1. “What ISIS Really Wants.” The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy—and for how to stop it.
“The Islamic State, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), follows a distinctive variety of Islam whose beliefs about the path to the Day of Judgment matter to its strategy, and can help the West know its enemy and predict its behavior. Its rise to power is less like the triumph of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt (a group whose leaders the Islamic State considers apostates) than like the realization of a dystopian alternate reality in which David Koresh or Jim Jones survived to wield absolute power over not just a few hundred people, but some 8 million.”
2. “Sam Simon R.I.P.” Simon, who guided The Simpsons, then shared his profits, dies at 59.
“Mr. Simon helped populate Springfield, the fictional town where the Simpsons live, with a range of characters. He insisted that the show be created using some conventional sitcom techniques like having the writers work collectively. He had the voice actors read their parts as an ensemble, with the goal of giving the show more lifelike rhythm and timing. And he hired many of the show’s first writers, a number of whom gave him credit for informing its multilayered sensibility, one that skewers pieties with anarchic humor and sometimes vulgarity while celebrating family and community. ’If you leave out Sam Simon, you’re telling the managed version,’ Jon Vitti, one of the show’s first writers, told The New York Times in 2001. ’He was the guy we wrote for.’ Jay Kogen, a former producer of The Simpsons, told The Times that Mr. Simon ’knew the freedom that animation provides and utilized it to the full extent.’”
3. “The Madonna I’ve Known and (Usually) Admired.” For Out, Michael Musto on his relationship to the singer over the years.
“You may have already heard this story on a VH1 Behind The Music back in the day: In the early 1980s, I had a cover band that played on a bill with the relatively unknown Madonna at a downtown New York club, and the experience wasn’t exactly thrilling for me. Even ’pre-Madonna’ (as it were), she seemed to be a driven, self-absorbed perfectionist without a whole lot of niceties up her sleeve, and I was too taken aback by all that to realize those qualities would serve her well on the road to world domination. We didn’t actually meet that night—I merely stood back and watched in shock and awe—but I’ve circled her ever since, as the girl I pegged to be a needy wannabe emerged as the most influential and entertaining woman in the culture for decades. She went on to be Madonna, while I went on to cover Madonna.”
4. “Kim Gordon’s Girl in a Band.” Questlove on the musician’s memoir.
“Once the song-specific essays change the book, it’s hard to change it back. For a while the book feels more like a collage. Her asides on Kurt Cobain (whom she liked), or Courtney Love (whom she doesn’t), or cofounding a clothing line work against the rhythm she’s established. The problem clears up when Gordon returns to family life — specifically to the birth of her daughter, Coco. She describes her artwork, motherhood and marriage: the first, familiar and comforting; the second, challenging and rewarding; the third, heartbreaking. After 27 years together, she suspects Moore is having an affair. She turns out to be right. These are some of the rawest passages of the book, and not just because they are some of the most recent. When she says she has compassion for him but cannot forgive him, it feels as if she’s picking her words like weapons. The marriage ends.”
5. “Outside Man.” Scott Budnick produced the Hangover movies. He’s also one of the most effective advocates for prison reform in California. It doesn’t make any sense until you see him at work.
“If Budnick were a priest or a lawyer, even a counselor or a coach, these jailhouse pilgrimages would be easier to explain—his declarations not so incongruous. But until a bit more than a year ago, Budnick had a day job as a Hollywood producer, and not one devoted to bringing socially conscious, inspirational tales to the screen. As the number two at Green Hat Films, Budnick executive-produced the raunchy, uproarious Hangover movies, the top-grossing R-rated comedy franchise in history. For years it meant living a kind of double life, racing from the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank to Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall in Sylmar, interrupting conference calls to accept collect calls, burning through girlfriends once they realized he would rather be, as his official bio says, ’walking the tiers of California jails and prisons on his nights and weekends’ than a red carpet.”
Video of the Day: Blade Runner: The Final Cut gets a new trailer:
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