Will iconic images recorded in the grooves of an ancient vase unite the Holy Land or rip it further apart?
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, May 23, 2017
Well, my brother was in town from Hawaii this past weekend, and my sons were home, so we decided to go to a movie. We were going to see the Guardians of the Galaxy movie, but we ended up deciding on seeing the new King Arthur movie. Well, it was horrible. So horrible that if I wasn't there with my brother and sons, I would have walked out. And it's been a long time since I've walked out on a movie that I paid to go see.
This movie was bad in almost every way. One might have thought the casting would have worked. It didn't. But one might have thought the likes of Charlie Hunnam from Sons of Anarchy fame, would be a good lead actor for the part of King Arthur. He wasn't.
Then you have the likes of Jude Law as the villain. You'd think he would make a good villain. But he didn't. You had Eric Bana from Troy and Hulk fame. You'd think he'd make a good King Uther, right? Nope. And even an actor I've talked about recently, (in a good way, btw) Dimon Hounsou, did not work in the role he was cast in this horrible movie.
First and foremost was the script. It sucked. The screenplay, if you will, was just terrible. How that could have made it to the final cut is beyond me. The dialogue, the events, the everything was simply bad. And real bad. I mean really, really bad.
The movie's story began in Camelot. But there was no King Arthur yet. Wait a minute. That's not how if happened. There was no Gwenevere, there was no Lancelot, and Merlin had no role in the story whatsoever. They changed the myth, which didn't automatically mean the story would suck, but make no mistake. It sucked. Better to stay true to the myth, or at least stay true to the myth enough so that it was actually recognizable, which this wasn't. Other than the sword Excalibur being stuck in a rock.
But that sucked, too, because the rock used to be King Uther. Don't ask. Just know that if you haven't seen it yet, don't. Even if it comes to free TV. Watching that movie was a waste of two hours. Anything you might do instead will be time better spent. Believe me. Because if you don't do something else, you'll wish you did.
Friday, May 12, 2017
I had found some photos of Amber Heard, and I thought she nailed the part. Of course, the caveat is that she was a solid actress. But Hollywood seems to think she's not. She's never had any major roles in any major Hollywood films. She's only had bit parts, and only in grade B movies. Like Machete Kills, and the like. Sheesh, Machete Kills is more like a grade C movie.
|Amber and Johnny|
Then there's Heard's next romance with billionaire Musk, and there you have it. Heard seems to be more like a woman on the take than an actress. Meaning it seems she would rather attach herself to men who are already successful, rather than becoming successful herself. Being Depp's wife, I thought, would help her in that. It didn't. Being Musk's girl friend or wife certainly won't. But maybe she doesn't care. And if she doesn't care about being a successful actress, hey, that's her business.
Wednesday, May 10, 2017
I remember a time when the James Bond franchise was doing basically the same plot every ensuing movie. Only recently, with the Daniel Craig version of Bond, the producers have moved away from the formula plot for Bond movies. You know, there's a mad scientist, or a demented billionaire, or an evil organization seeking world domination or even world destruction, and as Bond investigates, he is captured and held prisoner for a time, but then he foils the plot and is reinforced by a cavalry of government agents, and the show concludes with a shoot out in the scale of a major battle.
With The Walking Dead, there are so many characters that episodes often stray to show what's up with so and so, and even though the audience sees what's up with so and so, nothing happens to further the plot or reveal any answers to any questions.
But with these White Queen and White Princess shows, each show is jam packed with events and twists, and turns, that it's like in one episode you've got the equivalent of an entire Walking Dead season. That's what I call packing a punch. Wow.
Again, I'll watch an episode of Walking Dead or any other show, and walk away from it as having not even watched it. Nothing happened. No sense of entertainment had been achieved. But these shows about England's War of the Roses, on the other hand, are like an entire season per episode. That's great writing. It's faster paced than Downton Abbey. Which is also quite good. But it's based on real events. And I like that. Like my John Dunn book. It too is based on real events.
And talking about John Dunn, the final galley changes have been submitted, and no more revisions will be forthcoming. I'm hoping that it's because no more are needed. And if that's the case, I'll be a happy camper. Can't wait for July. Because it's in July when the John Dunn book is being released. And July is right around the corner.
Tuesday, May 9, 2017
And certainly, the women are portrayed as very strong characters. But thankfully, these women are not out on the battlefield with swords striking down dozens of male warriors attacking them. No. These stories are based on reality, not some fantasy of a woman besting dozens of battle-hardened men, like in that TV show I talked about recently Into the Badlands, or that other show, Vikings.
Okay, I don't doubt some women Vikings may have donned a sword and joined their male counterparts on a battlefield, but that doesn't mean they struck down dozens of other Vikings twice their size as if they were nothing more than a box of Cheerios. That is so fake I can't even watch Vikings anymore.
No these strong women are strong because they have to deal with a lot of adversity from behind the scenes. And it's behind the scenes where the camera is rolling. We see the women at home as they prepare for the results of the battles that are being waged in their family names.
As anyone who knows history will tell you, these shows are based on the real life historical events surrounding the War of the Roses, or England's civil wars that occurred five hundred plus years ago. And it was these wars that finally resulted in a joining of the houses of Tudor and York, as the current show, The White Princess details.
Fortunately, England is not ruled by kings or queens nowadays. Nor should it be. Their "kings and queens" are only figureheads now, and have no power whatsoever. Nor should they. Any country who is still ruled by a "king" or "queen" is a backward country still embedded in the dark ages. Several Middle Eastern and African countries are still governed like that. When will these stupid countries which are still ruled by monarchies ever going to grow up and join the modern world?
But I digress. My point is that women can be portrayed as strong characters without running around beating and killing people. Like in Downton Abbey. And in these White Queen/Princess shows. It's refreshing to see it done realistically. And it's a relief that I don't have to watch a woman beating up and killing people by the dozens every time I watch a show. Although that still happens in lousy TV shows much more than I can bear to watch. Sheesh.
Friday, May 5, 2017
I had seen some trailers about the new show American Gods, and although it didn't really prompt me to want to watch it, I went ahead and started watching the first episode when I happened to be channel surfing and came across it. Talk about a show failing to hook an audience, this show's first scene, the Viking scene, was so bad I turned off the TV before the scene had concluded. It was that bad.
At the very start, the show American Gods seemed promising. It opened with a journalist who was writing about the first Vikings who made it to America. Then the scene switched to a Viking ship apparently approaching the Americas for the first time. Certainly, we all know by now that the first non-native Americans to come to America were the Vikings. Evidence has been found that indicates they started a colony on the east coast of Canada. But it wasn't this group of Vikings. And that's because, according to this show, these Vikings were too stupid to do anything right.
Shortly after stepping off the boat, they were met with an avalanche of arrows, all of which embedded a single Viking. He was the one who had taken the first step off the beach. The other Vikings watched with dumbfounded imbecility as all five hundred (or so) arrows impaled the body of this Viking from head to toe. After about ten seconds of this, the dude looked like a porcupine and he fell dead. All the while, whoever it was shooting these arrows was nowhere to be seen. Another Viking took a step forward and another five hundred (or so) arrows embedded the land in front of his foot. At this point I'm thinking, okay, whatever. So, the Vikings got the message and they stayed on the beach with no more desire to explore who or what lay ahead.
By now I'm thinking, really? These are the "brave" Vikings we've all heard so much about? It turned out these Vikings were the dumbest Vikings you ever saw. At this point, they wanted to leave but they couldn't. They were stranded because there was no wind. It was like, what? Really? Was it suddenly the case that Vikings can't row? Don't we all have firmly entrenched in our minds the eternal image of Vikings with oars rowing their ships across unknown waters whether there's wind or not?
Are the writers of this show really expecting their television audience to believe that an entire crew of Vikings forgot they have oars to row their boat? That's an expectation that carries with it the belief that an entire television audience is as stupid as they (the writers) are. And then, after forgetting they have oars to row their boat, what do these brainless Vikings do? To make the wind come back, they each burn out one of their eyes. That's right. Each Viking takes a burning stick and burns out one of his eyes. Yeah, that'll bring the wind back. But it didn't come back. So then the Vikings decide to butcher each other. Of course, the graphic scenes showed heads, bodies and arms chopped off and blood flowing like a water fountain. Yeah, that'll bring the wind. Um...it didn't. So they start burning each other to death. Hooray. That brought the wind and they sailed away.
But they weren't sailing. They were rowing, which is what you might have thought they would have done from the start. I mean before burning out their eyes, butchering each other and burning each other in a bonfire. I turned off the TV at this point. Because my take on this is that anyone who watches this garbage will prove to be more stupid than the show itself, and more stupid than the writers. I won't be among them. Sheesh. And I thought Into the Badlands was bad.
Wednesday, May 3, 2017
Talk about always something. There were a few somethings. Realizing I was on my last chance to make sure the manuscript was as I wanted it to be, I checked out the places I had seen that I thought I might have wanted to write differently, and I made them all just right. That means adding a couple new sentences or partial sentences, and changing some words here and there.
Total changes amounted to 16 I think. Which is about 8 more than before. Literally doubled. So, yeah, now the manuscript is flawless. Until that pesky typo pops up. That's almost a given. But maybe not. After all, Killer of Killers has no typos. But that was after a second edition had to be released. Before that, there were typos and errors everywhere. And that won't do for a perfectionist. As I am. And as a perfectionist, I've made sure that the John Dunn manuscript is perfect. If Dana makes all the changes, that is. I expect that she will. And I look forward to seeing the book in print.
I know that there are a lot of Zulu War enthusiasts out there. They are the British equivalent to the American Civil War enthusiasts. But that doesn't mean there aren't American Zulu War enthusiasts, and enthusiasts from other countries, too. It seems the one country that remains non enthusiast is the country in which the war was fought. South Africa. I suppose there are a lot of reasons for that. None of which I want to discuss here and now.
Because for here and now, what I'm looking forward to is the soon to be released book, John Dunn; Heart of a Zulu. It's a fascinating story, and a terrific read. Can't wait. Look for it in July. That's just a couple more months. But those couple months will pass, and the day will come.
Monday, May 1, 2017
But I happened to notice that Melange is currently featuring something on their website called "Celebrating Kick Ass Heroines". I have blogged so much about that subject, I'm really tired of it by now. Besides, these "kick ass heroines" may not be what the name suggests. Maybe they are not really kicking anyone's ass literally in the stories in which they are featured.
But the term got me to thinking. First let me point out that I have made it abundantly clear that strong female characters exist, and that they are a part of everyday life. I've seen plenty of them in my own real life experiences, many of whom I'm related to, and it's surely true that real life "strong" women have existed throughout history. No question.
But this "celebration" has expressed the "need" for strong female characters in Young Adult Fiction. Really? The "need"? I have been very aware that strong female characters are featured often in Young Adult fiction. Very often. So much so, that perhaps it can be said that strong female characters are featured far more often than strong male characters. At least in Young Adult fiction they are.
I may not be so well read in Young Adult Fiction, but going by the movies that books of the Young Adult genre have become, it sure seems strong female characters are the norm of late. And because of that I think expressing the "need for strong female characters" in Young Adult fiction is a little behind the times, as evidenced by (off the top of my head) Hunger Games, Divergent, Twilight, etc.
Of course there's many more, most of which I'm not familiar with, as I admittedly do not go to the theaters to see these movies, nor do I read those books. But let me make it abundantly clear, as I've already made clear many times, strong female characters do exist and have been fundamental to real life and real history, not just in Young Adult fiction.
The main point of this posting is that I think the celebrators of "strong female characters" should reconsider using the term "Kick Ass". I mean, really? Kick Ass? Have any of these Young Adult authors who want to celebrate strong female characters ever kicked anyone's ass? Ever? Do they want to? I mean do any of these Young Adult fiction authors really want to go kick someone's ass? Do they? Do they really want to see a girl, or a woman of any age get into a physical confrontation that results in coming to blows with another human being? Do they? Have they ever even seen it?
I have. Many times. You see, I'm a teacher in a Middle School, which is right at the Middle Grade/Young Adult level. The kids that I'm around every day from August through June are the target audience of these books that these authors write. And yes, I've seen plenty kids come to blows with each other. And you know what? More often it's the girls coming to blows than the boys.
Now for the lesson you "Young Adult" authors need to learn. It's not a pleasant thing. When these girls fight, they are not "kicking ass." What they are doing is kicking, scratching, pulling each other's hair, and it's a very ugly thing. Let me repeat that. IT'S AN UGLY THING to see young girls fight. So I really hope that these Young Adult stories are not glorifying the concept of "kicking someone's ass!"
As a teacher, of course, it's my responsibility to get them to STOP fighting. Have any of you Young Adult authors ever seen girls fight? Have you ever tried to get girls to stop fighting? It's not easy. You put your own safety at risk. I've seen with my own eyes a girl yank a fistful of hair out of another girl's head. I've seen with my own eyes another girl scratch the skin off another girl's face. I've seen with my own eyes girls tear, scratch, kick, pull, as if they were actually fighting in a combat zone. It's incredible. The viscousness, the brutality, the sheer animalistic, base, instinctive aggression. Did I mention it was downright UGLY? I think I did. I beseech my fellow authors. Do not glorify this.
Do these "Young Adult" authors think that women have to prove that they are strong female characters by running around and beating up other people? Or as their selected term implies, by kicking other people's asses? Is that how people prove how strong they are? By kicking other peoples' asses?
Okay, I already admitted that I didn't read their stories. It could very well be true, that in their stories, their strength comes from strength of will, from strength of character, from strong determination, from unwavering loyalty to an honorable cause, to a strong commitment to a relationship, a friendship or a family. I've used the female characters in the TV show Downton Abbey as a prime example of strong female characters. Every one of the female characters in Downton Abbey, from the Duchess to to the maid, has been a tremendous example of a strong female character.
If you're seen the show, you know them well. Violet, all eighty-plus years old of her, is stronger than anyone else on that show. Then you've got the middle-aged Cora, along with her daughters Mary and Edith, (Sybil, too) the elderly cousin Isabel, and every one of the maids and house servants, from Mrs. Hughes, Anna, Mrs. Patmore, and Daisy. All are portrayed as strong female characters, and not once have any of them lowered themselves to the point to where they had to "kick someone's ass."
Now if the term "kick ass" is just a term used symbolically, that's a different story. I mean you can say "kick ass" but not really mean someone is physically kicking someone's ass. But again, I did not read these stories, so I am not presuming that the characters in these stories actually do go around kicking people's asses. I'm hoping they don't.
I will finish this post by pleading innocence if someone is going to accuse me of being a hypocrite. My own books feature fighting. But the people who fight in my books are not girls or women. Nor are they "young adults." My Melange-published books, Killer of Killers and Killer Eyes feature the world's greatest martial artist. He's a full grown man who was a professional fighter, not some young adult who want to "kick someone's ass." He's on a mission of vengeance, and as the title of the book suggests, he kills killers. Only.
So to be clear. This post is about "young adults." Or Middle Grade-aged people. I'm around them all the time. I don't want to see them kicking anyone's ass. Never again. And I'm quite sure you don't either. I'm quite sure no one does.