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.
Wednesday, March 14, 2018
And I like the actor J.K. Simmons, who I first saw play the part of J. Jonah Jameson, in the first Spider-man movies. You see him on TV a lot these days as an insurance spokesman on commercials, but he was doing a fine job of acting in Counterpart. He plays two roles - a timid clueless dude on the original earth, but on "the other side" he's a mean, competent spy type dude.
So yeah, that concept was pretty cool. I had some problems with it though even from the start. First of all the story line is BORING. And I really mean it with those all caps btw. Another problem is that the writing so darn LAZY. And the all caps are appropriate there too. Why? They never explain just how the earth got duplicated. It's not like in Star Trek, where other dimensions existed by nature.
I think the whole premise is that earth, or our universe, or our dimension, somehow was duplicated. But they NEVER EXPLAIN JUST HOW THAT HAPPENED. I can only conclude the writers themselves don't even know how it happened. Because at this point the fist season is almost over, and not once have they even tried to explain just how it happened.
So the viewers are just supposed to buy in to the premise that the universe got duplicated. I'm not quite that gullible. I need at least some kind of attempt at an explanation. Even if it's far-fetched. Since they never made that attempt, it tells me the writers themselves are clueless. Perhaps they don't even care. If they don't care, why should the viewers?
And now with this latest episode I've had enough. That means I won't be watching anymore. Like I said, the story line is boring as hell. Another thing is here we go with another bad-ass chick. Yeah, a little 110 pound woman again, is a bad-ass assassin from "the other side" and she can beat up men twice her size and twice her strength.
But even worse, there's a nerd guy who has a wife. And he finds out a duplicate from the other side came over and took over her life, which means his real wife is probably dead. But does he turn her in? No. He says the timid clueless dude, "(J.K. Simmons' part) is the mole, not the fake wife who murdered his real wife. So to that I say bullshit, and I'll call this show what it is. Bullshit.
Bottom line on Counterpart. Good acting from J.K. Simmons, but it's boring as hell, with lazy writing, and bullshit choices by the characters. Not for me. Nor is it for anyone with a brain.
Sunday, March 11, 2018
I was a kid when Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created the world's first black superhero Black Panther. He first appeared as a supporting character in the comic The Fantastic Four. I figure it was Jack Kirby who came up with the concept. But I might be wrong. It could be that Stan Lee told Jack to draw a superhero from Africa, i.e., the first black superhero, and Jack did. I'm content to give them both credit for the concept of the Black Panther and his backstory.
The concept was certainly unique. The Black Panther is the king of a hidden African kingdom, and not just another tribal kingdom, but one that more resembles the advanced technological nations of Europe, albeit, entirely African. And this fictitious nation called Wakanda will have a one-up on the European nations. It will have "vibranium" which is a rare metal from a meteor that landed in Wakanda some years earlier, and provides the means to create highly specialized devices.
For instance, Captain America's shield is made from vibranium. I never really learned just how the Americans managed to get the vibranium from Wakanda to make the shield, since no one was supposed to even know that Wakanda existed. Nevertheless, it's one example of a special something made from vibranium. And the movie came up with a bunch of other stuff as well.
The Black Panther, even as a kid was always one of my favorite superheros. You might ask me why. I'm not black. And I had no special connection to Africa. But there's one thing about me, and it's something that I wasn't taught. And it's something of which I can be proud. Skin color never mattered to me. It just never did. Throughout my youth, in the 60s and 70s, skin color was a non-issue to me even as all the riots and racism, (both white AND black racism, that is,) raged all around me.
To me people were people, and it didn't matter what color was their skin, what country was their origin, or what language did they speak. And to this day I remain the same. And when I see others who do not share that belief, I can only shake my head and consider them with disgust.
Whenever my students happen to bring up skin color or nationality in any negative way, I chastise them immediately. I tell them the same thing I just wrote above. And I ask them why does anyone have to consider people as white people, or black people, or brown people, or this kind of people or that kind of people? I ask them why cant we all just be PEOPLE, and leave it at that? And I can sense that they agree with me. It's a wonderful feeling to sense that from kids.
But for adults, perhaps it's just an impossible thing. Just like it's impossible to get rid of all the guns in this country. It's just an impossible thing. It's the world we live in. And however it goes, I won't be in it for that much longer. But my sons will and their sons. What's in store for them?
Monday, March 5, 2018
Sure, it was good, (as is any movie with Jason Statham,) and Wesley Snipes makes a good bad guy, and he did in this movie too, but there were problems. This movie had too many holes in it. Sure the twist in the end (spoiler alert) did come as a surprise to me, as it turned out that Statham and Snipes were working together the whole time. But since they were former police partners, (and current crime partners) it didn't make sense that Snipes was going off the deep end throughout the movie.
I guess they had to have it that way so Snipes could be killed at the end and Statham gets all the money, but I think the writing could have been better, and should have been better. I would have come away from the movie feeling a lot better if it had been.
Okay, it was a good movie, but look at it this way. Snipes was an ex-cop. Now the movie didn't reveal that until the movie was almost over. So the viewers didn't get a clue as to his relationship to Statham the whole time. Otherwise viewers might have made that deduction. But once it was revealed, it didn't make sense that Snipes was killing people throughout the movie.
He shot a bank teller in cold blood in the beginning. He was killing his other crime partners left and right throughout, or trying to. And he was trying to kill the young hero cop in the end, too. It was predictable the young hero cop prevailed and Snipes bit the dust, but again, it didn't make sense to turn him into a cold blooded killer. He used to be a cop for goodness sake.
So, in the end, the real hero, Jason Statham gets away with all the money, and the viewers are supposed to be pleased, since the viewers are most probably Jason Statham fans, like me. But again, even though I am a Statham fan, and Statham gets away with the money, and lives happily ever after, I would have preferred the end being reached with a more realistic or more believable means to that end. Instead they turned Snipes into a mad dog, and if he hadn't been a cop, maybe I could have bought into that. But he was. So I didn't.
Friday, March 2, 2018
When I was channel surfing today, I came across a Jason Statham movie I hadn't seen yet, called Wild Card, and as I said, hadn't even heard of. So with the wife beside me, I settled down for the evening to check it out on the "On Demand" feature of my TV service.
At first it was kind of slow. I was even thinking I might not last for the duration of the movie. But it picked up a bit, and the climax of the story was such that I ended up thinking this was a movie that might even be one of my all time favorite movies. It's up there with The Transporter, to be sure, and even John Wick, which I thought was a great movie too, albeit with Keanu Reeves as the star instead of Jason Statham, but whatever.
I have had enough of the tough chick movies that have flooded Hollywood lately. Look, I am not a misogynist, I guarantee you. But watching a 5' 2" woman whose 110 pounds, like Scarlett Johansson, beat up dudes who are over 250 pounds like they are nothing more than first graders just doesn't make it for me. A tough guy like Jason Statham is totally convincing however, and is perfect for the role of a tough guy like the character Nick Wild.
But wait, there's more. Nick Wild was not a typical tough guy. He didn't go around beating everyone up in every scene throughout the movie. I was even thinking at one point that the action scenes were far and few between, thus my initial impression that I might not last the duration of the show. But the show was more than just about a tough guy. Because Nick Wild is not just a tough guy. (Although what a tough guy he turned out to be!)
In Wild Card, Nick Wild is a multifaceted personality, very complicated, with strengths and weaknesses, which will satisfy even the strictest critics who pine for multi-dimensional characters. But when it was time for Nick to spring into action, the viewer, (me in this case,) was not dissatisfied. I was thoroughly entertained, and now I have another movie to claim as an all time favorite.
Jason Statham once again cements himself onto my list of all time favorite actors. I would ask the movie gods to please make more movies like this. And I have one in mind. It's called Killer of Killers from a novel written by an author named Mark M. DeRobertis. It even comes with a sequel: Killer Eyes. Who knows. One day it might happen.
Sunday, February 18, 2018
I know from a collector's perspective that that could be a good thing. Collectors have a penchant for collecting things that are not available anymore. And those two books, at least in their current states will no longer be available pretty darn soon. Like I've been saying, I'm trying to get them published with other publishers, but the books of Knox Robinson will soon go the way of the dinosaur, and that means those two books as well.
That's what collectors live for. Collecting rare items. And very soon, KRP books will be just that. The same is true for first editions. And those editions from KRP will soon be the only editions. So just saying. Get them now before they are no more. Because no more editions will be printed. And what's there now is all there will be.
Until further notice I mean. And when they are published again, you can bet they will be better versions. Because I'm improving everything about them at this point. That means The Vase too. Whenever The Vase is published again, it will be a superior book. The writing for all three will be superior. And for me, as an author, that is the most important thing. It's the writing that shows the author's effort. And boy have I put in the effort SINCE the original publication of all three books.
I've been rereading my Killer books lately, too. I'm amazed at how well written those two books are. I wouldn't need to do too much rewriting for those. A few dialogue tags could be eliminated and perhaps a word here and there but that's about it. I'm glad for that. We'll see how things go.
Saturday, February 3, 2018
Yeah I know my chances are slim. But I am confident in the overall quality of both books. Meaning the writing in both is top notch and the stories are top notch. After ten years of taking novel writing seriously, my writing has evolved to the point that exceeds most novel writers out there at this time. I'm not saying I'm the best writer in the world. But I'm a lot better than many.
So that means the writing is good enough. More than good enough. As for the stories? Let's take a look. Let's start with The Vase. Here is a story with a premise that has never before been used in any kind of story anywhere. In no book, movie or TV show has the premise of a story included ancient recordings. That's because in ancient times, recording was not possible. Well, of course recording was possible in the form of ancient writings. Like the Bible, and the writings of ancient historians. We've all heard of Herodotus, Thucydides, Tacitus, and the like. They "recorded" the ancient events of their times. But they recorded those events in the only way possible back then. In writings.
But I'm talking about recordings as we know recordings today. AUDIO and VIDEO recordings! And I'll say it again. No book, movie, or TV show has featured ancient AUDIO and VIDEO recordings of ancient events ever. Because it wasn't possible to do that back then.
But wait. If the atmospheric conditions were such that electromagnetic phenomena were happening at the time, then audio-video recordings just might have been possible in the grooves of a spinning vase. And once that vase had been fired in a kiln, and became eternal bisque-ware, then those recordings could possibly survive the millennia to this day.
And that's the premise in the story of The Vase! (And it's why the book is called The Vase!) I can't fathom how any editor or publisher couldn't find that concept fascinating. It's why so many publishers offered me contracts when I first proposed the book. At least five publishers were interested in publishing that book. Unfortunately, none of the publishers were Big Five publishers, so no Big Five publisher was aware of it. Back then you needed an agent to submit to a Big Five publisher. Alas...
But I'm not a newbie to publishing anymore. I'm savvy to the ins and outs of publishing and now I have this opportunity to submit to some Big Five publishers. And it's all for the better. I mean after so many years, I've become a better writer, as I was saying. And with another chance to improve the prose that's just what I've done. And of course it makes the chances of being accepted by a Big Five publisher so much greater.
The same thing is true with John Dunn; Heart of a Zulu. Here is another fascinating story, maybe more so because the story is actually TRUE. It's based on the true story of John Dunn and features the real historic events of the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879. And I know a lot of people are interested in that war. Also, the genre speaks for itself. Readers love historical fiction, and even more people love historical fiction which is based on a true story. And the John Dunn story is underrepresented in books. There have been a couple, but they are out of print and the current supply of books offers next to nothing in the way of the John Dunn story. Thus, the timing of the John Dunn book is just right.
Here's hoping that Macmillan or Penguin Random House will see it that way too. I know the writing and the stories are excellent. I'm hoping the editors of Macmillan or Penguin Random House will agree and I'll have some good news in about three months. That means I should know something by this coming May. Fingers crossed.
Wednesday, January 31, 2018
That doesn't mean writers who aren't published by the Big Five aren't successful and haven't "made it." After all, the best example of that is J.K. Rowling whose Harry Potter series of books were all turned down by the Big Five publishers. She was published by an independent publisher, and look at her now. I'm sure they're kicking themselves at this point.
So I'll get Heart of a Zulu submitted to Macmillan by next Monday. Can't wait. The Vase is submitted to Macmillan and Penguin Random House at this point. I am very confident in both of those books. But still, it's an uphill battle for me. After all. I'm an unknown. With no connections. With no relatives or friends in the publishing business, and no celebrity status whatsoever. That's not a good combination when looking for success in the publishing world. Still you try. Or you quit. Take your choice.