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.




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...

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Taken, the TV show - Bullshit

So I was a big fan of Liam Neeson's movie franchise Taken, until Taken 3, that is. Liam Neeson makes for a great tough guy, ex CIA agent Bryan Mills, and the show's first two movies were right on. In fact, at the end of movie 2 it had set up a third movie. It went something like this: The sons of the Albanian father Neeson was about to kill would come after him. "For sure," the father said. After which Neeson's Mills character says, "Then I'll kill them too."

Okay. All set for Taken 3. But what happens in Taken 3? None of that. It was as if someone from CAIR complained that the heavies were Muslims. Never mind they were Eastern European Muslims, and not Arabs, just the fact that they were Muslims seemed to be enough for the franchise to drop them as heavies. Instead they made up a complete bullshit story line about Mills' ex-wife's current husband as the new heavy.

To that I say, WTF? Which leads me to the Taken TV show. I had not watched it for the same reason I never watched the Transporter TV show, nor did I bother watching the 4th installment of the Transporter franchise, because it was sans Jason Statham. And it was Statham who made that show, so without him, forget it. I wouldn't bother.

But my wife and I were searching for something to watch, so we went to Netflix and gave the TV show of Taken a try. The first two shows were okay. Only okay. Cllive Standen plays the main character of Bryan Mills, and he's no Liam Neeson, not even close. Worse, they changed the Bryan Mills character completely. He's a young guy, now and not a former CIA agent as Neeson's Bryan Mills was in the movies. Instead, he's a former soldier who served in Afganistan and Iraq. Yeah, he's still a badass, but not quite the same kind of badass. He's more of a sniper type of badass. Still I was able to stomach it at first. It was watchable.

It was the third show where the bullshit came in. As if in deference to CAIR, they have an Iraqi immigrant, (Muslim, of course) be the victim of an AMERICAN terrorist group. (Terrorists planning to kill Americans, that is.) Say what? Yeah, they kidnap the innocent Iraqi man so as to frame him for a terrorist attack against Americans, so the American politicians will up American's involvement in the wars in the Middle East. And then we had to watch a Muslim woman, the man's wife, decry how persecuted she is in this "terrible, racist, Islamophobic" country of intolerant Americans where she suffers from fear every single day. Yeah, right.

To set the record straight, I have no problems with Iraqis. I have had friends from Iraq. They are great people, (like any people,) and not once has any of them relayed to me how they live in fear everyday from the terrible American citizens among whom they live.

I know about the horrible incidents, like Oklahoma and Las Vegas, and several other homegrown horrors that have happened in this country. But that happens in every country, and it has been happening throughout history in every country. But to ask me to watch Americans as terrorists is not agreeable to me. And because of that I say the Taken TV show is Bullshit. That's all.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Jason Statham in a Shark movie?

It seems that Jason Statham is a hot commodity right now and he's even getting roles that are not his usual genre. It will be interesting to me to see him as something other than a great fighter who kicks ass, but I am wary because he might be out of his comfort zone.

Now it's true that a great actor can excel in any genre movie and in any role. That's what makes an actor great. But the reason I liked Jason Statham so much as an actor is because he's a real fighter, really trained in martial arts, and has even competed in the Olympics, albeit as a diver. He was even a real race car driver, too.

So when you see Statham in the action movies, it's real. And it doesn't hurt that he is in top movies with top writers, directors, and producers.

So this new movie is called The Meg, which I'm assuming is short for Megalodon, which is a prehistoric shark. And if it is indeed a megalodon, then that is a very intriguing premise for a movie. Megalodons were giant sharks that make the great white shark of "Jaws" fame look like a minnow.

As for Statham's role, he's a deep sea rescue diver and the hero of the show. Well, it suits me. I'll be looking forward to seeing Jason Statham in a new movie, but instead of fighting bad guys, he'll be fighting a megalodon, and in it's own element, (the ocean), which I don't think will be an easy task at all, considering that megalodons were indeed quite monstrous.


Here's an artist's rendering of a megalodon, and from what I've read, it can be as big as 60 feet long. And I do believe those are whales it's getting ready to chomp on. So this should be a great movie, considering today's special effects are really really good.

I mean they made Jaws look good and that was with 70's technology. Think about the Jurassic Park movies, and how they made those dinosaurs look real. Now we'll be treated to some great visuals of a megalodon. Yikes.

Here's the difference between a great white shark's tooth and a megalodon's tooth. So, yeah, I'd say that Jason Statham will have his work cut out for him. To say the least. And no pun intended.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Another Jason Statham Homerun

Hands down, Jason Statham is number one. One day it might have been Sean Connery. Another day it was Burt Lancaster. Then it was Vin Diesel. But lately and still running strong, for me, at least Jason Statham is the number one movie star.

Just saw another Statham movie I hadn't seen before. It's called Parker. And it was fantastic. I mean I haven't seen a Statham movie yet that I haven't liked. They are all great. I remember seeing Wild Card recently and I raved about it. Chaos wasn't as great as Wild Card, but it was still good. But this movie Parker, was just as great as any of them. I mean just as great as The Transporter franchise, and The Mechanic. It was super great even.

And as a bonus, Jennifer Lopez was in it. Still in her prime too. I never have been a JLo fan, but she was fantastic in this movie. I was so relieved that I didn't have to watch her beat up ten men all at once, like Hollywood has been forcing me to do the last few years. No. JLo was a real estate agent. Just an ordinary real estate agent. Albeit a very pretty one, but I've seen pretty real estate agents before, so it's not as unbelievable as a pretty FBI agent.

JLo's part was great. And you know what? I have not seen a JLo movie since she starred as Selena years ago. She was good in that, but I haven't seen her in anything else. So watching her in a Statham movie was interesting to me. And she was great. I mean her acting was great. She played the part super great. Statham was great as always, but so was JLo. She was great.

So glad the movie makers left the fight scenes to Statham, though. Yeah, JLo had a brief moment of action when she found the gun Statham had stashed under the table, but it was all believable. All of it. Totally believable. And that's what I appreciate. Believable.

Because when I see a 5' 2" 110 pound woman beating up men who are twice her size, and then two, three, four, five and six all at once, it is just not believable, and the movie for me is no longer enjoyable. It's trash at that point.

I can believe a woman holding her own, MAYBE, against a single male antagonist, that is, if the woman is highly trained, and the male antagonist is not as trained. But if a woman, even a highly trained woman goes up against a like-trained male opponent, she just won't have a chance. At all. That is not a misogynistic opinion. It's a fact.

Look at it this way. If Ronda Rousey (who is a highly trained female fighter) were to go up against a male fighter, who is similarly trained, she would get destroyed. And that's just life. So if any women are offended by this, they shouldn't be. It's just the way it is.

So back to Parker and why it was so great. The fighter was Jason Statham. The real estate agent was Jennifer Lopez, and both were terrific. And btw, kudos to the Parker character for staying true to his girlfriend and resisting the romantic advances of JLo. That is a man of integrity. And a man of honor. It was terrific to see that. It was a terrific movie. Parker. What a show.


Thursday, March 29, 2018

Limitless - the movie- Even Better

So I watched Limitless the movie the other night and it was better than I had hoped. Of course, the actor, Cooper Bradley was hands down the best actor considering performances by actors, but that should have been expected. After all the guy's an "A" list actor these days. And he was terrific as the main character who becomes Senator Mora in the short-lived TV series of the same name.

But it's the first show of the Limitless franchise, so I had to see it. Now that I have, I'll enjoy Limitless the TV series even more. At least Cooper Bradley has some cameo appearances in some of the episodes. You never really know when he'll show up, but when he does, he lifts the show miles higher than it already had been. He's just that kind of presence.

I remember first seeing Cooper Bradley in that movie Silver Linings Playbook. You know, the movie in which he co-starred with Jennifer Lawrence. It was Jennifer Lawrence who won the Oscar for best actress in that movie. I don't think Bradley even got nominated. But you know what? He should have been not only nominated for best actor in SLP, he should have won it. Not Lawrence.

Because Jennifer Lawrence didn't even act in that movie. She was always possessing the same demeanor throughout the movie. Not like Bradley's character. Bradley's character underwent a plethora of different mood swings. He played a man with special needs, although that's not to say he was handicapped really, he just had some emotional issues. And to act out those emotional swings took a great performance and Bradley delivered.

Lawrence's character had the same facial expression throughout the movie. It was like her character was stuck on morose mode throughout the story line. She didn't smile, she didn't laugh, she didn't cry, she didn't do anything. So how was it that she won best actress for a part in a movie she didn't even have to act in is beyond me. I guess she's just Hollywood's latest darling. You know the type. Usually they're the ones who make you sick.

(By the way, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos was a far superior Mystique than Jennifer Lawrence was. Why the X-Men franchise changed from Romijn-Stamos to Lawrence for the part of Mystique is beyond me. Oh, wait, it's not beyond me. Lawrence is Hollywood's new darling, I already had that figured out. Too bad. I'll take Romijn-Stamos over Lawrence as Mystique any day.)

But I digress. Limitless was yet another example of a terrific acting performance from an actor who is quickly joining my list of favorite actors. They include Jason Statham and Vin Diesel (of late) and Sean Connery, Burt Lancaster, and Kirk Douglas (of the old days.) But even better was the writing was superb. Yeah, I had a couple minor issues with it, but by the end of the movie I was stoked. It was a great ending, leaving you feeling great. Not like those stupid movies that end making the viewer feel like shit. I hate those movies. But Limitless wasn't like that. I was feeling terrific when it ended. I might even go buy the DVD. (or Blue ray.)

So, here's to Cooper Bradley. To me one of the best actors out there today.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Limitless - Quite Good!

It's still a slow phase for me in the publishing world. So I'm using this time to comment on some shows I've seen, both on the big screen and the small.  I'm not a movie goer much anymore, so the small screen has held most of my attention when it comes to viewership. And I've been critical of much of it, (with the big screen too btw.)

But I can make some positive comments about a show I've been watching recently. Limitless. It came out a couple years ago, I think, and it's based on a movie of the same name, which I never saw. I never watched the series either, but now with the Netflix connection, I can watch it without those hated commercials, and whenever I want. And I like it. Unfortunately there's only one season but there's a lot going for it.

First of all, it doesn't feature a woman as the main character as so many shows do nowadays. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But for me at least there comes a point when I want to see a man as the hero again. Let me stress I am not a misogynist or a chauvinist. But when every show (well almost every show lately) both on the big and small screen features a woman as the hero, and the men are all incompetent second fiddles to her heroism, it gets tiring.

So Limitless has a male hero. But of course he's not really a hero, because the main character is a college drop out and a drug user, which I don't think much of either really. But whatever. He takes a pill and can use 100% of his brain. He's the only one who can do that because some senator played by Cooper Bradley, (who's an actor I like) provides him with a monthly shot to counter the side effects. But the premise is the FBI doesn't know he is getting those shots. They think his immunity to side effects is something normal in him. I've since learned that the senator was the original user of the drug from the movie. I'll have to check out that movie sometime soon.

But even though those premises I just described are really things I don't agree with, I like the show anyway for another reason. A simple and basic reason. It's entertaining. The actor really nails his part. And the writing for each show I've seen so far is outstanding. I'm about midway through season 1 right now, (which seeing as how it's only one season, that means I'm halfway through the entire series.) But whatever, so far so good.

I just watched the episode where Brian Finch has put together his own team, and it at first seemed like a light-hearted story. But it turned out pretty heavy. It had some serious drama, and I thought it was realistic. But that depended on the viewer buying in to the character's boyish behavior, which I do, because a lot of dudes are like that in real life. So yeah. It's believable.

I also like the female lead. She's the FBI agent in charge of Brian and they cast the right actress for the part. Why? Because she's not a beauty queen. Most actresses they hire to play FBI agents or female cops are total lookers. I mean they could be models or, well, beauty queens. But FBI agent Rebecca Harris, played by Jennifer Carpenter is not a beauty queen. She looks like, well, she looks like a female FBI agent. so there you go.

Anyway, I'm not surprised that a TV show I like only lasts for one season. I'm still surprised The Blacklist is sill going strong. (Although I'm hearing rumors about that one being cancelled soon.) But for the moment, I'll be enjoying what's there. And it is what it is. Enjoyable.