Author Archive: Eric Fritzius

Owner/operator of Mister Herman's Publishing Company and Mister Herman's Production Company, Ltd. Author of A Consternation of Monsters, available in print, ebook, and audiobook formats.

A Celebration of Theatre MSU and Directing for Stage Class Play Festivals, 1995-2024.

I graduated in 1996 from Mississippi State University. While I was there, I did a good bit of theatre. While my major was Communications Journalism, for a while I was aiming for a minor in theatre. I pretty much had enough credits for it too, except for the fact that the required scene shop class was only taught during my daily air-shift at the college radio station, and I wasn’t about to give that up. Still, I took nearly every other theatre class available, and in 1995 took a class in directing for the stage. The instructor for the class, Dr. Jeffery Elwell, was also my advisor, and he’d asked me to take the class since it was on the edge of not having enough students to allow it to be taught. I signed right up.

The goal of the directing class was to not only for each student to learn how to direct for the stage, but also for each of us to direct a 10 minute play that would be part of a festival of short plays at the end of the class’s run. Students in the class would serve as tech for the festival, and fill in roles in each others plays that weren’t cast with outside students who had auditioned.

(Funny side story: A few weeks into the class’s run, Dr. Elwell began divvying up the various tech and producing responsibilities for the play festival. He assigned one of us to be a costumer, another to sound, another to lighting. And despite the fact that the assistant to the scene shop instructor was one of the directors in our class, he assigned me to be responsible for any construction or set-building that might be necessary.

“Uh, I don’t know how to do that,” I said.

“What do you mean you don’t know how to do that?” he asked.

“I mean, I’ve never taken the scene shop class. I wouldn’t know how to build a flat, a platform, or anything, really.”

Dr. Jeffery Elwell fixed me with a stern gaze and said, “Eric, the scene shop class is a pre-requisite for taking THIS class.”

I allowed a satisfying pause, then said, “Jeff… you’re my advisor.”

Dr. Elwell blinked at this, then reassigned me to running lights for a couple of the shows. (I didn’t know how to hang lights either, but didn’t need to to run the light board.)

The play I chose to direct was called “Wild Sweet William” by Indiana playwright Madge Dishman. It was a touching and funny story about dementia and how it changes family dynamics. The title character, William, has Alzheimer’s and his wife frequently bakes him birthday cakes, regardless of the time of year, simply because they’re a happy memory for him. At that point, none of my relatives had gone through anything similar, but for some reason I was drawn to that play. Now I’ve had more than a handful of relatives and in-laws who have suffered the condition, so maybe I knew something even then. As directors, we had to contact the playwrights to get their permission and arrange any royalty payments they required. Mrs. Dishman did me the solid of not charging me her usual rate, since this was a college production.

The play turned out pretty great, even for my first directing effort. It starred William Watkins (a friend from drama camp who I knew could play a 70 year old man with ease), Melanie Hintz (a fellow Theatre MSU actor who also did aged characters well), and Julie Rathwell (who was one of my sister’s good friends, and also Canadian, so I we had to train her to stop saying “aboot” and “eh” so much). My step-mother, Myra, a former theatre professional, even helped me with props by baking three birthday cakes, provided I iced them. It was a great learning experience all around and was the first of many shows I would go on to direct in the years since.

(Incidentally, I had one of my all time worst theatrical moments as part of that festival, but it was unrelated to the play I directed. I was asked to act in a play by Dr. Jeffery Elwell himself–the title of which eludes me. It was a good play–he’s a great playwright–but our director whose name I don’t want to mention, but it was Ryan Lamar, proved a bit fickle during rehearsals in that he very often didn’t show up for them. We dutifully memorized our lines, but figured the show would just be cancelled and Ryan given an incomplete. Instead, he decided to soldier on, so most of the directing of the show happened during dress-rehearsals. One key element of the play that was missing until opening night, however, was a camera tripod on which was to be strapped a film camera rigged to a pistol. The plot involved a crime scene photographer who decides to kill himself with said rig, so that the camera will take his last photograph as the gun goes off, presumably capturing it. Uplifting, no? But we never had the tripod or camera or gun to rehearse with, and I was the actor who was assigned to come out in the dark and set it up for the scene. On opening night, Ryan brought me, not a tri-pod, but a monopod atop which was the camera and gun. A monopod, for those who don’t know photography equipment, is just a stick with a screw hole on the top. A stick. Meant to be held in place by a photographer, not to be a free-standing entity on its own. Ryan then handed me a strip of duct tape and told me that, near the end of the play, I would need to go out in the blackout before the gun scene, strap this monopod to the leg of a desk using the duct tape, and be sure to point it in the correct direction, or the play would be ruined. No pressure, right? And no rehearsal. My first time doing it was during opening night. And it didn’t work at all. Even a little bit. I went out in the dark, bent down beside the desk, tried to strap the monopod to its leg, but the duct tape wound up folding over on itself, creating a decidedly non-sticky strip of half-width tape that could be affixed to nothing. There I sat, on the floor of the pitch black lab theatre, trying to figure out what to do next. I could just sit and hold it there, and they could bring up the lights, but I had no way to silently signal the lighting person to do so. At least a minute went by in this fashion, with me trying and retrying to unstick the tape with no success. My ultimate solution, which did work, was to use the long strip of non-sticky tape as a rope which I wrapped around the leg of the desk and tied in a knot, holding the monopod in place. I exited the stage, the lights came up and fortunately the camera and gun were facing the correct direction. Now, shit goes sideways in theatre all the time, and the show must go on, so I did the job I needed to do. But to say I was livid about it doesn’t really capture my fury at being forced into this unrehearsed scenario by our less-than-frequently-present director. I let him have it afterward and told him in no uncertain terms that he would have a monopod for the second performance, because this was some bullshit. Second night out? Monopod and tape, once again. Instead of throwing the fit I wanted to, though, I just pulled up my big boy pants and made sure the tape did not fold over on itself when I went back out in the dark. We got it done. I did get a bit of revenge on Ryan, but unfortunately it was accidental. During the play HE was acting in, which fell directly after Wild Sweet William, his character is supposed to enter the room of the apartment he once shared with an ex-wife to discover she’d taken everything including the light bulbs. I was the guy in charge of removing the light bulb from the light fixture we had hanging above the stage area and I forgot to do it on the second night, leaving Ryan to stare up at a perfectly visible bulb, saying “She even took the… oh… no. I guess she left the light bulb.” I only wish I’d done it on purpose, but if Ryan ever reads this, I promise I did not.)

Jump ahead to 2024…

My buddy Joe Evans (who I did a few shows with in those college years) is taking MSU’s Directing for Stage class–I guess for poops and giggles, since I’m pretty sure he’s directed more plays than me already. He asked if I could send him some of my 10 minute plays for consideration of the students. I told him that not only would I send them, but in honor of Madge Dishman, I would not charge any royalties on them. I figured they might pick one or two. Instead, out of the 11 or 12 plays they chose, FIVE of them are mine. It’s practically a Fritzius Festival. Certainly the most of my plays I’ve had in a festival at once.

These will include my short plays, “Job Jar,” “A Tragedy at Ellis Island of Great Personal Significance and Historical Inaccuracy: 1907” (in its premiere production), “Flying Lessons over lunch, with Saint Joseph Cooper Tina” (also in its premiere production), “A Game of Twenty…” and “Aye Do”. It should be noted that Joe Evans is directing “A Game of Twenty…” And “Aye Do” is being directed by David Hintz, who is the youngest son of Melanie Hintz–the same Melanie Hintz who acted in “Wild Sweet William,” the first show I directed nigh on 30 years ago. This fact staggered me more than anything, and yet it took a while for me to even realize it. Like… weeks.

So if you happen to be in the Starkville, Mississippi, area on Monday, April 29 and Wednesday May 1, the directing class play festival will start at 5p, on the McComas Hall main stage, on the campus of MSU. Theatre MSU is also celebrating it’s 60th anniversary this weekend as well, with a production of the musical Pippin.

I’ve even heard a rumor that I might show up. (It’s a rumor I started, so I’m pretty sure it’s true. But, I mean, how could I miss out on my plays being performed on the McComas Hall stage, produced by the very directing class in which I directed my own first show?

Horror 101 with Dr. AC Phantasm Panel (featuring me)

This weekend marks the 45th anniversary of the debut of one of my all time favorite horror movies, Phantasm. I was honored to be asked to be one of the talking heads on a Phantasm panel discussion, courtesy of the Horror 101 with Dr. AC Youtube channel. We cover not only the original Phantasm, but the other four entries in the series as well. Check it out.

You can also subscribe to the audio only version in podcast form via Spotify and all other podcatcher apps.

Sightings and Appearances

The Lewisburg Literary Festival is this coming weekend (Aug 4-5) and I will be appearing in the Literary Town Square (Greenbrier CVB) along with several fellow former students of writer Belinda Anderson at a special Belinda’s Kids table.

I will also have the honor of interviewing Kentucky Poet Laureate Silas House on the main stage of Carnegie Hall WV at 3p.

Tickets for all events are free, but you do have to sign up in advance. Find out details at https://www.lewisburgliteraryfestival.com.

The Brave Knight (audiobook)

The Brave KnightMy latest audiobook collaboration, The Brave Knight, by writer Diane Tarantini and illustrator Jessie Haring, has just been published via Audible and Amazon. The book is an important children’s story that aids parents to introduce heavy topics, such as bullying and abuse, to their children in an engaging and uplifting way. I’m proud to have lent my voice to it, as well as to be able to work directly with Diane on it, who was able to voice her own main character for the book.

Find it at Audible.com and Amazon.com.

Have Cipro Will Fix Links

As detailed in a recent entry Website Repairs and Podcast Reduxes, I’ve experienced a few bugs round this here website due entirely to my own devices. Discovered yet another one last night. My Medical Mission Blog from 2005 was almost entirely inaccessible due to the whole MrHerman.com/MisterHerman.com link issue. The pages were all still there, but no one could see them because the landing page for the blog itself linked to the wrong address. I’ve gone in and fixed them, as well as the photo links within.

Our adventures from Have Cipro Will Travel are once again available for reading.

REPOST: The Talkin’, Iiiiiii’m offended, If that IS your Real Name, End of an Era, Friiiiiitz Call Blues

(In honor of a reading of this story at the 2022 West Virginia Writers Conference this weekend, here’s a reposting of this Horribly True Tale.)

When I worked as a morning drive radio DJ, back in the `’`90s, frequently we would get calls from people who wished to complain about something they heard on the radio which had offended them.  Trouble was, with few exceptions, the thing they heard that had offended them had been said by an on-air personality on a completely different radio station than the one I was employed by.  Yep, whenever John Boy and Billy said something saucier than most decent folks cared for, the offended of Northeast Mississippi had no other recourse than to open the phone book, pick a radio station at random, and call me up to give me a lecture about something I had not even said.  We called these “Iiiiiii’m offended” calls.

For the past 15 years, my wife and I have experienced a different version of this sort of behavior in what we’ve come to refer to as the “Friiiiiitz” calls.  Somewhere around 2006, at approximately 3 a.m., our land line rang, waking us up.  Since 3 a.m. is outside the normal hours of telephone conversations, we naturally expected the call to be from a relative bearing tragic news.  I braced myself for the worst as I answered the phone.

ME—Hello?

(noise…  noise… labored breathing)

ME— Hello?

FEMALE CALLER— Friiiiitz?

ME— I’m sorry, what?

CALLER— Is this Friiiiitz?

ME— Um, this is Eric Fritzius.

(labored breathing)

CALLER— Is this Friiitz… from Fritz’s Pharmacy?

ME— No, I’m afraid it’s not.  My name is Eric Fritzius.

(noise… noise… labored breathing)

CALLER— You’re not Friiitz?

ME— No. 

(noise… noise… labored breathing)

CALLER— Do you have… Fritz’s number?

ME— No.  I’m sorry, I don’t.

(labored breathing)

CALLER— I need… to call Fritz.  I’m having…  an emergency.

ME— Um…   (Looks to wife, who, at the time, was a medical resident)  She says she’s having an emergency.

WIFE—Tell her to call 911 or go to the ER.

ME— Ma’am.  I’m sorry, but if you’re having a medical emergency, you need to call 911 or go to the emergency room.

(noise… noise… labored breathing)

CALLER— I caiiint dooo thaaaat.

(click)

That was the first of at least a dozen such hour-of-the-wolf “Friiiiitz” calls we have since received.  I’m pretty sure the same lady has called us many of those times, but other folks have as well.  Folks who are experiencing what they have deemed a medical emergency; folks who then decided to phone up not their doctor or otherwise an emergency medical professional, but instead their pharmacist, Fritz, because that makes a metric ton of sense; folks who then opened their white pages to F, at 3 a.m., located a last name that shares five letters with the name Fritz—which, it should be noted, is not actually Fritz’s last name to begin with, as “Fritz” is a nickname he uses in place of his first name—and then these folks blindly phone said number in the assumption that they’ll reach their target. Because all Fritzes know one another, I guess?  The “Friiiiiitz” calls pretty much all follow the same script as above.  And every time—every single time—no matter if it’s the original lady caller or someone new, when told we are not the Fritz they’re looking for, these folks ask if we know Fritz’s number. 

No, we most certainly do not have Fritz’s number.

We have gone out of our way not to have Fritz’s number and have never even checked to see if it’s actually listed. Our reason is because if we were to look it up then we would have Fritz’s number, and the fact that we would still not be willing to give out someone else’s home number, at 3 a.m., to people who should be calling 911 to begin with, would mean we were willingly withholding said information, implicating us in their death should they pass from the medical emergency they refuse to call the proper medical assistance to assist with.  Instead, we have always been polite when such calls come in, but we always advise the callers that in medical emergencies the only number they need to phone is, in point of fact, 911.  And, frequently, they have issued the declaration of “I caiiint dooo thaaaat,” but have so far never elaborated as to why. 

In 2008, we moved, relocating from Greenbrier County to Mercer County.  There are no Fritz’s Pharmacy locations in Mercer County, though, so our “Friiiiiitz” calls came to an end.

In 2012, we moved back to Greenbrier County, got a brand new land line phone number, listed it in the white pages, and within three months of our return, right on time at 3 a.m., the phone rang.

ME— Hello?

(noise…  noise… labored breathing)

FEMALE CALLER— Friiiiitz?

ME— No.  This is not Fritz.  This is the Fritzius residence.  We are not related to Fritz. 

(3… 2… 1…)

CALLER— Do you have Fritz’s number?

ME— No. We do not have Fritz’s number. Again, we are not related to Fritz. Our name only shares five letters with his name.

(Okay, we’re not ALWAYS polite.)

CALLER— I need to call Fritz.  I’m having an emergency.

ME— Then you need to call 911 or go to the emergency room.

(3… 2… 1…)

CALLER— I caaaiiint do thaaaat.

(click)

We’ve had a few more “Friiiiiitz” calls in the years since, some during actual daylight hours as well, most from folks other than the usual lady. However ,they’ve not been coming in at the same volume as our earlier stint in the county.

While writing this, and after 15 years of steadfastly avoiding the attempt, I finally looked up Fritz’s home number.  It’s been right there in the phone book the whole time, it seems, but the callers wouldn’t have been able to determine which number was his even if they had known his actual last name, because “Fritz”  was smart enough not to have his phone number listed under his nickname either.  Instead “Fritz” used his actual first name, which also starts with F but is also not Fritz.  In other words, the real Fritz doesn’t want these calls any more than us Fake Shemp Fritzes do. 

Alas/Huzzah, the days of the 3 a.m. Friiiiitz calls are probably at an end.  Fritz recently sold his chain of pharmacies to CVS and will no longer be dispensing meds under that name.  And I am astounded and just a little disappointed that we’ve not received even one “Friiiiitz” call due to this transition.

TARDIS Collector’s Corner: Bif Bang Pow! Classic Series Bobble Head TARDIS (The Bobble Head TARDISes Part II)

Another of the rare bobble head TARDISes that I own, this is the classic series bobblehead TARDIS manufactured by Biff Bang Pow! Once again, I was drawn to buy this mainly because, not being a humanoid figure, it didn’t have an oversized head to bobble but simply bobbled as a whole, and because it was a respectable likeness of a classic flat-roofed early Tom Baker TARDIS or maybe a late Pertwee model.

Analyzing it, this bobble head overall is a bit of a mish mash of Pertwee and Baker elements. The TARDIS itself could go either way. The flatness of the roof matches Baker’s more closely, but the roof lamp design is more like the taller skinner lamp Pertwee’s TARDIS had in “The Time Warrior.” (Pertwee’s often had the fatter lamp, carrying over from Troughton’s era.) The lighter greyish blue paint job is also better suited to Pertwee’s era, as Baker’s tended to be a more greenish hued darker blue. The Doctor Who logo on the front is a bigger giveaway, being the official 3rd Doctor logo used from seasons 7-10. (And again for the TV movie.) However, if you look beneath the TARDIS itself, on the top of the base, there is the image of the time tunnel from Tom Baker’s early years. Granted, this was also used during Pertwee’s final season, so it could still be his, but the logo changed during that season as well, becoming the diamond logo we associate with Baker’s run. (My favorite logo, truth be told.)

Where this bobble head distinguishes itself is that there’s a button on top of the base, just below the front doors, that plays the classic Pertwee/Baker theme music.

The whole thing is cast in hard resin, which makes it feel a bit fragile somehow, but I’ve not had any actual problems with breakage. I just know that of my many TARDISes, this is one of the ones I wouldn’t want to drop even on carpet.

All in all, I like it well enough. It’s a good representation of a TARDIS from my favorite era of the show and it plays the proper theme. Gotta give it four TARDi.

TARDIS Collector’s Corner: the Half-Assed Disappointment Lootcrate Paper TARDIS model (Paper TARDIS series)

I like the idea of paper TARDISes–printed paper kits that can be cut out and assembled into a model of the TARDIS. In my time collecting TARDISes, I have purchased four such TARDIS model kits. I have, however, only attempted to assemble one of them thus far and it was such a disappointment that I have avoided the other three (two of which, truth be told, are really the exact same paper model that I accidentally purchased twice).

The half-assed disappointment Lootcrate model is kind of what it sounds like. It was a paper TARDIS included in a Lootcrate shipment which I purchased second hand off of eBay. It arrived as a single sheet with perforations allowing you to easily cut out the sections of the TARDIS model itself. The half-assed part is doubly so (which I think technically should make it full-assed, but I only used half my ass in constructing it and the Lootcrate folks only used half of theirs designing it, so, really, the separate half-assed applications can’t equal a whole).

Let me start with the good. It’s a simple enough TARDIS design, consisting of an elongated rectangular square for the body, a roof housing that tab/slot inserts, and a square tab/slot lamp. Shouldn’t be hard to put together, really. It is also designed to have doors that can be opened in the front, to reveal a cartoony Peter Capaldi scowling out from within. I thought that was pretty cool. However, I have kept my doors uncut simply because I’m not sure the structural integrity will hold if they were ever cut open.

The bad. While the simple print of the TARDIS has most of the standard TARDIS elements, including Police Public Call Box signage above each side, and the TARDIS door sign, there is some inattention to detail that can be found, leading me to suspect someone other than an actual fan of the show did the graphic design. For instance, if this is truly a Capaldi TARDIS, as the Capaldi inside would suggest, where is the St. John’s Ambulance badge on the right front door? Also, why are there door handles and door sign phone cabinet handles included on each and every side? It’s almost as if whoever did the graphic design only drew the one door, copied it three more times and slapped a door sign on one of them to establish which side is the front. And while we’re talking about which side is the front, why on earth would they have designed this so that the cut seam falls right beside the left of the front of the TARDIS rather than in the back corner where it wouldn’t be so apparent?

As to my own half-assedness, I admit that my assembly leaves something to be desired. I’m sure someone else could have put this thing together in a way that didn’t look quite so jankey. I mean, I could have taped down that front left cut seam and made that look at least a little better, if I’d wanted to. What I found, though, was that this was an assembly project that took a good bit longer to accomplish and with a greater level of difficulty than I had assumed it would, but I was only willing to put in the minimum amount to get it together, but not the amount it would take to make it look its best. That said, Lootcrate didn’t do anyone any favors in the design department, so I’m giving them the majority of the blame. If I hadn’t paid $10 for it, I would probably wad it up and pitch it at the recyle bin.

I give it a rare two TARDi rating. (Would have given it a one had I not thought the Capaldi behind the doors thing was kind of clever.)

TARDIS Collector’s Corner: TARDIS 3D printed Bird Feeder (the 3D printed TARDISes as well as the mother-in-law TARDISes)

I wrote a few weeks back about the Bird Feeder Model TARDIS, one of the many TARDISes my mother-in-law has given me over the years. It’s largely not even a display item anymore, unless by “display” you mean “sitting way up on a shelf in the garage,” due to the weather damage it received when I used it for its intended purpose as a bird feeder out in one of our flowerbeds.

I think Ma wasn’t happy that this wooden TARDIS she’d constructed hadn’t held up. She repeatedly gave me permission to throw it out, but I wouldn’t hear of it. However, she was none too keen on how the thing was put together in the first place, knowing there were ways she could have done it that didn’t involve the danger of having a hand impaled on one of the screw tips that stick out of the bottom.

Two weeks ago a package arrived in the mail. From the box it arrived in, it seemed to be a shipment from Chewy. And when the mail lady drove it up to us, staying well within the confines of her truck so as not to risk a nip from one of our dogs, and I came out to take it from her, I saw it was from Chewy and said about the dogs, “Ironically, it’s for them.”

Turned out, it wasn’t. I should have known as much when Ma said, “What have I ordered now?” Only when she opened it, she saw it was not something for the dogs but, instead, for the birds. And for me. Ma brought the box over to me and said, “This is actually for you.”

I peered inside, expecting some kind of insane dog toy. Wrapped up in bubble wrap and padding was a 3D printed TARDIS bird feeder. I was astounded. It was printed in TARDIS blue, was uniform on all sides, and had no decals or door sign, but I knew that would be easily remedied. In design, it was very similar to the TARDIS bird feeder she had made for me, with a removable roof into which bird seed could be poured, and slots at the bottom of each door for it to spill out from into a wider tray beneath. Instead of being dangerously screwed into that tray, though, the whole thing was 3D printed on top of the tray, as part of it. The major difference, beyond general shape, was that this bird feeder had a hanger threaded through a hold in the roof lamp which fed down through the housing itself to a ring in the base, allowing it to be hung.

The TARDIS design is a little off in some of the detailing, such as the corner columns being too thin and the windows being quartered instead of cut into two rows of six, but the door paneling is quite respectable. There’s no denying what it is on sight.

After doing some measuring, I printed up a customized door sign as well as some Police Public Call Box signage to go on each side of the roof. These I sealed between layers of packing tape then cut out and rubber cemented in place, figuring this would be a fairly easy way to keep them weather-proofed. For the roof lamp, I just rubber cemented both sides of a strip of paper and wound it around. I totally dig it. We filled it with seed and hung it in a tree by our patio.

Today, while eating breakfast on the patio, some larger birds came and began eating out of the TARDIS feeder. Whenever one of them would get full and fly away, the force of their departure would spin the TARDIS around on its string in a very satisfyingly TARDISy way.

If you would like one of your own, Ma found this one on Etsy.

TARDIS Collector’s Corner: Underground Toys/CO Pen Topper TARDIS (Shotglass TARDIS series)

(An ongoing writing project in which I catalog and quantify my extensive TARDIS collection. Find previous entries HERE.) 

Shortly into Matt Smith’s run as the Doctor, I noticed that Underground Toys/Character Options began an onslaught of new Doctor Who merchandise. Not to say that there wasn’t plenty to be found during Tennant’s run, but the output was definitely stepped up. One of these products which found its way into my possession was a TARDIS ballpoint pen, with a rubber TARDIS on one end.

Now, this was not really an item that attracted my attention, TARDIS or no. I’d seen them in Books-a-Million before, usually in a big plastic cylinder of the pens, up near the check-out counter where it could be an impulse purchase. I never had the impulse. However, a friend who knew of my affection for all things TARDISy did and bought one for me. I had to admit, it was cute.

For years my TARDIS pen has lived in various pen jars around the two houses we’ve lived in during that time. It would be used once in a while, but never for anything important, like writing anything on which your signature needed to look good, because it wasn’t that great a pen. I mean, it laid down a line of ink, and all, but one could not ascribe any aesthetically pleasing qualities to that line, or anything.

After 10 years or so, the pen stopped working altogether, and this was where my real plans for this item came to fruition. I yanked the TARDIS off the end of the useless pen. It came right out with no argument, the decade-old glue giving way quite easily. Having greed the TARDIS, I then had another miniature TARDIS to add to my shotglass TARDIS collection.

Is it a great TARDIS? No. It’s the TARDIS equivalent to the pen itself: it’s fine, it does it’s job of being a small TARDIS, but due to the limitations of the rubber material it’s molded from and the manufacturing process, it’s not especially detailed. I mean, the door sign is gray, which isn’t to spec at all. And you’d need a jeweler’s loop to be able to read any of the type on it, if it is legible in the first place–my old eyes can’t tell. But whatevs. It’s a shotglass TARDIS.

In terms of shotglass size, this is maybe the 4th smallest TARDIS in the collection, following the LED Phone Charm TARDIS, the Baker-model Keychain TARDIS, and the Hornby Scaledale model Railroad TARDIS. It is also one that is still easily locatable in the wild should you want one for your very own. Amazon is selling them for a mere $9.99. Is it worth $10? Not at all. But if you want a miniature fair-to-middling Matt Smith TARDIS with a pen rammed up it’s hinder, that’s where you can land one. I give it 2.5 TARDi.

TARDIS Collector’s Corner: The Hobby Lobby Model

A few years back, round about March of 2015, I spotted a very sad attempt at tapping the Doctor Who fan market while browsing in Hobby Lobby.

What Hobby Lobby did, which you can see in the accompanying image, was to repurpose a tea candle holder modeled after a red British phone box, paint it blue and slap a Police Public Call Box sign above it’s single door. Oh, I get it. I can sympathize. Someone on their merchandize creation staff was clearly enough of a Doctor Who fan to put this together. But it’s clearly just a cash grab, banking on Doctor Who fans snatching up anything even tenuously related to their favorite show. I said, “Nice try, Hobby Lobby, but you’re gonna have to try harder if you want any of my cash money.”

Well… they did.

A year later, I was walking through the same Hobby Lobby when I spied, on the shelf of their metal decorations section, their next attempt. My suspicion that someone in research and development was a fan of the show felt even stronger, because this metal TARDIS bank thing gets way too many details right to be merely a repurposed telephone booth. It’s actually a pretty sweet approximation of a Tom Baker era “Shada” model TARDIS, complete with greenish blue paint, the dark door sign, and the blue dome light on top. Someone knew their stuff and I was willing to bet that someone was about my age and adored Tom Baker’s run as much as I do.

I would have bought this TARDIS regardless, but the fact that Hobby Lobby happened to be having a 50 percent off sale on metal decorations, making it a $10 purchase, meant the sale was a lock.

It’s a high quality item, solidly built. Is it an exact replica of an on-screen TARDIS, no, but it doesn’t need to be. It’s an interpretation that knows its source material.

While they’re not an item one can rely upon finding in your average Hobby Lobby, I have seen them on and off over the years. Keep your eye out, cause it’s a good’un. Four and a half TARDi.

TARDIS Collector’s Corner: The George Bennett Model (Paper TARDISes Series)

(An ongoing writing project in which I catalog and quantify my excessi– uh, extensive TARDIS collection. Find previous entries HERE.) 

As I recently mentioned in the previous paper TARDIS entry, the Nick Bell Model), one of my formative experiences as a youth was to attend the Summer Scholars Onstage Theatre Camp at Mississippi State. It’s a theatre camp for gifted junior high and high school kids, who gather together, usually 50-55 of them total, write a three-act musical comedy in a week, and then perform that show at the end of the third week, complete with dance numbers, acting, costumes, sets, the whole bit. I was only a camper for two years, then came back as writing staff for a handful of years, took ten years off, returned to the writing staff, and eventually became the script coordinator for the writers camp for several years.

One thing we’ve learned in the nigh on 40 years of the camp’s existence is that, when wrangling 55 kids, keeping to a schedule is an important thing to do. It’s therefore always important to write out the schedule on a big long piece of paper for everyone to see. We usually assign the task of writing out said sched to creative and artistic souls who will not only supply the schedule for the following day, but make it look good too. One such soul during one such year was George Bennett. George was a camper himself during the early years of my return and he returned as staff for a number of years following his high school graduation. Whenever George was around, there was no question who would be doing the schedules.

In addition to being a talented comedic actor, George was a gifted artist even in those early years. He was able to dash off magic marker sketches that were annoyingly good for those of us who only wish we had his kind of talent and have to work so very hard to achieve anything presentable ourselves. George made it look effortless. He’d been doing the schedules since a junior counselor camper, but once he’d enrolled at the Savannah College of Art and Design, his schedules improved beyond the impressive level they’d already set.

The image at right, which I featured a couple of weeks ago in the TARDIS Cozy entry, contains one of George’s sketches–a quick doodle of Rod Serling in a TV set that I found charming and which I purloined at the end of camp. Our play’s theme that year was a pastiche of Twilight Zone style stories–hence the Serling appearance. However, time travel was also a factor in the plays, with it ultimately being revealed that Rod Serling himself was from the future and, due to some alterations to the timeline, Tales from Dimension 13 (the title of our play and the TV series within the play) transformed into The Twilight Zone. With time travel as a factor, though, it only made sense for George to sketch a random TARDIS in the corner of another day’s schedule in scented blue magic marker. As a lover of TARDISes, I couldn’t resist saving this one too, and it now resides among my TARDIS collection, as you can see in the photo. And one day, when George is famous, I shall sell it for a mint (though I might have to get him to sign it first).

Lest you think that George’s talent was limited to schedule pages alone, perish the thought. In the intervening years, he has gone on to become a professional illustrator and storyboard artist. These days, you can find him and his work at GeorgeBennettStoryArtist.com.

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