Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Hail Hydra

This is it.  For better or for worse, the forces of evil have us now. Take a deep breath.  Remember your training.  Serve you well, it could.  Good luck everyone!  If you need some last minute tips, try here:

Hail Hydra!

See you next year!

What? You still want a final question?  O.K., in the opening lines of this post, there is a reference to what Yoda told Luke Skywalker right before he left to fight Vader for the first time.  What do we call those references?

a. hyperbole
b. allusion
c. symbolism
d. archetype

Scroll down for the answer.

The answer is b. allusion of course!

And for you nerds out there (no offense meant as I am one obviously myself), I know I mixed Marvel and Star Wars references in this post, but since Disney owns them both, I figure it's fair.  Now, if we could just convince Disney to buy out the NC State Testing Service....

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

A Lesson on the Birds and the Bees Part 2

Read the following passage:

     It would be a never-ending if not hopeless task to try to assemble into anything less than several volumes all the misinformation regarding pregnancy.  But certainly some of the most common myths can be exploded.  Old wives' tales abound, of course: that eating ice cream will cause the baby to "catch cold"; that the baby may be "marked" if the mother is frightened; that getting the feet wet will flood the baby with "water"; that reaching for something on a top shelf will wrap the umbilical cord around the baby's neck, and so on and so on.
     None of the above is true.  Nor is it so that broad-hipped women necessarily have easier births than the narrow-hipped -- it's internal, not external, measurements that count.  Nor will wearing high heel cause cross-eyed children, though some actually believe this.
Based on the above passage, what is the author's tone toward those who believe the old wives' tales?

a. incredulous
b. he feels it is all good fun
c. he feels it is harmful for the baby
d. it is a part of the pregnancy culture and should be embraced, but not taken too seriously

Scroll down for the answer.

There are a few words and phrases that really clue us in on the author's tone (or point of view as the MSL may (incorrectly) call it).  He says these myths can be exploded, he calls them old wives' tales, he refers the many myths as "so on and so on," and, the most telling of all, he says, "though some actually believe this."

This lets us know that the author really does not like these myths and does not understand why anyone would believe them.  That rules out b. and even d.  Since he doesn't mention any harmful effects of this belief, we can rule out c.  That leaves us with the correct answer - a. incredulous, which, by the way, means hard to believe.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Why Did I Ever Teach This Book?

Read these opening paragraphs of The Scarlet Letter:

A throng of bearded men, in sad-coloured garments and grey steeple-crowned hats, inter-mixed with women, some wearing hoods, and others bareheaded, was assembled in front of a wooden edifice, the door of which was heavily timbered with oak, and studded with iron spikes.

The founders of a new colony, whatever Utopia of human virtue and happiness they might originally project, have invariably recognised it among their earliest practical necessities to allot a portion of the virgin soil as a cemetery, and another portion as the site of a prison. In accordance with this rule it may safely be assumed that the forefathers of Boston had built the first prison-house somewhere in the Vicinity of Cornhill, almost as seasonably as they marked out the first burial-ground, on Isaac Johnson'out his grave, which subsequently became the nucleus of all the congregated sepulchres in the old churchyard of King's Chapel. Certain it is that, some fifteen or twenty years after the settlement of the town, the wooden jail was already marked with weather-stains and other indications of age, which gave a yet darker aspect to its beetle-browed and gloomy front. The rust on the ponderous iron-work of its oaken door looked more antique than anything else in the New World. Like all that pertains to crime, it seemed never to have known a youthful era. Before this ugly edifice, and between it and the wheel-track of the street, was a grass-plot, much overgrown with burdock, pig-weed, apple-pern, and such unsightly vegetation, which evidently found something congenial in the soil that had so early borne the black flower of civilised society, a prison. But on one side of the portal, and rooted almost at the threshold, was a wild rose-hush, covered, in this month of June, with its delicate gems, which might be imagined to offer their fragrance and fragile beauty to the prisoner as he went in, and to the condemned criminal as he came forth to his doom, in token that the deep heart of Nature could pity and be kind to him.

What is the most likely reason that Nathanial Hawthorne opened his novel with a description of a door?

a. to show off the fine workmanship and artistic nature of the Puritans
b. to make a comparison that prisons are essentially the grave yards of society.
c. because Hawthorne doesn't understand what it means to write a passage with an interesting theme
d. to show how a place is not a utopia if it has to have a prison

This is the best student project I ever received.  It is from Billy Fowler in 1997 back in the days I thought teaching this horrible book was a good idea.  Billy has since become quite an artist and has his own studio.  Check him out at:

Scroll down for the answer.

a. is incorrect.  This is a bad answer as the author said it was ugly.
b. is incorrect.  Sounds good, doesn't it?
c. while a true statement, does not properly answer the question.  It is incorrect.
d. is correct.  A utopia is a perfect society.  Perfect societies would not have to have a prison.

The danger in this question lies in the length of the passage.  Do not despair when the state gives you a long passage.  They want you to give up on it.  Fight back! ~

Thanks to for the opening page of The Scarlet Letter.

Friday, June 2, 2017

A Fable

Read the following fable by Aesop:

TWO neighbours came before Jupiter and prayed him to grant their hearts’ desire. Now the one was full of avarice, and the other eaten up with envy. So to punish them both, Jupiter granted that each might have whatever he wished for himself, but only on condition that his neighbour had twice as much. The Avaricious man prayed to have a room full of gold. No sooner said than done; but all his joy was turned to grief when he found that his neighbour had two rooms full of the precious metal. Then came the turn of the Envious man, who could not bear to think that his neighbour had any joy at all. So he prayed that he might have one of his own eyes put out, by which means his companion would become totally blind.

What is most likely the moral of this story?

a. Be careful what you wish for.
b. Vices are their own punishment.
c. To be envious is better than to be greedy.
d. It is better to give than to receive.

Scroll down for the answer.

a. is incorrect.  The first man gets his wish for a room full of gold .  There is nothing wrong with it.  He can't enjoy it because he is so greedy that he can't stand for his neighbor to have more.  This is the best wrong answer.
b. is correct.  See above.  The greedy man can't enjoy his own wish because somebody has more.  The envious man wastes his wish on losing an eye so that his neighbor would lose both.  It was their own vices that led to their unhappiness.
c. is incorrect.  This is completely wrong.  Both are bad and neither is praised over the other.
d. is incorrect.  It is nice, but the only giving here is punishments.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Would you look up in a box? Would you with a fox?

Read the following passage from We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach:

And then there was the setting, crepuscular and shadowy, everything about it perfectly calibrated for creativity, from the sultry red glow of the darkroom lights to the still and shallow pool in which her prints rested like dead leaves on the surface of a pond.

Based on the above passage, which of the following words is the best synonym for crepuscular?

a. Luminous
b. Cheerful
c. Lugubrious
d. Darkened

Scroll down for the answer.

Answer: d. darkened. Crepuscular means "of, relating to, or resembling twilight; dim; indistinct." Since the author is discussing a photography dark room, darkened is the best synonym. The best wrong answer is c. lugubrious, because some do associate a gloomy quality with twilight.

Thanks for the question, Ms. Parsons!  Now about that book cover.  For some reason, on the Internet, there are several book covers of other famous books with this title and author.  I'm not sure why.  If anyone knows, leave a comment!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Smile! Someone May Be Taking Your Picture

Read this headline from the Indy:

A Crack in Google Glass: Wearable Technology's Glassault on Privacy

In the above headline, which literary device is being used to express the author's tone?

a. Alliteration - "Google Glass"
b. Imagery - "Wearable Technology"
c. Dramatic Irony - "Privacy"
d. Pun - "Glassault"

Scroll down for the answer.

d. is correct.  It is making a play on the word "assault" which has a negative connotation, thus revealing the author's view of the ability to photograph, record, and video people without their permission.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Made You Look!

Read the following passage from We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach:

Peter had been to state twice and nationals once. Been given a sweet Jeep for his sixteenth birthday, and ended up good and wasted at about a hundred crazy-fun parties. And now he was eighteen. In the fall, he’d be off to sunny California. And seriously, how sick was college going to be? Pledging some frat and playing ball all over the country and partying with his teammates and frat brothers every weekend. Then he’d go pro if he were lucky, or else get into coaching or something, and he and Stacy would get married and raise some kids and hit up Baja or TJ on Christmas breaks and buy a sweet summer place on Lake Chelan with a Jacuzzi. 

What is the author’s attitude toward Peter?

a. Scornful
b. Disdainful
c. Mocking
d. Aggravated

Scroll down for the answer.


Answer: c. The author realizes that Peter's goals are shallow and rather insignificant.

Thanks to Ms. Parsons for this question!  You know, a good tip for the state test is to look up.  After you've finished the questions and before you start the next passage, look up and give your poor eyes a break!