Michigan – The Hummer

Each week, the Sip Advisor will alphabetically travel the United States, discovering the best each state has to offer in a variety of subjects. Although nicknamed the Wolverine State, there are no longer wolverines in Michigan. However, there’s plenty else to see and do in the land that looks like a mitted palm, so let’s get right to it:

Motto: “If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you” – What constitutes a “pleasant” peninsula?

Food: Coney Dogs – hot dogs topped with chili/meat sauce, yellow mustard, white onions and sometimes cheese – are a Michigan fixture. Two neighbouring Detroit restaurants are said to be the best places to try the meal. Opened by feuding brothers, Lafayette Coney Island and American Coney Island are at the center of a long debate over which offers the better dog.

Drink: Created in 1866, Vernors Ginger Ale was one of the first sodas ever produced in the U.S. and is the oldest surviving. It was accidentally made by pharmacist James Vernor, as he attempted to create a medicinal tonic. The concoction was stored in an oak barrel for four years, while Vernor fought in the Civil War. When he returned, he had stumbled upon the drink.

Coney Dog

Site to See: Mackinac Island is among Michigan’s top tourist destinations, with the entire island being listed as a National Historic Landmark. Points of interest include Fort Mackinac, Mission Church and the Round Island Lighthouse. The adjacent Mackinac Bridge (aka Mighty Mac) is world’s longest suspension bridge, connecting Upper and Lower Michigan.

Street: Woodward Avenue (aka M-1) is known as Detroit’s Main Street. Built along what was the Saginaw Trail, it was the first paved road in the U.S. and also where the first three-colour traffic light was installed. The route is used for the annual Woodward Dream Cruise classic car event and America’s Thanksgiving Parade, as well as for sports championship celebrations, with each pro team’s stadium/arena located on or near the highway.

TV Show: Home Improvement was set in Detroit, running for eight season and 204 episodes. Centered around local DIY TV host Tim Taylor and his family, the series may be best known for launching the careers of star Tim Allen, Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Pamela Anderson. I was also a fan of 8 Simple Rules, which sadly may be best remembered for John Ritter’s death.

Movie: The American Pie franchise of films (the main ones, not the direct-to-DVD spinoffs) were set in Michigan. The series has followed the group from high school graduation all the way to their 13th high school reunion. Along the way, there were lost virginities, breakups, weddings, and the birth of children. Perhaps later installments will take them right up to senior citizenship.

American Pie

Book/Author: While The Virgin Suicides by Michigander, Jeffrey Eugenides, is set in Grosse Point, I’ll go with some lighter fare in The Polar Express. This Christmas tale begins and ends in Grand Rapids (the hometown of writer and illustrator, Chris Van Allsburg). The book was adapted into the 2004 film of the same name, starring Tom Hanks as a whole host of characters.

Fictional Character: For his efforts in cleaning up the mean streets of Detroit, the nod here has to go to RoboCop. The cyborg police officer kicks ass and takes names, since they’re recorded in his computer system. I’ll admit, I’ve never watched any of the RoboCop films, but I’ve seen enough parodies of the character to get the gist of it.

Fictional City: Brookfield Heights was the setting of American Horror Story: Cult, the seventh season of the anthology horror series. The season’s storyline saw the suburb being terrorized by an upstart cult, which was taking advantage of the upheaval sparked by the 2016 presidential election of Donald Trump.

Actor/Actress: Two of the greatest mustaches of all-time belonged to Michigan-born actors, Burt Reynolds and Tom Selleck. Reynolds, born in Lansing, is best-known for starring in films such as Smokey and the Bandit and The Longest Yard. Selleck, born in Detroit, played the iconic character Thomas Magnum, for eight seasons on Magnum P.I. Both share associations with famous vehicles, thanks to their roles.

RoboCop

Song: Detroit Rock City by Kiss is an upbeat hard rock tune, which has become one of the band’s most notable tracks, despite originally performing poorly as a single, aside from in Detroit. The song title was later used for a 1999 teen comedy movie, which sees a group of four friends, who perform in a Kiss tribute band, try to see the band live in concert, during their prime.

Band/Musician: Michigan had the airwaves cornered in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, with Detroit artists such as Eminem and Kid Rock being two of the most popular performers of the era. Prior to that, legends of the industry, such as Motown musicians Diana Ross and Stevie Wonder, as well as rockers Bob Seger, Alice Cooper, Ted Nugent, and Iggy Pop, each enjoyed success. Lastly, the ‘Queen of Pop,’ Madonna, was born in Bay City.

People: Henry Ford was born in Greenfield Township and is synonymous with the auto industry, having revolutionized the production/assembly line for his Model T vehicles, so they could be completely built in 93 minutes. To keep his employees happy, Ford paid them double the minimum wage that was common at the time, resulting in more people being able to buy the vehicles he produced.

Animal: Despite there being no live wolverines in the state, the University of Michigan adopted the animal as the nickname for its sports teams. Therefore, at one point, its football program had live wolverines as mascots. Biff and Bennie first appeared for the dedication of Michigan Stadium, in 1927, and were with the team for at least a season. They were later relocated to the Detroit Zoo.

Henry Ford

Invention: One of Michigan’s greatest inventions is a part of countless folk’s daily morning routine. Flaked cereal was accidentally created by W.K. Kellogg and his brother, Dr. John Kellogg, in 1894. Kellogg’s still remains headquartered in Battle Creek, with their most recognizable brands being Frosted Flakes, Rice Krispies, Froot Loops, Corn Flakes and Raisin Bran.

Crime: There is so much intrigue surrounding the disappearance of former teamster union leader, Jimmy Hoffa, the case has remained in the public conscience for decades. Hoffa was last seen on July 30, 1975, in Bloomfield Township. It is generally accepted, Hoffa met his fate at the hands of the mafia, but theories on the whereabouts of his body and who exactly killed him range widely.

Law: It is illegal to buy or sell cars on Sundays. It’s not like people have anything better to do on Sunday, particularly with regards to watching the state’s pro football team (more on that below).

Sports Team: Detroit has one team apiece in each of the Big 4 sports leagues, including the Red Wings (NHL), Tigers (MLB), Pistons (NBA), and Lions (NFL). While the first three teams have won championships in this millennium, the Lions have been one of the most futile franchises in all of sports, having never appeared in a championship game during the 54 years of the NFL’s Super Bowl era, highlighted by a winless 0-16 campaign in 2008.

Jimmy Hoffa

Athlete: Serena Williams was born in Saginaw. She is regarded as one of the greatest tennis players of all-time, regardless of gender. Williams has enjoyed a dominant career, winning 23 singles grand slam events and 16 others in doubles competition. Williams also has four Olympic gold medals, three of which were won with her sister Venus as partner.

Famous Home: Hitsville U.S.A. (now the Motown Museum) was purchased by Motown record label founder Berry Gordy Jr., in 1959. He converted the home into the office and studio that would produce so many great songs. The estate was expanded to other neighbouring homes, before Gordy moved his operations to the Motown Mansion, in 1967.

Urban Legend: The Michigan Triangle, located in Lake Michigan, is said to be the site of many supernatural occurrences, beginning with the vanishing of the Le Griffon sailing ship, all the way back in 1679. Since then, other vessels have met mysterious fates, as well as the disappearance of Northwest Orient Airlines Flight 2501. The American Stonehenge can also be found in the area, but it is submerged by water.

Museum: The Henry Ford, in Dearborn, is a massive complex that houses so many pieces of Americana. Among them, are Thomas Edison’s lab, the Wright Brothers’ bicycle shop, Abraham Lincoln’s Ford Theatre chair, John F. Kennedy’s presidential limousine, the bus Rosa Parks made her stand on, and others. Founded by Henry Ford, it is the largest indoor-outdoor museum in the country.

Motown

Firsts: Michigan was the first state to abolish the death penalty, except for treason, when they did so in 1846. Two executions swayed the state to go this route, including a Detroit man hanged for killing his wife in a non-premeditated manner and a Windsor, Ontario man executed for the rape and murder of a woman, although the crime had been committed by someone else.

Company: The ‘Big Three’ of U.S. automobile manufactures – Ford Motor Company, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler – are each headquartered in the Detroit area. At one time, the trio comprised the three largest vehicle builders in the world. While the industry, as a whole, has seen its fair share of ups and downs, each company remains a force within the country.

Events: During World War II, Detroit was called the ‘Arsenal of Democracy’ by President Franklin Roosevelt, thanks to the city’s production efforts, using facilities typically deployed to manufacture vehicles. This caused an influx of 350,000 people to come to Michigan for the available work.

Miscellaneous: Detroit has its own currency, called Detroit Community Scrip or Detroit Cheers. First issued in 2009, the currency is interchangeable with U.S. dollars and are available in $3 denominations. There is $4,500 worth of the currency in circulation, with an image of The Spirit of Detroit statue looking over the Detroit skyline on the bills.

The Hummer

The Hummer

  • 1.5 oz Rum
  • 1.5 oz Kahlua
  • 2 Scoops of Vanilla Ice Cream
  • Garnish with a Maraschino Cherry

This is the quintessential Michigan cocktail, according to a number of sources. The drink was created by bartender, Jerome Adams, at the Bayview Yacht Club, in Detroit, in 1968. When asked the beverage’s name by a customer who was enjoying them, Adams said it had yet to be named. The customer said it makes you want to hum and the libation had a new moniker. Abroad, it is known as a Detroit Hummer, in the U.K., and as a Sir Jerome, in Germany.

May 17 – Carry Me Home

Won’t You Be My Neighbour?

Neighbours… sometimes you love them and sometimes you hate them. One thing is for sure: you rarely get to choose them. Over the next two weeks, we’ll be looking at some of the best and worst neighbour pairs, so be prepared for the good, the bad, and the ugly. Here are the Top 5 best neighbours to have:

#5: Ricardo Family & Mertz Family – I Love Lucy

Sure, Lucy and Ethel get into a lot of trouble together, which can wreak havoc on the collective group’s relationship, but this quartet has managed to remain friends through the thick and thin of some of the greatest sitcom misunderstandings. Ironically, off-screen, Vivian Vance and William Frawley, who played the Mertz’s did not like each other, with Vance even turning down a proposed spinoff and own series for the two. Instead, Vance chose to share a house with Lucille Ball in another series, The Lucy Show, becoming the first divorced character in American TV history. I guess Vance wanted to be even closer to her longtime neighbour.

Lucy and Ethel

#4: Monica Geller/Rachel Green & Joey Tribbiani/Chandler Bing – Friends

Chandler moved in to the apartment building in Greenwich Village, Manhattan thanks to Monica telling him about the available flat across the hall from her. By the end of the series, the two were married and starting a family together. Rachel and Joey (their eventual respective roommates) almost became a couple, as well, but it wasn’t meant to be. I didn’t watch a ton of Friends, but the best episodes I ever saw were when the two sets of roommates competed for apartments. The boys won, but swapped properties back in exchange for the girls kissing.

#3: Leonard Hofstadter & Penny – Big Bang Theory

The only thing better than a decent neighbour is one you can have sex with. When the gorgeous Penny moves in across the hall from geeky Leonard, his world is turned upside down. She is certainly out of his league, but this tale of nice guys never win has a happy ending, with Leonard and Penny finally becoming a couple. I still wonder why the two haven’t moved in together, to at the very least, save rent money, but perhaps Penny still needs to have a sanctuary where she can get away from Sheldon. Interestingly, I hadn’t noticed that Penny’s last name has never been divulged on the show until putting together this article. Soon enough, it may be Hofstadter.

Friends with Geeks

#2: Matthews Family & Mr. Feeny – Boy Meets World

Mr. Feeny is a wealth of knowledge (likely thanks to his experiences as the voice of a car) and while his tutelage isn’t always openly accepted by young Eric and Cory Matthews, he is there for all the members of the Matthews family when needed. It would be rough going through your entire education with your neighbour as either a teacher, principal, or dean, but that’s exactly the hand Cory, in particular, has been dealt. If it weren’t for Mr. Feeny being so awesome, it may have been tough sledding for the young Matthews men, although it’s not like they didn’t ever stir the pot and put Feeny through some hell.

#1: Tim Taylor & Wilson Wilson – Home Improvement

When you get into as many sticky situations as Tim Taylor, it’s a blessing to have a neighbour like Wilson Wilson around to help you sort through your dilemmas with offbeat allegories and thought-provoking messages. And Wilson wasn’t only help to Tim. He practically had a hand in raising each of the three Taylor children, as well as keeping Tim and Jill’s marriage running as smoothly as possible… given Tim’s penchant for putting his foot in his mouth or a tool through an appendage. You may never see Wilson’s full face or get a sense of his lifestyle, but one thing is for sure: the dude spends a lot of time in his backyard!

Super Saturday Shot Day: Carry Me Home

Carry Me Home Shot

  • 0.5 Butterscotch Schnapps
  • 0.5 oz Crème de Cacao
  • Dash of Kahlua
  • Splash of Milk
  • Garnish with Cocoa Powder

Like a good neighbour, State Farm is there… or at least these other pairings are. Next week, we delve into the worst neighbours of all-time. Oh, the stories I could tell from my own experiences… I’m still going through counseling thanks to some of them!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
This shot was pretty good with flavours of Butterscotch Schnapps and Crème de Cacao competing for your attention and the Kahlua coming in with the aftertaste. Make sure to share one of these with your favourite neighbour!

December 11 – The Woolly Mitten

Home for the Holidays

One of the best things to do at Christmas is watch cherished holiday episodes of your favourite TV shows, while getting warm and toasty by the fire. Here are some of my favourite shows and episodes for Christmas spirit.

Married… with Children

In ‘It’s a Bundy-ful Life’, the always down on his luck, Al Bundy, is shown what his family’s life would be like if he wasn’t around. In a twist on It’s a Wonderful Life, Al decides that his family is too happy and has such a better life without him that that’s reason enough to continue living. This hour-long episode featured late comedian Sam Kinison in the guardian angel role.

its-a-bundyful-life

South Park

The animated sensation has a bunch holiday episodes under its belt (even having its own DVD release of the collection) and in true South Park style, they use such absurdities as Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo to get their message across. The boys have even travelled to the bizarre world of Canada for Christmas, with Cartman wanting desperately to get home to his presents.

Home Improvement

Tim ‘the Tool Man’ Taylor is a house’s worst nightmare. With all of his renovation schemes – most of which end in disaster – if a home had feelings, they would fear for their existence with Mr. Taylor around. Christmas time is no different, as Tim pulls out all the stops in his attempt to decorate his home and compete with neighbours over who has the best set-up.

Beavis and Butt-head Do Christmas

While their delinquent brand of humour might not be for everyone (it certainly isn’t for Mrs. Sip), this Christmas episode is incredibly funny. In the first segment, Beavis is head honcho at Burger World and is visited by three ghosts to learn the true meaning of Christmas. After a break for some Christmas music videos, the second installment follows Butt-head being shown that everyone’s lives would be better without him existing.

beavis_and_butt_head_do_christmas

The Simpsons

It’s no surprise that The Simpsons would land a spot on this list. While they haven’t offered a Christmas episode in each of their 25 seasons, the ones they have done are quite memorable. In the first Simpson’s Christmas airing (the first full-length episode actually!), the family found its dog, Santa’s Little Helper, a turned away ex-racing mutt. The family has also battled commercialism during the holidays with a war on the Funzo toy release.

Community

Each year, the Community folks have provided an interesting Christmas episode, similar to their efforts at Halloween. In the show’s second season, the holiday episode featured the cast turned into stop-motion animation, similar to the Rankin/Bass specials, as Abeb searches for the meaning of Christmas. I don’t think I’d do very well in a stop-motion animation world!

The Office

The annual office Christmas party provides ample opportunity for laughs. I only thank the heavens above that my company doesn’t really do the Christmas thing. Do you think I want to be around my colleagues any longer than I actually have to be? Anyway, the antics of this rag tag bunch always seem to ramp up around the holidays and each Christmas party has its own issues to be dealt with.

Drink #345: The Woolly Mitten

The Woolly Mitten Drink Recipe

  • 1.5 oz Southern Comfort
  • 1.5 oz Bailey’s Irish Crème
  • 1 oz Peppermint Schnapps
  • Top with Hot Chocolate
  • Garnish with Whipped Cream

There are far too many Christmas episodes out there in TV Land to get to them all, but if you have any specific suggestions for the Sip Advisor, I’m all ears!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
As I’ve written before, I’m not a huge fan of warm drinks, but I do make the occasional exception for Hot Chocolate. Where this drink was good is that all the liquors tasted good together and amongst the Hot Water and Cocoa Powder. Whip Cream is always fun to use and the Crushed Candy Canes sprinkled on top was one of my better ideas.

October 18 – Spider’s Bite

TV Haunts

Most TV shows will take advantage of the Halloween season and put out an episode involving a party or trick or treating and while many of them are good, great even, some series really know how to salute the event. Here are the shows that took the Halloween formula and turned it up a notch, leaving their own mark on the holiday:

The Simpsons

You really can’t go wrong with The Simpsons ‘Treehouse of Horror’ Halloween specials. It’s hard for me to pick a favourite segment, but I’d probably settle on “The Shinning” lampoon of “The Shining”. I also love the story of Homer selling his soul for a donut and Ned Flanders being the devil. Mrs. Sip and I went back last year to watch every single episode, but only managed to get through 15 of the 23 shows (now 24)… on the plus side, that leaves us with nine airings to go through this year, leading up to the 31st!

Treehouse of Horror

Roseanne

Roseanne featured a Halloween episode every year from 1989 to 1995. The Connors were a wild bunch that loved Halloween perhaps more than any other time of the year. The whole family got into the spirit, with decorations around the house and wildly imaginative costumes. The best episode may be 1989’s “BOO”, which featured the family hosting a haunted house in their home and Dan and Roseanne taking turns trying to scare the crap out of one another.

Community

Every season of Community’s existence has featured a Halloween-themed episode and hopefully that continues in season five. The show has celebrated Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), examined what would happen if a zombie apocalypse took over the school, tried to figure out which member of the study group is a potential homicidal maniac, and ventured through a seemingly haunted house to rescue their friend. What could be next for the gang?

Community- Season 4

Home Improvement

With all of Tim ‘The Tool Man’ Taylor’s hapless home renovations and gadgets, you knew each time Halloween rolled around that there would be mayhem and macabre in the household. Tim is also big into Halloween pranks, something that his family has also gotten into the spirit of as they try to get back at their father/husband. Watch a few of these and you’ll be interspersing your laughing with the odd grunt or two!

The Office

The Office was always good for viewing because it gave you touches of what you experience in your own daily working life. That includes the yearly ramp up to Halloween at, well, the office. The costumes worn by the characters have been full of gags, like Michael’s two-headed monster, all the women dressed as cats, and Jim’s lack of enthusiasm for choosing a getup, his outfits including three black dots (Three-Hole Punch Jim), wearing a “Dave” nametag, and writing “BOOK” on his face (Bookface).

Drink #291: Spider’s Bite

Spider's Bite Drink Recipe

  • 1 oz PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur
  • 0.5 oz Cranberry Liqueur
  • 0.5 oz Vodka
  • 0.5 oz Triple Sec
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Garnish with Black Licorice

Have I missed your favourite show? Give me hell and let me know what to watch this or next Halloween season!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
This cocktail was pretty tasty. The only downside was having so much Black Licorice leftover, but I was able to pawn them off on Pa Sip. All the ingredients combined to make a sour, flavourful martini… a much better experience than getting bit by a spider!