Author: Stepto

So there was this show…

It’s been a couple of weeks and I think I have washed out the adrenaline and “I’m not worthiness” from my show at The Triple Door.

Apparently I should make a note here that it was a huge success.

I didn’t really know what to expect. It was Emerald City Comic Con weekend of course and my voice was already wrecked because of panels and whatnot. But I had a good crowd, and an amazing cast of showmates. I simply cannot thank Marian Call, Molly Lewis, Seth Boyer, and Joel Watson enough for making the night simply magical both for the audience and for me as a performer.

I think I’ve mined fully the extent of “coma humor”, and in sifting through the audio of the show I can’t wait to cut this together into a concert CD for you.

But what this post really is about is for those of you who might have missed the show, I thought I would put in the second part of the reading I did. True, you don’t have Seth Boyer’s guitar music to accompany as you read, but I bet you can find some.


Just Let Me Finish This Level, Part 2

Michael was my room mate once I got moved out of the ICU. He was a very nice man, African American, about 15 years older than me. We commiserated over our stay, compared food menu items, and in general he was a nice enough person to have to share close quarters with for several weeks. The interesting thing about Michael was, he was missing half his skull.

He’d fallen off the roof of a house and suffered a pretty severe brain injury. To reduce swelling that might cause a stroke, they removed a large part of his skull and froze it to be reinserted later while the brain healed. In the mean time Michael had to wear a helmet and try not to fall down. Ever. At all.

What I want to know is who was the first person to come up with this treatment?

“Dr. He’s fallen off a roof and hit his head on concrete.”

“What do you think we should do?”

“well, he’s non-responsive and looks like he’s totally done for.”

“huh. Anything we could do to save him?”

“Fuck if I know”

“meh screw it. Let’s remove his skull and freeze it for later and see if that helps.”

Which leads me to the second part of what bothers me here.

Somewhere, in a hospital fridge, was Michael’s skull. It terrified me because I imagined it just wrapped in tinfoil inside a Tupperware container with a sticker that said “Michael’s Skull do not take” like when you have to put your lunch in the office fridge.

Later on they gave me the pass key to the kitchen so that I could get my own juice and stuff and I was convinced I would see it behind the ice cream. “Michaels skull 04/15” like you label the leftover baked ziti.

My physical situation was interesting to say the least.

I was still weak, connected to two different IV stands, and had an enormous tube installed in my lung to drain any excess fluid.  Even if I wanted to get out of bed it would require another person and a five minute procedure to unhook me. I remember laying there thinking to myself, ok. This isn’t good at all. I can’t get comfortable to sleep. But I hopefully won’t be here long. All things being equal, I’ve felt worse. Michael was in it for the long haul, he had two more months to go in the hospital. After one day, I wanted out. Immediately.

Everything about a hospital is designed for a set of singular purposes: to either beep at you, stick you, or remain ominously silent until it’s out of whatever thing it’s giving you then suddenly go off like the self destruct klaxon on the Nostromo in Alien.

I did discover an interesting fact. If you are ever wondering where the United States stores its strategic reserve of lemon jello, it is evenly distributed throughout all of the hospitals of the Country. When the Russians come to take the country in a Red Dawn type scenario fear not, we can survive on pectin based citrus snacks for decades. I’m more than a bit mystified that Prunes and jello are staple items of every hospital in the country. It’s as if the Jello consortium and Big Prune cornered the early food contracts in a late 1800’s style trust.

If all this sounds disjointed, it’s because I want you to understand that it was. In every way. Everything about a hospital is a surreal experience. It’s cold. People are always moving about. Shades or curtains are pulled but nothing really blocks out the light. You don’t want to be there, you can’t leave until either you will yourself to achieve certain goals by following all the rules, or your body heals to allow you to.

After I woke up I was moved to the resting ICU portion, where other patients where. My first few nights were spent still in the haze of the drugs. I was fed intravenously and yes, I had the full meal deal catheter experience which, in this context, despite what the Internet would have you believe, is not a euphemism. There was a device that in another dimension could be designed for pleasure inserted in one place in my body, and another device in a place that was truly never meant to be an entry point for anything EVER. That’s right, I’m talking about the peehole.

The hardest part of the initial adjustment of being in the hospital post coma was not the weakness or the drugged out feeling or insomnia or knowing I nearly died. The worst part was that I was on laxatives and diuretics and my body was constantly automatically flushing out without any control on my part. Imagine the mental anti-training of peeing and shitting your pants constantly, all day, all through uncomfortable and sometimes painful devices.

Oh by the way everyone done eating right? Ok? We’re ok? Ok.

After a day they decided Scotty down in my engineering bay had restored full sphincter power. By the way, imagine that in “William Shatner in the heat of battle” voice. “Scotty do we have sphincter power?”

So yay the catheters are going to come out! But the thing about hospitals is, they tell you that this thing you hate is going away and you get all happy but then there’s a question of process.

“Turn to your side and cough when I say,” said the nurse.

If anyone ever says this to you, pain is about to ensue. This isn’t the standard hernia check. I’m lying on my side with my gown up so she can fully access the catheters to remove them. The first one wasn’t a big deal. The second one however. Well. Imagine, if you have one, the head of your penis making this noise: POP. (wait for audience reaction)



And her tactic for this was “turn on your side and cough when I say.” This is bullshit. This is the greatest lie told since “we’re pregnant”. This is a falsehood so insidious as to beggar belief. I coughed, she pulled, something went POP and I to this day hesitate now before I cough.

The cough does nothing. The cough is simply to make you feel like you are part of the process. I have news for all you catheter technicians out there. WE ARE ALREADY PART OF THE PROCESS. KNOCK US THE FUCK OUT THEN REMOVE THE CATHETER.

It hurt so bad I almost asked for the removed catheter apparatus so I could name it, file it on my tax returns as a dependent and watch it grow into a productive member of society.

The next few days were a whirlwind of emotions. I wanted a slice of amazing pizza and a coke and my iPad. When I say I wanted these things I mean to say I wanted them more than I have ever wanted anything in my entire life. I was told I could not be on the Internet. The time I spent in the hospital was the longest time I have spent off the Internet since it was called The Internet. I had to wait to eat solid food. I could not sleep. I was stuck for blood draws every 8 hours. I had a pic line to my heart and the tube in my side and two IV’s which made lying comfortably impossible. Doctors were apologetic but firm. Nurses were apologetic but firm. My family was apologetic but firm. Life was apologetic but firm. My anger was apologetic but firm.

This wasn’t fair. I had given up alcohol. I was eating healthy. I had gone through a painful divorce, moved to another country, gotten laid off. But things had turned around. I thought I had reached a level of civility with my ex. I loved my new job working with amazing people. Then I died? I just walked into a hotel and now this? And no one knows exactly how it happened. I might need a liver transplant? I will spend weeks here? This was a whimpering end. This isn’t how I go out, this wasn’t the plan. Fuck this. Fuck jello. Fuck prunes. Double fuck cathethers. Fuck everything. Fuck it all I don’t want to be here if it’s going to be like this. I just don’t.

Ok happy thoughts.

You know one good thing about the hospital?  Peeing in bed. OH MY GOD GUYS. Now to be clear I have a penis. This is a more “external” urine elimination system than the alternative and I say god bless it. They give you this container like an angled thermos, and you just, pee in bed. In that. If there was one thing I would like to have brought home from that experience it’s the waking up in the middle of sleeping needing to pee, wrapped up in my warm blankets, and just reaching over and grabbing my little pee buddy container and ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Through all of my initial anger and rejection at the state I found myself in, I should mention the doctors and staff, were wonderful. With the exception of Doom Von He’s Already Dead the neurologist.

Now, the whole point of being in the hospital for this extended amount of time was to figure out not what happened to me, but why and how I bounced back. Brain death is not something we have a lot of insight into. For all the ER drama in Hollywood of a character going limp and a heart monitor flatlining, where the doctor solemnly looks at a clock to mark the time then covers the person with a sheet, that person is still there.

Barring massive physical trauma to someone, we don’t so much die like an off switch as we do slowly fade out over a couple of minutes as the brain cells are starved of oxygen. And we spent three weeks stabilizing me, measuring improvement, and trying to see how it could be prevented in the future.

It was decided I should have a procedure done known as a TIPS in which a small shunt would be installed in my liver to prevent future fluid buildup. It’s a minor invasive procedure and takes about an hour. After all the fear of not dying and the emotional ride of the hospital, I actually found I wasn’t near as scared of this because it was billed to me as an essential step in getting out.

I was prepped and taken down to the operating room waiting area. I was told I would be under conscious sedation so bring some music to distract me. Being off the Internet I was not fully versed in the overall mechanics of the procedure but the surgeon came in to talk to me about it.

“Now,” he said, “I’m required by law to tell you that there’s roughly a one in 100 chance you could die on the table. We’re going in through your jugular vein and patients who expire usually bleed out or were already too sick for the procedure to work.”

He must have noticed that my hands clenched on the gurney’s metal arm rests were now actually bending the metal because he then said, “But don’t worry. You look good and your vitals are great. The one in a 100 thing is actually true of just about any time we have to go inside the body. But I do a lot of these and it’s not a big deal.”

At least, I think he said that, I didn’t really pay attention because I was trying to figure out how to use my lung tube as a kind of garrote to choke him out then make a run for it.

But then I was off and they wheeled me into the operating room. This is by far the coolest room I have even been in. All pure white with a little stainless steel and glass. It looked like the pod bay of the Discovery. I was floored by just how cool it was. They pulled me into the center of the room and began hooking sensor leads all over my body while I did my best to remain calm. Being a nerd I asked lots of questions about the anesthetic and the head technician asked what music I would be listening to.

“Beatles, Abbey Road,” I replied.

“Oh that ought to play nice with the colors and things you’re going to see.” He said.

WHAT? I was gonna be trippin’? Shit man I would have brought some Floyd or phillip glass up in this shit if I had known that.

The doctor dropped by again and checked the surgery site on my neck, feeling around for my vein. “Oh wow. You have a great jugular. We’ll have this done in no time.” So, ladies. I’m just sayin. Great jugular.

They finished connecting the leads, when suddenly a huge paper-thin 80 inch TV descended from the ceiling on an articulating arm. They positioned it right over my body, turned it on, and suddenly all my vitals and information started star trekking across the screen. I watched it in wonder for a second then declared, loudly, “THIS ROOM. IS BITCHIN”

After the surgery it was mostly a matter of rebuilding body strength and making sure the procedure took.  Each day I had to do a couple of figure eight rotations around the hospital wing. As I became stronger I started to feel a little more confident, a little more capable.

To take these walks with my chest tube I had to decouple from all the IV’s and carry a fluid container around like a briefcase. I looked like a bad borg cosplay.

One morning I turned a corner just as a hospital visitor turned the opposite one and for a moment we were walking side by side. I didn’t notice her at first as I was just in the zone doing my walking thing but she was an older woman and significantly overweight. Unintentionally I began to pull ahead of her. Oh no, she not was having any of that. She was not going to have some gimpy sick patient outrace her, a mere visitor to this place.

I noticed she upped her speed, so I upped mine. Soon it was a full on race. This was going to be my proof to myself that I was better. That I could win! In my mind we raced neck and neck down the hall, Chariot’s of Fire playing in the background. In reality it looked a lot like two people doing this.

But I won. And just two days later got the clearance to go home.

There’s so much more I could tell you. I had to spend time with psychologists going over my mental capacity to do a transplant. The fact my salt allotment for each day was treated like a credit card balance and I treated it like a broke college student treats a credit card. My first day back on the Internet which I was limited to bawling my eyes out ten minutes at a time from the love and support.

I stand before you, so much more to say, but now extra special because I’m .001% metal now thanks to my shunt. The twist in my M. Night story is that I made it, with no brain damage, through something that no one thought I would. My super power is suddenly and without reason fall into a coma at will. Useful during torture or to escape certain situations:

“Do you know how fast you were going sir?”

I view what happened to me with humor but humble. I’m getting that chance to finish the level before bed.

I have no idea what the future will bring, and the debt I owe to those of you who enjoy my work or supported me during this is immeasurable. There but for the grace of Morgan Freeman playing God in a movie went I, and emerged changed and not.

Was there any wisdom gained from it? We’ll see in a little bit.

There is American Exceptionalism. We’re the Exception to Running a Modern Country Well.

There *is* American Exceptionalism. It’s that we intentionally confuse social welfare with totalitarianism. We confuse economic models with "more" or "less" individual freedom. This belief is actually not the case. Our freedom lies in our ability to speak our minds, limitations on the government to intrude on our homes or compel us to incriminate ourselves, providing a non-violent means of revolution, etc.

What has resulted from our economic model is the situation we have today, no matter who is in office Americans work more for less "life" than pretty much any modern country. Furthermore, we stubbornly resist any idea that has been implemented elsewhere (say, Europe) before we thought of it as being "European". Except for describing a vacation location, the word "European" is pejorative.

I’m an incredibly lucky person. I was born into a place on Earth where, as a white male, I could enjoy "The American Dream" at the lowest difficulty level needed to obtain it.

But today that same demographic doesn’t have the same option. And it’s not being taken away by increasing minority populations or affirmative action or illegal immigration. It’s being taken away by student loan debt, a housing market viewed as a profit center, a health industry that is so institutionalized against change it is actually incented to treat disease for money rather than cure it, corporate taxes that have so many loopholes the effective rate is zero which deprives the government of revenue, politicians that have to worry about re-election more than governing, and finally, a system that feeds direct control of our well being, infrastructure, defense, drug approval, rights, and all the machinations of government into a tiny fraction of the population who gamed the system then used it to buy and sell the politicians they need to achieve their goals.

Their goals. Not our goals. Not society’s goals. Not the country’s goals. It’s hard for the lowest difficulty people, so imagine everyone else.

I’ve left out a bunch. The challenges of sex and race, our privatized prison system and militarized police. Our need to build weapons we don’t need to fight wars we should have thought twice about before getting into.

This article really resonated with me and I urge everyone, conservative and liberal to read it. It’s not anti-conservative or anti-patriotic or anti-liberal to suggest someone is doing something better. It doesn’t much affect our power as a nation state to implement some of these ideas.

We used to be a country that took on big social changes or projects. The Civil War. An income tax. The railroads. The highway system. Social Security. Medicare and Medicaid. Federal oversight of safety of everything from cars to food to drugs. Landing on the moon. Rovers on Mars. The space shuttle.

I don’t expect anyone to wholesale change their minds over one article, and there are loads of challenges and caveats to some of what I said above. But when solving these problems the American Way is to let the perfect be the enemy of the good, then work to undo as much of the good as we can because either it wasn’t perfect or it’s a "non-american" idea.

It’s time we looked around, and realized we’re not some lone beacon on a hill that no one else must ever live without. Because we’re feeding our own people, our values, and the very future of the country into the fire that lights that beacon. And it’s not necessary.

Announcing Stepto and Friends LIVE at the Triple Door Seattle

I’m crazy excited to announce my very first headliner show at The Triple Door in Seattle April 10, 2016: “Stepto and Friends: Just Let Me Finish This Level.”

As many of you know I had a health scare over the summer when I fell into a coma. Thankfully I recovered and that recovery is going well. While in the hospital I had the chance to reflect on a lot of things, note some unique aspects of being in a bed for three weeks with a “NO INTERNET” rule in effect, and tied together some lessons learned. All of this has combined into this show, which is a mixture of readings, stand up comedy, and music. Molly Lewis and Marian Call will each be providing musical sets, and the Seth Boyer will join me as musical accompaniment to a dramedic (it’s a word!*) reading of my experiences.

It takes place on the final night of Emerald City Comic Con, 7:30pm April 10th (doors open at 6:00PM) at one of my favorite venues in all of Seattle, The Triple Door. I’m excited, nervous, excited, scared, and excited to bring this unique show to you and I hope you all buy tickets and join me there.

Or I swear I will coma again.


*It’s not a word.

Top 5 Tips for Nice Guys: #4 Will SHOCK You!

(Please note this article is written in a CIS/Heteronormative voice. Probably everything in this article can be considered applicable to a variety of different types of interaction on the sexual fluidity/Relationship diversity scale, however at our core we are still coming to grips with the very concept of gender and whether it’s an outdated way to look at things. From that perspective I felt the topics addressed here would be best spoken in that voice and isn’t meant to be dismissive of the entire spectrum. Secondly, this is a touchy subject. I accept I might be COMPLETELY WRONG in the positions I take here. Keep the discussion lively but civil. Remember, I used to ban people for a living.)

So you’re a nice guy. I know, it sucks. You’ve had an encounter with someone that you felt was far more meaningful than they did. You didn’t even think of it sexually even; you just want someone to love. You abhor the very concept of sexual violence, disrespect, or sexism. You go out of your way when interacting with potential partners to really listen and internalize what is important to them. You’re not a prowler or a creeper, and don’t believe anyone owes you anything. Sex would be nice, but you’re ok with that not being an immediate outcome.

You really are a nice guy. You feel like crap however because that doesn’t seem to be getting you anywhere.

First off, congratulations! I’m proud of you. A lot of people would argue that you shouldn’t be congratulated or get a pat on the back for being a decent person, that the very concept of you being a truly nice guy doesn’t deserve to be pointed out because it should be the default state.


We’re all human. We all fall short of who we want to be sometimes. We should pat people on the back (metaphorically!) if only to remind ourselves to be better than our lowest nature. So… deep breath. Take some solace in the fact that more often than not you are great partner material.

But you still feel like crap. With that in mind, here are some tips that might help you navigate the current thinking and behavior going on in the psychosexual realm that drives a lot of our reconciliation of emotional needs and physical ones (or lack thereof if applicable). And by tips I mean “useful bits of context” not “strategies for getting her into bed.”

#1. Assess the situation.

I’ll say it again, the current environment for discourse on this type of subject sucks for you. However, you have to appreciate how we got here. Generations of abuse, assault, and murder have left a huge swath of our species either afraid to talk or silenced by societal role enforcement. Women in particular are speaking out on these topics precisely because their voice is needed to affect change. Believe me, I have tons of opinions about human sexual and relationship dynamics and I choose not to talk about them accept in certain small audience of friends because now is the time to shut up and listen. No one wants to hear right now about how tough it is to be a truly nice guy in this environment. I know, again that sucks. But sometimes shutting up and absorbing all the viewpoints, even if not applicable to you, is the right thing to do. Everyone deserves an opinion, but not every opinion deserves to have an audience 100% of the time.

No. Sometimes you have to just drop it. Because you have to…

#2: Cope with being privileged.

Being told you’re privileged is ultimately a dismissal. It devalues you as a person and stereotypes you into a societal bucket because no matter what you do that bucket is deeper than any method you could use to climb out of it. Everything you say or do can be dismissed with “You’re privileged and can’t see past it.”

It’s also, unfortunately for your emotions, probably true.

If you’re a white straight male especially: congratulations you are privileged in a large segment of Western society! No, you didn’t ask for it. No, you don’t feel comfortable with it. Yes, you can fight to end it. But you have to cope with the fact you have both hands in the Palmolive and are soaking in it. I’ve even seen guys say out loud, “If I’d known it was going to be this tortuous I would not have taken the choice to be privileged if offered!” or “It’s been tough for me too!”

Stop that. The very fact you are saying things like that reflects your privilege because…

#3: You have to accept the alternative is far worse.

Aw, you’re feeling some sadness over a girl you love who likes men you think are horrible for her? That’s adorable. Try growing up with brown skin in most sections of the United States. Or being female just about anywhere in the world. Sorry but it’s time for some tough love. Your sadness is a valid feeling. What you do with it is what should be your focus. The temporary sadness over a relationship situation will fade, constant fear of sexual assault or harassment or getting shot just walking around whether you’re 8 or 80 doesn’t fade. You have to learn to walk away at some level emotionally and put things into a greater context.

Of course you should tell this person how you feel. And, should it not work out (despite psychosexual programming from Hollywood movies and top 10 pop hits where the persistent suitor usually prevails) you have to take a deep breath and go invest your time and effort with someone else. Yes, friendship is less a life than you hoped with this person. But to hinge everything that makes them valuable as an individual on romantic emotions devalues them as much as being bucketed as “privileged” makes you feel when you read about it. If you can’t get over that simple fact then…

#4: Go attach live jumper cables to your nipples.


#5: You have to learn the hardest fact: The universe and people in particular don’t by default owe you anything, up to and including having the precise relationship you want with precisely the individual you have chosen.

So you have a deep emotional connection with someone that isn’t reciprocated at the same level, and you just want this person to understand how deeply you feel despite their choice and want to tell them. Your mind continually bombards you with the phrase you most want to say “You don’t understand! I’m a nice guy!” When what you are really saying is “I don’t understand! Why aren’t you connecting at the same level?”

You have to drop it. Seeking relationships is like random atoms colliding. I do not believe in any way in the “soul mate” theory, and judging from society’s propensity to have second, or third marriages (five if you are a Republican politician legislating morality SHOTSFIRED) most people actually don’t either. But our songs and books and movies and our culture celebrate the idea such that it makes it hard to let go when the other person just isn’t that into you. If you have to say to someone “But I’m a nice guy…” you have to ask yourself why you are communicating that. To reiterate, what you are saying is “You’re wrong! Rethink your choice!” You’re devaluing one of the most important decisions someone can make: Who they choose to be with. Worse, you are doing it in a way that countless men have coopted as a tactic to emotionally punish a woman for not having sex with him, even if you individually didn’t expect that as the immediate outcome.


I’m 43 and divorced. By no means do I look at this list as a “I figured it out! Just do what I do!” list. But each of these tips (#4 is bracing!) at some level actually can make things better because they allow you to see your immediate gut emotions in a far larger context, which allows you use them to further your own happiness.

I would not want to be with someone I had to badger for months or years to be with me. I’ve certainly had that experience. You always end up sabotaging yourself by forcing a situation because you believe that all relationships (if the person could just see the real you) would yield your soul mate. I’ve failed at that and most likely will do so again. You will too!

It’s how you deal with it that matters.

You’re a nice guy. Again, I congratulate you. But as the old storytelling adage goes, “Show. Don’t Tell.” (why is it called Storytelling then and not Storyshowing…I digress)

Women have a hard enough time dealing with the guys who aren’t nice. I would imagine that as a general group they don’t need another vector by which to have to worry about the choices they should feel free to make.

Meet Lucien Idaho!

Now that I’ve been settled and have a routine I’ve missed having more than one dog. Basil Hayden of course has been my rock the past year, but I can tell when I am away he gets lonely in the house. So for a while I have been thinking of getting him a playmate once everything sort of settled down. Rochelle and I when married had a system where every other dog we got was a rescue/adoption. I love pure bred Golden Retrievers and our breeder has been wonderful, but there are so many dogs out there that need rescuing. When we took in Aspen Blue he was a special needs rescue and is thriving now but I miss him terribly. I’ve been sponsoring some special needs Mini-Aussies in the PacNW with donations here and there, with an eye that I might take in another one for Basil’s playmate and my companion. Miniature Australian Shepherds are very smart like their larger bred cousins and are an interesting mix with the temperament of something like a Golden Retriever. I knew that if I didn’t rescue a Golden, I would most likely want a Mini-Aussie. So it was with some surprise this week when during a routine trip to the Vet for Basil I discovered a Red Merle Mini-Aussie who needed a forever home. May I present, Lucien Idaho!


After some initial meet and greet to get him comfortable (pictured above he’s in his old home and was relaxed with me around after some initial “Dances with Wolves” style bribing with lamb treats) I brought him home for a short stay and I will bring him home permanently next weekend. He’s got all the typical Mini-Aussie traits, no health issues/needs other than a mild Coloboma which happens sometimes in this breed but most importantly:






Attention human. It’s outside playtime.

Lucien is a one year old who has bounced around a couple of homes, his last owner called him Trip because when he herds you he does it with all his weight. But I think he’s young enough to learn a new name. It’s within the realm of possibility that his coloboma might lead to blindness later on but I’m having him all checked out at my vet a week from Monday, and that would not affect my decision to take him in. So say hello to my new boy and Basil’s new brother!

(edit: The name Lucien Idaho was chosen because: Lucien as an homage to The Sandman and his unusual eye structure and how it will perceive light, and Idaho in homage to Duncan Idaho from Dune and most shepherd breeds are farm/herd animals.I give my dogs two names. Shut up it’s not weird. I said shut up!)