My new US passport, which I'll have for the next 10 years, is attractive in the manner of an expensive philatelic collector's item.
The covers are also heavy-duty -- "sensitive electronics", the inside of the back cover states and warns not to put in freezer. A cursory investigation with a magnet and powerful light found nothing, but this baby isn't going swimming anyway -- it's much too nice.
The chip, if there is one, does not play the national anthem when you open the cover. I was hoping for Aretha. This was a small disappointment. Nor is the passport truly interactive. Like an iPod Touch, it has no microphone, for example.
However, someone -- a physician named F. Scott Key I believe -- has taken fountain pen to the inside of the cover. If I can make out the handwriting, it says, "O snap, does that stem spangles beamer get wove."
Whatever that means, it's a nice personal touch in a passport that is loaded with things to look at.
If this passport were a waitperson at a burger bar, it would be wearing about 48 pieces of flair.
There is a profusion of quotations, one at the top of each pair of facing visa pages.
These, of course, are designed to get foreign border officials thinking about the relative merits of America. Look for a stream of defections and confiscated passports -- because they're powerful quotations.
They're from a rainbow coalition of folks -- one Native American (on the wildlife page), one African-American, one Asian American, one woman, one Democrat, one Republican, one Founding Father, one war hero, one war hero/Democrat. And so on, for 28 pages.
If you order extra visa pages, you can get the openly gay Republican war hero's take on freedom.
Also on each visa page: a Thomas Kinkade inspired mural of American iconography, as if challenging foreign border checkpoint officials to use brighter ink to keep up.
That white-headed eagle from the Colbert Report's opening credits appears on the signature page.
I wouldn't allow a bird near grains of wheat, but I suppose it is a trained bird.