Uncommon Ground
Volume 4 Book 3 of
Living in the Bonus Round
(Part 6)

Neal Austin.

[ Book 4-2 ] --  [ 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 ] -- [ Book 4-4 ]

March 18 - 19, 2005.
More Cruise Diary.
Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2005.

4:00 am. Nightclub
I'm beginning to discover that this ship is filled with world class musicians the company flies in to do concerts for the world cruisers. (Feeling like a slacker, I have, for the past few days, been practicing my fingering exercises.)

Their skills are breathtaking and remarkable. Bernie is this Australian pop pianist. He uses huge big orchestral score, Liberace-style arrangements that allow him to show off his remarkable classically trained playing. The big arrangement will begin and then suddenly, in the middle of the piece, he begins playing alone, as if sweeping the notes off the piano into a bushel below.

Bernie was in here the other morning warming up.

One of my new songs, "Dead Inside," features a piano riff. It's very simple and the whole song works around that riff. I must teach it to him and see if he'll improvise something.

Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2005
Wednesday on Thursday Island.
Neal Austin Nigel Olsen O'Connell MacDonald was brilliantly funny the other night. I felt so relieved that, after 20 years, he had developed into a really funny act. The first thing he did, after entering in his tuxedo was announce that it was hot in the room. So he pulled the whole thing off in one swift move until he was standing there in a brightly colored two piece shirt and shorts cabana boy outfit.

Here's how he got his name: His real name is Neal O'Connell but when he made personal appearances, they kept introducing him as Neal MACDonald, so he decided to change his stage name to something easier that they couldn't get wrong and he chose "Neal Austin." But at his first gig as Neal Austin, the emcee got confused and said, "And now, ladies and gentlemen, NIGEL OLSEN!"

Of course, Neal made the mistake of telling us this story so from that point on we called him Nigel. And in this diary, I'm getting a huge kick out of calling him Neal Austin Nigel Olsen O'Connell MacDonald.

I plan to spend some more time with him today. We're pulling up to a place called Thursday Island, which we've been told, isn't much of tourist spot but was an island named by Captain Bligh, late of the famous Mutiny on the Bounty story. Apparently, he was running out of names as they drifted around the south Pacific. They found this island on, you guessed it, Thursday.

The sun breaking through the morning clouds
as we approach the cluster of little islands.

Passing little islandettes.

Lush greenery covers these islands as we get closer.

We arrive at Thursday Island.

Thursday Island's beautiful bay.

It's somewhat rustic, still. Not a big tourist destination.

The buildings are colonial and have been there for years.

Skippy! Australian corn flakes with a kangaroo.

A small Episcopal Church from the 19th century.

All the stained glass had nautical themes.

Inside was a memorial plaque to an ocean disaster
that took hundreds of lives. Dated 1890.

More stained glass.

Suddenly, a downpour!
We raced for shelter.

"Nigel" sings an ode to the rain.

[ Book 4-2 ] --  [ 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 ] -- [ Book 4-4 ]
© 1996-2005 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.