Freudian Slips: October 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.

October 25, 2010

Impersonating A Rapist

The presence of slow rolling police cars cruising up and down the block did not deter me from committing the violent crime. My homie and I had a dirty job to do down a dark alley.
Playing a rapist in an independent short film called Minikin Capital Nights, the scariest part about this role may be that I fell into the seedy character of Paul quite easily. This successful crossover to the dark side bothered my psyche. As the high definition film captured a dimly lit street corner, I blocked a woman's egress along the sidewalk. I began harrassing her. I was surprised by the vulgarity of my words, my crotchety obscene gestures and the hateful tone in my voice. Then there was the prejudice the scene carried against an Asian race that had done me no harm in my lifetime. After a realistic take, I snapped out of character and ushered apology to the beautiful lead actress who I had just wronged on camera.
After four years of acting, this speaking part produced my personal favorite lines that I said in a movie, words that originated from my improvisation. Before my sidekick and I perpetrated a rape down a dark alley, I barked a derogative scenario to my intended victim, “How about two servings of white on rice?”
Cut. The director complimented me on my powerfully explicit ad lib then embraced it enough to write it into the script. I’m getting scared I thought to myself. I wanted to go home now. I became wary of the very character I played. I was Paul and appauled. This was definitely not me but then again that was the point.


October 17, 2010

Wedding Crashers Movie Making

I suppose you could call it the cycle of life. A proposition at a funeral turned into my earning business for a wedding. I contracted with a proud father to produce a movie short about his engaged to be married daughter. While the movie would be a priceless wedding gift, it would also be showcased for invited guests at the silver spoon reception.
The truck that pulled up in my driveway this past June speaks to the scale of this project that started from scratch. The father unloaded tote containers, cardboard boxes and shopping bags from his truck. The thought about his trust turning over precious memories overwhelmed my sense of responsibility. My library quickly filled with someone else’s possessions. Dismantled pictures literally taken from mantels, collages lowered from walls, thousands of loose and binded photographs, scrapbooks boasting report cards, newspaper clippings, artwork, writing samples…now all lined up next to my scanner for me to individually scan.
The shoeboxes of videotapes seemed the logical starting point. I had to become intimately familiar with the contents of each home movie on VHS tape. I had to overcome the awkward feeling that I was invading privacy. While our brains register a history stamp with people we know, watching a girl grow up before me who I never met played tricks on my mind. After remote viewing twenty-five years of a stranger's life, the VHS tapes had to be converted to DVD then uploaded to movie making software on my computer…where the real work began.
Other than interviewing the father in depth, the movie was a Rosetta Stone. The daughter did supply a preferred song list for the soundtrack but this project would be done without meeting the bride or the groom. I sat in a dark room taking notes on a clipboard trying to get a game plan of how to cover the life of a bride not at the exclusion of the groom. The challenge, the adventure, laid before me…Could my editing skills stream pictures and video together of lives who I had not met? Could I mold and tell a compelling visual story from this media?
I now know the answer to those questions but it took me four months of production work at my desktop computer to make a short called Big Days. At an upcoming wedding reception at The Mansions in Voorhees, NJ, my thirty-minute movie will premier on a big screen television. In retrospect, it was both a labor of love and a business deal. If I were ever to become a wedding crasher, this would be the event. I would bring plenty of tissues and business cards. I still get emotional when I watch it. The first movie I sold outright is a real tearjerker.


October 11, 2010

Out of My Gourd...Smashing Pumpkins

A total of seven handpicked actors and models gathered on hallowed ground along the Delaware/Maryland border at a ground zero site called The Chunk for an unusual photo shoot. Hired by the Discovery Channel to work as a model for a print ad campaign, this was unlike any entertainment gig I had done before.
The models were a crosssection stereotype of rare breeds who gather every year the weekend after Halloween to hurl…pumpkins. Hurlers launch pumpkins from contraptions like slingshots, catapults, and cannons not just for shits and giggles but for notoriety in the form of trophies and charted world records. Last year, seventy five thousand spectators attended these outrageous pumpkin shooting world championships. From the little taste of pumpkin that I got, hurlers seem to be a mixed bag of diehard competitors, nuts and bolts engineers and pseudo athlete.
I entered the scene to promote the benchmark silver anniversary of the celebrated event. Television crews will be filming the live event called Punkin Chunkin then slicing it up to be aired on television. While everyone’s pumpkin pie is trying to digest Thanksgiving night, pumpkin hurling can be seen at 9pm on the Science Channel. For anyone who thinks Smashing Pumpkins is just an alternative rock band or something to do on Mischief Night, think again. Since Punkin Chunkin scored the Science Channel’s highest rated episode in 2009, they have seeded a plan to promote the pumpkin gut out of this year’s event. Thanks to the laws of gravity, it’s guaranteed to be a smashing success.
After surviving this shoot, I have utmost respect for any model showing wares from runway to pumpkin patch. The wardrobe department changed and propped the models out to the fabric maximum with accessories like horned pumpkin helmets, hardhats, sledgehammer, binoculars, rebel flags and those giant foam fingers you hate to sit behind at sporting events. We are wearing fling not bling. We posed for hundreds of individual and group photos…flashbulb popping pictures with your body positioned in awkward poses while holding props and manufactured faces that had to seem as natural as a second skin.
As compressed air from a decorated cannon launches pumpkins across the grey sky behind my frozen pose on hay bales, the deafening wind wooshes serve as an uncanny backdrop to the photo shoot. Invisible to the naked eye, participants follow the pumpkin’s trajectory with field binoculars across a beaten field that appears to be setup more like a medieval battlefield. Not a closed set in the least, the practitioners hooting and hollering sounds genuinely contagious. Crew members strategically throw smoke bombs behind me to create ethereal photos. A famous pumpkin hurler named Fat Jimmy is next to me scratching his ZZ top beard like a caricature of himself. Huge flashbulbs pop again in my ears and eyes. When I blink, my mind’s eye catches a glimpse of the action like an out of body experience. I think to myself that I must be out of my gourd even though I am right where I want to be…in the thicket of things.
The rumors on the set place this campaign ad on roadside billboards and in magazines such as Rolling Stone and ESPN. I temper my premature excitement on the set. To not get a big head, I may have to keep it stuffed inside a pumpkin helmet right through the Thanksgiving holiday.


October 04, 2010

Donovan McNabb Tug of War

97.5 The Fanatic Radio station has produced a You Tube video featuring the Donovan McNabb Tug of War event that I participated in.. I am the front man on the losing side wearing the white du-rag. I am indubiously shown as the first person to drink minestrone soup in this public spectacle. Let me tell you, the soup tasted full-bodied.
There is a wild rumor stirring that the Anti-Mcnabb team placed a ringer, a gym rat powerlifter, inside the Swoop mascot suit to ensure victory. No regrets, here because I own a gym membership myself. After the painful loss, checkout my huge bellyflop(second one to flop after the event was decided.


October 01, 2010

The Beaten Path to a Soup Bowl

Joseph Tornatore showering following his appearance on the radio.

My life rarely follows the beaten path. Barely towel dried from my freefall into a pool of green paint in the new Philadelphia Eagles 25/8 commercial, today’s path turned bath wrinkled with a number five. Things I would never expect to find on myself while showering formerly include tempura paint but now I have to add vegetables to the mix. Following a dark recess discovery, I never thought I would ask myself in the shower, “I didn’t know minestrone soup contained lima beans?”
Let me explain. Producers from 97.5 FM and 950AM radio contacted me to participate in a publicity stunt to promote this weekend’s anticipated divisional showdown between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Washington Redskins. For my non-sports fan readers, this nationally televised game features the return of former Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb. The Eagles traded McNabb away after a string of hugely successful regular seasons paired with numerous “always the bridesmaid” painful playoff losses.
A polarizing figure in Philadelphia sports, the publicity stunt involved a tug of war matchup between a team of pro Donovan McNabb supporters and a team of his haters. The losers of the tug of war got dragged into an unforgiving pool of Chunky minestrone soup. It was a heated decision ultimately picking sides but I chose to be a McNabb supporter. While a cogent sports argument might have persuaded me into changing sides, a great debater could never stir my interest into liking McNabb’s longtime familiar sponsor, Chunky soup.
The tug of war broadcasted live on the radio for those deaf of ear who did not hear my name announced. ABC TV covered the event for their 11'0'clock news broadcast. Fox TV film crews were also on hand filming the event as a lead in to their telecast of the game itself. The tug of war proved to be a titan stalemate for gulp....only the first thirty seconds. As my team’s front man, the taught rope often lifted my heels off the ground. I quickly lost footing for our team when I pulled a nerdy calf muscle in my left leg. Momentum swung and the rope continued to pull me forward. Analogous to a McNabb season ending post game interview, I was walking a tight rope. A glacier of a man the size of an NFL lineman, our anchorman slipped causing the rope to become real short next to the pool of soup. My muscles burned with pain and my body contorted trying to avoid the pool. It felt like former running back Ricky Williams was a ringer pulling on the other side. Not even Donovan’s protective parents could save me from the drink now. Testing the waters seemed to be my destiny.
I fell headfirst into a three foot deep pool of minestrone soup. As I came up out of the soup, the raucous crowd went stir crazy. I estimated that I had swallowed enough soup to rob a Philadelphia homeless person of their next meal. There was no soup kitchen to send this soup back to and its smelly ingredients clung to my clothes. After the winning team celebrated their feat of strength fueled by turncoat quarterback animosity, I ran down the tarmac of padding and did a picturesque belly flop for the rolling cameras. I came up out of the drink spitting out cold soup. Despite my support for arguably the best quarterback in Eagles franchise history, in the end I came up short. The beaten path felt all too familiar. My dream of winning a Super Bowl as a superfan had become a lousy soup bowl. Donovan McNabb had left a bad taste in my mouth yet again.


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