We all know the feeling. You're sleepless in the sad hours of the night or stumbling around early on a hazy weekend morning in need of something to read, and that pile of unread books just isn't cutting it. Why not take a break from the fire hose of Twitter and RSS and check out our weekly roundup of essential writing from around the web about technology, culture, media, and the future? Sure, it's one more thing you can feel guilty about sitting in your Instapaper queue, but it's better than pulling in vain on your Twitter list again.
Grab the entire list as a Readlist.
Matt Patches interviewed Jamie Benning about his filmumentaries on classic Hollywood blockbusters that cut together unofficial archival footage, interviews, and deleted scenes.
Vulture: Matt Patches - How One Man Made the Ultimate Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and Jaws Documentaries
I thought if you put those into context, along the film's timeline, it'll create a new way of watching the movie. Unravel before your eyes. You see the movie being made in real time. I quite like the idea of putting something different where people will be expecting that same thing to happen. We've all watched Star Wars or Jaws. We know what will happen after that line or that musical cue. By putting something different there, people will sit up and take notice — more than a talking heads documentary.
Mark Yarm profiles Elysium and District 9 director Neill Blompkamp, and the two talk about the influence of futurist Syd Mead, Halo film, and Blompkamp's respect for Michael Bay.
But Blomkamp insists Elysium isn’t some sort of filmic Paul Krugman op-ed piece. It’s important for him that his movies grapple with things that matter, in this case economic disparity, immigration, health care, corporate greed. But he disdains prescription-happy "message" movies—that’s what documentaries are for, he says—and intends Elysium to be first and foremost a mass-appeal, summer popcorn flick. Allegory, satire, and dark humor interest him; providing pat answers to society’s woes does not. "Anybody who thinks they can change the world by making films," he says, "is sorely mistaken."
Ashlee Vance reports on Elon Musk and Tesla's efforts to make electric cars a viable reality.
BloombergBusinessweek: Ashlee Vance - Why Everybody Loves Tesla
If there’s a secret to Tesla’s success, it’s been to outsource as little as possible. The company has insisted on doing just about everything it can in-house, which has helped it develop intellectual property and control costs. Tesla built the battery pack replacement feature into the Model S, for example, and then designed the robots that will do the work.
On Warrior Competition
Josh Eells travels to Jordan for the fifth annual Warrior Competition, "the Olympics of counterterrorism," where some of the world's elite military and special operations teams compete.
The New York Times: Josh Eels - Sleep-Away Camp for Postmodern Cowboys
Team America were at Kasotc for the fifth-annual Warrior Competition in which 32 teams from 17 countries and the Palestinian territories would compete against one another on mock missions. Organizers have referred to it as "the Olympics of counterterrorism": over the next four days, the teams would raid buildings, storm hijacked jets, rescue hostages and shoot targets with live ammunition, all while being scored for speed and accuracy.
On Chuck E. Cheese's
Alexis Madrigal talks to Silicon Valley legend Nolan Bushnell about the history of Chuck E. Cheese's, the pizza, and animatronic singing animals.
The Atlantic: Alexis Madrigal - Chuck E. Cheese's, Silicon Valley Startup: The Origins of the Best Pizza Chain Ever
"It was my pet project. I started it inside Atari. My objective was to vertically integrate the market. We were selling coin-operated games at about $1,500 or $2,000 a pop. In their life, they'd make $15 to 20k. It didn't take rocket science to say I'm on the wrong side of the equation."
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