Shaking My Head

The response to my last blog was mind-blowing and humbling. A huge thank you to all who read it and responded. The puzzling bit for me, was that out of the literally thousands of views and many comments/responses – I never got an answer to the question from the people that I was targeting with the post. SMH

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There is another thing I am constantly SMH over with this series/fandom.

Over and over again, the big complaint is “I wish they would stick to the material in the books! The episodes are so much better when they do!” Or some variation on this. Complaints about changing the story or making up something completely off book to fill in time when they have SO much they could draw on from the books. Again, I have laid out my thinking about this in another blog post The Book is the Book and the Show is the Show if you haven’t already seen it.

People want the series to follow the books more closely – dialog/story/characters – but only really fuss about something important to them (and everyone has their own opinion of what is special/important). Yet other times – they do NOT want to follow the book because they don’t happen to like it.

For example – STOP CHANGING THE STORY but how cool is it that Murtagh is still around!

I love the character of Murtagh and I think Duncan Lacroix is awesome, but I’m not thrilled he is on the Ridge. To me, this is Jamie’s time to come into his own and deal with life without that safety net. Having said that, I don’t ‘complain’ about it (though I might explain my position) because I think the writers have done a good job folding him into the story and I DO like the character. So…it is what it is.

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Keep in mind – there is just SO SO much in the books that simply can’t make it into the series and that everyone has their own ideas as to what is critical to see and what isn’t. Also, even when The Team DOES do that critical scene or bit or costume, not everyone will be happy because it isn’t ‘right’ for what is in their head. Another post that covers this is Differing Opinions: Books vs TV Series – the comments are enlightening as well.

A final thought: the show is going to do what it is going to do. Some people will love it, some people will hate it – either in total or bits and pieces. The people that have accepted that the show isn’t ever going to BE the books, seem to enjoy it a whole lot more.

Why Keep Watching?

In doing some restructuring of my blog page, I’m realizing I’m not very good at practicing what I preach. I tend to sit down to do a blog (usually for Outlander) a bit hot-under-the-collar about something. I’ll try to do better.

I believe I am a fairly intelligent person. For the most part, I can reason things out pretty well and feel I have a good amount of common sense to get me through life. But I am seriously boggled by something and just can’t seem to come up with a reasonable explanation. Perhaps those who participate in this particular phenomenon can explain. I’m not trying to be snotty or dismissive or condescending here, I honestly want to, try, to understand.

 

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If Outlander, the TV Series, annoys/pisses you off/irritates you so much that you feel you have to bash/trash/condemn it across social media – why do you keep watching?

I am asking a serious question here. I’ve seen some comment that they ‘hope it will get better’ or ‘hope the writers will get their heads out of their arses and fix it’ or ‘they hold out hope the series will come back to its source material’. Really?

Keep in mind, I’m not referring to the many people that discuss or have spirited debates about what they liked/didn’t like, the variations from the written source material or, what they feel, are changes to the base of the character. I’m referring to those people who spew acidic speech making it seem this is the most horrible show they have ever watched and the world will end because the creative team doing it is totally f*cking up what should be a totally simple accomplishment of cramming 44+ hours of story into approximately 13 hours.

The series is the vision of the creative team, headed by Ronald D. Moore, BASED on the books that Diana Gabaldon wrote. Ron only ever promised that they would stay true to the spirit of the story. Television is NOT a novel – it can’t do/be the things the written word can be. It has restraints and constraints that books don’t. Ron and the team are trying to create good television, not ‘recreate’ the books written by DG. I address this in The Book is the Book and the Show is the Show (if you care to read it).

Also, it’s not that people have issues with what is being presented in the series, it is HOW they express themselves that sets my teeth on edge. I did a whole blog on that too (Courtesy & Respect) so I won’t repeat here.

I would seriously LOVE to get feedback as to why so many keep watching the show when they are so obviously infuriated by it. I saw one comment saying if we (those frustrated/angry/upset) quit watching the show will tank completely and be cancelled. But, doesn’t all that negativity and nasty comments turn off potential new viewers? If people search through social media about this show called Outlander and see all the really horrible comments, aren’t they likely to be turned off without ever giving the show a chance?

I simply can NOT understand if something – anything – frustrates and annoys you so much why you would continue to spend your valuable and limited time on it? We all only have so many minutes/hours/days/etc. to spend on things…wouldn’t we be best served to spend that time on things that bring us joy or enrich our lives or enhance our understanding?

You love the books/characters/story Diana has created but the series is driving you mental with the changes/adaptations/shifts. I’m not saying “just stop watching and stick to the books you love” …. I’m seriously asking “why do you keep watching when you know it will only annoy you?”

Comments? Explanations? Help me understand – seriously.

If I were to die tomorrow – Would there be any sorrow?

I hope so. But I’m not a celebrity or anyone important….I’m just me.

Most of us have been there at one time or another; for some, far more often than is healthy. That place of utter devastation, that crevasse of self-loathing, that arid plain of feeling completely useless to ourselves or anyone else. That heavy heart at lack of accomplishment or that pit of despair from loss.

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This picture, a moment on celluloid, has always captured that for me.

Interestingly, it also comes from one of my favorite movies – especially this time of year. To me “It’s a Wonderful Life” is all about realizing that I (along with every person alive) have worth in this world. Some people choose to throw that worth in the gutter by committing evil acts and some just can’t grasp that about themselves, but I believe it to be true.

George Bailey wasn’t anyone special. Just a guy who had hard slaps in life, yet managed to keep moving forward. He had big dreams he never quite realized. He often felt let down, a failure, unable to provide for his family the way he wanted to – yet those were small moments in a productive life.

He had no real idea (nor do we) just how many lives he touched and affected. He just lived his life, doing what he felt was right, even when it wasn’t always convenient. More, each of those lives he touched, affected others, who touched others and the ripple continued. Like we each do every day. When Clarence gives him the chance to really see what others lives would have been like without him, it is a startling revelation of how ordinary acts can make a huge difference.

PTSD, depression and their related issues are too big an issue to include here. Maybe another time – if it’s something people would be interested to see.

I understand, all too well, the idea that just giving up on life would be far too easy some days. The situation I am in currently, I often feel like more of a burden to my wonderful partner than a helpmate. So many goals and dreams I’ve all but given up on…what is the point of continuing?

So, I’ll watch the movie again and remind myself that, while I may not get to see it, I have no idea how much that tweet or FB post or email or note might lift someone else and be helpful. That simple smile given to a stranger. All the little things I just DO because it’s who I am – that may make a huge difference to someone I’ll never know about.

I’ll remember that, just because some of my dreams haven’t been realized, I’ve been blessed in other ways I never imagined. Just as, to him, George’s dreary existence made his little corner of the world a better place – maybe I can do that too. I don’t have to be a superstar or a celebrity to make a difference. Alive or dead a may not have thousands who will follow all I say or do or would mourn my passing. All I can do is be true to myself and strive every day to be the best I can be and thankful for all I have.

I hope all my ‘friends’ on social media can find their ‘hope’ in something over the holidays. While the holiday season is great in many ways, it can also bring out the bad stuff in a big way.

However you celebrate, be blessed. If you need it, here is a hug to help get you through.

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EMBRACE LIFE!

Someone sent me these gems in an email today – and I wanted to pass them along to anyone willing to open their heart to the message. I don’t know if any or all of them are ‘true’ – but that really doesn’t matter. They touched my heart – I hope they will touch yours.

helenkeller1-2xI’ve seen too much hate for our fellow human beings lately over things that – should bring us together to find solutions rather than tearing us apart creating conflict. We all need to do better.

These moments can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere – if we just open our hearts and let them. Namaste.

 

Tissue recommended.

 

Today, I interviewed my grandmother for part of a research paper I’m working on for my Psychology class. When I asked her to define success in her own words, she said;

“Success is when you look back at your life and the memories make you smile.”

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Today, I asked my mentor, a very successful business man in his 70s, what his top 3 tips are for success.

He smiled and said; “Read something no one else is reading, think something no one else is thinking, and do something no one else is doing.”

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Today, after my 72-hour shift at the fire station, a woman ran up to me at the grocery store and gave me a hug. When I tensed up, she realized I didn’t recognize her. She let go with tears of joy in her eyes and the most sincere smile and said;

“On 9-11-2001, you carried me out of the World Trade Center.”

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Today, after I watched my dog get run over by a car, I sat on the side of the road holding him and crying. And just before he died;

he licked the tears off my face.

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Today at 7AM, I woke up feeling ill, but decided I needed the money, so I went into work At 3PM I got laid off. On my drive home I got a flat tire. When I went into the trunk for the spare, it was flat too.

A man in a BMW pulled over, gave me a ride, we chatted, and then he offered me a job.

I start tomorrow.

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Today, as my father, three brothers and two sisters, stood around my mother’s hospital bed, my mother uttered her last coherent words before she died.

She simply said, “I feel so loved right now. We should have gotten together like this more often.”

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Today, I kissed my dad on the forehead as he passed away in a small hospital bed. About 5 seconds after he passed,

I realized it was the first time I had given him a kiss since I was a little boy.

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Today, in the cutest voice, my 8-year-old daughter asked me to start recycling. I chuckled and asked, “Why?” She replied, “So you can help me save the planet.” I chuckled again and asked, “And why do you want to save the planet?”

“Because that’s where I keep all my stuff,” she said

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Today, when I witnessed a 27-year-old breast cancer patient laughing hysterically at her 2-year-old daughter’s antics, I suddenly realized that,

I need to stop complaining about my life and start celebrating it again.

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Today, a boy in a wheelchair saw me desperately struggling on crutches with my broken leg and offered to carry my backpack and books for me. He helped me all the way across campus to my class and as he was leaving he said,

“I hope you feel better soon.”

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Today, I was feeling down because the results of a biopsy came back malignant. When I got home, I opened an e-mail that said, “Thinking of you today. If you need me, I’m a phone call away.”

It was from a high school friend I hadn’t seen in 10 years.

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Today, I was traveling in Kenya and I met a refugee from Zimbabwe. He said he hadn’t eaten anything in over 3 days and looked extremely skinny and unhealthy. Then my friend offered him the rest of the sandwich he was eating.

The first thing the man said was, “We can share it.”

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The best sermons are lived, not preached.

 

 

Drama and Politics

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*BIG SIGH*

As a general rule, I refrain from commenting about politics on social media for a couple of reasons. One, there are many people I enjoy interacting with that do not hold the same political ideas that I do. Politics are a f*cked up deal and I don’t want them dictating my personal interactions. Second, on Twitter especially (even with the increase in characters) it is difficult to have a really decent discussion about something as layered and nuanced as politics are. Just for example…I am pro-choice AND pro-life. Yeah, try to explain that easily on any social media platform where you don’t have tone, body language and other markers to help give and get the message.

Every person has an opinion, a belief system, things that are of vast importance to them and it is their right to express those thoughts and ideas. Social media has been a mecca for people all over the world to do just that. Yes…that includes celebrities. Actors and other ‘names’ are still just people with things that are important to them and the right, like everyone else, to express their ideas and opinions.

It can be very difficult when someone is a ‘fan’ to have that ‘celebrity’ espousing things they are dead set against. The current political climate is just nasty and having a celebrity you have long enjoyed and supported be on the opposing side can be frustrating. You don’t want to hear their political agenda, you want to hear about their current project or their great new character or nifty little tidbits about their personal life. There has been a lot of ‘hate’ in the last year on this subject, and it came up again pretty strongly in the last 24 hours.

Celebrities have every right to post, discuss, and support what is important to them – just like their fans do. If a favorite celebrity is on the other side of politics from you, there are a couple of options. 1) Just scroll past their posts about politics – don’t engage. 2) Stop following them on social media. If it is going to bug you that much, don’t put yourself through it. 3) Mute them when they are talking politics so you don’t have to see it. No one talks politics all the time and that might be an easy fix. 4) Try engaging them in a respectful conversation about your differences of opinion. Telling them to shut up, just do your job or calling names – never appropriate. It just isn’t. Have a little class and respect yourself enough not to look like a loon.

I completely support any celebrity that wants to post their feelings/ideas/political thoughts on social media – they, however, need to keep in mind a few things. People most often DO follow them for their ‘work’ (be it acting, sports, music….whatever makes them a ‘celebrity’) and not for their political leanings. That is what your public is interested in. You have every right to post political comments, just as your fans/supporters have the right to not appreciate it and stop supporting you. I also have the concern that, celebrities often live in their own little bubble – what is real for them may not translate well to their fans. With a huge following, in my mind, there is a responsibility to be accurate and informed when commenting. Thousands follow – and things can get ugly very quickly. How many celebrities have tweeted something out in haste only to be in a shit storm for a week? Everyone has to make their own choices in what they will or won’t post on social media – celebrities just need to understand that because of the numbers they command, some responsibility come with that.

One of my biggest frustrations that causes me great sadness in the current political climate, is how nasty people are being to each other. Harsh language, ugly names, slurs, threats…..it’s all so stupid! Families that are split; parents keeping kids away from grandparents; brothers and sisters not speaking to each other, people that have been friends through the worst sort of trials for years or decades at war with each other. WTF?! Really?

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We are where we are politically. Both sides need to grow up and start taking some personal responsibility. If you don’t like a political standpoint – see my points above – don’t attack the other person no matter who they are. All attacking does is put them on the defensive and throw out any possibility of sane conversation. There is a lot of bad mojo going on in the world right now, but until we can act like civilized adults and start working together instead of constantly fighting, NONE of it will get fixed.

Here is another really good thought to leave you all with. We’ve all seen it before, something to keep in mind these dark days especially.

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Namaste

 

The Book is the Book & the Show is the Show

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I’ve been hanging out on the CompuServe forums quite a bit lately, and have been seeing an interesting trend in the comments. My ‘take’ is that the majority of the forum are book lovers that watch the show based on their love of the books.

As a side note, this is a place where there are many opinions and much nit-picking, but done with courtesy and respect. It’s a nice breather from most of the social media out there.

What I see as a trend in the comments, all over social media, is the disappointment of the show cutting out wonderful bits of the story claiming there ‘just isn’t time’ yet inserting other things that are totally off book that take up time. If they can do that, why can’t they use the wonderful material provided for them right there in the books?!

Now, I don’t have a degree or even much study in TV production. I have read what was basically a text book about TV production (A book called “Inside Section One” about the making of the original La Femme Nikita series) which opened my eyes to many things about making a weekly TV show that would never have crossed my mind. In this post I am merely taking my minor experience with acting, doing theatre (both on stage and behind the curtain), having participated in a movie, reading that book and just my own thinking and formulating one possibility as to why the show is going the way it is. It is an opinion, nothing more – I have no idea if I am thinking correctly or not.

The Team has said from day one that this would be an adaptation that would adhere to the story of the books as closely as possible. They have also said, absolutely, that while they will do their best to satisfy the long-standing fans of the books, their first priority is to make good television.

The term ‘good television’ is, somewhat, subjective. I know some people that think good TV is 24/7 sports. Others, find good TV in blood/guts/gore. Some, think reality TV is the greatest. Comedy, drama, soaps and so on….everyone has their own idea of what is good or bad television. For the bean counters, it is a show that will include the biggest possible audience that will draw in advertisers and grow to keep making money. There is quite often a ‘target’ audience. I know with LFN the original ‘target’ was 18 – 35 year old males, hence Peta Wilson in the title role. However, as the show progressed, while the producers got that target audience, they were shocked to find their biggest most supportive audience was 18 to 65 year old women because of the lead male role of Michael played brilliantly by Roy Dupuis (who they didn’t want originally).

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I would say, JMHO, that for the particular show of Outlander, good television is meaning that it appeals to a fairly large audience (those interested in the books, Scotland, history, drama, and adventure with the added twist of time-travel). Good television has to capture an audience with EACH episode. One never knows when a viewer will stumble upon an episode having no idea the show exists or, never having watched it, and – lacking better options at that moment chooses to watch. So, there has to be tension, some comedy moments for relief, some conflict that can happen and be resolved in that timeframe while leaving a bigger thing hanging to draw viewers back to the next episode. A lot to balance.

Diana is a wordsmith of epic proportions – literally. Davina Porter reading the unabridged version of Voyager goes 42 hours and 50 minutes. The Team is trying to shoehorn this story into around 13 hours. Bloody YIKES!    UPDATE for Season 4 – “Drums of Autumn” read by Davina Porter runs 44 hours and 50 minutes….a full 2 hours longer than Voyager and still trying to get crammed into just under 13 hours.

Like all the Outlander books, Diana has woven a rich, thick, complicated tapestry of a story. Even many of the ‘secondary’ characters (Mr. Willoughby/Yi Tien Cho is a great example) have pages and pages dedicated to ‘their’ story. All these wonderful side bits and stories within stories that she can layer in because she has the time and space to do that – and while they are rich material, those bits might be far too complicated to get across in a one hour-ish episode with lots of other stuff going on.

So, here is my thinking. The team takes the important bits of the story that need to be kept in to keep cohesion (Jamie & Claire’s relationship, young Ian being kidnapped, going after Ian which takes them to Jamaica and beyond) and breaks those important elements into the 13 episodes they have been given to work with. Then they have to fill the time for those episodes in such a way to make it ‘good television’ (all the points I mentioned above) and keep the flow of the story. To me, this means inserting less complicated bits to hit all the notes they need to while keeping with the main push of the story and ending the episode in such a way people will want to come back.

I know many book people are disappointed with missing so much of the rich material that is in the books, but really, because it is so layered and nuanced, it is hard to give it any kind of justice in the time they have. Likely it is far easier to invent a simple bit of tension; the “Jonah” arc in “The Doldrums” episode rather than trying to actually explain the entire story behind Yi Tien Cho. It keeps to the overall story in plausibility without stripping a good piece of writing down to so little as to be meaningless and still be plausible within the frame of the original work.

I have truly never minded the differences because I started out on the journey of the series expecting them. I can embrace them because I like being shown a different facet of the same story – seeing it from a different perspective that challenges my own thinking. Also, the books will always be there to drown in and enjoy in a way, no matter how much you might like the series, simply has no comparison.

Again, this is only MY opinion and thoughts.

Cheers!

“King of Men” – really?

As anyone who has read this blog for a while knows, I go a different direction from most of the Outlander blogs. There are several exceptional bloggers out there that recap and discuss the various episodes so well that I wasn’t even going to try. I have read some fabulous takes on Ep306 and many of the comments following them were enlightening as well.
Looking back at my various posts; I can get preachy. Sorry. That really isn’t my intention when I’m writing (well ok sometimes it is). I just see something I really like or really hate and spout off about it. It’s just my personal take on things meant to give people a different perspective. Should be interesting to see where this post lands.

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Some people were disappointed with certain aspects of this episode. I can empathize with that, but not with how a few chose to express themselves about it. I already ranted about that – done – no worries. However, I saw and interesting comment on one of those many great blogs yesterday and it made me think, which prompted me to write something so here we go.

This brought some different perspective to me & helps me not hate the episode. But I still always get the feeling that the writers just don’t “get” Jamie & his larger than life personality as the “king of men”.

I paused over this for quite some time. First because I’m pretty sure it was in the writer’s room with RDM that this phrase first came into use. *Edit – I have had this confirmed by DG. Second – I’ve never seen Jamie that way.    *ducking*   Let me explain.
Part of what makes Jamie the ‘king of men’ is that he always says exactly the right thing (he doesn’t ALWAYS because he isn’t perfect, but way more often than not). He says all these ‘perfect’ things because he has an incredibly talented, witty and wise woman writing his lines for him. She also writes his actions and thoughts. The character may ‘talk’ to Diana – but it is still all in HER head.
Sam/Jamie has the same benefit with amazing writers and directors to help him out.

Jamie – contrary to often voiced opinion – is not perfect. He has a tendency to be arrogant. (Be honest with how full of himself he was taking over Lallybroch and how WAY out of his league he was). He can be a hot-head and not think through the possible repercussions of his actions; probably why it drives him so crazy when Claire does it. There is other smaller stuff, but those are the big things. I mean, some of what Jamie does – if it was anyone else (including your own partner for those that have one) you’d probably want to slap them silly.
Part of what made me fall in love with this story is that the characters were so ‘real’. They all have flaws, they screw up, they have moments of perfection and they slog their way through life like all mortals must. Perfect is plastic and very uninteresting.
Sam plays/portrays Jamie in a very physical – yet often subtle way. He so reminds me of one of my favorite actors – Roy Dupuis (I have a page dedicated to him here). Roy is a master at communicating a great deal with only his eyes and the tiniest of movements. If anyone has seen the original La Femme Nikita series and the character of Michael – you know exactly what I mean. Sam has a lot this same talent; the ability to let things just power out of his eyes and use of body language and movement to express things rather than words. The performances are all the more powerful for their subtleness. It also means when a line is delivered or big movement is used, they are that much more dramatic.
The actor and the character he/she portrays have a unique bond. Sam has made some choices in how Jamie acts and reacts based on the character that has been developed over the first two seasons and where he knows things are going. The ‘base’ of Jamie is the books – of course – but this Jamie is in the alternate reality of the TV series so, while still Jamie, there can and will be minor differences.
Maybe part of the reason I don’t get all wound up about the differences or even outright changes in the show from the book is I expect them. I’m not asking the show to be ‘perfect’ – I’m asking that it be good, well-done television that stays true to the characters and story (within the constraints episode numbers/time imposes). I believe ‘The Team’ has done this. The story – the important main artery of the story – is still there. The characters a still very real and relatable – not perfect.

I don’t feel Jamie is the ‘King of Men’ – I don’t like putting anyone on that much of a pedestal for them to fall from. I like him better being a good guy that still screws things up (people will understand, trying to be nice here to non-readers) yet is steadfast for his love, family and what he feels is right.

Well done.