Aesthetics: The Art of Considerate Parking

When I lived in Spain, I drove a metallic purple Renault Twingo. It was a terrific car, which I enjoyed driving more than any car before or since. One factor of the day-to-day pleasure came in the form of selective parking. That is – deciding which car (in a car park or at the side of the road) to park my car beside. “Ugh?” I hear those readers less concerned with aesthetics (and more into practicality) say in consternation. “Surely it’s best to park closest to where I want to go.” Not so, say I. You should always consider how your car would look beside another. I mean, you wouldn’t want to park a green car beside a red one, would you? Gosh – wouldn’t that clash horribly! Or a black one beside a silver one. Of course you wouldn’t: at least not unless you were an Oakland Raiders fan. Take a look at this picture that I snapped recently in a supermarket car park…

Now that is considerate parking. Either the driver of the yellow car spotted the complimentary shade of the blue car, and duly pulled in beside it: or it was blind chance. I prefer the former theory. When I owned the aforementioned Twingo, I actively sought out parked yellow cars – just so that I could look back and admire the artistic merits of purple and yellow. Fortunately yellow cars are quite popular in Spain. Even more fortunately,  orange cars are not. Imagine that: orange and purple: yuk! Sadly, these days, I drive a dull dark red car, which matches only with white cars – just; and a silver car which matches with nothing at all. When the time comes to replace one of them, I’m going for something more spectacular. A colour scheme that will have aesthetists going out of their way to park their car besides mine!

My Apologies, Earpluggers…

…but recent times have not been kind to your favourite author of silicone-based stories. It has proven difficult, in the extreme, to produce a ‘new’ Earplug Adventure. I have the story sketched out in my mind; but finding the time to shoot sufficient pictures is proving impossible. But I have managed to cobble together a montage of possible inclusions in A Tale of Three Museums, and I’d like to share them with you. Perhaps you’d care to comment on them. That would be nice. Give me a little pep-up and all that…

Not bad – right?

Tooty.

Sources of Everyday Earplug Inspiration 3: Venerable Swiss Sweetener Dispensers

In the original Everyday Earplug Inspiration, I mentioned a popular coffee sweetener dispenser. In this edition, another rears its familar head. It is, probably, the first artificial sweetener available in Europe, and has been in production for eons. It is, of course, this…

Now, if you read the first post, you might be wondering just how I managed to find similar inspiration from this tiddly little transparent box – with no apparent removable parts that could be utilised as Earplug modes of transport. But look closer. Imagine that blue plastic cover torn apart and cast into the nearest litter receptical. What would you be left with? I’ll tell you: it’s this…

I’m talking about the white bit, upon which all those other plastic parts have been glued. In this case Valentine and Rudi are discussing the merits of the Punting-Modesty Facepuncher XL5 Attack Craft. Here it is in action during the Battle of the Museum of Future Technology – in the story….er…actually I can’t remember which book that was. It might have been Liberation. Yes, that would make sense…

With no ancillary parts for a second Punting-Modesty, the next Hermesetas box yeilded a Taxi-sled, which carried a group of T.W.I.T recruits to the museum in The Time Tamperer

And soon the third will appear as a sports version of the sled in A Tale of Three Museums…

And who knows what other uses it might be put to. Can you think of anything? I’m all ears – metaphorically that is. 

Arse-End of the Week Cooking (With Your Chef, Tooty Nolan)

If you’re anything like me, you hate shopping, so you’ll have bought the majority of your commestibles in one go – and hope that it’ll last you the week. As a result you’re probably left with a bunch of aging, disparate food stuffs with which you have no idea how to make a half decent meal  – and consequently end up stuffing it in the freezer, where it’ll sit until such time that either inspiration strikes or you throw it away. Hence the need for a recipe which uses up week-ending food. Step up your favourite Earplug author…

Note rice cooker and glass jar of ancient risotto rice. When I call this Arse-End of the Week Cooking, I’m including a degree of  Arse-End of Last Year Cooking too. You see I like to have the kitchen pulses on show…

Unfortunately, because they are just sitting there, doing nothing 24/7, I tend not to see them any more. So they seldom get used. Well today that situation is about to be rectified. Take a small, fancy coffee cup and fill it with rice. One per person…

And add to the rice cooker…

Cook rice; clean up the starchy crap that the rice cooker blows out of it’s steam vent; recall that it really only works well with long grain or bismati rice; leave to cool…

Whilst the rice gives up it’s heat to the immediate environment, thus increasing global warming to cataclysmic proportions, take a bag of minced pork – and slam it into a frying pan…

Cook it really quickly in it’s own juices. It doesn’t matter how badly it smells…

…or if it looks totally unappetising: it’s for your dog/cat, so isn’t going into the meal. Then, with that safely tucked away in a container, take a few examples of this sort of thing…

…and chop them into little pieces…

Chuck some chopped regular onion into some hot olive oil…

Then, after a minute or two, add in the other veg – in this case carrot, spring onion, and sweet corn…

…with some vegetable stock dissolved in boiling water. Continue to boil until its stupid..

While the veg ruminates upon the terrible injustices perpitrated against it, take the remains of Monday’s pulled ham roast out of the freezer…

…tear off a few chunks and chop ’em into bits. Then grab yourself a wok or deep frying pan…

…and transfer the cooked veg and ham to it…

Fold in the cool rice, heat for a while until it steams pleasantly – if steaming could ever be described as pleasant…

…add some black pepper…

…and YUMMY it’s ready. Remarkably, this time at least, the result doesn’t look like cat sick…

Tooty Nolan: an international author, literary genius, and master chef – all rolled into one. It’s just a shame about the hair!

 

A Tastier Taster and a Promising Promise

Do you remember these guys?

No? They appeared in an Earplug Wallpaper. Hair vs Hat, I think it was called. Well, they weren’t a one-off. They – Flaxwell Maltings and Dr Gideon Snoot – are going to (finally, at last) appear in an Earplug Adventure. And in a very important role too. In fact they are going to tell the tale of A Tale of Three Museums – using a very nice little scout ship that enjoys the moniker of the Scroton Five…

…to search for The Porthole of Everywhere…

…which will display The Museum of Future Technology…

…in two timelines and two distant spacial locations – making three museums in total. Gosh! Imagine! How will I ever manage to keep all of these disparate threads coherent within my aging (and not always rational) brain? With difficulty, that’s how.

Well hopefully I’ve whetted the appetites of any Earpluggers reading this. Also hopefully, I’ll get the time and opportunity to shoot the pictures and write the script required to produce the story. At the time of writing this, the vagaries of life are creating barriers to the completion of my literary and photographic plans: but, fear not, I shall persevere. You will see another Earplug Adventure. I just don’t know when.

Tooty.

   

Writing: Continuity is Everything.

I’ve been watching some 1970’s cop shows of late, in which, I’ve noticed, continuity is often a little wanting. Relationships between characters seem to change from episode to episode – depending, it seems, upon the needs and whims of the scriptwriters. In one episode a Sergeant took an exam and was promoted to Lieutenant and, at the show’s denoument, lamented that from now on he would have to call his (former) superior by his first name. The following show saw him once more cast as the brow-beaten sergeant – without so much as an attempt at explanation. Also the central character’s distinctive two-door coupe appeared as a four headlight model in active scenes, but, oddly, resorted to the earlier two headlight model for library-supplied establishing shots. This, as a viewer, annoys me beyond endurance. I’ve bothered to invest my time and cerebral energy to the show: the least the show’s makers should do is not insult me by assuming I wouldn’t notice the glaring errors. And so it is with the Earplug Adventures. Okay, maybe only three or four people read these tales avidly, and might notice; but I try my best to keep accurate continuity for them, their kin, and future generations, who, one day might discover this silicone world of wonder – despite my inability to remember stories I’ve written, or their character’s names. Take this as a case in point. When I decided to start preparing to shoot some scenes for the next photo-book, I had to read back through The Time Tamperer Vols 1&2 to find out what some of the lesser characters looked like; what their names were; what they did; and what they said. In the majority of cases the latter amounted to a single line or two of dialogue. Here’s a shot that features several of them…

No, not that one. That’s disgusting! I mean this one…

Trapped inside a force field, by the look of it. Or maybe this one…

Because it will be necessary for these characters to appear in A Tale of Three Museums, however briefly, I was required to search through the (literally) hundreds of characters that are stowed away in compartmented plastic display boxes in my attic ‘studio’. A long and exhausting task, I can tell you. Well check out the little golden-eyed guy third from the left. His name, I discovered, is Nobby De Aranquez. Why, I have no idea – but it’s a distinctive enough nomenclature, you’d think I would have remembered it. In The Time Tamperer he did sod-all but wander around in the past with all these other characters. He barely said a word. He was, effectively, little more than an extra. But because I believe in continuity, I couldn’t let it rest when (despite an extensive search that resulted in loud and extensive cursing) I failed to find him. I went back the following evening and left no prop, set, or light unturned in my efforts to return him to the fold. The result was this…

Step up Nobby De Aranquez. He who was lost is found! And this time I’m gonna have him say something significant. Heck, he might even try to chat up Hair-Trigger Provost! 

Let’s Fly to Mars!

Were you to click on this link to my publishers, Lulu.com, you would discover that the delightful touch-up, re-imagining, make-over of this 2016 eBook…

…is complete. Not only have the pictures been invigourated and made utterly splendid in every way; but the script has been improved by approximately one hundred per cent. Actually I couldn’t believe how bloody God-awful the original was. But that doesn’t matter now – coz it’s been re-written and re-published, and everything is wonderful. And, despite my great effort at the key pad, it’s still magnificently cheap to buy. Here’s a montage…

…and, of course, a snippet…

Was it worth the effort? You bet’cha!

Sources of Everyday Earplug Inspiration 2: Lavatory Fresheners

I may have mentioned, once or twice, that my camera and I seem to hang around toilets rather a lot. A strange place to find inspiration, I’m sure  you’ll agree. And you’d be right. But that doesn’t change anything. On this particular occasion I’d like to draw your attention to a little toiletry object that, perhaps, most loo-users might over-look – quite literally, if you stand up to pee. I refer, of course, to this…

You know, the simple device that does this…

They come in or sorts of shapes and…er…well…shapes…

But, boy, are they useful! Look at these natty habitat modules for use in distant places and inclement conditions…

Or maybe military outposts…

Or scientific facilities…

On all sorts of worlds…

And there’s the out-spill too, of course. The sweet-smelling stuff that the dispenser…um…dispenses. The coloured chemicals that adhere to the bowl on the way down to the water. Play with a shot of that for long enough and one can create a lava explosion…

Or, thinking bigger, a solar flare…

“Yeah, great, Tooty.” I hear you complain. “You’re an artistic genius, okay? I get that. But what the heck does any of this have to do with Earplug inspiration? I don’t see any of these bog cleaners in the Earplug Adventures!”

And you’d be right. But not for much longer. Look…

And look again…

And again…

Believe me, when I say: “Toilet fresheners are the future!”

The Photographer’s Eye 1: Seeing What Isn’t There: Negativity

I’m no photographer. Heck, I only use point and shoot cameras. But I use an awful lot of ’em and I do have a photographer’s eye. I know this latter observation to be true because I see potentialities in a scene that, perhaps, others don’t. I use this…um…skill…to bring to life scenes of other worlds in my Earplug Adventures. I also use it purely for it’s artistic merit. One of these…er…skills…is to see, in advance, how a scene might work in reverse. Or, to put it another way, I ask myself what would the negative of this photo look like? And, more importantly, how can I use that effect? Well yesterday I found myself with a couple of free minutes at work and duly dug out a compact from the bottom of my work bag. Hours later, after fiddling with the consequent plethora of snaps on my computer, three of the results looked exactly like this…

A happy Space Slug, crawling along a galactic string in orbit above night time Earth.

Scary alien space craft emerging from a nebula.

Banking to port aboard an aircraft as it approaches a coastal city at night.

Hopefully you will have no idea what the original (positive) shots looked like. I like to surprise whenever possible. Can you recognise any of them? If not, read on…

We’ll start with the last picture. A colleague watched as I tossed some sawdust upon the floor – then hit it with a blast of compressed air…

“You’re gonna take a picture of that aren’t you?” He said. “What’s it gonna be this time?”

Well now he knows. But I demanded more from it and it also doubled up when I used a squashed version of it to combine with this peeling render in a disused lavatory block…

…to create the Space Slug…

And as regards the alien space ship…

Well that was easy. From the same disused lavatory block – for which I appear to have an affinity (I’ve certainly taken a disproportionate number of pictures in several of them in the past few years) – may I present….a disgusting urinal!

There you have it – inspiration comes in many forms. You just have to see past the obvious. And yes, that urinal did pong. I suffer horribly for my art.  

What’s in a Name?

I was half way through cooking the family meal, this evening, when the thought occured. It was one of those thoughts that an author gets only once in a blue moon. Of course it wasn’t a momentous thought. In fact it wasn’t really new either: I’d had it before – on one of those rare blue moons. But this time there was an additional facet to it that was absent earlier. If I were to vocalise the unoriginal thought, it would go something like this…

“Hmmm, I dunno; I really should produce a more adult version of the Earplug Adventures. Senior Earplug Adventures is the obvious title. It’d be ruder, with swearing. Yeah, earplugs could  shout ‘Cock!’ and no one would complain.”  

Then the additional facet, I mentioned, kicked in…

“But I couldn’t use the name Tooty Nolan. It would confuse the shit out of people. Of course I’d have to pretend that the adult version was written by someone else entirely. Yeah, now let me think, what nom de plume might this mysterious author go by?”

Well one name was already in my head. I’d invented the French author, Gregory Pissoire several years ago, but never used him. So I let my mind go into whacky mode and dreamed up Gershwin Chipottle. ‘Very nice,’ thought I, ‘but I need one more name. A killer name maybe.’ Then I recalled another fake French author’s name from a while back. And I thought that I might just have the name I needed so desperately. But what I think doesn’t count. It’s what YOU  think that matters. I figured that if anyone should make the choice, it should be my readers. So allow me to present three possible book covers of the rude version of The Museum of Future Technology, and invite you to leave the name of your choice in the comments box, below. And here they are…

Gregory Pissoire

Gershwin Chipottle

And finally the killer name; Jean-Jacques Bivouac

Whichever one you choose – I’ll be happy with it. Then, finally, I’ll have the freedom to use this picture in a story…

…and I will be able to die a contented man – at some point in the distant future, obviously. There’s no rush: I still have things to do – like complete that damned  novel! But whatever, please vote. 

Evil Made More Evil

Of course, the evil to which the title of this post refers is nothing less than this reasonably fabulous e-book…

…which is now available at Lulu in it’s new and improved form. Or Second Edition, as they prefer to term it. Naturally it’s quite pleasant, though if (as its author) I’m totally honest, it isn’t as good as the tale that precedes it. But what the heck: it’s part of a vast saga; so who cares? Usual stuff folllows – that stuff being a nice montage and a snippet of the text…

Oh, I dunno; maybe it’s not so bad after all!

P.S For the first few days following release, the iBooks version is the old, unimproved version. But fear not; the Second Edition will appear.

Distant Land (part 44)

Captain Cedric Mantequilla wasn’t an overtly emotional earplug; but something in the Skail Brother’s tale of an uprooted and decimated civilization broke through his not particularly stony reserve…

“How sad.” He said into the silence that reigned upon the bridge of the Brian Talbot…

“Agreed.” His crew responded in a fusillade of croaks as they avoided each other’s gaze by paying overly close attention to their work-station screens and read-outs.

Even Folie was feeling a little subdued…

“What are we going to do now?” He asked. “We can’t just fly away like nothing happened.”

“And it’s not enough to show this video to anyone who is willing to watch. “Placebo said quietly. “We have to do something more positive. Can star ships go back in time? Can we stop the disaster from ever happening? Maybe warn them, or something?”

Folie picked up on this: “Hey, maybe we could show them their own video: that’d make them think twice about tapping into alternate realities. And it must be awful having so many earplugs using so few toilets!”

Cedric remained mute and immobile throughout this. At the rear of the bridge, three crew-plugs chose to quietly conjecture…

“Cedric isn’t the bravest captain that ever was.” The pink earplug, known as Lawrence Bunion, stated. And before his colleagues could put their feet in their mouths by saying something derogatory about the captain, he did so himself: “Me – I’m all for trying something stupid like that kid suggested. But I reckon Mantequilla will cut and run. He’ll probably panic and order max speed in any direction other the one he morally needs to take.”

But he was alone with these negative thoughts. The others believed that, for once in his life, the Captain would overcome his natural propensity for panicky actions. This would be the time when he would exhibit the type of character that star ship captains, throughout the Galaxy, were famed for.

“I’ll bet you a week’s wages that he doesn’t.” The orange crew-plug, whose name was Brett Scuttles, whispered.

But before the deal could be ratified by a dry spit and the shaking of hands, Cedric stood and led Folie and Placebo to the front of the bridge…

“Sorry kids,” he said to them as everyone turned their attention to the main viewer, “but star ships can’t travel in time. Only space.”

For a brief moment Brett Scuttles  wished that he’d not suggested the bet: he couldn’t afford to lose that much money. But his concerns evaporated when Cedric added: “But it can find that frozen world that so closely resembles Earth. And maybe it’s crew can visit that world. And maybe…just maybe…that crew can figure out how to use their fancy equipment and bring that world back to life.”

Folie was confused. “I’m confused, Captain.” He said. He was also at a loss. “I’m at a loss too. What would be the point? There’s no one left to live on it.”

“Not now maybe.” Cedric replied through a grim smile. “But when we cross over into that alternate reality and fetch all the survivors back, there certainly will be.” He then added loudly, in his most commanding tone: “Helmsplug – set a precise course that follows the Gravity Whelk’s ion trail back to it’s planet of origin. We don’t have forever to get this job done: so get us their quickly…huh? Maximum thrust all the way. No holding back. Talking of which: I need to visit the lavatory – and damned quickly too. So let’s go-go-go!”

Moments later, the heading having been entered in to the navigation computer,  the Brian Talbot blasted into an uncertain future…

The End

Now watch out for the next thrilling tale – ‘A Tale of Three Museums‘.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2019  

 

More Bottom of the Freezer Cooking (with your chef Tooty Nolan)

Well, following the huge success of my last B.O.T. F. C post, I thought the time right for a second helping, so to speak. Inspiration was born out of necessity. I had a few ropy lumps of veg hanging around, which needed cooking before they became inedible, (that’s right, I don’t believe in throwing food away. It’s not that I’m a skinflint: I just feel that its plain wrong to do so) and precious little else in the fridge. So it was ‘raid the cupboard and freezer time’. Hurrah: another Tooty Concoction!” And this is how it should be done…

First up, microwave the ropy veg. Then slice a few potatoes – preferably ropy ones that need using up. Microwave them too. Did I mention you’d need a microwave? Well you do. Better still try two – because you are going to need another one to microwave a lump of frozen cod, which you will then crumble. Meanwhile open a packet of something similar to this…

…and stir it into the requisite volume of milk, which then goes on to the hob to be boiled into a bubbling cauldron from hell. Meanwhile open that can of red salmon (that’s been bugging you by always sitting in front of whatever you want at the back of the cupboard) and drain off the juice. Place the sliced potatoes in the bottom of a baking…er, I don’t know the correct gastronomic term…let’s call it a bowl. Then add the ropy veg, followed by the cod and salmon. It should look exactly like this…

Strictly speaking you could eat it like this: it’s all been cooked after all. But no, add that sauce…

Back to the fridge now. Some ageing cheese should be crying out from behind the Boursin and spreadable butter, beneath the forgotten vodka spritzer on the lower shelf. Grate some Cheddar and Mozzarella and liberally coat…

Then shove it in the oven at max power until the cheese has melted and the concoction is bubbling merrily. The result will look like this… 

Then serve it up; sit back and watch it disappear rapidly; collect the empty plates; then listen to the family say things like; “That was yum: we’ll have that again!” Or, in the case of my wife, on the ‘phone to a friend: “Yes, it was very nice. I’ve never  tasted anything quite like it before; but it was nice.”