Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Really Old Blog Crap-February 2006: Where Will You End Up?

In the past year or so, I have done more research on the web than I care to think about. When I was writing political stuff on a daily basis, I would sometimes spend hours upon hours doing research. Most of the time the research took ten times longer to do than the actual writing of the article.

It wasn’t just the non fiction stuff that I had to research either. Despite the fact that it was fiction, my story Laurie and Dag that I penned for The Sims 2 site had to have some basis in factual events and it became necessary to spend a few hours Googling up some information for that also. Since starting Clyde’s Corner, I haven’t spent too much time typing incoherent phrases into a search box to find out what I need to know. I hope it never comes to that again.

One thing is also certain about the web. If there is something you need to know, whether it’s about a big historical event or the most minutiae of factoids, you can probably find it. There is always somebody, somewhere, willing to start a web site about practically anything, no matter how strange, grotesque, obscene, weird, or just plain odd it may seem to the average person. And if you do any kind of research at all you’ll find these sites more often than not. It just depends on whether or not you want to jump to page 1030 of your search results.

Sometimes when I come across a site I didn’t know about before, I often wonder where people got the idea from. I suppose the trick to making successful web sites is to be the first to come up with a good idea and get it going. From the looks of things, there can’t be that many original ideas left. But you never know. If you’ve been thinking of something to put on the web but say to yourself, “nah, that’s too weird,” my advice is to get busy and get with it. Somebody out there will make use of it.
One site I found about four or five years ago, and thousands upon thousands of other people have also is one called Find-A-Grave. You may have heard of it or been there yourself. I don’t remember what I was researching but I do remember suddenly having the thought that there might be a web site where I could find pictures of the graves of famous people. And just like I said, there it was on the web waiting for me.

The premise is simple. You get a bunch of people to contribute whatever information they have where the final resting place of someone is and then Find-A-Grave posts the information. You can go on the site and find out where the guy next door ended up (if it was submitted), or you can just browse around and look at the graves of some famous people. Yep, there is a ton of pictures on there also.
For instance, you can find the gravesites of famous actors, actresses, producers or directors. So if you were ever planning on taking a vacation out to Hollywood, and visiting Marilyn Monroe, you can now cross it off of your site seeing tour and use that time for more fruitful endeavors like going to Disneyland, Universal Studios or heading down to The Price is Right so Bob Barker can tell you to come on down!

One thing I noticed is that you can’t always tell how famous a person was by their final resting place. Many celebrities such as Marilyn are buried in crypts in large buildings. Usually they are in good company as there are often numerous other dead celebrities lying around in close proximity. I didn’t readily recognize any of the names that were close to Marilyn. Maybe you will know them and pay your last respects. Tell them Clyde sent you.

Bob Hope on the other hand has one of the nicer layouts around but you would expect him to. I checked his out last night and it’s a doozy.

Sometimes though, you can’t visit a celebrity grave because they don’t have one. Yeah, they opted for cremation and having their ashes scattered somewhere. The somewhere of choice is mainly the Ocean, although it could be just about anywhere. Cremation will probably be my method of choice also. But I haven’t given much thought as to where I want my ashes to end up. I’ll try to think of something different and weird so that maybe after I’m gone I can have my fifteen minutes of fame. Has anybody ever had their ashes scattered at the Pirates of The Caribbean Ride?

Fear not though, they still give you a picture of the person when they were alive so that you can leave your condolences. Yep you can leave little messages with a little icon of flowers, cigarettes, beer, or anything else the person may have been attached to. Marilyn has 5,698 notes, Johnny Carson has 1,509 notes but he hasn’t been gone that long. Bob Hope has 1,669 notes so he only beat out Carson by a hair. I guess that means that Bob was about 160 more notes more popular than Carson. But then again, Carson was cremated so maybe a few people feel a bit odd about leaving condolences where there isn’t a picture of a grave marker.

And there’s another way to look at the service Find-A-Grave supplies. How many of us have ever been invited to the funeral of a famous person to pay our last respects? I can guarantee you that not very many of us have. I know I never have. The closest I’ve ever came to actually being at one of these places is when on a trip to the beach my girlfriend and I stopped at a restaurant right next to the road where James Dean wiped out in his car. The food wasn’t so great, but I got some great video of the monument and highway. When I edited it into some other video of surfers, seagulls, and sexy girls in bikinis, I even had the Forrest Gump Feather theme playing over top of it. Now is that art or is that art? So since you're never going to be on an invitation list for their funeral, isn’t this the next best thing?

Along with the famous, there is also the infamous. You can find the last resting places of some of the more notorious and despicable people that once walked the planet. John Wayne Gacy is there along with Lee Harvey Oswald, Bonnie and Clyde and John Dillinger. Ted Bundy is there, but he was cremated. If you want to leave a message for them in case they are somewhere in the hereafter pounding away endlessly on their PC or Mac, you can’t do it. On the pages of the worst of the worst you are greeted by a sad little flower telling you that the condolence feature has been turned off because of continual abuse. Too bad really, because I had a few choice words for a few of those people myself.

Every once in a while you’ll find the gravesite of someone who isn’t dead yet. It seems some famous people like to plan well ahead. I have to commend them on their foresight. We should all be like that.

Efrem Zimbalest Jr. is one of those who planned ahead. He’s going to take up residence in Connecticut when he’s done. And those who might want to pay their respects to him have thought ahead also and begun leaving messages. That’s certainly better than waiting till the last minute. Just think, he can enjoy all those messages and thoughts, something most of us won’t get to do. Some of the messages congratulate him on still being alive, wish him a Happy Birthday, and let Efrem know how enjoyable he was on the TV series The FBI. My favorite though is succinct and to the point and was left by Anonymous. It simply had two words: Keep Breathing.

Of course, as with anything there may be a side effect if you hang around Find-a-grave too long. You may begin wondering what your own grave would look like if pictures of it were on there. I’ve taken care of that for you also.

You can now go to a site called Tombstone Generator and see what your own Grave Marker might look like. You just punch in what you want inscribed, click a button and voila, instant tombstone! And you can save the picture to your computer and pay your respects to yourself anytime you want. Yep, that's mine at the top of the post.

It can come in handy for other things also. For instance, my sister and I were trying to convince my brother that a certain somewhat famous person was no longer around. He insisted they were and of course he was right. But after sending him a generated tombstone for this still very much alive person, he wasn’t quite sure. It took a little bit of research for him to find out the truth. He says he was never fooled but I know better.

And if you aren’t in the mood for a tombstone, they also have warning signs you can generate, or if you’re in a religious type mood, your own personalized church sign. I’ve whipped up a couple of those myself, just to give you an example. And for just $7.50, you can have your Church sign made into a refrigerator magnet and impress your friends and family.

All I know is that I really like all these ideas. As my last request, I’m going to make sure I end up with a picture on Find-A-grave so I can be forever immortalized and pixilated. And it won’t cost me anything, even if I’m cremated. I’ll just send up a picture of my brand new computer generated Tombstone and nobody will ever be wiser. But don’t expect it too soon. I’m really in no real hurry to be immortalized, and won’t be anytime soon. Catch you later!

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