Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Only in New York...

Over the past several months, I couldn't help but follow along as a friend of mine was being rather beaten up in the press. (And by "press" I mean "really stupid online blogs run by people we should not care about.")

The friend is somebody I have spoken about a lot on here, stage and screen actor Cheyenne Jackson. I always reflect back on our random meeting over ten years ago and remember that everything always happens for a reason! I was an enthusiastic little intern working at a Broadway office that came home crying most days. What got me through that entire summer was knowing that when the show I was working on performed at Broadway in Bryant Park, I'd get to stand under the air-conditioned tent with the Broadway performers. 

I waited the entire summer for that tent. I knew that tent was going to be magical, and the thought of that tent is what kept me going to work every day.

I must have manifested that tent being special, because, in the end, it was--that was the day I started talking to a very tall, friendly, unknown "chorus boy" that I felt an immediate kinship with and had a feeling that was supposed to become my friend. I was definitely right. So many years later, I love this guy and always call him an older brother figure in my life. 

The guy's had a rough year, and I think there's nothing more catty, superficial people enjoy more than to watch somebody successful and well-loved struggle. I kept reading these nasty blogs, and I kept taking them personally. Don't they realize that's my boy they're talking about?!

The best revenge, they always say, is being happy and successful. I think Cheyenne is accomplishing just that. Last week, he performed at Carnegie Hall and opened the evening with "Something's Coming" from West Side Story (my all-time favorite musical!) and yesterday, I was so happy to be able to be at his solo show at Birdland Jazz Club.

I brought along three friends who aren't among my "theatre friends" at all. They came along because it sounded fun, and I was glad they did. And it was. (Fun. Lots of it.) 

The night was kicked-off with “Feelin’ Good” (Buble?! Who’s that?) and what followed was an hour-and-a-half of beautiful music, along with some seriously entertaining, funny and poignant story-telling. As he told the audience, Cheyenne’s had a particularly rough year, and channeled those emotions into writing some very thoughtful, poignant song, several of which he sang Monday night.
Cheyenne is definitely a versatile performer, even tackling some Katy Perry with a sensitive rendition of “Teenage Dream.” Christine Ebersole joined Cheyenne for a bouncy (complete with a bit of a cha-cha) duet with “Somethin’ Stupid” and we all had instant flashbacks of his star turn in “All Shook Up” when he sang Elvis Presley’s “A Little Less Conversation.” There was even a surprise original Christmas song (“Squeeze Me, It’s Christmas.”) Cheyenne came back for an encore, seamlessly weaving together “What a Wonderful World” and “Auld Lang Syne.”

A special evening of music with one truly special guy. He knows how to work a crowd, but, most importantly, he does what he does best when he’s on stage: he is himself. 

While I was watching the show last night, I laughed to myself and thought about how when they say "only in New York", they're probably talking about those times you randomly click with an unknown Broadway understudy in a park and then, after eleven years, you've been his plus one to see the President (no, really) and then you're cheering at his sold-out cabaret at a legendary club. Only in New York, indeed.

Also, I have stopped reading nasty gossip blogs. 

Diana Rissetto 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

If it's important to somebody you love, it should be important to you.

A few months ago, I felt incredibly upset and disappointed because several people really let me down. Something happened today that brought up these hurt feelings and I realized it was still bothering me very much.

I like to think I'm a really good friend and relative to have. I've been there for a lot of people for all of their happy events. I never miss anything unless I have to. I have been through periods of unemployment, but I'll always show up with a gift when I'm required to show up somewhere with a gift. I make a huge deal over everybody else's children, and I do feel like, when it comes to the kids, they're the ones who will always show the most love and appreciation. Kids know when you're good to them, even if their parents don't seem to notice.

I had a play premiere and, while it wasn't my first play, I did feel like it was my first big hit. It sold out. We added performances. We got standing ovations and mid-show applause and total strangers told me I was brilliant. Me.

But people that are important to me made no effort to be there. 

Sometimes being the sole single one in a group is crushingly difficult because you're completely overlooked and your achievements and milestones are never viewed as important as everyone else's--because they don't involve a wedding or a kid.

Who on earth is to say what is important?

If it is important to me, it should be important to the people that I love. They should have been there to support me, because I had always been there to support them, but they just let this major milestone in my life pass by without even really acknowledging it, or, at least, making up an excuse as to why they couldn't be there. They didn't even care enough to lie!

I just feel like their rationale was, "If your celebration doesn't involve a wedding or a child, you're just not as significant as the rest of us."

I was so upset, and don't quite feel the same around them anymore because I don't quite feel like they care about me as much as I've always cared about them.  

I do plan on  having a wedding and babies one day, but, until then, I have other things that mean so much to me and I would like the people I thought were closest to me to be there for me and not instead just think that wedding and baby showers and children's birthday parties (well, and funerals) are the only times we need the support of those close to us.

I go to all those events because they are important to the people I love and the people I love should have been there for the thing that was important to me.

I'm sad, and disappointed, and feel very taken for granted and overlooked. It's not a nice feeling.

I talked this over with a close friend. She shed some insight on it, and she made a lot of sense. She compared it to how when she used to perform in college, she always felt like the only kid who had no family traveling to see her. 

It's especially tricky when our art is such a public one. I had to start looking at it like "If my major was accounting I could get some good grade or a summer internship and my parents would pat me on the back and send me off. Why do the arts feel like a failure if my friends don't show up?" So, while I know that you feel like writing a play can sometime be as laborious as having a baby, maybe equate it to a job, instead. Everybody should be proud of your job. High fives and occasional congratulatory dinners are in order. Maybparades are a little much. And do you deserve a parade? Goshdarnit, yes. But I want you to be happy with a high five, because at the end of the day, it's your happiness affected, not theirs.

I should focus on all the people that were there and not even out of obligation--a friend from high school that I hadn't seen in years, girls from the retail job I worked at last year, a friend from college who traveled over an hour--but it hurts that I was overlooked by people I thought were so close to me. 

I'll remember this feeling and I now that, no matter how many weddings or babies I have, I'll never make anybody I care about feel this way. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

I'll never forget the 9th anniversary of 9/11

I was heading to a close friend's birthday dinner.

It was good to do something fun on a day that I usually just found myself watching MSNBC's "As It Happened" coverage. I do that every year. (This was actually the first year I didn't do just that...it was the first 9/11 that wasn't a weekend or when I wasn't working a 9 to 5 schedule in several years.)

I passed a little boy on a bicycle. He was probably six or seven.

I didn't know this kid, and he gave me a peace sign.

I reacted the only way I knew how...by giving him one back and promptly bursting into tears when he was out of view.

He wasn't alive in 2001. He never knew a world pre-9/11.

His sweet little face and his peace sign just filled me with the most overwhelming feeling of hope that I have ever felt, and I needed it, and I believe he was put in my path for a reason that day.

I will remember him every 9/11 for the rest of my life.

Diana Rissetto

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

If you look a little weird, it doesn't matter if there's a chance you made somebody smile.

I think the best compliments are the random ones, the ones that aren't coming from people who love you or anybody trying to be polite. Once, I was at church and I felt like I looked a mess, and this woman behind me told me I was really pretty. She didn't have to say that, so it was nice to hear. A few weeks ago, I had a new play premiere and on one particular night, the audience had many people close to me in it, as well as close relatives of the stars. After curtain call, a young woman approached me and said, "Are you the playwright? That play was AMAZING."

I thanked her (several times), asked her her name, and asked who she knew in the show...because, let's face it, if she didn't know me, she must have known somebody in the cast, because why else on earth would she be there?

She didn't know a single person in that show! She wasn't watching anybody she loved on stage!

She had no reason to think the show was amazing!

Her compliment truly meant the world to me.

The other day, I went to see a community production of The Diary of Anne Frank. (It was dessert theatre, which is a little weird. I mean, why do I get to sit there and eat cake while those people are on stage hiding for their lives and starving? So, so wrong.)

I am a The Diary of Anne Frank expert...I have seen my share of productions of The Diary of Anne Frank! This production was the first time I have ever walked-out going, "That actress who played Miep was FANTASTIC!"

(Who ever leaves The Diary of Anne Frank raving about Miep? I never have before. But this girl was REALLY GREAT!)

I sent this girl an email to tell her just that.

She sent me a lovely response, and I like to think that after she said to herself, "Wow, what a weirdo"...it made her very happy to hear how much I enjoyed her performance...because, seriously, who on earth DOES ever care about Miep? She has about 20 lines in the whole play.

I'm friends with a high school classmate on Facebook. I haven't seen him in years. I do not know his wife. But every time they post photos of their son, I have to "like" and comment because he has got to be one of the CUTEST kids I have ever seen in my life. I just want to squish him. He is a beautiful little boy and seems like he has the personality to match.

And, so, of course, I sent my old classmate's wife a message to tell her just that, and to comment on how lovely and happy her family looks.

Once again...I'm sure there was a moment of, "Okay, this girl's a little weird", but then I hope that it made her smile to get kind, unwarranted words from a stranger.

It's nice to do this. I think it's noticed. I think it's remembered. I want to do it more often.

Diana Rissetto

Saturday, August 3, 2013

On being a protective friend and hating Anne Hathaway

Around Oscar season, my friend and I were discussing Anne Hathaway and he pulled-out his phone to show me just how many things come-up if you Google something along the lines of "I hate Anne Hathaway."

So much came-up.

He explained to me why everybody hated Anne Hathaway. I don't even remember what he said...but there were plenty of scientific reasons. And he's a smart guy who works in the industry so I am sure he's right, but I've found that most people cannot even tell you why they hate Anne Hathaway...it just IS.

A few weeks ago, I was asked to write a short play for a Shakespeare festival, and what I ended-up pumping-out in about an hour is perhaps the dumbest thing I have ever written (or perhaps it is supposed to be the dumbest thing I have ever written) about the two Anne Hathaways (the one everyone apparently hates and the one that was married to Shakespeare.)

Some kind of a segue here...

Last week, a friend of mine that I just absolutely love and think the world of who is also a relatively known actor was all over the news for an unhappy reason.

With this news came numerous anonymous posts from people who don't even know him (and a lot of them even admitted they didn't even know who he was as an actor) attacking him, saying vicious, cruel things about him, starting rumors, making speculations that weren't true...and, for some reason, I took this backlash that wasn't even aimed at me oddly to heart and wanted to yell at all of them.

I had to back away anything resembling a gossip site (yes, I do check UsMagazine.com several times a day) and fully admit to posting a comment on People.com's article on the situation because so much of the commentary was just so hateful and vile that I HAD TO SAY SOMETHING.

I mean, don't they realize this is the guy I refer to as "my boy" and people automatically know who I am talking about??? This is somebody I met when he was a "nobody" (although I feel nobody is ever a nobody...) when he was new to New York and my "kindred spirit radar" (and, yes, my "kindred spirit radar" is quite fantastic!) went-off wildly, and it was SO right!

He's my buddy, I really care about him and want to protect him as much as I can being his wholesome, innocent little non-Hollywood pal.

Some acquaintances asked me for dirt on the situation, to which I snapped, said I was not his publicist and that it was none of my business.

I left a brief message with this friend along the lines of, "Love you, am praying for you and regarding all those stupid people saying judgmental things about you...eff 'em all" and tried to make it stop bothering me...but it really was oddly bothering me. I often boast about how my years in difficult situations here and there has left me a thick skin...but I guess I still have a really thin skin.

And the I realized something.

Anne Hathaway has friends that can go online and read nasty things people post about her, too.

Anne Hathaway also has people that love her that are getting upset and don't quite understand why it's bothering them so much because it's not even about them.

Anne Hathaway is a person. And it's not nice to hate somebody (whether you know them or not!) and say hateful things about them...online or anywhere.

I'm still bothered by everything that went-on with my friend, and People.com actually just posted another update and I refuse to read it, refuse to see any of those comments, and will do nothing besides send my good thoughts and wishes for peace for all involved.

Be kind to everybody. If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all (even if it's about Anne Hathaway.)

Diana Rissetto

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Okay, Josh Groban is just about the funniest and most random man in the world.

  1. Well that was a tremendous night out. What fun!! Stuffed but miiiight have room for an apple juice popsicle I made at home. #exciting #life
  2. This @calpizzakitchen salad is so good I'm worried if I go to the bathroom someone's gonna steal it!! #toomucharnoldpalmer #crime
  3. Well my salad is here and it is glorious. I won't take a pic because i don't want them to think I'm a fancy pants food blogger #cpk #life
  4. Waiter asked me how I was doing. I said good! #truth #dinner #shoes
  5. Gonna get a refill on the Arnold Palmer but that soup was filling, gonna get half a salad. #yolo
  6. Extra ice with this Arnold Palmer!! Cold drink, hot soup. Could this night be any better?? #nope
  7. Whaaaat a seat at the bar is open!!! It's like they opened this join just for me. I feel like a prince. A prince about to CHOW DOWN.
    1. Decided I'm gonna go to @calpizzakitchen and HELL YEAH I'm getting pea soup. #doingstuff #shoesareon
    2. I'm going out for dinner!!! What will I order? should I get an appetizer? I gotta find my shoes. I LOVE DOING STUFF!!!!

Friday, June 28, 2013

And you want to be my Facebook friend because......................?

The other night, I received a request on Facebook from somebody I was not friends with in high school. I have exactly one memory of this person, and seeing her name and photo brought back that memory like it had happened this morning.

For the most part, my high school experience was fine. I had a lot of friends, I did well in my Creative Writing classes and barely passed the Science ones. I'm still in touch with some of my close friends, and several of my teachers come to my plays.

But this one memory. This flashback. This person. We sat at the same lunch table, but never had a conversation.

We were in the 9th grade. Algebra. A classmate handed me a note that she had found, highlighting a paragraph that was about "Diana." (Looking back, I think it was pretty messed-up that that girl would highlight the note and give it to me...what was she looking to accomplish? But this isn't about her.)

It said, "Diana has frizzy hair, obese legs and thighs and the worst sense of fashion. She shops at Motherhood Maternity."

The note went-on to trash every single girl at our lunch table (two of which were my good friends. I barely knew the girl who wrote the note at all, or the friend she gave it to.) She was extremely nasty, attacking ALL of our appearances/fashion/bodies/hair/voices.

She even made fun of the fact that one girl had a family on welfare.

We confronted her at lunch. She claimed she did not write that note! Her stalker did! (Oh COME ON.)

While I rolled my eyes and said that was the stupidest thing I had ever heard and how the heck did she expect us to believe that, one of the other girls (the one on welfare) said, "She is my FRIEND! She wouldn't DO THAT to me." (It was actually quite sad and naive.)

I went home and sobbed about this note, my fat legs and thighs and my frizzy hair and my maternity clothes. (And if I REALLY wore maternity dresses, how can anybody even KNOW what my thighs looked like?)

That is my only memory of that girl. We weren't friends. We never had the same class. But this is what I remember about her.

So many years later, I know I have gorgeous hair. People stop me on the street on a daily basis to tell me that I do. I wear nice clothes (that are a size 2. And not from Motherhood Maternity.) My legs aren't fat; my legs are muscular and I am still very self-conscious about them, but they get me where I need to do.

But then I got that Facebook friend request and I remembered everything about that day and wondering why on earth this girl would be so hateful as to tear-down a tablefull of perfectly nice 14-year-old girls that were just doing their best.

And, might I ask, if we were all so ugly/weird/poor/fat...why did she want to sit at our table?

And now you're adding me on Facebook?


I accepted her Friend Request. Not sure why. Maybe because subconsciously, I know I (and my hair) look great in my current photos. I post about things like my new plays premiering. I have a photo of myself and my drop-dead handsome celebrity friend meeting the President together. I've done well for myself, to the blind Facebook eye.

She's married, with a child, and in her wedding photos, the girl who wrote that horrible note to was her Maid-of-Honor.

I wonder if they're still passing snarky notes saying ugly things about other people. Maybe they've grown-up. Maybe they've changed. I hope so.

I'm glad I'm so sensitive. I would never be so cruel and hurt somebody that much. I'd rather be on the receiving end than know I caused somebody so much pain.

Diana Rissetto

Thursday, April 4, 2013

A Review: Michael Feinstein and Peter Cincotti and Carnegie Hall! (Could there be a more perfect NYC moment?)

Some (a lot of?) back story is required in order for this review to make any sense so readers can understand why watching Michael Feinstein and Peter Cincotti on stage together (sadly, the only thing the concert missing was a duet…I expect one the next time) was a bit like Christmas for me.

When I was a child and living in New York City, my family wasn’t in the car much…but when we were, we listened to a lot of Michael Feinstein (and Sinatra and showtunes and Mandy Patinkin.)

My sister had a Walkman. My sister escaped being brainwashed by our parents’ taste in music, and, therefore, my sister escaped becoming a very young 85-year-old, as I have been for most of my life.

My sister was normal. 

My father passed away when I was a teenager, and some things always triggered memories of him and would make me particularly sad…particularly baseball movies, Revolutionary War battle re-enactments (what?) and Michael Feinstein’s voice.  It reminded me of being a kid and being safe and being in my dad’s car on the way to someplace special…(usually New Jersey!)

I couldn’t listen to Michael Feinstein for a long time after my dad died.

I found myself working “on Broadway”as an assistant to a producer and a publicist for several years, living a life one could very much compare to Ugly Betty, and one very magical day I learned my office was going to be doing the publicity for Michael Feinstein’s musical All About Me.

My co-workers weren’t familiar with Michael and were confused as to why I was so excited.(They must have had Walkmans when they were kids..)

On the first night of performances, a mock talent show was held, and I was pulled from the audience to sing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” as Michael played the piano. It might have been one of the silliest things I have done that month, but I was standing on a Broadway stage as Michael Feinstein played the piano and I sang the theme song from the movie I watched every day as a little kid.

(Did I mention I was also wearing a huge Elvis wig? The older man next to me had a Lady Gaga wig on.) 

That was pretty awesome. I had come a long way from that little girl in that car.

Backstory part 2 begins when I worked at Barnes and Noble in college and they would play the same three albums over (and over) again on a loop. One month, it was Peter Cincotti. And listening to the album at work wasn’t enough…I bought it and listened to it constantly at home, too. I made everybody around me listen to him as well. There was something about him that was very special. He was a young, cute Italian kid who I thought sounded like Harry Connick, Jr. at the time, and that normally would have been enough for me, but even at 18, I recognized that he was a completely brilliant musician and songwriter. I think it was when I read an interview with him in which he said that he wished he was around in a day and age when people would go-out to dinner and wear nice hats, as well as when I learned that he, too, lost his father as a child (and documented the emotions in a song) that I felt that besides being a brilliant talent, Peter Cincotti was also a kindred spirit.

In 2007, I heard Peter’s song “Cinderella Beautiful” for the first time, and found myself fixated on one of the lines. “You know I don’t like Christmas.” This line inspired an entire play…my Pigeons, Knishes and Rockettes, which became my off-Broadway debut. I’ll always feel very grateful to Peter for the inspiration. (In case the title isn't obvious, it was a sweet, happy NYC love story set during the holidays. The main character's name was Peter...I really tried changing it, but I found I couldn't.)

I see Peter whenever he’s performing in the city…(He's in Europe a lot. Italians have good taste, he’s very popular over there!) and every show is better than the last. He’s absolutely captivating to watch and it’s been fun watching him grow-up from 18.

When I heard these two men would be appearing at Carnegie Hall together, I knew I couldn’t miss it, and that it would likely be one of the best experiences I have ever had in a theatre…

…and I wasn’t disappointed at all. In fact, it was even better than I thought.

Michael and Peter sang songs from the Shapiro Bernstein catalog, with Michael telling tales of the catalog’s history. Michael Feinstein certainly knows his stuff, and he’s also hilariously funny at times (I’m notorious for laughing a very loud, “HA!” at very random things, and I did so many times at this show.)

The lady next-to-me…who was probably in her 50’s…joked to me that she and I were the “youngest people in the room.” (She wasn’t far-off.) I’m pretty sure Peter WAS the youngest in the room. (You know who else was in the room? Tony Danza. He’s a big supporter of Peter’s work. He’s got excellent taste.)

And the standards…oh, the standards! Michael performed “Melancholy Baby”, “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square” and “The Way You Look Tonight”, among many others in that beautiful, clear voice.

(I also melted when I noticed the older couple in front of me reached for the other’s hand when he sang “Let Me Call You Sweetheart”. Isn’t that what it’s all about?)

When he introduced the young Mr. Cincotti, Peter came-out and joked that he dared not talk like he knows anything about music when he’s in a room with Michael Feinstein who “probably knows what kind of shampoo Cole Porter used”…(“It was Prell”, Feinstein quipped.)

Peter opened with “Until the Real Thing Comes Along” and then went on to sing his “favorite World War II love song” “White Cliffs of Dover”. (Hold on! I thought I was the only person of my generation who HAD a favorite World War II love song!) He also debuted a new original song of his called “Heart of the City”, another love song…to Manhattan. (Look out, Billy Joel, there’s a new pianoman on the block singing about the city…and he’s quite remarkable.)

Watching these two guys on stage, both of which have very much impacted me personally and artistically, was a very special experience for me…and when it’s combined with some of the most beautiful music ever written and performed, which has stood the test of decades in a place like Carnegie Hall…well, what could really be any
more magical?

I ran into a friend of mine…another youngster…at the show. We emailed that night, and I feel the need to quote him:

We are among the few non-octogenarian bastions of good taste. Looking out at that sea of silver hair, the White Cliffs of Zankel, I found myself a little depressed. Who will carry the torch?  I don't mean the performers, for they will always be there. The audiences. Who will fill the seats? Sigh. 

That made me sad to read that and consider that he’s probably right…but I also consider myself one of the lucky ones that I appreciate this music so much.

I’m so glad I didn’t have a Walkman on those cartrips. I’m so glad I know all of these songs by heart, and as long as guys like Feinstein and Cincotti keep on doing what they do best, there will be plenty of people falling in love with and (and perhaps with the help of!) their music.

An absolutely gorgeous and lovely night of music. I’ll never forget it.

Diana Rissetto

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

I was pretty sure Ben Affleck was talking to me during his Oscar speech last month...

You have to work as hard as you possibly can. You can’t hold grudges—it’s hard, but you can’t hold grudges. It doesn’t matter how you get knocked down in life, because that is going to happen. All that matters is that you have got to get up.

He really could have come-right out and said, "Hey, Diana Rissetto, I know you're out there watching this and sappy Oscar speeches are among your favorite things in the entire world, so this one is for you, since I know you've gotten knocked-down many times over the past couple of years, professionally/personally/romantically etc. etc. etc. and I KNOW how you tend to hold grudges sometimes and can't let go of people and memories that have really hurt you, and writers are hyper-sensitive and extra-emotional people (because Ben Affleck knows) but you just have to make like that Don Henley song 'Heart of the Matter' and let it all go, Diana, because you're better than that and capable of so many great things!"(He's such a good guy, that Ben.)

Ever since I had this conversation with my friend which I wrote about here (http://www.dianagolightly.blogspot.com/2013/02/maybe-hes-right.html), combined with Ben's speech, I've reframed my thinking a bit and a few things have happened once I stopped obsessing and worrying so much.

Last week, I saw somebody who pretty much broke my heart/sucked-out my soul/crushed my spirit/destroyed my confidence.

I did something Ben would have disapproved of, and I held a grudge regarding this person for years.

I would see this person about town and I'd hide, feel sick and let it ruin my night.

I would even immediately judge people who shared the same first name as this person.

But when I saw this person last week, I said out loud, "I'm going to go right over to him and give him a very warm hello. He doesn't own this city."

I did that, and, honestly, going up to somebody that hurt you that much and being kind to them and smiling (and not in a snarky way) is probably the hardest thing you will ever do...

...but it also makes you feel like you can conquer the world after you've done so.

If I can do THAT, I can do ANYTHING (and "anything" includes writing our generation's answer to Annie Hall.)

So, after I did this, and walked-off into the city night all by myself, I WAS kinda hoping that a sidewalk saxophone player would have appeared, playing "Heart of the Matter"  ("There are people in your life who've come and gone/They let you down, you know they hurt your pride/You better put it all behind you , 'cause life goes on/ If you keep carryin' that anger, it'll eat you up inside") for me, and imagined giving Ben Affleck a high-five, as I just kept going (what else can you really do?)

I tend to trip a lot in the street. I like wearing high heels, but I'm also hard on my shoes and they are always falling apart. (My mother constantly yells at me for that and says people will most certainly judge me for my shoes always falling apart. I'm sure she's right, but I just accepted a while ago that it is just my lot in life to never own a pair of shoes that don't fall apart).

I didn't trip that night (you know, after I high-fived Ben Affleck as my sidewalk saxophonist played Don Henley), but if I HAD tripped...I would have gotten right back up...because that's all that matters.

Diana Rissetto

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Part 543 of "My GOSH, that Peter Cincotti is spectacularly talented!"

Yes, I go on and on about how great this guy is. No, I'm not his publicist, or a family member, even though I'm pretty sure Peter assumes I am a cousin because who ELSE would that friendly, enthusiastic, Italian-American-looking brunette he sees at all his New York shows BE?

I was going to pass on Tuesday night's concert at the Highline, but then two things happened...1.) I was hired on the spot for a new job that afternoon and realized I should celebrate and 2.) I realized I just wanted to see him perform. Because it's Peter Cincotti. And, although I saw him just a month ago, every show is greater than the last.

On my way into the concert, there was a couple with a young boy doing math puzzles. I overheard the woman say to the kid, "You know our Peter Cincotti story, right?" The young boy didn't look terribly interested, but said that he did, and I said, "I would love to hear your Peter Cincotti story!"

It turns-out this couple got ENGAGED at a Peter Cincotti show (at the Algonquin Hotel) over ten  years ago! Peter (and I) were merely teenagers back then.

I have no idea why, but I found that story delightful and wonderful and told them so. Just like I usually do, I made friends with this family. I mentioned my new job, and the lady commented that I had reason to celebrate at Peter's show that night, and I told her that, unfortunately, I probably wouldn't be getting engaged that evening.

She glanced over at her son and apologized that he wasn't old enough for me.

The following happened a couple of years ago, and in typical Jersey boy/girl fashion, the story made numerous appearances on my Facebook feed...

Here is Bruce Springsteen crashing an engagement photoshoot.


With all due respect to the Boss, Peter Cincotti performing at one's engagement trumps all else. Seriously.

I didn't talk to this couple after the show (which was, of course, phenomenal....as always...but everybody is, I am sure, tired of my rave reviews of this guy), but I hope when they heard his voice live, they remembered that special day over a decade a go.

Since it's too late for Peter's song "Forever and Always" to be played at their wedding, I would like to suggest that Peter play this song at my own wedding (whenever that might be.)


At the concert, I was standing next to several young people who were clearly friends of Peter and their enthusiasm over each number was absolutely lovely and very contagious. Now, I have had several of my original plays produced. I am never onstage, but pacing in the back, waiting and praying for people to laugh. I have been blessed with many extremely supportive and enthusiastic friends of my own, who come to cheer me on at every play, but, unfortunately,  it's not appropriate to go too wild with cheers and hoots and hollers during  a play. (If any of my friends are reading this, please attempt to cheer crazily during actual scenes my next play. This might sound out-of-place if it's the one about the Holocaust, but let's see what you can do. Thank you.) The energy of Peter's friends made me smile, especially since they've probably been cheering so wildly for him ever since around the time that lovely couple got engaged at the Algonquin.

And who can blame them? Personal connection to the young man or not, he's just so good! So, so, so GOOD.

Diana Rissetto

Monday, March 4, 2013

Even my dreams are like dopey romantic comedies now!

Last night, I had a dream that I was working in a stationary store. (This would have been a dream come TRUE for 12-year-old Diana who had a pen pal in every state and loved stationary. I still miss writing letters.)

The One That Got Away (who I genuinely haven't even thought about in a while) and his girlfriend (who I never met) came into the store to shop for wedding invitations.

I bet in the Romantic Comedy extended version of this story, I would be Rachel McAdams, he'd be James Franco, the girlfriend would be Emma from Glee and then they'd feel obligated to awkwardly invite me to the wedding and I'd fall in love with one of the ushers. (Who would be played by Ryan Gosling, and then this would be the adorable story behind Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams getting back together. It's what everybody wants for them, isn't it?)


Or do I just go get a job at a stationary store? Is that what it means?

Diana Rissetto

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Maybe he's right...

I have a very wise (so wise beyond his years that I often forget he's actually a few months younger than me) friend that I've known for several years and we have gone through some very specific, odd things together, and have spent a lot of time with each other. I got used to having this guy just a few feet away from me all day, and when that situation ended, it was a bit of an adjustment for me to make, but friends like that never really leave you.

A couple of weeks ago, he lectured me. He lectures a lot. And even if he might not feel like I always listen to him and take his advice, I do. I definitely do.

It's not a secret to anybody that knows me that the past few years? Have had some severe ups-and-downs. And, many times, I admit, I have wondered, "If I am REALLY as funny and talented and smart and great and cute as everybody seems to TELL me I am, WHY ISN'T IT ANY EASIER? People who aren't all those things seem to have it all! The great jobs! The houses! The relationships!"

While I have never right-out said this to him, I think he knows that's what's going through my head, and he said something to me that I admit I wrote down and plan to reread frequently whenever I'm feeling discouraged.

"Do you think your life is supposed to be EASIER because you're brilliant and creative and can do something (write, not sing) SO WELL? NO! Life is going to be HARDER because you're like that. Life is going to be SCARIER."

I thought about that for a long time. I'm still thinking about it. I'm pretty sure he's right. (Plus, it's always nice when somebody whose opinion you highly value tells you you're brilliant and talented.)

I think everything is going to be more than okay.

Diana Rissetto

There is a reason why...

...Prince William always WAS, hands-down, my favorite Windsor boy, but now I equally love both brothers.

And that reason is photos like this:

Prince Harry is dancing with deaf children.

This girl named after his mom approves!

Diana Rissetto

Friday, February 22, 2013

When I heard about Josh Brolin and Diane Lane's divorce...

...the first thing I thought of was, "Oh, they sat next to Adrien Brody when he won his Oscar and congratulated him!"

Let's revisit that moment and the following speech.

Adrien was darn adorable, and that award was so well-deserved!


Diana Rissetto

Friday, February 15, 2013

I believe Woody Allen would have a field day with this story...

Everybody (whoever "everybody" is) knows the running joke that despite my Italian last name, the crucifix dangling around my neck and the fact that I say things like, "I'm off to church now!", people always assume I am Jewish.


When I'm in public, I get approached constantly by Jewish people on holidays (there's this one where they hand-out something that looks like lemons to fellow Jews. I once had two young men trip over themselves to get to me), Jewish moms talk to me in the supermarket to tell me about their sons, and the other day, I was at a work event with a friend and a man asked me, of nowhere, "Do you go to Shul?" I said, "I'm not Jewish." He said, "...so you DON'T go to Shul?"

No, I don't!

On Wednesday, I wandered around waiting for Mass to start so I could get my ashes for Ash Wednesday. I walked past the NYU Catholic Center several times...they were handing-out fliers with information about their Ash Wednesday services.

They seemed to be giving fliers out to everybody but  me.


They thought I was Jewish, didn't they?

On Jewish holidays, everybody thinks I am Jewish. On Catholic holidays, everybody thinks I am Jewish.

After I finally got my ashes, I walked over to meet a friend (who actually is Jewish...) and was stopped by a perfectly-cute-in-a-Justin-Long-kinda-way-but-he-was-smoking-a-cigarette-and-that-is-my-dealbreaker-guy.

He said, "Is it Ash Wednesday, ALREADY?" I nodded.

Him: See, I'm a Jew!

Me: (Laughs) Well, people always THINK I'm a Jew!

Him: Both of your parents are Catholic?

Me: Yeah.

Him: So you're not Jewish at all?

Me: Nope.

Him: It's okay, though. Jesus was born Jewish, right?

Me: He was!

Him: So. What are your thoughts on the Pope?

It was terribly kinda cute. When we parted ways, I told him to have a nice Passover and then shook my head and laughed...did I really  just get approached by a Jewish guy on Ash Wednesday who tried to use those ashes as a conversation starter? What kind of a Woody Allen cut scene is my life?

Diana Rissetto

Monday, February 11, 2013

Something like perspective

Last week, I found myself getting dressed to go to the funeral of a very young and very great person.

I think there's a special, horrible feeling in your gut that only doing so can bring.

The church was packed and I stood in the back and was able to see all the faces of all the people who loved this young man. Everybody cried, everybody laughed, everybody talked about what a wonderful person he was. (I know nobody will ever show-up at a funeral and say otherwise, but this time was different.)

I realized that even if you had less than 40 years to live, when you have a standing room funeral, filled with laughter and tears, you've lived those years right. No matter what.

I have spent a lot of time and energy over the past several years worrying about insignificant things and people that don't deserve it. I don't want to worry about all of that anymore. I just want to be the kind of person that is so loved and nobody has a bad thing to say about. That's all I want...

I won't say my cousin's death put things into perspective, because that's kinda trite...but it is something like perspective. I think about how everybody was talking about how this guy was always smiling, even though he spent the past 9 years of his life diagnosed with a terminal illness...and, is it that easy? That simple to just smile and be happy as much as possible?

 I'll leave the "perspective" to those "starving children in China" lectures.

It's more along the lines of, "If we're going to be going through something really rough...illness, unemployment, divorce, etc. etc. etc."...how much different would it be if we could go through it all with a smile on our face?

I think I am going to remember this every day of my life.

Diana Rissetto

Monday, February 4, 2013

This boy is on fire...

If you were to stumble upon on any of the ramblings I have posted on Peter Cincotti here over the past six years, your thought might be, "How cool that Peter Cincotti's grandmother blogs! She has to be well in her 80's!"

I can't help it...when it comes to Peter Cincotti, I say things like, "He is SUCH a lovely and talented young man...(I always say "young man" instead of "guy"...doesn't it just sound so much better?) I am so proud of him!" (even though I do not know him.)

When I was in college, I first heard that velvety voice. Like myself, Peter was an Italian-American kid from New York City, and, also like myself, he lost his dad as a teenager (and documented his emotions in a song). I believe it was when I read an interview with him in which he said something like, "I wish I was around in the 1940's when people would go-out to dinner and wear nice hats" when I knew that this was definitely somebody I was going to be a fan of for a long, long time. Peter's song "Cinderella Beautiful" has a line about not liking Christmas...and that inspired me to write the play which would become my off-Broadway debut. I love when things come full circle, and the beauty of writing anything and releasing it into the world is never knowing who you are going to inspire.

Peter performed at Le Poisson Rouge on Friday night. It's down-the-block from my elementary school and a very fun spot in the Village.  (And if there must be a "two item minimum" for a concert, I'm just glad there's also really good mac 'n cheese on the menu.)

As I was waiting on line to go in, I made some friends (as I always do wherever I go...my friend recently said to me, "I have never randomly made a friend by talking to a stranger in public, and I feel like that is how you have met the majority of people you know") and also listened in on a conversation going-on behind me. Several people were exchanging, "How I Am Related to Peter Cincotti" stories. (I should have jumped-in and said I was his grandma.) Just like I feel every time I go to Peter's shows, the audience seemed to be full of people who are friends with him, or share bloodlines with him, and I am thoroughly confused as to why he hasn't sold-out Radio City Music Hall yet. I'm not complaining...I love that he does shows in tiny venues, with his piano a few feet away, for $15...but, seriously! New York City and the REST of the world take note...this kid's amazing! (Sidenote: I'm pretty sure Peter just assumes that friendly brunette girl that comes to all his shows must be some kind of a cousin.)

Peter sang songs from his new album, Metropolis, as well as debuted a song called "Half of You."

(After hearing this song, I admit I wondered if his previous break-up song "Take a Good Look" was actually written from the OTHER person's point-of-view! He gets rather personal in his songs. He and Taylor Swift should date just because we'd probably get some really terrific songs out-of that break-up.)

He ended the show with an older song, "Witch's Brew" , and, holy COW, watching that guy's HANDS at that piano is just a magical experience. (And I am somebody who has seen Harry Connick perform many times.)

Peter told dorky stories and jokes, and I feel like he's definitely grown-up a lot since the first time I saw perform (as most young men do between 23 and 29.)  He's so comfortable and charming with a crowd, seems mature beyond his years, but, at the same time, when he's at that piano, he just seems like a little kid doing something he really, really loves to do...and to be able to watch that is just a pleasure.

I would love to collaborate with him one day. I'm not sure what the project would be...but nice hats will definitely be involved.

He's got four CD's...check-him out and understand why I sing his praises like a proud grandma.

Diana Rissetto

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Sometimes, there just aren't any words and a song does instead...

When you work retail, there are often songs that are played over and over and over again.

I have been working part-time in a clothing store for a few months, and a song called "Wonderful the Way I Feel" has been on the loop since then. The music is very pretty, and if you don't really listen to the lyrics, you can't really tell what it's about.

I actually listened to the lyrics today.

It sounds like it's about a man dying after a long, painful disease and going to a place where there is no pain. 

It's appropriate, given what has happened in my family this week. 

I have gone through more than my share of watching people die of long, painful diseases. My dad died when I was a junior in high school. He was sick for over a year. Four years ago, the man who was the closest thing I had to a dad, my uncle, met a similar fate. You get to the point where you just get so sick of watching people die.

Cancer SUCKS.

My cousin, who became my cousin nearly nine years ago when he married my cousin, died this week. He was only 38. He was given 3-6 months to live...and he fought and fought and fought. He had twins this year. He always had a smile on his face. I remember once somebody describing him as a young man out of another era, perhaps the 1940's. He and I definitely have that in common.

It's heartbreaking, and unfair, but I am so, so grateful that I was able to know, let alone be related to such a strong, inspirational warrior.  When I think about the smile that was almost always on his face, I realize that none of us have any excuses. Ever.

As trite as it is to say, "At least he's not suffering anymore..." he's not. And that's important. And he touched and inspired every person he met, and that is what matters, and I know his spirit will live-on in his beautiful sons.

I hope wherever he is, he's feeling wonderful. 

"Wonderful (The Way I Feel)"

It matters to me
Took a long time to get here
If it would have been easy
I would not have cared

Like a tropical forest
Like a cop on the beat
When all is in order
You get lost in the heat

I feel so wonderful, wonderful, wonderful the way I feel
I feel so wonderful, wonderful, wonderful the way I feel

Doesn't matter to me
I could take it or leave it
I could learn from way back when
And still live right now

With the sun on my shoulder
And the wind in my back
I will never grow older
At least not in my mind

I feel so wonderful, wonderful, wonderful the way I feel
I feel so wonderful, wonderful, wonderful the way I feel
So wonderful, wonderful the way I feel
I feel so wonderful, wonderful, wonderful the way I feel

I'm going where there ain't no fear
I'm going where the spirit is near
I'm going where the living is easy
And the people are kind
A new state of mind

I'm going where there ain't no police
I'm going where there ain't no disease
I'm going where there ain't no need
To escape from what is
Only spirits at ease