Sunday, April 15, 2012

Did that guy just John Slattery me?

When I was in the 4th-5th grade, I completely loved this TV show Homefront that really wasn't meant for me, but for my grandmothers (if I had them. I didn't.) I've always loved the 1940's and this series...about a small Ohio town adjusting to life after World War II...was everything I liked to imagine the era was like.

John Slattery, who has since been in EVERYTHING and is currently on Mad Men, was on Homefront.  Everybody knows John Slattery's face, even if they don't know his name. He's "that guy". That guy who has been in everything.

But he's still Al Kahn to me.

He will always be Al Kahn to me.

A few years ago, I was at a party and John and his wife walked-in. (His wife also played Bela Karoli's wife in the Nadia Comaneci TV movie my sister and I watched a thousand times as kids).

All I could think of was, "That guy played Al Kahn!"

I did something I so rarely do and approached him when he was done talking to his hoards of fans and friends and said, "I just have to tell you...I really loved Homefront." 

If I could film myself impersonating the reaction John Slattery gave me to that statement, I would. He kinda squinted, rolled his head back and then when he finally made eye contact with me, his face clearly said, "What the EFF?"

He was shocked!

Am I really the only person who remembers Al Kahn and Homefront?

(I hope not!)

He asked me how old I was when the show was on and I told him 9.

John Slattery kept repeating, "Nine. Nine. Nine. You were NINE."

He shook my hand and we went our separate ways.

I wondered if I freaked him out, but, seriously? I think I would love it if somebody came-up to me and reminded me of a project I did ages ago and what the impression it had on them!

Last week, I was in the supermarket and a man came-up to me and said, "I KNOW you. You ride the NJ Transit. I used to see you. But I haven't ridden it in six years. I ride the bus now. So it was a while ago."

I nodded. "Okay."

Completely freaked me out.

That guy just John Slattery-d me.

To John Slattery go up to somebody you do not know and tell them you remember them from somewhere, something, many years ago.

Diana Rissetto

Friday, April 13, 2012

Things that happen when you go see high school musicals by yourself...

I often go back to my old high school to check-out the current drama club production...partly to support the director, who has been kind enough to support MY post-high school and college theatre career, and to remind myself of the pure love and passion these young kids feel for the stage...the dreams, the bonds developing backstage, the hard work they have put into the show. I've known Broadway snobs and I will NEVER become a Broadway snob.

Watching a school musical full of children you don't know CAN be end-up being boring, but Ocean Township High School's production of Miss Saigon was absolutely spellbinding. and I couldn't believe I was watching a gang of 15-18 year old kids. Just all kinds of "wow". Wow! (It was very easy to overlook the fact that the young girl playing Miss Saigon was, in reality, a pale redheaded girl.) "Bui Doi" is one of my favorite songs to sing when I'm alone, and I wanted to give the kid who played John and sang that song a mid-show standing ovation. That is a HARD song for ANYONE to sing...let alone a 16-year-old child! Good going. Good going.

I had just come from a funeral and was wearing my traditional black dress and heels (I had been wearing pearls, but realized I looked way overdressed for a high school auditorium in them...). There was a man sitting next to me who was with a woman, but from listening in on their conversations, it seemed like they were members of the same family supporting a common niece or cousin.

He said to me, "I hope he doesn't keep you waiting much longer."

In typical clueless fashion, I asked, "Who?"

"Your date. You look so great and everything."

"I actually just came from a funeral..."

Crickets.  So many crickets.

He also alerted me about the Knicks' score at intermission.

"It's not looking good", he told me.

I sighed and shook my head. "Keep watching the show. Things aren't looking too good for Miss Saigon, either..." 

Sunday, April 1, 2012


It's a Wonderful Life is my all-time favorite movie and, lately, I have been able to connect so many of the themes to my own life.

I am yet to rescue any kid from drowning, which would let him grow-up to become a war hero...the manager at my after-school job at Barnes and Noble never almost accidentally poisoned a child, so I never got to interfere and stop it...and I never gave my Italian immigrant friend a new house.

However, after going-through what I have this past year, I get it.

Mr. Potter is a very fancy man. He has his own driver. When Clarence first sees him, he thinks he's a king! People are willing to work for him because he's rich and powerful and they need jobs...(not because they like him or because he's a good boss.)

The movie ends with Mr. Potter having millions and George Bailey needing $8,000 in order to save the Building and Loan.

George Bailey wins.

Mr. Potter might have a ton of money, and people STILL might still work for him because they need to eat, but George Bailey is the one who wins because he has a community of friends who want to help him.

I've had my own community of friends helping me this Bedford Falls spans pretty far...several different states, a couple of different countries and includes people from all different stages of my life...and not just my friends...but friends of friends of friends...a train conductor who was worried about me when he hadn't seen me on the train after I lost my job, and told me I had always been one of the most pleasant passengers...this lady I sat next to at a show in Washington DC who told me everything was going to be okay...I've had people I hardly know send me links to jobs (including somebody I met three years ago at a work function and have not said a word to since, but, thank you Facebook, has known about my trials) and the wife of a young man I volunteer with (I've only met her twice!) I started going to a weekly class which has helped me so's just the most open and supportive environment. You tell a story about your week...and people cheer. (Does it get any better than that?)

And, since I have interviewed at, roughly, 80% of the offices in New York City, I have met a lot of people...and...most of them? Completely lovely people who were nothing but kind and gracious and encouraging. I have gotten some of the kindest rejection letters ever written. I actually would like to put them into a scrapbook. It's wonderful of them to have taken the few minutes to tell me, "We couldn't hire you, Diana, but it's NOT you! YOU are fantastic (and I did get that word several times.) We just could only hire one person out of a sea of qualified ones."  Meeting them has made me realize how many terrific offices and bosses and coworkers there are out there, and that I completely deserve to find it for myself.

If everything happens for a reason, I think I know the reason all of this happened (and I wish I had realized it on some of my worse days.) A lot of people care about me...they wouldn't have bothered if they didn't...and just like Clarence wrote in his copy of Tom Sawyer, "No man is a failure who has friends."

I've known real-life Mr. Potters...and it's felt like they had it all...power and wealth and fame and the loyalty of otherwise good people...and I've struggled with, "Why are people who aren't nice have so much?" But they really don't have anything at all...they don't have their Bedford falls community.

Manny the Train Conductor NEVER would have cared about Mr. Potter. 

As lonely and isolating and sad as a period of unemployment can be, I have never, for a second, been alone.

I get that now. And I am grateful.

Diana Rissetto