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My Childhood

When I was twelve, I looked forward to Friday nights. I lived in Toronto’s Little Italy where our neighborhood featured markets, shops and cafés specializing in Italian goods and cuisine. Our neighborhood also had a theater featuring movies shipped directly from the old country. It was there my dad would take me every Friday night to enjoy some one on one time away from the family. I believe it is also there my fondness for films emerged.

Movie theater

Movie theater

For today’s Freedom Friday, allow me the liberty to tell you about this part of my life.

Before the age of ten, I grew up in some of the roughest neighborhoods in the city. The school I went to was once voted the worst school in all of Toronto by a group of concerned citizens. My family eventually moved out of there and took up residence in Little Italy. It was a great place to live, school nearby, lots of places to play, and I had plenty of friends.

My dad made it a habit to build traditions in our family as a means to bond us to certain times of the year. Saturday nights were big at our house. It was Hockey Night in Canada night and should there have been a game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens, God forbid, it would have been the most epic night of the week.

The other big night was Friday night. My favorite. My mom would make something quick for us to eat—typically a soup, a plate of sandwich meats and bread, or simply a bowl of pasta—so that we could leave as soon as we finished eating. The theater was down the street from us and it took about fifteen minutes to walk there.

My mom always made sure I brought a sweater; even if it was during the hot summer months. She always said it would get cold in the theater. She was right. I still remember that to this day where I sometimes bring a sweater with me to the theater—yes, even in the sweltering months of summer.

I loved the walk there with my dad. We talked about silly things a nosey kid like me liked talking about. A thing like where we would sit when we got there was a hot topic. I wanted to sit to the side and he wanted to sit in the middle. So imagine where we sat. Nowadays, I love the middle. It’s the best seat in the theater.

The Spaghetti Western

The Spaghetti Western

Once we arrived, we’d check the movie posters. If any of them were a spaghetti western, I’d be jumping on the spot with excitement. It wasn’t hard for him to figure out which one we’d see.

From there, the other events are a blur. I remember the popcorn he’d buy me, the seats we sat in and the waiting in anticipation. Sometimes the theater would have a cartoon showing before the movie, which made the evening even more exciting.

After the film, and having found our way outside, the fresh air that hit my face was incredible. I can never forget the sensation of walking back home with gunslingers on my mind. My dad always got a kick from seeing me excited talking about the best parts of the film. How can I forget such a memorable evening?

I suppose I should have given this article a title like, “My Dad,” or “Movie Night,” but in actuality, calling it anything else other than “My Childhood” wouldn’t have made sense to me. Although it’s a snippet in time, I think you get a good idea of what my early life was like reading this.

I was an ordinary kid with my whole life ahead of me. Isn’t that the way childhood should be?

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Do you have fond memories of your childhood you’d like to share?

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The Big Lebowski

Mistaken identity. Urination on a rug. Plot negligible. Hadn’t the title given it away, a fan would have certainly picked up on the cues. I’m talking about Jeff Bridges as Jeff Lebowski who references himself in the third person as The Dude. He has a problem with a soiled rug, bowls with fascinating people, and meets a richer version of himself.

Jeff Bridges as The Dude

Jeff Bridges as The Dude

Every so often, a movie comes out to blow away audience expectation of what a film should deliver. The Big Lebowski is a cult classic because of its ability to go beyond expectation. For today’s Wednesday Warriors, Jeff Lebowski takes center stage as The Dude who falls into a plot to pay a ransom for a kidnapped heiress.

Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, John Turturro, Julianne Moore, Tara Reid, Sam Elliott and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman make the cast to this offbeat film a treat to watch.

Before continuing, this 1998 Coen brothers movie possesses very little plot. Other than The Dude’s penchant for wanting compensation for a stained rug, and his cravings for White Russians, he doesn’t have a job, no prospects for employment and he carries on as a 1990’s hippie. But you know what? It works.

If I were to summarize the movie in a quick one-sentence review, I would say this: It’s about a bunch of guys talking about life and hanging out. If anyone’s attempting to find meaning in the film, there isn’t any. It’s simply about guys doing what they do best—being guys.

The Big Lebowski

Jeff Bridges, Steve Buscemi and John Goodman in The Big Lebowski

However, that isn’t to say I haven’t found meaning in the movie. To me, The Dude represents someone who has figured things out. He knows himself well and understands his limitations. He has a way of communicating that, although others may find annoying, given he’s too laidback for his own good, brings everyone he speaks to into his world.

As many times as The Dude finds himself bound, kidnapped, drugged and lost, he always maintains a strong presence in his relationships with his friends. He may lose his mind every now and then, but he knows who his friends are. He never loses sight of those people who matter to him.

I enjoy watching The Dude react to every changing situation, whether it’s from a terrible bowling score or a car wasted on a bad bet. In all of The Dude’s dealings, he keeps one thing in mind—he keeps it real.

Jeff (The Dude) Lebowski is Wednesday Warriors’ down-to-earth character spotlight.

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Have you seen The Big Lebowski? What do you think of Jeff Bridge’s interpretation of The Dude?

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Why Do We Fall?

One of the tracks from the film The Dark Knight Rises composed by Hans Zimmer goes by the title Why Do We Fall? Not only does the title serve as a great prompt for this week’s Monday Mayhem article, but also provides a perfect lead-in to promoting the film. If you haven’t seen The Dark Knight Rises, what are you waiting for? I recommend it without a quibble.

The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises

Getting back to the question, why do we fall? I’ve watched many zombie movies while asking the same question, always scratching my head wondering why none of the film characters listens to that still small voice in each of them that tells them not to do something they shouldn’t.

Reason #1: Stupidity/Ignorance

A good example is in the film 28 Days Later. The audience wants the zombie apocalypse to happen, yet they cringe whenever they see it happen due to human frailty. The audience repeats the telltale phrases: Leave the monkeys alone. Don’t touch the cages. Don’t open them; you don’t know what you’re doing. In spite of common sense screaming at the characters to do the right thing, and the audience tossing verbal insults at them as well, they ignore the obvious and do the worst.

Reason #2: Accidents/Fear

Another example happens in countless other zombie movies, especially the ones where viruses are the focus and scientists are working in a lab. One of the workers always shatters a vial tainted with an unknown disease, breaks protocol and infects others by not reporting it. The other side of the spectrum happens when all the lab’s fail-safes collapse and releases the pathogen into the atmosphere unintentionally producing another undead abomination.

Reason #3: Malice/Rebellion

The last example is my favorite because it has nothing to do with humanity’s ignorance or accident-prone traits. It is the defeat of the heart.

The Walking Dead is great when it comes to showing this. Throughout the series, we meet leaders of groups who think society would be better off following their direction. Only, their direction is—most often than not—twisted. They serve themselves and judge others as rebels who do not follow their lead. One so-called leader kept trophies of his victims’ heads in glass tanks to view at his leisure.

Conclusion

Why do we fall? Can it be we humans have a proclivity to annihilate each other regardless of our incredible potential? Or is it we’re so daft in not realizing whatever action we take has an equal and opposite reaction? Or is the human heart so cunning as to even fool us into believing what we do, no matter how well-intentioned, will always result in good things?

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Why do you think civilizations are prone to failing miserably?

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Experiencing the Moment

I love playing with my camera. My camera has served me well over the years. During the past eleven years, since the time I’d purchase my first digital camera, I’ve had the opportunity to photograph some of the most beautiful places I’ve had the privilege to visit. From Niagara Falls all the way to Nova Scotia, I have an archive full of memories I’d love to share with you this Freedom Friday.

To start—I’ve learned a lesson. The lesson I’ve learned is this: To enjoy what I’m doing while I’m doing it. What I mean by that has a lot more to do with experiencing the moment than it is to relive the moment. Photography has a way of capturing a photographer’s imagination to the point where the subject becomes just that—the subject. I had that happen to me where I did what I could to capture the subject that I’d forgotten to capture one thing. I’d forgotten to live the moment.

Nowadays, I’m careful to put my camera away and take a deep breath to look at what’s going on around me. It’s amazing what I see when I do that. Gone is the worry of thinking I’d miss a shot if I don’t have my camera readily available. Now I see an event for what it is—an experience. And because it’s an experience, I enjoy myself more knowing it’s there to capture not with the camera, but with my heart.

Pretty sentimental stuff, eh?

Okay, I have a whole lot of photos I want to share with you, so I think I’ll start with a few of my favorites from the East Coast. My wife’s family comes from Nova Scotia. Every time I’m there, I end up taking a gazillion photos of the area. One of my favorite places happens to be Citadel Hill in Halifax. The first time I’d visited there, the clouds hung low and gray, and my family and I were afraid of a thunderstorm catching us unaware. Luckily, subsequent years provided a different experience. Here, have a peek:

Path leading to Citadel Hill (Fort George), Halifax, Nova Scotia

Path leading to Citadel Hill (Fort George), Halifax, Nova Scotia

Soldiers march in Citadel Hill, Nova Scotia

Soldiers march in Citadel Hill, Nova Scotia

Rock beach somewhere in Nova Scotia

Rock beach somewhere in Nova Scotia

Fishing trawler near Dartmouth

Fishing trawler near Dartmouth

Marshes in Nova Scotia

Marshes in Nova Scotia

Next up, Niagara Falls. I love this place. It’s one of my favorite places on earth. Since it takes less than a couple of hours to get there from where we live, we end up going there quite often. You can read about some of our trips I’d written from past posts. Whenever we go to Niagara Falls it’s a mini vacation with lots to do and plenty of restaurants to visit during our stay.

Nightlife in Niagara Falls

Nightlife in Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls' Canadian Midway

Niagara Falls’ Canadian Midway

Attractions in Niagara

Attractions in Niagara

Maid of the Mist, Niagara Falls, Canada

Maid of the Mist, Niagara Falls, Canada

Niagara Falls, Canada

Niagara Falls, Canada

Lastly, here is a collection of some of my favorite photos I’ve had hanging around collecting dust (not really). Some are random shots I’d taken in the heat of the moment, and some I’ve planned. Try to guess which is which, ’cause honestly, I can’t remember.

My view on the train one day coming back from the city.

My view on the train one day coming back from the city.

On the set of the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Gatineau, Quebec.

On the set of the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Gatineau, Quebec.

First snow of the season.

First snow of the season.

Buried in snow.

Buried in snow.

My love for making sushi.

My love for making sushi.

A game of Mousetrap.

A game of Mousetrap.

The story of the stationary Canadian quarter. This actually happened.

The story of the stationary Canadian quarter. This actually happened.

I hope you enjoyed this little slideshow of memories. Granted, they are my memories, but it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy them, too. Nevertheless, they are but a glimpse into my life and why I think experiences are special to have and to hold as captured moments of time to relive forever.

[Author’s note: In celebration of spring, I’ve changed the header color to reflect the season. I hope you like it!]

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Do you like photography? Have you taken many pictures that remind you of the memories?

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Rocky Balboa

Rocky Balboa is one of the most recognizable movie characters in cinema history. Released in 1976, the movie Rocky pits Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers), the reigning boxing champ, with an unknown contender for a title shot at the World Heavyweight Championship of the World. The film also made a star out of Sylvester Stallone and propelled his career to new heights.

Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa

Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa

Today’s Wednesday Warriors series looks at Rocky Balboa, his trials, his successes and his life lessons.

If anyone were to describe Rocky, the first thing to pop out of anyone’s mouth would be, “Yo, Adrian.” But there is more to the character Rocky than the punchy delivery of lines and his often-slurred speech. Rocky is a symbol of perseverance. No matter how bad things get, he always seems to have that extra ounce of energy tucked away to use at the last moment when all things appear hopeless. It’s that will to never surrender that makes Rocky all the more imitable. His slight slowness does not deter him to see what’s in front of him. He knows the stakes to his battles. He knows the risk he takes every time he walks into that ring.

His record speaks for itself:

Apollo Creed—defeated.
Clubber Lang—defeated.
Ivan Drago—defeated.
Tommy Gunn—defeated.
Mason Dixon—defeated.

That list does not include the myriad of other contenders vying to overthrow him as the World Heavyweight champ, which he has also defeated.

Mickey (Burgess Meredith), his no-nonsense trainer believes in the clichéd school of hard knocks. To press Rocky for speed, he releases a chicken in an alley and tells Rocky to go fetch. Naturally, Rocky feels like a Kentucky Fried Idiot when he can’t catch it. Yet, he finds the time to laugh and carry on when he traps the quick-footed poultry in his grasp to raise it in the air in victory.

The other aspect in Rocky’s life is Adrian (Talia Shire). She’s the ugly duckling no one wants. He sees something in her no one else had seen. He sees her inner beauty. He sees her tender heart. And he see her strong and sensible mindset that keeps him anchored in reality. Their story is a familiar one. He visits her at the pet shop where she works, tells a few jokes and they go out for the first time skating. He walks her home. They become a couple.

Adrian is the only one who can give Rocky the reason to keep fighting. Without her, he’s nothing. She gives him the will to press harder than before. And with her help, he’s able to conquer his deepest fears.

Most of all, Rocky represents an unwavering belief in fighting for what’s right. In every fight, he sets his mind at winning. On the other hand, his opponent represents oppression. If anything, Rocky will do everything in his power to fight oppression. Have a look at Rocky IV. The film seeps in opposing countries working together to come to an amicable resolution.

Overall, Rocky may be the butt of jokes for reviewers, but he has proven no matter how powerful the competition, he manages to fight and win—even if the audience expects otherwise.

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Have you watched any of the Rocky movies? What do you think of the character?

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Why I Love Zombies

It’s spring break here in Canada, so I thought I’d give you a treat today. Rather than a laborious tome of sorts you have to work through, I’m going to give you something different to chew on (‘scuse the pun).

Toronto Zombie Walk 2014 [Photo credit: Igor Baranov, SolarWorksArt.com]

Toronto Zombie Walk 2014 [Photo credit: Igor Baranov, SolarWorksArt.com]

For today’s Monday Mayhem article, I’m going to scrawl a list of reasons why I think zombies are cool. A single list. No elaborate references. No major theories—although that would be cool, too.

Here we go:

  • There are fast zombies for some of us and there are slow zombies for some of us.
  • They’re Horror’s biological Terminators.
  • Once they see something they want, they never surrender pursuing it.
  • The genre is always changing.
  • A virus that can turn people into the undead is a pretty scary thing.
  • A shotgun is the weapon of choice for many zombie slayers.
  • Zombies make great crash test dummies.
  • Zombies can’t swim.
  • Zombies can’t fly either, unless you throw them off a cliff. But even then…
  • A Louisville Slugger, popcorn and a horde of zombies make for a fun evening staying in.
  • A lot of thought goes into pulling off a memorable zombie kill.
  • A narrow alley, a truck and a crowd of undead proves you don’t need a shotgun to kill them.
  • Sharks and zombies share many similarities.
  • Throwing a zombie from a plane still doesn’t prove they can fly.
  • Zombies vs. Skunks. I still say skunks would win.
  • They’ll keep pounding on the door no matter how many chairs you put in front of it.
  • They don’t take no for an answer.
  • Running up a tree doesn’t guarantee your safety. You’ll eventually have to come down.
  • If the undead is slow, you can outrun them in a field. Inside a building, you are dead.
  • A chain-linked fence provides a great deterrent against the undead.
  • A woman with a samurai sword rocks.
  • A woman with a shotgun rocks even harder.
  • A zombie bite does not make you a vampire.
  • Zombies never have to use a restroom.
  • They aren’t very smart even though they know how to open a door.
  • Much like wolves, the undead hunt in packs.
  • They have an acute sense of hearing.
  • Zombies don’t eat hamburger. Seriously, they don’t!

That’s all there is to it. These are the reasons I love zombies. Now it’s your turn.

[Thank you Igor Baranov for granting JackFlacco.com the use of your 2014 Toronto Zombie Walk photography for this article.]

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Why do you love zombies?

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Zombies and My Beliefs

My wife recently received an appointment as Children’s Ministry Coordinator for our church. Her enthusiasm for the scriptures has given her an opportunity to serve in a way she didn’t expect. She’s currently aiding with the program’s Sunday curriculum and presentations. I have to say, I’m extremely proud of all that she’s accomplished in the short time she has served in the kid’s ministry.

Writing about zombies

Writing about zombies

With that on my mind, I’ll make today’s Freedom Friday post a short one. I’d like to talk about my beliefs and how I reconcile the fact that I write about zombies.

Before I go on, let me get something out of the way first. I’m writing this post with the intention of not offending anyone. I’m sure I will, but I don’t mean to. I suppose, in the grand scheme of things, I shouldn’t say whatever’s on my mind. But because you’re my fans, I’d like to provide an added dimension to who I am–not only as a writer, but as a person.

Right. Moving along.

I get this question a lot. When I say a lot, I mean über-times. The question I receive is this: How can I write about zombies if I believe in a higher power? More specifically–how can I write about horror if I believe in God?

My answer is always the same. I write about sin. Rather, I write about the effects of sin in a godless society. This is where you as the reader either stop reading, or continue reading with the goal of trying to understand what I just said. I’m sure whatever you decide to do, I will know by the response I receive at the end of this post.

I write about zombies as a type of sin that has spread throughout society. Given sin is the breaking of God’s law, lawlessness left unchecked will produce a society where sin corrupts and kills the good. Similarly, zombies as typified sin, spread their corruption, in this case their undead state, to others by means of close contact. Without salvation, all of humanity will die. Hence, the only thing to redeem humanity from sin is the shedding of blood.

My definition of a zombie apocalypse is not about how gory the story can become, but about good versus evil. In other words, how far has sin progressed in the story that the hero–the savior–can appear and redeem the remaining few who have chosen not to allow sin to enter into their lives?

To me, zombies also represent people dead in sin. I’m talking about those folks who roam about shackled to a life of bitter slavery. They have no concept of an existence beyond themselves, and their idea of living is waking up every morning to continue a life better left unchallenged. Eventually, zombies will rot until there’s nothing left and sin will have prevailed over their souls.

Do you see now how I don’t feel guilty writing about zombies?

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If you’re a writer, do you allow your belief system to inspire you? If so, how far do you allow it to take you?

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Spock

Ever since I could remember, I’ve always loved watching Star Trek. With the recent death of Leonard Nimoy also came an unbearable urge within myself to binge watch old episodes of the series featuring Nimoy’s logical character Spock. I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself if I didn’t pay tribute to this great character for my Wednesday Warriors weekly series.

Leonard Nimoy as Spock

Leonard Nimoy as Spock

For me, no discussion of Spock would be complete without relating how the character Spock has affected my life. I would find it easy to rattle off every episode the Vulcan took center stage and prove his cerebral superiority, but then I’m sure you can find something similar somewhere else. In that sense, I’d like to try something different.

When I was a kid, the few things I could count on that I knew would always remain the same were eating Cap’n Crunch on a Saturday morning while watching cartoons, and never missing my favorite episode of Star Trek. For all you folks wondering which series I’m talking about, think ancient. Think Sixties. Think of the hippie movement.

In those days, we had a glorious 20-inch color TV standing on four legs and only twenty-eight channels to surf. Twenty of which, for a kid like me, were nothing more than a collection of news, sports and weather channels–much like how it is today eight shy of a thousand. So, if I found a series worth watching, I stuck with it. I’d hunt for it every chance I got and I would make it part of my life by becoming a true fan.

Star Trek was one of those shows.

Spock

Spock

The idea of a starship drifting through space, discovering new worlds and new civilizations fascinated me. Aside from setting aside racial barriers, the show included a character that was the epitome of logic and not at all human. Actually, that’s not true. Spock was half-human. Yet, throughout the years, the draw I felt to the character, in spite of the character’s desire to understand the human condition, never faded. Spock had a way of identifying human frailties, and for the same reason, delivering Vulcan solutions wrapped as logical building blocks to an efficient society. He knew the human compulsion for self-destruction more than any other human could learn of it in a lifetime.

In my opinion, Spock represents peace. For the time, Vietnam was in the news nightly and the audience needed a release from all the blood they’d seen on the screen. The crew of the Enterprise brought a sliver of hope everyone wanted as a way to overcome the daily media onslaught. Spock’s quick, dry wit made him a memorable character in every scene of the series. I enjoyed watching him walk the audience through a logic problem that had even stumped Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner). What seemed impossible to a mere mortal was an easy solution for a Vulcan. The added strength he portrayed as the all-knowing second-in-command made him a formidable foe for Klingons everywhere. Whenever they captured him, they could never figure out what to do with him. He defied their aggressive behavior with sound reasoning.

If Spock was real today, I wonder what he’d be doing. Would he be in politics? Or would he be working in the sciences? I’m still wrestling with that question.

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Do you have fond memories of Star Trek you would like to share?

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Zombies Are Like…

The last time I went to the zoo, I seem to remember the tour guide saying how lions, when they ate and had satiated their hunger, a person could literally pet the beast without worrying it would attack. Now, I wouldn’t be so foolish hanging out in a lion’s den, even if I knew they had just finished a course of three gazelles and an antelope, no matter what anyone would attempt to pay me. But the whole experience got me thinking. What makes a lion so different from a zombie?

A majestic lion

A majestic lion

I save these weird and wonderful questions for my Monday Mayhem series as a way to spur discussion, even when I sometimes feel I could do better by writing about the zombie genre’s cult status in cinema. But I digress.

So I thought today I’d write about the similarities between zombies and the animal kingdom by prefacing my thoughts with the phrase “zombies are like” and taking it from there. Who knows, I might actually surprise myself because I’m not sure where this is going to lead.

Zombies are like lions. A pride of lions can devour their prey whole, tearing at the innards until there’s nothing left of the body. Similarly, a horde of zombies can rip apart their victims without so much as waiting to digest what they have sitting in their decomposing stomachs. Lions also will not quit until they have their jaws firmly clamped on their prey’s throat. Not much different to zombies who always end up going for the jugular.

Zombies are like wolves. Wolves hunt in packs. Wolves will surround their prey until there’s no place to escape. Once they’re ready, they will attack without remorse. Zombies will do the same thing. It doesn’t matter if its a house, a barn or a tent. They will surround their victims, attack and not think anything of it. That is to say, if they could think at all.

Zombies are like sharks. At the slightest hint of blood in the waters, sharks will react. They will hunt their prey, wear it down, taunt it, then move in for the kill. Zombie ears and eyes will pick up the slightest vibration and change in scenery. The undead will hunt their victims, exhausting them run after run. They will not tire, and they will not wait. Eventually, the undead will always win.

Zombies are like ants. Okay, so this one is an insect. Haven’t you ever seen insects in a zoo? They swarm their victims in an attempt to overwhelm them and gain the advantage. One ant is insignificant. Many ants is a problem. One ant can’t do much damage, whether it’s during a foraging expedition or a fight. Many ants will cover their victims and consume them to the bone. I’m thinking of the skeletal remains of a yak in the middle of the Arizona desert. It wasn’t only vultures that had feasted on the body.

There you have a few of the animals I think are similar to zombies. They’re aplenty, and I’m sure you probably could think of many others. One thing though—have you thought about zombie similarities with bats? Okay, maybe I’m stretching it. I think I may have entered the vampire domain with this one.

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What animal do you think zombies resemble and why?

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Appliances

This is one of those nonsense Freedom Friday posts I’m writing without forethought as to where it will go. It’s about appliances. Specifically, it’s about my family’s usage of our appliances and the lessons I’ve learned. Take a chair, this might prove either beneficial or a real snorer.

Microwave

Microwave

First thing’s first, I’m not going to name any brand names in this piece because a) I don’t want any trouble from appliance manufacturers hunting me down or my firstborn in an effort to convince me to retract my statements, and b) I don’t want to make it seem as if I’m promoting a product because I think it’s the next best thing to lemon and avocado.

Having said that, I’ll ask the question that’s been on my mind for a while. Has anyone had as much luck with appliances as my family and I have? And when I’m asking this, mind you, I’m asking it with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek.

In the past ten years, my family has burned through three dishwashers, three food processors, two microwaves, a stove, a fridge, a water heater, a gas furnace, a couple of TVs and blenders, and a car—but that’s not really an appliance. I added it in anyway for completeness. The stove and fridge were lonely without a ride.

Dishwasher

Dishwasher

Let’s start with the dishwashers, since I figure it’s the one thing on the list that keeps us busy washing dishes after it says it’d completed its cycle. I’ll totally skip dishwasher #1 and simply go for the jugular—dishwasher #2. After a year, or you can read it as saying after the warranty ran out, it began making all sorts of churning noises. The noises were awful. They sounded like the machine had eaten a plate and swallowed it whole. By the end of its cycle, the dishes were clean and we thought nothing of it until a day later when my wife loaded the thing and pressed the Normal button. She waited. And waited. And waited. And waited. “Jaaack!” Came the call. I knew the tone. Something needed fixing. Well, the Normal setting didn’t work anymore. My solution? Press the Light button. That lasted for a year until I replaced the machine with one of those fancy-shmancy quiet models. Dishwasher #3. It was good for a while and it, too, then made that grinding noise. This time, I took the thing apart and found the machine had an actual grinder to grind food. Go figure. It broke. Well, if all it did was grind food, I didn’t think it important enough to buy a new model. I just removed the grinder. End of noise. But lately it’s been acting up, not wanting to wash dishes to washing them and leaving gunk on them. Gunk is my definition of crap that sticks to the plate and doesn’t let go. I’ll stop there.

Our food processors haven’t fared any better. One of them had a cup assembly we used to make smoothies. The teeth under the lid of the mixer had worn down and we now have a cabinet filled with useless plastic cups no one uses because the motor can’t latch on to the lid. Food processor #2’s motor burned out. Something about a leaky smoothy that short-circuited the electronics inside the motor’s casing—or something like that. Suffice it to say it’s DOA.

Then we had the water heater debacle that took place a few years ago. It was old, the water was sometimes brown and it took at least five minutes before any one of us could run a bath. Switching it for a new one was a grand process in and of itself. We replaced it, but it was the wrong model. They came back a week later and switched it with a newer one. Guess what. Yep, the wrong one again. Third time out, the heating company got it right. One thing though; a month later, the company not only billed us for the new unit, but they were so kind as to continue billing us for the old one as well. It took a few months of calls and haggling to get it right.

Our fridge is now leaking.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale now.

Do you have a story to tell about an appliance running afoul in the middle of the night?

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