Monthly Archives: February 2010

Viva Elvis — Sorting Out the On-Line Reviews

At 8 AM on the morning after Viva Elvis had its official opening performance in Las Vegas, I Googled Viva Elvis to see what the entertainment critics had to say about the reworked Cirque du Soleil show.  For two months, there had been many reviews panning the initial trial presentations of Viva Elvis.  I was hoping the bugs had been worked out and the critical review would be positive.

Believe it or not, Google found over 2 million results for my search.  On the first page of these, there was a selection called “News results for Viva Elvis,” and you could click on links to fifty different articles.  As a service to ElvisBlog fans, I checked out every one of them.  Here are my choices for the five most interesting, and they come at the subject from substantially different directions.

Best Look at Costumes and Backstage:

I liked the Lights, Vegas, Action blog of for several reasons.  The text by Kristine McKenzie was organized into four categories: The Cast, The Music, The Costumes, and The Acrobatics.  There is also a video showing snippets of several dance numbers as well looks at some costumes and other backstage stuff.  And finally, there is a gallery of nine still shots plus three more in the body of the article.  Click on the picture below to go to this informative site.


Most Glowing Review (and most intellectual):

I was a bit surprised to read the review on the Time magazine website and find it so complimentary.  Time columnist Richard Corliss used his considerable writing talents to praise Viva Elvis using adjectives like spectacular, fantastic and ecstatic.  I love the way he says that Cirque du Soleil shows are to the typical Broadway shows what Avatar is to the 1933 King Kong.  Corliss tends to write in a scholarly manner, and he incorporates a lot of words we regular folks don’t use in everyday conversation.  I’ll share the ones I had to look up, so you won’t have to do it, too.  Éclat (striking effect). Hagiography (worshipful biography), Oeuvre (body of work), Oneiric (relating to dreams), Terpsichore (choreography), Caconical (recognized/accepted), and Chorines (chorus girls).  You will enjoy this review, so click this picture to go to it.


Best Videos about Viva Elvis: has a good article by KJ Matthews on its website.  I liked the analysis of how Viva Elvis differs from the Cirque show Love about the Beatles.  There are actually three videos you can check out, and two are good.  “A Look at Viva Elvis” covers the theater, the specially-built stage, set pieces, and backstage activity.  You may have already seen this video on the Elvis Insiders website.  I also liked “Sneak Peak at Viva Elvis,” which has excerpts of Priscilla’s interview on the Larry King Live TV show.  The last video is titled “Elvis, Obama, and Vegas,” but you can skip it unless you want to hear President Obama doing damage control over his recent slam at Las Vegas.  Click on the pink Caddy below to link to this site.


Best Description of the Elvis Songs Used in the Show:

There almost 40 Elvis songs used in the show, either in their entirety or in medleys.  The deepest discussion of the music in Viva Elvis is found in the show preview on the Las Vegas Review-Journal website.  Columnist Mike Weatherford has been writing regularly about Viva Elvis for two months, and this time he interviews Musical Director Erich van Tourneau.  It is revealing when van Tourneau discusses trying to keep Elvis moving artistically – trying to imagine how Elvis would do his hits today.  There is no video and only two photos.  Click on the one of van Tourneau below to read the interview.


Most Detail About What is in Viva Elvis:

As you may know, Cirque du Soleil is Montreal based enterprise, so it is no surprise that the Montreal Gazette would cover Viva Elvis on their website.  Columnist Pat Donnelly has written a lengthy article covering (in sequence) just about every element of the show.  I don’t know how anyone could read his piece without yearning for a trip to Vegas to see Viva Elvis.  Because there are no photos accompanying the article, here’s one I picked for you to click on to go to it.


©  2010    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved

Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

Sergeant Elvis A. Presley

Back in March 2008, Graceland opened a new exhibit called Private Presley.  At that time, I wondered why it wasn’t called Sergeant Presley, which would have given Elvis credit for the highest rank he achieved in the Army.  Likewise, the summer 2008 Elvis Catalog offered a companion selection of Private Presley merchandise.  Why not Sergeant Presley?  Okay, it’s really no big deal, but it did seem curious.


We can assume Elvis was very proud of his promotions during his two years in the Army.  He was promoted to Sergeant in February 1960, so let’s commemorate the 50th anniversary of this event with a look at his rise through the Army ranks.

Like everybody else, Elvis started his Army service as a Private in March 1958.  There is no insignia on the sleeves for this rank, as seen on the photos below:



On November 27, 1958, Elvis was promoted to Private First Class.  This rank gets one stripe on the uniform sleeve.


Six months later, on June 1, 1959, Elvis was promoted to Specialist Fourth Class.  This is sort of the same as Corporal, except that the latter is primarily for those soldiers who have passed a leadership development course and are assigned to low-level supervisory duties.  A Corporal would have two stripes on his sleeve, but the insignia for a SpecFour is this:

Here are some pictures of Elvis wearing his Specialist Fourth Class insignia:


Look closely at the next photo.  It was taken while Elvis was a Private, but check out the woman’s rank.  She was a SpecFive, three ranks higher than Elvis, so he had his arm around a superior officer.  You can get in trouble for that, right?  Well, maybe not, if you’re Elvis.  She sure doesn’t look like she minded. 

Elvis got his last promotion to Sergeant on February 11, 1960, just three weeks before he received his discharge from the Army.  Some vet friends of mine have noted that Elvis’ rise to Sergeant was extremely fast.  They kidded that he should have stayed in the Army for a couple more years and probably could have come out as a General.  A Sergeant has three stripes on his sleeve, as we see in these photographs:


This should be the end of the story about Elvis’ Army ranks and insignia, but wait, there’s more.  On Elvis’ trip home after his discharge, he travelled from Washington, DC to Memphis by train.  Col. Parker arranged for him to ride in a private railcar that was at the end of the train and had an observation platform.  So, like a Presidential candidate, Elvis appeared on the platform at every stop and waved to the assembled adoring fans.  He wore a specially tailored blue parade dress uniform, complete with white gloves.


Notice anything odd about Elvis’ rank insignia?  Now he’s got four stripes, which would be the rank of Staff Sergeant, a rank he did not achieve.  Do you think the tailor goofed, or do you think Colonel Parker might have had something to do with this phantom promotion?  He had already pulled off a phony rank for himself, so why not Elvis, too?  Anyway, it’s another one of the interesting things that makes it so much fun to write about Elvis.

©  2010    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved

Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

Happy Valentine's Day, Elvis

Valentine’s Day is the holiday of love, so my original plan for this blog was to present a photo montage of Elvis kissing girlfriends, fans and movie co-stars.  However, accumulating enough pictures to do this right has been a slow process, so look forward to seeing it in 2011.  For this year, here is a photo essay of different images that connect Elvis and Valentine’s Day.


Did you know that RCA released a posthumous Elvis album in 1985 titled A Valentine Gift to You?  It was the kick-off to a year-long celebration of the 50th anniversary of Elvis’ birth.  The song selection was a hodge-podge of lesser known album cuts and B-sides from the 50s and 60s, plus two hits, “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” (#1/1960) and “Can’t Help Falling in Love With You” (#2/1961).



A Valentine Gift For You                             Back Cover             

Here’s another album with a Valentine’s Day theme.  It appears to be a bootleg live recording of Elvis’ concert on February 14, 1977 in St Petersburg, Florida.



Because candy is a popular Valentine’s Day gift, Russell Stover and other companies have put out chocolates in heart-shaped tins adorned with pictures of Elvis.




Less popular but still prevalent Valentine’s Day gifts are colorful heart-shaped balloons.  Here are two with Elvis on them:  I really like the one that says “You’re My HONKA HONKA  Burning Love.”



Other countries have gotten in on the Elvis/Valentine’s Day connection.  I’m not sure why the images from the Netherlands and Russia below are in English,


Dutch Radio Elvis Valentine Special                     Logo of French Bar 


From A Russian Elvis Fan Club Website


With a million Elvis T-shirt designs out there, it is no surprise that one of them has a Valentine’s Day theme.


Now that we have Photoshop, many folks have created their own Valentine messages about Elvis and posted them on the internet.  Here’s a look at a few of them:




Here’s hoping all you Elvis fans and your sweethearts have a wonderful Valentine’s Day.

©  2010    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved

Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

ElvisBlog’s 5th Birthday — A Look Back at the First Elvis Blogs

On January 30, 2005, the first blog devoted to Elvis made its debut.  Five years and 800,000 hits later, ElvisBlog rolls on.  There have been many changes, so it’s fun to go back and look at the first three articles that started things off.  My original concept was for the weekly posts to contain 200 words or so, but today word counts of 800 to 1000 are common.  For the first two years, there were no photos or pictures to illustrate the columns.  Today, there are 8 or 10 in each, and many get picked up by Google Images and bring more new readers to ElvisBlog.  Let’s look at those first three, very basic blog articles.


Elvis Jukebox Rankings – 1/30/05:

Back in 1989, on the 100th anniversary of the jukebox, the Amusement & Music Operators Association published a list of the top jukebox hits of all time.  Elvis’ two-sided hit “Hound dog/Don’t Be Cruel” came in third.  This premier ElvisBlog article racked up a grand total of six hits the entire first month of the blog’s history.


Riley Keough Presley? – 2/6/05:

When Elvis’ fifteen-year-old granddaughter started her modeling career in 2005, she was listed in press releases as Riley Keough Presley, not her given name of Danielle Riley Keough.  I wondered if she might be using the Presley name to advance her career, but now, five years later, she is all over the press and the internet, and everyone refers to her as Riley Keough.  She is to be congratulated for achieving quite a bit on her own.  This ElvisBlog article ranked as the most popular for the next 54 weeks after it was posted.

Riley Keough in 2005


The Guitar that Rocked the World – 2/13/05:

I was so happy for Scotty Moore when I wrote this article.  He was finally going to be honored with a TV special filmed at the famed Abbey Road Studios in London.  Unfortunately, Scotty was far too trusting of the European producers of the project, and little turned out as promised.  Instead of a TV special titled The Guitar That Changed the World, what resulted was a DVD titled A Tribute to the King.  Click here to read more detail about what happened.  Scotty Moore has now been the topic of seven ElvisBlog columns over the years.  I really like this man.



©  2010    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved

Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

Caption Contest # 19 — Winner


Several readers submitted the same caption for this picture, and “Taking Care of Business” certainly works.  However, frequent contest winner Jean Pyle sent in one that is cruder, but also funnier, and we'll go with that.

Shake it, baby, shake it