Credit to @Heughligans for the picture

Outlandish Reflections on a Plaid Carpet Premiere

What a weekend…

Well, it’s been a few days and I’m still not down from the high of all that I experienced at the Outlander Premiere on Friday night. It’s almost hard to know where to begin, but I have heard that the beginning is a very good place to start!

First of all, for those who are a bit wary, this is not going to be a recap of the actual first episode, so those who are determined to be unspoiled on August 9th need not worry! There are some excellent episode recaps out already that have that covered. What I am going to do is give you a window into my experience. Hopefully, this will allow everyone who wasn’t able to attend to feel at least a part of the excitement.

Tell me if you’ve heard the one about 6 women trying to get ready in a single hotel room…

That’s right, you heard me. Before we could go anywhere, it was necessary for 6 of us to get dressed, hair styled and made up. Not that easy as you might imagine. Especially as all of us had brought more than one outfit and it was necessary for each of us to try everything we brought on and get the consensus of the group on THE outfit that should be worn. Through that process, we took the time to order in a lunch as we feared—and were correct—that this might be the last meal of the evening.

Appetites dealt with, it was time to begin the shuffling required to get everyone shower, mirror and straightening iron time. Luckily, we had our own personal stylist on hand. It’s always nice to be friends with someone with red carpet experience. And while there may be no ‘Words heard on set’ tweets from Maril due to the filming hiatus for the premiere, I can report that the following words were heard in our hotel room:

Suck in…Lift your boobs….do you mind if I stick my hand here and adjust this…

And the best of all…

I usually get dinner first before I let someone do this.

But, right on time, we were tweaked, looking perfect, and all ready to go! We requested our UberXL vehicle and headed out for our special night.

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Pinch me…

I think all of us were still pinching ourselves that we were really going to the Outlander Premier as invited guests and we really had no idea what to expect.  Soon enough, however, we pulled up to the Spreckels Theater to join a line of others waiting for the Will Call lines to open. Coincidentally, a band of kilted men came by to help us pass the time. I mean, really, what could be more fun and appropriate! I couldn’t resist having my picture taken with them and was given an Outlander bandana of my very own.

I won’t show a picture, but I was amazed to find that even two of Diana Gabaldon’s children were waiting in line behind us. I figure they are in store for a pretty interesting evening since I’ve heard Diana say that they have never read her books as, in the words of one daughter, “I don’t want to read sex scenes written by my mother.” However,  it doesn’t surprise me at all that Twitter0c2dc2ethey didn’t expect any special treatment.

Pretty soon it was 6:30 and the Will Call line began moving quickly. I made very sure that I stuck close to the lucky girl who actually won the tickets as I knew my +1 status was dependent on her!

Once we had our tickets in hand, we walked behind the Step and Repeat Backdrop and Plaid Carpet the stars would soon walk and entered the atrium of the theater. It was a wonderland of trees, stones and kilted men. I truly felt I was walking through the trees at Craigh na Dun. Once in the theater lobby, we were able to peruse a selection of blue vases—a la Claire’s shopping in Inverness.

I can’t begin to list everyone I met from the Outlander Twitter and Facebook worlds. As with all Outlander-related events, meeting people in person that you normally only tweet and Facebook message with is one of the best parts of the evening.  I quickly ducked into the actual theater for a moment to see where my seat was. Turns out it was in the Orchestra level in Row S. This was one of the last rows in that level of the theater, but the venue was so small and intimate, I was sure I would have no problems seeing anything on stage.

Keeping my eyes wide open…

I then went back out to the atrium to people watch as others arrived.  I had the immense privilege of speaking with several key executives including Chris Parnell (Sony) and Karen Bailey (Starz). However, the highlight by far was the chance to speak with Bear McCreary. He graciously stopped and spoke with me for three or four minutes. I wish I could remember in more detail what he said—or what I said for that matter. I do remember telling him how much I admired his use of instrumentation in his work and he said how amazed he was at all of the support from Outlanders so far. I’m also crushed that I didn’t remember to have someone take my picture with him but I did get some video of him with Kathy. I also spotted Zac McGowan, Luke Arnold and Jessica Parker Kennedy from Starz’s Black Sails walking through as well. Last but not least, I also had the opportunity to speak briefly with Jolie Lash of Access Hollywood. She is the one who has put together some of the funniest cast interview filmed during her set visit to Scotland back in February, including the “Sexiest Gaelic Words” and “What is it about a man in a kilt” videos.

At this point, the greeters started clearing the lobby for the big arrivals. One of these days I’m going to learn that sometimes it doesn’t pay to always follow instructions, but alas this wasn’t the day, so I took my seat.  Others who didn’t follow directions got some great pictures. As I stated earlier, there are no bad seats in this theater.

It really starts to get real or should that be reel…

I had just settled in my seat when I noticed a bit of a buzz. Ushers were escorting the cast to seats among the crowd in the Orchestra level. I would never have expected that to happen. I managed to get some video of them but I apologize for the quality and the sound as I was just a bit excited.

First up was Lotte Verbeek (Geilis Duncan).

Next, crowd favorite Graham McTavish (Dougal MacKenzie)

And entering to a great ovation, author Diana Gabaldon along with Co-executive Producer Maril Davis.

Also to the delight of the crowd, Sam Heughan (Jamie Fraser) and Caitriona Balfe (Claire Randall) were next. After Sam was seated, I realized I had a perfect view of his face in profile from less than 20 feet away. Never in my wildest imaginings did I think I would be able to see Sam out of the corner of my eye while watching Outlander. I could actually see during the screening which scenes he paid close attention to and which were the ones where he grabbed his water bottle.

And last, but most definitely not least, one of my personal favorites, Tobias Menzies (Frank/Black Jack Randall).

Once everyone was seated, the house lights dimmed and out stepped Bear McCreary to give a live performance prior to the screening. He began with a couple of traditional Scottish folk songs: The haunting ballad Loch Lomond and then a fiddle tunes “Clean Pease Strae” and “Comin’ Through the Rye.” Next, was the very first live performance of the theme for Jamie and Claire that Bear wrote especially for the show. It was so haunting and evocative, I swear I could feel the wind from the moor and smell the heather. Lastly, Bear’s wife Raya Yarbrough took the stage to perform the song from the Outlander opening title sequence—a modified version of The Skye Boat Song. It literally gave me chills. I took a few short video clips but you will have to excuse my inability to keep quiet.

Loch Lomond -

“Clean Pease Strae” and “Comin’ Through the Rye”

Jamie and Claire’s Theme

I am also posting a video that someone else took of the entire performance and posted on YouTube. The video quality isn’t wonderful but the sound is pretty good.

Everything I thought it could be and so much more…

Once the live performance was over,  the curtain lifted and the credits started to roll. You could hear cheers and smatters of applause as names we know and already love flashed on the screen. Costume Designer Terry Dresbach received applause and cheers but the largest ovation by far was when Diana’s name was displayed. Thankfully for those not able to attend, Starz has released the opening title sequence on YouTube. Prepare to be amazed by the haunting vignettes and music. I will warn you that it is very addictive though. I’ve been finding myself singing the song for two days now.

I promised no spoilers for the episode content and I will hold by that. If you are interested in reading more about the actual episode, I highly recommend you read Candida’s A True Fan’s Review of Outlander Episode #101: Sassenach. She does a brilliant job and I understand the review has already been read and appreciated by those at the highest levels. As for my own reaction, I honestly can’t think of anything I would have changed. There were favorite lines, surprises, passion, action and humor. All of the things long time fans have appreciated about Outlander since 1991. Perhaps the best summary of my feelings is this tweet I sent to Maril Davis (@TallShipProds).

But wait, there’s more…

Not only did we get to be among the first to see a screening of the premier episode of Outlander, but there was also a moderated panel discussion afterwards. Even though jet lagged and tired from a day full of press interviews and a ComicCon panel discussion, the discussion among the participants was enjoyable and insightful. There were some great moments, especially when cheers went up for Gàidhlig tutor Àdhamh Ò Broin. Also, I think Ron Moore gave the best summary of Outlander Season 1 ever. I predict that the phrase “and that doesn’t go so well” will become a new catch phrase among Outlanders everywhere.

Here is a video released by Starz of the entire Q&A panel discussion.

The Clock Strikes Midnight

All too soon, the Q&A session was over and I knew my magical evening was drawing to a close. After lingering a bit in the lobby, trying to make the evening last as long as possible and speaking to friends, we finally exited the theater to the sidewalk outside. There we were privileged to have the opportunity to speak for quite a while with Karen Bailey, Sr. Vice President for Original Programming with Starz, and her husband, Palmer. It was great to hear some interesting tidbits about things that may be coming up for Starz and its productions.

Waving goodbye to Karen who was off to another event, I and the rest of my party adjourned to the nearby Westin hotel for a drink, some nibbles and the chance to discuss the night’s events. I sent a few congratulatory tweets to those I knew had made such wonderful contributions to the production including Terry Dresbach and Àdhamh Ó Broin.

Finally, even drinks and food couldn’t prolong the evening any longer. We hopped in our UberXL and made the journey back to Kearny Mesa, a tired but thoroughly pleased party. Sadly our group of six wonderful ladies had to split up and go our separate ways, but we have wonderful memories we will share forever. Thank you so much to Marisa, Candida, Darcy, Jen, and Kathy for sharing this fantastical evening.

Watch out world. Outlander is coming!

Credits to @Heughligans (Plaid Carpet picture) and @Candida_LN (Forest Lobby picture)

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GreatScot! is in San Diego for the Outlander series premiere – Day One

Wait a minute…weren’t you just in Canada?

Just a quick note to let everyone know that GreatScot! is in San Diego! For those of you wondering what happened with the rest of my vacation trip in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, never fear—I will eventually get those posts completed. I have lots of great pictures and stories to recount.  However, the Outlander Premiere is rightly interrupting all previously scheduled programming.

The trip began this morning with me meeting Tricia Leedom, Heughligan, in the gate area of the Atlanta Airport. Sorry there aren’t any pictures of this meetup, but I’m pretty sure we never stopped talking from the point I arrived until the gate agent started boarding the plane. I never even thought to take a picture.

Once I boarded, I made the now obligatory tweet to Terry Dresbach with the shoe picture.

For those who may not know, Terry began the tradition of taking pictures of her shoes almost a year ago when this journey began. I now feel obliged to do the same every time I begin an Outlander related journey and it always makes me smile. Oh, the places these shoes have been and the stories they could tell. But, then again, that’s why this blog exists.

Winging across the continent to San Diego

Once in the air, I passed the time with the inflight Internet service making sure that I didn’t miss any of the great pics coming from the lucky ComicCon attendees. I also managed to snap a couple of pictures as we crossed the desert east of San Diego.

Once I had deplaned, I hung around in baggage claim waiting for my companion for this weekend’s adventure. Soon enough, she had also arrived and we made our way to a taxi for the ride to our hotel. Thanks to the craziness that is ComicCon in San Diego and the exorbitant price of downtown hotel rooms, we are staying about 10 miles north of the downtown area—where I can use hotel points for a no cost stay. Nothing beats free! Luckily, I have the Uber app on my phone to help us get around economically.

Fish Tacos, Calamari and Mussels…oh my!

Once we settled into our hotel, our thoughts quite naturally turned to food as neither of us had eaten much all day.  We decided to head downtown to the Gaslamp District for some food, so I put my trust Uber app to use and within 4 minutes Scott had shown up to take us downtown. Turns out Scott was a retired TWA airline pilot who drives for Uber to stay out of his wife’s hair. She told him he had to stop hanging around the house so much after he ate some wine and cheese destined for his wife’s book club. And, get this, the book that was going to be discussed at that meeting was A Breath of Snow and Ashes. You just can’t ever get too far from an Outlander reference, can you? I’m sure his wife is going to be very jealous when he tells her of the two girls he carted around today who are going to the premiere tomorrow evening.

Another strong point in Scott’s favor is that he pointed us to the Bay Park Fish Company for their 3-6 pm Happy Hour. Marisa and I gorged ourselves on Fish tacos with Mahi Mahi, Mussels steamed in coconut milk and lemongrass, as well as Kung Pao calamari. Everything was splendid. Scott even hung around the area so he would be available to take us back to the hotel to rest up before a night on the town. Can’t be out too late though! Lots to do tomorrow and we’ll need to be well rested.

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The Big Day is coming…

Tomorrow is D-day! I’ll catch you up on any of tonight’s activities worth mentioning and have extensive coverage of all the events at the Outlander Premiere. People keep asking me what I’m looking forward to most. Obviously, I’m very excited to actually see the first episode and all of the cast plus Ron and Diana. But even more than that, I think I’m most looking forward to is the live performance by Bear McCreary of some of the music for the Outlander series.

For those of you who may not have seen it, Bear recently published a piece on his website titled “Outlander Fans’ Guide to My Music” where he details some of the steps in his life and career that have led him to this project. It is obvious from reading it that he truly has a passion for the music of the era Outlander encompasses. I can’t wait to hear more from him as he has promised as many blog posts during the Outlander season as living with a newborn baby will allow.

Stay tuned. I have a feeling things are going to be verra exciting tomorrow!

View of Centre Hallway House

I climbed a hill and lost 200 years but where is Jamie?

Mea culpa…

Hmm. Maybe I should have thought twice about committing to writing blog posts while I was on vacation.  I seem to be getting a bit lax about deadlines as the vacation progresses. I guess it’s a good thing no one enforces the deadlines but me. :-)

Anyway, when last we met I was looking forward to visiting The Highland Village Museum (An Clachan Gàidhealach) at Iona in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. I am happy to report that I had a spectacular visit on a beautiful sunny day last week. The Village is spread across a hill overlooking the great Bras d’Or inland sea but the views before you even enter the village proper are just spectacular. I was also presented with immediate opportunities to test my Gàidhlig comprehension (I give myself a B+).

A Journey Begins…

Once I paid for my admission ticket, I began my journey through the history of Cape Breton settlement. There weren’t any stones but I still managed to lose over 200 years as I climbed the tree-shaded path up the hill. I wonder if I will find Jamie?

The first habitation on my tour is a Black House—or An Taigh Dubh in Gàidhlig. This is the type of dwelling that many Scottish emigrants left in Scotland when they moved across the Atlantic to Nova Scotia. As I stepped into the hazy darkness of the single room lit only by a peat fire, I was greeted by it’s resident—a shepherd who tended his lordship’s flocks. He apologized for the clutter, as he was in the final stages of preparing to move across the Great Sea to join his wife and children who had already left. He was very interested to hear if I had any first-hand information about the new land of Nova Scotia. I tried to channel my best inner Claire (a character in Outlander for the uninitiated) and make a few comments without prophesying like Cassandra. ;-)

A trifle gratefully, I made my escape from the Black House and move further up the hill toward the first habitations of the Scots in the new world of Cape Breton.

An alien land…

Continuing up the hill, I paused to speak to some other new residents—Heiland Coos!

Once passed the coos, I entered the realm of the first Scots in Nova Scotia. The first thing the Scots had to do when they arrived was clear the great forests that covered their new home. As those of you who are familiar with the Scottish Highlands may realize, this was quite a change from the deforested landscape most of them had left. In fact, many of them had only carried a single axe head on their voyage and had to craft a handle for that before it could even be used.

However, once they did manage to get some trees felled, they were able to build dwellings for themselves and their animals. Entering the log cabin, I was greeted by a frontierswoman—in Gaelic!  I answered her ‘Ciamar a tha sibh?’ with ‘Glè mhath.’ I fancy she was a bit surprised but I don’t think even I could butcher the pronunciation of that too badly. Pleasantries exchanged, she was happy to show me around her humble home.

Prosperity beckons…

Exiting the Log Cabin (Taigh-logaichean), I made my way forward in time to the house of a slightly more prosperous farmer who owned a center-chimney house. This dwelling was a vast improvement over the log cabin. It had painted walls, a hardwood floor and actual partitioned rooms—all clustered around a central fireplace that provided not only for cooking but also the heat for the entire house. Also, many of the rooms served more than one function. You will note in one of the pictures below that the living room is set up for a milling frolic where they waulk the wool to make the cloth softer and more durable. An interesting note about waulking wool—in Scotland waulking was done exclusively by women but in Nova Scotia it was done by women and men. Personally, I think the men just didn’t want to be left out of the singing and gossiping that were part of any Cape Breton function. For all you Outlander fans, I have heard that there may be a waulking scene in Outlander!

After leaving the previous house, I ventured into the church that has served the community for hundreds of years. One of the things I have noticed since I first began coming to Cape Breton almost 15 years ago, is that every community seems to have set aside the piece of land with the best view for their church, and this was no exception.

Leaving the church situated on the high ground, I descended into a Cape Breton village of roughly the 19th century time period. I stopped to peek into a Centre Hallway house from about 1865 and admired the brand new cook-stove. Such a time-saver for the farmer’s wife.

Tentative steps…

After the 1865 house, I walked past the Village School and then stepped into a turn-of-the-century General Store. This is where I got very brave. Not only did I answer the Storekeeper’s ‘Ciamar a tha sibh’ query with ‘Glè mhath,’ but I even ventured a further comment on the weather—’Tha e glè briagh an-diugh!’  Smugly I thought to myself—Àdham would be so proud—unfortunately, however, the storekeeper took this to mean I spoke Gaelic fluently and unleashed a torrent of Gaelic at me. Luckily, she quickly interpreted my panicked deer-in-the-headlights look correctly and switched back to English. We did have a lovely conversation though about how I came to speak even a little Gaelic and I took the opportunity to tell her about a new upcoming television series called Outlander. ;-)

I finally found Jamie…

Next up on my path through the village was the Blacksmith’s Shop. And guess what!! I finally found Jamie. Ok, so maybe he’s not a six-foot four-inch Highland Scot with red hair, but he does speak Gaelic and has a useful skill! I took a few pictures and a quick video of him at work making nails. (And just maybe had a brief flashback to a certain scene in MOBY).

The last stop on my tour of the Highland Village Museum was a turn of the 20th century house. These are the types of houses still much in evidence in many places on Cape Breton. In this house, modern appliances such as stoves, washing machines and ice cream churns are starting to be seen. As I concluded my tour, I stopped to read the signboard about the 21st century Gaels in Cape Breton and also to make a purchase in the gift shop. I’ve never yet experienced anything easy about Gaelic but I’m hopeful this little book will live up to its cover.

I hope you’ve enjoyed taking this tour through the Cape Breton Highland Village museum with me. If you are ever in Cape Breton—and I sincerely hope you will visit—be sure to stop by. You can find all the details about planning a visit at their website: Highland Village Museum

Final note…

I also wanted to take a moment to congratulate Linda Schultz (@lsdragonfly1) on winning the first ever GreatScot! giveaway. I know that the signed first edition copy of Written in My Own Heart’s Blood and the Outlander poster will have a wonderful home—just as soon as I’m home long enough to mail it!

Stay tuned for the next post all about my visit to the Gaelic College (Colaisde na Gàidhlig) where I see a man about a kilt, observe a waulking demonstration and listen to some fine fiddling from a former Premier of Nova Scotia!

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How to Speak Outlander Lesson 12: Tha Gaol Agam Ort, Cape Breton and the Giveaway

With anticipation of the Outlander premier episode on August 9th reaching fever pitch, I have only just now realized that the series beginning will also mark the end of some of our beloved pre-show traditions. Starz has called this to our attention with the release of the final ‘How to Speak Outlander’ video. However, if this series of videos featuring Àdhamh, Sam and others has to end, what a way to go out! I predict the ringtones and notifications of Outlanders worldwide are changing right now.

How to Speak Outlander Lesson 12: Tha Gaol Agam Ort

Wow! As final episodes go, this one is a keeper. Who among us hasn’t wanted to hear ‘my love is upon you’ from Jamie Fraser?  I think Sam must have a secret though, there’s a definite gleam in his eye at the end of this video. I wonder how long he’ll keep it? Until August 9th maybe?

Meanwhile in Cape Breton…

I have been having tons of fun in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. So far I have attended a Celtic square dance and made a visit to the Highland Village museum at Iona.  I promise that I am working on a blog post that will even have videos, but I have to find some better Internet connectivity before I can upload them! In the meantime, here are some quick pictures to tide you over.

And don’t forget…

Only 4 more days to enter the first ever GreatScot! giveaway. Click here to enter!

Cabot Trail

The next best thing to Scotland…Cape Breton, Nova Scotia (oh, and the Outlander Premiere)

In my mind, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia is the next best thing to Scotland and that’s where I’ll be for the next couple of weeks. Although GreatScot! blog posts may be a little more infrequent than usual, rest assured that I will keeping an eye out for interesting tidbits to post from time to time during my vacation.

For those who may not be familiar with Cape Breton Island, it is an island at the northern tip of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. As it was largely settled by Highland Scots emigrants, Cape Breton has a rich Gàidhlig history and many aspects of that culture are still evident today. The Celtic musical tradition is especially strong and there are still places where Gàidhlig is routinely spoken. I’m looking forward to the chance to practice my limited Gàidhlig vocabulary and see if anyone can understand me.

Here are a few pictures I took from my trip last year and a video from a music festival that I attended at Colaisde na Gàidhlig (The Gaelic College).

By the way, I found out yesterday that I am indeed attending the Outlander Premiere in San Diego on July 25, so readers can definitely look forward to Great Scot! blog posts covering the event. I’m very excited to be meeting more Outlanders and having the chance to see both the first Outlander episode and attend the Q&A panel with Ron, Diana, Sam, Caitriona, Tobias, Graham and Lotte.

Stay tuned, exciting times ahead!

In the meantime, don’t forget to enter the inaugural GreatScot! giveaway. Click here to enter.