Freudian Slips: November 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.

November 28, 2009

Nightmare Before Thanksgiving

Why do we need to push up the Christmas holiday season before giving Thanksgiving its proper due? It is only after the hustle and bustle of Thanksgiving that I can begin to think about shopping and unwind enough to enjoy Christmas music. It is a pet peeve to hear radio stations playing Christmas music before the arrival of Thanksgiving. Bing Crosby's voice confuses me on what Americans need to be next thankful for on Thanksgiving and Christianity has got nothing to do with my November holiday meal. The last time I checked Rudolph the Rednosed Reindoor flew only one night in late December and there isn’t even venison in a turducken! Yet the gaudy department store displays of Christmas holiday decorations seem to want to trump Thanksgiving. If only Thanksgiving had a commercial upside, retailers would be traditionalizing us into decorating our front lawns with glow-in-the-dark strung turkeys.
Am I missing something here? Do farmers need to lull turkeys into a false sense of security by piping Christmas music into the farm pens? The stupid dodo bird turkeys hear the cheery rump pa pa pum music and think they got a stay of execution then the mercenary farmers sneakily yell off with their heads. Remembering the pilgrims and the birth of Jesus should be separate and not equal. I don’t hear anyone setting off firecrackers on Easter morning so don’t go playing Little Drummer Boy in my ear until Black Friday cometh. Celebrating gifting before fowling seems like a misgiving.

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November 20, 2009

When Drinkability Becomes Marketability

For weeks, it felt like our refurbished screen house needed a finishing touch of decorum. Call it equal parts inspiration and donation but I ran electric to professionally hang this secondhand Budweiser neon sign behind the bar. Home projects like these often take my wretched hands and the wrong tools way too long to complete. When persistence pays off, I relish sitting back to admire my work.
So I reclined at my new outdoor bar in my new porcelain tiled screen house having what else, a nightcap celebratory beer. As the new Budweiser neon sign casted strange ambient lighting on not only my dark wooded lot but also my Coors Light can, I chuckled about the dueling incongruence…celebrating King of Beers advertising with Silver Bullet liquidity. The Budweiser sign may have to come down on principle. Even stranger but true, I got hired as an actor to be in a Coors Light Crasher commercial. Life has always been a strange brew for me.


November 14, 2009

Almost Making a Killing

Before my recent vacation in Atlantic City, New Jersey, I did not know anything about horseracing. Maybe it should have stayed that way. Why people call them ponies I have no idea because through the snowy picture of the casino simulcasts they looked all grown up to me. When I asked a patron why domesticated animals like donkeys or llamas do not competitively race the way humans force horses and dogs, he knew I had never been to a racetrack. He pushed up his Johnny Olson glasses like a crack reporter then returned to some filler newspaper devoted to nothing but assigning numbers to silly horse names. Without him saying a word proved the beginning and end of our relationship.
After placing a first bet, a track announcer on the simulcast reported that the next race is for horses who have never won a single race. My wife and I giggled at the contradiction. I now felt foolish holding my tendered ticket like it was some unclaimed prize pack for dopes. I held onto my foolish thoughts this time though but cannot get past the notion that these loser horses should be fired as racehorses and sent out to pasture. The race saw none of the horses we bet even finish in the middle of the pack.
For an entire afternoon, my wife and I randomly bet horses whimsically called Coy Cat, Red Delicious, Bold Ocean, etc after extrapolating their odd names to some insignificant meaning in our lives. I pickup the jargon of win, place, show and learn about trifecta but my lackluster horses want none of the winner’s circle.
While attempting to simply wager on a horse to show, the casino worker agreed that it was a good bet but he would not allow me to gamble.
I asked, “Why not?”
“Eight horses scratched on the sloppy track….there are only three horses left. Blame it on the hurricane!”
I walked back to my video monitor with disappointment hanging on my face. I explained to my wife that the odds were too much in our favor for the house to accept my bet because of inclement weather. Wouldn’t you know it? Emerging from the rears of the thin field kicking up brown muck, my horse predictably finished dead last. I curse the casino that had refused to turn my bad luck around.
So I gathered my wits and looked for a favorite. I searched the whites of my pockets and found three crumbled dollars and four quarters. I am all in as they say on a number five horse called Libor Lady to win. My horse won first place in a photo finish. From my comfortable perch inside the casino, I had won my first horserace, the next to the last race at the famed Churchill Downs. High fives go around the booth. By our hooting and hollering, the other grumpy betters must have thought we won a 99-1 long shot betting the mortgage.
I pocketed my gross winnings…$6.80 cents, a full $2.40 more than I actually gambled on Lady Libor. Feeling like lady luck was with us, we left horse and buggy for the self-park garage. From this paddock, I jockeyed my car into an ungodly Nor’easter formerly known as Hurricane Ida. The sideways rain and sixty miles per hour winds did not deter me. I had a coupon for a little out of the way Italian restaurant and nothing was going to stop me from saving a few bucks. I grabbed the reigns of my steering wheel as the wind moved my car side to side. Low-lying streets were flooded and visibility was nil but the endless sloppy track was wide open. I shoot to the inside lane never looking behind. After getting into a car accident with another moving vehicle, I realized that I should have scratched myself from this last race. This coming from the horse's mouth, I almost made a costly killing on the track.


November 08, 2009

Without Bread You're Texas Toast

While sitting in the doctor’s office going out of my mind in the sprawling waiting room, a developing story came across the TV news desk. The channel interrupted regular programming and went to a live video feed for what I hoped would be a newsworthy story. Since my life was on hold at the time waiting for medical treatment, over the next hour I watched a single camera high in the sky film multiple police officers engaging in a ho-hum high-speed chase of a heavy-footed motorist across Texas. After I started to wonder how much gasoline this person was wasting trying to get away without incident, a reporter mentioned stolen gas from a pumping station actually put the situation into motion.
I don’t like paying for food on a credit card because it is gone by the time the bill comes in. This derelect soul used up exactly the commodity he stole before he was even arrested.


November 05, 2009

Bazookas on the Big Screen

BAZOOKAS: The Movie will be playing theatrically in Maplewood, NJ for two consecutive weeks beginning November 8, 2009. Show times and tickets are available online at and
Do not go see this movie on account of me. Although I have a credited part in the movie as a bartender, the drive to the theatre will be exceedingly longer than my small part. I am inviting patronage because the movie has enough chuckles in it that makes it worth watching on the big screen.


November 03, 2009

A Parting Gift

Anthony Gregory "T" Tornatore
Prior to my brother Anthony’s removal from life support to allow him to die naturally, the immediate family gathered at the hospital to pay our final respects. We positioned ourselves in the waiting room and drug our feet to his hospital bed to say our individualized fateful final goodbyes.
The sympathetic doctor in charge entered the waiting room. Using a soft low-key voice, she addressed a huddled family, whose collective emotions seemed already in mourning. "Is everyone here?" Yes, we answered like drones. "Is there anybody else coming to the hospital?" No, we fretted. "Has everyone been afforded sufficient time to say goodbye?" Yes, we muttered with heavy hearts. "Okay, I need a verbal consent from his daughter, to remove the life support." Between his daughter and my mother looking at one another, neither materialized an audible answer but both approximated reluctant head nods. The doctor accepted their mutual decision to proceed then informed the family the inevitability of what was expected to happen next. The doctor promised notification of the exact time of his passing.
Like victims of stolen love, our solemn sobbing and prayer monopolized the waiting room. The first minute of vigil felt like a wrecking ball hitting my heart. Everyone seemed to breathe heavier as if we were projecting our oxygen as a scarce commodity for my brother’s time off the ventilator. When the next few minutes produced no news, a vacuous blanket of silence filled the air. Concluding that my brother must be struggling to breath on his own, I prayed for mercy. I did not want his final moments spent in pain. After about twenty minutes, various family members began to mingle outside the waiting room doing the things people do when they do not know what to do….incoherent muttering, needless bathroom stops, mindless cell phone texts and unproductive pacing in looping circles.
As I personally prayed to a God largely unfamiliar to me, I enlivened my last moments with my brother there by his deathbed….stroking through the warm-blooded flesh of his arm, watching the white linen on his hospital bed my tears over his hospital bed absorb my transparent moisture. I recalled kissing him goodbye. I saw the final reflection of both of us in the hospital glass while I turned away for the final time. I canonized the last time I saw my brother alive.
All of a sudden, my brother’s ex-wife runs into the waiting room and shouts, "There is a woman in bed with T and nobody knows who it is. Help!" I knew then that my loving memorial of my brother’s last moments was about to be disturbed. Finding my brother unhooked to a vent and struggling to breath seemed a footnote subtlety to the shock of seeing a hysterical woman straddling him up on his bed. I witnessed her slapping his face side to side like a Three Stooges act performed with gallows humor. She was trying to resurrect a dying man with the insensibility of denial. The woman screamed now or never instructions. "Don't listen to the doctors! You can do this. Come on. Wake-up!”
After pulling her down from his bed and escorting her out of the area, we all began to breathe a sigh of relief. I was not the only one who found ironic meaning in what had just happened. My dying brother would have found this moment not only comical but a suitable parting gift. Although we had compassionately tried to define our final moments with him, it was typical of his personality to say goodbye to us…with the last laugh.


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