BRIEF BLOG INTRO:
I'm a man on a mission. A mission to convince you that life is worth living, no matter how many obstacles are placed in your way. And that you can accomplish great things if you just push ahead and don't let anyone tell you no.

I'm a singer/songwriter and actor from Texas "Living in the Bonus Round" in New York City-- which 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 playing 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] and we're just getting started.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Do You Hate Needles?

Funny the things that find their way to your inbox when you post to a blog. Years ago, when the neuropathy in my feet was rather intense (before we changed medications and I got a little better), I wrote in my blog that I like Gold-Toe socks because they seemed to be much softer than the average sock one buys in the department store.

Well, lo and behold, someone in the marketing department of Gold-Toe read my blog and sent me a handful of socks. I guess they liked the plug! (And I still get Gold Toe socks for birthdays and holiday gifts. Keep 'em comin'!).

This week, after writing about my visit to the infusion center, I received an email from a person a person named Tara Hart representing something called "emla," with the fabulous web address of http://www.ihateneedles.co.uk/.

Who doesn't hate needles?

"emla" (spelled without a capital "e" for some unknown reason) is an ointment that's packaged in a "pre-injection numbing kit." You put the ointment on at least an hour before injection and let it sit there, and it numbs your skin so that you don't have to feel a lot of pain if you're going to be needle-stabbed.

They're especially recommending it for people who want to donate blood but are afraid of needles, or for children who we know REALLY hate needles. Me, I've been poked so many times, I don't really care anymore. I just take a deep breath and let it happen.

But, on the site, you can upload your sob story about how much you hate needles, and you'll be entered in a contest for free plane flights. So, what could be bad?

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sun-Sentinel Reviews "Zero Hour."

Even though I know I needed this time here to finish writing out the score of the cantata, and a few other musical things I haven't talked about yet, it's been driving me out of my mind to not be with Jim, watching what's going on with the play.

He says the houses have been full to overflowing and very enthusiastic. There was a talkback for a group from a synagogue this past weekend. Jim went back to change, and the rest of the audience was told they didn't have to stay. When Jim came back on stage, he was stunned to find that almost every person in the packed theatre stayed, riveted to their seats.

What most people don't realize, going into the play, is that it's a serious character study about a real man who was mostly known as a comedian. But that doesn't mean it's not funny. Jim is the master of the unexpected punchline, but Zero wasn't a panderer. He was a tough cookie who had his own loud and aggressive sense of humor, and he didn't slow down for people who didn't get it.

It's fun reading this new review because it was the great actor and friend of Zero Mostel, Theodore Bikel, who described Jim's performance by thanking Jim for "bringing back a volcano we thought had long gone extinct." This critic, Bill Herschman, begins his review in the Sun-Sentinel by going right there.

Career of Zero Mostel recreated in one-man show

By Bill Hirschman

10:17 PM EDT, June 29, 2008

A volcano explodes nightly in the Broward Stage Door theater, spewing flame and lava over the audience without benefit of special effects.

Early on, Jim Brochu incarnates the wit, volatility and sensitivity of Zero Mostel in the biographicalZero Hour. But Brochu becomes a force of nature at the end of the first act as Mostel rages at the obscene damage inflicted by the 1950s blacklist...

As both playwright and actor, Brochu has nailed the essence of this difficult but brilliant chameleon who could be tender and terrifying, playful and combative, all in the space a few seconds. He captures --- if not photographically reproduces -- the righteously angry Mostel who rants and rails with razor-barbed wit, a profligately improvisational mind, an endlessly malleable face and a dancer's grace in an elephant's body.

Yet in the second act, he rivets the audience with quietly intense stories about how his career almost ended with a crippling bus accident or how he had difficulty opening in Fiddler because its plotline echoed his own parents disowning him for marrying outside the faith.

Unlike Gabe Kaplan's lackluster Groucho on the same stage, Brochu not only has Mostel's mountainous frame, his beady eyes, puffy beard and slicked back hair, but he has mastered Mostel's cadences and intonations.

With an eye on Broadway next season (don't they always), Brochu has been working on this show since 2006 with director Piper Laurie (yes, that Piper Laurie).

... Brochu and Mostel are terrific company.

Bill Hirschman can be reached at muckrayk@aol.com.

Paul and Kevin's Story in the LA Times.

Paul Waters, right, is served cake by Kevin Voecks in one of two cake cuttings after their wedding.
Photo by Gary Friedman/LA Times

Last night, I attended a special fundraising event for the MCC in the Valley. I'll post a video and pictures later, but I met a man there named Paul Waters. He and his partner of 15 years were among the first to be married when it became legal here in California. The LA Times wrote a beautiful article. Go read it.

And, especially, watch the charming and heartwarming video slide show posted narrated by Paul.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Wall-E, the most romantic movie of the year.


I made a mistake of going to see the movie Wall-E all by myself and it made me miss Jim so much, I was absolutely in a puddle of tears. Already, the reviews for this movie are pronouncing it to be the best movie of the year, and possibly the best Pixar movie ever.

The problem with those pronouncements is that they are both correct.

Why is that a problem? Because you're going to go with really high expectations and that's always a let-down. So, pull your expectation in and enjoy this small movie filled with tiny, little moments that had me laughing and crying all at the same time. To call a $180 million dollar movie "intimate" might seem absurd, but in this world filled with CGI movies and CGI cartoons, where everything is possible on the screen, the only real thing that will separate a good movie from a mediocre one is the script.

The central character of Wall-E is so adorable and so sweet, it makes you realize that the tin man really does have a heart.

It's also one of the most perfectly realized silent movie characters ever put on the screen. The first 30 minutes of this film has no dialogue, which made all the early reviewers wonder if kids would sit patiently through it. At the matinee I went to, you could hear a pin drop. The kids were enchanted and mesmerized. And so was I.

This is the kind of movie magic that few filmmakers even aspire to, much less achieve. It's a love story that grabs you and holds on, and leaves you wanting more. A love story between robots? Yeah.

The background plot of the movie itself reminded me of one of those old pulp Sci Fi novels from the 50s. Wall-E is this little robot whose job it is to gather all the trash on earth, compact it into squares and stack it. All the humans have long since left. We learn all this as Wall-E makes his rounds and inadvertently triggers advertising which tells us the backstory in little doses.

Though this is an animated feature, it's a decidedly adult (as in maturely written and executed, not as in racy) film that kids are going to also love as the childlike Wall-E (who looks like a mechanical ET) races around with his pet cockroach doing his job of cleaning things up. He's the last of his kind.

He also starts picking up little objects the humans left behind, including a video tape which I will not describe here because it's central to everything -- and to tell you what it is won't help you understand how effectively it's used.

So, we follow Wall-E as he beeps and burps and plays with toys, bringing them back to his little home he's created. The sight gags are more than sight gags. They reveal character, and they're funny. By the time a new creature comes upon the scene, the Chaplin-esque Wall-E has his little metal hands wrapped firmly around your heart. And from that point on, you're hooked.

The inside jokes for film lovers are all here. There are also comments on society and ecology and consumerism and corporatism, but they only serve as background. This is a beautiful movie, and I am so happy, with all the absolutely idiotic crap that has been served up to us this year, someone decided to make a real movie.

Take a lover. Take boyfriend. Take your husband or your wife. Take the kids.

And thank the Pixar gods for this tiny, sweet, charming Best Film-worthy work of animated art.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Infusion Center.

Last night at 8pm, I got to the infusion room at the Cancer Center. It's really very beautiful, considering what happens there. It's a large room with an arching smoked glass atrium. In the center is a fish tank and lots of plants.

Also, in the center is a row of comfy chairs, each one with a pillow. As nice as they try to make it look, you know what it's there for. Chemo. I suppose if I do end up with a cancer diagnosis, this is going to be a familiar setting. But, I wasn't really thinking that way. I'm still convinced this is just the usual routine gland swelling that accompanies AIDS.

I was the only patient there at first since it was after hours. I checked in with the attendants and got an wristband so they'd know who I was. And another one with my medication allergies (sulfa drugs).

Then this adorable Asian nurse named Josh came over and said to just sit anywhere I liked. I found a nice chair and had my book with me. Figured this couldn't be half as bad as back 11 years ago when I had the catheter up inside my vein and we were doing TPN infusions. Still, I wasn't look forward to the poke. I still hate needles after all these years.

He said, "The needle is a bit long so it can sit in your vein, but it shouldn't be too bad. It has a plastic tip."

Now, why a plastic tip would make a difference I have no idea, but okey doke.

It hurt like hell for a few seconds, but then I got used to it and pretty soon, I didn't feel anything at all.

"It'll only take a few minutes to drain out blood to fill this bag, and then a couple of hours to replace it with the saline solution."

In case you haven't been keeping up, my blood is too thick, so we're watering it down just a bit.

After I got set, another guy came in and sat. He looked really healthy, but obviously had been there before because he had a port in his arm and they all knew his name. I wondered what he was there for.

I started reading my book, got about three pages into the new chapter and fell dead asleep. Slept through the whole procedure. (I love sleeping through procedures. I do it often.)

I was awakened by this very loud beeping noise. Josh came over, disengaged the pumping meter, unhooked me from all the tubes, gently pulled out the needle and that was it.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

They're gonna bleed me!

Just got a call from Dr. Handsome who said my preliminary blood tests are showing my blood is still too thick. (Hey, Positoid! You were right to be calling me thickblood all this time after all!).

So they're going to bleed me and then replace what they take out with saline.

How medieval is that! Going in tonight and will be there for three hours. Really? It takes three hours to bleed someone and... oh, never mind. I'll bring a book. I got an old Michael Connelly book on my last trip and never finished it.

Visiting the Oncologist.

I'm not really scared about this lymph gland thing, but it's very unsettling, still, to walk into a building with a big sign on it that says CANCER CENTER.

Then comes the routine of filling out the forms for yet another new doctor. I meant to bring all my meds with me, but in my haste to get out of the apartment, I forgot. So, there I am trying to list everything I take. Let's see: Atripla, Glucophage, Actos, the little blue pill I have to take before meals... what's it called, and the blood pressure med that sounds like a Marvel superhero... Cozaar, Lipitor, Tricor, Synthroid... what else.

I'm scanning my med tray, mentally peering into each slot trying to remember what goes where. This one with the last meal, this one at night, this one before I eat in the morning. And it's not like I have the best memory to begin with. And then they want to know the dosage. Dosage?? And there are never enough slots for me. My list of meds is so long, I start squeezing them two to a slot.

By the time they came to get me, I was ready for nap.

They weigh me, check my vital signs (I have any left?) and the doctor comes in. This new doctor was young and absolutely gorgeous. (Check my vital signs now.) I thought people who looked like this were only on TV doctor shows.

You know what's really great about having a beautiful doctor? As they're talking to you, you can stare into their eyes all you want. Usually when you meet someone that cute, you're trying to keep from embarrassing yourself by staring too much. But in the doctor's office, you get to stare all you want!

Then he began the long list of possibilities. "People with HIV get swollen glands all the time. Chances are it's nothing."

Looking at my last tests, he noticed I had an elevated red blood count. Looking at my list of meds, the says, "This is definitely a side effect of one of your meds, but I don't like to see it that high. So, first we'll take a new round of blood tests and check to see if that's the cause. If it is, we'll do a transfusion procedure and replace some of your blood with a solution to thin it out a bit. It's just too thick to get to some of your smaller capillaries."

He continued, "Next week, we'll do a chest x-ray to make sure you lungs look okay. Then we'll follow that up with a CAT scan" -- I think he said CAT scan, although it sounded CET scan, which I googled and found was some kind of NASA thing -- "which will let us look internally at your glands. And if we can't eliminate infection or other causes, the last thing we'll try is a biopsy. So, that's our plan. How does that sound to you?"

I smiled into his eyes and said something completely unintelligible.

Then he felt my glands under my arms. "Yes, this one is a swollen. Does it hurt?"

"No."

"How long has it been swollen?"

"I didn't know it was swollen until Dr. Tony noticed it a month ago, and then called me in for a follow-up."

He then checked my other arm.

"This one is a little swollen, too. Not as bad, and it's soft. That's a good sign."

Yay, I thought. A good sign!

"Okay," he said, "Loosen your pants and let me check the glands in your groin."

Oh dear. Like I need Blue Eyes poking around down there.

"This all feels okay."

I agreed that it did.

He smiled at me and said they'd take blood and then schedule me for a return next week. And boy, did they take blood. 12 vials worth. And a urine sample.

After it was all over, I called Jim who was feeling helpless, wishing he could be here to hold my hand. But Florida is way far away. I assured him I was feeling fine. We talked at length and joked around a little. I told him to not worry, that I was doing okay.

Then I called Ernie and told him I supposed it was about time for me to have a new disease for the blog since I've about used up all the diseases I've had so far.

He joked, "Yeah. Diabetes just doesn't cut it anymore. Everyone has that."

Then I spoke with Michael who joked with me some more.

It's always good to have friends who can engage you in some good black humor. It's the only way to survive the tedium of tests and forms and the great unknown.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Glands and Openings.

It has been so very hot here, ever since Jim left for Florida to do "Zero," I've hardly been out of the house except to get food (both human and cat).

My attentions have been focused on music, mostly. Getting my "Pantheon" score all finalized for delivery to Kathleen, since she's going to be doing the final arrangements around the end of July. I also have been working on some other random songs as well as writing a kind of memoir, which is coming out in short chapters which I should just post here but I haven't yet.

Also, I got a call from my doctor last week, "Dr. Tony wants to know if you can come in today. He wants to look at that swollen lymph gland under your arm."

Geez, I barely recall a swollen lymph gland. Oh, yeah, I remember now. He asked me if it had been hurting me or giving me any other kind of discomfort. "No." "That's good."

So I made my way over the hill last week in the boiling heat and had an extra exam.

"Hmm," he said in that way doctors have which sound vaguely ominous. "I think you should go see this hematologist. It doesn't seem to be going away."

Now, people with HIV tend to get things like swollen glands, so I wasn't remotely worried about this. In fact, I have two swollen lymph nodes just behind my jawline that I've had since I first got diagnosed.

So, I went home and called this doctor and found out I was calling the hematology/oncology department.

Ahhhhh. Now I get it. We have to see if this is cancer. Now I see why he was being so on guard. And that's why I love my doctor. I barely even remembered that he had found a swollen gland, but he had obviously flagged it and didn't want to just wait until my next appt. at the end of July.

Frankly, I can barely feel the damned thing. However, appointments being difficult to come by, they couldn't fit me in until the end of July at this new doc. But then yesterday they called and had an opening. So, I'll be doing today. Just letting you know. I don't want anyone freaking out. I'm not going to freak out.

My friend Michael asked me if I was nervous, and other friend, Ernie, asked if I needed him to go with me. I told them both I wasn't nervous and I didn't need a babysitter, but I appreciated their concern. And Jim is in Florida. He's the one who's nervous.

By the way, he's doing really well. He opened this past weekend to standing ovations and screams and audiences going crazy over him. As well they should.

Bottom line is that I'm sure it's nothing, but I'm glad we're checking it out.

Last night was the first cool night we've had in some time. So, I walked down to Kulak's Woodshed. This is a acoustic club here in the Valley where they broadcast live over the Internet every night despite the fact that some porn star who has his office near there is harassing them constantly for supposedly "illegally" running a club in a business district with no parking (on a street where everything is closed at night and parking is absolutely no problem).

I sang there a long time ago. It was fun to just drop in. I didn't know anyone, and I got there too late to sign up for the open mic, but I just might have to do that some night.

Also, for those of you who enjoy watching or following along with transgender persons, there is a new show called "Gender Blenders" being broadcast over the Net. The trailer is here.

Monday, June 23, 2008

George Carlin, 71.

The loss of George Carlin is incalculable. But also incalculable is the upward intelligent, upward aware effect he had on the culture. In front of George Carlin, the media could act and pretend and do its act, and he even played along with them, smiling all the way. But they knew how naked they were when they stood in his gaze.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Adventures in Philly.

Jim with Festival volunteers Will and Paul.

My favorite moment doing "The Big Voice" opening the Philadelphia Gay & Lesbian Theatre Festival happened on the second night. The old Plays and Players Theatre, a hundred or more years old, looked like a grand faded Broadway house. Rising on each side were murals, almost black with age. The stage was raised high. It was wide and roomy with fly space and wings. It was a hot, humid night, so the ancient air conditioning was straining to keep us at least comfortable.

If you know Big Voice, it begins with thunder and lighting and rain exploding out of the speakers in the dark. Then the Big Voice says, "In the beginning..." etc. As we start doing our lines and crossing over to sing "Why?" I hear what I think is a rumble, like someone is dragging something heavy just outside the doors and stomping their feet.

It kept going in and out as Jim stepped up to say, "I knew I was destined to be the first Brooklyn born Pope!"

Suddenly, a CRACK of thunder seemed to hit the building and rain began pounding on the roof.

Never one to pass up a chance to make a joke, he looked up to the sky and said something like, "Oh! I see you agree!"

It was a welcome relief to feel so comfortable in our roles because the first night was a total nightmare. I guess it had just been too long since we did Big Voice -- and it's totally embarrassing to admit to this, but I had the second most nerve-wracking experience of my life on Friday night.

Our stage manager Stefan.

I was singing "Where Is God" and when I got to the second verse, I totally lost it. I had no idea what those words were. I kept repeating the first phrase of the last verse, knowing I couldn't go there because it would ruin the whole song. Instead, I just kind of ducked my head and kept playing the piano until I fully grasped that the words were not going to come.

Accepting my fate, I looked over at Jim, smiled, and pointed to him.

Luckily, he was on top of it, smoothly going right into his monologue about Merman and the hospital visit ("The look on their faces when I walked in with a Candy Striper that looked like Ethel Merman!") which then leads to the song reprise.

I cannot tell you how hot your skin can get on stage, especially on an already warm night. I know I must have turned 10 shades of red.

We had a similar moment in act two, right at the end, when I forgot to say a line and then Jim just took it right into the end. Which was fine except I also forgot the words to the finale.

And here's the worst thing ever:

I'm sitting there vamping on the reprise of "Why?" when I see Jim, who's standing down stage of me, turn back to me mouthing some words.

I have no idea why he's mouthing words to me. I supposed, finally that it meant I was supposed to say something. Or maybe my fly was open.

I looked at him and said, "What?"

He said, "I mmm..mm ..thel Merman."

"What?"

He came closer and leaned over, "I MARRIED ETHEL MERMAN!!"

Oh! That's the first line of the song. I'm supposed to sing!! So I sang that line, Jim sang his but I think he stumbed on it, followed by me not having a clue what I was supposed to sing next.

Finally, in total triumph, I just started proudly singing, "Da da da da da..." Jim joined in and we sang through to the end, "So goodbye!"

The audience went crazy, nobody could tell a thing. It was great.

Founder/Directors Bill Esher and Matthew Cloran.

______________________________________________

DEAN AND JIM

For the last year or so, I've been corresponding with a very sweet guy named Dean is planning a local production of "The Big Voice" in Allentown, PA. It's in a theatre company they've created out of MCC of Lehigh Valley.

When Dean (who's playing Steve) saw we'd be in Philly, he wrote and said he'd love to bring his partner, Rob and his castmate, Jim (who's playing Jim) and his partner whose name I think is Steve. (But after seeing the show, Dean decided to play Jim and give Jim the role of Steve. Are you keeping up with this?)

They were so lovely. Dean, a singer/dancer, has had a long history of going through exgay programs, becoming a spokesperson, realizing he wasn't really changing (and neither was anyone else in the programs), so he came out. But then, like many who grow up hating themselves for being gay, he fell into total self-destruction until he found himself on his back in the hospital, the funeral home literally on the phone -- when he suddenly opened his eyes and realized that he had a life left to live.

(Sound familiar?)

He found a life partner, moved to Pennsylvania, created a nice home together, found a church and has now created a theatre company.

We all met and went out for Chinese. I totally fell in love with these guys. And it's cool that they'll be the first to independently cast and produce The Big Voice. I loved meeting them. Hopefully, I'll get to see them on stage! Their production is planned for November.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Review: Bash'd a gay rap opera.

photo by david morgan

As part of our weekend back east, we were invited to the first prevue of a show opening in New York soon. It's a gay-themed rap opera imported from Canada featuring the two guys who wrote it. I wondered if Jim and I were young, if this is what we'd be writing.

I posted this review to All That Chat.

First of all, I am too old to really "get" rap music. It's not from my generation being that I'm 54, so I went to the first prevue of "Bash'd" prepared to resist it with all my being, though it won the 2008 GLAAD Media Award.

My worst fears were realized during the first five minutes because they were trying to get the audience to join in on some hand gesture -- I hate audience participation theatre -- and the fact that I was catching only about every fourth word.

But then, once the two engaging performer/writers settled in, the little prologue, I began to realize, was their way of getting us used to the delivery. They even promised us they were going to speak and sing as clearly as possible -- and to just give it a chance.

And, magically, after a few minutes, the cobwebs lifted from my old ears as the story telling began and I began understanding it more and more.

The plot is something we've seen in many gay musicals. Boy realizes he's gay. Family hates it. Boy runs to big city, meets another boy, they fall in love, face a tragedy and then...

Well, it's a bit Shakespearean in its plotline. I won't give it away, but the website does give away the fact that a gay bashing occurs. As a bit of agitprop, the piece works really well for several reasons.

First of all, it's very clever. I found myself laughing frequently and, during the emotional moments, found myself drawn in and even moved as I fell in love with the lovers. When tragedy happens, I became enraged at the injustice and felt, deeply, the anger they expressed -- something this form of music does very well.

Secondly, the piece also does itself a favor by being a one act that's only a hour long. It arrives quickly, tells the story quickly and then finishes on a dramatic note that also warns of the danger of overreacting to homophobic violence.

Jimmy even said he enjoyed the piece, though, like me, he is resistant to hip hop. I don't think either of us would have enjoyed a second act. It was a smart choice to give us a taste, tell us a compelling story told by these two very talented Canadians, and then let us go home to think about what we saw.

I have a feeling that young people will really enjoy it even more. I was happily surprised to find myself entertained and engaged. So, even for those who really hate rap and hip hop, but who like good storytelling and well performed theatre, I can recommend this. Just give it five minutes.

The only negative note is that, like much hip hop, it tends to find one rhythm/tempo and stay there. But the words were clear, clever and bawdy. I followed the story easily.

And I can't say enough about how well performed it was.

Zipper Factory Theater
336 W. 37th Street
(between 8th & 9th Avenues)

Mon, Thurs & Sat at 8:00pm, Fri at
7:30pm & 10:00pm

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Review of Big Voice: Falstaff & Prince Hal

It's fun to see how different critics and observers view The Big Voice. In Dallas we were "Zero Mostel in love with Anthony Perkins." In Philadelphia, as the opening to the Philadelphia Gay & Lesbian Theatre Festival, a particularly literate reviewer, Henrik Eger, saw us in Shakespearean terms:
Serious, skinny Schalchlin looks like the unlikely Prince Hal to match big Brochu, who looks and acts like a campy Falstaff. Both bring out a humanity in most unexpected ways.

Just as the sixteen-year-old Hal was almost killed by an arrow which became lodged in his face, he survived through the benefit of the best possible care, though his face was permanently marked by deep scars, proof of his valor in battle, so Schalchlin was nurtured back to life from the devastating ravages of AIDS by his life-mate Brochu. Their life, dramatically different as they are—one a young, introverted Baptist from Arkansas versus the overweight, boisterous Brooklyn boy who idolizes Ethel Merman and nurtures a hidden desire to become a priest, if not the Pope—comes together in a production that entertains as the best of Broadway shows but also takes us to the abyss of a Shakespearean tragedy. The audience at the old Plays and Players Theatre both fought tears at times but, even more often, roared with laughter
Indeed, the house was ROCKING both nights in spite of the fact that, at the first performance, we were both spitting out wrong dialogue and forgetting lyrics here and there. Luckily, it didn't matter. We just plowed on through and kicked ass. I'll have some pictures later on. But what a weekend.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Hemo2Homo Connection Movie Review: Sex and The City

The Hemo2Homo Connection Movie Review
sex&cityposter.jpg
Homo: I'm a bad gay. A horrible homo. I don't like shoes or shopping. I don't like gossip and I don't like hearing people talk about their feelings. And now that I've suffered through 2 1/2 hours of it, where can I go to get my masculinity back?

Hemo: I'm a bad straight- I love to gossip, and watched most of this HBO series with Gwenn and two of our best (good gay) friends. So of course I was there for the movie, it was somewhat of an event in our household.

I know, I'm a bad straight.


Homo: I wouldn't have even gone to see this thing if not for you. And you said you liked it?


shoes.jpg

Hemo: Yes, there was humor, and remember, I'd just had the Spielberg/Lucas shitbomb of Indiana dropped on me. Maybe I just got Sex more, since I knew the characters from the TV show.

Homo: You don't understand. I watched the series. I'm not THAT bad of a homo.

Hemo: My bad, Homo.

Homo: No probleemo, Hemo. But a bad movie is a bad movie. Christ. Purses. Labels. Shoes. Shopping. More shopping. More labels. More shoes. What the hell is it with women and shoes? Those horrors cost $500?? And $500 for a damn purse??

Hemo: You have to remember: most people aren't dumping all of their money into expensive HIV medications like we are.


hivmeds.jpg


Homo: Right. Which is why I'm kicking myself for dumping money into Indiana and Sex...


Hemo: Wait, what about that next-door neighbor of Samantha's? They showed that dude's ass like 50 times!


Homo: Okay, you got me. Being an Internet Icon, I'd heard all about Mr. Next Door Neighbor before stepping foot into the theatre. He's the real reason I went to see it, not because you wanted me to.

sexcity4.jpgHemo: They showed that dude's ass like 50 times. And I got nothing! I was forced to go online and look for photos of Kristen Davis giving some guy a....


Homo: Hold your horses, Hemo!

Hemo: And I'm not even sure it was her.

Homo: The straight women and gay men this movie was made for don't care about you and your needs, thinblood. This is about us. But they did show Samantha in that sushi scene. That was kind, you know, um, fleshy?

Hemo: Kim Cattrall to the rescue again!

kim_cattrall.jpg
Kim Cattrall, modelling the latest in Gigantic Condom Headwear


That woman deserves to make five times what Sarah Jessica gets. She should have held out for more money.

Homo: There, you got Samantha. The next-door neighbor, as hot as he was, was still a straight dude. Except for the two hot guys who kissed in the first scene, what is up with the homofaguals in this series? Why is it that the only two gay men in the cast have the worst clothing and are the most repulsive looking characters on the screen?

stanford.jpg

Hemo: At least the movie had gay guys in it. Hemophiliacs have been on the cutting edge of fashion for years, and how are we rewarded? By not having one thinblood in the movie. C'mon!

The last time a hemo figured into a movie plot was the vampire film, The Thirst. The vampires fed on the thinblood, then some dude starting punching them and they all bled to death.


Homo: Wait. Is that a real movie? The vampires drank the blood of hemophiliacs and then bled to death from cuts? Genius.

Hemo: It was one thinblooded girl, but yes, it's real. Netflix it. (Careful, there are two vampire movies called "The Thirst", the one with the hemophiliac character in it also stars Jeremy Sisto.)

thethirst.jpgSo, let's cut to the chase: how do you rate Sex & The City?

Homo: Well, I'll tell you the truth. It wasn't entirely my cup of tea, and I thought the plot had holes big enough to hold Sarah Jessica Parker's wardrobe, but I have to admit it was fun seeing the four girls together again. They're like comic book heroes when they walk together. So, I'll give it a very mild One Vein Up But Only For People Who Like This Kind Of Movie.

Hemo: I'm with you- the characters are interesting enough, though someone with clotting deficiencies would have added a nice dynamic. Still, I give the movie One-and-a-Half Veins Up.


Homo: I do: I also give one Special Vein Up for the guy next door.

Hemo: Gee, let me guess where that vein is located.

hemo2homo.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 an HIV/AIDS educator and the author of My Pet Virus.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Last International Carnival of Pozitivities.

Sadly, the last International Circus of Pozitivities has been posted here. For two years, this floating "circus" of focused links to interesting blog entries and stories about HIV positive people around the world, has been a unique gift of connectedness. I've hosted the ICP on my site once, I believe.

Ron Hudson is the man who has been at the center of it all. He is facing some health and other personal issues that have taken his time. Hopefully, he'll come through strongly and come back to us.

Here is what he wrote on the ICP blog:

Dear Friends of the ICP,
It is with relief and sadness that I have decided to allow the International Carnival of Pozitivities to come to an end with our next and final edition in June of 2008. I have made many wonderful friends in the past two years and have been fortunate to learn the life-stories of some amazing people and their efforts to end the stigma of HIV/AIDS around the world. I am truly grateful to the contributors and hosts who have blessed my life with their kindness and encouragement. I hope that you will continue to blog about HIV/AIDS and keep alive the spirit of the ICP. I am very proud of our efforts and the outcome that you see on this site today. I will leave the ICP homepage available for people to access in the future, but there will be no further editions after June, 2008.

As always, I wish you the peace that I wish for myself.

Ron Hudson
Thank YOU, Ron. My readers and I also wish you peace and good health. Thank you for your work.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Same-Sex Couples Offer Insight Into Gender and Marriage - NYTimes.com

Article from the NY Times about how gay couples compare to straight couples in terms of their relationships.
June 10, 2008

Gay Unions Shed Light on Gender in Marriage

By TARA PARKER-POPE

For insights into healthy marriages, social scientists are looking in an unexpected place.

A growing body of evidence shows that same-sex couples have a great deal to teach everyone else about marriage and relationships. Most studies show surprisingly few differences between committed gay couples and committed straight couples, but the differences that do emerge have shed light on the kinds of conflicts that can endanger heterosexual relationships.

(snip)

In heterosexual couples, women did far more of the housework; men were more likely to have the financial responsibility; and men were more likely to initiate sex, while women were more likely to refuse it or to start a conversation about problems in the relationship. With same-sex couples, of course, none of these dichotomies were possible, and the partners tended to share the burdens far more equally.

Yes. Here's how we share the housework.

"We outta clean the bathroom."

"Yeah."

A week later:

"We outta clean the bathroom."

"Yeah."
...when same-sex couples argued, they tended to fight more fairly than heterosexual couples, making fewer verbal attacks and more of an effort to defuse the confrontation.

...

“When they got into these really negative interactions, gay and lesbian couples were able to do things like use humor and affection that enabled them to step back from the ledge and continue to talk about the problem instead of just exploding,” said Robert W. Levenson, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley.

Jim and I almost never fight. I fact, I can't remember the last time we even had a fight. But, one time, we were really going at it when he suddenly thought of a funny punchline. So, we paused for the punchline, had a great laugh and then returned to the fight. But by then, all the air had blown out of the confrontation and we settled it instantly.
One of the most common stereotypes in heterosexual marriages is the “demand-withdraw” interaction, in which the woman tends to be unhappy and to make demands for change, while the man reacts by withdrawing from the conflict. But some surprising new research shows that same-sex couples also exhibit the pattern, contradicting the notion that the behavior is rooted in gender...
When people ask us the secret to our long relationship, it's the fact that we just ignore each other. But we're happiest ignoring each other together.

Blogged with the Flock Browser

Monday, June 09, 2008

Who Still Dies Of AIDS?

An insightful article from New York Magazine. about the current condition of AIDS and the fact that people are still dying from it.

Hemo2Homo: Indiana Jones & The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

The Hemo2Homo Connection Movie Review
Poster_Indy_CrystalSkull.jpg<



Homo: This lame-ass movie was best summed up by my partner, Jim Brochu, who called it "Mr. Chips & The Temple of Doom."

Hemo: Spielberg scored Erik Estrada? I think I missed that scene.


erikestrada.jpg

Homo: If you're gonna be a movie reviewer, you should pay more attention to the film, and really should try to see a movie made before you were born.

One with, like, dialogue and stuff.

Hemo: After seeing this clunker, I may take your advice. And I'm still trying to figure out why Harrison Ford looked older to me ten years ago... does that mean I'm, getting old?


Homo: Yes, you're getting old. Uh oh. It sounds like we have a sad meeting of the minds. I wasn't surprised by anything is in this movie.


Hemo: Really? You are so jaded that you weren't shocked by the re-emergence of Marc Almond of Soft Cell, riding in as Indiana Jones's son?


shia.jpgHomo: That wasn't Marc Almond of Soft Cell, thinblood.


Hemo: Oh. No Erik Estrada, no Marc Almond. Well, at least I can hang my Indy hat on Helen Marnie of Ladytron's star turn as the Commie S&M chick.


Homo: Helen who of what? And no, that wasn't her, either. That was the Academy Award-winning actress, Cate Blanchett! And they are called credits, koolaid-blood.

Those letters that scroll upward at the end of the movie.

cateblanchett.jpg


Hemo: Those credit things are always my cue to start gathering up leftover candy in the aisles. I like action, but the lame-ass sword duel atop two jeeps riding through a jungle seem improbable at best.


Homo: Just one of many pointless action sequences. And CGI ants aren't scary anymore. Waiting for your viral load test results. Now that's scary!


Hemo: I hate CGI- it ruined I Am Legend. They should never do CGI monsters so long as Gary Busey is still breathing.


Homo: Agreed. In previous Indy movies, Spielberg would do something in the foreground to keep us from falling asleep during this crap, like the sequence around the dining table where they're eating giant bugs.


Hemo: Oh, yeah. That was such a cool scene. In this one, the bugs ate the people.


Homo: Actually, I think the script ate the people. And what was up with Blanchett's random Russian accent, which veered wildly across the continents and back again? And she wants a skull that will give her the ultimate powers of the universe?

Hemo: Remember, it's a skull made of crystals. And crystals are a girl's best friend.

diamonds.jpg

Homo: Those are diamonds, numbnuts. As for the whole premise of Indiana Jones, I think they ccould have saved a lot of money and just shot the whole thing in one place: a Pier 1 Imports store. That would have explained all of the old married couple banter between Indy and his once-girlfriend.

Hemo: Maybe Spielberg has long-since shot his money wads? Maybe he needs, for lack of a better metaphor, a Hollywood-esque sperm-washing procedure?

Homo: It's not a bad idea. Hemo, in all seriousness, answer me this: Was there ever a moment in that theatre when you didn't know what was going to happen next?

Hemo: Well, I arrived 10 minutes late. That's why I missed Erik Estrada's scene.

Homo: I give up.

darktheatre.jpg Hemo:...And at the Carmike there are two pathways, and one was so dark I couldn't even see what was blocking the path. I could hear the movie, but trying to figure out how to get the seats was pretty intriguing.

Homo: No! I meant a moment in the movie! But your story sounds more intriguing than the film itself... so, did you go to the other walkway? Or forge ahead into the darkness, where one wrong bump could send you to your untimely, bleeding doom?

Hemo: I went to the other one. Only to bump into a guy in a wheelchair who was blocking that path.

Homo: Ew, ew! Please tell me you tipped him! This is the best confrontation since Indy shot that dude with the sword in Raiders, or the Cripple Fight episode on South Park.

Hemo: No, I just apologized and stepped around him. Then took my seat. There was no one with a flashlight to help a thinblood out.


IndianaJonesflashlights.jpg


Homo: Your story had a lame ending, but was still better than the movie you so bravely pressed onward to see. Did you see National Treasure? Because there's a moment in Indy that I now call the "National Treasure Idiot Moment."

Our heroes go down into the treasure room. The girl sees a wooden rack filled with scrolls. She leans down and, without blinking, she announces, "Look! The lost scrolls from the Library of Alexandra!"

Hemo:That sounds awful.

Homo: "Crystal Skull" had one of those moments. I f you're going to steal from the movie that stole from you, at least steal the good parts.

Hemo: Yeah. It would be like two guys with AIDS stealing our movie-review bit, but only using your parts.

Homo: Hey, , watch it: I'm the smart one here, Mr. Quips. And don't forget who has the clotting factor, kid.

Hemo: You're starting to sound like Indiana Jones.

indianajoneslego.jpg

Homo: I'm not that old. I was really afraid you'd buy into the hype on this one. There may be hope for you yet, thinblood.

Hemo: Hey, thanks! So what's your final grade on Professor Jones?

Homo: I give Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull two bloodless veins down. You?


Hemo: Not enough "snapper" in Indiana's "whipper" this go around. I give it a Highly Detectable Viral Load of Crap rating.

Homo: Oh boy. See? This is why I can never die. You'd kill this review faster than this script killed off Indiana Jones.


hemo2homo.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 an HIV/AIDS educator and the author of My Pet Virus.


Sunday, June 08, 2008

Photos from AIDS LifeCycle Closing Ceremonies.

Yesterday afternoon, I went to the closing ceremonies of the AIDS LifeCycle. They raised, I think, 11.6 million dollars for AIDS healthcare by biking all the way from San Francisco to Los Angeles. The age range of the riders was 18-81. I took pictures!