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, May 5, 2014

Spider-man 2 is a Good Movie, but...

I saw Spider-man 2 last weekend, and I liked it. It was long, and that's OK when I like a movie. But, this time, it really was too long. One thing about comic book/superhero movies I think is worth criticizing is when they combine multiple stories into one movie. I"m not talking about subplots. I'm talking about using one movie to feature multiple villains. The Batman movies, I think, started this trend, and the Spider-man movies are continuing it.

I think one super villain per movie is sufficient. But when you have two, and sometimes even three, the story gets diluted and unfocused. In the third Sam Raimi Spider-man, we had three villains at once: Sandman, Venom, and Harry Osbourne/Green Goblin. Now, in the new Spider-man reboot, we have Electro and Harry Ozbourne/Green Goblin, combined with some kind of new twist for the Rhino villain thrown in for whatever reason.

On top of that, they seemed to go overboard with the Gwen Stacy story line. And it was too much. I believe they should have made the Gwen Stacy/Green Goblin story a complete movie unto itself. Mixing it in with the Electro character made Electro almost a nonfactor. But Electro should not have been so unimportant. He is a good enough character to be a featured super-villain.

But after saying that, I must point out that the special effects were nothing short of fantastic. Truly the technology of today is well-suited for the superhero genre. I just hope the writing can be on a par with it. We'll see how that goes. But keep it to one villain per movie. That's all.

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