By W.S. Merwin
In the last days of the presidents a new star appeared. By then the organization of fear was vast and persuasive beyond anything that could have been conceived by the founding fathers. . . . On the domestic front the police were their own masters, and no branch of technology was closed to them. Any window, any light bulb, any picture might be a television camera connected to the nearest precinct. No one dared to examine too closely. Those who did might be arrested a few minutes later, charged with obstruction or conspiracy. Bail no longer existed, trials came seldom, sentences were inevitable, heavy, and without appeal. On the whole, it was said, the public was relieved at the steady disappearance of disturbing elements.
The kids and I were stuck at home with no vehicle this morning and I had laundry to fold, so we watched the first National Treasure, feeling nostalgic for it. I must admit that having Sean Bean definitely adds an element that was absent in the second movie, though I love Helen Mirren even in such a fluffy role; the first one is so much fun for me because I've spent lots of time in all the cities where it takes place, and the scenes in Philadelphia in particular are so much fun, plus I love the Founding Fathers as secret possessors of Masonic treasure. Paul came home early so we could pick up the van and get Adam the new Warriors book Dark River (we couldn't find the manga Warrior's Refuge, Thursday may have to brave the mall for that). CVS gave me a holiday present -- they had new for $7 the special edition DVD of Fatal Attraction with the original ending, which has been on my Amazon.com wish list for about six years!
Since the car place is right next door to IHOP, we went there for dinner -- it was surprisingly crowded but harvest nut pancakes, turkey bacon and hash browns make up for a lot. Then we came home and wanted to watch something seasonal before the inevitable football game (the Motor City Bowl, Purdue/Central Michigan, which actually had a completely thrilling fourth quarter), and wound up picking Kingdom of Heaven, which is a better movie than I expect every time I watch it. People who find fault with Orlando Bloom's performance in this are looking for reasons to find fault, because he holds his own very well with a great many terrific actors (Liam Neeson, Jeremy Irons, Alexander Siddig, Brendan Gleeson, Ghassan Massoud, Kevin McKidd, David Thewlis, Michael Sheen, et al). His chemistry's not terrific with Eva Green but I find her rather stiff overall...this would be a better film without the tempted-and-fallen-over-women stuff overall. The screenplay has some definite weaknesses but overall it's still a much better movie than it generally gets credit for being, I think.
The tomb of George and Martha Washington at Mount Vernon.
Behind their graves is a vault where other family members are buried.
In the new education center at Mount Vernon, sculptors worked with life masks made of Washington to create lifelike statues of him at various stages in his life. Here he is as a young surveyor...
...and later as a military commander. He was 6'2" which was quite tall for his era.
A wealthy man, Washington had a coach house but his family coach made by Clark Brothers does not survive today. This one belonged to Samuel Powel, Mayor of Philadelphia and Washington's good friend.
One of General Washington's pistols and a telescope that belonged to him.
The Washingtons also had a large kitchen, not connected to the rest of the house because although it looks like stone, it's actually treated wood, sprayed with sand and painted to give it the appearance of masonry, so there was significant fire risk.
Am laughing so much over Barron Hilton leaving his fortune to his father's charity, especially since he fought so hard to keep part of that fortune when his father intended to leave nearly his entire fortune to the charity but the son challenged the will. I really wish there were a maximum individual inheritance. And hey, the Giants/Patriots game will be on local TV on Saturday instead of just the stupid NFL cable network, so I know what I will be