That feeling you get after you’ve spent half an hour editing the first few minutes of an audiobook file you recorded four days ago only to then hear your own voice on the recording say “Yeah, I kinda want to do this thing all over again” followed by sounds of coffee drinking, the humming of a solid note for several seconds designed to visually mark the recording to signal your future self as to where to begin the edit, and then your own voice starting the story anew.
It’s only due by Friday.
With my latest audiobook narration Mississippi Nights freshly released, I want to draw your attention to a future release coming later this summer.
I am currently recording the narration for the audiobook of How to Carry Bigfoot Home, by Chris Tarry. I can safely report at this point that the stories within are just as impressive, funny, heart-breaking, and poignant as you would hope for a collection with a title like that.
Which is to say, it’s fantastic and I highly recommend it. The style of the stories varies greatly between each, but Tarry always has a clever turn of phrase, with equal parts comedy and tragedy, often within the same story.
It has also been one of the more challenging audiobooks I’ve recorded, as I’ve had to learn how to approximate a few different accents that I’ve never attempted before (Newfoundland Irish, for instance.) My hope is that they will be true to the emotions of the characters at all times, slavishly accurate secondarily, but I’m aiming for both.
From my office upstairs, I heard a cry of anguish from an animal downstairs. I knew instantly it was not any of our crew of dogs and cats. Tragically, the cry of anguish I had heard was the chirpy squeak of a baby bunny.
This is, unfortunately, not an unfamiliar sound in the Fritzius household. Our cats have a cat door and are quite fond of bringing live animals, such as mice, and chipmunks, and squirrels, and baby bunnies into the house through it. Especially baby bunnies. I don’t know why they bother, because in 100 percent of cases so far, our dogs immediately take the baby bunnies away from the cats and then cheerfully devour them. Oh, we try our best to stop it. We scream “Leave it! Leave it! Leave it!” followed by “Drop it! Drop it! Drop it!” followed by “Eww, God, noooooo! Just… just take it outside! Outside!!!” It’s a grisly business. The cats refuse to learn their lesson.
Hearing the anguished squeak downstairs, I cursed at the inevitable devouring that was about to befall the owner of the squeak, but I went out to see what little I could do about it anyway. From the landing, I could see the doomed baby bunny on the downstairs floor below. It had escaped from D.J. Kitty—the usual feline responsible for bringing bunnies in—who remained nearby, awaiting the chaos. The bunny didn’t seem to be grievously injured, though, which was a plus in the bunny column. Then it scurried across the floor and then over behind our entertainment center, where it was spotted by our middle-child dog Moose. This put a very big minus in the bunny column, `cause Moose loves him a baby bunny. He zipped after it. What Moose failed to notice in his haste, but which I could see from my perch above the living room, was that the rabbit was no longer behind the entertainment center. It had dodged beneath a low shelf and then moved swiftly along the baseboard of the back wall, passing the closed back door, across the rest of the room, and had then disappeared between the wall and the arm of a piece of furniture we call “the dog couch.” (The “dog couch” is so named because it’s a ratty old sofa tucked in the corner, primarily used by the dogs, and not to be confused with the “good sofa” which we reserve for ourselves and also often the dogs.)
I sighed and trudged downstairs to begin the no doubt futile process of trying to catch this stinking rabbit. I crept in the direction of the dog couch so as not to draw Moose’s attention to the bunny’s hiding place. Moose was still behind the entertainment center and had been joined by our other two dog-children to form a bunny search party, sniffing everything and no doubt stepping on all my stereo wires. Meanwhile, our other cat, Fatty Lumpkin, was dimly investigating the end of the dog couch where the bunny was hiding. He knew something was there, but wasn’t all that excited about it, owing to his being a remarkably dumb animal. As Fatty approached the end of the couch, the bunny popped suddenly out of his hiding place right in front of him. This startled Fatty, who turned and fled the room. Fatty’s flight, in turn, startled the bunny, who ran back behind the dog couch. Great.
I stepped over and cracked open the back door, creating an escape route opened in the direction of the bunny’s hiding place. I then slipped over and began rattling the strings of the Venetian blinds that hung down behind the arm of the dog couch in the hope of stirring the bunny. Yep. He popped back out into the open and toward the back door. He then completely avoided safety and escape by hopping past the open back door and deeper into the living room. In fact, he hopped in the very direction of the dogs, who were still looking for him behind the TV. I was pretty sure I was about to witness natural selection in action. However, the bunny then scurried on past the oblivious dogs, past the “good” couch and over to the still closed front door where he cornered himself at the juncture of the door frame and the adjacent wall.
I walked toward him as calmly as I could. As I neared the tile in front of the door, I bent over and grabbed up the soft green rag carpet we keep there and tossed it into the air in the bunny’s direction just as he bolted. He didn’t get far. The carpet landed right in his path on the far side of our coat rack and he dove beneath its folds. I stooped over and gently wrapped the carpet up, creating a bunny burrito, which I then took outside, closing the door behind me. I prayed that the dogs had not noticed any of that. Or, if they did, that they would then not remember the back door was still open. It usually takes them less then five seconds to round the house when they’re motivated by the sweet taste of baby bunnies.
Hearing no thundering canine approach, I deposited our guest onto the patio. He looked dazed for a moment, but hopped off into the night without so much as a thank you. I watched him go, content in the knowledge that we finally helped score one for the bunnies.
Not that the dogs noticed. They kept searching for him behind the TV for another five minutes.
(An ongoing writing project in which I catalog and quantify my extensive TARDIS collection.)
There are a few white whales out there in terms of TARDISes that are not in my TARDIS collection. Some of these, such as either of the hand-made polystone TARDIS “diorama” models by Big Chief Studios, are pretty damn pale in terms of white whales. They seem like gigantic, 20″ high versions of my beloved Electronic Flight Control TARDIS, complete with lights and sound, but with a huge boost in quality. And as much as I would love one, the reason I’ve not bought one is because they are just stupid expensive even at base retail price, going for between $250 and $400 depending on the retailer. I buy one of those and my wife will probably see it as grounds for divorce.
However, there are other TARDIS models and toys that were well below the Big Studios threshold when they were first offered for sale, but which, once out-of-stock, became rare and saw their price triple. One such specimen is the TARDIS Special Edition Figurine released by the Eaglemoss model company.
For those not in the know, Eaglemoss is a company that specializes in spaceship models and sculpted figurines of pop culture characters, usually cast in metal. They have figurine lines for Star Trek, DC Comics, Marvel Comics, The Walking Dead, and others, but have spent most of the last decade producing a line of Doctor Who figurines as well. And the fact that I don’t own any of the figurines from this line is pretty much down to marriage preservation, too, for each of the Doctors originally retail for $17.95, making a 12 Doctor set cost-prohibitive unless purchased in the $35 four-pack sets, and even then… really?
Eaglemoss made a TARDIS, though, which is a white whale that’s been singing a siren call to me for several years. It originally retailed for $35, which seemed not unreasonable to me. Trouble was, shipping was another $15 on top of that, which I could not justify. Of course, they usually offer free shipping on orders of $60 or more, but that meant having to buy two of them, or finding some other stuff to order with it and before you know it I had well over $100 of stuff in my cart when all I really wanted was one stinkin’ TARDIS and I’d get fed up and walk away. After, let’s say, two years of doing this, the Eaglemoss TARDIS went out-of-stock. And even though they have a little box where you can leave your email in case they re-stock, they are not known for actually re-stocking what was the whole time intended to be an individually numbered limited print run, so that’s not happening. I soon began seeing my former $45 TARDIS for sale on eBay for upwards of $100. And when it was anywhere under $50, it was always a seller in England and they tacked on another $40 for shipping to the U.S.–which was never gonna happen on my watch. I sadly resolved myself to the likelihood that the Eaglemoss TARDIS, much like the Electronic 4th Doctor TARDIS set from 2010, was a whale that had slipped my clutches, escaping into the vast sea of prohibitively priced merchandise. I mean, it didn’t stop me from setting up a saved search for it, though, since you never could tell when one might find an auction for one at a reasonable price point. This never seemed to happen, though.
Then, last month, something even more unlikely than a cheap auction happened. I received an email ebay search report that someone had posted a new listing for an Eaglemoss TARDIS for $25 and with free shipping and it was BUY IT NOW!!!! And I happened to be looking at gmail on my phone when the listing hit, so I couldn’t load my eBay app fast enough. The whole time, though, I kept thinking that there must be something wrong with it for it to be listed for such a low price. Surely it had been dropped, or gnawed by a dog at the least to go for only $25. The listing indicated nothing of the sort, though, so I fired my whale spear and it struck home in white TARDIS flesh. (This metaphor is really getting strange.)
A few days later, my new Eaglemoss TARDIS arrived and was something of a surprise, mainly because it was three times bigger than I expected it to be. The Eaglemoss figurines I’ve seen and owned are around three inches in height, so I assumed somehow that the TARDIS would be as well. Nope. It’s to scale with the Doctor figurines, so it’s a full five inches from the base to the bottom of the roof lamp. The other surprise was the material it was made of. While I don’t own any other Doctor Who Eaglemoss figurines, I do own a Starman and an Ambush Bug from the DC line; they’re both cast from metal, so I expected the TARDIS would be metal as well (hence the huge shipping costs for most folks). The TARDIS, however, is cast with some sort of resin. I imagine a TARDIS of this size cast in pewter would probably weight at least five pounds, so it’s probably for the best. I’d say this thing is still a solid 2 pounds.
As far as TARDISes go, it’s mostly decent. The sculpting is nice, though there is no wood grain, but I’m okay with that. Where it kind of misses the mark for me is in the detail work of the painting. The windows are especially sloppy, with the gray paint of the frames occasionally splashing up onto the blue of the exterior TARDIS walls or onto the white of the “glass” panes. It looks like it was painted by a fairly skilled 10-year-old. The sloppiness extends to the painting of the roof lamp. Also, the decal for the door sign was applied skewed to the left side of the phone-cabinet instead of centered properly. Again, it looks like a skilled 10-year-old might have done it, so, again, I’m going to blame child labor.
Despite these complaints, though, it’s still a nice piece that I’m proud to have in my collection. And a white whale hunted and killed and flensed and turned into 19th century lamp oil. I give it 3.5 TARDI.
(An ongoing writing project in which I catalog and quantify my extensive TARDIS collection.)
This is Funko POP! Vinyl’s version of a TARDIS keychain. It’s meant to be a miniature version of their TARDIS POP! Vinyl Toy, albeit one without working doors. (Or, rather, door, but that’s a complaint for the future.) For those unfamiliar with the plague that is Funko POP! Vinyl, the toys are primarily figurines of pop culture characters with disproportionately large heads and black circles for eyes. The figures are usually about four inches in height, but Funko made a series of keychain models that shrunk them down to around an inch and the TARDIS is just a smidge over that (unlike the larger toy version, which is nearly half again as tall as the figures).
I call POP! Vinyl figures a plague because, while I own around ten of them myself (of the Doctor Who, MST3k, and Portal 2 varieties) I don’t give the ass of a flying monkey about 90 percent of their output and kind of resent the fact that there are now layers of them under foot in all nerd/videogame/movie/music stores, where they glut entire walls. I weep for our landfills.
Like all the other TARDIS keychains, I ditched its chain as soon as I was able to. It’s super-blocky size would make it inconveniently large to use as a keychain, though I must note that Funko’s choice of a rubbery plastic for the production would lend itself to durability. (At least for the TARDIS, as most people I know who have bought and used any of the figure-model keychains quickly find they have nothing left but decapitated character heads dangling from their keys after the bodies snap off.)
Much like its larger counterpart, there’s not a lot of detail on this thing. But that’s the POP! Vinyl aesthetic to start with, so one cannot complain about the lack of woodgrain or the fact that it’s super chunky. (It’s so chunky, in fact, that I’m not sure it would actually fit very far into a standard shot glass.) I t’s fine. I’ll give it a full four TARDi and save the tale of the larger model for another time.
(An ongoing writing project in which I catalog and quantify my extensive TARDIS collection.)
CONTINUING THE TALE FROM PART 1 and PART 2…
Underground Toys, thankfully, wasn’t done with their 5.5″ line, but they also weren’t done making frustrating choices with it.
Oh, sure, they still put out some classic ’80s figures in that scale, such as new versions of the 8th Doctor and the War Doctor, to reflect their appearance in Night of the Doctor and Day of the Doctor. And after Peter Capaldi was cast as the 12th Doctor, they quickly released a 5.5″ figure for him. Except, it wasn’t Peter Capaldi in his actual Doctor Who costume (the black coat with red-lining and all), but was instead the post-regeneration Capaldi wearing Matt Smith’s final, pre-regeneration, purple-coated costume from the Name of the Doctor Christmas Special. It still looked great, cause the purple coat was a look that worked well, but it was still very annoying since it wasn’t Capaldi’s official costume. This meant that folks like me who had previously bought the 11 Doctors figure set, and who have them on display on a shelf by their desk, could not really add the 12th in there cause he just didn’t look right. Or, we could add the 3.75″ Capaldi figure in the proper costume and have him out-of-scale from all the others. However, for quite some time, these were the only Peter Capaldi figures to choose from.
Around that time, 2015 or so, I began paying attention to a Facebook page called Save Doctor Who 5 Inch Figures in the hope for word on an eventual properly costumed Capaldi who could join the ranks on my shelf. The site had, in fact, floated a rumor that such a fig was in the works. And this page was also where I first heard Underground Toys/Character Options were working on a 12th Doctor Flight Control TARDIS for the 5.5″ scale line. Supposedly, the rumor went, the new TARDIS would not only be in a truer blue to the new TARDIS prop, but would also be returning all of the functionality of my beloved 10th Doctor TARDIS with one major change–it would come with a lighted door sign. Turns out these rumors were all true.
On the thorny topic of the lighted door sign…
See somewhere during Matt Smith’s run (I think it was during The Doctor, The Widow and The Wardrobe that I first noticed it) the TARDIS developed a light up door sign. And by door sign, I mean the instructional sign on the left hand door, which actually serves as a smaller cabinet door behind which is the direct-to-police telephone unit which puts the “call” in “call box.” The text of the sign begins “Police Telephone Free For Use of Public…” and ends with “PULL TO OPEN.” For some half-assed reason–I expect just cause it looks sort of cool–the TARDIS on the show began backlighting that sign, as if it were made from semi-transparent plastic. It wasn’t lit all the time, but in most night shots they turned it on. And, y’know, the TARDIS can do what it wants, I guess, but I just never saw the logic of it. Certainly the original police call boxes which inspired the look of the TARDIS never had this feature. While I was and remain critical of the addition, at the exact same time, I have to sort of admit that it did look pretty cool in those night shots. It just helped make the TARDIS read as being more TARDISy on a graphic-design level. You could instantly recognize it from its silhouette, lighted windows, above door signage and now stupid door sign, and didn’t require the entire front be lit from any separate light source. A toy that did the same thing, I supposed, would be interesting, even if I still thought it was essentially of questionable worth. It would also mean that such a TARDIS toy would be the most functional TARDIS yet.
Low and behold the rumored figures and TARDIS were released and–shockingly I know–I bought `em.
And this is where Underground Toys’ continued making of frustrating choices comes back into play. Cause the thing is… while I am delighted that they were kind enough to produce another TARDIS and restore the features of the 10th Doctor’s Flight Control TARDIS, the end results did not quite match up to the wondrous thing that existed in my head. (Again, I’m ruled by my inner 4th grader who had vivid dreams.)
Yes, all the light and sound functions of the 10th’s TARDIS were restored, as well as the addition of the dumb/cool door sign. But–and this is pure speculation on my part–Underground Toys was probably able to afford to do all this by skimping in other areas to make up the cost. My theory, based solely of the evidence of the thing itself, is that they wound up skimping on the quality of the plastic used in its construction.
Like the Tennant TARDIS, the Capaldi TARDIS has lights inside that illuminate the windows, the interior area, and the Police signs above each wall. But the plastic for the roof and doors is so thin that you can completely see the light bleeding through it from within (as illustrated in the image at right). Even in daylight conditions, this bleed can be seen all along the edge where the doors meet. This might have been better concealed with a layer of paint, but this model (unlike the 10th’s) is unpainted. Now this unpaintedness is nothing new, as the blue sections of all subsequent models were also unpainted. It’s just that this time it hurts the overall design. I’m of half a mind to add a coat of blue myself to see if it helps.
The other irritating thing, which was not true of the Tennant model, is that the windows themselves, when illuminated from within, allow something of a view of the inner workings of the toy behind the curve of the screened interior card. The Tennant model’s windows were more opaque while the new Capaldi TARDIS has relatively clear windows. Through them, you can clearly see the back of the interior card itself and even the backs of adjacent windows. The other difference that affects this is that the light on the interior underside of the roof is a good deal brighter than that of the Tennant TARDIS, possibly so that it will be able to illuminate not only the windows and CALL BOX signs, but the door sign as well. The roof lamp is also brighter and the light bleeds through the paint of its cap. Further adding to the frustrating nature of this toy, the plastic POLICE PUBLIC CALL BOX signs do not quite fit snugly within their frames, allowing light from within to bleed over the tops and bottoms of them.
As for the dumb door sign… it lights up. yay. But in doing so it has now lost its function as a cover for the phone. Not that I mind this so much, because the phones can make the left door difficult to open, depending on their design. But having a phone there was a key plot point during Capaldi’s first episode. Granted, it isn’t as if I was planning to recreate that moment, but it’s nice to have the option.
It’s a poor thing to complain about the flaws in something that is so basically cool. The 4th Grader in me would have LOOOOOOVED to have owned this. (He would also wonder why it is blue when the poor color of his 10 inch Zenith television had led him to believe it green for most of his school years, but that’s another story for another time, if I’ve not told it already.) It’s just that Underground Toys came SO close to getting it right. It pains me to do so, but I’m going to give this a 3.5 TARDI rating.
I look forward greatly to Jodie Whitaker’s run as the Doctor. The media shot that has been released of her costume and TARDIS gives me hope, because it returns the TARDIS to the dingy greeny blue of the ’70s and restores the dark, non-glowy door sign, yet keeps the illuminated call box signs and windows. Seems ripe for a toy that hearkens back to Tennant’s toy in many respects.