Paul Isaacs' Blog

Autism from the inside


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Paul Isaacs: Living Through the Haze 2nd Edition Review By Dr. Manuel Casanova 

 

Paul Isaacs’ book, “Living Through the Haze”, has been published (second edition). The book has new content, a new introduction and an afterword that I wrote. Paul was diagnosed as autistic in 2010. As a child Paul was considered to be a “naughty child” with no prospects for a future. At present Paul is a lecturer, trainer and consultant who promotes autism awareness throughout the UK. In the following paragraphs I provide the afterword that I wrote for “Living Through the Haze”:

Many times during his life Paul felt confused and detached from his surroundings. His attention could only focus on one aspect of his sensory experience. He lived his life as if wearing blinders, and as such, he could not react adequately to what people asked of him at home, at school or at work. His perceptual style made him seem odd to his peers. Parents, teachers and peers objectivised and bullied him.  In the end the reader can only wonder, how did Paul survive?

For many autistic individuals the environment overwhelms their nervous system with information.  Seeing a face is like looking at the sun. Blinking, when looking at the sun, is a response aimed at avoiding damage to your eyes by allowing only a sliver of sunrays to hit your retina. In autistic individuals, allowing only a sliver of available information into your brain is meant to protect it from overstimulation. Overall, autistic individuals can’t see the forest for the trees and it is easy for them to become thoroughly engrossed in the details of a particular situation but miss the larger picture.

Paul grew up displaying many of the classical symptoms of autism. Unfortunately, as is the case for many autistic individuals, his diagnosis came late in life.  Still, he prospered and found fulfillment in being a speaker, counselor and in helping others like him. In this book Paul publicizes his own plight with some of the darker aspects of autism. Through no fault of his own Paul was misunderstood and relentlessly bullied by even those who were supposed to protect him.  The psychological and physical aggression that he suffered is at the crux of a mixed mood disorder that at times has greatly handicapped him.

So we can ask again, how did Paul survive? In a longitudinal study sponsored by the NIMH on so-called recovered autism, it seems that the most salient commonality for those that “recovered” was caring parents who were quick to act on behalf of their children.  Paul in this regard was blessed with caring supportive parents and grandparents. He also found solace and purpose in a special education camp outside of school, which he called the “Autism Base”. There he found others like him living within a spectrum of severities. More importantly, within the Autism Base he found comradely and a social sense of togetherness.

Paul has not forgotten the painful experiences of the past but has learned from them.  Indeed, the excuses provided by the teachers who failed him are indelibly marked in his memory. He has a keen power for introspection.  His ability to self-reflect is one of the reasons why I believe that there is undue emphasis in the Theory of Mind conceptualization of autism. Paul was always keenly aware of his mental state and on occasion provides privileged access to the mental state of his parents.

This is a must read book for parents with autistic kids, especially if they are attending mainstream schools. The book is also a valuable aid to teachers. It portrays in a no holds barred way the effects of intimidation and the behavioral manifestations of bullying. Finally, Paul provides many constructive comments and guidelines as to how to improve the school system and teaches by example the positives of a supportive role by parents.

Source: Paul Isaacs: Living Through the Haze


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Dr Who – The Invasion – DVD Review

 

This DVD is a 2-Disc Edition of The Invasion with two missing episodes which have been animated 

PLOT

The is an “Earth Story” and this would become a staple of the 3rd Doctor Era the title suggests the main plot of the story aliens that are preparing for a global invasion starting with the United Kingdom.

The main plot is an expansion on themes used in the Troughton “cyberstories” which includes the dangers of technology and how this has an effect on people, communication devices such as video links are used throughout preempting such devices that we take for granted now, as well as the political dangers of single force wanting to control the world. The cast are colourful, deep and imaginative with enigmatic performances, tight dialogue and atmosphere.

PICTURE 

The picture is sharp, detailed with a good deal of contrast and saturation although at times the picture is a tab soft probably due to age . I viewed this in HD upscaled 1080p 60 frames per second. Overall there is  higher clearer definition of picture quality.

Image result for dr who invasion animated

ANIMATED EPISODES

The animated episodes are well done with excellent attention to detail, sharp background contrasts, faithful character design and animation lends to the atmosphere of the serial in turns of camera direction which feels less cinematic and more faithful to how it would have looked and excellent job by Cosgrove Hall.

AUDIO

The audio is clear with few hisses and artifactual noise this is something that I have noted in Hartnell and Troughton era that attention by the Restoration Team is paid not only to the image but also the quality of sound which is of course is restricted by technology at the time.

CONCLUSION

This is really classic Troughton at its best a tight another tight endearing story by  Kit Pedler about technology, fabulous direction with stunning visuals and atmosphere, great memorable and enigmatic performances. One of my favorites.  Highly Recommended.

Paul Isaacs 2017


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Dr Who – The Moonbase – DVD Review

 

 

This DVD is a The Moonbase with two missing episodes which have been animated 

PLOT

The plot revolves around the Doctor and his companions landing on the lunar surface were a complex weather station controls and maintains the weather of the entire world through gravitational pull. The cybermen are all but legend destroyed many years ago. However a mysterious illness is plaguing the base and eerie shadows reveal a familiar enemy.

The main plot deals with many interesting aspects of the future, a space station on the moon which is habitable, a weather station that controls and protects the people of earth and the jeopardy of this station failing mixed with whodunit esque subplot which brings both the Doctor and his companions into full and colourful characterisation.

Image result for dr who moonbase dvd

PICTURE 

The picture is sharp, detailed and well balanced with good colour saturation considering its age with. I viewed this in HD upscaled 1080p 60 frames per second. Overall there is  higher clearer definition of picture quality.

Image result for dr who moonbase dvd

ANIMATED EPISODES

The animated episodes are well done with good pathos and atmosphere which matches the feel of the other episodes, I would however say they went more for a cinematic feel in the terms of camera angles and shots which may divide fans. I enjoyed the visual renditions which do stay faithful to the overall character and set-pieces plus the cybermen look amazing and well detailed.

AUDIO

The audio is clear with a few artificial hisses and pops here and there overall a worthy and crisp audio considering its age dialogue is clear  as well as the nerve jangling and atmospheric score which is a treat to hear much like in in Tomb of the Cybermen.

CONCLUSION

With yet another gritty and ambitious story  and script by Kit Pedler about technology getting too advanced and going awry, fantastic set-pieces, sturdy characterisation of the main players and and interesting sub-plot this is Dr Who at its best. Highly Recommended.

Paul Isaacs 2017


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Dr Who – Tomb of the Cybermen – Revisitations DVD Review

 

This DVD is a 2-disc Special Edition of Tomb of the Cybermen with upgraded video and audio as well as new special features.

PLOT

The plot is a dark and brooding entry for the infamous cybermen instilling a sense of dread as an expedition has found a dormant tomb that holds creatures from a distant past who are slumbering. The characterisation is at times dated but the overall composition of technology gone awry is potent in this story, human greed, selfishness and sacrifice are themes as the doctor who in his sage wisdom warns them of the dangers of tampering with technology that they do not understand. A metaphor in itself.

  

PICTURE 

The Revisitations DVD is a worthy upgrade from the earlier edition with a sharper picture, deeper colour saturation, minor enhancements to the images when the the title are overlaid is a worthy mention too. I viewed this in HD upscaled 1080p 60 frames per second. Overall there is  higher clearer definition of picture quality.

AUDIO

The audio is clear with a few artificial hisses and pops here and there overall a worthy and crisp audio considering its age dialogue is clear as well as the nerve jangling and atmospheric score which is a treat to hear.

CONCLUSION

With polished and ambitious story  and script by Kit Pedler with high tension and plenty of bite to a worthy video and audio upgrade as well as a host of extras this a must see for fans of classic Who. Recommended

Paul Isaacs 2017


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The Exorcist III – Film Review (1990)

OVERVIEW

This is the review of The Exorcist III Shout! Factory’s Collector’s Edition on Blu-ray

PLOT

The plot is set 15 years after the original movie The Exorcist and is set around two three key people from the original movies Lt Kinderman, Father Dyer and Father Karras and a another “The Gemini Killer” who was put in the electric chair the same night Karras fell to his death saving a young girl from possession.

The overall tone that Blatty sets is very different from the original. It is at times highly subversive and it plays very much like a supernatural thriller in terms of making the audience question many aspects of belief that a tied into the situational aspects of the plot which link both movies and it’s characters.

 

Image result for exorcist 3 blu ray images

PICTURE 

The picture compared to my old Warner Bros DVD Anthology release and the Warner Bros Blu-ray is a stunning 2k restoration by Shout! Factory  with vibrant flesh tones expanding on the details which are particular resonant in the dream sequence and cell scenes with deep colour saturation and limited grain.

AUDIO

The audio is clear and crisp with good dynamic range it has also been given an upgrade with a DTS HD audio in both 2.0 and 5.1 surround sound I choose the downmix and was very impressed by its range, depth and clarity.

CONCLUSION

Underated is what I think of The Exorcist III and at times rather deep and philosophical, dramatic and haunting it is a beautifully shot movie with a clever plot, stellar performances and real lingering sense of tension and suspense. Highly recommended

Paul Isaacs 2017


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Autism As A Fruit Salad By Donna Williams Book Review

AVAILABLE AS $5 E-BOOK

From 1995-2011 I worked with over 1000 people diagnosed on the autism spectrum. In order to best address the needs of children and adults with autism I needed to fathom what was being called or presumed ‘their autism’ and work out the underlying mechanics of each of these things.

The Autism As A Fruit Salad is a 37 page, interactive, comprehensive alphabetical 101.  The E-book form comes complete with hyperlinks on the vast collection of over 200 conditions that in combinations can collectively present as ‘autism’ or ‘parts of one’s autism’ (The signed paperback format doesn’t have the hyperlinks). In either format, Autism As A Fruit Salad should equip those living with and working with autism to move beyond the static 2D model of autism to a dynamic 3D model that goes beyond one-size-fits-all-approaches and gives you tools to tailor approaches to each person.

WHO IS IT FOR?

* Anyone wanting to understand what is involved any particular person’s ‘autism fruit salad’
* Parents, case managers, behaviour intervention staff, troubleshooters and people with autism looking to gain a clearer sense of what it actually presenting as ‘the autism

BOOK REVIEW

A comprehensive and rounded view of what “autism” is Donna Williams has opened up many people’s perspectives with her lectures, blogs and books around the subject of “autism” in many ways this is a sister book/sequel to her handbooks Autism: An Inside Out Approach (1996) & The Jumbled Jigsaw (2005).

It is structured in an easy read listed fashion with hyperlinks for each piece it also supplies hints and tips for people who want to find out their “pieces” too, the E-book edition supplies the reader with hyperlinks giving a personal and interactive style to the reader making accessible guideposts.

Donna supplies deep introspection as always in her knowledge and the essence of giving something back in many ways she build up a plethora of experience both personal, educational and practical in her years as a consultant this book  condenses it for the reader making it accessible for young and old, novice and veteran I highly recommend this book.

Paul Isaacs 2016

 


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Top 15 Tracks – A Tribute To Pete Burns & Dead or Alive

RIP Pete Burns when I started collecting vinyl in the early 2000s Dead or Alive I pleased to say I have collected the most all the singles most of the LPs and import CDs (he had a massive following in Japan).

I am pleased that the ultimate DOA compilation is coming out at the end of this month Sophisticated Boom Box and 19 disc compilation of all their albums, one live album, 1987 live show, promo videos and more. If you going to make a song that is remember over 30 years later that is achievement.

To celebrate Pete Burns and DOA with their floor stomping disco music to their proto-goth early years I am going go through a Top 15 DOA List with notable additional mentions (and probably a blog too) so here goes. .

DEAD OR ALIVE TOP 15 TRACKS 

1. Dead or Alive – Flowers – 1980

If people like Punk with a little mix of Goth this is a good place to start is 1980 and Pete and his band “Nightmares in Wax” were big on the underground Liverpool with many singles already under their belt this raw live performance from Pete shows something that is more akin to the “The Doors” and “The Cure”

2. Dead or Alive – I’d Do Anything  1983

DOA released their first album under the new wave producer Zeus B.Held and this single “I’d Do Anything” is still “dark” DOA with progressive lyrics and interesting vocal range from Burns and the dash of electronic synth this a well packaged single.

3. Dead or Alive – That’s The Way (I Like It) – 1983

I nice cover from DOA and a minor hit on their first album with the androgyny being both in the Punk and New Romantic scene coming into the forefront of music then Burns came lapping up the lyrics with a fun video to boot.

4. Dead or Alive – Something In My House – 1987

DOA by their third album “Mad, Bad and Dangerous To Know” knew how to create dance music, with fast beats, repetitive synths and lick of a guitar here and there this little gem was created. I like the video to it really tells the story of the song with striking black and photography.

5. Dead or Alive – Rebel Rebel – 1994

DOA and of other bands had been “children” of the creationist era of music the children who heard Bowie and other strange characters they grew up and created their own images, sounds and shapes. I find it fitting that Burns done a cover of Bowie’s “Rebel Rebel” they lyrics seem very fitting to the man himself who was always pushing the boundaries.

6. Dead or Alive – Your Sweetness Is Your Weakness – 1991

DOA went in a different direction in the early 90s releasing “Fan The Flame Part 1” a lighter direction in turns of Hi-NRG and tone from the previous albums which was more ballad driven in many ways and many songs about love, loss and melancholy. This song is very different in all those areas focusing on Burn’s range with shot in amazing black and white (an interesting medium in its own right).

7. Dead or Alive – My Heart Goes Bang (Get Me to the Doctor) 1985

This single is from the “Youthquake” album which had that well know hit Another single was this one with fast synths, memorable lyrics and Burn’s powerful vocals make this an interesting single and the start of DOA’s journey into dance music.

8. Dead or Alive – Whirlpool – 1982

With its raw vocals from Burns, echoing instrumentals and immersive lyrics that capture the feeling of going “down” into the “whirlpool” this was the more experimental period of the DOA tenure still with punk roots well embedded in this moody single.

9. Dead or Alive – Misty Circles – 1983

With a firm mixture of dance tracks on their first album there was also some “darker” singles embedded this being one of them with moody lyrics, sound instrumentals and a flamboyant Pete sporting dreads, a large hat and colourful clothes this a nice a slice of New Wave.

10. Dead or Alive – Number Eleven – 1981

With its chanting choruses, organ piano and rambling echoing lyrics this was again the early days of DOA with their proto-Goth and Punk side that maybe not a lot of people do not know about this one I like with its group vocals weaving in and out of instrumentals creating a very dream-like atmosphere.

11. Dead or Alive – Nukleopatra – 1995

This song is a nice blend of humourous lyrics with a bit of trance tempo through into the mix something that is quite refreshing when listening to this song of how differing DOA’s back catalogue is.

12. Dead or Alive – Son of a Gun – 1987

This song is a mix of melody, beats and of course repetition. The lyrics are tongue and cheek something that Burn’s would do more frequently in the stock of his songs towards the end of the eighties. A real gem of a dance track.

13. Dead or Alive – The Stranger – 1981

We are going back to the early years again with this soulful haunting piece with an abpt title. The arrangements in this song a much akin to early DOA something which I realise listening the tone in the early years is darker, brooding, echoey and dream-like while the latter years are lighter, camper and brighter. So maybe unique thing about DOA is the slow shift from 1983 onwards to more techno dance tracks.

14. Dead or Alive – Nowhere To Nowhere – 1980

Rambling lyrics, setting a story with power and again powerful vocals from Burns. The organic arrangement of the instrumentals as stated below gives a tone which is differing DOA and lyrics go together well in this arrangement.

15. Dead or Alive – You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)

I have decided to do a compact Top 15 with notable mentions as additions this goes without saying as firstly DOA’s well know song and secondly a dam good dance track with a quirky video, fantastic chorus, punchy lyrics and memorable instrumentals that goud you onto the dance floor 30 years on and it still a powerful fun track so here goes.

NOTABLE MENTIONS 

CONCLUSION

Pete Burns was a one off and his image and music will continue his legacy will be an well versed and diverse catalogue of music differing in tone, genre, melody and contrast depending on what era you choose and that is how  to remember him through the legacy of music that is being shared.

Paul Isaacs 2016