Saturday, August 31, 2002

Ooh, Yeah! Happy Dance! I just received my first royalty check from iUniverse for sales of "Aaron's Intifada and Other Short Stories" (sales period: April through June).

Okay, so it's not quite enough to quit my day job, but I wasn't expecting to do that anyway. Still, it's a happy feeling, and reinforcement that somebody actually likes what I write. I'm not above needing a little pat on the back from time to time.

And so, today, we do the happy dance...

Friday, August 30, 2002

Sorry to have missed a couple of days here, but I was again quite busy with work - a couple of 12-hour days of back-to-back meetings. So, of course, there's not much left of my brain right now.

And the good news is, there's less of the rest of me as well. In the last 2-1/2 weeks I've lost about eight or nine pounds! I've got at least twelve pounds to go to be where I want, but it feels great to have met the first goal point, and be well on my way to the second.

I'd been talking for a while about feeling like I should shed a few, but it was on that trip to Mendocino a couple of weeks ago that I accidentally stepped on a scale and saw just how bad the problem had gotten (damned hotel; what are they doing putting scales in the bathrooms?). When we got back home I dug our scale out of the closet and put it for twice-daily weighings.

Anyway, don't mean to bore you with the details, or any sense of self-righteousness for simply trying to be healthier, I just wanted to post that little personal milestone.

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

In his novel, 1984, George Orwell warned about a society that envisioned war as peace, freedom as slavery and ignorance as strength. We now have a president who has told us to prepare for a state of permanent war as the only means to maintain the peace. A president, I might add, that personifies "ignorance as strength." Can "freedom is slavery" be far behind?

In Learning To Love Big Brother, an article on, Daniel Kurtzman looks at the parallels between 1984 and the Bush presidency, and asks the question, "Can a sitting president be charged with plagiarism?" The comparison is not so far-fetched as you might at first think: permanent war, silencing of dissent, official disinformation, history being re-written as it happens (official White House transcripts of Bush's speeches clean up his gaffes), and all of us are subject to constant surveillance.

What can we do to fight this? Exactly what we're doing right here, for one thing: talk openly about this to each other. As long as we maintain our rights to free speech (and free thought), and to openly dissent, then we (the people) win. If the point of the open-ended war on terrorism is to maintain our way of life, remember that our way of life is based on these primary rights.

If Bush gets his way, and quiets all dissent, then the terrorists win - even if they're all dead. Speak up, it's the only way to know that we're still Americans.

Monday, August 26, 2002

I'm a winner! Of course, you all already knew that, but this time I mean it literally. My entry won this month's ACW (Adult Creative Writing) Club's contest. This month's challenge was to write a short story (or poem) with the title "The Fortune Cookie."

Click the link to read my winning entry (listed first), and the other nine entries (eight of which are very good as well).

Sunday, August 25, 2002

What happens when people with very little sense of humor offend people with absolutely no sense of humor? Something like this... PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) creates an ad, and posts it on their web site:

offensive ad

Now, I don't particularly agree with PETA's stance on many things, but as I see it, the ad is well designed to demonstrate their point: Any rational person would recognize that objectification of a woman and breaking her down into her edible parts is wrong, by extension, PETA wants you to think about whether the objectification and breaking down of a cow is also wrong.

Again, I don't agree with them entirely on this, but I think their ads are effective, and also carry the corollary message that the marketing of women as sex objects is akin to treating them like meat. This is specifically an anti-meat advertisement, but I believe that it also stands as a pro-feminist statement as well.

Enter the person with no sense of humor at all; Sheri has a problem with this ad. Sheri is "a vegan who is deeply committed to the ethical treatment of animals. ... As is now standard in academic feminism, I believe that various forms of oppression are interconnected and mutually reinforcing."

It seems that Sheri thinks that the folks at PETA are under the impression that a woman marked up for the butcher is a good thing. As Sheri states in her letter to PETA, "When vegetarianism is reduced to a fashion statement, on the other hand, its "advocates" are inconsistent, unreliable, uninformed, and quick to move on to the next best fad."

Sheri is also, not above forcing her views upon others through censorship. Many people, she says, "who are committed to living ethical lives believe that this commitment entails banning Internet sites, television shows, magazines, and anything else that is degrading to women or others." So, free speech, as guaranteed in the Constitution, is unethical?

You can click the link to read Sheri's full letter to PETA, but I'll save you the anguish. You see, Sheri's thought a lot about this issue. About 830 words into her 1,000 word letter, we find out that she wrote her Master's thesis on the "links between sexism and speciesism."

Sheri has done one very important thing, however, that very few others could do; she's made me come to the defense of PETA. I'm not a vegetarian, I don't believe animals have equal rights with humans, and I find PETA's "meat is murder" association to be degrading to people.

I do, on the other hand, consider myself to be quite pro-feminist, and that position informs my politics, my ethics, and the way I try to live my life. With advocates like Sheri, however, I'm almost embarrassed to say that. As Emma Goldman once wrote, "If I can't dance, I don't want to be part of your revolution."

Thursday, August 22, 2002

"Queen of the Nudies," sexploitation director Doris Wishman, died on August 10 of complications from lymphoma. Back in 1988 I had the pleasure of meeting Doris at a screening of two of her films: Nude on the Moon and Deadly Weapons.

Doris was great, making no bones about the fact that she was in the sexploitation business. When people asked her serious questions about her artistic vision, she replied with quips like, "Tits sell."

I wrote an article about Doris and one of her stars, Chesty Morgan with the 73-inch bust, a few years ago. That article is posted on my site, and is responsible for more emails than any other piece I've written. Doris' cult status gets this web site more hits than Elvis Presley.

Doris was a show-biz original: part Lina Wertmuler and part Russ Meyers. She'll be missed, but could never be replaced.

* Chesty & the Female Nudie Director - on my website, written several years ago

* Doris Wishman; Exploitation Film Director, Cult Favorite - on the LA Times Obituaries (registration required)

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

Recession? We don't need no stinking recession! Despite an unemployment rate of 7.6% (and rising), and some of the highest housing prices in the country, Bay Area home sales are up 22% (July 2002, compared to July 2001). In Santa Clara County (San Jose area, where I live) the median house price is now $515,000.

Meanwhile, the effects of the dot-com-bomb are continuing to ripple through the region. Last week we tried to go to dinner to a formerly very popular pizza place in Cupertino (birthplace of Apple computer, among others). They were closed for good; collateral damage. Nobody has money for cheap pizza, but they somehow, inexplicably, have money for expensive homes.

The official 7.6% unemployment rate doesn't begin to get at the problem. Those figures are based solely on the number of people currently getting state unemployment benefits. It doesn't include the "discouraged workers" (an actual official federal designation) whose benefits have expired without them finding employment. It also doesn't count the number of people accepting part-time work as a stop-gap measure.

At my work, we're lucky enough to have just gotten funding to restore a part-time support position that was cut last December. I placed one on-line ad (on last Friday afternoon. By the time I came into work Monday morning, I had 35 resumes, including four with graduate degrees. This is for a part-time, admin assistant job in a nonprofit organization - not glamorous or highly paid work. Two years ago, when I was last in a position to do any hiring, I considered myself lucky to get a dozen resumes for a full-time, professional over a two week period.

And yet, somehow, home sales continue to rise, and continue to support a ridiculously high median price. Why? My guess is that it's a combination of two things. First, the housing shortage in the Bay Area is severe enough that we could export all our unemployed elsewhere, and still not have enough decent housing for everybody remaining. Second, with the stock market as it is, real estate is the only investment people still trust.

Personally, as a perennial renter (if you think I've got $515,00, you don't know who you're reading), I'm hoping and waiting for the real estate market to slip if I'm ever going to be able to buy a house. Well, now that the pizza place is closed, maybe I can start saving towards property.

Monday, August 19, 2002

It's a little early yet for Halloween, but here's a website for a local nonprofit that I just found: Books for Treats advocates giving "gently read" books, instead of candy, for Halloween. As the site explains, "Books feed children's minds, while candy only feeds their cavities."

Right now the program is focussed on San Jose, where it has the support of the Mayor and City Council, but there's no reason why people can't implement this idea across the country using the tools provided on the website.

Of course, as someone with a book to sell, I think this is a great idea. I think Aaron's Intifada might be a bit much for the little kids, however. Maybe you should order a few as a treat for the parents...

Saturday, August 17, 2002

"Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative."
-- Oscar Wilde

I reserve the right to change my mind about that, of course. To be completely consistent would simply mean I'd given up on thinking or analysis.

There are probably some things I've been consistent about, but even within those topics, there have been changes. Being passionate about progressive politics would be one such care. That has been fairly consistent, but what I've done in relation to that passion, and the parties I've supported (both groups and individuals), have been subject to constant scrutiny and change.

The quote goes further than that, however. Many people in a relationship say, "I can't imagine my life without you," and think that that is a compliment. I prefer to say (and would much rather hear), "I can imagine life without you, and choose to stay anyway."

Who wants a lover who's there out of inertia? I want somebody who makes a conscious choice, day to day, to be with me.

Friday, August 16, 2002

"Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality."
-- Jules de Gautier

Thursday, August 15, 2002

Father of Frisbee dies at 78 - Mercury News

"Ed Headrick may be in heaven right now, or reclining on a rooftop. It's unclear where Frisbyterians go when they die." He didn't exactly invent the plastic flying disk, but he did improve it by adding those little grooves that make it more aerodynamic.

The most amazing part of this story, however, is what they plan to do with his ashes. By Ed's request, they'll be molded into a limited number of Frisbees that will be distributed to family and friends. It didn't say if they will keep the Frisbees, or fly them out over the ocean (or onto the rooftop?).

Read the whole story - Ed was a wild and crazy kind of a guy all the way till the end.

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

To continue with yesterday's topic; What is it about Hitchcock? Why are his films still relevant, decades after his death?

Probably, when somebody brings up the subject of Hitch, one of the first things that goes through your head is "the master of suspense," but I don't believe that's it. "Master of suspense" gets at his technical skills as a director, and explains his chosen genre for nearly all his films, but it doesn't explain his popular appeal.

To compare a typical Hitchcock film to a typical Orson Wells film (and I do also love Wells, but he does not have the mass adoration of a Hitch). Wells' pictures are about the ordinary lives of extraordinary people. Wells' characters are larger than life on the outside, but he dissects them and shows how petty and small they are on the inside. This is a very intellectual approach to storytelling that gets academic approval, but with the exception of Citizen Kane, doesn't appeal to the broader public.

Hitch's pictures put the most ordinary of people into the most extraordinary situations. The exact opposite formula as Wells, these are characters that anybody can relate to that demonstrate the inner strength, goodness, and ability to face adversity and danger within us all. The suspense is a merely a means to bring those qualities to the surface and make a hero out of an otherwise unremarkable person.

Much has been made of Hitch's joking about actors and cattle ("I never said actors were cattle; I said they should be treated like cattle"), implying that the people in his films were secondary to the action. I think that's completely off-base. I believe he cared deeply about the character of his characters, and that he knew they were the key to the success of his films.

It's the human element of Hitch's work that made him one of the first superstar directors (easily recognized outside of Hollywood), and continues to keep his work relevant and watchable to this day. The well-crafted suspense is good too, but it only works because we care about the characters.

Tuesday, August 13, 2002

One of the projects that I hinted at yesterday was supposed to be a non-fiction book about the Bay Area films of Alfred Hitchcock. I first had the idea a few months ago, when we went on a Hitch binge and had a little Hitchcock home video festival - that's pretty much all we watched for a month.

Hitch made three specifically Bay Area films: Shadow of a Doubt (Santa Rosa), Vertigo (San Francisco and southern Marin County), and The Birds (SF and Bodega Bay). In addition to these three films that took place in the region (as well as being shot here), Hitch kept a second home (his "ranch" and vineyard) in Scotts Valley (Santa Cruz), and used the area's locations to double for the English countryside and coastline in Rebecca, Suspicion, and Marnie, as well as extra locations, or inspiration, for a number of other films.

When Leslie go on our little weekend trips, whether it's passing through Santa Rosa and having a snack at the train station where Uncle Charlie (Joseph Cotton) arrived and departed from in Shadow of a Doubt, or walking through the Muir Woods where Scottie (Jimmy Stewart) chased Madeline/Judy (Kim Novak) in Vertigo, we've sought out many of these locations. On several occasions it occurred to me that I ought to track these voyages and map the sites and use them as a basis for film/travel book.

Well, the project had just gone from a concept to something I was actually starting to work on, and then yesterday I found this: Footsteps in the Fog, "Alfred Hitchcock's San Francisco," to be released in October 2002. Somebody else has written my book, and it looks like they did a good job with it, too! Luckily I hadn't invested too much time into the project yet, and certainly nothing I didn't enjoy doing. Now I just can't wait till October so I can see if it includes directions to Hitch's Scotts Valley ranch.

Monday, August 12, 2002

There's nothing like a long weekend away to relax you and make you glad you're alive. Then, of course, there's nothing like an alarm clock on Monday morning telling you it's time to go back to work to spoil it all.

We spent the last three days up in Mendocino, where we thought we'd escape this last great heat wave of summer. No chance; even up on the rocky north coast we were sweating in just a t-shirt. Even so, the fresh air coming off the ocean, the wide open space, the mountains, just everything, made it a great time off, and reminded me of why Mendocino is one of my favorite places.

I've got to leave for work in about ten minutes, but Leslie's still got another week before she returns to school to get her classroom ready for the tots. She'll be busy this week, though, getting things together, planning and bracing herself for another year of teaching.

Many more exciting things in the works, back there hiding in my brain somewhere. A nonfiction project I think I want to work on (actually, a film/travelogue book), and some ideas for some artwork I can't get out of my head. More details as they hatch into something solid to show you...

Thursday, August 08, 2002

The first "professional" review of my book is in, and it's great! The Midwest Book Review has given Aaron's Intifada five stars!

***** Challenge, hope, loss, and the path to personal redemption, August 4, 2002
Reviewer: Midwest Book Review (see more about me) from Oregon, WI USA

"Ken Goldstein's debut anthology of short stories, Aaron's Intifada And Other Short Stories offers the reader a diverse collection of memorable characters who must face challenge, hope, loss, and the path to personal redemption. Some are confronted by violence; others find a way to create beauty when pressed upon by despair. Aaron's Intifada And Other Short Stories is strongly recommended as a impressive and engaging anthology that reflects Goldstein's skillfully original storytelling talent."

The review is posted now to, where you can see it with all the shiny stars. If you haven't ordered the book yet, I just got in a fresh box for filling orders for personally autographed copies ($14.45, including postage), or Barnes & Noble is still having their summer sale, only $7.66 (plus shipping).

Wednesday, August 07, 2002

These days the administration in DC is very vocal about the evils of U.S. companies hiding their profits off-shore to avoid the paying of taxes. Big W called it "a problem" and says, "We ought to look at people who are trying to avoid U.S. taxes" (an actual full, grammatically correct sentence).

Back when W served on Harken Energy's board of directors in 1989, however, the company set up an offshore subsidiary in the Cayman Islands. Thankfully, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer has explained that it was not a scheme to hide out from the IRS. I gotta admit I was concerned for a minute there.

Citizen Works (Ralph Nader's post-election organization) made the news last week by noting that during Vice President Dick Cheney’s tenure as CEO, the number of Halliburton subsidiaries incorporated in offshore foreign tax havens rose from 9 to 44.

Meanwhile, Cheney is supportive of a heavily expanded military budget, a budget that is increasingly being picked up by ordinary taxpayers who can’t funnel their money through offshore tax havens. And a solid chunk of that military budget will go straight to Brown & Root, a Halliburton subsidiary that has a $1.8 billion contract to support U.S. troops through 2004. Despite being under federal investigation for fraud, Brown & Root is the Army's only private supplier of troop support services over the next decade, according to the Associated Press. The corporate state in action invites citizen action!

And who was that jetting around in the Enron corporate jet during the 2000 election season? Oh, hey, take a look, it's Gee Dubya!

Washington Post story - Reuters story (Yahoo! News)

Sunday, August 04, 2002

on 8/4/02 6:02 AM, Nan wrote:

> "In fact, it's safe to say that we've become a nation bound by the
> familiar. Which is one of the reasons chains do so well here and mom and
> pop stores are being inched out."
> This is so true! I have been trying to put my finger on this for a while,
> but you said it. ...

Well, thanks, but, actually, I didn't say it. That blog entry was quoted from the GET PUBLISHED! e-newsletter put together by Penny Sansevieri. My reaction was pretty much the same as yours, however, which is why I posted it here.

The thing is, being "bound by the familiar" is not necessarily a bad thing. The familiar is comfortable and reassuring. The problem is that what's familiar to one of us shouldn't be what's familiar to all.

Leslie and I avoid chains (particularly food-wise) as much as possible, yet we are "bound by the familiar." When we get our weekly dose of BBQ, we stay away from Tony Roma's and head to a little, local, very unique place called The Cats. At The Cats they've got fresh meat on an open fire, live blues, a well-stocked bar, and they great me by name when I walk in the door.

When we go for a weekend brunch, there's no way you'll get us into a Denny's. Instead we head to the Los Gatos Cafe, with omelets as big as your head, the best home-made herbed-potatoes, and when we miss a week, the next week they ask if we were sick or if we managed to get out of town for the weekend.

Having our "regular spots" where we're well known to the staff is a wonderful comfort, and very familiar. We also get better food and better service than we'd find in any chain restaurant.

When we head out of town for a getaway, we seek out local flavor as much as possible. Why eat chain food on vacation? I can get Red Lobster or Chevy's without paying for a hotel and airfare. When I visit a new city, I want to experience that city.

The trouble, I suppose, is that the public commons is no longer that little park where we all go for our evening walk; it's the television set. Our neighborhoods no longer each have their own general stores where we can get the word-of-mouth on what's new locally; economic forces and our growing fear of being in outside in public have forced us into shopping malls, where the higher rents keep Mom & Pop operations out.

But as much as the quest for the familiar sends us to these national brands that we can find anywhere in America (or the world, for that matter), there's still a strong desire in each of us to return to the local community commons. Witness MCI's "The Neighborhood" or AT&T telling us to "get an mLife." Major breweries are coming out with beers pretending to be micro-brews.

That mass-produced warm, cuddly feeling of community can only go so far, however. Maybe it will re-kindle our need for the local in a way that will allow us to leave the mall, if we all hold hands and walk through the double automatic doors together.

Saturday, August 03, 2002

PRO-ISRAEL, PRO-PEACE - Group Seeks To Mobilize American Jews, by David Rabin -

"Now is the time to speak up in dissent. It is not a time to be blindly patriotic. Israel's moral and political future is in grave danger."

This is what I believe has been missing in the critique of Israeli policy towards the Palestinians. Many American Jews, such as myself, who are offended by the IDF's tactics, have been forced into silence because the existing "peace movement" chooses to pretend that the PLO have been saints who don't really want to kill, but the Israeli's make them.

"Pro-Israel, Pro-Peace" puts it in the proper perspective. Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, the Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace that is the subject of the article, is calling on Israel to end its military occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, "with border agreements agreeable to both parties." The group is "guided by the mitzvah, or obligation, to pursue peace and justice that is rooted in both secular and religious Jewish traditions. Every place there is justice there is peace."

Now that is something positive for a Saturday, Sabbath, morning.

Friday, August 02, 2002

This is from the GET PUBLISHED! newsletter by Penny C. Sansevieri, Editor, (


Name Brand Novelist

Ever wonder how those blockbuster authors like Tom Clancy can churn out so many bestsellers? Simple – They hire other writers to flesh out their storylines. According to the Washington Post, Tom Clancy "oversees a vast farm of fiction writers who crank out stories that he imagines." And although Robert Ludlum died last spring, his name will be on several upcoming books written by others.

So why are there so many collaborations these days? Publishers believe that reader appetite for certain list-topping writers is insatiable. Frequently though, the reader doesn't even know the story has been co-authored or written entirely by someone else. Frankly, this trend doesn't surprise me at all. In fact, it's safe to say that we've become a nation bound by the familiar. Which is one of the reasons chains do so well here and mom and pop stores are being inched out. If you get a chance, take a minute to read Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser (written entirely by the author as I understand it). It's a fascinating account of how fast food has altered everything about this country down to the way we live, work, play, and now it seems…read.


To subscribe to GET PUBLISHED! send an email to:

Thursday, August 01, 2002

I'm a celebrity of sorts, if you didn't know. Yes, I've just been interviewed by the "A Squishy Future" web site. Please take a look, it's a new site and the gentleman behind it (Matthew Carver) was kind enough to ask me to be one of the first "guests" in this new "magazine style show."

Meanwhile, back here at my own little web empire, I've just posted a slightly modified version of The Forgotten Key. If you haven't read it yet, please take a look.

Also, Barnes & Noble's summer sale is still going on, with Aaron's Intifada (my book, remember) for only $7.66.

That's it: Three plugs in one post is the most I can force on you. I promise something more substantive later in the week.

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