Friday, February 24, 2012

Weird and Witchy

Why am I so drawn to the weird and witchy? I think it's because I've always believed in the magic of the everyday. All around us an alchemy shifts and shapes itself, crackling through the air. We're all part of some magnetic field where our auras guide and nurture. In other words, we go through our days -- mundane events like stopping at the mini-mart for a gallon of milk, typing an email at work, paying bills, and walking the dog coexist alongside epic events like big breakups, family conflicts, world wars, and spiritual quests -- but mixed in with our actions are our *intentions*. That's why certain musical artists (Tori Amos, Florence + the Machine) speak so clearly and loudly to me; they are tapped into this same way of seeing the world and they express it both sonically and visually, through their music and through their videos & album art, respectively.

Just in the past few weeks, I've fallen for two new artists -- the band Austra and the solo act Zola Jesus. For those of you who like your Bjork with a side of Eurythmics and a dessert of Goldfrapp will appreciate these gals and their key players.

Here's a video for Austra's "Spellwork" off their debut album Feel It Break:

And here's the video for Zola Jesus' "Vessel" off her album Conatus:

Both these videos have this almost '80s vibe to them, in their own unique ways. "Spellwork" harkens back to Ladyhawke (the film, not the singer, though I love her too and could easily include her in this blog post. Her new album comes out March 20th, FYI). Watching this video drops you into some pagan, woodsy ritual where danger meets magic, and witches dance, summoning their power through hedonism and seduction and taking chances. "Vessel," on the other hand, seems extracted straight out of Conan the Barbarian, as if Zola Jesus is a modern-day Valeria, some warrior sorceress on an adventure in the high desert. Both videos are earthy and elemental in theme while using electronica and techno pulses to cast their incantations.

Enjoy! I sure am.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

A Monster Calls

On Monday I posted the following comment to Patrick Ness's "Visitors" page (

Dear Mr. Ness,

Thank you for diving into your spiritual guts to write "A Monster Calls." Last weekend I was in my favorite local bookstore (Green Bean Books) here in Portland, Oregon, to pick up a book I'd ordered. I saw "A Monster Calls" sitting out on the "Recommended" shelf and was immediately drawn to it. First, I trust the store owner's picks, but second, I was struck by the beautiful similarity in tone and illustration to Clyde Robert Bulla's "The Ghost of Windy Hill." Have you read -- and were you and Jim Kay inspired by -- this children's book? The illustrations by Don Bolognese are shadowy doppelgangers to the work you've both lovingly done here, and as I read your book this weekend I was transported back to a time and place in childhood that is hard to capture.

I teared up at the end of the book, and started telling my boyfriend how touched I was by the work you and Mr. Kay have done. Because of my relationship with my own mother -- who introduced "The Ghost of Windy Hill" to me -- and because I'm a writer too, I felt a pure kinship with this novel. After finishing it, I felt cracked open with faith and truth and melancholic longing and the strength of spirit and the purity of letting go when it's most important.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being brave, and for honoring Siobhan Dowd. You have a modern day classic on your hands, and I'm appreciative of the opportunity to now call myself a fan.

Nathan Buck

Friday, February 03, 2012

Pure Joy & Laughter

Who doesn't want and need a good dose of pure joy and laughter? And who better to bring it to you than Kristen Bell, aka Veronica Mars? Many of you know that Veronica Mars is one of my favorite shows of all time (and should be one of yours too). And Kristen Bell is one of my favorite actresses. (She, Neve Campbell, and Keri Russell form my Holy Trinity.)

Here's Kristen at her finest. You've been warned: you may shed a (joyful) tear or two!

(p.s. One of these days I'm going to have someone show me how to "embed" the clips themselves -- so all you have to do is click "Play" and watch them right on my blog. I haven't mastered that technology yet!)