Anthem: Coming Soon to Netflix

The back cover of Noah Hawley’s Anthem informs the reader “[t]his isn’t a fairy tale.” The admonition is repeated inside the covers as well. This is either clever misdirection or false advertising, because the story has a wizard, witch, Orcs, goblins, ghosts, and trolls. Despite the presence of strong female characters and an appealing ethnic diversity that looks like America, this tale is as conventional as it gets: a ragtag group of heroes goes on a quest to save a damsel-in-distress. So don’t be deceived or misdirected. This is a fairy tale, and it was written with Hollywood in mind.

Now wait a minute, Gladiola. How can you say that? You don’t know the writer personally. You haven’t pissed with his penis. To which I reply: true, gross, and that’s not how the saying goes.

This is how I know. All the adults are evil and selfish, and the ragtag heroes are sexy teenagers. But, wait, there’s more. Unlike any teenagers you or I know, they immediately cooperate with each other (even though most of them have never met before) and (though they have no training in combat) they are able to take on a group of professionally-trained mercenaries. Sounds like Hollywood’s youth fetish to me. Plus, Mr Hawley’s background is in television and film.

All this should not suggest the story is bad. As a traditional quest narrative, it succeeds. It’s a page turner. But it is also a vision of contemporary society as seen through Hollywood’s dark, expensive sunglasses. Everyone is one dimensional. The heroes have backstories designed to pluck every heartstring three or more times. All the monsters are irredeemably evil and pulled from today’s headlines. The wizard is a pedophile modeled after Jeffrey Epstein. But he is so sexually cannibalistic, Epstein’s perversions appear quaint by comparison. One family resembles the Sacklers of Purdue Pharma infamy. But the fictional version is so greedy and selfish, the Sacklers come across as pickpockets. Donald Trump does not appear in the story, but he is constantly referred to. Except here he is not a sore loser ex-president, he is a God King – something only Trump himself would believe.

Mr. Hawley never preaches. His skills are more formidable. He screams. He rubs the reader’s face in bromides – all of them variants of WHAT IS WRONG WITH ALL THE ADULTS IN AMERICA! Many things, obviously. But perhaps not as many as Mr. Hawley would have us believe.

I am not discouraging you from reading this book if you are so inclined. It’s a fine fairy tale. However, you could simply wait for it to come out on Netflix.

Gladiola Overdrive, Chief Editor

Reading to My Son’s Class on Dead Poets Day

Mind you, most parents would pick
a stupid Seuss story and read it quick,
but those were things read long ago
when TVs had rabbit ears and winters snow.
Now kids understand the value of time
and their tastes for entertainment are far more refined.

Kids love poetry; they love to tell jokes,
and since this is about them, I've decided to do both.
So in honor of the day, I say
we must find a poet to put in a grave.

The kids look up, startled a bit,
but I assure them it's easy because poets aren't fit
so the odds of one winning a fight are slim
and I wink at the teacher as there's a bit of the poet in him.

I then recite The Walrus and the Buffalo
because kids love aged men who are full of woe,
which brings me next to Sylvia Plath
because that crazy bitch always makes me laugh.

Then I get an idea that's so sublime.
But would it be indulgent to read one of mine?
I could because I've written quite a few
and it would only be indulgent if I read them two.

Once I have finished speaking my lines
I realize fifty minutes wasn't enough time.
But the teacher jumps saying I must be on my way
and I leave to the acclaim only silence can convey.

Luvgood Carp, Editor-in-Chief


Happy Birthday, Chump

My barber is always enthusiastic when I pay her with cash. I gather it’s easier for her to pay taxes that way. Needing a haircut, I went to the bank this morning, and the ATM wished me a Happy Birthday Month. To convey how happy it was, the ATM displayed a picture of a dog. And that dog could not contain his joy about this being my birthday month. He was frozen in mid-air with a doggie-biscuit-eating grin as if he was going to sniff my butt for hours, and he just knew I would be into it.

It almost gave me a warm feeling. Then I remembered how I previously had 2 car loans with this bank. When I had enough money to pay off one of the loans early, I estimated the necessary amount and paid it. I am bad at math and overpaid by $267.00. But I was not concerned. I assumed the overage would be applied to the other car loan. Silly birthday boy with the wet nose-accommodating butt cheeks.

The bank made its own assumptions and concluded I intentionally overpaid the loan because I wanted the bank to open a savings account for me. Then it started automatically deducting a $3.00 penalty every month from the account because the amount was too small. When I complained, the manager pointed to the small print on page 7 of the loan agreement – the one I never read. It explained why the birthday-butt-sniffing dog was so happy.

Tengo Leche, Social Anxiety Scholar

Each Spring Beckons Me Out the Door

A fuzzy pink sweater adorns the cherry tree
and all the ladies half my age are smiling at me.

Or so it seems -
maybe they're just smiling near me.
It's hard to see with such watery eyes,
as if I'm looking through melting ice.

Each spring beckons me out the door,
but I'm moving slower than the year before
and can't keep up as the ladies walk past.
When did these women get so fast? 
 
Luvgood Carp, Editor-in-Chief

Top Poetry Blogs

We are thrilled to announce that Pungent Sound Journal of Pulp Poetry was selected by Feedspot as one of the Top 100 Poetry Blogs on the web. Because deep down we here at Pungent Sound are really just a bunch of 12 year olds, we had hoped to land at 69. Alas, that was not to be.

If you would like to see some great poetry blogs (and ours too), you can click here. https://blog.feedspot.com/poetry_blogs/

Luvgood Carp, Editor-in-Chief

Hootin’ for Putin

We are thrilled to announce Vladimir Putin has won the 2022 Orwell Peace Prize for eradicating war.  When he directed the Russian military to justifiably invade Ukraine because it didn’t want to be his friend with benefits, he could have easily called it a war.  It certainly looks like one.  But that would have been so cliché. 

Instead, he has called it a special operation and made the word “war” illegal to use.  That’s brilliant!  He has single-handedly outlawed war.  And the rest of us are left dumbfounded wondering why no one thought of this before.  Such dedication to the non-passive pursuit of peace leaves us hootin’ for Putin.

But there’s more. When you’re involved in a special operation, there are no war casualties.  How could there be?  So you don’t have to worry about math or keeping track of the dead, because soldiers only die in a war – as well as children, women, and men.  Special operations are bloodless.  Mr. Putin said so. 

Treacherous Gulp, Esquire – Judge, Orwell Peace Prize and Counsel for Pungent Sound Technical College of Technology

Introducing Shakespeare’s Wife

The title of Maggie O’Farrell’s book, Hamnet, informs you the story is about Hamnet Shakespeare. The hanging descriptor below the title disagrees. It says this is A Novel of the Plague. Both are disgusting lies.

OK – perhaps that’s an over-reaction. Ms. O’Farrell’s story does mention Hamnet and the plague frequently, but this is Anne Hathaway’s story, even though in the novel she is referred to as Agnes – the name her father called her. And as with Shakespeare’s comedies and tragedies where the women are the most intriguing characters (with the exceptions of King Lear and Hamlet), Agnes is the star.

Agnes is a healer. She specializes in herbs and natural remedies. Her uncommon knowledge and skills are welcome and worrisome. To the Stratford villagers, it is known that Agnes is “fierce and savage, that she puts curses on people, that she can cure anything but also cause anything.” Shakespeare’s mother describes Agnes as “[t]his creature, this woman, this elf, this, sorceress, this forest sprite”. So she’s a feminist.

To Shakespeare, she is “peerless”. But she is not to be trifled with. She is “[s]omeone who knows everything about you, before you even know it yourself. Someone who can just look at you and divine your deepest secrets, just with a glance.”

Hamnet is a slow burn. It is set mostly in a sleepy and suffocating (for Shakespeare) Stratford. At times the story drags, but the themes of motherhood and grief are vital. They drive the story to a touching and satisfying conclusion.

So much mythology surrounds Shakespeare, but little is actually known about him. Much less is known about his family. This gives a talented novelist like Ms. O’Farrell an advantage. She can create these characters, make them real, and no one can quibble with her. Wisely, she never mentions Shakespeare’s name. That would only distract the reader with the myth. And this story isn’t about him anyway.

Gladiola Overdrive, Chief Editor

Empty Boxes for Cats

Inconceivable!
Did he not see the signs?

I am sure that he did.
Still, he refused to comply.

Did you politely ask him to stop?

I certainly did,
and he said he would not.
Instead he mocked me much more,
did a lewd dance - 
called my mother a whore.

Inconceivable!
He can't insult people here.
It's simply not allowed -
the signs make it perfectly clear.
And your mom's not a ho.
Has he even met her?
Is there something he may know?

Oh, he knew what he was doing.
He saw the signs and smirked.
Then the profanity started spewing.

But the signs should have kept him away -
like empty boxes ward off cats
and old people avoid Tampa Bay.
Why does he keep saying such vile stuff?
Could it be the signs aren't big enough?

Luvgood Carp, Editor-in-Chief

Harlem Hustle

So Colson Whitehead knows how to tell a story, and Harlem Shuffle is a great one. The novel opens in 1959, jumps to 1961, and wraps up in 1964. It is a time of intense transition in New York City, as is obvious by all the people jettisoning their radios and buying TVs. And the changes are chaotic and violent, as is evident by the 1964 race riots in Harlem. But this is nothing new. It is always a time of intense transition in New York City, and the changes are always chaotic and frequently violent.

Carney owns a furniture store in Harlem. That’s his legitimate business. His side hustle is less legitimate. He fences the odd piece of jewelry or electronics for his cousin, Freddie, and a few other small-time thieves. Just to be clear, however, in a city where cops, successful businessmen, politicians, and everyone else is corrupt, Carney is “only slightly bent when it [comes] to being crooked.”

Freddie gets him involved in a heist of the Hotel Theresa, which is a sacred place in Harlem. Robbing it is tantamount to “taking a piss on the Statue of Liberty.” The insult is magnified because they rob it on Juneteenth. That kind of bad karma is a snapping turtle. It bites hard and doesn’t let go.

This starts a chain of events over the next several years that has Carney trying to survive his judgment-impaired cousin, corrupt White cops, disingenuous light-skinned Black businessmen, and the descendants of Dutch families who originally “bought” the island and think they still own it. Carney is the ultimate underdog relying on his wits and guts to survive, and the reader can’t help but root for him.

Survival is a major theme. “Black people always found a way in the most miserable circumstances. If we didn’t, we’d have been exterminated by the white man long ago.” So is revenge. When Carney’s application to the Dumas Club is rejected (because he is too dark-skinned and can’t pass the paper bag test), he goes after its leader, Wilfred Dukes. Not because he was excluded from Harlem’s most exclusive business club, but because Dukes encouraged him to give a “sweetener”, which Carney believes should have guaranteed his admission. The club is named for Alexandre Dumas, whose father was a French army officer and whose mother was a Haitian slave. Dumas wrote the most famous revenge story of all time – The Count of Monte Cristo. So that’s wonderful, and so is Carney’s revenge.

But the real story is how Carney deals with the consequences of the Hotel Theresa heist. Can his wits save him and Freddie? The novel ends at the construction site for the future World Trade Center (the Twin Towers). So more transitions are on the way. And they will be intense, chaotic, and violent.

Gladiola Overdrive, Chief Editor

Dr. Emoji

My wife was making coffee
when the beast flopped on her head
so she screamed and she shook
and I jumped out of bed
to find a leather-clad succubus
spread-eagle on the floor
so I quickly grabbed my broom
and swept it out the door.

Then I gave my wife a tactful kiss, 
before recalling that's a mistake
because every time I touch her lips
my stomach starts to ache.

In the bathroom brushing my teeth
foam gushed down my chin.
It made a frothy bubble beard,
and my head started to spin.

So I hurried to the computer,
went to WhatsWrongWithMeMD,
typed all my ails in a tiny box 
and clicked on the medic emoji
who quickly appeared to look at my face,
and without pausing for thought
said I have herpes, rickets, or rabies
and atrophy in a private spot.

So here I am at urgent who cares
answering why, what, and where
when Dr. Emoji has already seen me
and says I have no time to spare.

Luvgood Carp, Editor-in-Chief