May 16 – Astro Pop

Diversity Dominance

This coming Thursday (May 21) marks World Day for Cultural Diversity and I figured what better occasion to look at some of the most diverse groups ever assembled. I decided not to include any superhero collections, as they are naturally made up of very diverse individuals, from all walks of life. On with the list:

#5: Ghostwriter

This mystery solving team was made up of kids from various walks of life and even a ghost. Together, they used their puzzle solving skills to put the kibosh on evildoers… until funding for the public broadcast series ran dry. The origin story for Ghostwriter, of being a murdered Civil War slave, will make you think differently about your childhood. It also blows my mind that Samuel L. Jackson was once a character on this children’s show, given his propensity for dropping copious amounts of F-bombs in his films.

samuel-l-jackson

#4: Recess

With the Recess crew, you have the everyman leader (T.J.), star athlete (Vince), science nerd (Gretchen), tough as nails tomboy (Spinelli), gentle giant (Mikey), and army brat (Gus). With such a multi-talented group, their success and survival through games of All the Balls and issues with the playground’s elite ruling class, is completely understandable. My crew during elementary school was nothing like this, consisting of a few good-for-nothing youngsters trying to figure the world out.

#3: Guardians of the Galaxy

Let’s see, we had one genetically-modified raccoon, a basically mute tree, a warrior beast, an alien assassin… and some white guy with an awesome mixed tape! Although their coming together was pretty rocky – most of them wanted to harm, steal from, or kill one of the others – they eventually gelled into a squad capable of saving the universe. Who knows where their next adventure will take them, but it will surely showcase the group’s diverse skillset, to a wonderful soundtrack.

Samsung Guardians Galaxy

#2: Power Rangers

All the colours of the rainbow – physically and racially – make up this team of world defenders. With the original line-up, you had teens decked out in red, blue, black, yellow, and pink suits (with green soon to come). The squad was made up of a jock, a nerd, a party guy, an environmentalist, and a cheerleader. Racially, you had a few Caucasians, an African-American, and an Asian. Put them all together, like when their Zords combined to make the powerful Megazord and you have one formidable team.

#1: Captain Planet

The Planeteers literally came for across the globe, united by their passion for eliminating pollution, quelling natural disasters, and capturing eco-criminals.The team was made up of Gi (from Asia), Kwame (from Africa), Linka (from Europe), Ma-Ti (from South America), and Wheeler (from North America). The rogues gallery for this series was just as diverse (including some awesome names), with villains such as Hoggish Greedly, Verminous Skumm, Duke Nukem, Looten Plunder, and Sly Sludge.

Super Saturday Shot Day: Astro Pop

  • 0.25 oz Midori
  • 0.25 oz Blue Curacao
  • 0.25 oz Goldschlager
  • 0.25 oz Cinnamon Schnapps
  • 0.25 oz Rumple Minze
  • 0.25 oz Jagermeister

Some honourable mentions include the crews of Star Trek, Undergrads, Big Hero 6, Community, Saved by the Bell, and The Breakfast Club. Let’s keep coming together as people and being good to one another… saving the universe, one day at a time!

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Israel – Cabernet Cobbler

People & Products

It’s kind of crazy how many people and products most of us had no clue originate from Israel. From starlets and rockers to computer programs and board games, Israeli influences are more common that you would think. Let’s take a look at some of those that are changing the world from the Holy Land:

Natalie Portman

The beautiful actress who has stolen my heart time and time again was actually born in Israel as Natalie Hershlag and moved to the U.S. in 1984, at the age of three. After wowing audiences as a 13-year-old in the 1994 Film, The Professional, Portman has gone on to star in Star Wars prequels, V for Vendetta, Black Swan, and Thor.

Natalie Portman Straw

Max Brenner Chocolates

The “chocolate by the bald man” has its headquarters based in Ra’anana, Israel. The company was actually founded by Max Fichtman and Oded Brenner (the chocolatier of the duo). My favourite cocktail of all-time (Satisfaction Guaranteed) came from the Max Brenner restaurant and store at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas.

Cherry Tomatoes

No salad is truly complete without the addition of cherry tomatoes. These versatile little veggies were the product of a 12-year breeding program, overseen by labs in Israel. Highlights of the cherry tomato include an increased shelf life and optimal ripening cycle. Who would have thought it could take so long to make a baby tomato!

Gene Simmons

The KISS frontman and tongue wagging demon was born Chaim Witz in Haifa, Israel, in 1949. Along with his mother, Simmons came to the U.S. at the age of eight, speaking no English. He’s certainly come a long way, as the legendary rocker had his own reality show and even claims to have had sex with nearly 5,000 women.

Gene Simmons Doctor

SodaStream

Given my position as a top notch liquor slinger, I’ve often thought that one of these machines could come in handy, especially given I like fizz in nearly every drink I choose to make. SodaStream’s headquarters are located in Lod, Israel, which must make for some interesting flavour proposals, such as hummus and falafel!

USB Flash Drives

Where would many of us be without these pocket-sized tools? The flash drive virtually killed the floppy disk, which could only hold a fraction of the amount of information most USB’s are able to contain. The drives were developed by Israeli company M-Systems, who joined with tech giant IBM to release the product.

Haim Saban

One of the craziest phenomena of my childhood was the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, which was the work of Israeli Haim Saban (or at least his production company). The series is still alive and kicking to this day, having gone through countless iterations. Saban is worth an estimated $3 billion, according to Forbes.

Power Rangers Killers

ICQ

Standing for “I Seek You,” ICQ was developed by Mirabilis, an Israeli company since absorbed by America Online (AOL) for $407 million. It was the first one-on-one online conversation program that allowed users their own account. While I didn’t use the system much, ICQ was once the hottest instant messaging service available.

Hillel Slovak

An original member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Slovak (born in Haifa, Israel) was there for the bands earliest successes. Sadly, Slovak died from a heroin overdose, in 1988, at the young age of 26. An inspiration for the group, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012, with fellow members of the Chili Peppers.

Rummikub

This tile-based game was invented in Israel by Ephraim Hertzano and went on to be the best-selling game in the U.S. in 1977, as well as win Game of the Year awards in Germany (1980) and the Netherlands (1983). I’ve never actually played Rummikub before, but assume I’d be good, simply because the game has the word rum in it!

Israel: Cabernet Cobbler

Cabernet Cobbler Wine Cocktail

  • 4 oz Cabernet Sauvignon Wine
  • Top with Club Soda
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Pinch of Sugar
  • Garnish with an Orange Wedge

For whatever reason, Israel seems shrouded in mystery, but the Sip Advisor likes a good mystery. We also have Israelites to thank for Windows XP, the Amazon Kindle, and modern computer printing, among many other things. Heck, they even bred the golden hamster, which has my little kitty Furious B salivating!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
While I enjoyed this drink, it could basically be made by combining Cabernet Sauvignon Wine and Lemon-Lime Soda. It’s a pretty simple recipe, but one I felt I needed to do with the wine I selected for these articles.

November 30 – Re-Run

Crossover Calamity

Last week (Nov. 21) was World Television Day and I passed over it in favour of dedicating myself to Whiskey Week. That transgression has bugged me since and must be remedied. I love TV. It is by far my favourite entertainment option, far surpassing movies, music, and reading, with food, sex, and sports receiving brief shout outs. In belated honour of that special day, here are some of the oddest crossover partnerships, most of which have occurred on the small screen!

Baywatch – World Championship Wrestling

It would be so bizarre if you were hanging out at the beach, enjoying some sand and surf, when all of a sudden a 400-pound professional wrestler – fully decked out in his ring gear – storms the coastline to confront his enemy. You see, at the time, Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage were hanging out with Mitch Buchannon and the chest-tacular babes of Baywatch. Of course, challenges were made and a ring constructed, with the good guys triumphing over evil and sending them packing with sand in their tights.

WCW Baywatch

Come on Hulkster… nobody wants to see you run along the beach!

Scooby Doo – Harlem Globetrotters, Batman and Robin, Laurel and Hardy, The Addams Family, The Three Stooges

The Scooby Gang can be credited with having the most bizarre partnerships in the history of sleuthing. They’ve crossed numerous mediums to ruin the schemes of creepy, old men, who just want their share of a town’s or family’s riches. I think the most bizarre of these associations would have to be The Addams Family, as Scooby and Shaggy wouldn’t be able to be around the spooky clan… unless there was just enough Scooby Snacks to keep them occupied.

X-Files – The Simpsons

While this was a very well done crossover, the fact that dry FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully even ventured into the chaotic town of Springfield seems like an odd choice at first glance. Investigating Homer Simpson’s claims of seeing an alien-like figure that has a sweet and heavenly voice and appears every Friday night like Steve Urkel, the X-Files tandem discovers that the extraterrestrial is in fact only Mr. Burns, who is let loose following his weekly longevity treatment.

Springfield Files

Superman and Wonder Woman – The Brady Bunch

Why Superman and Wonder Woman would bother to waste their time helping the snot-nosed kids of the Brady Bunch will forever remain a mystery. Perhaps it was a slow day for the Justice League or they were fumigating the Fortress of Solitude or something. I just feel that Superman and Wonder Woman could have spent the day doing anything else – from bumping uglies to running errands – and it would have turned out better.

Archie – The Punisher

Why these two entities would ever need to cross paths is something I can’t fathom. Was Archie searching for vigilante justice after Jughead ate him out of house and home? Did he finally have enough of that prick Reggie? Perhaps Betty and Veronica were tired of clashing in their pursuit of a fair-skinned ginger and decided to rid the world of the guy, via a murder-for-hire plot. In actuality, The Punisher is searching for a notorious drug deal named Red, who (get ready for the hilarious misunderstandings) just happens to look like Archie. As if junkies would ever buy product off a guy that looked like Archie!

archie punisher

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Power Rangers

I guess if you suspend your disbelief enough (or take some hallucinogenic drugs), anything is possible. And that was the theory that went behind the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles teaming with the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. The two sides actually have more in common than you’d think: they’re teenagers, have martial arts training, use weaponry, enjoy pizza… you know, all the important stuff.

Superman – Muhammad Ali

While most would side with Muhammad Ali in regards to any battle he entered, it’s hard to do so when he’s up against a completely invincible being like Superman. This was such a mismatched fight that I hope Ali immediately fired all his representation. Even Don King would have been able to see the writing on the wall and he’s a selfish loser with only his own best interest in mind. I just hope the prize money was worth the walloping Ali was in for.

Drink #334: Re-Run

Re-Run Shooter

  • 0.75 oz Hpnotiq Liqueur
  • 0.25 oz Rum
  • Top with Pineapple Juice
  • Dash of Grenadine
  • Garnish with Pineapple Candy

Which befuddling crossovers have I missed? Please send them my way, as I’m always looking for inebriated viewing ideas!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
This shot was pretty decent on the taste scale. The citrus-flavoured Hpnotiq went well with the other ingredients and on the plus side, the combination didn’t come across as too sweet. I’ve been trying, when Grenadine is an ingredient, to not overwhelm anything recipes with the substance and that worked to perfection here.