Wednesday, December 31, 2008

It's like my own version of the movie BEACHES...

I guess friendships are hard to define when you're nine-years old. You don't really have problems to share, or anything too deep to talk about. You probably can't even talk about your favorite books or movies. Friendship back then was sitting at the same lunch table and, if you're really lucky, living near each other so you can ride the school bus together.

My best friend up to the third grade lived in Battery Park, and I lived near the South Street, we weren't on the same school bus...but we somehow did manage to form a best friendship (whatever that is in the third grade!)

She moved to California at the end of the third grade. (I still was the day of our spring recital. We were practicing on stage, and she was just watching us.

I moved myself that summer, and for a long time, we wrote letters back-and-forth.

(I honestly miss writing letters.)

We sadly stopped after a while, and it's been a good ten years since we corresponded.

However, thanks to social networking sites, I tracked-down my first best friend...just before she was planning her first trip to New York City since she left.

It made me laugh to think that now we're exchanging text messages...when we used to write each other actual letters, with stamps and all.

My coworkers were confused when I told them I was taking a break yesterday because my best friend from the third grade was waiting for me outside.

"Is this a third grade reuniont?"
"So you haven't seen her since?"

Over cups of coffee instead of cartons of chocolate milk, we caught-up...and seventeen years is a lot to catch-up on.

And when we were walking together, I noticed that we were almost the same exact height...whenever we had to line-up for size order in class, we were always next to each other...that hasn't changed!

I have a very strong feeling that had we remained in the same state all these years, we would have remained the best of friends.

Diana Rissetto

And the official song of 2009 will be...

..."Hold On" by Wilson Phillips.

(Yes, I know, that song came out in 1990.)

(Sidenote...I used to love this movie Chynna Phillips was in which was always aired on The Disney Channel. It was called Goodbye, Miss Fourth of July and was about this Greek girl who comes to America, faces prejudices, dies and is posthumously named the town's Miss Fourth of July. Sadly, this movie is not available on DVD, since I'm pretty sure I'm the only one who has ever seen it.)

I remember shortly after I began working at Barnes and Noble, I said something about the "Self-Help Section" to Danny, a young fellow who started working there the same week I did and would go on to become one of my closest Barnes and Noble comrades.

Danny paused and said, "This SONG is the Self-Help Section."

"Hold On" was playing.

Six months after that day, the song came on just as Danny and I were talking in the Humor Section.

Me: Remember when this song came on, and you said, "This SONG is the Self-Help section?"

Danny: I do remember that!

Me: Wow, that was six months ago!

Danny: Six months. That's, like, 1/40th of our lives...

(I know that sounds impressive, but but was easy to do that math...we were about 20 years old.)

That song always brings back memories of my early days at the bookstore...but I never listened to the words before until it came on the radio last night.

I realized I like the lyrics of this song a lot, and might just have to listen to it when times get tough. I tend to get upset too easily, and worry too much about things I can't change.

You just have to keep going-on...because you never know when something wonderful is going to happen.

"Hold On"

I know this pain
Why do lock yourself up in these chains?
No one can change your life except for you
Don't ever let anyone step all over you
Just open your heart and your mind
Is it really fair to feel this way inside?

Some day somebody's gonna make you want to
Turn around and say goodbye
Until then baby are you going to let them
Hold you down and make you cry
Don't you know?
Don't you know things can change
Things'll go your way
If you hold on for one more day
Can you hold on for one more day
Things'll go your way
Hold on for one more day

You could sustain
Or are you comfortable with the pain?
You've got no one to blame for your unhappiness
You got yourself into your own mess
Lettin' your worries pass you by
Don't you think it's worth your time
To change your mind?


I know that there is pain
But you hold on for one more day and
Break free the chains
Yeah I know that there is pain
But you hold on for one more day and you
Break free, break from the chains

Some day somebody's gonna make you want to
Turn around and say goodbye
Until then baby are you going to let them
Hold you down and make you cry
Don't you know?
Don't you know things can change
Things'll go your way
If you hold on for one more day yeah
If you hold on

Don't you know things can change
Things'll go your way
If you hold on for one more day,
If you hold on
Can you hold on
Hold on baby
Won't you tell me now
Hold on for one more day 'Cause
It's gonna go your way

Don't you know things can change
Things'll go your way
If you hold on for one more day
Can't you change it this time

Make up your mind
Hold on
Hold on

Diana Rissetto

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Interfering with Fate...

The other night, I went out to dinner with an old friend from high school.

She was one of my close friends back then, but we lost touch over the years.

Thanks to the magic of Facebook, we were able to reconnect and met-up when she came home for the holidays.

We got onto the topic of, "Everybody around us is getting married and it's kinda freaky and we're not even meeting any guys of interest! What's up with that!"

(For the record, I have absolutely no interest in getting married any time soon. I am not in any hurry, and the next time anybody makes a comment hinting that I should be panicking about it, I'm going to throw their shoes in a lake.)

I asked her if she tried online dating at all.

(I am notoriously shy...yes, I am...nobody ever believes me when I say it seemed as good a way as any to meet people...especially since I always have felt that I express myself best in writing.)

She shook her head and said, "I feel like when it's right, the universe will provide...and I don't want to interfere with that."

Okay, now, I have always been one to look for "signs."

When I was a senior in high school, I went to a psychic at my post-prom party (and I am sure they have nothing but the most authentic psychics at post-prom parties!) and he told me that I was just months away from meeting "the one", and that when I DID meet "the one", he'd have light hair and double initials.

I took that to heart, and when I met a guy with light hair and double initals months later...I was certain I didn't have to search anymore.

(Even though I was only about nineteen at that point, and hadn't looked much.)

I thought that was my sign! I thought that was it!

(This seems a good a time as any to mention this story... I always loved this story, ever since I read it in a Chicken Soup for the Soul book years ago...I think it was Chicken Soup for the Old-Fashioned Hopeless Romantics that own West Highland White Terriers Soul.
I thought about my friend's comment for a while after and wondered just how true it was. This was one of those stories that genuinely made me believe in the "universe providing." Yes, I AM disappointed that the story isn't true...but at the same time, they DID find each other, even if it wasn't by way of the "apple story" and are still together after all these years. The hopeless romantic in me still finds something incredibly inspiring about this couple regardless...)

Maybe we shouldn't interfere with fate...but where do you draw the line?

How come internet dating is considered interfering with fate, but nobody says that to girls who go out and find their next boyfriends in bars? (Something I am, pretty sure, I would never do.)

We could hardly sit on the sidewalk and wait for a guy to fall-out of the sky.

I have a feeling that fate always finds a way.

Maybe your soulmate is out there on an online dating site, but joined on a whim and you're the only person he even contacted.

Maybe you're both at the same bar because you were dragged by your separate friends.

Maybe you start talking on the train one day because it's the one day you didn't have time to buy a newspaper.

And to quote Amy in the 1994 film version of Little Women, "You don't need scores of only need one...if he's the right one!"

And maybe we all should just not worry at all and trust the universe...

Diana Rissetto

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Holiday Clip of the Day...

December 26th is my least favorite day of the year.

Christmas goes away much too abruptly.

For a whole month, Lifetime plays nothing but Falalala Lifetime movies...and then on December 26th, it's back to regular-old "Give Me Back My Baby" films. (Not that I have anything against "Give Me Back My Baby" films.)

106.7 Light FM has twenty-four hours of Christmas songs from Thanksgiving until Christmas night...and then, just like that, we're back to "Sometimes When We Touch" and "Love Lifts Us Up."

Even that streetcorner saxophone player...he's been playing "Auld Lang Syne" and "Joy to the World" for a month...the day after Christmas? He's back to playing "My Way."

It's sad.

I think they should slowly wean us off of Christmas movies and music, and then not stop completely until, oh, say...February.

I was probably the only kid in the world who used to feel sad on Christmas Eve because I knew that Christmas would soon be over.

Here's a song from one of my favorites ever...Christmas Eve on Sesame seems a very appropriate way to end my "Holiday Clip of the Day" series.

Keep Christmas with you...

Diana Rissetto

When Christmas time is over and presents put away, don't be sad
There'll be so much to treasure about this Christmas day and the fun we've had
So may happy feelings to celebrate with you
And, oh, the good times hurry by so fast,
But even when it's over there's something you can do to make Christmas last

Keep Christmas with you
All through the year,
When Christmas is over,
You can keep it near.
Think of this Christmas day
When Christmas is far away.

Keep Christmas with you
All through the year,
When Christmas is over,
Save some Christmas cheer.
These precious moments,
Hold them very dear
And keep Christmas with you
All through the year.

Christmas means the spirit of giving
Peace and joy to you,
The goodness of loving,
The gladness of living;
These are Christmas too.

So, keep Christmas with you
All through the year,
When Christmas is over,
Save some Christmas cheer.
These precious moments,
Hold them very dear
And keep Christmas with you
All through the year.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Holiday Clip of the Day...

So many versions of A Christmas little time.

I remember my father telling me that when we were little and my parents would wrap our gifts and put them out on Christmas Eve, he'd always watch A Christmas Carol on PBS. I'm pretty sure it was the superold A Christmas Carol...the one with the actress who played Lassie's mother (June Lockhart...but it's more fun to call her the actress who played Lassie's mother...)as one of Bob Crachit's daughters.

My father was one to stick with the classics...and I am sure I take after him in that respect, but I also love to give other things a chance.

And I have learned that there are just not enough days in December to fit in all these different A Christmas Carols.

Today, I watched the George C. Scott 1984 version. I think it is my favorite one (at the moment.) Now, that guy was one brilliant actor.

If you're looking for A Christmas Carol it all its purest, most authentic glory...I believe the George C. one is it.

HOWEVER...that doesn't mean that Scrooges which totally march to the tune of their own (little) drummer (boy) aren't just as darn entertaining.

Here's Susan Lucci as Ebbie...

Tori Spelling in A Carol Christmas...(okay, no offense to anybody...but this movie makes Ebbie look like Citizen Kane.)

Vanessa Williams in A Diva's Christmas Carol...

Michael Caine in A Muppet Christmas Carol!!!!

(Kermit's little nephew Robin was absolutely BRILLIANT as Tiny Tim in this one. Seriously just astounding!)

Patrick Stewart as Scrooge...

Mr. Magoo!!!!

The Disney Gang (I had this in picture book form...the book played music when you opened it. It eventually fell apart.)

Merry Christmas to all...and to all a good night...

(I am watching It's a Wonderful Life right now...Harry is about to say, "To my big brother George...the richest man in town..." and Diana is about to break down in tears like she has every single one of the thousands of times she has watched this movie over the years.)

I truly love this time of year...

Diana Rissetto

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Holiday Clip of the Day...

When I was a kid, I was certain that life truly began at thirteen.

When I turned thirteen, I would be allowed to wander the streets of New York City all by myself.

I would have a very sensitive and sweet boyfriend who would pick me up for dates in a horse-drawn carriage.

I'd attend school dances where the guys would wear tuxedos.

I would be trusted with taking care of infant twins all by myself.

I blame The Baby-Sitters Club. From the second grade to the fifth, I read every single BSC book that came-out. (And I'm pretty sure that, at its peak, about sixteen books came-out a month. I recently learned that a lot of those books were ghostwritten. A little part of me died when I learned that...damn you, Ann M. Martin!!!!!)

Those girls from Stoneybrook knew how to live!

I am pretty sure they set-up an entire generation of girls up for a lifetime of disappointment. They had more exciting lives at thirteen than I do now in my (cough) mid-to-late-twenties. I am yet to be stranded on an island, and have never won the lotto, either.

True fans of the BSC would tell you that the Baby-Sitters Club television series didn't quite capture the magic of the books.

However, that didn't stop us from watching it.

Here's the series' holiday special.

It is on YouTube in its entirety.


Diana Rissetto

Monday, December 22, 2008

Holiday Clip of the Day...

Not long ago, I ran into Peter Cincotti...the supertalented, superadorable singer-musician-songwriter Peter a concert, and all I could think to discuss with him was how the world would be a better place if he would only record a holiday album.

(Whatever, if somebody said that to me, I'd take it as the ultimate compliment.)

He kept hitting me in the arm and laughing.

(He was either superamused or superuncomfortable. Perhaps a bit of both.)

However, since then, although he has not recorded a Christmas album, he DID perform at the NYSE tree lighting, AND today he sent this YouTube message out to all of his fans...

Now, I find it very hard to believe that, for the briefest second, "Wow, that lunatic who kept rambling to me about how much I need to do a Christmas CD will probably like this..." didn't cross Peter's mind!

And a very Merry Christmas to you, too, Peter.

Diana Rissetto

Holiday Clip of the Day...

Cheyenne Jackson has been eligible for the Tony Award for Leading Actor in a Musical twice...and twice he was sadly overlooked.

I was especially disappointed and surprised when he wasn't nominated for his portrayal of the clueless but lovable Sonny Malone in last year's surprise hit, Xanadu.

I knew I was going to be en route to work when the nominations came-out, and had a couple of people on call to ring me and let me know.

My train broke down, and I received many cellphone calls and text messages saying, "Sorry about your boy."

I was sorry about my boy...and he is "my boy", and I'm tremendously proud and excited for him no matter what turns his career takes and decisions he makes...but, not going to lie...a Tony nomination would have been fun for everybody.

(However, I think the fact that he was not nominated made his knock-out performance at the Tony Awards all the more fantastic.

It was like he was saying, "Well...I know you didn't put me in the running for a Tony...but, goshdarnit, LOOK WHAT I CAN DO!")

Regardless of his lack of Tony nominations, I think Cheyenne Jackson shows-off some PHENOMENAL acting skills in this year's [title of show] show Christmas episode.

Honestly, his portrayal as the crazed attempted murderer is worthy of a Tony!

And an Oscar!

And an Emmy!

Look at the crazy in that guy's eyes!

I think we've found the lead of Ted Bundy: The Musical!

And anybody who knows Cheyenne knows that he's one of the nicest guys in the watching him try to kill an innocent puppet like Mindy is all the more disturbing and impressive!

Bravo, Sir!!!!!!

(Might I add that I love everybody involved with [title of show]. I think Hunter Bell and I would totally be best friends...sorry, Kate Winslet...given the chance.)

Here is the HILARIOUS webisode...with cameos by Laura Benanti, Stephen Pasquale, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Celia Keenan-Bolger and, of course, Cheyenne Jackson.

Diana Rissetto

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Holiday Clip of the Day...

I WAS going to wait until Christmas Eve or Christmas Day to discuss It's a Wonderful Life, but since I saw it on the big screen last night, it's on my mind and I'd like to talk about it now.

Don't get me wrong, I truly love this movie. I have watched it about a dozen times a December for as long as I can remember. I know it by heart, and laugh and cry every single time I see it. I've gone to see it onstage, in musical and straight play versions, and my family even used to have a minature porcelain Bedford Falls village.

(And I don't trust people who have never seen it and/or don't like it.)

However, when I saw it at the movie theatre last night, one part jumped-out at me that I never really noticed before.

You know when Joseph is running down what happened to everybody during World War II?

Harry... Harry Bailey topped them all. A Navy flier, he shot down fifteen planes.

George later realzes that had he never been born, he never would have been able to have saved his brother from drowning when they were kids, and Harry never would have been able to save all the men on his transport.


I started to think about all the guys on those fifteen planes.

Had George never been born, Harry wouldn't have been around to shoot down all those planes, and all the guys on those planes would have survived.

(Didn't they have wonderful lives as well?)

It kind of reminded me of this...
Frank Sinatra is teaching those kids about tolerance, and does so by telling them that the "Japs" were bombed by an American plane flown by Jewish-American and Christian-Americans.

(Gosh, he was so cute.)

I am going to start working on a movie about those fifteen planes.

I'll call it What if George Bailey had Never Been Born and Wasn't Able to Save His Brother and His Brother Was Never Able to Shoot Down Those Fifteen Planes

I leave you with the most romantic scene from any movie ever...and all they had to do was kiss.

Where HAVE all the George Baileys gone?

Diana Rissetto

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Holiday Clip of the Day...

One of the multitudes of wonderful things about being in New YorK City is that you NEVER know just what random TV star from old TV shows you'll pass in the street.

Just this past year, I have been stopped by Donny Osmond while dog-walking.

He commented on how beautiful the dog was (who wasn't my personal dog, but my office's I allowed to accept a compliment like that for a dog that isn't mine? Same with people saying my niece is adorable when they see her picture on my desk...I don't feel right saying, "Thank you"), and asked me what breed she was.

(Guess he has Puppy Love. Haha. Sorry.)

I replied, "No idea. She is a mutt."

By the time he walked away, I realized who he was. He and his teenage son darted across the street before the light changed.

And Richard Thomas (who I'll always be fond of, since I enjoyed him on reruns of The Waltons because his character was an aspiring writer!) held a door open for me and said, "Are you coming?"

I then started humming the theme from The Waltons, and he kicked me in the shin and ran away.

(No, he didn't. He's actually very nice.)

I see him all the time, and we're on "Hello" basis now.

(And this is out of place to talk about here, since it was one of my most exciting celebrity sightings of all-time, but last year I saw Jonathan Crombie of the Anne of Green Gables miniseries, in Duane Reade. Now, Gilbert Blythe has been my romantic ideal since I was about seven.)

A couple of days ago, I passed Barry Williams (Greg Brady of Brady Bunch fame!)in the street.

We've had horrible weather this past week, and he was struggling with an umbrella, like we all were.

Yes, even Greg Brady gets disheveled in sleet.

The first thing I thought when I saw Barry Williams in the street, after, "Hey, I think that's Barry Williams with that umbrella over there!" was, "I haven't watched A Very Brady Christmas yet! Thanks for reminding me of that, Barry Williams!"

A Very Brady Christmas is a staple in my must-watch Christmas movies.

The Brady Kids all come home for Christmas...and they all have secrets!

And then Mr. Brady gets called to work and a building collapses on him.

Of course, the proper thing to do when your dad/husband/grandpa/father-in-law is trapped under a building is to start singing "O Come All Ye Faithful."

Diana Rissetto

Monday, December 15, 2008

Holiday Clip of the Day...

There are certain things I can't watch, because they make me think about my father and cry all over the place.

Bert and Ernie singing "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" is one of them.

I was absolutely a Sesame Street child, and I have always said that if I am ever a celebrity, the first guest appearance I will make on anything will be Sesame Street.

(Ben Stiller won me over for life when he was dancing around dressed as a giant chunk of cheese singing "The People in Your Neighborhood.")

The Muppets and the holidays go together quite well.

In Christmas Eve on Sesame Street, Big Bird wonders how Santa Claus can possibly get down that chimney...Cookie Monster tries to tell Santa Claus what to bring him for Christmas...and then there's Bert and Ernie's subplot.

(I still don't understand how old these Muppets are supposed to be. They go to school sometimes, but they also have their own apartment. Of course they can't afford Christmas presents...they don't have jobs and are paying rent. And Bert has a freaking pigeon in the apartment.)

Bert trades in his paperclips to buy Ernie a soapdish for his rubber ducky.

(Did anybody else want to collect paperclips because of Bert? My dad used to bring me home paperclips from work, and I thought they were the greatest thing in the world. He would give me them little AT&T magnetic holder and I would spend hours linking those things together.) Yeah...

Ernie sells his rubber ducky to buy Bert a cigar box for his paperclips.

That whole "Gift of the Magi" storyline never gets old.

By the end of the special, Mr. Hooper saves the day.

Mr. Hooper always saves the day.

Diana Rissetto

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sharing a (non-Christmas!) link...

Last year, I read the novel Those Who Save Us and was really taken with it.

I have always been fascinated with the World War II era (I think I can credit my Molly McIntyre doll and the television series Homefront for that one), and thought that I had read plenty of various Holocaust books and watched numerous films on the topic. Glancing over at my DVD shelf, I can spot The Pianist, Life is Beautiful, Swing Kids, the miniseries Holocaust, starring a very young Meryl Streep, and more than one version of The Diary of Anne Frank. (I also examined Anne Frank's sister, Margot, in the award-winning musical I collaborated on recently.)

However, this particular novel touched-upon something I never gave much thought to...the average German woman during World War II...women who just wanted to survive, and sometimes turned to extreme measures to keep themselves and their children alive and safe.

I shot the author, Jenna Blum, an email after I finished the book to thank her for making my commute more enjoyable for a few days, and she responded.

We're now, of course, Facebook friends.

Jenna posted this link today, and it made me laugh and admire her even more.

I really love the fact that a New York Times best-selling author can laugh at herself like this!\

It reminded me of something I did recently...sending a play I wrote to a young singer/composer that I would love to work with (his last name rhymes Manicotti...).

I haven't heard back from him yet, but I'm pretty sure that he is just waiting until he has finished writing all the songs for the musical we'll collaborate on together.

In fact, I bet I'll run into him on the subway soon.

I'll hear a young man behind me softly singing to himself as he crosses-out and rewrites...I'll turn around...we'll realize who the other is...then he'll hand me the sheet music, we'll start to sing, and soon the entire train will break-out into a big, rousing ensemble number.

Thank you, Jenna Blum, for this sensational book and this very amusing Alec Baldwin-related read.

I can only hope to one day be the subject of the blog of "rambling girl who has no idea what she should do with her life."

Diana Rissetto

Holiday Clip of the Day...

One day, this will stop being so funny...I don't know when that will happen...and I don't even know why I find it so funny. (My friend Matt responded to this comment with, "Because it has Cheyenne in it, and a little red puppet in a white dress hitting him and telling him to get outa here...")

I watched it last Christmas when it came-out, after eating nothing but Christmas cookies all day, and thought I was just giggling so much at it because I was punchy and on a sugar high.

But, oh no...this thing never stops being hilarious to me.

Here is the [title of show] holiday special from last year, which debuted the puppet Mindy and her infamous catch phrase, "Get outttttttttttttttta here, Cheyenne Jackson!"

I truly loved [title of show] when it came to Broadway, and am sad, although I understand, why it didn't exactly catch-on and last very long. I think the creators are on to something very, very special, and I hope they stick around and keep putting-out more stuff for me to laugh at.

"It's Christmas time at [title of show]..."

Diana Rissetto

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Holiday Clip of the Day...

I love my sappy and sentimental holiday commercials.

Hallmark has released many gems over the years.

I remember several years ago, I was watching a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie with my mother. (It was Back When We Were Grown-ups, starring Blythe Danner and based on the novel by Anne Tyler, who is one of my favorite authors.)

Each commercial break brought a couple of more Hallmark advertisements, and by the end of the movie, I was on the couch absolutely weeping.

My mother said, "This movie is not sad!"

Me: It's not the movie! It's all these emotional commercials!

(The holidays are, by default, a very weepy time of year for me.)

Sadly, YouTube does not have many of my favorites uploaded. (What a shame!)

Which means I will have to narrate my favorites.

Couple (actually the couple from Father of the Bride) is going through the wife's old Christmas ornaments. The wife is quizzing the husband.

Husband: This is from your first dance recital...and this is...the one your grandmother gave you when you were seven...and this one...

(Wife gets all choked-up)

Husband: This is the one that always makes you cry. (He reaches out and hugs her.)

Old man is telling his grandchildren about his first Hannukah in America. He came over on the boat alone, and made friends with a little boy and his family. They spent the holiday together.

Grandpa: And then we got to America...and I never heard from him again...

Somebody hands grandpa a card.

Grandpa reads it to himself and gets choked-up.

Child: What does it say, Grandpa?

Grandpa: It says I'm going to have to change the end of that story!

(Seriously, Hallmark...if you released a Best of Hallmark Commercials DVD, there would absolutely be an audience for it! I'd buy one! And so would...lots of other people...I am sure!)

Whatever, this time of year, I tend to cry over air freshener commercials.

There is another holiday commercial that has stood the test of time, and that I have seen on television just about every year of my life. (It was originally aired the year I was born, so that is actually quite true!)

Oh, Peter.

You've come home!

Diana Rissetto

Friday, December 12, 2008

Holiday Clip of the Day

93 years ago today, a baby was born in Hoboken, NJ and the doctor mistook him for dead. He put the baby aside and focused on saving the child's mother instead.

However, the boy's grandmother was nearby, grabbed the baby, and ran him under cold water.

The baby let-out a was Frank Sinatra's first song. There would never be anybody like him ever again...(even though the Harry Connicks and Peter Cincottis might make convincing arguments.)

Happy Birthday to the best that there ever was!

Since it is nearly-impossible to pick a favorite Frank Sinatra holiday song (although "Christmas Waltz" has always stuck-out a bit...), here are several. (currently the hold music on my cellphone) (I dare you not to cry at the last lines)

Diana Rissetto

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Holiday Clip of the Day...

Josh Groban is not Jewish.

I thought he was for some reason...(people are constantly mistaking me for being Jewish...I think it's the curly dark hair, which Josh Groban also happens to have...I am always told I look Jewish...I am not sure why...perhaps it's the small crucifix that is usually dangling around my neck that gives that impression?)

In fact, I was planning on starting this Holiday of the Day introduction with, "It's pretty funny that the most beautiful version of 'O Holy Night' (and Christmas songs don't get much holier than 'O Holy Night') ever recorded was done by a Jewish boy!"

Before I wrote that, I figured I'd research whether Josh was indeed Jewish...and he's not...he is actually Episcopalian.

...which means the fact that he has recorded "O Holy Night" isn't weird at all...

So...there goes my funny introduction...

Here's the most perfect human voice I have ever heard singing "Oh Holy Night" at the 2002 tree would be about another five years until Josh released his own Christmas album, which I think is blasphemy. (What kind of a world do we live in when Jessica Simpson gets a holiday album before Josh Groban? Seriously!)

Diana Rissetto

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Holiday Clip of the Day...

Just like Eloise, I was a city child.

One thing I will always feel a bit regretful about is that I will never be able to experience New York City as a tourist, for the very first time, during the holidays. It is something I have always taken for granted. When I was a kid, my family lived right near the South Street Seaport. There was a chorus that would stand in the shape of a tree and sing Christmas songs. The People Tree. (I am not sure if that was there official name...that's what we called them, at least.)

A couple of weeks ago, I went to see Harry Connick, Jr. on a Saturday evening and decided to roam the city for hours that day, observing all the typical touristy holiday attractions.

I always forget just how crowded the city gets this time of year...and then it takes me twenty minutes to walk one block, and it all comes back to me. However, I'm not these difficult times, it's really nice to know that people are still flocking to the greatest city in the world during this magical time of year and I love seeing how happy and excited little kids are over the Radio City Christmas Show.

I loved this song when it first came out, and it brought on a very special significance.

Come down to the city
Crowd around the big tree
All you strangers who know me
Bring your compassion
Your understanding
Lord, how we need it
On this New York City Christmas

If I was able to return to my childhood neighborhood without crying all over the place (as I tend to do), I would visit the People Tree myself...but, I won't be, so if you're in the area, go see it for me...and have a Merry New York City Christmas, wherever you are.

Here's Rob Thomas of Matchbox 20 on the Today Show several years ago...

Call on your angels
Come down to the city
Crowd around the big tree
All you strangers who know me
Bring your compassion
Your understanding
Lord, how we need it
On this New York City Christmas

Yeah I'm sending you a merry New York Christmas
and a prayer for peace on earth within our time
Hear the sidewalk angels echo halleluja
We understand more, now more than ever

So call on your angels
You're beaten and broken
It's time that we mended
So they don't fade with the season
Let our mercy be the gifts we lay
From Brooklyn and to Broadway
Celebrate each and every day
of this New York City Christmas

Yeah I'm sending you a merry New York Christmas
and a prayer for peace on earth within our time
Hear the sidewalk angels echo halleluja
We understand more, now more than ever
Merry New York Christmas

Call on your angels
Come down to the city
Let's Crowd around the big tree
All you strangers you know me
Bring your compassion
Bring your forgiveness
Lord how we need it
On this New York City Christmas

Yeah, I'm sending you a Merry New York Christmas
And a prayer for peace on Earth
It's not too late
Yeah the sidewalk angels echo hallelujah
We understand them
We understand them
Merry Christmas
Yes, a New York City Christmas
(Oh Christmas)

Diana Rissetto

Holiday Clip of the Day...

There will be two today, since I missed yesterday.

Here are Mandy Gonzalez and Christopher Jackson of In the Heights singing "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" at last year's tree lighting. (They get extra points for not singing "Feliz Navidad", like everyone would probably expect them to...)

Great rendition, with two wonderful young Broadway performers.

Diana Rissetto

Monday, December 8, 2008

Holiday Clip of the Day

Michael Landon is one of my idols.


I bought myself the Highway to Heaven DVDs for a Christmas gift to myself and spent a good chunk of yesterday watching them. (That show is pure sap at its best. A Holocaust survivor's son is shot by a Neo-Nazi, who is later shot, and then the Holocaust survivor has a heart attack and receives the heart of the Neo Nazi...a young blind girl falls in love with the neighborhood recluse, who has a deformed face...and then she gets her sight back...a man brings home the daughter he fathered while he was a soldier in Vietnam...



Michael Landon taught me that you can be a total sap and a terrible cornball and end-up beloved and touch the hearts of millions. Say what you will about the man, but he left quite a legacy...and, to think, he was only fifty-five years old when he died. We lost him way too early...there is so much else he could have created. I think he was a very special guy, and I'll always look-up to him as an actor and a writer.

I also quite love Little House on the Prairie. (While visiting my mom in Florida over Thanksgiving, I learned the Hallmark Channel shows it about four times a day. My mom commented, "You still like this show, don't you?" Yes...I do.)

Little House on the Prairie brought us numerous memorable Christmas moments.

Laura's little girl is kidnapped by a woman who just lost her own baby. Will they find her in time for Christmas?

The Ingalls and their assorted friends are trapped in the Little House on Christmas Eve...each take turns remembering their most special Christmas memories. Hester Sue recalls her childhood as a slave, and when she thought Santa Claus only cared about white children...Almanzo remembers when he learned that there truly WAS a Santa Claus...Mrs. Ingalls takes us back to the first Christmas with her stepfather, who gave her an ornament that still hangs on the tree years later...and Laura, of course, brings us to an actual flashback of their very first Christmas in the Little House...and when Mr. Edwards brought very special presents for the girls.

My gosh, I am tearing-up right now...

And then, there was the year when Laura sold her horse in order to buy Ma a stove for Christmas...while Pa was spending every last minute working on a saddle for Laura's horse...and Mary and Ma just happened to make Pa the same exact shirt!

Call it a Prairie Gift of the Magi.

I still think this show was wonderful...sweet...saccharine...maudlin (I know that word well, my 9th grade English teacher used to tell me my writing could be too maudlin at times) the same time?

The world needs more of that these days.

Diana Rissetto

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Holiday clip of the day...

I remember coming home at the end of the semester in college, after taking four essay tests in one day, and being extremely exhausted and punchy. I crashed on my mother's couch, while she made christmas cookies, and I watched Eloise at Christmastime.

And I couldn't stop laughing (especially when Eloise gets everyone in the elevator to sing Christmas songs wtih her.)

My mother looked over at me and said, "Wow, Diana...I never knew you had such a small mind!"

In the role of Bill the Waiter, Eloise's best friend and struggling actor, is Gavin Creel.

I first saw Gavin in Thoroughly Modern Millie about seven (yikes) years ago. I have said more than once that Gavin has the most beautiful male voice of our generation, plus, I'm pretty sure he couldn't be any cuter if he was an orphan with a limp.

(By the way, when Gavin was filming this movie, his role of Jimmy in Millie was covered by no other than Cheyenne Jackson! Broadway is a small town.)

This clip is absolutely delightful!!!!!

I want to dance on top of a piano with Gavin Creel in the plaza hotel at Christmas!

Some girls have all the luck!

Diana Rissetto

Friday, December 5, 2008

Holiday clip of the day...

It's been a great week for New York City tree lightings.

On Tuesday, my wonderful friend Cheyenne Jackson brought down the park (and the skating rink!) at the Bryant Park tree lighting and sang "Silent Night" and "Sleigh Ride".

On Wednesday, Harry Connick, Jr. performed at that other little tree lighting they do at Rockefeller Center.

And yesterday, Peter Cincotti sang (and, of course, played the piano in his usual fantastic way) at the New York Stock Exchange tree lighting.

I have said it before and I will say it again...if Peter Cincotti had his own holiday album, the world would be a better place.

The boy's got magic.

Diana Rissetto

No secret...

...but this time of year, I love my share of cheesy Lifetime and Family Channel holiday movies.

Love love love.

Apparently, there is somebody who loves cheesy Lifetime and Family Channel movies as much as I do (however, he's not nearly as pathetic as I am, since he gets paid to be in them...while I do not get paid to watch them. Maybe somewhere out there, there really is a job where I can get paid for crying over holiday sap all day.)

Steven Eckholdt.

You probably recognize him.

He is one of those guys that is in just about every movie and television show ever filmed.

I personally fondly remember him as the ill-fated Vietnam soldier Peter in the television mini-series adaptation Danielle Steel's Message from Nam...the character was a blond in the book. Steven,however, made it work. (I used to read a lot of Danielle Steel in junior high and high school. Maybe those books set me-up for a lifetime of disappointment.)

Steven also turns-up frequently in holiday movies on television.

Like Santa Who?

Santa Claus develops amnesia after accidentally falling out of his sleigh and only the innocence of a small child can save him. Meanwhile, Santa has to battle the disbelief of a newsman.

Steven plays the reporter who doesn't believe. I'm not giving away much, but by the end of the movie?

He believes!

(Because that plot has never been done before.)

And then there's Comfort and Joy...which I watched last night. Now, when it comes to TV movies, I think Nancy McKeon of Facts of Life fan knows how to pick 'em.

The life of Jane Berry was all materialist, until one Christmas Eve, she is involved in a car accident that changes her life forever. She wakes up to discover she is the mother of two, a wife and that her only job is in the house, besides her frequent volunteer work.

In this one, Steven is the husband of the woman who doesn't remember ever marrying him or having children.

The ending is pretty saccharine and freaking adorable. Jane gets out of her car after her accident, and sees the man she was married to in the dream sequence (or whatever you want to call it) and tells him, "I know who you are! You're Sam! I have always loved you! You have a green toothbrush!"

Sam isn't freaked out at ALL, and they go walking-out into the Christmas moonlight together.

And then there was Secret Santa...which I (gasp!) have never seen! (I know...I can't believe it, either.)

Newspaper reporter Rebecca Chandler, who feels she got no fair chance to prove her worth in her thee years career, looks forward to a Hawaian holiday with her fiancé Ryan, but instead of a ring he brings her- walking orders, he found better. So she accepts again to be the bachelor on duty in the Christmas season, and write the annual romantic non-news feel good-story, once more about the elusive Secret Santa in small-town Hamden, where the Christmas spirit it said to last all year. Bad luck follows her from Indianapolis: her car breaks down, she can only get lodgings in a home for the elderly without Internet, and nobody wants to help her unmask the secret Santa. Soon she guesses it must be the only rich philanthropist, but the popular Mr. John Martin Carter doesn't grant her an interview and isn't tricked either, in fact meets her at the worst repeatedly without her knowing him, until he arranges to be presented at the mayor's Christmas party, then invites her for dinner and proves a charming widower, yet denies being secret Santa, causing her boss to panic and explode. After more bad news and another red herring she is resigned to return defeated

Steven filmed this film, Our First Christmas, recently. I don't know if this one has been aired yet.

Christmas plans are destined to be ruined when two families come together

I obviously don't know Steven Eckholdt...but I think he's a kindred spirit.

Diana Rissetto

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Holiday Clip of the Day...

I'll post two this morning, since I slacked-off...

If you fast-forward to 17:00, you will see/hear Cheyenne Jackson singing "Silent Night", backed by a choir of children!

I was there, joined by my good friends Laura and Steve, and we were literally standing under the tree. We couldn't see a thing, but hearing Cheyenne's voice fill Bryant Park made me very proud!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Holiday Clip of the Day...

As promised, here is another one of my favorite holiday clips.

Harry Connick, Jr. is one of my all-time favorites. He is the first person I ever really became a fan of on my own.

And his Christmas music is magic!

Here's "When My Heart Finds Christmas".

Try not to look into this video too much. There are a lot of plotholes in it. Who are all these children? Elves? Orphans? What is wrong with that little girl that Harry picks-up? Is she unable to walk? Why do these kids wrapping up a chair and cheering when Harry opens it?

Just focus on the very lovely music, the cute little kids, and, of course, those very very lovely blue blue blue eyes.

Diana Rissetto

Saturday, November 29, 2008

I am one of those really annoying people that LOVE Christmas

I can't help it.


When I was a kid, I used to get really upset on Christmas Eve because I knew Christmas would be gone soon. I still feel that way...which is why I start with the Christmas music and movies in early November.

(And I have been known to pop-in It's a Wonderful Life in May if I needed my fix.)

For the month of December, I will be sharing my favorite holiday clips on here.

Today's is, tragically, the ONLY Christmas song that Peter Cincotti has recorded.

(He also sings "My Favorite Things", and I honestly still don't understand why that song shows-up on Christmas albums all the time. How is it a Christmas song? "When the bee stings"...that would most likely not happen in wintertime. Sure, there is a mention of snowflakes, but I still don't think it qualifies as a Christmas song.)

Peter Cincotti has the most beautiful, smooth, old-fashioned perfect "Christmas voice."

(I can't be the only person who notices that, can I?)

And yet he has never recorded a Christmas album.

I think that is horrible.

He has a song called "Cinderella Beautiful", which has a line, "You know I don't like Christmas, but thanks for the holiday card..."

I wonder if that is autobiographical, and the young Mr. Cincotti really doesn't like Christmas...and if that is the case, he will never record a Christmas album...and I will just have to accept that my Decembers will be Cincotti-less forever. (I truly think this kid is the most talented musician that our generation has produced. I would hate for every December to be Cincotti-less because his music is absolutely brilliant.)

However, here is a charming and delightful song called "My Favorite Time of Year". Special bonus: Peter banging on that piano. (I wish I knew how to play the piano. I think my crazy crooked pinkies killed that dream before it ever had a chance, though.)

Great song! Even though I have never danced in a nightclub on Christmas. Maybe I'll try it this year.


Friday, November 28, 2008

A review!

Here's a write-up of my New York City debut (my last play, as you might all remember, was a collaboration/musical staged in New Jersey.)

But this one was a solo project, a non-musical, and in New York City!

And I had to miss it.

Because I booked my trip to Florida for Thanksgiving months ago.

I was happy to read this review, though. Thank you, Melissa!

Monday night, after swinging by the NYC premiere of “Australia,” I headed down to the Gotham Comedy Club in Chelsea for the Hyperion Theater Project’s Fall One Act Festival.

My playwriting friend Diana headlined the series of vignettes with “The Bookstore,” a compelling, witty take on the passions and insecurities that go along with being a writer.

Inspired by Diana’s brief stint working for Barnes and Noble, “The Bookstore” introduces us to book clerk Matt (Nate Weisband) and first-time author Julianne (Lori Sommer). When no one shows up for Julianne’s signing, Matt tries to soften the blow of disappointment, offering to buy all 75 copies of her memoir.

Literary Aspirations: Matt (Nate Weisband) and Julianne (Lori Sommer) muse about the writing process in Diana Rissetto's "The Bookstore"

He distracts her with anecdotes about his worklife, from the old lady who calls the store weekly for personal advice to staffers recommending The Bible with a placard reading “Now a hit film!” when “The Passion of the Christ” came out – moments Diana experienced herself at Barnes & Noble.

Matt eventually reveals that he was once a writer with dreams of getting published, until his day job made him question whether he could ever join the ranks of legendary authors like C.S. Lewis.

Suddenly the roles are reversed, as Julianne becomes the cheerleader, encouraging Matt not to give up on his literary ambitions. Both Weisband and Sommer deliver heartfelt performances, beautifully directed by Nina Ashe.

“The Bookstore” does a great job of portraying with intelligence and honesty what it means to be a writer. With crisp dialogue and engaging story, Diana’s playwriting debut was a home run. I’m already looking forward to her next production.

Diana Rissetto

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Every so often, I watch an infomercial

It doesn't happen too often these days, since I've found more productive ways to spend my insomnia.

I still get sucked into these things, and admit to falling for a gimmick here and there... although I know that, deep down, it is kind of silly to buy a hair product just because Melissa Gilbert raves about it on an infomercial...(I mean, using the same hair product as Melissa Gilbert is the closest I will ever be to having Charles Ingalls for a dad!)

Melissa was pushing the product WEN...but I am here to talk about another product...The InStyler.

I learned something from watching five minutes of The Instyler infomercial.

I, and other people like me, should not be seen in public.


Because I have curly hair.

Apparently, curly hair is an absolutely hideous trait, and any hair with the slightest hint of a curl must be cured IMMEDIATELY.

Okay, take a look at this girl, Emerald.

First of all, her name is Emerald. Why on earth would her parents give her a name like that if they wanted her to conform and be like everybody else in the world?

I love how they list the problems with Emerald's hair..."big, frizzy, curly, long."

Now, first of all...she's a pretty girl, and her hair looks great. As for her hair being too "big, frizzy, curly, long"...I think the only negative word on that list is "frizzy", and that girl's hair? Not frizzy. In fact, I think her hair is quite straight and calm compared to mine.

(Might I add that when I used the WEN product...yes, I DID end-up ordering it, and it smells absolutely made my hair so unbelievably poufy that I felt bad sitting in front of somebody at the movies because I felt like I was blocking their view.)

There was nothing wrong with Emerald the way she was, and I honestly think that she looked much better BEFORE they took that InStyler to her pretty hair.

For as long as I can remember, my hair has just grown-out of my head curly. That's just the way it is. I have never wanted straight hair, and I hate that people assume that I would choose straight hair if I could. Once this guy I worked with saw a wedding picture of my sister's and said:

"You must be jealous of her."

I assumed he was talking about being jealous of her because she was married and I wasn't...that comment alone deserved a really hard kick in the shin. And in the head. And the silent treatment for a week.

But...oh, no...he went on to say:

"Because she has straight hair."

Me: Why would I be jealous?
Him: Don't all girls that have curly hair want straight hair?


I have also been told at different times that my hair was the reason I had a hard time finding a job after college (I mean, it has nothing to do with the economy or anything crazy like that) and a boyfriend (the fact that I primarily meet guys who are looking for boyfriends themselves couldn't be the REAL reason, could it? And for the record...all my gay male friends love my hair.)

I would like to defy the InStyler and give you a list of girls who prove that it is okay to be curly. These women probably have absolutely no trouble getting dates or jobs.

I have seen most of them with their hair straightened...and, honestly?

They look prettier and more confidant and special curly.

Frieda, from Peanuts. Frieda would say stuff like, "People always expect MORE from you when you have naturally curly hair!" She would introduce herself by saying, "I have naturally curly hair!"

Frieda knew how to work it.

Everyone's favorite TV nurse, Julianna Margulies. (She gets extra points for being pale as a sheet as well, another one of my physical traits that people are always telling me I need to change.)

The delightful Rena Strober!

The ultimate curly goddess...Bernadette Peters. She's nearing 60 now, and her hair is as long and thick and curly as ever.

Mandy Gonzalez! A fiercely talented Broadway actress, and I do a doubletake every time I see a picture of her because it is slightly weird how much we look alike.

And for all the curly-haired boys out there who have short hair when they CAN grow it out into some glorious is Matthew Morrison, currently starring in South Pacific. He is an absolute dreamboat.

Sometimes "dreamboat" is the only word to describe a boy.

He's handsome and talented and can definitely pull-off a buzzcut (especially when he is playing a World War II soldier and singing love songs), but, Matthew...we love your curls. Love love love.

If curly hair wasn't special, everybody would be able to grow it on their own.

Free your hair...the rest will follow.

Diana Rissetto

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

When I was little...

...I would get those bunny-shaped chocolates at Easter and feel guilty eating them (because they looked like bunnies), and they would end-up staying in the freezer for weeks after Easter...until my mother threw them away, or my father ate them. Now, I have never eaten rabbit meat, and when my dog Lola followed her terrier instincts and killed about four of them a few months ago, I was very upset.

(I still don't eat chocolate bunnies at Easter time...I stick to mini-Cadbury eggs. I am really glad the Easter/Passover comes but once a year...because if it came more than once, I would do nothing but eat mini-Cadbury eggs and watch The Ten Commandments. I'd have no teeth...and be exposed to way more Charleton Hesten than one should ever be in a lifetime. Actually, they released red-and-green version of those mini-eggs a few Christmases ago, but I am yet to find them again. I am starting to think it was nothing but a lovely dream.)

With Thanksgiving being tomorrow, chocolate turkeys are on my mind.

I am a vegetarian...but not one of those vegetarians that throw paint on fur-wearers and lecture strangers. Most people don't even know that I am a vegetarian until it directly comes-up. I gave-up meat quite gradually...and I did it for ethical reasons. I would think about pigs and cows and get, pork and beef were the first to go...and then chicken...and then...turkey.

I really used to like turkey. I used to go to the Pig n' Whistle for their turkey, goat cheese and apple wrap, and when Bennigans was around, I could have lived on their Turkey O'Toole, which was served on a pretzyl roll with lots of mustard and was SO GOOD.

For some reason, I never connected very emotionally to chickens and turkeys, so I was able to eat them with the least amount of guilt...and then I realized, "I'm a huge hypocrite, aren't I? Why do I value cows and pigs more than birds?"

And so ended my relationship with poultry.

(Side note...for some reason, many people don't consider turkey and chicken to be meat. I would love to know exactly WHAT kind of a tree these birds grow on, if that's the case.)

There are chocolate turkeys everywhere this time of year.

And not just chocolate turkeys...but turkey decorations...turkey balloons...stuffed animal turkeys...and, of course, those little handprint turkeys that kids make, complete with a smiling face on them.

It makes me wonder...people (and I'm not just talking about little kids) DO realize that over five million turkeys are killed for Thanksgiving every year? And yet, we portray them as these happy, lovable, SMILING creatures that can't wait to get slaughtered.

I remember this movie that used to be on The Disney Channel when I was a kid (seriously, whatever happened to The Disney Channel? When we were little, it was all about Road to Avonlea and all those great original movies, and now, nothing against Hannah Montana and those twins that live in the Plaza Hotel...or whatever goes on in that show...a cheap rip-off of Eloise, I call it!)...
A teenage boy is torn between his love for an injured Canadian goose that he has found and his agreement to fatten and kill it for an approaching Thanksgiving dinner for his neighbors.

Now, even though this movie is about a goose and not a turkey, I think it's on to something...if everybody had to raise their own Thanksgiving turkey, would over five million STILL be killed and sent to supermarkets every year?

And why do we need to display smiling turkeys all over the place around Thanksgiving time? Do people have some kind of guilt, deep down, and like to pretend that these birds are just smiling away at the thought of being slaughtered?

I was telling a coworker the other day how I actually DO miss turkey quite a bit, and he told me, "You know, the bird has already been killed and is sitting on your family's table...if you eat some, it won't change anything!"

But I don't think I ever could...just as I never felt right eating those chocolate bunnies when I was a kid, I don't think I'll ever feel "right" eating meat again.

And on that note...Happy Thanksgiving!

Diana Rissetto

Friday, November 21, 2008

I'm off to Florida for the week!

And I will most likely not be blogging that much while down there.

However, if you find yourself longing for my daily ramblings, Cheyenne Jackson updates, and other nonsense (which is probably very very unlikely to happen, even though, ever since I installed this google tracker thing on my blog, I have found that I have several devoted readers in Chicago, Texas AND Turkey, among many other places), you can find a one-act play that I wrote being produced right here in New York City!

I honestly don't even remember WRITING this play, or sending it anywhere (I tend to do that), but it's a short play based on my time at Barnes and Noble and most of the stuff is based on stuff that really happened...(like the old lady that called every Sunday asking for personal advice...the moms who offered me cash to write their lazy kids' book reports...the time I staff recommended The Bible when The Passion of the Christ was out and wrote "NOW A HIT FILM!" on the card...whatever, I thought it was hilarious at the time.)

I'm very excited that I am making my New York City debut...(even though I can't be there...since I will be in Florida, of course.)

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

Diana Rissetto

Thursday, November 20, 2008

All over the place lately!

One of my favorite guys, Cheyenne Jackson, that is.

Here is Cheyenne singing a sweet and inspirational song on The Today Show this morning.

People always tell me that I am too nice...

People always tell me that I am too nice...however, I really don't think that I am.

There are many times a week when I think I've said something out-of-line or rude, and I'll apologize for being so, and the other person will look at me, completely confused, and ask what exactly I said that was so nasty. People tell me that I couldn't be a bitch if I tried. (I really don't think that's true. I know I have an evil streak...we all do!)

Me: I am so sorry I snapped at you before!
Other Person: When did you snap at me before?

I often take in strays...people who start confiding in me all their problems, and I have never once thought to say, "Please leave me alone. I hardly know you." Because I would feel bad doing that...because maybe I really AM too nice...and then I'll start obsessing, "What is the point of being too nice if you're not using your niceness to truly better the world?"

There are these people that collect for the homeless on just about every street corner in midtown Manhattan. Lately, I've been walking around them because I don't like them calling me out. ("You! In the red coat! People are going to bed starving! Donate what you can!") Maybe I should throw some coins in every time I walk by...but I don't!

If I really was too nice, I probably would be doing that.

Every time I walked by a table.

(Can I be honest? I usually DO give to the Salvation Army whenever I pass them. Is that wrong? Is it because I usually get overcome by the holiday spirit...and they're always ringing bells...)

Now, one thing I will never grow immune matter how many years I spend in New York seeing homeless people living on the sidewalk. I have this memory of Christmastime when I was a kid, and I was bouncing along and in a lovely mood, and then I saw a woman in the street, hugging herself and shivering. That image stuck with me forever.

And, yet, what am I doing for these people? I never give money to homeless people. I'm a 5'0 female walking by myself...perhaps I honestly don't feel safe whipping out my wallet and handing-out money. Or maybe it's something else. Maybe, deep down, I just feel like the problem is so great that me giving a dollar to a person a day won't make much of a difference.

I became a donor for Saint Jude's Hospital a few years ago. (Mainly because I got to the point where I couldn't turn away from those infomercials. They are truly heartbreaking.) I give what I can every month...and every month, I get a thank-you note from Marlo Thomas, along with a photo of another little Saint Jude's Hospital patient, and an envelope to send more money in. It makes me really upset! NOTHING makes me sadder than seeing or hearing about a sick child. But, seriously, Marlo Thomas! I'm giving you all I can afford!

I work with the youth group at my church. I used to think that I only liked little kids. I taught Sunday School for 1st and 2nd graders throughout high school, and I love that age. However, I've been with the youth group for a while, and these 5th-8th graders have really grown on me. Yes, I'm volunteering...yes, I'm doing something good...but then again...these are nice, well-adjusted children from good families who voluntarily hang out at church every week. If I really wanted to make a difference, wouldn't I be working with children who didn't have families who really needed some kind of a guiding light? Am I making any kind of an impact in these kids' lives?

Do they really even NEED me?

Am I doing ANY good?

However, we do service projects with these kids, and with every successful book drive or bake sale, I have come to realize maybe it's every bit as important to install in these kids that they really CAN make some kind of a difference and that they WON'T be twelve years old forever. Maybe that is my purpose right now, and my contribution for the time being.

Diana Rissetto

Wild about Harry...

I have been a great fan of Harry Connick, Jr. for years...partly because he's a spectacular entertainer, but also because I learned, firsthand, that he is also a spectacular person, as learned by this experience, copied from my blog from a year ago:

I believe in karma/What you give is what you get in return-Savage Garden

I have always wanted to be some kind of a celebirty...just so I could have some kind of I could be nice to them and make their day...just by being NICE. I like to consider myself a nice person...but I don't think it means too much to people.

When I was a kid, I was a huge fan of Harry Connick, Jr. (Well, I still am a huge fan of Harry Connick, Jr...but am now able to listen to him and talk about him without shrieking like a banshee.) He is probably the first entertainer I ever became a fan of on my own (as opposed to Frank Sinatra, who I grew up thinking was a member of my family.)

Let's go back to 1996...

I was an awkward, goofy 14-year-old kid and my favorite star in the entire world…the first entertainer I was ever a fan of…the first person I hung on my bedroom wall and up in my locker at school…the first albums I ever bought with my own money…called me on the telephone and I am yet to forget just how much that meant to me.

Why did he call me on the telephone?

I have always been crazy with the yarn. I love making things for people. The majority of people that I know and love have some kind of crocheted article of clothing or Christmas ornament from me.

Harry Connick, Jr. is no exception.

When I went to meet Harry at the Star Turtle CD signing, I gave him a pillow I made for his newborn baby, Georgia. (It was pink and white and had her name on it!) I included a card.

Three weeks later, I came home from the movies (I was actually seeing Independence Day, because Harry was in it, of course, even though he died in the first fifteen minutes) to my sister telling me that, "You are going to freak. No, really, you are going to FREAK. Harry Connick, Jr. called you to thank you for the pillow. He said he'd call back..."

And call back Harry Connick, Jr. DID.

I picked up.

Diana: Hello?
Harry: Hello, is Diana there?
Diana: Yes. This is Diana.
Harry: Hi, Diana, this is Harry Connick, Jr. How are you?
Diana: I am good. How are you?


Honestly, just the nicest, lovliest man.

We talked for a few minutes. He told me that Georgia LOVED her pillow and that she snuggles with it, and he was sure that when she learned to talk, she'd tell them how much she loved it.

A few days later, I got a thank-you note “from” Georgia, which I can only assume was written by Harry's wife, Jill. (I can’t imagine anybody but a mommy writing a note from a baby and signing it “love and kisses”). I became a fan of Jill’s right then as well. Whenever I see pictures of the Connick family, which now includes three little girls, I smile. What a beautiful family.

Now, I don’t know if Harry could ever understand how much that meant to me. To Harry, he was just doing something simple and polite…calling somebody to thank them for giving you a baby gift…something you would do for anybody. However, it was so much more than that to me! After that experience, I wanted to be some kind of a performer just so I could make some random kid as happy as he made me with a two-minute phone call.

I remain a devoted fan of Harry Connick, Jr. I listen to his Christmas album on repeat during the holidays, and I saw him in concert back in April. (Georgia and her little sister Kate got up and danced with him on stage that night!) He is the best live act I have ever seen...just BRIMMING with charisma and personality and it is so clear that he just loves what he does so, so much. He really just lights-up like a little kid when he's up onstage, and it is a pure delight to witness.

He will have a fan in me, as a performer and as a person, for life.

(Remember that episode of Growing Pains when Ben discovers that his music idol is a real jerk and cheats on his wife? And he realizes that it is possible to be a fan of somebody's work, even if they're not a great person? Well, I am happy to have found a wonderful entertainer AND human being in Harry Connick, Jr. He absolutely deserves everything that comes his way, professionally or personally.)

What a guy!

(As I was writing this, I popped in the Pajama Game cast recording.)

Two weeks ago, I discovered that you don't need to be a celebrity to be nice to people and have it really mean something.

I had a trauma, and I was hysterical crying in an elevator.

And we are talking HYSTERICAL.

And then an extremely kind woman who I barely said two words to in my life noticed me (it was hard not was a small elevator...and did I mention I was hysterical crying?). She took me into her office, she calmed me down, and then she walked me about fifteen blocks and helped me get to my train. She even called my mother to tell her what happened.

Like my Harry Connick, Jr. experience, I will never forget this woman's kindness. She doesn't have two Grammys and a Tony nomination, but she does have a great deal of class and kindness to share. I will forever be grateful to her for being so kind to me in my hour of need.

So...while it would be nice to be a star...and have fans...I have discovered that it isn't really necessary...being nice to people really DOES pay off sometimes, and can really make a difference, no matter what the celebrity status of either one.

From now on, I'll just be on the look-out for crying people in elevators.

Diana Rissetto


Love Harry.

Love love love Harry.

And if there's anything I love more than a new Harry Connick, Jr. album, it's a new Harry Connick, Jr. CHRISTMAS album!

His third one was just released, and I picked-it up yesterday, and have listened to his "Winter Wonderland" about twenty times.

He sings with his daughter, Kate, who, shocker, was always destined to be one talented and beautiful girl, thanks to her talented and beautiful parents.

Harry starts to sing the song, and then tells Kate to sing. She goes, "Sorry, Dad, but your version put me to sleep...HIT IT FELLAS!" and then this big band starts and little Kate starts belting like a 9-year-old Judy Garland and it's the cutest thing EVER.

Definitely worth adding to your holiday music collection!

Diana Rissetto

Monday, November 17, 2008

Growing-up in a traditional Italian-American, Catholic family...

...I grew-up surrounded by relatives named Joey and Vinny...I have gone to many many elaborate First Communions, and I always knew that Saint Anthony was the guy to pray to when something was missing.

Saint Anthony, Saint Anthony look around...
Something's lost and must be found...

I still ask Saint Anthony for help when I've misplaced my keys (or, you know, my car.)

Whenever my good friend Laura (who is Jewish!) can't find something, I tell her I'll send-up a prayer to Saint Anthny for her...(since she is Jewish!)

She recently called me, all excited, to tell me she saw a Saint Anthony luggage tag in a gift shop.

"Saint Anthony, even as you watch over the lost and helpless, please look after my suitcase. Protect if from evil and mishandling, that I may see it once again on the baggage carousel. Amen"

I am flying-off to Florida this weekend...

And I will be taking with me, my new pink luggage.

With a Saint Anthony luggage tag on it.

Diana Rissetto

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Hey, I know that masseur!

Here's an episode of Lipstick Jungle featuring my friend and Broadway actor Cheyenne Jackson...

Very cool!

"It really was no miracle...what happened what just this..."

Here I am (defying gravity...sorry, couldn't resist) in 1986.

I really loved The Wizard of Oz.

There was a tornado watch in my area tonight, and The Wizard of Oz was on television. Now, that is some good timing. I was on the phone with my mom (to fill her in about the tornado watch), and told her that I couldn't believe it...I hadn't seen this movie in so long, and yet I still knew practically the entire thing by heart. She said, "Well, you DID used to watch it every day."

I did.

Every so often, I'll go on an Oz kick...I'll reread some of the Oz books and movie trivia, and remember that really great TV movie about L. Frank Baum's life starring John Ritter that has sadly never been released on DVD. (It was so great! I get chills just remembering it.)

I have always regarded L. Frank Baum as one of my literary heroes. Even reading his dedications is entertaining enough...a special, brilliant man who gave the world an incredible gift.

The other day, as my friend Laura and I were having our daily IM ramblings (if one of us ever get a job which does not allow AIM, we're in serious trouble),we started talking about what a "Wizard of Oz-themed wedding" would be like.

(When you are currently going to as many weddings as both Laura and I have been over the past few years, these things come-up in conversation! We have also discussed what might go on at a "Breakfast at Tiffany-themed wedding"...the bride enters to "Moon River", the bridesmaids wear little black dresses, and instead of butterflies or doves or rice...they release cats after the ceremony!!!! The flowers will be "Tiffany blue.")

I figure at a Wizard Of Oz-themed wedding, the bridesmaids would wear multi-colored dresses and enter to "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."

Like these girls!

The bride would arrive in a horse-drawn carriage, and that horse would be painted many colors. (Obviously!)

Instead of a bouquet, she will carry a basket with a stuffed Cairn terrier in it.

(Or a real one...but since there are already going to be cats there, I don't recommend it.)

At one point, I said, "And you can rent dwarfs to dress-up as munchkins to be greeters at the ceremony!"

And Laura paused. "NO! STOP IT! YOU JUST SAID 'RENT DWARFS'!!!!!!!!"

I had a flashback of working at the bookstore years ago, and this delightfully eccentric girl, Crystal, said to me, "Diana, you're good talking on the phone...can you help me make some phone calls? I need to call all these party places (that rent-out strippers, magicians, etc.") and ask them if they rent-out midgets?"


Crystal: I'm having a Moulin Rouge-themed birthday party...and I want midgets to answer the door dressed in top hats and tuxedos.

Me: I can't call people and ask them that!!!

Crystal: Why not?

Me: Because it just sounds WRONG. Besides, I sound SO YOUNG. Everybody would think I was pranking them.

Well, Crystal, if you're reading this...(and I HIGHLY doubt that you are, since I haven't spoken to you in years)...I apologise.

Who knew that one day, I would be talking about hiring people to dress-up as munchkins.

And look here!!!!

Come on, "So You Wanna Hire a Munchkin."

People clearly have the need to hire munchkins all the time.

I bet LOTS of couples have Wizard of Oz-themed weddings!

(Even though I am trying to find examples online and cannot really find anything.)

I understand that there is a chance that I could end-up marrying a guy who is really into Judy Garland and The Wizard of Oz (I'm just being realistic here) and would be all for having that Wizard of Oz-themed wedding.

(I wonder if a Priest would be able to dress-up like the Wizard for a Wizard of Oz- themed wedding. Is that against any rules??? Does The Wizard of Oz fall under the same list of things that the Church sees as witchcraft as Harry Potter does?)

Diana Rissetto

"Life is eternal and love is immortal and death is only a horizon..."

I get sucked-into watching the John Edward show on the WE channel constantly.

I never plan-on watching it...but I'll turn on the television and it's on, and I watch thirty seconds of it, and can never turn it off. (One time I DID turn-it off, when it was a special with 9/11 families...said to myself, "Yeah, gotta get out of the house and away from this television or I'll be crying for the rest of the week...")

(I DO cry a lot...of course, I am also the girl that cries over air freshener commercials.)

And the other day...I came very close to BUYING tickets to see John Edward live.

He is going to be in Seacaucus (a place my train passes through every day on the way to New York City, and this seemed like as good a time as any to visit) the week of the tenth anniversary of my father's death.

I took that as a sign. (I take a lot of things as "signs". I need to stop doing that. If you look for a sign hard enough, you'll find one in anything.)

I went back-and-forth. What if I spent all that money (and a trip into Seacaucus), and nothing "happened", and it was all a waste? But what if I went, and something DID "happen"...and what if I didn't go, and ended-up wondering "what if" for a long time after.

However, the decision was made for me, as the show seems to be sold-out.

My dad was sick for over a year before he died of cancer when I was seventeen-years-old. While this is not something I ever particularly advertised, for almost that entire year, I carried around a copy of this book Hello From Heaven with me wherever I went. It was always in my school backpack, and I'd read and reread it whenever I had nothing else to do. That book was the most enormously comforting thing in the world to me during that time. It was filled with stories about people being contacted by their loved ones who had passed away.

I had accepted the father was going to die...but this book made me feel a lot better, and knew that even when my father died, he was still going to exist somewhere. I knew that I would get "signs" after he was gone, just like those people in that book.

(I also blame the television show Providence...that series when Melina Kanakaredes moves back home after her mom's death, and her mom appears to her every night and they talk. That show was great! And, of course, I always make an effort to support the curly-haired in their artistic endeavors.)

However, after my father died, and I never did get any kind of a sign...nearly ten years later, I still haven't.

When my dog died last year, I will not like...I spent some time on websites where people talked about being contacted by their pets beyond the grave.

Of course LuLu would contact me! Why wouldn't she?

She never did.

Oddly enough, my lack of paranormal experiences has not really left me disappointed or skeptic. I still absolutely believe in all of that...I do think John Edward is genuine, and that he has a gift, and that it's not all a hoax. I believe that most of the stories from Hello From Heaven were truthful, and I will never, ever believe "when you're dead, you're dead." I've heard a lot of people say that they feel that way, and it just makes me very sad.

Maybe it's a naive and optimistic way to think, but I will always believe in something a lot bigger than any of us, than anything that is on this earth.

(Now I feel like watching Highway to Heaven. I love Highway to Heaven. The first year I lived in New Jersey, I had terrible was much too quiet to sleep!...and I would stay-up all night. Highway to Heaven came on at 3:30 AM. Love it. Michael Landon will always remain one of my idols, for being somebody who became so beloved and successful for being a total sap.)

Diana Rissetto

Thursday, November 13, 2008

That's my boy...

Cheyenne Jackson is one of my favorite people to watch onstage, and also happens to be one of my favorite people in the world off-stage. I absolutely love this guy, and watching him rise from obscure random chorus boy slash understudy (to Gavin Creel. See the Creel and Cincotti entry.) to huge superstar has been quite surreal. (I think his Facebook pages speaks for itself. He can write, "Cheyenne Jackson Drank a Snapple" as his status and get about seventy-five responses.)

Last spring, I bought a few copies of The Advocate because Cheyenne was on the cover, and this month, it looks like I will be buying Out.

Cheyenne is featured as Out Entertainer of the Year!!!!

One of the loveliest people you will ever meet, inside and out!



Is Cheyenne Jackson the man we've all been waiting for? Handsome and talented, able to seduce audiences of all genders and ages, he's the elusive figure with the potential to demolish the theory that an out actor can't get plum roles. Most recently he starred in Broadway's hilarious surprise hit Xanadu, which closed in September after 513 performfances ("That's 512 more than anyone thought we'd do," he says). Jackson is definitely not a privately tortured leading man like Rock Hudson—who, incidentally, Jackson says he would like to portray: "Tony Roberts, who I worked with the last 15 months in Xanadu, knew Rock Hudson and said that I reminded him of Rock, and that resonated with me.

I think it would be a good marriage of subject and actor." Neither is Jackson the openly disaffected would-be leading man, like Rupert Everett. "The only way I know how to be is me," he says of his singular potential as an actor. With an album in the works, an upcoming TV tryst with one very lucky Lindsay Price on Lipstick Jungle, and hidden talents yet to be revealed, we should all be paying very close attention.

Diana Rissetto

Creel and Cincotti...

Being in New York City and working in the entertainment industry, one has to learn to be able to just pass a celebrity with nothing more than a casual glance.

(Actually, I also learned this lesson living in Monmouth County, New Jersey. Jon Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen live in the area, and they would both frequently come into my bookstore to shop.)

I have gotten pretty good at doing that.

Besides, there aren't many "celebrities" that I would get truly starstruck or nervous around...and the ones that I would are either no longer living (I can't help parents brainwashed me with black-and-white movies when I was a child) or are living, but a bit on the random side.

(Like Tom Brokaw. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be able to make eye contact with Tom Brokaw.)

However, I had a moment at the Gavin Creel and Shayna Steel concert last week and was able to go up to somebody and ramble incessantly about what a huge fan I was of their work. I can't remember the last time I did that.

(Sidenote...that Gavin Creel is amazing. I first took notice of him, of course, when he played Jimmy in Thoroughly Modern Millie six years ago. One of the most glorious voices I have ever heard, and he couldn't be cuter if he was an orphan with a limp. Seriously. And the movie Eloise at Christmas has been my guilty pleasure holiday favorite...whatever, I have about 90 guilty pleasure holiday favorites...since it first premiered. Gavin plays Eloise's best friend Bill, and he dances around on the piano and then dances around the snow and he is positively enchanting. Love Gavin Creel. Love love love.)

I almost didn't go to this concert, because sometimes pajamas and Ugly Betty seem really really appealing on a Thursday evening.

But...oh, am I glad I ended-up going.

It would obviously take a lot to distract me while Gavin Creel was onstage performing.

One of those very few things that would be able to distract me while Gavin Creel was onstage performing (sorry, Gavin) would be...

Knowing that Peter Cincotti was sitting directly behind me.

I have been a fan of this kid since I was a freshman in college. He is a year younger than me, and released his first album when he was just eighteen. I definitely regard him as one of the most talented musicians that our generation has produced.

A velvet voice, magical piano hands (a close second to watching Harry Connick, Jr. bang that piano. And for those who know me know that "close second to Harry Connick, Jr." is not a term I throw around lightly), and the music...oh, the music. Every so often, I find songs that I enjoy reading the lyrics almost as much as I enjoy listening to. (Duncan Sheik was number 1 on that list for a while, but got bumped to number 2 by the young Mr. Cincotti.)

He's great.

Honestly, honestly, honestly, just GREAT. So much talent in one young guy.

Now, I threw aside my "just give a celebrity a casual nod" rule for Mr. Cincotti...because I realized that he, crazily enough, isn't considered a celebrity by a lot of people. In fact, it didn't seem like anybody else at that concert recognized him besides me.

Most normal people would just go up to their favorite singer and tell them, "I really enjoy your work"...but when did I ever claim to be normal?

Anybody can tell somebody that there stuff is great...but I think it takes a special kind of (delightful!) weirdo to tell an entertainer:

"I really wish you had a Christmas album. If you came-out with a Christmas album, I would probably listen to nothing but you all year! And now it's November, so I really can't listen to you until after New Year's...and that just makes me SAD!"

(I am a total Christmas FREAK. I am one of those really annoying people that have to watch every single Christmas movie...classics and cheesy Lifetime holiday films alike...and I will never understand people who are not able to get swept away in the me to tell somebody that it's a total calamity that they do not have a Christmas album is the most ultimate compliment.)

"I can't believe you are not selling-out Radio City Music Hall yet. No, really, I mean that!"

(Radio City Music Hall is huge! Radio City Music Hall sits 6,000 people! Another ultimate compliment, Mr. Cincotti!)

"Anybody who has ever been in my car with me has been forced to listen to you!" (That kinda sounds like a backhanded compliment, doesn't it?)

Peter Cincotti kept hitting me on the shoulder and laughing. He was either very uncomfortable or very amused (or perhaps both!)

He asked me if I was there checking out the concert...which made me worry that he thought I saw him go inside and followed him off the street..."No, really, I have been a big fan of Gavin's for years! Quiz me! Ask me who was his understudy in Thoroughly Modern Millie!" (which was, of course, one of my very favorite guys, Cheyenne Jackson!)

Seriously...though...what an incredibly talented kid (and I can call him a kid because he's a year younger than me.)

(And when he finally DOES release a holiday album, I expect to be thanked in the linear notes.)

Diana Rissetto

Scary stuff...

After I graduated from college, it took me almost two years to find a full-time "real" job (I would later learn that no matter what ANYBODY said, working at Barnes and Noble was, indeed, a real job, and a pretty difficult and stressful one at that...seriously, work retail for five Hermione at a Harry Potter Midnight Madness Release in charge of the children's department on a rainy Saturday afternoon...and you can handle absolutely ANYTHING that life throws at you. I know that now. People who have only worked at desk jobs will never get it.)

I absolutely began to measure my life's worth by the fact that I didn't have that "real" job I was looking so hard for. Old friends and teachers from high school and college would stop by the bookstore, see me working there, and question why I was "still there"...since I had a college degree. I started to hide when people I knew came in. I was embarrassed. I was ashamed. I felt like I had fallen so far behind everybody else.

And then I got a "real job." I loved my "real job." I did everything I was told, took ever demeaning order with a smile on my face, and then I lost that "real job", one rainy March afternoon.

(It's been nearly two years, and I still wish that I had that all on video tape. I was walking down 42nd Street, in the pouring rain, hysterically crying, juggling all my junk from my desk, and had tickets to see Les Miserables that night. I am pretty sure it does not get more pathetic than that.)

I would be lying if I said that I still wasn't a bit hurt from that entire experience.

I have seen my old boss, the one who sadly told me my job was being eliminated and watched me pack-up my desk...I could tell he felt bad. He didn't want to do it. He really did like me. But somebody had to go...and I was the last person they added to the I was the first one to get the axe.

Somehow, that thought didn't make it hurt any less.

Every time I WOULD see this boss, I would barely be able to make eye contact with him, even though he'd always attempt to give me a warm hello and ask me how I was doing. Seeing him just brought back too many sad memories, and I'd automatically just picture that pitiful young woman walking down the street in the pouring rain that day.

I saw him in the street last week, and I told myself, "I'm turning over a new leaf! I am going to give him a very cheery hello!"

I called-out, "Hello, (Former Boss' First Name)!" right in the middle of 8th Avenue where anybody could have seen me.

I was so proud of myself! I felt had I had come a long way.

It wasn't my boss.

(However, since he did have a very common first name, there's a good chance that random man actually DID have that name.)

It's the thought that counts after all, isn't it?

Over the past couple of months, a numerous amount of my friends have lost their jobs.

Some are taking it amazingly well (much better than I did). Others are not.

I am realizing that it is nothing hard as it is not to take it personally. When my boss told me I no longer had a job, it was impossible not to take it personally. "You have known me for a year. You have seen me five days a week for eight hours a day. And now you're telling me I have to leave and never come back."

It really does happen to everybody at some point, but I am finding all these lay-offs absolutely terrifying. I have always been a believer that "things happen for a reason"...but when everybody is getting laid-off, where exactly do you find another job?

I must keep repeating to myself what I wish I had known as a new graduate...a job is just a job. They come and go. At the end of the day, all that really DOES matter is that you're a good person, with friends and interests and dreams...and none of that can be contained in a cubicle.

Diana Rissetto