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MIKE PESCA, host:

Welcome back to the Bryant Park Project from NPR News. We're always online at npr.org/bryantpark. So it's Friday. We have been through a week of laughter, tears, conversations about oil which caused some of those laughters and some of those tears. Anyway, we are ready to bring you some of the news that might be slightly off the radar screen, news that gets swept under the rug or into a trench on the Red Planet. Join me as I Ramble.

(Soundbite of music)

PESCA: And I say that to you, the listener, but also to you, Matt Martinez.

MATT MARTINEZ: Hello, Mike Pesca.

PESCA: Hey, pal. Matt is our senior producer. He's a newscaster. He's very good at Rambling. Take it away.

MARTINEZ: I just want dessert topping. OK.

PESCA: And a floor wax.

MARTINEZ: It may be a little bit too early for this, but have you ever seen bright chunks? Bright chunks?

PESCA: Well, I don't know if I should disclose if I have.

MARTINEZ: Dice-sized crumbs of bright material.

PESCA: I don't know about this.

MARTINEZ: And - OK, so, this is what they are. They found bright crumbs inside a trench on Mars, OK?

PESCA: Huh.

MARTINEZ: So NASA took a photo of them with the Phoenix Mars Lander, and now the crumbs are gone.

PESCA: So it's like...

(Singing) Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar?

MARTINEZ: Exactly. It's more like, who ate my bowl of bright material? Because, OK, the trench where these crumbs were is nicknamed Dodo-Goldilocks, and it actually may have been a bit too cold for those bright chunks, because those little tidbits, they think, were ice.

PESCA: Oh, OK.

MARTINEZ: They think they were ice. So they're not quite sure. They're going to have a press conference today. And they're not sure why they disappeared. They thought they were salt, but no, salt can't disappear like that. So that's why they think it was ice, because they were there, then they were gone. They really don't know. They just don't know. It's far, far away.

PESCA: Yeah, it's like it's so far - what, someone's going to come up, some snoop - a gang of snooping kids is going to find out if we lied and their dog? I mean, it's not going to happen.

MARTINEZ: No, it's not. It's not going to happen.

PESCA: All right, let's move on to a story about an Ohio science teacher who put his religion where his science was.

MARTINEZ: Hm.

PESCA: Yes. His students, actually.

(Soundbite of laughter)

PESCA: According to a story in the Columbus Dispatch, the eighth-grade science teacher, John Freshwater - I like it, I like the name already.

MARTINEZ: Yeah. Yeah.

PESCA: So I'm prone to at least have an open mind as to what he's peddling. Let's see what John Freshwater did. He's been teaching Christian beliefs and slamming scientific theories in science class. That - you lost me with that. A school administrator says that's been going on for 11 years. The school district hired investigators, and they just released their report yesterday.

It gets weirder than even the bright bits. The report confirms that Freshwater, the teacher, did something that was really fresh, in the sense of nasty and crude, not cool. It's hard to imagine this. I saw a picture of it. He used an electrostatic device to burn crosses into students' arms. One student filed a lawsuit last week.

MARTINEZ: That's pleasant.

PESCA: Freshwaters says the marks were Xs. Like that's going to get him off?

MARTINEZ: Yeah, yeah.

PESCA: I mean, I know there's an element of, all right, don't proselytize in the classroom. But way before that in the list of don'ts for hiring teachers is don't burn things...

(Soundbite of laughter)

PESCA: Even - don't even burn the periodic table into your children's arms. Yeah. There's - the photo of it indicates one long, vertical line and one shorter line transversing that. So that could look like a cross.

MARTINEZ: All right.

PESCA: All right.

MARTINEZ: Onto something that is just a little bit more, you know, palatable for the morning. Actually...

PESCA: But please, sear this story into my consciousness, man.

MARTINEZ: OK, OK. If you're a Coldplay fan, actually, this is not a palatable story at all. Coldplay is being accused of plagiarism by a Brooklyn band named Creaky Boards. They say that Coldplay ripped off their song, "The Songs I Didn't Write" - that's the name of their song - on their new album, Coldplay's new album. It's part of the - one of the title tracks, "Viva La Vida." So they say that "Viva La Vida" sound a whole lot like their song, "The Songs I Didn't Write." OK?

PESCA: OK. So I - we'll have to just let it play out in court. I mean, how could we possibly judge if they're right or not?

MARTINEZ: Well...

PESCA: I wouldn't deign to...

MARTINEZ: Well, what you do is you make a YouTube video and you compare and contrast. So we're not going to play that video because the quality on the YouTube is awful. So we're going to do our own little test. We're going to listen to the first verse of each song and then the chorus of each song, and we'll decide.

PESCA: OK.

(Soundbite of song "The Songs I Didn't Write")

CREAKY BOARDS: (Singing) When you have gone to bed...

MARTINEZ: This is the Creaky Boards.

CREAKY BOARDS: (Singing) I am alone inside my head. I turn on the stereo, The one on the arcano (ph).

MARTINEZ: And now Coldplay.

(Soundbite of song "Viva La Vida")

COLDPLAY: (Singing) I used to rule the world. Seas would rise when I gave the word. Now in the morning I sleep alone, Sweep the streets I used to own.

MARTINEZ: And now the chorus of Creaky Boards.

(Soundbite of song "The Songs I Didn't Write")

CREAKY BOARDS: (Singing) (Unintelligible) plays a little louder, Telling me to sing a little louder, Telling me I can't just escape away.

MARTINEZ: And the chorus of Coldplay.

(Soundbite of song "Viva La Vida")

COLDPLAY: (Singing) I hear Jerusalem bells are ringing. Roman Cavalry choirs are singing. Be my mirror my sword and shield...

MARTINEZ: The verdict?

PESCA: Um, the Coldplay song is a lot better. It doesn't rhyme "bed" and "head." The verses are eerily similar. The chorus is a little off, I think.

MARTINEZ: There you go. Well, Coldplay says, impossible, they were actually in London, and the guys said that they heard the song, that Coldplay was at one of their concerts and heard the song. The guys - Coldplay says, nah, we weren't there. We were in London, and "Viva La Vida" was written and demoed seven months before the performance that they said Coldplay attended. So, you know...

PESCA: Who knows how these things get into your head? Neither are the most inventive songs in the world.

MARTINEZ: Yeah.

PESCA: I think we could agree with that.

MARTINEZ: All right.

PESCA: Well, that is your Ramble. Links to those cool, cold and downright freaky stories are on our website, npr.org/bryantpark.

(Soundbite of song "Viva La Vida")

COLDPLAY: (Singing) And the sound of drums. People could not believe what I'd become. Revolutionaries wait For my head on a silver plate.

Just a puppet on a lonely string...

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