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January 2020 Issue 

A note from the author:
This has been the best decade ever.

   ---The Authors


Thanks to all who participated. Congratulations to Sam Harris for being the selected winner of the $17 cash prize. If you would like to suggest we made a poor decision in choosing our winner, please email us at with the subject: “I Hate Your Guts.” Also, thanks for all the fan mail, we appreciate you!


NPR Interview:



Transcript: NPR's Full Interview With Jake & Sam

January 5, 2020         5:17 AM ET


Morning Edition host Rachel Martin interviews writers/activists Jake Schick and Samuel Harris during an editing session in Decorah, Iowa, about their goals for their monthly newsletter as well as the future of the modern world.

This is the transcript of a conversation held on Jan. 5, 2020.

Rachel Martin: Jake, Sam, thank you very much for having me.

Jake: Well thanks for stopping by. We appreciate it.

Sam: Can you get my laundry out of the dryer?

Jake: I’ll get to that later. 

Rachel: So everybody wants to know, how did the idea for the monthly newsletter come about?

J: Bomb. It’s not a newsletter. It is a monthly email bomb. 

S: People often mix the two, which is silly because they are very different. 

R: You do a lot with the email bomb. You inform - you’re an unbiased news source, you write reviews, op-eds, conduct research, etc. What is the most important part of the bomb?

S: Family. I read every email bomb aloud to my wife and kids three times a day. 

J: For me, it’s the process. It’s a great learning experience for us, too. 

R: It must be so much work. Do you ever have thoughts about quitting it all to be able to rest?

S: Everyday. I always doubt there will be another one. 

J: People rely on us too much. 

R: So I know the title shares your names, but who’s really in charge here?

Jake & Sam chuckle lightly.  Jake spits on Sam; Sam slaps Jake.  

R: Um, er, okay. Well… How do you manage to conduct all the research, write everything, and publish the newsletter --

J: -- the bomb.

R: The bomb. How do you manage to do all that every month- just the two of you?

J: We’re a team. 

S: We truly are. When I fall asleep on the job, Jake wakes me up. When Jake falls asleep, I wake him up. It’s a rigorous cycle. Email bombs are arduous work. 

J: Do you know what arduous means?

R: Me?

J: Yes. 

R: Um, yes. I do. 

J: Just making sure. 

Sam slicks back his hair with water.

R: How did this collaboration all start? When did you meet?

J: Tuscany 2009. That was the title of a short film I was working on last year. I went for a late night walk in Brooklyn, and I saw a slim man stealing blueberries from a grocery store. I approached him and asked if I could steal with him. And the rest is history. 

Jake belches. 

S: How much longer do we talk to you?

R: Not much longer. 

J: Nice. 

Jake & Sam exchange a look. You can see their chemistry. 

R: Have you been inspired by any films recently?

S: Well, if you read last month’s issue, you would know that we were both quite fond of Jumanji 2. 

J: The Next Level.

R: Are the rumors true that a Jake & Sam feature film will premiere in 2029?

J: Rumours shmours. 

S: That rhymes with tumors. 

J: That’s true. Write that down. 

R: Jake, Sam, thoughts on the 2029 movie?

J: Yes, yes. Well, we tend to not confirm or deny anything.

S: I will say we have many projects in the works.  We had a film we were also acting in alongside Roseanne Barr and Chris Brown, but we decided not to finish that project.

R: Will you work with Roseanne and Chris in the future?

J&S: No. 

R: Jake & Sam, thank you very much for your time. 

J&S: Absolutely. We love helping charities. 

You can listen to the full interview at


I interned for the Pope short story:

In Fall 2019, I interned at the Vatican. I was taking classes at Middlebury College in Vermont, so going to the Vatican twice a week was not easy. All expenses were paid, but the wear and tear from the travel was unappreciated. When I met with my guidance counselor junior year, she told me it was pathetic that I had not interned anywhere yet. When asked what I wanted to do, I said, “I don’t know, but probably not a normal internship.” She had a glimmer in her eye. But it wasn’t a good glimmer. It wasn’t an excited friend glimmer, who was about to blow your surprise birthday party. No. It was the glimmer that said: I have a connection to the pope.

Being a geology major, I never met anyone really exciting at networking events. Usually it was a bunch of old, white guys talking to themselves about their rock collections. Networking events always felt gross anyways. I didn’t need a networking event to land the internship I got. Turns out, my counselor was a classmate of the pope in the sixth grade in Buenos Aires. They stayed in touch, and he had been wanting an intern ever since his papacy began. 

The first few days I worked at the Vatican, I mainly did paperwork and any sort of chore work. Organizing files, getting the pope coffee, things of that nature. On the third week, the pope finally expressed some interest in me. “What’s your name?” I remember him asking. He invited me to mass, but I told him I was Jewish and preferred to not attend. 

Week seven was probably the most stressed I ever was at the Vatican. My girlfriend had dumped me that Monday morning at our favorite diner. I had to get the pancakes to-go. Then on Tuesday, I bombed my Geology 101 midterm and did desomorphine for the first time. Wednesday I flew to the Vatican where the Pope was all in a fuss about his dishes not being cleaned, and I don’t know if it was the desomorphine still in my blood or the constant jet lag or just sheer stupidity, but I dropped and shattered five of his plates. He was fuming, but apparently had to forgive me and whatever. 

Thursday, I was back in Vermont and found out that my now ex-girlfriend had died. She apparently surprised her best friend who was going skydiving. She snuck onto the plane and managed to fall out of the plane, plummeting to the earth. I flew back to the Vatican Friday morning, and Saturday, I attended my ex’s funeral. I’ve always hated surprise parties. 

By week 12, I really thought I wasn’t going to make it. The flight to the Vatican from Vermont is about twelve hours. I was doing that four times a week. My body was breaking down. The dining hall at Middlebury was awful, but the food at the Vatican was even worse. Wednesdays and Fridays all I had was bread and wine. Fridays they had sourdough, which was nice. 

My health was deteriorating mentally, too. My school had suggested I see a therapist, but the only person they could find was in Cincinnati, so I had to fly to Ohio every Sunday for a forty-five minute session. 

Yesterday was my last day at the Vatican. I went to shake the Pope’s hand, but I reached too far and grabbed his wrist. The pope mumbled, “Yikes,” and then he rustled my hair. I left a thank you note on the ottoman, but it was not sincere. He gave me a few communion wafers to take home with me. 

This spring semester I will not be interning. I am waiting tables at my favorite diner. We get free pancakes everyday. And I am never speaking to my guidance counselor again. 


Pictured from left to right: Jake, the pope

Alternatives to Telling People “no”  

  1. Shake your head violently (if in person)

  2. Ignore the text (if over media)

  3. Flee the country

Dr. Jake’s Tips:

If it hurts, give it some rest.

WHY is the month January important?

January is the first month of the year in the Julian and Gregorian calendars and the first of seven months to have a length of 31 days. The first day of the month is known as New Year's Day. It is, on average, the coldest month of the year within most of the Northern Hemisphere (where it is the second month of winter) and the warmest month of the year within most of the Southern Hemisphere (where it is the second month of summer). In the Southern hemisphere, January is the seasonal equivalent of July in the Northern hemisphere and vice versa.

January, from the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry

January (in Latin, Ianuarius) is named after Janus, the god of beginnings and transitions in Roman mythology.

Traditionally, the original Roman calendar consisted of 10 months totaling 304 days, winter being considered a month-less period. Around 713 BC, the semi-mythical successor of Romulus, King Numa Pompilius (known as a dumbass), is supposed to have added the months of January and February, so that the calendar covered a standard lunar year (354 days). Although March was originally the first month in the old Roman calendar, January became the first month of the calendar year either under Numa or under the Decemvirs about 450 BC. In contrast, each specific calendar year was identified by the names of the two consuls, who entered office on May 1 or March 15 until 153 BC, from when they entered office on January 1.

Historical names for January include its original Roman designation, Ianuarius, the Saxon term Wulf-monath (meaning "wolf month") and Charlemagne's designation Wintarmanoth ("winter month"). In Slovene, it is traditionally called prosinec, and no one talks about that. The name, associated with millet bread and the act of asking for something, was first written in 1466 in the Škofja Loka manuscript.

January facts & symbols

Snow on a tree in the month of January

Garnet gemstone

Garnet gemstone
January's birthstone is the garnet, which represents constancy.

Bill Cosby’s New Year’s Resolutions

This list needs citations.

  • Lose 15 pounds

  • Make friends with the guy who brings me food

  • Journal every morning

January observances

This list does not necessarily imply either official status or general observance.

Month-long observances

Food months in the United States

This list does not necessarily imply either official status or general observance.

  • Be Kind to Food Servers Month (by proclamation, State of Tennessee)

  • California Dried Plum Digestive Health Month

  • Hot Tea Month (Start the day with some Earl Gray!!!)

  • National Soup Month

  • Oatmeal Month (cooking is healthier than instant, but who has the time??)

Non-Gregorian observances, 2020 dates

All Baha'i, Islamic, and Jewish observances begin at sundown prior to the date listed, and end at sundown on the date in question.

Movable observances, 2020 dates

This list does not necessarily imply either official status or general observance.

Other observations by Jake & Sam

  • Rice and beans sounds simple to cook, but can occasionally be quite difficult

  • People do not always love you back

  • Getting behind on laundry can lead to losing friends

    Tips for Buying a Calendar:

    I buy a new calendar every year and I’ve never been late for anything in my life and I’m always early.

    Now you can buy your own calendar with these helpful tips...


    Think About What’s Best for Your Space

    Some calendars are big. Some are small. Find out what’s right for your space.


    Learn Something New Every Month

    Make sure to get a calendar that stimulates you intellectually. Inspirational quotes, recipes, famous quotes… these are some of the things calendars can teach us every month.


    Don’t Write on Your Calendar



    Buy Early

    You may be thinking, “I can buy a calendar anytime. There’s no rush.” But you’d be wrong. Calendars start on January 1st, so to get the maximum value and enjoyment of your calendar, buy it on the first of the year.  Don’t sleep on this. Buy early.


    Do Your Research

    A quick Amazon search of calendars will give you seven pages worth of results of calendars. Do your research! Here are a few of our favorites:

    Don’t Use Tape to Hang Up Your Calendar... Use Command Hooks or Thumb Tacks or a Nail Even

    I was at my friend’s house the other day, and I saw that he was using tape to hang up his A Dog’s Purpose calendar. I was livid. Tape is the worst adhesive you can use to hang a calendar. What was especially offensive was that I had bought him Command Hooks on sale that week. I just about screamed and threw out his calendar. 

    “How could you?” I said. “Tape is so ugly and when you change the month and unstick the tape, it rips a little bit of the picture off so it’s not as glossy anymore and there’s a white streak on the picture where the tape used to be. I bought you Command Hooks just so you could hang up your calendar without damaging it in any way. Tape is not intuitive like Command Hooks are. They are designed for ease-of-use above all else, unlike tape. At least use a clear thumb tack that is not distracting, or a small nail if your landlord will let you without losing your security deposit. Anything but tape. You’re an irresponsible calendar owner. The government is going to take away your calendar for using tape. They’re going to put your picture up in every store that sells calendars and beneath it, it is going to say “do not sell this man a calendar because he uses tape to hang it up instead of the Command Hooks I bought him.” Tape is for wrapping presents and boxes, not for hanging calendars onto your wall. You can’t wrap a present with the Command Hooks I bought you, so what are you going to use them for? Hanging up family photos? I’m just so sick of being treated this way, coming over to your house and seeing my gifts being disrespected because you think you know what’s best. Newsflash, buddy, you don’t,” I said.


    Keep it Fresh

    Try a new calendar every year!


    Honorable Mentions: 

    What Fits Your Life?

    Sex Appeal

    A Calendar for Every Room

     Works Cited:

  • Common Knowledge

  • Sam’s Niece


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