Simple Things

These days everyone complains about student loan debt. Some foolish bureaucrats even talk about debt forgiveness, which is laughable. These debts didn’t do anything wrong. Why do they need to be forgiven?

At Pungent Sound Technical College of Technology, we shun people who only complain about problems. We embrace (in an awkward sexual way) people who solve problems. So here are 5 simple things you can do to pay down your student loans.

  1. Each month take your rent money and use it to pay your student loans. It will take your landlord one year (at least) to evict you, and that’s one year of easy payments towards your student loan debt. Mom and dad have a sofa.
  2. Get a loan to pay your student loan. Credit cards are great for this. No collateral required and a low interest rate of 22%. Are your credit cards already maxed out from paying student loans? What about mom’s credit cards?
  3. Get a night job. You don’t have money to go out after working your day job anyway. So now you will have something to do at night.
  4. Stop eating. Inflation has hit food prices hard. You shouldn’t have to put up with that. Imagine how much money you will save if you just cut food from your diet. And you’ll be a skinny legend.
  5. Go to grad school. Is that bachelor’s degree in symbology not working out? Even though you studied under Professor Robert Langdon? Take out another student loan and get a graduate degree in symbology. Robert Langdon did, and he’s doing fine. He teaches at Harvard now and looks like Tom Hanks.
  6. Bonus idea! Whatever you do, don’t lobby Congress to make it easier to discharge student loan debt. We may have encouraged (and frequently helped) you to get these loans, even though we suspected you would never be able to pay them off, but why should we be penalized? Isn’t it enough to just penalize you?

Titmouse Beak, CEO of Pungent Sound Technical College of Technology

Chicken Hawk

Now is not the time for questioning minds.
Now is the time for Bud Light with lime
because thinking is hard and hurts to boot -
that's why you have me; I'm thinking's leisure suit.

Slip me on and see how I fit.
Plenty of room for belly and hip.
Gaudy and garish like the colors of war - 
not that I have ever served before.
No, that's a privilege for others to endure.

I was created to talk non-stop.
You were made to listen without thought
so listen as I glorify a past never seen
and scorch anyone who dares disagree
with a wit fueled by methane gas
and a tongue lodged so far up my ass,
it makes me wobble when I walk
and forces me to bend over when I talk
or when I get enemas of warm liquid mint
because my breath makes garbage men squint.

But these burdens must be borne
if I'm to keep my followers uninformed
and hopefully by the end of my show
there won't be anything for them to know.
So turn the radio on and hear my jingle.
May it give your tiny penis a tiny tingle.

We'll put a boot up your ass -
that's the American way.
Apple pie served with a hand grenade.

Luvgood Carp, Editor-in-Chief

Kazuo Ishiguro’s No Country for Old Men

Listen. Masuji Ono desperately wants to tell you something. He’s still relevant. Time has not forgotten him.

Ono is the beguiling narrator in Mr. Ishiguro’s An Artist of the Floating World. The story opens in Japan in October 1948. The Americans are now in charge, and Japanese society is going through monumental changes. But Ono is focused on successfully negotiating a marriage for his younger daughter. His past may make that difficult. Or it may not. It’s unclear because few people seem to remember him these days. Post-war Japan is moving on without him, and he’s not too happy about that.

At the beginning of his career, Ono was an artist of the floating world – the “night-time world of pleasure, entertainment and drink which formed the backdrop for all our paintings.” He was ambitious. When the imperialists takeover, Ono abandons the floating world and (as he tells it) becomes the center of a group of artists producing “work unflinchingly loyal to his Imperial Majesty the Emperor.”

Ono seems to have had some influence during the 1930s, but Mr. Ishiguro is coy. He never allows the reader to discern how influential Ono actually was. Even in Ono’s self-serving narration, nagging doubts poke through. Ono may simply be deluding himself and as a result unintentionally misleading the listener.

The war allows Ono to excuse and justify his work for the Imperialists: “if your country is at war, you do all you can in support, there’s no shame in that.” Except there might be – especially when you betray friends and colleagues. However, Ono smothers this shame every time it tries to breath.

Despite his arrogance and evasions, Ono is sympathetic. His unflinching support for Imperial Japan did not protect him. His wife died, and his son was killed in a “hopeless charge” across a minefield. He has suffered and done so stoically. He loves his daughters and grandson. But he’s lost in this new Japan. He recognizes (somewhat reluctantly) that the “old spirit may not have always been for the best.” That’s an understatement, but it’s the only kind he can make.

Ono spends much of the story trying to convince the listener, any listener, that he was highly-esteemed at one time. And he may have been. Or he may have just been ordinary – a thought Ono refuses to contemplate. Mr. Ishiguro is a master of the unreliable narrator, and Ono certainly falls in this category. “I cannot recall any colleague who could paint a self-portrait with absolute honesty . . . the personality represented rarely comes near the truth as others would see it.” Is Ono describing a colleague or (unwittingly) himself?

Gladiola Overdrive, Chief Editor

A Portrait of the Pretend Poet as an Old Man

And then the flatulence -
as always, without warning,
permission or consideration.
It cares not whether I am surrounded
by friends or strangers
in a stuffy room
where winter prohibits
windows from being opened.

Or whether I'm in a compact car
filled with awkward silence
and Serena -
a winter woman
I was trying to seduce.

If only I could be a cow
in a rolling meadow
carpeted with buttercups.
Cows aren't bothered by flatulent friends.
They find nothing funny 
about the lack of control age inflicts.
Cows, with their wise, soulful eyes,
know nothing dignified happens near the end.

Luvgood Carp, Editor-in-Chief

But I Don’t Want to Talk About This

You may have noticed recently that society is really messed up. This is a new situation that only started thousands of years ago. Fortunately, Cardinal Timothy Dolan (the 72 year old archbishop of New York) has the answer. In his opinion piece published on FoxNews.com (7/24/22 @ 7:00 a.m. EDT), Cardinal Dolan writes “Why is society in trouble? Here is the simple one-word answer.” It’s God (spoiler alert). The simple one-word answer is God.

But that confused me because I couldn’t figure out why Cardinal Dolan would say God is the reason society is in trouble. Upon reading the editorial, I realized the title is misleading, and Cardinal Dolan is actually saying God is the solution to society’s problems. As an aside, Cardinal Dolan uses a lot of words to answer a question that he says can be answered with just one word.

But I don’t want to talk about superficial reasoning and facile conclusions. I want to comment on how refreshing it is to finally get the perspective of White men in their seventies. They truly are the future, and we need their voices now more than ever. Where have they been hiding? Why so shy? How do we create an environment where they feel comfortable sharing their simple one-word answers?

Tengo Leche, Social Anxiety Scholar

Becoming William

Having written a poem
I now realize
I am a genius.
So I take what I want
and need not ask forgiveness -
because I do these things for you,
dear reader.

I have stolen William's plums -
the ones he originally 
stole himself. 
I devoured them.
They were, indeed, delicious
so sweet and so cold.

But I need not ask forgiveness.
His plums nourished me
as my sweet lyrics now nourish you,
dear reader.

I watched another William 
as he plucked silver and golden apples
and when he bent over
to put them in his sack
I plucked him.

I plucked him good and hard
and for a long time.
Then I trampled his dappled grass.

But I need not ask forgiveness.
His apples sustained me
as these graceful notes now sustain you, 
dear reader.

I heard a third William
as he obsessed about his stewed prunes,
which had caused him to grow horns
where his rapidly receding hair had been.

I grabbed his wrinkled prunes
and squeezed the sour juice.
From that weak stream
I concocted a cocktail,
which I drink to his health 
even as he steams in the stew.

But I need not ask forgiveness.
His prunes seduced me, 
as these charming melodies now seduce you,
dear reader.

I shall now write my second poem.
It will be a sonnet.

Luvgood Carp, Editor-in-Chief

Amen, Sister

When a politician is audacious enough to tell the truth regardless of the consequences, that politician should be recognized and congratulated. So congratulations U.S. Representative Lauren Boebert! As reported in The Washington Post (6/28/22), Boebert recently spoke at a church service where she confessed, “I’m tired of this separation of church and state junk.”

To that, I say “Amen, sister.” There is absolutely no legitimate reason for separating your church and state junk. It’s inefficient. And the garbage truck takes it all to the same place anyway. So bravo, Representative Boebert, for trying to end this nonsense.

After clearly stating her deeply-held beliefs on recycling, Boebert (in a curious non sequitur ) then added, “the church is supposed to direct the government. The government is not supposed to direct the church.” I don’t know what that has to do with recycling, but non sequitur be damned! I could not agree more.

So that just leaves the easy stuff. Like which church is going to direct the government? Fortunately, we have lots to choose from: the Catholic Church, dozens of Baptist Churches, the Church of Latter Day Saints, the Church of Scientology. Do synagogues, mosques, and temples qualify as churches? I certainly hope so, because then we’d have even more options.

We should probably get moving on this. Because once we pick the right church, I am sure harmony will reign forever.

Saffron Crow, Chief Editor-in-Chief

Black Sun – We Aren’t in Narnia Anymore

Black Sun is the first book in Rebecca Roanhorse’s Between Earth and Sky fantasy series, and it does exactly what it’s supposed to do: make you want to read the second book. The story opens with 12-year old Serapio being blinded by his mother – yeah, no Mother’s Day roses for her. She tells Serapio his blinding is necessary because “Human eyes lie. You must learn to see the world with more than this faulty organ.” Fair enough. But isn’t there an easier way to teach this lesson? Apparently not in the Meridian – the world where this story is set. Especially when the mother’s ultimate goal is to turn Serapio into a god. She’s not interested in roses.

This is 10 years before the Convergence – a “day when the sun, moon, and earth align, and the moon’s shadow devours the sun.” Order moves to chaos and back to order again. But during this transition, order is vulnerable and chaos can overthrow it. The Watchers are tasked with maintaining the “balance between what is above and what is below.” However, rumor has it they are corrupt and weak. Seeds of rebellion have been thrown on fertile ground.

The story jumps to 20 days before the Convergence, and a daughter of the sea, Xiala, has been tasked with transporting Serapio to Tova (the Meridian’s holy city) in time for the Convergence. It’s an arduous journey across water, and the crew is disgruntled. But Xiala has mystical powers. She should not be trifled with.

Serapio has been trained as a warrior and now has magical powers of his own. His destiny is to battle the Watchers. He will be formidable. The story ends on the day of the Convergence. The battle is beyond bloody, but the outcome is unclear.

Black Sun is stellar. It has all the elements of a traditional epic, but it also pulls from many myths outside Western Europe. Ms. Roanhorse’s the Meridian is no Camelot, Middle Earth, or Narnia. In those fantasy worlds, there is an obvious divide between good and evil. In Black Sun, it is opaque. The story is told from several points of view. Some characters think Serapio is a hero, while many consider him a villain. So are these constructs meaningless because they are subjective? Such a thought would cause C.S. Lewis to crap his pants.

Near the end Ms. Roanhorse writes: “tell me your stories so that I might know who you are and what you value.” She clearly values an expansive epic – one that includes matriarchal societies, gender fluidity, and bisexuality. She also treasures interesting world-building, complex characters, and great story telling.

Gladiola Overdrive, Chief Editor

Avoiding Death Through Boredom

I would like to commend the long list of celebrities who have decided to renounce their U.S. citizenship and move to another country because they disagree with recent political developments. They are right to be concerned, but that is not why I want to commend them. They should be commended because none of them actually do it. They get all the benefits of appearing virtuous without any of the burdens. It’s brilliant.

I, too, am rich and famous. It’s awesome. I recommend it to everyone. The United States, quite simply, is the best country in the world – if you are rich and famous.

Being rich and famous allows me the time and luxury of being outraged on behalf of other people – particularly those poor things who have no time or luxury. It allows me to exercise the greatest privilege of all: virtue signaling without any accountability.

So I, too, hereby join the long list of celebrities who say they are renouncing their U.S. citizenship and moving to a more virtuous country. And just like them, I will stay put (in my Greenwich mansion overlooking Long Island Sound where I can do anything I want because I am rich and famous). After all, I’m not stupid. Just try finding a virtuous country that isn’t deadly boring.

Knowgood Carp, Owner of all the Hotels on Block Island (and Some in Connecticut).