Sharpen Up!

Read this and be the smartest person in the room--or the Zoom--for the month of June.

By J.C. Bruce

Yes, It's June, Which Means ...


Hurricane Season Has Officially Begun

With the worldwide readership the newsletter enjoys, I realize this may not be as big a deal to many of you as it is for me, living as I do in the actual tropics.

Hurricane season begins today, which also marks the beginning of the annual stampede to the hardware and grocery stores for plywood and bottled water as panicked Floridians prepare for the annual threat of The Big One.

Local TV stations have ginned-up this frenzy by running stories with terrifying lead-ins such as: Cape Coral is due for a tsunami -- are you ready? Electric generators are flying out of the warehouses. State government has declared a special "2022 Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday" to stock up on emergency supplies like bourbon, Bud Light, chips, and other hurricane party essentials.

There is some good news: The snowbirds have flocked back to their igloos up north, so restaurants and beaches are no longer jam-packed here in Naples, and the streets are so denuded of tourist traffic you could fire a cannon down the Tamiami Trail and not hit a single Rolls Royce.

Which is just a thought experiment, folks, not an actual idea, so put your artillery away.

Fun Fact: This year's hurricane names start off with these:

  1. Alex
  2. Bonnie
  3. Colin
  4. Danielle
  5. Earl
  6. Fiona
  7. Gaston
  8. Hermine
  9. Ian
  10. Julia

Another Fun Fact: Hurricanes used to be given only female names. That came to an end in Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico basins in 1979. The first male hurricane was named Bob.


Who Makes the Best Burger?

The Results are in....

Thanks to everyone who participated in the National Hamburger Month poll in May's newsletter and on Facebook and Twitter.

It seems a plurality of readers subscribe to Calvin Trillin's admonition: "Anybody who doesn't think that the best hamburger place in the world is in his home town is a sissy.”

Meaning that local favorites got the most votes. The top burgers were:

Hometown faves: 31%

In-N-Out: 17%

Whataburger: 14%

Burger King: 12%

Culvers: 11%

The Burger Joint: 9%

All the rest were in single digits.

Some comments:

Deborah Rich: "Dan's hands down, but ya gotta come to ATX (Austin)."

Bill Leonard: "Gators' Crossroads makes the best burgers but they're in the Everglades so you have to wonder if the burgers are made of beef or alligator."

Debbie Austin Manning: "Charlie's Old Fashion Burgers in Fort Worth."

K.C. Schulberg: "Surprisingly, the Silverspot Cinema makes one of the best Impossible burgers I've tasted."

Ken Marks: "Brooks Burgers (of Naples) are mighty good."

I voted for Jucys in Longview, Texas. Understandably, I was alone in that, not because Jucys isn't the world's best hamburger (it is), but because relatively few people in the survey have taken the time to stop for lunch in Longview (which you definitely should do).

Tip of the hat to those who voted for The Burger Joint, a funky little restaurant hidden off the lobby of the former Le Parker Meridian Hotel (now Thompson Central Park) in New York City. If it weren't for Jucys, it would have been my top pick, too. I assume one of those votes was yours, Calvin.


June is, among other things, National Accordion Awareness Month

Beware the Accordion. Why? Well, because. No idea, really, why an entire month is dedicated to this musical instrument. It's kinda like a bagpipe only not. But here's a neat bit of trivia: When Daniel Radcliffe (nee Harry Potter) was preparing to play Weird Al Yankovic in the movie "Weird Al" he actually took accordion lessons in order to throw himself into the role. Now that's dedication.

In June we also celebrate Aquarium Month, Candy Month, Fight the Filthy Fly Month, National Adopt a Cat Month, and LGBTQIA+ Pride Month.

June is also Putin Pick-Up Month

Look familiar? Of course it does. May was also Putin Pick-Up Month. Why two consecutive months for the same event? Because a world free of Putins is a safer, cleaner, healthier planet. So don't forget your plastic Putin bags when you take Fido for a stroll. Let's make Earth a Putin-free planet.

June By The Numbers

  1. Flip a Coin Day
  2. National Bubba Day
  3. National Doughnut Day
  4. Hug Your Cat Day
  5. Bed Bug Awareness Week
  6. D-Day Anniversary
  7. Prince's birthday (1958)
  8. World Ocean Day
  9. Donald Duck's birthday (1934)
  10. Ballpoint Pen Day
  11. National Corn on the Cob Day
  12. National Jerky Day
  13. National Hermit Day
  14. Flag Day
  15. National Prune Day
  16. Bonnaroo Music Festival (Tennessee)
  17. 50th Anniversary of the Watergate arrests
  18. World Jugglers' Day
  19. Father's Day and Juneteenth
  20. Ice Cream Soda Day
  21. First Day of Summer
  22. National Onion Ring Day
  23. National Pink Day
  24. Take Your Dog to Work Day
  25. National Catfish Day
  26. Bar Code Anniversary (1974)
  27. Helen Keller's birthday (1880)
  28. International Body Piercing Day
  29. Interstate Highway System launched (1956)
  30. Meteor Day

Elvis in History--June Report

We introduce a new feature in this edition of the newsletter, Elvis in History. Has Elvis truly left the building? Not in our hearts and minds. Let's step back in time (using our Tachyon generator) to June 5, 1956 for this historic Elvis moment.

On this day, Elvis showed up on the Milton Berle television show and gave what is often called his "infamous" rendition of the song "Hound Dog."

It is from his gyrating hips during the performance that pundits began calling him "Elvis the Pelvis."


What I'm Reading, Watching, and Listening To

Imagine my surprise while researching this month's events when I stumbled across this: June is Audiobook Appreciation Month. Having approved the audiobook version of my latest novel, Mister Manners, I'm now listening to The Immortal King Rao by Vauhini Vara.

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The Amber Heard / Johnny Depp courtroom drama that has played out all month long on live television has been a huge distraction, causing me to waste more time than I care to confess. (More on this in the latest SHARPEN UP podcast. Details below).

Since Amber Heard's defense in the defamation trial has made such a big deal about her role in the movie Aquaman with Jason Momoa, we decided to re-watch the movie.

Quick take: Why Aquaman made over a billion dollars is beyond me. We accidentally turned on closed captioning, so we were exposed to the actual script as the movie unfolded. It read like a fifth grade writing project. Amber read her lines with about as much passion as a soggy barnacle, and Momoa wasn't much better. Award for best acting chops goes not to the headliners but to Aquaman's mom and dad (Temuera Morrison and Nicole Kidman).

Cool origin story, though.

They Said It

"If someone were to harm my family or a friend or somebody I love, I would eat them..."

-- Johnny Depp

"I've always been a private person, and I've always valued my private life."

-- Amber Heard

News of the Strange

Murder she wrote.jpg

Murder She Wrote

A woman who wrote a blogpost entitled "How to Murder Your Husband" has been convicted of murdering her husband.

A Portland, Oregon jury convicted the self-published novelist Nancy Crampton Brophy, 71, of killing her 63-year-old husband, Daniel Brophy, after two days of deliberation.

In her blogpost -- which the judge did not allow jurors to see -- she wrote:

"As a romantic suspense writer, I spend a lot of time thinking about murder and, consequently, about police procedure. After all, if the murder is supposed to set me free, I certainly don’t want to spend any time in jail. And let me say clearly for the record, I don’t like jumpsuits and orange isn’t my color."

She went on to list various murder delivery systems including guns, knives, garrotes, "random heavy piece of equipment," poison, "hiring a hitman," and "hiring a lover."

Prosecutors accused her of using a gun. Although, mysteriously, the murder weapon was never found.


Recognize this guy?

His name is Jonathan Searle, and as a child he had a bit part in the 1975 movie Jaws, which was filmed, in part, in the village of Oak Bluffs on Martha's Vineyard.

In one of those unusual "life imitates art" moments, Searle has just been named police chief for the Massachusetts island town.

Presumably, one of his responsibilities will be to mount a law enforcement response to any monstrous shark attacks.

This month's Honorary Florida Man Award goes to...

A 24-year-old Japanese man in the town of Abu woke up one recent morning to find an additional 46.3 million yen ($360,000) in his bank account.

So what did he do with the windfall? Did he call the bank? Or, perhaps, other authorities? Nah. Channeling the instincts of a true Florida Man, he blew it gambling online.

Which did not sit well with police when they discovered that the money had mistakenly been sent to him when it had been intended to be distributed to 463 low-income households in Abu as part of a COVID relief package.

Sho Taguchi, 24, was in the hoosegow as this was written. But fear not, Sho, you are now officially an honorary Florida Man. Party on, Sho.


Brewers 1, Censors 0

Chalk one up for the First Amendment. A federal judge has ruled that North Carolina's law restricting "bad taste" on beer labels is unconstitutional.

The issue: Flying Dog Brewery created a label for its Freezin' Season Winter Ale with a drawing of a naked man (in the style of Ralph Steadman) hovering near a campfire. The state's alcohol commission rejected it, and Flying Dog's snarling lawyers sprung into action.

The court called the regulation "vague and over-broad" and in violation of Flying Dog's free speech rights.

Personally, I couldn't care less about whether the label is in bad taste, but whether the brew tastes any good. But this is North Carolina, you know, where they obsess over transgender bathrooms, so maybe freaking out over beer labels is inevitable.

More strange news at The Strange Files on the Tropic Press website.

Strange Science


Are UFOs real?

Of course they are. Unidentified Flying Objects are just that. Things flying in the Earth's atmosphere that we haven't yet figured out.

That doesn't mean UFOs are flying saucers filled with little green men or cannibals from the Planet Gorn.

Speaking at an historic public hearing last month, Pentagon officials rolled out previously classified video of a hypersonic object hurtling through the air that is utterly unidentifiable. Naval Intelligence officers testified at the Senate hearing that since 2004 there have been 144 reported sightings of various mysterious flying objects spotted by U.S. Navy aviators.

What does it mean? It means these sightings are taken seriously enough to actually record them and investigate them because they could be a potential national security threat, the Senate was told.

Are they from another world? Who knows?


Speaking of other worldly...

That orange doughnut-shaped blob you're looking at? It's the black hole in the core of the Milky Way. This photo represents the first visual evidence that our home galaxy, like others we are able to observe, has a black hole in its middle.

It was captured by the Earth Horizon Telescope, a network of eight observatories around the world, linked together to form a single planet-sized radio telescope.

Known as Sagittarius A, this black hole is 27,000 light years from Earth and has the mass of four millions Suns.

Insomnia is Dangerous. People who struggle with insomnia are more likely to have declines in memory, concentration, and learning ability later in life, according to a new study involving nearly 4,000 participants in Finland. Maybe cut back on that caffeine?

So, you just got bit by a rattler or a brown recluse spider. Big problem, right? Well, it is worse than you think. Scientists have discovered that venom from snakes and spiders also contains bacteria. Which means that in addition to antivenin, you may also need a shot of antibiotics. Lesson: Avoid spiders and snakes.


Breaking the lightspeed limit. Nothing with ordinary mass can travel faster than the speed of light. In fact, there isn't enough energy in the known universe to push an object with any substance that fast.

But what about tachyons? Tachyons are a theoretical -- and very weird -- form of matter with what scientists call "imaginary mass," which makes sense since tachyons are, themselves, imaginary. But if they DO exist, scientists say they are already traveling faster than light. In fact, they cannot travel slower than the speed of light. And because of that, tachyons are continually traveling backwards in time.

Yes. You read that right. By traveling faster than lightspeed, tachyons reverse the normal course of time. What's that mean? We can only imagine. But say you could use tachyons to transport yourself back in time to the year 1956, wouldn't it be cool to see Elvis on the set of the Milton Berle show?

Just your luck to get there and it's sold out.


From Our Mailbag

Dear J.C.

I heard a rumor that one of your novels has won a medal in the annual Florida Authors and Publishers Association awards competition. Is that true?

L. Child

Why, yes it is. Won't know which book and what the award is until they are announced later this year. 

Dear J.C.

Why were you in Longview, Texas when you had that hamburger from Jucys that you were bragging about?

Retta K. 

It was my pleasure to serve as the editor of the Longview News-Journal for a couple of years, and Jucys was one of my family's go-to lunch spots. 

Dear J.C.

Barnacle? Really?

Jason M.

Just came to me, what can I say? Maybe because I recalled that the first ship Captain Jack Sparrow captured was The Barnacle.

Shameless Commercial Messages...


Are birds real? What's the story behind the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster? Is the Johnny Depp / Amber Hard trial the most tawdry, lurid, depressing thing you've ever seen that you can't take your eyes off of?

The answers to these and other vital questions can be found in the latest SHARPEN UP podcast co-hosted by yours truly and my journalist colleague Ron Rollins where we explore myths and conspiracy theories, jurisprudence, and why there's no Hurricane Ron.

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Apple Podcasts
Amazon Music
Podcast Index

Award Winners!

Strange Currents has been named the best mystery of the year in the annual Royal Palm Literary Awards. Mister Manners captured second place. Get your copies here:

The Strange Files, Florida Man, Get Strange, Strange Currents, and Mister Manners.

You can read more about these books on my website at

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Parting Shot