December 26 – Christmas Cheer

Better to Give

Christmas may have passed, but to keep in the spirit, let’s have one more look at some great gifts given, this time in TV history:

#5: iPod – The Office

Looking to impress young intern Ryan, Michael Scott totally disregards the $20 limit on Secret Santa gifts and instead buys a $400 iPod, setting off a trading war for the music player. The real great gift was what Jim had put together for Pam: a tea pot filled with mementos and a private letter (which he later withdrew). Across the pond, the U.K. Office also had a memorable gift exchange, when Tim gave Dawn an art set, encouraging her to “Never give up” on her dreams.

the office christmas

#4: Blank Cheque – Mary Tyler Moore Show

While it was simply an oversight, Mary Richards’ Christmas turned interesting when she received a blank cheque from boss, Lou Grant, as a gift. What would you do? Personally, I would bilk TV station WJM of every dime they had and then vanish into the night, never to be seen again, as I live the rest of my days in some tropical paradise with Mrs. Sip and an endless supply of booze. Mary, on the other hand, had to go and inform the gruff managing editor of his error.

#3: Leonard Nimoy’s Autograph – Big Bang Theory

Christmas shopping can be an awkward exercise, especially when finding a gift for someone you don’t know so well. Part of the issue is you don’t know what they might be getting you in return. Sheldon Cooper seemed to have that all figured out by buying his neighbour Penny bath baskets in varying sizes. When she surprises him with a signed napkin from his hero Leonard Nimoy (Star Trek’s Spock), he rushes to his room and gathers every basket he had assembled.

#2: Santa’s Little Helper – The Simpsons

Down on his luck after learning he will not receive a Christmas bonus and that his second job as a mall Santa didn’t pay out as he had hoped, Homer Simpson had no presents for his family. Fortune has a funny way of turning around at Christmas, though, and as Homer and Bart are picking through the discarded wagers outside the dog track, hoping to find a winning stub, out comes the dog they bet on, in need of a new family. This special was the start of The Simpsons long animated run.

#1: Lost Love Letters – A Garfield Christmas

There are some incredibly thoughtful gifts in this Christmas special. While Odie’s construction of a backscratcher for Garfield was incredibly cute, the lasagna-loving cat stole the holiday by unearthing lost love letters sent to Grandma Arbuckle by her late husband. The funny thing is that if this were ever to happen for Mrs. Sip in the very distant future, a tuna water-loving kitty would have to dig up all my old e-mails to her. Hopefully the cat has no issues remembering my password.

Super Saturday Shot Day: Christmas Cheer

Some might argue that the greatest gift from TV might be the now real holiday of Festivus, from the Seinfeld episode The Strike. If that’s how you prefer to celebrate, I hope your airing of grievances, feats of strength, and Festivus miracles are everything you ever wished for!

December 19 – Dirty Christmas Tree

Christmas Cringe

Christmas is right around the corner and these are some of the gifts you wouldn’t want to find under your tree. In most cases, the thought is there, but the results just don’t pan out. Let’s see what will be sent to donation in the very near future:

#5: Lee Carvallo’s Putting Challenge – The Simpsons

All Bart wanted for Christmas was the violent video game Bonestorm, going so far as to steal a copy from the local Try-N-Save department store. Of course, he gets caught, breaking his mom’s heart. After making amends for ruining the family holiday photo, Marge says that she has found the perfect gift for Bart. When it’s video game-shaped, he quickly unwraps the package to reveal… Lee Carvallo’s Putting Challenge. It’s not what he wanted, but having his mom’s love again is all he really needs.

Bonestorm Games

#4: Old Radio Tapes – NewsRadio

While the rest of the WNYX staff receive sports cars – after complaining about their original gifts of repurposed baseball hats from station owner and eccentric billionaire Jimmy James – Matthew is left out, receiving only a set of Fibber McGee and Molly tapes. Not only does he miss out on a car because Mr. James tried to get personal gifts for the staff after his first misfire (before resorting to the expensive cars), but Matthew’s favourite old time radio show is Jack Benny.

#3: A Pebble – A Muppet Family Christmas

Don’t get me wrong, this Christmas special is beloved by the Sip Advisor and the entire Sip Kingdom, but a pebble as a present is a horrible idea. You can tell it’s bad because after the Fraggles give the rock to Robin the Frog (complete with song trying to justify why such an awful offering has occured), he quickly flips it, re-gift style, to Grover. I never really got the whole Fraggle Rock crew and am glad they spent most of this momentous Christmas celebration underground.

Fear and Loathing Fraggle Rock

#2: Frame and Hook – Mr. Bean

As Mr. Bean and his girlfriend are shopping for Christmas gifts, they walk by a jewellery store, where she drops hints that she’d like a ring. Of course, Mr. Bean completely gets the wrong message and thinks she wants the photo frame that sits nearby the jewellery. So, a frame and hook for that frame is what she receives, causing her to flee his apartment in tears. Mr. Bean does treat his stuffed bear better, though, replacing the button eyes Teddy was in need of.

#1: Coal – Rugrats

Okay, the bratty Angelica ends up getting exactly what she wants for Christmas (a Deluxe Cynthia Beach House), even after she has been a total terror… but Santa might have left a little something to strike some fear in the girl’s black heart, when opening the house’s garage door reveals some coal residue. I guess she did try to remedy all of her bad behaviour upon warning from Grandpa Lou about what wicked kids can expect from Santa as far as gifts go.

Super Saturday Shot Day: Dirty Christmas Tree

  • 0.25 oz Melon Liqueur
  • 0.25 oz Coconut Rum
  • 0.25 oz Pineapple Juice
  • 0.25 oz Sour Mix
  • Drop of Grenadine

Researching these TV articles was not an easy task and so if I’ve missed any of the worst gifts given in small screen history, please let me know. Merry Christmas, my little sippers!

December 12 – Yellow Snow

Gift Receipt Required

Last week, we opened the Super Saturday Shot Day Christmas season with a look at some of the best gifts given and received in movie history. Today, we see the flipside of that, with the worst presents to be exchanged. These should have definitely been returned to the sender:

#5: Necklace – Love, Actually

I know what you’re saying: “You’re crazy, Sip Advisor… all that boozing has finally damaged your brain!” Now, before you exhile me from this site and the internet altogether, hear me out. The necklace given in this case is a bad gift because it was to be given to the wrong person. Karen (Emma Thompson) is ecstatic when she believes she’ll be receiving an expensive necklace from her husband (Alan Rickman). When all she gets is a Joni Mitchell CD, she knows something is up and confronts her partner. Rickman can’t seem to get Christmas right, given this and his turn as Hans Gruber in Die Hard!

love actually snape

#4: Lingerie – Elf

Giving your partner some sexy lingerie might be the most selfish gift in history (not that there’s anything wrong with that!). I mean, who’s it really for!? That said, it gets even worse when you’re a middle-aged elf, giving your long-lost father a sexy teddy. With so much sugar running through his veins, Buddy was bound to make some mistakes in his first visit to the world away from the North Pole. And what a confusing place to start, as he must travel to New York City to reunite a father who didn’t even know he existed.

#3: Bunny Pajamas – A Christmas Story

Most of us have been there at some point in our lives, when a gift from a distant relative just doesn’t jive with our wants and desires. Poor Ralphie not only gets a set of bunny pajamas (complete with floppy ears and cottontail) from his aunt Clara, but to add insult to injury, the sleepwear is pink because aunt Clara mistakes Ralphie for being a girl… not a strapping young lad capable of wielding a Red Ryder BB Gun. After showing his new jammies off to his mom, dad, and brother (who can’t help but laugh at the ridiculous outfit), Ralphie is allowed to change and get back to his present opening.

A-Christmas-Story-pink nightmare

#2: Jelly of the Month Club – Christmas Vacation

Looking to cut costs, Frank Shirley enrols his employees in a Jelly of the Month Club, rather than reward them with their annual Christmas bonus, as has been tradition. Aside from the loss of cash money, I have to ask: Is there really that many good jellies to fill up the calendar? As Clark Griswold says, with his boss held hostage in their home, people rely on that money and when they don’t get it, that’s just rotten. Mr. Shirley learns his lesson and promises to bring the bonuses back, even adding an extra 20% to Clark’s. If it had been a Beer of the Month Club, would all be alright!?

#1: Various – The Nightmare Before Christmas

While his heart is in the right place – wait, does Jack Skellington even have a heart? – any gift coming from Sandy Claws is probably one you shouldn’t bother opening. In his attempt to become the new face of Christmas, Jack delivers shrunken heads, Christmas tree-eating snakes, pumpkin jack-in-the-boxes, vampire teddy bears, toy ducks with sharp teeth, and living wreaths to the children of the world, causing dismay and chaos on Christmas morning. Jack really sounds more like a Christmas-themed mercenary than the bearer of great gifts.

Super Saturday Shot Day: Yellow Snow

While The Gift of the Magi presents are incredibly thoughtful, they’re poorly planned and communicated: Jim sells his watch to buy Della a comb for her hair, while Della sells her hair to buy Jim a chain for his watch. Definitely a couple that needed to focus a little more and buy a mutually awesome gift together!

December 5 – Santa’s Coming

The Gift of Giving

All this month, for Super Saturday Shot Day, we’ll be looking at the best Christmas gifts exchanged in movies and on TV. To get everyone into the Christmas spirit, let’s start with the greatest gifts in movies:

#5: Red Ryder BB Gun – A Christmas Story

While I’m far from a gun guy and little Ralphie did end up injuring himself shooting the Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle (just as everyone told him he would), this gift makes the best list because every one of us, growing up, had that one dream item that we wanted more than anything else in the world. And when it showed up under the tree on Christmas morning, you truly believed in the spirit of the season.

A-Christmas-Story-bb gun

#4: Pool – Christmas Vacation

Having grown up with a pool, I can totally appreciate how awesome it would be to be told your dad was installing one. Of course, with Clark Griswold’s Christmas bonus waiting in the wings, he’s not even sure he’ll be able to deliver on his promise of scorching hot days spent poolside, refreshed and relaxed. Just as Clark makes his big announcement, he discover his bonus isn’t what he thought it would be, but I’ll  have more on that next week.

#3: Gizmo – Gremlins

Mogwai’s seem pretty cool. That is, until they get fed after midnight, come into contact with water, or are exposed to sunlight. At least Gizmo stays cute and cuddly throughout, despite the fact it is the reason for all the mayhem that ensues. When a mogwai goes bad, it turns into a gremlin and then you really have to be careful, as these deranged creatures have been known to kill. In the end, the town is saved and Gizmo can return to normal… until its next late night feeding.

gremlins nicki minaj

#2: Lady – Lady and the Tramp

Is there a better gift to have lying under your tree than a cute little puppy. I’d say a kitten, but I’ll give them a pass here! Lady comes into her family’s life as an energetic pup; a Christmas gift given from Jim Dear to his wife Darling. After growing up, getting into mishaps and adventures, and finding love, the story sticks with the Christmas theme to show that Tramp has joined the family fray as has a litter of pups, the next generation of the household.

#1: Invisibility Cloak – Harry Potter

Everyone out there has fantasized at some point or another about being invisible. Well, Harry Potter is the one who actually gets the chance and really, the poor guy deserves it after all the years he’s spent as a slave to his extended family and guardians. If the Sip Advisor had an invisibility cloak, I would get up to all kinds of mischief… some of which I probably shouldn’t even share. To give you a hint, there would be a lot of pranking on Mrs. Sip!

Super Saturday Shot Day: Santa’s Coming

  • 0.5 oz Coconut Rum
  • 0.5 oz Pineapple Juice
  • 0.5 oz Cranberry Juice
  • Garnish with a Cranberry

I also have to include the bell from The Polar Express here, as the tiny trinket (gifted by Santa, himself) provided years of joy for a young boy and his little sister, allowing them to enjoy the spirit of Christmas throughout the years, so long as they truly believed.

November 28 – The Talking Monkey

A Glimpse Inside

Last week, we began looking at one of the most underrated elements to visual storytelling: narration. It’s amazing how essential the narration of a movie or TV show can be, sometimes making or breaking a project. This week, we move to the big screen. Let’s get things rolling!

#5: Sin City

As if coming from the pages of a comic book, viewers are taken on a journey through the voice of each focal character, learning their desires, motives, issues, fears, and discoveries. Narration comes from a variety of sources, including Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, and Clive Owen, each captivating the audience with their character’s story. Film noir is no stranger to the narrator storytelling device, but Sin City brought the style back to the mainstream.

sincity

#4: A Clockwork Orange

The ultra-violent Alex (played by Malcolm McDowell) is a drug-fueled sociopath who won’t hesitate in committing all kinds of horrible acts on innocent victims. As a result, many of Alex’s thoughts are quite disturbing and the way they are delivered by McDowell, in Alex’s teenage Cockney slang, will really have your skin crawling. Despite all efforts to reform Alex, the teen eventually returns to his old habits and more suffering is in the cards.

#3: How the Grinch Stole Christmas

It’s one thing to narrate a movie and it’s a whole other ball of yarn when you’re delivering the words of Dr. Seuss! I wonder how many retakes were needed to perfectly deliver some of the Seussian language? Regardless, Hannibal Lecter himself, Anthony Hopkins, nailed it, retelling the tale of The Grinch, who can’t stand the Whos down in Whoville, especially as the Christmas holiday approaches. While critics were less enthusiastic about the film, the Sip Advisor has always enjoyed it.

the grinch decorating

#2: Fight Club

The haunting narrations of this film will leave viewers chilled to the bone, as the protagonist (played by Edward Norton) turns his insomnia into attending support groups and later, starting a terrorist organization, bred out of a fighting club. While we never get the main character’s name, we certainly get all the thoughts that make him tick and lead to his mental breakdown… the problem is, he realizes too late exactly what he’s started and can’t stop.

#1: A Christmas Story

In a style that would go on to be the inspiration for The Wonder Years, we learn about the trials and tribulations little Ralphie goes through as he asks for a “Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle” for Christmas. This includes convincing his teacher, parents, and even the big guy himself, Santa, that the gun isn’t as dangerous as many fear. As if that’s not enough, Ralphie has to deal with schoolyard bullies, swearing in front of his parents, and ruined Christmas dinner.

Super Saturday Shot Day: The Talking Monkey

  • 0.5 oz Chocolate Liqueur
  • 0.5 oz Banana Liqueur
  • 0.25 oz Coffee Liqueur
  • 0.25 oz Milk
  • Garnish with a Banana Slice

Of course, there’s always the king of the narration, Morgan Freeman, with credits in the role including Shawshank Redemption, War of the Worlds, March of the Penguins, and Island of Lemurs: Madagascar. If a Hall of Fame, dedicated to the art, were to ever be built, Freeman would be its inaugural inductee!

November 21 – The Talking Cow

Story Guides

It’s funny how much narration can add to the overall effect of a TV show or movie. That’s why over the next two weeks, we will salute the voices behind our favourite entertainment. This week, we’ll start with TV land, while next week, we move to the big screen. Let’s get things rolling!

#5: How I Met Your Mother

Voiced by Danny Tanner… er, I mean Bob Saget, the audience joins Ted Mosby’s two children as we learn the nine-season long story of how Ted met their mother. I can’t help but think that most story tellers would have cut straight to the chase, especially with the rash of ADD-afflicted teens known to exist nowadays. Through Saget, we join Ted and the gang for all of their triumphs, heartbreaks, and adventures in the Big Apple.

how-I-met-your-mother

#4: The Goldbergs

Mrs. Sip and I have just recently got into this show and are really enjoying it. One of the best elements is the narration provided by my boy Patton Oswalt, as a young Adam Goldberg traverses the awesome decade that was the 1980s! As a child of the 80’s, I can appreciate many elements of this show, including Adam’s passion for the Nintendo Entertainment System and Transformers. All along, we have Oswalt guiding us with the same childlike joy and enthusiasm as the boy he’s doing an adult version of.

#3: Dexter

Through Dexter’s narrations, we learn what’s going on in his troubled mind. We also get to see the side of Dexter he rarely reveals to the outside world. While he gives the impression that he’s kind of robotic, his inside voice tells us that he’s actually got a sense of humour and can even care for the people around him. Some of the best laughs from the series come straight from the mind of our serial killer of serial killers, as he makes quips about the victims he’s hunting and the authorities he’s eluding.

dexter

#2: Arrested Development

From the mind of Ron Howard (almost literally, as he delivers a perfect narration), comes the wacky antics of the Bluth family. With a growing number of characters, as the story progresses, Howard keeps us updated with each development and even manages to add in his own comedy from time to time. Howard even factors into the series, doing double duty, playing himself at some points. The former Opie of The Andy Griffith Show did well for himself and survived the transition from being a child actor.

#1: Wonder Years

Voiced by Daniel Stern of Wet Bandits (Home Alone) fame, this voice guided us through the turbulent 1960’s and 70’s, as Kevin Arnold came of age. From teenage love to surviving high school, we saw – and heard – it all. Although I haven’t seen it in years, I can still recall many of the bombs dropped in the final narration of the series, including the fact that Kevin and Winnie didn’t have a true happily ever after and that Jack Arnold, Kevin’s dad, only lived a couple more years, before passing away.

Super Saturday Shot Day: The Talking Cow

  • Rim glass with Coconut Shavings
  • 1 oz Coconut Rum
  • 0.5 oz Milk

If I could choose anyone to narrator my life’s story, it just might be the Dos Equis Man! Next week, we move to feature films, where narrators are essential to some stories. Which movies will crack the Top 5? You’ll just have to tune in to find out…

 

November 14 – False Alarm

Audial Dismay

Last week, we looked at the heavenly sounds that bring a smile to my face. This week, we’re not so lucky. This article might as well be called: “The Sounds that Keep the Sip Advisor Up at Night, Living in a Downtown Condo.” That’s simply too long, though, so here we go with the aptly titled “Bad Sounds”:

#5: Crying Babies/Kids

While this causes a natural instinct to kick in among mothers, it’s annoying as hell to everyone else in the general vicinity. Don’t get me wrong, I feel for the parents of a wailing youngster, as I know I will likely be in that position one day. That doesn’t stop the clamor from waking the Sip Advisor as he’s trying to catch a little shuteye on flights or enjoy the typically pleasant sounds of Disneyland. The worst is when a kid can turn it off and on, in an attempt to get attention.

cry boobs appear

#4: Trucks Backing Up

Beep, beep, BEEEEEEP… you get the point. Mrs. Sip and I live near a few businesses and I am often disturbed from my slumber by this increasingly annoying sound. I get the safety reason behind larger vehicles being able to warn people and other cars that they’re reversing, but why do these cautions have to be so loud, especially in the middle of the night in residential areas. Can’t you see a psychopathic driver setting his truck in reverse and then abandoning it, revelling in the misery of those within earshot!?

#3: Honking Horns

The Sip Advisor really hates people that are horn happy (almost called them horny, but I don’t discriminate there). The type of people that tap their horn whenever they are frustrated, regardless of if it’s justified or not. Yes, traffic might be backed up, but laying on your horn isn’t going to help matters. The worst is when I’m walking along, lost in thought and I’m startled by some idiot blaring his horn. Usually, when I looked around to see what the commotion is about, there’s no issue at all.

horn gun shots

#2: Alarm Clock

No matter how nice the file you choose on your phone or whether it’s your favourite song of all-time, when this noise wakes you up, you’re not very happy. It can actually make you turn sour on a song you used to enjoy, as I went through when Mrs. Sip used Californication by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers for a couple years. Now she uses Coldplay’s Paradise, but I’m not sure I ever really liked that song in the first place. The only good alarm is waking up naturally, on your own schedule.

#1: Car Alarms

Worse than an alarm you’re expecting, is one you don’t, especially if it goes unclaimed, as it always does in the case of useless car alarms. With all the street parking downtown, Mrs. Sip and I are subjected to car alarms on a near regularly basis. Worst of all, is when the terrorizing sounds follow you while camping, of all places. You figure you’re getting away from all the disturbances of city life when you’re out in the wilderness, but that wasn’t the case recently for us. I exasperatedly looked at Mrs. Sip and said, “We just can’t get away from it!”

Super Saturday Shot Day: False Alarm

Some honourable mentions include dripping water, insects buzzing by your head, and emergency vehicle sirens, which narrowly misses making the list because of its necessity. Have I missed a sound that you find absolutely unnecessary and deplorable? Let me know!