Sharpen Up!

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

By J.C. Bruce

Yes, It's May, Which Means Soon It Will Be...

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This month is blessed with dozens of special days and commemorations but none more popular than Mother's Day, which this year falls on Sunday, May 8.

So, if you're at a super-spreader event this month and need an ice-breaker, you can share this history of the holiday as a conversation starter:

The first Mother's Day was celebrated in 1907 when Anna Jarvis held a special church service in Grafton, West Virginia. She campaigned tirelessly for the creation of a national holiday, only to be snubbed by the all-male Republican-controlled U.S. Congress in 1908, whose members joked that if approved, "next we'll have to enact a Mother-in-law's Day."

Then the legislators returned home and told their wives this hilarious joke they'd come up with. While they recovered from their injuries, the states took matters into their own hands and by 1911 all 46 states observed the holiday. Shortly thereafter, lobbyists for the greeting card industry descended on the nation's capital, checkbooks in hand, having heard about a proposed Mother-in-law's Day. (It is now celebrated on the fourth Sunday in October.)

Interesting footnote:

Anna Jarvis, who spearheaded this effort, did so in memory of her late mother, Ann Jarvis, who cared for wounded soldiers from both the Union and Confederacy during the Civil War. She and another peace activist, Julia Ward Howe, had been lobbying for the creation of a "Mother's Day For Peace."

So, Mother's Day traces its roots to the anti-war movement.

And a bit of irony:

Anna Jarvis, in the 1920s (after women had won the right to vote), organized boycotts of the very celebration she created. Why? She was upset that greeting card companies like Hallmark and candy-makers were exploiting the holiday for profit.


But Before We Celebrate Mom, It's Labor Day...

... Uh, Except Not in America or Canada.

Interesting fact:

May 1 is internationally recognized as Labor Day in 140 countries, but in the U.S.A. and Canada, the holiday is celebrated in September.


Internationally, May 1 was selected for the holiday because, ironically, of an event in Chicago. It was on May 1, 1886, that the Federation of Organized Trades urged members to go on strike to support efforts to create an eight-hour workday.

At the picket lines, things got out of hand when a few protestors tried to confront strikebreakers. A subsequent rally was held where a bomb was thrown, gunplay erupted, six police officers were killed, sixty wounded, and two strikers were also killed in the stampede and chaos.

This became known as the Haymarket Massacre, and the anniversary was selected by the Marxist International Socialist Congress as a day of action for organized labor worldwide. Cold War sentiments in America played against moving the holiday to the same day as the rest of the world, so Labor Day has remained anchored in its original date in September ever since.


It's National Hamburger Month

Among the many, many celebrations in May (you can read a curated list below), it is the month of the year in which we celebrate America's favorite food:


No, wait. Gag. Negatory. We are, of course, taking about The Hamburger.

This annual celebration is sponsored by White Castle, creator of the universal hangover cure -- The Slider.

Who makes the best burger? This is the subject of great and furious debate and food fights. Fortunately, I know the answer, and I am willing to share it. But, first, what do you say?

Take this quick poll:

Who Makes the Best Hamburger?
Burger King
Five Guys
The Burger Joint

If you clicked on OTHER, or have further comments, send me an email for inclusion in the next newsletter.


Celebrate Cinco de Mayo

On May 5, 1862, Napoleon III got his ass handed to him by outmanned and outgunned Mexican troops at the Battle of Puebla. The date has been recognized ever since, especially in the United States, as a time to celebrate Mexican-American culture.

That story sound a little familiar? A small band of patriots holding off the army of a short, ferret-faced dictator against all odds?

Maybe Ukraine will give us a new holiday to celebrate soon. As this is written, that seems more like wishful thinking than reality. But we can hope.

Speaking of Putin...

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May is Putin Pick-Up Month

Yes, yet another holiday in May (created right here). Remember, part of being a responsible pet owner is picking up that Putin after Rover has done his business.

It's not only the considerate thing to do, in many places, it is the law.

Remember, a world free of Putins is a safer, healthier planet.

Simply Punny


Other May Milestones and Events

The very first Batman comic book was published on May 1, 1939. Created by artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger, the Caped Crusader was an instant hit. At auction in 2020, a copy of the first edition sold for $1.5 million.

National Teacher Day is May 3, part of Teacher Appreciation Week, a time to recognize "the lasting contribution teachers make to our lives." 

Lumpy Rug Day is also on May 3. What's that about? It's the day you shove unwanted facts under the rug until you have gigantic lumps. Inconvenient truths like, yes, climate change is real, no, don't drink Clorox to cure coronavirus, no, the January 6th insurrectionists weren't tourists. Things like that.

May the Fourth Be With You. Yep, it's Star Wars Day. Time to polish your light saber. And, if you check your Encyclopedia Galactica, you discover that Darth Vader's line to Luke Skywalker is among the most misquoted in all moviedom. He didn't say, "Luke, I am your father." He said, "No, I am your father." Just setting the record straight. (You can win a bar bet with this one. Also, Rick never said, "Play it again, Sam" in Casablanca.)

So much for the Renaissance. On May 6, 1527, the Renaissance came to a brutal end when invading German soldiers killed 4,000 inhabitants of Rome and looted libraries and works of art. So much for the pen being mightier than the sword.

May 6 is National No Pants Day. No Socks Day is celebrated two days later on May 8. And mark your calendar for No Panty Day, June 22.

The Kentucky Derby -- often called the fastest two minutes in sports -- will be run on May 7. Post time is 6:57 p.m. Fun Facts: The first Kentucky Derby was run in 1875. Since its inception, 1,957 horses have started the race. Most winning horses have been born in Kentucky. And 12 of those winners went on to sire future winners.

The Blame Someone Else Day is May 13The holiday moves around the calendar (like Easter), falling on the first Friday the 13th of each year. It's a day to avoid personal responsibility for the mess we're in. Blame Friday the 13th if you like. I blame Putin.

Stay Up All Night Night is May 14. Organizers say it's magnificent to spend a sleepless night and watch the sun rise. I'll take their word for it.

Ride a Unicycle Day is May 15. Why? Well, why not?


There are two lunar eclipses in 2022 and the first one is on May 16. The next time the Earth's shadow will blot out the moon will be on Nov. 8. There are also two partial solar eclipses this year, but neither will be visible in North America.

May 16 is also the anniversary of the first Academy Awards. There is no record of anyone being slapped while onstage.

Following on the heels of Unicycle Day, May 20 is National Bike to Work Day.

International World Turtle Day is May 23. No, this isn't about the giant turtle that the flat earth rests upon, it's in support of tortoise rescue efforts.

Brother's Day is May 24. It's a day to help the Hallmark company make even more money celebrating bogus holidays. Do your part. (And yes, that rumbling sound is Anna Jarvis spinning in her grave.)

Jay Silverheels, best known as Tonto in the Lone Ranger television series, was born on May 26, 1912. He was born Harold Smith at the Six Nations Indian Reserve, a Mohawk reservation in Canada. He ended up in Hollywood as a stuntman and won the defining role of his career in 1949.

Julia Ward Howe, mentioned earlier in this newsletter, was born on May 27, 1819. Among her many accomplishments was penning "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" after visiting military encampments during the Civil War. She was the first woman ever elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

National Alligator Day is May 29. If you're an alligator, every day is Eat a Human Day if you don't watch your step in the Everglades.

We close out May with Memorial Day on May 30, a day to honor the sacrifices of the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military.

They Said It

"Anybody who doesn't think that the best hamburger place in the world is in his home town is a sissy.”

-- Calvin Trillin

"Russia does not want confrontation of any kind."

--Vladimir Putin


News of the Strange

Police in at least two states on the lookout for missing Bigfoots

In Marshall, Michigan, a seven-foot-tall Sasquatch statue was stolen from a home. The cops say the monument, made of sheet metal, was cut from a steel post, where it was mounted.

Earlier, in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, another statue known locally as Mr. Sasquatch was stolen, police said, by thieves who drove up in a Ford Explorer and unbolted it from its stand.

Who is responsible for this series of Sasquatch snatchings? Are they different thieves, or is this a serial stealer at work? That's what police want to know.

Here's what you need to know: Sasquatch, Bigfoot, Yeti, the Abominable Snowman -- all these mythic monsters are just the stuff of folklore, despite what you may have been told.

They are, in fact, all modeled on the one real deal -- the Skunk Ape, a terrifying animal who inhabits the Florida Everglades.

You heard it here, if not first, then with absolute certainty: The Skunk Ape -- half man, half skunk, half ape -- is the one and only genuine creature of its kind who lurks in the wilds to claim his victims. Just ask all the lost souls who have ventured into the swamp never to return. (Well, OK, that's not possible, because, after all, they never returned -- but if they COULD they certainly would tell you the Skunk Ape is real).

Don't believe me? Well, there's an entire scientific institution dedicated to this called the Skunk Ape Research Headquarters located on the edge of the Everglades in Ochopee, Florida. I know. I've got the tee shirt.

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

What I'm Reading


Useful tip: It helps to know what a Kaiju is before diving into John Scalzi's latest novel, The Kaiju Preservation Society. Didn't stop me from ordering it the moment it was published, of course, since I'm his biggest fan. Still, just in case you, like me, missed the memo, a Kaiju is a gigantic monster -- think Godzilla, Mothra, Gamera, et. al. So why would anyone want to preserve them, as the title suggests? A lot depends on which dimension you live in and whether it's the only job you can scrounge up, which is the fate of our hero in this hilarious, brilliantly imagined scifi extravaganza. Check out Scalzi's website here: https://whatever.scalzi.com/

And in case you think I'm a lowbrow when it comes to reading, let me confirm that for you. I'm in the middle of John Sandford's latest: The Investigator, starring Letty Davenport, adopted daughter of U.S. Marshal Lucas Davenport, the protagonist in Sandford's best-selling (and wildly addictive) Prey series. Imagine Lucas as a 24-year-old woman, and you have Letty. Same can't-put-it-down action and thrills. In fact, Letty may be more interesting than her dad.

What I'm Watching

Enjoying Season 1 of Great Canal Journeys, a pleasant series of narrowboat trips along the canals of Great Britain hosted by Timothy West and Prunella Scales. In addition to the travelogue, the couple talks openly about Scales' advancing dementia, for which the show has been praised by Alzheimer's advocates. Slow paced, relaxing, it's a nice break between whatever else you might be streaming (pun intended).

Trekkies, mark your calendar for May 5 when Star Trek: Strange New Worlds debuts on Paramount +. We'll be back aboard the Enterprise in the years before James T. Kirk took the helm. Our skipper, Christopher Pike. And, yes, Spock will be aboard.

What I'm Not Watching

Tucker Carlson, the popular Faux News conjuror of manufactured crises, has a new special out in which he is alarmed by a terrifying decline in worldwide testosterone levels. But he comes to the rescue with a solution: Testicle Tanning. I'm not making this up. You can read more about it here if you like.

Strange Science


Scientists have discovered a gigantic comet that's been racing towards the sun from the farthest reaches of the Solar System for over a million years.

Astronomers used the Hubble Space Telescope to confirm that the solid center of the giant comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein is the largest comet nucleus ever detected.

It measures a mind-blowing 50 times larger than most known comets, dwarfing Mount Everest in size. Fortunately it is not on a collision path with Earth.

Scientists have concluded that drinking beer and hard liquor is linked to an increase in "visceral fat" -- that's the fat that causes heart disease and other illnesses. However, for some reason, drinking wine doesn't. Moreover, red wine appears to actually reduce visceral fat. Why? As is so often the case, more study is needed. But here's the current thinking.


From Our Mailbag

Spotted an egregious omission in your last newsletter. You failed to mention Eeyore's Birthday Party among the April events -- a great time to soak up some sun.

--Sheryl C.

As a former denizen of Austin, this is, indeed, an egregious (love that word) oversight. I've no one to blame. For the record, and for all of this newsletter's many thousands of readers who may not be familiar, poor, sad Eeyore's birthday is celebrated in a daylong party in the Texas capital on the last Saturday in April, an annual event since 1963. Rock on.

Shameless Commercial Message

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Was The Mothman Prophecies the downfall of Richard Gere's career? Is Mothman real or just another cheap imitation of the Skunk Ape? Which is better: The Batman or Batman Begins?

These are some of the many vital subjects my co-host Ron Rollins and I discuss in our recent SHARPEN UP podcasts.

In addition to the traditional audio podcast format, we also video record SHARPEN UP. You can watch the video episodes on You Tube here:

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SHARPEN UP can also be found here:

Apple Podcasts
Amazon Music
Podcast Index

Summer's approaching and it's time to pick out those beach reads.

Here are a few (humble) suggestions that not only will entertain you, but your purchase -- either as a hardcover, paperback, ebook, or audiobook -- will help to feed my recently adopted pet ferret, Voloydymr.

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

You can read more about these book on my website at www.jcbruce.com

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May is Also Home to...

American Cheese Month, Asthma Awareness Month, Be Kind to Animals Week, Celiac Disease Awareness Month, Choose Privacy Week, Clap 4 Health Month, College Students With Disabilities Recognition Month, Gifts From the Garden Month, Haitian Heritage Month, Heal the Children Month, Hug Your Cat Day, Huntington's Disease Awareness Month, International Mediterranean Diet Month, International Victorious Woman Month, Jewish-American Heritage Month, Mother Goose Day, National Arthritis Awareness Month, National Barbeque Month, National Bike Month, National Bubba Day, National Foster Care Month, National Hamburger Month, National Hepatitis Awareness Month, National Hug Holiday Week, National Infertility Survival Day, National Meditation Month, National Military Appreciation Month, National Osteoporosis Month, National Pet Week, National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, National Preservation Month, National Read to Your Baby Bump Month, New Home Owner's Day, Older Americans Month, School Principals Day, Skin Cancer Awareness Month, Spiritual Literacy Month, Ultraviolet Awareness Month, Update Your References Week, Women's Health Care Month, Young Achievers Month.

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