BRIEF BLOG INTRO:
I'm a man on a mission. A mission to convince everyone I meet that life is worth living, no matter how many obstacles are placed in your way.

I'm a singer/songwriter and actor from Texas "Living in the Bonus Round" in New York City. That is my way of describing how I feel having cheated death. (In a game show, the Bonus Round is where time speeds up and the prizes are better.) Accepting my death changed me. Now, I'm consuming life as quickly and as fully as I can, while still taking time to breathe and appreciate every single day as an utter miracle.

Last year, I turned 60 and I had a set of goals, all of which came true, including composing -- and performing in -- a Mass, recording a solo album (selling 10s of copies), headlining to a sold out house at a major night club in New York City and played the lead role in a staged reading of a play not written by myself. I update a few times a month these days, and I don't spam. So it's easier to keep up with me by following by Email. When this blog began, it was to track my death. I'm told it was the first AIDS blog. You can start at the gruesome beginning if you want. Or just jump in and maybe we can learn some life lessons together. Welcome to the Bonus Round. I'm Steve [SHACK-lin].

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Hemo2Homo: There Will Be Blood

The Hemo2Homo Connection Movie Review

there_will_be_blood_poster2.jpg

The Hemo2Homo Connection are Shawn Decker and Steve Schalchlin.

The Hemo2Homo Connection's creators met online in 1996, and posted their first movie review in 1998. Both have been living with HIV for over twenty years, and have annoyed their friends and loved ones for longer than that. Steve Schalchlin resides in Los Angeles, CA. He is an award-winning musician, singer and songwriter. Shawn Decker lives in Charlottesville, VA. He is the author of My Pet Virus.

hemo2homo.jpg Homo: Hey, thinblood.

Hemo:
Well hidey-ho thar, thickblood. *tip of the hat*

Homo:
I'm glad we're continuing our blood brother theme for this round of movie reviews. It's what binds us together, that positoid virus coursing through our veins.

Hemo:
It sure is, pahdnur. That, and that ol' love for them thar movies coursin' right alongside that virus. And a strut; we both have a certain way of carryin' ourselves.

Homo:
Stop it with the cowboy speak, unless yer lookin' fer sum Brokeback action, Cowpoke.

Hemo:
Read ya loud and clear, pahdnur. *one last tip of the hat*

Homo:
Good Lord. This is not a cowboy movie. It's a BLOOD movie. Well, not really. There was lots of oil but not a lot of blood. They should have called it "There Will Be Gunk."
Hemo: I'm glad you suggested this one: what better movie for a thinblood to review than one called "There Will Be Blood", right? But you're right- oh, oh- how about "There Will Be Mud"?

Homo:
That's better. It rhymes! (I bow to your superior wordsmanship). But how about "There Will Be Mudslinging"? The story of this Presidential election. Or Britney's life.
Hemo: There Will Be Blood wasn't a movie about blood or oil; it was all about the black gold. Texas Tea.

Homo: You just reminded me. As Daniel Day Lewis went out to pretend to shoot for quail, it looked just like the opening of "Beverly Hillbillies" so I leaned over to Jim and started singing, "Come and listen to my story...". When the oil started bubbling out of the ground, I was thrown into a fit of inappropriate laughter.

Hemo: I had a moment of uncontrollable laughter, too! Someone's cellphone started playing an electronic little dittie during the most tense part of the movie, when Daniel Day's son is sitting across from him in the office. At first I wondered if the Radiohead guy who did the soundtrack was messing with me, until I saw the middle-aged woman two rows up fumbling around. Gotta love when they pull the phone out and don't silence it.

The song was "Venus". Please tell your generation to stop doing that.

Homo:
I'm sorry. I had my hearing aid turned down. What was that again, sonny?

Hemo:
What, are you deaf now? Or faking it to get out of doing any work, like the kid in the movie? That good-for-nothin', lyin', cheatin' little...

Homo:
OK, OK, don't get your blood in a clot. I have to say I liked that this movie was very deliberately paced, but still was very gripping.

therewillbebloodboy.jpg

Hemo: Reminded me of an infusion of factor: it was done slowly, but with purpose. (Check out a fellow thinblood, Drew, and watch him infuse himself here.)

Homo: The lead character, as well-played as he was, still seemed like exactly what he was: an all-bad character from a muckraking novel written in the early 20th century. With not one redeeming feature.

Hemo:
Wait, are you kidding? Not ONE redeeming feature?

Homo:
No, not unless I missed something.

Hemo:
Dude: the guy had two bowling lanes installed in his basement! I'd kill all of my friends and family if I had a bowling alley in my home to entertain myself with. What I'm saying is: if he liked to bowl, how bad could he be?

bowling-10.jpg

Homo: Hmmm. Very good point, thinblood.

Hemo:
Really? I was trying to bait you into a barroom brawl, pahdnur.

Homo: Okay. That's it. Now there really WILL be blood. Do I have to get all Rambo on you to shut up that phony cowboy talk?
Hemo: Nah, Tex. But you have been around the Hollywood game longer than me. So answer me this: what the hell was going on with the damn twin in this movie?

Homo:
I have no idea. I spent the entire movie wondering why that deaf kid was playing with matches.

Hemo:
I was on to him. The wonder twins got me. Which is why I have a couple of rules about twins in movies.
They have to either a) look exactly alike and be in a scene together, standing side-by-side with someone saying, "Hey, you guys must be twins!" or b) look nothing like each, be in a scene together standing side-by-side with someone saying, "Hey, are you guys really twins?"

Homo:
Or c) having sex together in a porn movie (though I had different twins in mind than you).
So, what did we think of There Will Be Blood? I'd give it an HIV positive review. But not my fave movie of the year.

Hemo:
I'd send this one in for more tests. Aside from the mystery twins, I enjoyed watching but- surprise- I wanted way more blood. Which brings me to our next movie review: whaddayasay we complete our Bloodfest Trifecta with... Rambo!

rambo.jpg


Homo: Oh Lordy: They were right.

Spending too much time with me has made you... gay.

Will Steve see Rambo? Is the Hemo2Homo Connection in danger of becoming the Homo2Homo Connection? Find out, only on the next installment of the Hemo2Homo Connection!

In the meantime, visit Shawn Decker and Steve Schalchlin online.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Amazing History of "Amazing Grace".

How music can change history.



BTW, knowing none of this, I wrote the song "Connected," which brought me back to life, in F#, and it's sung on black keys.

h/t: Kibs

Friday, January 25, 2008

Hemo2Homo: Sweeney Todd

sweeney.jpg

The Hemo2Homo Connection are Shawn Decker and Steve Schalchlin.


The Hemo2Homo Connection's creators met online in 1996, and posted their first movie review in 1998. Both have been living with HIV for over twenty years, and have annoyed their friends and loved ones for longer than that. Steve Schalchlin resides in Los Angeles, CA. He is an award-winning musician, singer and songwriter. Shawn Decker lives in Charlottesville, VA. He is the author of My Pet Virus.

hemo2homo.jpg

Homo: Hey, Hemo.


Hemo: Hey, Homo. You still alive?


Homo: Wait. Let me check my pulse. Ah, something's throbbing. Yes, I'm alive! You're that same thinblood-hemophiliac guy, right?


Hemo: Yup, same thinblood. It's been 10 years since our first review, can you believe that?


Homo: And they said we'd never make it.


Hemo: Life expectancies of people with HIV/AIDS have gone way up since then.


Homo: And that's a good thing, right?



Hemo: Yes! But expectancies for honest movie-reviews have gone up as well. So the pressure is on. Why don't you pick the first review back?


Homo: I love it when I get to be the top.


Hemo: Is that a hole in the bottom of your tub of popcorn, or are you just happy to see me? Either way, I am excited to hear what you have on tap, what, with all the late-breaking technological advances in movie-making.


Homo: I thought our new return to form should start with... a nice, refreshing musical!


Hemo: Oh, dear God.



Homo: After all, being gay and all, homos like me are supposed to love musicals. And why not start with the bloodiest one of all: Sweeney Todd.


Hemo: A musical... with blood? Tell me more.



Homo: Well, see, it's about this barber in London who slits peoples' throats out of revenge for some judge stealing his wife and sending him away to Australia or something. (Back then, the worst thing they could do to you was to send you to Australia). After he gets back to London, he meets up with this chick who owns a pie shop, so they create this trap in the floor over the pie shop that sends the bodies down into an oven where they bake the bodies into pies.


Hemo: Fun!



Homo: I should let you know in advance that I'm a bit predisposed to wanting to love this one because it was the first Broadway musical I ever saw. Right in the front loge, looking at the original cast of Len Cariou, who I didn't know anything about.


And Angela Lansbury, who I did.


angelalansbury2.jpg Hemo: Wait... you did Angela Lansbury?

Homo: No, thinblood. Try to stay with me here, I'm setting a mood.... where was I...


Oh, yes!



The opening sound of the stage musical was an authentic steam whistle that they got right off a ship. It sent chills up and down my spine and forever turned me into a show queen -- as long as the show was about serial killers and whores.

But, God, forgive me, I have a confession to make: I still can't sit all the way through Oklahoma.



Hemo: I hear ya, thickblood. I rented Rent, and had to stop watching after 6 minutes. I got halfway through the guy on the motorcycle, singing as he whizzed down the street. If you're on a motorcycle in a movie, you best be firing away at someone with a gun, or shoulder-mounted rocket launcher. Or chucking a grenade at robots.


Homo: Actually, you lasted longer than I did. But Rent- like almost all movie musicals- sucked.


(INSPIRED BY HOMO'S WORDS AND THE PROMISE OF BLOODSHED, HEMO MAKES THE THE SPELL-BINDING JOURNEY TO THE THEATRE.)



sweeney_todd_first_looks.jpg Hemo: You weren't lying, this movie is a hemophiliac's wet dream!

Homo: What did I tell ya? The blood really flows in this one! A Horror movie where everyone sings and many throats are slit.


Hemo: Yeah, and if our little movie review doesn't bring together the hemophilia and gay communities, than Sweeney Todd most certainly will.


Homo: Amen to that. And you gotta love that scene in the bakery with the disgusting, cockroach pies.


Hemo: Reminds you of hospital cafeteria food, doesn't it?


Homo: Oh, god. Hospital food with a side course of broad spectrum antibiotics... Good eatin'! Anyway, in that scene, I thought of you and wondered if you'd eat that gunk if there was cheese- your lifeforce- on top.


Hemo: You know what I did eat in that theatre? A black licorice Jujy Fruit!

Jujyfruitsbulk.jpg

Homo: So your teeth could look English?



Hemo: The movie- like my mouth- was so damn dark: my method of holding the candy up to the screen to determine its flavor proved to be as futile as resisting the allure of a close shave from Mr. Sweeney, who sang, "I want you, Bleeders!"



Homo: No. No. He said, "I want you, BREEDERS!" Clearly, he was a modern man who realized that Homo Superior kicks ass.


Hemo: I googled it: it is "BLEEDERS"! He sang the line in desperation, because it's really hard to get a hemophiliac to sit down for a straight-razor shave.


Homo: You hemos are such pussies. But you are learning, young one. Forget about shaving: I've always wondered about airport shoe-shiners. Do they use a rigged-up chair like Sweeney Todd, to help back up the U.S.'s policy that foreign positoids can't enter the country?


Hemo: That's some last line of defense. If one of us gets through, we are berated into getting that shoe shine. From the Jamba Juice to the Cinnabon, scantily-clad federal agents flirt, saying things like. "I just love Fins! But your shoes..."



Homo: Are you sure you're not gay? We should install one those chairs in the Oval Office, to dump useless humans into the White House's basement oven. It gets triggered whenever the Prez signs legislation that says "HIV POZ PEOPLE CANNOT ENTER THE USA!" Just as he dots his "i"... **SCHLUMP**


Hemo: I like that. Let's rally the AIDS community and have that chair waiting in January 2009 for the next president. And no more long hiatuses for us, Homo.


Homo: Indeed, thinblood.


Hemo: As for Sweeney Todd, I give it my highest rating: an Undetectable Viral Load. It really got my juices flowing! What about you, Homo?


Homo: Let's see: blood, revenge, disgusting meat pies, Sondheim music, and great art design? Sweeney Todd deserves two bloody stumps up. Well done!


Hemo: So I guess I'll see you next time at the movies...


Homo: And the pie shop!



Hemo: Or at the hospital?


Homo: ...just not at the shoeshiners.


Hemo: Definitely not.



ON THE NEXT Hemo2Homo Connection Review: THERE WILL BE BLOOD... stay tuned!!!


Don't forget to visit Shawn Decker and Steve Schalchlin online.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Heath Ledger's Death

I can't help but remark about what a tragedy it is to have lost the actor, Heath Ledger. He was so brilliant in Brokeback Mountain. It seems almost impossible to me that an Australian actor could so fully embody this kind of southern man. His accept and his cold, frozen attitude were absolute perfection.

It really is a tragedy, thinking of what this young man might have become -- and now, this will have been his defining role. Sad.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Still In Mourning.

I was telling my friend, musician and singer Norman Anderson that I haven't really cried over Thurber yet.

I have some real life things that are stressing me out just a bit and I just haven't allowed myself, for some reason, to really mourn over him. But I feel this pall. I don't want to inflict it on others, so when I tell them about Thurber having died, I don't make a big deal about it. It's okay with me that some people aren't "pet people."

And I don't know if I'm ready for "the big cry" yet. For instance, as I'm writing this, my face is starting to burn hot, my nose is beginning to water and my eyes are starting to hurt. Do I need to plunge in and just get it over with? And when you do that, does it help?

God, I just remembered, as a child, picking up our dog, Tippy. (TIPPY??). Hit by a car. Dead in the street. My brother Dave was there. He has a better memory for these sorts of things. He always accuses me of dramatizing everything out of proportion, which I probably do.

I have some stories from the cruise that I didn't tell you about, and can't pull myself to do it. One is with the Night Crew. Remember them? They were all there and events regarding the Night Crew videos mushroomed until we were all the TVs in the staterooms with a brand new video.

I also met a military man who is directly involved in the anti-insurgent strategy in Iraq. We had a long, fascinating discussion.

So, I will get to those. I promise.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Kitten Godzilla

When I found Thurber yesterday morning, it was about 6am. I went into the bedroom and whispered, "Jim."

"Jim."

He awoke with a start and sat up.

"Thurber's gone."

I was saying it as gently as I could. I had tears in my eyes, but because I knew he wasn't well, because I knew he was dying, I also felt very peaceful. Even grateful that he had such a lovely, gentle passing in his sleep. He was even doing his Godzilla mouth.

When he was a kitten, just getting strong enough to respond, he'd rear up on his back legs when we'd tease him and he'd open his mouth, baring his teeth so that he looked like a Kitten Godzilla. We'd put our fingers just within his personal space, say "Do Godzilla mouth!" And his mouth would slowly, slowly start to open and stay that way.

He eventually outgrew his Godzilla stage. And I always missed it.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

R.I.P. Thurber the Cat

This morning I got up and found Thurber the cat lying at the bottom of the stairs not breathing. He had passed quietly in the night. He was 18 years old, which is pretty extraordinary for a cat.

He was in the late stages of renal failure and had been sick for quite some time. This past week we knew it was getting bad because he was peeing all over everything and hiding from us beneath the bed. In fact, we had already decided to call the Humane Society and have him put to sleep, something I was NOT looking forward to.

Last night, he poked his head out and ate just a little bit. Then, as Jim was going to bed last night about 3am Jim laid down right next to him on the floor and said goodbye. I found him this morning in the exact same spot. So, it almost felt like he knew and decided to pass here at home.

So, we're sitting here wailing and crying. He was a great cat. He really was. He had his little routines and patterns.

For instance, every night he would crawl up on the bed and lie with Jim, purring loudly enough to rattle the walls. Then he'd crawl over to me and do the same. He'd lie there about 5 minutes, which seemed to be enough, and he'd go trotting off to do what cats do in the night.

He was the kind of cat who never struck at anyone. He could play well with babies as well as adults and loved attention.

To us, he was a little person. One that we loved dearly.


He loved taking chips out of my mouth.

Jim's favorite routine was his morning. Jim loves to lie on the bed in the morning doing his Internet. Thurber would jump up and lie on Jim's arm, watching the screen. The two of them were morning pals and I loved taking in the coffee and seeing them together writing emails.

I'm gonna miss seeing that scene most of all, I think.

Monday, January 07, 2008

My Peace Cantata To Be Performed by SF Gay Mens Chorus



I'm pleased, excited, elated and thrilled to announce that on Dec. 19, 2008, the great San Francisco Gay Mens Chorus, under the direction of Dr. Kathleen McGuire, will be performing my new "cantata for peace" called "Pantheon Bar & Grill" with full orchestra at Davies Hall in San Francisco as half of their annual Christmas concert.

I began writing this piece four years ago, beginning with a core of four lyrics written by my friend, Rev. Peter Carman, who you might remember is the pastor of Lake Ave. Baptist Church in Rochester, New York.

Beginning with those songs, I began adding numbers one at a time as I pondered the philosophies of relentless non-violence and watched the conflicts in the Middle East. If you're been reading this blog and following the videos, you've seen some of the songs: My Thanksgiving Prayer and Holy Dirt are but two.

One new song, which you might enjoy listening to, examines the deadening result of violence on the soul. It's called "Dead Inside" (title inspired by my friend and blogger, Joe.My.God.) and the demo recording is sung by Alexandra Billings.

What makes this even more thrilling is the fact that this next year will be the 30th anniversary of the San Francisco Gay Mens Chorus, the FIRST gay mens chorus ever assembled. Few organizations have represented the gay community as well as gay choruses, which has sprung up in cities all over the country.

It's also the 30th anniversary of the death of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man elected to public office. He was assassinated by a crazed homophobe who blamed it all on having eaten too many Twinkies, an absurd defense accepted by the jury which gave him a light sentence, infuriating our community and leading to a renewed vigor to fight against the prejudice, hatred and discrimination leveled against us.

And as exciting as it has been for me to have written the scores for two off-Broadway shows, the idea of sitting in a huge concert hall and having my songs sung by a 250-voice choir accompanied by an orchestra on a major anniversary of the community I love so very much is about as thrilling a notion as I can possibly imagine.

And best of all, it's real and it's going to happen.

How Boris Escaped A Concentration Camp



[Watch the video above of Boris and then read this story below, which describes what's in the video. I met him onboard the ship on this cruise.]


Boris sat back away, silhouetted by the slatted windows behind him. I could kind of half see him and half not, because the dim lights of this shipboard piano bar could not compete with the Mexican sun’s klieg-light intensity coming from the rippling water outside.

I could see that he was little and he was a senior. But his eyes flashed with this brilliant intelligence, and he had a little half smile permanently etched into the folds of his skin.

I had seen him the day before and had been introduced to him by Collin Salter, the amazing Australian pianist singer songwriter. And I remembered that Collin had said that he had played the piano the other night during one of his sets.

(I hadn't hung out yet in the piano bar. I’d been protecting everyone from my cold, which had turned my head into a overstuffed, dripping center of pain).

Boris asked me if I was planning to play right now. I told him I was but I didn’t want to disturb the room if he was enjoying the quiet. He asked me to play him a song. So, I played him “Nobody Leaves New York,” the title song from the new show we're working on. He seemed to really like it.

We then got into a discussion about musicals and he complained about rock music, asking me what I thought.

“Ah,” he sighed, in his German accent. “You probably come from that generation.”

“Actually,” I said. “Yes, I do love rock music, but rock music doesn’t work easily in a musical because it’s very difficult to get any dynamics in the course of the single song. But I think it’s been done successfully.” I told him how much I liked the orchestrations of “Spring Awakening” because they used a simple rock band set-up with a cello.

Suddenly, he sprang to life because he remembered a generational parallel to this argument. “I was a child prodigy in Germany on the piano. They would only teach us classical music.”

One day, a friend of mine said, “You should learn ‘Rhapsody in Blue.’ So I went back to my teachers and told them I wanted to learn ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ and they looked at me and said, ‘We will NEVER allow this in our school!’ and they gave more Bach.”

{Rhapsody in Blue, of course is the great Gershwin piece that first incorporated blues and jazz music into a classical setting. You might know it better as the Theme from United Airlines.)

His family was swept up during Kristallnacht and he was put into Buchenwald concentration camp.

And this is where the story gets amazing. His father was released because he employed a lot of people, but Boris remained in the concentration camp. So, at the last minute, they ran to the family doctor to see if he could help. The doctor was angry with them because they hadn’t come to him before.

Soon afterwards, Boris was called into the commandant’s office. There was a pile of fresh, new clothing for him. “You have friends in very high places,” the commandant said.

The next thing you know, he was released and told to go to America, for which he had already applied.

Years later, as his family read the stories about the war, they discovered that their family doctor was Adolf Hitler's personal physician, drafted into role of taking care of the Fuehrer.

After telling me this story, he sat down at the piano and played a Viennese Waltz.

“In America, I learned the popular songs of the day. I found them quite easy to play even though I’m from a Classical background." He still laughs over the Gershwin moment at school. But then he leaned over to me confidentially and said, “People today. They hear Rhapsody in Blue and they think they’re listening to classical music. What can you do?”

Saturday, January 05, 2008

LIBRARY ROULETTE

From the cruise:

I was in a total state of panic until I realized that I was in the hands of the gods or God or goddesses or fate, and that I should simply center myself and accept what is.

I was on board without a book.

If I don't have a book while I'm on board, I go crazy. I am never without my book. I go to lunch with my book. I am in my tux and I have my book. I attend lectures with my book.


[Think Gene Wilder in "The Producers" without his blue blanket.]
In our rush to get to the ship, after packing at the very last minute, I realized I didn't have a book. I always have a book.
I remember now that I brought Jerry Robbins biography with me, but I just didn’t have the patience for a non-narrative “His father was born in Russia in 18-bla bla” stuff. I'm sure I'll read it, but it'll feel like a task.

I needed escape. I felt like I needed to enter into someone else’s world and headspace and culture and just live there. Novels so do it for me.
[Songs do it for me, too. And when I write a song, I realize that that’s what I’m asking of people, to allow themselves to live in the world of this song.

It’s an intrusion and it’s one I have learned to respect because even though I will always jump at the chance to sing for people, I don’t want to obligate someone to sit there and endure it if they don’t like it.]
But, yes. Fate. Gods. Goddesses.

Library Roulette.

I go to the ship's passenger library and scan all the latest titles.

Nothing. All checked out or gone or boring or by Shawn Hannity or Ann Coulter.

So, I go to my favorite place: The “bring a book / leave a book” table.

Nothing. Nothing. Something in Spanish. Something in Japanese. Pink cover. Pink cover. Romance novel. Spy.

Ahhhh.

A very tattered and discolored copy of “Memoirs of a Geisha" with 50 cents marked on it in Magic Marker. A garage sale edition?

What I like about Library Roulette is that I probably might never have picked it up otherwise. I had a curiosity about it, but not enough to actually buy it.

Also, I heard the movie wasn’t that good. Whenever that’s the case, I’d rather read the book first and then see the movie so the story isn’t spoiled.

I immersed myself into the world of the geisha... couldn't put it down. Ate it up in, like, two days.

[My review: The story wasn’t that compelling, but the immersion into that world of the geisha and the culture of Japan was great. It was a good read.]

[An unbelievably adorable Eastern European wait person -- olive colored eyes set off by jet black hair -- just asked if there was something he could do for me. I asked for hot water for my green tea.

His said his name is Marco that and he’s from Bosnia.

This is his first time working on this side of the American continent. He previously worked for Carnival in the Caribbean and we shared a laugh over the image of tourist season there where “the ships crowd the tiny islands like ants around a piece of meat.”]
Ah, yes. Library Roulette.

My second book was "Devil in the White City" which is a historical book structured like a novel, but all completely factual. It's about the great and forgotten Chicago World's Fair of 1892, and the fact that a serial killer had built a "Sweeney Todd"-like hotel next to it and killed multitudes of young women.

This is one of those books so packed with great historical information, you run around telling everyone every last detail. At the time, this Fair, which was a small city built in the marshes of Chicago, was considered to be on the same level of importance as the Civil War.

A GREAT read.

Next was a cop pulp novel. I forgot the name of it. There are so many of them out there. They all blend into the same. He was an old cop who breaks the rules and lives in Los Angeles. Echo Park. That's it. I swallowed that one whole in a day and a half.

The last book, which I will exit the ship with, is a murder thriller that takes place during the English Reformation. Not unlike "Name of the Rose" in its set-up, it's a much lighter fare, but it's only available in England. So, I like having contraband to read. It's called "Dissolution."

So, geishas, the Chicago world's fair, serial killers, cops in L.A. and monks in the 1500s. The real vacation I took over the holidays was in my head.

Unplugged.

Does this sport look painful to you?

From my cruise diary.

DECEMBER 25, 2007

Sometimes I have to unplug.

In an earlier time, that expression would have been utterly meaningless, but I have no doubt that sometimes even cave people felt overwhelmed with stress from their daily exertions and needed to clear their heads. But in this modern era where the little 11 year old girl at the Santa Claus arrival yesterday asked Santa for a cell phone--
[The ship’s rabbi just stopped by as I was writing that sentence sitting here in my breakfast nook I have dubbed The Office and asked me what I was doing. I told him I was having heavy thoughts. He asked me if they weighed at least 200 pounds.
He said it was too early to deal with heavy thoughts right now, too much of a time sink and I smiled at him and said that, to me, heavy thoughts are to be played with like a toy. Just for fun. His face brightened into a smile and he said, “Ah, now that’s a wise thought!”]
I am on a ship and have elected not to use their Internet connection. And it’s Christmas. And the 11 year old girl wanted a cell phone.
[Incidentally, two nights ago in the Christmas show (where Jim and I sang “Christmastime” from The Big Voice: God or Merman?), the rabbi did a comical routine featuring a Clement Moore-type poem, “The Night Before Hanukkah” featuring Sammy Claus. Okay, now back to the intended thread topic…]
[Did I just say thread topic? I’m starting to sound like Discussion Board. No. I'm not missing being Online. But I do love to get into flame wars. I don’t do it on purpose, but somehow I can’t resist putting my finger into the light socket. And I’m rambling because I could go down there to the dock and log in if I wanted to. Am I rambling again?]
Random: If you’re on a discussion board which consists mostly of one flame war after another and you’re tired of it, the solution is to implement the Bonus Round Flame War Tip: Never begin a sentence with the word “You,” The Corollary Rule is that it’s can’t be a rule. It has to be an agreement.

(Rules are greedy. They turn every discussion into a discussion about the rules.)

Steve at the Santa Claus Arrival.

It has now been four days.

I already know my inbox is overflowing, because all the email from my lists get piled in there every day, unfiltered. I don’t filter them because then I’d never open that folder. Better to let everything just pass through. But I’m testing myself to see how long I can stay completely offline.

“CODE ALPHA. PASSENGER 1905. CODE ALPHA. PASSENGER 1905.”

(That’s what just blasted over the sound system. We’re in Acapulco, by the way.

Docked.

Inches away from a cheap internet connection which I am not going to use.)

If I was going to go online, which I’m not, I would do it in a place like this because it’s too expensive to do it via the ship’s system.

It’s also good for me, creatively, to unplug. I have often wondered if I could get the same effect at home – like disconnecting completely for a week and living like a ghost, where nothing exists except Jim, food, the cats and the music.

The thought terrifies me.

No. This is fine. It’s Christmas.

And I have a book.

San Francisco's Top 10: Bay Area Reporter

We came home to a very nice surprise. Richard Dodds, in the Bay Area Reporter, lists us as one of the top ten theatrical events of the last year in San Francisco. Here's the blurb:
In the hard-to-describe category, we have The Big Voice: God or Merman, but it's not hard to find appropriate adjectives: funny, touching, showbiz savvy, and life-affirming. In the show imported by New Conservatory Theatre Center from New York, writer-performers Jim Brochu and Steve Schalchlin describe their highly contrasting adolescent paths to sexual self-discovery, their hilariously described meeting aboard a cruise ship, and the rocky road to a lasting relationship fueled by the theater.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Home And Dry.


We are back from our Christmas vacation. I met some extraordinary people on this cruise and also had some amazing things happen. I will be updating you soon.

Also, remember I told you I had a big announcement?

All will be soon revealed...