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  • Too Hot To Tiki?

    Posted on August 31st, 2011 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 3 comments

    palm-tree-beach-largejpgJust a short musing…

    While the rest of the country is looking forward to cooler fall weather, we here in South Florida are smack dab in the middle of hottest time of year. Our “summer” lasts long after Halloween is over, and “fall” is just a concept in our minds. The end of August means hot, humid days and rainy evenings are promised for at least another month.

    Now don’t you cats & kitties get me wrong…I ain’t complaining. I love the heat and the screwy weather. It’s just that when it’s 85° at 9:00 o’clock at night, it’s not so nice to sit out on the lanai and drink booze at the outdoor Tiki bar. Unless of course you can jump in the pool.

    -Tiki Chris P.

  • Prest-o-lite: A Vintage Advertising Thermometer from my past

    Posted on July 28th, 2011 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 1 comment

    pretolite-thermometerEvery once and a while I like to post about junk I have laying around the house. This little goodie is a vintage (original, not repro) advertising wall thermometer.

    Prest-o-lite batteries were the cream of the crop back in the 1930’s when this little gem was new. A wall thermometer like this would likely have been given to a gas station or service shop owner as a promo gift, to hang on the wall in the shop or outside by the pumps. It’s built of heavy gauge steel, and the graphics appear to be silk-screened with some heavy-duty pre-war lead-based tough-as-nails paint. It’s about two feet tall, and has a nice three-dimensional art deco look.

    Like everything else I write about, it has a story. When I was a kid, living in the suburbs of Atlantic City, there was a very kool old house (built in the early 1920s) across the street from us. It was stucco, had a drive-in basement/garage, hardwood floors and the original 1920s sink and fixtures in the kitchen. Yes, very kool. It also had a couple of acres of nicely-kept land, including a glass and wood green house. As years went by, the owners passed on and the house became a rental. By the time I was in high school it had deteriorated to a heap of crap, and was torn down. Today it is still an empty field. Yay progress.

    Anyway, when I was a teenager a family with a son my age moved into the house and we became friends. One day we were exploring what was left of the then dilapidated greenhouse, and found this thermometer nailed to a post inside. I offered the dumbass $3 bucks for it, and he happily took it (and proceeded to spend it on a Slurpy and some video games). That was 1984. It now hangs in our library room, right next to where I’m typing this post.

    Note the rather large, circular blemish in the middle of the battery graphic. That is a dent…not a hole, a dent…made by a .38 caliber bullet. Not sure why anyone shot the sign. Maybe I’ll use that for my next murder mystery novel. In any case, the kid kept the slug. I got the sign.

    What’s it worth? Who knows. To some collectors it would need to be mint condition to bring top dollar. To others, the authenticity of its used condition makes it worth more. I’ve never seen another one like in the last 25 years. Maybe it’s worth $300 clams. Maybe 50. Maybe more…but it’s not for sale, so it don’t matter much now, do it?

    I’ve had this thing for over 25 years. I’m guessing it will make a nice ornament on the lid of my coffin someday.

    -Tiki Chris Pinto, bestselling author (soon) of Murder on Tiki Island, reporting from the Library Room (What the hell is a “library room”???)

  • Murder, Sex, Ghosts & The Jersey Shore: Murder Behind the Closet Door

    Posted on July 16th, 2011 "Tiki Chris" Pinto No comments
    Murder Behind the Closet Door, The Wildwood Paranormal Mystery By Tiki Chris Pinto

    Murder Behind the Closet Door, The Wildwood Paranormal Mystery By Tiki Chris Pinto

    Murder Behind the Closet Door: The Wildwood Paranormal Mystery by Christopher “Tiki Chris” Pinto, paperback now ON SALE for only $10.76 at Amazon.com!

    Many of you who follow this swingin’ B-Lounge already know that yours truly is an aspiring writer millionaire.

    Last year I published my first full-length retro-style neo-noir novel, Murder Behind the Closet Door. Original price for the 600-page masterpiece was $16.95, $3.95 for the kindle version. A hefty price tag for any tome, but everyone who’s read it has said it is worth it 🙂

    A few months ago I re-tooled the layout to bring the paperback down to a more manageable (and less intimidating) 425 pages, at a tag of $14.95. Sales increased!

    Well, Amazon has done me the great favor of running a DISCOUNT on the book now, which makes it even more enticing! Now you can get the paperback in all its glory for only $10.76, a fantastic bargain for this wild ride. Or, of course, you can still pick it up on Kindle or Nook for $3.95.

    Why buy this book?

    Good question. Let me just take a sip of my coffee and bourbon, and I’ll lay it down for you (siiiiiip).

    Hudson House, one of the two haunted houses in Murder Behind the Closet Door

    Hudson House, one of the two haunted houses in Murder Behind the Closet Door

    This book swings you back in time to Wildwood and Wildwood Crest, the grooviest, funnest towns on the Jersey Shore (sorry Asbury Park, you’ve got nothing on Wildwood). The action starts with a heart-wrenching murder…as experienced by the victim…then moves into the life of Heather, a 22-year old woman starting her life as marketing manager for the famous Hunt’s Pier on the Wildwood Boardwalk in 1979.

    Almost immediately her story turns to one of mystery and fascination, as she admits to being haunted by an entity in her closet. This all seems innocent at first…

    The Wildwood Boardwalk, 1970s

    The Wildwood Boardwalk, 1970s

    Using my own style of flashback, character-weaving and time-rearrangement, the story unfolds to reveal a multi-layered plot of murder, revenge, phantoms, wartime coverups, denial, hot women, the afterlife and the people who protect us from myriad unseen demons. All of this wraps itself around a solid, noir-gumshoe style detective story, featuring one of the freshest, most interesting and exciting hero detectives to come along since Mike Hammer (IMHO), Detective Bill Riggins. (Riggins is also featured as the main character in my latest novel, Murder on Tiki Island, and will continue his adventures in the upcoming Murder Under the Boards: The Atlantic City Murder Mystery.)

    For an in-depth look at Murder Behind the Closet Door, visit the MBTCD official website.

    OK, that sounds cool, but why should I think Tiki Chris’ writing is worth 11 bucks?

    Fair question. Short answer is if you dig what you read here, you will absolutely dig this book, and my other writings.

    "Tiki" Chris Pinto, old-school style

    "Tiki" Chris Pinto, old-school style

    Although I compare the book to those of Stephen King, Mickey Spillane, Raymond Chandler and Dean Koontz, my style doesn’t copy any of theirs…my style is my own, hammered out over 30+ years of writing, learning, experiencing and, well, drinking.

    I’ve been writing since I was 12, winning a prize from the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin for a short story, then taking a stab at writing a full-length musical (entitled “Swingtime”) which was performed at my high school during my senior year (it too was a neo-noir style drama).

    In 1989 I picked up the pen for my first paid advertising assignment, and have been writing advertising copy professionally (and making typos) ever since (just like Mad Men, I’m the Creative Director of a national ad agency…except my office is in Hollywood, Florida, not CA).

    "Tiki" Chris Pinto and Jeannette Pereda in "One Crazy Mystery", Stardust Productions, 1995

    "Tiki" Chris Pinto and Jeannette Pereda in "One Crazy Mystery", Stardust Productions, 1995

    That same year I formed Star Dust Productions Mystery Theater, and began writing and producing comedy plays and murder mysteries, mostly for dinner theater settings. With my wife Colleen, we successfully ended a 10-year span of over 400 performances of six different shows (written by me) with a 1930s radio show performance on the Ocean City Music Pier, NJ.

    After moving to South Florida in 2000, I decided to turn my talents toward writing noir fiction, and began a series of short stories and flash fiction (due out in book form & ebook this summer). A flood of memories from my shore days in Jersey came with the move, and in 2002 I sat down to write my first novel. I decided to make it something I’d want to read myself, something fun and full of action, something spooky yet believable, with interesting characters and an unusual plot line. At 2am on a thunder-filled south Florida night, “Behind the Closet Door” was born.

    Today, I write for The Fort Lauderdale Examiner, manage the Facebook Retro Tiki Lounge, and of course run amock here at Tiki Lounge Talk.

    So, yeah, I’ve got some experience as a writer, right? So trust me, the book is solid.

    What makes Detective Riggins so special?

    .45 Auto used by Detective Riggins in Murder Behind the Closet Door

    .45 Auto used by Detective Riggins in Murder Behind the Closet Door

    Riggins is not your regular ole goodie-two-shoes, uphold-the-law kind of guy that you read about in most books or see in a lot of flicks. To say he’s flawed is a true understatement. He’s big, tough, sarcastic, arrogant and has his own code of conduct and sense of morality that doesn’t always jive with the establishment, but he’s smart enough to stay out of most trouble, and to get away with dealing out justice the way he personally thinks it should be dealt. He does some screwed up stuff but in the end you’ll find yourself on his side, routing for him to succeed. He’s an old-time tough-guy cop with a young, hard-drinkin’ jazz-diggin’ spirit. He learned how to kill on the battlefields of Korea and still carries his military-issue .45 automatic. He likes hot rods and fast women and doesn’t have time to settle down with just one dame. He’s a New York vice cop who has a deep hatred for pushers yet a soft spot for junkies and hookers, as he usually sees them as victims. He doesn’t have many friends on the force; he prefers to hang out with beat musicians and barflies, as he finds them much more interesting. And somehow, for reasons he’ll never learn (but you will), he seems to attract the spirits of the murdered dead.

    If you’ve read through this whole long-assed post, I guarantee you will truly dig this book. You can read the first few pages on Amazon, and can find snippets of it at Stardust Mysteries Publishing or the official Murder Behind the Closet Door website.

    Oh, and if you do dig it, please post a review on Amazon.com. Every little bit helps, and maybe someday you can say you’re pals with a famous mystery writer 😉

    -Tiki Chris Pinto reporting from the library at Tiki Island Resort, Florida
    Tiki Lounge Talk – Everyone’s favorite B-Lounge for kookie retro fun stuff!

  • Futurama TV Show uses Tiki Chris Pinto’s Car in Season 6 Episode 16!

    Posted on July 11th, 2011 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 1 comment

    Futurama's hot rod on top, my CUSTOM 53 Chevy hot rod with fins I designed myself on the bottom.

    Futurama's hot rod on top, my CUSTOM 53 Chevy hot rod with fins I designed myself on the bottom.

    YES, it is true. The proof is in the photos! There is only ONE 1953 Chevrolet Bel Air in the WORLD with my custom-made shark fins, and it’s sitting in my garage. Now, another appears to exist 1000 years in the future.

    Imagine my surprise while watching the new episode of Futurama last week, a show I’ve watched and dug since it first aired in 2000, when the “Tron” motorcycle cop/car chase scene so obviously used my own, custom designed hot rod as the car being chased! My jaw dropped, as you might have guessed. Good think I had it on TiVo so I could rewind it and watch over again to make sure I wasn’t nuts.

    Futurama's car, and my 1953 Chevy, from the back. The fins are exactly the same. And I designed them.

    Futurama's car, and my 1953 Chevy, from the back. The fins are exactly the same. And I designed them.

    It’s not just the fins…the overall look of the car is absolutely an early 1950’s GM vehicle, which is common in the show (Futurama was the name of the GM auto shows in the 50s, and also their shows at the World’s Fairs). Specifically it has the same rounded look as the 1954-54 Chevy, and even has a similar grill and side molding. But none of those cars had fins. In fact, all the GM cars of the 50s had fins that mimicked jet planes and rockets, never sharks, like these.

    The front-side view of the Futurama Car, and my 1953 Chevy. Tell me they didn't copy mine! I dare ya.

    The front-side view of the Futurama Car, and my 1953 Chevy. Tell me they didn't copy mine! I dare ya.

    Now, of course the cartoon car is highly stylized…for the cartoon. Plus it’s in “TRON” mode. But the similarities are unmistakable. I really can’t imagine anyone else in the world pairing these exact style sharkfins with what is absolutely an early 1950’s stylized Chevy. Sure, there’s is a 2-door, and, well, it’s a hovercar. But…

    I’m actually very honored that they used my personal custom design in an episode. That puts my lil’ old 53 Chevy Star Dust right up there with The Warecar (The CAR), Christine, the Original Warecar (the original Batmobile) and the 59 Caddy hovercars that appear often in the show.

    My '53 Chevy Hot Rod

    My '53 Chevy Hot Rod

    If anyone from Hollywood sees this, please tell Mat Groenig thanks, and I’d really like a signed cell or photo of the cast as a thank you.

    Check out my car’s website at 53ChevyHotRod.com, and see for yourself how close it is!

    You can see the clip the car is featured in at Comedy Central.

    -Tiki Chris Pinto reporting from the garage at Tiki Lounge Talk.

  • An old photo, me & my 1940 LaSalle

    Posted on July 8th, 2011 "Tiki Chris" Pinto No comments

    1940-lasalle-chris-pintoI came across this photo today. It’s a picture of me, pre-Tiki days, with my 1940 LaSalle. I was 13, the photo was taken in 1982.

    How does a 13 year old kid get his hands on a then 40+ year old classic car? Well, my old man loved to buy and sell old cars. He’d get them cheap, fix them up, sometimes paint them, and sell them for a profit. Today this would be called being a “automotive enthusiast”. Back then we called it hustling cars for bread.

    The short version of this story is that I had my own side business buying and selling go-karts, minibikes, even 1/4 midget racer and a Model T Ford midget car (like you see clowns drive in parades). In 1982, I traded the Model T for a real 1941 Dodge Luxury Liner sedan. Eventually I made my way into buying this 1940 LaSalle Sedan for $400…a barn find. My buddy Steve and I would pretend to drive it, actually dubbing it the “Air Car”, a car that could go from cruising the country highways of South Jersey to flying above the Pine Barrens. Well, this was before video games and internet so we had to be creative.

    I traded this beauty for a 66 Olds Toronado, and eventually made my way up to the 1974 Caddy Eldorado Convertible I had a few years ago. I sold that and put the money into my 53 Chevy Hot Rod, which I’ve had since 1990.chrischevyatdoor

    The point of all this is that at 42 years old I still feel like the goofy kid in the photo, hanging out with vintage cars and never actually finishing any of them. And apparently I still pose the same way, too.

    -Tiki Chris Reporting from the garage at Tiki Lounge Talk

    53 Chevy in Primer

    53 Chevy in Primer