Archives: journalism

Frederick Taylor Gates, farsighted philanthopist

October 25, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism.

John D. Rockefeller had already been asked — several times — if he would make a contribution to begin a great Baptist university in the Midwest, and he had declined. But he had never been asked by Frederick Taylor Gates. It was a spring morning in 1889 when Gates met with Rockefeller at the magnate’s • Read More »

Baroque composers: Antonio Vivaldi

October 22, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism.

The names that dominate Baroque music (readers will know that this is one of my favorite genres) are all male: Johann Sebastian Bach, George Frederick Handel, Antonio Vivaldi, Georg Phillipp Telemann, etc. But not every composer in that genre or era (1600-1750) was male. Not by a long shot. This is post is part a • Read More »

A violin on the Grand Canal

October 18, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism.

This item cheered me up about as much as anything that has happened lately. Earlier this month, a giant violin set sail from a workshop and Venice and floated up the Grand Canal carrying a string quartet that played a selection of music of various composers including the revered Antonio Vivaldi. The idea was that • Read More »

Oleg Gordievsky: The message was clear; the listeners just didn’t get it (part 1)

October 8, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, journalism, writers, writing.

In 1985 Oleg Gordievsky, a colonel in the KGB, was less than 24 hours from launching into a plan that would spirit him out of the Soviet Union and into asylum in the West. For years, Gordievsky had been Western intelligence service’s chief asset within the Soviet hierarchy. Within that hierarchy, he had a reputation • Read More »

St. Louis: stories and scandals; beer and baseball

October 8, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism.

Every city, large or small, produces its stories and scandals. Some do better at that than others. St. Louis is one of those cities that is above average in this regard. St. Louis, near the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, started out in the 18th century as a place where professional trappers would • Read More »

Banned Books Week

October 5, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, journalism.

Banned Books Week was last week (Sept. 26 – Oct. 1), but that’s no reason to stop the observance at just five days. The banning of books is a problem every day of the year in America and elsewhere, and the problem should not slide back under the carpet. The official BannedBooksWeek.org website says this: • Read More »

The bandsaw box

September 10, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism.

The bandsaw box offers woodworkers a project that begins with a basic simplicity of design and procedure and then offers the woodworker a wide range of creative possibilities. The bandsaw box begins with a slab of wood. It can be a single piece or different pieces of wood glued together. Then. with a series of • Read More »

Ray Bradbury and his typewriter, Ian Rankin and William McIlvanney, nicknames for sports teams, and more: newsletter, September 3, 2021

September 5, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, journalism, newsletter, reporters, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,290) on Friday, September 3, 2021. During the past few weeks, I have devoted my considerable intellectual resources to solving one of the nation’s most intractable problems. I am, of course, talking about the nicknames given to sports teams. A solution to this vexing dilemma • Read More »

Courage and treachery during World War II

August 30, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism.

World War II continues as a touchstone of our thinking about such concepts as courage and treachery, even though the war ended 76 years ago. Two recently published books that I have encountered (but have not had a chance to read) demonstrate that. One is a tale of courage of heroic proportions. The second is • Read More »

Alex Haley and the roots of modern genealogy (part 2)

August 27, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism.

During the mid 1970s and before, genealogy was a pretty hard slog, not to mention a lonely one. The few people who took an interest in researching their family’s history found that family stories didn’t square with the facts (they rarely do), family records often did not go beyond a few entries in the family • Read More »

Abraham Lincoln, mystery writer

August 24, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism, writers, writing.

One of the things we know about Abraham Lincoln is that he could tell a good story. He was famous for that. But could he write one? He tried that once, and what he wrote was interesting, if not completely compelling. Before he was elected president in 1860, Lincoln was a lawyer in Springfield, Illinois, • Read More »

Jeeves: P. G. Wodehouse’s enduring character

August 23, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, journalism, writers.

Jeeves, the omniscient valet of P. G. Wodehouse’s Bertie Wooster stories, began life in the author’s mind as a one-off character. He appeared in a 1915 story titled “Extricating Young Gussie” and was supposed to have only two lines: “Mrs. Gregson to see you, sir,” and  “Very good, sir. Which suit will you wear?”  Had • Read More »

Lytton Strachey blazes a new trail in writing biography

August 16, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, journalism, writers, writing.

If you tried to read a biography during the late 19th or early 20th century, chances are it was pretty rough going and very possibly not very enlightening. Biographies during that time adhered to strict Victorian standards of propriety and subservience to the rich and famous. The good qualities and achievements of the subject were • Read More »

Hugh Edwards – two Gold Medals in one hour

August 15, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism.

Hugh Edwards loved two things in life: rowing and flying. One nearly got him killed, but the other probably saved his life. Edwards went to Oxford at the age of 19 in 1925 and discovered rowing. He was a big guy—  bigger than the average rower—and that earned him the nickname of Jumbo. As a • Read More »