Outlander: Even the animals are well written! …how does she do that!?

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imageWe all know Diana writes characters that are so fleshed out they could walk off the page. The people in her series have depth and dimension, but they aren’t the only ones. Her animals are characters in their own right. They have personalities and play an important role in the telling of her tales.  Tell the truth… how many of you cried ugly tears when Rollo died?  Raising my hand right along with you! (While I wipe away some fresh tears) Even the animals can make me cry…good grief, I’m a goner.

Let’s start with Donas: It seems that Jamie is always coupled with a spirited horse.  Donas’ role in this story is to add to Jamie’s character development.  Jamie has the touch. He is able to control a high-spirited horse without breaking its spirit.  In a sense, Jamie’s patience and tolerance allows Donas to be the horse he was meant to be.  (Seeing any correlation?) With the wrong handler things could have gone a much different way.  Jamie’s fear for little Hamish getting near Donas is very real, Donas bites!  This animal could have remained a beast that everyone feared and his potential would have been lost.  But, instead, Jamie admires Donas for his strength and heart.  Jamie’s efforts with Donas pay dividends when The horse makes it possible for him to rescue Claire. “Lord that’s a good horse”, exclaims Jamie.

Gideon: The other spirited horse. I love this horse because it takes all that Jamie has to control him.  Jamie’s reaction to this horse is quite funny.  He’d put him down, but his own sense of waste is affronted! So….the struggle continues!  And it is a delight to read.

Rollo: Wolf brother. Boon companion.  Best friend.  These names come to mind when I think of Rollo.  Leave it to Diana to create a dog that is out of the ordinary.  Rollo is a wolf/dog half-breed who catches fish.  Lean and lanky and fiercely loyal, (Remind you of anyone?) Rollo makes Ian his master and friend.  I say make because given the reaction most people have to this fierce looking animal, I can’t picture this alpha dog letting anyone tell him what to do.  He’s his own man. I mean dog <g>. From the moment they meet, young Ian and Rollo are by each other’s side. Like Ian who is always at Jamie’s weak side, Rollo protects young Ian.  I believe they truly are brothers in spirit.  They commune without saying a word.

Clarence the mule:  I love this guy! A non-stubborn friendly mule!  He’s the stand-in alarm system and welcome wagon to The Ridge. Claire describes Clarence’s hee-haw as a joyous sound!  Or, at least, SHE hears Clarence’s joy.  Not sure what visitors hear!  Sweet spirited Clarence and his dependability become a part of Jamie and Clair’s life and therefore, part of their family.  And he’s happy to be there.  I can feel Claire’s excitement when Clarence lets everyone know they are close to home and I want to hug his neck.

The White Sow:  We probably have family members just like the white sow!  You know… people you can’t live with, but you can’t live without?  She’s bossy, cantankerous and down right mean, but she keeps the family in an embarrassing amount of pork!  Year after year! (Although Jamie can’t imagine what pig would have the balls to mate with her) Nobody likes her, but everybody respects her.  She just pushes her way into whatever and wherever she wants including Claire’s pantry. And….I’m thinking the Indians might be right; she might be a demon.  I can just picture her walking out from under the house covered in ashes giving herself a good shake and moving on as if nothing had happened!  Gotta be a possum out there somewhere that she can put in her maw.

Adso the cat:  Jamie found him in the woods under a bush, a fierce and proud little fur ball.  But, Jamie’s magic touch soon has him purring. (Once again…sound like anyone we know?)  I’ve heard Jamie say he’d like to treat Claire like a little kitten he can pet and keep in his shirt.  Cats in general are aloof and Adso, like Claire, is a pretty good judge of character.  He doesn’t just give his love to anyone.  He’s also one tough tiny kitten who doesn’t seem to know how small he is. Which is both amusing and admirable.  Adso keeps our Claire company.  He shadows her moves and always seems available for a one-sided chat.  Adso also has a few comic incidents with Major MacDonald and his wig!

Buton: This beloved dog is quite the character! Buton is constantly described as an odd looking dog who might have gotten more than his share of the Heinz 57 variety.  We’ve all heard the stories of dogs with cancer sniffing skills. Well, apparently this dog was waaaaay ahead of the curve in the use of his nose for diagnostic purposes.  I chuckled everytime Buton jumped on to a patient’s bed and began to sniff.  Shocked and baffled are what must have been the two most frequent reactions!  What a wonderful quirky interesting animal!

And…Ping the peaceful one:  We were treated to a pelican training. Who wasn’t  just amazed by Mr. Willoughby and his fishing bird.  Once again, wonderful, quirky, interesting.  And! He saves Claire’s life! A pelican!

I’m not sure this story would be as rich, amusing or as heartwarming if it wasn’t for Jamie and Claire’s animal friends.    I know Ms Gabaldon has a couple of dachshunds she cuddles.  She hasn’t forgotten all the other details that make life interesting and she sure hasn’t left out the companionship, comfort and frustration that animals bring to our lives.  Just another reason to admire and appreciate her skill at telling a story we can see and feel. Sigh….she even writes animals well…

Claire’s birthday!

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imageIt’s Claire’ s birthday….huh…. What would a birthday celebration for Claire be like? Hmmmm…giving this some thought.  Let me set the scene.

The setting: Gotta be Frasers Ridge in the big house. I’d have them celebrate there because I think that’s where she was happiest.  This is where she built a life and home with her love.

The decorations: I picture the table set with a homespun cloth, candles and a crock full of the posey Jamie has picked from the fall colors found in their woods. No poison ivy this time <g>.

The food: I see the birthday cake is walnut layer with blackberry jam filling. Dinner is a beautiful roast turkey that Brianna shot and samples of the plenty Claire has stored in the pantry. The room is full of the delicious aroma of brewing coffee and the firelight makes the glass whiskey decanter glow.

The guests:  They are all there, those Claire loves; Jamie, Brianna, Roger, Jem and Mandy, Ian and Rollo, Fergus, Marsali and their brood, Lizzy and the twins and the Buggs. Rollo is lying before the hearth and Adso is winding his way through legs and chairs.  I see Jamie, wearing his good shirt, has plaited his hair and Ian’s shock of brown hair looks mysteriously slicked down.  The children’s faces have the rosy gleam of freshly washed cheeks and are ringed with smiles.

The gifts:  The ever practical Claire is thrilled with some new equipment for the surgery that Jamie asked Lord John to procure.  She gets emotional over a sketch Bree did of her healing hands. Jamie wraps his arms around her waist and kisses her neck while she fusses over the pretty rocks the children have given her.

Roger leads them all in a round of the birthday song. They talk and laugh and play and celebrate the day. And…at the end when everyone has gone to their own homes, Jamie takes Claire to their bed where they talk of all the bountiful blessings God has seen fit to give them, especially the gift of each other.

Happy Birthday Claire!

Rainbow poop, Poutlanders , Sheeplanders and Outlander on Starz

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I woke this morning to a post from Diana.  I’m always interested in what she has to say. After all, she wrote my favorite book series and I admire her writing.  And….bonus…she’s usually pretty funny.  Here’s what I heard her say today:

Writers have time and space to do what they wish.  TV writers and producers do not.

What works on the page does not necessarily work on the screen.

Some scenes in a book, although great to read, may not be needed to advance a story.

Sometimes additions for a visual medium may enhance a story.  We can see things from different points of view.

I think that about sums it up.  Now…here is what people heard ( according to the comments)

 ” I think the haters have been schooled “

” …no matter what “they” say “

” …put everyone in their places “

” Saddened you must make justification “

” haters and nitpickers “

” now everyone just leave her alone “

” if you don’t like it don’t watch and shut-up “

Of course these are just a few of the lovely tolerant responses. (yes, I’m being sarcastic)

I’m not blaming DG.  She has every right to share her perspective and opinions.  And, I love that she does. I believe her motivation was to speak reason.  What I’m not sure she fully appreciates is the power her words wield in the fan-dom. When she speaks it becomes gospel. It is as if word has come down from on high. Despite what she intended, it’s obvious that her words will be used as a justification to destroy free-thinking.  The response to her post leads me to believe that her words are being interpreted as a “set down”.  I’m seeing a shift from, “isn’t it wonderful how we are able to share our ideas” to “It’s us against them”.

You’ve all heard the term “Poutlander”.  Definition: Poutlander; noun, a fan of the Outlander series of books who is still complaining about who was cast for the TV series a year after production has commenced and still doesn’t think Claire’s rump is round enough or Jamie’s hair is red.

How about this term you may not have heard, “Sheeplander”?   Defintion: Sheeplander; noun, a fan of the Outlander series of books who refuses to accept that the Outlander TV series may not be perfect and feels the need to start every sentence with ” The show is different from the book”.  It is rumored that they may believe that Diana and Ron actually poop rainbows. All those who dare vocalize a concern are deemed disloyal haters or nitpickers who need to die! (ok, maybe not die, but they sure want them to shut up).

I wouldn’t feel good about being lumped into either one of these groups.

I’m sure Ms. Gabaldon was trying to help the situation.  I believe that she was trying to clarify and explain what happens in an adaptation.  I’m sure she is baffled by what she perceives as a stubborn refusal by some to let go of small details and changes.  But…no good deed/idea goes unpunished.  Diana’s choosing to make her “opinion” of the TV series know is tantamount to Lincoln saying all men are created equal.  How do you argue with what the author thinks?!  “Well, Diana says….”  will become the battle cry of all those who want to put dissenters in “their place”.  Discourse about the show will be reduced to re-caps with cute quips, pictures of the actors’ various facial expressions and pictures of Sam’s butt. ( not that I don’t enjoy laughing or looking)   And of course….praise for the genius of all involved.

I discussed my fear that an intelligent discussion of the shows’ merits and failings was being threatened. A friend and fellow fan, who happens to be very asute at cutting through bullshite and seeing situations clearly, told me it was going to get more and more difficult to say you didn’t like something about the show.  Clearly more cynical than myself, she believes that there is too much on the line for anyone in the fan-dom to express disatisfaction without impunity. She believes that unless you are getting paid to be a critic anyone who doesn’t “love” every thing and everyone involved will be ostrasized.  I don’t want to believe that is true.  I kinda of hoped that the fact people cared enough to discuss the show was reason enough to believe the show was worth watching.  “You know…Outlander…that show everyone is talking about.”  But, instead this atmosphere of intolerance of others ideas and feelings is starting to remind me of something…blind loyalty…mindless fanaticism…..hmmmmm.  Anybody remember some really bad movies about a teenage girl and her vampire boyfriend?  Shiver  

So…here’s my early Christmas list.  Tolerance. Manners. Open-minds.

And a pile of rainbow poop cuz I’d really like to see some.
Word count: 444   Last e

Watching Outlander….my way.

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imageSo….the smallest blog post I’ve ever written about the Outlander book and tv series has resulted in a lot of discussion and …some shite.  I feel kinda bad about that, but evidently there were a lot of people in the fandom that were feeling the same as me…they were just afraid to say so.

And rightfully so. There seems to be a double standard.  It is okay to discuss the books, pull them a part and speculate, but not the show. Anyone who didn’t actually like something about an episode is risking being villified if they dare express their dissatisfaction.

At the risk of sounding hypocritical, I need to clarify. I have little patience for those folks who are still stuck on Jamie’s hair color, Claire’s height, etc…I will not tolerate personal attacks on the cast, producers, writers, etc.. (I actually had someone complain on my blog about the shape of Cait’s breasts…I was outraged).  What I’m talking about is conversations that people would naturally have over a beloved book turned into a movie/tvshow: character depiction, plot development, dialogue.  I believe these are reasonable and expected topics for discussion.

Once again putting myself at risk, I believe that anyone in disagreement or dissatisfied with a part of the series is being labeled as disloyal or …Gasp…ungrateful. I’m extremely grateful! I love the show, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to like everything. And it also doesn’t mean I’m going to keep quiet or not watch as some folks have suggested.  One of the things I find most ironic and kinda of funny about this whole thing is what usually happens when I dare to speak “blasphemy”. What usually happens is that I get a lot of respectful responses that challenge my thinking and as a result, I often gain some new perspective! I can assure you that doesn’t happen when people tell me to quit being negative. And, if you have read my blog before you know I’ve written way more blogs praising the show than criticizing it!

So….this leads me to my inspiration for writing today.  I’ve noticed a peculiar pattern in people’s responses.  People keep pointing out that the books and the show are entirely separate. In fact, they say they are separate entities!  They then go on to prove their point about character or plot development by “QUOTING THE BOOK”.  You can’t have it both ways people! If it is, in fact, a show based on a book then it is natural to make comparisons.  I believe the unrealistic expectation here is the belief that the show IS the book or ….should be.

We have been lead to believe that the producers and writers  are fans of the book and that they want to do the book honor. They have assured us that despite making changes to our beloved story for the needs of visual media, they fully intend to tell the story of our Claire and her Jamie. They will have to sometimes change timelines, plot elements, scenes and dialogue, but have promised to bring everything back around to get the story where it needs to go. Admittedly some of us are a little worried about that.  Diana has tried to allay some of our fears by reminding us these are very talented people at the helm. She admonished us to not “catastroph-ize”  the future of the show based on what we’ve seen. She doesn’t see any basis/proof for not believing the story will be told in a way that will satisfy. With all due respect to Herself…I might feel more confident if I’d had access to the scripts and film!  But, she said it, so I’ll believe it and bide my time.  Which I think she finds pretty amusing.  She noted we’re complaining, but we can’t wait for April 4th <g> !  I remember Ron telling a similar little story about his fans writing to tell him that they hated an episode and hated it every time they watched it….again.  Funny lot us fans.

I’ve admitted several times that it is difficult for me to just let go and watch the film for its own self…an adaptation.  Herself said if you can’t you’ll ruin the experience for yourself.  She is probably right because I find myself jealous of newbies and people who have never read the books.  While strolling through Compuserve today (I said strolling not trolling) , I happened upon a similar conversation between the “I love everythings” and the “gotta few worries”.   One particular response caught my eye.  The writer had come to the conclusion that she was never going to be happy with the show.  She just couldn’t be because she had too many expectations that were never going to be met.  So…she let it go. She no longer scans the internet for news or counts the days till the next episode. In fact, I’m pretty sure she said she stopped watching.  She made a point to say she would probably finish watching out of curiosity, but probably wait until the season was over so she could watch it all at once. Because…it wasn’t her book it was just another tv show.  For her they ARE two separate entities. For the rest of us, I would guess we are somewhere in between. We are watching because of the book and our chance to see our favorite characters and story come to life.

Maybe the show isn’t turning out exactly as I hoped sometimes because Diana isn’t telling the story.  Ron, the experienced visual story teller, is telling the story.  My Claire and Jamie and Black Jack and Frank are walking around in the flesh!  We’ve waited forever for this!  So, if you all don’t mind, I’ll keep watching and maybe I’ll express some disappointment from time to time.  And, if Ron and crew pull this off, I’ll write the biggest apology note I can muster for ever doubting their genius!   Will it all work out? “It would be pretty to think so”.

Frank and Claire, soul mates …..Episode 8

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imageI couldn’t watch it through a second time.  I shut it off. I thought perhaps sleep would help my perspective. It has cooled my ire enough to write. I really wasn’t sure I would write anything about this episode because I felt too conflicted, too….angry.

First, let me say that if I DIDN’T know the rest of the story,  I’d think this was a great episode.  Lots of action and conflict for our Heroine Claire. Beautifully acted. Beautifully filmed. But, I do know the rest of the story. And this isn’t taking me there.

So, what is the big problem…Jamie…again.  Who is supposed to be Claire’s soul-mate?  Jamie or Frank? I understand Ron Moore wanted Claire’s decision to feel real, so he decided to put more about Frank into the story.  I was all for that decision, until now.  Once again I ask, “where’s Jamie?”.

In my humble opinion, as a reader and viewer, Both Sides Now should have been One Fine Day. I understand this is an adaptation and I know things must be changed and somethings left out.  However, I’m pretty sure what should not be left out is the growth in Jamie and Claire’s relationship.  Of all the wonderful tender and revealing moments that happened  the couple of days following the wedding we get “hoor-rocks”? I understand that it advanced the story…Jamie needed to leave Claire for the chance to change their future.  I get that….great.  But, why so much Frank and so little Jamie and Claire?  One of reasons I was so excited that this was a 16 episode series was that their would be time as Mr. Moore said to keep,” all the things people love about these books”.  The main thing I love about these books is the relationship between Jamie and Claire.

And my favorite lines….. “Does the wanting ever stop” was changed from awed and tender wonder to when will I stop being horny? Arrgh! Maybe my love for the books has made it impossible for me to enjoy this show?  As my husband was kind enough to point out this morning, ” You knew this was going to happen why are you surprised? The movie can never be as good as the book”…… Yeah….I know that….

What they do for love……the different faces of passion in Outlander.

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It is said that love makes the world go round.  It seems to me that everyone involved in the Outlander phenomenon from cast to crew to producers and from characters to author to fans are motivated by this sentiment.  I read a recent interview with Terry Dresbach Outlander Costume Designer and wife of Outlander Executive Producer Ron Moore, in which she discusses the fact that she has some influence on her husband’s decisions in regards to the show.  What follows is a pretty amusing, but comfortingly familiar domestic scene.  They are in bed arguing into the wee hours of the night about how best to tell the story of Claire and Jamie! Pretty sure I’ve had the same experience, maybe not about Outlander, but the scene she painted felt very real to me and very telling of their relationship and shared passion for what they do. They are motivated by love and respect for each other’s talents and opinions.

The cast appears to be motivated by a passion for the craft of acting. They love what they do as evidenced by the sacrifices and discomforts they are willing to suffer to bring Outlander’s characters to life.  Hours in the make-up chair to make scars look real, filming for hours in a shift in the bitter cold and at least a week of rehearsing sex scenes with an extremely good-looking co-star <g> are just a few examples of what these actors have to endure for love.

Seeing the relationship blossoming. between our two main characters has been wonderful, but today I find myself thinking of the others.  I’ve been thinking about Murtaugh, Gellis, the MacKenzie brothers, Father Bain, Loaghaire and Black Jack.  I’ve been thinking about what they all have in common.  They are all motivated by the same thing….love.  Now, what they love varies significantly, as does how they react to their desires, but love it is!  The song lyrics, “what I’d do for love” keep running through my head. Definite ear worm.

So, what is it they “do” for love:

The MacKenzie brothers:

The brothers share a love, they love the clan MacKenzie.  What they’ll do to protect the clan, and their place in it,  falls nothing short of murder.  Ron Moore and his crew are doing a great job of developing this part of the story-line. Claire wouldn’t be let go until the brothers could be sure she was no threat and if they could make use of her healing skills along the way, so be it.  Lucky, for them Claire is a healer and a kind person.  If I was being held prisoner I’m not sure I’d be as generous with my skills. But, …then Colum did almost knife a tailor and Dougal promised to slit her throat….so maybe I wouldn’t poison anybody either.  She didn’t score any points with the Hamish thing either.  The viewer KNOWS something’s up with that!  Thanks to the awkward silence and significant looks between everyone in the hall!  And, Jamie? That boy better watch his back! Even my Dear  husband, a devout non-reader, could pick up on the strain between those three.  The marriage may keep Claire safe from Black Jack Randall, but Dougal and Colum?  What will the brothers do for love? Anything they need to!

Murtaugh:

The viewer really doesn’t know much about Murtaugh except that he’s on Jamie’s side.  What the reader knows is that Murtaugh is motivated by love too.  Murtaugh loved Ellen, Jamie’s mother.  That love of course was unrequited because Ellen loved Brian, Jamie’s father.  Instead of feeling bitter, Murtaugh chose to continue to love Ellen and serve her the only way he could and that was by loving and protecting her child.  I’m not sure Jamie even knows, but eventually Claire figures it out.  What will Murtaugh do for love? Serve.

Loghaire:

Currently, what the viewer sees is a pretty young girl with a crush throwing herself at a man’s head.  Not unusual or terribly threatening. Or, is it? (Said in an ominous tone, with accompaniment of way foreshadowy music) Be leery of Loaghaire she’s green with envy. What will “Leery” do for love? Hmmmm, for Jamie? I know whàt I’d do (wink wink).

Gellis:

This is a tough one to talk about without giving away a major story point.  Suffice it to say that “the witch” has a lot of secrets and a love she is willing to sacrifice a normal life to obtain.  Complicated and convoluted is our Gellis.  I believe she said her husband had, “no notion of guile”.  Well, she sure does. In fact, she could probably teach a master’s level course, Gellis’ Guide to Mastering Guile. What would she do for love? More than you can imagine. Girls a freak!

Father Bain:

I’ve heard stories from friends who were Catholic school children that make me believe that Father Bain’s zeal is not unusual.  My friends may not have had an ear nailed to a pillory in an effort to save their souls, but they have nursed a few ruler rapped and bleeding knuckles.  Father Bain’s love for God is very real which makes him all the more frightening and threatening. His extremely legalistic faith stresses the idea that nothing is more important than loving people enough to save their souls.  And, if that means chopping off a hand or two so be it!  Father Bain’s love compels him to destroy any perceived threat to his parish.

Black Jack Randall:

It is difficult to imagine that BJR is motivated by love.  I don’t think we can easily place our selves in his mind set.  Finding beauty in Jamie’s mutilated back doesn’t make sense to us and signals that Jack may have crossed a line from which there is no return.  People make sense of their experiences as best they can.  Jack copes with his disappointing life by choosing to embrace anarchy.  His version of love is a black twisted mutilated thing.  He now lives and loves to hate the “very world itself”.

If Outlander is the example, then it appears that love is all that really matters. If that is the case, then I am rich because my life is full of things to love…including Outlander.