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What the world is watching, wearing and slurping

The eco-friendly straws made out of pasta

What the world is watching, wearing and slurping

What the world is watching, wearing and slurping

December/January 2020

How Italians are drinking
Single-use plastic straws draw ire from environmentalists, but reusable straws can be impractical (glass) or expensive (metal). Some compostable ones taste weird (bamboo) or resemble a soggy rolled-up newspaper (paper). In Italy, bars and cafés are replacing wasteful plastic with uncooked, tubular versions of the country’s most famous export. Made from wheat and water, these pasta straws are biodegradable, long-lasting and edible. Companies outside Italy are making them too. You can find pasta straws in bars in Britain and elsewhere. Unlike paper, they don’t affect a drink’s flavour and are strong: the founder of Stroodles, which makes pasta straws in Britain, claims you can even drum with them.

What New Yorkers are wearing
WARDROBE.NYC, a company launched in 2017, is reviving the idea of a capsule wardrobe. The clothes are simple, but the concept is not. Each “release” it sells contains eight items. Eager trendsetters can buy the lot or a pre-set selection of four. The items are timeless classics made modern: an elegant long tuxedo shirt is paired with skinny zipper-hemmed leggings instead of trousers. True to the stereotype of New York creatives, the clothes are mostly black. Prices range from $500 for the four-piece “sport” collection to $3,600 for the eight-piece “tailored” one. Unlike mindless fast fashion, buying one of these capsules means making a definitive choice about your wardrobe. Timeless is trendy once more.

What Hong Kongers are watching
Protest movements are always looking for inspiration. This is why hundreds of Hong Kongers squeezed into makeshift venues to watch “Winter on Fire”. The film documents bloody but successful demonstrations in Ukraine in 2013, when protests helped overturn government attempts to pull away from Europe and edge closer to Russia politically. But not everyone has found the message hopeful; at least 130 people were killed in Kyiv that winter.

What Indonesians are dancing to
The performance of Kuda Lumping combines dance and elaborate costumes with the hypnotic rhythms of Indonesia’s traditional musicians. The ritual, designed to send participants into a trance-like state, concludes when performers become possessed by animal spirits, creeping like lizards or galloping like horses. Such rituals were previously common in remote villages. Now that speedy internet services are widespread, the dances have been shared widely on social media, inspiring experimental musicians in Indonesia’s electronic scene to create cover versions of traditional tunes. The inspiration moves both ways: visit a village ritual today and you’re just as likely to hear a pounding techno beat as you are a traditional hand-drum.

The film dividing South Koreans
When the film adaptation of hit feminist novel “Kim Ji-young, Born 1982” opened in South Korea in late October, it had already received numerous zero-star reviews. Men’s rights’ activists announced boycotts, some petitioned the government to ban it and the film’s lead actress was showered with abuse online. The release of the book, by Cho Nam-joo, three years earlier faced a similar outcry. Its theme of an everywoman’s struggle with entrenched sexism resonated with many South Korean women and the book sold more than a million copies. But critics accused it of sowing division between men and women. It seems the book’s intended message still applies.

What Russians are playing
Russia tanked at this year’s Rugby World Cup, but some young Russians had already moved on to a different sport: kila. In what some are calling “Russian rugby”, players throw, run with or kick a ball over to the opponent’s side to score. Grabbing, pushing and putting opponents into chokeholds is part of the fun. The violent game, which is sometimes billed as martial-arts-meets-rugby, has existed since at least the 18th century and was traditionally played on Russia’s frozen lakes during winter carnivals. Today a new kila federation hopes to popularise it. Kila is attracting some young nationalist Russians who want an alternative to Western sports. Game on.

What pirates are bootlegging
Fans of musicals have been secretly filming shows since the 1970s. But today there is a camera in every punter’s pocket – and more places to share footage. You can now find clips that infringe the copyright of many musicals on YouTube, where a bootleg theatre community is emerging. Some trade and sell rare videos online. Lin-Manuel Miranda has castigated pirates: midway through a performance of “Hamilton” this year, he changed the lyrics of a song to call out a woman who was filming. Yet others think the community could help bring in new, younger fans and even revive musicals for new runs. Maybe social media could resuscitate old media.