Another perspective on hypothetical Richard Armitage autographs

tumblr_ma6z9x2dng1rug3xvo1_500[Richard Armitage signs an autograph, weekend of July 14-15, 2012, San Diego, CA. Source: Me, My Thoughts and Richard Armitage]

Went out for a while to visit my favorite beer purveyor. Don’t judge. Beginning Monday at sunset I have to go for a whole week without consuming any fermented grains because G-d said so. Due to my increasing connoisseurship of Belgian fermented grains, accomplishing this will probably be the hardest this year it’s ever been. It’s not the drinking — I could switch to wine — it’s the taste of that beer. Anyway, I digress from the actual point here.

I was seated at the bar chatting with one of my favorite bartenders, Chad, and I asked him how he was, and he said he was okay except he’d been working a lot more the last week. When I asked why, he told me that he and his partner, Lisa, had just rescued a cat and that it cost them $400 to get it fixed and chipped and treated for whatever ailments it had. And they had to get kitty x*nax prescriptions for their other cats so they’d all get along from the beginning. He showed me a bunch of pictures. They were really happy, he said, because the kitten was so affectionate.

I admit I’m not a huge kitten lover but I made appropriate noises. “And,” I said. “If the cats start getting along, you can underdose them and resell some of the drugs on the street.”

He laughed. “I could use it myself, at the moment, with the extra shifts.”

“Oh,” I said, “Is that just because of the expense from the cat? I could tip you more than usual.”

Wgtn-28Nov2012-07[Richard Armitage signs autographs on the red carpet at the New Zealand premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, November 28, 2012. Source]

He laughed. “You already tip enough,” he said.

Then he told me that he and Lisa had gone recently to an event called Mega-Con and on top of all the other costs for transportation and lodging and food and so on, had spent $700 getting two posters with autographs from the series regulars of the ST:TOS cast, who were apparently all simultaneously present. One for him and Lisa, and another one to sell someday, he said.

“$700?” I said. “For entry to the con? Or the posters cost that much? Were they collectors’ items?”

“No,” Chad said. “For the autographs. It was $35 apiece for the autographs of the regular cast members plus $70 for Sir Patrick Stewart’s.”

[I think I remember that correctly.]

“Wow, really?”

“Yeah,” he said. “Expensive. But totally worth it. Sir Patrick Stewart is just exactly like he seems.” Then he did a kind of imitation of Stewart saying “Make it so!” Chad finished by saying, “Lisa absolutely loved meeting him, and so did I.”

I agreed it might be neat to talk to Sir Patrick Stewart face to face for three minutes, and the conversation turned to other things, like the virtues of St Bernardus vs La Trappe Quadrupel, which I am sure you care about less than I do.

I’m not in search of an autograph, as I’ve said before, but like many fans last fall, had wondered why anyone would pay for an autograph of Richard Armitage’s sold on ebay and gathered by some fairly unpleasant people, if s/he could simply write to ask for one, but suddenly this puts things into a little more perspective.

[Note that in this post, I am neither approving nor disapproving of the activities of amateur or professional autograph collectors.]

Tokyo-31[Richard Armitage, with photograph-eager fans on the red carpet at the Tokyo premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, December 1, 2012. Source.]

Does anyone know: is this standard? Fans go to a convention and then pay for autographs of actors on top of that?

If so, then I can see why someone might want to buy one on ebay. Because presumably if someone sells his or her autograph, he isn’t giving it out for free on most occasions. I assume one signs for free on red carpets — but it’s a pain to get to a red carpet, and while it can be wonderful and transformative, as we’ve seen, the results are far from guaranteed, if you’re standing in the wrong place.

Or is the reason that Mega-Con can charge for this that they get all the regulars together in one place and so convention visitors have a hope of getting everything they want at once? Which would be especially attractive, I guess, so the organization charges the fee as a way to cut the numbers of people lining up and keep the actors from suffering too much?

I wonder if Richard Armitage will ever sell his autograph in this way?

Or the dwarves all together? Will there be conventions with all the actors who played the dwarves, each charging $40 for an autograph?

Servetus shakes her head.

[Note that I’m not saying Richard Armitage or anyone else should or shouldn’t sell his autograph. As always, I think Richard Armitage should do what he thinks he needs to do, and doing this kind of thing will neither get him into or out of heaven or my good graces — distinctly different places, I might add. I’m just wondering about everything I learned tonight from Chad.]

~ by Servetus on March 24, 2013.

60 Responses to “Another perspective on hypothetical Richard Armitage autographs”

  1. It varies convention by convention. Some actors aren’t big names ala Stewart/Shatner/Nimoy so they pay their own way to convention and then sell their autograph to make money. I’m not familiar with Mega-Con, but some of these bigger conventions are able to attract the big names with nice big appearance fees and then sell tickets to the attendees guaranteeing a chance to get an autograph thus making both the actor guest and the convention organizers a nice chunk of change.

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  2. Hmm, that is interesting. Frankly, I’m not sure how I feel about the whole concept. I suppose, the cost can only be what the market will bear. For the record, I don’t think I’d pay for anyone’s autograph unless proceeds were going to charity, but if people are willing to pay…

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    • yeah, the cost will be what people are willing to pay (Chad was satisfied with his and Lisa’s bargain, it seemed to me — he was probably more bemused by the cat anti-anxiety meds than the autograph costs). And Stewart just bought a big brownstone in Park Slope so he probably has expenses to meet … and a wedding to pay for … I’m not judging. I’m just sort of turning the question over in my mind …

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      • Me too…what is troubling is not so much the direct market, but the kind of stuff described below that happens in search of these autographs to sell. Makes the antiquities black market seem tame by comparison. It’s kind of off my radar since I’ve never been big on memorabilia…too much commitment to keep it in one piece.

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        • I really think you should collect the stuff b/c it means something to you, because odds that it will appreciate in value are really so low. I want to use / play with all my Hobbit toys rather than keep them in boxes. And honestly — given the thousands of autographs Armitage must have signed in his life, how much will any one be worth in the next century?

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          • I would agree with that…I’ve picked up bits and pieces of the and that over the years from travel and what not, and that kind of stuff I’ve cherished. I haven’t been inspired to any Armitage stuff yet (beyond DVDs). although that plush Thorin was very tempting…maybe next installment.

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          • I am of the “get it because YOU really want it and will enjoy it” school rather than in hopes of it becoming valuable one day. That’s why none of my RA-related collectibles are in boxes/have tags, etc. That’s just me. And I gotta say, plush Thorin AND plush Gandalf are just TOO cute. Trust me on this. 😉

            I think you are right, Serv–RA has signed boocoodles of autographs already. Why think they will become that valuable in the future?

            Of course, the autographed photo of RA that my husband got for me a few years back is very precious to me, in large part because MY HUSBAND GOT IT for me. That says something special to me. 😀

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  3. Nerd Expert here – I’ve gone to the San Diego and the New York Comic Cons. Yes, there are actors who are not featured in any of the regular Con activities, but are just there to make money from selling autographs. Some actors don’t charge you just to talk to them, if they’re not busy. I had a lovely chat with Michelle Forbes from Star Trek and True Blood the last time I went. LOL! Some actors seem to just make their living showing up to charge for autographs (and pictures) and some are selling books or stuff. Star Wars people charge a lot. James Marsters (Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer) seems to show up a lot. I think it’s vaguely creepy, but it is fun to see them signing, even if you don’t pay (like me).

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    • if it helps them makes ends meet ….

      I used to say, when I started blogging, that i wished I could pay Richard Armitage in some proportion to the pleasure he gave me. I’ve made a point of both purchasing legal copies of everything of his I’ve seen that’s available for purchase, and of donating money to charities he’s recommended. I suppose this would be another step in that direction, hypothetically.

      I can’t imagine he’d ever be at a convention and not be busy, though.

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  4. I had NO idea actors did this at conventions or other places! I mean I know they sign stuff but for money? DId that happen at Comic Con this past year with The Hobbit actors? I saw photos of them signing but assumed it was an expected event there???

    But I see that as a totally different thing than what we saw in NYC. These guys didn’t care who they stepped on, hit in the face, pushed into the streets. Again…I had NO idea! Well I did with about 5 mins of heads up time from a friendly photographer. He was worried about it. I was too dumb to know take it too seriously. Altho I thought the security guys and cops could’ve handled things differently, I will have to say that the security guy was right beside RA and you can hear him i the vids saying as they worked their way down the line, “You’ve got one already.” or “He’s already signed one for you.” Not that it stopped them from whacking me one more time!! LOL!

    It just galls me that these guys turn around and sell the autographs for a nice, tidy sum…yeah we all have to make a living, but at whose expense?

    Again, I need to shut up about it but you can’t imagine how intense and scary those 10 seconds were. And I don’t know if this happens at “all” red carpets or it was just NYC. I’d love to get on ebay and put out a bulletin about the thugs they may potentially buy from. But would they believe it? Nah, probably not. If nothing else, my experience might be a warning to other unsuspecting old ladies! 🙂

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    • as far as I know no one paid in San Diego, but I don’t know. And they were trying really hard to promote an upcoming film there — it’s a bit different with ST:TOS, which has been off the air since … 1994?

      I’m glad Armitage has an experienced guy to shield him.

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      • No one would have been charged for an autograph at the WB’s Hobbit signing at SDCC. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of there being a charge for a studio-organized autograph session there (since the studios are trying to promote something), and the ones arranged through SDCC in the Sails Pavilion, the signees can’t charge for those either. They can charge if they have their own setup on the exhibitor floor (say, if they are the guest of a publisher maybe, or toy manufacturer, etc). Patrick Stewart always charges more than his fellow cast members. I thought it was because he attended cons less frequently than the others, but that seems to be changing in the last year (as Servetus notes he *does* have wedding expenses coming up!).

        There were the One Ring Conventions (ORC) in LA a few years ago and you could buy autograph tickets and photo ops, prices varied depending on the cast member. I can’t remember, if I ever knew, what percentage went to the convention organizer and what percent went to the actor.

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      • At the risk of being obnoxious and pedantic, the TOS acronym refers to the show from the 60s and the subsequent movies. TNG is the acronym for the The Next Generation which did end in 1994.

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    • oh, and you’re not *old*.

      I agree it’s different if the actor himself is taking the profit as opposed to an autograph collector. I guess everyone has to make their money somehow, though.

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  5. Yikes! That’s one expensive scribble!

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    • I wonder if the value will appreciate and Lisa and Chad will be able to sell their additional poster at some point at a profit?

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  6. Thinking more … maybe part of what’s being paid for is indeed that two minutes of getting to say, “I really love your work and admire your talent,” not in a crowd, not in a crush, and getting to see the actor’s face reacting to your praise. (This must be excruciating to the average actor — it’s definitely something I could ever do, not that I’m in danger of that.)

    I’m not sure that’s worth $70. OTOH, it might be worth $35.

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    • I am going to write more about this, but that is one of the things that was the biggest turn-off to me about Hugh Jackman since he became a BIG STAR. It was for charity (Broadway Cares Equity Fights Aids) but he was charging thousands of dollars for an opportunity to get a picture and autograph with him, and wouldn’t take pictures with fans outside the theater. When he was in the play A Steady Rain with Daniel Craig they sold their undershirts to audience members for $10,000! Seriously. Even for charity I think it’s creepy.

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  7. Had we been after autographs, I would’ve been really peeved as it was tough for “real” fans to get one! I was curious about the whole red carpet thing more than anything…and of course, seeing RA was the cherry on top.

    Too sad about the Jackman attitude. I guess I had him pegged as a regular guy.

    Also, the fact that each of the 6 guys had armloads of pics to throw on top of me and others…an AT the actors, was a huge clue. Ya think? Plus, we helped them with the actors’ names..they had NO idea who was who. Give me a break!

    I have purchased autographed items on ebay before….a couple of Catherine Marshall’s books that she signed. I treasure them as I admire her greatly. As much as I admire RA, it’s not quite the same. For me. For others, it’s a big deal.

    Well for Pete’s Sake…I just had an idea. I could raffle off my busted up Gumpaste Thorin!! Now…if I could get RA to sign it, just think… 😀

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    • Well you may not be judging Servetus, but I am! I think selling autographs at a convention is appalling and my respect for someone like PS goes down when I hear he has done it. It it weren’t for the fans, actors wouldn’t be able to command obscene amount of money for what they do – and if signing autographs becomes a way of paying the rent its time to get a day job, in my opinion. And whilst I see no harm in a charity using an autograph as a way of raising funds, I think it is fairer to set up a raffle or competition so it doesn’t simply go to the fan who can afford the most.

      The Queen wasn’t the only one put off going to a red carpet by the behaviour of the ‘professional’ autograph hunters. I saw the video and was really glad I wasn’t there. I was pleased RA seemed to be differentiating between genuine fans and scalpers by only signing RA for the latter. It’s just a shame the genuine fans got roughed up in the process. But once actors start charging for autographs, it becomes a slippery slope, in my view.

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      • My issue with judging it partout, bollyknickers, is that I just don’t know enough about why anyone does what they do. PS had a terrible childhood by all accounts, and even when he had “made it” on British stages, not a very comfortable life. Maybe he has debt; maybe he wants to help out his kids; maybe, maybe, maybe. Maybe he has a cocaine habit. Or is in debt to loan sharks … I just don’t know. In a capitalist world we are all selling something in one way or another. I’d rather he sell his autograph than a few other things I can think of that he might have available. And the thing is, in this particular case, Lisa and Chad were happy to pay.

        I don’t really want an autograph of anyone’s, even of people who are significantly more important to me than Richard Armitage. But I could imagine paying $80 to be able to talk to Richard Armitage face to face for three minutes, without being tackled by other fans or autograph hunters, to tell him what his work had meant to me. (Not that I’m going to, I have no plans to attend any Hobbit or CA-related convention, just that I could see doing that.)

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  8. As mutch as I love Richard I could never buy his autograph, thats the most stupid thing I have heard, lol. I don’t think I would care mutch for a free autograph either, what would I do with it. I feel sorry for the actors who are writing autograps for these autograpshunters/ fake fans.

    I don’t really care if actors sell their autograps, it’s up to them what to do but it actually feels a little like the same as begging for money. Myself I would have too mutch pride to do anything like that, I hope RA feels the same. It’s just a name after al.

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  9. OMG, I had no idea this type of activity goes on. Personally I would not pay a single red cent for anyone’s autograph and that includes Richard Armitage. To be honest I would not even want it free because what the heck am I going to do with it afterwards?

    I can’t imagine Richard’s autograph ever being worth anything with the thousands already circling the globe and that number is growing.

    I had heard years ago about Hugh Jackman’s huge ego so I am not surprised.

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    • Well, in defense of Hugh Jackman, he was doing it for charity. Don’t know about his big ego – everyone who works with him seems to think he is very nice and a lovely person. Still, the selling of autographs and picture opportunities is creepy, and not letting people take pictures with him at the stage door was wrong.

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  10. Not the actors sell their autographs on conventions. The responsible persons who organize the convention do to make profit with the event

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    • But surely event organizers could not do it without the OK from the actor, so it’s six of one, half dozen of the other.

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      • Sure. the actors get paid for their attendance and the organizers make moeny with that.
        It sounds a little awkward but for a lot of people conventions are the only chance to see some of the actors in the flesh and if you pay for a autograph or a picture it’s your own decision…
        I visited my first convention last year and had a lot of doubts about it but in the end it was a great experience (I haven’t bought a autograph but paid for a pic with one of the guests)

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        • I get the attraction of the conventions…the chance to meet and greet, etc., and I certainly don’t begrudge anyone who attends… it’s the process itself that bugs me I guess. I mean, the fact that we live in a society that puts a price tag on virtually everything as long as someone, somewhere is willing to pay. The horse is out of the barn on that one I guess 🙂

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          • I think one could only turn th wheel around if all fans would decide to boycott for example the third version of a dvd but like you said: someone is always willing to pay…

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            • Looking at it from the standpoint of the economist — price is also a way to regulate access. I don’t think an actor in that setting can really say, I won’t do anything with fans. On the other hand if contact were free, he might be totally overwhelmed. Setting a price is a way to make the numbers of fans fall in terms of people self-selecting who are willing or able to pay.

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  11. I hate to think that actors can actually “make a living” from selling their signature and deigning to grace the fans with their presence. For me that really throws the whole relationship between star and fans out of kilter. I acknowledge that the balance is already tipped towards the star, anyway, but I think that the actors need to be reminded that they are nothing without the public, and that autographs and/or presence at fan events is *their* payback. – I completely understand the common practice of paying for p&p for an autograph when you send in for one, but charging on top of that just seems like a rip-off. Buying an autograph on eBay would hold no meaning for me because I would always remember that that autograph was written for someone else.

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    • Don’t you think they already know that they are nothing without the public? Armitage has more or less said this (“it’s the fans who buy all those tickets”).

      I think those autographs on ebay might have their purpose. Let’s imagine a bedridden fan of Armitage who is never going to get to go to a red carpet or meet him — and a situation where a friend wants to give a wonderful present but it’s too late to be able to count on the “free” autograph getting to him. Purchasing something the fan will love in a convenient, reliable way? Seems like win/win to me.

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      • I have to concede that in your scenarios it makes sense to have autographs for sale. What I object to is the whole money-making side of it. It just seems ludricous to me, to be paying hundreds for a signature on a photo.

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        • I think we could differentiate between something having a price and something having value (let’s say). Here’s something that has value to some people, that probably most of us belief should (however) not have a price. But in capitalism the second something has value, a price gets assigned to it.

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          • Yup – it’s a capitalist world that we live in… And even as a leftie I will admit that having prices can be alright – as long as they are realistic.

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  12. I know that some fans are disappointed that RA apparently doesn’t intend to attend any cons (except Comic Con, and I wonder if this year they won’t focus on new actors?), for example Hobbit Con in Germany, but this put it into perspective.

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    • He doesn’t seem to have the requisite personality. I mean, who knows what he’s really like, but he doesn’t really seem to have that outgoing bonhomie as an easy or natural response.

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  13. I am not sure how I feel about this. I don’t think it is right for someone to get an autograph only to sell to the highest bidder. I would need the memory attached to it to make it mean something. I just don’t know if I would even want an autograph or not, I have not really though about it. That not to say that we don’t have autographs, a friend of our family wrote a book (hopefully he will get the rest wrote soon) and we have his autograph in the book. We also had him sign the copy I sent to my friend.

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    • I think what your comment correctly points out, katie70, is that the experience of obtaining an autograph can be a very personal one. For some of us it would be meaningful, for others not, for some of us only if we had personally met the person, for others, one requested through the mail is sufficient.

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  14. I agree with many of you about paying for autographs and have always followed this policy at the conventions I’ve attended over the years since the scribble has no intrinsic value. But there’s a new wrinkle this year since Shatner will be appearing at a fan-run convention that I attend every year. I don’t know what he charges for an autograph but I’m certain it’s going to be huge. I’d love to get my TOS dvds with Captain Kirk’s image autographed by him just like I got the Sulu and Uhura ones signed by Takei and Nichols. None of them is getting any younger after all.

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  15. Conventions and autographs are weird things. I rarely attend cons as an actual attendee, since most of the time I’m working as a vendor, which has given me a somewhat different perspective. At the last big convention I worked, there was a rather wide range of big-name and lesser-known actors; Patrick Stewart was there (his autograph went for $80 that day!), along with many TOS and TNG guest stars. Many of the actors were paid directly for autographs by the fans, rather than the con runners selling autograph tickets and collecting the money. (Oh, con runners. Such an appropriate term, really.)

    Of the actors that I talked to, nearly all of them were using the autograph sales as supplemental income. For them, working the convention doesn’t pay enough to really make it worthwhile, which is kind of sad considering ticket prices to the convention. (I had one actress who was interested in buying something from me, but said she needed to sell some photos and autographs first!)

    On the other hand, I also worked a different convention with a slightly different set-up (same con runners, though), where the actors have no say in setting prices of autographs/photo ops, etc., and in fact have no idea how much the tickets sell for unless they do their own research. They’re just paid by the con runners and go about their business. (Some of the actors have been horrified when told how much the tickets are.)

    Personally, I don’t tend to collect autographs since a scribble on a piece of paper doesn’t mean much to me; if it’s the only way to talk to an actor whose work I love, fine, but it’s not really my thing. Although I do enjoy giving them blank pieces of paper and saying “Have at it,” then watching the looks of terror or glee that cross their faces when they realise they can do more than just scribble their names…

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    • I can imagine that would be kind of stressful — write whatever you want? In that kind of setting I’d be grateful if people would just tell me what to write.

      It’s unfortunate that the con organizers can’t get enough money together to make it worthwhile for the actors. I’ve organized many conferences myself and I know how hard it is to come up with money for honoraria, but you’d think with the entry prices being so high … then again, they could probably be higher. Look at how quickly ComicCon in San Diego sells out.

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      • Yeah, I’m a little bit evil with the blank piece of paper thing. At least some people enjoy having a blank canvas to play with, though!

        The sad thing is that the conventions (at least the ones I’ve worked) seem to be rolling in money and the entry fees just keep climbing higher and higher. Yet somehow it doesn’t quite trickle down to all of their guests… :-/

        Happy Passover, btw!

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  16. Didn’t Ringo Starr stop signing autographs for that reason? He didn’t like how he’d sign something for free to be kind to an admirer, but the “admirer” was actually just someone who wanted his autograph so they could sell it on to ACTUAL fans for lots of profit. He didn’t want to see his fans screwed out of their hard-earned cash for the benefit autograph touts.

    Also, giving cats prescription meds to help them get along?! That’s wrong on so many levels and, frankly, horrifies me. There are a number of natural things you can do to help them get along – including things that are 100% free, such as a proper introduction. Sure, it takes time, but medicating perfectly healthy animals is insane. 😦

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    • Although it’s not against the comment policy on the blog, Traxy, I would be grateful if you didn’t call friends of mine “insane.” They’re doing something their vet suggested to them, and I’m sure they have reasons. It’s also something a lot of people with pets do in the U.S., whether you like it or not.

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      • We had to start giving one of our cats anti-anxiety meds when we traveled any distance because otherwise she’d become extremely ill–vomiting and extreme diarrhea, which stressed us ALL out, including our other pets. I hated having to do it, but it kept her from being horribly sick, and it was only used short-term. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

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        • I think it’s really hard to judge animals and people you don’t know and their decisions based on three sentences a third party writes about them over the Internet in a post that’s actually about something else. JMO.

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          • I agree. I once was called a b*tch on my own blog for having outside animals as pets, the poster referencing something I wrote in the blurb about me at the bottom of each post. I think they were pissed off because I didn’t have nice things to say about 50 SoG but that reaction seemed a bit extreme and. in this case, had nothing to do with the post they were commenting upon, either.

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      • I was talking about the practice of using drugs when it’s not needed being insane, not your friends, but fair enough.

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  17. […] Mulubinba ponders buying an Armitage autograph. (If you go over to read this, please be a supportive fan friend and do not leave her any grief in the comments. I myself am agnostic with regard to buying autographs.) […]

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  18. […] multiplied even the number of less predictable events where he could be viewed going and coming. We were even able to speculate about whether Armitage would participate in the common practice at fa…, again with opinions […]

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  19. […] like this one of Turner and O’Gorman appeared somewhere where I could see it — which is a distinct possibility if he ever attends a fan convention, where it’s common practice for fan….) Similarly, look at the mannerisms typical of the large group photos — open body postures, […]

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  20. […] night, I was at the Best Bar on the Planet, and Chad was my bartender (he and Lisa broke up — I should ask them what they did with their Star Trek posters and who […]

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