Tuesday, January 1, 2008

I saw Atonement today...

...fine, fine film and I still have the chills from the last scene.

I would like to comment that I found James McAvoy positively adorable when he was Tumnus the Faun in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe two years ago.

And, call me crazy, but Mr. McAvoy is even dreamier as a World War II soldier than he is a "half-man/half-goatlike thing".

Who knew!

"It's gonna be a Happy New Year..."

It has been my observation that I have better years when they end in an even number.

The odd-numbered ones haven't been so wonderful.

My theory is illustrated beginning in 1999. Now, as some of you might now, that is the year that my dad died, and remains the worst thing I have ever gone through. A few months after my dad died, John F. Kennedy, Jr. and his wife and sister-in-law were all killed, and as I watched the coverage and kept seeing their young, lovely faces, and I kept thinking, "Okay, 1999 has just been awful. End already! Bring on the new millenium NOW!" (Of course, I did not know John, Carolyn or Lauren...but I am one of those really obnoxious "I Love Jackie O." kinda girls.)

2000 was actually quite good. Senior year of high school was a fun one...and on graduation day, I was pretty sad because just when I was feeling happier about things, they had to end.

2001 will forever be remembered for one thing only, and I will never be able to hear "2001" without placing "September 11" before that.

Hmmm...now I need to work backwards...

2007...rough rough rough year. I was laid-off from a job that meant a great deal to me in March. (One week before my birthday! Happy Birthday, Di!) That set me down another stressful jobhunt, which brought me a lot of (very familiar) feelings of insecurity and self-doubt.

2006...I got that job that had meant so much to me in March of 2006. This absolutely made everything better. I even went to the Tony Awards with this job!

2005-Total year of an absolute nightmare jobhunt.

2004-A very good year! I graduated college! I was so enthusiastic and ready for whatever was next!

Honestly? Don't really remember what happened in 2003. It couldn't have been THAT bad, because that was the year I had my first New York City theatre internship...

However, I think I am sensing a pattern, so all I can say is...

BRING ON 2008!!!!!!!!!!!

Some resolutions:

-To be happy. My sister's father-in-law, a Vietnam vet, recently said, "As long as nobody is shooting at you, then you're doing okay." I think that's an absolutely brilliant way of looking at things. NOTHING can ever be THAT bad.

-To stop picking my nail polish off or to simply, not WEAR any nail polish. There is something oddly oddly satisfying about being able to peel your nail polish off in one swift move. I need to stop that. It looks messy. It leaves shavings of nail polish all over the place. It might even be a fire hazard somewhere. (Maybe?) No more picking nail polish!

-On a similar note, I did very well with last year's resolution of not buying makeup just because I like the name of the shade.

-Read more! And read quality books! I feel like I used to read a book a day. When did that change? I shall look at my commute as extremely valuable reading time! Today I bought Atonement (I saw the movie tonight...wish I had read the book first) and The Hidden Life of Otto Frank, which I never read cover-to-cover, just snippets in the breakroom when I worked at the bookstore.

-Even more importantly...WRITE MORE! And DO more with that writing once it is done! In April, a show I cowrote will be produced. This is a huge huge huge (when did I become Eloise?) first step and I plan on looking at it as just the beginning.

-I'm going to eat better. I have a crazy schedule. And when things get crazy, I get thin. Not because I'm not EATING...but because I run around like a lunatic and eat really weird stuff. Like, I'll have eight cups of strawberry green tea (so good! so so so so good! For all those who don't like green tea, this is SO not your typical green tea) and then a frozen organic macaroni and soy cheese for dinner at 9:30 PM. Not good. Three solid meals, Diana! Three solid meals!!!!

Happy, happy New Year.

Diana Rissetto

As we travel along...

In April 2008, I went to see a musical that, in its own delightful way, changed my life.

The Drowsy Chaperone.

I remember leaving the theatre with my friend and now writing-partner, Lori Mooney, and practically dancing in the street because the show was just so infectious.

Yes, this show had Sutton Foster (I would give Sutton Foster ten Tony awards if all she did was sit at the edge of the stage and paint her toenails), but, most importantly, it was the most inspirational show I had ever seen! (After In My Life, the touching tale of a young man with Tourettes Syndrome who falls in love with a girl with OCD...after his mother and sister are killed in a car accident...and the two of them dance around in Heaven and look down at our hero. Nothing could top that one.)

The Drowsy Chaperone centers around a Man in a Chair...we never learn his name...who seems to live a solitary life, and he invites the audience to join him as he listens to a record of his favorite musical...a 1920's show called The Drowsy Chaperone.

The musical comes to live in his kitchen, and the narrator's face lights-up like a little kid as he watches the story unfold, almost like he's watching it for the first time...even though he knows it by heart.

Towards the end, the Man in the Chair says, "So, that was The Drowsy Chaperone. I love it so much...I know it's not the most perfect show...but it does what a musical is supposed to do...it takes you to another world, and it gives you a little tune to carry in your head for when you're feeling blue..."

If we're lucky enough, we all have our own Drowsy Chaperone. It reminded me of my love for The Fantasticks...which is really a very very silly and dopey show...but lifts my spirit and reawakens the hopeless romantic in me and makes me fall in love with it every time I listen to it or see another community theatre production of it.

(Funny story...last year, I was doing "The Run" for my last job, and was stopped outside of the Marriot Marquis. A woman asked me if I wanted free tickets to see a Broadway show...and all I had to do was have my picture taken with a member of the cast!" I said, "Why the HECK not!" and Jennifer Smith, who played Kitty in the show, handed me a big bag of Starbucks coffee. They snapped our picture and handed me two free tickets to see Drowsy...it would be my fourth time.)

(I never thought I would see the show without writer and star, Bob Martin, but leave it to Jonathan Crombie, GILBERT OF THE ANNE OF GREEN GABLES TRILOGY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!, to bring me back.)

Two days ago, The Drowsy Chaperone closed, and I think Broadway is one great star dimmer.

Thank you, Bob Martin, for helping me realize how important it is for me to create something that could touch others.

Diana Rissetto

Williamsburg Virginia and Battle Reenactments

Last year, I had an interview with a very nice woman at the New York Historical Society for a job. When I applied for that one, I wrote in my cover letter that I really loved Williamsburg, Virginia and often dragged my friends to battle reenactments.

When the lady called me for the interview, she said that she really loved my sense of humor in my cover letter (I get a lot of compliments on my cover letters. I should teach a seminar!)...to which I almost replied, "Who's being funny? I really DO love battle reenactments and Williamsburg, Virginia!" (My dad and I used to go to the Battle of Monmouth reenactment. They would, magically, always pick the hottest weekend of the summer for that one.)

It sounded like a fun job...included making MySpace profiles for historical figures. (I told my friend about it later on, and she said, "So, if I get a Friend Request from Betsy Ross it means you got the job???")

(I didn't get the job. But I DO love the New York Historical Society now.)

In fact, I love history.

Or do I, really?

At that interview, the lady asked me, "So, you're a big history buff?"

To which I resplied, "Why, yes, I am!"

But...I don't think I really AM. I loved the American Girl dolls and books when I was a kid. I still watch Little House reruns. And, my gosh, Tom Brokaw's Greatest Generation books are PURE HEAVEN. I enjoy the History Channel, and I always did well in history class in school. (I think my photographic memory has something to do with that.)

However, I don't think I'm really and truly into history...but more so, the fact that people existed years ago, just as people exist now...and while so many things have changed, the things that truly matter never will. Emotions and relationships and feelings of people that lived two hundred years ago aren't so different from my own.

When I was a kid (around 11 or 12), my family and I went to an antique shop one Saturday afternoon.

My favorite purchase of the day?

A really big, framed portrait of a soldier.

A completely random soldier.

I am honestly not sure which war this soldier was from...just a black-and-white portrait of a handsome, clean-cut young man in a soldier's uniform.

I hung it on my bedroom wall. It stayed there for years. My friend Raquel would come over and ask me to turn it around because it freaked her out.

It didn't freak ME out though...I loved my unknown soldier. I loved thinking that he was a REAL person...he lived a life! He had a childhood! He had hopes and fears and dreams! He was loved by his family and friends!

And I wondered if he survived the war, and how this big framed photo ended up in an antique shop. And perhaps he was even still alive!

(Maybe I should scan the picture and try to find the guy's family on Craigslist. Hmmm...)

I remember in the 9th grade, when we learned about World War I. A boy in my class was protesting the grade he got on an essay test, and he argued with Mr.Overton, "BUT I MENTIONED SOPHIE!"

Ah, yes, Sophie. The wife of Archduke Francis Ferdinand, who was murdered along with her husband and triggered World War I.

Truthfully, that is really the only thing I remember about 9th grade history. One day, my mother, sister and I started talking about that...and my mom said, "Isn't it funny that we all remember Archduke Francis Ferdinand and his wife Sophie?"

I am sure a true history buff would be able to tell you all about that war. I can't.

Recently, I found a book I had read and loved a few years ago...War Letters by Andrew Carroll and brought it along to reread on the train.

This book covers wars from the Civil to the first Persian Gulf War. I absolutely ate that book up. This isn't a history book...this is a human interest book. My favorite letters, of course, are the World War II ones...I have always been absolutely in love with the 1940's and felt like I was born about fifty years too late.

The letters that move me the most are the ones that go back-and-forth between a young husband and wife...only to be told by italicized words at the very end "Mitch was killed before Sue received this letters..."

It's things like that which truly humanize war for me. When 9/11 happened, I remember completely connecting with a girl on The Today Show...she was a few years older than I was...and her boyfriend and brother were both working in the World Trade Center that day and neither had been found yet. I remember, "What's the difference between myself or my friends and that girl?"

All of these soldiers and "victims"...they were human beings with lives before all of that. And, like my soldier on the wall, was a REAL person and lived a life...and had a childhood...and had hopes and fears and dreams...and was loved by their family and friends.

I might book a trip to Williamsburg Virginia soon.

Diana Rissetto