Monthly Archives: April 2007


How’s That For A Prediction?:  Last Sunday Elvisblog discussed various projects involving digital editing of old Elvis footage through green screen and rotoscoping techniques.  The last paragraph predicted there would be more to come, and, boy, was that ever right.  Just five nights later, American Idol featured a duet by Elvis and Celine Dion on the song “If I Can Dream.”  The Elvis footage used was rotoscoped from the ’68 Comeback Special.  


I can think of a few singers I’d rather see paired up with Elvis, but you have to give credit to Celine Dion for doing a great job.  The visual was outstanding, and now it has quickly become the most popular video download on i-Tunes.  If you missed the show and want to see the video, click on


The public’s interest in Elvis’ appearance on American Idol has resulted in a big jump in visits to Elvisblog.  With past articles titled “Elvis and American Idol” and “Elvis gets Rotoscoped,” Elvisblog has been popping up on lots of Google searches the past few days.


(C)  2007   Philip R Arnold   All Rights Reserved


Back on August 16, 2002, cable network CNN did something interesting to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Elvis’ death.  It ran an article on one of its websites – — titled Viva the Elvis Portfolio.  The article started like this:  “Elvis may have left the building, but you can find a way to make him stay in your stock portfolio.”


CNN/Money listed 13 stocks for Elvis fans who wanted to invest in the King.  The stocks had a connection to Elvis, although a few would have to be considered a stretch.  Nike (NKE) had one of the strongest connections, because it had commercials running at the time using Elvis’ song  “A Little Less Conversation.”  Walt Disney (DIS) was another, because its recent hit film Lilo & Stitch featured six Elvis songs.  NBNA (KRB) also had a strong connection, because it was the bank that had issued Elvis credit cards.


Other good choices included:  American Greetings (AM) that produced greeting cards and Christmas tree ornaments with Elvis’ image; Department 56 (DFS) that marketed Graceland Christmas collectibles; International Game Technology (IGT), manufacturers of Elvis slot machines; MGM (MGM), the producer of Elvis movies; and Hilton Hotels, where he performed in Las Vegas.


In my opinion, the other five companies had fairly weak connections to Elvis:  Mattel (MAT), General Motors (GM), J.M. Smuckers (SJM), Mead/Westvaco (MWV), and Guitar Center (GTRC).  Mattel had a Barbie Doll wearing a poodle skirt with “Elvis” stitched on it.  Elvis owned Cadillacs made by GM.  Smuckers made grape jelly and peanut butter.  Mead/Westvaco, a huge paper company, had a tiny part of their business coming from Elvis calendars.  And Guitar Center was a place where Elvis ‘could’ have bought a guitar according to CNN/Money.


What if any loyal Elvis fans had followed CNN’s advice on August 16, 2002 and invested in the eight stocks with true Elvis connections.  How well would they have done? 


Keep in mind the trend in the stock market at that time.  Because of 9-11 and the collapse of the dot-com bubble, the market had been in decline for almost two-and-a-half years.  Most stocks and the major indexes bottomed out during the fourth quarter of 2002, and the trend since has been generally up.  So, we would definitely expect the ‘Elvis stocks’ to have made money.  Here are the results:


                                   8/16/02            4/26/07            Change


Nike                             $20.76             $53.84             +159%

Walt Disney                  $15.08             $35.18             +133%

American Greetings       $16.93             $25.61             + 51%

Int. Game Technology    $15.48             $39. 50            +155%

MGM                            $18.33             $70.53             +285%

Hilton Hotels                 $11.85             $35.19              +197%


Wow!  That’s impressive.  The CNN/Money article never actually advised people to buy these stocks, but that sure would have been a good call.  Two stocks could not be listed above because they no longer exist as separate corporate entities.  NBNA was part of the merger/acquisition trend to bigger banks, and Department 56 became part of the Lennox Group family of giftware and housewares. 


Stock performance is often measured against the major market indexes.  For the same period, the Dow is up 49%, the S&P 500 is up 61%, and the NASDAQ is up 88%.  So, relative to the broad market, the group of ‘Elvis stocks’ did great.  


Today, you actually can invest in Elvis.  EPE, Elvis’ estate, is now 85% owned by Robert Sillerman’s media empire CKX Inc.  (CKXE).  Back on March 20, 2005, in an Elvisblog article, I recommended buying some CKX stock.  It was selling at $26.73 at the time.  How good a tip was that?  Three months later, the stock was selling for $13.72.  Since then, it has bounced around and now sits at $11.73.  I don’t get it.  CSX also owns American Idol, and that is a money generating machine.  With Elvis Cirque du Soleil coming, as well as the projected new attractions at Graceland, I still feel like CKX has to be a growth stock.  However, it might be smart to follow CNN/Money’s recommendations rather than mine.


©  2007   Philip R Arnold   All Rights Reserved


This column probably should be titled “Discover Your Inner Elvis,” but it’s been fun using strange titles lately, so let’s go for one more.  On the serious side, EPE has chosen an excellent title for their new national promotion, and the advertising plan they have developed for it is most impressive.  “Discover Your Inner Elvis” is something you are going to see and hear a lot in 2007.


On Monday, April 16, EPE announced a comprehensive campaign covering TV, radio, print, and the Internet.  The complete press release is posted at   It describes how the “’Discover Your Inner Elvis” campaign is designed to get more people to visit Graceland.  Read closely and you will note that Graceland is referred to as a pop-culture travel destination the whole family can enjoy.


I love that tag.  A Pop-Culture Travel Destination.  Let’s see, what else is in that category?  Universal Studios Florida?  Disney World?  Dollywood?  Is Graceland morphing into a theme park?  I hope so.  The more attractions the better.  Stagger their openings over several years and give us fans the incentive to come back frequently.  With all the land EPE has bought around the mansion, you know new stuff is coming.  And you can count on this to include a couple of features for the kiddies.


EPE figures they already have a great destination, and the “Discover Your Inner Elvis” campaign is going to coax a lot of folks to visit Graceland. It features 30 and 60 second TV spots that will run on cable networks including Lifetime, Oxygen, Soap, HGTV, Food, Style, E!, and Discovery.  In addition, coverage will be placed on local channels in six or more major markets.


So, how do the TV spots encourage the viewers to discover their inner Elvis?  They take a stereotypical “soccer mom” wearing an Elvis jumpsuit and insert her into Elvis’ role on stage in the original Aloha From Hawaii concert footage.  After she struts around doing familiar Elvis moves and a karate kick, we realize this is a dream sequence as the scene dissolves back to her in front of the American Eagle jumpsuit display at Graceland.


If you would like to see these very nicely done spots, click on and have some fun.  After viewing them (and the original Aloha From Hawaii footage used in their production), you may wonder how they took Elvis out of the film and added the soccer mom.  It involves two interesting technologies called green screen and rotoscoping.  The actress was filmed in front of a large green screen.  It was a simple matter to delete the background from the film, leaving just her image ready to be inserted into the archival footage.


However, getting Elvis out of that old film was a tedious process.  Rotoscoping has been around since at least 1993 when it was used to remove Humphrey Bogart from an old movie, so he could be inserted into the Arnold Schwarzenegger flick Last Action Hero.  If it is still done the way they described it in a magazine article back then, computer jockeys display a single frame of film on a large monitor.  The image is overlaid with a grid dividing it into nine segments.  Then, they work on one segment at a time, blown up to full screen, and divided into many tiny squares in a tight grid.


At this point, they can go one of two ways.  If every square beyond Elvis’ image is highlighted and deleted, you have just Elvis left.  If every square inside Elvis’ image is highlighted and deleted, Elvis definitely has left the building.


The tedious part is that there are nine segments per frame of film, and there are twenty-four frames per second of viewing time.  So, it took a while, but they did take Elvis out of the Aloha footage.  To fill in the gaps created, they connect and blend the images on either side of the gap.  It’s not perfect, but it does fine when the image of the soccer mom is inserted over it.


We can probably look forward to seeing more re-edited film of Elvis.  The rotoscope technique makes just about anything possible.  We’ve already had Dolly Parton riding in a convertible with Elvis in that Tennessee tourism spot.  They rotoscoped Shelly Fabares out of Clambake footage and inserted Dolly.  Check it out at


And, there is the BBC Radio 2 commercial with Elvis introducing a fantasy all-star band playing behind him.  The bandmates include Stevie Wonder, Sheryl Crow, Jimmy Page, Keith Moon, and Marvin Gaye.  You can catch that one at


Remember the videos of Natalie Cole or Hank Williams Jr. singing duets with their long-dead fathers?  Wouldn’t it be fun to see young Elvis from the Ed Sullivan footage doing a duet with Elvis wearing the American Eagle jumpsuit from Aloha?  With all the hours and hours of Elvis on film, the possibilities are endless.


So, maybe “Elvis Gets Rotoscoped” is not only a good title for this article, but also a prediction of the future.


©  2007   Philip R Arnold   All rights Reserved

Fool's Gold Sandwich

When I started Elvisblog two years ago, I knew sooner or later I would write about the late night flight Elvis took to Denver just to satisfy his craving for a special sandwich.  This is one of the most classic of all the stories in Elvis lore, a prime example of why I like writing about him so much.  Elvis was one unique guy.


Recently, I stumbled on to a link to the website for Maxim magazine, which I had never heard of.  Now I know it’s a men’s magazine featuring “hot girls, sex, sports, games, technology, and everything cool.”  I guess the last category is where they would put the article I linked to: “Dumbest Rock Star Extravagances.”


Guess what was #1?  Just ahead of Mick Fleetwood spending $8 million on cocaine and Elton John spending over $410,000 on flowers, is Elvis Presley flies to Colorado to pick up sandwiches.  Here are the details of the story.


After a mid-seventies concert in Denver, Elvis visited a restaurant called the Colorado Gold Mine Company.  He ordered the house specialty, a sandwich named Fool’s Gold (because of it's outrageous price of $49.95).  It was large enough to cut up and feed six or eight people, but legend has it that Elvis ate the whole thing – and loved it.




On the evening of February 1, 1976, Elvis was entertaining two lawmen from Denver in the Graceland Jungle Room.  That’s not as surprising as it sounds, because Elvis went through a period of extreme interest in law enforcement.  (Remember the collection of police and sheriff badges on display at Graceland?)  Anyway, the subject of the Fool’s Gold sandwich came up. One of the men remarked, “Boy, I wish I had me one of them now.”


That was all Elvis needed to hear.  He replied, “Let’s go get ‘em.”  Elvis made a couple of phone calls.  He placed an order with the restaurant owner for 22 of the special sandwiches, and he instructed his pilots to get his personal jet Lisa Marie ready to go.


At Midnight, Elvis, the two lawmen, and two Memphis Mafia buddies took off for Denver.  Although the Lisa Marie was always stocked with a variety of food and drink, Elvis had nothing but a Pepsi.  He was saving room for the mouthwatering treat.  At 1:40 AM the plane landed at Stapleton Airport and taxied to a private hangar. The restaurateur and his wife were waiting with the 22 Fool’s Gold sandwiches (served on silver trays), a case of champagne, a case of Perrier, and a chest of cracked ice.


After everyone gorged themselves, the group flew back to Memphis.  The tab for the feast came to $3,387, but total expenses including the round trip flight came to over $16,000. 


So what is a Fool’s Gold sandwich?  A large loaf of Italian white bread is slathered with butter and baked at 350º for about 15 minutes until well browned.  The loaf is sliced lengthwise and part of the interior is scooped out to make room for the filling.  This consists of one jar of Skippy creamy peanut butter, one jar of Smucker’s grape jelly, and one pound of lean bacon fried crisp.  The calorie content of this monster sandwich is estimated at 42,000.




Do you think Maxim magazine got it right?  Was this the dumbest rock star extravagance ever?  I don’t think so, but it is a great example of what made Elvis special.  You don’t do things small when you are the King of Rock and Roll.


© 2007   Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister   All Rights Reserved  


Earlier this year, we had fun looking back at the 1956 New York Times review of Elvis’ first movie Love Me Tender.  To say the least, the reviewer didn’t like it.  Do you think Elvis fared any better in the review published in Time Magazine?  Of course not.
For some reason, the unnamed writer begins the review with a description of Elvis’ face.  Considering that Pat Boone said Elvis looked like a Greek god, and Carl Perkins called Elvis the best looking man he had ever seen, it’s hard to figure out how Time could say these outrageous things:
“Is it a sausage?  It is certainly smooth and damp-looking, but who ever heard of a 172-lb. sausage 6 ft. tall?”  These were the opening lines of the review in America’s leading news magazine.  It sounds like a fourteen-year old wrote them.  Give me a break.  They refer to Elvis as “it” and say he looks like a sausage.
            “Is it a Walt Disney goldfish?  It has the same sort of big,
            soft, beautiful eyes and long, curly lashes, but who heard of 
            goldfish with sideburns?”  These lines are just as stupid, but 
            at  least there is praise for Elvis’ eyes and lashes.  What
            Disney goldfish was he referring to, anyway?
“Is it a corpse?  The face just hangs there, limp and white
with its little drop-seat mouth.”  OK, lets summarize: The
Time reviewer thinks Elvis’ Greek god face looks limp and
damp and white and just hangs there.  I’d like to know what
this guy thinks a handsome face looks like.
Next, the reviewer describes Elvis’ body motions as he sings.  “But suddenly the figure comes alive.  The lips part, the eyes half-close, the clutched guitar begins to undulate back and forth in an uncomfortably suggestive manner.  And wham!  The midsection of the body jolts forward to bump and grind and beat out a low-down rhythm.”  This is a fine description of Elvis’ live performances in 1956, but it in no way describes his motions in the movie Love Me Tender. There were only four songs, and two were ballads, and Elvis is very restrained doing them.  I guess the writer just had to get in some well-crafted lines whether they fit in a movie review or not.
Then it was time to describe Elvis’ singing voice.  “As the belly dance gets wilder, a peculiar sound emerges.  A rusty foghorn?  A voice?  Or merely a noise produced, like the voice of the cricket, by the violent stridulation of the legs?”  Now, I like a good simile as much as the next reader, but that’s the dumbest comparison I’ve ever seen.  Can you visualize Elvis rubbing his legs together to produce a sound like a rusty foghorn?  Awful.  And the Editor left it in the piece.
The review continues:  “Words occasionally can be made out like raisins in cornmeal mush.  ‘Goan…git…luhhv…’  And then all at once everything stops, and a big, trembly tender half smile, half sneer smears across the CinemaScope screen.  The message that millions of U.S. teenagers love to receive has just been delivered.”  How about that.  Despite the knock on his diction (going, get, love), Elvis does get a begrudging compliment.  And we’ll have to give credit to the writer for a pretty good simile with the raisins in cornmeal thing.
At this point in the review, there were only four lines left, and neither the movie nor Elvis’ acting had been discussed yet.  Here is all they printed: “In his first screen appearance, with a secondary role as the hero’s little brother, in an otherwise routine western, Elvis Presley all but steals the show from such better known players as Richard Egan and Debra Paget.”  Finally, a full-fledged compliment.  Then the reviewer predicted Love Me Tender would be a box-office bonanza.  At least he got that right.
©  2007   Philip R Arnold   All Rights Reserved


Hey, You Can’t Do That:  Here’s something to illustrate how strong Elvis’ hold on teenagers was back in 1956.  The district school board in Irondequoit, NY, offered to let the students name a new $3,500,000 school.  The ballots came back with a clear preference for “The Elvis Presley High School,” but the board reneged and pulled the offer.  How’s that for a good lesson in keeping your word?


Shows How Much He Knew:  John Campbell Crosby, TV critic for the New York Herald Tribune fifty years ago, wrote four columns a week carried in 104 newspapers.  He once described Elvis as “Unspeakably untalented.”  Crosby has been called erudite, witty, and corrosive.  I would like to add one more adjective – stupid.


Elvis Movie Box Office Rankings:  According to, six of Elvis’ movies ranked in the top 20 for their year of release.  Viva Las Vegas did the best at # 11 in 1964, followed by Jailhouse Rock at # 12 in 1957 and Blue Hawaii at # 13 in 1961.  King Creole, generally considered Elvis’ best acting performance, did not make the box office top 20 in 1958.  His other top 20 movies were Love Me Tender, G.I. Blues, and Girls, Girls, Girls.  None of Elvis’ movies after 1965 came anywhere near the top 20.


Not Just Teenagers Went For Elvis:  Lots of middle-aged females are Elvis fans now, but he must have appealed to some right from the start.  In 1956, a reporter at a concert in Fort Worth, Texas overheard a well-dressed older woman plead to Elvis:  “I’ve got my husband’s Cadillac outside. Come with me?”  The report didn’t say whether Elvis took her up on the offer or not, but we know he had a thing for Cadillacs.


Gimme Back My Autograph:  Robert Plant, lead singer for the heavy metal band Led Zeppelin, is a big Elvis fan.  He once visited Elvis at Graceland, and the two harmonized on Elvis’ hit “Love Me.”  Elvis then autographed a photo, “To Robert, a true friend.  Treat me like a fool, Elvis Presley.”  Many years later, Plant said, the woman I was living with kept it for ten years, but finally gave it back when I surrounded the house with tanks.”


Milk Cow Blues:  In Amarillo, Texas, a reporter once asked young Elvis if he intended to marry.  Elvis answered: “Why buy a cow when you can get milk through a fence?”  We can assume Elvis had plenty of calcium in his diet in the 50s with all the milk he got through the fences.


No Gold Record For This:  In 1995, a Finnish Professor, Jukka Ammondt, translated several of Elvis’ hits into Latin.  He then released a CD with the vocals provided by Finland’s Eurovision Choir.  What was his rational for this?  “Latin,” said Ammondt, “is an eternal language, so what better way to immortalize a legend.”  My favorite songs have to be their renditions of “Tenere Me Ama,”(“Love Me Tender”) and “Nunc Hic aut Numquam” ( “It’s Now or Never”).


Another Strange List:  I don’t know who tabulated it, but there is a list of the most popular Halloween wigs.  Elvis came in # 6, just behind Bride of Frankenstein.  The top five were all women’s wigs, but at least Elvis beat Cleopatra.


Gamblers Give Up On Elvis:  Did you know that bookmakers used to give odds that Elvis would be found alive?  Over the years, bookmaker William Hill took thousands of bets, but by 2004 wagers that Elvis was still alive had all but dried up.  In 2005, he was giving 1000 to 1 odds, with no takers.  Bookmaker Rupert Adams gave the biggest odds ever on an Elvis-related bet.  He offered 14 million to 1 odds that Elvis would crash land a UFO into Lock Ness and hit the monster.  Didn’t we read about that happening in the National Enquirer?


©  2007   Philip R Arnold   All Rights Reserved