Freudian Slips: November 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.

November 29, 2007

Trailing Life

One must avoid being a trailer in life. We must look to lead even when we don't like anything on the menu.


November 26, 2007

In So Many Words

Interviewing a developmentally disabled person for the first time requires acute listening skills even for a social worker. Communication deficits are common. The listener must be attentive to mispronounced words, words used out of context, and speech impediments.

The swivel chair I lowered just for Trudy Landmanark’s feet to touch the ground dwarfed her sub five-foot frame. Her pig-tails jostled as she squirmed to find a comfortable seated position.
I asked, “What language do you speak?”
Trudy answered me in English. “What do you think?”
“Obviously you understand the spoken word." My ball point pen lowered. "I am going to check off English as the primary language for the record.”
Trudy’s little voice squeaked from her pint-size frame when she announced. “Oh, since we are on the subject…I speak French too.”
“I read your file. I did not know that about you.” I replied. “Let me hear you speak some French.”
“Oui oui.” she piped with an award-winning smile. Her stocking covered legs danced below the base of the chair.
“Excellent foreign language skills.” I praised. “Humm….What else can you say in French?”
“That is all I can say in French but I use it when I have to go to the bathroom too.”
I looked at her stepfather for clarification. He gave me a poker face. I decided to call Trudy’s bluff on my own recognizance. “Trudy, you speak French in the bathroom?”
“I say oui oui when I have to go to the bathroom. Don’t you say oui oui when you have to go pee-pee?”
My face reddened because she trumped The King of Puns. I mused, “In so many words.”


November 22, 2007

The Ham in Thanksgiving

Anyone sense the ham bone in me as I lavishly prepare to stuff dual birds for Thanksgiving 2007? I ham what I ham. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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November 20, 2007

Stage Crutches

Kenneth McGregor & Joseph Tornatore
Early on in Kenneth McGregor’s acting workshop, my teacher discovered me reaching for comedic crutches on stage. After I added one too many subtext witticisms to my characters to enrich scenes, McGregor promised to fix my wagon until I learned to stand-alone without wiggle room improvisation.
The next time he divvied out parts in class, McGregor handed me a heavy scene from the movie Grand Canyon that could be nothing but emotionally driven between a husband and wife. The moving scene involved an empty nest wife trying to convince her husband to keep an abandoned baby she found. Kenneth McGregor preaches that acting is born from the cold read of the script. On the stage, I readied to bone in the lines in a cold read opposite my scene partner. He asked us to deeply stare into the eyes of our scene partner to connect, or begin “the dance” as he called it. He reminded the actors in the studio that he did not want to hear one iota of inflection, accent, or emotion for this initial reading. He did not want to see gestures, body mechanics, or acting emerge from the skits. He wanted just a cold copy read to build a foundation for the ensemble of acting, props, and wardrobe that would come later.
While McGregor barked preliminary instructions, I remembered his oath to separate me from comedy. So I sneak peeked through the script to pare down the unfamiliar scene to an outgrowth of the emotional conflict. He quieted the actors, silenced the stage, and called for operative action. I looked up from my cold copy and stared into my scene partner’s sparkling green eyes. Then I slammed my clenched fist down on the table, action that surprised even my scene partner.
In a blistering voice, I yelled, “Who is the father of this goddamn baby?”
Kenneth McGregor instinctively lurched forward to unleash biting criticism of a performance where there should not have been any theatrics. The class laughed at my antics because at this point of the act, I fixed my acting coach’s wagon.
Kenneth McGregor relented, “You just never know what is going to come out of Joe Tornatore’s mouth. Now let’s get back to work.”
My wide as the Grand Canyon smile shriveled in time and space. My uncalled for outburst marked the last time I got even a whiff of infusing comedy into his workshop.


November 18, 2007

Rhode Scholar

This is an accident waiting to happen.


November 15, 2007

Time Flies

While on vacation from work this week, I have found myself spending it in typical obsessive compulsive fashion. I just finished transferring 78 hours of home movies on obsolete videotape to cool playing DVD. The burn process occured in actual time with my television on so I watched my children grow up round the clock in an eye-batting week. I took chapter notes of each DVD’s contents for prosperity and produced them on nifty CD labels.
The home movies proved to be a startling revelation to me. I could not digest how much the people in my life have changed before my very eyes. Time flies when you are on vacation.


November 11, 2007

The Line on Lindros

Joe Tornatore with Eric Lindros.

I heralded Eric Lindros’ multi-player trade to the home team Philadelphia Flyers. I followed his hockey career of infinite potential from his inaugural rookie year to expectations of him drinking from Stanley Cups stationed in Philadelphia. I honored him by painting his likeness on my bubble hockey game as the starting center on my all-time greatest Flyers team. I collected Eric Lindros hockey cards and hung his sports memorabilia in my house. I sent him birthday cards and well-wishes. I will always remember the day that I got my picture with him although the meaning has certainly changed. Once upon a time, I proudly wore his #88 hockey jersey on my back.
Although his productivity was definitively marred by debilitating concussions, Eric Lindros never lived up to his extraordinary ability on any one of the four teams he played. He was paid handsomely as a very good player who never reached superstar status. Respectfully, he scored 372 goals in the National Hockey league and was named the league Most Valuable Player in 1995. Despite my rooting interests, Eric Lindros made it to the Stanley Cup playoff round only once and his team never won a single game.
Over the years, I began to question his grit even as team captain. I thought that Eric Lindros should have been more of a rally-waving leader of championship teams. There were off-ice rumors that effected my changing opinion of him. I started to hate myself for thinking this way. In the end, I loathed Eric Lindros. It still hurts me to privately admit it let alone here in a public forum.
For no particular reason the other day other than sheer irony, I wore Lindros’ tattered paint-splattered NHL jersey almost like a smock through a Home Depot store.
A passerby whispered, “May God have rest on Eric Lindros.”
Confused, I turned to this hockey fan not knowing the reason for the finality.
The man added, “Eric Lindros just announced his retirement from hockey.”
A hundred Eric Lindros memories slap shot through my brain none of which included ticker tape parades. My mind settled on an awkward off-ice moment. Not satisfied with one autograph he gave to me after a hockey practice, I returned to the snaking long autograph line wearing different clothes. The problem withstanding, Eric Lindros had memorized my face.
His reply, “The first autograph wasn’t enough so you jumped into a disguise?”
Flush red painted my face and I replied out of embarrassment. “It is that much of an honor, sir.”
“Beat it.” Lindros dismissed.
Please allow for a moment of revisionist history. Eric Lindros and I were both in disguise but he was the only one smart enough to realize it then. Shame on me.

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November 08, 2007

Secret Hideaway

Riddle me this costumed crusaders, I thought that the bat cave was in an undisclosed location?


November 06, 2007

Space Invaders

I got so excited over the new Brother fax machine at my full time job that I cradled the machine in my arms. Later, I got enthralled over an Ebay transaction that came through on my Paypal account on my second job. I thanked Jesus then began to produce the purchased product. Later, I poured over my emails hoping an acting job came through. Long after midnight, I erupted into rapture finding a new floor mop bought for me at my janitorial job. My bloodshot eyes checked the time. I had been up for 18 hours and literally had gotten paid for every one of my waking hours.
I said quietly to myself, “Joe, you are working way too hard on Mischief Night.”
On Halloween, I felt a little more relaxing admiring the parade of costumed trick or treaters that inundated our development. A rather stout miniature Darth Vader left his mother’s side at the end of my driveway. Vader’s black boots trampled over my newly seeded front lawn to get to the door. Alas, I stood in the doorway as Darth Vader approached then looked left and right of me. He seemed more interested in my home than the giant sized candy bowl thrusted before him for selection. A space invader on my stoop, Darth Vader spoke befuddlement from behind his mask.
“What did you say?” I asked.
“My mother was right.” He repeated in a sqeaky voice unbecoming of a villain. “This house is huge. Mom wants to know how anyone can afford to live here.”
“Help yourself to a gum ball then go tell your mother I got four jobs. That’s how.”
Darth Vader went running to the Dark Side. “Mom, looks like you got to get three more jobs for us to move here.”


November 04, 2007

Carrolling All The Way

Charles Carroll, Bobby Carroll, and myself at the book signing.

I attended the 2007 National Caregivers Conference in Iselin, New Jersey this week. Charles Carroll, the author of the book Hard Candy, was one of the keynote speakers at the respected conference. The gifted author gave a rousing passionate speech about his institutionalization at New Lisbon Developmental Center and personal triumph over the neglectful and abusive care he wrongly received. His recounted tales of abuse left many attendees emotionally drained and in tears.
I got a chance to spend some quality time with him after the conference. The brothers Carroll and I went to dinner and the love they share seemed an authentic undeniable special bond that made the content of Hard Candy that much harder to swallow for me. Carroling all the way, we shared wonderful Chinese food while trading perspectives on caretaking. As a proofreader of my manuscript, Of Might and Manacle, Charles offered supportive suggestions on its content in the mutual hopes of landing publication.

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