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  • Picnic, 1955: Mod Movie Monday for Memorial Day

    Posted on May 30th, 2011 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 9 comments

    picnic Memorial Day is about remembering the brave men and women who fought and died for our freedom and for the our wonderful country. It’s also about the start of summer, and barbecues, and picnics. So for this Monday I though, what better movie to feature than

    Picnic, 1955

    starring Kim Novak, William Holden, Cliff Robertson, Rosalind Russel, Betty Field and Susan Strasberg. (Ok, this flick takes place on Labor Day weekend, but we’ll pretend it’s Memorial Day)kimnovak_picnic Drifter Hal Carter (Holden) blows into town to visit his old frat buddy Alan (Robertson). Alan’s old man is the town’s rich guy, by the way. So Carter, one of those guys who is really full of himself but doesn’t have dime or a donut to show for it, charms his way into talking the old man into a job…but of course, he doesn’t want to start at the bottom, he wants to run the place from the start. Meanwhile, Carter meets Alan’s squeeze, the incomparable Madge (Kim Novak). Madge’s old lady has been poor all her life and insists Madge marry into money…but of course, Carter sweet talks her until…well, you get the basic picture. william-holden-kim-novak-picnic-101There are some great scenes in this flick, ranging from full drama to silly comedy. But the scene that it’s best known for is the dance between Kim Novak and William Holden, late night at the Picnic. The tension between the two characters has been building throughout the film, and finally comes to a head during one of the most impressive “fall in love during a two minute dance” scenes in film history. From way it’s filmed with the colored party lights in the background, to the “take me now” look on Novak’s face, the one of the greatest songs ever played in a movie, the scene is just perfect. Two songs, by the way…the dixieland party band playing throughout the picnic suddenly switches to a west-coast jazz version of the old standard “Moonglow”, then magically adds a string section when it sweeps in with “Picnic” to lay down the music bed for “The Theme From Picnic”, played in real life by Morris Stoloff, and written by George Duning and Steve Allan (Allan is credited for combining the two melodies into a perfectly-synced medley). picnic1955williamholdenkimnovak

    As far as this jazz kat is concerned, there are three defining versions of Moonglow: Goodman’s quartet version, Shaw’s orchestra version, and Stoloff’s jazz version. This was a pretty steamy scene for 1955, by the way…back in the days when open-mouthed kissing wasn’t allowed in movies, people could get excited over just the idea that two characters might be even thinking of sex…and that’s what this scene produces. The way Novak barely moves, the way Holden melts at the sight of her. And something uncommon in non-musical movies of the era…they are actually dancing to the song being played, choreographed (lightly) to fit with the tune. Dig it, I think you’ll agree…

    Happy Memorial Day, kids. And thanks again to all the troops…remember the fallen, appreciate the active, respect the retired. -Tiki Chris reporting from the poolside BBQ at Tiki Lounge Talk, the B-Lounge for hep cats and swingers.

  • Sabina’s South Philly Macaroni Salad

    Posted on May 29th, 2011 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 4 comments

    I wanted to post “How to have a great Retro BBQ” this weekend but I got into some other projects…so here’s at least one recipe you can still have for tomorrow! Promise to have the BBQ post up soon!

    Sabina's South Philly Macaroni Salad

    Sabina's South Philly Macaroni Salad

    When I was a  kid, every time we had a BBQ my mother made the macaroni salad and my grandmother made the potato salad. My father and my uncle cooked the burgers and dogs on the grill, my aunt usually helped by making something that you could boil in a plastic bag (her specialty was Nibblits in butter sauce) and my grandfather would play with me while everyone else worked.

    Here’s the recipe for my mother’s (Sabina) macaroni salad. I’ve never had it like this anywhere else, have no idea where she came up with the recipe, but it’s my favorite…it’s easy to make, and is a hell of a lot better than the stuff you get a Publix. This recipe goes way back to at least the 1960’s…and since she probably got it from my grandmother, it likely goes back to the 50’s or earlier. So for a little taste of the past, here’s

    Sabina’s South Philly Macaroni Salad

    1 Medium Red Pepper, diced
    1 Medium Green Pepper, diced
    1 Medium (3” Diameter) Sweet Onion, diced
    1/2 Large Red Onion, diced (Dice the other half to add to taste)
    2 Large Carrots, diced
    2-3 Large Celery Stalks, diced
    About 1/4 cup Bacos (not real bacon bits)
    Mayo (Hellman’s only)
    Salt & Pepper
    2 Lbs. Good Quality Elbo Macaronimacsaladclose1

    • Boil the Macaroni as usual, until al dente…not too soft. Drain and let cool. Don’t rinse.

    • Meanwhile, dice all the vegetables into a large bowl and add the bacon bits. When the macaroni is cool, mix it into the vegetables.

    • Mix in mayo one heaping tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency. You want it to just coat the macaroni. Too much will ruin the salad. I use about 4-5 heaping tablespoons.

    • Add about a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of pepper and mix in. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

    The macaroni will absorb the mayo so you ‘mayo’ need to add more. (Get it?) Add more salt and pepper to taste. You can also add more of the red chopped onion to taste. Just be careful, if the onions are too strong they will overpower the whole thing.

    That’s it! Happy Memorial Day!

  • This Week’s Top Songs In 1956: #1 Heartbreak Hotel by Elvis, #2 Moonglow/The Theme from Picnic by Morris Stolloff

    Posted on July 1st, 2009 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 9 comments

    The King - Click to Play Heartbreak Hotel

    The King - Click to Play Heartbreak Hotel

    Flip your ears to the hi-fi kats and kittens and listen to what I’m laying on ya, two big hits from ’56 in the mix and there ain’t no tricks, it’s the King, The Man with the Swingin’ Pelvis, Elvis Presley in the Number One slot this week in 1956, and right in view at Number Two is…Morris Stoloff?

    Yeah, that’s how it was back in the 50’s. Back then there was ONE chart, one list of hits, and you could have Rock ’n’ Roll and a Jazz standard together with a Western tune and standards vocalists like Frank Sinatra on the top five at the same time. Today you have a couple of dozen charts, so you’ll (probably) never see Winton Marsalis on the same hit list as Beyonce. but back in the day that would have been common.

    Now don’t get me wrong, most kats that were digging Elvis wouldn’t listen to Jazz if their lives depended on it. And vice versa…A lot of kats in the Jazz scene were too busy groovin’ to sophisticated bop to catch the Rhythm & Blues bug. And neither click would turn their ears to say, Patsy Cline, who also topped the charts plenty in the 50’s. But there were some mavericks who could riff along with all of them…From Frank and Dean to Les Brown and Dorris Day to Miles Davis and Stan Getz to Elvis and Buddy Holly.

    My old man was just such a kat. “Picnic” happened to be one of his favorite movies, and according to him the scene where William

    Picnic - Click Here to Play "Moonglow/The Theme From Picnic"

    Picnic - Click Here to Play "Moonglow/The Theme From Picnic"

    Holden and Kim Novak danced to “Moonglow” had everybody going crazy (Kim Novak burns through the scene with one of the most understated and sexiest ‘innocent’ dances  of all time, believe me). It’s a krazy scene musically because up to that point there is sort of corny dixie-type music playing for the picnic. Then this piano, guitar, bass and brushes comes in swinging with Moonglow, and these two characters finally get together (and just dance) after an hour of repressed 50’s sexual tension. It’s like, hypnotic, lulling you into this dream-like paradise for two…then all hell breaks loose. If you want to know more, rent the movie, I won’t spoil it for you here.

    So back to the tunes.

    #1 This week, July 1, 2009 is Boom Boom Pow by the Black Eyed Peas. Imagine if a Diana Krall tune was #2. That’s how it used to be. Granted, you’ll get a few Jazz or other tunes reaching into the Top 20 now and then, if they’re from a movie usually. But gone the days when diverse talent like Fran Sinatra and Bill Haley shared the top positions on the charts.

    Other #1 songs of 1956 included:

    Dean Martin – Memories Are Made Of This
    Gogi Grant – The Wayward Wind
    Platters – My Prayer
    Les Baxter – The Poor People Of Paris
    Tennessee Ernie Ford – Sixteen Tons

    All on the same chart. Krazy, ain’t it?