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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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science
4 Expert Tips on How to Get the Most Out of August's Total Solar Eclipse
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Richard Bouhet // Getty

As you might have heard, there’s a total solar eclipse crossing the U.S. on August 21. It’s the first total solar eclipse in the country since 1979, and the first coast-to-coast event since June 8, 1918, when eclipse coverage pushed World War I off the front page of national newspapers. Americans are just as excited today: Thousands are hitting the road to stake out prime spots for watching the last cross-country total solar eclipse until 2045. We’ve asked experts for tips on getting the most out of this celestial spectacle.

1. DON’T FRY YOUR EYES—OR BREAK THE BANK

To see the partial phases of the eclipse, you will need eclipse glasses because—surprise!—staring directly at the sun for even a minute or two will permanently damage your retinas. Make sure the glasses you buy meet the ISO 12312-2 safety standards. As eclipse frenzy nears its peak, shady retailers are selling knock-off glasses that will not adequately protect your eyes. The American Astronomical Society keeps a list of reputable vendors, but as a rule, if you can see anything other than the sun through your glasses, they might be bogus. There’s no need to splurge, however: You can order safe paper specs in bulk for as little as 90 cents each. In a pinch, you and your friends can take turns watching the partial phases through a shared pair of glasses. As eclipse chaser and author Kate Russo points out, “you only need to view occasionally—no need to sit and stare with them on the whole time.”

2. DON’T DIY YOUR EYE PROTECTION

There are plenty of urban legends about “alternative” ways to protect your eyes while watching a solar eclipse: smoked glass, CDs, several pairs of sunglasses stacked on top of each other. None works. If you’re feeling crafty, or don’t have a pair of safe eclipse glasses, you can use a pinhole projector to indirectly watch the eclipse. NASA produced a how-to video to walk you through it.

3. GET TO THE PATH OF TOTALITY

Bryan Brewer, who published a guidebook for solar eclipses, tells Mental Floss the difference between seeing a partial solar eclipse and a total solar eclipse is “like the difference between standing right outside the arena and being inside watching the game.”

During totality, observers can take off their glasses and look up at the blocked-out sun—and around at their eerily twilit surroundings. Kate Russo’s advice: Don’t just stare at the sun. “You need to make sure you look above you, and around you as well so you can notice the changes that are happening,” she says. For a brief moment, stars will appear next to the sun and animals will begin their nighttime routines. Once you’ve taken in the scenery, you can use a telescope or a pair of binoculars to get a close look at the tendrils of flame that make up the sun’s corona.

Only a 70-mile-wide band of the country stretching from Oregon to South Carolina will experience the total eclipse. Rooms in the path of totality are reportedly going for as much as $1000 a night, and news outlets across the country have raised the specter of traffic armageddon. But if you can find a ride and a room, you'll be in good shape for witnessing the spectacle.

4. PRESERVE YOUR NIGHT VISION

Your eyes need half an hour to fully adjust to darkness, but the total eclipse will last less than three minutes. If you’ve just been staring at the sun through the partial phases of the eclipse, your view of the corona during totality will be obscured by lousy night vision and annoying green afterimages. Eclipse chaser James McClean—who has trekked from Svalbard to Java to watch the moon blot out the sun—made this rookie mistake during one of his early eclipse sightings in Egypt in 2006. After watching the partial phases, with stray beams of sunlight reflecting into his eyes from the glittering sand and sea, McClean was snowblind throughout the totality.

Now he swears by a new method: blindfolding himself throughout the first phases of the eclipse to maximize his experience of the totality. He says he doesn’t mind “skipping the previews if it means getting a better view of the film.” Afterward, he pops on some eye protection to see the partial phases of the eclipse as the moon pulls away from the sun. If you do blindfold yourself, just remember to set an alarm for the time when the total eclipse begins so you don’t miss its cross-country journey. You'll have to wait 28 years for your next chance.

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Pop Culture
IKEA Publishes Instructions for Turning Rugs Into Game of Thrones Capes
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HBO

Game of Thrones is one of the most expensive TV shows ever produced, but even the crew of the hit HBO series isn’t above using an humble IKEA hack behind the scenes. According to Mashable, the fur capes won by Jon Snow and other members of the Night’s Watch on the show are actually sheepskin rugs sold by the home goods chain.

The story behind the iconic garment was first revealed by head costume designer Michele Clapton at a presentation at Los Angeles’s Getty Museum in 2016. “[It’s] a bit of a trick,” she said at Designing the Middle Ages: The Costumes of GoT. “We take anything we can.”

Not one to dissuade customers from modifying its products, IKEA recently released a cape-making guide in the style of its visual furniture assembly instructions. To start you’ll need one of their Skold rugs, which can be bought online for $79. Using a pair of scissors cut a slit in the material and make a hole where your head will go. Slip it on and you’ll look ready for your Game of Thrones debut.

The costume team makes a few more changes to the rugs used on screen, like shaving them, adding leather straps, and waxing and “frosting” the fur to give it a weather-worn effect. Modern elements are used to make a variety of the medieval props used in Game of Thrones. The swords, for example, are made from aircraft aluminum, not steel. For more production design insights, check out these behind-the-scenes secrets of Game of Thrones weapons artists.

[h/t Mashable]

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