Waiting On Jamie Fraser

Jun 8, 2014 by

It’s been a while since I’ve done an update here on the new Outlander cable series from Starz, so I thought we could all do with another attempt to keep up with the Frasers.

I won’t rehash all the basics, but for those who don’t know yet  (been off the grid  for awhile, aye?), Outlander is based on a series of best-selling novels by author Diana Gabaldon.  It is a time travel/romance/historical fiction story set mostly in 18th century Scotland, and filmed almost entirely in 21st century Scotland.  I’ve done several posts about the upcoming series–click HERE, HERE and HERE to read some of my previous posts about Jamie and Claire Fraser and the world of Outlander.

 

The first episode of Outlander is set to debut at 9PM on August 9, 2014, and the countdown is making more than few fans crazy with excitement. Starz has just released a new trailer (above), perhaps to help keep the shouts of “Are we there YET?!” to a low roar.  There have also been additions to the “How To Speak Outlander” YouTube series, the newest being a Happy Birthday wish in Scots Gàidhlig from Sam Heughan:

In another installment, Dougal (Graham McTavish) and Colum (Gary Lewis) MacKenzie teach us how to shout the Mackenzie war cry, Tulach Àrd. It sounds a bit like “To the Car!”, which is a fitting battle cry  if you’re on the way to attend an Outlander fan gathering, but not so much if you’re a member of an ancient Highland clan about to rout the bloody English army.  Tulach Àrd is Gàidhlig for “High Hill” and refers to a mountain in the McKenzie clan heartland of Kintail, a region of the Northwest Highlands of Scotland.

 

Media coverage has greatly expanded in recent months, as news outlets see that global television executives are taking strongly positive views (i.e., putting their money where their mouths are) of  Starz’s  Outlander series. A recent article from TVWise predicts Outlander could be cable’s next global hit, and outlines five things driving the show’s success.  The crazy-like-a-fox  money analysts at The Motley Fool have also given a nod of approval to Outlander, noting that the show has an early August premier, which follows right on the heels of San Diego’s Comic-Con (a happy scheduling fact sure to give Outlander a tremendous publicity boost) and a large, worldwide fan base, all factors which give the show ” the ingredients to draw AMC or HBO-like numbers for an original series.”

 

 

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EW’s new issue features two pages of Outlander info from Ron Moore; image source:OutlanderItaly.com

 

According to Outlander TV News, always a great site for the latest Outlander news, the June 13th issue of Entertainment Weekly will feature a two page spread showing side-by-side comparisons between the scene from the book and the script for the scene in the TV series. Outlander Italy, another terrific fan page, has some scans (see above) of the article, with new photos of the love triangle at the center of the plot. Wowza!

The newest book in Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series

The newest book in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series

 

The best way to pass the time til the premiere is by reading Diana Gabaldon’s newest book in the Outlander series, Written In My Own Heart’s Blood, (referred to as MOBY by fans) due out June 10, 2014. You can pre-order the book in any available format HERE on Amazon.   You can also read Diana’s thoughts about seeing–and hearing–the full Outlander Episode One for the first time by clicking HERE.

 

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The bottom line, however, is this—we simply, frustratingly, must wait until the 9th of August.  Like Jamie Fraser himself, Starz and Ron Moore mean to take their time about it, working hard to produce an adaptation of Outlander that is faithful to the spirit of the book, full of swash and buckle, and so visually stunning it will leave us all asking for more.

As a longtime fan of Outlander, I say that’s a verra good thing to wait for, ye ken.

 

 

 

Places To Visit Before Going Through The Stones~ Sites I recommend to learn more or keep updated about Outlander, the book, the series and the fans:

 

DianaGabaldon.com

Starz’s Outlander page

Starz’s Official Outlander  Twitter page

The Outlander Podcast--chatting about all things Outlander, and having fun doing it!

My Outlander Purgatory–believe me, they FEEL your pain!

Outlander Kitchen–historical and character-inspired recipes from Diana’s books

WESCelt’s Outlander Pinterest board

WESCelt’s Outlander Facebook album

 

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Rob Roy Versus Jamie Fraser: Who Wears the Kilt Best?

Jun 8, 2014 by

I thought I’d give my Facebook followers a little fun by positing this simple question: Who wears the look best–Rob Roy in a kilt or Jamie Fraser in a kilt? The comparison was between the two pictures below–Rob (Liam Neeson) first, and Jamie (Sam Heughan) in the second picture.

Well, hoo whee, did that stir up the hens!  Click HERE to read some of the comments.

 

Liam Neeson as Rob Roy MacGregor

Liam Neeson as Rob Roy MacGregor

 

Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser

Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser

For those of you who have never heard of Jamie Fraser,  some background is required.  James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser, a  Highland warrior,  is the lead character in Diana Gabaldon’s novel Outlander, an historical romance set in Scotland in 1745 and right after World War II–yes, there is time travel involved, with ancient standing stones (not a blue police booth) as the portal.  Diana added  several subsequent novels to the series, which is extremely well written and chock full of historical facts and allusions.

 

You can buy any or all of Diana’s novels (in all formats) on my Amazon list of  her novels by clicking here.    It will be a good investment of both your time and money because the premium cable channel Starz is premiering  the first season of Outlander, the TV adaptation of the novels ( filmed on location in beautiful Scotland)  at 9PM on August 9, 2014.  Starz has been given approval for a second season  of Outlander, as well.

 

outlander_starz

 

Think Game of Thrones, with a Scottish setting, and you’ll be close to visualizing the  upcoming series that has fans shivering with antici…pation.   Sam Heughan, a  Scottish actor, has been chosen to play the critical role of Jamie Fraser, earning him thousands of devoted–and I do mean DEVOTED–fans throughout the  social media universe.

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Fans Reaction to Sam Heughan Tweeting the Word “Sassenach”

 

To be fair, Sam Heughan does look a bit more scruffy in his photo, but Starz has been dribbling out official photos of Jamie/Sam, releasing only a few of him in a kilt.  Here’s one that was tweeted by a Starz employee–a cut out of Jamie in a kilt, looking like he just finished a battle:

 

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The fans are VERY clear , however, on what they want from Starz and Ron D. Moore, who’s adapting the series for TV (his wife is a die-hard Outlander fan):

 

 

Liam Neeson, from Northern Ireland, is a well-known actor, and is highly regarded for his portrayal of the famous Scottish figure,  Rob Roy MacGregor.  Liam also has a serious fan base and it’s easy (on the eyes) to see why:

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Liam in the 1995 Film Rob Roy

But, clearly, there’s a new Scot in town, with dashing good looks, red hair and a kilt–in whatever shape– set on winning over more Sassenach wenches to the Fraser clan.

And in this instance, I’m thinking fans don’t want Jamie/Sam to take his time about it, aye?

 

Jamie Fraser; image source

Jamie Fraser; image source ©SRusso

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Can’t Stop Looking At Scotland

Apr 16, 2014 by

Do you have a favorite image of Scotland?  Matador Network, an online community of travel writers, journalists and photographers, recently posted a list of 30 Images of Scotland We Can’t Stop looking At, and a quick glance through the pictures shows why these shots are so compelling.  From outrageously beautiful landscapes to ancient castles and architecture, the images chosen are clear examples of why Scotland is a major tourist destination and a photographer’s dream.

It’s hard to limit myself when it comes to views of Scotland, but here are a few of my favorite images from the Matador list.

 

 

The Great Highland Bagpipe (GHB) is one of the most iconic symbols of Scotland, and is often used by civilian and military bands, as well as by soloists. Widely used in Europe for centuries, the GHB came into use in Scotland many centuries ago as war pipes played before and during battles.

 

Castle Stalker (Caisteal an Stalcaire, in Scots Gaelic, meaning castle of the hunter or falconer), is a 14th century keep in Argyll, set on a small island in Loch Laich.  This former home of the Clans MacDougall, Stewart and Campbell is one of the best-preserved medieval tower-houses surviving in western Scotland.  You might remember seeing it in the 1975 film,  Monty Python and The Holy Grail–it is from the top of Castle Stalker that the French soldier (played by John Cleese) famously taunts the English as “English pig dogs” and “silly English K-nig-hts [pronounced kuuuh-nig-its].”

 

 

Who doesn’t love a brawny red haired Highlander? The Highland cow, affectionately known as the Hielan Coo, is certainly popular with most visitors to Scotland.  This hardy breed is native to Scotland and comes in red, black, brindle, dun and yellow coat colors.  Females have horns that generally curve upward (as in the above photo), while the horns of Highland bulls usually grow straight out and slightly forward from the head.

 

To see the rest of the Matador images of Scotland, click HERE.

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A Highland Welcome For the Piper

Jan 30, 2014 by

A friend contacted me today to let me know that his cousin, a bagpiper, had passed away.   After I expressed my condolences, I thought of Robert Burns’ short poem about what he wished for upon his death:

Epigram on Parting With A Kind Host In the Highlands (1787)

When Death’s dark stream I ferry o’er,
A time that surely shall come;
In Heaven itself I’ll ask no more
Than just a Highland welcome.

 

Aye, what a fitting tribute for a weary bagpiper–a Highland welcome in Heaven.

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A New Battle On Culloden Moor

Jan 13, 2014 by

It was a short, bloody battle that irrevocably changed the course of Scotland’s future.  Though it lasted only an hour, the Battle of Culloden (Scottish Gaelic: Blàr Chùil Lodair) on April 16, 1746, ended the Jacobite effort to restore Charles Edward Stuart, Bonnie Prince Charlie, to the throne of Scotland.  Approximately 2000 Scottish Highlanders sacrificed their lives that day, and more died during the brutal repression of Highland and Gaelic culture that followed soon thereafter.  The sorrow and pain of that day is still felt by many contemporary Scots, as well as those whose ancestors fled Scotland to escape the harsh retaliatory actions meted out by the English in the years following the battle.  For those people, Culloden will always be sacred ground,  “ground zero” of the centuries-long Scottish battle for freedom from the English invaders.

New invaders have now come to Culloden,  developers who want to build houses less 400 meters from the battlefield—and surprisingly, the Scottish government is set to approve those plans.

 

 

People in Scotland and around the world have voiced outrage that such a project would even be considered, much less approved.   Historic Scotland  has given their stamp of approval for the scheme, even though no representative from the government  authority has visited the site to see how it might be impacted.   The National Trust For Scotland (NTS), which owns and maintains the battlefield and visitor center, has expressed great disappointment in the decision, arguing that the approval creates a ” slippery slope”  for future housing schemes, which could result in the the degradation of the historic site at Culloden.

I grew up in Georgia, a Southern state that was the site of many battles during the American Civil War and the American Revolutionary War.  My father was a Civil War historian and ardent battlefield preservationist, who taught me from an early age that historic sites are tremendous visual symbols of what was and, more importantly, what should never be again–specifically, being ruled by a monarchy ( the Revolutionary War) or allowing the enslavement of our fellow men and women (the Civil War).  When you lose those places where people fought and died for their beliefs,  places that are the final resting places of so many souls, you betray their memory.  Moreover, you also lose a valuable teaching tool for future generations who will have no tangible connection to their past.  Textbooks, photos and videos can only go so far—to truly know your history, you must walk the same ground your predecessors walked, feel that sense of connection and emotion that comes from standing where they stood.  Once those historic places are sacrificed for commercial development, they are gone forever.

 

 

Do the souls of those long-dead Highlanders still walk the moor at Culloden?   Celtic mythology holds that there are “thin places” in the world where different planes of existence touch, and the past can sometimes be felt in the present.  If any such place exists in Scotland, it surely must be at Culloden,  where sadness seems to hover over the fields like Highland mist.  I have walked that moorland where Gaelic war cries of fierce, proud Highlanders once rang through the air, and I believe the spirits of those long-dead men are there still.   For me, any encroachment on the battlefield is a defilement of the war graves of brave  men—Scots, Irish and even English who fought with the Highlanders—who died for their country, their families and their way of life.

We will always have competing interests in the name of progress, when developers confront preservationists in the modern world.   Finding a balance between these two interests is difficult and one side (sometimes both)  often believes its arguments have been completely ignored or misunderstood.    In the case of important historical sites such as battlefields, however,  the bigger picture needs to be carefully considered.   Houses can always be built in other places—there will only ever be ONE Culloden.

 

Read more about the proposed housing development, and the arguments on both sides, here:

http://www.scotsman.com/news/environment/historic-scotland-slammed-over-culloden-housing-1-3264115

http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/government-called-upon-to-protect-culloden-from-housing-developers.23117157

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-25684570

http://www.scotsman.com/news/environment/light-pollution-fears-over-culloden-housing-plans-1-3266229

http://www.inverness-courier.co.uk/News/Battlefield-site-visit-not-needed-claims-watchdog-10012014.htm

To sign an online petition to stop the proposed development at Culloden, click HERE.

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Keeping Up With The Frasers

Dec 30, 2013 by

If you didn’t get Jamie Fraser in a kilt for Christmas, despite your heartfelt appeals to Santa,  Starz has just released new Jamie tidbits to make your New Year brighter.

First up is the latest photo of Jamie and Claire together, contemplating a plant, perhaps a medicinal one Claire will use in her new occupation as official healer to Clan MacKenzie.  Starz did not indicate where this scene falls in the overall plot, but it’s ever so much fun to speculate.  Ron Moore tweeted that four episodes “are in the can” (7:22 PM – 29 Dec 2013), so perhaps this scene is before Jamie and Claire get married.  In any event, I love Claire’s dress–I expect we’ll be seeing copies of it on the Highland Games and Ren Faire runways soon.

Next is a new lesson in the How To Speak Outlander series, in which we learn how to pronounce Craigh na Dun, the portal through which Claire travels to 18th century Scotland:

 

If you’d like to see what a Scottish standing stone portal might look like in Outlander, take a gander at the background image for my blog. Those stones are the famous Ring of Brodgar,  a Neolithic henge and stone circle on the isle of Orkney in Scotland.

 

In case you missed the first How to Speak Outlander lesson–the ALL IMPORTANT one in which Sam says the word “Sassenach” in his lovely Scottish accent (hold on to your panties before you listen)–my review of it is HERE.

 

Starz also sent us holiday greetings from the cast of Outlander, including Sam with a wee doggie:

 

 

There has been no release date set for the Outlander series;  it was originally slated for the Fall 2014 season, and I am hopeful that Starz will meet that target date.

Ye ken, my heart can nae stand much more waiting for that Hielan laddie, Jamie Fraser.

 

Another of my posts about Outlander and Jamie Fraser is HERE.

Want to know more about Diana Gabaldon’s books?  Click HERE for her website and HERE for Amazon links to the entire book series.

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Speaking Outlander: Why Jamie Is Taking His Time About It

Nov 30, 2013 by

In honor of St Andrew’s Day, the good people at Starz posted their first Youtube lesson in “How to Speak Outlander.”

The video clip starts with a native Scots speaker telling us how to pronounce “Sassenach” (in case you don’t already know), but Jamie Fraser (played by Sam Heughan) quickly comes in to take charge. After all, it doesn’t really matter how anyone else says it–for Outlander fans, ONLY Jamie can speak that word correctly, softly, sexily so that we feel it ripple inside us. Ahem.

 

I’m definitely an instant gratification kinda gal, so waiting for the show to debut in the Fall of 2014 is not something that comes naturally to me. I must admit that all this visual and audio teasing from the folks at Outlander is getting me a bit…fashed.
Just the way Jamie would want it, I’m sure–he means to take his time about it, aye?

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