Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Laughing Song and Hallelujah among Latest Entries to the National Recording Registry

In the twelfth year of the National Recording Registry, Librarian of Congress James Billington has announced 25 sound recordings as the official entries for 2013, stating: "These recordings represent an important part of America’s culture and history. As technology continually changes and formats become obsolete, we must ensure that our nation’s aural legacy is protected. The National Recording Registry is at the core of this effort." Under the National Recording Preservation Act of 2000, selected recordings must be "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" and at least ten years old.

In chronological order, the selections for 2013 are as follows:
  1. "The Laughing Song" (single)—George Washington Johnson (c. 1896)
  2. "They Didn’t Believe Me"—Harry Macdonough and Alice Green (1915)
  3. "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime" (singles)—Bing Crosby; Rudy Vallee (both 1932)
  4. "Franz Boas and George Herzog Recordings of Kwakwaka’wakw Chief Dan Cranmer (1938)
  5. "Were You There" (single)—Roland Hayes (1940)
  6. "The Goldbergs": Sammy Goes Into the Army (July 9, 1942)
  7. "Caldonia" (single)—Louis Jordan (1945)
  8. "Dust My Broom" (single)—Elmore James (1951)
  9. "A Night at Birdland" (Vols. 1 and 2) (albums)—Art Blakey (1954)
  10. "When I Stop Dreaming" (single)—The Louvin Brothers (1955)
  11. "Cathy’s Clown" (single)—The Everly Brothers (1960)
  12. "Texas Sharecropper and Songster" (album)—Mance Lipscomb (1960)
  13. "The First Family" (album) (1962)
  14. Lawrence Ritter’s Interviews with Baseball Pioneers of the Late 19th and Early 20th Century (1962-1966)
  15. Presidential Recordings of Lyndon B. Johnson (Nov. 22, 1963 – Jan. 10, 1969)
  16. "Carnegie Hall Concert with Buck Owens and His Buckaroos" (album)—Buck Owens and His Buckaroos (1966)
  17. "Fortunate Son" (single)—Creedence Clearwater Revival (1969)
  18. "Theme from ‘Shaft’" (album)—Isaac Hayes (1971)
  19. "Only Visiting This Planet" (album)—Larry Norman (1972)
  20. "Celia & Johnny" (album)—Celia Cruz and Johnny Pacheco (1974)
  21. "Copland Conducts Copland: Appalachian Spring"—Aaron Copland (1974)
  22. "Heart Like a Wheel" (album)—Linda Ronstadt (1974)
  23. "Sweeney Todd" (album)—Original Cast Recording (1979)
  24. "The Joshua Tree" (album)—U2 (1987)
  25. "Hallelujah" (single)—Jeff Buckley (1994)
The full National Recording Registry currently numbers 400 recordings, and can be viewed here. The Registry solicits nominations for inclusion on the registry; further information on the criteria and procedures for making nominations is available at the Registry website  

Monday, March 31, 2014

Play It Hard: A Tribute to Norman Borlaug

Biology Fortified and The International Center for Maize and Wheat Improvement (CIMMYT) have produced a tribute video to Nobel Laureate, Dr. Norman Borlaug, who would have turned 100 on March 25, 2014. For further information on Borlaug's work, see the related Common Curator post, Statue for the Green Revolution.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Statue for the Green Revolution

A newly commissioned statue by the State of Iowa was unveiled today in the U.S. Capitol Building's National Statuary Hall to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Nobel Laureate Norman E. Borlaug, known as the father of the Green Revolution [video]. An Iowa native, Dr. Borlaug [1914-2009] spent his career developing disease-resistant and high-yielding wheat varieties and other cereal grains that greatly increased food production around the world. His work is estimated by some to have saved as many as one billion people from starvation.

Borlaug was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970, and later received the Congressional Gold Medal, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the National Medal of Science, the only American to have ever earned all four honors. In his Nobel Lecture, entitled "The Green Revolution, Peace, and Humanity," Borlaug stated:
. . . the first essential component of social justice is adequate food for all mankind. Food is the moral right of all who are born into this world. Yet today fifty percent of the world's population goes hungry. Without food, man can live at most but a few weeks; without it, all other components of social justice are meaningless. 
In 1986, Borlaug created the World Food Prize to recognize those who have "advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world."

The Borlaug statue, shown above, was created by artist Benjamin Victor. Each state is permitted two statues in National Statuary Hall; the statue of Borlaug will replace James Harlan, and will join Samuel Jordan Kirkwood's statue, which was installed in 1913 by Vinnie Ream, the first woman and youngest artist to receive a U.S. Government commission. She is known for her statue of Abraham Lincoln in the Capitol Rotunda.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Spring, Finally

This robin was sighted a day before the vernal equinox.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Sunshine Week 2014

March 16-22, 2014 marks Sunshine Week, an annual event which serves to raise awareness of the need for transparent and open government at all levels. Also observed this week was Freedom of Information Day, which coincides with James Madison's birthday. In 1822, Madison stated:
A popular Government without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance, and a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives.
Such sunshine laws as the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and open meetings laws provide essential legal rights and remedies for citizen access to government records and information. FOIA, which was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson on July 4, 1966 and went into effect one year later, created a "right to know" as the basis for access whereas previously citizens needed to demonstrate a "need to know." As Johnson observed at the time:
This legislation springs from one of our most essential principles: a democracy works best when the people have all the information that the security of the Nation permits. No one should be able to pull curtains of secrecy around decisions which can be revealed without injury to the public interest.
For further information, the following resources may be of interest: The National Freedom of Information Coalition; The National Security Archive; The OMB Watch; The American Civil Liberties Union; The Electronic Frontier Foundation; and, for news of international freedom of information advocacy,

Saturday, March 8, 2014

International Women's Day 2014

March 8, 2014 marks the 103st anniversary of International Women's Day. The United Nations' theme for International Women's Day 2014 is "Equality for Women Is Progress for All."  The video above features remarks by UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.

First celebrated on March 19, 1911 by more than one million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland after a proposal by Clara Zetkin [1857-1933] in 1910 at the second International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen, International Women's Day is now observed in many nations throughout the world.

The United Nations first began celebrating March 8 as International Women's Day during International Women's Year in 1975, and in 1977 approved a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women's Rights and International Peace for member states.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

WFMU Marathon 2014: Support Free-Form Radio

Love free-form radio? Then consider supporting independent station WFMU during its annual fundraising Marathon that runs February 23 through March 9, 2014. WFMU first hit the airwaves on April 24, 1958 at the now-defunct Upsala College and has never looked back. Currently based in Jersey City, New Jersey, WFMU broadcasts at 91.1 Mhz and via a second signal at 90.1 Mhz in Mount Hope, New York. WFMU has also long been an Internet pioneer, streaming its programming 24/7 in multiple formats, including iPhone and Android. Past shows are archived at the station's website, which also features WFMU's entertaining and content-rich blog.

What is free-form radio you might ask? WFMU describes itself as follows:

WFMU's programming ranges from flat-out uncategorizable strangeness to rock and roll, experimental music, 78 RPM Records, jazz, psychedelia, hip-hop, electronica, hand-cranked wax cylinders, punk rock, gospel, exotica, R&B, radio improvisation, cooking instructions, classic radio airchecks, found sound, dopey call-in shows, interviews with obscure radio personalities and notable science-world luminaries, spoken word collages, Andrew Lloyd Webber soundtracks in languages other than English as well as country and western music.
And because the station is listener-supported, WFMU DJs have for years maintained complete autonomy and control over their own programming, which is extraordinarily eclectic. Check out the current WFMU audio smorgasbord, and see for yourself!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Mary Poppins and Pulp Fiction among Additions to 2013 National Film Registry

Established by the National Film Preservation Act of 1988, the National Film Preservation Board is an advisory body for the Librarian of Congress. The Board helps shape national film preservation planning policy, and also recommends films for the National Film Registry.

Chosen for their cultural, historic, or aesthetic significance, the Board's 25 selections for 2013 cover a wide gamut of genres and time periods, from such early films as A Virtuous Vamp and King of Jazz to such later works as Judgment at Nuremberg and The Right Stuff.  The full list is as follows:

Decasia (2002)

Pulp Fiction (1994)

Roger & Me (1989)
The Lunch Date (1989)
Bless Their Little Hearts (1984)
The Right Stuff (1983)

Brandy in the Wilderness (1969)
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1966)
Cicero March (1966)
Mary Poppins (1964)
The Hole (1962)
Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)
The Magnificent Seven (1960)

Forbidden Planet (1956)
The Quiet Man (1952)
Notes on the Port of St. Francis (1951)

Gilda (1946)
Men & Dust (1940)

Martha Graham Early Dance film (1931-44)
Midnight (1939)
Wild Boys of the Road (1933)
King of Jazz (1930)

Ella Cinders (1926)
Daughter of Dawn (1920)

A Virtuous Vamp (1919)

Further information on the Registry as well as the films themselves can be found on the Library of Congress' web site. All 500+ films selected for the Registry since 1989 can also be browsed online. In addition, the public is encouraged to make nominations for selections to the 2014 National Film Registry.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

2014 RAGBRAI Overnight Towns Announced

The eight overnight towns for the Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa XLII were announced recently at the annual Route Announcement Party: Rock Valley > Okoboji > Emmetsburg > Forest City > Mason City > Waverly > Independence > Guttenberg. The 40 pass-through towns for RAGBRAI will be announced in early March. This year's ride takes place July 20-26, 2014 and will be 418 miles in length, with 11,316 feet of total climb, making it among the shortest and flattest since RAGBRAI started in 1973.

Registration for the world's oldest, largest, and longest recreational bike touring event is currently open, with a deadline of April 1, 2014 for online applications. Lottery results will be announced May 1, 2014.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Happy Year of the Horse

马 年 快 乐 !  恭 禧 发 财 !!  Eight things you (probably) didn't know about the Year of the Horse, via the Guardian.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Rest in Peace, Pete Seeger

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself" as a MOOC

The International Writing Program (IWP) at the University of Iowa is offering a Massive Open Online Course, or MOOC, entitled "Every Atom: Walt Whitman's Song of Myself." The course is the university's inaugural MOOC, and will run from February 17 to March 29, 2014. Lead instructors will be Professors Christopher Merrill, Director of the IWP, and Ed Folsom, Co-Director of the Walt Whitman Archive and Editor-in-Chief of the Walt Whitman Quarterly Review. The course is free, and registration can be accomplished online. Information on additional courses can be found at the The Writing University's web site.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Dada Vinci Archive

The Dada Vinci Archive (DVA) is comprised of a large collection of oil paintings, works on paper, collages, letterpress printing and the book arts, photography, digital video, and works in other media. A representative sampling of new and older artworks can be seen in the DVA gallery at the Bucktown Center for the Arts, 225 East 2nd Street, Davenport, Iowa. Contact the Common Curator (commoncurator @ for further information.

From the Top

Monday, December 30, 2013

Heirloom Seeds for the New Year

The amazing 2014 Catalog from Seed Savers Exchange is now available and can be browsed online, or a copy in print can be requested free of charge.

Founded in 1975 by Diane Ott Whealy and Kent Whealy, Seed Savers Exchange is now the largest non-governmental seed bank of its kind in the United States. With over 13,000 members, SSE conserves and maintains heirloom seeds for thousands of vegetables, fruits, herbs, and flowers. Its mission is:

. . . to save North America's diverse, but endangered, garden heritage for future generations by building a network of people committed to collecting, conserving and sharing heirloom seeds and plants, while educating people about the value of genetic and cultural diversity.
Located on the 890-acre Heritage Farm in Decorah, Iowa, SSE is open to visitors from April to October, and sponsors special events such as seed starting, grafting, and gardening workshops. It also hosts an annual conference and campout. To learn more about Seed Savers Exchange and the benefits of membership, visit its website. Also of interest is the book authored by co-founder Diane Ott Whealy, Gathering: Memoir of a Seed Saver.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Wapsipinicon Almanac No. 20

The latest annual installment of the eclectic Wapsipinicon Almanac is now available. Published and letterpress printed since 1988 by Timothy Fay of Route 3 Press, the present issue, as with previous numbers, features an engaging mix of essays, reviews, fiction, poetry, art, wit and wisdom.

Number 20 can be purchased at bookstores or directly by writing the publisher at Wapsipinicon Almanac, 19948 Shooting Star Road, Anamosa, Iowa 52205. Single copies are $9, plus $2.50 for postage; Iowa residents should also include 63-cents for sales tax.

The cover shown here was designed by Terry Rathje, who also did the cover for the first almanac. A brief history of the publication can be viewed at the Almanac's website, and a video of "Linotype Operator Emeritus" Eldon Meeks in action can be viewed here.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Spike Like Ike!

Here is Dwight D. Eisenhower's recipe for bourbon-enhanced eggnog, courtesy of the National Archives' Our Presidents Tumblr. Enjoy responsibly.

Other of Eisenhower's favorite recipes, for such dishes as Old-Fashioned Beef Stew, Chili Con Carne, and 1868 Venison, can be downloaded here. Further historical information is available on the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum, and Boyhood Home website.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Jean Seberg Documentary Premieres

Movie Star: The Secret Lives of Jean Seberg, a documentary about the internationally renown actress from Marshalltown, Iowa, has just premiered at the 3rd Annual Jean Seberg International Film Festival. Besides screening several of Seberg's films, the festival sponsored a symposium that explored Seberg's legacy both as an actress and as a civil rights activist. The documentary was produced by filmmakers Kelly and Tammy Rundle of Fourth Wall Films and Garry McGee of McMarr, Ltd.

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Story of the Duck

David Lynch relates a story of a duck and its significance for painting and film-making.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Cover Crops Reduce Nitrogen Run-off, Improve Water Quality

This short video features the Smith farm in north-central Iowa, and was produced by the Iowa Farm Bureau, which is working to improve conservation practices among farmers.

For a related post, see The Boone River Watershed: Why Strip-Till and Cover Crops Matter.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Celebrating the Freedom to Read

Banned Books Week is an annual celebration of the freedom to read. It began in 1982 in response to widespread censorship of books, and since that time over 11,000 books have been challenged in communities throughout the United States.

The American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom has been documenting cases of challenged and banned books since 1990, and the ALA's Library Bill of Rights strongly supports free and unfettered access to information and ideas.

An illustration of the extent of the phenomenon is the remarkable fact that of the 88 titles featured in the Library of Congress' 2012 exhibition, Books That Shaped America, 30 have been challenged or banned at one time or another.

Friday, September 6, 2013

National Book Festival 2013

The 13th annual National Book Festival, organized and sponsored by the Library of Congress, will be held on Saturday & Sunday, September 21-22, 2013, on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The festival is free and open to the public, and will take place rain or shine.

As in prior years, President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama are honorary chairs for the event. More than 100 authors, illustrators, and poets will be making presentations throughout the day in the theme-based pavilions for Children, Teens & Children, Fiction & Mystery, History & Biography, Contemporary Life and Poetry & Prose.

Schedules are available online for the Author Pavilions and the Library of Congress Pavilion. A map of the festival grounds can be downloaded here [PDF]. The Library of Congress is also sponsoring a survey about "Books that Shaped the World," which can be completed online.

The Festival website features an archive of video webcasts and audio podcasts. The 2013 poster, shown here, was designed by Suzy Lee.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Do the Gargon

"Do the Gargon," the latest album from the inimitable Johnny Dowd and band, is now available from the Johnny Dowd website. A European tour will commence in September.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

"From One Second to the Next," a Documentary by Werner Herzog on Distracted Driving

Werner Herzog's documentary on the perils of distracted driving.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Scenes from Heritage Farm at Seed Savers Exchange

The above photographs were taken at Heritage Farm in Decorah, Iowa during the 33rd Annual Conference and Campout at Seed Savers Exchange.

From the top: View from the Trial and Diversity Gardens; View of the Main Stage, with Lillian Goldman Visitors Center; Barn, with Diane's Garden; Livestock Warning Sign; Detail of a Life-sized Painting by Valerie Miller of Steel Cow Studio; and Painted Tongue flowers.