A blog about Pegus...

and other assorted ramblings on the cocktail life.

Basement Bar Design—Tiki Decor: Fireplace
Tiki Skills: Mango Slicing With Alton Brown
Tiki Ha Ha: The Pineapple
Tiki Music: The Ukulele

Basement Bar Design—Tiki Decor: Fireplace

Tiki Fireplace
This lovely artifact is old, I know. In internet terms, this post on something built and publicized in 2005 is practically anthropology. But man, is it cool.

This Tiki fireplace is the magnum opus of Tikiphile and Tiki Central member Biff Butler. He started by building the basic box out of sheets of pink insulating sheathing which he carved into the rough outline. He then built up the detail with fireplace cement. The eyes are made of surfboard resin and backlit. A smoke machine rests on a fireproof shelf over the mouth. You can read his discussion of the process at Tiki Central, and see a set of 48 photos of it’s construction on his own website.
The guy is a serious Tiki designer. Check out his bedroom here, in that old-fashioned Quicktime 3D format (Can’t Embed.) And you can see the rest of his Tiki bar living room in this video:

Tiki Skills: Mango Slicing With Alton Brown

The whole point of Tiki Month is learning things you’ve never tried before to better enjoy the faux-Polynesian experience. Most of the time for me, it is recipes. It could be decorating, dressing, or just grooving. But there are also the oddball skills.

For instance, I used to like to serve mango chunks with my drinks, because they are Tiki-appropriate, and because they are delicious. Also, there are several interesting drinks that call for mango puree, nectar, or syrup. But as good as mangoes are, I avoid them the rest of the year because they are such a giant pain in the butt to transform from attractive fruit to usable chunks.
If you haven’t fought this fight (and earned the scars), mangoes are a particularly difficult to work with fruit. They have a gigantic, fibrous pit which is very attached to the surrounding flesh. It is also almond shaped and you can get only a general idea of how it is aligned inside the mango by external inspection. The end result is lots of blind cutting into a slippery object. Your efforts will often be wasteful, and occasionally dangerous. OXO has a purpose-made Mango Splitter, but this beast is bulky and the definition of a unitasker. So, what is the guy who needs some yummy tropical fruit to do?

Enter my culinary hero, and my daughters’ role model and general sex-symbol, Alton Brown, with a fool-resistant method:

The video, as is typical for the master, simultaneously hilarious and very useful. I’ve tried the method. It works like a peach.

Get it?
See what Doug did there?
See, a peach has a pit, too. But it’s really easy to remove a peach pit, and….
You people are hopeless.

Tiki Ha Ha: The Pineapple

I’d SideBlog this, but the picture deserves the full sized treatment! Brought to you by @GinMonkeyUK, who is among the least Tiki tweeps I have on Twitter.

Tiki Music: The Ukulele



A little background music while you read this post.

I’ve been on a little bit of a ukulele music kick lately. I was kicking around the web back in January, looking for material for the Tiki culture portion of Tiki Month and ran across an nice article in The Atlantic entitled The Rise and Fall (and Rise) of the Ukulele. It is an excellent little history of the ukulele in American pop culture, and well worth a read. The word “Tiki” doesn’t actually appear in the article, and mentioning that is a good way to note that while they are often connected, the ukulele is not at all exclusively a Tiki music instrument (especially of late). I’ll just focus on the fact that the arc of the ukulele’s popularity closely matches that of Tiki culture in general, and for much the same reasons.

In broad strokes, the ukulele (in its Hawaiian-perfected form) first came to mainstream attention in the early 20th Century, before the invention of Tiki. With its exotic origins and ease of play, the ukulele was a fun and easy way to transport yourself through imagination to exotic lands, just like the Tiki culture which followed and adopted the uke. By the 1950’s, the instrument was huge, reaching a peak of popularity, with nearly one and three-quarter million ukulele players in the US alone. If your image of the ukulele is of ridiculous nerd Tiny Tim, “tiptoeing through the tulips”, remember that Elvis’s ukulele soundtrack from Blue Hawaii was number one for five months.

Elvis played the ukulele. Your argument is invalid.

But with the 60’s, the culture started to move on. The Beatles, with their big, sexy, throbbing guitars made the little ukulele seem childish. Also, I imagine that the burgeoning of the recorded music industry hurt the ukulele too. One of its chief draws is how easy it is to learn and to play this little guy. As technology made it less and less important for people to be able to make their own music, instruments whose leading draw was their ease of play lost a lot of their market edge. Besides, if you liked a piece of ukulele music, there was the mortal risk that your Dad might whip his out and try to play it!

OF course, if your step-dad is The Rock, that douchebag Steve who wants to mock you for his playing the ukulele will probably think better of it….
(Journey 2 the Mysterious Island)

Among the frustrations I’ve experienced recently is the discovery that The Rock—The Freakin’ Rock!—has a better voice than I do….

Eventually, like other aspects of Tiki culture, the ukulele was virtually forgotten by pop culture. This paved the way for its revival, as its cultural baggage lost its potency. The things that made it popular to begin with remain true, of course. It is easy to play. It is versatile. It is just intrinsically fun. Again, just like other elements of Tiki culture, the ukulele’s revival comes in a form more integrated with mainstream culture. The web is rife with ukulele covers of distinctly non-tropical music. And the thing is, they work. Sometime when you are definitely not at work, listen to this semi-perfect cover of Cee Lo Green’s most famous hit. (No really, it is not the radio version!)

Of course, as Tiki culture in its purer forms makes its boutique, and hopefully sustainable comeback, the ukulele is still a staple for musicians such as Don Tiki.

Search around for ukulele music. You’ll like it. And if you have the least musical inclination, whether you want a first instrument or you are a musician who’d be interested in an easy extra to pick up, consider a ukulele. You can get a Starter Ukulele, with extra strings, case, and introductory instruction book from Amazon for $32.50. And that’s a Prime Eligible price. I bought one shortly before posting this.

And yes, I am aware I just reduced the chance that anyone who reads this will risk visiting my home in the future….

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