December 13 – Black Death

Better Luck Next Year

Last week, we took a look at the people/groups who are riding high in 2014, enjoying success in their chosen field. This week, we examine the people who suffered (some deservedly and others not) through a tough year and are hoping for better fortune in 2015:

#5: Donald Sterling

One minute, you’re the owner of a NBA franchise (the Los Angeles Clippers) and the next, you’re handed a lifetime ban and being forced to sell the team because you put your foot in your mouth and alienated the league’s players, coaches, and fan base with racist remarks. Sterling and his estranged wife did walk away with $2 billion from the sale, which will help in paying off his $2.5 million fine, levied by the NBA. Sterling is no stranger to controversy, as he’s been sued twice under sexual harassment allegations and been the subject of discrimination lawsuits even before this latest scandal.

donald-sterling

#4: Comedy Community

With the deaths of comedic legends Robin Williams and Joan Rivers coming under a month apart, a lot of laughter was lost this year. While I can’t say that I was a fan of Rivers (I do respect her trailblazing career), I certainly was a Robin Williams supporter. From his stand-up to roles as Mork (Mork & Mindy), Peter Pan (Hook), Alan Parrish (Jumanji), and the voice of the Genie (Aladdin), he had such a lasting presence. The man could even do dramatic roles, as seen in Good Will Hunting, which he won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, and Dead Poets Society. Sadly, the longtime voice of Shaggy (from Scooby Doo), Casey Casem also passed away in 2014.

#3: Roger Goodell & NFL

In the wake of domestic violence and child abuse scandals, the NFL was under intense pressure in 2014 to change a culture that it has let exist for years, with countless player arrests occurring throughout the league. Many groups called for commissioner Roger Goddell to step down from his post after the mishandling of the Ray Rice incident – first suspending the running back for only two games for beating up his now wife, only to extend the suspension indefinitely when a video showing the incident surfaced – and his role in trying to cover up the whole story. That said, business wise, the NFL is thriving and raking in the cash.

NFL Ratings

#2: Ebola Victims

West Africa has been hit hard this year with the potentially deadly Ebola Virus Disease. It must be really bad, because I remember learning that illnesses are either viruses or diseases and it looks like Ebola is covering both sides of that ledger. To this point, thousands have been infected, while close to half of those have died from the sickness. The scariest thing about Ebola is that nobody quite knows how to treat it yet. A vaccine is in development, but has yet to be approved. Mrs. Sip wants to travel to South Africa next September, but we’ll just see about that (as if I have any say!)…

#1: Malaysia Airlines

Despite being voted as having one of the best in-flight services in the industry, Malaysia Airlines has experienced some serious turbulence in 2014, starting with the disappearance of Flight 370, over the Gulf of Thailand. The plane, en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, is assumed to have crashed into the Indian Ocean, killing all 239 people on board. Just months later, another Malaysia Airlines craft (Flight 17), was shot out of the air with a missile, crashing in the Ukraine and killing 298 passengers and crew. Following a drop in bookings, the airline was forced to cut 6,000 jobs, while other staff have chosen to leave the company.

Super Saturday Shot Day: Black Death

Black Death Shot

  • 1 oz Vodka
  • Splash of Soy Sauce
  • Garnish with a Kiwi Slice

There were others I considered (ie. Israel/Palestine), but in some cases, how is one year shittier than others when you’re constantly at war and such. Who do you think had a miserable 2014? Feel free to respond below.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (0.5 Sips out of 5):
In choosing this shooter, I scoured the internet for the worst recipes out there and this one, while some would immediately think is repulsive, I have an affinity for Soy Sauce, so wanted to give it a try. The only question left was which Vodka should I use, knowing full well that it would probably be wasted in this recipe. I went with my Absolut Texas (Serrano Chile and Cucumber) and that was the only good part of the shot (the lowest score I’ve ever handed out). The Soy Sauce was just way too salty and pushed me to the edge of madness. As for the Kiwi Slice as garnish, I figured why the hell not. No other reason than that!

Iceland – Katla

Viking Power

I’ve always been fascinated by the World’s Strongest Man competitions. Iceland, is home to two of the sport’s greatest icons, Jón Páll Sigmarsson and Magnús Ver Magnússon, who combined won the event eight times (four each), ranking Iceland at the top of the powerlifting game. Let’s take a look at these two hulking men and their contributions to strongman lore:

Jón Páll Sigmarsson

Born in Hafnarfjörður (just don’t ask the Sip Advisor to try and pronounce the word), Sigmarsson was the first to win the World’s Strongest Man event four times, doing so in a seven year span. His lowest finish in the tournament was third place in 1989. From humble beginnings, Sigmarsson’s legend grew as he participated in events around the world, including Scotland’s Highland Games.

Sigmarsson was a showman and loved to put on a performance. His charisma came through the TV screen with roars, shouting, and celebrations. During one event of the 1985 World’s Strongest Man, an audience member made the mistake of calling Sigmarrson an Eskimo, to which the powerlifter replied, “I am not an Eskimo, I am a Viking!” before snatching and seemingly with ease, lifting a 495kg cart.

Sigmarsson

Sadly, Sigmarsson passed away at the young age of 32, from a heart attack. He died doing what he loved, lifting, in his own gym, Jakaból (which means Giant’s Nest). While steroid use played a role in his death, there was also a heart defect that others in his family had suffered from. Sigmarsson was survived by a son, Sigmar, and I wonder if he ever followed in the footsteps of his dear ol’ dad?

A fascinating documentary was made on the life of Sigmarsson, titled Larger than Life. The Sip Advisor actually watched it en route to Iceland and it gave me a different perspective going into the country. Sigmarsson was enshrined in the World’s Strongest Man Hall of Fame in 2012, one of only three competitors to be selected thus far into the hallowed halls.

PIPES_grande

Magnús Ver Magnússon

Hailing from Egilsstaðir (again, I don’t even know where to begin with the pronunciation of this place name) and already owning one of the greatest villainous names in entertainment history, Ver Magnússon seemed like the perfect fit to take the torch from Sigmarsson and become the next great Icelandic strongman. Like Sigmarsson, Ver Magnússon travelled the world in his early years of lifting, winning competitions across the globe.

Equaling Sigmarsson’s achievement of four World Strongest Man titles (between 1991 and 1996), it should be noted that Ver Magnússon also ranked as the event’s runner-up in 1992 and 1993. That’s domination if I’ve ever seen it. The two Icelandic warriors are only surpassed by Mariusz Pudzianowski of Poland, who has five wins to his name.

magnusson

Ver Magnússon reached mass American audiences, not only with his World’s Strongest Man accolades, but with an appearance in a Coors Light commercial, as well as an appearance on The Daily Show, in 2008, where he showed off his still formidable strongman skills. There are rumours that Ver Magnússon has been trying to raise funds to film a movie about his life, titled ‘My Way.’

In the meantime, Ver Magnússon has gone on to own the Jakaból gym, replacing Sigmarsson, and training the next generation of Icelandic Vikings. One of his protégés is Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, nicknamed ‘Thor.’ Bjornsson recently appeared on Game of Thrones as the fearful Gregor Clegane, aka The Mountain. Ver Magnússon also judges strongman and powerlifting competitions internationally and remains a face of the sport.

Iceland: Katla

Katla Cocktail

  • 1 oz Brennivin
  • 0.5 oz Kahlua
  • Top with Club Soda
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Garnish with a Lemon Slice

I can’t even imagine lifting some of the items these two behemoths tossed over their shoulder or hurled through the air. Simarsson even set a Guinness World Records by lifting the largest whiskey bottle… that’s a feat the Sip Advisor can truly appreciate!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
Brennivin is also known as Black Death, which I don’t fully understand, given the spirit is clear and doesn’t taste bad at all. Icelanders might disagree with me on the taste experience, but I think I know my liquors. This cocktail is named after an active volcano in Iceland, but it will certainly not cause you to erupt and is actually quite nice.