Billy Joel to Receive Gershwin Prize for Popular Song

In the mood for a melody? The Library of Congress will honor the original “Piano Man” with the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song in Washington. James H. Billington, Librarian of Congress, announced on Tuesday that musician Billy Joel will  join past recipients including Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder and Sir Paul McCartney. “Importantly, as with any good storyteller, the recognition experienced in a Billy Joel song is not simply because these are songs we have heard so many times, but because we …

Happy 110th Birthday Bob Hope!

For most of us, Bob Hope was that kinda creaky guy who did awkward old-timey standup comedy while people like Steve Martin and Richard Pryor were changing the world. But Bob Hope was, in his prime, a master of timing and the fastest ad-libber in the West. He would have been 110 on May 29 – of course who could complain, since he lived to be 100. To celebrate his life I’ve dug up two vintage episodes of my Movies …

The Government Compound Where Robots Watch TV

I recently ventured into the hollowed-out Virginia mountain where the Library of Congress keeps copies of every movie, TV show, and sound recording that’s submitted for copyright. Officially, it’s called the the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center. I call it Heaven. Here are stored, in specially built vaults, the highly explosive nitrate prints of films made prior to the 1950s…historic videotapes, including the first-ever color broadcast…vinyl and shellac discs dating back to the days of Edison… and in a lead-lined vault …