Read. Watch. Listen. with Mel Goodale

Read. Watch. Listen. introduces you to the personal side of our faculty, staff and alumni. Participants are asked to answer three simple questions about their reading, viewing and listening habits – what one book or newspaper/magazine article is grabbing your attention; what one movie or television show has caught your eye; and what album/song, podcast or radio show are you lending an ear to.

Western neuroscientist Mel Goodale is the Canada Research Chair in Visual Neuroscience and founding director of The Brain and Mind Institute.

Today, he takes a turn on Read. Watch. Listen.

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Days by Moonlight by André Alexis, author of Fifteen Dogs, winner of the 2015 Scotiabank Giller Prize, Canada Reads, and the Windham-Campbell Prize.

The former Western Writer-In-Residence’s new book is an exploration of the strange mythology and otherworldly customs of small-town southern Ontario. Our narrator and guide is Alfred Homer, a young botanist, who agrees to accompany his late father’s friend, Professor Morgan Bruno, on a road trip through the region. Professor Bruno is keen on tracking down people who knew the (late) John Skennen, a famous poet, whose biography he is writing. The magical realism of their journey draws the reader more and more into a world of witches, werewolves, and seers, as they encounter Skennen’s former friends and lovers.

The book captivated me, not only because of its clear and compelling writing, but also because in recent years I have become familiar with Schomberg, Nobleton, New Tecumseth, and neighbouring towns where the story unfolds. My daughter and her partner moved to this part of southern Ontario several years ago – and I have visited the region often. I have to say though that, after reading Alexis’ book, it’s hard to think about these towns the same way again. A wonderful read.


Counterpart starring J. K. Simmons, perhaps best known for his performance in Whiplash.

In the midst of a pandemic, Counterpart resonates almost too closely with real life.

The premise of this two-season science-fiction series (available on Starz) is that in 1987 a parallel world to Earth was created (Prime World). Both Alpha World and Prime World share an identical history up to that point, but slowly – and then rapidly – begin to diverge. Everyone in Alpha World has a counterpart in Prime World, and their lives from 1987 onwards inevitably go off in different directions. Deep below a UN agency in Berlin the two worlds are physically connected. Clandestine ambassadors, government agents, spies, and terrorists move between them – unbeknownst to almost everyone.

And yes, one world experiences a viral pandemic and the other doesn’t. Much of the narrative flows from this event.

I won’t give away any more, except to say that J. K. Simmons, who plays the central character(s) in Alpha World and Prime World is amazing. Somehow, through his physical acting, Simmons is able to convey two very different people who share an identical origin. It’s a tour-de-force. Although the series has a slow burn, I became completely engrossed by the alpha and prime characters who inhabit the two worlds – and sometimes move between them.


Who can’t be impressed by the ingenuity and hard work that so many people have put into entertaining us online during this difficult time. My Twitter feed and YouTube are so jam-packed with creative music videos that I can watch and listen to a new offering every day.

Here are some of my favorites:

Beethoven’s Ode to Joy performed by the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra.

Honeysuckle Rose performed by the Fleur Seule Jazz Band in NYC.

Habanera from Bizet’s Carmen performed by Teiya Kasahara 笠原 貞野.

And of course, Western’s own neuroscience rock band BÄM (Adrian Owen, Tim Bussey, Hooman Ganjavi, and Conor Wild). Here they are performing Stay at Home (a public service riff on the Rolling Stone’s Start Me Up).

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If you have a suggestion for someone you would like to see in Read. Watch. Listen., or would like to participate yourself, drop a line to