Cultrface is a blog about culture and how it can enrich our lives.

The weird story of Atlantropa

From Atlas Obscura, a recount of Atlantropa, a wild idea to drain the Mediterranean and merge Africa and Europe (and yes, it was real):

Back in 1929, [Herman] Sörgel wrote a book on his ideas under the title The Panropa Project, Lowering the Mediterranean, Irrigating the Sahara. Three years later he rebranded his project in another book, called Atlantropa, the name by which his utopian project is still remembered. Persistence must have been one of Sörgels main character traits, because until his death in 1952, he kept on defending Atlantropa in four books, over a thousand publications and countless lectures, enough to fill up a special section in the archive of the Deutsches Museum in Munich.

Not hampered by any sense of reality or modesty, Sörgel’s Atlantropa design envisioned three gigantic dams which dwarf contemporary superstructures like China’s Three Gorges Dam. The biggest barrage would be built across the Straits of Gibraltar between Spain and Morocco, separating the Mediterranean from the Atlantic Ocean. A second dam would block the Dardanelles and shut off the Black Sea. As if that were not enough, a third dam would stretch out between Sicily and Tunisia, cutting the Mediterranean in two, with different water levels on either side. 

Racists gon’ racist.

The Phoenix Saint is Ikki

THE PHOENIX SAINT IS IKKI

I randomly remembered “The Balls Are Inert“, a classic 00s meme that was the soundtrack to my college days. Its creator, Kajet, has been making meme videos since then (mostly “in-jokes” as he calls them) and I recently found a new-ish one called “The Phoenix Saint is Ikki”. The clip is taken from an anime called Saint Seiya, which aired from 1986—1989.

It’s the kind of absurdist humour you either get (ie. laugh regardless of the reason why) or don’t (no laughter for you!)

An interview with Lucia Tang

I’m honoured to have Lucia Tang as my next interviewee.

What is your favorite city in the world?

Going to go with London. Tokyo is a close second, but my Japanese is really bad.

What’s the most unusual item you take everywhere you go? 

Probably my Anker portable charger. It’s a habit leftover from that first summer of Pokémon Go, when my phone was constantly dying. 

Why do you do what you do?

I absconded from a PhD program in Chinese history. Now, I work in content and SEO and write the occasional little essay. Getting to write, research, and professionally hang out with smart people basically gets me everything I thought I’d miss when I left the academy.

Where do you go to relax? 

There’s a nice lake within walking distance of my place. I live in a US state known as the “land of 10,000 lakes.” That’s actually an undercount, so no matter where you are, you’re pretty much always equidistant between two of them.

69, 280, or 420?

Tough one! 280.

How do you say goodbye in your culture(s)? 

Bye! There’s also the possibility of 慢走 (manzou), literally “Walk [away] slowly”!

More from Lucia: ‘Kristin Lavransdatter’ and feeling herself again during the pandemic

BFI's top 10 skateboarding films

In 2019, BFI compiled a list of their 10 great skateboarding films. Titles such as Back to the Future and Kids featured where skateboarding wasn’t the main focal point but the majority of the list was dedicated to skating, including Dogtown and Z-Boys:

Legendary skater Stacy Peralta’s documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys tells the story of how skateboarding moved from something that Californian surfers did when the waves were flat to the worldwide phenomenon and Olympic sport that it has become today. Narrated by Sean Penn, it features stunning archive footage alongside talking-head testimonials from Peralta’s influential 70s skate team, the Z-Boys, hailing from Venice Beach, California (popularly known as Dogtown).

More on skateboarding movies: Tony Hawk dissects skateboarding films for GQ Sports

A few links on reproductive rights, abortion, and Roe vs. Wade

I’ve been following the news on Roe vs. Wade via a few selected online friends and while it’s outside my general lane due to a lack of deep, fundamental knowledge, that doesn’t mean I can’t share information to those who might need it. So here are a few links I’ve found interesting regarding reproductive rights, abortion, and Roe vs. Wade. I will be updating this periodically.

  • The History of Reproductive Rights: A Syllabus – JSTOR Daily compiled a list of stories on the history of reproductive rights and abortion “to foster dialogue inside and outside of the classroom” including the historical outlawing of abortion in America, wider thoughts on whether law can provide moral order, and the implications of Roe v. Wade on internet privacy.
  • What would happen if Roe v. Wade were overturned – a Washington Post infographic examining the impact of Roe v. Wade getting overturned. As a reminder, overturning this precedent won’t blanket ban abortions in the US but it would give the power back to the individual states and many of them (particularly in the South) already have or are ready to put bans/restrictions in place alongside other heinous state laws
  • Pregnant? Need Help? They Have an Agenda – From NYT: “If Roe v. Wade is overturned, more than half of American women of reproductive age will live closer to a crisis pregnancy center than to an abortion facility.”
  • National Network of Abortion Funds – “The National Network of Abortion Funds builds power with members to remove financial and logistical barriers to abortion access by centering people who have abortions and organizing at the intersections of racial, economic, and reproductive justice.”
  • California proposes new funding to help low-income and out-of-state abortion seekers – “Governor Gavin Newsom wants $57m for organizations offering the procedure to the uninsured and for reproductive health outreach.”

Batman's greatest foes

Batman’s Greatest Foes

Featuring Gotham’s Legion of Evil! My favourite is The Eraser:

[…] the chosen alias of Lenny Fiasco, who turned to crime after living his college days under constant mocking and taunting by his classmates. Fiasco is a professional at covering the tracks of other crimes. For a 20 percent cut, the Eraser will ‘erase’ the evidence of another crime.

On his Fandom wiki page, under Abilities, it says “Special helmet eraser able to rub out evidence”. Comics were wild back then.

The cosmic importance of the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch

For GQ, astronaut Charles Duke explained how the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch helped the Apollo 16 mission team land on the moon:

Apollo crew members were issued with an Omega Speedmaster after NASA flight-qualified it for all manned space missions. The story of how Omega’s honest 1950s racing chronograph survived a barrage of environmental tests to earn an unlikely place in the history of space exploration has become clearer in recent years. Part of the tale is how it saw off Rolex to win NASA’s affections.

The Speedmasters were state property, and when their time with the Apollo programme ended, Duke and his colleagues were asked to return them. As the lunar module pilot, Duke had used his as mechanical back-up to the computer that timed engine burn as they made their descent into the Descartes Highlands, where the lunar module landed. “If the burn was one second too long, we would crash into the Moon,” says Duke. “It was so valuable to have this accurate timepiece. The only thing was, you couldn’t forget to wind it…”

Watch related: Restoring a Tissot 1853 watch found on the ground

See also: Did Omega and Swatch Just Release a Moonwatch under $300?

PushingUpRoses on Hellraiser V: Inferno

This Classic Horror Movie Sequel Was Bonkers

I’ve seen the first three Hellraiser movies. The first two were good, the third was bad and that’s when I knew I should stop. But franchise didn’t and it’s still technically going although it likely won’t have Doug Bradley’s Pinhead in it so I don’t care. What I do care for are PushingUpRoses videos and she reviewed the fifth instalment, Hellraiser V: Inferno, in all its hellish glory.

[…] But with most well liked horror films, a million cash grabs in the guise of a sequel were released, all varying degrees of bad. I landed myself on Hellraiser V: Inferno, because it had more of a noir, detective theme, and hey; that’s my jam, my YouTube expertise, if there was in fact such a thing. So I watched it. And it was bonkers.

More from PushingUpRoses: A supercut of Murder, She Wrote jokes by PushingUpRoses, Bob Ross vs. The Evil Dead in ‘Creepshow’, and Clarissa Explains It All, Explained

Did you know that Danny DeVito wrote a Penguin comic?

Danny DeVito’s portrayal of Penguin was, to echo the words of Alfred, ghastly and grotesque. But did you know that he wrote a Penguin comic for DC last year?

Gotham City Villains Anniversary Giant #1 was a one-shot comic published on November 30, 2021 (although the cover date was January 2022) and featured the likes of Poison Ivy, Scarecrow, and the Mad Hatter. Here’s what DC Comics had to say:

Gotham City may be protected by the Dark Knight, but this major metropolitan destination is also plagued by some of the deadliest, most nefarious villains in the DC Universe! In this oversize anniversary giant, DC Comics proudly presents tales of Batman’s deadliest foes written and drawn by some of the biggest, most exciting names in comics! 2021 marks an anniversary year for the Scarecrow, Poison Ivy, Ra’s al Ghul, Talia al Ghul, the Mad Hatter, Killer Moth, and the original Red Hood, and Gotham City Villains Anniversary Giant #1 brings these baddies to life in some big ways! Also featuring the anniversary celebration of the Penguin, written by none other than the man who brought Oswald Cobblepot to life in Batman Returns, star of the silver screen Danny DeVito!