1. “A Death.” Stephen King’s latest story for The New Yorker.
“Jim Trusdale had a shack on the west side of his father’s gone-to-seed ranch, and that was where he was when Sheriff Barclay and half a dozen deputized townsmen found him, sitting in the one chair by the cold stove, wearing a dirty barn coat and reading an old issue of the Black Hills Pioneer by lantern light. Looking at it, anyway. Sheriff Barclay stood in the doorway, almost filling it up. He was holding his own lantern. ’Come out of there, Jim, and do it with your hands up. I ain’t drawn my pistol and don’t want to.’ Trusdale came out. He still had the newspaper in one of his raised hands. He stood there looking at the sheriff with his flat gray eyes. The sheriff looked back. So did the others, four on horseback and two on the seat of an old buckboard with ’Hines Mortuary’ printed on the side in faded yellow letters.”
2. “Notes on Watching Aliens for the First Time Again, with a Bunch of Kids.” When you’re 11 and Matt Zoller Seitz is your dad, this is what your slumber party looks like.
“One boy said that Ripley in her hyper sleep chamber looked like Sleeping Beauty. As this was an intentional reference on writer-director James Cameron’s part (there’s a Snow White reference an hour later) this seemed like a promising note on which to begin the screening. ’I like the way this looks,’ one said. ’It’s futuristic but it’s old school. It’s almost steampunk.’ ’This is like Team Fortress 2,’ another remarked. ’Dude, shut up, this was made like 20 years before Team Fortress 2,’ said the kid next to him. ’This is, like, every science fiction movie ever made,’ another said, as Ripley operated the power loader for the first time.”
3. “Pop Sovereign: A Conversation with Madonna.” T. Cole Rachel of a Pitchfork chats with the queen of pop.
“Given her experience as one of the world’s most talked about human beings for the past 30 years or so, Madonna is—as one might imagine—a formidable interview subject. Sitting down to chat with her on a cold recent Friday night in Midtown Manhattan is both intimidating and surreal. It’s also really fun. Corseted, camera ready, and sporting a bejeweled Chanel whistle around her neck, Madonna is both friendly and forthcoming—just as happy to talk about art and poets like Anne Sexton and Mary Oliver as she is to talk about pop music. One might imagine that a sit-down with a celebrity of Madonna’s stature would involve a lot of preemptive stipulations, but the only real caveat I’m given regarding our discussion comes from Madonna herself. ’If you ask me a question I think is stupid then you have to take a shot of this tequila,’ she says, producing a bottle. ’And if you ask me an amazing question, something that really sets me on fire, then I have to take a shot of tequila. Don’t worry though, this is really good tequila.’ In the end, we both drink.”
4. “Bombast: Subterranean Hot Take Blues.” Nick Pinkerton on seeing movies and then having opinions about them.
“If you believe that a work’s entire significance can be found in the footprint that it leaves in public discourse, then looking at the thing itself will necessarily be an afterthought. West is trafficking in a brand of pseudo-sociology increasingly common in 21st-century eyeball-harvest journalism—per Maltz Bovy, ’an argument based on… what they feel may be another person’s feelings’—though hardly a new invention. Pauline Kael, late of Petaluma, used to specialize in it. Though Kael was of the most perspicacious writers about actors and performance that America has ever had, even her best work is marred by a tendency to digress into sub–Lisa Lampanelli insult-comic mode, roasting a movie by consigning it to be the property of ’The type of people who…’, favorite targets including the oft-derided ’liberal friend,’ strawman East Coast drips, and a variation on the ’snaggletoothed hillbillies’ derided by that ’Brutally Honest Oscar Voter.’”
5. “Islamic State and its increasingly sophisticated cinema of terror.” Jeffrey Fleishman on the choreographed terror of ISIS.
“The beheadings and other killings, including the burning alive of a captured Jordanian fighter pilot, represent an increasingly sophisticated cinema of terror. They are intended to frighten and repulse Islamic State’s enemies. But the broader aim of the group, also known as ISIS, is to inspire alienated Muslims to enlist in a global battle against Christians, Jews, apostates and infidels. One militant described the mission as ’breaking the cross, killing the swine.’ ’ISIS knows its audience,’ said Bruce Hoffman, an expert on terrorism and a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington. The militant network, he added, is attempting to entice young men from as many as 80 countries ’who grew up in a culture of violent movies and video games and are jazzed by it. ... They are targeting those who see in violence a form of catharsis and a way to strike back at the enemy.’”
Video of the Day: Season three of Orphan Black gets a trailer:
Links for the Day: A collection of links to items that we hope will spark discussion. We encourage our readers to submit candidates for consideration to firstname.lastname@example.org and to converse in the comments section.