Freudian Slips: August 2007

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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.

August 29, 2007


Up at the crack of dawn on recent vacation, I snapped this serene picture over Corolla, North Carolina. Staring at the photo seems all I can do to keep the days from bleeding into nights. Like bolting sunrises, another summer season brimming of promises is setting too quickly for my liking.


August 26, 2007

A Monumental Achievement

I am blessed to know a middle-aged client with Down Syndrome who, despite his many achievements in life, he could not grasp money skills. Teachers, tutors, and kin all tried various teaching modalities without successful breakthrough. Forget the practical application of money itself, Trey W. Fitzsimmons' competency broke down with value identification. Whether coins or dollar bills got placed in front of him, he easily became befuddled and red-faced frustration quickly dominated the scene. The best Trey could do was pocket your failure.

A summer vacation in South Dakota changed all that a few months before the turn of the last century. Carved into the southeast face of a mountain, Trey immediately sized up the grandness of The Mount Rushmore monument. His stubby fingers pawed at the stone mountain in his haste. Staring at the big faces of four dead presidents, Trey’s proclamation cut like scissors through the high altitude air. His pointer finger worked magic from left to right.

“One dollar, two dollar, dime, and penny!” he shouted.


August 23, 2007

New to the Neighborhood

It took one year of savings from three jobs to squirrel away enough money to make adequate down payment to afford this luxury sedan. Add a rear spoiler, rad pinstriping, and a power moonroof and viola you have my tricked out push button start 2007 Nissan Altima SL. I just dream of more movie scenes with actor Mark Wahlberg laying around than dirty toilets needing scrubbing like on my third job, because I do not want the Repo man to take my baby away.


August 19, 2007


-Joseph Tornatore dressed if not to kill then to ticket punch.

When is getting a job as a train conductor yet denied permission to board your train a good thing? Let me tell you about my unusual go of it lately. It all started when I took a part time job as a train conductor then got railroaded.

I play J. Dropik, a train conductor, in mega director M Night Shymalan’s next movie, The Happening. I do not want to get too far down the track here without stopping at the next station. My character is in only one short scene despite it taking two days to film. Moreover, the entire scene outside the railroad station could end up on the chopping block and never make the final cut. After all, there is little certainty on the production end of the movie business.

Now onto conducting good news about not catching the train:

*I wound up on the right track when I got cast in the same close-up scene with multi-talented actor Mark Wahlberg. Surrounded by six far more talented actors than yours truly, I acted accordingly. Watching Wahlberg act up close and personal was technically educational.

*M Night Shymalan gave me goosebumps when he called me by my first name on the set to give me instruction to raise the train schedule prop higher to be in frame for another take.

*On the afternoon of the second day, I found myself standing alone next to Mark Wahlberg. I picked his genius brain about one of my favorite movies, The Departed, which won an Oscar for Best Picture. After stating a heartfelt compliment about his convincing supporting acting in that movie, Mark thrusted his hand out for me to shake. He smiled and thanked me for saying that. I introduced myself and just the two of us chatted before the director called for picture up. Now time for Mark to go back to work, he excused himself but promised to return to share more interesting trivia. With heavy lead in my conductor boots, I mouthed, “I ain’t going nowhere. Whalberg nailed the movie take with co-star John Legazamo then came back and started talking to me about the movie The Departed like we had no departure.

*After my character wrapped for the movie, M Night Shymalan proved his graciousness to agree to pose for a candid picture with me.

*While boarding the bus to leave the set, a complete stranger slipped me a manilla folder. Inside rested a priceless 8x10 color photo still of my scene in the movie. There I stood frozen in time acting my scene out with Mark Wahlberg. It is hard not to believe an angel from actor’s heaven gave it to me.

Some people miss the boat in life. I missed the train this week and it was one of the most memorable experiences of my life.


August 16, 2007

The Cigarette After

Beatrice Lilly Dungstone sat in a lurch, sideways on the seat of the parked company car that provided her transport. Her swollen edema ridden legs dangled short of the ground. With the door ajar, I stood over her, hoping for an end to her convulsive snorts on a lit cigarette. Her savory pucks could have convinced me it was the last cigarette in the carton.
Bending a bushy eyebrow, Beatrice longingly asked, “Will you still be my case manager after you find me that apartment to live in?”
“No. I will have to transfer you to another case manager. I do not have that type of a caseload.”
The cigarette dangled now in her mouth as she jawed. She exhaled plume. ”That is awesome news!”
“What do you mean?” I questioned with trailing rejection. “I did not expect you to get out tissues and cry but I thought we were getting along famously.”
“That is just it. I like you too much, Joe.” A sweet spot activated the makings of Beatrice's flawed smile. “Since you won’t be my case manager in the future, that’ll remove almost all conflict of interest between us. If you are willing to take off your wedding ring for a few hours, I would like to invite you over for a dinner for two.”
I tried to salvage an air of professionalism in the heat of the moment. “There will be none of that. I think you are puffing prematurely on that cigarette, young lady.”


August 14, 2007

Riding the Wave

We just returned from a sun soaked vacation in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Twenty members on my wife's side of the family shared a magnificient beachfront mansion in the upscale town of Corolla. Pictured here is a zippy waverunner that I got up to 54 mph to cool off a blistering 95 degree day.
While vacationers endured some of the highest temperatures on record in North Carolina, our family was fortunate in that we rented a home with an inground pool and access to a private ocean approximately two hundred yards from the back door. Family members took turns cooking meals and sharing resources. The many children enjoyed beach volleyball, water polo, shopping, sightseeing, go-karts, flying kites, spectacular sunsets and sunrises, nightly game board play, fireworks on the beach, an organized treasure hunt, even swimming with fearless dolphins in the sea.

My vacation highlight involved finding myself absolutely alone on the beach one gorgeous partly cloudy afternoon. It seemed uncanny to find absolutely nobody as far as I could see on the private beach. The absence of distraction and outside noises proved deafening. So I parked my bones at the water's edge in the shallow water of a sand bar where I revisited a simpler life. For well over an hour, I marveled at the crashing waves and felt the gritty undertow try to claim me like quicksand. As a prevailing breeze swept my sparse hair, this foreign body stuck in island mud became one with Mother Nature. I emerged from the ocean thinking how blessed it is to simply be alive.


August 02, 2007

Rabbit in His Blood

Fleshing out a night on the town, Joe Tornatore at the Playboy Casino in Atlantic City, NJ circa 1980.


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