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Rick's List — Halloween Tombstones Edition

Dear All Hallows Novelties Co.:

I'm responding to your help-wanted ad because I think I would be the perfect copywriter to come up with deceased-person names you can "inscribe" on your line of fake tombstones that people put in their yards each October.

As a big fan of the holiday and one who routinely guffaws at your creepy fake cemeteries, I nonetheless feel some of your products are a bit tired. For example, as a kid, the first time I saw one of your grave markers in a neighbor's yard, and it read COUNT DRACULA, I nearly lost my mind.

"Do you see THAT?!" I shouted to my friend Joe. "The Vampire King is buried here! At the Tompkins' house!"

Then, about four blocks later, we saw a second COUNT DRACULA tombstone. "Hey ... wait a minute!" I said. "There can't be two Count Draculas buried half a mile apart!"

That was 50 years ago, so I'm not sure you need the COUNT DRACULA grave anymore. Ditto for some of your burial mound puns like FRANK N. STEIN, YOUR MUMMY, IZZY DEAD, BARRY A. LIVE, and DEE CAPITATED.

Odd note: Growing up, there was a family with the surname "Capitated" two streets over on Wagman  Road. But I think the mother was Martha, the dad was Eric, and the twins were Mark and, for some reason, Otter-Face. But no Dee. Missed opportunity.

Anyway, I think we could tinker with the concept. Here are a few fake tombstone inscriptions you can use:

1. DR. FREDERIC RYUSCH — "Is that a pun?" you might ask, or "Who the hell's that?" Well, Ryusch was the first person to use arterial injection whilst embalming a corpse, so the curious trick-or-treater will Google him and say, "Cool! Here's the only guy in history who was embalmed using his own method for curtailing putrescence in the dead!" Pretty spooky, right?

2. FRANK M. STEIN — This will cause some head-scratching. "I'd get my money back. Didn't they mean 'Frank N. Stein"? Back at the factory, we'll all convulse with mirth when we think about it.

3. A custom set of tombstones featuring the names of kids in YOUR neighborhood. You let us know who they are and we'll take care of the rest. For extra money, we'll add grisly causes of death.

4. ARCHIMEDES — The trick-or-treating art scholars can exult, "Hey, this is the actual source for Benjamin West's painting about Cicero discovering the tomb of the great Greek physicist/engineer!"

5. NATHAN HALE SCHOOLHOUSE — This isn't actually a grave stone but a plaque for your front porch. Hell, the guy taught everywhere else in New England, so folks might as well think he similarly did so in your house.

I've enclosed salary requirements and hope to hear from you soon. Happy Halloween,

Rick Koster

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