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, June 3, 2014

Finally a Good Comic Book Movie

I used to collect comics. When I was 12. But I still have pretty much every comic I bought in those days. My favorite comic was The X-Men. And that was my favorite comic before it became the number one comic of all comics.

Sure, I liked Spider-man, the FF, and many more. You can say I was a Marvel Comics fan, not DC. I never really got into Superman, Bat Man or the DC universe. It was Marvel all the way. And the X-Men was my favorite.

So you can imagine I was glad to see it made into a movie. And the first movie was okay. But that's all it was. Just okay. Mostly they got the casting wrong. Hugh Jackman as Wolverine was a great choice, but that's just about the only one who was a great choice. Patrick Stewart as Professor X was just okay, and the rest, totally wrong. I don't need to get into the why and what-could-have-been, because even though the second X-Men movie was a better movie than the first one, the third X-Men movie totally sucked. In every aspect, too, not just casting.

Again, I won't get into the why and what-could-have- been. I will say the fourth X-Men movie--X-Men First Class--was the worst of all. I mean it was as if the people who made that movie never read any of the comics, and knew absolutely nothing about the X-Men. It was a franchise that at this point was getting worse with every successive movie.

Yeah, the two Wolverine solo movies were good. Or at least good enough, imo. But the third and fourth X-Men movies were so bad, it would have been better if they never got made. That's how bad they were.

Which brings me to the fifth one. The one that just came out. X-Men-Days of Future Past. It was good. Surprisingly good. They used a story from the comics, (albeit liberally changed) but the story still worked. And the casting for a lot of the new characters they introduced was passable. Bishop's role in that story was minimal. He had a greater role in the comics. But understandably, they focused on Wolverine, since Hugh Jackman's enormous success in the role has made the character so popular.

But a pet peeve of mine is the usual bad writing. Mostly that happened in those two latter films, but in the latest one, the writing was a strong point. FINALLY. A very strong screenplay and it was pure joy watching it for the first time. I'm sure I'll see it again, and why not? The X-Men had always been my favorite superhero type comic book, and to see it well made was reassuring.

Can't wait to see how they top that. But now, I'm not so pessimistic. I think they will.

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