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The Shed

The other weekend I was tearing down the shed in our backyard and realized along with the sweat, sore muscles and tender hands gained, I was also learning a few lessons along the way. As part of my Freedom Friday series, this is what I’ve learned.

The Shed

The Shed

Tearing down a shed sounds like an easy task to accomplish. The instructions couldn’t be simpler:

1) Take hammer
2) Pull hammer back
3) Apply great force to hammer
4) Hit surface of shed where applicable
5) Repeat 1-5 until shed fully broken into pieces.

Simple. Right? Not so much.

First, the shed’s composition consisted entirely of wood, reinforced with four-inch planks, fastened together by two-inch nails that in case of a meteor assault the roof would not cave in. Second, I needed more than a hammer to take the beast down. I needed a Bobcat utility vehicle. Since I didn’t have one of those I settle on a three-foot crowbar complete with a hook that would withstand a massive beating from my hands. Last, this was not a weekend activity. I ended up taking half of it down on the weekend, leaving the rest for the week ahead.

As I was working, my brain wandered on silly things. The shed I once admired for many years had fallen apart. It deserved a final resting place before replacing it with a newer and shinier version. Similarly, there are things in my life I’ve had to remove in order to push forward. That meant replacing the bad with the good. Habits are like that. I wrote about toxic perfectionism a year ago. I had to tear apart my inner being as a means to throw away that which was causing me the greatest stress. Eventually, that old part is now gone, tossed in the dumpster. And like the shed, where I can still see bits and pieces of it littering the spot where it once stood majestically, the old self, the one wanting things in a perfect, organized box, appears every so often to remind me of the way I had once viewed life—through the doors of a rotting shed.

The remains of the shed

The remains of the shed

I also learned that with much banging of a crowbar on an immovable object, the energy I had expended needed replenishing. Drinking water. Sitting in the shade. Wiping the sweat from my brow. They all contributed to that replenishment. Again, as it is in life, I’ve had to take time away from the day-to-day grind in order to replenish my soul. Every Saturday, I disappear from Social Media and spend time with the family doing real things such as enjoying a special meal together or visiting with family and friends. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, this web site can all wait until I return online on Sunday. Saturday is mine to rest and do what I want. If I didn’t do that, then like tearing apart the shed, not taking a water break or rest in the shade, I’d collapse with a guaranteed stroke. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’d like to think I have a lot more to accomplish than make my final resting place six feet under way before my time.

My final lesson I had learned that weekend is to be patient and never give up. No matter what. Slugging the crap out of a shed wall took every ounce of energy I could muster. At times, I wanted to toss the crowbar and forget about the whole thing. I stuck to it. Every hit was one hit closer to success. Every drop of sweat was one more fraction of determination spent. I would not let failure overcome my ambition to slay the beast and win the battle.

The shed died a slow death, but I learned so much from the experience. I’m sure once I raise the new shed I will also have learned something interesting about life I never knew before.

Isn’t life an amazing thing?

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE SEARCH FOR PARADISE, on sale October 20.

Have you had something you were doing from which you learned a lesson? What is it about life you find the most fascinating of all?

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Clark W. Griswold

Every now and then, everyone deserves a vacation. It all depends on what the definition of a vacation really is. If it’s laying on the beach soaking in the sun then this family man is not for you. But if you’re looking for the ultimate adventure, where you travel across the great American desert, dance the polka in ethnic attire, visit Vegas on a budget or simply have a quiet Christmas meal as your house teeters on the threshold of hell then this family man is for you.

Chevy Chase in National Lampoon's Vacation

Chevy Chase in National Lampoon’s Vacation

For today’s Wednesday Warriors, Clark W. Griswold shows how taking a vacation becomes a quest for survival, a battle against all odds a… [insert another outrageous metaphor for war here]

Clark W. Griswold (Chevy Chase) knows how to be a supportive husband and loving father. He loves his wife Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo) and his two kids Audrey and Rusty. To him, they’re the perfect family. As the perfect family, they also deserve the perfect vacation. Instead of heading to the airport to visit their favorite amusement park, Wally World, Clark chooses the unconventional route. He takes the family on a no-holds-barred cross-country adventure where the dog pees on their lunches and the cops stop them for animal cruelty.

National Lampoon Vacation movie poaster

National Lampoon Vacation movie poaster

It doesn’t stop there. No, no. For their next vacation, he decides to forego the American dream for a shot at touring Europe. Lucky for Clark, he has relatives living in Europe—the problem is—he just can’t find them. In fact, Clark can’t find a nickel if it fell from the sky staring at him in the face. The Griswolds shack up with the wrong family. Add to that the racy video Clark and Ellen inadvertently filmed, which quickly is a victim of a burglary and becomes the hottest item to hit the black market, their vacation suddenly turns into an international affair.

Could the Griswolds’ vacations get any worse?

Of course!

For Clark, nothing is a challenge. His attitude works much like that of a warrior who never surrenders. If the Vegas casinos take all his money, he simply finds a way. Even if it means burning through the kids’ college education for one more single payoff. Even if it means getting into a road rage incident to prove his manhood. Even if it means the Christmas turkey becomes a relic of charred cinder. Yes. Clark W. Griswold doesn’t know the meaning of uncle.

He will fight. He will survive. And he will live his life to the fullest—even if it kills him.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE SEARCH FOR PARADISE, on sale October 20.

Have you seen any of the Vacation movies? What did you like about them? Will you see the next one in the series?

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The Roamer

What would you do if one night you awoke to the sound of a zombie ambling through your house? Would you attempt to find and kill it? Or would you run as fast as you could to evade its ferocious appetite?

Zombie in the house

Zombie in the house

Occasionally I ask these hypothetical questions for my Monday Mayhem series as a way to explore what my readers are thinking. I don’t ask these questions all the time, but this week I thought it would be fun thinking through the scenario with the understanding that whatever anyone says, it does not leave this site. We might actually get something done today.

Right. Moving along.

The scenario also works if you hear a zombie at three in the morning moaning in the middle of the hall of the apartment building. The scenario doesn’t need to take place in a house. And, if you’re living in the woods somewhere, well, then you’re free to do whatever you want.

Again, I’ll ask the question. What would you do if a zombie awakens you from your slumber in the safety of your domicile? Would you run? Or would you fight back?

This is what I would do—it’s all hypothetical anyway. I would first find out about the moaning. If it were during a time when the zombie apocalypse has just taken over the world, then I’ll know it’s the undead coming to claim a victim. However, if the zombie apocalypse has yet to spring into action, then I’ll have a number of things to consider.

Things for me to consider will be to understand if the thing in the house was real. It could be that the water tank was making noises again. But if it wasn’t the water tank, then I’m the type of guy who would have to see with my own eyes what was causing the chaos.

Once I’ve determined I can see it, I have to know if I can kill it. Then again, it could be human, and he/she was simply breaking in. Although if the thing was moaning I doubt it would be human. The point being, I want to know if it truly is one of those rot chewers whose life has disappeared in a mangled array of decomposing sinew and tissue. End of my rambling.

If it is one of the undead, then I can’t let it go roaming about the house without doing something about it. As someone familiar with zombies, I have to get it out of my home much like chasing a bat out of the bedroom with a broom. In the outdoors, I can then deliver some heavy Old Testament retribution.

Luckily I sleep with a baseball bat next to the bed. Oh, wait—that was in the other house I was living in. Well, from now on I will be sleeping with a baseball bat next to the bed.

This is my plan: I’ll retrieve my Louisville Slugger, run past it down the stairs and outside to the backyard. If it takes the bait, it’ll come after me. But I’ll be ready for it. All I need are a few quick swipes and it’ll be eating lumber in no time.

Okay, so that’s what I would do. What would you do?

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE SEARCH FOR PARADISE, on sale October 20.

Do you think you can defeat a zombie in real life?

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Jodi Arias Murder Trial

Jodi Arias. To some, the name brings shivers. I was in a coma for the past seven years until last month when I heard she’d been given a life sentence without parole. Two different juries couldn’t decide if she should receive the death penalty. However, life without parole—it might as well have been a death sentence. She will die in prison.

Jodi Arias

Jodi Arias

ADC 281129. That’s Jodi’s inmate number in the Arizona Department of Corrections. Arizona State Prison Complex – Perryville is now her home. She spends twenty-three hours a day in a 12×7 cell. She can enjoy one hour a day of fresh air—caged. Her bed is hard. Her windows are small. Her toilet is cold and made of metal. Contact with other prisoners is non-existent.

Travis Alexander’s friends found him behind a locked bedroom door rotting in a shower stall, stabbed 27 times, his throat cut from ear to ear, and shot in the face. In court testimony, Mesa Detective Esteban Flores later described the murder as one of the most brutal scenes he has had to investigate in his career.

According to trial prosecutor Juan Martinez, in order to deflect suspicion, Arias not only took meticulous care to stage the scene, wiping the blood from the floor with bathroom towels, but she also attempted to destroy evidence by throwing a digital camera in the washing machine and running it through a cycle.

When questioned by Det. Flores, Arias initially stated she wasn’t at Alexander’s house June 4, 2008, the day of the murder, but had spun a wild tale of being lost in the desert. The next day, after having spent the night in jail, she said two assailants, a man and a woman, killed Alexander. She said she managed to escape with her life.

In 2011, in preparation of her own defense, Arias introduced letters from Alexander depicting him as a pedophile, an accusation the court quickly dismissed after having analyzed the letters as forgeries.

During the trial, she had also accused Alexander of domestic violence, which prosecutor Martinez later disproved with photographic evidence to the contrary.

Other than matching her DNA to the crime scene, including hair follicle and blood sample matches,  the bombshell to the prosecution’s case against Arias was the digital camera she thought she had destroyed in the washing machine. Using EnCase software, Forensics was able to retrieve the SD card and restore deleted photos of Arias dragging Alexander’s bloody body down the hall into the shower.

Arias claimed to have killed Alexander in self-defense because she had dropped his camera on the floor. She said he had lunged at her.

Self-defense. Twenty-seven stab wounds. A slit throat. A shot to the face.

Travis Alexander

Travis Alexander [Photo credit: myspace]

On April 13, 2015, Judge Sherry K. Stephens asked the defendant, Jodi Ann Arias, if she had anything else she wanted to say before sentencing.

“I do remember the moment the knife went into Travis’ throat and he was still conscious. He was still trying to attack me.” Arias said.

To the very end, Arias did not admit to killing Alexander in a jealous rage as the prosecution had proven with the evidence presented. Instead, she used her moment in front of the judge to attack Alexander’s family one last time.

The last word, however, belonged to the state of Arizona. Judge Stephens sentenced Jodi Arias to natural life in prison without the possibility of parole.

At age 34, Jodi Arias is a prisoner of the state. She no longer can sleep in on a Sunday morning as the birds sing their mating calls outside her window, take a walk in the middle of the woods just when it is about to rain, lay on a hill on a cool spring day to watch the clouds change shapes, curl her toes in the sand on the beach as the tide rolls in, sit by the fire with her favorite drink, enjoy a breath of fresh mountain air, celebrate holidays with family, play catch with her siblings, cook a meal for guests, take a plane ride, shop for clothes, go to the movies, cut the grass, drive a car or feel the tender touch of another human being.

Neither can Travis Alexander.

Ever.

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Jason Bourne

Found floating in the middle of the ocean with a bullet hole that should have ended his life, a man awakens with no memory of who he is and no idea why he’s still alive. All he knows is he needs to find his identity. Imbedded below his skin is a small laser device that when pointed to a wall reveals a number: 000-7-17-12-0-14-26.

Matt Damon is Jason Bourne

Matt Damon is Jason Bourne

So begins today’s Wednesday Warriors‘ feature with Jason Bourne taking center stage.

My wife, being a fan of Matt Damon, introduced me to the Bourne Trilogy. At the time, I wasn’t much for the spy genre, but if my wife liked it, then I thought I’d take a shot. Well, not only did I enjoy the series, I also read the first book The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum.

Jason Bourne has lost his memory. However, due to some inexplicable reason, he can quickly memorize the layout of a restaurant, its patrons, objects, and formulate an exit strategy. His acute sense of awareness of his surroundings have proven on more than one occasion to have rescued him from harm’s way.

For instance, when Security traps him in an American Embassy, his instincts switch to automatic. He doesn’t know how it happens, but once an officer lays his hands on him, batons twirl and crash to the ground. Hands fly in a series of self-defense moves only a government agent or assassin could execute. His mark end up kissing the floor.

As part of the mystery, Bourne also discovers he has an ability for stealth. He can blend in and not bring attention to his movements. He drifts through crowds with little effort, deflecting tails from capturing him.

His talents also include driving at heart-pounding speeds without causing harm to him or his passenger.

Matt Damon as Jason Bourne

Matt Damon as Jason Bourne

Overall, Jason Bourne is a master of camouflage, deadly with weapons, and—as clichéd as it may sound—a one-man-army. The moniker suits him well.

But if anything were to stand out as the telltale attribute for this character, it would have to be his resourcefulness handling situations as they come. He doesn’t gripe or complain. He handles it. With a firm lower lip and a solid stare, everything he does has purpose. From the smallest matchbook to the largest plank, whatever he uses can become either a weapon or an object to save someone’s life. Add to it his resilience to beat the odds, and Bourne becomes an unstoppable machine.

Thank you Robert Ludlum for creating the amiable Jason Bourne. He truly is a character worth admiring.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE SEARCH FOR PARADISE, on sale October 20.

Have you seen any of the Bourne movies? What do you like about the films?

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Plan B

The other day I was at the station waiting for the train into the city. As I was sitting on the bench, a thought ran through my mind and I haven’t been able to shake it. What if a zombie appeared and began attacking those waiting on the platform? What would I do? Where would I go? After all, I don’t think about these things every Monday Mayhem. Wait. Maybe I do.

What is your Plan B?

What is your Plan B?

Then I remembered a scene out of the movie The Bourne Identity where the main character Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) is sitting in a restaurant and while he’s talking with someone, he is scanning his surroundings. He is accessing the people, the objects at his disposal and formulating an exit strategy—all within a matter of seconds.

It got me thinking. If there ever were a zombie attack, would I be ready?

Subsequent to thinking about this, I began a little exercise to see if I could actually accomplish doing what Bourne did, which was to assess my environment, catalog people and objects, and plan a quick exit.

Believe me—the exercise is much harder than it sounds.

The first time I did it, I failed miserably. I couldn’t keep track of the comings and goings of people because too many things changed within a minute, and I didn’t realize the amount of things I had to take into account to remember. Then again, it didn’t help that I tried this walking through a department store.

My next attempt was in a much more controlled environment. I’d chosen our town’s library. This time around, I did a bit better. I was able to memorize the exits, track people’s movements and keep a running tally of objects I could use in case of a zombie attack. I actually saw a letter opener on someone’s desk behind checkout that would come in handy for such an occasion.

A donut shop became my next assignment. I was feeling like a secret agent already!

As soon as I walked in, I committed the exits to memory. As opposed to remembering those working behind the counter, I counted them. Uniforms are far easier to remember than plain clothes. I also took separate counts of people standing up, such as waiting in line, and those sitting at the booths. As one would get up from their table, I subtracted one from those sitting at the booths and added it to those standing up. Obviously, I couldn’t stare at the people my whole time, so I looked for reflections where I could, using those as prompts for maintaining the count.

The other thing I found I was doing was that unlike the library exercise, where I was looking for specific weapons (eg. scissors, rulers, pencils, etc.), I now simply took an inventory of items on the counter and around the shop. This allowed me the freedom to know what my inventory would be in case the zombies came at me from all directions.

I know. I’m weird. But I had fun doing it in spite of the fact I had to commit so much to memory. One thing’s for sure—Plan B has become more real to me should a zombie attack actually take place.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE SEARCH FOR PARADISE, on sale October 20.

Have you thought about inventorying your surroundings? What is your Plan B?

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Future Projects—Maybe

Now that I’ve announced the release date to the final installment of my Ranger Martin trilogy, a heavy weight has lifted from my shoulders. If someone were to have said to me a few years ago that I’d have a trilogy out by Fall 2015, I would have thought he or she had lost their mind. Yet here it is, 2015, and in several months, the dream will have become a reality.

Perryville Prison

Perryville Prison

With the series fully complete, a number of other projects have fallen on my lap. I could easily tell you what they are, but then where would the fun be when I announce them? Rather, I’ll give you a hint about some of the things I’m working on, then you can tell me if you like the idea or not.

Part of my method to my insanity is diving into heavy research of a subject until I can make that research part of the story without it sounding made up. You can read some of the crazy topics I’ve written about here:

Why Don’t Zombies Eat Each Other?
Real Zombie Stories
Top 10 Most Horrifying Parasites
Zombies and Mental Illness
Zombie Animals
What Makes Horror Movies Scary?
Why do Zombies Eat Brains?
Zombie Apocalypse: Causes
A Zombie Primer
Death’s Cure

The other side of the research is byproduct subjects I never intended to write about, but nonetheless seemed fascinating to explore at the time. Things such as these:

The Human Brain
How to Sleep Well
Heads Down
Social Media Vacation
Being of Value
A Law of Success
A Day Off
Bully
Insomnia
Stream of Consciousness

Given this happens often, one of the settings to the first book in the Ranger Martin series takes place in a prison called Katlyn County Jail in Arizona. The inspiration for this setting was Perryville Prison located west of Phoenix in Goodyear. Little did I know that last month it had become the center of talk in the media for a famous criminal case that had ended. I won’t go into the details of the case, but I’m sure those familiar with it know what I’m talking about.

My natural inclination to write a book about prison life actually sparked an interest in me. That’s as far as I will go hinting on that idea. Okay, maybe I’ll go a bit deeper here. Prison can be the worst place on earth or a learning ground. Also, there are different kinds of prisons. There is the concrete kind where the prisoners are behind bars paying their dues, then there is the prison we create in our minds that we can’t escape without either helping ourselves or others helping us.

Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein

Another idea I’ve been looking at has to do with time. I like the idea of time travel, but in a non-linear fashion where the time continuum becomes corrupted. Einstein proved time is relative. Wouldn’t it be interesting meeting yourself and finding you’ve lived an entirely different life?

Well, that’s about it for now. I had other things I wanted to mention, but I think that’s enough to give you folks an idea of where I’m heading. These ideas may or may not happen, depends if I can find a story in them, but know I’m always open to writing about anything.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE SEARCH FOR PARADISE, on sale October 20.

Do you like prison tales? What about time travel stories, do you like those?

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Captain America

Of all the superheroes that impress me, one deserves recognition above all others. He’s fast, tough, and upstanding in his morals. He takes ownership for the safety of humanity. He’s a team player.

Chris Evans is Captain America

Chris Evans is Captain America

Captain America is today’s Wednesday Warriors highlight.

In World War II, when the army needed soldiers, Steve Rogers volunteered for an opportunity to fill the ranks. His enthusiasm and his unwillingness to surrender made him a prime candidate for the front line. His only problem? He was short. And he wasn’t very strong.

A military experiment Steve Rogers took part in changed all that. He no long had height as an issue to hold him back. And he certainly didn’t worry about muscles either. The experiment made him physically superhuman, but retained his go-for-it attitude intact. This scrawny individual became Captain America.

I grew up with Captain America. I had his action figure complete with uniform, boots and shield I enjoyed playing with him when I was eleven. My mom had bought it for me. It was my favorite action figure at that time. I really didn’t know the full story behind this Marvel action hero, but I loved how he looked and what he represented. I eventually bought the comics to read of his adventures in the safety of my bedroom. He became a hero I followed into my adulthood.

Captain America

Captain America

The thing about Captain America is he knows who he is. He’s not one of those dark comic book figures who has to go through an inner struggle to overcome demons from the past. He genuinely cares for the people he saves, which isn’t much different from any superhero. Yet, his struggle is an external one, against those who want to bring humanity to the brink of annihilation.

The Cap also possesses impeccable character. At times he may fail, but he’s always ready to admit when he’s wrong. He doesn’t blame anyone for his mistakes but himself. As strong as he appears, he doesn’t allow his super-strength to affect his ego. If anything, The Cap doesn’t have an ego. This is what makes him different and a superhero other superheroes follow into battle.

I would say the best part about Captain America is how he can remain determined in the face of adversity. The world could be falling apart all around him, but he picks up from his losses and moves forward without looking back.

Captain America may make the world a safer place to live, but it’s his integrity as an honest individual that drives his fans to want to continue following him.

Captain America is the First Avenger.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE SEARCH FOR PARADISE, on sale October 20.

What do you like about Captain America?

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Favorite Zombie

Jack Flacco is proud to announce RANGER MARTIN AND THE SEARCH FOR PARADISE, the final book in the Ranger Martin trilogy, will publish on October 20.

When it comes to zombies, I have favorites. Who can forget the zombie from The Walking Dead the survivors find at the bottom of a well? What about the zombie from apartment 406 in the movie Zombieland? And of course, then there’s R from the film Warm Bodies. I think he’s the most endearing—even though he cracked a victim’s skull with his bare hands in order to get to the victim’s brain.

Jesse Eisenberg and Amber Heard in Zombieland

Jesse Eisenberg and Amber Heard in Zombieland

Let’s talk about favorite zombies for today’s Monday Mayhem. What makes them special? Why are they the way they are?

I mentioned the zombie from The Walking Dead caught in the well. The creature is not only one of my favorites, but the scene itself is hilarious—that is, if you like dark humor. The scene begins with the survivors finding a well. The resource would not only provide usable drinking water, but also allow them a measure of hygiene. The problem? There’s a walker in the well. They figure that if they can haul it out, they have a chance of salvaging what’s left. The plan calls for sending one of the survivors to tie a rope around the walker as a means of hauling it from the hole. Right up until they noose the walker, the plan seems to be working fine. As they heave the walker out of there, they don’t realize how heavy it is. And just as they had pulled half of its body out of the well, what do you think happens?

Well (pun not intended) the walker that had been in the well for such a long time, had absorbed a fair amount of water. The sheer weight of its body and the force the survivors exerted on that body caused it to tear in half. The walker’s lower half, including its entrails, collapsed back into the well. Not only was the scene kind of gross, but if you like that sort of humor, it was funny. Suffice it to say the survivors couldn’t save the well.

Nicholas Hoult as R in Warm Bodies

Nicholas Hoult as R in Warm Bodies

Another one of my favorites is the zombie from apartment 406 from the movie Zombieland. She doesn’t start as a zombie, but after a few hours hanging out with our hero Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) in his apartment, she’s ready to tear out his jugular. What I like about this zombie the most is the audience first sees her before she changes. She’s warm, considerate, and true to “the girl next door” moniker, she’s the girl any guy would love to date. Somehow, though, a homeless person bites her and she runs into Columbus’ apartment for safety. He has no problems with that. She’s attractive, what guy could resist not having an attractive girl asking for help?

Several hours later, the effect of that bite takes hold. Columbus runs for his life. What happens next is anybody’s guess.

What I enjoy about the whole scene is watching this beautiful girl turn into one of the zombies that then threatens to take Columbus’ life. A lot goes on in this scene, and it’s worth watching a few times to gain the subtle nuances the filmmaker intended.

Lastly, my other favorite zombie is R from the movie Warm Bodies. He’s the zombie that gains intelligence as the movie progresses to its inevitable conclusion. The theme is simple. A zombie falls in love with a human and wants to change the world with love. As ideal as it sounds, the story works for many reasons. The best reason I can think of is the love he has for the girl. Throughout the film he allows Julia into his world, and he’s the one who ends up changing for the better. R not only redeems himself by granting Julia her freedom, but also grows as a character, which then leads to greater things for him.

Barring from spoiling the entire film, R is one of my favorites because of his potential for growth, regardless if he is undead.

Your turn. What is your favorite zombie?

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE SEARCH FOR PARADISE, on sale October 20.

Do you have a favorite zombie? How about a favorite zombie movie?

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The Avengers

Who is ready for the new Avengers movie? I know I am. I’ve been waiting for it ever since the studio announced it. It’s the summer go-to movie, which I also suspect will break every conceivable opening day record known to humanity—not that I’m making a big deal out of it or anything.

The Avengers

The Avengers

Freedom Friday wouldn’t be the same if I didn’t tell you which character of the team I love the most.

Okay, forget about the suspense. My favorite Avenger has to be Captain America. I like him because he stands for good. When I say that I don’t mean he represents good, but sometimes does bad things for the benefit of the good. He genuinely represents the crystal clear interpretation of virtue. He attempts to stay within the confines of the law, and he sticks to decisions that will not compromise his character.

My second favorite is Thor. He’s great. I love the character to death. In the first Thor movie he announces an awful lot. He announces when he’s hungry. He announces his intention to leave. And he announces his glorified ego as the God of Thunder. Like I said, he announces a lot. But you know what? I love that the most about him. There’s no lying in him. He says what he’s going to do, then does it. No second guessing.

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Iron Man is my third favorite. Gosh, and here I thought Thor had an ego. Iron Man takes the prize for the most befitting rendition of a contemporary AC/DC song ever. Whenever his alter ego Tony Stark walks into a room, it’s all about him. And why not? He’s earned it. He’s saved the earth a few times in the comics, so a little hero worship does Iron Man justice.

Rounding out my favorites is Black Widow as the kick-ass martial arts expert. Does anyone get excited whenever a gang of thugs has her surrounded with an impenetrable wall of bodies, six-packs and all? I’ll be the first to put up my hand. Then there’s Hulk—oh, yeah. Whenever I see him on screen all I can hear in my head is: Hulk. Smash. I don’t think you need me to explain what that means.

Of all the villains The Avengers have fought Loki is best of all of them. This is what a true villain is all about. He stands for evil, but he does it such a way that it’s difficult to hate the guy. He has a certain appeal with the audience, and I’m one of those guys he has a fan for life.

Now, what would I love to see in future Avengers movies? This is an easy question to answer. Spider-Man. Oh, what an amazing movie to have Spider-Man in the midst of all those superheroes. His sarcastic remarks would play well against Captain America’s matter-of-fact approach to situations. Hey, wouldn’t it be even more awesome if Wolverine were thrown into the mix? Wouldn’t that be something? Imagine the banter that would go back and forth between Spidey and Wolverine. I’d go see it, and I’m pretty sure the entire planet would, too!

Jack is looking forward to Avengers: Age of Ultron.

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Who is your favorite Avenger and why? Are you going to see the new movie hitting theaters today?

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