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  • The X Files: Why Lovers of Mid-Century Culture Should Dig This Show

    Posted on January 24th, 2016 "Tiki Chris" Pinto No comments

    xfiles-logoThe short reason: Because science fiction is a huge part of mid-century American pop culture, and The X Files derives its main plot from the “little green men” who started visiting us (according to believers) in 1947.

    The crash-landing of a UFO in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947 really kick-started the Martian-based sci-fi craze of the 1950s. Sure, science fiction movies and novels, etc. had been around for decades at that point (no one can forget Orson Wells’ 1939 broadcast of “War of the Worlds”), but when the public got its first taste of real rocket-aged stories of flying saucers and short, green aliens, the genre took off…and hasn’t really let up since.

    Before Roswell, UFO sightings were few and far between, and were usually written-off as unsophisticated people mistaking modern airplanes or – yes – weather balloons for space ships. The “cigar-shaped metallic object” that was usually reported more-often really was just an aluminum-skinned plane, seen by people who may have never even seen a motorcar or Streamliner train in their lives. Consequently, most sightings weren’t widely reported.

    This shot could have been from 1962, easily.

    This shot could have been from 1962, easily.

    But after that fateful night in Roswell generated so much hype and interest, the media, sci-fi authors and movie execs realized they had a money-making bonanza at their fingertips. Comics, movies, TV shows, books…you name it were all fair game to perpetuate the Martian/UFO phenomenon.

    As the Roswell UFO event began looking more and more like a government cover-up, the media and entertainment industry used it to fuel the fires of government conspiracy theories. Suddenly, our government which had protected us, seen us through WW2 and saved the world, was being viewed as a secretive, manipulative and even lying entity that was completely out of reach of the American people. Add to that the anxiety that came with post-WW2 Cold War-era threats of atomic war, the perceived threat of a communist takeover of the world, and still mysterious circumstances surrounding the JFK assassination…the entertainment industry had the perfect cocktail of public fears to play on. And play they did…with thousands of movies, TV shows, books etc. making billions of bucks along the way.

    Tell me this guy doesn't look like something out of a 1950s sci-fi movie.

    Tell me this guy doesn’t look like something out of a 1950s sci-fi movie.

    The X Files takes us back to that era, both in its basic mythology and in actual flashbacks to the 1940s, 50s and 60s. The show does a fantastic job combining the alien abduction theory with a government conspiracy, hiding a truth so horrific that even the greatest movies, books and TV shows of the era wouldn’t dare ponder. And interspersed with the alien mythology are the “Monster of the Week” episodes, giving us a cool, re-imagined view of some of the most interesting concepts to come out of mid-century sci-fi, from human-like creepy creatures to eerie paranormal mysteries. It’s like watching a modern take on the greatest parts from The Outer Limits, The Twilight Zone, Night Gallery and all those ’50s monster movies put together. Don’t believe me? Look for yourself…The truth is out there.

    Sure, the original X Files series was filmed and takes place in the 1990s, complete with large-shoulder padded suits, crappy cars and a curious lack of cell phones and internet, but if you can get past that, watch it for the reasons I shared above. I’m confident you’ll dig it.

    X Files "I want to Believe" poster...wait a minute, that space ship looks very familiar...

    X Files “I want to Believe” poster…wait a minute, that space ship looks very familiar…

    The New X Files short series starts tonight at 10pm. I really hope it starts off with a cool space ship, like the one that landed in our front yard last week.

    -Tiki Chris reporting from the media lounge at Pirate’s Cove Tiki Bar, Florida

     

  • A Few Words About David Bowie…

    Posted on January 11th, 2016 "Tiki Chris" Pinto No comments
    David Bowie, 1967

    David Bowie, 1967

    On the day of his passing, January 10, 2016, here’s a few words about David Bowie, may he rest in rock n roll heaven:

    Although not considered a part of the mid-century music that we love here at the Tiki Lounge, many people don’t realize that Bowie’s career began way back in 1962, when he played sax in a band he formed with his friends. He was truly part of the “new generation” of kids that dug rock n roll over swing and jazz, and of course went on to be one of the musicians who transformed the music landscape. For this reason, I believe he should be remembered as part of the history of mid-century culture.

    Although not my personal taste, I appreciate how Bowie’s music touched millions, including many of those who grew up on Tommy Dorsey and Bing Crosby, who expanded their musical tastes later in life (my Mother was one of those people…born in 1943, she became a huge fan of musicians like Bowie, Hendrix, etc.) And although not my taste, a few of his songs, to me, broke through and stood aside from his usual format, songs like Let’s Dance (borrowing the title from the 1930s/40s Make Believe Ballroom theme and Benny Goodman’s opening theme), and the jazz chord-infused Changes, where Bowie plays the alto sax solos.

    So today we say goodbye to a true musician and artist, a man who devoted his life to his craft and to making people sing and dance. Cheers to you, David Bowie…the music in heaven just got a little more exciting now that you’re there.

    -Tiki Chris

     

  • Lychee Martini – Your Weekend Exotic Cocktail

    Posted on September 18th, 2015 "Tiki Chris" Pinto No comments

    lychee-martiniThere are exotic cocktails that live just on the edge of Tiki Lounge drink acceptability. These include more tropical/Caribbean drinks such as the Piña Colada and Dark and Stormy, and others that worked their way into Asian restaurants and Tiki bars over the last half century. One such concoction normally enjoyed at upscale Chinese restaurants, but that can be nicely added to your home Tiki drink menu is the

    Lychee Martini

    Exotic, tasty, and with an interesting look, the Lychee Martini is easy to make and fun to serve. After trying several recipes, I’ve found this one to be the most interesting and tasteful.

    Ingredients

    1 oz lychee liqueur
    2/3 ounce vodka
    1/4 tspn vanilla extract (real)
    1 dash Cointreau
    2 oz lychee syrup
    1 lychee fruit (canned fruit and juice is fine, it’s not easy to find them fresh, but of course use fresh if possible)
    Lychee fruits, for garnish

    Quarter-fill a cocktail shaker with crushed ice, top with cubed ice to about the 2/3 mark. Separately, crush one lychee in a glass and add all ingredients, mix well and add to shaker. Shake until the outside of the shaker starts to freeze up. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with lychees. Can also be garnished with a curl of shaved chocolate or an orchid for added flair.

    -Tiki Chris, reporting from behind the bar at Pirate’s Cove Tiki Lounge

  • Nui Nui – Your Weekend Tiki Cocktail

    Posted on September 4th, 2015 "Tiki Chris" Pinto No comments

    nuiThere are only a finite number of Tiki Cocktails in the world. Fortunately, that number is pretty high. And new exotic cocktails are being invented every day. But what’s really fun is when you stumble across a Tiki drink that dates back to the 1930s, that you haven’t had yet.

    Here’s a somewhat traditional recipe for just such a great:

    Nui Nui Exotic Cocktail

    In the true tradition of Tiki bar drinks, the Nui Nui blends rums, fresh juices, syrups and other exotic ingredients to create an enticing cocktail that’s perfectly balanced.

    The recipe:

    Crushed Ice
    4 oz amber good quality Carribean rum
    1 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
    1 oz freshly squeez orange juice
    1/2 oz Cinnamon Syrup
    1 1/2 teaspoons Vanilla Syrup
    1 1/2 teaspoons allspice liqueur
    2 dashes Angostura bitters
    2 spiral-cut orange peels

    Toss everything except the orange peels in a blender and blend on high until nice and frothy, just about 5 seconds but no more. Add about 8 oz crushed ice to two tall tiki mugs or glasses, pour drink into each and add additional crushed ice to fill.

    Coil an orange peel into each drink, with the top hanging over the rim of the glass for garnish. This drink also lends itself to getting creative with the garnish…anything from a tropical flower to speared pineapple, cherry and orange wedge, plus an umbrella if you dig it.

    -Tiki Chris, reporting from the Tiki Bar at that wonderful, mythical Pirate’s Cove Lounge on Tiki Island

    Don’t forget! International Exotic Cocktail Day is October 2nd this year!

  • MAD MEN Series Finale – One Last Comment

    Posted on May 17th, 2015 "Tiki Chris" Pinto No comments

    mad-men-peggy-donMay 17, 2015: Christopher “Tiki Chris” Pinto, author of several novels set in mid-century America, discusses his thoughts and ideas on the MAD MEN series on the eve of its series finale.

    They are calling it “The End of an Era”, a fun double entandre that eludes to both the end of the era that Mad Men represents, and the end of one of modern television’s most respected and acclaimed shows. It’s the series finale of a TV program that promised us a glimpse into the events and lives of our favorite era, the era of mid-century pop culture, of cocktails and Tiki bars, Bachelor Pad music and finned cars.

    And as we prepare to watch the finale, I have to admit I look back at the past 7 seasons with a bit of disappointment. Not in the quality of the show or its writing,  and certainly not in the fine acting. Not even in the enjoyment I’ve had watching it, absorbing it, and appreciating the small details and hidden meanings that made it so great. Just in the fact that it moved way too fast into the 1960s for my taste, and for most of my friends who also tuned in to watch a show about mid-century cocktail culture in the 1950s.

    Because when MAD MEN was first promoted, that’s exactly what it promised: A look into the lives of the cocktail culture set, played out during the 1950s, defined by the most notorious drunkards of the time, advertising executives. We got what we expected in season one, from sexy, accommodating secretaries in tight dresses to smarmy, misogynistic, Martini-swilling ad men with thin ties and pocket squares, driving big fancy cars and taking over the world one account at a time while their wives played the part of homemaker with the kids. We got to see incredible, larger than life ad pitches that rarely happen in the real world but fit perfectly into our imagination’s concept how the good old days must have been. And we were treated to all this eye candy with the best background tracks plucked from the Ultra Lounge series of Bachelor Pad and Exotica tunes of the day.

    But we were misled (by advertising!). Almost as soon as it started, the 1950s decade ended in MAD MEN, swinging us full-on into 1960 before the paint on Roger’s ’59 Caddy had a chance to dry. But we were OK with that, because, after all, it’s mostly agreed that the golden era of cocktails and mid-century pop ended somewhere around the time of Kennedy’s assassination, the coming of The Beatles, and escalation of the Vietnam war. So we figured “our show” would linger in the early ‘60s, maybe with more glorious flashbacks to the 1950s.

    cadillacs

    Car styling as well as advertising styles changed dramatically from the late 1950s to early 1960s. The elegance and grandeur of fins and chrome surrendered to a much more conservative look, and that was reflected in the simpler, plainer ads.

    Not so, of course, as this was not “our show”, it was Mathew Weiner’s. And Mr. Weiner happens to be a huge fan of 1960s pop culture. His intent from the start was to base the show at the END of the cocktail era, and show the drastic changes that took place in American culture in the 1960s. AMC may not have made that fact obvious in their advertising, but they sure as hell hooked us in.

    Don’t get me wrong…it’s a great story, and one that Mathew Weiner has told incredibly well, from a perspective not seen before. Let’s face it…whenever someone makes a show or movie about the 1960s, it’s always from the point of view of the young, the rebels, the hippies and college kids who wanted to change the world, not from “the man”, the established middle class who fully enjoyed the world they had created after WW2. It’s about time someone told the story of the anti-anti-establishment, the coolest cats and kittens who dug drinking at the Tiki bar and thought hippies were kooks.

    And yet, as the series comes to a close, I can’t help but personally ask, “Is That All There Is?” Couldn’t the show have lingered just a little more in the late 1950s/early 60s? Couldn’t there have been fewer time jumps, where the show could have done some more things with what was happening before the major culture-changing events of the 1960s, especially with advertising?

    It just seems to me, as a writer, that there were so many juicy things going on that got glossed over or completely ignored. For instance, color television made a huge impact on the industry. Directors and camera operators were suddenly faced with shooting TV spots that looked good in both black and white AND color. Production costs rose. More people needed to be hired to accommodate the changes. Agencies were in upheaval, trying to figure out how to accommodate the new medium while remaining profitable (just like they have with the internet). That alone would have made a good season thread, if not a multi-show plot line.
    And what about changes in the auto industry? Sterling-Cooper made every effort to get a car on the roster. But the show never went into how difficult it was to effectively advertise/market automobiles at a time (1959-64) when horsepower, styles and tastes were changing faster than the liquor bottles on Don’s minibar. Back then car styles changed pretty drastically every one or two years. When you consider that today’s models usually stay exactly the same for 5-8 years, you can imagine how difficult it must have been to convince buyers that the car they just bought last year was out of date junk. I really would have liked to see the show back up to around 1958, and get the Edsel account. Imagine how much fun that would have been!

    playboy bachelorAnd then of course, there is the whole concept of the Playboy bachelor, the never-married, successful young man who drives an Austin Healey sports car, listens to Martin Denny, reads Esquire and of course Playboy, drinks Macallen Scotch and plays golf on weekends before hitting the nightclubs in search of a tipsy, willing bird. It really surprises me that not a single major character on MAD MEN was single because he wanted to be. What a fun and interesting addition a true cocktail set bachelor would have made to this show!

    But that’s just my own personal opinions and ideas, and that’s not the show. That’s not MAD MEN as Mathew Weiner envisioned it. We may have been misled by AMC’s advertising in the beginning, but we soon realized this wasn’t going to be a show about the 1950s. It was about the ’60s, and how that decade changed everything. And guess what?

    We still love it.

    Adieu, Mad Men, and thank you Mr. Weiner for bringing us one hell of a show.

    - Christopher “Tiki Chris” Pinto, reporting from the television viewing room at Tiki Lounge Talk