Flavour Revolution – Marula

Animal Crackers

Mrs. Sip and I recently returned from a month-long journey to southern Africa and were completely enamoured with the animals the continent is famous for. We also have a fondness for Amarula Cream, a liqueur from South Africa that takes Bailey’s and other Irish crème’s to task. Today, we enjoy Amarula Gold (the Cream’s golden cousin), while looking at the greatest pop culture examples of the creatures we enjoyed during our travels:

Lions:

One of the most famous lions is known simply for his iconic roar, seen at the start of MGM movies. Leo is still introducing viewers to films to this day. The lion has also been adopted as the logo for two different football teams, the Detroit Lions (NFL) and my hometown BC Lions (CFL). That’s interesting because while lions are fierce hunters, they’re also incredibly lazy. In the media world, there are notable lions in Simba, Mufasa, and Scar from The Lion King, as well as Aslan (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe) and the Cowardly Lion (The Wizard of Oz).

lion lesson

Buffalos:

There aren’t really any fictional buffalos to choose from, but there is the city of Buffalo, New York, which is home to such teams as the Sabres (NHL), and Bills (NFL). There’s also the Order of the Water Buffalo, with such dignified members as Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble. Lastly, one can also include Buffalo Bill, the deranged serial killer from Silence of the Lambs… on second thought, maybe he should be left off the list.

Rhinos:

The horned beasts seem to be the perfect animal for animated antagonists. This can be seen with one of Spiderman’s greatest foes, Rhino, as well as Rocksteady from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. If we are to use the characters as examples of how rhinos are viewed by animators, then they’re certainly not the brightest individuals. Lastly, pro wrestler Terry Gerin, adopted the name Rhino (later changed to Rhyno, because actual rhinos love suing over intellectual property rights!), when he debuted with Extreme Championship Wrestling in 1999. Sadly, rhinos are rapidly decreasing in population, with poachers seeking their valuable horns, to be used for sexual potency.

Elephants:

Like lions, elephants have factored into a lot of media. One of Disney’s most cherished characters is that of Dumbo, the flying elephant. There’s also Babar; Dr. Seuss’s Horton (who heard a Who); Bart Simpson’s brief pet, Stampy; and Big Bird’s imaginary friend Snuffleupagus. Another fan favourite is Elephant Ears donuts, because there’s never a bad donut and these cinnamon-sugar sprinkled gems are no exception.

elephant-dancing-snufflin

Leopards:

Famous leopards are about as rare as spotting the cat in the wild. The leopard is the only major African animal that we didn’t see on our recent vacation and our guide told us in all his years of taking tourists through Africa, he’s only seen a handful, himself. The only notable leopard that came to mind was Bagheera from The Jungle Book. His protective ways ensured young Mowgli’s survival in the wild.

Giraffes:

Youngsters today may not know about Geoffrey, the Toys R’ Us mascot, but he played a huge role in my childhood. He made many of the children from my generation want to be a Toys R’ Us kid! Originally named Dr. G. Raffe, the spokesanimal has been with the company since 1957.

Hippos:

The board game Hungry Hungry Hippos painted a lighter image on these dangerous beasts, who are known to charge at the boats of tourists for no other reason than because they feel like it. Despite their antagonistic nature, there is still the classic Christmas song “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas”. Perhaps the little girl making the request just didn’t know any better.

hungry-hippos-game

Crocodiles:

Perhaps the most famous crocodile is Tick-Tock, the tormentor of Capt. James Hook and the beast that took the pirate’s hand. Crocodiles are often depicted as bad guys. This includes Killer Croc, a frequent nemesis of Batman; King K. Rool, the thorn in the side of Donkey Kong and his extended family; and the Fraternity of Crocodiles, from the comic Pearls Before Swine, who are often in pursuit of zebras (or zeebas as the frat calls them), despite their minimal intelligence.

Quick Hits:

Zebras: Fruit Stripe Zebra – Given the gum’s appearance, it was natural that Fruit Stripe would adopt a Zebra as its mascot

Cheetahs: I’ve enjoyed the recent Cheetos commercials starring Chester Cheetah, as he helps snackers get their share of the cheese-flavoured grub

Meerkats: In the real world, there was the popular Meerkat Manor nature series… in animation, we of course had Timon from The Lion King

Warthog: Speaking of Timon, you can’t forget his buddy Pumbaa… and just like the previously mentioned Rocksteady took after a rhino, his thug pal Bebop was mutated from a warthog

Hyenas: One last time we go back to The Lion King, with this pack of cackling baddies: Shenzi, Banzai, and Ed

Flavour Revolution: Golden Apple

  • 1.5 oz Amarula Gold
  • Top with Apple Juice
  • Splash of Sour Apple Mixer
  • Garnish with an Apple Slice

Many of these animals comprise the Big 5 (lions, leopards, elephants, buffalos, and rhinos), placed in that group because of their difficulty in hunting. There are also a Small 5 (elephant shrew, buffalo weaver, leopard tortoise, ant lion, rhino beetle), based on miniature versions of the Big 5, as well as an Ugly 5 (warthog, hyena, marabou stork, vulture, and wildebeest), which is kind of self-explanatory.

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December 8 – Naughty List

Christmas Crazes

It seems that every year there is a couple hot toys that parents just must have. That’s right, I said parents and not kids. In most cases, I believe it is the parents who want to grab that special something for their child more than it being the kid who absolutely needs that item. Call me crazy (I’m sure you have), but kids are pretty stupid and if you just occupy their little minds with something else, they’ll forget all about the craze going on. Here are some of the most notorious toys that caused so much chaos:

Tickle Me Elmo (1996)

Man, I hate Elmo. He takes attention away from the real treasures of Sesame Street: Bert and Ernie, Snuffleupagus, the Count, Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, and Cookie Monster. Tyco, the makers of the Tickle Me Elmo did one great example of marketing and sent the toys to talk show host Rosie O’Donnell. When she threw them out to her audience, her obsessive fan following flipped their shit and went into hyper overdrive trying to track down one of the products for themselves. Had Tyco sent the dolls to Oprah, Elmo would now be master and ruler of the world by now. At the height of the craze, buyers were forced to shell out thousands of dollars to get their hand on the vibrating doll… at least it had adult appeal, as well!

taser_me_elmo

Teddy Ruxpin (1985)

Mrs. Sip owned one of these stuffed bears that would read you stories when you put a tape inside them… that means I have ol’ Mr. Ruxpin to blame for all the times she’s rather read than be amorous with the Sip Advisor… stupid bear. Then they gave Teddy his own TV series, which thankfully doesn’t cause Mrs. Sip to stay up late watching old reruns, while I work to warm the bed all by my lonesome. Well, Teddy Ruxpin may have won some battles, but I will have the last laugh in my ongoing war with the bear. While the toy was last produced in 2005, I’m still around and kicking. Now I just need to eliminate that book, TV, movie, music, and phone competition!

Cabbage Patch Kids (1983)

Ah, the year of my birth… when all was right in the world and a new savior had arrived to quell the fears of the masses. Only I was too little to stop the chaos of that Christmas shopping season when Cabbage Patch Kids hit the market and turned parents into psycho shoppers. The dolls sold like hotcakes and demand rose sharply with the lack of supplies. One notable case saw a woman in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, take over a Toys ‘R’ Us location with weaponry that included a BB gun and a freakin’ spork! I mean, how awesome were the 80’s? We didn’t need real weapons to get what we wanted. Parents today should be ashamed of themselves.

Furby (1998)

Mrs. Sip’s sister received one of these abominations last year and it was funny for about 30 seconds before we all wanted to destroy the demonic object. More than a decade earlier, the Furby was the hottest toy on the market (before cell phones and tablets, of course). Parents fell over themselves trying to get one to babysit their children and resale prices soared from a retail value of $35 to $300, in some cases. Internet scams were also prevalent as toys were advertised for sale, but never arrived for the buyer. Due to a lack of Furby’s produced, supplies ran out, driving up demand for the bizarre little robot.

Furby

Beanie Babies (1995)

It’s hard to believe, but there are many tales out there of folks snatching up these collectibles because they thought they could later retire to a life of luxury, living off of the proceeds from re-selling these toys. Sadly, the market they hoped for never materialized, despite the designers work to make Beanie Babies a collectors dream by retiring old designs and flooding the market with new characters regularly. There are stories of people buying McDonald’s Happy Meals to get the Beanie Baby sold with it, only to throw away the food (huge party foul) and a number of robberies took place at collectible stores for the stuffed animals.

Zhu Zhu Pets (2009)

If you believe the urban legends, these robotic hamster toys have to be a favourite of one Richard Gere! I can attest that Mrs. Sip and myself tracked a few of these down for her little cousin back then, but perhaps with the advancement of internet shopping and people preferring to be shut-ins and never leave their home, we didn’t have any issues finding them at stores. You’re asking, is it really a craze then? Well, prices for the $8 toy jumped $35-$40 on eBay when up for auction. The availability was more likely due to conflicting reports of the hamsters being poisonous (one group said they had high levels of antimony, while another said the level was acceptable) and adequate supplies being shipped by the company.

Drink #342: Naughty List

Naughty List Drink Recipe

  • 1 oz Amaretto (I used Disaronno)
  • 1 oz Gin
  • 1 oz Crème de Banane
  • Top with Lemon-Lime Soda
  • Splash of Grenadine
  • Garnish with a Maraschino Cherry

Honourable mentions go to Pogs, Razor Scooters, the Rubix Cube, and basically every video game system to be released. While I appreciate any efforts my parents made to get me any of these iconic toys, I have to say that I will not do the same for my unborn kin. I’ll leave that for Mrs. Sip!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3 Sips out of 5):
I think there’s too much going on in this cocktail. The Crème de Banane taste comes through the strongest and then you get hit with the competing flavours of Amaretto, Gin, Lemons, Limes, Grenadine, etc. My goal with the garnish was to give the impression of having a naughty and a nice list. Which one is which, is totally up to you little sippers!

November 29 – Black Friday

Bloody Friday

I’ve never taken part in a Black Friday shopping event, at home or abroad. I don’t like crowds, waking up early, and the idea of fighting over limited deals. I did do Boxing Day shopping on a couple of occasions when Mrs. Sip and I were in our early dating years and those were bad enough that we fazed them out. Good thing, too, here are some of the craziest Black Friday stories!

black-friday-trample

Door Crashers

In 2008, a 34-year-old Wal-Mart employee was trampled to death in Valley Stream, New York when Black Friday consumers stampeded into the store. Shoppers continued to pour into the location, despite the injury and co-workers trying to stop the rush and help their fallen comrade. Even police where shoved by deal-seekers as they tried to assist on the scene. A pregnant woman was also hurt in the incident, begging the question: what the hell was she doing there in the first place!?

Toys R’ Us Kid

On the same day, across the country, two people were shot and killed following an altercation at a Toys ‘R’ Us store in Palm Desert, California. As two women began fighting, their respective male counterparts pulled guns on each other and ended up killing one another (no loss there!). The incident was said to be more personal than a fight over merchandise and could have been gang-related. When I go to Toys ‘R’ Us, I’m always packing heat!

Cutting Edge

In 2010, a woman was arrested outside a Toys ‘R’ Us (what is with people shopping for their kids?) in Madison, Wisconsin after cutting in line and threatening to shoot people who objected to her budging. No cuts, no butts, no coconuts, am I right! Lanessa Lattimore was quoted as saying, “I just wanted to get my daughter the toy that she wanted for Christmas, which probably won’t be there when I go today.” Did ya think they might restock sometime in the next month!?

Black Friday Savings

Pour Some Pepper On Me

In Porter Ranch, California, in 2011, a woman used pepper spray on fellow shoppers to “get an advantage” on them over discounted Xbox 360 video game systems. This was in a wealthy suburb, of all places! The attack injured about 20 shoppers and unfortunately, the perpetrator got away in the chaos… whether she was also able to grab her prized Xbox is unknown. You have to hope that at some point, karma comes back to haunt this loser.

‘Tis the Season

In 2011, Walter Vance, 61, collapsed after entering a Target store on Black Friday and later died in hospital from a previously known heart condition. These things happen, but the tragedy comes when people stepped over the man and continued their shopping while he was in distress. I have to point out, if you know you have a heart condition, why in the hell are you joining the madness of Black Friday… and this dude should have known better, he was a freakin’ pharmacist! Worst yet, apparently all he wanted was Christmas decorations. As if those couldn’t have waited!

Black Friday Survival

Parking Wars

Sometimes folks don’t even get into the stores before violence breaks out on Black Friday. Two people were shot outside a Wal-Mart in Tallahassee, Florida after a dispute over a parking spot. I think one of the things I hate most in life is crowded parking lots and the whole pursuit of a suitable spot. I know I’m far from the only one who gets put on edge as you spend countless time going up and down aisles hoping for an opening and when you finally find one, you feel like celebrating… with gun shots!

Love at First Line

Things aren’t all bad, though, on Black Friday. In 1991, two random people lined up outside a K-Mart in Valley Stream, New York and made small talk as they waited for seven hours for the store’s doors to open. Two years later, they married and in 2009, Matthew and Michaelle Tulloch, won a $1,000 shopping spree at Best Buy for sharing their story in an essay contest. The couple now has two kids and celebrates every Black Friday the same way they spent that fateful day in 1991.

Drink #333: Black Friday

Black Friday Drink Recipe

  • 1.5 oz Bourbon (I used Jim Beam Black Cherry)
  • Top with half Ginger Ale and half Cola
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Garnish with Crushed Lime Wedges

Did you know that the last Friday before Christmas has also been dubbed ‘Black Friday’ in the United Kingdom, due to it being a popular night for office Christmas parties and the resulting need for emergency services following hard drinking and an increase in fights!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
I really liked this cocktail thanks to its taste and simplicity. My favourite touch of the entire recipe is to use Crushed Lime Wedges which are meant to honour the many that have been trampled attending these Black Friday sales. I thought that was such a great idea and tried to reflect that in my work.