Texas – Texas Margarita

Each week, the Sip Advisor will alphabetically travel the United States, discovering the best each state has to offer in a variety of subjects. I’ve been forewarned, don’t mess with Texas and today we explore the Lone Star State. Let’s see if, in fact, everything is bigger in Texas:

Motto: “Friendship” – Short and sweet… so much for everything being bigger!

Food: Texas is responsible for a number of culinary creations, highlighted by items such as Hamburgers, Corn Dogs, Fajitas and Sopapillas. Lesser known dishes, such as King Ranch Casserole (chicken, cream of mushroom and chicken soups, cheese and tortilla chips), Texas Caviar (black-eyed peas, corn, avocado and mango) and Chicken Fried Bacon also originated in the state.

Drink: A favourite mixer of the Sip Advisor, Dr Pepper was invented in Waco in 1885 by pharmacist Charles Alderton. The drink gained national attention when it was exhibited at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. The recipe for the soda is kept top secret, split in half and stored in two safety deposit boxes across two Dallas banks. Waco is home to the Dr Pepper Museum, inside a former bottling plant.

Dr Pepper

Site to See: Space Center Houston is among the top tourist attractions in Texas. Visitors can learn about the history and future of the NASA space program, through replicas of a space shuttle and space station, among other exhibits. The adjacent Johnson Space Center and Mission Control can also be toured, making for quite a day of space exploration inside earth’s atmosphere.

Street: Sixth Street in Austin is a historic district of the capital city. Formerly named Pecan Street, the Pecan Street Festival occurs every spring and fall, highlighting local food, art and music. The route is affectionately referred to as Dirty Sixth, thanks to its many entertainment options, including music and film festivals, as well as biker rallies.

TV Show: Two shows created by Mike Judge are set in Texas, King of the Hill and Beavis and Butt-Head. I’m a fan of both shows, while Mrs. Sip can’t stand either. Of the two, I like King of the Hill better, thanks to its well-rounded cast of characters. King of the Hill aired for 13 seasons and 259 episodes, while Beavis and Butt-Head ran for eight seasons and 222 episodes.

Movie: Office Space (also from Mike Judge), starring Ron Livingston and Jennifer Aniston, is a fantastic movie and all the more enjoyable if you’ve ever worked in an office. The cult film sees programmer Peter Gibbons grow tired of his mundane job and life, pushing him into an embezzlement scheme against his employer. The movie made red staplers a must-have supply.

Office Space

Book/Author: The Lonesome Dove series by Larry McMurtry consists of four western novels about a group of Texas Rangers during the formative years of the Republic of Texas. The books have been adapted into five TV miniseries and two TV series. Also, children’s novel Old Yeller by Fred Gipson is set in the fictional town of Salt Licks. It was adapted into a live-action Disney film.

Fictional Character: While I’d like to give this category to Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory, I have to go with a character that will scare the hell out of most, Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise. Face hidden by a mask made of the stitched together skin of his victims and wielding a constantly-revving chainsaw, is there a more intimidating horror baddie?

Fictional City: Once again, we go to Mike Judge’s two cartoon comedies, King of the Hill and Beavis and Butt-Head, which are set in Arlen and Highland, respectively. Arlen is based on a combination of Dallas-Fort Worth towns, such as Garland, Arlington and Allen. Highland is thought to be located near the Texas-New Mexico border. Perhaps we’ll learn more in the upcoming series revival.

Actor/Actress: So many Hollywood A-listers are from Texas, making this a tough category to narrow down. These stars include Jamie Foxx, Woody Harrelson, Matthew McConaughey, Tommy Lee Jones, Owen Wilson, Renée Zellweger, Jennifer Garner, Jim Parsons, Patrick Swayze, and Steve Martin. Many of them have worked with one another over their careers.

Leatherface

Song: Deep in the Heart of Texas was written by June Hershey and Don Swander has become an anthem for the state. When it was originally released, five recordings by different artists appeared on the Billboard charts. It was also the title song of the 1942 movie of the same name. The tune’s most memorable version may be by Gene Autry (the Singing Cowboy), who was a Texan.

Band/Musician: The Queen Bey, Beyoncé, headlines a list of popular performers, including Willie Nelson, Buddy Holly, Janis Joplin, Meat Loaf, Roy Orbison, Kenny Rogers, and Barry White. Beyoncé began her career in the girl group Destiny’s Child, before going solo. Now married to rapper Jay-Z, the two comprise one of the music industry’s most powerful couples.

People: Eccentric businessman Howard Hughes was born in Humble. Hughes dabbled in many industries, including aviation, Hollywood films, engineering and Las Vegas hotels and casinos. He was also known for his obsessive-compulsive disorder, which led to him being reclusive in his later years. Hughes’ life was documented in the 2004 movie The Aviator, starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

Animal: Bevo the Texas Longhorn steer is the University of Texas at Austin live mascot. The team has had a steer as mascot since 1916 and is currently on the fifteenth version of Bevo. The steer’s head and horns has provided the school with a hand symbol and chant, known as Hook’em Horns. Bevo has been called “the toughest-looking animal mascot in sports”.

Beyonce

Invention: The temptation to select Silicone Breast Implants for this category is quite… titillating, but I will go with the Microchip, which has evolved to allow folks to have personal computers, smartphones and other devices. This was possible thanks to Texas Instruments electrical engineer Jack Kilby inventing the integrated circuit in 1958. In 2000, Kilby was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics.

Crime: Among a long list of candidates, the assassination of John F. Kennedy was one of those moments where people remember where they were when they heard the news. On November 22, 1963, Kennedy was shot in the head as his motorcade went through Dallas’ Dealey Plaza. His killer, Lee Harvey Oswald, was also murdered two days later by Jack Ruby. Conspiracy theories persist to this day on the subject.

Law: In Texas, it’s illegal to graffiti another person’s cow… but with your own, go nuts! Sticking with cattle, if you steal any, it’s a hangable offense.

Sports Team: Texas is well-represented across the state, in each of the Big 4 sports leagues. Dallas is home to the Cowboys (NFL), Mavericks (NBA), Stars (NHL) and Texas Rangers (MLB), while Houston has the Texans (NFL), Rockets (NBA) and Astros (MLB). There’s also the San Antonio Spurs (NBA) to round things out. Texas is football mad, so college and even high school programs are well attended.

Football

Athlete: Texas seems to be a hotbed for professional wrestlers, including international superstars The Undertaker, ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels, Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts, and Booker T, as well as horde of famous grappling families such as the Guerreros, Von Erichs, Rhodes’ and Funks. Texas-based World Class Championship Wrestling was a major promotion, peaking in the mid 1980’s.

Famous Home: Woodland, in Huntsville, was home to Sam Houston, a key figure in the Texas Revolution and first president of the Republic of Texas. The one-room log cabin can be found on the grounds of Sam Houston State University, with free tours available. The city of Houston (once the capital), the largest city in the state, is named after him.

Urban Legend: Given its proximity and history with Mexico, much of Latin culture is intertwined in Texas, including its legends. These include La Llorona (The Weeping Woman), El Muerto (Headless Horseman) and Chupacabra (Goat-Sucker). There’s also the mystery of what happened to Debbie from Debbie Does Dallas, but that’s a story for another day.

Museum: The Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum is located in Waco. The Texas Rangers, the oldest law enforcement agency in North America, has been involved in thwarting assassination attempts and pursuing notorious outlaws, such as Bonnie and Clyde. Honourary Texas Rangers include John Wayne, Will Rogers, Chuck Norris and George H.W. Bush.

Chuck Norris

Firsts: A number of things that can now be found around the world, originated in Texas. This includes the first drive-in restaurant Kirby’s Pig Stand, serving up sandwiches and sides starting in 1921; shopping center (a group of stores with shared parking lot) Highland Park Village, established in 1930; and domed stadium the Astrodome, opened in 1965.

Company: Entertainment is important to Texans, with companies such as Dave & Buster’s, Chuck E. Cheese and Six Flags all headquartered in the state. While not affiliated, Dave & Buster’s and Chuck E. Cheese share many similarities, while being geared toward adult and child audiences, respectively. Six Flags was named for the six national flags that have flown over Texas.

Events: The Texas Revolution (October 1835-April 1836) against Mexico, led to the infamous Battle of the Alamo, where legendary figures such as Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie perished in an outnumbered fight. Although a tactical loss, the event inspired many to take up arms for Texas independence. Today, the Alamo is a top tourist attraction in Texas and the country.

Miscellaneous: In 2005, the small town of Clark (population 201, as of the 2010 census) agreed to change its name to DISH, in honour of satellite TV provider Dish Network. Part of the deal saw every home receive 10 years of free basic TV service and a digital video recorder (DVR) from Dish Network. That’s an arrangement the Sip Advisor can get down with.

Texas Margarita

Texas Margarita

  • Rim glass with Salt
  • 2 oz Tequila
  • 1 oz Triple Sec
  • Top with Orange Juice
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Garnish with a Lime Wedge

The addition of Orange Juice is what turns a Margarita into a Texas Margarita. You could do this Margarita in a frozen blend, to salute the Frozen Margarita Machine being invented in Dallas in 1971 by Mariano Martinez. That early machine now sits in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

October 23 – Skittles

It’s Good to be Bad

There are some horrific villains out there in movie land; characters that keep fans thirsting for sequel after sequel. Here are some of the best in the business!

Freddy Krueger – A Nightmare on Elm Street

I have to admit that after I watched the original A Nightmare on Elm Street for the very first time as a little sipper, I didn’t want to go to sleep that night. The thought of a monster like Freddy Krueger being able to attack a person in their dreams was a novel idea. With his signature bladed claw, I’d love to see a showdown between Freddy and Wolverine from X-Men. Both are virtually invincible and rely on slashing weapons. It would be one hell of a bloody battle.

Freddy_Krueger

Leatherface – The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

With a mask made of human skin, a bloody butcher’s smock, and an ear-shattering chainsaw in his hand, Leatherface is certainly one of the most imposing baddies in film history. The Leatherface character and costume was adopted by professional wrestling, mostly in Japan. I have seen Leatherface the wrestler live and it’s quite the sight to see a big hulking guy chase audience members around with a revving chainsaw (no blade, of course).

Jigsaw – Saw

I enjoy playing games, but I don’t think I’d ever want to cozy up to Jigsaw with a Monopoly board or Yahtzee Dice. I’d probably end up in one of his horrific traps, being challenged to justify my wasted existence as the Sip Advisor (I don’t think it’s a wasted existence, but John Kramer – the man behind Jigsaw – would probably think so). Billy, the creepy doll Jigsaw uses to deliver messages to his victims is as deranged and disturbing as dolls come. He would not fit in with The Muppets.

Ghostface – Scream

Although Ghostface has been parodied in the Scary Movie franchise, it’s still a pretty haunting character when you go back and watch any of the Scream films. The franchise has been brilliant with its story of a town of teens being terrorized by a spook that kills silently, but taunts its victims with phone calls prior to their death. The design of the mask is based on the famous painting ‘The Scream’ by Edvard Munch and was a legit Halloween costume before the films were made.

Scream

Hannibal Lecter – Silence of the Lambs

More of a cerebral monster here, but Hannibal Lecter also has a vicious side. Anthony Hopkins is synonymous with the character, his portrayal winning the star a Best Actor Oscar in 1991, but did you know Lecter was played by someone before Hopkins? Brian Cox played Lecter (or Lektor as the character’s name was changed to for copyright reasons) in the 1986 film Manhunter. John Lithgow also auditioned for that role and given his work as a serial killer on Dexter, he would have been great here, as well.

Pennywise – It

I’m not much of a fan of clowns to begin with, but after watching the It TV mini-movie, I’ll never look at those folks the same again. Pennywise, in clown form, has to be one of the most disturbing villains Stephen King has ever dreamed up… even without the sharp teeth and claws. I have to say that the TV mini-movie is really good for the first half, but totally falls apart in the latter half. Watch with caution or wait for the rumoured re-adaptation to finally come to fruition.

Pennywise

Michael Myers – Halloween

Committed to an asylum as a youngster after murdering his older sister, Michael Myers escapes and wreaks havoc on the Halloween season, tormenting his victims and racking up kills. Myers emotionless face is a frightening image to behold and would certainly stimulate nightmares. Perhaps even more scary is the fact Myers has lived through so many sequels that he seems unstoppable. Happy endings be damned!

Jason Voorhees – Friday the 13th

Hockey can be violet enough, but when you put a mask on a killer seeking revenge and arm him with a machete, you’re certainly asking for trouble. Thanks to staff negligence, Jason Voorhees drowned as a boy at Camp Crystal Lake and returns to the site of his tragic end to mass murder camp counselors and others engaging in immoral behaviour. I won’t spoil the ending of the original movie, but Jason isn’t even the killer until the second film in the franchise.

Drink #296: Skittles

Skittles Drink Recipe

  • 1 oz Kinky Liqueur
  • 0.5 oz Vodka
  • 0.5 oz Blue Curacao
  • Top with half Orange Juice and half Lemonade
  • Garnish with Skittles

Who’s your favourite horror movie baddie? Have I grossly neglected a villain on this list? I guess they’ll be hunting me down now!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
I always have a desire to “taste the rainbow” and while this cocktail was good to start with and looked fantastic, its score was bumped up even higher when the Skittles garnishes melted a little bit in the drink and gave it an extra boost of candy flavour. It was also fun to eat the little treats as you drank your way through the recipe.

June 20 – Screwdriver

Tool Time

The screwdriver is one of the handiest tools known to man… and not just because of its alcoholic properties! Here are some other inventions that we just couldn’t live without:

Roomba

This little creation will travel across your home and vacuum your floors as it goes. It’s perfect for pet fur, dirt, and other small messes. Hell, the thing is probably (scratch that, IT IS) smarter than me. If can change directions after bumping into an object and detect falls, as well as dirty spots. On Parks and Recreation, Tom Haverford even attached an iPod dock to his Roomba, creating DJ Roomba, which throws down the sickest beats while working its way around your party.

Roomba

Batteries

For everything from TV controllers to sex toys, batteries are an essential part of everyday life. Without them, we’d have to get off our asses to change the channel. One of the WORST things that can EVER happen to you is when batteries die on you. The worst for me was the Wii video game controller, which always seemed to go out while I was in the middle of a big boss battle. Oh, first world problems!

Pen

The pen is mightier than the sword (although the Game of Thrones folks would beg to differ) and as a scribe myself, I’ve felt great power when I wield the pen of destiny and begin etching my thoughts of intelligence. All us great philosophers feel a sense of omnipotence (that’s omnipotence, NOT impotence!) when writing. If only anybody would trust us enough to listen.

Chainsaws

If Leatherface has taught us anything, it’s that a chainsaw means business. Relied upon for everything from efficiently taking down a tree to terrorizing teenage travelers, the chainsaw must be loved and feared all at the same time. When you hear that engine revving, it’s probably wiser to run for safety rather than sticking around, hoping it’s just a lumberjack in the forest.

girl chainsaw

Perhaps I ran away much too quickly!

Umbrella

What I love about the umbrella is its dual-function ability. Yes, it can keep you dry on a wet, rainy day, but it can also double as a weapon. For example, I’ve found that swinging it at cars that cut you off in crosswalks might not be in the best interest of calming a situation, but it sure brings a smile to your face.

Toilet

Can you imagine life if we still had to use primitive things like holes in the ground and pots and pans to do our business!? And what would you do when you indulge in one too many of the Sip Advisor’s wonderful recipes? Thank you Mr. Toilet!

Drink #171: Screwdriver

Screwdriver Cocktail

  • Rim glass with Orange Sugar
  • Muddled Oranges
  • 1.5 oz Vodka (I used Absolut Citron)
  • Top with Orange Juice
  • Garnish with Orange Slice

I’m just waiting for someone to chirp that I’m a valuable tool and while you would be 100% correct, let’s not start throwing stones in glass houses. Which tool have I missed? Let me know your favourite and we discuss at length why you’re wrong!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
A very simple cocktail that had to be done at some point during this 365-day cocktail project. It was delicious, as I spiced things up with Muddled Orange Wedges and Fruitopia Orange Groove (thanks McDoanlds!), instead of plain old OJ. The results were very respectable, making me think I might have a future in this business!