Thursday, June 30, 2011


Shot #1. This isn’t the real grave of Vlad Tepes, aka, Vlad Drakul, aka Dracula. It’s actually that of a town Burgomeister (Mayor) from Kitzingen, Germany, where I was stationed while in the Army from 1979-1982. Yup, I lived smack dab in the middle of a town whose main livelihood was the manufacture of wine.

Word of the Dracula’s Grave site had reached my Dad back home in Festus, Missouri, when a small article about it appeared in a local newspaper. Dad sent me the clipping and remarked that the tomb would be something to see. My Cousin, Joe, was stationed about 12 km from where I was, so one weekend he and I left my apartment (which was very close to the cemetery) and sought out this location.

I remember it being an eerie site because of all the ornate carvings and illustrations it contained. The newspaper article had mentioned that the current Burgomeister of Kitzingen told of young American soldiers who would hang out at this location, no doubt full of brew of some kind or another, waiting for something to happen on weekend midnights. A resurrection, perhaps?

Of course, nothing did happen, but even so I never got drunk enough to want to do that. But I am very glad that I got here to see and photograph it.

Shot #2. Ornate ceiling design.

Shot #3. Another view of the ceiling.

Shot #4. This is what I presume to be the Family Crest.

Shot #5. Closer and better view of the gate with the skull over it.

Surprised that Polaroid film has lasted as long as it did here, just over 30 years since I initially took the pictures. I guess this must be all I took, but I am in touch with a former 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry mate of mine, Kirk Trofatter, who says he has some photos of this place as well. Hoping he can find them and that they are better than my own photos.

Friday, June 17, 2011


A fantastic crime novel from Christa Faust.

Angel Dare is an ex-porn star – not really close to being past her prime, really, but retired from the biz anyway. She’s contacted by a former associate, porn director Sam Hammer, about coming back (just this once) to do a shoot to help Sam’s career from tanking.

Jesse Black, an up-and-coming (ahem) porn star, is thrilled to be working with Angel, but not so thrilled that it keeps him from beating her. At some point, Angel is shot and stuffed into the trunk of a car. Of course she escapes her fate but in the course of events winds up implicated in Sam’s murder.

Tense, tight writing here and a wicked sense of humor, too. Plus, the author has made her admiration for the late, legendary “Shell Scott” creator Richard S. Prather well known with her dedication of MONEY SHOT to him. Wow, could Ms. Faust be any more perfect?

Incidentally, Mr. Prather is loved and admired in my household, too – he signed some books for me in the years before his death (“Have Gat, Will Travel”, anyone?). Not every woman in the modern reading public would appreciate Mr. Prather’s admittedly misogynistic private eye storytelling skills (but what tough guy PI writer in the 40’s and 50’s WASN’T misogynistic to varying degrees?). There are some, like Christa Faust apparently, who can see beyond all that and dig it for what it is. Chalk up another point in the “win” column for this lady.

“The Splatting Nun” says: by all means gets your genuflecting done and then go out and find this one!


This one starts out with a bit of promise when two college age kids decide to go skinny-dipping in said lake. But first: a bit of hanky-panky on the shoreline – which they never get to finish. The boy is on his back, feet in the water. The gal’s going to “ride ‘em, cowgirl”, but something drags him about three feet into the water; the dragging stops for a moment and all of a sudden his face is in her, um, womanhood.

She squeals in delight, thinking she’s probably going to get eaten. Well, she does – just not in the way she’d hoped. Boy is dragged the rest of the way in and torn up, and before she can leave the water completely, oops, there she goes! The crocodiles pig out (if one can use that term about crocs).

Not really anything else going for it except perhaps for Yancy Butler's performance as a tough-as-nails woman poacher. Ruby is wounded several times here, but keeps on fighting back. Not much seems to shock or faze her. She has bigger balls than any of the men in this movie.

Can’t say that I was all that impressed with what was presented here. Since the lake in the movie wasn’t even called “Placid”, it’s obvious that giving the movie this title was the only hope it had to attract viewers. I say, however, that it should have been called “Lake Flaccid 3”; it would have been more accurate.

Monday, June 13, 2011


Y'know, I really LOVES me a damn good conspiracy theory. When it's done well, there should be at least a few things that are somewhat believable about it to make it compelling.

For quite a while in 1988, you couldn’t turn on the TV or radio and not hear something about this book. Originally called “The Greatest Elvis Presley Story Ever Told” when it was in hardcover, it was renamed “Is Elvis Alive?” when it hit paperback and was sold with a cassette tape.

The tape, cleverly called “The Elvis Tape”, is a series of phone calls, allegedly made in 1981, supposedly between Elvis and an unnamed person (whose voice was edited out of the recordings). What the tape then turns out to be is more or less Elvis’s monologue of what his life has been like after faking his death in 1977.

To prove the “authenticity” of the tape, a “voice expert” of some sort is said to have professionally verified that the voice heard on the cassette is, indeed, Elvis Presley’s.
Sure sounded like it to me.

Back to the start of things, though.

Author Gail Brewer-Giorgio initially wrote a book called “Orion”. A simple beginning.

Gail (I’m going to refer to her in the familiar here because it’s easier than constantly typing “Ms. Brewer-Giorgio”), in some interviews I’ve heard, indicated that she wrote this book without any real in-depth knowledge of Elvis Presley or his early life.

She receives a 30k advance on the book, which she indicates is a “nice sum for a first-time author” and the book is released to little fanfare. Until…..

…copies of “Orion”, Gail said, started being confiscated by people or persons unknown, presumably citing “legal issues” involved with the book to the book sellers.

So here we are with a just-published book and now, without any real explanation, it’s gone the way of the dodo bird. For quite a while, “Orion” was unavailable.

Why? One conspiracy theory says that the story of Orion, who fakes his death in the book just to escape the pressures and lifestyle, too closely parallels what Elvis has/had done. Therefore Gail must have “inside” knowledge which THEY can’t allow her to share with the great unwashed public.

After a time, Tudor Books cuts another publishing deal with Gail and – finally – out comes “Orion”. This time no black helicopters or mysterious dark-haired federal agents show up to remove the book from stores.

I never see the book myself until I find a used copy somewhere along the line. I started the book when I got it, but found that I was remarkably uninterested in it after some pages and stopped reading it. I may give it a go again and see if my attention span will stand the test again.

Somewhere along the line, a performer calling himself “Orion” appears on the Tennessee music scene. His name, we are later to discover, is Jimmy Ellis. He wore a Lone Ranger-type mask for his album cover photos and only minimally physically resembled or sounded like Elvis. Anyone who thought Ellis was Elvis (and there were PLENTY of them!) probably should have been on medication of some kind. Or needed to use a better ear wax removal system.

Amongst the legitimate questions surrounding his passing, several contentions are so far beyond the pale, they rate right up there on the absurdity scale. Here are four of my favorites:

1. The anagram for “Elvis” is “Lives”.
2. Someone calling himself “Sivle” (spell it backwards) calls radio talk shows to vaguely hint who he is.
3. Sonny Crockett has an alligator named “Elvis” on the show “Miami Vice”.
4. The suggestion that Elvis now makes a living competing in Elvis Impersonator Shows.

This last contention was taken to heart, I guess, and a movie called "Bubba Ho-Tep" was made, using the plot device that an Elvis impersonator switched places with the real Elvis to give real Elvis a break. But the double is the one who dies on 8/16/77 and real Elvis is stuck at a nursing home after breaking his hip in a fall from the stage of an impersonator's show. Real Elvis meets and fights a good ol' boy Texas Mummy to save the souls of the infirmed souls there at the rest home. Fun stuff.

Anyway, probably the last appearance Gail did on “Geraldo” was quite memorable. She is met with a hostile crowd – one man in the audience saying that Gail should be “arrested for prostitution” presumably for making a buck of off Elvis. If this is true, then most of the people surrounding Elvis should have been arrested for the same thing.

Some obnoxious woman in the audience was wearing a t-shirt that said “Elvis is Dead – Face It!”. Felt bad for Gail here because she was, no doubt, a victim of ambush tactics on that show. Considering the source, though, Geraldo Rivera has his own credibility issues (Al Capone’s Vault, anyone?) and probably should not have been throwing stones at anyone else. Or chairs, come to think of it.

But the most interesting thing about that show was the introduction to Gail of an audience member who claimed to be a “psychic entertainer”. To demonstrate his “powers”, he stopped somebody’s watch with his “mind” (or probably a magnetic device hidden in his hand or, if small enough, in a ring he might have worn). It’s an old confidence trick that probably dates back to Houdini or Blackstone.

If memory serves, this “psychic entertainer” was a chap by the name of “David Darlow”. Had a guitar on his lap, which he was lightly strumming. On cue from Geraldo, Darlow stands up and begins to explain that it is his own voice on the tape and then proceeds to do a fairly credible impersonation of Elvis’s speaking voice. Darlow went on to explain that he was paid to do the recording as Elvis and that it was a narrative that he was reading from.

The red flag should have gone up for Darlow once he saw that some of the dialogue he was reading from could have been (and was!) taken out of context (my favorite legal term) to create a hoax.

Of course, the camera kept shooting back and forth to Gail while Darlow was doing the impression and talking about the circumstances under which the recording was made. I’m sure that the producers of the “Geraldo” really loved the confused/stunned look on Gail’s face for that portion of the program. After that, Gail kind of dropped off my radar.

Wright City, Missouri has, or had, its own “Elvis is Alive” museum. Running parallel to I-70 West, as one heads to Kansas City, when I last saw the location it was inside the 50’s Café that is, or was, run by Mr. Bill Beeny.

When I toured the museum myself back in 1993 or so, it was in a separate building not far from the 50’s Café. There were catalogs of newspaper clippings and what looked to be “official” files on Elvis that one could sit down and go through. There was also a mock-up of a room from the Las Vegas Chapel where Elvis and Priscilla were married. I wasn’t sure what that had to do with Elvis allegedly still being alive, though. Interesting place and what’s even more odd about it was that there was NO souvenir shop in the museum. I don’t know what it’s like now – or if it is still in existence today – but it was just another piece of odd Americana.

“The Elvis Files” was a 55-minute documentary, made exclusively for video in 1990. Written by Gail, it was kind of an “Is Elvis Alive?” brought to the small screen. It covered all the major points of Gail’s book and was presented in such a compelling way that a few items of interest really gave me pause. I understand that it has since been given a DVD release, but I’ve never seen it in that format.

There was a famous photo of Jesse Jackson, standing next to Muhammad Ali from the 1980’s. In the background of that photo (presented in black and white) is a figure who looks very much like Elvis Presley. In fact, Ali stated it WAS Elvis but Ali was known as being something of a prankster, so the photo was called into question. See it on YouTube using this as search criteria: "1984 Elvis Alive & Ali Photo".

When this picture is viewed in color, though, you see that the Elvis figure is not Elvis at all. In fact, the man in the photo himself came forward on an Elvis Conspiracy TV special, hosted by Bill Bixby, to show himself to everyone and prove that it was NOT Elvis in the photo after all.

“The Spelling on the Stone” song from an album of the same name, no credited artist and issued on Curb Records. It never sounded close enough for me to be even a gifted Elvis impersonator. Besides, during one of the songs, "Elvis" stops the music to announce how upset he is that Ronald Reagan's been shot. Obviously done to show that "Elvis" was still alive when the President took a bullet.

On YouTube, you can hear the story behind the album by typing "Lee Stoller + Spelling on the Stone" in the search engine. You should find it fairly quick.

The “Elvis didn’t die on August 16th, 1977” craze continues today, albeit to lesser degrees than it once did.

The following is a list of what to type in YouTube's search engines - and what it will bring up:

"Elvis Alive 1/20/09? Stranger in the Crowd 2009" - A video of a man they said was Elvis taking pictures as Obama arrives to speak to a crowd.

"Elvis Walking Past Window at Graceland?" - As Vernon Presley talks to the public about the cards and flowers they've received in the days following Elvis's death, a figure walks by the window. They slow it down so you can see it. Looks to me to be one of the Stanley boys (Rick, Billy or David - Vernon's stepsons from his marriage to Dee Stanley) more than anyone else.

"1/5 Elvis. Is he alive? Shocking evidence." This is either all or most of "The Elvis Files" posted on YouTube. Broken down into 10 minute or so segments.

So happy hunting, all you Elvis watchers. If you find him, please tell him I've finally forgiven him for singing "Old McDonald" to a girl and a bunch of caged chickens on the back of a truck in the movie "Double Trouble".

Friday, June 10, 2011


In this case, I'm wondering if the smell of fear has the same bouquet as that SOS they had on toast that morning....





A VERY disturbing short piece here. READER DISCRETION ADVISED!