My Culture Survey (Spain Edition)

**I saw this survey in The Atlantic and loved it. I adapted it slightly.

The upcoming event I’m most looking forward to: Visiting the Costa Brava of Spain. The sun-kissed land, a rugged coastline lined with pine-edged coves, golden untouched beaches, and crystal clear water. Its beauty extends inland with important Greco-Roman ruins, and quiet Medieval villages, and boasts a unique artistic heritage thanks to its most famous native, Salvador Dalí. Virtually every Spaniard we meet asks us if we have been to Costa Brava. It has some of the best food in Spain. And oh yeah, seven episodes of the Game of Thrones series were filmed here on location as part of season 6. 

The television show I’m most enjoying right now: 3 Body Problem. This show reminds me why in my youth I thrilled to books by Issac Asimov, Andre Norton, Robert Heinlein, and Kurt Vonnegut. No wonder the Chinese government does not like it. And my Chinese friend Jing says the four-volume book the show was based on by Cixin Liu is amazing. Finished the television series, now starting on the books. Yes. 

Best novel I’ve recently read, and the best work of nonfiction: My lifelong reading practice is to read non-fiction in the morning and fiction in the evening. Non-fiction charges me up for the day, and fiction rocks me to sleep at night. Best recent novel: Sexus: The Rosy Crucifixion I by Henry Miller. It is equal parts thought-provoking, disturbing, erotic, and perverse. Best non-fiction: Taste: My Life Through Food by Stanley Tucci. A beautiful and captivating book written as though Stanley is personally reading it to you. 

A quiet song that I love, and a loud song that I love: Quiet: Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber. Deeply moving, quietly passionate, and exquisitely sensual. Loud: Enter Sandman by Metallica. Rock music of my youth. I suppose you could say I have diverse musical tastes. 

A musical artist who means a lot to me: Elbow. An unfortunate name for a band but all will be forgiven as you listen to the multi-layered lyrics, instrumentation, and mesmerizing grizzled baritone vocals of Guy Garvey. Start with Magnificent, Grounds for Divorce, One Day Like This, Kindling (Fickle Flame), and All Disco. Yep, diverse, haunting, and brilliant. 

A piece of visual art that I cherish: The hand-carved statue of Don Quixote that graces our great room bookcases. It is a gift from my late father-in-law Jerry Crews, purchased by him in Spain long ago, and I consider it priceless. 

A cultural product I loved as a teenager and still love: A compass that I’ve had since junior high school. It still resides in the same case and little did I know then that the circle would be the most important symbol of the second half of life. 

Something I recently revisited: Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie. My youngest daughter urged me to read the original version when she was in high school and (as she knew) I was captivated. I recently picked it back up and it is one of those rare books that was even better than I remember. The sands of time have made the magic of that book richer and more meaningful to me now than I could have ever dreamed. 

A piece of journalism that recently changed my perspective on a topic: Ezra Klien had a convincing article this week in the NY Times about saying goodbye to Gmail. And I am doing so now. My new email is more simple to remember than my Gmail address and is much more user-friendly and secure. Be sure to say “hey” if you would like my new address. 

My favorite way of wasting time: Watching YouTube. Love Seth Myer, Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert, Jordan Klepper, Jon Stewart, and the Daily Show Team. 

Something delightful introduced to me by a kid in my life: This is a tough one. As I struggled to answer this—I realized that I have no kids in my life. A few months ago we went over to watch a dance competition where my dearest friend Melissa’s daughter Haven competed. In between shows, we went up to their suite to have lunch and hang out. Haven and I hit it off and she put false eyelashes on me. I remember feeling glorious about those moments, the touch of a child, the joy of playfulness, and just now I realize it was probably the first time in months (years?) that I had interaction with a kid. 

A good recommendation I recently received: The camarero (server) at the iconic Tapas 24 recommended Almejas al jerez con berenjena y jamón ibérico (Clams in Sherry Wine, Artichoke, and Iberian Ham). Oh my goodness. 

The last museum or gallery show that I loved: The Great Library of Tomorrow. Imagine being able to open up a book and walk into the story as it’s being told. An immersive experience where books come to life and imagination knows no bounds. 

A poem, or line of poetry, that I return to: “For wanderers, dreamers, and lovers, for lonely men and women who dare to ask of life everything good and beautiful. It is for those who are too gentle to live among wolves.” —James Kavanaugh

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2 responses to “My Culture Survey (Spain Edition)”

  1. randy Avatar

    Ray, You got it on the email address and I would love to see your answers!!!

  2. Ray Hensley Avatar
    Ray Hensley

    Loved it as it gives insight into who you are. Creative use of a survey and it got me to thinking about my own responses. Thanks and, yes, I would like your new email (if I don’t already have it).