Maine – Remember the Maine

Each week, the Sip Advisor will alphabetically travel the United States, discovering the best each state has to offer in a variety of subjects. Today, we travel to Maine, known as the Pine Tree State because it is largely covered in forest. It has also been dubbed the Vacation State, but there’s no rest for the wicked, so let’s start our exploration:

Motto: “I Lead” – But what do you lead!?

Food: Maine Lobster is known the world over for its taste and tenderness. The industry is so important to the state, the University of Maine opened a Lobster Institute, in 1987. For dessert, you could have an order of Donut Holes (invented in Maine) or a Whoopie Pie – two mounds of chocolate cake with filling or frosting in the middle – which is the State Treat.

Drink: The official soft drink of Maine is Moxie, created by Mainer, Augustin Thompson, in 1876. The soda was originally a medicinal tonic, with Thompson claiming it treated “paralysis, softening of the brain, nervousness, and insomnia.” Purchased by the Coca-Cola Company in 2018, the drink is said to be sweet with a bitter aftertaste.

Lobster

Site to See: One of the most visited national parks across the country, Acadia National Park was established (under a different name) by President Woodrow Wilson, in 1916. The park’s Cadillac Mountain is the first spot in the country to be greeted by the sunrise from October to March.

Street: Commercial Street, in Portland, was named one of the 10 best streets in America, in 2008. A number of wharfs, each featuring seafood restaurants, can be accessed from Commerical Street. The Maine State Pier is located along the route as well, where an outdoor music site can be found.

TV Show: I don’t care what anyone says, Murder, She Wrote, is an amazing TV show. Sure, it’s hard to imagine someone would end up being so closely associated with as many murders as Jessica Fletcher was, but that’s part of its… um, charm. Had it been revealed Fletcher was, in fact, a serial killer, that would have made for an epic series finale.

Movie: The Shawshank Redemption stars Tim Robbins as Andy Dufresne, who is wrongfully accused of the murder of his wife and her lover, and sent to Shawshank State Penitentiary, in Maine. There, he befriends fellow inmate Red, played by Morgan Freeman. Dufresne ends up escaping the prison and makes sure Red is able to join him in freedom, once he’s released.

Murder She Wrote

Book/Author: Most of Stephen King’s books are set in Maine (Pet Sematary, It, Salem’s Lot, Carrie, Cujo, etc.), using fictional settings such as Castle Rock, Derry and Jerusalem’s Lot. King himself is from Maine, providing the familiarity he uses when plotting out his works.

Fictional Character: Among all the horror creations from the mind of Stephen King, an amiable specter also hails from Maine. Casper the Friendly Ghost is from the town Friendship (at least in the 1995 film), where he haunts Whipstaff Manor. But all Casper really wants is to find a friend to cure his loneliness.

Fictional City: Everyone in Cabot Cove (Murder, She Wrote) seems to end up dead or a murderer. Instead, I’ll live with the catalogue of Disney characters who inhabit Storybrook (Once Upon a Time). Perhaps I could snuggle up close to some of those princesses!

Actor/Actress: Anna Kendrick, star of the Pitch Perfect film trilogy, was born in Portland. Kendrick, who would make the Sip Advisor’s very short list of Hollywood stars he finds attractive, also lends her voice to the Trolls franchise of animated movies.

Stephen King

Song: I had to choose the Maine Stein Song by Rudy Vallée for this category because a drinking song will always top all others in my books. The fight song of the University of Maine actually topped the music charts in 1930, the only college tune to ever do so. The song peaked in popularity during prohibition, although its lyrics were written three decades earlier.

Band/Musician: Rudy Vallée was raised in Westbrook and would become one of the first teen idols/pop stars. Vallée would go on to inspire the likes of Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby, among other crooners. Apparently, Vallée was so popular among female fans, if he was singing in a venue lacking microphones, he had to use a megaphone.

People: During the tense Cold War times of the 1980’s, 10-year-old Samantha Smith (from Houlton) wrote to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, and was invited to visit the republic as a Goodwill Ambassador. Her visit, heavily covered by the media, showed both sides they were more similar than previously thought. Tragically, Smith died in a place crash, at the age of 13. The Soviet Union honoured Smith with a stamp, while Maine celebrates Samantha Smith Day each June, among other remembrances from both countries.

Animal: The Official State Cat of Maine, is the Maine Coon Cat, the largest domesticated cat breed. The origins of the Maine Coon are rumoured to involve Marie Antoinette, who in trying to escape her fate in France, sent six prized cats to America, where they mixed with other breeds, resulting in the Maine Coon.

Maine Coon Cat

Invention: The Microwave Oven was invented by Mainer Percy Spencer, when he began experimenting with various foods, after noticing a candy bar melted in his pocket, while the physicist was working with magnetrons and radar. Thanks to him, people can get their TV dinners, instant noodles and popcorn in a matter of minutes.

Crime: In 1806, James Purrington, a farmer in Hallowell, murdered his wife and seven of their children (ranging in age from 18 months to 19 years) with an axe, before committing suicide using a straight razor to his own throat. Purrington’s 17-year-old son survived the ordeal and escaped to a neighbour’s home. Legend has it, Purrington was buried with the weapons he used.

Law: Maine has been called “The Birthplace of Prohibition,” as they were the first state to enact such a law, in 1885. This led to the Portland Rum Riot, which led to the law being repealed in 1856. If that wasn’t bad enough, folks can be fined for leaving Christmas lights up after January 14.

Sports Team: Maine is without any professional sports teams, with folks mostly choosing to support Boston area franchises. The University of Maine Black Bears teams have experienced various levels of success, with their men’s ice hockey program winning two National Championships.

Microwave

Athlete: Marathon runner, Joan Benoit Samuelson, was born in Cape Elizabeth. She was the first ever women’s Olympics marathon champion, winning gold at the 1984 Summer Olympics. She also held record times for an American racer at the Chicago and Boston Marathons, for 32 and 28 years, respectively.

Famous Home: The Harriet Beecher Stowe House, in Brunswick, is where the landmark anti-slavery novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, was written. The place is now a museum, featuring Harriet’s Writing Room. Poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow had previously lived at the residence, while a student.

Urban Legend: The University of Maine at Farmington is said to be the site of much paranormal activity. Founded in 1864, notable hauntings include Nordica Auditorium, where the piano is played, with no one seated at it, and Mallett Hall dormitory, where the sound of furniture being moved can be heard above the third floor, despite there being no fourth floor.

Museum: The International Cryptozoology Museum, in Portland, is the only museum in the world dedicated to the study of mysterious creatures such as Bigfoot, Sasquatches, Yetis, Lake Monsters, and others. Maine is apparently a hotbed of Sasquatch sightings, so the location makes sense.

Bigfoot

Firsts: Born in Skowhegan, the first female presidential candidate was Margaret Chase Smith, who sought the Republican nomination for the 1964 election. While her bid for the nomination, Smith is credited with being the first woman to serve in both houses of the U.S. Congress.

Company: Clothing and outdoor recreation equipment retailer, L.L.Bean, was founded in Freeport, where it is headquartered to this day. The company’s flagship store still exists there and is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, having only closed on a handful of occasion throughout its history, including this current global pandemic.

Events: The 1866 Great Fire of Portland, started as the result of Independence Day celebrations, likely from fireworks or cigar ash. The blaze spread quickly, resulting in only two deaths, but 10,000 people left homeless, as 1,800 buildings were destroyed.

Miscellaneous: The town of Strong was once known as the Toothpick Capital of the World, producing 20 million toothpicks each day (75 billion each year), at the height of the industry. This accounted for 95 per cent of the world’s toothpick supply. However, toothpicks have been replaced by floss and other items, with the last toothpick produced in Strong, in 2003.

Remember the Maine

Remember the Maine

  • Rinse glass with Absinthe
  • 2 oz Whiskey
  • 0.75 oz Sweet Vermouth
  • 0.25 oz Cherry Liqueur
  • Garnish with Drunken Cherries

This cocktail was made in recognition of the USS Maine, which was sunk off the coast of Havana, Cuba, in 1898. Spain was blamed for the incident, so the slogan “Remember the Maine! To hell with Spain,” became popular and the 1898 Spanish-American War soon followed. The drink has some similarities to a Manhattan and that is just fine by me.

September 29 – Negroni

Bittersweet

There are some legendary roles that have been passed up by actors and actresses for various reasons. That probably made some of these folks pretty bitter… let’s take a look!:

Tom Selleck – Indiana Jones (Raiders of the Lost Ark)

The Magnum P.I. star and his moustache were slated to play the role of archeologist Indiana Jones, but Selleck wasn’t allowed to vacate his TV role long enough to film the movie. The role went to Harrison Ford instead and three sequels followed. Selleck has done okay since, but lost out on playing such a treasured character. At least Selleck didn’t have to suffer through the backlash The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull received.

tom-selleck-indiana-jones

Molly Ringwald – Vivian (Pretty Woman) / Molly (Ghost)

The 1980’s icon missed the boat on a couple big roles in 1990 including Vivian in Pretty Woman and Molly in Ghost, played by Julia Roberts and Demi Moore respectively. Instead, Ringwald was living and acting in France. When she returned stateside, she had parts in TV movies and series but hasn’t done anything of note since her heyday decades ago. Roberts and Moore on the other hand enjoyed strong careers after these movies.

Will Smith – Neo (The Matrix)

I am certainly not a fan of The Matrix trilogy of movies and apparently, neither was Smith. The Fresh Prince turned down the character of Neo, saying he found the script too hard to follow. Instead, Smith would go on to make Wild Wild West, a universally panned film, around the same time. Smith has also admitted that Keanu Reeves was perfect for the role, which I take to mean the character was always intended to be one-dimensional, monotone, and boring.

will smith as neo

Mel Gibson – Bruce Wayne/Batman (Batman)

With all the uproar over the selection of Ben Affleck to play Batman, it’s interesting to note actors who previously passed on the iconic role. Gibson turned down the offer for Tim Burton’s 1989 film, believing the movie would be a flop… and this is all before his high-profile meltdown. Michael Keaton, of course, stepped up to the plate and knocked it out of the park before the franchise took a downswing with Val Kilmer and George Clooney behind the mask.

Sean Connery – Gandalf (Lord of the Rings)

The former James Bond legend passed on the role of Gandalf, reasoning that he didn’t “get” fantasy (because, you know, the James Bond plots are super realistic) and instead went on to make The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, a movie that involves superheroes and is based on comics. Yup, that seems much more grounded in reality. Connery was paid $17 million for his part in the League, but it also pushed him to retire from acting. Had he accepted the Gandalf role and the offered 15% of the box office, he could have made $400 million through the trilogy!

sean-connery-gandalf

Denzel Washington – Det. David Mills (Se7en)

Denzel reportedly turned down the role later played by Brad Pitt, saying the movie was too dark. Apparently, he later regretted passing on the part, but he did alright for himself eventually, with an Oscar win for Training Day. Se7en launched Pitt into superstardom and also paired him with director David Fincher. Over the years, the two would also combine their efforts for Fight Club and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

Kevin Costner – Andy Dufresne (The Shawshank Redemption)

Costner was huge in the early 90’s and his acceptance of the Andy Dufresne role would have helped him avoid the total bomb that became his Waterworld passion project. After Waterworld, it took quite some time for Costner to rid himself of the stench of failure (must have been some stinky water on that set) and some could argue he’s never fully recovered. Tim Robbins took the Andy Dufresne part and went on to enjoy a renaissance of sorts.

Drink #272: Negroni

Negroni Drink Recipe

  • 1 oz Campari
  • 1 oz Gin (I used Bombay Sapphire East)
  • 1 oz Sweet Vermouth
  • Garnish with an Orange Twist

I sincerely hope that every actor and actress whose career was launched by one of these roles originally turned down sends that person some kind of gift basket each year, thanking them for their poor judgment and decision making. Join us tomorrow for part two of this franchise!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (1.5 Sips out of 5):
I knew going into this cocktail that I wasn’t going to like it very much. I find Campari’s bitterness to be too harsh and the Sweet Vermouth wasn’t able to bring it back to a tolerable level. I’m unclear as to why this has become such a classic cocktail. I guess there are enough people out there that prefer bitter drinks.

April 16 – Alabama Slammer

Locked Up

I’ve never been to jail… but I’m willing to bet that it would be fun. If TV and movies have taught me anything (they haven’t), it’s that I’d be able to keep quite active by joining football, basketball, and baseball teams to compete against the guards. When you factor in running from scary inmates – a form of dodge ball – and all the weight lifting I could do, I’m pretty sure that I would be in the best shape of my life! There’s also the lifelong (til death penalty do us part) friendships I would make. So based on my vast television watching experience and the one time I had a run in with “the fuzz”, which almost resulted in a speeding ticket, here are my tips for surviving the slammer:

Jail Please

1) Getting acquainted with your bunk mate

You’re new to the place and really have no right to claim top bunk. If the dude you’re stuck with has already claimed that spot, guess what… you’re bottoms, boieeeee! Better get comfortable, brotha, you might be there a while.

2) Picking a gang

While you could try to fly solo in the clink, it’s probably best that you align yourself with similar-minded people. If the Mighty Ducks movies have taught us anything, it’s prudent of you to go into a flying-V formation, while shouting “quack, quack, quack”. Not only will that show other gangs that you are a united front, but also that your clique has some serious mental instability and is not to be messed with.

3) Making a shiv/shank

No matter how protected you might be thanks to the crew that has adopted you, having a readymade weapon in case of any brouhaha would be quite beneficial. My suggestion is to try and fashion some sort of makeshift gun. Your fellow prisoners will never know what hit them!

Shank

4) Earning a reputation

You don’t have to be the tough guy in your cell block, but if you bring something unique to the table, you might be able to slip under the radar for your extended stay. Morgan Freeman (The Shawshank Redemption) was known as the guy who could procure things… Clint Eastwood (Escape from Alcatraz) had only one passion: to escape from prison… Burt Reynolds (The Longest Yard) liked playing football… and Sean Penn (Dead Man Walking) had a thing for lethal injections.

5) Getting drunk

You will miss things you once knew and loved in the outside world. But just because you’re locked up doesn’t mean you can’t have some of those things, even if it is at a lower-graded experience. I have a wonderful recipe for toilet wine. If you’d like the details, please send your credit information to me. See, this is how I got into trouble in the first place.

6) Finding God

I heard that this often happens in jails, which could be good if, like me, you haven’t managed (or gotten around to) finding him, her, or it “on the outside”. And who knows, you may even manage to turn your whole spiritual discovery into a profit, just like George Bluth did with his infomercial promoting his video series “Caged Wisdom”.

Caged Wisdom
If all else fails, the consumption of toilet wine often leads to self-discovery of prayer to the porcelain god as you return your elixir to where it once came from…

Now let’s enjoy something much better than toilet wine!

Drink #106: Alabama Slammer

Alabama Slammer Cocktail

  • 0.5 oz Vodka
  • 0.5 oz Southern Comfort
  • 0.5 oz Amaretto
  • Top with Orange Juice
  • Splash of Grenadine
  • Splash of Sweet & Sour Mix
  • Garnish with an Orange Slice and a Maraschino Cherry

Really, if I was sent to prison, I’d probably just do a ton of napping. I’d probably be known as the ‘cat guy’… that is until someone tried to chase my tail and got scratched for doing so!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
It had been a couple years since my last Alabama Slammer and I was quickly reminded of how enjoyable this drink is. I’ve seen other versions of this recipe, but this is the one I was able to pull off with the ingredients I had. Sloe Gin would have been a nice touch, but it just can’t be found in Canada.