For Siblings Day…Jamie and Jenny!

Standard

0fc9b0f334ac09f7f6e27fe10da451f5

For some reason this blog was lost!  One of my Readers, Julie Terstriep, wrote to say she remembered the post and thought it would be great to re post for Siblings Day.  Except she couldn’t find it on the blog!  I looked and neither could I!  Luckily for me, Julie had made a PDF because she wanted her husband to read it!  So, here it is in all its unvarnished (PDF) glory in honor of our favorite siblings.  Thanks Julie!

Jamie and Jenny for siblings day

Siblings…..a look at Jam…r _ Well…..I Think.. (1)

Feeling grateful…for Diana’s impact

Standard

 

random.jpg

I just watched a video of Diana Gabaldon speaking at an open house for Random House Publishing.  She was her own delightful self.  I love her laugh which is what I would describe as a chuckle.  She laughs  quite often and I love that about her.  I love that she seems to find the humor in almost any situation and can laugh at life’s ironies.  I also love that she can still be touched by a readers’ expression of gratitude after twenty-eight years of adoration.  The very last question of the open house was asked by an audience member.  We never got to see her face, but the sincerity in her voice when she expressed how profoundly the books had impacted her life and lives of millions of others caused my eyes to tear because my own life has been deeply and positively impacted by Diana’s story. The fan asked Diana how it felt as an artist to know your efforts had this kind of impact.  Diana was obviously moved by the question and shared a personal story.

She said as a writer you cannot write with the intent to affect people because you don’t know if what you write will have an affect.  You can only do your best and if you are lucky you will positively affect people.  She then went on to explain a bit more about how she knew she was meant to be a writer at eight years old.  She was raised in a Catholic home and attended a Catholic school.  She said she was riding in a car with her parents and was trying on prayer talking to God when things were quiet.  She said she told him she thought that what she wanted to do was write the kind of books that lift people up and that God told her that was okay.  The audience clapped as she finished her voice quieted with emotion.

Because of my blog, I’ve been fortunate to hear many stories of how Diana’s books about a man and a woman who strive to love unconditionally and live with integrity have impacted lives.  A comment I often hear said about Outlander’s characters is they feel like family and that readers have found solace and inspiration in Jamie and Claire’s struggles and victories. From marriages, to forgiveness, to how to deal with tragedy, the story has had a profound affect on lives. Personally, I have jokingly said that Outlander has become my point of reference.  All questions can be answered with an example from Outlander!  This is one of the benefits of reading a big book with substantive plots and nuanced characters that evolve over time.  The relationships and people in her stories feel real.  So real, in fact, I’ve been accused of writing about them as if they were actual people.  I’ll own up to that accusation and add that my ability to analyze these characters is a testament to Diana’s skill as a writer.  They are as close to real people as I have ever read.  These books make me feel and think and laugh and cry, nod my head in recognition of life’s truths, and sometimes find peace escaping with Claire through the stones.

Outlander has become more than my favorite story.  It has been a catalyst in my life.  I discovered my love of writing because of Outlander.  I have new friends because of Outlander.  I have gained new experiences and taken chances that resulted in my life being enriched because of Outlander.  For instance, this week Nataly Shlenzina, who administers an Outlander fan blog and page in Russia, wrote to ask if I would wish one of their members a happy birthday.  She shared that the birthday girl is my own Russian translator.   Julia Corovina of Krasnoyarsk, Siberia translates my articles for the fans in Russia. Julia teaches at an Art College and I’m told even when she is very busy she asks that they not give my articles to anyone else because she is fond of translating them.  The fan group is called OutlanderVK  it’s a Russian social network like  .  I am always a bit amazed when people write me about what I write!  It is very encouraging.  Like Diana has said, “that stuff is like catnip for writers!” I think I’ve gotten a small taste of what she must feel when people thank her for her writing.  It is very humbling to know people enjoy what you write. You all, I’m being translated into Russian!!!!!!

julia2.jpg

Thank you Julia!

I am certainly not the only one who has been inspired to create in this fandom  I just got back from The Thru The Stone fan convention in Iowa and the creativity and love for Outlander was everywhere! I was so impressed I just had to let Diana know!

 

This was such a great experience that happened all because you wrote a book Diana Gabaldon!  http://wp.me/p4mtBT-5db

Comments
Diana Gabaldon
 
Diana Gabaldon The way that readers (and show fans) all find each other, and the wonderful flowerings of creativity and love that happen as a result are just amazing–and while I have no idea why this happens, I’m very grateful that it does! So pleased that you (and everyone else, by the sound of it) had a good time!

 

I am only too aware of who I have to thank for my blog and my discovered love of writing, Outlander and …God… for telling a little eight year old girl that her dream of being a writer was okay.

Thank you Diana for sharing your gifts with us… xoxo.

The Thru The Stones Convention…part 2

Standard

living in moments…

15267704_571334533064488_9186189592164247955_n.jpg

My friend Jane Anne Davis had arrived from Atlanta hours before me and was on her lonesome.  I messaged her periodically to see how she was faring and to report my ETA. We hadn’t seen each other in over a year and a half and in the meantime, Jane had kicked not one, but two types of cancers’ ass! This was going to be our little celebratory break from real-life and we were anticipating lots of laughter and downright silliness! She was a little concerned because she had tried to make friendly overtures, but was feeling like a wallflower at a jr. high dance.  I arrived at the hotel and promptly went to our room. I couldn’t figure out why Jane wasn’t answering my insistent knocks and so, I called her.  We both figured out pretty quickly why I wasn’t standing in front of the door she had just opened and I was thankful no one was home in room 7002 and then drug my travel disheveled self down the hall to the elevators, across the lobby, past the gift shop, desk, casino, buffet, snack shop, and onto the elevator that would take me to room 702.  This time when I knocked Jane answered and I dragged my huge suitcase that had lost a leg somewhere in the airport into the room, I let go of the suitcase that promptly fell over cuz…missing leg and gave Jane a big hug!

“We are going to push each other to talk to everyone!”, I pronounced. “We are going to make sure we have fun!”

And we did!  When folks walked by us the next morning, we tried to guess who was there for the convention. We decided plaid was a fairly predictable clue and if you were wearing plaid/tartan sorry about your luck, but we were talking to you!  Some folks weren’t too hard to figure out. Their Outlander and Through the Stones matching T-shirts were dead giveaways. We met a lovely couple who had never read the books, but were here because of the TV series and had the costumes to prove it!

image

We joked that her husband looked enough like Ron Moore to be his brother!  We then talked with a lovely lady who was a retired jr. high science teacher.  She was sporting a fun vest chock full of Outlander pins and patches.  She told us she loved Outlander’s historical aspects and that she spent a lot of her time volunteering.  She shared with us that her team (the Hoosier Honeypots) had a plan to win the trivia contest and therefore, dinner with Terry Dresbach!  She showed us a copy of a book of questions she had created and had been studying.  I think she said there were 800 questions! I’m not sure if her group won, but she looked like she was going to have a blast anyway!  They had a rooting section with signs!

image

Eventually, we made our way to lunch where I happened upon folks I talk to very frequently on Twitter, but had never met! Sitting with Cyndi Hayes was Carole Braun and her friend Sandy Dawar and Jill Shirley.  I just kept looking at these folks I felt I knew!  It was a bit surreal. I told Jill she looked awfully familiar to me and I kept feeling like we had met before. We talked for a little bit about attending the event and I happened to mention going to NYC Tartan Week.  Suddenly, Jill jumped up and hugged me as she realized we had stood beside each other at the Tartan Week parade!  Small world isn’t it when you are an Outlander fan? I had a lovely time getting to know Jill and listening to her stories about meeting Ron Moore at the ball park in California!  Meeting likeminded folks and my Twitter friends were some of the great moments that TTS afforded me.

me and jill.jpg

ME AND JILL LAUGHING JUST BECAUSE

We walked over to the convention center to register and peruse the goods for sale at Beardsley’s Trading Post. I found a sweet pair of thistle earrings to match the necklace my husband bought me last year!  There was a great mixture of items including a place to swap books!

book swap.jpg

TRIVA!

The next big event of the day was the Trivia contest!  Jane Anne and I had decided that we were just playing for kicks and giggles (even though I AM pretty bad-ass at trivia because I seem to know a lot of worthless and obscure shite) so, when I saw Mother Hildegarde’s Novices was looking for four members that just wanted to have fun we asked to join!  What a great bunch of ladies!  They evidently knew what was up because they came with decorations and gift bags and some food! Buton was laid in the center of our table on a swathe of plaid and our gift bags included a Starbucks card, chocolates and some homemade cherry bounce!  I think I’ve made some new Outlander friends in Terri Somgynari, Sandra Hicks and Carla Jasinski!

 

I was just biting into a piece of gifted shortbread when I heard my name being called.  It was fellow blogger Connie Verzak and I stood up and braced myself for the hug she had warned me I was going to get!  And, the answer to your question is yes, she is just as funny in person along with being warm, kind, and wicked smart.  This was one of my favorite moments!  Just sitting and laughing with Connie and her friends was one of the highlights of my weekend.  She is truly a unique person and I loved meeting her!

me and connie.jpg

CONNIE AND I

Mother Hildegarde’s Novices laughed our way through the first round of trivia and then we heard some clapping.  On stage stood Terry Dresbach wishing everyone a good time. I have to say meeting Terry was “THE” moment for me.  Like a lot of other fans, I’ve been interacting with Terry on Twitter for quite a while now. She is just who I thought she was kind, gracious, beautiful, funny, wise, and talented.  The woman has confidence and personality to spare! Terry went from table to table greeting everyone. I’m sure she could feel the love and wanted to make sure everyone knew it was reciprocated.

me-jane-and-terry

JANE ANNE, TERRY AND ME

Trivia was fun and challenging! We headed back to our rooms at the end of the night feeling like we had been part of a moment of love for Diana Gabaldon’s story.  A lot of people knew a lot about those books.  Me thinks perhaps we have all read them a few times!

SATURDAY

The next day started early, I think I was too excited to sleep for long! We headed out to get breakfast and then find our first workshop class.  We found a seat around the big fireplace in the north tower lobby and wondered how this was going to work.  A large group of us were here to “talk” about Outlander.  The lady who was leading the class was a neighbor of Debbie Ford’s. She said she was taking credit for introducing Debbie to the books and therefore planting the seed that lead to TTS!  I noticed that she had what appeared to be a list of discussion topics in her hand.  It was a fairly large list and I once again admired the attention to detail and thought that went into preparing for this conference.  I had to laugh because she only got to ask one maybe two questions because if you give an Outlander fan an inch to talk about Outlander we’ll take a mile!   It was fascinating learning about how folks found the books and what the story and series had contributed to their lives.  As per usual, we agreed on our love for the series, but EVERYONE had different ideas about how successfully those books had been transferred to the screen. I think we all agreed to disagree and despite our different opinions, I left feeling part of a very large, diverse group of folks who were passionate about this story!

GUYS TIES.png

The next class for us was the improv group.  There were other classes available that included everything from whiskey tasting (at 8:30 in the morning) to sword fighting! I was starting to feel a bit nervous as it was getting closer to time for my very first press conference.  I asked Jane for a few minutes to gather my nerves and she went ahead.  I sat in the lobby going over my questions and testing my tape recorder.  I heard a group of people behind me discussing the show and books and looked over to see several men in ties talking to a lady who was gushing about how if they loved the show they needed to read the books!  I checked the name of the room I was supposed to be in for the press conference for about the fifth time and decided I was as prepared as I was ever going to be and headed in for the comedy show.  As I was speaking to Jane, the troupe came into the room.  It was the men in ties from the lobby who called themselves “Guys In Ties”.  They were great and made sure to let everyone know they had watched the show and were addicted.  They asked the audience for help with the improv topics and we are a sick bunch, LOL!  They seemed a bit taken back and I loved it!  This comedic moment was just what I needed.  After it was over, Jane headed for the Scottish themed lunch and I to the press conference.  If you missed it here is my blog on that conference (link).

Loved the quilt presented to Terry by the Bonnie Beasties fan club after the press conference.  Deann Roberts shared that they have previously created quilts for Sam Heughan and Cait Balfe and their group wanted to create one in appreciation of Ron and Terry.  Squares with Outlander themes and messages to Terry and Ron were sent from all over the world  and then stitched together and quilted.  I overheard one of their group members say they wanted to “cover them in kindness” and I thought that was so sweet.

Soon everyone filed into the ballroom and found a seat for Terry’s talk on Saturday afternoon. It was perfect. She just sat down and shared. In this moment, people felt like they had gotten to know her a bit better and found her be funny, genuine, and approachable.  She said she understood that the fans were coming from a place of love.  That all that she had seen was about love. And, I have to say, everyone I talked to loved her.  In fact, I asked some attendees to share their perceptions and I’d like to share a few of their responses!

Kristen Leigh Stiner:  I thought her talk was amazing!! The way she lit up speaking about her husband and children warmed my soul!! If I had a do-over I would want to thank her for being such a strong and powerful woman!! She is truly a champion for us all yet is so very humble!! I loved her before but now she is one of my favorite people!!

Terri Somgynari : I absolutely loved how she got all emotional and teary-eyed when she talked about Ron and her children!
It was the best part..knowing how much she loves them!

Gina Kutter: Terry allows us to see the real person and real life of our favorite costume designer! She draws us in to the Outlander family with her insights and tidbits! She embodies that Outlander truly is all about love!

Mary Alberg Faber: She is so funny and warm. The thing that struck me is how much she seemed to enjoy being there, and with us. Her attitute is inspiritional. Just watching the joy in her face when talking about Ron, the show, the stars, etc. gives me joy, in return. It was like talking to your best friend. (Oh yeah, she’s a fan – maybe a bit of a closet fan; not quite at the totally obsessed stage.)

Janice Schurr:  I, too, am not a “fangirl”. I don’t order t-hirts, or jewelry, or any of that stuff, although I’ve made donations to charities. I’ve never attended a fan gathering. But, this was more than that – it truly felt like a gathering of friends. Like a giant bookclub, where we all could express our opinions and share our love of the show and the guests. Plus, Debbie Belshause Ford and her crew made it seem personal – not just something put on by an organization or PR force, but something done by true fans. I think Terry’s chat fit the group so well. It was like sitting around your living room chatting with a friend, not a “canned speech”. And Grant, with his lovely sense of humor, was so personable and seemed to so like being there, despite his adventures in travel!

Thrynn Kirby: Was incredibly flattered to see her put as much energy and attention into sharing herself and our wonderful gathering as she does with everything . This was no fly by visit. This was one HUGE HUG from a fabulous lady. I am a fan ( read as one who loves) Ron is right. She does make the sun come out!

Tina Schröder Eakins:  I loved that Terry SAW us. Not just as a group of fans, but as individuals. I really felt she was there for a chat, sitting on a chair, rather than a speaker.

Tammy Petree Proux:  I was unsure what my opinion of her was before the convention. I just know that I loved the previous convention and the fun we had. I trusted in Debbie Belshause Ford to bring great people to everyone (along with great times). I was impressed with how normal, like all of us Terry seems to be. She was extremely approachable. I loved that she came and mingled with all of us during trivia competition; I know we were all caught by surprise. She has a normal relationship with her husband. I enjoyed her relating of stories of her family; the stories of Ron and his Disney love. There are so many things. I imagine she has some interesting views on politics, but it was good that it was left out of this arena. (Though I would have loved to discuss with her as I’m sure we’re on the same page lol.)

Susan Hundt:  I really appreciated her candor and her insights on fandom, especially coming to the conclusion that it is all about love.

Helen Kratzer Lyness:  The instant connection we find with others at this event is amazing! Meet a stranger walking along with you in the hallway or in the elevator and they are immediate friends as you begin to talk about all the things you have in common. “Where are you from?” “Are you a book reader, or a show watcher?” When did YOU discover the books?” “Who turned you on to the books, or the show?” “Do you love Dougal or hate him?” What is your favorite part of Book One?” and so on . . . we have a new friend, connected in one moment, now friends forever! Thru the Stones does that for us!

I think that Terry has been adopted into the fandom.

SAT NIGHT WAS ALRIGHT!

Saturday night was the culminating event and we were treated to a Parisian dinner!

pig.jpg

photo credit Becky Wiley

Each item on the menu had a connection to the books.  I really liked the Chicken Dargentan that perhaps the Countess St. Germain liked!  People wandered the room in costumes from the various time periods in the books.  This was so great!  There was such a huge variety of costume choices!  Some folks were all out Parisian!

15356605_10102385437291538_8295172952024920183_n.jpg

Others chose Scotland and a salute to the Jacobites…

prince-charlie

Others were rocking 1700’s Scotland, the 1940’s, and 1968.  I was impressed and I think Terry was too!

terry-costumes

photo credits to Becky Wiley (aren’t they terrific!)

The creativity Terry’s designs inspired felt like a love letter to her art and talent!  It was hard to pick, but I have to say I had my favorites. Cyndi Hayes WWII nurse Claire walked around the banquet swilling champagne and making us all smile in delight!

cyndi and Carole.jpg

Carole Braun’s version of Frank was a hoot and I loved how he kept trying to keep “drinking” Claire in line.

roger.jpg

photo credits Becky Wiley

Yvonne Cloonan as Wee Roger with his biscuits in hand made us all clap in happy recognition.

There were a couple of renditions of the bar suit

image

and I loved the “deed” lady and 1968 Claire in trench coat and head scarf!

claire-and-document

Missy Hermes as the deed of sasine lady and Julie Chenoweth Tierstriep as Claire

Terry shared on Twitter a delightful pair of sneakers done up by Karen Boilard as a homage to the red shoes and an 88 year old fan dressed as Claire who had captured her heart!

Every time you turned around, someone’s ingenuity and attention to detail caused you to drop your jaw, laugh and smile.  I’m so grateful for this bunch!  They really added to the spirit of the convention and the fun.

THIS MAN WAS SERIOUSLY ENTERTAINING

Grant O’Rourke was the keynote speaker and I have to say I haven’t been that entertained by a “speech” in a long time.   I can’t think of a moment that lagged.  I found myself mesmerized and leaning forward to hear what funny, self-deprecating, and delightful thing he would say next.  I think we were all moved by his definition of what it was like to be a Dad to his “wee man”.  “It’s like falling in love everyday”, he explained.  His description of his talking Star Trek with Ron Moore was priceless.  His failed joke had me laughing so hard I was crying.  The silence, he added, in response to his comment was so deafening that even crickets backed out of the room. I would chortle about this at random moments throughout the rest of my trip.

grant and terry.jpg

photo credit Becky Wiley

There were some charming moments in the Q&A with Grant and Terry and the evening was rounded out with a meet and greet and dessert.

autograph.jpg

photo credit Heather Frey

THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES

I had some difficulty getting home (many of us did).  It snowed!  I said goodbye to Jane and thanked her for a lovely weekend and headed for the airport at 8:30 am.

Cy201v0XEAAaIwh.jpg-large.jpg

At about one, I saw Jane again…at the airport where I got a very spicy Bloody Mary and we “punch drunk” tweeted other people who were “stuck in Iowa”.

Cy2q1NjUAAAx3QI.jpg

Even Grant got delayed and ended up going home with Debbie Ford.  I loved the idea of him spending time with a Midwest family and giggled at the image of him riding in a big four-wheel drive truck (they had to talk him out of climbing into the back!). After several cancelled flights and sitting on the tarmac until they cleaned up the birds Jane’s plane had hit, I finally made it home.  I pulled into my driveway in Ohio around 2:10 am tired, but full of the joy of living some great moments.

Thanks TTS.

P.S. Please, I’d love to hear about your favorite moments in the comments!

ABOotlander LOVE with Beth Wesson

Standard

Thank you to Abootlanders for including me in your celebration of Love!

AB-Ootlanders

We, the ABOotlanders have been up to something in this fandom since we stuck our noses into it.  It’s about positive energy & intent, support and basic kindness.  We are lucky that so many others are in it with us.

giphy Like ferrets in a ball pit. FUN FUN FUN

Love & Kindness are things we all can use more of and the law of attraction is something we practice so every two weeks in our bubble of the interwebs you will see us celebrating!

Celebrating what you ask? I am so glad you did…we are celebrating Outlander bloggers, podcasters, fans, cast, crew, twitterers…you know people we associate with Outlander that we also associate with the positive energy & kindness.

The people we have enjoyed following & sharing our interwebish experiences with.  We hope you join us and share with us your wonderful experiences in our comments section.

You may recognize our…

View original post 1,458 more words

Why that damn EW cover still bothers me…a look at Outlander’s image

Standard

 

Image result for chick flicks

As happens so many times when I sit down to write, the coincidences just keep piling on and I am left trying to make sense of it all.  It started with my pique at Outlander being left off of the Emmy voters radar and then was fueled by some Tweets about reasons for watching or not watching the show, articles that continue to play up the “bodice ripper” label, and the devaluing of women…always the devaluing of women.  I’m not sure I have answers, but I definitely have some concerns and frustrations.

What I’ve been thinking

image

Let me start by saying, I understand that there is a lot of good television out there right now and that is a good thing.  In my opinion, cable TV has broken out of the box of standard TV fare and opened up a world of edgy and varied programs that appeal to once marginalized audiences and interests.  Obviously, the market will support their efforts because the ratings and money seems to be flowing in cable TV’s direction.  I understand the competition for awards is complicated by the sheer amount of good TV to watch, but I cannot believe that the performances on Outlander were not worthy of awards.  How anyone could not be moved by the episode “Faith’ and the shows’ treatment of such heartbreaking material is beyond me.

outlander-2x07-faith-2706

I can only conclude that they didn’t watch it or that the speculation that Emmy voters tend to give votes for their impression of an entire series over individual performances is true. 

…academy rules insist that voters use tunnel vision when casting their ballots. They are told to base their judgments solely on the handful of episodes that actors, writers and producers submit for consideration. Just as jurors are only supposed to make their decisions without taking events outside the courtroom into account, Emmy voters are supposed to disregard knowledge of a series as a whole….

Nonetheless, Mr. Klein said, “I can’t say that a fondness for the series itself isn’t a factor.”

Ms. Cummings echoed that perspective. “That’s something you’re not supposed to do,” she admitted. “You’re supposed to just vote on specific episodes. But if you’re familiar with it, and you know the work on it is consistent, it’s hard not to think of the entire series itself.”  http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/24/arts/television/emmy-voters-talk-about-sizing-up-the-nominees.html?_r=0

And, if they tend to vote for series that have a good reputation then Outlander is screwed because I think it has an image problem.  I believe the series is not taken seriously and I think it all has to do with our society’s value of women…

What I think about what others are thinking

So, I’ve been feeling a bit more than bemused by Outlander being ignored by the Emmy voters (even though I know lots of great shows never get awards), but trying to reassure myself that it is just a matter of time because there is a lot of story to tell and more people are jumping on the Outlander bandwagon than just book readers. Lately, I’ve been seeing re tweets of actors, producers, and generally famous people who have gone on record to say they finally watched the show and just wanted to let folks know how great it is!  These tweets are usually couched in a tone of surprise.

image

I’m tickled to death that these folks found the series enjoyable.  I love the show and find myself sporting a smug grin when I read of another famous convert because we’ve been telling folks this is a great story all along.  However, upon reflection, I think what we book fans turned series fans have actually been doing is defending the series.  Which brings me back to one of my original points. People are surprised to find they like Outlander and fans feel the need to defend the show because it has an image problem.

Here is just one example that lends some validity to my claim that the perception of Outlander is other than what I believe the show is actually about. I was perusing my Twitter feed when I came across a re tweet of what I presumed to be another celebrity endorsement of the show.

image

Neil calls himself an adopted Scot and is a journalist, novelist, radio broadcaster, film-maker and an Editor for the Sunday Herald (busy guy) and professed lover of Horror films. Originally, I skimmed over this re tweet, but then did a double take.  It didn’t seem as positive on second glance and so, I delved a bit further.image

Hmmmm…….

image

Now, I’m intrigued and ventured to interact with these folks, but first I had to Google Mills and Boon…yep, as I suspected it’s the UK version of Harlequin…

image

Hmmmm….and the “Fifty Shades of Tartan”?…

 

image

Admiring my restraint aren’t you?  The key words in this scenario are “Mills and Boon”,  “Fifty Shades of Tartan” and marketing.  The perception that the show is Harlequin style women’s porn “guff” persists.  Here are just a few of the articles I found when I Googled Outlander, bodice ripper, and kilt.

http://www.salon.com/2015/04/06/spanking_on_outlander_the_outrage_and_the_turn_on_of_the_bodice_ripper_tradition/

http://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2014/07/starz-outlander-more-than-a-bodice-ripper

http://decider.com/2015/03/28/10-sexy-bodice-rippers/

http://time.com/3089580/outlander-recap-episode-1/

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-37467296

The label is consistently and extensively used and a lot of these articles are defending the show too! Why?

Why I think people think what they think

untitled

Mr. Mackay isn’t the first person to be surprised at the show’s actual content.  I’m thinking of a particular TV critic who was angry the show had serious themes because that wasn’t what she was “led” to believe the show was about! Neil said he got his ideas about the show from marketing and talking about marketing always brings me back to that EW cover.  Last season, this campaign aimed to bring new viewers to the fold and take advantage of a huge and enthusiastic fan-base to sell magazines by playing up the sex and romance in the show. Because, …what else could women possibly be interested in?  If you finished watching season 2 you know just how ironic the hoopla over this cover was.

If this was the marketing Mr. Mackay and Ms. Kane saw for the show then  I’m pretty sure the jump to Boon and Mills and “Fifty Shades of Tartan” wasn’t too strenuous a leap.  I remember when I first saw trailers and teases for the show begin to appear on my TV.  In my excitement, I failed to notice what my husband did, “They are selling sex”.  I took a look with new eyes and found it hard to deny there was a focus on flesh and romance in these clips.

Image result for claire fixes jamie's shoulder

The were selling sex and the perception that this show is only about sex persists because there has been little done to counteract this impression.  This marketing choice coupled with the persistent referral to the show as a “bodice ripper’ is obviously making an impression.

untitled.png

So, despite being brave enough to sink money into a program with a female protagonist and KNOWING that the plot was certainly more than a formulaic Harlequin romance ( I don’t have a thing against romances and will explain) Starz chose to use/allow these tired marketing ploys based on gender stereotypes despite research showing that their use may even turn women and (Emmy voters) away from viewing the show.

Megan Walsh, in an article for Romper, wondered if there wasn’t a  connection to the shows perceived image and the lack of attention the show was given by voters.

It could also be that Outlander is considered a genre show with a focus on romance and time travel that has had some people (stupidly) dismissing it as nothing more than a chick show (as if that’s a bad thing to be)….

Is it all to do with the network it comes from? Or could it be that the show has such an intensely female point of view that it has alienated the voters? If that’s the reason, it’s a dumb one, and it’s also even more proof that Outlander should be earning heaps of awards.   https://www.romper.com/p/why-didnt-outlander-get-emmy-nomination-it-deserves-the-accolades-14308I

I agree.  If the reason the show is considered less worthy is because it is something women would be interested in, a “chick show”,  then it’s a dumb and …insulting reason.

Why I’m concerned and frustrated

Maybe it’s this election and all of the subtle and not so subtle focus on toxic patriarchy , Gloria Steinem and Madeleine Albright telling me I have to vote for Hillary because she is a woman or they’ll wish me to hell, people criticizing Hillary for her laugh, her smile, her pantsuits and Donald Trump evidently getting a pass from his supporters for continually disrespecting women, that has caused me to look a little deeper at the issues of how women are valued and what it means to be a feminist.

I’m sure you are wondering what the hell does the election and feminism have to do with Outlander and where in the hell am I going with this?

I hope somewhere that makes sense.

Why should how Outlander is marketed and the perceived value of “Chick Flicks” or “Chick Lit” matter in the big scheme of stuff that matters? Because, how women are portrayed impacts our beliefs about women and their place in the world. I happen to feel that Hollywood has some ethical obligation to portray women as real people and not caricatures.

…a Strong Female Character. There are plenty of them in movies. But think of what comes to mind as traits for a woman being badass: loud, assertive, rides a motorcycle, maybe really good at martial arts. And yes that woman does sound badass. But we pretty much never explore the idea of strong female characters that save the world by being feminine, empathetic, and caring.  https://medium.com/@sailorhg/coding-like-a-girl-595b90791cce#.azsjq079h

I’m frustrated because I think Outlander does an excellent job of portraying women as real thinking feeling human beings. Outlander’s main character Claire is a principled and kind woman worthy of admiration. Claire is a badass who moves through the world “being feminine, empathetic, and caring” and sexually confident.

Let me say again, I have nothing against romance novels or romantic movies.  Like most things in life there are good and poor examples.  I’ve watched and read my share over the years. There is nothing wrong in the themes women enjoy watching or reading.  But, for some reason, a film or book with female-centric themes or romance makes them less worthy of critical acclaim and worth and this sends a message to the world about the worth of women.

Sex in the television costume drama is suspicious because it explicitly appeals to women (largely straight women, but 2002’s Tipping the Velvet and last year’sLife in Squares are rare exceptions) and is seen as bringing often high-brow source material too close to the lowbrow romance novel. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/24/arts/television/emmy-voters-talk-about-sizing-up-the-nominees.html?_r=1

While I certainly don’t agree with the article quoted above’s assertion that Outlander is to be counted among the low brow because the show is ,”laser focused as it is on the muscled male body”, I did agree that”Outlander, which has been praised for its “handling of on-screen sex,” had to prove itself a serious drama and not simply a “sexual fantasy.” and that when talking about costume dramas it has ” always been a problem with the genre—female fandom is seen to threaten its seriousness”.

Why can’t women be all things? Why must I apologize for liking movies that feature relationships and nurturing?  Why must female characters be skewed male to be considered worthy of any value?  Why do books and films written by males get more critical acclaim even when he is writing about the same themes as women writers?  Why can’t a woman character reflect who women where at the time she inhabits without it being considered an attack on feminist advancement and women’s identity? Why can’t a woman like sex?

Literary critics and establishments have long believed that bodice rippers were …

…manufactured to engage the lurid fantasies of frustrated housewives. Often, their authors suffer public disdain, viewed as the sordid peddlers of a mysterious and unfortunate contraband – female desire…

and not very feminist and yet, …

…The very contradiction at the heart of romance fiction is a lesson: within feminism lies the permission, even the imperative, to enjoy, even if the fantasies you enjoy are not very feminist. https://aeon.co/essays/can-you-enjoy-romance-fiction-and-be-a-feminist

One of the most frustrating things for me when it comes to the perceived identity of Outlander as a “bodice ripper” is  that those folks who aren’t tuning in because they believe it is just women’s “guff” are missing out on a show that is progressive in it’s story-telling and portrayal of women when compared to most women characters on film.

Outlander’s women talk about things other than men

Image result for Bechdel test

Over twenty years ago,  Alison Bechdel  penned a cartoon about two women discussing going to the movies.  One woman told the other she had three rules for attending movies;

  1. It had to have at least two women
  2. they had to talk to each other
  3. about something other than men

This cartoon has famously resulted in the “Bechdel test” for how women are portrayed in film and has become a standard by which feminist critics judge TV, movies, books.  An article on fivethirtyeight.com looked at Hollywood’s portrayal of women and cites research that found in, ” 1,794 movies released from 1970 to 2013, we found that only half had at least one scene in which women talked to each other about something other than a man.” http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-dollar-and-cents-case-against-hollywoods-exclusion-of-women/

Outlander  meets the Bechdel test and then some. What those who dismiss Outlander as unworthy of their time are missing are women who are strong characters who deal with the big issues in life that we all deal with love, loss, finding purpose, making tough choices, living with the consequences, and forgiveness. Mr. Mackay was a bit startled by some of the themes the show wasn’t afraid to tackle.  Let me reassure him that the show takes its time showing the aftermath  of such trauma and allows the characters to work through it.  They are telling more than a formulaic love story. It is well acted, directed and produced, a virtual feast for the eyes and ears. I shouldn’t have to defend this show or apologize for enjoying it even IF it is considered a “chick” show because it’s themes are not less important than a show featuring a male protagonist.

I’m sure you have heard that Lionsgate has purchased Starz and Outlander was a big part of that pitch.  I’m not under the impression that Hollywood is not in the business of making money, but I believe that some of the long held beliefs about marketing films about and for women need to be challenged.  Statistics show that women make 80% of the purchasing decisions in America and that they are becoming more discriminating. There is no money to be lost and a lot of money to be gained if Lionsgate gets it right.  I’m hoping that PR for season 3 of Outlander will look a lot different than the stereotypical pandering of last seasons’ EW spread.  Outlander is genre bending which may contribute to the confusion over its identity, but it deserves a better more honestly reflective image than “Fifty Shades of Tartan”.

P.S.  My Friend @Janeanned thinks I’m psychic because this was just posted on Twitter.

http://www.ew.com/article/2016/09/29/outlander-season-3-sam-heughan-cover

1434-ew054605500_0

Haven’t read the article yet of course, but loving the headlines and pic so far! 

Spoilers: They tried to live without their hearts…Jamie and Claire the years apart

Standard

imageAfter hearing the distressing noise, Lord John approaches the door thinking of perhaps going into the room to see if Jamie is alright.  He hears heavy breathing and realizes that Jamie has awakened from a bad dream. He overhears the big Scot talking to his lost wife, “Could I but lay my head in your lap, lass. Feel your hand on me, and sleep wi’ the scent of you in my bed”.  John knows he shouldn’t be hearing this extremely private conversation and tries to back away quietly. Before he gets away he hears Jamie sob and then whisper, his voice full of longing and pain, “Christ Sassenach, I need ye”.

Cue me, ragged intake of breath and leaky eyes.

I’ve been rereading The Scottish Prisoner by Diana Gabaldon, my favorite of the Lord John books.  Last night, I reached the scene where Lord John Grey hears Jamie cry out as if he was having a nightmare. This is one of those scenes that causes me to take an involuntary sob. The characters have become so real to me that I feel invested in their lives and experience moments of crippling compassion when I read of their moments of distress or pain.  I feel what John feels and what Jamie feels and have to put the book down and take a moment to recover, laugh at my silliness, and curse and simultaneously love Diana for writing books and characters that can move me this much.  I’ve often wondered if Diana feels the kind of empathy I do when she writes. Does she have to take a break and recover, does she smile through her tears at the beauty of these poignant moments she has written?

Diana has written many moving scenes in her novels, but this particular scene gets me every. single. time.  I’m curious as to why this scene, in particular, makes me so…so…verklempt! Reading that scene and “overhearing” Jamie’s private moment with his vanished wife makes me feel like I’m right beside Lord John trying desperately to get away from that door. Like Lord John, I want to go into that room and offer Jamie comfort, but I know there is nothing I can offer that would comfort him.  With that realization, we can now think of nothing worse than Jamie knowing his private pain and moment of grieving was overheard and we are quietly careful as we move down the hall.

Loved Diana’s metaphor of John missing a step and coming down hard as he escapes detection. Hearing Jamie longing for his dead wife brought John back down to Earth hard. The heart wants what it wants, but John is a realist and no fool.  He knows this man will never be his. This man will never be his because his heart belongs to a woman and a ghost at that.

It’s Claire’s ghost that I find myself thinking about this morning and Jamie’s as well, the ghosts of their lost love. I think this scene affects me so much because it is one of those rare moments when we get to see what Jamie is thinking and feeling.  We can guess how lonely he has been without Claire, but this overheard private moment confirms it.  He is trying to live without his heart and having a tough time of it. He needs her. Time hasn’t cured this. A decade separates him from that moment on Craig Na Dun and yet, his need of her hasn’t lessened.  His grief feels raw to me.

I’ve also been thinking this morning about the print shop and how the TV series is going to get us there.  I know there has been some speculation because people can’t wait to see our couple back together.  They want to get to the “good stuff”.  I understand that is “good stuff” and I would love to see them stay as faithful to that scene in the book as possible, but the show has to think about viewers other than book fans. I am reminded of an article I read about adaptations and good story-telling.

…Going from a derivative work to its source, people tend to expect fidelity less than when they start with the original, then move to the adaptation…When I read the book first, I go to the movie expecting to see a strict translation of what I saw onto the screen, even if that’s not truly what I want, or what best serves the story…

http://www.npr.org/sections/monkeysee/2012/03/22/149145605/what-fans-will-love-and-what-they-might-not-in-the-hunger-games

“…even if that’s not truly what I want, or what best serves the story…”, the truth is those moments at the print shop need to be earned.  They need the context of knowing what has come before.  It will not be enough to segue way from Claire’s realizing Jamie might still be alive to her going back through the stones. Viewers will need to know what life was like in the in-between.  And, whether we want to admit it or not, we book readers will too.  Those moments at the print shop are meaningful and moving because of what happened in those twenty years apart and who Jamie and Claire were without their hearts.  They are starved for each other’s company and face the despair of knowing they will never again have the kind of mutual love they shared. They long for each other and when I read of their longing my heart aches for them.

Too many of us can relate to their need to go on living despite devastating loss.  In Claire’s case, she pushes forward for Bree and Jamie for Fergus, William, Jenny, Ian, and their children. They go on…they exist.  Diana lets the reader see that our beloved couple are never far from each other’s thoughts. She paints us a picture of two people who truly aren’t complete without the other.  Diana chose to tell Voyager in a mixture of present day with flashbacks to the past that slowly builds the suspense and intensity of emotion.  The search for evidence of Jamie’s survival is then followed by the reality of the Dun Bonnet’s real story and we see the names on the Ardsmuir roll sheet in the flesh.  We get glimpses of the deprived and lonely existence Jamie led.  We are then transported to the inner workings of Claire’s marriage of convenience.

We will need to see what life was like for Claire. I know this isn’t a popular idea for many fans because it means more Frank.  But, to ignore what life was like for Claire would not serve the story well and lessen the impact and meaning of the print shop reunion. These glimpses of life with Frank are sprinkled throughout the story, but it makes sense to me that the show will need to rearrange things and tell the story more chronologically. What was life like for Claire?  She made a promise and I believe truly tried to make it work with Frank.  She did love him, but what ever she feels for Frank pales in comparison to what she feels for Jamie. Frank believes they can make it work. He needs to make it work because he loves her, but her heart is irrevocably Jamie’s.  As a result, what started out straight and good and true becomes a twisted convoluted mess.

One of the few looks Diana affords us of Claire’s life with Frank comes from her remembrance of the night he died.  Not a very flattering portrayal that, but in his defense, what’s a man to do? What’s a man to do with 20 years of knowing your wife loves someone else?  When I think of that particular icy night, warped things come to mind; intentions, plans, relationships, and love.  You know what time and pressure do to a lump of coal, right?  A diamond.  Time and pressure left us no gems here.  What happens when feelings get suppressed? When time and pressure are applied to that suppression? Anger. Resentment.  Emotion doesn’t stay inside the skin.  Feelings can never be fully suppressed.  They find a way to come out and sometimes it’s sideways.

.Outlander Season 3

I think some sideways feelings got straightened out that night.

“...he looked like Bree, didn’t he?  He was like her?”

“Yes.”

He breathed heavily, almost a snort.

“I could see it in your face– when you’d look at her, I could see you thinking of him.  damn you Claire Beauchamp, ” he said, very softly.  “damn you and your face that can’t hide a thing you think or feel.”

“…I did love you, ” I said, softly, at last. “Once.”

They go on to discuss why he didn’t leave and Frank wonders out loud,

“...but you couldn’t see her (Bree) without thinking of him, could you?  Without that constant memory, I wonder__ would you have forgotten him, in time?”

“No.”….

Diana Gabaldon Voyager

The last straw had been reached for Frank, but it also served to let us see how impossible it has been for Claire to love anyone but Jamie and to live without him.  The show foreshadowed this with Breanna’s comments about her mother living in another world. She is present physically, but she left her heart in another time, another place. She is living a life she no longer wants, but tries for Bree’s sake.

The story will be best served by the show showing us how empty and difficult their lives were without the other. So, when the ‘voyage’ finally leads us back to the print shop, as viewers, we will be entirely invested in the reunion of these two lost souls.

The reuniting of these two characters gives birth to some of the most poignant scenes I’ve ever read. Claire’s trip to the printer’s shop is full of those scenes.  Her nervous look at her reflection in the shop window, his fainting dead away at her sudden appearance, their holding each other both trembling with,”…longing of twenty years streaming down our faces”.  They touch each other’s features in wonder. I believe I could barely breathe when I read this scene.  The intensity of their need of each other was palpable.  Not the intensity of lust, but of need. And the scene where Claire shows Jamie Bree’s pictures?  My favorite. When he turns and ‘falls to pieces” in her arms, I couldn’t help but think he had been needing to fall apart for twenty years, but her arms were the only place he could do that…be himself…without fear. And for Claire, loving and being loved by Jamie was like  “the turn of a great key, each small turn setting into play the intricate fall of tumblers within me.”

Lord knows, the sailing will never be smooth for these two, but at last they will be together and nothing else will matter.

“…to have you with me again_ to talk wi’ you, to know I can say anything, not guard my words or hide my thoughts_God Sassenach” he said, ” The Lord knows I’m as lust crazed as a lad and I canna keep my hands from you _ or anything else_ ” he added wryly, ” but I would count that all well lost, had I no more than the pleasure of havin’ ye by me, and to tell ye all my heart”.  And she replies, “ It was lonely without you, ” I whispered,” so lonely.”

Yeah,…we need to see the years without their hearts.

 

Fandom Shaming Needs to GO #RespectTheFandoms — The Word Peddler

Standard

LOVED THE THOUGHTS EXPRESSED HERE AND WANTED TO SHARE!

I have no idea what a Magmar is, other than the word kinda looks like Ragnar. Which makes me think of Ragnar Lothbrok…which makes me wonder when the new season of Viking starts. I don’t know because it isn’t my fandom. And I’m okay with that. Some people, however…aren’t. My kids like Pokemon Go. They […]

via Fandom Shaming Needs to GO #RespectTheFandoms — The Word Peddler