I just finished another Dennis Lehane novel. Lehane is a master at suspense and mystery, but he is quite graphic. This novel was Shutter Island.
In this book, Teddy Daniels, a US Marshal, is assigned to go to Shutter Island where there is a hospital for the criminally insane. A female patient/prisoner has escaped and Daniels and his partner have been sent to track her down. But things aren't what they seem. The doctors are shady people and there are terrible secrets lurking beneath the exterior.
To top it off, a hurricane rushes in and the power goes out, causing all sorts of havoc on the island.
I won't give away the ending because I hate spoilers, but there is a huge twist at the end. While this wasn't my favorite Lehane novel, I was still impressed with his writing and his ability to create a psychological thriller.
Oh, and there's a movie of Shutter Island coming out this year starring Leonardo Dicaprio (I don't agree with that casting but oh well), Michelle Williams, and Mark Ruffalo.
I've felt bad that all I've done lately on here is give unnecessary reviews to movies and an album. Figured I probably should give a rundown of what I've been up to lately. So here goes:
1. I've been working at Deseret Book still. My boss has been kind enough to give me some really good hours. Yesterday was grouchy customer day though, so I came home and had a really bad headache. I don't get headaches often, so when I get them I am not the most pleasant person to be around. It might have been a combination of sinuses and frustration with people because even Advil didn't kick it. At any rate, it's been a great job thus far, but I'm about ready to do some hardcore job-searching for something else.
2. I've been writing away at my novel. It's been slowly coming along nicely. Currently I am just starting Chapter Nine. I am at about 33,000 words with a goal of 90,000. Not too shabby, yeah?
3. Finally went and saw the two movies I had been dying to see: Wolverine and Star Trek.
4. Went on a date this week with Heather Olson. She's a cool girl. It was our second date, and it was very chill.
5. Jeremy is setting me up with a girl named Sandra. She was a sister missionary on his mission who is now going to BYU-Idaho. I just got her number a couple days ago.
6. I am now attending the Rigby East Stake Singles branch. Scary. I told myself I wouldn't ever go back to that branch, but here I am. It's not too bad so far because there are a lot more people going. Never mind the fact that they are all really young and I feel like an old fogie there.
7. Other than all the above, I've just been playing with Gigi and Hadjii, sleeping in whenever I can, and helping out around the house.
I don't know much about the original Star Trek. In fact, I don't think I've ever seen a full episode of the original television show. But I do remember the old movies so I had a little bit of background to go off of. However, I found that with this new movie, you really don't need to know much about Star Trek because it basically stands on its own. They are showing how the characters became who they were in the show. They did an amazing job.
The graphics were amazing. I noticed that, rather than trying to make the ships look modern, they kept the original designs of everything. The little escape pods still look like they did in the original show. I loved that they kept that instead of trying to reinvent the wheel.
The storyline was believable as far as sci-fi can be believable. With an antagonist that just feels like the classic Star Trek nemesis, it was not disappointing in the least. Speaking of storyline, there is humor all throughout. I loved that they never took themselves too seriously. The actors play off each other seamlessly. There was not a single moment where I didn't believe that they were really who they portrayed.
I've been on a winning streak in movies lately. I would highly recommend anyone to see Star Trek or Wolverine. Both are really well-done movies.
I went to Wolverine:Origins the other day. It was entertaining. Maybe I wasn't on top of my game or maybe the writing was just good, but I was taken by surprise at the end. There are a couple elements at the end that are meant to be twists. Now, the ending I was expecting because, if you know anything about Wolverine, you know he doesn't exactly have a clue as to who he is when he gets to Charles Xavier.
Honestly, I was pleasantly surprised at how well-done this movie was. The 3rd X-Men movie was a disappointment. While there were great elements in that movie, I was disappointed in how everyone died. Yeah...That wasn't supposed to happen. That being said, I love how this Origins movie ties into the first X-Men movie as Logan begins to wander. Which is where the next movie picks up and we first see him fighting in an underground boxing match. It fits almost seamlessly.
I enjoyed the action scenes. Gambit was fun to watch. They did an excellent job on him. I'm glad they chose a lesser known actor to play him because it seemed no one could agree on who should play him.
I don't have any qualms with this movie besides the sometimes cheesy shots where Hugh Jackman is just flexing and roaring. While he does an excellent job and, man, he bulked up a lot for the role, I found myself just laughing rather than being impressed.
And my other qualm is the Wade/Deadpool thing. I love Ryan Reynolds. He's awesome. And the scene where he deflects bullets with these swords is hecka cool. But I think they should have brought him in more if he was going to be a key point at the end.
Another enjoyable thing about the movie is the insight into the relationship between Wolverine and Sabretooth. I always knew there was a rivalry there. Had no idea it was sibling rivalry. It was executed very well with Liev Schreiber and Hugh Jackman playing off each other really well. Their love/hate for each other was very believable.
That's that, then. I love X-Men and I look forward to more installments.
Ok, so I doubt anyone really cares what I think about Tori's new album. I'm mainly doing this for my own entertainment.
Over all, I really like this album. It has a clean, polished sound that has carried over from her previous album The American Doll Posse. I personally love to see artists evolve and try different things. There are still hints of vintage Tori on this album. Her lyrics are still amazing, complex, and quirky. Some critics have said they prefer her old sound that was more personal and acoustic. But I really like the direction she's taken her sound.
I will break it down by track.
1. Give: It has a dark sound that is one of the reasons I really love Tori Amos.
2. Welcome to England: This was the first track I heard from the album before it was released. I love it. It recalls Scarlet's Walk with its electric guitar and the feel of it. I think this is one of the highlights of the album.
3. Strong Black Vine: There is an ongoing theme in this album of religion and even going further beyond into personal choice and our ability to choose for ourselves the path we will take. In this song it seems Tori is mocking the idea of organized religion, but I think she is mostly talking about having a personal faith whether you find it in a church or in the mountains. I could be very wrong about this. I love, love, love the intro to this song with the orchestra. Beautiful. I'm still trying to figure out what the "Strong, black vine" is.
4. Flavor: She slows the mood down here a lot. It has an ethereal feel to it that is signature Tori. This has the same feel and direction of ADP.
5. Not Dying Today: Love the drums in this. This is more upbeat and has a great message to it. A lot the songs in this album has multiple dialogue within it which brings an interesting flavor to it. "music, good friends, I'm not dying today." Live in the present. Don't worry about the future day when your life will end. I love the end when she says "Dyin' Fryin' rather have a lie-in..." It's quirky Tori at her best.
6. Maybe California: Vintage Tori Amos ballad. It is absolutely beautiful. She croons with the piano in the foreground. This one stands out in my mind from the rest of the album simply because of the beautiful lyrics and the tune. This is a very sad song though. That is one thing I love about Tori. Her ability to pull out these strong emotions in her music to make you feel what she's talking about. Even if you don't always understand the lyrics, you can feel the meaning.
7. Curtain Call: This song reminds me of ADP. There is a song on that album where Tori goes from the low range and to an incredibly high range in the background. It creates a haunting and surreal feeling to the music. I love the buildup to the chorus. It has a delicious tensity to it.
8. Fire to Your Plain: This was the second song I heard from this album before it was released. I love that there is double meaning in the title. Plain can be read as the rolling plains of the midwest. Or it can be read as the opposite of eccentric and flashy. One meaning is more literal while the other is figurative. I really like the figurative reading of it. This woman sets fire to the plainness of this man's life/world. In such a reading, this song could be thought of as a love song. But then...if she's setting fire to his plain...then she is also destroying it. Such depth is what I love about Tori. You just can't find such literary beauty in very many artists today.
9. Police Me: Speaking of double meanings. Police...to regulate or keep in order...If said fast (as Tori does back and forth) it sounds more like Please...for pleasure, gratify. I tend to think this was purposely done. That being said...with the Please double reading it gives it more of a sexual theme. That's all I will say about that.
10. That Guy: This has a classic sound to it. It almost sounds like she's singing through a filter to make it sound older. Love it.
11. Abnormally Attracted to Sin: This is a return to the religious theme that pops up a lot in Tori's music. Her dad is a preacher so it makes sense that she would hit this topic. In this song she seems to be degrading the idea that you have to be perfect to attend church. We're all human and each of us have attractions to sins. She seems to be saying that religion says that this is an abnormal thing and if you have inclinations to sin...don't even bother coming to church. I think if you take Tori's music at face value you will be offended. But if you understand that she likes to point fingers at bad logic and things that happen in our world, you will find that she is not condoning these things. She is making a statement. I love the groove of this song that is at once haunting and moving.
12. 500 Miles: I really like the movement of this song. It feels like we're walking. Again, the religious theme comes forth. She talks about breaking bread in lovers communion.
13. Mary Jane: This song is quirky and quite funny. It's a conversation between a mother and a son. The son wants to get high but he tells his seemingly naive mother that he wants to have a close relationship with "Mary Jane." Part of me thinks that the mother is high too. HA!
14. Starling: The intro to this track is interesting and has a dark, archaic feel to it. I love the references to birds throughout the whole song. "He screams in black and white just like the magpie." Or, "I woke not to a lonely lark, but to a raven's cry." And the beautiful "If a feather lined with his words becomes a blade." I love the play on words throughout.
15. Fast Horse: I love the tune to this song. It feels like a Native American chant in a way.
16. Ophelia: Love the allusion to Shakespeare's tragic character Ophelia in Hamlet. There are more allusions I know but I have yet to figure them out. When I heard this song I thought of the Ophelia Syndrome in which people let others control their lives.
17. Lady in Blue: This hearkens to Tori's Under the Pink days. It just feels like something that would be on that album. It is just purely haunting.
Tori Amos has not disappointed in the least with this new release. If nothing else, she has made me an even bigger fan. Take a gander. I would highly recommend Tori to anyone although I will warn you...she is an acquired taste.
Hey, so I'm moving back to Rigby. Yep. I'm going to be living with my parents again. I have some reservations about this whole thing, but it will be a good move. I'm hoping it won't be for too long. No offense, Mum and Dad, love ya but I'm 25 and need to be independent. But I am grateful to have parents who are willing to provide shelter to their aging son who is still single and just graduated from college.
So tomorrow I get the lovely task of packing my things, piling it into my car, and taking it all to Rigby.
I just wanted to say Happy Mother's Day to all the mum's out there. Especially to my mom. She is amazing. Not only did she put up with me, Brittany, and Kate for so many years, she has also took on the task of raising her grandbaby, Giselle (Gigi). Watching my Mom and Dad take on an infant has been an awesome experience just because I get to see them work their parental magic all over again and learn from them. Gigi is in good hands.
And I also wanted to say Happy Mother's day to Katie! She gets to officially celebrate this day because she gave birth to Morgan and Wyatt almost 4 months ago! I've learned a lot from watching her take care of her boys.
So, in case you didn't know, I am working on a novel. It's been a long process. When I say "long"...the last time I guesstimated the time this novel has taken me I figured it to be about 2 years. That's from conception to now. It has completely changed from my original idea to what it has become. Now that I'm graduated I have decided it's time to get focusing on finishing this seemingly neverending project.
That is easier said than done. I have had major writer's block for a good...I'd say...six months. There's no real reason for it. The novel itself wasn't lagging as far as story. I just couldn't get the motivation to write. And I wasn't exactly sure where I was going with it.
One night I forced myself to write and I had a little breakthrough that only lasted a couple days. SLAM! Another brick wall in my way. This time I wasn't certain if I'd ever be able to finish the story let alone write another story again. I was worried that I had set myself up to do something for a living that I would end up hating. All those years of schooling and writing papers had, in my mind, only drained me of any creative juices I had.
Luckily, I was wrong. All I did was force myself to write. I knew that if I could just get to this certain point in my novel, I would be all right. It was just getting to that point that was going to be painful. Hopefully that part won't be painful for my readers.
Lately, I've been on a writing streak which has been quite exciting for me. I haven't felt this jolt of energy for writing in a really long time. I know it may not last that long, but, for now, I am going to ride this creative wave.
(If you want to read what I have written so far...I am willing to share if you ask nicely...)
Wow. It's been almost a month since my last post. Life after graduation has been pretty cool, but all I basically live at Deseret Book where I work. And when I'm not there I'm at home just fiddlin' around.
I had to think of something to put on my blog. I thought this would be entertaining.
About two years ago, some friends I worked with at Wal-Mart made the comment that I looked like Vince Vaughn (He's on Wedding Crashers, The Breakup, Dodgeball, and Mr. & Mrs. Smith). Then I had another friend tell me the exact same thing just shortly after that.
It gets weirder.
A customer came in to Deseret Book a couple weeks ago and said, "Hey, has anyone ever told you you look like that guy on Dodgeball? What's his name?" I knew where he was going with it and helped him out. "Vince Vaughn. Yeah, I've heard it before."
Jake Taylor graduated from Brigham Young University-Idaho with a Bachelor of Arts degree in professional writing. He is the author of The Tales of the Unluckiest Lucky Girl series. He is also an avid reader, traveler, movie-watcher, and music lover. He currently serves in the US Navy and is stationed in San Diego, CA.