Since I started my last entry with the mileage I had just traveled, I figured I would do the same. This last weekend involved a trek to Michigan – Belleville, Michigan, to be exact. This was an outdoor Elvis fest that got rained out for part of Friday, but was able to recover and keep going that night and into Saturday. The last time I attended this fest, it was nearly 100 degrees and high humidity that was just plain miserable. This year, the rain provided a much-needed gift in the form of mild temps and moderate humidity.
All in all, it was a fun weekend, but a long freaking drive. Construction was everywhere – especially when we were on I-94 in Michigan. It seemed to be pretty much constant. And while we are on the subject of road construction, can someone please help the crews in Joliet, IL, fix I-80 so it’s not just a constant landmine of potholes and bumps? Unreal. A few months ago, I had to have a cracked wheel replaced, and I am fully placing the blame for that on that stretch of road. I hate driving on it at night because you can’t see the potholes until it’s too late; then you go over them and pray that nothing is broken on your vehicle.
It’s an expensive summer to travel. Usually I do not bat an eye when it comes to filling up on gas, but this summer I feel like I’m in a horror movie every time I see the prices outside of Iowa. I’m not saying Iowa prices are stellar, but they are better than the ones in Illinois by far. Here E-85 is at least a dollar+ below what regular unleaded prices are. In Illinois, it might be a few cents cheaper, but it’s no bargain. Call it simple denial, but I cannot bring myself to fill up my tank completely when I am in Illinois. I will put a few dollars’ worth in and then repeat the routine until I am back in Iowa.
OK . . . can we talk about the Elvis movie? Spoiler alerts abound here, so if you haven’t seen it yet, stop reading. I’m going to see it for the 3rd time tonight, and so far I’ve been blown away by Baz Luhrmann’s creativity. I know the critics have complained that it’s not a true biopic and that Baz stretches the truth on some parts, but that does not bother me in the least. What he captured on screen was a beautiful life being squandered by drugs, abused by narcissists, and unappreciated by the throngs of people around him. Did Elvis really fire the Colonel from stage at the Hilton? No, but he did go on plenty of other rants on stage, and he did try to fire the Colonel at various times of his life – just not on stage. Baz just combined the rants + the firing, showing how volatile Elvis’ moods were at times, especially toward the end. Was Priscilla the only woman in his life? Obviously, no, but since Priscilla was one of the people who met with Baz and shared her knowledge of Elvis, it was not likely that she would have given the green light for other women to share her spotlight in his life. After all, if you start including all the girlfriends, where do you stop? Elvis was notorious for needing someone by his side 24/7 and a woman in his bed every night. Even the so-called “girlfriends” who like to keep their mediocre fame going by attending Elvis fests and billing themselves as “Elvis’ girlfriend” were not the only ones sharing Elvis’ bed. The movie, already 2.5 hours, would be even longer if Baz decided to start including Linda Thompson and Ginger Alden in it, so he chose not to. I think it was a smart move because the movie isn’t about them anyway. It’s about Elvis’ relationship with the Colonel. I love attending the Elvis fests, but sometimes it makes me sad to see all the people who still try to use Elvis to keep their own relevancy alive. He had plenty of that when he was alive, and 40 years later, it is still happening. Everyone wants to take credit for the part they played in Elvis’ life. I laugh when I hear someone say, “I told Elvis . . . ” as they recount their part in some monumental moment. Everyone wants to have a piece of him to wave around like a trophy.
Really, that idea is what makes the poignancy of the movie even more powerful. The Colonel used Elvis to finance his gambling habits. His doctor used his notoriety for failed business dealings. Everyone wants to take credit for things they told Elvis or did for Elvis, and that is why the end of the movie is just plain sad. When he gets into the song and says, “I’m with it!” to someone to his side, we are struck by the dramatic irony of it all. No, Elvis, you’re not with it. Your life is falling apart. Baz’s choice to use Elvis’ actual performance at the end seals the deal. I never cry at movies, but that got to me.
If you haven’t seen it yet, it should probably be in theaters for this week as well. I know some people do not care for Baz’s style of moviemaking, but I love it. It’s a fast-paced saga that is also a party for the eyes and ears. Seriously – go see it!