Tag Archives: digital photography

Earplug Adventures: The Age of Stone (part 2)

A mere hour and a half later, the millions of kilometres between the area that Rudi had designated Pongy Space, and the Museum of Future Technology, had been traversed…

“Cor,” Chester gushed characteristically, “these Hyper-space attack ships sure do shift. By the way – where are the brakes?”

But the younger of the twins needn’t have worried about crashing headlong into their beloved emporium: Valentine – skilled as he was at piloting vessels such as the Punting-Modesty XL5 Facepuncher…

… pulled the saucer up short with plenty of microns to spare. Within moments of disembarkation, the five-some stood upon hallowed ground…

“Ah, that’s better.” Miles said as his eyes ranged here, there, and everywhere. “Anyone fancy a ghastly coffee at Café Puke?”

Magnuss, now feeling better once upon terra firma, was about to reply, when they all heard the annoyingly metallic (and monstrously mono-tonal) voice of a Robot Security Guard – more commonly known as a RoboSecGua – as it called for their attention…

“Flip me sideways,” Magnuss whispered out of the side of his mouth to Rudi, “what have we done this time?”

“Hey, Val,” Rudi said in response, “did you pay the parking meter?”

But they need not have concerned themselves fiscally: the RoboSecGua was only there to accompany them in a mad dash through the museum…

…to a recently installed facility called ‘Decontamination’…

“Hey,” Chester squealed with delight, “I’m not affronted by this embarrassing situation at all: my bum has never been so pleasantly tickled before. What about you, Valentine?”

“Yeah, cool, man.” The second-eldest brother replied. “And regard the funky moisturising cream dispenser: I really dig it!”

But all good things must come to an end, and soon they were released…

Unsurprisingly the first person they encountered was their Auntie Doris, who had brought her beau, K’Plank the Space Wanderer, with her…

“Hello boys,” she called from the top of the Up ramp, “nice to see you back. Before you rush off on your new mission, K’Plank has some fatherly advice for you.”

“Indeed I do.” The former bad guy, but now totally reformed rotten egg, added. “I think you should take pause to consider those closest to you. Magnuss, Rudi, and Valentine: your girlfriends are undoubtedly pining for you: I think it best that you see them first – just in case something terrible were to happen to you in the new Age of Stone exhibit.”

Naturally the three brothers mentioned took on board these wise words, and before long Magnuss had invited Hair-Trigger for a quick snack at Mister Pong’s Exotic Food Restaurant…

…where he planned to tell her that he was off on another adventure without her. Naturally Pong’s daughters, Yu-Wah and Wah-Hey were there. And, whilst Mister Pong took Magnuss’ order, the girls tossed aside their waitress dresses and rushed off for a rendezvous with the eldest Earplug brothers…

“Hey girls,” Rudi said as the females appeared from a side corridor and matched velocity with them, “we were on our way to see you.”

“Sho’nuf were,” Valentine confirmed his brother’s words. “We got something to tell ya.”

“We know.” Yu-Wah replied. “Everyone does. It’s all over the museum.”

“When do you leave?” Wah-Hey added.

“We’re on our way there now.” Rudi answered unwisely. “We were just gonna stop off to say hello before we caught a travellator to the new exhibit.”

This didn’t go down well…

“You rotten, lousy, selfish gits.” Yu-Wah bellowed.

“I’m surprised you didn’t just give us a quick phone call, or maybe text us.” Wah-Hey added.

“And to think we left our posts to come see you.” Yu-Wah whined. “Magnuss took Hair-Trigger to Dad’s restaurant. He’s a proper boyfriend, he is: not like you two.”

“Yeah,” Wah-Hey snapped. “We hope you get lost in the Age of Stone – that’s what we do.”

“And we hope the toilets are blocked too.” Yu-Wah finished. “Goodbye.”

Well there wasn’t much either Earplug brother could think of to say, so they watched the waitresses disappear down the corridor from which they had emerged in a far better mood…

“They’ll get over it.” Rudi said in the resulting silence.

“Yeah, sure thing.” Valentine replied uncertainly. “But I hope that wasn’t some kind’a curse they just put on us: getting lost aint too bad; but the thought of blocked toilets just makes me quake in my funky disco boots.”

A half-hour elapsed before the quintet re-joined…

As he rallied his troops, Rudi made no mention of Yu-Wah and Wah-Hey’s displeasure. “Okay, guys,” he said, “let’s go kick some stone-age buttocks.”

With that, and with slightly trepidatious hearts, the five pinky-orange earplugs climbed the stainless steel ramp that led to the new exhibit…

They simply had no idea what to expect.

©Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Poor Old Tooty: The Aftermath.

Well, actually there hasn’t really been an aftermath – if you don’t include me giving up bananas as a precution. In fact, other than a poor taste of t-shirt, all appears well at Tooty Towers…

If they ever remake Star Trek again, they know who to call.

But wait, perhaps all is not as tickety-boo as it might appear. Look what happens when I raise the aforementioned t-shirt…

Oh-no, how can I go out in public in a piebald state?

Argh, they had to shave my manly chest for the ECG sensors. Now I’m a hirsute titty freak!

Tooty’s Fashion For Fogeys 3

In my original Fashion For Fogeys I decried the fashion sense of men who are – how shall I put this? – past their prime. Men like me. Yes, I know it’s hard to believe, but I’m not quite so able as I once was. Bits of me have expanded: others shrivelled horrendously. Of course, regarding the former, I refer to my waistline. For the latter, I refer to my brain. Well obviously the willy too; but we don’t want to talk about that. But (as a result of a withering cerebrum) I find myself digressing: back to fashion for fogeys. In the original FFF I displayed an uncanny ability to wear beige gracefully. I also mentioned that one wasn’t neccessarilly forced to drive a tedious silver/grey car to Waitrose whilst wearing said beige apparel either, though in actuality I did, but that, in my case it wasn’t the regular choice of automobile made by fogeys, but something from the Volkswagon group and finely crafted in the Czech Republic. Or, to put it another way – it wasn’t a Honda Jazz (or any model of Hyundai). Well today was shopping day: the sun shone brightly; and, despite my best efforts, I couldn’t bring myself to throw on a T-shirt; some jeans; and a pair of Jesus boots . Yes, I dressed to go shopping. Awful isn’t it? Worse still I discovered a linen shirt in the back of my warddrobe: and guess what – it was beige – though I like to call it off-white. So, being a fashion icon for the older generation, I sought something to go with it that was both practical and stylish. Something that didn’t cry “Fogey!” Naturally success came within seconds. I set off the linen shirt with a pair of plain combat-style trousers in olive green, with a camouflaged ‘bum bag’ by Ellesse, and an equally olive green pair of Sketchers…

Cool, for an old bastard – right?

What – pink soles too?

But better still, not only did I not climb into a silver/grey Honda/Hyundai to visit Waitrose: I also visited Sainsburys (shock horror) in this…

Would have been Yellow, but they don’t make them. And I had to wait two and a half months whilst they built this Race Blue one for me.

So there you have it: the Guru plays by his own rules. And if you don’t want to become an old fogey, make sure you do the same.

Earplug Adventures: The Age of Stone (part 1)

Prologue

The Earplug Brothers had only ever used their Hyperspace Pirate-look-alike-spaceship once previously; but following the discovery of a nasty pong in a region of space that wasn’t desperately far from Earth, they had re-boarded their under-used vessel and set off immediately to investigate…

Although the aforementioned region of space came within the boundaries of the Solar System, to the occupants of the saucer, it felt awfully far away from home…

But after studying for gaseous emissions for two days, they were getting decidedly bored. Well Miles and Chester were. Rudi and Valentine were both far too busy checking read-outs and analysing samples of vacuum to notice.  And Magnuss just felt space sick…

But between bouts of nausea and rushing to the toilet, the middle brother had managed to concoct a theory. The pong to which reports referred was of a very individual design. In fact Magnuss knew it well. He was certain that he had smelt it once before – when a false Supreme Being had supplanted the true Supreme Being, whom the Earplug Brothers had freed from inside a huge wooden crate…

…who then did battle with the interloper, soon to be known as the Wonky Supreme Being…

…and with the brother’s help, the real Supreme Being was able to blow the underpants clean off the Wonky Supreme Being and thereby defeat him…

Now, yonks later, Magnuss was certain that the current pong was utterly redolent of the smell that had erupted from the Wonky Supreme Being’s pants as they flew haphazardly across the battlefield, all that time ago. But, until he felt better and was able to speak without gagging, he chose to keep his thoughts to himself. Chester, on the other hand, was thinking how much more fun the saviours of Mars – Folie Krimp and Placebo Bison – were certain to be having, right now, aboard the Gravity Whelk

And Miles was recalling a happier time when the five siblings performed Los Caballeros Stupido a cappella whilst standing on a dangerously minuscule stage with their distinctive Cossack hats perched upon their heroic heads…

But whatever the subject on each Earplug Brother’s particular mind, it was certain that (after several days in the depths of space) they all longed to return to The Museum of Future Technology…

An hour or two later – no one is certain quite how long, because boredom makes seconds seem to last forever – Rudi and Valentine concluded their study…

…and became aware of their sibling’s discomfort. Being the eldest, and therefore the wisest brother, Rudi invited them all into the presence of the Ship’s Oracle…

“Hey, Man,” he said to the fountain of knowledge, “we aint sure what we should do next – know what I mean? We’re getting nowhere fast, and my bros are getting real cheesed-off: any ideas?”

To which the Oracle replied: “You pop off to the lavatory for a few minutes: I’ll contact the museum.”

Of course it was exactly what the boys wanted to hear, and five minutes later they were on their way back to the control room…

…feeling much better in themselves, their bladders, and hopeful for the immediate future. And as they re-entered the control room, they couldn’t help but notice that the video link to Earth was in the act of warming up…

Much to their surprise, the Museum of Future Technology’s toothy chief curator – Cushions Smethwyke – had been joined by their Auntie Doris.

Rudi spoke for all of them: “Hello, Cushions.” He said “Hi, Auntie: How’s tricks?”

“Hello, boys.” Auntie Doris replied cheerfully, as was her way. “Miss Smethwyke has some good news for you.” Then to Cushions she said: “Go on, Cushions: tell them.”

“Good news indeed.” Cushions spoke across the vast divide between the museum and the flying saucer. “We’ve got a more important job for you, back here in the museum.”

“Hey,” Valentine spoke for the first time since swearing at the recalcitrant computer terminal at his Gaseous Anomaly Work Station, “right on, mama. Smells aint no groove, you dig? Specially space-smells. Whatta you got in mind?”

Doris couldn’t restrain her enthusiasm: she spoke straight over the curator: “We’ve had another exhibit arrive from the future.” She squealed with ill-disguised delight. “It’s a bloody great big one. The biggest since Eyewash Station was destroyed.”

“Yes,” Cushions added as she pushed herself in front of Doris, “it’s from an era when all technology was based on a single material: stone.”

This confused the heck out of the brothers. “But,” Chester said on their behalf, “the Stone Age isn’t in the future: it’s in the past!”

“No,” Cushions replied adamantly, “not the Stone Age: but The Age of Stone. It will be an era when everything is constructed out of stone. And I mean everything: even stethoscopes, windmills, micro-circuitry, and lavatory seats!”

Whilst the boys absorbed this stunning information, Doris finagled her way centre stage once more. “And they want you to test drive it – so-to-speak. So get yourselves back here as quick as poss: Cushions wants to open it to the public, but she wants to make sure it’s safe first.”

Three seconds later…

…they were on their way. And Magnuss wondered if this was the right moment to mention his fears that the gaseous anomalies were the result of the return of the Wonky Supreme Being. That they weren’t space-smells – as Valentine had assumed incorrectly: but God-farts – infiltrating and permeating regular space/time from within another quantum realm entirely!

©Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Yes, Earpluggers, they’re back!

Earplug Adventures Wallpaper: A Scroton Five Emerges from a Hyper-Space Conduit Above the Museum of Future Technology.

If you’re an Earplugger, you’ll know that this picture can’t be right. The Scroton Five exists in a later era. Or maybe it has travelled back through time. Or perhaps this is a picture from the MOFT’s future. Dr Gideon Snoot might be coming home. Ooh there’s a possibilty. Maybe I can shoehorn that idea into the next Earplug Adventure

The Set: The Scene 3

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…

First up we kick off with an easy example of earplug derring-do. This set should be very familiar to you…

Yup, it’s the bridge set of the starship Chi-Z-Sox / Brian Talbot. But what does a predominantly yellow bridge crew tell us? Again yup – it’s the Brian Talbot. And isn’t that Placebo Bison I see standing at the front? Thrice yup: it can only be this scene…

Which, I’m sure you’ll recall, appeared in Distant Land: a story so wonderful that these characters returned in A Tale of Three Museums.

So, with the easy introductory question out of the way, it’s on to the second one. Recognise this?

It’s an early set, when I still had my fabulous ‘studio’ that was later demolished. Two silver earplugs on a see-through disc. Lit from above and behind in front of a sheet of something styrofoamish. Ugh, I guess it must be…

Yes, it’s the android earplugs aboard their flying disc – en route to a fortuitous encounter with the time-manipulator, Gobby – in Earplug Aftermath.

So who is this?

Silly question: Obviously it’s the world’s pre-eminent Earplug author, Tooty Nolan, in the act of shooting a scene in Fort Balderdash. And how numerous those scenes were. I liked Fort Balderdash: it was yellow. But do you recall any scenes set there? Well here’s one of them…

In this scene a Robot Guide…ugh…guides a rather miserable looking Plopper O’Hooligan and his girlfriend Belinda Noseguard somewhere to do something in Those Magnificent Earplugs. Moving on, what on Earth is this?

I’ll tell you. At the back stands a sheet of stiff corrugated plastic material in white. In front a sheet of similarly white flexible plastic lays across some empty boxes – to simulate topography. Centre sits a piece of polystyrene packing material. This is obviously a building. It’s quite a large set, and (at the time) it caught the attention of several passers-by. And it was used for one throw-away scene. This one…

…in which the leadership of the Ice World go outside, for whatever reason, in Those Magnificent Earplugs.

So, finally, to this charming shot of a fork-lift truck’s battery charger…

Sadly this is a set that I can never again use. It still exists, but since retirement, I no longer have access to it – though I’m sure they’d allow it, if I asked nicely. It is also a ‘set’ that has appeared in many stories – over and over – as the control panel in the Maintenance Department. It oversees the workings of the Museum of Future Technology’s Nul Space Power Generator ( and The Future Museum of Mars too). In this case I’ve selected this example of it in action…

Green lights across the board: all is well for Nennigross Numbwinkle and Catford Greene in Natural Selection. Of course it’s just as likely to be showing red lights, with all kind of warning signs on the panel above Catford’s head. I needed to be careful about the time of day that I shot my scenes here. During most of the day the machine was switched off, with no lights illuminated. At night, when the fork-lift was plugged in, they would shine red. In the morning, after a night charging, the lights would shine green. I had to make sure that I took my pictures within those brief windows of opportunity. Honestly, the trouble I go to in order to bring you The Earplug Adventures!

P.S all the aforementioned e-books are available as free PDF copies by simply clicking their images on the sidebar.

Wallpaper 628: Meadow Hunting

Normally my photos struggle to gain ten ‘likes’ on Flickr (after all the standard is terribly high, and there’s some very fancy cameras out there). This one seemed to follow the usual path – until I’d sat myself down to breakfast – to discover that, over night, fifty people had found this nice enough to let me know. Captured the essence of Summertime perhaps?

Wallpapers 625, 626 & 627: Tranquil / Hare Today / Flee!

As I stood, stock-still, in the middle of a sun-drenched meadow – framing this shot…

…a movement at the periphery of my vision made me pause a moment longer. I was then able to watch as a lone Hare loped towards me in a stop-start fashion – eventually arriving before me and totally unaware of my presence…

Unfortunately my autofocus chose that moment to ‘beep’.

Did I ever mention how much I dislike autofocus?

A Lifeline for Nature

In England many farmers are paid to leave parts of their land fallow for several years, and turn it over to nature. Some go so far as to sow seeds of plants known to be of benefit to endangered species. The results have been very heart-warming to those who give a damn about the creatures that share this land with us. And areas that would otherwise be an uninteresting mono-culture, look like this…

And this…

If we keep this up, who knows, we may yet save the world from ourselves.

Tooty’s Re-appraisal

Whilst out walking recently, I discovered a location that gave me a previously unseen perspective on a section of road that I’ve travelled many times upon a motorcycle since the first time in 1973 aboard my dinky little (and dog-slow) Honda SS50Z. I took a photo of it…

Back in the day, when driven quickly, this was a section of road that could be quite challenging. As the decades have progressed it has become more so. In fact it now has a reputation for being an accident black-spot. Oddly it is easier to negotiate it faster on a motorcycle than in a car. Car drivers, it seems (judging from marks left behind on the bank of the preceding downhill adverse-cambered corner [right of picture] ), lose the rear end in a slide; hit the bank; and are catapaulted across the road – usually to crash into a drainage ditch (or through the hedgerow) just before the gate in the picture. Despite an uneven surface that includes ripples, cracks, potholes, and surface repairs, motorcycles move swiftly without incident (unless they meet an unexpected horse / cyclist / tractor / hedge trimmer of course). Although I must consider myself advancing in years, I still enjoy a quick squirt along this stretch. In fact I wind my Yamaha YBR125 flat out in top gear, which requires some serious leaning to stay on the apex. This is called fun. But then I looked at a second picture…

…and thought: “Flipping heck, there isn’t a whole bunch of room for error! Maybe flat out in top isn’t a good idea – even on a diddy bike like mine: a rider could travel quite a distance through the air at 60 mph.” So, dear reader, you can rest easy in the knowledge that, from now on, the world’s pre-eminent author of earplug stories will take it a little easier. If a bigger bike passes me, I’ll just let it go. Aah…such maturity.

Photography: Seeing What Isn’t There (again)

As I wandered along a late afternoon English backlane, with the lowering Sun on my back, a Range Rover pushed past me – it’s large wheels splashing through some puddles that had formed amongst piles of gravel that had been carried downhill by Winter’s rainfall. I paused to take a few photos of the result. This is one of them…

Muddy water: Bubbles: Shadows: Gravel

Do you see the possibilities? This is what I saw…

The night sky in the mountains perhaps?

But with possible future Earplug Adventures in mind, I thought that perhaps one adventure might take place upon a most inhospitable world. So…

Wonderful things – puddles: where would alternative reality world-builders be without them?

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?

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…