Uncommon Ground
Volume 4 Book 3 of
Living in the Bonus Round
(Part 8)

Jim Brochu with Tommy Tune.
Jim Brochu with Tommy Tune.

[ 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 ]

April 1-7, 2005.
Eye Doctor & Brunei.
We're getting more and more excited about our four performances coming up in a couple of weeks. We had a great meeting this morning with Anthony, our director, and our new (possible) producers whose names I will devulge if/when we sign a deal --  but they love Big Voice and we have a theatre in New York which has expressed strong interest in having us come in next October. Once again, this is one of those things that I can't discuss too much in the diary because it's tentative and all that, but things are definitely happening again.

On April 6th, we went down to the Avery Schreiber Theatre and had a run-through of Big Voice for them. Funny, we haven't done this in months but it all came back. The new producers gave us some great notes which we eagerly incorporated into the staging. I really look forward to next week's performances.

Meanwhile, I went to see my eye doctor. I had scheduled my eye surgery to fix my googly eye without having consulted him first, so he gave me a further rundown of what to expect. He said they can roll the eyeball down but that doesn't mean I'll have totally perfect vision. In fact, he said that since the Grave's Disease has "infected" two sets of eyes muscles, I'll never have perfect vision again. But I might be able to get a built-in prism rather than using the plastic frenels I'm using now, which wear out and are expensive.

He said, "The drug companies simply aren't interested in creating any drugs to treat what you have in your eye because so few people get this disease that it's not financially feasible. So you're stuck."

Me and Barbara Bush.

Meanwhile, back on board the ship..

Sunday February 27 2005
7:00 AM

I asked Jim if the letter about clothing infractures applied to me and he said that he didn't think it did. In fact, it was the musicians setting up in the small cafe. I was very relieved to hear this. I like wearing my cargo shorts and I especially love setting up my computer in the breakfast buffet area.

Yesterday, I watched the rehearsals for the big Oscar ceremony. It was delicious in its own "let's get the kids together and put on a party" way with all the actors, dancers and staff pitching in. Later, at the actual show, a technical problem held up the curtain for a half hour and what could have been a really silly night of fun turned almost as tedious as the real Oscar ceremony.

But without the celebrities. But it was pretty hysterical watching passengers go up there and "accept" an Oscar pretending to be the actual star.

I'm sitting in the nightclub right now. It's 7:26 AM and I have given the piano up to a pianist, another passenger. He plays Mozart. His timing is occasionally off and sometimes he hits a few wrong notes, but he doesn't stop. He plows through and suddenly he's flying, making his way through some of the really difficult parts without any difficulty.

It's nice.

A really great coincidence happened today. Christopher, the night cleaner, came in to see what I was up to with the video. I had shot (on video) him and Cleo the other night doing a fight scene and had interviewed him, trying to get him to do some improv. But he totally became petrified by the camera and it ended with him literally clutching his heart. Which meant, of course, that it's great for the movie because he's absolutely real.

I hadn't seen him since the night I shot his footage so this morning, when he came in asking me for more information, apologizing all the way for disturbing me -- as they are so well trained to do -- I put the headphones on him and let him see Edit 2 where I've labeled his scene as "Captured Footage" that happens after the Celebrity Pirates try to board us to steal "her" -- our elusive star -- away.

(Do you get the idea that this movie plot is out of control? Celebrity Pirates??)

He was asking me a million questions about the process of editing video in Power Director, which is the program I'm using, an inexpensive program editing program (which, 10 years ago, was not even possible for laptops and would have cost tens of thousands of dollars).

In demonstrating what I had done previously, I played him a Christmas video I edited together this past season.

"HEY!" he yelled. "THAT'S ME!"

He was looking at the opening image of the Christmas video. It was a shot I had taken on our last trip and totally loved, but I didn't know, at the time who it was, just a Filipino worker in a teal colored work outfit smiling and holding up a peace sign, his hand covered in a clear plastic glove:


I shouted, "You're my model! You are the face of this cruise line! I didn't even know who you were, but I made you the opening shot of my video."

He was so delighted. He had this huge grin on his face and he kept patting me on the shoulder.

Cleo was standing nearby grinning also. He's lot more shy than Christopher. I told him that it was also my music beneath all that. They said they wanted to go back to the Philippines and make me famous!

Aside from Jim Brochu, we have a big celebrity on board, the Broadway star and musical comedy genius Tommy Tune (who would be doing a show along with the Manhattan Rhythm Kings). We were lucky to be invited to his Birthday Party.

Tommy Tune celebrates his birthday.
Tommy Tune celebrates his birthday.

The dancers onboard dancing a tribute to Tommy's work.

Marc Kressler of Manhattan Rhythm Kings.
Marc Kressler of Manhattan Rhythm Kings.
Co-creator of off-Broadway's "Altar Boyz,"
which opened to raves while we were onboard.

Our next stop was Brunei. Now, I had always heard about the Sultan of Brunei, that he was the "richest man in the world," but I didn't really know anything about Brunei. It's a tiny little Sultanate on the island of Borneo surrounded by Indonesia.

Next thing you know we were on a tour bus touring Brunei. The woman wearing the Muslim scarf who was our tour guide could NOT say ENOUGH nice things about the Sultan and his family as we motored past all the palaces -- "This is his sister's palace, this is his brother's palace." We found out he "gives" his people jobs and free health care and he builds giant mosques for them to worship in.

The air was hot and sticky. And then it proceeded to rain, which put our video camera out of commission for awhile. On the bus, the guide passed out pictures of the Crown Prince of Brunei and his bride.

Our first stop was a museum devoted to the Sultan's armory, family and palaces. We weren't allowed to take pictures way inside the building but they let us take some in the big lobby.

This chariot greeted us as we entered.
This chariot greeted us as we entered.

The back of the chariot.
The back of the chariot.

Swords & shields.
Swords & shields.

Why Jim is my favorite model.

After the museum, the rain stopped and we were taken to the big mosque which was built by the current Sultan's father.

Mosque in Brunei.
Mosque in Brunei.

We were allowed to go in as long as we took off our shoes, didn't step on the prayer rugs or took pictures inside. I took off my shoes, I avoided the prayer rugs, but I did take a photo.

I never follow the rules. Don't you know that by now?

After we visited this mosque, we were taken to a big fancy hotel, just built by the current Sultan, the Empire Hotel. And just inside the big lobby, as we pulled up, we saw a bunch of chairs all lined up in a row, with a throne-looking chair right in the middle. All these men in these cute uniforms were sitting in a row as if waiting for someone.

And sure enough...

The Crown Prince of Brunei.
The Crown Prince of Brunei.

Now, in that last picture, see the guy on the left wearing the green army uniform with the gold braiding and medals? I had a little incident with him.

See, it was long after this picture was taken. We were out front looking for our bus when this man is standing there. I think he's the doorman. Green outfit, lot of braids. So, I ask him where the bus is. He more or less grimaces at me and tries to shoo me away, but I'm relentless. "Look, dude, I'm just looking for the bus!"

Suddenly a huge limo pulls up, a bunch of soldiers get out. They salute him and escort him into the limo.

Turns out he was the Chief of Staff of the Brunei army. It's a wonder they didn't haul me off and shoot me.

Oh, and by the way, the video camera was working again so now our little shipboard movie features a guest appearance by the Crown Prince of Brunei.

[ 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.
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