Monthly Archives: August 2006

ELVIS COMMENTARY MINI-NUGGETS — # 2

HARUM SCARUM: After my frustration with the nonexistent “Elvis Movie Marathon,” I did manage to watch some Elvis movies and documentaries on Wednesday the 16th and on through the weekend.  “Harum Scarum” was one I caught, and it had been so long since my last viewing that I had forgotten how bad it is.  There is one redeeming feature: this movie is non-stop with lovelies showing lots of cleavage and bare midriffs.  None of those ugly Burkas in this Arab country.

 

One of my favorite references, “The Elvis Film Encyclopedia” by Eric Braun, correctly notes “Harum Scarum” has a frankly ludicrous storyline.  However, if you are a determined Elvis collector, go to www.amazon.com, and you can pick up a used copy of the VHS for 60¢.  It’s the cheapest Elvis movie you can buy, and I think I know why.

 

HARD ROCK CAFÉ ELVIS PINS:  Did you know Hard Rock Café now has online auctions for new releases of their famous pins?  Naturally, they had a series of five Elvis pins presented just in time for “Elvis Week”.  Each would be produced in a limited edition of only 100, after which the molds are retired.  The pin selection included four different Elvis poses, three from the fifties and one in that white suit from the ‘68 Comeback Special.  The last pin was a 3” x 2” ELVIS in red letters with a black background.  The auction started on August 3rd and ended on August 13, and the minimum bids were $15.

 

Well, one fan got so carried away that he bid $125 each on all five very early in the period.  The next highest bid was $40, and dozens of folks picked up all five pins at $15 to $16 each on the last day.  I think those smart late-bidders got tremendous bargains.  It seems obvious that not many Elvis fans knew about “Hard Rock Café” auctioning Elvis pins.  So, here’s an idea:  A few days prior to Elvis’ birthday in January, check out www.hardrock.com/estore/auctions.  You just might buy yourself an excellent Elvis collectible.

 

ROLLING STONE’S TOP TEN ELVIS SONGS :  Announced on 29th anniversary of Elvis’ death.

1)       That’s All right (Mama)

2)       Good Rockin’ Tonight

3)       Mystery Train

4)       Wear My Ring Around Your Neck

5)       A Little Less Conversation

6)       Hound Dog

7)       Kentucky Rain

8)       In the Ghetto

9)       Suspicious Minds

10)  Unchained Melody

I disagree with the last four, but that’s just because all my favorite songs connect with the young Elvis.  Those last four songs would certainly make the Jumpsuit Elvis Top Ten, if there were one.

 

THE BLUE MOON BOYS:  While you are on Amazon getting that 60¢ Elvis movie, you should search for “The Blue Moon Boys,” subtitled, “The Story of Elvis Presley’s Band.”  I am excited about this new book and will be very happy when my copy arrives.  Scotty Moore and DJ Fontana are big favorites of mine.  Without having seen the book yet, I’m sure it’s worth the $16.50.

 

The term Elvis Presley's Band is not something you see in print much.  I like that name – Elvis Presley's Band, or better yet, Elvis' Band.  Scotty and DJ will be performing in concerts next year at “Elvis Week,” and I get to write pre- and post-concert articles for Elvis… The Magazine.  One of these stories is going to be titled, “Elvis’ Band: 50 year Update.”

 

©  2006   Philip R Arnold   All Rights Reserved   www.elvisblog.net

THE STRANGE STORY OF BARNEY AND MABEL

Elvis fans come in many forms, including an extremely rich English aristocrat who lives in a castle.  His name is Sir Benjamin Slade, and he has a substantial Elvis collection.  One of his more recent additions was a rare 1909 teddy bear from famous German manufacturer Steiff.  A teddy bear with that pedigree has intrinsic collectible value, but Elvis owned this one for a while, which made it even more valuable.

 

Sir Benjamin purchased the teddy bear, named Mabel, at auction in Memphis for $75,000.  However, he didn’t keep it long.  In a very generous move, he loaned Mabel to a nearby tourist attraction that was assembling an exhibition of rare teddy bears.  Mabel joined the British Bear Collection from Barnwell Castle, the Wareham Bears from Dorset, and others.  The total insured value of these combined loaner bears was $900,000.

 

The insurance company insisted on 24-hour-uniformed security with highly trained guard dogs.   Security Guard Greg West was on duty when Mabel the bear showed up at the exhibition area.  His canine partner of six years was a Doberman named Barney.

 

All the most valuable bears in the collection were kept inside glass cases.  However, Mabel needed some prep work, so she was left on a large worktable.  Greg West came strolling through with Barney the Doberman, who was not on a leash.  Seeing Mabel laying there belly-up, West could not resist giving her a stroke and saying what a nice little bear she was.  Barney saw this and freaked out.

 

In a jealous rage, he attacked Mabel and tore her head off.  The ninety-seven-year-old, $75,000 Steiff teddy bear that Elvis once owned was decapitated – by the guard dog.  Uh oh.  Barney must have liked the taste of stuffing, because he went on to tear up several other bears worth another $25,000.

 

The insurance company can’t be too happy about having to pay this claim, and Sir Benjamin is really mad.  Who can blame him? 

 

There is something ironic about this strange story.  Perhaps you noticed.  This is the second Elvis story involving a security guard named West that didn’t turn out so well.  Hopefully, Greg West won’t try to emulate Red West and publish a tell-all book titled “Barney: What Happened?”

 

The attraction where all this took place is Wookey Hole Caves near Somerset.  How’s that for a name?  Their website boasts that Wookey Hole has 300,000 visitors a year and is “the most stunning underground caverns in the British Isles.”  In addition, the Wookey Hole attractions include: Dinosaur Valley (20 life-size dinosaurs), Victorian Arcade (large collection of Edwardian Arcade machines you can play), Pirates of the River Axe (pirate ship game area involving nerf cannonballs), Magical Mirror Maze (distorted mirrors plus a maze you try to navigate through), and Enchanted Fairy Garden, (a river trail where you encounter fairies, elves, and dragons).

 

What Wookey Hole doesn’t have anymore is Barney the guard dog – and probably not Mabel the Elvis bear either, if Sir Benjamin has any sense.

 

©  2006   Philip R Arnold   www.elvisblog.net

FIVE CONCERTS AT ELVIS WEEK 2007

Darwin Lamm has announced his schedule of Elvis Week concerts for next year — and he will be going out in style.  Since 1988, Lamm has entertained close to fifty thousand Elvis fans in Memphis with his series of Good Rockin’ Tonight concerts.  In all likelihood, 2007 will be the last blast from Darwin.  It could also be close to the end of the performing careers for some of the musicians.  So, this will be the year to go to Elvis Week and take in great concerts.  Here’s what Darwin has lined up. 

 

On August 14, the TCB Band does two “Good Rockin’ Tonight” shows.  Fronting them will be Terry Mike Jeffrey.  I’ve seen Terry Mike perform with the TCB boys twice, and he does a great job on Elvis songs.  The previous Elvis Week concerts with TCB Band and Terry Mike Jeffrey have been great successes.

 

On August 15, Scotty Moore will be honored at “The Last Man Standing” double-concert.  See last week’s blog article on this exciting event.

 

Finally, on August 16, there will be two “Spirit of The King” shows featuring a dozen or more of the best Elvis Tribute Artists.  This will be similar to the terrific show Darwin presented in 2005, and it was the entertainment bargain of the week.  These are not guys who perform at retirement homes or shopping center openings.  These tribute artists all make a nice living touring North America with their individual shows, and now they all will be assembled on one stage.  These are going to be fun concerts.

 

©  2006   Philip R Arnold   All Rights Reserved   www.elvisblog.net

ELVISBLOG NEWS — 8/16/06

It is 6AM and I am sitting at the computer totally bummed.  For two weeks I have been looking forward to watching Elvis movies all day today to celebrate the 29th anniversary of his passing.  I even posted an article on 8/2/06 extolling praise on Turner Classic Movies for bringing us fourteen consecutive Elvis movies,  and I urged Elvisblog readers to watch as many as you could, too.

Well, I apologize.  In doing research two weeks ago to plan my Elvis movie watching, it appears I linked up to Turner Classic Movies in England, not the USA.  There was nothing on the home page to tell you this.  Only when I checked the old print-out of the Elvis movie schedule did I notice the URL was tcm.co/uk.  Boy, do I feel dumb.

The folks in England are getting a better deal than us today.  I checked old favorite TVNow on the web, and there are no Elvis movies on any channel available to us today.  That really stinks.  The best things offered are two documentaries on Biography cable channel.  At 8AM and again at midnight, they offer “Elvis and June:  A Love Story”.  This 60-minute show is built around home movies June Jaunico took in 1956, and it is very good.  The other choice is “Elvis' Entourage” at 10PM.  I have never seen this.

I'm already depressed, and if I wanted to feel worse I could watch “The Last Days of Elvis” at 9AM on E!  No way.  Again, I am sorry for getting people's expectations up with bogus information.  Hopefully, not too many folks got up at 5AM ready to watch Harum Scarum.

THE 14th MOST OUTRAGEOUS MOMENT IN ROCK & ROLL

VH1 has filled hundreds of hours of viewing time with their various lists.  Many of the lists had Elvis in there somewhere, but he never got enough respect in my opinion.  In a 2003 Elvis International Magazine article, I slammed VH1 for the shabby treatment they gave Elvis in these lists:  100 Greatest Artists of Rock & Roll (#8), 100 Greatest Albums of Rock & Roll (only one, “The Sun Sessions – #21), and 100 Greatest Songs of Rock & Roll (only four, “Jailhouse Rock” – #18, “Hound Dog” – #31, “All Shook Up” – #68, and “Heartbreak Hotel” – #71).

 

Well, VH1 has done it again, but maybe we should be thankful that Elvis doesn’t rank too high in the most outrageous rock & roll moments.  Five of the top six on the list were violent deaths:  Marvin Gaye (1984), Curt Cobain (1994), John Lennon (1980), a fan at the Rolling Stones concert at Altamont, CA (1969), and eleven fans at a Who concert (1979).  Breaking up that string of deaths is Michael Jackson getting charged with child molesting (1993).  Who wants to be in a group like this?

 

Elvis is on the list three times.  #99 is “Elvis Presley meets President Richard Nixon (1970).”  I don’t think of that as very shocking.  However, not many people could show up at the White House unannounced and get in to see the President, so, in that respect, it is somewhat outrageous.  I’m glad it made the list and have no problem with it being #99.

 

#21 is “Elvis Presley Dies (1977).”  This was very big news when it happened, but fortunately it lacked the violence that propelled those other rock deaths into the Top 6.  However, it should have at least ranked ahead of at the three picks immediately in front of it on the list: Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee’s sex video (1996), Michael Jackson getting burned while filming a Pepsi commercial (1984), and Ozzie Osbourne biting the head off a dove (1981).

 

VH1 decided the14th most outrageous moment in rock & roll was “Elvis Presley shakes his hips on national TV (1956).”  When I saw the website promo, I thought, “Oh man, they’re going to get it wrong again and talk about the Ed Sullivan show.”  Well, I was very pleased when the narrator cited Elvis’ June 5 appearance on the Milton Berle Show.  They showed the whole clip of him singing “Hound Dog,” and it’s easy to see what set off the national outrage.  Near the end of the song, Elvis switched into a slow, bump-and-grind bluesy version.  It would be nothing today, but back then, Elvis scared the heck out of most parents.  They were sure he was leading the nation’s teenagers straight into juvenile delinquency.

 

VH1 did get one thing wrong.  They made reference to the three Ed Sullivan Shows that came later, but said Elvis was filmed from the waist up in all three.  Actually, it was only the last show in January 1957.

 

I’m OK with Elvis' appearance on thr Milton Berle Show not ranking up there with those violent deaths at the top of the list.  But, relative to the times when it occurred, the furor over Elvis shaking his hips on TV in 1956 should rank in front of these selections:  Madonna’s racy book “Sex” (1992), John Lennon saying, “We’re bigger than Jesus” (1966), Sinead O’Conner ripping the Pope (1991), Woodstock ’99 turning into a riotous mess (1999), and Milli Vanilli getting exposed for lip-synching (1990).

 

VH1 has been compiling these lists for almost a decade, and they are running out of good categories.  They have regressed to stupid subjects such as “The 40 Worst Celebrity Mug Shots.”  I have a suggestion for them: “The 40 Best Elvis Jumpsuits.”  Now that would be fun.

 

©  2006   Philip R Arnold   www.elvisblog.net

 

ELVIS MOVIE MARATHON

Turner Classic Movies hasn’t given the above title to their TV schedule for August 16  – but they could.  TCM will show 24 hours of consecutive, commercial-free Elvis movies on the 29th anniversary of his death.  Fourteen movies in all.  What a treat for Elvis fans this year.  Especially this one, who is going to miss Elvis Week for only the second time this decade and is starting to get bummed about it.  So, who wants to watch Elvis Movies?

 

Here’s a look at what TCM has lined up.  Their 24-hour period runs from 5AM on the 16th until the same time next morning.

 

Harum Scarum – 5AM:  I’m glad they are showing this one.  It’s been a long time since I last saw it and I don’t have it on tape.   How strange will the plot to bump off the ruler of a desert kingdom seem in this day and age?

 

Stay Away, Joe — 6:35AM:  This is a very rare opportunity to see Stay Away, Joe.  As I wrote on the 11/27/05 blog, this has to be Elvis’ worst movie, but if you haven’t seen it, I recommend that you do.  It will make you appreciate Clambake and Tickle Me as fine artistic achievements.

 

Double Trouble – 8:15AM:  This is not a good enough movie for me to use up a half-day of vacation.  I’m going to work.

 

The Trouble With Girls – 10:00AM:  I won’t feel too bad about missing this one, either.  The music’s not that great.

 

Girl Happy – 11:50AM:  This is a “don’t miss” Elvis movie for me.  It has Shelly Fabares in it, and she’s my favorite Elvis co-star.  The music is very good.  I’d stretch my lunch hour to catch Girl Happy, but it won’t be necessary.  A half-day of vacation will give me the time to watch this and two more goodies.

 

Jailhouse Rock – 1:30PM:  I’ve seen it six or seven times, but one more will be fun.  I’ll amuse myself by paying attention to the scenes where Scotty Moore, Bill Black and DJ Fontana are on screen.  They are in this movie a lot.

 

Elvis On Tour – 3:15PM:  A nice change of pace.  I am looking forward to this documentary because it’s been ten years since I last saw it.

 

It Happened at the World’s Fair – 5:05PM:  Time out for dinner with the family.  They will get my undivided attention for two hours, and then it’s back to the TV for:

 

Viva Las Vegas – 7:10PM:  There ought to be a law that requires this movie to be broadcast on January 8 and August 16 every year.  It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve seen it.  Watch it again.  Ann Margaret.  Mmmm.

 

Elvis: That’s The Way It Is – 9:00PM:  Another documentary, but with tons of backstage rehearsal footage.  I like watching Elvis at 35: thin, healthy, and excited to get back to performing live.  Perfect prime-time viewing.  I’m making popcorn.

 

Speedway – 10:45PM:  For some reason, it’s been a long while since I’ve seen this one.  I’ll brew a fresh pot of coffee and try to stay awake for Elvis and Nancy Sinatra.  She does look so fine.

 

Live A Little, Love A Little – 12:30AM:  I’ll try, but sleep will probably overtake me.  If you’re a night owl, definitely watch this one.  Read the Elvisblog article of 7/3/05 first to see why I call this Elvis’ strangest movie and keep a watch for all the weird stuff I point out.

 

Kissin Cousins – 2:00AM:  Not a chance.  To late for me.  Saw it in January, anyway.  If you are going to watch it, you might want to reread the blog article posted on 1/22/06.

 

Girl Happy – 3:30 AM:  The only double dip.  Not necessary because it was on over lunch the day before.

 

So, it looks like I’m good for eight of the Elvis films that Turner Classic Movies will present on August 16.  I’d rather be at Elvis Week, but this isn’t a bad consolation.  Let’s give big thanks to TCM for the special programming.  I feel like I should be calling an 800 number to make a contribution to keep it coming.

 

And, I hope all you fans have a great day of Elvis movie watching, too.

 

©  2006   Philip R Arnold   www.elvisblog.net