Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year from the cast of OUTLANDER!

New Year's (and Hogmanay) greetings from the cast of the OUTLANDER TV series!

PLEASE NOTE: The video above only works in the US. If you are outside the US, try this version instead.

Happy New Year!

As we prepare to ring in 2014, I thought it would be appropriate to have an old-fashioned Hogmanay celebration, as they might have celebrated it on Fraser's Ridge two hundred years ago.

This picture shows a cabin built around 1820 near Grandfather Mountain, NC (very close to where Fraser's Ridge is supposed to be located).  I think this might look something like Bree and Roger's cabin, perhaps?
A firstfoot was to bring gifts to the house: an egg, a faggot of wood, a bit of salt--and a bit of whisky, thus insuring that the household would not lack for the necessities during the coming year.

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 35, "Hogmanay". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
I can't participate in a first-footing myself, even if I lived in Scotland (redheads being considered extremely bad luck on such an occasion), but I'd like to share these small tokens with you anyway.

Here's an article I found about Hogmanay Traditions in Scotland.  From what I can tell, the Hogmanay celebrations in Edinburgh are an even bigger deal than New Year's Eve in New York's Times Square!

Happy New Year, and best wishes to all of you in 2014!

Monday, December 30, 2013

First photo of Jamie and Claire together!

This is the first official photo of Jamie (Sam Heughan) and Claire (Caitriona Balfe), TOGETHER, in character and in costume, from the OUTLANDER TV series!

Click on the photo for a bigger view.  I think it's wonderful!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

2013 Year in Review

This has been a very exciting and eventful year for OUTLANDER fans, and for me in particular.  I've seen my Outlandish Observations Facebook page grow from just under 1000 followers at the beginning of 2013, to more than 4600 today (!)  That's just phenomenal!  Many thanks to all of you who take the time to read and comment on what I post here. I really appreciate it. <g>

Here are some of my favorite OUTLANDER moments from 2013.

February 19: THE MAD SCIENTIST'S GUIDE TO WORLD DOMINATION (the anthology that contains Diana Gabaldon's story, "The Space Between") was published in the US.  If you haven't yet read "The Space Between", I highly recommend it!  It's a very entertaining story, with lots of potential for speculation.  See the FAQ page here for more information.

Late February: I found a first edition hardcover of OUTLANDER for sale on Amazon.com for only $220.  It's in "like new" condition, and I was thrilled to find it.  Notice the very careful, very legible signature! <g>  Diana confirmed that this was one of the very first ones she ever signed.

April 5: The US cover art for Diana Gabaldon's upcoming novel, WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD (aka MOHB, MOBY, or Book 8), was officially unveiled.  I love the octothorpe design, with its interlocking infinity symbols.  For more about this cover and what it might mean, look here.

April 12: I went to see Diana Gabaldon at her appearance in Annandale, VA.  The crowd was immense -- about 1200 fans -- but it was great to meet so many people in person that I'd known for a long time online.  Here I am with Carol and Tracey from My Outlander Purgatory.

Highlight of the evening for me: at the point in Diana's talk where she mentions how she got involved with the online forum that is now the Compuserve Books and Writers Community, Diana looked right at me and said, "The fabulous Karen Henry manages my folder on Compuserve. She's the bumblebee-herder." And I turned around and waved to the crowd. <g>

May 1: I opened my Outlandish Observations store on Zazzle.com!  Thanks so much to all of you who've purchased products from my Zazzle store. I'm really pleased with the way it turned out. 

June 1: Speaking to fans at Book Expo America in New York, Diana Gabaldon made a very exciting announcement:  she's signed a contract with STARZ and Sony Pictures to make OUTLANDER into a 16-episode TV series! (And within minutes, pandemonium broke out on OUTLANDER fan-sites all over the world....)  You can see Diana's original announcement at about 1 hour 3 minutes into this video.

July 9: STARZ officially announced the casting of 33-year-old Scottish actor Sam Heughan to play Jamie Fraser in the upcoming OUTLANDER TV series!

July 12: I attended the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games in Linville, NC, along with my parents. We had a wonderful time!  You can see more photos here.

August 11: Here's Diana Gabaldon holding a wee giftie I sent her: a plaque that says "Fuirich agus chi thu!"  (That's "wait and see" in Gaelic, one of Diana's favorite phrases.)  Many thanks to Diana's husband Doug for taking the photo, and to Diana for sending it to me!

August-September: The 2nd Annual OUTLANDER Photo Contest!  This was a lot of fun, and I received photos from fans all over the world.  Thanks again to everyone who participated! You can see the slideshow of photos here.

September 11: Caitriona Balfe was cast as Claire in the OUTLANDER TV series!

October 16-18: I had a wonderful trip to Colonial Williamsburg and the Yorktown Victory Center in Virginia.  It was a great opportunity to indulge my obsession with all things 18th-century.  <g> You can see more photos here.

November 15: Diana Gabaldon announced that the new publication date for WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD will be June 10, 2014!  Look here for the full announcement.

December 3: Diana Gabaldon's latest story, "Virgins", was published in the DANGEROUS WOMEN anthology, edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois.  It's a great story, a fascinating glimpse of Jamie and Ian as young men, and I enjoyed it very much.  For more information about "Virgins", see my FAQ page here.

December 20: Diana sent me a lovely gift basket of dates.  The card reads, "Dear Karen, Happy Holidays! (And thanks for everything!)"

Finally, I want to take this opportunity, once again, to thank all of you who've commented on my Friday Fun Facts posts throughout the past year!  It's really gratifying to know that the effort I put into researching the FFF each week is appreciated. <g>

Wishing you all a wonderful 2014!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Diana Gabaldon and Frazer Hines on BBC Radio

Some of you may remember a 30-minute BBC Radio piece called "Time Travelling Scots", featuring Diana Gabaldon and Frazer Hines (the actor whose role on a long-ago episode of "Doctor Who" inspired Diana to write about 18th-century Scotland).

The show was originally broadcast in 2010, and the BBC is making it available again this week --  but only for a limited time!  If you haven't listened to it before, I would definitely encourage you all to take the time to listen to the whole thing.  The program was terrific, thoroughly enjoyable, and I would highly recommend it to any OUTLANDER fan.

The link is here.

You can see more about Diana's encounter with Frazer Hines, and the "Doctor Who" connection, on her blog here.

Friday, December 27, 2013

How do you say "Craigh na Dun"?

Here's the second lesson in the STARZ video series, "How to Speak OUTLANDER".  Enjoy!

[UPDATE 12/27/2013 1:58 pm:  The video above only works in the US.  If you are outside the US, try this version instead.]

Here are the other videos in this series:

Speak OUTLANDER: Sassenach

Speak OUTLANDER: Mo nighean donn

Best of the Friday Fun Facts: Collection #3

Here are this week's Friday Fun Facts about Diana Gabaldon's books.  This is a collection of some of my favorite items from previous FFF posts.  All of these were originally posted between April, 2012, and March, 2013.  I hope you enjoy them!

1) The gentleman shown above is wearing a banyan -- a loose dressing-gown.  Lord John Grey often wears a banyan in the evenings at home. (Portrait of Nicholas Boylston, painted by John Singleton Copley, 1767)

Banyan 1750-1775

Here's another example of a banyan, circa 1750-1775, from the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.  Click on the photo for a larger view. 
Having briskly stripped his master and draped him in a clean nightshirt, he went to retrieve Grey’s banyan, which had been hung to warm on the fire screen. He held this ready, peering closely at Grey in concern.

“You look like…” he said, and trailed off, shaking his head as though the prospect before him was too frightful for words. This matched Grey’s own impression of the situation, but he was too exhausted to say so, and merely nodded, turning to thrust his arms into the comforting sleeves.

"Go to bed, Tom,” he managed to say. “Don’t wake me in the morning. I plan to be dead.”

(From "Lord John and the Haunted Soldier", Part II, in LORD JOHN AND THE HAND OF DEVILS by Diana Gabaldon. Copyright© 2007 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Here's more about the history of banyans.  I must say, they certainly look comfortable!

2) The photos above show what a Great White Pelican (Pelecanus onocratalus) looks like.  Diana confirmed, when I asked, that this is the same kind of pelican we saw in VOYAGER.  It certainly seems to fit Ping An's description very well:
A pelican on the ground is a comical thing, all awkward angles, splayed feet, and gawky bill. A soaring pelican, circling over water, is a thing of wonder, graceful and primitive, startling as a pterodactyl among the sleeker forms of gulls and petrels.

Ping An, the peaceful one, soared to the limit of his line, struggled to go higher, then, as though resigned, began to circle. Mr. Willoughby, eyes squinted nearly shut against the sun, spun slowly round and round on the deck below, playing the pelican like a kite. All the hands in the rigging and on deck nearby stopped what they were doing to watch in fascination.

Sudden as a bolt from a crossbow, the pelican folded its wings and dived, cleaving the water with scarcely a splash. As it popped to the surface, looking mildly surprised, Mr. Willoughby began to tow it in. Aboard once more, the pelican was persuaded with some difficulty to give up its catch, but at last suffered its captor to reach cautiously into the leathery subgular pouch and extract a fine, fat sea bream.

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 44, "Forces of Nature". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

Here's a brief video showing a pelican dive-bombing for fish at very close range.

3) I had never heard the term "blue vitriol" before I read "The Space Between", and I was surprised to learn that it's an archaic term for copper (II) sulfate (CuSO4) -- a chemical that you may remember from chemistry classes in school.  Isn't that a gorgeous color? I thought the Comte's use of it in the story was fascinating.
He found the blue vitriol by smell, and wrapped the cloth tightly around the head of one torch, then--whistling under his breath--did three more, impregnated with different salts.   He loved this part.  It was so simple, and so astonishingly beautiful.

He paused for a minute to listen, but it was well past dark and the only sounds were those of the night itself--frogs chirping and bellowing in the distant marshes by the cemetery, wind stirring the leaves of spring.   A few hovels a half-mile away, only one with fire-light glowing dully from a smoke-hole in the roof.

Almost a pity there’s no one but me to see this. He took the little clay firepot from its wrappings and touched a coal to the cloth-wrapped torch. A tiny green flame flickered like a serpent’s tongue, then burst into life in a brilliant globe of ghostly color.

(From "The Space Between" by Diana Gabaldon, in A TRAIL OF FIRE. Copyright© 2012 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
According to this site,
The beautiful blue color arises from water molecules attached directly to the copper(II) ion. The water/copper ion complex absorbs photons of yellow or red light. Absorption of a photon promotes an electron from the water to the copper(II) ion. Since only yellow or red light is absorbed, blue light is transmitted, and the crystals appear blue.

Here's a short video showing how you can make your own green flames using common household chemicals.

(If you haven't yet read "The Space Between", I highly recommend it!  It's available in THE MAD SCIENTIST'S GUIDE TO WORLD DOMINATION or A TRAIL OF FIRE.)

Ben Nevis

4) "Munro bagging" has been a popular pastime among Scottish hikers for decades, as Roger explained to Bree:
"If you come back to Scotland ever, I’ll take ye Munro bagging.”

“You’ll take me what?”

He laughed, and she had a sudden memory of him, brushing back the thick black hair that he didn’t cut often enough, moss-green eyes creased half-shut by his smile. She found she was rubbing the tip of her thumb slowly across her lower lip, and stopped herself. He’d kissed her when they parted.

“A Munro is any Scottish peak more than three thousand feet. There are so many of them, it’s a sport to see how many you can climb. Folk collect them, like stamps, or matchbooks."

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 3, "The Minister's Cat". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
The photo above shows Ben Nevis, Scotland's tallest mountain. (Photo credit: valley taff on Flickr.)  The one below is An Gearanach, "The Complainer". (Photo credit: Joe Finlay on Flickr.)  Click on the photos to enlarge them.

An Gearanach

I have always suspected that the character of Hugh Munro -- Jamie's beggar friend in OUTLANDER, who gave Claire the bit of amber with a dragonfly inside it -- was named after Sir Hugh Munro (1856–1919), the Scottish mountaineer who first compiled a list of nearly 300 Scottish peaks. (You can see a modern version of the list here.)

5) One of the many 20th-century pop culture references in the books is the Yogi Bear theme song. I am old enough to remember watching Yogi Bear cartoons on TV as a child, so the references in THE FIERY CROSS make me laugh.
"It must be a particularly clever bear, no? To have been walking in and out of their village for months, I mean, and no one with more than a single glimpse of it?"

"Smarter than the average bear," Brianna agreed, her mouth twitching slightly. Jamie gave her a narrow look, which he switched to me as I choked on a swallow of beer.

"What?" he demanded testily.

"Nothing," I gasped. "Nothing at all."

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 81, "Bear-Killer". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the Yogi Bear TV series, look here.

I hope you enjoyed this third installment of the Best of the Friday Fun Facts! In case you missed it, here's the Best of the Friday Fun Facts: Collection #1 and Best of the Friday Fun Facts: Collection #2.  Look here to see all of my Friday Fun Facts blog posts. And please come back next week for more!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Happy Holidays from the cast of OUTLANDER!

Check out this video with holiday greetings from the cast of the OUTLANDER TV series!

Nollaig Chridheil (that's Merry Christmas in Gaelic) to all of you who are celebrating today!

Monday, December 23, 2013

REPOST: Christmas Quotes

Here are some Christmas-themed quotes from Diana Gabaldon's books. This has become an annual tradition on my blog. I hope you enjoy them. Merry Christmas to all of you who are celebrating this week!

1) It's hard to imagine, from our 21st-century perspective, anyone losing track of the date this close to Christmas. But Roger had a lot of other things on his mind....
"What's the occasion? For our homecoming?"

She lifted her head from his chest and gave him what he privately classified as A Look.

"For Christmas," she said.

"What?" He groped blankly, trying to count the days, but the events of the last three weeks had completely erased his mental calendar.


"Tomorrow, idiot," she said with exaggerated patience.

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 33, "Home for Christmas". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
The photo above shows 18th-century style Christmas decorations at Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia.

2) Here's a quote from one of my favorite scenes in DRUMS, when Claire comes to find Jamie in the snow:
"What if I tell you a story, instead?"

Highlanders loved stories, and Jamie was no exception.

"Oh, aye," he said, sounding much happier. "What sort of story is it?"

"A Christmas story," I said, settling myself along the curve of his body. "About a miser named Ebenezer Scrooge."

"An Englishman, I daresay?"

"Yes," I said. "Be quiet and listen."

I could see my own breath as I talked, white in the dim, cold air. The snow was falling heavily outside our shelter; when I paused in the story, I could hear the whisper of flakes against the hemlock branches, and the far-off whine of wind in the trees.

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 21, "Night on a Snowy Mountain". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
The illustration above, showing Scrooge with Marley's ghost, comes from the 1843 edition of Charles Dickens' A CHRISTMAS CAROL.

3) I think it's interesting--and rather sad--that Lord John should seek out Nessie, rather than the company of his own family, on Christmas Eve. You may recall that he brought her a box of sugar plums, like the ones pictured above.
“Aye, well, it is Christmas Eve,” she said, answering his unasked question. “Any man wi’ a home to go to’s in it.” She yawned, pulled off her nightcap, and fluffed her fingers through the wild mass of curly dark hair.

“Yet you seem to have some custom,” he observed. Distant singing came from two floors below, and the parlor had seemed well populated when he passed.

“Och, aye. The desperate ones. I leave them to Maybelle to deal with; dinna like to see them, poor creatures. Pitiful. They dinna really want a woman, the ones who come on Christmas Eve--only a fire to sit by, and folk to sit with.”

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 24, "Joyeux Noel". Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
4) The next quote is a reminder that Christmas was viewed differently back then than we think of it today. But of course many of today's Christmas traditions date from the 19th century or later:
Catholic as many of them were--and nominally Christian as they all were--Highland Scots regarded Christmas primarily as a religious observance, rather than a major festive occasion. Lacking priest or minister, the day was spent much like a Sunday, though with a particularly lavish meal to mark the occasion, and the exchange of small gifts.

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 34, "Charms". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.) 

5) Speaking of Christmas traditions, here's one, from THE SCOTTISH PRISONER:
They’d brought down the Yule log to the house that afternoon, all the household taking part, the women bundled to the eyebrows, the men ruddy, flushed with the labor, staggering, singing, dragging the monstrous log with ropes, its rough skin packed with snow, a great furrow left where it passed, the snow plowed high on either side.

(From THE SCOTTISH PRISONER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 43, "Succession". Copyright© 2011 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

6) And what would the holidays be without sweets? <g> Check out Outlander Kitchen's recipe for molasses toffee, as described in this scene from THE FIERY CROSS:
With a certain amount of forethought, Mrs. Bug, Brianna, Marsali, Lizzie, and I had made up an enormous quantity of molasses toffee, which we had distributed as a Christmas treat to all the children within earshot.  Whatever it might do to their teeth, it had the beneficial effect of gluing their mouths shut for long periods, and in consequence, the adults had enjoyed a peaceful Christmas.

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 34, "Charms". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
7) Quakers don't have any special Christmas celebrations, but there's no denying that Denny and Rachel Hunter found Christmas, 1777, a particularly memorable occasion, thanks to Dottie!
"Well, that is odd,” Rachel said, turning to look first at her brother, and then at the small clock that graced their rooms. “Who goes a-visiting at nine o’clock on Christmas night? It cannot be a Friend, surely?” For Friends did not keep Christmas and would find the feast no bar to travel, but the Hunters had no connections--not yet--with the Friends of any Philadelphia meeting.

A thump of footsteps on the staircase prevented Denzell’s reply, and an instant later the door of the room burst open. The fur-clad woman stood on the threshold, white as her furs.

“Denny?” she said in a strangled voice.

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 86, "Valley Forge". Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

8) I love this quote, even though things didn't turn out the way Roger had expected. (The photo above, by krbnah on Flickr, shows Inverness at Christmas, 2009.)
She'd wanted to go to the Christmas Eve services. After that...

After that, he would ask her, make it formal. She would say yes, he knew. And then...

Why, then, they would come home, to a house dark and private. With themselves alone, on a night of sacrament and secret, with love newly come into the world. And he would lift her in his arms and carry her upstairs, on a night when virginity's sacrifice was no loss of purity, but rather the birth of everlasting joy.

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 17, "Home for the Holidays". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Wishing all of you the best in this holiday season!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

A giftie from Diana!

Diana Gabaldon sent me this lovely gift basket of dates from the Sphinx Date Co. in Scottsdale, AZ, where she lives. Wasn't that sweet of her?

The card reads, "Dear Karen, Happy Holidays! (And thanks for everything!)"

The dates look yummy and I'm sure I'll enjoy them very much. <g>

Thank you, Diana!! And Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Friday Fun Facts - 12/20/2013

Here are this week's Friday Fun Facts about Diana Gabaldon's books.

Regency Syllabub

1) A syllabub was a popular drink in the 18th century, made from milk or cream mixed with sweetened wine or cider. (Photo above is by LearningLark, on Flickr.)
"There's still the problem of how the ground glass was administered. Do you know what Betty was given to eat or drink, Ulysses?"

A frown rippled over the butler's face, like a stone thrown into dark water.

"Dr. Fentiman ordered her a syllabub," he said slowly. "And a bit of porridge, if she were awake enough to swallow. I made up the syllabub myself, and gave it to Mariah to take up to her. I gave the order for porridge to the cook, but I do not know whether Betty ate it, or who might have carried it."

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 55, "Deductions". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)   

Here's a recipe for syllabub from THE LONDON AND COUNTRY COOK, published in 1749 by Charles Carter:
Take a quart of thick cream, and half a pint of sack, the juice of two Seville oranges, or lemons; grate in the peel of two lemons; half a pound of double-refined sugar, pour it into a broad earthen pan, and whisk it well; but first sweeten some red wine, or sack, and fill your glasses as full as you chuse; then as the froth rises take it off with a spoon, and lay it carefully into your glasses, till they are as full as it will hold.
You can find recipes here and here, in case you want to try this yourself.  According to various historical sources, a traditional method for making a syllabub involved milking a cow directly into a jug of cider (!)  For more about the history of syllabubs, look here.

2) I had never heard of a coracle before I read OUTLANDER:
There were even a few sailboats visible, far up the loch. Though when one drew near, I saw it was a coracle, a rough half-shell of tanned leather on a frame, not the sleek wooden shape I was used to. 

(From OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 19, "The Waterhorse". Copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)   
Coracle from behind

This photo, by Irenicrhonda on Flickr, gives a good idea of the size of the typical coracle. According to this site,
Coracles are small, keel-less boats, traditionally made as a basketwork frame, covered with an animal hide. There is evidence in cave paintings of them being in use from the early Bronze Age, and perhaps as far back as the Ice Age.

Modern coracles tend to be built nowadays with sawn or hand-clefted laths and covered with canvas or calico, or synthetic fabric and waterproofed with pitch or bitumen paint. They can still be seen as regular working boats for transportation or fishing in many countries including Vietnam, Tibet, India, Iraq and China.
Coracles are lightweight enough that a fisherman can carry one on his back.  Here's a collection of coracle photos from the National Coracle Centre in Cenarth Falls, Wales.

3) This is a Revolutionary-era brazier from Morristown National Historic Park, New Jersey.
There was no hearth in the study; only a small brazier that we used for heat. It was burning now in the corner, and Jamie rose, picked up a stack of letters, and began to feed them to the fire, one by one.

I had a sudden rush of déjà vu, and saw him standing by the hearth in the drawing room of his cousin Jared's house in Paris, feeding letters to the fire. The stolen letters of Jacobite conspirators, rising in white puffs of smoke, the gathering clouds of a storm long past. 

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 76, "Dangerous Correspondence". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

This video shows a similar type of brazier.  I was surprised to see how small it is, but it makes sense that a brazier used in an army encampment would need to be small enough to be portable.

Orang Utan (Pongo pygmaeus)

4) This photo shows what a Bornean orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) looks like. (Photo credit: mahbobyusof, on Flickr.)
"I can’t imagine what you’d look like with a full beard. I’ve only seen you in the stubbly stage.”

He smiled on one side of his mouth, drawing the other up as he scraped under the high, broad cheekbone on that side.

“Next time we’re invited to Versailles, Sassenach, I’ll ask if we may visit the Royal zoo. Louis has a creature there that one of his sea-captains brought him from Borneo, called an orang-utan. Ever seen one?”

“Yes,” I said, “the zoo in London had a pair before the war.”

“Then you’ll know what I look like in a beard,” he said, smiling at me as he finished his shave with a careful negotiation of the curve of his chin. “Scraggly and moth-eaten. Rather like the Vicomte Marigny,” he added, “only red."

(From DRAGONFLY IN AMBER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 15, "In Which Music Plays a Part". Copyright© 1992 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
According to Wikipedia,
The Bornean orangutan is the third-heaviest living primate after the two species of gorilla, and the largest truly arboreal (or tree-dwelling) animal alive today.
For more about orangutans, look here and here.

5) Here's a video of MacPherson's Rant, performed by the Corries.  (The song is also known as "MacPherson's Lament".)
She didn't know whether Roger had seen her momentary distress, but he abandoned the dangerous territory of the Jacobites and went into "MacPherson's Lament," sung with no more than an occasional touch of the strings. The woman next to Brianna let out a long sigh and looked doe-eyed at the stage.

"Sae rantingly, sae wantonly, sae dauntingly gaed he,
He played a tune and he danced it roond...alow the gallows tree!"

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 4, "A Blast from the Past". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
The lyrics are here.

Jamie MacPherson was a real historical figure, executed in Banff, Scotland, in 1700. For more information about the historical background of the song, look here.

I hope you enjoyed these Friday Fun Facts! Look here to see all of my Friday Fun Facts blog posts, and please come back next week for more!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

What I'd like to see on the OUTLANDER TV series

Ron Moore's wife, Terry, who is one of the costume designers on the OUTLANDER TV series, asked the following questions on Twitter yesterday:

"Who are you, and what do you want to see? What is important to you?"

This is my answer to those questions.

My name is Karen Henry. I discovered the OUTLANDER books in 2006, and since 2008 I've been Section Leader (aka "chief bumblebee-herder") of the Diana Gabaldon folder on the Compuserve Books and Writers Community, which is the online forum where Diana hangs out.  I also have a blog, Outlandish Observations.

What would I like to see in the TV series?

1) Scripts that preserve the spirit of the original story, even if some scenes are cut or altered for dramatic effect.  I don't mind if they make small changes to the dialogue or characters, as long as they keep most of the Good Stuff intact.

2) Humor. This is such a big part of the appeal of the books, and I hope it comes across on-screen (both in the scripts, and in the actors' performances).  From what I've seen, Sam Heughan seems to share Jamie's sense of humor, which is a good sign.

3) Scottish scenery.  Diana's descriptions are so vivid, but seeing the real thing will be even better, I'm sure.  When I visited Scotland for the first time in 2012, we went to Glencoe.  Standing at the bottom of that valley with the high hills surrounding it on all sides, the landscape a more vivid green than anything I'd ever seen before in my life, and the mist on the mountains in the distance, I could easily imagine Jamie and Claire riding on horseback down one of those hills.  My thought at the time was that still photography simply couldn't do it justice.  I'm really looking forward to seeing places like that in the TV series.

4) Period costumes.  I'm not an expert on historical costuming by any means, but I have always enjoyed "costume dramas" in the movies or on TV, and I'm looking forward to seeing what you come up with.

5) The relationships between the characters.  And I don't mean only the sex scenes. :-)  I want to see Jamie and Claire's eyes light up when they look at each other. And I'm really looking forward to seeing some of the supporting characters, like Colum, Dougal, and Murtagh.

6) Authentic Scottish accents. :-)

7) The scene in the cottage where J&C meet for the first time.  The wedding, and the wedding night.  The "wife-beating" scene.  The oath-taking in the Hall.  The scene where Jamie appears in the window of Randall's office with an empty gun.  The witch-trial, and the whole sequence afterward when J&C go to Craigh na Dun and Claire makes her decision to stay.  Jenny and Ian at Lallybroch.  Claire vs. the wolf.  Enough of the Wentworth scenes to give us a sense of what Jamie went through, without being so horrific as to be unwatchable.

Many thanks to the whole OUTLANDER production team for being so willing to listen to what the fans think.  We really appreciate it!  Ron's public comments, in particular, have been very reassuring to me, speaking as someone who was very much afraid that STARZ would mangle the storyline or change the characters beyond recognition.  I am no longer worried about that.  From what I've seen so far, everyone involved is doing a wonderful job, and I'm very excited about the series!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Looking ahead to 2014!

I'm so excited about the coming year....2014 is going to be AMAZING!!  So much for OUTLANDER fans to look forward to!

Hope you like this graphic!  If you want to share it on Pinterest, the pin is here