godzilla Minus One, Star Trek Discovery, City Hunter

June 4th, 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

Godzilla Minus One (Film, Japan, Takashi Yamakazi, 2023) When the dinosaur-like creature he encountered on a remote island in the dying days of the war comes back as a radioactive gargantua, a young man trained to be a kamikaze pilot (Ryunosuke Kamiki) gets a second shot at heroism. Reverent retelling of Ishirō Honda’s 1954 original makes effective, sparing use of its kaiju destruction scenes as it shifts the theme from the cosmic trauma of the H-bomb to survivor guilt and redemption.—RDL

The Last Stop in Yuma County (Film, US, Francis Galluppi, 2024) Stuck in a diner waiting for the fuel truck, several strangers cross paths with escaping bank robbers (Richard Brake, Nicholas Logan) in a neo-Tarantino bottle drama that crosses into Coen Brothers vantablack-humor territory before too long. Jim Cummings’ sad-sack knife salesman and Sierra McCormick’s wannabe Bonnie Parker are only the tip of a superb casting iceberg. What Galluppi lacks in originality he makes up in technical proficiency, and in quickly limning character against a classic American cinema backdrop.—KH

Private Life (Film, US, Tamara Jenkins, 2018) Desperate for a child, a frazzled artsy couple (Kathryn Hahn, Paul Giamatti) enlist their college-age aspiring writer niece (Emily Robinson) as a potential egg donor. Indie drama observes the humiliations of being alive and cognizant with a bleakly funny yet humane eye.—RDL

Good

Hellbender (Film, US, John Adams, Zelda Adams and Tony Poser, 2022) Teen (Zelda Adams) raised in woodland isolation by her loving, protective mother (Tony Poser) discovers that they are beings who gain immense witch-like powers when they consume living things. Indie folk horror fairy tale explores the ambivalence of relationships between teen girls and their moms, ending where its third act ought to start.—RDL

Star Trek: Discovery Season 5 (Television, US, Paramount+, Alex Kurtzman and Michelle Paradise, 2024) To prevent a dark future where the Breen use the technological secret of humanoid life itself to destroy the Federation, Captain Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) and crew race against lovestruck mercenaries to gather a series of puzzle pieces. The Trek iteration that was never the same show for two consecutive seasons completes its arc from its starting point of jarring revisionism all the way to Next Generation-style comfort viewing..—RDL

Okay

City Hunter (Film, Japan, Yûichi Satô, 2024) Combat-machine, horndog PI (Ryohei Suzuki) reluctantly teams with his murdered partner’s sister (Misato Morita) as he investigates the super serum conspiracy behind the killing. Latest adaptation of the popular manga series delivers some fun action, dragged down by the dire, jokeless schtick of the protagonist’s canonical lechery.—RDL

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