About Jim Stovall

Jim Stovall, a retired journalism prof, is now a novelist, self publisher, watercolorist, gardener, woodworker and beekeeper -- among others things.
Author Archive | Jim Stovall
William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare and the development of the English language

The Bard is not highly popular with college students these days. In fact, he has rarely been popular, although his genius is universally recognized. As a student, you might go to one of his plays (because it’s required or you’re getting extra credit), but you’d rather be buried in a toxic waste dump than be […]

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Point Spread by Jim Stovall

‘The Feminine Mystique’ and the change in women’s status in the 1960s

The book summed up many of the frustrations that middle-class women had experienced, especially if they had set aside ambitions and careers to become suburban housewives and mothers. From the day it was published, it sparked criticism from many quarters (and continues to do so today), but it struck a chord with many women and […]

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Grantland Rice's illusion to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse even made it onto a postage stamp.

The lost eloquence of the sports page

The “Four Horsemen” became part of the legend of Notre Dame football, and publicists at the University placed the four footballers on four horses for a famous photograph. And that photograph was turned into a postage stamp more than 50 years later.

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Teddy Roosevelt: "I am DEE-lighted."

A new source for Shakespeare; etymology for everyone; nutritious foods; more crimes against English

Life is not all sitting around reading and writing blog posts and painting watercolors. Sometimes there is real, hard physical labor involved. That’s what

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WilliamShakespeare-3

Inspiration for a genius: recent discovery of a book that Shakespeare may have used for his writing

Because Leonardo da Vinci kept a vast quantity of journals, we have a good idea about how his mind worked, what he was thinking about, and what he saw. With William Shakespeare, we have no such record. And William Shakespear is the reason we have the English language as it is today.

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highhand

The world’s most nutritious foods: relax, you’re probably eating some of them

I don’t usually venture into the realms of food and its preparation (above my pay grade, I am told), but I thought this was interesting. On the British Broadcasting Corporation site a couple of weeks ago was a listing of the 100 most nutritious foods based on research done by scientists and compiled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The listing […]

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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

The purpose of great literature: to make people comfortable

That’s what school officials in Duluth, Minnesota (and a few other places, unfortunately) would have you believe. The school system in Duluth is the latest to remove To Kill a Mockingbird and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn from the required reading list for ninth graders. The reason they give: the language used in these books […]

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Happy birthday, Mr. Lincoln!

Happy birthday, Mr. Lincoln

I tried to construct a portrait that was fairly close to realistic and without too much distortion for my birthday tribute to Mr. Lincoln. But the body, of course, is very much in the caricature mode.

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Cades Cove Sunday morning - 1

Leonardo’s journals; eyewitness to the biggest event of the first century; football art and the First Amendment; newsletter Feb. 9, 2018

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (3,317) on Friday, Feb. 9, 2018. Hi,  This has been The Week of Interesting Things for me. Most of my weeks could take that moniker, but this one seemed especially full. I try to put a lot of interesting things I find into the newsletter, but I […]

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Ursula Le Guin

Ursula K. Le Guin on Art, Storytelling, and the Power of Language to Transform and Redeem – Brain Pickings

Maria Popova, the brain behind BrainPickings.com — a newsletter you should subscribe to — has written another tribute to the ideas of the late science fiction novelist, Ursula Le Guin. Le Guin, as Popova points out, has important things to say about the function of storytelling. Here is part of it: “People wish to be […]

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Teddy Roosevelt: "I am DEE-lighted."

Jim’s newsletter: Under the hood

My assumption about newsletter readers is that they are intelligent individuals, they are readers of good books, and they people who can handle the occasional challenge of learning something new.  Most of all, my assumption about newsletter readers is that they are my friends, even though I have not met all of them personally.

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Leonardo's drawings of cats

Leonardo’s journals: A large window into the mind of a genius

The mind of Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) still fascinates observers even after 500 years. He was interested in so many things, and he observed the world with the mind and attitude of a scientist, mechanic, inventor, naturalist, and philosopher. He was also a writer. And an artist, of course. We know about Leonardo’s mind because […]

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ten-lost-letters-in-English

10 letters lost from the alphabet: the video

Austin McConnell has put together this fun video about the symbols that were once part of the English alphabet but that we no longer use.

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Cades Cove Sunday morning - 3

Testing the palette: One subject, three paintings

Painting a subject more than one, especially within a short span of time, is not my usual thing. But this was different. I wanted to test out three color approaches, and I wanted to do it with a landscape that would not be too difficult to render. So here’s the result:

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Pencil sketch of Daniel Moore's latest national championship painting

Artist Daniel Moore announces latest national championship painting

Moore discovered a gold mine for his artwork in 1979 when he produced “The Goal Line Stand,” a photo-realistic oil painting of the moments when Alabama prevented Penn State from scoring in the Sugar Bowl.

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Pliny the Younger

Eyewitness to Vesuvius: Pliny the Younger and reporting the event of the century

The mountain exploded in August 79 AD. The ensuing lava flow engulfed two entire cities (Herculaneum and Pompeii) and smothered a third, Stabiae, with poisonous gas. The darkness that the clouds of dust and smoke created was, in the ones of an eyewitness, “. . . not the dark of a moonless or cloudy night, […]

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Another painting giveaway; Amazon gift cards; Pliny the Younger, Rome’s great eyewitness reporter; newsletter, Feb. 2, 2018

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (4,222) on Friday, February 2, 2018. Hi, I watched a super moon, a blood moon, and a lunar eclipse this week. Not as spectacular as the solar eclipse we saw last summer but still pretty phenomenal. Nature has its moments — many of them, in fact, if we would […]

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Pliny the Younger

Pliny the Younger: a top-notch Roman journalist, Part 1: An insight into the early Christian community

Pliny the Younger is never listed as a journalist, but he should be. This extraordinary Roman (he lived from 61 to about 113 A.D.) was a lawyer, politician, author, poet, and government official whose stated goal was to be famous and to be remembered. He was, indeed, all of those things. We would remember Pliny […]

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Ursula Le Guin

The passing of writer Ursula K. Le Guin sparks an important reconsideration of her work

Whatever she was, she had a special talent for keeping readers in her grip, for making them see what they had never seen before, and for making them think about what she had written long after they had finished reading.

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girl reading

A pointed, provocative post: Why You Should Stop Reading News by Shane Parrish

Parrish wisely makes the distinction between “news creators” and “journalists.” News creators simply want to gain your attention and hold it for as long as possible. He doesn’t spell it out, but I assume that in his view journalists report information that adds value to your life.

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