Posted on January 11th, 2017 No comments
RIP Buddy Greco, August 14, 1926 – January 10, 2017
The first time I ever heard Buddy Greco was on the radio. It was in the early 1980s, and I used to listen to a “nostalgia” station, WRDR, FM 105 out of Egg Harbor City in New Jersey. After the commercial break, his trademark intro to “The Lady Is A Tramp” swung out in glorious stereo, and I was hooked.
A few days later I heard what was to become my favorite Greco tune, “Around the World”.
Sinatra, Steve and Edie, Sammy Davis Jr, Martin, Prima…all pioneers of the swingin’ style that would eventually be associated with Vegas lounge & showroom acts. But Buddy Greco took it to the next level, and held it there just at the brink of being overdone. Whenever someone today spoofs or tosses fun at the lounge acts of mid-century Vegas, it’s not really Sinatra they’re imitating…it’s Greco, and they can’t come close to his stylistic perfection.
Even his ballads were well swung.
Buddy was also and accomplished jazz/lounge pianist, who would have been as at home in smokey bar as a concert hall. Here’s Misty:
And though his music spanned 80 years and several genres including county and pop, what I think we’ll miss most about my fellow Philadelphian is his vibrant, energetic, original swinging vocals and on-stage attitude that makes him, in my book, the all time King of Lounge.
Later, Buddy. Catch you on the flip side.
Tiki Chris, reporting from the Hi Fi Lounge at Tiki Lounge Talk
Posted on January 3rd, 2017 No comments
Happy Tiki New Year!
Hope you have lots of fun stuff planned for 2017. Here’s a look back to New Year’s from 1957-58 with Guy Lombardo!
Posted on July 25th, 2016 No comments
It’s not often you come across a huge discount for some place as great as the Mai Kai Polynesian Restaurant and Tiki Lovers’ Dream. Right now, they are offering a LivingSocial deal: $25 gets you $50 towards dinner. Since most of their dinners are in the $25 range, it’s like getting a buy-one-get-0ne-free entree!
No doubt they are offering this because summer is the “slow season” here in sunny South Florida. Which means you’ll probably be able to enjoy your dinner in quiet semi-privacy in one of the themed dining rooms (the offer isn’t available with the show).
If you haven’t been there before, for under $20 I would suggest the beef or chicken teriyaki, the lobster bisque, the Hawaiian rice (ask them to add some pineapple to it), or any of the meats prepared in the Chinese ovens (the steaks are very pricey, but worth the unique taste). Actually we’ve eaten there dozens of times and have never had a bad meal, so anything on the menu is sure to wow. Note that everything except the prix fix menu is ala carte, so plan your bucks accordingly (I’m not sure the offer is available with the fixed-price menu). Also note that they change and update their menu often!
Of course drinks are not included in the offer, and you’re going to want drinks. There are always half price drink specials. Tiki cocktails start in the $10 range and average around $13-15 for a strong drink (like a Mai Tai or Jet Pilot). Considering you’re getting the absolute best cocktails made from the original 50+ year old recipes, that ain’t bad, kids.
The Mai Kai has loosened their attire requirements over the years. When we first went in 2001, they wouldn’t even let you in if you had on shorts and a T-shirt. You couldn’t wear a hat, even in the lounge. Men were expected to wear a jacket.
The last time we were there, there were people in the lounge wearing the same thing you’d wear to go to McDonald’s. It’s a crying shame that people don’t appreciate the special-ness of getting dressed up to go to a fancy joint like the Mai Kai, but that’s our society today. However, if you’re hep to dressing to the nines, you won’t look out of place there. A common theme of course is to wear Hawaiian shirts; some of us old time hipsters swing an Aloha shirt with white linen pants and a casual sport coat like they did in the 1940s and ’50s. I’ve seen the ladies wear anything from Hawaiian print dresses to evening wear, and of course vintage outfits. It all goes, and it all goes great!
The Mai Kai offer is good for 120 days after purchase, and has some fine print…the basics are the usual stuff:
• Limit 5 per customer, additional as gifts
• Limit 1 per table per visit
• Reservations required and subject to availability
• Valid only in non-show dining rooms
• Valid only for dine-in
• Not valid on Saturdays
• Excludes happy hour, early bird menu, BOGO, and in combination with any other discounts or promotions
To get the offer go to LivingSocial here. Remember, these offers only run for a limited time, so you’ll want to buy yours quickly…I’m posting this on Monday, July 25th, 2016, so if you’re a time traveler reading this in the future, you’ll know when to set your machine to.
Cheers, and see you at the Mai Kai, kids!
-Tiki Chris, reporting from the lanai at Tiki Lounge Talk
Posted on February 9th, 2016 No comments
75 years ago, John Huston unleashed onto an unsuspecting public a film that would become one of, if not the most iconic gumshoe detective mystery movies of all time, The Maltese Falcon.
You can’t utter the words “Film Noir” without The Maltese Falcon coming to mind. From Bogart’s portrayal of Dashiell Hammett’s Sam Spade, to the multiple twists and turns, to the bitter ending, this slice of the dark side of peoples’ lives has become the standard by which all other films of its kind are measured.
And now it’s back on the Silver Screen, in glorious black and white, for its 75th anniversary. Now that’s the stuff that dreams are made of.
Tiki Chris, reporting from the screening room at Tiki Lounge Talk
Posted on February 8th, 2016 No comments
for Mod Movie Monday at Tiki Lounge Talk, starring Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Channing Tatum, Alden Ehrenreich, Hobie Doyle, Ralph Fiennes, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton.
(NO Spoilers, just some fun facts)
I won’t go into the basic idea of what the movie is about…you can read about that anywhere. I’m going to tell you why, as one who digs mid-century coolness, you will dig this movie and need to see it on the Big Screen.
“Hail, Caesar!” takes place sometime around 1950-51, and is set in Los Angeles (after all, it’s a movie about the movie business).
So here we are, transported back to the early 1950s. Now you might expect the movie to hit us over the head with imagery and symbolism of that era. Well, the Coen Brothers (The Big Lebowski, No Country for Old Men, Fargo, The Man Who Wasn’t There) are too good to resort to that kind of shtick. They have their own brand of shtick, and it’s subtle…it’s in the spoofiness of the whole thing, and how every scene is shot in such a way that it reminds you of another movie, one from the actual era.
The movie starts off in a timeless way, then before you realize it, the nostalgia bits are added in and multiplied. These start out small (an actress taking “dirty pictures” (read: full but skimpy clothing) in the middle of the night, a meeting at the Imperial Garden (“They have the best Mai Tai’s here), and time-establishing shots of Brolin’s wristwatch, which looked like it was probably from the 1930s.
From there the Hollywood spoofing takes center stage, with incredibly fun scenes that mimic some of our favorite movies from the 1930s, 40s and 50s. These scenes include an aquatic dance number complete with mermaid (think Ester Williams), a cowboy guitar & song (Gene Autry), and a fully-executed sailor dance number that would have fit right in to “On the Town” (well, most of it). Watching that sequence featuring Channing Tatum, all I could think was, Gene Kelley and Frank Sinatra are looking down and laughing their asses off. Well done.
And then of course there’s George Clooney’s character, they typical big star, a playboy and the kind of 1950s actor who could bring tears to an audience with one line. Also, not so bright, and easily influenced, which helps carry the main story line to a really fun and cool ending. I applaud Clooney for taking this role, and he was fantastic in it.
But the real juiciness it that dotted throughout the movie is pretty much EVERY possible nod the era’s nostalgia and movies of the time, including:
A mid-century modern Malibu house overlooking the ocean (compete with bar)
Close-up of the Cadillac nameplate on the chrome dashboard of the car
A lasso-wielding singing cowboy who does his own stunts
4-button multiline telephones
Vaudeville/slapstick comedy (where you least expect it)
Hollywood cover-ups (I won’t spoil it)
Carmen Miranda-ish character
Dance routines out of nowhere
Actual songs from the era, as background music
Romans (of course)
Black and White “artsy” movie within the movie, with odd camera angles
Over-dramatic, high-society type director who is incredibly serious about his musical
“Epic” movie splash screen
Backlot shots of Roman columns next to modern cars
Stars who’ve had multiple marriages
The future of aviation (Lockheed)
The future of TV replacing movies
Intellectuals sitting around discussing things but not taking action (until they take action)
Cool Chinese Restaurant/Almost a Tiki Bar
1950’s Housewife (with a line to her husband something like “You know what’s best”)
One of those old lawn chairs with the plastic webbing
Old movie cameras
Dailies complete with cards that say things like “Big Credits Here”,
The Ester Williams-style number is incredibly fun to watch, as is Tatum’s dance routine (I like that the movie gives us full numbers, not just a 15 second snippet). Even the cowpoke’s song is a hoot.
So, my recommendation…It’s a great movie, fun plot, exceptional characters, the right amount of nostalgia without it being obvious, unbelievable dance numbers, and laugh-out-loud comedy, plus visuals that will make you wish you lived back in 1951.
-Tiki Chris P. reporting from the screening room at Capitol Studios, Hollywood.