Freudian Slips: May 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.

May 31, 2007

Survival of the Fittest

I turned forty years old before I fully understood my skin disease. Sustained exercise robs me of endurance and drops the oxygen level in my bloodstream. My muscles fatigue regardless of conditioning. My body fails to cool itself so I incessantly perspire like an expectant father of quadruplets fighting the inevitability of parenthood.

Mastocytosis brings added challenges to my love affair with sports, especially racquetball. Racquetball is a moveable game of chess played at a hundred miles an hour. It is an exhilarating game of reflexes, sprinting, and strategy. Although I play the game like a wet mop sweeping the hard court now, allow me to reminiscence when I was not only in better shape but when I lived in ignorance about my skin disease.
Playing against my skin disease and worthy opponents, I finished the 1999 Bally’s Racquetball League four points shy of going undefeated. Amassing 59 Wins and only 1 Loss, I coasted in the playoffs and won the gym championship in my bracket. Feeling my oats, I entered a sanctioned South Jersey Racquetball Association Tournament. Experienced racquetball players from across the state entered the event, a three-day tournament from Friday night until Sunday afternoon. It was survival of the fittest, a best of three game single elimination tournament.
Lose a match and you go home dragging your racquet between the legs. While I shift my balance well and possess lightning quick reflexes, that is not much of an arsenal in statewide racquetball tournament play. I have no kill shots in my repertoire. I do not hit winners. Consequently, my matches are marathon events measuring attrition. My racquetball game consists of hustle and instincts that calculate probability odds of my opponent's shot placement. My game plan attempts to guess right and outlast an opponent’s body or mind. Surrender has never been an option for me.
On Friday night, I won racquetball matches at 7pm, 8pm, and 10pm. Saturday was no less grueling but my winning ways continued. It wasn’t just tough on me. I took credit for making an opponent vomit. While my racquetball game made it to Sunday for the semi-finals, my body felt quite differently about the ordeal. By Sunday morning, my body felt like setting concrete. I had difficulty even rousing myself out of the bed slab just to make it to the gym.
I won the semi-finals on Sunday morning. In the finals, I faced the #1 seed in the tournament, a confident experienced player. He played the game with mach speed and power. I found few holes in his game and Las Vegas would have had him as the odds on favorite. I barely won the first game 15-12 but not before trading innumerable shots in a 40 minute game.
In the second game, I controlled the early action but my opponent went on a run to close to 10-9. I called timeout because I could no longer pump air into my lungs. My body overheated, evidenced by my plum color. My skin lesions erupted to a fiery hue. I felt on the verge of collapse. Gulping water and air, I lifted my head from the water fountain. Perspiration seeped from my headband. I knew if I lost this game, he would steamroll me in the deciding tiebreaker to win the tournament.
During the timeout, I changed my shirt for the third time. I caught my first glimpse of the trophies resting on the wooden bench awaiting a coronation. While there existed only a slight height difference between the first and second place trophies, the engraved markings made all the difference in my world. My mind locked onto the first place trophy and I took this visual back into the court like a hungry bulldog thrown a T-bone. It was now or never to take care of business.
On the next point following the timeout, I made a backhanded sprawling dive on a ball that perfectly died in the corner's wedge. What a difference an inch makes. The point shifted the momentum back my way. My opponent never mentally recovered and he started to make unforced errors. Like so many other opponents before him, I had broken his will to win. A decisive point later, I raised my hands in an underdog’s triumph. Afterwards, we shook hands to show sportsmanship. My opponent smiled agreeably through clenched teeth. He knew he just lost to a man who could barely breathe.
I have since come to learn the negative effects of exertion on my skin disease. I risk triggering anaphylaxis by putting excessive stress on my body. I had forced my body to operate on blind ambition while ignoring the warning signals. No amount of conditioning can offset my skin disease. This racquetball match marked the last time I played competitive sports. I miss it but I went out a winner.

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May 28, 2007

A Double Edge Sword

-F-18 Hornets piloted by The Blue Angels engage in aerial maneuvers at the Millville Airshow.
I went to my first airshow this Memorial Day weekend and it did not disappoint my virgin eyes. My first peak at fighter planes left me breathless. It was truly a modern marvel seeing an exhibition of their unbelievable speed, fury, and grace.

While I stared captivated by the engineering that overtook the blue skies, I reminded myself of the internal battle raging within me. Like a double edge sword, these military planes are flying killing machines as much as they are protectors of our great nation. That is when I heard an emcee's voice blare across the loudspeaker in a summation of my conflict.

"Do you know what theses planes fly on ladies and gentlemen? Money. That's right." A deafening trailblazing roar buzzed the crowd. The emcee continued, "And that is the sound of freedom."

Happy Memorial Day!

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May 24, 2007

Life with Too Much Poipose


May 22, 2007

Greatest Film Moments

I painstakingly compiled a delightful dozen favorite film moments. They appear in no particular order and the views expressed are only the opinions of one movie buff. Enjoy.

1)The park bench sharing scene in Good Will Hunting. It features the cat and mouse interplay between Sean Maguire (Robin Williams) and Will Hunting (Matt Damon). The human psyche of couch therapy between two genuises plays out masterfully against the backdrop of nature.

2)The tumultuous holiday dinner table scene in the Oscar nominated movie The Color Purple. Albert (Danny Glover), Celie (Whoopi Goldberg), and Sofia (Oprah Winfrey) give stunning performances in a holiday to remember. The knife in the turkey centerpiece cannot begin to cut the tension in this crowded room that is ripe with character development. This single scene is a solemn prayer for the soul.

3) In the rocking belly of the boat’s cabin in Jaws, Quint (Robert Shaw) describes surviving a man-eating shark frenzy after a shipwreck. If they never showed the terrorizing great white shark once in this landmark movie, people might have avoided the ocean just based on Quint’s guttural storytelling to Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) and Police Chief Brody (Roy Scheider).

4) The flash forward closing scene through the mesmerizing eyes of Claire (Lauren Ambrose) in the series finale of HBO’s Six Feet Under. It offers both haunting retrospection and closure to the outstanding cast in this Emmy award winning HBO series. It reminds us that life is indeed short then before you know it…six feet under.

5)Lt. Daniel Kaffee (Tom Cruise) baiting Col. Nathan R. Jessup (Jack Nicholson) on the stand in the riveting courtroom testimony in A Few Good Men. The scene defines the gray area of taking orders in the military as a flippant Navy lawyer, trying to live in his father’s polished shoes, conquers the blatant arrogance of a colonel just by trying. Some people can’t handle the truth, Kaffee provokes it thus earning his pinstripes as an actor set on cruise control.

6)Tom (David Byron) confronting domineering father-in-law Phil Carter (James Sikking)on the staircase of his suburban home in the Emmy award winning Doing Time on Maple Drive. The patriarch is blindsidingly challenged for the first time in his life. That staircase might as well have been an elevator to hell because all of the seedy family secrets unravel like a tightly bound twine of morality.

7)A guilt-ridden Conrad Jarrett (Timothy Hutton) talking to his disconnected self-absorbed mother (Mary Tyler Moore) in the idyllic backyard in the movie Ordinary People. When you have to bark like a dog to get your mother’s undivided attention, something is amiss, even with ordinary people.

8)Gale Sayers (Billy Dee Williams) delivering emotional acceptance speech in Brian’s Song, a true story. In a self-less act, Sayers dedicates an NFL achievement award to his cancer stricken Chicago Bears teammate Brian Piccolo (James Caan). This tearjerker of a scene makes me reach for a snot rag every time.

9)The riveting dueling banjo scene in Deliverance between Drew (Ronny Cox) and a demented inbreed from the South. Genius is cinematically captured by the backwoods ignorance of handicap.

10)Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore(Robert Duvall) revelry among the brutality in the beach scene of the epic war movie, Apocalypse Now. With unflinching candor, bare-chested Kilgore delivers, “I love the smell of napalm in the morning.” after fighter planes dump fire bombs on the enemy. Duvall is as incredible as he is believable in this scene.

11) Carr (Clifton James) giving new inmates rules of the prison in Cool Hand Luke. Luke (Paul Newman) looks on dispassionately, the signature attitude for this rebel. It epitomizes the tagline of the film, "What we got here is a failure to communicate" as one man fights his tortured soul within the injustices of the penal system.

12) Elias (Willem Dafoe) staggering out of the Vietnamese jungle after being intentionally shot by nemises Sergeant Barnes (Tom Berenger) and left for dead with the enemy in Platoon. Friendly fire never went so bad. Powerful scene encapsulates not only the ugliness of war but the duality of man. It is viewed aerially by the enduring conscience of Private Chris Taylor (Charlie Sheen) from the last helicopter to take to the sky in the movie’s pivotal final scene. Elias’ outstretched arms in the formation of a crucifixion underscores the battle of good verses evil in humankind.


May 20, 2007

Monster Kiss

Shrek, not exactly a Save a Life poster boy for CPR training.


May 17, 2007

The Ice Breaker

The criminal act started by doing family members a small favor. We opened up our house, agreeing to store possessions in our double garage until an in law’s custom-built house finished construction. One fateful day, curiosity got the best of my law-abiding wife. In the corner of the garage, I found her rummaging through the stored cardboard boxes belonging to her younger sister. In what became confused as a treasure hunt, my wife came across a sleek looking ice bucket with black handled tongs. I got to admit that its shine would have blinded Ali Baba and at least thirty nine of the forty thieves. I am not without implication here for we both naughtily conspired to borrow the ice bucket and add it to the décor of our bar.
The day of the in-laws move arrived and their ice bucket never made it to the new homestead. It would have made an excellent house-warming gift under different circumstances by less thieving kin. Watching the search for the missing ice bucket provided so much fun that it had to be wrong on multiple levels. Guilt almost entered into the equation in between chuckles.
“I know we have an ice bucket.” complained the crime victim to her miffed husband.
“Where could it have gotten to?” he questioned. “Have you seen it, honey?”
Sadistically, I broke out that ice bucket for every family function. It looked strangely familiar to them but reassurance about its proprietorship convinced them otherwise. Like Dick and Jane, my wife and I would share sinister glimmers as everyone would party hearty around our centerpiece, the adopted ice bucket. Talk about a real ice breaker for parties.
We watched my brother–in law scramble at parties of his own trying to cool body temperatures and tepid beverages without an ice bucket. It cruelly added to the excitement. I got to admit that I came home and polished the ice bucket once after one of his parties. Aladdin’s lamp it became.
It was a stone cold hoot when the in-laws called US to borrow THEIR ice bucket for a get together. Eventually, we let other family members in on the dirty little secret. Being an ornery soul, I often encouraged other family members when planning parties, to call the crime victims asking if they could borrow an ice bucket. The charade grew accomplices. It took a couple of years for my in-laws to become wise to what happened. Once they caught on to the ruse, my wife and I were labeled sticky fingered thieves. Ice cubes may chill my bones but names will never hurt me.
Call it the spirit of the holiday season but we offered the ice bucket back to the rightful owners one Christmas. Wouldn’t you know that the sticklers refused to accept it back? They already bought a replacement ice bucket and had no need for reclaiming the tarnished goods. By default, the stolen ice bucket finally became our personal property. I got to admit that it just doesn’t feel or taste the same.


May 15, 2007

Appetite for Self-Destruction

All I wanted was a Taco Bell ½-pound bean burrito to quell a hungry stomach. I had been carrying around gads of disposable loose change in my car’s center console. I circled the building only to find the drive-thru closed. Strike one. So I parked in just the right spot of the side entrance to gauge the waiting lines for service. The lobby echoed empty. Without a line to hold up, I planned to use entirely loose coin to pay for my purchase. Putting embarrassment aside for the moment, I counted 150 pennies and foot raced to the counter with my wallet left purposely behind.
The silver haired senior citizen for a cashier greeted me with a venerable matronly smile. Not your typical Taco Bell employee by fifty years I thought to myself.
I apologized, “You’re going to hate me by the time I’m done this transaction. I left my wallet home and only have loose change to get by for the day.”
The woman patted my balled fists full of change. The tone of her voice breathed reassurance and empathy. “You have come to the right place. I am going to take care of you.”
Her wrinkled hand felt warm to the touch. I said, “Thanks for understanding.”
Before filling my order, she asked, “Do you want a second burrito for free?”
As if a school bus of passengers emptied in the parking lot, a line began forming to my immediate rear. I sorted through a pile of brown pennies and sparse silver on the counter top. I wanted to be anywhere but there.
I said sheepishly, “I barely have enough change for one burrito let alone two.”
“I said I was going to take real good care of you. The first one is free. I don’t know how hungry you are or when you last ate so I’m offering to front you another burrito on the house.”
I felt the need to shake my head to separate myself from the likes of a beggar. “I don’t want a free handout. I just want you to accept my loose change. Surely, this establishment can use loose change in the register.”
She probed, “Being without your wallet is a total inconvenience. I didn’t know if you had enough loose change for two burritos. That’s all I was saying.”
“One bean burrito will be plenty.”
Her charity magnified my white lie about leaving my wallet home. She bagged the burrito then handed me my order. She swept the money from the counter without even counting it. The coins clanged in the register compartments louder than penny slots at the casino. I started to walk away with plummeting eyes on a head hung down.
She hollered, “Sir, you forgot your change.”
I turned around and walked back towards the front of the line. “I gave you exact change.” I muttered. “I don’t have any change coming back to me.”
She gave me a hooded wink then whispered. “Sure you did.” She held up two crisp dollar bills for the taking.
I replied, “You’re mistaken. Don’t you remember the onslaught of pennies, nickels, and dimes?”
She raised her voice loud enough for every impatient hungry patron in line to hear. “Gas money. We will borrow from the till. You’re broke, remember.”
I high-tailed out of the restaurant too embarrassed to say anything. I got to my car and sped off. After fumbling with the wrapper, I bit the head off my Mexican burrito. Within a few chews, my taste buds let me know it was the wrong frigging order. There on the center console, my lump wallet laughed itself silly. Lies just eat at me.


May 13, 2007

Lean on Me

This picture reminds me of a tilting cruise ship.


May 10, 2007

Losing My Religion

The incoming cell phone call in the supermarket cereal aisle informed me that I had been cast as a featured extra in the film The Family Rubin directed by Matthew Garrett. His first assistant director happened to be from my last movie, The Greek American, so I had been recommended for the small part in a single scene of the short length movie. For the record, singing Hebrew on film is as challenging as speaking Greek. It almost made me long for the days of filming the Indie movie Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna with a cast and crew who only spoke English when necessary.

The plot of The Family Rubin exposes the seedy underbelly of a Jewish family spiraling to crisis. The set location was the Platt Memorial Chapel in Cherry Hill, NJ. The role called for my mischievous nature to act out of character pious. There I sat on a pew playing a Jewish synagogue worshipper dressed to the nines. Wearing a Yamika beanie over a tailored suit, in cantor rich fashion I sang a few bars of the Shema in Hebrew on camera. I do not know which was more painful to the ear - my singing or my Hebrew. This much is certain, for a film credit I will do just about anything, even change religions.


May 09, 2007

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May 08, 2007

An Oscar Sweep

To keep up with the rising cost of living and some unexpected bills, realities dictated the need to generate supplemental income to remain in the black ink of the household accounting ledger. Initially, I refused to believe that I could not pay my half of the household bills. My hardworking successful wife kept telling me to go for a promotion all the way to the car dealership to pick up her brand new 2007 Toyota Camry Solara convertible.

I replied, “But I love my work.”

Diane said, “Then get a second job.”

“I have a second job." I corrected. "I sell sports memorabilia on Ebay.”

Diane reeked of a new car scent when she urged, “Get another job.”

“But I am a writer. I work hard at writing. You know that I am trying to get my latest book published.”

She said, “Get another job.”

“But I am an actor. It’s a cutthroat competitive business. I might only work a couple of times a year. Not many actors earn regular paychecks.”

She harped, “Get a job that pays.”

Beyond the day job as a social worker, I took secondary employment as a janitor cleaning commercial buildings. I use none of my Master’s degree emptying trash at midnight but it is an honest job. On the day that I started my janitorial job, I received the following serendipitous email regarding a movie role that I applied for long before the production date got delayed and my money became scarce.

Congratulations! You have been granted an audition for the role of janitor in the full length movie The Uranium Project.
-When I took a second job as a janitor, the second rate actor in me never imagined an Oscar sweep.


May 03, 2007


Bucky Cloots’ debilitating condition could make a calloused person rethink devaluing notions about the disabled. When I first met Bucky, he could barely stand on his own two feet. A wheelchair loomed in his future and he knew it was coming sure as the nightmares in his sleep. If you stared into Bucky's eyes, you could see primal fear of the unknown.
A fine mist sprayed from the gray sky on the first day I visited his home in Westville, New Jersey. His legs scissored side to side to answer the front door. Bucky ushered me through the covered porch and hobbled back into the house that spanned his life. He clutched every sidewall and railing at his disposal. He wasted no time awkwardly handing me a family photo album from the quaint living room. After pointing to each picture of his youth, Bucky would let out a weighted sigh. After leafing through of the first couple of pages, I got his gist. His presentation of the photographs functioned as an augmented communication device emceeing his life story.
Once normal in every respect, Bucky shed his high school cap and gown for adulthood. I saw pictures of him cavorting with friends, family, and girlfriends. I lifted from the pictures normal development with no signs of handicap. Bucky was once just like you and me before a rare brain disease began irreversibly eroding motor functions. Subtle changes occurred at first that were beyond the threshold of suspicion like missing an occasional step on the staircase, a glass slipping out of his hand, the gradual change to a sloppy signature, etc.
Over the menacing years, this once graceful athlete regressed to clumsy then dependent. In the cruelty of time, Bucky could no longer ride a bicycle, bathe himself, or tie his shoelaces. Outside of rare emotional states that somehow massaged and stimulated his vocal cords, the disease stole his ability to communicate and rendered him non-verbal. Atop an end table, he singled out an action shot of himself running for the high school track team. The long gallops in time trials appeared to be a lifetime ago. He turned away, as if the picture disturbed him. He then grabbed me by the elbow and we walked in tandem over to a busy mantel, where his high school yearbook picture lay beneath a matted frame. Bucky’s uncoordinated attempts to dust the frame off nearly knocked the picture from the mantel.
I took hold of the prized picture. “I got it, Bucky. In fact, I get everything you are trying to tell me.”
The yearbook picture said it best. Daring, dashing, good looks of yesteryear. Now Bucky could no longer run let alone walk without a hitch. He could not venture out into the community that once embraced him. His father was dead. His mother, with whom he lived, was nursing home material. His lone sibling had moved out of state. The scrapbook pictures of his friends were only fond memories that caused him equal parts pain. His friends had forsaken him for greener pastures.
Bucky's brother lived in California but he arranged to take him one month a year like a cheeseburger in paradise. The highlight of vacations became the arrangement of a working girl to make a house call for Bucky. Needless to say, Bucky looked forward to his vacations. When Bucky would return from Californication, I always asked him about it in the form of yes or no questions that he could answer with headshakes. Whenever I teased him about a loosey-goosey visitor, he would give me shit-eating grins. I lavished him with compliments about his masculinity, virility, and how he could still find ways to enjoy life despite his irreversable condition.
Over the years, we developed this commaraderie that when I asked him how his vacation was, he knew that I didn’t mean the barbecues, obligatory family reunions, church on Sunday, or catching an unsung movie. He knew the code: Vacation was a four-leaf clover for him to get his shamrocks off and I pretended to live vicariously through him. So I would encourage him to try and say something, anything at all. By all indications, Bucky wanted to tell me more than a headshake. His arduous speech process started with chin bobbing as if he needed to first align his vocal cords. His mouth opened and his tongue swished about in a cleansing of his palette. A clearing of the throat could only mean that Bucky teetered on the cusp of talking. In a granulated hoarse voice, I heard him utter with both strain and perseverance. “Very good!”
While Bucky broke his silence, he could not contain himself any longer. A raspy series of “Very goods" poured out of his mouth like multiple orgasms. He conveyed all his carnal knowledge with those two complimentary words. I nearly fell down laughing. I got such a rise out of our routine that I would have picked him up at the airport every year just for a chance to hear those words sooner.
New departmental rules finally forced me to transfer Bucky to another social worker’s caseload. Years passed. One day my path crossed with Bucky, who sat slumped in a wheelchair in disrepair. His body looked like soft-set Jell-O that forgot to form a mold. It pained me to see his physical debilitation and I thought of the crisp mind stuck in that ravaged body. Bucky’s sullen eyes shot towards my approach and he nearly fell out of his wheelchair. Saliva dribbled out a corner of a mouth slowly quieted over the years. I could not fathom Bucky’s exuberance nor the meaning of his harsh guttural sounds until he pointed to his tee shirt. As I read his imprint shirt, a smile engulfed Bucky’s face. The shirt read: SOMEONE IN CALIFORNIA LOVES ME!
“Very good!” he throated in halting speech.
-Californication must still be very good indeed.


May 01, 2007


-Feeding gators is plain stupid.
Molesting gators is tailgating at your own risk.


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