Sunday, July 29, 2007

The camera is not fixable

If you read my last post you know that I dropped my (Panasonic Lumix) digital camera the other day after taking a picture of my Elvis luggage. I now know that the camera cannot be repaired. Well, maybe it can be, but price-wise it probably isn't worth it.

But I've seen the camera I will probably replace it with... The Panasonic DMC-TZ3K, which is just as powerful - but even smaller than the one I broke. Here's a picture. Isn't it cute? Small but with a great zoom - best for taking closeups of the guests at all the events I'll be attending. :)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

16 days to go - and my suitcase is out!

Those who know me know that when I travel (which is frequent), I manage to do laundry the day or so before I leave and my suitcase comes out the night before I am leaving.

But today - my suitcase is already out, ready for packing for Elvis week. Yikes! This year I see no reason to get dressed up for anything, although I'll wear something nicer than a t-shirt for Ms. Cocke's benefit event. But hey, you're not interested in what I'm packing.

Since I will be taking my laptop, I'll have to check my Elvis-themed suitcase. Oh, and by the way, I have noticed that since I have been using this luggage the security inspectors have been opening my suitcase for inspection MUCH more frequently than when I used a plain old black suitcase. I wonder if they're looking for some kewl Elvis goodies. Hmm.

In any case, I look forward to my checked luggage arriving on time and intact. I worry about that this year after reading some horror stories about air travel this summer. But American Airlines has a very good record with me, so maybe I'm making a mountain out of a molehill here. I'll be interested in hearing how things go for you.

Drats! I just took a photo of my luggage for you (see image) – and I dropped my camera! It appears to be broken (it keeps asking me to take the lens cap off and it is, of course, off!) and I may have to buy a new one. @#$%@#

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The calm before the storm

For some reason I just realized that EW is only 3 weeks away! Yikes! The time has gone by so fast since I booked my flights and hotel. I'm still doing some planning, buying tickets, etc.

I think this is going to be the biggest Elvis Week ever. Thanks to EPE for pulling out all the stops this year. What a week of events! And mucho, mucho kudos to the Elvis Insiders team for planning that event for this year. (For last year, too, I might add). You guys ROCK!! I look forward to blogging.

Having said that, I also think it will be the last really big EW ever, in terms of attendance. EPE usually goes all out only every big anniversary (20, 25, 30 etc). In 5 years a lot of the original players will have probably - and unfortunately - passed or will not be able to participate. More important, many of the biggest fans are getting older and will be unable to attend. In addition to that, some of them who might attend may be unwilling to attend because of resentment over the price hikes that showed up this year. I don't know. I think we'll forget about that when the time comes and be happy we can still do it.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Sirius Solution

Remember my rant about Sirius? I could NOT get a new car dock for my S50 in time for my trip this weekend. So with a little thought I figured out how to have my Sirius radio in my car, in time for today's ride.

The home dock works. The receiver works. So how to make the home dock work in the car? It needs a power supply. Quick call to my local Radio Shack, and voilĂ  - power supply! They make an adapter that converts your cigarette lighter into a regular plug. Kewl, yes?

Next issue - The car dock somehow works with the car radio and uses its speakers. How could I hear what was now coming through? Inelegant but simple - buy speakers that run only on batteries. Also found at Radio Shack. They aren't great, but I can hear the broadcasts!

So my outbound trip was a Sirius success. The bad news - the adapter is so large it interferes with the poorly designed cup holders in my Passat. So I have no place to put my water bottle while Sirius is playing. The good news is I found a power outlet in the trunk of my car. It appears to be the same cigarette-lighter in the car. So I plug the adapter in there in my trunk. Then I will buy an extension cord which will wend its way under the back seat, floor mats, under the front seat... where the home dock can plug into it. VoilĂ  Home dock successfully in use - AND I get my cup holder back.

I tell you... problem solver is my middle name. ;-) I still need to find out if there is a way to connect this to the sound system in the car. Any ideas?

Thursday, July 19, 2007

New Links

I've added some links for your Elvis Week convenience. Over there on the right.
There are 2 calendar links and one link to the other blogs reporting on the official Elvis week website.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Sirius Satellite Radio Equipment Rant

I'm annoyed. I have had a Sirius S50 portable device for over a year (and out of warranty). I have a car kit and a home kit. I've had to replace the car antenna and the reception at home kicks out unevenly, even on gorgeous sunny days. But that's not why I'm irritated.

Now the car dock has died and I having great difficulty getting a new one. The new car kit I ordered from Sirius didn't have the car dock and when I called about that, they said they didn't sell it anymore. All the stores - both brick-and-mortar and online - no longer have the car kits (even though they still appear on their websites). All the eBay listings include the receiver, which I don't want to pay for again (There was one car dock only item but I didn't win it because I didn't want to pay as much for that as for the whole box).

OK, so I see the handwriting on the wall. I'm going to have to get a new receiver. The Stiletto is the new portable device and it's really portable in that you can really listen to Sirius live on the go! The portability is not limited to pre-recorded stuff. That's what I want. And if I want to spend even more money, I can get the wi-fi enabled version. That's what I really want. (sigh)

The irritation I have is because of this: I thought I might keep the S50 receiver in the home dock and use the Stiletto everywhere else. But I can only do that if I buy an additional subscription to Sirius! GRRRRRRRRR!

The second irritation is cost. Reading reviews, I learned that I'm still going to have to buy a car dock for reasonable reception with the Stiletto in the car.

Does anyone want to buy a Sirius S50 receiver with home docking kit? Includes the receiver, dock, antenna.. You have to buy (or transfer) your own Sirius subscription.

I'm still looking for a car dock on eBay, although I really want to have something in place for a long drive I'm taking this weekend.

Rant over.

Saturday, July 14, 2007


ETAS (Elvis Tribute Artists) have been around since before Elvis died. Of course, since his death their numbers have grown considerably. I guess I've been aware of them since forever, but only in a negative way - newscasters only show the more unflattering versions.

The first time I saw an ETA actually perform was at my first Elvis Week where there used to be annual none-EPE sponsored events every year. I don't remember the name of the guy who organized this - I think he was a dentist. There were Elvises of all shapes, types, ages and nationalities. We met Japanese and Korean ETAs. Blacks. Women. It was so strange to see SO MANY people wandering around the place - all in Elvis performance garb, from the '50s to the '70s.

We were contemplating using them in "200 Cadillacs" but I was adament with my partners about not going in that direction (see first paragraph). Anyway, we interviewed a couple of them (for just-in-case) and I have to say the one overriding and sincere point every one of them wanted to make was how much they loved and revered Elvis. Several made sure we understood that they only performed for charity.

That same week I went to Marian Cocke's benefit where I saw ETAs just in street clothes sing Elvis gospel music. My reaction to them was that it was a shame they were spending their time performing as "Elvis" - when they had such talent! Why didn't they just go out and have their careers as themselves?

We met Jamie Aaron Kelley that week, too. I didn't see him perform then - I did at another location. When I did see him perform I was totally impressed. He has the knack of paying tribute to Elvis, singing his songs, and yet he still shows you Jamie. I hope to get to his show in Memphis this year.

Since then I have seen a couple of ETA shows - 2 in Vegas and one Elvis birthday contest here in Seattle (we had a female friend who had entered the contest as Elvis Chestly - she was actually pretty good - but the guy who won was in a fat Elvis costume, belly hanging over his belt. That he could win just demonstrates the bad side of having ETAs).

Today I was reading the EI forum section about the ETA contest EPE has been sponsoring. There has also been a lot of discussion about Trent Carlini on an Elvis loop I get. There is no shortage of opinions about ETAs! So I went to the EPE website to see the preliminary winners of their event. It is very heartening to me that there are so many young men taking this wonderful interest in Elvis. I'm glad to see that - as Scott has said "Elvis sells Elvis" and that should continue for a long, long time.

And there were the professional ETAs - Trent Carlini, Irv Cass. My first acquaintance with Irv (not sure about Trent) and other pros was in a documentary called "Almost Elvis". That was a wonderful film - well done. It followed a number of contestants in a national EPE contest (was it the one in Memphis I mentioned above? I don't remember). This film convinced me to appreciate them for all the work they do to do honor to Elvis. So I really like the good ones. Don't get me wrong - I do NOT mistake them for Elvis.

Having said that, I agree totally with the sentiment Elvis himself wrote in a letter to one contest winner:.."mimcry (sic) is a sincere form of being a fan. Do develop your own special talents and abilities, though.." You can see that letter in its entirety here.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

My First Time

My very first Elvis week was in 2002, the 25th anniversary of Elvis' passing. It wasn't my first time in Memphis, but it was my first Elvis Week.

We were interviewing people for "200 Cadillacs" and I had a blast. I met George, Scotty, Joe, Larry, Kang Rhee, Myrna, Gordon and several others, including some of the car salesman that were interviewed for our film. I had already met DJ and Jerry Scheff at other Elvis related events on the west coast. DJ and Jerry (along with Sonny Burgess and Kern Kennedy) had participated in a post 9/11 fundraising concert in New Jersey that I co-produced. But I digress.

After the big "Elvis-the-Concert" at the Pyramid (the one that was used in the new DVD), I got to go see all the performers with a backstage pass (thanks, Jerry). Here's a picture of me then with Glen D.

And here's a picture of Priscilla that I took at the after-party. I'm quite proud of this one. She looks really, really great here, doesn't she? Yep. I was that close! I hope to get some wonderful new ones of her this year at the EI Conference.

I didn't go to the vigil that year, although I thought about it. But that was the year of the heavy downpour (I think! Please correct me if I'm wrong) and I just didn't want to go badly enough to stand out there in the rain. This is the year, though - rain or shine.

Only 30 more days!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Susan Henning, et al at EW

Of course it would be fun to hear what this woman has to say about the steamy hot interaction she had with Elvis in the outtakes of the '68 Special. That goes without saying. But did you know she played Hayley Mills "secret co-star" in "The Parent Trap"? (not the Linday Lohan version!!) She was the "other twin". (about Susan Henning) I adored Hayley Mills films when I was a kid.

I haven't decided about attending this event yet. I would really love to chat with Billy and Jo Smith, who were, of course, 2 of the last people to see Elvis alive.

And speaking of Billy Smith, I've always wondered why he is not invited to Presley-family events - like "Presley by the Presleys". Like it or not, he was family. Is family. If it's because of his participation in some of the more sleazy shows about Elvis, why would they invite Dick Grob? or Joe Esposito? Oh well. Some things we'll never know.

Now I have to decide about this event...

Sunday, July 8, 2007

34 Days

I can't believe I'm paying attention to how many days there are before I arrive in Memphis. That's just so not me (or is it? ;))

Here's what I have so far:
Arrive Sat Aug. 11th
I understand there are 3 shows I'd be interested in seeing that evening, although I have no tickets for any of these: Wanda Jackson, Chris Isaak and Jamie Aaron Kelly. I may play that by ear, since I only arrive at 7:15 I may not get into town from the airport in time for any of them. But I have to say I will shoot for the Wanda Jackson show. I'll try to catch Jamie later in the week.
Sunday Aug 12
· Meet and Greet, Expo during the day. I'm glad I'll get there before the major rush the next day. Hope all the celebs are there already.

· George Klein Memphis Mafia reunion/dinner. I went to that event the first time I was at EW. Funny how things change - at that time I had no idea who anyone was - the speakers, that is. That was in 2002.

· the Elvis Insiders Events! I am looking forward to these. Maybe there's still a surprise guest? I'm hoping for Kurt Russell (since Mac Davis can't come ;-))

· Marian Cocke's Benefit Auction and Dinner -- The last time I went to her event the theme was Elvis' Gospel music. In addtion to the speakers who knew Elvis, she had several ETAs sing - only gospel, and not in "costume". It was very, very lovely. She puts on a classy event.

· Concerts:
"BJ Thomas and the Memphis Boys", 30th Ann'y Concerts (both). Darwin Lamm's concerts. Have I missed any? Man, I'm looking forward to ALL of the concerts! What a week!

I'd also like to see Sonny Burgess and the Pacers. I adore Sonny Burgess, having had the privelege of spending time with him and Kern when they came up to New Jersey for a post-9/11 fundraising concert I co-produced. They're playing twice, from what I can tell. Just have to get them on the schedule. --- Oh drats! I just found out that one of the concerts happens after I leave. So I've gotta make sure I see them earlier in the week.

· This year will be my first vigil. I hope it doesn't rain.

I know I'm missing something. I've gotta get organized!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Boots Randolf

Boots Randolf won't be treating us to his wonderful saxaphone sound this year at the EW concerts. He passed away this week. Some people on the EI have posted lots of pictures and a great deal of his history over there. If you're a member, you can check it out here, here,and here.

I only met him once, when we were doing interviews for various projects so I got to chat for a long time. What a warm, wonderful man he was. And that evening, after a couple of hours with him, I got to see him in Darwin Lamm's concert. What a treat and a joy that was. Boots and all the others - that whole concert.

It's surprising me how difficult a time I'm having about this passing, since I really didn't know him enough to feel a personal loss. If I put on my "self-analysis hat" I suppose I can relate it to the fact that my brother (the one who died, see first blog post). He was also a saxaphone player who often played riffs like Boots did. (You can hear him on the first Manhattan Transfer Album Tuxedo Junction (look for Mike Rod - and if you rent the movie Moscow on the Hudson, all of Robin William's mediocre sax playing (and the cool stuff on the record he listens to) is my brother.). Yeah, that's probably it.

Having said that, Boots will be missed terribly by those who enjoyed his music and I send my sincerest condolences to his family and friends.