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].

Thursday, October 25, 2012

I've been somewhat immobile for two days.

Tests. Tests to find out why these kidney stones keep recurring. But they won't keep me down. Yes, sometimes you have to stay still, or be confined to an area, or be too weak to think. And when you do, you surrender to it and do nothing. Let the process of healing take its time. Otherwise, if you go too fast, you just end up back in bed, anyway.

Overseas in London, they're approaching the final weekend of the run of The Last Session. There are only a few tickets left. They will immediately go into the studio to make the cast recording. This will be hot. They know each other so well, and love each other so much. I can't wait to hear them now that they've connected as true band mates.

There is also talk of what might happen next. It's bad luck, they say, to discuss any possibilities out loud until it's all said and done. But there are several options. What we do know is that this show is playing to standing room audiences who are also standing ovation audiences. And in London, they don't hand those out like candy. Not like over here.

I'll keep you as up to date on everything as much as I can.

Anyway, two days of rest and semi-confinement to the house. I can now get out a little bit and walk around more. Being confined has also helped me focus on this Mass. As I said before, it's the most complex composition I've ever attempted. A friend of mine said, "I don't know anyone who's writing a Mass!" I haven't really given it that much thought.

Part of me is screaming, "LISTEN TO THIS!!" And the other part feels like a Freshman in college whose trying to finish his first term musical dissertation. I can just see myself getting slaughtered by the critics, assuming we'd ever do this anywhere but at our own church. You never know.

Too, I was approaching this project with a Baptist brain. First, I had to look up "Mass" to find out what, exactly, it is. A ritual. The Baptist brains going boink again. We don't believe in rituals. And even the Tao says "Rituals are the husk of true faith."

So, I had a mental block. Until the day I looked at the Kyrie and realized how human it is. A cry of pain. A begging for mercy. And only three or four words. All in Latin. I found myself thinking like a songwriter, and I wrote what felt like a mini-play, or a scene from a play. And, using music, I tried to tell a story. No one else even needs to know what the story is. It's there in the melody and harmony. I called it Kyrie Tremulare (trembling).

The Gloria has more words, but who doesn't love to shout with joy? I just wrote joy. And the Credo? It's almost ready. It's more cinematic. It's like taking a vow while watching a movie. It has heaven and hell and judgment. And redemption. And rebirth. Always a topic on this blog.

So, we'll see. Some of it may be really difficult to sing. But I'm the back row tenor in a choir in Brooklyn with a musical director who conducted for Bernstein, a historic organ being played by a Carnegie Hall virtuoso from Finland, and some of the finest trained young voices in the City. It may just be a few folks in Brooklyn who'll hear it, but it will sound good!

Then? Carnegie Hall, of course!
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