Monday, September 21, 2009

Beej Weir's Guide to Graceland: Chapter 2: Takin' Care of Business (In a Flash)

So, while I was a fan of The King before visiting Graceland- there were a few things I didn't know about him. And one of those things was that he had created his own personal symbol. That would be his TCB lightning bolt.

TCB stands for "Taking Care of Business" (the lightning bolt being the "in a flash" part). Those of you from from the South may already be familiar with that phrase. But, it was new to this Yankee. I first noticed the lightning bolt in his TV room. I was too busy busy taking pictures to listen to Sam Elliot explain what it all meant (also, I was wearing a hat & the earphones for the audio tour didn't fit that well- Donna filled me in). But, it soon became apparent that Elvis' was quite serious about his own personal symbol. He even took it with him to his grave...
Graceland, Memphis, TN 1/18/08.03Graceland, Memphis, TN 1/18/08Graceland, Memphis, TN 1/18/08Graceland, Memphis, TN 1/18/08.08

The true origin of this symbol will be made clear later in this post. But, before we get to that, we need to talk about Elvis' sense of fashion.

I realize I may be treading on Donna's territory here, but I think it's safe to say Elvis liked clothes. And he had his own sense of style. Graceland is filled with clothes. From his "skinny Elvis" days to his days in the Army (OK, maybe he didn't have much of a choice there), from his wedding to his 1968 comeback TV special & beyond- it was clothes, clothes, clothes...
Graceland, Memphis, TN 1/18/08Graceland, Memphis, TN 1/18/08Graceland, Memphis, TN 1/18/08 Graceland, Memphis, TN 1/18/08Graceland, Memphis, TN 1/18/08Graceland, Memphis, TN 1/18/08Graceland, Memphis, TN 1/18/08Graceland, Memphis, TN 1/18/08

But, it was his amazing jumpsuits that people most remember...
Graceland, Memphis, TN 1/18/08Graceland, Memphis, TN 1/18/08Graceland, Memphis, TN 1/18/08Graceland, Memphis, TN 1/18/08Graceland, Memphis, TN 1/18/08Graceland, Memphis, TN 1/18/08.05Graceland, Memphis, TN 1/18/08

What made this man of humble origins from Tupelo, Mississippi decide to wear crazy-ass jumpsuits & capes? It's simple, really. Comic books.

Elvis grew up reading the exploits of one Captain Marvel, Jr. And when he got old enough & rich enough- he decided to become his own superhero. Take a look at the lightning bolt on Captain Marvel, Jr's chest and then take another look at Elvis' TCB symbol. It's pretty obvious, isn't it?

I'm certainly not the first guy to notice this. In fact, for a really great dissertation on the whole thing- I suggest you click on over to Robby Reed's Dial B for Blog's series on Elvis to learn more.

Elvis was definitely a man after my own heart... _9A_00061

Stay tuned for more adventures in Graceland!

Part 1

Monday, September 7, 2009

Beej Weir's Guide To Graceland: Chapter 1- Now and then, there's a fool such as I...

The other day, I was looking at the AOL main page (SHUT UP! And get off my lawn!) & saw a headline paraphrased to the effect: "Graceland is a tourist trap!" (actually, that's pretty much it, word for word).

My first reactions were 1) "Duh" and 2) "SHUT UP! Elvis rules!"

As it turned out, it was some article on their travel page about the top 10 tourist traps still worth visiting. Or whatever. But, yeah- Graceland's a tourist trap and HELL yeah, you should go.

Donna and I went back in January of 2008- about 10 days after his 73rd birthday. If he hadn't died, of course.

We were visiting Donna's parents & they wanted to know what I wanted to do while in Tennessee. I wanted to see Graceland. This is when I learned Graceland is the Pier 39 of Tennessee. (If you don't live in San Francisco- insert your city/state's tourist trap here...)

But, my in-laws are very gracious people. They smiled patiently & sprung for 2 Platinum packages. This meant we got to see everything- the house, the plane- everything. Including the TV he shot up. One of them, at least.

They dropped us off & ran like hell.

It was great. I took 101 pictures. A good number of them in focus, even (you're not allowed to use a flash). I'm currently uploading the creme of the crop. The next few posts will cover some of the more salient observations.

I checked out the website recently and they've made some changes. They've expanded the tours (you can see the stables now!). And apparently, they've replaced Sam Elliot's voice on the audio-thing that talks about what you're looking at with Lisa Marie's voice.

(I think it was Sam Elliot's voice. It sure sounded like him. If memory serves me correctly, Lisa Marie's voice did make an appearance in the Elvis Automobile Museum. But, until I learn otherwise, Sam Elliot was our audio tour guide).

Anyway, the non-VIP Platinum package is still a good deal & shows you everything you need to see. Although, I didn't see the 'Elvis After Dark' exhibit listed on the website. Maybe you won't get to see one of the TVs he shot up after all.

Lucky for you, I've got pictures.

Wow. I can now honestly say I visited Graceland when it was still cool.

Here's but a mere sampling of what's to come! Click on the thumbnails below and you'll be magically transported to my flickr page for a better look...
Graceland, Memphis, TN 1/18/08.01aGraceland, Memphis, TN 1/18/08.01Graceland, Memphis, TN 1/18/08.02Graceland, Memphis, TN 1/18/08Graceland, Memphis, TN 1/18/08Graceland, Memphis, TN 1/18/08.04Graceland, Memphis, TN 1/18/08Graceland, Memphis, TN 1/18/08Graceland, Memphis, TN 1/18/08Graceland, Memphis, TN 1/18/08Graceland, Memphis, TN 1/18/08Graceland, Memphis, TN 1/18/08Graceland, Memphis, TN 1/18/08.08Graceland, Memphis, TN 1/18/08.09

Stay tuned!

Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Saturday, September 5, 2009

A long time ago, in a suburb about an hour away...

Last night, I was watching The Clone Wars on Cartoon Network. I must say, I rather enjoyed it.

This was a bit surprising to me. I've been unhappy with the whole 'Star Wars' thing since those goddam teddy bears ruined Return of the Jedi.

But, in retrospect, I shouldn't have been so disappointed. 'Star Wars' was in trouble long before that.

(And I don't mean The Empire Strikes Back. That? Was fucking awesome!)

No, I'm talking about The Star Wars Holiday Special.

Perhaps I should back up a bit...

I've had this on the brain ever since my good friend Lance Alameda posted this piece of animation he found on his Facebook page. He had never seen it before. What he didn't know was he had stumbled across the only redeeming thing about The Star Wars Holiday Special.

I saw the The Star Wars Holiday Special when it originally aired. I was 13. Granted, I didn't know much about, well, anything. But, I think on that fateful evening I learned what "selling out" & "bait & switch" meant.

For weeks prior, the animated piece was hyped to the gills as the first appearance of Boba Fett. What they didn't explain was 1) it was going to be a cartoon & 2) not shown until the last 15 mins or so.

The show was bad. And weird. Scenes were done in Wookie-ese without the benefit of subtitles or a human character to react and/or "translate". Granted, it was surreal- but I was 13 and didn't want surreal. I wanted Star Wars.

On the plus side- it had Bea Arthur, Art Carney & Harvey Korman in it. Which would have been great- if it were an episode of The Carol Burnett Show...

But, it wasn't. It was my (then) precious Star Wars. And it was sucking. Hard.

(Coincidentally, Bruce Vilanch was one of the writers of The Star Wars Holiday Special. Not that I have anything against him persae. But, apart from sometimes resembling a Wookie, he had no business being involved).

A few years later- as an older teen, I came across an old issue of Starlog Magazine that was published right around the release of The Star Wars Holiday Special. Here's some scans, courtesy of my photobucket page. Just click on the thumbnails for a better look.

Of course, I'd kill to see this piece of shit again. Happy Life Day, everybody!

Epilogue: The following evening (Nov 18, 1978)- Carrie Fisher hosted Saturday Night Live. It was hilarious. And she wore a bikini in a sketch. Now that's what a 13 year old male Star Wars geek wanted to see!