Monday, May 25, 2020

Paper And An Ancient Art by BJ Neblett

Paper And An Ancient Art by BJ Neblett

Funny what being stuck home alone can bring out in a man. Kinda like recovering from an illness, except when you are sick people come to visit and bring you presents. Which makes me think of being 9 and having the chicken pox or mumps or some childhood plague and my father bringing me a plastic model car to build. If this lock down lasts any longer maybe I should dig out my old model stash and...
But I digress.
A few years ago I was bored (Read: retired from radio and not working) and took an origami class. I've always been very good with my hands and if you read my books, you know I have a vivid imagination, two great assets for an origami-est. (Not sure if that's a word). I found I had a knack for the ancient art, and I still enjoy the occasional paper folding session, although it's surprising how much your fingers forget while inactive. Origami is a great ice breaker and party conversation starter, not to mention it's a great way to impress the ladies. Below are few examples of my efforts over the years.

A couple of traditional swans, one of the first things you learn in origami class. Although, I'm not sure why they teach you this right off as they are a bit more involved than some other figures. But it is a good thing to know when dining in Japanese restaurants, as fashioning one is always good for a free side of something!

Hand made holiday items are always popular. Here are some Easter critters, three colorful peeps and a bunny made from a dollar bill.


Here's a neat little Christmas tree I made for my friend Alissa. As you can see, it brightened up the celebration we shared at a local coffee shop that year. I am told by purists that using more than one piece of paper and/or different objects, such as popsicle sticks is cheating. But who cares? Look how cute!

Ladies love flowers and these lilies are no exception. They are actually of my own design, involved and have a crazy amount of tiny folds. The bouquet below was for Alissa's birthday.


    Sometimes I surprise even myself. The two cool planes were designed my me in a folding frenzy. The red fighter is a Star Wars inspired space fighter. The other is a pretty cool rendition of a modern day stealth. To say I was in the zone that day would be an understatement. Try as I may, I've never been able to duplicate it!                                                                          

A couple of more animals.

Here we have a Dachshund I fashioned out of two pieces of paper while bored at work. A few days later I was really bored and gave him a red LED nose. It lights and flashes when you squeeze his tail!

Turkey anyone? Another center piece I figured out myself for the holidays. It is all one piece as are all of my creations except as noted. However I did take the liberty of cutting his tail feathers to make him look more attractive to the hen turkeys!

Here we have a dragon of sorts. Not sure if I was aiming for a dragon or not, but hey, he looks pretty good.

This little guy is a seal, an early creation while I was still taking lessons. Still holding up pretty well, despite his age.

One of my favorites, a cool little penguin. He is surprisingly easy to make, and using the double sided paper brings out his tuxedo! He's another favorite with the ladies.

If I look around a bit I'm sure I can find more, but I think you get the idea. Hope you enjoyed and I haven't bored you too much. Origami is a fun, relaxing pastime, that can be easily learned from any of the instructional books available, or on-line sites. Great for family projects. I just hope my publisher doesn't see the results of the last couple of hours when I should have been writing. Which reminds me, I fashioned three miniature examples of my books complete with front covers to go along with my bobble-head. But that's a blog for another time. Back to writing!

Sunday, May 24, 2020

More Neat Stuff by BJ Neblett

More Neat Stuff by BJ Neblett

Last time I answered several requests that I had received to show a few of the guitars you see in some of my photos. While my collection is cool, space and budget limitations tend to dictate what I can and can't collect. If you saw my apartment you'd understand. And while I'm a sucker for a vintage photo, poster or autographed album or book, I don't think I could find a bare spot left on my walls hang a tiny 5x7 postcard. That being said, yes I'm still collecting. And for those who also have space and monetary considerations, here are a few neat items that take up much less real estate.

Guitar pick guards are a less expensive and very cool way to collect and display your rock memorabilia. They can be framed separate or in a collage, or just hung as is, which is how I like to show them off. Here we have autographed pick guards from surf guitarist great Dick Dale (top left) whom I met at a local club several years ago. I've since removed the guard from the cheap Strat knock-off. Dion (top right) the early doo-wop singer I worked with many times back in the day. All four of the original Ventures (bottom left) the PNW band that made instrumentals cool in the 60s, including the theme from Hawaii Five-O. Again, removed from the Telecaster. And the crazy scribbling of Frankie Valli (bottom right) of Four Seasons fame. I also have a very cool and unusual Les Paul pick guard signed by both Eric Clapton and Les Paul!
Signed artists book bios in my collection include: Johnny Cash, the Drifters, Carole King, Darlene Love, Scotty Moore, and a few others. From guitar picks to guitars, pictures to posters, rock memorabilia makes for fun collecting and great wall art. Next time maybe we'll check out some of my vintage posters and signed records. But right now I've got to get back to writing. I promised my publisher Planet-Alt-Sete-Nine Princess Haylee by the end of the year. Look for it and the paperback edition of my collection of New Millennialism short stories, Wouldn't It Be Funny It... (available now as an ebook) around Christmas time or so.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Guitars and Stars by BJ Neblett

Something a little different for today. Many who have viewed my web page, along with the photos I have posted there and here on my blog over the years, have asked about my guitars. You may know I worked as a radio DJ (and consequently as a night club/disco DJ) for most of my adult life. As a result I've had the pleasure of working with and knowing many singers, musicians, and pop, rock and R&B/soul artists. Yes, life has been pretty good. I am also a big music fan and have a large, ever growing record collection. Then, at the tender age of 12, I picked up my first guitar and never looked back. So, for the many wonderful emails inquiring about the guitars that often accompany my pics, here is a peek inside my humble collection.

Not quite where it all began, but close. After a couple of starter guitars, I purchased my first 'good' guitar 1965. The Yamaha on the right (Amy) is an FG-180 original Red Label. The convoluted serial number systems points to this being one of the first 300 made. I know this for a fact as I was working in a music shop in 1965 and bought her a week after the Yamaha piano rep dropped her off.
On the left (Angela) is a 1968 Yamaha FG-230 12 string original Red Label, Amy's twin sister. Both ladies are all original, in excellent condition, never having been refinished or rebuilt, and like any fine instrument, play and sound better than new.
Behind them is an original '80s Rickenbacker amp.

Say hello to Emily, the forever love of my life. Emily came to me longer ago than either of us care to recall. And, like Amy, we have been through and seen more than anyone should be permitted. Emily is an all original, never touched, refinished, rebuilt, or messed with in any way, 1956 Gretsch Country Club. She comes, as with Amy and Angela, in her original hard shell case, with case candy. The stories this elegant lady could tell! And before you jump on the email, at this point in time none of my guitars are for sale.

The old workhorse when I used to play regularly, here we have a very cool solid ash Fender Stratocaster. She was born in Mexico in the 80s, and owing to her solid ash construction is a bit of a heavy weight when it comes to Strats. Some of the best player guitars from Fender came from Mexico in the early/mid 80s, and she is no exception. I'll put her handling, tone and sound up against any American made Standard Stratocaster.

Every player needs, well, a player guitar, one they can grab up at a moments notice, know it will be in tune, sound great, and be able to handle whatever: an impromptu party, street corner busting, a trip to the beach, or just chillin' at home. I stumbled upon this great China made Fender Stratacoustic several years ago and haven't put her down since. Look close and you will see Fender scrolled on the head stock. This isn't the cheapo Squire models you see everywhere. They didn't make very many of the true Fender branded versions, and regardless of its China heritage, she plays and sounds like a champ, plugged in or on her own.

I had the pleasure of working with Chuck Berry several times. Way back in the 80s I hosted a stage show with him at the Houston Summit. It's funny, but working with celebs you don't look at them quite in the same light as a fan. They are just another person as yourself hoping to entertain and maybe make a buck in the process. After the show, Chuck told me that of all the times we'd worked together, I'd never once asked for a photo or an autograph. As you can see, he showed his appreciation in spades.

Yes, that is Buddy Holly's signature... well, sort of... they lifted his actual signature and placed it on this Les Paul clone (why a Les Paul I have no idea.) Just above Buddy's name are the actual autographs of Jerry Allison, Sonny Curtis, and Joe B Mauldin, the original Crickets. No, to my knowledge Buddy never played a Les Paul, but this is still one of my prized possessions. The three original Crickets signed a very limited number of items at the Surf Ballroom's Annual Memorial Party back around 1999 I believe, and signatures of the three together are fairly rare.

Just a peek at some of my favorite toys helping to keep me sane during these crazy shelter in place times we are living in. Hope you are managing well and have something to keep you from going crazy. If it's unusual, different, or just plain cool, drop me an email and maybe a pic about it.

Monday, May 18, 2020

To The Class Of 2020 by BJ Neblett

To The Class Of 2020
BJ Neblett
© 2020

I am just a humble writer of words who once observed that, “The two greatest assets a writer can have are an unbridled imagination and to have lived an unabashed life.”1 Simplicity in itself for those existing within the hallowed pages of the world’s next great novel. But what about the rest of us? Especially those of you about to take your first tentative steps out of the shadows of innocence and into the white light of reality? Let us amend our writing analogy to focus on living in this very real, sometimes scary, and often confusing world. “The two greatest assets we are afforded in this life are observation and experience.” Observation is knowledge, the building blocks of understanding. Experience is power, the sturdy foundation on which we build our lives. Always remember that, “We are the sum total of our experiences. Those experiences – be they positive or negative – make us the person we are, at any given point in our lives. And, like a flowing river, those same experiences, and those yet to come, continue to influence and reshape the person we are, and the person we become. None of us are the same as we were yesterday, nor will be tomorrow.”2

 1 From All The Wrong Places by BJ Neblett
 2 From George by BJ Neblett  

Saturday, May 9, 2020

RIP Little Richard And Random Thoughts by BJ Neblett

Sitting here, working on Princess Haylee, book two of my Planet Alt-Sete-Nine series, and chillin' to Little Richard. As a radio DJ back in the day, I worked with Richard a couple of times. A wild man on stage, always giving 150% of himself, Little Richard was the crazy, funny guy full of boundless energy you were proud to call a friend. From washing dishes in the Macon Bus Station to support his family after his dad passed, to the many donations of his time and money to charities, many of which went unnoticed, Richard believed in people taking care of people. This was one facet of the multi-faceted entertainer I had the privilege to know. If there were one phrase that could sum up Richard's life I believe it would have to be, "always searching." Be it self identity, to religion, to a new way to bend a chord or phrase, Little Richard never stopped searching. Or entertaining.
RIP Richard.
"...if there's a rock 'n roll heaven/
you know they got a hell of a band."
                        Righteous Brothers
                        Rock 'n Roll Heaven