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.



Tuesday, May 20, 2014

TV's Golden Age Has Returned!

When I was a kid, it seemed like TV was going through a golden age. It was the sixties, and TV shows seemed to be the best shows TV would ever have. And well after those shows had been canceled, I continued to believe that.

You had shows like Gunsmoke, The Wild, Wild West, Batman, Lost in Space, Bonanza, The High Chaparral, The Man From Uncle, I Spy, Get Smart, Have Gun Will Travel, Secret Agent, and of course, the original Star Trek!

I was never one for sitcoms. But there were good ones, nonetheless. The Odd Couple, Bewitched, That Girl, The Monkees, and a slew of others. I didn't watch them, though. Well, I did watch The Monkees once in a while. But my favorite band as a kid was Paul Revere and the Raiders. And even they had a TV show. It was called Where the Action Is, and I thought it was great. But what kid wouldn't think a show was great if it featured their favorite band?

But time goes by, and times change. TV shows get canceled no matter how good they are. Bonanza lasted a long time, Gunsmoke even longer. For it's short run, Star Trek became one of the greatest shows after it got canceled. It sparked several spin offs, beginning with Star Trek, the Next Generation in the 80s. But Next Generation was only a shadow of the original, despite it's longer run. Even the Star Trek movies with the original cast were shockingly bad.

And it's the period of the seventies and eighties when TV took a nose dive, imo. There were probably some good shows, but I didn't watch them. I took a twenty year break from TV during those years. The only exception to that was when TV introduced the Mini Series concept. But I only watched two of them. Roots and Shaka Zulu. Both of those productions were well worth watching. In fact, Shaka Zulu directly ties in with my fourth book, John Dunn, Heart of a Zulu. Because John Dunn became a Zulu Chief during the reign of Shaka's nephew, Cetshwayo.

But when it came to watching with any regularity, it wasn't until the nineties when I came back to TV. Some of the Star Trek spinoffs after Next Generation actually were pretty good. Deep Space Nine and Voyager had some interesting story arcs, and kept me interested. A couple other Sci Fi shows turned out to be good, too. Babylon 5 being the stand out. Never got in to Battlestar Galactica, though. Not the original in the 80s, nor the reboot. It just didn't appeal to me.

But still, the nineties came around, and I loved the tongue in cheek show called The Adventures of Brisco County. It was canceled after a  year, but what a year. The X-Files was pretty good, and some animated shows turned out pretty good, starting with Batman, and then The X-Men, and even Spider-man. And of course, the Japanese animated shows, called Anime, hit the scene and really took off. They lifted the bar, even, and put out droves of series, and even feature films. All of them top notch.

Which brings us to the new millennium. And the latest thing is the now abundant Cable and Premium channels. AMC's Walking Dead has taken TV audiences by storm. And for good reason. It's a great show. AMC has followed up with another show I have come to like. TURN, as they call it. It takes place during the American Revolutionary War. It's a well written show.

And that's not to mention HBO, STARZ, and Showtime. I've talked repeatedly about the Spartacus series, and the actor Dustin Clare, who I think would be perfectly cast as the main character, Trent Smith in my debut novel, Killer of Killers.

And I would be remiss if I didn't mention the mega hit Game of Thrones. Game of Thrones matches the production values of any of the most expensive films ever made. No wonder it's a great show. But there's more. You have DaVinci's Demons, the countless vampire shows, (which I don't watch,) and the new comedy called Silicon Valley, which I started watching because I happen to live in the silicon valley. I thought it might be worthwhile watching a show that takes place in the area where I grew up and still live. It turned out to be hilarious!

And, to me, that's the future of TV. The Cable and Premium channels. With a no holds barred attitude, as clearly demonstrated in shows like Spartacus, and even Game of Thrones, you have productions that can reflect what the artists behind them envision. With no inhibitions regarding violence, sex, or nudity. Anything and everything goes. Sure some shows have taken advantage of that. Namely Spartacus. But that's all right. As long as you're not prudish, it's not a problem. I often criticized Spartacus here on the blog for being over the top in regards to sex, nudity, and violence, but I still loved the show.

It's something to look forward to, really. It seems these channels are in competition with each other, and that's a good thing. It seems they are trying to top each other, and it's working. I can't wait for the future episodes of the shows I'm watching, and I'll be going to On Demand to catch up on the one's I've missed. TV's golden age has returned. And I welcome it.

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