Freudian Slips: October 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.

October 31, 2007

Now Witch Is It?

This year, think twice before removing your Halloween decorations with nobody home. Do not let what accidentally happened to me last year happen to you.
Afraid of heights, my wobbly knees climbed the 12-foot aluminum ladder to the Palladian window facing the front of our house. I boarded the wooden ledge then dismantled the life-size witch from her decorative perch. As I began to broom sweep the cleared landing, my wife pulled into the driveway a tad too deliberately for her customary lead foot.
I peered out the arched window and into the cool crisp air of a November night. With the chandelier lights blaring through the foyer of an otherwise quiet and dark house, my illuminated presence was there for all to see. I must have loomed bigger than the full moon that painted ET’s silhouette on that famous bicycle ride. With the broom swinging in my hands and my loose fitting pants begging for a belt, I must have not looked any better situated than an extraterrestrial on a bike.
Leaving the car, my stepson Jimmy wisecracked, “Now that is a scarier sight than the witch he took down.”


October 28, 2007

Carving Out a Niche

I got to hand it to this pumpkin carver, Halloween can be a crack!

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October 25, 2007

Loose Lips Link Freudian SLips

Break out the cone-shaped party hats and annoying noisemakers for my blog Freudian Slips turned three years old today. Writing with a particular style and purpose in mind while keeping self-imposed timelines has made me a better writer than when I hatched this blog back in 2004.
I would like to take this time to thank my faithful readership and my irony-rich life, which continues to fill up internet space with only a smidgen of additional storytelling on my part. The words at my fingertips that connect to the world at large is exciting, fascinating, and strangely rewarding.
Five hundred short stories and fifty thousand visitors later, no viable publisher has come forward to publish this menagerie of irony for untold millions. Still, I feel compelled to continue to write for the betterment of myself and anybody who will listen at a close second. I receive emails from all over the world, if for no other reason than a Google search leads to my authored short stories on subjects people were interested in learning more about.
So may the anonymous comments continue because I still do not know your identities in most instances. Thanks to the anonymous donor of Broadway theatre tickets. Thanks to the high-ranking employee of a large book publisher who mailed me free hardback books. Thanks to the marketing department over at The FX channel for the care package you sent after reading here I was an actor on one of your television shows. Thanks to the patrons of my book Stop and Smell the Silk Roses for not making me honor the money back guarantee. Special thanks to my generous readers who made bonafide donations into my Paypal account. I would like to thank all of the people who I would not know on the street if they walked by me but I would recognize their email address this side of the
Now if you will excuse me, I have been babbling on so long about this birthday of sorts that I forgot that I have to pee.


October 22, 2007

The Red Carpet Treatment

It was not exactly Hollywood Boulevard but my shoe-shined feet glided across the red carpet last Saturday night. My entourage included my wife, who dolled up looked like a sexy knockout, my brother Jim, and my close friend Mike.

We attended a private screening at United Artist Theatres in Turnersville, NJ for the independent movie Eclipse. The event gave the cast and crew the first chance to see their handiwork on the big screen before it makes the film festival circuit in the expectation of being sold outright.
The invitation specified proper attire so I climbed uneasily into a monkey suit. Directed by Justin Novelli Stuempfle, the making of this full-length movie claimed two years of his life to film and produce. It is about a religious cult and the mind control preying on its members. The acting held its own.
Playing a detective, I made the final cut in a 15-second clip. I made a forceful arrest of a bad guy. Let me just say that I saw this perpetrator's rap sheet and he deserved to be roughed up a little. Post-production did a marvelous job making my scene look realistic because my counterpart was not exactly a pushover at a towering 6’5”.
I do not like to get dressed up but the event suited me fine. It was a night that eclipsed no other and my entourage needed no detective work to find me in the movie.


Country Roads

-Gosh, I love this picture.


October 17, 2007

The Uno Slumber

Beatrice Lilly Dungstone was the broken tree branch on a fallen family tree. Assigned to be her social worker, it was my job to mend fences after an unnatural disaster in the home she lived.
A short rap on her front door later, Beatrice shouted for me to enter in the gravelly voice of a lifelong heavy smoker. The harshness in her voice served to neutralize the invitation inside. As the front door swiveled on its creaking hinges, the interior presented as far from commendable as condemnable would allow. Mounds of strewn clothes and junk inundated the foyer. I realized that it would be enter-at-my-own risk from here on out.
I turned sideways to gain passage from the foyer through a hallway equally choked by possessions. Forging my way through a tight alley, I found my client sitting in a compressed lounge chair with exposed coiled springs. Sanford and Son belongings were piled waist high around her in no particular order. Paying no mind, she sat watching television with appreciation. While my head swirled with unspoken sharp judgment, Beatrice did her best mind reading act.
“Can you believe me and pa live like this?”
“Do you really want me to answer that one, Bea?”
“Nah, I know what you gotta be thinking.”
No shortage of water stain marks on the walls and ceiling made it difficult to determine the actual root cause. The roof had obviously failed at some point but the collateral damage done was not the surprising part. My jaw went agape observing leaky windows clogged on the inside sills by feminine napkins. She caught me staring at custom rigging a manufacturer never laboratory tested.
“I know that is not lady like but pa didn’t seem to mind as long as they plugged leaks.”
I asked, “Mind if I have a look in your refrigerator?”
Beatrice seemed honest about my request. “Not, if you don’t mind.”
I walked over strewn extension cords and entered the shambles of a lonely kitchen. Even though I now stood on a rotting floor bottom that I did not know woul support my weight, it seemed a minor achievement to make it this far. My shoe heel stuck to the ripped vinyl flooring covered by an inch of dust, grime, and litter. I literally winced with apprehension as I opened the once white refrigerator door now covered in greasy fingerprints. Cooling in the refrigerator, was spoiled food and useless mothballs. For the first time I witnessed cobwebs inside a refrigerator. The bottom shelves had been removed to accommodate the unthinkable gesture of hospitality.
I sighed, “There is a cat litter box in your refrigerator!”
“Don’t worry. Both cats died.” Beatrice’s face slumped to a petulant pout that in a weird way self-leveled her shoddy application of lipstick.
“You sandwiched a cat litter box in a closed refrigerator? Never mind. Where are the cat carcasses?”
“I buried them varmints outback but the darn animals done got to them.”
“Don’t you mean the animals not living inside the house got to the cats?”
“Yeah, those darn animals, Joe. Do you wanna see the rest of the house?”
“Is that a trick question? Okay, I suppose it is my responsibility to give the rest of the house a fair chance. As far as you know, is there anything or anyone else dead in this house?”
“What do you take me for, a murderer?" snapped Beatrice. "Follow me. I’ll show you the garage.”
Beatrice marched me to the single garage in a way that made me feel like I needed a tether rope to find my way back the way I came. The belongings in the garage ranged to my shoulders. An array of tools, garbage never curbed, lawn equipment, early model Schwin bicycles, and unsold yard sale items plastered the garage. The collection made it an impassable impossible storage unit.
She offered, “Anything you see that you can use, compliments of the house. Just take it.”
“I am not allowed to take anything. That would be taking advantage of you.” Sarcasm raked over my tongue. “Besides, there is so much profit here, it would be downright criminal of me.”
This dysfunctional family’s adaptability in disability was startling. Billowing smoke from the washing machine disrupted the electrical wiring during the Watergate hearings. Instead of calling for an electrician to fix the problem, they resorted to hand washing clothes for the rest of their natural born lives. Complicating matters, the laundry room mishap shorted out the kitchen lighting. Therefore, they laid down extension cords to provide an alternate source of power. The kitchen faucet began to drip, then leak, then gush water. Instead of calling a Johnny-on-the-spot plumber, they moved kitchen operations to a spotty downstairs windowless bathroom. Next to an inoperable blackened toilet bowl in the soup to nuts bathroom, dirty dishes piled in a discolored plastic drain board. Bathroom toilets too took turns springing leaks prompting not a repairman’s call but valve shut off. The residents decided to deal with the inconvenience of not having plumbing by wearing diapers like incontinent nursing home residents. By hardship or indifference, they had cooked their last home cooked meal but they never purged the old canned and boxed food items from the crowded pantry. I stared at discontinued dusty products no longer on the market.
“Don’t worry about that food. I am going to box them up. I said it last year but it is that time of year again for the Boy Scouts to collect canned goods for a food drive.”
My demeanor soured. “You are confusing a food drive with a botulism outbreak. With no disrespect to your generosity, you cannot donate these items…not even last year. Beatrice, these canned goods are as good as trash.” I read the falling label off a can of baked beans. “These baked beans expired before that farting scene in Blazing Saddles.”
As the house tour continued, Animal Control should have been present with metal cages. Dumpy squirrels made trespass in the attic while smarmy mice patrolled the first floor. Bees occupied a corner of the basement where the foundation joined the house. They brought stray cats inside to chase other animals away. The cats took refuge but they tore up the furniture fabric, pissed on all the carpets, and apparently never correlated toileting inside a closed refrigerator either. I stood on the dirtiest shag carpet I have ever seen wondering about the former splendor of the original color. The remnants needed pitching a decade ago. The basement sump pump failed then eventually flooded. A permeating rustic water line marked above the first cinderblock. Choked by seeping rainwater, the heater unit died by drowning.
I followed Beatrice up the stairs to the second floor. Junkpiles rose and covered the bedroom windows to the extent of compromising any natural light trying to creep in. In the darkness, the junk eventually fell behind the closed doors of the second and third bedroom thus preventing their opening. Covered by all seasons of clothes, the beds were rendered useless for sleeping. The gagging smell of urine emanating from the master bedroom bit my nostrils. I maneuvered my shirt above my nose like a bandit.
Beatrice said, “You can tell I had a few accidents, huh?”
I asked, “What is inside the hundreds of small boxes in the master bedroom?”
“I sell Pampered Chef and Avon products in the neighborhood. They are my deliveries.”
“You what?” I said incredulously. “Why you don’t have a functional kitchen nor running water to take baths and you sell high end luxuries?”
“I got to make a living, Joe. I will give you a brochure. I got one tucked somewhere around this house somewhere. Help me find it, why don’t you?”


October 14, 2007

Life at a Crawl in Tinsel Town

-Joseph Tornatore as a teddy bear clinging bambino.


October 10, 2007

Rubbing Salts

As my car idled at the corner of Broad and Snyder in South Philadelphia, I thought about the road ahead. Giving an old-fashioned technologically challenged Italian man his first ride in my loaded 2007 Nissan Altima would produce magic moments. My inner ear will bend to hold true the thick Italian accent from the old country, sounds that will encapsulate my father-son memories long after his passing.
Beaten by the hardships of life, a seventy-year-old man crossed the busy street. He is dressed in nice fitting slacks that his own gifted hands designed and tailored. If I were blind, I might smell his destitute loneliness to know the arrival of my estranged biological father. Before he even nestled down and back into the plush leather seats or took in the new car smell, he managed to air his first grievance.
“The car is nice, Guiseppe, but you-ah probably spent way-ah too much and dug a hole for yourself and you-ah gotta get your last name off of your license plate and-ah put mine on it.”
“I was adopted, remember? Both my mother and Motor Vehicles know that. Besides, I don’t want to confuse my daughters if I changed my name back.”
He accentuated vowel sounds at the end of long Italian names. “You are a Percaccio not a Tornatore. Everyone should know that! Now you-ah advertise the wrong name on your car too. This is disrespectful to you father.”
“It’s just a name not who I am.”
He surveyed the veiled cabin. “Whatta ya plannning a funeral in this car? The windows are painted funeral black?”
“The windows are tinted with Luminar film not painted.”
After some uncomfortable silence, he touched the protruding knobs on the dashboard the way a gruff man would grope a woman’s nipples. “Whatta these for?”
“Dual climate controls. Both the passenger and driver can have separate comfort levels. Mine is set at 73 degrees, your side of the car is registering a balmy 79.”
“Bullshit!” he interrupted with a dismissive wave of his hand. “I sneeze. You-ah get wet.”
I chuckled at his rigidity. “Apparently, six degrees of separation does not matter to you.”
He digressed with a rant about how the world has changed and how technology has left him behind. Soon a sultry female voice spoke through the six Bose speakers of my vehicle. I turned and could all but see his Italian blood percolate.
She instructed, “In less than a quarter of a mile, bear slight left at the three-way intersection.”
“Why is that wo-man interrupting ah-me? I no like-ah that. I could-ah go home and hear da same-ah thing. I was ah trying to tell you-ah something important.”
I explained, “The instructional voice on my global positioning system does not even know you are talking. But by all means, continue your story.”
“Is that wo-man gonna interrupt me-ah again?”
“According to the visual display for our route guidance, she will not interrupt you for another 7.8 miles. I’ll drive slow and you talk fast. Why don’t you just relax? What is so important that you cannot sit back and really enjoy my new car for a few minutes.”
He pointed his finger the way a father scolds a child. “I have to tell you-ah this. Very important. When a we go-ah out to eat today at the casino, no-ah table salt for ya.”


October 09, 2007

In The Driver's Seat

- The roving camera from my driver's seat.

I recently filmed as a background actor in a Maaco car commercial intended for nationwide distribution. A successful franchise, Maaco completes both auto bodywork and exterior painting to approximately one million cars annually. Their niche is quick turnaround time in getting your fresh painted car back on the road.

The backdrop of the “My Hero” commercial captures the essence of snarled commuter traffic. It shows how a spiffy looking Maaco rebuilt car can improve one’s plight even when stuck in a traffic jam. I can hear the reprimanding voiceover “Uh-oh…better get Maaco” jingle now as a backdrop.

A gated closed down former bypass road in Bridgeport, PA provided the ideal set location. Fifty background actors inched their cars the same four feet advance in between resets. For the first time in my life, I got paid for being stuck in a traffic jam. After the four lane logjam ended in its eight hour, I am not confident my assigned vehicle ever got in the picture frame.

There isn't an actor performing that doesn't want to get a big break in their career. Straight from the director’s walkie-talkie driving commands, I hit about five hundred brakes driving a Chevy Tahoe that ironically had a blinking engine light warning. Albeit in the driver’s seat, the brake we make for ourselves is not always the break we imagine.


October 06, 2007

Last Call

Old Man Sullivan reeked of a broken man never far from his last beer. He floundered at the end of a life of hard knocks with alcohol fueling his veins. In order to provide the necessities of life, he continued to work longer than his wrinkled body could cooperate.
Sullivan and I both worked as grungy dishwashers at a busy American fare restaurant in 1980. It was a second job for me, a full time job for Old Man Sullivan. After clocking out for the night at work, we usually sat barside emptying free draft beers until closing time.
Sullivan only saw what was in front of him and I should have kept it that way. For some strange reason one night, I felt compelled to share with him an unusual story. Amidst the suds of another downed beer, my conversation digressed to something abstract. I came to find out that anything not right in front of John he had trouble digesting. My interest in psychic phenomena had no business in his life but I put it right in front of him.
I said, “What do you make of this? Somebody in my family can tell when a person’s time is up on this planet.”
His eyes rolled then his expression tightened. “What the hell do you mean? What are you talking about?”
“They carry an aura, a white light around their heads prior to death.”
“Are you talking about yourself?" asked Sullivan. "This sounds like malarky. Are you the one in your family that can do this crazy sort of thing?”
I tried to relieve his raised fears. “No, I can’t do that. I am more ordinary. Just night dishwashing like you, Sully.”
That night Old Man Sullivan staggered the short distance walk from the restaurant to the seedy motel he called home. Inside the cramped motel room, he found his beloved wife dead in bed. Old Man Sullivan never looked at me square again. He rarely looked at me ever again.


October 01, 2007

A Vote To Amend Our Ways

On November 6, 2007, New Jersey voters will decide on whether to amend Article II, Section 1, Paragraph 6 of the New Jersey Constitution with ballot question #4.
To describe people with disabilities, the archaic demeaning language of “idiot” and “insane” has remained embedded in our State’s constitution dating back to the first sent telegram in 1844. Sixty-three years later, political correctness will rear its ugly head to recapitulate the denial of the right to vote with a progressive lightning rod.
New Jersey voters now have a chance to replace these two offensive outdated phrases with the wording “a person who has been adjudicated by a court of competent jurisdiction to lack the capacity to understand the act of voting.”
While contemplating the blessed need for legislative wordiness as a substitution for what sounds like name-calling, a competent enough fellow accidentally spilled his ordinary looking friend’s coffee in front of me at a convenience store.
The man minus a beverage scolded, “You fu@k-in idiot!”
You crazy, dawg.” scoffed the scalded man, he of no thumbs. “You ain’t right neither.”
What was a hanging chad in me now tore at the suffrage. My vote is that we may have evolved little since 1844. It is still within my constitutional right to say so.

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