Freudian Slips: December 2007

Freudian SlipsImage Hosted by


My Photo
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.

December 27, 2007

Freudian Slips Irony Oscar

It is that esteemed time of year again to honor the writing on this Freudian Slips blog in a mock shameless self-promotion. The Fourth Annual Freudian Slips Irony Award occurred last night. Due to budgetary constraints and low-ticket sales, the event had to be held outdoors in a heated tent. The exact location the spikes were ground driven remains undisclosed but rumor abounds that it was on a construction site eager to sprout another Wal-Mart for the middle class.
Five hundred guests received last minute invitations. Of the forty-three brave souls that showed up for the ceremony, all fought elements of the cold huddled together under thermal blankets and heat lamps. Hired help working at minimum wage, shuttled coffee and hot chicken noodle soup to uncomfortable guests. Only one person left early. Unforgivably, it was my mother due to frostbite.
In a repeat command performance, Pax Romano emceed the show and filled the many patches of dead air with a lively microphone. He performed a song and dance number from the obscure movie soundtrack of Girl 27. Other than a seven minute opening monologue rant about the commercial colonization of a Stepford-like America, Pax’s showmanship carried the gala event. Many headliner writers attended the bling bling blah blah ceremonies hoping to earn a lifetime achievement award. But on this night, it was all about Joe Tornatore’s writing. Embarrassed by devoting more time and energy to acting than writing this past year, I reluctantly approached the podium built out of particle board. Although I appeared dressed in a suit and tie loaned by my brother-in-law, my loafers already found a puddle of mud. Again, I had cold feet. I politely waved to my smattering of friends paid to be in attendance. A roll of toilet paper got tossed from the back row, the second row of metal folding chairs. After security guards determined that a bratty child visiting the outhouse threw the toilet paper, mild applause ensued overtop a single female heckler.
After a few awkward throat clears, I acknowledged neglecting his blog at times during 2007. I read from the teleprompter the scripted guilt I carried from earning more money bit acting than book royalties. In the loosening of my noose-like yellow tie, the aspiring actor in me appeared every bit the expiring author.
I said, “I greet you here tonight with nothing but a few good blog postings amidst mediocre. I apologize for spreading myself too thin. I remain as far from an Oscar nomination as the Pulitzer Prize. This I know and regret on both fronts.”
Then with a politician’s finger point, I promised the crowd I would act less and write more for 2008. A chorus of cheers raised the roof even if that meant only lifting the tent. The sound mixer added musical undertow to the staged motivational speech. Again I called upon my acting abilities to bridge writer’s block. With the reverb of a little drummer boy’s drum roll, I announced, “…The sparse nominees for this year’s Freudian Slips Irony Award is:
The Rooster Roaster, a short story to crow about. It tells the woeful tail of my friend who made strange acquaintance with a wild rooster. The Notebook, The Numbers Game, a father tries to lovingly heirloom to his daughter not only an old notebook full of useless numbers but the obsessive compulsive behavior that fueled one wasted summer in 1971. The Biggest Dumbbell. How I slandered my beloved Philadelphia Eagles football team unwittingly to a 6’5” 3330-pound professional player on the same team. The author survived the chance ironic encounter to write about it. The Sons of Italy. An odd couple meet for the first time during a parade. The story unfolds as ironic as it is sad. This father son tandem does not know each other in the least let alone separate themselves from strangers in the streets of Philadelphia.
Waiting for a winner to be announced, the tent got so quiet crickets could be heard. I smiled for the cameras. “And the winner is….A real page turner, it all adds up, The Notebook, A Numbers Game wins The Fourth Annual Irony Oscar!” My bow caused a crevice rip in my pants. “See you next year on Freudian Slips and thanks for reading."


December 20, 2007

Sneak Peak At Personal Training

At the turn of every year, millions of overweight Americans pledge a New Year's resolution to lose weight. Such a pledge had me back at the gym working extra hard. There is nothing like taking a personal training session with a hardcore certified fitness instructor. Julio’s chiseled physique resembled that of a professional body builder. His baritone voice possessed boot camp qualities. Although my mind drew different conclusions, I did whatever he said during the hour long session.

“Take this 15 lb. medicine ball and slowly move it laterally across your torso. Do it with your feet anchored to the floor.” He demonstrated flawless form then handed me the ball.

“Joe, I said slowly move the medicine ball not swing it.” His pencil thin mustache wrinkled when he spoke. “There how does that feel?”

“It hurts like bad medicine ball.”

He corrected me. "It is a good hurt, the right kind of hurt to get your body back into shape. I don’t want to see you sticking out your belly.” He pressed on my stomach with his open palm. “When you are talking to me, feel your core.”

He waiting for me to ask the question. “My core?”

“Drop the ball. Now suck in your stomach and hold it. Look at yourself in front of this mirror. Go on.”

I looked twenty pounds lighter in the full length mirror so long as I held my breath. While he continued to study me like a work in progress, I opted for oxygen the first time he looked away. With his eyes back on me, I sucked in my gut.

“That’s right. Now that is the upright midline position I want you to adopt.”

“Joe, how do you feel?”

“On the verge of fainting or getting a hernia, sir!”

“Try not to look like you are a red balloon ready to pop. You must hold that midline position while you walk, talk, and breathe. There will come a day that you thank me.”

I questioned, “There might come a day when I want to breathe. When will I be thanking you?”

“If you ever work in a high-rise building and it catches fire, it is the strength of your core that will help you safely escape.”

“I work in a rancher. My desk is thirty feet from the closest exit. I’ll get out the door with my belly shaking like scared Jell-O.”

Even a crack of humor escaped his constitution. “Here is a different scenario, same principle.” he plotted. “You have to be able to lift yourself up. You must be able to hoist your body weight. It is the only way you can play effectively with your kids.”

I thought about the activity level of each of my four kids. Humm, as long as there is enough space on the sofa, Playstation never asked for anything other than fit thumbs.

He harked apocalyptic scenarios. “If there is another war on our homeland, the donut eating soft underbelly of society will wish they developed their core abs.”

I played out the scenario in my head. If the United States Army drafts this flat-footed forty-five year old with a weak midsection, we are going to lose before I down my next donut.
As we moved from machine to machine, my instructor would not relent. “When you are reclined in a dental chair and the hygienist instructs you to rinse, do you want to continue to wait for the hydraulic chair to inch forward, or do you want to sit-up dignified under your own recognizance?”

As my body pressed on with the rigors of exercise, I laid out the pros and cons in my head. A washboard stomach getting me faster to a rinse cup twice a year is no reason to do grueling daily abdominal exercises like I am cross training for an Olympic decathlon.

“No woman wants a Pillsbury dough boy.” He drilled. “Now grab this pull-up bar. Women want six pack abs. The ladies want a rack of rock solid ribs.”

I thought to myself. Bread, beer, and ribs. He is making my stomach hungry.

“Your midsection is vital to how women view you as a sex object.”

I disagreed, “No it’s not.” I could feel the pinch of my wedding band on the pull bar. “My wedding ring is how women view me. I am married.”

Over the next hour, he hung me upside down like a bat. He reclined me on what could have passed for a gynecological table. He made me catch and throw a ball that was too heavy for league bowling. He made me swear that I would refrain from all-you-can eat buffets.

Following my personal training workout, I felt exhausted just walking to my car. I was afraid of becoming a paraplegic in an automobile accident. I held onto a lingering irrational fear that Japan might bomb Pearl Harbor again. I was afraid that Osama Bin Laden lurked behind the bushes. I wondered if terrorists had hijacked the planes in the sky. Of course, I blamed the unpleasant images on my abdominal area rotting to the core. My hand swept my aching stomach muscles that now consumed my undivided attention. With a thunderous exclamation point, I tripped on my untied shoelaces across the sidewalk. May this lesson reach the millions making New Year's Eve resolutions. When you put your best foot forward in exercise, make sure your shoes are tied.


December 18, 2007

Under a Hot Carolina Roof

This weekend marked the first block time in weeks that I did not have to work any of my three jobs. I had one goal in my mind, not to leave my house for the entire weekend.
On Saturday, I suceeded by not getting out of my pajamas all day. On Sunday, I played racquetball for a few hours to let my heart know there is more to this world than working round the clock. The rest of my weekend, I devoted to learning how to operate a movie making software program without interruption. I completed what had stayed fresh on my mind for months. I set out to produce my first movie about my family's summer vacation to the Outer Banks.
From an inventory of 400 still pictures and dozens of raw video clips, I produced a short film called Five Families under a Hot Carolina Roof. It took me a total of 26 hours to manufacture 15 quality minutes that tell a themed story complete with soundtrack, special effects and narrative.
The moral here is that while every picture tells a story, getting that captured on film in a linear sequence is a different story all together. I now sing the praises of every filmmaker in the movie business. Now that Hummada Hummada Productions has finished his first short film, all I have left to do is make 19 DVD copies at a burn cycle of 40 minutes each. Then I got great Christmas gifts to give out to my family members.


December 12, 2007

Not Just Blowing Smoke

“The truth may make you odd.” Judy Blume
While I have always inhaled life, they say you never forget smoking your first cigarette. My memory of this experience is somewhat different and artificial from the reasons you might imagine.
Gauging from my style of clothing and every nuance of my surroundings, the year is 1973. I know better than to judge a book by its cover but my mind wrestles with convincing me otherwise. I am sitting alone at the counter of an eatery in one of those new shopping adventures called a mall. Immortal actress Susan Sarandon walks by. Her presence alone graces the company of Mark Wahlberg. I pay them no mind because that is what I am being paid to do.
A robotic camera mount hooked to a long swinging arm pans the crowd. Although distant, it films in my way direction. From my padded bar stool, I suck on a cigarette like a good actor faking a bad habit. I motion to the big haired waitress for a cup of coffee. Take after take, I blow billowing smoke in the air in a time dated backdrop to public places of yesteryear. I feel light-headed.
There is a break in the action to check the playback on the last scene. Academy award winning director, Peter Jackson soon enters the same eatery. He offers last minute recital to actor Reece Ritchie, who stealthy appeared on the set. Chatting only a few feet from my perch, my mouse ears stay glued to their conversation. My shortened cigarette end singes my fingers to remind me not only of the dangers of smoking but of my small role in the making of this movie, The Lovely Bones.
Once maestro Peter Jackson is satisfied how the scene will play out, he leaves the establishment. Reece hikes himself up on the bar stool next to me as an entire set prepares the many pieces and checkpoints before filming can occur. Reece tells me he flew in from England to play Ray Singh, the boyfriend of Susie Salmon in the feature film.
“Backstage I started reading the best selling book.” I mused. “Here is some irony. Off camera, the author Alice Sebold just introduced me to your character.”
“What do you think?” hoodwinked the teenager.
I marveled at the art imitating life. “Great casting but I must remember to never read the book when filming the movie. The characters are jumping straight from the pages onto the set. It's wild.”
The director quieted the set with an English accent laden with pedigree and order. Reece walked away to stand on his first mark. As I often do, I snapped a picture of the ironic moment in my mind for total recall. Then I returned to smoking my first cigarette, the Lovely Bone that it was.


December 09, 2007

E-ZPaint on the E-ZPass

I handpicked my 2007 Nissan Altima for its matching color scheme of a gray leather interior with a solid color gray exterior from a catalogue. After the car was shipped to the dealership, I raced to the lot to sign on the dotted line. I drove home inhaling that addictive new car smile which I have learned is curing out gassing plastic. When I transferred my E-ZPass transponder to my pristine new car, I knew something was imperfect from my obsessive-compulsive standpoint.
There is always something wrong from my vantage point. It is just a matter of identifying the problem and figuring out how to fix it. I was never a fan of E-ZPass because of the glue pads that adhere to the windshield. So I fixed that problem with Velcro strapping that I attached to the arm of my rearview mirror. Although I fixed that annoyance, something else still bothered me.
My white EZ-Pass transponder shone like a beacon through the windshield against the dark gray backdrop of my cabin. I know this would not matter to 999 out of 1000 people but I try not to live anyone else’s life. So the white contrast annoyed me until I could not stand for the color inconsistency. With nary a witness in sight, I hand painted my transponder using gray acrylic paint. I am thankful the neighbors did not get a glimpse of me trying to mix paint in my driveway to color match a transponder with the décor of my car.
Less than one ounce of easy paint later, I restored perfection. It was time to sit back in the driver’s seat and relax. The next day, I received a surprise package in the mail from the New Jersey Motor Vehicles agency. Although I read the enclosed letter as a pedestrian, it drove me crazy.
Dear Mr. Tornatore,
In an ongoing effort to maintain the highest level of service to our E-ZPass customers, we have identified your transponder as outdated and we have enclosed a replacement unit.
The letter literally laughed at me. I held the shipped white transponder in my hand only a matter of seconds before it entered my artist studio. My paintbrush had not even dried by the time I grabbed it again. I painted the new unit gray before it knew what hit it. If there is any good reason these units cannot come in different colors, my paintbrush wants to know about it.


December 06, 2007

The Verdict Is In

Joseph Tornatore hams it up backstage playing Sheriff Granite.
The pinstripes on my cop uniform quivered every time police sirens blared across the city streets of Philadelphia. Inside a lofted stately ornate courtroom of Philadelphia’s City Hall, this pulse of unnerving noise undermined our set while filming the criminal trial for the television pilot called The Verdict. Produced by Lions Gate Entertainment, this TV show captures the formulary design of critically acclaimed Law and Order. The pilot episode of the courtroom drama stars screen veteran Robert Vaughn as a newspaper reporter, Robin Givens as the accused, and attorney Madchen Amick. I landed the featured role of Sheriff Granite, one of the two sheriffs assigned to the courtroom.
Getting in a series from its inception has upside potential. The greatest perk about being casted in this role for a courtroom drama is that the sheriff is the only one standing in picture frame beside the lead actors. While the writer’s strike has temporarily delayed script writing of this series, this sheriff is going to need restraint if this turns into a reoccurring role and the producers opt for continuity in retaining the same sheriffs from the pilot. The Internet Movie Database projects this show to air on the Lifetime network in June 2008.
I took no prisoners on the set. I jumped as quickly into my role as I did my uniform. Standing at the wardrobe station in my dapper sheriff’s uniform for the first time, I familiarized myself with the multiple gadgets on my holster. As I stared down the vast hallway outside the mayor’s office, my trigger-happy fingers grazed the Walkie-Talkie. Billy club, Mace, and pistol. The complete uniform seemed a perfect fit for the actor in me. Then the heels of two women clanked to a halt behind my unguarded position.
“Sheriff Granite, escort this plaintiff down to courtroom 256. She has a restraining order out against her ex-husband.”
“That will have to wait.” I retorted.
She persisted, “Surely all you have to do for this is walk her down the hallway.”
I maintained my relaxed position. “I am not ready. I am being propped and outfitted right now then I have to head over to make-up.”
Both ladies looked confused although one appeared more frightened than the other. In hindsight, the speaker and I arrived at the same conclusion at the same time. This was a case of mistaken identity on her part and not the next scene in the script as I had erroneously envisioned.
“I am sorry to disappoint you but I am only an actor and not a real sheriff.”
It is hard for me to get out of character once I begin preparing for a part. Forty-two hours of filming later on the third day all about 1:30am in the morning, the director handed me a script and told me to study it as the crew set the lighting levels and blocked out the marks. My best scene called for me to escort sultry Robin Givens from an elevator down a lonely hallway. The Verdict was in…again I was making a scene.


December 02, 2007

Tis The Season, Fizz the Reason

Seasons Greetings and wishing everyone a fluid Christmas.


Free Image Hosting at