Alice Out (of the Basement) Tones by T. Foley

Don’tcha think it’s about time I shared some tones generated my own goshdarn self?


I’ve been working on a series of tones for a show I’m part of at Future Tenant called “Dividing the Goose,” a fairy-tale-themed exhibit curated by Lisa Toboz and Jeff Schreckengost that opens on Friday September 18th in downtown Pittsburgh. I’m producing a series of ringtone art cards for the show featuring photos of an Alice in Wonderland doll. Similar to the cards I produced for the World Pinball Championships and the July gallery crawl, they have codes printed on the backs so that folks can text message to have the specific tones sent directly to their phones.


The images of this Madam Alexander doll were taken in the summer of 2007, after rediscovering a mold-infested metal trunk in my basement that contained my childhood doll collection. Pulling Alice out, still strapped to her original packaging, I was overcome by memories of  the time I spent as a child, simply looking at her, trying very hard not play with her. My mother told me the doll was an expensive one—that the nicer I kept her, the more she would be worth when I grew up. Poor, poor, Alice, I thought, photographing her in morning light, you’ve suffered a terrible fate. Not one tea party, no adventure at all for you. Dear Alice, sometimes terrible things happen.


Some of these photos were published previously in a Flying Destructicate volume, New Visual Language, published by Encyclopedia Destructica and featuring the work Pittsburgh’s super-talented (and inspiring to many of us) Josh Tonies. The volume included Josh’s work but the 2007 Destructicate award from ED also empowered him as a curator–half of the volume consisted of work from other artists he selected for inclusion. I’m grateful to Josh for including me in New Visual Language, and I’m quite happy the Alice photos will see the light of day again.

Here’s the Alice Out Tone Series for Dividing the Goose:

Knocking Tone I thought a knocking ringtone would be hilarious. You know, your phone, knocking… For this tone I knocked on an old wood door and on a stainless steel surface.

Say, Say Oh Playmate Tone This tone was inspired by a song I’d sing when I was a little girl, “Say, Say, Oh, Playmate.” I don’t remember how I learned the song, it ended up in a video I made several years ago. The movie is called licence. I made it because my friend Jim Mueller introduced me to a blow up doll. She had eyes that opened and closed (just like the peeing baby dolls I had when I was little), so I felt impelled to give her the doll’s life she never had. In order to make that associative connection between the peeing babydoll and the adult sex doll, I asked my girlfriends if they’d call my answering machine and sing songs into the tape recorder. “Say, Say, Oh Playmate” was one of the songs (sung in the movie by Sera Swan if I recall correctly). For this tone, I quietly sang the lyrics from the childhood song, but I also did a little editing. I interrupted the final word of each lyrical line with the first word from the next phrase. If you listen carefully, you can hear me take breaths as I’m getting ready to sing the next phrase. That’s almost always a no-no in fancy singing (so my choir teachers always said), but I’ve left it in for associative purposes.


Oh! An earlier and super-creepy version of the tone is here for those of you who want to get weirded out. It’s so strange that I don’t think I’ll post it on the .org site–but some of my girlfriends liked its scary movie quality, so if that kinda thing works for you, do have a listen.


Lucy Had a Tugboat Tone Yet another song from licence that one of my girlfriends sang into my answering machine (the amazingly talented painter Miss Emily Lambert). When working on this tone, I tried singing it, but ended up doing it as a playful spoken word piece. I shortened the content (to make it tone-sized) and because I noticed words like “bell” and “operator.”

Lucy Tugboat Plus Bell Tone is the Lucy Had a Tugboat Tone + a couple of rings from Jill’s Ye Old School Bell Tone. I’m not sure which version of the Lucy Tugboat pair I like better. You decide.

Thanks to my girlfriends Ines, Faith, and Hyla for giving a listen in advance (but most especially for the feedback)!


1 Comment

Filed under Locally Toned (all posts), Ringtones

One response to “Alice Out (of the Basement) Tones by T. Foley

  1. Pingback: A Locally Toned Dream Come True! Foley hears a project ringtone on a stranger’s phone in public! « Locally Toned

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