Picnics, Movies & Graveyards

Cover of "The Terminator [Blu-ray]"

Summer – warm sunshine, sparkling pools and picnics in the park cemetery while watching a movie. Really, this happens. Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles, CA, the final resting place of numerous Hollywood stars (Douglas Fairbanks, Jayne Mansfield), shows movies on the lawn on a regular basis. Tickets are $10 and if you want a good spot it’s best to arrive early. This weekend they’re showing ‘The Terminator’ at 8:30pm.

What better way to spend a pleasant summer evening? Just pack a picnic basket, grab some blankets and lay down in a graveyard. I’ve never watched a movie in a cemetery but I think it’s a great idea. You get to enjoy the fresh air, watch the sunset, hang out with family/friends all while enjoying the best Hollywood has to offer.

And then there’s the atmosphere of a cemetery at night. I’m sure after the movie a few dare-devil types venture deep into the cemetery grounds to try and scare up some ‘paranormal activity.’ In fact, I bet I could find some grainy video of just such antics on YouTube if I searched hard enough. But I digress…

The practice of communing in cemeteries isn’t new. In the 1800’s, families would spend Sunday afternoons in the graveyard with their loved ones, both dead and alive. It was considered a good way to reconnect with those who had passed on. You won’t see too many get-togethers at the family plot these days however. Life is different and most people rarely visit the cemetery unless it’s Memorial Day. But as the popularity of the movie screenings at Hollywood Forever Cemetery shows, you can have good times in the graveyard. Call your local cemetery today and ask them where the best spot is to picnic. You might be surprised at the answer.


Gravetender At The Movies: ‘Contagion’


When I’m not tending graves, I enjoy watching movies. It’s become a bit of an expensive hobby in these recessionary times though, and there aren’t too many options out there that accomodate a tight budget:

  1. Movie theater: Just the movie – about $10. Movie with popcorn and soda – about $20 (and this is only for one person!)
  2. Cable: average cost for new movie releases – around $5 – $8.
  3. Netflix: about $8 (add an extra $5 for stress-related costs if you have the streaming option and your internet connection isn’t as fast as it should be).
  4. Redbox: $1 a movie a night. But you have to wait 3 months to see new stuff.
  5. Hulu: I really don’t know anything about this – I think it’s free? But you still need an internet connection (see #3).
  6. All the other movie watching options that I’m not aware of (hey, I can’t keep up with everything. I’m only human).

Anyway, I shelled out the requisite $10 to watch ‘Contagion’ last night. Now, I’m not necessarily germ-phobic but when I left the theater I did not want to touch anything or anyone. Including Gravetender Hubby, Gravetender Baby and Gravetender Car Door Handle! ‘Contagion’ did a great job of emphasizing the fact that germs are everywhere. Ick.

The movie has a fairly large cast of stars, as in the kind of stars you’ve probably heard of before – Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Laurence Fishburne. The director is Steven Soderbergh (of the ‘Erin Brockovich’ and’ Ocean’s Eleven’, ‘Ocean’s Twelve’ & ‘Ocean’s Thirteen’ fame). Based on those credentials one would expect a pretty good movie and one would not be disappointed. The main storyline of the film involves the rapid spread of a deadly disease across the globe which causes an upheaval in the lives of the main characters and in society as a whole. There is a quick descent into all-out crazy behaviour as the authorities desperately search for a cure. Although a bit slow at times, the movie is a thriller in that it effectively shows just how vulnerable we are to an unknown virus with a mission. I think this line from one of the characters, Dr. Erin Mears (Kate Winslet), says it best:

“The average person touches their face 3-5 times every waking minute. In between, we’re touching doorknobs, water fountains, and each other.”

Enough said. Bring on the hand sanitizer.