Greece – Greek Buck

Games We Play

Greece is the birthplace of the Olympic Games, which most of us love every time they roll around and dominate our conscious for two and a half weeks. You don’t even have to be a sports fan to enjoy the Olympics (it helps, but it’s not needed) which has grown to be the landmark athletic event across the globe. And we have the Greeks to thank for all this physical goodness!

The Olympics, held in honour of the god Zeus, were named as such because they took place in Olympia, dating back thousands of years ago. It wasn’t until 1896 that the modern version of the Games took place, hosted by Athens (featuring 43 events, being contested by 280 athletes from 13 countries). The term Olympiad refers to the four year period between Olympics and became a unit of time measurement for Greeks.

Olympics Relevance

From humble beginnings (the first recorded Olympics only included one event: the stade (where we now get the word stadium from), a 192-meter foot race based on the size of Zeus’ foot), the world’s biggest sporting event now showcases countless sports and within them, a number of different disciplines. The ancient games were said to have been started by Hercules (aka Heracles), who ran a race that he decided should be repeated every four years. I wonder if that story will make it into any of the Rock’s new movies based on the character.

It wasn’t until many years and Olympics later that other events were added to the slate. The diaulos, a 400-meter race and the dolichos, either 1,500 meters or 5,000 meters. Later additions included the petathalon (five events comprised of a foot race, long jump, discus, javelin, and wrestling), boxing, chariot racing, and pankration, a no-holds-barred wrestling and boxing hybrid that sounds like a precursor to mixed martial arts.

The last event added to the ancient Olympics was the hoplitodromos, a 400-800-meter race run wearing full armor, including shields, helmets, and all the other suit pieces. Competitors were likely to have fallen repeatedly thanks to their own outfits, as well as the discarded pieces of other racers. I’d love to see something like this run today, for sheer entertainment purposes. It would be like Wacky Racers for world-class athletes.

Olympic Event

Events were originally contested by only freeborn Greek males. Not only were women not allowed to participate in the sports, but married women couldn’t even attend the Olympics. Competition winners received an olive branch instead of a gold medal. I wonder if they still wore it around their neck and received endorsement deals based on their performance. Perhaps Coroebus, winner of the first recorded Olympics ended up hawking used chariots or something.

Prior to and during the Olympic Games, truces were arranged country-wide to let athletes and viewers pass through cities on their way to Olympia unscathed. Capital punishment and acts of war were banned, although there are accounts of these rules being broken, often resulting in the aggressing group’s exclusion from the Games, as well as a hefty fine.

What has now become a nearly three week long cultural event began as five days, with three being dedicated to sport and the other two to celebrations and rituals. The ancient version of the closing ceremony included a feast of 100 oxens… something I’d like to see return to the modern Games. In the years that the Olympics weren’t being held, there were similar competitions known as the Pythian, Nemean, and Isthmian Games. The Olympics remained the preeminent sporting event.

olympics nude

Athletes competed nude as a tribute to the gods and much like ESPN’s Body Issue magazine series, so people could appreciate the male body. We get the word gymnasium from the Greek word gymnos, which means naked. Kind of makes you never want to do physical education ever again. Some participants chose to wear a kynodesme, which sounds like a really uncomfortable penis cap. Can you imagine the TV ratings if Olympians still had to compete in the buff!?

After Greece was seized by the Roman Empire, Emperor Nero once entered the chariot race and declared himself the winner, despite falling off his chariot during the running. Later, Emperor Theodosius ended the Games, banning all pagan festivals. The Olympics wouldn’t return for 1,500 years, revived by Baron Pierre de Coubertin of France, who also established the International Olympic Committee.

The first Olympic marathon in 1896 was fittingly won by Greece’s Spyridon Louis. It followed the 25-mile path run by a Greek soldier from the city of Marathon to Athens to inform the masses of the Greeks victory over the Persians. Nearly 30 years later, the marathon’s distance was permanently set at 26 miles and 385 yards. No amount of Ouzo could help me through that epic event, but it will nicely wrap up this article!

Greece: Greek Buck

Greek Buck Cocktail

  • 1.5 oz Brandy
  • Top with Ginger Ale
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Float Ouzo
  • Garnish with Lemon Wedge

One of my greatest pleasures was working for NBC during the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. I suppose I still owe the Greeks a debt of gratitude for that wonderful winter month!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
I never know how an Ouzo cocktail is going to turn out and this one was pretty damn good. Floating the Ouzo was a really nice touch as first of all, it looked good, like white frosting across the top of the cocktail. Next, getting a splash of Ouzo with each sip, followed by the Brandy, Ginger Ale, and Lemon Juice made each taste a new adventure!

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May 31 – False Start

Legendary Leagues

Most leagues fail within their first year of operation. If they survive long enough to hand out their inaugural championship, then they usually face other elements of strife, such as low attendance, trouble landing a TV broadcasting deal, and teams folding or relocating. The waters are rough, but if a leagues treads long enough, it just may endure. Here are the top 5 defunct sports leagues and their intriguing stories:

#5: X Football League

Because the NFL just wasn’t fun enough, along came the XFL from World Wrestling Entertainment mogul Vince McMahon. Ironically, while most believe the ‘X’ stood for eXtreme, this is not actually the case and the ‘X’ was never defined. In partnership with NBC, the league only lasted one season. With a few rule changes that were meant to spice up pro football, the eight-team league was dogged by the stigma attached to professional wrestling and what many thought was an inferior quality of play. Ratings were initially strong, but dropped in half from week one to week two and continued to decline over the course of the year. The XFL fizzled out following the season-ending Million Dollar Game and closed up shop on May 10, 2001. Both McMahon and NBC reportedly lost $35 million each in the joint venture.

XFL

#4: SlamBall

A sport with trampolines and full body contact… sounds like a recipe for success to the Sip Advisor and the one time in my life I was mildly interested in the sport of basketball. When TNN (now Spike TV) was making strides to change its image from a country music station to a network geared towards male viewers, one of their early experiments was SlamBall. Unfortunately, the league only ran seasons in 2002, 2003 and 2008, but did hold an international tournament in 2012, in China. Created by Mason Gordon, SlamBall grew from six to eight teams for the 2003 season, but a disagreement between Gordon and Warner Bros. ended with the league being dissolved. The 2008 season returned to a six-team format and the winning coach was Samuel L. Jackson… er, I mean Coach (Ken) Carter.

#3: Roller Hockey International

The early 90’s were a wonderful time and part of that amazing period was the advent and popularity of rollerblades. So, along comes the RHI, hoping to capitalize on that fad. Games were even broadcast on ESPN2 during the early years, showing the potential popularity the sport could have harnessed. The high-scoring (RHI averaged 16.7 goals per game, compared to the NHL’s seven at the time) league played from 1993-97 and also in 1999. Played 4-on-4, a number of NHL alum also strapped on the blades, including Hall of Famer Bryan Trottier. Unfortunately, a planned Super Nintendo video game never materialized, although that fact probably saved me hours in front of the TV and instead, I was outside playing roller hockey! RHI folded operations for good in 2001, despite some of the best team names ever seen in sport.

RHI SNES

Sadly, it never came to be!

#2: United States Football League

Looking to compete with the NFL and offer fans an alternative to fill their growing football needs, the USFL may not have succeeded, but many of the innovations they brought to the game, as well as markets they used for franchises, would eventually be adopted by the NFL juggernaut. Backed by Donald Trump and others with deep pockets, the league produced a number of stars who also enjoyed success in the NFL, as well as two future wrestling World Champions in Lex Luger and Ron Simmons. The crushing blow to the USFL came when they filed an antitrust lawsuit against the NFL, claiming it had established a monopoly. Despite expecting a substantial windfall, the USFL was awarded $1 (that’s not a typo). Heavily in debt, the league ceased operations. The ESPN’s 30-for-30 documentary Who Killed the USFL? examines the league’s brief existence.

#1: World Hockey Association

Launching in 1972 with 12 teams, the WHA made an immediate big splash with the signing of NHL star Bobby Hull to a 10-year, $2.7 million contract. In all, 67 players jumped ship from the NHL to the WHA for the inaugural season. Sadly, the league was plagued with difficulties, including financial struggles, arena issues, teams relocating, and franchises folding. Four WHA franchises still exist in today’s NHL: the Edmonton Oilers, Winnipeg Jets (moved to Phoenix), Quebec Nordiques (moved to Colorado), and Hartford Whalers (moved to Carolina). The league’s legacy also lives on via European stars coming to North America, higher salaries, and a lower draft age. For an in-depth look at the WHA’s seven tumultuous seasons, check out Ed Willes book, The Rebel League: The Short and Unruly Life of the World Hockey Association.

Super Saturday Shot Day: False Start

False Start Shot

  • 0.4 oz Cider
  • 0.4 oz Bourbon
  • 0.4 oz Brandy
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Garnish with an Apple Slice

Honourable mentions include the American Basketball Association, which was loosely spoofed in the Will Ferrell film Semi-Pro, and the Arena Football League, which cancelled their 2009 season, but has since been resurrected under new ownership. Which defunct sports league do you miss?

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
This shooter went down very easy and was fun thanks to the bubbles of the Cider. The Bourbon and Brandy flavours do play a role, but not too aggressively. That makes for a couple good Cider recipes for me in the last little while and I might be experiencing a change of heart as far as the beverage goes!

February 8 – Cryonic Shock

Science Fact

There are some crazy ideas out there in sci-fi land. Some are so far-fetched that only the imagination could ever dream them up. Regardless of their practical application, here are the top five items I wish actually existed:

#5: Teleporters

How great would it be to instantly zap yourself from work to home, avoiding a tiresome and frustrating commute? How about being able to travel around the world in a flash… and not have to be a mutant to do so? Hell, even Urkel had one of these bad boys! I think the best use of a teleporter would be to pop in and out of people’s room, Monsters Inc.-style and scare the bejesus out of unsuspecting folk. Paranormal Sip Activity, yo!

teleport machine

#4: Cryonics

Let me set this up for you with a scenario we’ve all had loom before us in our future. Your significant other wants you to attend some show you have absolutely no interest in. And hey, this door swings both ways. While I’ve been dragged to plays and musicals before, I’ve also done the dragging, taking Mrs. Sip to the odd wrestling show or football game. The solution? Freeze yourself right through to the day following the event you need to avoid and voila, you’re safe and sound!

#3: Space Vehicles

Ranging from hovercrafts to light speed travel pods, I can’t wait for the days when traffic not only doesn’t limit me, but can no longer get me killed. I’d like to think of myself as a good driver, but there are so many bad ones out there. How nice would it be to leave out all the guesswork and even the playing field. Or, better yet, be able to take to the skies and zoom past the horrible motorists… although air transportation would surely provide its own slate of concerns.

Jetsons-science

#2: Death Rays

I wouldn’t say that I’m a violent person, but put one of these babies in my hands and goodbye homeless population! What’s that? You want my hard earned money so you can waste it on booze… wait, I’m all for that noble cause and that is where the cash is going anyway… where was I, oh right, ZAP! Goodbye panhandler, my money is mine to waste on jelly beans and race horses.

#1: Robots

Providing they don’t rise up and try to take over the world, having robots at our beck and call to do every single daunting task we don’t want to do would be amazing. We’re getting there, what with our Roomba vacuums and assembly lines. Best of all, you could have your pick of famous robots from Rosie of The Jetson’s fame to Bender Rodriguez from Futurama. I’d probably settle on Short Circuit’s Johnny-5 thanks to his mix of heart, intelligence, humour, and love of Steve Guttenberg.

Super Saturday Shot Day: Cryonic Shock

Cryonic Shock Shooter

  • Rim glass with Sugar
  • 0.5 oz Blue Curacao
  • 0.5 oz Ouzo
  • 0.25 Brandy
  • 0.25 White Rum
  • Splash Sweet & Sour Mix

Which science fiction creations would you love to see in the real world? How would you best use them to your advantage? What do you hope never sees the light of day? I eagerly await your thought-provoking responses!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
I adapted the cocktail version of this recipe to turn it into a shooter. Despite the wide array of ingredients, I liked this shot. You never know how the licorice-flavoured spirits will behave when combined with other ingredients, but in this case, I feel the Ouzo enhanced the shot, rather than making it suffer as a result of its inclusion. The Sugar Rim, which I created with candy powder was also a nice sour bonus to go along with the sweet liquid.

September 3 – Unicorn

Animal Crackers

Recently, a big deal in social media was made over Scotland’s national animal (to be revealed very shortly). That got me thinking about the rest of the world and which creatures have had the honour of proudly and respectfully representing a country. No nation will be off limits, as I am definitely going to skewer my home country. Here are some of the best selections:

Unicorn – Scotland

For some reason, a mythological animal for Scotland actually makes sense given they’re a mythological country! I’m just messin’ with ya Scots. Don’t forget, we here in Canada still have strong ties to the U.K. despite our distance from the motherland. The unicorn was actually a symbol of the Scottish royal family. The more you know *rainbow swipe*!

unicorn

Beaver – Canada

Speaking of my part of the world, we chose an animal which just begs for other citizens to make double entendres about how much we love it! Bring on the jokes, we can take them! The beaver is a very industrious animal, building their dams for shelter. They are also good recyclers, using trees that nobody needs anymore. Stupid oxygen-enabling trees!

Lion – Belgium/Bulgaria/Luxembourg/Netherlands/U.K.

Are there even lions in most of these countries (that aren’t caged in a zoo)? Did they just choose a bad ass animal to look cool among the international community, not realizing how many other countries also claimed the feline? A place like Ethiopia or Kenya having the lion as their national animal makes sense…since, you know, lions actually live there.

King Cobra – India

This is an intimidating choice, warning us all that the Indian population can be subdued with hypnotic music, but at the same time are deadly predators that can strike in an instant and cause accelerated death. If that’s really the case though, why does it take me so long to get a live person when I call for customer service?

Cobra and girl

See, cobras can be cute and cuddly!

Gallic Rooster – France

It kind of makes sense that France would relate themselves to a bunch of cocks, am I right!? I’m sure most French people are actually quite nice, but Parisians take the cake on being dicks. We once had a cab driver who refused to acknowledge our request to go to the Eiffel Tower until we flipped it and said “Tour Eiffel”… Va te faire foutre!!

Persian Cat – Iran

While most would view the Iranians with some fear and hostility, how can you do that when they picked a freakin’ fluffy cat as one of their national animals! Ma and Pa Sip have a Persian-ish cat at home and she’s a darling…unless you try to move her off the bed. Not very friendly to her fellow felines either now that I come to think about…

Dolphin – Greece

Of course the Greeks would pick the most sexual of creatures when selecting their national animal. They did, after all, invent a great deal of the carnal moves and positions in existence, rivaling the Indians and their Karma Sutra. Apparently, dolphins also play a role in Greek mythology, as helpers of mankind. Aquaman must be jealous!

funny-dolphin

Dodo – Mauritius

Good job Mauritius (wherever the hell you are) for picking an animal that has long been extinct. Perhaps your fate will be much the same. Seems like you’re asking for a rough future with your choice in animal worship.

Bull – Spain

Nothing like killing your national animal for the entertainment of screaming, blood-thirsty fans! What’s that, you also show it respect by tying up its testicles before you taunt, tease, assault, and slaughter the beast? Hmmm, you Spanish have a funny way of showing affection. At least the bull sometimes gets revenge with a thunderous gore!

Bulldog – U.K.

Scotland’s pick of the unicorn doesn’t look so bad anymore. At least it’s a majestic creature. Meanwhile, England picked one of the foulest mutts in the dog world. With a face only an owner could love and enough drool to flood an apartment, the bulldog seems an unlikely choice for people who a nation of prim and proper tea drinkers.

Drink #246: Unicorn

Unicorn Drink

  • 1 oz Irish Crème
  • 0.5 oz Brandy
  • 0.5 oz Kahlua
  • 0.5 oz Vodka
  • Splash of Cointreau
  • Dash of Melon Liqueur
  • Top with Milk
  • Garnish with a Pink Marshmallow

What do you think of some of these national animals? Is there a country you wish I had targeted with my adept lampooning? I can take the heat, just as much as I can give it out! By the way, here’s a quiz on the subject of national animals (I hope you were taking notes)… enjoy!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
I really enjoyed the Melon Liqueur finish. It went really well with the rest of the recipe, highlighted by the Irish Crème. Garnishing the cocktail with a Pink Marshmallow seemed like the perfect addition for a Unicorn-themed drink.

August 28 – Big Dipper

Chippy Dippy Challenge

You little sippers should know quite well by now that I fancy myself to be a potato chip sommelier of sorts. With the Lays chip company presenting a new flavour competition, “Do Us a Flavour,” I assembled some of my rival chip connoisseurs (like gathering the heads of the five mafia families) to critique these new offerings suggested by the public. I tried submitting a flavour as well, but kept getting bounced out of the site, theorizing that the company and the world was not yet ready to handle Honey Garlic Ranch… sounds pretty awesome, doesn’t it! Here are our notes on the chosen flavours:

Lays Chip Flavours

Creamy Garlic Caesar

I’ve had BLT chips before, so the idea of lettuce flavour on chips isn’t too foreign. This chip seemed to be the winning choice among the four tastes and I’m happy to report the contributing customer comes from my hometown. I love the Caesar dressing flavour and the chip reminded us all of Sour Crème and Onion, but enhanced. Cousin Sip suggested they could be crushed and used as croutons on salad, but you’d want to apply just before eating so as not to let them get too soggy.

Maple Moose

Basically this flavour could be summed up as a true slice of Canadiana, but it really translates to meat and maple syrup. Ma Sip liked its smoky taste, but others found that same zest to be a little overwhelming. I can’t say that I’ve ever had moose meat, so I’m not sure how close they came to mimicking that essence. I guess that makes me less of a Canadian… oh well!

funny-chips

Grilled Cheese and Ketchup

This flavour intrigued me as despite my hatred for cheese, I don’t mind grilled cheese sandwiches, providing a white cheese like mozzarella is used. However, this recipe favours a little too much on the cheese side, with Cousin Sip suggesting that the ketchup ingredient be enhanced a little more or even the addition of some dill powder would take this entry to a whole ‘notha level.

Perogy Platter

Something was missing from the Perogy Platter variety. Perhaps some more onion or bacon flavouring would make the taste a little bolder. It was still an enjoyable chip, though, similar to a fully-loaded baked potato type. It also proved that deep fried, crunchy perogies are the way to go and not noodle-esque boiled potato cartridges. Long live the fryer!

Drink #240: Big Dipper

Big Dipper Cocktail

  • 1 oz Brandy
  • 1 oz Dark Rum (I used Captain Morgan)
  • Dash of Cointreau
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Top with Lemon-Lime Soda
  • Garnish with Lime Wedge

This will not be the last Chippy Dippy Challenge, as I plan on hosting this event annually… or every couple weeks (I love potato chips that much!). What do you think of the above flavours? Have any suggestions of brands/styles/flavours to try? I’m just a click away!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
This was the first time I mixed Apricot Brandy with Rum, usually pairing it with Gin and both work very well. I subbed out the originally suggested Club Soda and Sugar and replaced it with Lemon-Lime Soda to even up all the requirements. I tried to make the Lime Wedge garnish look like a chip being dipped into the cocktail.