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May 2021 comes to a close with 24 articles and five full newsletters here at The New Leaf Journal. Below, I recap the best of our May 2021 content and note some things to look forward to as we transition from spring to summer in June. I will also briefly look back at our May 2020 content since one year ago we had not yet started writing month-in-review posts.

Illustration of ducks taking off and landing from "Ducks at a Distance: A Waterfoul Identification Guide" (1978) by Bob Hines
Ducks – from “Ducks at a Distance: A Waterfoul Identification Guide” (1978) by Bob Hines

Before continuing, I note that this month in review post falls on Memorial Day, a special occasion for remembering the thousands of Americans, young and old, who have died while fighting for their country. I hope that everyone has a happy and peaceful Memorial Day, and takes a moment to remember those for whom the day exists to remember. I posted brief pieces for Memorial Day 2021 and 2020.

Notable May 2021 Articles

May was a busy month for me outside The New Leaf Journal. For that reason, many of our articles – especially in the second half of May – are shorter pieces. I did not trade length for quality, however (or so I hope), so I fully recommend viewing our complete monthly archive. Below, I will list six May articles for special mention.

Hatchling and Danbo Have a Piano Recital

By N.A. Ferrell. May 1, 2021.

Full Article.

I happened across a hatching toy and a Danbo holding an impromptu piano recital outside a barn. Either that or I staged the whole thing and took photographs. Regardless of the backstory, this was our first photo-story piece at The New Leaf Journal. I expect to see more of them in the very new future.

Toward the end of the month, I published more typical photograph-based articles with pictures from Vinegar Hill, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and Grace Court in Brooklyn Heights.

Around the Web With Four May Issues of The Nursery Magazine

By N.A. Ferrell. May 2, 2021.

Full Article.

The Nursery Magazine was a children’s magazine published in the nineteenth century. On May 2, 2021, I took some of the best articles from four May issues of the magazine published between 1873 and 1881 (inclusive). Children’s magazines were very well-written then, and the stories and poems that I selected for the article are all quite charming.

The Nice Boat 〜 A Look Back at the School Days Anime

By N.A. Ferrell. May 6, 2021.

Full Article.

I had been teasing an article about the infamous School Days anime for about a year. This terrible project was prompted by my New Leaf Journal colleague, Victor V. Gurbo, having made a reference to the series in a May 6, 2020 article. What is the School Days anime? Why is it infamous? Settle in for a long read with many screenshots to find out. My article includes almost every possible spoiler, but remember that I watched School Days to spare you from having to do so.

Anna Jarvis and the Origin of Mother’s Day in the United States

By N.A. Ferrell. May 9, 2021.

Full Article.

I decided to examine the history of Mother’s Day for Mother’s Day. Not knowing much going in, I scoured newspaper articles from the earliest twentieth century to learn about the movement to make Mother’s Day a national holiday and about the first observances of the occasion. Among the newspaper articles that I discuss is a 1910 piece from an Australian newspaper about the first Mother’s Day down under. This was my most research-intensive article since my March piece on the mystery of tsuki ga kirei.

Justin & Justina 〜 The Existential Angst of the Yappy Dog

By N.A. Ferrell. May 18, 2021.

Full Article.

It is one thing to be tormented by a perennially yappy dog. It is another thing to be disturbed by an intangible darkness in said yappy dog’s yelp. In this dialogue, Justin and Justina try to get to the bottom of the darkness.

Justin and Justina also had an earlier May dialogue on the matter of caring for, and naming, a pet guinea pig.

“The Blind Girl and the Spring” 〜 A Poem by Sydney Grey

By N.A. Ferrell. May 21, 2021.

Full Article.

Bringing long-lost old magazine poems to a broader audience has been a bit of a project of mine here at The New Leaf Journal in 2021. Sydney Grey’s The Blind Girl and the Spring may be my favorite poem discovery yet. In addition to the poem, enjoy the painting that I used to illustrate the poem and some clever formatting to present the poem to you similarly to how it appeared when it was originally published.

New Editions of The Newsletter Leaf Journal

We mailed five newsletters in May 2021. You will find the links below:

I made some improvements to the newsletter in May.

  • Moved the newsletter from Sunday to Saturday.
  • Began including six article recommendations from around the web with each newsletter.
  • Added a new section for site news, general notes, and newsletter-exclusive anecdotes.

If you like what you see, we offer three ways to follow the newsletter. You can subscribe to the newsletter via email or add the newsletter’s RSS feed to your favorite feed reader. Both of these methods are accessible from our newsletter sign-up page. Alternatively, you can also view our archive to read all of our published newsletters.

I am continuing to work to improve the newsletter to ensure that it not only keeps you up to date on The New Leaf Journal, but also makes for (and recommends) good reading in its own right.

A Look Back at May 2020

May 2020 was a busy month at The New Leaf Journal, featuring 30 articles in total. Because we did not have month in review posts yet, I thought that the conclusion of May 2021 would be as good a time as any to look back at our content from one year ago. Below, I will note eight articles from May 2020. You can see the full 30-article archive for the content that I do not cover.

Against Half-Way Yogurt Thievery

By N.A. Ferrell. May 2, 2020.

Full Article.

My first byline at The New Leaf Journal was for an essay about people engaging in partial yogurt theft at grocery stores. Of course it was.

The Quarantine Sessions: “Love Henry”

By V. Gurbo. May 6, 2020.

Full Article.

Victor V. Gurbo covered the classic folk ballad, Love Henry, in two ways. First, he covered the song along with the talented Mark Caserta, who turned their performance into an endearing video included with the article. Second, Victor discussed the history of Love Henry. His referencing the School Days anime inspired the article that I would publish exactly one year later.

“I’m a Little Maxed Out on Existentialism”

By N.A. Ferrell. May 10, 2020.

Full Article.

I have told the story of the quoted line, which I had overheard on the street, for fifteen years. After starting The New Leaf Journal, I was able to publish the story. I still think illustrating the short piece with a photograph of a past-its-prime potato was one of my best artistic decisions at The New Leaf Journal.

Welcome to The Emu Café

By N.A. Ferrell. May 16, 2020.

Full Article.

I introduced The Emu Café section of The New Leaf Journal in this short post. Not that I rank my content, but it is still one of my favorite New Leaf Journal pieces – especially the opening paragraph.

Insomnia Diaries: TikTok and Lucille Bogan

By V. Gurbo. May 19, 2020.

Full Article.

Victor described learning about the profane, arguably obscene, song lyrics of Lucille Bogan on TikTok. (Stop using TikTok, Victor.) In his essay on the subject, he explained that The New Leaf Journal is a family site – something that we periodically cite back to.

Against Chinese Government Propaganda

By N.A. Ferrell. May 24, 2020.

Full Article.

I think it holds up very well one year later.

The Last Stand of Constantine XI

By N.A. Ferrell. May 30, 2020.

Full Article.

My piece on the final days and last stand of the Eastern Roman Empire and its last Emperor, Constantine XI, continues to rank among the most-read New Leaf Journal articles today (see next section). I am glad that there is so much interest in the story of courage against great odds.

The Trees Leaf in May

By N.A. Ferrell. May 31, 2020.

Full Article.

My final piece of May 2020 covered the definition of “leaf” as a transitive verb and the usage example “the trees leaf in May.” I published a play on the “leaf in May” sentence almost one year later.

Most-Read Content in May 2021

Below, you will find our list of most-read articles from May 1 through May 31. We use statistics gathered by our privacy-friendly analytics solution, Koko Analytics. Next to each item on the list, I will note how its position has changed since April. You can see our April rankings in the previous monthly review post.

  1. The Mystery of Sōseki and Tsuki ga Kirei. By N.A. Ferrell. March 14, 2021. (Change: +6)
  2. Persona 4 Golden Digital Artbook Review (Steam). By N.A. Ferrell. Nov. 15, 2020. (Change: +1)
  3. Reviewing the HALOmask and är Mask. By V. Gurbo. Dec. 2, 2020. (Change: -2)
  4. The Last Stand of Constantine XI. By N.A. Ferrell. May 28, 2020. (Change: +1)
  5. An Early Review of Pixelfed – Instagram Alternative. By N.A. Ferrell. Nov. 13, 2020. (Change: -1)
  6. Around the Web 〜 RSS as a Facebook Alternative. By N.A. Ferrell. Feb. 21, 2021. (Change: -4)
  7. The Enigmatic Life and Death of Emperor Otho. By N.A. Ferrell. April 18, 2021. (Change: NEW +10)
  8. Usagi Drop 〜 A Complicated Anime Pick. By N.A. Ferrell. Jan. 19, 2021. (Change: NEW +4)
  9. Blob Dylan(?) Seen in Bushwick. By N.A. Ferrell. Feb. 5, 2021. (Change: NEW +7)
  10. Why Vintage Guitars Sound Better. By V. Gurbo. Jan. 4, 2021. (Change: -1)

My piece on the history of Tsuki ga Kirei began picking up readers in earnest toward the end of April, and the trend continued into May, posting the strongest monthly numbers of any article that was not about RSS feeds and not featured in the Hacker News top 10 in March (very specific, I know). My year-old piece on Constantine XI surged at the end of May on the anniversary of the fall of Constantinople. Since the anniversary comes every year, I will count this as evergreen content.

Spots 7-9 featured new articles in our top 10. My 18,000+ word study of the life and death of Otho makes its first appearance in the top 10 in its first full month online. An Usagi Drop anime review, which I published in January, easily made the top 10 this month after coming up just short in March. When I published an article about Blob Dylan graffiti in Bushwick in early February, I did not expect that there would be much interest in the subject. I have found, however, that this graffiti is appearing in cities all over the country. Who knew?

As some of our newer articles establish themselves in search indexes and other articles slowly increase their ranks, we will see whether June has any surprises in store for New Leaf Journal content.

Looking Forward to June 2021

I plan to finish reorganizing The New Leaf Journal’s category structure in June. We will have a more robust system of categories with a number of topic-specific categories for subjects that have a decent number of articles. This, combined with our archive and series pages, should make it easier for readers to find content that interests them.

While I have not decided on every piece of content that I will post in June 2021, I do have some ideas. I plan to do multiple visual novel reviews as part of my Altogether visual novel review project (see our first review from early May) and at least one book review that I had originally planned to work on in May. I have two anime pieces in the pipeline, and plan to write a new history article to usher in a history sub-category. Because last June was eventful at The New Leaf Journal – featuring a move to our current WordPress theme and some caching issues, I may look back at those events now that one year has passed.

As always, you can expect some summer-themed content when the season officially changes from spring (see the piece I wrote for the beginning of Spring in March).

My colleague, Victor V. Gurbo, is working on a couple of interesting New Leaf Journal projects that may be ready for publication in June.

Thank You For Reading and Following The New Leaf Journal

Thank you, as always, for reading and following The New Leaf Journal. I enjoyed posting our May content and I look forward to focusing on some key site improvements in June as we approach the half-way mark of 2021.