Will iconic images recorded in the grooves of an ancient vase unite the Holy Land or rip it further apart?


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, December 29, 2015

Nice Plot Twist in Ash vs. Evil Dead

I've made a few comments about the STARZ show Ash vs. Evil Dead, mostly about how I thought Jill Marie Jones would be a good Susie Quinn, but for her age. It's a tongue-in-cheek horror show, a type of genre which I usually do not watch. But because of Bruce Campbell's very entertaining performance in the Army of Darkness movie some years ago, I was interested in catching this long overdue continuation of the story.

Army of Darkness, itself a continuation of the two Evil Dead movies, didn't need to be continued, because it was a self contained story. But it had a cult following, so why not take advantage of that? With Bruce Campbell on board, it turned out to be what you'd expect. The same kind of show, the same kind of humor, and the same kind of over-the-top gore. Which all worked quite well.

The show had another pleasant casting to add to the production. That would be Xena, the Warrior Princess, yes, the one and only Lucy Lawless, who STARZ had just used in its SPARTACUS show recently. Since the Evil Dead producer, Sam Raimi, was also the producer of Xena, Warrior Princess, it made sense to use her in the new Evil Dead series.

Spoiler alert: Don't read further if you haven't seen the last episode of Ash vs. Evil Dead. Okay, I will continue. Seeing as how Lucy Lawless is an accomplished actress, and played an iconic role as a "good guy" in her role as Xena, I was fully expecting her to be another good guy in Ash vs. Evil Dead. She was tracking Ash, and the viewer was led to believe she was going to help him fight the evil dead and save the world. After all, as she demonstrated in Xena, Lucy does have a strong heroic appearance, and even though she played no hero in Spartacus, (which was not produced by Raimi,) I fully expected her to return as a hero in  Raimi's show.

But no. In this past episode she turned out to be the source of all of the evil in the show. You see, the original movie centered around the Necronomicon, or the book of the dead, written centuries ago, and has the power to summon demons. So imagine how thrilled I was when the story took a twist and it turned out that Lucy Lawless was the one who WROTE the book. Apparently, she's an ancient priestess or something from the dark depths of antiquity. So she's not a good guy, she's a bad guy.

Which was a twist I didn't see coming, even though the story did foreshadow it when Lucy's character had fallen into a fire and emerged unharmed. That should have told me something. But no. I was just too used to Hollywood doing their Hollywood thing with their regulars, and expected her to be the serious, (or straight) hero opposite Bruce Campbell's comedic relief.

So kudos to Sam Raimi and his latest incarnation of the Evil Dead franchise. Good job to all involved. Again, I rarely go for tongue-in-cheek type of shows. But tongue-in-cheek stories with Bruce Campbell work every time. He was born for the genre. Thumbs up for Ash vs. Evil Dead.

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