Indiana – Hoosier Heritage

Each week, the Sip Advisor will alphabetically travel the United States, discovering the best each state has to offer in a variety of subjects. Today, we hit the ‘Crossroads of America’, otherwise known as Indiana. The Hoosier State is filled with folks who are proud to call themselves Hoosiers, although no one really knows what the name means or where it came from. Let’s see if we can solve the mystery:

Motto: “The Crossroads of America” – Has anyone verified this claim!?

Food: Hoosier Pie, otherwise known as Sugar Cream Pie is the State Pie of Indiana. It should also be noted, popular snack Doritos, were invented by Indianan Arch West, a marketing executive with Frito-Lay. After dying in September 2011, family members scattered the tortilla chips into his grave, as he was being buried.

Drink: Is it eligible if the drink is fictional? My project, I say yes. Snake Juice was invented on the Indiana-set TV show Parks and Recreation. Described as a “high-end Kahlua-style liqueur,” made by mixing “a bunch of alcohol together, some sugar and coffee, and some other junk,” resulting in a spirit that “kinda tastes like Kahlua.” This inspired one of the best episodes of the series, as characters get plastered drinking the tonic.

Doritos

Site to See: The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the highest-capacity sporting venue in the world, able to accommodate a max capacity of 400,000 spectators. The track is host to the annual Indy 500 and Brickyard 400 races. The Indy 500 is the world’s oldest automobile race that is still running. The only times races were not run was during World War I and II.

Street: Monument Circle, in Indianapolis, is a brick street that surrounds the Soldiers and Sailors Monument. This focal point has an observation deck and doubles as the world’s largest non-tree Christmas tree during the holiday season. A free tour of the area is offered from May to October.

TV Show: Indiana is the setting for a few shows the Sip Advisor enjoys, but if I had to choose a favourite, it would be the aforementioned Parks and Recreation. Great characters, such as Ron Swanson and Andy Dwyer, kept viewers coming back for seven seasons and 125 episodes of low-level government fun.

Movie: As much as I enjoy the biographical football film Rudy, it can’t compare to A Christmas Story, which is viewed annually by the Sip Family. Set in the fictional Hohman, in the late 1930’s/early 1940’s, the movie follows little Ralphie Parker’s pursuit of a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas. The classic is broadcast 12 times, for 24 hours straight on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day on the TNT channel.

Indy 500

Book/Author: While there may be more impactful works and authors from Indiana, I want to use this space to highlight that Garfield comics are set in Muncie. Created by cartoonist Jim Davis (also from Muncie), Garfield’s location is rarely referenced, as Davis wanted readers everywhere to think Garfield could live next door to them.

Fictional Character: Leslie Knope, from Parks and Recereation, is an extremely proud Indianan. Over her career as a public servant, she has risen from head of the parks and rec department to a member of city council and later, Governor of Indiana. It’s even alluded to that she may have become President of the United States.

Fictional City: Given the mysterious occurrences going on in Hawkins (Stranger Things), I don’t think I’d want to live there. Pawnee (Parks and Recreation) and Orson (The Middle) seem to have a mix of good and bad that comes with their sitcom territory. Finally, Hohman (A Christmas Story) is perpetually stuck in yesteryear and daddy needs his TV and internet!

Actor/Actress: Two bad asses of cinema hail from Indiana and share more in common than that. Steve McQueen, star of The Great Escape and Bullitt, was born in Beech Grove, in 1930. Under a year later, James Dean, the Rebel Without a Cause, was born in Marion. Both actors participated in auto racing, with Dean losing his life in a car accident, at the young age of 24. McQueen died, aged 50, due to heart failure following surgery to remove terminal cancer tumours.

Pawnee

Song: Back Home Again in Indiana, may not be the State Song of Indiana, but it may be more popular than the tune that is. The song is performed as part of the opening ceremonies to the annual Indy 500 race and was the number Louis Armstrong and his All Stars opened each of their concerts with.

Band/Musician: The Jackson Family of musicians, including Michael and Janet, were born in Gary. They have been called the First Family of Soul and the Royal Family of Pop. In a neighbourhood that has seen better times, the family’s well-kept home still stands, drawing fans to the two-bedroom abode, which housed eight children and their parents.

People: Former late night talk show host, David Letterman, was born in Indianapolis. His show was on air for 33 years (6,080 episodes hosted by Letterman), with Mrs. Sip and I in attendance for an episode in 2013. Today, Letterman hosts the Netflix series My Next Guest Needs No Introduction.

Animal: Lil Bub was the runt of a kitten litter, in Bloomington, born with dwarfism, causing her tongue to be too big for her mouth. The cat appeared in movies, authored her own book – for which she did signings – and was an animal rights activist. Sadly, Lil Bub passed away in December 2019, due to an infection.

Lil Bub

Invention: Going hand-in-hand together, the first gas-powered car was invented in Indiana, so the first gas pump was needed to fuel these new vehicles. Interestingly, the car came along almost a decade after the pump, which was originally used to fill lamps and stoves.

Crime: Herb Baumeister was a successful businessman, but also had a dark side. In 1996, a police search of his estate, Fox Hollow Farm, turned up the bodies of 11 men who had disappeared from gay bars around Indianapolis. An additional nine murders were suspected to have been committed by Baumeister, who upon learning of a warrant for his arrest, fled to Ontario, Canada and committed suicide.

Law: In Indiana, it is illegal to catch a fish using dynamite, firearms, a crossbow or your bare hands. Well, how the hell else are you supposed to get the job done!?

Sports Team: Indianapolis has two professional sports teams with the Colts (NFL) and Pacers (NBA). The Colts relocated from Baltimore on March 29, 1984, under the cover of darkness, with the team’s property hidden in moving trucks. The state is also home to two of the most notable college football programs, with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Indiana University Hoosiers.

Fishing

Athlete: Larry Bird was born in West Baden Springs. Following a successful career, which included three NBA Championships (two of which he was the Finals MVP for), Bird joined his home state Pacers as head coach and later as President of Basketball Operations and remains with the team in an advisor capacity to this day. He is the only person to win the NBA MVP, Coach of the Year and Executive of the Year awards.

Famous Home: The Kessler Mansion, called the “ugliest house in America”, is located in Indianapolis, built by a former pimp named Jerry Hostetler. Nicknamed ‘Mr. Big’, partly for his profession of choice and also his weight – which peaked at 500 pounds – Hostetler started small with one home, then began buying his neighbours properties and expanding his estate. The home was once available as an Airbnb rental at a price of $450 per night.

Urban Legend: For many, a beautiful naked woman is a welcome sight… but what if that woman was a ghost? Diana of the Dunes is a popular Indiana legend, based on reports of a nude lady running around the beach and disappearing into the lake, in Chesterton. The tale is based on a real-life woman, named Alice Mabel Gray, who died of poisoning and returns to the area where she was happiest in her life. Today, there is an annual Diana of the Dunes Festival and Pageant.

Museum: If you’ve ever dreamt of travelling in a recreational vehicle, you may be interested in checking out the RV/MH Hall of Fame and Museum, in Elkhart. Here, the history of RVs and motorhomes is on display, with popular exhibits including the oldest surviving vehicle of its type, from 1913, and an RV used by Paramount Pictures to bribe actress Mae West to appear in films.

RV

Firsts: Baseball is America’s national pastime and the first professional game was played in Indiana, in 1871, between the Fort Wayne Kekiongas and Cleveland Forest Cities. The state can also be credited with the creation of the song, Take Me Out to the Ball Game.

Company: Orville Redenbacher’s Gourmet Popping Corn was founded in Indiana in 1970. Redenbacher, who appeared as the company’s spokesperson up until his death in 1988, was described by the New York Times as: “the agricultural visionary who all but single-handedly revolutionized the American popcorn industry.”

Events: Most people think of Detroit, Michigan when the subject of the auto industry comes up. Indiana also has a long history in the manufacturing of vehicles, including inventing the first gas-powered car and companies, such as Studebaker setting up shop in the state. This brought countless jobs and a population boom along with it.

Miscellaneous: Hoosiers are big fans of Santa Claus. The city of Santa Claus was established in 1856, with a year-round Christmas theme, including most streets having Christmas-based names. The city receives thousand of letters each year, which are individually responded to. Also, the first ever theme park, Santa Claus Land, was built there, opening in 1946.

Hoosier Heritage

Hoosier Heritage

  • Muddle Rosemary
  • 1.5 oz Whiskey
  • 1 oz Apple Cider
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Dash of Maple Syrup
  • Garnish with a Rosemary Sprig

This beverage was first presented as part of a 2015 contest to find Indiana’s unofficial cocktail, ironically as a gimmick to help promote the Indiana State Museum’s exhibit on prohibition. I used my Wayne Gretzky Whiskey, as the first professional team the hockey icon ever played for was the Indianapolis Racers of the World Hockey Association.

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!

December 3 – Chocolate Peppermintini

Christmas Classics

Especially given it’s the winter months and the weather outside is frightful, it’s nice to snuggle up and watch a bevy of classic Christmas films. What should you include in your movie marathon? Ask and you shall receive. Here are my favourite Christmas flicks!

It’s a Wonderful Life

I absolutely adore this classic. And when you think about it, many of us might have never viewed the tale that has been copied and parodied so many times. It was never intended to be a “Christmas movie”, but that’s what it became. Jimmy Stewart is amazing throughout the movie (no surprise there, as the dude is actually an American hero) and his portrayal of George Bailey, who is too often in the wrong place at the wrong time, is one of the most treasured characters in cinema history.

Elf

The story of Buddy the Elf (Will Ferrell at his usual level of crazy!) searching out his father and integrating into the fast-paced world of New York City is a fun movie to get into the swing of things during the holidays. Buddy has to work hard to get the hardened folks of New York City, as well as the rest of the world to find their Christmas spirit, which powers Santa’s sleigh, of course. The film, which has material both kids and parents alike can enjoy, has even led to a Broadway musical.

Bad Santa

If you’ve been following this site for any period of time, you knew that a raunchier film was going to come up at some point… here it is! Billy Bob Thornton plays Willie T. Stokes, an alcoholic womanizer who roams from town to town as a mall Santa, staking out his place of occupation in order to rob the store before moving on to the next score. Things are different this time when he falls for a woman and a loner kid and decides to eventually change his ways.

A Christmas Carol/Scrooge

It’s hard to pick a version that is best to view, but my favourites include The Muppet version (no surprise there) and probably the edition with Alastair Sim playing the cranky curmudgeon. Like It’s a Wonderful Life, this is another Christmas tale that has been parodied constantly, as Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future, warning him that if he doesn’t change his ways, many will be affected and no one will care when his time on the earth is done.

Scrooge

Home Alone

While I’d caution folks who wish to view any of the movies past Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, the first two entries are cinematic gems. As a kid, you only wanted to see the last segments of the films, where plucky Kevin McCallister sends burglars Harry and Marv (The Wet Bandits) through his nightmarish house of horrors, but with age and wisdom, I’ve come to realize the movies are much more than that. They include a lot of wonderful Christmas imagery and are perfect holiday romps.

A Christmas Story

This movie is a family favourite around the Sip Advisor offices. The story sees young Ralphie embark on a quest to receive a Red Ryder BB Gun for Christmas. He runs into obstacles at every corner from his teacher giving him a poor grade on his essay on what he wants for Christmas to Santa Claus himself (a mall Santa that is) telling him he’ll shoot his eye out… and he nearly does in the end. TV network TBS has been known to broadcast the movie in a 24-hour cycle on Christmas day, so if you haven’t seen it yet, shame on you!

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

What a treasure this movie is. From Cousin Eddie’s antics to the misadventures of the hapless Clark Griswold, there are so many laughs in this film. Clark is looking to provide his family the perfect Christmas experience, much like the ones he enjoyed as a youngster. That all goes awry as the holiday becomes more of a nightmare with each incident, underscored by Clark’s uncertainty of whether his Christmas bonus will arrive and allow him to build a swimming pool for his clan.

shitter-was-full

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Some people crap on this flick, but I think it’s quite enjoyable. Thanks to the longer running time, not afforded to the cartoon special classic, we get a better understanding of why the Grinch hates Christmas and all the Who’s down in Whoville. Jim Carrey was the perfect choice to play the ‘mean one’ whose heart grew three times that day. This movie ushered in the chain of Dr. Suess stories to be adapted for feature films; some good, some bad… this is one of the good ones.

Die Hard & Die Hard 2: Die Harder

I’m a little disappointed that this series abandoned the Christmas time setting after the first two releases. This is for the action fan out there that wants only a sprinkle of the Christmas spirit in their movies. The first film begins with an office Christmas party that is invaded by terrorists while the sequel is set in an airport, as hero John McClane is waiting for his wife to arrive home for the holidays. Both movies are filled with shootouts, creative kills, and catchphrases galore!

Love, Actually

If you’re looking for a little more romance with your Christmas movie fare, give this film a try. It’s one of those “separate stories that all come together at the end” ensemble cast dealies, but it’s very good… even if Hugh Grant is a featured actor… a Prime Minister, no less. Set in Britain during the lead up to Christmas, the film sets out to prove that “Love, actually is all around us” and they hit the nail on the head through the interweaving narratives.

Drink #337: Chocolate Peppermintini

Chocolate Pepperminti Drink Recipe

  • Rim glass with Christmas Sprinkles
  • 1.5 oz Vodka (I used Smores)
  • 1 oz Peppermint Schnapps
  • 0.5 oz Crème de Cacao
  • 0.5 oz Chocolate Liqueur
  • Top with Milk

What are your favourite Christmas movie viewings? I’m always looking to add to my annual “To Watch” list, so send those ideas in!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3 Sips out of 5):
While not a bad drink, Mrs. Sip didn’t like how sweet it was. I enjoyed its booziness and flavours (I mean, who doesn’t like chocolate and mint together!), although using the Smores Vodka might have altered the taste and a plain Vodka may have been bettered suited for the recipe.