Greece – The Odyssey

Mythologically Speaking

There are some great characters found in the annuls of Greek mythology. I love shows like Hercules (the Disney cartoon, of course) and Clash of the Titans, which give you a glimpse of the legends, but in a way where you don’t feel you’re actually learning something! Let’s take a look at the most rockin’ gods and goddesses:

Zeus

The god of gods and a man you would not want to piss off. Some of his punishments are extreme, to put it lightly. To be fair, along with being the god of the sky, weather, thunder, and lightning, Zeus does also cover law, order, and justice. You probably also wouldn’t want to be a woman around Zeus, as the deity had a penchant for banging everything with a pair of legs… although I doubt missing limbs would stop the insatiable one.

Zeus on the Loose

Hercules

Played by acting icons such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lou Ferrigno, Ryan Gosling (Young Hercules) and to a much lesser extent, Kevin Sorbo, numerous performers have taken on the mythical character. Hell, this year alone, there will be two films released on the demi-god, starring The Rock and Kellan Lutz, respectively. An immortal strongman, as a youngster, Hercules even strangled a snake sent to kill him and for that, we thank him.

Hades

Lord of the underworld, Hades is also known as the god of regret and every time I don’t yell at someone who deserves a sound verbal thrashing, I am overcome with remorse. Thanks to the Disney version of Hercules, Hades will forever have James Wood’s voice attached to him in my head, telling me to do bad stuff and end up in the underworld, rather than living the sweet life in the heavens… it’s a tough voice to ignore!

Dionysus

Who can’t love this little scamp; the god of wine, parties and festivals, madness, chaos, drunkenness, drugs, and ecstasy. Personally, I think that sounds like a wicked weekend. Dionysus is so much cooler than Demeter, goddess of grain, agriculture, the harvest, growth, and nourishment (although grain is needed to make many alcohols and there’s nothing wrong with a good meal). Why build up your body when Dionysus is offering you all these fun ways to ruin it!

Dionysus AA Meeting

Ares

God of war, bloodshed, and violence, without ol’ Ares, we might not have all the awesome sports we enjoy today. Sure, the world would be a safer place, but someone would eventually ruin the peace, so chaos might as well reign. The one thing I can fault Ares with is that his sacred animals includes venomous snakes, which have been noted before as the Sip Advisor’s greatest fear. I am down with Ares moodiness and act first, ask questions later mentality.

Aphrodite

This firecracker is often depicted nude or en route to getting there. The goddess of love, beauty, desire, and pleasure, that sounds about as fun as Dionysus and perhaps a weekend under the spell of each of them would be the wildest thing you’d ever experienced. Aphrodite was said to have many lovers and if you were a god, you probably would as well. She can’t be faulted for wanting to get down with her bad self with anyone willing to tango with a goddess.

Aphrodite-Goddess

Hermes

As a writer, I have to give a shout out to Hermes, god of boundaries, travel, communication, trade, language, and writing. I find it odd that the “messenger of the gods” has a sacred animal like the tortoise. You’d think it would be something faster like a cheetah or something. That said, the tortoise did beat the hare, so perhaps it’s more about an accuracy issue. Hermes also guides souls into the afterlife, so he’s a pretty busy dude.

Poseidon

I’ve always been a water enthusiast and therefore I make yearly sacrifices of cannonballs and belly flops to Poseidon, god of sea, rivers, floods, and droughts. The broski of Zeus and Hades, Poseidon lords over all bodies of water. I wonder if this includes toilets, urinals, puddles, and all manner of liquid pooling devices. Can you imagine the all mighty Poseidon showing up in your bathroom stall and pronouncing: “I am king of the crapper and you must respect my authority!”

Greece: The Odyssey

Aug 28

  • Muddle Dill Sprig and Cucumber Slices
  • 1.5 oz Vodka
  • 0.25 oz Ouzo
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Dash of Simple Syrup
  • Garnish with a Dill Sprig and Cucumber Slice

While the examples above are my list of cool gods, the following deities are on the naughty list with reason attached: Hestia (goddess of chastity – no explanation needed), Artemis (goddess of childbirth and the plague – covering both ends of the spectrum), Apollo (god of manly beauty – men should be rugged and ugly), and Athena (goddess of wisdom – who needs it).

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
This was my first opportunity to put Dill in a cocktail and it made for a very interesting drink. Throw in the rogue Ouzo and you never really know what you’ll get. For any Cucumber lovers out there (of which, I am one), this is a martini you have to try.

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!

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.