Category Archives: Bubby Spamden


A Punishing Defeat

Today’s post comes from Wendell Wilkie High School’s perennial sophomore, Bubby Spamden.

Hey, Mr. C.,

Thought I’d better tell you how it all went down in the big debate in Mr. Boozenporn’s class yesterday. Me and Alicia Erickson went toe-to-toe in what will probably be our only-ever thing that we do together, arguing about whether there should be a maximum wage to go along with the minimum wage that got signed into law by the Governor yesterday.

I could tell I was in trouble from the start. Alicia had two big loose-leaf binders on her desk crammed full of papers and there were three of her brainiac friends sitting right behind her, just glaring at me. People had been saying on Facebook that she spent the whole weekend cramming factoids and statistics into her memory – stuff she found in macro-economics and labor relations textbooks that she got from her parents, who are both trial lawyers.

And I think her mom is also a ninja.

It made me kind of sorry that I spent all my research time on Sunday looking into the history of the word Woot!, but it was too late to kick myself over that. I had to go first and make my best argument for the maximum wage, so I launched into my speech that I wrote on the bus this morning and I have to say that I think it was pretty good.

I said a bunch of words about how some people are so good at economic stuff they manage to get a whole lot more than they need. Which is fine, I said, until it gets ridiculous and they have so much they can’t even think how to spend it.

And then I threw in a quote from “Grapes of Wrath”, that I caught Lester Wells saying out loud in the seat next to me on the bus. He was supposed to hand in a book report today in Ms. Hecubensen’s English class, which he had all written except he needed to add something to make it sound like he had really read the whole thing rather than just looking at parts of it online.

And it just so happened it really lined up with my project too:

“If he needs a million acres to make him feel rich, seems to me he needs it ’cause he feels awful poor inside hisself, and if he’s poor in hisself, there ain’t no million acres gonna make him feel rich, an’ maybe he’s disappointed that nothin’ he can do ‘ll make him feel rich.”

Which set me up for my big idea – capping personal income at 10 million dollars a year and then giving individual over-earners the WOOT! title – Wealthy Oligarch Opportunity Titan! Kinda like getting a knighthood, except it has the extra responsibility of using your money smarts to lift up other people.

Some of the kids in the class answered with “Woot, woot, woot” and every time I said it after that more of them joined in until Mr. Boozenporn told them they had to stop. But that was a cool feeling. Like I was winning them over!

So then Alicia gets up and I figure she’s going to come at me with studies and numbers and probably the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, both.

But instead, she says …

“My whole case comes down to gold and silver, two things the super-rich covet and collect. I’d like to see a show of hands. Who thinks there should be a maximum wage law to limit the income of those greedy super-rich people?”

Just about every hand in the room goes up. I’m feeling pretty good.

“And who thinks there should be a law to limit how much YOU can make?”

Nothing. It was the raised-hand equivalent of crickets chirping.

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” she says, “And do not do unto others what you would not have them do unto you.” “The golden rule and the silver rule. You can look it up.”

Then she sits down. And everybody says WOOT! Game over!

So I felt bad for a while but a bunch of people told me that I did better than they expected me to and they didn’t really disagree with me, they just weren’t ready to totally give up the idea of being super-duper rich someday themselves.

“But as soon as my hope dies,” said Jennifer Goff, “I’m on your side.”

That’s what friends are for!

Your pal,

Do you follow the rules?

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Distracted By WOOT!

Today’s post comes from perennial sophomore Bubby Spamden of Wendell Wilkie High School.

Hey Mr. C.,

So I spent all weekend thinking about my upcoming showdown with Alicia Erickson in Mr. Boozenporn’s class. Our debate about the Maximum Wage is going to be epic! Like I said I’m pretty sure she’ll destroy me but at least I’ll have her attention for almost fifty minutes, which was all I really wanted to do in the first place, so no matter what happens, I win! Woot!

But I’m still a little scared.

I was going to do lots of research on the huge differences between the top earners and the bottom earners and all that, but once I got online I got distracted by Facebook messages from people at school who were kinda taunting me and telling me I was going to do a face plant in the debate and it was gonna be an awesome debacle and woot! woot! and all the stuff that people say when they’re spouting off. Which got me to wondering what woot! means.

So instead of looking at wage statistics I spent a couple of hours researching WOOT. I found out that there are a bunch of different stories. Some say it started out as an acronym for “We Owned (the) Other Team” or “Want One Of Those”, but thanks to over-usage WOOT doesn’t really mean much of anything anymore other than Yay!

Once I got that figured out, I was ready to start on the debate research but then my mom came in and said I had to help her clean out the garden and the flowerbeds so new stuff could grow. I told her I had homework but she never lets me skip chores, so I lost the whole afternoon to doing stuff outside.

But this won’t surprise you – while I was out there, I kept thinking about Alicia Erickson. Especially where she said my idea of setting a maximum wage was stupid because it would discourage job creators and drain away their “urge to achieve.”

Even though I was raking wet leaves and using sharp clippers to trim away dead plants, my eyes kept seeing Alicia’s lips forming those words – “urge to achieve.” Good thing I didn’t cut off any fingers! But after a couple of hours of that, I feel like I’m kind of an expert on urges.

I decided that Alicia might like my maximum wage plan more if there was something in it to let the super-rich still feel special. It would have to have some way for them to keep competing with the other super-rich people besides just piling up money.

And that’s when I remembered WOOT!

So here’s the plan: Once you get to a point where you earn ten million dollars a year, you can’t earn anymore for yourself but you become a WOOT, or an Wealthy Oligarch Opportunity Titan!

Doesn’t that sound cool? It would be an all-capitals title that you’d put at the end of your name, like this – Warren Buffett, WOOT! The exclamation point would be part of it! By law!

I put the word “Titan” in there so they’d feel like superheroes, and the word “Opportunity” so they’d get the hint – everybody who reaches WOOT! status would compete with the other WOOT!s to do good works, like creating opportunities for other people.

Exactly what or how, I don’t know. I haven’t gotten that far on the details yet because we left so much stuff sitting in the garden at the end of last year and it took me all afternoon to clear it out.

But I think this is a pretty good start. It’ll be a lot more impressive than a bunch of dumb old statistics. And I’m sure I’ll think up even more details to add to it while I’m debating Alicia. I just have to remember to keep my mind clear, and not to look directly into her eyes or I might forget everything that’s in my brain.

Wish me luck. WOOT!

Your pal,

Of course I wished Bubby luck but I have to admit I’m worried. Doing some real research might have been more helpful than coming up with a new meaning for WOOT!

If you could add an impressive title to your name, what would it be?


Wage War

Today’s post comes from perennial sophomore Bubby Spamden of Wendell Wilkie High School.

Hey Mr. C.,

So I think I got myself into a kind of a tough spot yesterday.

We were talking in Mr. Boozenporn’s Social Studies class about Minnesota raising its minimum wage, on account of a lot of us are going to earning it someday (if we’re lucky), working at burger joints and discount stores when we (some of us) graduate.

Pretty much everybody was saying “it’s a good thing” and “about time” and blah, blah, blah. But all I ever want out of that class is to get Alicia Erickson to look at me, and she seemed pretty interested in the topic.

So I kind of blurted out that the minimum wage “… isn’t really the issue.”

And Mr. Boozenporn, who is the laziest teacher I’ve ever had and he really ought to be fired for wasting our class time this way, said, “What’s the real issue, Bubby?”

And so I said “It’s the huge difference between the money that little people get and what the fat cats get, which is why there ought to be a maximum wage too.”

Then it got really quiet in Mr. B’s room.

Don’t get me wrong. I like my school but a lot of the kids come from over around the lake, so the idea of a maximum wage didn’t go over too well because most of them saw it right away as a ceiling on their inheritance, which they’ve already imagined collecting because some of them (I won’t mention any names) have told me they daydream about strangling their parents in their sleep and running away with the money.

Really! Like you could get away with that!

So Mr. Boozenporn said “Bubby, tell us more.

I didn’t really have any more to say, but you know how it is. So I think I said something about “… once you get rich you can’t really spend it sensibly anymore …” and “… the super rich aren’t happy …” and “… anyone who can’t be satisfied with ten million dollars isn’t really trying …” and some other stuff I don’t remember.

So then Alicia Erickson (of all people!) speaks up and says my ideas are stupid and putting a cap on income would just drain incentives from the job creators and that our economy is built on what she said is “the urge to achieve.”

Which was kind of thrilling because Alicia was looking right at me and talking about urges.

So Mr. Boozenporn said “Alicia and Bubby will debate this on Monday. They’ll be graded on the quality of their reasoning and everyone else will be graded on respectful behavior and the clarity of your note-taking. Class dismissed.”

And then the bell rang.

Now everyone is mad at me for ruining Monday with a whole hour where they’ll have to sit quietly and take notes. But I’m mad at me because I have to debate Alicia Erickson and I’m pretty sure she’ll destroy me!

I guess I need to think some more about the stuff I said, to see if I believe any of it. Right now, my plan for Monday is just to move my mouth and make random sounds until the bell rings.

Unless you have some other ideas for me?

Your Pal,

How do you win an argument?


Lights Out!

Today’s post comes from perennial sophomore Bubby Spamden.

Hey, Mr. C.,

I’m really pumped about some new research coming out of the University of Minnesota, which seems to confirm what I’ve been saying for years to the administrators at Wendell Wilkie High – it’s a waste of everybody’s time for the high school day to start at 7:30 am! Me and my friends cannot wake up that early in the morning. We’re just lurching around for at least the first two class periods of the day.

You know how zombies are always looking everywhere for brains because they don’t have any of their own? That’s us!

So now a bunch of high schools are finding a way to start as late as 8:30 or even 9 am, which would be awesome if we could get that at Wilkie. And it pays off!. Test scores are better, and more people are actually paying attention in class, which has the teachers all freaked out. Some of them haven’t been listened to by anybody in years.

At the start of second hour last Wednesday, me and Ashley found Ms. Hecubensen sitting at her desk, weeping. When we asked her what was wrong she said somebody had asked her a question in first hour, and it wasn’t about going to the bathroom. That had never happened before!  And then there we were, asking if she was all right, which just made her cry even more.

That got me thinking. One thing that could mess up the benefits of a later school starting time would be if students just got distracted by social media and stuff and stayed up extra late and came in exactly as tired as before, just one hour later.

So Ashley and me wrote some lullabies to keep that from happening. We used the tune of “Rock-a-Bye Baby” because it’s the only lullaby we know. And we did it during second hour because Ms. Hecubensen is our new favorite teacher.

Since we had that “real” moment together, we know she likes us too much to yell at us.

Rock-a-bye Freshmen, Twitter can wait.
Facebook will always have an update.
Turn off your laptop, lower your lids.
And stop your complaining, you little kids.

Rock-a-bye Sophomores. Texting must end.
None of those people are really your friend.
No one can bully you while you rest,
Your brain needs some sleep to prepare for that test!

Get some rest Juniors, because you can.
Now that you are such fine women and men.
Your sophistication runs very deep
And you can’t be awkward while you’re asleep.

Rock-a-bye Seniors. Lead lying down.
Dream of yourself in a cap and a gown.
Soon enough you will be looking for work
so rock-a-bye Seniors. Sleeping’s a perk.

When should the day begin?


The Envelope Please …

Today’s post comes from Wendell Wilkie High School’s “forever sophomore”, Bubby Spamden.

Hey Mr. C.,

Last Friday Mr. Boozenporn told us to imagine that we have been voted “Student Of The Year,” and that we have to give a thank you speech. Then he said Monday morning he’ll open up an envelope and announce the name of just one winner, and that person will have to stand up and give their speech.

Mary Ellen Nugent wanted to know what would happen to all the other speeches written by people who didn’t win.

Mr. B-porn said “Those speeches will be forgotten. Only the winner’s speech will be heard, and then we’ll all give that person a grade on it.”

He said it’s normal for people who win prizes to get criticized by the non-winners, so we should learn to deal with it.

Then I said “What if you’re pretty sure you won’t get named Student of the Year. Do you still have to do the assignment?”

He said “If you’re pretty sure you’re a loser, you don’t have to do any of my assignments. Because losers don’t know how to be grateful anyway.”

So I said, “What good is gratitude if somebody assigns you to have it? Isn’t it supposed to come from the heart?”

Then Mr. B-porn told me to be quiet and do my reading, which I did, ungratefully.

I went ahead and wrote the speech because I don’t want anybody to think that I THINK I’m a loser. But I’m pretty sure I won’t have to give it. That’s why I’m sending it to you. I can tell from your blog that on a lot of days you just don’t know what to say. Maybe getting a bunch of words and sentences for free will help!

No need to say “thanks”. Some people just aren’t cut out for gratitude!

Hey everybody,

I can’t believe I’m Student of The Year! I didn’t plan to be a student, so I guess I have to thank my parents for pushing me. I would have stayed home and watched TV for my whole life, but they saw something in me and realized it was something they needed to get off their couch. So they had the bus come pick me up.

I know I wouldn’t have won without all those teachers who saw that I wasn’t paying attention in class and didn’t ignore it, like Mrs. Kostner who came and stood by my desk when I started to fall asleep and Ms. Thompson who made me come sit up in the front of the room when I was joking around with the guys and Mr. Zeligman who threw erasers at me when I was drawing cartoon characters in my math book.

They helped me see how far behind everybody else I was.

Which brings me to all my fellow students who let me copy their essays and copy their calculations and their research and their test answers. I did it as a compliment because I really want to be just like you, but without working as hard as you do. It’s a long list – but nobody said gratitude was easy so here goes!

First, for letting me copy her biology report on red squirrels … hey, could somebody tell the band to stop? I have this long list of names and … wow! Pretty much everyone is giving me a signal to stop talking. At least I think that’s what that gesture means. so – I guess have to stop talking. But really, everyone, thanks!

What’s the greatest speech you never gave?


The History of Procrastination

Today’s post comes from forever sophomore Bubby Spamden, poster boy for the campaign against social promotion at Wendell Wilkie High School.

Hey Mr. C.,

Well, they stopped canceling school every other day just because it’s cold, so Mr. Boozenporn said he won’t let us move the deadline for our History Projects again – they’re due on Monday.

He calls it the “Monuments” assignment – all about how people through time built things like buildings and stuff to leave their mark on the Earth. We’re supposed to research something like the Parthenon or the pyramids or the Palace at Versailles and write at least 1,000 words about it.

AND we have to make a replica to show the class, using common materials found at home.

What’s worse, he only just told us about this in September, which is so unfair! The school year was starting then and we were excited about other things and January 31 (the original due date) seemed really, really far away.

That means I’ll have to spend the weekend doing some quick reading and writing and building a scale model of something from history.

At least it won’t get in the way of the Super Bowl.

But I don’t know how he can expect us to get interested in this super-old stuff, especially so close to Valentine’s Day when we’re all feeling kind of in bloom and full of young-person thoughts all about love and living and fun and the future, not about dead guys and their buildings and bridges and graveyards.

Is that fair? I don’t think so.

Plus, he said nobody is allowed to pick Indian mound builders, which was totally what I was going to do! I already had the Earth and everything!

So anyway I’m wondering if you and your blog people have any ideas of some old building or construction thing that isn’t too hard to understand that I can make a quick copy of using stuff I’ve got at home. I know you’re all pretty old so you probably have even made some of the original things that would qualify – if only you can remember what they are! (Just Kidding).

Your friend who just lost his whole weekend,

I told Bubby when I was a sophomore I did a similar assignment on Machu Piccu using egg cartons, Easter grass and Neptune’s Castle from the bottom of my dad’s aquarium that he kept in the living room all lit up and bubbling even though the fish had died about ten years before. My model turned out a little slimy, which really enhanced the look even though it didn’t do much for the smell. I managed to get a B.

What’s the oldest man-made thing you’ve ever seen?


Habit Breaking Habit

Today’s post is a letter from perennial sophomore Bubby Spamden.


Hey Mr. C.,

Happy New Year!

Hope that’s an appropriate thing to say. I guess people your age don’t get too excited about another year coming along when you just barely got used to the last one. Writing in that “..14″ on the date can take older folks a while, I know. My grandpa says he’s still not used to the “20..” at the beginning. He says by the time he gets the hang of it, we’ll be ready to change it to “21..” But I don’t think that’s even possible. He likes to pull my leg.

Anyway, we’re going back to school today (after TWO EXTRA DAYS off!) and I’m pretty sure Mr. Boozenporn will do his New Years’ Resolution unit about how habits form and how hard it is to break them. He does it every single year without fail as soon as we come back from Holiday (Christmas!) break. At least he has as long as I’ve been around, and I’ve been around a while!

I really love the habits unit. It’s so familiar! And Mr. Boozenporn says the older people get, the more they appreciate their traditions and routines. But when we did the habits unit last year he didn’t teach it right, and when I brought it up to him that he made us read the textbook chapter on Obsessive Compulsive Disorder BEFORE we did the whole-class repetitive behavior assessment rather than the other way around which is how it SHOULD have been done, he told me I was too young to be so inflexible.

What kind of answer is that?

I know plenty of inflexible young people – a lot of them are my best friends, and they’re as crotchety as old folks. Griping about stuff is one way for them to seem grown up, I guess. Even though I think they’re overdoing it. Jennifer Gadberry made a huge fuss at lunch the other day because the cooks served her the wrong color jello. Why would that even matter? I’m sure it’s something she learned from her grandfather, but I have to admit she brought a really fresh level of energy to what would have otherwise been a pretty boring meltdown.

As part of the habits unit, Mr. B. will put everyone on the spot to reveal a major behavior they’re going to break during our post-holiday, full-of-hope-for-a-new-me period. This is a really tough moment for us high school sophomores because everybody wants to look like they have some major private disfunction going on, but nobody wants it to be particularly bad or embarrassing. Once it has been named you can get typecast for the rest of High School if you’re not careful.

And yes, word travels fast.

The ones who aren’t ready for the question sometimes come up with something their parents already criticize them for, like not washing their hands or not keeping their room clean or nose picking. Saying out loud that you want to work on something like that is a really serious mistake.

The right thing to say is “I want to find a way to stop being so awesome so my friends can relax around me and not be intimidated all the time.”

Which is, of course, an awesome answer.

Awesomely, your pal,

I told Bubby I wouldn’t be like Mr. Boozenporn and put people on the spot for a New Year’s Resolution. Not for themselves, anyway.

Write a New Year’s Resolution – for someone else.


Keeping the Customer Satisfied

Today’s post comes from perennial sophomore Bubby Spamden at Wendell Wilkie High School.

Hey Mr. C.,

Me and my buddies were talking last night about how weird it is that Bob Dylan’s electric guitar from the 1965 Newport Folk Festival sold for almost one million dollars.


Believe it or not, we studied this in class – how revolutionary it was to play a plugged-in instrument at a folk festival and how Dylan got booed for doing it. Our history teacher, Mrs. Barbary-Allen, said Dylan was a traitor and she hoped he spent the rest of his days tormented by remorse for the horrible thing he had done. Then she went on for a while about how Dylan couldn’t feel any remorse because he was the Devil and he killed Buddy Holly and threw his body off the levee from the back of a Chevy and there was no justice in the world and then told us to read chapter 7 and put her head down on the desk and wept.

It was kind of awkward.

We found later that Dylan left the guitar on a plane and ignored the guy who tried to give it back to him, so that guy’s family finally sold it and got all this money.

I bet someone’s feeling remorse now!

As high school sophomores, whenever some kind of real-world surprise comes along we’re always told to “let that be a lesson to you.” But in this one, we’re not sure what the lesson is. That’s why I’m writing to ask for you help.



Photo: July
Photo: July

Today’s post comes from perennial sophomore Bubby Spamden.

Hey Mr. C.!,

I found out the other day that my whole generation has already turned its back on golf as a sport. That was interesting news to me, because I really had no idea golf still existed!

I mean, I’ve noticed when we pass by some of the courses in town that there are people out there driving little carts around on the grass, and that looks kind of cool except the carts go too slow and they don’t have big enough wheels. I’d want something more powerful and off-road. But still, driving a golf buggy could be fun for a while – maybe 15 minutes. I hear out in places like Arizona there are communities where people drive golf carts everywhere.

I don’t think I have the patience for that.

I asked my dad about golf and he said “The sport is doomed” because it’s too hard to learn, too expensive to play, it takes too long to get through a round, and all the people who love it are old and they wear funny clothes.”

That seemed pretty negative for a guy who has played golf all my life. So I asked him why he likes the game and he said he likes it because it’s a way for him to be with his friends where he can talk as much or as little as he wants. Because golfers have this “thing” about noise, it’s OK for a bunch of them to be together and still be quiet.

It made me think of when I’m with my friends and we all sit in the same room and focus on our phones instead of each other. And come to think of it, some of us wear funny clothes, too. So I guess I’m already doing something that’s kind of like golf and I didn’t even know

But at least what I do is cheaper. If you don’t count the cost of my data plan.

There’s one thing my dad told me that made golf seem like it might actually be worthwhile – at some of the courses in the summertime they have these cute girls who drive around selling food and beverages, including beer. For the most part the golfer guys are so old they really shouldn’t be flirting with the girls, but some of them do anyway. They get to be pretty heavy tippers out on the course, even though they’re not that way in the normal world. Kinda creepy. And then a lot of them buy beers and keep on driving their golf carts, which totally adds up to drinking and driving and not getting in trouble for it, which is something you can’t do anywhere else.

Depending on how many beers they have, they might also turn into heavy tippers when they go around a corner too fast. Golf can be dangerous.

Anyway, I asked my dad if I should take up the game, and you know what he said? This floored me. He said “No, look at you. A high school sophomore? You’re too old to start now. You’ll never be any good at it.”

He’s NEVER said anything like that before – it’s the first time I’ve ever been told I’m too old start something! A milestone for me – yay! Finally – an excuse for not being an achiever. I feel so grown up, I’m starting to have regrets about having lived so much of my life already – and all the stuff that’s passed me by.

I missed out on golf!

Your pal,

If you could master any sport, which one would it be?


Role Models

Today’s post comes from perennial sophomore Bubby Spamden.

Hey, Mr. C.,

The school year at Wendell Wilkie High is off to a great start. I really, really love my Political Science class with Mr. Boozenporn.


He started out the year being all stern about how the rules were going to be enforced this time and EVERYBODY had to have ALL their work done EVERY day. NO EXCEPTIONS!

Mr. B. said it was necessary because the big test next April will show whether we’re able to learn anything or if we are as dumb as a Target end cap full of Miley Cyrus CDs. “Your futures hang in the balance,” he said. “Will you be a success? Only YOU can decide.”

It was a good speech except I’ve only heard it two thousand times before.

But some kids got kind of stressed over that and a couple of them were actually talking about working hard this semester. That’s how intense it was. But then Alicia Nugent spoke up and said “Mr. Boozenporn, would I be a success if I got elected to Congress?”

Mr. B. assured Alicia that he would consider her a success if she did that.

And then she said “Mr. Boozenporn, what will happen to YOU if we boot that test in April?”

Mr. B. admitted he would be in serious trouble if his whole class booted that test.

Then she said “I’m sure I speak for most of the class when I say, Mr. Boozenporn, that you are not in the best bargaining position to make demands. Rather, we have demands for you since we control the only variable in this equation – namely – our performance on said examination.”

Alicia went on to explain how she could, with the help of just a few of our brainiest classmates, totally ambush the school by choosing to perform poorly on the test. And they could pull it off, too. Because it’s easier to get a question wrong if you know what the right answer is to begin with!

Mr. Boozenporn considered this for a moment, and then lectured for the rest of the hour on integrity and the importance of trying your best to do the right thing and blah, blah, blah, blah and boogety boogety and something about the opportunities we’ll have (or won’t have) in the future.

I didn’t hear too much of it because I was kinda falling in love with Alicia Nugent right then.

But Mr. B went on. Booting a test on purpose, he said, especially that big test in April, would be like the carpenter who recently shot himself in the chest with a nail gun. He seemed pretty sure we wouldn’t do that to ourselves and undermine our chances at success.

But then Alicia said … and this is why I kind of have an enormous crush on her … “But you already said I’d be a success if I got elected to Congress. Are the people in Congress the ones who got good grades, or are they the ones who were willing to wreck everything just to get their way?”

We all jumped out of our chairs and did a standing ovation. It was a totally awesome moment, like in one of those Spunky Teen movies, except one that’s really, really cynical all the way to the end.

Mr. Boozenporn gave her an “A” right there on the Machiavelli unit, and then told her to be quiet.

Still, I really love that class and I’m thinking of asking Alicia go to a movie with me. Should I?

Your (still a) sophomore pal,

I told Bubby he should definitely ask Alicia out, but he might not be bright enough to hold her attention for long. Picking a good movie is key, but consider the showtimes and locations carefully. After all, the theaters are likely to be full of furloughed Federal workers.

Seen any good movies lately?