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

Friday, November 7, 2008

A shout-out to my favorite new 3-year-old

Even though Mia Rose cannot read, I cannot let her birthday pass without mentioning it here.

Happy Birthday, Principessina!!!!!!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

"There's AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH place for us...""

I have been cursed/blessed with a very very sick memory. When I worked at Barnes and Noble, I would remember every book a regular costumer would buy. I remember conversations, I remember random songs, I remember pages of dialogue from movies I've only seen once. I often bring-up insignificant things that others have mentioned in passing, and they get scared and assume I've been following them around with a notepad, writing down everything they've said.

(This spectacular photographic memory probably should have been a great service to me in school...but it wasn't.)

When I was in the 5th grade, I went to see a high school (the high school I would go on to attend) production of West Side Story.

I had never seen the show on stage before, but I did already know the movie by heart…(and felt incredibly betrayed when I learned most of the cast wasn’t really singing!) I was so excited to see this show. I didn’t know anybody in it, but that doesn’t matter when you’re in the 5th grade…high school productions are as good as professional. (I mean this in the kindest way...I have found that sitting through a middle school or high school musical when you don't know any of the kids in it can sometimes be just slightly difficult.)

My theatre exposure was still quite limited at that point. (I had seen my first Broadway show only two three earlier.) I saw the show that night, and remembered Riff and Bernardo coming into the audience when they sing “Tonight”, standing right in front of me.

I also oddly remembered the guy who played Tony.

I'm pretty sure I could fall over the girl who played Maria in the street, and not recognize her...but for some reason...I do remember Tony.

When I was working at Barnes and Noble, I noticed him browsing…and recognized him right away. (Even though I hadn’t seen him since that day onstage in 1992, about ten years earlier.)

“I know that guy,” I told my coworker, Danny. “I think I saw him in West Side Story. But it was a really long time ago. And he’d probably be freaked out if I said something to him about it.”

Danny: Hmm. You know what we can do? You can put on that showtunes album they play here…and then try to catch him singing along to a West Side Story song…and then you can snap your fingers and go, “THAT’s where I know you from!” Then you won’t look that weird.

I didn’t do that…instead, I waited until the boy was paying, and casually said:

Me: You’re going to think I’m really really weird.

(Boy realizes I am taking to him.)

Me: But weren’t you Tony in West Side Story?

(Boy stares at me blankly, slightly confused.)

Boy: Yeah…a really long time ago…like…ten years ago…if we’re talking about the same production…OTHS?

Me: Yeah. I was there!

Boy: Oh. You have…a very good memory.

Me: I know! I can’t help it! I remember everything. It’s scary. And weird. But I remember you!

Boy: Oh…well, I’m like that too, I’ll remember random people I see on the subway and stuff.

Me: You were really great!

Boy: ...thanks...

We’re going to be the best of friends now, I thought, imagining us on a road trip, singing showtunes as we rode down Route 66.

He started to leave, and I called out, “Goodbye!” He turned around and went, “…Bye-bye…”

I felt like I definitely freaked-out Boy Who Had Played Tony in My High School’s Production of West Side Story. In fact, I bet he was going home to call his old high school friends, telling them about the little curly-haired freak in Barnes and Noble who had been following his career for the past ten years.

However, since New York City really IS the smallest town in the world, and the New York City theatre community is especially tiny and everybody knows everybody else (and, I have learned, most of the time genuinely cares about and likes everybody else...which I find especially inspiring), our paths have crossed several times over the past few years.

In fact, he has since introduced me to his friends as, “His friend from West Side Story.”

(I think he thinks he was in the show? I would have made a knock-out Graziella, I’ll tell you that much. I think he's very confused and has no idea who I am, and went through his high school yearbooks trying to figure out who on earth I am. However, he will not find me in his high school yearbooks, since by the time I was in high school, he was already out of college.)

Anyway, he is a very nice guy.

This is a (somewhat) timely story, since West Side Story will be returning to Broadway in just a few months, and although I am nervous, I also cannot wait. It will be playing at the Palace Theatre, which is one of my special houses, since it's where one of my special shows, Aida , played for several years. (It was also the theatre where one of my most favorite guys on earth, Cheyenne Jackson, starred in his first original show, All Shook Up.) The Palace is the first Broadway stage I ever stood on, and that theatre is very high in sentimental value and full of memories.

The revival will feature Matt Cavenaugh as Tony, and a newcomer from Argentina, Josefina Scaglione as Maria. Karen Olivo of In the Heights will be playing Anita.

I would have been even happier, though, if ANOTHER In the Heights girl was in the show...

...because then somebody might come-up to me with a West Side Story playbill and asked me to sign it.

And that would make me pathetically happy.

Diana Rissetto

Sunday, November 2, 2008

I was the president of the Intergenerational Club in high school

Oh, yes, I was.

What exactly IS an Intergenerational Club?

We hung-out with senior citizens.

I have always really loved senior citizens! We even had a little Theatre Troupe. We used to do skits with old people to bridge the gap between the generations. 80-year-old and 17-year-old eye each other in the grocery store...Senior Citizen comments, "You can't go anywhere without seeing some strange-looking teenager!" Teenager would reply, "They shouldn't let those old people drive!"

Our acting skills were just GOLDEN.

(And when I was in middle school, I was part of the Pride Club: Senior Citizen division. You had to pick a track...either homeless people, disabled children or senior citizens. Nobody EVER wanted to work with the senior citizens. It was sad!)

I never really grew-up with grandparents. Both of my grandmothers were gone before I was born, and my mom's dad died when I was really little, and my dad's dad when I was in the fifth grade. I have always been very sad that I haven't had grandparents in my life, and rather envious that it always seemed like everybody around me did have them. (And some even got to know their GREAT-grandparents!) It seems a bit unfair that I never had that, and lost a parent at a young age.

So...the next best thing was being the president (and sometimes, the only member!) of the Intergenerational Club.

Hanging-out with those senior citizens helped fill the lack of grandparents in my life, and also indulged my obsession with the 1940' were people that were actually YOUNG IN THE 1940's!!!!! Something that I always wished I could be!

They saw Frank Sinatra when he was in his twenties!

They watched Rita Hayworth movies in the theatre!

They celebrated the end of World War II in Times Square!

They did all those things I would never, ever get to do!

And, every so often, I come across an older celebrity that I wish I could adopt as a grandparent or a great-aunt or uncle.

Such as Jerry Stiller.

Gosh, I love that guy!

While The King of Queens is a funny show on its own, I definitely find myself drifting a bit if it isn't an Arthur-centric episode.

Two days after I was laid-off (from my first job out of college...a job that meant the WORLD to me...)in March 2007, my sister and I took a trip to San Francisco and watched hours of the show on the airplane.

When I was sad and depressed and frustrated after I lost that job...Jerry Stiller as Arthur Spooner was one of the few things that was able to make me smile.

I work in a job where I come into contact with many celebrities. I have learned not to bat an eye or react to them at all. After all, they are just people and I need to be professional...(even if it means you have to put them on hold, run around the office and squeal a bit, and return to the phone.)

I have never admitted to anybody that I was a big fan.

I made an exception when I picked-up the phone one day and Jerry Stiller's assistant was on the other end.

Jerry Stiller's personal assistant!

Yes, THE Jerry Stiller!

I told her that I loved his memoir, staff-recommended it when I worked at the bookstore (then again, maybe that doesn't say so much...when the movie The Passion of the Christ came-out, I staff-rec'ed the Bible and wrote NOW A HIT FILM!!! on the card. I thought it was pretty funny.)

I told her I was a huge huge fan.

She asked me for my address.

(Meanwhile, my coworker asked, "Should I be concerned about this great love you have for Jerry Stiller???")

And yesterday, I get a completely WONDERFUL note from Mr. Stiller and a stack of signed photos, all personalized to me.

Now, it's always quite nice to learn that a celebrity you enjoy is also a nice person, (such as the Harry Connick, Jr. story of 1996) and I'd like to thank Mr. Stiller for the lovely signed photos and for being as delightful in person as he is on screen and on paper!

Mr. Jerry Stiller, you can live in my basement ANY time!

(And I think Christine Taylor is one lucky girl. She gets to marry a nice guy like Ben Stiller, and her kids get Jerry as a grandpa!!!)

Diana Rissetto