August 29 – After Work Special

Lame Labour

Admittedly, the Sip Advisor isn’t content with his current career. Apparently, I’m not alone, as there is a lot of literature out there about why people hate their occupation and what they should do about it. With Labour Day rapidly approaching, here are some other folks that really hated their job:

#5: Walter White – Breaking Bad

Before moving to a life of crime and meth production, Walter was a high school chemistry teacher. And it’s not that there’s anything wrong with that, but he had previously been on the cutting edge of the science world, before selling his share in an idea that would eventually become quite profitable. Walt is so underpaid as a teacher that he has to take a side job as a carwash cashier and when he’s diagnosed with cancer, he has to enter into the seedy world of drug manufacturing, in order to make enough cash to keep up his treatment.

making meth

#4: Peter Gibbons – Office Space

Out of all the entries on this list, I probably identify most with Peter, who is frustrated with his place in life and the lack of pleasure his mundane, dead end career brings him. His dealings with his boss are excruciating and he has no other option but to take all the crap. Flanked by his colleagues Michael and Samir, the trio try to take a small cut from each transaction coming through the company, only to have their program give them a much larger slice than they intended. At least they got to destroy the printer that was always breaking down.

#3: Jim Halpert – The Office

In a similar fashion to Peter from Office Space, Jim is young and talented, but stuck in a job that pays the bills, while not providing the satisfaction he’s really searching for. If it wasn’t for his attraction to receptionist Pam Beasley, he probably would have bolted years earlier. I gotta say, though, working closely with your girlfriend/wife and getting to see her at all hours is something I would love to do. I know it’s not for everyone, but it’s cool with the Sip Advisor. In time, Jim figures things out and begins to pursue an interest in a start-up sports marketing company.

Jim Halpert Try

#2: Homer Simpson – The Simpsons

While Homer has tackled numerous jobs (boxer, sports mascot, snow plow driver, voice actor, etc.) during the show’s long run, the one he has to attend day in, day out, is one he does not enjoy. Homer was able to break free once from the Nuclear Power Plant, but with another baby on the way, was forced to return and grovel for his job back. A sign now sits in his sector, which states: “Don’t Forget: You’re Here Forever.” Homer changed the sign with photos to read “Do It For Her” in reference to daughter Maggie, the reason he had to return.

#1: Al Bundy – Married with Children

Nearly every episode of this iconic show featured woman’s shoe salesman, Al Bundy, returning from a day of work in which he didn’t get paid very well, but was verbally and sometimes physically abused by the clientele. “So a fat woman walks into the store today,” is usually how the tale began and ended with an epic struggle to fit a woman’s foot (or hoof as Al often called it) into a shoe that was too many sizes smaller than needed. So much for a guy who once had dreams of playing pro football… all until he was married with children!

Super Saturday Shot Day: After Work Special

  • 0.5 oz Amaretto
  • 0.5 oz Coconut Rum
  • Splash of Orange Juice
  • Splash of Pineapple Juice
  • Garnish with Coconut Shavings

For those out there that are working in what they love to do (or at least what they went to school for), I am absolutely jelly of you. Sadly, the Sip Advisor has to save his passions for outside of work… and I don’t even get paid for my efforts. One day, my rainbow will come though. I just have to keep my head held high and reach for the sky!

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Hungary – Breakfast at the Bar

Scourge of God

While Attila the Hun’s empire stretched across much of what is now Europe, he is greatly associated with the people of Hungary, thanks to the Hungarian Royal Court laying claim to him as their own ancestor. Let’s take a look at this brutal legend and sort the fact from the fiction:

Attila wasn’t a big dude (perhaps for his time he was), despite how he’s depicted in modern media as a hulking brute. His tale of the tape stated that Attila was only 5’6” and 145 lbs. When Rugila (king of the Huns) died, he left the Hunnic Empire to his nephews, Attila and Breda. Eventually, Attila tired of sharing the kingdom with his brother and had him killed. Attila ruled from 434 AD to 453 AD and was a terror to both the Eastern and Western Roman Empire.

Attila Inspired

Nobody knows exactly what Attila the Hun looked like, although he’s often depicted in his leather armor and with rough facial features and disheveled hair. Scholars debate over whether Attila would have had European features (like a Viking) or Asian characteristics (like a Mongolian). Although viewed and depicted as a cruel and ruthless leader, Attila was said to also possess great diplomatic skills.

Attila picked up a number of not-so-kind nicknames and credits during his lifetime and centuries later, as historians examined his reign of terror. He was known as the ‘Scourge of God,’ but that’s a title he actually gave himself. The History Channels ‘Ancients Behaving Badly’ named Attila ‘history’s first great terrorist’ and ranked him as history’s greatest psychopath. Count Dracula (in Bram Stoker’s Dracula) went so far to claim to be a descendant of the warrior, perhaps explaining his own bloodlust.

Despite his status as a legendary conqueror and barbarian, Attila died of a common nosebleed, choking on the blood. Researchers have thought that other factors contributed to his demise, such as alcoholism, which caused a rupture in his esophagus and death from internal bleeding. Attila’s death occurred on the same day as his marriage to the princess, Ildico, and therefore, poisoning has often been speculated as a cause of death.

Attila Death

Attila’s burial was shrouded in secrecy, with all those who witnessed the interment being executed. He may have been buried under part of the Tisza River (with the waters temporarily diverted) in a tomb of gold, silver, and iron. Although Attila was succeeded by his son, Ellac, his other children began fighting over Hun territory and the empire was divided, causing the Hun legacy to dissipate.

There have been TV mini-series and movies based off Attila and he has made appearances or been referenced in many other projects. In the Night at the Museum movies, he is portrayed as being simply misunderstood and in need of help. In an episode of Married with Children, he lines up on the devil’s football team to battle Al Bundy, with Bundy’s chance to return to earth up for grabs.

Attila has been used in many other forms of media, including as an occasional adversary to Hagar the Horrible in comics; as part of a planned, but never completed opera by Beethoven; as a hero and villain in various video games; and as a political euphemism, to describe an extreme conservative. McFarlane Toys even released an action figure of the iconic thug, as part of the series, ‘McFarlane’s Monsters III: 6 Faces of Madness.’

Attila Personal Trainer

On Spike TV’s ‘Deadliest Warrior,’ a show which takes historical figures and armies and matches them against each other to see who would win based on weaponry and battle tactics, Attila was matched up against Alexander the Great and defeated the legendary ruler. Attila’s weapons consisted of the Sword of Mars, the Lasso, the Hunnic Bow, and the Scythian Axe and his combat skills while riding horseback are thought to have largely secured the victory.

The oddest tribute came from Calypso musician Raymond Quevedo, who for whatever reason, chose to adopt the Attila the Hun moniker for his recording career. Instead of massacring tribes across Europe, Quevedo turned his artistry into entering the political realm in his home of Trinidad and Tobago. The real Attila the Hun and his exploits were even turned into a pinball machine, released in 1984… I love me some mass-murderer gaming action.

Hungary: Breakfast at the Bar

Breakfast at the Bar Martini

  • Muddle Marmalade
  • 1.25 oz Palinka (Apricot)
  • 0.75 oz Cointreau
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Garnish with a Lemon Slice and Orange Wedge

The Sip Advisor has yet to travel to Hungary, but in Budapest alone, there are 10 different streets named after Attila. This proves that all you need to do is be a total dick during your life and you’ll be remembered and honoured forever!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
This was a very good cocktail, offering my first chance to use Marmalade in a drink. It added a unique tangy orange flavour that was very much welcomed. I used a Lemon Slice, as well as an Orange Wedge to add some extra flavour, as well as presentation to the recipe.

May 24 – Crackhouse

There Goes the Neighbourhood

Last week we took a look at some of the best neighbourly relationships ever, which means this week, it’s time to do an about face and examine the worst neighbours you could ever find yourself living next door to. Prepare to see the neighbourhood go down the tubes:

#5: Homer Simpson & Ned Flanders – The Simpsons

Ned is the consummate neighbour (or neighbourino as he would prefer to put it) and has an almost infinite well of patience for Homer. Despite that, Homer can’t stand stupid sexy Flanders and always seems to be at odds with the mustachioed one. With the way the two treat each other, you’d figure Ned would be the one to be short and rude with Homer and not the other way around. For example, half of Ned’s possessions have found their way into the Simpson home, as Homer seems to borrow items with no return date and Homer is jealous of the Flanders superior lifestyle.

homersimpsonzombie

#4: Jerry Seinfeld & Cosmo Kramer – Seinfeld

These two may actually be friends, but Kramer’s penchant for using Jerry’s apartment as an offsite location for himself would grate on any person. Kramer’s constant raiding of the fridge, use of the telephone, and occupation of Jerry’s couch would drive me crazy. Worst of all, Kramer is friends with Jerry’s sworn enemy, Newman, and often brings him around to the apartment. Add in Kramer’s string of bizarre adventures, get-rich-quick schemes, and other outlandish behaviour and you’re in for a bumpy ride, whether you like it or not.

#3: Winslow Family & Steve Urkel – Family Matters

Sure, by the end of each episode whoever Steve had upset within the Winslow family had made peace with the uber nerd, but that kid brought some serious tough times to the household. Steve’s clumsiness caused an untold number of repairs to be necessary to the home and because his own parents were so absent in his life, Steve practically lived with the Winslow’s. The threat of a surprise visit from the suspender-clad dork would cause great tension for myself, even though I love the guy. I just don’t think I could take the destruction that follows Steve like a cursed shadow.

Urkel Damage

#2: Bundy Family & D’Arcy Family – Married with Children

While most of them are reasonably amiable with one another, Al and Marcy have been feuding for years and things get even more tense when Marcy’s women’s group clashes with Al’s NO MA’AM organization. Admittedly, it would be tough existing next door to the Bundy clan and their unique way of living. From the always scheming Bud, to dim-witted Kelly, to parents Al and Peg, who are always taking advantage of the more well-off D’Arcy’s, it would be exhausting to come home. Then again, you can’t feel too bad, given they don’t seem to even like each other, let alone their neighbours.

#1: John Gustafson, Jr. & Max Goldman – Grumpy Old Men

The way these two curmudgeons prank each other comes from years of being rivals. John and Max have grown up together and even competed over girls during their younger days. That set off a lifelong animosity between the two neighbours, one that flares up when an attractive woman moves into the town and both grumps end up fawning over the lady. In the end, the joke is all on John and Max, though, as their kids end up married to one another, meaning the two will forever be linked. Something could also be said for the two old men needing each other, whether they realize it or not.

Super Saturday Shot Day: Crackhouse

May 24

  • 1 oz Blackcurrant Liqueur
  • 0.5 oz Peach Schnapps
  • Splash of Cranberry Juice
  • Garnish with Cranberries

All that’s left is to decide which one of you has to put up the ‘For Sale’ sign. Either that, or continue to battle forever, passing the torch on to future generations. Sometimes you just have to stand your ground and hope for the best!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
I liked this shot. It could have been too sweet, but the Cranberry Juice neutralizes that. For some reason, I really love chewing on Cranberries when the shooter is done. Yeah, I’d probably be one of those neighbours you hate with vehement passion!

May 10 – Blushing Lady

Motherly Love

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day and every single little sipper out there in Sip Nation better be doing something special for their mom. I, personally know the way to Ma Sip’s heart is paved with wine… know your audience, am I right!? To show each and every one of you just how awesome your mom probably is, here are the top five worst mothers:

#5: Lois Wilkerson – Malcolm in the Middle

She’s driven one child to reform school and the three others that still live at home (with a fifth child eventually joining the fray) are wilder than a pack of hyenas. It’s a miracle that Malcolm emerged as a gifted student, although a couple of his other brothers are also intelligent, but use their smarts in other realms. It was rare to see Lois not shouting at the kids or disciplining them. An interesting tidbit about Malcolm in the Middle is that the writers worked very hard to conceal the family’s surname throughout the series, going so far as to have Francis drop his nametag at one point and for the audience to see it say “Nolastname.”

Lois Fate

#4: Cersei Lannister – Game of Thrones

Parents are often punished for the crimes of their children and anyone who can produce such an awful, sadomasochistic spawn, such as Joffrey Baratheon, has to have their own issues… like, I don’t know, being in an incestuous relationship with your brother. Oddly, her other son Tommen is the complete opposite to Joffrey, so perhaps he was just a bad apple (there’s one in every bunch). Cersei is certainly a wicked woman, not entirely surprising given her father’s actions and child rearing skills, which include demoralizing his brood every chance he gets and running their lives through power and intimidation.

#3: Peggy Bundy – Married with Children

Peggy’s greatest crime as a mother is that she just doesn’t care about her offspring and is too pre-occupied with spending all of the family’s money on treats for herself, rather than groceries, clothes, and the other needs of her husband and children. Her lack of a job throughout a vast majority of the show’s long run and preference for staying at home and watching Oprah while chowing down on bonbons shows just how lazy she is. Add in her disdain for cooking and cleaning and you have a mom who isn’t really paying her dues for the family.

Peg Bundy

#2: Malory Archer – Archer

Sterling Archer spent most of his life being raised by Woodhouse, his live-in caretaker, and being sent to boarding school, while his mother’s career as an international operative flourished. Malory even left Sterling stranded in a train station one Christmas Eve, as he was trying to make his way home from school for the holidays. In a case fit for the Maury Show, Malory is unsure of who Sterling’s father is and with a couple of options, made up a fictionalized dad, complete with backstory and naval honours. Despite her lack of affection for her son, Malory has made sure that Sterling has been dependent on her for most of his adult life.

#1: Lucille Bluth – Arrested Development

Lucille is really only loved by one of her children and even Buster has his moments where he can’t stand the nasty, alcoholic matriarch of the Bluth family. She is quick to criticize all of her kin (also including Gob, Lindsay, and Michael) and also has a habit of turning them against each other. Most of the messes the Bluth family wind up in is caused by Lucille, particularly her pilfering of the family company’s funds to support her lavish lifestyle. Played by Jessica Walters, who also provides the voice for Malory Archer, it would seem this lady has the market cornered on awful mother characters… bet she’s nice in real life, though.

Super Saturday Shot Day: Blushing Lady

Blushing Lady Shot

  • Rim glass with Sugar
  • 0.5 oz Vodka
  • 0.5 oz PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur
  • Splash of Grapefruit Juice
  • Garnish with a Strawberry Slice

Perhaps next year, we’ll take a look at the flip side of this coin, the warm and loving mothers (your Marge Simpson’s, Kitty Forman’s, etc. of the world) to further provide examples of how to be a great mom. Either that, or we’ll examine the reality TV “real life” moms out there that are cringe worthy with every act they commit. Happy Mother’s Day to all the lovely ladies out there that deserve the title!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
Yet another cocktail I’ve had to convert into a shot… clearly there are some noticeable voids in the mixology world that the Sip Advisor will have to fill! This shot was pretty good with a bitter aftertaste from the Grapefruit Juice. That’s what kind of takes the rating down a little.

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.

February 7 – Lynchburg Lemonade

TV Injustice

It’s amazing with all the trash that airs on TV nowadays that some spectacular shows were never given a fair run and cancelled before they had a chance to gain an audience. Tonight, one of Mr. and Mrs. Sip’s favourite shows returns, as Community comes back to the airwaves with an abbreviated, delayed and, in all likelihood, fourth and final season. It’s really too bad Community was never given a fair shake, as it has a loyal following, but just can’t seem to gain ground in the mainstream. Here are some other shows that were treated poorly and unjustifiably lynched.

Community Superheros

Boomtown

Running for only 24 amazing episodes, this drama was critically acclaimed, but the audience just didn’t pick it up. The series featured stories told through the point-of-view of the various characters (beat cops, detectives, paramedic, reporter, district attorney, etc.) and that’s where they went wrong. The viewing audience just couldn’t handle having to put together a story by themselves (why do you think jigsaw puzzles have seen a drastic drop in sales in recent times? Okay I don’t know that for a fact, but I assume so since we’re all become brain dead from watching too much Real Houswives of Minnesota or some such crap). Instead audiences rather be spoon-fed their CSI Miami, CSI Las Vegas, and CSI Neptune formula crime dramas. (Note: it’s too bad CSI doesn’t take place on Neptune, at least it would explain why they are always looking for clues in the dark)

Arrested Development

Its original run lasted only three seasons, with a rushed 13-episode final season, in order to wrap up as many storylines as the writers possibly could. Nearly seven years later, the series is returning to the screen with a run of 14 shows, to be followed by a feature-length movie. Arrested Development is the kind of show when each time you watch it, you notice new things and you have to really pay attention to catch all the jokes… that’s exactly why it didn’t work for most audience members who would rather watch a bunch of losers with no personality or apparently dating skills, chase an attractive, but equally uninteresting woman on reality shows like The Bachelorette. Mr. Sip was once a contestant, by the way… I’m still a little bitter after being kicked off on the first episode of my season!

Arrested Development

Firefly

I am not a big Sci-Fi fan, but even I have to admit that this show was wonderful and deserved much more than the 14 episodes it was originally allowed to air. The Fox network bungled this one pretty bad, placing the show on Friday nights and advertising it as a comedy. Sure, there’s a lot of humour in the show, but drama and action were also integral parts of the series. Fan demand (or in this case nerd demand… respect them, when they make rare appearances in public, they come out in large numbers… just look at any Comic-Con event!) was so high for the show – with many people discovering it long after it had been cancelled – that a feature film was made, 2005’s Serenity.

Titus

For those that have never watched this show, I urge you to search it out and enjoy every moment of it. Starring brilliant stand-up comedian Christopher Titus, the show takes a sharp look at the dysfunctional family, which as Titus proudly states has now become the majority in North America. What is so special about white picket fences, anyway? Titus was one of many gems Fox dropped in favour of its rotating door of failures. (See Arrested Development and Firefly above, as well as Family Guy, Married with Children, etc.) I guess they also need space in their schedule for more American Idol audition broadcasts.

Titus

Deadwood

The fact that what would turn out to be the conclusion of this series was so anti-climactic still bothers me to this day. Of course, the producers didn’t know they wouldn’t be renewed for a fourth season and thought they had time to finish the story. I hate it when networks don’t let a show close out its storylines. They might as well be flipping all of their viewers over for a probing. I get it, production costs on a period piece are astronomical, but shouldn’t you know that when you get into that business? I kind of wish Al Swearengen had the chance to let loose on one of his obscenity-laced tirades against the HBO team that killed this fine show. Awesomely, the F-word was used nearly 3,000 times during the shows run of 36 episodes.

Drink #38: Lynchburg Lemonade

Lynchburg Lemonade drink recipe

  • 1 oz Whiskey
  • 1 oz Triple Sec (I used Cointreau)
  • 1 oz Sweet & Sour Mix
  • Top with lemon-lime soda
  • Garnish with lemon wedge

I implore all my little sippers to enjoy the 13-episode offering of Community we will get this season. If you’ve never seen the show before, do whatever you can to get caught up. Illegally download it, steal the DVD’s from your local entertainment store… hell, hack into the NBC network if you have to …I mean er, go buy the DVD boxset as The Sip Advisor does not endorse or promote the illegal downloading or pirating of copyright material (PS: Do video stores even exist anymore?). Trust me though, (and I know you do), watch Community, it’s worth it!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
A great drink. I like sour and fizzy and this cocktail had that in spades. I don’t know if anyone playing at home noticed, but that’s a McDonald’s straw garnishing the drink with its yellow stripe. Thanks, Ronald!