Thursday, 18 September 2014

Happy Birthday to Me!

It's that time of year again, so I'd invite you to be upstanding and join Stevie Wonder in a singalong with me this Sunday.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Good News - Now Brought From Aix To Ghent

If you weren't able to make it to the presentation last night (but thank you to the nearly 100 people who did make it; how nice to meet you!), you can listen to it below:

'Catholic Spirituality and Mental Health', Dawson Society, Perth, 2 September 2014

(I don't remember the chamber orchestra being there at the beginning, that's all ...)

Thank you very much to Tom, Elizabeth, Daniel and all other organisers of the Dawson Society for inviting me to speak - it was a pleasure.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Tochter aus Elysium

Last night we went to see/hear Beethoven's 8th and 9th Symphonies performed by the WA Symphony Orchestra (WASO) and the WASO Choir, at the Perth Concert Hall. (Actually, we went to hear the 9th, but were prepared to take the job lot ...)

We had dinner beforehand at a Nice Restaurant, where the ManChild picked the olives out of the garlic bread, but otherwise behaved perfectly.

The music was magnificent. In fact, it was DAMN fine. Double in-fact: the 9th got a standing ovation.

I've only once been at the Concert Hall in the past when there was a standing ovation, and that was the first time I ever heard the 9th performed live, with the Wiener Singverein, in around 1990. My friend Helen and I had tickets from someone/somewhere, and we sat in the boxes, almost on top of the double basses. So of course, when that theme was introduced in the fourth movement, we not only heard it, but felt it vibrating up through the floor.

The performance was later panned by the music critic of the West Australian newspaper, which triggered a very cranky response from people asking whether the music critic had even been there that night.

I don't think that will happen this time, though.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Vindicated (Part II)

This morning Matthias Cormann told the Australian public something I'd suspected as long ago as May-June this year.

He's announced that the Medical Research Future Fund is basically a piece of economic legerdemain - a way of showing an asset on the balance sheet.

This is being sold to the media as Cormann 'supporting this marvellous humane medical research agenda with sound economics', but methinks it was actually the core idea all along.

Unless - awful thought - I gave Cormann that idea by writing about it in Quadrant, July-August issue, when I decided to ask whether the Commonwealth should have anything to do with medical research funding, seeing as they normally couldn't pick a winner in a one-horse race.

Yikes.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Who Do You Think You Are?

I think everyone should be able to spend a quiet evening at home from time to time, making pate with a donated truffle (thank you, Nini) and watching oneself on television.

Who Do You Think You Are? 19 August, with Lisa McCune. My bit comes in at around 38:14.

And in the very next section is my chum Dr Deb Rosser, who works with the WA component of the Find & Connect Project! That was a nice surprise; I didn't realise she was taking part in this episode as well.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Too Harsh - or Too Soon?

My brother linked to my previous post on Ricochet, and I only just worked this out ...

So anyway, I went and dutifully read the comments, in light of the recent news that Robin Williams had early-stage Parkinson's, and that this may have been a factor in his decision to commit suicide.

Point One: The 'bipolar genius' crowd can just pipe down for a second. Williams appears to have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder reasonably late in life - after years of cocaine and alcohol abuse. I am no clinician, but even I know that drug and alcohol abuse can lead to bipolar-style disorders. Especially cocaine, which is like dropping Alka-Seltzer into the brain. So Robin Williams' celebrated 'curse' of 'bipolar genius' may have been caused by his own freely-chosen recreational behaviours.

Point Two: Way to slap the Parkinson's groups in the face. No wonder Michael J Fox was so surprised - there's nothing like killing yourself to say to someone, 'Your life as a person with Parkinson's is so appalling, I'd rather be dead.'

Don't get me wrong. I feel terribly, terribly sorry for Williams. I thought he could be hugely funny. I also knew he could act seriously. He is in one of my favourite movies, The Fisher King. (Mind you, I'd still love this movie even if it had someone else playing Perry, because it's a Terry Gilliam movie with my kind of themes.)

It now turns out that he was also someone who spent his whole life running away from things, and/or who didn't have the kind of love in his life that gave him the courage to face the future with a long-term illness.

But I feel more sorry for his family, because they will now have to live - for the rest of their lives - with the awful trauma and damage done to a family by a suicide.

I wish people would think about this more often, rather than glamorising celebrity suicides. Try calling Lifeline instead? 13 11 14.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Not Joining the Grieving Just Yet

UPDATE: Guys, look at the next post as well ...

So I could mention a Hollywood actor who died by suicide, even though he was very talented, still had money, still had career options ahead of him, was doing OK with the alcohol issue, had no less than three wives, one of whom was still very fond of him, and three kids, all of whom were very fond of him, but who decided for reasons not entirely clear to end it all, and leave a lot of people gutted.

Or, I could mention a Hollywood actor who died of natural causes after a long, tough, productive, and interesting life, much of which was lived outside of the movie business. Because talented people who are prepared to work hard, and try other things, actually can and do find ways of getting by that don't involve public adulation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Guess who won?