The Cuckoo’s Nest: My Days in a Spanish Elementary School: Part 6


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Television and radio presenter Art Linkletter was an orphan who was moved from Canada as a child to live in San Diego, California. He was married for 74 1/2 years.  He was a major investor in the patented hula-hoop, without whom it may never have existed. During the Great Depression, he hitched on trains around the country, doing odd jobs. His personality and teethy television presence proved lucrative in the 1940´s, and his early show People Are Funny can arguably be said to be the prototype for today´s American entertainment show which relies almost solely on audience participation and gags.  Kids Say the Darnedest Things, an ending bit on his 1950´s program House Party (a great title for a show), featured his interviewing children, using his experience as a TV personality to set up kids to utter anecdotal bits that were comedy gems to adults. The interviews were gimmicky and surely did not justify more than a recurring bit, like Letterman´s ¨10 Things…¨, and at times, what is happening feels like that unfairness of making fun of a foreigner speaking broken English. Still, children are funniest when they say something that they feel is important, yet inappropriate or ironic. I just hope their creative abandon isn´t at all quelled by our laughing in their faces. Personally speaking from a teacher´s point of view, I try to laugh at them in the same way an audience laughs at a comedian; hopefully in a sort of empowering way, however superficial. In the interest of clarity, it should be said that I never interview kids in the hopes of getting something silly out of their mouths. It is tempting, I must say. Most of the quotes that I have written down result from questions in the cheerless speaking parts of quarterly exams.

The comedy of Art Linkletter´s kids proves how easy it is to come by. Just introduce a universal theme of some sort, and let them talk. Teacher´s anywhere can attest to kids´ accidental humor, yet they rarely seem to collect or recall them, or perhaps they are simply above writing them down for the benefit of a joke.  I am not above it.


Me: “If an alien came to earth, what do you think he would do first?”
Student: “Well, it depends on the alien, but he probably first get rid of all the ugly people, then go see a movie.”


Student (adult): “I eat very little fat from cows because it’s bad for the protestant gland, and I don’t need those kinds of problems.”

Me: “Even if you’re not Catholic, you might be a bit of a hypochondriac.”


 “Well, I think in America there are a few hard questions and a lot of easy answers.”


¨Have you ever been eaten by a shark?¨


¨Teacher, why don´t you have any babies?¨


Me: “Why does Spain have a low natural growth rate?”

6th grader: “I guess they don’t do the amor so much.”


Me: “What’s the opposite of messy?

Student: “Ronaldo?”


Me: “Repeat after me–helicopter.”
Student: “hemicopter.”
“No, it’s helicopter.”
“No, hel-i-copter.”
“Oh, harrypotter!”
“No, helicopter.”
“Teacher, I think I need a psychologist.”


A 11-year-old´s poignant rendering of me on Mondays. And Wednesdays, or Fridays and Tuesdays.

“Victoria do you like Pablo?”
“No way!”
“Well, why did you give him a kiss?”
“Oh, I was just practicing for another boy that I like.”


Student: “Are you the protagonista in that show Glee?”
Me: “Sure.”


“Teacher I feel like a sloth today that needs to be released to the jungle.”
“Do you feel lazy?”
“No, not really. I just wanted to use the word sloth.”


Student: “Profe, tienes ojos tan bonitos. El mismo color que los ciegos.”



Feeling good about yourself? Have a kid draw a picture of you.

Student: “What’s inside your throat?” (Pointing at my Adam’s apple)
Me: “I got a chicken leg stuck in there.”
Student: “Well, I guess you should be a vegenarian.”


Child: Do you have a wife?
Me: No.
Child: Why don’t you buy one?
Me: Good question.
Child: I know.

Some more photos lately 2


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For those of you who remember when I used to write, that person is still trying to claw out of the business of life to reflect and purvey.  In the meantime, here are some more photos from the last few weeks, a holiday break brimming with memorable moments, many of them involving clouds and signs of spring, some with the added pleasure of special people and their company.

In the near future, look for a piece on Huffington Post on this week´s processions celebrating Semana Santa.  For now, a couple links to some past articles:

Elaborate Slaughter: Early Impressions of my First Bullfight (Huffington Post)

Beside Australia´s Glowing Gem, A Rare Blend of Culture and Music Under the Stars (The Cultureist)


From atop the Gourmet Experience bar, Callao (Madrid)

From atop the Gourmet Experience bar, Callao (Madrid)


Some little treasures on the beach in Poole.



More coastal beauty. Near Poole, UK.


Spring flowers in a cemetery, Christchurch (Dorset)


Along the beach in Bournemouth, UK.


A quick view of the remains of Corfe Castle, Dorset.


Spring blossoms along the Manzanares river (Madrid).

Some more photos lately…


Plaza de Cervantes, Alcalá de Heráres (near the birthplace of Miguel Cervantes).




A Vesper at DryBar1862, Madrid.


Christmas at the Palace, Madrid.


Late night bar life, Madrid.


Statue, Agustín Lara, Escuelas Pias, Madrid.


Late night bar life, Madrid.






Cafe at night, Madrid.




Some of 2013, Part 2: Salud!

Salud! Salute! Prost! Santé! Cheers! Skål! Sláinte! Будем здоровы! Saúde!

2013, a year of small celebrations…


My new favorite: The Vesper… 3 gin, 1 vodka, 1/2 Lillet Blanc, shaken. Add lemon peel twist. In a champagne coupe, of course.


Sparkling wine sipped at a furious pace in the Australian Outback. Yes, it makes sense.


Cold beer and sardines (w mojo sauce) over a cliff in Tenerife. A highlight of my year.


An excellent Ribera in Salamanca.


Cider in Cantabria.


One of many exquisite cocktails at 1862 Dry Bar.

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Possibly Spain’s best beer, at the Yacht Club in La Coruña, Galicia.

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A cool Ribera on a warm evening in La Coruña.


More cold Cava in Salamanca.


A Tanqueray Ten to top off the night. Teatriz, Madrid.

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A relaxing bowl of beers in Plaza Mayor.

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Viendo La Roja con un Rioja.

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A cold one in Malasaña.

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On the patio.


Gintonic at the historic Museo Chicote.

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A Pilsner Urquell on the terraza at El Botanico.

Some of 2013, Part 1


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I’ve had the idea of throwing up a collection of my own photos mixed with the work of professionals that I can remember and which have left an impression on me. This may merely illustrate the banality and relative insignificance of my own life, but powerful images have an ability to inspire and contextualize, and often photography is, afterall, an exercise in objectivity. Here is part one:


Sunset on Mars. Photo credit:

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Sunset over Gran Vía, Madrid. Spring. Photo credit: Shawn Moksvold


A fireman gives water to a Koala in the Australian wildfires, 2009. Photo credit:


The Sydney Opera House under an orange sky during the wildfires of 2013.                       Photo credit: Shawn Moksvold


Us in space from the vantage point next to Saturn (Carl Sagan’s pale blue dot).                    Photo credit


A full moon from a telescope near Ayer’s Rock, Australia. Taken with iPad through telescope.                                                   Photo Credit: Shawn Moksvold, The Cultureist.


A man rescues kittens during massive floods, followed by a worried mom. In Cuttack City India. 2011. Photo credit:


A giant Perenti lizard killed by a car. Near the border of Eastern Australia.                            Photo credit: Shawn Moksvold


Turkish police use tear gas on a woman during a protest against the removal of trees in Taksim Square, Istanbul.  Photo credit: Osman Orsal / Reuters


Intermission during the Concert at Uluru, Darwin Symphony Orchestra. Ayer’s Rock Austrailia. Photo credit: Shawn Moksvold

File photo of entrance of the house of art collector Cornelius Gurlitt in Salzburg

The doorway of Cornelius Gurlitt’s Salzburg home, in whose Munich apartment was found hundreds of Nazi-confiscated works of art by famous masters. Info: here.

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My ungulate during a sunrise ride in Kata-Tjuta National Park.                                            Photo credit: Shawn Moksvold


A rainbow over Plaza Mayor, Salamanca. Photo credit: Shawn Moksvold

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Flower garden in Retiro Park, Madrid. Photo credit: Shawn Moksvold



A new island created by an earthquake. Pakistan. Photo credit: Pakistan National Institute of Oceanography.


The glow of the inselberg, Ayer’s Rock (Uluru). Northern Territory, Australia. Photo credit: Shawn Moksvold

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Unabashed use of filters. Madrid.


Old cathedral through the filter of Art Nouveau. Salamanca. Photo credit: Shawn Moksvold

Giant hornets which have stung people to death in China. More info: here


A swimming pool along the beach. Tenerife. Photo credit: Shawn Moksvold


A break in the studio. Madrid. Photo credit: Shawn Moksvold

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Under the spear of just violence. Plaza de María Pita. La Coruña, Galicia. Photo credit: Shawn Moksvold