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.



Friday, March 31, 2017

What about the Zulu Roles?

In yesterday's post I playfully considered actors who could play the roles in the John Dunn story. I focused on the main characters John Dunn and Catherine Pierce. But what about the Zulus? After all, they're main characters too. Especially King Cetshwayo, his brother Prince Dabulamanzi, and the Zulu general Utshingwayo. And when it comes to black characters in the story, there aren't just Zulu characters, there are also non-Zulu black Africans who have major roles, like Dunn's black friends Xegwana and Lokotwayo. And many more.

Djimon Housou could be a good fit
as the Zulu general Utshingwayo

I figured if there were to be a movie about this story, it would be filmed in Zululand, like the movies Zulu and Zulu Dawn, and the TV miniseries Shaka Zulu. All were filmed on location, and all featured African actors. So I figure this movie or show would also employ African actors rather than black American actors to play the parts. And I also figure that would be fitting.

But I do have some suggestions. Firstly, I've always liked Djimon Hounsou, who I first saw in Ridley Scott's Gladiator movie. Everything he's been in, he's been great. He's Beninese, which is not South African, but still, it's African. And since he's an older dude now, (age 52) I suppose he could play the part of one of the older Zulus in the story, like Utshingwayo, who was the older general who led the Zulus to victory in the battle at iSandlwana.

And what about King Cetshwayo?  I might suggest David Oyelowo.  He's actually English, but he's the son of Nigerian parents. So that's close enough to being African, I would say.


David Oyelowo could be right
as King Cetshwayo

And if you've seen any photos of the real Cetshwayo, there's a resemblance here. The only problem is that David Oyelowo is listed as being 5' 9" tall. The real King Cetshwayo is said to be a pretty big dude, like around 6' 2". That might not bode well, especially if David Oyelowo is cast beside Henry Cavill as John Dunn. And since Henry Cavill is 6' 2", then that means he'd be noticeably taller than David. That wouldn't be right. I think Hollywood could fix that, but  I'd rather have an actor who was closer in height to the real Cetshwayo. Other than being the right height, the actor must exude a kingliness about him. He must emanate royalty. I'm not sure David here does that.

 

Hisham Tawfiq could play any of the
other roles in the John Dunn story. But I think
Lokotwayo might be the best role for him.

There is another black actor I happen to like. Hisham Tawfiq. Unfortunately, Hisham is not African, he's American. I've only seen him in the TV show  Blacklist. Yeah, I'm talking about good ol' Dembe -- Red Redington's bodyguard. He's great in that show, in which he plays an African. So I would have no problem for one of the many black roles to go to Hisham Tawfiq. He might be right for the role of Prince Dabulamanzi, or maybe Lokotwayo or even Xegwana. All three roles would be major roles in the story I wrote, and all were major players in the John Dunn story in real life.

Sure there's many more black roles in the story. There's the aged Masipula who any aged black actor could handle. There's Masipula's son, Sigodi. Sigodi's friend Mkasona, and the list goes on. Here's hoping I can rethink all of these roles. That is if a BBC movie producer decides to revisit the Zulu story. It's not unprecedented. I've already pointed that out. Stay tuned.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Now That John Dunn's Story is Rolling...

An 1860s lithograph
of the real John Dunn
...who would be the actors should it ever become a movie. Well that would be determined by WHEN it comes to the big screen. As of now, I've pegged Henry Cavill as the best actor to play John Dunn. The photo below of a bearded Henry Cavill proves he has the look which nails the part. I might have pegged Halle Berry as Dunn's wife, Catherine Pierce, because Catherine Pierce in real life was half white and half black, as is Halle Berry. And I think Halle could have been as perfect for the role as Cavill would be as Dunn. But alas, time stops for no one and Halle is too old for the part at this time.

Henry Cavill with a beard
Perfect for the role of John Dunn
Candice Patton in her prime right now
Perfect for the role of Catherine Pierce
So what other actresses are half white and half black, but still in their prime? Well, I can think of one right off the bat. Candice Patton. She's half and half, and you know what? I think she would be perfect for the part as well. And I really think Henry Cavill is a better match for her than Grant Gustin who plays her boyfriend on the Flash TV show. Gustin looks too nerdy for a lovely woman like Patton. But whatever.

Just think. Henry Cavill with Candice Patton. What a great couple they would make in any TV show or movie. And the John Dunn story would be the perfect vehicle for them.

 Will it happen? Who knows. Probably not in my lifetime. I have found that most white people in England and South Africa don't like John Dunn. They consider him a "gunrunner", meaning he supplied the blacks in Africa with guns. Much like white Americans revile the white "gunrunners" from the American west -- the dudes who sold guns to the Indians.

So John Dunn remains a misunderstood historical character. Never mind that he actually helped the British win the Anglo-Zulu War. He was a hero to both the British and the Zulus. Talk about a man who played both sides. He did, but he didn't really mean to. He tried his best to help everyone, black and white. Can't explain it here. You'll have to read the book. It comes out in July. Stay tuned






Tuesday, March 28, 2017

And Let There Be Editing

It was perfect timing. My publisher, Dana, emailed me this morning, advising me that my John Dunn book was next in line for editing and that she needed the latest version of the manuscript by the end of the day. Well, the good news was that I was right at the wrap up stage of my final read-through and revision. So I was happy to let her know that I would indeed send it by the end of the day, which I just did.

It's been a long time coming. But I was glad for that. There was so much to check on, regarding the time period and all the elements involved with a real life historical story, like Victorian England, and Colonial rule, and the British Empire, et al. And then the African colonies, and the Zulus and John Dunn's relationship with Cetshwayo, and it's all so fascinating!

But it's done. At least my part at this time. Like I said, the timing was perfect. And Dana has it now. I suppose that since she wanted it by the end of today, the editing will begin tomorrow. And going by how things went for my first KRP book, Second Chance, the editing should take less than a week. That means by next Monday or Tuesday, I'll have it back to incorporate whatever editing she might require.

And again, going by the last book, it won't be too much. But this book is a lot bigger than that one. It's almost twice as many words. But it's also mostly a true story. So who knows what changes she'll require. I don't expect too many, since I put in tireless work up to this point. But the ball is rolling, and I think an advanced eBook copy will be available by the end of April.

I worked so hard on this book. Harder than any other book. Historical Fiction is a genre I love. And now I've finally written a book in that genre. Can't wait to see it in my hands. Here's the cover. My only regret is that I didn't use my own artistic talent to illustrate a cover. Maybe I will one day. In the meantime, this one will have to do. It could be that the mask is symbolic. You know, a white man, being a Zulu. Yeah, it sounds a little too esoteric, but whatever, dude. Just go with it.

John Dunn; Heart of a Zulu
Coming this summer

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

New Publication Date Revealed

John Dunn; Heart of a Zulu will be published in July. That was the news I received yesterday from my publisher. I will keep everyone who reads this blog advised as the events unfold. As of now, I'll be expected to have the manuscript ready by this week, so that editing may occur. Revisions are supposed to be completed by the end of May. That is revisions suggested at the time of editing. And then in May, I believe advanced Kindle copies will be available for anyone who wants to be a reviewer.

I look forward to all of it. And now more than ever am I glad that I've been spending these last few months going over and over the manuscript, improving the prose, improving the authenticity, and improving every aspect of the story line. That means timelines, travel times, and anything else that has to do with consistency, and all of it equally important.

I hope to send the completed manuscript by this weekend. And then sometime in April, I'll be getting the edited version to revise as per editing suggestions. And you, the readers of this blog will be privy to the entire process. Stay tuned.


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Walking Dead walked on by

After cheering The Walking Dead in a recent post, I must say, those cheers have come to a screeching halt. Meaning what I wanted to see more of was abruptly stopped. Last Sunday's episode had nothing of Rick and Michonne, not even a follow up to what they went through in that last episode.

Instead we see Carol, who's a good character, but not in any role we saw last Sunday. And we see Morgan acting totally unlike the Morgan the show had taken years to develop. He was a man who was against killing. To a fault. Meaning he would rather risk his life and the lives of his friends than make the difficult decision to kill. And we've seen the results often as a result of his attitude, yet his attitude never changed. But now, not only does he kill someone, he kills a friendly. Not an enemy, like one of the "Saviors" but a fellow inhabitant of the community in which he lives.

Forget the reasons. Sure there were reasons, but never mind them. The fact is he did a 180 and now he kills. For the upcoming war? Okay, I get it. There's an upcoming war, and it's overdue. The show will probably give us fodder, or fillers until they finally get around to making it happen. The show  has gone to great lengths making the audience hate the Negan character, so I have to believe we'll get to see Negan get what's coming to him and then some.

So until it does, we'll have to bear with filler episodes like last Sunday. Maybe I should have called it quits. Too bad I'm not so easy to quit. Maybe I should be. We'll see.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Last Word on Person of Interest

So I've caught up with Person of Interest. All five seasons. Well, maybe I should say all four and a half seasons because season five only had 13 episodes. The last time I wrote about it I was still new to the series. Now that I've seen the entire series my opinion will be more comprehensive.

I had been comparing it to Blacklist, and I liked Blacklist better. I still do. I've seen all the Blacklist there is to see. It's in the middle of season four right now. But PoI is done, and I was left disappointed. That's not unusual. I seem to be disappointed frequently with TV shows and movies.

Those few movies that did not disappoint, like The Transporter, John Wick, Jason Bourne, and the Riddick movies, were perfect. They didn't disappoint. All went as it should have. That doesn't mean I wouldn't have written some of them differently. I probably would have. But those aren't my babies. My baby is the Trent Smith Killer of Killer stories, which are now available in two novels.

Ultimately, PoI was a disappointment and a huge one. I remember saying that PoI was a two man show, and I seemed somewhat critical of the show for that reason.

Well, they answered that criticism and made it a two woman show. Um, that wasn't what I was talking about when I criticized it. Being a two woman show made it worse. Far worse. And for the reasons I've been making clear often on the blog. If the women were like the women on Downton Abby, then fine. But no. They replaced the tough guy Reese with two "tough guy" chicks. And it was very unbelievable. They were asking their audience to believe a 5 foot, 3 inch, 110 pound Sarah Shahi playing a 5' 3" 110 lbs Sameen Shaw could beat up ten dudes all at once. And by ten dudes, I'm not talking about ten street thugs. She's beating up dudes who themselves were supposed to be top fighter dudes, like Navy Seal dudes, and such.

It was the epitome of phony. And I will deny any accusations of sexism or chauvinism. Strong female characters exist. I admit it. Downton Abby is not the only example. The show Outlander featured a strong female character, remember? Who's to say Claire was not strong? She sure was. But she didn't have to prove how strong she was by beating up ten dudes all at once. Or even one dude. She didn't go around beating anyone up. She didn't go around killing anyone. But she was strong, and she was the main character of the show, too, I might add.

PoI shoved both Harold Finch and John Reese aside, and featured Root, played by Amy Acker, and Shaw as the new stars of the show. It was during season two. And since then, through seasons three, four and five, the show sucked. I mean...it sucked bad. I had to force myself to sit and watch Shaw outdo John Reese in fighting and beating people up, and killing the bad guys, or shoot them in the knees. John Reese is 6' 2" and 220 lbs, yet he's upstaged by the 5' 3" 110 pound Shaw in toughness. That just didn't work.

I noticed that the show took a nose dive in popularity when all this started to happen. So it's not just me. And it explains why the show was cancelled midway through season five. It couldn't even last the full final season. They just cut it off, and I don't blame them. It was a show that was dying.

But it didn't have to die. Why did they go with the feminist thing? I don't have anything against feminism, really. But I've blogged many times that women don't have to go around beating people up and killing people to prove how strong they are. And I've also raised the point that women don't want to see that either. It's not what makes women tick. And I'll bet anyone that I'm right. The fact that PoI lost popularity, fell in the ratings, and got cancelled proves I'm right.

But it's like I've always known. The people who have the power to do the things the rest of us wish we could do, are the worst ones to do it. They always make mistakes, and they never learn from their mistakes. Like with PoI. When the two "tough chicks" were the stars, PoI fell in the ratings. But did they learn? No. They kept it up, and then the popularity was gone. Then it's cancelled. Anyone with a brain could have figured out the problem. But their brains were in short supply. Too bad.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Kong-Skull Island OK

I did not really want to go see Kong-Skull Island, but it was my younger son's birthday weekend, and he wanted me to take him to see that movie. I relented. As for action adventure movies, it was okay. But it had so many holes in it, and the writing could have been so much better. I left the movie thinking if the producers, director, and writers wanted to, they could have made that movie into a movie to be remembered. As it was, it won't be.

As far as King Kong movies go, I'd rank it with that forgettable Kong movie from the seventies. Peter Jackson's King Kong still rates as the best, imo, followed by the original from the thirties. And to me, those are the only ones worth seeing. Like I said, the other two are forgettable.

Now for an evening with your son, this latest one was okay. I don't believe I wasted my money. It would have been a waste had I seen it alone, but time spent with your son is never wasted, and so...

As for holes, they were too obvious. The first one that struck me, is the ship had four helicopters on the deck, and it was all that would fit. The next thing you see, is over a dozen of them flying toward Skull Island. It's like, wait a minute... Where did all those extra copters come from?

Then when Kong suddenly appears, he throws a strike from a distance. Meaning a tree comes from out of nowhere and lands a bull's-eye into the lead copter. Then Kong himself jumps out of nowhere and starts swatting the copters out of the sky like mosquitos.

Okay, it can be argued the copters are caught by surprise, and Kong gets two or three of them. But do the others recover from their shock and fly beyond his reach? Why, no, they don't. They start circling around him firing their machine guns at him. You might say that's what they should do. If that's what you say, then you're not so smart. What I would say is get those choppers beyond arm's reach of the big ape. Surely, soldiers know that machine guns have a long range. But instead of flying beyond Kong's reach to shoot him, they remain within his reach so that he can continue to swat them down.

And that's exactly what he does until every chopper is swatted out of the sky. Every single one of them. I just can't believe not one pilot had the brains to say, "You know, maybe I should fly a little farther away from that monster so he can't grab my copter like he's doing to all the other copters, and smash it to the ground." Nope. Not one. At one point the civilian guy said, "Get this chopper out of here!" but the brainless pilot replies, "You're not the one who gives me orders."

So of course that copter, too, gets swatted down like all the others. I am not one to verbalize my displeasure during the course of a movie out of respect to my fellow movie goers, but I instinctively said "Bullshit!" out loud at that point. My son didn't mind. He agreed. No one turned to frown at me, so I'm thinking everyone else agreed too.

There were many other holes, but there were good things, too, btw. The special effects were good, and the acting was good. Samuel Jackson, although overexposed by being in just about every movie these days, is a good actor and played his part well. The guy from WWII had a good role and played it well. The British secret service guy was well cast, and well written.

I don't know why they made the bad monsters legless. I'm talking about the "Skull-crushers" as the old dude called them. They crawled around using their front two legs, or arms. It reminded me of the crippled son from the TV show Viking. I think they should have had rear legs, and ran around like lizards, but whatever.

There was another thing that bugged me. There were too many useless deaths. Too many dudes getting offed just for effect, it seemed. The lowest point being when John Goodman's character was offed. It just didn't work. Nor did the killing off of most of the soldiers. The surviving soldiers were one white, one Asian, and one black. I guess they wanted equity. Of course, no female characters were killed. The girls seemed immune to any danger. In this movie you had to be a dude to die.

There were so many other holes, like since when do apes stand straight like a man? King Kong was standing straight the whole time. Even my wife made that point. I had noticed it too, but there were so many other holes, that one, although major, was minor in comparison.

So go with your son, and have a good time. My son did like the movie and was glad we went. I was glad to spend time with him at the movies. A show like this is good for that. But that was all it was good for. Too bad we missed The Great Wall. Was that one any good? I'll find out soon enough when it comes on TV. Until then...

Monday, March 6, 2017

Walking Dead - Back on Track

I had all but given up on The Walking Dead TV show. It had introduced a character who had no business doing the things he was doing. You know, the usual things like being mean to strangers, killing strangers, as in people he had never met before, and just being an all around despicable guy. And all the while he's smiling while he's doing all these bad things. It's like being a mean person, hurting and killing, maiming, etc. it's like he's having the time of his life.

Well, the brutal murders of helpless victims, Glen and Abraham, as in having their heads bashed in as they are bound and on their knees, was just too much for me to bear. It wasn't fun, and it wasn't nice to watch. It was downright ugly. I don't watch movies or TV shows to see ugly stuff. I don't take time to watch shows to see things that make me sick. It's not entertainment. Sure, some people love to see scary shows, and the Walking Dead has those moments, but this Neegan character was just not makin' it. Not even close.

So yesterday we got a break from that. I had mentioned in a blog post some months ago, that I was glad to see Rick and Michonne hooking up. But then the storyline took a detour from that hookup and that detour was right though Neeganland. I was very disappointed.

But The Walking Dead is back on track. Yesterday I finally got the episode I wanted to see, which is Rick and Michonne out on the town together doing their thing as only they can do. The writing was good, the acting was good, and the events that took place were near perfect. It was fun to watch, and yes, it was entertaining.

Rick and Michonne - best TV couple ever


I want to see more of Rick and Michonne. I really do. I think Rick and Michonne make the best couple in TV history. Better than Ricky and Lucy. Better than John and Maureen Robinson. And better than Ward and June Cleaver!





Everything about that last Walking Dead show as far as Rick and Michonne are concerned was perfect. It's what I had been waiting for and I want to see more of that. Hopefully I will. We'll see.