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

Happy Chinese New Year and Lunar New Year to those who celebrate!

a wooden dragon

Happy Chinese New Year, Lunar New Year, Tujia New Year, Tsagaan Sar, Hmong New Year, Ryukyu New Year, Korean New Year, and Vietnamese New Year to those who celebrate, in whatever way you celebrate, and in whatever name you call it around the world!

It’s the Year of the Dragon—the Wood Dragon to be specific—and a particularly lucky time as The Smithsonian discussed in their latest piece. People Magazine also looked at the year ahead and what it could mean for you, and South China Morning Post was kind enough to put together a guide of essential reads including lucky foods and traditions for this Chinese New Year.

Language Log also collected some Lunar New Year’s greetings (and here’s the second one)

'Sideways' and its unfortunate influence on mediocre pinot noir

In the 2004 movie, Sideways, Paul Giamatti’s character Miles Raymond uttered the infamous words “I am not drinking any fucking merlot” and thanks to its success, demand for Californian merlot dropped and pinot noir skyrocketed. This lead to vineyards rushing to meet the demand, resulting in the California winemakers mixing pinot noir grapes grown from subpar land with high-quality grapes and reducing the overall quality during the boom.

A paper from University of California-Davis analysed the phenomenon:

This paper explores growers’ supply response to the 2005 “Sideways effect” demand shock (Cuellar, Karnowsky, and Acosta, 2009) triggered by the 2004 release of the movie Sideways. We use a modified difference-in-difference approach to evaluate the supply response in California and regional supply response differences within California. We use U.S. Department of Agriculture data for the period 1999–2012 and find evidence of a supply response in the post-release period that is consistent with the “Sideways effect” on wine demand. The positive supply response for Pinot Noir is stronger than the negative response for Merlot and concentrated in lower value Central Valley vineyards. (JEL Classifications: D25, Q12)

Abstract from the paper

(via Axios)

Paul Giamatti sitting in an In-N-Out Burger with his Golden Globe (via Brian Grubb on Bluesky and various other places on the Web)

Chef Tyler went to Portugal and made a bunch of grilled cheese fusion dishes

The World's Best Grilled Cheese Sandwich - Portugal

If you’re going to Portugal and you’re making grilled cheese sandwiches, of course I’m gonna watch. Chef Tyler did exactly that but with a twist: he mixed his signature dish with Portuguese cuisine to see how it’d turn out. Some worked, some really didn’t, and while I’m sure a few Lisboetas didn’t take kindly to how he treated some of their delicacies, he said it was all in good fun.

Portuguese food related: Foi thong: a Thai dessert with a Portuguese past, the Portuguese origins of England’s tea obsession, and a very Imperial McDonald’s restaurant in Porto

Carl Weathers has sadly passed away at the age of 76. He was best known for his roles as Apollo Creed in the Rocky film series, Colonel Al Dillon in Predator, and more recently Greef Karga in The Mandalorian. Weathers also played American football in the NFL, playing 8 games for the Oakland Raiders.

Singer/Songwriter Seal skateboarding backstage before his performance at Chastain Park Amphitheater in Atlanta
Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images

ICJ orders Israel to take actions that "prevent acts of genocide in Gaza"

I’m gonna keep it real: I’m not equipped to unpack what this ICJ ruling is but the gist is that court has made a list of demands for Israel to “prevent acts of genocide in Gaza”. Al Jazeera has a live blog of the ruling for you to get up to speed. Here’s their tl;dr:

  • The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has delivered its ruling on the emergency measures requested by South Africa in its genocide case against Israel over its war on the Gaza Strip.
  • The court said, among others, that Israel must take steps to prevent acts of genocide in Gaza but stopped short of ordering a ceasefire.

Here are my thoughts: initially, I thought that this was a positive start and while I want to see where this ruling goes, I thought “demands” in this recap were a bit off?

  • The court says it has jurisdiction to rule in the case.
  • The court orders Israel to take measures to prevent acts of genocide in the Gaza Strip, must report back in one month.
  • The court says Israel must prevent and punish incitement to genocide in the Strip.
  • The court says Israel must allow humanitarian aid into the Strip.
  • The court obliges Israel to take more measures to protect Palestinians but does not order it to end military operations in the Strip.

Like, genocide is being committed and people have already been murdered in their thousands so being ordered to allow aid to the people you’re trying to wipe off the planet seems… strange to me? I can’t find the words. And “take more measures to protect Palestinians”? The Israeli government wants them dead. Why would they suddenly protect them? They knew people would disapprove but also knew they couldn’t be stopped and they haven’t been up to now (and arguably for a while longer).

I know I said this requires nuance etc. but ending genocide and suffering untold consequences is a hard rule for me and seeing some of these requests (because they now feel more like requests rather than demands) rub me up the wrong way. I want a ceasefire, punishment, systemic change, and for it to never happen again and I don’t care how unrealistic or idealistic my demands are. My thoughts and support are with the Palestinians, not authorities with no care for the oppressed.

Free Palestine. Ceasefire now.

An interview with Mikey

Today’s short interview is with Mikey (he/him), an incredible visdev artist and illustrator from the US that specializes in character design. Check out Mikey’s work on his website, Twitter, and Bluesky!

What is your favourite city in the world?

Toronto! Being from Western NY, I live very close to Ontario, CA – and I love the atmosphere there. I haven’t been in a long time, but the city has a special place in my heart regarding its culture and being the first place I traveled to with my best friend.

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

I don’t bring much with me when I go places! Too many items on hand stress me out, and I’m prone to forgetting things, so I keep it as light as possible. I like those phone cases that can hold all my important cards, though!

Why do you do what you do?

To tell stories and draw things that resonate with me and others. When I think about the things I’ve created, it seems like they were always made during the lowest points in my life. The need for comfort and escapism fueled my drive to create, whether it was conceptualizing new ideas or drawing my favorite characters. Art has always been there to help me express those tough and complex emotions that I couldn’t put into words. Funnily enough, there have been several times I’ve been approached where people told me my Sonic the Hedgehog art reignited their childhood love for the series. It made me realize why I like doing what I do, and that’s resonating with people!

..Oh, and to also pay the bills.

Where do you go to relax?

I play Splatoon a lot and also go to the gym!

69, 280, or 420?

420

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

We just say “Bye” or “Goodbye” to one another – It’s very casual for the most part, haha!

“I would not be a white American for all the tea in China, all the oil in Texas […] I really wouldn’t like to have to live with all those lies. This is what is irreducible and awful. You, the English, you, the French, you, the West, you, feel that there is something that you can do for me. That you can save know that I have endured long I cannot afford it anymore. Not another moment of your salvation. And that I can save you. I know something about you. You don’t know anything about me.”

A James Baldwin quote from ‘Meeting the Man: James Baldwin in Paris’ (1970)

The New Yorker on Andrea Illy's 'World Cup of Coffee'

The New Yorker explored Andrea Illy’s idea of a ‘World Cup of Coffee’, featuring a (temporarily) tired group of coffee appreciators to judge twenty-seven cups from nine countries:

Early on a recent Thursday morning, nine coffee experts gathered on the fortieth floor of the Edition Hotel in midtown. Their task was to drink—or sip at—twenty-seven cups from nine different countries. The first nine would be cold-brewed; the next nine, drip; the final nine, espresso. All the cups would be numbered, but the tasters would not know which countries the numbers represented. Their ratings would determine the winner of the eighth Ernesto Illy International Coffee Award. Each juror had been issued a curved, Illy-designed, low-scoop spoon, for precision sipping, and an iPad, for keeping score.

I know my good friend RKZ wasn’t part of the judging panel which is a glaring omission. But that’s just me.

The Tyrani-Tart cocktail

Tyrani-Tart Cocktail + Tyranitar Jazwares Select vs. Bandai Shodo Pokemon figure review

YouTube recommended this to me so I thought I’d share it with you all. It’s a “Tyrani-Tart” cocktail to colour match the Pokémon, Tyranitar.

Ingredients

  • 1oz of white rum
  • 0.75oz of green melon liqueur
  • 0.5oz of lime juice
  • 0.5oz of lemon juice
  • 0.25oz of cream of coconut