Freudian Slips: February 2005

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Location: Irony, New Jersey, United States

Life takes us many places. It's a box of chocolates and a Hansel and Gretal trail of candy wrappers. I have filmed as an actor in The Happening, Invincible, The Lovely Bones, The Bounty Hunter, The Greek American, Bazookas, Limitless, TV's Its Always Sunny in Philly, Outlaw, New York, The Warrior, The Nail, Game Change, Cold Case, & commercial work includes The Philadelphia Eagles, Septa, Coors, Turbo Tax & Carnival Cruises. Freudian Slips spotlights irony in short story format.

February 27, 2005

BTK Killer...Rader Under the Radar

In a day devoted to the strange confluence of crime and punishment, I watched CNN’s live coverage of the capture of the notorious Blind Torture Kill serial killer then the movie Murder in the First starring Kevin Bacon. Murder in the First chronicles the life of convict Henry Thomas’ painful tenure and torture at Alcatraz prison in the 1930’s. The BTK killer terrorized Wichita Kansas for decades. Both Henry Thomas and Dennis Rader were criminals who lived in Kansas. Only one assumed a life of crime.
Self-coined BTK for his modus operandi of Bind, Torture, and Kill Dennis Rader eluded captivity for three decades. For over an hour, CNN cameras rolled at the press conference before any ranking official kindly released the name of the suspect. Instead, the world watched members of law enforcement take bows, receive standing ovations, and give fuzzy testimonials of how good conquers evil like a jackhammer squashing a cockroach. I watched speakers take turns behind a podium lavishly praising one another for…taking 30 years to follow a serial killer’s trail of bread crumbs to an arguable surrender? I am happy that a pall has been lifted over the frightened Kansas community but something is amiss with how Rader’s capture was reported by law enforcement.
Rader still lived on the same street as one of the victims. He also worked with two other victims at Coleman camping. Rader’s street isn’t nearly as long as Route 66 and Coleman camping isn’t a massive Fortune 500 company so how could the suspect not come up on a data base cross-referencing the murders? Thirty years and dozens of investigators failed to make the obvious connection. Reoprts are circulating that Rader's own daughter aided in his arrest by supplying DNA evidence.
After committing one heinous murder, Rader dialed 911 and his voice was caught on tape. He sent letters, packages, and poems everything but a Christmas photo card with a return address. He gave the men in blue a bevy of Blues Clues to be caught! It was law enforcement that lived under the radar screen. Dennis Rader is now a 59 year old man who can’t even be executed because the statue of limitations have run out on his murders. The suspect might never have been caught if Rader hadn’t brazenly started mailing back his trophies, like the driver’s license of one of his victims. Consistent with so many serial killers, Rader blended in enough with middle America as a Cub Scout leader and government worker but the trail of evidence seemed to have enough pieces to the puzzle. If police hadn’t closed in on him for an arrest, Dennis Rader might have had to resort to sewing his own straight jacket and walking down to the town clink carrying a handwritten confession. Henry Thomas got shipped to Alcatraz for stealing five dollars, Dennis Rader got away with murders a dime a dozen.


February 24, 2005

Barnes and Noble Wishes

Last Saturday, my wife and I took our four children to The Barnes Foundation, the current home to one of the finest collections of French, Early Modern and Post-Impressionist paintings in the world. The Barnes Foundation is tucked away off of Route 1 in Merion, Pennsylvania. For five bucks you can oggle over six billion dollars worth of art. It is neither a museum or gallery but rather the extensive private collection of the late Albert Barnes hanging in his residence. If you are starving for art, this collection of art can stop a hunger strike. Dozens of Matisse, Renoir, Seurat, Manet, Soutine, Degas, Monet, El Greco, Picasso, Van Gogh bring the house to life in living color.
I taught the children almost everything I knew about art before the tickets were perforated at the front door. Nonetheless, seeing their faces study fine art was worth being perceived by your offspring as an unequivocal art dummy.
As I kneeled in awe inches away from Egyptian heirglyphics circa 2000 BC, my youngest daughter whispered, “Daddy, why does everyone paint fruit?”
“Hum, I have often wondered that myself.” I answered without explanation.
Like an echo to my art ignorance, I wondered the same thing from the time I was my daughter’s age until she asked me the identical question some thirty two years later. I imagine fruit is a symbol of class and a scene of stasis most people can identify with. That is all I can extract from the rooty-tooty-fruity cross-generational question. So from that awkward moment on, I shadowed a bald geezer who professed to his daughter an intimacy with every last piece on display. This guy knew the emotion, history, and psychology of each art piece. Ah, what I would give to be so cultured. As I followed the geezer around, a Mona Lisa smirk appeared on my face because I wisely saved the $7.00 for the audio cassette tour. I extracted wonders about art other than my basic assumption that Crayola crayons are not a good medium for art.
Albert Barnes last noble wishes were for his paintings to never be moved and for the entire collection to remain intact in the thirteen acre home where he resided. Enough debate to spark a Senate hearing, plans have been finalized to move the entire collection closer to downtown Philadelphia. If Albert C. Barnes has a ghost, we will surely find out with the scheduled trespassing.
In the meantime, checkout art untouched and unhaunted before lawmakers and private interest groups commercialize it into a monolithic museum with a juice bar, children’s birthday parties, and Henry Matisse’s Joy of Life appearing on pre-snot napkins. Come and enjoy the art in its natural undiscriminating state without burly armed guards, bullet-proof Plexiglass, and twenty foot safe distance chalk lines. See the Barnes Foundation before it truly becomes a moving experience. Visit:


February 22, 2005

Organ Donors with Free Shipping

I promised my wife a baby grand piano for Valentine’s Day. Okay, before I get “What A Guy” emails, the truth is we have been saving for a piano. I only agreed to ante up the balance so we could increase our purchase power and buy now. We asked around word-of-mouth, scanned the classifieds of local newspapers, and called piano companies inquiring about new and used models. No luck. We eyeballed a gorgeous 1930 Lester baby grand piano auctioned on Ebay. The piano boasted charm and character. Lester pianos were manufactured by the artful hands of Quakers and this piano spent its entire life in Philadelphia. I emailed the seller peppering him with questions about its condition. Everything checked out to our liking.

On a Tuesday morning shortly after dawn, my wife nudged me out of a warm bed to go downstairs and electronically outwit, outmatch, and out snipe any remaining bidders at the close of auction. With eight seconds left, I submitted a bid of $1203.33 for an item whose high bid had been unchanged at $1027.00 for the last three days. Some quick-fingered piano player must have faster broadband cable than me because I lost the auction by $25.00 in the final second. I felt the helium seep out of Diane’s Valentine’s Day balloon. I was left to sew my oats, Quaker oats.

Fret not. The next morning, my wife received a Second Chance offer form on an official Ebay template form. It had all the bells and whistles. It had the right font’s and color schemes. It said all the right things in the instructions. My wife bounced around the house like Mary Poppins on amphetamines. Meanwhile, I analyzed the printed email bedside in poor lighting with nary a cup of coffee. Everything checked out but the seller’s email address. So I deliberately emailed both the actual seller and the masked man at the other email address. Golly gee, I didn’t want to wind up with two baby grand pianos and only pay for one. The actual piano owner assured me he had already been contacted by the highest bidder, who arranged immediate local pickup and payment. spun a different yarn. Portos decried that the high bidder had a daughter who had gotten real sick. Consequently, the high bidder sung a different tune and no longer wanted the piano. I hope that poor girl pulls through. As a convenience to keep the sale, Portos now included free shipping on a quarter ton piano. Heavens to Betsy, what a nice Christian to strap that baby grand on his back and walk from Blue Ball, Pennsylvania to my house in New Jersey. But wait there is more. Portos included a Ronco refund policy if we in any way were not completely satisfied. Instinct told me Portos was trying to complete a poorly organized fundraiser which went over like a bake sale without flour. My wife finally laid her emotions to rest. Mary Poppins came in for a crash landing. A spoonful of business acumen helps the medicine go down, medicine go down.

Even without a piano, I sang like a canary. I reported the fraudulent activity to Ebay but they actually emailed me back a form letter saying due to the high traffic of crime they cannot go after everyone. The criminal element in America must be alive and well. So was free to run amuck while only kingpins and the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted could be cold shadowed. So I email back the following sarcastic message. “Yes, we are still interested in your lovely antique piano. What an incredible stroke of luck. When the piano arrives at my door I will pay you cold hard cash in denominations of your choosing. Let me know when you can deliver that baby grand piano because with me being a STATE TROOPER…I work odd hours."

Would you believe emails back that Cash on Delivery is not acceptable. You don’t say? As it turns out, the preferred payment method was to send him the $1203.33 up front. Portos quoted the following scenario: “I already deposed the piano in Fedex custody and upon the money has been sent on my name I will release the item in your direction.” What direction might that be Portos, north by northeast? Are the Fedex's really holding my piano hostage? This guy didn’t sound like a Quaker. Portos had a better chance of convincing me he was a twentieth century Shaker. I bet he never owned a piano let alone a 1930’s piano built by Quakers. Nonetheless, Portos acted like he could airmail a plug to a leaky boat in the middle of the ocean. I sent him back one final email. “Why don’t I put you in my Last Will and Testament and we can call it even?” That pretty much was the end of my communiqué with


February 20, 2005

Search and Retrieval

This week KYW news radio reported the following story of man and man’s best friend. A police officer got a report about suspected illegal drug use on a private golf course, a country club to be exact. A policeman approached two men, who appeared to be innocently playing Frisbee golf with their Labrador retriever. The police officer became suspicious when he smelled the sweet smell of marijuana in the air. The men denied the accusation despite the signature smell of reefer aroma. While the policeman looked for hard evidence at the scene, the Labrador hustled to retrieve the last item thrown, which wasn’t a Frisbee disk. From the neighboring lake the Labrador retrieved a soggy plastic bag full of marijuana. He promptly returned it to its rightful owner, his master. The two men were booked. The dog was not charged as an accessory.


February 17, 2005

Raising Arizona

Epiphany is a young adult female with a diagnosis of borderline mental retardation. In terms of cognitive functioning, borderline means her IQ dangles a mile marker south of normal intelligence. Epiphany demonstrated behavioral challenges in adolescence that waned as a young adult. Thank goodness too because her idea of teenage fun was taking a bus to the seedy side of town to shout racial epitaphs.

I first met Epiphany in 1997. Epiphany answered the front door of the townhouse, where she lived with her mother. After I introduced myself, a broad smile painted Epiphany’s face. She let me in. I followed her instructions back to a kitchenette, where she invited me to sit down.

Right after she offered me a cup of tea, Epiphany shouted towards a bedroom. “Hey mom, you better put on your makeup then get out here. He’s cute. You're gonna like this one.”

“What?” I said with wide-eyed incredulousness. “Why are you saying that?”

As if on cue, the mother exitied the bedroom. Our eyes met. A fool could see that the mother radiated the same tonic of beauty that her daughter did but professionalism kept me from acknowledging the observation. Mom stood still like a posed model waiting for compliment and camera shutter to snap. Epiphany broke the ice with a chisel. In stampedes, Epiphany ran with the bulls and never got trampled. “Mom needs a boyfriend who will treat her right. Don’t worry, she will sleep with you on the first date. You are gonna enjoy yourself. I hear that mom is pretty good in the sack.”

An embarrassed look gashed the mother’s taut face. “Do you have to tell him everything, Pif?”

“Just being honest, mom.”

Brutally honest I thought to myself. “You have the wrong idea here. This isn’t a matchmaker dating service.” I protested. “This is social services.”

And so began my infatuation with Epiphany and not her mother. A demure quality defined Epiphany’s sweet innocent voice. This combined with an impeccable lack of social grace made her an interesting case study. I learned that Epiphany’s matchmaker intentions were rooted in good intentions. She thought her mother could do better for herself. Mom suffered from a spiraling eating disorder and repeated domestic violence from the ironclad fists of a welder.

I grew fond of Epiphany and her burgeoning sense of independence. I helped her study for her driver’s license. I accepted her invitation to attend her high school graduation. I watched her become an adult. Men had eyes for Epiphany too and her charm attracted men like bees to sweet nectar. On Valentine’s Day, 2003 she married a high school sweetheart after a long courtship. Her spouse spoke only broken English but that mattered little since he kept Epiphany’s best interests at heart. I liked him the moment I met him. He was a transplant from Arizonia. Arizonia seemed romantic to Epiphany, who hated living in New Jersey. Epiphany wanted out the first chance she got. Arizonia seemed as good of a destination as any. I couldn’t blame her. NJ car insurance premiums are the highest in the nation and property taxes are highway robbery with a due date. Epiphany’s husband still had family in Arizonia so discussion about moving west came up early and often in their relationship. In 2003, Epiphany contacted me and told me of definite plans to relocate to Arizona on December 31, 2002. Epiphany acted as her own legal guardian so there was no stopping her. I double checked with mom, who approved of her daughter’s relocation.

“Why are you traveling on New Year’s Eve?” I asked. “That’s one of the worst days to travel. I hope you are flying.”

Epiphany explained, “I got my driver’s license now, Joe. My hubby bought a used car. We are driving out. We will take turns driving. It will be an adventure.”

I told her to be careful and to call me when she got settled. My services begin and end at the State line. Epiphany reported back to me by cell phone of their successful move. She reported things were tight financially but through the help of an uncle, her husband found employment fixing up old homes. She had no working phone, relied exclusively on her cell phone, and complained about the overage charges. They secured housing in an apartment complex called Santo De Rio. Epiphany did not expect to return to New Jersey. They viewed their life as fulfilled. She boasted about making a few friends at a church she joined. She made affirmations about enjoying the hotter climate Arizonia offered and the open road made it easier for a beginner driver like herself. She related that mom had twice flew out west to see her.

I received a handful of phone calls from Epiphany. Epiphany reported that mom and the bruising welder hit a huge jackpot on a progressive slot machine at an Atlantic City casino. The color of money and bruises now cemented their relationship. Epihpany promised to mail me the promotional pictures in the newspaper about their inheritance. She seemed to want to tell me something more. I listened but most of our long distance conversations went something like this.

“Joe Tornatore.” I answered the telephone.

“Hey, Joe. It’s Pif. Can you hear me?”

“Yeah. Why do you have a bad cell?”

Epiphany explained, “I have been getting lousy reception from my cell phone out west. I am standing outside now. It hasn’t rained in three months. Do you know it is 102 degrees today? What is the climate in New Jersey.”

“Seventy two with an all time high of car insurance and property taxes.”

“I don’t miss New Jersey.”

“Did you register for disability services in Arizonia yet?”


“Who is receiving your benefits?”

“Mom still. She is forwarding me the money out ot Arizonia.”

“You got to get that straightened out. We talked about this before. Are you happy, Pif?”

“I love my husband and Arizonia.”

“You always know what to say, you smoothie.”

“Have you ever been to Arizonia, Joe?”

“As a matter of fact, I haven’t.”

She invited, “Why don’t you come out and visit us?”

“That's sweet but I don’t think business expenses will cover the trip beyond the Walt Whitman Bridge.”

“Will I ever see you again?” she pouted.

“Now that you mentioned it, I need to explain something to you. If all is right in your world, I need to discharge you from agency services. Arizonia must provide you with case management now.”

For all intents and purposes, we ended the conversation. I had no choice but to terminate her from New Jersey services. About six months later, I receive in improptu phone call from Epiphany’s mother. The mother had a secret to reveal. Given the family dynamics, I wondered where this conversation were headed.

“Epiphany never moved to Arizonia.” A nervouse giggle and sentence stress followed. “…uh, she never left New Jersey.”

“What do you mean? She hates Jersey. She moved. I get calls from her very month.”

“You know Epiphany doesn’t always tell the truth. She carried this fib too far.

“Do you mean she fabricated the whole move to Arizonia? It was all an elaborate lie?”

“I'm afraid so.”

My head spun like a yo-yo doing the loopty loop. “Wait a minute, I confirmed that your daughter moved to Arizonia not only with you but her fiancee.

“Epiphany swore us to secrecy.”

“Secrecy is one thing, conspiracy is another. Look, I don’t know who is telling me the truth at this point.”

“I'm sorry.”

"Not as sorry as I am.” I said curtly. “Do you have any idea how much of a fool I’ll look like when I go to tell my supervisor a disabled client bamboozled me into thinking she went to live on a prairie?”

“Again, I'm sorry.”

“I guess Pif concocted the Pinnochio lie about you hitting the jackpot in AC? I was a fool to believe that yarn of rags to riches?”

“No, that was true. $440,000 dollars.”

I hiccuped. “Congratulations are in order somewhere in this cocamamey story of deceipt.”

“Look Joe, Epiphany didn’t feel she needed services any longer. Don’t take it personal. She is grateful for your help along the way but she wanted to somehow prove to you she could make it on her own. This was the best she came up with. There was a method to her madness.”

I swallowed hard but it was time for this social worker to get back to business. “Can I say something? I love your daughter but she is a walking ambiguity. Tell her to send me proof of New Jersey residency and a handwritten letter indicating her desire to be discharged from our services. If she no longer wants my involvement, there is no reason for her to keep calling me up inventing imaginary tales.”

A month later, I uncover a letter in my haystack of incoming mail. The return address said Pif and nothing more. I open it. It contained three items. I see Epiphany’s angelic face plastered on a copy of a valid NJ driver’s license. There is also a neatly tucked handwritten letter detailing that she didn’t need me as her social worker. Behind it, I see a tattered picture of two non-harmonious people standing arm and arm next to one of those giant sized slot machines with $WINNERS$ at the bottom of the scroll.

Good luck out there, Epiphany. You are as far away as Arizonia ever was.


February 15, 2005

The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Lambaste

"The mind is like an iceberg, it floats with one-seventh of its bulk above water" -Sigmund Freud

In the last six months, I have become uncharacteristically forgetful. This has become a cauldron of worry for me. Permanent memory loss is a health concern associated with my disease, Mastocytosis. So I would salute if my absentmindedness turned out to be only stress related. I cannot imagine otherwise. My brain prides itself on organization and memory. The magnetic tape of my mind seems to be running thin, worn but not overplayed at forty two years of age. I understand that Decay Theory postulates that the brain works in a diminished capacity after a certain age but I am an invigorating middle aged.

I don't get lost in the day but I search for the familiar in what seems brand new. I must heavily rely on written reminders to myself. A Things to Do List at home, a Things to Do List at work, a Honey-Do List, and a Honey Don’t List. Although it hasn’t reached epidemic proportions and I haven’t hit the panic button, the fear looms like a Robert DeNiro clinging to the undercarriage of the car in Cape Fear. I can still recognize my own handwriting on the Post-It notes. So I got that going for me. This too will pass is what I keep telling myself because I would rue the day when my family members are resigned to wearing nametags for my benefit.

How I fumbled into awareness of the problem is a sad truism but one to be plastered on a website dedicated to irony. It all started when I misplaced a short story on Alzheimer’s disease. A play on words, the story of my life disappeared for months. I couldn’t find it anywhere then one day it turns up spitting out my inkjet printer. What a demented coincidence. Some unseen forces at play must have got out the can of Intrigue to coax me into losing a short story about memory loss. It is the first thing that I lost in a decade but now these little things are happening now and again. Sure I am human but God never made me mortal in this way before. I am going to take a chill pill, perform some self-hypnosis, and see if things are not better in the morning. Good night, whatever your name is. And I pray. God grant me the serenity to not lose all the things I can, to accept the things I cannot bear to lose, and the wisdom to not lose sight of the difference.


February 13, 2005

The Booby Prize

booby prize, noun. -An award given to the one who performs worst in a game or contest. Informal acknowledgment of great inferiority, as in ability.

Richard Hatch, the first winner of the hit TV show Survivor, recently got himself into trouble with the law. Reportedly, the IRS went after Richard Hatch for tax evasion. I am not talking about rounding up to the nearest dollar on a tax return or having no receipt for a pair of jeans donated to the Salvation Army. I am talking about failing to report a one million dollar windfall and another $300,000 for a public appearance on a radio show. What was Hatch thinking? Better stated, why wasn’t Hatch thinking? In this day and age when the long-armed IRS frowns upon even bartering goods and services, there is no chance to go undetected and under the radar screen when you appeared on a mini-series winning a million dollar grand prize. Stomp around on live television grossly naked and acting pompous for thirteen consecutive weeks and you stand an amoeba’s chance at legs. Richard Hatch you dropped the ball once by not wearing clothes on prime time television but you dropped the ball twice failing to report your prize money. If I ever find your picture next to the definition of booby prize, I pray to the Patron Saint of Fashion that you will be wearing clothes. Hatching a plan….I think not. Any fool who laughs all the way to the bank better make sure their accounting is in order. Check out the story at:


February 10, 2005

A Shadowy Reminder of Love

Mirrors should reflect a little before throwing back images. -Jean Cocteau
This story is automatically nominated for the 2005 Freudian Slips Irony Award. It could be better told by Paul Harvey, renowned radio moderator. Please allow me to weave my own Paul Harvey impersonation in prose. Petra, the Jordanian news agency, reported the following case of mistaken identity. Two star crossed Jordanian lovers started an online Internet relationship. Since both were married, each assumed pseudonyms to protect their true identities. The two shared cyber dreams and desires through torrid emails. Their spouses knew nothing of their secret identity. Each vowed to leave their unfulfilled relationships for a chance to start over. When their relationship could not contain itself through cybespace, they agreed to clandestinely meet each other at a train station convenient to the both of them. The tryst consummated at the train station. Sparks flew with the humbling reminder of their marital vows. The two online lovers, however, were not really meeting one another for the first time. In fact, they knew each other very well. They hailed from the same home town and had attended each other’s wedding. They knew all the same people. You see they were indeed married…to each other.
Love can be blind but was it love at second sight for this confused dashing couple? Guess again. Fingers pointed. Sparks flew in rage that fateful day at the train station. The woeful tale of unwittingly rendering their own demise was brought to light in their divorce proceedings. Sometimes the grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence. The splendor of the grass can be a disguise; the same trampled earth we walk on reconstituted by mad cows sent out to pasture.


February 08, 2005

The Almost Super, Super Bowl

Congratulations to the Philadelphia Eagles football team for a marvelous season! Anytime your team has the football at the end of a Super Bowl with a chance to win, it is all a sports fan can ask for. However, bloodying the nose of a reigning champion does little good in deciding the outcome on the gridiron. The Eagles failed to unleash a decisive knockout punch. The 24-21 loss is bittersweet. The Eagles outplayed the precision Patriots for most of the game but turnovers and clock management proved costly. QB Donovan McNabb threw for over 300 yards and 3 touchdowns but his 3 interceptions hurt Philly’s chances. By winning their third Super Bowl in four years, the New England Patriots graduated to a dynasty ready for the Franklin Mint. The Eagles need to regroup. Now if someone could be kind enough to remove this Patriot missile of a dagger from my back, I believe I can heal this nagging football injury before spring.


February 06, 2005

42 Years 288 Days

Everywhere I go I find a poet has been there before me.
-Sigmund Freud.
It took me 42 years and 288 days to become an author. On February 5, 2005 The Mastocytosis Chronicles, published my non-fiction short story, Wish I Could Be like Superman. It is about a single day in my life. It details how a Mastocytosis patient’s life intersected with Christopher Reeve on the day Superman died. After 43 years in writer’s exile, a copy arrived in my mailbox on Wednesday. Stop the press! I haven’t really told people about being published until now but my whole life as a scribe led up to this pinnacle of publication. When Wish I Could Be Like Superman published, this was a proud moment in my life. I would rank it right after marriages and birth of children on a Top Ten List. I might even consider nudging the moment ahead of the ink and parchment of my two college degrees. The only person whom I expressed my joy to barked, “They are only publishing it because you have the disease.” So let me keep it real. I will say quietly what it is with no ringing endorsements or nominations for a Pulitzer Prize. Writer’s write about what they know. Some write about what they don’t know and can get away with it. My prose barely scrapes by on the little I know about this life. I cannot change the diagnosis of my disease nor should I feel shame in writing about a medical condition that has forever changed my life. I confess that The Mastocytosis Chronicles is a newsletter. It requires not a bindery, any office stapler will make do. I also admit that the newsletter doesn’t appear on a newsstand but I don’t need a display case to make me savor the moment. The Mastocytosis Chronicles is a mailer variety and one has to pay their dues to get it. You need a peculiar skin disease called Mastocytosis, a rare disease that when spelled incorrectly spell check assumes you are trying to write “mustachioed.” Hence the newsletter’s circulation is only 500 people worldwide but it didn’t waver my enthusiasm. It has been pointed out to me that I wasn’t paid for my hard work but that doesn’t make a dent in my sense of accomplishment. It didn’t even make the front page of The Mastocytosis Chronicles. I am buried towards the back in pages 20-23 but I rest my laurels in that my name is in the byline. It is enough reinforcement for me to go on writing. The suppression of events weighed heavy on my mind as I took my son to Boy Scouts. His Webelos troop visited a nearby Boy Scout troop. We attended Troop 54 in Lindenwold, who do scouting in an indoor outpost with no climate control. As I walked into the shell of the building, I saw a scout leader tending a fireplace. Entering the smoldering fire was a copy of the Courier Post newspaper article Eagles Fan Dreams of Filling Big Hole in Sports Shrine(See Blog posting XXXIX), an article about me. I saw my picture crinkle and burst into flames. I watched myself being cremated in the cruelest of ironies. So ended another day in the crowded halls of irony. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.


February 03, 2005

Mr. Clean Magic Eraser

Has anyone used this Mr. Clean Magic Eraser product yet? This gizmo is one miracle away from being ordained a saint. This product must be made of biodegradable foam engineered by space aliens on a mission to clean up planet earth. It is revolutionary, the David Copperfield of housecleaning. I kid you not. It is an applicator pad that cleans without any solvent. You just add a little water and poof! You don’t even need elbow grease. A little palm rub and you live in a sterilized sanitarium. Assuming the risk of sounding domesticated here, I wouldn’t be spouting at the mouth over a cleaning product if this thing didn’t check out. It removes fingerprints, scuff marks, soap scum, pond scum, grime, slime, ink in no time, chalk lines from crime scenes, virtually everything left behind but the body. You name it, Magic Eraser tames it. If Magic Eraser were around in the 1970’s it might have cost Alice on the Brady Bunch her housekeeper job but saved eccentric Howard Hughes some pathology. This product can remove everything but sin. The following is an unpaid testimonial. While I was going gangbuster’s cleaning the walls of our open foyer, my wife came home. She told me she was in a scratch and dent automobile mishap. I had Mr. Clean Magic Eraser in my hand when I walked outside to assess the damage. Scraped across the side panels of her middle of life soccer mom minivan, was white paint from another car. I dragged Magic Eraser down the side of the minivan and viola! It disappeared! Not the minivan silly, just the white paint. Bada Nada Ding! I could have my own auto body shop up and running in 24 hours with a pallet of these babies. Why didn’t they have this product when I was in high school. That C grade in Trigonometry which tarnished my report card would have been gone before Alice Cooper could sing No More School for Summer. I would have wiped mediocrity from my school transcript with a finger flick of the Magic Eraser. Only negative is the advertising. Comes with 4 disposable cleaning pads. What they mean is it comes with 4 dissolvable cleaning pads. Nothing goes in the trash. Anything that can clean while it dissolves has my allegiance. A smirking chimp with a banana in one hand could use this product. Try it. Better yet, try Magic Eraser yourself. Forget about handing it to a chimp.


February 01, 2005


The Birdman and The Bee Man

On February 1, 2005 the Gloucester County Times ran a feature article on me in their People Section, a section devoted to the Movers and Shakers of Gloucester County. While this article may create a buzz, I assure you I paid the reporter not a dime to describe my story as "legend." When the reporter pulled up to my house, I was carrying in a copy of his employer's competitor, the Courier Post. The Courier put me in their paper the same day the Times came out to do a different story. I am on no world tour but I have surely exceeded fifteen minutes of fame. The ink hadn’t dried on one story as I was granting an interview for the next. If you think that is ironic, pull up a chair for this. While the reporter and I sat chatting in my living room, the photographer assigned to my story called to say I was scooped because he was trying to get an action shot of a bank heist in progress. He would be late. True crime always seizes the headlines. My bizarre tale of disease, rescue, and notoriety kept the reporter's attention at least. During a lull in the conversation, the reporter chagrined. He admitted that today seemed a little peculiar for him as a reporter. “In what way?” I asked the reporter, coyly turning the tables. “I only have two assignments today. Quite frankly, I am having trouble separating your stories in my mind.” “What do you mean, isn’t it a given that my story is an unusual one?” The reporter inched forward on my couch. His speech slowed to a deliberating pace. “I am covering you - Joe from Ripley’s who is known as the Bee Man. I am also covering a Philadelphia Eagles fan named Joe Ripley known as the Birdman!” I have been centerstage to irony in my life, but this left me incredulous. “Are you kidding me?” “No, I'm totally serious." the reporter relented. "You see, that is why I’m trying not to cross-contaminate your stories.” We both laughed out loud. Once I caught my breath, a triple entendre followed. “That would be like putting the buzz in buzzard.” Holy birds of a feather flock together, Batman! I suppose the Gloucester County Times decided this eerie coincidence needed more enumeration than a guffaw in my living room. They layed out an entire page of us. Top fold, Joe Ripley The Birdman and bottom fold Joe from Ripley’s the Bee Man. It is a Ripley’s Believe It or Not story coming to life. It gets even weirder. The Courier Post story covered me being a rabid Eagles fan (see posting Super Bowl XXXIX) calling me South Jersey’s Super Fan. The Gloucester County Times labeled The Birdman….drum roll please….Super Fan.


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