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.

August 23 – Death Shot

Get the Tissues

There are some incredibly sad scenes in movies meant for children. Many of these incidents stick with kids, as they did with myself, and require some serious psychological therapy in adulthood. This is going to be a tough article to get through, so make sure you have a drink in one hand and a box of tissues in the other. Here are the Top 5 saddest scenes in kid’s movies:

#5: Rufio – Hook

The leader of the Lost Boys in Peter Pan’s absence, Rufio takes the longest time to accept Peter back into fold, even while other members of the group welcome their long lost front man. Rufio’s death is so shocking because of his young age and childhood exuberance. Not to mention, he and Peter had finally become friends-on again and Rufio is shot point blank by Captain Hook during a climactic battle scene featuring a number of humorous Lost Boys tactics. In a realm where death doesn’t seem to occur, Rufio’s tragic killing snaps viewers back into the real world. We all hoped Rufio would be bangaranging forever, but sadly, that wasn’t meant to be.

#4: Ellie Fredricksen – Up

I’m a huge Disney backer (mainly for the theme parks, although the movies are a’ight too), but man do they love killing off women. Perhaps they are closet misogynists or something. Mrs. Sip and I recently attended an orchestral performance of Pixar film songs and they played the entire opening to Up, complete with video… I don’t think there was a dry eye in the audience. The one thing that cushions the death in this movie is that Ellie lived her adventure and despite her sad passing, wasn’t cut down in her prime like some of the others on this list. It would have been nice, though, if the Fredricksen’s had been able to take that trip to Paradise Falls together.

#3: Optimus Prime – Transformers: The Movie

It’s hard to make a robot’s death matter, but they nailed it in this film. The saddest part about Optimus Prime’s passing is how his team of Autobots react, breaking down in grief from the crushing blow of their leader’s demise. Prime goes out with one of the greatest death bed speeches ever delivered, imploring his Autobots to continue fighting the good fight, while assuring Ultra Magnus that he can be the next leader of the crew. There are, in fact, a number of Transformer deaths in this movie and even more were supposed to occur, but were cut from the film. The losses largely took place to set up a new toy line for the franchise.

#2: Mufasa – Lion King

This is a rare case of Disney killing off a father instead of a mother. In Hamlet-esque style, Mufasa’s broski Scar engineers the death of the king and makes the young prince Simba believe he is to blame (and he kind of is). It’s heart wrenching to watch Simba nuzzle up to his dying dad before going on the run at Scar’s instruction. Simba, of course, grows into a fully-grown lion and with his father speaking to him from beyond the grave, returns to the Pridelands to battle his uncle for his rightful place on the throne… a game of thrones, if you will!

#1: Littlefoot’s Mom – Land Before Time

While the direct-to-video sequels took a much lighter tone, focusing on sing-a-long songs, the original film was gripping with its drama and tragedy. Littlefoot’s mom suffers mortal wounds at the hands and teeth of a ‘Sharptooth’ (aka the original King of the Jungle, the Tyrannosaurus Rex), while protecting her young son from harm. It’s so very sad seeing Littlefoot try to wake up his fallen mother, who can only muster some advice for her kin before dying. Littlefoot is now separated from his herd, as a result of the whole scene, and only the guidance of his mother’s voice can lead him back to safety with his clan.

Super Saturday Shot Day: Death Shot

Death Shot

  • 0.5 oz Tequila
  • 0.5 oz Sambuca
  • Garnish with a Raspberry

Honourable mentions to Old Yeller, Bambi’s mom, and Macaulay Culkin’s character in My Girl. Have I missed anything? What’s your pick for saddest scene in a children’s flick? After reliving all of these moments, it’s really no wonder that the Sip Advisor had anxiety issues regarding death as a little sipper. Perhaps a little more liquid therapy will be needed!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (2.5 Sips out of 5):
This shooter was exactly what I thought it would be: punishing. I can’t say it tasted bad, but it was strong and I wouldn’t recommend it for those faint of heart… just like these films. The crushed Raspberry was a nice touch for garnish, given the article’s theme and the potent libation. Despite the two clear liquors, I purposely edited the shot to look dark for the finishing touch on this post.

February 2 – Groundhog’s Shadow

My Nightmare

Nightmare

In the 1993 movie Groundhog Day, Bill Murray is forced to repeat the same day over and over again until he gets it right. Here’s a version of that same premise starring everybody’s favourite superhero, The Sip Advisor.

I’m awoken abruptly, voices coming through the thin walls of our resort hotel (I know, a resort hotel isn’t the best setting for a nightmare, but just wait, all will be explained). The clock reads 7:30am and I can never understand why people feel the need to have loud conversations that early in the morning. Seriously, when my wife and I wake up that early on the very rare occasion that we have to, it’s like we communicate in sign language. I motion that I’d like a little morning action, she shoots me down swiftly with a wave of her hand and I’m off to the bathroom to get ready for the day!

Next part of the nightmare: We get to the 24-hour buffet and every food item is out and the staff has no plans to replace them. There are rumours of a revolt, guests storming the kitchens to take whatever they can find. One basket of tortilla chips is brought out and the server is ambushed. I try to get my hands on at least one chip, but my efforts are fruitless. I walk away with multiple chips cuts and the salt stings my wounds. I suffer a black eye as well, as Mrs. Sip Advisor takes the opportunity to get a shot in, probably for all the attempts at morning fun over the years. She doesn’t understand that I would have shared the chip I was fighting for with her.

A news brief comes on the TV informing us that all kittens in the world have been eliminated, thanks to a new worldwide law passed by the pro-dog lobby (actually made up of famous dogs, including Lassie, the ghost of Old Yeller and Eddie from Frasier). I shed a tear, but the worst is yet to come. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking: there could be something worse than no more kitties!?!?

Kitty

So, no sleeping in, no food, and no kitties, but I’m still not panicking yet. I head over to the bar and, you guessed it, they are all out of liquor!!! There’s not a drop in the house. My pupils dilate, blood pressure rises and I go into fight or flight mode. I’m throwing bartenders into the nearby pool, smashing bottles over my  head and squirting lemon and lime juice into guest’s eyes. It’s complete chaos as I go on my rampage.

Finally, I am subdued, thanks to a clubbing blow to the back of the head. When I wake up, it’s 7:30am again and the neighbours are yelling… or are they just having a normal conversation. It’s so hard to tell when you can’t understand what they’re saying.

I am released from the Groundhog Day cycle when I learn to embrace a world with no liquor, early wake-ups, a lack of buffet food and a kitten-less existence. That’s the real nightmare!

Drink #33: Groundhog’s Shadow Shot (a Sip Advisor original creation)

Groundhog's Shadow Shooter

  • Pour a dollop of chocolate syrup at the bottom of the glass
  • Stick gummy bear (acting as gummy groundhog) in syrup
  • 1.5 oz Galliano to fill glass

I tried finding a Groundhog Day-themed drink that already existed, but when none satisfied me, I made my own. Sounds like a euphemism for most people’s sex lives. The chocolate syrup is the earth, the groundhog’s home and the Galliano is the sun greeting the little critter, encouraging him to rise to the surface. The gummy bear is the tiny fella sticking his nose above ground to meet the brand new day.

Did he see his shadow, causing him to retreat to his underground dwelling and making humans believe they will have to suffer through six more weeks of winter? Or did he stay above the surface, signaling an early spring to come. With this shot, we’ll never really find out, so that means eternal winter… kind of like Game of Thrones! Awesome, drinking with Tyrion Lannister!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (2.5 Sips out of 5):
Where to begin with breaking down this drink? I tried a couple different mixes and ways to get that damn gummy bear to look decent and kept on getting tripped up by various issues. The Galliano make-up of the shooter might have completely saved it.