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, January 5, 2016

New Star Wars a Rehash of the Old Star Wars

They call it Episode VII. That is, the new Star Wars, now owned by Disney. Let me start by saying I only liked the original Star Wars, from the seventies. That would be Episodes IV and V. I thought Episode VI sucked. The little teddy bear aliens didn't work for me.

Then you had what they call Episodes I, II, and III in the nineties. And all three sucked. First, there was the unforgivable character, Jar Jar Binks, which destroyed any serious tone the movie might have had. Second, there was the "chariot" race, which was clearly copied from Ben Hur, and finally, there was the poorly written conversion of Aniken Skywalker to the "dark side."

So after a four billion dollar investment, Disney wanted to make something that would mimic the original story from the seventies, meaning the very first Star Wars story. And they succeeded. This new episode, Episode VII, is a rehash of Episode IV. From the lost droid, (R2D2 is now BB-8,) to the farm boy, (which is now a girl) to the Death Star, which is now a Death Planet.

Of course you have the rebellion, which is now the resistance, and you have Darth Vader, who is now Kylo Ren, who is the failed prodigy of an older Luke Skywalker, just as Darth Vader was the failed prodigy of Obiwan Kenobi.

But it was a proven story, as it was the first time, and it's what launched the Star Wars franchise. So Disney didn't gamble on anything new or different. They went with what worked the first time, and clearly it's working again. I believe they've already recouped a billion dollars, which is one fourth of their investment. Not bad. A success by any measure.

As for what did I think about it? Well, I think I just said what I thought about it. It was a rehash. If you were looking for a rehash, then you got it. If you were looking for something new, then you didn't get it. But something new would have been a gamble. I don't blame Disney for not wanting to gamble away four billion bucks.

Interesting how Episodes I, II, and III were mostly dedicated to explaining how the free republic transformed into the evil empire to which we were introduced in Episode IV, and was defeated by the conclusion of Episode VI. Suddenly, in Episode VII, the evil empire is back, but now it's called the First Order. But don't they mean the "Second" Order? Logically, it would be. But I'm not a Star Wars fan, so I don't really care. Always liked Star Trek better. Until the Next Generation happened. And all those terrible Star Trek movies. But that's another post for another day.

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