All posts by SS

Support #EmmysforOutlander – Enter to Win Great Stuff!

Hello! This is your fill-in Outmander, while Koko (that lucky girl) is touring Scotland! I know she’ll have all kinds of excitement to share, but while she’s gone, she wanted me to bring you some really fun news.

outmander

Outmanders will bribe you to support #EmmysforOutlander. Really. We’ve got a pile of great items – an Outlander t-shirt, a photo signed by Cait and Sam, an Outlander notepad, a couple of posters, and more goodies. Want to win something? Here’s how:

On Monday, July 15 ONLY, come back here, and you’ll find the Rafflecopter box below open for entries. Click one or more of the options, do the item requested, and then provide the confirming information requested.
1- You’ll get 1 entry if you send out a tweet using the #EmmysForOutlander hashtag, preferably during the trending period, 10 – 11 am PT (1 pm eastern, noon central).
2- Tweet using a meme or picture edit, where both your tweet and meme include #EmmysForOutlander, and check off the correct box to get 5 entries.
3- Not on Twitter? Put out a message in Instagram, with #EmmysforOutlander, and get 2 entries.
4- for everyone- follow @OutManders on Twitter for 1 entry!

What should you say? “Outlander deserves all the awards! #EmmysForOutlander.”  “Outlander is the best show on TV! #EmmysForOutlander.” Don’t use any other hashtags. You don’t need to reference a specific category, actor or episode. You don’t need to direct it to anybody in particular. All tweets using the hashtag will help promote our chances for Emmy nominations! Retweets will not count, so make your own original tweet. If you need additional guidelines for tweeting, check out this informative article from Outlander Ambassadors.

Here’s an example of a meme or picture edit. Feel free to make your own, or pick up one of the many memes created by other creative fans.

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Here’s the fine print, and a note about prizes: The majority of prizes may be mailed anywhere in the world. HOWEVER, included in the group of prizes are 2 large posters – these will ONLY go to US entrants (if you live in Canada, you can join the FB group Puget Sound Sassenachs and enter their contest – those posters will be mailed to Canada). No prizes will be mailed until after July 1.  And if you live in Washington, consider joining the Puget Sound Sassenachs group – they have awesome outings and lots of fun. You’ll find their Facebook group here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Search – Jenny and Claire

Get ready for it, Episode 114 of Outlander and “The Search.”  We left last week with the return of Ian without Jamie after Horrocks set them up for an ambush.  Jamie figured it out, but too late.

This week we will see just how tough and resilient Jenny and Claire are.  Jenny proves herself to Claire while out in the wild Highlands looking for her beloved brother.  Claire will do anything for love.

Jenny and Claire on a mission #findjamiefraser
Jenny and Claire #badlasses

This episode will definitely show the men who watch Outlander just how strong and gutsy these two women are – women from different worlds with a love of the same man.   Full of the no-guts-no-glory type of action, Claire signs on to part of her life in 1743 with new abandon.

Any thing to #findjamiefraser
Anything to #findjamiefraser

Will she do it?  Claire pledged her life to save the lives of others, how will she handle her internal battle?   Well, that remains to be seen on Saturday.

As the two figure out to find Jamie, let alone where, they have a clue:

The missive
Bad Ass Lasses of #Outlander

And what of Ian? Baby Maggie?  The Highlanders?  Jenny and Claire both break out of the molds they have been poured into, shattering the expected behavior norms – for the 18th and 20th centuries.  We see the return of Rupert and Angus, with Murtagh in the background (as seen in the preview).

Metin Huseyin has done a superb job on this episode; the purists will see many aspects of the book on the screen, spiced by new scenes. What will you need to watch this episode?  Bring on your inner punching bag because you will want to go to war with these women. You may need some tissues as well for some of the tender scenes. Other than that, prepare for a great ride on Saturday night – don’t forget to tweet using the #outlander hashtag at 9pm ET, even adding the extra moniker of #badlasses to your tweet to show support of our two heroines.

If you haven’t see the Episode 114 trailer, click here to view it.

Do you live in Washington State or Canada?  Join the Puget Sound Sassenachs on FB to keep up with many local events.   Follow me @outmanders or @kokiepipkin for news and updates of field trips and other happenings in the Pacific Northwest.

Tulach Ard!

World War II nurses in the movies sing a ditty.

 

One Week Post Droughtlander

So everyone survived, or at least it appears everyone did.  Outlander came back to us with a big bang, in theory, since Jamie rescued Claire using a revolver devoid of ball and powder.

Summing up last week, Jamie finally gets to stretch his knees and get out of that blasted window. Just in time too, to save his wife from unwanted ravishment yet again.   Fast forward to Jamie being very upset with Claire for disobeying his orders and needing to save face in front of Murtagh, his Uncle Dougal, and the rest of the MacKenzie men.  This has been the longest trip collecting rents – ever.   Then we have the most infamous spanking in the history of literature and television.

Spanking

Claire gives as good as she gets with a wallop to the chops.

Claire kicks Jamie

Colum and Laoghaire are verra unhappy about the marriage of Jamie to a Sassenach.  Colum is even more furious with the collecting of monies for the Stuart cause.

Three Weasels

Puir Jamie, gets it from everyone. Colum’s wrath, Laoghaire’s advances (and who didn’t think his hand was on her breast a bit too long?),

Laoghaire and Jamie

Then to almost get skewered by Claire in the midst of a big O for both of them

Almost skewered

The Scot can’t catch a break.  Even Laoghaire has taken to giving Claire and Jamie an ill wish…

So what is on for tonight?  Looks like some fancy places Murtagh and Jamie visit, but for what purpose?  Claire?  Geillis?  And what of Dougal?  Stay tuned tonight, 9pm, or 6pm on the west coast if you have on demand.

 

 

Graham McTavish: Gaelic – It’s in my DNA

It’s been a month since more than 300 Outlander fans flocked to the Thru the Stones conference in Davenport, Iowa, where super-fan Debbie Ford set up a day and a half of activities complemented by a Meet & Greet with Diana Gabaldon and Graham McTavish.

Graham and Diana at the Thru the Stones conference (12/6/2014)
Graham and Diana at the Thru the Stones conference (12/6/2014)

I had the opportunity to sit with Graham for a quick chat before he left the conference; here is the second part of that interview:

O: If you, Graham, not Dougal, could pass through the stones, which era would you travel to and what would you bring with you?

Graham: The Elizabethan period, for me, because I would love to meet Shakespeare, I would love to attend one of the original productions of his plays and I think it is such an interesting time, such a revolutionary time in many ways, the court of Elizabeth (the first).  I think would have been wonderful.

What would I have brought with me…I would bring penicillin, definitely. Medicine.  In all reality, if someone from the 20th century went back to the 18th century, they would probably be dead, be dead within a couple of weeks just from the diseases they would get, that they wouldn’t be immune to, and they’d exposed to stuff I can’t imagine.

Now all these surfaces are cleaned (gestures at the table) constantly, everything is clean, I mean, this would be just filth, but then in some ways, you could argue, that people would develop very strong immune systems.  My mother used to say that that you should eat a peck of dirt before you die.  And a peck – I don’t know if you know a “peck”… it’s a pretty big measurement, and that’s a lot of dirt to eat in a lifetime.  She believed and her parents believed you should eat and have dirt in your diet because it keeps you healthy.

O: You spoke a lot about art last night (at TTS) and Van Gogh. What inspired you to become interested in visual art rather than performing art?

Graham: I always drew and painted, all my life, and it’s something I enjoy doing, enjoy having around me. I find it very therapeutic, but in this specific instance of Vincent, I came across that quite by accident really. My friend and I were looking for a two-man show to perform, and we bumped into a lady at Covent Garden, who was a work colleague of my friend, and she said that she’d seen a Dutch actor perform a one man show, ten years previously, about Vincent Van Gogh. She said it was absolutely fantastic, based on letters. I’d never read any of the letters, I obviously knew who he was, and I don’t know why, I mean normally, under normal circumstances, I would have just gone to the pub after that conversation. This time I went straight to the bookshop and got a copy of those letters, they happened to be there.

Collage image from Google.
Collage image from Google

Sometimes you do think that things are not planned exactly, but they are made a little easier than you would expect.  I’ve gone into a lot of bookshops since and I’ve never seen copies of Vincent Van Gogh’s letters, and there they were, waiting. I got it, read it, it was amazing, and sat down and started writing it.  So many people love Vincent because he represents the quintessential artist, because prior to him, if you were a painter, you made a good living.  You didn’t do it to not make money; you would have patrons, be commissioned, do biblical studies, you had a good life.  The idea of leading an uncompromising artistic existence that flew in the face of popular conceptions of what art should be – it’s unbelievable that so many people would look at what he did and say that it’s rubbish and should literally be thrown away.  Yet he still continued (to paint). I think that speaks to a lot of people and inspires them.

O: It’s a character strength for him, that he would keep going?

Graham: He painted over 600 paintings and sold only one in his entire lifetime.  Everything else [sold after his death], everything else.  I think he would have thought it was amazing, but he expected it.  One of the reasons he signed his paintings “Vincent” was because he believed that one day people would know him by his first name. He totally believed that he would be famous, and he was right.

O: You talked a lot about your father last night, really wonderful stories. Has there been any particular instance during the filming of Outlander that has brought on memories and what would those be?

Graham: Yes, my dad, he is always with me, especially when I’m in Scotland, and playing a character like Dougal.  You know, Dougal is a very Scottish – I know it sounds obvious – but he is a very Scottish man, and there are lots of people like Dougal; plain speaking, which my father was, passionate, loyal, all of those qualities. I often think of him when I’m playing Dougal, and when I was playing Dwalin in “The Hobbit.”  I think there are parallels I could draw between those two characters, not just their accent. A lot of people would look at Dougal and see duplicity and other things, but he wouldn’t see it that way, and I think that’s interesting. I don’t think he sees himself as duplicitous, I think he sees himself as practical, and pragmatic and realistic, and so he acts accordingly and yes, my father is a great inspiration to me. It’s a sadness to me that he never saw this show; he would have really loved it.

O: This question is from Lisa Branford of Outlander Ambassador: You have learned some Gaelic for the show, has that inspired you to learn and become more fluent as part of your great great-great-grandparents’ heritage?

Graham: Yes, yes, it has. It’s something that I would love to learn, because, I guess it’s in my DNA.  When I was doing it with Àdhamh (Gaelic consultant), it does stir something in you, it’s strange.  I was quite surprised at that, actually, you start to hear the sounds that your family would have made for most of the history of my family. Speaking English is a relatively modern part of our history.  To go back to that, where it’s also becoming a lot more fashionable (Gaelic), in Scotland: Gaelic schools, Gaelic bars, Gaelic restaurants, and certainly, when I was in Scotland in the 80s, Gaelic was almost a dead language.  It’s had a huge resurgence.

Thank you Graham for your time, and to the fans who haven’t seen “The Hobbit” – you won’t be disappointed!

Want to learn a little more about topics that interest Graham?  Here are some of my picks:

The Elizabethan Era

Van Gogh Museum/Van Gogh Letters

My recording of Elizabethan era music by The Flying Monkeys, featuring a piccolo and the hurdy gurdy (only a minute long).

Photo is a screenshot taken from a short video by Starz.
Graham McTavish and myself, Spreckels Theatre. Photo is a screenshot taken from a short video by Starz.

 

 

 

Graham McTavish Talks About His Portrayal of Dougal and Masculinity

One week ago, an unprecedented event occurred, not only because it was held in Davenport, Iowa, but because one Outlander fan had an idea and ran with it: she brought author Diana Gabaldon and actor Graham McTavish to her Thru the Stones Convention (TTS).

Graham and Diana TTS 12 6 14

Diana, author of the New York Times Bestseller Outlander, mingled with some fans on Saturday afternoon before peeking into a lavender class designed for TTS.

Graham, who plays the MacKenzie War Chieftain Dougal MacKenzie in the TV series Outlander, arrived prior to the evening activities.  Winners of a trivia contest sat with Diana during dinner, and the names of seven lucky fans were drawn to sit with Graham at dinner, after which Graham and Diana each gave a talk, followed by a a question and answer period.  Prior to his departure from TTS, I sat down with Graham (and Erin Conrad) for a short interview; here is some of what he had to say:

O: What do you think are the aspects of Outlander that would draw in and hold male attention? It is predominantly women.

GM: I guess it is predominantly women; it’s interesting, what appeals to men.  I think anything that involves a combination of action, adventure, time travel, romance, has, for me, a pretty much universal appeal. I don’t think that’s confined to women at all. The characters, the relationship, between someone like Jamie and Dougal is a very interesting male relationship.  Not an uncommon relationship.  A man who feels threatened by a younger version of himself, really;  I think that’s what Jamie is to Dougal.  He looks at Jamie and thinks “you’re me when I was in my twenties,” so I think that speaks to men.

The period, I think, is very interesting from a male point of view, the costuming, the way they look.  All of us (the guys), when we were filming, wished that that’s how we dressed now, because it’s a fabulous way to walk around and you feel great in in those outfits.

 

Photo by STARZ
Rupert, Murtagh, Angus, Dougal, and Jamie

O: Braw?

GM: Braw, exactly.  So I’ve been very pleased.  I’m on a film at the moment in Boston, and there are Teamsters there who have come up to me and complimented the show.  You know, that’s a tough crowd. I’ve had a lot of guys, actually, talk to me about the show and I have been surprised, but very pleased as well.

And I think the combination that Diana touched on last night of placing a 20th century woman in an 18th century male environment has a very interesting dynamic with masculinity.  I mean it speaks to a way of behaving (for men) that is no longer fashionable, I suppose.

O: The honor and protection…

GM: Yes, and you know they are very masculine characters, they are not metrosexual (laughs).

O: Is there a scene that we’ve seen, in Episodes 1-8, that was the most challenging for you?

GM: Challenging, gosh, that’s a hard one…oh, no, you haven’t seen that yet (chuckles).  I guess, any scene that involves emotion, like the Geordie scene, the boar hunt, that kind of scene was the most enjoyable yet the most challenging.  It allowed me, from a character point of view, to take Dougal in a different direction, which is refreshing and it gives him more rounded appeal.

O: After that scene, when you (Dougal) talk to Claire and say: “You’ve seen men die before,” that was very powerful in the book.

GM: Yes, that scene as well. I loved doing that one.

O: That was very touching, you (Dougal) opened up as a man and not the War Chief, trying to find out what is going on.

GM: What I think is interesting about the character and hopefully what comes across in the portrayal, is that, just when you think he’s one thing, he (snaps his finger) becomes something completely different, and that scene that is a good example. He takes the time to come down and genuinely thank her for what she did, sincerely.  He means it, and it meant a lot to him, and he just turns in an instant into this calculating guy who says “That’s all very well, but you’re coming with me and, you know, I’m going to keep a very close eye on you.”  So the fact that you were very kind to me and helped my friend when he was dying, thank you, but….

I think that’s what’s interesting about him, is that he always has his eye on a bigger picture, so he can focus on something small, or not as broad, and yet keep in his mind on his ultimate goal, and his ultimate goal is the restoration of the Stuart throne – that suborns everything else: lust, vengeance, jealousy, all of those things, when it comes to that, he’ll do anything to make sure that happens.

O: And to keep Jamie from becoming Chief by marrying him to an Englishwoman

GM: Yes, he’s a great politician, Dougal.

EC: One of my favorite microscenes is right before Dougal goes to swear the oath to Colum.  You stop, almost sigh, take a breath, and then, you can see Dougal (mentally) saying: I love my brother, I respect him, I’m doing what’s right, but that should be me up there.

GM: Oh good, I’m glad that came across (laughs).  Yes, absolutely, he (Colum) is the thorn in my side, I’m just thinking, surely to God he’s going to die, soon, please, so that we can move on.

EC: As much as I hate for my brother to die, he needs to go.

O: Because Dougal was born the second son.

GM: Absolutely, they’ve got a very complicated relationship.

Photo by STARZ
Swearing of the oath by Dougal to Colum.

O: You talked a lot about your father last night, really wonderful stories.  Has there been any particular instance during the filming of Outlander that has brought on memories, and what would those be?

GM: Yes, my dad, he is always with me, especially when I’m in Scotland, and playing a character like Dougal.  You know, Dougal is a very Scottish – I know it sounds obvious – but he is a very Scottish man, and there are lots of people like Dougal; plain speaking, which my father was, passionate, loyal, all of those qualities.  I often think of him when I’m playing Dougal, and when I was playing Dwalin in “The Hobbit.”  I think there are parallels I could draw between those two characters, not just their accent.  A lot of people would look at Dougal and see duplicity and other things, but he wouldn’t see it that way, and I think that’s interesting. I don’t think he sees himself as duplicitous, I think he sees himself as practical, pragmatic, realistic, and so he acts accordingly; and yes, my father is a great inspiration to me.  It’s a sadness to me that he never saw this show; he would have really loved it.

O: Do you think Ron (Moore) can be convinced to do something with bloopers?

GM: I would be very surprised if he didn’t do this, when the DVD comes out, that may be part of the special features. They’ve shown us some gag reels, very funny and there are a lot of them, Duncan Lacroix being the main perpetrator of stuff.  He was in his prime.

O: When will filming begin for Season 2, Dragonfly in Amber?

GM: March or April of next year, no definitely start date, but it will be around then.

Upon returning to the west coast, Mr. McTavish attended the Los Angeles premiere of “The Hobbit” which will be released in the United States on December 17, 2014.

To hear his speech from TTS, click this link, which will open in a new tab: http://youtu.be/AhT2vtqT7ZE

To see more about the costuming, please see Terry Dresbach’s blog titled “Terry Dresbach An 18th Century Life” http://www.terrydresbach.com/  (included with permission from Terry)

Thank you to Debbie Ford of TTS, and Graham McTavish, who generously gave his time in the morning after being up late meeting hundreds of fans.  The second half of the interview will be up in the next week or so.

Erin Conrad is a personal friend of mine who writes about Outlander.  Her articles can be found here: http://www.threeifbyspace.net/tag/outlander/

Tulach Àrd!

 

 

Post Kiltum Depression: The Winter of Her Discontent

Post Kiltum Depression: The Winter of Her Discontent

“But look, yon light in that window breaks—‘tis the moon on the arse of Jamie Fraser, and yer mother needs a moment alone.”
                                                                                                  –Himlet, Act 2

And so, the long grind of winter sets upon Outlander fans, blissfully filled with minor events such as “Thanksgiving”, and “Christmas” and “Boxing Day”, serving to fill their hearts with the business of celebration while Jamie Frasier endures a five month squat in a freezing window.

pic 1

I couldn’t be more thankful. Before I draw the ire of legions, allow to me explain.

I recently began listening to the Outlander novels while I run.  There are some obvious comments, such as — audio books bring an entire new experience to the story, they enrich my views of the characters, and Davina Porter has, by now, received my offer to narrate my life in live action.  “Terry was never discrete when selecting cheeses at the market,” intones the narrator, “but the Roquefort appealed to the very heart of his roguish nature.”  If she cashes the check, prepare to be wowed by my simplest actions.  She’s that good.

Unfortunately, Davina has captured the vile heart of Black Jack Randall, too, and that’s where the trouble starts, because her skill as a voice actress is interfering with my workout regimen.  I run for health purposes.  You know, maintaining the ole’ ticker and all that, but listening to Davina voice the predations of Black Jack leaves me alternately curling my hands in anger or standing, stock still, with hands on hips and a look of utter disgust on my face when I revisit what happened in Fort William.  Since I run in a family-friendly park, people tend to give me a wide berth while discreetly noting my description.  Male. Face like a bucket of worms. Hates someone named Jack. Could stand to lose a few pounds, but won’t if he just stands there. Davina is so skilled, I find myself wondering if anyone will have the courage to dress as Black Jack — the real Black Jack—for Halloween.

pic 2

Now, a note about courage.

Let us discuss actor (and apparently delightful human) Tobias Menzies: a man who actually attended high school with other people, graduated from college with an advanced degree, takes his craft seriously, likes dogs, and by all accounts, is a professional, charming, dedicated person to work with.  For all we know, this gentleman may end up curing cancer and settling Mars at some point, but I’d like to draw attention to the enormity of his decision to play Jack Randall.  Is it a tremendous career opportunity?  Of course. Will millions of women regard him. . . differently, now?

pic 3

Why yes, Tobias. Yes they will.

I’ll simply say that Tobias better cut his food into small bites for the remainder of his natural life, because if he chokes in public, every woman in the restaurant will encircle him like malevolent druids, chanting, “You like that, you wee bastard?  HAVE ANOTHER!” while kicking him into a pulp.  Tobias, as one man to another: dine at home, eat toast, and chew your food well.

I’ve found my interest drifting to casting issues for the upcoming episodes.  I love the periphery of Outlander; as a writer, the minor characters bolster a scene, as a reader they make it rich and detailed.  There are major considerations at stake with the casting of Brianna.  After all, this is the fruit of Jamie’s and Claire’s passions, and thus will be a critical addition to the experience.  It’s also an issue that has wildly divergent answers based on who you ask.  If you ask a female Outlander fan, the answer might be something like this:

“Oh.  My.  God.  She should be smart and funny and shy and a little bit uncertain at first, but then she totally falls in love with Roger but only after she realized how smart and sort of tough in a nerdy brilliant way, and you really have to use the line where she describes his green eyes as ‘groovy’.  She has to make you think about Sa- I mean, Jamie, and she should have the perfect accent but not to be too young because I don’t want anyone showing Cait up in set and I will never forgive them if they cast someone with the wrong color eyes”—

Ask an Outmander about casting Brianna, and this is what you get:

“A six foot redhead?  Sweet Jesus.  Yeah, that works.”

pic 4

You see, men like redheads like women like Jamie.  Exactly like that. The next one and a half seasons promise to be a win/win, as long as you can overlook the vampirism, sadism, creepy need for oily buggering, rampant death, destruction, use of cattle, broken bones, disease, famine, did I say death, and forced hugging while pleading for cooing about love.

But I’m not complaining. We’ve got redheads.

Until next time, friends.  Stop by my blog, check out my paranormal books, stalk me at will.  It’s been a pleasure.

Terry Maggert
http://www.terrymaggert.com/
The Fearless Series Urban Fantasy

pic 5

Thank you Terry for being a guest writer, and show us your Halloween costume…

 

 

What will you do now?

So we’ve come to a “break” or a “hiatus” as some call it, the proverbial period of time that the Outlander fans must wait from the moment Episode 8 “Both Sides Now” ended and we get to see Episode 9 “Jamie Stretches His Legs” on April 4, 2015.  Six months, 26 weeks, approximately 180 days, whatever you want to call it, its ages.

Some have called it a “break” and so I decided to look it up. The definition of “break” is just the disruption or separation of parts. All true and some fans may think that their innards have become disrupted over said break.  Reminds me of Geordie, RIP.

The term “hiatus” is also being used for the gap.  My first career was in the medical field, so every time I hear that term, my brain goes back to doing gastrointestinal studies looking for a hiatal hernia (an inguinal or umbilical hernia), or any other place one can develop a hernia; it’s a gap or an opening and my long term memory would rather not go there.  Never will the image of a male bilateral inguinal hernia be erased from my mind (think cantaloupe).

break pic

Nope, I’m not calling it a hiatus (for obvious personal reasons).  What I will call the time between September 27th and April 4th is a “sabbatical.”  Why?  Because its use in academia suits my geeky scientific side rather well.  During a sabbatical, the person/persons take a break, but are still working on a product (in situ or another location).  We do know that Ron Moore and his entire team of cast and crew are not “taking a break” for six months. They are still working on the editing of Outlander and the beginning stages of bringing us Season 2: Dragonfly in Amber.  They are still working, but what are the bloggers going to do?  Dump writing about Outlander?  Nah.  Rewrite recaps?  Not me.  Diana has mentioned writing about what happens between the scenes we’ve seen on TV; I personally dig that idea.

We could all reread Outlander, Dragonfly in Amber, Drums of Autumn…you know where I’m going with this and notice I wrote “reread” rather than “read.”  The pre-STARZ fan base have read the books and probably more than once, myself included (most of them anyway).

What about all those new fans that just tuned into Outlander (the TV show) and now want to read the books?  They all know about Outlander, but what of the other books? Outlander is a great place to start and this is coming from someone who didn’t read Outlander first.  I picked up Dragonfly in Amber in a bookstore while in Ankara, Turkey – and it was in English.  Then when I was in Zurich (about two weeks later) at the train station on my way to Lugano, I found Voyager.  Score! I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.  That book was quickly devoured on the train ride through the Alps.  I returned to the US and immediately started combing the internet for Outlander because I could tell I was missing something (read as: Wentworth).  This was back in 1999.

Shame on me for not reading them in order, but my Outlander experience hasn’t suffered.  I’ve already completed one first-to-last reread in anticipation of the release of Written in My Own Heart’s Blood, to include ALL the side stories.  I’m on my fifth read of Outlander now and completely enjoying (again) the nuances and feel of the story.

So where do new fans start?  While each book can stand on its own, there really is an order and sometimes it isn’t just the end of one book and the beginning of the next.  I’m not saying the new fans have to read them in order, but it’s helpful, and even Herself has recommended reading the “Big, Enormous Books” in order. If it were me and I’d just seen eight episodes of Outlander, seen and heard all the squawking about anything and everything, I’d pick up a copy of Virgins, which is a novella included in the anthology Dangerous Women, edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois.

Picture1

It’s a short read, covering a span of time when Jamie is in France with Ian Murray (I think we’ll meet him when Outlander returns from sabbatical).  I can’t imagine there would be a spoiler in that, but I’m sure someone will come up with something.

Next I’d pick up a copy of The Exile, the graphic novel by Herself.

exile cover

Apparently for many fans, The Exile is a love/hate relationship.  I happen to reside on the love end of the spectrum.  Maybe because it’s a comic book, maybe because it’s told from Murtagh’s persective (Murtagh fan here!), maybe I don’t have a real reason why, but it’s a definite favorite of mine.

The Exile is a small book, comparatively speaking, but you need to pay attention to the characters as they look similar.  Read Chapter 1, then five pages of Chapter 2 and STOP.  Here is where you pick up Outlander and read it.  Since we already know she travels through the stones, read through that part and pick up The Exile again. You can then figure out where to stop and start on your own.

If you want to see Diana’s description regarding the chronology, click here.   I’ll be revisiting The Exile next week and one lucky fan will have the opportunity to win a copy in a contest that will be open to anyone.

So I ask you, what are you doing during the sabbatical?

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I chose this page because the, ah, nude character (not Jamie) is asking…”Now what do I do?” Unless someone spills the beans, find a copy of The Exile to find out.

Disclaimer: All views are expressly my own.  I’ve tried to separate the use of the TV series/fandom by not italicizing “Outlander” from reference to any of the books, which are italicized.  I do not know what Episode 9 is titled, I used that term because he will be, in our minds, crouching in the window for six months.

 

Outlander Episode 8 – Both Sides Now

Are you all in mourning?  Well, have no fear, there will be plenty to read while Outlander takes a sabbatical.   Many of you are long time readers of The Big Books by Diana Gabaldon, while there’s been a mob of new fans recently introduced to the world of Claire Elizabeth Beauchamp Randall Fraser and James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser.   Waiting for Episode 9 will be like millions of kids going to bed in December asking their parents “Is tomorrow Christmas?”

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Back to business.  This week’s recap is done by Steve Martorano:

Producer Ron Moore continues to amaze me. Now up to the middle of its introductory “season”, the Outlander Starz series seems to be improving with every new episode.

Not that I fault any of the earlier episodes. I’m simply finding the story has a different feel on the TV screen, as distinct from the feel of reading the book. The characters are all well-casted, the production values are incredible, and what I would consider true to life for the time period. I keep mentioning to my wife words to the effect of, “That’s just how I thought he would look,” (respecting Ned Gowan, the lawyer),

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or “The cinematography is amazing,” (in regards to the locations where the show is being filmed).

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But now we have come the last episode before the season “break”. In Both Sides Now, the story on-screen is truly coming to life, and increasing in momentum.

Now, let me just let you know up-front, I’m the kind of guy who hates to wade through all the back-story and character building. I think I’ve made it pretty clear in my own posts on the book chapters that long lists of family trees and memory flashbacks have my head spinning at times. The problem is, I know logically that these kinds of things need to take place in order to connect the characters with the various plot points in the story, and to build in layers of foundational information which will show forth in coming chapters (and books). However, that still makes it very challenging for me until the story moves along a little further so we can see how that fleshes out in the unfolding adventure. It hasn’t happened a lot in the book, but the few times it has, it has distracted me a bit from the story itself.

The TV show has been very faithful to the book, and I think Ron Moore has been very shrewd in maintaining much of that minutiae for the first few episodes, because I’m sure this is exactly what the fan base wants to see; however, as I had mentioned in a previous post [chapter reviews on my blog], anyone not knowing the story could have readily lost interest, as not much traction was being gained on the story line.  Of course, I think the fans of the series wants to see every thought and nuance represented explicitly on the screen because they have invested so much emotionally in the characters through the book series that they want to “meet” these characters in person, so to speak. Now that the base characters are established and the story is on course, I am thrilled to see the creative stance that Ron is taking the story and representing it in a more dramatic way.

For example, in the wedding episode, he told the story in flashback, which I thought was a very clever way of keeping the emotional connection to the wedding day, but re-living the preceding events through the remembrances of Jamie and Claire on how their day went. Also, he took the privilege of glossing over Jamie’s recounting of his family tree by over-dubbing Claire’s thoughts on causing the distraction so they could become more familiar with each other. These, I think, were different ways of giving the same emotional information.

Now, in the latest episode, he takes the creative stance of splitting the story between 1945 and 1743. Hooray! All through the book, I have been telling my wife that Frank should be represented more in the story, and this unique telling of Frank’s perspective on his missing wife is, in my opinion, exactly what the story required to keep that tension of the double-marriage question in play.

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The episode begins with a phone ringing in the Inverness Police Department, which honestly startled me a bit, coming fresh from the richly-painted scenes of 18th-century Scotland in the preceding episodes.

Casting Tobias Menzes as both Frank and Black Jack was a great play, because it helps to keep the audience conflicted about the similarities (through heredity) and obvious dissimilarities through Claire’s experiences with Black Jack. Now that we get to see a bit more of Frank in the story, the connection (and conflict) becomes even more heightened.

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Rumors fly about Claire’s disappearance. In contrast to the Police Chief’s conclusion of her most likely finding another man, I especially enjoyed the conjecture of Reverend Wakefield surmising Claire could have lost her way from Craigh Na Dun, and slipped in to the river, floating down stream, but then finding her way out of the river and holing up in a cave somewhere eating fish and frogs due to her military survival training (!)

Mrs. Graham’s delivery of the Craigh Na Dun legend to Frank was, in my opinion, spot on. With her involvement in that spiritual side of the goings-on earlier in the book, she provided a well-placed balance of perspective that continues to drive the time-split dramatics later on.

As the story in old Scotland continues, Claire’s knife training

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and subsequent attempted rape at the hands of Redcoat deserters

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was very similar to the book. I thought the depiction of her trying to maintain her senses afterwards while realizing she was in shock added a lot of validity to the scene for her character. In the book, she releases the emotion with hysterical laughter. While this could still be a legitimate result of shock, it seemed a bit out of character for someone with such a strong and self-directed psyche.

A now very committed Jamie is determined to keep his new wife safe, and as is expected with Claire’s character, right after he has her promise to stay put until he returns,

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she immediately changes the game by heading off to Craigh Na Dun once she realizes where she is.

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Then, the big dramatic scene comes with the combined run to the Standing Stones; Frank in his time period and Claire in her time period. To my way of thinking, while outside the box of the original story, this was genius storytelling in the spirit of the book. What better way to keep the connection between Frank and Claire than by having Frank skeptically return to the Stones in his time period,

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while at the same time Claire has finally broken free from everything that has held her back and is running towards Craigh Na Dun in her time period.

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The overlap was masterfully done with the haunting shouts to each other just enough to tie them together, and yet tragically pull them apart again at the critical moment.

Best of all, the story does not suffer in the least, because Claire still ends up back in Fort William at the mercies of Black Jack,

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and the resulting “cliff-hanger” ending with Jamie attempting to save her…

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All in all, while I know die-hard fans might disagree, I think the visual medium allows this kind of latitude in the telling of the story, and it helps to keep the same emotions in play, all the while remaining faithful to the richness of the original tale. In reading the book, Diana’s writing is so engrossing that much of the depth of the story builds effortlessly around the scenes; that is almost impossible to translate exactly into another medium. However, with Ron’s creative vision for the story, I’m impressed with just how far he can stretch the storyline without reducing its historic or emotional impact. In fact, I believe in many ways it assists the telling of the story.

I encourage others, even if you haven’t read the story, to engage with this very unique production that has real depth and meaning. While defying conventional description, Outlander proves to be a vivid depiction of the political maneuvering in historical Scotland overlain with the moral questions of war, friendships, and severed relationships through unique circumstances. I’m very much looking forward to future episodes.

Steve Martorano lives in Vancouver, Washington with his wife and four children.  You can read his chapter reviews of Outlander here.  Photos added by Savvy Santana and are from STARZ and Matt B. Roberts.

 

“The Wedding” – Eroticism at its best.

“The Wedding”, the episode that Outlander fans have been tweeting about for months, wanting to know about the dress, the ceremony, how the wedding night would occur…etc.  So, was it what you expected?  It wasn’t quite what I expected, yet it was done well and went off without a hitch – except for the couple that got hitched.

Again, there were deviations from the book, which readers of the book should expect by now.  This keeps the fans of the books on their toes yet keeps the storyline in a form so as to keep new watchers hooked.  Why the writing team deviated from Claire’s wedding to Frank we may not know, but while she appears joyous to marry Frank (circa 1935),

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She has the deer-in-the-headlights look right after her nuptial kiss to Jamie, 1743.

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We see the couple as they are pronounced man and wife and the story takes us through a series of flashbacks revealing events that have led up to the wedding.  I’m not going to recap everything, just my take on some scenes that really worked.

Clearly the couple are nervous. Claire gets drunk (again), or maybe she hadn’t recovered from the hangover that she woke up with.  Jamie tells Claire there are three conditions that he tells Dougal must be met for him to agree to marry Claire.  Dougal – a bigger cad you’ve never met, but a completely crude fellow that I quite enjoy.

Jamie’s conditions: a wedding by a priest in a kirk, a wedding ring, and proper wedding attire for her (and him). Okay, now that we have the formalities out of the way, what hit me most about this episode (and I’ve watched them all a dozen times at least), was the eroticism of The Wedding Night.

Starz has made the promise of sex more appealing through erotic touch than watching a virgin bridegroom stumble his way through his own deflowering.  Warning, while there is no _explicit_ content, the content is suggestive and may be considered R-rated.

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To the female fandom: how many times did YOU close your eyes and feel Jamie’s hands caress your flesh, to remove a ribbon from your neck?   You can bet millions of of viewers wished they were on the receiving end of that simplest of undressings.  Of course, Jamie being a virgin-but-not-a-monk, knew he needed to undress his bride, yet he doesn’t know he is starting a firestorm in Claire’s loins.

How many of you brown haired lasses would like to hear Jamie say “mo nighean donn” in a breathless whisper while brushing a stray lock of hair away from your neck?  I’ve seen how many twitter handles are out there, resembling the Gaelic phrase of “my brown haired one/lass”.   Fess up and make sure you have a bib for your drool for every time you rewatch this episode.  Don’t forget to check back in after you buy a box of L’Oreal “Mo Nighean Donn”, the newest color on the market.  I want to see how many new bottle brunettes there are following this episode.

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What of the male fandom out there?  As I tweeted before this episode, I have no doubt there will be many babies born in the couple of weeks before or after June 20th.   Did you care that your women folk were drooling over Jamie like he was real, while you were secretly (or maybe overtly) drooling over Claire?  Or maybe you just didn’t care about your women have been yakking about for months, years, decades?  Yeah, I’m sure there are a few of you who wished you were Jamie.

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Oh right, back to business.

Jamie to Claire: You’ve not told me what you did all day…

Uh, I don’t need words for that! claire and the bottle

So, while the liquid courage is flowing at record levels in her blood, Claire decides to take this bedding business into her own hands.  She’s already deflowered Jamie, so it’s time for her to be dominant…

The moments the throngs of women have been waiting for…

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Anticipation…

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Well, the next frames instigated the “thuds” heard around the proverbial world (the US anyway).

The barest whisper of a touch has the potential to be more sexual than just about anything else.  ‘Nuff said.

Now, the sales of long, single strand pearls probably skyrocketed after this scene.  Guys, if you haven’t gotten one for your lass for her birthday, Christmas, Hanukkah, or just becuase, then you’d better get cracking.  They aren’t just to wear with her little black sweater.

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And then…reality check!

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Girl, you have yourself two husbands in two spatial dimensions.

I commend Starz on how they have presented the much anticipated wedding night.   What happens next?  For those who’ve read the books (like me), we all know what will happen…but from what I’ve heard, Episode 8 will be a cliffhanger.

Thanks for reading my first ever post.  I decided to take one aspect of the episode to write about since there have already been endless recap’s out on the internet. The comments and thoughts contained herein are purely my own. Images are (mostly) from Starz.