Welcome! For 2008, there was much fun and merriment, despite the continuation the entire year of my court battle with the criminals, which was supposed to have lasted only a few months. I had right around 90 auditions resulting in a dozen or so bookings, saw about 180 movies (though well over half were watched at home on the big screen) and caught up on some TV shows I’d missed when they aired (hooray for Hulu and Netflix, though I don’t understand the producers saying they’re not making any money from the ads you can’t skip, and therefore, the writer/actors/directors aren’t being paid! Online streaming is the most easily trackable measure of viewing ever... it makes the Nielsen ratings look like astrology!)
For the first time in recorded history, there was no snow in New York City the entire month of January. I started the year off right doing a commercial for Advanced Financial Services and doing a sketch shoot with Steve Dude Herold, we saw Natalie Merchant in concert as well as the NY Philharmonic, and hit the incredible NY Spa Castle. We ate great food at City Crab, Ariyoshi, PJ Horgans, Sunnyside Fresh Taco, Brassiere, Yeti of Haizan, Carmines, and Diane’s parents’ house (!) with great friends like Kara McElhinney, Leigh van Swall & Dwight, Robin Selfridge, Rob Chapnick, Monique deVillier, Rick Flynn, and Lindsay Teed to name a few. Jeffrey Carl helped me with the installation of new tile in our kitchen which matched the cool, blue new countertops we had put in. The criminals agreed to pay me in a lump sum buyout of the storage business to end this multi-year mess (and then didn’t follow through, again), we went to a CSA potluck that Diane organized, I started tutoring and teaching at the Cooper Union again, and Diane continued her seminary studies.
In February, we made a romantic weekend trip to Niagara Falls to see it in the winter, after our earlier summer trek there. We got another amazing deal at the Marriott, and loved the views from the room, and the lack of crowds. Despite the snow and bitter cold, our flight back (after wings at the Anchor Bar) was uneventful. To keep the relaxation up, I had to return to Spa Castle with writer/director extraordinaire OD McConnell, while Diane “relaxed” by doing taxes for Mikki and another family friend. I smoked some stogies at Merchants with Rob and Peter Sklar, and at the end of the month, had an amazing experience studying with acting coach-to-the-stars Larry Moss. I also performed in a staged reading of Wolfson’s newest work. Other food and fun included the Museum of the City of NY, Becco, and we drove upstate to a cohousing meeting with wonderful friends from Ulster County like Ellen Sribnick, Pascha Clarke, and Linda Gluck. We finally got some flurries early in the month, and the city quieted down under 6” of snow late in the month.
March brought many auditions, a few good movies, lots of good food, of course, the “Peeps” shoot with Steve and Solomon Chertok’s Sundays in the City March Movie Marathon with Gabe Klavun, Claire Aniela Arthurs, and Dean Curtis among others, more stogies with Peter and Rob, dinner at Tony’s, a ridiculous mediation session with the criminals (they couldn’t even bother to show up on time) where they again tried to change the rules of the game and renegotiate what they had agreed to repay me and my family in court, more work on the cartoon Chaotic, Mandy Droste in concert, Alexander technique class plus class with graduates of the Larry Moss class, and a lovely dinner at home and lunch out with my very good friends formerly of Indiana and now of DC, Renee Geary and Missy Nilson.
April saw the start of the “Living in Captivity” shoot at the Central Park Zoo, the Queens Zoo AND the Prospect Park Zoo, I pitched the concept of cohousing at a Green Drinks meeting the week after attending another cohousing planning meeting, we had a surprise half birthday party for Diane at our place, Mike Kendrick flew in for dinner, super-actors Sam Masotto and Gina Musumeci were over for dinner following their engagement to discuss wedding plans with the soon-to-be-Reverend Diane, I got to hang out in Monroe, NY at OD’s, and we chilled out at Spa Castle (at the time, it was called InSpa World- gotta love corporate battles over obscure names).
In May, the "Living" shoot wrapped, and I met up with director Irina Chernikina and special effects wizard Marat Nasibulin to do a little polish on “The Professor K Show” as well as shoot a behind-the-scenes video with Ralph the Puppet. Diane, her mother Retha, and I saw Marc Crawford Leavitt (one of the lawyers Diane works with) perform in Peter Pan, the criminals showed up late again to another pointless mediation, I worked with some of the "Living" crew on another shoot, I taped my first episode of “Guiding Light” (which aired in July), chowed down with Irina and co-producer and all around crazy Brazilian Nivaldo Benedito, did a quick photo shoot with photographer Tony Gale, sister-in-law Ally came over for dinner, and we went to a great cookout at Robin Selfridge and Carmen DeVito’s place. I’m trying not to mention too many food places, but I just can’t recommend enough Tasty Fast Food IV in our ‘hood, and the Sandwich King of Astoria, whose location is self-evident. Both are owned by members of the same extended family, and are just awesome.
We brought in June with a Reverend Billy performance (who as of 3/2009 was named the Green Party’s candidate for mayor of NYC!), and I completed a sitcom script which I entered into several script fests and hope to shoot sometime soon. It’s the story of a young, eccentric college professor and his pals... not too much of a stretch. (My storage company script is forthcoming...) We hit another cohousing meeting early in the month, we got to see the yacht that cousin Jeremy Smith captains, Diane starting a composting project at our co-op complex with some of our neighbors and approval of the Board, I had several stogie nights with Peter and Rob, and we had a wonderful time visiting Baltimore for 2 days. I was a plant in my friend Robert Galinsky’s New York Reality TV School, which has gotten tons of press, and I was a VIP at the beginnings workshop while Diane was at a seminary retreat. A few days later, Reverend Diane Kolack graduated and became an ordained Interfaith Minister! We took over the Ayurveda Café for her graduation party. We hung out at Spa Castle and Atlas Park, volunteered at God’s Love We Deliver, and hosted many dinners with Christine & George, Mikki, and the Campbells.
The Kendricks were in town for July 4th and we trekked to Staten Island for a nice suburban retreat with Claire and Gabe. There were more hijinks at the Reality TV School, a trip to the NY Hall of Science with a private tour from Carol Nordin, stogies with Peter & Rob, dinners with Christine & George, and lots of auditions resulting in the booking of the short film “Little Indiana Jones” and the Off-Broadway play “Johnny on a Spot.” We attended Erin McReynolds’ going away party prior to her trek across the US in her Volkswagen bus, as well Punk Rope exercise classes with pal and instructor Merryl Reichbach.
Erin wasn’t gone very long before we took a trip to Memphis and met her along her path in August. We got to see Graceland (which was decorated a lot like the house I grew up in!) and eat good southern BBQ at Commissary, chicken & waffles, and Waffle House (hooray!), and visit my old friend from high school Erin (yes, another Erin) (Dooley) Dickson (double hooray!). Then we worked off all that food at more Punk Rope classes. I began intensive “Johnny” rehearsals in preparation for the early September opening (running into Sam Massotto and Gina Musumeci for dinner after one of them- interestingly, I was walking down the street calling Sam on the phone exactly as he mock mugged me from an alley, without his phone!). We were able to take a nice afternoon at Rockaway Beach as well as a trip over the river to NJ to chow down at Kara McElhinney’s and a trip to Westchester for Professor Ruben Savizky’s wedding reception. We had a Sandwich King picnic on Roosevelt Island, I shot “Pigeon and Me” with Dude Herold, and I was again a beginnings VIP at the very end of the month.
September was filled with “Johnny” shows, plus the “Little Indy” shoot, which made for some busy days! Rob and I went canoeing in the outback of the Adirondacks near the Canadian border for 5 days while Diane took a yoga retreat. Cooper classes started for the fall semester, and we had a CSA game night. Mom was able to come up for 3 days to see the show (along with the Smiths) and be on set for a day of filming, and Mike Wallace was in town for a quick visit as well. Ralph the Puppet had an incredibly well-received short film in the Sunnyside Shorts Film Fest, but was unable to make an appearance, since I was onstage in “Johnny” at the time.
Party month started with the last few “Johnny” shows. We hit the Millionaire Mind seminar over the weekend of Diane’s birthday, had a great dinner at City Hall on our anniversary with a gift certificate from Diane’s dad Gary, and hosted a karaoke party at our house for my birthday. I lunched with my pal Allie Mulholland, one of the organizers of the acting class composed of fellow graduates of the Larry Moss acting classes here. I interviewed at LaGuardia Community College, since I can walk there and they have a pool, but like many auditions, I suppose I was too tall. We recovered from karaoke at Spa Castle.
November brought an industrial booking, more work on “Chaotic,” Diane went to a fermentation workshop (which resulted in us having a sauerkraut explosion in our kitchen cabinet!), and we saw two Broadway shows thanks to Theater Extras. The criminals had dragged things out so long that we had to tighten our belts a bit and sold our car and cut off the cable TV and home phone. The compost committee held a progressive party (going from apartment to apartment with each dinner course... whoo hoo!), the CSA season wound down, and we had Thanksgiving dinner at Ally’s.
Diane taught income tax prep classes at Liberty Tax and our first snow of the year arrived in early December (and continued on and off throughout the month, which was nice), the same day as I picked up our dog Queso Blanco from her foster home. Queso is a wonderful 6 year-old Maltese who doesn’t shed, doesn’t bark, doesn’t chew stuff... actually, she’s pretty much a cat. Like me, she has her own Facebook fan page. (I know I’ve sent out notices, but I must again emphasize that dogs should never be purchased from pet stores (or breeders, for that matter, unless you’re planning on showing your dog professionally). We got Queso from one of several breed-specific rescue groups in our area. After being a puppy-mill mama for the first 6 years of her life, she’s settling in nicely and catching up on some sleep. She’s learned to walk on wood floors and is starting to understand where sounds like her name come from and how to play with toys. Like many Maltese, she has bad teeth, so her favorite “toys” are currently white envelopes and her favorite treat is frozen kale stems- she has no interest in any dog treat we’ve given her. You can easily find a rescue group in your area online.) "Little Indy” had its premiere at a theater in Tribeca, Cooper classes ended for the semester, we had our 5-year pizza anniversary (I got us pizza from the place where we met), we hit the law office holiday party, Erin came through town and had dinner at our place along with Tony, we went to a concert put on by the symphonic band Diane founded in Brooklyn, we went to a Hannukah party at Merryl’s and then took Merryl to Spa Castle on her birthday (XMas), and I finished out the year teaching a class at Peter’s for a group of aspiring actors. The rest of New Year’s Eve was spent at home, watching the ball drop on Hulu, commentary free (hallelujah!), and the snow and fireworks out the window.