Will iconic images recorded in the grooves of an ancient vase unite the Holy Land or rip it further apart?

THE VASE

A novel by Mark M. DeRobertis

Muhsin Muhabi is a Palestinian potter, descended from a long line of potters. His business is run from the same shop owned by his ancestors since the day his forebears moved to Nazareth. The region's conflict saw the death of his oldest son, and rogue terrorists are in the process of recruiting his youngest in their plot to assassinate the Pope and Israeli prime minister.

Professor Hiram Weiss is an art historian at Nazareth’s Bethel University. He is also a Shin Bet operative on special assignment. With the help of fellow agent, Captain Benny Mathias, he plans to destroy the gang responsible for the death of his wife and only child. He puts a bomb in the ancient vase he takes on loan from Muhsin’s Pottery Shop.

Mary Levin, the charming assistant to the director of Shin Bet, has lost a husband and most of her extended family to recurring wars and never-ending terrorism. She dedicates her life to the preservation of Israel, but to whom will she dedicate her heart? The brilliant professor from Bethel University? Or the gallant captain who now leads Kidon?

Harvey Holmes, the Sherlock of Haunted Houses, is a Hollywood TV host whose reality show just flopped. When a Lebanese restaurant owner requests his ghost-hunting services, he believes the opportunity will resurrect his career. All he has to do is exorcise the ghosts that are haunting the restaurant. It happens to be located right across the street from Muhsin’s Pottery Shop.




Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Crazy Carrie vs. Dizzy Lizzy


Megan Boone
I have talked somewhat about the shows Blacklist and Homeland. Blacklist had been my favorite show, mostly because of the stellar performances of James Spader. He's an actor who I've appreciated, and I've liked all of his work. Megan Boone, on the other hand, is the co-star of Blacklist, and she is not a very good actress at all. It's been hard watching her sometimes, but I like the premise of the show, and I've been satisfied with the show for the most part.




The last two seasons has seen Blacklist fall in quality, as I've mentioned in prior posts, meaning the storylines have been wanting. I mean they're bad. Still, Spader keeps the show afloat, and it's not easy for him. The reason is because Megan Boone's character is a dizzy dame. Not to sound misogynistic, really, but anyone who's seen the show knows what I mean. The character Lizzy Keen is whacky. But not a good whacky. She's like the nickname I gave her. Dizzy whacky. Thus Dizzy Lizzy.

Claire Danes

Homeland, on the other hand features a woman who is also whacky, but not in a bad way. She's always right. Even when she thinks she's wrong. But the actress Claire Danes is such a superior actress, the difference is like night and day between her and Megan Boone. Claire Danes performance as the crazy Carrie Mathison is so good, I'm feeling every breath she takes, feeling every emotion she exudes, and it's like I'm experiencing every scene she's in. Wow. Claire Danes is the best actress I've seen in a long time.

Compare that with the near emotionless performances from Megan Boone. Her character, Lizzy Keen is so dumb that it seems that Megan Boone is at a disadvantage right there from the get go. But Boone offers nothing to advance her character. Her acting is wooden, stiff, and blah... Whereas Danes performances go through the roof!


I used to think that Amber Heard would be my actress of choice to play the role of Samantha Jones if Killer of Killers were ever to make the big screen. But I've since changed my mind. Amber Heard, based on the little I've seen of her on the screen is not a good actress. And if you want to see the difference between a good actress and a bad actress, just watch a few episodes of Blacklist, and pay close attention to the performance of Megan Boone as Lizzy Keen.

Then watch a few episodes of Homeland and check out the performance of Claire Danes. The difference is such that it will jump out at you and make you say wow. Danes has the unique ability to express every emotion in the book. She can convince you that she IS undergoing exactly what she is undergoing on the screen. That's a great actress. Kudos to Claire Danes.

As for Megan Boone? Well, it's a good thing James Spader is in the show. Otherwise, it would suck. And the last couple of seasons, it has sucked. In spite of Spader. But Spader, at least, keeps me watching. Can't say that will continue past next season though. Can't say it will continue past the first two episodes of next season. We'll see.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Homeland Season One - Ended Okay

A believable female hero in Homeland

So, yeah, I watched the season one finale last night, and it didn't disappoint. But it wasn't a "wow" type of episode either. I couldn't believe the dude would go through with blowing himself up, and he didn't. The way it was written was that he tried to, but the bomber vest malfunctioned. And his attempt to fix it took so long that a call from his daughter delayed him just enough so that the opportunity to blow everyone up passed.

But it could be argued that the call from his daughter did, in fact, change his mind. Whatever. He didn't go through with it just as I believed he wouldn't. All in all it was okay.

But I'm not without problems. Besides the one about how I can't believe a Marine would commit suicide by blowing himself up "terrorist fashion" like the chumps in the Middle East.

Another problem I'm having with Homeland is the same kind of problem I've been having with Blacklist. That is the on-again, off-again, on-again, off-again, back and forth with the MC Carrie who at first believed the marine dude was a traitor, then she didn't, then she did, then she didn't, and now, once again, she does. Sheesh.

I had to go through that, (and am still going through that) with the ever-dizzy and ever-fickle Lizzy Keene in the Blacklist. First she hates Red, then she loves him (as a father), then she hates him, then she loves him, and now she hates him once again. I can't stand this. Can't anyone make up their mind? Apparently not these two chicks.

But unlike Lizzy Keene, Carrie does come across as a hero, and I still consider her a hero. And I mean a realistic hero. A real true life-like hero. Not some super-chick who beats up dudes by the dozens every episode. When shows do that it makes it look like Hollywood is glorifying violence with women physically fighting, not with their minds but bare-knuckle, knock-down, drag-out fighting with bloody noses, broken bones and death blows.

I never believed women were made for that type of thing. I never believed women would WANT to be involved with that type of thing. And they shouldn't. Why? That's easily answered. It's because a woman would stand no chance against a trained male fighter. None. I've explained why many times already. And when I see it happen in almost every action show nowadays, it turns me off.

But Homeland is giving us a real believable woman hero. Not because she's not beating up people, but because she's smart and clever, and oh so flawed. As I touched on in yesterday's post. She's bipolar. And even though I don't think it was necessary to make being bipolar a part of the show, they did anyway, and they are making it work.

So yeah. Season One of Homeland gets a passing grade in my book. As I recall, Season One of Blacklist got not just a passing grade, but a stellar grade. And it got better in Season Two and it peaked in Season Three. Season Four, however, was hard to watch and Season Five completely tanked. I don't expect it to rebound with Season Six. Although it could. We'll see.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Homeland...Okay

So with my sad dismissal of The Blacklist show, and the fact that it's currently mid-season right now anyway, I started watching Homeland. It's okay. So Far. I like the main character. Of course, the MC is a woman, but at least I don't have to suffer through multiple scenes of her beating up men.

Actually, there hasn't been a single scene where she beats up a man. (Unlike the impossible depiction of Lizzy Keene beating up men a couple times in Blacklist. Or that ridiculously impossible-to-believe Shaw chick beating up men in every episode of POI.)

But that doesn't mean that the character Carrie in Homeland isn't a hero. In fact I think she's a great hero. One thing of note is that the writers of the show have made her into a very flawed individual. Imagine that. A flawed female hero. She's bipolar, and single, with the realization that she will always be single, and her attempt at preventing that has actually jeopardized her job and career.


Pretty good stuff there. But flawed as she is, she's still a hero. I'm watching the final episode of season one tonight, so I hope my appreciation of the show is not ruined. I do have some criticism of the show, however. First, I find it hard to believe that a U.S. Marine who has a loving wife, and two kids, (a son and a daughter who are still teens,) would agree to become a suicide bomber for radical Muslim terrorists.

I mean the guy has a beautiful wife who loves him. Two great kids who need him. And a promising career ahead of him in politics. Add to that that the American public loves him and you have a recipe for a great American life that supersedes any American dream anyone could have.

Yet the guy seems to be fully cooperating in a terrorist plan to put on a "bomber vest" and blow himself up in an act of terror. I happen to know from my own research when I wrote my book The Vase, which involved radical Muslim terrorists, that radical Muslims convince youngsters who don't know any better, or even mentally retarded people to carry out these "bomber jacket" or "bomber vest" suicide missions. How else might someone be willing blow him/herself up?

So the fact that this guy is a fully grown man, seemingly in full control of his mental faculties, and with everything a man might want in life, just doesn't make any sense that he'd become a suicide bomber. Sure he was captured by radical terrorists for 8 years, tortured and manipulated. Sure the little Arab boy to whom he was charged to teach English and then bonded with was a cute little boy with an adorable accent. And sure the explosion that killed the little tyke was as tragic as you can get. But still. I don't buy it.

But again, I haven't seen the last episode of season one yet. As a matter of fact, I'm getting ready to see it right now, since my wife is calling me to come down and watch it with her.

So I'll get back to you tomorrow.


Monday, May 28, 2018

Can Blacklist get worse? Yes.

As much as I've trashed Th Blacklist TV show recently, I am compelled to come back and trash it one more time. I had stated that The Blacklist show, this past and latest season, (season 5) had bottomed out. Meaning it can't get worse. Well, after reading some of the Blacklist forums, I have come to the conclusion that it can indeed get worse.

Other "fans" or perhaps I should call them "soon-to-be ex-fans" have been complaining about it as much as I have. But there is a scenario that many of these "soon-to-be ex-fans" have been putting out there. And this scenario has to do with that bag of bones. I had predicted, correctly, that the bag of bones belonged to the real Red Redington, and that "Spader Red" as I call him now, that is, the character played by James Spader, who until now was known as Red Redington, was some dude who had killed Red Redington and assumed his identity to take his place as the king of the underworld.

Now I hadn't been too against that, because the Spader Red character was actually a good guy, although not squeamish when it came to killing any of the bad guys. Which I liked. It had been made clear that the real Red Redington was a bad guy, so yeah, I can buy that. As long as he was the real biological father to Lizzy, that is. But to my eternal dismay, that is once again in question. Which is another reason why I am hating this show. I can't stand the on-again, off-again, on-again, off-again element this show keeps perpetuating. It gets very tiring. And boring.

But I digress. I am supposed to reveal how this show can get worse. As I was saying, it's being bantered about on the forums, that Spader Red, is a "tranny." Meaning he was a woman who had a sex change operation. Meaning he is really Lizzy's mother, who became a man. "Spader Red" as I refer to him now. And if that turns out to be the case, then this show has really turned into Bullshit.

Here's the clues the "soon-to-be ex-fans" will cite as Spader Red being a tranny. He told Lizzy he never lies to her. And when she asked him if he's her father, he told her no. What might he have said if she asked are you my parent? Then might he had said yes? When a bad guy once asked Spader Red if Lizzy was his daughter, he said yes. So that is their evidence. And it could be right. I can't argue with that. Well, I could argue that Spader Red did indeed lie to Lizzy, but that seems unlikely.

So I am almost fearful that these "soon-to-be ex-fans" are correct. Spader Red is a transexual. He is a her and the mother of Lizzy. This is too weird for me. Maybe not for the LBGQT world. But that's not my world. And if The Blacklist is pandering to that world, it's not for me. Goodbye Blacklist, until all this Bullshit is cleaned up and I can enjoy it again. We'll see.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Blacklist Flops Again - Sigh

Well, I called it. The bag of bones, I mean. I had predicted those were the bones of the real Red Redington, and as of the season finale, it turned out to be the case. But even though I was right, that doesn't mean I liked the episode. Or even the series anymore. Which is saying a lot. Because at one point I dared believe The Blacklist was my all time favorite TV show.

Which is saying a ton. My all time favorite TV show returns to being Star Trek, tos, even though there were only three seasons, and only of which two were really good. The third season, of ST-TOS was only sporadically good, but good enough to return it to being my all time favorite TV show.

At one point Banshee took over that slot. But the last season of Banshee flopped big time, and I mean way more than the last season of Star Trek, tos. And this last season of Blacklist is even a worse flop than both. Which means this past season of Blacklist turned out to be a real stinker.

So...I had said that if I was right, and the bones in that bag were those of the real Red Redington, I would be okay with that as long as the James Spader character, (whoever he is) remained the real father of Lizzy. But Lizzy is acting like he's not. In fact she has now taken an over the top hating of Spader's character, so much so that she vows to "destroy" him, much like we had to suffer through in the season that featured "Mr. Kaplan's" sudden hatred of Spader's character.

I mean, that was bad enough. When I used the words 'suffer through' I meant it. Now, if the series continues next season, we'll have to suffer through another ridiculous storyline of a close associate of "Red" (this time his daughter, or supposed daughter, Lizzy) enacting a crusade of destruction of Red, or whoever Spader is supposed to be now. (From this point, I'll call him Spader Red.)

But really, I am so tired of this storyline. They can't come up with a different storyline than someone close to Red turning on him and trying to bring him down? I can't suffer through that again.

But the sheer stupidity is another factor. I mean, like, how many times has Spader Red saved Lizzy's life? At least half a dozen times throughout the duration of the series, I'd say. So does that mean saving your life mean's nothing? Apparently, to Lizzy it doesn't mean squat. Spader Red saved her life....I mean he SAVED HER LIFE....like a whole bunch of times, and all she has is hatred for him? And why? Just because she thinks he's not the real Red Redington?

This is all bullshit.  And btw, he saved Tom's life a couple times too. It was not Spader Red's fault Tom eventually died, it was his own fault. And oh yeah, Spader Red also saved the lives of every one of those FBI agents Lizzy works with, including Dresler and that FBI chief dude. They all owe their lives to Spader Red, and it all means nothing to Lizzy. Again. Bullshit.

One more thing. Why does Lizzy even believe that Spader Red is not her father anymore? It wasn't the NAME she was matched to with the DNA test in a prior episode of an earlier season. If I remember correctly, it was Spader Red's blood from which they made the match. That should mean that even if he's not the real Red Redington, he is still her real father. But Lizzy seems too stupid to connect those dots. But it's simpler than connecting dots. It's as simple as two plus two equals four, and Lizzy is unable to complete that equation? More Bullshit.

No, if Blacklist is canceled, I won't miss it. It's too stupid at this point. At least Lizzy is. And the only thing that can save this stupid show for me, is if Lizzy comes to realize that WHOEVER Spader Red is, HE IS STILL HER FATHER. And if that doesn't happen fast...I mean, like, within the first two or three episodes of the following season, I will quit this show once and for all.

The best Blacklist shows were when Spader Red and Lizzy were on the same side with a common goal, and a working relationship. I want to see Lizzy KNOW that Spader Red is her father, because he IS her father. Her real biological father.

Because you know what? If he isn't, then all five or six seasons will have been nothing more than bullshit. Being Lizzy's real father is the ONLY thing that can explain Spader Red's obsession with Lizzy. Otherwise, he's some kind of freak nutcase. And I don't want to believe I've been following a freak nutcase in a TV show over five plus seasons. That would be a joke on me. And that's not why I watch a TV show.


Sunday, May 13, 2018

Avengers Infinity Wars - Ho Hum...

I've been hearing all the hullabaloo about the new Avengers movie for the past three weeks, and I finally saw it last night. I sat through the two plus hour movie, and I was more bored than anything else. They had so many attempted tear-jerker scenes it bordered on ridiculous, and especially because none of them worked. Not for me, anyway. The writers clearly were trying too hard. Emotions, I suppose were the call of the day for that movie, and they failed to make it happen.

It was more along the lines of disgusting that anything else. And how Stan Lee can put his name, and his face, on movies like that is beyond me. First of all it started lousy. The movie began at the tail end of the Asgaard spaceship being destroyed. We see an already defeated Thor and Loki, and a near dead Heimdall at the mercy of this Thanos dude.

I had stopped collecting comics by the time this Thanos became the new super heavy bad guy in the Marvel universe. It used to be Galactus, but whatever. Thanos it is. But during this opening scene in which we don't even know how Thor and Loki were defeated, the Hulk shows up out of nowhere. But this Thanos beats the Hulk in a relatively quick and easy scene. Which to me was bullshit.

Whatever happened to "the angrier I get, the stronger I get" trait of the Hulk? But in this scene the Hulk didn't even get angry. He just gets pummeled by Thanos as if he were a lightweight. Again. That was bullshit. No one can beat the hulk. Haven't we heard that time and again?

But Thanos does and after that we find out that the Hulk is afraid to come out from Bruce Banner. Why, because he got beat up? That's not the Hulk. I don't know how they explained that in the comics if this story line was ever in the comics that is, but it's pure bullshit. The Hulk is never afraid. He relishes a fight. It's what he exists for. But whatever....

Another bothersome aspect of this movie was the continued efforts of the writers to instill comedy into the movie. It didn't work. On one hand, they were trying to give us a heavy drama, with tension, conflict, and tragedy. But on the same hand, (not the other hand, mind you,) the writers were trying to make the movie into another slapstick comedy, much like they did with that latest Thor movie, which was utterly ridiculous. I had called that movie a complete flop because they made Thor into a character that more resembled Inspector Clouseau than a Thunder god.

Finally the entire purpose of Thanos was bullshit. His entire reason for seeking out the "infinity stones" is to kill half of all the living beings in the universe. That's right. The entire universe. Never mind just the Milky Way Galaxy. It's got to be the entire universe. And why? Well, so as to restore "balance" into the universe. Huh? I mean, what? Balance? By killing half of all life in the universe? Does anyone know how that works? Did they explain it? A feeble attempt was made, I suppose. So there would be no more hungry mouths to feed? That was as far as the writers got, at least from the mouth of Thanos, you know the one who's obsessed with doing this thing.

And by the way, who the hell is Thanos anyway? Son of Elaas, or something like that? We got that from a surprise appearance of the Red Skull on some far off world where the "soul stone" was kept. I mean, what is Thanos? Is he some last survivor of a destroyed planet, like Galactus was? I don't know, and it is never explained just who he is or from where he came and why is he hell bent on bringing "balance" to the universe, even it it means killing half of it.

So, bottom line, we had bad writing, bad acting, bad directing, and a boring movie. Of course Disney won't care. They're getting their billions of dollars from all the sheeple who will see their favorite superheroes in action. Even if they die. Which makes me think that Marvel is trying to outdo DC. It was like, DC killed Superman, so Marvel will do them better. They'll kill half of their superheroes in one shot.

But they'll all be back int he next movie. Superman was after all. And so will they.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Blacklist Gets Worse


Just when I thought Blacklist couldn't get any worse, it did. I thought the episode from the week before was rock bottom. Wrong. This week's episode was worse. I can't believe a TV show that I had dared believe was my favorite TV show of all time is now a show that ranks with the worst of all time. Meaning the worst of shows that I bothered watching, that is.

It was a follow up show to the previous one that I had called the worst, so that is part of the reason why. It still included remnants of that "wacky cult" from the previous show, with a nut who was the dude in charge of making people "disappear." But aside from all of that nonsense, we, the viewers, were forced to watch Aram act like an idiot. Again. He was overly emotional, overly nervous, and the actor playing the part was over-acting.

If the show is going to kill off a main character, (meaning that Muslim female agent, who Aram loves, whose name I still can't remember,) they sure have chosen the most stupid way to do it. But wait. I don't believe she will die. I have no doubt at this point, that in a future episode she will emerge from the coma she is in and will be just fine. That's called predictability.

But that's where the show left off. With that lady in a coma and Aram putting a ring on her finger having proposed to her while she was unconscious. All too ridiculous, and very hard to watch.

Meanwhile, we, the viewers, are forced to watch Lizzy and Red engage in a "race to the finish line" as Red put it, toward the acquisition of the suitcase, which continues to be ever-elusive. Now it's in the hands of another "enemy" of Red Redington, and of course, Lizzy is still obsessed with getting it, even though: 1-she has no clue what's in it. 2-Red has already told her it has nothing to do with her. 3-it cost the life of Tom, Lizzy's husband who stuck his nose into the affair. 4-it could cost Lizzy her life, too, as Red has already warned her that pursuing this suitcase is very dangerous as Tom already found out. And 5-Red has also made it clear to Lizzy that he does not want her to continue looking for this suitcase, as it is very personal to him, and he deserves the privacy of his "secret."

But, of course, Lizzy disregards all of that. Her reasoning as she explained in the show is that it was Mr. Kaplan's dying wish for her to know the "secret." And then of course the fact that Tom died in his attempt to get the secret to Lizzy fuels her obsession to find the suitcase and learn the "secret" of Red Redington, which again Red told her has nothing to do with her.

For me, when Blacklist is at it's best, Red and Lizzy are on the same page, on the same side, working together toward a common goal, like a real father and daughter. But instead the show's writers take us, the viewers, back to the tired old story line of Lizzy hating Red, and opposing him, and working against him, and I'm sick of that. I suppose next week's season finale will be the last Blacklist episode, since I fully expect it to be canceled. And I won't miss it.