“Not on the Test” by Tom Chapin

The singer-songwriter Tom Chapin (with help from John Forster) has written a very insightful (and funny) song called “Not on the Test” about all the things that you won’t find on standardized test.

You find the song at National Public Radio’s site.

I particularly liked a few verses, such as:

“Each box that you mark on
Each test that you take
Remember your teachers –
Their jobs are at stake
Your score is their score
But don’t get all stressed
They’d never teach anything
not on the test.”


” Debate is a skill
That is useful to know
Unless you’re in Congress
or talk radio
Where shouting and spouting
and spewing are blessed
‘Cause rationale discourse
was not on the test.”

Peace (in multiple choice options),

Comics, again

I know I am on a Comic Strip kick lately and I can’t explain it, but the artist (Tim Rickard) who does the strip called Bewster Rocket: Space Guy (it makes fun of the whole sci-fi genre, along the lines of Futurama) is doing something very interesting with the storyline. The main character, a goofball Brewster, has been sent into a Third Dimension — the Comic Page.

The artist superimposes Brewster “outside” of the story narrative and comic boxes and the character is both observing the storyline and commenting on the comic characters that he “see” in the other comic strips around him. It is very funny, in a post-modern kind of way.

(from http://www.comicspage.com/brewster/brewster.html)

Peace (in the third dimension),

The Genres of Superheroes and Playing Cards

My two older sons (eight years old and six years old) got into a superhero kick this weekend and they began making a ton of Superhero trading cards based on our family. What was interesting to me is how closely they figured out both the genre of superheroes (they all have a strength and a weakness, and an alias) and playing cards (complete with a picture on one side and some stats and info on the other). I wonder what kind of cards my students would make in writing class? (hmmm)


Here are some of our Superhero Family stats:

Name: SuperDad (who carried a guitar as a weapon)
Power: Playing anymusical instrument
Weakness: Having his instrument destroyed
Team: Band

Name: SuperMom (whose picture shows her having about 6 arms)
Power: To make 1,000,000 suppers at once
Weakness: A messy room

Name: SuperBella (our dog)
Power: To run faster than light
Weakness: Taking a bath

Name: SuperColtrane (our cat)
Power: To scratch
Weakness: Not being let in the house in the morning

Peace (through the use of superpowers),

Time: More Google Products

You might notice I read through a lot of magazines …

In the recent Time magazine, there is a very funny back-section feature by Evan Eisenberg that pokes fun at the idea of a Google-Universe (it all started with the Big Search) by offering up possible future Google products.

Here are a few that made me giggle:

  • Ex-Search — Find out if they are seeing anyone
  • Oogle — Stare for hours without seeming rude
  • Beagle — Find your lost dog
  • Fruedgle — Search your unconscious mind
  • Gray Matter — Map the death of your brain cells in real time
  • Blobber — Impose your consciousness on the rest of humanity — it’s easy, fast and free!
  • Garble — Translate ordinary speech into legalese, adspeak, Bushspeak and dozens more
  • Walkie — Use your mobile phone in real time to decide which foot to move next

You can access the real article here.


Old Radio Shows

I was moving through some links provided by a friend, Glen B., from Oregon (who is developing some great online lessons around digital storytelling, podcasting and other Read/Write applications) and one of his links took me to a great site that archives some old radio programs from the Golden Days of Radio.

It reminded me of one of the very first vinyl records I ever received — a copy of a Flash Gordon radio show and I used to listen to the hiss of the show in the darkness of my room, transported to the planets which Flash is exploring.


What was wonderful is that it gave me an opportunity to have my young sons listen to the Abbott and Costello skit about Who’s On First — they had heard of it but never heard the actual bit.

Abbott and Costello and Who’s On First radio broadcast

Want to find all the old archives? Remember Buck Rogers? Flash Gordon? Well, I really don’t but I like to listen to some of the old voices.

Go to RadioLovers for all the info


Areas of His Expertise: Hoboes

John Hodgman, who is now one of the cast members of The Daily Show, published a funny and slightly bizarre book called The Areas of My Expertise, which is a fake almanac of such “facts” as the history of lobster racing, the emergence of new cons such as The Pajama Man, and interesting tidbits about each state in the US, including the moveable and intangible 51st state known as Ar. (Don’t ask).

Hodgman also spends quite a bit of time (and kills a few trees with the pages he uses) on the topic of hoboes, including a list of about 700 names of famous hoboes through time and some are just laugh-out loud funny.

Here are a few:

  • Holden the Expert Dreamtwister
  • Mr. Wilson Fancypants
  • All-But-Dissertation Tucker Dummychuck
  • “X” the anonymous man or woman
  • MeepMeep, the Italian Tailor
  • Freak Le Freak, the Freakster
  • Patrick Galactic
  • Achilles Snail-Hair, the Buddha
  • Rubbery Dmitry, the Mad Monk
  • Sung, the Land Pirate
  • Franklin Ape and his Inner Ear Infection
  • Rumpshaker Phil
  • Blind Buck and “Woozy,” the invisible seeing eye dog