Jeff NC

spells and jokes

Q. What does a Hufflepuff see when he looks into a box of cheerios?
A. Donut seeds.

Q. Why do Hufflepuffs always smile during lightning storms?
A. They think their picture is being taken.

Q. How do you get Hufflepuff s to laugh at a joke on Saturday?
A. Tell it to them on Tuesday.

Q. What did the Hufflepuff name its pet zebra?
A. Spot.

Q. How did the Hufflepuff try to kill the fish?
A. By drowning.

Q. What did the Hufflepuff say when she saw a banana peel on the floor?
A. Oh no, I'm going to fall again!

Q: Why did the Hufflepuff nurse bring a red marker to work?
A: In case he had to draw blood!

Tarantallegra Spell Forces opponent to dance

Orchideous Spell Conjures a bunch of flowers

Expecto Patronum


Creates a Patronus

Alohomora Charm Opens locked objects



Knocks out opponent



Creates light at wand tip

Why did Professor Snape stand in the middle of the road?
So no one could tell what side he was on.

How many trolls does it take to light up a wand?

How many Voldemorts does it take to light up a wand?
None. Why do you think he’s called the *Dark* Lord?

What does a death eater eat for breakfast? Cruci-O’s!

Where do you find Dumbledore’s army? In his sleevie!

What do you call a polite, well-dressed, and nice man at a Slytherin dinner?
The waiter.

knock knock.
who's there?
wingardium levio.
wingardium levio-who?
It's wingardium leviosAAAAAAAAH!

How many Moaning Myrtles does it take to light a wand?

Answer: That's so insensitive! How can you ask me that when you know perfectly well I can't hold a wand because
Jeff NC

Jim Butcher's recent lj post on the perseverance it takes to keep writing

is a great combination of realistically bleak and inspiring. Mr. Browne had something to say about this waaaaay back in about 1980:

Nobody rides for free. Nobody gets it like they want it to be. Nobody.

The relevant post is here:

btw, the entry on the great swampy middle had a lot to do with my getting out of novel-stuckness. Helpful stuff.
Jeff NC

Jimmy Gownley is a total rock star.

The new Amelia Rules graphic novel is out and it is fantastic. Here's the wiki page for the high-context, low-detail explanation:!

On tone and voice and just enough snark/edge whatever, plus a ton of heart and story and interesting characters, he is very near the center circle of my ideal in writing for upper elementary/middle school kids.

Well, excepting Jo, who is in her own parallel universe of greatness. :)
Jeff NC

music meme

your favorite song: I got stuck right off the bat. Umm. Dude. OK. I’m gonna say “Blackbird.”

your least favorite song: so many to pick from. I’m gonna say “You Were Always on my Mind,” which slickly sells a theme I detest (“Don’t judge me by my actions, judge me by professed sentiment.”)

a song that makes you happy: “And Your Bird Can Sing (giggling version from Anythology),” Beatles

a song that makes you sad: “Idiot Wind,” Bob Dylan

a song that reminds you of someone: “Cassidy,” Grateful Dead

a song that reminds you of somewhere: “The Coast,” Courtyard Hounds

a song that reminds you of a certain event: “You Wreck Me Baby,” Tom Petty

a song that you know all the words to: many, many, many, but I’ll go with Mr. Zimmerman’s “Girl of the North Country.”

a song that you can dance to: anything by the Dead. Mystic taffy, anyone?

a song that makes you fall asleep: any long keyboardy overly-impressive complicated non-catchy thing by Yes.

a song from your favorite band: That would be the Beatles, but for variety I’ll go with REM: “Driver 8.”

a song from a band you hate: “The Question,” The Moody Blues. WOW, does this crap not hold up. Too much affected ungrounded “oh, it’s all so deeeeep.” Used to love this stuff….when I was 15.

a song that is a guilty pleasure: not that guilty about it, but I still love a lot of KISS songs.

a song that no one would expect you to love: Glee version of “Billionaire.” Awesomely stupid fun.

a song that describes you: “All my Life,” Todd Snider

a song that you used to love but now hate: can't think of one

a song that you hear often on the radio: “This is Why We Fight,” by the Decemberists

a song that you wish you heard on the radio: more Bevis Frond. “New River Head,” for starters.

a song from your favorite album: hmmm…I’ll say “Glass Onion,” from the White Album

a song that you listen to when you’re angry: “Positively 4th Street”

a song that you listen to when you’re happy: “Code Monkey,” Jonathan Coulton

a song that you listen to when you’re sad: “Last Minute Shakedown,” Son Volt

a song that you want to play at your wedding: “Here, There, and Everywhere,” by the Beatles :)

a song that you want to play at your funeral: Jackson Browne’s version of “Stay” strikes me as a really funny funeral song, and I always say that’s what I want, but seriously? Not sure. Maybe Joey Ramone’s “What a Wonderful World.”

a song that makes you laugh: “Life is Grand,” Camper Van Beethoven

a song that you can play on an instrument: I play and sing a bunch of songs (I play basic chord-versions), but for right now I’ll go with Chuck Berry’s “Nadine.”

a song that you wish you could play: anything with some virtuosity involved, but I’ll say Mr. Knopfler’s lead line from “Sultans of Swing.”

a song that makes you feel guilty: Patty Griffin’s “Be Careful.” Not just guilty, but guilty.

a song from your childhood: “School’s Out,” by Alice Cooper

your favorite song at this time last year: “Phoenix Burn,” Alpha Rev
Jeff NC

loud damn guitars with memphis horns.

I am right now stuck on a sound: loud damn guitars with memphis horns.

Danny Gatton's cover of "Apricot Brandy" is the gold standard, but it's not on the youtube.These exemplars will give you the idea.

What I want is MORE OF SAME! Suggestions?
Jeff NC

a good old-fashioned LJ meme!

i got this from my friend Lisa, who is mingsmommy on LJ:

• Comment with "Come at me, bro"
• I'll respond by asking you five questions so I can get to know you better.
• Update your journal with the answers to the questions.
• Include this explanation in the post and offer to ask other people questions.

1. So, you know, you're one of my favorite people and as near perfect as human beings are likely to get. I am in awe of you, constantly with a WWJD (What would Jeff do?) mentality, but we all have qualities that don't serve us well...what's the one quality you have that you hope you don't pass on to your kids?

I’ll begin by saying that I deeply appreciate your high regard, and that it is very much mutual. It seems to me that most traits are good or bad largely as a matter of context and balance, you know, there’s a time to breathe in and a time to breathe out, turn, turn, all that true stuff. So, for example, it’s good to be disciplined about goals, but I can easily imagine someone wasting a life by being overly goal-oriented and missing the journey. I think my most typical failing, week-in, week-out, is with focus. When I’m present and focused, I bust a move. But I’m often distracted and unfocused and am spinning my wheels. That’s not a trait I’m hoping gets replicated. I’m better than I used to be about it. Still learning. Still screwing up. Still growing.

2. What's the hardest part of every day for you?

Hardest part of every day: day-in, day-out, it’s 5:30-6:30. I work till the last minute I have to leave to do kid pickups, and then I dash out from the office, fight traffic, and as we’re all getting home, it’s a race against the clock to get dinner on the table and still have some family time before Harrison’s bedtime. We’re all hungry and wrung out from the day. Then, dinner is served and everything changes. Aaaaaah.

3. What's the worst meal you ever made?

My worst cooking experiences were probably early attempts at frying. It took a lot of failures to get the operation down. Nowadays I can whip up some awesome onion rings, fried shrimp, et cetera, but the combination of how hot the oil should be and how to manage breading and/or batter was not easy for me. There were some soggy and unappealing meals along the way.

4. What's something you've done where you surprised yourself?

I’ll tell you a big way I surprised myself: I learned to juggle at age 30. I’m SOOOOOO word-oriented that more kinesthetic kinds of learning, where you’re *doing* something rather than understanding something in words, is kind of hard for me. I wasn’t quick to learn to ride a bike, or tie my shoes. I am a little klutzy. So the coordination to learn to juggle was a stretch, but it appealed to me, and I just decided to learn, however long it took, and I got very patient with myself and gave it a lot of time, and didn’t get hung up on how much progress I’d made…and I learned, and now I can juggle. I’m not awesome at it, but I can do it.

5. You've always, in the going on 30 years I've known you, been a loving, creative, fun and funny person, but under all that you've had this peaceful presence. Is that something you were born with or something you developed by the time you were 20?

I agree that I have a better-than-average ability to be centered and to access a deep peacefulness and ease of spirit, even in difficult circumstances. Not always, but often. Like everything else we are, it’s probably some combination of genetics, nurture, and individual free will/choice/agency. I most definitely find the moment between stimulus and response and choose centeredness plenty of times (and fail to choose it, too often). And I think it makes sense as an outgrowth of my experiences—I got a lot of good unconditional love as a baby/toddler/little kid, and then got some perspective-granting hard knocks in my adolescence, and maybe that combination is especially good at teaching resilience and ability to cope well with life’s dings and dents and worse? I think so. There’s an excellent writer/researcher named Joanathan Haidt who argues that this is a good recipe for happiness. Haidt’s work, plus a few other things I’ve read recently, also turn my thought in the direction of genes. I see a similar disposition “set point” of optimism with Cassidy and with Harrison, and--through a different lens--with Dylan. And I look a lot like my maternal grandmother’s brother’s looked, and they were all very accomplished and happy people. Bottom line, I think I got, and passed on, good genes on this issue and am grateful for it. I’m also pretty happy about the follicle situation, wherein I still have most of my hair, a few inches of extra forehead notwithstanding.
Jeff NC

Across the state of Texas, to the land of dreams

I’m super-stuck on Randy Newman’s song “Dixie Flyer.”

Really great stuff. I urge you to go to grooveshark right now and listen to it like three or four times in a row. Don’t go to youtube, which has live versions but not the actual album track, because the album track is what you want. Really-really-really! Do it! You’ll be totally glad you did! Maybe you’ll want to buy it, too. Randy deserves your money.

It has so much going on; it is rewarding many (many) listenings on my part.

Musically, it’s both beautiful and interesting--values which aren't consistently coterminus over time--with Newman’s piano striking/haunting/pretty in the instrumental sections and then in the choruses moving to catchy-bluesy, and then--giving your ear a lot to notice--rolling along with a long fade featuring Mark Knopfler on both slide guitar and mandolin.

Lyrically, it’s even better than it is musically. There’re (literally) laugh-out-loud funny lines in there and great word-sounds and rhythms (it begins: “I was born right here, November ’43; Dad was a captain in the Army, Fightin’ the Germans in Sicily”). The reunion scene of the mother and daughter is a poignant moment that (literally) can bring a tear to my eye, and the word pictures are vivid (e.g. “dress as black as a crow in a coal mine”). The tone is knowing, sweet, and particularly smart about family.

Best of all: in a career of character songs, smart snark, thematic projects, et cetera, this is one of the few times Newman has written a really-about-him 1st-person song, and IN THAT SONG he has a very good section about people WISHING THEY COULD BE SOMEONE BESIDES WHO THEY ARE. The section is about his mother’s brothers, who want to act like the Southern locals “tryin’ to do like the gentiles do/Christ, they wanna be gentiles, too/who wouldn’t down there, wouldn’t you?/an American Christian, Goddamn!” and with a backdrop of WWII, that’s especially layered and rich. So I like it not just on its own immediate merits, which are considerable, but on the meta level of Randy stepping outside his wheelhouse for a minute, and while doing so, subtly critiquing his normal disguise-yourself style.

I also think it's very funny--in fact this is some of what recently sent me back to Randy Newman--that on Weeds the character of Andy uses "Randy Newman" as his incognito name. See? 'Cause Randy Newman writes in character? Hilarious.

I also reread a Randy Newman interview in Paul Zollo's very good book of songwriter interviews, and have been reading Randy Newman's old blog entries, which are awesome.

So, that's some of what's happening in my head today. Carry on. Peace and love, y'all.
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