Category Archives: Bubby Spamden

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Scary Space Thing!

Today’s post comes from perennial sophomore Bubby Spamden, who has been held back so many times, he has more seniority than his teachers at Wendell Willkie High School.

Hi Mr. C.,

Me and my buddies are sure excited about tonight being Halloween AND Friday too!

There’s just something about running from house to house to fill up a pillowcase with teensy candy bars and then bingeing on them until you feel sick! And it’ll be even better because I don’t have to get up and go to school in the morning!

The biggest problem is figuring out how to dress. People say teenagers are lazy when it comes to Halloween. The guys I know make a big deal out of Not Trying Too Hard.

Last year my pal Willie got a roll of fifty “Hello, My Name Is …” tags, wrote a different name on each one, and then stuck them all on the front of his shirt except one, which he put in the middle of his forehead.

When people asked, he said he was dressed as “Identity Theft”.

That’s super cool, and also really lazy. But people seemed to like it, and a lot of them asked if he thought up the idea himself, which he didn’t, so he said “No, I stole it,” which made them laugh even MORE!

I had a great idea for a costume last night – A Comet!!! And here’s the reason. They’re bright, scary and FAST!

But the thing that really sealed the deal for me was this article. It says that probe that’s about to land on the comet called 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko has some kind of electronic nose, and it did some sniffing tests and radioed back that the comet smells like combination of horse urine, vinegar and rotten eggs.

Ugh!

But also … Sweet!

I was hoping to get my mom on board with this. I know we don’t have any horse urine but I asked her if we had some vinegar and rotten eggs, and she said she wouldn’t help with that part because it’s gross.

And as far as the costume goes, she looked up some instructions online and said it’s just too hard for ordinary people to make. I guess I can’t complain but how can it be harder than landing on a comet? I mean, c’mon!

She also said some pretty mean things about papier Mache. You make the comet’s head by mixing newspaper and paste and then layering it on a beach ball.

“It’s too fussy”, she said. “We’d have to wait at least three days to let it dry and by that time it would be Sunday.”

So I guess I waited too long, once again!

But I did find a great big Sun mask, so I suppose that’ll have to do.

People will say I’m the Sun, but I’ll have to argue with them. “No, I’m a Comet!” A stinky, rude one!” I wonder if they’ll buy that? I’m fast, so that’ll help. And maybe I’ll throw some handfuls of glitter behind me. Until it runs out anyway. Hope I don’t get arrested for littering, but my excuse will be “Comets are dirty.”

If people don’t like it, they can tell it to the Comet Head.

I wish it weren’t smiling, though.

Your Pal,
Bubby

What’s your best last-minute dress-up idea?

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Skipped a Step!

Today’s post comes from perennial sophomore Bubby Spamden, who, as the poster child for the campaign against social promotion, has spent 20 years in the 10th grade at Wendell Willke High School.

Hey Mr. C,

Did you see what Microsoft did yesterday?

It’s awesome, and it fills my heart with hope. They decided to introduce a new version of Windows – “Windows 10″! But here’s the cool part, and believe it or not I first heard about it on your blog when “Happy Valley Steve” made this comment –

Screenshot 2014-10-01 at 6.54.55 PM

How about that – ME learning tech stuff from YOU! Pretty amazing. I guess old people aren’t a total waste after all. Who knew?

That’s almost as amazing as the other part of the story – Microsoft totally disrespecting the number 9 by jumping over it! A lot of people are upset about this, but I think it’s cool because skipping steps is why I keep getting held back.

Like in Mr. Boozenporn’s history class two years ago. I was just barely making it. Everything was riding on the grade for this class, and Mr. B had everybody do a final project, which was supposed to be a six page, single spaced, typed report about a historical event or thing or person, and I chose William Henry Harrison who was the first U.S. President to die in office (after only 32 days!) and whose brief term helped people work out all the rules about what to do when the president dies in office.

It was actually a pretty good report. I worked kinda hard on it, which is strange for me! But then I didn’t hand it in. I don’t know what happened. As soon as the report was finished I kinda lost interest and I never even brought it to school. I’ve still got it in my room – it’s under the goldfish bowl where it soaks up condensation that drips off the tank sometimes.

Anyway, not handing that in got me an “F” and another year as a sophomore at Willke. My folks complained but Mr. B was firm. “Bubby skipped a step,” he said. “Giving him a passing grade wouldn’t be fair to the other students who completed their work.”

I tried to argue that not handing the paper in was really a clever way to mirror the Harrison presidency – all potential with no actual follow-through, and a sense of disappointment all around. But Mr. B. saw through that one. He told me to quit trying to sabotage myself.

So here I am trying to pass my sophomore year again. I’m not saying I’ll do the work and not turn it in, but I wonder if he’ll let me write a report on Windows 9?

Your pal,
Bubby

Ever skip a step?

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The Scottish Ploy

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

Hey Mr. C.,

Well, school has been going for a couple of weeks now and so far no real surprises, except that Mr. Boozenporn moved his “Nations of the World” unit from January up to Right Now.

It ends with a “Nations of the World Festival” in the gym. We get assigned a country in a random drawing and we have to write a report about it, and make a display, and dress up in a traditional costume and then all the parents (well, not ALL) come on a Tuesday night and they poke around and kinda quiz you about your project while you stand there, sweating.

But I don’t worry about it too much because I’ve been a sophomore for a lot of years and I’ve done enough nations that I’m starting to get them a second time, which is really cool because you can kinda re-use your work and who’s gonna know?

Except last year I got Egypt again so I handed in the report I did back in 2005 and Mr. B gave me a “D” and held it up for the whole class to see because now they have a different president and everything else I said about Egypt was pretty much wrong too, except that they have pyramids and the Nile.

“Follow the news!” Mr. B. said. “If you don’t know the latest happenings in your country, you will get a ‘D’ for ‘don’t know anything’.”

So this year I drew Scotland.

I’ve never done Scotland before, but I took Mr. B’s advice and checked the news, and boy was I ever glad I did! It turns out they’re having a vote (today!) to decide whether or not to be an independent country. Which is funny because I thought they already were! (And so did Mr. B., I guess, because otherwise why would it be a choice?)

Doesn’t matter, though, because I feel super lucky. The way I see it, Scotland is a free pass on the “Nations of the World” assignment since the Festival is next Tuesday night.  I’m counting on Scotland to vote for independence so the festival will happen on what will only be the fifth day of existence for their country.

That means I get to make a super short report.  Maybe I could get away with just a shrug! Who coulda guessed that Scottish independence would set me free, too?

After all, it’s not like the Scottish people have history that goes much past last week, right? So it should be smooth sailing for me – nothing to worry about unlike those guys that drew places in, like, Africa. I hear some of them are going to have to wear dresses!

At least Scottish guys don’t wear silly clothes like that, just goofy, poofy hats. As far as the rest of the wardrobe, somebody told me anything with a pattern would work. Is that true?

Your pal,
Bubby

What is your greatest miscalculation?

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Excavations in Education

Today’s post comes from perennial Sophomore Bubby Spamden of Wendell Willkie High School.

Hi Mr. C.!

Well, today is the re-beginning of school, and in spite of everything I’ve thought and felt over the past few months and the complaints I’ve made and the different ways I’ve tried to get out of returning to Willkie High, I have to say I’m excited to be going back!

Why?

Well, people like making connections and having routines and seeing old friends and making new ones. And the daily rhythm of being a high school sophomore is a pattern I have perfected! I’ve got my backpack and my notebooks and all my pens and pencils and stuff and I’m ready to go. I’ll collect all the papers my teachers hand out and I’ll take their assignments and bring them home. By this time I know them all by heart. My favorite one is the unit on Stonehenge. We do it every September and I get a real kick out of the idea that Druids dragged huge heavy rocks hundreds of miles to make something big that we still don’t understand and when we look at it all we can do is scratch our heads.

The lesson? People have always done stuff that’s kinda weird.

Anyway, I’ll really try to play by the rules this time and get my work done and handed in on time, but before long I know I’ll start to wonder why I have to study so hard for all these standardized tests and I’m sure I’ll get tired of it, because that’s what I do.

And then around the middle of October, I’ll go into my backyard at home, sneak behind the equipment shed where we keep the lawnmowers and rakes and stuff, and I’ll dig a deep pit.

And then I’ll dump all my assignments and papers and materials into the hole and I’ll cover them up with dirt. And I’ll do this every single week all the way through to the end of school, so when Mr. Boozenporn and all my other teachers ask “Bubby, where’s your homework,” and “Bubby, didn’t you take that assignment home?” and “Bubby, why don’t you get things done?”, I can shrug and say “Oh yeah, it’s probably just buried under some other stuff somewhere.”

That’s how I manage to stay a sophomore year after year at Willke High!

I know it seems like kind of a waste, but the way I see it, someday some cultural archaeologists will come along and dig up all that stuff so they can piece together the history of education in America! Or at least the history of education during this particular time in America, which is bound to seem as strange and mysterious to them as Stonehenge seems to us today.

Your predictable pal,
Bubby

How does your routine change after Labor Day?

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The Dog Ate It

Header Photo: Russell Lee [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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

Hey Mr. C.,

Back-to-school time keeps getting closer and none of my ideas to skip out on this entire year have worked, so I’m trying to get in the mood to be a Sophomore again.

It’s not that easy, because I struggle with homework. I understand it just fine, but the thought of getting it done and handing just makes me feel kinda like a chump. I don’t get why teachers get to tell us what to do with our time when we’re not in school. Once I’m out of the building I feel free and I kinda forget everything that happened in there.

But my dad says you have to submit to authority if you’re going to get along in the world.

In the evening he likes to have a little drink and that’s when he gets really chatty about work. He says his job at the bank “is like 10th grade on steroids.” “Facing up to your homework,” he said, “is a job audition.”

I told him homework is boring, especially since I’ve been a Sophomore forever and there’s not a 10th grade assignment I haven’t seen.

“Think about your resume’,” he said. “When you apply for that first miserable, soul-sucking job, potential employers will want to know that you can stomach the B.S.. Having your spirit crushed and finishing your stupid assignments is what getting your payday is all about.”

I had my doubts, so I Googled “getting your payday,” and I saw this article about how New York State has more than 13 billion dollars in unclaimed funds just lying around. The money belongs to people who didn’t get paid for one reason or another.

The companies that hold the money (a lot of them are banks!) have an assignment. They’re supposed to try to find the owners. If they can’t, they turn it over to the state instead. And it looks like they’ve turned a lot over.

Some of the people the banks admit they own money to but have not been able to find have names like Barack Obama, Madonna, Tom Wolfe, Jerry Seinfeld and the Dalai Lama.

I don’t know who they have on their staff with the job of finding people, but it sounds to me like they don’t take their assignments very seriously.

Seriously!

Which is good news for me, because I don’t take my assignments seriously, either! So I’m wondering if my track record of not doing my homework is something I should move to the top of my resume?

It could help me land that first job, especially if I get looked at by a bank!

Your pal,
Bubby

I told Bubby he should never put it on his resume that he doesn’t take his homework seriously, because these documents may never go away completely, and an uncomplimentary paper trail is a terrible thing to have to drag through life. If a particular unsavory quality is an unwritten requirement for the job, letting a prospective employer know that you meet it should be unwritten as well – a knowing wink or a conspiratorial nudge ought to be enough.

How good are you at getting your assignments done?

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False Memory Palace

Today’s post comes from perennial sophomore Bubby Spamden, a more-or-less permanent fixture at Wendell Wilkie High School.

Hey, Mr. C.,

OK, so I get it that you’re not interested in signing a permission form so I can donate my brain to science. I didn’t think you would do it but I figured it couldn’t hurt to ask.

Anyway, that means I’m going to have to go back to school (again) in about a month, and the whole Wilkie High experience will happen to me one more time. Oh well. I guess they’d miss me if I was gone – I’ve been there so long I pretty much have seniority over all the teachers and administrators anyway, and they ask me how stuff ought to be done.

Imagine that – THEM asking ME for advice!

One year in early August Principal Peepers was just starting at Wilkie and he got visited by a delegation of parents saying he should change the lunchroom routine around to “the way it used to be” about 5 years earlier.

They had all heard it was better back then but nobody could recall exactly what was different about it.

The teachers weren’t much help. The youngest ones hadn’t been at the school that long and the old timers had gone through so many different lunch management schemes everything was just a blur to them.

So they asked me, figuring that I had such a famous history of breaking lunchtime rules I must be an expert on every single regulation throughout all of time.

“And your brain is young,” Principal P. told me, “so you can call up the details at will.”

But what he didn’t know is that I’d been pretty much sleep deprived my whole time at Wilkie – at first because I was a late-night-TV junkie, and then from staying up super-late to use the computer on the sly because my folks wouldn’t let me on the internet unless one of them was in the room to monitor my “activity”. So I didn’t remember either. But what was worse – I didn’t know I didn’t remember.

There’s this new research that explains it – they say being sleep deprived really opens up your mind to retaining false memories. So like your mind is really open to suggestion and you take something totally fictitious and buy into it like it’s real. My dad says Sara Palin has this same problem, so I know I’m in good company. Famous company anyway, which I think is pretty much the same thing.

Anyway, here are the rules I told them we’d had for lunch five years before. They questioned me pretty hard about it, but I stuck to my guns.

  1. The lunchroom lights must be kept super low.
  2. Everyone comes to lunch in costume.
  3. Extra points for extra appendages.
  4. Talking is allowed in as many languages as possible.
  5. Food and drink should be served smoking.
  6. There’s live music, but the band only plays one tune.

Anyway, nobody in the administration stepped up to “champion” my version of the rules and they wound up going with something pretty standard about keeping your voices down and your fingers off of other people’s plates.

Later on I realized that the “rules” I remembered were not from Wilkie High – that was a false memory I picked up from the Star Wars cantina scene.

Oops! My bad, but we almost had an awesome cafeteria that year!

Your pal,
Bubby

When have you been convinced a false memory was true?

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Brain Strain

Today’s post comes in the form of a letter from perennial sophomore Bubby Spamden of Wendell Wilkie High School.

Hey Mr. C.,

Well it’s past the Fourth of July and the back-to-school sales are about to begin, which got me thinking about starting yet another sophomore year at Wilkie. Some years I wonder if it’s worth the effort. I know lots of people who say it’s a scandal how I keep getting held back in the tenth grade over and over again, but the standards there are high on purpose and there always seems to be a good reason why I shouldn’t advance.

A long time ago I became the poster child for the campaign to end social promotion. So for a lot of families at Wilkie I’m their guarantee that the school is serious about achievement. “As long as that Spamden kid stays a sophomore,” they say, “I’ll know my kid is expected to perform. Imagine! A sophomore forever!”

Anyway, holding me back is now something everybody has gotten very used to, which is maybe the most major reason of all why I’ll never get to be a high school junior. You know how it is when you get into a routine.

So that got me thinking that maybe I need to do something crazy and different to shake things up, which is why I’m writing to you to ask if you could forge my dad’s signature on a form that I have to fill out before I can be allowed to donate my brain to science.

I guess minors need the consent of a parent or guardian to do this, and even though I’m way, way NOT a minor anymore, as soon as they find out I’m a high school sophomore they INSIST I fill out the form. Don’t worry though, you won’t get in trouble because it’s probably not even a crime to pretend to be my dad on a permission form when I’m almost thirty years old!

Did I just say that out loud? Geez, now I’m even more sure there’s something wrong with my brain.

And scientists from all over the world are working right now on solving some of the most complicated mysteries that happen between your ears. So there’s lots of money in the field, and everybody’s arguing over how to spend it.. Some bunch of European brain experts have signed a petition to say the big Brain Project they have going on over there is “too narrow in focus,” which is an odd thing to criticize because when I start flunking tests my mom always TELLS me to focus in on one thing rather than letting my brain “squirm like a toad,” which is a phrase I think she picked up in the ’60’s when people’s brains were really weird. Because toads don’t squirm, they hop. At least they do these days. Maybe things were different back then.

So anyway, they’ll probably decide to do even more research just to keep everyone happy, which is great if you have lots of education in, like, neuroscience and stuff.

I don’t have that education, but I DO have a brain to sell. I’m willing to bet they’ll want to take a really close look at one that couldn’t get out of the tenth grade, just to see what’s wrong with it. I’d like them to take it as-is. I’ve done as much with it as I can and I think the timing is right. Besides, Artie Richter is the smartest kid in 10th grade and he says they won’t have to remove my brain or anything, but I do think if the researchers buy my brain I’ll get to lie around a lot inside MRI tubes, listening to music, which would be an awesome improvement over Mr. Boozenporn’s class this year!

So what do you say, Mr. C.? Will you help me shake things up and change the script this year?

Your pal,
Bubby

Of course I told Bubby that I would not help him avoid going back to school by forging his dad’s signature on a document that allows him to donate his brain to science. But the fact that he thought I might do it suggests there’s some weird chemistry going on inside his noggin, and it would certainly yield some interesting results if the researchers could only get their hands on it.

What could be learned if you donated your brain to science?