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It’s been a little while since an update so here goes (and where to start??).  I believe in my last post I had mentioned how I would be soon starting to work for a new dog walking company.  Due to my work related injury (all the way back last December!), this plan got scratched.  In the end, it is so obviously for the best it would have been a committed Mon.-Fri. day job, which would make it difficult to do films, have day rehearsals, and go on many auditions, and many other necessities towards my acting career.  What I WILL be doing instead is freelance babysitting, cat sitting, background work, and doing freelance errands.  I have taken actions towards all of these and have plans and appointments laid out for the weeks ahead, and am excited about doing work I enjoy that also gives me the complete flexibility needed to continue building my acting career.  I won’t be going back to waiting tables as I am physically unable, but even if that were a current possibility, I wouldn’t as I don’t want to ever risk this type of injury through that work again. It has been a LONG 5 months of recovery;  I’ve been going to PT consistently since February, and my physical therapist is GREAT (wonderful positive energy), but quite frankly I’m over it!  I have an appointment with my orthopedic surgeon on the 14th, so I’ll give a further update after that.  I am certainly not bed ridden (by any stretch of the imagination); it’s that certain actions (lifting, carrying, specific range of motion) will still bring pain after a short period of use (or sometimes immediately).  So I keep doing my PT sessions, at home stretches, etc, but I have long mentally and physically moved on to “OK, what can I do with where I am at now.”

 

 

Speaking of, my classes have or are coming to an end (one more Alexander Technique class left for the quarter).  My monologue audition class was fantastic in so many ways, not just with the technique but even more importantly in the details that most don’t think about.  How you walk in the room, when do you say hello, how do you close the door, how you smile, don’t step back at the end when saying “thank you,” etc.  My classmates were/are AWESOME, and with some I have joined a weekly rehearsal group to meet with so that we can get feedback on what we are currently working on, which is SO HELPFUL–and  I especially love supporting these truly wonderful new friends of mine in the same way.  While the class was still in session, it required a fairly large time commitment and so I was selective about what I was submitting for (castings wise).  Now, however, I’m submitting for any and all that I could possibly fit for and interests me, as is Jack.  Last Sunday was particularly great because Jack and I both had 3 auditions each (all of mine were theatre based and his were all film based).  It looks likely that Jack will be doing one of the films, in which case he will be shooting on location in New Jersey for 4 days in June.  One of my auditions  granted me membership into their theatre company, which  does consistent work year round (full plays and one acts, etc); looking forward to working with them and learning a lot!  Jack has also been going on EPAs, which haven’t given him a chance to audition yet, but he is persistent.

 

 

My plan is to join Jack in going to EPAs as soon as I update my headshots;  I asked the advice of an off-Broadway casting director that I know, and they are truly in DIRE need of updating since they just don’t look like I do now.  I want my first impression at the EPAs to be that of a professional who takes my work seriously, thus the waiting until I have the new headshots.  My “official” goal is to have them by September 15th, although I’ve already gotten the ball rolling so it is likely I will have them much sooner.  As they are pretty costly, I am gathering a list of those that are recommended and whose work I like, then setting up appointments for consultations/interviews before making my decision.

 

 

Let’s see, what else??…the steriods I was on for my herniated disc added a nice (not-so-nice) sack of potatoes weight to my body, so I am working out on a regular basis now.  Regular means at least 5 times a week at the gym, and on non-gym days, at least a 30 minute walk. At the gym I am only doing the elliptical as it provides a good cardio workout but is also low-impact on my body and so doesn’t effect herniated disc.  The Alexander Technique work I’ve been doing has helped a LOT in this regard, too, because I am constantly checking in with my body:  where am I touching the earth, am I holding my breath, is there any tension in my body, where is the back of my head (critical for me as it helps me to allow it to go back rather than forward, which puts strain on my neck and shoulders); release, soften, head up an out, etc.  The exercise has been GREAT for my spirit and daily perspective.  Jack and I are both focusing on eating *mostly* vegetarian (he has actually swayed this way by no prompting by me), although there have been a few rare exceptions but only with “organic, humanely raised (MOST important!), properly fed, hormone and antibiotic free” eggs and beef.  Mainly dark green leafy vegetables and multi-colored produce remains the goal.

 

 

We are currently in our last three months in this apartment!  Seems strange although I am READY for us to finally have our OWN place, where we will not move again for quite a while.  I’m ready to paint and decorate and build our own home.  We will stay in Astoria although we are flexible as to what exact street/area.  I would kind of prefer Ditmars as it seems a bit quieter, plus the trains are always running there (whereas there has been a lot of construction and rerouting at our current stop).   I’ve been periodically keeping a lookout, although we won’t start seriously looking until probably the middle of June.  We would LIKE to avoid using a broker, but are not limiting ourselves to owner-rented only, as we have pretty specific desires for what we want and thus want to have access to all of the options possible.

 

 

Alright, that’s the update!  Kind of an informal post (I’m not going to go back to reread and edit), but it’s been a while so I wanted to just get it out.   Maybe for June I will do another 30 day challenge where I post at least once a day…the last time I did that in January, it really inspired me and evoked a lot of big changes and positive action that were REALLY good for me and my life.:)

 

 

OK I will send you off with a couple of pictures from Jack’s 46th birthday dinner in April!  We ate at this beautiful little place called Locale in Astoria.  Amazingly delicious food and surprisingly inexpensive (another good reason to live in Astoria!).

 

 

PS–I lied, I had to edit (or actually add to) this post!  I completely forgot to share about the theatre AWESOMENESS that I have been so blessed to see lately!  First, we saw War Horse the day after Jack’s birthday (it was a gift that I had bought tickets for back in December).  The crazy thing about that show was that I bought first row mezzanine…like that is what I specifically selected and paid for.  I don’t know what the heck happened, but we ended up in our own personal row, FIRST row (as in FIRST first) center!!!! We literally had THE best seats in the entire theatre (even one of the ushers commented on it).   I cannot do this show justice by even attempting to give it a review, so I will just say that it was worth EVERY single penny.  I also get offers for free shows when I am registered at ESPA, and so I got to see Primary Stages, “Morini Strad,” “Jesus Christ Superstar” at the Neil Simon Theatre, and Second Stage’s, “Lonely I’m Not” thanks to ESPA.  My absolute favorite out of all of those (that I just saw last night in fact) was “Lonely I’m Not.”  I’m so impressed and inspired with everything that I’ve seen Second Stage put up.  In addition to being a member of TDF (through which I can get discount tickets), a lot of my acting friends have been sharing other resources, one of which gets me tickets almost for free.  Thanks to this particularly awesome resource, I got to see Tennessee Williams, “In Masks Outrageous and Austere” at the Culture Project in the Village.  Only in NYC can I see 3 shows in one week for almost nothing, one of them being a Tennessee Williams world premiere!  How incredible is my life!  Not only that, but my seats for both “In Masks” and “Lonely I’m Not” were BOTH 2nd row!!!  Hot damn, knock on wood, I’ve got some serious theater seat karma lately…maybe I should play the lottery!

Happy Birthday, Jackie!

My incredible pasta dinner–that’s a beet sauce!

Dylan says, “Chow!”

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“Success demands singleness of purpose.”

–Vince Lombardi

One of the books I am reading recently is a never-before-released Napoleon Hill book titled, “Outwitting the Devil.”  It is considered a controversial book in the “New Thought” realm, and in fact he and then his wife and later nephew’s did not want to publish it for this exact reason. It wasn’t until the nephew’s wife died that it was then published in 2011, approximately 73 years later.

Those that know me well know that a belief in a physical devil, red-skinned, horned, and pitched forked does not at all exist in my world of reality.  And Hill I feel rides the fence here and is perhaps purposely ambiguous, perhaps to be heard/understood by all parties.  One could read this book as religious, spiritual, or psychological, and all three I find challenge by beliefs and understandings up until now…which is exactly what appeals to me.  I find the parallels of ideas in Steven Pressfield‘s, ” The War of Art” to be striking, which is significant to me personally since I just “happened upon” both of these books.

I’m not going to give a full on book report or dissertation, but want to note something specific that struck me.  In this book, he states how “definiteness of purpose” is the key to being a “non-drifter,” how to succeed in one’s life.  He defines “hypnotic rhythm” as a natural law, which is then how the majority (he states 98%) fall into the habits of “drifters” because of their indefiniteness, and how the other 2% of the population uses this law in collaboration with their definiteness of purpose to habitually live the life of the “non-drifter.”  You can easily know which you are currently (although you could be moving towards one or the other either by conscious decision and commitment) by taking a look at your life:  your finances, your health, your relationships, how you feel about your work, etc.  To be in the population of the 2% non-drifters, all areas of one’s life must contain the through line of one’s purpose.  The reason that there is such a large percentage of drifters is because most don’t consciously know or ask themselves (or believe that they can/are allowed) what their purpose is.  The truth, however, is that every single person has their own individualized purpose and that this purpose can be easily accessed;  all one really has to do is do that 2nd grade mantra: “Stop, Look, and Listen.”

I bring this up now not because this is new information to me, but because an “aha!” light went on this morning when pondering these concepts.  I was inspired to pull out the book I created from the Intentions Retreat I went on in 2010.  I flipped to the page of my “purpose statement” and reread what I wrote, comparing it with my current 2012 Intentions journal.  I’m not going to share what I wrote in 2010 here, as I am realizing there is power for me in keeping it to myself (much like one would in acting out a scene in theatre;  there is often more power in the unsaid and in the doing).  But I want to note that even at that time, there was a word in my statement that came to me, but looking back I get that it was too big for me to grasp and accept at the time (or better said, so I thought).  I remember battling with this word, bringing it up in the group, and even embarrassed and feeling that I was being completely brazen for even suggesting it (as in a “who am I kidding or trying to fool”).  I scratched the word out and changed it more than once (even in the final copy of my book).  In my 2011 and 2012 books, that word didn’t come back, and suddenly this morning while reading all of this I GOT IT. And I don’t know how quite to explain, other than in perhaps acting terms.  The purpose of one’s life is like their intention.  When you have a play, you have all kinds of beats, scenes, acts;  you can look at the whole of the play and you can break it up into these smaller and smaller chunks.  Each chunk can have its individualized tactic, but during the entirety of the play your character is going after one big SPECIFIC centralized intention/objective.  And it’s always about doing/action and it’s always about in order to affect outside of oneself.   Living one’s passion alone (with the focus on “what I will get from it”) will never lead to enduring success.  I focus on the word enduring because obviously it is possible to reach temporary success on passion alone, as we have seen with so many.  But only those who find and ground themselves in their purpose will be able to stay there.  For enduring success the focus must be on one’s purpose, which allows the freedom to continuously live out the passions.  The purpose is the intention of one’s life; the passion is the chosen method of joy in how this purpose is achieved (I say “chosen” although in truth the passion almost always “chooses” us).  While often the passion is what is initially ignited and then opens one’s eyes to their purpose (although if they access their life, they will usually see how they were already unconsciously living it), it is the purpose, not the passion, that must be so alive in a person that the stakes are then raised so high that they are  then free in the faith of said purpose.  This leads to the willingness to risk their full vulnerability(giving-ness) of self in the how of their tactic(s)/passion(s).

I probably could actually write an entire dissertation on this and go on and on and on (you know, like I just did), but for now I’m going to leave it at that.  I get that this understanding has come to light in conjunction with all of the recent action I have been taking in my life.  And now I get, as in GET get that Master Key that keeps that flame burning.  It was a question that had been rolling around in my brain for so long in frustration because I was only obtaining grasps of the answer in a very generalized way.

“The price of anything is the amount of life you

exchange for it.”

–Henry David Thoreau

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“To find joy in work is to discover the fountain of youth.”

–Pearl S. Buck

Jack and I have had a pretty fun full week!  Above is him in costume (before make-up) as a Texas cowboy for his Nokian Tires commercial shoot in Burlington, VT.  He had a blast and said that the cast and crew he worked with were all really great and that they said they definitely want to use him again in the future.  This was Jack’s first visit to Vermont (I’ve never been, either); he said the town was absolutely stunning and, according to the ad agency he worked with, when you plan a trip (as opposed to last minute flights), it is extremely affordable to visit.  Looks like perhaps a little get-away may be in our future!

Below are a couple of pictures he had taken during his time there.  The one in the bar was at the lodge where they did the shoot.  The next picture is him in front of the lodge, and the last is him exploring downtown Burlington shortly after arriving.

 

In other good news, I booked the Epix Cable promo!  I’ve been very selectively submitting right now because I have 4-5 weeks left of classes that I want to be fully committing to;  however a casting call came up looking for someone who knew Sign Language, and being that that really doesn’t happen very often, I really couldn’t pass it up.  I went for the quick audition on Friday afternoon and then got the call that I had been cast on Monday night.  So yesterday I spent all day in what felt like an awesome rendition of the Howard Stern Show.  The promo is going to be for the comedian Jim Norton who, if you know any of his work, can be pretty raunchy and over the top in a no holds barred kind of way.  It was a ridiculously fun shoot, Jim was super nice,  and it was  just a really great group of people  over all to spend the day with.  The crew was incredibly nice and fantastic to work with and I met some really interesting and fun actors and learned a lot.  Bonus that it was a paid job, my first paid gig in NYC (I previously did a PSA that was deferred payment, but that didn’t pan out).  I just have to add,too–since I’m such a foodie– that the catered food was really good; my favorite item they had on the buffet was the artichoke, potato and leeks soup–YUMMM!

Last little update; my neck and back have flared up a bit during the past week and I haven’t completely figured out what is causing it.  It started last week, but then seemed to improve, and then, for some unknown reason, came back again with a vengeance Saturday night.   I had so much fun during the shoot yesterday but my body was DONE by the end of it. The only thing I can think of is that my normal Physical Therapist has been out of town (he got a 2 week gig working with the Olympics team in California), and so it’s basically been the assistants that have been working with me.  Which means I haven’t had my normal traction, and to be honest I’m not very confident that they(the assistants) fully know what they’re doing. I think he is back today-I really really hope so!  I also saw my orthopedic surgeon  this past Monday and we decided the next step is cortisone (oral, not injections).  Currently I am on a 6 day pill pack  (I took 6 pills throughout the day yesterday, today will be 5, tomorrow 4, and so on).  My doctor said I should be feeling a lot better pretty quickly with these and I go back to see him again in 6 weeks.   My neck/shoulders/upper back area basically feel just really constricted and compacted and what I really wish is that I could get done is some good chiropractic sessions.  I may look into seeing if workman’s comp pays for this kind of treatment and if not I may just go out-of-pocket and make a few appointments to see if that helps to speed the recovery along more.  I’m also keeping track of my overall daily routine (what I eat, certain stresses, exercises, stretches, etc) to see what might be contributing to flare ups and what calms them down and creates openness and flexibility for my body.  I’m determined to keep moving forward and to be, in the not-so-distant-future, completely pain free.

 “You could stand here sick with ten illnesses today, and tomorrow have no evidence of any of them. Your body has the ability to replenish itself that fast. But most of you do not have the ability to change your thoughts that fast. So the amount of time that it takes between sickness and wellness is only the amount of time that it takes for me to figure out how to let it in — for me to figure out how to feel good, when I’m looking at something that makes me feel bad.”

–Abraham Hicks (quote of the day….fitting!)

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Arrrg, so much to update, so little time!  Been writing, classing it, auditioning nonstop.  Actually got to put my Sign Language skills to good use during an audition today which was pretty fun…more like riding a bicycle than I expected.  Jack and I are no longer associated with the theatre company, UA;  there’s no purpose or value in elaborating on the subject, so I won’t.  Onward and upward!  And we definitely are.  Jack’s been submitting and auditioning just as much, and in fact he flies out to Vermont this Sunday to shoot a commercial for Nokian Tires.  Because of the long distance, he had to submit his audition through video, so I taped him last Sunday (two separate takes, second with added direction) with my phone and we sent them in.  If you know me personally and would like to see either of these awesome HIGHlarious audition submissions (and haven’t already), email me and I will send you the private link.   The second submission he went for it so hard that I had to stop twice and restart because I couldn’t help laughing.

 

Quick summed-up update:  Regarding my herniated disc injury, I’m still in PT, have 5+ more weeks at least.  Improving, kind of the two steps forward, one step back kind of deal.  BUT when I go back to work, I already have the most amazing job lined up: I will be working for this incredible, innovative start-up dog walking company(the company itself has been around for a few years, but with this particular focus for 8 months).  Super great, young, motivated energy and forward thinking company that uses new ideas and modern technology to provide top notch service to dog owners.  And I will be doing a flash mob (my first ever!) with them!  We’re going to be participating in a huge adopt-a-dog event where we’ll be breaking out our mad skills.  In addition to dog walking, I’m going to be doing freelance babysitting and maaaaaaaaaaybe working with a company that specializes in kids parties. I have specific companies I can work with, but am also going to focus on getting jobs on my own, starting with giving 3 families in my building a “free night of babysitting” (up to 4 hours).  The exchange will be that they can see if they like me, and then if so allow me to use them as a local reference.  I’m thinking of also doing a referral program where for each new unique referral someone gives me, I’ll give them a free hour of babysitting service.  Or something like that.   I think I might have enough work without all of this, but summer is right around the corner, so we’ll see, and if it seems not then I might add on the kids birthday parties work.  I’ve been getting called in for a lot of auditions (including for paid gigs), and acting’s what I’m here for, so I want to leave plenty of open time to allow for those opportunities.  But I AM totally freaking PSYCHED to soon be working with doggies!!!!!!  Seriously you guys, I can’t wait.

 

Speaking of acting, my classes have been A-mazing.  I did a Viewpoints Composition weekend workshop a couple of weekends ago that BLEW MY MIND and opened up my world and took my mind down the rabbit hole with regards to acting and art in new ways I never knew were possible. LOVED it.  I’ve also been studying dialects (Spanish and British RP so far, Scottish starts next week) and while I still definitely need practice, practice, practice, I am not nearly as intimidated by it all as I used to be.  In fact I actually (if you can believe it) find it all really fascinating and fun.  Definite props to my talented and passionate instructor.   My solo performance class has one more week to go, and I’ve hit some highs and some blocks, but I just keep going (because what else can I do?…I’m in a current block with it, can ya’ tell??).  I have a good foundation and will continue working on it long after the class is finished.  Lastly, I’m taking a new Monologues Audition class (taught by Karen Kohlhaas) that a good friend recommended and I am already completely in love with.  As in…maybe…possibly…just perhaps…working and doing monologues auditions could actually be…fun.  No really ya’ll. NO. REALLY.

 

Speaking of all this work, I have to get back to it, sooooo…I’ll do one more quick post after this to upload some recent photos.  I’ll try my best not to be so long in between future blog posts! One photo teaser; this is what makes me officially now a New Yorker (MY GRANNY CART):

 

 

And noooooooow… why I actually signed in tonight, to quickly post (then felt guilty for not updating, so there you go) this video below that a friend of mine from my Alexander Technique sent me yesterday, which is absolutely freaking ridiculously  INCREDIBLE.  This is especially for all  of you actors out there, but really for anyone who is pursuing the arts and/or creative field.

 

Susan:
There are some people in the world who say that writing stories,
or composing music or dancing sparkly dances is easy for them.
Nothing interferes with their ability to create.
While I celebrate their creative freedom,
a little part of me just wants to punch those motherfuckers in the teeth.
This song, I sing this song for you guys and for all the rest of us. Help me out y’all
Backup:
We’ll sing backup
Susan:
You have a story to tell, a novel you keep in a drawer.
Backup:
Old sock drawer!
Susan:
You have a painting to paint, but you lazy like an old French whore
Backup:
Je suis whore
Susan:
You have a movie to make, Shrinky Dinks you can bake
but you best grab a stake, cause,
in sweep the vampires, in creep the vampires, knee deep in vampires,
Filling you with doubt. Insecurity, ’bout what you art should be
in sweep the vampires
All:
Die vampire
Susan:
You sketched that turtle you saw in an ad on late-night cable TV
Backup:
Tippy Turtle!
Susan:
But your fourth grade teacher said
Female Backup:
You can’t draw
Susan:
Aww, those vampires just won’t let you be
Backup:
Fuck you Ms. Johnson, Word!
Susan:
And when they come run like hell, see those bats in your belfry, then call on Van Helsing.
Susan:
In swoosh
Backup:
Ooh, the vampires
Susan:
in a whoosh
Backup:
ooh, the vampires,
Susan:
Babaganoosh
Backup:
ooh, all the vampires
Susan:
Filling you with thoughts of
Backup:
Self consciousness
Susan:
Feelings of
Backup:
Worthlessness
Susan:
They’ll make you
Backup:
Second guess
Die vam-
All:
-pire!
There are so many vampires, inside, outside, and nationwide,
it helps to recognize them with this vampire hunting guide!
Listen closely,
a vampire is any person or thought or feeling
that stands between you and your creative self expression,
but they can assume many seductive forms.
Here’s a few of them!
Backup:
Tell us Susan!
Susan:
First up are you pigmy vampires.
They’ll swarm around you head like gnats and say things like:
Male Backup:
Your teeth need whitening
Female Backup:
You went to state school?
Male Backup:
You sound weird
All:
Shakespeare, Sondheim, Sedaris
Susan:
Did it before you and better than you, or they might say that you cannot
sing good enough to be in a musical, or they might say:
Backup:
Ooh, your song’s derivative,
Ooh, your song’s derivative,
Ooh, your song’s derivative,

Susan:
To keep that song from you! Just tell them:
Backup:
Die vampire, die!
Susan:
Brothers and sisters, next up is the air freshener vampire,
she might look like you mama, or your old fat-ass, fat aunt Fanny.
She smells something unpleasant in what you’re creating.
She’ll urge you to:
Backup:
(Spraying sound)
Susan:
It with some pine fresh smell ’em ups.
The air freshener vampire doesn’t want you to write about
Backup:
bad language, blood, or blow jobs
Susan:
She wants you to clean it up and clean it out.
Which will leave your work toothless, gutless, and crotchless
but, you’ll be left with two tight paragraphs,
All kittens that your grandma would be so proud of.
You look at that air freshener vampire in her fat ass, fat old fuckin’ face and you say
All:
(Chanting)
Susan:
The last vampire is the mother of all vampires and that is the vampire of despair.
It’ll wake you up at 4am to say things like:
Backup:
Who do you think you’re kidding?
You look like a fool.
No matter how hard you try, you’ll never be good enough
Susan:
Why is it that if some dude walked up to me on the subway platform
and said these things, I’d think he was a mentally ill asshole,
but if the vampire inside my head says it,
It’s the voice of reason.
Backup:
You have a story to tell, pull your novel out of that sock drawer!
You have a painting to paint, you best paint it and then paint some more!

Susan:
Oh baby, you must escape and grab it by the nape of its neck, by the trachea
fuckin’ break it, go on drive a stake in,
Yeah there’s no mistaking, now you’re shake and bakin’
All:
Die, vampire
I said, “Die, vampire”
I said, “Now die vam-pi-re, die!”
All:
In fly the vampires, oh my the vampires, then die the vampires,
filling you with life, creativity, all that you heart should be, out go the vampires
Die vampire, die vampire, die vampire, die!

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So much beautiful *unbelievable* synchronicity, generosity, and expansion is happening in my life right now.  I am inspired by my mentors, so very blessed by the love from connections both old and new, and am eternally grateful for this ground breaking time in my life of which I can barely keep up with, but your bet your sweet butt I am.  I hope to write more later this week when I get a bit of a breather.  Until then, here is a recent inspiration.

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Yesterday Jack and I played “tourists in our own town.”  I love The Sopranos and Jack is a serious Sopranos FREAK.  He’s been wanting to go on this tour since before we even considered moving to New York.  He finally had a Saturday off, and since I’m currently unable to work due to my injury, we took the opportunity to be tourists for a day.  It was a great day weather wise (mild and clear), plus it’s “off season” so we were able to get a little bit of a discount and enjoy the tour on a not too crowded bus.  The tour itself overall was FANTASTIC, really thanks to our tour guide, Marc Baron.  He had been on the show a few times in bit parts and as a day player, and so had inside tips and information that made it all that more interesting and fun.  He was also incredibly knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the show and very engaging during the entire 4 hour tour.  He alone made it worth every penny.  I’d never been on a tourist bus excursion like this before (and generally have no interest), but would recommend this one to anybody whether you are an avid fan or even only occasionally watched the show.






Jack with “Vito Spatafore, Sr.,” played by  the actor Joseph  Gannascoli.   Okay, I have a lot to say about this picture.  This was the only weird and disappointing part of the entire tour.  I had read that on this tour you often get to meet Joseph Gannascoli but didn’t really read further into any of the details.   Basically what happens is when you check in, the tour guide (Marc) tells you that if you are interested you can meet one of the actors from the show “in a silver car, four cars down behind the bus.”  So we walk about 50 feet and see a few people in line ahead of us.  Basically Joseph Gannascoli is standing with the hatchback open, selling books, autographed pictures, and cigars out of the back of his car.  While waiting, I asked Jack if he wanted to buy anything and he said no, that he just wanted to meet him, tell him how much he admired his work, and to get a picture.  When it was our turn, Gannascoli was extremely unfriendly and wouldn’t make any eye contact.  When Jack told him how much he loved his work and asked could he get a picture, Gannascoli refers to the items for sale and says, “Something for the effort.”  Jack looks at me sort of confused and not knowing what to say and then says, “No thank you, is it okay if I just get a picture?”  Again Gannascoli says, “How about something for the effort, I drove 2 hours.” (Btw, he lives in Brooklyn.)  I can see Jack’s taken aback and doesn’t really know what to do or say (as am I, in shock that this guy is actually trying to hustle fans).  But I know what a HUGE fan Jack is of the show and how much he’s been looking forward to this tour forever and that he really wants a picture with the guy, so I encourage him to buy an autographed photo so I can get the picture above.  What I really wanted to tell Gannascoli  at that moment is to go eff himself, but for Jack’s sake and not wanting to ruin any part of this tour for him, I play along.  Of course immediately after we paid, as I took the picture, his total sour demeanor all of a sudden disappeared and this brilliant smile of his is displayed. I walked away feeling pissed off (at both Gannascoli and myself) that I had totally bought into being shaken’ down by this guy and at his taking advantage of true fans by putting them on the spot like that. It also felt just kind of sad and depressing that he feels he needs to hustle (true) fans of his work (that simply want to express admiration) for TWENTY DOLLARS.  What was also weird/funny was that after we were on the bus(waiting for a large group that arrived 1/2 hour late for check-in), our tour guide kept us engaged with trivia and video clips.  We were first shown an interview with Joseph Gannascoli talking about one of his favorite things about working on The Sopranos:  doing scenes at Badda Bing.  He described how he would tell the girls to “really go for it, the director is watching and if he’s impressed he’ll keep using you and you could really go far” and how his saying that got them to do just that, do all kinds of crazy things;  basically admitting that he abused his position to exploit these girls.  The interview clip was intended to be humorous, but immediately following our interaction with him, it was obvious that he wasn’t kidding, and it left me viewing him as a creepy gross fame whore  jerk.  Too bad because truly his work in The Sopranos was pretty brilliant.  Sometimes it’s better not to meet people whose work you admire, especially when they turn out to be a-holes and then your whole view of them and their work becomes skewed.  Boo.:/






So after the initial nonsense, the real fun began.  Here’s Jack like a little boy at Christmas as we wait for the tour to begin.





About to exit the Lincoln Tunnel, crossing over from New York to New Jersey.






View of Manhattan from the Jersey side (and my reflection in the bus window).






Diner where Christopher was shot (now painted a different color than it was during the taping of the show).






Jack on the steps that Christopher was coming down when he was shot.






Passing by La Pizza (still in operation).






Big Pussy’s auto shop






Another view of Big Pussy’s auto shop






Pizza Land (seen in The Sopranos intro and opening credits), also still in operation although now under different ownership. Apparently you can call and get one of their pizzas fed-exed to your home if you do not live within the immediate delivery area. Marc-the-tour-guide-Baron said that immediately proceeding the show’s finale, they had to shut down for a few days because they had hundreds (I think he said about 800?) of orders for their pizza to be fed-exed all over the country.






Jack on the bus looking all maphia-like as we pass by Pizza Land






Pulling up to Holsten’s (where the final scene of The Sopranos was shot)






Outside of Holsten’s.  When we went in, they had a sample of onion rings waiting for each us (just like Tony ordered for the family to share in the final scene).  REALLY cute place (as you will see in the pictures below).  We were able to order food to-go here (we got a side of fries and (I forgo my vegan ways for a day) two chocolate egg cremes.  The kids (and I do mean kids) working here were super sweet, and the inside is MUCH smaller than it appears on the show.  It is a very popular local diner, and we talked with a really nice (local) mother and her kids who were dining there and so tickled that people actually took a bus to New Jersey just to come to this place (she said she had been taking her kids there since they were “wee-big.”).






The bathroom where the guy with the Members Only jacket enters after passing by Tony.  Notice that in “real life” it’s actually the women’s bathroom (but they used this one in the show for a better screen shot). There was a lot on this tour I actually didn’t take pictures of, and it was interesting to learn where “mistakes” were made in the show and/or how the director’s would use different tricks to “cheat” in order to make things work (like this).






Jack and I sitting in the Sopranos family booth at Holsten’s where Tony Soprano and family were sitting in the last scene of the series. They had to made this booth especially for James Gandolfini because at the time he could not fit into their normal sized booths.






The last stop and of course the “real” reason Jack wanted to go on the tour…Badda Bing (aka IRL Satin Dolls).  No cameras are allowed inside (for obvious reasons).  Fun fact, like Washington State, liquor and nudity cannot cohabit in a place of business, so unlike on the show where the girls were topless, here they can only skimp down to lingerie type attire.  Sorry Jack.  We spent about 25 minutes in here, each having a drink at the bar, watching girls do the impressive impossible on stripper poles (of course tipping the girls for their efforts), and with “Girls,  Girls, Girls” playing in the background (yes, that song, really).  Jack bought a couple of souvenirs (a t-shirt and a hat) and we chatted up with the super nice and laid back manager on duty for a bit.






Pictures I didn’t take were mostly of where we got off the bus and walked around in a small area of town where certain scenes were shot; places such as Satriale’ s Pork Store, which is sadly now an empty lot), AJ’s High School (which is actually a middle school), etc.  What I really loved were Marc Baron’s stories of James Gandolfini and Edie Falco, whom he described as incredibly generous of spirit people.  He said that during negotiations with HBO, Gandolfini insisted that the other actors on the show also get a raise, and that during the last season when only he got a raise, he invited each actor on different occasions into his trailer and handed them a large envelope of money.  Marc also described a day when he was working on the set as an actor, playing a waiter where he had to get trained to serve tea in a very specific way.  During the taping, the whole original plan got scrapped, thus making his hours of training for it obsolete.  When this happened, Edie Falco, who was also in the scene, suddenly started ad-libbing and engaging Marc so that he would have to answer her, thus giving him dialogue.  The director kept re-shooting the scene, telling her not to do that, but each time she would do this.  Finally they submitted and kept the exchange in, which forced the producers to make Marc a Day Player for this scene, thus paying him $800+ instead of the $130 he would have originally received.  Extremely classy and generous on Falco’s part to look out for her fellow actors (regardless of their stature and the size of their parts), and both of these stories made me love Gandolfini and Falco even more.  I also loved finding out how so many people who worked on this show came to it from previous work with David Chase, as well as learning a lot about Chase’s creative process.  Most of the details on the show were directly from his experiences and life, and it made me realize so much more that this is the best place to draw from creatively(rather than some far off, hard to reach place, or “trying” to make it up).  Example: the name “Meadow” (Tony Soprano’s daughter) came simply from the name tag of a waitress at a restaurant where Chase and his wife had eaten at in L.A. years earlier. It’s these little attention to details in one’s own real day-to-day experience that can spring to life the incredible attention to detail in that same person’s creative expression. I love it.




So to wrap up–FUN day.  If you love The Sopranos as much as we do, I cannot recommend this tour enough.  Incredible value (especially if you skip the $20 “photo-op” with Vito at the beginning–save that extra money, plus some, to go towards the well deserved gratuity for the awesome tour guide, Marc Baron, the great kids at Holsten’s, and the hard working girls at Satin Dolls).






(last scene…is there any fan out there there that really hasn’t seen this yet???…well, spoiler alert, just in case)

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I know a lot of what I’ve been sharing on this blog lately have been quotes and excerpts from books that I’m reading which strongly resonate with me.  They’ve been hitting such strong chords and creating such shifts of consciousness, and often validation, that I am putting them out there as a sort of map/log of my Internal Journey.

The three excerpts below are also from The War of Art by Steven Pressfield (who also wrote the Legend of Bagger Vance).  I finished this book in less than 24 hours and will bringing it with me on my trip to Arizona next week to read it again.  It contains similarities of ideas in Julia Cameron‘s The Artist’s Way, but perhaps with a more aggressive, poignant, and less delicate approach.  One of biggest changes in my consciousness regarding acting and art that has occurred during the past year+ is how I think about the work and what is of utmost importance to me in its approach.  The internal conflict that I’ve had with this change has been one of my biggest causes of Resistance.    This book is so in alignment with those changes, it’s as if the Angels above dropped this book directly into my hands and gave me a big “thumbs up, you’re actually right on the money.”  The Art of War then took this understanding of mine and with lifeblood, expanded it into something far greater than I was expecting.  Without getting too much into the exact details of my own personal internal evolution, I will just say that it has helped me to understand my own Resistance, why it is there, what it is doing, and what, without question, must be done about it.

 

 

So without further ado:

 

 

Resistance and Being a Star

Grandiose fantasies are a symptom or Resistance.  They’re the sign of an amateur.  The professional has learned that success, like happiness, come as a by-product of work.  The professional concentrates on the work and allows rewards to come or not come, whatever they like.

 

 

For the Love of the Game

To clarify a point about professionalism:  The professional, though he accepts money, does his work out of love.  He has to love it.  Otherwise he wouldn’t devote his life to it of his own free will.

The professional has learned, however, that too much love can be a bad thing.  Too much love can make him choke.  The seeming detachment of the professional, the cold-blooded character to his demeanor, is a compensating device to keep him from loving the game so much that he freezes in action.  Playing for money, or adopting the attitude of one who plays for money, lowers the fever.

Remember what we said about fear, love, and Resistance.  The more you love your art/calling/enterprise, the more important its accomplishment is to the evolution of your soul, the more you will fear it and the more Resistance you will experience facing it.  The payoff of playing-the-game-for-money is not the money (which you may never see anyway, even after you turn pro).  The payoff is that playing the game for money produces the proper professional attitude.  It inculcates the lunch-pail mentality, the hard-core, hard-head, hard-hat state of mind that shows up for work despite rain or snow or dark of night and slugs it out day after day.

The writer is an infantryman.  He knows that progress is measured in yards of dirt extracted from the enemy one day, one hour, one minute at a time and paid for in blood.  The artist wears combat boots.  He looks in the mirror and sees GI Joe.  Remember, the Muse favors working stiffs.  She hates prima donnas.  To the gods the supreme sin is not rape or murder, but pride.  To think of yourself as a mercenary, a gun for hire, implants the proper humility.  It purges pride and preciousness.

Resistance loves pride and preciousness.  Resistance says, “Show me a writer who’s too good to take Job X or Assignment Y and I’ll show you a guy I can crack like a walnut.”

Technically, the professional takes money.  Technically, the pro plays for pay.  But in the end, he does it for love.

 

 

A Professional is Patient

Resistance outwits the amateur with the oldest trick in the book:  It uses his own enthusiasm against him.  Resistance gets us to plunge into a project with an overambitious and unrealistic timetable for its completion.  It knows we can’t sustain that level of intensity.  We will hit the wall.  We will crash.

The professional, on the other hand, understands delayed gratification.  He is the ant, not the grasshopper; the tortoise, not the hare.  Have you heard of the legend of Sylvester Stallone staying up three nights straight to churn out the screenplay for Rocky?  I don’t know, it may even be true.  But it’s the most pernicious species of myth to set before the awakening writer, because it seduces him into believing he can pull of the big score without the pain and without persistence. 

The professional arms himself with patience, not only to give the stars time to align in his career, but to keep himself from flaming out in each individual work.  He knows that any job, whether it’s a novel or a kitchen remodel, takes twice as long as he thinks and costs twice as much.  He accepts that.  He recognizes it as reality.

The professional steels himself at the start of a project, reminding himself it is the Iditarod, not the sixty-yard dash.  He conserves his energy.  He prepares his mind for the long haul.  He sustains himself with the knowledge that if he can just keep those huskies mushing, sooner or later the sled will pull in to the Nome.

 

 

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