Zombie Apocalypse: The Matrix

The Matrix broke all the rules. It was the most successful March debut ever to hit the screen at the time. It also introduced Bullet Time, where the audience walked out of the theater thinking anyone can dodge bullets. The premise of the franchise was clear, the machines create an alternate reality where humans can live while the machine harvest the humans for their own nefarious reasons.

The Matrix

The Matrix

Since I’m expecting everyone to be a holiday mood, for Monday Mayhem, let’s have a look at The Matrix and how the machines represent a form of zombie apocalypse.

If you haven’t seen any of The Matrix movies, I won’t spoil it for you. I’ll try to keep the examples as high level as I can. But I won’t lie. I can’t talk about it without describing a few points that may reveal certain parts of the plot. In that case, you may want to read on to the last paragraph for the summary.

The idea of the Matrix is that of a group of machines linked together to serve the purpose of self-preservation—preservation of themselves. The resource is human, rather, what humans possess to make them a resource. In the world of the Matrix, humans function as sacks of energy the Matrix readily consumes for keeping it alive. Without human beings, the Matrix would not exist.

How on earth would the Matrix typify a zombie apocalypse of all things? Much like the Matrix, a zombie apocalypse wouldn’t be a zombie apocalypse without one thing—human. The undead could not exist without humans a) to keep them alive and b) to keep reproducing themselves. In the movie, the Matrix maintains control of the human population in order to maximize its returns by executing a slow depletion of the species.

Red pill or blue pill. Which?

Red pill or blue pill. Which?

It sounds like science, doesn’t it? And I’ll have to agree with those who will quickly point out the Matrix is smarter than any zombie apocalypse. But the fact of the matter is, zombies, on a whole, are stupid as individual entities. Multiply them over by the hundreds, though, you have yourself a formidable enemy who will stop at nothing to achieve its goal—consume human.

Not much different from the Matrix, is it? Both vie for self-preservation. Both desire human as their resource. They even go so far as to act as a single entity when threatened.

A zombie apocalypse seems disorganized when one of the undead stands on their own. But the horde mentality—the hive—lives as a single unit when many stand together as one. The Matrix is a film that brings the zombie apocalypse to life. Instead of zombies, however, computers make the bulk of the hive.

Who’s to say today we’re not living in a world controlled by a Matrix making us all part of a typified zombie apocalypse?


Have you seen any of the The Matrix movies? What do you think of the analogy of The Matrix being a type of zombie apocalypse?


Holiday Decorations

Nutcrackers fill our house. I don’t know where this deep fascination with these inanimate objects came from, but all I know is that they’re everywhere. Nutcrackers guard our fireplace mantles, they stand at attention at the entrance of our doorways, and they even keep watch over the landing of our stairs to the second floor. They’re everywhere, I tell you.

Holiday Decorations

Holiday Decorations

Stuffed snowmen fill our house, too. They hang on our home’s front door in the form of a wreath. They sit as decoration on the landing into our basement. They even grace our little winter town display on the bay window. They’re everywhere, I tell you.

If you’re wondering what I’m talking about for this Freedom Friday article, wonder no more. It’s all about this season’s decorations.

Tinsel is a big feature in our home this winter. I don’t think anyone is safe going anywhere without encountering the red, silver and gold decoration. It travels along the railings of the staircases. It covers our furniture. And it’s in places I didn’t even think it would appear. But that’s another story.

More Holiday Decorations

More Holiday Decorations

And the lights? The seemingly endless strands of lights? There’s no end to them. I’m sure you’re going to ask where they lie. But I’m afraid to say. I’m afraid. Are you ready? They run along the staircase, they cover the fireplace mantles, and they rest on a small table in the foyer to light the way for us when we come back from visiting friends in the late evening hours. They cover the bay window, providing color to a cold winter night. They’re in the form of trinkets spread through the house, and they’re always ready to amuse after our evening meal when all we want to do is lie on the couch and relax. I’m sure they’re in other places. I just don’t know where. After the holidays, it’s like an Easter egg hunt. We wonder where we put them all only to find them in July wedged in a corner somewhere before a visit to the park or after a family BBQ.

But you know what? I like this time of year. Not so much for all the decorations, although they make the winter months seem warmer, but for the feeling I get when sitting by the fireplace with a hot drink in my hand. It’s calming. Relaxing. Soothing. Especially with the wind howling outside, the temperatures dropping to sub-zero, and snow filling our driveway. I don’t know, it’s just—just perfect. If only the feeling would last all year round.

Wouldn’t that be something?


Do you decorate for the season? What do you do to make the year end special?


John McClane

“When Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept for there were no more worlds to conquer.” ~Hans Gruber

Welcome to the first article in the new Wednesday Warriors series where testosterone doesn’t take a day off, and guys wearing their hearts on their sleeves is an anathema. At least in the beginning—I’ll eventually have to talk about American Beauty’s Lester Burnham, but for now, let’s start it off with a bang.

Bruce Willis as John McClane

Bruce Willis as John McClane

John McClane (Bruce Willis) is a practical cop. His no-nonsense approach comes in handy when he visits his wife (Bonnie Bedelia) during her new company’s Christmas party. He just came off the plane with a lump in his throat. He never did like flying. One of the other passengers gives him a coping mechanism: walk around barefoot while curling your toes. Advice that comes in useful later on, yet for now, he can’t even find his wife in the company registry. Not until he searches for her under her maiden name Holly Gennaro does he find her.

John McClane

John McClane

Once at the gathering, the real party starts. Walking around barefoot, enjoying terra firma in his room, a team of terrorists takes over the building and holds the partygoers hostage—including Holly. John makes a mad dash to the upper floors of the building where he’ll plan his response. He must be kidding himself. How could he possibly beat a well-armed squad of killers barefoot? Yes, he didn’t have enough time to put on his shoes when he had the genius idea of leaving the confines of safety.

Which brings us to the inevitable statement the Die Hard series created—John McClane is the wrong guy in the wrong place at the wrong time. Nothing prepared him for what was about to happen next.

Hans Gruber (Harry Potter Professor Severus Snape‘s Alan Rickman), the leader of the terrorist group, sends a hit squad to eliminate their thorn in their side, John McClane (Roy Rogers as John so eloquently introduces himself with the series catchphrase). You probably know what I’m talking about without my repeating the words, of course.

When the supposed terrorists catch up with John, he manages to handle the situation his way—by the end of the barrel of a gun. This prompts the terrorists, who survive John’s onslaught, to march from an elevator while Holly looks on:

Ginny: [Karl smashes a table of glasses in fury] God. That man looks really pissed.
Holly: He’s still alive.
Ginny: What?
Holly: Only John can drive somebody that crazy.

If only the terrorists knew who they were dealing with, they would quickly make a beeline for the exits. This does not happen.

The conclusion sees all of them dead as John McClane emerges soaked in their blood while Beethoven‘s Ode to Joy plays in the background and the building burns to the ground—as with all true 80’s movies.

On a personal note, I don’t think a Christmas has gone by without Die Hard or Die Hard 2 making an appearance during the holidays. They’re that good. And why not? With the protagonist transforming himself into a reluctant hero, what’s not to like? He is a teacher to those who don’t know what to do with a bad situation.

His solution? Make it work.

[Author’s note: In celebration of the new Wednesday Warriors series, I’ve changed the header color to reflect the cool winter season. What’d y’all think?]


What do you like about John McClane? Which Die Hard movie is your favorite?


The Book of Eli and Zombies

The Book of Eli is one of my favorite movies of all time. That’s saying a lot, considering I can name my favorite movies in a quick ten-second round. Given I’ve written about Solara, the female protagonist for one of my Women Who Wow Wednesday articles, I thought it appropriate for Monday Mayhem to write about the dystopian nightmare presented in the film. Even though the world of Eli is far from being the center of a total undead infestation, the scenarios the survivors face are the same.

Denzel Washington as Eli

Denzel Washington as Eli

Just how similar is The Book of Eli’s reality with that of a zombie apocalypse?

Not to give away anything from the plot of the film, the future according to The Book of Eli is that of doom and gloom. Gangs rule the earth searching for wealth—but not the wealth you and I might think as valuable. Huge swaths of land lack the basic ingredient to make it flourish into a viable ecosystem. The ingredient? Water. Whether it’s a small blade of grass or an ox, life needs water to survive. Without water, life ceases to exist. What are the chances water can become the new currency? In a zombie apocalypse, all the employees who worked at the dams and water treatment plants will have disappeared, swallowed by their fall into the vortex of the undead. With no one supervising the flow, malevolent humans could easily capture the resource and use it to control those under their supposed jurisdiction.

The Book of Eli

The Book of Eli

Next is the food chain. Survivors will need to eat things. If the film is any indication to what humanity has to look forward to, then there will be more to deal with than a mere food shortage. Lack of sustenance gives rise to the unthinkable. Cannibalism could become the norm. Not only will the survivors have to pay close attention to attacks from zombies aiming to make a meal of them, but they would also need to be mindful of attacks from within. Hunger will do strange things to a person’s mind. It will lead someone, who otherwise in a civilized society would be a model citizen, to commit the most heinous of crimes—to consume a fellow human for the purpose of self-preservation. How farfetched does that sound in light of the fact that we don’t know what humanity is capable of until that day when placed in those circumstances where everyone’s forced to choose?

Lastly, The Book of Eli suggests the barter system will work when all else fails. A pair of gloves, cat oil and a trinket from the past may buy a charge for an iPod. That is all a survivor may need to get them through another week of wandering through zombie-infested farmland in order to find a hospitable environment where they could call home. It won’t be easy. To deal in the barter system one will need to expropriate goods for the sole purpose of trade. Those goods will need to be high-demand items on everyone’s list. It’s unrealistic to assume those items would also not fall under heavy guard by those who’d want to keep them for themselves. And if zombies have anything to do with it, what’s to say survivors couldn’t use the bodies of the undead as trophies for their morbid trades?

Therefore, again I ask. Just how similar is The Book of Eli’s reality with that of a zombie apocalypse?


What do you think would make a zombie apocalypse less dangerous than a real end-time scenario?


Off the Grid

A few weeks ago I got my first smart phone. Yeah, I know. Jack, where have you been? I’ve been living under a rock, and I liked it there. Actually, that’s not true. I had a phone in 2000 when our family was going through a life-changing event and I needed to be available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. But after a year, once the need had subsided, I retired the phone for a good thirteen years and lived off the grid. Today, things have changed again, and I’m in need to be available. Not my choice, yet I’m now fully connected with an iPhone 6.

Off the Grid

Off the Grid

This is Freedom Friday, and these are my thoughts about—well, I’m not sure. Keep reading.

I’m still trying to adjust to my phone. That sounds weird. How about if I say it this way—I’m attempting to figure out how all the options work. Remember, in 2000, all we had was voicemail, caller id and the phone itself.

Today, there’re notifications, sounds, data plans, voicemail, a camera, GPS, and much, much more. I’m not overwhelmed since I’ve had an iPod touch since 2010, so I know how touch screens work and all, Skype, messages, and everything else. I mean, I’m not a total dunce. It’s just—well, it’s just trying to get used to the fact that I’m a phone call, message or email away.

I don’t know. Maybe I’m making a big deal out of nothing.

What’s on my mind is I’ve been so far off the grid for so long that getting connected in such a way has left me to appreciate the solitude of my walks through the woods. I can still do that, however, I now carry the world with me in my pocket knowing at any moment a call can come through that could change the entire course of the day. I suppose it’s something to get used to. Yet, am I the only one who feels this? Perhaps living off the grid for such a long time has left me appreciating what I had.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking. Leave the phone at home. Unfortunately, I can’t do that. It defeats the reason why I had to get one.

The positive part about it all is that the phone has left an incredible impression on me by way of all the options I have to communicate when I’m away from home. I can skype, message, facetime, email, tweet, comment on wordpress, and comment and like on facebook. In that sense, I’m happy to say I’m having fun in that way. Besides all those awesome and cool features, I can play a few rounds of my favorite games (i.e. Bubble Witch 2 Saga, Candy Crush Soda Saga, and Card Shark Solitaire). Yeah, call me a kid at heart. I’ve always been young in thought.

Anyway, tell me your story. What was it like when you got your first phone? Was it all you’d expected? Do you enjoy always being accessible?


Have you had to adjust to a new phone, too?


Kate McCallister

I have yet to meet someone who hasn’t seen Home Alone. That is no slight exaggeration. In its short twenty-four year history, the film has gone on to become a holiday favorite for many families, including ours. Once a year, we dim the lights, set the fire and curl up to the sights and sounds of “Kevin!”

Catherine O'Hara as Kate McCallister

Catherine O’Hara as Kate McCallister

Today’s Women Who Wow Wednesday is all about wide-eyed Kevin’s mom Kate McCallister—the parent who left her son home alone for the holidays.

It’s Christmas and the McCallister family has plans to vacation in France. The night before their trip, amid the chaos of the kids fighting, the ruined pizza and everyone ganging up on Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) for being a nuisance—read: kid with high IQ who no one appreciates—a wish passes through the nuisance’s lips and suddenly the next day the family disappears.

Among the family members who go missing is Kevin’s mom Kate McCallister (Catherine O’Hara) who finds herself on a plane with her husband and family heading to France. Nothing wrong with that, it was the plan after all, until she realizes she’s forgotten her eight-year-old son home alone.

The guilt tears her up so much that she wonders what kind of mother she is for having forgotten her son during a family trip. And like any good mother, when the family arrives in France, the first thing on her agenda is fulfilling her desire to get home to see her boy.

Macaulay Culkin as Kevin McCallister

Macaulay Culkin as Kevin McCallister

It sounds like an easy task, hop on a plane and she’s good to go. But it’s Christmas time and all the flights are bustling with folks with the same idea—get home for the Holidays. Determined to get back to her son, Kate presses for an early flight that would get her close to home, but not close enough.

When Kate arrives on U.S. soil, she hits another obstacle. She can’t get transportation anywhere. Rentals and flights are gone and her only hope is that someone would be gracious enough to help her get home to see her son. But not before she let’s go on one of the airport attendants venting her plight, reminding them of the common decency of the season. To no avail she gets nowhere.

It isn’t until a bandleader (John Candy) and his buddies offer Kate a ride that things start to make sense again for the exhausted mom. In the back of an old dingy van, she and a gang of old-time polka musicians jet cross-country through the winter Illinois landscape.

Once she arrives home and sees Kevin for the first time since abandoning him, she doesn’t know what to day. Well, actually, she does know what to say, but I’m not going to spoil it for you. You can watch it on your own and relive the excitement of Home Alone.

A mother’s love for a child is a wonderful thing, and Kate shows us what that love is all about.

[Stay tuned next week when the new feature Wednesday Warriors debuts here on JackFlacco.com.]


What do you like about Kate McCallister? What makes Home Alone so gratifying to watch year after year?


Why Don’t Zombies Eat Each Other?

Everyone has their ideas of why zombies do the things they do. Why do zombies eat brains? Why do zombies from forty years ago lurch while today’s undead sprint toward their victims? Do zombies ever have to go to the bathroom?

The human brain.

The human brain.

I’m dedicating today’s Monday Mayhem post to the ultimate question: Why don’t zombies eat each other?

To answer this question I’m going to speculate, hypothesize, and take a few wild guesses. I’m sure everyone has an opinion, but how scientific are unsubstantiated opinions? Does science have an answer? I’m totally going to throw a dart with the hope it sticks and makes sense. Let’s see how far I get.

This is my theory.

Whether folks are talking about zombies bred by a curse, a virus or a freakish experiment gone wrong, the undead know only one thing—to eat. I’ve mentioned this before in the context of sharks. If anything is true about zombies, they are like sharks that smell blood in the waters. They hunt until there’s nothing left of their prey. Similarly, the undead search for the living as a means of nourishment in order to satisfy a craving deep within their bodies. That craving dictates their actions to terrorize humans for their own personal fulfillment. No matter what they do, they can’t feel satiated by their latest conquest and have to kill again in an endless cycle.

Of course, the next question to come from the astute reader is why. Why do zombies search for humans to fill the void in their souls? With all the meat around them—although undead nonetheless—why go for human? Won’t eating their kind stem the hunger burning within their bowels?

Pituitary Gland.

Pituitary Gland.

The answer to that is no. The question references the same question posed throughout the decades: why do zombies eat brains? It’s the same answer as to why don’t zombies eat each other?

John A. Russo’s film The Return of the Living Dead popularized the idea of zombies eating brains. Brains? Yes. Zombies need endorphins to sooth the pain of decomposition. Since their own kind can’t provide the endorphins needed to quell the agony of a slow death, humans will fill that void.

Located at the base of the brain, the pituitary gland produces the endorphins zombies need to relieve the pain of their immanent demise. To get to the gland, the undead would have to capture a human, bash the skull and draw the prize by scoops. Zombies simply can’t fulfill this order from other zombies. For one thing, in death their pituitary glands no longer secrete endogenous morphine (a.k.a. endogenous opioid inhibitory neuropeptides) as the nervous system is dead. No nervous system, no endorphins.

What was that analogy I’d used earlier? Right, sharks smell the blood in the water of their victims. Can it be zombies also smell the endorphins from humans as they go about their daily lives trying to stay alive during a zombie apocalypse?

What do you think?


Why do you think zombies don’t each other? Is there a better theory?



In the next several weeks, you’ll notice a change here at JackFlacco.com. The change is an effort to capture my feelings about what I’ve been watching. For me, the thrill of starting something new has taken a life of its own. It will serve as the springboard for a new series. I’ll talk more about this later on.

It's that time.

It’s that time.

For now, today’s Freedom Friday is about change.

In the Oliver Stone movie Wall Street, Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) says, “Greed is good.” It’s an affirmation that I’m sure everyone has heard before.

I say change is good. Change allows for growth. Change keeps everyone thinking of better ways to get things done. Progress can only come from change.

Water needs to flow. It’s alive and vibrant when it moves from a stream to a river. It crests, splashes, and sprays as it enjoys the freedom of its movement. But when water remains standing—stagnant—an unpleasant smell occurs. Bacteria forms and makes the water undrinkable.

Similarly, in life, if there is no change, things become stagnant.

Greg photographs his food. (Photo credit: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic)

Greg photographs his food. (Photo credit: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic)

I try to balance the content of my articles as a means of maintaining an invigorating reading experience. When folks visit, I want them to say, “Hey, I never heard it put quite like that before!” That is the driving force to how I’d like my readership to react to the ideas I present on this site. It’s a tough balance, and that’s why you sometimes see photography and food articles for my Freedom Friday series. Changing it up makes for an enjoyable time—and who doesn’t like a good time?

Which brings me to my new blog feature—Wednesday Warriors. Since the protagonist to my Ranger Martin book series is a truck driver thrown in a fight he never wanted in the first place, and since I’ve been gorging on high-octane, white-knuckle action films, I figure I might as well make a feature of it.

Beginning December 17th, the first article for Wednesday Warriors will debut. It will feature fictional males in films and television who are either larger-than-life heroes or interesting anti-heroes with an agenda. Women Who Wow Wednesday may resurface, but for now, I’m looking forward to this new series and seeing where it will take us.

This is an exciting time here at JackFlacco.com, which I’m also hoping my readership will find just as exciting!


How do you feel about change? Is it something you readily accept?



When a stranger dressed in an elf suite shows up at a department store, everyone is convinced he’s there for the part-time Christmas job. But after he decorates the entire floor with custom-made decorations, Jovie (Zooey Deschanel) begins to believe there’s more to this odd character than one might think.

Zooey Deschanel is Jovie

Zooey Deschanel is Jovie

Women Who Wow Wednesday today celebrates the jovial Jovie from the movie Elf.

Will Ferrell stars as Buddy the title character to Elf. He can toss snowballs at lightening speed, create Christmas ornaments out of plain paper, and build a LEGO city from leftover boxes of toy bricks. He has a penchant for drinking an entire bottle of cola in one gulp, mixing chocolate syrup with all his meals, and drowning the rest of his food groups with a pound of sugar. And why not? He is, after all, a real Santa elf who is trying to find his real father (played by James Caan) in the big city.

Jovie on the other hand leads a simple life. She lives in a humble apartment, has a job at a department store as an elf—not a real elf like Buddy but playing the part of one—and is all decked out in elf regalia, including the awesome hat with the little fluffy ball at the end of it. Jovie is the least likely person to catch Buddy’s attention.

Yet, the first time he sees Jovie, Buddy can’t resist staring. The clichéd lightening bolt strikes him and her beauty dumbfounds him.

Zooey Deschanel as Jovie

Zooey Deschanel as Jovie

For other girls, what would pose as a cause for concern—Buddy’s childlike behavior—Jovie instead enjoys. She relishes his simple quest for fun, even if it means trapping themselves in a rotating door without knowing when the ride would stop.

But the budding romance doesn’t come without its price. In a strange sequence of events, Jovie finds herself singing in the department store shower before its opening with Buddy joining in on her private crooning.

An innocent mistake.

Regardless of what may have happened between them, Jovie shows what makes her who she is by her belief of which others have lost faith. While others scoff at the notion Santa exists, Jovie stands up in the crowd and declares her belief loud and clear:

“You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, I’m telling you why. Santa Claus is coming to town.”

With those words, Jovie saves Christmas and the world once again believes in the things that make children stay up at night to wish upon a star.

Jovie of Elf—a true believer of Christmas magic.


What did you think of the movie Elf? What do you think about Zooey Deschanel’s character Jovie?


Zombie Apocalypse: The Aftermath

I haven’t read many zombie books to know for certain, but I know my movies, and I would have to say I haven’t seen this issue explored—what would society be like after a zombie apocalypse? Zombie movies typically concentrate on the time when the undead take over the world. But, what of the aftermath? Society would need rebuilding.

Attribution: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-J31347 / CC-BY-SA (This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Germany license.)

Attribution: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-J31347 / CC-BY-SA (This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Germany license.)

Today’s Monday Mayhem will explore what would society need to do to rise from the ashes of a zombie apocalypse. Of course this is all speculation, and for the most part, for entertainment value. However, I will assume some truth lies therein, and I’m rather opposed to revealing what that truth is. I’m sure you’ll figure it out—eventually.

First thing on the agenda? What to do with all the bodies of the undead once a cure for the zombie virus hits the streets? I will presume a zombie virus antidote will render the survivors immune to the virus and kill everything else undead. Even more so, let’s take that assumption to include zombie traps that would disperse the antidote to the undead masses like a net and relieve them of their zombiehood. So, again I ask. What will happen with all the dead zombie bodies?

Gas stations would need gas. If there is gas in gas stations then tractors can have gas in order for survivors to use the tractors to dig ditches. The survivors can then use the ditches to bury the dead bodies.

The other solution is to burn the dead bodies and bulldoze the ashes into the fields where former farmers could fertilize their crops. Morbid? Yes, but it’s a positive solution for a negative event.

Next, as it happened after World War II, a baby boom will take place. Those left will have nothing else to do but to procreate the next generation of survivors with the hope that generation will build a society void of the threat from the undead.

With all the children born, a number of things will need to happen if society wishes to survive another generation. Not necessarily in this order: The survivors will need a leader to instruct them in the way of civility. Laws will have to come into effect to address quarrels among families, individuals and other areas of the land. With growth also comes farming, education and healthcare. Who will do what? will be the big question on everyone’s lips.

Lastly, as with all great emerging societies, comes the sanitation question: What to do with all the human waste once society gets into a rhythm of birth, growth and death?

So you see, even though we may have won the war against the zombies, we’ll still have to win the bigger war—the war of rebuilding after the undead are no longer a threat.

To me, that is the greatest challenge of them all.


What do you think the world would need to do to rebuild from the ashes of a zombie apocalypse?


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