Archive for Elvis Presley

40 years of the Elvis ’68 Television special

Posted in pop culture, TV shows with tags , , on December 3, 2008 by Paxton

Forty years ago today, Dec 3, 1968, NBC aired the Elvis Presley Special sponsored by the Singer Sewing Company. It has since become known as the ’68 Comeback Special, or just the ’68 Special. It has stood the test of time as one of the most iconic performances of Elvis Presley’s career. It re-ignited his singing career and also started him touring and performing live concerts for the first time in seven years. This is how the televised special became known as the Comeback Special, Elvis was returning to touring and making rock-and-roll records.

As I said, the ’68 Special has become iconic, not just for Elvis fans, but for the man himself. One of the more famous images of him is decked out in his all-leather suit strumming his guitar.

This special marked the first time Elvis had “gone electric” during a musical performance. In all previous performances he only played acoustic guitar.

Another iconic image of Elvis is in his all-white suit, standing in front of the immortal red ELVIS letters singing “If I Can Dream”

Although it aired on Dec 3 1968, the special was actually filmed in July 1968. Elvis had just returned from his honeymoon with Priscilla. While the Special was wildly successful, many people don’t realize that the original concept of the show was completely different.

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Happy Birthday, Elvis!

Posted in Elvis, holiday with tags on January 8, 2008 by Paxton
Happy Birthday Elvis
It’s January 8, Elvis Presley’s birthday.  He would have been 73 today.

AWESOME-tober-fest 2007: Halloween retail goodies

Posted in candy, Elvis, Halloween with tags , , , , , , on October 31, 2007 by Paxton

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I love looking around stores during Halloween. The aisles are decorated with cardboard haunted houses, pumpkins and pics of gouls, ghosts and monsters. It’s so much fun to walk around the Halloween sections of retail stores like Target, Wal-Mart and your local grocery store to see the scary versions of some regular favorites that come out every Halloween. Companies also seem to release new Halloween themed items every year. Here’s some of the coolest stuff I noticed while shopping around this Halloween season.

You can click the individual pictures for a bigger size.

Reeses Pumpkin
I love Reese’s Cups. LOVE them. They are top of my list of snacks including Cheetos and peanut M&Ms. During Halloween Reese’s will release different shaped cups (bats, pumpkins, skulls, etc). The package says DOUBLE sized and, man, they aren’t kidding. This is one giant brick of peanut butter in a thin layer of chocolate. It’s like carrying around a small child. It easily weighed as much as my head. I had trouble finishing it. If you decide to get some of these, make sure you bring along a car trailer or a pack mule. You aren’t going to get a box of these home on your own.

M&Ms
Ahhh, another seasonal favorite for me, Pumpkin Mix M&Ms. Yes, this is just regular M&Ms dressed up as black and orange pumpkins, but I LOVE M&Ms and the packaging is always too cool to pass up (check out Yellow carving a pumpkin that looks like Red). I buy them every year (peanut are my favorite followed closely by peanut butter).

Gummy Body Parts 2Gummy Body Parts 1Oozn Eyeballz
Gummy candy in the shape of human limbs seems to be pretty popular this year. The one on the left even comes in its own coffin. Nothing quite like candy that makes you feel like a cannibal. They make these things extremely realistic. Just sitting there looking at them I got a little queasy. Great, great idea, I’m glad companies are embracing the macabre during the Halloween season, but I’d be lying if I said these things don’t creep me out. Like chopped up midgets in a bag. Yikes.

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AWESOME-tober-fest 2007: Some of my awesome, awesome Halloween costumes

Posted in Elvis, Halloween, personal with tags , , , , , , on October 30, 2007 by Paxton

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I have always loved Halloween. I dressed up every year until I was in 8th or 9th grade. It was so much fun wearing costumes and hanging out with my friends going from house to house getting candy. Things have certainly changed. Today, the costumes are infinitely better but you can’t go out in your neighborhood to trick-or-treat anymore because of various nefarious individuals that may (or may not) live in your area. These individuals would love nothing more than to fool you into eating an apple with a razor blade stashed inside. What sick individual gives out apples for Halloween anyway? If that happened when I was a kid that guy would have gotten his own version of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition that involved nothing but toilet paper and raw eggs. Giving apples for Halloween is just WRONG, people. Write that down.

Anyway, my family was pretty good at documenting our holidays. I was going through some old photos and found some of my all-time favorite Halloween costumes. I have more pictures than this, but I may save those for another time. So, without further ado, here are some of my favorite costumes that I’ve worn throughout the years. Enjoy!

You can click each of the pictures for a bigger version.

SpidermanYear Unknown – Spiderman. Yes, this is it! The Ben Cooper Spider-man costume. It doesn’t get much more vintage than this. Obviously I’m “shooting my webs” at a villain off camera. Classic, classic costume. You can find these on eBay now for anywhere between 20 and 100 bucks. Check out the boxed version of this costume here.

Peter CrissYear Unknown – Peter Criss (drummer for KISS). How about them jeans and JC Penney’s belt? That’s so rock-n-roll, man. I never really listened to their music, but I LOVED the whole KISS makeup gimmick. I loved they dressed up and spit fire and had these gaudy knee boots. It was awesome. And for some reason, my favorite was always Peter Criss, the drummer. I was walking home from school and found a large drink cup with a picture of Peter Criss on it and told Mom that’s who I wanted to be for Halloween. My mom was great, she used the cup as a guide for all the makeup. She did a great job, didn’t she? Years later she would do the same thing for me when I was a werewolf. She painted on wolf-like features. It was awesome, I wish I had a picture of it.

PirateYear Unknown – Random Pirate. The costume turned out great didn’t it? My mom was great at making costumes out of crap we had around the house. Dig those funky yellow running shoes! So pirate-y. That ginormous sword was borrowed and I only held it for the picture. There was no way I was carrying that monstrosity through the neighborhood trying to collect candy. Check out my younger brother as Big Bird. Yes, yes that is embarrassing. He’s gonna love that. You can see another pic of this costume here.

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Remembering Elvis and Elvis Week

Posted in Elvis, personal, pop culture with tags on August 16, 2007 by Paxton

Elvis Week Banner
Today marks the 30th Anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley. He died, in his home, on August 16, 1977.

My wife and I are big fans of Elvis. We even named our kitty Presley after him. For our second anniversary we traveled to Memphis, TN and toured Graceland (which I had never done). On the way back we stopped in Tupelo, MS and visited “The Birthplace”, Elvis’ boyhood home. I have read Volume 1 of Pete Guralnick’s two volume biography of Elvis. Amazing. It’s amazing to see the history Elvis created and lived through. Elvis lived an amazing life, yet he died so tragically.

Let’s celebrate the man and his iconic image, not linger on the circumstances of his death. Let me see what pictures I can dig up here of my wife and I and our dealings with all things Elvis related.

Elvis AvatarYou’ve seen my Elvis Avatar from an earlier article.

Elvis M&MI also created this M&M avatar of Elvis. Somewhat goofy, but I like it.

Elvis HawaiiHere’s a picture of a commemorative Elvis statue outside the Neal Blaisdell Center in Honolulu, Hawaii. This is the venue that Elvis filmed his famous “Aloha from Hawaii” concert in.

Elvis NascarDale Earnhart Jr. is going to drive a commemorative Elvis car for the singer’s 30th Death Day anniversary. I like the color scheme.

Elvis Reese’sI mentioned earlier about trying the Elvis Reese’s Cups with Banana Cream. Well, there’s a whole website devoted to it.

Elvis Volume 1
Elvis Volume 2
Here is the two volume Elvis biography I mentioned earlier by Pete Guralnick. I’ve read Volume 1 which covers his birth through him leaving for the Army in ’56-’57. Volume 2 picks up after the Army until his death.

Last but not least, below are some pics of me in my Elvis Halloween costume. Steph actually made this Elvis jumpsuit with her own two hands (and some help from her mother). It’s AWESOME.

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Pretty BAD-ASS, isn’t it? I love it. It’s always a hit whenever I bust it out.

As I said, the wife and I are big fans of The King and love to listen to his music and read about him. Visiting Memphis and seeing Graceland and going to “The Birthplace” were a lot of fun. If you ever get the chance, do it. I actually want to go again.

So, in honor of the 30th Anniversary, Memphis is holding it’s annual Elvis Week with activities, concerts and games. It’s also Elvis Month on TV Land, so if you get that channel on your cable system tune in to check out Elvis movies, concerts and specials.

Long Live the King, baby.

Viva Las Vegas

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10 Best/Worst Christmas Songs

Posted in Bing Crosby, Christmas, Elvis, holiday, humor, pop culture, reviews, Rosie O'Donnell with tags , , , , , on December 19, 2006 by Paxton

Today’s article is a reader submission. I was asked to write about what, I believe, are the 10 best/worst Christmas songs of all time. So, Kathy, this one is for you. If there is something you would like me to write about just drop me a line here. If it interests me and I decide to do it, you’ll get credit for giving me the idea, just like I’m giving Kathy right now. Anywho, on with the article.


I love Christmas and along with that, I love Christmas songs. Especially the celebrity pop culture songs. Some of those Christmas songs can be so awful that you can’t believe how absolutely awesome they are…or, as I call it, abso-awful (I just made that word up). The rest of the Christmas songs are so heinous that you’ll claw out the inside of your ear with a rusty spoon to not have to hear them anymore. Here’s my personal countdown of the 10 Best and 10 Worst Christmas Songs of all time. I’ll also give you a little tidbit of why that song is where it is. You may look at these lists and be like, “Hey Pax, you are a ^$#$ genius, keep it up!” or you may look at it and say, “You are dead to me”. Either way, I’m still an incredibly sexy beast (You know it’s true. Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful).

Let’s start off with the 10 best Christmas songs in no particular order (I’m numbering them for my own sanity).

1. White Christmas (Bing Crosby) – This is, of course, a classic. When Bing wasn’t beating the crap out of his kids, he was busy belting out some of the best songs of his day. This one comes from the equally awesome movie of the same name. Needs no explanation.
2. Mele Kalikimaka (Bing Crosby) – As to this song’s origin, I imagine Bing bet some songwriter that he couldn’t write a song about both Hawaii AND Christmas. Well, Unknown Songwriter 1 – Bing Crosby 0. Makes me think of that scene in Christmas Vacation where Clark is looking out the window at his soon to be swimming pool.
3. Blue Christmas (Elvis Presley) – You knew The King was going to be on this list. Here’s his most famous. Pretty much everyone on Earth with a set of vocal cords and no shame has covered this song. Elvis makes you wonder why anyone even tries to sing anymore.
4. Santa’s Coming to Town (Elvis Presley) – A lesser known Elvis song off one of his first Christmas albums (of which number in the lower millions). It’s a bluesy, rock “version” of Santa Claus is Coming to Town. I put “version” in “quotes” because a) Elvis’ song is very different from the original and b) I’m extremely pretentious.
5. Jingle Bell Rock (Bobby Helms) – Another classic. Fun version of the original Jingle Bells song. Because “jingle bell time is a swell time, to go riding in a one-horse sleigh”. You know it and I know it.
6. Little Saint Nick (Beach Boys) – Seems weird putting a Beach Boys song on a Christmas list, right? Well, I already put a Hawaiian song on, so let’s put the Boys on. Very catchy tune that makes me want to both celebrate Christmas and go to the beach to “hang 10”.
7. Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree (Brenda Lee) – Featured in pretty much every movie that ever had a passing mention of Christmas. Most notably, though, Home Alone.
8. Baby It’s Cold Outside (Leon Redbone/Zooey Deschanel) – This is just a great song, but this particular version can be found on the Elf soundtrack. I LOVE this song.
9. Run Rudolph Run (Chuck Berry) – Any Chuck Berry Christmas song is bound to be good. This is no exception and, like the song 2 entries up, can be found in Home Alone.
10. Carol of the Bells (Any choir) – This isn’t really a pop christmas song, but I love this so much I had to put it here. I learned to love it when my high school choir performed it at a Christmas event. Very pretty when sung by a choir.

You’ve seen the best, now let’s see the worst. The songs that make you ashamed to be Christian and celebrating Christmas. Here are the 10 worst songs as viewed by me.

1. Feliz Navidad (Jose Feliciano) – I got into an argument with my 5th grade teacher, Mr. Butler, over who was the better guitarist; Jose Feliciano or Jimi Hendrix (I honestly am not making that up). To me, that was not even an argument as Jimi could play with his teeth and I maintain that teeth beats no teeth every time. I still hear this song in my sleep from when Steph and I put up our Christmas tree lights this year.
2. Little Drummer Boy (David Bowie/Bing Crosby)See this awful, awful video here. Why must singers look soulfully into the distance when singing? Is there something off camera worth looking at? Why can’t I see, too? This is actually considered a classic, but I think it’s a classic piece of crap. Why, Bing, WHY?!
3. Please Daddy (Don’t Get Drunk this Christmas) (John Denver) – Is this song real? It sounds like a Weird Al parody. I could’ve written this song. Is it supposed to be funny, or poignant? Whatever it’s supposed to be, it’s entertaining, and not in a good way.
4. Silver Bells (Kathi Lee Gifford/Regis Philbin) – This song is every bit as bad as you think it is. Think Riker’s Island penitentiary…but without all the sodomy. Actually, you’d probably welcome sodomy after hearing this song.
5. I’m Gonna Email Santa (Rosie O’Donnell) – Is it redundant to put Rosie O’Donnell on a Worst Christmas song list? This song is pretty much a commercial for Santa.com. Also, Rosie learned that she can’t sing when she released her first Christmas album, so on the next album (which includes this song) her voice is so overproduced it doesn’t even sound like her. Which is good cause it doesn’t sound like her, but bad because the voice now sounds like Joshua from War Games. WOULD YOU LIKE TO PLAY A GAME? Actually, that’s kinda cool…..
6. Do You Hear What I Hear? (Rosie O’Donnell & Elmo) – It’s like someone said, “How can we make listening to a song sung by Rosie O’Donnell worse? I know, let’s have her sing with that irritating Muppet you tickle.” Maybe for the next Rosie Christmas album she can hire someone to come in my house and punch me repeatedly in the testicles as I listen to her album. No, that would actually be better than this song.
7. Have a Rosie Christmas (Rosie O’Donnell) – If Rosie’s goal by singing this was to give me the compulsion to first, kill her, then kill myself, all I have to say is……mission accomplished, Rosie……mission accomplished.
8. Dear Mr. Jesus (Faceless, Abused Child) – I know the intentions behind this song are noble, but, oh dear, sweet jesus, this song is flat out awful. It’s sung by a sweet child, yet it’s about another child who is physically abused by her parents. By the end I’m ready to either search out the abusive parents and string them up for all to see, or slit my own wrists. Since I’m lazy, it’ll probably be the latter.
9. Jingle Bells (Jingle Dogs) – After listening to just one song off any of these stupid CDs, you too will believe in euthanasia for animals.
10. Do They Know It’s Christmas Time At All? (Band Aid) – This one toes the line of being abso-awful and just plain awful, but, for me, it’s just plain awful. Watching the music video is like watching the video yearbook of a drug rehab clinic circa 1982. It’s poetic to see some of the wealthiest musicians of that time sing about awareness of the poor in Africa. Do people in Africa even celebrate Xmas?

Well, that’s my list and I’m stickin’ to it. By now you are either extolling the unlimited boundaries of my genius, or cursing me to an early grave. Hey, this is all subjective and only my opinion, except for the Rosie O’Donnell songs. Those are awful, and that’s a fact supported by modern science.

Anywho, hope everyone has a great Christmas. I’m heading back home to Birmingham, AL on Saturday. Hope you all get what you want. Personally, I hope I’ll be getting a Nintendo Wii. After this article, I’m sure Santa is going to give me the Kathy Lee Gifford album.

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Slot Machines: The Next Generation Part I

Posted in casinos, Elvis, slot machines, technology, video games with tags , , , , , on August 20, 2006 by Paxton

The grandfather of the modern slots, the Liberty Bell slot machine, was developed in California in 1887. Since then the basic premise has stayed the same; three reels, multiple prize symbols per reel, one lever to spin the reels. Originally payouts were given as complimentary items by the bars they were in but as electronic parts replaced the mechanical parts, slot machines started paying out hard cash. Even with that development, the basic idea and design of slot machines didn’t really waver, that is, until the mass-producing of microchips and the widespread use of computer software.

With the proliferation of the micro-processor, most modern slot machines became software based and play like a complicated computer video game. As a matter of fact, I see modern slot machines as the newer cousin to the upright arcade video game. My formative years were all up and down the ’80s. I loved video arcades. My friend Steve and I would search out video arcades in which to play our favorite games like Pac-Man, Ms Pac-Man, Super Mario Bros, Zaxxon, Tecmo Bowl, Street Fighter II, Mortal Kombat, etc, etc. I am, a video game phreak…..a Super-Phreak, if you will. So it should come as no surprise that I am fascinated by the new virtual slots seen in every casino. Not only do they look and play like a video game, they have graphics, sounds and images from popular entertainment like TV and movies. The old 3 reel system has been replaced by virtual playing reels running between 30 and 50 paylines that a user can select. The software and intelligence to run these machines has become intensely complicated. Click here for a really good interview with Michael Shackleford, The Wizard of Odds. He is a slot machine designer and he de-mystifies some ideas you may have about the One-Armed Bandit.

I’ve been to many different casinos in several different places over the years. Las Vegas, Albuquerque, New Orleans, Atlantic City. During my travels I’ve seen some pretty cool and pretty funny character based machines. I began taking pictures and collecting some of the best. In this 2 part article I’ll show you some of my favorites.


Monty Python & Holy Grail – This is easily one of the best machines I’ve ever played. The graphics and gameplay were phenomenal. I actually didn’t care that I lost 20 bucks playing on it. There are tons of movie clips and quotes that are thrown about you. If you touch certain parts of the screen neat sound effects go off. Lots of fun and one of my favorites. Click the image for a larger pic.


Antique Appraisal – Very interesting slot machine based on the popular tv show Antique Roadshow. The money reels have pictures of appraisers and antique objects on them. So you could conceivably get a pasty-faced man with professor glasses in one reel and a beat up looking armoire in another. The bonus game is interesting too because you have to pick out the most valuable item from a group of antiques. Very wierd premise for a slot machine, but very interesting.


Lucky Larry’s Lobster Mania – This machine rocks. The idea of a slot machine based on the continuing adventures of a lobster by the name of Lucky Larry is patently absurd, but I LOVE IT!!. This typifies many of the silly generic slot machines you will find in big groups on the casino floor, but it’s very cleverly done. Cute characters, lots of colors, subtle theme of one being lucky or having lots of money. This one really makes me laugh because the idea is so random.


Elvis – Being a huge Elvis fan, I had to put this. These are slightly disappointing because they are the old-school three reel slots and not the virtual video game slots. They have Elvis images all over them and some of the reels have guitars and cadillacs on them. I only played about 5 bucks on these because they are labeled Elvis, but the Monty Python slots above were calling my name.

That’s about it for today, I’ll post more pics of my favorite slot machines soon.

Click here for Part II of this article.

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