Category Archives: Photography

The Set: The Scene 2

Once again, if you’ve been exposed to the Earplug Adventures for long enough, it’s likely that you can recognise a scene by it’s set. Want to prove that you really know your Earplugs? Check out the following…

For this first example, we travel economy class to the Costa Blanca for some location work…

Yup, real Spanish earplugs playing Spanish characters – in the shape of Los Tapones Del España

…as they make their way to the Museum of Future Technology in Museum of Terror.

Right, that’s the easy one out of the way. What the heck is this..?

Well it wouldn’t surprise me none if nobody in the whole world got this one right. But wait a minute: isn’t that the starship, Chi-Z-Sox, lying nonchalantly upon that glazing pallet? Hmm, so what’s with the blue background and plastic tube? The answer is this…

It’s from Plunging Into Peril, in which the Chi-Z-Sox overheated upon entering a planet’s atmosphere, and dived into the sea to cool off – much like I used to do when I went metal detecting on the same beach where I set up the Museum of Terror shots. Here we see the space ship racing through the water as it attempts to flee angry locals who believe the crew are trying to steal their duterium.

Here’s another tricky one…

“Ah,” you’re thinking, “I recognise that pink rocket: that has appeared several times as the device that brought down the invading End Cap mother ship in The Invasion From Hyperspace and other alternate reality or time-travel stories, including Evil Empire!” And you’d be right. But this doesn’t come from either of those tales of derring-do. THIS is the shot that was…ah...shot here…

It’s the nuclear missile that the KT Woo fired at an ice packaging plant in Cold War. I then cheekily used it again as an on-screen shot aboard the Chi-Z-Sox, when Professor Hidious Gout fired an entirely different missile at the island of Dr Adolf Weil-Barrau in Mutant Island.

So, to the fourth and easiest puzzle. Where have you (more recently) seen this?

Look closely. Yes, it’s those adorable characters, Lillie Whitewater and William of Porridge…

…as he utilises his fine baritone to sing ‘What Becomes of the Broken Winded’ to her at the end of Haunted Mars.

Wasn’t that fun: we’ll have to convene here again.

P.S – Don’t forget that you can read or download any of the aforementioned stories by clicking the cover pictures on the sidebar.

Tooty’s Rambling Art

Whilst out walking in the rain (with a water-proof camera, of course) I chanced upon a small gully that had been worn into the side of the road by Winter’s incessant rainfall. A steep hill meant that it flowed with sufficient pace to create a micro-waterfall; so, inspired by nature, I placed my camera into the water, facing up hill. I then left the resulting photo to fester in my computer for a few weeks. Eventually I decided to do something with it. I thought that perhaps I might bring into existence another world for my Earplug Adventures. So, without any plan, I started sodding about with a free photo manipulation program – Photoscape. The resulting cyber-doodle looks like this…

The Gravity Whelk arrives on the Ice World

Who knows, it might even appear in a story one day. Talking of which, so might this shot of Magnuss creeping into a missile launch facility…

Everyone knows that back doors are always left unguarded – don’t they?

Earplugs without Pictures 6

Ever wondered what the Earplug Adventures would look like minus the photos? Might their absence highlight the shortcomings of the writing? Well let’s find out, shall we? Here’s a couple of brief extracts. In this case from this fantastic tale…

Click the cover image for the FREE complete e-book in PDF form

Meanwhile, in another part of the museum that was yet to be consumed by the terrible Zinc Machine, the four former monks of the Order of the Holey Vest from Lemon Stone, Pedro Agonista, Flaccidus Aroma, Augustus Belch, and Rodney Bunting, had rented a workshop. Now they set to work inside it. For hour upon hour they toiled – fabricating, checking stolen blueprints, hammering, welding, occasionally going to the toilet. That sort of thing. But when they reached the end of their labours, the four exhausted former monks wheeled out a ‘pirate copy’ of a genuine Punting-Modesty Sputum GT250A-Attack Cycle.

“This’ll knock ’em dead down at the cavalry stockade.” Pedro said confidently.

But he wasn’t entirely correct.

“It’s a bit big and heavy.” One of the troopers dared utter.

“Yeah, and it can’t carry passengers.” Another observed.

“Just give it a try.” Rodney pleaded. “You never know – you might find it most satisfactory. And the saddle is really easy on your bum – especially if you suffer from piles – a particular problem with cavalryplugs, or so I’ve been told. “

Joe Frayzer, who didn’t like to confess to having problems with his butt, replied gruffly: “Yeah, alright; we’ll give it a run ’round the block. It couldn’t hurt none.”

So he leapt aboard; made himself comfortable; and twisted the throttle as far back as the cable would allow. Initially the Staff Sergeant was highly impressed with the GT250A. “Cor,” he yelled above the whine of the lifting motor and the roar of the propulsion engine, “it goes like stink!”

But when he rode it over uneven ground his smile quickly transformed into a grimace.

“Sorry,” he said upon his return to the stockade, “but the machine gave my false teeth a really hard time. They were shaken so thoroughly that they’ve swapped sides inside my gob. And contrary to your verbal sales brochure, the seat gave my arse the worst pummelling since my troop was chased down the side of rocky gorge on Worstworld by a whirlwind that had sucked up a whole bunch of scorpions and tarantulas, and thrown them at us. You’ll have to build something that’s much more comfortable with better protection against wind, rain, ice storms, and high-velocity rifle bullets.”

An hour later the four former monks returned with a replica Punting-Modesty RD400F Command Buggy.

“Hmmm,” Joe hummed after giving the machine a thorough examination, “but it isn’t very offensive is it? And it comes up short on good looks, speed, and endurance. Close, but no banana.”

So ten minutes later…

“The XS360 has a ram-scoop engine.” Pedro explained. “It collects dust from the air, and burns it for fuel. Primarily it’s a long-range patrol vehicle.”

“Great,” Joe replied, “but the driver is a sitting duck in a roll-over situation.”

So a half-hour later…

“Fabulous – a TX500.” Joe said, after casting an engineer’s eye over the latest version of the war buggy. You’ve chucked out that poxy, gutless eco engine. That’s good: I always vote for a balanced combination of BHP and torque. But, ah, where’s the offensive capability?”

“Holy heck.” Augustus exploded in response. “All you had before were a few flea-ridden plugmutts and some dried-out saddles that were years old and as hard as rock. You should be grateful for anything!”

Despite this atypical outburst, the hermaphrodite chums went away again – to return a short while later with…

“There you go, you pedantic arse hole.” Flaccidus growled. “The cannon’s off the Nosepuncher XL5 by the way.”

This time the Staff Sergeant was more impressed. Turning to a surprised Fanny Skidmarx. He said, “Right, Private; you may have the honour of flight-testing the machine I hereby designate P1-5S Assault Buggy. Carry on.”

AND

Meanwhile, far away upon the dusty plain that stood at the foot of the mountain range upon which Lemon Stone stood proudly, hard-working pea farmer, Bucksome Whelk, was greeting the new day even before the sun had risen. He was a hyperactive workaholic, and there was nothing he enjoyed more than getting out of bed really early to do a long day’s hard labour in the pea fields. He kept a sign in his bedroom to remind him that he should never grow lax and become like his idle idols, Las Chicas De La Playas, a picture of whom he had pinned to his wall as a constant reminder. So no one else was around to see his porch light illuminate…

(A picture of a mud building appears here)

Neither was there anyone present to see him step out into the pre-dawn – in the full expectation of finding his beautiful crop of young pea plants. But what Bucksome Whelk actually saw, in that dim light, made him stare disbelievingly like a startled gazelle caught in the headlight of an approaching trans-continental locomotive; because, laid out in front of him like some terrible manifestation of a tortured mind, sat the largest, most humongous, pile of steaming manure that he had ever seen – or ever wanted to see. But if this wasn’t enough for the simple-minded pea farmer, the situation grew rapidly worse. As he finally circumnavigated the immense turd, Bucksome discovered that his pea seedlings had been swept away by some unimaginable force.

His work gang rushed from their quarters when they heard his scream of horror.They watched in disbelief as their employer stood so still among the ruination that he appeared to have been petrified. For Bucksome it became horror heaped upon horror as the lightening sky revealed that the entire crop had simply ceased to exist. Or, to be more precise, it had been transformed into excrement and deposited on the lawn of his farm-house.

“Right, that’s it.” He said as a grim determination swelled within his chest,”I’m gonna talk to the guys about this.”

So, after Bucksome had returned to the farm buildings his staff were expecting to hear that their services were no longer required, and that they could return to the bosom of their families in the former communist states from whence they had come to the dusty plain. They even conjectured upon the size of the severance cheque. But they were to be disappointed.

“Right then.” Bucksome said. “I want you to re-plant with seeds from the store. I intend to learn the identity of the miscreant who had attempted to destroy my life’s work. I’ll be back when I’m back. Now get to work.”

With that he strode off across the newly barren landscape.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2016

Of course it’s much better with the pictures: after all you can see what’s going on! To read or download the book in its entirety – pictures and all – click on the Unity vol 1 cover image (above) to bring up the full PDF file.

Tooty the Chef in ‘Albondegas:The Rush Job’

Tooty the Chef had no idea that the hours of the days had slipped away unnoticed. One moment he was enjoying Moto GP Free Practice on TV: the next he was leaping to his feet, exclaiming: “Is that clock correct? Shit!” Naturally any idea of his planned meal was cast aside: speed was now the sole requisite. So, being an adapable kind of chef, Tooty grabbed the first item he could find in the cupboard…

This quite amused him because it was tomato and basil sauce – the very item with which he feared he would scald his winkle the previous day. Was he tempting fate? Was it about to step in? Was this a case of determinism versus free will? He hoped not – as he delved into the fridge…

Other than a couple of ageing eggs and an onion, he came up pretty empty. So it was into the freezer for inspiration…

This eventually provided a pack of minced pork. And after a quick thaw in the microwave, our favourite chef knew exactly what he was going to produce. Unfortunately it required that he grate the onion…

But, being the heroic type that he is, Tooty the Chef did just that – despite subsequent agonies in the ocular department. Then, after adding a bunch of spices, grated onion, and the eggs, then squishing them all together with his bare hands, he rolled out these albondegas de cerdo…

Note the Waitrose fetuccine. I mean, what else would you have to compliment pork meatballs? Note to Waitrose: look, more free advertising: when are you guys gonna offer some sponsorship here? Tooty’s not getting any younger you know! Anyway, he slipped the meatballs gently into some hot olive oil (which he might have bought from Sainsbury’s – you never know, it is possible – Waitrose, are you listening?) and began the cooking process…

…whilst simultaneously boiling the pasta. Gosh – what a multi-tasker he is…

This wasn’t as easy as it might have appeared…

…because although he had poured some olive oil into the boiling water, prior to dropping the dry fetuccine in it, he was still concerned that it might burn and stick to the bottom of the pot – which would be unforgivable for a chef of Tooty’s class and distinction. And, for obvious reasons, he didn’t want to tear the albondegas apart with his wooden spoon either. So a lot of slipping and shaking had to occur…

This effort was well worth the…ah…effort, because soon he was able to add the tomato and basil sauce – albeit nervously…

But then he realised that his apron was the right-way-round, so there was no danger to the dangly bits. And soon it looked exactly like this…

Not by coincidence the fetuccine chose that moment to appear properly cooked: that is soft, but not gooey. So, he concluded, it must be time to select the accompanying bebidas…

Disaronno and Waitrose sugar-free ginger beer seemed the obvious choice. Then it was just a matter of draining the pasta; slapping it onto the plates; piling on the albondegas; and presenting it to camera…

Some coleslaw on the side – to (at least) pretend that there is a healthy aspect to this meal – and (once again) victory!

Did anyone say the word ‘yum’?

Punishment for Age Diminished Tooty the Chef!

Look at poor old Tooty the Chef…

Look how sad he is. So sad, in fact that he has even replaced his chef’s hat with a novelty Mexican sombrero, intended for a small dog. So miserable and dispondent is he, that he has taken to wandering around his pleasant (Spanish-inspired) yellow kitchen with the aforementioned novelty sombrero balanced precariously upon his dainty bonce…

“Shit,” I hear you wail, “what awful circumstance has befallen our favourite on-line chef?” Or words to that effect.

Well, I’ll tell you: it’s his stupid memory. No matter what, he can’t remember to fire up his digital camera until he is at least a quarter-way through creating yet another fabulous culinery masterpiece. As a result of his woefulness (is that a real word?) he has failed (time and again) to bring you entertaining tales of how he managed to throw together meals such as these…

But it was only when he sat down to this concoction of wonderfulness and fantabulicity…

…and his Son had returned with his empty plate, saying: “That was the best yet: I hope you took some Le Chef Tuti photographs.” that he cried enough. Clearly some form of punishment for his recalcitrance was required. He considered punching himself in the face, or accidentally throwing himself down the stairs. But, after some contemplation, he decided to wear his apron back-to-front – rather like a superhero’s cape…

And if some scalding tomato and basil sauce should spit from the frying pan and land upon the end of his shrivelled winkle – then so be it: He’ll remember the camera then – on the way to Accident & Emergency!

The Garden Welcomes the Family

I don’t use it often, but I have one of those trail / hunter cameras that take pictures all by themselves. The other day I placed some bird food in a hanging basket thing and set the camera up upon my even-less-often-used tripod; then awaited developments. I wasn’t surprised when the first ‘guest’ was a resident Robin…

It took him/her about a half-second to make the decision to enter the store…

The camera took rather longer to react – which (for once) was a good thing…

…otherwise all we would have to view is the Robin’s arse hole. He/she was so impressed with the fare that he/she came back later to feast with his/her wife/husband and three kids. Here’s one of them…

All three have grown very tame, and I think it’s a shame that before long they will be driven off to find territories of their own by their parents. Guess I’ll have to content myself with Mr and Mrs Mouse who live in the shed…

…which my pet chug (chihuahua/pug cross) loves to chase all around the shrubbery – along with the lonesome vole…

And, of course, terrorise visiting squirells…

For a tiny postage stamp garden, it certainly is wildlife-friendly. Or at least it would be, if it wasn’t for this monster…

Tooty’s Fashion For Fogeys 2

In my first Fashion for Fogeys I displayed an uncanny ability to wear beige stylishly. On this occasion I take it a step further by dispensing with beige all together. What I must stress here is that it isn’t neccessary for old fogey’s to wear dull colours at all. This is never truer than when the sun is shining. Bright colours are not only for winter, young people or laplanders: anyone can wear them at any time of year in whatever weather. Take me for example: I like Spain. I like the Spanish flag too. Both are bright and cheerful. I cheer for their national football team and their riders in Moto GP and international motocross because they make me happy. Bright colours are happy colours. So I am not ashamed, in any way, to appear in public places dressed like this…

So I do. And you can do the same. It just doesn’t have to be red and yellow. Wear whatever colours you bloody like: South Africa’s are rather strident. Just make it bright and cheerful. And what’s more – as a bonus – you’re less likely to get knocked down by a bus too!

If Patience is a Virtue…

….then I must be some kind of bloody saint. It has taken me (what feels like) forever to strip out sufficient megabytes from this blog – to make room for that mass of book covers (and their contents) on the sidebar, to your left. But the task is done. From this moment forward any Earplugger can access and download all forty volumes of the Earplug Adventures. In fact some already have! These…

…wondrous works of literary brilliance, boundary-pushing photographic techniques, inspired model-making, and vast artistic merit are available ABSOLUTELY FREE AND GRATIS! The early volumes are a bit, you know, ho-hum – I was, after all, finding my feet, so-to-speak – not really knowing what I was doing, so’s best avoid them, at least initially: you can always go back to them later and giggle at my inepitude. But, whatever you choose, enjoy this load of ridiculousness. I had fun creating them: you enjoy reading them.

Tooty.

Tooty The Chef in ‘cauliflower cheese cottage pie anyone?’

Tooty the Chef would have liked nothing more than to have replicated the original Cauliflower Cheese Cottage Pie he alluded to recently, but unfortunately there was a problem. Two problems actually. One: he couldn’t remember what he did last time. Two: there was a distinct lack of ingredients in the fridge. So, with this Mark Two version, he laid his mits upon this stuff…

Left to right: minced pork (couldn’t find any beef), packet cheese sauce and some Delmio pasta bake sauce (Chef forgot to buy any ready-made cheese sauce in a jar), packet cottage pie mix (why piss about making sauces when you can get it like this?), cauliflower (of course), an expensive pointy pepper (Waitrose had sold out of the usual kind), a courgette, and an onion. He later delved into the fridge again for some grated cheddar and mozarella cheese.

So then it was straight into prioritising mode. Time was tight: barely a moment to lose. Clearly he would require the Roasting Thing: but what else? Ah-ha – a big frying pan and the Microwaving Thing…

Decisions made, it was time to chop up the cauliflower, which was so huge that his microwaving thing was only half big enough…

So he had to cook the cauliflower twice. Here’s the first load going into the microwave for seven minutes…

With the first load heating up nicely, it was time for Tooty the Chef to start dicing. Within seconds this had happened…

When I say ‘seconds’, actually, by the time that he’d tossed it all into some hot olive oil in the frying pan, the microwave had gone ‘ding’, and Tooty was fighting with some super-heated cauliflower…

But no sooner had the second load of cauliflower begun its journey into culinery hell, when the meat-veggie amalgam demanded Tooty’s attention…

Now it was at this point that our wonder chef displayed his multi-tasking skills. The ones that have him swearing like a trooper. Yes, he had to mix up the cottage pie mix whilst boiling and stirring the cheese sauce mix (which drives him insane) and keeping the meat-veggie amalgam on the move so that it cooked evenly and didn’t create any nasty burnt bits…

As is normal, the cheese sauce took an eternity to cook. When he was half-satisfied he added the pasta bake sauce with a generous helping of grated cheese…

…which gave Tooty the opportunity to display his remarkable talent for thespianism that has had thoroughly employable actors crying into their beer – and shows just how much he enjoys using Waitrose products. Waitrose, please note this free advertising: perhaps you would like to get in contact? Whilst that mess bubbled nicely for a few seconds, Tooty upended the frying pan into the Roasting Thing and poured in the cottage pie mix…

Of course the second load of cauliflower had long-since cooked, so it, and the first load, were gently laid upon the first layer of the cauliflower cheese cottage pie…

Then it was simple matter of using a spatula to spread the cheese sauce all over it in a most generous manner, and stuff it into the very hot oven for fifteen minutes…

Now you might have noticed at this juncture that Tooty the Chef has revealed a slender buttock: should Waitrose be wise enough to sponsor HamsterBritain.com, he may have to cook with his underpants on. It’s sad, I know: but Waitrose and buttocks are probably mutually exclusive. Of course, should the John Lewis Partnership elect to go it alone into an uncertain future, Tooty can continue to show his arse willy-nilly. But that’s by-the-by. With fifteen minutes to spare, it was off to the toilet (of course) and a quick watch of the local news on TV…

So, shortly, it was check-the-dinner time…

It was bubbling insanely, and was clearly cooked; but it just didn’t look properly cooked. Our favourite chef decided that it needed a few minutes under the grill. So, whilst Tooty selected some sugar-free Sprite and Mulled Wine…

… and warmed up the plates in the microwave, the cauliflower cheese was getting somewhat blasted by the grill, which left it looking slightly worse for wear…

But, being a seasoned kitchen campaigner, he quickly stirred the nasty burnt bits into the meal. And when he slopped it onto the waiting plates…

…it was, of course, glorious. It tasted quite nice too – with a good texture. And only one person noticed the burnt bits. All-in-all a vast success. You should try it.

Tooty the Chef: Has He Lost The Magic Touch?

All across the globe Tooty the Chef fans are asking each other (on-line of course) the same question; “Where the flipping heck has he disappeared to? ” Or: “Where’s that buttock-baring bastard got to?” Well, as I’m sure you can imagine, a few months have passed since he lost the most important person in the world to him; so he’s not an overly jolly chappie at present. But he hasn’t slipped into a  stagnant bog of dispondency: no, he’s been trying to live a little (in these Covid 19 lock-down days). So, in addition to his picture-snapping and story-telling, he’s also found time to utilize his playthings…

But the family must be fed, so Tooty the Chef must still wield the ladle with gusto…

…so that he might produce goodies such as the following…

And he still conjures up sufficient enthusiasm to use his roasting thing too…

…in which stuff such as these example meals are created to stratospheric levels of fabulousness…

But, despite the sense of satisfaction that he gleans from all this culinery artistry…

…what he really likes best is this…

Yes, dressing up in tight leather. No-no-no – I mean riding his motorcycle. But fear not – that hat and apron are never far away.

P.S that hula-hoop in the garage shot is not his. He doesn’t do the hula: he has a dodgy back.

Spoiled Illusions 7: The Factory Toilet!

Are you one of those who, upon watching a DVD check out the extras, which often include a Making Of clip. I used to; but I don’t anymore: I don’t like to see the illusion spoiled. But just in case you are, here’s a little Earplug Adventures illusion spoiler.

Sometimes, during my working day – when things had gone a little quiet – I would steal away to shoot Earplug Adventure scenes. One of my preferred places was the ever-reliable lavatory – a place that quaranteed anonimity and freedom from intrusion – though, it must be said, lacking in many artistic opportunities. In my latter working days, this particular loo proved a boon to my story-telling…

Positioned at the end of a row of cubicles, it was very cramped, and drafty (in winter), with a tendency to block easily. It was unpopular – so it became my go-to-loo for shooting earplugs. Here it is in all its interior glory…

I imagine you’re thinking, “Not a lot of creative potential there.” But you may not have factored in the genius of the Earplug Adventures creator. Look at that narrow shelf and structural support tubes…

Why, the potential is almost unlimited. Check this out: the very first shot taken (17/08/2017) in the ‘new’ factory bog…

With a little plastic widget for a ‘prop’ doorway, it’s two of the dancing girls from ‘The Missing‘.

In contrast, here’s the last picture taken there, in early 2020…

It utilizes the diagonal support tubes as they intersect the shelf. I didn’t know that it was the last shot at the time, of course. I also didn’t know that this character would appear in ‘Haunted Mars’ and be named Mulleon Cleets.  And I certainly never imagined that it would become an exit from a cave.

After moving to the ‘new’ factory in 2017, most of my shooting took place at home. But there were times – when a new idea arrived – that I’d need to shoot then and there, before the thought escaped. Here’s a shot from ‘Mutant Island’ that used the top of the cistern for the first time…

It would be used again, fear not, as proven by this scene from ‘The Grand Tour‘…

…in which a desperate photographer needed an access tunnel for his characters to emerge from, but could only find the toilet roll. Desperate times: desperate measures. But I’m sure it was entirely convincing  within the story itself. And it was only half a toilet roll after all. And I did squash it slightly.

Speaking of toilet rolls – look how handy their  dispensers can become…

Yes, it’s the scene from ‘Distant Land‘ in which the reader is introduced to Placebo Bison. I didn’t figure he’d get a sequel at the time. But then why should I: I never plan anything.

So, finally, we come to the…ah…final example of lavatorial inspiration. It’s the opposite end of the shelf, where the bitter Winter wind blows into the bog in an uninterrupted manner. Prior to plugging it with a length of polystyrene, I snapped this shot for ‘The Time Tamperer…

Hopefully it conveys the idea of distance beyond the well-lit area. I’m sure it does.

In the next episode we’ll be looking at other locations around my former workplace – many of which were opportunistic. By that I mean I shot some piccies with no plan whatsoever – before the location changed beyond recognition, or disappeared somewhere on the back of a lorry. It was a working factory after all!

No Time To Lose

Today Tooty the Chef turned one of his multifarious talents to the problem of a garden that had been left to its own devices over winter. It would have been a ten-minute tidy up, but (as usual) he got carried away, and, several hours later he realised that he should have been preparing a fabulous cauliflower cheese cottage pie for the main meal of the day. Yes, you read that right: Cauliflower Cheese Cottage Pie. It was an idea he had in the middle of the night. Paul McCartney dreams songs: Tooty the Chef has culinery nightmares. So, with no time to lose, he washed his delicate artist’s hands, and got stuck in. Speed was of the essence, so, of course, any thoughts of photographing the event were dismissed. In any case, there was the likelihood of abject failure, and none of us like to see a grown man cry into his ladle, do we? So he contented himself with a solitary shot of the finished product…

…which was splendid in every way. And because it was splendid – and not average-to-vile – he will produce the meal again, and give you all the gen in a full Tooty the Chef cookery lesson. Look forward to it!

And, yes, if you look  very closely indeed, it can be seen on his meal planner.

 

Spoiled Illusions 5: Every Day I Use Everyday Items

Are you one of those who, upon watching a DVD check out the extras, which often include a Making Of clip. I used to; but I don’t anymore: I don’t like to see the illusion spoiled. But just in case you are, here’s a little Earplug Adventures illusion spoiler.

What I particularly enjoy about shooting the Earplug Adventure photos is the using of everyday items to create the illusion of the earplug universe. When (in Haunted Mars) Folie visited  Deck One of the Gravity Whelk…

…he was quite impressed by it’s soft pastel colours and sensuous curves. He was less enamoured with the soft-top roof…

Well the story never called for that scene. It took it nowhere. But it was a quite amusing cameo for this everyday item…

Yup, a regular fabric conditioner bottle. Can’t remember which brand. But it doesn’t matter: they’re all excellent. Here’s an example of another one…

It’s the engine core of a Scroton Five from A Tale of Three Museums. It just needed some strange lighting to make it convincingly NOT a Comfort bottle – and some software jiggery-pokery to create the God of Stalled Motors. Same goes for bleach bottles too…

And the great thing about bleach bottles is – they come in so many different colours…

No doubt this rather exotic turquoise version will find itself included in a future adventure: I’ve got two of them in the shed. And a yellow one under the sink!

P.S I’ve already told the tale of how I use Lavatory Santisers and Canderel and Hermesetas coffee sweeteners to create convincing scenes for the earplugs to gallavant through. Check them out if you haven’t read them already. You might be amazed!

Tooty’s Fashion For Fogeys

It’s a well-known fact that not all old fogeys are as fashion-conscious as Tooty. They will happily go out in public in beige and grey. It’s almost as if it’s an age-dependent uniform. “I’m old,” they must think, “colour is an anathema so someone with so many years under his belt: I’m going out in public: where are my beige trousers and my light-weight grey jacket with matching flat cap?”  They will then step into their silver-grey Honda Civic and proceed to Waitrose at a snail’s pace.

Well, if you’re a regular here, you’ll know that Tooty the Chef will always dress inappropriately for both his age and the occasion. Check out his last display…

Yes, a red Waitrose Christmas apron with a Homer Simpson pajama top. Nothing wrong with that. But Tooty the Non-Chef also thinks about what will appear best suited to making him look…ah…non-linear in a chronological sense. By chance he does possess a single pair of beige trousers. He’s not proud of the fact; but at least there is no grey light-weight jacket or flat cap in his warddrobe with them. And, oh dear, he does drive a silver-grey car to Waitrose too. But it isn’t a Honda: and it’s due to be replaced with a snazzy bright blue car. So, today, as he prepared to go shopping, he pulled on his beige trousers and looked at himself in the mirror. “How very tedious,” he said eloquently, “you look like an old fart. Best do something about it.” So he went straight to his shirt warddrobe and fetched out a ghastly nylon shirt that he bought (in a moment of madness) in a Benidorm street market. But even that wasn’t sufficient to totally eradicate the fogey-ness of the trousers. So to the sock drawer he marched – delving deeply into its caverous embrace and having a good old rummage. This is what he found there…

Matching socks – and a red belt too. Almost perfect. See, he may be getting on a bit; but he refuses to be a boring old fart! 

P.S It’s a shame he made such a balls-up of the ironing: those creases don’t look at all groovy. Or maybe its just the bad light.

Tooty the Chef in ‘Root Canal: Toots Banal’

After several days of the abject misery that comes with having unrelenting toothache, Tooty the Chef went for a quick bit of root canal work. Finally, after so many missed lunches and dinners, he could let his culinary imagination loose. Only, when the time arrived, he seemed strangely lacking in that department. Late week meals are usually a special time when he uses up the remnants in the fridge, and his imagination is allowed to soar into the gastronomic stratosphere: but this time around the fridge was replete with perfectly usuable stuff that wasn’t out of date. So, rather reluctantly, he chose these very sensible items…

So what do we have? L to R = sliced pork, courgettes, breadcrumbs, eggs, ras el hanout, dessicated cheese sauce, cheddar cheese, olive oil, and cauliflower.

Naturally time was of the essence, so it was out with the microwave cooking thing…

…into which he placed the chopped-up cauliflower, and placed into the microwave oven for nine minutes…

Then Tooty the Chef laid into the courgettes, slicing them into thick slices with gay abandon…

Quickly followed by the breaking of eggs into a bowl and the addition of a generous sprinkling of ras el hanout, followed by a quick whisk of the ghastly mess that ensued…

But, of course, he didn’t choose sufficient eggs. He never does. Fortunately he had another in the fridge…

Then it was dip-the-courgettes-in-the-eggs time…

And again with the slices of pork…

At this point the microwave went ‘beep’, so the good chef tipped the super-heated cauliflower into a roasting thing…

Tooty absolutely hates making sauces from packets; but being a really good egg who always does the right thing, he went straight ahead without complaint…

By the way, here’s a simple cookery tip to save time and retain your sanity. When you’ve poured the sauce over whatever it is you pour sauce over, don’t use a spoon to retrieve the dregs: use a spatula. Cuts down on time and energy and waste…

Of course, as you’ve probably discovered yourself, cheese sauce by itself is utter shit: you must add grated cheese to it. Now normally Tooty would have gone straight to the nearest packet of pre-grated cheddar from either Sainsburys or Waitrose: but he only had a bag of Cheddar and Mozzarella, which, as you also have probably discovered, is like super-powerful spiders web when cooked. So there was no other course of action open to him: he had to open the fridge, select a lump of cheddar…

…and GRATE IT HIMSELF! Aargh! Then he sprinkled it on the steaming cauliflower….

So, having prepared one element of his wondrous meal for the oven, he returned to the pork/egg amalgam, which he coated with the breadcrumbs…

Likewise the courgettes, which he placed into an olive oil lined roasting thing…

Of course, assuming that pork and courgettes cooked at the same rate – but having no evidence to support this belief – he placed the pork into the roasting thing beside the courgettes…

And being a waste-not-want-not kind’a guy, he poured on the egg dregs…

The oven, which had been maxxed-out for a good fifteen minutes, then welcomed into its bosom the two roasting things…

This gave Tooty the Chef time to sit down for a while – forty minutes actually – to jeer whatever annoyed him on TV, which is most things…

After that it was a  simple matter of retrieving the perfectly roasted cauliflower…

…selecting some Pimms Number One to accompany his regulation sugar-free Sprite…

…grabbing the pork/courgette mix and slapping it on to the pre-heated plates…

…then adding some coleslaw…

…before sitting down to discover that he is the jammiest chef in Britain. Somehow it worked out  fab yet again!

 

The Art of Aesthetic Laundry

You may have noticed that I’m prone to banging on about aesthetic parking – for example HERE – and about colour co-ordination in general. Well I think I may have over-stepped the mark. Taken it to excess, even. Check out my Art of Aesthetic Laundry…

Well if you have to hang your hanky and socks out to dry, you might as well try to make them look nice – don’t you think?

 

Spoiled Illusions: 2 Tooty the Shootist

Are you one of those who, upon watching a DVD check out the extras, which often include a Making Of clip. I used to; but I don’t anymore: I don’t like to see the illusion spoiled. But just in case you are, here’s a little Earplug Adventures illusion spoiler.

Here’s a shot of Tooty the Shootist in the early days of the Earplug Adventures…

I bet Kodak never figured on their basic little Easyshare M550 ever producing pictures  that would be forever immortilized, in pixel-form, in e-books such as Evil Empire. Here’s the shot from the same location, but using different characters…

I can’t remember if this is the ‘nice’ Charles and Wolfgang checking out the Nul-Space generator’s heat exchanger, or their evil twins: but, because I’ve been living in their silicon world for so many years and adventures, for me it’s strange to see the image of me creating the characters, who seem almost real now.

Here I am again, pointing out the discarded office sound attenuators…

…that became The Woven Expanse and The Wide Blue Yonder…

Here former zombies Vic and Bob, and female weight-lifters Mandy and Candy cross the Woven Expanse in the very early tale, Museum of Terror. And the Wide Blue Yonder immediately afterwards, where they find a door into the Arboretum…

This is my fridge at work. I had a lot of home comforts at my place of work…

At my most self-indulgent I had a coffee machine (which appeared in a  few shots, a record player (ditto), tape deck (ditto), radio (errr ditto), a TV, a DVD player, and a kettle. But the item that appeared more than the rest combined was the fridge. Here’s a couple of shots…

In this shot from Earplug Aftermath, two silver androids visit the lavatory (of course). And in the following shot from Haunted Mars we see it used for the very last time…

It’s odd, looking back on this shot, which I probably took in late 2019 or early 2020, none of these ‘actors’ had names or personalities then. Now I see them differently. I like the look of acceptance on the face of rocket scientist, Treacle Fagging – second from left. Sadly, when I quit my job, I left my fridge behind for the guy who would take over from me. And a lot of other props too. I wonder what he made from them. Nothing probably.

And finally, moving from shootist to shootee…

Wonderful acting, I think you’ll agree. This is how I appeared as the Museum fo Future Technology’s A.I (in Winning Numbers) making an important announcement – probably of doom. I was very good at that…

 

 

 

Spoiled Illusions:1 Mars

Are you one of those who, upon watching a DVD check out the extras, which often include a Making Of clip. I used to; but I don’t anymore: I don’t like to see the illusion spoiled. But just in case you are, here’s a little Earplug Adventures illusion spoiler.

Recognise this?

Yup, it’s the interior of a street light. Several years ago a street light rusted through and fell down at my place of work; so, as a precaution, a small number of them were replaced. Naturally I grabbed a couple. And what a treasure trove they were. The outsides became obsolete space tugs – seen here in Return of the Prodigal Earplug – or other hulks in another story, the title of which eludes me right now, but it featured the creation of the starship Chi-Z-Sox *

And the inner parts became the exterior of The Future Museum of Mars in Martian Interlude and several others…

…AND the interior of the same edifice in several more, including Haunted Mars...

Unfortunately I was forced to leave my larger sets behind at the old building when the company moved to new premises. But I was smart enough to shoot a whole library of pictures before we departed to pastures new. The main Future Museum of Mars prop amongst them.

*I’ve written so many stories they begin to blur. Is there an earplug fan out there who can tell me which story it was?

Lest You Think The Earplug Adventures Are A Doddle To Create…

…it is five minutes to midnight,  and I have just completed the processing of the seven hundred and sixty-first photograph that I have chosen to be included in Haunted Mars. I didn’t take 761 photos for this story, of course: I can’t imagine how many there must have been before I began hitting the delete button: but it was a heck of a lot more than 761!  Many pictures have pictures within them – like this one…

…which has  wall art and a window added. So there’s three in one shot. Of course I had to create the scene visible through the window – being a star and outer space. And the wall art? Well I only use originals – mine.

What about this one…

…which is a composite of a garden solar light, shot through a pane of glass, with a real cloudy sky behind it; which was added to a shot of a sheet of burnt industrial accoustic insulation – before being stripped of its colour and made to appear like a rocket traversing a glacier Pretty good, eh? I’m rather pleased with this one.

I tell you, if I’d paid as much care and attention to work as I do to these bloody earplug stories, I’d have made it to Managing Director. 

But don’t let me make you think it isn’t fun: it is. Who couldn’t have fun cutting holes in milk bottle tops and turning them into sombreros for a mariachi band?

And converting the interior of a street light into a domed museum on Mars?

Or even contructing sets out of absolutely anything I can lay my hands on…

And just coming up with the beauty shots…

But the best fun comes when I draw them all togther and discover the story they tell me – before I write it for you.

Tooty.

Old, stupid, but still creative.

Tooty The Chef Gets Photo-Bombed By Tootette.

Tooty the Chef has been quiet of late, due to this and that, but he couldn’t allow his culinery fandom fear the worst; so it’s back to the kitchen counter for our resident gastronomic genius. Before he’d even really thought about the subject of din-dins, the minced pork that had been sitting at the back of the fridge for days volunteered itself. But what to do with it?

Well what Tooty should have done was dig the multi-chef (or whatever they’re called) out of the cupboard: but he couldn’t be arsed. So he chopped an onion instead of obliterating it – which, as you’ve probably guessed, was an error…

Right then, that’s meatballs off the menu: have to think of something else to do with minced pork and chopped onion. Well there’s chilli flakes: that’s always a good standby…

Add a good old sprinkling of black pepper…

…and start stirring. Oh, but Tooty the Chef had miscalculated the viscosity of the mix: it was too stiff for his weedy arms. But ever one to re-adjust to changing circumstances, he took to treating the mix as though it was dough, and before you could say…ah…a really long word, he’d kneeded it into this ball of goo…

It was at this stage that Tootette reminded Tooty that he’d intended to use eggs. Cue eggs…

…to which he ingeniously added a slice of white bread – in pieces obviously – to help bind it all together…

He was then cheered in his efforts to stir the even more gooey mass into a sort of meatloaf thing…

Then it was a matter of what to cook beside the meatloaf thing. Well obviously some duck fat-coated frozen potatoes and parsnips were the only logical choice…

So they were nicely coaxed into the tray beside the gooey mass…

…and shoved into the oven (as usual set to max power) and left for fifty minutes…

In between times Tooty the Chef selected some sliced green beans to boil as a side dish to the roasted stuff…

The finished result was too good to photograph. Instead Tooty served it up instantaneously and got stuck into his own plate…

And all done without botty-baring once!

Hah – you didn’t think he’d cook a meal without showing his bum at least once, did you? No way!

 

Aesthetics: The Art of Considerate Parking 4

I’d just dropped into the driver’s seat of my car, and was about to press the Start button, when my eyes alighted upon a trio of cars parked in the next aisle of the underground carpark. “What’s this,” I cried, “have people taken on board my pleas for aesthetic parking?” It certainly looked that way. In an ocean of dull grey, silver, black, white, and turgid cars (mine included – you can just see my car’s paintwork through the windscreen), these three shone like a beacon of colour, elan, and parking verve. Aesthetic Parking X 3…

Tooty the Chef: Where’s He At?

You may have noticed a dearth of Tooty the Chef posts in recent times. Millions have. Well there is an explanation. Of course the good cook would have liked nothing more than to blame the month of January and its scrotum-puckering chill that rises through the concrete floor of his kitchen and freezes his ass off. But, annoyingly he can’t. Not because it isn’t cold: it is. In fact he has been hard at work. Regard the following four pictures…

Nice, eh? Unfortunately poor old Tooty’s head isn’t in a good place right now. At the time of this report, it has been four months since he lost his wife to cancer, and, quite frankly, he’s having a hard time being funny. To use a colloquial term: he just can’t be arsed – which is quite ironic really, because  it’s his arse that he usually reveals at some point during the cooking of his meals. What little mirth he possesses is kept in reserve for the Earplug Adventure story. But he will be back: I’m sure of it. You can’t keep a good chef down – unlike his pants. And just as a reminder of  how brilliant he can be: here’s a picture of his trim buttocks as he selects a bottle of wine to mix with his sugar-free Sprite…

 

Now The Real Work Begins

The opening episode of Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars used re-worked stock-shots. Today I began shooting originals and generic stock-shots with serious intent. It’s slow and sometimes frustrating. And, as you can see, a little cramped too…

It has been four months since my wife, Linzi died, and (as you can probably imagine) I haven’t really been in the mood (Tooty the Chef aside); but the bug is finally biting again. And, for the first time in my life, I don’t have to create the time to do it. If I feel like it, I just clamber up into that attic and get going. Here’s a shot from today’s work – as seen in the making-of shot (above). It features an (as yet un-named) engineering robot that has  been discovered by Folie just staring out at space from a view port set into the side of the Gravity Whelk…

As regards the Gravity Whelk: I can’t wait to start telling tales featuring that old tub again…

So hopefully you won’t need to wait too long for Episode Two!

After the Debacle

Following the gastronomic catastrophe of his Omeletty Thing, Tooty the Chef took a day off cooking to lick his wounds. When he did dare re-enter the kitchen he chose to step upon safer culinery ground. A Dolphin Nose with Pork. You know how he did it; so here’s the result…

Yep, he’s back on all three cylinders, and with the turbo kicking in too.

P.S as a footnote, the omeletty thing didn’t taste half as bad as it looked. In fact, he was assured, it tasted rather nice – just as long as you kept your eyes shut. One hat eaten in vain.