Monthly Archives: May 2012

Wisdom from Winnie the Pooh

From the Tumblr

“Yesterday, I sat down with my youngest two brothers for a Winnie the Pooh movie. Pooh’s Grand Adventure: The Search for Christopher Robin, specifically. I was enjoying myself well enough. Then something happened.

Christopher Robin and Pooh Bear were sitting on a tree, talking. Christopher is going to school the next day, and he knows he’ll miss being with Pooh and his other friends in the Hundred Acre Wood. Here’s a piece of that dialogue.

Christopher: “I wish it could last forever.”

Pooh: “Then we must do it again tomorrow, and the tomorrow after, and the tomorrow following that.”

At this point my eyes went wide open. I believe in such a thing as eternity. I also believe that what we do right now counts when we die. If we want to be happy forever, we should probably start doing the things that make us happy right now.

I was a little speechless for a while.”

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Monday Meditations: Memorial Day

As an American, I salute the men and women who have suffered pain and death for good. As a man, I know our country has had its share of good and bad men. This day we celebrate the good. Give a thought, if not a prayer, for them.

SONG OF THE WEEK

“Leave No Man Behind” from Hans Zimmer’s Black Hawk Down soundtrack

Mournful and meditative. Just the thing we needed on a day like this.

QUOTES OF THE WEEK

“It is not of the dead alone that we think on this day. There are those still living whose sex forbade them to offer their lives, but who gave instead their happiness. Which of us has not been lifted above himself by the sight of one of those lovely, lonely women, around whom the wand of sorrow has traced its excluding circle–set apart, even when surrounded by loving friends who would fain bring back joy to their lives?”

Oliver Wendell Holmes

***

For Memorial Day, I vented some thoughts on my official Tumblr. Here’s an excerpt. If you take away nothing else, take away this: honor the dead!

“It’s a stereotypical sunny day outside. It’s the kind of sunny that you see in a Memorial Day commercial for hamburgers. Somewhere, there’s memorial services going on. Somewhere, men and women are weeping true tears. Somewhere, there are young men my age who have chosen to face death instead of linger in comfort.

Somewhere isn’t here, and that’s what bothered me for nearly two decades…”

Read the rest.

Always Be Humble

If you’re missing the action over at my Tumblr, here’s an anecdote that I posted today:

“Let me tell you a story. It started last summer, in a fit of boredom. I was an intern at a public affairs office; news was slow that day, so I had nothing to do but watch the phone. It wasn’t long before I started thinking about something besides public affairs.

Specifically, I had a brilliant idea for a story. So I wrote it down. In fact, I think I hand-wrote it. Naturally, I felt old-fashioned and sophisticated. By the time I left work that day, I was beaming. I felt like one of the most brilliant fiction writers of all time.

Throughout that summer, I kept writing that story. It ran to about 15 pages. It was about a freedom fighter who couldn’t adjust to changing times. Some friends who read it said they liked it. This only made me feel better. I started dreaming of greatness. Nobel Prizes for Literature, literary critics praising my talent, rabid readers comparing me to Flannery O’Connor- they all danced in my head.

Well, I went back to that short story last week. Another friend of mine asked to see it, so I sent it to him.

He hated it. He said that he couldn’t understand what was happening, and who was going where. He asked me humbly to know what the intended theme was! I had always been proud of my theme. 

Reading that friend’s e-mail made me wince. Especially when I went back to my story and realized he was right. I had never asked myself why my freedom fighter walked out of a prison without any guards or fanfare after twenty years… there were a thousand details after that that didn’t make any sense. 

Don’t make the same mistake, my fellow writers. Ask yourself tough questions. Be merciless. Never get delusions of grandeur. Do your job, try to do it well, and always be humble.”

First Look At “The Great Gatsby”

As an undergraduate studying English, I found out quickly that the trailer has been released for Baz Luhrmann’s film adaptation of The Great Gatsby.

Several of my friends posted it on Facebook and Tumblr. I flipped open my laptop an hour ago. Since then I’ve been mulling over what I’ve seen. I try not to judge films based on their trailers. But for right now, this trailer is the best resource I have to do the judging.

This trailer promises a big, loud, flashy movie. I am therefore excited. That’s exactly the kind of thing that you want when you’re trying to tell Gatsby’s story. Gatsby threw himself into the Roaring Twenties, holding fast to its excitement and excesses to win back his former love. The array of dazzling dresses, frolicking crowds, and bright lights that we see in this trailer brings across that fantasy very well.

Leonardo DiCaprio’s Gatsby doesn’t match up so far with the Gatsby I know. When he stands in front of Daisy, his face looks hardened. He doesn’t look like a tentative lover; he looks like scowling Dom Cobb from Inception. This seems to be a change of pace from Inception, Shutter IslandThe Departed, and other dark roles that Leonardo has had in recent years. His performance as Gatsby doesn’t call for that darkness, but I’m not sure that it calls for the bright youth we saw in Titanic or Romeo and Juliet.

I would have been more reassured to see him doing more than looking mysterious and/or distressed. I wanted to see him shaking hands and smiling broadly. Gatsby needs to explode with confidence and charisma until he meets Daisy again. One of the most important lines in the novel is this, “So the whole caravansary had fallen in like a card house at the disapproval in her eyes.” That’s Nick Carraway’s first thought after hearing that Gatsby fires all of his servants, starting to withdraw from his former parties. That will be the key point when I evaluate DiCaprio’s performance.

Tobey Maguire looks forgettable as Nick Carraway. Of course, his character is inevitably forgettable in the rush of parties that we see in the trailer. It will take the feature-length film to see how he holds up. Tobey has the face and the voice for meek, nonjudgmental Nick Carraway. But he can’t simply be meek. He has his own intensity that surfaces at times. What emotions will we see on Tobey’s face when he rejects Jordan Baker? There needs to be anger and disgust in that scene. I hope he can project that.

The rest of the cast intrigues me as well. Daisy is quiet in the trailer. She’s a bubbly, spoiled, and ultimately unhappy character. There’s a lot of verve that needs to go into her character. I didn’t see much verve in the trailer; I hope she’s not being made less energetic. Jordan Baker looks outrageously pale and fascinating. I was caught off-guard by how pale she looked, but doesn’t that work? It’s unusual. It turns heads around. What better for a woman like Jordan? Tom Buchanan also looked appropriately surly,  and Meyer Wolfsheim impressed (unfortunately, the Bollywood actor playing him says he doesn’t get much screen time).

Watching these characters flit through the screen, even if only for 2 minutes, made my heart rate jump. This is going to be a unique take on Fitzgerald’s masterpiece. Anyone with the guts and the vision to put Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “No Church In The Wild” in a trailer for a 1920’s film has the guts and vision to put something ambitious and unforgettable on screen.

One of my friends voiced a worry that the excitement of Gatsby’s life could overshadow the consequences that the novel is truly about. I agree. There were two novels that haunted me in high school, and this was one of them. I was drawn in by the outward energy of Fitzgerald’s characters. I drew in closer and closer to them. When their lives fell apart in cold rain, car wrecks, and gun shots, I was right there with them and I was chilled to the bone.

I truly hope Mr. Luhrmann doesn’t forget that deeper message in the maelstrom of glittering lights and dancing girls.

Monday Meditations: The Test

SONG OF THE WEEK

“The Test” by The Classic Crime

This is haunting songwriting right here, folks. I feel guilty about living in comfort, and doing that whole American dream thing. Matt McDonald doesn’t make me feel any better. He doesn’t mention the American dream- don’t worry; this isn’t a political song- but that’s exactly what I’ve come to think about. Maybe that’s because his portrait of apathy is so disturbingly lifelike that I need to think about someone besides myself.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“So here’s to the promise of glamorous living

You must drink up now, ’cause it’s all that you’re getting

If you haven’t been tested, you certainly will

And I promise it’s going to kill…”

The Classic Crime

“Should one point out that from ancient times decline in courage has been considered the beginning of the end?”

Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Summer 2012 Announcements

Ladies and gentlemen, I am proud to announce that The Stand (Part Two of The Kingdom Trilogy) is happening for sure. Arman’s adventures will continue before the end of the year.

Stay posted this summer! I have some delightful surprises waiting for fans of The Kingdom Trilogy. Games, prizes, and awesomeness await. If you haven’t gotten your hands on Part One, get your copy at Amazon or Smashwords. Then join the anticipation. I’ve had the plot for The Stand in the works for years now. It will be a pleasure to unleash it upon you all.

Starting next week, I’m going to start posting again; this time I’ll be posting twice a week instead of thrice. For you lovers of “Monday Meditations” and “Notes Of A Storyteller”, I’m keeping those around. “The Storyteller Reports” will not be a regular feature, but I’ll still post a few from time to time. If I see something worth ranting about, I’ll rant.

I’m also expanding from this blog. You can find out updates about my writing on here, Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr.

Twitterites can meet me at @WhoIsSeanMcG. I’ll be posting anecdotes, quotes, and retweeting other indie authors that I dig.

Tumblers can check me out at whoisseanmcguire. Here, I’ll be able to post pictures and musings that look cooler than they do on Twitter.

Facebook junkies can like the official page for The Kingdom TrilogyI have Facebook and Twitter linked, and I’ll scatter Tumblr links all over the place. If you’re in a social network and you want to get updates, let me know and I’ll see if I can make an account. No matter where you are in the social media universe, you’ll have access to my latest shenanigans.

Get excited, people. I complained like a gorilla with a stubbed toe last fall, but I truly enjoyed writing Die By The Sword and The Quest for you. Earlier today, I read through my outline for The Stand. I got a big smile reading some of what’s in store for Arman and his friends. Between that and the short stories I have lined up, this is going to be a fine summer.

Prepare for glory!

An Unannounced Hiatus

You haven’t seen anything on here since May 5 because I’ve been busy finishing my sophomore year of college and moving back to Montana. Finals sucked my life away. Now that’s it’s summer, I’ve had a look at this blog and decided that there are some things I want to change for you. 

More on that in a few days. You won’t see any posts until then. Therefore, I want to leave you with one piece of news that’s going to dominate this blog for several months.

The Stand (Part Two of The Kingdom Trilogy) is happening for sure, and it’s coming out before this year is out. I’ve told my friends and family that I mean to finish this fantasy trilogy, and now that I’ve told them, I’m going to do it. Details will trickle out slowly this summer. Get excited. Tell every last human being in your universe.

And of course, have a wonderful day.