Tag Archives: art

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?

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!

Spoiled Illusions 4: Cardboard is My Chum

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.

If you’re an Earplug Adventures photographer, one of your best friends is the humble material known as cardboard. With a little imagination and a bit of jiggery-pokery, it can become anything you bloody well want it to. Take, for example this empty insulation pile reel…

Hmmm, lots of potential there. Now let me see; what can I turn THAT into? Well there’s this very nice dungeon/kitchen…

…which appeared in Return of the Prodigal Earplug. It looks like a dungeon – especially with those flaming torches (burning matches) set into the wall. But the story said it was a kitchen: so I guess it must have been a medieval themed kitchen. It appeared again in Return to the Museum of Future Technology as Wilton Carpetti and Vinkie Vinkleton’s test facility – only dressed more futuristically…

And again as Ballington Cork’s temple in Return of the Prodigal Earplug…

Oh look, it’s those flaming torches again. In fact these reels have appeared in so many stories that I’m spoiled for choice. But I’ll make the last example this one…

Yes, it even featured as the K T Woo’s engine room in Stepladder to the Stars. Very versatile, cardboard reels.

But cardboard comes in many guises. Like these strips – wot I cut…

These utilise that old perspective trick that was taught to us in school art lessons, all those millions of years ago. This is how this particular duo of strips looked in the story, Cometh the Earplug

Hair-Tigger wasn’t sure if the building was small and quite nearby, or huge, but a long way off. So she altered her focus, and…

…the latter proved to be the case. Silly, but I like it.

The following picture has been used over and over – almost every time that I need to show the city of Scroton Prime. It was a semi-perminant set at my old ‘studio’ despite the fact that I constructed it in the main warehouse of the factory where I worked. Everyone knew what it was, so left it alone – even the management. I was blessed to work there…

But I often re-dressed it – either physically – or later (when it was history, and all I had were some pictures of it), electronically for different stories.  Here’s how it appeared the first time, in Plunging Into Peril...

It was then re-used a hideous number of times, culminating in (at present) the most recent tale – Haunted Mars...

Will there ever come a time when this shot doesn’t appear ad infinitum? Hope not.

Those cardboard inserts you find in, say, vacuum cleaner or microwave oven boxes are a God-send as well…

If used as interiors, they make excellent caves – as seen here in Stepladder to the Stars, where Sheriff (later Captain) Sinclair Brooch makes an astonishing discovery…

And as exteriors, all you need do is cut a couple of openings…

… and they make perfect mud villages…

…as seen here in The Grand Tour. All in all, a jolly useful commodity for a creative genius, like wot I is.

Of course there are many other cardboard items which are extremely useful for a Earplug Adventure shooter: but I’ll leave them for another time.

 

 

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 3: Potential Noticed

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 Earplug Adventure props/sets appear to me in a flash of…um…let’s call it artistic inspiration. Take, for example, this sheet of melamine-coated chip board. Clearly someone has used it as a base for spraying something – and it was the over-spray that caught my attention…

“Yeah,” thought I, “I can do something with that.” So I took a picture of it. So much easier than storing the original. Well, almost five years later, I did. It appeared in A Tale of Three Museums…

…as emergency habitations for the survivors of the ruined world that featured in that tale. And there’s this too…

Sometimes, when things were quiet at work, I would use a rotary saw to slice thin sections from blocks of artistically interesting timber. Here are a couple of examples that, for some reason, I chose to photograph. I remember turning the top one into a desert scene; but I’ve never had reason to use it. The other has sat quiescent for two-or-so years – until I required a scene to depict a newly-formed rift in a landscape. Thank you, slice of wood, for supplying the surface torrent in Haunted Mars...

To put it into perspective, here it is with two characters inserted…

And then there was my daughter’s cast off light shade. That came straight out of the bin, and into my old (and still lamented) ‘studio’…

Does anyone recall what it was used for? Well, more recently, it was what the false Supreme Being turned into after it’s underpants had been blown off in The Grand Tour

And here he is, sans human appearance…

But previously it had appeared as a hot-air balloon. Here it is in Those Magnificent Earplugs

But I think it looked better in Return to the Museum of Future Technology

…complete with its Christmas bauble gondola.

For the final example, this time, regard this…

I wanted a port hole set for a story that took place aboard Ship Number 15. Remember that old bucket? Ship Number 15 was a miserable green – the only colour paint available to me at the time. So I did this to one of the office box files (don’t tell the boss. Oh, it’s okay: he retired a couple of years ago – and he probably knew anyway. He had eyes everywhere). But I digress. Here is that box file in action…

…where it played the role of the Scout Ship hangar in Worstworld. In the end the circular hole wasn’t used as a port hole, but instead played a very nice interior window…

…for Vanilla Redbush to look through, and a lovely shooting embrasure…

…which worked very well, I think…

Pity I destroyed Ship Number 15 during the Battle of The Museum of Future Technology in Liberation. How short-sighted of me.

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…

 

 

 

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.

Revel in the Ribaldry 15

Since this series of excerpts from my wondrously fabulous Hamster-Sapiens e-books appears to be fulfilling a desperate need deep within the bosom of so many, here’s another one. Of course, numerically at least (if not artistically) it must come from the majestic…

Yes, Danglydong Dell Diaries – not only a sequel to Fanfare for the Common Hamster, but to The Psychic Historian too. I mean, what else could you want from a book? And here is that random extract…

Wendy Nuthatch knew better than to return to the dais. Like Horatio before her, she had read the program. In fact she’d written it, so was well aware that to step upon the dais now would invite disaster. Instead she merely checked her watch, folded her arms against the increasingly chill winter breeze, and sat back to watch.

Into the same chill winter breeze stepped Joan Bugler. As was usual for the young, if plump, female – she appeared out of thin air. She then reached back into the invisible realm from which she had just arrived, and yanked through a prissy-looking fellow in bright red tights, a huge floppy hat, and a colourful, gold braided, jerkin. He carried with him a long dull-metal trumpet.

Once the brightly-bedecked apparition had recovered from the transition from one reality to another, he promptly put the trumpet to his mouth and blew a pleasant little ditty that had the first five rows tapping their toes in time with it. Those further back lacked natural rhythm, but appreciated the melody nevertheless.

The tune only lasted a few moments. Joan then stepped to the microphone.

“Did anyone recognise the tune?” She inquired.

Naturally no one did, but Horatio was excellent at putting two and two together, and correctly guessed that it was the recently rearranged, funked-up, version of Fanfare for the Common Hamster.

Joan pointed at Horatio and grinned. “I thought you’d figure it out. Can you guess what happens next?”

Horatio didn’t just want to guess; he wanted to be an active participant. Leaping from his seat, and dashing forward, he reached out to Joan’s paw, and said, “May I?”

Joan had once experienced non-reproductive sexual intercourse with Horatio. They now enjoyed a near-telepathic talent for understanding each other’s needs. “Of course.” She replied, and helped Horatio on to the dais.

To Horatio alone she said, “Reach into Prannick Horatio.”

Naturally Horatio didn’t need further prompts. He lunged with his free paw into the undetectable portal, grabbed hold of the first thing that he found there, and yanked as hard as he could. His paw returned clutching a spectacular plume that had been fashioned from the feathers of some exotic bird. The plume came attached to a huge brass helmet. And attached to the brass helmet was the heir to the throne of Sponx – Darkwood Dunce – and he didn’t look best pleased.

“I say!” He bellowed in a disturbingly effeminate voice that he quickly brought under control, and duly continued in a more testosterone-enriched tenor, “Have a care, cur; don’t you know who I am?”

It was a great show, and the people of Hamster Heath applauded loudly, which gave Horatio time to regain his seat.

Abruptly aware that he and Joan were not alone, Darkwood immediately doffed his helmet; made a sweeping gesture that might have been a bow; winked at Joan; and then called, “Greetings good people of Hamster Heath. I’m just so thrilled to be here. Really I am.”

“We’re thrilled that you’ve agreed to appear.” Nurse Growler, from the local surgery, called out in response. “It’s not every day that we get to meet the heir to a kingdom in our dinky little town.”

“Why thank you, fair maid.” Darkwood nodded in satisfaction. “It is not every day that I am so privileged to stand before an audience of such class and breeding.”

“Breeding?” Huck Ballesteroid’s startled tones filled the dell. “Is that big poofter suggesting that we start breeding? Well I’m all for it: I’ve always had an eye for Nurse Growler. She’s a right miserable-looking sod, but I bet she goes like a race-prepped go-kart.”

Nurse Growler might not have been the most friendly and caring of nurses, but she had always been extremely professional, and was never short of medical equipment should the need arise. She could usually lay a paw upon some important implement – night and day – becalmed or tempest – sober or totally rat-arsed. And so she did that night in Danglydong Dell. From somewhere (no one could honestly say that they witnessed its appearance) Nurse Growler produced a heavy cast iron enamelled bed pan.

Upon the dais Darkwood flinched. He’d never seen a bedpan before, and feared that it was some terrible advanced form of weaponry. And he was right. Nurse Growler stood up, pushed Doctor Growbag’s head between his knees so that she had room to swing, and proceeded to revolve upon the spot – building up speed with every turn – until she launched the bedpan with all the skill and fury of a rodentolympic hammer thrower. The bedpan then sliced through the air in a rising arc like a startled sparrow with a veterinarian’s thermometer up its jacksey.

In his bath chair Huck Ballesteroid had a terrible sense of foreboding. Ever since childhood he’d been certain that one day this moment would come. And now it had arrived – not on the battlefield as he’d hoped – but in Danglydong Dell; on a winter’s night; with everyone watching. He sighed in the face of dreadful inevitability and made his peace with his chosen deity.

The bedpan, when it arrived, came out of the dark night sky like a silent meteorite, or an avenging dirigible passenger’s frozen turd. It caught Huck directly between the eyes – knocking him senseless, and pitching him backwards into the lukewarm water of his bath chair.

For a moment utter silence reigned. Then Horatio (who had history with Huck) cheered like a hamster possessed, and within a heartbeat the entire dell had erupted with a cheerful chorus of hoorahs.

Darkwood didn’t know what to make of it. So he leant forward and spoke into the microphone, and said, “I say, do you want to hear my tale, or not?”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2013

Fantasy? The writers of Game of Thrones should have read this book before they wrote that series. Imagine how much better it would have been – especially the ending! But that’s by-the-by: they didn’t, and the world’s a sorrier place for their omission. But you can still buy this tale of derring-do at most e-book retailers – some of which are mentioned on the sidebar or in Tooty’s Books Available Here beneath the header. Also check out the Lulu logo on the sidebar.

 

Smart Phone Wallpaper Test: When Bathroom Walls Close In

I found a blog in which the owner gave away wallpapers for smart phones. I thought: “Neat”, so duly downloaded one to test its properties – those being 26mp resolution, and sized at 473 x 1024 pixels. I then duplicated those dimensions with an Earplug Adventure picture. As a Mark One, it kind of worked, but will need tweaking. But just as a test – should you own a smart phone of course – could you download the following picture, to see if it fits and is of acceptable quality? That would be very useful. If it works, I’ll do some more – hopefully better. 

Leave your comments and results in the comments box below. Thank you.

Photographic Art: Making Something Out of Bugger All 1

Ladies and gentlemen, please allow me to present….The Space Testicle!

And just to prove that I created this wondrous inter-planetary gonad out of bugger all…here is the original shot of post-meal gravy boat dregs…

I’ll take a picture of anything and everything, me.

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!

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.  

Cardboard Dreams Become Reality (part 1)

Okay, maybe that title does overstate the usefulness of cardboard slightly, but as the creator of the Earplug Adventures I can tell you, I wouldn’t be able to visualize half of what you see in these dippy tales without it. Wonderful stuff; and free too!

If you’ve been following the stories for a while, you might recognize this circular item. It, and many very like it have appeared over and over. Check out these examples…

Looks like the engine room of the early version of the K T Woo to me. And what about this?

A scientific lab, obviously. It makes for a charming religious establishment too…

Just look at those burning torches. Attention to detail – or what!

Cardboard tubes and rings can come in handy too…

This is the ‘before’ shot of Scroton Prime – capital city of the Cable End’s home world, Scroton. Note the use of plain cardboard sheeting as a background and as sharply-angled ‘buildings in the foreground. This is how that locale appeared on the cover The Masters of Scroton

And in a segment of the story…

Cardboard blocks are groovy too. Especially those items perched on the top of this pile of tubes…

With the help of a length of insulation material, a canvas backdrop, some bits of sticky-backed paper, a sheet of plastic laid on top, and a nice example of perspective…

..something starts to take shape. Here’s a ‘before’ shot of Don Quibonki and his side-kick Panta Lonez in situ…

But to see the resulting pictures from the story, you’ll have to come back for Part Two of Cardboard Dreams Become Reality!

What a rotten git I am.

 

Sources of Everyday Earplug Inspiration 1: Canderel Sweetener Dispensers

As I nonchalantly dropped a quartet of sweeteners into my cafe au lait, I took a moment to consider the dispenser in my hand. “Hmmm,” thought I, “that’s an interesting shape: maybe I can use some of that in my stories.”

So, once it had become exhausted of little white tablets, I wrenched the thing apart and considered the constituent parts. And guess what: I was right. I was hoping to find something ear-pluggish that was analogous to either the dog or the horse. I was also in search of a personal transport vehicle for my characters. In the Canderel dispenser I found both. Witness the emergence of the Plugmutt…

They have proved so useful that I’ve used them over and over again – in all sorts of colours…

And, of course, they’re great for riding upon…

Which, by chance, were the dispensing mechanisms too…

Of course the ‘buggies’ don’t have the character of the Plugmutts, but they are excellent for moving my characters from one location to another…

But other sweetener dispensers haven’t been ignored: not in the Earplug Adventure world. Some of them have made quite pleasant boats…

And others, wheel-less wheel barrows…

Is there no end to their usefulness? Sweetener dispensers: where would the Earplug Adventures be without them?

 

Special Earplug Effects: Just How Special Are They?

If you are a regular visitor to this cyber-shore, you’ll probably be aware that I like to take photos and write stories. I particularly enjoy combining both…er…shall we say ‘passions‘? The result is – the Earplug Adventures. I like trying to make something out of very little. Taking something unspectacular and prosaic, and turning it into a vivid scene is a challenge. Often I find the aforementioned unspectacular and prosaic somethings standing right in front of me. For example, like this…

People who catch me snapping merrily (and know about my harmless perversion) can be often heard saying: “Don’t tell me; it’s for one of your Little People stories.” They don’t ask what I expect to do with the resulting picture: they just know it’ll be something unexpected. Can you figure what I created out of this door? Check out the peeling blue paintwork; that’s what gave me the idea for…

…some islands for Magnuss and Hair-Trigger to fly above…

The story is entitled Mutant Island; and when the daring duo discovered the titular island, they took a closer look…

Wow, that’s some really rocky island down there, huh? Well, actually, no: it’s…

…a tree stump. But what about a few drops of condensation on a frosted glass window? *

You don’t get many things duller and less interesting than that. Surely nothing neat could possibly be made out of a gents toilet window and some dripping water! Well…

…I beg to differ.

Ah, little things. Very silly, I’m sure. But it keeps me happy and stretches the brain cells, so I don’t grow old too quickly.  Where’s the harm in that? 

* Those Magnificent Earplugs

Cricetinae Fictionem – or Something Like That: 20

And so – to the twentieth extract from one of these wondrous tomes…

As the cover photos suggest, this particular excerpt comes from Fanfare for the Common Hamster. And very nice it is too…

Quentin Blackheart was now in a quandary: Once more he’d been ordered to exterminate a large group of individuals: and once more he found himself unequal to the task.

“I’ll tell you what,” he shouted at the guards and lawmen that surrounded the captive Stix and their sympathisers, and who felt just as uncertain as their captain, “you lot get off down to the bakery and get yourselves some sausage rolls for breakfast: I’ll wipe out this lot with my mighty sword and powerful arm muscles by myself. It shouldn’t take more than a few minutes. Oh, and by the way – leave the door unlocked: my paws might be so bloodied and coated in distasteful gore that I won’t be able to turn the lock when I try to leave.”

Naturally everyone quaked in his or her boots initially; but when, after the last guard had tromped out, Blackheart said, “Now bugger off, the lot of you. Remain out of trouble, and stay incognito if you can. Just let the situation cool. Don’t go antagonising the Law Master. So no trying to bust up The Wheel for a while. Now get the fluff out – before anyone comes back to witness the executions!” that they all relaxed and fell into each other’s arms with relief.

Joan couldn’t help but notice that she’d automatically fallen in Rootley’s direction, and that he had fallen into hers. She also couldn’t help but notice that he’d collapsed under her weight, and that they now lay upon the floor in, what some might have described as, a compromising position.

Darkwood certainly did, and consequently had them both hoisted upright by Brother Alfonso.

“You heard what the kind captain said: ” He said shrilly, “Let’s run away.”

So, without another word, they filed out of the building via the rear entrance, which was seldom used and was partially blocked by stinging nettles and a family of very cross Garden Cross spiders.

The delay gave Blackheart his opportunity for a final request…

“If any of you happen to get recaptured, you won’t mention this little episode? The Law Master will have me slain in your places – and there’s loads of you.”

 

Night had fallen once more before the four hamsters dared emerge from the cover of the nettle patch. When eventually they did, it was with mixed emotions. Ideally they should have made best speed for Weasels Pit, and for Joan to once more make an attempt to return home: But the memory of Tybrow Mooney’s actions had buried itself so deeply within their collective hide that they couldn’t leave without doing something about it.

“I say we corner the bastard on a dark alley, and beat him to a pulp!” Rootley dared a yell into the darkness.

“No, no, no:” Brother Alfonso introduced a counter-suggestion, “I say we hang him from the abbey spire – by his escroto!”

“I agree,” Darkwood nodded vigorously, “but not before we learn the whereabouts of his wealth: I know that it’s my father’s most fervent wish to reclaim, from the pawnbrokers, his toilet painting kit.”

“Aren’t we getting ahead of ourselves?” Joan interjected, “We don’t even know where he is?”

Darkwood looked at Joan with pity – though fortunately Joan couldn’t see it due to the darkness.                                                                                                                                

“My dear Walker-Between-Worlds,” He sighed, “He owns the Rancid Maggot Inn: He’ll be there – plotting his revenge for the gross mistreatment that he received from the Law Master.”

“Oh, yeah.” Joan immediately cheered up, “I hadn’t thought of that.”

And she really hadn’t either: She didn’t believe in revenge: Hamsters seldom did: they preferred a cup of hot chocolate and a nice DVD to watch. Especially ones with immigrant gerbils for a mother.

Now it was Joan’s turn to sigh: Oh, how she longed for a cup of hot chocolate and a nice DVD to watch. Then she had another thought, and it concerned Rootley and some rampant non-reproductive sexual intercourse. And this thought blew the first thought into the weeds. But both were interrupted when Alfonso hissed – then pointed in the direction of The Rancid Maggot Inn.

A flickering light had appeared in an upper floor window. It was time to act!

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2013

 

Cricetinae Fictionem – or Something Like That: 4

Long before those literary masterpiece earplugs appeared on the scene, my comedic desires were assuaged by stories about sentient hamsters that lived in a parallel universe to our own. Hence the Hamster-Sapiens series of e-books. 

Here’s a random excerpt from the third of the aforementioned – The Psychic Historian...,

Soon the young male hamster found himself walking along a colonnade of (what appeared at first sight to be) market stalls. But rather than being the purveyors of fruit, vegetables, unpleasantly sweating meat products, and sunglasses of dubious origin, the stalls were actually the point of contact between any would-be students, and the representatives of the town’s universities.

“Come and scrutinize our literature. Study our informative prospectus.” Those who manned the stalls would cry out. “Look how nicely we’ve laid out our campus.”

The young hamster was impressed by their entrepreneurial skills. He stopped and chatted with several before finally settling upon a college that enjoyed the moniker, ‘The Chunder Bellows School for Blistering Idiots’.

“Hello.” He smiled as he introduced himself to the ageing wood mouse behind the counter, “I’ve checked-out all the other colleges here today, and I’ve decided that your college is the one best suited to my needs.”

The ageing wood mouse took up a quill made from the tail feather of a wren, and dipped into a pot of ink. He then prepared himself to write upon a large sheet of headed notepaper.

“Name?” The wood mouse inquired in a disinterested tone.

For a moment this seemed to stump the young hamster. Then realization struck, and he smiled: Obviously the old mouse was almost blind. “It’s there – at the top of the page.” He informed the wood mouse.

“Ugh?” The wood mouse responded in puzzlement.

“Chunder Bellows School for Blistering Idiots.” The young hamster nodded pleasantly – pleased to have been able to help.

“You what?” The wood mouse was now even more perplexed. “Your name is the same as the college you wish to join? That seems more than coincidental.”

Now it was the turn of the young hamster to be confused. “But my name is Lancelot Ballesteroid!” He cried out in surprise.

In an instant the ageing wood mouse understood. “Ah,” he began to write the words Lancelot Ballesteroid in the box marked ‘name’, “it appears that you have indeed selected your college well: For certainly you are a blistering idiot.”

Lancelot didn’t know how to take this: Was it some sort of test? He thought that he’d play it safe. “Yes.” He said.

“Address?” The wood mouse asked, then stepped back to await Lancelot’s response.

Again Lancelot decided that discretion was the better part of valour, and so replied with, “Yours or mine?”

The ageing wood mouse sighed. “Oh, I don’t know – let’s try yours: we can come back to mine later.”

Lancelot liked the thought of that, and wondered if they would be having crumpets with their cup of tea. But he kept his counsel and said only, “Number Twenty-twelve, Rincon Del Anus, Hamster Heath.”

“Does it have a postal code?” The wood mouse inquired in a most professional manner.

Lancelot replied in the affirmative.

The wood mouse gave him a long appraising look, but said only; “Good. Perhaps we should come back to that later as well.” Then he added; “Age?”

Lancelot’s eyes darted this way and that. He wondered if this too was a test. What possible age could the wood mouse refer too? Then it came to him; “Ice.” He said loudly.

At this the wood mouse sighed so deeply that Lancelot thought that he might be in danger of inverting himself. “Perhaps you should see a doctor?” he suggested helpfully. “Your lungs don’t appear to have developed properly. Or have you been gassed?”

“Perhaps I should see a shrink.” The other responded. “But then I guess I’d have to be at least half-way crazy to want to run a college for morons in the first place. So your name is Lancelot Ballesteroid, you come from Hamster Heath, and you were born during an ice-age. Do I have all the facts correct?”

Lancelot considered this. “Two out of three aren’t bad.” He said uncertainly.

“If you’re happy with that – I’m happy with that. We’re done.” The wood mouse then extended a paw. “Welcome to Chunder Bellows.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2013

The five e-books that feature here are all available at many e-book retailers, including those mentioned in the sidebar to your right. You should take a look – if only out of curiosity.

P.S Did you see that? It wasn’t rude. No one farted or dropped their trousers! What is the world coming to?

Photography: Who Needs Anything More Than a Compact?

Generally speaking a half-way decent compact, or even a camera phone, will (pretty much) take care of your photographic needs. I should know, I shoot all my Earplug Adventures on one. And if any proof is needed, check out the following photos. The first is shot with my trusty Fujifilm compact – yes the culprit responsible for the aforementioned earplug-based travesties; the second with a reasonably priced Nikon bridge camera: and the last with one of those half-way to a DSLR things, made by Sony. I adjusted no settings; merely allowing the cameras to select them automatically…

Not a lot in it, I’d say. But what about light and shade? A mixture of interior and exterior photography?

If anything, I think the Nikon is looking a little shabby here. But maybe these shots aren’t demanding enough. Neither of the others could have captured this…

On Sport mode the Nikon fires off a salvo of snaps, one of which is bound to hit the target. And  only the Sony, with its massive zoom, was capable of snagging a high-altitude Rook giving a bird of prey a hard time…

So, in summation, if you insist on using a compact or camera phone, and wouldn’t be seen dead with anything that needed a strap to hang ’round your neck, stick to shooting Earplug Adventures, like me!

DSCN7717

A compact is clever little bugger, and I wouldn’t be without one, or five, or seven, or however many I have.