BRIEF BLOG INTRO:
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. Seeing your death changes you. 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 with a few friends and self-released it (selling tens of copies), headlined at a major night club in New York City to two full houses and just played the lead role in the reading 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, The Songwriter.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Breakfast with Ernie 2

He's back! This time, Ernie and I discuss saints, Mexicans and my clueless whiteboy moment in a "Mexican" restaurant.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Scary Virus Video is A Miracle of Basic Science.

From Joe.My.God.'s blog:

An astonishing new video shows for the first time how HIV attacks and infects healthy immune cells. This glimpse has provided researchers with some new ideas.
Before you look at the video, I wanted to point to a comment someone made, that the reason this research was possible was because scientists somewhere decided they wanted to study genes to find out what made certain sea life glow. By finding this gene, they were able to insert it into a virus, which made it possible to take pictures of the AIDS virus actively infecting a cell.

Here's the comment, a reader named in60657:

You can probably thank Martin Chalfie, Osamu Shimoura, and Roger Tsien. They won the 2008 Nobel prize in Chemistry for the green flourescent protein discovered by Shimoura in 1960 in a jellyfish. Chalfie was able to insert the gene into another organism and Tsien expanded it to flouresce in different colors. This technique is also used in cancer research.

This also illustrates how something that seems silly on the surface (why does this jellyfish glow) and is used mainly by Republicans to attack science, can have far reaching and positive influences on the health of everyone.
From the article:
Researchers found that the virus is transferred from infected cells to healthy ones in a previously unknown way. It is hoped that the discovery will help researchers create a vaccine to combat the virus, which has led to the deaths of more than 25 million people.

The study was made possible after experts created a molecular clone of infectious HIV and inserted a protein into its genetic code which glows green when exposed to blue light. This allowed scientists to see the cells on digital video, and capture the way HIV-infected T-cells interact with uninfected ones.

They noted that when an infected cell came into contact with a healthy one, a bridge was created between them, called a virological synapse. Researchers were then able to observe the fluorescent green viral particles moving towards the synapse and into the healthy cell.

The US study has broken new ground by revealing that it is the synapse through which the viral proteins are gathered and moved into uninfected cells. The team, comprising scientists from UC Davis university in California, and Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, believe that this knowledge could help create new treatments for HIV and Aids.


The scariest of horror movies. (Add spooky music.)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Are You A Former Ex-Gay?

Are you currently seeking help from, or have you ever sought help from an ex-gay ministry in the United States? If so, please consider taking part in this very important research. My name is S.J. Creek and I am a doctoral student in the sociology department at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. I am currently undertaking a study that considers the lived experiences of people who have sought help from an ex-gay ministry. Subjects involved in the study will be asked a series of questions that will take one to two hours to answer. These confidential interviews will be audio-taped and I will take every reasonable step to protect your identity. Participation in this study is completely voluntary and you may stop participating at any point during the interview. I hope to publish research results in a dissertation and scholarly article.

Interested? Or have questions?
email: creek.s.j@gmail.com

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Creating a New Show.

So, now that I know I'm going to Olympia, it's time to create a new show. This time using songs from TLS, TBV and NWW. I also thought I'd throw in some random bits of songs not in those shows, such as a few of the cabaret type songs I wrote with Amy Shapiro (for our long-gestating New York show) and maybe a love song or two here and there.

I thought I'd use act one for TLS and TBV, framing the songs with the story of creating this blog back in 1996, meeting Gabi Clayton, and ending act one with how helping her put Bill's Story online led to playing John Lennon's piano.

Then, because NWW was created out of that event, I would use act two to sing some of those songs and then finish with, perhaps, some of the newer songs.

So, the question is, for those of you who know my material, what songs would you expect and want to hear if you came to a solo concert?

Newest Poster for Olympia.

This is the new poster for Olympia. I took all your suggestions and made a few adjustments and created this. The small words probably aren't good for a reduction, but for the poster, I thought a listing of credits was necessary. Click on the image for full size.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

In Florida with Jim.

Ugh. Red-eye flights.

Ugh. Trying to get to Ft. Lauderdale from L.A.

No direct flights. So, finding the cheapest flight possible, we booked Northwest Airlines leaving 10pm arriving in Detroit (DETROIT??) at 5am, leaving at 8am, arriving Ft. Lauderdale... whenever.

Both flights were packed to the gills and I think they've moved the rows closer together. Sitting next to, and around, me was a family from Mexico, complete with baby. But, happily, the kid was so cute and so happy, it made the flight much more endurable. (I love happy babies).

Still, it was very uncomfortable. I managed to doze off a couple of times, but I decided that by the time I got to Florida, I was never going to let Jim live this down.

In Detroit, though it was really early, there was a breakfast place open, so I got some food and then waited around for the next flight. Also packed. Also uncomfortable. But just seeing Jim was reward enough. All was forgiven. (He met me at the airport with a sign that read "Schalchlibromawitz."

The housing here at the theatre is comfortable. Next door is the cast to "Sugar," which is playing on the stage next to Jim's. I'm looking forward to meeting the kids in the show, most of whom are from New York.

So, all is well. I was exhausted, so I slept all day.

Next week, we'll do The Big Voice. Now, how do I reach all the gay folks here to get them to the show?

Reminds me of a Jim and Steve video!

A 17 Year Old Talks About Marriage.

Hemo2Homo review: KNOWING (with spoilers)

Homo: Hemo, I hear you’re home sick.

Hemo: Pesky little cold. Sorry I couldn’t make it to a movie this weekend. But I did make this killer movie poster…

knowing.jpg

Homo: Nice work!

And that’s OK- I’ll entertain you by telling you about what I saw. Nic Cage’s deliciously bad new movie might be as bad as the last M. Night movie. In fact, I’m going to tell you the entire movie so that I can save you those two and a half hours of your precious life.

Hemo: Please, I just have a cold. Enough friends already thinking I’m dying of AIDS here… It’s just a cold, dammit!

Homo: … or is it?

Hemo: Seriously, you were saying something about a movie? Nic Cage- let me guess, he has a peculiar expression on his face throughout most of the film?

Homo: Just like the audience who sat through this one. You couldn’t have a better weekend to catch that death plague of yours. I will say this: if you enjoy hearing a woman shriek, you’ll like this movie.

Hemo: … I just got a little bit hard.

Homo
: Not that kind of shrieking, thinblood. This shrieking isn’t for any good reason; it’s a generic “helpless
female” role designed to make Nic Cage look even more butch than he
already thinks he is — and boy does he get butch as an astrophysicist.

Hemo: Wasn’t he one of those in that last thing he did? International Treasurer? He hasn’t branched out since Valley Girl, my fave Cage flick of all time.

valleygirl.jpg

Homo: National Treasure, bleeder. But Nic’s really tough in this one. He hits a tree with a baseball bat to keep a roving pack of Gothic Sting lookalikes away from his kid.

Hemo: Makes sense- gothic kids hate baseball.

Homo
: As excruciating as it was, its basic concept and execution are so far off the edge of kookoo that I’m starting to like it in retrospect. Before I go any further…CAUTION TO READERS: I will reveal everything about this movie. Do not read this if you don’t want to know the plot and/or ending of this movie.

Hemo: They already stopped reading. So tell me more about the goth kids- you know I have a small goth following?

Homo: They’re just waiting for you to die. In this movie, these skinny, black-clad male models mysteriously hang out in the woods. They turn out to be aliens on a gay planet filled with Sting look-alikes. I think I rented that once already, only it was in one of those dark book stores your mama warns you about and it cost 25 cents per minute.

Hemo: The true sign of being old is having ever paid for porn.

Homo: Nic Cage is getting up there. But he retains his youth by jumping onto a speeding subway and protecting a woman from getting crushed in a big CGI crash sequence by just crouching over her. I guess this was to protest the fact that he didn’t get to play Superman?

Hemo: Why did you see this thing? I was unknowing of Knowing; never heard a thing about it.

Homo: I never miss a macho physicist movie. The plot, such as it is, is about the End of All There Is. There’s a page of numbers, which turn out to contain Big Spooky Movie Secrets that have Hidden Mysterious Meanings.

And, of course, there are two adorable children who talk to the Gay Goth Aliens, referring to them as “the whisper people.” Red herrings abound in act one along with A LOT OF BORING DIALOGUE, but there is a semi-cool plane crash (featured in the ads), complete with stunt guys running around on fire, the subway crash that’s very obviously CGI (also featured in the ads), and… Hemo?

Hemo: *sleeping*

Homo: Oh, dear. And I haven’t even gotten to the stupid parts. It has one of the most asinine out of left field endings ever, complete with little kids holding bunny rabbits for some inexplicable reason… Hemo? You know what? I’ll spare you all the ending. You might be up late some night and if nothing else is on…

Anyway, my score for this movie: Two weary red-eyes closed. I guessing Hemo here would second that if he were awake.

hemo2homo.jpg

The Hemo2Homo Connection are Shawn Decker and Steve Schalchlin.

The 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.

Monday, March 23, 2009

13th Blog-iversary. March 24.

Tuesday, March 24th is the 13th anniversary of this diary/blog.

I did not have any idea I would alive this long. I remember full well that, at the time, I was getting desperately ill -- and would continue downhill until the summer of '96 when Crixivan finally arrived by FedEx, probably at the very last moment that it had any chance of working.

Then, June of '96 saw us working on our very first workshop production of The Last Session with me playing Gideon (since, at the time, I didn't know how to write out music charts, nor did I know anything about arranging -- so we winged it and just threw it together the best we could). Adding to the complications was the fact that I was hooked up to an I.V. for 14 hours a day, infusing nutrition because my entire digestive system had failed.

Slowly, during that long month of July, I began to gain weight. The show got better and better, and by the end of our run, we had totally sold out the venue. And on the last night, at curtain, I "triumphantly" pulled the IV out of my arm and announced that I was going to cross my fingers and hope that my body would begin to sustain itself.

And it did.

And I'm still here.

Happy blog-iversary to me.

Health Update.

Dr. Ruchi, who is so beautiful, she makes me wish I were straight, looked at me and said, rather directly, "Your A1C is way higher than its ever been. 8.7. What happened?"

What could I say? "I've been totally lazy, totally eating lousy food, and completely frustrated."

"About what?"

"Well, my feet. I know I should be out running, but with this nerve damage, I can't just go buy athletic shoes. Everything hurts to the point that I'm crippled."

"Well, you could do bikes or weight lifting..."

"I know. I know. I'm just..."

"Okay. It's okay. I hear how frustrated you are."

"I'll figure it out. I'm just so unmotivated."

"Do you think it's because Jim is gone?"

I wanted to say yes, but that's not it. Or maybe it is. It just always feels like I'm climbing uphill. I get to a place where the sugars are good, kinda, and then it all falls apart unless I stay on it all the time. And so I lose a couple of days and then it gets worse and I can't motivate myself back up again.

Oh, well. Time to start over. Again.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Florida. April 1st. The Fools Go On Stage!

Jim has been doing "Zero" down in Florida at the Broward County Stage Door Theatre. I've been here, taking care of the cat and focusing on personal stuff. But the theatres down there are hurting. Theatres everywhere are hurting.

So, we offered to do a one night only performance of "The Big Voice" since I was planning on going down there anyway. Hopefully, someone in the Ft. Lauderdale area will have heard of us and it will sell a ticket or two. And it will be fun to be doing the show again.

With him focused on "Zero," it makes it increasingly hard for us to find these opportunities. Happily, "Big Voice" is "recession friendly." All we need are two chairs, a table, a keyboard and a mirror ball.

After doing the show again in Indio (for a healthy group of seniors, none of whom had heard of us but liked us anyway), I was reminded how healthy it is for me be performing. Last night, at the open mic, grabbed Lisa Turner (who has one of the most mesmerizing voices you'll ever hear in person) and had her harmonize with me on a new song, adding John Cartwright on bass.

I am stupid with this blog because I didn't advertise this in advance. The truth is that it all came together so quickly, I didn't even think of it.

But except for the next two weeks, where I'll be in Florida, you can almost always catch me at the open mic.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Workshop Leader

It's been fun getting to know all the people down at Kulak's. The truth is that it is exactly what the songwriters want it to be. When Marc Platt asked me to help facilitate the songwriting workshops on Wednesday nights, I was flattered to be asked. But I was also a bit nervous because I haven't developed a "program" for how to write a song.

Marc and I are volunteering our services, and donations are made to help pay the rent so that we can keep the place open. (And I say "we" because I am he as you are me and we are all together.) I just follow his lead and, thankfully, he knows what he's doing.

Now, I've been asked by my friend, JD Sebastian, to facilitate a songwriter workshop for a new group of songwriters and musicians concerned about the environment. They've formed a loose association called songs4earth.com and we're going to do the workshop on Saturday morning at MCC-LA.

Truthfully, I don't know if songwriting can be taught, but I have found that in our Kulak's workshop, the songwriters there are telling me that they learn from just experiencing the techniques I've introduced to them when we do a "group songwriting."

For me, it's a great way to sharpen my skills. In fact, Tuesday night, I was so inspired by all of this activity I sat down and wrote a song called "It Ain't Home." I just have a little tweaking to do before it's finished. So, when that's done, I'll record it, or do it down at the open mic and put up a video.

Meanwhile, I'm planning to visit Jim at the end of the month down in Florida and we've agree to do a one night performance of The Big Voice as a fundraiser for the theatre, which is really hurting in this economic meltdown. I'll have more information very soon. If you're around the Ft. Lauderdale area, please come and see us.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Antarctic Suite: Landscape

This is my latest opus. You can view it in high def if you go to this link and click on the HD button.



Comments?

Sunday, March 08, 2009

WATCHMEN: Reviewed by Hemo2Homo.

HEMO2HOMO REVIEWS WATCHMEN

h2hwatchmenposter.jpg


Hemo: You know, Homo, I was worried when you said you wanted to review a film called Watch Men... thought we were moving into the realm of gay porn.

Homo: You know what's funny, Hemo, is that all my straight friends made this same joke.

Hemo: What wasn't funny was the one thing that almost ruined this movie for me: straight dudes. Anytime a penis appeared onscreen, a few groups of twenty-something "straight guys" felt the need to audibly gasp or giggle.

Homo: I did think that for a CGI penis, Dr. Manhattan's naughty bit did seem to have a little life in it. Oddly, though, it also seemed perfectly natural -- like seeing a big blue Greek statue. This is a character who has more or less risen beyond his humanity, so little things like blue dangly bits don't really factor into his universe of awareness.

Hemo: If I had Dr. Manhattan's powers, my blue penis would have been the size of Manhattan. Hey, didn't you think he was the "positoid" of the movie? Society made him feel so bad about the risk of spreading his "cancer", that he isolates himself emotionally.

Homo: But can you be a positoid if you have no blood?

Hemo: You're tripping me out. Hey, did your partner in crime (crime being life), Jim, see this one with you?

Homo: No, Jim's in Florida doing his Zero Mostel show. Here's a photo.

zero_jim.jpg


Hemo: Badass!

Homo: Jim saw the movie and it passed his "butt test." And he HATES long ones...

Hemo: That's why he's with you.

Homo: Long movies, bleeder... anyway, Jim is not a geek like me, and he said this almost three-hour movie came and went before he realized it was over. So, he was completely engrossed. Did Gwenn see it with you?

Hemo: No, this trip to the movies was a sausage fest. And I'm with Jim- I get lost in long movies, too. People assume AIDS is the worst thing that ever happened to me, but that's not true... it was having to sit through a long movie.

Homo: Which one?

Hemo: Meet Joe Black- part of me never left that theater back in '98. I thought The Dark Knight was underserved by extending the movie by twenty minutes.

Homo: Totally agree. It didn't really give us all that much to think about. But it was fun.

Hemo: Unlike the Knight, Watchmen did not leave me looking at my watch.

Homo: That's called "pacing", young one. Every scene gave you a ton of information. And the characters were terrific! Jackie Earl Haley as Rorschach is The Anti-Joker...

Hemo: I thought his name was Horshack?

horshack.jpg
Homo: Honestly. Two lame jokes in one review? Rorschach is insane and enjoys inflicting pain, but unlike Horshack, who does it with his whiny voice, Rorschach has a raspy nihilistic tone. And unlike The Joker, he is a moralist. So, the torture only goes to those he believes deserves it.

Hemo: The blood in this film surprised me as a hemophiliac. Not since Sweeney Todd have I enjoyed such grand cinematic plasma fix!

Homo: It runs in the sewers! And Rorschach in prison is worth the price of admission. That sabersaw incident (which I won't describe) matches anything in "Saw." You definitely get your money's worth of grisly gore.

Hemo: (somberly) You know, I'd like to think that- if I had more clotting factor- I could put together a suit and go out and fight crime...

Homo: Please let me dwell for a moment on what your costume would look like. I know! Paint your pee pee red and go naked! (It's the homo in me. I had to go there.) But seriously, as fellow positoids, we are bound together by our blood and purpose so that others aren't afraid of our kind. I saw Watchmen as a symbol of our abiding friendship as competitive good guys making things right in the world.

Hemo: ... so, am I a super hero?

Homo: Yes, but the only thing you bomb people with is your jokes.

A warning to our readers: Watchmen is a violent, complex, adult drama. It is not a "Let's get together and fight the bad guy" kind of movie, though they describe, in the film, that that's how super heroes in costumes started -- cops dressing up in reaction to bad guys dressing up like gangs.

Hemo: I also enjoyed the dark tone of the movie, how the lines were constantly being blurred. It's like watching the Today show, you don't know who the bad guy is, or if there even is one.

Homo: It plays like a novel. Dense, intelligent and captivating. In fact I went to see it a second time and liked it even more. There's so much in this movie, you can't get it all the first time.

Hemo: Kind of like a Hemo2Homo Connection review, right?

Homo: Only if someone reads my parts.

Hemo: Yeah, yeah. Enjoy your insults while you can, thickblood. I'm off to go work on that red pee pee suit. There are bigger things out there in the world for me to do than review movies. You haven't seen the last of me, Rorschachlin! Ha ha ha ha ha ha!

Is this the end of the Hemo2Homo Connection? Will Shawn return as a masked avenger, and try to take over the Hemo2Homo Connection once and for all? Tune in next time to find out!



-------------------------------------
stevesuit.jpgSteve's addendum: Since I really liked this movie so much, I'd like to publish some additional thoughts after having seen it again. The best review I've read of "Watchmen" --the one I most agree with -- is here written by Andrew O'Hehir. To tell you the truth, I'm a little peeved at the negative tone of many of the reviews, dismissing this intelligent, thoughtful and complexly difficult film outright as if it were a piece of fluff. That's just too easy. For one thing, you have Alan Moore's full permission. (He's the rebellious author of the source material, a comic series now available as a graphic novel, who has refused all royalties or even allow his name on the credits). And for another, no one can convert a great work into another great work. One will always be a pale imitation of the other.

But, taken on its own terms, I think "Watchmen," the film, is, for me, a towering artistic achievement -- and just like all towering achievements, it's going to be loathed with great scorn. It's not a light hearted "entertainment," even though I found it riveting from start to finish. People who go to this looking for the airy vapidity of the "Fantastic Four" movie are going to be shocked. Not even Tarrantino is this grisly.

More, plot and characterization aside, it's a stunningly beautiful movie. From the opening montage, which details the history of super heroes (in this alternate timeline of history where super heroes help win the VietNam war and Nixon is on his third term), through the use of stylized publicity shots done in frieze, I knew I was in for a visual feast. This is real moviemaking. An epic scale telling a small story.

And, blessedly, it's not merely an endless series of chase scenes and fights. It has terrific dialogue and deeply emotional characters with full life stories behind them.

It would have been easy to just dumb this story down and thin it out into a messy gruel (wait for the sequel for that), like they did with "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen," but no. Director Zach Snyder stayed faithful to the humor and pulpy tone of the original and turned out a living novel that paces itself slowly and lets this dystopian world imprint itself into your brain.

Lastly, for a piece written 20 years ago, it seems terribly relevant to how the world still feels today as the media continues to paint a world on the brink of annihilation. We're fed a steady stream of THINGS TO BE AFRAID OF and we start thinking that this is the reality of the world. But it's not. That's a narrative that's been created and developed over a period of time.

Just like "Watchmen."

More links: Alan Moore, who created and wrote the original Watchmen, talks extensively about the role of super heroes and comic books in this stimulating and tough interview. It's well worth reading.


hemo2homo.jpg

The Hemo2Homo Connection are Shawn Decker and Steve Schalchlin.

The 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.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

My Inner Geek Will Be Watching Watchmen.


I have tickets to tomorrow's first matinee of the greatly anticipated movie version of WATCHMEN, possibly the greatest graphic novel ever written. The author of said book has renounced all association with the film because of how they murdered his other books, "League of Extraordinary Gentelmen," "V For Vendetta," and... well, trust me. They murdered them.

Early reviews for WATCHMEN have been all the way from absolute hate to complete and total embrace. (Roger Ebert loved it!).

So, who knows? But I'm gonna be there. Front and center.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

The Complete New World Waking.

For those of you who have been asking if you can finally hear the ENTIRE New World Waking song cycle, it was recorded in Santa Cruz, CA on hi def video by a "touring edition" of the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus.

I've embedded the entire playlist here. If you click on it, it will cycle through the entire concert automatically. However, this playlist isn't hi def. If you go to each song individually, you can click through to the hi def version. My thanks to Ken McPherson who arranged to have this done.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Concert May 10th in Olympia, Washington

I'm going to sing a benefit concert for PFLAG-Olympia on May 10th this year. I was trying to decide on a name for the concert and came up with this. What do you think?