Context Matters. Let us talk Outlander, shall we?

Are there differences between the reality of a fictional book world and the reality of a fictional television drama and the reality of reality?

There was much noise about “this isn’t the way that happened in the book”  and “how could her belt disappear” starting in episode 1 of OUTLANDER, but in truth, it is all made up. If you are able to buy the notion that Claire traveled through standing stones, back 202 years and immediately ran into her husband’s ancestor, who just happened to be in the same location at that moment, and who is the spitting image of him despite there being, what, 1/16 of the gene pool from Black Jack Randall, why can’t you accept a belt disappearing? (Continuity accidents on set, people. It’s a fictional belt, in any event.)

The costume designer has explained the how and why of Claire having more clothes than you think she should. Why do you deserve a reason, anyway? (Time. It helps to indicate passage of time. When you change Claire’s clothing you are inferring a different day. And the housekeeper, Mrs. Fitz, runs a tight ship and was able to find any number of outfits to borrow–six mix and match, “Granimal” type deals in Castle Leoch.)

But it wasn’t in the book, you continue to lament!

You love Frick and Frack Tweedle,  aka Angus and Rupert, and yet they are not anything like they are in the books, where they are scary, dour and large. They are comic relief  on the show, and yet, you have come to love The Tweedles.  You who know their fates are asking that those be changed, because we love them so much. Why can you accept the Tweedle’s place in the adaptation, embrace them (the typical TV trope of numskull neighbors), but you can’t handle that TV Jamie is  maybe a wee bit more romantic than book Jamie, who bought a ring instead of having one made, or is an inch shorter on screen than in real fictional life?

None of this actually happened!

It is ALL PRETEND. Some of it is book pretend and some of it is TV pretend, but none of it is documentary.  None of it is actual history. (Well, within reason. Some events did actually occur, although Jamie and Claire were probably not there. And, yes, as they do have a certain Forrest Gump way of being in the right place at the right time, they do run into actual historical people, albeit in a fictional way.)

The sole reason I can see that Jamie had a handmade ring on the TV show was because they needed to find something for the Tweedle’s to do that created a wonderful soft comic moment, that fell into the rhythm of the flashback storytelling of The Wedding.  It’s the symbolism of the the ring that is important, not it’s design, composition or origin. A ring made from the key to his home (?—Not verified, but strong indicators are that it’s a key to Lallybroch) indicates an acceptance and willingness to fully embrace Claire. She is part of WE now. And, we have to learn to TRUST RON. There will be pieces that move around (or get lost) for a better telling in episodic TV.

You are not going to go back and read the book and discover it’s now a key. The book you love isn’t changed. Can I insert here that that concept –of electronic books, especially history books, being changed to suit what the ruling class wants you to know is a continuing fantasy/horror/dystopian nightmare of mine?

How do we KNOW Frank didn’t do what he does on the show? Didn’t search, didn’t love so deeply, didn’t mourn? How do we know that Diana hasn’t told Ron what DID happen? Diana knows what happened/happens/will happen, even if we don’t.  There is so much that could happen off screen—

None of the costuming is accurate, historically, because even if the wool was spun by hand in a room lit by candles on a treadle spinner, the sheep the wool came from wasn’t even born in 1743, so it’s totally inaccurate. I am not interested in coming off like a sycophant, but really there are so few things that actually bother me about the show. I am looking at the big picture.

It IS a ripping good yarn, as show runner Ronald D. Moore points out, and it deviates almost immediately from formula because Diana Gabaldon WASN’T writing it for publication, but to learn how to write a novel. Or so we HAVE to believe, because Herself SAYS so, and were you there to disprove it? Ok, a bit of “aw shucks” about the retelling of such a happy accident; how much is what she wants the story to be?  Or better yet, why do we question it? It is the story of OUTLANDER’S birth. It was a practice novel, and, the hero and heroine marry early in the novel. Already not a romance by the numbers. And, 8000 or so pages in, they are still in love, and are grandparents. Much more than an epic love affair, OUTLANDER begins a multi-generational sweeping historical fiction series of novels.

In Diana’s ORIGINAL story, OUTLANDER, the first of 8 books, Frank is a cipher. By WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEARTS BLOOD, he is a very different man, and one who, in my humble opinion, is a more sympathetic character. Whether Diana had always intended for him to be more complex, or whether he showed up and wouldn’t leave, he is much more than one note.  He is actually a note on the show that a lot of folks don’t want to accept, because they are all about ALL Jamie/Claire, all the time. A lot of those readers are not particularly interested in the history, the tapestry she weaves, the other characters stories. How many times I have read people say, get on with it, stop writing about battles, about Willie, about Bree, about… well, about anything that isn’t 100% Jamie/Claire-centric. Those readers are totally missing what this is all about. I hope that viewers will embrace the fullness of the story.

We have had to wait over 20 years for this to become a TV show. And we were then given only eight episodes of magic.  And some complain about that, too. Then some complain that we have to wait too long for part two.

So, one more itty bitty thing. We are Diana Gabaldon fans. 10698621_10205421072830219_4101314330111693137_nApril 4, 2015? Jamie can perch on a windowsill that long. We’ve got this.

#Droughtlander ends Saturday

(Spoilers from this point if you haven’t read the book-and my comments are from the books depiction, as I haven’t seen the episode yet)

And now, some will complain about something else entirely. Let the wailing and gnashing of teeth and the carrying on of ‘The Reckoning,’ 1.9 begin.

As fiction, THIS IS the way things were, in THIS world, whether or not it’s historically accurate or not acceptable today. Jamie and the men were put into amazing bodily peril by Claire not truly understanding the danger she was walking into. A woman of the 20th century believes in a civility and world order that is vastly different than where she ended up. 

In order for his men to continue following Jamie, for him to be able to lead, he has to make SURE Claire understands, and he points out that her punishment is mild compared to what one of the men might receive. The punishment is measured, but not in anger or fury. It is to show that he is in charge, that he takes the protection of his people seriously, that there is justice and that there are consequences to actions. This is incredibly different from the modern husband smacking his wife around and bloodying her nose because she didn’t bring his beer fast enough or because dinner was not hot enough.

The larger point is—he sees Claire as an EIGHTEENTH CENTURY woman who is being willfully disobedient, who should know the consequences of her actions and yet still puts them all in danger, all for a nebulous bit of wandering around. He has no clue she was trying to go forward in time, to get back to Frank. For all we know, he could think she has turned on them and actually is a double agent.  Jamie has one piece of information withheld from him that would make it all different. If Jamie were aware that Claire was from a different time, she would explain her thoughts about strapping, and he would explain his reasoning to her. But because he has no reason to think she wasn’t from his time, he would think she would know, expect, assume the consequences of her actions.

He doesn’t know any better than to use corporal punishment, not because of a big moral failing on his part, but simply because that’s how it was then.  A wife was property. Legally, a husband could punish his wife for disobedience.  Or, a father could have his daughter beaten for disobedience. Just a few episodes (chapters) back, the community at large was willing to allow a teenaged girl to be beaten in front of them in the Great Hall for disobedience. (How many of us who know the future wish Jamie had just let Rupert have at Laoghaire?) And remember, too, that Colum Mackenzie was the law. There are no Edinburgh policemen to enforce law. Just the laird.

Also, keep in mind that Claire is an unreliable narrator; in the book, she often says one thing and then does the polar opposite. Who is Claire telling this story to, and what editing, embellishment, or changes does Claire make as she recounts what had occurred? (And the bigger unanswered question—WHEN is she telling this story??)

This is one episode—But this is the very, very beginning of an 8000 page love story. It’s brutal, it’s bloody, it’s real (fictional real).  Jamie becomes a man among men through his experiences. He learns from Claire. He becomes a better, more rounded, and definitely a more modern man, because of Claire.

Of course, your mileage may vary. If you have had intimate experience with abuse or with sexual assault, it may be a difficult thing to let go by. It isn’t glorifying these things, but it isn’t shying away from them, either. It can be jarring. It ISN’T real, though. Except in it’s own world, it is a work of fiction. 

There is this website called StoryWonk. The couple who run it are dedicated to the idea of “story.” They have done an episode by episode podcast, and at hiatus started a seminar for the book.Listen to Scott and the Sassenachs seminar for Outlander. It’s a 17 episode podcast that takes apart the story chapter by chapter, and gives great insight into the story—the structure of it; the good the bad, and ugly. It is like taking a college literature class devoted to one book.  It draws your eyes to the incredible story telling as well as the deeper meanings that can be found implied in the text. I’ve read the book more than a half dozen times, and yet this seminar has drawn my attention to any number of things in a new way. Fascinating stuff, by very interesting people.

*I welcome discussion about this topic. Because I know it is very, very subjective and delicate, I ask that you respond with the same civility that you would if we were standing face to face.

Adaptations— A primer

ADAPT: to change your behavior so that it is easier to live in a particular place or situation

: to change (something) so that it functions better or is better suited for a purpose

: to change (a movie, book, play, etc.) so that it can be presented in another form

So, this book I love is becoming a TV series tonight (not a movie, not a mini-series, but a full on, 16 episode first season series!) I have had the pleasure of reading the books for over a decade,  seeing the first episode during the last week, and conversing via social media for  the past year with author, costumer and actors…. and you know what?

THEY are right and you may be wrong.

Outlander, the first of at last count an eight big-book series, (with a number of smaller works that go along with them) written by Diana Gabaldon, premieres as a TV show on Starz tonight.  The things that are IMPORTANT will be there. Possibly in a different order. (Patience, young grasshopper!) I have faith in this, because Ron D. Moore tells us his job as show runner is to not mess up his wife Terry’s favorite book.

The things that CAN be done will be done, and things that are important will stay. And if they aren’t still there, well maybe we are the ones who have created something in our heads that isn’t there. Seriously.


10559752_10152584443924246_6176897968434202756_n<—-Important bit. Included. (The text actually is NOT from the first episode, but the LOOK, so he can tell Claire this much later in the books, had to be in the first episode. )

As Ansel Adams said, There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer.

I would think that this is at least as true in the written word. When those words are then translated by hundreds of hard working actors, directors, screenwriters, costumers and set designers, the number of voices and visions might possibly deafen.

Each of us brings to any work of art, indeed, to any aspect of life, the sum total of all of our experiences. Either in the creating of said work, or in the consuming of it. That we have all had different life experiences doesn’t seem odd, and accordingly, our reading of words on a page must be influenced by different things. 

That doesn’t mean that any interpretation on screen is WRONG. It just may be different than what YOU brought to the reading of it and what you took from it.

After a year of having the supreme honor of hovering about the edges of this creative endeavor—following Twitter and Facebook conversations with writers and costumers and actors alike, I have to say that I think they’ve got it in hand. Trust them.

In the 8,000+ pages where he lives, the character Jamie has commented a number of times on his wife Claire’s substantial bottom.  That doesn’t actually mean that Claire’s rear aspect is overly large; indeed it could be read, as I did, as simple pillow-talk and playful behavior between Jamie and Claire. It also has absolutely no importance to the plot. For example, said plump ass never gets stuck in a doorway, blocking access for some thief in the night, which then causes a different outcome. If the big booty in question was required for the story, I’d be sorry to see them not get it right. (If you read the actual physical description of Claire, she is supposed to be about 130 lbs., and shorter than the actress portraying her. Diana Gabaldon put the height issue to bed quickly by suggesting that the only option was to find a less perfect actress or cut Cait’s feet off…)  Perhaps Jamie is simply a fan of Sir Mix-a-Lot?

As it is, I have to say that the ass, as shown, is a lovely round thing and how dare we as viewers denigrate an actor who is willing to bare all for the story? (Odd, isn’t it, to be admiring my ‘friend’ Cait’s backside, huh? I can’t imagine how I will be feeling when I get to see my other ‘friend’ Sam’s ass;– we have been assured he has a fine one, by the author Herself!)

Similarly, Claire’s eye color, a great device in storytelling, didn’t actually accomplish anything other than being a way of description. At no point does the heroine get caught because someone noticed her odd eye color and realized she was skulking about where she didn’t belong, thereby changing the story. Diana writes long books. Gorgeous, evocative description is obviously a part. And the camera is now going to create for us proof of how wonderfully deep and complex Claire may be, Caitrona Balfe’s eye color and butt size be damned.outlander-sam-heughan-caitriona-balfe-tobias-menzies However, Claire-hair WILL stay, and I think that a fine thing and a character of it’s own.


8,000 pages, give or take depending on your reading device, and the story isn’t finished. We, the long-time readers, can not continue to nit-pick every utterance or camera angle or choice made while ADAPTING the written word for the visual medium of TV. We are talking about taking one type of art and turning it into another type of art.10382772_10203709921660693_259376560995244149_n

There have to be changes. The medium requires it—We have to be adaptable as well.

It is entirely possible some scene that to you is incredibly important, because of what you brought to the reading of it, may be cut. It is going to happen. What we have to be thankful for is that the over all shape of the story stays. That the intent and love of the story remains intact. We can hope that many more people fall in love with these characters and that that the entire cast and crew remains committed to making a quality product.

We need to adapt because there are 25 million readers who have 25 million life stories, 25 million visions of Jamie, or of the size of Lallybroch or the size of Murtagh in relation to Dougal, or who think Tobias Menzies doesn’t have Frank’s smile.

That for all these years, YOU have considered Jamie Fraser to be the size of Hercules with a Ronald Mc Donald wig on his head in no way makes the color red they came up with for his hair incorrect. If his hair isn’t long enough for your vision, then adjust your vision. This is the character, Jamie Fraser, played by the actor, Sam Heughan.

Filming is almost finished for the first season, so stop complaining, will you? Jamie will be imbued with Sam as much as Sam will be imbued with Jamie.  (By the numbers, Sam is an inch shorter and a few pounds shy of the actual book description, your fantasy man notwithstanding.)

But we’ve already had that Conversation , haven’t we?      Ad infinitum.

There have been some absolutely wonderful reviews of Outlander so far….  Here is Rotten Tomatoes, which catalogs reviews.

Yes, books are different than TV and movies, and usually, the book is better.  And that will probably be the case, overall, here. But I am watching this as a companion to the books, not as a replacement. I can keep in my book world the images I have created and STILL enjoy the visual ADAPTATION immensely.

PS. Yes, young Roger IS in the manse. We just don’t SEE him in the first episode. Did you SEE how big that house is? He’s a tiny boy asleep on a chair, for goodness sake!  Dinna fash, aye?

COMMENTS welcome!!!!

pps, and I am editing as I re-read…..sorry about spelling errors! Dang Auto-correct strikes again!

Interesting reading about the costuming.

A nice review, episode 106, about Adaptation.


Photos of the Week—CY365 Week ending 6/21/14

This is CY365!   My photography website.    Follow me on Facebook.    On Twitter, I am@rteest42

Prompts this week were tough!! (That means you get more CAT photos!!!)  Crossed out prompts are those I feel I captured…. I LOVE COMMENTS! Nope, not a subtle hint at all Winking smile

15. Dear Old Dad
16. Motorhome
17. In A Different Light
18. Photo Field Trip
19. Historical
20. Where I Stand
21. Solstice

1743357_10204562132757254_421817855_n (1)15. Dear Old (grand) Dad—Granpa and Laylabug on Father’s Day

10361113_10204603935762303_1224312150_n17. In A Different Light  Timmy loves me… He brought me this awesome old bottle the other day!

10490212_10204603898001359_298527636_n19. Historical–  Written In My Own Hearts Blood –Historical Fiction, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Debuting as NY Times Number 1 book this week…. author Diana Gabaldon, on Wednesday June 8, 2014, National Press Club, Washington DC
20140616-IMG_038620. Where I Stand, looking up on a VERY hot day, what do I see but the bats trying to find a cooler spot!

 THREE!!! days of cat photos!—when all else fails, these clowns come through!

10477320_10204603492191214_1832158174_nNoNo Neko really does know that Tati is the alpha cat. He just lays down and waits till she finishes eating. BTW, this is Tati’s new home. My dining room table. There is apparently no way off…

10475599_10204563077980884_1813871940_nTati on the dining room table, wistfully staring at the outside, where she can’t get….

neko tati NoNo Neko is tracking a bug! He won’t let it get away! (look under the 5) See that photo in the corner? My favorite photo of Arlie and Myfynwy…


I really need a dandelion right about now. 

With just hours left before Written in My Own Hearts Blood (aka MOBY) book 8 of the Outlander series is published (*Disclaimer—for the majority of readers, as there ARE people who have already received the book, legitimately or via oversight by stores stocking early, and there ARE countries where the book wont come out for a few weeks and…) the self-absorbed, unable-to-accept-an-answer, petulant five-year-old contingent of the internet has come out in some force on some social media sites about Spoilers and Sharing.

Lets just say this about that, shall we? FIRST WORLD PROBLEM10447201_10204512464395576_677531282_nS

I know that the Red Wedding episode in Game of Thrones is bloody and shocking. I haven’t read the books, I am only on season one, but I am not so put off by this information, these “spoilers”,  that I’ve decided to stop watching. I’ve learned, before even starting into the series that really, George RR Martin shouldn’t be your wedding planner, via social media and yet….

Yes, while the overall issue is exposed, the how we get there and the enjoyment of the show isn’t “spoiled”.  I will just be on my toes, so to speak, and know that I shouldn’t become enamored of any character.  I can use Facebook or Twitter, and if I notice that one of my friends threads is “Going there” I just scroll on.  I MAY see a word or two, I MAY read a sentence, I don’t have to absorb and analyze the posts, and I haven’t asked them to stop speaking of the current season because I am three seasons behind them. No brainer. And of course, applying Caveat Emptor, I should stay off of Twitter on Sunday nights if it bothers me.

My Facebook page is non-denominational, if you would. I have a wide variety of friends, who have a wide variety of interests that we share, and they have a wide variety of interests we don’t share.  Almost every post that is put up is a spoiler to SOMETHING if you want it to be.  The topics we discuss, they discuss, (or, more to the point, that Facebook feels I should be allowed to read)  well, they are endless and varying.

I am NOT planning on coming onto FB or Twitter after every Aha Moment and exclaim or carry on—(Diana has assured me she got Jemmy out of the well tunnel. I know, Timmy down the well, Jemmy in the tunnel. I just “hear” Claire exclaim “Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ,” I said. “Bloody Timmy’s in the well!” even though that is from ABOSAA)  It’s just not my style, reading has until now been a solitary activity. I may be noticeably missing for a few days. I will not be following or commenting on threads that may get me farther along; I will accept that if I see the trees it doesn’t mean I cant appreciate the forest….

I will scroll down before commenting.  I will honor any policy that is in place, but I will not have a fit if someone doesn’t understand the intricacies of the way a particular site works on a platform they don’t use and they inadvertently share ‘privileged’ information.  Life sucks, yah know?

I have to wonder, seriously, if when people go off the deep end about the small stuff, is it because it is the only part of their spiraling out-of-control life they can manipulate? Is everything else so bad, so out of control that they obsess about things that aren’t worth the energy? The amount of psychic energy that is required to keep up a full-steam frontal attack on something that is truly amounting to nothing is more energy than I have. I am inherently lazy, I guess.

So, I apply empathy, and have to assume that the only reason they would waste 30 miles of gas, and hours of time, three times, to complain about and have the BACK of a picture frame repapered because it didn’t look smooth enough is because the rest of their world is uncontrollable and they need to be able to be in charge of SOMETHING. #Piff!

September 10th—A busy day.

Looking forward to September 10th.

September 10th is Laylabug’s 2nd birthday. Having her in our lives has been the most wonderful thing!

Seeing her grow so fast (so FAST!) learning to speak, and seeing her personality develop has been just beyond enjoyable….the difference between parenting (when you are so exhausted all the time) and grand parenting is a truth!


But, this year, Sept 10 is also the date that Outlander is rumored to start filming in Scotland.  Well, that’s great and all, you say, but what has it got to do with anything?

Well, it’s like this. I’ve been a fan of this book series for about nine years. (A relative late-comer, the books started being published 20 years ago) Back in the beginning of the year, it was announced it was finally going to be turned into a  TV series on Starz, with Ron Moore at the helm.

Oh, JOY! But. But…What if they GET JAMIE WRONG?  Or CLAIRE? And will it succeed and make it through enough seasons for us to get to Fraser’s Ridge and meet Jem and Mandy and William? And. And. And.

Although I follow Diana Gabaldon on her Facebook page, I started to also follow her on Twitter when they announced they had indeed located Jamie. The actor, Sam Heughan, has been gracious and open and quite fun to get to ‘know’, and like Diana, he appears to be  generous soul.

He has even allowed his name to be used on a site where we are raising funds as Heughligans for a favorite charity of his.

What about Claire? SHE is the story! The narrator! They will have to announce her soon, right? Day after day, week after week, throughout the entire summer, we have been on #Clairewatch2013. It started as a joke, but over the summer, this enforced torture while waiting has become the opportunity for fans of the book to truly bond and make friendships. We are all on the same ship, “Impatience”.

I almost don’t want it to end.

It is rumored by Sam (that Sam is a great tease on Twitter and knows fully well the value of social media) that tomorrow, we will be introduced to his new friend—Who happens to share a number of physical attributes with Claire.

The generosity of spirit of both Diana Gabaldon (long-suffering creator) and Sam Heughan (newly defined Jamie) and the camaraderie of loyal “bookies” had made this summer special.

The characters in Outlander have been part of our families for years. And the opportunity to get to know both the creator and the actor in some fashion, along with so many like-minded friends has enriched many of us. And I am proud to ‘know’ some wonderful, strong ladies via this interaction and to now call them ‘friend’.

(And of course, September 10th is always the most bittersweet of days, because on September 10th, we all still had our innocence; when I looked at the New York Harbor on September 10, 2001, I didn’t even register the Twin Towers as separate objects, just the skyline that I was going to walk away from in 2002 when I married and moved to Virginia.)

Yes, September 10th is going to be a good day!

PS… I also recall there being talk of the new iPhone announcement that day…and not a day too soon, I am babying my phone right now to make it till then!!!


What I am Reading Right Now..

Reading has always been an important part of my life. I can recall fondly sitting in bed late at night as a little girl, with a book about Jesus as a boy. It had him learning to walk, and a pillow tied to his bottom to keep him hurting himself when falling. It was liberally illustrated and someday I will look for the title, if only to prove I am not making it up!! (If YOU know the book, do tell!!)


My favorite story book was Pickles the Fire Cat, and the Magic Fish. I loved Harold and the Purple Crayon, and Little House on the Prairie, and Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew and ….


My tastes have changed some since then, but reading is still an integral part of my life. I go the gamut, from flossy historical romance yarns about frivolous heroines to far more literary options such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez.  One of my favorites of all time would be Douglas Adams Hitchhiker series, all 5 parts of the trilogy.



I got hooked on Stephanie Plum a few summers ago, totally not the thing I would lean toward, as the books were THIN. I am not much for thin books. I love a hefty 1000 pager any day. But, hooked I was, and after devouring the 12 that were existent, I found that I was unsatisfied with the lack of ending and thus began my journey into Fan Fiction (you can read more about THAT here)



But I decided last month, to revisit the Outlander series, by Diana Gabaldon. I read them once about three years ago. And I am so very deeply immersed in them (up to book five, The Fiery Cross, at the moment) that I dream Jamie and Claire. Really. Here we have SIX books, over 1000 pages a piece!!! Heaven!!! And a writer who has made everything so incredibly real that my mind can not turn off!



I have tried to explain to my husband, who thinks it very humorous indeed, that when get caught up in a book, I lose track of time. And I lose the ability to put the book down, for fear of missing something. You can ask Arlie about that. How many dinners were late because my nose was in a novel??



This is so humorous to Timmy that he tells it to people, embellishing to the point of me sounding slightly weird. He sees it almost as I believe that the book is a TV show, and I don’t have my VCR on. But that isn’t at all what I mean.



Surely one of you out there understands?? Surely someone can appreciate being so deeply involved in Ann Rice’s The Witching Hour that you would need to pull over on the road to finish the chapter that you had to put down before you were ready??


Support me here folks!!!

Sorry, no pictures to go along with this post…. And please, do respond!! I would love to know that people actually READ here!!!