November 28 – The Talking Monkey

A Glimpse Inside

Last week, we began looking at one of the most underrated elements to visual storytelling: narration. It’s amazing how essential the narration of a movie or TV show can be, sometimes making or breaking a project. This week, we move to the big screen. Let’s get things rolling!

#5: Sin City

As if coming from the pages of a comic book, viewers are taken on a journey through the voice of each focal character, learning their desires, motives, issues, fears, and discoveries. Narration comes from a variety of sources, including Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, and Clive Owen, each captivating the audience with their character’s story. Film noir is no stranger to the narrator storytelling device, but Sin City brought the style back to the mainstream.

sincity

#4: A Clockwork Orange

The ultra-violent Alex (played by Malcolm McDowell) is a drug-fueled sociopath who won’t hesitate in committing all kinds of horrible acts on innocent victims. As a result, many of Alex’s thoughts are quite disturbing and the way they are delivered by McDowell, in Alex’s teenage Cockney slang, will really have your skin crawling. Despite all efforts to reform Alex, the teen eventually returns to his old habits and more suffering is in the cards.

#3: How the Grinch Stole Christmas

It’s one thing to narrate a movie and it’s a whole other ball of yarn when you’re delivering the words of Dr. Seuss! I wonder how many retakes were needed to perfectly deliver some of the Seussian language? Regardless, Hannibal Lecter himself, Anthony Hopkins, nailed it, retelling the tale of The Grinch, who can’t stand the Whos down in Whoville, especially as the Christmas holiday approaches. While critics were less enthusiastic about the film, the Sip Advisor has always enjoyed it.

the grinch decorating

#2: Fight Club

The haunting narrations of this film will leave viewers chilled to the bone, as the protagonist (played by Edward Norton) turns his insomnia into attending support groups and later, starting a terrorist organization, bred out of a fighting club. While we never get the main character’s name, we certainly get all the thoughts that make him tick and lead to his mental breakdown… the problem is, he realizes too late exactly what he’s started and can’t stop.

#1: A Christmas Story

In a style that would go on to be the inspiration for The Wonder Years, we learn about the trials and tribulations little Ralphie goes through as he asks for a “Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle” for Christmas. This includes convincing his teacher, parents, and even the big guy himself, Santa, that the gun isn’t as dangerous as many fear. As if that’s not enough, Ralphie has to deal with schoolyard bullies, swearing in front of his parents, and ruined Christmas dinner.

Super Saturday Shot Day: The Talking Monkey

  • 0.5 oz Chocolate Liqueur
  • 0.5 oz Banana Liqueur
  • 0.25 oz Coffee Liqueur
  • 0.25 oz Milk
  • Garnish with a Banana Slice

Of course, there’s always the king of the narration, Morgan Freeman, with credits in the role including Shawshank Redemption, War of the Worlds, March of the Penguins, and Island of Lemurs: Madagascar. If a Hall of Fame, dedicated to the art, were to ever be built, Freeman would be its inaugural inductee!

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South Africa – African Lullaby

His Excellency

Our voyage across the Atlantic Ocean ends with our arrival in South Africa. It’s pretty easy to pick out the country’s most notable citizen. Competing against the likes of wrestler Col. DeBeers (actually played by American Ed Wiskoski) and disgraced Olympian Oscar Pistorius, it’s a no-brainer that Nelson Mandela stands above the rest of the nation’s celebrities. Here are some facts about the man, the myth, the legend, that might not be very well known:

Mandela Quote

Mandela’s birth name “Rolihlahla” means troublemaker (or pulling the branch of a tree, but troublemaker is so much cooler, especially given the changes Mandela was responsible for). He was given the name Nelson by a teacher on his first day of school, as African children were given English names so colonial masters could pronounce them easier.

The man known as Madiba (a term of endearment and respect) was on the U.S. terror watch list until 2008 due to his militant fight against apartheid with members of the African National Congress. He was 89 years old when finally removed from the record.

Mandela was a boxing fan and found similarities in the sport to his struggle, according to his biography Long Walk to Freedom: “I did not like the violence of boxing. I was more interested in the science of it – how you move your body to protect yourself, how you use a plan to attack and retreat, and how you pace yourself through a fight.”

Outside the sports arena, Mandela was a big fan of the late 90’s pop group, the Spice Girls. He claimed upon meeting them in 1997, “These are my heroes.” Perhaps the leader should have parlayed some of his power into a ménage a cinq!

Original Spice Girls

Mandela opened the first black law firm in South Africa and provided free counsel to many blacks.

The prison cell Mandela occupied for 18 years on Robben Island is now a World Heritage Site. The cell measures 8-feet by 7-feet and contained a straw mat to sleep on. While incarcerated, Mandela was forced to work in a quarry and denied the use of sunglasses. The intense glare coming off the limestone permanently damaged his sight.

Towns, streets, squares, parks, buildings, schools, monuments, flowers (Madiba and Mandela’s Gold), a nuclear particle (Mandela particle), and even a woodpecker (australopicus nelsonmandelai) have been named after the former South African president.

Mandela was a noted ladies’ man in his youthful days, as documented in the book Young Mandela. It’s said he carried on numerous affairs at any given time proving just exactly how awesome he was.

Mandela Stud

Ladies man, indeed!

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Mandela’s second wife, was convicted of kidnapping, involving the abduction and murder of a 14-year-old suspected police informant. Mandela later divorced Madikizela after 38 years of marriage, including all of Mandela’s time while incarcerated. Other accusations made against Madikizela include ordering murders, violent interrogations, and supporting the use of “necklaces” (a death sentence of putting a burning tire around the head of an enemy).

Mandela’s film credits include Spike Lee’s Malcolm X, in which he plays a teacher reciting the activist’s famous speech. Mandela would not say the line “By any means necessary,” due to his pacifist beliefs, so the movie ends with footage of Malcolm X delivering the axiom.

Morgan Freeman played Mandela in the movie Invictus, about South Africa’s underdog victory at the 1995 Rugby World Cup, an event which has been credited for uniting the citizens of the country, regardless of colour or creed. The title of the movie is also the name of the William Ernest Henley poem Mandela drew strength from during his long imprisonment.

Other actors who have portrayed Mandela include: Idris Elba (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom), Danny Glover (Mandela), Terrence Howard (Winnie Mandela), and Dennis Haysbert (Goodbye Bafana).

South Africa: African Lullaby

African Lullaby Cocktail

  • 2 oz Amarula
  • Top with Milk
  • Splash of Coconut Milk/Rum
  • 2 Dashes of Nutmeg
  • Garnish with Coconut Shavings and Cinnamon

Lastly, it should be noted the Mandela deplored the vuvuzela horn… okay, I don’t know this for fact, but I have to assume that a dude as cool as Mandela would grow tired of the annoying horn eventually!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
I’ve always been curious about Amarula cream liqueur (amarula is an African fruit) and finally decided to grab a bottle for this Around the World project. It’s a very nice spirit on its own and made this cocktail unique and delicious. The recipe suggests to use Coconut Milk, but I went with Coconut Rum to change things up. After all, regular Milk is already part of the drink.

November 22 – Churchill

Tennessee Whiskey vs. Kentucky Bourbon

A battle of the ages has long been brewing (literally!) between the states of Tennessee and Kentucky. In one corner, you have the maker of the finest American whiskeys, while in the other, you have the home of bourbon creations. Let’s take a look at each state’s role in the world around us and see which place should get the nod in this never-ending conflict.

Famous Citizens

Tennessee: Davy Crockett, Morgan Freeman, Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, Dolly Parton, Al Gore, Miley Cyrus – can you imagine Davy Crockett, Morgan Freeman and Al Gore twerking!?

twerking

Kentucky: Abraham Lincoln, Daniel Boone, Muhammad Ali, George Clooney, Johnny Depp, The Judds, Colonel Sanders – that’s a murderer’s row of famous folks who call Kentucky home!

Sports

Tennessee: Tennessee Titans (NFL), Memphis Grizzlies (NBA), Nashville Predators – Memphis stole Vancouver’s basketball franchise… you better believe that’s a paddlin’.

Kentucky: Kentucky Derby – I love watching the horsies race and apparently Kentuckians do too, as they don’t have any professional sports franchises within the state.

Food

Tennessee: I love southern barbecue foods (your pulled pork, brisket, chicken) and all the sides those meats come with (I gotta stop writing on an empty stomach!). In particular, we have a chain in western Canada called Memphis Blues that provides all these delicacies and there’s one wonderfully located a block up the street from Mrs. Sip and my chateau!

Kentucky: KFC, yo! Gotta give some points to the Colonel here, even if the company has rebranded itself to drop the Kentucky moniker! The state is also known for a dish called Hot Brown, which involves (layered in order) toasted bread, turkey, bacon, tomatoes, and mornay sauce.

KFC S&M

Arts (TV, Movies, Music, etc.)

Tennessee: Music City, USA; Memphis Wrestling – I’m a fan of one and not so much of the other… which is which!?

Kentucky: Recognizable Stars – Ah, hello, look no further than they provided the world with George Clooney and Johnny Depp, as well as vampire hunter Abraham Lincoln!

Landmarks

Tennessee: Graceland, Dollywood, Country Music Hall of Fame, Opryland USA – Did you know that Dollywood even has a water park!? For some reason, among all these great landmarks, that’s what sticks out to me the most!

Kentucky: Churchill Downs, Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, KFC Yum! Center, Abraham Lincoln Birthplace, Creation Museum, Fort Knox – The Creation Museum could, in fact, be the nation’s finest comedy club!

Slogans

Tennessee: “America at its Best” – I like the confidence of that statement!

Tennessee Slogan

This seems like a pretty good slogan, too!

Kentucky: “It’s That Friendly”, “Unbridled Spirit” – Sorry, but I’m not a fan of either of these attempts.

Nickname

Tennessee: Volunteer State – I hate volunteering for things, so Tennessee is going to lose some points in this category.

Kentucky: Bluegrass State – Mmm, mmm, I love me some bluegrass music… not the actual type of grass, of course.

State Symbols (last chance to get in the good graces of the Sip Advisor)

Tennessee: Their state wild animal (seriously, why do they have these things) is the raccoon… total props for that pick!

Kentucky: Their state dance is clogging… I’m not entirely sure what this is (no need for research here), but my mind tells me it’s like crunking, but more dangerous!

Drink #326: Churchill

Churchill Drink Recipe

  • 1 oz Scotch Whiskey
  • 0.5 oz Sweet Vermouth
  • 0.5 oz Cointreau
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Garnish with a Lime Wheel

So, in the end, who was the big winner between the two states? Tennessee takes Landmarks, Slogan, and State Symbols, while Famous Citizens, Arts, and Nickname go to Kentucky. Sports and Food are a toss-up, so I’m afraid we’re right where we started at the beginning of this whole debacle!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
I’m not sure whether this cocktail is named for Winston Churchill or Churchill Downs, but I figured it was a fitting recipe either way. And it tastes pretty darn good to boot! It’s not too strong, which is always a risk when the recipe is so booze heavy and mixers are largely absent, but this one works, likely helped along by the Cointreau and Lime Juice, in particular.

March 11 – Death in the Afternoon

The Green Fairy

Legend has it that Death in the Afternoon was Ernest Hemingway’s preferred absinthe cocktail. So, I decided to give the recipe a try and sure enough, I was transported into a hazy world of absinthe-induced imagery. The infamous Green Fairy was my guide and like Dorothy Gale, I was no longer in Kansas.

It all started with the harsh ringing of an alarm. Was I in danger? My eyes slowly popped open and I realized for the first time that I was in bed… with Adam West (TV’s Batman) standing over me. He explained that the time had come for me to begin my hero life… that dark forces were gathering and that my help would soon be needed to save the world. My first instinct was to go back to bed, but West picked me up by the scruff of my neck (apparently I’m a puppy in this hallucination) and tossed me from the comfort of my blankies.

I could wake up to this, any day!

I could wake up to this, any day!

I followed him into a large boardroom where a buffet breakfast of all my favourites was being served. There was a make-your-own potato chip platter station, prime rib burgers on a nearby barbecue, and a full service bar. I ordered a Death in the Afternoon for some reason… as if I needed delusional Sip Advisor to go into a delirious state, thus enacting some form of inception.

In the boardroom were all my heroes from childhood: Cookie Monster, 1960’s Batman (Adam West had changed during the opening credits – yes, my fantasy had credits, all set to Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You’, naturally) and Robin, Vancouver Canucks legend Trevor Linden, Willy Wonka, Optimus Prime, the professor and Mary Ann, all here on Sip Advisor’s Isle.

Morgan Freeman narrated the entire meeting, where it was revealed that all the baddies in fictional history had pooled their resources in a last ditch attempt to take over the world. I was summoned to defend the planet Inebriatopia, as I had the most experience there.

Upon being teleported to the land, I was immediately attacked by Ben Stiller and his Globo-Gym thugs. As they hurled dodge balls at my precious face, I dodged, ducked, dipped, dived and dodged, but the onslaught kept coming. That is, until Dikembe Mutombo came to my rescue, smacking down every ball thrown our way.

Sure, Mutombo should have been ruled out, according to Rule 9(a) of the Dodgeball Handbook, but this was life or death and I was happy to have the giant on my side. When we were ready, Mutombo and I returned fire of all the balls, one by one eliminating Stiller and his goons. As we celebrated, Mutombo was hit in the face by a ball meant for me. He crumpled to the ground and I tearfully said goodbye to my new friend. The question remained: who had thrown the ball.

After an 18-month investigation headed up by Lt. Columbo, Perry Mason, Matlock and myself, we were informed that the good guys had won and our services were no longer needed. Before snapping out of my delirious state, Mutombo’s assassin was revealed to me by an informant. I bet you’re wondering who it was. Well, I’ll never tell. Or you could scroll down after today’s drink and find the answer…

Drink #70: Death in the Afternoon

Death in the Afternoon

  • 1 oz Absinthe
  • Top with Champagne
  • Garnish with a lemon wedge

The man who balled (sounds kind of dirty) my good friend Dikembe Mutombo was none other than (spoiler alert)… New World Order Hulk Hogan, complete with air guitar, leather weightlifting belt, and black spray paint. Damn you Hogan, damn you!

Hollywood Hogan

 

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3 Sips out of 5):
Ernest Hemingway’s favourite drink was a decent treat. It’s a pretty simple recipe and my favourite element of it was probably the Lemon Juice, as it added a sweetness to the bitter Absinthe and Champagne.