Category Archives: Bubby Spamden

Fixed in Space

Today’s post comes from perennial sophomore Bubby Spamden, forever in the 10th grade at Wendell Willkie High School.

Hey Mr. C.,
Some of my older teachers at Willkie were kind of broken up yesterday when they found out one of their favorite TV characters, Mr. Spock, had died. I think a few of them wanted to cancel school for the rest of the day ’cause they kinda felt like their youth was passing before their eyes.

Mr. Boozenporn seemed to be a little dizzy and weird. He sat at his desk texting friends and muttering “Live Long and Prosper”. While he did that, he made us watch this super-long geek-out video which is nothing but the same pointy-eared guy in funny clothes and a bad haircut saying his TV show lines for almost 15 minutes straight!

So while the video was running, I got out my phone and looked up this Leonard Nimoy character and found out he was really interesting and smart, but he spent pretty much his whole adult life stuck with this character that he played on TV for only 3 seasons and people wouldn’t let him put it behind him. That made me think about how long I’ve been stuck as a sophomore at Willkie and I felt like I understood him pretty good after that.

When he finally started to speak to us again, Mr. B said Spock was his idol. He said his friend Ron worshiped Captain Kirk but Kirk was an over-dramatic goofball whose impulses always got the Enterprise into trouble so dumb luck and Mr. Spock could get them out, and then Kirk got all the girls and the credit, which wasn’t fair.

Mr. B. said he identified with Spock because he was all about logic and science and he wasn’t emotional but people were drawn to him anyway, which was like getting a free pass ’cause you got loved but didn’t have to do any loving back.

Then he got teary-eyed and blurted out some stuff that sounded like apologies to somebody named Arlene. But I kinda think he should’ve apologized to Mr. Nimoy, too.

Your pal,
Bubby

Are you Spock, or Kirk?

A Sequel With No Equal

Today’s post comes from perennial Sophomore Bubby Spamden, still in the 10th grade at Wendell Willkie High School after 30 years.

Hi Mr. C.,

Well,  my world got totally rocked yesterday when the news came out that Harper Lee’s second book is about to be published.

I’ve been a high school sophomore for about a third of Ms. Lee’s (age 88) life, so I’ve had plenty of chances to read her first book, “To Kill A Mockingbird.”

And by “plenty of chances”, I mean I’ve been forced to read it every October since 1985. And no, the teachers and principals who insist on keeping me back year after year after year are NOT about to cut me any slack when it comes to the reading assignments.

Or the enrichment activities.

I’ve done “To Kill A Mockingbird” storyboards to “demonstrate and extend” my learning. I’ve listed vocabulary words from the book, drawn plot diagrams and character maps, and discussed themes, symbols, and motifs.

I’ve even written a paper discussing “To Kill A Mockingbird” as an archetype of the hero’s journey, and I still don’t know what an archetype is.

There have been thousands of quizzes and hundreds of role-playing exercises. I’ve been Scout, Boo and the angry mob. And I’ve written my own version of Atticus Finch’s closing argument. Seven times.

I hope Ms. Lee knows what a gift this second book will be to 10th graders everywhere, if only because I’m flat-out exhausted with her first one.

I saw Mr. Boozenporn standing outside his room and I told him that if I’m held back again (which I will be), I’m really looking forward to reading “Go Set a Watchman” in his class next Fall, and he just laughed.

“In your spare time, maybe,” is what he said. So I asked him why.

“Oh, I don’t know. Maybe because there are already a gazillion lesson plans built around ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’.  Or maybe because the school has a whole room in the basement just devoted to storing copies of ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’.  Or it might be that your teacher has led a unit on “To Kill a Mockingbird” for forty years and is too old and tired to  do anything about ‘Go Set a Watchman’.”

Then he shrunk back into his room real suspicious-like.   I think he eats raw squirrels in there.

Your pal,
Bubby

I told Bubby I will never understand how he can be so stuck in the 10th grade, especially now that I know he has read “To Kill a Mockingbird” every Fall for the last 30 years. Doing that alone would be enough to graduate, I’d think, if only for the repeated transfer of wisdom. But I’m no expert when it comes to education. Perhaps he doesn’t test well.

What are some of the books you’ve re-read, and why?

Recruit to Deny Guy

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

Hey Mr. C.,

I admit I’ve been a pest when it comes to passing notes in class to ask girls if they want to go out with me. Usually (always) the answer is “no”, because … well, it just is.

But that’s OK. My feelings don’t get hurt too much ’cause I’ve been in 10th grade for about 20 years and a guy just gets used to things over that much time. Pretty much I just do it out of habit.

Come to think of it, maybe that’s why some of the girls say (behind my back) that I’m creepy. On account of I’m old enough to be boyhood friends with their fathers.

Anyway, we just had a meeting today with Mr. Norton, the guidance counselor, and he told us about an amazing thing colleges are doing that I think is so inspiring, I’m going to start using it in my personal life because it might help me stop feeling like such a loser.

It’s called “recruit to deny”, which describes the practice of sending letters and e-mails and texts to students who the schools know are probably not going to get admitted, hoping to draw an application so they can say “no” and look more selective, meaning “better”.

Like I say – really cool idea.

So here’s what I’m thinking – I’ll change the notes I’m writing to these girls in my class from “Hey, do you want to go out with me sometime?” to something that’s more closer to a college recruiting letter, like “Hey, I’m inviting you to ask me to go out with you. Lots of really super girls have asked me already, and the ones I went out with thought it was one of the greatest educational experiences of their lives! It’ll cost a bunch ’cause of course I’ll want you to buy, but sometimes it takes a few bucks to learn important things about the world.”

I realize not very many will take me up on this offer, but I don’t get many “yeses” as it is. Even if I got just two to ask me out, I could say “yes” to one and “no” to the other. Then I would both have a date AND feel kinda selective and special!

And I wouldn’t feel sorry for the girl I turn down either, because she be the real winner. For obvious reasons!

What do you think?
Your pal,
Bubby

I told Bubby I found his latest note disturbing on a number of levels. As the oldest high school sophomore in history, it is totally inappropriate for him to be asking classmates out on dates. I’m relieved to hear that no one has taken him up on it. His latest idea to send out insincere invitations and mimic the callous strategy of some colleges to seem more “selective” is simply ludicrous, and I doubt it will bring him anything but sorrow.

On the other hand, it does feel wonderful to be wanted and unobtainable, so I get where he’s coming from.

When has turning down an offer made you feel good?

Window Shopping

Today’s post comes from perennial sophomore Bubby Spamden, national poster child for the campaign to end social promotion and a fixture at Wendell Willkie High School.

Hey Mr. C.,

I know the economy is (supposedly) picking up and people in my age group have better employment prospects now compared to just a few years ago, when the likelihood of finding work after graduation was pretty much zero.

Now they say if you study the right kind of thing you have a good chance of getting hired if your training lines up with all the jobs they say are coming – jobs that have real specific requirements.

In fact Mr. Boozenporn organized a job fair just before the Christmas Break where we had a chance to go to the gym during our study hall hour and talk to experts in a bunch of different fields about what we need to do to get ready.

There were people there from the medical fields to talk about being nurses and doctor’s assistants. There were technology people there to talk about being all different kinds of engineers.

And there was even one who said we could get work right out of high school as long as we were willing to change bedpans and take care of old people, a super-needy and traditionally grumpy group that is growing every single day.

Nobody wanted to talk to that guy.

I took a walk around but didn’t see anything interesting, mostly because I was still holding out for my dream job – being a NASA mission specialist on the International Space Station, in charge of looking out the window.

Seriously – being in space is awesome (I think) but everybody we send up there has a hundred different jobs to do so nobody gets to just look at stuff.

I was super-ready to take that job, but then I got a big disappointment. Somebody already has it!.

Still, I think this is pretty amazing, and when you consider that the universe is vast, there’s lots more to see. Notice he only spent a little bit of time looking out the windows on the other (non-Earth) side!

Now that we know it can be a “thing”, maybe there will be other openings for Space Lookout Observation Boy. My mom says I was born to be a S.L.O.B.!

Your hopeful pal,
Bubby

What can you see out your favorite window?

The Fake Persona Strategy

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

Hi Mr. C.,

I don’t get to see much television ’cause there are so many other screens to watch I don’t have enough time for it. But I know things are different for you older folks. You still think we kids spend our nights the way you did – sprawled on the living room floor in front of the tube, with mom and dad sitting on the couch behind us.

That’s kinda sweet, I guess. But why would anyone ever lay down on the floor in front of a screen that doesn’t respond to you? Weird.

Someday you’ll have to tell me all about how it was in olden times. Maybe when I’m your age I’ll have the patience to sit and listen – can you wait that long? I suppose the math doesn’t really work out.

Anyway, that’s why I haven’t watched the TV show that’s the big deal of the moment now that “Stephen Colbert” has signed off the air to make way for Stephen Colbert, who will debut a new show on CBS in September.

If I get what people are telling me, “Stephen Colbert” is a fake know-nothing blowhard character made up by Stephen Colbert to poke fun at people who are real know-nothing blowhards.

And for this they say he’s a genius!

He also got rich doing it, and is going to get even richer in the Fall when he replaces David Letterman. But in that job he’ll be playing his real self, not his fake one.

I’m not too keen on all this using media to pretend to be someone you’re not. Does that really work? I’m pretty sure people are smart enough to see through it without much trouble, just by the language you use and the look in your eye.

But that’s just me.

Still, it does give me an interesting idea – do you think Principal Peepers would buy it if I told him that all these years I’ve spent at Willke High I’ve been pretending to be a snotty, selfish, shallow sophomore when in fact I’m really good-hearted, smart scholar-type who’s just been doing a big con, like a performance art project with me as the star? And that next Fall I want to switch back to my real self and get on with my life?

I could use a lucky break like that. And if it can work once, maybe it would again and again! It would sure be a cool way to get out of a bunch of the trouble I expect to get into after I (someday) graduate!

Hopefully,
Bubby

I told Bubby it all hinges on whether Principal Peepers is:

  1. A Colbert Fan
  2. Gullible

As a high school principal, there’s a slim possibility he’s the first, but no chance at all that he’s the second. Still, it doesn’t hurt to dream big.

What’s your best fake persona?

Love Storm, Revisited

This morning at 9am, my good friend Mike Pengra will re-air the final broadcast of MPR’s Morning Show on Radio Heartland, recorded 6 years ago today.

Such a kind gesture from a true gentleman!

Since it’s only good manners to bring a gift of some sort to a party, I’ll offer this – a post from the old “Trail Balloon” blog that immediately followed the event itself:

Our final Morning Show broadcast was an immense hug and a truly beautiful thing thanks to the waves of faithful listeners who flowed to and through the Fitzgerald Theater and St. Paul’s Central Presbyterian Church. The size of the crowd went well beyond our expectations (I wagered 1500) and their warmth was off the charts.

As a lifelong radio guy, I am naturally timid at the thought of facing a live audience, but this group was as comfort-inducing as any collection of 2000 souls can be. What’s the opposite of an unruly mob? A ruly mob, I guess. That’s what we had.

All the heartfelt words of praise for our Morning Show were oh so welcome, but after awhile I did begin to feel a bit guilty. Let’s face it, everybody works hard and the stress of day-to-day living takes a toll. Who wouldn’t get a boost from having a gaggle of admiring people asking for your autograph? I confess I enjoyed it tremendously, but I recognize that most people deserve a kind word and a pat on the back for the good things they do every day, and do they get it? You know the answer. Sorry Jim Ed and I hogged the love storm, but what could we do? It blew down the doors.

The Morning Show is done. It was a long-running and sometimes confounding radio gymnastics routine with plenty of twists and flourishes and it looked like we would come crashing down a couple of times, but our spotters were there for us and gravity gave us some lucky breaks, and the dismount was incredible.

When have you finished well?

Pester Fest

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

Hey, Mr. C.,

In Mrs. Hecubensen’s “Modern Living” class we’ve been talking about time management skills and staying on-task, which is pretty much the same stuff we covered back in kindergarten but it feels like I have a lot harder time paying attention to it today.

Mrs. H is a real hard-liner when it comes to staying focused. She’s all about schedules and lists, which is why we’re always trying to steal the lesson plan off her desk. If we can get it, it’s like unplugging a machine! She literally slumps down in her chair. Pretty amazing!

Anyway, last week we covered to-do lists and one of the assignments was to ask an older person for some detailed advice on how they keep track of all their tasks, and then write a short report about what they said.

Since you’re old, I’m asking you!

But don’t answer right away, because Mrs. H said “If anybody takes time right then to go into detail with you about time management, listen politely but ignore everything they say because only a poor time manager will accept such a distraction. The right answer is to say – ‘Let’s schedule a meeting to talk about it.'”

So why don’t you think about it and get back to me! I don’t want to have to listen and ignore what you say! I want to be able to write my report and THEN ignore what you say!

Also, I had a business idea about this – there’s this study where parents were sent text messages to remind them that they are supposed to read to their children. I guess people are so busy they don’t remember to do the things they already decided to do until somebody tells them they meant to do it.

I got to thinking, that would be a good line of work for me. I’m already an expert in being nagged about stuff that’s not done. Maybe I could use all that experience to bother other people about things they’ve blown off!

Then my job could be messaging people constantly, which is all I do anyway! I’m thinking I could call it “Pestertext.com!”

What do you think?

Your pal,
Bubby

I told Bubby “Pestertext” is a great idea – so great that I want him to take me on as his first customer and send me a text to remind me to put him on my schedule so we can talk about how I manage my time. He said he would do it, but that was a couple of days ago and there’s been nothing so far. So I think I might be off the hook!

How do you manage your time?