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.



Monday, June 6, 2016

Interracial Relationships in Stories

Whether it's TV, the movies, or in books, interracial romantic relationships are on the rise. I think that's a good thing. Why? Because despite all the racial divisiveness that seems to be increasing in recent years, I've always believed people are people no matter what color, race, or ethnic origin they are. We're all humans and we all have the same feelings, senses, and basic desires.

That includes romantic desires. And this world is full of people. All kinds of people. Many people look alike ethnically, but of course, not all people do. People have different skin colors and/or different racial traits, etc. My old art professor at San Jose State University used to say in my Life Drawing class, "Variety is the spice of life." He said that because we would have live models posing for us, and they were often of different racial backgrounds.

I was never afraid to sample the "variety" in the human race. As a young man, I was very much interested in dating girls of all races, ethnicities, and skin colors. My own ethnicity is Italian on my father's side, and German on my mother's side, (a mixture of sorts in regards to Southern European vs. Northern European.) As a young man, I dated black women, Mexican women, white women, and Asian women. My art professor was right. Variety is the spice of life.

But what I really learned from all of this is that no matter what race, skin color, or ethnicity women were, they were really all basically the same. That might come as a surprise to some people, but really, a woman is a woman no matter what color her skin. They love the same, they act the same, and they have the same, well,  you know, it's all the same. As I grew older and more experienced, I realized the most important traits a woman could have was dedication and commitment.

I'm not saying that I was perfect. No I wasn't. I made plenty of mistakes. But I finally married a woman from Nicaragua. And twenty-six years later, I"m still married to her. So, yeah, at least I got that one right. But it's not because of her skin color or nationality. It's because she understands commitment. She understands dedication. And she's the mother of my two sons.

But as I was saying, in stories, interracial romance is an increasing thing. I don't watch "Modern Family" on TV, but I understand the guy on that show is also married to a woman of a Hispanic ethnicity. The well known actress Sofia Vergara.

Speaking of well known actresses, the Hispanic actress, Eva Mendes, was Nicholas Cage's romantic interest in Ghost Rider, and has been the romantic female lead in many movies opposite an Anglo male lead. It's perceived as normal. And it should be.

I blogged recently that I was pleased to see a romance develop between the white male lead, Rick in The Walking Dead and a black woman, Michonne. It worked. It sure did. But they really seem to be afraid to further that relationship. You see, they've been captured by bad guys yet again. (Sigh.) And we have to wait another six months for that to be resolved. But once it is resolved, I want to see Rick and Michonne's relationship flourish. I mean I want it to sizzle!

For me, it's encouraging to see the black-white romantic connection becoming more prevalent on TV. It's not new, of course, but it's increasing. Which is interesting to me, since the racial tension in real life is seemingly worsening. You would have thought that with the country's first black president, the black-white divide would have improved. The opposite seems to be the case.

But not on TV and I'm thankful for that. The black male character Diggle from "Arrow" is married to a white woman. The black female character Iris from the show "Flash" was romantically involved with a white man, and in my  upcoming book, John Dunn, Heart of a Zulu, the main character John Dunn is married to fifty black women.

That took place over a hundred years ago, of course, and not in America. It was in South Africa, (Zululand) where polygamy was part of their culture. I understand polygamy is still part of Zulu culture. And when the Zulu king invited John Dunn to live in Zululand, he also gave him Zulu maidens to marry. John Dunn was already married. He was married to a colored woman. In South Africa, a "colored" person is a person who is mixed with black and white. And Dunn's first wife was half white and half black. But after that, he married forty-nine Zulu women.

I would love for the story to be made into a movie or a miniseries like Roots. It's a fascinating story, reminiscent of Little Big Man or Dances With Wolves. But unlike those American frontier stories, the John Dunn story is true. Check out John Dunn - Heart of a Zulu this coming November. You'll see.

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