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.



Monday, April 28, 2014

Black Sabbath Concert Was Great

Saturday, April 26th, Black Sabbath, the British rock band that began in the late 60s, performed at the Hollywood  Bowl down in Hollywood, California. And I was there. I mentioned last Friday that I was going to be there, and that I would post a review of that concert.

Well, as always, Black Sabbath put on a great performance. Ozzy sang well, (he even did his classic leaps!) Lead guitarist Tony Iommi, the inventor of Heavy Metal, was as great as ever, bassist Geezer Butler was in fine form, and new drummer Tommy Clufetos was nothing short of incredible.

I first saw Black Sabbath live back in 1975, (the Sabbath Bloody Sabbath tour,) and they were great back then, and now, forty years later, they are still just as great. I also saw their 76 tour, (Sabotage,) the 77 tour, (Technical Ecstacy,) and the 78 tour, (Never Say Die.) Then I saw them twice with Ronnie James Dio, (Heaven and Hell and Mob Rules.)

I saw them reunite in 98, and then I went to every Ozzfest that featured the reunited Black Sabbath as the headliner band. I saw them again last August, (the 13 tour,) and finally last Saturday, (their final performance in America for the 13 tour.) I can't count off hand how many times that has been, but it's a lot. But every single time it was a great performance. Every time.

They performed a good mix of their older famous songs, and then three songs from their newest album, which they call 13, because of the year they released it, 2013.

And even though they are in their mid 60s now, they still rock. From their first album, called Black Sabbath, they played the song called Black Sabbath, along with N.I.B., and Wall of Sleep.

From Paranoid, they played War Pigs, Iron Man, Paranoid, Rat Salad, and my personal favorite, Fairies Wear Boots.

From the Master of Reality album, they played Into the Void and Children of the Grave.

From Volume 4, they played Snowblind, Under the Sun, and a snippet of Supernaught, which they combined with Rat Salad.

From Sabbath Bloody Sabbath they played a snippet of the title song, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, before they broke into Paranoid.

From Technical Ecstasy, they played Dirty Women.

And from 13, they played God Is Dead?, End of the Beginning, and Age of Reason.

This is not the order in which they played the songs, though. I put them in the order of the albums the songs are from.

Only the albums Never Say Die and Sabotage were not represented, but that's OK, since the performance lasted a good two hours, and I've never seen them play longer than that. Time is the only thing that interferes with their concerts, and the fact that it has to end at all, is the only thing bad about being at a Black Sabbath concert.

But I do have one concern. Bill Ward. The band's original drummer, and one fourth of the original band is no longer a part of Black Sabbath for reasons they never clarified. They brought in Ozzy's drummer, and even though he was fantastic, I'm a stickler for tradition. I wish Bill was there. But that's in a perfect world, and the world we live in just isn't.

Nevertheless, they were great as always, and here's hoping they stay healthy and put out another album. If they do, they are sure to tour again. If they don't, then I'll be even more glad that I made this concert. Had I not, then I'd be regretting it for the rest of my life. I have enough regrets already without having to add to that list.

Long live Black Sabbath.

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