The Two Rs


No, it's not R-apostrophe-s because that would indicate a possessive, and the "R" doesn't own anything. I'm speaking of a plural here.  Eventually.

A segment of Dragon*Con is the "Walk of Fame" where greater and lesser stars of TV and movies make themselves available to fans for autographs and photos (usually for a fee).  It's easy to imagine an awkwardness of fans gushing over certain actors with praise, but most of the celebrities seem to enjoy the chance to say "thank you" and, if they're not too pressed with people waiting, to engage in conversation.  In short, celebrities are people too.

I have several autographs - three from Star Trek actors obtained when I was a teen, and two from musicians who signed their CDs.  They made sense at the time... proof that I met them, I suppose.

Faced with a room full of actors and actresses with photo stills and Sharpies at the ready, a sudden impulse arises that says, "I want (insert name here)'s autograph!"  This is as quickly followed by the backstabbing dagger of self awareness which asks incredulously, "Why? What would you do with it?" 


Elsewhere at "the Con," there are several rooms where about everything related to sci-fi, gaming, costuming, etc. is sold, including autographed photo stills from actors across every genre.  I understand that collecting autographs is a hobby for some and as valid an interest as most others.  But for me, possessing the several autographs that I've acquired hasn't meant beans, and to acquire them from people I've never met makes even less sense, as follows:

"Hey, guess what?  I've got Clint Eastwood's autograph!"

"Really?  Wow!  Where did you meet him?"

"Oh, I never have.  I just bought it from a vendor."

"Um, okay.  What are you going to do with it?"

"I... don't know.  Keep it... safe, I guess."

It's not like you can read most of them, either.

Over the years, my own signature has changed.  In school, legibility was important so that the teacher knew to whom the work belonged thus I could receive my rightful grade.  But, when bored of doodling, I recall playing around with the way I wrote my name because other people had really cool signatures.  They had better handwriting.

Entering the workplace and my adult years, there were ample opportunities to refine my signature, albeit while signing checks.  Today, I write my name far less frequently as bills are often paid online, and it seems mortgages and credit card receipts remain the final domain for one scribing their own name.  It's not as much fun to write your name when all it means is that you've entered into debt. But even that seems threatened as fewer vendors require a signed receipt. 

My signature has evolved in recent years to include recognizable initials, with squiggly lines after each which imply that letters may have been intended.  Why bother with details?  No one bothers to look, much less read it.

And I'm okay with that.  My kids' signatures, though... absolutely awful.  My daughter (almost 18) has a third grader's attempt at cursive, and my son (16) is satisfied with a second grade effort at plain print.  Sadly, the Palmer Method (by which cursive script was taught to be legible and uniform) and even the lesser expectations that I faced in grade school are but forgotten memories.

Palmer method

I rarely have the opportunities to see my kids' unpracticed and unrefined handwriting (good grades mean I don't have to review all their homework), but it wasn't until I read this article on the fate of cursive writing in our digital age that I realized how much their handwriting aggravates me. 

My daughter may someday be a Nobel Prize winner or save the world while texting on her phone, and my son may become a rock star, an author, the Most High Supreme Master of video game players, or Dr. Evil ( be fair, both have other possibilities).  In any case, I'm fairly certain that regardless of their accomplishments to come anyone who sees their signatures certainly wouldn't pay to possess them. 

In a world of computer screens and handhelds, I'm guessing that the definition of "literacy" will evolve to mean the ability to read without the ability to write.  Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic... Kids have it so easy!  1/3 less to learn!


  1. I always felt that one of the main reasons that girls handwriting was so much better than that of boys, was that girls practiced more in the form of writing notes to each other. The boys of my middle and high schools never passed notes back and forth. They didn't write long indepth letters to each other (or the girls), nor did they worry so much about how someone else would view their handwriting. Girls on the other hand were notorious for writing multi page letters to each other and to the boys, plus they were very aware of how their handwriting would be judged by others. To this end, girls had neater and much more legible handwriting.

    Today's girls don't write notes, they text each other; they don't write letters to out of town friends, they email them. How can they be expected to have legible handwriting when they simply aren't practicing it? Of course, even when they do write these days, its full of text lingo and simplification to the point of illegibility anyway... Or is that me just getting old?

  2. Aren't most autographs in initials nowadays?

    -Son :P