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I’m not sure whether everybody has seen Amazon’s Echo.  This device connects to an artificial intelligence server named Alexa, a kind of competition for iPhone’s Siri. (I have one.)  With the appropriate equipment, Alexa turns lights on and off, wakes you up and puts you to bed, answers questions, and walks the dog.  Well, not exactly but that doesn’t mean that Amazon hasn’t been thinking about your four-legged friends.  Enter Petlexa – for your pet.   What could possibly go wrong?

Enjoy.  In the meantime, I’ll enjoy my birthday with a day of lazing followed by culinary overindulgence at a location known only to friends.  Ta ta!

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Foolish Friday: Sensual

Richard Armitage as Francis Dolarhyde displaying the latest in skintight briefs. From the series Hannibal.

Hello class.  How’s your week been?  Did you enjoy last week’s nose study?  Well, we wouldn’t be at out objectifying best if we didn’t examine other…erm…areas. For science, you know.  During my blogging absence, I continue to track Richard Armitage’s roles, including that of Dolarhyde in Hannibal.  Luckily or not (your mileage may vary), I was already watching the show.  In preparing for class, I came across an article describing the character as “sensual and empathetic,” not words I would have used. 

But what’s important is that RA was “half undressed most of the time.”  No I’m not criticizing his acting; it was quite good.  However the character proved quite intense and violent which made viewing a bit daunting.  Hence, I enjoyed the time he was on screen clad in nothing but nice tight black briefs. 

This isn’t the greatest screen shot but RA here still appears as fit as he was as Guy 10 years ago, but let’s be sure.  Shall we?  Perky pecs? Check. Chiseled abs? Oh yes.  Waxed chest? Yes please.  Long finely muscled arms? Mmm hmm.  Looks slightly heavier than the lean Guy days but perfectly acceptable. 

But wait – is that a slight burgeoning love handle?  Personally I think the briefs are so tight that they are cutting him in just a tad at the waist.  The verdict?  I think RA still looks pretty fine at his age, or for any age.

What do you think class?

 

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This post hails back to March 2012 at the height of my Guy of Gisborne fascination.  Written for Fanstravaganza 3, an annual Richard Armitage fan appreciation fest, this madcap farce featured me, my psyche trio (mischievous id Jodi, nanny superego Jada, and enigmatic ego Quiet One), Patty the Pomeranian, Winston the black pug of depression, and my therapist Dr. G.   And let’s not forget Guy of Gisborne as played by Richard Armitage in Robin Hood. 

Be sure to read first parts 1 and 2 linked below to get the full picture of our heroine’s situation.

*****

We last left off here and here with our intrepid heroine not getting her money’s worth in therapy.  But her fantasy figure certainly is.

A Big City

7:45PM

I gaze at my watch again.  Has it only been 45 minutes?  Have we slipped into a crack in the space/time continuum?  Surely it must be next week.  On the upside,  Guy has covered a lot of ground but the session ends in five minutes.  What could possibly go wrong?

Guy sits slumped in his chair, his fingers still caught in his long hair – correction, much longer hair.  It falls in waves to his shoulders, obscuring his perfect profile.  His black leather has changed for the designer Italianate variety.  He’s ready for the cover of Medieval GQ.   Oh dear.  I have a bad feeling about this.

Jada makes an observation. “Dr. G. seems to be putting him through changes.”

Jodi licks her lips. “I’ve always liked this version best.”

Quiet One … is quiet.

Winston and Patty paw through my copy of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, (Fourth Edition), chuffing and apparently arguing with each other.  Clever pooches.

I glance curiously at Dr. G. as she scribbles notes in earnest.   She has pulled books off the shelf behind her, including her own DSM manual.  Her eyes have a strange light, the kind I get when I think about “peaches.”

Jada eyes the manual.  “She’s probably thinking about how many diagnoses she can cram into her medical journal article,  plus her best seller and a slot on Oprah’s new network.”

Jodi ogles Guy as he turns his glamorous face to the therapist.  “She’s probably thinking about the ethical question of treating and shagging a fantasy figure at the same time.”

Quiet One snerks.

Dr. G. stops scribbling.  “Let me get this straight, Guy.  You craved the love of your mother, hated your father, and eschewed love and security for status and power.  Despite your childhood experience, you accidentally abandoned your baby in pursuit of that in the fear that your lady love would find out?”

Guy’s lovely brows furrow in confusion.  “Aye, er… nay… er… aye?”

Jada interjects.  “Well, it’s a little bit more complicated that…”

Jodi adds gleefully. “Yes, don’t forget about the love/hate relationship with Vasey.  Oh, the Freudian  implications there!”

Quiet One actually nods.

Winston and Patty rip pages out of the DSM manual.  They have an impressive pile.

Dr. G. sighs.  “Vasey?”

Guy looks away grimly.  “The Sheriff of Nottingham.  He was my liege lord since I was made a knight.  I was duty bound to carry out his orders.   He promised me return of my family lands, status and power that was taken from us when King Richard took the throne.  His ways … were not always well received.”

Jada nods.  “Guy was the black knight.”

Jodi elucidates further.  “Guy was the sadistic, lying, cheating, hand chopping, murdering black knight.”

Is Quiet One holding her breath?

Guy flicks his hair and snaps defensively.  “I only chopped off one hand, killed a few.  My sins were middling as far as black knights go.”

Jada ponders this.  “Yes, he does have a point.  He was fairly average.”

Jodi scoffs. “Average?  He couldn’t shoot an arrow straight, lost every fight with Robin Hood and was a lousy swordsman!”

Quiet One is … yes, that was sporfle.

I almost sporfle as well.  Jodi, as usual, makes a point;  Guy was not only pretty, he was a pretty bad black knight.  Who knew?

Guy jumps to his feet, shaking in impressive manly umbrage.  “I did the best I could, you accursed… id! I did not wish to do it at all! I could not get away from Vasey.  At least Marian could see the best in me.”

Jada clears her throat uncomfortably.

Jodi harrumphs.  “And look what happened there…”

Quiet One heaves a long sigh.

Winston and Patty pause in their page ripping.

I gaze anxiously at my watch.  “It’s time, session is over!  Let’s go!”

Everybody ignores me.

Dr. G. can’t help herself.  “So what happened with Marian?”

Guy’s lovely features scrunch heartbreakingly, sapphire eyes welling with tears.

Jada begins hesitantly.  “Well… there was an unfortunate knifing…”

Jodi puts it out there. “He ran her through with his sword.”

Quiet One is … very quiet.

I hold my breath.

Guy erupts in a rage, hair flying gorgeously as he shakes his head.  “It was an accident! I did not mean to do it.  I would never harm her!”

Dr. G. leaps to her feet cooing.  “Of course, now calm yourself.”

Guy continues in his angst. “It was truly an accident!  But such words that came from her mouth … she said she would rather die than marry me, that she would marry Hood!  I wanted to stop those words.  I had my sword like thus -”  He whips out the broadsword.  ” – and reached for her like thus -… GOD’S BLOOD … !”

We all gasp, including surprised Dr. G. with the sword sticking out of her.

She stares up into Guy’s face.  “I – I think … I know … what your problem is.”

We all lean in close.

She gasps out.  ” You – You … You’re a fuck-up.”  *THUD*

To say there is a long silence is an understatement.

Jada states the obvious.  “This isn’t good.”

Jodi considers the remark. ” It sure isn’t!  Is “fuck-up” even in the DSM manual?”

Winston and Patty gape and shake their heads.

I’m beyond words.  On the downside I have a dead therapist on my hands.  On the upside, I won’t have to worry about the bill.  It’s always best to think positive.

Guy stares in angst at his sword, probably wondering how it got there, too. His magnificent shoulders droop in resignation. “I am cursed! I have killed another innocent maid.  This cannot stand.  I must throw myself upon the mercy of your law.”

Jada is ever pragmatic. “Point that thing elsewhere, Guy.  Actually, you’re not real.  None of us are.  So only Judi can go to prison.”

Jodi grins saucily. “Exactly! So you’ll have to resort to getting blindingly drunk and indulging in wild forgetful sex every night again.”

Guy flinches.  “I remember not.”

Jodi winks.  “It hasn’t been written.  Yet.”

Jada finishes her assessment. “And Patty will be ripped from the bosum of her rescue forever home and thrown back into the clutches of foster care.”

Patty yelps and faints.  Winston whines at her.

I’m feeling a bit faint myself.  I could see it now: The new Twinkie defense! – woman says therapist killed by fantasy figure, only eyewitness is traumatized dog, news at 11.

Quiet One speaks, astounding us all.  “Look, if Guy isn’t real, then neither is the sword.  See, there is no wound at all.  I think she’s just suffered something like a psychic shock.  It’s going to be okay!”

We gawp at Quiet One for a second as the realization sinks in.  Much relieved backslapping ensues.

I am exhausted.  “Well, we’d better get out of here before she wakes up.  Hopefully she won’t remember a thing.”  Or I’ll need a new therapist.

Suddenly a male voice booms. “It looks like I have arrived just in time!”

We look around before finally looking down.  There stands a small, stocky, but very attractive fit figure with long flowing gray streaked locks and full beard, regal blue robes and a fur cloak. Blue eyes regard us imperiously.

Guy eyes the interloper, sensing competition.  “Who is this?”

The figure pulls himself up to full height.  He barely reaches Guy’s elbow.  “I am Thorin Oakenshield, King of Erebor, and King Under the Mountain.”  He turns to me and inclines his head.  “I am at your service, madam.”

Jada smiles.  “Ohhhh, it’s the Hobbit dwarf!  Are we moving on already, Judi?”

Jodi stoops, pinches Thorin’s cheek, and coos.  “He is sooo cute!  Wait until we get him some sexy time with that elven model.”

Thorin blushes and sputters. “We don’t do such things with elves!”

Jodi winks and strokes his beard. “Oh, but you’ll like what this elf does.”

Quiet One laughs.

Guy turns charmingly red in the face.  “You are forsaking me for a … a… a HOBBIT DWARF?”

I quickly try to smooth this over.  “I’m not forsaking you -”

Thorin interrupts.  “She promised to write me tales in which I regain my kingdom and riches.”

All eyes turn to me.

I shrug helplessly.  Oh dear.  I wonder if I’ll survive the next session.

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The Sound of Silence

Hearing aids circa 1990

Back in the Jurassic Age, I was a lawyer.  Courtrooms could be cavernous, swallowing up sound, so I plunked down money for state of the art hearing aids.  That meant that they were molded in one piece and fit in the ear.  I could control the volume on the piece and didn’t need a little black box that hung around the neck or fit in a pocket.  I loved them until I realized they magnified all the noises I could already hear and nothing else.  They drove me crazy.  Into a drawer they went and years later, out with the trash.

So 27 years after my first failed experience, I decided to try again.   Although I’ve been hearing impaired since birth (mostly deaf in the right, partially in the left), what remains has been gradually disappearing.   Friends told me that I heard less.  I found myself growing quieter and quieter in noisy social situations.  I’d become so accustomed to the sound of silence that I didn’t realize how bad things were until the audiology test.  To my dismay, the spikes and lines dipped much lower and the good ear had lost a great deal of word comprehension in noisy environments.  Literature lying around warned that increasing deafness carried a higher risk of dementia.  So I bought more state of the art digital hearing aids, fully programmable, and geared to amplifying the sounds I need.  My geeky soul was thrilled.  The audiologist stated he wouldn’t program the devices to full capacity so that the wall of noise wouldn’t knock me over. Instead he would increase the volume over a 45 day trial period which would allow my brain to adjust.  Even so, the variety and loudness of sounds have been startling.    Literally.  I’ve jumped at every odd noise since beginning this post.  Is the strangely loud washing really breaking down?  I have clue.

The new high tech. Starkey Halo 2 hearing aid

Naturally my high tech gear has not come without glitches.  The devices should be programmable with my iPhone allowing me to take calls and listen to music – that is if the damn phone will see them.  One hour with the audiologist and  two and half hours with Apple troubleshooting have yielded no fully functioning hearing aids.  There’s another audiological appointment on Friday. Apple swears they are working on their end, and I’m about to bring Starkey, the manufacturer, into this.  Needless to say, these iPhone friendly devices will be returned if they aren’t iPhone friendly soon.

All of this reminds me of another type of deafness which leaves people isolated in their personal bubble of silence.  Simon and Garfunkel sang about it in Sound of Silence.

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Courtesy of that hotel shoot. Please let me know which one so I can give credit.

 

 

 

So I combed through Pinterest of all places looking for photos and found another one from The Infamous Shoot.  It’s another example of what should have been a stunning picture.  Not that it’s bad, but RA appears either too lit up or wears too much make up.  As it stands, this is one of the better photos from that shoot.

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Guy demonstrates to Marian how semi-nudity is integral to the story, Courtesty of richardarmitagenet.com

 

The constant weather changes have been wrecking havoc with me.  So I’m just leaving a photo of this guy.  You know that guy?  It’s this guy. Right here.

 

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Tony award winning Hamilton is one of my fave musicals I’ve never seen yet.  So I checked on YouTuber Peter Hollens to see if he had taken a shot at it.  Lo and behold, there was the tribute video.   So here is Hollens and company with a medley of hit from Hamilton.

Enjoy.

 

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Today’s entry is the creepiest little life affirming thing I’ve ever seen.

Breathe in.   Breathe out.

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Courtesy of Microlina

 

Welcome back class.  One of the downsides of protracted absences is I lose the advantage to stir the pot, as it were.  For instance, take the old news of Richard Armitage’s nose job that sneaked up on us way back in 2013.  At the time, there was heated debate over whether it had actually occurred or that anybody would suggest it had.  Clearly, he had a slight nose bob with the faintest shaving over the bridge bump.  The change is subtle but obvious overall when seen from different angles.  Great job, eh?  I applaud the cosmetic surgeon who showed restraint in altering it from the allegedly “mean” and “sinister” looking (according to RA) to a more classically formed Caucasian nose. 

Personally, I like the result.  RA stated repeatedly that he never

Courtesy of Microlina on Tumblr

liked it but had become resigned to it because his mother discouraged him.  It’s likely he finally did it to satisfy himself and gain access to more roles and advance his career.   I say more power to him.  If it makes him happy, then it’s all good.

Now that three years have passed and the heat has died down, what to you think?  Is he better with the new nose or should he have left it alone?  Is it too pointy and “Disney prince” like?

Comment below.

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[This was my first The Man story published in August 2012 as a stand alone piece.   I wrote it in one sitting in response to a policing blow-up in the ArmitageWorld blogverse.  Sadly, the policing still goes on today, although in other media. 

The more things change, the more they stay the same.]

*****

In the plate glass window, the man watched the reflection of three girls, young women actually, arguing across the road.  His own image reflected there revealed a fit, bearded, middle-aged man, dressed in black from his sunglasses to his boots, sipping black coffee and munching brioche in front of a Pret A Manger.  From their furtive glances and head tilts, he knew they recognized him.  He really wasn’t into the whole celebrity thing and had half a mind to get up and continue on his way.  But his new PR people had warned he had better get used to it, especially once the film hit the theatres.  So here he sat, watching a curious drama unfolding.

The shortest girl spoke sharply and turned as if to cross the street towards him.  The tall, bossy one shot out a hand to stop her, while the middle looked on helplessly.  Bossy wagged a finger in clear admonishment. The man frowned.  A bit full of herself, wasn’t she?  Bossy appeared to be making points as she ticked off finger after finger. Shorty’s face drooped a bit further with each one.  The man’s brow furrowed as he pondered what the problem could be.  Maybe they didn’t want to intrude on him eating.  He stood, pushing the last bite into his mouth.  Placing a hand casually in his pocket and still sipping the coffee, he turned slightly towards the girls.

Shorty’s head dipped a bit as her shoulders sank in defeat.  The man didn’t like Bossy one bit.  Look over here, Shorty, he thought. He turned fully towards them and smiled in open invitation.  Shorty and Middle noticed and stood, rooted to the spot, while Bossy kept lording it over them. Oh hell.  He had to cross the road and pass them anyway. He would be extra sweet to Shorty just to show Bossy.  Tossing the cup in a bin, he caught the green light and crossed.  He could see Shorty and Middle tracking his every step.   He rehearsed what he might say as he strode closer.  Good morning, ladies? Nice to see the sun today, ladies? What the fuck is going on here, ladies?   But before he could get within hailing distance, Bossy whirled around and spotted him.  The three of them turned and fled into the park entrance. The man stopped at the entrance in disbelief, watching their retreating backs.  They ran away!  He knew he was tall, but he didn’t think he was scary.  He rubbed the back of his neck. Well, there was no telling what went on people’s minds.  He shook his head, chuckled and went on his way.

***

The man walked in the mist, the collar of his jacket turned up against the unusual summer chill.  He’d been a bit glum since the last project ended.  He knew this was to be expected; he’d been gone a long time, the longest in his career.  The next project did not begin for a few weeks, so he felt caught in a limbo of sorts.  Reasoning that he simply needed to get re-acclimated, he had taken to walking around the city.  He kept his head down and avoided eye contact, hoping nobody would recognize him.  Since his return, practically nobody had, except for those girls near the park, the ones who ran away.  Down Under, nobody knew him, so he blended in easily.  Here, at least one or two fans approached him weekly for an autograph or picture.  But for the past month, nobody at all had come near him, not on the Tube, on the buses, in the parks, or even here, in Leicester Square.  He relished his new-found anonymity; it would disappear soon enough in a few months.  But if he were honest, a tiny, eg0-driven part him worried that he might have been forgotten. He smirked; ah, the insecurity of actors. As if to prove the point, he lifted his head, squared his shoulders and sought to make eye contact as he walked through the square. He’d darkened the hair again and shaved the beard. This should be easy.  He thought he’d caught a few glances, but their gazes slid from his and back to their own worlds.  A tired-looking woman approaching in a sodden-looking Burberry looked his way and did a double take, her eyes widening in recognition. An instant later, he chided himself.  Feel better now?  Remember, *you* started this.  He readied a charming smile.  She stared for a few seconds before suddenly averting her gaze and striding by quickly.

The man stopped in his tracks and glanced over his shoulder to make sure she hadn’t simply lost her nerve.  Nope, still walking.  Hearing a gasp, he glanced at two young women standing by a theatre door with bored-looking boy.  They stared and whispered, clearly recognizing him, but none approached.  He took a deep breath and walked on.   He felt glum again.

***

The man’s head throbbed.  On the agent’s desk in front of him sat a pile of scripts covered in post-it notes.  In his hand, he held a sheaf of paper detailing recommendations in close, cramped writing.  He had asked for the stack to be delivered to his house.  Then he had asked for his fan mail.  That’s when the headache started.  There was no mail.  Well, there were the usual requests from autograph seekers, but no long missives, no gifts, not even complaints – none of the stuff that had kept him connected to his fans for years.  He, the agent and the marketing strategist stared silently at the stylish sweater, mangled in the post, sent for his birthday as the fandom’s communal gift.  They thought his profile might require some upgrading. He was unable to follow the marketing strategist after that.

***

The man poked at the dry cake with his fork.  He glanced over at his lunch mate, an outgoing, gregarious, affable bloke with a high forehead and a wave of reddish blonde hair.  This guy was a hot property, touted as the Next Big Thing, who was beating him in entertainment polls.  They were eating in the most chic, but not appetizing, restaurant in the city, a place to be seen, according to his strategist.  Their lunch date was discreetly broadcast to arrange a casual meet and greet with photographers and fans. The bloke had already chatted up the staff and half the restaurant, all of whom seemed to adore him.  His date pushed aside his own dessert shrugged and smiled wryly.  Showtime, he sighed.

***

They rode in silence.  The photo and fan op had occurred without a hitch.  The man felt ridiculous relief as a handful of fans waited for him to approach.  He found himself trying to chat longer, but they seemed content to collect their autographs demurely and pictures and eager to leave quickly.  Meanwhile, the other bloke’s fans swarmed him; everybody chatted and laughed as if it were a small, impromptu party.  The man decided to wait in the car.   It had taken awhile for the thing to be over. The man thanked the bloke for taking him home.  The bloke waved away the thanks, saying any time.  As the man turned towards his house, the bloke rolled down his window.  Hey, I’m really sorry about your fandom, he said.

***

The man stared at the monitor, willing himself not to move again.  He’d gotten up ten times and gulped two glasses of wine.  His fans had all “defected?”   Well, yes, he had been away, engrossed in that long project he couldn’t talk about, but he’d sent a Christmas message, and a birthday message, and some other message, he was sure.  He jumped up, sloshing the glass of wine.  So those fickle bitches left me?  After all these years?  For the latest, youngest hot totty?  He wallowed in self-pity for a moment before chiding himself.     That’s the ebb and flow of things, fans come and go.  There was bound to be some attrition while I was away.  No matter what the bloke said, he still had people who liked his work.  Resolute, he sat, set the glass down none too gently, tapped at the keyboard.  He would visit his fan sites.  Years ago, he had sworn he wouldn’t, to avoid getting his feelings hurt and being swayed by opinion, but he had to know.  He had to see for himself.

Thirty minutes later, he sat back.  The three main fan sites still existed, all following his career and updating with the latest releases. He checked the membership rolls at the bottom.  Yes, they seemed troublesomely low, but they all didn’t defect, so there, red-haired bloke.  The participants in general forums chatted about his work, interviews and public appearances, all in glowing praise.  They chatted about themselves, a lot about themselves.  There was nothing remotely critical.  It was very pleasant and wonderful and well, uninteresting.  When did that happen?  He gulped more wine.  Clearly these sites would tell him nothing.  Time to google himself.

He typed in his name, leaned forward eagerly and scanned the page.  Blogs!  Yes, he’d heard about blogs and actually read a few theatre ones himself.  The bloggers were an independent, unpredictable lot.  They would tell him what he needed to know.  He eyed the top listed ones; his name appeared in the titles.  With another swallow of wine, he hesitated, then clicked.  404 page not found.  What?  He clicked the next link.  404 page not found.  The blog was gone?  He clicked a different blog link.  404 page not found.  He scrolled through several Google pages, clicking on blogs about him.  404 page not found.  He checked links on blogs not focused on him, but frequently mentioning him.  404 page not found.  He checked tumblr links.  404 page not found.

An hour later, he sat back.  All the blogs and tumblrs concerning him had disappeared.  Sometime over the summer, they had all vanished.  His fan forums were decimated.  What happened?  The only bit of information he found was a farewell post remaining on a defunct tumblr: I will not abide by The Rules. I will create a new account elsewhere.  If you know me, you’ll know where to look.  Rules?  What rules?  His fandom had no set rules. He returned to the main fan sites, searching for rules.  He found something on etiquette, but nothing to cause an exodus.   Finally his eye stopped on a section: members only.  Of course! Rummaging through the desk drawer, he found the secret name and password he had used to join the site years ago.  He’d chickened out and never used it, allowing that his fans should have privacy.  But he would use it now.

Entering the logon, he clicked.   There they were — The Rules — in large bold type.  Due to the defection of old fans and expected influx of new ones, in order to promote proper respect for our actor, a reorganization of this fandom is necessary. Compliance with the following rules is necessary for membership. He groaned as he scanned the lines: 2. Our actor is a busy man.  Approach him only at approved public events designated as publicity for his work. At these events, interact with him briefly, politely and respectfully, and leave as soon as possible.  But what if I have time to stay and chat?  the man thought. Don’t chase them away!  4. Our actor is a shy, private person.  He has stated in interviews that he does not care to give autographs in the street.  So if you see him out and about, leave him strictly alone.  He moaned.  That’s not what I meant!  Now they’re running away from me.   6.  Real Person Fiction in any form or access level is forbidden. Since it involves the person of our actor, character fiction in any form or access level is also forbidden. Such works are potentially distressing to our actor, his family, and friends, and thus disrespectful.  He pistoned back in his chair.  When in the hell did he say this? His eyes fell to the last line: 10. These rules are non-negotiable and will be strictly enforced.  Violators will be brought before a tribunal of their peers for the enforcement of appropriate penalties, up to and including exclusion from the fandom.

His mind reeled, confusion and wine overtaking him.  His head sank slowly to the desk.  What’s happened to my fandom? he thought.

 

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