Freudian Slips: July 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.

July 27, 2009

Face-Off: El Wingador vs. Brutus Beefcake

Bill Simmons, aka El Wingador enters the boxing ring.

An estimated one thousand patrons gathered on July 24, 2009, in Aston, Pennsylvania at the Ice Works, which hosted Celebrity Boxing 10, When Worlds Collide. The main event pitted former major league baseball slugger Jose Canseco verses Bill Simmons, the Five Time Wing Bowl Eating Champion called El Wingador. Canseco made it to the pre-fight press conference but he ditched town before his heavyweight fight. So the much-anticipated Juiced verses Sauced titan matchup had to be shelved. Former WWF and WCW wrestler Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake got added as a late substitution to fight 6’5” three hundred pounder El Wingador.
I had the privilege of traveling along with El Wingador’s camp to cover the fight from behind the scenes. Arriving at his house, barefoot El Wingador had just woken up having napped like a baby before the fight. A self-proclaimed street fighter, El Wingador reported that he dropped about a dozen pounds professionally training for weeks inside a boxing ring. He also studied tape of Jose Canseco’s previous fights but there was no way to prepare last minute for his match against Brutus Beefcake. He expressed disappointment about not squaring off against Canseco but accepted his new challenger.
Soon after he confidently shadowboxed in his family room to channel his building adrenaline, Adventure Limousines transported him along with his entourage of family and friends. Riding in the plush limousine, El Wingador conversed freely in the relaxed cabin as a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert played on the big screen TV. The limousine aptly rolled through a tremendous downpour en route to the fight but El Wingador exited the limo all smiles with the skyline beaming a rainbow color burst like a lucky charm backdrop.
Pot of gold for a purse aside, I tried to pump El Wingador up before we parted company. “Tonight you’re eating Beefcakes, hold the chicken.”
He smiled but he needed no pep talk from a wit writ like me. Inside the arena, the converted facilities lacked suitable posh for the circumstance. The paying guests weathered unfriendly sixty-degree indoor building temperatures. Forty-five dollars cold cash got you a ringside seat in the form of a freezing metal folding chair placed on the covered ice. By the end of the night, my toes felt frostbitten. I wondered how the scantily clad ring card girls kept up their manufactured smiles or how the hired help cleaned the spit buckets without wielding an ice pick. The wireless microphone either froze or never recovered from Zaughn Ivins’ powerful rendition of The National Anthem. The sound system caused numerous delays and literally muffled the ring announcer’s every third word on a shuffled line-up card. The boxing matches promoted as an exhibition lost professional starch and gained consideration for a spectacle.
Entering the boxing ring to the tune of the Black Eye Peas performing Boom, Boom, Pow, El Wingador displayed pageantry wearing a gorgeous custom tailored robe that had furly blood red chicken wings on the back. When the ring announcer mistakenly introduced Brutus Beefcake as Hulk Hogan’s real life brother, it proved how this longstanding urban legend manages to survive. Aside from putting anyone named after food in front of El Wingador, Brutus Beefcake recklessly accepted this fight having undergone total facial reconstructive surgery following a freak parasailing accident. I do not care how comfortable padded headgear feels to the touch, a fake wrestler’s reconstructed face held together by screws and steel plates should not change professions to eat El Wingador’s authentic sledgehammer fists.
From the opening bell, Brutus Beefcake ate a steady diet of El Wingador’s powerful body shots. El Wingador controlled the fight and he needed to land only one solid right hand punch. The right on right crumbled Brutus Beefcake's knees before he stumbled backwards into the corner. His marble eyes rolled wildly in his shaken noggin and the referee signaled a TKO towards the end of round number one. Beefcake, fighting a bigger side of beef in an icehouse, got knocked out cold in what could have easily turned into a literal bloody face-off.
While El Wingador may consider fighting again, return to competitive eating or whether his next publicity stunt will be going over Niagara Falls in a big barrel, I know one thing about this gentle giant. Be careful stepping into any competitive event with El Wingador. He has the guts to eat you alive.

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July 26, 2009

Living on the Ledge

- The Italian suit talked me out of jumping.


July 22, 2009

The Fool on the Swill

Judith “Babe” Mitton is a non-verbal severely retarded female. As long as I have known her, she has worn a cute set of signature pigtails that usually hover overtop a stolen cup of hot coffee.
As a disabled child, Judith grew up in a bi-level house before her parents gave up custody of her then moved to parts unknown never to be heard from again. As a result, the social services agency with whom I work found her a licensed home in the community to live and moved her across the county. Over the years, Judith bounced around different homes but managed to avoid institutional commitment. A thousand spilled coffee cups later, low and behold circumstances dictated another uprooting so she moved back into Gloucester County.
The new caregiver thought Judith made a seamless transition into her new home. Judith seemed intimately familiar and at ease with her new surroundings from the onset. She claimed her own bedroom in the house like an incumbent and chased the kitchen coffee pot from her first morning on. A long honeymoon period followed.
A decade later, a reclusive neighbor ventured outside to get some sunlight on his ashen elder face. He recognized outbound Judith from yesteryear like kindled infinite fate. The facts were checked until they proved undeniable. A mentally challenged person defied all odds and incredibly moved back into her own house with only her knowing it while those who thought they knew better called her retarded. From the mouth of babe came no words, but in life like her coffee, the cream did rise to the top. Sometimes home has an old address.


July 15, 2009

New Jersey's Budget Woes: Reaching A Greener Forest Through the Trees

These recessionary times have forced me to examine my household budget in order to keep making ends meet. After reviewing my ledger, I arrived at the following conclusion:

One full time job

Three part time jobs

843 FICA Credit Score

A spouse who works full time

No MAC card in the last 18 years.

Pays child support on time without the court garnishing my wages.

No credit card debt

Enrolled in a deferred compensation plan.

Paying down a 15-year mortgage.

Pays bills exceedingly on time. No late fees or cycle service charges.

Proactively uses debit cards.

Clips store coupons and buys generic brand names

Avoids buying retail whenever possible

Owns company stocks

Saves for children’s college

Invests in US savings bonds

Reconciles checkbook.

In order to help fix New Jersey’s irreconcilable budget, the Governor of the thirteenth state of the Union with the highest cost of living in the nation has mandated me to take unpaid leaves of absences from my job… so he can ergo balance his own budget.

Money does not grow on trees but I do not believe it should be deforested from my pocket either. Where does fiscal responsibility begin and end? If a New Jersey budget falls for years in the woods without trimming why wasn't anyone listening?

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July 12, 2009

Bike Riding on Fenwick Island, DE

On a recent vacation to southern Delaware and Maryland my wife and I were looking at shore houses to buy. This wasn't one of them.


July 06, 2009

Plane Truth to Bollywood's New York

Joseph Tornatore(blue shirt) filming an action scene in the movie New York.
Having filmed only one day on a hundred day shoot, it s a minor achievement to make the final cut as a recognizable actor in the Bollywood movie, New York. Playing an FBI agent, the camera captures my harrowing reaction to a terrorist attack in close-up during its signature scene about 1 hour 22 minutes into the film. You can also see glimpses of me pointing, holding my arms on top of my head, and running like a scared kitten out of an FBI building as pictured. I was surprised to find this movie New York already posted to You Tube.
This preamble leads me to an interesting outtake from working on this movie, which epitomizes how art imitates life.
Background actors stood in the middle of the city street aligned with NYPD cruisers blaring flashing lights. As the precision heavy trample of an armed SWAT team moved, a crowd stared up at the Federal Bureau of Investigation high tower building with our necks cocked. We were told to act panicked. Act like your worse nightmare is happening is the directive I kept in my head.
The wide lens camera captured the chaos on our faces. With yellow caution tape weaving through a wooden horse barricade, a police cruiser skidded right in front of our position. A faux news reporter broadcasted the staged event.
While giving the take my best impending doom stare, a low flying passenger plane flew low over the city. The jet flew horizontally between the top floors of buildings. I spocked it heading in the direction of the FBI building under siege in this exact scene. Since I have been in movies where the crew purposely does not let actors know scene elements in the hopes of capturing their raw emotion, I paused.
A few actors gasped at the unlikely notion that the production company has somehow recreated the infamy of the events of September 11th. A chill casts over me and I fall out of character. I leap frogged from pretend panic to real dread and finally back into character. Alas, it turns out to be a coincidental optical illusion. A better actor than myself might have carried the more intense natural look without a Big Apple lump knotted in their throat. Here is the Boeing 767 plane truth of the matter. It is hard to act accordingly in New York during the exact moment the world changed.


July 02, 2009

A Set to Behold: Aniston in The Bounty

Jennifer Aniston
The holding area for actors on a closed movie set is comparable to the park bench occupancy next to Forrest Gump. Once people claim their seats in the holding area of this decadent casino, every box of chocolates opens for the movie The Bounty starring Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler(300, PS, I Love You).
Radioman, a Hollywood icon whose life story inspired the lead character in The Fisher King is here on set with his working papers. A former homeless man, Radioman's ubiquitous character is a welcomed background staple for motion pictures. I entertain the faint memory of Radioman attending the posh Oscars alongside the actor who played him on film, Robin Williams. It looks like another culture clash as I observe Radioman’s beard catch scrambled egg morsels while sitting on the floor of the Taj Majal.
Queen Laqueefa, a burlesque dancer whose extraordinary Kegel control can manipulate inserted objects, spouts her vaginal feats to any actor who will listen. After a decisive wardrobe change, Laqueefa is wearing about as much fabric found in a hand towel for her aptly cast part as a streetwalker on the boardwalk. As far as I can gauge, the props department never equipped her.
There is a four foot something actor here from the Bronx who would look undersized as a horse jockey. He could play a child in this movie if they close shaved him. Another actor strikingly resembles Doogie Howser. An actress, whom Harrison Ford actually said reminded him of Carrie Fisher, is here as an extra. As I sit in holding, I actively wonder their degree of dilemma resembling another actor verses my getting chosen for a scene resembling myself.
On the set, we film as fillers for a boardwalk scene for most of the day. Eventually, the returning rain pattern chases us indoors for interior scenes. I’m standing near sultry Jennifer Aniston at the bottom of the escalators underneath the Taj Majal's signature chandeliers. There is extended down time as the crew methodically sets up this scene by the escalators.
Hundreds of fans held precariously behind yellow caution tape implore freestanding extras to autograph casino chips, cocktail napkins and even bare flesh because they think we might become household names. I imagine the lampoon of myself photo shopped out of thousands of pictures after computer upload or my worthless scribbled signature rubbed off under scolding hotel tap water the morning after. Sharpie markers pass amongst the crowd as much as Visine drops does on the set. Actors hear the word “wrap” in the fifteenth hour.
Just when I am ready to leave set, the first AD pulls me aside and tells me that playback footage prominently captured me behind Aniston so I am invited back the next day to finish filming the scene. Alarmingly, I’m so deliriously tired that I do not remember much of the hour ride home in solitude with my Bose speakers blaring to keep me awake.
After a blink of an eye nap in my bed, an abbreviated shift spent at the day job, and a return commute, I’m back the next day on set in Atlantic City. I meet a new regime of actors but I sit for several hours before I am used. About two hundred actors take their turn filming scenes over umpteen hours. Along the way, the acting world loses Farrah Fawcett but the show must go on. I digress to thinking of this sex symbol’s iconic bathing suit poster hanging on my bedroom wall. I inconceivably dismiss Jennifer Aniston as cameras roll with the Fawcett running in my resonating mind. In between takes and production stops, I use my cell phone to access the Internet where I discover rumors swirling that Angelina Jolie is sending Jennifer Aniston nasty text messages to leave Brad Pitt alone. I cast a surreal look over to Jennifer Aniston for evidential proof but nothing is happening on my watch.
Cutting through my tastefully seasoned prime rib during break, actor Jeff Goldblum is reported dead. Sometime later, many actors report difficulty being able to connect to the flooded wireless Internet. A boisterous female crewmember stands on a folding chair and tragically confirms the death of Michael Jackson. Sadly, nobody asks about actor Jeff Goldblum anymore. I don’t remember Goldblum having any serious character issues to demote his sudden death this far south of the Jackson headliner.
Back on the set with live actors, lady luck and the right wardrobe place me next to the hero table to shoot the next scene at a craps table. A spiked haired actor nicknames me mobster Frankie Brown Eyes because of my sparkling gold on black sequin casino garb. I play craps as the camera films Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler's point of view, both of whom are directly across from me. I don’t know how to play craps but my pantomime acting is enough realism with the camera rolling. My thoughts are fleeting, however. I have trouble concentrating due to sleep deprivation. In this game of craps, I could be called the fader right about now. I misread the next roll of the dice in the scene because I am admiring Jennifer Aniston's flawless features….The dealer's voice pierces my eardrum as he claims the casino has the advantage in this game. I beg to disagree. What a set to behold.


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