Touchy Actors

Winona Ryder once commented on how she disliked the way people were always touching her because she’s an actor. She said people seemed to think actors are “public property.” I can certainly understand her issues. But having worked with and met my share of actors and musicians and whatnot, can I just point out they often think it’s okay to touch people at random, and that we’re not only supposed to like it but be grateful for it?

This has happened to me many times, and I find it just as presumptuous on the actors’ parts as Ryder finds it to be in what she must think of as “common” people. Maybe most people would love being petted by someone famous, but I’m as likely to take a limb as smile at you, so fair warning there, friends.

To be fair, I’ve met and worked with almost as many actors and musicians who have been very respectful and treated me well, so I don’t like to assume it’s a wide-spread epidemic. One British rocker I met when I was 17 treated me like a daughter, which is to say he made sure I didn’t touch the beer and stuck to soda. We talked history and literature, and it was a lovely evening, without a single mention of Lolita. So there’s evidence it can be done.

But for every one of those I’ve met, there are probably two that felt the need to slip an arm around me or—and I’m thinking of one particular actor, very charming but also very pleased with himself—touch my hair. People I don’t even know well, often have only just met, and I find that very odd and off-putting.

Look, when I meet actors or musicians on set or for an interview, I shake their hands and greet them. When I meet actors or musicians at a function or restaurant, I shake their hands and greet them. When I’m introduced to or meet random people on the street, I shake their hands and greet them. Do you see?

My mother always wonders why I don’t take pictures of myself with all these people, but I feel like that’s weird too. When you’re on set, everyone is busy, no one is stopping to snap photos. Maybe at the wrap party or something, but otherwise, no. And you don’t want to be that person, the one who doesn’t know any better and wants to take pictures and grin like an idiot every time someone famous is around. And no one wants to have to worry all the time that someone might be taking a picture, either.

And then, when I’m just hanging out with someone, again, it feels weird to stop and demand a photo. I think the generation or two younger than me does this a lot more, maybe because they came up with cameras on their phones; even back when I was an undergrad, taking a picture usually meant running to get an actual camera. It was something that took time, and everyone always thinking, How long is this going to take? and, How long to we have to stand here?

I was once a guest at a sci-fi convention, there as a writer, and I was really surprised when people wanted pictures with me. But I think that was because I write, and I work in such isolated circumstances that I’m startled whenever I realize the outside world exists and may even notice me. Actors probably aren’t surprised at all when people want pictures, but they might be annoyed by or just tired of it. Which is another reason I tend not to ask. I do try to be sympathetic. And so I don’t immediately go in for a hug or a kiss, either, unless it’s someone I already know. There’s sometimes a phony aspect to a lot of the industry—a “we’re all friends here” game of pretend—but we’re not, and I don’t pretend. I like to get to know a person before I put my hands on them, and let them do the same to me. So, Winona: if we ever meet, don’t touch me. At least not before we’ve had coffee, gone shopping, and taken at least one photo together.

Plays & Agents

I’ve sent out a few queries to agents recently, and I got a nibble, which was encouraging. So I sent her “Warm Bodies” to read, and she liked it. Said she liked the “contemporary voice.” She said she hopes when I next have a full-length work, I’ll send it to her.

I’ll count this as progress. Alas, I tend to write short and sweet plays (my longest don’t run more than 50 pages, about an hour of show time with breaks and set changes), so I don’t know that I’ll ever have a full-length play to send her. It’s been suggested, of course, that I expand something I do have, but . . . While I’ve considered that, I sort of let the story dictate the length when I’m writing, and I’d hate to drag something out that doesn’t need it, just for the sake of length. When you start doing that, you end up with reviews saying the play “starts well but falls off in the middle” or something.

Still, it’s nice that she’s interested, and that she finds something worthwhile enough in my work to want to read more at some point.

The Mark Gatiss Factor

It has become a kind of bizarre circumstance that every time I’m in London I end up spending at least a couple hours breathing the same air as Mark Gatiss. This started last June, when it happend that the day I arrived in London was the day they were showing The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes at the Lexi. It’s one of my favorites, so I went, and Mark Gatiss and the other one (yes, okay, Steven Moffat) were there doing a Q&A or whatever.

Then, you know, I went to London in December for the Sherlock preem at the BFI, a special treat for my birthday and/or various holidays, and Mark Gatiss was there, too . . . Actually, so was Steven Moffat . . .

So now, knowing of course that Mr Gatiss is performing in “The Recruiting Officer,” it’s a given that I simply must go when I’m in town. Three times makes it tradition, after all. (No Steven Moffat, though. I’ve had done with him.)

Doctor Who: The Doctor Accessorizes

A Twitter friend (and on Twitter one uses “friend” loosely, since in a lot of cases one has never actually met any of the people) asked today: “If you were playing The Doctor [on Doctor Who] and had to have a gimmick as part of your outfit what would you choose eg bowtie, Converse etc??” [asked by @bluebox99]

My initial response was some kind of cool/weird coat or jacket because I have an especial fondness for jackets, blazers, coats, &c. And then I considered jewelry, maybe a signet ring of some sort. Could be interesting to build a story around the potential significance of such a thing.

But then I thought: What about a tattoo? How would it be if The Doctor regenerated with a tattoo? What would that mean? You could maybe build an entire series around that question and its eventual answer. What would the tattoo be of? Where and when might that image pop up? What if someone recognized it, even if The Doctor didn’t know what it was or what it symbolized? How cool could that be?

Teaser Tuesday: Midnight Riot

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly book meme hosted by Should Be Reading. The idea is to pick up your current read, go to a page at random, and post two teaser sentences. This book was recommended by . . . I can’t remember now. Neil Gaiman, maybe? But I don’t want to put words in his mouth. Anyway, the UK version is titled Rivers of London, which I think is a much better title than Midnight Riot, but unpopular opinions like that are probably why I’m not a publishing executive.

Author Diana Gabaldon says this about the book: “Midnight Riot is what would happen if Harry Potter grew up and joined the Fuzz.” What more could you want from a book?

I’ve only just started reading it myself, so I hope I don’t spoil something for me, much less anyone else. (I’ll have to read it quickly, though, since it’s a library book and I’m moving in a week.)

From page 102:

An hour into my practice I stopped, took a deep breath and opened my hand.

And there it was, the size of a golf ball and as brilliant as the morning sun—a globe of light.

I don’t usually post political manifestos or air these kinds of opinions, but . . . Look, unless I’m trying to sleep with you, I don’t care what your sexual orientation is. Doesn’t matter to me, doesn’t affect me at all, any more than your hair color, your eye color, your height. Whatever. Stash it. Go do your thing, and just . . . As they used to say on Hill Street Blues (I’m not *quite* that old, but my parents used to like it, and then we had to watch it for television class in film school): “Be careful out there.”

I also don’t believe your rights and privileges as a person should be predicated on your being heterosexual. Which means that I personally believe gay people should have just as much right to marry—really marry, more than just a “civil union” or whatever else they think of to call it. You can cry and tell me marriage is a biblical and religious institution all you like, and from a church’s standpoint that’s fine, but from a legal perspective—if we’re talking taxes and children and rights to visit in the hospital and anything else the church doesn’t have any right to dictate—then gay marriage should be legal. Churches that disagree won’t be required to perform these weddings any more than a rabbi would be required to officiate at a Catholic mass. So pipe down those organs already. It’s none of your business outside your own parish.

This is plain sense, isn’t it? I grew up in a religious household, I’ve heard the arguments, but I keep coming back to the simple bedrock of common sense. Personal feelings have nothing to do with it. Emotions have little place in lawmaking. Certainly prejudice has no place.

But that’s just me. And I’m not going to tell you what to think, either. Everyone has the right to an opinion, after all. This happens to be mine.


I frequently have dreams that feature Bono, the lead singer of U2. But it’s not what you think, you dirty-minded fools. Usually we’re on a basketball court, and Bono is shooting hoops. I just stand there (I’m useless at basketball). Bono does the talking, and I know he’s imparting important information. Unfortunately, when I wake up I usually can’t remember a thing he’s said. Sigh.

Sometimes the god Hermes is there, too. Just to emphasize the communication aspect, I suppose.

But I haven’t had a Bono dream in a while, and then last night I dreamt about being at a concert and waiting for U2 but never got to the point where I actually saw them. I’m thinking there may be too much going on in my life at the moment, externally, and now I can’t hear myself think any more. I’ll admit to having felt confused lately, though what about exactly I’m not sure. Overwhelmed, yes, with the move . . . And I have a lot of projects going . . .

Bono, I need you! Come talk some sense to me and make things clear! Bring Hermes along if he’s available . . .

A Rejection, but . . .

No rejection is easy, but I had the closest thing to a “good” rejection today, I suppose, when an editor e-mailed to say that, while the story I sent them wasn’t quite right for their magazine, my writing style suits them, so I should try them with something else.

I can certainly understand. Not every story is for every venue, any more than every play is for every theatre. Technical requirements and all. And as this particular magazine is known to be extremely difficult to land (it has 0% acceptance on Duotrope), the encouragement is appreciated. And I will definitely look over my other pieces to see if something might work.

Still, I am a little sad.

But that may just be because the moon is in Cancer today.

“Warm Bodies” Pseudo-Tour & “St. Peter” as Play or Screenplay

I had been hoping someone might review the LabWorks shows so that “Warm Bodies” would have, well, a review of some kind. But I haven’t found anything online. There were plenty of press releases before the shows, and the shows were well attended, too. But I guess maybe there was no press on hand.

Never fear. If you missed the premiere, “Warm Bodies” will still be showing in Texas some time in late spring and in Washington D.C. for the Source Theatre Festival this summer.

Meanwhile, I am working on turning my novella St. Peter in Chains into a stage play as well. Though I’m starting to wonder if it wouldn’t be better as a short film of some kind . . . It’s funny because I originally conceived of it as a play but wrote it as a novella, just to get the plot points smoothed out. But a lot of the story is internal dialogue, difficult to put into a play. I’m scripting it for the moment as written, but I think I’ll have to go back and flesh out a bit of what can’t be seen or easily acted. The reasons I’m wondering about turning it into a screenplay instead are: (a) better ability to focus in on things like reactions, and (b) it wouldn’t hurt to have another script on hand, an original one besides. Could possibly even be a television pilot, but would be more BBC than American television, I think. It’s a quiet story and needs time to build, and American networks are not known for their patience. We’ll see. I’ll finish the stage play and then consider a screen version to boot.

Author M Pepper Langlinais