Testing 1-2-3

Just found the iPhone squarespace app. Just when I thought things couldn't get any better...they do! Mobile blog posting. Who could ask for anything more?


Are you qualified?

I've become very aware of the dangers of putting your creative side out there and opening yourself up to criticism. Hell, it's the major thing that held me back after some savaging as a kid in high school and college, and it's taken quite a bit of effort to get past it...and as a consequence I've become very reluctant to throw random critiques out toward people who work in creative fields. 

<rant>This, of course, does not include those people who try to succeed in fields that require talent who do not have it. Like, say the usual screeching singers weeded out in the early going on American Idol, or the 'writer' who has yet to finish a novel/screenplay/play/short story/dirty limerick. I've accepted the fact that I won't be playing in the NHL in my lifetime; you need to get over the idea that people can really do anything 'if they just put their mind to it'. Sometimes dreams don't happen for a reason.  </rant>

I also know enough that, when it comes to critiquing fellow screenwriters, nine times out of ten what's on the big screen (should a writer be lucky enough to have their work show up there) is not 100% theirs, unless they fund the thing themselves. And since we're talking about writers, that doesn't happen...except for George Lucas...and that's just a completely different conversation.

I also know that writing gigs can be hard to come by, and that, having maybe sold a script, or done some re-write work, and then hitting a dry spell, you need to put food on the table. And this need can lead to some writers offering their services as script doctors, offering their experience to fledglings who need guidance. 

Some of these guys (like the dearly departed Blake Snyder, and back in the day Rossio & Elliott) truly mean well and want to help unknowns with talent break through. 


......okay, so if you're listed as the writer of what is widely considered to be the worst film made of the decade (the 00s), one of the worst films ever made, a colossal box office disaster, and it's your only listed writing that really the guy to listen to? 

Sure, maybe they have some good advice about navigating through the minefield of Hollywood for screenwriters.....but I'd think long and hard about paying said person to teach me about building drama when they penned a flick in which thousands of years in the future F-15s tucked away in a bunker without maintenance can still fly on fuel that somehow hasn't evaporated/gone bad by primitive people after spending a few hours working a flight simulator. 

Oh, did I give away the movie without naming it? Whooooops.


The worst month

May is traditionally not a good time for my family, with a long history of deaths even as spring starts

I was mostly offline over the weekend and didn't get a chance to (re)post this, but Saturday was a particularly tough anniversary for me. I'd originally posted this on my old blogspot site a couple of years ago, and for posterity's sake I'm just putting it back up, along with a little reminder of the good ol' days, taken in December 2001.

And damn it all, I still can't read this without sobbing.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

End of the line

This is going to get long and rambling, but there’s really no other way of putting this out there, so I hope you bear with me because it’s just something I’ve gotta put down in writing.

May is traditionally not a very good month for my family. My father’s birthday is May 3rd; in 1998 he turned 49, and eleven days later, on the 14th, he died of a heart attack in his sleep.

In 2005 I proposed to my wife on May 12th, hoping to reclaim the month with a positive event, rather than dwell on the negative.

Right now, though, the pendulum is swinging back toward the negative. But to explain why, I need to go back to the fall of 2000.

We had a Norwegian Elkhound named Rocky. Got him in February 1986 when he was six months old, about two weeks after my 11th birthday. He wasn’t friendly with anyone outside our immediate family, but he was a great dog.

In September of 2000 he collapsed, and died in my arms while our vet was en route to our house to put him to sleep.

Two family members dead in a two year span.

My mother vowed never to go through that again with another dog.

Me, I’m stubborn. It’s an Irish thing I guess.

Through the petfinder website I found an amazingly adorable two year old Siberian Husky named Maverick, who was being held with Mighty Mutts.

I trekked down to Union Square Park one Saturday in May 2001 to see him in-person, and started the application process as soon as I saw him. To say he was beautiful would be a gross understatement. He had personality, howling the whole time I walked him and spoke with the Mighty Mutts volunteer, who was interviewing me to see if I was a good candidate to adopt Maverick.

The process was lengthy, including two home visits, and required us to build an extra six foot high section of fencing near our backyard deck to make sure he couldn’t jump over into the alley to escape. Huskies are prone to jumping, digging and escaping, you see, and Mav was no exception.

Finally, we were told we passed their requirements test and were clear to adopt Maverick. My brother and mother still had yet to see him, and thought I’d completely lost my mind going to these lengths for a dog.

Just wait, I told them. When you meet him, you’ll understand.

So on a rainy Saturday in June we picked him up at Union Square, and they both broke down in tears when they saw him. He was more beautiful than I described, they said, and we loaded him up into the car and drove him home.

Ten minutes after we got home, he wanted to leave. He kept pacing near the front door, howling to get out.


Walking him was even more of a joy. He was about 80 pounds when we picked him up, and his first inclination when we hit the street was to take off like the Iditarod had started.

He could jump onto the seven inch-wide window sill, which he did frequently to watch us when we left the house.

He’d jump onto our couches after we’d been gone more than thirty minutes, and claim them as his own. In the beginning, we’d catch him hopping off as we came through the door; eventually he decided the couches were his and he’s lay there, daring us to shoo him off.

Mornings were the most fun. If he had to go to the bathroom before you got up, he’d pay you a visit in your bedroom to wake you up. First you got the probing nose and hot breath. If that didn’t rouse you, the lick came next. If you slept through that, you’d get the trademark husky howl. And if you somehow didn’t respond at that point, you got the massive paw, swatting you in the head.

Oh, and I can’t forget to mention the shedding. Clothes that were wrapped in plastic before he was brought into the house somehow acquired a fine layer of white hair, to say nothing of the rugs, couches, bedspreads, and every other surface in the house that suddenly looked like hair transplants gone wrong.

All of this was welcomed with open arms. Because he was the most well behaved, even tempered, and loveable dog I had ever seen.

Frequently we’d ask ourselves how we’d gotten so lucky. How could a dog like this wind up at an animal rescue?

Clues started to surface after a few months, and we gradually pieced together the picture: his owners had trained him exceptionally well, and apparently let him out into the street after the birth of their child (his reaction to anyone holding a baby or a stuffed animal that was infant-sized was panic and distress), where he wandered for a year or so before being picked up by animal control. He was scheduled to be destroyed, but for a woman at Husky House, who saved him and brought him to John Contino at Mighty Mutts.

One year as a stray, living on the streets. It’s unimaginable that someone could turn their dog out like that, without a second thought. I really don’t know how anyone can do it to any dog, much less a pure bred like Maverick.

For seven years he’s been the bond that’s held our family together. Times change, I moved out, my brother was forced to relocate for his medical residency, but Maverick stayed with my mother, keeping her company at night, and jumping for joy when my brother and I visited, as often as possible.

Many people don’t understand the relationship between a dog and its owner, especially when the dog is treated like a human being. It was always funny to watch the reactions of guests who happened to be around if my mother ordered food, because all she needed to do was tell him “the man is coming with the food”, and he instantly went to the front door, howling until the delivery arrived. He understood everything.

Less than a year after we adopted him, I tore the ACL in my left knee, and the subsequent surgery forced me to take up residence on our couch downstairs for a month. Maverick slept at the edge of the couch every night I was down there, many nights putting his head on my chest and licking me before he’d do his usual three turn rotation before laying down to sleep.

All of this I’m putting down in writing is really the tip of the iceberg in trying to explain just what’s so special about this dog. I could spend hours telling you stories of Maverick climbing onto my mother’s bed to steal a stuffed polar bear, which he’d carry downstairs and drop into his toy basket. He never chewed on it, he just liked having it with his stuff.

I’m sure you’re realizing by this point what this is.

It’s a eulogy.

Maverick’s spent the last two days unable to stand on his own, unable to hold his weight up on his legs. Several trips to the vet have established that it’s neurological, something on his spine (a slipped disc, a tumor, or something else) is impacting his hind legs, and as he’s anywhere between 9 and 11 years old, an MRI and surgery would be too much for him to bear.

We’ve tried putting him on Rimadyl, and yesterday upped him to a stronger steroid, Dexamethasone, hoping that it could at least help him get up under his own power to get out into the yard to go to the bathroom (rather than having me carry him outside two or three times a day).

The medication was a last ditch effort, and it’s not working. I could see it in his eyes this morning, the frustration of not being able to stand like he always does. The inability to fully comprehend what’s happened, but the knowledge is there, in his eyes.

He knows it’s over.

So tomorrow, May 8th, 2008, Maverick will be put to sleep, and the greatest dog I’ve ever known will become one of the greatest memories I’ll ever have.

I miss you already, buddy.



It's official...

Just received this from the Honolulu International Film Festival "to display...on any web or print materials to help promote your award-winning film (or script)".

Yay me?


I shouldn't be alive.... the very least I shouldn't be awake. It's almost 3AM Hawai'i time, and I need to get poolside in five hours. And I've been drinking Blue Hawaiis and Big Wave lagers all night. I am now, officially, an alcoholic writer. Or is that an alcoholic Reiter?


Had a great time at the closing/award ceremonies at the former Honolulu/now renamed Waikiki International Film Festival, got my award as an 'official finalist' (good for one free ride on the back of a sea turtle), and made some new pals in the process. Thanks guys (especially you crazy Aussies)...and most importantly: Caffeine and Vicodin!

(that phrase will be going viral as soon as it hits youtube, hopefully within a week, so remember you heard it here first)

And now the sad part: departing paradise tomorrow on a 7PM flight.