Didn’t get to celebrate “The King’s” passing like we normally do yesterday, but that doesn’t mean that Mr. Elvis Presley was not in our thoughts. And then, we saw this super cool billboard in Times Square and we knew that it was a sign, um, you know, like a spiritual sign…from beyond and everything.
Tag Archives: Elvis Presley
Whoa…could this summer get any cooler? I just got an email from my friends at Elvis.com announcing the upcoming launch of a super cute Mr. Potato Head Elvis! Yay, now my Darth Tater won’t be so lonely.
Introduced to the world by a rocking Elvis tribute artist in a sparkly Elvis jumpsuit, Mr. Potato Head Elvis’ debut is timed to coincide with Elvis Week 2010 and will be followed at Christmas time by a ’68 Comeback Special version in black leather! Whew, now I finally know what to ask Santa for!
Found out late last week that Lux Interior, the “Godfather of Psychobilly”, and lead singer of The Cramps died at the age of 62 in Glendale, California. Yes, that Glendale, California. Who knew that a rocking dude like Interior lived and died a few blocks from the place my brother calls home. Crazy…
Crazier still was the fact that it was my brother, Ryan, who first introduced me to Interior and The Cramps’ strange brew of classic rockabilly, punk, and straight up hilarity. I kid you not, amigos, the distinctive sound he created with founding bandmate, wife, and only permanent Cramp member, Poison Ivy, was insane.
Their music was gritty, raw, beautifully written, and filthy as the day is long. And though I loved a lot of the stuff my brother was grooving on in the mid-to-late-80’s (and still do…long live Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds!) The Cramps had a sense of humor that truly set them apart from some of the other dark-ass shit Ryan listened to back then.
I think he probably has all their best albums on vinyl or, horror of horrors, on…cassette tape, but the one Cramps CD I have is “A Date With Elvis”, and it rocks! I’m sure hardcore Cramps fans would tell you that “Elvis” was the band’s sell-out record, and maybe it is, but to me it was their most polished, lushly musical album and if you haven’t heard it, you owe it to yourself to check it out.
Christine and I have spent the whole weekend rediscovering it and, trust me, “A Date With Elvis” still packs a serious punch. From the jangly opening chords of “How Far Can Too Far Go?” to the children’s chorus is “People Ain’t No Good” and the swinging “South Pacific” vibe of the hilarious “Kizmiaz”, Interior and company prove themselves to be masters of not just the psychobilly genre, but straight up rockabilly as well.
And the way they recall some of the early Sun Studios work by fellow madmen like Rufus Thomas and The King himself in such songs as “It’s Just That Song”, “Cornfed Dames”, and “Can Your Pussy Do The Dog?” is freaking ingenious. And best of all, it’s just really good music. Seriously, you could dance all night to these songs. Hell, we did!
I guess the thing I found most shocking about Interior’s death was that he was so young, I mean, Joe Strummer, most of The Ramones, and then this…what the hell? Why all the good punk rockers gotta die so young, man? Sad…
Our thoughts go out to Interior’s widow, Poison Ivy, right now. I know it’s small consolation at a time like this, but here’s hoping you know what a huge impact you and your husband’s music had on these three impressionable youths. RIP, Lux Interior…long may you rock!
Yesterday was Elvis Presley’s birthday, and keeping with a tradition we started last year, Christine and I celebrated what would have been The King’s 74th birthday with some sweet Yummy Cupcakes! Yee-haw!
Last year, we were kind of bummed that Yummy Cupcakes didn’t feature their rocking Elvis cupcake on his actual birthday — they missed it by like, two or three days — and we told them so. Well, I guess the power’s that be made note of his actual birthday this year, because, lo and behold, guess which special cupcake they featured yesterday afternoon? You got it, the Elvis cupcake!
A sugar coma-inducing blend of peanut butter cake and chocolate/banana buttercream frosting, this cupcake was so sweet, and so totally Elvis that we were both kind of blown away. It was so rich, in fact, that we actually had to cut the sweetness with vanilla ice cream, something I’m sure Mr. Presley would have heartily approved of.
I think he also would have dug the other two cupcakes we purchased in his honor…a very tasty Chocolate Raspberry number with chocolate frosting and a raspberry filling and our old standby — and my Stepmom Wendy’s favorite! — the Peanut Butter Cup cupcake! If you haven’t tried it yet, get thee to Yummy, amigos, because this cupcake rocks!
The Peanut Butter Cup cupcake consists of chocolate cake topped with vanilla frosting, chocolate and peanut butter sprinkles and a wedge of an actual peanut butter cup on top…but the secret to it’s success is a dollop of peanut butter filling inside the cake itself. Man alive, Elvis would have loved that shit…amazing!
So, as we blow out our Graceland “Forever Elvis” candle one more time…we wish the King nothing but love on his big day. Happy Birthday, dude, we’re already counting the days till your 75th…
Nerdy as it sounds, ever since our memorable trip to Graceland last year, Christine and I have been trying to see all 31 of Elvis Presley’s movies. Now, if you’ve seen even one of them for yourself, you know how truly difficult this task really is. Because, well…most of them kinda suck.
But with the lone exception of the King’s first movie “Love Me Tender” (1956), which I think was an outright bomb, everything else we’ve seen has at least one or two elements or songs that make them fun and totally worth watching. And despite some awkward turns in a few of the clunkier pictures, Elvis is still freaking Elvis, baby, so…he still totally rules!
For example, “Kissin’ Cousins” (1964) has the King playing a military man and his blond hillbilly cousin, and better yet has not one, but several scenes with a fleet of hooting, hollering mountain gals called the “Kittyhawks” descending upon the homestead to steal single men. I kid you not, that happens at least two or three times in the movie. Crazy!
“It Happened at the World’s Fair” (1963) has a funny cameo by a pint-sized Kurt Russell and some gorgeous shots of Seattle and it’s then brand-spanking-new Space Needle. “The Trouble With Girls” (1969) is a period piece set in and around a traveling roadshow type of deal called a Chautauqua — don’t feel bad, we’d never heard of a freaking Chautaqua either! — and features some of the strangest camera angles you’ve ever seen in a Hollywood movie. It’s downright groovy, man. Gotta love those late-60’s filmmakers…wow!
“Blue Hawaii” (1961) has Elvis surfing with a bunch of adoring Hawaiian kids and a strangely-sinister Angela Lansbury playing his mom. Yes, his mom. I don’t know if Lansbury was gearing up for her iconic role in “The Manchurian Candidate” (1962) or what, but she is crazy weird in this movie…yikes!
And of course, the best of bunch we’d seen to date was “Jailhouse Rock” (1957) which is not just a great Elvis movie, but is also a really great movie in its own right. Cinematic, funny, dark, and beautifully shot in a brooding black and white, there is a reason Elvis fans love this movie. For not only is this probably the King’s best role — playing essentially, a twisted version of himself — this movie is just plain awesome! Seriously, if you were ever gonna buy an Elvis movie on DVD, this is the one to get!
Which brings me, finally, to the most recent Elvis movie on our list…“Viva Las Vegas” (1964). Christine had already watched — and insanely raved about! — this movie without me when I was in Santa Fe, and now we finally caught it again on TCM…and let me tell ya, this is the only other Elvis movie that you simply must have on DVD!
I think Elvis is usually better in his comedies, and here again, he shines playing a gambling race car driver/waiter at the Flamingo Hilton. But this time, the King is joined onscreen by the spectacularly gorgeous Ann-Margret. I don’t know exactly when the term “knockout” came into favor, but I can guarantee you it had something to do with Margret. Seriously, that face, that hair, those legs, that um…posterior…wow, this chick has it all.
And not only can she hold her own with Elvis in the singing and dancing department — actually, I think she’s a way better dancer, but that’s just me — but Ms. Margret can act too. And as written by Sally Benson — who also co-wrote my favorite Hitchcock film, “Shadow of a Doubt” (1943), yay! — her character is no throw-away girlfriend role, but rather a living, breathing firecracker-of-a-swimming-instructior to be reckoned with.
And the chemistry between her and Elvis…wow, I kid you not, you can almost see the sparks crackling off these two onscreen. They are incredible together, and though the first five minutes of so of the movie kinda dragged a bit, the minute Ann-Margret showed up in those skimpy white hot pants…it was on, baby!
Yes the movie has some crazy shit in it — their first date includes a dance class, skeet shooting, water skiiing, a helicopter ride over Hoover Dam and ends on a houseboat, where Margret lives with her father! — but the chemistry between these two keep everything rolling at such a crackerjack pace that you hardly care.
And the extended race car sequence at the end of the movie is really something to behold, especially when you consider the fact that they didn’t have CGI back then! Those are real cars, driven by real stunt men, yo!
I know that George Lucas has said that the chariot race sequence from “Ben Hur” (1959) inspired little Anakin’s pod race scene in “The Phanton Menace” (1999), but I swear to you, there are more than a few similarities between the race in “Viva” and the one in “Menace”. Don’t believe me? Read a hilariously geeky break down of the similarities here.
Anyway, another thing we both loved about “Viva Las Vegas” are the songs! This is one of the first Elvis movies I’ve seen that featured so many rocking duets, and though the title track is still the star, the rest of songs seriously kick ass. And when you factor in two (!) smoking solo songs for Ann-Margret, well, how can you go wrong?
So, if you like your movies loud, fun and loaded to the gills with out-of-control star wattage, check out “Viva Las Vegas”. And if you have a favorite Elvis movie you’d recommend we check out, by all means, let us know.
We’re still dying to see Presley’s last movie — “Change of Habit” (1969), with Mary Tyler Moore as a nun! — but they never play it on TV and the old-ass versions on DVD look pretty crappy. Here’s hoping a deluxe edition is in the works! And in the meantime, we’ll busy ourselves with some of the other movies on our list…next stop, “Harum Scarum” (1965)!
Today marks the 31st anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley. And though we didn’t get to travel to Memphis this year for Elvis Week, Christine and I did sign up for a free three-day membership to Sirius Radio so we could listen to the live broadcast of the candlelight vigil last night from Graceland.
And let me tell ya, not a dry eye in our living room. I know it sounds crazy, but that candlelight vigil is way up there on our list of life-changing events. It was just beautiful, and even hearing it on the internet feed this year was awesome.
Not only could you hear the crowd singing along with the music on Elvis Presley Blvd., but they also took some time to interview fans, friends and even an ex-girlfriend of The King as well. Touching stuff, baby!
And since no Elvis Week celebration would be complete without some major Elvis announcements, this year’s celebration has two really cool Elvis-related surprises up their sleeve.
One, is the upcoming release of Elvis Presley’s first duets album, “Christmas Duets” featuring current stars like Carrie Underwood, Martina McBride and Anne Murray — whose own Christmas album is one of our favorites! — singing along with Elvis’ old tracks. Hmmm…normally, I frown on this kind of thing, but hello, it’s Elvis. So it could be either really cool or really creepy. I’m hoping for more cool than creepy, but you never know…
And the other major announcement from Elvis Presley Enterprises is the upcoming release of a Graceland-approved Elvis and Priscilla Wedding Day Barbie set. Holy crap! Could anything be cooler than that? Two words: Amazon wish list. Actually, I think that’s three words…
In any case, just glad to have some new Elvis stuff to buy in the months to come. And with Lisa Marie rumored to be expecting twins sometime soon — bringing the grand total of Elvis grandkids to four! — wow…this really is a good week to be an Elvis fan. Long live “The King”!
For the seventh year in a row, Forbes magazine announced their top-ten (actually, top-thirteen) dead celebrity moneymakers for 2007. Not a lot of surprises here, although I don’t what kind of merchandise Steve McQueen’s estate is shilling these days…but it must be making some serious bread as he cracked the top ten!
Also glad to see a couple of writers/cartoonists and a fine artist in the mix as well…but what gives with only one woman making the top thirteen? Jeez, man…Natalie Wood’s estate needs to get the Fraklin Mint on the horn and start selling some commemorative plates and shit, pronto.
And speaking of selling cheesy stuff, where’s Lucille Ball on this list? You can’t walk through an airport gift store nowadays without seeing tons of “I Love Lucy” crap for sale…hmmm…maybe those greedy old estate lawyers are skimming a little off the top or something.
Either way, here is Forbes’s list of 2007’s top dead celebrity millionaires, accompanied by some rocking Warhol-lite portraits from their website. Enjoy!
13. James Dean – $3.5 Million
12. Bob Marley – $4 Million
11. James Brown – $5 Million
10. Steve McQueen – $6 Million
9. Marilyn Monroe – $7 Million
8. Tupac Shakur – $9 Million
7. Dr. Seuss (Theodore Geisel) – $13 Million
6. Andy Warhol – $15 Million
5. Albert Einstein – $18 Million
4. George Harrison – $22 Million
3. Charles M. Shultz – $35 Million
2. John Lennon – $44 Million
And finally, the number one celebrity wage earner from beyond the grave is…
1. Elvis Presley – $49 Million
Today would have been Elvis Presley’s 73rd birthday, and since Christine and I are still in our first full year of crazy Elvis fandom, we were a little unsure of how to celebrate. There was never a question of celebrating, mind you, just what exactly to do?
So, just after midnight last night, I gathered all the Elvis paraphernalia I could find in our place, set up a shrine to The King and finally lit that rocking “Forever Elvis” prayer candle we bought last August at Graceland.
And that’s just the beginning…Christine has toyed with the idea of making a cake later tonight and possibly even peanut butter and banana sandwiches — done Cali-style, with crunchy peanut butter NOT smooth — but trust me, nothing we could do, could possibly compare to the celebration happening today at Graceland.
Apparently not as well attended as the Elvis Week festivities held each August (culminating on August 16th, the day he died in 1977) the annual Elvis Presley birthday celebration at Graceland is nothing to scoff at.
According to Elvis.com, the annual cake cutting on the front lawn will be even more festive this year with the appearance (for the first time EVER at this event) of none other than the ex-Mrs. Elvis herself, Priscilla Presley. Very cool!
Then, complimentary birthday cake and coffee will be served at the Chrome Cafe across the street from the mansion! Wow…we didn’t get no free coffee for Elvis Week! And even cooler still, the cake is being designed by the “culinary artists” at the Peabody Hotel in downtown Memphis, so it should be pretty cool looking.
Anyway, wherever you are and however you chose to celebrate Elvis Presley’s 73rd birthday, have a good one…and long live The King!
The sun setting over Graceland, we enjoyed the remarkably good Elvis “tribute artists” in the plaza — practically all of whom were non-native English speakers! — and mingled with the crowd of super cool Elvis look alikes. My favorites were the late-Elvis super fan couple pictured below.
This dude was so devoted that he was braving the crowds and the heat (in costume!) while toting an oxygen tank!
Unfortunately, he disconnected from his tank for the picture, but he was really cool and when I asked his wife if she was hot in that plastic wig she had on, she answered: “Yeah, but it’s for the King.” Awesome!
Christine loved the Chris-Isaak-ish Italian Elvis (pictured above) and then just before I snapped the pic, that old grizzled Elvis in the blue jumpsuit appeared. Wow, two Presleys for the price of one!
Snuggled up behind the girls in the next pic was the best singer of the bunch, another Italian Elvis who really rocked the tent!
But I think our favorite guy there was the Indian Elvis (not pictured) who kept checking his hair in a mirror. Hilarious!
Despite the withering heat — Courtney and Mom tried to sit down on the curb and actually burned their butts! Seriously! — we were enjoying the Elvis parade in the plaza and then, before we knew it, 8:15pm was upon us. The candlelight vigil, arguably the defining moment of Elvis Week 2007, was about to begin outside the mansion!
An annual event for years, the candlelight vigil begins at nightfall, on the eve of the King’s death on August 16th, 1977, with the closing of Elvis Presley Blvd. to thru traffic. Almost instantly, the street floods with candle-toting fans who gather around the gates for a series of speeches by specially-selected members of Elvis’ many international fan clubs.
The speeches were surprisingly moving but the kicker was when they started playing actual Elvis songs over the deluxe speakers on the lawn. I’m not kidding you, not a dry eye on the boulevard!
Lighting our candles — generously supplied for free at little tables all up and down the block — we held them over our heads and began to sing along.
Honestly, you haven’t lived till you’ve heard 75,000 weeping, candle-toting Elvis fans singing along to “If I Can Dream”. Probably one of the coolest things any of us has ever experienced…really, profoundly beautiful!
So, holding our candles high, we sang along through “Love Me Tender” and “The Wonder Of You” before finally succumbing to the heat — not to mention the frenzied emotion! — and making our way back to the car.
The vigil continued throughout the night with the snaking line outside the gates making their way onto the property to pay their respects at Elvis’ grave. We didn’t stay for that, but the sight of all those flickering candles in the rearview mirror as we drove off was really something to behold.
A fitting end to a truly amazing day at Graceland. Thank you, Elvis!
Since we lacked the foresight (or the space in the back of Mom’s car for that matter) to actually bring a cool homemade memorial wreath with us to Graceland, I begin this post with something I created after our visit.
Featured above is my lovingly-rendered comic book-ized tribute to Elvis Week 2007. I call it RED ELVIS #1, and yes, I know I am a total nerd bird. All I can say in my defense is that perhaps once you experience the genuine outpouring of crazy fan love and devotion at Graceland for yourself, you’ll be moved to create some Elvis “art” of your own as well. Or…maybe not, who knows?
In any case, the rest of the pics here are of the actual arrangements, wreaths, cards and photo collages that fans from around the world sent to Graceland in honor of the King’s passing.
Imagine the shipping costs on some of these things…yikes.
The groundskeepers at Graceland (who are legion) said massive floral arrangements like these arrive every day of the week all year long.
Of course, the number of arrangements arriving increases dramatically during Elvis Week and around his birthday in January, but regardless of the time of year, whatever floral craziness arrives at the front gates is immediately put on display and tended to until it fades and/or dies. Pretty amazing, huh?
Anyway, hope you dig the pics, my favorite is the last one, the swinging crown with the golden guitars on it…so cool!
And hey, if any of you cats have some Elvis “art” you’d like to add to the gallery here, send it my way and I’ll slap it up on the virtual wall next to my boy, RED ELVIS #1.
Before we left for our trip, we were warned by my brother Ryan — the only person we knew who had ever actually been there — to plan on spending a LOT of time at Graceland.
And man, he wasn’t kidding. One day wasn’t nearly enough!
Everything we did at Graceland was so cool and fun that describing our experiences there could literally fill volumes, so in the interest of time, I’ll condense the visit down into small, bite-size chapters (hence the ominous “Part I” mentioned above) for your reading pleasure.
That said, let’s start at the beginning. We arrived at Graceland just after 1pm and were stunned by the totally rinky-dink infrastructure. The parking lot was tiny and not even remotely as organized as it could be — you know, “You are parked in Section H for ‘Hound Dog!'” like they used to do at Disneyland — I mean, even just numbered sections would be nice.
It was pretty much a hillbilly free for all, but somehow in the flood of cars surging through the gates, we found a sweet parking spot near the main entrance. Thank you, Elvis!
Armed with our cameras and Elvis fans (embossed with the slogan “#1 Fan”, they were Courtney and Christine’s saving grace since we couldn’t find matching t-shirts in our size range) we followed the scent of BBQ hamburgers towards the only restaurant around.
Which brings up another infrastructure problem, there is practically nowhere to eat at Graceland. Seriously, my inner Walt Disney was screaming to slap up a couple themed restaurants — you know, “Colonel Parker’s Chicken Shack”, “Priscilla’s Rib Hut”, etc. — but my dreams of modernizing the food court at Graceland would have to wait as we were absolutely starving!
Ducking into the only restaurant in the area, we were instantly overwhelmed by the crowd. The picture above does not do that joint justice…because, let me tell ya, that place was packed!
And with upwards of 50-to-70,000 people in attendance that day alone they actually ran out of food about ten minutes after we ordered. Yes, they literally ran out of food to sell. Insanity!
A couple of the surly waitresses locked the doors to keep the hungry throngs at bay, but I swear to God, I thought people were gonna riot.
Lucky for us we had secured a safe haven (a row of four barstools at the back of the restaurant) so we were able to avoid the fireworks out front. And then, our lunch arrived!
Picture the most ordinary hamburger you’d find at any theme park and you have this place pegged. Nothing fancy, but here at this no name restaurant near the parking lot, with people banging on the doors out front, we experienced one of the true culinary highlights of our trip: Elvis’ late-night favorite, the legendary fried peanut butter and banana sandwich!
Pictured above with a side salad, though it usually comes with fries (!), this sandwich is so grease-tastic, you can almost hear yourself getting fatter as you eat it. And yes, that’s a compliment!
The girls each had the obligatory bite, followed by the obligatory gag, but I thought it was pretty damn tasty…if not exactly marriage-worthy on my food scale, then surely worthy of a trip to the drive-in in my van.
My only complaint is that they used smooth peanut butter and mashed it together with the bananas. Chunky peanut butter and whole slices of banana would have been much better and way more rustic to boot.
But hey, we were eating Elvis’ favorite fried food mere steps away from his final resting place…who were we to complain?
So, our bellies full, we checked in at the ticket booth (thankfully I had pre-ordered our tickets online weeks earlier, which allowed us to cut to the front of the reserved ticket line!) and joined the rabid fans waiting for the next Graceland shuttle bus.
We purchased the mid-level Graceland Platinum Tour (a steal at $27.00 per person!) which includes an audio guided tour of the mansion and grounds along with a self-guided tour of Elvis’ two custom airplanes (yes, he had two!), Elvis’ automobile museum, the Sincerely Elvis Museum (mostly filled with his super cool jumpsuits!) and finally, the Elvis After Dark museum which I’ll tell you more about later.
And even though it was roasting outside — we later heard that the temperature peaked at 115 degrees that day! Yikes! — we were so excited to be waiting in line to see the home of the King, that the gentle Southern breeze generated by our matching Elvis fans was more than enough to keep us cool.
Having finally reached the gates of Graceland, we were ready to step inside!