Freudian Slips: April 2006

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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.

April 30, 2006

Different Drums

She demanded a romantic relationship
singing the praises of white doves in flight.
He protested for the platonic friendship
harping against making love this night.
She leaned forward to kiss him
after applying light glossy lipstick.
He turned away and she missed him
her efforts trite and minus magic.
She begged him to surrender his flight
reassuring him their secret would be airtight.
After coaxing him to a motel canopy bed
he hosted the guilt of being dirt cheap.
He made a final plea to remain friends
but in actuality he saw little sleep.
She loosened his white shirt and tie
while his body hardened like stone coral.
Disillusioned to her spiteful lies
her schmoozing touch seduced his morals.
In the morning she peacefully awoke
the two snuggled in wrinkled satin sheets.
He politely smiled before cracking a joke
but his conscience racked with deceit.
She talked a lot or so it was seeming
but her shallow words lacked any meaning.
She mockingly laughed at the married guy
before shuffling off to a hot bubble bath.
His act of adultery caused a shameful cry
thus shutting the door on her cold troubled wrath.
by Joe Tornatore


April 27, 2006

Sixty Six Pounds Sopping Wet

- A house without mirrors is like a beach without sand.
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April 25, 2006

The Pros and Cons of Stacking the Deck

I saw a television news report about Florida inmates playing cards. Four jailbirds occupied a round table playing a game of poker. At first glance, I couldn’t find anything newsworthy about killing downtime in the klink waiting for a commuted sentence. Then the camera zoomed in on the playing cards handled by the captive audience. Each card had narrative about an unsolved crime, an actual picture of the victim, along with contact information in the event you could produce a lead. Believe it or not, inmates are using these cards for recreation like cheese bait waiting for a rat to snitch. I am not a betting man but I don’t think whoever had a hand in the manufacturing of these cards ever consulted victim’s rights groups. The news report fashioned these cards as a good thing waiting to happen.
Other than sadistic inmates, who would use these playing cards? I don’t even know if motorcycle gangs would break out these playing cards at a rain delayed Harley Davidson rally. I doubt whether these cards could be put to tasteful use in the break room of TV’s America’s Most Wanted studio. I don’t foresee the general public looking to cheer up their Saturday night poker tournaments with these specialty card decks. In my opinion, I find it obnoxious giving convicted criminals essentially a toy to make a game out of advertising the unsolved crimes of their more skilled counterparts. If we need to stack the deck, why not just remove all of the Get Out of Jail Free cards from Monopoly boards in penal institutions? Are these twisted decks of cards a feasible way to search for at-large criminals or are we continuing to murder the victim’s memories? Do we need to randomly shuffle the victims in a deck of cards and deal them out to convicts to use as props for illicit betting in games? Are we that skewed on justice that we must ante up to unsolved crime? Must we resort to associating the cold cases with amusement from the cagey criminal element? Is it homage or carnage if Jone Benet Ramsey or Nicole Simpson are aces of the deck? If a victim is made a slain king or queen is it disrespect or honor? Personally speaking, I have had trouble finishing my breakfast cereal after glancing at a picture of a Missing Person on a milk carton. So I just can’t extend compassion to the defenseless victims slaughtered at the hands of the cunning if they are being pawed by greased palms and used for wager as part of a straight queen high. I have had heard about some bad deals in my life. Maybe more crimes will be solved through card playing but the only people who are being dealt worse hands than the criminals seem the victims…all over again.


April 23, 2006

It's About Time

- Philadelphia Flyers wall clock $79.00

When time is on my side, I find it relaxing to immerse myself headfirst into personal projects for commercial gain. Because of its uniqueness, my latest creation took two months to put together.
First, I mail ordered a nifty wall clock that featured a function to record five second audio sound bites which play at the top of every hour. When it arrived on my doorstep about ten days later, it was time to play with father time. On the plain face of the clock, I substituted attention-grabbing pictures of members from the 1974 Philadelphia Flyers team for unadorned numerals.
The next step involved obtaining actual game commentary from this championship season that would coincide with the position of each player’s picture on the clock. I remembered a promotional item from my privileged childhood when Philadelphia sports teams actually won championship games. Thanks to Ebay’s exhaustive search engine, I won a vintage 1974 LP entitled Champions Again, a record that relives the actual play-by-play calls during that banner season. To attract handsome bids, my fine upstanding Ebay seller went out of his way to advertise in bold print like this that the record was factory sealed and never opened. When it arrived in the mail like a blue line special, my utility knife couldn’t wait to slice open the crackling cellophane and smell its trapped newness. Like a birth thirty years in the making, I removed the record from its fold. I didn’t even need to bring the record cover to my nose to knows it smelled rancid. Small but noticeable water stained markings also defaced the cover. Although deemed more brand spanking new than a baby’s behind, the record itself bore the smudgy fingerprints of its original owner. I dusted for fingerprints but this magic trick cost me at the box office. The record and I both felt about as good as used. Buyer beware because Ebay is full of sly foxes in the corporate henhouse. No worse for ware, the used record looked like it had enough grit to spin around a few more times.
I now needed something archaic to play it on. It might have been easier asking Kate Smith to sing the national anthem at this year’s Flyers home playoff games than finding a record player for sale. I went round and round in the first three stores I visited. Once I found a nostalgic record player for sale, it had to be back ordered. When it came in, I chomped at the diamond bit to finish this project. Soon a forty four year old balding man could be seen spinning a record without music to relive sports moments of his lost childhood. Hours passed in not only my glee but in my obsessive struggle to narrow down my best dozen sound bites for each hour on the clock. When I came to terms with my decision-making, I recorded the distinguished voice of announcer Gene Hart for all of sixty seconds.
Only sheer irony allowed me to finish this project on the eve of this year’s Philadelphia Flyers playoff run for Lord Stanley's Cup. Time flies when you are having fun and this adage has withstood the test of time. Come to think of it, thirty years have passed since the Philadelphia Flyers won the Stanley Cup. Like my new wall clock, it’s about time.

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April 20, 2006

As The World Turns

I Google image searched a former professional baseball player by the name of Del Unser only to hit rock bottom with this unusual spread. Even a well-traveled journeyman outfielder like Del could turn another cheek and I don't think he could ever look this secular.
Finding these naked buttocks makes me worry what children get exposed to as they search for information on the Internet. Children too have the whole world in their hands with the click of a mouse button. Speaking of world views, I wish to digress and discuss geography. At 45 degrees longitude and 30 degrees latitude, the embattled country of Iraq falls right in between the cracks.


April 18, 2006

The No Joy No Luck Club

In retrospect, I have had the privilege of only peripherally knowing Theorell Z. Chapman. Since we attend the same gym, sheer proximity has been a causative factor in our interfacing. He once asked me to be a good sport and play him a game of racquetball or we might never have wound up on the same court. We shared the same Trotter workout equipment on occasion. I cycled next to him on a stationary bike when there was a machine available. We passed each other incidentally on the jogging track never more familiar than a stated first name and standard hello.
About the time I considered Theorell not a stranger and an acquaintance, he became stranger. He started to behave so differently it would have been easier to argue a body snatcher theory and that he became a different person all together. Fellow gym members spread rumors about his outrageous behavior that spared not bursts of aggression and touched on inappropriateness with females. I expressed a word of caution to his best friend in that he might seek professional help for Theorell. All in all, the word around the gym was fitting of a midwife; give Theorell a wide birth. After heeding the community warning, twenty four hours later I realized how difficult even good advise is to employ.
As I approached the club from the parking lot, I saw Theorell's looming face nearly pressed to the glass windows. Just my luck. As if I were his long lost best friend, Theorell nearly vaulted over the counter after he saw me enter the gym. He whisked by vending machines and two startled ladies on a tour of the establishment to approach me from behind. His frantic maneuvers bordered on an emergency needing my immediate attention.
“Just the guy I was looking for. Give me your home phone number?” he asked.
I turned to head him off at the pass. He was a steam engine cooling so it took longer than it should for us to stop in the vestibule.
“What for?” I asked.
“Joe, just give me your phone number!” His perseverance succeeded only in spraying me with a dose of spittle.
I took a step backwards, which I reasoned was etiquette in establishing a no-spittle zone but an act that he perceived as a breach in interest.
“If you don’t want to give me your home phone number, let me take your cell phone number.”
Theorell moved back in close to me and made no bones about invading my personal space. The amount of spittle spraying from his mouth convinced me of two things. My no spittle zone lacked a large enough perimeter and Theorell had forgotten how to talk.
“What do you need my phone number for?” I fretted. “You see me all the time at the gym.”
“Just in case.” he spat.
“In case of what?” I asked. He didn’t answer. In fact, Theorell was growing perturbed by my roadblocks. I invited, “I got a great idea. Why don’t you just talk to me now and we can call it a day?”
“A phone number is required for what I have planned for you.”
“And what exactly is your plan for me, Theo?”
“I started a secret racquetball club.” He whispered in hush tones. “I want to make you a high ranking official. I got vice-president position still open, if you want it.”
I have gotten my share of bad bounces in racquetball but this was the most perfect three-wall shot that came from nowhere to crack unplayable in the corner. Theorell held up his cell phone and advertised that he was primed to store my number in his directory. No luck and now no joy. I took a moment to gather my faculties, insight now sorely lacking in Theorell.
I volleyed back. “I am a reasonable man but how secret can your secret racquetball club be if the game is played on public courts?”
“Be that way!” Theorell dismissively threw up his hands while his voice vexed anger and rejection. “You don’t have to join our secret club. You think you’re too good for us.”
My stride quickened and the locker room was almost in sight. I was almost away from Theorell when I heard him launch another counter attack. “Okay, how about your blog address? Joe, give me one of those business cards that you give out to club members.”
I didn’t give him my business card. Theorell doesn’t need to read about himself here. Perhaps his secret society is doing just fine without me and maybe it is a well kept secret afterall….because nobody has seen Theorell in a long time.


April 16, 2006

A Basket Case

One doesn't have to be an eggspert to recognize this Easter photograph as truly tasteless and reprehensible. The photo pastel paints a harey carey scene that has everything but skid marks from a braking automobile. I was shell-shocked when I saw it on the Internet and it left me hopping mad.


April 13, 2006

The Tooth, The Whole Tooth

While driving to have our taxes prepared by our personal accountant, my wife and I agreed that the arduous process amounts to having a tooth extracted. It was imagined pain worthy of only the analogy and the task before us. Thirty minutes into the audit, our accountant got sidetracked from line item deductions. Once she reached for her mouth, I knew it was all over. She dove into a four minute soliloquy about having a tooth pulled. I slumped lower in my chair and sat there in unaccountable disbelief. I thought to myself, how do you think we feel? She had no idea. I cringed listening to her detailed explanation about the bloody procedure. She rambled on about the whole tooth and nothing but the tooth. I never once thought about The Daniel Blume Award for Excellence in Reporting. This was no longer imagined pain. Achingly so, this was the real McCoy.

Having our finances scrutinized for tax preparation is a lot like a bad trip to the dentist. But when your own accountant complains about a tooth pull too, it reminds me that at least my dentist gives anesthesia.


April 11, 2006

Dead Ringer of an Impersonation

In 2005, a newspaper ran a human interest story about the sports memorabilia in my home. From a splotch of newsprint, I attracted short-lived notoriety, fans, and business inquiries. Pollard Redksin is one such ardent Philadelphia sports fan. He finagled an ingenious way to get my home phone number, which is not listed under my name. Pollard telephoned to congratulate me on my memorabilia collection and super fan status. I took the call. We talked sports and I kept things impersonal. I could never really figure out what Pollard wanted other than him wanting to become my best friend. The call raised a red flag the size of Kansas. I made sure the surveillance cameras in and around our home passed diagnostics.
In a subsequent call, Pollard connived one of my kids into surrendering my cell phone number. That is when the real fun began. I felt like a hostage to his regular calls to talk sports but I always gave him respect and as much distance as humanely possible. I figured he would go away. After two weeks, the frequency of phone calls subsided then it all came to a screeching halt. Pollard must have found a better friend is all I wish to say.
Fourteen months later, I am alone in my car and for no reason Pollard Redskin comes to mind. Pollard Redskin’s nasal voice remained etched in my hard wiring. Pollard owned the affliction of an annoying voice that a hearing impaired person wouldn’t forget. How can I describe his unmistakable voice? Humm, if Gilbert Godfrey called me without introducing himself I would still know it was him. All things pertaining to Pollard resurrected: his uncommon name, his unusual voice, even his exalted story of mingling with greatness when he stole former Philadelphia Eagles Vaughn Hebron’s used napkin at a restaurant. Without rehearsal, I did a damned good impersonation of Pollard's voice. I did it aloud so that my ears could get feedback in the quiet car. I adlibbed the following contrived speech:
“Joe, your buddy Pollard Redskin here. You probably don’t remember me but a little over a year ago you and I almost were friends. You mentioned in passing that you were looking for a specific picture of Pelle Lindberg, God rest his soul. I happened to obtain that exact photo and I wouldn’t mind dropping it off. Maybe I can finally see your house…”
A spooky dead ringer of an impersonation, I stopped the conversation when my voice sounded more like Pollard Redskin’s than my memory of him. I got home and not five minutes into the house the phone rang. It was not Pollard Redskin but my youngest brother. I recently hooked my brother up with the South Jersey Paranormal Research group. As a fledgling member, my brother had just concluded his first investigation. My brother shared his exuberance and we began to talk about psychic phenomenon. I told my brother of my casual interest but trumping reluctance in becoming an investigator with the same paranormal group. We grew up in a house where irony, coincidence, the unusual, and the unexplained were normal occurrences. I told my brother that outside of relentless irony, I have been successful at somehow quieting the occurrences of my childhood. I told my brother to have a good time storming Frankenstein’s castle but to leave me out of the chase. I related that the last thing I wanted to have happen was to be followed home by a goblin or for some discarnate demon to take residence in a balding social worker turned hack ghostbuster. After our lively conversation concluded and before I even had time to let go of that receiver, the phone rang again. When I read the name of Pollard Redskin in the Caller ID box, I freaked out. Incredulous, I started to run probability odds as I answered the phone in a soft worried voice. Pollard Redskin proceeded to repeat almost verbatim what I thought I had invented in the car leaving me to wonder who was zooming who?
“Joe, your buddy Pollard Redskin here. You probably don’t remember me but a little over a year ago you and I almost were friends. You mentioned in passing that you were looking for a specific picture of Pelle Lindberg, God rest his soul. I happened to obtain that exact photo and I wouldn’t mind dropping it off. Maybe I can finally see your house…”
What started out as a human interest story led to a supernatural event. I made one lousy referral to a paranormal group and the eerie stuff returned. I hope the forces at work accept my brother as human sacrifice and leave me the hell alone.


April 09, 2006

Child's Play

As a social worker, I worry about the safety of children. The Stopitnow organization is trying to get the word out about sexual predators with an advertising campaign on roadside billboards. Sexual predators target a vulnerable population. They exploit innocence. They almost irreparably tarnish new silverwared souls. While I wholeheartedly embrace the Stopitnow cause, I must criticize their choice of advertising.
Pictured is one in a series of billboards sponsored by the Stopitnow organization. This advertisement denounces children’s play. Isn’t the issue overstated and a mixed message at best? For every child forewarned and educated about sexual abuse another child may become fear mongered and foreclose on playtime. These billboards are warning signs in the most troubling sense of the word. The messaging littering these billboards makes not for an even playing field.
I wonder if just as much harm as good is being accomplished. Why not have a split billboard reinforcing that child’s play is good and the other half of the billboard hinting at the rare danger? Examine the headline of this particular billboard. Hide and Seek is about fear and child abuse. I never earned a college degree in marketing but wouldn’t this be less pointed: Hide and Seek…Parents Should Stay on the Lookout. In a small font run a parenthesized tag line effecting that (Abusers often use child’s play for exploitation.)
If there is an anti-defamation league for children in existence, I would like to refer this case. For every grandparent innocently playing pretend games with their grandchild, for every babysitter that is deriving imaginative play from boredom, for every Big Brother that has taken time out of their lives to make a difference in someone else’s life, your efforts are neither represented or appreciated in this advertising campaign. For every literate child who sees one of these disturbing billboards, children’s play is not always to be feared.
Advertising that child's play is all together bad is not all together such a good idea either. Somebody should Stopitnow before it is too late.


April 06, 2006

A Spring Fling of Winter

My four mile commute to work today included four separate but distinct weather patterns. It started out as an innocent day with sunshine peaking out of partial cloudiness. A mile into my drive, clouds blanketed the sky and spouted a hard rain. I kicked my windshield wipers on full speed. A couple of blocks later, the rain stopped. I silenced the wipers. A brief respite followed before light pebbly sleet tinged off of the windshield. The wiper blades were turned back on. The temperature outside must have dropped because I began to feel cold enough to turn on the heater unit. About a mile ahead, I could see a great wall of whiteout sweeping left to right. I wasn't real sure what I was about to drive into. When the sleet line ended, I didn’t bother to touch my moving wiper blades. Good thing. I drove right into a wall of wind swept snow.
Just yesterday I purchased tomato plants for the garden. It just goes to snow you.


April 04, 2006


In 2005, I received an unsolicited New Jersey Energy Choice Shopping Guide pamphlet in the mail. Since I consider myself an informed consumer, I naturally began to shop for natural gas suppliers over the telephone. Nothing seemed cost effective enough to warrant changing my current supplier until I found a company that was so hungry for new customers it was offering a free Carnival five day cruise. It seemed fishy to me so I looked for the catch. They offered a competitive price per thermal unit but new customers had to sign up for a minimum of eighteen months. My wallet has always been slow on the draw so the year and a half obligation seemed as cautionary a tale as a green light turning yellow. The salesman’s sales pitch soon got off his product and settled on his promotion, the free cruise. Before long I visualized myself wearing nothing but Bermuda shorts doing a middle age man’s rendition of Leonardo DiCaprio impersonation off the front of the ship. My mind drifted. After he reeled me back in, I agreed to change gas suppliers.

A short transition period of firing the old gas supplier and hiring the new one followed. My new gas supplier mailed out my new contract along with my free cruise prize redemption letter. I immediately called the travel agent listed on the prize redemption letter. I inquired about pricing and availability. I should have realized that something was wrong when the agent bragged that I could go almost anywhere in the world. The agent seemed duly motivated in accommodating my choice of beachfront destinations. I had my sunglasses all but packed when I learned that the free prize stipulates double occupancy in small 6 point invisible ink on the back page of the redemption letter. A Buy One Get One Free cruise deal still seemed worth changing suppliers. Heck, I was toying with the idea of taking my wife on the vacation anyway. However, the price quotes were astronomical. The ballooned prices exceeded the regular price for two strangers who had just met walking into a run of the mill travel agency with no coupon and bad credit. Not counting my sunglasses, the deal seemed shady. I less than graciously told them to stick it where the sun doesn’t shine. I ripped up the prize letter, which offered no redemption, and summarily considered myself duped. It took me nearly a year to lodge a complaint to my new gas supplier about the bogus cruise giveaway. When I did, my comments weren’t complimentary.

“Enough about the cruise to nowhere.” I changed subjects. “Here is the real reason I called you. I want to find out how many more months I have with you jokers?”

He gave me a future point in time, which seemed an eternity away.

“That long? What is the penalty if I cancel now?”

“Foolishness.” he labeled.

“What did you say?” I piped. “I want your name. Did you just call me a fool?”

“Listen, I know you’re sore about the cruise thing but that business arrangement was made with an independent company. We don't have any control over their price structuring. If I can get back to talking gas supply for a moment, the terms of your contract locked you in at a ridiculously cheap fixed rate for 18 months. You must know the price of natural gas has skyrocketed. You haven’t noticed that your gas bill hasn’t gone up?”

“Maybe. Maybe not.” Cruise or no cruise, I held my ground like the fool he made me out to be.

“Sir, by signing on with us, you are paying over $1.32 LESS per thermal unit than the competition. You are saving hundreds of dollars this winter alone. Now, do you really still want to cancel us?”

It was time to look the gift horse in the eye. “I can somehow see beyond my anger now. Forget I even called.” I gassed. “You guys are great.”

Sometimes redemption is not what you think it is.


April 02, 2006

The Razor's Edge

I will never forget the first time that I heard the pairing of the following three words.
“She’s a cutter.” confided the school girl.
I drew an impression of truancy and my thoughts bordered pontification. You can’t learn if you cut class. Attendance is the prerequisite to participation. Education is the vehicle to self-advancement. Well, I must not be in touch with the teenage generation because I assumed better of what turned out to be a chilling explanation.
“My friend doesn’t miss school.” explained the girl. “She cuts herself with knives! That’s what I meant by cutter.”
“She mutilates herself with knives?" I restated in a question.
I had to ask for the sake of argument. “On purpose?”
The teenager was quick to respond. “Is there any other kind? That’s what a cutter does, silly.”
“I hope you’re talking about an isolated incident and not behavior that is habit forming.”
“She’s a cutter. Cutters do that repeatedly.” she mentored. “No biggie. Everybody is friends with a cutter.”
From the sounds of it, there seemed to be too much social acceptance for an institutional behavior like self-mutilation. I thought back to my own childhood, looking for similarities but begging for differences. As a teenager, I was too scared to prick my finger to be anyone’s blood brother. I didn’t even want to shave when it was time. I shuddered to think that today’s youth are voluntarily slicing and dicing their flesh into shredded meat. I am too squeamish to even think in those bloody terms. Such an extreme self-destructive cry for attention should be about as popular as kamikazes signing binding contracts on the dotted line during wartime. I was wrong. After doing a preliminary research, I learned that cutting is a nationwide problematic behavior among teenagers. Over 1.9 million Americans are cutters. More troubling, the majority of cutters have been the victims of sexual abuse. Cutting is like adding injury to insult. The cuts run deeper than meets the eye. It is a symbolic manifestation of the hurt held inside.
...Somebody ought to take that cutter out of school to get her professional help.


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