Posted in Freedom Friday, Other Things

My Playlists II

Over a year ago, I wrote a post called My Playlists that went on to describe my affinity for obsession with music playlists. After rereading the post, I thought I could add more to it in terms of what other kinds of playlists I have, and the reasons I created them. Since it’s for my Freedom Friday series, I might as well have some fun along the way.

Musical notes
Musical notes

In my original post, I talked about mixtapes and what made them so special back in the day when cassette tapes ruled media. A perfectly designed mixtape is a form of expression that captures the essence of a feeling or of a moment in time. Nowadays, the mixtape is a playlist on a music player tailored with songs that have a connection with each other. In other words, a playlist brings together songs that mean something to someone when played together in a certain order.

For instance, I have a playlist dedicated to my college years. These are songs I was listening to while in college that if I played them today would spark those memories of my trips in and out of class, the school library and study hall. I also have a playlist called High School that I love playing whenever I want to remember the times when I sat on the football field with my friends, looking at the sky while dreaming of who we wanted to be someday.

Recently, I’ve added a slew of new playlists to my collection that I could only describe as representing a feeling:

Lounge—A series of smooth jazz songs that transport me to a lounge at the top of a luxury hotel, minutes before midnight while I take in the sight of the city lights below. Yeah, pretty specific, huh?
Autumn—Songs that have a nostalgic, melancholy vibe that remind me of the reflection I go through when fall arrives. Whenever I find myself in this playlist, I’m instantly walking through the leaves as the rain pours.
Winter—I came up with this playlist as a way to enjoy the solitude of the season. Those cold winter days when the wind is blowing and no one’s around makes for a peaceful time. These songs bring those moments together in a way that enhances the frost of the season.
Love—Ah, yes. It’s all about love. My choice of songs vary, but the theme remains the same. On this playlist I’ve added songs for the tender heart.
Sports—Unlike the name of the playlist, the songs evoke inspiration. It’s the one playlist I can go to for a “You can do it!” jolt of adrenaline to spike my productivity.
Summer—Fun tunes featuring Beach Boys and anything with the word summer in its title. I’m playing this now as I write. They’re the songs that epitomize youth, fun in the sun, and explode with energy.
Power—This playlist features tunes with only one thing as its purpose—to blow away anything in its path. I mixed soundtrack songs from various superhero, car and summer blockbuster flicks in one neat little package that would evoke a big sense of adventure. I came up with this playlist as a way to kick me into action. A couple of these songs is all I need to press me to running with the bulls.

Anyway, I love my playlists. I really do. Whenever I need to focus on a certain period in my life or take an emotional journey, my music has been there for me, saving the day and pulling me to keep creating.

What about you? Do you have playlists that inspire you?


Do you create playlists? If so, what kind of playlists are they?

Posted in Wednesday Warriors

Chief Martin Brody

Before Jaws, there were no summer blockbusters. In 1975, all that changed with the film of a great white shark terrorizing tourists off the coast of Amity Island.

Roy Scheider as Chief Martin Brody
Roy Scheider as Chief Martin Brody

Today’s Wednesday Warriors is all about protecting the townsfolk from the dreaded watery beast. Martin Brody (Roy Scheider), the new chief of police is that protector.

Having recently moved from the city, Chief Brody wakes up in a town filled with people who want to make the beach their home until Labor Day. First day at work and everything seems to be going fine until Brody finds himself investigating the mysterious death of a girl whose body lies in tatters by the shore.

His first instinct is to pay a visit to the town’s general store to purchase art supplies for making signs to close the beach. But once the mayor (Murray Hamilton) hears of the news that the chief wants to shut the town’s life supply of tourist dollars, Brody gets an earful from the political echelon. Forcing the beach to remain open, he takes steps to prevent anything from happening again. He had already determined the girl died of a shark attack and he didn’t want any of that happening again. Not on Brody’s watch.

Joining Chief Brody on his quest to rid the coast of the great white is Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) from the Oceanographic Institute. Unlike those working with him, Hooper’s reluctance to participate in a lynch mob against the shark sets him apart to tell the chief they are dealing with a very large shark.

Jaws Movie Poster
Jaws Movie Poster

The story turns sinister when everybody, including Amity’s bar hopping crowd, wants to get in on the killing. They want the shark to pay for the death that it caused, regardless if their use of dynamite could kill anyone caught near the blast.

As for Brody, he’s stuck in the middle attempting to appease the general public that he’s doing everything he can to catch the monstrous horror brutalizing the town’s tourist season, and wresting control from an ignorant mayor who prefers to see progress rather than closure for the town.

When a little boy disappears in the water however, the chief has no one else to blame but himself. Despite the protests of the mayor and the town’s commercial sector, he closes the beach until further notice. He won’t be taking any more chances.

From there, he develops a friendship with Quint (Robert Shaw), the town’s voice of reason. Although Quint might not be the type of character Brody would normally associate with, Brody gains the courage to go out in the waters to hunt and kill the great white with Quint’s help.

And here is Brody’s greatest character trait. Frightened of the water, he doesn’t balk at the fact that he needs to face his problem. He embarks on Quint’s boat and takes it upon himself to forget his fears in order to fight the very thing that is causing Amity’s trials.

When Brody comes to realize his fear of the water is nothing in comparison to seeing the great white in person, he utters one of the most famous lines in the movie:

“We’re going to need a bigger boat.”


Have you seen Jaws? What did you enjoy most about the film?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Cottage Zombies

Given it’s a holiday where I live, and most townsfolk around these parts have gone away for the weekend, I thought for today’s Monday Mayhem feature I’d talk about zombies in cottage country. As weird as the subject sounds, I would find it interesting should the zombie apocalypse occur on a long weekend in an isolated area. Let me explain what I mean.

Boat on the lake
Boat on the lake

What if you’re sitting in a boat in the middle of a lake fishing to your heart’s content while you hear awful noises coming from the woods? Would you row the boat to investigate or would you simply sit there hoping no one or anything notices you? The idea that the zombie apocalypse could occur in a rural area is remote—no pun intended. In a city, if there is an infection of undead proportions, not everyone would have a chance to make it out alive. The infection would spread from person to person, and those caught by the the roaming hordes will become part of the crowd.

However, in rural areas, there is a slim possibility that whatever happens in the city will also happen on the farms. The likelihood of that happening is slim, since people would be further away from each other in order for anyone to infect others.

What about cottage country? Wouldn’t the zombies have the time of their lives hunting humans, since the environment would be quieter than the city and anyone making any noise would alert the chewers to their location? What if it were a long weekend?

Running through the woods
Running through the woods

To me, if such a scenario does take place, I can only relate the incident to one thing—those caught on the beach on Amity Island in the film Jaws. In the film, the small island becomes a feeding ground to a great white shark. The town is small and it relies on summer dollars from tourists to keep the economy afloat. Similarly, many of cottage towns in our vicinity thrive on summer dollars to stay in business, therefore, there is a heavy push for towns to bring in city-folk into the region.

Again, I ask, would it be possible a zombie apocalypse could occur in cottage country?

My answer is a resounding yes. An ordinary cottage town of a thousand people mushrooms in the summer to ten to fifteen thousand. If one should have the zombie infection, the whole region could come under scrutiny. Furthermore, since many of these cottage towns border on a lake, most if not all the people will be on the beach enjoying the sun while the rampage occurs.

Ah, yes. But someone may ask, how could it affect other towns?

Remember that guy in the boat? Do you think he has a chance of getting out if he knows the whole town has turned zombie? Would he row to another area of the lake as a means to escape? He could. It is possible. Unfortunately, it isn’t probable. He has one of two decisions to act upon. Either a) he stays in the boat hoping he has enough provisions to outlast the apocalypse, which I doubt, or b) he could land his dingy ashore, take a chance and run through the woods for an escape.

Either way, he won’t make it.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend, folks!


Do you think a zombie apocalypse could take place in the rural backwoods of cottage country? What do you think would be the best way to prevent such an event from occurring?

Posted in Freedom Friday

The Habit

Summer’s the perfect time for relaxation. It doesn’t matter if it’s outside in the park or the backyard. There’s always something to learn when easing into a lawn chair and allowing the mind to drift into a different direction.

Trees in our neighborhood
Trees in our neighborhood

I’m writing this Freedom Friday post with the sun in my eyes and the wind in my hair. Once you finish reading it, you’ll know what I mean.

The other day, my wife took me to our backyard and showed me something I hadn’t noticed before. I thought I’d seen everything in my life, but she once again astounded me. A tree, of no certain type, was growing underneath our deck to sprout its leaves through one of the cracks in the floorboards. Like I said, I’d never seen anything like this before and since then it has given me time to pause and reflect.

For a tree to grow under our deck like that, it had to have a seed. Our backyard has a generous helping of vegetation to have produced such a seed. We live in farm country where the woods are mature and the forests are alive. I’ve always been thankful not to live in a neighborhood where everything is flat and brown. The trees abutting our fences soar between sixty to seventy feet into the sky. The tree in the front of our house also towers to a grand sixty-plus feet. Again, I’m thankful I don’t have to look at a scrawny twig when I wake up in the mornings.

Anyway, back to what I was talking about—the seed. That seed had to fly through the air, in between the floorboards and sink below the soil to germinate. Given that under the deck is cool and dark, the seed also needed sunlight, which I might add, could only come from the crack from whence it came. Let’s not forget, it also needed water to nourish it. Again, I’m assuming the crack provided that nourishment.

Tree in our backyard
Tree in our backyard

So, you see, the odds of that seed ever making it as a tree were so against it. Yet, it grew!

Of course, me being the guy who owns the deck, had a problem on my hands. How do I get rid of it? I mean, I appreciated knowing of its resilience, but I just couldn’t have the thing grow and splitting apart my nice deck.

First, I tore apart the lattice under the deck to find the roots. This involved removing nails and producing a whole lotta sweat on a hot summer day. Second, once I found its roots, I had to chip away at it, since it had embedded itself against the foundation post and grew into a knotted mess. Last, when it proved too time consuming to pull at it with ordinary tools, I had to whip out my chainsaw.

You knew this was coming, right? Zombie writer. Tree. Chainsaw. C’mon, you didn’t think I’d pass up an opportunity to use my favorite weapon—I mean tool. To make a long story short, the tree’s gone, left in a yard waste bag by the side of the road.

But there is a moral to this story. I hope you can sit through a minute or so of philosophy.

Just like the seed of a tree, a good habit can grow to become a majestic wonder. It can sprout from within, take root and dominate a person’s life leading to create beautiful music, build a strong home or anything as routine as slipping on a pair of socks. A bad habit can lead to destructive friendships, poor judgment and all sorts of nasty ticks. Whatever the habit is, good or bad, it all starts with a seed.

In the case of the tree under my deck, looking at it from the surface, the tree seemed to be a perfect example of beating all odds to reach the sunlight. Had I left it growing, it would have destroyed the deck. In other words, what sometimes seems too good to be true may be just that. I know I’m speaking in riddles, but this message is for those who have ears. The other part of the equation is the seed grew out of the darkness, which we don’t notice until it’s too late. By that time, it would have already made a mess of things before its branches saw the light of day. Remember, I ultimately had to use a chainsaw to destroy its roots.

To make it even more confusing as to what I’m saying, if the roots set deep enough, habits tend to be hard to break. It’s better replacing a bad habit with a good one than to try to fight it alone.

Okay, enough of the deep talk. Let’s go back out there and enjoy summer!


What do you think? Is this subject too deep for summer?

Posted in Food Favorites, Freedom Friday


Summer’s almost over. I know, I know. Where are the fanfares to send the kids back to school? All joking aside though, what I’ll miss the most from the hottest season of the year are the salads. Some may say BBQ, which is cool and all, but for me, a fresh salad with assorted ingredients makes my summer. I’m going to give you a few quick tips about salad preparation for Freedom Friday, and I hope your next experience with the delectable greenery is a delicious one!

Our feta, onions, cucumber salad, Apr. 2013.
Our feta, onions, cucumber salad, Apr. 2013.

Living in one of the most agriculturally diverse provinces in Canada, Ontario, our backyard has gone through various transformations throughout the years. When I say our backyard, I mean Casa Flacco’s backyard, as in, behind-our-house backyard. This year, we have made the most ambitious attempt at farming yet. In past years, we’ve had a small strip of land by the side of a fence dedicated to vegetables and salads. This year we’ve increased the size of the original and added two more sections, each section separated by green space.

I don’t know what it is with our backyard. Somehow, whatever we plant turns into these gianormous jungles we attempt to tame but bless us with a bounty of crops we never had intentions of growing.

At the beginning of the season, my wife asks, “What do you think we should grow this year?”

I typically answer, while flipping the channels, “I don’t know. Tomatoes would be good. Cucumbers. Salads. We have to have salads. Definitely have to have salads.”

That’s how it starts. Next thing you know, near the middle of the season, our salads look like leaves from the Cretaceous Period. Our tomatoes look like pumpkins that need trucks to transport. And our zucchinis like, well, I’m not sure. Take a look at the photo.

Zucchini plant in our garden, Aug. 2009.
Zucchini plant in our garden, Aug. 2009.
Zucchini from our garden, Aug. 2009.
Zucchini from our garden, Aug. 2009.
Tomato from our garden, Sep. 2008.
Tomato from our garden, Sep. 2008.

Seriously, sometimes I feel as if our yard has radioactive soil. If you ever hear reports of a man climbing buildings in Toronto and spinning webs, you’ll know what happened to me. Anyway, talk about getting caught up in the moment, let’s get back to the point of this post—salads.

We grow radicchio and the regular garden-variety salad. The radicchio is my favorite because it’s easy to prepare and mouth-watering on its own.

Here’s what we do:

  • Cut the leaves from the garden, plopping them in a pot or bowl, dirt, grime, slugs and all—yes, slugs
  • Take it into the house, wash the leaves thoroughly, getting rid of the slugs—you didn’t think we’d eat those things, did you?
  • Add some olive oil and salt
  • Munchtime!

Radicchio is a naturally bitter salad. The salt accentuates the flavor along with the olive oil. Fresh from the garden is something special to savor in the summer. Can’t be beat.

Now, as for the long-leaf salad, which is oh, so sweet and crunchy to the taste buds, the washing prep is pretty much the same as the radicchio. So, I’ll just give you the recipe we have year-round.


  • A generous amount of crumpled feta cheese
  • Half a sweet white onion chopped
  • 1 peeled and sliced cucumber
  • Olive oil
  • Salt


  • Make sure you wash and dry the leaves properly. Invest in a good salad strainer; it makes life so much easier. Besides, leaves will not come out all soggy. You want them to crunch.
  • Add in your ingredients except the feta and olive oil.
  • Before serving, add your olive oil, toss the salad, then add your feta on top otherwise the feta becomes mushy and disappears in the salad as a nice white coat over the leaves.

And there you have it. Casa Flacco’s two salad recipes I’m sure you’ll enjoy trying before the summer’s over.

Buon appetito!


Do you have any salad recipes you’d like sharing? How about ingredients? What do you like putting in your salads?