Volume 3 Book 5 Part 15 of
Living in the Bonus Round
(The Big Voice Chronicles)

[ Book 3-4 ] -- [ Pt 1 ] [ Pt 2 ] [ Pt 3 ] [ Pt 4 ]
[ Pt 5 ] [ Pt 6 ] [ Pt 7 ] [ Pt 8 ] [ Pt 9 ] [ Pt 10 ]
[ Pt 11 ] [ Pt 12 ] [ Pt 13 ] [ Pt 14 ] [ Pt 15 ]
July 15-24, 2003.
Playwright Workshop.
Last week the nurse practitioner in my doctor's office tells me that my triglycerides measured 2000. (Triglycerides are part of "bad cholesterol." Normal is 150. 200 is high. 400 is "heart attack." Mine are 2000.) This means, if the test isn't somehow screwed up, that my blood is probably white from pure fat and thick as sludge. The nurse practitioner who called me sounded like she was in a panic for us to do something about it.

Now, four days earlier I had had the same test done and the result was 600. The reason we did the second test was because we were going to start me on a new drug, Tricor, for the triglycerides. I'm already on Lipitor. (The pharmacist who dispensed the new drug warned me to watch for arm and leg pains taking both.)

I have not been eating an excessively fatty diet, although I'll admit to two super Tacos from Jack In The Box the week before. Then I remembered that I eat sugar free cookies. I looked at the bag and sure enough, there's some fat. I've become "fat detective," reading the labels and pulling off chicken skins.


"Eat grains," she told me. But of course, "grains" are carbohydrates which raise my blood sugar.

Double oy.

"And exercise!" she demanded.

So, now I've turned my loft into a little exercise den. This morning I lifted my 20 pound hand weights and did a ton of push-ups. I would go out and run but it's too microwavey here for that. Maybe I'll run up and down our staircase and drive Jimmy crazy.

I found a bunch of chicken breasts on sale at Ralph's yesterday. A $14 pack for $4 so I filled the freezer with them. That and the sliced turkey and the veggies plus my oatmeal, metamucil and non-fat cottage cheese pretty much define my whole eating existence right now.

The outside observer watching and listening to Jim Brochu, my partner in crime, would never be able to see it. Jimmy is too cool. Jimmy projects authority. At the GLAAD Media Awards several years ago, after giving his thank you speech for TLS, he was approached afterwards by someone asking him if he'd consider running for public office. There is a personal power in his voice? Demeanor? Age? Experience? that just captures people. I've seen it time and time again.

But, see, I know the real Jim Brochu.

In a casual dinner setting with conversation floating and people telling stories, Jim Brochu is the absolute best. He has the best stories. The best delivery. The funniest punchlines. But that's casual. He's even very good at talkbacks after shows. So, it's remarkable to me that he actually is petrified to be in front of people speaking off the cuff when the subject gets serious or he has to go on the record.

But that's why we're a good partnership. I have absolutely no problem speaking off the cuff -- and in fact, I'm more comfortable doing that than I am using prepared remarks.

My friend Sarah from Columbus loves to see the palm trees.

The setting this week was a Lutheran Church somewhere in San Fernando Valley. A playwrighting class/workshop run by a very attractive playwright named Lisa Soland. She had just read an interview with us in the current edition of the Dramatist's Guild official quarterly. It's a terrific interview because the writer, Dan Berkowitz, had seen and obviously loved The Big Voice in LA during its initial "award-winning" run. She remembered having met Jimmy at the El Portal Theatre so she invited him to come and speak to the class.

I felt it was only appropriate, given the fact that in The Big Voice we demonstrate how church and theatre are, if not the same thing, then very much alike, that this class would be taking place in a church with all the religious iconography appearing in all the photos.

Holy Holy Holy.

I didn't get every face in the class because some of the pictures were too out of focus, so I apologize in advance for the missing faces. I did the back of this one guy's head in the above photo. He had seen TLS in its initial NY run off-off-Broadway.

Anyway, we all sat down at the table together, me with my camera to record the faces. I especially wanted to see Jimmy try to field questions about how to write. It took about one question before he looked at me helplessly and said, "Maybe Steve can say something..." LOL

I explained to the class observations I had made about his methodology. How he starts with a legal pad and starts writing lines that might come out of a character's mouth. Then he thinks of what I called "tentpole" jokes, but are actually the punchlines that will mark the emotional highs and lows, the plotpoints, of the play.

He has a natural instinct for what's funny and he has a natural instinct for bringing people to a deeply emotional moment, then getting them out of it with a laugh. When asked something more specific, his response usually was a shrug followed by, "I just do it. I sit down and let the characters speak. For me it's like taking dictation."

So who knows if someone can be taught. I just hope our little trip to their class helped them. The one thing I emphasized was how necessary it was for a person entering the arts to assume control of their careers and to make opportunities happen. To not wait around for someone to "discover" you.

Speaking of which, this week we put together 50 packages of reviews and other promotional items of The Big Voice and sent them out to theatres all over the country. I'm also going to sing at MCC-LA church this coming Sunday morning for both services as a special promotion for the show the following weekend at The Lex.

It'll be fun to do the show again. In fact, aside from all the doctor visits and blood tests and medication stuff I've been doing, I've also been trying to write out the score for The Big Voice. I wrote Bob Stillman and told him how hard it is for me and he said, "Everyone hates writing out the score. Just do it."

Somehow that made me feel better.

July 25-29, 2003.
The Laundry Room Incident.
I think I either scared or offended someone yesterday in the laundry room. I didn't mean to, but.. well, I'll let you decide.

It all started with the new TV show Queer Eye For The Straight Guy. I was hooked from the very first episode. In fact, the show made me cry, but that's a different story. The problem is that while I'm sure there are straight boys who need a good make-over, I know at least one gay one who does. Where do I sign up?

I decided to start with the laundry today. I knew it was time to do the laundry because the only underwear left were the really old BVDs from when I was 16 or something. Everything was piled everywhere. The closet overflowing. It was like the opening scenes on Queer Eye!

Jimmy's tasks for the day were "out and about" tasks, getting the car checked out, mailing bills and other stuff...

I got down to the laundry room -- two machines, two dryers -- and noticed that left over in one of the washing machines was a load of wet laundry. Since there are only two machines (and I had six loads all separated) I took the wet laundry out of the machine and placed it on one of the dryers, thinking if they come before my clothes are ready, I'll just use the one dryer for awhile.

But they didn't come. I put my first loads in the dryers and then my second loads into the washers when suddenly the owner of the wet laundry appeared. I don't know her name. She and her husband and two children moved into the apartment beneath us a short time ago. What I do know is that they are some type of orthodox Jewish -- he wears a yamulka and she wears a babushka.

When she appeared at the laundry room door, kids in hand -- they appeared to be about 2 and 4, a boy and a girl -- I turned to her and said I'd be happy to put hers in the dryer as soon as mine came out of that one.

She looked at me in horror, like I was going throw rocks at her. She started to shrink backwards, eyes wide open in absolute terror.

She shook her head, "No... I'm... be here all day. No." And she ran off taking the kids to the play area out back.

I chased after her, "It's no big deal. I can put them in. What setting do you want?"

She just kept running, crouching her head, "No... no... no speak English."

Good lord, I thought. An international incident in the laundry room!

Later on, as I was moving more laundry up and down, I ran into them again, the little flock of three. (And they were adorable, by the way, all three of them). She said, somewhat loudly (angrily? Scaredly?), "No touch clothes-es! No touch clothes-es!"

Then I panicked. Is this some kind of religious thing? I know a lot of these more fundamentalist old world religions have really different ideas about men and women. Then Bev suggested that she's a woman in a foreign country with two small kids all alone. Of course she's scared!

You know, I'm such a pussycat, I forget I'm 6 foot 2 inches tall. And Jimmy is 6' 5"! We're two big guys. Of course I'm going to intimidate her -- or rather she'll feel intimidated probably. We can't even talk.

I just hope the husband doesn't think I tried to attack his wife or something.

There was at least one good thing I got out of the laundry incident. A picture of a very happy cat on top of a pile of hot clothes.

Thurber the cat
Thurber loves hot laundry.

Steinbeck the cat
Steinbeck hugs Jimmy's foot

[ Book 3-4 ] -- [ Pt 1 ] [ Pt 2 ] [ Pt 3 ] [ Pt 4 ]
[ Pt 5 ] [ Pt 6 ] [ Pt 7 ] [ Pt 8 ] [ Pt 9 ] [ Pt 10 ]
[ Pt 11 ] [ Pt 12 ] [ Pt 13 ] [ Pt 14 ] [ Pt 15 ]
© 1996-2003 by Steve Schalchlin.
You have permission to print from this diary and distribute for use in support groups, schools, or to just give to a friend. You do not have permission to sell it.