27 November 2004


I've been cackling with glee over the trailer for National Treasure. The whole thing is stupid, of course, and I gather that the movie is a turkey, but as usual Bruckheimer is the best short filmmaker in the world. I really think that he produces these films in order to get a hundred million dollars to finance the making of the trailer. But what's not to like about a pop culture exploitation of the legend of the Templars begetting the Illuminati begetting the Masons begetting the American Revolution, and leaving their secret code on the Great Seal of the United States? And then stealing the Declaration of Independence?

The other thing that I love about it is that it reminds us that the National Archives in Washington DC is cool. I went there some years ago when I was visiting my folks, and it was as mighty as the Lincoln Memorial.

Of course, you get to see the Declaration of Independence, for which I have veneration beyond even the American norm. And the Constitution, ditto. And they had a display of the Magna Charta on loan from the Brits. (Slightly less impressive, as it turns out that they were smart enough to have King John sign several copies.)

They also have a rotating display of other cool stuff from the archive. My Dad and I cackled with glee over Nixon's resignation letter. (It's short.) I bowed before the might of Maya Lin's original design for the Vietnam Veteran's memorial. (It's handwritten, her handwriting is terrible, and her sketches suck too — neatness counts, my eye — but looking at it you can still see how brilliant the design is.)

Most delightful of all, there was a recent political cartoon that someone at the archive had clipped from the paper. In the cartoon, the President is reading the newspaper, and there's a headline about Vladamir Zhiranovsky, the scary Russian populist who was very big at the time, saying “Zhiranovsky demands return of Alaska.” The cartoon President is on the phone, saying, “Can you find me a receipt?” And sure enough, next to to the cartoon, there was the original receipt for Alaska.

I could just see some person who worked at the Archive seeing that cartoon in the paper in the morning, saying “I can find that!” Delicious.

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