Thursday, January 31, 2019

The National Film Registry Hits 750 Films

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 2018 cover a wide gamut of genres and time periods, from such early films as Something Good--Negro Kiss and The Girl Without a Soul to such later works as The Shining and Smoke Signals. The full list for 2018 is as follows:


Brokeback Mountain (2005)


Smoke Signals (1998)
Eve's Bayou (1997)
Jurassic Park (1993)                

Broadcast News (1987)
Hairpiece: A Film for Nappy-Headed People (1984)
The Shining (1980)

Hearts and Minds (1974)     
Monterey Pop (1968)
My Fair Lady (1964)
Hud (1963)
Days of Wine and Roses (1962)
One-Eyed Jacks (1961)

Bad Day at Black Rock (1955)
Pickup on South Street (1953)
Cinderella (1950)

On the Town (1949)
The Lady from Shanghai (1947)
Leave Her to Heaven (1945)
Rebecca (1940)

The Informer (1935)                       


The Navigator (1924)                   

The Girl Without a Soul (1917)         


Dixon-Wanamaker Expedition to Crow Agency (1908)   

Something Good--Negro Kiss (1898)    

Further information on the Registry as well as the films themselves can be found on the Library of Congress' web site. All 750 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.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

The Spirit That Moves Us Press: Morty Sklar

For those who may not know, the poet and publisher, Morty Sklar [1935-2018], died at the end of December 2018 in Jackson Heights, Queens. Morty had ridden his motorcycle out to Iowa City circa 1971, and ended up staying until 1989, when he moved back to New York City. The Common Curator met him in 1988 at a rooming house, where Morty happened to be the resident manager (the property, incidentally, was owned by W.P. Kinsella, author of Shoeless Joe, which became The Field of Dreams phenomenon). Morty was a true character, with a bottomless reservoir of stories and anecdotes, all conveyed with a pronounced New York accent that was never tempered in the slightest by nearly two decades of Iowa living. 

Morty operated The Spirit That Moves Us Press out of his then-quarters in the house, and a key element of his enterprise was a large, archaic IBM composing machine with which he electronically typeset all his books. His most notable publication was no doubt Jaroslav Seifert's The Casting of Bells (1983). In the following year Seifert won the Nobel Prize for Literature, yet was not then widely known in literary circles outside his native Czechoslavakia. Needless to say, after the prize was announced, journalists and critics from across the U.S. and abroad were scrambling to find copies of Seifert's work in English translation, and inundated Morty with book orders. Unfortunately, according to Morty's recounting, he had recently moved, and the phone company had messed up his call-forwarding request, hence he lost many potential sales as well as a good portion of once-in-a-lifetime publicity. Such are the travails of small presses! 

The Spirit That Moves Us magazine was the first thing Morty published, in 1975, and he went on to issue a number of books of poetry, fiction & essays, including: The Actualist Anthology; Nuke-Rebuke; Editor's Choice (a series); Patchwork of Dreams: Voices from the Heart of the New America; and similar collections. In addition, he published volumes by individual poets, including Seifert (several titles), local Chuck Miller, and others. His own poetry, The Smell of Life: Poems 1969-2005, was also published under the TSTMUP imprint. Morty's final book was The Ultimate Actualist Convention: A Detailed View of Iowa City Actualism in the 1970s & 1980s and Its Migration to the San Francisco Bay Area, which came out in 2017.

The Common Curator last saw Morty in the late 1990's/early 2000's at the annual Small Press Fair held in Manhattan, where they both periodically exhibited their wares after leaving Iowa. There's a lot more that could be related, of course, and for those who are interested, below are compiled various resources that touch on Morty's life and career as an author, editor, and small press publisher. He was still giving readings as of last summer, and video of that and other things can be found at his YouTube channel

Morty was always a New Yorker through and through, but it seemed that he nevertheless found Iowa to be fertile ground for his fertile mind, and that in the end he gave as much to the City of Literature as he harvested.

May the Spirit Move Us All in 2019!

   *  *  *  *

-- Obituary [Iowa City Press-Citizen, January 1, 2019]

-- The Spirit That Moves Us Press [established circa 1975]

-- YouTube Channel [including readings and miscellanea]

-- The Reminiscences of Morty Sklar [Phoenix House Foundation Oral History Project, Columbia University, September 25, 2014]

-- Poet & Writers Biography

-- Poetry City Actualized: A Look Back at the Birth of an Iowa City-based Literary Movement [Little Village, January 9, 2015]

-- Vibrant Tales In Small Book On Queens [New York Times article about the anthology, Patchwork of Dreams, December 7, 1996]

-- Little-Known in U.S., Nobel Poet Praised Here [New York Times article about Jaroslav Seifert, whom Sklar published the year prior, October 12, 1984]

. . . ''The Casting of Bells,'' a 64-page collection translated by Tom O'Grady and Paul Jagasich, and published in August 1983 by The Spirit That Moves Us Press in Iowa City, Iowa. Morty Sklar, who described himself yesterday as ''publisher, editor, typesetter and stamp licker'' of the press, said his is a small, independent press that publishes two books a year. He published 1,000 copies of the Seifert book, but yesterday, upon hearing the news from Sweden, he reordered 2,500 more. It is available in paperback for $6.