Musings


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Faculty as Agents of Change

Many of you are aware that Husband and I are big Bruce fans. We saw him in concert five years ago and I have reviewed his recent biography. It was amusing to see how Javed changes as he follows Bruce. He dresses like him: white T-shirts with rolled sleeves, flannelette shirts and denim jackets. His language is infused with song lyrics. Even for those who are less familiar with Bruce or his music, chances are you will have heard these some of the tracks eg Dancing in the Dark, Hungry Heart, The River, Blinded by the Light, The Promised Land, Cover Me There are external tensions throughout as we see the everyday racism shown to the Pakistani community.

Little boys urinate in the mail slots of their homes, they regularly have to clean off graffiti, and personal safety is often under threat. A major clash occurs when a family wedding coincides with a day of Far Right protests. It would have been easy to make the father an overly extreme character, but there is depth to him as well, as he feels the burden to provide for his family, and weeps over the amount of work his wife has to do.

These are common themes in movies: the tensions between generations of a family, and the tensions of immigrant families working hard to provide for their children, but uncertain what to do with the more modern Westernised offspring that result. It was honest, sensitive and real.

The soundtrack, both the Springsteen songs and other s artists e. Pet Shop Boys, A-ha are fantastic, and well placed in the story. The reality of life in Luton for immigrants is a little confronting. We can empathise with all members of the family as they struggle to find their way. In the end, sometimes songs really can give you a soundtrack for your life. I was a guest of Universal Pictures. This movie will be released on Oct Monday, August 19, Five Feet Apart.


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Monday, August 12, Any Ordinary Day. How do you go on when in the midst of one normal day, things change forever? This is the story Leigh Sales wanted to address in this book, and she has done an excellent, insightful job. This springboards into a reflection and investigation into how people cope and change when they have faced a major event. Sales is a long-standing experienced journalist and perhaps this is why she has been able to interview so many people. Included in her list are: Louisa Hope, survivor of the Lindt Cafe hostage crisis who also has multiple sclerosis.

Walter Mikac, who wife and two daughters were killed at Port Arthur. James Scott, who survived 43 days lost in the Himalayas and then become the centre of a publicity storm. Stuart Diver, the only survivor of the Thredbo landslide, who has since also lost his second wife to cancer. There are others too whose names we might not recall as readily or know at all, but have suffered their own private griefs and shocks. What is highly valuable is some of her analysis along the way. She talks to coroners, police officers and priests and gives helpful comments on the legal profession, police force and those who help others, how they can be helpful or harmful to those grieving and suffering trauma.

She also considers how journalists help or hinder these tragedies, all in the name of reporting what the public want to know about it. Maximum public curiosity and therefore maximum media harassment coincide with the peak vulnerability of the people involved. If he finds value in Christianity then surely there are lessons for me to draw from that.

How people think they could never survive what others have had to go through. While she does refer to some people who have really struggled with tragedy, it is clear they are not the main focus of her research. And there are so many good people in the world, actually, so much kindness,.

Sales has done an excellent job with confronting but also uplifting subject matter, providing analysis and research while keeping a very personal and caring touch over it all. Posted by Wendy 1 comments Links to this post. Labels: books - non-fiction. Thursday, August 8, Juliet, Naked. Husband and I both enjoyed this movie about living with the consequences of your choices, yet still trying to make the future better. Annie Rose Byrne is the museum curator of the sleepy seaside town of Sandcliffe, England.

They decided early on not to have kids, and Annie now regrets it, but they are both set in their decision. In fact, as she acknowledges early on, much of the issue is that Duncan is in love with another man. Not in any romantic way, but as a super intense fan of once mildly famous singer Tucker Crowe.

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He runs a website where sad, middle-aged men gather together to debate various parts of his music and speculate on where he is, since Tucker has not been seen in public for over 20 years. To her great surprise, Tucker himself Ethan Hawke gets in touch to commend her on her review.

This kicks off an email exchange where they get to know each other and compare the realities of their current lives. While Annie laments her choices resulting in the lack of children, Tucker is facing his own past with four ex-partners and five children. As he notes, when you stuff up the first two decades of your adult life, it gets messy for the rest of it, and there is a lot you are trying to make up for. These exchanges are lovely: they are honest, candid and funny. For those that want some content indicators: there are a fair number of f words, and a shot of batteries being removed from a vibrator.

They were honest about their lives, their choices and where they lead them, yet also optimistic about change and positive about the potential future.

Which Countries REALLY Win the World Cup?

Neither were over-the-top characters, not overly dramatic. Monday, August 5, Invisible and Invincible. Jazmine is 13 and likes to remain hidden. She can remove her hearing aid and just switch off. Everything comes to a head when Shalini convinces them all to wreck the drama classroom and Jazmine is on the brink of suspension. However, drama teacher Miss Fraser intervenes and convinces Jazmine to be her helper for the upcoming drama production.

One proviso is that she has to write down her feelings in a private journal. For the first time in years, Jazmine starts to analyse what she is thinking and how she feels and acts. As the weeks unfold, Jazmine discovers she loves being involved in the play, she experiments with some gardening at home, and starts to ask questions about what happened to her father. However, she continues to think she is worthless and has nothing to offer and is stunned when some nicer students including Gabby and Liam, extend overtures of friendship towards her.

It is really a story of a girl learning to find her own voice and be OK with who she is. The themes are quite developed, with the bullying being quite intense at points, as well as the desire she feels for one boy. She also has to face what happened to her father. I probably liked this one even more.


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  7. Jazmine is balancing friends and their eccentricities, a boyfriend who is making her feel uncomfortable, and lots of nightmares when she tries to sleep. But family is never simple and an accident means Jazmine has to step up and care for others. I finished both thinking Paterson has done an excellent job of portraying the variety of feelings and emotions of young women, and the challenges of friendships, boyfriends and complex family relationships.

    For that reason, I was a little surprised Jazmine was only I felt the story would still have worked for a girl up to 15 or Miss almost 12 also liked them, but wasn't as keen on the boyfriend parts. I enjoyed them myself, and there were sections that brought a tear to my eye. Paterson is Australian and so it reads very naturally for our context. The places referred to all smaller towns and regions on the east coast, and the books reflect people, life-styles and a school system many of us are familiar with.

    I see too there is now a third in this series — Being Jazmine. Friday, August 2, Instant Family. All five of us enjoyed and were challenged by this movie about fostering. Ellie Rose Byrne and Pete Mark Wahlberg are very happily married in their forties, and have a business flipping houses. When they show a house with five bedrooms to their family to look at, a random comment that they would never need such a large house because they are never going to have kids gets them thinking.

    Seems the years have gone by, it was never the right time and then after a while they stopped talking about it.

    Musings from the mountains

    Pete makes a joking comment that perhaps they should just adopt a five-year-old so it would seem like they started having kids earlier than they did. This prompts Ellie to do an online search and she ends up on a fostering website, struck by the number of children needing homes. Pete is drawn in as well, and they end up in foster care classes. So, the movie ends up with two main groups of people — the first being the adults in the foster care class and their instructors. These are a diverse group of people, from all walks and stages of life, wanting to care for foster kids for various reasons.

    The two instructors, Karen and Sharon, are great. They are honest, wise and willing to laugh. They walk beside these families through all their ups and downs, and support and encourage them along the way. Then we are introduced to the kids. There is a fostering fair, where prospective parents and kids needing families can meet each other. They are rebuked by Lizzy, a fifteen-year-old, who tells them not to worry, but go and look at the little kids and forget about them. They are intrigued and on inquiring discover than Lizzy has two younger siblings Juan and Lita, whom she has raised since their mother went to jail for drug use.

    They decide to proceed and bring all three children into their home. Not surprisingly, it is hard, awkward and emotional. There are temper tantrums for Lita, Juan is terrified of ever getting in trouble, and Lizzy is distant and reticent. When it gets really hard, they have an honest conversation about whether they can back out. Yet there are also moments of real joy. Connections are forged, trust is earnt and love is growing. It seemed to touch on many of the big issues of fostering. This includes raising kids who are a different ethnicity to yourself.

    Pete wonders if there is a problem with a white couple taking on three Latino kids. There are the emotional challenges of being in a system where family reunification is the priority. As for content? We have numerous friends who foster and our kids are becoming more aware of it. Monday, July 29, Human Race.

    Private Equity

    Do you read any history at all? I suspect this is common, for as we age, we start to realise how much we do not know. We also see in a small, personal way in our own lives how much we can learn from the past and how history repeats itself, and so we might also be intrigued about that on a larger scale. This is a great, illuminating book. The idea for the book started when Mortimer heard a TV presenter at the end of the 20th century claim that it was the century that had seen the most change. He has then drawn conclusions about each and tried to select one key agent of change one person that most affected that century.

    He has also limited it to the Western World, which for most of the book means Europe. Now imagine doing it without any guidebooks, phrasebooks or money, facing incredible heat and large numbers of heavily armed enemies.

    And imagine doing it without ever having travelled more than a few miles from your native village. While the plague hit in a couple of major instances, it also returned every decade or so for hundreds of years. People went to bed aware that every night might be their last. In the 15th century clocks came into common use which meant that time was now secularised rather than set by the church and times of prayer.

    At the same time mirrors also came into regular use, increasing the sense of individuality and uniqueness of each person. The sixteenth century saw "The combination of three things — the printing press, the use of the local vernacular and the spiritual significance of the Bible — that challenge the dominance of the pulpit and the marketplace and ultimately turned Europe into a literate society.

    The seventeenth saw multitudes die from famine, yet there were also medical and scientific revolutions as well as expansion by Europeans into the rest of the world. The eighteenth century had huge change in transport medication as well as agriculture practice and economic and social theory. Many of us know the huge changes of the 20th century, and Mortimer includes developments in transport, the increasing isolation of people with urbanisation, our reliance on electricity, and the media.

    He first tries to categorise the primary forces underlying change, and then develops a scale for how to measure each of the changes. Need for change is usually determined by basic needs: the need to eat, or the need for shelter. When basic needs are met then humanity turns to issues of security, law and order and health. Generally after all that comes ideology and personal fulfilment. We also see that change is never just about technology: "Breaking down the overall overarching concept of change into smaller facets has allowed us to glimpse the dynamics of long-term human development.

    We can see that not all change is technological: it includes language, individualism, philosophy, religious division, secularisation, geographical discovery, social reform and the weather. Considering energy consumption versus long-term supply, he raises the question of whether the world can continue to function as it does for much longer.

    Some of his conclusions are somewhat depressing but they are also informed and challenging. I really enjoyed this book, and learning about change over history. I appreciated his analysis and have come away more informed about the last millennium. Spoiler alert: What I found fascinating was that in the final analysis, Mortimer came to the conclusion that the principal agent of change for the entire millennium was God. Now he openly acknowledges he does not believe in God and for him, God does not exist.

    However, he concedes what he thinks is irrelevant, because faith in God drove much, including changes in the church, and learning in medicine and science. Knowing God made all people equal also pushed various changes for equality. I was impressed with his analysis here, and wonder if he was himself personally challenged by it. I have already noted in his historical fiction novel that it is clear he has no faith himself, yet there is a humility that allows him to come to the conclusions that he has.

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    Musings – Exploring the world with my friends

    Friday, July 26, Palm Beach. This lovely new Australian movie is a story of friendship and family amidst the realities of getting older set against the backdrop of the gorgeous Palm Beach in NSW. It is set over one weekend with three couples and their kids, all friends since the men were in a band together 40 years before.

    The first half of the movie sets the scene, with the various relationships between the couples and their children, showing where tensions have grown over the years, and the history they all share. But there are secrets in the past, and this weekend is threatening to unravel them. It is a beautiful setting, showing off the NSW coastline in all its light filled, eucalyptus back-dropped glory. Photo: Kyle Tunney.

    Saturday, September 21, Incantation review: Misty performance art about intergenerational trauma. Photo: Alan Gilsenan. Sorry Gold review: An intoxicating and profound aerial epic. Emily Aoibheann's extraordinary aerial dance brings us from the heights of civilisation to its wreckage. Photo: Eoin Kirwan. Thursday, September 19, Some Names Were Changed review: Fiction brings us closer to the truth in this cluttered documentary play. In Ross Dungan and Ronan Phelan's new interactive play, the audience help tell the story of a married couple.

    The fact that many gay men who carry the dual diagnosis are feeling fairly great, not feeling or showing signs of illness thanks to their drug cocktails or gym regimens, misleads many of those infected. I don't know if hep C is called "the quiet killer," but it easily could be, so unnoticeably does it nestle into your body before crankin' up the screws and letting you race to figure out what's going on.

    Now I'm asked to put pen to paper and, in so many words, take you on a brief tour of the Rabbit's hole that is swallowing me up. A peep into my own private dying process and what I've noticed over the past year as my surroundings get curiouser and curiouser. It's not wild, but it is mysterious, and you'll encounter some of the strangest thoughts en route to the main tunnel going straight down.

    My "accomplishment" of being one of the first wave of gays to deal with the messy last stages of this dreary road to death speaks for itself. Despite this writer's basic clumsiness and dull-wittedness, I will now tell the tale. Let's break my list of "accomplishments" down into the four seasons, shall we? Think of it as a cautionary tale. Last winter, '01, was typical of any year in recent times for me. Six years earlier, my gig writing a regular column for The Advocate had to, regretfully, be put out to pasture thanks to a full-time career as a crystal addict.

    I'd finally rehabbed from the drugs and drink, and I was a lonely hermit, presiding over my nine stray cats in a small one-room kingdom on a hillside in Los Angeles's Echo Park, where I took many naps and read English rock magazines. But I was feeling well enough to still say yes when a girlfriend asked me to accompany her to the University of California, Santa Cruz, in the spring to move her year-old son for summer break. Shortly after the three of us set upon his dorm room to dismantle it, a small but sharp twinge of pain registered just under my left kneecap.

    And it would not stop.

    In fact, it got worse. For the duration of the weekend and through the trip home, it got worse and worse. Damn my friend, I said to myself as it throbbed away. How could she have forced me into so much work? But on returning to L. It was a septic infection that had settled under my left knee.

    But I still believed I was invincible and continued my old lifestyle. However, it was only a couple of days later that I awoke one afternoon in Cedars-Sinai hospital. I don't know how the day started out, but I had been found in a mud puddle near Echo Park Lake at in the morning. At the hospital, I had accosted the nurses and doctors. I ripped out the I. More blood. Then there was my left leg. Sometime during the previous 48 hours, it had swollen to at least four sizes larger than the right one. The skin was shiny and tight.

    Though doctors told me I should stay in the hospital, I was having none of it. I returned home; me, the cats, and my little wooden house in the wilds of Echo Park. Ready to stick it out to the bitter end, little did I know, in terms of my domestic setup, that finality was about as close as the nearest Starbucks. Actually, bona fide incontinence waited until fall to make itself known.

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