Thursday, November 22, 2012

Sales from the Crypt

 Ever since Halloween I've been on a bit of a Simpsons bender. After watching a few Treehouse of Horrors in celebration of the holiday I remembered why I love the show so much. I've even been listening to a bunch of commentaries, which I highly recommend if you're a fan. It's interesting and informative to be sure, but what makes them so good is how entertaining they are. Watch for ones that include special guests! I've been using the TV Audio Commentary Database to pick and choose which commentaries I listen to.

There's a random side plot in the Season 12 episode "Tennis the Menace" that leads into the main story through an almost meaningless comment about how much cement an extravagant mausoleum would consume ("as much as a regulation size tennis court"). In this part of the episode, The Simpsons take Grandpa to the "Sales From the Crypt" funeral home to redeem a "Free Autopsy" gift certificate he wins in a senior talent show. In my opinion, best name for a funeral home in all of history. But I am quite the Tales from the Crypt fan, I may be biased.

The episode pokes fun at the degree of luxury available for the dead, which in reality ends up more of a comfort for the living than anything else. Among the features discussed are the Cadaver Cam with picture-in-picture capability, self-cleaning monuments and a "weeping widow" service. It's a fantastic scene, but it also got me thinking about how little burials have changed over the past, say, 50 years. Perhaps longer. The biggest change I can think of is the technology that allows for either laser cutting designs into headstones, more variety of color available or producing highly detailed images even to the point of reproducing photographs. I'm sure there may be stronger materials in terms of caskets, luxury fabrics, little things like that. There has been talk online about a Coffin Cam, like in the episode, but I think it's a hoax instead of an actual service that someone could buy. Is there anyone out there actually trying to come up with new features for burials that take advantage of our technological development in other areas? Would it make already expensive funeral costs skyrocket? Is there anything practical we can do that wouldn't be destroyed by the elements? Maybe a tag or something similar to a QR code that we could use to access more information about the person or family buried there? I wonder.

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