Welcome.

Cotton is not a name for a person

Cotton is not a name for a person

Since it's almost Halloween, let's go deeper into the subject of cemetery connoisseurship with a brief and badly-photographed visit to Copp's Hill Cemetery in Boston.

The thing about cemeteries is that in a certain light, they are funny.

I cannot help but think of Olivia Newton John.

This makes me giggle. It's the carefully-carved hair. And the headband. And the suspicious eyes. And the little pursed mouth that just doesn't quite approve of whatever is going on stage left, which is probably appropriate for a cemetery full of Puritans.

In all seriousness, what is going on here?

The willow tree (?) in this one is very nice, but the sinister atmosphere of the scene is somewhat decreased by the blancmange in the soup tureen.

A classic and especially adorable example of the "death's head." This strikes me as quite Goreyesque. Even though he's always said to have used Edwardian sets and costumes (for lack of better terms), there's something very Gorey about pre-1800 gravestone iconography.

The headstone shapes, the skeletons, and the urns, for example, all appear in his opening credits for Mystery!

Even the lady with the winged hat, though living, bears a strong resemblance to a death's head. Gorey's hand-lettering also owes something to the engravings on these stones.

Now that I think about it, Edward Gorey may be the reason I found Copp's Hill so endlessly funny. Anyone who did not happen to be a devotee of Mystery! probably wouldn't have giggled quite so much.

Cotton Mather is also buried there, with his father, Increase. Cotton's zeal for witchfinding was not very funny, but his name is. I finally looked him up and learned that Cotton was his mother's maiden name, so that makes a lot more sense now. Nevertheless, I insist that Cotton is not a name for a person. Neither is Increase, come to that. I suppose they were both lucky not to have been named "Wrestling," "Anger," "Lament," or "Die-well." I commented earlier on the fact that in the 1790 census everyone's name is John. I'm reconsidering the critical air of my remarks - "John" is a great step up given the historical context.

Ranking cemeteries I have visited, I would put Copp's Hill at #2 behind Mount Hope. Landscape-wise it leaves something to be desired, but it is much funnier.

Sense of the Terrific.

Sense of the Terrific.

Knight of the woods

Knight of the woods