VIVA Elvis: The World Premiere of Las Vegas’ newest Cirque du Soliel show

I fancy myself a massive Cirque Du Soliel fan. Doesn’t hurt that thanks to a program last Fall during BlogWorldExpo, I had the chance to round out my Vegas Cirque experience and finish seeing all the shows (my review of Love you can catch here).

What I didn’t know then was that Cirque was preparing to embark on a brand new show of epic proportions called Viva ELVIS – a living tribute to the King himself in the city that continues to worship his existence. The world premiere at Aria on Feb 19 was a star-studded affair capped by an after-party at Haze; and though the photos below focus on the celebs and glitz, this post (continued below) is actually about the show itself — the reason you might want to book yourself a little trip to Vegas to experience it yourself.

More check-ins at Aria
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First let me begin by saying – if you have never seen a Cirque du Soliel show, do yourself a favor and go see one – any one of them. No words, photos, or videos by me or anyone could EVER do the live experience justice. (I took my 4-year old to see KOOZA, the traveling show, and the kid STILL talks about it a lot – it is really that mind-blowing).

Unlike the others that came before, Viva ELVIS is different from the other five Cirque shows in Vegas. This show blends the traditional elements of, say, a typical Las Vegas show (theatre-style seating, linear plot – even a narrator, outrageous dance and costume) with the stupendous jaw-dropping, show-stopping acrobatics Cirque is known for. I’d argue the other Vegas shows are less traditional than Viva ELVIS – in Love, for example, the seating is built in a round with sails above for lots of projection; the “plot” (if you can call it that) in both Mystere and KA is wildly crazy with outlandish costumes to match. While the other shows keep you guessing, in Viva ELVIS you won’t be asked of much except to sit back and enjoy the show. 

Front and center of this show: Elvis’ music. The show creators did a nice job of selecting just the right ditties for the performance without turning it into a “Best Of” showcase. From rockabilly to blues to gospel – the show had it all. Best part? Who do you think they got to SING all these iconic songs? THE KING HIMSELF. The producers actually teased out the vocal tracks of orginal Elvis’ recordings and that pure, unadulterated Elvis sound is paired with live female vocal performers. I seriously don’t know what kind of sound system they have in that theatre, but it literally sounds like Elvis is belting out his songs live throughout the performance. The energy from the music (also helped along by a VERY enthusiastic drummer who channels Animal from the Muppets) is unreal. The concert alone – especially for those of us who never did see Elvis perform – is worth the show ticket.

However, it’s the artistry of the stunts that draws me to Cirque and keeps me coming back and I was not disappointed. Some new tricks (flaming lassos, boot camp calisthentics) are a hoot as well as the trampoline number done by men outfitted in Jack Black Nacho Libre-esque suits. My favorite bit was the beautiful and sensual (and not even a tad bit tawdry) pole dance tango. This show, to me, does not seem focused on the stunts as much as the other shows — but acrobatics isn’t the bread and butter of this show. The story of Elvis – his highs, lows and tender moments as told through his music – is what’s on display. In fact, one of the most poignant moments is during “Can’t Help Falling in Love”: upon a gigantic wedding cake we see home footage of Elvis and Priscilla Presley’s courtship and wedding ceremony. The emotional grip is a nice, touching addition to the entire experience.

In summary, the is the type of show is that perfect for Elvis fans (duh), traditional show-goers, and maybe first-time Cirque adventurers – a lovely initation into the majesty of Cirque. For well-seasoned Cirque fans who love the thrill of the stunts, just be prepared this show offers a little different twist – less on the stunts perhaps and more on the overall wow of a high-styled, polished show. But keep in mind – Where else are you gonna see almost 100 blue suede shoes boogie-ing all at one time? Or dozens of sequined Elvis-style jumpsuits with larger-than-life plasticized pompadours? That, my friends, is only an experience Cirque du Soliel Las Vegas can bring to you. Enjoy it.

For my updated guide on all the shows – click here.

Disclosure: I had the amazing fortune of being an invited guest to this show (don’t ask me how – I was dumbfounded too!) I received two complimentary tickets to attend the premiere. The organizers did not ask me to blog or tweet about my experience but so many people have asked about the show, I wanted to write down my thoughts. The opinions expressed in this post and on this blog are my own and my disclosure policy is here


Best thing I saw at MacWorld

(…besides the HP booth where I was working, of course)…


I know there are a lot of cool & unusual cases you can get for your iPhone… heck, MacWorld was filled with them. But one company caught my eye — GetUncommon. One look and I totally became enamored with the case — and the concept.

The cases actually look like they PART of the phone… no cheesy “skin” or lightweight plastic. Heavy-duty, hard, high-gloss materials make each design come to life. And that’s the cool part — they provide the canvas, and YOU provide the artwork. For just $40 – whaaaa? If I ever get around to getting an iPhone, I already know what my GetCommon case design will be: my awesome Twitter background, of course.

The dude in the photo is Scott, aka “The Maker” - he makes some of the artwork in these photos and is the creative force behind this company. Mark my words, folks, we’ll be seeing a lot Maker Man & this company.

By the way, if this product video doesn’t inspire you, I don’t know what will. Me = very impressed.

HP Easter App: Wanna help with my post?

Spring surprise! There is a new HP Print App for Easter. I was starting to print out the cute printables for my next post and I though – hmm, maybe some of our crafty customers would like to help me out with the post. If you are game, I’d be happy to post a photo of your HP Easter craft and/or a description of how you plan to use one or more of the printable projects.

Let me know if you’d like to participate as a featured customer. I’d like to post this on Friday. My work email is






Sample Printout


Sample Printout

Easter Printables – get cards or crafts for your friends and family.



Protect your kicks – great invention (file this under “why didn’t I think of that”?)

I wasn’t raised as a girly-girl. I had a big brother kicking my butt for too many years to NOT wanna do the fun sporty-sports the guys did. So even as an adult, my sense of style is somewhat an afterthought while my taste for good athletic equipment is unnatural.

I had a passionate relationship with the last pair of cleats I owned and it was quite difficult to part with them (truth be told, even in the state they are in – falling apart & smelly – I keep them as a backup). So as Spring 2010 season begun, I embarked on a $100+ journey to obtain a new pair. And what a fine pair I bought though I was FLOORED to find that high-end soccer shoes nowadays are made from KANGAROO – ick.

Here’s the kicker (heh). I’ve now spent more money on my soccer shoes than on any other pair of shoes (including running) that I own. In addition to my weekend games, I occasionally play at work. But at work, I have a LONG walk from the locker room, over office floors, sidewalks, and basketball courts, before I get to the grassy haven of the soccer field. SO I had to find a solution: either change shoes Mister-Rogers style on the field OR find a way to protect them. Enter Cleatskins.


Cleatskins are the greatest invention for people who wear cleats – think soccer, baseball, football, golf players. Rather than deaden your cleats or even hurt the surface of the floor you’re walking on, you can wear a stretchable, flexible sheath on your shoe. The ones I have are called Cleatskins Pro and they are made from material that remind me of Crocs. They easily fit snugly over the cleat part, both protecting your investment and also giving you added traction (ever try to chase a toddler on a slick sidewalk with cleats on?) I like that I can put my shoes on at home then hustle out the door and drive to the game, Cleatskins & all, so when I’m late (like always), I can quickly remove them and hop onto the field.

The only bad thing about Cleatskins is that once I decided to buy them, they weren’t readily available in my area – online is the way to go (though in my case, a rep from the company sent me a pair when I had trouble accessing the online store). After showing them off on the soccer field last Saturday, however, my teammates were very interested in buying some on the spot. So Cleatskins, if you’re listening, make your next retail location like Soccer Fanatic or at least sell them to our league – I think you’d have a lot of customers who share my sense of soccer function over fashion (though the colored ones are pretty fashionable!)

Disclosure: As stated above, I received this as a free product sample (value $29.99). The company did NOT ask me to post my thoughts/tweet about the product but I think Cleatskins are totally awesome and of course I wanted to write a quick post to share my opinion. The opinions expressed in this post and on this blog are my own and my disclosure policy is here.  


Going to start wearing a cape to work… Tara & Twitter make me look like a super hero

Just a shout-out and thanks to Tara for sharing her story and being open to trying different things to figure out what was wrong. I used to work on this line of printers and I KNEW there must have been something amiss if she was complaining about quality. SO glad we were able to turn around this story and make it positive.

The Pros and Cons of my new HP OfficeJet Pro 8500 Printer

Posted by Tara Reed on Mar 20, 2010 in Misc. Business Tips |

In the fall my printer died.

It made me very sad but it had lived a long printer life (7 years) and served me well.  Like many of you, I print A LOT of full color art on my printer.  Portfolio pages, proofs for clients, submissions and more.  I knew I needed a new printer and found the whole process of deciding which printer to buy to be quite confusing and aborted the mission several times.  (Luckily I started investigating before my printer stopped working.)

My computer guy kept telling me to look at laser printers – the cost of ink would be less (I had an Epson wide format and spent about $1400 in ink a year – ouch!)  I decided I could live without the wide format and for the occasions that I needed it, I could have the printing done online or locally.

I’ve had a few people ask what I decided on and felt a blog post to share my experience was due.

Long story short:  I bought an HP OfficeJet Pro 8500 Premier. Here are the details from HP’s website:

Professional printing meets big energy savings in our Officejet Pro 8500 All-in-One. Not only will you save up to 50% on cost per color page compared with lasers1, you’ll use half the energy2.


Lower operating cost than lasers
•    Print professional color documents for a cost of up to 50% less per page than lasers when using HP Officejet inks1
•    Economize by replacing only individual cartridges that run out
•    Print more pages and replace cartridges less often with high-capacity cartridges (sold separately)
•    Save up to $500 per year on professional color printing costs compared with laser printers3

Lower energy use
•    Save energy with this efficient, ENERGY STAR® qualified all-in-one instead of using various separate machines
•    Reduce your paper consumption and costs by printing on both sides of the page

All-around great performance
•    Get laser quality at speeds up to 15 pages/minute black and 11 color5; get maximum speeds of 35 black, 34 color##
•    Get bolder blacks, more vivid color, and less smearing when using plain papers with the ColorLok technology
•    Get water-resistant documents on plain paper with inks designed for business4
•    Easily share this all-in-one and efficiently use resources with the embedded wired Ethernet networking
•    Print up to 500 sheets without reloading via an extra 250-sheet tray (sold separately)
•    Access photos and insert images into documents via memory card slots

A very nice Office Depot store manager spent about 45 minutes with me explaining the printer, how the new ink technology made the printer less expensive (ink wise) than a laser printer, etc.  I even ponied up for the premier version with an extra paper tray – thinking that I could keep my higher quality paper in the bottom tray and not have to change the paper for different print jobs.


We had a bumpy start, my printer and I.

I almost bought another Epson to use for my portfolio printing because I just wasn’t getting the quality I wanted or expected from my new printer.  I was frustrated!  I couldn’t select the extra tray with my quality paper when I wanted to and couldn’t figure out why.  So on my way to get a second printer (where was I going to put it?  And I wasn’t happy thinking I had to buy not 1 but 2 printers…) I tweeted.

Yup.  Twitter to the rescue once again. I had met a woman who worked for HP on Twitter when I was at BlogWorld in October.  She happened to see my tweet and because we had bonded on Twitter, asked how she could help.  (She’s  @iizLiz on Twitter – you should follow her!)

Liz helped me figure out the best paper to get the rich colors I needed for my portfolio – Brochure Paper, 180g, Glossy.  Yeah!  Getting happier…

But I still didn’t understand why my paper tray plan wasn’t working!  The nice Office Depot guy thought it would…  Well Liz bent over backward for me and had a Market Development Manager who actually helped develop my printer call and talk to me about my issues.  It turns out, tray 2 can’t be used for special paper (something about the rollers) so I could have saved some $ and skipped that upgrade.  I gave him some feedback on the machine, learned a bit more about it and now I’m happy and own only 1 printer – my HP.  (They gave me some free ink too for my trouble and because he felt bad that I was mis-informed about the extra tray option.)

My advice for anyone looking for a new printer.

1. Don’t just rely on websites that compare printers and sell them.  Check the manufacturers websites as well when you think you have one of interest – you will get the most details there.

2.  Don’t just rely on a sales person at the store.  They are trained to a point, but don’t know the more technical details someone that does a lot of full color printing needs to know.

3. Ask your friends what they have and how happy they are.  Ask why they like or don’t like their printer, how much them spent on the printer and their ink costs… ask! Ask! Ask!

4.  Finally, don’t make yourself crazy with the decision.  It can feel like a huge deal – and it is important to get a printer that will print your art well – but in the end, it isn’t worth too much time away from your art or losing sleep over!

Best of luck of happy, long-life printers that put your best art forward!

– Tara Reed

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