Dusk til Dawn!

Drive In No, not the Quinten Tarantino movie, the all nighter at the Drive-In movie! A real treat from the past that is much as I recall it from my own childhood. We in East Tennessee are fortunate to have a few active Drive Ins.

ParkwayThe Parkway is where we are headed this weekend for chilli dogs and watching on lawn chairs under blankets and maybe sneaking in a little rum to mix with the coke to knock off any chill in the air. More about this after the fact.

Update: This was not as fun as it was before. It seems that a number of people decided that the times between flicks were when you crank up your own tunes for everyone to enjoy. Loud metal and hip-hop are A) not what I want to hear and 2) not fun played loudly simultaneously.

The highlight of the adventure was the guys in the car to our left. They had fired up a little wacky weed at some point and they cranked up some Metalica too. It’s funny how the loud music makes you talk really loud to hear each other, but those nearby hear every word you say very clearly. So, we’re in the middle of the movie and the guy says “that’s straight out of the book!” And, “if they show the part where he gets arrested, that’s from the book.” “That’s in the book!” Not an uncommon thing to hear in movies based on books. But, this was “Curious George.” 

And I was really looking forward to the chilli dogs, but what I got was a big fat hot dog with meaty chilli that had beans in it. I wanted the little skinny dog and the chilli “sauce” I had come to expect from a concession stand. I didn’t want quality!

Coon Tiki for 2007

Tiki Lee maskMy tiki carving seminar this year was a bigger success than I hoped, judging by the response from the participants. “Tiki Lee’s” posted his finished project recently. It turned out great.

Aaron's MaskSo did Aaron’s version.

This summer has been a busy one for me, so I have not planned on doing another class this year, though that may change. But I did start planning for next year. I asked Bob and Leroy at Oceanic Arts to teach a class. I was very excited when they didn’t say ‘no’ right away. But, today they said they just felt it wasn’t something they would be able to make the time for.

I’ll start looking around for another carver or two to head up the future Coon Tiki classes. Benzart is always a first choice.

Freedom Flag

There seem to be two different views on the flag desecration issue. Some see it as a battle flag that symbolized those who fought and died for the United States. (That’s the United States, not America. I believe Mexicans fought for some American freedom as well…) I think that is awful. I don’t want our flag to symbolize war.

The other view is that it is a symbol of freedom. That I can agree with. If the U.S. flag is the great symbol of freedom, not being free to desecrate it makes it not a great symbol of freedom.

And my memory of the first people burning the flag were war veterans protesting. That would make both groups plans to make it illegal seem ridiculous.

Maryland Tiki washed ashore in TN again

Monday, our avid junkin’ friend brought us two vintage mugs from thrift stores. They are both green mugs from the “Luau Hut” in Silver Springs, Maryland.

Luau Hut KuThe first is a Ku, OMC mug, which is the same design used by the “Hawaiian Inn” in Daytona and others.

Luau Hut hulaLuau Hut hula closeThe second is very unique. The full figure hula dancer is rather unusual, but her large breasts with nipples exposed is truly rare. I can’t recall seeing nipples on any other mugs. Nice.

This is the second and third mug found in Knoxville thrift stores from Maryland tiki bars. The other was from the Emerson Hotel’s “Hawaiian Room.” Makes me wonder if they all came from the same person.

The Long Straw

If you have ever enjoyed a Mystery Bowl at the Mai Kai, or Volcano Bowl at other tiki establishments, you know that you must have a really long straw to both participate and not catch your hair on fire. In preparing for the luau at the Swank Pad next month, I began searching for extra long straws online. I found some at Dynasty Wholesale, but their website left me wondering if I could order or not. I searched around and found other places, but they had minimum order amounts and everything else they sold was crap. Then I thought “Ebay!” Yes, the source of everything had a seller of 500 20 inch straws for $9.99! Good deal!

Now my guests won’t have to worry about catching on fire and we can drink of a communal bowl. The lushes can even steal sips of their neighbor’s cocktails.

Polynesian drink menu unearths treasures

Polynesian bowls This menu came up on Ebay and it is a glimpse at why tiki collecting is so intriguing for me. The restaurant is simply named “The Polynesian” in Torrance. Here is why serious collectors collect drink menus. Inside this menu are images of the bowls and mugs used to serve their rum soaked cocktails. Note the Gardenia floating in the left hand bowl. Classic. With the menu you can match a mug to its original locale and maybe pour the correct mixture into it if you dare.

The images on this menu are phenomenal! These mugs kick major tiki butt. If you have one of these treasures in your collection, please share. The menu auction ends Sunday.

Ms. Swanky creates great tropical blinds

Blinds before This is an image of the new bamboo blinds we got for our porch. As you can see, though they look nice, they don’t block a lot of sun and people’s eyes. We decided to keep them anyway and attach some fabric to the inside to make them more opaque. But what fabric? I thought we’d just pick some curtain material up at the fabric shop.

Last weekend we were wandering Target to see what was on sale and they had various tropical items on clearance. Ms. Swanky picks up a shower curtain and the light came on. The curtain was exactly the size of the blinds! So we grabbed two curtains on sale for $14 each.

She got a can of indoor/outdoor spray adhesive at a craft store and we went to work. First I took the blinds down and cut some wire which we used to attach the shower curtain to the bamboo rod at the top of the blinds. After re-hanging the blinds on the porch, Ms. Swanky began carefully spraying and flattening the material to the blinds.

Blinds afterWe have one done now and it looks fantastic! It blocks the sun and eyes and from the outside you can’t even see it. From the inside it fills the space with color and looks incredible. And it rolls up just fine. Can’t wait to start coordinating with these colors. 

Ear Candy

I thought I’d share a few sound bites today.

First one is a Hertz commercial from the 60’s. Ms. Swanky wondered how Capote got a car out in the plains as we watched “Capote” the other night. This commercial is likely around 1966 by the convertible in it, which you can’t see. Anyone know when car rental started?

Next is a vintage radio spot for Pontiac by CRC. CRC was the top jingle makers of the time. I have one of their LPs and just love it.

Now a blast from the past that some will recall, a classic Drive-In movie clip.

Frequent Grogalizer user Johntiki sent this to me. I hope it’s okay to share. It’s a 7-11 commercial for Awaawaukelele which was an island flavor. It’s preety cute and funny, and then, the ending is just great. Genius!

And, I guess I should share a real song. I put my DJ CD of Lalo Schiffrin into the car player the other day and it completely transformed the ride home from work. I love soundtrack music and Lalo was the king of detective movies in the 70s. Steve McQueen is the star for Lalo’s music. This track is Shifting Gears from Bullitt. The version on the soundtrack does not have the sound effects in it at the end that I love. I can’t find the sound effects version. But, put this on and drive around town and you feel like you are tailing someone and any moment a chase will begin or a car will pull up next to you and there will be a shotgun coming out the window. It’s a fun sensation.

Enjoy. I’m off to dig in the yard for the weekend.


Lileks takes great exception to an Ang Lee comment today and it just bugs me.

The first thing that comes to mind is very simple. Ang Lee has made a number of films and is the one actually capable of having the very qualified opinion he does. The second, and more crucial thing that hits me is that Mr. Lee’s statement is completely out of any context and without any way to know what exactly he means. Lileks takes the opportunity to tell us what Mr. Lee is saying. It’s senseless. Lileks knows no more about the context of the statement than you or I, but feels free to fill it out fully.

He has decided to harp on the word “free” and decided Ang Lee is talking about the state of “freedom” in the United States. That our ability to live our lives without our women being stoned to death for lack of head coverings means Ang Lee is a hoighty toighty egg head who has no right to assail our way of life.

It’s a very crass thing to take one sentence from an international film maker about his industry and tell the world that he is thus part of the liberal elite who would stab us in the back and feed us to terrorists. I don’t think we need to protect our borders and our Freedom from a prominent director who uses the word “free” in a negative statement about the US.

Lower your hackles Mr. Lileks. You are begining to see liberal elitests under every newspaper article.

Making real flower leis for your luau outside of Hawaii and California

Orchid LeiI sometimes hesitate to give out my “secrets.” I am working on a luau in our newly planted tropical garden and coming up with “extra special touches” to make it memorable. In an effort to make every luau better, I will share one of my ideas.

I love real flower leis and I hate those itchy plastic things you get put on you at most luau type parties. So I started looking into getting flower leis for the guests. I found I could order fresh orchids from Hawaii and make my own. At a cost of $8 each, it was reasonable for the 10 I could make with the kit, but when you have 30 guests… I just wasn’t ready to spend $240 on leis when I could spend $240 on rum instead.

I have a vintage luau party book that tells how to make leis and it lists good flowers to use besides Plumeria and Orchids. Flowers you can get most anywhere. Flowers that won’t bleed into your clothes and last longer than those tropical varieties. The list is: carnations, stocks, jasmine, pinks, chrysanthemums, asters, pom pom dahlias, daisies, cornflowers and marguerites. I don’t know all these, but a florist does. Hmmm. Next problem. How do I get a lot of flowers cheap without being a florist?

The answer is Quality Wholesale Florists on Central near the Old City. I have not been down there yet, but I am assured I can get piles of flowers cheap.

Then just get some string and a long needle and 50-60 flowers per lei. I was told dental floss works well sue to it’s slippery texture.

When finished, put the lei in a zip lock bag with a spritz of water and blow up the bag and seal. Put it in the fridge and it’ll last nearly a week.

So spruce up your next tropical party with a little effort and expense and do it right. See more advice on Tiki Central

Lileks shines his spotlight on TN – Knoxville

I recall when I first came across Lileks’ site. I loved it. And then I wondered if people thought I was copying him. Well, I started my site completely independantly. Great minds…

He has posted Tennessee postcards now and has highlighted some places I have researched myself. Check out his images of TN HERE. Those cards of the Monteagle are awesome. Here are my pictures of it now. And the Admiral Benbow research is on my forums HERE. Sadly gone.

Postcard on Lileks site

Tonga Planter’s

Last night I went to the Grogalizer to fetch a new cocktail to concoct. I like concocting. Sounds like something dirty and fun. I started with the “Sven Tiki” and then found someone in the house drank all the orange juice! Kids. So, I switched gears and went for the “Tonga Planter’s”, page 86 of Intoxica.

Planter’s Punchs have never been a favorite. Always too sour for me. But, I got out the crank juicer and limes and lemons and went at it. Pushing every bit of juice out of those little balls of citrus. An ounce of lime and an ounce of lemon juice per drink. Did not look promising.

I served it up to Ms. Swanky and I drank mine. As I expected. Sour. I scored it a 1 because all I tasted was sour juices. But, Ms Swanky gave it a 6. A 6! She referred to it as “tart.” She likes “tart.”

Now I know. I am living with a “tart” liker. That’s how you know. I say “sour”, she says “tart.” Should I open a tiki bar, I will describe drinks as “tart,” not “sour.”

I let her have the remaining 6 ounces of the batch.

Vintage Trader Vic’s Flaming Rum

A few years ago, Ms. Floratina traded me a bunch of music for this incredible bottle of Trader Vic’s Flaming Rum. She found it as old stock on a shelf in a California liquor store. Brand new … er old. Has the old style tax label across the top.

Don’t tell her I broke the seal and have actually used it to fire up some volcano bowls…

I assume any rum specifically made for burning is specifically not much for drinking. I have not dared taste it.

Dwarf Restaurant – One location found

I had these two images of the enigmatic “Dwarf Restaurant” in Knoxville.

Dwarf One 

Dwarf Two

It’s clear now there either were two of them or two locations. The first is clearly related to the Tate Motel which I located a while ago. Recently on the Swank Pad forums, a local pointed me to what I now beleive is the location in the second postcard. I took these pictures this morning.


Looks very close.

New discovery: photographs… on paper!

I got a digital camera a few years ago. Before that I had a nice 35mm camera and took a few pictures when the mood hit me. But since the digital came along, pictures now piled up on the computer. Thousands of pictures.

I made a nice screen saver of all the pictures of the dogcats. Occasionally converted them to web site use.

But the pile…

I decided the time had come to actually have pictures in my hands that I could share at with friends at work, at parties, in the car and around town. Trade with firends and collect all 12!

What I discovered was that the folks at Walgreens had made it darned easy to upload all the pictures I wanted, share with friends and click on a few and tell them to be magically transferred to paper at the Walgreens of my choosing in a jiffy.

Screw Flickr and and all those other sites. Can they print any picture I want down the street in a few minutes? No. Well, maybe. I have not checked recently.

But this works great, even if you are on vacation. Upload from the laptop and figure out the closest Walgreens.

I still hate the bastards for destroying the Kahiki however.