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, November 27, 2016

Dr. Strange - Good Movie

I haven't been a big fan of comic book movies, even though as a youth I had read and even collected some of the comic books, especially those from the Silver Age, which was basically the comics from the 60s.

My main problem with the comic book movies is they usually cast the wrong actors to play the parts, and the movie producers almost always believe they have to change the story lines, or even the premise of the characters that made them popular in the first place.

After Richard Donner's Superman movies, there seemed to be a lull in the comic book movie production until Tim Burton put out Bat Man. The problem with Donner's Superman wasn't the casting, it was that Donner made the movie tongue-in-cheek, or just another kid's show/comedy. It had it's moments, but again, it wasn't really for adults. And as an adult, I was disappointed.

Then when Bat Man came out, Burton, again made it a tongue-in-cheek movie, and of course miscast the main character. Nobody and nobody agreed with his choice of casting Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne/Bat Man. It was unthinkable, but Burton didn't care. He wanted his pet actor.

And unfortunately, Burton set the tone for the following Bat Man movies, meaning they were also tongue-in-cheek and therefore stupid and complete failures. (Until Nolan's Bat Man, that is.)

Then when Marvel finally got into the action, with the X-men, Spider-man, Avengers, etc, they had the same casting problems and the same story line problems, but Marvel got at least one thing right. They were no longer tongue-in-cheek movies. Which for that reason alone, made them far better movies than the DC comics movies.


Dr. Strange from the comics
Which leads me to the most recent comic book movie release. Dr. Strange. Good movie. I enjoyed it. Maybe I enjoyed it more than any other comic book movie. It was that good. The actor Benedict Cumberbatch nailed the part of Stephen Strange/Dr. Strange, meaning he was well cast. And it was nothing close to tongue-in-cheek. It was pretty much right on as far as the story line. I couldn't see anything that had strayed, except for giving the "Ancient One" a sex change.



Dr. Strange from the movie
So, yeah, there they go again. For this ridiculous notion of "political correctness" I suppose, like changing traditionally white characters into black characters over the years, and there are several examples of that, (in Dr. Strange, too, Mordo was a white dude in the comics,) but in Dr. Strange, they also changed a character's sex. In the comics, the Ancient One, from whom Dr. Strange learned the mystic arts, was an older looking Asian man. For this movie, they not only changed his sex, they changed his race. In the movie, the Ancient One is a young looking white woman.

But since the Ancient One dies in the end, I suppose it doesn't matter. And the Ancient One really does die in the comics. So they didn't change that story line. Which means I'm still on board with the Dr. Strange story in the movie.

Can't say the same for the Walking Dead. That show is dead. Don't think it will last another season, if it continues to be as boring and dumb as it's become this current season. But we'll see.

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