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The Quick 10: 10 Famous Cemeteries

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Welcome to part two of my somewhat random Halloween Series!

I love old cemeteries (which apparently makes me a taphophile, which I just learned today). I know that's a little weird, but as a writer, it sort of makes sense "“ tombstones get my imagination going, especially the really old ones that are falling over, sinking into the ground or have intriguing epitaphs. Whenever we travel, I invariably end up looking to see if there's anything interesting in the area. Today's Quick 10 is a list includes a couple I've been to, but mostly just famous (or infamous) places that serve as the final resting place for thousands. By the way, I'm omitting Sleepy Hollow Cemetery because I have a whole Sleepy Hollow post planned for later in the month.

1. Mount Moriah Cemetery in Deadwood, South Dakota, is like Mecca to Wild West buffs. billHere, you'll find Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane, Seth Bullock, Potato Creek Johnny and Sol Star. A lot of the inhabitants of Mount Moriah used to be buried at Ingelside Cemetery, but at some point in the 1880s, it was decided that they would be moved to Mount Moriah so the Ingelside area could be used for housing. The Deadwood visitor's site says that it's not uncommon for people gardening or doing work on their houses to find bones leftover from when their part of town used to be Ingelside Cemetery. Other than its celebrities, the cemetery is noted because it was granted permission by Congress to fly the flag 24 hours a day. Normally, a flag has to be taken down at dark or during inclement weather. Only a handful of places in the U.S. are granted permission to do this, including the birthplace of Francis Scott Key (the Star Spangled banner composer), the White House and the Washington Monument. Gettysburg College does a variation of this; more on that below.

2. Arlington National Cemetery. I've been there twice, but once was in fifth grade and once was on a class trip in eighth grade"¦ way before I became interested in the historical aspects of cemeteries. Back then I was probably way more concerned about the heat making my hair look bad in front of Clint Johnson (who didn't know I existed anyway). But I'd be much more fascinated by the cemetery today "“ it has some very interesting stories. First, there's the Tomb of the Unknown Soliders, or Tomb of the Unknowns - constantly guarded tombs for unidentified soldiers from WWI, WWII, the Korean War and Vietnam. The latter Unknown is no longer there, and no longer Unknown. It was determined in 1998 that the soldier was Air Force 1st Lt. Michael J. Blassie, who was then laid to rest near his family in St. Louis.

Other memorials at Arlington include the JFK Eternal Flame, the memorial to the USS Maine; the Challenger Memorial; the 9/11 Pentagon Memorial; the memorial to the victims of Pan Am Flight 103 and a monument to Glenn Miller (his remains were not recoverable). There's also the graves of Joe Louis, Medgar Evers, William Jennings Bryan, Robert Todd Lincoln, Lee Marvin, William Rehnquist and William Howard Taft, among others.

Another interesting interrment is James Parks, the only man buried at Arlington who was also born at Arlington. He was born on Arlington Estate before the land was made a military burial ground. Parks worked there for nearly his entire life, digging graves and doing general upkeep. He was a slave before his owner, George Washington Park Custis (George's adopted son and also his step-grandson) freed him in 1862.

I know; I'm getting totally carried away with this bullet point. And that's only the beginning of the fascinating things at Arlington.

morrison3. Père Lachaise in Paris. I visited this one in 2002 and can vouch for its gorgeousness. It was established by Napoleon in 1804 after another large cemetery was closed because of its close proximity to an outdoor food market. It wasn't popular at the time because it was considered to be too far away form the city center"¦ so what did the cemetery officials do? They marketed, of course, and made sure that everyone thought Père Lachaise was THE place to spend your afterlife.
First, the remains of La Fontaine and Molière were transferred there, followed about 13 years later by Abélard and Héloise. It's tradition that people who are searching for true love leave letters at their crypt in hopes that they will find a romance as famous as this duo's. But it might not actually be their final resting place "“ The Oratory of the Paraclete, the monastery founded by Abelard, says that he and Heloise are buried on their site and the monument at Père Lachaise is merely a memorial. Other famous people buried there: Balzac, Oscar Wilde Sarah Bernhardt, Chopin, Edith Piaf, Isadora Duncan, Pissarro, Marcel Marceau, Gertrude Stein, Proust and sort of Maria Callas. After being stolen from the cemetery and recovered, her ashes were scattered at sea "“ but the empty urn is still on display.
I feel like I'm forgetting someone"¦ hmmm"¦ oh yeah, Jim Morrison. Along with Oscar Wilde, Morrison's is the most-visited grave there. It's constantly defaced and vandalized by souvenir-seekers, which has caused the families of other, non-famous people buried at Père Lachaise to become quite angry.

4. The Forest Lawn Parks in California. Each one of these could be listed as their own bullet points, but I'm going to lump them together for the sake of keeping the list at least a little diverse. The Hollywood Hills version contains all kinds of statues and works of art, including a replica of the of Old North Church in Boston. There is also a cenotaph there that will be used in a crazy-elaborate Penn and Teller card trick "“ the monument is engraved with a three of clubs and the saying, "Is this your card?" But if card tricks aren't your thing, you can check out the graves of Steve Allen, Gene Autry, Bette Davis, Sandra Dee, Roy Disney, Marty Feldman (who I include because he was Igor in Young Frankenstein, Marvin Gaye, Andy Gibb, Buster Keaton, Ernie Kovacs, Dorothy Lamour, Stan Laurel, Liberace, Ozzie and Harriet Nelson, Ricky Nelson, John Ritter and Telly Savalas. And that's just at Hollywood Hills.

At Glendale, you'll find a stained glass replica of The Last Supper, full-sized reproductions of Michelangelo's David and Moses (using marble from the same quarry the real ones were made from, mind you), three chapels, a mosaic of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, a 13-foot tall Statue of George Washington and a 195-foot long panorama of the Crucifixion of Christ. Supposedly the gates to the cemetery are even historic "“ they are thought to be the world's largest wrought-iron gates. At Glendale, you may be able to visit these people (I say "may" because some of them are in private areas the general public can't get to): Gracie Allen and George Burns, L. Frank Baum, Humphrey Bogart, Mount Rushmore sculptor Gutzon Borglum, Clara Bow, Nat King Cole, Sam Cooke, Dorothy Dandridge, Sammy Davis, Jr., Walt Disney, Errol Flynn, W.C. Fields, Larry Fine from The Three Stooges, Clark Gable and Carole Lombard, Jean Harlow, Edith Head, Alan Ladd, Louis L'Amour, Mary Pickford, Norma Shearer, Jimmy Stewart and Spencer Tracy.

5. Gettysburg National Cemetery, Pennsylvania. Between the Union and Confederate armies, there were nearly 8,000 people killed at the Battle of Gettysburg"¦ and that doesn't even include the missing people. A vast majority of the bodies were just buried in shallow graves where they fell, so a proper cemetery was purchased for the 3,512 Union dead (979 of which were never identified). The Confederate dead were just left where they were buried until seven years after the battle.

The cemetery was dedicated on November 19, 1863. Abraham Lincoln wasn't the main speaker at the event, but he is certainly the one who is remembered today.

As I mentioned before, Gettysburg College is another of the few places that the U.S. flag is allowed to fly day and night "“ Pennsylvania Hall is the site where the battlefield hospital and lookout would have been located during the battle. To honor this fact and those who died, a Civil War-era flag flies at all times.

6. Highgate Cemetery in London
grave
The Highgate has been there since 1839 and is known as one of the "Magnificent Seven" cemeteries around London. Like Pere Lachaise, it became very fashionable to be interred there - people were dying to get in (c'mon"¦ oldest joke in the book. Had to do it.). It's filled with elaborate landscaping, including lots of old-growth trees and vaults dug into hillsides. Karl Marx is buried there, along with Douglas Adams, Michael Faraday and George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans). Highgate apparently had an unwanted resident in the 1970s "“ a ghost, I'm sure you're thinking. Well, yeah - people claiming to see ghosts at Highgate was not exactly uncommon. But a vampire sighting was definitely not the norm. A local man, David Farrant, was the first to make these claims. He was backed up by another local, Sean Manchester, who claimed his research showed that a noble from Europe (a local newspaper cited Wallachia, the homeland of Vlad the Impaler) was buried there and that modern-day occultists had brought him back to life. A Vampire Hunt was organized on Friday, the 13th of March, and a mob of people determined to stake the vamp showed up to help. No vampire was found, but a bitter feud formed between Manchester and Farrant, which continues to this day. They both have their own vampire websites, so if you have an interest in vampires and a high level of tolerance for B.S., check them out.

7. The Merry Cemetery is a cemetery that defies all expectations of a gloomy, Gothic burial ground. This open-air museum in Romania has colorful, cheerful tombstones with epitaphs that are often funny and poetic. The first epitaph was carved in 1935 by Stan Ioan Patras, an artist who sculpted all of the crosses out of wood and wrote all of the epitaphs/poems. When he died in 1977, he, of course, was buried in the Merry Cemetery. This isn't his epitaph, but here is an example of what you would find written on the tombs there:

...Now I will tell you a good one
I kind of liked the plum ţuica
With my friends at the pub
I used to forget what I came for

8. Westminster Abbey in London.
poets
It's home to tons of poets and royals. There's even a section dedicated just to writers and other people associated with the arts, appropriately called Poets' Corner. The first to be buried there was Geoffrey Chaucer, but now he is kept company by the likes of Robert Browning, Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, Rudyard Kipling, Laurence Olivier and Alfred Tennyson.

Royals buried there are quite numerous, so I'll just hit a few of the highlights: Elizabeth I; Mary I (AKA Bloody Mary); Anne of Cleves; Mary, Queen of Scots; Edward the Confessor and Henry VII.

There's also Darwin and Isaac Newton. I've been to London a few times; I can't believe I've never made it a point to go here...

9. ...but I have been to St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. There are 91 Popes buried there, Pope JPII being the most recent, of course. The first Pope ever, St. Peter, is said to be buried here as well. In fact, the basilica is supposed to be built on the spot where he was crucifed by Nero in 64 A.D. This has never been proved, though "“ Pope Pius XII announced in 1950 that none of the remains buried under the Basilica could definitively be declared as St. Peter's. In 1968, Pope Paul VI said that the relics of St. Peter had definitely been found, though. However, around the same time, some monks in Jerusalem discovered hundreds of coffins believed to be from the first century, including one clearly labeled, "Shimon Bar Yonah" - Simon, the Son of Jonah: the original Biblical name of the Disciple Peter." So who knows??

10. The Ben and Jerry's Flavor Graveyard. flavors Why not end with a fun one? When Ben and Jerry's retires a flavor, they do it in style. Every year, eight to 12 flavors are laid to rest based on their sales numbers. There are a ton of deceased flavors I'd love to tell you about, but something tells me that will make a good Quick 10 later this week. Stay tuned! Picture from Roadside America, which has a fun story on visiting Ben and Jerry's.

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12 Surprising Facts About Bela Lugosi
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On October 20, 1882—135 years ago today—one of the world's most gifted performers was born. In his heyday, Bela Lugosi was hailed as the undisputed king of horror. Eighty-five years after he first donned a vampire’s cape, Lugosi's take on Count Dracula is still widely hailed as the definitive portrayal of the legendary fiend. But who was the man behind the monster?

1. HE WORKED WITH THE NATIONAL THEATER OF HUNGARY.

To the chagrin of his biographers, the details concerning Bela Lugosi’s youth have been clouded in mystery. (In a 1929 interview, he straight-up admitted “for purposes of simplification, I have always thought it better to tell [lies] about the early years of my life.”) That said, we do know that he was born as Béla Ferenc Dezső Blaskó on October 20, 1882 in Lugoj, Hungary (now part of Romania). We also know that his professional stage debut came at some point in either 1901 or 1902. By 1903, Lugosi had begun to find steady work with traveling theater companies, through which he took part in operas, operettas, and stage plays. In 1913, Lugosi caught a major break when the most prestigious performing arts venue in his native country—the Budapest-based National Theater of Hungary—cast him in no less than 34 shows. Most of the characters that he played there were small Shakespearean roles such as Rosencrantz in Hamlet and Sir Walter Herbert in Richard III.

2. HE FOUGHT IN WORLD WAR I.

The so-called war to end all wars put Lugosi’s dramatic aspirations on hold. Although being a member of the National Theater exempted him from military service, he voluntarily enlisted in the Austro-Hungarian Army in 1914. Over the next year and a half, he fought against Russian forces as a lieutenant with the 43rd Royal Hungarian Infantry. While serving in the Carpathian mountains, Lugosi was wounded on three separate occasions. Upon healing from his injuries, he left the armed forces in 1916 and gratefully resumed his work with the National Theater.

3. WHEN HE MADE HIS BROADWAY DEBUT, LUGOSI BARELY KNEW ANY ENGLISH.

In December 1920, Lugosi boarded a cargo boat and emigrated to the United States. Two years later, audiences on the Great White Way got their first look at this charismatic stage veteran. Lugosi was cast as Fernando—a suave, Latin lover—in the 1922 Broadway stage play The Red Poppy. At the time, his grasp of the English language was practically nonexistent. Undaunted, Lugosi went over all of his lines with a tutor. Although he couldn’t comprehend their meaning, the actor managed to memorize and phonetically reproduce every single syllable that he was supposed to deliver on stage.

4. UNIVERSAL DIDN’T WANT TO CAST HIM AS COUNT DRACULA.

The year 1927 saw Bela Lugosi sink his teeth into the role of a lifetime. A play based on the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker had opened in London in 1924. Sensing its potential, Horace Liveright, an American producer, decided to create an U.S. version of the show. Over the summer of 1927, Lugosi was cast as the blood-sucking Count Dracula. For him, the part represented a real challenge. In Lugosi’s own words, “It was a complete change from the usual romantic characters I was playing, but it was a success.” It certainly was. Enhanced by his presence, the American Dracula remained on Broadway for a full year, then spent two years touring the country.

Impressed by its box office prowess, Universal decided to adapt the show into a major motion picture in 1930. Horror fans might be surprised to learn that when the studio began the process of casting this movie’s vampiric villain, Lugosi was not their first choice. At the time, Lugosi was still a relative unknown, which made director Tod Browning more than a little hesitant to offer him the job. A number of established actors were all considered before the man who’d played Dracula on Broadway was tapped to immortalize his biting performance on film.

5. MOST OF HIS DRACULA-RELATED FAN MAIL CAME FROM WOMEN.

The recent Twilight phenomenon is not without historical precedent. Lugosi estimated that, while he was playing the Count on Broadway, more than 97 percent of the fan letters he received were penned by female admirers. A 1932 Universal press book quotes him as saying, “When I was on the stage in Dracula, my audiences were composed mostly of women.” Moreover, Lugosi contended that most of the men who’d attended his show had merely been dragged there by female companions.   

6. HE TURNED DOWN THE ROLE OF FRANKENSTEIN’S MONSTER.

Released in 1931, Dracula quickly became one of the year's biggest hits for Universal (some film historians even argue that the movie single-handedly rescued the ailing studio from bankruptcy). Furthermore, its astronomical success transformed Lugosi into a household name for the first time in his career. Regrettably for him, though, he’d soon miss the chance to star in another smash. Pleased by Dracula’s box office showing, Universal green-lit a new cinematic adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Lugosi seemed like the natural choice to play the monster, but because the poor brute had few lines and would be caked in layers of thick makeup, the actor rejected the job offer. As far as Lugosi was concerned, the character was better suited for some “half-wit extra” than a serious actor. Once the superstar tossed Frankenstein aside, the part was given to a little-known actor named Boris Karloff.

Moviegoers eventually did get to see Lugosi play the bolt-necked corpse in the 1943 cult classic Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man. According to some sources, he strongly detested the guttural scream that the script forced him to emit at regular intervals. “That yell is the worst thing about the part. You feel like a big jerk every time you do it!” Lugosi allegedly complained.

7. LUGOSI’S RELATIONSHIP WITH BORIS KARLOFF WAS MORE CORDIAL THAN IT’S USUALLY MADE OUT TO BE.

It’s often reported that the two horror icons were embittered rivals. In reality, however, Karloff and Lugosi seemed to have harbored some mutual respect—and perhaps even affection for one another. The dynamic duo co-starred in five films together, the first of which was 1934’s The Black Cat; Karloff claimed that, on set, Lugosi was “Suspicious of tricks, fearful of what he regarded as scene stealing. Later on, when he realized I didn’t go in for such nonsense, we became friends.” During one of their later collaborations, Lugosi told the press “we laughed over my sad mistake and his good fortune as Frankenstein is concerned.”

That being said, Lugosi probably didn’t appreciate the fact that in every single film which featured both actors, Karloff got top billing. Also, he once privately remarked, “If it hadn’t been for Boris Karloff, I could have had a corner on the horror market.”

8. HE LOVED SOCCER.

In 1935, Lugosi was named Honorary President of the Los Angeles Soccer League. An avid fan, he was regularly seen at Loyola Stadium, where he’d occasionally kick off the first ball during games held there. Also, on top of donating funds to certain Hungarian teams, Lugosi helped finance the Los Angeles Magyar soccer club. When the team won a state championship in 1935, one newspaper wrote that the players were “headed back to Dracula’s castle with the state cup.” [PDF]

9. HE WAS A HARDCORE STAMP COLLECTOR.

Lugosi's fourth wife, Lillian Arch, claimed that Lugosi maintained a collection of more than 150,000 stamps. Once, on a 1944 trip to Boston, he told the press that he intended to visit all 18 of the city's resident philately dealers. “Stamp collecting,” Lugosi declared, “is a hobby which may cost you as much as 10 percent of your investment. You can always sell your stamps with not more than a 10 percent loss. Sometimes, you can even make money.” Fittingly enough, the image of Lugosi’s iconic Dracula appeared on a commemorative stamp issued by the post office in 1997.

10. LUGOSI ALMOST DIDN’T APPEAR IN ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN—BECAUSE THE STUDIO THOUGHT HE WAS DEAD.

The role of Count Dracula in this 1948 blockbuster was nearly given to Ian Keith—who was considered for the same role in the 1931 Dracula movie. Being a good sport, Lugosi helped promote the horror-comedy by making a special guest appearance on The Abbott and Costello Show. While playing himself in one memorable sketch, the famed actor claimed to eat rattlesnake burgers for dinner and “shrouded wheat” for breakfast.

11. A CHIROPRACTOR FILLED IN FOR HIM IN PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE.

Toward the end of his life, Lugosi worked on three ultra-low-budget science fiction pictures with Ed Wood, a man who’s been posthumously embraced as the worst director of all time. In the 1953 transvestite picture Glen or Glenda?, Lugosi plays a cryptic narrator who offers such random and unsolicited bits of advice as “Beware of the big, green dragon who sits on your doorstep.” Then came 1955’s Bride of the Monster, in which Lugosi played a mad scientist who ends up doing battle with a (suspiciously limp) giant octopus.

Before long, Wood had cooked up around half a dozen concepts for new films, all starring Lugosi. At some point in the spring of 1956, the director shot some quick footage of the actor wandering around a suburban neighborhood, clad in a baggy cloak. This proved to be the last time that the star would ever appear on film. Lugosi died of a heart attack on August 16, 1956;  he was 73 years old.

Three years after Lugosi's passing, this footage was spliced into a cult classic that Wood came to regard as his “pride and joy.” Plan 9 From Outer Space tells the twisted tale of extraterrestrial environmentalists who turn newly-deceased human beings into murderous zombies. Since Lugosi could obviously no longer play his character, Wood hired a stand-in for some additional scenes. Unfortunately, the man who was given this job—California chiropractor Tom Mason—was several inches taller than Lugosi. In an attempt to hide the height difference, Wood instructed Mason to constantly hunch over. Also, Mason always kept his face hidden behind a cloak.

12. HE WAS BURIED IN HIS DRACULA CAPE.

Although Lugosi resented the years of typecasting that followed his breakout performance in Dracula, he asked to be laid to rest wearing the Count’s signature garment. Lugosi was buried under a simple tombstone at California's Holy Cross Cemetery.

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How to Carve a Pumpkin—And Not Injure Yourself in the Process
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Wielding a sharp knife with slippery hands around open flames and nearby children doesn't sound like the best idea—but that's exactly what millions of Halloween celebrations entail. While pumpkin carving is a fun tradition, it can also bring the risk of serious hand injuries. According to the American Society for Surgery of the Hand (ASSH), some wounds sustained from pumpkin misadventure can result in surgery and months of rehabilitation.

Fortunately, there are easy ways to minimize trauma. Both ASSH and CTV News have compiled safety tips for pumpkin carvers intended to reduce the chances of a trip to the emergency room.

First, it's recommended that carvers tackle their design with knives made specifically for carving. Kitchen knives are sharp and provide a poor grip when trying to puncture tough pumpkin skin: Pumpkin carving knives have slip-resistant handles and aren't quite as sharp, while kitchen knives can get wedged in, requiring force to pull them out.

Carvers should also keep the pumpkin intact while carving, cleaning out the insides later. Why? Once a pumpkin has been gutted, you’re likely to stick your free hand inside to brace it, opening yourself up to an inadvertent stab from your knife hand. When you do open it up, it's better to cut from the bottom: That way, the pumpkin can be lowered over a light source rather than risk a burn dropping one in from the top.

Most importantly, parents would be wise to never let their kids assist in carving without supervision, and should always work in a brightly-lit area. Adults should handle the knife, while children can draw patterns and scoop out innards. According to Consumer Reports, kids ages 10 to 14 tend to suffer the most Halloween-related accidents, so keeping carving duties to ages 14 and above is a safe bet.

If all else fails and your carving has gone awry, have a first aid kit handy and apply pressure to any wound to staunch bleeding. With some common sense, however, it's unlikely your Halloween celebration will turn into a blood sacrifice.

[h/t CTV News]

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