Friday, May 26, 2006


I wasn't going to write here today but I had two interesting experiences yesterday that made the word "strength" immediately pop into my head....My mother called after a tiring & trying couple days down in Chicago. The father of a friend of the family had passed away, and Mom wanted to show her respect by attending the wake and funeral. How strange, first off, it must have been for her to see some of her old South Side friends, but even more strange that she was one of the only women who actually showed up out of the group and that she was left talking to the guys, who were all C's friends originally. (The friend of the family has known C since childhood). As for C? Yes, he was there with MA, and Mom told me that she didn't know how to react so she shook his hand and asked how he was.....Must have been a strange experience, you know, 20 yrs., 3 kids, and lots of stuff just shake hands like that. But she said they were actually pleasant to one another; she'd brought him pictures of us from our trip to Scotland; and in the cemetery, while she was crying and contemplating life's losses and possibilities--saying goodbye to people, moving here to Portland--C even offered some kind words to her. Here's the "strong" part, though: As she turned to leave, she said maybe he should call his three sons, to check in with them. She did so kindly and with genuine concern. But what did C do? His viper tendencies came out, and he spat at her, "It's because of you that they hate me! You've brainwashed them!" And what did Mom do in return? --and you go, girl!--she said, "No, C, it's because of you that they feel the way they do. They're all adults. You're the one who showed them your true colors. You have no one to blame but yourself." And they both walked away, upset, in opposite directions. It's sad that C felt the need to lash out--especially in that cemetery, a place of honor and worship--but I'm glad my mom stuck to her guns and stood strong and gave him a healthy dose of his own medicine....When we talked about this, she was driving through Lemont. She'd already taken pictures of our old house, and as we chatted she passed Stephanie Treece's house (she was our babysitter and I think of her with such love and fondness) and St. Patrick's, where I attended school back in my Catholic childhood days....She was on her way to visit her parents' graves and to bring them flowers....I love you and your strength, Mom! You are such an example to Jordan, Aaron, and me!....Here's my other example from yesterday: In the evening I attended a reading for Write Around Portland (WRAP), an organization that provides creative writing workshops for people who might not otherwise have the opportunity to participate in one. Various groups are represented through WRAP: runaway teenagers, LGBT teens, teen mothers, men and women who've spent time in prison, people with disabilities, people recovering from substance abuse, survivors of Hurricane Katrina, people living with HIV & AIDS, and others....(And if you want to learn more about WRAP simply check out their website at: Maybe you're just curious, or maybe you want to get involved or donate. In any case, it's worth a look. And if any of you ever want to donate journals for any of the participants--many of them can't afford their own, and WRAP provides all writers with journals, pens, etc.--bring them to me and I'll shimmy them over to the WRAP office.) The reading was poignant, beautiful, powerful, sad, enlightening, and strengthening. Men and women, boys and girls, from all walks of life read their fiction, creative non-ficition, and poetry. The writers discussed the loves of their lives, kicking unhealthy addictions, dealing with brain damage in the aftermath of car accidents, accepting their HIV status, accepting becoming a mother when you're not even eighteen, learning to find meaning in the deaths of those close to us....One young woman, M, read a piece called "The Dishes," and I was so incredibly moved when she compared washing dishes to raising a family, how some people seem to do it so effortlessly, the way they scrub and dry and keep everything in order....But for M, like so many of us (if not for all of us when it comes down to it, really) we sometimes find stains on the glass, or forget to get rid of all the scum on the plates, or something shatters, or something is forgotten. M is just one of the multitudes who had the strength and courage to get up there in front of an audience and share their stories....People discussed dragons and anger, hurricanes and caskets, tears and laughter. Yes, there was laughter too. And lots of smiles. That's the best part, isn't it? Taking sadness and bathing it with grace? So thank you, Mom and everyone involved with WRAP, for once again showing me that despite all this yuckiness in the world there's also bucketloads of dignity, compassion, and strength. Big shout-outs, my friends, always!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Perspective (2)

Remember Gizmo and all the other Gremlins? My family went camping the summer this movie was released, and I begged and begged my parents to take us out of the campgrounds so we could see it on the big-screen. They obliged, and I became obsessed. Gremlins crosses my mind from time to time: how they went from cute to terrifying if not taken care of properly; the controversy surrounding the film...."Is this a kids film or a grown-ups film?"; and I flash back to the disturbing scene with Phoebe Cates's character, Kate, and how her father pretended to be Santa Claus, climbed down the chimney, then slipped and fell and broke his neck at Christmas; he wasn't discovered until his decaying smell permeated the house. I think about that scene a lot, actually--its power and sadness in the midst of this mainstream Hollywood (and maybe kids) movie. In addition, Jordan has this weird ability to speak the languages of other species, some of them from this dimension, some of them not. (Example: in New York, we played a Deep Forest album really loud and he chanted along with it perfectly.) On a family vacation a few years ago, while we playing cards and drinking beer, Jordan just busted out in "Mogwai" without a single hitch....But, as for my perspective angle of this post, maybe the best thing I recall about this film is that I wanted a Gizmo doll so badly that my heart ached. I used my first allowance to buy one. At the time I saved ten whole dollars and I thought I'd died and gone to Heaven. Poor Gizmo: he's probably still stuck in a box somewhere fighting off dustballs and generations of fleas.

Funny how the things in childhood--the things so important to us, almost ridiculously so--take on new meanings the older we get. And I'm sure when I'm 80, looking back at 29, I'll do the same thing. And in future lifetimes, when I'm looking back at this little flame of my time as Nathan Buck, I'll think, "Oh boy, you were such a goofball."

I can't help but provide these other examples of things/times when I thought my world would come to an end if everything didn't go my way. Funny, they're all related to TV and movies! And, as many of you know, I've never quite gotten over my pop culture whoredom. I started at a young age; so sue me.

1) Scooby Doo was my favorite show in my early years. (Daphne was my favorite character--Hello, Gaydar alert! Plus, she had all that red hair. Hmm. Maybe she was my precursor to Tori.) One time my mom got me home "too late" from running some errand and I missed an episode, and I screamed and cried bloody murder because how could this happen to me!

2) One day my brothers and I misbehaved so badly (this might have been the same day as the legendary horse whip incident) that she wouldn't take us to see Adventures in Babysitting (until she relented and took us, like, the next week). This broke my heart because I thought I was in love with Elisabeth Shue. Looking back, I don't think I was in love with her so much as I wanted to be her....When Cocktail came out, I was like, "Mom! I really like her!" so she took me to see it. But, really, it must have been that glimpse in the commercial of her and Tom Cruise kissing under the waterfall, and I probably just had a crush on Tom Cruise....Funny, there are so many movies from childhood where I used to go, "That guy is so cool!" but I realize now I had pre-pubescent crushes. My biggest one? Barrett Oliver, who played Bastian in the original The Neverending Story and was also the title character in D.A.R.Y.L. I had me a boy-crush back in the day! (And, in true geek fashion, I've even Googled him semi-recently to see what he's been up to. If only he knew that he could have had me back in 1984 when The Neverending Story was released! Sigh....)

3) There were these stuffed toys as kids--Popples, Aaron just reminded me of their names--that folded inside their pouches and became these poofy little balls. Then you could unfold these marsupial-like oddities back into their multi-colored original states of being. There was this special on TV, a half-hour live-action/Muppet-ish show, about the Popples and this girl they befriended. I remember that Mom and Dad forced me to stay at the dinner table in the kitchen while the program was recording, which pissed me off 'cause I hated commercials and I didn't want them interfering in my later viewing pleasure. I prayed to God--I swear this is true--that if I could have one wish in my whole life it would be that the Popples program would magically record without any commercials; I would never ask Him for anything else.

4) On a related note, when VCRs first became popular, I thought that you couldn't record programs without the noises being recorded in a room, too. In my typically bossy way, I would order Jordan and Aaron to be quiet so that they're voices wouldn't be "stuck" on the tapes with the TV shows.

5) Other TV tidbits you might appreciate: I used to sit in a chair right by the VCR, with my finger on the button, because I didn't want a single moment of commercials to get on the tape. I wanted the movies and TV shows to look "official." And I thought I was super high-tech when I would "splice" movies and their sequels/programs together. Two examples come to mind: I recorded Karate Kid II immediately after the first film, and I chopped off the ending credits of Part 1 and the opening credits of Part 2 so it would become one giant movie. In my head I went, "Well, Part 2 picks up the same night as Part 1. This way, it all flows naturally." The second example: I recorded the movie Starman (which is amazing, by the way, and has one of the most haunting scores ever, composed by John Carpenter) and then recorded the pilot for the TV spin-off immediately after, once again chopping off the credits so that it all became a giant "masterpiece"....Finally, Jordan, Aaron, and I always used to see who could wake up earliest on Saturday mornings so we could sneak into the living room and get first dibs on the recliner for cartoon bliss. Snagging that recliner seemed more important than the actual programs themselves! (Thank you Wildfire, Smurfs, Snorkels, Dungeons & Dragons, and Muppet Babies, just to name a few.)

I'll leave you with this, a final "important" memory and another example that being gay is innate in the blood: JEM became my pre-adolescent favorite show. It played on Sundays for a while--where they'd show ten minutes of three programs in a half-hour slot, each segment always "To Be Continued..."--and my dad would ask me to go outside and throw the football around with him. What could I say, though, but no--even when I saw his slumped shoulders and that disappointed look in his eyes? JEM was on, Dad, come on, get with the program, literally! JEM/Jerrica Bennett was and is truly outrageous, she had those kick-ass earrings, and I wanted her and the rest of the Holograms to whomp the Misfits. She also had great '80s clothes, a muse named Synergy, and a boyfriend--Eric--who was just too dreamy. If anyone, anywhere, in any political agenda has lingering notions about homosexuality being a choice in this day and age, they should just jump a time machine to my childhood and watch me watching JEM with open-eyed awe. Then they'll shrug, say, "Huh, it is true!", start supporting the gay community, and the world will be a better place.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Another Cemetery Man Pic (Or, Who doesn't think Rupert Everett is gorgeous?)

Cemetery Man - A Must See

Great horror films are like zombies – the best ones always come back!

On Tuesday, June 13th, Anchor Bay Entertainment, an IDT Entertainment company, will release the eagerly-awaited U.S. DVD premiere of Cemetery Man, one of the most requested horror titles of the last decade. Revered by consumers and industry critics alike for releasing classic and cult horror films, Anchor Bay continues that tradition for Cemetery Man (aka Dellamorte Dellamore) with a new anamorphic widescreen transfer, and resurrected with a SRP of $19.98.

Directed by Michele Soavi, Cemetery Man stars Rupert Everett (My Best Friend's Wedding and the voice of Prince Charming in Shrek 2) as Francesco Dellamore, a cemetery caretaker who finds that his seemingly dead-end job has recently become a little harder. Along with his sidekick Gnaghi (Francois Hadji-Lazaro), Francesco spends his days interning corpses and his nights killing “returners” – those who have risen from their grave seven days after burial. Life changes for Francesco when he falls for a beautiful, mysterious widow (Anna Falchi). When fate intervenes, Francesco must choose between Love Eternal and the Living Dead…

Ever since its release in 1994, Cemetery Man has shocked and tickled with its unique balance of the macabre and the comical. Anchor Bay Entertainment dug deep to find bonus features worthy of the film's reputation, including:
Widescreen Presentation (1.66:1), enhanced for 16x9 TVs
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Death is Beautiful: The Making of Cemetery Man featuring all-new cast and crew interviews, including director Michele Soavi, star Anna Falchi and more
Michele Soavi Bio

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Madonna - The Ultimate Fag Hag

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

New York City (Or, I Felt the Mermaids at Coney Island)

My trip to NYC to visit my brothers and mother was just perfect--one of those vacations filled with so many perfect moments. One of the highlights was when we went to Coney Island, ate Nathan's Famous Coney Dogs (wow, could those creamy garlic fries be any more delicious?), walked along the boardwalk with ice cream cones, and took pictures along the peeling wall filled with poetry and pictures of seahorses. Jordan and I discussed how we felt the mermaids swimming under and around the piers. It takes a special mermaid to live there, where history is still trying to catch up to itself, where the waters and structures are dirty but resilient. Even the rides--which weren't running on that weekday--gave off these stoic vibrations. (I really look forward to riding you, Tilt-a-Whirl.) I was filled with peace at Coney Island, a jagged, hard-edged peace where my soul got filled with all these hardcore tattoos....The rest of the trip filled me with so much joy....Shopping....The Bodies Exhibit, where we studied/examined human cadavers that have been preserved. We were witness to arteries and veins, bones and muscle, skin and organs, fetuses during different stages of development, conjoined twins, diseases of the lungs and genitals. I actually got a bit sick to my stomach near the end and had to hurry through the last part. This queasy panic-attack feeling kinda set in....We ate at Rice to Riches, which had the best rice pudding in the universe (go chocolate!)....Had brunch at Yuca (Sangria/French Toast/Coffee/Mimosa), followed by many beverages at many, many bars. It was so good to see Jim again, and to meet Carl, and to just embrace all this time with my family and friends....Mom and I watched Lestat, the musical, which was fabulous. My favorite parts (besides the gorgeousness and voice of the lead, Hugh Panaro) were Claudia's bedroom set, with that canopy bed and all the disturbing dolls hanging all over the place, and the Theatre of the Vampires, where white-skinned vamps wearing white masks curled and danced up between these strips of silk that were supposed to be grass....Saw a couple movies, watched Tori and Sigur Ros videos....Went to the Prospect Park Zoo with Jordan. I loved seeing the owl! What a cute and perfect little zoo!....We went out dancing one night at the Pyramid Club; it was gay '80s night; highlights included Ida and I toppling over onto the floor, hearing Laura Branigan's "Gloria," and meeting W, who sure knows how to kiss, let me tell you!....It was sad to say goodbye to my family, but I have to say I found some peace with it that has been hard for me in the past. I didn't go into my usual breakdown mood, and it seemed fitting that I went outside to wait for my car service to the airport, and my brothers were coming down in a minute (finishing getting ready for the Depeche Mode concert), and then the car was there, and I got in, and was able to drive off to JFK without any sad goodbyes, only contentment and happiness for all of our time together. Stephenie, Serena, Ida, Jacqueline, Austin, Oscar (a.k.a. Buddha), and the rest--so nice to spend time chilling together. Jordan, I'm glad we both felt the mermaids. Aaron, I'm glad you "made" me buy that jacket. Mom, even though we didn't find our "dream" ice cream on Broadway after Lestat, I still loved walking around with you amongst all the lights and buildings and beauty and traffic and people.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Why I Am a Huge Dork

It's no secret that I'm a huge dork. Yes, I like to pretend I have some wise insights into life. Really, though, I'm just a dorky dood. And, yes, I spelled "dude" wrong on purpose--to show my true nature. When I was in the fifth grade, Ms. Stevenson left the room for a few minutes. All the kids ran up to the blackboard to write messages. I wanted to be "cool" too, so I ran up and for whatever reason wrote "dood," thinking that word would make me seem in-the-know. Of course, someone pointed out immediately that it was spelled wrong--luckily, no one knew it was me who'd written it, so I was safe....Regardless, I was reminded today of why I think I may always be the court jester instead of the prince. I am posting below an email I sent to the WB....I forwarded a copy to my family, and Aaron wrote me back. His response is at the bottom. So while you stare above at this delicious photo of Scott Speedman (a.k.a. Ben from Felicity) just know that I really, really want to know people's answer to the pivotal question on the T-shirt. ****************************************************************************
Hello, everyone at the WB! I hope this email finds you well. I know this is a shot in the dark, but I was curious if anyone, anywhere, had any of those t-shirts lying around that say "Ben...Or Noel?" I watched "Felicity" religiously when it was on the air and quickly snapped up the box sets for all the seasons once they were released on DVD. I remember reading about these T-shirts (for promos, maybe) when the second season kicked into gear...after Felicity had to make a decision about whether to go with Ben or Noel for the summer. Basically, I thought it would be fantastic to wear one of these shirts, to have it in my collection. And think: free press for people to buy the DVDs when they ask me what my shirt means! So I thought I'd throw this out there and see if it was possible to have one of these shirts mailed to me--I'd even pay for it. I know that you are all merging with UPN, and I thought, Heck, maybe they're cleaning shop and need fans to give these shirts away to;) I'm a 6'2" male with a slender build (about 155 lbs.) and would love, love, love it if I could pose the ultimate question: Ben or Noel? (I say Ben, but I won't make Noel angry by mentioning this aloud.) Thanks so much, and have a fantastic rest of your day.

Best Regards,
Nathan Buck
Aaron's response:
I love that you're such a loser. I think it's worth a try.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

a very perky post

I finished reading the perks of being a wallflower inside this coffee shop that used to be an old school house, from around the turn of the century....The snow had blown in and created a huge storm, and I remember looking outside Toad's Coffee House at the way the blanket of white layered the ground and the trees, the cars and the sidewalks. I was listening to Tori's Little Earthquakes, and I just cried and cried when I finished this book. Charlie--the protagonist--and I have some eerie similarites. He and I have the same birthday; we both started high school at the same time (if I've done my math correctly); and his experiences echo my own at Big Foot High School in Walworth, WI. This little beautiful book encompasses so much: death, abuse (physical, emotional, substance), coming to terms with one's sexuality, family relationships both healed and broken, friendships, the power of music, sex, and how to move from the shadows into your own skin. I'm a lucky guy: I've had the opportunity to chat with the author, Stephen Chbosky, on a few occasions, by phone and email. He's a warm, sensitive soul with a sassy edge of stark humor. Just the way I like 'em. For anyone who wants to look back at their high school memories and cultivate some meaning from them, please run-not-walk to your local bookstore and snatch up perks. It may just save your life. Isn't it wonderful how books transport us, change us? I've been lucky enough to communicate with a few writers in my day; well, okay, I've sent them letters and/or emails of thanks, and some have written back;) Kelly Braffet, author of Josie and Jack, wrote me a kick-ass letter inside a beautiful she's engaged to Stephen King's son and her novel can be drawn deliciously to Flowers in the Attic, but for the modern day goth teen inside us all. I also recommend you read Chris Crutcher's Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes, which has had a hugely powerful effect on me and stayed with me through the ages. (His authorized website is Mr. Crutcher has been generous, and insightful, and kind in his words to me. I don't know about Ms. Braffet, but both Stephen Chbosky's and Chris Crutcher's books have been banned from schools for their content. Funny, that stuff makes me want to read a writer's work more! They're willing to take emotional risks and not talk down to teenagers and to bathe us all in sad, funny, powerful truths that ripple across all ages. Finally (and I'm sure I'll write lots on her in the future), you must all immediately read the works of Francesca Lia Block. If Tori Amos is the faerie queen of music (though some would argue she and Kate Bush might sit elegantly side-by-side), then Francesca Lia Block is the faerie queen of young adult literature. Her Weetzie Bat books spell out my soul in prose-poetry: Weetzie Bat, Witch Baby, Cherokee Bat and the Goat Guys, Missing Angel Juan, Baby Be-Bop, and Necklace of Kisses. [Note: The first five books have been lovingly bound in a collection entitled Dangerous Angels. I recommend buying DA and Necklace of Kisses, then treating yourself to your favorite ice cream, a hammock, and some Lilith Fair music. Okay, I'll give in: for those who are a little more hard-edged than the Lilith Fair crowd, I'll allow you to listen to PJ Harvey.....I have many, many music suggestions. Write me and I'll give them to you. Guys. Gals. Instrumental. The works.] I feel so blessed to find my identity in all these books, to shape who I am through a sentence or paragraph that just breaks my heart in all the right ways. Reading a great book is like meeting God; we find out that we're all connected, that someone else out there has captured in words what we've felt and experienced and here we are, in that hammock, mouthing Truth upon Truth upon Truth. And that ice cream tastes really damn good, too.