I am NOT an Outlander Fan!

This is a guest post from my partner & Outmander, Kyle. He does not have a platform to express things like this so I’m letting him use mine. This is his opinion expressed in his own way – I just copied and pasted.

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Why am I not an outlander fan? Several hours of thought after returning home from seeing Ron Moore in San Francisco, I realized that I do not qualify to be an Outlander fan. I am thankful for this.

I was reading all of the Q&A that Ron did after watching the SF Giants ball game and he gave an interesting response to a question. Someone had asked him if he enjoys writing or producing more. His response was enlightening. He said “I’m a writer”. That is how he introduces himself. Not I’m a producer, nor a show runner, but a writer.

This got me thinking where I fit with the Outlander fandom and where “my place in the world” is. I have had the opportunity to meet some of the people that make the show happen and each and every time I find myself really respecting the individual for who they are. Not exclusively for what they mean to the show, but who they are as a person. This has always been the most striking and eye opening aspect of getting to meet the “real person” behind the social or otherwise media persona. I realized then and there that I am NOT an Outlander fan!

I am a Ron Moore fan.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love the show. I think that it is an amazing adaptation of a great series of novels, by a truly gifted author. I have been (almost without exception) overwhelmingly struck by how well it plays on the screen. I am in awe of the talent of the cast and the depth of feeling they bring to the show each and every week. Amazing performances by not only the lead actors, but so many of the supporting cast as well. This show truly makes you believe in it. I am also constantly shocked by how intense and accurate the crew and staff have managed to create a backdrop and construction of an entire world out of our time and make it believable. That takes some major talent on the entire crew’s part. All of those people that we never see or hear about that make the “real stuff” happen. They all deserve our applause and admiration.

While appreciating all of this I still don’t think that I’m an Outlander fan. You see I love much more of Ron’s work than just Outlander. Truth be told I’m much more a Battlestar Galactica fan. I also love the work that he has done with other shows such as Star Trek. To me Ron Moore is more of a person than a show. That may seem odd, but here it is. So many of the “fans” that I read and interact with on social media on other venues seem to have this pair of “Outlander glasses” on. As far as I can tell they break down into two specific groups. The first group, the “uber fan”, seems to think that no matter what, if it has to do with Outlander it is wonderful, amazing, perfect, and just plain “the best thing ever”. Now, this might seem like the result that the staff and studios are shooting for, I however see several problems with that. The most obvious being that the person, actor, director, crew, producer, writer etc. gets lost in the mix.

Take for instance the Gaelic consultant Àdhamh Ó Broin (another that I have been fortunate to meet and get to know somewhat). To the typical “fan” if you mention his name the response will probably be “who”? If you continue with “he’s the Gaelic consultant for Outlander”, the response gets changed to “Oh, yes! Great guy! They are doing SO well with my favorite show!” The person himself gets lost. I am pleased to say that yes, he is a great guy. He is almost singlehandedly bringing a “lost” Gaelic dialect back from extinction. He is so involved in the resurgence of the almost lost culture of Scotland and he’s a fine warm and caring person as well. He is really “quite the kick” to be around.

I have not had the opportunity to meet any of the cast members but I am sure that this holds true for them as well. I have seen a lot of what Sam Heughan is doing with his charities and other projects. I know that Caitriona Balfe, Tobias Menzies and Graham McTavish have their own projects, charities and such going on as well. I loved Graham’s performance in The Finest Hours. I just have not had the privilege of meeting them yet.

Then there is the “second group” of fans. I would almost rename them “slams”. These are the people that for whatever reason, make it their mission to find fault. To them, nothing that Ron is doing fits with “their” view of the books and is therefore taboo. Jamie’s hair is not red enough. Why did they remove my favorite scene (even though it did nothing to move the plot forward)? Claire should be this way, etc. Anything that sits outside of their mental image or interpretation of the material is “wrong”. And they are very vocal in letting people know about it. A sub-group of this class of fan is what I call “the Jamie show” fan. Nothing, and I mean nothing else is important at all. The other actors, the time and effort that it takes to put on a production of this scope, the decisions that have to be made for plot movement, time, cost, etc. None of that matters. It’s all about Jamie/ Sam Heughan. This second group is the reason that I almost completely, stay away from the fandom.

Now both of these groups do have a few things in common. They both, for whatever reason, feel that the show “owes them something”. In some cases that may be a debt payment of staying more strictly with the books. Many times I find these “negative Nellie’s” so mentally draining that I retreat to protect my sanity. In others it may expose itself as a sense of “entitlement”. For instance the “We are the biggest fans, we deserve this person’s full attention. All others Stay Away”!

I’m sure that the average “fan” fits somewhere in the middle of these extremes, but these “sane ones” are not at all vocal. I rarely hear from them on social media or in other forums. I do interact with them if I happen to meet them at some gathering such as Àdhamh’s west coast Gaelic instruction tour both this year and last. These are the people simply sitting in the room enjoying the reason for being there. Their interest in an aspect of the show, a person involved in it, or as in that case, an understanding of the Gaelic language. They seem to be the “silent majority” to steal a well-known phrase. It’s the outlying ends of the fandom that make all the noise.

Both sides of this coin have, in my opinion, missed the point. For them it is all about the show. For me it is all about the people. The extreme positions of both sides have turned me off to the whole “fandom” aspect of Outlander. I retreat from the social media interaction of it to keep my sanity and to save my soul. I will continue to love the show. I will do my utmost to learn more about these fabulous people that make this production happen. This means from the top to the bottom. Every contribution is important. I haven’t even touched on writers, costuming, visual effects, set building, or the thousands of other people that make this possible for us all. For me at least, it’s the people, not the show.

If this makes me a Non-Fan, then I’m proud of it.

 

Girls and Dreams

 

I had a dream a few nights ago. My dreams aren’t something I’d normally choose to share and write about, but this one has been turning over in my wee brain. One of those times I can’t seem to shake the idea so, to the keyboard I go.

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In the dream I was sitting at a computer, though it seemed rather specialized. (FYI – I am NOT a hardware person so please don’t slam descriptions I’m sure I’ll get wrong – besides it was a dream). There was a keyboard, but also lots of knobs and switches and bells and whistles. I was trying to fine tune some music, or some dialog….something auditory. I was frustrated because I just couldn’t get what I was working on to sound like I wanted it to and knew it should sound like. I looked up and the wall that had been in front of me had turned to glass with two guys sitting at a much more complex ‘computer’ system fidgeting with the same bit of audio I was. I had to blink when I realized it was Ron Moore and Bear McCreary.

I don’t supposed the fact that we have finally managed to start listening to Ron’s podcasts had anything to do with this LOL.

I could hear the audio, still not right….then as they fiddled with it, it shifted and flowed and sounded exactly as it should have. I was amazed and blurted out “How the hell did they DO that?!”

The glass wall parted in the middle and slid aside. Ron looked up and said, “Well get in here and we’ll show you!” I hoofed it in promptly to learn at the elbows of greatness…..fade to black.

Why do I relate this rather odd little dream? Why has it been bouncing around in my head insisting I throw it out and let people see it? I think, perhaps, I came up with an answer.

Growing up I was reasonably intelligent. I was raised by dysfunctional parents (alcoholics) and by my grandparents who were both teachers. I was raised very traditionally. I was encouraged to go into teaching. I was told to learn typing and shorthand so I could get a job as a secretary. I didn’t get to take martial arts class with my brothers because it wasn’t ladylike. I bowed to all this because….it’s how I was raised to be. (Fear not….I’ve gotten over my doormat stage in a big way though I do still slip and lie down occasionally when I shouldn’t.)

I had a strong interest in science. Not exactly discouraged – but certainly not encouraged. I loved to perform, but was only really encouraged to learn how to play the piano. I was good enough with very little work to have my teacher happy so I didn’t really apply myself. I think too many girls raised when I was dealt with the same sort of things…..I am concerned too many still are.

What does this have to do with the dream? I have a good ear. Picking out what instrument is playing or a voice on a commercial and knowing what actor it goes to. Picking up sounds – even slight ones – that are ‘off’ and finding problems because of it (very handy skill on a boat). While I didn’t apply myself with hours of rehearsal for singing, my choir masters loved me because I had ‘a good ear’ to adjust things. I did a lot of sound work through school…..helping run the sound board for the jazz choir (did I go out with the sound tech because I liked him and picked up the board or because I was interested in the board and that’s how I could get my hands on it? Interesting question I had not pondered before.) Sound tech (among many other hats) for the theatre department in college. I used that knowledge to step in and run the board for a band whose own tech failed to show up when a scout was coming to listen to them at the bar they were playing. (Guess I did ok – he signed them.) What if I could have done an internship or studied under someone like Bear McCreary? What might my life had been like going completely outside the traditional? I would have very likely pursued something like that – something in performing arts (stage is very addicting both in front of and behind the curtain) but it wasn’t ‘proper’.

I think Ron was in the dream because he is so often mentioned as an advocate for getting more women involved/treated equally and showing them more realistically on screen.

All this has left me pondering in these last few days……how far have we really come in encouraging our kids – especially our females – to really explore their strengths and gifts and reach toward something more than a traditional ‘safe’ job? Something past ‘proper’ and ‘PC’? What if one of my choir directors had really encouraged me to pursue that ‘gift’ of my ‘good ear’ in high school? Had taken the time to help me track down and explore what that might be good for. Would it have eventually led to me sitting in a studio helping tweak the sound to perfectly set scenes for a show like Outlander? Maybe – and wouldn’t that have been cool?!

I guess what it comes down to is – what can each of us do to change that? Encourage the straight guy that likes to play football but has a great eye for color and line and really enjoys working there that it is ok to go into designing women’s clothing. Or to encourage that head cheerleader to use her brains more than her body to advance herself in science or architecture or any other male dominated realm. That mousie, overweight girl (me) that absorbs things when allowed to that might have made a really decent supporting actor with very little encouragement. Traditional and being PC can be so limiting – not allowing for true gifts to be explored and utilized not just for the person possessing them, but all those that person touches. When I make it big as a writer (got to keep those positive thoughts pumping true?) how might I encourage someone else? I definitely haven’t taken a traditional route to get on this path – all my elective classes were geared toward theatre and acting – not writing.

Who do you know that you might be able to encourage? Help out? Steer toward a dream? Who do you know that could help them? How can each of us work towards making a ‘safe’ environment for any kid to express an interest/ability in something that doesn’t quite fit the mold people want to push them into? How about you? What is YOUR dream that may not fit into a neat package? How can you encourage that?

Outlander: The Series

The last blog gave readers a chance to find out a little bit about me and my background. The idea was to let people in my head a bit for why I say some of the stuff I do. Of course, there is a lot more to it all – how I was raised, by whom, when, life experiences. All this figures in to how every person views things, makes decisions about them, likes them or not. What I like, others might not and that is ok. That is great in fact because, if we all liked the same things it would be a very boring place.

Anything I write – like any other writer out there – comes from a compound of all we do and know. Taking all the bits we’ve learned from infancy to now; school, reading, meeting people, listening to the news, deeper research into something that is of more keen interest and, in more recent years, surfing the web. No one dictates to me what I do or don’t like – including my life-mate. I don’t want to be (but likely will be) called a kiss ass, suck up, puppet or anything else suggesting my opinion is not my own. I also don’t want to be called bad names if I point out something I don’t like. My opinion is my own, not dictated to me by someone else to be regurgitated. I think for myself and write what I think. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to read it……………………though reading differing opinions can stimulate interesting discussion.

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With that thought in mind, this is what I think of the series Outlander adapted from the books by Diana Gabaldon.

 Bloody brilliant!!!!!!!!

 I could stop there – but just a short explanation.

Ronald D. Moore, the writers, Maril and the other producers, the entire crew (Jon Gary Steele and his team, Terry D and her team, set dressers, animal handlers, the people that have to schlep gear all over the Scottish countryside, and all those I’m missing)…henceforth known as “THE TEAM” – these people are taking a huge, many layered, rich, profound story of history, love, intrigue, politics plus much more and trying to cram it into being a television show. TV – generally speaking – isn’t all that deep. There are some great stories out there, and things that are fun to watch, but television is entertainment first and foremost. There is no way to cram thirty nine hours of book (audio book time is 39 hours 6 minutes for DiA) into just under twelve hours of television and make everyone happy.

Diana Gabaldon has woven so many enchanting, laugh inducing, tear spilling scenes into her books that are wonderful to read and enrich the story – but aren’t necessarily fundamental to the plot. These very scenes are often fan favorites that would be great to see, but there simply isn’t time to have them all.

For instance: the scene of Jamie avoiding some nasty guys intent to do him harm where he grabs a rather large, hard sausage as a weapon and ends up ducking into a brothel to avoid detection. Sam would have made this an absolute treat to watch and I would have loved seeing it – but I totally understand why it wasn’t in the show. The scene simply did not advance the story in any meaningful way and so the space was given to other things that did.

There are fans that say some of the scenes don’t have anything to do with the books and why are they there…they are a waste of time! This other ‘junk’ is taking away from Jamie & Claire and their ‘relationship’ (a note on that in a minute). It may not have anything to do with the BOOKS, but it may have a great deal to do with the STORY that is being told on screen that we as viewers don’t KNOW yet. Have patience. Have a little faith.

There have been many complaints about J & C not getting enough screen time for their ‘relationship’ (SEX). I disagree. I see a much deeper connection between them now than when they were burning up the screen. The intimacy is definitely there and sex isn’t necessary to drive the overall story right now – there are other things that need to be seen. I enjoy a good sex scene as  much as the next person, and while Sam & Caitriona are beautiful people that have explosive chemistry on screen making such scenes a joy to watch, I think it would have been distracting given the complexity and gravity of the time and place they find themselves and how compacted the storyline needs to be to get through the entire book. It’s obvious they ARE intimate – every look, touch, interaction lets you see that. It isn’t necessary to play it out on the screen. Of course – that is just MY opinion and I doubt it will be a popular one.

Overall, I love what THE TEAM is doing and will continue to watch and support the series however I can. Does this mean I totally agree with EVERY decision they make? Nope. But I trust that they are making a great television show based on some favorite novels. I like the differences, the points of view contrasting my own to give me new and broader perspective on the story as a whole. What would be the point of keeping it exactly the same? If I wanted exactly the same story, I’d turn off the TV and curl back up with the books.

Please share with all involved doing the show as I know I’ll miss people when I do my tweet! THANKS!!!

Cheers!

Who am I to comment?

Was pondering some things I wanted to write about Outlander: The Series (watch this space) and realized some people probably wonder who the heck I think I am to have any right to voice an opinion …..usually a lengthy one.

First, I am a person with thoughts and opinions. Like anyone else, I can and do share them. I put them out on a public forum partly because it’s a compulsion to write and partly because I like the interaction that can be obtained from comments about my thoughts.

Second, I have chosen to write (at this point) mostly about books, television and movie stuff which I have a bit of experience with. This is what I thought might be a good idea to share, this experience, so perhaps it will make it easier for people to understand where I’m coming from. Maybe. Hopefully I won’t bore you to death.

I am an avid reader (though I’m in sort of a dry spell just now). Was reading from the time I could (4-5), had gone through the entire Nancy Drew series by 9-10 years old and was bored with them so didn’t continue on to The Hardy Boys. I’ve read across most genres – easy to difficult; fiction and non-fiction. Don’t do much straight ‘horror’ – though I’m somewhat obsessed with vampires. (Salem’s Lot was great.) There are so many books still to read and more coming out all the time. YEA!

In early primary I had a very ‘out there’ sort of teacher. Very unique that went way past the standard curriculum. I was in a 2nd/3rd grade combination class (so 7 – 9 year olds depending on birthdates) and we made a 7 minute animated movie. We all participated and worked through the process. It was fascinating! Now keep in mind, this was also around 1972…..so….no computers, no digital cameras. We had our character – picture – move a fraction – picture – move another fraction….and so on. Took us weeks to do it all but so much great info – background, movement, lighting, measurements, color, story, and working together as a team.

Late primary I got selected with a group to do a project that was fun. A college class for TV production (I think – long time ago) wanted to do a ‘production’ of “The Gong Show” (man am I dating myself or what) using kids. It was cheesy and fun, but while we didn’t have to do much but sit or stand and say our lines (I got to ring the gong) we got to sit and watch all the work THEY had to do setting up cameras and getting the lights right and tweaking costumes that didn’t work on camera, etc. Again….too early for digital and computer help.

I took theatre classes in high school and participated in several shows – both straight acting and musicals. I was also a member of both an acapella choir and a jazz choir. Mostly stuck with on stage stuff during this time….however…a movie was filmed at my high school and since they wanted to use our newspaper office for a scene, those of us that worked on the paper were tagged to be background in it if needed. We got camped out in the theatre for the day waiting for our call. It was annoying, but necessary and since it was just the six of us that day we got to have lunch with the cast/crew. THAT was cool, entertaining and quite informative. The subject of sex scenes came up and our ‘keeper’ said most people – cast and crew both – hate having to film them. Very difficult as it is supposed to be this intimate thing with people standing around watching. I was the only one tapped for the walk-on bit which ended up being a sit down pretend to be typing bit in a hideous pink sweater (and the scene never made it into the movie). The completed scene took 2 – 3 minutes MAX and we worked on it for about 3 hours. Matthew Modine is a very nice guy by the way.

There was also a program in my home city called “Catch a Rising Star” for teachers to nominate what they considered ‘exceptional’ students to be featured on. Combination of academics, participation in extra-curricular events and community involvement. I spent a day with three people following me all over the school with a big-assed camera and light, asking questions and generally making life complicated. It was cool and many people wanted to talk to me and congratulate me – but others slung a lot of nastiness and hate at me for being singled out. C’est la vie.

College – ah college. Music theatre where I had small parts and helped backstage with lighting and sound mostly. Every one of my elective classes over five years (don’t ask) was theatre/acting oriented. I’m sure had the college offered such a thing I would have had a minor in it at least. It was also my ‘work-study’ program for four years. Students ‘work’ on campus to help pay their way. I did a bit of everything: working with the directors for all sorts of things (some of it quite weird), advertising, house management, properties, lighting, sound, make-up and costumes. I didn’t do much set design/construction mostly because the lead there and I – well we worked best if our interaction with each other was kept to a minimum. He had a great team anyway and I would have been more a hindrance than a help. The last two years I was lead on costumes – yikes. At the same time, I was in the traveling troupe that went around to schools and churches doing skits and programs. As a group we wrote and submitted scripts to the director. We had to come up with outfits for the troupe that were sort of a uniform, but still plain enough to work into each skit (no time or place for actual costume changes). We had to think through what ALL we needed for props and costume that would work for multiple skits and all fit in a single trunk.

It was an amazing time and I loved all of it.

After college, I moved to the small town of Sitka, AK where she who became my best friend (ended up being matron of honor for my second marriage) was also THE director for the towns community theatre. My first show with her was Angry Housewives – what a KICK! If you can ever see that show, do. Couple of moms who need money enter a punk band contest because 1st prize is $500. Considering my highlight song was “Eat Your F*cking Cornflakes”…..gives you some clue as to how funny it is. Did a few other shows, but my second guy had a infant that needed a mom so I made a choice. Now I write.

I don’t relay any of this to brag or say how great I am. What I want to get across is that I have at least a TINY, real experience inkling of what it takes to do a ‘production’. Theatre and TV are completely different animals, yet you have to do many of the same things. It’s really an amazing process!

So, this is my background when I blog. It isn’t ALL my experience or background, but since books/television/movies seem to be my focus at this point, this is what is most pertinent. Please feel free to ask questions in the comments – I love stimulating interaction!

A final, fun – maybe scary – thought:

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CHEERS!

 

Feeding My Addiction

I haven’t written anything here for a long time.

Part of that, to be honest, is laziness. I didn’t want to put out the effort of working on something other people might read. Not that I haven’t been writing – just not writing for public consumption. I am a writer – I write; it’s a compulsive exercise to get things out of my head.

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The other part: I didn’t much see a point. I mean….most of the people that ‘read’ my posts tend to agree with me and see things the same way I do. The people that disagree with me, that I would like to present different ideas to don’t tend to read me and have me blocked where they can on social media. So what was the point of writing if it wasn’t having any real positive effect on the world? Hopefully I don’t cause negative affects but I suppose that is always a possibility.

There are some truly fantastic blogs out there about Outlander and I follow several of them. Recaps of each episode are numerous and most of those people write that sort of thing much better than I do. When I first worked on this blog, it was my choice not to do that. I wanted to write about things I saw in the fandom that were good or bad; things that bugged me or made me happy; things that – to me – could be potential problems. Some people really like what I’ve written, others not so much.

My thing has never been to point out/name specific people. I highlight behavior and actions. At that point “if the shoe fits”…….people pretty much let everyone know where/how they stand on something by their comments. Dialog and discussion is good. Understanding other perspectives helps people develop and grow – my only request is that things be done in a constructive manner, no personal attacks and don’t just argue to argue.

So with that in mind, I want to start writing here again. Spout off about whatever strikes my fancy on a given day. It might be about Outlander – it might not. (Outlander is an awesome set of books a great TV show, but it is NOT the be-all / end-all of my world. Nor is Sam Heughan nice as he is.) I have other interests. Other actors and shows I follow and enjoy. I read LOTS of other authors. I live on a sailboat which is great but has its own challenges. You just never know what I might opine about until you look.

Fair warning: I am not a big proponent of being “politically correct”. I will likely say things that will offend some people. Not that offending anyone is ever my intention, but I speak plainly and have my own standards that don’t always jive with the current politically correct climate. Let me know if I’ve offended, I’ll try to explain better or understand your POV. Attack me, I’ll ignore you.

 Courtesy

This has been my introduction to the rest of my blogging…follow or not, I plan to write anyway. I hope I can have some positive impact on at least a few people.

CHEERS!