Trial Balloon

The Big Fib

Posted at 6:00 AM on May 20, 2010 by Dale Connelly (42 Comments)
Filed under: Bubby Spamden

Radio Heartland has tickets to give away for another sold out concert at the Cedar Cultural Center.
Ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro and singer/songwriter Jake Armerding will perform on Sunday, May 23rd at 7:30 pm.

Enter the drawing.
Obey the rules.
Good luck!

In my in box this morning I found the following e-mail from our friend at Wendell Wilkie High School, perennial sophomore Bubby Spamden.

Hi Mr. C.,

Well the year is almost over here at Wilkie , and the graduating seniors are having a great time with that Adam Wheeler story. He's the guy who's getting sued by Harvard because he they gave him 50 thousand dollars in scholarships that he didn't deserve.

But it's the non-graduating seniors who really love this story. They're amazed at how far you can get in higher education by telling lies, lies and more lies. It gives them hope.

Wheeler said he went to a fancy private high school. He didn't.
He said he was the class valedictorian. He wasn't.
He said he had PERFECT scores on his SAT's.
NOT EVEN CLOSE!

And yet he got all the way into a big deal Ivy League school and almost out the other side! He would have made it if not for plagiarizing some stuff, and then he got caught fibbing when he applied to transfer to Yale.

Who knew a simple liar could trick so many people at a famous brainy place like Harvard?

Lots of students lie about their SAT's. It happens all the time at Wilkie - usually at lunch when my biggest underachiever friend, Dopey Stuart, tries to convince us that he got a really high score. Then somebody says something like "If you got THAT, then I got THIS", and then somebody else tops it, then others do the same until a half dozen people who can't even add their age to their IQ are saying they got perfect scores and a free ride to Princeton. And we go on from there, with numbers being shouted across the table that are well over 2400, or what we call perfect PLUS! With all the laughing and hooting we get louder and louder and before long some food gets thrown and the lunch cops have to step in and start writing out detention slips.

It's fun.

Anyway, I've been a sophomore long enough to know all the reasons why it's wrong to lie, starting with "you'll get caught". My teachers are always talking about Madoff and Petters and John Edwards and blah, blah, blah. If all they did was ask us to repeat that stuff on the SAT I'd have been out of here years ago. But the test makers keep wanting to know about all that math and junk. What for? All I want is to be a star, and there are all these examples of people who got to be famous for being good, but not great, liars.

So here's my question - If you were going to try to be the best liar ever, where would you go to get that education? It looks like schools teach a lot of different subjects, but I don't see anybody who offers a degree in it, or even better - a Doctor of Falsehood, which would be a really cool thing to have.

I feel my future unfolding, but I still don't know - what's the next step?

I'm speechless. Anyone?


Comments (42)

oh, Bubby. i don't think you can study lying. i think liars are born, not taught. and it seems to me that you are just a bit too sweet to be a really good liar. i've known some liars in some really high places. they are cold-hearted - no, they didn't have hearts. real lies, not charitable untruths, usually come back to bite you (as in all those names you've mentioned). please reconsider.
now i'm off to milk the goats. getting 20 gallons a goat. :-)
good morning, All

Posted by barb in Blackhoof | May 20, 2010 6:10 AM


Not so sure about an institution of higher learning, Bubbie, but I don't think you have to look much farther than your own neck of the woods to find some champion liars.

I'd suggest you start with a summer internship, as it were. Hang out at the local diner/coffee hangout of the old guys in town -ask about their youth, or about fishing and hunting.

In the afternoon, hang out at the country club and ask guys about their greatest golf games.

Practice makes perfect, so start by convincing younger kids you are something you are not. You can then work your way up.

If you can convince one of the bright young women of your acquaintance that you are an ambitious young man who is really going places, I'd say you had achieved the equivalent of a Masters in Deception, and will be ready to move on.

Good luck with that .

Posted by catherine | May 20, 2010 6:18 AM


Among Yale, Princeton, Harvard, Oxford, U of Tokyo, Cambridge, U of Chi, t he Sorbonne and Bemidji Statee--all of which I attended--none match those snooty beavers, full of fishermen and lumberjacks.

Posted by Clyde (Marquis de Mahnkahto) | May 20, 2010 6:22 AM


As George said to Jerry in Seinfeld, "Jerry, just remember, it's not a lie if you believe it."

Good morning, all.

Posted by elinor | May 20, 2010 6:29 AM


Good morning all. Well, I don't think we even want to talk about all the problems lying and misleading the public has caused in recent years and through out history. It's just too sad. But, you can never admit you are in favor of lying. Even the most stupid lying person knows that. I'm afraid there is no future in openly teaching people to lie and there are plenty of people to learn from if you want to improve your lying.

Posted by Jim | May 20, 2010 6:29 AM


i was thinking of many of clydes alma maters as the correct places to start. geeze clyde did you just keep getting kicked out of one school after another? i think the university of minnesota has a good candidate in the carlson school of business, i think business and politics are the path to true utilization of the art of the lie. art and music are the true path to the truth but if you believe that you are buying into the lie. the successful art people i know are very good at smoke and mirrors and have learned to walk the walk.
my office partners wife is a woman of integrity who is a hired problem solver who comes in to figure out how to make this part of the business work better and then that part. she is driven crazy by all the grown human beings who steal her work and claim it as their own. they sit at their desk and do nothing all day in an executive capacity then steal an idea and retain their job for a while longer. she moves to a different company and the same thing happens again. she keeps getting promoted and working for better companies but it is an amazing list of places where the 20 30 year guys make their living by playing games instead of performing. i think bubby may be on to something her. dale what qualifacations does mike pengra really have?

Posted by tim | May 20, 2010 6:39 AM


dale do you have glad to see you've found religion in the archives? early wainwright III

Posted by tim | May 20, 2010 6:50 AM


Where to best learn to lie? Oh, my!

Not in the legislature. I worked there once and was impressed by the amateur quality of the lying. Most legislators were too busy to work up really creative lies.

The best liars I've known have been addicts or lawyers (no offense intended). I suppose if you want a PhD in lying you might try living with a lawyer with an addiction.

The funny thing about lying is how hard it is to do well. You have so much BS to keep track of if you don't want to get caught. Truth may not be the best policy, but it surely is the easiest.

Posted by Steve in Saint Paul | May 20, 2010 7:32 AM


Okay, Bubby, all you need to do is open a school to help people become more professional. I was a little confused once when I was told I should learn to be more professional. I thought I was trying hard to be professional, but now I realize that what I was being asked to do was to become skilled at lying.

Posted by Jim | May 20, 2010 7:42 AM


i think the issue is that the word lie is a bit abarsive. if we call it truth extension and fact manipulation it would have a entirely different reception. truth after all is a matter of perception. on an intellectual level the perception of what is true may be different form one moment to another and so if you have a destination in mind all you have to do is find a way to get there in presentation and you haver achieved truth. i think sounds like a nobel pursuit. i think maybe should begin by realizing where he wants to be and work it backwards. if he has an idea of his doctoral thesis and then builds his resume to compliment it he would be all set. i think clyde list of schools would work perfectly. i love the bemidji state insertion. waa that the first school clyde? to go from there to princeton yale harvard u of chi u of toyko cambridge sorbonne is quite a journey. a kid from two harbors in worldly places like that makes you appreciate the opportunities out there. bubby should develop a coursework proposal for world study program than includes all the great universities. maybe clyde could help with curriculum development.

Posted by tim | May 20, 2010 7:45 AM


tim,
Mike Pengra checked the library (he has a Phd in Music Location) and discovered that we don't have the Loudon Wainwright III song you requested ("Glad to See You've Found Religion"). Sorry.
Is there a different Loudon song you'd like to hear? I should play something of his - he's featured on Mountain Stage tonight.

Posted by Dale Connelly | May 20, 2010 7:49 AM


Dale, maybe you already have it coming up, but if you don’t, how about Fool Me Again by Janiva Magness?

Posted by Linda in St. Paul (West Side) | May 20, 2010 8:05 AM


Greetings! I like that Dave Frischburg song Dale just played. I'm a terrible liar, so I just don't do it in general. And don't get me started about lying in medical journals ... 'nuff said.

I read that article and I'm still not sure how he could fake SAT scores -- isn't that an official mailing from a specific, certified SAT provider or something? If he's smart enough to do that much fakery of documents, why bother? I guess I'm not smart enough to figure out why someone would go to such lengths to misrepresent themselves. It's rather sad, really.

Posted by Joanne in Big Lake | May 20, 2010 8:05 AM


yes i heard that he and peita brown will be on. sounds wonderful.
i thought that particular tune would fit the topic today. loudon has so many wonderful tunes to choose from. high wide and handsome is a recent fav if there is time to find it. thanks for the offer

Posted by tim | May 20, 2010 8:07 AM


I think what Bubby needs to do is start with one good, juicy rationalization a day and work his way up. All the best liars seem to have elaborate rationalizations for their behavior.

I say double-major in business and theater - business will give you the buzz words and theater is all about getting the audience to suspend disbelief, so the two combined would get you pretty far, I bet. Perhaps a bunch of classes in public relations to get the art of the spin going...

Posted by Anna | May 20, 2010 8:16 AM


tim, I worked my way up tp BSU; after all they once (still) called themselves the Harvard of the North. Then I went onto the more specific schools MIT, Cal Poly and chropractic college.
Two key points here: lumberjacks are great but unrecognized liars. Where do you think Paul Bunyan stories came from; they exchange near-death lies.
Now one of my list of schools I did really attend; it was full of great liars. The liar on the Red Green show reminds me of them. And of a man my father loaded ore boats with, a man name (something) BusELL (not BUSHell, sort of like Hyacinth Bucket--its prnounce bouquet). He was one of the great creative liars, the artful above board liars. My father came home from work many days and enterained us with the Bushell lies. Now at the U of Chi there was 16-year old blowhard who has lied his way into three highly successful adult careers: college president, author on educational topics and symphony director. I hate to tell you, Bubbie, how many of the famous are just good liars, and not all are in politics or journalism.

Posted by Clyde | May 20, 2010 8:17 AM


tim-could not agree more that the people I know who have found sucess in the Arts have all seen their way clear to embracing the arts of business, marketing and PR. Some are pretty good at lying to themselves about this, but the majority have the integrity to admit it is true. If you're lucky, you can make enough playing the game to support your creativity habit.

I think we all play with a certain amount of lying, and a world of perfect truthfulness would be pretty uncomfortable. The trick is to maintain a certain amount of self-honesty. I try hard to be Hypoccratic (do no harm) rather than hypocritic about it, but I may be kidding myself.

Dale, any chance of hearing Ol'Blevins?

Posted by catherine | May 20, 2010 8:20 AM


i don't know if it throws off the search but the tune is "glad to see you've got religion" not found religion as i stated earlier . it was on the first loudan album in 1970 titled " loudan wainwright III"
mikes phd in music location has been the perfect fit for the morning show.

Posted by TIM | May 20, 2010 8:23 AM


I think Bubby should consider a career in advertising. He'd really learn the ins and outs of persuasion, convincing people there really is a difference between one product and another when they both are essentially the same and probably made in the same factory.

Posted by Renee | May 20, 2010 8:27 AM


Now Bubby, don't go jumping to conclusions. If you wait a day or two someone will publish a story, and the research to prove, that this Adam Wheeler story is just a bunch of lies. You wouldn't want to look naive and gullible, would you?
Speaking of gullible, did I spell that right? I tried to find it in the dictionary and couldn't. I know the editors of some dictionaries have been eliminating 'dated' words from their new editions;one of them is the 2008 Oxford Junior Dictionary. I'll bet 'gullible' is one that has been deleted. What do you think?
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/3569045/Words-associated-with-Christianity-and-British-history-taken-out-of-childrens-dictionary.html
Do I sound a little crabby this morning? Sorry. Maybe I should go get a donut....

Posted by Teri in Zimmerman | May 20, 2010 8:29 AM


My grandfather has his doctorate in the subject for well over 60 years. Ever since I was quite young he has been instructing me and my sister and cousins in the way of "BS" (Though he never hesitated to spell it out). "BS makes the world go 'round!" He always says. "Now look me in the eyes and repeat after me, black is white, and white is black." We'd giggle. Obviously he's the professional here. Now, I only wonder who taught him. My guess is the world. Maybe the war. In practical application, however, garage sale deals are what truly drive the force. And fixing up junk truly makes his world go 'round. He has 15 sit-and-ride lawn mowers.

Posted by Ben Anderson | May 20, 2010 8:30 AM


I couldn't help thinking of the old "Seinfeld" episode where George is desperate to get a job, so he gives Jerry's phone number as Vandalay Industries on his resume. Of course, his lie falls apart in the end, and even dating the hiring manager's homely daughter doesn't work. Absolutely hysterical (as are most Seinfeld episodes).

If I told a big lie, that's probably what would happen to me. Just like the ONE time I went through a stop sign (accidentally) and boom -- cop right there to ticket me.

Posted by Joanne in Big Lake | May 20, 2010 8:31 AM


I was confused because I though Bubby planned to start a course in lying, but he is actually looking for a place to study. He can start with his class mates. There are always lots of people in high school who are trying to inflate their images by lying and he should look for those that are getting away with it and try to follow their example,right? The leaders of the "popular" crowd would probably be good canidates for Bubby to study.

Posted by Jim | May 20, 2010 8:31 AM


thanks. isn't banjo a happy instrament. what phrase will be on your final resting place is a great topic for down the road perhaps?

Posted by thanks | May 20, 2010 8:47 AM


teri--I have been crabby all week, so now you take over. Run with it babe, and bring me a donut.
Mike--who needs any reason other than the pure joy of the words and rhythm to memorize Rock Island. Such wonderful old words--long gone from any modern dictionary I suppose--hogshead, demijohn, noggin, piggin, friggin, and tierce. Such rich words. (My parents used the word tierce--it's a sieve or collendar).
Thanks for Rock Island, Mike and Dale. I once saw a U-Needa Bisquit box in an antique store. Still regret not buying it, but the magma would just get it in the end.
tim--forgot to say this yesterday, you were very funny yesterday.
An old memory of mine: back in my multi-university days when I took a break, I worked as a Roadie for Roy Orbison. I remember this beaitful young woman, his niece if I recall. Lovely, but the only thing on her mind was goats. Such a waste. Oh, well. But what could have been.

Posted by cly de Crabbe | May 20, 2010 8:48 AM


Bubby,
With the professional advent of everything from corporate leadership, to public service, to playing poker, lying convincingly has become a necessary skill in the modern job world. I agree with you, it should absolutely is college degree material or, at the very least, eduational certification material. How else are you supposed to get ahead in the world with all the other greedy sots and nay-sayers. Low supply and high demand requires the use of an 'inside track' and, from what we've seen, the ends ~do~ justify the means.

A really good collegiate lying curriculum would draw upon psychology, history, statistics, ethics (when/how to use and not use them), business administration, economics, and dramatic acting. That's a pretty well-rounded education in my opinion.

Posted by That Guy in the Hat | May 20, 2010 8:51 AM


tim--TGitH beat me to writing the curriculum, and an excellent one indeed, fully larded in cynicism as it should be. I once read a few years a go that all HS teachers should make teaching cynicism a key element for the coming age of too much information on too much media. Wish I knew who said that; she/he was wise.

Posted by Clyde | May 20, 2010 8:58 AM


Bubby should also consider hanging out with people out here who who sell horses. You have to get pretty "creative" to convince that a sorry looking nag is worth the asking price.

Posted by Renee | May 20, 2010 8:58 AM


Bubby, I do need to warn you about getting too good at following the example of the top self promoters in high school. Some times people who do this in high school can't make it work for them latter in life.

Posted by Jim | May 20, 2010 9:04 AM


ben love the grandfather story. new there is a guy who knows how he wants to be remembered. its thursday. i think i'l go garage sailing.
clyde, cal poly, mit and harvard of the north. i guess after you find out the mit's of the world are regular places the extra prestige of the deal changes perspective a bit huh?
looking forward to loudon tonight. i will be getting home form my sons final high school baseball game of the year about then.
hey clyde whats up with the twins? thome may be fun but he could be a hero instead of a goat any day now.

Posted by tim | May 20, 2010 9:10 AM


tgith, clyde jim,ben and dale
this is an enlightening day for me. the art of schmooze and bs must be a thing guys just realize is part of the deal. thats why the petters, madoff, types are so scary. they could be everyewhere. tgith references to the materials needed are exactly the blessing and the curse. they are everywhere. bubby is on to something here.

Posted by tim | May 20, 2010 9:20 AM


tim--either a down period or the real Twins. My prediction in April was that they were over-rated. But if they cannot win this division . . .
I would list Cuddyer, who I admire as an athelete/person, as the bigger goat (sorry barb). How man men has he left on base--half a season of RBI's at least. I have not been watching that much; life has been inconvenient as of late.
By the way, your list of things you possess and their range reminds me of my son. His range of interests is similar.

Posted by cly de cynci de ball de base | May 20, 2010 9:22 AM


Speaking of lying and sports at the same time, think of the levels of lying there, by athletes, owners, coaches, not the cliche lying, the doping lying. I honestly believe--but I am crabby this week--if we could suddenly know the truth about doping in all sports and kicked all of the offenders out, we would have to shut down sports. Few athletes, coahces and owners would be left. Everybnody--golf, horses, auto racing, tennis and the big ones.
Off to the office staff meeting for the day.

Posted by Cly de dope | May 20, 2010 9:28 AM


Anna--
I recall some theater people saying the best class they took in college was 'Child psychology'...

... and remember folks, It's Show BUSINESS, not Show ART!

On my home front, finally finished planting corn; onto soybeans... (right after this dance show in my space tomorrow....)

Oh, and Barb; *Really*?? 20 GALLONS / GOAT?? Wow... those are some goats!

Cheers everyone!

Posted by Ben | May 20, 2010 9:51 AM


Clyde - Thanks for your gracious attitude regarding my grumpiness. The rumba music that Mike and Dale played helped to clear the clouds and I brought back a bunch of donuts from the breakroom for us to share wih any other RHers in need of a smile : )

Posted by Teri in Zimmerman | May 20, 2010 9:54 AM


Ben - I just cribbed notes from my Psych major pals and boy did that help with a couple of directors (some of them more toddlers than directors in mindset). My college scenic design class was where I learned the best lessons in rationalization (really). The prof even encouraged it when you had to explain design elements...got an A on a design that I rationalized a 2D element in the model successfully when that choice was a matter of the materials I had for the model...I had intended that element to be 3D, but my prof and I liked my rationalization better. Not lying per se, just a good juicy rationalization.

Posted by Anna | May 20, 2010 10:50 AM


Oooooh -- virtual donuts ... mmmmmmm

Posted by Joanne in Big Lake | May 20, 2010 10:53 AM


Ben, good catch on the 20 gallons. Subtle, barb. Almost got it by us. Do your goats look like deflated balloons when you are done?

Posted by Clyde | May 20, 2010 11:24 AM


Anna, you are reminding me of a late theatre colleague who used to say, "I've been to grad school, I can justify anything".

Ben-combining theatre with farming? I stand in awe.

And thanks for the virtual donuts-I've got 30 pounds to shed, so they are the only kind I get to enjoy. Renee, are you the one successfully sticking to exercise? How are you doing it?

Posted by catherine | May 20, 2010 11:29 AM


Hello Fellow Friends of Fabrication,

Today is the last day for students here in Sioux Falls and I'm having a difficult time holding back tears. This class of 14 boys and 9 girls has been the very very best in all my years of teaching. Everyone aways listened and finished their assignments. Everyone scored 98% or above on the district tests. No one ever plugged the toilet with paper towels or smeared boogers on the glass. I will miss each and every one of them each and every day of the summer. You couldn't pay me enough to consider doing anything else!

A quote just right for the day:
The teacher should never lose his temper in the presence of the class. If a man, he may take refuge in profane soliloquies; if a woman, she may follow the example of one sweet-faced and apparently tranquil girl--and go out in the yard and gnaw a post.
--William Lyon Phelps, professor of English, Yale University

Posted by Donna | May 20, 2010 11:42 AM


Best lie of the day, Donna.
So will you be blogging more now, we all hope.

Posted by Clyde | May 20, 2010 11:54 AM


Aww, thanks Clyde. I asked my Magic 8 Ball and it came up, "Signs point to yes."

Posted by Donna | May 20, 2010 8:57 PM


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