Friday, December 19, 2014

New OUTLANDER trailer!

Here's the latest trailer for the second half of Season 1 of the OUTLANDER TV series, featuring Sam Heughan, Caitriona Balfe, and Graham McTavish.

I'm not sure if this video will work outside the US, but if it doesn't, try this instead.

Friday Fun Facts - 12/19/2014

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

1) Pomanders made from oranges studded with cloves have been used for centuries, both as a natural air freshener and as holiday decoration. (Photo credit: SarahVictoriaMarks, on Flickr.)  Lord John was obviously quite familiar with them:
As he followed Stephan from the coach, he caught the scent of von Namtzen’s cologne, something faint and spicy--cloves, he thought, and was absurdly reminded of Christmas, and oranges studded thick with cloves, the smell festive in the house.

(From THE SCOTTISH PRISONER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 9, "Eros Rising". Copyright© 2011 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
If you'd like to try making your own, look here or here.

2) This 15th-century painting by Andrea Montegna depicts St. Sebastian, one of the early Christian saints and martyrs, who died in the year 288. You may recall that there was a tapestry of "St. Sebastian the Human Pincushion", as Claire called him, in Jamie's room at the Abbey in OUTLANDER:
The room was close and stuffy with smoke from the brazier. The only window was covered with a heavy tapestry, one showing the execution of Saint Sebastian. I eyed the saint’s upturned face and arrow-punctured torso, wondering afresh at the mentality of the person who had chosen this particular decoration for a sickroom.

Indifferently rendered as it was, the tapestry was of heavy silk and wool, and excluded all but the strongest drafts. I lifted the lower edge and flapped it, urging the charcoal smoke out through the stone arch. The cold, damp air that streamed in was refreshing, and did something to calm the throbbing that had started in my temples as I stared into the reflecting water, remembering.

(From OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 39, "To Ransom a Man's Soul". Copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
I found an interesting bit of trivia here that might answer Claire's question about why the monks chose to put the tapestry of St. Sebastian there:
During the 14th century, the random nature of infection with the Black Death caused people to liken the plague to their villages being shot by an army of nature’s archers. In desperation, they prayed for the intercession of a saint associated with archers, and Saint Sebastian became associated with the plague.
For more about Saint Sebastian, look here.

3) This marble bust from the 2nd century AD shows what a Phrygian cap looks like. (Photo from Wikipedia.)
After walking for an hour or so, [Lord John] found a sheltered spot among the roots of an enormous pine tree and, taking out the knife, hacked off his hair as best he could. He stuffed the shorn locks well back under a root, rubbed his hands in the dirt, and then applied them vigorously to hair and face before donning his Phrygian cap.

Thus suitably concealed, he heaped a thick blanket of fallen dry needles over himself, curled up, and went to sleep to the sound of pattering rain in the trees above, once more a free man.

(From WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 17, "Freedom!". Copyright© 2014 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.) 
I didn't know what a Phrygian cap was before I read MOHB, and I was fascinated to see how widespread its use was in the late 18th century, particularly in America and France, as a symbol of liberty. Look closely at the official seals of the United States Senate and the Department of the Army, for example.

This type of cap, known as the "bonnet rouge", was ubiquitous during the French Revolution. This 1792 cartoon shows Louis XVI of France wearing a Phrygian cap. (Click on the image for a bigger view.) Look here and here for more examples.

4) I had never heard of amaranthus before I read WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD. (Photo credit: monetmama, on Flickr.)  Isn't it beautiful?
"What sort of name is Amaranthus, may I ask?”

She swallowed, blinked, and sat down, clutching the baby.

“It’s a flower,” she said, sounding rather dazed. “My grandfather’s a botanist. It could have been worse,” she added more sharply, seeing John smile. “It might have been Ampelopsis or Petunia.”

“Amaranthus is a very beautiful name, my dear--if I may call you so?” Hal said, with grave courtesy.

(From WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 135, "Amaranthus". Copyright© 2014 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

The ornamental variety shown above, Amaranthus caudatus, is also known as "love-lies-bleeding". (Photo credit:  rayyaro, on Flickr.)

I was surprised to learn that the leaves and seeds of amaranthus are edible. From Wikipedia:
Known to the Aztecs as huauhtli, it is thought to have represented up to 80% of their caloric consumption before the conquest. Another important use of amaranth throughout Mesoamerica was to prepare ritual drinks and foods. To this day, amaranth grains are toasted much like popcorn and mixed with honey, molasses or chocolate to make a treat called alegría, meaning "joy" in Spanish.
For more information, look here.

5) "The Braes o' Killiecrankie" is a traditional Scottish song, with words by Robert Burns, commemorating the Battle of Killiecrankie in 1689, which was part of the first Jacobite Rising. Click on the video above to hear the Corries' version of "Killiecrankie".

You may recall that Roger performed this song for the people on the Ridge in THE FIERY CROSS:
He would have earned his own supper by the time he got it. He had been playing and singing for more than an hour, and the moon was rising over Black Mountain now. He paused under cover of the refrain, just long enough to grab the cup of ale set under his stool and wet his throat, then hit the new verse fresh and solid.

"I fought on land, I fought on sea,
At hame I fought my auntie, Oh!
I met the Devil and Dundee...
On the braes o' Killiecrankie-O!"

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 24, "Playing With Fire". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
You can see the lyrics in Scots and English here.

I hope you enjoyed this week's Friday Fun Facts! Look here to see all of my Friday Fun Facts blog posts.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

OUTLANDER on "Jeopardy"!

Diana Gabaldon's WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD was featured on "Jeopardy"!  (Photo credit: princesstlcw on Instagram.)

I think this is very cool! And great publicity for both the books and the TV series.  Congratulations, Diana!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

6000 followers on Facebook!

I'm celebrating a blogging milestone today: My Outlandish Observations Facebook page now has 6,000 followers!!

THANK YOU ALL!! I really appreciate your support!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Most anticipated scenes from 2nd half of Season 1

We still have a long way to go before OUTLANDER Season 1 resumes on April 4th on STARZ.  I thought it might be fun to talk about what scenes we're most looking forward to (or dreading!) in the second half of Season 1, as a way to pass the time while we wait.

* * * SPOILER WARNING!! * * * 

There are Major Spoilers from OUTLANDER (aka CROSS STITCH) below.  If you haven't finished the first book, stop right here, and come back when you're done with the book!









My personal list includes:

- The infamous scene where Jamie takes a strap to Claire, and the argument on the road between them that precedes it.
- The witch-trial, especially Jamie coming to the rescue, and Claire's revelation of where she comes from.
- Jenny and Ian at Lallybroch.
- Jamie at Wentworth, "bargaining for [Claire's] life using the only thing he had left--himself."

I am frankly dreading seeing some of the very emotionally intense scenes toward the end of Season 1 dealing with Wentworth and its aftermath.  I have a feeling (and this is just speculation on my part) that it's going to be far more horrific than I have been imagining all these years from reading the books.

What about the rest of you?  What scene(s) from OUTLANDER are you most looking forward to seeing in episodes 109-116? Do you plan to avoid the more graphic or emotionally intense scenes?

I'd like to hear what you think. Please leave a comment here or on my Outlandish Observations Facebook page.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The costumes on the OUTLANDER TV series

Terry Dresbach, costume designer for the OUTLANDER TV series, has a new blog post up, and I think it's terrific! It's a real eye-opener to those of us who are not familiar with the amount of detail involved in creating the costumes for a historical drama like OUTLANDER.

SPOILER for DRAGONFLY IN AMBER (Book 2 of the OUTLANDER series) below:








All I can say after reading this is, if buttons and shoes are this complicated, it's absolutely mind-boggling to think about what it will take to create all the exquisitely detailed period costumes they're going to need for the French-court scenes in Season 2! <g>

Diana Gabaldon radio interview TODAY at 9am PT!

Diana Gabaldon will be doing a live radio interview TODAY (Wednesday, 12/10/14) starting at 9am Pacific Time (12pm ET).

Look here for more details.

[UPDATE 12/10/2014 8:30 pm:  If you missed the show today, just click the link above to listen to the recording.]