Nebraska – The Nebraskan

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 journey to Nebraska, where the farming is as good as it gets. This had bred nicknames such as Cornhusker State and Beef State, which sounds like the makings of a good meal. Let’s start exploring:

Motto: “Equality before the law” – How’s that working out for you?

Food: The Reuben Sandwich was invented at the Blackstone Hotel in Omaha. Comprised of corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian/Thousand Island dressing, between slices of rye bread, the meal has become a favourite of the Sip Advisor. Some origin stories have the sandwich being created in New York, but I’ll give this one to Nebraska.

Drink: Bringing smiles to children everywhere for nearly 100 years, Kool-Aid was invented in Nebraska by Edwin Perkins in 1927. Originally available in six flavours (cherry, grape, lemon-lime, orange, raspberry, and strawberry), it has become the State Soft Drink. The Hastings Museum has a permanent exhibit called Kool-Aid: Discover the Dream.

Kool-Aid

Site to See: One of Nebraska’s most notable attractions is Carhenge, a duplication of England’s Stonehenge, but using American vehicles to replicate the infamous stones. Other car-based art installments are also viewable at the site. Created by Jim Reinders, the work is highlighted in the documentary, Carhenge: Genius or Junk?

Street: The Old Market Historic District, in Omaha, is notable for its brick-paved streets, which are still used by horse-drawn carriages. Restaurants, art galleries and shopping options make up the tenancy of the area. In 2016, a ruptured gas line caused an explosion in the Old Market, destroying a 100-year-old building and injuring numerous people.

TV Show: Most TV shows set in Nebraska haven’t faired well. One, Bless This Mess, did last two seasons, before being cancelled this past May. The series starred Dax Shepard and Lake Bell in a modern take on Green Acres, with a couple moving from New York to a farm in fictional Bucksnort, after inheriting the property and deciding to stay.

Movie: Films have done better when set in Nebraska, including one of the Sip Advisor’s all-time favourites. Caddyshack, the goofy golf classic, starring legends like Rodney Dangerfield, Ted Knight, Bill Murray, and Chevy Chase, has the Bushwood Country Club based in the state. While the sequel was a flop, the original has so many quotable lines and memorable scenes.

Caddyshack

Book/Author: Writer Nicholas Sparks was born in Omaha. His works, of the romantic drama genre, include The Notebook, A Walk to Remember, Message in a Bottle, and Dear John. A total of 11 of his books have been adapted into films, raking in hundreds of millions of dollars. Sparks has had 15 novels top the New York Times Best Sellers list.

Fictional Character: Penny Hofstadter, the across-the-hall hottie from The Big Bang Theory, is originally from Nebraska. Giving hope to nerds everywhere, she eventually dates and marries uber nerd Leonard. Played by Kaley Cuoco, Penny moves to California with dreams of becoming an actress. She may not have found the career she wanted, but she did find love.

Fictional City: Stephen King’s Children of the Corn (short story and film series) takes place in the town of Gatlin, a place you wouldn’t really want to find yourself, particularly if you’re an adult. Under the guidance of “He Who Walks Behind the Rows,” the children begin ritualistically sacrificing adults, hoping for a bountiful corn harvest.

Actor/Actress: Movie legends Marlon Brando and Henry Fonda were born in Omaha and Grand Island, respectively. Connecting the two, Brando’s mother gave Fonda acting lessons at the Omaha Community Playhouse. Other notable stars from the state include Fred Astaire, Nick Nolte and Hilary Swank.

Nicholas Sparks

Song: Bruce Springsteen has a song and album called Nebraska, but the song is about a spree killer sentenced to death, while the album is full of tracks about characters with not much to live for. Therefore, we’ll go with State Song, Beautiful Nebraska, for this category. Lyrics include, “We are so proud of this state where we live, There is no place that has so much to give.”

Band/Musician: The consensus seems to be that the best band from Nebraska is Bright Eyes, although I’ve never heard of the indie rock group. Formed in Omaha, 2004 was a big year for the band, touring with Bruce Springsteen and R.E.M., and filling the top two spots on the Billboard Hot 100 Single Sales chart, with songs Lua and Take It Easy (Love Nothing).

People: Nebraska was the birthplace for a future president and vice-president, as well as the founder of a religion. President Gerald Ford and VP Dick Cheney were born in Omaha and Lincoln, respectively, while Church of Scientology forefather L. Ron Hubbard hailed from Tilden.

Animal: While mammoth fossils have been found all across Nebraska, the largest and most famous was uncovered in Lincoln, in 1922. Nicknamed Archie, the skeleton can be seen at the University of Nebraska State Museum. Mammoths are the State Fossil of Nebraska and a bronze statue of Archie is located on the campus of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Hubbard

Invention: Two of Nebraska’s greatest creations allow users to cut corners. TV Dinners, first made commercially successful by Nebraskan company, Swanson, helps folks avoid having to cook full meals for themselves and others. Meanwhile, CliffsNotes, developed by Clifton Hillegass of the Nebraska Book Company, allows students to prepare for tests without completing the source material.

Crime: Charlie Starkweather was only 19 when he went on a murder spree, killing 10 people in Nebraska and Wyoming. He was accompanied by his 14-year-old girlfriend Caril Fugate. Starkweather was sentenced to death for his crimes and was executed by electric chair. Fugate served a 17-year sentence, despite claiming she was a hostage. The spree inspired movies such as Kalifornia and Natural Born Killers.

Law: In Omaha, sneezing in church is illegal, while across the state, if a child burps during a service, their parent(s) could be arrested. A rebellious teenager could cause a lot of trouble with a simple bodily function.

Sports Team: With no professional teams to support, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Cornhuskers are the top game in the state. In fact, home football games make the stadium the third largest population in Nebraska. Omaha has also been home to the College World Series for NCAA baseball since 1950.

TV Dinners

Athlete: Professional wrestler, Gorgeous George (real name George Wagner), is my pick here, not for his athletic abilities, but for his influence on sports and athletes to come after him. Wagner was born in Butte and revolutionized the wrestling industry as the first villainous character. George would be influential to many athletes and entertainers, Muhammad Ali, Bob Dylan and James Brown among them.

Famous Home: Scout’s Rest Ranch is the former home of William ‘Buffalo Bill’ Cody, who first promoted his Wild West Shows in Nebraska, beginning in 1883. These shows would later feature such celebrities as Annie Oakley and Calamity Jane. The ranch can be found at the Buffalo Bill State Historical Park in North Platte, which functions as a living history museum.

Urban Legend: Hatchet House (formerly Portal School) can be found in Papillion. The story goes that a teacher one day snapped and decapitated her entire class, leaving their heads on their desks. She then took their hearts to what is now known as Heartbeat Bridge, throwing them into the water below. Driving over the bridgeboards makes sounds that resemble beating hearts.

Museum: The National Museum of Roller Skating, in Lincoln, has a massive collection of skates, wheels and other items, dating back to 1819. Exhibits include Inline Skating, Artistic Skating, Roller Hockey, Speed Skating, and Roller Derby. Admission is free, but memberships with special perks are also available.

roller-skating

Firsts: Arbor Day was first celebrated in Nebraska City, on April 10, 1872. The brainchild of J. Sterling Morton, it’s estimated that one million trees were planted across Nebraska that day. This earned the state the nickname Tree Planter’s State for some time. The holiday was later spread to other parts of the world by Birdsey Northrop of the American Forestry Association.

Company: Berkshire Hathaway is headquartered in Omaha, founded by Nebraskan Warren Buffett, one of the wealthiest people in the world and among the most savvy investors. The conglomerate owns brands such as GEICO, Duracell, and Dairy Queen, while also investing heavily in Kraft Heinz, American Express, Coca-Cola, and Apple, among other businesses.

Events: Also headquartered in Omaha is the Union Pacific Railroad, which was founded in 1862. From this home base, the railroad connected the country through miles and miles of tracks, becoming the first transcontinental line in America. Today, grain, corn, sand, fertilizer, and coal are among the top items shipped into and out of the state.

Miscellaneous: Despite being a landlocked state, Nebraska has its own navy. The state has had some fun with the concept, appointing admirals such as Queen Elizabeth II, Bill Gates, Big Bird, Bill Murray, and many others to the position for promoting the “good life of the state of Nebraska.”

The Nebraskan

The Nebraskan

  • 1 oz Vodka
  • Top with Ginger Beer
  • Splash of Sweet Corn Milk
  • Dash of Simple Syrup
  • Pinch of Cayenne Pepper
  • Pinch of Salt
  • Pinch of Black Pepper

Given its association with the state, I wanted to go with a Kool-Aid-based cocktail, but the most notable one has already appeared on this site. So, I went with The Nebraskan, which is quite the interesting blend of ingredients, highlighted by corn, perfect for the Cornhusker State.

July 19 – Floater

All the Balls

After last week’s look at the best sports movies geared towards a family audience, it’s time to turn up the vulgarity and venture into the world of adult-oriented films… well, not those types of films, but the sports type for teens and adults. Here are the Top 5 grown up sports movies:

#5: Baseketball

From the creators of South Park (Trey Parker and Matt Stone), comes this farce about a world where sports superstars have become so overpaid and corporations dictate athletic competition. A universe where sportsmanship no longer exists and money is the root of all evil. Enter Cooper and Remer, who create a baseball-basketball-beer pong hybrid that eventually grows to become the next great sports phenomenon. Some of the team names from the movie are particularly clever, including the Dallas Felons, Miami Dealers, New Jersey Informants, and San Francisco Ferries (think about that one for a moment!).

baseketball

#4: DodgeBall

The underdog story of a ragtag group trying to save their gym (Average Joe’s), as they dodge, dip, dive, duck, and yes, dodge again versus the super-charged squad of Globo-Gym, which is looking to buy out the smaller competition. The entire cast is hilarious in this movie (particularly, my boy Stephen Root) and the surprise cameos from some judges of the competitions are great as well. A sequel to the movie is in the works and both Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller are expected to reprise their roles. Hopefully they remember that if you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball!

#3: Happy Gilmore

Adam Sandler kept his string of 90’s hit movies going with this entry. The film sees aspiring hockey star – despite his awful skillset – jump into the world of professional golf, when he’s discovered by a one-handed golf course pro. Things become more serious for Gilmore when his grandma’s house is to be taken away and the only way to get it back is Gilmore’s success on the PGA Tour. In my opinion, along with the success of Tiger Woods, the popularity of this film launched a whole new generation of golf players and fans. Gilmore’s brawl with The Price is Right host, Bob Barker, is one of the best cameo scenes in movie history.

Happy Gilmore

#2: Caddyshack

Times are changing at the Bushwood Country Club, as a new wave of members enter the fray, disrupting the once peaceful and pristine society. Bill Murray steals the show as groundskeeper Carl Spackler, particularly his improvised scene describing the Cinderella story of a hard luck golfer at Augusta, while teeing off on some of the club’s flowers. Others, such as Rodney Dangerfield and Ted Knight are perfect in their roles as combative members. It’s too bad that the sequel couldn’t live up to the original, but it’s still an okay romp. I especially enjoy it when the course is given miniature golf elements.

#1: Slap Shot

There are so many quotable lines in this classic. Paul Newman is awesome as the Charlestown Chief’s player-coach, Reggie Dunlop, and with other oddballs like the ultraviolent Hanson Brothers joining the squad, there’s plenty of characters to appreciate and enjoy. Many of the roles were based on real-life players. As a young kid growing up in hockey-mad Canada, this film was like a rite of passage, especially given its adult elements. I can’t say much for the two sequels that have come out in more recent years, but everyone out there, hockey fan or not, should give the original a viewing.

Super Saturday Shot Day: Floater

Floater Shot

  • 1 oz Vodka
  • Scoop of Peanut Butter
  • Dash of Chocolate Syrup

Who would have thought that two golf-themed films would crack this list? Even more surprising, not a single Will Ferrell sports movie made the Top 5… and I’m a huge Will Ferrell fan. Lastly, while they are made-for-TV documentaries, the Sip Advisor encourages everyone out there to check out ESPN’s 30-for-30 series and get your learn on!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (2.5 Sips out of 5):
All I have to say about this shot is, think about the pool scene in Caddyshack… disgusting, indeed! You’re also supposed to garnish with shot with Corn, but I just couldn’t make that graphic leap. Given the shooter is straight vodka, it’s strong, but the Peanut Butter and Chocolate Sauce tame it a little… just not enough.

Scotland – Hole-in-One

Teeing Off

Golf was invented in Scotland in the 15th century and soon after came the legendary Old Course at St. Andrews. The Sip Advisor won’t bore all you little sippers with the details of how the game came to be, likely because there is way too much debate over those facts and laziness is a hell of a drug. Instead, let’s take a look at some of the wilder facts about the game:

Golf was actually banned in Scotland by the Scottish Parliament on three separate occasions, as the government believed the game was causing citizens to neglect their military training, particularly learning archery. These bans occurred in 1457, 1471, and 1491.

Golf Sport

A number of celebrities and sports stars are known for their golf game and this has bred the popularity of Pro-Am tournaments. Michael Jordan, Bill Murray, Samuel L. Jackson, Jack Nicholson, and Wayne Gretzky all have a penchant for the links. On the female side of the ledger, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Cameron Diaz are known to get their swing on. There are also a number of high-profile folk who have invested in golf course ownership. This list includes Clint Eastwood, Justin Timberlake, Willie Nelson, and Celine Dion.

Great golf movies to check out include: Caddyshack (plus its sequel), Happy Gilmore, Tin Cup, and The Legend of Bagger Vance. Bill Murray’s famous ‘Cinderella Story’ scene from Caddyshack was completely improvised and is perhaps the best part of the entire movie.

Along with javelin (I can’t believe an astronaut actually packed a spear with him), golf is one of only two sports to be played on the moon. As part of the Apollo 14 space mission in 1971, astronaut Alan Shepard brought along a 6-iron and hit a one-handed shot (it was all he could manage given his bulky suit) which will eventually return to earth as an unstoppable meteor, causing mass chaos and human extinction.

Golf Club

Most are unclear as to where all the bird names (birdie, eagle, etc.) for golf shots came from, but the Sip Advisor is here to settle the matter, at least for birdies. In 1889, George Crump hit a bird with his first shot. On his second attempt, he hit the ball mere inches from the hole (a putt he easily made later, giving him a one-under par score for the hole). The Smith brothers, whom Crump was playing with called it “a bird of a shot” and that later became a birdie, as the term spread through their club and then across the country.

Sticking with the golfer’s glossary, a hole-in-one (known as an ace) is golf’s greatest shot, but it can be even better. If hit on a par four, the player has scored an albatross, while if the rare feat is achieved on a par five, it’s known as a condor. Only four condors have been recorded and verified in history.

One of the most unique golf courses in the world exists in Nunavit, Canada, where a nine-hole tournament is played each year for the Toonik Tyme Festival. Golfers battle freezing conditions, a course made up of sheets of ice and snow, and use fluorescent balls to get their round in. The highest golf course in the world is located in Morococha, Peru, where the Tactu Golf Club can be found 14,335 feet above sea level.

Monkey Golfing

Little guy probably plays better than the Sip Advisor!

If you want to play some of the best golf courses in the world, you better start saving now. Aside from the astonishing cost to become a member at some of these clubs – New Jersey’s Liberty National Golf Club (where Phil Mickelson and Eli Manning are members) has a membership price tag of $250,000, plus yearly dues of $25,000 – even many public courses will take a serious chunk out of your wallet. Shadow Creek Golf Course in Las Vegas is the most expensive at a whopping $500 per 18 holes.

There are some great pro golfer nicknames out there. Some of the best include: Wild Thing for John Daly, the beer-drinking, heavy-smoking, trailer-living, lovable star; Halimoney for Hal Sutton, who is thrice divorced; Aquaman for Woody Austin, who once fell into a lake following a shot at the 2007 President’s Cup; and Smiling Assassin for Shigeki Maruyama, a Japanese player, whose facial expression is locked on smile, regardless of his performance.

Golf Score

Before tees were invented, golfers would build mounds of sand to hit their shots off of. It’s amazing how the smallest piece of wood can make such a huge difference… like they say, it’s not the size of the tool, it’s how you use it!

One last little nugget of info to blow your mind: there are 336 dimples on a regulation golf ball. Can you imagine the insanity of the person who actually took the time to count these indentations? What if he lost count halfway through and had to start over again? That would drive someone to drink!

Scotland: Hole-in-One

Hole-In-One Cocktail

  • 1.5 oz Scotch
  • Top with Iced Tea and Lemonade
  • Garnish with a Lemon Wheel

When I was 13, I became wildly interested in golf. While that passion petered out when I realized I wasn’t any good at the game, I did make one hole-in-one during my brief career. Hole #15 at the Sunshine Woods Golf Club will always be in my memories thanks to that great day. Amazingly, one of the guys in the pair my friend and I were playing with that day, scored an ace earlier in our round on hole #6.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
I really liked this cocktail. I know Scotch isn’t traditionally meant to be mixed, but this was a good coming together of flavours. If you like your drinks strong, but easier to down than straight booze, then this is a recipe you should seriously consider.