It’s safe to say that Martin Scorsese is a long-form artist: nine of his feature films barely break a sweat as they roll right past the two-and-a-half-hour mark, with The Irishman and The Wolf of Wall Street cracking three. (At just under two hours, Taxi Driver feels like a two-reeler.) Yet here he is, working briskly on his daughter Francesca Scorsese’s TikTok account, the star of a many-seconds-long segment called “Having my dad guess feminine items pt 1.” (Yes, there’s a sequel.)
The director seems game—or game-ish—as his daughter shows him a quick series of items and he takes his shots (“That is a … some sort of cosmetic thing that you use”), with mixed success. “He gets a scrunchie right and figures out an eyelash curler, but calls a menstrual cup a ‘flagon … or an eye cup,’” wrote Jonathan Dean in The Times of London. “When shown a hairpin, he looks off to the side and gasps what we’re all thinking: ‘I’m wasting my time.’ This clip has been viewed 117,000 times … ” Whether the experience will lead to bite-size TikTok versions of the Scorsese canon is anybody’s guess.
Japan’s imperial laws prevent women from becoming monarchs, which is problematic for any number of reasons but most urgently because potential male heirs to Emperor Naruhito aren’t exactly thick on the ground. If Naruhito’s only child, 19-year-old Princess Aiko, were to marry a commoner, she would become an ordinary citizen, and “that leaves two heirs: Naruhito’s brother, Crown Prince Fumihito, 55, and his 14-year-old nephew, Prince Hisahito,” noted The Guardian.
A panel has been formed to consider changing the law for the world’s oldest monarchy, and a poll suggests that four out of five Japanese are fine with the idea of a reigning empress. “Maybe at some point someone … will come to regard it as an easy PR win,” Christopher Harding, a senior lecturer in Asian history at the University of Edinburgh, told the newspaper. “That said, I wonder whether enough young Japanese really care enough about the imperial family to be impressed by a change like this. For them, the succession rules may be part and parcel of the imperial family’s general irrelevance in their lives.” And that’s even before various members start emigrating to Montecito.
On the one hand, if you live in a place called Porcupine Plain, Saskatchewan, what do you expect? On the other hand, yeesh. Beavers in the small Canadian community recently stole a pile of wooden fence posts just so they could build a dam, and that was merely the latest in a semi-aquatic rodential crime spree that included chewing through a cable in British Columbia—causing an Internet outage—plus the theft of that telecom company’s marking tape. (Marking tape? A furry shrug and Hey, dams don’t build themselves.) “The beaver is often seen as emblematic of Canada, but the two incidents—and a third episode in February when a beaver wandered into a Toronto metro station—expose the growing friction between the country’s humans and its booming population of the animals,” reported The Guardian.
Meanwhile, outside Rome, a small herd of wild boars surrounded a woman carrying groceries in a supermarket parking lot and, well, mugged her. There is disturbing video. “The animals, four adults and two young boars, pursue the woman as she backs away, attempting in vain to keep them at bay,” said The Guardian. “The angry woman is then forced to drop the shopping bag on the ground, which is immediately raided by the animals.” As with Canadian beavers, the stock of Italy’s wild boars is tanking: farmers hate them for ruining crops, and, the newspaper said, they are “believed to be responsible for an average of 10,000 road accidents a year.”
The Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen might never have become the first person to make it to the South Pole (in 1911) if he hadn’t developed a taste for raw penguin on an earlier Antarctic expedition. When the Belgica became trapped in ice during the last winter of the 19th century, Amundsen was able to fight off scurvy thanks to his vitamin-C-rich penguin diet, according to a new book by Julian Sancton, Madhouse at the End of the Earth.
“The food the crew of the Belgica had brought along on the voyage was not working—so [Amundsen] assumed, partly because he had no other choice, that eating fresh penguin and seal would do the trick,” Sancton told The Guardian. “And he was right.” Many of the crew found the penguin tartare “repulsive,” but Amundsen decided that, dammit, it was “the most delicious steak you could wish for.” Amundsen later beat Robert Falcon Scott to the South Pole, and his diet, said Sancton, “was absolutely one of the key reasons.”
The distinctive design on the seats of this city’s trains and buses, a fixture since the end of the Cold War, is being phased out. Described as “a psychedelic worm farm” and nicknamed “Berlin’s Burberry,” it has appeared, noted The Times of London, “on mugs, socks, underwear, mobile phone cases and the mayor’s tie. When it was printed on limited-edition €180 [$220] trainers with a built-in season ticket, customers queued up overnight to buy them.” A design of black-and-gray will replace the beloved psychedelic worms.
“Urban Jungle,” as the pattern was officially known, was created by an Austrian graphic artist called Herbert Lindinger, whose aim, according to the newspaper, was to deter vandals from “doodling on the seats with felt-tip pens.” As it happens, Lindinger is suing BVG, Berlin’s public-transportation operator, “for infringing the terms of the original deal, because he had only authorised its use on the S-bahn trains, not on merchandise…. It is unclear whether the lawsuit played a role in the decision to withdraw the pattern.” Either way, that click you hear sounds a lot like felt-tip pens being uncapped.
George Kalogerakis is a Writer at Large for Air Mail