Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Librarian of Congress Confirmation Hearing

Dr. Carla Hayden is shown here on April 20, 2016 delivering her opening statement at the Senate confirmation hearing on her nomination to become Librarian of Congress. The entirety of the hearing can be viewed via C-Span. Hayden was nominated to become the 14th Librarian of Congress by President Obama on February 24, 2016.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest

Entries are now being accepted for the 2016 National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest. Begun in 2005 by the Fine Books & Collections magazine for young bibliophiles, the competition is now jointly sponsored by the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America, the Fellowship of American Bibliophilic Societies, as well as the Center for the Book and the Rare Books and Special Collections Division of the Library of Congress.

A number of contests are currently held at colleges and universities around the U.S., with Swarthmore College's competition being the first in the 1920s. College-level students from all educational institutions, however, are encouraged to participate. Entries for this year's competition are due by May 31, 2016. Contest rules and further information are available at the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America website. Winners of the last several years can be viewed here: 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, and 2010.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Mahler's Symphony No. 9 and Coltrane's A Love Supreme among Latest Entries to the National Recording Registry

In the fourteenth year of the National Recording Registry, Acting Librarian of Congress David S. Mao has announced 25 sound recordings as the official entries for 2015, stating: "These recordings, by a wide range of artists in many genres of music and in spoken word, will be preserved for future listeners. This collection of blues, jazz, rock, country and classical recordings, interspersed with important recordings of sporting events, speeches, radio shows and comedy, helps safeguard the record of what we've done and who we are."

Under the National Recording Preservation Act of 2000, selected recordings must be "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" and at least ten years old.

Spanning the years 1911-1986, the selections for 2015 are as follows:
  1. Let Me Call You Sweetheart—Columbia Quartette (The Peerless Quartet) (1911)
  2. Wild Cat Blues—Clarence Williams' Blue Five (1923)
  3. Statesboro Blues—Blind Willie McTell (1928)
  4. Bonaparte's Retreat—W.H. Stepp (1937)
  5. Vic and Sade—Episode: Decoration Day (June 4, 1937)
  6. Mahler Symphony No. 9—Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Bruno Walter (1938)
  7. Carousel of American Music—George M. Cohan, Irving Berlin, Johnny Mercer, Arthur Freed, Shelton Brooks, Hoagy Carmichael, others (Sept. 24, 1940)
  8. The Marshall Plan Speech—George C. Marshall (June 5, 1947)
  9. Destination Freedom—Episodes: A Garage in Gainesville and  Execution Awaited (Sept. 25 and Oct. 2, 1949)
  10. Original Soundtrack from A Streetcar Named Desire—Alex North, composer (1951)
  11. Cry Me A River—Julie London (1955)
  12. Mack the Knife (singles)—Louis Armstrong (1956); Bobby Darin (1959)
  13.  Wilt Chamberlain's 100-Point Game, Fourth-Quarter Coverage (Philadelphia Warriors vs. New York Knicks)—Bill Campbell, announcer (March 2, 1962)
  14. A Love Supreme—John Coltrane (1964)
  15. It's My Way—Buffy Sainte-Marie (1964) (album)
  16. Where Did Our Love Go (single)—The Supremes (1964)
  17. People Get Ready (single)—The Impressions (1965)
  18. Mama Tried (single)—Merle Haggard (1968)
  19. Abraxas—Santana (1970)
  20. Class Clown—George Carlin (1972)        
  21. Robert and Clara Schumann Complete Piano Trios—The Beaux Arts Trio (1972)
  22. Piano Man (single)—Billy Joel (1973)
  23. Bogalusa Boogie—Clifton Chenier (1976)
  24. I Will Survive (single)—Gloria Gaynor (1978)
  25. Master of Puppets—Metallica (1986)
The full National Recording Registry currently numbers 450 recordings, and can be viewed here. The Registry solicits nominations annually for inclusion on the registry; further information on the criteria and procedures for making nominations for 2016 is available at the Registry website

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Sunshine Week 2016

March 13-19, 2016 marks Sunshine Week, an annual event which serves to raise awareness of the need for transparent and open government at all levels. Freedom of Information Day is also being observed on March 16, 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.
Sunshine laws such 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.
On March 15, 2016, the U.S. Senate passed Senate Bill 337 which contains a set of amendments to FOIA that would create a specific presumption of openness as well as other enhancements to government access if signed into law by the President. Further details can be found at the Fix FOIA by 50 Clearinghouse. The need for updates to FOIA is well illustrated by the Electronic Frontier Foundation's compilation of "the worst government responses to public records requests" during the last year.

For further information, the following resources may be of interest: The National Freedom of Information Coalition; The National Security Archive; The Center for Effective Government; The American Civil Liberties Union; The Electronic Frontier Foundation; and, for news of international freedom of information advocacy, FreedomInfo.org.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

International Women's Day: Step It Up for Gender Equality



March 8th marks the 105th anniversary of International Women's Day. The United Nations' theme for International Women's Day 2016 is "Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality." 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.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

WFMU Marathon 2016

Love free-form radio? Then consider supporting independent station WFMU during its annual fundraising Marathon that runs March 6 through March 20, 2016. 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, as is ten year's of the station's Beware of the 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!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Grant Wood at 125

Today is the 125th anniversary of the birth of artist Grant Wood [1891-1942]. Pictured above is the house in Eldon, Iowa that is portrayed in the background of his most famous painting, American Gothic. An iconic work that has been parodied countless times since its execution in 1930, Wood based the taciturn farm couple on his own sister and dentist. The painting won a bronze medal in a competition sponsored by the Art Institute of Chicago, where it has remained as part of their permanent collection.

Further information on Grant Wood can be found in previous Common Curator posts: Grant Wood Sketchbook Returns to Figge Art Museum and 120th Anniversary of Grant Wood's Birth.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Happy Year of the Monkey / 猴 年 快 樂 !

A Chinese street performer and his costumed monkey are putting on a show for an appreciative crowd. This photograph was taken by the Common Curator during travels in the People's Republic of China.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

RAGBRAI 2016 Overnight Towns Announced

The eight overnight towns for RAGBRAI XLIV, the Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, were just revealed at the annual Route Announcement Party: Glenwood > Shenandoah > Creston > Leon > Centerville > Ottumwa > Washington > Muscatine. As has been the case since the inaugural ride in 1973, the ride begins at the Missouri River and ends at the Mississippi River.

This year's seven-day ride takes place July 23-30, 2016, and will be 420 miles in length with 18,488 feet of total climb, making it the 3rd shortest and 24th flattest route since RAGBRAI began. Registration for the world's oldest, largest, and longest recreational bike touring event is currently open, with a deadline of April 1, 2016 for online applications. Lottery results will be announced May 1, 2016.

Monday, January 11, 2016

R.I.P. David Bowie

The incomparable David Bowie [1947-2016] is shown above performing on December 8, 1983 at the Hong Kong Coliseum during the final concert of his Serious Moonlight world tour. The concert featured songs from his recently released album, Let's Dance, including of course the local favorite, "China Girl." As the concert happened to fall on the third anniversary of John Lennon's death, Bowie also sang Lennon's "Imagine," prefacing his moving tribute by observing that it was in Hong Kong that he had last seen his friend, with whom in 1975 he had famously co-written (along with Carlos Alomar) his first American No. 1 hit, "Fame." (Note: The photo here was taken from a balcony seat by the Common Curator with a 50mm lens and 800 ASA film, hence the graininess.)

Friday, January 1, 2016

The Year Ahead: Tempus Fugit


Thursday, December 31, 2015

Wikipedia: #Edit2015


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

National Film Registry Selects 25 Films for 2015

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 annual selections for 2015 cover a wide gamut of genres and time periods, from such early films as Edison's Kinetoscopic Record of a Sneeze and Dream of a Rarebit Fiend to such later works as Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One and The Shawshank Redemption. The full list for 2015 is as follows:

1990s
L.A. Confidential (1997)
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Sink or Swim (1990)

1980s
Top Gun (1986)
Ghostbusters (1984)

1970s
Being There (1979)
Eadweard Muybridge, Zoopraxographer (1975)

1960s
The Inner World of Aphasia (1968)
Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One (1968)
Portrait of Jason (1967)
Seconds (1966)

1950s
Imitation of Life (1959)
Winchester '73 (1950)

1940s
John Henry and the Inky-Poo (1946)
The Story of Menstruation (1946)
Hail the Conquering Hero (1944)

1930s 
The Old Mill (1937)
Our Daily Bread (1934)
Dracula (Spanish version) (1931)

1920s
Black and Tan (1929)
Humoresque (1920)
The Mark of Zorro (1920)

1910s
A Fool There Was (1915)

1900s
Dream of a Rarebit Fiend (1906)

1890s
Edison Kinetoscopic Record of a Sneeze (1894)

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 next year's selections to the National Film Registry.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Wapsipinicon Almanac No. 22

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 22 can be purchased at bookstores and other establishments or by writing the publisher directly at Wapsipinicon Almanac, 19948 Shooting Star Road, Anamosa, Iowa 52205. Single copies are $9, plus $2.70 for postage; Iowa residents should also include 63-cents for sales tax.

The front cover shown here was designed by Thomas Agran of Iowa City. 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.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Jackson Pollock's "Mural": The Story of a Modern Masterpiece



The new documentary, "Jackson Pollock's "Mural": The Story of a Modern Masterpiece," was directed and produced by Kevin Kelley, and premiered earlier this fall in Iowa City. Pollock's largest and arguably best work, "Mural" has been owned by the University of Iowa since it was donated by Peggy Guggenheim in October 1951.

Rescued in 2008 from encroaching floodwaters along with countless other artworks from the UI's Museum of Art, the painting later underwent intensive analysis and conservation treatment beginning in 2012 courtesy of the Getty Conservation Institute. The Getty's research was published in the book, Jackson Pollock's Mural: The Transitional Moment, which serves as the basis for much in Kelley's documentary.

For further information, including details on upcoming screenings, visit the documentary's website. A previous Common Curator post may also be of interest: The Value of Jackson Pollock's "Mural".