Freudian Slips: October 2009

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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, 2009

Lady Emma Blooms

My cousin from Texas wrote this article for her community newspaper The Rose Online.
Lady Emma Blooms For Anthony Gregory Tornatore
by C.G. Spainhouer Wllis, Oct 19, 2009
Life imitates nature in its simplest forms sometimes.
A good old friend from church, Doris Wilkinson, is a certified judge for the American Iris Society. Doris was interested in irises much of her life, and after retiring from decades of working in the field of education, she pursued her flower hobby with avid tenacity.
Last week I drove out to Doris's place in the country to take a look at how she tends her Iris garden in the fall. It was a nice break to get outside in the cool autumn sunshine after weeks of rainy weather and gray skies. As I toured her raised up flower beds, each Iris was labeled and trimmed and ready for the colder months coming.
She said that iris bulbs are really tubers called rhizomes. They are not planted completely in the ground, but about ½ to ¾ way up with some exposed to the light and air. The odd thing about iris rhizomes, or the flower roots, is that they bloom once and then make baby rhizomes attached.
Doris pointed to one Iris that was the “mother with four babies.” Sure enough, there was a cluster of “bulb” looking like roots, one in the center, with four new ones surrounding it.
Then Doris pointed again and said. “Look. I think it’s gonna bloom soon. That’s rare for this time of year. Really rare.”
“What’s this flower’s name?” I asked.
“Lady Emma” Doris said, “It’s a special flower, a hybrid.”
I was speechless as the sun shined down on the bud and green blades of nature’s beauty.
“What is it?” Doris asked.
“I was thinking and saying a prayer for my cousin T, who was struggling for life after a heart attack just days before. He has three brothers,” I said, “and their mom’s name is Emma. The same name as this flower with four babies.”
We both looked down at the Iris plant, with one rhizome in the middle, four attached babies, and one stemming bud.
A few days passed and Doris stopped by with some more Iris pictures to add to our web site on Monday. She said Lady Emma had started blooming Friday October 16. “Look at these blooms! There’s three of them blooming. But there's a fourth bud may not make it, and I’m afraid the freeze will get it.”
Again, piercing irony. “T died on Friday, one day after his forty-third birthday. I thank you for these pictures. The blooms are so beautiful, so bright and yellow. Such precious a gift.”
Doris said, “I didn’t know, and am sorry for your loss. When I took the pictures, that’s the only part of the garden, the only flowers that had sun shining on them were Lady Emma and her blooms.”
Life imitate nature in its simplest forms ... sometimes.


October 25, 2009

Oh Darling, my niece

My niece, Jennifer Fritz, won a talent contest in the 8-18 years old range. The contest was featured in South Jersy magazine. She wound up on television appearing on the 10! Show. Here is a link to her singing Oh Darling by The Beatles.


October 18, 2009

Life Between the Alpha and Omega

Eulogy for Anthony Gregory “T” Tornatore 1966-2009.

I previewed thousands of pictures and countless home movie clips in order to make the audio/visual tribute shown here tonight. Although that consumed my emotions, it crystallized how to eulogize my brother. T, as he was affectionately known, had reoccurring themes in his life. He had a knack for humor, a regard for animals, a love of good food and passion for sports. If he wanted me to say only three words tonight about these four subjects it would be, “Let’s Go Flyers!”

My fondest earliest memories of T was watching him play superhero or dressing up as his favorite TV characters. Usually with T wearing costumes, he would often spend his free time roughhousing with his brothers.

Along with this irreplaceable male bonding, T developed a competitive nature and displayed a strong interest in sports. He lived to see a good fight whether it was a boxing match, mixed martial arts event or two toothless hockey goons dropping their gloves on ice. He rooted for the home team but would take timeout to cheer drunken spectators fighting in the stands at a ball game.

As a young man, T’s outgoing personality could make you laugh to delirium. An entertainer, he often wore the proverbial lampshade in the room and children gravitated towards his antics. T’s commentary spoofed outtakes that covered every slice of life. He had the overwhelming ability to make you laugh about nothing…or everything. His quick wit came with the complete assurance of a built-in laugh track. I admit just this once that his comedic timing made me envious.

Faced with hearing the familiar sound of crickets after I told a stale joke, T invariably took center stage. After he once whipped what I considered a tough crowd into knee-slapping laughter, he barked “Take that, bro.” T intentionally told better second rate jokes around me to add sadistic amusement to our sibling rivalry.

In his lifetime, T was a brother, son, uncle, cousin, husband and a father but T genuinely loved animals more than anyone I have ever met. After watching me discipline my weak-bladder cocker spaniel, T graded my obedience training. Lacking compassion in his voice, he swore that if he ever saw me do that again he would take me out back and go prehistoric on me. He left my company that day saying goodbye to only my dog. I concluded that T must have loved animals as much as people…at least more than me on that pissy day.

With the exception being his loving daughter Nichole, T rarely found a comfortable forum to talk with people about personal matters. He maintained a private and guarded front that was tough for everyone to penetrate. I remember once confiding to him that I started going steady with a girl. He smirked. Although I was smitten in love, T saw a man ungracefully approaching forty years old. He replied, “Steady? If the girl is still in eighth grade, I’m calling the cops! What did I tell you about watching those Happy Days reruns? Did you tell Fonzie, Ralph Malph or Potsey? Who goes steady these days? Get away from me!”

Regrettably, T’s ongoing medical problems began to affect his spunk and outlook on life. He distanced himself. In October 2008, he survived a heart attack. He came out of induced hypothermia and a coma with a quality of life. His family told him what he did not know and what he needed to hear, that the Philadelphia Phillies had won the World Series! What we didn’t know about his recovery is that we had T on loan for only another year. What a year it was. During this span, I witnessed his personality strangely revert back to his former self, a younger man full of vitality. Other people shared similar experiences with T before his second heart attack. I believe these moments of clarity were present day reminders as to how T defined living in terms of autonomy. In the end, his final prognosis vanquished him further away from his essence, a point of no return from the dignified way he might have wanted to live and probably how he wished to be remembered.

T’s lingering in a coma proved to be the fight of his life. It took me a trail of tears to come to terms with his irreversible condition. It is difficult to presume about another’s will to live but again T was not someone who freely talked about matters of the heart. Incapacitated, he left this legal decision to his family. We the reluctant spectators to his final battle became collaborative advocates on his unspoken wishes. Nobody wanted him to suffer.

As I look around this packed room, I can feel the power of his love. Anecdotally, I am also reminded that his banter often made me giggle inappropriately at funerals. So here I am at his funeral stricken with profound sadness and in no joking mood. Still the little twinkle in my moist eyes suggests that T would desire this occasion to be an upbeat celebration of his life.

In closing, I hold confident that T would not have opted for a comatose existence. If I dare frame my brother’s life, it ended more on the day his laughter stopped then when his heart actually stopped beating. The day of his passing was a day after his birthday, an abbreviated forty-three years between the alpha and the omega. God bless. Rest in peace. Anthony Gregory Tornatore.

-Joseph Tornatore


October 06, 2009

Going Ballistic for Kurbaan

Kurbaan is a highly anticipated Bollywood thriller about terrorism that reaches United States soil. The movie stars Saif Ali Khan, Vivek Oberoi and sizzling Karenna Kapor who is rumored to be seen topless. Its cinematic release date is November 27, 2009 so mark your calendars. The film represents the directorial debut for Rensil D’Silva, arguably the top screenplay writer in Hindi cinema.
The movie is advertised to be both visually entertaining and inwardly thought provoking about the notion of personal safety while living in the emotionally charged era of terrorism. In fact, the 2008 Mumbai, India terrorist attacks that left over one hundred people dead occurred while the movie was in the middle of its production.
My fourth Bollywood movie, I was hired to do some featured background work in what looks to be a pivotally violent scene. An overnight shoot, my set location occurred on a moving train that ran all night and only stopped for bathroom breaks. Glimpses of this scene are included in the beginning seconds and ending before the fade to black of this theatrical trailer. Although I do not know if I made the final cut as a running train passenger in or out of focus, I was close enough to the gunman’s actions in the signature scene for the props department to issue me earplugs to buffer the noise. I am still going ballistic for this movie.


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