This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,845) on Friday, February 17, 2023.
Ever since the Super Bowl ended, nearly a week ago, we have been treated to an endless number of stories about what happened during the last few minutes of the game and how a referee’s questionable call might have changed the outcome. The last few moments of a sporting event in which the score is close and the game could go either way make for good drama.
But I often think when this type of thing occurs, our concentration on the last of the game is misplaced. The Philadelphia Eagles, in this case, did not lose the game in the last few moments. Neither did the Kansas City Chiefs win it during that time.
The Eagles had a 10-point lead at halftime. During the second half, not during the last few minutes, they played in a way that allowed their opponents to put themselves in a position to win. That’s when the game was lost, not during the last few minutes. The Eagles probably should have won the game. They did not—not because of a referee’s call, but because of the way they and their opponents played throughout the entire game.
The entire game is what’s important. Not the last few minutes.
Meanwhile, have a great and literate weekend.
Under the newsletter’s hood: Last week’s newsletter was sent to 2,862 subscribers and had a 38.4 percent open rate; 17 persons unsubscribed.
Important: Remember to open the images or click on one of the links so that my email service will record your engagement, and you will stay active on the list. Thanks.
Burt Bacharach, RIP
The reach and influence of Burt Bacharach’s music in the last half of the 20th century was immeasurable and unmatched. Bacharach wrote songs that you could easily hear and listen to. They were songs that expressed feelings that you had felt. They were often open to literary and musical interpretation, and the number of artists who recorded his music was enormous.
Bacharach died at the age of 94 earlier this month.
Stephen Holden, writing his obituary for the New York Times, said:
Because of the high gloss and apolitical stance of the songs Mr. Bacharach wrote with his most frequent collaborator, the lyricist Hal David, during an era of confrontation and social upheaval, they were often dismissed as little more than background music by listeners who preferred the hard edge of rock or the intimacy of the singer-songwriter genre. But in hindsight, the Bacharach-David team ranks high in the pantheon of pop songwriting.
If you watch any of the compilations of Bacharach’s music on YouTube, you will undoubtedly be surprised at some of the songs that you didn’t know were his.
First Amendment videos
About a decade ago, video cameras and video editing software were finally coming down close to my level of competence, and I began to try my hand at shooting and editing. One of my first projects was an interview with a good friend and faculty colleague at the University of Tennessee. He was Dwight Teeter (now, sadly, deceased), who was one of the leading First Amendment historians and scholars.
This is the final of five First Amendment videos that we have re-published during the last few weeks: The state of the First Amendment today.
The First Amendment remains one of the most important parts of the U.S. Constitution in that it describes and encases into the chief legal document of America many of the vital parts of American life. Journalism professor and legal scholar Dwight Teeter says that the health of the First Amendment is in constant jeopardy.”
The Prolific Reader. Kill the Quarterback is listed there along with some other great mysteries. https://theprolificreader.com/mystery”
From the archives: A member of the Dutch resistance and an assassin—at 14 years old
The world weighed in on Freddie Oversteegen when she was barely a teenager. Freddie, along with her sister, Truus, and a friend, Hannie Schaft, fought back against that world.
It was the world that Nazi Germany imposed on the Netherlands when it invaded and brutally opposed that country in 1940.
The girls began engaging in minor anti-Nazi activities—reporting on troop movements and pasting up posters—when they came to the attention of the Dutch resistance. They were invited to join and up the level of their activities.
According to the New York Times:
The three staged drive-by shootings from their bicycles; seductively lured German soldiers from bars to nearby woods, where they would execute them; and sheltered fleeing Jews, political dissidents, gay people and others who were being hunted by the invaders.
It was serious business—and, of course, dangerous. Just before their country was liberated in 1945, Hannie was arrested, tortured, and executed by the Nazis. The sisters survived.
Truus married a fellow resistance fighter and became a sculptor and painter. She wrote a memoir of her experiences, Not Then, Not Now, Not Ever, (which, unfortunately, is out of print in English at present) and died in 2016.
Freddie also married after the war but never sought or received much attention for what she had done.
The Dutch government was slow to recognize and honor the girls because of their affiliation with Communist-leaning organizations before the war. Finally, in 1982, a sculpture of Hannie Schaft by her friend Truus was unveiled by Princess Juliana in Haarlem (pictured here). Truus and Freddie were honored by the Dutch government with the Mobilization War Cross. Freddie died earlier this month; here’s her obituary in the New York Times: Freddie Oversteegen, Gritty Dutch Resistance Fighter, Dies at 92 – The New York Times
The story of Freddie, her sister, and her friend should be remembered and retold.
See also Kathryn J. Atwood’s book “Women Heroes of World War II: 26 Stories of Espionage, Sabotage, Resistance, and Rescue” (2011).
Women With Words: nearing publication
A good part of last week was spent getting my latest book, Women With Words: Female Journalists and Writers, Heads and Tales Volume 2, ready for publication on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other platforms.
This is the second compilation of articles and caricatures, many of which originally appeared in this newsletter. (Valuable hint: It would make a great present for your friends who are literary-minded.) The first volume of the series Heads and Tales is, of course, available on Amazon.
I am working to make the book available around the first of March.
Here is the blurb about it that you will see when it goes live:
The women in this volume of the Heads and Tales series have a way with words. They are remarkable women, all with remarkable and sometimes extraordinary stories.
Jim Stovall, in this volume, brings us his unique journalistic and artistic vision of women whose writings and lives were always notable, sometimes notorious, and occasionally astonishing. Some of these women, such as Louisa May Alcott, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Eleanor Roosevelt, you will have heard of or read. Others will have receded—often unfairly—into the mists of history.
What you will find here about each of these women is something new—some part of their story that you had never known.
Louisa May Alcott, famously the author of Little Women, was also A.M. Bernard, author of what was in her time known as the “blood and thunder” novel, the gothic sensationalism that many readers of her day craved. Such writing put food on her family’s table.
Aphra Behn, possibly the first female writer in English to make her living as a writer, was not only a popular playwright but also a spy for King Charles I.
Anne Brontë, the least well known of the Brontë sisters, wrote the most shocking and forward-looking feminist novel of them all—a novel that sister Charlotte hardily disapproved of.
Rachel Harding Davis, mother of the famous journalist and early 20th century heart-throb Richard Harding Davis, supported her family by writing some of the first American realism stories—decades before her male counterparts in the realism school took up their pens.
And we haven’t even gotten to page 25 yet.
There are many more such stories: the first female presidential candidate (far earlier than you might think); the first American detective novelist; the first voice from the White House that Americans heard after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The list goes on and on.
And then there are the caricatures. These drawings by the author himself add insight and entertainment to this unique and powerful collection.
In addition to those women mentioned above, discover the stories of Helen Gurley Brown, Maxine Cheshire, Mary Mapes Dodge, Mary Anne Evans (George Elliot), Wanda Gág, Martha Gellhorn, Susan Glaspell, Anna Katharine Green, Angelina Grimké and Sarah Grimké (and their collaborator Theodore Weld), Fannie Lou Hamer, Lillian Hellman, Mary McCarthy, Marguerite Higgins, Emma Lazarus, Caroline Norton, Helen Kirkpatrick, Anne Ratcliffe, Catherine Parr, Mary Seacole, Elizabeth Cochran Seaman (Nellie Bly), Ida Tarbell, Dorothy Thompson, Mercy Otis Warren, Victoria Woodhull, and Mary King Ward.
Read and be entertained and delighted.
Group giveaways for February
Kill the Quarterback and Murder Most Criminous are part of several group giveaways during the month of February:
Each of these giveaways includes more than 20 books of various sub-genres. You can download any or all of them in exchange for your email address. The email address will be shared among all authors participating in the giveaway. The purpose of these giveaways is to get books into the hands of readers and to increase email lists for the authors.
Finally . . .
This week’s watercolor: Mountain stream
Best quote of the week:
I believe that the first test of a truly great man is his humility. I do not mean by humility, doubt of his own powers. But really great men have a curious feeling that the greatness is not in them, but through them. And they see something divine in every other man and are endlessly, foolishly, incredibly merciful. John Ruskin, author, art critic, and social reformer (1819-1900)
If you are looking for a quiet, meditative, non-theological but scriptural podcast to start or close your day, try pray-as-you-go.org. The podcasts are 10-12 minutes long, and they feature beautiful music, a scripture reading, and a very short devotional. It’s a great respite from an otherwise all-too-noisy world.
If you are interested in reading scripture, either the Old Testament, the New Testament, or both, you might be interested in the videos, commentary, and podcast of the BibleProject.com. The people who work on this site have done some deep and thoughtful reading of the Bible, and the videos they have produced (generally shorter than 10 minutes) are both entertaining and enlightening. They view the Bible as a single entity with a single purpose, and their approach is both delightful and refreshing.
Helping those in need
Fires in California, freezing weather in Texas, hurricanes on the Atlantic Coast, tornados in Tennessee, and now coronavirus — disasters occur everywhere. They have spread untold misery and disruption. The people affected by them need our help.
It’s not complicated. Things happen to people, and we should be ready to do all the good we can in all of the ways we can. (Some will recognize that I am paraphrasing John Wesley here).
When is the last time you gave to your favorite charity? The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR.org) is my favorite charity. Please make a contribution to this one or to yours.
Keep reading, keep writing (especially to me), and have a great weekend.
His Amazon author page is where you can find more information about his books.
Last week’s newsletter: Feisty librarians and female baseball players, Robert Harris, and the American mystery writer who predated Agatha Christie:newsletter, February 10, 2023
Get a FREE copy of Kill the Quarterback
Get a free digital copy of Jim Stovall's mystery novel, Kill the Quarterback. You will also get Jim's newsletter and advanced notice of publications, free downloads and a variety of information about what he is working on. Jim likes to stay in touch, so sign up today.