Freudian Slips: May 2010

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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.

May 26, 2010

Cheeseburger in Paradox

One of my developmentally disabled clients stopped by my satellite office for an unscheduled greeting. He muttered frustration under his breath. "Joe, I need to talk to you. My girlfriend is receiving too much services. You know, the same services as me only way more and different."
I smirked, "Don't say support services like it's a bad thing."
"Joe, it's good and bad. Since my gastro bypass surgery, I lost 170 pounds, you know.”
“You lost a whole person. You look fantastic.”
“Thanks. I must finally look trim enough because I attracted a girlfriend. She asked me out. I'm trying to gain a sweetheart after losing a person, you might say." He smiles cheesily. "For our first date, we go to Ruby Tuesday's for a cheeseburger. She has her agency chauffer pick me up at my townhouse. What's that all about? While I tolerated the free ride to the restaurant, she says that this cool program she is in, Real Wife Choices, comes with a driver.”
“That’s not the name of her program but the devil is in the details. Go on.”
“Anyway, we get to Ruby Tuesday’s and her chauffer doesn’t wait in the car. The driver brags about being hungry. The chauffer comes in and sits down at the table with us. It's my frigging first date and she is reading the menu to me. It's bad enough I got to pay for my date when Joe, well you didn't even get my voucher approved. No way was I paying for the lunch of a chauffer. Bottom line. Your workers got to stop coming on dates with me. Joe, you got to do something about this program of hers. I’m telling you she's spoiled rotten and I don't need a chaperone."


May 11, 2010

My Dinner with De Niro

Robert De Niro

As a bit actor, I have compiled a list of revered actors I dream of sharing space on a movie set. Call it my bucket list. I have always considered Oscar winner Robert De Niro as one of the greatest actors of all time. His acting superiority in the movies Raging Bull and Taxi Cab alone are ranked #10 and #22 on the One Hundred Greatest Performances of All Time list.
My bucket list got a name shorter after recent invitation to the movie set of The Dark Fields starring iconic Robert De Niro and hunk Bradley Cooper. While De Niro presents more salt than pepper in his hair now, he carried enormous class and trademark confidence on the set of this thriller.
I got handpicked from a contingency of about two hundred largely unused extras holed up underground inside a former bank vault. I became a restaurant patron in a scene that filmed for several hours. As part of a group of five actors waiting to be seated next at the hostess station. Neil Burger, (The Illusionist) tapped me on the shoulder while the crew flipped the camera to a new position. The director instructed our party to greet De Niro with admiration and recognition as he cavorted into the upscale restaurant. It was explained that De Niro’s character commanded our awe. I almost blurted out that my reaction would hardly be acting becauseI had been bowing to De Niro like a demigod all day.
I quickly took inventory of the moment at hand. Albeit an uncredited role, I will be in frame with a living legend in a major motion picture. All I got to do is act like De Niro is one of my favorite actors on my bucket list! As cast and crew setup for the first take of this scene, I thought of everything that could go wrong until something unexpectedly did.
The nagging allergy cough that I suppressed during filming returned with a vengeance. I actually needed to flee the restaurant through the front turnstile doors in an embarrassing coughing stupor. Outside on the streets of Philadelphia, I hacked up dozens of congested coughs. Doubled over and worried another extra in holding would take my coveted place, my uncontrollable coughing began to resemble a panic attack. The large group of adulating fans gathered across the street made catcalls.
Somebody shouted, “Hey, that’s not Bradley Cooper!” Another commented, “It’s certainly not De Niro.” A young girl asked, “Who is it?" “I dunno, probably a nobody.” Some quick thinker wondered, “Wait a minute, I bet this is part of the movie?” Another said, "I don’t know but I’m recording it anyway."
A crew member, assigned to crowd control, called a medic on the walkie-talkie. About the time, my watery eyes could make out cameras and handheld video recorders pointed my way across the street, the medic arrived. I rose up from a doubled over position trying to resume normal breathing. I had no voice but I kept pantomiming whether they were filming yet. De Niro was supposed to start the scene outside the restaurant but as far as I knew he had yet to report outdoors to his first mark. The medic told me to save my breath and tilt my head back. Down went cough medicine. A cough drop was plucked into my mouth. I was handed a towel to dry the cold sweat from my face. Another arm appeared out of nowhere to hand me a water bottle. I drank chilled water in double swallows.
My lungs gradually opened and I could open my mouth without coughing, positive signs that I was on the road to recovery. A couple of smart aleck fans gave me an awkward cheer, something my acting career had never seen. I asked another crew member if they started filming the scene.
“I think they’re waiting on you.” he responded.
I coughed up spittle. “Always leave them wanting more.”
I returned inside the restaurant to my first mark, my eyes still watering from the coughing spell. De Niro passes by to report outside the restaurant. I must have became some hack to him. Be careful what you wish for. Although I resumed my fortunate mark in the film, I had become the actor who choked working with Robert De Niro.


May 06, 2010

The More Things Change

I can’t resist sounding like Andy Rooney here. The more things change, the more I can't stand the change.

In 1978, I bought a 19 inch RCA color TV from Sears and Roebuck. I told the prickly pushy salesman that I did not want a higher priced model powered by a easily lost gadget called a remote control. I liked my dial knob just fine and he wasn't suckering me into buying a lifetime of replacement batteries. Besides, a handheld remote seemed like an invitation to a sedentary lifestyle. I should have accepted the technological revolution clickety click but it took me another decade before I did. Who could have predicted that three hundred television channels would broadcast over a cable bandwidth? Now you can find this couch potato grumbling when I have to hit pause on my remote to get up to go to the bathroom.

Call me shortsighted but I never thought oxygen would cost money. I curse this greedy grubby world every time I pump air into a flat bike tire. Only the health care industry should bottle what we breath freely for profit.

When facsimile machines were invented, I wondered what was wrong with waiting for the mail to arrive. Who sped up the rotation of the earth to demand things instantaneously anyway? I blame some upscale impatient business executive who labeled regular mail, snail mail. Now decades after facsimile acceptance, licking stamps is on the endangered list and very few people look forward vistiting their mailbox. Everything needs a paper trail so just the fax please.

When bottled water hit store shelves, I wondered how many impulsive idiots would buy pretty labeled bottled containers whose contents poured freely on tap from faucet and fountain. It seemed ludicrous to think thirsty people would actually drive to the store to purchase a commodity that runs from their home spigots for pennies on the gallon. Now some eateries even refuse to serve tap water in an old fashioned glass with a lemon wedge. I cringe when I hear upsale pitches that their water only comes in a bottle. When I drink bottled water, it tastes no better than tap in most parts of the country. I have also concluded that tap water doesn’t make me feel stupid when I consume it the way a plastic bottle of water does. It’s not like we live in a third world country without indoor plumbing.

Now that I have exposed myself to the scrutiny of being called a blind visionary, I wish to go on record again for the Tornatore Time Capsule. Perhaps, I actually may predict one trend before it becomes a part of mainstream culture. While the next generation of automobile drivers may enjoy no emission electric cars, please be prepared to plug your glorified golf cart into merchant’s public outlets where they will charge you big money for a little electricity.
This is Andy Rooney, and you can take that to the bank.


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