Fly on the Wall 

Inflatable Elvis

Every year, as Elvis Week approaches, journalists around the globe begin reflecting on the man behind the myth. Invariably, some of them take a cheap shot at Presley, who was undeniably one of the 20th century's most compelling personalities. The cheap shots often take the form of "fat jokes," reminding us that Presley — whose mere presence caused teenage girls to faint — liked to eat.

An article in Time magazine (echoing an article in the New England Journal of Medicine) recently put forward the notion that your friends can "make you fat." As proof, the author wrote, "Elvis made everyone around him fatter, to judge by photographs of the Memphis Mafia — entourage members expanding and contracting like a bellows in time with their boss."

Canadian Business online recently opined about workplaces where older, more experienced employees report to young, inexperienced managers who "think Elvis was born fat."

Of course, there's something inherently campy about the image of a bloated Elvis crammed into a form-fitting jumpsuit. But, in addition to it being a lazy writer's cliché, reminding people that Elvis was briefly fat is a little like mocking Albert Einstein for his perpetual bed-head.


What do Senator John McCain and Justin Timberlake have in common? They are both male. Both have two arms, two legs, and a single head. Both have achieved a certain level of fame. Beyond that, comparisons become more difficult. Nevertheless, during a recent debate between Republican presidential candidates, McCain was asked if he was in favor of Timberlake's campaign to bring sexy back. Unflapped by the silly question, McCain said, "It depends on whether or not he endorses me." The famously individualistic senator then added that he and Timberlake shared a number of "attributes."


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