Why Elvis remains the bar…

Elvis was and remains many things to many people – the rebel rocker, the celluloid sellout, the patriotic soldier, the Comeback King and the Vegas Jumpsuit Guy.

And, he was all this and much much more.

In some forums, non-Elvis fans often insist that Elvis has no relevance or influence on today’s musicians.

I guess the question is – if Musician C is influenced by Musician B – who was in turn influenced by Musician A – isn’t C also therefor influenced by A?

Major Elvis fans:

Roy Orbison, Buddy Holly,  Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Led Zep, Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Beatles…..and many more

Singers today in 2009 still use the Elvis template for their careers – get famous singing in a specific genre, then try to mainstream your appeal by acting and ultimately singing more mainstream music.

So far, no other singers have managed to do it half as well as Elvis.

As for being a Vegas Lounge act, I will strongly disagree with this assessment.

Lounge acts are background noise, they are a supplemental to the casinos, a mild but not compelling diversion and in terms of money, a throw away – not what people are coming to see.

Elvis never toured or performed as a 50’s nostalgia act.

He didn’t recreated his early days, when he did his earlier songs, they had different musical arrangements and were generally done as medleys.

His stage wear in the 70’s was very different from his 50’s clothes – and this 70’s stage wear was largely copied by the major teen idols of the day – David Cassidy, the Osmonds, Leif Garret and even the Jackson 5 wore jumpsuits

When Vegas had headliners, it was the gamblers in Vegas who went to the show.

After Elvis became a headliner there, he was the point of the travel – Vegas’ hotels filled and when his shows were on, the casino’s emptied.

Elvis remade Vegas into a vacation destination that mere gambling couldn’t do.

I am not saying that everything Elvis did was gold

I am not saying ever song, every concert was perfect.

Elvis did become a parody of himself. Elvis was for several stretches of time not at the top and sometimes, not even relevant to the times.

But he remains very relevant to pop culture and to the way the entertainment business works.

Before Elvis, singles were the standard and if you were good enough – an EP – a 45 with 4 songs instead of the regular 2. Maybe an LP collecting your singles and some lesser album tracks would be released.

Elvis was the second singer to sell a million of a single, but the first to do so with consecutive single releases. He was the first one to have a single who’s A and B sides raced each other up the charts – Hound Dog/Don’t Be Cruel.

With Elvis, the studio discovered they could endlessly repack the same songs on singles, EPs, LPs, Gold Hits Collections – and to this day, 50+ years later there’s endless repackages of his top 40 hits.

Elvis – without advertising – sells catalog sales in greater numbers than many touring musical acts in 2009. He’s topped the dead celebrity earning list for all but 2 years it’s been produced – and his earnings often top the top earning living celebs.

So, Elvis changed the way music was released – and how funny that we’ve come full circle back to singles with the advent of digital downloads.

Elvis also changed Hollywood – before Elvis, actors didn’t get a piece of the back end profits. Sadly, Elvis never demanded script approval – a standard long before he was making movies.

But his films stand up against any other star vehicle of the time.

And seriously, what is 8 Mile other than an update to Loving You?

He had several comebacks in his career, and had he lived, he would have continued to do so.

Elvis was a thoroughbred horse who was for most of his career used to cart hay to the stables for the other horses.

His movies were used to fund more lofty films.

His record sales to underwrite developing other artists.

And it’s for this reason that he has not ever been given his artistic due.

No artist from the mid 60’s onward would let themselves be used as Elvis was.

He churned out 3 movies a year, with 3 soundtracks and 1 non-soundtrack movie through the sixties.

From 1956 to 1977, he put out 68 long play albums and hundreds of singles and EPs.

Between 1969 and 1977, he did over 1000 concerts, often one night after the other – and twice on Sundays.

Especially when he was in Vegas – sometimes there was an afternoon mantinee, a dinner show and a midnight show.

No other artist would do three concerts in a day.

Artists today take 3 years in between albums and often don’t tour – relying on videos for promotion.

To summarize with another horse analogy, Elvis was rode hard and put away wet.

Elvis remains the bar that others try – and fail – to measure up to.

What’s a pension worth?

I never planned to talk about my job online, but something’s come up that I cannot ignore.

Bad enough the “surplus” in the Public Service Employee pension was sucked out in 1998  – this surplus was owing to investments that resulted in more money than had to be paid out at the time – this money should have remained to cover lesser yield investment years  – it would have saved taxpayer money.

But Harper wants to change the pension plan for new PSEs – this creates a two tiered system – a class system if you will, of employees of the crown – and that is unfair.

Please tell Harper to leave the PSE pension alone – per person, the MPs pension is far more costly – and they only have to do 2 terms to get a full pension

Harper’s one year first term counts as a full term – and if parliament falls when they FINALLY return, this last year will count as a second full term –

that means the MPS get a Full Pension for 2 years work?


and he has the nerve to complain about mine? I have to work 30 years & pay into the pension to get it.

and his pension will be more than my salary!

7 myths about the PSE pension plan

sign the petition here

A&W Burger Family

First, I’d like to say that I enjoy A&W burgers – as long as I remember to ask for no seasoning salt to be put on them – it adds an unpleasant aftertaste.

But, I always found the family a little confusing.

Okay – Baby Burger – a basic smaller burger.

The Teen burger – a single pattie with bacon, cheese and fixins.

But the GRANDPA burger has three patties?

Seriously, what Grandpa can out-eat a teenager?

I guess the modern Teen variation lets you get a double patty version – which makes it larger than the 2 patty Papa Burger, as it has less fixins than the double teen.

With the Mama burger, you’re back to one patty.

Sometimes you can find the Uncle Burger, a variation on the Papa.

Now, I wonder, why is there no Aunt or Grandma Burgers?

I mean, women live longer than men – especially men who eat heavy beef diets.

And what about the other burgers who are around, but not relatives? Are they cousins we just don’t talk about?

Something is seriously wrong in the A&W burger family….

What’s moral anyway?

If you only act in a given way to avoid punishment or obtain a reward, is that moral?

Lets say Person A finds a wallet with money in it on the street. If Person A check the driver’s license and returns the wallet and contents, that’s generally a moral action.

But, what if Person A returned the wallet to get a reward? Cash or maybe a small article in a local paper?

What if the wallet belonged to a known person or someone whom it would be advantageous for Person A to meet?

Or, what if Person A was religious and simply returning the wallet to avoid hell?

All three of these motivations for returning a wallet taint the action; making returning the wallet less than altruism or kindness to a fellow person.

I think most people can relate to the first couple, and depending on circumstances, they are almost reasonable- after all, you may be going out of your way, and something – at least a thank you is in order and there’s nothing wrong with the little pleasure/reward hit your brain gives you when you do a good thing either. More importantly, the first 2 scenarios arise from the finder of the wallet making a decision to act in some way – leave it, toss it, keep it, return it, keep the money and return the wallet and other contents.

Quick tip: I read about a study that placed wallets all over the city, and the wallets with the highest return rate had photos of little kids in them – so, whether you have a kid or not, drop in a photo and increase the chances of someone taking pity on you and returning the wallet.

That said, in the avoid hell scenario, there’s no decision to act – there’s simply an application of rules imposed on behavior. And actually, does keeping a found money filled wallet even count as stealing under those rules? I dunno. Maybe you need the money more and it’s gawd’s way of helping you out – a manna from heaven

So, if you only act in a manner that you think will get you into a positive afterlife and avoid a negative one – are you really moral?

I don’t think so.

I think that along with action, that your motivation, reasoning and outcome all also count in the determination.

But along with those factors is the ability to assess a situation, the likelihood of various outcomes and then make a choice of actions.

Using an external guide, like any version of the 10 Commandments, let’s say, isn’t making a decision, isn’t assessing the situation, it’s applying a set of rules that do not allow for rule conflict and have many gaps.

Do not murder seems pretty clear – not to mention self evident, but, not so in all scenarios. But, all countries have soldiers and they are trained to kill. Or, we can keep to civilians and look at Doctors – sometimes doing the least harm means allowing the patient to die. There’s no sense dragging out a death, putting their family through that agony, putting their body through the torture. Does it really count as murder if there’s no motive other than mercy and emotional harm reduction?

Stealing – what if your family is starving? Isn’t stealing and fencing things a lesser immoral action than becoming a drug dealer to make money?

Covet? Covet isn’t a bad thing – covet drives the economy – we see what the Jones next door have and we want it so we work to earn the money and we buy it too.

Coveting the wife? I suspect it’s less to do with the person than how their relationship appears in public (your fantasy of their life) compared to the reality of your relationship.

Honoring the parents. Well, what if your parents abandoned, abused, molested, made you turn tricks or sell drugs since as a kid you face lesser charges or a host of other horrifying childhood options. Wouldn’t honor the honorable be a better guideline?

The main theme of the 10 Commandments is bowing to authority from god to the parents and almost an afterthought of not doing the big self evident crimes.

Wait – actually, there’s no commandment that says thou shall not rape women or children. So apparently, that’s moral under this rule set.

There’s no commandment that says you can’t beat someone almost to death either. So assault is okay too.

In fact, most of the commandments are about worship god, not worshiping other things, not using god as a swear.

Seriously, people read these and don’t think that this is a very jealous, insecure, petty guy looking to get his ego stroked and if he doesn’t, will have a lackey torture you forever. Nice.

It never fails to astonish me that believers do not understand that being good and cooperative is needed to live in diverse and large groups of people.

Behaving a certain way to avoid punishment or obtain a reward isn’t moral, doesn’t demonstrate an understanding of morality, doesn’t demonstrate understanding that you have to cooperate with other people – in fact, that hell/heaven thing – heaven is only good as long as hell is also filled with people. Apparently, to really enjoy heaven, you have to know that others are in hell being tortured.

I just don’t see how taking pleasure in that is at all moral.

And, if all a person is about is avoiding punishment/obtaining reward, they are little different than an amoeba and the stimulus/response dance.

Support a Shelter, Win Prizes

I blogged about a book – New Lives – about rescued dogs a while back:

Earlier Blog

And a lot of you have been kind enough to go to my writer pals’ site

And have bought her book – as a thank you to supporters and to continue to raise awareness of animals in need, Joanne is running a contest:

Win over $1,000.00 worth of prizes for you and your pet….plus I’ll donate 15% of the profits from my book sales to the animal shelter of your choice.

that site again is…

Buy a book, help out a puppy.


The Challenges of Being an Elvis Fan

I think the problem is that the discrimination that Elvis himself faced – being poor, southern and getting famous outside of the approved paths – and a lot of that discrimination is heaped on his fans – how dare we like someone like that.

Elvis is perceived as being vulgar, uneducated, lacking in taste – so fans are deemed to be the same for responding to what many think Elvis was about.

Mostly it’s because they don’t have a living memory or understanding of what the 50’s were like, how Elvis changed things, and how what they think about Elvis isn’t true.

The public image of Elvis is tainted by the faked his death undying hoax, the various love children, and what really doesn’t help are all the scandal tell all books that tell you little.

But I think a lot of it is anger based – people are mad that he came from poor rural roots to be so successful (that none of his so called social betters have ever topped him) and then Elvis pissed it away.

The whole dying in the bathroom joke is stupid, since most people who die at home, actually die in the bathroom – a combo of heart attacks (often on the toilet, and usually because they tend to happen first thing when the body is stressing up for the day) and shower/tub slip n falls.

So, they can’t give Elvis his due.

But mostly there’s so many stupid myths – the worst being that Elvis stole from black musicians (he didn’t) – that artists like Eminem promote (now, you want to talk about a musical thief…)

It’s easier to believe the lazy lies than realize that his Sun Recordings were an R&B song done in a Country Style and a Country song done in an R&B style – both delivered with a Southern Gospel fervor.
The country roots of rock n roll are ignored or neglected, either as some collective guilt thing or perhaps a slight revulsion to public sexuality, a need to remain prim and proper.

The other thing is the fringe areas always get the attention.

So  the media focusing on the fringier Elvis Tribute Artists (or ETAs formerly known as impersonators)  – especially the ones who are bad, are 300+ pounds, are kids, are women, are not white –  give Elvis the carnival atmosphere

It’s sort of like how news media focus on the drag queens and little else about Gay Pride Parades

Elvis’ cultural impact was actually so huge that it’s almost background.

And the general public doesn’t know any better than to make fun of what they really don’t understand

It’s also funny how people will say, why like a guy who’s been dead thirty plus years.
But consider that film buffs aren’t teased or deemed tasteless  for liking early films or actors

Half the time, people are in awe because they aren’t at all familiar with movies from the 40s or earlier.

Shrink wrapped and sanitized for your protection