Monday, December 30, 2013

Feeling a bit better.

Save me from this couch! I have been trapped here with this upper respiratory infection, but woke this morning feeling much better. So the antibiotics are kicking in. Thank goodness! 


Great News.

Jim and I both just received year-end recognition for our respective appearances at the Metropolitan Room this past year from Stephen Hanks writing in BroadwayWorld Stephen is one of the very few critics who takes the time to see just about every show in the City -- and believe me, it's a lot.
Best Use of Personal Photos/Multi-Media Presentation in a Show: In his absorbing tribute show, Character Man, Jim Brochu mixed in some wonderful snapshots of himself with many of the great actors to which he paid tribute.
And for me:
Most Surprisingly Powerful Show That I Didn't Expect To Be So Good: Steve Schalchlin's highly-personal and emotionally enriching, Tales From the Bonus Round, was a 60th Birthday/CD release show that was a revelation at the Metropolitan Room in late October.
So this is a great time to remind you that our big show night is in a little over two weeks! (And all my starving artist friends and blog readers, the half-off discount code is stevejim. Enter it after you order your tickets on the website. But don't tell anyone. It's just a secret between us.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Health Update.

First of all, the bad news. I'm down with an upper respiratory infection. Taking antibiotics. Should be good to go in a few days. But I was plagued all last weekend with some kind of stomach thing. Wasn't serious. Just very uncomfortable and it made singing a bit tough.

Still, our choir sang the Christmas Eve and Christmas morning services and I made it through just fine. Even made it to a couple of Christmas parties.

My favorite pic was this one. Jim and me posing with a legend in this town, Sondra Lee, who you may know as Tiger Lily in the original cast of Peter Pan, the original Minnie Fay in Hello Dolly and one of Jerome Robbins' prima ballerinas.

This respiratory thing hits me about once a year. So, it was expected.

The other test results, which I got a few weeks back, though, were great. Virus still undetectable. Liver and kidneys functioning normally. My exercise routine has made a big difference in my blood sugars and cholesterol, all of which I'm keeping under control. It's a daily fight, but definitely worth it.



Monday, December 23, 2013

Funny how relevant The Last Session is, suddenly.

With this new London Cast Album being released, I hope it will bring new attention to the show itself because I would love for people to see how well Jim's book dealt with the very "religious divide" issues that are now reaching a kind of climax with the Duck Dynasty thing going on.

And how did he do it? With humor. But also with respect for people on both sides.

Recently, I played an AIDS education concert for The Lab School here in New York City, singing the songs from TLS for the dramatic club. They mentioned to me that next year they'd like to do a show for next year's program, and wondered about doing TLS. I said I've done it with student groups all over the country. So, we're talking. 

It's great because it gives me the chance to play Gideon. I'm too old for the role at this point in my life, but then, high school students are too young for the other parts. So, that makes us even. Doesn't it?




Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Duck Dynasty Anti-Gay Guy.

As for Duck Dynasty, the issue is not so much him as it is the fundamentalist religious beliefs and culture that taught him this. He said these things because someone told him these things. Someone who he believes speaks for God. That's the real story, and it's one the media is not religiously sophisticated enough to address. So, instead, it's about "bigotry," a nice, generic catch-all that becomes more and more meaningless without context.

Duck Dynasty star suspended for anti-gay statements.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Steve's Spicy Black Bean / Quinoa Pasta Skillet Casserole.

I brought this to a Christmas party and everyone began demanding the recipe, which is something I made up while trying to discover vegetarian meals for myself.

Steve's Spicy Black Bean / Quinoa Pasta Skillet Casserole 
COMPLETE VEGETARIAN MEAL

This quick and easy to cook bowl of spicy deliciousness consists mostly of protein-rich fresh vegetables, is a rich, hearty mouthful, suitable as a main course. I eat this almost every day as my “don’t have to figure out what to make” regular meal. This recipe will make two very big bowls of food, depending on how much you throw into the skillet. 

Early prep for ease of use: Early in the week, I blanch the vegetables and cook the pasta in the same water. Then store it all in the fridge. This way, when I’m ready to “cook,” all I have to do is throw everything into the pan, and can make it easily over several days. 

INGREDIENTS:
1 chopped big sweet Onion
1 Handful of cooked Quinoa pasta (any pasta will do)
4 Spicy Black Bean “burgers” (thawed), but any veggie burger will do.
3 or 4 handfuls of blanched broccoli, green beans, and/or asparagus (To blanch: Boil in water 3 minutes for broccoli and asparagus, 5 minutes for green beans.)
Several big splashes of.Olive oil.
Various spices thrown in to taste (salt, pepper, garlic salt, cumin, paprika, turmuric, red pepper flakes, onion flakes -- basically, anything I have in the pantry)
Sprinkle of parmesan cheese

 Pasta and green vegetables should be prepped before beginning. See above. In a large skillet, caramelize onion in a small amount of olive oil in large pan on high heat.

 Throw in the pasta and vegetables by small handfuls. Mix with the onions until coated with oil, adding olive oil, to taste. Liberally add big dashes of the spices, until everything is coated. Add the bean burgers (thawed) and stir it together until everything is hot.

Can be served while the veggies are still a bit crisp, or you can cook it down until it’s more congealed. Add sprinkling of parmesan cheese and serve in a big bowl with a fork. Can also be served as a side dish.

Created by Steve Schalchlin
http://bonusroundblog.blogspot.com
steveshack@gmail.com

Friday, December 13, 2013

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

At a Hospice, In the Atrium (Official Lyrics Video)



The true story of the day they asked me to sing at an AIDS hospice. Please share it with a caregiver. No ads. No pop-ups. Totally free.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

You Can Vote!

It's free.

It's the 2013 BroadwayWorld Cabaret Awards and I am gratefully nominated in the categories of Best CD Release (Solo, Duo or Group) -- Tales from the Bonus Round -- and Best Original Song for a Cabaret Show -- "So Many Days in an Hour." And you can vote! For me or for whomever you like best.

Here is the newly created lyrics video:


VOTE HERE!

Sunday, December 01, 2013

My Obligation as a Positoid on World AIDS Day.


When I first tested positive in 1993, the literature that came from the AIDS Service Organizations had this listed as your number one thing to do:

1. Survive.

That whatever you had to do, whomever you had to beg, whatever humiliation you may endure in public and in private, whatever you do, first you survive. You know, put your mask on before your kid's.

So, when I try to express the gratitude that I feel to you, reader, for whatever part you played in my life or in the life of any other positoid, I fall short. Words are not enough. My obligation, my gratitude is to do exactly what you were working so hard for me to achieve:

Survival.

For Christmas, all I wanted was a stretch or yoga mat which now resides just behind Jim's chair in the living room.

Physicality is not something I've ever been that aware of. My hamstrings are so tight, I can barely bend over from the waist. So, my next goal is to touch the ground. And yes, I'm still running every day.

I don't have a plan for survival except do what makes me healthy. Music is a vital part of it.

But, also, excavating my self-destructive habits. I have a few. 

It's a daily struggle because I want to more than survive. I want my life to have real meaning. 

In fact, my personal obligation is not just gratitude but a return on investment. I want to be worthy of the effort. I want you to be able to look at my life and say proudly, "Look what we did."


My November beard got officially too long.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Sea Glass


I wrote this song for a friend, then she recorded me singing it for her. Then I took that video and, using photos she shot at the beach, made a new video edit. Thank you, Lynne for your friendship and love.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Book Review: 12 Years A Slave.

For 2 dollars, I d/l'd "12 Years A Slave." After having read Frederick Douglass' autobio which is FREE online, the original and the rewritten one -- I had become obsessed with what makes people cruel. But also with the definition of "humane." The writer, Solomon Northrup, even though he endured cruelty few of us can even imagine, refused to hate white people. He hated cruel masters, but he was even compassionate about the 12-year old son who he felt was a fine person, but was being taught cruelty by his dad, who would cheer him as he rode down a row of cotton beating slaves randomly.

A refusal to hate takes huge amounts of courage. But it's the only route to a sane existence on this earth. What I observe on Social Media is that people too easily use ridicule against a political or religious opponent. If that opponent can laugh at himself, then it's cool. But if it's just a triumphalist way to play to the choir, thereby shaming the opponent, then it becomes what Dr. King taught was "violence of the tongue."

What does this have to do with beating a slave? I don't know. Except that violence writ large is a reflection of violence writ small. The irony of it all is that it the one who is being beaten who has to be the teacher. But more than that, I must become a student of non-violence and compassion or the sufferings of these men and woman will count for nothing. I will be a participant in the culture of violence that propagates cruelty.

Refusing to participate in cruelty and violence is a much more difficult route. The joy of ridicule and shame, so inherent in my need to be "right" must be fought at every turn. Words are actions.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Jim & Steve Do Our Shows on Jan. 15.

BIG NEWS! Jim Brochu will be performing Character Man on the same night that I"m repeating my "Tales From The Bonus Round" concert. For both shows, you only pay $40. Call 212-206-0440 now and reserve your seat!


Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Review of the Metropolitan Room Concert.

I was in email black-out when the review hit.

I had been waiting and waiting for it, but went offline for a week. When I logged back in, there was an email from my old pal, Bev saying, essentially, what did you pay the guy at the BroadwayWorld for that review?

That "guy" is Stephen Hanks, a well respected online critic, publisher and producer on the cabaret and theater scene in New York. He sees everything. I cajoled him to come and review my one night only concert. We've met many times at various shows, benefits and events. And also, to be fair, Stephen is a sweetheart and I don't recall him ever having written a nasty review. Even if he hated it, he'd find something kind to say. And then I could use that for future publicity and promotion. (Promotions don't work if you're the only one telling the world how good you are.)

"A terrific night of music!" says Steve Schalchlin about Steve Schalchlin. Nope. Doesn't do it.  Quotes, people! We need quotes!

So, Bev seems to think it's good. Bev's done PR work for me before. If she's this excited, then something must be up.

I looked in my Google Alerts, and there was the link. "Steve Schalchlin not Saccharine."

Okay. That's not a mind-blowing, call the relatives headline, but since I write what many people feel is very uplifting music, being saccharine (a fake sweet that feels phony) is the WORST fear I have. I avoid it at all costs.

Taking a deep breath I dove into the review.

He opens the review with a long paragraph about making people cry. About how difficult it is to pull this off because, in order for an audience to go there, they have to truly be engaged and they have to believe that what you're singing is coming right from the heart. When he listed Ann Hampton Callaway, I sat bolt upright. She's one of the finest cabaret performers alive. Where is he going with this?

Here is where he went:
But it's rare to encounter an entire cabaret offering that is so personal, sensitive, and emotionally compelling on a number of levels as to leave you feeling satisfyingly drained by the end of it. When a show can do that without a hint of sadness, self-indulgence, or sickeningly sweet sentimentality, what you've experienced is nothing short of a dramatic triumph. That's pretty much what singer/songwriter Steve Schalchlin (pronounced SHACK-lin) accomplished on October 27 with his new show at the Metropolitan Room.
WHAT?? That paragraph alone is incredible. I started to breathe deeply. Women weep for such quotes. Men starve for quotes like this. And he's not remotely done yet.
While it was billed as a presentation celebrating the release of his 13-song CD, Tales From the Bonus Round, and his 60th birthday, it was so much more than that. It was also a show about fear, fortitude, anxiety, anguish, compassion, courage, and love, all expressed in poetic and often clever lyrics and melodies ranging from uplifting gospel to Billy Joel-sounding mid-tempo pop to sensitive ballads, many colored with musical theater undertones.
Wow! Stephen! You're embarrassing me!

He goes on to praise one of the newest songs, "So Many Days In An Hour" and one from The Last Session, "Somebody's Friend." But then...
But probably the most compelling and powerful song in the set came next with the moving and self-revelatory "At A Hospice, In The Atrium," which is not only about Steve's actual experience of what he calls "a harrowing and emotional afternoon singing in an unusual place," but is also about the true meaning of performing music for the love of it and as a gesture of healing, and not about doing it for money, approval or glory. You couldn't even hear a glass clink in the Met Room as Schalchlin tenderly told his tale
And that's it, isn't it? In a world where people think fame is a valid end goal, what happens when you do something for the love of it, or because someone needs you? Or, as he puts, "a gesture of healing?"

I can answer that. The world opens its arms. And I can tell you why. Wanna do songs about how awful the world is? About how everything sucks? Easy. In improv class, they always say that the easiest route, during a scene, is the one that goes violent or nasty. Piece of cake.

Now try doing something positive, uplifting or healing. And do it honestly and not in some treacly, obvious way. Try doing it without, as Stephen put is, "a hint of sadness, self-indulgence, or sickeningly sweet sentimentality."

Readers wrote me after this review and asked me how I did it. Easy. I was just myself. Tell the story and get off the stage. That's how you do it. Just tell the story. Same advice Jim Brochu gave me on Day One when I was writing the score for The Last Session.

Again, it's easy to name all the crappy stuff in the world. Easy as a cat sleeps. I know people -- well meaning people who DWELL in the feelings that bad stuff brings to them. As if FEELING bad and experiencing the weight of the world is providing some kind of solution. It gives them the illusion that they're doing something.

In order to survive, I had to do more than know what was wrong with me. I had to take physical, actual, concrete steps to get myself out of the hole. Yes, my friends helped. Yes, my support system gave me encouragement, but the battles are all inside.

In the past two weeks, I've had emails from friends who have been living at the bottom of their ability to endure. A cold mattress in a lonely apartment. Or no apartment at all and wondering where they would get their next meal. I look around and see that I have food and shelter, and Jim and Steinbeck. We may not be rich, but we survive. And how do we survive? By doing what it takes to survive. This morning, I did my hour running and another half hour stretching and lifting weights. I cooked my veggies up and I turned away from junk food and laziness.

Simple things. One step at a time things. These are decisions we make and when we make them, good things result.

Stephen got to that point of the review and said:
As a TV sports reporter offering highlights of a blowout game might say, "You could have turned your sets off right there," and this would have qualified as a wonderful show, but there were still seven songs plus an encore to go.
And he takes us through the rest of the show with equally effusive praise, which was only an hour long, by the way. And he finally finishes with:
Steve Schalchlin's sincere and sensitive show made me cry with joy.
And your review made me cry with Joy, Stephen Hanks. Thank you! Thank you from the bottom of my heart. My next problem is how do I choose one quote for my upcoming repeat of this concert? How about this?


Okay, now, reader please buy some tickets for the next show. If not for yourself, then for someone you know who needs to hear the music.

EDIT: Jim Brochu will now be performing CHARACTER MAN at 9pm after my concert. Both shows are $25 plus two beverages, but for both shows, the cost will be $40.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Concert Aftermath

On Monday, the day after my new concert debut in New York at the Metropolitan Room, I was sitting on the couch trying to take it all in. Decompressing from a very long day.

And, suddenly, out of nowhere, I started crying. Huge, big, heaving, sobbing tears.

Because the concert not only came off as well as I had been dreaming it might, but way, WAY beyond what I could have imagined.



As the emails flooded into my box, I read story after story of people who told me their lives had been changed. Really?

Two friends said the show as so emotional for them, that they held each other's hands all through it. Another said that every face in the room was wet with tears of joy and release, as they cried and cried at the songs and the stories coming from the stage.

What I remember is how, when I looked out at the room during the show, every person was on the edge of their seats, leaning forward trying to catch every word, every note, every nuance.



And how they all turned into a huge Bonus Round Choir, jumping into the choruses and singing along to songs they didn't even know! YES!

And my band! There was traffic coming in from Queens, so Stephen Elkins barely got there in time -- and we weren't even sure what he was gonna do on stage. Luckily, there was a drum set, so they set it up quickly and he improv'd a percussion accompaniment. Bill Goffi got there in time, but we hadn't run through any of the songs. James Lawless, who played bass, came in from Jersey. We had never even met before. He was just a guy who had helped me and cheered me on while I was recording the album.

Evan Cohen and James Eden came into video tape the show. Even they arrived at the last minute and were winging it.

I had spent the two previous days making chord charts, so that my improvised "Bonus Round Band" could fake their way through the set.

I mean, if there is a set of rules on how NOT to do a show, this was it.

In fact, when Bill and Stephen asked me what songs they were to sing background vocals on, I told them I didn't know. Just to jump in and wherever it felt right, keep an eye on me and we'd just wing it. Well, you'd have thought we had been playing and singing together for years.

At one point in the show, I told the story of how I received this shy note back in 1996 from a Dr. Bruce Dorsey introducing himself as the chemist at Merck whose team made the breakthrough drug Crixivan, which saved my life and which was the turning point in the fight against the massive deaths of AIDS in the 80s and 90s.

Then, I said, "And he's here with us today."

The audience gasped and sprang to the feet, a massive standing ovation. Everyone was crying, including his wife and kids.

I mean how often does a chemist get a standing ovation?

But he was responsible for the salvation of so many of us, how could we not?

Dr. Bruce Dorsey, the man who saved a million lives.
And then I started the opening strains to "Lazarus Come Out" and, by that time, as Jimmy would say, the house was up for grabs. "SING ALONG!" and they did. They sang. We all sang!

How often do we get to celebrate real triumphs? Real victories in life?

By the end of the show, my mind was somewhere in god knows where. I'm sure the endorphins and other healing chemicals were racing through my body in numbers no one could count.

For many long years, I've dreamed of this moment: the chance to really take New York on. For four years, since we moved here, I've been writing and studying and lying low, for the most part, sometimes battling opportunistic infections, sometimes barely able to move, but I refused to quit. Refused to give in.

This is the show I wanted to do. This was my personal statement of what has happened to me since The Last Session. Since The Big Voice: God or Merman?

My life isn't defined by AIDS nor is my music trapped in some sub-genre of disease-related music or even musical theater.

It's an expression of everywhere I've been. Everything I've seen. Everyone I've touched. And more, everyone who has touched me.

Reader, if you've been along for this ride, you know I've traveled a tough road. Sometimes flat on my back. Sometimes high on mountaintops. But no matter where I was, I had you coaxing me along. I had you supporting me and caring for me.

You are the reason I continue to not just survive, but to thrive. And everything I do is a consequence of your being there to push me, guide me, goad me and kick me in the ass.

So, yeah. I sat on this couch and I wept like a baby.

Tales from the Bonus Round was a triumph in every sense of the word. I could see it in the faces of the people in the audience. I could feel it in the room.

Afterward, Bernie Furshpan, who owns the club, said it was the single most emotionally fulfilling show that has ever graced his stage. And that's saying a lot, since the greatest artists in the world have played the Metropolitan Room. And he demanded that we do it again.

Not a problem, my friend. Not a problem at all.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

We're gonna do it again January 15.

I still have to write a diary entry about the extraordinary experience we had on Sunday with the debut of the Tales from the Bonus Round concert at the Metropolitan Room, but for now, it's sufficient to say that we're booked to do it again on January 15th at 7pm.

I've quickly pulled together a graphic for the page here so we can begin publicity. What I will tell you, reader, is that there wasn't a dry eye in the house. So many little miracles and coincidences happened, my heart is full and I'm still amazed how it all got pulled off. What a show.


Friday, October 25, 2013

Making the Choice to Live.

Lately, I've been contacted by several friends asking my advice for either themselves or for someone they know: How do you convince someone to want to live? Or, more directly, how someone qualify to be in the bonus round?

I don't think they really think I can provide an answer, but because of my experience, I can describe my road.

I said to him it's not a destination. It's a decision you make. One I make. Every single morning. Maybe every single moment. Rebirth is a constant. Not a one time event.

I said to him, "You have decide to live because WE have to." You know, like we're gonna let you off easy??

I have continued my training/exercise regimen. Faithfully, though I think I could push myself harder. I am very sure that if I had a trainer, he would all, "Come on, pussy! One more!" So, no, I'm not going to look like a body builder any time soon.

However, I have been faithful. No matter how much I didn't want to, no matter the voice in my head that said, "You did great yesterday. You can take a day off now." No. Only the weekends to rest and recover.

I have my exercise shorts and shirts there by my bed, so that they are what goes on when I arise.

My hands grab socks. They put shoes on my feet.

Then my mind thinks, "Well, as long as you're dressed, you could just go for a walk. Maybe after walking, let it go into a jog. Get some blood moving."

But it begins with my hands dressing me almost as if they had a mind of their own.

This disconnect reminds me of my experience in Andy Gale's class, where I was -- with a blank mind -- reciting the prison speech from Richard II -- and could observe myself with tears running down my cheek like rivers as I contemplated how alone he is in that scene.

Alone and confused that his notion of what it means to be a King appointed by God to be stuck in a cell. Should not he be able to supernaturally claw his way out? Where were the angels that, if God were with him, should be at his side, protecting that divine throne?

In his despair, he's thinking, "Well, if God doesn't do this, then there must be no God -- and therefore, "I am nothing."

Sounds perfectly logical. If God appointed him, which God did, given the fact that the throne itself is divine, then it must mean that God is his defender and companion, ready to jump in and rescue him. And if God is not, then it means there is no God.

If this, then that.

But how did he get these ideas? He was told them, of course. He had a group around him that convinced him that he had an army of angels waiting because God was on his side. No, he was like Jesus. He even had, they say, shrines that he carried around with himself in the middle between Jesus, the Holy Spirit, Mary and the Father.

When he realized he was alone, he fell in despair. Well, guess what? We're all alone in our heads. We don't have to fall into despair or into the false belief that God will do the work for us.

I have several friends who are suffering great sickness right now. Some are family, some are longtime friends, and some are new friends I've made as a consequence of the music on Tales from the Bonus Round.

They ask me how I've endured.

And I think the answer is that, somehow, I don't think about it. I just let my hands and feet make the decisions while I go along for the ride. Sounds stupid when I write it down.

But my friend, Ernie, used to say, "Feelings aren't facts."

It doesn't mean they're not REAL. It just means that you can't trust them.

So I try to lift myself away from it, bypass the emotion and look at what my body is doing. 

The kidneys have been stable. The blood sugar stable, especially with all that exercise. 

And now I'm looking forward to The Big Night, October 27th.

The other night, though -- and this is a meds story -- I had gotten confused about my dosages and mistakenly took particularly strong psychotropic antiviral too close together and had a hellish night. I couldn't sleep. And I had an anxiety attack like I've hardly ever experienced. Suddenly, I could feel total compassion for friends of mine for whom anxiety is a true illness, a paralyzing constant in their lives.

I am constantly reminded how vulnerable I am. Or maybe we all are.

I'm rambling now. Almost time to get going this morning.

To qualify for the bonus round, show up. Engage. This is your life: Participate!

But it starts every single morning. No matter how I FEEL. No matter my thoughts.

I put on the shoes. I put on the shirt. I move my body. I make it happen. And all things come from that.

Rehearsing by myself. Reinventing myself.

I sat in the darkness of the Metropolitan Room and played through the songs the other day, all by myself. I just wanted to see if I could do it, the same way I recorded this album. No prompting. No lyric sheets.

The first thing I discovered was I love this piano.

It really fills the room. And it was at the piano that my entire life of Lazarus began.

With this new show and album, I'm reinventing myself by turning my focus from what was solely an AIDS education concert into a motivational concert, which, in a way it always has been. My experience in overcoming the adversity of disease empowers others to realize their own untapped potential.

And now, with my friends joining me, we're going to make some GREAT music together!

See you on Sunday!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

It's a Jam Band on Sunday!

I'm so excited! I have a band, for the first time in forever, playing with me on Sunday. Bill Goffi on guitar. James Lawless on bass and Stephen Elkins are all joining me on stage. Also, Alex Thomas is going to do the intro and Evan Cohen will be taping it.

SPECIAL GUEST: JIM BROCHU!

Last chance to get tickets!

STEVE IN CONCERT! Get tickets here!

The Metropolitan Room
34 W. 22nd St.
NY, NY

ONE SHOW ONLY. 4pm.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Limited Edition Signed/Numbered CDs Available.

There are only 100 CDs available. You may purchase yours by sending $20 through Paypal to steveshack@gmail.com. Or, if you don't use Paypal, write an email to that address and we'll work out a different method of payment. Low numbers are still available. (I'll cover the postage and handling unless you're international. In that case, include $10 extra.)


Every Day A New Amen (Official LYRICS video)



From "Tales from the Bonus Round."

The Only Kind of Music (Official LYRICS video)



From "Tales from the Bonus Round."

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Poster Design for PFLAG-Olympia benefit concerts.


#wds2013

Traditions Fair Trade Store
Olympia, Washington
Two shows.
Saturday, January 25th.

Wanna Sing With Me?

Here's how you get into the Bonus Round Choir: Show up.

There. You're in.

Anyone who comes to my October 27th gig at the Metropolitan Room who loves to sing, I'll be concluding the program with Lazarus Come Out and My Rising Up, both of which feature simple call-and-response back-up. 

I have been so preoccupied with the CD, I forgot I have to sell tickets to this thing.


Oh, damn. I need to write up an official looking press release or something.

If you read this blog, please tell yer friends about it.

Selling tickets is hard!




Sunday, October 06, 2013

A Birthday Thank You.

I want to thank the many, many well-wishers, friends and family who posted links to my songs on YouTube. It was the best birthday present of all, to know that people care enough to share your art. I spent many, many hours, days, weeks and years writing those songs because I had to live them before I could write them.

For struggling artists with no label, no producer, no agent, no manager, but lots of friends who care, those shared links mean the world. So, don't just share mine. Go to an artist you love -- someone else struggling to pay the rent and stay alive -- and give them some link-love. You have no idea how it will brighten their day to know someone out there really listens to the heart and soul they invest in their music.

Lastly, just as I did when we started the TLS adventure, I've burned 100 home made discs for sale of Tales from the Bonus Round. I've signed and numbered them as a collector's item. In a way, I had to do this anyhow since I didn't use a service to manufacture any CDs (too expensive and no storage room in our apartment for boxes). "Tales," right now, is only a download or a stream, though Amazon will do one-off manufacturing starting in about 5 weeks or so (they say).

To this day, people come to me with signed and numbered cassettes I gave out at the first presentation of The Last Session at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in early 1996, before the new drug came along that summer.

And thanks to all who wished me a happy birthday. I learned on that "death bed," that in this life nothing matters but the people around you. All else is silliness and vanity. And that's the lesson of the bonus round. Anyone whose life is about "things" is living a lonely existence. Feel pity for them. And embrace your loved ones ever tighter in service to each other, community and adventure. And that's how you live a remarkable life.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Tales from the Bonus Round now on Spotify.

I wasn't expecting it to happen so quickly, but I'm thrilled that Tales from the Bonus Round is now also on Spotify and, presumably, most other streaming services.

New Album now Available in the iTunes Store.

Featuring two of the songs heard at #wds2103 Tales from the Bonus Round is now available on iTunes.

I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoyed making it. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

I recommend this new AIDS blog.

The next generation of HIV/AIDS awareness by Perry N. Halkitis. And look for his book, The AIDS Generation, which features stories of the first generation of people with HIV/AIDS.

Running and Radio!

Health update and some unexpected fun with a friend.

First of all, I got my cards for my Oct. 27th gig at the Metropolitan Room.


Now that the weather has cooled a bit, and it's more fun to run, I thought I'd run down to the Metropolitan Room, which is about two miles. In fact, I've lately found myself avoiding the subways or buses unless absolutely necessary, preferring to run or power walk to my destinations. I remember when I moved to NY back in the early 80s, I was surprised at how small the island actually is, and how close together everything is compared to LA, which was spread out for miles and miles.

I saw owner, Bernie Furshpan, who, with his wife Joanne, has become a great friends of ours. He stuffed my cards into one of the little displays at the front of the club and then asked me if I wanted to co-host a radio program with him that afternoon.

Sure! Why not?


I also ran over to Swing 46, where Jake and Katie work, dropping some off there, and also at Don't Tell Mama, where I've also performed.

There is such a wealth of great performance places here. The Metropolitan Room has a great stage and piano. I think we won't have any problems filling it for the one night. (I hope).

Healthwise, I ran 9 miles the other day. I paid for it the next day, but refused to lie still. I put in another 5 miles -- and then slept all day. Then, 3 miles the next day. But my average run was up to 5 miles before the big 9 mile day, which happened mostly because I had errands to run. And I ran to each of them.

This work is crucial because it's driving down my dependence on insulin, as I wrote about earlier. 

Every street and view in New York City is interesting. I remember the other morning, I hit Times Square just as the tourists were beginning to come out, about 8am, and I overheard these two younger guys, complete with shades, say, "Woah! It's just like the video game."

Yesterday, I enjoyed being the guest of the podcast, Powder Keg of Awesome. I think I still talk too much. But this is a great way to learn. And they were great! Everyone in the "room" was bursting with energy and great stories.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Media Alert.

Tomorrow, Sept. 25th, Steve Schalchlin is the scheduled guest on the Powder Keg of Awesome podcast at 10 am Pacific/1 pm Eastern.

The link to the show page is here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/powderkegofawesome/2013/09/25/episode-103-steve-schalchlin

A Singular Honor.

Maybe it's because I'm approaching my 60th birthday, but I was the recipient of the Artist of the Year award at the 160th Anniversary of Christ Church, Bay Ridge, an Episcopal Church where I am privileged to be composer in residence.



It exists because of the efforts of Fr. Jeffrey Hamblin, MD, who uses the money he earns as a physician to fund, or help fund, the music program.

Helen McShane is the Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient.
Fr. Jeffrey Hamblin, MD; Fr. Gabriel Adde and wife, Nadia.
Fr. Adde received the Ecumenical Partner Award.
His Syrian Orthodox Church shares our space.
These kinds of churches are different from the Baptist congregations I grew up in. And I'm not saying one is better than the other. But the sense of history, and the "presence" of Christians down through the ages all the back to the time of Christ, comes back when we hear them through their music. It's two completely different cultures.

Cono De Paola (R.) receives Humanitarian Award.
Lately, in an effort to expand our repertoire, Kalle Toivio, who is working on his doctorate at Manhattan School of Music, has created a small group that sings medieval music, the kind actually written for these big open Gothic spaces. It's so haunting!



When I first accepted the position, I thought it was a way for me to get my songs sung and to learn more about choral arranging. And maybe even learn more advanced composition. But to compose for a congregation is not the same as taking a position, for instance, at an institution, where the goal is simply art for art's sake. I had to ask myself, what is it I'm trying to write?

Though I've written "sacred" music my whole life, given my Baptist upbringing, this Episcopal and Catholic side of the Church is not one with which I was familiar. I didn't know this music nor did I know the function of it. Or the history of it. Or even the meaning of it.


That's very exciting to me, as a creative person. I love unfamiliar territory. I love the undiscovered.

One of the first clues came during the midnight services at Easter time, where there's a feeling of loss and mourning because of the death of Jesus -- and the sadness that one has not lived up to one's potential in view of what Christians consider the greatest sacrifice of all.

Like a deja vu, I was transported back to another time. The music so perfectly describes the era, with its intense dark sadness, those people into the room via their emotions.

And I thought, of course! The music brings back the people. The "cloud of witnesses." To remind people that they are not alone, and that they come from a history of people who also sacrificed and mourned, and found joy and solace -- all the things faith communities supply when they're doing it right.

So, if I write music that reflects this generation of people, they will endure in the lives of those who will come after when these songs are sung. The music will bring it back because it's the music that expresses the emotions, the feelings of an era.

This is a humble congregation now. In its day a hundred years ago, the pews were filled with people of letters, people of society. Bay Ridge, at one point, was a getaway for the well-heeled of New York.

There are still some extremely intelligent and accomplished people who attend, but there are just as many folks who come in because they're seeking a place of comfort. Who live, or have lived, tough lives. Who maybe just need a place to sit for a few minutes and avail themselves of the food pantry, or share a cup of coffee, afterward.

One can lament what was, but the job is to serve what is.

As I sat there listening to Mark Janas sing my praises before I went to receive my award, I realized that my real job was to reflect who these people are. To write music that will last through the ages. Because, in doing so, I'm saying to them that I think their love and their dedication deserves to last through the ages.



Saturday, September 21, 2013

Steinbeck Sleeping.

Sleeping cat. I could sit and look at him for hours when he does this hide the eyes things.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Graphic for my 60th Birthday Concert.


USNY: Shakespeare Update "The Hollow Crown"

In this blog, I'm going to plug a PBS show and a new book about AIDS research. I hadn't actually planned it that way. Just wanted to warn you in advance.


The University of Steve in New York is what I call my current self-generated (bonus round) plan to learn everything in the world there is to know and write one of everything that can be written. Part of that education are the Shakespeare Studies, an inadvertent course (correction)

It happened after I was invited to participate in Andy Gale's advanced scene study acting class after having worked with him and the students at Manhattan School of Music. BTW, Andy doesn't have a website and he doesn't go on Facebook. Currently, however, he's performing in a production of "Fiddler" out in Portland, since, aside from being one of the best acting coaches in the City, he's also a working actor and singer. He mostly works privately with a great number of stars whose names you would know. The class I entered is filled with amazing actors. Young and old. Mostly unknown, but really talented.

Since I had never been to an acting class in my life, I felt a bit unprepared. I thought, it's absurd to be taking an acting class and not know anything about Shakespeare. That's like a music scholar never having heard any Beethoven.

So, acting as my own curriculum counselor, I assigned myself the task of reading all the way through Shakespeare and memorizing at least one speech from each play that grabbed me for whatever reason.

For more info, I recommend
this book by Perry Halkitis.
(I'm doing this, also, as a cognitive exercise because, as I spoke about previously, longterm AIDS survivors (The AIDS Generation) are facing not just an unknown future, but an unknown present. How do you know when or if your brain starts going wacko? And what do you do after you know it's started? It has driven more than a few people mad.)

And Jim is always looking at me as if I've lost my mind. But then, he always did.

I say all this because every action I take in life right now has to be weighed as to whether it's healthful for me or not. To not be actively engaged is not healthful.

I read Twelfth Night and enjoyed it because it was much sillier than I was expecting. You go into Shakespeare thinking it's this impenetrable wall of  intellect. You know. Boring. Serious.

Then, I read Merchant of Venice and Hamlet, like taking a tour through all the greatest hits. There was a familiarity in them in that I have sat through movies and some productions of Shakespeare and stuff, but if you had asked me what either of those plays were about, or what happens in them, I wouldn't have been able to tell you.

They didn't stick. It felt more like the first part of an investigation where I was gathering facts.

If I was going to find my way in, I had to find my own door.

I read them using "No Fear Shakespeare,"  (another plug) where Shakespeare's language is set alongside a modern language translation. And I suppose it was like learning a new language, in a way. Not just many of the words, but the arrangement of the nouns and verbs, which is more like Spanish, which I know from having spent a summer in Monterrey, Mexico as a Baptist missionary among the heathen Catholics.

It was Richard II that got to me.

I knew zero about this play. Nothing.

I had learned a speech from Merchant -- which I can't even remember right now -- and it got me very excited. I had learned my first monologue, realizing I could do it. Several times in class, I pulled it off. But, since this is all really new to me, mostly I was over-acting. I could tell. But I did it! And it felt great!

I thought, screw this reading through them all. I'll just google Shakespeare monologues and find one I like.

I came upon the "hollow crown" speech from Richard II. And I fell in love. It's about having nothing left. Being totally at the bottom and remembering that, for all our pretensions, we're all just human beings.

The speech possessed me for weeks. I would recite it while riding the bus to Brooklyn on Sunday morning. I would walk around the City, reciting it. Wouldn't that be cool if a whole City walked around quoting Shakespeare?

I didn't even read the play! I just needed that speech, about how death sits in that crown, keeping court and laughing at pomp and ceremony.

And I thought, Yes! In the bonus round, you sit and laugh at how frail and stupid and unkind and sick and silly and smart and all full of ourselves and lost we all are. Whether we're the ruler of some nation or a lonely guy sick in bed, the rock star of the moment or living in a war zone, the movie star or the teacher or the student or a child.

There the antic sits.

Ben Whishaw as Richard II in "The Hollow Crown"
And there Richard sits. If he's King, he's still in prison. If he's a pauper, he's still in prison. And yet he is God's chosen! But whether Divinely-annointed or not, his fate is the same: death.

I remember when I had accepted my own death, it was like the weight of the world lifted off my shoulders. There he sits. Hello, death! Nice meet you. How warm your embrace almost was. How not scary you were when I met you face to face.

When I read about this BBC/PBS co-production, and that it's called "The Hollow Crown," where they've filmed all the history plays beginning with Richard II, and that Ben Whishaw is playing Richard, I about felt like I did just before the Super Bowl back when I lived in Roger Staubach / Tom Landry Dallas.

It is a miracle to me, having grown up pre-Internet, that I could so easily find all this great wealth of our civilization, and usually for free. What a time we live in.

______
If you wish to join me and attend the University of Yourself, by the way, there is no tuition. And everything you need to learn is on the Internet.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Word I Couldn't Remember.

"I've got a patient in his 40s and his cognitive function is..."

This was my doctor talking to me yesterday.

I don't remember the word he used. Degraded. Screwed up.

I was sitting in my running shorts. I had run to the appointment, continuing my training (for SteveFest60). The clinic is down on west 17th street.

"You've gone from using 60 units of insulin a day to zero after only a month of daily aerobic exercise."

"Yes, and 40 at night on the Lantus, down from 60." (That's the basal insulin).

After the exam, he was writing out the prescription for the blood tests for three months from now. He numbered them off but had missed one. I said, "And the thyroid." (I have Grave's Disease. My right eye is a little googly and tends to wander off.)

He snapped a happy grin at me. "And your mind. Your mind is quick. I talk about you when I do presentations."

"You talk about me??" I beamed.

"We don't know the long term affects of this virus. What's the difference between him and you? That's what we have to find out."

I ran-walked and jogged home. Took my blood. 75. Just in time to eat.

The man in his 40s whose cognitive function is impaired. That's the word. That's the word I couldn't remember. Impaired. That guy didn't impair himself. And the same virus that's attacking him is attacking me. I don't know what's going to happen, or is happening, to me.

I don't know what kind of life he leads. But, as I say in my concerts, the music gave me life. My friends give me life. Learning. And physical training gives me life.

God bless all my fellow positoids. And to all who love us.


Friday, September 13, 2013

Bonus Round Portland Performance Now Online.


Steve Schalchlin from Chris Guillebeau on Vimeo.

I am grateful to Chris Guillebeau for inviting me to the World Domination Summit 2013. You'll hear several references to other speakers in my talk. All of their talks are also online and I absolutely ENCOURAGE you to click around and listen to them.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Service. Community. Adventure.

It has become this mantra for me. Ever since I experienced it at the World Domination Summit, those three words just keep ringing and ringing in my ear.



My most immediate, daily, adventure is my health. My new running/exercise routine is having startlingly strong effects on my body. Feeling good really can be thought of as an adventure when you're physically or mentally down. It takes a conscious effort to, every day, make the choice to live. To grow. To learn.

My new album is also an adventure.

But what am I doing in terms of service? One thing is my volunteer work singing in the church choir. There are also other things I do, such as helping friends with tedious tasks. I like being useful. Does that make sense? Like stuffing envelopes or stapling things.

And then, finally, community. Where is my own personal community? In this world of connectedness, I belong to many communities. My close personal friends are one. But I feel just as close to my cyber friends. I always have. Given the fact that I was doing this before almost anyone else, I was able to develop deep friendships across great divides, back when we were all innocents here on the Net. Before it became a corporate whatever it is today.

One thing is sure, though, and they don't teach you this in high school or at home, you really do choose your community. You hand pick your friends. And what I have found myself doing is hand picking people who are smarter than me, better looking than me, younger and older than me, more talented than me, more loving than me and more generous than me.

And then, I try to become the best parts of them. Another adventure! And what a service to mankind, to boot! To always be thinking of growth and maturity and intelligence and forward motion. What a gift that is to others around you. And how did you get it? Through service. Through community.

As I was running the other day, I was thinking about how, for instance, the adventure of the new album came about because someone did a favor for me. I realized, in retrospect, that I might not have recorded this album if not for Peter Grundy's artwork. He crystallized, without my ever having "set a meeting," everything in that image of that piano. I looked at it and said, "That is my album."

All of the lecturers at the World Domination Summit were there, volunteering their services, because that amazingly open community of -- I was gonna say "True Believers" -- but that term has negative connotations. Maybe a better word is sincere. But not naive. This is a generation that is beyond being naive. The Net has taught us all to be suspicious.

So, that image wasn't merely a connection between artist and songwriter, the environment itself of the World Domination Summit informed what Peter created. I had the lucky job of being the one musical act (except for one woman who played one song on guitar).  

The three energize each other. They create each other. The community energized the art which was a service to me, and now it gets turned into an adventure.

When people ask me how they also can "live in the bonus round," I never had a clear answer. But when I saw the words community, spirit and adventure in all the literature from the Summit, I knew I had my mantra. And it's not even mine. But that's the point. You don't have to die, or almost die, to live a remarkable life.

And, in a mundane and ordinary world, why wouldn't you want to live an remarkable life?

I saw an article recently about how young people want "to be famous," as if that's a career option. I suppose it is. In this world, it's actually quite easy to get famous if you can be weird enough. But what if you chose, instead, to opt for a remarkable life that may or may not lead to fame?

For a songwriter like me, fame is part of the equation because if people don't know who you are, they won't buy a ticket to your show. So, getting recognition is part of the job description. But that's not my goal in life. My goal is to live a remarkable life.

And though I've always kind of known how to do it, instinctively, having it set forth in three simple words is very, very helpful.

Service. Community. Adventure.

Now that's living.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Tales from the Bonus Round FAQ

IS 'TALES FROM THE BONUS ROUND' FINISHED?
Yes. 
DID YOU RECORD LIKE YOU SAID YOU WERE GOING TO, ALL SINGLE TAKES, NO FIXES OR OVERDUBS OR PITCH CORRECTION?
Yes (with slight exception). And on two songs, my friend Bill Goffi, a terrific musician who plays and sings all over town, came in with his guitar and played on two of the tracks. It feels like a jam session because it was a jam session. I think we had run over the songs once together.  
And, I admit at the the end of one particular song, I fixed one wrong note. It would have been a mistake to leave it and I didn’t have the energy to re-record the entire song just to fix one note. So, maybe we’ll make it a guessing game as to which note got fixed. 

WAS IT DIFFICULT, RECORDING THIS WAY?
Impossible. In theory, it seemed like an easy thing. 
But in practice, recording an album “live in the studio” is not the same as performing a concert in front of people, where you can relax and go from song to song, bringing in the energy of the audience.  
 What I found was that everything I ever put into an entire concert went into each song.
 Songs like “At A Hospice, In The Atrium,” where I go right back to that place, where I was surrounded on all sides by unseen people on respirators, breathing their last breaths. I remembered the little out of tune upright. I saw the empty chairs and pictured the people in their rooms with their doors open to hear me. 
And it wasn’t just them. I thought of their friends, their families, their co-workers, how each one represented a world of people. Sorrow this deeply felt overwhelms you.  
And to go there, to get from one end of that song to the other, is like running a marathon as I did my best to hold it together. After, I could barely sit up.  
I just hadn’t realized how intense this plan of mine would be. And then -- and singers know what I’m talking about -- to turn the page and plunge right into the next song. “Somebody’s Friend,” anyone?  
I recently read an article about how someone loved Bob Dylan’s demo of a particular song because, when you hear something from the creator, it has a stamp of authenticity that no one else can bring to it, even if those others have better voices or are better musicians.  
 For me, so many songs are born from great and intense pain. Even the ones that end on a happy note. I don’t have to use acting technique to find that sorrow. I am transported there immediately because the song brings me back to that original place and those original feelings, which can only be imperfectly rendered because they’re a story about The Thing Itself. I’m feeling The Thing Itself.  
So, where does that leave you, listener? Hopefully, to authentic moments and memories of your own. You don’t have to have sung in a hospice to know the sorrow of loss. You don’t have to have been through the mill of the modern medical establishment to know pain or confusion or anger or frustration.  
That’s why a song is a conversation. The listener does not hear, deep inside, what I hear, but, when we connect, the listener hears something just as profound. What I discovered I could not do, after laying down a track, was to sing and play it again. Once sung, it was out of me and I had no capacity to go back and relive the song all over again. I had to just move on.
IF YOU COULDN’T GO BACK AND RECORD SOMETHING AGAIN, WHAT DID YOU DO IF YOU MADE A BIG MISTAKE?

I set it aside for another day. I actually recorded this in four sessions.  
Session one was me getting used to the piano and the sound. I was also trying out a bunch of different songs. We didn’t keep anything from that session, but someday I’ll let you hear some of it.  
Session two, kinda the same thing. Tried out more songs. Re-recorded a few from the first session. And from that second session, we got several keepers: Somebody’s Friend and Going It Alone, for two. Those, of course, I knew better than the new songs. 
 But, on session three, I nailed it. The album you will hear is almost all session three.  
Session four, I added a song, “My Rising Up,” and re-recorded one of the guitar songs with Billy Goffi. At that session, also, Stephen Elkins came and we added harmonies to “Rising.” 
What I did not do, except to just spot check that the sound was good, was listen to the playback of any of the songs during the session. I didn’t listen to what I had just recorded.
Instead, I turned the page and we moved on to the next song. 
If it felt right while I sang it, and I knew I hadn’t done anything egregiously wrong on the piano, then it was a true performance. 
And that’s what I wanted to capture: a private, intimate, unedited concert between you and me, listener. A voice, a piano and even the environmental sounds around us -- piano noises, my foot keeping time on the carpet, smacking my lips accidentally, mispronouncing a word.  
Not a perfect performance. Not a “definitive” recording, all tricked out with strings, drums, horns and production. A real performance. How the song felt on this day at this time. 
When you put headphones on, it will feel like you’re sitting on that bench, the sound of the piano brilliantly in your face, hearing exactly what I hear when I play and sing alone. Oh, the concerts I have given that no one will ever hear! (I don’t know how to rehearse and not mean it. If I’m singing a song, I’m singing the song.) 
 WHAT’S NEXT?
Mastering. That’ll cost about a thousand bucks, so I’ve put up the Bonus Round Emporium* to help defray costs.  
I had forgotten about mastering when contemplating the original budget, which is stupid. Mastering is what brings the sound up to a professional level. It’s at this level that we will make sure it sounds exactly as I’ve described.  
 *If you purchase something, I'll send you a free advance mp3 as a thank you gift. 

WHEN WILL IT BE RELEASED? AND HOW?
It should be only a few more weeks. After the mastering is done, I will upload it to Tunecore, which will distribute it worldwide to every download and streaming site in the world. I intend to make these songs available in every format, whether free or paid. I’ll probably upload some rudimentary youtube videos, maybe with just the logo of the album. 

YOU DON’T HAVE A RECORD LABEL?
No record label would want me. These songs will never get radio play alongside Katy Perry. I’m too old. And if they did, I’m not sure what they would provide. In the old days, labels did the marketing and distribution. Today, distribution is as easy as signing up for an account.
Also, from my time at National Academy of Songwriters, I’ve seen record label contracts. No thank you.
Marketing? Most people ignore ads. The only real marketing is one friend telling another about a song they love. So, if you like the music, you will tell others. That’s the only marketing that means anything in this connected world. 

CAN I GET A HARD CD, AS OPPOSED TO A DOWNLOAD?
Amazon will manufacture the CD, if you order it from them. I did not plan to manufacture any because that’s expensive and, also, I have no place in this small apartment to store even one box of CDs, much less 1000. 

WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU AFTER THIS?
What’s next is my 60th birthday, which we'll celebrate at the big concert on October 27th at The Metropolitan Room in New York. (My actual birthday is the 4th, but this being SteveFest60, the celebrations will go all year long, you understand.)
Also, another album. In fact, we’ll make it a trilogy. Two more albums to come! But first, let’s get this one up and available. When I began this journey, none of these web stores were available. And I didn’t realize, back then, that I could make a record without all the bells and whistles.
Maybe on the next one, I’ll get a few more musicians and we’ll make it sound like a living room concert. I would like that.

Friday, September 06, 2013

Bonus Round Emporium Is Now Open.


Featuring the brilliant "Tales from the Bonus Round" logo of artist Peter Grundy, not only will you find beautiful items to purchase, such as mugs, t-shirts and cards, but you'll be helping me pay off my recording studio bill and helping to spread the word about the new album, which will be released in about a month or so. Bonus Round Emporium.


Longtime readers know that it was the sound of the piano that brought me back to life in 1995, writing the songs that became The Last Session. So, when Peter created this piano graphic, based on my appearance at the World Domination Summit 2013, I was stunned by its meaningful simplicity and beauty and I knew I had to co-opt it for the cover image on Tales from the Bonus Round.

Look at this gorgeous mug.

And several people requested these cards:


First thing I did, after setting up the store was order a t-shirt:


The fabric is thick and ultra-high quality, just like before. I still have an old Bonus Round t-shirt from over 10 years ago that we sold through Cafepress and it almost looks brand new.

So, please, if you would, at least look at the items for sale, and help me pay off the bill for this album. No, I didn't spend a lot, but there are always a few unexpected costs that come along.

GO TO STORE.

Monday, September 02, 2013

That Weird Space Ship Looking Thing At The End of the Block.


This is the first pic I took. 
It was being created on the top of an abandoned car dealership, which, according to the signs on the sides of the building, is supposed to become a big shopping mall. But it's been empty ever since the cars moved out. So, I thought, "Hey, maybe this is the grand opening!"


Now you can see them building a double platform.

This is a full shot so you can see what a scene this is.
Directly behind (above) the "space ship" is the Jacob Javits Center.
To the left where the buses are lined up is the Lincoln Tunnel.
Behind that is the Hudson River. On the other side, New Jersey.
The Javits Center recently planted grass on its roof.




Somewhere along in here, on the timeline, Jim figured it out. He'd seen some ads for a new game show called The Million Second Quiz" with Ryan Seacrest on NBC. Can you see what they're constructing?




Yes! An hour glass.


The other night they were lighting up the sky with all these spotlights. You can also go online and play the game to get qualified to be a contestant. I think part of the deal is that whoever is playing, you have to live in this hourglass for 11 days. 

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Manhattan Photo of the Day: The Grove at Lincoln Center.

The grove at Lincoln Center. Photo credit: Steve Schalchlin
This is a totally unretouched photo I took yesterday at Lincoln Center. As many times as I've been there, I never noticed this little grove of trees. When I looked through the lens and saw how the sun was washing out the edges, it just mesmerized me.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Health Update: The Exercise (surprise) Is Causing Miracles.

I've been exercising, each day, more and more. Yesterday, I did a very long run (for me), almost two miles. Then, later, went back and did another two miles. For real runners, this isn't much. But for me, it's a lot.

The strange thing is that I didn't need insulin for either lunch or dinner. My metabolism was at such a high level, it disposed of the sugars all by itself, I guess. And it didn't hurt that I am eating low carb meals, while supplementing with extra whey protein.

My blood tests reflected all this good news, too. The virus is still undetectable in my blood. My t-cell count is up over 500 (which is way below normal, but great for me).

Also, my A1c dipped below 6.0 to 5.9, which was great cause for celebration at Dr. Tony's.

So, the training continues under Cat Steinbeck's watchful eye.


A Stunning Letter from Texas and Harvey.

My friend, Brenda Bateman , down in Texas wrote this after hours on a horse in the flood, freezing, saving animals and humans. This is an i...