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Hamlet and Yoda Got it Right

S.J. Norstrom

The word aspiring is a load of crap. 

Ok, sure. The word holds the feelings of hope, determination, and perseverance, which is awesome. It is a great word. But in the context of which I’m talking about, it’s a waste of time.

For years I lived under the title of “Aspiring Writer”. I dreamt of the day when I would be able to tell people, “why yes! I am a writer!” I would then smile proudly, full of mirth and merriment. Yes, for years I looked forward to that day when I would able to shed “Aspiring” from my professional title. And then, one day, I realized something which became quite profound in my writer-y path.

I’m a writer. I write. Whether I’m published or not, whether I make a bazillion dollars or not, whether I rise to the lofty levels of the greatest literary minds or not, I…

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He Who Laughs Last by Dave Sokolowski

S.J. Norstrom

He Who Laughs Last

HWLLI’ve known about Kickstarter for a while now: a website created to promote independent projects such as film, books, software, and games. With the rise of websites like Kickstarter and GoFundMe, the word “crowdfunding” was created. The premise of Crowdfunding is to get a group of people to pledge money to a project they would like to see completed. Each project has a certain amount of days to be funded and. if that time it does not get fully funded, then those people that pledged money get it all back and the project goes back to the drawing board. It’s a pretty cool premise and one that I fully support.

That being said, I would like to talk about one project in particular. Dave Sokolowski’s “He Who Laughs Last” is a role-playing game supplement set in H.P. Lovecraft’s world of horror and madness, also referred…

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Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie

It was never planned for me to write a post about music. When I first started this, I was going to keep it to books and writing and nothing else. Over the course of the past two years, I began bringing family matters into posts. I suppose it makes perfect sense: I am who I am as a direct result of my family and vice-versa. I also found other influences to bring in which, in total, makes me…me. And so, here I am talking about music. Again.

A previous post of mine talks specifically about music, as does this one, but I’ve never done an actual album review. But, after completing a full listen to Alanis Morissette’s album, Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie, I felt compelled to talk about it.

Released in 1998, it was the long-awaited follow-up to her pop/angst album, Jagged Little Pill. In a lot of ways, “Junkie” had a lot to live up to. “Jagged” won Grammy’s Album of the Year in 1996. Alanis pulled in three more Grammys that night, so there was a whole lot riding on her next album. And, when Junkie started circulating, people really didn’t know what to make of it. I did, however, come to a decisive conclusion:

Awesome.

Now, I don’t mean awesome in the way that someone would also say, “badass” or “totally”. I mean awesome in the sense of its power and intensity. Jagged has its “Ironic” and “You Oughta Know”, both rife with anger and both subtle and obvious. Junkie, on the other hand, blasts you with emotion as soon as the opening song “Front Row” opens with Alanis’ harmonized emotional push. And that’s the theme of the album: emotion. About 30 seconds into “Front Row”, you have two choices: bail out or dig in. The album doesn’t–won’t–let up or let go of you. And I love it.

Wading through each song, there is an obvious (some would say over-) produced feel about it. Glen Ballard, hands down one of the industry’s best producers, has worked with Michael Jackson, Aerosmith, and Dave Matthews. Working with Alanis, the two created a rich and thick collection of 17 songs. The number of songs is also a little intimidating upon first glance. Plus, they’re not short songs either. Junkie has a running length of 72 minutes, which is massive for a single album. She could have easily thrown in one or more songs and turned it into a 2-disc album, but that, I feel, would have taken away from its presence. Looking at song titles like the incredibly haunting fourth song “Are You Still Mad” (by far my favorite track) and the simply young-yet-wisened “Unsent”, I could tell it was going to be intense and incredibly personal.

So here I am, listening to it for a second go-around tonight, and I think it’s the weight of the album that I love so much. And by weight, I don’t mean heavy. Perhaps…dense…is a better explanation. There’s very little acoustic guitar and just hints of her signature harmonica play. Even with her acquired-taste fully open-mouthed vocals, she spends a lot of time in the back of a small mouth. Her voice is often quiet and, at many times hanging in the lower register, which adds to the density of her songs. Being a singer myself, I love it when a performer’s voice truly becomes another instrument and adds to the fullness of each song.

I’m not sure if I’ve done the album any true justice. This is my first review and it’s subject to wandering. Perhaps it’s after listening to Junkie (twice) that I’m exhausted and ready to climb under some heavy blankets so I can continue to feel the same weight as I just experienced.

If you haven’t yet, give Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie a go. If you already have, give it another go. Just remember to hold your breath and give in. It’s safer if you do.

Cheers.

Finding the balance

S.J. Norstrom

At times I feel like Bruce Banner in the Avengers. Especially during the part right before the mild-mannered scientist turns into the Hulk and punches the Massive Flying Metal Dinosaur Robot-thing in the face, he says, “I’m always angry”.

Sometimes I can relate.

Not that I’m going to turn into a monstrous green indestructible guy and rampage the city, but there are times I get frustrated and want to do nothing but yell and say potty words (for the PG audience). In order to work through it, I vent my frustration through music. I have a love of Nine Inch Nails and other “angry” music. On that “artist” side of me, I let myself get lost in the dark, primitive nature of my mind. It’s amazing what the imagination can conjure when in the right (or wrong) frame of mind. I try to channel most of it through me writing…

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Milestones Reached!

S.J. Norstrom

I’m so happy to report that I have completed Part Three of my four-part novel, “Jac and the City of 1,000 Worlds.” Even though it’s taken me the better part of forever, I’m ecstatic to reach this goal. While I would love to finish the book by this September (I have something forming on the horizon), I’m not going to freak out if I don’t. Like I said in my last post, as long as I continue on, even putting down no more than one single word, I will be achieving my goal.

For those who know me (and, for those that don’t, you will know me once I tell you what I’m about to tell you, so now we’re practically besties), it’s been a bit of a rough road these past 10 years. Of course, there have been some truly amazing and awe-inspiring events, such as my wife…

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Almost the answer

S.J. Norstrom

41.

While I’ve always been a fan of 42, the idea of 41 freaks me out. And why the isolated fear of a prime number?

It’ll be my age not before long. While I will only have to endure the title for 365 days, it signifies more than just a number. Not only does 41 signify the beginning of my 4th decade spinning around the sun, it shows me where I’ve been, where I am, and where I’m headed.

I’ve spent many years dwelling on the past, a poor past time for certain. It does nothing for me but focus on what I coulda’/shoulda’/woulda’ done differently, and that isn’t productive at all. That is not to say I shouldn’t learn from my mistakes (which I have yet to master), but I fixate on my poor choices and do nothing but stagnate in my own quagmire.

What I need to…

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And So It Goes…

S.J. Norstrom

It appears as quickly as things came, they have gone. About two months ago I was presented with the opportunity to man the helm of the Steampunk/Historical Fiction magazine for the eFiction line of magazines. I jumped at the chance and was quite excited about it. Unfortunately, I have stepped down from my position after completion of the first issue. I loved learning the basics  of what it takes to put an e-zine together as well as meeting some great new and veteran writers. I also made some great friendships and many more acquaintances within the writing industry. So, a hearty “Thank You” is given to any and all who made a part of my magazine happen. Please jump over to the Fiction Magazines website and take a look at

PROF. DOBBS’ LITERARY PRIMER FOR THE EXTRAORDINARY

While I don’t have confirmation, it appears as if the magazine is available…

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