Cultrface – a blog dedicated to culture and how it enriches our lives.

Abolish Sinterklaas. Abolish Zwarte Piet.

Today on Bluesky, I was reminded that the feast of Sinterklaas is tomorrow (6th December). For those who don’t know, Sinterklaas is a Dutch character based on Saint Nicholas (aka Santa Claus). While this celebration involves gift-giving and general festivities (which start tonight, on 5th December), it also involves Sinterklaas’s “assistant” called Zwarte Piet, traditionally cosplayed by white people in Blackface.

With all the definitions out of the way, I can get to the point of this post: I loathe and despise the concept of Sinterklaas having a Black “helper” (clearly an enslaved Black person). I don’t care if apparently 92% of Dutch people didn’t think he’s racist in 2013 or if it was “of its time” or “part of tradition”. It was racist BS then and it’s racist BS now.

There is an organisation called Kick Out Zwarte Piet that campaigns against Zwarte Piet and its depictions in culture and I’m in full support.

If you want to support a non-racist helper of Santa, look no further than this good boy:

The Simpsons - Homer and Bart adopts Santa's Little Helper

What do reindeer eat?

It’s customary to leave out a mince pie and a glass of milk for Santa and a carrot for Rudolph on Christmas Eve night. While I’ll sidestep the part where none of the other reindeer get anything despite doing more work collectively than Rudolph, I wondered: can Rudolph eat a raw carrot? And what do reindeer actually eat?

The first question has a general answer: no. The Cairngorm Reindeer Herd says that because carrots aren’t native to the sub-Arctic areas that reindeer are from, they haven’t adapted to eating them and their teeth aren’t prepared for chewing the crunch orange stuff. Phil Endsor aka “The Reindeer Whisperer” backed this up in a quote from The Independent:

“Carrots aren’t part of their natural diet and reindeer struggle to digest carrots because they don’t have any incisor teeth on their upper jaw – we’ve never seen any of the reindeers we look after eat one.”

via The Independent

However, Aoife McElwain from The Irish Times spoke to Kevina O’Connell, the manager of Glendeer Pet Farm and she said the opposite:

“Carrots are great for reindeer,” confirms O’Connell. “They love them and they give them energy. And, of course, carrots help them to see at night.”

Despite her 28 years of running the farm, I’m inclined to agree with The Reindeer Whisperer on this one. But one thing they all agree on is what reindeer definitely eat and that’s Cladonia rangiferina or reindeer lichen, a moss-like fungus that forms an important part of a reindeer’s diet. You find reindeer lichen in habitats like forests, particularly in boreal forests like those found in Canada.

Since reindeer are herbivores, they mainly eat vegetation including herbs, grasses, mosses, and bits of shrubs and trees. If you live near green areas, you could swap the carrots for more green and aromatic options like these to keep Rudolph and his stomach happy.

yr fave film critic: my new favourite podcast

yr fave film critic s01e21: cm punk in love

yr fave film critic is a podcast hosted by The Armchair Auteur aka Dom Griffin. In it, he discussed film news (and often wrestling news), what he’s watched in that week, and answers questions from listeners/viewers with episodes usually coming out every Friday.

I struggle to get into and keep up with podcasts because I have to be “in the mood” for them compared to music where I passively listen. But yr fave film critic demands just enough concentration that you focus but not so much that you have to stop everything you’re doing or you’ll miss something important. I think that’s by design, knowing how Dom creates, and that’s what makes the podcast so approachable and easy to listen to.

You can follow yr fave film critic wherever you get your podcasts (heh) and you can stream the video versions on YouTube (the updated playlist is above).

More from Dom: Dom Griffin on Spider Man: Across The Spider-Verse, The Fast Saga, Ranked (by Dom Griffin), and The Armchair Auteur’s Year in Review (2022)

Atlas Obscura on umami's historic culinary journey

You may know it as monosodium glutamate (MSG) but umami is one of the most popular flavours in the world. Atlas Obscura tracked its journey around the world, its name origins, and dispelled myths over what umami actually is:

Umami comes from molecules found in meat (inosinate), plants (guanylate), or both (free glutamate). Some processes like aging and fermenting create free glutamate, bringing out the umami flavor. (Think: cured meats or cheeses.) But umami is also strongly present in mushrooms, seafood, and tomatoes. The latter points to why ketchup is such a popular condiment: its umami-ness acts as a flavor enhancer.

I covered some of the racist history of MSG (monosodium glutamate) a few Decembers ago but with Atlas Obscura’s article, it’s good to see just how far umami has travelled in terms of awareness and the various names and foods it shows up in.

  • Umami in tomato ketchup? Check.
  • Umami in bacalhau? Check.
  • Umami in aged cheese? Check.
  • Umami in smoked mackerel? Check.

And the name “umami”? It comes from the Japanese word umai, meaning “delicious”. I’ll eat to that!

The Above the Clouds Kilimanjaro 2024 Expedition Team is comprised of Black women and will focus on “fostering connection, community & joy on a journey to the Roof of Africa” as they attempt to reach the summit of Kilimanjaro. You can follow their journey on Instagram. (via Denver 7)

Mermaid and Pirate‘ (Bookshop link) is children’s book by Tracey Baptiste and tells the story of a Black mermaid and a Black pirate who become friends who understand each other despite not speaking the same language. Great for establishing the advantages of friendship, especially for Black children.

Eddie Bauer CEO Tim Bantle changed company logo to appeal to Gen Z?

Two logos on top of each other. The top logo is written in a cursive, handwritten font and says Eddie Bauer. The bottom logo is a redesign, written in all caps and a bold sans-serif typeface. Next to the wordmark is a monochrome goose with its wings open.

In the newest episode of Homogenised Logos, Eddie Bauer has entered the ring by replacing its cursive wordmark with an all-caps sans-serif logo. CEO Tim Bantle’s reasoning was influenced by the younger generation and their apparent inability to understand cursive?

Though Bantle and his team initially toyed with the idea of keeping the script font, the general reaction they received was that it looked dated and, to some, confusing. “A big part of what I’m going to need to do here is reintroduce this great heritage brand to the next generation,” Bantle says. “And kids don’t even learn to read cursive in school anymore.”


“It’s very clear that we need to be focused on being a broadly inclusive and democratic outdoor brand,”

I can understand if they felt the logo wasn’t very legible and tested on a variety of different customers—including disabled people—and came to this conclusion, but this didn’t happen. I don’t even know if Gen Z are—or should be—their target audience, or whether Bantle just referenced them for buzz. Also, what the hell is a “democratic” outdoor brand?

As much as I like minimalism and modernism, I need some things to look distinctive so I know what I’m looking at. When I saw the redesigned logo, I thought “this looks like two logos from other brands”. I can’t remember where I’ve seen that font before but the goose reminded me of brands like Grey Goose and the original logo for a company called Welcome Break (okay, I’m showing my age and proving Bantle’s point with the second one).

If Eddie Bauer wants to be a brand for everybody with a new logo like this, they’ll soon find that people will go elsewhere.

Logo fail related: Nokia changed their logo and I wish hadn’t, corporate logos but make them look bootleg with image AI, and where did Ruff & Mews go from Petco’s new logo?

(via Fast Company)

An interview with Anni Jyn

I’m honoured to have artist Anni Jyn as my next interviewee.

What is your favourite city in the world?


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

hmmmmm it has to be either a conker in my coat pocket or a keyring I have which is a huge bourbon biscuit.

Why do you do what you do?

I’ve worked a lot of various jobs surrounding retail and I found when I wasn’t being creatively stimulated I would simply lose my mind. As cheesy as it sounds, I need art to survive – any form of it.

Where do you go to relax?

The woods.

69, 280, or 420?


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

Si thi!

You should check out Anni’s art on her website and Instagram.


Joseph makes Mary a pie tiktok

A very funny meme related to Mary and Joseph and his resentment towards her being chosen by God to bear His child (you know, Jesus Christ) and the Immaculate Conception that followed. Or maybe he doesn’t believe it and thinks she cheated? While none of that is mentioned in the actual meme, it’s worth knowing the context.

Shout to my friend Josh (whose version of this meme is my favourite and therefore the best) for putting me onto this.

Randa Hadi on archives as 'palaces of memories for collective imagination'

For Futuress, Randa Hadi wrote about (Re)claiming Archives and creating space to cultivate and store memories for ‘collective imagination’:

Growing up in Kuwait to a family of storytellers, stories and memories were always told and seldomly written. As a child, I would spend hours listening to my mom’s funny recollections of traveling in a large van with her extended Arab family through the hot, humid summers of Orlando, Florida. My dad told emotional and brutal stories about being in the Kuwaiti Air Force during the Gulf War, infused with his unique sense of humor, while his mom, my grandma Sadeeqa Al Harmi, often recalled the day that a bunch of Iraqi soldiers stormed their house and took my dad as a prisoner. My maternal grandma, Jawahir Abdullah Ibraheem, shared little about her early years in Iran, except that her loving big sister, Aisha, took care of her. When Aisha died, my grandma moved to Dubai to live with her great aunt Domoni, but these weren’t happy days. At age 14, Jawahir moved to Kuwait and got married, and eventually had nine children, three of whom passed away shortly after birth. But despite her difficulties and sorrows, she always spoke fondly about how her community helped her raise her family.

If remembering is powerful, so is forgetting. Forgetting can happen intentionally or unintentionally, as a natural product of aging or as a result of trauma. Forgetting, however, should never be confused with erasure, which is a violent and intentional act of silencing that augments the power of the oppressors, while subduing the oppressed and creating simplified narratives about how the world has come into being. For the marginalized, forgetting is often an act of survival, which can serve as an indication of healing. We do not need to hold space for the recollections that don’t serve us, and letting painful memories fade away can be restorative.

With the genocide of Palestinians in Gaza right now and Israeli forces destroying means of communication, we need archives more than ever. We need to tell these stories and make sure they are never forgotten while states try to erase what was rightfully there.

Screenshots of the popular video game Spider-Man 2 are now circulating around the internet. Thanks to some stellar art direction and a robust photo mode from Insomniac Games, these screenshots are a marvel — but there’s one problem: There’s TOO DAMN MANY of them. This is NOT what I asked for when I said I wanted more info on the game! I am sick of seeing pictures of Spider-Man!

From ‘Opinion: That’s Enough Pictures of Spider-Man‘ by Aaraf Afzal, Hard Drive

*bangs fist on a desk*

Blue Monday Press's 'Evergreen Fantasies' shows beautiful art inspired by The Simpsons

Two photos. One is of a Homer inflatable bust, with Homer Simpsons face at the top half and Homer (the poet) on the bottom half. The second is of a Japanese inspired illustration of Marge.
© Blue Monday Press

Last year, Blue Monday Press released Evergreen Fantasies, an art book inspired by The Simpsons and it’s an awesome collection of visual arts:

Evergreen Fantasies is a collection of artwork inspired by The Simpsons in a huge range of mediums from artists from all over the world. The book features artwork from over 40 artists from around the world, each recreating the world of Springfield in their own unique way. There’s a huge multitude of mediums featured including: painting, comics, ceramics, 3D design, embroidery, handmade action figures, sculpture, inflatables, and more.

Art: check. The Simpsons: check. In book form: check.

You can buy a copy of Evergreen Fantasies on the Blue Monday Press website.

'I hate the allegations and I despise the alligators.'

While sifting through Language Log’s archives for blogs on The Element of Style, written and revised by William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White (respectively), I stumbled upon a post titled ‘Room For Debate on Strunk and White‘ by Geoffrey K. Pullum and this funny quote:

You know (can I talk frankly with you, since you’re Language Log readers?) I get so sick of seeing the same allegations again and again. I hate the allegations and I despise the alligators.

I love it. I hope I can find a use for it some day.