Australia – Stormy Weather

Criminal Crunch

Not many countries start off as another nation’s penal colony. Australia is by far the most recognized of these lands and somehow, the British castoffs sent there turned Australia into one of the most wonderful places in the world to visit, live, and love. Let’s take a look at some of the more notable convicts to be shipped down under and how they helped build the great nation of Australia:

Australia Cell Blocks

William Bland

While I believe government to be largely useless, it is a necessary evil when building a new society. Bland was a former naval surgeon who found himself in Australia because he killed a man in a duel… seems like a fair and completely reasonable way to settle an argument. Bland eventually held a seat in Australia’s legislative assembly, an early example of government criminality.

William Henry Groom

Groom followed a path similar to Bland, going from prisoner to member of the inaugural Australian Parliament. I guess you can’t fault a penal colony for having members of its government being former convicts. Sadly, Groom died shortly after his appointment and never got to fully enjoy the perks of being an elected official (money, power, drugs… the Rob Ford special!).

James Squire

Now, here’s a guy who deserves massive recognition for his contributions to early Australia society. Squire was one of the original convicts to come over to Australia and being first was a recurrent theme for him. He later became the country’s first brewer and brands like Tooheys and Victoria Bitter have him to thank their legacy. Showing the importance of alcohol in any society, Squire’s death in 1822 spawned the biggest funeral held in the colony days.

VB Kangaroo

Jørgen Jørgensen

Not many folks can claim to be the ruler of Iceland, but Jørgensen was one of those peeps. He arrested the Danish Governor (almost as bad as The Walking Dead’s Governor), with intentions of giving Iceland their freedom, but that was squashed by Denmark. The eccentric adventurer, as Jørgensen’s been described, was a spy for a spell for the UK, translating documents and working throughout France and Germany. He wound up a convict in Australia and upon his release explored Tasmania.

William Chopin

This fella kind of went full circle, as he flourished working in a prison hospital and went into chemistry after receiving his ticket of leave. Unfotunately, his skills as a chemist landed him back in jail later, as he went into the illegal abortion business. He was the ‘chemist gone bad’ centuries before Breaking Bad ever aired.

John Kelly

Sometimes it takes a generation to make your mark on society, as is the case for John Kelly, whose son Ned gained notoriety as a Robin Hood-type folk hero, battling the establishment with his band of not-so-merry men (colloquially referred to as Kelly’s gang, but that’s such a harsh term) and becoming an outlaw in the process. Ned Kelly was later executed for his crimes, but his legend has grown thanks to movies starring Mick Jagger and Heath Ledger. He’s even featured on an Irish stamp.

Ned Kelly

John Davies

As a writer, I believe information (as well as entertainment) is essential in getting a nation rolling. After his release from prison, Davies co-founded The Mercury newspaper in 1854. The daily publication, servicing Hobart, Tasmania, still exists to this day. The company remained in the Davies family until 1988 when it was taken over by what is now News Corp Australia.

James Ruse

Without food, we’re all screwed… well, except perhaps Ghandi. Anyway, Ruse was responsible for the first successful wheat harvest in New South Wales (where the first convict ships landed to settle). Today, an Agricultural High School (the Aussies really push you to choose your career path early) is named after him and students spend their days riding tractors and shucking corn.

Henry Kable

While the world is always becoming more litigious, to have dropped the first lawsuit on a nation is quite the feat. Kable’s civil suit was over a parcel of goods to be given to he and his wife upon arrival at the Australian penal colony, but it was stolen en route. Kable successfully sued the ship’s captain for £15, even more impressive given prisoners were considered dead by law at the time and had no rights. It’s no surprise then, that Kable later became a wealthy businessman, probably turning his legal windfall into a fortune.

Lawsuit

Robert Sidaway

What is a society without entertainment? Sidaway opened Australia’s first theatre (and we’re not talking about one of those talking pictures types), in Sydney, in 1796. Back then, you could pay for seats using money, flour, meat, or alcohol. If alcohol was a currency nowadays, I’d be filthy rich (instead of just filthy!). The theatre featured performances of Shakespearean and other English works, but was shut down by authorities in 1800, as it was deemed a corrupting influence.

Mary Wade

Wade was the youngest female convict shipped away, leaving the UK for Australia at only 11 years old. By the time she passed away at age 82, she had 21 children and more than 300 descendants, leaving a family tree that now adds up to tens of thousands and includes former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. Now that, my little sippers, is a legacy.

Australia: Stormy Weather

Stormy Weather Drink Recipe

  • 1.5 oz Shiraz/Syrah Wine
  • 1.5 oz Dark Rum
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Dash of Simple Syrup
  • Float Ginger Ale
  • Garnish with a Strawberry Slice and Raspberry

Coming from a lineage of scoundrels and miscreants, that explains the likes of Mel Gibson and Russell Crowe, but not Steve Irwin, Crocodile Dundee, and others of that ilk. Australia, forever mystifying outside observers with their citizen’s contrasting personality traits… I think I just came up with a new tagline for the country!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
Another good Shiraz/Syrah cocktail has me really enjoying the Little Penguin Wine. The Ginger Ale was solid, as usual, and of particular pleasure was the Appleton Rum I used. You could get a hint of it with each sip and it was an absolutely delicious touch to the rest of the recipe.

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September 30 – The Wink

Near Misses

Here is part two of my investigative series looking at roles actors and actresses passed on that cost them millions of box office dollars, increased fame, and iconic characters and franchises. Let’s get right on with it!:

Johnny Depp – Ferris Bueller (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off)

Depp’s career could have been launched years before he finally broke through, or perhaps it could have fizzled out much like Matthew Broderick’s has. We’ll never really know, as Depp passed on the role of Ferris Bueller and all of his ditching class hijinks. Had he taken the role, perhaps Depp would have never developed into the eclectic actor he is today and we would have missed out on characters like Edward Scissorhands and Capt. Jack Sparrow.

Ferris Bueller's Day Off Johnny Depp

Michelle Pfeiffer – Clarice Starling (Silence of the Lambs)

An Oscar could have been Pfeiffer’s prize if she had accepted the offer to play Clarice Starling in the wildly successful (both critically and financially) Silence of the Lambs. It’s not like Pfeiffer saw a drop in her career at that point, later playing Catwoman in Batman Returns, but she missed a rare chance to snatch up an elusive Oscar statue. It seems Pfeiffer made a career of turning down roles, including the female leads Pretty Woman, Basic Instinct, Thelma & Louise, and Evita, among others.

Jeremy Irons – Hannibal Lecter (Silence of the Lambs)

Sticking with Silence of the Lambs, Irons turned down the role of Hannibal Lecter because he found the script to be too violent. So, let me get this straight, it’s okay to voice an evil lion (Scar) who causes his own brother’s death and nearly his nephew’s, as well (in a kids movie, no less), but wearing the face of another human is not okay!? Irons missed out on a movie that swept the Oscars and is best remembered for being an animated kitty.

Hugh Jackman – James Bond (Casino Royale)

On top of playing everyone’s favourite adamantium-infused mutant, Jackman was also offered the role of iconic spy James Bond. He passed on the part, saying he wasn’t ready to hold down two so very notable characters at the same time… then went on to play freakin’ Jean Valjean! Okay, the Les Miserables protagonist isn’t on the same level as the other two, but I have to get something for sitting through that drudgery. On a positive note, Daniel Craig has been perfect as Bond, thus far.

James Bond - Hugh Jackman

Jackman as Bond could have worked!

Russell Crowe – Wolverine (X-Men)

Speaking of Wolfy, Crowe was originally pegged to play the age-unknown Logan/Wolverine. Rumour has it (or at least the rumour I made up) that Crowe was unable to grow the sideburns necessary for the character and therefore abandoned the project, not wanting to lose any legitimacy if he had used make-up or special effects instead. Crowe and Jackman would later play bitter enemies in Les Mis, with Crowe using his turned down role as inspiration for his hatred towards Jackman’s character.

Dave Chappelle – Bubba (Forrest Gump)

While he has since gone on to have a highly acclaimed TV show (as well as his highly-publicized meltdown and leaving said show), Chappelle was originally offered the role of Bubba in Forrest Gump. Had he taken the part, Chappelle would now have numerous restaurants around the United States in his honour. Perhaps he passed on the character because the slim comedian just couldn’t put back enough shrimp to justify Bubba’s obsession with the seafood.

Jake Gyllenhaal – Jake Sully (Avatar)

Gyllenhaal did finally get to play a cripple (spoiler alert) in Source Code, but he missed out on the Avatar money train and getting to be a computer animated blue guy fighting a mechanized army to save FernGully, the last rainforest. Sam Worthington snatched up the role, which he will reprise for 2016’s Avatar 2 (which has the working subtitle ‘Blue Man Group Rides Again’). It should be noted that Matt Damon also rejected the offer for Avatar.

Drink #273: The Wink

The Wink Drink Recipe

  • 1 oz Gin (I used Tanqueray)
  • 0.5 oz Triple Sec
  • 0.25 oz Absinthe
  • Splash of Simple Syrup
  • Dash of Peychaud Bitters
  • Garnish with Lemon Twist

With all the hype recently about who turned down the male lead in 50 Shades of Grey and who eventually accepted the role, it will be interesting to see if there are any regrets in the future. Menopausal women love this garbage, so I smell a big money franchise.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (2 Sips out of 5):
This drink is pretty strong and bitter, with the Triple Sec and Simple Syrup only able to do so much to sweeten the mix. After some ice dilution, the cocktail tasted slightly better. It was nice to finally use the Peychaud Bitters Mrs. Sip picked up for me in New Orleans, but I hope to find better recipes to use it in, in the future.