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.



Sunday, June 22, 2014

Tom Cruise's New Movie--Edge of Tomorrow

I've never been a Tom Cruise "fan," but I have still enjoyed some of his movies. I liked the Mission Impossible movies, and I even liked that movie he was in with Cameron Diaz--Knight and Day. Sure there have been other good ones he's been in, and some bad ones. And even though in my mind, he doesn't rank up there with actors like, say, Jason Statham, Vin Diesel, or the great Sean Connery, he has proven to be a capable leading man, and even a capable action hero.

Which brings me to his latest movies. Oblivion and Edge of Tomorrow. Both were good movies, and Cruise, in both movies did a good job. Both movies were good vehicles for him, and he was well cast as the leading character in both. As for Oblivion, even though I said it was a good movie, it wouldn't be one that stands out as one of Cruise's better movies. It had good drama, good acting, and a good romance going for it. But to me it just fell short of something that would be remembered as a stand out movie.

But Edge of Tomorrow, to me, at least, was one that distinguished itself as a stand out movie. It had all of the above traits that I mentioned in Oblivion, but it had one other thing. Intensity. It was an intense movie. Plenty of action, more than Oblivion, and loads of violence, which was necessary since it had to do with a war that was going on. It could even be classified as a war movie, and I always loved sci-fi war movies, ever since I was a kid.

Still, it was the intensity of the story line and in many of the scenes, that stood it out from most other Cruise movies. The concept was pretty original, even though like my brother said to me, it seemed to borrow from three separate shows in the past: Ground Hog Day, Starship Troopers, and an obscure cartoon series that hardly anyone knows about called Exo-Squad.

But I liked it. And I think it's one of Cruise's best movies. His best even. Maybe. He was perfect for the part, and the way it played out, to me, was right on. Any time you have time travel, it could be tricky, but they wrote it well, directed it well, and acted it well.

And it even had a great female war hero. Really? A great female war hero? Anyone who's read my blog for a while will know that I am pretty much turned off by great female war heroes.  Why? Because, to me, females and war, or females and fighting, just don't go together. To me, women are not fighters. They are not warriors, OKAY, there are exceptions. In real life there have been exceptions, and in real life the circumstances allow for exceptions.

But in movies, when you have a female beating up everyone, even every man she goes up against, that turns me off. NO, not because I feel threatened. NO, not because it threatens my masculinity. It's just not realistic to me, and it just goes against the womanly characteristic of femininity. Maybe I'm just a guy who likes a woman to be FEMININE. And fighting, cursing, beating up people, KILLING people...well, that's just NOT feminine.

I don't think anyone can argue with that. But like I said, there are and have been exceptions. Like in a war that encompasses an entire society. I know that Russian women were soldiers during WWII, and I know that Israeli women are soldiers today, and have been for the last several decades. The circumstances called for it. I know that in those circumstances they are forced to put aside their femininity to advance their countries interests, particularly national survival.

And so it is with Edge of Tomorrow. You might ask, so why isn't the war hero in Edge of Tomorrow a MAN. There's an explanation for that. And it's one that I can buy into. It worked. The whole movie worked. And that is refreshing to me, because too many times these movies with a woman hero who's a fighter and a killer, and a physically tough chick in general, just doesn't work. This one did, and the way Tom Cruise's character played into it worked, too. That's all.

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