December 26 – Christmas Cheer

Better to Give

Christmas may have passed, but to keep in the spirit, let’s have one more look at some great gifts given, this time in TV history:

#5: iPod – The Office

Looking to impress young intern Ryan, Michael Scott totally disregards the $20 limit on Secret Santa gifts and instead buys a $400 iPod, setting off a trading war for the music player. The real great gift was what Jim had put together for Pam: a tea pot filled with mementos and a private letter (which he later withdrew). Across the pond, the U.K. Office also had a memorable gift exchange, when Tim gave Dawn an art set, encouraging her to “Never give up” on her dreams.

the office christmas

#4: Blank Cheque – Mary Tyler Moore Show

While it was simply an oversight, Mary Richards’ Christmas turned interesting when she received a blank cheque from boss, Lou Grant, as a gift. What would you do? Personally, I would bilk TV station WJM of every dime they had and then vanish into the night, never to be seen again, as I live the rest of my days in some tropical paradise with Mrs. Sip and an endless supply of booze. Mary, on the other hand, had to go and inform the gruff managing editor of his error.

#3: Leonard Nimoy’s Autograph – Big Bang Theory

Christmas shopping can be an awkward exercise, especially when finding a gift for someone you don’t know so well. Part of the issue is you don’t know what they might be getting you in return. Sheldon Cooper seemed to have that all figured out by buying his neighbour Penny bath baskets in varying sizes. When she surprises him with a signed napkin from his hero Leonard Nimoy (Star Trek’s Spock), he rushes to his room and gathers every basket he had assembled.

#2: Santa’s Little Helper – The Simpsons

Down on his luck after learning he will not receive a Christmas bonus and that his second job as a mall Santa didn’t pay out as he had hoped, Homer Simpson had no presents for his family. Fortune has a funny way of turning around at Christmas, though, and as Homer and Bart are picking through the discarded wagers outside the dog track, hoping to find a winning stub, out comes the dog they bet on, in need of a new family. This special was the start of The Simpsons long animated run.

#1: Lost Love Letters – A Garfield Christmas

There are some incredibly thoughtful gifts in this Christmas special. While Odie’s construction of a backscratcher for Garfield was incredibly cute, the lasagna-loving cat stole the holiday by unearthing lost love letters sent to Grandma Arbuckle by her late husband. The funny thing is that if this were ever to happen for Mrs. Sip in the very distant future, a tuna water-loving kitty would have to dig up all my old e-mails to her. Hopefully the cat has no issues remembering my password.

Super Saturday Shot Day: Christmas Cheer

Some might argue that the greatest gift from TV might be the now real holiday of Festivus, from the Seinfeld episode The Strike. If that’s how you prefer to celebrate, I hope your airing of grievances, feats of strength, and Festivus miracles are everything you ever wished for!

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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!

July 25 – Lipstick Lesbian

Coming Out

With Pride weekend upon us, I thought it would be a good opportunity to look at the greatest LGBT characters… and there are a lot of them, making this list very hard to narrow down. Somehow, the Sip Advisor was able to thin the herd, so let’s get to it!

#5: Daffyd Thomas – Little Britain

While he claims to be the only gay in the village, Daffyd takes exception when he’s not being recognized for his sexuality and while he feels he’s turning heads and making a statement, everyone else is totally cool with his lifestyle. In fact, many of the townspeople are also members of the LGBT community. Ironically, when others reveal their sexual orientation, Daffyd is prone to homophobic outbursts.

Daffyd Thomas - Little Britain

#4: Lafayette Reynolds – True Blood

The heavy make-up wearing, eyelash extension rocking short order cook makes the world of Bon Temps go round, in his own unique way.  Interestingly, Lafayette is killed off very early in The Southern Vampire Mysteries books, but the TV series took a different approach, as the character proved to be so popular with audiences. In a world full of horny, indiscriminate vampires, anything and everything can happen.

#3: Mr./Mrs. Garrison – South Park

Garrison has been everything from a straight male, to a gay male, to a transgendered straight female, to finally a transgendered lesbian female. Covering the entire gamut, Garrison is one of the show’s funniest characters and would make for a fascinating teacher. We have to remember that this is a universe where Satan also identifies as gay, having been in a relationship with Saddam Hussein of all people!

Mr. Garrison

#2: Waylon Smithers – The Simpsons

Poor Mr. Smithers… all he wants is to be loved and respected by his boss, Mr. Burns, who barely acknowledges his existence and hard work. The writers of The Simpsons joke that Mr. Smithers is “Burns-sexual,” although he is regularly seen as a fixed member of the Springfield LGBT community and social scene. Hopefully Mr. Smithers finds happiness, whether with or without Mr. Burns.

#1: Cam & Mitchell – Modern Family

Cam and Mitchell put the “modern” in Modern Family more so than any of the other characters. Over the course of the show, we’ve seen Cam and Mitchell’s relationship grow to include the adoption of a daughter and tying the knot. Throughout it all, the rest of the family has been incredibly supportive, even Mitchell’s old school father Jay, who while he doesn’t always show it, is very proud of his son.

Super Saturday Shot Day: Lipstick Lesbian

  • Wrap glass with Rainbow Candy
  • 0.5 oz Watermelon Pucker
  • 0.5 oz Raspberry Vodka
  • Splash of Cranberry Juice
  • Dash of Sour Mix
  • Garnish with a Lime Wedge

Some honourable mentions go to Lt. Jim Dangle (Reno 911), Dean Craig Pelton (Community), Lloyd Lee (Entourage), Oscar Martinez (The Office), Mr. Humphries (Are You Being Served?), Ray Gillette (Archer), Willow Rosenberg (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), and – allegedly! – Bert and Ernie (Sesame Street). Have I missed anyone? Feel free to let me know below!

February 14 – Love Bite

Lover’s Quarrel

In celebration of Valentine’s Day, I thought it would be a good opportunity to look at some of the classic “will they/won’t they” TV romances. Nearly every show has one, hoping to bring in the hopeless romantic as a regular viewer. My favourite story is from NewsRadio, where the network wanted this element for the show, much to the chagrin of producers. So, they had Dave and Lisa sleep together immediately, before then teasing their relationship from that point. Well, on with the list:

#5: Ben & Leslie – Parks and Recreation

The Parks and Rec crew are quite incestuous with numerous couplings coming out of the small department. Despite stiff competition (Andy and April, Chris and Ann, etc.), Ben and Leslie get the nod for best “will they/won’t they” storyline on the show, as it took the nerdy Ben to finally reel in the ambitious Leslie, who was more likely to be married to her job than a living person. Ben and Leslie’s wedding was especially touching, as the Parks and Rec crew had to stage the event on short notice.

Ben and Leslie

#4: Niles & Daphne – Frasier

Niles loved Daphne from the first moment he saw her… the problem was, he was in a loveless marriage with the never-seen Maris. By the time Niles got his side of things all sorted out, Daphne was due to be wed to Donny – ironically, Niles divorce attorney. Well, true love conquers all, and Niles and Daphne ended up together, marrying and having a baby boy. Poor Niles waited many years – and through many boyfriends – for his chance to be with Daphne, but fate works in mysterious ways.

#3: Leonard & Penny – Big Bang Theory

For those who believe that opposites don’t attract, take for example the relationship between blonde bombshell Penny and her kind, but geeky neighbour Leonard. Despite taking a while to date and an extended break-up, the two have been together for a fair portion of the show’s run and at this point are even engaged. Rivaling Leonard and Penny is Sheldon and Amy, who most fans just want to see finally get into bed with one another!

The Gorilla Dissolution

#2: Jim & Pam – The Office (US)

Based off of the similar storyline of Tim and Dawn from the UK version of The Office, Jim and Pam go from co-workers with a mutual crush to lovers, having to evade obstacles such as Pam’s pending marriage to Roy, Jim’s transfer to another Dunder Mifflin branch, and Pam going back to school in New York. Once Jim and Pam were all securely married, Dwight and Angela moved into the spot of “will they/won’t they,” but their relationship was always a little odd and unusual.

#1: Ross & Rachel – Friends

These two went back and forth so many times, that it makes one’s head spin. In the end, they of course wound up with each other, following the typical last-minute ditch effort to save the relationship, with Ross rushing to the airport to stop Rachel from leaving the country for a job opportunity in Paris. Through the series, the two even produced a child, all the while teasing a reunion, but never really getting back together from the first time they became a couple and broke up.

Super Saturday Shot Day: Love Bite

Love Bite Shot

  • 0.5 oz Cherry Liqueur
  • 0.5 oz Orange Liqueur
  • 0.5 oz Milk
  • Garnish with Chocolate

Honourable mentions go to Kevin and Winnie (The Wonder Years), Zack and Kelly (Saved by the Bell), Eric and Donna (That 70’s Show), and Fry and Leela (Futurama); some of which ended happily and others, not so much. Thankfully, my will they/won’t they with Mrs. Sip worked out pretty well!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (2.5 Sips out of 5):
The Cherry and Orange Liqueurs mixed together really well, but the Milk didn’t play nicely with the spirits, nearly curdling the alcohol. Luckily it didn’t get that far and the flavours could still be enjoyed. At least I always had the Chocolate garnish to enjoy afterwards!

December 20 – Jack Frost

Holiday Horrors

Christmas is supposed to be all about good tidings and joy, but some would have you think otherwise. The following entries are only interested in disrupting the holiday and even putting an end to Santa Claus and the whole spirit of Christmas. Let’s wade together into the darker side of the season!

#5: Xanta Klaus

Professional wrestling is the perfect breeding grounds for detestable anti-Christmas characters. Among those creations is Xanta Klaus, who arrived on the scene in 1995, under the guise of giving out gifts to children, only to turn on wrestler Savio Vega and beat him with his toy-filled sack. Unfortunately, Xanta Klaus was short-lived, with writers probably realizing he didn’t have a shelf life past December 25th. Even wrestling events in the month of December take on a not-so-friendly air, with names like Season’s Beatings, Massacre of 34th Street, Holiday Hell, and December to Dismember.

#4: Robot Santa

This mechanized version of Santa, as seen on Futurama, is hell bent on ruining every Christmas. He was originally created to decide whether a child was naughty or nice and then reward or punish the youngster accordingly. His programming goes all haywire, however, and he ends up believing everyone is bad, leading to the launch of aggressive assaults each Christmas Eve, with an array of seasonal weapons. If Robot Santa wasn’t bad enough on his own, he is occasionally joined by Kwanzaabot and the Chanukah Zombie, with the group being collectively known as The Trinity.

#3: Christmas Time in South Park

The brilliant minds behind South Park don’t mind turning the Christmas season into their own satirical playground, with heroic holiday characters that include Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo and even cult leader Charles Manson. If the bad guys are good, then the antagonists must be really evil. Episodes have seen Iraqi soldiers torture Santa Claus, only for Jesus to save the jolly fat man; Woodland Christmas critters giving birth to the antichrist; and heck, the animated short by Trey Parker and Matt Stone that largely led to South Park’s existence was titled Jesus vs. Santa, and included the two fighting, before coming to a truce over orange smoothies!

south_park_christmas

#2: Jack Frost

What happens when a serial killer en route to his execution dies in a horrific accident? Well, if his name is Jack Frost, he comes back as a deranged snowman, of course. Then, he terrorizes the lawman who apprehended him and the town of Snowmonton (yes, that was seriously the city’s name), including raping a woman in the shower with his carrot nose and murdering piles of people. Hell, Frost did call himself the “world’s most pissed off snow cone!” Ironically, only a year later, a family film with the same name was released and had a similar plot (man dies and turns into snowman), minus all the slaying and carrot-based sexual assault.

#1: Krampus

This European legend is the anti-Santa, used to encourage kids to be good, or else! In some countries, the creature has somehow gained his own celebration night, Krampusnacht, on December 5th, the eve before St. Nicholas Day, which rewards good children. This has involved people dressing up as the man-beast and beating others up. Krampus was depicted on American Dad as actually being a good guy, only trying to correct bad behaviour in kids, while Santa is the true villain. There is also the similar Belsnickel, who has the split personality of both Krampus and St. Nicholas and was famously portrayed by Dwight Schrute on The Office.

Super Saturday Shot Day: Jack Frost

Dec 20

  • Rim glass with Candy Cane Bits
  • 0.5 oz Kahlua
  • 0.5 oz Bailey’s Irish Crème
  • 0.5 oz Peppermint Schnapps
  • Garnish with a Candy Cane

A couple honourable mentions that could have been included on this list, had they not had a change of heart and eventually embraced the season, include the Grinch and Jack Skellington. I hope all you little sippers have a wonderful Christmas and get lit up like the tree!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
I can’t believe how many shot recipes start with Kahlua and Irish Crème… too many. To change thing up a little, I used Yukon Jack Perma Frost, instead of Peppermint Schnapps. The Perma Frost adds cinnamon notes to the usual mint flavour and kind of completed this shooter.

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.

November 14 – Breaking Bad

Regretful Decisions

Recently, I did a series of articles about actors that probably regretted movie roles they had turned down. Today, I embark on a similar series, but change the medium. We’re looking at TV characters that have been passed up on… usually for the better!

Paul Giamatti as Michael Scott (The Office)

The iconic role that made Steve Carell a household name and launched his movie career could have gone to someone else. Paul Giamatti turned down the U.S.-version of David Brent and focused on his movie career. A few others were reportedly considered for the role, including Hank Azaria, Martin Short, Bob Odenkirk, and even Rainn Wilson, who ended up as the best possible Dwight Schrute imaginable.

giamatti-scott

Pamela Anderson as Dana Scully (X-Files)

The show would have been much less sci-fi and a little more parody had this poor choice actually happened. I’m not a fan, but the X-Files staff made a great move by going in another direction. You can also bet that if Anderson had taken the roll, there would have been more slow-motion running scenes and the skimpiest outfits possible for a paranormal investigator!

John Cusack/Matthew Broderick as Walter White (Breaking Bad)

I’m a huge Bryan Cranston fan, long before he became a meth-making, cancer-surviving maniac. I even heard one joke that Walter White is Cranston’s character on Malcolm in the Middle after he goes into hiding! Getting back on track, apparently both Cusack and Broderick turned down the role, leaving the door wide open for Cranston. I can kind of see Cusack doing an okay job, but Broderick would have been a long shot to make this work.

Katie Holmes as Buffy Summers (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

Good lord I hate this show with a vehement passion. The story goes that Holmes passed on Buffy in order to finish high school (a commendable action), before she joined the cast of Dawson’s Creek the next year (an uncommendable action). Sarah Michelle Gellar had originally auditioned for the role on Cordelia, but thankfully the domino effect introduced the world to Charisma Carpenter, who later posed for Playboy and that’s all that really matters!

holmes-buffy

Ryan Reynolds and Xander Harris (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

Speaking of that which shall not be named, my alma mater homey (The Green Lantern and I attended the same college) saw the writing on the wall and passed on this nerd-captivating show. He has since gone on to become a Hollywood heartthrob, while Nicholas Brendon has gone on to do a variety of work, but nothing near the level of his Xander Harris (the one character I didn’t mind on the show) fame.

John Hawkes as The Governor (The Walking Dead)

I’m not familiar with who John Hawkes actually is (he actually played a few roles you know, you jackass), but I find his reasoning to be sound. He refused the role of The Governor, as he thought someone else could do the character better. Enter David Morrissey, who has provided the character a hauntingly authoritative aura in his battles with Rick Grimes and the other survivors.

Paul Shaffer as George Costanza (Seinfeld)

I can’t imagine anyone other than Jason Alexander portraying Costanza: Lord of the Idiots. Shaffer, best known as David Letterman’s band leader, was left a message from Jerry Seinfled, offering him the role if he wanted it, but due to his other commitments, Shaffer never even returned the call. I just don’t think the show would have been very good without Alexander in the role of Jerry’s best friend.

Drink #318: Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad Drink Recipe

  • Rim glass with Blue Salt/Rock Candy
  • 2 oz Tequila (I used Hornitos)
  • Top with Lemonade
  • Garnish with Lemon Wedges

What will tomorrow’s sequel list hold? Wouldn’t you like to know? And for a small fee, I’ll tell you. Hey, gotta support this project somehow!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3 Sips out of 5):
I don’t have any major complaints about this cocktail, but it didn’t measure up to many of the drinks I’ve been making recently. I’m glad the Blue Candy Powder rim worked out as it helped with the Breaking Bad crystal meth theme. Tequila and Lemonade are a good combo, so give it a chance sometime.