Sharpen Up!

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

By J.C. Bruce

Labor Day:

The unofficial end of summer and the start of the political season

We celebrate Labor Day the first Monday of every September. This year that falls on Sept. 5.

The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 1882, in New York City and was created as a way to recognize the social and economic achievements of American workers.

These days, it's also a great time to buy a mattress or a dishwasher or whatnot. In fact, depending upon which source you consult, Labor Day is one of the best shopping days of the year trailing only Amazon Prime Day and any give tax-free holiday, even surpassing Black Friday.

It's also traditionally regarded as the start of the fall political season leading up to the November elections. Although with the advent of social media and around-the-clock news coverage, some political experts say that notion may now be outdated.

Labor Day trivia:

Two people with the same last names are credited with launching that first Labor Day event in New York: Matthew Maguire, a machinist, and Peter McGuire, a carpenter.

For the fashion conscious, it used to be that wearing white after Labor Day was taboo, a custom dating back to the Victorian era. Nobody cares about that -- or Queen Victoria, for that matter -- anymore.

Labor Day is the unofficial end of the hot dog season. What? you ask. There's a hot dog season? I didn't know either, but here's another statistic:

Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, Americans will eat 7 billion wieners.

Since it's Labor Day, what's the biggest union? That would be the National Education Association with about 3 million active and retired members.

Labor Day is also regarded as the "unofficial" end of summer, but there's more to that story, to wit:

September 1 is the beginning of autumn according to climate experts

While autumn doesn't officially begin on our calendars until later in the month (Sept. 22, the autumnal equinox) from a meteorological perspective the first day of September really does mark a shift in the seasons.

For a deeper dive on the differences between astronomical versus meteorological seasons click here, but here's the upshot, and you can use this to impress your friends:

The astronomical seasons are what we base our calendar on. Winter begins with the day of the year in which the sun is in the sky for the least amount of time, this year that's Dec. 21. Summer starts with the longest day. Spring and fall start on the midpoints between these two with equal days and nights (the equinoxes).

Meteorological seasons, however, are based on a different measurement -- average temperatures. Fall begins on Sept. 1, winter on Dec. 1, spring on March 1, and summer on the first of June.

Never Forget:

Sept. 11, 2001

September 11 is Patriot Day, when we commemorate the lives of people lost in the 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon in Virginia, and the passengers aboard hijacked United Airlines Flight 93 that crashed in Pennsylvania.

Other September milestones and events...

The NCAA college football season kicks off on Sept. 3. The Alabama Crimson Tide begin the season ranked No. 1 in the country followed in order by Ohio State, Georgia, Clemson, and Notre Dame.

Then on Sept. 8, the 2022 National Football League begins play, where it is widely expected that the Miami Dolphins will once again go undefeated, repeating their historic 1972 season (you read it here first.)

September is among other things:

Be Kind to Editors and Writers Month

Fall Hat Month

Happy Cat Month

Library Card Sign-Up Month

Mold Awareness Month

National Head Lice Prevention Month

Pleasure Your Mate Month


The Artemis 1 Moon launch has been postponed to Sept. 3. If all goes as planned (which would be a first), takeoff will be at 2:17 p.m. EDT.

Apple will host a big reveal at its headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., on Sept. 7. As this newsletter went to press, rumors were that four new iPhones and an updated iWatch will be introduced.

Grandparents Day is celebrated on Sept. 11, oddly coincidental this year with 9/11 commemorations. (BTW, for that grandparent on your list, older people just love reading The Strange Files mystery series. It reminds them of their own wild and crazy youth.)

Batman Day is Sept. 17. A day to celebrate the World's Greatest Detective (and badass). When you spot the bat signal on social media, you'll know the official Batman Day has begun. Let's hear it for the Caped Crusader.

National Cheeseburger Day is Sept. 18. It's a day to celebrate your favorite cheeseburger at home or at your favorite burger joint. We polled readers of this newsletter earlier in the year on their favorite burgers. The resounding answer: Hometown favorites beat out the big chains. Here's a link to those poll results.

Talk Like a Pirate Day, as noted in last month's newsletter, is Sept. 19. Rewatch Pirates of the Caribbean and perfect your best Captain Jack Sparrow between now and then.

Sept. 21 is the International Day of Peace (unless your name is Vladimir Putin).

Speaking of which, every day in September is Pick Up Your Putins Day. Why? Because Putins are unsightly, smelly, and unhealthy, and we need to rid the world of them.

Sept. 24 is National Punctuation Day; Don't let limitted vocabulistics hold you back. This is a grate thyme to brake out you're old gammer books: and study up so you can talk and right gooder. 


On Sept. 4, 1609, the Lenape people of what would become known as Manhattan Island discovered a trespasser from Europe named Henry Hudson. He went on to outrageously claim he had "discovered" the island. More Europeans followed and those Lenape who didn't flee were killed off by smallpox.

Star Trek launched it's 78-episode TV series on NBC on Sept. 8, 1966. For the record, Kirk never said: "Beam me up Scotty."

As a reminder that September is the height of hurricane season, 120 mph winds struck Galveston, Texas, on Sept. 8, 1900, killing 8,000 people and destroying 2,500 buildings making it the worst natural disaster in U.S. history.

On Sept. 10, 1955, Gunsmoke premiered. It became the longest running Western on television with its final episode airing in 1975. Fun Fact: John Wayne turned down the role of Marshall Matt Dillon and instead recommended his pal James Arness.

In 1812, Napoleon entered Moscow on Sept. 14 as retreating Russians set fire to the city. Realizing winter amid the ruins of Moscow was not a swell idea, Napoleon retreated, but the Russian winter caught up with him. Fewer than 20,000 of his original army of 500,000 made it back.

The first airplane fatality occurred on Sept. 17, 1908, when a biplane flown by Orville Wright augured-in from a height of 75 feet killing his 26-year-old passenger, Lt. Thomas E. Selfridge.

The first televised presidential debate -- between Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy -- took place on Sept. 26, 1960. Kennedy crushed Nixon on TV; those who heard the debate on radio thought Nixon won. Kennedy was definitely better looking while Nixon had the perfect face for radio

And on a tragic note, James Dean, easily the coolest actor ever, died in a car crash in California on Sept. 30, 1955. He was only 24 years old., however, disputes that "coolest" assertion, arguing this is the list:

Clint Eastwood

Tom Hanks

Steve McQueen

Paul Newman

James Dean

Jack Nicholson

Sean Connery

Harison Ford

Robert De Niro

John Wayne is wrong.

Elvis in History--

September Report

We continue our monthly Elvis report noting that on Sept. 9, 1956, Elvis made his first appearance on the nationally televised Ed Sullivan show. The story behind this: Sullivan originally refused to book the controversial, hip wiggling Elvis, but when a competitor, Steve Allen, smeared Sullivan's ratings by hosting him, Sullivan caved and agree to book Elvis for three performances for $50,000, which at the time was a mind-boggling sum.

What I'm Reading

and Watching 

Since launching my TikTok channel (@j.c.bruce), I've run across many hilarious posts, but none that has made me laugh out loud more than this outtake of CNN's Anderson Cooper cracking up over a TikTok comment he received.

You owe it to yourself to check it out. His laughter is infectious.

Click here.

Just finished How the South Won the Civil War by Heather Cox Richardson, a persuasive and provocative journey through the history of the United States exploring how the plantation mentality of the Old South moved west after the war and sank new roots that continue to influence today's partisan politics and our struggle between oligarchy and equality. It's must reading to understand the historical context of the political strife we're dealing with today, and at 272 pages it is an easy and approachable read.

The U.S. House Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol is scheduled to resume its public hearings in September, although as this newsletter was written there was no firm date set. But Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., told Meet the Press that the panel will be exploring "missing pieces"  regarding financing of the riot and former President Donald Trump's subsequent fundraising under the so-called Stop the Steal banner. Stay tuned for dates and times of the hearings.

They Said It

"Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress; but I repeat myself

-- Mark Twain

"If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in five years there'd be a shortage of sand."

-- Milton Friedman

"In politics, stupidity is not a handicap."

-- Napoleon Bonaparte

News of the Strange

Air Tag Leads Cops to Luggage Thief

A visitor to Florida's Panhandle was alarmed when she arrived and found that her luggage was missing. She reported it to police who, just a few days later, received another complaint, this time from a man who said he had about $15,000 worth of jewelry in his missing bags.

Both tourists had landed at the Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport in the heart of the so-called Redneck Riviera. So police began their investigation there.

They had one vital clue: The woman who first reported the missing luggage told them she had an Apple Air Tag in her bag.

Police quickly tracked the air tag's signal to the address of an airport employee, and he was arrested.

Oddly, of all the woman's missing possessions, only the Air Tag was recovered. Why would the thief keep that and only that, the one thing that could get him caught?

Well, that's how you get to be an official Florida Man.

White House Twitter Account now has a new snarky attitude

When GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene launched a chorus of criticism of President Joe Biden's Student Loan forgiveness program, she never dreamed she'd be on the receiving end of an official White House slap-down.

She can thank Megan Coyne, the new social media star at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. 

After calling the loan forgiveness program "unfair," Greene got her hypocrisy pointed out in this White House Tweet:

"Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene had $183,504 in PPP loans forgiven."

Here's the whole story from my TikTok account.

Strange Science

Is Doggie Dementia Real?

Scientists have learned that less-active dogs are almost 6.5 times more likely to have dementia than dogs that are very active.

Does this mean that laziness is harmful to dogs' brains, or is it that dogs with dementia tend to be less active?

A classic cause-and-effect question.

But studies have shown that people who are physically active are less likely to experience a decline in mental function and have a lower risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. So it's not too much of a stretch to imagine the same thing for our canine friends.

So, here's suggestion: Buy a dog. Take it for a walk. Two problems solved at once.

From Our Mailbag

Dear J.C.

I keep seeing you on TikTok. You're burning up social media, especially your riveting reports on national politics. I steal your material all the time.

Anderson C.

You're welcome. (If you want to see what Anderson's referring to, check out this link to my TikTok page: @J.C.Bruce

Dear J.C.

Loved that bit about National Punctuation Day. Now that football season has arrived, remember it's lose not loose.

T. Johnson

Especially when talking about the New England Patriots. Go Dolphins.

Dear J.C.

Pirates. Pirates. Pirates. You keep yammering about pirates. Last month, then again in this newsletter. You do realize, don't you, that Johnny Depp is not a real pirate? He's an actor.

Jack S.


Dear J.C.

Can Zombies read?

Marv D.

No. Which means they, unlike you, can't enjoy:

The Strange Files series, chronicling the adventures of Alexander Strange, is available in multiple formats: hard-cover, trade paperback, e-book, and Mister Manners is also available as an audiobook. Here are some helpful Amazon links. You can also order from Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, and other online retailers.

The Strange Files, Florida Man, Get StrangeStrange Currentsand Mister Manners.

You can read more about these books on my website at

Need a podcast fix? Catch up with my colleague Ron Rollins and I at Sharpen Up -- The Podcast. Here the link to the Sharpen Up Podcast Website.

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FYI, this is an update of the original newsletter that was distributed earlier. A careful reader caught an error. Thanks for the assist!


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Parting Shot