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  • MAD MEN Season 7 Premier: What you need, to watch the beginning of the end

    Posted on April 13th, 2014 "Tiki Chris" Pinto No comments

    mad_men_season_7_poster Tonight starts a bittersweet journey through the final 12 episodes of MAD MEN, arguably one of the best dramas ever to be transmitted over the airwaves. Sweet, because we get to enjoy another season of Don Draper bulldozing his way through life. Bitter, because it’s the last time we’ll get to enjoy Don Draper bulldozing his way through life. And to make it a little more bitter, AMC has decided to split the season in half: Six episodes will be aired this year, with the remaining six to be aired sometime next year. (Era-appropriate note: Cold war era audiences would not stand for such nonsense, as it was never a given that there would be a “next year”.)

    Matthew Weiner has given us a tiny glimpse into the very end. He recently told The Hollywood Reporter, “What has really been the pressure this year, no matter what happens, is that these people are going to end this season frozen in time. That’s the last time we see them.”

    But let’s not dwell on the impeding end. Let’s talk about how we can celebrate this fantastic piece of yesteryear, right now, in the present. So here are some Tiki Lounge Talk suggestions on how to make tonight’s premier a little more fun, and a little more exciting.

    Cocktails (of course): Martinis, Manhattan, Screw Drivers…the most popular drinks of the 1950s were also very popular at the end of the ’60s, but there are a few new ones that you can add to your menu, including…

    The Emma Peel
    The tough honey from The Avengers TV series earned her own cocktail. Just add a cherry to a champagne flute, mix 1 oz chilled cherry brandy and 1 oz chilled pineapple juice and top with champagne.

    Southern Comfort Manhattan
    Two oz So Co, one oz sweet vermouth and three cherries, on the rocks.

    The Hippie Cocktail
    1 oz. Gin, 1 oz. Peach schnapps, 0.5 oz. dry vermouth, 1 tbs. Grenadine, 3 oz. Ginger ale
    Put a half lemon wheel, half lime wheel, half orange wheel in a large old fashioned glass, and half fill with ice. Mix it up so the fruit is suspended in the ice. In a shaker add all ingredients except the ginger ale, with ice. Shake and strain into the glass, top with ginger ale. Garnish with a daisy.

    swanson-tv-dinnerDinner: TV dinners were as popular as ever in the late 1960s…possibly even more popular than the ’50s, as more people watched the tube and had less time to cook. I wonder if any of these still come in tinfoil trays?

    Attire: This is a big event, so you should be dressed for the occasion. Resist the temptation to throw on ripped jeans and a tie-died t-shirt. Believe it or not, people were still dressing up in the late 1960s. Most restaurants wouldn’t allow gentleman to dine without a jacket and tie, and many frowned upon pantsuits for the ladies. Business attire still meant black, blue or gray conservative suits for the men (even if they could get away with some colorful, double-breasted, wide-lapeled beauties at the track) and long dresses or skirts for women. Of course this was also the heyday of the Mod era, so if you’ve still got that Austin Powers costume you bought in 1998, break it out!

    1969-fashions

    Snacks: After the TV dinner, you’re going to want some ’60s style snacks to get you through the rest of the hour. If you want to be era-accurate, you just have to stick with the traditional things: Plain potato chips, corn chips, mixed nuts, homemade onion dip, melted Velveeta and salsa dip, Doritos (invented in 1964) and pretzels. Stay away from anything too modern like Bugels, or things that promise “extreme” flavors…although it was an era of extremes, they never called it that.

    For more reading, there’s a good, non-spoiler article on the Mad Men Season 7 Premier at The Hollywood Reporter.

    -Tiki Chris Pinto, reporting from the screening room at Pirate’s Cove Tiki Bar

  • Remembering Happy Days, The Fonz, and how the show would be done today

    Posted on March 26th, 2014 "Tiki Chris" Pinto No comments

    fonzRemember this Guy?

    “Happy Days” first aired in 1974. It took place in the mid 1950s, about 20 years earlier. The nostalgia centered around the “good old days” when big fins, Rock n Roll, drive in diners and poodle skirts defined America. It was an homage to a happy-go-lucky time in America’s history (if you ignore Korea, Vietnam, the Cold War and segregation), a time best remembered for pink and black motifs, big fast cars, cool dudes and hot chicks. It was also the era of modern architecture, cool jazz and cocktails, but those elements rarely made it into this mainstream-pop TV show.

    The Fonz was an icon, but also an enigma: A street-tough, greaser/biker who was into fast cars (and faster women), yet was also an intelligent, fairly well spoken and surprisingly respectful adult. Google how and why that character evolved, there are some interesting stories behind it.

    Now to blow your minds…

    - “Happy Days” premiered FORTY YEARS AGO. It’s theme song was “Rock Around The Clock”, then was changed to “Happy Days” later.

    - If this show were to be made today, it would be reminiscing back to 60 years ago. Which means a 60-year-back nostalgia show at the time Happy Days premiered would have been about World War One.

    Also if this show were made today:

    - The Fonz would look like Kurt Cobain, Potsy and Ralph would be dressed in grunge, and Richie would dress like Chandler on Friends (Which, by the way, came out in 1994)

    - Instead of jalopies, the kids would be driving 1980s Honda Civics Ford Tauruses.

    happy-days-hot-rod-compare

     

    - The jukebox would play Nirvana, Boyz II Men, Micheal Bolton and Snoop Doggy Dog,

    - Instead of hanging out at the diner, they would be hanging out at a coffee shop.

    - The Fonz would work at a Jiffy Lube.

    - Richie’s dad wouldn’t own a hardware store, as it would have been put out of business by the big-box stores. He’d be an assistant manager at one of them, using a third of his paycheck to pay off his debts after being driven out of business. Richie would go to community college on a Pell grant.

    - Joanie would have listened to Madonna and would have loved reruns of The Cosby Show.

    happy-days- Laverne and Shirley would have hung out at night clubs a lot. They probably would have done a lot of drugs, too.

    - And last but not least, instead of singing “I found my thrill on Blueberry Hill,” Richie would go around singing “Whoomp, There It Is!”

    -Tiki Chris reporting from the TV room at Tiki Lounge Talk. If you dig the 1950s, check out one of my Detective Bill Riggins mystery books, all of which take place or flash back to the Decade of Pink Dreams.

  • MAD MEN Season Six Finale – A little disappointed

    Posted on June 24th, 2013 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 1 comment
    Mad Men  - What the hell???

    Mad Men - What the hell???

    Warning: Contains Spoilers.

    Well, the sixth season of MAD MEN came to a close a couple of hours ago, and honestly, although I dug the season as a whole, I thought the finale was a bit of a let down.

    Why, you ask? Why, when it was full of insane twists…Pete’s Mother missing at sea, Pete blowing the Chevy account because he couldn’t drive stick (and getting thrown under the bus…or the Camaro..by Bob), Don’s ousting, Peggy & Ted’s on-impulse affair…

    Yeah, juicy stuff, for a mid-season episode. Places to come back from, or look ahead from.

    But by no means did this season finale pack the creative and artistic wallop of last year’s closing. Remember, at the end of the episode, when Don literally walked off the set, out of Megan’s life, and into a bar where we pretty much new he was going to be up to his old tricks? Remember the music, “You Only Live Twice” swelling in time with his heavy footfalls as he walked past the cameras and set pieces?

    Yeah, none of that.

    Instead, we get a very flat, very dull ousting by the same people who have always supported Don, including Joan, who basically owed everything to him (well, a lot anyway) and Coop, who would have certainly had a 30-second heart to heart with Don quoting some Japanese culture or Ayne Rand book before even considering giving Don a leave, temporary or not. Then we cut to the same old tired scene of Roger trying to get back into Joan’s skirt, with Bob cutting the turkey like he lives at Joan’s, then Don acting like nothing ever happened, driving his kids, in his Cadillac, hours out of the way to whatever-the-hell small town in PA he lived in to show the dilapidated whorehouse to Sally and her brothers. It ends with that crappy Judy Collins song, “Both Sides Now”, which is so far out of the Mad Men/Don Draper spirit of things that it might as well have been (insert anything by Hendrix, Joplin or the Stones here).

    Yep. No cool cinematography, no really extreme meltdown to cause the partners to vote Don out, no incredible revelation by Don that he’s done something awful. Nope. Just some luke-warm “I’m drinking too much” (again), a luke-warm argument with Megan when he tells her he screwed her career royally, a luke-warm response to him getting basically fired from the company he created, a luke-warm response to – of all people – Duck Phillips, ushering in who will probably be his replacement, and a luke-warm look at his old stomping grounds, the friendly neighborhood brothel.

    Sorry guys, but I expected a lot more.

    Maybe I didn’t really expect Megan to wind up murdered in a Sharon Tate-esque scenario (which is all the buzz now), although I thought there was another hint to that when Don decided to move them to LA. Maybe I didn’t think there would be some major scene where Don gives Chaw the ultimate screw-over by somehow outing his and Peggy’s affair.

    What I did expect was showmanship. “Just the kind of theater that makes their work so different”, as that new guy from Ted’s company who no one ever remembers his name said in the Hershey meeting. So what the hell happened?

    First of all: Why did Don get ousted? It doesn’t make sense. Sure, he said some stupid things at the Hershey meeting. But Don is known for saying inappropriate things to clients and potential clients. If this were really an issue, he would have been fired in Season Two. So why now? Especially after doing something so nice for Ted. Wouldn’t Ted, in return for allowing him to go to LA, have nixed the idea of forcing Don out? He’s still a full partner, just like Don…which brings up another point: DON IS A FULL PARTNER. Seems he would have had a bit more of a say in the matter. Maybe not much, but more than just turning around and leaving.

    And what about Peggy? Really, Peggy? Acting on her feelings for Ted, a married man with two kids? Parading around in an outfit that made her look like she was ready to jump out of a cake in 1956? Then sleeping with him? Then getting mad when he said, for the 80th time, that he loves his wife and the whole thing was a mistake? Just doesn’t seem very Peggy like. Just doesn’t.

    Wow! This rant went on a lot longer than I expected. I guess I am more disappointed in this finale than I thought I’d be. It’s late, and I’m sure this is full of typos which I will fix in the morning. For now, here’s just one idea that they could have gone with, instead of the luke-warmy-ness that this season ended on:

    • Sally does something much worse than buying beer. Maybe she and her friends get drunk and steal, and wreck a car. Sally’s ok, but in jail. This is a sign of Sally’s teen rebellion, brought on by the times, and of course Don’s award-winning parenting.

    • Ted gets in much deeper with Peggy, to the point that we really feel his life will fall to pieces if he stays in town. Don is his only hope. Don refuses to help him at first…but realizes that he might have another suicide on his hands if he doesn’t change his mind quick, so he does. This gives Don a real, strong reason to stay in NYC, while completely screwing over Megan.

    • Don does some specific things to piss off Roger, maybe Joan, maybe that other guy who no one ever remembers his name. Specifics, not blowing a meeting with Hershey, a company he never thought would advertise in the first place. Maybe he jeopardizes Chevy. Maybe there are further repercussions from Jaguar. Something strong that would be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

    • While trying to help Sally, help Ted and help Megan, he blows up everything…maybe Megan finds out about his affair (from Sally?); gives the partners (including Ted) that very good reason to give him a “leave of absence”; Sally blames his behavior for her problems; Megan tells him that she will live in LA anyway and that they are basically separated. The episode ends with the irony that Don is finally trying to fix the problems he’s created, only to be thrown aside by the same people he is (finally) trying to help. The final scenes are of each of these people forcing him out of their lives, until he finds himself in a dark bar, nursing an Old Fashioned. The camera flies in slowly from behind him, and we see he is writing new ideas…maybe for a knock-out ad campaign for Hershey…on a napkin. The music playing? “That’s Life” by Sinatra. Yeah.

  • MAD MEN: Don Draper’s Record Collection

    Posted on June 4th, 2013 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 8 comments
    1950's Admiral Hi-Fi. I owned this exact model from aroun 1985 to 2000. Miss it.

    1950's Admiral Hi-Fi. I owned this exact model from aroun 1985 to 2000. Miss it.

    Fans of MAD MEN know that music plays a fairly important role in the series, but when it comes to individual characters, music generally takes a backseat.

    So, I was wondering what kind of albums the character of Don Draper might have on hand. We’ve heard him play classical music at a dinner party; we know he doesn’t dig the Beatles. But that’s about it.

    So what kind of music does Don Draper dig?

    I think, in order to answer that question, first we need to answer, “What kind of music does Don NOT like?”

    Well, lets take a look at his past: He grew up in the 30s & 40s, when big bands played the most popular music in the country. There were swing bands and sweet bands, and they dominated the music scene. It’s safe to say that big band swing and jazz were probably what Don heard most as he was growing up, along with more “localized” music that probably included country/western and folk. Since he considers his childhood a complete bust, I’m going to lay my chips on big band, jazz vocals, folk and country/western as being the kind of music that Don Draper (well, Dick Whitman, actually) hates with a passion. Hell, he might even go into a cationic fit whenever he hears “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love, Baby” for all we know.
    mantovani-candelight
    It’s also a safe bet that Don wouldn’t be into Rock ‘n’ Roll. Let’s face it – Rock ‘n’ Roll was considered “kids music” back in the 1950s, and had a very small adult following. Don was already an adult (in his 20s) when he was in Korea (somewhere between 1951 and 1953), so like most men of the era, he probably dismissed RnR as kiddie pop.

    Don has never showed us a side of him where he sits and listens to sophisticated music, whether it be jazz or classical, for the pleasure of it. He sits in front of the tube a lot, but we never see him play an album (except for the Beatles song, which he completely dismissed). So it’s probably safe to say that he has never really bought a record for the enjoyment of the music. Unlike Meghan, who’s life revolves around music and acting, for his character, it’s just not that big of a deal.

    Read the rest of this entry »

  • The Old Fashioned: This Week’s Retro Cocktail Recipe

    Posted on May 17th, 2013 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 2 comments

    old-fashioned-cocktailWith Season Six of MAD MEN in full swing, I thought I’d (finally) feature the favorite cocktail of Creative Director Don Draper,

    The Old Fashioned

    Truly old fashioned, this drink has roots that go back to the early 1800s when, according to some historians, the “cock tail” was a drink made with liquor, water, sugar and a few drops of bitters. It’s been said that the addition of citrus came during prohibition, to hide the taste of cheap booze.

    The version that Don drinks was the cocktail that dominated swanky lounges and corner bars alike, a cool combination of rye whiskey, bitters and soda with citrus. This is the Old Fashioned that we’ve come to expect, and love. If you want an older version of the Old Fashioned, leave out the citrus and the soda.

    Ingredients

    1 sugar cube
    3 dashes of bitters
    2 teaspoons water
    1 strip lemon zest
    1 small wedge orange
    2 maraschino cherries
    Ice, as needed
    2 ounces rye (or Bourbon. Bourbon is a little sweeter. Canadian Club has a lot of rye, and works very well)
    Club soda
    Cherry for garnish

    Don Draper pondering his favorite booze

    Don Draper pondering his favorite booze

    Add the sugar cube to the bottom of an old fashioned glass, then add the water and bitters to it. Place the lemon zest, orange wedge and one cherry in the glass. Use a bar spoon to gently muddle the cube into the liquids so the sugar will begin to dissolve. (Note: Some people prefer to leave out the cherry). Use the back of the spoon to coat the bottom sides of the glass with the mixture. Throw a couple of cubes in the glass and top with bourbon and club soda and stir well. Top with a cherry and an orange slide on the rim.

    There are tons of variations on the Old Fashioned. In fact, you can use any booze you want, with varying degrees of success. Of course, there even more modern Old Fashioneds…Recently on a trip to Sonoma, I had one made with “local Bourbon” (which isn’t really Bourbon if it’s made in California), and no cherry. It was very good, and the bartender took pride in making it.

    So if you want to impress your vintage-diggin’ pals, or show a skirt that you know how to order a cocktail with plenty of pizzaz, memorize this recipe and make yourself an expert at throwing one together. You’ll have the chicks (or kats, whatever’s your thing) eating out of your hand.

    -Tiki Chris P, Reporting from the Tiki Bar at Tiki Lounge Talk, the interwebs’ favorite B-lounge for retro fun stuff and Tiki Talk.