Freudian Slips: June 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.

June 28, 2009

Nick at Night

Joseph Tornatore on the set of The Warrior.

The cruelest truism about acting is that it promotes a safety net of self-confidence until proven otherwise. While nobody reports to a movie set without entertaining the notion of being upgraded to a bigger part, be careful what you dream about.
I was hired to film as a background extra for an establishing scene in the mixed martial arts drama called The Warrior. From a hovering helicopter, an eye in the sky camera films extras along the Atlantic City boardwalk. I imagine looking like a dubious raisin on planks if I make the final cut at all.
While minding my own business, I get plucked from the throng of 250 background actors for reasons I do not understand. Whisked to the director, he looks me up and down before giving his nod of approval. I am taken off the set by a crewmember who escorts me to a parked trailer.
A Mary Poppins of a wardrobe lady swinging a measuring tape greets us. “Well, who do we have here?”
The crewmember replies, “He’s the guy we spied for Nick Nolte’s stand-in.”
From this point forward, it becomes surreal and my personal experiences seem to be somehow placed inexplicably into a vault the moment they happen. The sun has set long ago. I’m wearing another man’s clothes. I’m sitting in a golf cart waiting to be taken to set. Somebody congratulates me on making the A-team. An army of crewmembers work around a yellow cab like it is in a NASCAR pit stop. Eventually, I’m placed inside the backseat of the cab that is raised on a trailer and attached to a process truck that will pull it though city streets behind the swirling cherry topped police car of a pace vehicle. The cab driver, who will do no actual driving in this scene, is an actor from Pittsburgh. He relaxes in the front seat. He and I chat about Atlantic City's schizophrenic divide between the Rich Man, Poor Man while Hollywood's best camera lenses, microphones, wires, lights, and measurements occur both inside and outside the car all around us. I run scripted lines for a sound check of the microphone hard mounted between my legs. A voice over my walkie-talkie instructs me to exit the no meter running cab. The left rear passenger door swings open and I am helped down from my perch. Nick Nolte brushes by me, nods then climbs aboard the raised cab with equal awkwardness. The first thing that really strikes me is that I am identical in physical dimensions to Nick Nolte.
Nick and I constantly switch spots throughout the night like alter egos. It is either he or I sitting on an apple box on the sidewalk. It is my warm water bottle in the cab next to his cool perspiring one. Since piped air conditioning interferes with recorded sound quality, it is Nick’s hand towel for perspiration, my napkin for sweat. After filming multiple point of view angles, the scene concludes halfway through the night. I’m eating shrimp fajita wraps next to Nick Nolte amongst undesirable riff raff just off set. The crew does there best to conceal Nick’s identity by posing as human shields while people pass by but I am left hanging by the wind. Seeing a stationed film crew, drunken vacationers venturing from the boardwalk or leaving the casinos demand me to pose for pictures with them. Nick has the night off from paparazzi.
Wranglers escort background actors to the set to film another scene. I workout the blocking and the timing as the camera and light crews make fine tuned adjustments. We move to rehearsal. If not for being the stand-in actor, it would be an ego boost to have numerous extras following your lead then performing synchronized motions around you. Alas, the director gives me humbling grades as a stand-in. Faster here, slower there, more stoop as you move, hail the cab driver earlier, wait two beats not one at the hotel door before leaving, etc. I try to shelter myself from the recesses of my mind but it is only a matter of time before the inevitable occurs. So I watch with microscopic eyes as Oscar and Emmy nominated actor Nick Nolte absolutely nails down the scene overtop the skeleton one I struggled to create in flawed rehearsal takes.
Shortly after dawn, Nick Nolte’s scenes wrap. A glorious and inglorious twelve-hour Nick at Night ends in a saltwater trail. I realize that I have spent an entire night trying to convince both Nick Nolte and high-heeled hookers exiting the casino that I am working.


June 22, 2009

Summer Survival Tips for the Northeast

Summer is officially here although you would not know it by the abundant overcast skies that have cast gloom over our lives over the past month. Here are some survival tips for this summer.

  • Seasonal Affective Disorder has been extended until further notice.
  • Stop tracking weather forecasts. Every day is contrastingly dreary.
  • Cancel scheduled vacation time from work until August.
  • If you are hosting an outdoor event, rent a tent or canopy to pamper your guests.
  • If you see the sunshine, drop to both knees and worship it because it won't last long.
  • In the even of continued overcast benefited by the absence of rain, start mowing your overgrown lawn. Chances are it is almost one foot high.
  • If you have yet to turn on your underground sprinklers as a homeowner, you might not need to.
  • Do not replace your solar powered landscape lighting. The gizmos will eventually jump start the first nightfall after the return of the sun.
  • If you were considering joining a water park this summer, it may be coming to you.
  • If your tomato plants are not water rotted, register your magic garden in the next Farmer’s Almanac.
  • If you are a shoobie vacationing at the shore, the word “sucker’ now appears on your purchased beach tags.
  • Along with a $10..00 non-refundable deposit, reservations are now being taken for new windshield wiper blades at your local autmotive parts store.
  • Mostly cloudy is now considered an awesome forecast.
  • Dollar Store umbrellas are not made to work for thirteen straight days.
  • For you sun worshippers, SBF 3 sun tan lotion may be enough UV ray protection.
  • If you ever ruled out moving to Seattle because of their wet weather, now is the best time to change your mind.


June 21, 2009

A Bright Idea

I received a ritz pair of designer sunglasses for Father’s Day. It might be a long time before I seize the opportunity to use them becaused this spring sure has turned out shady. With the deluge of rain and overcast skies I doubt solar powered landscape lights are working.


June 17, 2009

Eminem..Melt in Your Mouth, Stick in Your Ear

My stepson hurriedly hooked up his Ipod to my swank car stereo. He wanted me to hear Eminem’s new album driving out on the road broadcasting thru Bose speakers. After a few minutes of listening to Eminem’s rap songs blurt out catchy hip but vile expressions, my hands uncomfortably gripped the steering wheel. It wasn’t just the sheer number of Eminem’s curse words that made me uneasy, it was the x-rated carnal knowledge that he was singing deep throated about. I was embarrassed for my stepson who accompanied me driving his young girlfriend home. As I drive,I realize that I am the only one who feels this way. His generation does not even blink at the streaming downloaded culture in which we live. It knows no taboo.

My stepson comments about the lyrical screaming overtop the music. “It’s just not rap without the cursing.” I muse about what the moral compass of Bill Cosby might say to all this: Talented Eminem diluted by his cesspool potty mouth.

Just the previous week I heard my stepson school me on the merits of heavy metal music…”It’s not heavy metal music unless they belt it out angry.”

My stepson knows infinitesimally more about music than I do but this seemed to be an issue disregarding of taste and deserving of tolerance. I harkened back to when I was just two years older than him. On a slimy spool of a cassette tape, we listened to Tom Petty with rolled down windows in my first car. The image of Tom Petty’s shoulder length hair locks made him anti-establishment in my vanilla world. We thought we were so coooooooool..

Thirty years passed me by like a petty concern. Somehow, the memories of the angelic soft voice of my best friend’s girlfriend got consumed by a radically changed world that now hung on my stepson’s girlfriend’s voice. “Could you please turn up Refugee?” had been brazenly voiced over by “Crank that shit!”

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June 14, 2009

Mos Definitely Audition

Actor Mos Def

Yesterday, I went to an audition for a small part in the movie Stringbean and Marcus. The screenplay had the fiber to win a Pew Fellowship at the Sundance Lab. The full length movie is slated to start filming this July staring Mos Def(16 Blocks, Next Day Air) and Sophie Okonedo, who got an Oscar nomination for her role as Tatiana in Hotel Rwanda). Each actor has more than 35 film credits.
Set in 1978, Stringbean and Marcus is a drama about the severed love affair between two Black Panther members as the story is told through the eyes of a adolescent girl.
My videotaped audition for a police officer went well. Although there is little loyalty in the acting business, the casting agency pulled me aside and double-checked my availability. Since I came to the audition fully dressed in a police uniform, I replied that I am ready to shoot now. Ah, it always feels good to leave them laughing, Mos Definitely.


June 11, 2009

Making Scents in Atlantic City

I spent the better part of three days in Atlantic City on vacation. It was so relaxing that I did not want to checkout of the stately room inside Bally's casino. I purposely gave the casino only a handful of my money yet I came away with so many cherishable scents during my stay from the boardwalk to the spa.

-The splendid aroma of my 32 ounce morning coffee.
-The penetrating menthol smell of the aromatheraphy inhalation room.
-The charged ionized air before a dark clouded thunderstorm.
-The chlorinated water of the indoor heated hotel pool.
-The smell of fashion trendy women’s perfume carrying across the casino floor.
-The refreshing salt-water smell of the spritzing Atlantic ocean.
-The clean smell from a Noxema facial wrap.


June 08, 2009

The Greek American Movie Website

The official website for The Greek American movie is now online. Click the link and you can view the trailer. The full length movie stars Kenneth McGregor, Ryan Tygh, Joey Trantos, Andrea Langhi, and Peter Patrikios.

As for its cast, Kenneth McGregor's acting was top-notch stellar. McGregor has had movie scenes with prolific actors such as Tom Cruise and Denzel Washington. It was an absolute honor for me to exchange dialogue with him in rolling film that made the final cut.
Mcgregor's co-star lead, Alysia Maltepes, also directs the film. The beautiful innocence of Maltapes' character is something worth fighting for even after you thought that love was long lost.
This happens to be the second movie I was in with sultry Andrea Langhi. We both had small roles in The Nail, which is airing on Showtime later this summer. At the premier of the The Greek American movie, I thought I congratulated Andrea on her noteworthy performance in the Oscar nominated film, The Wrestler but, as it topsy-curvy turns out, it was her closely resembling attractive sister.
The comedic character Joey Trantos played fit him like a snug glove or should I say a cast iron skillet.
Actor Peter Patrikios stole some scenes playing an unorthodox Spiro in The Greek American. Far and away, Peter proved to be my favorite actor in the film. Before I landed the part of bartender in this movie, I actually did a cold reading as a stand-in for Peter Patrikios in one scene to get the blocking right for the camera. Peter's unique adaptation of the character Spiro supplied more energy and dynamic interest than my vanilla reading. As it stands on film, surrounded by better actors than myself, I got four lines in five scenes as Gus, the bartender. If I deserve any props, I can make faux ouzo drinks out of milk droppings in water tending bar with the best of them.


June 03, 2009

Death Wish in the Driveway

As I put my car in reverse, I hear thump, thump, thump. Curse words erupt from my leather cockpit because this was the definitive sound of a major flat tire. I sling myself out of my God-forsaken car, fully expecting the worse in the indignity of my own driveway. I circle the vehicle. Curiously, the air pressure in each of my tires looks more than adequate.
I get back into my car and try again. The same repetitive thump follows me halfway down the driveway. Exiting the car, I check inside my trunk for something rolling around. Everything seems secure. At my wit's end, I literally stand around my vehicle while scratching my head.
Not knowing what else to do, I get back into my car. This time I reverse faster than normal while dismissing the lunacy of expecting a different outcome at a higher rate of speed. Thump, thump, thump. I put my cursing aside after concluding with a gulp in my throat that I have repeatedly run over a defenseless toddler. Manslaughter charges run rampant through my active imagination, one that comes complete with the soundbite of a Judge's gavel.
I lay down in the driveway where I literally shimmy underneath my car. As I lay on my back staring at the empty undercarriage, an adult possum jumps from my wheel well overtop my prone body. Claws and fur fly in slow motion over my defenseless body before I catch another glimpse of him scampering away through a brush thicket.
The possum had been running atop my moving tire like a personal treadmill. This possum wasn’t playing dead. Nope, this one had a death wish. It is not everyday you wheely come across an endangered species.


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