Will iconic images recorded in the grooves of an ancient vase unite the Holy Land or rip it further apart?
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.
Saturday, April 29, 2017
I guess things like that happen, which is why the author is supposed to check for it. In the process of checking, I found the name Utshingwayo used twice before he was supposed to be introduced to the story, and before that I found an s was used for the plural of the word Zulu in a dialogue where the language was isiZulu. I advised Dana of all these in the hopes that she will correct them before the printing begins.
Actually, I haven't advised her yet of the indentation error. I will wait on that until tomorrow, because today I already sent an email about the name Utshingwayo. If that can be changed to the name Qetuka, it will be fine. But I don't want to inundate her with more than one email in a day, so I'll wait until tomorrow for the indentation thing.
And since tomorrow is the last day of April, and the day all files are supposed to be completed, I'm hoping all corrections will be made and I can be confident the John Dunn book is error-free once and for all, and ready for printing. Fingers crossed for that.
I really will be satisfied if the John Dunn book is as error-free as my Killer of Killers book. And all before it's publication, too. It took a second edition for the Killer of Killers book to be error-free. But I'm okay with that. I'm a perfectionist. As all artists are, or should be. And being so, I take pride in my art being perfect. Whether it's a book, a painting, drawing, or sculpture, or a musical composition, it's perfection for which I strive. Nothing less.
Because in art, perfection can be achieved. And if the artist isn't driven to achieve it, then why the heck would anyone want to check it out? They wouldn't. Without total commitment to his or her art, said art is not worth checking out. Whether it's a drawing, painting, sculpture, book, or song. That's the way it is, and that's the way it should be.
Wednesday, April 26, 2017
There's always going to be something I will find that I will consider that I could have written better, but that is something that will never go away. Any book at any stage will have that. It's a pain, I'll admit, especially when it's a book I wrote, but it's just the way it is. I'll be satisfied if those places aren't straight up errors. If it's prose that could be better, that's one thing, but if it's an error, that's the killer.
I finally got Killer of Killers to the point where there are no errors. In Killer Eyes, there aren't any obvious errors, and The Vase will be error free whenever it reaches publication again. There's a couple in Second Chance unfortunately. And at this point, there are no errors in John Dunn; Heart of a Zulu. That is if the space in the word 'presented' is fixed there won't be. We'll see.
Tuesday, April 25, 2017
So I have the PDF version of the book now, and it looks great. It reads great. I have until tonight to look it over, and while doing so I have to admit a great deal of satisfaction comes over me. It's because I know how much work I put into that book, and knowing others will be able to read it, and appreciate it is something any artist in any field can understand.
So I'm on my lunch break, and I'm going back to that galley and take as much time as I can looking it over. I can't read the whole thing word for word from front to back in one day, but I can skim through it, reading parts here and there, and making sure the formatting is good. And that's what I'll do. I'll get back to the blog tomorrow.
Monday, April 24, 2017
However, when referring to the Zulu people or any other native people in the region, I simply use "the Zulu," or the "Swazi", etc. In the Zulu language, the word amaZulu would be used in referring to the Zulu people. But I'm not going that route. As I said, I do use Zulu words often, and I italicize those words, with the exceptions of individual names and the names of places.
But consistency is the issue. If I don't use the 's' on the end of the word Zulu(s) in one dialogue where the language spoken is isiZulu, then I must stay consistent throughout. I discovered the consistency wasn't there, but after using the word search app, I was able to fix that, and now the consistency is there. So I dare say the manuscript is error-free at this point. And it's a good feeling knowing that.
Of course, I can't be surprised if a typo pops up somewhere, as they seem to be invisible sometimes, until that time that it's too late to fix, and then they appear, like Indians popping out of holes in the ground to ambush unsuspecting cowboys. I guess that analogy is outdated, or perhaps even not so politically correct, but whatever, my point is made. Onward to publication! Can't wait!
Friday, April 21, 2017
Now on to my point. I've been posting my frustrations lately about how Hollywood, in the movies and TV shows, continues to portray women as better and tougher fighters than men. We've been seeing it time and again; a tough chick beating up men by the dozens and all at the same time.
To that I say Bullshit. I readily admit women can be tough, but never can they beat up a man who is himself on the level of say, a Navy seal, or even a regular Marine.
The first time this happened that I remember was in the 1980's animated movie Heavy Metal. It featured some woman hero who single-handedly rose up to defeat the "Nazi" conquerors who had dominated the land. It began with the typical "bar scene fight" where she takes on three tough guys with swords and decapitates all three of them with a single swipe of her sword. This from a woman who in real life could hardly even wield a sword of the size she possessed.
Even in the famous Disney movie Lion King. Twice, the main character lion Simba is bested by the female lion Nala. Once as cubs, and then as full grown lions, Nala bests Simba in a fight. Really? In no scenario ever could a female lion best a male lion. Ever.
Okay, so those are old cartoons. But the trend has picked up of late. Now we're forced to watch Scarlet Johanssen, all 110 pounds of her, beating up men left and right, again and again, by the dozens all at once. In movie after movie. Okay, so in the Avengers, she's a superhero. Okay, in Lucy, she's mentally enhanced. Okay, in Ghost in the Shell, she's got a robot body. Okay. But it's tiring. I am no longer going to watch any movie in which Scarlett Johanssen dominates the entire male cast.
It doesn't stop there. I've blogged plenty about how phony Sarah Shahi looked in Person of Interest beating up every male fighter she came up against, and again by the dozens all at once. And in the show Into the Badlands, I've made the same complaint about the character called "The Widow."
Even in one of my favorite shows, Banshee, I had to watch some 110 pound chick beat up four Marines all at once. Yeah, the four Marines were in the process of raping some other girl, but come on. This was a woman in her mid twenties from some Indian Reservation who comes out of nowhere and takes on four Marines and beats them up all at once as if they were six-year-olds.
This is a continuing trend. Not only are women being represented as physically tougher and superior fighters, they are also being portrayed as more competent and sophisticated in dealing with stressful situations and problem solving.
Particularly disturbing to me is the trend of the last twenty years in kids' cartoons. The Simpsons, Family Guy, The Cleveland Show, and many more, portray the male characters as weak, stupid, moronic, degenerate, perverted, and incompetent in every aspect of everyday life. Meanwhile, the female characters are wholesome, intelligent, and competent in every approach to solving the problems about which their male counterparts are clueless.
Ditto for almost every Young Adult movie of late, like Twilight, Hunger Games, Divergent, etc., the female characters are the smart ones, with all the answers, whereas the male characters are the ones lamenting their inabilities to cope with the adverse environment in which they live.
Again, I know women can be just as smart, just as tough, and just as competent as men. And yes, sometimes more so. But not always, and certainly they are NOT better, stronger, or superior fighters. I've made the point that they are tough in a different way. They cannot beat up four Marines all at once. I don't care if a woman is as tough as Ronda Rousey. No woman in the world can beat up four Marines all at the same time. Not even one Marine. Ronda Rousey can't even beat up other WOMEN fighters these days. So Hollywood, get off your female superiority hill.
My last point is this: I don't believe women WANT to see women fight, beat up, and kill people. I don't believe it. It's not a woman thing. Is it? I'm not a woman, but that doesn't mean I don't know women. Sure there are exceptions to every rule, even this one, but as a rule, women are NOT into fighting, killing, war, and mayhem. That's a dude thing. I don't need your opinion on this, because I know I'm right. So where is Hollywood getting off on presenting this over and over to the American audience?
Look at other cultures. In Asia, women are mostly treated as second class citizens. In the Middle East, women don't even have rights. They can't vote, they can't drive, hell, they aren't even allowed to show their faces for god's sake. In Africa, women are completely dominated by men.
In America women have equal rights, and that's as it should be. But that doesn't mean they have equal ability to fight. They just don't. Of course, there's exceptions. A woman here or there may be able to beat up some man here or there. But never a man who himself is a professional fighter. Or a Navy Seal. Or a Marine. Never. Not once. Not ever.
Tuesday, April 18, 2017
As for the John Dunn book, I've made my case for Superman as the main character John Dunn. I've posted a picture with Henry Cavill with a beard, and he's almost the splitting image of John Dunn. As for which actress would be right for the role of Catherine Pierce, John Dunn's half white half black wife, my first choice might have been Halle Berry, but she's too old now. So Candice Patton is next up to bat. I'm sure there are other actresses who could do it, but I'm sold on Candice Patton for now.
I listed a bevy of actors for the African roles. And I think I nailed each and every one of them. Right now, that's about all I can do: just sit here after work and think of actors and actresses who could be right for the roles of the characters I've created. It's fun. As for Second Chance and The Vase? Well, I've got to think about those. We'll see.
Monday, April 17, 2017
In addition to Statham, there are countless other examples. Daniel Craig, Vin Diesel, Keanu Reeves, Bruce Willis, Clint Eastwood, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Sean Connery are the most familiar in the movie franchises. The TV show series include relative newbies like Anthoney Starr, Toby Stephens, Ray Stevenson, Kevin McKidd, and then older actors who made the transition from the big screen to the small, like Jim Caviesel and James Spader.
So star power is important for the success of a franchise or series. Sometimes producers have rolled the dice and won. Statham was not an A-lister when he was cast for The Transporter, but they rolled the dice on him and he turned out to be a winner. Other times producers don't roll the dice. Instead, they go with a proven star, like Keanu Reeves, who was already an A-lister when he was cast as the lead in John Wick.
So for Killer of Killers it would be a roll of the dice to cast either Dustin Clare or Georges St. Pierre. I'm on record as being okay with either one of them as Trent Smith, the world's greatest martial artist. Both are capable fighters on screen, as St. Pierre is a world champion in real life, which would sure add a ton of authenticity to his casting for the part. But can he act? That's the question. Clare can. There's no question.
What about the female role? I used to think Amber Heard would be right for the part. She certainly looks the part. A beautiful blonde woman in her prime. But there is one question hanging over my shoulder. Can she act? I have not seen any indication that she can. The bit parts she's had in the few movies she's been in are inconclusive. And I hear nothing in the news or internet that makes me think she can. And the fact that her roles are so few and in such minor movies, reinforces that.
Which makes me want to think other actresses would be better for the part. Actresses whom I know can act. Two come to mind. Hannah New from Black Sails and Lili Simmons from Banshee. They can act very well, at least they did in those TV shows. I haven't seen them in much else, so I'm waiting to see about that. Still, I've been convinced. They are pretty enough, and they can act. Here's waiting to see how it comes to be.
Tuesday, April 11, 2017
Back to writing another book? Not really. I'm getting back into my music right now. I have some music that I composed about fifteen years ago, other than the music to the lyrics posted on this blog, that I want to rearrange and see if I can't get it rerecorded and converted into a digital format. Then one day, maybe get a band to play them. I wonder if there's a "music" agent who finds a band to play your songs, like a literary agent finds a publisher to publish your books.
I don't suppose there is. Sure I Googled "music agents" but from what I learned, music agents are mostly people who find gigs for bands, like clubs or such where they might perform for cash. Or they are managers who do the same thing, but also try to find bands a recording contract. I don't want either of those. What I want is an "agent" to find a recording artist who might be interested in recording the songs I've already written. I'm not much of a performer myself. I would just like to be the composer for some other musicians to perform my songs.
But from what I can gather, there is no such type of "music" agent. Too bad. Still, the band plays on, and so will I...
Saturday, April 8, 2017
|Real Life martial arts champion |
Georges St. Pierre
|St. Pierre in the movie Winter Soldier|
fighting Captain America
|Georges St. Pierre looks|
the part of Trent Smith
But can he act? Meaning can he act in a movie as an actor playing a lead role? I know for a fact that Dustin Clare can act. He proved it in Spartacus. He can fight, too. At least in choreographed scenes in a movie he can fight. And after all, that's what we'll get in any movie, right? At that point, it's all about the fight scene coordinator or choreographer. Like Corey Yuen. He's probably one of the best if not the best. I'd like to see it happen. Dustin Clare or Georges St. Pierre.
Friday, April 7, 2017
|Dustin Clare. Where the heck is he?|
But where is Dustin Clare? He had a very small part in the TV show Strike Back. A very small part. Pretty much insignificant. But at least it was an appearance. Where the heck is he? I mean in the popular STARZ TV show Spartacus, this guy STOLE the show. He was great in that show, and he did steal the show. No other actor held a candle to him. I would have thought his performance would have drawn the notice of some movie producers. But apparently no movie producers were watching.
Meanwhile, actors like Jason Statham, Matt Damon, Keanu Reeves, and Vin Diesel, keep rolling along with tough guy parts in movie after movie. Even old guys like Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Bruce Willis keep playing tough guys despite the fact they're past their prime.
I know Dustin Clare has fans out there. He's got plenty of fans who clearly wish he'd be in some other role than the insignificant parts he's been scraping off the bottom of the movie role barrels since the final cut of Spartacus. Maybe he just needs the right vehicle. And my two Killer stories could be it for him. In Killer of Killers, the world is introduced to Trent Smith, the greatest martial artist since Bruce Lee. I even paid Lee a mention in the book as a sort of honor to his memory.
The story doesn't end there. It picks up in the sequel Killer Eyes, in which Trent meets a pretty tough chick, of whom I gave mention in yesterday's post. It could go on. I may or may not write a third Killer book. I've been so focused on my John Dunn book of late, I haven't paid it much thought. I did start a third one, but that doesn't mean I'll finish it. Maybe I will.
In the meantime, I'd like to see Dustin Clare kick some ass in another movie besides Spartacus reruns. Killer of Killers would be perfect for him. or maybe, as one reviewer put it, the role should go to a REAL martial arts champion. Well, I can't argue with that. It's all about the acting. Or maybe it isn't. After all Bruce Lee wasn't coming down with any Oscars for his movies. But he didn't have to act when it came to fight scenes. That was his expertise. But it doesn't matter. Whoever Dustin Clare's agent is, he's got to get his ass in gear, and get Dustin into another TV show or movie.
What's he waiting for?
Thursday, April 6, 2017
I mean I already had to suffer through Sameen Shaw's ridiculous portrayal as a tough chick in Person of Interest, and I really couldn't handle anymore of that. But after watching episode one of season two of Into the Badlands and watching this red-haired chick called "the widow" kill fifty dudes all at once, I just had to quit. My wife still watched, but I decided to get back to writing.
Unless it's Supergirl or Wonder Woman, I just refuse to even TRY to believe one chick can beat up dozens of male fighters all at the same time. I can handle a tough chick, don't get me wrong. And I swear I'm no chauvinist. But one chick against ten, twenty, and now fifty dudes all at once? Nope. I'm done. The show lost me, and I'm not coming back.
The ONLY thing that MIGHT have kept me watching that show is the character Sunny, who was the only person, male or female, who was able to beat The Widow, but Sunny betrays his "master" even kills him, and then gets bested by some orange cloaked monks. Now, he's some kind of slave somewhere. So no. Again. I'm done.
I readily admit, as I've done often before, that women ARE strong. They ARE tough. But women are different than men. Is anyone going to disagree with that? No. I didn't think so. Women are strong and tough in a different way than men. Women just don't go around beating up people. They don't go around killing people. It's just not something women do.
Bottom line, women don't make a life out of killing and beating up people. Sure there are exceptions. Ronda Rousey, for instance. She's pretty tough. She's a professional fighter after all. She made a living out of fighting. But she only fights other women fighters. I don't believe she can beat up even a single male fighter, let alone fifty all at once. As a matter of fact, she can't even hold her own against other FEMALE fighters lately.
Bottom line is this. Tough chicks that are fighters can beat up OTHER tough chicks who are fighters. But they can NEVER beat up a dude who himself is a professional fighter. Not one. Not ever. So what Hollywood is trying to show us is miserably ridiculous and for me, at least, unwatchable. And I've had enough. No more wasting my time watching that nonsense.
Oh, btw, just for the record, in my book Killer Eyes, I created a pretty tough chick. The leader of the Killers Guild is a chick. A pretty tough chick. She even did beat up and kill a male fighter in a duel for the top spot in the Killers Guild. But she did it in a womanly way. She didn't overcome him in brute strength or even with fancy martial arts moves. She did it in a BELIEVABLE way.
So there you have it. It's all in the writing. And in Person of Interest, and Into the Badlands, the writing for these tough chicks didn't make it.
Wednesday, April 5, 2017
I probably did work harder on this book than any other. Too many things had to be accurate and authentic. Meaning I can't have a character in one part of the land and in another part during the same day, especially if it takes four days to get there by horseback or wagon ride. I had to be sure I had the correct time lapses down.
So much research was involved, but that is par for the course in the writing of any book. For my killer books I had to research all kinds of martial arts moves, philosophies, beliefs, and weapons. I had to research biochemistry for Killer of Killers and nuclear medicine for Killer Eyes. I had to research Judaism and Islam for The Vase. I even had to research defensive football schemes for my Second Chance book.
But I think anyone could see why a true story needs the most research. Especially a true story that involves real people and a real historical war. But it's done and it's being edited. I look forward to completion. That will be a day to celebrate. Can't wait.
Tuesday, April 4, 2017
|In this photo, Brosnan looks like he'd be |
just right for the part of Lord Chelmsford
Of course, the first thing I thought was: That could be Lord Chelmsford right there. I was thinking any old dude from Britain could play the part. But the way Brosnan looks in this photo, I would say is just about perfect for the way Lord Chelmsford should look in a movie of my John Dunn book if one were to be made. Actually there are so many parts to fill in that book, many of them British, and many Zulu or black African it would take a long time to find the right actors for every role. I could do it, though, and boy would I love having that job. Here's to hoping.
Monday, April 3, 2017
Whatever the case, I still wouldn't cast him as king of the Zulus. That part goes to Adewale. No backing down on that. In the John Dunn story, David Oyelowo could be cast as Prince Dabulamanzi. It's a royal role. So everyone can be happy.
Here's hoping Killer of Killers, Killer Eyes, The Vase, Second Chance, AND John Dunn, Heart of a Zulu can be made into movies. Yeah. Here's hoping.
Sunday, April 2, 2017
Well, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje is not too short. Like the real King Cetshwayo, Adewale is 6' 2" tall, and look at these pictures! He looks like a king. I mean talk about perfect casting. This guy is as right for the part of Cetshwayo as Sean Connery was for James Bond. Like William Shatner was for Capt. Kirk, and like Leonard Nimoy was for Spock. Like Robert Conrad was for James West and like Clint Eastwood was for the Man With No Name! And like Henry Cavill would be as John Dunn.
But Adewale is 49 right now, which means his window for being Cetshwayo is closing fast. Cetshwayo was in his forties during his kingship of Zululand. Adewale still looks youthful enough. I suppose he will look the part for another ten years.
|Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje with a beard|
You know, I would make a great casting director, seeing as how I can find the right actors for the right parts. Maybe my talent is restricted for the characters that I either created, (Trent Smith, Samanth Jones, Susie Quinn, Muhsin Muhabi, Naji Muhabi, etc.) or those characters about whom I've written, (John Dunn, Cetshwayo, etc.) But whatever.
Btw, David Oyelowo could be cast as Cetshwayo's younger brother Dabulamanzi and that nails it. If my John Dunn book is ever made into a movie, or TV show, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje is the one and only actor to play King Cetshwayo. Henry Cavill is John Dunn, Candice Patton is Catherine Pierce, and David Oyelowo is Dabulamanzi. Bingo. The main parts are nailed!