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 24, 2016

New Star Trek Coming to TV in 2017


Just learned about the new Star Trek show coming to CBS next year. Right now I have mixed feelings. I say that because usually the powers that control the Star Trek universe fail to recreate the Star Trek universe in movies or TV shows to the same degree of quality as the original. And by that I mean the writing, the stories, and even the characters. I'm sure a lot of people disagree with me. But as an example, I mentioned recently how the Next Generation was a very uninteresting version of the Star Trek universe. I based that opinion on the uninteresting characters and the boring storylines.



Chief among the characters of the Star Trek universe would be the starship captain. The very words are intensely impressive. Starship captain. Wow. And the prototypical starship captain is, of course, Captain James T. Kirk, played to perfection by a thirty-four year old William Shatner. I mention Shatner's age, because when he got older, (once they finally decided to make Star Trek again,) William Shatner didn't seem to "have it" anymore. But that was probably because of the horrible scripts they wrote for those horrible Star Trek movies. So I'll give Shatner a pass on that. (Although one of those horrible scripts was written by him.)

But Shatner's younger version of Captain Kirk was tops of all starship captains that have followed. None have been able to match William Shatner's portrayal of Captain Kirk in the original series. In the Next Generation, Patrick Stewart's Captain Picard was laughable. He was always insecure, always second guessing himself, never conveyed confidence or an authoritative personality. It was like they were deliberately DEBALLING the role of a starship captain. That was Capt. Picard in a nutshell.

In Deep Space Nine, Avery Brooks' Captain Sisko was competent, at least. If it were a quiz, he'd have passed. Brooks made a good authoritative figure, and as a black actor, playing a black captain, I'd say he was cast well. I have no problem with creating a black character. Where I do have a problem is changing the race of an established white character with the belief they are appeasing the black audience. They've done that with several characters from the comics world. It would have been too creepy bringing Captain Kirk back to the big or small screen played by a black actor. Just create a black character. And they did. So that's one thing the Star Trek universe got right.

So with the race card checked off, it was time for the woman card to be checked off, too. Enter Kate Mulgrew and her role of Captain Janeway in Voyager. I've never been a fan of women in combat, nor of women in combat roles. I consider a starship captain a combat role, since starships are futuristic versions of battleships. Yeah, I know the Star Trek universe tried to get away from that with the Next Generation show at first. They tried to make the starships "exploratory" ships, rather than military ships. Thus, the reason for the mealy-mouthed Captain Picard. But it didn't work. The story lines in Next Generation were so horribly boring, they found themselves forced back into the military mindset to keep their ratings up. And it worked with the introduction of the Borg as an enemy of the Federation. If not for the Borg and the militaristic story lines that pertained to them, the Next Generation would have been a complete failure.

As an authoritative figure, Kate Mulgrew's Captain Janeway was convincing enough, but again, not as a starship captain fighting enemy starships in a space war. She'd have been fine as a school principal, or even a captain commanding a non-military vessel. Because in my opinion, a woman is not a commander of men. At least not in a battle or any war time scenario.

Jonathan Archer played by Scott Bakula in Enterprise ranks under Avery. It's another passing grade, but he's light years behind Shatner's Capt Kirk. I didn't see all of the Enterprise TV shows, but even though Bakala's Archer seemed pretty authoritative, he also seemed like the kind of captain who would get his ship blown up. And, hey, that happens, right? Not all captains come back with their ships intact. Archer gives the impression he'd be one of them.

As for bringing Captain Kirk back like they did in the new movies, with a retelling of Captain Kirk in the Star Trek reboot? Ugh. Christopher Pine was a terrible failure. But as was the case with Statner's Star Trek movies, it may not be his fault. The stories sucked. The writing was just horrible and I don't understand it. Why can't anyone out there write a decent Star Trek story anymore? Where's D.C. Fontana? She's a woman, yet she could write a better Star Trek story than anyone since. Go figure.

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