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, May 29, 2017

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 -- Meh...



I had collected Marvel comic books when I was a kid. But by the time Guardians of the Galaxy became a comic mag, I had stopped buying and/or reading comics long before. I've blogged about how I've been generally disappointed with the Marvel movies for the past several years.

The funny thing is that when I was buying the comics, I would have loved to have seen these movies. But I'm with the impression that even as a kid I would have had the same disappointment upon seeing them. So I've never bought nor have I read a Guardians of the Galaxy comic book. I did see the first movie, and I was not impressed, yet I managed to find some enjoyment in seeing the movie. Of course, having never read or collected the book, I had no reference to compare it with. My belief is if I had I would have been just as disappointed with it as I had been with the X-Men movies, the Avengers movies, the Fantastic Four movies, and so on.

But while I was sitting there last night watching Guardians 2 with my son and wife, it became obvious to me that the targeted audience was an audience that was twelve years old. I mentioned this to my son who's fifteen. He said, not twelve, more like ten, and since he's closer to those age groups, I'll go with his assessment.

So, yeah, it was like they made the movie for ten year olds. Goofy characters and goofy jokes, many of which were on the level of slapstick, and as an adult, it was very tedious to put up with. Were there things that were good? When I saw the trailer, Kurt Russell's part seemed like it was going to be good. It was. And I had no clue that Sylvester Stallone had a cameo, and it was good. But as someone who never read the comic, I'll never know if it was in tune with the comic.

It turned out that Kurt Russell's role was Ego, the living planet. I remembered the character Ego the living planet from when I was a kid. I thought the concept of Ego becoming a human, and the way they made it happen was pretty good. I'm not sure if it's all from the comics, but if it was, I can buy that. And Ego being the father of the main character, Peter Quill was intriguing.

Again, the character of Ego the living planet was a character I had known from my days collecting comics. Ego was a Jack Kirby creation, and like most Jack Kirby creations, Ego was a great comic book character. Like Galactus, the Silver Surfer, the Inhumans, and pretty much every other character from the Fantastic Four comic book, all created by Jack Kirby, (not Stan Lee.)

I won't get into the plot or story line of Guardians 2, but I'll stress the main reason why it wasn't a movie for me. Let me put it this way: the IQ level of the writing. It was too low. Despite the good concepts with Ego, Kurt Russell, and such, the overall screenplay was dumbed down for an audience of little kids. It was even dumber than a Power Rangers movie. Seriously. It's like the producers of Guardians targeted an audience younger than the Power Rangers audience.

So there you go. If you liked Power Rangers, Guardians might be for you. If you have an IQ over 90, however, maybe not. Unless you're a Three Stooges fan. Then maybe you'll like it. It's more like The Three Stooges as the Guardians of the Galaxy. Yep, that about sums it up.

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