The Thru The Stones Convention…part 2

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living in moments…

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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!

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Others chose Scotland and a salute to the Jacobites…

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

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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!

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

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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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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”.

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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!

“It’s all just moments. We’re all just living in moments…” a reflection on my press conference at Thru the Stones weekend

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TTS Press Conference Dec. 3, 2016

Debbie Ford, Grant O’Rourke, Terry Dresbach

Sitting by the fireplace at the Isle in Bettendorf, Iowa, I was discussing inspiration for this blog with my friend Jane.  I had been lucky enough to be asked to be part of a press conference at the Thru The Stones Fan event with Grant O’Rourke and Terry Dresbach.

“Grant had a very interesting response to my asking about the difficulty of filming out of sequence.” I said.

We were interrupted by folks on the look out for coffee before they caught a taxi to the airport.  We offered to watch their luggage while they snuck into the casino for the only coffee available at that early hour of the morning.  Settling back in my chair, I continued to explain what I had heard Grant say.

“He didn’t seem to think it was that big of a deal.  He said you get a good sense of who your character is and how he serves the story and then act that moment.”

Jane nodded her head listening to me intently like she always does. It is one of the biggest reasons I love her.  She is genuinely interested in how and what I think.

“I told him I thought it would be difficult and that I had the idea it would be easier to build a character chronologically, but he made a very good point.  He said, “It’s all just moments. We’re all just living in moments anyway”.  I’m thinking that might be a good title for the article and a good metaphor for the weekend.”

We were interrupted again by a group of ladies we had met who needed hugs good bye before they left for each corner of the country they came from.  Lots of “so nice to meet you” and “follow me on Twitter” and “what a great time” were heard.  I gave a final hug to one of my readers I was privileged to meet and as she moved away she looked around and said “so many great moments”.   Well, that was just too much of a coincidence and it cemented my focus for this reflection.  This weekend was full of moments both great and small to be treasured and remembered.

First, let me thank the folks that worked so hard to give Outlander fans a great experience.  Thank you very much to Debbie Ford, Gin Wray, and Sandy Belshause, their families and friends like the neighbor who convinced Deb to read Outlander and the gentleman who was the voice of the convention.

Back in July, I received an invitation from Debbie to be part of a press conference at the convention.  Of course, I jumped at the chance to interview Terry Dresbach,  Outlander on Starz’, costume designer.  Like many of you, I have been interacting with Terry on Twitter and learning a lot about the business of costume designing and film making in general. I hadn’t had the opportunity to meet her and Iowa isn’t all that far from Ohio and so, I started making plans to attend.

Previously, I had plans to attend a talk given by the show’s writers in LA that totally fell through and so, I was very cautious about telling anyone this was happening until it actually did!  I got confirmation just a couple of days before the convention that Grant would be at the press conference.  I happened to be at my granddaughters’ basketball game when I opened the email and I thought out loud, “I’ve prepared some things to ask Terry, but I have no idea what to ask an actor! ”  My fourteen year-old granddaughter was sitting beside me with her boyfriend. “I’ve no idea,”she said.  However, her boyfriend seemed to have a clue, “Ask him what his favorite color is.  You can learn a lot about someone by asking them their favorite color.”  I thanked him with a straight face, but  thinking about it on the way home, I broke into a smile and thought that he might actually have come up with a great ice-breaker!  I thought I would tell Grant the story and then ask him what his favorite color was with the added warning to be careful with his choice because I would be psychoanalyzing his response later!

I never got the chance to ask the question or break the ice because I didn’t need to! Grant and Terry hadn’t seen each other in awhile and they just started talking to each other and reminiscing about life on the Outlander set and about one of Terry’s parties. It was a blast to watch them interact.  They were definitely at ease in each other’s prescence and there was a lot of teasing, smiles and laughter.  It was obvious that they both felt good about the working relationship between all those involved in the production. Grant shared that he had been convinced that he was going to lose his job and that he didn’t relax until two weeks had passed and he was filming the stable scene with Cait because Steven Walters, Angus, had told him that after two weeks it was too expensive for them to replace him! LOL!  They both shared bits and pieces of life behind the scenes that made what we see as a glamorous job a bit less so.  There appears to be a lot of standing around in the cold and mud and rain waiting.  Terry shared that Cecil B DeMille said ,”the most fascinating day on set is your first and the most boring is your second”.

Terry said that on Outlander everything has its own rewards and challenges.  And, in response to my question she added that filming out of sequence is the norm and that she thought it would be easier to film chronologically, so that, for instance, you wouldn’t have to film a Boston May in a Scotland November!  But, that it doesn’t happen that way. This led her to tell a funny story about her not realizing things were filmed out of sequence on her first job as a costume designer.  She said she loaded up a car with costumes and took them to the set and then didn’t bring them back the next day because she thought they were done!  They both discussed the importance of costumes in creating a character. She designs the costumes with the character and their place in the story in mind and shares the “why” of her costume choices with the actors.  She then went on to share how she loves it when the actors start to make the costumes their own.  Grant shared that he was very big on being able to dress himself.  It sounds as if their were discussions about whether or not Rupert would have worn this or styled his hair thus, etc.  and some changes were made.  He said he had started to make the costume his own by always carrying his tam in the same place inside his plaid whether he would be wearing it in the scene or not because Rupert would have always carried it.  There were a few more laughs over the fact that he said he hated to wear that bonnet. “NO!  Not the bonnet!  I don’t want to wear the bonnet”, he jokingly whined.  Terry talked about how Stephen Walters wrapped his plaid around a special rock he had been given which is an old Highlander way of holding the plaid in place called a pauper’s brooch.  The two shared a story about the time Stephen lost his rock and everyone was scouring the set for it!   “Looking for a particular pebble amongst other pebbles”, Terry laughed.

I learned that Grant thought the best episode in season 2 was Prestonpans and he was grateful to hear that we were moved by his performance.  In fact, he said he used to listen to pod casts, but stopped when he was listening to one on Prestonpans and they never mentioned Rupert!  (I made a mental note to check my blog on Prestonpans)  I learned that this was his first time in America which really shocked Terry and I overheard him ask Debbie how much time he had after the press conference because he really wanted to get some ribs.  She assured him that they knew a guy who would take care of that!  He is so quick and seems a very down to Earth guy with his priorities in place ( hope the wee man enjoys his cup).  Terry was funny, charming, and generous with her answers.

There weren’t any great revelations about season 3 shared, as expected and as it should be.  However, what was very obviously revealed was the care, dedication and love that each puts into their craft.  My overall impression of my time spent with them was that they were two people who work hard at their jobs and try to do the best they can just like the rest of us.  Terry strives to do her best job as a designer and Grant wants to serve the story with his acting.  The fact that we all find it so fascinating and that the show is so popular is just a bonus.  I’m convinced they would be giving the same effort, care and concern to whatever project they were involved in. They seem to have a sense that what they do will be farther reaching than they can imagine and are humbled to be part of something bigger than themselves.  They know that they are here because Diana Gabaldon wrote these wonderful books and they want to serve the story and the fans well and with love.

As moments go, I was grateful to be living this one.  We are very lucky fans.

Stay tuned part 2 coming soon!

What Ron D. Moore taught me about fandom

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This week has been an interesting one in the Outlander fandom.  There has been much ado about the show and its adaptation of Diana Gabaldon’s books and characters.  The conversations about this topic have been, at times, heated and definitely filled with passion.  I saw several folks try to help people put it all in perspective by creating memes and posting quotes to remind us all there truly are things happening in the world to get heated and passionate about. But, the debate continued and continues.

Other than sports, (Go Buckeyes), this is my first real experience with fandom and it has been a curious journey. The degree to which I have become involved surprises me and drives my family crazy There has been more than one argument with my spouse over the amount of time I spend on social media fanning.  I’m not the only one who is surprised by their involvement.  Just yesterday, I saw at least three Facebook posts where women were telling the story of their obsession with Outlander.  They were all professing to be sane people who suddenly saw themselves acting like, as they put it, “teenage fangurls”. I think they were all looking for validation that this was normal behavior and that they weren’t completely looney tunes. Let me point out asking other people in the fandom in an online fan group might not get you the most objective response! And as time goes on, this phenomenon I find myself involved in gets curiouser and curiouser.

Last night, Terry Dresbach, Outlander costume designer and wife to Outlander Executive Producer Ronald D Moore, posted a travelogue Ron had shared with her.  He is currently on a cruise ship decompressing.  Terry has often said that she is constantly learning from Ron and that he is a student of human nature.  I have heard her say that Ron has always told her that fans, even the angry ones, are coming from a place of love.  I heard what she was saying and we discussed it, but per usual, it took something more to deepen my understanding.  This time it was Ron’s travelogue.  He recounted his reading of an old fanzine created by Star Trek fans.  I loved the way he described the fragileness of the pages typed on an antiquated typewriter and yellowed with age.  He felt like he was handling a precious papyrus.  He was moved by the art created with different levels of skill, but not with less love.  To me, his time spent with that fan-made magazine was reaffirming that what he did for a living mattered.   He remembered himself as a fan and how he felt.  He realized he had a lot in common with those folks who felt the need to create because of their fascination with a TV series.  I realized I was one of those people too and it made me smile.

 

 

Photo credit to @thenewredplaid and Alex Oliver

 

The Greeks and Outlander

Of all the connections I could have made to what Ron said and my experience with Outlander fandom, I thought about the Greeks.  I thought of Greek theater to be specific.  Over the years, I have taught high school students about the beginnings of theater which in actuality is the beginning of modern TV.  My students read the story of Oedipus Rex.  They always seem to be amazed to find themselves engaged in a story written so long ago.  In fact, in an effort to have them truly understand how long ago this was written we do a little math problem in English class. I have them figure out how many great-greats they would have to put in front of Sophocles name if he was their great grandfather.  If I remember correctly, it would be somewhere in the vicinity of 149.  The story really is interesting and I find I am able to challenge my students to think about such heady themes as fate and the irony of life.

Part of preparing them to read includes discussing the purpose of play festivals and how they were performed.  If you were an ancient Greek you would have filed into the amphitheater found a stone seat and waited to see several versions of the same story.  My students are always surprised to learn that everybody watching already knew the story.  They were watching to see who told it the best.  It would be like us all going to watch six versions of Little Red Riding Hood. The source material was being presented to the audience by different “executive producers” if you will.  Can you see where I’m going with this?  As fans of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander book series, we already know the story, but here we sit in our home amphitheaters with much comfier seats, waiting to see how Ron D. “Sophocles” Moore tells the story. I’m pretty sure our discussions about his adaptation sound much like the discussions the Greeks had about the adaptations they witnessed, minus the togas.  Did he get the characters right?  Did he retain the most important elements for plot?  What themes could we detect and did they ring true?  Was the dialogue believable and what about the acting?  I’m sure their conversations about Oedipus the King were just as lively and as passionate as our Outlander discussions and just like Trekkies,… coming from a place of love.

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So, today I find myself feeling some love for Ron D. Moore and his desire to tell the story of Jamie and Claire.  This Saturday I’ll tune in and watch to see how he tells my favorite story and then watch the fans’ reactions with new eyes.  Some fans will be inspired to discuss on Tumblr, create memes and artwork, and I…I’ll write a fan’s blog.

Here’s the link to Terry’s blog post http://www.terrydresbach.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Cruise-Journal-Day-8-2.pdf

40 years….a play and a look later…us

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This January 17th brings a milestone into my life.  I will be married to my Dan for forty years.  I keep trying to write our story. There is a story there that needs to be told, but I go away from it and I come back.  I write other things, but I find my own story keeps getting in the way.  I have a feeling that until I find a way to tell our story, I won’t be able to tell another.  I haven’t figured it out yet, but I’ve promised my Dan I will.

“I’m not sure what our story is about. What is our story?” I asked.

” That’s easy.  It’s the story of two kids from the wrong side of the tracks who make it…in life.” he responds and I hear the surprise in his voice at his own hesitation.

“See,’ I said, ‘Not as easy as it sounds. Do I tell it like fiction and make us characters or tell it like a memoir…I keep trying, but I haven’t figured it out yet.”

But, I will…I will because it’s a great story about perseverance, faith, and a love that grows!

I find it ironic that over 40 years ago my interests were acting and productions and now my interests are acting and productions.  A lot has happened between our high school production of The Man Who Came to Dinner and my writing about Outlander, some good, some bad, but such is life.  I met my husband when, as a student director, I cast him  in our school play.  I would tease him for years about how I type cast him as the “dumb jock” and about his one big line “What’s the matter mother?” which he delivered with a modicum of feeling.

I’d also cast the homecoming queen to play the movie star. Did I tell you I tended to type cast?  Well, things were going swimmingly and I was especially excited about the pharaoh I’d just finished painting on the front of a sarcophagus the shop class built for us, when we got some bad news.  It was one week before opening night and the homecoming queen had dropped out of the play!  Resisting the urge to hit who ever had just uttered, “The show must go on’, I ran through my list of possible solutions.  I really couldn’t see a viable option other than having someone on stage with script in hand reading the part!

“You know what you have to do.”, my best friend and stage director said, “You know everybody’s lines.  You have to play the movie star.  We can find you a couple of prom dresses somewhere.”

I’m sure that my mouth was hanging open and just about the time I had the presence of mind to snap it shut and then retort with a “oh hell no”, I realized she was right.  I was going to have to play the part of the movie star.  Let me explain, I was a director for a reason, the old ” those that can’t… teach” thing comes to mind. I loved the creativity of producing a play and I had a knack for directing other’s performances, but found my self to get a bit stage-struck when I had to perform.  I would play bit parts when needed, but avoided anything where I had to speak more than a few lines. This role was not a bit part and the character was supposed to be …a movie star.  Did I mentioned I liked to type cast? Yeah,..well….so not going to happen this time. There was going to have to be a major transformation.

I remember dress rehearsal like it was yesterday. Everyone was waiting in the wings while the costume and makeup crew were adding their last touches to my ensemble.  They weren’t allowing me to see myself until they were done. Excited to have found a royal blue sequined halter gown and some silver strappy sandals in my size, they placed some costume diamonds around my neck and decided that my hair needed to be pulled up. It seemed to me they had been arguing forever about how many pins they needed to keep the french twist in place.  After they placed a dozen in my hair, they turned me around to face the mirror propped against the back wall of the stage.  I don’t know if you have ever had a Cinderella moment, but I’m pretty sure this one qualified for me. I didn’t recognize myself.  I have since learned for an actress that might not be a bad thing.  There was a girl who looked like a movie star in the mirror and I found myself suddenly standing different and felt a surge of confidence. Maybe, I could do this!  My confidence increased as I took the corner into the wings and my fellow actors saw me. I’m not exactly sure how to explain what happened next except to say that within the space of few seconds, I saw looks of surprise, admiration, lasciviousness, and finally, a look of concern that has changed my life forever.

It was as if everyone had just seen me for the first time.  I had gone from wall flower to rose in the time it took to don a form-fitting gown. Suddenly, every guy in the room wanted to stand next to me. I was flattered, but it just didn’t feel right.  Yesterday, these guys didn’t know I existed! Uncomfortable with all this attention, I was frantically looking for something to focus on that didn’t look like a teenage boy leering down the front of my dress.  Standing across from me was my type cast jock with a look of concern on his face.  Our eyes locked and I saw him, really saw …him. I didn’t see the super jock, but the Sir Galahad underneath.  I found myself walking across the wings to stand next to this boy who I knew I could trust.  We haven’t been apart since.

There is a lot more to our story and I will find a way to write it, but today I find myself thinking of that shared moment when we saw each other and of all the other moments that moment made possible.. I am proud to be the wife of such a deep down decent man. Forty years have come and gone, but everyday I feel like I learn something new about him. Forty years later, he is still my Sir Galahad.

 

 

 

France needs Outlander!

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Here we go again, fighting to get Outlander shown in a country featured in the show!  Season two of Outlander on Starz will take a look at life in Paris in the mid 1700’s.  It will be a visual feast and we want our French friends to be able to join us at the table!   I’m not sure exactly what it takes to convince TV outlets to add a show to their list of programing, but I’m pretty sure Outlander has a little bit of something for everybody!

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A BRIEF HISTORY LESSON FOR THE UNINITIATED

The news that Outlander was being made into a sixteen episode TV series for Starz was very welcome news to fans of Diana Gabaldon.  Ms.Gabaldon’s eight book series based on the adventures of one time travelling WW II nurse, Claire Randall, has been read and reread for over twenty years. The rights to turn the first book into a movie have been sold for just about as long and many script writers have attempted to cram an 800 page book into a two hour movie. Not possible…or desired by most fans.  So, when the news of the series came, coupled with the knowledge that producer Ron Moore, of Battlestar Galactica fame, would be at the helm, fans rejoiced! (and it’s rumored that angels wept!) Finally, maybe the story would be told and fans would get to see their beloved main characters, Jamie and Claire, come to life! And, joy of joys, they are almost done with the second book! Please let our French fans watch too!

Critics and entertainment journalists were doubtful that this book to TV adaptation would flourish due to what was perceived as a female-centric audience. The media seemed to believe that the show would only appeal to bored middle-age housewives and was a bodice-ripping romance.  Now that the series has aired 16 episodes the ranks of media/critics seem to have changed their minds and are now singing the praises of Outlander.  Fans of the books are thrilled that the show is being so well received and maybe they are feeling a bit smug.  After all, they’ve always known it was a great story! And really, what’s not to like?

 

 

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WHAT ABOUT THE ROMANCE?

The tale has been labeled as “genre bending” and for a variety of good reasons.  Fans of the book can assure new viewers that the relationship at the center of this tale goes far beyond the  traditional romance genre where the story is about falling in love. For instance, the traditional romance is stood on its ear with a woman in the role of the experienced lover and her new husband the virgin. The time travel element adds an additional twist.  If you are two hundred years away from your husband who hasn’t been born yet is it cheating if you marry someone else? Claire loves two men and this creates an intriguing problem for her already full plate of problematic situations. Season 2 will give us a passionately committed couple and new issues and problems for Claire and Jamie to face. And, they don’t get any easier!  They’ll just be trying to change history.

And….the sex! oh la la!

Starz has done a wonderful job of portraying the sexual relationship between the two main characters.  In fact, there are multiple articles out there written by critics, the media and those interested in the portrayal of sex on T.V. that look at how Outlander Starz writers, directors and producers handled this material.  They found it nothing short of revolutionary.

THIS IS SCI-FI?

Yes, but …gosh …how do I explain this?  The sci-fi element of this story is there. but more as a vehicle to get the heroine of the story into the situation she now finds herself.  She lands 200 years in the past after touching a standing stone. The mystery of standing stones is just that a mystery.  We really don’t know what they are or why they are there.  The old Celtic stories of people being stolen over by the wee folk might actually be based on an interesting theory of time-travel.  What would you do if you were Claire? At the end of season one because of love of her highlander Jamie,  she has decided to stay, now, how does she deal with her knowledge of the future? The time-travel element is a great backdrop. It is always there….waiting.

IT’S A RIPPING GOOD YARN!

Fans of Outlander executive producer Ron Moore were at first puzzled and some downright shocked that he took on this material.  The series was being touted in the media as a “romance” and that seemed very far from Ron’s usual projects. Ron simply explained in a press conference that he had read the books and found them to be a “Ripping good yarn”.   This is a story full of adventure, history, surprises and characters with layers and we love Ron for recognizing that it needed to be told in a series. We also love him for talking with the author and staying true to the spirit of the books.  If you like battles, swordplay, chases, political intrigue (ESPECIALLY AT THE FRENCH COURT!), plot twists, hot sex, tender love stories, strong characters, and really nasty villans then you might want to give Outlander a shot!

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Come on France viva la Outlander!

All I want for Christmas is…Outlander

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So, Black Friday is looming and that means I need to start thinking about Christmas and what gifts I’ll be buying.  Cuz if I miss a deal on something I didn’t know I needed I’d be pretty upset!  So, I’m making a list and checking it…twice and then discussing it with my husband.  The following is a transcript of what I like to call the Great  Christmas fight.

ME:  I’m getting some great coupons in my inbox.

DH: It’s ridiculous. It gets worse every year!  We are just not going to buy anyone anything! Christmas isn’t about presents!  We buy them something they don’t need and they buy us something we don’t need!  Ridiculous!

ME: We have this conversation every year.  I LIKE giving gifts.  You suck the joy out of Christmas you…you…joy sucker!

DH: We aren’t doing it.

ME: You say that every year too and yet Christmas comes and there are presents under the tree.  Why do you bother to get worked up?

DH: mumble….mumble…commercialism…humbug…mumble

EVERY. YEAR.

The only thing worse than the unneeded pressure my husband inflicts on the season is answering the dreaded “what do you want for Christmas” question.  I NEVER have an answer.  So, this year I was determined to be prepared!

DIL: What do you want for Xmas?

ME: A new Shark floor cleaner because my old one broke and a good saute’ pan!

DIL:  That is so boring.  What do want that is fun!?

ME: Sigh (so much for being prepared)…Let me think about it…

I’m terrible at this!  I don’t shop except for this time of year.  I can find things I like if I’m out there, but unless I see something…I can’t think of anything I need or want.  Luckily for me, middle granddaughter was over to the house and heard me sighing and made a suggestion with potential.

GD:  Isn’t there any Outlander stuff you want?

ME: (lighting up like the proverbial tree) Outlander? Yeah….Outlander… (now I’m rubbing my hands together like the Grinch) I LIKE Outlander!

So, I’m putting together an all Outlander all the time Christmas list.

MY OUTLANDER CHRISTMAS LIST

  • A trip to Scotland with a tour of the Outlander studios (hey, go big or go home)

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  • signed first editions of all of the Outlander books

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  • a script signed by oh….everybody 🙂

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  • Tickets to the next premier (whenever that is)

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  • the official Caitriot plaid

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  • an Outlander Wedding ring, this one that combines the series and the books!

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  • A print by Frogirl@thenewredplaid or Elaine or…(there is a lot of really great stuff out there!)

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  • These cuz Pop.Lander is a whimsical genius who made me want to play with dolls

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  • And more hedgehogs cuz…well, just cuz one can never have too many  😉

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Given that my children are not independently wealthy, I’m guessing I might have a fair shot at the last three and if #Outlander Starz would like to kick in a casting announcement that would just be the topper on my plaid themed Christmas!

Happy Holidays Outlander fanmily!

PS I thought of one more thing! At shirt designed by Terry that says “I spit on cute!” She knows why 😜!

 

 

A wee bit of Scotland in the Highlands of Pennsylvania 

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“And, there will be sword dancing, and a parade of the clans, and caber tossing, a Scottish breed dog show, bagpipes and singing, and coos… there will be coos! … and Shetland ponies, and Scottish food.  I wonder if there will be whiskey tasting? You would think there would be.  I want to buy a necklace with a thistle on it and I’d love it if you would buy a utility kilt, but I know you won’t…but they are very sexy….”

This was part of the non-stop stream of chatter my poor husband endured during a two and half-hour drive to the Ligonier Highland Games in the Laurel Highlands in Pennsylvania.

There are a couple of reasons this trip was special to me.

First, it is an extension of my love of Outlander.  I am now fascinated with Scottish culture and eager to learn more.

“There will be tents set up for the clans where you can learn about your genealogy! I know the McDonalds and Hays and Stewart clans will be there.”

“I’ll be looking for the MacDaddy tent”, quips my man who is without an once of Scottish blood. I actually thought it was pretty funny given he is SO not. And,  I was relieved to see he was being light-hearted.

I was admittedly a bit worried that I was dragging him to this event.  I didn’t want him to be bored or miserable, so I was eager for him to have a good time and that might have resulted in the babbling.  I would really like to think he understands my enthusiasm and wants to share in my excitement. However,  I’m pretty sure he doesn’t get my interest in all things Scottish.  In fact, I’m sure at some point he thought about the fact that he could have been home in his chair watching college football, but instead, here he was…in a car…driving two and a half hours…listening to me babble….so I could go see men in kilts.  Despite my ADAMANT denials that my interest in Scotland had nothing to do with kilts, I’m pretty sure that is exactly what he believes.

He told me he was going with me because he wants me to be happy. I realize in the big scope of sacrifices a person could make for the person they love attending a Highland games probably isn’t at the top of the list, but it gets him bonus points in my book!  When we pulled into the parking lot we could hear bagpipes in the distance.  I must have given away my excitement because he squeezed my hand and with a little crooked smile on his face kissed my forehead.

It was great!  Everywhere I looked I saw something that reminded me of the books.  This was one of my favorite pictures of the day.

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The bagpipes! I’m in love!

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The caber toss was a blast! I still haven’t figured out how they lift them or run with them!

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We toured the clan tents and looked at the vendor’s wares. Front and center of one of the vendor tents was a display of Outlander calendars and shortbread. While we were there, I saw several women pick up the calendar and excitedly discuss the images.  I wanted to say “hey” and strike up a conversation, but found myself too shy. Which is hardly ever the case!  My husband bought me my thistle necklace and he actually looked at a kilt! There may be hope yet!

Of course, one of the most exciting things I did that day was meet Gillbride MacMillian, our Outlander bard! I didn’t know he was going to be there until I was perusing the schedule of events!

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As as soon as I found out I tweeted Gillebride, who then tweeted me back and told me to make sure I stopped and said hi!  With my husband’s encouragement and nudging, I did.

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He was very nice and very serious about his duties! Silly, but I found myself proud of him and his efforts to preserve his language. And that singing voice….mesmerizing!  Other than Diana, he is the first person I’ve met associated with the show.  It certainly was the icing on the cake of a lovely day.

As we walked out of the park, we passed several reserved picnic shelters and we wondered if many of these families took this opportunity to hold family reunions.  Afterall, I shared with my husband, this festival is 57 years old.  He nodded and reflected on how great it was to see families celebrating their history and culture.  I got a little teary as I thought of Culloden and wondered if it had any direct influence on the immigration of these families to America.  Witnessing the parade of clans had been moving.  Folks were wearing clan tartan and carrying banners.  A wonderful mixture of the older and younger generations walking together, holding their heads high, and some even shouting battlecries.  I laughingly asked my husband if he had seen the folks sporting matching tee shirts proclaiming they belonged to Pee Paws clan. I’m betting Pee Paw was pretty proud of his brood.  Overall, I was left with a sense of their pride and their joy of celebrating each other.  I’m totally a sassenach, English and Dutch, but today I felt a little bit Scot.

The second reason this trip was special to me was because I walked. Last year around this time of year I was struggling with my health.  I have multiple chronic health issues and they had become so dibiltating that I had to take a leave from work. I could barely walk and not without pain.  My world and quality of life had shrank. Short of having someone push me in a wheelchair, I could never have attended something like this. A year, a few surgeries, and many therapy and doctor appointments later, I was walking hand in hand with my Dan.

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A truly blessed Scottish day.