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.




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.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Blacklist bottoms out

I'm about done with Blacklist. The stories just aren't interesting anymore. They keep coming up with these stupid stories that are both demeaning to Americans and insulting to anyone with intelligence. It makes me wonder about the intelligence level of the writers and producers. Do any of them have an IQ above 100? Based on the episodes this season, I'm thinking no, they don't.

I had mentioned wacky cults in one of my posts in which I was criticizing the story in the episode that began this current season. I was saying that in America only wacky cults would have old men married to young teen girls.(e.g. the Branch Davidians.) Well, in this last episode, that's just what they threw at us. (Us being the TV audience, of course.)

Yep, dipping to a new low, Blacklist has a wacky cult in the main story line. A wacky cult which is isolated in a forested wilderness, led by a failed novelist who forces his wacky community to live under the false pretense that a virus has destroyed humanity. Of course his wife is complicit, albeit he has another wife in the real world who only knows her husband had disappeared.

But a small community, maybe a hundred people, perhaps less, are totally duped by the stupidity, believing that normal people (the outsiders) are infected with the virus, and thus cannot be contacted in any way because of a contaminant, which, when you're infected shows no symptoms, other than allowing you to live in a normal, modern world.

Oh, and anyone who does make contact with a normal person, i.e. an outsider, is therefore sentenced to death via being burned alive. Complete bullshit, you know.

So you have a father who finally decides to not believe the bullshit and he takes his cancer stricken daughter to the outside world so some real doctors can treat her. But of course the wacko cult "guards" or whatever you want to call them, track him down and capture him, but not the girl.

But of course, the girl is eventually captured, (or abducted, see below.) And of course, quite predictably, we get to see the father burned alive, and just as predictably, the cavalry arrives in time to save the little girl. The cavalry in this case being Agent Keene, who else? 

I was never in any suspense, seeing as how it was already so obvious the father would die, but the little girl would not. Not that I wanted to see any little girl die, no one does. Which is why, of course, she didn't. All too predictable. For a change, perhaps we could have had BOTH of them saved. But no. The father had to die, so as to preserve the predictability.

Meanwhile, Red's newly discovered daughter, (newly discovered to the TV audience, that is,) is full of spite and hate and of course never wants to have anything to do with Red, even though he explains, quite feebly I might add, that he had to abandon her to "keep her safe" from the Americans and the Russians who were chasing him.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. And of course Lizzy is no closer to learning the secret of the suitcase, although she is still bent on learning it, and the TV audience is no closer to learning the secret either. Except perhaps it's in Costa Rica at this point.

Oh, I forgot to mention that the Iranian girl, whose name I forget, (you know the Muslim FBI agent whom Aram loves in his ridiculously inept way,) is kidnapped. But that was bullshit too. Yeah, I know I complain that a woman should not be able to physically overcome a man who is twice her size, and she didn't. But after knocking her out, the man inexplicably puts her in the van in which he is abducting the little girl. He could have and should have just left her unconscious body on the sidewalk and drove off with his mission being successful. (Abducting the little girl to take her back to that wacky cult.) But for no apparent reasons he throws her in the van with the little girl

Sheesh. Dumb, dumb, and dumber. I suppose I'll finish the season, but I'll expect Blacklist to be canceled once this season is done. With stupid writing like we've been seeing this season, it will deserve to be canceled. A better word would be killed. And it would be a mercy killing at that.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Blacklist - dropping fast


So I was criticizing Blacklist for being inconsistent recently, but I was also allowing it time to recover its former greatness. However, this last episode did not do that. It wasn't a complete flop, but the holes are many.  As in...

When confronted by his "new" daughter, Red seemed to remember her. He said, "Jennifer" which means he knew who she was. That doesn't really confirm she is his real daughter. It only confirms he knew who she was. So we're left with the possibility that she could be his daughter, but there is still room to make it that she is not his daughter.

As for the ever-ridiculous Lizzy. I mean, come on. The writers are doing her no favors. She is bent on this seemingly never ending quest to find out the truth behind Red's "secret" of the suitcase. And this is even after Red made it clear to her that it has nothing to do with her. Lizzy's reason? Well, her reason is because her husband died trying to find out about it.

But Red made it clear that it was none of Tom's business either. It has nothing to do with him or Lizzy. Yet in this latest episode, Lizzy says she's willing to kill Red, her own father, to prevent him from keeping the secret from her. This was when Red is pointing a gun at Ian Garvey, who Lizzy actually WANTS dead because he killed her husband, but now she says she will kill Red if he shoots him. Can you see the ridiculousness in all of this?

Again. Come on. How can I still call this my favorite TV show when it continues to try its best to make me hate it? So then, Garvey pulls out a gun he's been hiding in his pants, and shoots Red, after which Lizzy plugs three bullets into Garvey's chest. Then, instead of going to her father, Red, to see if he's okay after being shot by Garvey, she runs to Garvey yelling, "Don't die," over and over again. And this is all the while not even knowing if Red, her own father, was killed or not.

And all this for a "secret" that she has no clue about, other than the fact that Red has already told her it has nothing to do with her. Or Tom.

So Lizzy is side by side with Garvey, the murderer of her husband, trying to talk him out of dying, so he can tell her this "secret" which Red told her  has nothing to do with her.

By the end of the show, it looked like Garvey did die without telling her the secret. We'll have to wait until next week to see if that is the case for sure, but the ridiculous behavior of Lizzy is almost cringe-worthy. And it makes me wonder if I can still call this my favorite show. As long as James Spader remains the star and main character, I suspect I will still call it my favorite show. But the writers are trying their best to make me think all the less of Lizzy. And now this Jennifer? Can it get any worse? I suppose so. And if it does, then I walk.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

The Vase - Book revised

As the second book I had written, The Vase had already undergone several revisions. It was my first book to be revised with the lessons I learned from a real editor. Meaning not just a Beta reader. The editor was from the now defunct publisher Penumbra Publishing, and the lessons were vital to my future as a novelist. And with five novels under my belt at this point, it was indeed vital.

It's true that Melange - the publisher for my first book, Killer of Killers - advised me on much of what the Penumbra editor taught me. But it was Penumbra that really drilled the lessons home. And from that point on I became a much better novelist - an author who writes novels.

I went back and applied those lessons to Killer of Killers, of course, and Melange was gracious enough to allow me to do that. And since Penumbra folded, I have been going back over The Vase, time and again, revising and revising, improving the prose, and yes, even making better judgment calls on the original edits.

The Vase is being rewritten, not only in the application of the lessons I learned, but with the original intent on how the story unfolds. The editor had his own ideas, and applied them to a small degree to my story line. I made it back into the way I wanted it, with one exception. I had originally intended for Professor Weiss to relay his version of the climactic events in a flashback scene, as if the reader was experiencing the event "live". But the editor wanted the events "told" by the professor after Captain Mathias caught up to him and asked him what happened.

I think that was the better option. And the reason is because the events Weiss relays contain some controversial, or even questionable, occurrences, and when those controversial and/or questionable occurrences are told after the fact, then the reader can use his or her own judgment as to whether those event really happened the way the professor told them to the captain.

Otherwise, the reader will be experiencing the events as did Professor Weiss, and they would be more akin to seeing it as what really happened, and then there would be no questionable aspect involved.

So yeah, the editor did contribute much to that book, not only in teaching me all the current rules for writing a novel, but made the right call for that particular post climax scene.

And as I revise The Vase for the umpteenth time I am greatly improving the prose, making every single paragraph on every single page the best writing as humanly possible. It's truly a work of art at this point. I can't wait to resubmit to publishers when I'm finally done. Multiple publishers had accepted it for publication in its original state. Cant wait to see the results when I submit it now that it's a vastly superior book to what it was then.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

The Blacklist - Up and Down

Since I'm reviewing TV shows, I might as well chime in on what had become my favorite show. The Blacklist. This latest season seems to be chugging along with the writers behind it suffering from writer's block. They don't seem to know what to do with the story line now that everyone knows what they already knew from season one, that Lizzy is Red Redington's daughter.

I already complained about the feeble attempt to make Lizzy look and act tough. She single-handedly killed four assassins from the mob. And that was in the current season opener, so I was thinking this season might have some problems. Then you have the weak stories that followed, which bottomed out with the episode from last week which depicted teen girls married legally to men in their forties and fifties - in America. Since when do teen girls as young as fourteen marry men in their forties or fifties legally here in America? I figure it happens in third world countries, but not in America. And if it does happen here in America, it's because people from third world cultures that came to America brought that custom with them.

But in this show, even though the first depiction was an Indian couple, the next couple was a white man and a white girl, who were AMERICAN. To that I say Bullshit. That doesn't happen legally here. I guess the show's producers didn't want to be accused of racism, so they made sure a white couple was also involved in that farcical situation. I cannot accept that. It may happen in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa, but it doesn't happen with indigenous Americans unless you're talking about David Koresh of the Branch Davidians and other wacky cults which we've seen now and then. But those were NOT legal marriages, so my argument remains valid. And besides, a wacky cult was not the case in this show. The dude was a regular dude, working a regular nine to five job, with a teen as his regular wife. That was bullshit. And when a show throws bullshit at me, it becomes just that. Bullshit.

The latest show contained a new revelation. (Spoiler alert) Red Redington has another daughter, which means Lizzy has a sister (or half-sister.) That whole scenario sucked. Why? Because the man who she says saved her from a state adoptive service was the man who has already established himself as the latest scumbag villain of the series: Ian Garvey, the man who murdered Tom, (Lizzy's husband,) and he also murdered the black cop who was a good guy.

But this new character who says she's Red's daughter has this impression that Garvey is such a great guy. She says the FBI goes after good men, like her surrogate father, (Garvey) and not the really bad men like her real father. (Red Redington.)

So once again we have a completely backward situation, since we know that Red is really not bad, and Garvey really is bad. But it brings me to a new suspicion. I am now thinking that that suitcase of bones that Red is so obsessed with, contains the bones of the real Red Redington, and the man who is pretending to be Red Redington, (actor James Spader,) is the man who killed him and took over his ID. Thus, Spader's Red Redington is the good guy, whereas the real, (and now dead) Red Redington was the bad guy whom this new "daughter" is talking about.

It's getting a little too complicated, but if I'm right, it will be a big twist in the story line. Why? Because everyone to this point believes the suitcase contains the bones of Lizzy's mother, who was Red Redington's former lover. And the reason he is hiding that from Lizzy, and everyone else is because Lizzy's mother, according to Red had committed suicide by drowning herself in the ocean and her body was never recovered.

So if those are her bones, that means his story is false and that's why he is so secretive about those bones and why he so wants to recover that suitcase, to make sure the secret is preserved. But wait. We saw in a flashback of Red, that she did indeed walk into the ocean to commit suicide. So that suggests his story is true, and if it is, then whose bones are those if they're not Lizzy's mother's?

Which brings me back to my new suspicion. Those are the bones of the real Red Redington, and Spader doesn't want anyone to know that he isn't the real Red Redington. Why doesn't he? Heck, I don't know. Maybe to maintain his image as the world's most famous criminal, thus retaining the respect of all the other worldwide criminals with whom he works to varying degrees.

As far as I'm concerned regarding this suspicion, I look at it this way: as long as the James Spader Red Redington is the real father of Lizzy, I guess I'll be okay with that. Even if he's not the real Red Redington. As for the new girl, well, she can be the daughter of the dead Red.

Sheesh. I liked Blacklist a lot better before. As for now? Let's see how this new scenario plays out. If I'm right, then okay. But how long will it take to find out if I'm right? Until then...